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"Fair and Unbiased"

So, Top Gear's man of mystery, the Stig, has unmasked himself in order to sell his book. The BBC is objecting to the publication of the book on the grounds that it breaches contractual and confidentiality agreements.

HarperCollins, the would-be publishers of the book, have issued a press release in which they say that they "are disappointed that the BBC has chosen to spend licence fee payers' money to suppress this book".

Remind me again who owns HarperCollins, and why they might want to make political capital at the BBC's expense in the run-up to the renegotiation of the BBC charter, and possible abolition of the license fee.

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Seriously? Your universe is so deviod of real concerns that you get so upset by something like 12 hours of tv per year?

Sure, Top Gear is purile, but it's hardly the end of civilisation.

I think HC suck for trying to tuse his non-event it to drum up publicity, but the BBC suck more for trying to block the guys book. If he's breaking the contract, just sack him, it's not a big deal. I don't buy the whole News Corp consipracy theory thing, nobody really cares, except you lot apparently.

PS I saw the previous guy (Perry Macarthy [sp]) at some trade show. He was teaching fat geeks how to drive a F1 simulator, shilling for a company that sells datacentre equipment. The whole biography thing didn't really work out for him.

It may be "hardly the end of civilisation" but Top Gear is an important influencer of public opinion. It has so many opportunities to actually do good and instead it does actively do harm. Their attitude to a number of viable environmental issues has genuinely set back progress. The change to public opinion made by 100 well researched scientific papers about global warming and pollution are quickly undone by an off-hand comment from a woolly-headed tit who is just trying to spark controversy with his opinion.

Really, stuff like global warming may be "hardly the end of civilisation" but as modern issues go, it's the closest we have. I genuinely believe the top gear presenters (well mainly Clarkson) effectively pull in exactly the wrong direction and the show does attract that kind of gullible person who might easily become a climate change sceptic simply because it's controversial, makes life easy and Jeremy Clarkson says it's OK.

I guess I just don't believe that the random blatherings of Clarkson would really change enough people's opinion to really have any effect.

The popular press is (or was?) so enthusiastically jumping on the global warming disaster doomsaying bandwagon that Clarkson's ilk are pretty much drowned in the noise anyway. I found that almost as irrisponsible and anti-scientific, but they rarely get called on it.

There's definitely global warming fatigue setting in, and I think that's mostly due to people wondering when it's going to happen "wait, weren't the ice caps supposed to have melted by now?". But responsible scientists weren't making those claims, it was breathless duck-squeezing rentapundits (he says, naming no names), and supposedly reputable news outlets for giving them column inches.

supposedly reputable news outlets

Often exactly the same supposedly reputable news outlets that give column inches to the naysayers.

Still, it's all good for the circulation figures.

Admittedly I don't really read newspapers very often anymore, but I can only remember seeing naysayers twice, once in the Guardian, and once in a pop science rag they flog in station newsagents (New Scientist maybe?).

The Guardian was more calling into question the motivations of some of the researchers from what I remember (it was a few years ago), the science rag was pointing out that some of the stronger claims were obviously (to anyone with an A level in physics or similar) bullshit.

Could be that newspapers have started fact-checking articles, rather than just publishing any sensationalist press release that floats past, but I doubt it.

The popular press is (or was?) so enthusiastically jumping on the global warming disaster doomsaying bandwagon that Clarkson's ilk are pretty much drowned in the noise anyway.

Um... no, no they're not. Even though at this point it is rather like trying to claim that gravity goes up you'll still find the Express is still anti and until recently the Mail too.

I found that almost as irrisponsible and anti-scientific, but they rarely get called on it.

That's because the rest of the western world sees it as responsible and scientific.

So, downplaying risks is bad, and exaggerating them is good? I don't think I can agree with that. Pseudoscience is pseudoscience.

The consequence of ridiculous exaggerations is that more people become skeptical, and quite understandably.

E.g. http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/aug/10/climatechange.arctic
For comparison, according to the UIUC (http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/global.daily.ice.area.withtrend.jpg), we've lost around 10% of the sea ice area in the last 30 years. Obviously very serious, but not in the same league as the whole ice cap being gone in 5.

I don't see the Express or the Mail. The Metro, which was a Mail-group rag was one of the worst for printing ridiculous overclaims. The Evening Standard, which has replaced the Metro, is not much better.

Duh, the Evening Standard hasn't replaced the metro, it reaplced the other evening rag whatever-it-was-called.

Sorry, you just lost any respect I might have given you in this area. That graph is a classic of denialism (widely and stupidly used on anti global warming websites and so irritatingly people BELIEVE it because it's nice to pretend you know better than scientists). The prediction in the article was about ARCTIC sea ice in SUMMER, that graph was of GLOBAL sea ice ALL YEAR. Gah! I'm sorry, I find it infuriating. It's so easy to get people to think daft things with slight of hand like that.

Step away from the denialist web sites or you'll keep wading through that kind of bullshit and some of it will stick. Here's a graph of ARCTIC sea ice


Pay attention to the graph of summer sea ice. It's shrinking, it's shrunk by well over 50% and the rate of shrinking is increasing.

Honestly, please please apply some scepticism to anti global warming claims you look at. Most of them are damned easy to see through if you apply any kind of scientific process or reasoning.

The express printed "100 reasons global warming is wrong". They're as rational on that subject as they are on the subject of princess di.

That graph comes from the Atmospheric Sciences department at UIUC, not from some fucking denialist website. It does also show seasonal variation.

You're right however that it's a global graph (I hadn't noticed that), the ones for just the arctic are even more serious (http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/seaice.anomaly.arctic.png http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/seaice.area.arctic.png), but still not even close to the ice cap being gone by 2013, even from a 2008 perspective.

My point was that with just ten minuites google work, and a minute amount of knowledge of science that guardian reporter could have saved himself from publishing nonsense.

I would obviously apply scepticism to any anti global warming claims that I saw (though I don't think I've seen any, other than Orlowski in the Reg, who I tend to avoid), as you can maybe tell I'm a very skeptical person!

I'm perfectly well aware of the source. It's widely used on sceptic sites for its misleading nature. "Look, they say 50% of ice is gone but look at this reassuring graph..." It's a common trick of the denialist. Take a valid data source of the WRONG data compare it with a claim about a different area and jump up and down. Really, seeing that graph in an argument about global warming is like seeing a picture with arrows and the caption "shadows in wrong direction" in an argument about nasa funding.

as you can maybe tell I'm a very skeptical person!

Unfortunately you're one of those people I categorise as "thinks they're a skeptic". That is you pick a belief and become instantly gullible to anything that agrees with it. If you did (as you say) do ten minutes of google you would have found graphs which both supported and denied your argument. Then instead of saying "this one supports me" and pasting it in you would have actually been skeptical and worked out which one was appropriate for the case being made. In the case of this argument you would then find which of the graphs was actually appropriate for arctic sea ice (not global or northern hemisphere). Really, to call yourself a skeptic you have to treat all arguments with equal suspicion not pick one and hold onto it.

Your second and third graphs are northern hemisphere sea ice. Exactly the same trick as before and you fell for it a second time (or worse you thought I'd fall for it a second time).

Now go, actually be a skeptic (not just someone picking a side) and find some graphs of ARCTIC sea ice in the SUMMER. Then look at the ones which you agree with and the ones which you disagree with. Look at exactly what each is measuring and work out why they're different (are they measuring different things? Is one good data is one bad?) Then make a judgement about the plausibility of total sea ice collapse by 2013.

I've just done that and I think it's possible but unlikely. It would require the summer ice melt to increase but not by very much.

And really really, is it going to affect how you act vis-a-vis global warming if the arctic sea ice is gone by 2013 or 2025? I don't think that's going to greatly affect my perception of whether it's an important global issue.

You seem to be trying to ascribe beliefs to me that I don't have. I have no problem beliving in global warming, it's scientific consensus, and demonstrated admirably by all three graphs I linked, which come from a respectable geophysics research insituation.

I'm complaingin about the low quality of "science" reporting in the UK papers. I quoted an example of exagerating global warming, you quoted some examples of denying it. Fine. Both are pretty terrible in my optinion.

If you really think the arctic will be ice free in 2015, as predicted by the Guardian article, I'll have £100 on it, and dine out on the proceeeds.

Otherwise, it would be more productive to argue with someone that actually disagrees with you.

If you really think the arctic will be ice free in 2015, as predicted by the Guardian article, I'll have £100 on it, and dine out on the proceeeds.

It's pretty clear from that that you read neither my response nor the Guardian article itself.

It being 12 hours containing homophobic bilge makes it somehow less offensive?

That I find it morally abhorrent and that I genuinely think less of anyone who can condone that kind of program doesn't make it the be all and end all for me. Like I'm sure many people who found programs like 'the Comedians' and 'Love thy Neighbour' offesive managed to live full, happy lives despite the fact that there weas a major broadcaster condoning prejudice.

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