Tag Archives: BBC News

Is This The Face Of Evil At The BBC?

 

He Who Questions Science
He Who Questions Science

 

Mukul Devichand…try to remember this name (well, it helps if you’re Indian, Welsh, or both)…why? Because Mr Devichand’s “The Spirit Level: the theory of everything?” programme on Radio4 tonight has surely been the most shocking BBC documentary since Oct 18, 1922.

You see, Mukul “Scourge of Science” Devichand HAS QUESTIONED A COUPLE OF SCIENTISTS’ THEORY.

The shock! The horror!

Yes, you’ve read it correctly. Rather than recording the usual regurgitated press release in order to reaffirm how any scientist that happens to be near a microphone is always right and always will be, Mr Devichand has done his job, what should be the normal job for every self-respecting journalist at the BBC and elsewhere: he has put forward interesting, probing, challenging questions to the scientists at hand, making sure the listeners understood the limits of the proposed theory, and going as far as to suggest some of the criticisms could be warranted.

Have you ever heard of a more evil person? (yes, I have)

The programme had no qualms in discussing the policy implications of the proposed theory, and didn’t try to paint opponents as anti-Science people. Finally, there was an open admission that (esp. in matters of public policy) things will always be interpreted according to one’s “heart”.

Is this an example of things to come? I HEREBY EXPRESS MY SUPPORT FOR THE PROMOTION OF MR MUKUL DEVICHAND AS BBC CLIMATE NEWS SUPREMO.

If only.

Just think, how many Jos Abbesses are out there, lurking in wait of another chance to metaphorically beat a BBC employee to submission at the first sign of doubt

Royal Society Inspires Numerically-Proven Self-Debasement At Shameful BBC News Website

I know it’s hopeless, but today I have sent a complaint to the BBC for the shameful, biased coverage of the Royal Society’s “new short guide to the science of climate change”.

For unfathomable (ahr ahr!) reasons, much is made of the association between two Fellows of the Royal Society and the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF). One is left to wonder if the remaining 41 Fellows “who called for” the new Royal Society pronouncement, are just stooges of the GWPF. Who knows, perhaps Pallab Ghosh believes the whole Society including Lord Rees are zombies manipulated by Lord Lawson?

Actually, it’s not just a matter of opinion. Keep in mind that the article is titled “Royal Society launches new climate change guide“. Therefore one would expect it to be dedicated to the Royal Society and its stance on climate change. Keep also in mind that journalists are painfully aware of the importance of dedicating the right number of words to the right topic.

Now, there are 419 words in Mr Ghosh’s piece. Of those, 83 are dedicated to Bob Ward’s likely slanderous innuendos against the GWPF, a topic that is removed as far as it gets from the Royal Society and its stance on climate change:

…Lord Lawson’s Global Warming Policy Foundation […] campaigns against climate researchers and promotes inaccurate and misleading information about climate change

That’s 83/419=19.81% of the total. Now add the words in the previous paragraph in the article, just as well irrelevant to what the article was supposed to be about, and you get 125/419=29.83%.

In other words, 30% of Mr Ghosh’s writing has little to do with the Royal Society and its stance on climate change. Can anybody imagine what would happen at the BBC if, say, 30% of any political article were blatantly irrelevant?

Funny to see such a shameful behaviour in their “science” section of all places.

BBC More Confused Than Birds About Climate Change

Are milder winters good for wildlife? Yes? No? Who knows? Certainly, nobody would know it were the BBC the main source of information…

Latest: Mar 19, 2010: “The harsh winter in Britain may have had a devastating impact on wildlife, particularly on birds like the kingfisher“. But on May 28, 2003: “increases in spring temperatures in temperate areas of Europe” mean “long-range migrant birds ‘in peril’“, even if “short-haul migrational birds could benefit“.

And if on Nov 3, 2005, “scientists showed that migration and breeding of the great tit, puffin, red admiral and other creatures are moving out of step with food supplies“, on May 8, 2008, as already reported here, “great tits cope well with warming“. Didn’t they know? On Dec 19, 2001, Alex Kirby had written “The populations of some common wild bird species in the UK are at their highest in more than a decade. Woodland birds and several rare species are also doing better than they have. […] Scientists say mild winter weather helped many species“.

On the other hand, wasn’t it on Aug 12, 2000 that we were told that “the hunters say the drop in grouse populations during the past two years was mainly due to an unusually wet summer in 1998 and a mild winter in 1999“?

The overall impression is of course that few at the BBC (or amongst the esteemed scientists and various interviewees for several years) understand about the topic they are writing about, so they end up contributing to an absolutely confused mess where too much uncritical reporting demonstrates everything and its opposite.

If one waits long enough, literally anything will appear on the BBC News website on matters of climate.

ps Nature presenter Bill Oddie is reported on March 25, 2005 as saying “When I was a lad we had ‘proper’ winters and spring started in April. Now that seems a thing of the past“. I guess Mr Oddie must be happy by now, alongside a Herefordshire farmer who warned on Nov 11, 2006 of a shortage of blackcurrant squash and jam” linked to (of course!) mild winters.

