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Globally popular Guardian science correspondent Martin Robbins has initiated a public flame war with the Reg. This is our response. Earlier today, under the page title "The Register misrepresents climate science", the Guardian ran this piece by Robbins, who blogs for the Graun under the title "The Lay Scientist" and who recently …

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Silver badge

You asked for it...

"what's mostly driving CO2 emissions is the rapid pace of industrial development in several parts of the developing world"

"Do a root cause on that statement and you just might get the point."

Western economies have systematically outsourced their heavy industry and manufacturing to the cheap labour pools in the far east, such as China. While this has had a positive impact on the standard of living for the local population, it hasn't yet raised it to western levels. The vast majority of China's output is still destined for the West, so it is the West's pollution that China is generating by proxy.

It's not over-population in the developing world that's the problem, it's over-consumption in the developed world. Telling people who aren't the problem to stop breeding will fix nothing.

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@Red Bren

Actually i agree with you! BUT

"Telling people who aren't the problem to stop breeding will fix nothing.

Thats not what i said!" or implied!

"it's not over-population in the developing world that's the problem, it's over-consumption in the developed world."

That my friend is a symptom, not the cause and demonstrates precisely why root cause analysis of a problem is fraught with difficulty and why so many get it expensively wrong.

To move along a bit, CO2 is a major issue, almost everyone agrees. Some American researches who were studying ice bores from the Antarctic regions last year concluded that warming of the planet in its various phases could be tracked quite accurately and because of the ice formations concluded that levels of CO2 had risen dramatically AFTER the warming event. That is also a fact!

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Stop

No it isn't

"it's over-consumption in the developed world."

No, it's the 'pollution' generated by the manufacturing process. Not the consumption itself.

And BTW I think China probably uses some of it's electricity to see in the dark and stuff, so only a portion of the emissions would fall undet the banner of the 'ours by proxy' argument.

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Godwin

Oh go oh, somebody mention Hitler.

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Assorted nuttery

The crap spouted by particular El Reg "journalists" on the matter of Climate Change is a large part of the reason why I don't visit anywhere near as much as I used to. Climate change deniars who have no idea what they're talking about come pretty high on my sh*t list.

Of course, the Guardian isn't much better, having had a funny turn after the whole East Anglia university email scandal. It seemed for a while as if the electronic version of the newspaper suddenly lost the ability to think rationally and turned deniers themselves. I think they've come back to reality recently, as it has become obvious that the main offence committed by the East Anglian scientists was one of smearing their opponents rather than lying about their pro-climate change evidence.

For all the "scientific" denial, I've still yet to see anyone in the address the basic physics behind CO2 caused global warming. CO2 + sunlight = heating. Simple. There may be plenty of other heating and cooling effects, but the above equation is a fact, whether you like it or not.

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Stop

I agree with Robbins

What I Reckon*:

The Register's coverage of climate change is profoundly embarrassing. I love El Reg, I've been reading it daily since the very early days. However my heart sinks when I see another climate-related headline turn up in the RSS feed, because I know it will have me grinding my teeth in impotent frustration at the misunderstanding of really basic science. In the case of Andrew Orlowski's pieces, they often descend to the status of propounding ludicrous pseudoscience.

*Mitchell and Webb, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E10Bp_mPXXA

Climate change is important; and there *are* real remaining controversies, poorly understood or characterised phenomena and areas of honest disagreement between professional researchers in the field. Instead of giving us the thoughtful and insightful survey as it would with any other topic, the impression is rapidly given of a saloon-bar bore of the red-faced Telegraph-reading species.

(I would also be very happy to accept that a /huge/ amount of BS about AGW is promulgated by people you might suppose to be "on my side". Bad journalism and sloppy thinking is everywhere, and "OMFG we're gonna die next week when seas rise 500 feet!!1!" is a headline that will get clicks and reads just as much as "Climate Lies Exposed!"* will. For a while I wondered whether it was deliberate page-view trolling on El Reg's part, but on reflection I don't think that's the case. I think Orlowski and Lewis are sincere in their apparent belief that, apparently "physics dun't wurk like that". Sadly that has spoiled my enjoyment of other stuff they write. Lewis *seems* to me, an uninformed observer, to be a credible and well-sourced reporter of matters military; but, as I have no personal knowledge of the topic or way to check his assertions about e.g. MoD procurement fiascos, I can only weigh it up his credibility by assessing his coverage of a topic I _do_ know something about. This process does not give me much confidence in his other pieces.

Thanks for finally running something on this topic; a shame it took a piece in the Grauniad to prompt you to do it.

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FAIL

Written like an Arts Graduate

"at the misunderstanding of really basic science"

Perhaps you could provide links? I haven't read anything here that denes the basic physics of the greenhouse effect for example. This does not advance your argument that human emissions are the most significant factor inrecent climate change.

Your post reads like another smear of writers (Lewis, Andrew) who don't agree with you.

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Much of recent global warming actually caused by Sun

Quite frankly when I read the above headline my immediate response was "Surprise, f@cking surprise!"

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Bronze badge

Well it is a surprise

Why do you think it isn't?

Oh, because you don't have a clue.

For your information the surprise is that falling total solar activity may be producing warming because the visible/infra red part of the spectrum may be rising even though total activity is falling. Nobody predicted this, so it's a surprise.

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WTF?

Boffin?

I'd always assumed it was a term of endearment and felt proud to be one while browsing el Reg. Now the chavs are using it as an insult?! Was it always an insult!? Scared and confused boffin here...

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danbobs

Lewis: the charge of being misleading stands. Try re-reading this article. I guess you think it's a solidly reasoned and deliciously witty rebuttal of Robbins complaints. Think again. It's a scrambling, post-hoc rationalisation of a clumsy attempt to overstate the studies conclusions. Attributing the headline to refer to something other than the studies conclusions is wilful sleight of hand on your part. You got called out on your climate denial agenda today, but your sophistry in trying to back it up shows contempt for the intelligence of your readers. In future, I'd advise more time spent in considering your response to very pertinent criticisms of your writing. Petulance got the better of you my friend.

No disrespec' intended to El Reg and it's otherwise day to day awesomeness.

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Coat

But the Sun is to blame

The Sun does heat up the Earth, compare the day and night sides of the moon.

Also the Sun provided the energy to create all the fossil fuels (plants, sea creatures etc millions of years ago) so is indirectly responsible for the carbon dioxide now being released.

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Unhappy

case of shouting "FIRE" in a crowed rom

this is case of if Professor Joanna Haigh should have shout "FIRE" before she is 100% sure of it,

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FAIL

Logic, Reg

The Reg has a rather big problem with logic here. Your logic appears to run:

Scientist A is respected for work within his or her field of endeavour; therefore, what Scientist A has to say about climate science is significant and must carry a lot of weight.

This is just not true. Yes, Professor Haigh is a respected physicist. He's also not a climate scientist. Neither is Freeman Dyson.

Roger Ebert is a highly-respected film critic, but I wouldn't necessarily ask him for advice on setting up my home theatre. It's much the same situation. Just because someone is in some sense smart and has achieved undoubtedly good things in some field of scientific endeavour doesn't mean they really have a clue what the hell they're talking about in some other field.

"Then too there are all the embarrassing blunders made by the IPCC lately, in allowing totally unverified claims regarding glaciers, rainforests etc to filter through from hardcore green activists to official UN descriptions of the scientific state of play.

All in all, then, we'd say that our reporting is a lot more accurate than most on the environment beat. But we would say that, wouldn't we."

Yeah, you would and there's a serious problem there, too. The Reg's climate science reporting strategy is to wait until someone makes a mistake and then report on it extensively and repeatedly. Even if every piece you run is 100% factually correct, this is still not a good approach. Strictly speaking, it's 'accurate reporting', but it's not *balanced* reporting and it provides a misleading picture to your readership.

Everyone makes mistakes. I dunno, let's say - the military makes mistakes. If your military reporting desk (and I'm still not entirely sure why the hell the Reg has one, but ah well) had been around in the 1940s, it could have spent all its time waiting for the Allied forces to screw up, then reported at length on the screwups. This would have been 'accurate reporting', and anyone reading the Reg's coverage would have been under the impression that the Allied forces were losing / had lost the war. Would that be good coverage of WWII? No, it really wouldn't.

Slightly esoteric example, but hey, it applies to anything. You could report on nothing but bugs in software, and the logical conclusion from your reporting would be that no software is any good for anything at all, all it contains is bugs. I could go on, but hopefully the point is clear now: faithfully and accurately reporting only one side of the story is not good journalism, it's what Fox News does on its worst days.

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Headmaster

That's because

Mistakes in climate science are news. Climate is a global policy issue and politicians should not base their policies on flawed or incomplete science, which is what they have done. Journalists should hold them all to account.

A picture of a polar bear is not news.

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@Adam Williamson

"Professor Haigh is a respected physicist. He's also not a climate scientist."

I'm pretty sure he's also a woman.

Anyone for a spot of misogyny? Don't worry - the birds won't see us.. They're all in the kitchen.

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d'oh

y'know, I actually briefly wondered about that, and then was too lazy to go to the huge effort of going back three pages to check.

