How the BBC manufactures ignorance on climate change

 CC3by Guest

September 11, 2010 at 12:01 pm

contribution by Hengist McStone

In ”Manufacturing Consent” Noam Chomsky laments that the attention span of television news reporting is so short that only conventional thoughts can be expressed. He calls it ‘concision’.

Global warming advocates are particularly susceptible to concision because of all the uncertainties and unravelling decades of misinformation.

The narrative goes that the scientists present a dire prediction then the skeptical mass media ask how bleak? When the scientists express uncertainty the media move on. The effect is one of uncertain scientists rather than the bleak outlook.

This trick was skilfully played when Kirsty Wark on Newsnight (23rd August 2010) asked are the floods in Pakistan due to climate change? James Hansen fairly observes essentially changing the climate is like loading a dice.

A more unstable climate is more likely to give us extreme weather events and hence there will be more extreme weather events. But nailing a specific extreme weather event and asking if it is down to climate change is a different ball game*, and whilst the science, and effects of climate change are so hotly disputed one has to ask what purpose does such a question serve?

BBC news programmes habitually present climate related matters as two sided , a duel between skeptics and everyone else. For expert opinion the BBC chose Dr. Ghassem Asrar, a man with academic credentials in climate science as long as your arm who was cited as from the World Climate Research Project but is also from NASA.

A doctor with membership of five professional societies and numerous awards was not enough for the BBC so they called on Andrew Montford a chartered accountant from Kinross. An odd choice for the question at hand because Montford’s credentials are that he cannot agree on what the climate has been over the last millenium. Montford largely agreed with the eminent doctor, so was he on the programme for balance or for concision?

A chilling theme of the debate was that now that climate change is upon us, mitigation is obsolete and the question becomes how to adapt. Wark suggested proacive work be done in the form of local levees. But carbon was not mentioned once.

The consensus inevitably reached was that you can’t say that these particular floods in Pakistan are due to climate change.

At the end of the debate Wark asked after climategate are scientists becoming more cautious in pronouncing on what could be aspects of global warming? Montford was asked “do you accept climate change is a grave risk facing us all,” to which he blustered “errm from my perspective I think the answer is I don’t know. I think mankind is affecting the climate but whether it’s a little or a lot , I think , in reality we really just don’t know.”

‘We really just don’t know’ is the so called informed opinion they would like to leave you with on climate change.

You’ve got to hand it to those folks at the BBC – they are skilled propagandists. Wark deserves particular opprobrium for fronting this angle, which seems trivial with two million homeless and thousands dead . Of course it’s anything but trivial , such is the twisted nature of the media’s reporting of our changing climate. — ‘Hengist McStone’ runs a blog monitoring the BBC’s ignorant reporting of climate matters. If you spot anything, get in touch

Red Dragon Rising

By Mark A Aselstine

climate change 2 CC3Any time I see a military thriller with a recommendation from Tom Clancy who virtually invented the genre with his Jack Ryan series of novels (think Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger and many others) it’s a novel I’m interested in reading.

Red Dragon Rising is the initial work by Larry Bond and Jim DeFelice which paint a bleak picture of the world in the near future. To start, global warming has begun in full force and is wreaking havoc on the world in general. The United States has come out ahead because much of the northern portion of the country has been able to farm for the remaining parts which are now too dry and warm to effectively grow food for the nation. Overall, the diverse and varied American economy has had struggles, but has been able to survive. The rest of the world is in much worse shape including China and India which are experiencing major water shortages with China facing massive food related problems because their rice industry has been decimated by the warmer weather.

The result of this massive resource shortage has China making plans to attack Vietnam and then roll through the rest of Asia with a long term plan of overtaking the Western portion of the United States.

The main protagonist in the novel is a scientist who has survived a vicious attack on his family as a child, so he knows generally how to live in the wilderness for some time alone as well as how to use a gun. He was in Vietnam working for the United Nations on climate change when his scientific expedition of three individuals was attacked by the Chinese army which was in Vietnam for a scouting expedition.

Overall the book was well written and provided a quick, enjoyable read. I do however get tired of China always being the enemy in these types of stories, for a country with no historical interest in dominating all of Asia, I find it interesting that was the basis for the entire book.

