Balanced analysis?

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:

Harrabin tweet


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.

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18 Responses to Balanced analysis?

  1. grumpydenier says:

    It’s enough that they’ve faced the fact that there may not be the ‘rock-solid’ consensus of old. A complete volte face will take time but, compared to earlier rants, this must be classed as a step in the right direction.

    One key point, I think, is that the alarmists will NOT be able to avoid debate. They will have to step up to the plate when a sceptic’s views are heard and then they will start to be seen for what they are. Unlike Gavin Schmidt who couldn’t face dealing with Roy Spencer, recently.

    Softly, softly, catchy monkey.

    • Verity Jones says:

      Yes, in some ways the broadcast was remarkable for its balance. At least the alternative views were aired and, as you quite rightly say, that acknowledgement that they exist opens up the debate. If scientists dismiss out of hand the questions that arise, they will start to lose credibility. The question they will be asked is “Why are some people sceptical?” and an answer that tries to gloss over the reasons, will not reflect well on them.

  2. mwhite says:

    Heard the piece on the way to work. I hope I hear the next episode when the full effect of the negative PDO and AMO exerts their influence. The likes of .Roger Harrabin are going to look pretty stupid as temperatures return to those last seen in the 1970s. Add to that the possibility of a return to little ice age conditions, reputations will be in tatters.

  3. mwhite says:

    Is it me, or is the North Atlantic cooling down???

    • Verity Jones says:

      Oh well spotted. I was keeping an eye on the SST for a while anticipating cooling, but hadn’t checked for a while. The next 12 months and more are going to be interesting.

  4. We all know the CAGW cause is lost but that is no reason to slow down.

    Every year the Malthusian elitists at the IPCC retain their influence on energy policies around the world means another mountain of money wasted on a non-problem while real problems are ignored.

  5. Tonyb says:


    I missed the programme unfortunately.

    We have hundreds of years of climate records in Britain if only the powers that be would take their noses out of their computers and look at them.

    Here is CET to 1538 graphed together with co2 concentration. Curiously! as co2 rises , temperatures in Britain are falling. I know from my own research that the period around 1500, Around 1300 and 900 to 1200 were as warm or warmer than today.

    It is very difficult to discern the effects of co2 once we have concentrations of 280/300ppm


  6. Stephen Fox says:

    Thank you Verity for listening to the Today programme so we don’t have to.
    I fear though that a 1 mile thick ice sheet will need to be somewhere around Hendon before the ‘team players’ and ‘safe pairs of hands’ at the Beeb begin to accept that CAGW is wrong. They will never admit that it was always really a political project, with no basis in falsifiable science.
    So depressing, the whole thing…

    • Verity Jones says:

      Er, well, it is our choice for radio alarm. My husband says he can only lie and listen to it for a few minutes then he has to get up before he smashes the radio against the wall. Very effective.

  7. The Beeb did not give the Bish much time. It would have been fun to have him debate Hansen. As it was, Hansen got enough time to make a fool of himself. Let me paraphrase a couple of gems:

    “CO2 is not the only factor….there is natural variability as well….it is a complicated system”
    “Our understanding is based on Earth’s history rather than climate models…..”

    Will the IPCC reflect these admissions in AR5? I doubt it but we don’t have long to wait.

  8. PeterMG says:

    “Why this piece and why now?” The public mood in the UK has changed significantly on climate change but I don’t think it is because the public at large is significantly more informed. I think the public has always been more informed than the BBC and those in the political bubble realise, but what has changed is our economic wellbeing. That has taken a nosedive, and when the public looks around for a cause, especially in the UK we see our energy costs as a more than significant influence on this change. From there it doesn’t take great intellect to join up the dots. I find those who are still relatively well-off less likely to have worked out why energy is so expensive and more likely to support saving the planet. It is still fashionable amongst the elites.

    We are at a very dangerous point in the climate debate and risk getting sucked into supporting incorrect science, and as a consequence made to look foolish having our credibility destroyed in the process. Listening to the interview it struck me that the entire thing was so much tosh and there was no factual information in the whole piece, being no more than an appeal to authority. For instance the comment from Harrabin stating that the chemistry of the sea is changing and the sceptical community never mentions this is designed not to inform but to ridicule. The whole terminology is designed to confuse and relies on the fact that so few remember the obscure parts of the biology and chemistry they did at school. More people are likely to understand what an acid is as opposed to an alkali, despite the fact that a mild alkali is more dangerous to life than a mild acid. After all our bodies are full of acids, not alkalis, and what impact would saying the sea is turning less alkali and becoming neutral, as compared to acidification of the sea which is scientifically incorrect but scary in an immature sort of way.

