Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The BBC shows no self-awareness

The report below about net censorship is from the BBC:

"The level of state-led censorship of the net is growing around the world, a study of so-called internet filtering by the Open Net Initiative suggests. The study of thousands of websites across 120 Internet Service Providers found 25 of 41 countries surveyed showed evidence of content filtering.... "In five years we have gone from a couple of states doing state-mandated net filtering to 25," said John Palfrey, at Harvard Law School.

ONI is made up of research groups at the universities of Toronto, Harvard Law School, Oxford and Cambridge. It chose 41 countries for the survey in which testing could be done safely and where there was "the most to learn about government online surveillance".

A number of states in Europe and the US were not tested because the private sector rather than the government tends to carry out filtering, it said.


Since the BBC is both a government instrumentality and a very active filterer of content (see below, for instance), it must have been convenient that Britain was not included in the countries surveyed.


I noted two days ago the way the BBC had changed a climate story to make it more congenial to Warmists. Various other bloggers noted the change and we now have some details of what happened behind the scenes. Jennifer Marohasy reports:
I have been emailed the following correspondence, purportedly between an activist, Jo Abbess, and BBC Environment reporter Roger Harrabin. It would appear that the result of the email exchange between the activist and the reporter was that the BBC changed its story. In particular instead of reporting the story as received from the World Meteorological Organisation, the BBC modified the story as demanded by the activist who was concerned that in its original form it supported 'the skeptics' correct observation that there has been no warming since 1998.

The correspondence concerned is at Jennifer's site. In it we see a Warmist who appears to represent some Warmist group emailing Roger Harrabin in progressively more intimidatory ways, accompanied by a number of false or unsubstantiated assertions about climate events. Harrabin initially stands up under the criticism but when the Warmist in effect threatens to get him flooded with abusive emails he suddenly backs down -- possibly after having consulted with his bosses at the BBC. American Thinker notes that the article was in fact watered down several times.

The whole thing is of course more testimony to the susceptibility of the BBC to Greenie pressure and will always encourage questions about any BBC stories that have reference to Green/Left ideology. The BBC have in effect blown any residual reputation for integrity that they may have had. The Greenies may in fact come to regret their actions in this matter. They have in effect blown the cover of one of their more reliable mouthpieces. ALL BBC stories will from now on be readily ridiculable. All BBC stories will henceforth be easily dismissed as the product of political pressure. If I were a Greenie, I would be pressing for immediate reinstatement of the original story.

The two articles immediately below follow up on the substantive issues originally raised in the BBC article.


The scare: The BBC published an article by its "environment analyst", commenting on an announcement by the World Meteorological Organization that 2008 was likely to be the tenth successive year in which global temperatures had not risen. The BBC's story stressed that the stasis in global temperatures was only temporary and that anthropogenic "global warming" would inexorably resume.

The truth: The BBC opens its story with the words "Global temperatures will drop slightly this year ." However, the BBC somehow fails to mention that, according to the UK's Hadley Centre for Forecasting and the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, global temperatures have already been falling for more than six years, and that the downtrend, far from being slight, is equivalent to 0.4 degrees Kelvin (almost 1 degree F) per decade:

The downtrend that the BBC somehow failed to mention: Since late 2001, the trend of global surface temperatures has been firmly downward. "Global warming" stopped in 1998; and, though it may resume in future years, the rate of warming is self-evidently less than official forecasts had shown, and is very likely to be harmless.

Next, the BBC uses a favorite tactic, citing unnamed "experts" as a way of falsely giving apparent legitimacy to what are in fact its own biased opinions. It says, "Experts say we are clearly in a long-term warming trend." So we are. Since the end of the Maunder Minimum in 1700, global temperatures have recovered from the Little Ice Age at a near-linear rate of 0.5 degrees K (almost 1 F) per century (Akasofu, 2008).

In the 20th century, an additional 0.2 degrees K of warming occurred, over and above the long-term recovery from the Little Ice Age. However, part of this very small addition to the long-established warming rate probably arises from the 70-year Solar Grand Maximum that peaked in the early 1960s and now appears to have ended. Also the direct output of heat by human activities and machines has contributed. It is by no means certain that anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide either has had or could possibly have had more than a very small influence on global temperatures.

The BBC, as usual, fails to point out that temperatures in the Arctic were warmer in the 1940s than they are today; that the Greenland ice sheet actually thickened by 5 cm (2 inches) per year in the decade 1993-2003 (Johannesen et al., 2005); that most of the Antarctic continent has been cooling for half a century (Doran et al., 2002); that there has been no increase in ocean temperatures in recent years (Lyman et al., 2006); that global temperatures were warmer than today in the Mediaeval Warm Period (McIntyre & McKitrick, 2005), in the Roman Warm Period; and, for at least 2000 years, in the Bronze Age Holocene Climate Optimum. The BBC's story also fails to mention that global surface temperatures, as inferred from oxygen isotope ratios in ice-core samples from Antarctica, were at least 5 degrees Celsius (9 F) warmer than today's in each of the four previous interglacial periods (Petit et al., 1999, etc.).

The BBC goes on to say that the unidentified "experts" predict a new record high temperature within the next five years. However, it somehow fails to point out that not one of the computer models relied upon by the IPCC predicted ten years ago that global temperatures would be lower in 2008 than they were in 1998.

Next, the BBC deploys another favorite tactic: it quotes the World Meteorological Organization as saying that "the decade from 1998 to 2007 was the warmest on record." The WMO did not in fact say anything of the kind. The phrase "warmest on record", not uttered by the WMO, is deliberately chosen by the BBC because it sounds far more drastic than the truth, which the BBC somehow fails to mention, that the "record" extends back only as far as 1880. Also, the BBC somehow omits to note that the January-to-January fall in global mean surface temperatures between 2007 and 2008 was the largest since records were first kept in 1880 - or, in the BBC's loaded language, the largest "on record".

The BBC also somehow fails to point out that, given that global mean surface temperatures have been rising at a near-linear centennial rate for the past three centuries, the fact that the most recent decade is the warmest "on record" is not in the least surprising: and it certainly provides no basis for the implicit assumption that the warming which stopped in 1998 is principally (or at all) attributable to anthropogenic "global warming".

Next, the BBC says that unnamed "researchers" say that the long-term temperature trend will be upward. However, it is possible that the rapid slowing of the solar sub-surface magnetic convection currents presages a long-term solar cooling. If so, on the evidence of the Maunder Minimum, when there were no sunspots for 60 years, the small warming effect of additional anthropogenic carbon dioxide will at least be mitigated and potentially altogether eliminated by the cooling Sun and the cooling oceans.

Then the BBC says, "Temperatures have not risen globally since 1998 when El Nino warmed the world." The BBC somehow fails to say that there have been two El Ninos since 1998, leaving its audience with the impression that the only reason for the fall in global temperatures in recent years was the magnitude of the 1998 El Nino event.

The BBC moves on to another questionable tactic: the unverified headcount. It says: "A minority of scientists question whether this means global warming has peaked and argue the Earth has proved more resilient to greenhouse gases than predicted." The BBC offers no evidence that it is "a minority of scientists" who question whether `global warming' has peaked.

It was this very tactic that the BBC's "Head of Newsgathering", Fran Unsworth, deployed when making her public announcement - at a conference of news organizations in Amsterdam in November, 2006 - that the BBC would not in future provide balanced coverage of the climate scare. Here is what she said:

"Once we'd got one person setting the case for man-made global warming, and somebody opposing it, the viewer is probably left with the impression that there's equal weight to these arguments. And I think that we have now moved on in our coverage of it. There is now a dwindling band of scientists who don't accept that there is man-made global warming."

And what expertise does Fran Unsworth have in evaluating how many "scientists" accept or do not accept that there is man-made "global warming"? How many scientific papers has she read? Has she ever read a scientific paper on climate from a peer-reviewed, learned journal? Would she have understood it if she had? We are entitled to ask all these questions, because Fran has adopted the BBC's traditional tactic of not providing any evidence whatsoever for her proposition, which she merely recites, mantra-like, as though it were an article of blind, religious faith.

