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Re: Update on CACC sceptic alerts

Not entirely. The Editor Ian Hislop is a Warmist and follower of Moonbat!

Re: Update on CACC sceptic alerts

In reply to James, it sounds like you may be a subscriber to 'Private Eye' which puts you at an advantage over the rest of us.

I've heard rumours that Private Eye has taken a more sceptical view of wind energy in the last year or so. I looked at what I could find out about the Eco-gnomics column from this side of the paywall, and I didn't get the impression that the column is particularly anti-Green. Here are two blog post links I found on Google where somebody is quoting information from an Eco-gnomics article:

The first one is by Greenpeace where they're quoting Eco-gnomics as the source for a claim that UK Coal has not restored an open cast coal mining area to its original green field site status as promised and is now seeking planning permission to build warehouses on the site. When Greenpeace is quoting a column, that doesn't suggest to me that it's anti-Green.

The second one is by someone called Councillor Les Dorey who quotes an Eco-gnomics article that Tesco have resurrected a plan to build a store. The quoted article seems to be written from a pro-Green anti-supermarket perspective.

If I had to guess, Eco-gnomics might be poking fun at the practice of 'Greenwash' where big business pretends to be doing Green things but in reality isn't, it's all just a PR exercise. If I'm right, I wouldn't classify that as being anti-Green, as the Green movement doesn't like Greenwash either.

But it when it comes to the foremost Green issue of our age, AGW, Private Eye is notoriously non-AGW sceptic, as pointed out by a number of AGW sceptic bloggers, an example being James Delingpole:


The Delingpole article includes an interesting quote from Booker:

“In conversation one day with my Private Eye colleague Ian Hislop, I remarked casually how flimsy it seemed was much of the evidence behind the global warming scare, only to receive an almighty put down to the effect that George Monbiot of the Guardian knew a great deal more about the subject than I did and that I should think twice before daring to challenge such an expert authority.”

So it looks like Hislop has been completely taken in by the "Professor Monbiot" hype promoted by the BBC's Newsnight.

Given the above attitude to AGW I think it is very unlikely that they would employ a specialist AGW sceptic cartoonist like 'Josh', as I said in my earlier post.

Private Eye doesn't slavishly follow the position of the scientific establishment on scientific matters, for example they backed Andrew Wakefield on his MMR vaccine scare a few years ago. I think Hislop follows the instincts of the British chattering classes when it comes to controversial scientific and technical matters, which means he will almost always back the wrong horse. I remember seeing Hislop on an episode of the BBC's "Have I got news for you" just after the release of the Climategate e-mails and he dismissed Climategate as some sort of internet hobby-horse and despaired that people would ignore the threat of climate change in the face of disasters like tsunamis. (He seemed to think that tsunamis are a weather/climate event rather than being a side effect of an earthquake that occurs under the sea.)

Re: Update on CACC sceptic alerts

Your comments on eco-gnomics is basically correct.

It's difficult to find any issue on which PE takes much of a consistent position in public. For example (and you're right I subscribe - I have done on and off for about 20 years) I really couldn't say what party they might support, because they don't. It's not comparable to much of the rest of the political media in that sense.

The last time they did take a position on a scientific issue was the MMR scare. They took the wrong side and got badly burned.

Re: Update on CACC sceptic alerts

"It's difficult to find any issue on which PE takes much of a consistent position in public. For example (and you're right I subscribe - I have done on and off for about 20 years) I really couldn't say what party they might support, because they don't. It's not comparable to much of the rest of the political media in that sense."

I can think of one very good reason why you can't tell what political party Private Eye supports over the last 20 years. Ian Hislop has been a team captain on 'Have I got news for you' (HIGNFY), the BBC prime-time comedy show, for 20 years. If Private Eye did recommend to their readers which party to vote for or not vote for, Hislop might have trouble keeping the HIGNFY job. I would imagine Private Eye gets a pretty substantial boost to its circulation, and saves a lot of money in advertising, from the BBC's patronage of its editor.

As I remember it, Private Eye is supposed to have the same political position as the editor who got the magazine well established before handing over to Hislop, Richard Ingrams. Ingrams was described as being a 'Conservative anarchist'. Whatever that is, it sounds like being somewhere in the 'centre ground' with elements of conservatism and radicalism, and difficult to pin down.

