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Discussion > BBC Climate doom cult - Inside Science

Yesterday Tamsin Edwards was on Radio 4's "Inside science" talking about Antarctic melting and sea level rise.
Most of what Tamsin said seemed OK but what struck me was the doom-cult mindset of presenter Adam Rutherford who seemed determined to present everything as worse-than-we-thought.

After that story there was another one about climate, in which they desperately tried to twist the good news greening story into bad news.

This was followed by the antibiotic superbug scare story, at which point I switched off.

May 20, 2016 at 9:15 AM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

Comments from unthreaded, which I hadn't read befre posting my thoughts above.

I agree entirely with Harry Passfield:
"Tamsin Edwards was on R4's Inside Science at 4:30 this PM. The presenter, speaking in 'end of world' tone asked Tamsin about temp rises and sea-level rise. In her pitch, she confirmed to him that temp is going to continue going up for years and years to come - and only 10% was natural - and that sea level would also rise.

I thought the presenter was going to wet himself with pleasure as he asked Tamsin how she knew that the Antarctic ice sheet was going to melt and cause such catastrophe (more than a billion coastal dwellers at risk of flooding). Her response was not that she had made observations of the Antarctic melting, but that she had run her models 3,000 times and they showed that sea level was going to rise.

Most annoyingly, and predictably, the presenter did not press her on the models (though Tamsin did talk about error bars), nor did he put the rises in context: like how long all this is likely to take. And although the pause was mentioned it was dismissed as being just a glitch in a short-term weather pattern, whereas, as Tamsin said, climate is all about long-term patterns of weather. She didn't say 30 years, just that it's a long time.

And no balancing POV to challenge the points made."

May 20, 2016 at 9:17 AM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

M Courtney:
"I heard the interview and thought it was hilarious.

The key point being that no predictions could be tested - natural variations overwhelm all. At least in the observable time periods.
Tamsin was right when she said that we can't determine what effect El Nino is having and what anything else is doing.
We just have to wait a century and then things will be as the models predict.

It was analogous to the difference between Astronomy and Astrology.
Astrology also makes no testable predictions. We just have to accept that we will meet the Tall Dark Stranger eventually but we can't possibly know when or where. Just like Climatology.

And not like Astronomy. Because Astronomy is not pseudo-science."

May 20, 2016 at 9:26 AM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

The BBC and climate science have to rely on computer models, because they have no evidence to back up anything they claim, about anything now, being anything different, to anything in history.

The evidence for historic changes in climate did not occur in the home video era, so is forgotten.

May 20, 2016 at 10:03 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

@Paul A few times at live shows I I've sat 2m away from Adam Rutherford
One time he said "We won't be hearing any of that climate skeptic nonsense here"
That confirmed my prior opinion that he is a full on blinkered true-believer.

That back story is that the perfectly good science show Material World had aired some more balanced climate items. The whole show was then ended (presenter kicked off into rare appearances) and replaced with the new one fronted by Adam Rutherford as if the section head wanted the slot to be fronted by a climate evangelist.

I have observed that some BHers have a soft spot for Tamsin, but I don't find her a reliable source. She is not an evangelist, but seems to be stuck in climate cult world. So I don't expect much of her media appearances.

May 20, 2016 at 10:06 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Hey Stewgreen, your last phrase "I have observed that some BHers have a soft spot for Tamsin, but I don't find her a reliable source. She is not an evangelist, but seems to be stuck in climate cult world. So I don't expect much of her media appearances." was actually used on a slide by Tamsin last week when she gave a lecture at the British Festival of Science !

About 10 minutes in, she produced a slide about all the bodies she works/engage with, and at the bottom was a screenshot of your phrase. She made a point that against advice she engages with sceptics and then read that phrase out. Maybe she wanted to say "See, those sceptics are not nice to me, so don't worry I am definitely not a sceptic myself"

Sep 15, 2016 at 11:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaul walker

I am definitely not a sceptic myself
Which is tantamount to an admission that she is not a scientist, as ALL scientists should be sceptics. Stewgreen’s words prove oh-so-prophetic; odd how sceptics have more reliable projections for the future than alarmists.

Sep 16, 2016 at 1:41 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

Tamsin can hardly be criticized for what someone else thought she might be saying/thinking. The full quotation, from Paul Walker was - Maybe she wanted to say "See, those sceptics are not nice to me, so don't worry I am definitely not a sceptic myself" (stress the word "maybe").

Even if she had said/thought it, given the context and the audience, it is capable of different interpretations.

Sep 16, 2016 at 2:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterACK

Good point, Minty; I should have read the post more thoroughly. I shall blame it on distractions. However, she had “made a point that against advice she engages with sceptics” [sic] (my bolding), thus it could be construed that she considers “engaging with sceptics” something that should be avoided. However, as any TRUE scientist should be sceptical by nature, this does imply that she has been advised not to engage with scientifically-minded people, and that is a concept that she seems to have no problem coming to terms with, though is prepared to admit that she does actually engage with sceptics, and her behaviour is anomalous with climate “science”.

Sorry, but “engaging with sceptics” is what science is ALL about!

Sep 16, 2016 at 2:41 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

RR. Oh my, we are learning how to be both right and wrong. Perhaps consorting with the likes of Phil Clarke is having a good/bad effect on you.

Sep 16, 2016 at 2:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterACK

Me....? Wrong...? ME....?

How very dare you?!

I may not be right... but, wrong...? I'm just.......... misunderstood.

Sep 16, 2016 at 3:30 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

Definitely a bad effect

Sep 16, 2016 at 3:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterACK


Sep 16, 2016 at 4:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterRadical Rodent

Thank’s @PaulW that’s bizarre, but I already knew
Bottomline despite Tamsin trying hard to be objective that description I gave above does seem to have been proved right.

That it got used on a slide is not the only bizarre coincidence .. I was actually in Swansea for the festival, but I stay away from the climate alarmism lectures, cos they so often seem like propaganda exercises preaching to the converted with tightly controlled questioning etc.
But I have been briefed about Tamsin’s lecture (which was about her teams research into modelling a possible tipping point scenario of an ice sheet in a particular part of the West Antarctic Ice Shelf, in Antarctica), cos two friends went, one a secret skeptic and the other a CAGW True-Believer..

Look at my description that she quoted.. Yet there is something heavily ironic ..Turns out she tried to be moderate in the lecture, but automatically slotted into to using one of the cult’s most common tricks.

Indeed the night before I had said to my two friends, especially the True-Believer. “Look there is a trick that use : They start by talking about the ice loss in the Arctic which they conveniently calculate from the historic high ice point at the beginning of the satellite era. They need to gloss over the modern era ice growth at the Antarctic, so they move quickly on to the talking about one particular place in the Antarctic ..a particular spot in the West Antarctic ice shelf where indeed ice is dropping..due to something..maybe an underwater volcano …they won’t talk about the rest.”

“Stew, unbelievable she pulled that trick you mentioned !” My skeptic friend said *
(* Apparently my True-Believer friend is so pissed off that that happened he will no longer talk to me…probably in denial I guess.)
Now if we can see that there must have been people in t hat lecture who could see that also.

Seems in so many other aspects she played calm saying : “Ice Free Arctic wouldn’t come until 2050, Peter Wadhams is a bit crazy etc.” “The overall sea level rise even accounting for Ice sliding in a particular part of West Antarctic ice shelf will only be 1.5m by 2100..Athough other similar ice shelves might start sliding and this can only lead to irreversible catastrophe in the long run.” (I’m paraphrasing from my friend’s notes)

So surprisingly she spent the first 10 minutes of a lecture about a particular area of the West Antarctic Ice Shelf, talking about the Arctic instead !
Additionally she quoted an Eskimo saying sea and lake ice falling was now affecting fishing. (Climate attribution is a thing to be careful about)

Now I would have thought that in a talk about her work of modelling the ice sheets in a particular region of the Antarctic she would have covered the CONTEXTS
#1 Whole world ice loss,
#2 mention Arctic,
#3 Mention ice growth over the whole of Antarctic
#4 Context that with the West Antarctic ice loss in that particular special area.

You’d mention your modelling that had been proved right before.

So she spent the first 10 mins of the lecture NOT talking about the Antarctic, but rather showing dramatic slides of Arctic ice loss, then broke to talk about science outreach.(That‘s when the slide had my BH quote). Then spent the remaining 25 mins talking about modelling that special area.

This particular modelling is about a special kind of glacier which gets a gully underneath the base. The theory being that warmer sea water comes in thus ever widening the gully. This “Grounding Line Retreat” is a self sustaining process as more glacier drops into the sea the more the sea undermines it.
And that eventually this causes the huge glacier into the sea, and that this process is certain and IRREVERSIBLE. Really ? I makes me wonder : if the same effect doesn’t ever work in reverse? Like can glaciers only grow slowly or could not entire estuaries get blocked at the mouth and quickly become a glacier ?

She showed a world sea level rise chart of the mid 4/6ths of Sea Level scenarios (IPCC) 0.3 to 1m by 2100.*
She said the catastrophic glacier fall on that special part of the West Antarctic Ice Shelf could push it to 1 to 1.5m by 2100
(* OK looking at his notes we’ve got that she said 5% confidence interval for above 30cm rise, surely that’s a typo and means 95% confidence interval)
Talked about adding Bayesian weighting to climate models

Cos she only talked about this glacier loss we don’t know if she didn’t account for ice the Antarctic gains on it’s mountains; like doesn’t that take water from the sea and lower it ?

She finished up by saying after the first one the same “Grounding Line Retreat” glacier fail would/could happen first in other places in the West Antarctic Ice sheet, then over more places in the whole of the Antarctic…Hmm seems speculative to me.
After the lecture there were only 2 questions ..From True believers he said, but he didn’t write them down.
And then everyone rushed off to other lectures.

Sep 18, 2016 at 11:38 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

ah There is one other thing
@Paul Matthews she made a point at the end of saying how proud she was of her 3? segments with Adam Rutherford on Inside Science ..and put the URL's up on the last slide.

Sep 18, 2016 at 11:44 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Stew, yes I think you've just about covered it, although I didn't keep notes myself.
I wouldn't have called it a Climate Alarmist lecture, she wasn't like a raving Greenpeace type lecturer.
but yes the stunt would have pleased climate alarmists in the audience; doom is what they wanted to hear.

There was a thing close to the end; after finishing talking about that specific glacier she had the slide of the Antarctic map on the screen and started implying that was the tipping point. And started pointing around the map, "and next it will happen here", "then it could happen here" etc.etc.

I hadn't realised there would be other sceptics there, we should've met up.

Sep 19, 2016 at 10:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterPaul Walker

I have qualms about back seat driving what is researchers business, but the tax payer does ultimately pay for it and the laws/policies based on it.

Look the Earth could be destroyed by an asteroid.
I am not saying that catastrophic event is in an impossibility, and that we should never think about it.

Here Tamsin’s team are talking modelling the possibility of catastrophic glacier collapse in the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, which they reckon could be a TIPPING POINT raising sea level and setting off a series of similar glaciers.
And I am not saying that could never happen, even tho for other things other unthought of forces seem to crop up pushing the “domino” the other way (negative feedbacks etc)
But he point is with if you are going to make extraordinary claims like “this starts a tipping point”, you need to show extraordinarily robust evidence.
You can’t do the headless chicken thing of running around saying we are all going to die, cos that damages the credibility of science. Neither should you be doing a toned down version of that where the context is skewed as you omit talking about Antarctic ice gain (even our Gavin’s twisted Alarmist PR machine called NASA admit that “A new NASA study says that an increase in Antarctic snow accumulation that began 10,000 years ago is currently adding enough ice to the continent to outweigh the increased losses from its thinning glaciers” Oct 2015)

@PaulW My take away from that lecture is :
- The omit talk of Antarctic ice gain trick.
- That her Eskimo weakened hunting example, was not robust attribution of ice loss climate change.
(It’s like counting glaciers that decay, but not those that grow.. Possibly Ice decays in one areas and grows in others in super long term cycles)
- I would have asked about negative feedbacks as well as negative ones , eg their point is melting glaciers raise the sea causing more glaciers to be undermined, but surely if huge glaciers collapse I guess you end up cooling the sea with all kinds of secondary effects.
- That 1.5m by 2100 doesn’t seem like a great problem compared to existing IPCC projections of 1m ..It’s not like the 10m predictions we have heard elsewhere.
- There wasn’t any real world validating of the models was there ? You’d expect them to be able to quote a clear past event perhaps like a smaller glacier which decayed and collapsed during the time they were monitoring it or one in the past.

- If you are going to make extraordinary claims like “this starts a tipping point”, you need to show extraordinarily robust evidence ..and it seems to me there wasn‘t .
- Contexting is so important : #1 about today’s rates of ice loss #2 what a 1.5m sea level rise means
and #3 What catastrophe means..It’s too easy to be black and white.

To understand different levels of catastrophe, take scenarios of volcano going off
#1 ..but you’ve got all the people out or into shelters
#2 preparations and thousands die
… well you rebuild over decades and life goes on
#3 ..It’s a super volcano ..and you lose 2 summers
…likewise .. Over decades life goes on.
#4 It’s so powerful ..It wipes out humanity
… In the long run the planet goes on.. And you might have human genes stored in space etc.
#5 It’s so powerful ..It wipes out the entire planet.
..OK that is genuinely catastrophic.
Scenarios need to be contexted against the costs of preventing them.

And we are back to is 1.5 sea level rise a big deal ?
In contexting you have to think whether it’s worth spending money now or saving it for when you are more certain. Looking at the new Panama Canal project makes me think there is immense scope for re-engineering to lower world sea level. Even parts of the The Vestfold Hills in the Antarctic are 30m below sea level. The shoreline of the Dead Sea is approximately 413 meters below sea level. World list of places below sea level
I guess you could set a process to continually mine the bottom of the sea, so deepening it.

Sep 20, 2016 at 11:47 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

There is truth, and there is narrative. And since some people can end up in a bubble world they can all too easily drift into keeping to narrative,but from the outside that can be spotted. That is the danger of not properly engaging with the outside.

Sep 20, 2016 at 1:49 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

The BBC has always been biased on this and other subjects.

Newbies will not be aware of the Trust declarations or the report by Steve Jones.
They will not know about the decision to ban effectively any criticism of climate change theory.

Don't take my word for it. Try this test:

Look for BBC reports that question the CO2 total control of climate change. You will not find any.

Look for the daily crisis within the NHS.
When there is no NHS crisis on a particular day, look for the one reported by the BBC based on an FOI request by the BBC. The BBC trawl FOI results for a crisis to maintain the daily theme.

Whenever there is any anti-immigration sentiment in the news, look for the pro-immigration campaign launched by the BBC to influence public opinion with lots of positive immigration stories and interviews.

The culturally ingrained BBC bias in these matters becomes obvious when you look out for them. Don't believe me, check them out for yourself.

Sep 23, 2016 at 7:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat