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« Temperature questions | Main | On Syria and climate change »

Unbalanced - Josh 344


On Wednesday the BBC's Newsnight interviewed Emma Thompson on the newsworthy topic of left wing activists protesting about drilling for oil in the Arctic. And refugees. And voting for Jeremy Corbyn.

Emma clearly did not have a clue what she was talking about - even Richard Betts, from the Met Office, said she was wrong (good on you, Richard). Ed Hawkins, Climate Scientist, also tweeted "what Emma Thompson said was scientifically inaccurate & implausible." 

Sadly Emma had not got the memo on coal not being the 'dirtiest' fuel. It isnt, biofuels and wood burning stoves are worse - the Guardian is not very keen on them either.

Newsnight's Emily Maitlis suggested Emma get herself arrested. Hmm.

Cartoons by Josh

[Update: added Ed's Tweet]

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Reader Comments (80)

Gaia is a Tiger Mom, she loves winners.

Sep 6, 2015 at 12:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

TinyCO2, the Hockey Team can't even win a Nobel Prize without ending up losers.

Sep 6, 2015 at 1:10 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Emma is an actress - has 2 Oscars - so quite successful

"Emma is an actress - has 2 Oscars - so quite successful" Uh huh..........

With respect to Barry, but with the best will in the world and all that.

BUT. What does the ownership of "two Oscars" entitle you to do and think?

Has one immediately gained access to some sort club of ubermenschen? Having gained an Oscar, does it make one somehow more incredibly savvy than the average Joe? Indeed, should the average Joe and Joanna look up to a two times Oscar winner and ponder, "ooh er, I bet she knows lots of stuff!"

Yet, in the home run or, cutting floor aren't the directors and producers, eds, film crew, makeup artists actually the clever guys insofar as film making is concerned - and by that, I mean, after all, actors and luvvies, all they do is read the script.

We used to scoff at Soviet made filmskys for their blatant sloganizing and overtly crass thought control......but when did Hollywood fall or, was it ever thus? What really should be vacuous and usually fairly well made but innocent escapism, some of it was always politicized left wing propaganda, 'All the Presidents men' and 'Avatar' spring immediately to mind.

Yep, the 'Oscars' that's where the luvvies of HAAleewud go up to town on going to town as it were and to self congratulate themselves in a haze of self righteous hauteur and GEE - for making tinsel town lots of green!!

"All done in the best possible taste" as Cupid Stunt used to say and in wall to wall schmaltz.

Whoa there Emma, she'd be right at home, for de Oscars is, a mulch of liberals, grandstanding, politicized bleeding hearts hoohah. Where the Beverly hills glitteratti bestow prizes on their next door neighbours and fellow lefties.

I can't watch Hollywood blockbusters any longer because their screaming 'PC right on' hypocrisy is too much to endure and then, everything is a remake of a previously shot and imperiously better acted film.

Emma Thompson, just reads the lines, as far as character actresses go, she's rolled up Vanessa and Glenda but.............. not quite as good.

Sep 6, 2015 at 1:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

Athelstan, just imagine if actors claimed to have won Oscars, when in actual fact, they hadn't. Eyebrows would be raised in a very dramatic manner. Other actors might flounce about, on and off camera, refusing to share the spotlight, with such a petulant attempt to boost ratings, for a box office and financial disaster.

In climate science, there is no such thing as bad publicity, where pay cheques beat credibility, in the gullible eyes of political paymasters.

Sep 6, 2015 at 8:43 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Well done Richard Betts. His correction of Emma Thompson makes it into the Mail, via David Rose. A good explanation why it's important to be as accurate as possible.

"Ms Thompson hit back yesterday, saying: ‘I’d like to say to him [Richard Betts]: Are you insane, have you been to the Arctic, have you seen the state of the glaciers? I’ve talked to the experts... this is not scaremongering.’ "

Face palm! It's a scandal she doesn't know that he IS the expert. It also clears up the question, did she trip off the wrong numbers or did she think she was telling the truth.

Sep 6, 2015 at 8:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

In climate science, there is no such thing as bad publicity, where pay cheques beat credibility, in the gullible eyes of political paymasters.

True at least she won summat and just think about the Indian serial woman botherer a deeply flawed character [a theme among that lot] but certain of his promulgation of the great scam and echoes of a certain actress, with steel reinforced ego but impervious to the facts and truth of the matter.

Face palm! It's a scandal she doesn't know that he IS the expert. It also clears up the question, did she trip off the wrong numbers or did she think she was telling the truth.

Does she care and one would presume - not, on all counts.

Sep 6, 2015 at 10:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

The obvious thing to do is to interview her again and ask which experts she consulted. If she manages to come with any names then immediately go and interview them for their side of the tale. Obviously, the BBC would never do this but, if it did, I think ET would end up in a hissy fit due to the outcome.

