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Birthday gongs

The Queen's birthday honours list was announced today. Climatologists were not in evidence but there were a couple of familiar names: Iain Stewart of Climate Wars fame and Fiona Fox of the Science Media Centre.

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Reader Comments (33)

Ms Fiona Bernadette Fox. Chief executive officer, Science Media Centre. For services to science. (London)
Anybody gotta list of these services?

Jun 15, 2013 at 11:17 AM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

Iain Stewart should stick to geology his climatology is crap.

Jun 15, 2013 at 11:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Marshall

In Climate Wars, Stewart introduces the sceptics argument episode one 38 minutes.

The global warming sceptics argue that the Earth's climate system is simply too vast for human's to change it.

Bishop, if that's what you believe, why did you let Nic Lewis publish about climate sensitivity being large enough to cause significant warming?

Jun 15, 2013 at 11:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterManicBeancounter

Ms Fox has many fans among journalists. It's an achievement.

Jun 15, 2013 at 11:53 AM | Registered Commenteromnologos

I quite like Tony Robinson, but a knighthood seems a bit OTT. He's not exactly Olivier, is he?

Jun 15, 2013 at 12:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

Well, it is nice for Iain and Fiona to get this recognition, but I fear it will only serve to encourage them.

Here is something to discourage them: Ten Reasons Why the Man-Made Global Warming Theory is Wrong.

Jun 15, 2013 at 12:25 PM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

Now then, now then,

the honours system

how's about that then

Jun 15, 2013 at 1:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterAnoneumouse

This (lengthy) extract is from Fiona Fox's blog at SMC:
MAY 23, 2013
A chorus of expert voices serves science, the media and the public

Tim and Simon argued for consistent clear messages, while Pallab and Fiona argued for multiple voices, even if those voices occasionally disagreed. Fiona’s argument went as follows, and a personal viewpoint from Adrian can be seen below…

It’s obvious the SMC would be for many voices because:

We are not held responsible for public health outcomes
We are never attacked from all sides for getting it wrong in the way government and NICE are
We were set up to increase the number of scientists speaking out in the media during times of controversy
However, I do happen to believe in having as many expert voices out there as possible despite my vested interests, because:

There is no longer any choice
It’s good both for science and for the public understanding of science
Not having vocal experts potentially undermines public understanding of science and discourages other scientists’ engagement in the media

Why do we have no choice?

With 24 hour news, the old ways don’t work. On swine flu, volcanic ash clouds, Fukushima, ash dieback, H7N9, horsemeat etc. the media will not wait for the fully informed, agreed messages.
Journalists need to fill multiple slots and if those interviewees are not top quality independent scientists they WILL be NGOs, politicians, newspaper commentators, and single issue protest groups.
These people are ideologically driven and opportunist, which is fine, but it means much of the discussion will be not based on accurate evidence based information. Just look at GM and MMR 10 years ago.
Even if people like the Department of Health, Health Protection Agency or Food Standards Agency were running press briefings every hour (which they are not!) journalists would still want a third party independent expert due to their natural distrust of any ‘official position’.

Why is many voices good both for science and for the public understanding of science?

Because crises are the best time for the public to hear from experts; former education minister Estelle Morris said she learned more about radiation through experts in the media during Fukushima than she had through her formal education.
Because having more scientists in the news (at times when people care) means more opportunities for them to talk about how science works, and that includes the conflict and contesting of claims that is at the heart of science.
Because they hear from people who respect the scientific approach, accuracy and evidence AS WELL AS from people who are ideologically driven and have much less respect for evidence.
Because individual scientists who have worked on an issue for 30 years get the chance to use that expertise to inform the public debate, not just to inform the government behind closed doors.
Because the public are not stupid – they can work out that the independent expert from Stirling University should not carry the same weight as the Chief Medical Officer…

Why does not having vocal experts undermine public understanding of science and discourage other scientists’ from engaging?

Because it looks like government and official agencies are hiding things/censoring experts.
Because the risks of mixed messages are exaggerated and should be intelligently managed by press officers. When chairing SAGE during swine flu, former Government Chief Scientific Advisor John Beddington was advised to deny there had been any disagreement by the scientists within SAGE on whether to roll out Tamiflu to everyone, or at-risk groups only. Beddington ignored this advice and was open about the fact that there was disagreement within the committee without resulting in damaging media coverage.
Because the public and the media lose the chance to hear lots of accurate evidence based information in the height of a media frenzy
Because wonderful scientists who want to communicate their expertise to the public feel discouraged and disincentivised. One scientist we have worked with lamented the fact that because they can’t speak out when asked to, ultimately, they will no longer be regarded as authorities in their area.

