Click images for more details



Recent comments
Recent posts
Currently discussing

A few sites I've stumbled across recently....

Powered by Squarespace
« Guido on climate again | Main | A new kind of journal »

Tom Chivers on 28gate

Tom Chivers makes a sturdy(ish) defence of the BBC's choice of attendees at the seminar. Well, not that sturdy actually, but full marks are due for effort.

He gets a load of stuff about Climategate wrong, but as he uses Wikipedia as his source that's not really surprising. What I thought was interesting was his take on what debate there should be on climate:

There are people, notably Richard Lindzen, who think people have overestimated the sensitivity of the climate to carbon emissions, and think we can survive many times higher concentration than is currently suggested. There are advocates of carbon taxes and cap-and-trade. These are important arguments, that need to be had in public, loudly and passionately. These are the sort of balanced debates I would like to see in the media, between intelligent, informed people.

But this is the problem, Tom, don't you see? Sceptics are not allowed to talk about climate sensitivity on the BBC because the science is all "settled". The seminar attendees told the corporation so. The amount of science that is settled is piffling - temperatures went up a bit at the end of the last century, CO2 is a greenhouse gas and that's pretty much it. Everything else is up in the air. Which is why the BBC policy is so iniquitous.

The suggestion, implicit in Tom's defence of the seminar, is that the seminar was actually a balanced group for guiding the BBC's editorial policy. This is, of course, completely absurd. If he really can't see that then I think he has a serious credibility problem. But he does raise one interesting question. Who should have been at the seminar?

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

Reader Comments (69)

He means well, Chivers. The problem is he is deeply ignorant about global warming sceptics. Thus, balance, he writes, 'can be useful, occasionally, where there is a genuine divide in opinion between well-informed groups'. But as he has already implicitly compared sceptics to 'Mad Clive . . . who shouts at the pigeons on Buckingham Palace Road' he is evidently unaware that there is 'a genuine divide in opinion between well-informed groups'. In short, he shares the BBC view that all sceptics are by definition nutters.

Nov 14, 2012 at 12:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterAgouts

Yes, everything he says about the debates to be had re climate is excellent. The only thing that is 'settled' is that CO2 causes warming. the rest is, to varying degrees, up for grabs. And 100% of policy response is unsettled.

China emissions per capita now = EU average. #justsaying

Nov 14, 2012 at 12:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoddy Campbell

Who should have been at the seminar? The one designed to suborn the entire output of the BBC in a 'noble cause' overriding any idea of impartiality? Nobody, that's who.

Nov 14, 2012 at 12:55 PM | Unregistered Commenterrhoda

There seems to be an argument that journalists should look to "scientists" or "expert" to tell them whether or how much balance is required in reportnig differing views. Hence, media outlets can hide behind this very type of charade; insisting that they listened to a bunch of experts who told them to ignore sceptics.

Of course that is a cop out. It is the journalists who should decide and take repsonsibility for that decision.

Hence, any BBC seminar that wat to help inform journalists or programmers how they should report on climate change should include all sides of the debate. Journalist etc. should listen and then report what they professionally believe should be reported.

If they don't and want to insist that they held a seminar and were told what and how to report, what exactly is the point of a journalist in the first place?

Nov 14, 2012 at 12:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterGeckko

between intelligent, informed people.

And who gets to decide that I wonder ?

Nov 14, 2012 at 12:59 PM | Registered CommenterBreath of Fresh Air

Now I remember where I know the name "Tom Chivers" from:

No.50: Tom Chivers

Nov 14, 2012 at 12:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterEveryman

I wish you would stop using the non scientific term-''greenhouse gas''. CO2 and water vapour react to IR radiation by absorbing and emitting IR but they do not cause the atmosphere to act like a greenhouse. Neither do they cause any temperature increase over and above that caused by the sun If they did the law of conservation of energy, or the 1st law of thermodynamics, would be meaningless.

Nov 14, 2012 at 1:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Marshall

I think a better question should be whether the seminar should have taken place at all, neh ?

Nov 14, 2012 at 1:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterJeroen B.

Part of the problem is the history of the temperature curve.

Stepping out of the mini mini ice age in the seventies, and all through the 80's, those dismissive of the 'greenhouse hypothesis' had an easy route. Not much of change had occurred. Scientific fashions simply follow the temperature curve.

