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« El Reg on Schellnhuber | Main | Schellnhuber and the Tyndall Centre »

A meeting of the Tyndall advisory board

#2974 is an email from Prof John Shepherd, a Tyndall advisory board member, to RealClimate's Stefan Rahmstorf. Dated December 2003, it is a response to an email in which Rahmstorf has suggested setting up a website to counter sceptic arguments (perhaps the germ of the idea for RealClimate itself?). That's not the point though. The point will be clear when you read Shepherd's report of a meeting of Tyndall's advisory board.

Many thanks for your very helpful comments. Essentially I agree on all counts, and indeed the "sceptics ask, scientists answer" web-page that you have set up is exactly the sort of thing I had in mind as a possible minimal response that we (Tyndall et al, and even maybe the Royal Society if it wants to get involved) might undrertake. Wherever possible this could/should refer to other reputable sites (incl IPCC, Hadley Centre, the ones you mention, etc etc) rather than duplicating the material. I would envisage that such a site could be maintained by a consortium of the willing, in this case involving (say) Tyndall, Hadley & PIK. We could then asked the RS (et al) to mention it and link to it on some sort of "sound science" page on their own web-site(s) (Rachel, do you think that this might fly ?).

We had an interesting debate on this at the Tyndall Advisory Board last week, and the consensus was very much in line with your views, except for the journalist present (Roger Horobin), who wanted something more pro-active. I am more sympathetic to his view than most of you, I think, but the question is what more would be useful, effective, and not too burdensome ? So far I don't think I have identified anything, but I do think that the sort of web-page mentioned above would be a start, and so I am copying this to Asher Minns, for him to consider and discuss with John & Mike at Tyndall Central.

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Reader Comments (53)


the consensus was very much in line with your views, except for the journalist present (Roger Horobin), who wanted something more pro-active.

I guess this was a deliberate typo in order to give Harrabin "plausible deniability" at some point in the future!

P.S. Bish ... speaking of typos ... there's one in line 3 of your intro:

"in which Rahmstorf has suggested suggested ..."

Nov 30, 2011 at 8:13 AM | Unregistered Commenterhro001

I thought 'journalist' was a typo - surely he meant 'activist. '

Nov 30, 2011 at 8:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterRousseau

So, am I correct to assume that this is the genesis of RealClimate?

Nov 30, 2011 at 8:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterGoleb

BH - good digging - It would help if you gave us the dates of the email or make the email file a link.

Nov 30, 2011 at 8:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterFrederick Bloggsworth

Is Roger related to Clive Horobin, an Ambridge resident with a murky past?

Nov 30, 2011 at 8:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterTim James


I've added a date.

Nov 30, 2011 at 8:31 AM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

Impartiality (Ho Ho Ho)

Nov 30, 2011 at 9:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterFoxgooose

Interesting that "Griggs, Dave" finishes his email (2974.txt) by saying

"sceptics ask, scientists answer" may sound like a good idea, but there are a whole range of sceptics, a wide range of things to be sceptical about, and good scientists who are also sceptics too. All the people filmed on the Big Cill (sic) programme were scientists, but we are sceptical about some of their views. It works both ways!

But the subsequent discussion, including mentioning the web page "sceptics ask, scientists answer" takes the view:

"sceptic" = not a scientist = crackpot

(eg You have clearly been having an interesting exchange of views about whether scientists should engage with environmental skeptics . )

Nov 30, 2011 at 9:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterMartin A

Disappointing to see that high profile climate scientists still feel the need to stoop down to the likes of Deep Climate.!/flimsin

Nov 30, 2011 at 9:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterPharos

Quote, "sceptics ask, scientists answer" ................ now that is not RealClimate.

It is more like, "sceptics ask, scientists twists words, scientists deride, scientists censor".

Is that what this Roger Horobin meant by being "pro-active"?

This is a gotcha moment for Roger Harrabin, he has become the story and now on Global Warming represents the dishonest face of the BBC. Now wonder he is being sent packing to Michigan.

Now I hope Knight-Wallace Fellowship has courses on integrity, honesty, impartiality and objectivity because Harrabin badly needs instruction in all.

I wonder though do the Knight-Wallace Fellowship such a contagious character as Harrabin in their midst a journalist who has been bought and paid for by a third party to become an advocate for a cause?

Perhaps a period of quarantine is in order!

Nov 30, 2011 at 9:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterMac

To use a journalistic expression: Gotcha!

Nov 30, 2011 at 9:48 AM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

Mac - snap!

