The latest IPCC report has provoked the inevitable articles, and the inevitable articles have been as predictable as they have been inevitable.
Bob Ward, at the Guardian tells us that:
The dangers if governments ignore efforts to limit warming to 1.5C are more grave than the summary makes out.. There is no mention in the report’s summary of important thresholds that might, for example, cause shifts in the occurrence of the monsoons in Africa or Asia.
The report’s summary for policymakers paints a sobering picture.. Incredibly, the stark summary is still a relatively conservative assessment of the consequences we might face if global warming does exceed 1.5C. The report is a comprehensive review of the published evidence painstakingly compiled by hundreds of authors and reviewers… but it omits some of the biggest risks of climate change, which are described in the full text.
For instance, the summary indicates that warming of 2C would have very damaging impacts on many parts of the world. But it does not mention the potential for human populations to migrate and be displaced as a result, leading to the possibility of war.
It is not clear why such crucial information has been left out of the summary. Perhaps the authors felt that there are too many uncertainties in our knowledge to be definitive. But the danger is that policymakers will assume the absence of these very significant risks from the summary means that researchers have assessed them to be unimportant or impossible.
Yes. The danger is that if Chicken Licken is not warned that, not only is the sky likely to fall on his head, but that the earth is likely to explode under his bum, he might be lulled into a sense of false security. Hence the necessity of Bob Ward and his salaried position at one of Britain’s most prestigious universities, financed by one of the worlds most prominent
climate experts hedge fund managers..
Thanks to the like of Bob Ward, the importance of the IPCC report has come to the notice of our most venerated media. Alex Cull, in a comment at
refers us to a sequence on BBC’s Newsnight where the important journalist interviews an important climate political player, and then tells him to shut up because he clearly doesn’t know anything, because he disagrees with the scientists. The journalist, one of the BBC’s finest, clearly has no idea what he’s talking about. Does it matter that one of the BBC’s most respected journalists behaves like a Radio Moscow stooge circa 1930 faced with the evidence that Lysenkoism doesn’t work? Perhaps not, since no-one but Alex seems to have noticed.
I’ve rather neglected climate catastrophe during the past few months, since I’ve been concentrating on blogs about the coming global economic catastrophe. Apologies to my grandchildren and all that, but the coming economic crisis is going to affect me far more than a predicted temperature rise of 0.1°C over my predicted remaining years. Not that I have any shares or anything, but the coming economic crisis is going to result in drastic measures by desperate governments, which will have us all out in the streets throwing stuff at each other, while the climate crisis is entirely one sided, and therefore boring. Who can the 97% throw stuff at?
There’s a significant similarity between the journalism reporting on the global economy and that reporting of global climate change: both are unhealthily obsessed with a single graph indicating the change over time of a single statistic: in the one case, of share prices; in the other, of the global temperature anomaly. Both record chaotic non-linear phenomena; both are stochastic in spades; and in both cases, no-one has the foggiest idea what’s going on.
There, the similarity ends. Success as a financial journalist depends on finding a hundred different synonyms for “going up” and “going down,” like some autistic lift (US: elevator) attendant. The environmental journalist doesn’t need that linguistic facility; it’s always up. His trick is to find ways to link the upward movement in temperature, sea level etc. to environmental catastrophe / disaster / weirding /end of life as we know it.
And here’s a funny thing: financial journalists love showing us their graphs with variation over decades or years or weeks or even hours. While climate catastrophists never do. Have you ever tried discussing global temperature anomalies with one of the 97% of your acquaintances who believe fervently that the end of the world is nigh? Are they basing their belief on GISSTEMP, HADCRUT, UAH or RSS? No, not one of those. Because the sources of their information, the New York Times or the Guardian, would soil their nappies (US: diapers) before they would publish a graph which supported their thesis. Guardian Environment does climate catastrophe, not graphs. Would you ask a virgin to publish a photo of her hymen? Exactly.
It’s no coincidence that the stock market’s Big Bang coincided to within a year or two with the onset of climate hysteria:
[The phrase Big Bang, used in reference to the sudden deregulation of financial markets, was coined to describe measures, including …change … to electronic, screen-based trading, effected by Margaret Thatcher in 1986: Wikipaedia]
The same computer technology that enables traders to access share price data instantaneously in visual form permitted the climate crunchers to transform data from far flung thermometers and ships’ logs into temperature graphs in the twinkling of an eye, and to adjust their curves with a flick of the
wrist model, just as the oscillations in a child’s skipping rope can be adjusted, accompanied by the appropriate skipping rhyme scientific explanation:
Charlie Chaplin went to France
To teach the ladies how to dance.
First the heel, then the toe,
Then the splits, and around you go!
Salute to the Captain, bow to the Queen,
And turn your back on the Nazi submarine!
The language of financial journalism is binary. The trick is to get your positive article (going up) published just before the market soars / surges / leaps, and contrariwise your pessimistic article out just before it dips / plunges. There are two kinds of financial journalists – bulls and bears. This means that some are right and some are wrong; there are winners and losers. while in environmental journalism there are only winners, and they’re bears (of the polar kind of course) and they’re threatened. Binarity (duality, duplicity, disagreement?) is out. Consensus rules. It’s strictly monotone, monotonous, or possibly monotreme (one hole to expel them all..) like the duck billed platypus, or the IPCC, which dispatches all its business via the one orifice.
And this is climate journalism’s fundamental weakness. Climate change is a spectator sport where the same team always wins. And, as it’s been noted with respect to reaction to the latest IPCC report on this site at
and also by Anthony Watts at
the message is not having the desired effect.
Maybe in the run up to the World Cup you read a few dozens of those millions of predictions of the likely result. Imagine if the thousands of experts involved had all had their predictions compiled into one report by FIFA, edited by the matches’ referees as lead authors. Would you have read it? Well, you might have, since it was guaranteed to give you the correct result. But would you have read it with the same interest? Possibly not.
No one likes the inevitable. It’s boring. My advice to the BBC is to inject a little doubt into their reporting. Because when there’s no alternative but to believe, no one gives a toss.
“What is the sound of one hand clapping?” ask the Zen masters. “Who cares?” reply the science-minded. When only one hand claps, the other is no doubt otherwise occupied.