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BBC Wants Evidence of Climate Science Bias

Hemos posted more than 7 years ago | from the give-me-an-example dept.

Censorship 678

Amtiskaw writes "Discussion of climate change is rife with claims and counter-claims of partisanship and bias. Some of the most serious of which being that the scientific community is smothering more skeptical research in the field. Now the BBC is asking for evidence of this self-censorship. From the article: 'Journals are meant to publish the best research irrespective of whether it accepts that the sky is blue, or finds it could really be green ... So the accusations that all is not well at the heart of climate science, and that censorship is rife in organisations which award research grants, the editorial boards of journals and the committees of the IPCC, should be examined seriously. Readers are asked to submit evidence of bias, which the the BBC will then investigate.'" Actually, the phrase "rife with claims and counter-claims" is making more of the counter-claims then they are; the vast body of the evidence indicates climate change is real; Lomborg is the only serious counter-claimaint that I am aware of.

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Journalism? (3, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 7 years ago | (#17100800)

Actually, the phrase "rife with claims and counter-claims" is making more of the counter-claims then they are; the vast body of the evidence indicates climate change is real; Lomborg is the only serious counter-claimaint that I am aware of.

*THUNK*

* AKAImBatman's forehead has hit the desk

Hemos, the entire point of an investigation like this is to uncover if such counter-claims actually exist. If they are being stifled, then you probably wouldn't know about them. Why? Because they're being stifiled.

If such an investigation finds no hidden counter-claims, then we will know for a fact that the claims of stifling are overblown. In that case you may freely state that Lomborg is leading the charge against the current scientific position, and that no other counter-claims exist. But by making presupositions in the story, you are biasing your readership to the outcome. Which could have negative effects on getting the truth out should the BBC find evidence that climatologists are self-censoring their own.

I realize you were trying to be helpful by sharing the information you do know, but journalistic integrity requires that you not make judgements until such an investigation is done. In other words, there are times that it's best to just report the news.

Re:Journalism? (5, Informative)

AndyTheSayer (965008) | more than 7 years ago | (#17100914)

I work in a related field, and don't think that any counter-claims are being stifled. Although it is entirely possible they are escaping my notice, I've not heard of cover-ups or censorship happening. I think the truth simply is that there is a general consensus that the IPCC reports are a good summation of our global knowledge--attempting to give equal space for climate change skepticism is unrepresentative of the scientific community, and in my opinion it creates an illusion of controversy when there really isn't controversy.

Re:Journalism? (2, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 7 years ago | (#17100996)

attempting to give equal space for climate change skepticism is unrepresentative of the scientific community, and in my opinion it creates an illusion of controversy when there really isn't controversy.

That's the entire point of an investigation like this. If no serious dissenting opinions exist, then the noise about counter-claims will be exposed as overblown hearsay. Or the investigation could go all X-Files on us and find that "the truth is really out there". We'll see when the reporters get back with their findings. :)

Re:Journalism? (4, Insightful)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 7 years ago | (#17101270)

That's the entire point of an investigation like this. If no serious dissenting opinions exist, then the noise about counter-claims will be exposed as overblown hearsay.

Ah, but academia is more subtle than that. First, there's the word "serious" you use. How does one determine if it's serious? Tenure-track professors? Well, what if it's rather difficult to get a tenure-track job as a climatologist if you don't advocate the consensus view? One would need a rather good publication record as a grad student/postdoc to do that. What happens, then, if it's difficult to get a contrarian article into a peer-reviewed journal? That's often the case, as it happens. For someone with results that cut against the grain, it can take years to break through the peer review wall, assuming you're able to keep going that long.

This isn't unique to climatology - I've seen other situations in which a highly charged issue that has many believers on one side can squeeze out any last dissent. At best, the standard for publishing a contrarian view is much higher - at worst, reviewers can reject these articles out of hand. This makes it extremely difficult for a budding researcher to get established in a tenure-track position, and then to get tenure.

This is bad enough in purely academic fields - but in something like this that's as much politics as anything, forget it. Right or wrong, there's a serious problem when no one is even taking a serious Devil's Advocate position on things, and I've not seen that.

Re: Journalism? (4, Funny)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 7 years ago | (#17101368)

> That's the entire point of an investigation like this. If no serious dissenting opinions exist, then the noise about counter-claims will be exposed as overblown hearsay. Or the investigation could go all X-Files on us and find that "the truth is really out there". We'll see when the reporters get back with their findings. :)

Nah, the scientists will kidnap the reporters and brainwash them to report that they didn't find a conspiracy.

Re:Journalism? (4, Insightful)

plover (150551) | more than 7 years ago | (#17101032)

The point is not whether counterclaims are being stifled or not. The point is that in reporting the facts, you don't "pick a side". Especially when you're trying to ferret out other quiet cases of science that may be supporting the "other side."

Saying that there's only one serious opposition researcher is almost implying "so everybody else thinks he's wrong." That's hardly the way to give isolated researchers the courage to stand up and say "and I agree with him."

Re:Journalism? (1)

AndyTheSayer (965008) | more than 7 years ago | (#17101230)

I realise the point of the BBC investigation--what I was trying to get across was to say that no, I don't think research is being stifled, and the scientific facts are such that there are (IMO) no sides to pick between. :) But it will be interesting to see what the survey comes out with.

Re: Journalism? (3, Insightful)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 7 years ago | (#17101460)

> The point is not whether counterclaims are being stifled or not. The point is that in reporting the facts, you don't "pick a side".

The bigger point is that you shouldn't mistake Slashdot for journalism.

Re: Journalism? (1)

plover (150551) | more than 7 years ago | (#17101510)

True, he was merely reporting the existence of a news story, and not the story itself. Please forgive my meta-mistake.

Re:Journalism? (4, Interesting)

Martin Blank (154261) | more than 7 years ago | (#17101488)

Dr. William Gray, hurricane researcher out of Colorado State University, has suggested that his funding may have been cut due to his unwillingness to accept the common view of anthropogenic global warming, which he calls "grossly exaggerated." He suggests in the same interview that many of his colleagues who have been around for a long time have similar feelings and experiences.

http://www.discover.com/issues/sep-05/departments/ discover-dialogue/ [discover.com]

Just another contrarian viewpoint because he's too stuck to see it? Or someone whose experience provides the nuances required to see that global warming is a house of cards?

