Blogger Tony Newbery of Harmless Sky tried to use the Freedom of Information Act to get the BBC to reveal who were the people present at a certain seminar whose advice led the BBC to decide to adopt a pro-AGW stance. The BBC described this decisive seminar as being graced by ‘some of the best scientific experts’. Newbery had a suspicion that there were many fewer experts and many more activists than the BBC made out. One out of the few – and I think that means one out of the one – people present at the seminar with views outside the consensus, Richard D North, said as much. Presumably North either had kept no record of the exact attendance list or had an obligation to keep it confidential.
The BBC really did not want to say. Representing himself, up against the BBC’s six lawyers, Newbery, not surprisingly, lost his case at the Information Tribunal. The fact that one of the lay judges had strong views against “deniers” probably didn’t help.
Though he had started an appeal, the point became moot when Maurizio Morabito of Omnologos found the list anyway by clever use of the Wayback Machine.
Watts Up With That, Bishop Hill, and Guido all have posts. Summary: Newbery was right.
They’re all there; Greenpeace, the New Economics Foundation, the Gaian branch of the Church of England, someone from Greenpeace China, bods from Stop Climate Chaos and Tearfund, Jon Plowman, Head of Comedy…
What? Head of Comedy? Yes. One of the aims of this series of seminars was to “take this coverage [international affairs, including climate change] out of the box of news and current affairs, so that the lives of people in the rest of the world, and the issues which affect them, become a regular feature of a much wider range of BBC programmes, for example dramas and features.”
Note that even some of the sciency sounding names and job titles listed are not exactly the hardest of the hard. According to the comments at Bishop Hill among the list there is a Senior Lecturer from the OU focussing on environmentalism and politics, a Geography PhD with an interest in conservation and human rights and a lucky undergraduate from Harvard specialising in documentary film making.
Why it matters.
Fun fact: all the four big-name resignations from the BBC over the last few days (Peter Rippon, Steve Mitchell, Helen Boaden and George Enwistle) were present. Someone somewhere (I’ve lost the link, I’m afraid) mentioned the Private Eye occasional feature “Curse of Gnome”.
Balen Report next, then!
Assuming that global warming really is happening, and really is caused by man, the rich will get off nearly scot free, as usual.
Ain’t that great!
The reason that it truly is good news for all humanity is that, whereas we have scarcely an inkling as to how to stop global warming, and our efforts to change human behaviour so as to mitigate it show an unbroken record of failure in all aspects save that of making new pretexts for tyranny, we do now know how to end poverty.
Hell, we’ve done it, in the rich world. Clue’s in the name.
If you are poor in the rich world, and are annoyed at me for saying this, do feel free to write in and complain. Email in, I mean, on your computer using your broadband connection or the one provided for free in a public library.
Hell, we’ve got halfway to doing it in great swathes of what was once the poor world. Last month I read about some Parisian hotel developer who caused outrage when he said his exclusive new hotel wouldn’t be open to Chinese tourists. Then he backtracked in a hurry and said “he was referring to ‘mass tourism’ when he used the phrase ‘Chinese tourists’.” Yes, I know hundreds of millions of Chinese are still poor, but think of how far we have come when a snob thinks of the Chinese when he denigrates ‘mass tourism’. Think of how far we have come when the outrage is expressed by Chinese internet users.
Hell, but hell on earth is getting less hellish by the day. There is harder evidence for this than my little anecdote above. Look up worldwide life expectancy statistics. This despite the mad folly of the economic policy of practically every government in the world. We have got so stonkingly, gobsmackingly, tingle-down-your-leggingly good at poverty reduction over the last few decades that we can even do it with socialism round our necks. Just think what we could achieve without that millstone.
We could exterminate the poor as a class. Would that not be agreeable? Quote me on that, you global warming activists who divide your time between Copenhagen and New York; I find the poor tiresome and would rather not have them around any more. I’d rather have all the Chinese, and all the Indians, and all the Africans getting rich and flying to London to take pictures of each other in front of London landmarks, in rotation if need be. It might cause a bit of global warming. Never mind, we rich folk can live with that.
I preferred BSA when they made motorbikes.
- James P is one of many Bishop Hill commenters who is unimpressed by the activities of the British Sociological Association, who are trying to insert sociology into the CAGW debate. To make people believe in CAGW, with further doomed attempts along these lines?
