|In the climate-change debate, the companies on the ‘environmental’ side have the most to gain. |
First in a series.
By Lawrence Solomon
e all know that the financial stakes are enormous in the global warming debate — many oil, coal and power companies are at risk should carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases get regulated in a manner that harms their bottom line. The potential losses of an Exxon or a Shell are chump change, however, compared to the fortunes to be made from those very same regulations.
The climate-change industry — the scientists, lawyers, consultants, lobbyists and, most importantly, the multinationals that work behind the scenes to cash in on the riches at stake — has emerged as the world’s largest industry. Virtually every resident in the developed world feels the bite of this industry, often unknowingly, through the hidden surcharges on their food bills, their gas and electricity rates, their gasoline purchases, their automobiles, their garbage collection, their insurance, their computers purchases, their hotels, their purchases of just about every good and service, in fact, and finally, their taxes to governments at all levels.
From Canada's Financial Post
Sunday, May 31, 2009
Of all the drippy and naive fools who ended up in the Australian Democrats, Lyn Allison was probably the drippiest and most naively foolish.
She produces an opinion piece in The Age that would embarrass a first year politics undergraduate.
As Andrew Bolt sets out below, she simply refuses to acknowledge what are now the known facts about Fallujah, especially the false claims about the use of white phosphorous.
It is now known that the Iraqi doctor who claimed to have pictures of people who had died of phosphorous burns was linked to Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath Party and that the pictures were of people in an advanced state of decomposition, not with phosphorous burns. This particular false claim was put to bed years ago, and yet this idiot still hasn't caught up!
But Allison is typical of so much of the so-called humanitarian and progressive Left. The truth will never be allowed to get in the way of hypocritical attention seeking moralising.
No wonder this spectacularly foolish woman lead the Democrats to their richly deserved political demise.
Lyn Allison, who led the Australian Democrats into oblivion, now wants to put on trial one of our most decorated and senior soldiers. She writes in The Age a piece that no al Qaida sympathiser could have put better:
I wonder of Allison could be sued for suggesting so lightly - and with such wilfull contempt for the facts - that Molan is a war criminal.
Allison’s claim that white phosphorus was used as an offensive weapon in a “hopeless” effort to drive terrorists from Fallujah already shows how little respect she has for facts or the truth. White phosphorus is actually a screening agent, and not banned by any international convention, and clearing terrorists from Fallujah was not “hopeless’’ but one of the turning points of this war. Nor could Allison provide a skerrick of proof for her suggestion that the US casually and knowingly killed reporters - a baseless claim that cost CNN’s head of news, Eason Jordan, his job.
Molan in his autobiography Running the War in Iraq adds even more important facts that Allison so irresponsibly omitted or ignored.
Fallujah was in fact a city that had been captured by thousands of Islamist terrorists and insurgents, including al Qaida, who had brutally cowed the inhabitants, and were using it as a base for terrorist operations throughout Iraq, killing many hundreds of civilians, Iraqi public servants, Iraqi police and Coalition soldiers. After its liberation, Coalition forces discovered 19 “factories” for making bombs, 229 ammunition and weapons caches, and eight houses for holding, torturing and executing hostages. Some 3000 insurgents died in the battle, as did 72 Coalition soldiers.
The decision to liberate Fallujah was made by the Iraqi Government, and only after a prolonged ceasefire had failed to bring peace.
Repeated and extensive efforts over many weeks were made to warn the civilians to leave the city, and the attacks only started after the Coalition headquarters, where Molan served as chief of operations (not, as Allison claims, head of the Fallujah operation), was convinced most had indeed left. Allison’s figure of up to 50,000 civilians is pure conjection, and almost certainly a gross exaggeration. Molan also spends many pages in his book outlining the precautions the Coalition forces took to minimise civilian casualties, even when it meant exposing their own soldiers to greater risk.
The Coalition was so open to scrutiny that 90 reporters and cameramen were allowed to observe the operation.
The hospital Allison mentions had been used for months by the insurgents as a base and a propaganda station, with “doctors” unknown to any Iraqi medical organisation holding press conferences on Coalition “atrocities” like the “white phosphorus” beatup Allison unquestioningly adopts. Insurgents launched attacks from several medical centres in Fallujah, knowing the Coalition would think twice before firing on such buildings and would be condemned by a terrorist apologist such as Allison if they did. Molan says that of the three medical centres his troops were accused of damaging, two had been used by terrorists for offensive firing positions, and the third had not been used as a health clinic for years and was not one of the sites the Iraqi Government had listed as a protected medical facility. Among the patients found in the hospital were many injured men suspected of being insurgents and terrorists. Molan adds that 66 of the city’s 166 or so mosques were also used by the terrorists to store weapons or to shoot from - another insight into how prepared they were to use civilians and their sanctuaries as shields.
