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Tuesday 24 December 2013

Brillo Redefines Reality

The climate change stance taken by the BBC’s Daily and Sunday Politics frontman Andrew “Brillo Pad” Neil is well known: his expertly crafted apologia for taking a glaringly sceptical view in an interview recently with Ed Davey has passed before my inspection already. But now, it seems, The Great Man has decided that it is time to redefine the scientific mainstream to suit Himself Personally Now.
This endeavour kicked off yesterday afternoon as Neil asked his Twitter followers “Has 2013 been [the] worst year ever for the global warming lobby? Or are setbacks only minor?”, as if there had been any kind of “setback” to the scientific consensus, after the latest IPCC report turned out to have no howlers in it, reducing the convocation of naysayers to hurling abuse as their best shot.
One respondent pointed out to Neil that he should be looking at global average temperatures, to which he responded “They haven’t risen for 17 years”. Yes, first it was 1998 that was the starting point for the so-called “pause”, but now Brillo has shifted it back two more years so he can use a bigger number. And, as I’ve pointed out before, you can fiddle the data to play that game very easily.
Problem is, it doesn’t invalidate the ever-rising longer term trend. And another respondent brought bad news for Neil. “Here is the actual temperature data. Still rising (unfortunately)” was the message, with a link to the RealClimate blog. This is a mainstream source which uses real-world data. So it might be thought that Neil would at least accept it as such.
But that thought would have been misplaced: “I’ve read that post. Much of it tendentious and way outside the scientific consensus” was his reply. His informant put him straight: “the data (the two graphs) are from IPCC 2013, ie as near to the scientific consensus as exists”. This is a factual statement. So what possessed Neil to take such a stance?
RealClimate is arguably the most mainstream climate blog known. Its regular contributors, such as Gavin Schmidt and Michael Mann, are mainstream climate scientists with hundreds of peer-reviewed publications to their names. Yet Andrew Neil is asserting that they are “outside the scientific consensus”. Perhaps this is, in fact, another attempt at redefinition.

After all, in that apologia following the Davey interview, he attempted to discredit one mainstream scientist before putting forward his own sources, all of whom were firmly in the sceptic camp. This is just another example of the genre: paint the mainstream as somehow controversial and extreme, and substitute what he would prefer the mainstream to look like.

Rupert Murdoch would be proud of him. But it isn’t going to work.

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