Wednesday, May 12, 2010

BOOK OF THE DAY: Climate Wars

Since when has a review of a two year old book qualified as an 'Opinion' piece?

Having apparently run out scary global warming pieces for the moment the IT has presented a review of a two year old book in the slot that has been used before for this purpose.

Climate Wars was first published in 2008 as for all I know may well be a very readable and credible but hypothetical examination of the effects of a significant increase in Global Temperature. But given that it was published in 2008 why should a national newspaper of record use up editorial space on it now? Why editorial space instead of the book review section?

The review itself doesn't really add much, and seems to have been written before the publication of the book itself - some quick googling revealed that the text of the review has been around for ages, if it's URL is anything to go by:

Given that ClimateGate has revealed that thanks to poor data management and politicized science the millions of euros invested in global warming research has failed to produce quality results and that we have no way of verifiying either the extent or cause of climate change I have to wonder if this book is still relevant.

Friday, May 7, 2010

More Climate Skeptic bashing at the IT...

Following hard in the heels of John Gibbons attack on Bjorn Lomborg the IT's environment reporter Frank MacDonald makes no attempt to understand the arguments advanced by skeptics in an opinion piece which is just as full of venom and short of facts as Gibbons. The title - "A dialogue of the deaf with US climate sceptics" pretty much says it all, but neglects to mention that Frank is the one who's hard of hearing...

The key questions to ask here are:

Why does Frank think the Heritage Foundation are representative of US Climate Sceptics? What not speak to Anthony Watts or the Canadian Steve McIntyre? These guys are asking hard questions which climate scientists either won't or can't answer. Why ask a bunch of DC Republican lobbyists?

Any bets on whether any letters on this are printed? I think not...

When I put it to him that the World Meteorological Organisation had identified the past decade as the warmest since records began, followed closely by the 1990s, Lieberman dismissed these findings as “grossly exaggerated” – even though they were grounded in scientific measurements taken all over the world.

This head-in-the-sand approach is reminiscent of the Birthers, a daft grassroots movement that believes Obama has no right to be president because he “wasn’t born in the US”. It simply doesn’t matter that he has a birth certificate from Hawaii and can point to a contemporaneous birth notice in one of the local papers.
Ah yes 'grounded' in 'scientific measurements'! Given the ongoing arguments about data quality in this area this is something which deserves a discussion but doesn't get it. And why the comparison with the Birthers, an openly political movement with nasty overtones?

“We care about the environment,” said nuclear specialist Jack Spencer...

Ooooh! Jack Spencer is a nuclear specialist, which presumably makes him untrustworthy by definition....

Is Osama Bin Laden Alive And Well in LA?

While visiting the UN Iran's excitable president Mahmoud Ahmadinejan advanced the novel theory that OBL is alive and well and hiding in Washington DC, according to the Guardian.

This is nonsense. The logical place for OBL is in LA, where he can pretend to be an Osama Bin Laden impersonator with impunity....All he has to do is dress normally but carry a stack of 8x10 headshots with him..

Monday, May 3, 2010

John Gibbons and Bjorn Lomborg

The IT printed a deeply unbalanced opinion piece by John Gibbons the other day. John had a fairly serious go at Bjorn Lomborg, who has had the temerity to question the status quo on human induced climate change. While one expects opinion pieces to be opinionated one doesn't expect a national 'newspaper of record' to allow a writer to falsly accuse a public figure of lying about his academic qualifications. Gibbons gave the piece the title "Exposed: Climate change doubter with a PhD only in spin". John describes Mr Mr. Lomburg as "someone without even an undergraduate degree in a physical science", when in fact he has a Phd in Political Science.

John's argument is that people without 'relevant' qualifications don't have the right to criticise people who do. I sent the letter below to the IT, which didn't get published:


The title of John Gibbons opinion piece 'Climate change doubter with PhD only in spin' (April 30) directly challenges the validity of Bjorn Lomburg's academic qualifications, yet nowhere in his article does he substantiate the serious allegation made in the article's title that Mr Lomburg is lying about his 1994 Phd in Political Science from the University of Copenhagen.

The fact that Mr. Lomburg does not hold a Gibbons-Approved qualification in climate science is not relevant and does not deny him or anyone else the right to question the reasons for climate change. I would be very surprised if the staff of your newspaper included anyone with postgraduate qualifications in Creationism, Canon Law or Eugenics, but thankfully that does not prevent your writers from casting a critical eye over such disciplines.

Carl Sagan once said that 'Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence'. The exteme sensitivity to criticism that climate scientists display, along with their documented use of dubious sources of information means that their evidence is indeed extraordinary, but for all the wrong reasons.

David Rolfe
The interesting thing is that no letters on this Opinion piece have shown up, which considering how provocative and inaccurate it is makes one wonder what goes on in the mind of the editor. It;'s a bit like the truly crazy report on the "Spirit of Ireland" scheme, which never got discussed on the letters page either despite being an announcement that coastal valleys all around Ireland were to be dammed and filled with Sea Water by vast shoals of windwills.