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« Doom-laden Deben | Main | Should we take the Grantham Institutes seriously? »

BH favourites in the Lords

BH regular Ed Hawkins and commenters' favourite Chris Rapley are appearing in the House of Lords today, addressing the Arctic Committee. Also appearing is oceanographer Ed Bacon.

The session starts at 10:30 if anyone fancies adding a comment telling us if it's worth a look (no video link at time of writing, but it should be easy enough to find on the day). Given Rapley's deep green credentials, it could be fun.

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Reader Comments (12)

So we can we expect our crusty old Lordships to don thermals and go whizzing round following in the old Husky dog sled tracks of David Cameron.

A chilly Arctic photo opportunity engineered by a previous Cameron Spin Doctor Steve Hilton.Subsequently replaced by the disgraced Andy Caulson
Perhaps with the vanishing Ice Caps our Lordships can strip out of their Ski Clothes and go skinny dipping in the North Pole.

Jul 15, 2014 at 8:39 AM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

Lordships skinny-dipping at the North Pole? Now that would be a photo-opportunity to miss.

Jul 15, 2014 at 8:54 AM | Registered Commenterdavidchappell

Here's some context for Rapley's view:

Chris Rapley identified four key factors in climate change communication:
1) There is a silence from scientists involved with climate science. In general, climate scientists are interested in scientific research and do not come into climate science to engage in political battles.
2) It is difficult [to break the deadlock in climate change communication] because It is a very difficult story to tell.
- There is no silver bullet to say why science has concluded why humans have caused disruption to the climate system, as it is a very complex set of interactions. And it tends to be those who are in doubt who have a very simplistic view e.g. “it’s just the sun, it has always happened, we’ll adapt”.
- As climate change science is frequently contested, this raises anxiety amongst scientists and scientists in general who are not used to delivering a story that other people like to vigorously challenge.
There are a number of ways to cherry pick, at the science to come to completely opposing conclusions, because of the inherent complexity of climate science. Therefore it really is a difficult story to tell.
- As Adam Corner said in COIN’s recent Climate Silence report: ‘Scientific facts are like words in dictionary, but you need to string them together to capture people’s minds and imaginations’
3) Science doesn’t have a single mouthpiece.
- Brands: Science does not have a brand, an agreed purpose, vision, values or package. Science has multiple voices and contexts; therefore, getting the message across is really difficult. Climate science needs a brand, an identifiable, coherent, robust, agenda that people can connect with to start the dialogue that everyone at this event wants to achieve.
4) Science policy interface
- Tendency to assume there is a linear model, knowledge speaks to power, and power produces policy. However this is not reality. The role of scientists in the policy arena needs to be clearer. Policy has pushed responsibility for arbitrating on policy onto the shoulders of the science community, when in fact all that science can do is inform policy. Responsibility for policy and accountability should be in the hands of the policy makers.

Source and more pyscho-social bollocks from Rapley here:

UKERC: Breaking the Deadlock in Climate Change Communication, June 2014

Jul 15, 2014 at 8:57 AM | Registered Commenterlapogus

Bit OT, but at another event this week, Chris Turney (of Ship of Fools fame) is going to speak about science communication at the Royal Institution in London on Thursday 17 July:

His latest blog post reveals that he still thinks the ship was a "large ice-breaker" - which everybody else now knows it was not.

Could be due to some science communication problem, I suppose.

Jul 15, 2014 at 9:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterBebben

Rapley is our best friend. When he was at the Science Museum and environment minister Ed Miliband ordered him to put on a climate exhibition in time for the election, he jumped to attention and got it done in a few weeks – by a green PR firm. He'll chair a discussion between green Christians trying to get angels too reduce their air miles, or psychoanalysts who want to cure us of our lack of anxiety.
As he says, “Science doesn’t have a single mouthpiece.” It has many, and they're all called Rapley.
He says he can't say “why science has concluded why humans have caused disruption to the climate system”, so he's reduced to saying it has. So there.
He says climate scientists suffer from anxiety because they “...are not used to delivering a story that other people like to vigorously challenge.” Oh, really? So they all agree all the time do they?
He says scientific facts are like words in dictionary, but that it's a really difficult story to tell. He paints a picture of an entire community suffering from the scientific version of Writer's Block – brimming over with a truth they can't quite manage to formulate.
Spit it out man, or get back to teaching geography.

Jul 15, 2014 at 9:42 AM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

The Arctic Committee? Since when has any part of the UK been in the Arctic? What on Earth is the Arctic Committee for (apart from yet another little bung from the tax-payer for its members, of course)?

I doubt your heroes will be given a chilly reception though, as the lords lap up everything dire scenario that will be given.

Jul 15, 2014 at 10:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterRadical Rodent

The video link will be available by 10:40, here:

Jul 15, 2014 at 10:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterDouglas J. Keenan

OT but Arctic related, another trying to sail the NW Passage does a Turney. :)

"Mariner trying to sail Northwest Passage rescued after sailboat gets stuck in sea ice near Barrow
Michelle Theriault Boots
July 13, 2014

Coast Guard Cutter Healy crewmembers make contact with a mariner aboard his 36-foot sailboat trapped in Arctic ice approximately 40 miles northeast of Barrow, Alaska, July 12, 2014. Coast Guard 17th District watchstanders in Juneau were contacted by North Slope Borough Search and Rescue that a man, sailing his sailboat from Vancouver, Canada, to eastern Canada via the Northwest Passage, needed assistance after his vessel had become trapped in the ice. U.S. Coast Guard

A man attempting to sail his 36-foot sailboat through the Northwest Passage was rescued by a U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker Saturday after his boat became trapped in Arctic sea ice northeast of Barrow.