Anyone reading Molan’s detailed book would be in no doubt of the care taken by the Caolition to avoid harm to civilians, while clearing a city of some of the most barbaric terrorists in our time. Knowing him personally, I can vouch for his integrity and compassion. For Allison to so viciously smear Molan on such trumped up charges, and in such wilful ignorance, is the true crime.
And that The Age publishes it… Let them now pray that violent-minded men with a taste for vengeance not read this trash and believe it.
Kevin Rudd’s reputation as a mere spinner is going international. Zhu Feng, deputy director of the School of International Studies at Peking University, hardens his attack on the Prime Minister, in words picked up by Malaysia’s New Straits Times:
The Chinese can see it, even if some of our most prominent journalists can't (or won't).
David Cameron will head a party dominated by MPs more socially conservative and less concerned with the environment than their leader, an analysis of Conservative parliamentary candidates suggests.
Mr Cameron has told close colleagues that he believes he is on course to win 140 new Tory MPs after the next election, The Times has been told. While such a net gain would give Mr Cameron an overall majority of about 15, it could place him to the left of most of his parliamentary party, in which the majority will be new to the Commons.
It finds that far from being a group of “Cameron clones” those most likely to be new Tory MPs are, in general, less concerned about climate change than terrorism, oppose green taxes and are hostile to gay adoptions. A majority oppose the party’s official policy of raising green taxes to reduce the taxation burden on families, according to a survey of 148 Tory candidates.
Quite frankly, I don't give a toss about gay adoptions or gay marriage. I think the time has come to slow this kind of change down and concentrate on more fundamental and important issues.
And no. These two are not important at all.
How Economists Can Misunderstand The Crisis. “On Wednesday last week, yields on 10-year US Treasuries – generally seen as the benchmark for long-term interest rates – rose above 3.73 per cent. Once upon a time that would have been considered rather low. But the financial crisis has changed all that: at the end of last year, the yield on the 10-year fell to 2.06 per cent. In other words, long-term rates have risen by 167 basis points in the space of five months. In relative terms, that represents an 81 per cent jump. Most commentators were unnerved by this development, coinciding as it did with warnings about the fiscal health of the US. For me, however, it was good news. For it settled a rather public argument between me and the Princeton economist Paul Krugman.”
The Financial Times link above requires free registration.
Of course, Mr Krugman knew what I meant. “The only thing that might drive up interest rates,” he acknowledged during our debate, “is that people may grow dubious about the financial solvency of governments.” Might? May? The fact is that people – not least the Chinese government – are already distinctly dubious. They understand that US fiscal policy implies big purchases of government bonds by the Fed this year, since neither foreign nor private domestic purchases will suffice to fund the deficit. This policy is known as printing money and it is what many governments tried in the 1970s, with inflationary consequences you do not need to be a historian to recall.
No doubt there are powerful deflationary headwinds blowing in the other direction today. There is surplus capacity in world manufacturing. But the price of key commodities has surged since February. Monetary expansion in the US, where M2 is growing at an annual rate of 9 per cent, well above its post-1960 average, seems likely to lead to inflation if not this year, then next. In the words of the Chinese central bank’s latest quarterly report: “A policy mistake ... may bring inflation risks to the whole world.”
The policy mistake has already been made – to adopt the fiscal policy of a world war to fight a recession. In the absence of credible commitments to end the chronic US structural deficit, there will be further upward pressure on interest rates, despite the glut of global savings. It was Keynes who noted that “even the most practical man of affairs is usually in the thrall of the ideas of some long-dead economist”. Today the long-dead economist is Keynes, and it is professors of economics, not practical men, who are in thrall to his ideas.
The writer is Laurence A. Tisch professor of history at Harvard University and author of The Ascent of Money (Penguin)
I'd have to say that I am completely unsurprised that that incompetent fraud Kofi Annan is behind this absurd claim, ie that climate change is killing 315,000 people a year.
Here we have another example of the adage that there are "lies, damned lies and statistics."
It of course reemphasises a critical point - do not accept at face value claims made in studies without first checking the methods used to arrive at their results and the assumptions that underpin them.
And in this case, the assumptions are as dodgy as hell.
Even stranger, the private company that did the report for the UN, (the Geo-Risks group in Munich Re), was arguing only a few months ago that it was not possible to distinguish deaths that could be attributed to climate change from the general statistical noise relating extreme weather events etc!
But I suspect Munich Re delivers what its customers are seeking.
Roger A. Pielke Jr, a political scientist at the University of Colorado, Boulder, who studies disaster trends said in The New York Times that the report was "a methodological embarrassment."
