Some grudging kudos is due to the BBC for a detailed airing of the sceptical viewpoint on the Today programme on Radio 4 this morning. They even interviewed ‘Sceptical Blogger’ Andrew Montford (Bishop Hill) – who made a great contribution. Pity it was an exercise in reassuring the public that sceptical views are probably wrong.
The usual suspects in authority such as Sir John Houghton (“first chair of the IPCC”) were trotted out, and apparently we will be treated to James Hansen’s views too:
Trying to look positively at the piece, at least the fact that there are other views was discussed. In that sense at least the scientific debate was presented and treated the listener as an intelligent being by acknowledging that there are many best guesses in science and great uncertainty.
The thrust of the piece was examining reasons for ‘the pause’. The Bish suggested a pragmatic response of abandoning the more stringent mitigation efforts based on economics, since it now seems that warming is more likely to be at the lower end of the estimated range. All the arguments for continued alarm were trotted out – 400ppm CO2 last seen when ‘crocodiles roamed the Arctic’; the sensitivity debate; heat hiding in the ocean; increases in ‘extreme weather’; the sun, clouds and so on.
After the uncertainties were acknowledged came huge efforts by Roger Harrabin in reassuring listeners that warming will resume and we are still on track for a catastrophe.
Why this piece and why now? The BBC senses that the public is feeling the cold and is not buying the ‘hot hot hot’ meme any more. The ‘cooling caused by warming’ message is getting a lukewarm reception. We have long memories.
Here’s a tip Auntie – don’t underestimate the average listener. The man in the street will take from the piece what he wants to hear.