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Climate Change and Nepal

By Ujjwol Lamichhane

mp central nepal1 CC3Nepal is a small landlocked country in South Asia. The nation of the Mount Everest and the great Himalayas is now facing several consequences of climate change. “No country on earth has some much natural diversity and no where apart from the poles is climate change happening so fast. The glaciers are retreating, the monsoon rains are becoming more intense and farming is getting harder than ever.”

Although the share of Nepal in the global emission of greenhouse gases is negligible, many bitter consequences having started ruling Nepal. In the recent years, Nepal is witnessing continuous disturbances in its ecology due to climate change resulting floods, severe landslides, soil erosion and effects of the climate change.

Climate Change refers to any change in climate over time, whether due to natural variability or as a result of human activity. The changes are attributed directly or indirectly to human activity which alters the composition of the global atmosphere and that is in addition to natural climate variability. This bridge, at Phunki Tengi in Sagarmatha National Park, was destroyed in a flood in the summer of 2007. Climate change is also responsible for erratic weather patterns such as the thick haze that covers many parts of the southern plains of the country during winter seasons which destroys crops and livelihoods. The intensified monsoon is also creating hundreds of different environmental refugees. The unpredicted rainfall is making farming difficult. Thousand hectors of agricultural lands have turned into sand bank. Nepal is on the front line of climate change and variations which for some people the changes are catastrophic.

The rain is now very different and are increasingly unpredictable.It’s more concentrated and intense. It means that crop yields are going down. Many cultivable land are being progressively washed by big and small rives like Narayani river,Koshi river, Tirshuli river and others. Observations records that some of the fastest long-term increases in temperatures and rainfall is seen in Nepal. At least 44 of Nepal’s and neighbouring Bhutan’s Himalayan lakes, which collect glacier meltwater, are said by the UN to be growing so rapidly they they could burst their banks within a decade. Any climate change in Nepal is reflected throughout the region. Nearly 400 million people in northern India and Bangladesh also depend on rainfall and rivers that rise there.

The flooding is not usually too severe in Gaighat, but it can ruin fields and destroy crops in the nearby villages. Causes of floods in the country are often triggered by rapid melting of snow and ice in high mountain regions. The increasing melting of the Glacier Lakes in the Himalaya due to exposure to warmer temperature, is main cause of floods in the nation. Due to this, several people are killed and thousands are rendered homeless in this nation adding to the poverty of this poor nation.

Rise of temperature in the capital city of the nation, Kathmandu is also a severe consequences of the global climate change in Nepal. The mean temperature during summer and winter season raised by more than 1 and about 2 degree Celsius progressively in recent years. This is an severe consequences of the human induced climate change. Similar trends are seen in southern Terai plains. In these regions extreme temperatures including heat wave and cold stream are witnessed frequently during summer and winter season respectively. Loss of human lives due to cold stream is always reported every year in Nepal.

A group calling themselves Climate Change Refugees gathered on 17th Avenue in Calgary, Alberta on December 8th, 2007 for the International Day of Action on Climate Change The increasing developments that causes emission of green house gases in the developed countries is resulting is a severe environmental problems in many poorer nation like Nepal. The shift in weather conditions causes these nations to face several calamities like flood, droughts, landslides, soil erosion, shift in farming practices and productivity and many other social consequences. With further increase in global temperature its impacts on human being is increasing tremendously. So this is time that we realize the impacts of the global climate change and start action to counter attack it.

Petermann Ice Island – Now There Are Two

petermann1 300x192 CC3

By logicman Created Sep 10 2010 – 6:29pm Petermann Ice Island – Now There Are two

