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« For the environmentalist, lies are a way of life | Main | Deben's new witchhunt »

The climatologist's privilege

The BBC has infamously decided that climatologists should not be challenged on air. They are, in the corporation's considered view Science Personified; the very voice of truth. As if to emphasise the point, the Today programme this morning invited Sir Brian Hoskins on air to talk about climate change. Ostensibly this was to allow him to air his grievance that the election debate has largely eschewed consideration of the subject, but also gave him plenty of time to discuss his views on climate policy and what he sees as the need to prioritise climate over wealth creation. And all without a word of challenge from anyone.

The climatologist's privilege is creeping ever wider by the looks of it.

Audio below.

Hoskins, Today 22 April 2015

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Reader Comments (74)

Because you guys decided to oppose the science.

If you'd been honest early on and admitted you were merely opposed to the policies you thought would be enacted in response, then you'd be seen as a legitimate voice in the policy debate.

But you went for the science and so now you're not credible in either area.

Apr 22, 2015 at 10:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterGubulgaria

Lovelock was also on Today at around 7 am. His points were that global warming was being ignored in the election, that Marvellous Margaret Thatcher was the politician who first put it on the political agenda, and that renewable energy was a waste of time and effort, in his opinion.

Apr 22, 2015 at 10:45 AM | Unregistered Commenterbill

Oh, a new troll, or just next on the rota from wherever they come from?

Apr 22, 2015 at 10:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

It's not on the election agenda because the polls say the voters really *don't* think it is a priority..

It's much easier to get votes by promising a unicorn for everyhousehold and wings for every pig.

{* see Clovis correction below. BH}

Apr 22, 2015 at 10:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterClovis Marcus

Wealth creation are now dirty words on the BBC, outside of the early morning business slots, I remember them holding their noses when Ineos announced a large investment in shale gas, and kept orchestrating opposition by repeating that "this is sure to spark protests from environmentalists.

Time to link BBC funding rigidly to GDP.

Apr 22, 2015 at 10:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterMikky

Clovis if you look properly I think you'll find the little scotch woman is in fact promising every household an easter egg.

Apr 22, 2015 at 10:48 AM | Unregistered Commenterbill

The complete lack of climate change, catastrophic or not, is probably not an issue that any political party wants to draw too much attention to. Apart from the Greens, who don't seem to have noticed.

Apr 22, 2015 at 10:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie

I missed out a don't.

The voters really don't think it is a priority...


Apr 22, 2015 at 10:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterClovis Marcus

Why couldn't the Greens have imported a really blatant liar like Julia Gillard to be their leader? Gillard helped to clarify so many issues about the politics of global warming, very decisively and quickly in the minds of Australians. She will be remembered for her outstanding contribution to common sense.

Cameron and Miliband both want to be remembered for something.

Apr 22, 2015 at 11:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie

For God's sakes people, when are you going to defund that voice of lunacy?. What was once the most respected broadcaster everywhere is now a joke.

Apr 22, 2015 at 11:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterCeetee

I thought Britain was doing its bit, sending such worthies like the good man himself out into the world:

"His international roles have included being vice-chair of the Joint Scientific Committee for the World Climate Research Programme, President of the International Association of Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences and involvement in the 2007 IPCC international climate change assessment. He has also had numerous UK roles, including playing a major part in the 2000 Report by The Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution that first proposed a 60% target for UK carbon dioxide emission reduction by 2050, and is currently a member of the UK Committee on Climate Change. He is a member of the science academies of the UK, USA, China and Europe and has received a number of awards including the top prizes of the UK and US Meteorological Societies and honorary DScs from the Universities of Bristol and East Anglia. He was knighted in 2007 for his services to the environment."

Is he saying he's failing at his job? - I do hope so.

Apr 22, 2015 at 11:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterCapell

The usual format is one presenter and two interviewees with different points of view. This is just presenter (Justin Webb?) and Hoskins. 2 minutes 40 seconds is enough to make it dull, boring radio.
It's ironic that Hoskins is complaining about a lack of discussion when BBC and people like Hoskins have themselves disallowed it.

Apr 22, 2015 at 11:20 AM | Unregistered Commenterrotationalfinestructure

Ceetee, the BBC, much like the Green Luvvie movement, has been working hard on its own destruction. They have now reached a Tipping Point of their own fabrication.

Apr 22, 2015 at 11:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie

I should like to welcome Great Uncle Bulgaria who comes wombling over to us from the comments section of Guardian Environmental ( a hallowed place from whence I have been banished for the crime of suggesting that the famous "2 degrees" limit was merely a political construct and had no significance climate science whatsoever...which was one truth too many) and hope that he sticks around and maintains an open mind.

