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back to article 'There's too much climate change denial on the BBC'

"He's a little bit too eager to bend over backwards to be politically respectable," is how Richard Dawkins describes the celebrated snail biologist and broadcaster Dr Steven Jones. Jones' recent political activity includes campaigning for the abolition of private schools and against a visit to Britain by the Pope. Now Jones has …

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Computer models....

""There have been many computer models of what may happen in future," Jones says, adding, "almost every climatologist predicts a period of rising temperature"."

This is my biggest problem with this. How many of these computer models have actually tallied well with what is actually happening?

Coming from a Scientific background, the way this works seems simple. How create a hypothesis. You then use that hypothesis to work out how things should behave (like in a computer model). You test experimentally that what was predicted due to your hypothesis tally's with what you see experimentally. I.e you should see happening in the real word what was predicted in the computer models. You test to make sure there are no other variables you have not taken into account that also affect things, but that's it.

So climate change proof should be easy, you should be able to roll out the results predicted by the computer models and they should match with what we have actually been seeing over the past few years. But as far as I'm aware the models are not matching up apart from in the basic prediction that temperatures will go up. I would expect at least the rate of increase to match up, which seems to be not happening at the moment.

Now I know modelling the whole world's climate is not easy. But one prediction was that the rate of increase in temperature was supposed to be increasing, which has not matched reality.

Now I sit on no side in this. You put a model in front of me that is being accurate in it predictions, I am with you. But that does not seem to be the case yet.... And yes I am completely there with the idea the climate is changing, just the why is not 100% for me yet.

Again please correct me where my statements are incorrect, but I though this was a pretty simple concept in science that hypothesis has to match reality. And to debate this should result in you being called a denier. People challenging E=MC^2 is perfectly fine in science. There is only one field I can think of where you are not allowed to challenge dogma......

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Anonymous Coward

Don't tell what a computer model predict's....

without telling me what it has successfully predicted in the past....

How do these models get such media play when their prediction record, as far as we know, is as good as my magic eight ball's.

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Nail on the head

That is how it works. Now go and talk to some climatologists about data and models and get the view from real scientists working with real data about what is happening. If you understand the scientific method and you can follow the maths then you'll get a lot more out of that than reading endless articles of loose interpretation from either side.

The simple fact is that the evidence points in one direction. The real scientific evidence, not the cherry-picked lobbyist pseudo-data. In highly complex disciplines like this, you rarely hit datapoint for datapoint, but trends are predictable and the underlying physics is fairly simple. The people with the truth are rarely the people making the most noise.

The simple fact is that although most of us who work in a specialised field are aware of the complexities of our own area of specialisation, apparently any mook with a pipe and an armchair knows more about climate science than any of the people who have been studying it full time over decades.

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Anonymous Coward

You really could have simplified your comment....

"There have been many computer models of what may happen in future,"

Have any been right?

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Two corrections, must proof read better, (really need an edit function here)

"Coming from a Scientific background, the way this works seems simple. YOU create a hypothesis. You then use that hypothesis to work out how things should behave (like in a computer model)."

"Again please correct me where my statements are incorrect, but I though this was a pretty simple concept in science that hypothesis has to match reality. And to debate this should NOT result in you being called a denier. People challenging E=MC^2 is perfectly fine in science."

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@ AC 13:34

"without telling me what it has successfully predicted in the past...."

Genuinely stupid comment. Using computers to model and analyse data in the fields of medicine, social science and the environment have saved millions and millions of lives. Computer processing and mathematical models helped put a man on the moon.

You are a fool, and your sweepingly ignorant statement has actually made me angry. Why are people so anti-scientific method these days? How and why has it become so fashionable to be stupid and small-minded? I despair

Modelling is a technique done by humans, and use computers as a tool for this. And humanity has a strong track of successful outcomes using the technique when bolstered with computing power. Fools like you just expect too much

The problem with these particular environmental models is more to do with the complexity of the situation they are required to model, and the subsequent over-extrapolation of the results.

