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Monday 31 January 2011

The Qualification Anomaly

Last week’s edition of BBC2’s Horizon, “Science Under Attack”, has clearly stirred up the climate change denial lobby, to the extent that the Maily Telegraph’s dynamic denial duo of Christopher Booker and James “saviour of the Western world” Delingpole are still whining about it.

And that whining is now becoming desperate: Delingpole’s latest attack on Paul Nurse, head of the Royal Society, excuses his interview performance by telling of a medical condition. Well, James, none of us are perfect, and I’ve not seen you make an exemption for anyone on the end of your sneering as yet.

Booker, meanwhile, is once more obsessing with the qualifications of those involved in the Horizon programme, when he isn’t trying to accuse Nurse and one of the team at NASA of misleading their audience over amounts of new CO2 entering the atmosphere (wrongly, it seems).

That man from NASA, Booker complains, is “only an expert in ice studies”, so somehow doesn’t count. Nurse is dismissed as he is a geneticist. And Booker has been at the forefront of the discounting of IPCC head man Rajenda Pachauri as a mere “railway engineer”.

But wait a moment – what of the accusers’ qualifications? Well, Anthony Watts, whose blog Booker and Delingpole quote so approvingly, is a meteorologist – but not a climatologist, which would not pass Booker’s criterion if he were on the other side of the argument.

Moreover, Steven Goddard, who guests on the Watts blog regularly, and who has been shown to have difficulty reading a graph of temperature anomalies, does not provide any CV or list of qualifications, so it must be assumed that his expertise has been taken by the Telegraph Two on trust.

And those two Telegraph contributors’ qualifications for judging climate change science? Delingpole took his degree in English Literature, not a science related subject, and Booker read History (ditto).

But he read it at Cambridge, so that’s all right, then.

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