Nov 14, 2012 at 1:13 PM | Registered Commentershub

I've pointed Tom Chivers to this comment about "Hiding the decline"- but he will not acknowledge, me, the article of whether he read it Y/N

Prof Jonathan Jones (at Bishop Hill a while back)


”If you’re wondering who I am, then you can find me at the Physics Department at Oxford University.”

Professor Jonathon Jones:

“People have asked why mainstream scientists are keeping silent on these issues. As a scientist who has largely kept silent, at least in public, I have more sympathy for silence than most people here. It’s not for the obvious reason, that speaking out leads to immediate attacks, not just from Gavin and friends, but also from some of the more excitable commentators here. Far more importantly most scientists are reluctant to speak out on topics which are not their field. We tend to trust our colleagues, perhaps unreasonably so, and are also well aware that most scientific questions are considerably more complex than outsiders think, and that it is entirely possible that we have missed some subtle but critical point.

However, “hide the decline” is an entirely different matter. This is not a complicated technical matter on which reasonable people can disagree: it is a straightforward and blatant breach of the fundamental principles of honesty and self-criticism that lie at the heart of all true science.

The significance of the divergence problem is immediately obvious, and seeking to hide it is quite simply wrong. The recent public statements by supposed leaders of UK science, declaring that hiding the decline is standard scientific practice are on a par with declarations that black is white and up is down. I don’t know who they think they are speaking for, but they certainly aren’t speaking for me.

I have watched Judy Curry with considerable interest since she first went public on her doubts about some aspects of climate science, an area where she is far more qualified than I am to have an opinion. Her latest post has clearly kicked up a remarkable furore, but she was right to make it. The decision to hide the decline, and the dogged refusal to admit that this was an error, has endangered the credibility of the whole of climate science.

If the rot is not stopped then the credibility of the whole of science will eventually come into question.Judy’s decision to try to call a halt to this mess before it’s too late is brave and good. So please cut her some slack; she has more than enough problems to deal with at the moment.If you’re wondering who I am, then you can find me at the Physics Department at Oxford University.”

Feb 23, 2011 at 10:29 PM | Jonathan Jones

reproduced here:

Nov 14, 2012 at 1:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

I think the Bish hits the nail on the head - 'The amount of science that is settled is piffling - temperatures went up a bit at the end of the last century, CO2 is a greenhouse gas and that's pretty much it. Everything else is up in the air.'

The remarkable failure of people who ought to be better informed to see the weakness of the case for acute alarm over CO2 is a big feature of what passes for debate on this topic. Their 'opponents' do not seem to realise that climate changes, nor that global mean temperature have risen, nor that carbon dioxide molecules shoogle in the infra-red. So that makes them pretty dumb. And of course there is the kneejerk aspect when leftwing articles of faith get deployed about Bad X, where X is oil or coal or tobacco companies or even 'conservative think tanks'. And there is the downright unsavoury with talk of 'deniers' and 'shills'. It would be the stuff of pantomime were it not for the dreadful harm the 'climate activists' have already brought to society and the environment, and the prospect of even more to come.

Nov 14, 2012 at 1:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

"Which is why the BBC policy is so iniquitous."

It also has led to a significant amount of public money being spent by the BBC on advocating the CAGW position. I wonder how much the 3 programmes for the series Climate Wars cost. Including all the complaints the BBC "dealt" with.

It would be interesting to know just how much public money the BBC has actually spent on such things.

Nov 14, 2012 at 1:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterConfusedPhoton

Poor old Chivers. He's very trusting of authority isn't he? Probably still believes in Santa.

Nov 14, 2012 at 1:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid C

re Tom Chivers.

It seems that the failing of the intelligensia to understand the actual terms of the CAGW debate can be summarized thus:

1. CO2 can cause warming (proven).


2. (a) We are on an express elevator to hell and, (b) must give all of our money to global governments.

The problem seems to be an inability to think logically, 2 does not flow from 1; an inbuilt prejudice that 2(a) is true (Western guilt; a modern replacement for religious guilt), and an inbuilt prejudice that 2(b) is a highly desirable state of affairs regardless of the fate of the planet.

Nov 14, 2012 at 1:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-Record

Its just ignorant verbiage - tomorrows chip wrapper - dont take it seriously - means nothing.