Nov 30, 2011 at 9:50 AM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

Horobin sounds like the place where disobedient footballers are put to cool off, the "Sin Bin".
Jokes aside, who pays Harrabin? Is he at the call of his newspaper or the Tyndall Centre? What happens when they are in conflict over ideology?

Nov 30, 2011 at 9:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterGeoff Sherrington

A BBC journalist is advising on the setting up of a pro-active website for climate change propaganda. How can that possibly be compatible with unbiased journalistic reporting or acceptable behaviour as per the BBC charter?

I think the brown smelly stuff may soon be too deep for Mr Roger Horobin. When the journalists from the impartial (Ho Ho!) BBC become the story you know they are in trouble.

Nov 30, 2011 at 9:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterThinkingScientist

"sceptics ask, scientists answer" sounded a good idea because they believed they wouldn't be asked anything challenging (believing as they did/do that the sceptics were all loony grunt).

Once the questions started to highlight the holes, they soon stopped that strategy and moved onto one of "sceptics ask, moderator snip"

Nov 30, 2011 at 9:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

Roger Horobin - Didn't he take a ring to a mountain or something? or was he the one tricked out of the ring, I get confused.

Nov 30, 2011 at 10:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterShevva

This the RealClimate we know and love;

date: Mon, 28 Sep 2009 22:33:06 -0400
from: Michael Mann <???>
subject: attacks against Keith
to: Phil Jones <???>, Tim Osborn <???>

Phil, Tim,


Meanwhile, I suspect you've both seen the latest attack against his (Briffa's) Yamal work by McIntyre.Gavin and I (having consulted also w/ Malcolm) are wondering what to make of this, and what sort of response---if any---is necessary and appropriate. So far, we've simply deleted all of the attempts by McIntyre and his minions to draw attention to this at RealClimate.



Now that is being "pro-active".

Nov 30, 2011 at 10:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterMac

Really love this story;

"Qatar wins bid to host 2012 climate talks" - The Guardian

Quote, "Qatar is a huge energy exporter and, as an oil-rich state, has one of the world's highest per capita emissions."

Nov 30, 2011 at 11:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterMac

To Tasmin: Before broadcasting messages, please see if the article in question is good.

The latest Deepclimate article...he stops his analysis of Climategate II emails at one point because it would hurt climate scientists' feelings. McKitrick makes a specific claim from his reading of the emails: that of opacity and cronyism in the IPCC author selection process. Does Deepclimate have anything to say to that? No.

On top of that, selective quotation to fight alleged selective quotation. Heh.

Nov 30, 2011 at 11:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterShub

These guys aren't so much rogues as genuine believers. They can't conceive of anyone not accepting consensus opinion. In their own eyes, they are the good guys. God save us all from the righteous convinced.

Nov 30, 2011 at 11:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterMichael Larkin

Someone asked me how to search the emails. Thought I'd post it here as there is a direct link. Sorry to go off topic.

Nov 30, 2011 at 11:25 AM | Unregistered Commenterjb

What's funny is that Harrabin will tell the world that it was the scientists who told him how he needed to be proactive as a climate journalist, and will tell the scientists that he as a journalist, believes that they should be more proactive

Nov 30, 2011 at 11:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterShub

So, here we have it. Roger Harrabin not only on the advisory board of Tyndall, but wanting something more 'pro-active' than scientific discourse, something more like propaganda, no doubt. There is not a shred of credibility left as regards Harrabin's impartiality. He is in journalism to push his leftie agenda, and has used monies from Tyndall to bias the BBC to his views.

The Tyndall Centre then began to become a propaganda outlet, witness their 2004 paper 'The Social Simulation of the Public Perception of Weather Events and their Effect upon the Development of Belief in Anthropogenic Climate Change', which sets out how the grand experiment of belief formation can be formulated, assessed and tweaked, and how the effectiveness of the propaganda in ‘belief formation’ and the ‘social construction of quasi-reality’ can be measured. The paper presents a "model of the social construction of a quasi-reality. By quasi-reality we mean a reality that thus far is defined by expert knowledge and is surrounded by uncertainty. One should keep in mind, that although we are dealing with a public construction of reality, the reality per se has not yet manifest…In effect, it is the social construction of quasi-reality."

"We suggest that, in the realm of the public, forces act to maintain or denounce a perceived reality which has already been constructed. That is, an issue introduced by science (or media for that matter) needs continual expression of confirmation if it is to be maintained as an issue."

" In this paper, we explore under what conditions belief in global warming or climate change, as identified and defined by experience, science and the media, can be maintained in the public’s perception."