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I think he meant...

varying the time input in the negative direction... not "what have the Romans ever done for us?"

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Holmes

Now I know modelling the whole world's climate is not easy

quite right it's not easy, it's impossible.

absolutely impossible. By definition.

And the uncertainty in the models, which will always be there, is what the deniers have latched onto. they offer no models of their own to back up their therories, simply exploit the ignorance of the public re; science in general and mathematics in particular in debunking the CC work that is happening. (I.E if the models are good then they should work perfectly - they dont, never will... thats what chaos _means_)

As an earlier poster stated " the hockey stick model has been successfully proved wrong"

fact is that this has happened on at least 5 occasions, sadly on each occasion the methodology employed by the deniers wes demonstrated to be fundamentally flawed (most spectacularly when it turned out NASA didnt really know where it's satelites were!).

As you point out the Why is not at all proven, and i guess we need to wait until a couple of 100 years after the last barrel of oil has been burned to find out the truth on that, except of course it won't be us, it'll be the cockroaches - the only things capable of surviving big oils hubris, or the coming entirly natural eco-pocalipse.

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Joke

challenging E=MC^2 is perfectly fine in science

so long as you dont mind having albert hand your ass to you to use as a hat!

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Models are forever being improved

"Now I know modelling the whole world's climate is not easy. But one prediction was that the rate of increase in temperature was supposed to be increasing, which has not matched reality."

Then the scientists adjusted the model to account for China's increase in Coal Power Stations over the past few decades, and saw that the rise was offset by the dirty output of sulphates which reflect solar energy back into space (they also causes acid rain before you jump on it as the solution to climate change). They thus predict that when China cleans up its power stations, there will be a temperature bump.

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-14002264

I've been saying that people need to put their opinions on paper, and then pay up if they're wrong. So deniers can pay the trillions that last minute global warming prevention / coping with the outcomes will cause.

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Anonymous Coward

@5.antiago & Naughtyhorse

@5.antiago

Don't know how you have extrapolated from my comments about the computer models being used in climate science, mean that I hate all computer models and don't believe they are any value. Clam down....

My comments were purely about that we get reports everyday about this computer model says that we will have no ice in the Arctic, in x short number of years or any other sensational conclusion. My point was that you should not believe the scary results from a computer model until it successfully predicts something that actually happens. I would imagine that a model would have to have a few years of having it's results occur in the real world before you believe what it is telling you about the distant future. And having said conclusions reported by the media. I could make a model that said any of a number of things, but if it is not successful in it's predictions what value does it have?

I have no problems with computer modelling as I have one ruining looking for cancer curing molecules for my screen saver. But computer models are only as good as the people using them and the methodology they are programmed with.

@Naughtyhorse

I don't expect a computer model to give me microscopic predictions about the whole climate, like the temperature at my house 10 years from now. But if a predictions is made as I have seen reported that the rate of temperature rise is predicted to increase, and it doesn't, you should be be beaten up for questioning that model. That is what a good scientist should do.

Now it may well be that the models being produced now are pretty damn accurate, but you would need a few years or even decades to test that accuracy.

Does that mean that we stop all work on making the world more energy efficient and getting off oil, no. Oil is about to run out, that even more certain than man made climate change.

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Anonymous Coward

Not how it works

The test of a computer model is whether it can predict what actually happened in the past, given information about what things were like earlier in the past.

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Mushroom

challenging E=MC^2 is perfectly fine in science

providing you can ACTUALLY challenge it, not just want to vaguely wish it away. If you have ever tried to argue with a creationist, you will know exactly what I mean. Demanding equal time for science and non-science is a point of view, but it sure as hell isn't a debate WITHIN science!

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@AC 21:48

Making 'predictions' about the past is trivially easy. There are an infinite number of models that can match the (extremely sketchy) historic data. The difficult part, as Niels Bohr famously observed, is making predictions about the future.

Since Karl Popper's work, we have understood the definition of what constitutes science to be based on *falsifiability*. Science works by making predictions (about the future) and then trying to *disprove* them. We can never know with absolute certainty that any of our theories are 'true', but we can be sure that many obsolete theories have been demonstrated to be false.

The problem with climate modellers is that they make predictions and then, when the real world fails to match up, simply tweak one of the numerous parameters in their favoured model (e.g. not allowing sufficiently for pollution from Chinese coal burning, to take a recent example). There is (as far as I can tell) absolutely nothing that can occur in the real world that would cause them to reject their model(s). Climate modelling is therefore not a science, it is a religion.

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At AC 21:41

Aye, ok, maybe I was too quick to associate your comment with the "science knows nothing" simpleton brigade, so sorry for that. I still think your expectations for these models are a bit off though, but I'll try to justify this without calling you a fool this time:

You seem to suggest that an environmental model must be completely confirmed as utterly accurate before we act on it, and that there's no way to confirm this accuracy until decades later. The latter is technically true of course, but in the meantime perhaps the arctic ice has melted just like most of the models had always suggested, and the population then accuses the past governments of rampant & obvious stupidity because "now look where we are!" etc.

The reality is that models get updated and reviewed into more sophisticated (i.e. less wrong) models as part of an ongoing process. Just like when they're modelling probable environmental stresses on a building prior to actually constructing it, they don't wait another 50 years until a real earthquake knocks down some kind of test building they put up to confirm the model. At some point you have to just say "OK, go" on the grounds that the model is correct to within a statistically significant degree

"I would imagine that a model would have to have a few years of having it's results occur in the real world before you believe what it is telling you about the distant future" I broadly agree with this, which is what I meant when I said that a problem is with over-extrapolation of the results. (Continuing the earthquake/engineering modelling example, there are many many years of data on structures that survived or fell that drive the current "mature" models) So I'm as concerned as the next person every time I hear "ahhhhh, but it turned out we didn't include THIS!", and I wonder how much the political/media/corporate pressures are driving these predictions of doom. I think the answer is more research and less grandiose predictions.

My underlying point here is that we should be careful to separate criticism of environmental modelling with criticism of what people are saying it all means and how we should subsequently behave. People are very quick to blur it all together and they end up distrusting everything.

We'll never get anywhere if people are conditioned to automatically call "bullshit!" every time they see some scientific research.

PS, I think you had a typo and you meant to say: "[If a prediction doesn't come true] you SHOULDN'T be beaten up for questioning that model" <- I agree with you here too. That's science, right?

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Anonymous Coward

No.

If your model can't account for the data, ie: predict what actually happened in the past, then it cannot possibly be an accurate model. If it *can* predict what actually happened, it *may* be an accurate model and *may* have a better than chance ability to predict the future.

In that case, the hypotheses that it embodies have not been falsified, but that still does not entitle us to say we *know* they are true.

(I take it we can assume that the past used to be the future?)

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"Again please correct me where my statements are incorrect"

Ah, well I believe you are in error where you assume that the scientific community is going to come to your house and sit you down and discuss their findings with you, so that you never have to go searching for the evidence yourself. However, I have ten minutes to spare, so I will attempt to lead you to water. Ten seconds of Googling and we find http://www.logicalscience.com/skeptic_arguments/models-dont-work.html

First, check out the remarkable success of the now ancient and primitive original Hansen model from 23 years ago (Hansen's 2006 Graph Confirming 1988 Predictions)

as well as

" The following is a list of successful predictions made by the models:

Models predict that surface warming should be accompanied by cooling of the stratosphere, and this has indeed been observed;

Models have long predicted warming of the lower, mid, and upper troposphere. For a while satellite readings seemed to disagree but it turns out the satellite analysis was full of errors due to changing orbit (gravity pulling on satellite), sensor issues, etc and on correction, this warming has been observed;

Mears et al, Santer et al and Sherwood et al show that the discrepancy has been mostly resolved, in favor of the models.