As he observes here, in a longer and more considered response to the report, it relied upon a "cooked up comparison between earthquakes and weather related disasters."
Here is the bit where he talks directly about the problems with the method used:
On p. 84 the GHF report itself says:
However, there is not yet any widely accepted global estimate of the share of weather related disasters that are attributable to climate change.
One would think that would be the end of the story. However, to fill in for the fact that there is no accepted estimate, the report conjures up a number using an approach that is grounded in neither logic, science, or common sense.
2. Specifically, to get around the fact that there has been no attribution of the relationship of GHG emissions and disasters, this report engages in a very strange comparison of earthquake and weather disasters in 1980 and 2005. The first question that comes to mind is, why? They are comparing phenomena with many “moving parts” over a short time frame, and attributing 100% of the resulting difference to human-caused climate change. This boggles the mind. The IPCC itself says that 30 years are needed for the detection of changes in the climate system, and this time frame does not even reach that threshold. More to the point earthquakes and weather events do not have the same variability and earthquake disasters affect only a small part of the total inhabited area of the earth, whereas weather disasters occur much more widely. The assumption that weather disasters should track earthquake disasters is flawed from the outset for both geophysical and socio-economic reasons.
An alternative, more scientifically robust approach would be to look specifically at weather-related disasters, and consider the role of socio-economic changes, and to the extent possible, try to remove that signal and see what trends remain. When that has been done, in every case (US floods, hurricanes, Australia, India TCs, Latin America and elsewhere, all in the peer-reviewed literature) there is not a remaining signal of increasing disasters. In other words, the increase in disasters observed worldwide can be entirely attributed to socio-economic changes. This is what has been extensively documented in the peer reviewed literature, and yet — none of this literature is cited in this report. None of it! Instead they rely on this cooked up comparison between earthquakes and weather related disasters.
(Consider also that in no continental location has there been an observed increase in tropical cyclone landfalls, and yet this accounts for almost all of the windstorm disasters cited in the report. The increase must therefore be due to factors other than geophysical changes. This fact renders the comparison with earthquakes even more meaningless).
Munich Re’s own peer-reviewed work supports the fact that socio-economic factors can explain the entire increase in global disasters in recent decades.
Consider that in 2005 there were 11 earthquakes magnitude 7 or higher and in 1980 there were 14. by contrast, 1980 was a quiet weather year, and 2005 was very active, and included Katrina.
3. The report cites and undates the Stern Review Report estimates of disaster losses, however, in a peer-reviewed paper I showed that these estimates were off by an order of magnitude and relied on a similar sort of statistical gamesmanship to develop its results (and of course this critique was ignored):
Pielke, Jr., R. A., 2007. Mistreatment of the economic impacts of extreme events in the Stern Review Report on the Economics of Climate Change, Global Environmental Change, 17:302-310. (PDF)
This report is an embarrassment to the GHF and to those who have put their names on it as representing a scientifically robust analysis. It is not even close.
To finish I'll raise yet again this question - if the alarmists' case is so strong, then why do they need to constantly exaggerate and over-hype things?
Saturday, May 30, 2009
Seems it was basically a publicity stunt.
Maybe a lesson to trust one's instincts - I wondered at the time about how just pouring some water onto his closed mouth, (as I recall), could produce a sensation similar to drowning, whereas footage of real waterboarding I've seen on the news always appeared to involve pouring water directly onto the face.
The marine involved, Klay South, says he had no idea what he was doing.
Linear A script on a clay tablet
WRITING is one of the greatest inventions in human history. Perhaps the greatest, since it made history possible. Without writing, there could be no accumulation of knowledge, no historical record, no science - and of course no books, newspapers or internet.
The first true writing we know of is Sumerian cuneiform - consisting mainly of wedge-shaped impressions on clay tablets - which was used more than 5000 years ago in Mesopotamia. Soon afterwards writing appeared in Egypt, and much later in Europe, China and Central America. Civilisations have invented hundreds of different writing systems. Some, such as the one you are reading now, have remained in use, but most have fallen into disuse.
These dead scripts tantalise us. We can see that they are writing, but what do they say?
The rest here
BEHIND the war of words over the significance of Ida, the 47-million-year-old primate fossil unveiled last week, a quiet revolution in palaeontolgy is unfolding. Thanks to a souped-up version of a technique better known for its use in medical diagnostics, we are gaining unprecedented insights into the way prehistoric creatures lived, breathed and grew.
The technique is X-ray computed tomography (CT). Though X-rays have been used to look into fossils since this type of radiation was discovered in 1895, the flat images it produced changed little over the following century. As recently as 2004, a review in The British Journal of Radiology (vol 77, p 420) saw little merit in X-ray images of fossils beyond acting as a guide to palaeontologists chipping away the rock encasing them.