Besides, the question is not so much whether there is what Fran describes as "man-made global warming", as how much of the warming that began in 1700 and ended in 1998 was attributable to human activities, including greenhouse-gas enrichment of the atmosphere. On that question there is not and has never been a scientific consensus: indeed, the IPCC's calculations of climate sensitivity in each successive quinquennial assessment report are mutually incompatible and contradictory in several fundamental respects.

Next, the BBC quotes a Mr. Jarraud of the WMO as saying, "When you look at climate change you should not look at any particular year. You should look at trends over a pretty long period and the trend of temperature globally is still very much indicative of warming. La Nina is part of what we call 'variability'. There has always been and there will always be cooler and warmer years, but what is important for climate change is that the trend is up; the climate on average is warming even if there is a temporary cooling because of La Nina."

The graph from the Hadley Centre does not demonstrate that "the trend is up or that "the climate on average is warming", or that there is nothing more than "a temporary cooling because of la Nina." A diligent journalist would have looked at this graph before interviewing Mr. Jarraud, and would have asked him to explain it further in the light of the very clear evidence to the contrary. The BBC, of course, asked no such questions: Mr. Jarraud was saying what they wanted to hear.

Mr. Jarraud, on being shown the Hadley Centre's graph, might have replied that the period covered by the graph is too short. And that is why we have gone back 300 years, noticing that the uptrend began in 1700 for well-understood and entirely natural reasons, and continued until 1998. Of course, it is possible that the up-trend will resume in the coming years: increased carbon dioxide concentrations do cause some warming. However, the fact that the warming began 300 years ago, long before the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide had begun to rise, and the fact that the warming ceased as solar activity declined from the Grand Maximum, and the fact that global mean surface temperatures today are still well below the median value for the past half-billion years (some 7 degrees K, or 12.5 F, warmer than the present), do suggest that there are credible natural explanations for the warming that has been observed, and that the warming effect of carbon dioxide - whose magnitude is highly speculative, and which the IPCC's computer models are tuned to assume as a given - may be far less than the assumptions pre-programmed into the models.

Such doubts and cautions as these do not appear in most of the BBC's reports. Fran Unsworth has publicly made it explicit that the BBC intends henceforth only to present biased coverage of the "climate" scare, just as it whipped up needless and scientifically-unjustified alarm about a host of previous and equally baseless scares, such as "salmonella in eggs", "Creutzfeld-Jakob Disease in British beef," and "the bird-flu pandemic". The BBC was wrong, relentlessly wrong, about each and all of these previous scares, and about many others like them. It is wrong, relentlessly wrong, about the "global warming" scare too. End of scare.



An email from David Whitehouse []

Something remarkable has happened! The BBC said that there is a minority of scientists who question 'climate change theory,' in particular the strong link between greenhouse gasses and global temperature. That description is a brief recognition that those who demur from the simple consensus are in fact scientists and not 'climate change deniers.'

We all know that 'climate change deniers' are irresponsible people, funded by the oil industry, oblivious to the facts, determined to spoil the world and put our children in danger. They could never be correct. Scientists however, especially when in a minority, could very well eventually be proven right, and often are.

Having said that, this piece of journalism is rather contradictory. It is not the current strong La Nina that is responsible for global temperatures not having risen since 1998, as it implies, the reason must lie elsewhere. It also misses the entire point. The Met Office Hadley Centre and now the World Meteorological Organisation also, deliberately, miss the point. They all say that the consensus is safe and global warming continues because the decade 1998 - 2007 was the warmest on record. Never mind that the global temperature has not risen and that by their own records 2001-2007 was statistically indistinguishable, that is, completely flat.

The truth is that the data says we are living in the warmest decade but that for ten years it has not got warmer. True, when looked at over 30 years we have a warming trend, but the warming occurred between 1980 - 1998. Since then it is flat. To lump the two distinct periods together is misleading.

The WMO then do another dodgy thing with statistics by saying that throughout the 20th century the world has been steadily getting warmer, so that what we have now is a continual warming. But hold on, the global temperature was static and about average between 1940 - 1980, and rose before that since the start of the century.

