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« Climate cuttings 60 | Main | Melting ice »

Imperial wizard

Sir Brian Hoskins recently gave a lecture on the science at climate change at Imperial College. Apparently the take-home quote is this:

We are performing a very dangerous experiment with our planet

Ho hum.

The lecture is here.

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Reader Comments (31)

I think he and his kind are performing a very dangerous experiment with our democracy.

Jan 31, 2012 at 5:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterFoxgoose

He's right, you know.
I just wish he and his friends would find something else to experiment with and leave the poor old planet alone.

{Why is it that you can always identify anenviro-mentalist by the fact that he calls Earth "the planet"? Never "Earth" or "the world": always "the planet".}

Jan 31, 2012 at 6:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Jackson

In due course, perhaps we can strip him of his knighthood for wasting hundreds of billions.

Jan 31, 2012 at 6:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterNeil McEvoy

Sorry to be OT but I found this and though some here might be interested.

Jan 31, 2012 at 6:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterStonyground

Yes indeed we are performing a very dangerous experiment with our plane - very dangerous indeed - but that's no way to talk about Bob Ward.

Jan 31, 2012 at 6:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterGha

Does the Director of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change's livelihood depend in any way on the continuation of the Great Mass Delusion?

Jan 31, 2012 at 6:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin A

Dangerous to whom?

Jan 31, 2012 at 7:10 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

I wonder if he still speaks to his former working group colleague Professor Kelly:

Jan 31, 2012 at 7:19 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

6:19 PM Mike Jackson

Pronounced "plaaanit".

Jan 31, 2012 at 7:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterHuhneMustGo

We are performing a very dangerous experiment with our planet

Soinds like a job for Mythbusters!

Jan 31, 2012 at 7:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer

Sorry is he trying to say 6+billion people got together and decided to do this great experiment ? like a deep thought kinda thing sorry I'm sure I would have remembered that meeting ,no really I mean just imagine the catering bills for lunch !
Soz but if he's allowed hyperbole I should get sarcasm !

Jan 31, 2012 at 7:38 PM | Unregistered Commentermat

This is from the introductory remarks (don’t know by whom):

“The whole of this term we’re going to be concentrating on Climate Change as the global challenge that we’re going to consider. And Climate Change is going to be addressed from a scientific point of view, froman engineering point of view, from a medical point of view, and also from philosophical and ethical, historical, cultural, political points of view. All of those different points of view ...So it should be, I hope, a life-changing experience.That’s what we’re aiming for, nothing less. [Laughs nervously, and possibly repeats a remark from the floor] No pressure”.

Sounds like a job for Alex Cull’s estimable MyTranscriptBox site. I’ll keep you posted.

Jan 31, 2012 at 7:41 PM | Unregistered Commentergeoffchambers

'We are performing a very dangerous experiment with our planet' His right for the AGW alarmists , for funded huger researchers and sadly science in general its very dangerous if nature continues to ignore the models despite man supplied CO2 , for the house of cards is will fall and take them with it .

If AGW turns out to be fully BS , it will take years for science to get back the ground it will lose in the public's views of its worth . Frankly I think that is part of the reason some have not spoken up about 'the Team' techniques. But its a cleft stick very much of their own making.

Jan 31, 2012 at 8:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterKnR

Hopefully, todays de-knighting of Goodwin might have a sobering effect on the likes of Hoskins and May etc,. Perhaps they might now think it's politic in future to engage brain before opening their mouths and sticking their size twelves into the gaping orifice if they want to hang on to their beloved gongs. On the other hand, they might just be too thick.

Jan 31, 2012 at 8:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterSalopian

At 8’45” he puts the percentage of CO2 as “point two percent of the atmosphere”. Not a good start for someone with several mathematics degrees from the University of Cambridge.

Jan 31, 2012 at 8:10 PM | Unregistered Commentergeoffchambers

I've listened to first 30 and last 10 minutes and it was more balanced than I expected. He, for example, said that temperature simulation of the past looked good at first but not as good when you looked at the detail and that there was a large range of uncertainty in the projections. He also admitted that precipitation simulation was poor - for much of the earth there was no agreement on the sign. He recognised that as the UK emitted only 2% of the world CO2 it was difficult to justify us going it alone. For someone who is 'convinced' he did a reasonable job of covering inconvenient truths.

Jan 31, 2012 at 8:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterRon

Any mention of the 6-7 billion people? I missed it, but it could have been there.