Petermann Ice Island (2010) has now broken into two parts. The smaller island is about 80 km2. It is the thinner of the two and is likely to melt away first. Based on the labels already in use in comments1, I shall designate the larger island as Petermann 2010-A and the smaller one as Petermann 2010-B. The importance of the Petermann Glacier calving to climate science is not so much that it happened, but that it was predicted to happen. Quite a few predictions were made by people working independently as individuals or groups and using different techniques for prediction. Science and Prediction Science is of such great use to society because of its powers of prediction. Dmitri_Mendeleev predicted the existence of eight elements – since discovered – from his observations of the systematic sets of properties of other chemical elements. The planet Neptune was discovered in 1846 when astronomers searched for a planet in a region where one was predicted to exist based on mathematical models of the Newtonian mechanics of our solar system. The ability to extrapolate and interpolate data is what makes the logical processes of science so powerful and so useful to humanity. Every day, doctors base their prognosis – a prediction of the future – on the patient’s past history and present symptoms. The incontestable fact that the calving was predicted using the scientific method – and that it happened – is a public demonstration of the power of science to predict the future. This evidence of the validity of the scientific method should be enough to convince any rational person that when climate scientists from the world’s nations agree that the world’s climate is changing, then it is changing. The insurance industry is founded on the idea that risk assessment is a viable economic activity. Professional insurers – level headed business people – accept the scientific evidence of the reality of global warming and climate change.

The Petermann Glacier Calving 2010 I have already given credit to others for their predictions and observations in previous articles, such as Petermann Ice Island Revisited. Here, I shall focus on my own predictions to give a context to the current event: the breaking in two of the ice island.. I first predicted the imminent calving of Petermann Glacier, July 17th 2010, in my article Arctic Ice July 2010 – Update #3: ” I predict some dramatic calving this year.” The image, which I published July 17th shows where I expected to see fractures develop due to mechanical forces in the ice. I then predicted, in Arctic Ice July – Update #4, July 22nd 2010, “The Petermann ice tongue looks primed to lose a few fairly large floes any day now.” I meant that I expected a large area to break up into substantial ice islands.The calving was first reported as a news item on August 5th 2010 here at in Arctic Newsflash! Petermann Ice Tongue Loses Huge Chunk, 24 hours before any other news outlet. I was surprised that the area which I had predicted to calve survived calving intact. The ice island drifted towards Nares Strait but then ceased drifting. The ice island is tapered from front to back, as is the entire glacier tongue. The Petermann Fjord has never been fully surveyed. The surveys which have been conducted reveal a sill across the fjord with a depth of about 200m at the edges to 350 or 450m at the center4. If the sill is surmounted by piles of glacial debris, especially at the edges, this could impede the movement of an ice island of sufficient depth. The deepest, hindmost part of the ice island is about 200m thick5.

A gentle Bump Observing that the ice island moved forward again shortly after a spring tide – September 27th – I suggested that it might not move much again until the next spring tide – September 8th. It appears to me that the ice island moved forward until its ‘notch’ stuck against Joe Island. There was no journalistic ‘smash’ or ‘crash’ of ice against land. The ice island was travelling at a very low speed. Even so, given the huge mass, the momentum would have been sufficient to cause the mass to break across a pre-existing weak point. I had already predicted that the ice island would not stay in one piece for long. It hasn’t. Petermann Ice Island (2010)

Note the meltpools and streams on the surface. There are many cracks and stress points, so this ice island is most unlikely to stay in one piece for long. However many pieces it breaks into, those pieces will be impacted by hundreds of icebergs from the rapidly calving Humboldt Glacier in passing through Kane Basin. A series of ever-smaller ice islands will – I suggest – move in a stop-start fashion as they follow currents and continually run aground. August 25 2010 Petermann Ice Island Revisited The ice island has not survived the short, slow journey from Petermann Fjord to Nares Strait as a single mass. The chance of the two parts not breaking up further when they move at speed into obstacles is effectively zero. In Nares Strait and Kane Basin there are many places where a tabular iceberg can run aground or be trapped. Nares Strait is a warm water polynya. Even when the sea freezes over, these ice islands will continue to be eroded from below by warm water. In Kane Basin, until the sea freezes over these ice islands would be bombarded by hundreds of icebergs from Humboldt Glacier. Very soon now, even if the Nares Polynya remains as open water, the sea will begin to freeze in Baffin Bay. These ice islands, or their fragments, will not travel far until next spring.

Want to Combat Climate Change? Ignore Congress

Friday 10 September 2010

by: Sarah Laskow | The Media Consortium | News Analysis

Congress comes back into session next week, but environmentalists and climate change activists have given up on the legislature. Instead, activists are planning to spur popular concern about these issues, until calls for change are so loud that Congress must listen.

