A Weblog monitoring coverage of environmental issues and science in the UK media. By Professor Emeritus Philip Stott. The aim is to assess whether a subject is being fairly covered by press, radio, and television. Above all, the Weblog will focus on science, but not just on poor science. It will also bring to public notice good science that is being ignored because it may be politically inconvenient.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

A most quotable week.....

Here are some most quotable quotes from this last week's climates of opinion:
* "It is strange that the climate reconstruction of Mann has passed both peer review rounds of the IPCC without anyone ever really having checked it. I think this issue will be on the agenda of the next IPCC meeting in Peking in May." (Rob van Dorland, Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute, 27 January 2005);

* "Today’s temperatures are supposedly higher than at any time in the past thousand years. This claim is the central pillar of the Kyoto Protocol, which takes effect this month. It is largely based on the celebrated ‘hockey stick’ graph of temperature history since the year 1000, published by Michael Mann and colleagues in 1998 and 1999. However, according to Canadian researchers Stephen McIntyre and Ross McKitrick, Mann’s hockey stick is no more than a statistical artefact. Their quest to verify the accuracy of this pivotal study of global warming raises questions about the integrity of world climate research." (Marcel Crok, Natuurwetenschap & Techniek [.pdf], February 2005);

* "The IPCC is monolithic and complacent, and it is conceivable that they are exaggerating the speed of change." (John Maddox, a former highly-respected editor of the journal Nature, quoted by David Adam in The Guardian, 28 January 2005);

* "So it would be true to say the evidence [for dangerous global warming] is still disputed. It would be wrong to say that the evidence of danger is not clearly and persuasively advocated by a very large number of entirely independent and compelling voices. They are the majority. The majority is not always right; but they deserve to be listened to." (Tony Blair at the World Economic Forum in Davos, 26 January 2005).

All most interesting. I wonder if, at the very peak of the ecohype, the tapestry of the great 'global warming' myth is just beginning to unravel a tad? There appears to be quite a lot of weft and warp, not to mention weaving, going on.

Philip, catching up, between football, on posts. That was never a penalty against Portsmouth this afternoon! "Lost yer specs, ref!" (Hat tip to CCNet for the fascinating quotations.)

Friday, January 28, 2005

Ah! Is the British government adapting at last?.... and chiropteran climates.....

Good old Alex K. tells it all: 'UK works for climate adaptation' (BBC Science/Nature Online News, January 27):

"The British government says it is now working on a strategy to adapt to the effects of increasing climate change.

Efforts have till now been focused on trying to avert the prospect through reducing emissions of the greenhouse gases scientists say are responsible.

The environment department says it is committed to publish the adaptation strategy before the end of this year."

And clearly we should be expecting more bats in the belfry: 'Bat evolution linked to warming' (BBC Science/Nature Online News, January 28):

"A sharp rise in global temperatures about 50 million years ago may have been responsible for the evolution of bats, Science magazine reports.

This warming is linked to an explosion in the diversity of other mammals, but little was known about bat evolution.

New DNA data traces the origin of four major bat lineages to a brief period in the Eocene epoch when the average global temperature rose by about 7C.

Bats make up 20% of mammals, yet their evolutionary history is poorly known."

Well, one always knew that some aspects of current climate-change theory were distinctly batty! No doubt we'll soon be hearing about the dangers of more vampires from chiropteran climate change!

Philip, apologies for the short blog today. Off to speak to a bunch of lively students at Brunel University. "Have a nice day!"

Thursday, January 27, 2005

'Global warming' sceptics meet in London.....

Here is the initial BBC report of the Scientific Alliance's meeting entitled 'Apocalypse No' held in London today: 'Science sceptics meet on climate' (BBC Science/Nature Online News, January 27):

"The meeting takes place shortly before the Hadley Centre, part of the UK Met Office, hosts a conference on the science of climate change, from 1 to 3 February.

The Scientific Alliance hopes to address issues it fears will not be addressed by the Hadley Centre participants.

Dr Benny Peiser, one of the speakers at the London meeting, told the BBC: 'We are concerned the Hadley Centre conference will ignore key questions, particularly regarding the alarmist nature of future predictions.

It's important for people to know there are eminent scientists who don't share this viewpoint.'"

Absolutely. It will be illuminating to observe how little the media want to hear so sane a message rather than all the ecohype and hysteria.

Philip, independent of all groups, but with the argument here. Tea and Choral Evensong (from yesterday) on Radio 3. How soothing and civilized.
Come on you cavaliers - let's enrage those puritans.....

The more I listen to the rhetoric of Tony Blair, 'Davos Man' as Anatole Kaletsky in today's The Times so appositely dubs him, the more I feel he makes Oliver Cromwell seem positively cavalier. Mind you, when it comes to action, that is another story.

Nevertheless, like so many of you, I know, I have had a belly full of the 'global warming' pieties, enough indeed to last me a lifetime. I think it's the moment to have some cavalier fun. So, why not:

* Go out and buy the biggest patio heater you can find;
* Do fly to that friend's wedding in Vancouver and tell George Monbiot to go and jump off Folly Bridge or Iffley Lock;
* Buy a historic house in which you can resist installing double glazing on heritage grounds;
* Do buy your daughter a SUV so that she is better protected and can have a clearer view of the road and the maniacs who drive on it;
* On every occasion, and at every dinner party (especially in Islington or East Anglia), do feel free to point out that wind farms destroy 'wilderness' and that nuclear power is the only option if you really do foolishly believe that you can do 'something' predictable about climate change;
* Support vigorously the development of Airbus A380 (just following Mr. Blair's example, of course);
* Point out to folk that increasing emissions of carbon dioxide reflect sound economic growth and demonstrate that the UK economy is not doing too badly despite all the ecohype and hysteria ("Good old Gordon!" He never mentions 'global warming', you might observe);
* Point out on every occasion possible that you can't abide the hypocritical piousness whereby Europe lectures the world while happily increasing its own emissions;
* Shop with open pleasure at lovely malls like Bluewater in Kent (safe, clean, good for single mums, for mums and dads with pushchairs, and fun);
* Refuse to sink into a puritan slough of despond full of gloom and doom. Light a nice warming fire with either The Independent or The Groaniad; then listen to Alfred Brendel playing Schubert. Ah! 'Global warming' - what a load of ....

Philip - Bluewater is great, by the way. Don't let the liberal elites and architectural snobs at the The Gloomiad tell you otherwise. Just time for coffee under the patio heater.....

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Deconstructing the International Climate Change Taskforce.....

The Diplomad blog has done us all a service by deconstructing without mercy the dire report from the ever-so-self-important International Climate Change Taskforce: 'Fight global warming: turn on the A/C & open the windows' (The Diplomad, January 26). Here is a sample:

"'While no amount of climate change is safe [my italic] and many communities, such as those in Arctic regions and low-lying island states, are already experiencing adverse impacts, scientific evidence suggests that there is a threshold of temperature increase above which the extent and magnitude of the impacts of climate change increase sharply. No one can say with certainty what that threshold is, but it is important that we make an educated judgment at this time based on the best available science.'"

NO CLIMATE CHANGE AT ALL! The world's climate has NEVER EVER changed -- until evil man showed up and started doing stuff. And while 'scientific evidence suggests a threshold of temperature' we have no friggin idea what it is, but we're not going to be deterred from doing something just because we don't know what we're doing!"

Now read the whole. It brings tears to the eyes. Sadly, however, this is too serious to laugh away. How can we allow such shallow stuff to mould world policies? The fight for sanity is both urgent and desperate. The real danger is not climate change, but such pontificating puritans, if that is not an oxymoron.

Additionally, read the further cruel deconstruction by Tim Worstall: 'Meeting the climate challenge?' (TCS, January 25):

"Another day, another report on global warming and climate change. (Sigh)....."

"Allow me to translate that for you. We have decided to take an arbitrary number, 2 oC, set the baseline at the bottom of the Little Ice Age, immediately after the Maunder Minimum, mix in every scare story we can think of to scare the f[a]ecal matter out of you rubes and if you don't listen carefully to us important people we'll hold our breaths until we turn blue. (We might also note that no one, no one at all, thinks that human influence on the climate started in 1750 AD. Try 8,000 BC with the invention of agriculture.)"

Philip, increasingly angry that science can be so abused. We must keep on fighting for sanity. But lunch first, of course.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

What a load of crystal balls.....

