Wednesday, 2 April 2014

"MPs criticise BBC for 'false balance' in climate change coverage"

The BBC report this in a "balanced" fashion, and their arcticle doesn't expressly state that the BBC was criticised for straying from the party line and occasionally presenting some non-alarmist or even skeptical evidence (the BBC does not do wall to wall climate scare nonsense, they intersperse it with more down to earth stuff).

But the Guardian lives up to expectations:

Science and technology select committee says corporation continues to give opinions and scientific fact the same weight…

Aren't most climate stories just some small group's "opinions" about what they want us to think will happen in the future? Facts are current or past events, everything else is guesswork. If you want your predictions to be taken seriously, you have to have a good record of having made accurate predictions in the past.

The report follows longstanding frustration by environment groups, academics and scientists about many BBC programmes appearing to apply "false balance" when they cover climate change. This, they have argued, has often resulted in inaccurate or misleading scientific coverage.

In February, the former chancellor Lord Lawson, a longstanding climate change sceptic, was given equal time on a Today programme debate about climate change and flooding with Professor Sir Brian Hoskins, a climatologist…


OK, let me rephrase that:

"A normal bloke was given equal time with an astrologist."

The remainder of the article and the comments are an absolute hoot, warmly recommended (but less than 1 degree warmer that at any time since 1870, obviously).

36 comments:

paulc156 said...

"BBC condemned for not allowing spokesperson for 'The Earth is Flat' group equal time with those who insist on it's spherical nature."

MP's on the parliamentary committee for 'the establishment of equal publicity for anyone who wants it', stated the following:

"Clearly the BBC is not allowing a balanced debate to take place, on a subject of great importance to many people. Despite the widely held view among world scientists that the Earth is indeed round, there must be adequate time reserved for those who dispute this view, even if they are largely ignorant on the subject. Science isn't a popularity contest and sometimes it takes a layman to point out errors that may have crept into so called 'experts' work."

Kj said...

The small detail you may fail to realise paulc, is that under a government that for some reason found that maintaining the flat-earth teory was important, which also was the case, the suppression of round-earthers limelight was the name of the game. So from wherever you stand, this insistence that media should cover only x as it was fact, seriously hampers both science and debate.

A K Haart said...

By far the most entertaining aspect of global warming is that that so many people believe it.

Blogging would be less fun without them.

Dinero said...

Aren't most climate stories just some small group's "opinions" about what they want us to think will happen in the future

Exactly

So how could this nonsense be enforced.

It would entail anything on the subject , even any bare faced nonsense, being reported without any furhter dialogue. Which would make for very awkward radio/tv
as it is in the nature of the medium to discuss articles, that just the way it is. What do that want, a proclemation follwed by 5 seconds of dead air.
And why do they keep banging on about Nigel Lawson. It was a one off and If anyone listening doesn't know who he is then you can't cater for them anyway.

Dinero said...

I suppose some young people might not know who he is

The Stigler said...

As reality is not currently matching the expectation, who are the realists and the deniers here?

If someone wants to say "it's in the sea", fine. Just show me what was originally to be measured and what the measure of that is today. If it's all gone in the sea, that should be reflecting in whatever calculation is produced and be comparable to expectation.

Because HADCRUT4 isn't showing any warming since 2000. And the likes of the IPCC are still predicting the same global temperature rise by 2100, even though we've had nearly 15 years of 0. And AR5 is even more alarmist, despite the fact that most sensible people who see that results are lower than prediction would generally lean towards the opposite shift in expectations.

paulc156 said...

@Kj
It's not that I think the BBC or anyone else should adopt the starting point that scientific consensus is the same as certainty but if you can't find a single reputable scientist to debate or oppose another scientist on a scientific issue then just move on to something more contentious. As it is, regards anthropomorphic global warming it now boils down to 'man in pub'[or on blog] versus science. They go for Lawson since almost all scientists have stopped arguing the main points and Lawson never tires. It was like listening to two people talking to each other in different languages.

It's not so different to the flat earth versus round 'controversy' [that never was] back in the middle ages. Columbus wasn't worried that his ship might fall off the world, nor his crew. It was just the Lawsons of the day [poorly educated land lubbers]who couldn't keep up with those who had it right. Same as it ever was.

paulc156 said...

@The Stigler "reality not currently matching the expectation..."
What expectation? Predicting out to 2100 is obviously subject to considerable uncertainty but of all the predictions that the IPCC have not one that I have ever seen predicts rises year on year or even over periods as long as three to five years out without some reversals in short term trend. So even some fall in temperature over such periods is quite compatible with a rising [10yrs plus] long term trend.

"HADCRUT4 isn't showing any warming since 2000"

HadCrut4 temperature dataset puts 2010 as the warmest year on record [160yrs], followed by 2005. HadCrut has lacked comprehensive coverage in Arctic regions and we know from others that the Arctic is warming more rapidly than anywhere. Atmospheric warming has slowed, not global warming. Ocean warming, especially at deeper levels has accelerated since 2000.

The Stigler said...

paul156,

So, what was the expected figure, the one number that we could measure the scientists predictions against for ocean temperature in 1997 for what it would be in 2013 and what is it today? Same for arctic temperatures.

Graeme said...

still faithfully trotting out the "Sceptical science " propaganda, paulc? Ihope they reward you fittingly. Specifically re your comment on hadcrut under-measuring the Arctic, I presume you base this on the Cowtan and Way paper. On another blog, Way had this to say:

"The reason we focus on the 1997-2012 period is because that period of time emphasizes the impacts of coverage bias as a result of the rapid warming which began in the Arctic during the late 1990s and continued to present (Table 4). Coverage bias works both ways – in cool periods the lack of coverage in the Arctic can lead to an underestimate of regional cooling. Over the period 1979-2012 the trends we present are similar to the original Hadley data partially because the biases can cancel out to some degree (see Figure 6 in the original paper)."

So if the HADCRUT global warming trend from 1979 to 2012 is “similar” to the C&W “adjusted” trend for the same period then that implies the Arctic was actually cooling (or at the very least warming much less than the rest of the world) in the 1979 to 1997 period so that the overall trends match.

And you should look at this post to see just how badly the GCMs have performed over the last 14 years
http://rankexploits.com/musings/2014/how-would-ar4-have-looked-this-month/

Overall observed temperatures do fall below the multi-model mean of the ensemble at the beginning of the period, continued below, and the average over the 14+ year period since 2000 is below the average for the projections. Is climate science falsifiable? It would appear to be failing badly. Even the faithful alarmists concede that models can only replicate the trend from 2000 or so in about 10% of runs.

paulc156 said...

The 1997 forecast for 2013? You didn't specify the month? Making a prediction in any year for a particular year 16 years ahead, is utterly meaningless even today and no such predictions exist.

The uncertainties are such that only longer term trends [usually around thirty years out] can be predicted with a high degree of confidence. In any case in 1997 decades long fluctuations in the atmosphere and ocean systems[el Nino etc]had only just started to become well understood. The science was still in its infancy.

In reality the models have to first get the past right. This the models have achieved to a high degree, going back over varying lengths of time. Projections by a range of models can be extrapolated making assumptions on gas emissions and those models have given us pretty accurate results thus far. That is for the period since 2010 and the period dating back to 1880. You can see Chapter 8 of the IPCC AR4 report [2007]which lists 23 computer models which contributed to the AR4 assessment and the related charts. More recent models have produced better results.

Dinero said...

Falsifiability principle - Karl Popper

paulc156 said...

@Graeme "I presume you base this on the Cowtan and Way paper". No.
Since you ask: Tamino is a mathematician who works primarily with time series analysis.
http://tamino.wordpress.com/2014/01/30/global-temperature-the-post-1998-surprise/

The Stigler said...

paulc,

"Projections by a range of models can be extrapolated making assumptions on gas emissions and those models have given us pretty accurate results thus far. That is for the period since 2010 and the period dating back to 1880. You can see Chapter 8 of the IPCC AR4 report [2007]which lists 23 computer models which contributed to the AR4 assessment and the related charts. More recent models have produced better results."

I'm confused, so what's the management summary on this?

What was the stuff that was predicted to happen by now, and what's the current data vs that prediction. And I don't need thousands of figures, just some sort of weighted, broad figures that tell us whether the science is showing the right data.

If the answer to that is "too early to tell", OK. We'll have to accept that we can't falsify this hypothesis until 2027, and make economic choices accordingly.

Bayard said...

