Sunday, April 20, 2008

The worst newspaper in the country

I know journalism standards have slipped into the basement, but this takes the biscuit. It's by Christopher Booker in the Daily Telegraph, on 20 April 2008.

It's so bad I went out and bought a copy so I can use it as hard evidence.

In his article, Booker praises a lie sheet by Dr S Fred Singer, a former tobacco lobbyist a "distinguished US scientist" ("just Google "sepp" and "NIPCC" for a copy", Booker says, although it doesn't work). Booker, who enjoyed this after-dinner speech, writes:
One of the central flaws in the IPCC's case is its reliance on computer models, based only on those parts of the evidence which suit its chosen "narrative", omitting or downplaying hugely important factors which might produce a very different picture. These range from the role played by water vapour, by far the most important of the greenhouse gases, to the influence of solar activity on cloud cover.

The report's most startling passage, however, is one that examines the "fingerprint" of warming at different levels of the atmosphere which the computer models come up with as proof that the warming is man-made. The pattern actually shown by balloon and satellite records is so dramatically different that, even on the IPCC's own evidence, the report concludes, "anthropogenic greenhouse gases can contribute only in a minor way to the current warming, which is mainly of natural origin".
Now the cloud-cover solar-activity horse dump has been looked at and rejected comprehensively, not least because the Sun's brightness has not been magically changing except on its 11 year cycle, but this newspaper doesn't seem to care. And even Myron Ebell knows that the discrepancy with the balloon and satellite data were corrected four years ago.

But still, this is complex science. The pages of right-wing national Sunday newspaper, and after-dinner speeches by washed-up corporate bozos to an audience of ignorant journalists is not where it gets settled. If you have compelling evidence that some important factors are missing from the physical calculations, you take it to the scientific establishment and publish it in journals, and get people with actual scientific competence to believe you. That is guys who have proved themselves by making an actual contribution to the state of knowledge.

The allegations are wide-ranging. If S Fred Singer had any substance to him, you'd think he could make some pretty major contributions to astrophysics. Step aside the cepheid variable star documented by Henrietta Swan Leavitt when working on stellar photometry at Harvard in 1908 and which formed the basis of the evidence for the Big Bang Theory, we now have Fred Singer variable stars, of which the Sun is one such example. What a genius. All these men and women devoting their lives for centuries to the deep study of the physical sciences to give us all this precise knowledge of the way the world works and how to do really cool engineering, and this one grey-haired guy who's given us nothing but an extra two unnecessary decades of passive smoking and needless suffering, sweeps it all aside like the trinkets of a dead religion. Who are we to give him even the time of day, let alone coverage in a national newspaper, which at this point must join the ranks of institutions, along with Exxon, who are morally guilty of the disaster which is upon us?

It's a common accusation that those who recognize the serious consequences of fossil fuels want to take us back to a time when we were living in caves -- even though at the dawn of fossil fuels at around 1850, we did not live in caves! And now we've got electricity and high technology, which they did not have in those days. The people who really want us to live in caves are Christopher Booker and Fred Singer, who reject science, because that has a much longer history of lifting us out of the stone age.

Oh yeah, the comments on that article. Those PR organized trolls worked through the night filling it up with their denialist bile. Don't think it's obvious. Who's paying them now?


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