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« Close DECC | Main | Science at the crossroads »
Thursday
Nov222012

The BBC and the consensus

The 28gate seminar's finding that global warming science is settled and that "due balance" requires dissenting views to be seen and heard less is insidious. In this post I'm going to try to set out why.

What is the consensus? That carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas? Yup. That man's activities are increasing carbon dioxide levels? Certainly. That temperatures went up at the end of the twentieth century and have not gone up since? Definitely. That human beings can affect the climate? Without a shadow of doubt.

Anything else? I don't think so. Even simple questions like whether observed temperature rises are anything out of the ordinary remain hugely controversial. The extent to which mankind has affected and will affect temperatures is likewise unknown, a great amphitheatre of ignorance dimly illuminated by a handful of aged CFLs - the climate models that scientists have pinned their hopes on - and little else.  That these models are wrong is not in doubt - all models are wrong after all - but how wrong and how useful they are as tools to guide public policy is just another mystery. How can there possibly be consensus in these circumstances?

The impacts of climate change and the economics of climate change and policy responses to climate change are likewise entirely up in the air, with new hypotheses flown every day and shot down every evening and a mishmash of often contradictary empirical observations lending colour to the chaos. A glance tells you that there is no consensus.

So let us be clear, we don't even know if we have a big problem or a small one.

Yet the seminar has decided that sceptic input is not required in any of these areas. When did you last hear it put on the BBC that climate sensitivity might be low and that we were getting worked up about nothing? When did you last hear the Stern report or decarbonisation challenged on the BBC? 2007? I certainly can't recall any recent outings for views like this: they are sceptic views and are not to be aired. Yet these are all areas in which there is precisely no academic consensus. Indeed in the case of Stern one could probably make the case that there is something approaching consensus that the noble lord is talking out of his hat.

The concepts of mainstream and sceptic, upholder and dissentient, warmist and denier are profoundly unhelpful in the climate debate. The range of questions at issue mean that it is simply preposterous to divide everyone into two camps as the BBC has done - it's simply not logical.

Of course, given that the seminar was run for the benefit of green pressure groups, it's clear that logic had nothing to do with it. The BBC has used the seminar to minimise criticism of any aspect of climate science, climate economics and climate policy.

Quentin Cooper, the presenter of the BBC's Material World radio programme, asked on a recent show why he had never heard about the problems with biofuels. Frankly I'm amazed that he can't work it out.

 

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Reader Comments (71)

Heard that climate sensitivity is low? I'd love to hear on the BBC climate sensitivity explained. For example CO2 small increase in temperature clouds and water vapour assumptions large increase in temperature.

From my point of view my friends who are persuaded by AGW as presented by the BBC and the Guardian no very little or nothing of the theory. When you provide them some basic facts they instantly enter rejection mode... For some nothing is true until its on the Beeb or in the Guardian. The Guardian, a paper formerly in the employ of our Nations enemies - and may very well still with their connections to the green lobby.

I'm sure that the BBC's behaviour and the behaviour of government have all worked to give energy to the sceptics community. When a point of view is crushed it doesn't die, it goes underground and grows. This line of logic could lead you to a discussion on freedom of speech which is also under threat in this generation.

Nov 22, 2012 at 9:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterPaul

Unfortunately, Bish, we have an actual ministry called the Department for Energy and Climate Change, which has a budget of about £1,000,000,000 for its Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) demonstration programme and another £200,000,000 for various low-carbon technologies.

This is just one department of one government. The sums involved are now simply too large for most people to grasp. A family of four is spending £80 a year on DECC's various low carbon wheezes. Factor in all the other scams, and the indirect costs of all this lunacy, and you'd likely find the average family is spending a few thousand a year on this.

That is what we're up against - the trough is just enormous, and that is why it was so easy for the BBC to find 28 ecofascists all dedicated to keeping the trough topped up. There are billions and billions and billions of risk-free taxpayers' money being handed out here, and it's structural. It's here to stay and undermining the crap UEA-I-got-three-Bs-in-my-A-Levels "science" won't reverse it.

We are headed, I think, for a situation a bit like that of Qatar, where something like 40% of the economy is the consumption of the narcotic drug qhat. The amounts of money being gathered by governments from these taxes on air are so huge that they can't be repealed because governments will simply squander the cash and then rhetorically demand to know what schools and hospitals will be closed to fund its abolition.