CT changes all that.
Full article here New Scientist
Rudd and Wayne Swan played into Turnbull’s hands when they botched the post-Budget sales pitch through an apparent reluctance to use the figures - a deficit of $57.6 billion and debt peaking at more than $300 billion.
But those pundits who put this down to misguided “spin” are off the mark. It is the result of old-fashioned, unadulterated incompetence.The advice of the spin-doctors - accepted by the Prime Minister and the Treasurer - was that the Government should embrace the numbers, not run away from them.Swan did not leave the deficit figure out of his Budget speech deliberately. It was supposed to be there. Stuff-up, not spin, was the explanation.
And when Rudd kept saying that the debt would peak at “around 300” - without using the words “dollar” or “billion” - it was not a cunning ploy to avoid giving the Liberals a line they could use in their election commercials.The PM is simply a sucker for jargon. Saying “300” instead of “300 billion dollars” is Treasury-speak. Having sat around with Treasury boffins for weeks preparing the Budget, Rudd started talking like them.
Whitlam, Labor’s 92-year-old folk hero is such a loveable, great-grandfatherly figure these days, and his period in office was so long ago, that using him to frighten the horses just doesn’t work.
Friday, May 29, 2009
Muslim extremists behind a protest against soldiers on a homecoming parade have been driven off the streets today by members of their own community.Fights broke out and traffic ground to a halt when moderate Muslims confronted a group of about 12 men who regularly preach from a stall in Bury Park - the heart of Luton’s Muslim community. After Friday prayers, more than 200 members of local mosques turned on the group who sparked outrage in March when they disrupted a parade by the Royal Anglian Regiment through the town centre.The extremists shouted ‘baby killers’ and ‘butchers of Basra’ at the returning soldiers as well as brandishing placards against the Iraq war. But today they were surrounded by a crowd as they began to set up their stall, shouting ‘We don’t want you here’ and ‘move on, move on’.Angry words were exchanged and scuffles broke out between members of both groups, with the extremists shouting ‘Shame on you’ and ‘Get back to your synagogue’.One police officer and two community support officers struggled to hold them apart until more officers arrived. Buses and cars were unable to move as the crowd spilled into the road.Farasat Latif, of the Islamic Centre in Luton, which was firebombed after the protest against the soldiers, said moderate members of his community took action because police had failed to move the group on.He said the extremists, who follow the militant group led by Sheikh Omar Bakri Muhammed, had fuelled feelings against the Muslim community which led to a march last Sunday in Luton which was disrupted by white, right-wing extremists.Mr Latif said: ‘We have been fighting these Muslim extremists for you. They represent nobody but themselves. The community decided to move them on because the police won’t. We have asked them, but they did nothing.’‘I don’t know if they will be back. We have been the victims twice over - from the stupidity of Muslim extremists who metaphorically pour petrol and fan the flames of the right wing extremists.’‘This was a peaceful demonstration and we hope they get the message that the law-abiding community is sick and tired of them.’
But back to Sonia Sotomayor, which is my subject.She is of course a brilliant political pick—Hispanic when Republicans have trouble with Hispanics, a woman when they’ve had trouble with women. Her background (public housing, Nuyorican, Catholic school, Princeton, prominence) is as moving as Clarence Thomas’s, and that is moving indeed. Politically she’s like a beautiful doll containing a canister of poison gas: Break her and you die.The New York Post’s front page the day after her announcement said it all: “Suprema!” with a picture of the radiant nominee. New York is proud of her; I’m proud of our country and grateful at its insistence, in a time when some say the American dream is dead, that it most certainly is not. The dream is: You can come from any place or condition, any walk of life, and rise to the top, taking your people with you, in your heart and theirs. Maybe that’s what they mean by empathy: Where you come from enters you, and you bring it with you as you rise. But if that’s what they mean, then we’re all empathetic. We’re the most fluid society in human history, but no one ever leaves their zip code in America, we all take it with us. It’s part of our pride. And it’s not bad, it’s good.Some, and they are idiots, look at Judge Sotomayor and say: attack, attack, kill. A conservative activist told the New York Times, “We need to brand her.” Another told me a fight is needed to excite the base.Excite the base? How about excite a moderate, or interest an independent? How about gain the attention of people who aren’t already on your side?
|Sandy from Junkfood Science begins: "Loving parents have a hard job. They want to protect their children from harm and make the best healthcare decisions for them, but with all of the health information and misinformation swirling around, it can seem impossible to know what to believe. One question for some parents is whether childhood immunizations are necessary anymore. With fewer children dying of childhood illnesses today, it can seem like the diseases are no longer serious and that the vaccines might be putting their children at needless risk."|
Unfortunately there is a lot of uninformed and downright ignorant false information about childhood vaccination circulating these days, but some acknowledgement needs to be paid to sceptical parents.
