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« There’s something fishy about our journalists | Main | Rank renewables - Josh 284 »
Sunday
Aug102014

Bellashambles

The debate at the Belladrum festival was a bit of a shambles to tell the truth. The festival itself looked as though it was going swimmingly, but the "Verb Garden", the bit where I was appearing, seemed to have been organised by the University of the Highlands and Islands and arrangements left more than a little to be desired in my opinion.

Having given up my day and driven three hours to the festival, I got my accreditation without any problems. However, I was then told that I could go and queue up with the other punters if I wanted a cup of coffee. No spliffs, no groupies, no nothing. Hmm. I hooked up with John Shade fairly soon afterwards and we had a nice chat and an expensive sandwich while awaiting our moment in the spotlight.

As the deadline approach it emerged that the meteorologist who was going to do the mainstream climate science bit on the panel had had to call off. And the university seemed to have told the media and some of those involved (including the press!) that it was starting at 3:30 rather than the correct time of 13:30. So when it came to time to kick off, there was the chairman - Gary Robertson from BBC Scotland - John and myself and no opposition at all. The renewables chappie who was the other half of our opposition was still en route.

With the audience waiting - perhaps 40 people or so - we had no choice but to go ahead. My normal experience in these kinds of debate is that sceptics are never in a majority, so it was an interesting dynamic, although not one that I particularly enjoyed. It was just a bit dull to tell the truth. One audience member clearly felt the same way and stormed out saying that it wasn't a balanced debate. This was true, but hardly something we could do anything about.

After fielding a few questions from Gary about our general positions on climate change we moved pretty swiftly on to questions from the floor. This was much more lively, and we had some good back and forth about climate models and windfarms and suchlike. One young woman, who said she was a physicist, took issue with my downplaying of the climate models, but I think I may have convinced her that you do actually need to validate them and show that they are capturing all the necessary features of the real climate before you use them to support public policy decisions.

Eventually, our renewable energy opponent appeared and told us all what a wonderful economic opportunity windfarms represented. I'm not sure anyone was actually convinced though. One chap in the audience recounted the tale of a friend of his who spent an evening fending off phone calls from the electricity grid. They wanted him to switch off his windfarm for a time. Eventually he bid them up to £78,000. I think people in the audience could see that this wasn't a good thing.

Overall I think it may have been worth the trip, shambolic organisation notwithstanding. I think it will have been interesting for the audience to hear the sceptic side in such detail - it's not something the general public gets to hear very often.

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Reader Comments (29)

How disappointing. I was so looking forward to hearing about the groupies and the joints.......

But good to get a foretaste of how things'll be organised should your fellow-countrymen vote Yes.

Aug 10, 2014 at 10:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

".... it emerged that the meteorologist who was going to do the mainstream climate science bit on the panel had had to call off. "

Maybe he got cold feet?

Aug 10, 2014 at 10:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

One audience member clearly felt the same way and stormed out saying that it wasn't a balanced debate.

The climate blogosphere in microcosm!

Aug 10, 2014 at 10:11 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

If your analysis is correct Bish :-

"......but I think I may have convinced her that you do actually need to validate them and show that they are capturing all the necessary features of the real climate before you use them to support public policy decisions."

Then you have done that person a favour.

Aug 10, 2014 at 10:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterDoug UK

Richard Best swoops past to inform us that "the meteorologist on the panel was Dr Eddie Graham ... and he really knows his stuff" .

Other than how best to interpret the output of a satnav, perhaps.

Aug 10, 2014 at 10:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterJerryM

Oh dear Bish, what a to do.
On the bright side if you, and the other panel members, managed to get even one person to think critically about climate and green issues then it is a job well done. We have to remember that we battle against the continues outpouring of the biasBBC and all the rest of the 'big media'.
So again well done and thank you.

Aug 10, 2014 at 10:42 AM | Unregistered Commentertom0mason

'".... it emerged that the meteorologist who was going to do the mainstream climate science bit on the panel had had to call off.'

Due to unforeseen circumstances?

Aug 10, 2014 at 10:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

'".... it emerged that the meteorologist who was going to do the mainstream climate science bit on the panel had to call off.'

Due to unforeseen circumstances?

What bad weather.

Aug 10, 2014 at 10:57 AM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

@ Latimer Alder

>> Due to unforeseen circumstances? <<

Nope, that was the next tent, the annual meeting of the Belladrum Psychics Collective.

Aug 10, 2014 at 11:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterJerryM

Tangled thyme in the Verb Garden.

Aug 10, 2014 at 11:31 AM | Registered CommenterPharos

the 78k bidding guy seems like another true self-sacrificing eco warrior, lol

Aug 10, 2014 at 11:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterPaul the Nurse

There really is a University of the Highlands and Islands? What's their speciality subject, sheep husbandry (with a slight snigger at the husband bit)?

Aug 10, 2014 at 12:08 PM | Registered Commenterdavidchappell

Eventually, our renewable energy opponent appeared and told us all what a wonderful economic opportunity windfarms represented.

It's the same business model as the BBC.

Aug 10, 2014 at 12:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterJake Haye

£78k to switch your wonderful, magnificent, oh-so essential decarbonising planet-saving windmill OFF?! It really is just beyond stupid. If a professional conman had tried to pull this stunt off he'd be jailed. To say our 'green' politicians have a lot to answer for is an understatement.

Aug 10, 2014 at 12:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterCheshirered

I never supply electricity to the grid, so where's my £78k?