The Coast Guard cutter Healy broke a 12-mile path through ice to reach the sailboat Altan Girl about 40 miles from Barrow, the Coast Guard said in a news release Sunday. The Healy was diverted from a research mission to respond to the sailboat."

A cursory examination of satellite data might have provided a clue of what was to occur.

Jul 15, 2014 at 11:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterMick J

1980s John Carpenter,s classic Sci Fi horror movie "The Thing"

A group of polar researchers stumble upon a crashed spaceship under the ice and then during the course of the night are massacred by a malevolent unstoppable shape shifting alien parasite.The film climax's at sunrise the next morning.
An all time great movie ,with a classic line of dialogue and brilliant pre CGI gory special effects for good measure.
Unfortunately its totally wrong.In the polar regions there is no sun rises or sun set its either 6 months of continuous winter darkness followed by 6 months of continuous polar summer daylight.

For John Carpenters rather hapless fictional scientists they were couped up in a few iced up shabby prefabs supplied by helicopter from 500 miles away with hopefully plenty of Bottled Gas and Diesel for the mobile generators.
So for real polar scientists they don't face the hazard of marauding Aliens .But there are deep crevasses, thin ice accidents, illness, mental or mechanical breakdown and all in temperatures of minus 20 degrees on a good day So all their polar research and measurements can only be done during the summer months when its relatively safe and you can see the polar bears coming.

Are all the polar research stations abandoned in Winter, too cold minus 60 ,no good for humans or the transport aircraft that may have to rescue them in total darkness with no radio beacons ,too dark too cold too dangerous?
Probably too expensive. So our intrepid Climate polar researchers only have half a years data to go on ,the hot polar summer half when its minus 20.
So by the law of averages if the poles are getting hotter in Summer then could be getting colder in Winter and there's nobody there to record it or want to publicize it.

So are they using ground sensing radar mounted on an ARV to map all areas of Sea ice all year round.
Can a Camera on a Satellite over the the pole see pack ice in the dark in frozen winter because a camera on a tripod certainly cant.
So if Climate Scientists cant operate in six months of darkness at minus 60 neither can Camera News Crews.
The BBC happily send David Shukman to Alaska and the Arctic to get plenty of good money shots in the can of dripping Glaciers Frozen Lakes cracking apart ,David Cameron swanning around on a jet ski ,swimming Polar Bears etc etc to bring back for the video archive .Talking head pious Climate Change platitudes "showing more evidence of the world warming up" and not the naturally occurring summer thaw.After all who wants to be outside in the middle of winter anywhere.If that is either resetting a thermometer or doing a piece to camera .

Jul 15, 2014 at 12:47 PM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid


I worked in the Arctic for a number of years at a Zinc mine on Cornwallis Island ( about 72deg North Latitude- where the magnetic North Pole was located in those distant days - late 1970s).

There were sunrises and sunsets before the Polar Night started and also before the Polar Day started - both of which lasted a few months. I suppose the only places where there is only one sunrise and one sunset per year are at the actual poles themselves. However as the pole of rotation moves around a bit ( nutation) there could be several sunrises and sunsets there too.

Jul 15, 2014 at 2:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterGlebekinvara

"psychoanalysts who want to cure us of our lack of anxiety. "
Great post, Geoff, but that line in particular caught my eye.

The pseudo-shrinks like Lew get to make money coming and going, don't they?

Is there a Goldilocks level of anxiety, like the perfect ecological and climate moment of stasis that we keep hearing about?

Jul 16, 2014 at 9:49 AM | Registered Commenterjohanna

"Are all the polar research stations abandoned in Winter, too cold minus 60 ,no good for humans or the transport aircraft that may have to rescue them in total darkness with no radio beacons ,too dark too cold too dangerous?"

Some are only used in summer, but most are manned in winter too, though with reduced complements. Last time I was in Ny Ålesund (79 degrees north) which is essentially just a number of research stations these days I was told that there was c. 300 people there in summer, but only about 20 in winter. Even "the big city" (pop. 2000) Longyearbyen has significantly fewer inhabitants in winter.

"So are they using ground sensing radar mounted on an ARV to map all areas of Sea ice all year round.
Can a Camera on a Satellite over the the pole see pack ice in the dark in frozen winter because a camera on a tripod certainly cant"

Nadir-facing microwave measurements from satellites in (near) polar orbits can distinguish ice and water easily. Works well in winter, but numbers are distinctly shaky in summer since nobody has figured out a way to distinguish open water and meltwater pools on top of the ice. Also since the satellites are not quite in polar orbits for somewhat abstruse reasons to do with orbital mechanics there are two "pole holes" where no measurements can be taken.

Jul 16, 2014 at 6:03 PM | Unregistered Commentertty

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