Models predict warming of ocean surface waters, as is now observed.

Models have successfully reconstructed ocean heat content.

Models predict an energy imbalance between incoming sunlight and outgoing infrared radiation, which has been detected;

Models predict sharp and short-lived cooling of a few tenths of a degree in the event of large volcanic eruptions, and Mount Pinatubo confirmed this;

Models predict an amplification of warming trends in the Arctic region, and this is indeed happening;

Models predict continuing and accelerating warming of the surface, and as you can see from figures 2 & 3, they have had a very good track record."

Of course, if you refuse to do your homework and follow up on these assertions, you can still sit there and complain that the scientific community hasn't proved it to you. That's not what they're paid to do, though.

Meanwhile, exactly what prediction/model has ever come from the What Me Warming? crowd that has ever come in any way close to being validated? And on a related note, anyone who's still thinking the infamous "lack of warming since 1998" predicts the end of the warming trend, can easily estimate the validity of that prediction, by simply counting the similar downward trends of temps over a few years over the background of unambiguously increasing temperatures over the past century, or 30 years, or whatever period you'd like to pick.

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" as far as we know,"

What do you mean "we", o benighted one? Include me out of your society of deliberate know nothings.

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Is he joking, or what?

bbc.co.uk must be the second most Warmist-oriented site on the planet, after Al Gore's personal site. Even articles on totally unrelated subjects manage to sneakily infer a relevance to alleged climate change models.

It's almost like one of those bible-belt schoolbooks in which physics, French or chemistry are laced-through with religious quotes, and which carefully avoid any daring statements such as 'The earth is actually quite a few billion years old, not five thousand' -which might result in the author being taken, somewhat forcibly, to the nearest firewood-equipped stake.

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Re: Is he joking, or what?

No, the BBC is in third place! The most "warmist-orientated site on the planet" is the Independent's web-site where they routinely delete comments that question AGW from relavent stories and if the whole trend of commentary is going against what they want (as once happened when Johann Harri wrote a piece that was so flawed even pro-AGW posters were criticising it), then they delete the whole thread of conversation and lock it so it can't reappear, pretending it never happened.

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Boffin

As if science should be based on consensus?

Science makes progress whenever there is a lack of consensus. When everybody agrees, and we therefore think we are right (for a given value of right), and there is little incentive to refine our knowledge.

By contrast, whenever we disagree we work hard to prove the other guy/girl wrong. In the best cases, we do that indirectly, by trying to prove ourselves wrong. If we fail to prove our theory wrong, it may be right.

As an example, astronomy progressed a great deal simply from being annoyed by Fred Hoyle, who proposed preposterous (they thought) theories which were consistent both internally, and with observations (at the time), and very hard to prove wrong. They often were proved wrong, but the proof taught us a great deal.

If all scientists vote on an issue, say global warming, the outcome has no effect on the truth of the matter. Suggesting global warning has been proven beyond all doubt is not very scientific.

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Mushroom

I had a laugh the other week

I went to a closed forum where the UEA was having a days long discussion with select members of the public about eco factors and climate change.

They were asking folks about the environment etc.and all looking quite smug. It was all warm and cosy..until I stepped up.

The question was where do you get your information on the environment from and how it shapes your opinion. Most folks it seems get theirs from the backs of fag packets. I said I was skeptical. Why? they asked.

I replied "ohhh I dunno maybe the whole UEA sexed up climate change documents scandal from 18 months ago? You know the one, if the data doesnt fit your opinion make it fit!"

Christ you could have heard a pin drop. It felt so good.

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Black Helicopters

Seems odd

I assume the people asking questions were from UEA itself and not CRU, or they should have quickly batted back that, ignoring the media frenzy, three different investigations (that I know of) concluded that the only thing the scientists were guilty of was being really disorganised and not sharing their research clearly.