Poor Overall Quality Of BBC Science Pages – Not Just Climate Change

Interesting to see Ben Goldacre (here and here) and then Paul Bradshaw (here) complain about the BBC’s “bizarre” policy of linking to “journal homepages, and university homepages” rather than to the actual article being discussed. Goldacre:

there are the many serious problems raised by linking to university homepages (eg glasgow.ac.uk) and journal homepages, instead of specific research. They leave it completely ambiguous as to what piece of research was being described, often there is insufficient information in the news article to identify it, often time has passed and it is unclear what issue of the journal someone should be looking in

One of Bradshaw’s points might sound very familiar with people interested to understand climate change beyond the catastrophical rubbish so often mentioned as “science”:

Authoritative, accurate and attractive coverage relies at least in part in allowing users to point out issues with scientific research or its reporting

It is very unlikely the BBC will change its attitude…the Corporation is not built to correct itself based on readers’ comments. Still, people can vote with their mouse, and follow the lead of award-winning science writer Ed Yong (@edyong209):

Just unfollowed the BBC Science pages. What’s the point? Bland, linkless coverage. Times, Wired, NYT, Nature all far better.

Climate Change Going Out Of Fashion At The BBC

No climate change news at the BBC
No climate change news at the BBC

And lo! On the twelfth day of the ninth tenth year of the third millennium, a strange phenomenon appeared on the website of the British (Climate Change) Broadcasting Corporation. In the ‘Science & Environment‘ pages, not even one news item was dedicated to climate change…

Only “features” and “analysis” survive. For how long? Perhaps the Copenhagen disaster of a summit has claimed yet another victim.

Richard Black Sees The Light

Rejoice all ye faithful! Warmist Extraordinaire, BBC News environmental expert journalist Mr Richard Black has started to grasp all that is wrong with AGW messages such “the planet is burning”, “humanity is in peril”, “climate change is a bigger threat than nuclear war”.

I would have never expected to read Mr Black (with whom I have a long list of past disagreements) write statements such as

Climate change is projected to become a major driver of biodiversity decline […] but at the moment, the major factor is habitat loss as the human footprint expands. When it comes to fisheries […] the single biggest driver is undoubtedly over-consumption […] And underlying it all is the growth in the human species

[…] if climate impacts are at present largely reversible but the loss of a species self-evidently isn’t, does that make biodiversity loss more important than climate change?

[…] if the fundamental drivers of all the trends are the swelling in the human population and our expanding thirst for raw materials, why aren’t these the things that politicians and environmental groups are shouting about and trying to change?

The blog in question is titled “Does climate cloud the bigger picture?“.

Mr Black goes as far as to admit that

some of the policies being considered as a response to climate change […] could exacerbate other environmental problems

Perhaps he (and some among my twelve readers) will now understand why I simply cannot bear the constant barrage of absurdist climate change claims (shrinking sheep included). AND the BBC’s own fixation with all things global warming.

IMNSHO, anybody that cares about the environment should be wary of overshooting remarks about any particular environmental issue: those will not help solve anything, and likely will make things worse overall.

Somebody Please Help Me Find BBC Non-Warmist Biases And Errors

As of Monday evening GMT, Richard Black’s “UK ‘must plan’ for warmer future” (Page last updated at 17:04 GMT, Thursday, 18 June 2009 18:04 UK) is still visible under the “Environment” sub-section the of BBC Science & Environment home page.

Pallab Ghosh’s “Climate warnings’ error margins” (Page last updated at 11:58 GMT, Thursday, 18 June 2009 12:58 UK) is nowhere else to be seen than via directly input of the URL. Remarkably, it cannot be found even under FEATURES AND ANALYSIS in the “standard” right-side column sub-section for climate-related pages. It is missing from the GREEN ROOM as well.

Richard Black’s article appears in that same right-side column under LATEST SCIENCE

I am a regular follower of the BBC Science & Environment site. Still, had it not been mentioned in today’s Benny Peiser’s CCNet mailing, Pallab Ghosh’s work would have disappeared without me noticing a thing.

And it is not a matter of when the article was last updated: there are two pages under Environment, one “Page last updated at 09:24 GMT, Thursday, 18 June 2009 10:24 UK” and the other “Page last updated at 08:25 GMT, Thursday, 18 June 2009 09:25 UK”. Both have been written/modified before Pallab Ghosh’s article.

There is one big difference though. Pallab Ghosh’s piece is much more critical of the Defra latest absurd claims on totally-unscientific climate projections over a 5-km grid.

Of course answers could range from “Not everything at the BBC is well planned” to “The Analysis list will be updated soon”, and more. But…if the BBC always and every time inadvertently and unwittingly errs on the side of the warmists, what ever will be left of the feeling that those errors are really inadvertent and unwitting?

Where are the BBC non-warmist inadvertent errors?

Please help me find any, as I have promised Richard Black via private e-mail I will refrain from criticising the BBC about AGW bias for a year, if he (or anybody else) can find anything.