Re:Journalism? (1, Offtopic)

alexhs (877055) | more than 7 years ago | (#17100974)

but journalistic integrity requires
Are you trying to compare Slashdot editors to journalists ? O_O
You must be new here ;)

Re:Journalism? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17101006)

>Actually, the phrase "rife with claims and counter-claims" is making more of the counter-claims then they are; "

Actually, "then" should be "than".

Did we loose (sic) our dictionary?

Re:Journalism? (4, Insightful)

IWannaBeAnAC (653701) | more than 7 years ago | (#17101040)

LOL, you are new at this internet thing, right? Exactly how far do you think you have to go to find claims that global [frontpagemag.com] warming [americasfuture.net] is [enterstageright.com] a [capmag.com] hoax [chronwatch.com]?

Pointing out that the overwhelming majority of such articles in the popular press have zero scientific credibility is merely a public service, and it has NOTHING to do with what the BBC is looking for. The BCC are looking for real, scientific arguments against global warming that have been suppressed by the scientific establishment. You won't find it on some internet tabloid, if it exists at all. It is more likely to be on the homepage of some fringe university researcher in danger of getting fired.

Re:Journalism? (4, Insightful)

PFI_Optix (936301) | more than 7 years ago | (#17101458)

If the BBC is looking for evidence that the world isn't getting warmer, they won't find it. It is. No one is arguing that.

If the BBC is looking for legitimate scientific arguments that there are more explanations to the warming than "omg it's all our fault", then I think they'll dig up some good researh, even if they don't find the smoking gun they're looking for.

Re:Journalism? (2, Interesting)

Sargeant Slaughter (678631) | more than 7 years ago | (#17101476)

Pointing out that the overwhelming majority of such articles in the popular press have zero scientific credibility is merely a public service, and it has NOTHING to do with what the BBC is looking for.

I concur. The article is not talking about anti-global warming articles in the popular press. The BBC is trying to find scientists, yes true scientists with credibility, who see global warming as less of a threat than it is made out to be. These scientitsts would be few and far between because it is not within their interests to downplay global warming. The article is about money, politics, and the tyranny of the majority in the scientific community. Something that I think whould be looked at very carefully and with an unbiased eye. This is a very difficult thing to do when people like the original poster of this article throw around assumptions. You want to hear politics, imagine this:

I'm a researcher who has discovered that my entire field of study is based more on politics than good science. When I applied my own critical thinking skills, I find that the majority opinion of the research community did not completely agree with my findings. I published my results which downplayed the importance of my field on the global scene, with references to all supporting documentation. This report is a threat to anyone recieving funding in the field. In response I am condemned by the scientific community at large, I lose my tenur, and I have to bag groceries at Vons. All the while the pigs who did it to me sit fat and happy sucking up grants that should go to something useful like solving world hunger.

The key problem (5, Insightful)

g2devi (898503) | more than 7 years ago | (#17101238)

I think the key problem with climate change reporting is that it's portrayed as a "you're with us or with them" point of view and if you don't believe the popular dogma, you're one of "them". The problem is, there isn't only one question. Besides the "is it real?" and "are we responsible?" questions, there's also:

* If it is real, is it permanent and not just an earth/solar cycle?

* If it is real (whether or not it is caused by us), is it due to greenhouse gases? (i.e. not deforestation, urban heat islands, the hole in the ozone, or other causes or even a combination of these causes)

* If it is real (whether or not it is caused by us), what is the real impact if nothing is done? (Even if the cause is greenhouse gases, it may make more sense to grow the necessary number of forests to absorb the gas as our gas output increases or find some other way to solidify/trap greenhouse gases.)

* If it is real (whether or not it is caused by us), can anything be done to reverse it? (If not, then while it's common sense to try to reduce the impact, it makes a lot of sense to either invest in technologies to either live with it or leave earth).

Unfortunately, the issue has become so politicized that these other more important questions are being drowned out or viewed as "avoiding the real issue" by the dogmatists.

Re:The key problem (2, Informative)

Brandybuck (704397) | more than 7 years ago | (#17101452)

Yes, that's the core of the problem right there. This whole thing is a publicity stunt by the BBC, because scientists are definitely *NOT* all agreeing with the general media assertion that global warming is new, and the result of man-made CO2, and that there's a political solution. When it comes to evidence, the range of opinions is even greater. Does every scientist believe that Antarctica is melting? Does every scientist believe that the ozone "hole" is non-cyclic and man-made? Does every scientist believe that last years hurricane season was the result of global warming?

What will happen when the BBC discovers this? Will they loudly proclaim that there is no bias in climate science, and thus all the biased media misreporting of science must be true? Sadly, I suspect so.

Re:The key problem (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17101464)

* If it is real (whether or not it is caused by us), can anything be done to reverse it? (If not, then while it's common sense to try to reduce the impact, it makes a lot of sense to either invest in technologies to either live with it or leave earth).
Well said. An issue I think many people ignore is that if runaway global warming occurs and we can't do anything about it, then there really is no reason to worry about extreme conservation. It will only make a 2 degree temperature change occur in 50 years instead of 55 years. If the threshold for runaway global warming has already been passed the only solution is planetary engineering. Either we have to put lots of sulfur in the upper atmosphere for a temporary fix, we extract the CO2 in enormous calcite production plants, or we do it the Futurama way [youtube.com].

Global climate has never been static (4, Informative)

stankulp (69949) | more than 7 years ago | (#17100812)

The Physical Evidence of Earth's Unstoppable 1,500-Year Climate Cycle

http://www.ncpa.org/pub/st/st279/ [ncpa.org]

Re:Global climate has never been static (1)

sg_oneill (159032) | more than 7 years ago | (#17100922)

Ah yeah. I forgot about that whole thing with conservative economic thinktanks being the centers for excelence in climate research.........

Re:Global climate has never been static (1)

'nother poster (700681) | more than 7 years ago | (#17100984)

So, are you implying they are wrong because the science they use is flawed, or because they are a "conservative economic thinktank"?

