Wednesday, 30 June 2010

BBC goes not-so warmist? [update 2]

BBC’s Panorama programme has done the free world a great favour.  Last night Channel Warmist  undertook to look at how e-mails from the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit caused the climate change debate to turn nasty, and (following their balanced charter)  sought to suss out “both sides” on the climate debate post-ClimateGate.

WATCH: How 'climate-gate' turned nasty- video preview

It was carefully done. Tom Heap tackled the debate over the certainty, or not, of the global warming hypothesis, by emulating Top Gear’s ‘Cool Wall’ to produce a heavily simplified ‘Wall of Certainty,’ on which their interviewees placed their answers to Heap’s questions.

Which is a very cool idea—although as atmospheric scientist John Christy points out, there is no category for “I Don’t Know” on the wall, which is where he would put the crucial “Is it us?” question; and, too, there’s a lot of fudging about what each of the little markers means.

The end result of which is co-opting sober statistician Bjorn Lomborg and sensible scientist John Christy into appearing to confirm the warmist mantra.

Yet even as mild and slanted as this is, it still got some British warmists apoplectic.

One thing the BBC reporter might have mentioned, but didn’t, is that a large part of the £8 billion BBC Pension Fund is invested in carbon credits … indeed, the head of the BBC Pension Fund is the chair of the (Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC) in which much of the money is invested.  Which somewhat gives the lie to the BBC’s talk of neutrality on the issue.

UPDATE 1: Skeptic site Bishop Hill thought the programme “toe-curlingly awful.” From the comments:

  •     “The programme gave the impression that even skeptics agreed on the scientific arguments for AGW by carefully avoiding asking the right questions, their chain of logic went: "Is CO2 a greenhouse gas... does human activity generate CO2...has human activity contributed to global warming ..?" Leading to even the skeptics interviewed answering "Yes" and the uninformed viewer wondering why the skeptics were rocking the boat of scientific consensus.
        “The missing question was ‘has human activity contributed significantly to dangerous levels of global warming?,’ and that was carefully never asked.”
  • “Just watched it. Very superficial even by the BBCs low standard.”
  • “How utterly dumb. Panorama used to be an hour long, didn't it? Now they struggle to produce a narrative for half that time that would prove interesting to the intellectually subnormal.  The world really is going to hell in a handcart. But not from CO2 emissions.”
  • “I found the questioning of the public and the questioning of the experts on how likely climate change was manmade, very frustrating. The public had one simple question which either made them out to be thick or to be on the side of the great and the good. When the questions were put to the experts, they were re-worded to allow for the obvious nuances with the issue.”
  • “Would I be over cynical if I observed that it has taken [Michael] Mann 12 years to notice that the Hockey Stick has been over hyped.”

UPDATE 2: Hockey-stick producer Michael Mann was interviewed on the programme, expressing surprise that his infamous Hockey Stick (the one that “hid the decline”) was made “an icon of the climate change debate.”

_Quote … Prof Mann, a climatologist at Pennsylvania State University, said he had always made clear there were ‘uncertainties’ in his work.
    “’I always thought it was somewhat misplaced to make it a central icon of the climate change debate,’ he said.
    “In a BBC Panorama programme, scientists from both sides of the debate agree that global warming is happening and it is at least partly caused by mankind.
    “But they differ on how much the recent rise in temperature has been caused by man made emissions and what will happen in the future.
    “Professor John Christy, an atmospheric scientist from the University of Huntsville in Alabama, said just a quarter of the current warming is caused by man made emissions. He said that 10 to 30 per cent of scientists agree with him and are fairly sceptical about the extent of man made global warming…”

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