And no, The Blog of Bloom doesn’t count. It would have had counted, had the BBC itself lent it any credibility in the past…

BBC And Climate: News Before Things Happen?

[ UPDATED 22:50 GMT June 15: Andrew Bolt kindly links here and then makes a good point in his blog, with the help of “reader Anthony“, further demonstrating the BBC bias on the topic of AGW: “That’s not reporting, but propagandising. You disagree? Then ask why the BBC reported on a Melbourne protest of a few hundred believers of its preferred green faith, but ignored this Melbourne protest by even more believers of a more traditional one“]

[ UPDATED 23:47 GMT: According to Singapore’s Straits Times, it was “Hundreds of environmental activists” marching in Australia. The Sydney Morning Herald focuses on Brisbane and “a crowd of 600“, after reporting that “thousands of environmental activists marched in central Sydney“. Finally, Melbourne-based The Age writes that “The rallies attracted about 6,000 people nationwide“.

That article is timestamped at 6:24PM, or 8:24AM GMT, a little less than 4 hours after Phil Mercer’s piece for the BBC. QED.]

[ UPDATED 13:50 GMT: I have inserted the pictures grabbed earlier today.

There is now an ABC article saying “At a protest rally in central Sydney, streets were blocked off as more than 1,000 people marched through the city streets to the office of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd“. And yes, it mentions just Sydney.

There is also a blog (with a photo) claiming “Thousands marched from Melbourne’s State Library to the Treasury Gardens to demand more action on climate change“.

To be perfectly clear, the point of this blog is not to ask if thousands have marched in Australia against climate change or not. Had the BBC reported manufactured news, that would have been fraud. Instead, the point is to ask on what basis did the BBC find it necessary to rush this kind of news first, and without having had the time to check what they were writing about.

That is not fraud: it is bias. And I do not think the BBC can afford to show bias.]

Australians demand climate action“, writes Phil Mercer from Sydney on the BBC News web pages

Thousands of demonstrators have rallied across Australia to demand greater government action to protect the environment from climate change

BBC report on marching Australians
BBC report on marching Australians

Or have they? Has Mr Mercer written his piece before the fact (could happen), and much worse, before having the information needed to verify the contents of his article?

It is rather strange, for example, that there was no picture of those thousands of people available for the BBC to publish…

Mercer’s article as of now is timestamped as “Page last updated at 04:20 GMT, Saturday, 13 June 2009”. That corresponds to 2:20pm in places like Brisbane and Sydney. The National Climate Emergency Rallies were scheduled for 1pm Brisbane time. I suppose that could put Mercer’s article in the “breaking news” category.

But look now at what else is available on the ‘net about thousands of people marching in Australia. When limited to the past 24 hours, and sorted by time, Google results include only two relevant news articles apart from the BBC’s

Google's web results sorted by date
Google's web results sorted by date
thewest.com.au report on hundreds of Perth marchers
thewest.com.au report on hundreds of Perth marchers
AFP picture of Sydney marchers from Business Recorder
AFP picture of Sydney marchers from Business Recorder

(the Nigeria Best Forum entry is a copy-and-paste from the BBC)

from Nigerian Best Forum blog
from Nigerian Best Forum blog

Notably, the AFP picture cannot be used to judge a crowd’s size. Even more notably, there is nothing as of now from Australian’s sites and blogs about “thousands of people“.

So if there’s no pictures, and the only local report is about “hundreds of people” in one city, where is the BBC picking up its “thousands…across Australia” figure? Why, look at the National Climate Emergency Rallies website:

National Climate Emergency Rally web site
National Climate Emergency Rally web site

On June 13, join thousands of people around the country at the National Climate Emergency Rally. The rally is a vital opportunity to send our governments a united message that the Australian public wants strong, swift and real action to solve the climate crisis

———-

In summary, BBC’s Phil Mercer’s “news” article has likely been pre-packaged with an “informed guess” using activists’ own estimates made long before any demonstration had taken place.

And it has been rushed up to appear as top “Top Story” in the Science & Environment page just in time for Britons to read early on Saturday morning: before any meaningful check about its content could be done. More: before any other major news media thought is meaningful to report about it. Google News, in fact, shows nothing else apart from what already listed above.

———-

Now…by what stretch of imagination can an organization rushing itself forward, with pre-packaged rathern than breaking news, present itself as reporting on climate change impartially and without a bias? Were this any other aspect of politics, BBC news could easily be categorized as a political outlet.

Perhaps some Editor over there will have an answer to this…

(note: I have grabbed most of the sites above as PNGs…later today I will insert the relevant pictures)

Numerical Evidence Of Richard Black's (And the BBC's) Biased Climate Reporting

Numerical evidence for Richard Black’s (hence, the BBC’s) biased reporting on climate can be found in the amount of space dedicated to the various arguments in the “appalling” article about Japan’s emission targets.