Nov 22, 2012 at 9:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterJustice4Rinka

Dear Mr Montford,

You are a man of many skills, but you are outstanding when you make this type of over arching analysis. The problem is that intellectually honest believers (such people do exist) do not read this. The two convinced CAGW-enthusiasts that I persuaded to read your Hockey Stick converted immediately.

Gösta Oscarsson
Stockholm

Nov 22, 2012 at 10:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterGösta Oscarsson

The consensus is as shallow as the questions - in Doran and the non questions in Anderegg

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/07/18/what-else-did-the-97-of-scientists-say/

LOTS of feedback (url above) from the scientists that particpated in Doran/Zimmermann, in the ACTUAL cited paper, claiming 97%. some examples..

“..scientific issues cannot be decided by a vote of scientists. A consensus is not, at any given time, a good predictor of where the truth actually resides..”

“..The “hockey stick” graph that the IPCC so touted has, it is my understanding, been debunked as junk science..”

“..I’m not sure what you are trying to prove, but you will undoubtably be able to prove your pre-existing opinion with this survey! I’m sorry I even started it!..” (Doran/Zimmerman feedback)

“..and I do not think that a consensus has anything to do with whether a hypothesis is correct. Check out the history of science…you will find that scientific discovery is generally made by ignoring the ‘consensus..’” (Doran Zimmermann feedback)


“..I did complete your survey. However, no matter how important, no matter how apparently obvious the combination of facts and theory, scientific issues cannot be decided by a vote of scientists. A consensus is not, at any given time, a good predictor of where the truth actually resides..” (Doran/Zimmerman feedback)

“..Science is not based on votes or consensus. Irrelevant question. Besides, which scientists do you regard as relevant?..” (Doran/ Zimmerman feedback)

“..Science is based on scepticism and experimental proof. Whereas human GHG emissions certainly have a warming effect, the breakdown between natural and anthropogenic contributions to warming is poorly constrained..” (Doran/Zimmerman feedback)

Nov 22, 2012 at 10:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Bish what I find incredible is that, with the exception of the radiative physics, climate so-called science is controversial every step of the way. Even 'temperature' is controversial in so many ways. Is global average mean surface temperature the right metric for measuring global warming? In what sense are the readings representative? What about enthalpy? UHI? and so on and so on. And this is just the first step.

Life experience tells me that radiative physics is not the big player when it comes to surface temperatures. If you take a real greenhouse it gets hot because radiation is so inefficient at shedding heat. Open the door and some windows and let convection in and you get an idea of the respective power of these forces. And in addition we have the hydrological cycle which bypasses radiative physics completely. Radiative physics may set the parameters but convection and water maintain the surface temperature.

At the other end of the process we have policies that can only be described as asinine. As has been pointed out many times if UK shuts down completely the effects on 'global temperatures' will be so small that they cannot be measured.

So BBC you could actually do some good science programs on pointing out just how controversial climate is.

Init.

Nov 22, 2012 at 10:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterDolphinhead

In a rare moment of journalism, The Guardian had it frank, direct and clear about what the "skeptical" view is about:

The term sceptics covers those who argue that climate change is exaggerated, or not caused by human activity.

Conversely, the BBC has adopted a non-skeptic view, arguing that climate change is not exaggerated and that it is caused by human activity.

Under those circumstances, as the health of the whole planet is at stake (remember...there is no exaggeration, presumably not even when Hansen said in Jan 2009 that Obama had four years to save the planet), anybody would find it perfectly logical to shut skeptics off the airwaves. To h*ll with democracy, free speech, the rule of Law...nothing, nothing, nothing is more important than climate change!

Cue 10:10 and other PR disasters. Escalation is a dangerous beast.

Nov 22, 2012 at 10:15 AM | Registered Commenteromnologos

As for Cooper's remarks, those are even more amazing considering the NYT has been crying foul on biofuels since 2006, and FoE and even the WWF and the EU have already lamented the situation for many years.

Nov 22, 2012 at 10:17 AM | Registered Commenteromnologos

I believe it to be no coincidence that Futerra`s Rules of the Game, was published in October 2005 - just three months before the BBC seminar. It was sponsored by the DEFRA, the Carbon Trust, the DTI, the Environment Agency, the Energy Saving Trust and the UK Climate Impacts programme, and was written as Recommendations to the Climate Change Communications Working Group.