They do want to do what is best for their children, and they are trying to inform themselves about the risks associated with vaccines.
And we do need to be up front and honest with them - there are levels of risk with any medication.
No medecine is without some possible side effects.
(Though unfortunately we also have irresponsible and scientifically illiterate conspiracy pushers, as seen with the claims of a MMR vaccine and autism link. Complete rubbish that has been shown conclusively to be totally untrue.)
But what these parents always seem to fail to do is try and understand the risks of not vaccinating children.
So what are the risks of not vaccinating children relative to vaccinating them?
Research just published in the June issue of Pediatrics looks specifically at pertussis, or whooping cough.
The results speak for themselves:
They...look[ed] at every case of pertussis infection identified in children in the Kaiser Permanente of Colorado health plan over more than a decade, between 1996 and 2007. They randomly matched each case to four controls and looked at the children’s vaccination records. The differences were striking. Only 0.5% of the healthy children had not been vaccinated, compared to 12% of the children who had gotten sick with pertussis.
You can read the whole thing by following the link at the top.
So parents need to balance concern about either small or false risks from vaccines themselves against the increased risk that their child will get a serious disease that may even kill him.
See also Lessons from the Vaccine-Autism Wars
I'd also urge anyone interested to follow her links in relation to "tenable correlations" and "relative risks". These are absolutely vital in sorting the wheat from the chaff when it comes to assessing claims in the media about some study claiming to have found some link or other.
All studies are not the same. The number that are poorly conducted pseudo-scientific rubbish with weak findings, but yet get saturation coverage in the media is not only astounding, it is depressing.
Recent claims about red meat, alcohol and high GI diets causing cancer and other illnesses all fall into this category.
Claims are made about the health implications for the general population based upon samples that are not representative of the general population.
The red meat gives you cancer nonsense recently peddled by naive and credulous journalists was a particularly egregious example.
In this case, the sample was formed by those members of the American Association of Retired Persons, ages 50 to 71, who could be bothered to fill out and post back a questionairre sent to them way back in 1995. (So yes, no new research at all was done for this study. It simply involved feeding the prior collected information through a computer that looked for correlations - hence the importance of understanding the difference between tenable and untenable correlations.)
What this means is that they were using an unrepresentative sample of an unrepresentative sample!
Why this wasn't setting off alarm bells for people is beyond me. Though I suspect that in truth, nobody bothered to check.
Correlation does not equal causation. Seems simple enough, but not for many of these researchers. The number of findings based on untenable correlations is appalling.
If you seach through any large enough data set, you will find correlations. Whether these correlations mean anything or are just the result of chance is another question entirely.
All too often it is these simple correlations that form the basis of press releases claiming to have found a link between our food and disease.
Then we have press releases claiming such links when the study's own data says something different.
Again, the recent red meat study stands out for claims that were simply not supported by its own results.
Despite the headlines shrieking that high red meat consumption increased your risk of getting cancer, examination of its results said something else.
While claimed rates for a number of cancers for men who who ate the most red meat were higher than those who ate the least, the difference between the two groups was only 1.4%. Now, I'm guessing, (and yes, this is a guess, but I'm prepared to put money on it), but I suspect that this falls within the study's own margin of error and thus statistically there is no real difference.
However, when it came to women, those with the highest consumption of red meat had lower rates of cancer compared to those with the lowest!
A question arising from this is: why did the study's authors then issue a press release that claimed to have found a clear link between higher rates of red meat consumption and cancer, when their own results said the opposite? (Not that any of this study's results should be taken seriously I'd hasten to add. It is rubbish from beginning to end.)
Part of the answer here is I believe the fact that health is one of those things that has replaced sex as the besetting concern of moral entrepreneurs.
They already "know" that red meat, alcohol, high GI diets, fat etc are "bad" and they need to be seen to be sending the "right" message.
This was obvious with the recent no safe level of drinking for women study conducted in the UK.
You can see the author's predetermined determination to find that alcohol is bad for women, even at moderate levels, and then her consternation at finding that her results don't support her belief.
So she reworks the data this way and that, trying to get the "right" result. In the end she fails.
Her own data clearly shows that fully 95% of women who drank had lower rates of cancer compared to those who didn't.
Only the top 5% heaviest drinkers had poorer health outcomes.
But what does she announce to the media? The "right" result, ie that there is no safe level of alcohol consumption for women.