The article is made of 469 words. Of those, 249 make up “neutral” sentences (54%). Negative comments are made of 156 words (34%). Only 58 words (13%…a mere three sentences!!) are left to explain the reasons for the Japanese government’s decision (see below for separate extracts).

In other words, for each word supporting the decision, there are a little less than three words against it. And with direct quotes, as if somebody had actively sought pro-AGW opinions…

How many times does a point need to be made before falling into readers’ brainwashing, one asks?

NEUTRAL

Japan has announced a target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 15% over the next 11 years –
The target equates to a cut of about 8% from 1990 levels, the commonly used baseline. By comparison, the EU plans a 20% reduction over the same period.
The announcement comes in the middle of talks on the UN climate treaty in Bonn.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the UN advisory body, has recommended that developed nations cut emissions by 25-40% from 1990 levels by 2020.
Mr Aso’s target puts Japan roughly in line with the US. President Obama has pledged to bring emissions back down to 1990 levels by 2020, although legislation coming through Congress is likely to impose a target of about 6%.
Last year, Mr Aso’s predecessor Yasuo Fukuda set a longer term target of cutting emissions by 60-80% by 2050, and indicated the 2020 target would be close to the EU’s.
The US, and some EU nations, are determined that major developing countries such as China and India should adopt emission curbs.
But they have repeatedly said they will not sign up to measures that could curb their economic growth, arguing that the developed world must lead the way.
The two-week meeting in Bonn, which ends on Friday, is the latest in a series leading up to December’s key summit in Copenhagen, which is supposed to usher in a climate agreement to supersede the Kyoto Protocol, whose current emissions targets only run as far as 2012.

NEGATIVE REMARKS

a figure derided by environmentalists as “appalling”.
Some observers say Japan’s goal is not enough to persuade developing countries to cut their own emissions.
“The target is not strong enough to convince developing nations to sign up for a new climate change pact,” said Hidefumi Kurasaka, professor of environmental policies at Japan’s Chiba University.
But Kim Carstensen, leader of the global climate initiative at environment group WWF, said the 8% target represented virtually no advance from the 6% cut that Japan had pledged, under the Kyoto Protocol, to achieve by 2012.
“Prime Minister Aso’s plan is appalling,” he said.
“[It] would mean that Japan effectively gives dirty industries the freedom to pollute without limits for eight years.”
Japan’s annual emissions are currently about 6% above 1990 levels, despite its Kyoto Protocol pledge to make cuts.
To the chagrin of environment groups – who point the finger at lobbying from Japanese industry – this has not transpired.

JAPANESE GOVERNMENT’S REASONS

Announcing the target, Prime Minister Taro Aso argued it was as strong as the EU’s because it does not include “flexible mechanisms” such as international carbon trading.
But the government points out that the society uses energy much more efficiently than other industrialised countries. Per-capita greenhouse gas emissions are about half the rates in Australia and the US.

Explanation For BBC Science News Webpage's Climate Change Policy

Having carefully watched the BBC “Science & Environment” news web page for several weeks now, I am inclined to identify the following as their underlying “Climate Change” reporting policy:

  1. No day shall pass without at least one climate-change-related link somewhere on that page
  2. Reporting on scientific articles supporting AGW will be strictly confined to a slight change of the original press release with the smallest and most inconsequential of doubt and criticism in the results
  3. Whatever Prince Charles or any other environmental celebrity has to say will be considered worthy of publication
  4. No such luck for anything not supporting AGW, however authoritative the source.
  5. Point 4 will not apply once a quarter or so, in order to demonstrate “balanced reporting”
  6. No climate change link will be considered too trivial to report
  7. There will be links to Richard Black’s blog
  8. There will be no link to the BBC’s own “Climate Change – The Blog of Bloom” blog. After all, it does make fun of AGW

And so there goes my licence money at work supporting the fight against the destruction of the world by evil SUV drivers…

Science Magazine: Evidence Of AGW Prejudice

Many thanks to the BBC for (unwittingly?) underlying a case of pro-AGW bias on the AAAS ‘ flagship magazine Science , "the world’s leading outlet for scientific news, commentary, and cutting-edge research ".

(Leading? Yes, but where, one should ask. Leading towards a pre-conceived, data-independent and therefore antiscientific understanding of the world. But here are the details…)

In a sentence, the Editors of Science appear fixated with AGW to the point of forgetting the non-AGW articles that somehow manage to surface in their magazine.

The case consists of 2 "reports " ("brief communications"?) and 1 "perspectives " ("invited commentary"?) from the 8 May 2009 issue ; a little-known climate-change BBC blog with a (positive, free-minded) approach; and a sheepish attitude by the BBC "Science & Environment" staff in reporting news with no trace of any critical approach to the subject.