True, it was a PR nightmare for UEA and AGW-proponents, but it was pretty telling that the media barely covered the fact that they hadn't been fiddling the data.

I only have a link for one of the investigations: http://www.cce-review.org/pdf/FINAL%20REPORT.pdf

Feel free to look up the rest. Pages 47 and 48 are the most interesting as they cover the "fiddled" data (and how it wasn't, at least not in the way the media reported it).

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WTF?

Re: I had a laugh the other week

I replied "ohhh I dunno maybe the whole UEA sexed up climate change documents scandal from 18 months ago? You know the one, if the data doesnt fit your opinion make it fit!"

Of course the inquiry found that the actual science performed was without fault.

The whole situation told us what we already knew - scientists are humans too and get angry and frustrated when people are boneheaded ignorant.

I'll believe the scientists working for small academic wages over the minority who seem to be getting paid a lot by big oil.

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Not it didn't...

"Of course the inquiry found that the actual science performed was without fault."

The inquiries didn't look at the science. If you can call piddling around with models 'science'.

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@I had a laugh the other week

Smug? You accuse "Them" of being smug?

So what actual scientific data did you present to gatecrash their little party and make them cry? Other than a silly, and rather suspect, ad hominem attack?

I suspect their silence was more akin to the silence that would ensue if at a royal garden party someone dropped their pants and shit on the floor. Its more likely embarrassment. But then again, I wasn't there so who knows? May it really was the blinding light of truth revealed that stunned them into shock.

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Downvotes

I've clearly missed something if having the gall to back up statements with official reports is worthy of downvoting.

I didn't take a stance on AGW, so I can only assume it was either my slightly anti-media tone (but not unfair, I think) or that people take offense to reading PDFs...

Maybe I should have worded the "three different investigations" bit differently; having read a little more since yesterday it would now be more accurate to say: "every investigation (I've found six)"

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Re: "seems odd"

"three different investigations (that I know of) concluded that the only thing the scientists were guilty of was being really disorganised and not sharing their research clearly"

I guess those three include the CCE Review report to which you refer later. Frankly, anyone who reads section 4.2 8 of that report is likely to form the conclusion that this was a whitewash determined in advance (erroneously, I think, as 6.6 32 is very damaging to the reputation of the scientists concerned - but it does seem clear that this describes an attempt to adjust the data to better fit the model - it's also true that it was a pretty unsuccessful attempt - so perhaps it was only an attempt and not real data fiddling, and i seems odd that the review didn't have a finding that that was bad practise despite its ineffectiveness; we have to ask perhaps if it was one of a serious of such attempts, which Jones' email does seem to suggest).

The immediately ensuing paragraphs indicate very clearly that the CRU people weren't "disorganised and not sharing their research clearly" as you claim but, rather, well-organised and determined to ensure that their research was not shared. Put this together with the statement that the review body didn't have the resources to analyse all the data (other emails etcetera) and the quoted emails that indicated that large amounts of other email had been miraculously deleted just before FOI requests arrived and it makes one very suspicious of anything that came out of CRU.

And of course the most interesting piece of the report is one you clearly didn't read: section 6.4 24 on page 49 - clearly the review did not establish the correctness of the CRU's conclusions or even attempt to analyse the alleged deficiencies in their methods (the latter was, I think, the cause of the select committee's very negative reaction to this report)

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Headmaster

@JeeBee

"Of course the inquiry found that the actual science performed was without fault."

It found nothing of the sort. The report of the enquiry states:

24. It should be noted that in making these findings, the Review Team is making no

statement regarding the correctness of any of these analyses in representing global

temperature trends. We do not address any alleged deficiencies such as allowance

for non climatic effects or the significant drop in station number post 1991. We do

not address any possible deficiencies of the method. These are entirely matters for

proper scientific study and debate and lie outside the scope of this Review.