I read that to say that FF is in favour of having multiple and potentially contrary views presented. Yet from the brief look at their material on climate change it looks to be the same tired 'consensus' voices that are taken as the reference:

If Paul Dennis and Paul Mathews are reading, I would be interested to know if either of you have had any contact or approach from the SMC? Have you ever contacted them or cc'd them on any of your scientific comments?

And looking to the future, it will be interesting to see if (or how) the SMC cover Murry Salby's work, should it be published.

Jun 15, 2013 at 1:34 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

JamesP - I think you''ll find that Tony Robinsons 'K' is more to do with his political activism than his acting. Compare his award with the CBE for Rowan Atkinson; acting plus charity plus politics appears to be a weightier combination than acting plus charity alone.

Jun 15, 2013 at 1:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterCumbrian Lad

Ian Stewart 's next TV programme as described in the Radio Times today [a step back/forward or the same old guff?]

Horizon: Fracking the New Energy Rush
Hydraulic fracking of shale gas promises to unlock a huge new source of energy. Should we be excited or anxious? Will it provide secure reserves of cheap gas or will it contaminate drinking water and blight rural communities? Ian Stewart applies a scientific mindset to look at what the American experience can teach us.
After a lot of driving...Stewart witnesses Pennsylvania water fizzing with methane and hears how the use of secret proprietary fracking fluids makes medical treatment for those affected impossible. It's a worrying picture but one he believes needn't apply here.

Jun 15, 2013 at 2:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterMessenger

Let's not be churlish. Almost any bugger could qualify for Queen's Birthday honours depending on recommendations. I'm still hoping for a Sir Gixxerboy of Auckland.

Jun 15, 2013 at 2:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterGixxerboy

Cumbrian Lad

I know. I'm just jealous, although I imagine it's a bit of a mixed blessing for well-established lefties...

Jun 15, 2013 at 3:00 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

'Cumbrian Lad

I know. I'm just jealous, although I imagine it's a bit of a mixed blessing for well-established lefties...'

e.g. Lord Prescott of Hypocrisia.

Jun 15, 2013 at 3:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterIan E

'Tony Robinsons 'K' ' : and for his title? How about Sir Black O'Dair - making him the first of a punning clan?

Jun 15, 2013 at 3:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterIan E

Robinson got his K for being such a Labour luvvie, 'though I must admit, Blackadder made him. Atkinson failed to get a K because he fought (correctly IMHO) for freedom to call a spade a shovel.

I would have liked to have seen a Canadian list honouring Steve McIntyre. However, I note a few in the Solomon Isles, so maybe someone close to Willis. ;-)

Jun 15, 2013 at 3:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterSnotrocket

"I quite like Tony Robinson, but a knighthood seems a bit OTT."

It's the archaeology for the plebs wot done it?

Jun 15, 2013 at 4:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterJabba the Cat

Ooohhhh that would be the Fiona Fox who coached witness statements from journalists in a successful effort to maintain a dishonest public record regarding the "11 degrees" controversy??

Yes, she has been a loyal, devoted servant to The Cause and deserves such public honors.

Jun 15, 2013 at 6:09 PM | Registered CommenterSkiphil


Jun 15, 2013 at 6:51 PM | Unregistered CommenternoTrohpywins

One missed out here - Juliet Davenport - Founder of Good Energy (wassat?) and recidivist serial subsidy pickpocket and sanctimonious campaigning Gweenie gets an OBE.(Does Charles get to pick a few?)

She is also employer of Hugh Fearnley-Wittingstal's eco activist sister who busies herself promoting windmills in Wiltshire - and nabbing all the press coverage due to the fawning twerps who produce the local rag.

'lil Soph's eco activism job description seems ( Head of Campaign Partnerships) looks to me more like a local government non-job (OK, an ad agency I suppose might have one) - Good Energy seems rather NGO flavoured.....

Jun 15, 2013 at 7:13 PM | Registered Commentertomo

It's amazing that she got he gong after her admission that she made phone calls pretending to be someone else.