When historians get around to describing the late twentieth and early twenty first century hysteria about climate, Andrew Montford will get a big mention as one of the individuals who particularly contributed to turning back this bizarre tide of irrationality.
He blogged. Then he started blogging in particular about climate. Then Climategate happened. He had meanwhile written a book about it all. He blogged some more. And now he has written another book:
Whenever I write about how blogging has made the world a significantly different and better place, the words “Bishop”, “Hill”, “Andrew” and “Montford” always seem to be included in what I put.
Says a Bishop Hill commenter:
This happy combination of headline and subheading on the Green Party home page will probably be gone by tomorrow, but if you click here and look under the heading “National news”, it says,
Global GM experiment must stop
More research into genetically-modified food and herbicides must be done, in the light of more evidence…
Via Bishop Hill, I learn that Christopher Booker has an interesting little story up about a student who got a (nearly) fail for expressing insubordinate climatic opinions in an exam.
Her son is “an excellent scientist” who got “straight As” on his other science papers, but he is also “very knowledgeable about climate change and very sceptical about man-made global warming”. His questioning of the sources earned an “E”, the lowest possible score. His mother then paid £60 for his paper to be re-marked. It was judged to be “articulate, well-structured” and clearly well-informed, but again he was marked down with “E” for fail.
I realise that the ideal to which educationalists ought, in an ideal world, to aspire to is to measure how well a student understands and can explicate a particular body of alleged knowledge, rather than merely noting whether he agrees with that alleged knowledge. But this is a lot to expect. I have always regarded exams as measuring not so much actual rightness about things, as the ability to find out what the examiners want to be told, and to put that as fluently and ingratiatingly as possible. Exams have always been about identifying articulate yes-men. It’s just that what examinees have to say yes to changes from decade to decade.
But maybe this will change with the arrival of the internet, now that anyone who gets failed for saying “no”, fluently and persuasively, can now, as in this case, expose the inevitable biases of the education system to outside scrutiny and derision.
I look forward to learning who this young man is, what he actually wrote in his exam, and more about exactly who the examiners were who failed him. If he displayed a real knowledge of official opinion about climate change, before then explaining why he did not share this opinion, he might yet come out of this spat very well, better than if he had merely got straight As.
He might, for instance, get himself a job as a scientific journalist.
According to the New York Times:
In an attempt to erase a $210,000 penalty the utility said the company owed for [over]estimating its power use, Microsoft proceeded to simply waste millions of watts of electricity, records show. Then it threatened to continue burning power in what it acknowledged was an “unnecessarily wasteful” way until the fine was substantially cut, according to documents obtained by The New York Times.
To which my initial reaction was, “hell, yes. Go Microsoft! You kick ass!”, and my more considered reaction is, yes, that is perfectly rational. Microsoft used “giant heaters” to burn $70,000 worth of electricity in three days and avoid the penalty; an impressive feat.
[Edit for clarity]: The utility “requires large industrial customers to file load forecasts each fall for the next calendar year and face a penalty if they are off by a significant margin in either direction”. Microsoft used less electricity than it forecast and realised it could just burn some up to avoid paying the penalty.
The obvious question is, why would the penalty for overestimating use be more than the cost of the estimated use? It is a question that commenters at the Verge, where I first read this story, are speculating about. My favourite comment here is a response to complaints that all the comments are excusing Microsoft: “I don’t think it’s MS apologists in this instance. They seem more like libertarians and climatology deniers.”
It could simply be that the fees really are in line with the utility’s costs, but in that case Microsoft’s actions would be nothing for anyone to complain about. It seems more likely that some sort of market distortion is going on. The “utility” in question is Grant County Public Utility District, tagline “Community Owned and Operated”. Perhaps there are some clues there.
The Verge also reports on a New York Times crusade against the energy cost of the Internet. Sigh.
Catastrophiliac. I like it. I found this word, which is new to me, in comment number one (“Mailman”) on this at Bishop Hill.
I like it because, as I keep on saying, climate change on its own is not the issue. The issue is catastrophic climate change, of the sort that would-be global tyrants think is a good excuse for global tyranny.