Now, call me old fashioned, but I would have thought that the right result is what your data actually shows, not what you think it should show.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
(Update: based on comments, I’ve updated the graph above to show the 2004 solar max by sliding the view window to the left a bit compared to the previous graph. – Anthony)
A typical solar minimum lasts 485 days, based on an average of the last 10 solar minima. As of today we are at 638 spotless days in the current minimum. Also as of today, May 27th, 2009, there were no sunspots on 120 of this year’s (2009) 147 days to date (82%).
GUATEMALA CITY: Earlier this month, a Twitter user in Guatemala was arrested, jailed, and fined the equivalent of a year's salary for having posted a 96-character thought to Twitter. The tweet related to an ongoing political crisis in Guatemala sparked by allegations that president Álvaro Colom ordered the assassination of an attorney, and claims made by this attorney that government officials engaged in illegal, corrupt transactions through the country's largest bank.
Jean Ramses Anleu Fernandez, or @jeanfer as he's known on Twitter (at left), has since been released from jail. He is under house arrest while the Guatemalan government pursues charges against him. Jean is an unlikely public figure: a shy, soft-spoken I.T. guy who studies systems engineering and loves books. He has since become something of a popular hero online, and Twitter itself has become a force in the country's current upheaval.
SAMSON and Delilah checks all the boxes I’ve come to associate with our terrible Australian films.
Taxpayer funded? Check.
Grim? Check. The very first scene shows an Aboriginal boy sniffing petrol.
Feted by the guilty-rich elite? Check that, too, after the Cannes Film Festival last weekend gave its prize for a first-time director to Warwick Thornton, an Aborigine from Alice Springs.
And did it get five stars from the ABC’s preachy David Stratton?
Oh, yes. Check again. Full house.
In fact, this low-budget film has extra warning lights I’d never dreamed of.
Its director seems a blame-whitey type, for instance, who insists “the Stolen Generation, that’s me”. So you can well guess what his film is like.
In fact, I went to a near deserted screening of it this week and can tell you. It’s great.
The rest of the article - WITH SPOILERS! - is here.
After many years of sporadic interest the BSE/vCJD story took off in 1996 after an admission in parliament by the health minister that there was a link between BSE contaminated meat and a new strain of the degenerative vCJD brain disease that had afflicted a handful of people. Initially, few people knew anything definite about the disease and its possible progression and, depending upon assumptions, computer models predicted anything from a small number of people being affected to a large fraction of the population. While such uncertainty existed it was right for journalists to reflect the scientific situation but as I was science correspondent for BBC Radio at the time, I soon began to realise the tension between science and journalism and the changing approach to science within BBC News at the time.
In terms of news the potential for a modern day catastrophic plague is a much 'better' story than the possibility that nothing much more will happen. So whilst the uncertainty persisted that was the story that was emphasised with the appropriate caveats. However, it soon became clear to most scientists at least that a major catastrophe was not in the making. The increase in numbers afflicted, despite the unknown incubation of the disease, was not increasing as some predicted, but that fact was inconvenient to some and did not impinge on our general approach to the story.
In such circumstances I took the view that journalists should stay close to the data and not let the scientific possibilities, however dramatic and 'newsworthy,' obscure what was actually happening, especially when those possibilities rested on a cascade of debateable assumptions being fed into a computer model that had been tweaked to hindcast previous data. It was not a point of view taken by other arms of the BBC one part of which was repeatedly promoting the same scare story coming out of one institution based on said computer models and predictions. I believed that taking a sober approach was the right one, especially for the BBC, which was looked to for responsible reporting. Wanting to get on air with a story and make an impression with editors and management was one thing, but I took the view that a journalist should not tailor the science to suit ones ambitions, or survival, that way. The political journalist John Sergeant summed it up when he said that there were many journalists who reported what they could get away with rather than what they know.
My approach was not favoured by the BBC at the time and I was severely criticised in 1998 and told I was wrong and not reporting the BSE/vCJD story correctly. But with hindsight I was correct in my approach. To date the total number of people afflicted with BSE/vCJD remains very small. In fact, far smaller than many illnesses that never get a mention in the media, and the scientific doom mongers have moved onto new pastures. But the attitude towards science still remains at the BBC and has been evident in its evangelical, inconsistent climate change reporting and its narrow, shallow and sparse reporting on other scientific issues.
Reporting the consensus about climate change (and we all know about the debate about what is a consensus in the IPCC era) is not synonymous with good science reporting. The BBC is at an important point. It has been narrow minded about climate change for many years and they have become at the very least a cliché and at worst lampooned as being predictable and biased by a public that doesn't believe them anymore.