There'd probably be the same complaints if they did pieces on religion and kept on getting laymen in to argue against the priests.

paulc156 said...

@ TS
"If the answer to that is "too early to tell", OK. We'll have to accept that we can't falsify this hypothesis until 2027, and make economic choices accordingly."

From a purely statistical point of view you would have to wait til 2027 to test the efficacy of 1997 projections. Meteorology has settled on this time span as the most reliable [and shortest] time span with which to assess climate trends. That said, even if we have no clear trend over that 30 year period or a reversal one would still need to exclude other factors like a dramatic increase in volcanic activity or asteroid hit before debunking the greenhouse gas theory!

Meanwhile though, the temperature trend is up whether you start from 1998 [hot year] or 1975. That aside, arctic ice extent[melt] is actually under trend [exceeding the rate of ice loss by simply projecting forward from earlier data points]as is sea level [to the upside]as are CO2 levels [to the upside].

Graeme said...

mmm...Tamino is basically a green activist who is supposed to be a statistician, whose analyses have to be seen to be believed, because they generally involve several kinds of falsehood...because he is a deceptive piece of work. So you would do well not to take him at face value.

paulc156 said...

@Graeme Oh please. He's a mathematician and statistician. Jeesus wept, you referred me to a piece by a mechanical engineer...Oh but I really appreciate the rigor of your ad hominem argument... "because they generally involve several kinds of falsehood...because he is a deceptive piece of work". Oh righty ho then.
Priceless. :)

Bayard said...

p156 Just because he is "a mathematician and statistician" and happens to say things you agree with doesn't necessarily make him honest.
If his papers can be seen to "involve several kinds of falsehood", then he isn't. If you are discussing the veracity of someone's writings, then casting doubt on the person's honesty is a valid argument, whereas it wouldn't be if we were discussing their expertise at tennis, say.

DBC Reed said...

paulc 156 seems to be knocking his adversaries all round the ring on this one.Two caveats:warmies do not have to plump for the greenhouse theory; some part of the temperature change is surely natural: the Sun getting hotter,Carrington events etc.Also not sure about the earlier Columbus riff either: he most likely had a map: the Henricus Martellus world map published before he set out clearly has a map of South America on it but attached to China, which is where Colombus expected something of the sort.

paulc156 said...

@bayard: Just because he is "a mathematician and statistician" and happens to say things you agree with doesn't necessarily make him honest.
If his papers can be seen to "involve several kinds of falsehood", then he isn't. If you are discussing the veracity of someone's writings, then casting doubt on the person's honesty is a valid argument, whereas it wouldn't be if we were discussing their expertise at tennis, say.

Bayard…with the greatest of respect, repeating an ad hominem without adding any more substance or specifics to the accusation than Graeme managed is not flattering you to put it mildly. Maybe I read his stuff because I have some background in mathematics and appreciate that in this area of scientific investigation as much as any other, a good working knowledge of mathematics is more than a bit helpful. A thorough understanding of stats far more so, and expertise in time series analysis especially so and I know enough to know that this is indeed his forte. It doesn’t make him right nor does he routinely claim that what he does constitutes proof, more like quantify evidence/data for or against a proposition. So you just saying the following:

"happens to say things you agree with doesn't necessarily make him honest"...is fatuo...unless that is, you can point out his dishonesty [more than just an error in case you wondered] and a teeny weeny bit more substantive than this risible nonsense from Graeme: [“because they (Tamino’s work)generally involve several kinds of falsehood...because he is a deceptive piece of work".]-no elaboration or supporting evidence provided=ad hominem!

I would also have to ask why it is that you would simply knee jerk seem to readily accept the wise words of Graeme, eloquent as they were as if he has offered up something resembling evidence of the man’s dishonesty on his climate related work. Could it just possibly be, and I stress that this is no more than a plausible hypothesis of my own without any corroborating evidence to support it [just like your hypothesis on my motives] that you are just predisposed to assume the worst of anyone arguing in support of anthropogenic global warming and the best of anyone arguing against it… for ideological reasons alone? Not that I would accuse you of such staggering hypocrisy or anything ...

paulc156 said...