Among its recommendations:
2. Forget the climate change detractors
Those who deny climate change science are irritating, but
unimportant. The argument is not about if we should deal with climate
change, but how we should deal with climate change.
16. Create a trusted, credible, recognised voice on climate change
We need trusted organisations and individuals that the media can
call upon to explain the implications of climate change to the
UK public.

The BBC has delivered what Futerra recommended, what the governments of the day wanted and what successive Chief Scientists have urged.

Has anyone established a link between the BBC and the Climate Change Communications Working Group?

Nov 22, 2012 at 10:30 AM | Unregistered Commenteroldtimer

The question is how to change the BBC. It's no use just talking about it or having James Delingpole and Christopher Booker write about it. The BBC will never report 28gate and Auntie is powerful enough, with enough political support, to continue in its biased manner as if nothing has changed.

OT, but BBC4 this evening is showing again the Hans Rosling "The Joy of Stats". Well worth watching, IMHO, one of the best BBC programmes in years. As I recall, he doesn't show how to create a hockey stick from random noise. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00wgq0l

Nov 22, 2012 at 10:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

I think J4R has hit the nail on the head with his analysis of how a Government, drunk on the income from 'green' taxes, will cavil at any attempt to remove them with the argument that we need the revenue from the taxes anyway to fund our wonderful welfare system. They fail to realise that there is a point of diminishing returns and that pretty soon many of the small number of people who pay so much in tax will kick back.

Slightly OT, but prompted by a comment from Gösta Oscarsson above, I made a mental note to listen to R4 this afternoon - at 4:30 - when they will be discussing statistics in general and what they describe in their trailers as the 'greatest statistical error ever made'. Somehow, I doubt they are referring to the hockey stick, but I shall have a listen to find out.

Nov 22, 2012 at 10:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterSnotrocket

Good summary. The fact is the BBC have only themselves to blame, they tried to have their cake and eat it. That the BBC were already travelling in the green campaigners direction is clear, what is more clear now is they needed some "official" point in history to justify it.

They tried to create a single line or benchmark which they could refer to to as a justification for adopting orthodox views across huge swathes of policy and technical realms.

Yet they also made sure that all aspects of that single indicator were murky and obscured. As long as it had the mystique of the CH rule attached it could be aggrandised as something like meeting of great minds with deep thinking involved, rather than a grubby little by-the-numbers circle jerk by campaigners and lobbyists which it clearly was.

Now they have been found out.

The willingness of a powerful state broadcaster to play games like this should be disquieting to anybody let alone FOI campaigners.

Nov 22, 2012 at 10:39 AM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

Reading over at Harmless Sky the BBC have refused to confirm or deny the list is actually the list. This could be because they are embarassed, that they don't wish to confirm it because in effect that would be releasing it, or that this wasn't the seminar which they link to.

I'm thinking the first of these.

Is Tony planning an appeal anyway, is there a tip jar for it if he is ?

Nov 22, 2012 at 10:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterMorph

“..and I do not think that a consensus has anything to do with whether a hypothesis is correct. Check out the history of science…you will find that scientific discovery is generally made by ignoring the ‘consensus..’” (Doran/Zimmerman feedback)

Nov 22, 2012 at 11:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Your Grace:

Your write: 'So let us be clear, we don't even know if we have a big problem or a small one.'

Surely it is only fair to add: ' . . . or any problem at all'?

J4R:

Absolutely right. Which is why it is so terrifying.

Bunnies can (and will) go to France!

Nov 22, 2012 at 11:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterAgouts

An excellent summary of what is wrong with the BBC's treatment of climate change. Please send a copy to Maria Miller MP, the culture secretary.

My experience seems to show an increasing, confident scepticism among the majority of ordinary folk over about 30-40 years of age. An increasing number are bothering to search the Internet and read sceptical articles in the press. And politicians are becoming out of step with their voters on this important matter.

"That temperatures went up at the end of the twentieth century and have not gone up since." Is now being accepted by the public as an important counter argument to the alarmists among the political class. Yet we still hear the likes if our PM, deputy PM and Foreign Secretary, and many other MPs, frequently claim that man made climate change is the most serious challenge to the future of mankind. Are they just stupid or do they have a hidden agenda.

Nov 22, 2012 at 11:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Stroud

Dolpinhead You are mixing up Radiation with Convection. A real greenhouse warms because the physical barrier of the glass stops convection not radiation, when you open the door cooler air enters and convected heat escapes.
If glass stopped or hindered radiation it would be difficult or impossible to see through because Infrared radiation and light are different parts of the same spectrum.

