Monday, October 15, 2007

Climate Cuttings #12

I know, I know, yet more greenery: still, never mind, here is yet another round up of Bishop Hill's favourite lies from the climate lobby. Here are a few samples, but do read the whole thing.

First up is the testing of proxies. Proxies are the mechanisms that we use to measure past temperatures: we do not actually have accurate temperature measurements from earlier than about 1876 and so reconstructions need to be made from organisms, etc. that have survived for this time. One of the most popular of these proxies is the measurement of tree rings.
Hot off the press is the news that Steve McIntyre has been doing some fieldwork. Reconstructions of past temperatures are done using tree ring measurements, and sceptical voices have regularly pointed out that the databases of tree ring measurements haven't been brought up to date since the 1980s - something which would allow verification of the validity of the reconstructions. Arch-warmer Michael Mann has gone on record as saying that it's too expensive, something which seems just a little unlikely in view of the money poured into climate research in recent years. Now McIntyre has revealed that he has done the work to update one set of measurements from Colorado. The first set of rings show no increase in growth and while this is a very early result, it's not looking good for the warmers.

McIntyre, who was partially responsible for the annihilation of the so-called Mann et al. "hockey-stick graph", has been coming under sustained fire from AGW loons for a while.
Martin Juckes, whose paper attacking McIntyre I discussed in the last edition of Climate Cuttings, entered the fray in the comments of a follow up CA posting which was discussing the amusing way in which Juckes had managed to eliminate a set of records with a falling temperature trend from his analysis. He managed to avoid answering any questions at all. Someone noted that one of Juckes' co-authors had removed his name from the paper between the discussion and final drafts, presumably not wanting to be associated with this kind of work.

One of the problems that we have been seeing, as more and more people have been digging, is that even modern temperature appears to be incredibly suspect. There have been some very dodgy "statistical corrections", not least by NASA's James Hansen, and problems with measuring stations. Our second item is another in this series.
In the face of a freedom of information request, the secretive Hadley Centre have been forced to reveal the list of weather stations they use in their climate reconstruction. Among the interesting features noted are that they have eliminated every rural station in France from the record, that the number of stations in the list doesn't tally with the number reported in their published work, duplicate station numbers and so on. A shambles in other words.

By their actions shall ye know them, and our favourite Albert Gore is always a choice one to watch.
One of Gore's most blatant exagerrations was his claim that sea levels are going to rise by 20ft. People are asking why, if that's so, he's currently buying real estate at the seaside.

Needless to say, any round-up of the Green lunacy would not be complete without some dodgy reporting from the BBC.
The BBC was strangely silent on a number of news items. The melting of the Arctic sea ice, which they were so excited about the other day, turns out to be due to wind conditions. And according to the satellites, this September was one of the coolest on record.

No surprise there. However, Bishop Hill also picks up on the internal BBC memo that I reported and he has been looking into the memo's author: a BBC Environment Reporter named Roger Harrabin.
As happens, I was looking into Harrabin myself when I read DK's story. According to his BBC website profile he is co-director or something called the Cambridge Environment and Media Programme, which is part-funded by the BBC (the rest of the funding being from private sources - I wonder who?). Apparently this organisation, which doesn't seem to have a website, tries to find ways to engage the media in debates on sustainable development.

Now is it just me, or does it seem a bit odd that the BBC is using public money to persuade itself to engage in debate on environmental issues? Couldn't it just, you know, engage?

Doesn't it seem stranger still that the loot is being sent to an organisation run by one of its own employees? This seems to reverse the normal employer/employee relationship. Shouldn't the higher-ups at the BBC be telling Harrabin what to do?

And isn't it yet more bizarre that it is trying to promote inclusion of particular issues in the news agenda - an overtly political act if ever there was one? The BBC, remember, has no line on climate change (and presumably the whole question of environmentalism too). Is the BBC actually funding a campaign to promote environmentalism on the airwaves?

I don't know about you, but I smell fish.

Not that we are in any way suggesting that the Beeb is institutionally corrupt, or anything. It is probably because they do not know any better. After all, they seem to be a little short on reporters with any kind of scientific qualification whatsoever.
Incidentally to my research on the previous posting, I came upon the surprising fact that Roger Harrabin is a graduate in English.

I don't know about you, but I find it pretty gobsmacking that someone who is paid to interpret complex scientific papers and reports on our behalf doesn't actually have a flaming clue what any of it means. In fact take that back, he presumably doesn't read any of the papers at all because he is incapable of understanding them. He regurgitates press releases for a living.

He's semi-educated.

It does rather explain the quality of some of his reporting though.

And what about the rest of the BBC's environment team?
  • Margaret Gilmore was an environment correspondent until 2005. She studied English.

  • Tom Fielden, science and environment correspondent - not sure what subject he studied, but it wasn't scientific.

  • Richard Bilton, previously environment reporter - studied Communication.

  • Matt McGrath and Julian Pettifer - I can find no record of them ever having been to university, although presumably they must have been.

So here's the challenge: can anyone find a BBC environment reporter with a scientific background?

Or perhaps someone at the BBC would like to contact either the good Bishop or myself to tell us what scientific qualifications their environment reporters have?

Come on, we're waiting...

3 comments:

Dr De'Ath said...

very good point,

the complete lack of expertise of some (if not all) journalists is beyond a joke

how on earth can they be expected to analyse complicated scientific research without a degree in science?

they probably don't even grasp basic maths/statistics etc

it's embarassing

the bbc and a lot of journos are just plain shit, the amount of recycled press releases they report as news is ridiculous, they have no ability to weed out the truth from the lies, useless

Anonymous said...

DK, is there any way of finding out who actually sits on the IPPC? I mean a list of the thousands of members and their qualifications or positions in terms of political power. I've perused my favourite search engine to no avail. It's essential to find out who exactly these non-man-made global warming deniers are. I also see that the character assasination has started with a piece in the Sundays exposing who really funded Mr. Dimmock's campaign to stop Gores powerpoint show being shown in schools up and down the U.K.

Devil's Kitchen said...

Anon,

I don't know who sits on the IPCC, but I shall see if I can find a way. There must be some information somewhere.

DK