Aug 10, 2014 at 1:01 PM | Unregistered Commenterartwest

Good work, Bishop.

Aug 10, 2014 at 1:32 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

Belladrum Psychics Collective.

Payed by fools to foretell the future ,
rather vaguely with stuff they want to hear.
So it was a debate about Climate Change after all.

Aug 10, 2014 at 1:34 PM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

"Tangled thyme in the Verb Garden".Pharos

And sage advice :-)

Bish, did you get the impression that the audience members knew about the pause and the other basics of climate scepticism or did they expect you to say it was all a scam? Was the BBC guy more open to you at the end?

If you achieved nothing else you proved that sceptics can read the time, comply with an invitation letter and follow through on a commitment. The unprofessionalism of the rest of it, is a damning reflection of the whole climate shebang.

Aug 10, 2014 at 2:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

I was there. The Verb Garden has always been run by the Co-op, apparently quite efficiently. This is the first year it has been organised by the University. The festival is good, though notable for the phenomenal amount the locals can drink yet still behave themselves.

Being one of the choir, I didn't attend to be enlightened but to see if there would be the usual ambush. It was surprising when there appeared to be a complete no-show from the warmist camp. The uni guy, when he did appear, seemed to wish he was anywhere but there before he even got started. The fact he revealed that he had been at art school was maybe an indcation of his technical expertise.

My perspective was that quite a few fish in the barrel were shot. I wanted to ask one question, but after I had spoken once the chairman seemed reluctant to go near me. The question was to ask all the panel members if they were paid to promote their views on climate change by anyone, and if so by whom. In retrospect, this might have been cruel to one member of rhe panel who was floundering and not being a good advert for further education in the highlands. Most definitley a paid mouthpiece, though likely sincere.

The physicist woman I couldn't quite figure out. I supect she may have been playing games with her university (I'm assuming she was a UHI student), though maybe not as she appeared quite passionate. When I made a comment about models not being able to work (quoting IPCC), she was looking round at me nodding and smiling. Maybe she's going to go back to her lecturers with some awkward questions...

The other point I'd like to have made was on the subject of scientists being predominantly in the warmist camp. The refutation of this wasn't as clear as it could have been. I understand the 97% defence you made, but it deserved a more firm demolition (I understand the pressure of sitting in the spotlight). The comment I tried to get in was that I work with and know many science, engineering and maths graduates. Every one of them, once they have started looking into the matter themselves, have adopted a sceptical position. Even the non-scientists I know when they have got past the BBC and Guardian come to the same conclusion.

Aug 10, 2014 at 2:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterJG

I hope the opportunity was taken to point out how well the institutions involved lived up to their stereotypes as portrayed by the sceptic community;

The University was clearly as organised and competent as Phil Jones and UEA.

The Met. Office sent someone who in theory had all the answers, but in practice didn't turn up, so we just have to believe that their models say he would have had all the answers.

Aug 10, 2014 at 4:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterNW

oh wait, there's more;

13:30 is of course close enough to 15:30 for climate science, you just have to look at it as 13:30 +/- 1:10 and 15:30 +/- 1:10 and the model is verified. This is exactly what the MO do with the weather forecasts.

The real problem was holding it in Scotland. No international first class air travel required, and it's just not exotic enough for real climate scientists who simply won't get out of bed for anything less than a week in Bali.

Aug 10, 2014 at 4:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterNW

Latimer 10.07 am

I think you'll find the Bishop is English.

Aug 10, 2014 at 5:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterMessenger

Messenger 5:18pm

The vote is taken based on where you live, not where you were born. If you live and are registered in Scotland, then you are one of the countrymen/women that get to vote.

Aug 11, 2014 at 12:01 AM | Unregistered Commenterkellydown

kellydown
... just as those of us who, for whatever reason, have made our homes in France are concerned about the future of our pensions but don't have any say in the matter!
I am seriously at a loss to understand why Salmond was ever allowed to hold a referendum that effectively allows him to declare UDI if he gets 50.1% of what might well be less than half the population. The future of the UK is of great concern to the English, Welsh, and Nothern Irish (of both "persuasions"!) as well as to the Scots. But they're just going to have to lump it if he wins.
Recipe for ructions, if you ask me.

Aug 11, 2014 at 9:04 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

The future will be wonderful. Scotland will live simultaneously off oil & gas while being "clean and green". There will be more of everything for everyone and no cuts to anything.

Your ££ debts will somehow reduce in value along with the Scottish Europound.

Aug 11, 2014 at 10:11 AM | Unregistered Commenterkellydown

'....what a wonderful economic opportunity windfarms represented...'

Can't argue with that. Developers, turbine manufacturers and landowners are making a fortune from them...

Aug 11, 2014 at 12:52 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1

Bish - did you spot that lass in the tartan bikini..?

Just askin'....

Aug 11, 2014 at 12:53 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1

NW

I think you misunderstood my comment on the other thread - the Met Office didn't send anyone to the event, the planned speaker is at a University in Scotland. I mentioned that there was a connection because he's an old friend from student days.

(Before anyone asks, no, I don't know why he didn't attend.)

Aug 11, 2014 at 7:36 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Betts

Richard, I didn't see that comment, but assumed that your being associated in the comments to this piece with someone described as "meteorologist who was going to do the mainstream climate science bit " meant he was MO.

No one seems to have bothered to explain to the other participants or the audience why he didn't turn up, but no one who has ever had anything to do with a university will find that in any way surprising.

Aug 11, 2014 at 9:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterNW

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