Nov 14, 2012 at 1:30 PM | Unregistered Commenterbeboid

@John Shade - the problem with these people who ought to be better informed is that in the main, they are not scientists. The scientists are either evangelists, or silent. The majority of the writers treat this subject the same as they would a discussion about history or some other similar subject. They search out respected authorities and rely on weight of opinion to inform them. They debate using language rather than evidence, and honestly believe that they are making a valuable contribution.

Nov 14, 2012 at 1:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterSean Houlihane

Who should have been at the seminar?

They shouldn't have seminars at all. I may be in the minority here but I find the idea that the great and the good meeting in Oxbridge colleges during the hols, - possibly being reported in the broadsheets or specialist media - to decide how to feed propaganda to the proles via comedy, sport and CBBC is totally repugnant.

The BBC are a broadcasting organisation funded by public money. If it wants to organise "seminars" then they can broadcast it and let us see their experts talk and allow public input.

By using the Chatham House Rule as a cover the little gits rather fancied going somewhere "academic" and pretending they were the League of Nations brokering some great peace that only secrecy allows. But they were clearly only indulging in a standard climate circle jerk and lying about their shame afterwards by implying that it had great gravity.

Nov 14, 2012 at 1:32 PM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

I always let people have their say ... and I've visited Chivers scribblings probably more times than is good for my psychological health.

Chivers is a smug prat - perhaps not a bully but certainly a determined controversialist and so similar it seems to the self regarding smug prats at the BBC that I wonder if he moves in the same social circles or ahem... goes to the same church..

His outpourings are so closely aligned with Thompson era Beeb-speak that one really does wonder if The Barclay Brothers have rented themselves yet another a gophering sock puppet - Louise Gray's brother in arms who can do more than copy n paste....

BBC = Barclay Brothers Comic ?

Nov 14, 2012 at 1:33 PM | Registered Commentertomo

Whould should be at the seminar - scientists from (not leaders) of the Met Office, Hadley Centre, Walker Institute

they are glaringly absent - Dr Tim Palmer, spoke about what should scientists say about uncertainty - BE HONEST, didn't go down well at the rest of the communicating Climate Change debate.. they wanted passion.

those guys may be wrong on somethingsand a maybe a bit luke warm, but at least they are honest about it.

Richards BBC outing (never to be seen again) post climategate.(much to applaud)

Betts:"The focus on climate change is now so huge that everybody seems to need to have some link to climate change if they are to attract attention and funding.

Hence the increasing tendency to link everything to climate change - whether scientifically proven or not.

The question is: do climate scientists do enough to counter this? Or are we guilty of turning a blind eye to these things because we think they are on "our side" against the climate sceptics?

It's easy to blame the media and I don't intend to make generalisations here, but I have quite literally had journalists phone me up during an unusually warm spell of weather and ask "is this a result of global warming?"

When I say "no, not really, it is just weather", they've thanked me very much and then phoned somebody else, and kept trying until they got someone to say yes it was."


and since then I think he has moved on from 1 or 2 things that would annoy some regulars

Nov 14, 2012 at 1:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Gecko said:

Of course that is a cop out. It is the journalists who should decide and take repsonsibility for that decision.

That to me is an important observation. The journalists could use the 'consensus' as a reason to avoid personal responsibility for what they report so long as the evidence they allow to be broadcast aligns with the 'consensus'.

They did not need to critically evaluate the science because the editorial policy meant they they didn't have to. It opened the door for advocacy and untested hypotheses to be presented to the public as settled science.

The journalists swallow the argument, present it to us and expect us to swallow it too. I'm trying to not think of The Human Centipede...

Nov 14, 2012 at 1:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterGareth

Who else should have been there depends on the purpose of the meeting. The actual purpose seems to have been how can we best communicate the received wisdom that we are getting from the science media, IPCC, UK Government etc? Although the BBC has subsequently been culpable in fanning the flames even further their position at the time was not an easy one because there were no obvious mainstream people that they could call upon and the other possible candidates (Bellamy, Lindblom, Lindzen, McIntyre, Stott) would have turned the discussion into something else, if only because of the eco-fascist reactions of other participants. Of course, this might have been a good thing but staying within a narrow meeting remit what would have helped is some expertise on communication of scientific issues. (I am most familiar with Bryan Wynne's work here but there are others of course). What would have emerged is that, whatever the subject, campaigns based on arguments to scientific authority, and which admit no possibility of doubt or nuance, are unlikely to succeed. What could also have happened is some pre work and a discussion paper outlining areas of debate and doubt. Discussing the relationship between climate change and 'weird weather' would have been especially useful as it was media coverage of this which did much to fan climate hysteria and a sense that connections were not proven could have reined this in. Similarly, a knowledge of the quasi-political nature of the IPCC process would have tempered claims about scientific consensus.

