16 December, 2011

Prof. Plimer on His Timely Climate Primer

Scholars on Climategate

In “What’s Going on Behind the Curtain? Climategate 2.0 and Scientific Integrity”, H. Sterling Burnett, for the National Association of Scholars, writes:
Climategate, both 1 and 2, are textbook cases of gross lapses in professional ethics and scientific malfeasance.  To understand why, one must first understand what science is and how it is supposed to operate.  Science is the noble pursuit of knowledge through observation, testing and experimentation.  Scientists attempt to explain, describe and/or predict the implications of phenomena through the use of the scientific method.
The scientific method consists in gaining knowledge or explanatory power through a process.  Progress is made in science by proposing a hypothesis, and developing a theory to explain or understand certain phenomena, and then testing the hypothesis against reality.  A particular hypothesis is considered superior to others when, through testing, it is shown to have more explanatory power than competing theories or hypotheses and when other scientists running the same testing regime can reproduce the results of the original test.  Every theory or hypothesis must be disconfirmable in principle, which means that, if the theory predicts that “A” will occur under certain conditions, but instead, “B” and sometimes “C” result, then the theory has problems.  The more a hypothesis’s predictions prove inconsistent with or are diametrically opposed to the results that occur during testing, the less likely the hypothesis is to be correct.
Which brings us to Climategate.  Climategate parts one and two are a series of leaked e-mails from arguably the most prominent researchers promoting the idea that humans are causing catastrophic global warming.  The e-mails show the scientists involved to be violating their professional ethics with the result that climate science in particular and science as an institution more generally is brought into question.
The first group of e-mails released in 2009 showed scientists attempting to suppress or alter inconvenient data, destroying raw data so that others would be unable to analyze it, using tricks to change reported outcomes, conspiring to avoid legally required disclosure of taxpayer-funded data, and trying to suppress dissent by undermining the [pre-publication] peer-review process.  On the latter point the researchers involved threatened to boycott and get editors fired at journals publishing findings questioning the urgency of the climate crisis.
Climategate 2 is a second release of e-mails, in November 2011, from the same cabal of scientists exposed in Climategate 1.  There is little new to the revelations—just more hiding data, trying to figure out how to downplay dissent or [to] have papers that would seem to undermine one part or another of anthropogenic global warming theory ignored or discredited. 
To be clear, these e-mails do not disprove that humans are causing potentially catastrophic global warming.  Whether or not humans are or are not, in fact, causing or contributing to dangerous climate change, the only thing clear that emerges from the Climategate e-mails is that the scientists claiming that “the science is settled” and that there is “consensus” among scientists that humankind are acting as planet killers, can’t be trusted, nor can their research be pointed to as solid proof of anthropogenic global warming.  [...]
The term skeptic has historically been a badge of honor proudly worn by scientists as indicating their commitment to the idea that in the pursuit of truth, nothing is beyond question, every bit of knowledge is open to improvement and/or refutation as new evidence or better theories emerge.  However, in the topsy-turvy field of climate science, “skeptic” is a term of opprobrium and to be labeled a skeptic is akin to being a heretic in the Middle Ages—you may not be literally burned at the stake, but your reputation will be put to flames.
The Climategate scientists continue to claim that the actions disclosed are not [as] bad as they seem and that nothing contained in the e-mails is really important.  But this is like the Wizard of Oz saying “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain,” when in fact the real action is going on behind the curtain. 
Thanks to bingbing

UPDATE:  Kirk Myers makes a similar point in “The global warming meltdown that never was—and never will be”:
The warmists’ scientific conclusions are based purely on climate modeling, not experimentation, observation or hard empirical data.  Worse, they’ve turned the scientific method on its head.  Instead of constructing a theory and then rigorously testing and re-testing to see if it stands up to scientific examination, they start with a pre-ordained conclusion (i.e., fossil fuel-based CO2 emissions cause the earth to warm) and then manipulate and tune their computer models to churn out data that support it.  In short, human-induced global warming is the product of laboratory computer simulations and over-active imaginations; it doesn’t exist in the real world.
Piers Corbyn agrees:
Ottawa has pulled out of the 1997 anti-global warming Kyoto Protocol, saying the treaty is “not working.”  Piers Corbyn, the founder of the Weather Action Foundation, says Canada is doing the right thing.
­According to Corbyn, the solar activity—not carbon dioxide—is behind climate change.
“I don’t believe in man-made climate change because there is no evidence for it.  In fact, carbon dioxide is controlled by world temperatures rather than the other way around,” he told RT.  “Climate change is going on, and the key aspects of the big, very extreme events that happened in the last 18 months were predicted by us, the Weather Action, using solar activity.  “Carbon dioxide has zero effect, I repeat: zero effect, no effect whatsoever.”

14 December, 2011

Greg Combet Lies Again

In “We have a head start on low-carbon revolution”, the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency and smug thickhead, Greg Combet, as we might expect, emits lies and silliness.
The decision by the UN climate change conference in Durban to pursue a new global agreement for reducing greenhouse gas emissions has profound economic significance for Australia. For the first time, all of the world’s major emitters—including Australia’s two biggest trading partners, the US and China—have committed to take on legal obligations to reduce carbon pollution.  This new agreement, which is to be negotiated by 2015 and come into effect from 2020, will create a new international legal architecture for tackling climate change.
The US and China are about as likely to agree to a new agreement by 2015 as our hearing of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s invitation to President Shimon Peres to fly to Tassy in order to enjoy some nice roast-pork rolls and a few Boag’s Premium lagers for Christmas lunch with the ayatollahs.  By “emitters” the inept dullard refers, I warrant, to producers of carbon dioxide—that gas essential for life on earth—; by “carbon pollution” he means industrially-produced carbon dioxide; by “tackling climate change” he seems to mean what the current federal government means by “tackling climate change”, which is doing nothing to mitigate any adverse affects which might develop from more or less warmth or coolth but, instead, endangering the economy and raising the costs of living by, inter alia stulta, the imposition of a foolish new tax on industries.
The Durban outcome leaves no doubt that all major emitters will be part of a new legal pact on climate change.
Actually, there is much doubt, but the numbskull clearly believes in the “utter a lie often enough and people will believe it” theory.
Some people have claimed that the 2020 timeframe for a new international legal agreement is too far off and that this will be a “do nothing decade”.  This could not be further from the truth.
For “This could not be further from the truth” read “This is quite likely”.
All countries now have a clear signal that there will be a new legal framework to reduce global emissions.  The fact that this framework will be backed by legal force cannot be underestimated. It means that all countries will be legally bound to implement measures to reduce carbon pollution.
All countries which have leaders of sufficient criminal stupidity to sign new agreements to impose such a legal framework, and which also have sufficient wealth to attract the spiteful envy of poorer countries, will be legally bound to hand over even more money to the corrupt thieves of the UN whilst ruinously taxing themselves.  Note that Combet approves of unelected, arbitrarily appointed outsiders applying extrajudicial force to supposedly independent, sovereign nations.
Those countries with strong domestic climate change policies already in place—from Europe to China—have a head start on the low-carbon revolution that will occur this decade and beyond.
Those countries (including, apparently, “Europe”) which have already been conned by propagandists of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming, and by China’s self-serving claims, will buy even more giant whirligigs and solar panels from China and will therefore impoverish their own industries and make electricity even more unaffordable for their citizens.  (However, the carbon-fibre blades of the whirligigs will, we trust, be of a low-carbon carbon-fibre.)
The Gillard government’s carbon price ensures Australia is ready to meet our domestic and international commitments.
The Government’s ‘carbon’ tax impresses the corrupt governments and organisations which will extract millions of dollars from the Australian economy.
Just imagine if we had waited until 2020 before taking action.
Not only would we miss out on valuable opportunities this decade to build the jobs and industries of the future, we would face a significant economic shock when the new legal framework came into place and we had to achieve emissions cuts overnight. 
Just imagine, instead of buying more inefficient wind-turbines we could be developing our own cheaper forms of energy which this obstructionist and stupid minister refuses to countenance.
The Durban outcome builds on climate action already under way including the pledges of 90 countries to reduce emissions by 2020.
Ah, pledges from ninety countries, that must be worth something surely; after all, the Kyoto agreements have worked so very well.
The outcome in Durban confirms that by moving ahead with these reforms we are moving in step with global action on climate change.
Yes, Australia must keep “moving in step” with those countries which have demonstrated a sterling commitment to sound economics and a pursuit of scientific progress such as, say, Namibia, Nigeria or North Korea.
Within Combet’s column, the halfwit provides no details of the legal obligations and “new international legal architecture he supports; the twit furnishes no proof that any other country will do anything at all “to tackle climate change”; the lamebrain supplies no evidence but silly assertions based on his ignorantly credulous acceptance of the fraudulent conjecture of CAGW.  The man is worse than a chump:  he is a criminally incompetent, malfeasant dupe.

See Andrew Orlowski’s “Durban failed: Relax, everyone”:
At Durban, no successor emerged, and the conference attendees have simply agreed to carry on attending climate conferences.  As the UNFCC reminds us:
The 18th Conference of Parties to the UNFCCC, plus the 8th session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol), will take place in Qatar from 26 November to 7 December 2012.
Kyoto’s targets, which have been missed by almost every signatory, will be extended to 2017.  The Durban signatories made the aspiration that something should be in place by 2020, and this something should be “a new protocol, another legal instrument or agreed outcome with legal force” to be agreed by 2015.
Decisions adopted by the seventeenth session of the “Conference of the Parties” and the seventh session of the “Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties” at Durban can be downloaded from the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change homepage.

UPDATE I:  see “The Twelve Days of Durban”, by Peter C. Glover, at Energy Tribune:
Global CO2 emissions have recently hit an all-time high.  While the climate modellers have done their level best to make it appear that global temperatures have risen, the fact is that they haven’t for almost a decade and a half.  The release of a further 5,000 reputation-junking e-mails (with, allegedly, another 220,000 still unreleased) only added to the pall of deep depression that settled over the array of delegates desperate to keep alive the golden goose of public cash which keep them in business.
In truth, the run up to the conference was strewn with alarmist ‘own goals’.  In November BBC programmers were exposed for selling news slots to green campaigners, especially via the BBC World international channel.  The BBC’s flagship Frozen Planet series too was sold overseas with a ‘take-it-or-leave it’ choice over whether the package should include its final doom-laden climate change episode.  Former UK Chancellor Nigel Lawson accused writer and presenter David Attenborough of gross “sensationalism” referring, among a litany of other things, to the broadcaster’s focus on an Arctic ice melt without referring and explaining why the ice on Antarctica is expanding.
Most damaging of all, the week before the summit it was revealed that an upcoming UN IPCC report due in February would state “climate change signals are expected to be relatively small compared to natural climate variability”; for “natural variability” read “we haven’t a clue what the climate will do”.  Climate Bible heresy.  And things only got worse when Britain’s Prince Phillip blew forth that “wind farms are useless, dismissing “fairy-tale” green energy.
We also learned that where green jobs had demonstrably failed to appear, the shale gas phenomenon in the United States was now supporting 600,000 new jobs.  Also, the boom in U.S. shale oil is expanding faster than anyone predicted with yet another huge discovery recently in Colorado.  These developments augur well not only for the general reshaping of the global energy map, but in terms of massively boosting economic recovery and jobs.  It’s enough to ‘peak’ anti-oil and gas proponents.
Then, just as Durban-bound climate jetters were packing their suntan lotion, a new report by insurance giant Allianz warned how the “volatile” nature of wind and solar as sources of power creating “grid instabilities” are likely to cause “catastrophic” blackouts with multi-billion dollar consequences.
UPDATE IICanada has officially confirmed its withdrawal from Kyoto silliness:
Canada is formally withdrawing from the Kyoto accord, Environment Minister Peter Kent said Monday.
The decision to do so will save the government an estimated $14 billion in penalties, Kent said.  The Conservative government says it has no choice given the economic situation
Blaming an “incompetent Liberal government” who signed the accord and then took little action to make the necessary greenhouse gas emission cuts, Kent said he was formalizing what the Conservative government has been saying for weeks.
“Kyoto for Canada is in the past.  As such, we are invoking our legal right to formally withdraw,” Kent said.
Anthony Watts, at WUWT, reports that the UNFCCC won’t let Canada out of the Kyoto convention.  Of course, as much as he might want to impose his indomitable will, whilst polishing his ersatz Eisernes Kreuz, there’s not much any Gauleiter manqué of the UNFCCC can do—so far—; despite saying that Canada cannot cancel Kyoto collegiality, here’s the complete text of Article 27 of the Kyoto Protocol:
1.  At any time after three years from the date on which this Protocol has entered into force for a Party, that Party may withdraw from this Protocol by giving written notification to the Depositary.
2.  Any such withdrawal shall take effect upon expiry of one year from the date of receipt by the Depositary of the notification of withdrawal, or on such later date as may be specified in the notification of withdrawal.
3.  Any Party that withdraws from the Convention shall be considered as also having withdrawn from this Protocol.
UPDATE IIITerry McCrann, in The great climate change gravy train rolls on”, explains that enthusiasts for the Durban agreement are motivated by greed:
Faced with going down in history as the free-lunchers that betrayed not just this generation of climate change main-chancers, but the next free-lunching generation and indeed the generation after that, they resolutely put their snouts—sorry, their shoulders—to the wheel and ground out a deal.
Success!  Simply put, they ensured that the great climate gravy train would NOT come to a shuddering stop in Durban.  It was given a new head of steam to roll on to Qatar next year and who knows where else right through to at least 2015.  They’ve done themselves and their peer group proud.  It’s perhaps not well understood just how many billions of dollars and how many probably hundreds of thousands of main-chancers ride that gravy train.
It’s not just the billions of dollars that have been rescued for the ten thousand-plus people that most prominently ride the climate gravy train from one conference to the next.
But in the finest example of real trickle-down in action, all the people who feed off the climate hysteria and inanity beneath them.  [...]
All their dollars were at risk if the gravy train had ground to a stop in Durban.
Further, on top of all those tens of billions of wasted dollars, the single biggest prize at risk was the $US100 billion a year, EVERY YEAR, that the developed world is supposed to direct to developing nations from 2020.  [...]  For when and if the $100 billion starts flowing, precious little of it will actually end up where it is supposedly intended to go.  [...]  If the whole absurd global warming structure had come tumbling down in Durban, there was no road map to anywhere, even fictitious, the $100 billion would have evaporated like, well, any evidence of continued global warming.  [...]
Durban was not so much an exercise in re-arranging the chairs on the Titanic.  But ensuring the whisky, champagne and caviar continues to flow for those with a seat on the (very, very long) climate gravy train.  [...]
Climate Change Minister Greg Combet though, was quoted yesterday as saying Australia would not sign up to another binding target until all major emitters had also signed a legally binding treaty.
Oh yes?  Under prime minister Rudd, we made a great show of finally signing Kyoto and now, according to Combet, we are going to snub our noses at committing to cut more?  Read: increase the carbon tax.  When Europe commits to much bigger cuts in emissions, like 50% by 2025?
But in any event, that Combet cop-out would only get us to 2015.  Because that’s when Durban says we will have a binding treaty.  You must be able to “take that to the bank”, because according to Combet, Durban was a massively historic step.  It means, he was quoted as saying, “we are negotiating a legally binding agreement.”
This means that under the government’s policy when the agreement is signed in 2015, we will then have to commit to cutting our emissions not by 5% but by 25%.  And do so, in just five years, by 2020.
There are two ways of doing that.  By having such a massive carbon tax—many times the supposedly benign $23 a tonne starting point—that all our brown coal power stations close pretty much immediately and some of the black coal ones as well.  Or we cheat, by buying permits from overseas.  That is to say, we have our carbon dioxide-belching power stations and our carbon dioxide-cutting purity both.
According to Treasury, the 5% cut target would see us sending nearly $3 billion a year overseas by 2020—to buy bits of paper to give us permission to keep our lights on.  But if we aimed to cut by 25%, we would be sending more than $7 billion a year overseas.  Every year, from 2020. Just to buy meaningless bits of paper.
The carbon tax would also by then have tripled.  And these are all in today’s dollars; the actual dollars would be much higher.
Combet and Gillard can’t have it both ways.  Either we have signed on in Durban to a massive increase in our carbon tax and the virtual and very quick elimination of our cheap coal-fired power stations.  Or the whole thing is a disgraceful and very expensive charade.  There won’t be any real deal in 2015 and we will be left with a useless but punitive tax.
UPDATE IV:  Martin Nicholson, in The Australian, suggests thatNuclear power can save billions”:
Do we really want to spend $700 billion on foreign carbon permits?  According to Treasury, this is the likeliest way for Australia to meet its emissions reduction target by 2050.
Treasury modelling concludes that we would have to invest more than $700bn in overseas abatement permits to reduce carbon emissions to 80% below 2000 levels by 2050.  This is money invested in foreign projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
UPDATE Vsee Sen. Cory Bernardi’s “The Deceit at Durban”:
Our own Climate Change Minister Greg Combet said the result was a “massively historic step that has not been achieved before”.
I seem to recall the previous government mouthpiece Senator Penny Wong said a very similar thing after the failed fiasco of the Copenhagen conference—and look what came of that.  Nothing, except the scheduling of more conferences to debate the need to have even more conferences to... I am sure you get the picture.
And a gloomy picture it is for Australians who have been lumbered with Labor’s carbon tax.
The ‘success’ of Durban is an agreement to negotiate by 2015 whether to reach an agreement by 2020 about emissions reduction.  This is a sure sign that there will be no international action on carbon dioxide emissions under a government led by Julia Gillard.
But that hasn’t stopped her team from signing up to an international ‘Carbon Fund’ run by unelected bureaucrats allocating taxpayers’ money to those it determines are the climate change oppressed.  At a time when our government continues to borrow in excess of $100 million every single day, we will now be mortgaging the future of the next generation so we can send billions of dollars to some contrived overseas organisation.  Given the track record of rorts and waste in the climate change space, one can hardly be optimistic about how this money will be utilised.
UPDATE VIin the “they would say that wouldn’t they” category is this comment, deploring Canada’s rational withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol, from “Durban climate talks: Canada withdraws from Kyoto Protocol” in India Today:
The tiny South Pacific island nation of Tuvalu, one [of] those most at risk from rising sea levels caused by climate change, was more blunt.  For a vulnerable country like Tuvalu, it is an act of sabotage on our future, Ian Fry, its lead negotiator said.
Tuvalu is not at risk from rising sea levels caused by anthropogenic climate change, and any claim from the meretricious Ian Fry that richer countries have caused environmental problems in Tuvalu is motivated merely by venally opportunistic money-grubbing.  There is no noticeable, measurable rise in sea level near Tuvalu but, even if there were, as Charles Darwin shewed, and as Willis Eschenbach explains in “Floating Islands”, atolls rise along with any rise of sea level:
the idea that [atolls] will be buried by sea level rises is totally unfounded.  Despite never being more than a few metres tall, they have survived a sea level rise of up to three hundred plus feet (call it a hundred metres) within the last twenty thousand years.  Historically they have floated up higher than the peaks of drowned mountains.
UPDATE VII (15 December)how does the Australian Government’s $23 for each tonne of pretend tulip-bulb certificates look now?  According to Reuters:
EU carbon prices fell to their lowest ever level on Wednesday as the euro currency and equities slid on renewed fears over the bloc’s debt crisis and oil prices tanked after producers promised to maintain high output.
The ICE ECX December 2011 EUA contract fell 73 cents to an all-time low of 6.30 euros, down 10.4 percent on Tuesday's 7.03-euro settlement.
By 16.30 GMT, the contract had recovered slightly to 6.41 euros on healthy turnover of around 15 million units.
The drop sends the contract into unchartered territory, falling well below its previous low of 6.77 euros on December 6 as market traders saw few signs of respite in the EU economy to boost demand for emission permits.
UPDATE VIII (15 December):  see the Climate Sceptics’ “Questions for a recalcitrant Prime Minister”.

UPDATE IX (15 December)from Ben Pile at Spiked Online:
Just as with past COP meetings, despite the broad consensus on the need to save the planet and having all the best scientists available to them, the superheroes failed.  Once again, it was not climate-change deniers and secret PR campaigns funded by Big Oil companies that caused the failure.  Instead, it was the incoherence and conflicting agendas of those who wanted an agreement that made reaching one impossible.  The business of cutting CO2 emissions to save the planet turns out to be more complex than simply agreeing that it’s a good idea to do so.
For instance, among the things considered by the world’s most important people who assembled in Durban were the propositions that the ‘rights of mother Earth’ should be recognised; that international courts be established to ‘ensure respect for the intrinsic laws of nature’ and ‘to ensure harmony between humanity and nature and that their [sic] will be no commodification of the functions of nature’.  With the stench of such nebulous eco-bullshit wafting around the negotiations, it’s no surprise that the fortnight-long session had to be extended in order desperately to find some areas of agreement.
UPDATE X (15 December):  see TWAKI’s “The Durban Disaster”:
It seems the climate communists at the global warming parade refuse to give up, like snake oil salesmen insisting their their fraud is legitimate.  As the world wakes up to their lies, their proliferating NGO’s (non-government organisations) continue to scam billions from sympathetic governments who in many cases get political donations in return.  It’s called the money go-round.  Not that different to charities who pay their directors obscene salaries whilst they publicly champion causes for the poor.  […]
Whilst our homeless die from cold in the streets, the ALP encourage boat people and then grants them luxuries many Australians could only dream of.  Whilst our elderly die from cold in their beds the ALP implements its warming taxes in a cooling world and hikes up the cost of power.  Whilst the ALP calls those who demonstrate against it “extremists”, it works to shut down free speech and criticism of the government.  […]
The disconnect between the people and their so-called representatives is nothing short of disgusting, appalling and criminal.  [...]  Those in power are guilty of the greatest crimes against our nation and really should be in prison cells instead of in parliament!
UPDATE XI (15 December):  see a measured “Cooling down global warming”, by Edward Hadas, at Canada’s Financial Post:
The “Climategate” emails show scientists so passionate about their beliefs that they are unwilling to brook opposition.  Fervour seems to have led to overconfidence.  The status of the claim that recent years have been by far the warmest in a millennium has been downgraded from certain in 2001 to likely or mistaken (depending on the expert consulted).  […]
Durban is history, but the debate on global warming can still be calmed down.  Activists need to admit that both their scientific analyses and their policy recommendations have been under the spell of this sorcerer’s apprentice-model.  Rather than telling a simple tale of good (themselves) and evil (unresponsive industry and anyone who disagrees with them), they should accept that possible man-made climate change is a complex topic which deserves dispassionate study.  True, delay might prove dangerous, but so too might hasty action.  Besides, in practice, the activists’ current approach has been tried and found wanting.

UPDATE XII (16 December):  see The climate-change con artists”, by Leighton Stewart, at World Net Daily:
[Prof. Muller], like all climate-change con-artists, has avoided answering the following critical questions that are at the heart of climate change and CO2:
Why can’t warming alarmists produce a single legitimate example of empirical evidence to support the man-made global-warming hypothesis?
Why has Earth been warming for 300 years when man has only emitted measurable amounts of
CO2 into the atmosphere for the last 150 years?
Why did Earth cool for 500 years before the recent 300 year warming and warm for several hundred years before that when even the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says
CO2 levels did not change?
Why was the Mediæval Warm Period, a thousand years ago, warmer than today even though the
CO2 level was 38% lower than today?
Why did many of Earth's major glaciers in the Alps. Asia, New Zealand and Patagonia begin to retreat nearly half a century before the Industrial Revolution and man’s
CO2 emissions?
Of the last five interglacials, going back 400,000 years, why is our current interglacial the coolest of the five even though Earth’s
CO2 level is about 35% higher?
Why has our current 10,000-year-long Holocene epoch been warmer than today for 50% of the time when
CO2 levels were about 35% lower than today?
Why are correlations of Earth’s temperature with natural factors such as sunspot numbers, solar cycle lengths, solar magnetic variations and changes in major ocean currents all better than the correlation of Earth’s temperature with CO2 levels?
Until the alarmists can adequately address these questions, their quest to destroy the economies of the world, while feeding at the trough filled with taxpayer subsidies and grants, will remain in jeopardy.
UPDATE XIII (16 December):  see Junk Science:
Canada recently announced it was pulling out of the Kyoto protocol, a treaty on climate change, the first phase of which expires next year.  By way of explanation, its environment minister pointed out that the protocol does not cover the world’s largest two emitters. Indeed, America, which did not ratify the agreement, and China, which as a developing country is exempt, are responsible for 41% of the world’s CO2 emissions.  Between 1990 and 2009, China’s emissions increased by over 200% and America’s by 6.7%.  But Canada’s carbon emissions have also increased, by over 20% in the same period, far from its Kyoto target of a 6% reduction.

09 December, 2011

The Awarmist BBC and “Impartiality”

Christopher Booker’s comprehensive report, The BBC and Climate Change: A Triple Betrayal (published by the Global Warming Policy Foundation, and available hence), is essential reading, but I shall quote only from the foreword, by Sir Antony Jay:
It would be astonishing if the BBC did not have its own orthodoxy.  It has been around for 85 years, recruiting bright graduates, mostly with arts degrees, and deeply involved in current affairs issues and news reporting.  And of course for all that time it has been supported by public money.  One result of this has been an implicit belief in government funding and government regulation.  Another is a remarkable lack of interest in industry and a deep hostility to business and commerce.
At this point I have to declare an interest, or at least admit to previous.  I joined BBC television, my first job after university and National Service, in 1955, six months before the start of commercial television, and stayed for nine years as trainee, producer, editor and finally head of a production department.  I absorbed and expressed all the accepted BBC attitudes: hostility to, or at least suspicion of, America, monarchy, government, capitalism, empire, banking and the defence establishment, and in favour of the Health Service, state welfare, the social sciences, the environment and state education.  But perhaps our most powerful antagonism was directed at advertising.  This is not surprising; commercial television was the biggest threat the BBC had ever had to face. The idea that television should be financed by businessmen promoting their products for profit created in us an almost spiritual revulsion. And when our colleagues, who we had thought were good BBC men, left to join commercial broadcasters, they became pariahs. We could hardly bring ourselves to speak to them again.  They had not just gone to join a rival company; they had sinned against the true faith, they were traitors, deserters, heretics.
This deep hostility to people and organisations who made and sold things was not of course exclusive to the BBC.  It permeated a lot of upper middle class English society (and has not vanished yet).  But it was wider and deeper in the BBC than anywhere else, and it is still very much a part of the BBC ethos.  Very few of the BBC producers and executives have any real experience of the business world, and as so often happens, this ignorance, far from giving rise to doubt, increases their certainty.
We were masters of the techniques of promoting our point of view under the cloak of impartiality.  The simplest was to hold a discussion between a fluent and persuasive proponent of the view you favoured, and a humourless bigot representing the other side.  With a big story, like shale gas for example, you would choose the aspect where your case was strongest: the dangers of subsidence and water pollution, say, rather than the transformation of Britain’s energy supplies and the abandonment of wind farms and nuclear power stations.  And you could have a ‘balanced’ summary with the view you favoured coming last: not “the opposition claim that this will just make the rich richer, but the government point out that it will create 10,000 new jobs” but “the government claim it will create 10,000 new jobs, but the opposition point out that it will just make the rich richer.”  It is the last thought that stays in the mind.  It is curiously satisfying to find all these techniques still being regularly used forty seven years after I left the BBC.
The issue of man-made global warming could have been designed for the BBC.  On the one side are the industrialists, the businessmen, the giant corporations and the bankers (or at least those who are not receiving generous grants, subsidies and contracts from their government for climate-related projects such as wind farms or electric cars), on the other the environmentalists, the opponents of commercial expansion and industrial growth.  Guessing which side the BBC will be on is a no-brainer, but no one has documented it in such meticulous detail as Christopher Booker.  His case is unanswerable.  The costs to Britain of trying to combat global warming are horrifying, and the BBC’s role in promoting the alarmist cause is, quite simply, shameful.  [pp. 5-6]

05 December, 2011

Not a Sceptic

See Miranda Devine’s “Tide rises against climate lies”, in The Daily Telegraph:
Exhibit B [of the totalitarian nature of climate politics in Australia] is coastal engineer Doug Lord, former coast manager of the NSW environment department.
Amid exaggerated predictions that sea levels would rise by 75m, Lord made the career-ending mistake of actually measuring the sea level and trying to publish the results.
This caused him to be “let go” from his government job and have peer-reviewed scientific papers pulled at the last minute from a conference in Shanghai last year, from a conference in Perth in September and from a journal where they were to be published this year.
Not only that, but he was banned by his bosses at the NSW environment department from representing Engineers Australia, whose national coastal committee he chaired, at a 2009 parliamentary inquiry into managing climate change.  The irony is that he is not even a sceptic.
“I’m not a climate change sceptic.  I believe in the climate change science but I see the need for the real data to be out there,” he said.
Revolutionary concept.
See Imre Salusinszky’s “Blocked sea-level research probe” in The Australian:
Environment Minister Robyn Parker has asked department officials to explain why they put the lid on internal research that questioned catastrophic predictions of sea-level rises as a result of climate change.
A former senior researcher in the department, Doug Lord, said yesterday two papers he co-authored with colleagues and was due to present at conferences were suppressed because they suggested sea-levels on the east coast are rising at only one tenth of the rate estimated by the federal government, based on data from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Mr Lord said long-term data gleaned from gauges in Sydney Harbour suggested sea levels were rising at the rate of about 1mm per year.  This would lead to a rise of about 90mm by 2100, not the 900mm rise predicted by the IPCC.
“We can’t identify an acceleration of the rate, which doesn't mean that it’s not there,” Mr Lord told The Australian.  “But if it’s going to reach those levels, it’s got to accelerate at some time in the future.”
Mr Lord, who does not question the science of climate change, said the papers were pulled by the department at the last minute, after they had been accepted and peer-reviewed.
Mr Lord is “not a climate change sceptic”; he should be.
Mr Lord “does not question the science of climate change”; he should.

