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« Tip jar | Main | Getting out of hand again »
Saturday
Feb272010

How to report climate change after Climategate?

These are notes taken from a discussion meeting at Oxford University on 26th February 2010 and sent to me by reader, Simon Anthony. I think they are extremely interesting.

Question and answer format featuring environmental correspondents Richard Black (BBC), Fiona Harvey (FT), David Adam (Guardian) and Ben Jackson (Sun) and chaired by Fiona Fox, director of the Science Media Centre.

(Abbreviations: CG = Climategate; CC = Climate change; CH = Copenhagen meeting)

FF: Has the press done a disservice to the public in reporting CG?  Has media a responsibility to make the public “think the right way”?

DA: I don’t feel I have to tell the public “how to think”.  We ask questions of experts, report their answers and the evidence.  On balance MMGW is correct; the remaining issues concern which policies are right in response.  People often confuse the reality of the science with policy choices.

RB: Most media have to follow their audience or go bust, the BBC less so, but still constrained.  We present things as they are, with all their complexity and diversity.  We don’t tell people how to think.

FH: I don’t feel responsible to public opinion but only to our readers.  We present facts objectively to inform readers for eg investment decisions.  We aim for rock solid accuracy and present all sides of the argument with no spin.  People have taken advantage of CG to present a sceptical p-o-v.  We have to record that sceptical p-o-v but be careful to stick to the mainstream.

BJ: Twenty years ago the Sun would have been sceptical because CC is hard to prove; nowadays we let people have the benefit of the doubt because we’re more interested in where it’s all going.  The Sun will channel both sides of the argument.  We have little expertise and we aren’t authoritative.  It’s not only consensus scientists but sceptics who unhappy with media.

FF: So it wasn’t the media’s fault… Was the media slow to respond to the various …gates?

DA: We had a baby just after release of emails so I was on parental leave through December.  I got a phone call about potential big story with sceptics claiming there was trick to hide the decline in temperature.  We had to be careful before reporting; I knew about the on-going Climate Audit – UEA “spat”.  The following week while the blogosphere was jumping and down we discussed what to do.  It’s lonely waiting while the rest of media is doing a story and you’re not (only lonelier the other way round).   We couldn’t pretend it wasn’t happening but there was a danger in concentrating on only some of emails as this would create the illusion of controversy.  I used to think sceptics were bad and mad but now the bad people (lobbyists for fossil fuel industries) had gone, leaving only the mad.  We published a string of articles in late Jan, early Feb showing that people had misinterpreted the emails as casting doubt on CC.  The collapse of CH was the perfect time for the emails to get coverage.

RH: We’d have needed a serious amount of time to properly analyse the emails.  It happened at a busy time (CH).  The people who responded quickly had only read three emails and decided to label the event CG.  In retrospect we should have got stuck into the emails right away (in passing, we should also have checked the last IPCC report) but our editor wouldn’t have given staff the time needed.  The BBC was attacked on CG coverage because it’s thought to have a political agenda.  Nonetheless I had a Glaciergate article on 5th Dec.

FH: We had no time to authenticate the emails before our deadlines.  We waited a few days, then the glacier stuff came along.  Editors asked why there was no FT coverage.  I wrote pieces but editors wouldn’t give space, or spiked articles.  We were also busy with CH…it does sound like excuses for weak coverage but newspapers are dysfunctional.

BJ: The Sun covered CG on 21/11.  Everyone was looking at CH but the story wouldn’t die and we were caught napping by the emails.  Analysis needed a lot of time and the Sun wasn’t going to do it.  We decided CH was more important.  We were worried during the first days of CH that the emails would take over the conference.  Pachauri was asked questions, there was a press conference with Stern in which journalists were told there were to be no CG questions, so of course all the questions were about the emails.  The attempted blocking of awkward questions indicates the approach of the climate lobby to problems.

FF: John Beddington and Mike Hulme say the media has been too hard on sceptics.  Has the media attitude contributed to the sceptical backlash?  What should scientists do differently?  I was shocked that scientists stuck to their previous stories despite the email evidence and then wouldn’t answer specific questions.  And DA has said that scientists have to “go further than the science” to win people over.

