The Science and Technology Committee's first hearing on public understanding of climate science was, as expected, a bit of a charade, with softball questions being tossed by green-tinged MPs in the direction of like-minded witnesses. There was little by way of truth-seeking behaviour and precious little truth and light either, and the impression you get is that most of the MPs on the committee have little or no interest in the issues being discussed. It really leaves a very poor impression of Parliament.
As one would expect, the Empty Statement on consensus was tossed around a great deal, without anyone on the panel apparently wondering what it was that scientists were (allegedly) agreeing about.
Tom Sheldon, the witness from the Science Media Centre, did what the Science Media Centre usually does and alternated between drivel and outright misrepresentation. Sheldon's claim that Nigel Lawson regularly appears in the media saying "climate change isn't real" was later on called out by Graham Stringer, who, using the proper Parliamentary language, pointed out that this claim was simply untrue.
Sheldon also tried to extol the virtues of specialist reporters in informing the climate change debate. This is probably the time to relay a couple of anecdotes. From time to time I have tried to interest mainstream journalists in stories uncovered on the climate blogs. One example was Nic Lewis's expose of the IPCC's rewriting of the Forster and Gregory results in AR4. When I mentioned a big IPCC scandal the journalist's eyes lit up. However, when I mentioned "Bayesian priors" his eyes rolled instead, and the conversation was quickly moved on elsewhere. Another journalist, who I was trying to get to address some of the issues around paleoclimate simply shrugged his shoulders and said he couldn't understand them.
So much for specialist climate change journalists. If they had scientific backgrounds they might well be helpful, but - as I repeat ad nauseam - environmentalist journalists do not cut the mustard. The green beat should be shut down and its duties split between science and economics journalists.
The hearing is here: