The worst lie in Climate Change – The Facts?
Which was the worst lie in the BBC’s climate propaganda programme? There is a lot of competition, but my vote goes to Michael Mann’s claim, just a minute in, that
“All of this is happening far faster than
anymany of us thought possible.”
There is so much wrong with this statement and the way the BBC presented it that it deserves its own blog post.
To start with, the BBC programme makers have taken this out of context so we don’t what the “this” Mann is referring to, which is a pretty dishonest tactic.
But it immediately follows a false claim by Mark Maslin’s about greater storms and floods, another strong contender for the award. We know that the IPCC says
- “Current datasets indicate no significant observed trends in global tropical cyclone frequency over the past century” and
- “In summary, there continues to be a lack of evidence and thus low confidence regarding the sign of trend in the magnitude and/or frequency of floods on a global scale”.
So the claim is that something that isn’t happening at all is happening faster than anyone expected.
Maybe Mann wasn’t talking about storms and floods. Maybe that dishonest juxtaposition was down to the BBC programme makers, the director Serena Davies or the scientific consultant Chris Rapley.
Perhaps Mann was talking about the rate of global warming? Well, if so, that would still be a lie. Recall Kevin ‘Travesty’ Trenberth’s comments: “Well I have my own article on where the heck is global warming? … The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t.” There is also the awkward (for Mann) fact that the IPCC acknowledged the pause/hiatus/slowdown in warming.
Maslin’s comment is also a soundbite taken out of context, so we don’t know exactly what his full statement was (it’s possible that he might not have been lying – he might have been referring to model predictions of what could happen in the future). But his comment is preceded by Richard Lazarus saying it’s ‘right now’, accompanied by relentless imagery of storms, lightning, and crashing vehicles. It is the juxtaposition by the BBC of these three statements that forms a disgustingly dishonest lie:
Richard Lazarus: What we’re doing right now is we’re so rapidly changing the climate, for the first time in the world’s history people can see the impact of climate change.
Mark Maslin: Greater storms, greater floods, greater heatwaves, extreme sea-level rise.
Michael Mann: All of this is happening far faster than
anymany of us thought possible.
Edit Aug 2019: listening again, it seems that Mann said “many” rather than “any”.
Dear Climate Skeptic,
I’m not a BBC defender. Some program programs present a certain view some don’t. I do think a double standard is in operation with the BBC. Listen to ‘Radio 4’ / World Service then compare it with the material they are putting out more broadly. It is like ‘we’re not bothered what we put on the Radio 4, you can tell the truth, nobody listens it, apart from an already well informed audience, we can’t pull the wool over their eyes..’.
Climate change is very difficult to assess and predict. I’d like to think that Gaia/homeostasis will fix it – but it’s best not to p…her…o…. answers on a postcard 🙂
There’s got to be something wrong with me, but when someone says, “All of this is happening far faster than any of us thought possible”, my first reaction is to think, “Well there must be something fundamentally wrong with the foundation upon which you formed your expectations.” One doesn’t think, “It seems to be turning out that you were righter than anyone had thought possible.”
But, as Paul says, what can we really make of a statement that seems to have been cut and pasted for the purposes of constructing a collage of lies.
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“To start with, the BBC programme makers have taken this out of context so we don’t what the “this” Mann is referring to, which is a pretty dishonest tactic.”
If “All this” isn’t already in complete context, which is highly likely for Mann, he’d probably commend the BBC for putting it into better context.
This disgraceful piece of work will probably get seen by millions more folks over the next few months. Surely a good few of them will be shocked by it. Is this it? Is this the best they can do? This tawdry, histrionic parade of deceit after deceit? Well I never, they might well say. I never will take the likes of them at their word again. And so, some good may come of it: more eyes opened, more jaws dropped at the effrontery of Big Alarm. This post and Jaime’s series will help with such transitions by providing chapter and verse of the wickedness for all to see.
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John R: If it’s wrong with you, it’s wrong with me too. But there’s something even stranger for me in the attitude to two key numbers: the target of a ‘safe’ increase in temperature from pre-industrial levels we are being asked to aim for, by Attenborough, Greta, XR, Uncle Tom Cobley and all, and climate sensitivity.