(why no, since you ask, this certainly isn't the first time being incredibly lazy has bitten me hard on the ass.)

apologies to all concerned :)

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Stop

again

I didn't say they're not. But reporting *only* on studies and flaws in studies which support your side of the argument is not good journalism.

Do you believe that there may actually be valid climate science studies out there which tell us useful things about global warming?

Has The Reg ever reported on one of these (except to point out errors in some of them)?

Do you see the problem now?

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Silver badge

Mark Twain quote:

"There is something fascinating about science. You get such a wholesale returns of conjecture from such a small investment of fact. "

And since no-one actually _knows_ what the effect of the Sun or CO2 is, this one will run and run.

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"Boffin" is Boffo!

...As Hollywood's "Variety" magazine would doubtless have it.

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Where the register went wrong..

Was in the title of the original piece. It should have

"Grrl Boffin says solar warming theories may be arse-about-face."

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:D

Awesome. Thanks for that.

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Or even...

"Grrl Boffin moons solar warming" ???

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Warming effect

"solar warming probably has little effect on the Earth's temperature"

Zat so? I think even the Grauniad would find it noticeably cooler without it.

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Pirate

Congrats!

Congratulations El Reg! You've made it onto the hit list of mainstream corruption and evil. You're in the big time now.

I'm so proud. I knew you when you were just a little techie site.

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Hush now

I believe that Mr. Robbins is an ecologist, working in industry (ecology is an industry?). Could anyone be better qualified to decide the cliamte debate?

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WTF?

Boffin

Frankly I don't care about the rest of this guy's whining, you can argue the climate change toss until you are both blue in the face for all care, but his attack on your use of "boffin" smacks of over zealous PC-brigade wankery. If this guy knew the first thing about The Reg he would never have gone there.

In conclusion: I call twatdangle.

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Anonymous Coward

Sir

Tw@dangle is my new favorite word.

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spin spin spin.

Interesting. ONE scientist comes out saying it's the sun being brighter or what-not, and the "I don't want to believe in climate change" brigade jumps on it like a starving puppy on a meaty bone. I'd call that "desperate" really. "Sad" comes to mind as well.

I'm seeing a lot of misleading reporting on both sides of the "debate", but much more from the "nothing happening here" camp. Not that it really matters. What it looks like to me is that journalists who should fear to tread in a science debate are jumping in blind. Seems they're more interested in pushing agendas or in racy headlines than in actual science. Just one paper and it's getting spun so hard by both sides you could power continent if it was at all magnetic.

Science is built on patience, deep understanding of the facts, knowledge, and accuracy. Something today's politicians and journalists (and I include El Reg in that number, oddly enough) don't seem capable of or interested in. At all.

When it comes to science reporting, it looks like most papers (and the journalists behind them) are more at the "Daily Mail" or "Sun" level of exposition. Including El Reg and the Guardian. Perhaps they should leave science reporting to more specialized journals where those writing actually have a clue? Reading El Reg or the Guardian for my science news is like reading Vogue for my technology news, and about as useful.

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10:10

Well the Guardian are closely linked with the 10:10 "No Pressure" eco campaign group. Their attitude to non-believers is to blow them up. I suspect that some of their extremism has rubbed off on him.

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Flame

What do they expect

Any regular reader knows that the Reg prints anthing that contradicts Anthropogenic climate change.

Every time some scientist who is not a climate scientist expresses a negative opinion they rush

to post it. Of course anything in favour is ignored.

If you want jounalism your in the wrong plce here, this is a entertainment and opinion site. Facts are largely irrelevant.

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Headmaster

Hum

You cut and paste anthropogenic from your word processing package. It's not a noun.

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Nice retort

Perhaps a bit like poking a snake with a stick, but as you say - there are well known <s>boffins</s>scientists and there's a guy that writes for a newspaper and thinks he's all that and then some.

Fact is, there are so many variables and so much bullshit that nobody on the planet can stand up and say "I know how this works". I don't buy the current "accepted" theory, this is why I get called a "denier", but people that actually take the time to listen realise I am not denying something is definitely up with the climate, I am denying that changing lightbulbs and adding extra taxes is going to do the slightest damn thing.

Anyway, I like to think I'm fairly clever, but I'm no boffin. If I was, and I was reported in El Reg as being a boffin, it would be quite the compliment...

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Pirate

Hang on...

I thought Globalular Warmificationalism was due to Lack Of Pirates, therefore is Due To Pirates.

I'm RMAA agrees.

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Troll

Climate Nazis

Time to break out the trusty Godwin's Law?

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Jobs Halo

Why wait?