This is the complete list with links (details at the bottom of the blog):

(a) REPORT #1: The Role of Aerosols in the Evolution of Tropical North Atlantic Ocean Temperature Anomalies (blaming desert dust and not global warming for most of the recent warming of the tropical North Atlantic)

(b) REPORT #2: Basin-Scale Coherence in Phenology of Shrimps and Phytoplankton in the North Atlantic Ocean (suggesting, in the BBC words, that a world without shrimp cocktails is in the making due to global warming, i.e. human-induced climate change)

(c) PERSPECTIVES: Ecology – Some Like It Cold

(d) BBC NEWS SCIENCE & ENVIRONMENT: Shrimp tuned to ocean temperature

(e) BBC CLIMATE CHANGE – THE BLOG OF BLOOM: Ashes to ashes, dust to dust: theory that Atlantic Ocean is warming due to climate change laid to rest

And here the most likely chronology:

  1. Science magazine publishes (a) and (b) in the same issue. Note that they are both "reports" and therefore have been given absolutely equal importance
  2. The Editors of Science overlook (a) (the report blaming desert dust and not global warming for most of the recent warming of the tropical North Atlantic)
  3. The same Editors invite and publish (c) therefore concentrating everybody’s attention on (b) (the report suggesting a world without shrimp cocktails is in the making due to global warming, i.e. human-induced climate change)
  4. Likely via an embargoed press release, word about (b) and (c) comes to the BBC, universally (in)famous because of the "importance the organisation places on climate change as part of the news agenda "
  5. Victoria Gill is tasked to write (d). It is not known if Ms. Gill has read any part of the related Science issue, as in her article there is no mention whatsoever of (a)
  6. Far away from the BBC News room, the BBC Climate Change – The Blog of Bloom is free of mind enough to notice the relevance of (a) in the climate discourse. Hence they publish a blog (e) about it

IMNSHO, the worst part of the above saga is when the authors of the invited commentary (c) do not mention the non-AGW report (a) at all.

Now, we can of course pretend that it all happened by chance. Or we can choose the simplest explanation, using Ockham’s razor: the bias towards propping up the AGW theory is just very, very strong at Science magazine. There is simply too much very good evidence in that direction.

Time will tell how much such a bias will literally poison all attempts at a scientific approach to climate change/global warming…unless of course the AAAS has intended all along to change their magazine’s title to Anti Science

=======================================

DETAILS

(a) REPORT #1
The Role of Aerosols in the Evolution of Tropical North Atlantic Ocean Temperature Anomalies

Amato T. Evan, Daniel J. Vimont, Andrew K. Heidinger, James P. Kossin, and Ralf Bennartz
Science 8 May 2009: 778-781.
Published online 26 March 2009 [DOI: 10.1126/science.1167404] (in Science Express Reports)

[…] Our results suggest that the mixed layer’s response to regional variability in aerosols accounts for 69% of the recent upward trend, and 67% of the detrended and 5-year low pass–filtered variance, in northern tropical Atlantic Ocean temperatures.

(b) REPORT #2
Basin-Scale Coherence in Phenology of Shrimps and Phytoplankton in the North Atlantic Ocean

P. Koeller, C. Fuentes-Yaco, T. Platt, S. Sathyendranath, A. Richards, P. Ouellet, D. Orr, U. Skúladóttir, K. Wieland, L. Savard, and M. Aschan
Science 8 May 2009: 791-793.

[…] We conclude that different populations of P. borealis [shrimp] have adapted to local temperatures and bloom timing, matching egg hatching to food availability under average conditions. This strategy is vulnerable to interannual oceanographic variability and long-term climatic changes.

(c) PERSPECTIVES
Ecology – Some Like It Cold

Charles H. Greene, Bruce C. Monger, and Louise P. McGarry (8 May 2009)
Science 324 (5928), 733. [DOI: 10.1126/science.1173951]

The northern shrimp, Pandalus borealis, makes up 70% of the 500,000 tons of cold-water shrimp harvested annually from the world’s oceans. Commonly captured in shelf waters deeper than 100 meters, it supports major fisheries throughout the North Atlantic. On page 791 of this issue, Koeller et al. (1) report that the reproductive cycles of most northern shrimp stocks are finely tuned to match the timing of egg hatching with that of the local spring phytoplankton bloom (see the figure). This remarkable degree of local adaptation on a basin scale is achieved by females regulating the initiation date of their temperature-dependent egg incubation period so that eggs hatch on average within a week of the expected spring bloom. Thus, in typical years, eggs hatch at the time of maximum food availability. The potential downside of this reproductive strategy is its sensitivity to climate-associated changes in the ocean environment.

(d) BBC NEWS SCIENCE & ENVIRONMENT
Shrimp tuned to ocean temperature

By Victoria Gill – Science reporter, BBC News

Stocks of northern shrimp, the essential ingredient in the ubiquitous prawn cocktail, could be badly affected if ocean temperatures rise. Researchers report, in the journal Science, that shrimp eggs hatch within days of each spring phytoplankton bloom – the main food source for the larvae.

(e) BBC CLIMATE CHANGE – THE BLOG OF BLOOM
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust: theory that Atlantic Ocean is warming due to climate change laid to rest

The North Atlantic is hotting up fast but it’s not because of climate change, say scientists in the most recent edition of the journal Science. No, it’s because there’s less dust around to keep the water cool. […]

What's In It For Roger Harrabin?

