BBC's Unbound Climate Zeal: Again!

After a few days of rest, aimed perhaps at calming down the furore around the Harrabin-Abbess story, the BBC Climate Change Propaganda Committee is running at full steam once again. Now is the turn of Richard Black to be on-message with a new scary piece about sea levels in fabled year 2100.

There are several interesting points to consider.

(1) Mr Black mentions how the new “scientific analysis” by Svetlana Jevrejeva and others “from the Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory (POL), near Liverpool, UK”, provides results of the same order of magnitude as other efforts in the past, for example by “German researcher Stefan Rahmstorf”.

Unfortunately there is no mention of the fact that the pages of Science magazine are hosting a peer-to-peer debate among Rahmstorf, the POL group and others, about the very significance of Rahmstorf’s linear-modelling methods.

(2) For some reason (more about this later), Mr Black leaves unchallenged the notion that “for the past 2,000 years, the [global average] sea level was very stable, it only varied by about 20cm” adding that according to POL’s Simon Holgate “There is some limited archaeological evidence [based on] the sill heights of fish enclosures that the Romans used, that’s probably the strongest evidence that there hasn’t been any significant change in sea level over the last 2,000 years”. Some major news would that indeed be: compare it to the POL’s much nuanced FAQ (e.g. “Changes in ocean level due to climate change can be greater in some places than others because the ocean circulation will adapt to accommodate the new climate regime”).

And go look for Roman sills and sea levels in the POL website, if you can.

(3) Mr Black doesn’t involve himself that much in numbers. Too bad. Here some results. If the current rise rate of 3-mm per year is true, by the year 2100 the sea level will have risen by 28 centimeters. For that level to reach “between 0.8m and 1.5m”, the yearly rate must go up to 9-16 millimeters per year (3 to 5 times more than today), or more. One would hope that measurement systems able to “see” 3 millimeters with any significance, will be able to measure a three- to five-fold increase. By when that is going to happen, we are not told.

(4) Funnily enough, it’s at the end of the article that we are told that “Dr Jevrejeva’s projections have been submitted for publication in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences”. So the whole the piece was about a poster presentation at the EGU conference? So much for a major breakthrough deserving front-page space in the BBC News website.

If anybody asks me, that’s the strongest evidence for climate-change zeal…

There is more…looking around Google News, it becomes evident that the news story originated with a Reuters reported at the EGU conference in Vienna. Apart from the BBC, most if not all news media are now reporting the Reuters piece verbatim. On the BBC site, Mr Black does not mention Reuters, and is reported as actually physically being in Vienna himself.

The whole BBC article looks like original research: perhaps it is. Suspiciously, though, the same people are mentioned by Mr Black and by Reuters…