Re:Global climate has never been static (2, Insightful)

thrillseeker (518224) | more than 7 years ago | (#17101210)

because they are conservative and because they are focused on economics and because they have a different conclusion than he wants in advance. Look at the complete instant dismissal of that unrecognized great under appreciated scientifically backed conclusion by Hemos in the summary ... "the phrase "rife with claims and counter-claims" is making more of the counter-claims then they are" ... does anyone think that any conclusion other than the popular one is going to be evaluated on its merits?

Re:Global climate has never been static (1)

Zondar (32904) | more than 7 years ago | (#17101400)

So you're not challenging the science, just the interpretation?

Re:Global climate has never been static (2, Interesting)

schnikies79 (788746) | more than 7 years ago | (#17101168)

So it's impossible to be a conservative and believe in global warming? I'm a conservative, a scientist (chemist) and I fully believe that global warming is real and that it because of humans.

I guess I should elaborate. I'm fiscally conservative, not this so called conservative BS that is going on today.

Re:Global climate has never been static (4, Insightful)

Sv-Manowar (772313) | more than 7 years ago | (#17101070)

I don't think that many people are saying the climate doesn't change over time and that us as humans are affecting it greatly, but one of the main claims is that by creating more greenhouse gases and contributing to 'global warming', we are slowing down the process of glaciation. (after the Devensian/Wisconsinan period, the holocene epoch (interglacial period) has lasted longer than usual, and this is what a lot of people are pointing to, despite glacial periods being known for their fluctations in length. Another good theory on it can be found here [reason.com], where it is claimed that he observed warming actually reflects the Urban Heat Island effect, as most readings are done in heavily populated areas which are expanding with growing population (which of course will be hotter due to roads/buildings/people etc trapping heat).

I definitely think it is a good time for people to start investigating the possible bias on this issue, as those who are lobbying government for changes in policy on industry are going to start having serious economic effects (on both companies and the country as a whole) without the majority of the public being aware that global warming is a theory, and not fact, but hey - if global warming is the accepted theory, i'm happy to reduce the methane levels in the atmosphere by eating more steak, heh.

Unstoppable 1,500-Year Climate Cycle (2, Interesting)

The Monster (227884) | more than 7 years ago | (#17101176)

Now we need to see if we can figure out what's causing global warming on Mars. Maybe it's got the same cycle, which in turn might be based on, oh, I don't know,... What do the Earth and Mars have in common that might affect temperatures... the SUN?

Re:Global climate has never been static (0, Flamebait)

MustardMan (52102) | more than 7 years ago | (#17101276)

Right... because physical evidence is so trustworthy, coming from a lobbyist group conveniently located blocks from the white house. Give me something in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, or shut up.

Re:Global climate has never been static (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17101408)

If you actually wanted peer reviewed journal articles you would have looked at the references at the end of the paper which is where they normally appear both in technical journals and in papers intended for a lay audience.

Sounds like denial... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17100820)

If the news is bad, then those reporting it must have something wrong with them - right?

Readers (4, Insightful)

The Zon (969911) | more than 7 years ago | (#17100826)

Why ask readers to submit evidence of bias? Why would they be more likely to find such evidence than scientists making counter-claims? This will probably result in nothing more than readers submitting every article on climate change that they disagree with.

Because scientists read the BBC web-site, too (1)

benhocking (724439) | more than 7 years ago | (#17100982)

TFA is pretty clear that it wants readers with first hand experience (i.e., scientists) to submit this evidence and not just submit articles about such bias that they may have read elsewhere. Doesn't mean that the BBC won't get plenty of those articles, but they have been quite clear about what they want and what they don't want.

best? (2, Insightful)

aristolochene (997556) | more than 7 years ago | (#17100832)

"publish the best research irrespective of whether it accepts that the sky is blue"

Best according to what criteria?

NewSpeak (4, Funny)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 7 years ago | (#17101052)

> Best according to what criteria?

Duh! Best according to it is GoodFact or BadFact. Remember, debate on the issue is now closed so any fact that doesn't support the Official State Truth is sedition against the State and blasphemy against Mother Gaia's wishes as She has revealed them to Al Gore. Any DoublePlus Ungood traitors trying to undermine the State must be hunted down, marked on a list to be shunned and defunded and if that doesn't solve the problem we will put em in reeducation camps after we decide it is Hatespeech.

blue? (1)

dazedNconfuzed (154242) | more than 7 years ago | (#17101246)

A lot of people like to claim the sky is blue.
Yeah, I see a lot of blue up there right now, but there's a bunch of white there too, last night it was black with white dots (actually that's the dominant color this half the year), yesterday evening it was red, and often it is gray.

Lots of people insist the state of nature is invariably X.
Perhaps the earth, on average, has warmed slightly. It happens. Was a lot colder not that long ago, and most of the current (brief) warming seems related to cyclic natural activities.
It's also been a lot colder in some areas.
Things change. Cope. It's not Bush's fault.

Re:blue? (1)

Lostconfused (1019042) | more than 7 years ago | (#17101406)

Yes but thats the problem. Things do change, and if you disturb the status quo, things can get very unhealthy for some people in certain geographical locations. The human race has been rather prolific and found many places in the world to live, it also has adapted to live in those conditions but these conditions can change and we are slow to react so this can cause a lot of problems for us. Global warming doesn't mean that the temperature will rise everywhere, the temperature will be higher in certain places which will cause changes in the climate, eventually these changes can lead to a chain reaction of events that might cause great shifts in the climate and catch most people unawares. Also i agree that this has nothing to do with the current president, or any president of US for the past couple of decades, well not directly. The argument is that the actions of humanity over the last couple of decades are the cause. And its rather easy to believe considering that massive amounts of forests are destroyed and large quantities of fossil fuels are burned. Human activities might have no effect at all, and we are just caught in a cycle, or maybe they do. This whole debate over global warming needs to answer the question of the cause, so then we can try to predict the progress of these changes and prepare for them. But that wont happen until its a couple of years to late.