BJ: Sceptics aren’t mad people, they’re people in general – taxi drivers, not Monckton or Booker.  People are yet to be persuaded.  They aren’t stupid and respond to evidence around them – they see a cold winter and ask where is AGW?  People don’t talk to scientists – journalists have that privilege.  But scientists do get things wrong and sometimes duck questions.  We need to present the sceptical p-o-v.  Last year we just printed press releases on AGW if they came from people with the right credentials; that won’t do any longer.  People listen to Jeremy Clarkson who’s sceptical (although eventually Jeremy will come round).

FH: Scientists at first reacted disastrously to the emails, claiming the important thing was that they’d been stolen.  They didn’t understand that no one cared whether they’d been stolen or not, just as with MPs’ expenses.  I have sympathy for the scientists who couldn’t say that, say, Pachauri should resign or Phil Jones had acted badly.  Now permission has been granted to be sceptical.  People think it’s clever to be sceptical as the opposite is to be climate-gullible.

RB: I’m not surprised at the level of UK scepticism as the main impacts of CC are decades away and in other places.  The problem is poor science awareness.  We need to improve science education so people properly understand climate science.  There was some comfort in the BBC poll showing that scepticism has increased – half the respondents were aware of CG and of those, most had become less critical of CC (although this does seem a little strange, it was a small sample and might not be right).

DA: The meaning of sceptic is very specific.  It’s not taxi drivers or people who don’t want to pay higher electricity bills.  It’s someone who knows better and takes a contrary view for pathological reasons.  No journalists believe that climate science was undermined by the emails.

Audience Qs:

Q: I’m disturbed by the panel’s attitude.  Scepticism is legitimate, denialism not.  The events shouldn’t be called anything-Gate as that implied conspiracy and there was none.  Why haven’t the media found out who stole the emails and wasn’t the timing of their release interesting?

DA: We can no longer call people deniers.  We need a new term.  Some people have suggested “climate creationists”.

FH:  Sceptics were clever in choosing their name.  We do need a new name, denier won’t work because of Holocaust associations.

Q: What was the influence of the blogosphere?

RB: probably bad.

FH: I’m astonished by the viciousness of anonymous people on the internet.

Q: Did anything good come from CG?  How to move forward?

BJ: The other day a Sun driver talked to me about the Medieval Warm Period.  That wouldn’t have happened 6 months ago.  All climate science will now be tested and people will ask how strong the science really is.  There’s been a perfect storm of things going wrong – CG, CH, Met Office predictions – it could only be worse if David Attenborough had been caught in bed with Lord Monckton.

Q: How to report uncertainty in, for example, Met Office forecasts? What will persuade sceptics and deniers?

BJ: It’s curious how Met Office and WMO predictions on AGW came out in the week of CH (some audience disagreement as to whether there had been a change from their normal timetable).  It was at least bad timing for organisations that value integrity.  They should distance themselves from advocacy.  The Met Office is ahead of the science.

FH: FT readers are versed in risk and probability which are difficult to communicate in the rest of the media.  Climate scientists aren’t generally newsworthy; sceptics, IPCC problems and emails are making the news.  “Climate – guess what? Still changing” is an unlikely headline.  A short-term disaster is needed to guarantee coverage as people aren’t good at processing information about there being no ice at the poles in 30 years.  Or get David Attenborough as the front man because everyone trusts him.

RB:  I agree that a short term disaster would be effective in persuading people.

DA: Essentially no one read the IPCC report.  Climate scientists need to fight on territory the media are interested in.  Get the Royal Society to speak out or 2000 scientists to sign a petition protesting at media coverage.

BJ: A disaster won’t do it.  It needs businesses, eg Tesco, Nike, to make a big thing about going zero/low carbon.

End

Other info:

-          Workshop arranged by Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism (RISJ), the School of Geography and Environment and the Environmental Change Institute (ECI) at Oxford University, and the British Council as one of a series workshops for journalists to discuss with scientists

-          A video will be put on RI/ESI websites.

 

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Reader Comments (68)

Sigh. Perhaps they'll listen to Tom.

http://www.examiner.com/x-9111-Environmental-Policy-Examiner~y2010m2d26-Global-warming-Stonewalling-and-preaching-instead-of-communicating

Feb 27, 2010 at 3:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterChuckles

So these are some of the "top" mainstream environmental journalists? It's a while since I last read such a load of closed-minded, arrogant, incorrect, drivel. The clown from the Grauniad even managed to "spin" the definition of "sceptic".

Feb 27, 2010 at 4:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterPogo

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGHHHHHH!

So now I’m not funded by oil, I’m a mad taxi driver (no offence to taxi drivers). I’d bet there are more PhDs, MScs, BScs, BEngs and BAs held by sceptics than there are amongst all the reporters on the planet.

And the only excuse they can come up with for not reporting on Climate Gate promptly was it caught them by surprise? Well the only surprise I got was how much of the information in those emails had already been discussed at length by sceptics.

Feb 27, 2010 at 4:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

I see FH and RB are still looking for disasters; presumably because if they don't report disasters, no one will listen.

It's rather strange. They still think that their job is to persuade people rather than to just report the news. And they don't get that in doing that they cease to be disinterested parties.

Feb 27, 2010 at 4:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterTDK

I tend to think of Lysenkoism as the closest parallel to AGW, but perhaps the people who claim that the Eugenics movement is a better model are correct. The total inability of these establishment media personages to question their own assumptions, their self-certitude, and the inadequate (and pathetic) excuses for not doing their job properly all indicate an abyss of belief that no contrary fact could ever challenge. I find it hard to believe that anyone every really believed Lysenko, they must have just gone along to avoid the gulags. AGW is based on the belief that man is bad, or at least that others are bad, and that the 'good' people must take control and make things better. Yes, I guess Eugenics is a better model.

Feb 27, 2010 at 4:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterDave

Fiona Harvey is quite possibly the worst of the lot, she is completely out of her depth, and like Harrabin has become too close to her sources.

A short-term disaster is needed to guarantee coverage as people aren’t good at processing information about there being no ice at the poles in 30 years. Or get David Attenborough as the front man because everyone trusts him."

You're not in PR, love.

Feb 27, 2010 at 4:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterAndrew

It's weird how they are so hung up with making up nasty names for people on the other side "climate creationists" I wonder when they will learn? Stop trying to put down the other side by putting forward an actual scientific argument of merit rather than spin and stand behind that they could stop with the squirming name calling.

Oh wait, sorry, they would actually need some reliable science to stand behind!

Feb 27, 2010 at 4:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterJasonF

Richard Black: "The problem is poor science awareness. We need to improve science education so people properly understand climate science."

So he's still framing this as a "failure to communicate" rather than anything more fundamental; looks like he hasn't moved beyond Stage 1 yet.

Feb 27, 2010 at 4:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlex Cull

An incredible example of groupthink, in fact I almost feel sorry for them, they are all quite clearly clueless apart from, amazingly to me, the Sun reporter Ben Jackson. He seemed the only one who has the measure of what is going on - the anecdote of the taxi driver talking about the medieval warm period must indicate more of the truth then the others would be willing to consider.
David Adam is just a marvelous stereotype of the true believer, I believe he had some scientific training but he seems to have forgotten anything he may have learned, his philosophy is clearly stated here: sceptic = mad

Feb 27, 2010 at 4:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve2

It's simply astounding to hear these people speaking this way. How can they possibly believe this is just a matter of communication?

No wonder the mainstream media is dying on its feet. Why can't they see it?

Feb 27, 2010 at 5:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterWesterner

"It's worse than we thought."

Still, I like the term climate-gullible, sums them up nicely. I'd force them to read the Institute of Physics submission on Climate-gate if I could, but I doubt they'd understand the words, let alone the implications.

Feb 27, 2010 at 5:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Dunford

That must count as one of the most disgusting utterances by someone who is supposedly impartial:

'RB: I agree that a short term disaster would be effective in persuading people.'

So not only does the Beeb see its role as 'persuading people' rather than reporting what is happening, they wouldn't mind that human beings lost their lives and livelihoods (on a small, humane scale, naturally, ok, yah??) just to 'persuade' us peasants to trust Mann et all.

What a truly sickening mind.

Feb 27, 2010 at 5:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterViv Evans

The strange thing is that it is the less intellectual papers in the UK - such as the Daily Mail - that have given decent coverage to climategate. The Mail actually had a piece where they showed Mann's graph with the truncated curve, and blew it up so everyone could see the famous 'trick'!

The reporter from the Sun also seemed more open - talking about his conversation with his driver about the Medieval Warm Period!

Never mind, I have a feeling that when the truth really sinks in, we are going to have a lot of angry, influential reporters wanting the truth (I am an optimist!).