@DBC Reed.
Columbus: The only worry that Columbus had didn't relate to falling off the edge of the world but as to the estimate of the size of the sphere just about everyone, [bar the 'man down t'pub', and possibly Nigel Lawson's great great...] knew he was traveling around. If it were larger than he had assumed he would run short of supplies. The map, I'm unaware of but surely the South America bit can't be right. As you say it was just thought to be the far side [west] of China/Cathay. So just a bit of dodgy cartography?

Re the 'greenhouse' gases. I'm not aware of any science that suggests there aren't other factors of major importance, so much so that they will swamp 'greenhouse' factors for decades at a time or even much longer. Some of the great extinctions have been put down to those other factors acting directly through climate. Though CO2 et al have important roles to play in them too. Milankovitch cycles are known to have been especially important in the last million years or so in determining glacials and interglacials. Ocean current changes [I mentioned el Nino above and there's an Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation ] the impact of aerosols and whether they're natural [Volcanic]or industrial [this explains the mid 20thC 'cooling'] all have potentially dramatic effects over short or longer terms. The sun has been getting hotter for billions of years and will continue to do so. So yes, I agree with that of course. Just that right now we are dealing with the fact that only the rise in greenhouse gases adequately explains the main part of the warming trend over the last century. If the evidence goes the other way I would have no problem accepting that either just that despite a lot of activity from 'citizen' scientists and their web blogs there doesn't appear to be much evidence to the contrary.

It's more than coincidence that on this site there seems to be a default position adopted of denying what is clearly an overwhelming and growing scientific consensus. I do know that the consensus can be wrong, but the only rational explanation for so many on here going for the 'free thinking' independents as opposed to the 'scientific establishment' is one based on an ideological opposition or distrust of most institutional structures. ie; nothing especially to do with 'the' science.

DBC Reed said...

@paul 156 I find it hard to believe that Columbus had no idea of the circumference of the earth .Had n't Eratosthenes worked it out in classical antiquity? If he could measure the distance to India going East he could then subtract this distance from the total circumference to arrive at a figure for going to the same point the other way around. A look at the right-hand side of the Martellus map does raise a few questions, especially as rivers depicted seem to be the South American ones.However it may be a question of more questions than answers.
As a global warming agnostic or fence sitter, I am perturbed by your notion that there may have been some "mid 20th century cooling" by industrial pollutants (partic. coal burning?).This would mean the natural temperature trend was upward anyway and that mid century cooling masked this and nowadays it is not man-made warming but the former natural warming trend reasserting itself.

paulc156 said...

@DBC Reed. He had the circumference wrong by quite a margin. He got lucky really. The common view was 24000 miles but Columbus thought better and reckoned only 18000 miles. He also used Ptolemy's exaggerated estimate of the eastward extent of China so presumed a much shorter journey to Japan/China.

Re cooling mid C. As I understand it, the fact that nighttime temperatures continued to warm while daytime temperatures cooled is a strong indicator of the combined effects of anthropogenic aerosol and greenhouse gas emissions, so there was a slight cooling/hiatus at this time '45-'75. There's a fair amount of uncertainty on this though. Clean air acts from the 70's onwards in many countries thought to be likely cause of sudden change around that time.[earlier here I think]. The 'natural' warming you speak of that 're asserts' needs some other explanation if it wasn't CO2 etc, and we have no other culprit despite suggestions regarding solar activity and others, but C02 is the industrial revolution's gas [weapon] of choice and clearly increases from the 19thC going forwards to this day.

DBC Reed said...

Something a bit dodgy about Columbus.According to his log ,as summarised by Bartolome de las Casas, they pulled out of Canary Islands on 6th September and by 25th were consulting a chart which depicted some islands they were expecting to find. On 6th October they were discussing landing in Chipango (Japan?) or going onto continental mainland (of Asia).But by 10th crews were becoming pissed off by length of voyage (not that long surely?) and Columbus announced they would make landfall in two days which they did. Tends to suggest that Columbus's chart indicated the comparatively short distances between islands in the West Atlantic and that they expected to land quickly and reach Japan soon after(not after a journey of half the Earth's circumference as correctly estimated by Eratosthenes).
I cannot get my head round the concept that 19th cent Co2 from coal burning
caused both global warming and cooling while 20th cent Co2 from cars appears to cause only warming. This would mean going back to Stanley Steamers and other
coal burning steam cars would n't it?