On the other hand the meeting could have had a broader remit - perhaps about the general issue of how the BBC handles issues of scientific controversy, and maintains a balance between current consensus and the historical fact that this is often overturned by subsequent research. Some historians of science might have been useful in this meeting as well as even more of the science communication mob.

I find one especially interesting aspect of the meeting to be the absence of science specialists from the BBC - only an Executive Producer as far as I can see (and perhaps Head of Natural History if you really stretch it). Yet there are well connected TV programmes such as Horizon, and many radio programmes, within the Empire which should clearly be the engine room of the BBC's general approach to science issues.

Given the circumstances of the time it's not really reasonable to expect the BBC to second guess the apparent weight of scientific opinion. What could have happened though is a greater awareness of areas of uncertainty, resulting in some kind of intermittent and broadly based review process as to how this was developing. Instead it seems to have been left to a small number of committed individuals to determine the BBC message.

Nov 14, 2012 at 1:49 PM | Unregistered Commentercarbonneutral

Chivers said that there were only "five people (out of 30) from environmental charities". Chivers either has trouble counting or is being really misleading in what he calls an "environmental charity".

By my count, there were 12-13 NGO environmentalists: Greenpeace (2), Tearfund (2),, Church of England, International Institute for Environment and Development, Stop Climate Chaos, IBT, E3G, AsRia, New Economics Foundation plus Television for the Environment.

Chivers' "insurance industry consultant" is actually Andrew Dlugolecki of CRU. Many of the university "representatives" were also environmentalists rather than climate scientists: e,g, Joe Smith and Poshendra Pravat of Open University, Eleni Andreadis, a classmate of Paula Broadwell at Harvard Kennedy.

As far as I can tell, only 2 of the 30 have published climate science research (Dahl-Jensen and Widdicombe).

Nov 14, 2012 at 1:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve McIntyre

Steve M.,

That's a good point about Andrew Dlugolecki - on the face of it he appears independent but a very little digging shows where his views lie.

Nov 14, 2012 at 2:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Fowle

Steve McIntyre said:

Chivers' "insurance industry consultant" is actually Andrew Dlugolecki of CRU.

And a member of the Tyndall Centre Advisory Board at that time along with Roger Harrabin.
And the United Nations Environment Programme Insurance Initiative since 1997 along with Tessa Tennant.
And a contributing author to at least one IPCC report.

Nov 14, 2012 at 2:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterGareth

'representatives of Harvard University, Cambridge University, Oxford University, the Niels Bohr Institute, Plymouth Marine Labs...'

Representatives? Did Eleni Andreadis have a mandate signed by the President and Fellows?

Nov 14, 2012 at 2:19 PM | Registered CommenterDreadnought

The acid test for me:-

Would, could, a BBC investigatory journalist have written “The Hockey Stick Illusion”?

Whilst there has been partisan comment the work has gained respect for the clear presentation of the facts. Am I wrong in expecting my BBC journalists to pursue and report such lines of investigation?

No offence Bish, none could match the writing style:-)

Nov 14, 2012 at 2:28 PM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

I'm with Rhoda on this one. There doesn't need to be a "seminar", especially not one that has been organised by partisan lobbyists.
The BBC has a charter and is supposed to be impartial. Why does it need to slant all of its output with global warming propaganda? Why does the head of comedy need to be involved, or a representative of CBBC? Global warming should be treated as any other science news item and, if they are prepared to treat any old Greenpeace press release as "news" then they should apply the same rules to a press release from GWPF, or to one of the many science papers that go against the "consensus".
It has never been within the BBC's (official) remit to indoctrinate viewers with a particular view, con-bloody-sensus or not.

Nov 14, 2012 at 2:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterBuffy Minton

Green Sand: great point. Wish I'd articulated that.

Steve Mc: I've felt burdened the last day or so by two insurance 'stories'. One Helen Boaden's statement that it was particularly the testimony of the insurance expert aka CRU hack at the Jan 06 seminar that convinced her of the seriousness of the AGW situation. And the other, in the words of the Indie headline writers

Council insurers demanded that the first full investigation into the care home scandal was pulped. Roger Dobson – who has one of the few remaining copies – details an astonishing cover-up

A cover up in 1995, at a time when it was much more likely prosecutions could have been made, justified entirely by the demands of a third party - an insurance company.