As it happens I live just below high water mark so I have a vested interest in global warming. Fortunately there is a nice friendly earth bank which is just enough for now to keep the sea from visiting us. This is the situation for many people all over the world.

I do not want to wait the results for your grand experiment to prove that carbon dioxide is causing global warming because by that time I will be living in a pond and lots of other people will be refugees.

We want YOU to do something about it NOW and not to say later: Oh I am sorry, it seems I was wrong.

The sun output will wax and wane but carbon dioxide keeps on rising. It's time for YOU to do something about it.

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Move to higher ground

Adapt or die. That is all.

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Grenade

It is actually quite funny

when Mr. Page tries to write about climate change, or should I say paraphrase badly written sceptic websites (great investigative journalism there). It is blatant he does not have the necessary background training in the subject to read scientific papers and so jumps to his less than informed opinions. The articles are all the same, start off with boffins, and end up with a link to the paper behind a pay website that he has not read either (some of us in academia do have access to them and can read for ourselves), I assume this is done as some sort of vilification for the article, but usually is the opposite. Here is a hint, read the article, not just the abstract and some biased and ill informed website for research, or just stick to ranting about how shit UK military kit is.

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Academic

Hum...so you want the plebs to keep funding your research (to keep you in wank mags and scare stories), but you don't want anyone to comment or try to understand it? We'll just take the views that say we're all very naughty and doomed from you and ignore the other people who say any different (or deviate from what your opinion is). I love it when you guys in certain academic institutions (normally the ones fabricating their evidence) call this a 'debate'...an insult to the word. Dogmatic isn't a strong enough word.

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Anonymous Coward

On the contrary...

... what would be very nice indeed is if 'the plebs' and others would actually bother to put some effort in and try to understand the science first, and then comment. Instead, what we get is comments first, without the understanding, and wholesale regurgitation of quotes and horseshit from people who patently have no clue whatsoever or, worse, an agenda to obscure and cast doubt on the science. El Reg is a good example of this where Orlowski and Page have no clue whatsoever, demonstrably so with each and every article on climate science they write. It would seem from their articles, which are unremittingly negative about AGW, that they also have the agenda to sully the science too. IOW, the Guardian is factually correct - El Reg does mislead and misreport climate science.

For example the "Much of recent global warming actually caused by the Sun" headline could just as easily have been written as "Much of recent global warming actually not caused by the Sun" as both statements are true depending on which part of the solar cycle you wish to cherry pick. Why? Because the other logical deduction from the Haigh article is that prior to 2004, the opposite was happening in the current 11 year solar cycle: that is, that there was much less warming caused by the sun than had previously been thought.

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Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary

Your assertion appears to be that anyone who 'understands the science' will be in complete agreement with your personal version of reality.

This is, of course, complete and utter balls.

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Anonymous Coward

If they understand the science then they understand reality...

It is quite simple isn't it? Unless you belong to the lunatic camp that believes that the findings of science aren't reality?

Fwiw, there is no 'personal' version yo it. It is either reality or not. The science tells us one thing and one thing alone - that global warming is occurring, that it is happening at an unprecedented rate that is unlikely to have occurred in the past, that this is most likely due to emissions of greenhouse gasses and that much of it is due to human caused emissions of those gasses.

If you can point me to some good quality, well thought out, thoroughly investigated and rationalised science that shows the opposite then please do, but it is extremely unlikely as so far, it doesn't exist.

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FAIL

You just don't have a clue, do you?

"At least, if you believe Professor Joanna Haigh of Imperial College London."

No. There is no "belief" involved.

You mean "If her findings are correct".

Later you go on to say:

"Then, even James Hansen of NASA himself - the man who more or less invented the idea of carbon-driven warming"

No. It was Arrhenius who discovered it, in 1896.

Finaly "But in fact the article title accurately reflected her comments to Nature"

No it doesn't. "Much of recent global warming actually caused by Sun" could have been written "Half of recent global warming actually caused by Sun". But you didn't write that, did you.

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Go

@ Lewis Page

Lewis,

I've never been particularly good at expressing my thoughts all too clearly and English is also not my first language.

One thing I know for sure is that after reading the said blog post by the person at The Guardian I am very, very upset.

He misrepresents The Reg, attempts to discredit you, Lewis, and your journalistic integrity.

In the past, oh, five years - I don't know - or so that I've been reading your articles I have always felt that you delivered all facts and that when you offered your opinion it was clear that it was indeed an opinion.

I don't know what you do behind the desk but by the time your article is published it is clear that your findings are backed up with links to your sources, names, alternate points of view, tools to help us understand what your source is saying, additional explanation to help us make sense of highly technical material, you REPORT and you pratically never rehash, unless it is to add something constructive. You INFORM, Lewis.

