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Author Topic: Why have UK media ignored climate change announcements?  (Read 5803 times)
martin
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« on: January 15, 2011, 09:32:49 AM »

from the Guardian -

"Yesterday's announcement that 2010 tied for the warmest year ever recorded on Earth was ignored by nearly all UK media outlets. How can this be?

Believe it or not, record warming of the Earth no longer seems to be news as far as the UK media are concerned.

Yesterday, both Nasa and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced, based on independent analyses of global weather station data, that 2010 tied with 2005 as the warmest year on this planet since annual records began in the late 19th century.

But this news was ignored by all of the UK's national newspapers, apart from the Guardian, online and in print. (The Guardian's piece was followed, almost a day later, by the Telegraph online.)

True, these announcements were made in the US, in late afternoon UK time, so they may not have been on the radar of many British news desks as these approached the deadlines for their printed editions. But that does not explain the lack of online coverage.

NOAA and Nasa are world authorities on the global climate, and most of the news agencies in the US and elsewhere picked it up: the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, USA Today and Christian Science Monitor all ran stories.

Perhaps the UK media have a parochial bias in favour of the Met Office, the world's other leading authority on climate. It has yet to announce the results of its analysis of the 2010 temperature record.

Unlike NOAA and Nasa, the Met Office considers 1998, not 2005, to be the warmest year on record so far. This mismatch is due to differences in the way the three organisations analyse the data provided by national weather services around the world and take into account areas where no weather stations are located.

But a world record is a world record, no matter where it is announced. So why the news blackout in the UK?

Perhaps news editors felt the UK public was not ready to believe that 2010 was actually quite warm after a record-breaking cold spell in Britain in December. Certainly, some self-proclaimed climate change sceptics have tried to give the impression that the weather in the UK, which covers less than 0.05% of the Earth's surface, provides an indicator of global climate. Maybe news editors do not fully appreciate the difference between local weather and global climate?

Or maybe they are unwilling to believe any evidence collected by climate scientists following the hullabaloo over the email messages hacked from the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit. Although sceptics claimed the emails represented the smoking gun from a worldwide conspiracy by scientists, four independent inquiries found no evidence of any fraud or serious misconduct. But maybe news editors harbour lingering suspicions?

I hope, however, that the real reason is that news editors now understand, and think most of the public also know, that global warming is happening, and that the Earth's temperature will carry on rising as long as humans continue to pump greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

As the Observer reported a few weeks ago, another record was set in 2010: the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached 390 parts per million, a figure almost 40% higher than it was before we started burning fossil fuels for industrialisation, and a level not seen on Earth for at least 800,000 years.

But for the rest of the UK media, it seems that was not news either"

• Bob Ward is policy and communications director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at London School of Economics and Political Science


* Climate-change-Media-cove-007.jpg (31.52 KB, 460x276 - viewed 529 times.)
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dhaslam
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« Reply #1 on: January 15, 2011, 11:32:32 AM »

Could be something to do with December being the coldest month in  the British Isles since records began.    Also the coldest year on average  for most places  in Ireland since 1986. 

www.met.ie/news/display.asp?ID=99
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« Reply #2 on: January 15, 2011, 11:40:27 AM »

I had hoped that my 500th post wouldn't be a gloomy one, but like Global Climate Change, I fear it was rather inevitable.

Climate change is probably no more than a filler for slow news days.  You might get coverage if there's a big conference on that week that some "interesting" politicians are attending; a whiff of an angle on slagging them off or catching them out over some on the hoof comment they make about their expenses...  

Any news editor running a "warmest year ever" story today would have rotten eggs thrown at them by the public.  "Don't make me laugh guv', I'm still fixing the frost damage to my pipes / roof / patio".  There's much "bigger" news on this week: Tunisia rioting, freak floods in Australia and Brazil, folk losing their jobs, a poke at the government because they lost an insignificant by-election, a cow fell in the river, a funeral on Eastenders...

I think the other thread here about the demise of the "Horizon" science show's content to "tabloid science" level is a barometer of the general dumbing down of society.  The media just point to the average value.  