The only people denying it (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17100840)


are the worlds largest polluting countries who coincidentally are home to the worlds largest polluting companies

to paraphrase their attitude:
screw your/my kids future, that hot tub and new SUV iam buying with my exec bonus are far more important than the world

greed is good , selfishness at its finest

The Media (3, Funny)

Philotic (957984) | more than 7 years ago | (#17100848)

It seems to me that modern news outlets are far too obsessed with presenting a "fair and balanced" viewpoint. Sometimes information doesn't have to be presented with a neat and comprehensive list of counter arguments.

Re:The Media (1, Funny)

dazedNconfuzed (154242) | more than 7 years ago | (#17101098)

It seems to me that modern news outlets are far too obsessed with viewpoints reporters want presented.
Sometimes counter arguments don't get presented because they conflict with a neat theory.

Re:The Media (2, Funny)

SengirV (203400) | more than 7 years ago | (#17101328)

modern news outlets are far too obsessed with presenting a "fair and balanced" viewpoint

Thanks for the biggest laugh of the day.

What does bias mean? (4, Insightful)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#17100852)

As I argued here [slashdot.org], you don't know if there's bias until you see scientists making valid predictions and still being shut out. What counts as a valid prediction in climate sciences? No one is going to say that "next year, global temp. readings will increase by 1 degree". No one will even predict the *sign* of the change next year. What they will predict is trends over e.g., the next five years. But then, you have to gather a statistically significant number of these to rule out luck. So, you'd need to get those right several times to validate your model. Accounting for varing CO2 emissions, of course, complicates it. I doubt there's enough evidence time-history (following a previous prediction) to falsify anyone's theory. That's the problem.

Btw, the summary implies Lomborg denies that climate change is real. That's not true. In The Skeptical Environmentalist, his claim is that the media misrepresent the various probabilities of the different scenarios, and that the costs of significant changes (like Kyoto, and by extension, anything more stringent than Kyoto) are not justified by the benefits they would yield. That's not the same as denying the existence of climate change.

Re:What does bias mean? (1)

RingDev (879105) | more than 7 years ago | (#17100936)

until you see scientists making valid predictions and still being shut out

If they are being shut out, how are you going to see them?

-Rick

Re:What does bias mean? (1)

plover (150551) | more than 7 years ago | (#17101150)

If they are being shut out, how are you going to see them?

Usually the problem isn't seeing them. It's weeding out the serious researchers from the nutjobs that's tricky. (And even the nutjobs can occasionally uncover some facts, but they're usually shrouded in such bad science that they're almost useless.)

Re:What does bias mean? (1)

eno2001 (527078) | more than 7 years ago | (#17101054)

Saving the environment at any financial cost is always worth the expenditure. Saying that we shouldn't do something this important because of the cost to business is like saying we shouldn't save grandma's life with expensive medication since it will impact our trip to Alcapulco this Winter.

Re:What does bias mean? (1)

'nother poster (700681) | more than 7 years ago | (#17101130)

Sometimes saving grandma is not always in her best interest, or the best interest of society as a whole. Sometimes it may be better to bury grandma and take that trip.

Re:What does bias mean? (2, Insightful)

shilly (142940) | more than 7 years ago | (#17101162)

Not for grandma. And in this case, grandma = our current biosphere. Beetles will be doubtless be fine, come what may. It may be a bit tougher for most of the rest of us.

Re:What does bias mean? (1)

Otto (17870) | more than 7 years ago | (#17101164)

Saving the environment at any financial cost is always worth the expenditure. Saying that we shouldn't do something this important because of the cost to business...
Who said anything about the cost to business? Biased much?

Some people argue that the cost of attempting to implement brain dead schemes like Kyoto will be measured in human lives and suffering. Nobody but actual businesses give a shit about their profits.

Lomborg no longer deny that global warming is real (4, Interesting)

Per Abrahamsen (1397) | more than 7 years ago | (#17100930)

He never really did, just that the evidence was inconclusive. Now he believe global warming to be real (the evidence has become stronger), Lomborg just claim that adapting to a changing climate makes more economic sense than trying to control the climate.

Comparing the cost of trying to adapt to a changing climate with the cost of trying to prevent climate change is certainly a worthwhile, especially as global warming based on past actions is already inevitable.

Re:Lomborg no longer deny that global warming is r (1)

kannibal_klown (531544) | more than 7 years ago | (#17101026)

No really. It's one thing to say "wear short-sleeves and such," it's another to try and deal with rising water levels.

If the water levels rise then you have to either start considering evacuating places shorelines or try to protect them with dikes, damns, etc. And after the "Katrina" people are going to be very picky about how it's done, as one good storm could then destroy everything.

Granted, such a thing would happen over a LONG period (decades, centuries?) but I can't imagine protecting all of the populated coastal areas be considered "cheap."

Re:Lomborg no longer deny that global warming is r (1)

xoyoyo (949672) | more than 7 years ago | (#17101254)

As a Dane (http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=M%C3%B8 lleh%C3%B8j&oldid=46429241) I'm sure Lomborg is aware of the dangers of a rising water level.

Re:Lomborg no longer deny that global warming is r (1)

mainmain (618360) | more than 7 years ago | (#17101242)

Sounds like a voice of reason. The mere fact that we think we can control the climate is the real root of the problem. We can't control the weather; what makes us think we can control the climate? We can't predict the weather; what makes us thing we can predict the climate? Playing god is a dicey thing at best. Now, we can acknowledge that: 1) climate change is happening (it is), 2) we can come to a somewhat tenuous conclusion that CO2 has a, say, causal relationship (not absolute, but to a degreee). But: 3) to move from that to "knowing" the CO2 is to a high degree the cause, 4) to judging that this "cause" is a bad thing (change is always happening; therefore change is normal, not bad), 5) to judging that said change would be extreme enough to cause deaths (moreso than any other normal climatic change in the past 1,500 years), 6) and then even farther along to "knowing" we must immediately put in place an exceedingly expensive solution (understatement of the year) This is not good science. In fact, that are many benefits to global warming. There are much fewer benefits to global cooling. We should be happy that the former is happening rather than the latter.