Feb 27, 2010 at 5:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Bailey

These people need new jobs. They start by saying that they only report facts, and drift into how to present "the truth" -- that is, the truth as they see it.

The discussion on the next derogatory name for climate skeptics just confirms that these people need remedial courses in journalism, or training in some other field. Taxi drivers perhaps?

Feb 27, 2010 at 5:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterPJP

Obviously it's difficult to be sure of people's intentions or to make them clear in such a brief summary but (as the writer of the above) I'm fairly certain that Fiona Harvey and Richard Black would strongly deny that they actually want a climate disaster to happen to prove the case. Their claim is likely to be more factual than wishful: that a disaster might be sufficiently dramatic to win over many current doubters.

Feb 27, 2010 at 5:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterSimon Anthony

Ans so endeth todays sermon at the Church of Global Warming.

Feb 27, 2010 at 5:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterChris S

I was there too and think this is a brilliant summary - thank you Simon. You can read the chair Fiona Fox's views on her blog: http://fionafox.blogspot.com/ - she's not posted on this debate yet, I think.

I agree with David Bailey's post - I felt that Ben Jackson (1 year as Sun's environment correspondent after being features editor) had the most balanced view among the journalists - although (because?!) the others all had a much longer track record in science or science journalism (e.g. Fiona Harvey - many awards for enviromental journalism - long career in science and technology reporting - and David Adam - PhD in chemical engineering and previous job at Nature). Ben was also less scathing about 'the public' - FH likes FT readers but was quite dismissive of anyone else ('people don't understand risk'), and as mentioned above RB complained about the low level of science understanding among the public.

For example, Ben said he was surprised that the Met Office and WMO brought out 'hottest year' forecasts just before Copenhagen - he said it made it look as though these organizations are not independent of policymakers. Climate scientists in the audience challenged him and said 'but they always publish then' but Ben was right - whether or not the predictions are normally published in December, it does not make it look as though the 'science' is independent.

I agree with Simon's last post - they did not say they wanted disasters, in fact FH said 'but that would be terrible' or some such words. DA and RB both made the point that it is very difficult to get policy agreement for such a difficult issue - a 20-30 year threat which in any case is likely to affect other places worse than the UK. RB said that people will be persuaded when the predictions start coming true (yup!).

Anyway, an interesting, if depressing, event.

Feb 27, 2010 at 5:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterDR

It's been one of the major problems with AGW - the generally abysmal quality of science journalism. The interesting question is does it still matter? A sceptical trend towards AGW seems to have established itself quite independently of MSM journalists. It's as if their brand of journalism matters much less than it once did and much less than they seem to think. In other words, their deliberations don't matter - the world has changed and continues to change quite independently of their journalistic output. As does the climate.

Feb 27, 2010 at 6:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Riordan

We seem to be getting plenty of disasters of late :( Current theories have no way of connecting these to fossil fuels.

Feb 27, 2010 at 6:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterSean Houlihane

Pft. Looks like they're following the axiom "If you don't know what you're talking about, just insult those who disagree."

Feb 27, 2010 at 6:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterBill Sticker

what a wunch of bankers.

Feb 27, 2010 at 6:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrian Williams

'RB: I agree that a short term disaster would be effective in persuading people.' Time to read Michael Crichton's "State of Fear" again. A prescient novel on the way these nutters are going.

Feb 27, 2010 at 6:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrian Williams

The Social Construction of a Quasi-Reality

http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/reprint/social_construction.html

Feb 27, 2010 at 7:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterDennisA

Can we expect that this meeting will ensure that the four organisations attending (BBC,Guardian,Sun & Financial Times) will from now onwards be arranging their reporting so as to present a United Front on AGW, aided and abetted by Science Media Centre, which can be expected to weigh in as and when necessary with supporting noises?
So, instead of having 4 huge bulldozers heading the public's way in apparently random ways, there will now be one super-giant bulldozer. Such a huge machine will be hard to counter, for it's sheer size will guarantee the truth of what they say. A daunting task for a loose conglomeration of concerned individuals.

Feb 27, 2010 at 7:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Melia

Unbelievable! Disgusting! Frightening!

Not one iota of jounalistic integrity.

Newspeak; doublethink; crimethink; bellyfeel....

This is doubleplusungood for the profession of journalism.

Feb 27, 2010 at 7:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterVince

These people pat themselves on the back about "reporting accurately" with "no spin", and then turn around and say a skeptic is "someone who knows better and takes a contrary view for pathological reasons." Amazing.