Delete is off topic Bish but I had to get that off my chest, sorry.

Nov 14, 2012 at 2:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

According to the International Broadcasting Trust, who organised what it calls these "Real World Brainstorms", the focus of the 26 January 2006 meeting was "climate change and its impact on development" and on "the challenges facing television in covering this issue". As such it was a meeting to promote the received gospel on CAGW through all the channels available to the BBC (from news to comedy)- not to question that gospel. No doubt Robert May was the deus ex machina who delivered the gospel as in the reported quote "I am the President of the Royal Society and I tell you that the science is settled". In short it was a discussion on how best to promote this "settled science". Given how many people still think that wind farms are a good idea, they have been quite successful at it.

The BBC`s problem stems from its decision to abandon impartiality (in breach of its Charter), then to claim in the Bridcut Report that the seminar involved the "best scientific experts" and then to try to cover up who actually attended (campaigners) and the real purpose of the meeting (how to use the BBC to create AGW propaganda).

Obviously the BBC will attempt to shut down discussion of its behaviour, or when it does come up it will to seek to change the issue away from its own behaviour. In this respect the Chivers article helps them. He is also silent on the BBC`s aim to block FOI requests to enquire into their editorial policies as Andrew Orlowski has pointed out.

Nov 14, 2012 at 2:55 PM | Unregistered Commenteroldtimer

I am developing a fundamental dislike for anybody who approaches this topic and starts defending the BBC without realising it is all a matter of standing up for the "little guy".

In this case it was TonyN against six lawyers. In other cases it was (is?) children and vulnerable teenagers against sexually predatory celebrities. In other cases still, it's ruined reputations of people wrongly accused by Big News.

It all comes down to a fundamental point of our democracies. Everything else is "just" a consequence, stemming from institutional impunity.

Nov 14, 2012 at 2:59 PM | Registered Commenteromnologos

Brilliant Maurizio. U still da man.

Nov 14, 2012 at 3:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

Who should have been at the seminar?

I suppose to get the answer to that we need to ask another question _ "why was the seminar held?"
Let me quote at length an extract from a comment on Jo Nova's post on what has become known as TwentyEightGate. The following posted by Peter Miller:
My understanding of the history is that the BBC unilaterally dropped their Charter requirement to provide balance in reporting Global Warming, purely due to internal activists. This change was noticed by outside bloggers, who started asking questions about why the BBC was in breach of its Charter.

So, to shut them up, the BBC responded that they had duly considered the issue, and received proper scientific advice that there was no real controversy – the science was settled. They picked a recent internal seminar (which had been held to promulgate the Global Warming message to internal BBC staff) and claimed that this comprised ‘the top scientific brains’ who had provided this policy advice. There had been NO minutes – odd, for such a fundamental policy decision.

That was meant to shut up the bloggers, who were crying for more details. The meeting was retrospectively claimed to be under the non-attributable Chatham House Rules, which neatly made it unable to be investigated.

Blogger Tony Newbery submitted a FOI request for the names of these august scientists who had advised the BBC to drop its impartiality position. The BBC fought this tooth and nail, finally spending a 6-figure sum on barristers and packing the Tribunal where, last Friday, the request was rejected on the spurious grounds that the BBC could consider itself to be a private organisation if it wanted to keep secrets from the public.

Now we can see that the meeting which was claimed to be with a policy-defining group of top scientists was, in fact, an activist jolly/propaganda exercise. And trying to hide this has cost the BBC a lot of money and face.

Sounds about right?

Nov 14, 2012 at 3:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterPat K

Who is Tom Chivers?

Nov 14, 2012 at 3:35 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Someone has already said this but I want to emphasise. The BBC should not be holding any form of meeting, seminar or conference with anyone outside the organisation. Their charter is perfectly clear. Impartiality is paramount and no exclusions. They therefore have no need to consult outside of the BBC.

Nov 14, 2012 at 3:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

@ Roddy Campbell

"The only thing that is 'settled' is that CO2 causes warming."