    Also the statement that everyone agrees that CO2 is the key to the earth’s temperature needs qualification, and no one from the sceptical community should agree with that statement on its own, yet I have foolishly heard many do so. If we are looking at 10 years, or 100 years or 1000 years and even 10,000 years perhaps, CO2 is NOT the most important driver, or even a significant decider of the earth’s temperature in of itself. Even if CO2 changed from 400ppm to 800 ppm over 100 years it’s going to have little direct effect on the temperature. It’s only over geological time that CO2 can significantly change the effect of the earth’s atmosphere adding bulk and weight via volcanic activity to increase temperature due to increased pressure, or being used up by life where the pressure drops over geological time thus reducing temperature. This is the pattern we see when we look back at the earth’s geological history. Oxygen levels will increase and decrease according to how much CO2 and life is about, but I believe must remain below a maximum ratio similar to today to prevent spontaneous combustion. Over the shorter timescales that the climate community rabbit on about it’s the oceans, cosmic rays, the Sun, and the planets etc that are the fine tuners of our climate. Hence the fact that warming has stopped and the climate communities continued puzzlement.

    The sceptical community has spent too many years arguing about temperature, initially very necessary to illustrate the manipulation that was going on, when we should have spent more time looking at how CO2 works in the atmosphere, and going back to the year dot 4.5 billion years ago and trying to map our atmospheric changes over this time. But we haven’t and now when the debate suddenly shifts from temperature to CO2 not enough thought has gone in by the sceptic community and just about every commentator tells a different story because they bang on about climate sensitivity which I believe is a completely bogus notion. It implies that the Arrhenius theory has a validity that it does not deserve.

    In a nutshell I see that danger is that people who invested so much time ensuring they were high on detail about short term temperature changes are going to suddenly believe they will carry the same authority when it comes to discussing CO2 and may just find they undo much of the excellent work that has been done by not understand the science and agreeing with a false consensus.

  9. The Alarmists don’t talk about CAGW (Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming) any more because it simply is not happening. They noticed that the more they talked about “Warming” the less it happened (aka “The Gore Effect”). Solution; stop talking about it!

    Now they talk about “Weather Extremes”. Mother nature mocks them by delivering no major hurricanes to the USA since 2005 and that was Katrina, a mere “Cat 3” hurricane when it made landfall. None of the subsequent hurricanes have matched it.

    Ninety percent of the world’s tornados occur in the USA, The huge number of tornado deaths in 2011 was trumpeted as evidence of CAGW. From January through May 2011, 543 people died in tornados compared to 9 in 2013 until the recent Oklahoma tornados with a death toll of 51 and counting.

    The Alarmists are running out of things to be alarmed about. The last IPCC assessment report (AR4) predicted a sea level rise of 1.2 meters by 2100. Look for a slightly more sane 0.3 meters in the AR5 report due in September.

    The IPCC says that the ice sheets are melting at the horrific rate of 251 +/- 65 Gt/year (AR5 WG1 chapter 3 second order draft). This sounds pretty scary if you don’t know that the global “Ice Inventory” is over 30,000,000 Gt.

    So what’s left? The IPCC wants you to be alarmed at “Ocean Acidification”. The IPCC predicts that by 2100 the pH of the oceans will average 7.75 – 8.05. Don’t take my word for it. Look at Figure SPM.5 here (page 24):

    So when will the pH of the oceans become neutral (pH = 7)? At the present rate it could take anything from 400 to 10,000 years depending on whether you keep your SUV or trade it in for a bicycle.

  10. D Cotton says:

    [Snip – Off Topic and self-promotion again]

    • Doug Cotton says:

      My “promotion” is only in the interests of truth. Those in developing countries will suffer, and many will die as a result of misplaced “humanitarian” aid. I would hope this blog does not join the ranks of other rejecting blogs who will be named in my book and articles.

  11. Doug Cotton says:

    I wonder how Dr Roy Spencer’s influence may change after these events …

    It is interesting to note that Dr Spencer plans doing an experiment with four metal plates, and he asked for predictions. Here’s my comment which was not accepted on his blog, because he has decided, like Anthony Watts, Judith Curry, John Cook, Jeff Conlon and some others to block my explanations of what is really happening. These explanations and published articles thereon are the result of thousands of hours of research into climatology, and then an application of valid physics to the atmospheres, surfaces and sub-surface regions of not only Earth, but other planets from which much can be learnt.

    Here, for the public record, is the rejected comment …

    Radation from a cooler source can and will slow the radiative cooling of a warmer body. Roy’s experiment is merely showing what physicists and engineers have known for over a century.

    However, such radiation can never have any effect on the rate of cooling by other processes, conduction, evaporative cooling etc.

    In Roy’s experiment there will be conduction into the air molecules that collide with the large surfaces of the plates. This may mostly compensate, but there will probably be a slight net difference in rates of cooling.

    It proves nothing, however, in regard to climate, partly because the plates are so much hotter than the Earth’s surface that the percentage of radiative cooling versus non-radiative cooling will be significantly greater. But there are more significant reasons as to why mean surface temperatures are not determined by radiation at all. Temperatures on Uranus easily demonstrate this point.

    See this comment and the next one of mine on that thread.

    Doug Cotton

  12. Doug

    Weren’t you supposed to be having open heart surgery a month or two ago?. Presumably it went ahead and you are recovering well?

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