Nov 22, 2012 at 11:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterForester126

Green businesses have been taking part in a scam known as ‘de-rating’, deliberately producing less energy than they are capable of in order to cash in on disincentivising government subsidies. With low-energy wind turbines given almost double the subsidy of their high-power alternatives in order to encourage new businesses to enter the market, owners of giant wind farms have been running their turbines at half capacity so they can trouser the top rate.

DECC are aware of the scam but have yet to do anything about it…
http://order-order.com/2012/11/22/how-wind-farm-owners-are-ripping-us-off/

Nov 22, 2012 at 11:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterAC1

It's here to stay and undermining the crap UEA-I-got-three-Bs-in-my-A-Levels "science" won't reverse it.

Nov 22, 2012 at 9:58 AM Justice4Rinka

Yes.

The priesthood are not going to up and say "Our religion is bollocks. Abolish the tithe and we'll find honest work as farm labourers". And there is a sufficient mass of fervent believers to ensure its perpetuation.

Nov 22, 2012 at 11:19 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

The term ''Greenhouse Gas'' is not scientific because it does not act like a greenhouse nor does it enable the atmosphere to. It reacts to IR radiation by adsorbing and emitting IR but this reduces the incoming radiation because the CO2 molecule itself warms up. Law 1 must be obeyed.
Our annual output of CO2 is 3-4% of the total annual CO2 budget the other 96-97% is natural. Do we add a lot of CO2---- No. Also consider the latest research that has demonstrated that atmospheric CO2 buildup, an annual change, starts in the Southern hemisphere not Northern we produce CO2 and there is little mixing between hemispheres.
Humans can affect climate? No, not at all. You only have to consider the enormous energies required to spark a tropical storm to know we could not possibly affect climate which would include many such storms within the 30 year period climate determining period. We can effect local weather by agriculture, forestry etc. but that is a transient thing not earth climate changing.

Nov 22, 2012 at 11:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Marshall

"When did you last hear the Stern report or decarbonisation challenged on the BBC? 2007?"

Peter Lilley did try on Newsnight on 5th September 2012.

http://www.carbonbrief.org/blog/2012/09/transcript-newsnight-on-the-arctic

Nov 22, 2012 at 11:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterDave K

Cameron made a big mistake when he hitched his wagon to the green cause. This may have been the reason he did not win an outright majority. But his government is now faced with the reality of financing the madness and keeping the lights on. It seems clear that Osborne knows that it makes no financial sense to continue to waste money on renewables and we can therefore at least hope that he will be fighting for reality.

At the other end of the financial spectrum we have the tax payers who are being hit ever harder by these stealth taxes. The polis may not be all that bright when it comes to climate science but the one thing they do understand is a good kicking in the ballot boxes by an electorate that finally realises they have been taken to the cleaners.

The trick is to get the knowledge out there to the voters.

I wonder if the BBC can help with that?

As an afterthought does anyone have details of how much we have spent on fighting climate change? When did we start? How much has it cost the average household and industry and what are the prospects to, say, 2020?

Nov 22, 2012 at 11:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterDolphinhead

As ever, a good piece. One observation though . . . of all the BBC radio programmes, I reckon Material World is by far the best. This is largely due to Quentin Cooper. He has a whimsical style and in my experience asks good questions, unlike most of his colleagues.

His questions are aften dressed up in a fluffy, gently amusing frock, but it wouldn't surprise me if his observation that "he hadn't heard about [something]" was meant to be ironic. Listen again & give the bloke a chance!

Nov 22, 2012 at 11:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterRay

All the BBC is saying is that the experts are experts and that the public should only hear from the experts.

Politicians are experts ... so the BBC doesn't broadcast views of the public?

Doctors are experts on gynaecology ... so it doesn't broadcast the views of midwives or women who want "natural" childbirth?

But ...

The BBC are broadcasting experts ... so they don't need to listen to the public?

The BBC believe in global warming ... so they don't need to listen to those with a science degree who have looked at the evidence and found it doesn't support what a highly politicised group of "scientists" have been claiming?

In other words, when the BBC endorses the view of the experts ... it only broadcasts the views of the experts, but when it doesn't like the view of the experts ... it will broadcast an opposition view.

It is just a way to claim they are being impartial ... when in fact they are being completely biased.

Nov 22, 2012 at 11:28 AM | Registered CommenterMikeHaseler

BH: That human beings can affect the climate? Without a shadow of doubt.