Re:Lomborg no longer deny that global warming is r (1)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | more than 7 years ago | (#17101292)

It's not actually inevitable, per se, just very difficult to prevent in the short term.

In the long term, we have a lot of choices. As it turns out, reducing greenhouse emissions is quite probably better economically than blindly emitting as we currently are. (Exact models vary on that, naturally.) The cost of adapting is very high and the saving involved in not wasting so much energy are actually significant.

People really wish this were not true. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17100940)

A combination of a bunch of people who desperately wish it were not true - combined with big business who are happy to proclaim that it's not ("Clean Coal! It's the way of the future!") - makes for unhappiness for scientists who are trying to shout things that people don't want to hear. Combine that with science's tendancy to carefully fence every claim with statements of experimental error and other things that will forever prevent us from being 100% certain - and you have a climate where any idiot can make a name for himself by saying that global warming is bunkum.

That respectable scientists feel hostile to those people is not at all unreasonable - we're all human after all.

But as I always like to say - if there was a 10% chance that a disease would kill you, you'd still want the doctor to treat you for it - even if it cost 10% of your income to pay for the medicine.

Re:People really wish this were not true. (1)

Macgruder (127971) | more than 7 years ago | (#17101214)

But as I always like to say - if there was a 10% chance that a disease would kill you, you'd still want the doctor to treat you for it - even if it cost 10% of your income to pay for the medicine

That's all well and good. It's my choice to spend my income as I see fit. But I'm pretty sure you'd object if I spent 10% of YOUR income to prevent or treat a condition I only had a 10% chance of killing me. And I'm certain I'd object to being required to spend 10% of my income to treat a condtion that only had a 10% chance of killing you.

It's not that I'm against spending the money. It's that I'm against being REQUIRED to spend the money (ie, taxes / fees / etc.)

Myth or reality? (2, Interesting)

El Lobo (994537) | more than 7 years ago | (#17100954)

Lots of climate change myths or confusions still crop up in the media and in conversation. As a result, it is sometimes hard to separate fact from fiction and attitudes can prove difficult to change.

Climate is an always-changing parameter, and it's difficult to say if the actual climate is abnormal or if it just is between the normal parameters, seeing it in a long period of thousands of years. This is because we have so little *rigurous* information about how the exact temperatures, etc were 400 years ago in some point of the map.

That said, it's imposible for us to know if the earth experimented the same changes than today many years ago. On the other hand, there is no doubd about the destructive action of the human hand in the climate, so where is the truth? Of course, the media will always prefer the apocalyptical view, because it sells best.

Evidence Will Be Stifled. (5, Funny)

WED Fan (911325) | more than 7 years ago | (#17100972)

Of course, evidence will be provided. Bias will be shown. And then the Office of Officious Stifling of Problematic Counter-Claims will whip into action, after tea, and promptly stifle the case. Unless, of course, no evidence of bias is presented.

Should no evidence be provided, the Bureau of Studious Demogoguery will fly into the thick of it, again, after tea, and immediately claim that lack of evidence is proof that the OOSPCC pre-stifled the evidence. At which point, the Ministry of Moderated Judgementalism will, uncharacteristically before tea, issue a statement that they will review, ponder, and further investigate the possiblity of a need to issue a further statement at some future date, as yet unspecified, as to whether or not to take the BSD's statement at face value, or have tea.

Causation is the issue. (4, Insightful)

drainbramage (588291) | more than 7 years ago | (#17100980)

Many who suggest that western nations are not the primary cause of climate change are described as if they deny there is any climate change. Thay is unfair and inaccurate, and often what happens when Bjørn Lomborg is mentioned. You may want to look at the call by (un)Scientific American magazine for articles that "debunked" Bjørn Lomborg conclusions in his book "The Skeptical Environmentalist". If they were interested in science the call would have been for articles about the research involved, for or against.

Re:Causation is the issue. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17101128)

THANK YOU! I can't believe it took so long for someone to point out that the dispute is not (generally) over climate change. No reasonable person argues that the climate does not change. The dispute is over causality!

Turf war (3, Interesting)

Per Abrahamsen (1397) | more than 7 years ago | (#17101188)

Part of that was a turf war going on, with an economist moving in on the area covered by scientists. It is no surprise that Scientific American and The Economist took opposing sides in that discussion, each defending their own trade.

How fortunate. (1)

clifgriffin (676199) | more than 7 years ago | (#17101004)

"Actually, the phrase "rife with claims and counter-claims" is making more of the counter-claims then they are; the vast body of the evidence indicates climate change is real; Lomborg is the only serious counter-claimaint that I am aware of."

I don't see the value in posting an article that asks for evidence and than immediately countering it with "well, there really isn't any".

That represents at least some of the bias that the BBC is concerned the argument is "rife" with.

Or was this just supposed to be a rhetorical topic. There's more I could say but I'll leave the rest to those more eloquent than I.

Come on, man (4, Insightful)

GoodbyeBlueSky1 (176887) | more than 7 years ago | (#17101008)

Actually, the phrase "rife with claims and counter-claims" is making more of the counter-claims then they are; the vast body of the evidence indicates climate change is real; Lomborg is the only serious counter-claimaint that I am aware of.
That's a bunch of bull and you know it. The whole friggin point of this study is to dispel crap like this. There seem to be several scientists with reasonably good credentials [wikipedia.org] that question the hows and whys of climate change. The fact that you're implying they're a bunch of fruitcakes, even though you (nor I) are not scientists and have done no research of your own on the subject, is ludicrous.

Look, I happen to lean more towards believing in human/industry induced global warming than not, but I really want to see more of this type of open-minded thinking which presumably (hopefully) will permeate the BBC studies. It's the only way we're ever going to get a handle on this issue. Despite what Al Gore would have you think it is not a black-and-white issue.

BBC + Microsoft + Google = Confusing Weather (3, Funny)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#17101010)

So the BBC wants evidence of changing climates between Microsoft and Google [slashdot.org]? Oh, boy. I used to remember predicting the weather was a simple affair: stick your head out the door and determine if it will rain or not. Now you have to worry about whether it's raining Microsofts and Googles.

