Tag Archives: climate change activism

The Propoganda Identified

There is an acerbic commentator in the UK, called Rod Liddle, who has recently written and interesting piece in the Specatator. I point it out, as Rod Liddle ends his piece with:

None of this means climate change — which, incidentally, I think is probably a fact — is happening or not happening.

I assume he means significant anthropogenic climate change in this statement, as nobody (sane) suggests the climate does not change. The subject of his article is the ongoing news of climate records being set. He opens the article with this:

What do you suppose the chances are of this being the coldest June since records began, or maybe the dampest June since records began? My guess is that it will almost certainly be the most dramatic of some climatic variation since records began; paradoxically, every other month is. Every season is. Every year is. Every year is something. The weather is on a roll, it keeps breaking records, nothing can stop it.

He is, of course, quite correct, and it seems that this is the kind of news that we can commonly find in New Zealand, but I have found similar articles in the U.S. press, and in other countries. The point in these stories is that they give an impression of something special taking place, that the climate is somehow out of whack, out of kilter, that anthropogenic climate change must indeed be real. If I think back to my childhood, there were occasional mentions of unusual weather patterns, but I do not remember this constant onslaught of weather records.This is what Rod Liddle has to say on the subject:

Well, let’s take a look at this ambitious, hyperactive weather we’re all enjoying. The comment ‘drought zones have been declared across much of England and Wales’ seems to refer to, er, East Anglia. A few other areas are indeed at the ‘near drought’ stage, and the water companies are warning, as they do every year, that restrictions on water usage might be brought in. However, no restrictions are in place anywhere, yet at least, not even in the parched Mojave wastelands of Norfolk. Spring? April was lovely and warm, well above the average. March was a little cooler than the average, May a little above. The Met Office pronounced spring to be the driest for 20 years in some areas. In other areas, presumably, it wasn’t. January was colder than usual — bloody nippy, to use the technical term — while February was pleasantly warm (the ninth mildest in 100 years, in point of fact. Which means you could quite regularly get your kit off on Snowdon, if you wanted, over the last century).

Quite reasonably, he goes on to skewer other examples, and notes that what we are really seeing weather…that sometimes deviates from the mean in some places at some times. Perhaps even more interesting is that he has noted that the promises of a warm UK have come to nothing, and that there has been a shift in the climate change narrative:

Does any of this statistical arcania matter? The problem, I think, is that totally normal variations from the mean, and the continual screaming headlines about records being broken are used by the climate change lobby to insist that this is a consequence of our own actions, a direct result of man-made global warming. This is a slight change of tack, of course; previously we were told that global warming meant Britain would become, well, warmer — but two sharpish winters put paid to that prediction. Now everything is the consequence of man-made global warming. That cold December we endured was the consequence, and so too was the mildly mild weather we enjoyed in the February of the following year. Drought is a consequence of global warming; so too are floods. Hot weather and cold weather. Sunshine and no sunshine. And it helps if they can imply that there is something abnormal about it all, something terribly extreme and disquieting.

The problem for those that promote the climate change scare is that they predicted that it would not be long before the UK saw no snow at all, and the predictions were found to be false. So a new narrative is created, in which all unusual weather, regardless of general trends, is highlighted. For Joe Public who does not take a great interest in the climate change controversy, it seems that the world is indeed changing around them. A continual blizzard of records appears to suggest that the climate situation is going to hell in a handcart.

Is it any wonder that people become convinced of the anthropogenic climate change story when it appears that there is such strong evidence, even though the evidence is not strong at all. It is, quite simply, manipulation. Sadly, most people do not have the time to dig into the details of the climate change controversy, and will instead rely on a sense of disquiet generate by these kinds of stories.

Note: Apologies for the lack of posts, but time has been very short of late, including a trip to China which was one of many distractions.

More of the Media Climate Change Love-in

Did you see the Close Up interview with Dr. James Hansen? Hansen is billed in the Close Up website as having invented the first climate models, itself a rather dubious claim. Mark Sainsbury interviews Hansen about his views on climate change, and the interview is, to be quite frank, an embrassment. I generally have a great deal of respect for Mark Sainsbury, who manages to ask interviewees many of the difficult questions without coming over as aggressive or partisan. It is quite a talent.

However, and it is a big however, the interview with James Hansen was an embarassment. It was bordering on the fawning, and absolutely no difficult questions were asked. We can assume, for example, that the Close Up researchers would have undertaken some kind of background search on Dr. Hansen and might have found his Wikipedia entry. This is a little excerpt from the introduction to his entry:

In recent years, Hansen has become an activist for action to mitigate the effects of climate change, which on several occasions has led to his arrest.

The key point here is that Dr. Hansen has become an activist, and is not simply a scientist. He has taken on a role that moves him away from being a disinterested scientist (okay, no scientists are entirely disinterested, but there is line that can be drawn), but this was not how he was portrayed on Close Up. Instead, Mark Sainsbury placed strong emphasis on his scientific credentials, with a particularly strong emphasis placed upon his leadership of the NASA Goddard Institute. Mark Sainsbury might just as well have said that he is a rocket scientist, and we all know how clever they are.

What kind of difficult question could Mark Sainsbury asked of Dr. Hansen? One question might have addressed the accuracy of the climate models that have been developed by Dr. Hansen. For example, a critique of the accuracy of the models can be found here. Instead of addressing any area of controversy, Mark Sainsbury appeared to present a series of questions which were purposefully designed to allow Dr. Hansen to present a series of frightening and emotive scenarios. If watching the interview, it would be impossible for any viewer to be aware that the anthropogenic climate change might be the subject of intense debate and controversy. Instead, scenarios of doom and disaster were presented one after the other without a single probing or difficult question.

Just to add to the sense of alarm, the editors of the program pulled and displayed scary quotations as the interview progressed, such as:


Just as Dr. Hansen has moved from scientist to advocate, Close Up likewise moved from being news to advocacy. This is not to say that advocacy does not ever have a place in news programmes such as Close UP, but advocacy on issue that is quite rightly such an area of controversy seems to be inappropriate. On an issue of this kind, a news programme should at the very least inform viewers of the fierce debate that is taking place. The programme should at least include some difficult questions, and identify that there are scientists who are questioning the foundation of Dr. Hansen’s views.

I can only conclude by expressing my disappointment with Mark Sainsbury and the Close Up editorial team. Whilst they may believe the scenarios presented by Dr. Hansen, they owe it to their viewers to give them an opportunity to make up their own minds, not to be spoon fed horror scenarios by a climate change activist.