Without a shadow of doubt?

If changes to the climate effected by human beings are buried in the noise of natural variation and so cannot be observed or detected, can they really be said to exist?

I am eager to know, what changes in the climate have been observed that, without room for doubt, were effected by human beings?

Nov 22, 2012 at 11:32 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Forester 126. Normal window glass is opaque to SIR/LIR. Whilst a greenhouse will prevent mixing of internal with external air, so helping to raise the internal temperature, the glass transmits visible light which reacts with the internal surfaces warming them up so they emit IR which is radiatively trapped inside the greenhouse due to the glass being opaque to it. This also helps to increase internal temperatures. Heat will escape by conduction through the structure and convection from external surfaces. Visible light actually has more energy than IR.

Nov 22, 2012 at 11:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Marshall

As usual, balanced and restrained comment from the Bishop. My local newspaper the East Anglian Daily Times had an editorial on the 13th November defending the BBC over the Newsnight affair - a one off error of judgment etc. I wrote, disagreeing, and telling them about the 28. Needless to say, my letter was not published - nor any of the letters I have written to them about CRU or UEA, even though the issues are of both local and international significance. But they carry an "environment" supplement every weekend, full of the usual bilge.

Nov 22, 2012 at 11:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterMike Fowle

AC1. I posted about this scam at http://www.spectator.co.uk/features/8766481/the-great-british-wind-scam/ The authorities know about it.

Nov 22, 2012 at 11:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

BBC's little Sister downunder the ABC is similarly guilty of greenwashing climate change news. For a taster see the following op ed article published in The Australian Newspaper:

Aunty is mistaken but not malicious
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/opinion/aunty-is-mistaken-but-not-malicious/story-e6frg6zo-1225921441996

A few more via the following link at ABCNEWSWATCH: http://abcnewswatch.blogspot.com.au/p/our-articles-in-australian-newspapers.html

Nov 22, 2012 at 11:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterMarc Hendrickx

I made the point the other day that the BBC is not even being honest within its own parameters, whether because it has genuinely sold out to the green philosophy or through genuine carelessness, I don't know.
I quoted the example of Arctic summer ice levels where the BBC ought — within the terms of its own Charter — be introducing the caveat that "since records began" only means "since 1979". Unless you are a partisan actor in this drama (which the BBC has no business to be) there is nothing "sceptical" in giving an accurate picture of what is happening. To point out that there are only 30 years of reliable records is not to say that AGW does not exist.
Equally, the Beeb ought also to be pointing out that there is a strong body of opinion that says that much of the behaviour of Arctic ice is due to weather patterns that have little relationship to global warming though it is perhaps understandable that if it has nailed its colours firmly to the AGW mast it may take the view that "the consensus" does not take that view and so there is no reason to confuse the sheeple by raising the question.
What is a matter of concern is less the nailing of colours to the mast as the nailing of feet to the deck. Increasingly there is evidence — not all of it reliable, I will admit — that things are not as bad as we thought (or as bad as the eco-fanatics would like us to think). How far will we be into the next little ice age, which even some in the mainstream climate science community are admitting is a possibility, before the BBC will realise that they have got it wrong? And will this be before or after they have made themselves such a laughing stock that no-one will ever trust them as a reliable source of information again?

Nov 22, 2012 at 11:39 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

@Mike Jackson

How far will we be into the next little ice age, ..., before the BBC will realise that they have got it wrong?

http://www.baenebooks.com/p-137-fallen-angels.aspx

I'm guessing once nothing would change about their reporting regardless of the temperature. They're as corrupted by extortion-funding as the universities are.

Nov 22, 2012 at 11:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterAC1

Forester126

John Marshal

If the glass in a greenhouse is a physical barrier to heat loss by radiation then I accept my example is a bad one. Thank you both for putting me right.

Nov 22, 2012 at 11:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterDolphinhead

"Quentin Cooper, the presenter of the BBC's Material World radio programme, asked on a recent show why he had never heard about the problems with biofuels"

I'd suggest because he gets his information from a very narrow group of sources rather than reading more widely. One of the problems in believing the BBC is the "premier" news source in the world.