My town now has two of the worst schools in the UK - "2010 Academy Awards" for "Most Kids Skipping School" and "Inadequate Performance of Teachers and Management", as judged by the auditors.  With so many destined for a life of long term unemployment and crime, unable to even count or write their own name on the 'no-benefits-for-you' forms, who cares about the BBC's lack of proper coverage of advancements in quantum physics or global climate change?  

This years news will be dominated by week by week coverage of the descent of the UK economy and rise of the jobless totals.  We've already had Manchester Council announce 17% cuts in their workforce, with others chomping at the bit to rid themselves of staff.  I can remember when the daily new programmes used to run a regular spot, with an  unemployment-o-meter (a bit like the stock reports we have now), showing gains and losses across the UK.  Sometimes the script read like the football results:  "Manchester, -2000; Liverpool, +400... London +100; Bristol -600..."

"And now, the weather..."
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« Reply #3 on: January 15, 2011, 05:38:27 PM »

I'm into eco but also Astronomy.

It's looking like it's the Sun which is causing recent 'different' weather.

The Sun has gone through pretty regular 11-years cycles for about 210 years. Until 2008 that is. Since then the cycle has markedly changed  (much lower sunspot numbers) and last time this happened - late 1700's - we had a mini ice-age for 40 years.
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EccentricAnomaly
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« Reply #4 on: January 15, 2011, 08:43:46 PM »

A bit of context: http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20627640.800-whats-wrong-with-the-sun.html (no subscription required).

Quote
Mike Lockwood at the University of Reading, UK, may already have identified one response - the unusually frigid European winter of 2009/10. He has studied records covering data stretching back to 1650, and found that severe European winters are much more likely during periods of low solar activity (New Scientist, 17 April, p 6). This fits an emerging picture of solar activity giving rise to a small change in the global climate overall, yet large regional effects.

but talking about extrapolating from this minimum:

Quote
He found 24 such instances in the last few thousand years. On two of those occasions, sunspots all but disappeared for decades. Lockwood puts the chance of this happening now at just 8 per cent.

There are also other theories.
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Outtasight
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« Reply #5 on: January 15, 2011, 08:49:22 PM »

Hmm...  So we might be spared from a more severe ice age by the artificial CO2 warming of the globe over the next 20-30 years, as the waning Sun spot cycle cools it at the same time, but when the Sun spot activity waxes, we'll be into double positive effects all of a sudden and we're f#cked?  

Nice. 
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Stuart
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« Reply #6 on: January 15, 2011, 09:04:07 PM »

well it should melt the ice fairly quickly then  Grin
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« Reply #7 on: January 16, 2011, 01:27:57 PM »

Whatever the sun does we have no control over it.  The most pessimistic scientists have stated maybe 1 or 2C fall in European weather from lower sunspot activity.  My personal opinion is that people are grasping at straws trying to find some sun activity to take peoples mind off AGW.

We can do something about burning fossil fuels but people don't like the consequences.  I find it ironic that Australia has very severe flooding that has virtually stopped its coal mining activities.

The UK media is controlled by the corporates and the energy lobbies do not want AGW in the news.  Somehow the UK has to wrestle democracy back from the big companies.  Sites like http://38degrees.org.uk/ and http://www.equalitytrust.org.uk/about/aims may help but it is truly a massive task to get democracy back in the UK.
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« Reply #8 on: January 16, 2011, 08:55:07 PM »

The people in corporations and energy companies will suffer just like everyone else if/when it all goes to cr*p. Do they really not understand this yet? Energy companies have an enormous amout to gain from all the money we need to spend on re-arranging our energy supplies - they should be encouraging AGW talk, not trying to supress it.

Anyone who isn't worried hasn't read 'Limits to growth, the 30yr update', which points out the incredibly obvious fact that you can't grow both consumption and population on a planet of finite resources and fixed sink/source rates (and that we almost certainly zoomed past the level of consumption this planet can sustain sometime in the last 20 years).

Good book: http://limitstogrowth.net/
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Wookey
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« Reply #9 on: January 20, 2011, 04:06:01 PM »

Well we had the coldest Jan and Feb in 30 or 40 years here and the coldest December in 100 years. These conditions were also experienced in North America (snow in Florida), Europe and China. Someone then tells us that 2009 was the second warmest ever and it is ignored. Can’t imagine why! It is surely a measure of the hold "global warming" has on the media that it was no highlighted and rubbished more Comprehensively.