"As the science itself is contested, needless to say, so are the potential policy changes. So how then do people make sense or construct a reality of something that they can never experience in its totality (climate) and a reality that has not yet manifest (i.e. climate change)?"

"To endorse policy change people must ‘believe’ that global warming will become a reality some time in the future."

"Only the experience of positive temperature anomalies will be registered as indication of change if the issue is framed as global warming."

"Both positive and negative temperature anomalies will be registered in experience as indication of change if the issue is framed as climate change."

"We propose that in those countries where climate change has become the predominant popular term for the phenomenon, unseasonably cold temperatures, for example, are also interpreted to reflect climate change/global warming."

Nov 30, 2011 at 11:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterScientistForTruth

But again, who is going to *do* anything about this?

Nov 30, 2011 at 12:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames


"But again, who is going to *do* anything about this?"

Regardless of the politicization and ideological homogenity of most mass media and establishment institutions, there are still many who care about the increasingly put upon old-school enlightenment institutions of science*.

Already, the "cause" has been severely weakened, despite the still widespread keeping up of appearances. Keep writing, keep focusing in as relaxed a manner as possible on what is true and on what is not true. That´s all we can do.

*"Science" is mostly a set of institutionalized norms that attempt to temper human nature. Even fierce opponents who hate one another are "supposed" to at least publicly pretend to focus on the actual factual issues being discusses.

This is why the "new science" pioneered in climate science is so damaging, with the focus shifting from keeping up the appearance of focusing on the issues at hand, to social marginalization and personal punishment of 'skeptics' and public-facing propaganda through the media. Especially as these destructive processes reinforce each other.

Nov 30, 2011 at 1:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterGobel


Who is going to 'do' anything... The journalists will of course. They are the defenders of the free, the fearless investigators. They will track down wrong doing and expose it to the full light of publicity. The Guardian for example showed no favours in exposing the ill doing of fellow journalists at the News of the World - surely they will see that this is a great expose..... No maybe not

Or Private Eye will relish in the hypocrisy - I see a front cover with HoHoHo next to a Santa Clause delivery gifts from the cache ..... No?

Oh bugger.

Nov 30, 2011 at 1:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterCaroline

RE: ScientistforTruth

"Only the experience of positive temperature anomalies will be registered as indication of change if the issue is framed as global warming."

"Both positive and negative temperature anomalies will be registered in experience as indication of change if the issue is framed as climate change."

That pretty much sums up the entire reason for renaming "global warming" to "climate change". Because then you can associate EVERYTHING about the weather with it. Propaganda, all of it, being supported and promoted by a BBC journalist who is scientifically illiterate and thinks he he is qualified to inform BBC and public policy on science. Who the f*!k do Harrabin, the BBC, Gordon ("Flat Earthers" Brown, Ed Milliband etc think they are, with their patronising and arrogant talking down to scientifically qualified members of the public? BBC journalists with no science qualifications whatsoever referring to sceptics as "loonies" in emails.

The more I read about the BBC in this new batch of emails, the more angry I am becoming (and I was more than slightly cross with the BBC before CG2).

Nov 30, 2011 at 1:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterThinkingScientist

Email 3160.txt between Marissa Goulden and Mike Hulme: Ms Goulden says of Roger Harrobin

Roger Harrobin is interested in doing the talk, but says its impossible for him to commit 100%. I went to a meeting, organised by ITDG, last week which he had to drop out of - reason given was because he is an expert on the Taliban!

Nov 30, 2011 at 1:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterGareth

TBGJ: I doubt anything will be done about it, at least in the short term, but it must be dawning on the more prescient of these conspirators that their emails are there for all to see and will be for many, many years to come. As those embarrassed by them will continue to support them because they too will look fools for not being more sceptical, continue in office they will be safe, but things change and at some in the future time their shenanigans will make it into the public consciousness and their reputations will be trashed. The may all have moved on the a model heaven by then, but their fate is to be the known in science as the scientists who tried to fool the world and force on it their own green agenda. Of course, we all fervently wish they'll be called to account while they, and we, are still alive, but I doubt it.

I have long since regarded what they're doing as a folie a plusieurs brought on by an excess of hubris. If one of them breaks and recants then the whole house of cards will come down on them, but I can't see it myself, they seem to be a spineless bunch being led by the nose by Dr. Mann into scientific infamy.

Nov 30, 2011 at 1:26 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

Yes, sorry to appear so downbeat about this, but I'm starting to feel the same post-Gate hangover I did last time - the initial euphoria of "this MUST change things" replaced by a dull realisation that it changes nothing, since most people are too stupid to care, and most MSM and politicians too corrupt or involved to make any waves.