Nov 22, 2012 at 11:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Evans

May I attempt an answer? The public climate debate, for most part, is a historical saga not a scientific progression.The year 2006 is the junction of Katrina, the hangover of the IPCC hockey stick and the Boykoffian false balance paradigm. For the Boykoffian idea to take root, the tall claim of unprecedentedness and the devastating immediacy of a hurricane in a suitable Western hemispheric location ( that acts as 'proof') are prerequisites. Listening to different people has a high overhead. It costs effort and time and creates tension. People and establishments are ever ready to relieve this tension. 'Just let it all go, there is no need to bother with this group anymore'. 2006 provided these elements for the climate movement. The false balance idea, in addition, is a child of the scientific establishment's reactionary paranoia (as evident in the Climategate emails and Nature editorials) against the backdrop of a Bush-ruled United States.

Nov 22, 2012 at 12:06 PM | Registered Commentershub

Nov 22, 2012 at 10:51 AM | Morph

That way it stays a moot point! If they confirm it, it's true, if they deny it, it's true - remember the old newspaper adage, never believe anything until it has been officially denied!!!

Nov 22, 2012 at 12:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan the Brit

Why do the BBC see legitimacy in their behaviour?

[1] When you are a journalist, one of the axioms of your training is the power of media to effect social transformation. 'Certain issues would never get on the radar without the media' is a common cry though enough evidence exists to the contrary. Climate and environmental issues are considered classic examples, i.e., no one would bother about them if newspapers and TV didn't make a noise

From Boykoff 2004: "The mass media play an important role in the construction of environmental issues and problems"

[2] When it comes to climate change, the BBC (and not just the BBC) see themselves as 'communicators' and not journalists.

From Boykoff 2004: "Accordingly, prestige-press coverage of global warming is not just a collection of news articles; it is a social relationship between people that is mediated by news articles. The parameters of this social relationship are defined, in large part, by the many journalistic norms and values that both affect what is deemed news and influence how that news is framed"

The BBC likely sees itself as a responsible custodian of this social relationship between scientists and the public, rather than as a journalist.

I would heartily recommend Henry Bauer's "Dogmatism in Science and Medicine: How Dominant Theories Monopolize Research and Stifle the Search for Truth" at this point. It makes the point that McIntyre and Curry finally arrived at: 'Science' - as in, the paper that spewed out in the latest issue of a fancy journal, should not be used to guide policy and thinking. Science that has survived the test of time and the process of winnowing should. The former however is an essential tool in the hands of social movements which need the weight of authority to back up their claims.

The BBC and other media organisations have the former confused with the latter. Should mass media participate in the cross-questioning of 'new research', or attempt to spoonfeed it to the public thinking themselves to be scientific nannies?

Nov 22, 2012 at 12:40 PM | Registered Commentershub

Global warming is an example of a left leaning petit bourgeois mass hysteria. Otherwise known as 'fashion'. It is particularly fun because it allows one to call right leaning individuals thickos for not understanding science. That has been a very substantial part of the campaign. Please remember that the vast majority of academics are liberals or left wing.

I had a Marxist friend a number of years ago. He is now vice principal of corporate development at the local 'university'. Ha ha ha ha !!

Nov 22, 2012 at 1:06 PM | Unregistered CommentereSmiff

John Marshall

Can you explain why (plastic) polytunnels get just as hot as glass greenhouses? A subjective observation, I admit, but if the radiative component of the 'greenhouse effect' is present, it must be fairly insignificant.

Nov 22, 2012 at 1:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

This has never been about science! It is more about how some influential people are using the BBC (and the licence money) to put forward their agenda.

For example in 2005 the BBC produced (Producer Jonathon Renouf) the programme Meltdown supposedly a global warming journey. However, we now know that Renouf had firm views before the programme was finished. From Climategate II 1683: Renouf to Briffa

"Your essential job is to “prove” to Paul that what we’re experiencing now is NOT just another of those natural fluctuations we've seen in the past. The hockey stick curve is a crucial piece of evidence because it shows how abnormal the present period is – the present warming is unprecedented in speed and amplitude, something like that. This is a very big moment in the film when Paul is finally convinced of the reality of man made global warming".

Later Renouf was chief producer on the more ambitious "Climate Wars". In 2008 he wrote about the controversy the programme created (in particular with the programme's support of the Hockey Stick):

"I think that had they been with us they would have been reassured at the level of scrutiny that all the scientific claims in the series were subjected to."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/oct/02/climatechange.television

This is somewhat at odds with the Briffa email.