According to the 500 million year long paleo-geological record & Ice-Core data going back almost a million years, that is simply not true. That is precisely the rub between the warmistas & deniers. There is a definite lag between one & the other, but unlike the lying venal slimeball Al Gore says in "An Inconvenient Truth", (yes I actually endured an hour & a half of claptrap) the temperature records & CO2 record do not look as though they fit together, they in fact show an 800 year lag, between temperatures rising, followed by CO2 rising in response to that temperature rise! When there were 7,000 ppm in the atmosphere 500 million years ago, planet Earth froze a few times! The only time where CO2 has been shown to cause temperature to rise has been under strict laboratory conditions, with no carbon cycle simulation, no plate techtonic simulation, just CO2 (grossly dissproportionate in volume to reality) & a heat source! The CO2 Icecaps of Mars have been visibly receding over the last few years, permitting even more CO2 into the atmosphere which already contains 95% CO2, but you will freeze yout tailpipe offf up there it's so cold! CO2 dissolves uniquely into the ice that is used for ice-cores, losses are incurred as there always are in the drilling & extraction process, & the ice-core most likey underestimate the actual atmospheric CO2 content, when thousands of valid samles taken by differing processes than todays show much higher levels of CO2 in the atmosphere, ignored by the IPCC just by stating "they are invalid" simply becasue they do not show what the IPCC wants to see! The Bronze Age was warmer than today, the Roman Period was warmer than today, the Medieval arm Period was warmer than today, the last 4 Inter-glacials were warmer than today by up to 5°C. On top of which those scientists who claim that we're all going to hell in a hand cart for our Carbon sins, still cannot tell us what the Natural Variability of the Climate System is, nor do they no exactly how the Sun affects our Earth & Climate, nor what the feedbacks are exactly whether positive or negative, nor do they know all about the Climate System as they would have us believe, how clouds & water vapour work exactly, & I for one will never believe that of the thousands of parameters that go into making our climate, can be easily reduced to a few mathematical formulae & matrices & shoved into an X-Box 360 Lara Croft fantasy world puter model. So to make a rather over simplified & incorrect state like you did was rather foolhardy to say the least!

Nov 14, 2012 at 3:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan the Brit

Who is Tom Chivers?

Either a master of obscure satire or a total smartarse. At any rate he penned the following:

A new scandal is enveloping the BBC. It has been revealed that they have taken an editorial decision not to give equal air time to two sides of a debate.
Some scientists believe that the dodo is extinct, and their views are valuable. But should we not teach the controversy? What about the counter-argument: that dodos are not extinct, but in fact left Mauritius on a spaceship in 1685 and built the Martian canals? The BBC is peddling the "dodo extinct" theory, but it should be made clear that it is only one theory. We should teach the controversy.

Tom Chivers, The Telegraph

Nov 14, 2012 at 3:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterPat K

I pointed him to your website, Maurizio. I also asked why he credited Guido instead of you. Probably too much like hard work for a paid Journalist.

Nov 14, 2012 at 3:49 PM | Unregistered Commenteramoorhouse

Nov 14, 2012 at 3:49 PM Pat K

Thank you. Evidently the latter.

On second thoughts, I think you flatter the guy.

Nov 14, 2012 at 4:12 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Having just read Hiding the Decline (a bit late I know), it is a bit depressing to find Chivers maintaining that the CRU has been exonerated by eight independent enquiries. Is the man a proper journalist or just a mouthpiece? But I would tentatively disagree with the blanket objection to all seminars. I could for instance imagine one on the economy with different economists, businesses and others with valid viewpoints that could be fed into a mix to help our national broadcaster be better informed. The key is to have genuine debate and balance, not fervent believers all of one persuasion.

Nov 14, 2012 at 4:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Fowle

Alan the Brit says: "The only time where CO2 has been shown to cause temperature to rise has been under strict laboratory conditions..."

Yes, true, but only by keeping the lid ON the gas jar! The school experiments all do this. Fill a bottle with CO2, put a cap on it, irradiate it and measure the temperature rise.
They NEVER repeat the same experiment with the cap OFF (since CO2 is much heavier than air this would hardly be difficult). If they did they would find little or no temperature rise. Adiabatic expansion takes place - so no rise in temperature in the real atmosphere either.
I fear too many 'science' teachers don't understand this.

Nov 14, 2012 at 5:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhilip Foster

Chivers completely misses the key point for me - why has the BBC burned 6 figures of taxpayer's money on hiding this ?

Come on Tom - defend that.