But there is now no getting away from it. The catastrophiliacs are now on the run. Just how completely they are on the run, and just how quickly this fact will become obvious to all, even to most of the catastrophiliacs themselves, are of course matters for much debate, but the direction of argumentative tide is now clear, even to the less dense catastrophiliacs. Regular people and regular politicians more and more now think that C(atastrophic) A(nthropogenic) G(lobal) W(arming) is at best an embarrassment and, in ever more such regular minds, a total crock, a fraud, a hoax. Only the “climate scientists” and their pathetic would-be globally tyrannical fans are still yammering on about it.
It’s not that CAGW and all its related rackets have entirely ceased from doing the world any harm. Far from it. But, to use a commercial analogy, CAGW is now what a business strategist would call a “mature product”, a cash cow, a product whose days are numbered. Attention now needs to switch to the products that might succeed CAGW when CAGW finally runs out of puff.
So, next question, what will be the next Big Tyranny Excuse from the would-be global tyrants for the global tyranny that they yearn for? I believe it will not be anything to do with “the environment”. We anti-global tyranny people have now become just too good at arguing against all that stuff.
No, it will be something totally different, and when they finally arrive at it, it will be quite a surprise.
Meanwhile, the Darwinian process of kite-flying (please excuse the mangling of those metaphors) will now get seriously under way, to identify the next Big Tyranny Excuse. This new BTE will have to be something catastrophic, something that is plausibly arguable as the fault of “capitalism” (which rules out things like asteroid strikes or the sun misbehaving dramatically), something which suggests a plausible, pleasingly tyrannical, and actually doable – but only just doable, provided we all drop everything (especially our guard against tyranny) and act now!!! – correction mechanism, and too intellectually complicated to be obvious nonsense.
They will need to discover or establish a whole new academic anti-discipline to base their nonsense on. But what will that be?
Once upon a time it was theology. Then it was economics, as mangled by Marx and then by Keynes. Just lately it has been “the environment”. (Arguably it never stopped being theology, more loosely defined.) What next? Any offers?
Incoming from Michael Jennings, in the form of a link to this:
How many months do we still have to save the world from verbal catastrophe?
This August researchers making a first analysis of data from the European Space Agency’s observation satellite CryoSat-2 were startled to find that the loss of sea ice – as measured both by depth, and by area – was far more dramatic than their own forecasts had predicted. The summer Arctic could be an open sea within a decade.
Guardian editorial, 17 September 2012
Despite having a belief in CAGW two-and-a-half letters to the left of most commenters on this blog, it told me something about my own beliefs that my first thought when I saw this was “why have they reverted to making their bets public, short term and easy to measure? I thought they had given that up after the Himalayan Glaciers fiasco.” Only later did it occur to me that “they” might be making this public prediction because they believed it.
ADDED LATER: 2022? No, 2016. Right or wrong, and I am inclined to think “wrong”, kudos to Professor Peter Wadhams for not hedging.
James Delingpole surely spoke for many in fearing that one Owen Paterson does not make a summer of sane energy policy. Nevertheless, as Bishop Hill notes, Paterson has been talking sense, to Farmer’s Weekly:
From my own direct constituency experience I don’t personally think that inland wind farms are effective at reducing carbon. I don’t even think they are effective at producing energy.
A BH commenter desribed that as:
… the kick in the groin that the wind energy sector has so long deserved.
I hope it hurts.
More from Delingpole, about one of the many creatures that the Paterson tendency is up against, here.
LATER from Christopher Booker:
What they could not have expected was Mr Davey’s response. He trenchantly dismissed their calls, restating his view that we urgently need a massive new investment in gas generation. Only after 2030 would this require the “carbon capture and storage” that, as Mr Davey has already admitted, is still an “unproven technology” (and is likely to remain so). So the first message of last week was that the once hugely influential Climate Change Committee in effect has been kicked into touch. In the name of keeping Britain’s economy running, the Government seems now determined to break its own law.
What makes all this even more significant, however, is that it is taking place against the background of a truly astonishing worldwide energy revolution. As can be seen from the website of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, country after country is now rushing to exploit the shale gas that, in the past four years, has more than halved gas prices in the US. China, Germany, France, Russia, South Africa and others all have immense reserves that promise to provide the world with cheap energy for centuries to come. And, here in Britain, determined moves are at last being made to reverse the Government’s grudging negativity towards our own vast shale gas reserves, led by our new Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson, who seems to be winning surprising support for his enthusiasm for shale gas from key officials in his own department and the Environment Agency, which has regulatory responsibility for this new industry.