Apr 22, 2015 at 11:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterJack Savage

Gubulgaria: what science is being opposed? Indeed, is it possible to oppose science, except by an ideological belief system? Science is – or, at least, should be – constantly questioning itself. Show us a scientist who is totally convinced of his own or others’ infallibility, and you will be showing us a charlatan.

What is wrong with questioning science, anyway? Especially when it is the incredibly creaky, utterly shonky “science” that is being foisted upon us by the alarmists. Can you give us definitive evidence that the world is warming dangerously? What evidence is there that it is warming at all? Can you give us irrefutable proof that the oceans are “acidifying” at all, let alone dangerously? Tell us where in the world is under threat from inundation by rising oceans!

No doubt, you are still convinced that it is rising human-produced CO2 that is the cause of all these totally non-existent woes, and that should not be questioned. If that is the “science” that you seem so adamant on defending, then I suggest you stick to your prayer tokens and healing crystals.

(TBYJ: this is more of a womble than a troll, sneaking around picking up discarded ideas and repackaging them.)

Apr 22, 2015 at 11:36 AM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

“BBC….climatologists should not be challenged on air”, but challenged massively on “The Climate Water Wheel”, raised by Ron Clutz at: , concluding: “In the real world climate, water in all its phases is the heart of the matter, and atmosphere is ancillary. Since Copernicus we all think of our planetary system with the sun in the center. We should be thinking of our climate system with the oceans in the center”, with a reference to Arthur C. Clarke: “How inappropriate to call this planet Earth when it is quite clearly Ocean”

Apr 22, 2015 at 11:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterDave

"For God's sakes people, when are you going to defund that voice of lunacy?. What was once the most respected broadcaster everywhere is now a joke.
Apr 22, 2015 at 11:11 AM | Unregistered Commenter Ceetee"

Unfortunately there are still many people here who think the Beeb is wonderful. The "featured" letter in today's Eastern Daily Press (Norfolk) takes aim at UKIP and ends with this worrying bit:

"So if UKIP was genuinely anti-establishment and outside the political class, it wouldn't be heard at all, particularly on the BBC, which is certainly not left wing" (my bolding).

Apr 22, 2015 at 12:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterDave Ward

Just how long does the non-warming period have to last before journalists start to do their job and question the pessimism of the likes of Hoskins a bit more? I looked up Roger Helmer the other day and discovered an interview with the Independent where the following lies (or base ignorance) appeared:

1: "The latest IPCC report, compiled by hundreds of climate scientists working from thousands of scientific papers, found that 97 per cent of leading scientists are extremely confident that the atmosphere is warming and that humans are the main cause of the temperature increase."

>>>This zombie 97% number has nothing to do with the IPCC and neither has it ever been credible; as Roger said already - likely to the journalist interviewing him too - it has been debunked many times over. The silly sod mixed it up with the 95% opinion of IPCC authors which is equally dubious since it seems to be entirely made-up by the author of the SPM simply because it was bigger than the previous invented number.

2: “As Roger Helmer is honest enough to admit, he is not a scientist – and frankly, it shows. There’s been a slowdown rather than a pause in global warming. Such slowdowns (and accelerations) have happened before and are explicable,” said Joanna Haigh, professor of atmospheric physics at Imperial College London. “Nobody credible believes climate sensitivity is likely to be below 1C and the extra Co2 in the atmosphere is indisputably from fossil fuel combustion.”

>>>Well if being a scientist means being blatantly dishonest then it's just as well Roger isn't one! Nobody has any credible explanation for any cooling events at any time in history beyond the ice-age Milankovich cycles (ie solar feedbacks) or solar reconstructions. All that tells us is that all slowdowns are natural and hence have naff all to do with CO2. And of course the pause/hiatus/plateau means that the parabolic extrapolations earlier touted by likes of Joanna are abject nonsense and she clearly knows less than she earlier pretended - which is the point made by Helmer! Few skeptics believe climate sensitivity is likely to be below 1K either btw, since that is actually the zero-feedback value but then 1K is not the scary 3-4K scenario Joanna, Bob, Myles and all the other shameless climate shamens prefer to keep quoting now is it?

I despair for academia; it seems to sprout overly much innumeracy, illogic and really base dishonesty.

Apr 22, 2015 at 12:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

You lot make me laugh. I heard the chat this morning and thought "those old dinosaurs on BH with the medieval level science will be spitting porridge at their radios at this very moment" and what do I find when I get on here....?

