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Newsnight does Antarctic sea ice

I can barely keep up with all the climate and energy stuff on the airwaves in the last couple of days. Last night Matt Ridley and Tamsin Edwards were on Newsnight discussing the enigma of the increasing Antarctic sea ice. This was preceded by a review of recent theories about the science presented by Helen Czerski, which was pretty good really, and in particular touched on what I consider to be the key point: that if the models fail to predict changes in the ice then there is something missing in the models. This Eureka moment was then closely followed by Evan Davis noting that global warming is "all about the models".

Perhaps we are getting somewhere.

Video here, from 34:00.

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Reader Comments (46)

On an optimistic note, the Met office's new supercomputer is the ideal time for them to back off form alarmism. They can say that the new computer is more accurate and thus save face if they have to moderate the message.

Oct 29, 2014 at 10:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

The film was too long and the discussion too short, as often on Newsnight. Tamsin's expression when they were stopped in their tracks showed she felt they were just about to get started.

Oct 29, 2014 at 10:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Page

I have been anticipating the wheels coming off the CAGW juggernaught for years now. Every time I start to think that this time must be it, I end up being disappointed yet again. Surely it can't be far off now can it? I'm not sure how I am going to keep all my smugness under control when it finally does.

Oct 29, 2014 at 10:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterStonyground

That such a BBC piece is even broadcast is progress, but subtle bias is still inherent - Artic sea ice is collapsing at an 'alarming' rate while the (record) Antarctic sea ice is merely 'growing', and so on.

Notice how Tamsin started by admitting several times 'we don't know everything' and 'models aren't perfect' in order to deflect from their failings, but finished by claiming the models are still very good. (Despite Matt Ridley's efforts to point out they're not). Questions abounded, while certainty was in shorter supply. Still, she came across well and as much fairer-minded than some of the eco-loons who've preceded her, so fair play for that.

Evan Davies is clearly sold hook, line and sinker on AGW.

Overall, it was a clear winding down of rhetoric compared to what has gone before.

Oct 29, 2014 at 10:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterCheshirered

Agree with John Page. Like most BBC items, they are long on propaganda, short on debate.

Helen Czerski is a fully paid-up member of the BBC alarmist blob. She is too highly paid by the BBC to produce anything unbiased.

Oct 29, 2014 at 10:27 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Watched it last night. Pity that when the claim about declining Arctic ice was made, Matt Ridley was not able to point out that it's been increasing in recent years. One scientist in the film stated that the increase in Antarctic sea ice may be due to changes in wind patterns, without acknowledging that winds also likely caused the dip in Arctic sea ice. Overall it was a decent piece, though it may have been useful if someone had pointed to Tamsin's blog ' All models are wrong'

Oct 29, 2014 at 10:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterBloke down the pub

Viscount Ridley was chairman of Northern Rock when it collapsed. I would not have much confidence in the judgement of a man who allowed a run on his own bank.

Oct 29, 2014 at 10:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

Typical warmist response EM, if you can't argue the message play the man.

Oct 29, 2014 at 10:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterNial

Typical warmist response EM, if you can't refute the message play the man.

Oct 29, 2014 at 10:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterNial

Do not feed the troll.

Oct 29, 2014 at 10:42 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

@ Phillip

Actually it's interesting that an ad hom is the best that EM can muster ... the alarmist balloon really is looking more like a used prophylactic these days. As I said on another thread, he'll be much better off now walking the dog whilst waiting for an intelligent thought to strike. I shan't be holding my breath.

Oct 29, 2014 at 10:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterJerryM

I live outside the UK and can't play the BBC Newsnight link above.

Anyone please have any ideas how one might get round this?

Oct 29, 2014 at 11:07 AM | Unregistered Commenterjones

I agree, it was fairly good, though as John Page says, too much time was devoted to the film and the discussion was too short.
It was good that the issue was mentioned at all, since the average Newsnight viewer would probably not be aware of the record high Antarctic sea ice. The claim that the increasing ice is caused by warming will have raised some eyebrows, and Evan seemed a bit dubious about this himself. He said something like "sceptic could be forgiven for looking at scientists trying to use growth in ice as evidence for climate change and global warming ... you're using everything as evidence..."