During the last two weeks, the British media has gone utterly bonkers over 'global warming' and they have threatened us with every manner of future climatic disaster. Just feel free to take your pick from the following:-

(1) we will become a desert, with our land as cracked and as parched as a pub without warm beer;

(2) we will suffer more and more devastating floods and flooding as precipitation levels increase, so that only the web-footed folk of remote Fenland villages will be able to survive;

(3) we are just about managing to stave off another Ice Age by our mammoth emissions of carbon dioxide and methane, but an Ice Age is still due and we are inhabiting Cold Comfort Farm;

(4) we are about to suffer an immediate plunge into an Ice Age world through the dilution of the Gulf Stream effect so that Vera Drake's soap-and-water will be frozen in the syringe before she can do any more damage.

What a load of old crystal balls! Madame Zara at the Midsomer Annual Fete could do better, if she were not, of course, first murdered by a ball from the coconut shy (Americans will have to await 'Masterpiece Theatre' to understand this reference to jolly old Blighty).

But more seriously: does this bring any credibility to science? It is a disgrace and a farce; the climate-change debate in the UK is becoming more risible by the day both for scientists and for the media. I do hope the British public can see through the miasma. I am sorry Mr. Blair: your climate-change hysteria is going to end in tears before bedtime.

Philip, watching the farce from the wings with increasing despair. This is a no star production. Coffee mate?
May I invite you once more to the 'Home Planet' for a chat?.....

The new Series of the critical environmental programme, 'Home Planet', continues today on BBC Radio 4. The Series runs for 12 more Tuesdays.

If you are in the UK, the programme is broadcast on BBC Radio 4 every Tuesday afternoon at 15.02 GMT, directly after the news summary; if you are outside the UK, you may listen to it, online, via the BBC 'Home Planet' Web Page:

(a) on the day in question at 15.02 BST, choose the 'Listen Live' button; or, (b) for one week after the first broadcast, choose the 'Listen Again' button; or, (c) after one whole week, select the relevant date under 'Previous Programmes'.

This week's topics include: great crested newts; the Severn Estuary; seals; fireflies; and clothes moths - a veritable cornucopia of Natural History. Do not miss it.

Philip, still not moth-balled, but no longer quite as flashy as a male firefly.

Monday, January 24, 2005

It's Monday, January 24: "We're doomed, I say. Doomed!".....

Today, the British press plumbs the absolute depths of apocalyptic apoplexy, with the totally barmy Independent winning outright (as ever) The Private Fraser(1) Dad's Army "We're doomed, I say. Doomed!" Prize:-

* In The Independent we're all doomed (inevitably) through extreme 'global warming' (utter bunkum from the science to the economics, of course): 'Countdown to global catastrophe' (The Independent, January 24);

* In The Guardian, a fraction more realistically, it's the 'flu virus: 'Flu feared more than terror attack' (The Guardian, January 24); and,

* In the dire Daily Express (of course), it's asylum seekers and migrants: 'Election war on migrant madness' (The Daily Express, January 24).

However, perhaps this is all not too surprising as Dr. Cliff Arnall of Cardiff University (reported in many papers, including The Times) has calculated that Monday, January 24 is the most depressing day of the year, using the formula: [W+(D-d)xTQMxNA], where W = the weather; (D-d) your post-Christmas credit card debt; T = time elapsed from Christmas/New Year boozing; Q = time elapsed from breaking your New Year resolution(s); M = early Monday morning motivation levels; and, NA = the nagging level to cheer yourself up.

Clearly, he should have added, Pb, namely 'how much you read the British Press', with a special weighting factor for anybody who is stupid enough to indulge in perusing the mad and apocalyptic Independent.

My recommendation for it all: ignore the lot and just get on with living your life; treat yourself to Clint Eastwood's masterly new film, Million Dollar Baby (quite superb - oscars, surely, all round); then come home and ignite a nice warming fire with an unread copy of The Independent.

Bingo. "And joy shall be yours in the morning!"

Philip, after coffee, off to broadcast. (1) If you're from Oz, then it's the "'We'll all be rooned,' said Hanrahan/In accents most forlorn" Prize (from: Said Hanrahan, by John O'Brien: hat tip to Barry Hearn).

[New counter, June 19, 2006, with loss of some data]

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