Roger Harrabin writing on the BBC News website about Carbon Capture technology.

Only thing, he’s definitely NOT writing as a BBC journalist. This sentence in particular is more than your usual BBC reporting:

I believe that [Carbon Capture] will prove feasible, if costly

The above looks like some kind of informed opinion. But usually a BBC journalist like any other journalist would quote the people whose opinion is being reported.

Not in this case. We are hearing what Harrabin himself thinks of a subject.

On what basis are we supposed to put trust on his thoughts? Is Roger Harrabin a recognised expert in the field of carbon capture? Or any other field for that matters?

Perhaps he is. But then we should be told.

Blatantly Misleading Copenhagen Report From The BBC

This complaint has just been sent to the BBC:

I am looking hard for reasons to believe that your “Climate scenarios ‘being realised‘” article has not been written with the intent of misleading the average reader.

There is no indication whatsoever that the “six key messages” from the Copenhagen conference have not been unanimously endorsed by all 2,500 delegates. You could check that with Mike Hulme, no less, who has explicitly stated that

The six key messages are not the collective voice of 2,500 researchers, nor are they the voice of established bodies such as the World Meteorological Organisation. Neither are they the messages arising from a collective endeavour of experts, for example through a considered process of screening, synthesizing and reviewing of the knowledge presented in Copenhagen this week. They are instead a set of messages drafted largely before the conference started by the organizing committee, sifting through research that they see emerging around the world and interpreting it for a political audience

Coming from a supposedly impartial news source such as the BBC, your blatantly misleading report is all the more striking, given the fact that the even the original press release makes the situation very clear with an ALL CAPS disclaimer:

DISCLAIMER: THIS PRESS RELEASE IS WRITTEN BY THE CLIMATE SECRETARIAT AT THE UNIVERSITY OF COPENHAGEN. THE PEOPLE QUOTED DOES [sic] NOT NECESSARILY SHARE THE OPINIONS EXPRESSED BY OTHERS IN THIS TEXT.

Please amend the text of your article accordingly. I do not want to believe that the BBC is trying to be “more warmist than the warmers”. thanks – maurizio

Climate Expertise Inflation By The BBC

Richard Black’s desire to defend the BBC is natural and even commendable. Still, his or any defence of the (unsigned) Feb 15 “Global warming ‘underestimated’” article is untenable.

That article is clearly misleading.

Black tries to make a point about Field’s political weight and the breadth of the IPCC “Impacts” Working Group remit:

As the new co-chair of the IPCC working group on impacts, adaptation and vulnerability, he now has a leadership role in the periodic assessments of global climate change that are the most politically significant documents in the field; so his views on the subject will presumably carry some political weight, and are therefore worth reporting.

As to how well qualified someone who started life as a biologist is to pronounce on climate change; well, if you look at the scope of that IPCC working group, it’s extremely broad, and I suggest it would be impossible to find anyone who has formally studied all of the relevant disciplines.

That situation, though, is hardly unknown in science. Even within universities, a dean of science could hardly be expert in every subject in his or her faculty; yet many intelligent and able people seem to make a decent fist of it, and it’s highly unlikely, I would suggest, that Chris Field would have got the job if his peers didn’t think him qualified.

But that’s not the issue with the Feb 15 article. The problem is that the BBC chose to describe Field as a “leading climate scientist“. And whilst Black is right in stating that Field is a leader, and a scientist, and a biologist with experience in the potential impacts of climate change, by all means Field is no “climate scientist“.

Why couldn’t the BBC write of Field as a “leading biologist in the field of climate change“? As things stand instead, casual readers of that article will have no clue of the fact that Chris Field’s take on future temperatures is not a climatologist’s.

A quick search in past BBC news reports reveals how Brian Austin for example, Dean of Science at Heriot Watt University, was characterised first and foremost as the exact kind of expert he was (microbiologist) (“Sponge puzzles superbug experts“, 26/12/2005).

The BBC faux-pas about Field is perhaps telling of a mindset that conflates all kinds of experts under the all-encompassing umbrella of “climate”, whenever anybody mentions climate change/global warming within the IPCC orthodoxy.

And that mindset can only succeed in cheapening up the very concept of “climatologist”.

The Soft Science Of Climatology

Virtual kisses and hugs to Richard Black of BBC Science News fame for his recent “A questioning climate” blog, the work of somebody whose eyes may have just seen some climate sensibility:

[…] In earlier years of reporting climate change, news media were regularly accused of attributing any unusual or extreme weather events to climate change – and often the accusations were justified. […]

some scientists have on occasion gone beyond the data in arguing that climate change will bring global catastrophe […]

clearly, highly intelligent, highly educated people can look at the same set of scientific evidence and come to radically different conclusions – not, perhaps, on the basic issue of whether climate change is or isn’t happening, but certainly on what the pace is likely to be and what threat it poses. […]

These are all disparate elements of a complex picture. How do you rate them? Which do you regard as more or less important?

We are back to what you believe; and if Chris Field sees catastrophe in the picture before him, he is entitled to say so, just as Vicky Pope or Mike Hulme are entitled to urge restraint. […]

On this issue of climate understanding as a (personal) belief, I would especially like to quote the last part of Black’s blog:

Individual pieces of research rarely prove anything by themselves […] In the meantime, scientists, politicians and Joe and Joanna Bloggs down the pub are all entitled to give their own assessments, and often there is a fair amount of belief involved, even for the scientists.

To me, there’s little wrong with that. It’s what we do with politics and football and music and film, and I don’t see why climate discourse should be different.

There are facts out there, and we should recognise them as such, just as we should with medicine and social issues and economics; but there is freedom to believe too, and that, the last time I looked, was supposed to be a universal human right.

In other words, Black is saying that climatology is a “soft science”, just as the Social sciences, Economics (and may I dare suggest for personal experience, much of Medicine). He may have even claimed that the “climate discourse” is akin to pub-based football analysis, but personally I really do not want to go in that direction!!

Now, before the usual voices are heard, let me state that I do not consider “soft” to be a demeaning word for a “science”. Of course we would all want to have all sciences as precise and cast-in-stone as Mathematics, and Physics is perhaps the clearest example of what comes closest to the “ideal” concept of a “hard science”.

But there is no point in wasting time in the realm of the impossible: there are areas of knowledge that can only be dealt with in a “soft” manner. As argued by Massimo Pigliucci for “Rationally Speaking“, under the headline “Strong Inference And The Distinction Between Soft And Hard Science” (Jan 27, 2009), perhaps it’s just that the more complex the phenomenon, the more “soft” its science.

Still, if one recognizes Climatology as a “soft science”, then there is absolutely no meaning in oft-repeated claims such as “the science is settled” and “all skeptics are crank, corrupt and/or perverts“. A soft science, by definition, cannot be settled. Its conclusions are ultimately a matter of belief.

'Taxing' Farts and Burps

Hey, it’s the BBC, I am just quoting

‘Taxing’ farts and burps
Committed to the Kyoto Protocol, New Zealand promised to cut its emissions to 1990 levels. The country’s biggest source is methane from cattle, and as Stephen Evans discovers, the issue is raising a stink among local farmers.

I am seriously worried about the amount of fun people in the XXIII century are going to make, about us and our asinine (or shall I say, bovine) XXI century implementation of “targets”.

Alpine Melt Reveals…There's Nothing Special About Today's Climate

An interesting piece of news from the BBC that screams out very loud “there is nothing special about today’s climate“.

Yet, it’s all to be read between the lines, as the “greenhouse gases” are taken as the current warming’s culprit as a matter of course (i.e. without thinking).

Basically, alpine archeologists are having a field day (ha! ha!) with retreating glaciers exposing very, very ancient human artifacts. It should go without saying that if humans were up there at a time when gore-tex had not been invented and mountaineering superstores were not around, it must have been considerably warm. Also, everything buried under a glacier must have been there before the glacier trundled by.

So it must have been warm around 3,300BC and 4,500BC. How about the rest of the time? I have found this graph online. Once again, it’s in Italian, but should not be difficult to decypher. It shows how temperatures have changed in the Western Alps during the last 11,000 years (Western Swiss Alps, I understand, as the graph is supposed to be from the University in Berne):

Western Alps temperatures during the last 11,000 years
Western Alps temperatures during the last 11,000 years
Quick analysis:
  • Present temperatures are relatively high compared to the past
  • The 16C threshold has been touched, for the 5th time in 10,000 years
  • It’s the 7th time that temperatures are on the way up, even without considering the increase immediately following the last Ice Age

Furthermore: whoever put that arrow shooting skywards, must be a comedian (or an involuntary comedian). Climatechangeology is a naked science indeed.

The Impossible Impartiality of the BBC

I have devised a simple model explaining why the BBC is biased towards reporting pro-AGW stuff. And it does not involve a government conspiracy.

Simply, the BBC cannot report impartially on climate change or a lot of any other issues for that matters.

They will never, ever open a news bulletin by stating “Polar Ice is perfectly fine” or “There’s peace in Malawi”. The BBC journalists are bound by the way of their profession to go hunting for “bad news”: the only way global warming is going to disappear from their reports is for global cooling to kick off in some spectacular way.

I am still waiting for a news item reporting that the summer 2005 drought in the UK has finished. They (the journalists, and editors) are simply physically unable to say a word about that. And if you want an example that is completely unrelated, just look at how house prices were spoken about when they were going up (”rising property values have priced many potential first-time buyers out of the housing market”) and now that they are going down (”thousands of Britons […] have lost their homes amid spiralling repossessions by mortgage lenders”).

Even if a report mentions whale numbers are on the up, the title is “Mixed fortunes for world’s whales“. Or if a species of bird is found to be thriving under changed climate conditions, there goes in the comment “other species are likely to fare much worse than great tits as temperatures riseother species are likely to fare much worse than great tits as temperatures rise” 

“Normality” is not news and nobody will ever write about “normality”. If it gets on the BBC, it has to be bad.