Nov 30, 2011 at 1:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

They have Climate Change (their public words of certainty and fear).

We have ClimateGate (their private words, doubts and plans).

That is why ClimateGate is the game changer for it exposes the intellectual corruption at the heart of climate science.

Nov 30, 2011 at 1:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac


Pretty much the whole of the establishment has been taken in, and it wanted to be taken in, otherwise the HS and the work of the CRU would have been put under a spotlight and examined piece by piece.

There's so much been invested in the scam, credibility, money, careers, that there really isn't a silver bullet. If Mann and Jones came out with a full and frank confession, that would damage it, but it wouldn't stop it.

I think what we are seeing is a drawn out process, pieces are falling off the edifice, the idea is gaining ground that it was basically unsound and shouldn't have been built to start with, but we are probably not going to see it fall down in a single collapse.

I'd say what Climategate II is doing is demonstrating to the wider scientific community, which was inclined to go along with it because that was easiest, how utterly bogus it's all been.

Nov 30, 2011 at 2:23 PM | Unregistered Commentercosmic

Re ThinkingScientist

Note the admission in that Tyndall propaganda paper: "the reality per se [i.e. climate change] has not yet manifest"; the "reality...defined by expert surrounded by uncertainty", and "the science itself is contested".

The paper explores the best way to propagandize the population in the light of these 'difficulties', to get the populace to " ‘believe’ that global warming will become a reality some time in the future".

The report is quite frank: to get people to 'believe', it is necessary to keep "interpreting" weather events, of whatever magnitude and form, including "unseasonably cold temperatures", as evidence of climate change, and that this delusion "needs continual expression of confirmation if it is to be maintained".

I say that this prima facie evidence that the scientists at UEA knew full well that they were indulging in scientific malpractice in supporting the BBC, and Harrabin in particular, to spin this yarn.

Nov 30, 2011 at 2:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterScientistForTruth

Regretably Climategate I, II and even III (if the encrpted file gets unlocked) are not and will not be game chabgers.

However, a game changer may be on its way. A change to negative ocean phases coupled with what may well be a quiet Sun may result in temperature warming stalling or even decreasing. If this goes on for a long time together with a squeeze on public and private finance (due to the present economic crisis) and with ever rising energy costs, people will feel the full force of the green madness in their pocket.

For the past 10 years or so, the financial implications have not really been felt by Joe Public. Now the green taxes and subsidies are really beginning to kick in and for most money is tight. This will really help concentrate the mind of Joe Public.

If the rush to wind energy turns out to be a real fiasco, ie., it results in brownouts then this will add to the disquiet.

The MSM and politicians will not be able to keep a lid on this disquiet. There will be stories of old people dying because they are unable to heat their homes and these will be newsworthy and they will take flight.

I can see that a perfect storm is in the brewing and may be in 5 to 10 years time this storm will act as a tornado wreaking havoc at this pseudo science and the liberal politicians that hitched a ride and I can foresee sweeping changes being made. In 10 years time Climategate I and II may be revisited since questions will be asked why was nothing done sooner. A lot of people are going to look very bad. The birds will come home to roost in the end.

Nov 30, 2011 at 3:06 PM | Unregistered Commenterrichard verney

With carbon markets tanking one can only expect that the profit motive cuts-in. If it is not possible to make money by leaving stuff in the ground then it will have to be made by taking stuff out. That + national shale + economic recession should drive sense back.

But what to do with the valuable resource of climate scientists & geo-engineers? Can I suggest an advance party to Mars - when they have it *just right* we can all pop across to see the munificence of it all. (*Thanks D.A.)

Nov 30, 2011 at 3:32 PM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

TheBigYinJames says:

but I'm starting to feel the same post-Gate hangover I did last time - the initial euphoria of "this MUST change things" replaced by a dull realisation that it changes nothing

I suspect that this time, there's a different political climate. In the UK, misguided, irrational knee-jerk public policy has resulted in death and suffering as the most vulnerable people in the UK suffer through tough winters, unable to pay for adequate heating. The politicians are starting to turn sour on these policies and are looking for political cover to change their position.

The politicians are now looking for a way to avoid accountability for their climate policies. I think many will soon turn on the scientists who gave them exaggerated or biased information or who stood in the way of those seeking to add balance to the science.

Nov 30, 2011 at 3:55 PM | Unregistered Commentermpaul

I am starting to think that simply winning on the science, or rather the absence of any, would be an incomplete win. What's needed is not a WW1 outcome, whether the bad guys never really go away and spin a seductive myth that they never really lost. What's needed is a WW2 outcome where the enemy is defeated in every sphere. The losers of WW2 were beaten not just militarily, but also politically, economically, cryptanalytically, and technologically.