Sep 6, 2015 at 10:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Jones

I wonder if Emma has been to the Arctic or seen (scene?) glaciers.

Sep 6, 2015 at 1:53 PM | Unregistered Commenterjferguson

And the winner of Best Alarmist in a Supporting Role is.... Emma Thompson for ‘If they take out of the Earth all the oil they want to take out, if you look at the science, our temperature will rise 4 degrees Celsius by 2030, and that’s not sustainable."

Sep 6, 2015 at 2:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterOscar

oscar, athelstan,

It is a shame that Emma's Greenpeace script writers did not win an award for animated fiction, Worst Grip on reality, and Most Pointless Waste of Valuable Fossil Fuels with their Russian disaster epic.

Sep 6, 2015 at 3:02 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie


ever heard of irony....

Sep 6, 2015 at 3:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Well done to Richard Betts. Did he have to get Dame Julia Slingo's permission first?

Presumably the Met Office is no longer quite so worried about saving the BBC's credibility, so Met Office staff can now start restoring their own.

Sep 6, 2015 at 4:06 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

She's been at it again, see link here:

If that's the writing standard of an English Lit Cambridge graduate, god help us.

Is this early dementia, do you think?

Could we have Westwood, Gore and Thompson on a global warming show, please BBC!?

Sep 6, 2015 at 5:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterCapell

Capell, if her degree was Oxbridge PPE, she would be one of the most qualified MP's to be backing global warming taxation hitting the poor hardest. The Philosophy part would have helped her justify it, with an appropriare briefing from one of Greenpeace's high earning jetsetters.

The privileged elite love to go on, and on, about equality, until the cook comes home, and it is time to dress for dinner.

Sep 6, 2015 at 6:02 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

I believe Emma studied English at Cambridge

Sep 6, 2015 at 7:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

No doubt the Royal Society is about to give her a Fellowship. She seems to have us much understanding of the subject as the retards that currently grace its hallowed portals.

Sep 6, 2015 at 8:16 PM | Registered CommenterSalopian

Sep 6, 2015 at 1:53 PM | jferguson

Note the utter nonsense (for an English graduate) on the placard she is holding up. Something has happened to her brain.

Sep 6, 2015 at 8:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterBilly Liar

What the heck. If you think Richard Betts is sayin don't worry, he is not. What he is saying is that 4C by 2070 is possible and that is SCARY. When the globe is committed to 4C would occur much earlier. Richard says worry

Sep 6, 2015 at 9:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterEli Rabett

You have to fear for her future as an actress if she has such difficulty remembering her lines.

Sep 6, 2015 at 9:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

Who thinks Richard Betts is sayin don't worry?

We're just amused at the misinformation out there and appreciate that someone is trying to correct the wildest of ideas. Baby steps and all that.

Sep 6, 2015 at 9:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

[snip: language. Eli's effort to be polite is much appreciated and I am sure we can all respond in like manner ;-) ]

Sep 6, 2015 at 10:40 PM | Unregistered Commentercheshirered

Eli Rabett Sep 6, 2015 at 9:42 PM

What the heck. If you think Richard Betts is sayin don't worry, he is not. What he is saying is that 4C by 2070 is possible and that is SCARY. When the globe is committed to 4C would occur much earlier. Richard says worry

Eli, thanks for pointing out that I'm not saying don't worry…..

…but hang on a minute, over at your own blog you say:

Richard Betts says stay calm and carry on. That is not very good advice.

I don't say that, and you obviously know this because you posted the opposite here.

There's a difference between saying "stay calm and carry on" and saying "it's a problem, but don't panic, react sensibly".

Bit sneaky if you ask me. Present me in one way to the sceptics, and another to your own crowd. <sigh>

Sep 7, 2015 at 12:39 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Betts

May a cynical old psychologist chip in (I accept I am all three )? It is worth considering this rather synthetic debate in the context of "anchor effects" defined a long time ago by by Tversky and Kahneman. They showed that if you are trying to persudae someone of something *itself rather extreme*, adopting a really absurd initial starting point is not a bad strategy. They demonstrated that people find it difficult to discount such initial "anchor points" even if they believe themselves immune. Subsequent negotiation is biased towards the (absurd) initial value. It is, if you like, the opposite of the salesman's "foot-in-the-door" technique. Now, let's assume, for the sake of argument, that Professor Betts wants to persuade us of something (possibly something quite extreme). From his point of view, an absurd staring point (particularly touted by a famous outsider) might be a considered a godsend.

