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« Ward's murky past | Main | Green propaganda can be dangerous »
Saturday
Aug312013

More or less bonkers

Alex Cull has posted a transcript of yesterday's More or Less show on the BBC, which had a segment on climate refugees. It seems that Labour's Chris Bryant has been citing a study that has long since been debunked and which is so embarrassingly wrong that even COIN and the UN have disowned it.

What Chris Bryant was quoting in his speech was a kind of adding up all of the people who've been displaced by any kind of natural disaster, and labelling them "climate refugees". And that's problematic for a number of reasons. Firstly, because the relationship between natural disasters and climate change is complicated - it's certainly true that climate change might be making some of those particular disasters more likely, but it's certainly not the case that we can attribute all of those individual displacements to climate change alone.

Well worth a read.

 

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Reader Comments (15)

Another excerpt --
Stephen Castles: "Norman Myers, who I know and we've discussed together, is an environmentalist. And I think his objective, in putting forward these dramatic projections, was to really scare public opinion and politicians into taking action on climate change, which of course is a very laudable motive. But the problem was that he really used a method to make projections that is really not permissible at all - he simply took a map of the world, worked out what areas would be inundated if the sea rose, say, by 50 centimetres, and then simply assumed that all the people affected by this sea level rise would have to migrate, and a lot of them would migrate to developed countries. And really there was no basis for it."

Interesting that he considers scaring people into action as a laudable motive in the first place.

Aug 31, 2013 at 10:07 PM | Registered CommenterHaroldW

Apart from "I'm sorry I Haven't a Clue", "More or Less" is the only decent programme on Radio 4. It has a nice blend of humour with factual articles and doesn't pull any punches when it comes to crticising anyone who uses bad staristics. I can't fathom out why it is still allowed to be broadcast. All the other decent science programmes that used to be on Radio 4 have been culled or dumbed down. This has probably sounded the death knell for the programme. I shall miss the stories from Trumpton.

Aug 31, 2013 at 10:12 PM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Andrew Neil interviews Headcase Davey on tomorrows Daily politics for another round presumably to discuss the lack of warming and I suspect sea temperatures which is what Neil promised the last time Davey was on the programme.

Aug 31, 2013 at 10:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaul

I am not too happy with the title of the post. It sounded to me as if More or Less had jumped the shark. Luckily I had the time to read on, and it's Chris Bryant the one who ends up in the "is he bonkers?" section. I wonder how many others will be similarly having the wrong impression, especially if they only go by the post's title and contents.

Just saying...

Aug 31, 2013 at 11:06 PM | Registered Commenteromnologos

Chris Bryant - Common Purpose nabob with a track record of making stuff up or simply not doing due diligence on the provenance of his assertions, Ex Head of "European Affairs" at the BBC , Glenda Jackson's biographer, a prominent trendy apparatchik in the New Labour administration that formed the UKBA and perverted the immigration system for ideological purposes. Trades on his gay and PC - ness rather than his competence - what's not to like? </sarc>

With politicians like this on "our side" who needs enemies?

The execrable Davey on TV with Brillo this morning? ding-ding, round 2 - I hope Mr. Neil lands some really telling low blows.

Sep 1, 2013 at 12:59 AM | Registered Commentertomo

"Stephen Castles: Norman Myers, who I know and we've discussed together, is an environmentalist. And I think his objective, in putting forward these dramatic projections, was to really scare public opinion and politicians into taking action on climate change, which of course is a very laudable motive"

"Laudable" Deserving of praise, comendable and worthy.

In my opinion, Norman Myers thinks like a hockey stick.

Sep 1, 2013 at 1:10 AM | Unregistered Commenterpesadia

More or less is great, its a beacon of not-shitness in a darkness of people-who-rely-on-socialism-broadcasting-soacialist-propaganda. Its not perfect - the same episode seemed to claim that it was a problem that the emotional value of badgers was not given a monetary value in the cost/benefit analysis of the badger cull but its miles better than most if the stuff we are forced to pay for.

I've heard the preseter, Tim Harford, on Freakonomics Radio explaining that even though the wind turbine on the top of some BBC building made no environmental sense, it made economic sense when you took into account the PR value if the TV screen displaying the amount of CO2 saved in the lobby. Its in the episode in this link I hope http://freakonomics.com/2011/07/07/hey-baby-is-that-a-prius-you%E2%80%99re-driving/

Sep 1, 2013 at 1:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterRich

That's Chris 'underpants' Bryant. Tomo has him to a tee.

Google it if you have a strong stomach.

Sep 1, 2013 at 7:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterSwiss Bob

I agree with those who suggest that 'More or Less' is one of the few decent programmes left on Radio 4. Tim Harford is one of what is now, sadly, a rare breed of presenter. He strives for objectivity and this has led him to tackle issues such as Christine Hamilton's claim about high crime rates amongst Romanian immigrants. Against a chorus of criticism about her at the BBC he showed that she was, in fact, largely correct.

If only the BBC could return to this standard of presentation as the norm; we would have a much better informed population.

Sep 1, 2013 at 8:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Jones

What's truly lovely about all of this is that the 200 million figure by 2050. It's smaller than the current levels of international migration.

So even if it did happen it's the sort of thing we already cope with anyway.

Sep 1, 2013 at 9:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterTim Worstall

The Political Establishment Talking Tough on old reliable Climate Change

Much easier than than not Talking Tough on Syria making themselfs look a bunch of cowering pussies.

Sep 1, 2013 at 9:09 AM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

Another vote here in support of 'More or Less'. It's about the only BBC radio programme left on air that can be seen as properly scientific, so its days must be numbered. All of the others have been dumbed down to a point where they are no more than propaganda and puff pieces.

Quentin Cooper on Material World has just been taken out, probably because he had the bad habit of asking (and following through) proper questions rather than just mindlessly spouting the BBC's CC line. I miss him.

All we're left with is drivel like 'Science in Action'. There's a misnomer. My wife won't let me listen to it any more because of the breakages when I throw things.

Sep 1, 2013 at 10:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterDevonshireDozer

I was convinced this was a spoof - until I listened to the programme. Hilarious - and refreshing that there are little oases of sanity at the Beeb. Tim Worstall's comment is relevant too - people moving from one place to another is part of life. A million people a week move from rural poverty to the opportunities and vibrancy of the city - staggering numbers of people improving their lives. But easy (and false) to characterise these people as 'refugees'.

Sep 1, 2013 at 3:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterAnteros

"Stephen Castles: Norman Myers, who I know and we've discussed together, is an environmentalist. And I think his objective, in putting forward these dramatic projections, was to really scare public opinion and politicians into taking action on climate change, which of course is a very laudable motive."

Laudable? Irresponsible more like, making up numbers that might result in a costly and unnecessary course of action without any evidence.

Sep 2, 2013 at 7:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterThinkingScientist

The BBC has a good article on this: “How many climate migrants will there be?” (2 September 2013).

Sep 2, 2013 at 9:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterDouglas J. Keenan

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