Jan 31, 2012 at 8:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

If you want to hear about experiments on the planet listen from 39:30 to about 41:30 where he is talking about geoengineering. All in the context of nothing being known - which is essentially what his whole intro says. He dismisses the emails as all being just nothing to see, move along, tricks as BAU, clean bill of health from the inquiries etc etc etc etc etc. Oh and IPCC AR4 only havng 3 errors in 3000 pages but the science stands firm.... then he finishes off with global 2tonne/head CO2 allowance being required and how he really doesn't like adversarial debate.... one hour of hot air. IMO.

Jan 31, 2012 at 8:35 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

He’s definitely from the Bob Watson / Paul Nurse school of oratory.

“This is where we are now, and this is back over to the year 700. And various people from trees - they bore holes in trees and deduce things from them and they dig down into the ground from temperatures and they do all sorts of things to try and get temperatures in the past, and I’m glad I don’t do it because I’m glad someone else does it. But you can see they don’t actually agree too well. By the time you ... the last 500 years you could say that there’s reasonable agreement, but when you start getting back to about a thousand years there’s quite a spread in these figures back here.
“Now there is certainly an idea from the North Atlantic region, the European region, that it was warmer back in sort of the year 1000, and so when the Vikings were sailing around and Greenland was named Greenland then it certainly was a bit warmer back here. And then the Little Ice Age so-called back in here when it was cold and you see pictures of the Thames freezing. Now those who get into this say that this was not a global effect, it was mainly a regional effect. You have to be very careful of things like the Thames freezing too, ‘cos I’m assured by those who’ve looked into it that actually one of the major inputs to the Thames freezing was that the London Bridge that was there at the time would stop the flow of the Thames, so actually the Thames was less tidal and was much more confined. However, it was colder here back in that time, but in terms of the Northern Hemisphere, that’s the best, that’s the state we are in terms of various estimates”.

Who’d have thought you could build a Thames barrage which also acted as a massive air conditioning system with a few wooden piles in the mud?

Jan 31, 2012 at 8:46 PM | Unregistered Commentergeoffchambers

He makes a valiant attempt to avoid seeming alarmist by saying, for example, that he prefers not to use a term like “tipping points”, then spoils the effect by saying that the models are too sluggish and linear, and therefore fail to detect the nonlinearity which he is clearly expecting (why, if it’s not in the models?) and he tops off his warning on the imperfection of models by saying “We could be increasing by ten degrees in this century”.
He’s sceptical about the models, but not, apparently, about the voices in his head.

Jan 31, 2012 at 9:21 PM | Unregistered Commentergeoffchambers

Sir Brian's comment on the "dangerous experiment" isn't original. Sir Crispin Tickell was saying this to Margaret Thatcher 30 years ago.

Surely by now the experimental stage should be over and we should be able to discern the results.

Jan 31, 2012 at 9:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterDave

I thought it was case proven from the fall of the USSR that more bureaucratic control over the economy = more pollution...

Additional Green Tax => More Bureaucrats, less economy => More Waste => Pollution.

Jan 31, 2012 at 10:52 PM | Unregistered Commenterac1

Alice Bell, involved in organising this conference, an apparent advocate of the climate doctrine and with her own blog 'through the looking glass', none-the-less spotted Brian Hoskins on the Guardian list of attendees at the ’Chemistry Club’ exclusive networking events for corporate lobbyists, which did tweak her curiosity antenna. Probably innocent, but rather confirms his active networking in politics for sure.

Jan 31, 2012 at 10:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterPharos

I would like to see a transcript of this entiire talk so that we might review it over some time. I listened to 15 minutes or so before I had to go out, and was not at all impressed. I hope to get back to it soon, because it is so valuable as an example, presumably, of the best that alarmist activist scientists can do on the climate front. With the sharp and clearly expressed concerns in that WSJ letter ringing in our ears, this talk seems so far, to me, like very weak tea. I hope to get back to the talk soon, and give it a more careful and thorough listen before coimmenting any further.

Jan 31, 2012 at 11:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

is there a campaign to strip him of his undeserved knighthood? In what field does he show any distinction, apart fropm spouting bullshit?

Feb 1, 2012 at 12:30 AM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

No need to bother! "Deep Thought" sorted this out years ago and the answer is still 42! (Then again,that was based on a computer model!)

Feb 1, 2012 at 8:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterPete H

Pharos - re: networking, listen to the intro. he is given re: membership of scientific bodies etc etc.