Nov 14, 2012 at 5:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterMorph

On one point, as oldtimer alludes to above, the role of the few actual scientists present will be spun to say, in effect: "we (BBC) did not mean to say or imply that the 2006 seminar was comprised entirely of scientists, but rather that May and Hulme were asked to summarize and convey what the climate science is telling us so that the seminar could proceed to discuss how journalists, and the BBC in particular, should treat what the (figure)head of the Royal Society told us is well settled science." (not an actual quotation, just me channeling BBC apologists).

Pleassseee note, I am not endorsing this kind of spin as fallback position. I am trying to anticipate what BBC apologists will soon be saying, if they are not already.

This does not excuse Boaden or other BBC managers from failing to carry out a rigorous and public process for such important policy decisions. It does not excuse them for lying about what they did, or for wasting so much time and money deflecting a simple FOI request for info which should have been public all along. This is however a likely fallback position to offer an explanation of how the BBC thought it was consulting best scientific minds, etc. Don't bother to shoot at the messenger (me), I am merely offering a bit of devil's advocacy so that we can analyze all the points pre-emptively and respond promptly to emerging arguments.

Nov 14, 2012 at 6:02 PM | Registered CommenterSkiphil

Well, as has been well said, there shouldn't have been a seminar, at least unless it was televised. And note Richard D North's comments about the level of expertise these "specialists" conveyed. So that would have been interesting television.

But to answer the Bish's original question "Who should have been at the seminar?", my answer is:-

The "plebs". Complete with pitchforks and flaming torches.

Nothing in this response should be construed as advocating any more that the mildest and most emollient questioning of the saintly denizens of the actual seminar. Naturally.

Nov 14, 2012 at 6:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Brumby

It struck me that Chivers's argument, distilled down to its bare bones, was totally circular:

People like the 28 tell me that the science is settled.
The BBC reports that the science is settled.
Therefore the science is settled, because people like the 28 tell me that the science is settled and the BBC reports that the science is settled.

Nov 14, 2012 at 6:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterFred

Tom Chivers? What qualifications does he have to comment intelligently on Climate Change?
I'm guessing from his depth of ignorance- an Oxbridge Humanities degree.

Someone tell me if I am wrong.

Nov 14, 2012 at 7:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller


Pretty much spot on. Meaning that what is so irksome about Chivers is that he poses as reasonable and frowningly rational, questioning the bigger brains, posing the tough questions, while being, hey!, pretty groovy so simultaneously swallowing intact and entire the belief that the science is settled because the scientists say so meaning that of course the BBC must be right and that anyone who disagrees must be muttering, drooling retards.

In short, something of a logic gap in his otherwise comforting sense of self-worth.

Nov 14, 2012 at 7:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterAgouts

So what if I was brainwashed into believing it? It sounds reasonable anyway.

Nov 14, 2012 at 7:20 PM | Registered Commentershub

I suspect Tom Chivers, judging by his statements on various topics, sees himself as something of a brain, one of the liberal intelligentsia, but he seems to be, as a friend who breeds various livestock observed, 'as thick as pig poo'. As to the question 'should such a seminar have been held?', my response is a very loud NO!
Having been shafted by a smart-arse journalist more than fifty years ago, my views of journalism and journalists may be a little acid, but having one's teenage idealism about the fourth estate shattered leaves abiding memories. .

Nov 14, 2012 at 7:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander K

Tom Chivers' articles are often quite good. But he has a blind spot on climate change, bordering on wilful ignorance. He asked the wrong question, namely who should have attended 'instead'; which should have been 'in addition'. We all know there are plenty who have contributed to the peer-reviewed climatology literature who would have presented cogent alternative views; at which point the beebsters should have realised that the science is not settled.

Nov 14, 2012 at 7:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterNeil McEvoy

If Tom Chivers' puerile article is the best apologia they can come up with, they are in disarray. I mean, dodos and Martian canals? Talk about false analogies. I'm amazed that he didn't add fake moon landings and the rest of Lewandowsky's loony list.

Is this guy supposed to be a deep thinker? He's a dill.

As for the 'who should have been there' hypothetical, I agree that a broad-ranging seminar on science and technology reporting, with historians of science, teachers of elementary number-crunching etc would be a very good thing for any media organisation. Lord knows, we see every day that 'science' reporters (unlike political or economic reporters, for example) know next to nothing about their subject matter.

No need for the heads of comedy or drama to attend, though!

Nov 14, 2012 at 8:14 PM | Unregistered Commenterjohanna

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>