And "No journalists believe that climate science was undermined by the emails." Sounds like the journalists have a consensus!

At least one of them figured things out: "Last year we just printed press releases on AGW if they came from people with the right credentials; that won’t do any longer."

Any journalist should know that a press release is a sales brochure -- it's an attempt to sell a story. It took Climategate to teach this cretin that elementary lesson? No wonder the press is so awful.

Feb 27, 2010 at 7:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterSchiller Thurkettle

Richard Black: "The problem is poor science awareness. We need to improve science education so people properly understand climate science."

Dave Salt: "Physcian, heal thyself"

Feb 27, 2010 at 7:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterDave Salt

It is as if none of these "reporters" investigate what they report on, rather they rewrite blogs and releases sent them by others. No understanding or scratching of heads by reading McIntyre's review of the Briffa data manipulations and selections and discontinuities. No review of systematic negative to positive "corrections" in the general temperature data and the specific station data of US, Russian, Chinese, Australian or New Zealand. All this is easily available. No note of the divergence between IPCC predictions and our 20 years of data: SST from Argo floats, satellite data, mid-troposphere temperatures, absolute/relative humidity changes. The IPCC predictions based on increased pCO2 are (with feedback mechanisms), very clear. Predictions pushed back to 1988 (or earlier) show/should show the large error of their models. The alarmist fears are all within the models, just as the severe warming trend appears to be all in the temperature adjustments. In Canada, I have traveled from the American border to the Arctic and had long-term farmers, biologists and hunters identify changes in animal breeding and behavior BEFORE the IPCC news hit the fan. It is not change that is in question (as a geologist I understand this fact more than many). It is man's acceleration or cause by pCO2 increases, and how much this will be non-beneficial. The CO2 loading is an easy measurement. The actual temperature change is in real question, and the modeling of the pCO2 is the key to future change. The panelists do not seem to grasp where the skepticism lies. They are reacting more as if they live their lives through arguments or persuasion by authority. No longer is it Aristotle, or even the Bible, but Richard Attenborough (in the US, Al Gore, and in Canada, David Suzuki). Individual, critical thinking has never developed in them, or it has been beaten out of them by their corporate masters who are absolutely correct that absolutism and consistency maintains readership, not hesitancy or uncertainty. The only way out for many of the ACGW hotheads and promoters is to find a huge conspiracy at work. No one is at fault for being grandly deceived except the perpetrators. Unfortunately, I'm convinced there is none. What there is is a number of groups whose common interest lead them to do common things and support others doing the same things, and end up way out on a limb with no reputable way back. If Al Gore could be made to sweat in public and retract specific, alarming claims, the others would be able to slide out on his coattails, but that won't happen.

Feb 27, 2010 at 8:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterDoug Proctor

This reported discussion provides insight into the dogmatic, and ruthless attitudes of these 'true believers' in the media. The one good thing that could come out of these shame-filled decades of climate alarmism is increased insight into how such scares take hold and are propagated by such as these 'journalists'. More modesty and humility, as well as scepticism, on their part is required before I would remove those quotation marks. They have been duped, and they are actively and deliberately plotting to dupe others. The reality of that academic shambles called 'climate science' is that it has barely scratched the surface of an extremely complex system, and in particular, it is a body of knowledge with negligible skill in predicting climate behaviour. But thanks to the IPCC, it has been associated with extremely effective PR skill, and political/environmental bandwagoning. The shame is primarily with the scientists who made claims way beyond their competence. The others 'merely' seized an opportunity to further their own, often malevolent, political goals.

Feb 27, 2010 at 8:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterFrank S

They don't realise that the news climate has changed.

Feb 27, 2010 at 8:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Hughes

Are these "journalists" reading the papers and, especially, the comments that follows Climate controversy articles?? 90% of the comments, and there recommand ticks, shows an absolute disgust about the AGW mani[pulations and lies. The hoi polloi just don't buy this garbage anymore and know a rat when they see one.

Makes one wonder, are these "journalists" living on Planet Gore?

Feb 27, 2010 at 9:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterHoi Polloi

Why did you wait for so long before reporting on Climategate?
"I had a baby"
"I was 'authenticating', but got hit by Glaciergate...'
"I was busy with Copenhagen"(!!)