Well, this IS a new topic, so cut Hemos some slack (3, Insightful)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 7 years ago | (#17101014)

Not!

the vast body of the evidence indicates climate change is real

That's scarcely the issue. The stuff that generates the most friction are the discussions over who exactly, if anyone, is responsible for what part of things that may or may not have any bearing on anything that will amount to actual problems, and what policy/economic changes are or aren't worth the cost, heartache, investment, and so on. Or, is the human component of this lost in the noise, or enough so that crippling economies isn't the right way to look at changing it, etc. Of course climate changes. It always has and will. This whole topic will be a lot easier to discuss if folks don't use the phrase "climate change" to mean the same thing as "damaging global warming that some people in certain countries with certain habits are causing more than others and could change if they only switched to hydrogen which we'll all pretend doesn't require other energy sources to put to work blah blah."

People project whatever they want to see associated with "climate change," to the point where it's a useless phrase. What part of climate change? Which part that would or wouldn't be happening in much the same way anyway, or which does or doesn't have some benefit for one group that outweighs something happening elsewhere? It doesn't matter what the answers to those things are, just that they are way more complex than "accepting" or not that the climate changes.

Re:Well, this IS a new topic, so cut Hemos some sl (1)

balsy2001 (941953) | more than 7 years ago | (#17101428)

I don't buy the "crippling economies" argument. Making the changes, whether needed or not, will not destroy the economy it will only force money to change hands. There are a lot of people that change would cost money (e.g., coal power plants) and there are a number of people that could make money off the deal (e.g., nulcear power companies, solar technology companies). Yeah, if in one day you decided that all things that might affect global warming had to stop instantly things would be bad, but that won't happen. All change will be phased in over a period of time, whether it is fast enough to solve the supposed problem or not.

Re:Well, this IS a new topic, so cut Hemos some sl (1)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 7 years ago | (#17101502)

I don't buy the "crippling economies" argument. Making the changes, whether needed or not, will not destroy the economy it will only force money to change hands.

Relative to what I was talking about, it doesn't matter if you (or even I!) buy that argument. The point is that Hemos was speaking in terms of whether or not "climate change" has been "accepted" or not. That's such a gross over simplification as to be absurd, and more to the point, assumes that comments like the ones you just made don't need to be made, because - among smart people - it's all already been settled, and it's just the non-accepting idiots that are holding things up. The point is that conversations about economic impact (slight or devastating), whether China should be held to the same standards that, say, Germany is held, whether firing up lots of new nuke facilities despite the screaming intolerance of uneducated localities would actually make a difference ... all of that stuff is not "accepted" as settled in any way that matters.

Re:Well, this IS a new topic, so cut Hemos some sl (1)

BluedemonX (198949) | more than 7 years ago | (#17101486)

Well, they used to call it "Global warming" but then we found out that the earth is actually getting record cold temperatures. So naturally the solution (socialism, Kyoto) in search of a problem had to adjust the computer game model and say "we predicted that, too."

Peer-reviewed literature on global warming/climate (4, Informative)

cerulean_blue99 (881404) | more than 7 years ago | (#17101028)

The journal Science published a review of 928 peer reviewed publications and whether reports from organizations like IPCC "might downplay legitimate dissenting opinions". The review found that 75% explicitly or implicitly accepted the consensus view, that 25% took no position one way or the other and that none disagreed with the consensus view.

"Admittedly, authors evaluating impacts, developing methods, or studying paleoclimatic change might believe that current climate change is natural. However, none of these papers argued that point."

http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/306/570 2/1686/ [sciencemag.org]

Wrong about Lomborg (3, Informative)

jeremyp (130771) | more than 7 years ago | (#17101050)

Lomborg does not claim that anthropogenic global warming does not exist. He claims that we should be using a different strategy to overcome it, or rather not overcome but live with it.

At least, that's what he said in the Skeptical Environmentalist. He may have changed his mind since then.

Of course Scientists are biased (4, Insightful)

HighOrbit (631451) | more than 7 years ago | (#17101062)

This is mostly a copy and paste from another of my earlier posts [slashdot.org] with a few edits

The overwhelming majority of scientists (who would describe themselves as working scientists versus simple degree holders in the field) are academics working in academic university environments, or even in the case of goverment or corporate research labs, are in the academic revolving door. It is no secret that major universities are basically immersed in left-wing culture both at the official level (such as having ethnic or women's studies departments, speech codes, etc) and at the unofficial level (such as student protest groups). So, these guys are working and living in what amounts to a left-wing echo chamber and anti-industrial environmentalism is a core tenet of modern leftist orthodoxy. People working in that enviornment can not help but have a certain amount of cultural bias. As in most social environments, there is great pressure to conform. I do not doubt that in some cases, non-conforming academics have been ostracized as cretins or kooks, denied tenure, and passed up for promotion. So it is not surprising that a "majority of scientists" would land of the left-wing side of any particular debate, given the implications of being on the "wrong" side.

Also, without accusing anybody of consciously cooking the data, its easy to see what you want to see in data when you have pre-conceived notions. I would say that even the questions researchers ask or don't ask (i.e. what they choose to subject to a study or ignore) is influenced by their preconceived cultural notions.

When somebody says "science is on our side", I basically evaluate it the same as if they said "the statistics are on our side" (especially if its based on statistical or computer models instead of "hard science" that is reproducable in the lab). When somebody says, "the majority of scientists" are on our side, they are just using a logical fallacy - appeal to authority.

As much as we would all like to believe that scientists are selflessly searching for the "truth", they have motivations similar to everybody else (greed, fame, power, money, personel vendettas, etc). They also are capable of political bias. These motivations and bias can color the "truth".Throw in grant money and the prestige of getting published in well-respected journals and the results can be toxic to "truth".

I personally believe that the warming trend itself is undeniable. The extent of it that can be blamed on man versus natural climatic cycles is debatable. There probably is an anti-industrial environmental bias built into most climatic studies conducted at any university or government institutions. All claims should be filtered and evaluated with that in mind.

BTW, this is one of the funniest links around that pokes fun at politicized Science [consumerfreedom.com] They are from some radio ads that a lobbyist group ran in the Washington, DC market. Obviously biased themselves, but very funny.