But since we have been told many times that prior to 1950 the change was due to solar effects and post 1950 it was due to man-made greenhouse gasses one wonders why the temperature rise over the entire century is used as supporting evidence for today's 'continuing warming.' (Also, as an aside, has anyone noticed and wondered about the remarkable fact that the rise in the global temperature due to the sun (purportedly) and the later rise due to greenhouse gasses (purportedly) has, within the errors, the same gradient!)

The BBC then says that the UK's Hadley centre says that 2005 was the warmest year on record even though this conclusion is totally unsupported statistically because of the uncertainties. Tut tut. Those watching the TV report would also come away confused as it starts off talking about this year being cooler than previous years due to El Nino but towards the end of the report it talks of the 'recent standstill' with no further explanation.

Also Mr Jarraud of the WMO, quoted in the BBC report says that looking at climate change (surely he means temperature change here) is wrong because of what he condescendingly calls 'variability' (his quotes). Isn't it interesting that during the recent temperature rise (1980 -1998) the temperature graph was very variable (partly due to Pinatubo and El Chicon, La Nina, El Nino) but that post 2001 it has not been variable at all!

To a physicist or electrical engineer looking at the data they would say that 1980 -1998 was a rising noisy signal but that post 2001 we have a strong, steady signal with less noise. As far as we can measure the 'variability' that was there is not any more. Somebody tell Mr Jarraud.

The fact is that global temperatures are not going the way of the 'consensus' theory, they haven't been for several years now, though we need a few more years to be sure. El Nino and La Nina events make no difference in the long term because carbon dioxide continues to accumulate in the atmosphere and therefore the 'pressure' to rising temperatures will be all the more greater when the current La Nino has ended (and whatever has temporarily caused the 2001-2007 standstill) and we can expect temperatures to rise rapidly with a steeper gradient as the system tries to restore itself to equilibrium.

The Hadley Centre is talking nonsense when it recently said that half of the forthcoming years will exceed 1998 in temperature. Soon all years will have to or else we will have to continue to find excuses as to why the global temperature does not rise as the theory predicts. The fact is the theory says the temperature must increase. For the most recent third of the current warming spell its hasn't. THAT HAS TO CHANGE.

Also one wonders if this year's weather can, for a while, reduce the global temperature to the region before the current warming spell, one wonders about the true significance of the changes we have seen in the past few years!

We have a good theory and a good set of data that doesn't match. If it continues not to match then I, for one, will eventually throw the theory away and keep the data. I will also never trust another computer-based prediction.


On Thursday 3rd April BBC News website's Richard Black penned an article entitled, 'No Sun link' to climate change, based on a flawed paper (not discussed in detail here) in a lesser known journal called Environmental Research Letters, which refers only to Palle/Butler and Marsh/Svensmark (2000), but not Shaviv/Veizer. The article begins:
"Scientists have produced further compelling evidence showing that modern-day climate change is not caused by changes in the Sun's activity. The research contradicts a favoured theory of climate "sceptics", that changes in cosmic rays coming to Earth determine cloudiness and temperature. The idea is that variations in solar activity affect cosmic ray intensity. But Lancaster University scientists found there has been no significant link between them in the last 20 years".

The paper referred to is: 'Testing the proposed causal link between cosmic rays and cloud cover'. The paper concludes:
"In conclusion, no corroboration of the claim of a causal connection between the changes in ionization and low cloud cover, made in [1, 2], could be found in this investigation. From the distribution of the depth of the dip in solar cycle 22 with geomagnetic latitude (the VRCO) we find that, averaged over the whole Earth, less than 23% of the dip comes from the solar modulation of the cosmic ray intensity, at the 95% confidence level. This implies that, if the dip represents a real correlation, more than 77% of it is caused by a source other than ionization and this source must be correlated with solar activity.

Not exactly, 'no link.' and Giles Harrison from Reading University, is quoted as saying that the work was important "as it provides an upper limit on the cosmic ray-cloud effect in global satellite cloud data". Harrison's own UK study from 2006 concluded:
Changes in diffuse fraction (DF) and the frequency of overcast days represent changes in the weather and the atmospheric energy balance. The decrease in the proportion of direct solar radiation associated with an increase in DF will lead to a local reduction in daytime surface temperature. Further, because the net global effect of cloud is cooling (Hartman 1993), any widespread increase in the overcast days could also reduce temperature. At Reading, the measured sensitivity of daily average temperatures to DF for overcast days is K0.2 K per 0.01 change in DF for 1997-2004). Consequently the inverse relationship between GCR and solar activity will lead to cooling at solar minimum. This might amplify the effect of the small solar cycle variation in total solar irradiance, believed to be underestimated by climate models (Stott et al. 2003), which neglect a cosmic ray effect. In summary, our data analysis confirms the existence of a small, yet statistically robust, cosmic ray effect on clouds, that will emerge on long time scales with less variability than the considerable variability of daily cloudiness.

No mention is made by the BBC of the more favourable 2008 review of the evidence for a cosmic ray-climate link by Usoskin and Kovaltsov, which concluded:
"a CR-climate link seems to be a plausible climate driver, as supported by the bulk of statistical studies and existing theoretical models. However, further studies, in particular a clear case study as well as improved model development, are foreseen to improve our understanding of the link between cosmic rays and the climate on Earth."


Patients 'being let down and ignored by the NHS,' says damning report

Elderly patients are being left to starve in soiled bedclothes, a damning report into the Health Service says today. Tens of thousands of patients suffer appalling service - but their complaints are ignored by negligent trusts, it is claimed. The report, by watchdog the Healthcare Commission, also said that mothers are being left alone during labour without pain relief. And GPs come under attack for being rude, allowing patients only the briefest of consultations, and missing signs of deadly diseases.

The commission said that far too often the NHS failed to take complaints seriously, or failed to apologise when clearly in the wrong. The Daily Mail's Dignity for the Elderly campaign has highlighted the poor quality of hospital food and the raw deal many pensioners get in hospitals and care homes. Last night Charlotte Potter, senior policy officer at Help the Aged, said: "Older people are the biggest users of the NHS, yet all too often receive below par treatment. "Thirty per cent of complaints about hospitals concerned lapses in fundamental aspects of nursing care. Nutrition, privacy and dignity, and communication should not be optional extras."

The Spotlight on Complaints report looked at more than 10,000 complaints independently reviewed by the commission between August 2006 and July 2007. Twenty per cent were upheld - up from 8 per cent the year before. And there was a large rise in the number of cases where the NHS response was "not as accurate as it should be". More than half of complaints were about hospital care, and of those a third were about the "fundamentals of nursing care". This includes unmet personal hygiene needs, a lack of privacy, inadequate help with eating, and nurses being "abrupt" or "sharp".

Some elderly patients were unable to reach call bells, or were left in soiled bedding and clothing. Other patients complained about inadequate clothing such as "gowns not maintaining patients' modesty" or bedside curtains being opened when the patient was receiving intimate care. And patients were not given regular baths, hair care, nail care or oral hygiene. Nutrition was also a problem for many, with a lack of choice of meals, inedible food, and nursing staff not helping frail patients to eat.

A third of complaints were against GP practices, with many saying their examination was too quick, GPs were rude or did not listen, and surgeries were "unwelcoming". In casualty departments, signs of health problems were often not recognised, meaning some patients - mainly elderly - were sent home only for the problem to get worse.

Common complaints against maternity services were that staff did not listen, women were left alone in labour without pain relief, and that midwives were too busy or were rude.

Health minister Ann Keen said healthcare in Britain was as safe as in the U.S., Australia, New Zealand or Denmark. But she said patients deserved an apology when mistakes happened.


Brunettes bag the billionaires, blondes get the barmen

These frequencies probably just reflect the frequencies of the different hair colours in the respective populations. And with hair colour very changeable and changing, it is in any case hard to know what is being surveyed here

It's official, if you're a brunette like Carla Bruni, you're more likely to marry a successful man than your blonde counterparts. Experts at LOVE@LYCOS the dating channel of analysed the WAG's hair colour of the world's top 100 billionaires to determine if there is a predominant hair colour wealthy men seen to go for. The majority by a long way were brunettes, with 62% of billionaires marrying women with brown hair.

The results went on to show that fair haired ladies come in a poor second with only 22% of the world's top billionaires marrying blondes. Women with black hair lag behind in third place, enticing on 16% of the world's wealthiest, whilst carrot-tops come in last.


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