Sep 7, 2015 at 8:37 AM | Unregistered Commenteralan kennedy

Or put more simply, if someone puts forward a stupid proposition, often breath-taking in its lack of contact with reality, then those on the other side have to dig down to trivia to form a counter-argument. Yes, seen it done quite deliberately; RenewablesUK are masters of the technique.

As a psychologist, can you suggest a counter-strategy other than the usual 'expletive deleted'?

Just when are the police going to 'move the bear along'?

Sep 7, 2015 at 9:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterCapell

I've no doubt that Ms Thomson did talk to some scientists who did say exactly that. As we know, there are no shortage of shamen-like activist-scientists prepared to just make stuff up in order to influence policy. Alas whether it's sensible to extrapolate from a 0.6K/century, none of which was in the last 20 years, to 4K in 15 years time is quite another story; especially as the only predictive tools available are models that are now well known to be unvalidated and highly pessimistic. Not that 4K (or even 2K) by 2070 is any more credible or scientific.

In fact, leaving aside the gross uncertainties in the science and just looking at basic performance, most of us with some scientific or logical understanding (and I don't include potheaded luvvies or English lit. graduates here) should have noticed by now that the collective predictive record of climate science is significantly worse than blindfolded, random monkeys. In other words, experts my arse!

Sep 7, 2015 at 9:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

This incident again highlights the lack of good communication between the scientific world, in this role played by the MET office, and those who aim to inform the general public notably politicians, the media and unfortunately for the dear Lady Emma a Greenpeace sacrificial lamb.

Emma has taken at face value the underlying figures and message as a definite situation that will happen because the science says so, but only got reprimanded when her puppet masters tried to sex up the script by giving dates closer to the 2020 decision date for Paris later this year.

Richard rightly talks about the risk of climate change by a certain date, one step removed from the reality of climate change. Dr Curry's uncertainty monster comes into play and reality is restored..... apart from the fact that everyone discussing the event still ignores the uncertainty and takes the figures as a factual statement of a definite outcome.

Sep 7, 2015 at 10:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterLord Beaverbrook

Alan Kennedy "adopting a really absurd initial starting point is not a bad strategy".

Yes and no. It depends upon what you ultimately want people to do and how long they have to find out you were lying to them. It also depends upon how often the technique has been used lately. The public, aided by busy bodies like us on the internet, are better at spotting when they're being railroaded than at any point in history. To a certain extent Hollywood has piddled in the pool before AGW ever got there, by hyping any and all potential crises into fiction. Warmists can't shock the public because the movies did it bigger and better already.

To borrow an idea from Dr Who - the bit where he presses the Big Red Button and one third of humanity doesn't step off a roof and the Dr says 'you can't hypnotise people to death.' Warmists may be able to mesmerise people into verbally supporting CO2 reduction or even various projects surrounding it but they can’t trick people into the biggest change to human progress since the Industrial Revolution only backwards. The public will find many and inventive ways of confounding the planners, not least just ignoring them. We've seen each climate march get smaller and smaller.

Warmists need to do something that’s hardly ever been tried before – the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Potentially, that boat has already sailed but it doesn't hurt to try.

Sep 7, 2015 at 1:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

'This is a good collection of papers that deal with the messy issues surrounding how to interpret climate model simulations, reason about their uncertainty, and use them in decision making. There are unfortunately no simple solutions or recipes for these issues. I think the issues raised here need to be confronted in the context of any application of climate model predictions/projections to impacts assessment and decision making.'

Sep 8, 2015 at 7:38 AM | Registered CommenterLord Beaverbrook

" There's no sense in being precise when you don't even know what you're talking about". - John von Neumann .

Sep 8, 2015 at 9:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterHerbert

Questions that need to be answered:

I've seen estimates that the the arctic may produce 30% of all hydrocarbons ever recovered. Can we even process, let alone use that in 15 years given the ramp-up and ramp-down of production? Doesn't this make the projection problematic? How do these considerations affect Richard's 55 year prediction?

I'm assuming the 4C is based on increased CO2 released by burning the arctic reserves. Based on which sensitivity scenario? And based on a linear or logarithmic relationship between CO2 concentration and temperature?

What sort of concentration would we have achieved to cause this based on the observational evidence of temperature and CO2 over the instrumental record? And over the last 20 years of measurements? I think it might be more than 1,000,000 ppm ;)

I have a lot of time for Richard but even pushing the deadline out another 40 years doesn't seem to be realistic at any reasonable sensitivity. What is the basis for 4C at 2070?.

And while I'm asking questions...what 'made' the arctic oil? Doesn't it's presence suggest there was vegetation there collecting solar energy to be fermented into oil at some stage. When was the arctic that green? What were the conditions like at the equator? Does it coincide with a burgeoning of life or a mass extinction?

Sep 8, 2015 at 10:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterClovis Marcus

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