Troubled BBC

The Harrabin-Abbess story has not died yet (here’s Bishop Hill on “Jo Abbess’s fifteen minutes of fame“; a video of Noel Sheppard on CNN’s Glenn Beck Show; and Melanie Phillips on The Spectator hardly containing her glee on the “emerging truth” of the BBC showing its pro-AGW bias for all to see).

In the meanwhile, Freeborn John demonstrates that another BBC journalist, Richard Black, is not immune from that same reporting bias, in matters of climate change (Mr Black knows very well my thoughts on the BBC warming bias); in the process, Freeborn John exposes a curious stealth-editing BBC policy.

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Folks at “the Beeb” better play it safe on global warming for a few weeks now…because if something else just as fishy pops up, then I can already imagine huge anti-BBC blogging and journalistic armies will be unleashed.

Skeptics Society: How Broadcast Journalism Is Flawed

I have already exposed in the recent past the obvious bias in global warming reporting by publicly-funded BBC.

Around very similar notes, but with a much much wider outlook, the Skeptics Society has now published a very interesting essay by investigative and feature journalist Steve Salerno, titled

Journalist-Bites-Reality!
How broadcast journalism is flawed
in such a fundamental way that its utility as a tool for informing viewers is almost nil.
.

It exposes broadcast journalism as reporter-of-nothing, when not creating panic out of that same nothingness. And it is especially critical of “campaign journalism”.

A couple of quotes:

In truth, today’s system of news delivery is an enterprise whose procedures, protocols, and underlying assumptions all but guarantee that it cannot succeed at its self described mission. Broadcast journalism in particular is flawed in such a fundamental way that its utility as a tool for illuminating life, let alone interpreting it, is almost nil.

You’re in Pulitzer territory for writing about something that — essentially — never happens.

In upcoming blogs I will return to parts of this essay that may be used to explain pretty much all the Climate Change scares that have ever (not) happened.

For now I strongly recommend reading it in full.

China and the BBC Warming Bias

Shameless self-promotion of my “China and the BBC Warming Bias” blog over at the “Omniclimate – The Unbearable Nakedness of CLIMATE CHANGE” site, in which I compare the BBC attitude towards reporting heatwaves vs snowstorms.

Very shortly:

July 2002: Chinese heatwave is caused by “the increase in vehicles on the roads, which raise street temperatures

One year ago: Warm, dry weather in north China “linked to climate change“ (page is chock-full of climate change links)

Today: “China is struggling to cope with its worst snowfall in decades” (not one climate change link in sight)

They didn’t even care to mention that severe snowstorms have affected the very areas that were experiencing “climate-change-related” drought last year…

For more thoughts on the AGW bias at the BBC:

http://omnograms.wordpress.com/2007/09/07/bbc-the-editors-no-line/

http://omnologos.wordpress.com/2007/11/14/why-is-the-bbc-biased-against-climate-change-sceptics/

http://omnograms.wordpress.com/2008/01/31/letter-to-the-bbc-climate-news-bias-china-vs-argentina/

China and the BBC Warming Bias

(here and here and here some more thoughts on the all-too-apparent bias at the BBC towards global warming and doom-and-gloom news in general)

There is almost no need to comment the following at all…

(1) Almost six years ago
BBC News – Wednesday, 17 July, 2002, 07:53 GMT 08:53 UK
Seven die in Chinese heat wave

[…] The heat has intensified in recent years as a result of the increase in vehicles on the roads, which raise street temperatures.

(2) One year ago
BBC News – Tuesday, 6 February 2007, 12:34 GMT
Climate change ‘affecting’ China – Unseasonably warm weather in north China has been linked to climate change
(page is chock-full of climate change links)

At least 300,000 people in north-west China are short of drinking water because of unseasonably warm weather, which officials link to climate change. Parts of Shaanxi province face drought after January saw as little as 10% of average rainfall, state media say. Frozen lakes are melting and trees are blossoming in the capital Beijing as it experiences its warmest winter for 30 years, the China Daily reported.
[…] The country’s top meteorologist, Qin Dahe, said the recent dry and warm weather in northern China was related to global warming. […]

(3) January 2008
BBC News – Thursday, 31 January 2008, 13:53 GMT
Food warnings amid China freeze – Millions of people have been affected by the severe snow
(not one climate change link in sight)

China is struggling to cope with its worst snowfall in decades, with officials warning of future food shortages as winter crops are wrecked.[…]
Dozens are thought to have died as much of the country endures one of its harshest winters for half a century.

How many people died in the 2007 heatwave? Perhaps…zero.

(4) How about Shaanxi? Sadly, no space for it this year on the BBC (at least, so far). Here’s what is happening though:
rediff – January 30, 2008
Snowstorms paralyse China

[…] In northwestern Shaanxi province alone, 1,200 people were reportedly ill or injured in snow-related incidents […]

UPDATE: This particular post has become quite popular having been linked from “Biased BBC”