Archive for February, 2006
Posted on February 21st, 2006 by Pali Gap No Comments
The Sunday Times, London February 19 2006. A big two page spread titled “The Climate Of Fear“.
There’s an excellent Simpsons episode in which Bart becomes a TV journalist and brilliantly mimics the faux-concerned, hand-wringing tone of news reporters. As I read the first paragraph of this article it was Bart’s voice intoning in my head:
“It should have been a chill midwinter day in St Louis as Professor James Zachos laid out his findings last week on how the world could be about to change for ever. But as the expert in earth sciences addressed the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) on the dangers of climate change, the weather was noticeably warm and muggy”
A deeply significant harbinger of doom or what!
Yet this article was not all hot air and tosh. In a rare show of balance space was given over to the views of Richard Lindzen (professor of atmospheric physics at MIT) and Philip Stott (emeritus professor of bio-geography at the University of London). The latter was especially good on “apocalypticism“:
“The language of climate change is also becoming religious. Part of the myth is that it has to be our sin that causes it. The second part of the myth is that you have to offer up a sacrifice — and here we have to flagellate ourselves, cut down on products, stop the car, actually sacrifice to the earth.”
But no sooner do you read that than up pops Bart Simpson again (aka journalists Jonathan Leake & Jonathan Milne):
“Lindzen and Stott, however, are part of a tiny minority, with most scientific experts accepting that climate change is a serious threat”
How often that mantra is repeated! Could it be false?
Posted on February 12th, 2006 by Pali Gap No Comments
Oh dear. A UK government web site reports that UK “Climate Change Minister” Elliot Morley is recruiting kids to “act as the voices of climate change in their region”.
Why kids? Do they have some special insight? Er no – but they are “useful” to the likes of comrade Morley in a way that Joseph Goebbels would have readily understood.
“The South West climate change champion will spend a year ‘in office’ helping to spread the word about climate change to their communities through local activities. They will also have a number of engagements throughout the year, including a fact-finding tour to Switzerland to witness the effects of climate change at the Gurschen glacier. They will also have the opportunity to meet with a senior Government Minister to discuss climate change in the UK”
(To be a “champion” seems to be the latest corporate/public sector/political gobbledygook wheeze!)
The web site reporting this is the charmingly named “DEFRA” – Department for Environment, Food And Rural Affairs (South West). On the site, the starting brief for aspiring champions is this:
The South West climate change facts
If action isn’t taken, greenhouse gas emissions could lead to the following changes:
* Coastal erosion
* Potential issue of water availability in the summer.
* Increasing pressure on infrastructure due to an increase in tourism
* Increase in river and urban flooding with winters wetter by between 5-15 per cent by the year 2050s
I started to imagine how this might turn out if their appointed champion is a little free-thinking!
It was a great honour to be appointed your South West Climate Change Champion. However it is with regret that I wish to resign my post.
My first problem was with your plan to fly me to Switzerland to witness a melting glacier. I’m sorry I had to decline. You see my research has shown me that air travel (much favoured by ministers and civil servants) is a prime example of wasteful planet-damaging carbon emissions. In my position as “champion” I did not wish to appear hypocritical to the public that you would have me “educate”. In fact young as I am, I am quite capable of absorbing knowledge from a book or from my multimedia PC rather than from expensive, unproductive fact-finding “jollies” abroad – so this is what I have been doing instead.
As we all know the South West UK is primarily a farming, fishing and tourism region. It is one of the poorer regions in the country. My research has indicated that the main contribution of the region to global warming is probably the methane from flatulent cows. I believe your organisation DEFRA regulates the farming industry, so you might want to consider restricting cattle farming as a remedy. My enquiries with local farmers suggest that their businesses are so precarious at present (as a result of DEFRA’s policies they say!) that a few more regulations on your part could easily result in a big reduction in livestock farming. If you replace the bourgeois aesthetic of green fields with some inspiring industrial wind farms this could both reduce methane emissions and generate a little energy (when the wind blows).
In your brief you mention “coastal erosion” – presumably from raised sea levels caused by global warming? I’m afraid I have been unable to discover any scientific research to suggest a change in the rate of coastal erosion in our region. Perhaps you could point me in the right direction? However I have learnt some amazing things! I never knew for example how warm our region was in the Middle Ages. And I have been astonished to discover that my village (near Truro) was a thriving sea port not so long ago, but is completely landlocked now. It seems that Henry VIII was able to sail from Falmouth right up what is now farmer Jethro’s field. It is apparent then that the good folk of our region have been coping very well with quite extreme changes in climate and sea level for many centuries (nay millenia!). They didn’t need a “climate change champion” then; and I’m not sure they would welcome one now.
Then there’s the point about “increasing pressure on infrastructure due to an increase in tourism”. You see a lot of people I’ve interviewed think this would be a jolly good thing. Are DEFRA against increased tourism? (If that’s really your policy then if you proceed with my wind farm suggestion I’m sure you would achieve your goal of less tourism!)
Finally – the last straw – the stuff about winters becoming wetter (and warmer). In this winter of 2006, when the South of England is threatened by drought and has experienced exceptional cold, I just find it too embarrassing to attempt to champion the idea of combatting wetter, warmer winters.
So – Sorry! – I’m afraid I just have to give up.
ex SW Champion
Posted on February 2nd, 2006 by Pali Gap No Comments
A while back there was an article published in the New Scientist titled “Silencing the climate sceptics” (4 June 2005 issue 2502 p.14). Now, when I visit the online archive I see that this has been altered to “New probe may silence climate sceptics” (here).
Now why would that happen? I think I know!
The original title was something of a fraud. The article (by Duncan Graham-Rowe) was actually about a proposed method to increase the accuracy of satellite data. No new data had yet arrived. Obviously no open-minded person would presume to know a priori how that data would turn out.
Not so in the case of Mr Duncan-Rowe!
“Those who deny global warming is happening often rely on somewhat error-prone satellite information about our planet…a proposed probe could put an end to the climate change debate”
Well yes – if the data comes out in the wash the way he approves. If it doesn’t then I guess Duncan-Rowe will once again come over all a priori and assume we need yet even more accurate data (until he gets the result he wants).
Anyhoo, feeling not a little incensed when I read the original article, I put pen to paper and wrote to New Scientist. I have always felt that the magazine is soft on global warming, so I was pleased and a little surprised to see my letter published:
“Satellite data has failed so far to deliver the results that advocates of global warming would like. Presumably there is something wrong with the data. So it was good to read the article by Duncan Graham-Rowe about a proposed method to increase the accuracy of the instruments (4 June, p 14). But before giving the article the title “Silencing the climate sceptics” shouldn’t he have waited for the new and improved data to come in?” (18 June 2005)
Now, praise be, it seems Duncan-Rowe has moderated his language and altered the title of his article! Could that be because of my letter? Well maybe, who knows. But is Duncan-Rowe (issue 2) really so very much more reasonable and objective than Duncan-Rowe (issue 1)? I think not.
Why for goodness sake must he insist on prefacing a perfectly sensible and interesting article about the difficulties of satellite measurement with such a prejudicial title? After all consider these three candidates for the title:
- New probe may silence climate sceptics
- New probe may refute claims of global warming
- New probe may provide better data to test global warming claim
So which title would be appropriate – especially for a scientific magazine? Well if science means anything it surely means that you maintain an open mind ahead of the facts. I would think that makes the choice of title a bit of a no-brainer!
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