In other words, the review didn't address the question of whether the science was without fault: it addressed only the questions of whether there was any provable deliberate falsification of results (and, if you read the report, you will see that it found none - because althought it looks as if there was an attempt at fiddling by cherry picking data it was, if it did happen, an unsuccessful attempt) and whether proper disclosure of the data used was made to scientists who requested it - the enquiry concluded that it wasn't and made a formal finding to that effect:

32. Finding: The Review finds that as a matter of good scientific practice (and having

established the precedent with CRUTEM1986) CRU should have made available

an unambiguous list of the stations used in each of the versions of CRUTEM at

the time of publication. In the absence of this, CRU was unhelpful and defensive

and should have responded throughout to requests for this information in a more

timely way.

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But what about all the non science programmes and those not supposed to be about Carbon warming?

They may give voice to a couple of "deniers" but it's hard to notice when every single program which mentions anything vaguely weather or environment related bleats on about "because of global warming" or "because of all the carbon". Any time an animal is mentioned that may be near extinction it's because of "<actual reason> and Climate Change". When they're talking about architecture you'll hear talk of Carbon Footprint all the time. Let's face it, some of us may be skeptical about the causes and extent of global warming -- but from the BBCs programmes you'd never guess.

@Jess:

I've been saying for a long time that we need to prepare for warming whilst being as environmentally and energy aware as possible. I'm convinced that the way things are being dealt with we're screwed if the warming is caused by Carbon -- because we will not stop releasing it as a species and nobody gives a thought to coping with the consequences.

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Top

Gear

STFU

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Unhappy

Carbon Footprint

is a consideration in architecture because it reflects energy efficiency and has PR significance whether or not human produced CO2 is a major influence on the climate. If the BBC reports on how architects describe their own work, that is not expressing an opinion about climate change.

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Don't know why I'm bothering, but...

Top Gear is an entertainment programme fronted by men who are deliberately "controversial", it hardly provides and alternative to every other programme mentioning Ciarcon every time there's the slighttest suggestion it may, possibly, at a pinch, be relevant. If anything Top Gear gives "deniars" a bad name.

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Boffin

Great idea,....

abolish the BBC and leave us with 100's of channels of endless repeats of mindless vampire "dramas" and similar shite. I'm sorry you don't like the BBC a great many of us do. We hate having to sit through endless adverts, we hate the "lowest common denominator" targeting that most TV shows are now made for, and we hate being told what to think, or in many cases not to think. If you don't like it, don't watch it. If you don't want to pay for it, move abroad! I've lived all over the world and there is NOWHERE that has TV as good as the UK and its because of the BBC.

As for climate change, its been changing for billions of years and will keep on changing for billions of years. It doesn't care if homo-sapiens wipes itself out or if an asteroid/super-volcano/aliens/disease wipes us out,..... or not. The climate will change. Undoubtedly some of the recent change is man made, some may be due to the likely Maunder minimum we will shortly be dealing with, some may be due to spontaneous methane releases from methane hydrate deposits in the oceans. These all or nothing merchants are only trying to drum up more funding for their research. Otherwise they'd shut up and just do the research.

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Meh

BBC is so great

2nd para is great. First para... not so much.

US TV: The Soprano's, The Wire, Mad Men, The Walking Dead, I'll Fly Away, LA Law, ER, Scrubs, Cheers, Friends, Frazier, Curb, BSG, SouthPark, The Simpsons..... the list goes on

BBC: Strictly Come Dancing, countless cheapo makeover and cookery programs. Endless 'comedy' shows with smug lefties Russell Howard, Bridstocke & Stephen Fry. Oh not to mention hours of pointless waffle from leftwingdbags like Simon Schama

Yay - BBC wins hands down. It's so great!

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Coffee/keyboard

If you like it so much you'll pay for it on subscription or pay-per-view, won't you?

