A few skeptics got half-way excited when they saw the New Scientist’s editorial a couple of weeks ago, and wondered if it meant the editors were changing their views.
No such luck.
This is a magazine which held the multi-part-Denier-Special-extravaganza only two months ago. When it comes to standing up for independent thinking, maverick scientists and whistle-blowers who bust the establishment, New Scientist don’t just ignore the unfunded little guys, they practically phone the Establishment to ask if they can help with PR to quash the dissent.*
A single editorial and minor article that admits the obvious (for a change) is a good step, but we’re still 42 kilometers (26 miles) from the end of the marathon — and from the rest of the articles in this single print edition, it appears New Scientist is running the race backwards.
The editorial Without Candour We Can’t Trust Climate Science was a landmark event for New Scientist, it was just what we’d expect of any half way serious magazine. Crikey – The Muir investigation didn’t look into the science? It didn’t even ask if those scientists deleted the emails that they conspired to delete? What scientist wouldn’t be outraged at the white-wash.
Despite this moment of reason, seven months after ClimateGate the New Scientist editors still can’t bring themselves to even consider that their favourite hypothesis might not add up. Do they have a full opinion piece from a skeptic who predicted the failures long before the unauthorised emails confirmed them? A luke-warmer? A climate scientist whistleblower? No, No, and Not even close. Instead they invite a failed Greens candidate from Australia, a public intellectual (whatever that is), and he gets more column inches to share his opinion than any skeptical scientist ever has. Clive Hamilton calls the atmosphere evil and makes out that “think tanks” full of deniers are pushing geoengineering. Hello strawman – here we come.
As David Archibald so aptly put it: “Nature (the journal) seems to have degenerated to occupy the niche formerly occupied by New Scientist, and New Scientist has degenerated into the publishing arm of Greenpeace.”
In the world-according-to-Hamilton, he thinks the climate will become a hotbed so hellish that countries will go vigilante-geoengineering without democratic approval. Is this like a scenario where, say, the French try to cool the world on-their-own by launching aerosol-pumping-planes, while the Russians, who don’t need more permafrost, shoot the planes down?
This, coming from the man who wants democracy suspended (but only for his own goals, not someone else’s).
Hamilton is big on vague sweeping generalizations, not so big on details.
A number of right-wing think tanks actively denying climate change are also promoting geoengineering, an irony that seems to escape them.
So can he name those nasty right wing institutions? Not one. The best he can do is name a paper, sitting on a pro-carbon-trading-site, which was commissed by Bjorn Lomborgs agency, which is partly funded by the Danish Government. Not exactly big oil. They paid for an author who is listed as connected with the “American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research”. Hence, by this association, all conservative think tanks get slogged.
Later in the same edition as their collectors-item (the sane editorial) is a full feature on the scare of oxygen levels falling. Ho Ho Ho. There’s no space in this magazine/propaganda-brochure to give Anthony Watts or Steven McIntyre a full four page feature on the decrepit state of our thermometers, or the inept disaster that is climate-science-statistics, but there is space to worry about all the implications of how oxygen levels are falling by 20 ppm a year. New Scientist do a decent effort at putting this into perspective, though they don’t actually point out that oxygen levels are currently 210,000 ppm, so a fall of 20ppm a year is only so scary. If O2 levels fall to 19%, we humans may notice the effects of oxygen deprivation (or not), so possibly (if nothing else changes) a few people might be aware of something untoward maybe a thousand years from now.
The magazine speculates that if we burnt the lot (meaning, all the remaining fossil fuels) oxygen could fall all the way from 20.95 per cent of the atmosphere down to … sit down … 20.87 per cent.
In every edition that they censor the unfunded scientists who are busting $4 billion dollar agencies and embarrassing Intergovernmental Panels, it’s another week that they could have been real journalists seeking the truth, instead of propaganda agents for the government, and against the people.
But whatever, I don’t mind this navel gazing pursuit of trivial inanities, but let there be no illusion: New Scientist has space for real pertinent science about current issues, and ignores it in favor of highly speculative minor postulations. It lets its readers down every week. In every edition that they censor the unfunded scientists who are busting $4 billion dollar agencies and embarrassing Intergovernmental Panels, it’s another week that they could have been real journalists seeking the truth, instead of propaganda agents for the government, and against the people.
One week later and nothings changed
Pat truisms hide the PR. It’s pretender journalism. They’re pretending to be journalists while they feed in the PR. It’s more insidious than a government brochure. Michael Le Page uses a common sense headline “Record Breaking Heat Does Not Prove Global Warming”. Whoo-hoo I think. Neat. But from that short article… half way through they press the “play” button on the Scare Campaign promotional material, just in case their readers haven’t read this 245 times this year.
I’ve finished off their sentences with what they could have said:
The various measures of average global temperatures, however, do suggest that surface temperatures are the hottest they have been since records began.
… since records began in 1850, although hundreds of studies with proxies and boreholes show it was warmer than this 800-1000 years ago.
According to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, for instance, June was the fourth consecutive warmest month on record. According to NASA, the average temperature over the past 12 months has been the hottest ever.
…the hottest “ever”. (“Ever”doesn’t mean forever, it means the hottest in 150 years, but things were hotter 5000 years ago, 100,000 years ago, and for countless millions of years before NASA started asking for your money.)
Is it a record? Sure, it’s a record number of airports, flights, air-conditioners, and cubic meters of concrete near sensitive thermometers. Don’t get me wrong, the world has warmed since the 1812 overture was written, but we are talking about 0.7 degrees last century, and nearly 90% of the thermometers setting these records have some artificial influence.
But the next time there is an El Niño, especially if it coincides with a high in solar activity, we are likely to see a lot more records shattered.
…or we might not. If the solar cycle guys are right and a Dalton Minimum blitzes the planet…
* See the CRU email where Michael Mann and Gavin Schmidt pat themselves on the back for helping New Scientist dismiss the skeptics.