If the science on climate change is clear – why the spin?

May not be actual sourcesSo a geography student’s chats with Alpine mountain guides formed part of the basis of a supposedly authoritative international report about the effects of climate change on glaciers.

Another source for the 2007 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was apparently this esteemed scientific journal.

Cue another avalanche of criticism from people who aren’t persuaded that man-made global warming exists.

If the science is rock-solid, why go beyond it in the claims that are being made? (It’s not the first time recently that IPCC science has been criticised.)

Himalayan glacier - no 2035 threat after allThe quotes in this article suggest that the glacier theories were sexed up in order to build political will and grab newspaper column inches.

If this is the only way to prod politicians into doing something about an impending catastrophe (and they haven’t yet), then what’s the problem?

Or should the scientists ditch the spin and just report the science?

Are stories like this undermining the efforts to tackle climate change?

14 Responses to “If the science on climate change is clear – why the spin?”

  1. 1 dan
    February 1, 2010 at 14:01

    Global Cooling, Global Warming, Climate Change whatever euphamism you choose it is all Pixie Dust given to us by the infertile minds of frightened children who cannot cope with the world as it is and want to devolve to a “simpler” time not understanding that in that time mortality rates were out of control, modern medicines did not exist, there was no entertainers to spew stupidity to ignorant masses etc.
    If Global whatever was a science then we should be able to model an experiment and everyone get the same result everywhere and in every lab.
    Because Al Gore says it is “settled science” does not make it so as Gore hasn’t the credentials of any semblance of science and wouldn’t know a true scientific experiment if it fell from the sky and hit him in the head.
    I am convinced that this climate nonsense is thought up by those who refuse to understand that we humans have the capacity and technology to manage 6 billion, 7 billion or whaver number of people on the planet. Since they failed to convince people to reduce the birth rates and now they throw the boogyman of “human caused climate change” at us and pay scientists to lie and parse their data. They have reduced the credibility of Scientists to that of politicians and used car salesmen.
    It ain’t so because in cannot be proved or modeled to be so except in the minds of these can only see doom and gloom and hate human beings.
    And while we are at it, where did the hubris come from to think that Humans can change the world climate?


  2. 2 T
    February 1, 2010 at 14:01

    Profit for the energy companies. If you’re a multi-billion dollar firm (ex. Exxon), and you see a threat to that, you’ll do everything you can to fight it. Including corporate spin designed to confuse and to exploit the fears of the public who aren’t engineers or scientists.

  3. 3 patti in cape coral
    February 1, 2010 at 14:12

    Sorry to be so vague about names, but I heard a story on BBC, I think, about a man who had isolated himself on an island in the arctic for most of his life studying certain type of bird. He was saying that when he first got to the island3–40 years ago he walked around without a gun, because polar bears never came on to land, but now so many glaciers have melted that the polar bears are coming onto the island quite a bit and eating the birds, so he has to walk around with a gun all the time to protect himself. He stated that there is no good outcome no matter what he does, because if he doesn’t have the gun he will probably be attacked, but when he fires to frighten the bears away, they swim away, and the nearest land mass is so far away that there is a chance the bear won’t make it. Very depressing.

    I guess this isn’t hard science, maybe it’s strictly anecdotal, but it is the kind of story that is more convincing and easy to believe, because you are hearing from someone who is actually there, living it. It’s hard to relate to the science sometimes because scientists with opposing views often both have “evidence” to back up their claims, and both sound plausible.

  4. 4 John in Salem
    February 1, 2010 at 14:29

    One of the other inconvenient truths about climate change is that the general public has no grasp of how science works – the average person couldn’t tell you what the scientific method is if they had to.
    And after watching how they DO respond to uneducated media commentators it must be tempting to use the same tactics. Spin and contempt are becoming an acceptable alternative to rational discussion of any complicated problem and science has to be more vigilant about letting itself stoop to that level.

  5. 5 DavidC
    February 1, 2010 at 15:12

    The “spin” is not coming from the scientists. It’s coming from the anti-science contingent and ultimately their ringmasters – ExxonMobil, et al. It’s an attempt to distract from the real science that keeps on producing new evidence that the climate continues to deteriorate and the need for action becomes more urgent.

    None of the recent “OMG! It’s all a hoax!” events have changed the science in any way. They’ve just been minor embarrassments – to anyone with the least critical faculty. Mistakes happen.

    Who caught the ‘2035’ mistake? Not a ‘sceptic’. A climate scientist who worked on the IPCC reports. Some conspiracy!

    Instead of giving more oxygen to these hysterical non-events, write about the science and the actions we must take now.

  6. 6 Mike in Seattle
    February 1, 2010 at 15:16

    The big problem here is that most people (especially politicians) aren’t required to take enough math and science courses to understand the science to begin with. The next time your show has “skeptics” or “deniers” on, please ask them about the amount of training in the science they actually have. Ask them if they understand calculus or have actually spent any time in a laboratory setting.

    Combine that with all the folks who stand to lose money as the world shifts to a greener economy and there you go.

  7. 7 Ibrahim in UK
    February 1, 2010 at 15:22

    Science is clear… to scientists. The rest of us don’t understand it well enough. It’s not exciting enough for us, it’s not an immediate worry. If something bad might happen in 100 years, it’s something for the future generation to worry about.
    Look at smoking. The science there says how bad it is, people know it’s bad, but they still do it. So we get bigger and more extreme warnings on the cigarette packet, and more anti-smoking legislation. The same is true for climate change, they feel they have to get the message out as loud as possible for people to become worried and take action.
    Unfortunately, the message is becoming more important than the science, and now the un-informed can point to stories of changing weather patterns and blame it on climate change. Heck, even Bin Laden is warning us about climate change!

  8. 8 Frank in the USA
    February 1, 2010 at 15:24

    Man-made global warming is not science. It’s politics.

  9. 9 username
    February 1, 2010 at 15:35

    The next time your show has politicians or activists on, please ask them about the amount of training in the science they actually have. Ask them if they understand calculus or have actually spent any time in a laboratory setting.

    Combine that with all the folks who stand to gain money as the world shifts to a high green tax economy and there you go.

  10. February 1, 2010 at 16:07

    When someone can tell me how why Glaciers started to melt in the first place then perhaps I would accept that Global warming is man made

  11. 11 Jagjit Singh Mukandpuri
    February 1, 2010 at 16:30

    Man, by science created Global warming and now sciencists are telling the world about it. The developed countries using it as a weapon against the developing and third world countries. Man is polluting him self by smoking tabacco and alerting the world against pollution!!!

  12. 12 Tom D Ford
    February 1, 2010 at 19:00

    Hmm, so talking to Alpine mountain guides and mountain climbers about changes in the part of the world that they actually experience is not credible, but propaganda dreamed up and imagined and written in the Corporate offices of Exxon-Mobil, and other right-wing pro-fossil fuels groups is considered credible?

  13. 13 Uneza
    February 2, 2010 at 04:29

    it sure has turned into politics, yeah, BIN LADEN is talking abt climate change! he siad to be in caves, i wonder how he keeps up with all the things abt climate change!

  14. 14 TomK in Mpls
    February 2, 2010 at 04:30

    When there is no complete and clear explanation, sales matters. That is why there is a spin.

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