As I said of the first earlier:
When was that massive change made? (Genuine question, to those with better memories than me.) And what does it tell us about the reliability of climate impact calculations prior to that? And indeed now?
Meanwhile, by contrast, the IPCC estimate for Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity has stayed wonderfully the same as those by its forebears, for the best part of 50 years:
But what a range. So how much have we learned from all those research grants? Nic Lewis – see Nic Lewis disputes necessity for zero emissions in 2050 – and his co-author Judith Curry would argue that we can learn quite a lot from real-world data and fairly basic energy models, pointing firmly in the direction of the low end of the IPCC range. But official consensus science isn’t having any of it.
These two pillars taken together look incredibly wonky from where I sit. One is a single number that changes dramatically with hardly a critical comment from so-called scientists. One is a range that stays the same for over forty years, in order to allow the ‘worst case’ to remain frightening. (Sorry, ascribed a motive there. But what kind of science accepts this prolonged ignorance, again without criticism?)
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It is difficult to select the most offensive bit of fecal matter from the large pile created by the BBC and Sir David.
I think that, like basically all climate extremist claims, this pile will just sort of slide off towards the waste bin of history.
In Australia Jennifer Marohasy is showing the fibs of the consensus regarding coral very effectively.
I think this is the way to go forward.
Just tell the truth.
Maybe even the young royals will see that Sir David is actually selling sham tailor services…but then sometimes I am an optimist.
The lies are an inevitable result of the format. Even if the participants were all entirely honest, the fact that the narrative is spliced together from different interviews conducted at different times, with no context, makes it impossible to know exactly what each person is referring to. It can’t possibly be the previous comment, because of the fact that time only flows in one direction, so some of the comments must inevitably have been made prior to the comments they follow (unless they kept popping across the Atlantic to redo previous interviews.)
I see the hand of a director/producer terrified that two consecutive sentences from the same talking head is more than her audience can take. Since the programme is aimed at Thunberg fans, she’s probably right.
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John. I wish I could believe your optimistic view of how the Attenbollucks will be received by the regular viewer, but I am much more pessimistic. They will be more impressed by who is presenting it (many of them grew to ‘luv natur’ from watching his many programmes), by what they can observe with their own eyes on the screen (oh those poor bats!, yes I remember those dreadful forest fires), by what we are being told by all those important top scientists. Yes they might hear about some opposition, but stacked up against what they’ve seen, soon dismissed. How many will read Jaime?
My view is that Attenbolluck’s latest opus has been extraordinarily powerful, but not for the side of truth and reason. I predict it will be used for years by the public as evidence that climate change is happening, is caused by us, and is dangerous. I view it as an enormous setback.
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When you look at Mann’s interview snippets throughout the program, a lot of what he had to say concerned the impacts of extreme weather, particularly, wildfires, droughts, storms, heatwaves.
“When there’s more moisture in the air, you’re gonna get more rainfall, you’re gonna get super storms and force flooding events. We are seeing the impacts of climate change now, play out in real time. They’re no longer subtle.”
“We’ve seen wildfires break out in Greece, and even in the Arctic.”
“We’ve seen a tripling in the extent of wildfire in the Western US, in California… ”
So I’m guessing that when he says at the beginning of the program that “all of this is happening far faster than any of us thought possible” he is indeed referring to Maslin’s “Greater storms, greater floods, greater heatwaves, extreme sea-level rise”.
So, in other words, what he’s saying and what the program is saying is that most or all of the extreme weather events and associated impacts we have seen recently can be attributed to climate change – which, of course, is complete bullshit, but most viewers wouldn’t realise that.
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I agree with your analysis entirely. I fear that, already, the BBC is preaching to the converted. Attenborough wasn’t pushing for victory in the battle for hearts and minds; he was glorifying in the magnitude of his hegemony. Remember, he was presenting the ‘facts’, and he has been granted exclusive rights to broadcast them. However, it isn’t his skill as a naturalist that has placed him in that position of privilege, it is his standing as a broadcaster and science communicator. The poor quality of the science on show is neither here nor there. It was a master-class in propaganda.
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Alan, John. Re the likely impact of Attenborough’s Disgrace, I agree it will mostly viewed by people who will be impressed with it, but I like to think there will be an appreciable number who won’t be. And if the impressed ones seek to use their newly acquired propaganda on others, I also like to think the chances of them encountering a more informed individual will be increasing all the time. Mere optimism perhaps, but optimists have had a decent track-record in the general area of eco-pontification!
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Funny how none of their alarmist predictions ever get close to coming true. The trick is to just keep moving the due date, preferably to beyond the end of one’s career, or likely lifetime.
Oh I do so love it when a set of one’s opinions are described as an “analysis”!
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Jaime: Very helpful confirmation of Mann as the biggest liar, thank you. (You may detect an absence of evidence that I have watched the film or read the transcript. I couldn’t possibly comment/stay awake that long.)
I read the debate between the optimists and pessimists here as I was sitting on a bench-like thingie at the fourth level of the new Tottenham Hotspur stadium, looking out on the old N17. The Spurs fan beside me turned out to be an electrical engineer who knows a lot about how electricity makes it from the main grid all the way to people’s homes, factories and, indeed, electric cars. I shared a little of my perspective as a software guy on climate modelling and the deleterious impact on energy generation and distribution of taking it too seriously. He was very sympathetic. Scare tactics, he intoned. Never a good sign.
So, with that sample of one, I’m an optimist again!
The Attenborough approach may result in overkill, but the memes are still established. In 2006, this BBC piece was asking the question, was everything being overhyped:
“Hardly a day goes by without a new dire warning about climate change. But some claims are more extreme than others, giving rise to fears that the problem is being oversold and damaging the issue.”
The article is interesting because it brings in Myles Allen again, he of the climate litigation industry:
“In 2005 the scientific journal Nature published the first results of a study by Climateprediction.net, a group of UK climate scientists. They had been testing what effect doubling the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere would have on temperature. ”
The vast majority of their results showed that doubling CO2 would lead to a temperature rise of about 3C. Such an increase would have a major impact on the planet. The scientists of Climateprediction.net say that is what you would expect their model to produce, and many other scientists have produced similar results. However a tiny percentage of the models showed very high levels of warming – the highest result was a startling 11C.
When it came to selling the story to journalists, the press release only mentioned one figure – 11C.
The ensuing broadsheet headlines were predictably apocalyptic, from “Global warming is twice as bad as previously thought” to “Screensaver weather trial predicts 10C rise in British temperatures”.
They may be dramatic but they are also wrong.
Dr Myles Allen, principal investigator at Climateprediction.net, blames the media.”
[As he is doing again now, with the 1.5 C IPCC Special Report, of which he was a Lead Author, in his quite appalling piece at the Conversation,
Allen in 2006 again
“If journalists decide to embroider on a press release without referring to the paper which the press release is about, then that’s really the journalists’ problem. We can’t as scientists guard against that.”
But is the media solely to blame?
We asked several climate scientists to read the paper and the press release publicising it. All were critical of the prominence given to the prediction that the world could heat up by 11C.
“I agree the 11C figure was unreasonably hyped. It’s a difficult line for all scientists to tread, as we need something ‘exciting’ to have any chance of publishing… to justify our funding,” one scientist wrote us.”
Such honesty is rare these days.
It really is quite unbelievable how long this onslaught has been going on. This was a Guardian piece also from 2006:
“Climate scientists issue dire warning ” https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2006/feb/28/science.frontpagenews
David Adam, environment correspondent
Tue 28 Feb 2006
“The Earth’s temperature could rise under the impact of global warming to levels far higher than previously predicted, according to the United Nations’ team of climate experts.
A draft of the next influential Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report will tell politicians that scientists are now unable to place a reliable upper limit on how quickly the atmosphere will warm as carbon dioxide levels increase. The report draws together research over the past five years and will be presented to national governments in April and made public next year. It raises the possibility of the Earth’s temperature rising well above the ceiling quoted in earlier accounts.
The shift in position comes as Tony Blair is expected to pledge today to work towards a date for stabilising international greenhouse gas emissions when he meets Stop Climate Chaos, the climate change equivalent of Make Poverty History. The group is campaigning for a target date of 2015 for stabilisation, saying a later date would endanger the planet.