Re:Of course Scientists are biased (1)

NMerriam (15122) | more than 7 years ago | (#17101252)

It is no secret that major universities are basically immersed in left-wing culture both at the official level (such as having ethnic or women's studies departments, speech codes, etc) and at the unofficial level (such as student protest groups)


So does the existence of a Business school and Christian Students Union prove that a college is immersed in right-wing culture?

Re:Of course Scientists are biased (1)

tthomas48 (180798) | more than 7 years ago | (#17101332)

Well, obviously there's a liberal bias to science. How exactly would you have conservative science? It wouldn't really be science if we just stuck to tradition and never tried anything new.

Or were you saying that people in Academia are more likely to be Democrats and thus you have an irrational belief that their science is wrong and biased?

The World is Flat (4, Insightful)

HappySqurriel (1010623) | more than 7 years ago | (#17101080)

There are two main problems I see with climate change science, one is that there is a belief that scientific consensus is the same as scientific proof (if this were true the world would have been flat in the 1400's) and the other problem is that the conclusions are not supported by the evidence.

The fact is that even the evidence that shows we are undergoing a warming trend fails to demonstrate that this is a long term warming trend, that the warming trend is man-made, or that green-house gasses have had an impact on the temperature change. The argument is usually along the lines "We have demonstrated that the Earth's temperature has risen 1 degree in the past 100 years, and at the same time man-made green house gasses have increased 10 times so the impact from man made greenhouse gasses is ." In many cases you could replace "Increase in Man made greenhouse gasses" with "Reduction in Pirates" and conclude that the world is warming because we lack pirates.

What really bothers me is that whenever anyone attacks a study that makes questionable claims people automatically question their motives; all good science can withstand attacks from anyone regardless of their motives. The fact that these studies are treated like they're glass really makes me doubt how valid they are.

Re:The World is Flat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17101380)

IIRC they knew the rough diameter of the globe in greek times (calculated by Eratosthenes [wikipedia.org]) let alone the 1400s. However columbus thought they were wrong, and india was closer; close enough for the ships of the day to reach going west.

Luckily for him, there was something in the way (Cuba).

Re:The World is Flat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17101472)

I agree! We have these computer models that proport to predict the climate a hundred years from now but none of these models can take the climate data from a hundred years ago and predict our current climate.

I also question the value of the ice cores that are used in many arguments about past CO2 levels. There is absolutely no way to calibrate this. The ice at the 1000 year level has been subjected to tons for pressure for almost a 1000 years; is it not possible that there is some mechanism that will leach the CO2 from the ice. We do know that ice acts kind of funny when subjected to pressure. The truth is that we do not know what the CO2 levels where a 1000 years ago to compare against.

Lomborg (4, Informative)

spencerogden (49254) | more than 7 years ago | (#17101088)

Born Lomborg, the author of the Skeptical Environmentalist, that Hemos mentioned certainly does NOT deny that global warming is real. The best I can sum up his points are:

* The level of anthropogenic heating is unclear.
* Climate predictions routinely exaggerate changes or use worst case scenarios
* Cost calculations of warming frequently omit: benefits of warming (fewer people dying of cold weather, better crop yields), technological improvements, and behavior adaptation
* Given that the mechanisms driving warming (and there for the effectiveness of proposed solutions) is unclear, and the cost usually exagerated, it would be unwise to devote huge sums to this problem. Instead look for problems where the benefit is clear and a solution is available (such as providing clean water to the worlds poor) to spend this money on.

Anyone who is interested in this and other environmental issues must read his book. He set out years ago to debunk the claims of Julian Simon, and found himself changing his mind the more statistics he researched.

He does claim that everything is hunky dorry, or that there are no problems. What he advocates is a rational examination of problems and their costs so that we can evaluate the best course of action.

Re:Lomborg (1)

dazedNconfuzed (154242) | more than 7 years ago | (#17101414)

Climate predictions routinely exaggerate changes or use worst case scenarios


"I believe it is appropriate to have an over-representation of factual presentations on how dangerous (global warming) is, as a predicate for opening up the audience to listen to what the solutions are, and how hopeful it is that we are going to solve this crisis." -- Al Gore

BBC stands for... (-1, Offtopic)

techvet (918701) | more than 7 years ago | (#17101110)

It's funny that the BBC is asking for proof of bias when its tilted coverage of the Iraqi war led British soldiers to conclude that BBC stood for "Baathist Broadcasting Corporation".

It takes a big cute animal to go extinct... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17101134)

I predict that the tide of public opinion will change and get behind the effort to fix the problem when Polar Bears finally go extinct in the wild. That time is coming upon us rather quickly I'm afraid.

Personally, I think it's too late. We had our window of opportunity back in the 1980's - we ignored it and now it's too late. I'm 50 years old - it's not going to affect me - my son is 15 - he'll be affected. His children are going to be in deep trouble - and that thought upsets me greatly.

But there are limits to what one person can achieve - I already drive an efficient car - my house has about as much insulation as is reasonably possible - I buy energy efficient light bulbs and the best energy rating appliances. I could do better - but at some point, it's a law of diminishing returns. We need to find the 'low hanging fruit' - the best thing left to do is to get other people to dump their gas guzzlers, get low-energy flourescent lighting, stick an extra foot of insulation in their attics.

Re:It takes a big cute animal to go extinct... (1)

kahei (466208) | more than 7 years ago | (#17101212)

I predict that the tide of public opinion will change and get behind the effort to fix the problem when Polar Bears finally go extinct in the wild.

I think you are a nice guy who wrongly believes that others are also nice. I advise you to stand in the middle of a Singapore 'medicine' market hugging a stuffed dodo until you realize exactly how much the extinction of large interesting creatures means to most people.

Sure, I may be bitter, but I'm also right.

The sky is NOT blue. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17101144)

Nor is it green. The sky has no color. Only the light passing through the sky appears to be different colors (depending on the angle and composition of the atmosphere at the time of the viewing) to our eyes. Usually, on a clear day while the sun is high in the sky, that color is blue.

Weather stations (1)

markov_chain (202465) | more than 7 years ago | (#17101194)

I've been to central Mexico last summer, and I wondered why all the remote temperature sensors were sitting next to hieroglyphics-branded AC units.