Given the amount of money both programmes cost the licence payers and the complaints made to the BBC about Climate Wars which the BBC Trust appeared to "sweep under the carpet", it is clear that this is not about science but political dogma.
The end justifies the means! To misquote Wilfred Own "The Old Lie"

Nov 22, 2012 at 1:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterConfusedPhoton

You all don't want to hear this, but you are already in the Third World War.

Nov 22, 2012 at 1:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Dale Huffman

"As usual, balanced and restrained comment from the Bishop. My local newspaper the East Anglian Daily Times had an editorial on the 13th November defending the BBC over the Newsnight affair - a one off error of judgment etc. I wrote, disagreeing, and telling them about the 28. Needless to say, my letter was not published - nor any of the letters I have written to them about CRU or UEA, even though the issues are of both local and international significance. But they carry an "environment" supplement every weekend, full of the usual bilge."

Nov 22, 2012 at 11:34 AM | Mike Fowle


The East Anglian Daily Times is owned by Archant. The Chairman of the Board of Archant is Richard Jewson - www.archant.co.uk/about_board.aspx

Mr Jewson also chairs the Council of UEA - www.uea.ac.uk/calendar/section2/committees/cou

QED

Nov 22, 2012 at 1:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterCassio

Interesting feature on - the BBC News website no less - that COAL seems to be the fuel of the future...! The piece includes a graph showing its useage increasing beyond 2030 - and 'renewables', even then, a tiny 'also ran'.
Perhaps there is a God after all...

Nov 22, 2012 at 1:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid

So let us be clear, we don’t even know if we have a big problem or a small one.

Nor do we really know how the climate regulates itself. It is a highly non-linear system, but for that very reason it is probably impossible for it to ‘blow up’ – or it would already have done so having frequently been subjected large disturbances.

Turbulent flow is dynamically stable and the climate is a turbulent flow. This is no proof of stability but it is a sound reason for scepticism.

Nov 22, 2012 at 1:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterMark Well

Lo and behold, new old BBC DG Lord Hall has an involvement, however remote, in 28Gate, as initiator of the Joe Smith seminars at the end of the 1990s or so I believe.

Nov 22, 2012 at 1:55 PM | Registered Commenteromnologos

A very nice summary post.

But I did hear recently someone on the BBC saying that climategate "confirmed what we had saying for years and, yes, it was vindication" and someone else saying of HTD "I can guarantee you it was a deceit". Do you feel that this takes the wind out of your argument at all?

[Not really. A five second soundbite every couple of years is not the same as making a case. The BBC have been clear with me that there is not a cat's chance of that opportunity being given.]

Nov 22, 2012 at 2:30 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

Dolphinhead; 'Bish what I find incredible is that, with the exception of the radiative physics, climate so-called science is controversial every step of the way.'

Smack! Don't rise to the temptation Alec............:o)

[Read up Poynting'e Theorem!]

Nov 22, 2012 at 2:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

@ Martin A

I am eager to know, what changes in the climate have been observed that, without room for doubt, were effected by human beings?

I can think of two. One is the UHI, most noticeably detectable where an area is urbanised around a temperature station and the readings duly go up. Another is the dust bowl phenomenon of the 1930s (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dust_Bowl) where it seems clear that agricultural practices buggered the local weather.

Of course local climate is not what the ecofascists are screeching about. Nevertheless it is worth noting that local climate appears to be eminently susceptible to change by human activities. One thinks of the Romans constructing buildings from marble, because marble was always cooler than the ambient air.

The infamous 97% of psyentists poll made no distinction between CO2-caused climate change and any other kind of human-caused climate change. This is why nobody would have disagreed with it and is thus also why nobody should have paid it any attention.

yours biting the pillow

J4R

Nov 22, 2012 at 3:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterJustice4Rinka

@Nov 22, 2012 at 10:32 AM | Phillip Bratby

Rosling's presentations are indeed excellent. This one is a very good to throw at Greens, as it shows that the more developed a country is (which can of course be most rapidly achieved with cheap access to fossil fuels), the lower the birth rate gets.

http//www.economist.com/blogs/babbage/2010/12/data_visualation

Nov 22, 2012 at 3:41 PM | Registered Commenterjeremyp99

BBC treatment of "hide the decline" offers insights, perhaps to what is wrong.

In his report to the BBC, “BBC Trust review of impartiality and accuracy of the BBC's coverage of science”, Professor Steve Jones makes a serious error. On page 69 of his report he states that a “simplification of an image for the cover of a report means that climatologists are doctoring a graph to hide global cooling”. Here he is talking about what is known as “hide the decline”. But “hide the decline” is not as Jones describes it as most here will know.

