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« Polar bear science | Main | Missing the point? »

Material World on gas and climate models

The  BBC's  Material World programme today looked at the climate models. The show featured Brian Hoskins and Corinne Le Quere. An excerpt of the show is below.

There are some interesting comments from these climate scientists about the credibility of economic models as well as on the impact of slow warming (not much) as opposed to extreme events (much more).

Material World excerpt

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Reader Comments (11)

Actually this was last Thursday's edition and we discussed it on unthreaded last week.

Sep 26, 2012 at 8:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Tallbloke also discusses it at his talkshop.

Sep 26, 2012 at 8:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Deja vu

Sep 26, 2012 at 8:40 PM | Registered CommenterLord Beaverbrook

Professor Sir Brian Hoskins claims that the sophisticated models are as complex as the real world... he clearly has a clear grasp of everything.

Sep 26, 2012 at 10:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterZT

Corine La Quere ? You've just made that up. You unmitigated rascal.

Sep 26, 2012 at 11:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Crawford

I listened to the Life Scientific on the way to work the other day, and Prof. Jim Al-Khalili got his usual "climate change" comment in (they were discussing models), as he does every single week. The woman he was interviewing (nothing to do with climate science) said she didn't have all that much confidence in models due to their complexity. Al-Khalili moved swiftly on :).

Sep 27, 2012 at 12:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterRobinson

on "Big Ideas" ABC Radio National program in australia last nite, we had the RSA Chief Exec Matthew Taylor giving his annual Lecture:

12 Sept: RSA: The Power to act: a new angle on our toughest problems
Matthew Taylor argues that a power deficit is at the heart of some of the world's most complex and pressing problems, and proposes an ambitious new framework in his 2012 Chief Executive's Annual Lecture

from 4 mins to 6mins is his "climate change" analogy, which is presumably the basis for all that follows - :

Taylor doesn't use "climate change" in the Observer piece below but, in the RSA lecture, he adds "fatalism" to his three ways of thinking and singles out Obama for telling the truth, like JFK, by stating he can't bring change, only the people can. Taylor makes no mention of the fact Obama rhetorically promised "change" - along with hope - in his 2008 election campaign. otherwise, the Observer rant is pretty similar to his RSA lecture and the RSA "Power Failure" piece with its odd use of "wicked":

9 Sept: Observer: Matthew Taylor: Party conferences: where are the big solutions our big problems call for?
Nothing less than social change at a fundamental level will do
Reflecting the way we have evolved as a species, there are three fundamental ways of thinking about and pursuing social change: hierarchical authority, solidarity and individual aspiration...
Barack Obama took a risk last week when he told his party that change in America will take a generation...

RSA: Autumn RSA Journal: Power failure
Matthew Taylor writes that faced with the dissolution of traditional hierarchies and diminishing allegiance to civic institutions, politicians will need to draw on all of humanity's competing instincts to tackle entrenched social problems...
And, despite our best intentions, we are still far from working out how to live within the limits scientists think we should set as a matter of global urgency on carbon emissions...
An interesting initiative is the Common Cause alliance of development and environmental charities that is exploring how to go beyond traditional social marketing to have a deeper impact on social values...
While credible hierarchies and stronger solidarity can help to align individual aspiration with the kind of social ambition and responsibility necessary to solve wicked problems, it is also important that the trends Adam describes are matched by insight into the limitations of possessive individualism...
Rarely, if ever, are the ingredients for progress so richly available as they were for London 2012. Nevertheless, to see a nation that is prone to scepticism and pessimism amazing itself and impressing the world with its capacity for engagement, mobilisation and collective joy is to get a glimpse of the alignment of forces that could enable significant progress in tackling wicked issues...

Sep 27, 2012 at 12:46 AM | Unregistered Commenterpat

hierarchical authority: Fails due to economics being a distributed computation.
solidarity: Fails due to game theory.
individual aspiration: Works , but doesn't allow narcissists to run other peoples lives as much as they'd like.

Sep 27, 2012 at 3:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterAC1


Jim Al-Khalili got his usual "climate change" comment in..

I'm curious to know if that's his own prejudice or the Beeb's - i.e. has he (and anyone covering similar ground) been instructed to make reference where possible? In the same way, the Today programme always mentions melting ice when it covers the Arctic, but always something else when discussing the Antarctic.

This morning, there was a piece on electric cars that failed to mention the significant withdrawal by Toyota of its EQ model, on the grounds that "there’s no demand for it, not while battery technology is failing to provide comparable range to a tank of petrol".

I admit to some bias in the opposite direction, but I'm not paid not to be, and if there's an instruction floating around the BBC, it could be an important piece of paper.

Sep 27, 2012 at 9:01 AM | Registered Commenterjamesp


I'd be surprised if it was written down. It's what you get when you only hire like-minded 'individuals' for an organisation.

Sep 27, 2012 at 11:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-record

My faith in models has not changed.
Sir Brian et al live in a dream world. He claims to compare model output with data but what data? the real time observed data or the ''corrected to match the models'' data.
So it is still CO2 that drives climate not the sun and all the other inputs, planetary and cormic, many not known therefore not modeled.
Models nearly as complex as the real world? you must be joking.

Sep 27, 2012 at 11:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Marshall

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