Graeme said...

so what woulde make climagte science falsibfiable?

For Paul, the mere fact that the model projections are wildly wrong over 15 years is not enough.

For Paul, the fact that none of the predictions made by the AGW believers are coming true is not enough.

Just what would be enough to convince paul that his belief in the CO2 hypothesis is mistaken? Empirical facts do not seem to work...

Mark Wadsworth said...

G, that's what did it for me.

I used to believe in quite happily until 2007 or so, because British weather had definitely been a lot warmer than e.g. when I was a kid. So I took the explanations about CO2 at face value.

Then temperatures started falling again and I actually went to the bother of trying to understand the C02 explanation and it simply does not stand up to closer inspection. It is laughable baby physics.

So I'm against pollution and I'm in favour of us using less fossil fuels if at all possible, but I do not believe in global warming any more.

DBC Reed said...

@G&MW
But your response involves defending air pollution by Co2 and the internal combustion engine.As the present air pollution alarm is entirely justified, in E Midlands at least, and this pollution consists, in part, of "industrial" contaminants, it might be as well to cut down the shit in the atmosphere as the Co2 build-up pr4oponents insist. The UK Clean Air Act (1956)was not passed to affect the climate but for more pressing reasons of people not being able to breathe or walk down the street for fear of walking into street furniture (which I experienced).NB We called London "The Smoke"

Kj said...

DBC: good point. Some GW related policies can be reasonable on it's own grounds, like restrictions on smokestack/tailpipe emissions. A flat CO2-tax is not be the worst tax that has been enacted, and some fuel exploration is crazy wasteful if it'd have to pay it's way in externalities, say tar sands. OTOH, there are some really stupid, expensive policies, that will make us poorer, and less capable of adapting to climate change if it turns out the way the scaremongers claim, and there are some proper rent-seeking shit policies like cap and trade. All in all, we could have a reasonable set of policies that aimed towards reducing CO2-emissions, without doing too much economic damage, whatever you believe. As long as we don't listen to the far end of the warmenist spectrum, that is not very happy about humans livin' it up in general.

paulc156 said...

@Graeme
"so what woulde make climagte science falsibfiable?"
Better if you don't post so late at night ;)

"For Paul, the mere fact that the model projections are wildly wrong over 15 years is not enough."

That statement is falsifiable.
Seriously, they are models not laws. Fifteen years ago the science was far more uncertain, the models therefore were never likely to be spot on.
But, crucially there has been NO pause. Much less heat into surface/land warming [though still some warming there]and much more into Oceans, glaciers etc. Even if you're ignorant of ocean warming have you not heard of glacial melting these past few years? It's accelerated since the turn of the century. Rising sea levels? Onwards and upwards. It hit a 3 monthly averaged record at the end of 2012. As you'd expect from all that ice melt. Hottest year for Oz ever recorded in 2013?

Furthermore those models you speak of did not take into account the current pattern of a two decade long period of strong trade winds in the Pacific which when allowed for redeems those same models. It's also fair to say that these oscillating trade winds [Pacific interdecadal/El Nino/Nina etc] are not set in stone and can't be forecast with any high level of confidence.
However to answer your somewhat naive question on falsifiability, once these trade wind patterns revert as they surely will sometime in the coming year/few years we 'should then expect' to see much of the heat that's been directed toward the ice and ocean reassert itself on land making up for any slowdown [not halt] that we've had and we should see it in pretty dramatic fashion. Were those winds to revert without any such land warming, and no other sufficient mitigating factors were to present, then that would prove to be a major setback to the whole theory. You live in hope...

Dinero said...

The climate debate hit the media in 1997 with Kyoto.
Since then there has been no identifable change to anyones life concirning climate. Its absurd to say the BBC should treat the topic with uniquely special reverence. Its not a scientific theory its a scientific discourse. If it was a theory it would comply with Popper's falsifiabilaty principle , which it does not. If a prediction from someone or a group in the field fails to materialise the subjects credibilaty does not go down amongst its adhearants and so overall the subject as a whole, rather than one part or process, does not comply with the Falsifabilaty principle.

paulc156 said...