The new IPCC report will underpin international talks on how to cut greenhouse gas emissions when the first phase of the Kyoto protocol expires in 2012.
The IPCC’s removal of the upper temperature estimation is posited on new predictions about how the atmosphere would react to the carbon blanket wrapped around it.”
The IPCC findings mirror a British report on avoiding dangerous climate change published last month, in which Mr Blair admitted that the risks may be more serious than previously thought.
It included a warning from Chris Rapley, head of the British Antarctic Survey, that the huge west Antarctic ice sheet may be starting to disintegrate, an event that would raise sea levels around the world by five metres. “The last IPCC report characterised Antarctica as a slumbering giant in terms of climate change,” he said. “I would say it is now an awakened giant. There is real concern.”
Amazing stuff, but it sticks and the same people keep popping up.
Richard, the 1.5C target was pushed through at COP21 by the High Ambition Coalition, an informal group of national delegations formed in secret about six months before the conference by the Marshall Islands with help from the European Commission.
In another thread you mentioned two XR-supporting ‘key architects’ of the Paris Agreement. One of those XR-supporters is Farhana Yamin, a lawyer who was a climate advisor to the Marshall Islands in the run-up to COP21 and who claims to have played a ‘key role’ in setting up the High Ambition Coalition.
The FT recently said that Yamin had ‘helped midwife’ the Paris Agreement, a fair description if her role in building the High Ambition Coalition was as ‘key’ as she says. ‘Key architect’? Nah. That’s pushing it.
On the BBC complaints page you only get 2000 characters, so I’m putting one in now, with no effort to be clever or original. Numbers of complaints are probably going to count more than quality, so I advise others to do the same.
On a recent visit to the “Science & Environment” [sic] page of the BBC website, I was asked to participate in a survey. It asked me what I liked about the page, so I answered “not a lot”. It asked me what I didn’t like, so I answered: the lack of real science, the lack of concern for the environment, and the obsession with climate. In answer to the question about how they could improve, I suggested they concentrate on real science, have more articles dealing with non-climate environmental stories, and stop proselytising.
That’s funny. The Guardian has a rather similar feature.
Someone has already suggested I think that Extinction Conformism + Attenborough + Thunberg can’t all be a coincidence. Maybe Trump’s games with Venezuela and Iran are going to send oil up to $300 a barrel, and we’re being softened up for a big “now will you all stop flying/driving?” campaign.
I’m going to answer the Guardian and BBC surveys honestly, citing this blog and all.
A Professor of science makes the statement
Those with some basic knowledge of science might be under the impression that this statement would be made from the results of applying some sort of scientific method. A simplified 6 step approach is
1. Ask questions
5. Analyse Data
6. Accept / Reject hypothesis
In matters of climate, the lab experiment is replaced with real-world data that occurs after the hypothesis is made. Viewers might assume that the backing for the claim would be
– A collection of hypotheses that turned out more moderate than the observed climate-related events.
– A total lack of conjectures that have turned out more extreme than actual events.
– Careful data analysis to (a) show trends in the data (b) eliminate false attribution of specific events to believed causes.
This is very broad in scope, as Prof Mann makes a sweeping statement covering an unspecified community, including possibly by scientists with no special expertise in extreme weather and activists with no scientific credentials. This is related in the mind of the viewer to the preceding statement from Prof Maslin of “Greater storms, greater floods, greater heatwaves, extreme sea-level rise.” By making such a sweeping statement it is made false by any three elements above. In my opinion, the simplest falsification is the mainstream claims that have turned out to be either false or gross exaggerations.
Vinny: That’s really helpful info, thank you.
The GWPF have posted their complaint to the BBC.
Click to access BBC-complaint-April2019.pdf
It’s very good, and the points it makes are remarkably similar to this blog post.
Useful reading matter.
Confessions of a climate change researcher, now brought low by climate change anxiety.
Be amazed by her experience and fitness for her role.
Alan, from that Guardian article:
“Hot sunny days in April scare me”. Wow, that is worrying. I love them!