Times are changing. New data is emerging, the world refuses to warm in the past decade, the sun becomes quiet, and scientists are beginning to study themselves investigating how entrenched positions become established and whether consensus is a realistic concept. History and science will always correct things in the end. It has done so with vCJD and it is not impossible that the judgement of history and science on current environmental reporting will be the same.
Green has gone from omm to ha ha. America’s ABC presents a new animated sit-com, The Goode Family, which mocks this most earnest new faith of the guilty class.
Of course, the BBC tried more gentle (and I suspect funnier) mockery of such greens three decades ago in The Goode Life, before the green lifestyle became a tiresome religious mission.
Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger say the green bubble has burst:
But some climate preachers still act like extras on a vicious green-baiting satire:
Painting roofs white to combat climate change?
Dear God. And this idiot has been appointed by Obama to be his energy secretary? Bloody hell.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
The Borowitz Report nicely sums up the Obama administration's strong--really strong!--reaction to North Korea's nuclear test:
No verbs, I'm afraid, are in prospect.
Which calls to mind this dialogue from Team America: World Police -
Hans Blix: Then let me look around, so I can ease the UN's collective mind. I'm sorry, but the UN must be firm with you. Let me in, or else.
Kim Jong Il: Or else what?
Hans Blix: Or else we will be very angry with you... and we will write you a letter, telling you how angry we are.
Though seriously, what is Obama to do? North Korea is no Iraq. My military brother-in-law had no doubt that whereas Iraq was a relatively soft target, the North Korean military is "hard".
And the terrain difficult.
Any war there will be very nasty, though the North Koreans must know that if China does not intervene of its behalf it will be defeated.
May 27, 2009
Meanwhile, China warns Federal Reserve over ‘printing money’. “China has warned a top member of the US Federal Reserve that it is increasingly disturbed by the Fed’s direct purchase of US Treasury bonds.” So am I. Plus, over $99 Trillion in unfunded pension and health-care liability, “built up by a careless political class over the years.”
Now, it's not that the US government is ever going to have to come up with $99 trillion at once.
Everybody would have to retire and get seriously sick at the same time.
But yes, that is 99 trillion dollars worth of unfunded pension and health-care liabilities.
And like all liabilities, it's a burden on the over all budget.
Brett, May 27th 2009, 2:02 pm
Peru’s police force does not have the full trust of the public. So, in order to improve the image of the police, Peru’s left-wing ruling party, the Alianza Popular Revolucionaria Americana - which is affiliated to Socialist International - has hit on the perfect publicity stunt. It is going to purge the police force of homosexuals who, according to the Interior Minister, Mercedes Cabanillas, are “damaging the image of the institution”.
The BBC reports that the new law states that “any police officer who has sexual relations with someone of the same gender will be indefinitely suspended from the police force. ”
Critics have called the law ‘unconstitutional’.
The British Ambassador to Peru, Catherine Nettleton, confirmed to campaigner Peter Tatchell that “a new Peruvian law intended to improve police discipline includes sanctions on members of the national police who ‘have sexual relations with members of the same sex, which cause scandal and discredit the image of the institution’. We are seeking the views of local human rights groups and the office of the Ombudsman and will be considering with our European Union colleagues what action to take.”
Now, Socialist International says in its statement following its 20th Congress held in 1996 - A Human Rights Agenda for the 21st Century:
Criminal behavior eh? We’re not even a decade in yet, chaps, and already a member is scapegoating gays and lesbians. So, will Peru’s governing party be expelled from the organisation?
From Harry's Place
A May 25, 2009 article in the UK Times warning that "climate change is the cholera of our era" has raised the ire of an internationally known disease expert formerly of the UN IPCC.
"The article is a rehash of a similar load of garbage unloaded in 1996, plus (identical wording) other writings of the past, including, I suspect, IPCC," Dr. Paul Reiter told Climate Depot.
Reiter is a malaria expert formerly of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and professor of entomology and tropical disease with the Pasteur Institute in Paris and a member of the World Health Organization Expert Advisory Committee on Vector Biology and Control.
The UK Times article, by Professor Sir Muir Gray is Public Health Director of the Campaign for Greener Healthcare, alleges that man-made global warming is a greater threat to mankind than the scourge of cholera -- an acute diarrheal illness-- which killed an nearly 3000 people in Zimbabwe alone earlier this year. A May 26, 2009 article from VOA reveals cholera cases are expected to reach 100,000 in Zimbabwe alone.
Muir wrote in the UK Times: "In the 19th century, cholera outbreaks that escaped from the slums to kill rich and poor alike caused the great Victorian revolution in public health. Fear of cholera ensured that vast sums were spent on building sewers and ensuring that everyone had clean water. Climate change is the cholera of our era — fear of the havoc that climate change will wreak should stimulate a new public health revolution." "Smoking, Aids, swine flu? They all pale into insignificance compared to climate change's threat to health," Muir added.