Re: Update on CACC sceptic alerts

With regards to Ian Hisplop, I believe he is a supporter of the Liberal Democrats, or at least was prior to the aftermath of last year's general election.

You might guess from subtle remarks he has made in episodes of Have I Got News For You. However, I recall that during last year's election coverge, when the BBC had a junket on a Thames barge which was greatly lambasted, Hislop was interviewed by a BBC reporter. The reporter began by remarking that Hislop was something of a closted LibDem, to which Hislop responded that it was hardly a secret.

There are some issues on which Private Eye takes a consistent editorial line. For example, it always seems to work on the assumption that legal tax avoidance is equivalent to illegal tax evasion, and they mercilessly pursue tax dodging companies and prominent individuals.

Re: Update on CACC sceptic alerts

...Best Wishes To John for 2011.

....Thanks for this post,David. Most interesting.
.Keep 'em coming!

I watched the BBC's Horizon~"What is One Degree?"~
An hour long programme which would have been much improved if it had been condensed to 15 mins at most.
Naturally Global Warming/Climate Change had to be brought into it.
At 49.00 mins, I feel that Prof. David Spiegelhalter is pulling some graphical sleigh of hand but I cannot put my finger on it? Any ideas?

Re: Update on CACC sceptic alerts

In reply to Edward, I did see the programme. The Spiegelhalter bit was, if I remember correctly, where he was arguing that you could tell that the mean temperature was going up by noting if the number of very hot days being experienced was going up, and gave an analogy that average height must be increasing if very tall people seemed to be more common. That sounds reasonably OK, the 'model' of weather that most of us probably have in our heads is that temperature, rainfall, etc are random about some mean and that the mean could be systematically shifting. An objection to this might be raised by somebody like Piers Corbyn who claims that extreme weather is caused by solar-lunar effects on the jetstream, and if he is right then that would mean that weather is less random than we tend to think it is.

My overall impression of the documentary was that the probable main purpose of it was as a trial run for using Ben Miller as a science presenter. There seems to be a pattern in recent years where the BBC is trying out science presenters with physics degrees who are connected with the entertainment industry, like Brian Cox (who used to be in a 1990s pop group), Dara O'Briain (Irish comedian who co-presented 'Stargazing Live' a few weeks ago) and Ben Miller (of the Armstrong & Miller sketch comedy show). The reason given for making the documentary (explained at the start) looked a bit bogus to me. Miller supposedly had a conversation at a dinner party with some woman on global warming, and he then realised that he didn't understand how temperature was measured very well. However the content of the first half of the documentary in particular was at about 'O' level physics standard, and it seems unlikely that someone as well qualified as Miller would have forgotten this kind of material, like temperature being a measure of how fast atoms and molecules are bouncing around.

One misleading thing I noticed in the documentary was that anybody watching it might think weather station temperatures are being recorded to 1/50 deg C accuracy, which is the calibration accuracy quoted by Miller for the thermometer. I think the official figure for the accuracy of weather station temperatures is ±0.2 deg C, and that's the standard deviation, the range would be something like ±0.5 deg C. The accuracy range would be expected to be even higher than that for measuring sea surface temperature using relatively crude methods like the 'bucket method' and the 'engine intake method'.

Re: Update on CACC sceptic alerts

Anthony Watts and his crowd over at have been doing some work on temperature measurement at USHCN and the results are pretty horrifying. From memory, about 40% of stations are no better than (bugger, where's the plus-or-minus key on a Wintel keyboard?) +/- 5 deg. C.
One of several other problems with temperature measurement is the recent reduction in the number of stations used to compile the average temperature (if that has any sensible meaning). It is probably valid to adjust temperatures by the adiabatic lapse rate for changes in altitude, but to use urbanised temperature stations when we don't know the magnitude of the urban heat island effect (which probably varies wildly with many local factors anyway) is just asking for problems.
My preferred method of seeing if there has been any general warming is simply to look at long records from those few well-sited and maintained purely rural stations, as Michael Crichton did in "State of Fear". Those won't show you the overall temperature of the planet, but who cares? They do show the trend over time at one spot and if the trends are generally in agreement that is a good indication of the way the world is going.