The report by Jones was done in July 2011. The mistake concerning “hide the decline” remains uncorrected in the report. Other aspects of Jones's report have had to be corrected and apologies made for the errors. This failure to correct a significant mistake suggests to me that the BBC Trust is also unaware of what is meant by “hide the decline” and, by implication, also lacking in knowledge about climate science. How can this be? Well, the answer must be that this particular matter and others of concern in climate science are simply not investigated and are unreported.

On 21 July 2011, Alison Hasting issued a reply to Jones's report on behalf of the BBC Trust. It was called: “Trusting what you see and hear: the media's role in reporting science accurately”. Her opening sentence is inaccurate. She says: “Climate change is 90 per cent likely to have been caused by humans. That is the conclusion of the influential Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007.” What the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC, says in its 2007 report is:

“Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations.”

Ms Hastings' error remains uncorrected after more than a year. From this it may be reasonable to assume that all members of the BBC Trust are unaware of her error, just as they would seem to be unaware of Jones's error regarding “hide the decline”.

On 2nd November 2011, Richard Black, a BBC environment correspondent wrote a piece on his blog about “hide the decline”. In the course of it, he repeated the error made by Jones, characterising “hide the decline” as a concealment of a cooling global temperature. He wrote:
“ The email was taken to be an admission that Prof Jones and others were deliberately hiding the fact that global temperatures had been falling during the recent decade – hiding proof that global warming had stopped.”
Later, Black made an apology and amended his blog when others in the blogging world (His Grace was one) told him of his error. It was a curious error to make - for this reason. On 31 March 2010, Black wrote a piece called, “MPs message of climate trust.” This reported the conclusions of the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee following the release of the Climategate emails. One finding said: “...insofar as we have been able to consider accusations of dishonesty – for example,Professor Jones's alleged attempt to “hide the decline” - we consider that there is no case to answer.”

Commenting on this finding, Black stated:
“ However, on the most significant and potentially damaging of the accusations – that Professor Jones and other climate scientists sought to subvert the peer review process, and manipulate data in a manner calculated to produce a picture of rising temperatures ( the infamous “trick” e-mail) – the university and Prfoessor Jones are in the clear: ...”
Black manages to describe “hide the decline” on 31 March 2010 as relating to global warming and on 2 November 2011 as relating to global cooling. I find it hard to believe that Black is such an incompetent reporter that he cannot remember how and why he reported a subject he himself described as “significant” after the passing of 19 months. His misrepresentation of “hide the decline” looks to me to be deliberate.

I have looked without success for reporting from the BBC that reflects the important elements of “hiding the decline”. These are, for me (a non-scientist) in no particular order:
the dishonesty and lack of integrity of the scientists involved;
the deception, by scientists and the IPCC authors involved, of policy makers and the public;
that attributing late 20th century warming to mankind is much more uncertain than acknowledged;
the various inquiries into Climategate were largely useless;
as a result of such uselessness and buck passing the quality of the science emerging from the Climatic Research Unit has not been evaluated.
When it is evaluated, many proxy temperature reconstructions will need to be re-examined and withdrawn.

Nov 22, 2012 at 3:55 PM | Unregistered Commentersam

"When did you last hear the Stern report or decarbonisation challenged on the BBC? 2007?"

Peter Lilley did try on Newsnight on 5th September 2012.

http://www.carbonbrief.org/blog/2012/09/transcript-newsnight-on-the-arctic

Nov 22, 2012 at 11:22 AM | Dave K
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Yes - regardless, the BBC ambushed him, and the opening of the portion with Lilley contravened what he had agreed with the BBC regarding the terms of the interview. They can't help themselves. The end justifies the means.

Nov 22, 2012 at 4:00 PM | Registered Commenterjeremyp99

@Mike Jackson

How far will we be into the next little ice age, ..., before the BBC will realise that they have got it wrong?

http://www.baenebooks.com/p-137-fallen-angels.aspx

I'm guessing once nothing would change about their reporting regardless of the temperature. They're as corrupted by extortion-funding as the universities are.

Nov 22, 2012 at 11:54 AM | AC1
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Anyway, we know now thanks to the warmers, that when it gets colder, it's because it's getting warmer. OK? On message now please.

Nov 22, 2012 at 4:07 PM | Registered Commenterjeremyp99

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