Oct 29, 2014 at 11:09 AM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

Good to see Newsnight beginning to ask some questions but the BBC bias, ignorance and cherry-picking still shone through regardless. e.g. the carte blanche acceptance that Arctic sea ice data began in 1979 when there is satellite data back to 1971 (as documented by the IPCC in 1990), and also historical data back to the 1950s, which suggests all the alarmist panic over Arctic sea-ice recession in the last 10 years is cherry-picking malfeasance.

There was some real bollocks in the video piece also, particularly from the Dutch scientist who asserted the extra sea-ice has come from the land ice 'melting'. The average temperature on the continent is well below zero so melting is a relatively rare event, except perhaps on the peninsula, which is a small percentage of the total land mass area. The surface station temperature data suggests there has been no warming at all, e.g. Hadcrut 70-90S area weighted, 1957-2013.

Interesting that winds are being posited as possible explanation for the increased sea-ice, if only they would apply this reasoning to the Arctic, where northerly winds can transport millions of tonnes of ice down the Fram Strait (as happened in 2007). But at least more people now know the climate models have failed, with regard to Antarctica at least, so as Bish says, maybe we are getting somewhere. Too slowly for my liking though.

Oct 29, 2014 at 11:10 AM | Registered Commenterlapogus

@Bloke down the pub.

'Pity that when the claim about declining Arctic ice was made, Matt Ridley was not able to point out that it's been increasing in recent years'

Yes indeed, it seems to be increasing at a rate of 1,000,000 sq km per week lately. Should make 9,000,000 sq km by the weekend which means it will hit the 2000-2010 average.

Oct 29, 2014 at 11:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterJazznick

Oct 29, 2014 at 11:07 AM | Unregistered Commenter jones

You need to have a UK IP address to view BBC content on-line. There are proxy services that offer this

Oct 29, 2014 at 11:15 AM | Unregistered Commenteranon

I live outside the UK and can't play the BBC Newsnight link above.
Anyone please have any ideas how one might get round this?
Oct 29, 2014 at 11:07 AM | Unregistered Commenter jones

Move to the UK, but you will have to pay flight taxes to land here. Income taxes are about 20-40% depending on how much you earn. Local taxes are about £1200-2000 p.a. depending on the size of your hovel. Electricity and domestic heating gas prices are extortionate, and you also have to pay 20% sales tax on just about everything else you buy. You will also have to pay the BBC a compulsory TV tax of about £200 a year. It is not worth it.

Oct 29, 2014 at 11:23 AM | Registered Commenterlapogus

Thank you kindly anon but my computer literacy struggles beyond the linguistic equivalent of "A is for Apple"!!!

Was hoping some kind soul would upload it onto You-Tube....I've looked but not there...I think...

Thanks again though.

Oct 29, 2014 at 11:25 AM | Unregistered Commenterjones

Ahh, lapogus,

Indeed, your points were also in a much longer list that I had as reasons for leaving in the first place....!

Oh, and it's far to bloody cold there....



Oct 29, 2014 at 11:29 AM | Unregistered Commenterjones

Whereas, EM, I'd listen to what was being said, rather than by whom it was being said.

Oct 29, 2014 at 11:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterSteveW

Surely this must be the first time that the BBC has allowed a reasonable, polite and balanced discussion to occur on the uncertainty of climatic impacts. By inference, this piece was actually questioning whether climate risks have been overstated and that current climate policy ambitions might be excessive and wasteful.

Oct 29, 2014 at 11:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterChairman Al

Two things from this good and objective piece last night:
a) Matt Ridley's acceptance of the basic science but eschewing alarmism is acceptable to the BBC . The fact that this accounts for nearly every so called sceptic has so far evaded them. This is far more difficult for the CAGW brigade to challenge.
b) Evan Davis as an economist used logic in his interview. He was the most sceptical of all in my view.

Pity this had not gone out at the beginning of the programme, or better still been thefocus of an Horizon edition.

Oct 29, 2014 at 11:43 AM | Unregistered Commentertrefjon

I live outside the UK and can't play the BBC Newsnight link above.

Anyone please have any ideas how one might get round this?

Oct 29, 2014 at 11:07 AM | jones
VPN. Private Internet Access are pretty cheap.

Oct 29, 2014 at 12:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterJeremy Poynton

So Newsnight has stopped journalists from reporting about science and they ask scientists to interview and report on scientists...great.

