Wednesday, January 26, 2011

BBC on Global Warming

Here is a BBC program that argues for the validity of the science of "global warming". It uses the new president of the Royal Society, Paul Nurse, to sell the orthodox view. Before you get too deeply into watching these videos, see my criticisms below this set of videos.

This video is in 6 parts, Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 4:

Part 5:

Part 6:

But I find this video insulting. It sets it up as if rejecting global warming is on all fours with believing that HIV doesn't cause AIDS, that GM foods are "frankenfoods", and that vaccines cause autism. I reject global warming while I'm not guilty of any of the other three heresies. So it is outrageous that Paul Nurse puts up the ad hominem argument that rejecting global warming is just another anti-science view like these other three. (I accept that some deniers are politically motivated, but not myself and not those who I follow.)

I was particularly floored to watch Paul Nurse, who knows no climatology, being hoodwinked by the NASA centre that showed him the side-by-side actual weather with the modeled weather. Nurse is blown away. Proof! The model matches data so it must be good. He doesn't ask any critical question like "this model was a prediction how many days/weeks/months/decades/centuries in advance of the data you are showing me? Looking at it, it is pretty clear to me it is a "model" that is at most 48 or 72 hours in advance of the data. Look, weather forecasts are solid for 3 days, a bit flaky for 5 days, unreliable for 7 days, and hopeless for anything like 2 weeks in the future. But climatologists are claiming their models are good for decades and centuries into the future! And Paul Nurse doesn't know enough to recognize this and so in duped by the canned demo from NASA. Sad.

Paul Nurse ends his program by saying that "scientists must argue the case". But wait a second. In this video Nurse attacks global warming skeptics without any "arguing the case". He simply treats them as a lunatic fringe. But there are reputable scientist who aren't part of the consensus that "global warming is caused by CO2": Roger Pielke Sr., Roy Spencer, Richard Lindzen, Freeman Dyson. (The links let you jump to their view as stated by Wikipedia.) These are the ones I know about and follow their criticisms. These are not lunatic fringe people. These are not anti-science people. They have solid reasons for their claims.

In the normal discourse of science, skeptical views must be addressed and not simply swept under the carpet with the claim that "there is a consensus". In the late 19th century there was a "consensus" that physics was at an end and was expressed by Lord Kelvin in 1900 with:
There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now. All that remains is more and more precise measurement.
But that ridiculous view was blown apart at the start of the 20th century with entirely new physics. Consensus isn't science. Science is theorizing, experiments to establish facts, and presenting your case to your peers to convince them. Only time will reveal what the "real science" is. It is completely preposterous to try to stop argument by saying there is a "consensus". It is completely outrageous that the new head of the Royal Society would take the view that "consensus" means real debate is over and all that is left is "scientists arguing the case" to those benighted souls who don't "get it". He sees climate science as complete and perfected with all that is left is a project to communicate "the truth" to the unwashed masses.

Update 2011jan30: There is a critical article by Christopher Booker in the UK's Telegraph newspaper. Here is a bit:

Horizon’s “Science Under Attack” turned out to be yet another laborious bid by the BBC to defend the global warming orthodoxy it has long been so relentless in promoting.

Their desperation is understandable. The past few years have seen their cherished cause crumbling on all sides. The Copenhagen climate conference, planned to land mankind with the biggest bill in history, collapsed in disarray. The Climategate emails scandal confirmed that scientists at the heart of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had distorted key data. The IPCC’s own authority was further rocked by revelations that its more alarmist claims were based not on science but on the inventions of environmental activists. Even the weather has turned against them, showing that all the computer models based on the assumption that rising CO2 means rising temperatures have got it wrong.

The formula the BBC uses in its forlorn attempts to counterattack has been familiar ever since its 2008 series Climate Wars. First, a presenter with some scientific credentials comes on, apparently to look impartially at the evidence. Supporters of the cause are allowed to put their case without challenge. Hours of film of climate-change “deniers” are cherrypicked for soundbites that can be shown, out of context, to make them look ridiculous. The presenter can then conclude that the “deniers” are a tiny handful of eccentrics standing out against an overwhelming scientific “consensus”.

Monday’s Horizon exemplified this formula to a T.
There is much more in the article with specific criticisms how how the BBC set up a straw man to knock down.

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