Archive for April, 2009

UK Met Office (and the BBC): A Warm Summer Is A Good Summer

2009/04/30 8 comments

Now it’s the UK Met Office and the BBC delivering us the “good news” that a warmer-than-average summer is indeed a “much better” summer. Who would have guessed, when in the past they have been warning us no end about the risks, dangers, threats caused by…warmer-than average temperatures?

The story starts with dear old Roger Harrabin near the end of the BBC Radio4 Six O’Clock News for April 30, 2009 (click here to listen to the programme in full). Harrabin interviews Pat Boyle from the Met Office about their just-published seasonal forecast for Summer 2009 (“Summer temperatures across the UK are likely to be warmer than average and rainfall near or below average for the three months of summer“).

Imagine the happy surprise upon hearing Harrabin describe Ms Boyle as “delighted” about the “good news“; Ms Boyle herself talking of “good news” for the “UK tourism industry“, for “people staying at home” and for “farmers“.

That’s right: “farmers“, as in “people able to produce more stuff from the cultivation of the soil and the husbandry of animal because the summer is going to be warmer than average”. And so it is official: a warmer summer is a better summer indeed.

Note also the phraseology used by Chief Meteorologist Ewen McCallum (full transcript) in a YouTube-available interview:

I think last year and the year before were absolute miserable summers. […] This summer will be back to much better summers […] So, much better – get the BBQ out. […] So, a pretty good summer.

Even when avoiding any positive tone in the related web article about a possible “sizzling summer”, Harrabin can’t help mentioning “cheery optimism” near the end in the sense of “being optimist it is going to be a good summer”.


So is the idea of “warming” finally presented on the BBC in a positive light? How can this be for real? Remember back in 2005, when “millions” were expected to be “hit by global warming”, and “animals” too, and the English country garden was “unlikely to survive in the South East in its present form” because of 1.5-3C of warming?

But don’t you worry. With Copenhagen’s huge Climate Change Extravaganza coming up in December 2009, expect plenty of warming stories in the BBC, and elsewhere in the media, as soon as the thermometer will hit the 30C/86F mark.


Media Scare Stories As Antidote To (Boring) Real Life

(The below is my translation of an article originally in Italian. It refers to news "episodes" from around August 2008, but the conveyed message is very applicable in most of what the media want to report, climate included)

The Manufacturers of Crises
Nuclear power. pitbull attacks, excessive heat, excessive cold … crises all, until forgotten
by Pierluigi Battista – Corriere della Sera (Italy), Aug 4, 2008

Suddenly, all at once, incidents have started to happen in French nuclear power plants, preferably in those located near the Italian border. Remarkably, after nothing seemingly had happened for years if not decades. From time immemorial there had been no reports of accidents, no failures, no hazard to things and above all to people. But when all of a sudden, on the back of climbing oil bills, there are again talks about nuclear energy, there comes a series of nuclear incidents, as if on cue.

Newspapers report about them, the public is alarmed. It looks like an epidemic of nuclear troubles, but a ‘geographically focused’ epidemic. There are no reports of difficulties at a nuclear power plant away from the Italian borders. The longer the distance, the lower the thrill. It is important that the ghost of a radioactive cloud lies very near: a whiff of wind and here it comes, in homage to the free movement of poisons.

And so it is time for scare stories about a "nuclear crisis". A gift for those in search of plots everywhere, loving the magic phrase "it is no coincidence" more than anything else.

Why are all those news being reported together? What’s behind, and above, and next?

Please rest assured. There’s nothing behind and above. There is no occult Specter of misinformation, no fabled opaque all-controlling network. There’s only the media’s own neurosis, continuously churning a crisis and then leaving it behind without regrets.

There is an impalpable emotional undercurrent, soon transforming itself into a contagious psychosis, a fear, and overemphatic titles, only then to withdraw to a tired, marginal, insignificant, gray routine not worthy of any public attention.