Disgusting

Feb 27, 2010 at 9:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterAnand

So thats the take of the fourth estate on AGW huh ?

So what is it that makes us believe that they are any better informed on any other subject then ?

We have concentrated on the scientists to date, but its high time the role of the media in the AGW scare was properly aired

Feb 27, 2010 at 9:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterMark M


I used to think sceptics were bad and mad but now the bad people (lobbyists for fossil fuel industries) had gone, leaving only the mad.

I had to stop reading here. Honestly, this is not even wrong.

Feb 27, 2010 at 9:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterRobinson

There is a point of view that journalists do not peddle their own viewpoint, but simply report what other people tell them. While that is simplistic, it is entirely possible that science journalists could get a one-sided view of the AGW hypothesis from AGW scientists- such as phil jones and colleagues. There are an awful lot of academic scientists who appear to give wholehearted support to AGW, including Professor Boulton.

If the academic viewpoint is essentially unanimous, maybe there is some excuse for their comments. It is still surprising that they have been quite so uncritical when there is so much to be critical about.

per

Feb 27, 2010 at 9:46 PM | Unregistered Commenterper

As someone said, how can supposedly informed environmental reporters have such closed minds even now. Richard Black is unbelievable with "I agree that a short term disaster would be effective in persuading people." This is the guy who, only a short time before Copenhagen posted an article as to how he kept a balanced approach to his reporting of climate.

The more you see and read, the more difficult it is to keep a level head and open mind yourself.

Feb 27, 2010 at 9:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikeT

OT, But Christopher Booker recommends your book in his article entitled "A perfect storm is brewing for the IPCC". http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/7332803/A-perfect-storm-is-brewing-for-the-IPCC.html

Feb 27, 2010 at 10:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

What an astonishing insight into how today's mainstream media journalists think!
They clearly show themselves to be propagandists rather than objective investigative reporters. There is absolutely no way their reporting can be trusted, and their insulting views about the intelligence of their readership and anyone who questions their preconceived viewpoint is unbelievable.
How can they remain employed in their roles? Is it because their employers share these attitudes? If so, they are committing business suicide.

Feb 27, 2010 at 10:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterRod

Bishop, do you know if there is another independent/corroborative source for these quotes?

I ask because, if these "notes" prove to be in some way incorrect, certain people will use this post as evidence of how 'skeptics' fabricate their facts.

[BH: That is a good point. Simon notes that there is to be video posted at some point so we can check then. For now let's just say that I have no reason to doubt Simon's bona fides and that I'm posting them on that basis.]

Feb 27, 2010 at 10:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterDave Salt

In my experience as a university prof, journalism students are the least curious I've ever encountered. Even nursing students and early childhood education students contribute more in class and are more interested in learning. Journalists for a large part have socialist-instilled instincts to advocate for PC causes (to give them a veneer of morality). This is a disaster when mixed with no interest in discovering what is going on if it does not fit their worldview.

Newspapers tend to reflect their readership. Champagne socialists at the Grauniad, who love to impose their social engineering on the unwashed masses, so long as none of these schemes harm themselves. The Sun has no hidden social agenda: just the facts, ma'am, only with a little titillation.

It may give the reverend Bishop's readers a little comfort to know that AGW academics are extremely frustrated by AGW critics' appropriation of the term "sceptics", since, of course, all scientists should be sceptics. They're trying to find a new name for us and we'll just have to hold our ground.

Feb 27, 2010 at 10:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterJ. Hubbard

although eventually Jeremy will come round

Will? Will? I hope someone points Jeremy Clarkson this way.

Feb 27, 2010 at 10:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterFrank Davis

How could these environmental reports fail to be biased? Consider this scenario: time 0; 50% of reporters are alarmist, 50% skeptical. After 10 years of the skeptical reporters being "cut off" and the alarmist reporters "leaked advanced info" on AGW by the alarmist scientists, what would the percentages have changed to? How long does any reporter keep her job when her competitors continually "out-scoop" her?

Feb 28, 2010 at 12:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterNeil Fisher

and here I was led to believe over the past few years that journalists were out there to seek out the truth and to be skeptical of authorities. This just goes to show that the journos were in bed with the climate change folks and that they were true believers in CG. In the past if someone leaked government emails the journos never questioned them they just plastered all over the pages. Leakers wre seen as heroes only because they leaked items that supported the journos viewpoint and beliefs. Think the pentagon papers for one.

