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Is this what's next?

A little while ago it looked as if biodiversity was going to be the next big green issue. It didn't seem to gain much traction, but here's what looks like another attempt to test the political waters: the Royal Society's latest seminar.

What would a global policy to regulate human use of fixed nitrogen look like?


Professor Jones is angry

Steve Jones appears somewhat irked at the criticism that has flowed his way since the publication of his review of the BBC's science coverage. Referring to the demonstration by Alfred Russel Wallace of the curvature of the Earth he expounds

Wallace was described as a "pitiful dastard… a swindler and impostor, a coward and a liar" and several newspapers published virulent pieces on the supposed dishonesty of the scientific establishment and its unwillingness to allow debate on such a contentious issue.

Of course, that could never happen today and all this has nothing to do with the tsunami of criticism that greeted my suggestion last week in a report to the BBC Trust that the BBC should stop giving excessive time to those who oppose science on the basis of belief rather than evidence and should promote debate between scientists instead.

This is quite interesting. Jones says that he has recommended that the BBC should reduce airtime to "those who oppose science on the basis of belief rather than evidence". If this were the case I imagine the "tsunami of criticism" would have been a minor ripple at most. However, Jones' description of his recommendations does not match the actual wording of his report:

I recommend that the BBC takes less rigid view of “due impartiality” as it applies to science (in practice and not just in its guidelines) and takes into account the non‐contentious nature of some material and the need to avoid giving undue attention to marginal opinion.

So far from seeking to sideline non-scientific criticisms, Jones delivered recommendations that focus on non-mainstream views. According to the recommendations I have quoted, you can be as scientific as you like, but if you are "marginal", you can be ignored. Far from defending science, Jones is actually building barriers to the scientific method.

And this from a fellow medallist of the Royal Society.


Jostling for position

Michael Lemonick has an interesting article about the role of the sun in climate, inevitably discussing Svensmark's work. This has the feel of further jostling for position ahead of publication of the results of the CLOUD experiment.

[Svensmark's] idea is far from outlandish on a theoretical level, and lab experiments at the European Organization for Nuclear Research near Geneva have shown that this can actually happen. Moreover, Svensmark and several collaborators have claimed to see a correlation between the sunspot cycle and cloud cover — more clouds when the Sun is quiet, fewer when it’s acting up.


The Cambridge conference - videos

The Howard Foundation has started to post videos of the talks at the Cambridge Climate Conference. So far only the contributions from Nigel Lawson and Vaclav Klaus have appeared. No doubt the scientists will follow in due course.

Lawson Part 1, Part 2.

Klaus Part 1, Part 2.

(H/T Climate Realists)


A conspiracy of warmists

An extraordinary pair of postings at the Chronicle of Higher Education dealing with the machinations of some fairly prominent online proponents of the AGW hypothesis. The comments threads are particularly ugly, but I don't think they will have won many converts.



The two cultures of science

Sir John Beddington has responded to readers' comments on his report "Preparing for the Future", which was much criticised by BH readers for its failure to quantify any of the alleged risks with which it claimed we are beset.

The response, as expected, does little to address criticisms in a meaningful way. Here's what he has to say about the failure to quantify the risks:

It was not in its scope to provide a formal or quantitative risk assessment but to identify a range of threats and opportunities that should be considered as signposts for action by policymakers, and a basis for further, more detailed analysis and assessment.

Click to read more ...


More from the police

Norfolk Constabulary have now made a somewhat fuller disclosure of information about their dealings with the Russell inquiry, making available some of their correspondence.

Although they are not mentioned in the Norfolk disclosures, the first meeting between the Russell panel and Julian Gregory, the policeman in charge of the investigation, dates back to the end of 2009, when Russell visited Norfolk for exploratory talks. He was joined by Norton for a second meeting at the end of January 2010. The Russell panel has withheld the minutes of these meetings on the grounds that they might prejudice the police investigation.

Click to read more ...


Chill man - Josh 114

From the post at Climate Etc - more name calling of skeptics, but this one is ok.



I'm off on my travels for the next week, so blogging will be non-existent.


John Droz on sea level

John Droz, writing at WUWT, has a very interesting article on a battle of wits over sea level rise. As I noted after the Cambridge Conference, I have made a mental note to pay more attention to this aspect of the global warming debate. There are some remarkable stories in this area. The conclusions of the paper Droz is writing about are startling enough

To reach the multimeter levels projected for 2100 by RV requires large positive accelerations that are one to two orders of magnitude greater than those yet observed in sea-level data.

The story of the counterarguments from Profs Rahmstorf and Vermeer is rather remarkable too.



Speccy on Beddington

The Spectator has picked up on one of the aspects of Sir John Beddington's activities that has been bothering me.

Sir John Beddington’s job is to advise on science. Instead, he appears to have appointed himself minister for propaganda.

There is of course also his role as internal lobbyist to worry about, but it's good to see someone else noticing what's going wrong.


UEA response to EIR requests – it depends who you are

This is a guest post by Richard Brierley.

This post is written to publicise an interesting anomaly in UEA’s treatment of requests sent to it under the Environmental Information Regulations.

Readers should know that my interest is only in compliance with EIR Regulations.  I am neither qualified nor sufficiently knowledgeable to get to the meat of some of the requests for data from UEA or to understand it even if it is disclosed.  I am a lawyer by training and the recent QUB and UEA ICO cases have interested me greatly – they have shown a strong reluctance on the part of these publicly funded organisations to retain for their own benefit the work for which we have all paid.  Thus is identified a friction between what those institutions consider to be their valid interests and what the Regulations provide – public access.  I have become highly interested in the way in which these interests are balanced and my preference is in favour of public access, (which is under the Regulations the presumption from where we all start), to information created or produced with tax payer money.

Click to read more ...


Contradictory Chris

Chris Huhne is on the climate change warpath again. Here's the transcript from his latest speech. Much to take issue with, such as this apparent contradiction:
Severe droughts are now twice as common as they were in 1970. Research suggests human action doubled the risk of the 2003 European heatwave. And climate change made the autumn 2000 floods in the UK about twice as likely.
Climate change above 2 degrees is called catastrophic for a reason. Warmer air carries more water. Humidity means storms, hurricanes, flash floods.



Climategate emails online

A few people have emailed in recent weeks to say that the online versions of the CRU emails have disappeared from the web. I'm therefore grateful to Marcel Crok for pointing me to this version at YourVoiceMatters.


On the media

The big story in the UK (or at least in Westminster) is the phone hacking scandal and new lines of inquiry are still being opened up. Today the noise on Twitter is that while he was editor of News of the World Andy Coulson paid the Conservative bigwig William Hague 200,000 a year for a weekly column. Coulson later joined the Conservative administration as Prime Minister's spokesman.

It's all slightly nebulous but it certainly doesn't feel right does it? £4000 for a (short) article is preposterous money.

So what has this got to do with our normal fare here at BH? Well, in the wake of the BBC's report on science coverage, I was struck by the revelation that the wife of the report's author makes television programmes for a living. Repeating myself, it's all slightly nebulous, but it doesn't feel right, does it?