Surely if we had 25% of the year far colder than normal the other 9 months must have been stupefyingly hot to allow this “fact” to be correct and clearly it was not.

I fear it is people’s perception of reality that is causing the increasing antipathy towards “global warming”.

If we are going into a 40 year mini ice age then we have far more serious problems to address than an increase of a few million parts per million in CO2 and if this is a real problem we have perhaps 50 yearts to "fix" it.
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EccentricAnomaly
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« Reply #10 on: January 20, 2011, 05:17:15 PM »

Surely if we had 25% of the year far colder than normal the other 9 months must have been stupefyingly hot to allow this “fact” to be correct and clearly it was not.

Or, just possibly, it was a bit warmer somewhere else.
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stuartiannaylor
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« Reply #11 on: January 20, 2011, 06:42:40 PM »

Is it just me, its an inconvenient truth isn't it. That is why they keep peddling the same old same set of absolute rubbish.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/jan/20/met-office-2010-second-warmest-year
Do you remember a summer where everything seemed to be on fire !!!

This is it mate extremes of ferking weather. Also its based on samples taken all over the world throughout the year.
Like its only NASA, NOAA and the MET office who agree on this. Then again its all a cunning conspiracy theory isn't it.

Thanks for pointing it all out to me and now its dawning on me. The Moon landings are a hoax, the technology from dvd's to computers is false, I know its a hologram beamed from Mars and Auntie Edna is definitely some form of extraterrestrial ape as her whiskers are a dead give away.

Thanks Quakered, without you I would still be believing in evolution and that I am real and not the chocolate button that obviously I am.
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EccentricAnomaly
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« Reply #12 on: January 20, 2011, 11:19:08 PM »

Quakered,

Dead horses and all that, but you do realise that it's quite possible to double check the published figures, don't you?

There are various sources of data used (hence the freedom of information requests against the CRU, etc) but an important one is the Global Historical Climate Network.  Of recent a few bloggers have been getting hold of this data and doing some simple or very simple analyses on it.  Here's one:

http://www.skepticalscience.com/news.php?n=524

I've been slightly itching to do one myself so, triggered by your comments, I have (since writing my post at 17:17) and with taking some time out to cook and eat dinner.  Code is attached below (with extra '.txt' filename extension to keep the forum software happy).

It's hardly been heavily validated but the numbers I get for the last little while are:

1990  0.419
1991  0.198
1992 -0.039
1993 -0.008
1994  0.235
1995  0.314
1996 -0.021
1997  0.271
1998  0.676
1999  0.425
2000  0.289
2001  0.482
2002  0.555
2003  0.485
2004  0.492
2005  0.557
2006  0.521
2007  0.651
2008  0.467
2009  0.554
2010  0.655

These are the average annual temperature anomalies relative to the baseline period 1970-1999 in degrees Celcius.

They seem to me, at first glance, to be broadly in line with the published data.

What I did was divide the stations into grid "squares" 10° of latitude and longitude on a side and took the averages for each month of the year for each of those squares.  I then eliminated the grid squares with fewer than three stations so that odd stations in out of the way places wouldn't have too much weight and then averaged the squares weighted on an approximation to their area (cosine of mid latitude).  The months were averaged for the year weighted on the number of days in the month.

The main purpose of the gridding is to avoid giving undue weight to temperatures in areas of the world with high densities of weather stations.  That's a flaw with the SkepticalScience page referenced above.

It's worth pointing out that I used the unadjusted temperature data.  Though that would presumably actually be less accurate than the adjusted data, from a "forensic" point of view it is better as NOAA couldn't really fiddle it; anything they changed would be obvious to anybody with access to the original station records.

* ghcnv2.py.txt (7.24 KB - downloaded 216 times.)
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« Reply #13 on: January 21, 2011, 12:04:41 AM »

I was going to say 'the world temp record is more than just the weather in the UK', but EA has done a rather more comprehensive job. Well done!
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Wookey
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« Reply #14 on: January 21, 2011, 12:27:46 AM »

Yes, good work Ed,

 sadly it is very easy to google up a "scientific" article to support just about any crackpot idea, then some folk will run with it.

Desp
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