I think editors should be reading the journos' stories with a jaundiced eye and ask hard questions of the reporters.

The blogosphere is slowly demolishing the media castles, Information is being set free just like when Tyndale published is English Bible

The High priests and acolytes of environmentalism now find their catechism being questioned.

Feb 28, 2010 at 12:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeterk

Just been Reading delingpole on post normal science, we can add post normal journalism and post normal politics to the list, all supported by post normal numpties.

Isn't intelligent design post normal science along with AGW, and they have the cheek to label us "creationists", if I had my way they would all be post normal jobs!

Feb 28, 2010 at 12:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterJasonF

Jesus Christ...

DA: We can no longer call people deniers. We need a new term. Some people have suggested “climate creationists”.

FH: Sceptics were clever in choosing their name. We do need a new name, denier won’t work because of Holocaust associations.

Just f-ing wow. So David Allen of the Guardian indicates that he can't call people deniers because of holocaust association. Gee thank the maker you've got political correctness infused into your blood David, otherwise I might take offense. Then of course, he says someone suggested, "Climate Creationists"... which makes no gd sense at all. I take from this sentence that David Allen wants to insult people who think freely, but wants to be sure he doesn't do so in a way that might be politically distasteful for someone else who might be offended at references to the holocaust. His brain should be registered as a deadly singularity capable of removing all reason from a room.

And then of course, Fiona Harvey comes out and says skeptics were clever in choosing their name. Yes, everyone, we've been so clever to call ourselves deniers because now we've left the Politically Correct Elite Journalists no choice but to abandon the name we chose for ourselves as it might offend someone else with notions of dead Jews.

The world is insane, where is my trip to mars. I'd rather live a hard frontier life on another planet than share oxygen with people such as this.

Feb 28, 2010 at 1:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterJeremy

I just love this one:

"We need to improve science education so people properly understand climate science".

Well...

As "understanding climate science" requires some serious rewriting of the scientific method, I completely agree ..

I just wouldn't call it an "improvement".

Feb 28, 2010 at 10:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterAnna

A few points:

FH's point about the cleverness of sceptics in choosing their name did, I believe, refer to the "sceptic" label rather than "denier". She was suggesting that neither sceptic nor denier was appropriate, the former because all scientists should be sceptical; the latter because of the clumsy attempt at denigration by association.

The question begged was her implicit assumption that sceptics had "chosen" that label. An oddity is that many believers in AGW think that to be sceptical is somehow a bad thing, apparently unaware it's a desirable state from which one might learn something new.

Dave Salt asked about the reliability of my transcript. I typed it up from hand-written notes. My writing is poor at the best of times and particularly so when I'm writing at speed. Nonetheless, I'm confident that I've made no substantive changes, additions or subtractions from what was said. Nor have I "spun" any remarks or overlain a misleading tone. Another commenter was apparently at the meeting and agreed that the summary was fair (I think "brilliant" was the description, which was kind - thank you mother...I mean "DR"). The forthcoming video, unless badly edited, will confirm this.

Feb 28, 2010 at 10:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterSimon Anthony

Simon Anthony, please don't take my question as an indirect 'snipe' against either you or the Bishop (take a look at my posting record here and, I hope, you'll see that I'm a true "skeptic" of the 'science' used to justify catastrophic AGW theory).

However, given the way the 'debate' is progressing and the fact that the "climate friends" seem to be using every trick in the book to either deflect attention or undermine criticism; your notes just seemed too good an example of the MSM reporting mentality that many have suspected.

Feb 28, 2010 at 11:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterDave Salt

Exquisite, Bizarre, Weird. The most strange it is the language and reasoning: asking for disasters. So a disaster for them is not anymore Weather it must be Climate, or maybe should say be shown as Climate.

I like to see Financial Times there out of woods for everyone to see what kind Statist-Corporativist paper it is. They are not for free-market and freedom.

Feb 28, 2010 at 11:28 AM | Unregistered Commenterlucklucky

"So David Allen of the Guardian indicates that he can't call people deniers because of holocaust association."

He says it now that there are too many of "deniers"...

The idiots still do not think that less than 0,6ºC heat in 100 years(believing the dubious, incomplete and historical challenged temperature sets) is well inside the noise.

Feb 28, 2010 at 11:34 AM | Unregistered Commenterlucklucky

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