UPDATE (14 December):  even New Scientist, in its sad, decrepit dotage, can on occasion provide something worthwhile:

27 November, 2011

Climategate II: Awarmists Advised Biassed BBC

The Daily Mail’s David Rose again describes the BBC’s awarmist bias, in “BBC sought advice from global warming scientists on economy, drama, music ... and even game shows”; and, since his last article was withdrawn (at least temporarily—see “What a Shame; What a Price”), we provide a copy here:
Britain’s leading green activist research centre spent £15,000 on seminars for top BBC executives in an apparent bid to block climate change sceptics from the airwaves, a vast new cache of leaked ‘Climategate’ emails has revealed.
The emails—part of a trove of more than 5,200 messages that appear to have been stolen [or leaked] from computers at the University of East Anglia—shed light for the first time on an incestuous web of interlocking relationships between BBC journalists and the university’s scientists, which goes back more than a decade.
They show that University staff vetted BBC scripts, used their contacts at the Corporation to stop sceptics being interviewed, and were consulted about how the broadcaster should alter its programme output.
Like the first ‘Climategate’ leaks two years ago, they were placed last week on a Russian server by an anonymous source.
Again like their predecessors, they have emerged just before a United Nations climate summit, which is to start this week in Durban.
BBC insiders say the close links between the Corporation and the UEA’s two climate science departments, the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) and the Tyndall Centre for Climate Research, have had a significant impact on its coverage.
“Following their lead has meant the whole thrust and tone of BBC reporting has been that the science is  settled, and that there is no need for debate,” one journalist said.  “If you disagree, you’re branded a loony.”
In 2007, the BBC issued a formal editorial policy document, stating that “the weight of evidence no longer justifies equal space being given to the opponents of the consensus”—the view that the world faces catastrophe because of man-made carbon dioxide emissions. 
The document says the policy was decided after “a high-level seminar with some of the best scientific experts”—including those from UEA.
The ‘Climategate 2’ emails disclose that in private some of those same scientists have had doubts about aspects of the global warming case.
For example, Professor Phil Jones, the head of the CRU, admitted there was no evidence that the snows of Kilimanjaro were melting because of climate change, and he and his colleagues agreed there were serious problems with the famous ‘hockey stick’ graph—the depiction of global temperatures that suggests they were broadly level for 1,000 years until they started to rise with industrialisation.
But although there is now more scientific debate than ever about influences on climate other than CO2, prompted by the fact that the world has not warmed for fifteen years, a report from the BBC Trust this year compared climate change sceptics to the conspiracy theorists who blame America for 9/11, and said Britain’s main sceptic think-tank, the Global Warming Policy Foundation, should be given no air time.
The man at the centre of the BBC-UEA web is Roger Harrabin, the Corporation’s ‘environment analyst’, who reports for a range of programmes on radio and TV.
Last week The Mail on Sunday revealed that in 1996, he and his friend, Professor Joe Smith of the Open University, set up an informal two-man band to organise environment seminars for BBC executives.
Known as the Cambridge Media Environment Programme (CMEP), it operated until 2009, and over three years (2002 to 2005) received £15,000 from the Tyndall Centre.  Mr Harrabin did not derive personal financial benefit, although Prof Smith was paid.
Yesterday Mike Hulme, UEA’s Professor of Climate Change, who set up the centre in 2000 and was its director until 2007, said he planned to fund CMEP from Tyndall’s outset, as an “integral part of our outreach and communication strategy”. 
Mr Harrabin was also appointed to the Tyndall advisory board—an unpaid position he held for five years until 2005.
The Climategate 2 emails suggest Prof Hulme expected something in return—the slanting of BBC coverage to exclude global warming sceptics.
On February 25, 2002, the climate change sceptic Philip Stott, a London University professor, debated the subject with John Houghton of the Met Office on the Today programme.
This prompted an angry email to colleagues from Prof Hulme.  “Did anyone hear Stott vs Houghton on Today, Radio 4, this morning?” he wrote.
“Woeful stuff really.  This is one reason why Tyndall is sponsoring the Cambridge Media Environment Programme, to starve this type of reporting at source.”
Last night Prof Hulme denied he was trying to deny space to sceptics, saying: “What I wanted to ‘starve’ at source was ‘this type of reporting’—in which the important and complex issues raised by climate change are reduced to an argument between two voices representing different positions on climate science, as though there is one right and one wrong answer to climate change.” 
Far from wanting to narrow it, he said, he had tried to widen debate about the issue for years.
This was not the only time there was talk of sceptics being shut out.  On December 7, 2004, the BBC’s then-environment correspondent Alex Kirby wrote to Prof Jones.
He had, he said, succeeded in blocking one sceptic from the BBC, claiming his work was “pure stream of consciousness rubbish”.  But to his regret, he had been unable to stop a group of scientists who said there were flaws in the hockey-stick graph being featured.
“I can well understand your unhappiness at our running the other piece,” he wrote.
“But we are constantly being savaged by the loonies for not giving them any coverage at all ... and being the objective impartial (ho ho) BBC that we are, there is an expectation in some quarters that we will every now and then let them say something.  I hope though that the weight of our coverage makes it clear that we think they are talking through their hats.”
Prof Jones commented:  “I thought you exercised some caution with crackpots.”
Mr Kirby replied:  “Oh Phil, what can I say ... I hope you’ll still talk to me despite this.”
Yesterday Mr Kirby explained his joke, saying that editors often asked him to include sceptic views in his stories, in order to provide balance.
“I felt then and I feel now that it’s not our job to inject artificial balance into an unbalanced reality,” he said.
He believed scientists such as Prof Jones had got the subject “mainly right”, while those who rejected their conclusions were often not worth hearing.
In November 2008, in an email to his UEA colleague Claire Reeves, Prof Jones expressed his satisfaction that “the reporting of climate stories within the media (especially the BBC) is generally one-sided, i.e., the counter argument is rarely made”.
But alas, there was “still a vociferous and small majority [sic] of climate change sceptics ... who engage the public/govt/media through web sites”.
He suggested UEA should set up a project to curb their influence, writing:  “Issues to be addressed include:  should a vociferous minority be able to bully mainstream scientists?  Should mainstream climate scientists have to change the way they have worked for generations?”
Mr Harrabin shared his UEA contacts throughout the BBC.
For example, in October 2003 Vicki Barker, a presenter on the World Service, wrote asking to visit Prof Hulme, saying:  “My colleague Roger Harrabin suggested I contact you.  I am about to spend several months attempting to answer the following question for senior BBC managers:  If we were to reinvent economics coverage from scratch, TODAY, incorporating what we now know (or think we know) about global environmental and economic trends, what would it look like?”
She said she had noticed “environmental undertow” that was “beginning to tug at economies around the world ... I have wondered if current newsgathering practices and priorities are conveying these phenomena as effectively as they could be.  Is this a question you and some of your colleagues feel like pondering?”
The same year, BBC1 broadcast a series on the British countryside presented by Alan Titchmarsh.  The last programme presented a deeply pessimistic view of future global warming and before it was transmitted its producer, Dan Tapster, asked Prof Hulme to vet the script.
“I’d be grateful if you could send me your hourly/daily rate as a script consultant so that I can budget your time,” he wrote.  Prof Hulme said he remembered going through the script, adding that he was not being paid, and was  “certainly not an official adviser”.
Mr Harrabin knew that if he was seen to be too closely associated with green campaigners—in earlier years CMEP had accepted funding from activist organisation WWF—the impartiality he was supposed to demonstrate as a BBC reporter could be jeopardised.
In July 2004, in an email to Prof Hulme that asked him to continue funding CMEP seminars, Prof Smith explained:  “The only change I anticipate is that we won’t be asking WWF to support the seminars:  Roger particularly feels the association could be compromising to the ‘neutral’ reputation should anyone look at it closely.”
Prof Smith told Prof Hulme that the seminars’ purpose was to influence BBC output.
He spoke of finding ways of getting environmental issues into ‘mainstream’ stories “by stealth”, adding:  “‘It’s very important in my view that research feeds directly back into decision-maker conversations (policy and above all media).  I hope and think that the seminars have laid the ground for this within the BBC.  ...  There is senior BBC buy in-for the approach I want to pursue.”
Yesterday he said he had always ensured there was a range of views at the seminar, while by using the phrase “by stealth” he simply meant that “sustainability stories are elements of mainstream stories, but the complexity and uncertainty inherent in them make them difficult to report in isolation”.
In September 2001, another email reveals, Mr Harrabin and Prof Smith wrote to Prof Hulme, asking what the BBC should do  to mark a climate summit the following year.
They said his suggestions would be “circulated among relevant BBC decision-makers”, while instead of confining himself to news and current affairs, he should also feel free to recommend ideas for “drama, music, game shows”. 
Labour MP Graham Stringer last night said he would be writing this week to BBC director-general Mark Thompson to demand an investigation into the Corporation’s relationship with UEA.  “The new leaked emails show that the UEA scientists at the Tyndall Centre and the CRU acted more like campaigners than academics, and that they succeeded in an attempt to influence the output of the BBC,” Mr Stringer said.
Conservative MP David Davis said:  “Using research money to evangelise one point of view and suppress another defies everything I ever learnt about the scientific method.  These emails go to the heart of the BBC’s professed impartiality ... its actions must be investigated.”
But the BBC insisted its relationship with UEA had never been “unhealthily close”, saying it was always impartial.  A BBC spokesman said:  “We would reject the claim that the Tyndall Centre influenced BBC editorial policy.”
As for Mr Harrabin’s place on the Tyndall board and the advice he gave, he said:  “The idea was for him to look out for potential stories for the BBC and to offer academics a media perspective on climate change and policy. We do not believe that compromised impartiality.”
Mr Harrabin added:  “It was right that the BBC decided not to give sceptics parity on climate change,” saying there was a “cross-party consensus.”  But he said he had maintained they should still be given some air time.
Prof Jones was not available for comment last night.
See also Another Gem from ClimateGate II, which shews collusion between Jonathan Renouf (a BBC Series Producer) and Keith Briffa (a corrupt climatologist from the University of East Anglia’s discredited Climatic Research Unit).