After years when our energy policy was being dictated by green wishful thinking, by the likes of Lord Deben and by state-subsidised pressure groups such as Friends of the Earth (which first invented, then helped to draft, the Climate Change Act), reality is at long last breaking in. The green make-believe that has cast such a malign spell over our country for far too long is finally on the run. Truly, last week was history being made.
Those are the concluding paragraphs of a piece well worth reading in full. The times they are a-changing.
Professor Stephan Lewandowsky and two colleagues from the University of Western Australia published a paper called ‘NASA faked the moon landing – Therefore (Climate) Science is a Hoax:An Anatomy of the Motivated Rejection of Science’.
Johnathan Pearce mentioned it in this post. As I said in the comments, Bishop Hill and other sceptical blogs made scathing criticisms of the survey. For instance, according to Australian Climate Madness, the headline finding about disbelief in the moon landings was produced from a mere ten responses, some or all of which looked likely to be jokers. The whole internet survey had only about 1100 self-selected responses. That self-selection makes it about as reliable as the surveys of the readers of bridal magazines that claim that the average cost of a wedding is £20,273 in the UK, or $26,501 in the US and are every year quoted as fact by credulous journalists.
To their credit, some commenters from the warmist side of the aisle also queried the obviously leading questions. Questions were asked from all sides as to why almost no effort seems to have been made to gather responses from AGW-sceptic blogs, leaving the sceptic responders to come almost entirely from those controversialists who post at warmist blogs. There was a farcical subplot in which Lewandowsky initially refused to reveal which sceptical blogs he had contacted. He does not seem to have asked many of the biggest sceptical blogs, such as Watts Up With That?, or to have made more than token efforts to get noticed by those sceptic blogs he did contact. Shall I go on? There was no option for “don’t know” or “no opinion” in the survey questions. The conspiracies chosen were mainly “right wing” conspiracies, such as Birtherism, rather than “left wing” ones, such as those relating to “Big Oil”. There were inadequate safeguards against multiple returns by the same person, or joke returns by any person. Different versions of the survey were sent out to different people – but not randomly, which would have been defensible; rather some blogs got one version and others got another. Results were being discussed online while the survey was still open, corrupting later responses. I will stop there. If you want to read more, just Google “Lewandowsky”.
Professor Lewandowsky’s response to criticism was revealing.
If I am not mistaken, I can indeed confirm that there were 4—not 3—versions of the survey (unless that was the number of my birth certificates, I am never quite sure, so many numbers to keep track of… Mr. McIntyre’s dog misplaced an email under a pastrami sandwich a mere 8.9253077595543363 days ago, and I have grown at least one tail and several new horns over the last few days, all of which are frightfully independent and hard to keep track of).
Finally this new friend from Conspirania is getting some legs.
About time, too, I was getting lonely.
Astute readers will have noted that if the Survey ID’s from above are vertically concatenated and then viewed backwards at 33 rpm, they read “Mitt Romney was born in North Korea.”
To understand the relevance of Mr Romney’s place of birth requires a secret code word. This code word, provided below, ought to be committed to memory before burning this post.
So here it is, the secret code. Read it backwards: gnicnalabretnuoc.
Translations are available in any textbook for Methodology 101.
Don’t give up the day job, Professor. On second thoughts, maybe a career in comedy is the way to go. There was a time when a scientist responding to criticism in such a fashion would have had a career change forced upon him.
This survey was published in the journal Psychological Science.
Reported seriously in the Telegraph and other newspapers.
Peer reviewed and everything.
It does make you wonder. Compared to most readers of this blog, I am still a warmist. But ever since I first saw the term “climate denier” I have worried about what an opinion becoming a cause would do to scientists. I feared, and still do fear, that if having a certain scientific opinion can get a scientist bracketed with Holocaust deniers, then perhaps researchers might unconsciously shy away from results that might have that result. Now that fear is joined by another. As for sticks, so for carrots. If a scientist can be published and lauded for coming up with the equivalent of “nine out of ten cats we tested prefer KittyTwinks to swamp mud” so long as his or her findings promote the Cause, then perhaps researchers might unconsciously prefer results that get that result.