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Harrabin on Heartland

Roger Harrabin has posted a short report from the Heartland Conference which is actually not too bad. There are a couple of irrelevant asides about tobacco funding, but there is a definite change in tone.

I wonder why?

There's an MP3 attached below.


Harrabin on Heartland

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Reader Comments (25)

I seem to recasll trying to get Roger Black to attend last year, but to no avail.

Harrabin claims some British climate specialists would have liked to debate scientists at the meeting but couldn't run the risk to their reputation given the meeeting's overt political intent. That sounds like a feeble excuse, given their willingness to involve themselves deeply in the politics of the IPCC and involvement with our previous government.

They are afraid to debate as they will be found greatly wanting.

Still it is a start if the beeb actually is prepared to mention the meeting. Will they report, in an unbiased way, the meeting's conclusions. I somehow doubt it.

[BH adds: Roger Black being a retired middle-distance runner, I don't suppose he was very interested in a conference on climate change. Perhaps you should have asked Richard Black instead. ;-)]

May 16, 2010 at 7:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

OT, but good news for a change. England have won the World Cup (cricket), thrashing Australia!

May 16, 2010 at 7:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

I'm not convinced there's a change in tone, but I do think the usual tone is less shrill.

At some point Harrabin, Black, Hari (and maybe even one day Moonbat) will reflect on their own histories of reporting and concede that they were - all said - rather silly, superficial and a tad naive. Perhaps for Harrabin that day is coming sooner than for the others.

They must all, surely, recognise that what they're building is not just a carbon offset-invested pension fund but a legacy of historical documents, indelibly marked with their names.

May 16, 2010 at 8:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterSimonH

Tainted with oil money for evermore then?

May 16, 2010 at 8:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterChuckles

According to the computer models, anomalous events, such as England winning at any sport, can be directly attributed to anthropogenic CO2.

May 16, 2010 at 8:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterZT


Definitely 'hiding the decline' and must be some oil company funding involved?

May 16, 2010 at 9:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterChuckles

Dem Tories now control the license review - CallMeDave hasnt realised it yet but his party is way more sceptic than he is (or WotsIsName) so a change of tone in quite a few areas should be expected as the b-BBC tries to make sure the TV Tax isnt abolished.

May 16, 2010 at 9:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohnRS

I thought the commentary on funding sources was fair since the Heartland Institution is really no different from Greenpeace (an ideologically motivated organization interested in promoting specific policies). Harriban's characterization of the Heartland institute as an 'organization that seeks to limit the influence of government' is also a fair statement (stated the facts without an judgement on whether that goal is good or bad).

His comment about scientists not wanting to attend can be read several ways. My first impression was that scientists are taking sceptics much more seriously than in the past. Two years ago the excuse would have been 'i don't debate with quacks'. Now it is 'i would like to debate but the narrowed minded bigots i call collegues would punish me if i did'. I see that as a huge change.

May 16, 2010 at 9:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterTim

I've posted some early photos from the conference here

May 16, 2010 at 10:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterDonna Laframboise

I'd say you've been spammed........

May 16, 2010 at 11:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterPops

It is typical that Harrabin spoils [I was very tempted to use stronger wording] the whole thing in the last sentence - He cannot avoid trying to discredit and destroy everything that went before. This is nothing new. He has responded to the widespread critism of bias shown by the BBC by appearing to be more objective, then placing the destructive remark in the final sentence. Try judging all his climate change reports in this way to see for yourself.

May 16, 2010 at 11:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

The conference is streaming live on

May 17, 2010 at 12:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterPoptech

Are all those links for viagra to hide the decline?

May 17, 2010 at 12:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterLiam

Steve McIntyre's presentation was, for me, brilliant. He got a hard time in questions from those wanting him to call the Hockey Stick fraud and to denounce governments for wanting to legislate on climate. He's not saying that hiding the decline wasn't fraud - just that we can't discover motives. We need to know whether what was presented was true or false. He started out sympathetic to governments trying to form policies in such a complex area and remains so. He hadn't even heard of the IPCC in 2002. He realises that the question of sensitivity to a doubling of CO2 is much more central than the HS and encouraged people to keep an open mind on the subject, not assume that Lindzen and others at the conference are right.

All the time I was wondering what Roger (and other non-aligned journalists) would be making of it - Steve's ironic and irenic approach and the not entirely happy-clappy response from the Heartland regulars. There's a great story just there.

Many thanks to Roger Simon and PJTV for streaming this to my living room and making me so late to bed!

May 17, 2010 at 3:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

Unlike Greenpeace, they don't have activists within IPCC, as lead authors and co-writers of The Synthesis Report.

May 17, 2010 at 2:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterDennisA

Philip Bratby --- and for that matter, other commenters reading PB and not saying "whoa, there" --- be aware that indignantly charging "they are afraid to debate" (and by that strictly meaning stand up and orally argue, as opposed to some broader meaning of addressing opponents' arguments in print) is going to be a huge red flag for a large fraction of thoughtful honest scientists. Trying to defend complicated sound positions orally in any reasonable time tends to give large advantages to people who stubbornly argue dishonestly. E.g., imagine trying to advocate general relativity against someone who wants to spend time dishonestly claiming that key experiments and analyses were conducted incorrectly; there are all sorts of ways to end up burning an hour or two on the podium without getting any further than "he said, she said."

This is on my mind because I've been thinking about how to write a long blog post describing the qualititative properties of entropy in layman's terms (probably by analogy with the mundane concept of wealth, because it can be meaningfully quantified and it's easy to destroy). Explaining this in an oral debate would be hopeless, and "mainstream theory X is impossible because it contradicts the second law of thermodynamics" is a relatively common example of something that can be refuted fairly effectively in writing, even in writing for a large nonscientific audience, but that I'd hate to try to refute in an oral debate before a nonscientific audience.

More broadly, there is a vast class of bogus arguments that can be shredded in written argument by "fisking" and the like, but which can nonetheless be very rhetorically powerful in oral argument. Construct your argument to be suitably complex and ill-grounded, present it at a suitable time on a suitable topic in suitably time-limited format before a suitably unspecialized audience, and you can go away laughing even if you are the purest fraud, the matter is well-settled, and your opponent is reasonably skilled in debate and knows the subject backwards and forwards.

Given this tendency, it is simply logical to react to an advocate calling for oral debate as very strong suggestive evidence that the advocate's position isn't very sound. I spent about a decade of my life in and around academic scientific research groups, and I don't remember anyone every suggesting a bitter dispute should be resolved by oral debate. Scientists have all sorts of disputes among themselves, and argue them endlessly. Oral discussion, including pretty strong disagreement, is incredibly useful as long as there's some reasonable amount of cooperation from all sides, but oral debate is not a good way to settle bitter scientific disputes: once there's any serious suspicion that one of the parties is arguing in bad faith, sacrificing technical correctness for something like political or personal loyalties, everything goes to hell.

Of course, only deigning to address criticisms published in your pet journals is not a good way to settle bitter scientific disputes either. Thus, I support the general idea of getting indignant about the IPCC-aligned scientists' behavior. And I support arguing for various specific changes, including probably half a dozen that Steve McIntyre has argued for at one time or another. But arguing for time-limited oral debates is a bad idea.

May 17, 2010 at 3:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterWilliam Newman

William Newman: Do you have a suggestion as to how to get a response from these so-called climate specialists? Trying via RealClimate for example either gets an abusive response or gets moderated out of existence. Contacting government departments or the Met Office for example just gets a "stock" answer from some junior official or spokesperson.

May 17, 2010 at 5:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

I just listened to the clip and, unlike several forgiving commenters here, I'm appalled by Harrabin's unfounded "drive by" attacks on Heartland's funding. Want to know why? Check out my post on FreedomPub.

May 17, 2010 at 6:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterDiane Carol Bast

IMO Roger Harrabin is a 'leopard that will never change his spots', same for 'Road to Damascus' Moonbat.

A lot of people sadly have very short memories. Thankfully I don't! I'm not going to forget in a hurray that we have RB to thank for persuading the BBC to not give skeptics a voice on the BBC. This repugnant BBC policy is still 'alive and kicking' today and will remain so for quite some time yet I have no doubt.

With the 'ConDem(ned)s' now in power I doubt if anything is likely to change post 'NuLabour'. If anything things are now worse from an UK energy crisis perspective. The Lib/Dems are convinced of the need for carbon capture and storage - CCS and will block the approval for the building of any nuclear power stations (which Chris Huhne as S of S for Energy and Climate Change). They are interested in only ONE policy, namely electroral reform i.e all they want to do is introduce change (proportional representation) in order to guarantee their future survival in politics.

May 17, 2010 at 7:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterKevinUK

More AGW support from the BBC

The recent cold winter was just weather, etc.

May 17, 2010 at 8:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterLiam

anyone in the area who can attend?

Research Seminar - Climate Change and Policy Impacts; The Role of Climate Modelling
Friday 28 May 2010, 14:00
LT2, Lancaster University Management School
Robert Fildes (Lancaster Centre for Forecasting) will discuss the role of forecasting accuracy in assessing GCMS
Keith Beven (LEC) will examine climate change impact assessment
Mike Pidd (Management Science) will comment on the role of models in supporting policy analysis
Forecasts of global warming based on global circulation models (GCMs) and the assessment of potential policy responses remain controversial. Some critics have attacked the foundations of these simulation based forecasts raising doubts about the data, the science and even the integrity of climate scientists. However, the fundamental ‘fact’ that the earth is warming with man-made greenhouse gases, in particular CO2 emissions a major cause, remains broadly accepted by both the scientific community and politicians across the world.
This seminar will examine both the forecasts themselves and the uncertainty that surrounds them, asking the question as to whether global climate models provide an adequate basis for policy.

May 18, 2010 at 12:39 AM | Unregistered Commenterpat

Liam: I too watched Chris Packham and was appalled by the dreadful explanation of how CO2 behaves like the glass of a greenhouse. The programme was pure CAGW propaganda, typical of the BBC fightback against Climategate. I can only assume that there was no scientific adviser to the production of this propaganda piece. No evidence for AGW was presented.

May 18, 2010 at 6:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

On Newsnight a littlewhile ago:

"to have a sceptic in every interview is misleading the public about 'climate science'" - Fiona Fox

Fiona Fox again:

"Fight the good fight for accuracy, in fact
On Climate change there has been a real change..
People like Richard Black and Roger Harrabin, fighting internally (at the BBC) to say we DON'T have to have a sceptic every time we have a climate story."

Fiona Fox is about 6 minutes in..

Definetly worth watching the whole program, the BBC trying to defend their position..

BBC Trusts, been asked to lead a review of the BBC's coverage of science, especially 'climate change' review Worth watching, the whole program 15 minutes. Newswatch 23/04/2010

LISTEN very carefully, about 9mins 24 secs in, Fiona Fox nearly had a BIG slip of the tongue
and said Climategate. changed direction very rapidly... ;)

Fiona Fox: Chaired a report, for Lord Drayson, the science minister, looking into the quality of science reporting 6 months

May 18, 2010 at 9:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Only morons, cheats and liars still believe in Man-Made Global Warming

The other main objection I heard – from the BBC’s Roger Harrabin – is how utterly ridiculous it was that a total know-nothing like James Delingpole was speaking on a “Science” panel with meteorologist Joe D’Aleo, climate expert Fred Singer, and economist Ross McKitrick (co-destroyer – with Steve McIntyre – of Michael Mann’s hockey stick). Indeed, when I introduced myself to him, he snapped back “I’m not sure whether I should shake your hand. I want to punch you.” He sounded jolly cross indeed – and ranted that I was utterly irresponsible and had disseminated lots of lies – though he later apologized to me saying he was jet-lagged and had confused me with Christopher Booker. Hmm.

May 19, 2010 at 5:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterE Smith

Roger has an english degree I believe, doesn't stop him reporting about the environment and AGW 'science'

May 19, 2010 at 6:33 PM | Unregistered Commenterbarry woods

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