The scientific debate is now over, and the warmists have lost. There is complete unanimity on both sides that nobody understands or can predict climate. Every model of 2100AD emissions is a Drake equation of unknown terms. The warmists can't bring themselves to say this out loud yet, but it's why they have been so focused on managing public opinion instead of managing the sky, and on manipulating data becaue they can't manipulate other people's views.

The next brick to be pulled from their wall is the economic one. The price of carbon has collapsed by 60% since June and all the talk is bearish. UBS recently commented that if the money squandered on carbon trading has been spent on directly cleaning up emissions sources they'd be down by 43% instead of zero. So this is the next front on which the ecofascists face surefire defeat.

The third area of defeat is when we start to accumulate 10, 20, 30 years of data that debunks CAGW. So CO2 emissions keep going up but atmospheric CO2 fails to keep pace; or it does keep pace but the temperature keeps getting colder; and so on. You can only piss down someone's neck and tell them it's raining for so long.

There isn't going to a be Waterloo - one apocalyptic reverse that settles matters for good. Climategate 1.0 was the bad guys' defeat in front of Moscow, Climategate 2.0 was El Alamein. We're still waiting for Stalingrad, which could be Climategate 3.0, but which I suspect will be triggered by the collapse of some Eurozone member, or by the repudiation somewhere of a particularly stupid and feckless eco-subsidy programme.

The whole thing is falling apart but too many people are still coining it from denial to admit it.

Nov 30, 2011 at 3:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterJustice4Rinka

BYJ et al.
Until we get a scientifically literate public,I suspect very little can be done about it because they don't realise yet that they are being conned. Real Science teaching in schools is almost non existent. I recently asked a large no. of friends & relations what was Einstein's famous equation. There was only one correct answer - from a solicitor. A close friend with A level physics, albeit 1960's , didn't know.
If you want to find out how ignorant people are on this topic, try asking your M.P.

Nov 30, 2011 at 4:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterTom Mills

Tom Mills - I just asked that question to my eight year old - she knew!

Nov 30, 2011 at 4:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterCaroline

Caroline. Perhaps that reflects on the quality & age of my friends.Maybe I will have to retract my post but my MP was clueless...

Nov 30, 2011 at 4:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterTom Mills

Delicious find, Bish!

Again - look at the date of this e-mail: December 2003!
Climate Audit hadn't even started then.

And we, in fact the whole BBC watching population of the UK, have been exposed to activist propaganda on the Beeb for eight years now. No wonder ordinary people have been left clueless.

Nov 30, 2011 at 4:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterViv Evans

Tom - no I reckon you're right - but my kid's a bit of a geek.

Nov 30, 2011 at 4:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterCaroline

I wonder who else at the BBC is a shill? Here's a list... 2315.txt 1033.txt 2747.txt 4894.txt 1883.txt 1724.txt 3841.txt 3526.txt 0999.txt 3957.txt 1683.txt 2073.txt 4157.txt 3174.txt 3526.txt 0216.txt 4689.txt enough said enough said 1428.txt 1428.txt 1428.txt 1428.txt

...long list, isn't it?

Nov 30, 2011 at 4:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterZT


Some of your links don't work. Do you want to resubmit?

Nov 30, 2011 at 4:58 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

Sheesh! Is Roger Horobin actually Harrabin? Yes or no! If the answer is yes I want to go back to the "Harrabin on CMEP" post!

If Horobin is Harrabin....As I said in the comments...Its a long climb back up to being an honest journalist!

It would seem the only real "Trust" at the BBC is the viewers who watch the everyday bias!

Nov 30, 2011 at 5:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterPete H

Is Roger Horobin actually a portmanteau of Roger Harrabin and Clive Horrobin?

Nov 30, 2011 at 6:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterOxbridge Prat

Bish - sorry the links should work now.

24 or so BBC employees in email contact with Phil and his chums. I suppose it is not surprising that there wasn't much time to respond to the FOIs or do any science with that massive 'positioning' operation going on.

I wonder how many other research groups command that kind of media clout?

Nov 30, 2011 at 6:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterZT

@OP - I think Clive is Roger's alter ego.

Nov 30, 2011 at 7:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterFrederick Bloggsworth


I think it should be Harrabung.

wadyathink ?

Nov 30, 2011 at 8:40 PM | Unregistered Commenterjazznick

Surely that's Ho Ho Horrobin

Nov 30, 2011 at 9:25 PM | Unregistered Commentergristle

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