And Tamsin "The models are working fine, there is no problem" was a hope of being a bridge but it seems she's as mush a part of the "consensus" as its possible to be.

Oct 29, 2014 at 12:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterSeedy

Evan Davies is clearly sold hook, line and sinker on AGW.

Overall, it was a clear winding down of rhetoric compared to what has gone before.


Evan Davies is still being paid by the Biased Broadcasting Company.

Oct 29, 2014 at 12:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

Thanks for some nice comments! I hope to put the clip online myself at some point for the un-VPNed.

And yes, mentioning my blog was one of the things I was just about to say when cut off :)


Oct 29, 2014 at 12:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterTamsin Edwards

I live outside the UK and can't play the BBC Newsnight link above.

Anyone please have any ideas how one might get round this?

Oct 29, 2014 at 11:07 AM | jones
VPN. Private Internet Access are pretty cheap.

Jeremy Poynton

You can buy a VPN from the BBC at £7/month if you want to waste your money. BEWARE pther FREE ones. They plant all sorts of crap on your PC.

Oct 29, 2014 at 12:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

Earlier this year I released the greatly expanded version of my article 'historic variations in arctic ice', this time covering the astonishing melt during the 1920 to 1940 period.

What struck me as I researched this at the Met office in Exeter and The Scott Polar institute in Cambridge was that both the Arctic AND the Antarctic was melting at the same time in the mid 20th century and the Antarctic seemed to have been in retreat by 1900 or so.

Why one pole is now melting whilst the other is increasing I will leave to the experts to decide, but I don't see anyone mentioning the substantial pre AGW melting at both poles in the early 20th century and the half hearted apparently AGW fuelled melt and increase we can observe now. Any suggestions?


Oct 29, 2014 at 12:23 PM | Unregistered Commentertonyb

Perhaps we are getting somewhere.

So, time for a crazy theory:

UKIP are making big gains in polling and one of their policy planks is sorting out the crazy energy supply system caused in large part by the insane Climate Change Act.*

There's lot of noise about 'if we get a cold winter we may get lots of power cuts' and if that happens UKIP will get a lot of extra votes.

UKIP's main policy plank is leaving the EU and a lot of the 'elite' don't want that.

So one or other, (or both), of the major parties are positioning themselves to ditch the CCA, (and come up with some rationalisation for the switch), and are nudging their pals in the media to start preparing the ground.

It's a bit Macheavellian as a theory but is it Macheavellian enough?

*The Climate Change Act. Hubris meet Nemesis.

Oct 29, 2014 at 12:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterKevin B

Oh dear, it seems like the bar has been set very low on this type of programming because I thought it was basically useless. First a 'mini Horizon' with Czerski doing her 'all models are great' number, diffidently paying lip service to the all-inclusive global arming meme and studiously avoiding delving into the troubling implications of what was said by the guest scientist on the film who concluded that we just don't know whether the build up of Antarctic sea ice is natural. Then the hopelessly truncated studio debate in which neither side was really able to state their position with any authority. Poor, very poor IMO.

Oct 29, 2014 at 12:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterJaime Jessop

Entropic man (Oct 29, 2014 at 10:30 AM), you do your credibility no favours by resorting to ad hominem statements like this... and the one you made about Judith Curry a month or so back.

Oct 29, 2014 at 12:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterDave Salt

I note that the freshwater runoff freezing more easily hypothesis was modelled. I asked Dr Helen Czerski what the ARGO salinity profiles had to say. She responded " That is a valid hypothesis, with data to back it up. Watch the piece (and see the data presented)."

But having watched the piece, there was no data presented at all. It's models all the way down.

Oct 29, 2014 at 1:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterRog Tallbloke

@ jones at 11:07 AM & 11:25

"I live outside the UK and can't play the BBC Newsnight link above.

Anyone please have any ideas how one might get round this?"

Try this:-

Oct 29, 2014 at 1:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

Kevin B

In the world of politics, anything goes,...

I think you have touched on a couple of key points:
1 - The prospect of electricity not being reliably available has focussed minds, and has led those in power to start paying attention to those on the engineering side of the DECC rather than the touchy-feely environmental side. After all THE job of Government is to ensure economic prosperity, which in an advanced country like ours means having adequate energy supply.