But Reiter, was blunt in his rebuttal to Muir's article in the UK Times. "They have cherry picked without remorse. I have huge response to my article in Malaria Journal. Yet these peddlers of garbage quote a 1998 model by two activists whose work is ridiculed by those of us who work in this field," Reiter continued. "What the hell can we do? I am flabbergasted that this can go on, and on, and on," Reiter, who is featured in the U.S. Senate Report of more than 700 dissenting scientists of man-made global warming, concluded.
Reiter was also formerly with the UN IPCC and was so appalled at UN IPCC process that he threatened legal action to get his name removed from the reports.
From Greenie Watch
Lord Krebs, the former chairman of the Food Standards Agency and current principal of Jesus College Oxford also criticised Greenpeace, saying that it had been set up to peddle fear on environmental issues. "Greenpeace is a multinational corporation just like Monsanto or Tesco. They have very effective marketing departments... Their product is worry because worry is what recruits members," he said.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Hey, this should get the Left into a spin! Which button do they push? The touchy-feely multicultural one, or the green one?
The viceroy of Queen Elizabeth in Canada:
One can only wonder what the next king of Canada might be thinking.
Via Tim Blair
The honest answer is just about everybody. But some are now trying to rewrite history a tad. And really, you've got to draw a very long bow to work Sarah Palin into the story , but that's no trouble for obsessive lefties.
Though I'm not sure Crikey got her comments right. I thought she said "I'll call my ballistics boys" or something like that.
Melbourne leftoid Jeff Sparrow tells his Crikey pals:
But as powerful as we conservative blogs are, we can’t claim all the credit (perhaps only 90 per cent of it). Lesser sites were also enthralled by Clare’s charming chk-chkness, and it would be unfair to deny their contribution. Here’s Crikey on May 18, when Nine’s clip was first made available:
I suppose this very good news will come as something of a surprise to many people. The mystery being why.
Simple common sense and a passing knowledge of the recent climate history of the Earth would mean that these research findings would have been completely expected.
It's simple really. The organisms that build coral reefs today have been around for a long time. In just the last 10,000 years (a very short period of time geologically) they have lived through the Holocene Climate Optimum (much warmer than today and quite long lasting), a cool period, a possible warm period in "Minoan" times (around 1500 BC), another cool period, the Roman Climate Optimum (around 2,000 years ago and warmer than today), yet another cool period, the Medieval Warm Period (around 1,000 years ago and warmer than today) and then the most severe cold spell of the last 10,000 years, so cold it is known as the Little Ice Age, which only "ended" in 1850 (though the overall warming trend had set in at least a couple of hundred years earlier).
This graph roughly corresponds to the above (the results of proxy temperature reconstructions are never going to be totally in agreement):
And they have survived. Of course they've got survival strategies that we are only just starting to become aware of (see below). Just as do polar bears and emperor penguins.
Andrew BoltMonday, May 25, 2009 at 12:04am
How often has Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg warned us that the Great Barrier Reef is about to die any second now from man-made warming? Example:
And how often have his predictions proved wrong?
That hasn’t stopped him from being showered by millions and hailed by the ABC as a noble prophet. It hasn’t stopped his latest scare from being laughed out of court. But now, bit by bit, the evidence against his alarmist is building, even in the New Scientist:
In as simple a term as I can summarize, Ayman was just a good person doing something he thought was meaningful.
I also knew ayman, and I can say that he is possibly the best person that I ever knew. I’m angry that it was him instead of me. I’m angry that his daughter will never know him. And I’m angry at the thought that someone would pass judgement on a muslim man that decided this was the best way he could serve Allah. What makes Ayman Taha so special? He was the best and the brightest that America could offer. I really think that. If you dare to make disparaging comments about slain servicemembers, then you make me sick and ashamed that you are an American. You have your right to free speech, but it was people like Ayman– people that had everything, and gave it up for an ideal– that endured hell for you to have that right.
Monday, May 25, 2009
UPDATE: Brentbo sums it up nicely in comments: Global warming of 7C could kill billions this century. True, in the same sense that Tina Turner could have a kid by the pope.
This is more than twice what was expected in 2003. The Telegraph reports
“Global warming of 7C ‘could kill billions this century‘. Global temperatures could rise by more than 7C this century killing billions of people and leaving the world on the brink of total collapse, according to new research“A similar 2003 study had predicted a mere- but still significant- 4 degree increase in global temperatures by 2100, but those models weren’t nearly as comprehensive, and they didn’t take into consideration economic factors.