Er, wait, no, the BBC sabotaged the digital broadcasting standards in this country to rip out the facility to do pay-per-view... I wonder why they did that? Surely not because it would undermine the case for the telly tax...

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Another attack on the BBC?

Yeah I get it, you don't like the Beeb. I really do... now can you talk about science please.

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Boffin

Isn't the real problem with science reporting...

... that they send clueless journalists (mostly I imagine with non-scientific/non-technical backgrounds) with no idea of the basics of science to ask the questions?

If you parse through the science, technology etc reporting in most (if not all) of the mainstream media, there's an awful lot of lazy incompetent reporting - mostly based on press-releases with no mention that it's the case (and sometimes even reporting the content incorrectly because they don't understand what the words on it mean in context).

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I live in the Netherlands

but still watch Beeb more than most other channels

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FAIL

Global Warming is the wrong poster child for the environment

Global warming is too devisive. You show me a chart showing an increase I bet I can find a chart showing the opposite from just as reliable a source.

The Eco crowd should drop it and go back to basics. Why not go under the banner of "Pollution"?

Folks can get to grips with that as a concept. We can see polluted rivers. We can see mounds of rubbish and smoke. We can all agree its not good. If we then set about dealing with and cleaning up "Pollution" then chances are we will also indirectly/directly also deal with the factors that may or may not be causing global warming.

Global warming is just an uphill struggle. Deal with stuff folks can actually see.

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Anonymous Coward

RE:Global Warming is the wrong poster child for the environment

it is a dangerous poster child for the environment, but there is too much money to be made in it. Politicians can tax us all to the hilt in the name of "saving the planet" and have it not be a vote loser, whole markets of "carbon trading" have sprung up to make money off it.

Clearing up pollution? No money to be made there, its all a cost.

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Absolutely

I've always been ambivilent towards the whole AGW argument, but I can see the attraction of "going green" in other ways.

1) Energy-efficient lightbulbs and other devices save me money on my electricity bill.

2) Better insulation does the same for my heating bills.

3) Less petrol/diesel cars around will mean less pollution on my way to work (although perhaps only if we have similarly "green" power stations).

4) Recycling lets my council sell some of my household waste, supposedly subsidising it a little (not sure if I *quite* believe the council's leaflets with this, but whatever).

Saying not doing this sort of thing will cause the sky to fall on my head isn't as good a motivation, IMHO. They need to find a better banner to rally behind.

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Anonymous Coward

@Absolutely

I agree, "going green" is a good thing, reducing our need for non-renewable fuels etc - but its the rod of "CLIMATE CHANGE" that gets up peoples noses.

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Holmes

Hence the phrase

"carbon pollution"

it really is a field of often surprisingly self-serving language

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But, of course, the BBC spin it the way they want

I had to laugh when this collection of related articles popped up in my Google News feed this morning. Spot why the BBC News headline is the odd one out:

http://img835.imageshack.us/img835/4244/impartialityfail.png

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Anonymous Coward

Lazy 'journalists'

"Jones found that 75 per cent of the BBC's science stories were based on a single press release, and seven out of eight of those only feature the source – there is no additional view to the story."

In other words, even the BBC, with their corporate procedures and management, and the unique way it's funded, are just as lazy as any other mainstream news outlet.

They just shuffle the words of press releases and offer them as 'articles' by writers too busy feeling cool and sexy as they play with their iProducts and keep up with each other every time a new one comes out.

Just look at how BBC news recently repeated the same inaccurate information about Doctor Who - A BBC show! None of them even bothered to dial the switchboard extension for the Doctor Who office and ask them first-hand.

I'm not a BBC basher, but if The Sun want to be lazy, it's their money and they're welcome to do as they please. But TV viewers are paying for the BBC, and as much as we all expect something extra when it comes to BBC drama (and don't the BBC love to tell us at every opportunity how great there are at that), we should also expect the same when it comes to news.