Yup. Obsessed UKIPers waving their hands about licence fees and not being allowed to "debate" about science and its all a conspiracy blah blah etc. Its been said before but I wouldn't want an active peadophile to contribute to the debate on child protection in the same way that I don't think you guys should be allowed to parade your freakish views on science.

Welcome Gubulgaria - nicely stated. A tip for you though. Don't even think about debating the Rad Rod....ultimate definition of time wasting. To paraphrase a current TV show

"You know nothing Rad Rodent"

Apr 22, 2015 at 12:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterOnbyaccident

Onbyaccident's fact-free rant ticks almost all the Green/Left boxes:

* gratuitous name-calling... CHECK
* irrelevant attack on UKIP... CHECK
* strawman 'conspiracy' accusation ... CHECK
* red herring link to extraneous issue ... CHECK

Only thing missing is a sneer at Fox News ......

Apr 22, 2015 at 1:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterRick Bradford


The whole point of the post is that the chat was not about science, it was about policy! Climatologists have no special privileges in the policy arena.

Apr 22, 2015 at 1:11 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

Hoskins was very feeble. Rambling vaguely about the Titanic and 'where are we going, what is that vision'. 'What path can we take that will lead us and the world around us to being in the best place in 30 years time'. He said there wasn't much difference between the parties, then repeated himself about where we are going in 30 years time.

The 'Update' is not quite right, it was earlier this morning, about 7.15, that Lovelock was on the Today programme. He was more interesting than Hoskins, saying that he didn't think climate models were much use, and that he was more in favour of adaptation than mitigation.

Apr 22, 2015 at 1:22 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews


NO, NO, NO you must not call BYJ a lefty, greeny because he uses gratuitous name calling against me lots and lots of times but he is not lefty, greeny, oh

Apr 22, 2015 at 1:29 PM | Registered CommenterDung

The BBC website has another article up, also quoting Hoskins and the Grantham crew.

The title includes yet another "last chance" to save the world in Paris. Just how many last chances are they going to give us? On the day when Tesco boasts record corporate losses you might thing that Climate Inc. might start offering us some bargains. How about three last chances for the price of two?

Apr 22, 2015 at 1:32 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

It sounds like you all missed the debate on climate change staged on The Daily Politics (Monday I think). Fear not for it was mindless twaddle and Helmer could not get a word in edgewise. The Labour woman is obnoxious and talked right on over Andrew Neil which takes some doing (and a big mouth).

Apr 22, 2015 at 1:34 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Returning to the original question ^.^, point of order Bish; there is no such thing as a climatologist, don't tell me the BBC hoodwinked you?

Apr 22, 2015 at 1:39 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Bishop Hill

"The whole point of the post is that the chat was not about science, it was about policy! Climatologists have no special privileges in the policy arena."

I absolutely couldn't agree more. It's why I made my offensive remark about police dogs. :-)

Apr 22, 2015 at 1:46 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

michael hart, 3 for 2 offers....

If they are past their sell by date, they are deemed unfit for consumption. Even by trough-full hunters.

However, the Grantham Institute can't get enough of other people's outdated rejects.

Apr 22, 2015 at 1:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie

For casual visitors to this site: What you are witnessing is the opening, or name-calling, portion of World War III. Soon to be followed by the whole sorry rest of it. Sorry for the inconvenience, we'll try to work around the mess, as usual.

Apr 22, 2015 at 1:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Dale Huffman

To be a specific target of a rant by Onbyling has to be the ultimate accolade! It means that he is unable to argue against the points raised with him with any justification – as proven by the fact that he has not even attempted to answer any of those I raised with Gubulgaria. I shall rest on my laurels, now.

Apr 22, 2015 at 1:58 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

Experiment shows 18 years 4 months no atmospheric warming.

Atmospheric science got its basic physics wrong (Goody and Yung made a cock-up about the photon diffusion argument) so the climate models cannot predict future temperatures.

The nxt move is lower temperatures as we enter the new Little Ice Age.

Apr 22, 2015 at 2:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterNCC 1701E

The Party leaders all signed an agreement about climate change just before the campaign. Surely the BBC remembers is on their site...ffs.

I assume this was done to take climate OUT of the campaign. It is no good complaining now that no one talks about it.

Apr 22, 2015 at 2:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterIvor Ward

Onbyaccident, why rely on evidence of a Medieval Warm Period, when with modern statistics, peer reviewed by climate science, you can pretend it never happened?

In medieval science, such trickery would have been denounced as witchcraft, and the perpetrators burnt at a stake (irrespective of the shape of the sticks used for firewood)

How would you like your stake?

Apr 22, 2015 at 2:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie

HDH. I'm not a casual visitor and have not the faintest idea what you're talking about.