Nowadays it is called "Nuclear Crisis", but as soon as the danger will pass, the crisis will deflate. As it has happened with all past crises, and will happen to all future ones. Like when it seems that the most ferocious dogs have all agreed to maul owners and passers-by at the same time. That’s the "pitbull crisis", followed by another apparent collective agreement among the same fierce dogs to mutate into charming domesticated animals. So the crisis disappears, only to resurface, only to sink again beyond visibility.

Then, as if obeying to a hidden command, in every Italian surgery room tools are casually left inside patients and/or peritonitis sufferers see their knees operated instead. That’s a "health crisis", destined to a temporary fix and then to a temporary crisis and so on and so forth.

A "drought crisis" is replaced by a "flood crisis". A summer’s "heat crisis" is followed by a winter’s "cold crisis". The "global warming crisis" is a harder item to crack, yet it is still slave to the capricious movements of the thermometer.

Some crises are able to trigger apocalyptic, indomitable feelings. The  (forgotten) "SARS crisis", the "mad cow crisis", the "bird flu crisis" which according to reliable estimates by reputable global organizations should already have had to reap an incalculable number of human victims.

And do not forget the ‘paedophilia crisis", usually building up with the slow discovery of perpetrators’ networks and ending with spectacular raids.

At this very moment, people talk of a "nuclear crisis". It ‘s a nuclear emergency. And yet, this too will pass.

Charles Windsor’s Climate Number Game

2009/04/27 1 comment

(thanks to Svipop for pointing this out)

May 18, 2008: “Prince Charles: Eighteen months to stop climate change disaster

April 27, 2009: “Charles: 99 months to prevent disaster

Somebody please send him a calculator!!

And so…there goes the climate-change-debate relevance of a rich guy traveling the world in luxury jets and vast motorcades.

ps Interestingly, the BBC has classified its report in the “Europe” section. No mention so far in “Science & Environment”.

Why Al Gore Will Not Debate Global Warming

2009/04/27 4 comments

Time will tell if it is just hype, the Morano/Monckton story about Al Gore having been “shielded” by Democrats in the US House of Representatives from a potential debate with Lord Monckton himself. Personally I am not sure if a debate among expert witnesses is what a parliamentarian committee is expected to experience.

In any case, Al Gore cannot debate global warming / climate change. As things stand, he might simply be psychologically unable to do so.

Doesn’t anybody remember Gore’s verbal manhandling of BBC’s climate-change archbeliever Roger Harrabin of all people, because poor Harrabin had dared asking questions?

Categories: AGW, Omniclimate

I Will Be At The London RGS Climate Engineering Event

2009/04/27 1 comment

14 May at 7pm, London (UK) SW7 2AR

Details: “Engineering Our Climate” (Royal Geographical Society)

Cost: £10

I will be there.

And I am not suggesting to wear a white armband as a sign of protest against lunatic geo-engineering ideas.

Goldman Prizes Show There Is A More Serious Side To Environmentalism

2009/04/26 1 comment

What’s In It For Roger Harrabin?

2009/04/24 1 comment

Roger Harrabin writing on the BBC News website about Carbon Capture technology.

Only thing, he’s definitely NOT writing as a BBC journalist. This sentence in particular is more than your usual BBC reporting:

I believe that [Carbon Capture] will prove feasible, if costly

The above looks like some kind of informed opinion. But usually a BBC journalist like any other journalist would quote the people whose opinion is being reported.

Not in this case. We are hearing what Harrabin himself thinks of a subject.

On what basis are we supposed to put trust on his thoughts? Is Roger Harrabin a recognised expert in the field of carbon capture? Or any other field for that matters?

Perhaps he is. But then we should be told.

AGWers At A Loss With The British Public

2009/04/21 2 comments

That’s the impression after reading the reactions to Martin Livermore’s “Cold reality of global warming efforts” opinion piece in the BBC’s “Green Room“. Most of the comments are definitely not on the AGW side, and the few that are, are mostly about ad-hominems against Mr. Livermore.

On Drowning Fishes And Dizzy Eagles

2009/04/15 1 comment

A preventative blog title for what will certainly appear very soon on mainstream newsmedia around the world. How can I be so sure? Well, all I had to do was to read how a volcano threatens Galapagos wildlife (from CBS, but the news is everywhere).

How on Earth can a volcano “threaten” the ecosystems of the Galapagos?

Doesn’t any journalist realize that all Galapagos wildlife not only has survived millions of years of volcanic activity, not only has lived next to all that volcanic activity, it has positively evolved in its own special ways BECAUSE of the volcanic activity?

ps what has this got to do with climate change? The basis for the alarm is because lava coming out of a volcano that last erupted four years ago (!!) could disrupt the “delicate equilibrium” of Nature. Just like a slightly warmer planet would…

Save The Planet, Ban Pollution-Producing (Living) Devices!

2009/04/15 1 comment

With CO2 on its way to be classified as a dangerous polluting gas, since it is mostly created out of oxygen and carbon either by living beings or machines created by living beings, shouldn’t we ban oxygen, free carbon, and aerobic life from Planet Earth in order to save Nature itself?

Somebody please start a petition!!

ps cognoscenti will recognize that we are just suffering from something those evil stromatolites have done, so long ago

pps And what about methane? Let’s outlaw hydrogen too!

No Ice Radar? No Catlin Expedition!

2009/04/14 6 comments

The Catlin trio has given up on ice radar“, reports David Shukman on the BBC today.

This is a bad sign. Twice bad: as it calls into question the need for risking the lives of the team any further, and the overall organization of the expedition.

The Catlin trio should just pack up and come back home before anything truly bad does happen.

The SPRITE “ice radar” is (was) not just another instrument. It was THE meaning for the whole expedition. Here’s a screenshot from the Catlin Arctic Survey’s science pages on their website:
Catlin Science pages

Such a surface Survey has never before been attempted

The team’s ground-penetrating radar (SPRITE) will distinguish between the base ice layer and any over-lying snow layer

The Catlin Arctic Survey’s data will allow for the re-evaluation of satellite and submarine digitised observations of recent decades – and future ones – and thereby improve the accuracy and confidence of the modelled outputs.

Even the BBC noticed the extreme importance of SPRITE for providing a meaning to the Catlin trio’s efforts, as it can be seen in the caption of the image opening one of their first articles on the expedition (by Jonathan Amos in February 2009):

BBC introducing the Catlin expedition (1)

The yellow SPRITE radar is the expedition’s key piece of kit

And in the text:

“It is intended to give scientists the very latest “ground truth”, to better constrain their models and their interpretation of the observations coming from satellites.

‘No other information on ice thickness like this is expected to be made available to the scientific community in 2009,’ explained Arctic ice modeller Professor Wieslaw Maslowski, a science advisor to the survey.”

What needs to be done now? According to the latest BBC article:

As a result, the explorers are now drilling more sampling holes than planned, which means they are progressing more slowly than hoped.

But what is the point of that? This is what Amos wrote back in February:

BBC on Catlin - detail

At frequent intervals, the team will also gather manually the same data by drilling through the ice. This will put a calibration check on the radar measurements.

The manually-drilled sampling holes are meant to be just calibration measures for the radar. Hence, if there is no radar, there is little meaning in drilling any sampling hole. Furthermore:

Over the course of the expedition, the team hopes to have gathered millions of readings.

Obviously, those millions of reading will simply not be there. A couple of thousands of manual measurements cannot be a scientifically-plausible substitute for millions of automatic readings.

And as already mentioned, the SPRITE debacle actually suggests the risk for the above is not minimal. In fact, how did such a “key piece of kit” manage to become useless? Shukman again:

The failures are blamed on problems with power supplies, either with batteries not working or with cables snapping in the cold.

Now, what kind of organization put together their most important equipment for a winter-starting polar mission using material unable to withstand extreme cold? What else have they forgotten to consider?

I for one would not mind if Hadow, Daniels and Hartley were to try again in 2010 or 2011. It’s just the 2009 effort that worries me (a lot) regarding their well-being.

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