@MW If you start from a position of arguing for or against some phenomenon on the basis of 'personal experience' [2007 hotter than when you were a kid] you are starting from a bad place. Rising temperature trend slows and you seek something to confirm your 'new' bias that the world has stopped warming.
The "baby physics" comment just sounds like petulance.
Richard Muller, a Berkeley Professor of 'baby' physics of some standing and long time vocal 'anthropogenic skeptic' [I listened to his critique to his undergraduate students of Al Gore's 'An Inconvenient Truth' several years ago] yet Muller has reversed his call since 2012 having spent the best part of a year reviewing the evidence and taking an independent look at the data.
This is climate warming proponents 'Skeptical Science' taking Muller to task for his skeptical comments in 2011. Here he is in 2012 writing an op ed in the NYT.
Doing the 'physics' on CO2 and climate is quite complicated. I know you're a self confessed maths geek but I'd be curious as to just what you looked at regarding the evidence on CO2 as a warmer that led you to the opposite conclusion to those in the scientific community. Where's your slam dunk debunk? I'm presuming it's not a study or a set of data points but rather some principle that's led you to a very different place.

paulc156 said...

@Dinero
"Since then there has been no identifable change to anyones life concirning climate."

Really Dinero, this is rather obviously a dubious statement. Even if you adopt the position that CO2's only verifiable effects on planet Earth are in distributing mist on Top Of The Pops stage sets, your statement about climate/peoples lives would still be bizarre.

"Its not a scientific theory its a scientific discourse."

...and the reason the BBC frequently can't find any working scientists to carry on this discourse is...the reason is, it's a widely accepted theory. Your premise is wrong hence so is your conclusion.

Bayard said...

"Not that I would accuse you of such staggering hypocrisy or anything .."

For someone so critical of ad hominem attacks, you seem surprisingly willing to use them.

I was not repeating an "ad hominem attack" on Tamino, whoever he may be, just taking issue with your reasoning about said attack. Try re-reading my comment without the red mist in front of your eyes that descends whenever someone raises doubts on your faith in man-made global warming.

DBCR, someone has recently pointed out that all this effort to cut CO2 emissions has taken out eye of the ball concerning air pollution. Global warming, whether man-made or not, hasn't directly killed anyone yet. Air pollution kills thousands a year. Personally, I thinks the Warmies are right for the wrong reasons: we should be cutting down on fossil fuel use because there is, by definition, a limited amount of them and one day they will run out or become stupidly expensive, not because they are affecting the climate, which they don't appear to be.

paulc156 said...

@Bayard Lat's see if this one makes the cut.

"If his [said author]papers can be seen to "involve several kinds of falsehood" [you repeating Graeme's claim], then he isn't [honest]" Bayard.

That's what you said. IF IF IF.
Graeme offered nothing by way of example despite posting me since that particular comment even though I'd asked for some 'evidence'.

So your argument is of a perfect circular variety. IF Graeme is right about said author then you ARE right about said author and my chain of reasoning...but since YOU'VE never heard of author and Graeme wasn't able to explain or give one example of 'deceptive work' one might assume some caution is in order before repeating Graeme's unsubstantiated point.

On the 'faith' point. I have stated that I'm not 'certain' on the issue of anthropogenic warming in this thread. Nor am I wedded to it. Yet you don't seem able to recognise your own air of 'faith' in the opposite argument, the 'denier' faith. You don't have to be objective, your prerogative and all, but why on earth you imagine you are is beyond me.

Bayard said...

P156,

I made the remark about the red mist because you failed to appreciate that my comment was not about global warming. Let me rephrase, using a different example : "Just because he is "a philosopher" and happens to say things you agree with doesn't necessarily make him honest.
If his papers can be seen to "involve several kinds of falsehood", then he isn't. If you are discussing the veracity of someone's writings, then casting doubt on the person's honesty is a valid argument, whereas it wouldn't be if we were discussing their expertise at tennis, say."

or, to put it more simply:

Graeme made a disparaging remark about someone called Tamino, calling him "a deceptive piece of work". You replied "@Graeme Oh please. He's a mathematician and statistician. Jeesus wept,", thus implying that his being a mathematician and a statistician meant that his honesty was beyond doubt and that Graeme was wrong in calling him "a deceptive piece of work". I thought this was dodgy reasoning and said so. Yes, I used a lot of "if's", but that is the word you have to use if you are discussing logic, even if it appears to be a bit unwelcome when discussing climate change.