Today, climate change reformer Bill McKibben will ask President Obama to reinstall a solar panel that first graced the White House roof during the Carter presidency. In the months to come, advocates hope to lead more radical direct actions that force more Americans to confront the issues at hand—and hopefully pressure change from the bottom up.

For the past two years, Congress has flirted with action on climate change, only to shy away time and time again. Environmental groups have spent record sums on courting lawmakers to no avail. McKibben and other environmental advocates are now convinced that they must bypass elected representatives and instead work to convince constituents that the country must do something to address global warming.

Direct Action

McKibben, the environmental author who now leads an international climate campaign called 350.0rg, along with Phil Radford and Becky Tarbotton, both heads of environmental groups, wrote to potential allies against the energy industry in Yes! Magazine.

“We’re not going to beat them by asking nicely,” the three wrote. “We’re going to have to build a movement, a movement much bigger than anything we’ve built before, a movement that can push back against the financial power of Big Oil and Big Coal. That movement is our only real hope, and we need your help to plot its future.”

These three leaders see a greater role for direct action in pushing America to scale down its energy use, move towards renewable energy, and abandon its dirty energy habits. As civil rights and suffrage advocates suggest, to move the populace, “to effectively communicate both to the general public and to our leaders the urgency of the crisis,” climate activists must “put our bodies on the line.”

Those for who have suggestions on how to move forward can contact these leaders at They hope to draw on submitted ideas for actions in the spring.

Clean Energy Victory Bonds

Those less inclined to take to the streets still have options for supporting clean energy. The Nation’s Peter Rothberg suggests supporting the idea of Clean Energy Victory Bonds (CEVB), as conceived by the group Green America. This idea requires Congress to pass legislation, but “it seems like a no-brainer,” Rothberg writes.

According to Green America, CEVBs would benefit the economy, the environment, and investors, by uniting individuals, communities, and companies to help finance the rapid deployment of renewable energy projects and energy efficiency upgrades,” he says. Other benefits: it’s a safe and potentially flexible investment, and the bonds could help create 1.7 million jobs.

Easy to Ignore Climate Change

At this point, the push for direct action almost seems like a more sensible investment of political energy, at least. Climate change has dropped in importance for most Americans, so it’s easy for Congress to ignore the problem. As Kevin Drum explains for Mother Jones, “The high-water mark for public opinion on climate change was in 2005 or so, and we’ve been losing ground ever since. Until we get it back, Congress is going to continue to do nothing.”

It appears that, without broad popular pressure for some sort of action, Congress feels comfortable leaving aside even policy proposals that the majority of Americans support. One of the sticking points of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) energy bill has been a renewable energy standard (RES), a requirement that the country will increase the percentage of its power generated from clean energy sources within a certain time frame.


The idea is popular, as David Roberts writes at Grist, citing a Pew/National Journal poll showing that 78 percent of all respondents and 70% of Republicans favored an RES.

“Not many policies get this kind of bipartisan support these days,” Roberts writes. “People are fond of saying energy should be a bipartisan issue and surely reasonable people can agree, etc. Well, here it is, happening.”

What’s more, an RES would go a long way towards spurring private sector investment in clean energy. Lew Hay, the CEO of NextEra, a major clean energy company, has said that an RES would spur his company to invest billions of additional dollars in wind and solar development.

East vs. Midwest

Passing an RES would also mean pushing the renewable energy industry to hash out a viable infrastructure for a clean energy future.

“As the nation looks to move to a renewable energy standard, a lot of that really comes down to how to meet the energy needs of the East coast,” Jamie Karnik, the communications manager at a wind advocacy group, told The Washington Independent’s Andrew Restuccia. “Certainly people who are building wind in the Midwest, have their eye on the eastern market.”

The problem is, Restuccia reports, that entrepreneurs on the East Coast want a chance to develop off-shore wind farms. Ultimately, the country will need new electric lines to transport energy created from clean sources, but right now, competition among clean energy manufacturers could delay the construction of those lines.

Maybe climate change activists can come up with some ideas to push the clean energy industry along faster, too.

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