Didn't the BBC ban (quietly) a former Chancellor of the Exchequer for telling Bob Hoskins that the heat going into the oceans was pure speculation?

What is clear, or should be even to the trolls on the thread, is that what Hoskins proved this morning is what sceptics have been saying forever, it's not about the science, it's about the politics, the science, as Dr. Linden said is "in the service of politics" and we see from Dr. Hoskins this morning he, a scientist, is more interested in the politics than the science. The natural corollary of such a position is to make the science work for the politics.

Gubulgaria, if it hasn't been clear to you that the sceptics believe the policies are what's at stake please pay attention. It was the policies that made me look at the science, I personally would have no interest in the science, other than a passing one, if it wasn't being used by a group of malthusians communists, environmentalist and their nutjob camp followers to push for increased energy prices to avert a future problem that will never happen, while overlooking present problems that could be solved.

That the solution to the problem is for humans to "control the climate" means that we are either dealing with an incredibly stupid bunch of people, or a load of chancers who are using the scare to shape the global society to their political/philisophical views. I am pretty sure the Malthusians, communists and most of the environmentalists are being disingenuous, but their camp-followers? No, they actually believe there are people who can see into the future state of a coupled non-linear chaotic system. Moreover they think the scientists are telling them that and that gives them an extra edge when they come onto sceptical blogs to skit the denizens. Fools.

Apr 22, 2015 at 2:20 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

Dave, thanks for the reference. My point on the climatology is this:

In the real world, radiative heat loss is determined by the temperature differential, fixed at the top of the atmosphere by the vacuum of space, and maintained at the bottom of the atmosphere by the oceans. The surface temperatures are noisy because the water is always in motion, made chaotic by flowing over and around irregular land masses. But the oceans’ bulk keeps the temperature within a remarkably tight range over the millennia.

Apr 22, 2015 at 2:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterRon C.

geronimo, Bob Hoskins starred in "Who framed Roger Rabbit"

Sir Brian Hoskins will be a star of "Who framed CO2"

Apr 22, 2015 at 2:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie

Golf Charlie


Getting better !!

Apr 22, 2015 at 2:41 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

Note to trolls: Stop calling us anti-science when we are just defending traditional science which should be sceptical by nature. If modern science means reliance on models over data then sure enough we want nothing to do with it but then neither should anyone else since it leads directly to circular argumentation and confirmation bias.

Despite the tabloidization of journals, much of the science is actually self-correcting, showing that earlier apocalyptic claims were overblown and indeed that nothing much of any note is happening at all with the climate system anywhere. The IPSS AR5 reflected this new realism but hey who reads that? - certainly not journalists or politicians. But the vast majority of climate scientists now admit that natural variation (solar, pdo, amo etc) is more important than they originally thought it was; ie they are now slowly and painfully coming around to what skeptics were telling them all this time. Even Lindzens postulated iris effect is being embraced now. So hooray for old-fashioned science!

However there is a great deal wrong with too many scientists who are not actually quoting any written science at all but just pretend they are and Brian Hoskins is one of that breed; insisting on TV that the postulated 'missing heat' was to be found in the ocean when that entirely unphysical idea is contradicted by the data down to 700metres of ocean depth, beyond which most scientists agree that there is insufficient data to speculate: Yet even if true, it would just be another natural variation that he had been previously ignorant about.

But yes the real debate is about energy policy. Too many policies thus far were based on an unrealistic pessimism about peak oil and climate costs plus an equally unrealistic vision of renewable energies. All we skeptics really want is a bit of realism to break out somewhere before its too late.

Apr 22, 2015 at 2:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

First they called us deniers, now it's Obsessed UKIPers. They're winning all the arguments . . .

Apr 22, 2015 at 3:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterCapell

JamesG the Loch Ness Monster must also be on the ocean floor, simply because it has not been found anywhere else.

It must be getting a bit crowded down there, what with Atlantis, Lord Lucan and Shergar.

At least there is evidence that Shergar and Lord Lucan did exist

Apr 22, 2015 at 3:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie

One cannot impose additional taxes upon a global population due to natural variations in the climate, (about which very little is know in truth). Better for Humans to be blamed which can then be taxed, to create a massive wealth transfer from wealthy (& dwinding) western countries to developing countries. Copenhagen didn't fail because the rich countries didn't want to play ball, it failed because the developing countries didn't want the develpoed countries to know what they were going to spend their newfound squiions on. They then played an even better game, by pointing out that they should be getting even more squillions as reparatings for the climate change already made & in the pipeline! The UN didn't think it through very well! It is therefore highyl unlikely any country will sign up to any new "agreement", apart from the dozy EU countries which will be a la Trade Union block vote!

