Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Polar Bearshit

Christopher Booker has contributed another rant somewhat dressed up as reasoned commentary to the 'debate' about climate change (1).

As usual, Booker mixes up specious reasoning, sleight of hand and a bit of rhetoric. His theme is the meeting of the Polar Bear Specialist Group in Copenhagen. He claims the purpose of this meeting is "will be the need to produce a suitably scary report on how polar bears are being threatened with extinction by man-made global warming," a remarkable assertion and a direct attack on the objectivity and honesty of all the members of the PBSG, which he makes without providing any evidence to back it up (2).

Without back up, it is just flim-flam, an exagerated, disingenuous claim without any grounding in fact - which is exactly what he accuses the "global warmists" of the PBSG of doing.

The scaremongering continues in the next paragraph, where Booker claims the meeting "is one of a steady drizzle of events planned to stoke up alarm in the run-up to the UN's major conference on climate change in Copenhagen next December" (3).

Again, this is scaremongering by Booker. What evidence does he provide of the conspiracy he implies is afoot? None. Setting aside the Protocols of Zionesque paranoia about a vast conspiracy that has crept into his column - and we're only into the second paragraph - can he provide some evidence that the meeting of the PBSG is intended to "stoke up alarm"? As opposed to people meeting to discuss things they think are important? Of course he can't. But that won't stop him putting the suggestion out there, to delude the gullible or ideologically inclined to reject science in favour of balderdash.

And, for what it is worth, "a steady drizzle of events planned to stoke up alarm in the run-up to the UN's major conference" is an apalling example of metaphor mangling. A drizzle is a light shower of rain. But you "stoke up" a fire. So how the two can work together is beyond me. Even bettter, this remarkable fire that burns more readily when stoked with rainfall is burning in an athletics stadium, which is where you would expect to see people taking a "run up." Booker's science might be lousy, but at least it is better than his journalism.

Booker's complaint is that an expert on Polar Bears, Dr Mitchell Taylor, has been refused permission to attend the conference. This is attributed to his views on climate change:
Dr Taylor agrees that the Arctic has been warming over the last 30 years. But he ascribes this not to rising levels of CO2 – as is dictated by the computer models of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and believed by his PBSG colleagues – but to currents bringing warm water into the Arctic from the Pacific and the effect of winds blowing in from the Bering Sea. (4)
This is a bit of intellectual smoke and mirrors. Booker, or Taylor, is not being entirely straight with us. What he is describing as a cause of Arctic ice melt - the changing currents bringing in warm water which is melting the ice - is actually no such thing because it doesn't actually indicate what is causing the changing oceanic conditions. Unless it is an Act of God, he needs to identify a mechanism which explains why this is happening as the situation he describes is begging the question - why is the ice melting? Because of the changing oceanic conditions. Why are the oceanic conditions changing? Because of ... um ... climate change, perhaps?

This is all by-the-by, because Booker is more interested in one of his favour themes - the sensationalism and pseudo-science that he claims is being forced on the world by pro-AGW lobby, through their willing stodges in the media, befuddling the dim and gullible public:
He has also observed, however, how the melting of Arctic ice, supposedly threatening the survival of the bears, has rocketed to the top of the warmists' agenda as their most iconic single cause. The famous photograph of two bears standing forlornly on a melting iceberg was produced thousands of times by Al Gore, the WWF and others as an emblem of how the bears faced extinction – until last year the photographer, Amanda Byrd, revealed that the bears, just off the Alaska coast, were in no danger. Her picture had nothing to do with global warming and was only taken because the wind-sculpted ice they were standing on made such a striking image. (5)
Yeah, so?

I'd like to have cited examples of when Gore and the WWF used the image, as opposed to pig ignorant sensationalist journos.

And, anyway, what's wrong with using it as an 'emblem'? It carries a strong symbolic message about the shrinking habitats of wild animals. A Christian might wear a cross - guess what, Chris? It isn't actually the one that Jesus got nailed to.

As for the main meat of the article, the alleged banning of Taylor for heretical views on climate change, I refuse to accept Booker's word for it, based on the selective quoting from an email he claims to have received from an unidentified source. He's been too unreliable in the past - making stuff up, withdrawing it when challenged and the repeating it - for him to be taken on trust now.

It is also worth noting that Taylor is not actually a member of the PBSG - Booker suggests he is ("his PBSG colleagues") but he isn't (6). Given that they invite several experts to address their conferences, and they have limited time, why the scandal that one has been refused? I imagine they refused several applications to speak. I also suspect that a lot of these applications were made in the expectation of being declined, so a follow-up fuss about 'censorship' could be generated. Drummed up faux persecution, a la Nick griffin and the BNP, typical of the self important wannabes on the fringes.
1 - "Polar bear expert barred by global warmists," by Christopher Booker, published in The Daily Telegraph, 27th of June, 2009. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/christopherbooker/5664069/Polar-bear-expert-barred-by-global-warmists.html)
2 - ibid.
3 - ibid.
4 - ibid.
5 - ibid.
6 - A list of the current members of the Polar Bear Specialist Group, viewed on the 30th of June, 2009. (http://pbsg.npolar.no/en/members/index.html)

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