2 - The rise of UKIP support is certainly having an impact on the Cameron Conservatives. There is now a reasonably credible political force to the right of the Conservative leadership, who have a strong appeal to the Conservative grass roots. Obviously the Tories can't afford for something fundamental to go wrong (such as significant power outages), as this could see them decimated next May. I think their media people are trying to place a few stories to make them appear more pragmatic (and at the same time throw the Lib Dems under the bus regarding energy and environmental policies).

Oct 29, 2014 at 1:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterIan Blanchard

Looking at the Sea Ice Page on Wattsupwiththat, which is compiled from 'unfiddleable' satellite data, I've come to the conclusion that Arctic sea ice is increasing this autumn at what can only be described as an 'alarming' rate....

Oct 29, 2014 at 1:20 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1

Your Grace
Per Ian Blanchard.Lets hope that the Li b Dems do not throw themselves under an electric powered bus!

Oct 29, 2014 at 1:34 PM | Unregistered Commenterroger

As a lifelong Liberal supporter - until recently - I'm afraid to say they enthusiastically jumped under the bus. Their successful emulation of the Greens will now end in getting the same pathetic amount of votes as the Greens do.

Oct 29, 2014 at 2:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

Usual BBC Greenwash! Just when the discussion was getting interesting they ran out of time. Evan Davies asked completely useless questions and the idea of the Dutch guy that Antarctic land ice is melting when it is minus one hundred degrees went unchallenged. Sigh!

Oct 29, 2014 at 3:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterFudsdad

Newsnight and Late night TV might be one of the first victims of elecricity cuts.

Oct 29, 2014 at 6:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamspid

Increased sea ice leads to higher albedo leads to cooling. So if global warming is causing the increased sea ice it is going to hit a negative feedback. So global warming causes global cooling. QED

Oct 29, 2014 at 7:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterH2O: the miracle molecule

It's always easy to be wise after the event, but had I been in Matt Ridley's shoes (an impossible thought!) and when Tamsin started in about the big picture and the long-term I think I would have asked her why all these consensus scientists can't begin to tell us when (and why) the current interglacial will give way to the next big ice age.

Oct 30, 2014 at 8:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterGillespie Robertson

I do wonder if EM will be as dismissive of that politician who was convicted of corruption and as soon as he finished his punishment went in to work at promoting climate hype.

Oct 30, 2014 at 9:12 AM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

'all about the models'

Perhaps time for a new phrase: Catastrophic Cybergenic Global Warming.

Oct 30, 2014 at 1:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn B

I was fascinated by the question raised in the video on whether the increase in Antarctic sea ice could be attributed to natural variation. How come the BBC do not raise the same possibility for the decline in Arctic sea ice? Mind you the recent slight increase in Arctic sea ice area has been attributed by some to natural variation while the overall decline for the relatively short period of record is of course due to climate change!

Oct 30, 2014 at 2:02 PM | Unregistered Commenterpotentilla

I really can't believe that so called intelligent scientist like the Dutch chap puts the reword sea ice down to land glacial melt which layers the surrounding oceans with a fresh water lower salinity layer which then freezes more readily okay sounds like a theory. But, and for me a whopping great but, is the fact that we are told its the Arctic that has warmed more and has declining sea ice (not true of course) and Greenland is in meltdown. So okay if Greenland is melting as fast or faster than the Antarctic ice mass then why don't we see all that fresh low salinity water cause massive sea ice anomalies around Greenland's coast. We should see against a background of reduced Arctic sea ice overall massive areas of sea ice growth around parts of Greenland but we don't, it has practically remained the same melt and freeze pattern as far as we've been able to observe, So that's my theory-not bad for an idiot.

Oct 31, 2014 at 1:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterLawrence13

Perhaps we are getting somewhere.

The piece was really mealy mouthed, it gave no counterpoint just a platform for those on the modelling side of things to make their excuses.

Evan Davis is a polite man that allows the discussion to progress where everyone gets their points across. This gave Matt Ridley and Tamsin Edwards the time to make their cases. Edwards came across quite desperate as if clutching for straws in order to save her argument - or possibly her job. Ridley was slick and authoritative.

Oct 31, 2014 at 3:14 PM | Unregistered Commentercd

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