I remember them being criticised for being very late reporting some breaking news stories, including 7/7. The excuse was that they wanted to confirm the stories before broadcasting them, in order to avoid the common mistakes Sky make in rushing 'facts' out too quickly. But then for the rest of the time when there isn't a 7/7 going on, they just rehash press releases.

And to be fair, The Register does it's fair share of that. How many new major releases of software come out (even free software like browsers) and the report on here is just a rehash of the official press release, complete with official statistics for how much better/faster it is? Would it really be too much effort to download the new browser, try it out for a bit (I'm sure the techies working at The Register can find their way around a new browser and its features quite quickly) and then write your articles, reporting how much faster and memory hungry you found it to be?

Blogs are often private messageboards, where the only poster is trying to write like a journalist, whilst the journalists on real news sites are all too often writing glorified blog entries. Thankfully, that doesn't include Andrew Orlowski on here, though many are — as they are at Another Place™ (unless they're just plagiarising El Reg).

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Consensus or Dogma?

There is real evidence that the average temperature is going up. There is a majority opinion amongst climate researchers that bad things are going to happen and that carbon dioxide is the culprit. There are a significant minority who say: "prove it".

At which point a great deal of hand waving and misdirection, by both sides, occurs. Because neither side can produce a model or explanation (mathematical or otherwise) that fit the facts, even reasonably vaguely.

It seems to me that the climate change debate is just that. The majority say one thing which is called "consensus". The minority say something else which the majority call "dogma" or "denial". These terms are, currently, entirely interchangeable.

Show me some testable causal evidence for what is going on. Please.

Then: I will believe.

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FAIL

Consensus or dogma response...

"...Show me some testable causal evidence for what is going on. Please."

There are not really two sides arguing over mathematical models. There is one side providing a succession of 'evidence' which the other side keeps shooting down. It is up to you which of those sides you believe.

As an example, the AGW models all claimed that the world would keep getting hotter. We have now had a dozen years of essentially flat temperatures. So the AGW supporters now claim that it must be Chinese soot bringing the temperature down (though they also claim that there are more hurricanes). So the anti-AGW crowd point out that satellites now detect smaller hurricanes. So it goes on.

I think that the best evidence is found in the maths for Mann's original hockey-stick graph, which was undoubtedly fudged. The world authority on Principle Component Analysis said as much. If you need to fudge evidence, there is obviously something wrong.

Oh, and everyone keeps very quiet about the tropospheric 'hot-spot'. This was the single unique prediction made by all the models which would unquestionably show that increased CO2 in the atmosphere was generating extra heat.

It has never been found.....

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Say not: I will believe

say: I will understand

;-)

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Is it hot in here?

So far as climate change goes, the issue isn't whether the planet is getting warmer[1]. The arguments are about whether mankind needs to do anything about it and if so, what.

The problem with that is there are too many vested interests: from scientists who are paid from the grants they get to investigate (and who would be out of work if the answer turned out to be "no" and "none") and are therefore, themselves a dependent variable - through to companies that make an enormous amount of money (although money is really just a manifestation of expended energy) to create and then satisfy consumer demand based on the fear they generate - through to governments who have identified potential vote-winning strategies based the "yays" or the "nays", and will therefore cultivate those views for their own self-preservation.

All we can say is that historically, most research turns out to be wrong. Most commercial products turn out to be failures and almost every single government strategy turns out to be a monumental waste of time, money and effort. So whether climate change is something we should be concerned about - or not, there is no possibility that the forces at play right now are in any position to make clear, independent and unequivocal statements of degree, outcomes or remediation. At present it's just another religion.

[1] For a purely dispassionate answer, ask yourself: How many times in 100 years would you expect the statement "this is the warmest summer for 100 years" to hold true if temperature fluctuations were truly random. For extra points, find out how many times it HAS been true. What conclusion is drawn from this?

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