Jun 15, 2013 at 8:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterCeed

I think this gong is more for the part she played in the MMR coverup and subsequent stitch up of Wakefield, rather than her role in spinning AGW. But she does exhibit Gleickian traits: e.g. the telephone call she made for disgraced ex-MP Jim Devine's who was later found guilty of bullying and harassing his secretary: Glasgow Herald, Nov 28th 2010.

Jun 15, 2013 at 8:40 PM | Unregistered Commenterlapogus

Ian and Fi were probably put forward by The BBC !! They have done nothing else of note. In fact they have done nothing of note .

Jun 15, 2013 at 9:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

You have to wonder about the integrity of a monarch who is prepared to rubber stamp all of this. There are various debates out there about what vestigial powers our current monarch could have and should have exercised, but allowing her name to be placed on this long-running shyster-pork-barrel-fest in my opinion calls into question whether she is in possession of any intelligence at all. It would scarcely result in a constitutional crisis if she declined to condone some of the more shady and lightweight proposals over the years.

Jun 15, 2013 at 9:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterMax Roberts

We can predict what James thinks about Fiona Fox's 'honour', I think

Jun 15, 2013 at 10:09 PM | Registered CommenterPharos

What is it about June and eco-events? The Davenport mentioned by tomo at 7:13 PM is linked to Good Energy with a Big Green Week on 15th-21st June this year. She also appeared with a supporting quote on the site of the short-lived Schools Low Carbon Day 24th June 2010. More details here:

Is it just standard promotional work for their energy interests which they prepare for through the winter, and see through in June before their holidays? The subsidy-farming is presumably being quite successful. At the expense of everyone else in the UK who is not on the gain side of the transfer, and that is almost everyone. Is this injustice what OBEs are meant to recognise? Topsy-turvy or what?

Jun 15, 2013 at 10:24 PM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

Check this news out.

After Yeo the knifes are out for Immature Windfarms.

Jun 16, 2013 at 7:14 AM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

Fiona Fox the human photocopying machine?

Her talents are so extensive that she has taken the 'journal' of journalist all to together leaving just 'list '

Jun 16, 2013 at 12:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterKnR

I should think the chances of Iain Stewart and the BBC producing a factual, honest, objective, and balanced programme about fracking, free of scare mongering, are so remote I am not willing to wager an hour of my precious time on it.

Jun 16, 2013 at 12:43 PM | Unregistered Commentermike fowle

@John Shade

Ms Davenport and her double barreled 'sleb sibling 'oppo garner much gushing column inches in the local rags - notably with either no comments or truncated comments once a critical voice or two gets going.

I prefer not to think of it as subsidy farming but as larceny at best. It's actually worse because they can't resist ladling on other stuff about acceptable lifestyles and the entire prancing, drumming, Andean hat wearing carnival of sneery eco-dogma to salve the guilt ridden consciences of their no doubt otherwise smug metro lefty bien pensant believers customers.

The lies spouted and utterly wonky arithmetic are utterly shameless. If Good Energy provided their energy at true cost - I wonder how many would stay loyal? ( I think we know the answer to that)

End all renewable subsidies now and starve these parasites. A gong for making poor people poorer.

Jun 16, 2013 at 10:56 PM | Registered Commentertomo

Don't forget that Ms Fox used to be a member of the Revolutionary Communist Party.

This is just another step on the long march through the institutions.

Jun 17, 2013 at 3:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterDead Dog Bounce

n b y - no, I haven't any contact with the SMC. I have only heard about them through climate blogs. FF misled Leveson, as noted by Skiphil above and described in detail in the Bish submission. She's a former leading light of communism. She set up SMC herself, despite having no science background at all. And tomorrow someone from her organisation is giving oral evidence to MPs about climate scepticism, along with another political activist with no science background.

Jun 18, 2013 at 9:10 AM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

According to Fiona, she doesn't even have a single science 'O' level ;(

Jun 18, 2013 at 9:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Paul M - thanks for that. I think specific critiques or contributions from academics like yourself and Paul Dennis, on points directly within your area of expertise, are very valuable.

The FFSMC claims it is there to represent scientists on all sides of an argument, so I wonder if you or Paul D should cc them and interested journalists such as David Rose, Christopher Booker, James Dellingpole on your comments?

Perhaps a waste of time, but a AFAICT there are no sceptical CC views aired via the SMC. However given that the lack of GW is now being more widely talked about, and that FF has her new prize, contact might be timely.

Jun 19, 2013 at 2:03 AM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

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