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BBC reaction to Climategate

I hadn't seen this before (H/T to a commenter on the earlier thread) - this is the BBC's Newswatch programme looking at criticisms of Climategate and climate coverage in general, a couple of weeks after the emails appeared in November 2009.

A couple of points to look out for. Firstly there is the BBC manager saying

I can categorically assure you there has not been any such decision [to downplay sceptic views] and any such decision would be entirely at odds with the culture of the organisation. Our job is to pick our way through what is a highly complex scientific discussion and also to do so with a sense of proportion - making sure the full range of voices in these areas are represented.

Just moments later, Richard Black directly contradicts this position by speaking about the decision taken at the seminar to do just that - to downplay sceptic views. Interesting to see reporters on the ground having such a different view of the effect of the seminar to their managers.

The second point that amused me was Richard Black saying that he didn't think the BBC had underplayed Climategate in quantitative terms. I thought this was a surprising thing to say, given that AFAIK Black's first article on Climategate appeared in July, after the publication of the results of the Russell "inquiry".


BBC shy about science review story

Mischievous reader Barry Woods has posted a couple of links to the BBC science review story on Richard Black's BBC blog. Unfortunately the moderators have deemed this kind of thing unacceptable and have removed the links.

It's a pity that one of the BBC's environmental reporters doesn't want to engage with the people who pay his salary on the subject of the BBC's coverage of green issues. It makes him look somewhat aloof, shall we say.


WSJTV on the AGU balance

The American Geophysical Union is putting together a bank of scientists to advise journalists on global warming. Anne Jolis of the Wall Street Journal wonders why it doesn't appear to include any sceptics.


...and now the Guardian

Alok Jha, the Guardian's science podcaster, gets to cover the Climategate anniversary. Jha makes the same mistake as everyone else, asking Jones about the deletion of an email that he didn't receive in the first place.

Also very funny to see the link directly under the title and standfirst:"Attacks on climate science echo tobacco industry tactics".  Alok Jha is not what you might call a rabid warmist, so I think I detect the hand of someone on the editorial side here - perhaps dear old James Randerson, who does like to jazz these things up.


Hulme on Climategate anniversary

Mike Hulme is in the Guardian today, looking at the impact of Climategate, one year on. I'm not sure why everyone is doing their anniversary pieces today - isn't the anniversary tomorrow (or even Thursday)?

Hulme's piece is very thoughtful. I liked this bit particularly:

The simple linear frame of "here's the consensus science, now let's make climate policy" has lost out to the more ambiguous frame: "What combination of contested political values, diverse human ideals and emergent scientific evidence can drive climate policy?" The events of the past year have finally buried the notion that scientific predictions about future climate change can be certain or precise enough to force global policy-making.

I'm not sure that most people on the activist wing of the climate science community are in agreement with the last bit, but if true it's certainly welcome. Also worth saying that it's not obvious to me that the climate is something we really need a policy on at all.


It's Google's fault

Phil Jones also appears in the Telegraph today, where he seems to blame Google for the lack of progress in persuading people of imminent catastrophe:

Prof Jones, 58, blamed the way that research papers are posted on Google for providing people with easy access to long lists of dismissive blog postings by sceptics, while making it difficult to source original research papers that support climate change.

He said: "It’s way down there because of the way Google works. People will potentially get the misinformation first."


Submission to the BBC science review

This posting deals with a project that I have been working on with Tony Newbery of the Harmless Sky blog. Long-term readers will be aware of the story already, but it's all explained if you have only been coming here in the last twelve months. The posting here is a joint one, and has been crossposted at Tony's blog.

Over the last several years, Tony N (Harmless Sky) and I have taken a great deal of interest in the BBC’s coverage of the climate debate, and this has involved a good deal of behind-the-scenes research. So we were obviously interested when the BBC Trust announced in early January this year that they were to conduct a review of the impartiality of their science coverage.

Click to read more ...


No US Climategate probe?

Darrell Issa, the Republican leader who has in the past demanded a probe into Climategate appears to have backtracked rather. According to The Hill, Issa is now saying that while he thinks there needs to be an inquiry into the emails, this will not be his top priority.

I will have limited resources and limited time. I am looking at things that fall between the cracks, but also I am looking for the largest dollars of waste, and although this is a significant issue, it may not be the issue that first comes to my committee, and we are willing to realize that I only have so many resources and so much time.


David Holland clip

As I mentioned a few days back, David Holland was recently interviewed for a BBC East Anglia programme about Climategate. There is a very short clip here.


Jones in Nature

David Adam is a name that may well be familiar to readers here - we have come across him before in pursuit of the Institute of Physics regarding their submission to the SciTech committee inquiry, and also at one of those "how do we persuade people now they know what we're up to" meetings that were held in the wake of Climategate.

