frank_davis (frank_davis) wrote,
frank_davis
frank_davis

The BBC Reports Climategate

For the past two weeks the internet has been awash with the Climategate controversy, but the mainstream media haven't seemed to want to know about it, just reporting it as the theft of a few unimportant emails. So I was astonished earlier this evening, listening to BBC Radio 4 PM, to find it leading with the Climategate story, and how Saudi Arabia was saying that no agreement could be reached at Copenhagen in the light of these revelations. There followed quite a long report featuring a couple of the BBC staffers, Harrabin and Black, who told the story pretty straight, if managing to play down the influence of the revelations on the science.

Also interviewed was Professor Edward Acton, Vice Chancellor of the University of East Anglia, who said that he'd asked Sir Muir Russell, recently-retired Vice Chancellor of the University of Glasgow, to head an enquiry. Asked by PM's Eddy Mair when he first learned of the matter, he replied, "The 18th" and then went on to say, rather hesitantly, that the story broke two or three days later. That's odd, because 'FOIA' posted a message on the Air Vent on 17 November, and that's when the story first broke on the internet. I learned about it on the 19th when it appeared on WUWT, and wrote about it a couple of days later. Similar questions were raised about Professor Phil Jones of the UEA Hadley Climate Research Centre when he spoke about the hack on 19 November and said (from memory) that he'd only just found out.

Also a bit odd was hearing Eddy Mair say that the emails had been generating great controversy. Well, yes, they had - but not on the BBC. The question Eddie Mair asked of Acton could equally have been asked of Eddy Mair. When did he first hear about the controversy?

I suppose that once the Saudis had raised the matter of the hacked emails, and the UEA had announced an enquiry, the BBC could no longer sit on the story. Or maybe it's right that it should have held back from reporting the internet furore rather than plunge in immediately. It's history now, because this story is now well and truly mainstream. But the sense remains that the BBC would rather that the story had just gone away.

Elsewhere, on the Wall Street Journal, Daniel Henninger perceives the threat the scandal poses not just to climate science, but to the reputation of science as a whole.

Surely there must have been serious men and women in the hard sciences who at some point worried that their colleagues in the global warming movement were putting at risk the credibility of everyone in science. The nature of that risk has been twofold: First, that the claims of the climate scientists might buckle beneath the weight of their breathtaking complexity. Second, that the crudeness of modern politics, once in motion, would trample the traditions and culture of science to achieve its own policy goals. With the scandal at the East Anglia Climate Research Unit, both have happened at once.

I don't think most scientists appreciate what has hit them. This isn't only about the credibility of global warming...

Global warming enlisted the collective reputation of science. Because "science" said so, all the world was about to undertake a vast reordering of human behavior at almost unimaginable financial cost.

Quite so. There's too much lousy science around these days. And once the lid has been ripped off the corrupt climate science process, perhaps people will start to notice some of the equally corrupt science that underpins the science of Environmental Tobacco Smoke, and indeed all antismoking science, which has been used to justify imposing by law an equally vast reordering of human behaviour in their social lives, as smokers have been expelled from bars and restaurants all round the world. And that's not something the world has been about to undertake, but which it is currently undertaking right now.

POSTSCRIPT: If the BBC has begun to rather unwillingly report Climategate, the same doesn't seem to be true in the USA.

ABC, CBS and NBC morning and evening news programming has remained silent – not mentioning a word about the scandal since it broke on Nov. 20,
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