Um, there is more opposition than that. (2, Insightful)

w3woody (44457) | more than 7 years ago | (#17101196)

Risking the obligatory down-moderation for being "off-topic", even a quick trip to Wikipedia would show that there are a few more folks out there who have stated their opposition to the current 'consensus' on Global Warming, including those who doubt there is a global rise in temperatures, those who believe that there may be a rise in temperature but the cause is not properly explained, and those who have a problem with the current governmental frameworks (such as the Kyoto accord) that have been proposed or enacted to combat Global Warming.

The biggest problem I personally have with the whole Global Warming thing is that the whole thing has been simplified to "Man's carelessness and wanton capitalist greed is destroying the Earth, and we must rebuild or remake all of society now before the fuzzy bunny rabbits and cute black and white penguins all die." Nothing good ever comes from reducing something this complicated to a political bumper sticker [stampandshout.com]--and while this is just one bumper sticker, the whole popular approach to Global Warming has been reduced to a political bumper sticker mentality.

Re:Um, there is more opposition than that. (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 7 years ago | (#17101250)

The problem is that most people can't handle anything more complicated than the political bumper sticker. Seriously, the average human being is dumber than dirt. Why do you think shitbag megalomaniacs rule the political scene from top to bottom?

Re:Um, there is more opposition than that. (1)

w3woody (44457) | more than 7 years ago | (#17101386)

Seriously, the average human being is dumber than dirt.
But does that mean those of us with two IQ points to rub together should treat everyone else like mushrooms: keep them in the dark and feed them shit?

For the sake of all mankind... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17101218)

Wait a second, Global Warming cannot be a purely natural cycle!!! I sold my SUV, stopped eating beef, and voted for Al Gore solely on the belief that those actions alone would help to turn things around!!! It can't be possible that corrupt scientists and politicians have duped me and suppressed any dissent on the matter! The United States Government does not suppress dissent!

Sarcasm aside, the idea that we cause Global Warming is just as absurd as the idea that we can stop it. Best we can do is adapt and invest in beach-front property on the Nevada border.

Re:For the sake of all mankind... (1)

HappySqurriel (1010623) | more than 7 years ago | (#17101378)

Sarcasm aside, the idea that we cause Global Warming is just as absurd as the idea that we can stop it. Best we can do is adapt and invest in beach-front property on the Nevada border.

Well, saying that we have an impact on our environment and our actions may have an impact on the whether is not as foolish as you may think; I think the foolish part is that before we've come up with conclusive evidence (or at least a very compelling argument) that we are undergoing a long term climate change, we have concluded that we're the cause of it through the use of Green-House gasses.

By loggin large portions of the world, dumping chemicals through out the ocean, filling the sky with polution, and sending tons of dust in to the atmosphere (through nuclear tests) we have had a massive impact on the enviroment. The question is, even if the world's temperature is increasing how do we know what it was caused by? If we don't know what it is caused by how do we know that it is bad?

Wow! Climate Change is Real?????? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17101240)

I never knew. I thought that every day we had the same temperature, humidity, etc.

Hmmm....I have to go back and revise my neopaleojooooconservative thinking.

Denial Machine (3, Interesting)

Target Drone (546651) | more than 7 years ago | (#17101342)

The CBC had a good program on this called The Denial Machine [www.cbc.ca]. You can watch it online.

What I found shocking is that some of the same scientists who had funding ties to big tobacco and were saying that there was no evidence that smoking caused cancer are now the same scientists with funding ties to big oil and are claiming there is no proof of global warming.

Re:Denial Machine (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 7 years ago | (#17101434)

"What I found shocking is that some of the same scientists who had funding ties to big tobacco and were saying that there was no evidence that smoking caused cancer are now the same scientists with funding ties to big oil and are claiming there is no proof of global warming."

You mean like some of the same scientists who were warning about the Coming Ice Age in the 70s are now warning about the Coming Global Meltdown in the 00s?

Or how scientists who make a living from 'Global Warming' research keep finding more evidence for more and more scary outcomes in their computer models, which coincidentally provides justification to keep funding them?

Climate change is not disputed (2, Informative)

RacerZero (848545) | more than 7 years ago | (#17101376)

It's the "man made" climate change that's disputed.

Re:Climate change is not disputed (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 7 years ago | (#17101478)

Indeed: no-one outside the 'global warming' industry or the local mental hospital would claim that climate doesn't and hasn't changed without human intervention, because that would be really, really silly.

What is denied is that humans are having any significant effect on global temperature from CO2 emissions, or that we could do anything useful about it even if we were.

Well, this is interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17101396)

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/07/science/earth/07 co2.html?ex=1320555600&en=803028cb05066921&ei=5088 &partner=rssnyt&emc=rss [nytimes.com]

This is one of the few "mainstream" news stories I have seen that even acknowledges that there is legitimate debate on the topic.

I am no climatology expert, and I believe that corporations must be held accountable for their waste *regardless*. However, it appears that (as with most scientific knowledge) this theory is not proven, it is just very well supported (there is a big difference). I, for one, would like to see more published about legitimate climatology debate so that I learn more about it.

-- SJN

grammar whore (1)

joshetc (955226) | more than 7 years ago | (#17101404)

Actually, the phrase "rife with claims and counter-claims" is making more of the counter-claims then they are;

then they are what? What did they do after "making more of the counter-claims"????

Moo (1)

Chacham (981) | more than 7 years ago | (#17101424)

The BBC itself is not considered the most open form of media without some bias. How do we know that when they say they received no credible counter-claims, that they indeed are telling the truth?

is making more of the counter-claims then they are

Repeat after me: Effect amongst men, requires a then. Comparative man, will then use than.

My 2cents... (1)

glowingsnowball (973747) | more than 7 years ago | (#17101432)

Weather or not that Global warming is just a warm tend or will destroy the planet will not be decided in my life time or the next. I believe that the time spent on Global warming should be spent on problems we know we have and should fix like aids and third world country progression. We can play a waiting game on global warming and gather more data in the years to come but now it's a waste of time to make things up.
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