One of its key supporters headed the official investigation into the so-called “Climategate emails”, producing a report which cleared experts of deliberately attempting to skew scientific results to confirm that global warming was a real threat.
Another scientific expert linked to the group came forward to praise a second independent investigation into the Climategate affair which also exonerated researchers.
Set up with the backing of Tony Blair, then the Prime Minister, and run by a group of British MPs and peers the organisation, Globe International, started life as an All Party Group based in the House of Commons.
It is now run as an international climate change lobbying group flying its supporters and experts club class to international summits to push its agenda.  Last year, it said, it spent around £500,000 flying its supporters to these meetings.
Back in February, in “The BBC became a propaganda machine for climate change zealots, says Peter Sissons ... and I was treated as a lunatic for daring to dissent”, Peter Sissons described the bias of the BBC and its increasing political correctness:
the most worrying aspect of political correctness was over the story that recurred with increasing frequency during my last ten years at the BBC—global warming (or ‘climate change’, as it became known when temperatures appeared to level off or fall slightly after 1998). 
From the beginning I was unhappy at how one-sided the BBC’s coverage of the issue was, and how much more complicated the climate system was than the over-simplified two-minute reports that were the stock-in-trade of the BBC’s environment correspondents. 
These, without exception, accepted the UN’s assurance that “the science is settled” and that human emissions of carbon dioxide threatened the world with catastrophic climate change. Environmental pressure groups could be guaranteed that their press releases, usually beginning with the words “scientists say ... ” would get on air unchallenged.
On one occasion, after the inauguration of Barack Obama as president in 2009, the science correspondent of Newsnight actually informed viewers “scientists calculate that he has just four years to save the world”.  What she didn’t tell viewers was that only one alarmist scientist, NASA’s James Hansen, had said that.
My interest in climate change grew out of my concern for the failings of BBC journalism in reporting it.  In my early and formative days at ITN, I learned that we have an obligation to report both sides of a story.  It is not journalism if you don’t.  It is close to propaganda. 
The BBC’s editorial policy on ­climate change, however, was spelled out in a report by the BBC Trust—whose job is to oversee the workings of the BBC in the interests of the public—in 2007. This disclosed that the BBC had held “a high-level seminar with some of the best scientific experts and has come to the view that the weight of evidence no longer justifies equal space being given to the opponents of the consensus”.
The error here, of course, was that the BBC never at any stage gave equal space to the opponents of the consensus.
But the Trust continued its ­pretence that climate change ­dissenters had been, and still would be, heard on its airwaves.  “Impartiality,” it said, “always requires a breadth of view, for as long as minority ­opinions are coherently and honestly expressed, the BBC must give them appropriate space.”
In reality, the “appropriate space” given to minority views on climate change was practically zero.Moreover, we were allowed to know practically nothing about that top-level seminar mentioned by the BBC Trust at which such momentous conclusions were reached.  Despite a Freedom of Information request, they wouldn’t even make the guest list public.  [...]
It’s the lack of simple curiosity about one of the great issues of our time that I find so puzzling about the BBC.  When the topic first came to ­prominence, the first thing I did was trawl the internet to find out as much as possible about it. 
Anyone who does this with a mind not closed by religious fervour will find a mass of material by respectable scientists who question the orthodoxy.  Admittedly, they are in the minority, but scepticism should be the natural instinct of scientists—and the default setting of journalists.
Yet the cream of the BBC’s inquisitors during my time there never laid a glove on those who repeated the ­mantra that “the science is settled”. On one occasion, an MP used BBC airtime to link climate change ­doubters with perverts and holocaust deniers, and his famous interviewer didn’t bat an eyelid.
Meanwhile, Al Gore, the former U.S. Vice-President and climate change campaigner, entertained the BBC’s editorial elite in his suite at the Dorchester and was given a free run to make his case to an admiring internal audience at Television Centre. 
His views were never subjected to journalistic scrutiny, even when a British High Court judge ruled that his film, An Inconvenient Truth, ­contained at least nine scientific errors, and that ministers must send new guidance to teachers before it was screened in schools.  From the BBC’s standpoint, the judgment was the real inconvenience, and its ­environment correspondents downplayed its significance.  [...]
A damaging episode illustrating the BBC’s supine attitude came in 2008, when the BBC’s ‘environment ­analyst’, Roger Harrabin, wrote a piece on the BBC website reporting some work by the World ­Meteorological Organization that questioned whether global ­warming was going to continue at the rate ­projected by the UN panel.
A green activist emailed him to complain.  Harrabin at first resisted.  Then she berated him:  “It would be better if you did not quote the sceptics”—something Harrabin had not actually done—“‘Please reserve the main BBC online channel for emerging truth.  Otherwise I would have to conclude that you are insufficiently educated to be able to know when you have been psychologically manipulated.”  [...]
Did Harrabin tell her to get lost?  He tweaked the story—albeit not as radically as she demanded—and emailed back:  “Have a look and tell me you are happier.”
This exchange went round the world in no time, spread by the ­jubilant activist.  Later, Harrabin defended himself, saying they were only minor changes—but the sense of the changes, as specifically sought by the activist, was plainly to harden the piece against the sceptics.  
Many people wouldn’t call that minor, but Harrabin’s BBC bosses accepted his explanation.
UPDATE II (8 December)see also Christopher Booker’s “BBC’s bias on global warming: An inconvenient truth on climate change:
In 2009, the BBC’s journalists could scarcely hide their dismay at the collapse of the UN’s great Copenhagen climate conference, which planned to cut the world’s ‘carbon emissions’ to such an extent it would have landed mankind with the biggest bill in history, at an estimated cost of hundreds of trillions of pounds.
They tried to brush aside the huge embarrassment of the so-called ‘Climategate’ row in 2009 when hundreds of emails from the Climate Research Unit in Norwich were posted online and which revealed how some of the top scientists had been fiddling their data.
They downplayed scandals erupting round the IPCC when it was revealed that many of its more alarming predictions had not been based on proper science at all, but only on scare stories dreamed up by environmental lobby groups.
Then, last summer, in a bid to justify its conduct, the BBC Trust commissioned one of the Corporation’s regular contributors, the geneticist Professor Steve Jones, to review its science coverage, notably on climate change.
Professor Jones made the astonishing claim that the only problem with the coverage of climate change was not that it was too biased, but that it wasn’t biased enough.
All this is why I am far from alone in concluding that the BBC’s coverage has, on this key issue of our time, gone hopelessly off the rails.  The Corporation has been guilty of three separate betrayals.
By making its coverage so flagrantly one-sided on the environment issue, it has betrayed its statutory duty to report on world events impartially.
Second, it has betrayed the basic principles of science by giving such unquestioning support to a theory which the evidence has increasingly called into doubt.
Above all, however, the BBC has betrayed the trust of its audience, by failing to give a fair and balanced picture. 
UPDATE III (9 December):  Booker’s full report, The BBC and Climate Change: A Triple Betrayal (published by the Global Warming Policy Foundation), is available hence.