Feb 1, 2012 at 9:28 AM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

John Shade Jan 31, 2012 at 11:21 PM
“I would like to see a transcript of this entire talk so that we might review it over some time”.
So would I, which is why I’ve started transcribing it, with the intention of asking Alex Cull to put it up at MyTranscriptBox, where he has an excellent collection of such material. Whether I finish it depends on time and motivation, and motivation depends largely on feedback.
Most commenters here seem to have short attention spans, possibly because they’re busy, (or used to be busy before they retired). By the time I finish it interest will have moved on.
What I find interesting in these documents is not the odd mistake or thoughtless remark (though there are plenty of those), but the revelation of the way their minds work. Quite simply, they’re not thinking about what they’re saying. In other words, they don’t know what they’re talking about. And we’re talking about top government advisors, Nobel Prize winners, members and presidents of the Royal Society. Read Bob Watson at the Guardian debate, or Paul Nurse on his Horizon programme. Not only can they not construct a correct sentence with verbs and predicates - they don’t seem to see the need to. Possibly it’s because they’ve moved directly from the lab, where verbal expression is of secondary importance, to the ministry, where you have 30 seconds to convince the minister, and he’s not got time to admire your prose style.
Having convinced the governments of the entire world to overhaul the economics of the planet, they are then put before the general public (or, in the case of Hoskyns, before the students who will form the country’s future scientific and engineering élite) and they gibber.

Feb 1, 2012 at 9:53 AM | Unregistered Commentergeoffchambers

geoffchambers, 9:53 AM
Very pleased to hear of your proposed work on the transcipt. After a bit of hunting around, I found the TranscrptBox at A good resource - I noticed it has been referred to before here on BH but I had never pursued it until now. I have read transcipts in the past, and I have also had that feeling of astonishment and dismay at the carelessness with which participants can speak. This is about more than mere informaility, or pressure of time. It can come across as a carelessness with ideas and their expression, on topics and situations where you might expect to see more precision from a qualified speaker in a conversation or presentation.

There is so much going on about climate these days, that those 'short attention-spans' must at least in part reflect anyone taking a broad view being somewhat flooded with new material every month. I do admire the sharp focus and persistence of a McIntyre - 'narrow and deep' compared to the 'wide and shallow' which I splash about in! But still there may be merit in at least capturing for easier analysis such presentations as this one by Prof Hoskins if it makes possible not only analysis by historians of this remarkable period in the story of science and politics, but also by those currently engaged in the various debates.

Talking of McIntyre and Hoskins in the same breath, led to me to his quote by Hoskins noted by McIntyre in connection with the results of the Oxburgh enquiry:

I welcome this thorough and fair review. The picture painted by it of a dedicated small group trying to do the best science and with no hidden agenda to their work is consistent with my knowledge of the people involved at CRU and of their research. The review should help shape aspects of the continuing progress of climate science, in particular the need to make use of the latest statistical techniques.

That enquiry was of course shallow and hasty, and led by someone with a vested interest in climate alarmism (e.g. The above quote does not speak well of Prof Hoskin's own judgement and impartiality. In view of his importance as an academic back-up for climate alarmism in the public domain, it is correspondlngly important to capture his words and try to understand his intentions and devices, and maybe even something of his thinking.

Feb 1, 2012 at 12:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

It's because they've become politicians Geoff.

On the occasions that I've had to work with politicians I've found their superficiality breathtaking.

If they can't get an instant soundbite or media mention out of a situation - they just drop it and look for the next opportunity.

Their attention span approximates to that of the fruit fly.

Feb 1, 2012 at 1:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterFoxgoose

Foxgoose (Feb 1, 2012 at 1:24 PM): “It's because they've become politicians Geoff”.
A politician who expressed himself as sloppily as Hoskyns, Nurse or Watson, whether in parliament or in the media, would be slaughtered. That’s what opposition parties are for. Anyone else would find themselves pilloried in Private Eye’s “Pseuds’ Corner” and would no longer be welcome on Radio 4. Only bishops (not you, Your Grace) and members of the Royal Society can get away with spouting nonsense, and the bishops normally know how too construct a sentence.
John Shade:
I agree entirely with your admiration for McIntyre’s “narrow and deep” approach. I ask myself continuously what we footbloggers in the climate wars can do to be useful. Less ranting and more getting the evidence out to the public is the only - very unoriginal - answer I’ve come up with.

Feb 1, 2012 at 3:34 PM | Unregistered Commentergeoffchambers

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