Adam has now left his position at the Guardian and has moved on to Nature, where I'm sure he will fit right in. Today he has written an in-depth interview with Phil Jones himself, which can be seen here. I found this a very frustrating experience. Take this for example:

So why did he urge colleagues to delete messages in which they discussed, among other things, the preparation of a report for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change? An attempt to thwart critics, perhaps? “That was probably just bravado at the time,” he says. “We just thought if they’re going to ask for more, we might as well not have them.”

The question we have to ask is whether David Adam was aware that the email in question had as its subject line David Holland's FOI request number the words "IPCC & FOI" - clearly relating to the request in which David Holland asked for emails relating to the IPCC assessment report.  Either way, the reader comes away from from Adam's article completely misled.


German sceptic conference

EIKE, the organisation for sceptics in Germany, is organising a conference in Berlin on 3-4 December 2010, to coincide with the global knees-up in Cancun. The meeting will be held in English and German, with simultaneous translation. Confirmed speakers include Carter, Plimer, Veizer, Singer and Svensmark.

Details here. Registration here.


Graun podcast dull

The Guardian's science podcast this week looks at the book Climate Wars by Gwynne Dyer, which looks as though it's Mark Lynas's Six Degrees all over again - the subtitle is The Fight for Survival as the World Overheats, so I think you probably know the story already. Judging from the number of reviews on Amazon (four), so does everybody else.

The podcast is rather dull in terms of its scientific content, although there's plenty to enjoy, but for all the wrong reasons. Alok Jha, the presenter and Tim Radford, who runs the Guardian Science book club, nod sagely at every single one of Dyer's predictions of doom (and he packs a great many of them in). Not a question is asked, not a hypothesis probed. With such an array of extreme predictions made, you would have thought that it would have been enlightening to challenge one or two of them - or perhaps enlightenment is not the objective. This is what groupthink looks like. 

Do have a listen, and feel free to fact-check some of Dyer's more outlandish claims.


JEG on McShane & Wyner

Julien Emile-Geay, who has been very critical of McIntyre in the past, has emerged from blogging hibernation with a posting on McShane and Wyner, the paper about multiproxy methods as seen by two professional statisticians.

JEG's post has something for everyone, but readers here will be most struck by this:

Finally, I agree with [McShane & Wyner's] main conclusion:

“the long flat handle of the hockey stick is best understood to be a feature of regression and less a reflection of our knowledge of the truth. Nevertheless, the temperatures of the last few decades have been relatively warm compared to many of the thousand year temperature curves sampled from the posterior distribution of our model.” 

That being said, it is my postulate than when climate reconstruction methods incorporate the latest advances in the field of statistics, it will indeed be found that the current warming and its rate are unprecedented…the case for it just isn’t completely airtight now.


Climate cuttings 41

This week marks the first anniversary of Climategate and it looks as though the media are not unaware of this.  As a result there are a number of stories on the climate front today.

The Guardian sets out their case that the scientists have been exonerated but that damage may have been done to "the cause". 

Booker reckons the climate change movement is dying on its feet, but says that politicians are carrying on regardless. Booker's ideas seems to be echoed by who report the Scientific American poll results and conclude that it's curtains for the warmists.

If the global warming movement is about to meet its demise, then it's probably a good idea for warmists to have their fun while the going is still good. A trip to Bangladesh to play with the idea of a court where poor countries could sue rich ones over climate change probably sounded like a good wheeze.

It was only a mock tribunal, organised by Oxfam, but it explored the growing idea that the largest carbon emitters should be bound by international law to protect the lives and livelihoods of those most at risk from the impacts of climate change.

I can hear standing orders to Oxfam being cancelled as we speak.

David Henderson has picked up on the Deutsche Bank sceptic-bashing paper and the embarrassing shambles the scientists concerned seem to have got themselves into. As Henderson asks "It would be interesting to know whether The Deutsche Bank officials who sponsored and approved this deeply flawed initiative took the precaution of submitting a draft for expert review to persons not already firmly convinced that the 'skeptics' have been refuted."

The Scotsman reports that the lights are going to go out in Scotland shortly. The politicians can't say they didn't know.



Ofcom and an Inconvenient Truth

Tony N has a must-read story about his travails with Ofcom over Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth.

This story begins with Ofcom, the public authority that enforces broadcasting legislation in the UK, telling me that Al Gore’s film, An Inconvenient Truth (AIT) is not a ‘factual documentary’, and ends with them deciding that climate change - the subject of the film - is not a matter relating to current public policy. You may well wonder how this could have happened, and it will take some time to explain.

Read the whole thing.