This forum is about wrong numbers in science, politics and the media. It respects good science and good English.
Well, now the good news/bad news on climate change.
Gordon's great innovation was to recognise the key element bad news/legislation/taxation is the "drawing the sting".
First, the time delay tactic.
Announce something that will happen some time in the future. Often 6 months or so but far enough ahead that no one can work out when to get upset and if they get upset at the announcement, by the time the activity comes no one has the energy any more.
This was so successful that mow we have two budgets a year and no drama - because it is about stuff that may happen sometime in the future.
The second element is the overstated penalty.
This is where the declared objective is so absurd that everyone vents their ire on the target rather than the policy.
This is what was mentioned in the petition thread. £1.40 mile road fees is absurd.
But the trick is to first withdraw the measure (the French method derived from their connoisseur's ability to discriminate between an incipient revolution and merely a rough passage) and then re-introduce later on either with a new name or some inconsequential change (e.g. the Lisbon Treaty) or to suddenly reduce the penalty to a significantly lesser value e.g. in road pricing, to reduce the rate to something significantly lower, 50p per mile, for example, that seems much better by comparison with the false flagged high value but which would still seem absurd if judged properly.
The issue really should be that any rate per mile is unacceptable but we are distracted by the matador into chasing the cape.
Now the climate. Here we see a similar use of the absurd leading to a more palatable lower estimate.
In today's Telegraph, buried deep, is this article which ought to be headline news but which isn't:
UN downgrades man's impact on the climate
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1536454/UN-downgrades-mans-impact-on-the-climate.html and It is as well I had copied the link because when I searched again on the online site the link was gone.
Climate change isn't going to be as bad after all.
This is the matador's cape. We will be so relieved that it won't cost so much after all and we are going to be glad to spend the money.
We will be distracted from the search for the truth and we will miss the magicians sleight of hand.
I'm not sure how you managed to find that link in today's Telegraph, the link dates from December 2006. But you're quite right, even though the IPCC revised some of its AGW-related predictions downwards a couple of years ago, it didn't really affect the global warming juggernaut from continuing to roll along.
The article quotes the upper bound sea level rise estimate going down from 34 in to 17 in. The normal practice in 'risk analysis' (from my experience from working in the nuclear industry) is to use the mean or median as the parameter to quantify a hazard, but environmental journalists insist on using the upper bound. Environmental journalists have also developed an interesting trick in the last couple of years to compensate for the IPCC revising the maximum sea level rise figure downwards, they just tend to report a number of minority or maverick climate scientist views that the sea level rise is actually bigger than the current IPCC forecast, completely ignoring the idea of 'scientific consensus' when it suits them.
The article also has an interesting quote from somebody called Rick Bartabee: "The oceans have been acting like giant storage heaters by trapping heat and carbon dioxide. They might be bit of a time-bomb as they have been masking the real effects of the carbon dioxide we have been releasing into the atmosphere."
How does that work then? The solubility of CO2 in water should be decreasing as the water warms up.