And you often Break the news.

What the hell else could one possibly want from a journalist/reporter?

Has this Guardian blogger not ever sampled the barfingly simplistic, pre-chewed, over-vulgarised, petacrap of censored information that pollutes the online world of news today? By big names such as CNN, for example, to name only one?

I come here and I know that I get the facts. It is delivered to me in a witty style that appeals to my multi-layered brain that is very capable of reading between the lines of cynicism when it finds it and revel in the humor - which is always light-hearted, often incisive and never abusive BTW - that pepers your stories.

Furthermore you are as journalistically professionnal, fair and accurate as they come and as I have ever seen online.

I am so upset by what I have read from that Guardian blogger.

I guess what angers me the most about that person is the way he tosses those tid bits of misinformation around with the usual disregard that must accompany them to the potential damage it can cause to someone's reputation; it is almost an attack on your character and it's unbearable to just stand by and watch happen.

The last thing that either yourself, Lewis, or The Reg has ever done is misrepresent anything - albeit I haven't read every single article you have ever published; but I have read many articles over many, many years, on topics such as Security, Software, Science, Hardware and have been reading The Reg articles probably for more than 13 years.

I can tell you that the above are points of view that are shared by many in my circle of friends and co-workers who are familiar with The Reg.

And finally... Whomever has not understood that your use of the word boffin in your articles was more flattery than anything else is... lacking...something I cannot put into words... somewhere... I cannot put my finger on...

The respect you have for science and scientists oozes out from your articles, and you're also keen on catching and underlying the absurdity of some of it where it is appropriate.

Even scientists themselves will often admit the complete wackyness of either their entire field or their latest findings/experiments. Same as a geek or a nerd will admit to the geekyness and nerdiness of what they are doing or of what they are into, even though they recognize that the words can carry a very negative connotation; depending on the context.

It's almost 3 AM over here and so therefore I'm not going to drag this on, though I deathly want to. Let's just say that we need more journalists like you, Lewis Page, and less bloggers such as Martin Robins, more news like that from The Reg and less from the likes of The Guardian.

I suppose it does add to both sides of the debate however...

...

Keep up the exceptionally good work Mr. Page.

One more thing is that I have compiled - and shared with a few people I know - a pretty exhaustive list of your humorisitc references to DARPA going up to 2009/02/02 - I've been slacking but there have been so many - and we've admitted to each other that when we want a good laugh we sometimes pull up that list and read through it and LAUGH TO TEARS; I do so myself litterally still quite often.

Propellor-hat friday lol.... that's probably my favorite one.

(http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/12/18/darpa_hypersonics_award/)

Sincerly,

Daniel Lambert

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Stop

Face it - The original headline was misleading

Having said that Mr Robbins was an idiot for engaging in a flame war with somebody who approaches the climate change issue with same intellectual rigour as Jeremy Clarkson.

Amongst climate scientists it is only a debate in the same way that Evolution vs. Intelligent Design is a debate. The only climate scientists casting doubt on man-made climate change are those funded by the fossil fuel and automotive industries.

Make of that what you will

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Troll

Come again?

Eh...so "amongst climate scientists...[specious argument]", then conceding that there are climate scientists who disagree...so you mean 'amongst climate scientists who have the same opinion'.

Where's your evidence of this conspiracy?

is there no room for scepticism in your world?

Here's another conspiracy: universities need public money to continue their research...to do this they need to spew scare stories and demand more money to further their careers. Make of that what you will.

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Boffin

don't get flustered

People do take themselves and their convictions too seriously, haha.

Stay skeptical, Lewis, and keep the boffins on their toes!

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Flame

Fuck off graun commentards

Please go back to touching yourselves while looking at pictures of Monbiot and Milliband, and leave us alone to our pointless bickering about Microsoft.

PS yes, I know who you are. Apart from anything else, continuing to insinuate that anyone who disagrees with the point of view you have been spoon fed is a Telegraph reading Tory - as if there were something inherently wrong with either of those - is a dead give-away.

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Pint

The opposite is also true

Please go back to touching yourselves while looking at pictures of Littlejohn and Thatcher, and leave us alone to our pointless bickering about Apple.

PS yes, I know who you are. Apart from anything else, continuing to insinuate that anyone who disagrees with the point of view you have been spoon fed is a Guardian reading socialist - as if there were something inherently wrong with either of those - is a dead give-away.

Your comments are usually worth a read, even when I don't agree. Let's not sink to silly name-calling?

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Happy

Little who ?

"Let's not sink to silly name-calling"

I thought you said you had read some of my comments ?

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