Apr 22, 2015 at 3:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan the Brit

@ Apr 22, 2015 at 1:11 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

" The whole point of the post is that the chat was not about science, it was about policy! Climatologists have no special privileges in the policy arena. "

But the science is a major input to the policy. Non? I would say then that honest climatologists do have special privileges (strange choice of words but will use back) in this matter.

A comment to James G - you are not defending traditional science! You are quite frankly at war with it as it is pointing policy in directions that you cannot tolerate. You are not at all skeptics in the real sense which is why the moniker "denier" has appeard. On the whole you either don't understand the science or misrepresent it. Viz your comment re "real scientists" now admitting that natural variations are also a large factor? Duh. They always were and always will be.

And while I'm at it since when do we put emphasis on models over data? You are just making this up as you go along. This isn't the climate science I'm aware of. Models and data are symbiotic. We have times when data has science going back to look at their models (viz effects of cloud cover which in my view remains problematic) and where the models have stated that the data is incorrect (viz the corrections needed to satellite data).

Groundhog-day encore. Je despair. <not really :-) >

Apr 22, 2015 at 4:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterOnbyaccident

Onbyaccident (Apr 22, 2015 at 4:25 PM) said "...I would say then that honest climatologists do have special privileges"

I assume that would include Dr Judith Curry?

Apr 22, 2015 at 4:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterDave Salt

A comment to James G [...] You are not at all skeptics in the real sense which is why the moniker "denier" has appeard.
Apr 22, 2015 at 4:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterOnbyaccident

Big attitude flag there. Moving quickly from the singular to the plural.

"And while I'm at it since when do we put emphasis on models over data?"

Yes, you are at it. When the previous predictions have been proven wrong yet the communicated message is 'increased confidence', that is when models are put before data.

And who is this big "we" you are talking about? I post under my own name, but you don't.

Apr 22, 2015 at 4:48 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Once again it is worth remembering that the infamous meeting of the '28' did not create the BBC pro CAGE bias, it just reinforced it .

Apr 22, 2015 at 5:03 PM | Unregistered Commenterknr


"But the science is a major input to the policy. Non?"


"I would say then that honest climatologists do have special privileges (strange choice of words but will use back) in this matter".


1) Policy is about balancing conflicting priorities. Climatologists, by specialising in one area only, are clearly poorly placed to professionally understand possible other uses of the resource they are requesting.
2) Climate policy is also about balancing this generation's interests against those of future generations. Climatologists have no special privileges here.
3) As Robert Pindyck from MIT argues highly persuasively, "the economic case for a stringent GHG abatement policy, if it is to be made at all, must be based on the possibility of a catastrophic outcome". But the IPCC gives highly imprecise estimates of both the probability and magnitude of these potentially catastrophic events, and the costs of preventing them. Until more is known, optimal climate policy remains opaque.

So, even under IPCC consensus, the remaining levels of scientific uncertainty about the tail of the distribution of possible climate damages, and the lack of professional knowledge of climatologists about other areas of policy, and indeed methods of determining optimal policy, does not give them any special privileges.

Apr 22, 2015 at 5:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterHoblinMango

Only yesterday, Justin Webb was stating (on another subject, natch) that the Beeb "must be balanced". He's a smart enough guy, so either he's failing to see the bleeding obvious, or he's been told to keep quiet if he wants to preserve his job.

Apr 22, 2015 at 5:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

This is an incredibly important year for the world, setting the framework for where the world is going in the next 30 years. And yet we don't hear that.

Brian Hoskins.

Remind me, someone - hasn't every year for the last 20 or so been the last year when we could do anything about CAGW? What's special about this one?

Apr 22, 2015 at 5:25 PM | Unregistered Commentersteveta_uk

…where the models have stated that the data is incorrect (viz the corrections needed to satellite data).
I presume I am misunderstanding that… the data is adjusted to fit the models? I do hope I am wrong. Wasn’t there a case where someone made some proposition which was wildly incorrect; however, he was held in such awe that others who tried to replicate the experiment amended their answers to force them closer to the incorrect original. This smacks to me a something similar: “Ooh, these satellite thingies are so different from the models that we must adjust their data to fit in with the theory.” My, how scientific.

Onbylying, je depair. Keep your whitewash handy, in case you meet some wrongly-coloured white swans.

Apr 22, 2015 at 5:33 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

Apparently Brian Hoskin's source for the "incredibly important year" is here:

Apr 22, 2015 at 5:34 PM | Registered Commentersteve ta

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