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New BBC Programme On Climate Change

February 23, 2015

By Paul Homewood


h/t QV




The BBC have a programme on climate change going out tonight next Monday. According to the blurb:


This programme aims to remedy that, with a new perspective on the whole subject. Presented by three mathematicians – Dr Hannah Fry, Prof Norman Fenton and Prof David Spiegelhalter – it hones in on just three key numbers that clarify all the important questions around climate change. The stories behind these numbers involve an extraordinary cast of characters, almost all of whom had nothing to do with climate change, but whose work is critical to our understanding of the climate.

The three numbers are:
0.85 degrees (the amount of warming the planet has undergone since 1880)
95 per cent (the degree of certainty climate scientists have that at least half the recent warming is man-made)
1 trillion tonnes (the total amount of carbon we can afford to burn – ever – in order to stay below ‘dangerous levels’ of climate change)

Understanding how scientists came up with these three numbers gives a unique perspective on what we know about the past, present and future of our changing climate.


Let’s look more closely at these three numbers:




1) 0.85 degrees.

I wonder whether the programme will:

a) Question how we know what the temperature was in 1880. After all we still have very little idea now. Serious scientists would surely rubbish the figure of 0.85C.

b) Ask why we are so obsessed with the temperatures at the end of the Little Ice Age, and put recent warming into perspective against previous warm periods.

c) Objectively assess the very many benefits brought by the warmer climate in the last century or so.


2) 95%

As these are all mathematicians, I assume they will point out that the “95% certainty” declared by the IPCC has no statistical basis. It is simply a subjective assessment.


3) 1 trillion tonnes

Will they explain that this is just a meaningless number?

That the amount of warming which it would bring depends on climate sensitivity, which models have badly failed to replicate so far?

That it is based on an arbitrary amount of warming, that may or may not be “dangerous”.



As these are all expert mathematicians, I would expect them to raise these issues, and a lot more. However, this is the BBC, so I am not holding my breath!

  1. February 23, 2015 2:13 pm

    Dang, I didn’t see the “show more” link.

    I don’t think it is to be broadcast tonight, I think it’s March 2nd.

  2. Keitho permalink
    February 23, 2015 2:27 pm

    The Beeb is fully locked into the AGW narrative. The only reason for that is that it is government policy. The only reason it is government policy is that it provides an avenue for patronage and control.

    These three mathematicians will answer the questions they are asked. They will not ask questions of their own because to do so would result in damage to their careers and incomes. That’s how this awful monster works.

  3. 1saveenergy permalink
    February 23, 2015 2:48 pm

    They really want to get the message across, its going out 3 times that week (& then there’ll be repeats).

    • BBC tv 4

    Mon 2 Mar 2015 21:00
    Tue 3 Mar 2015 02:25
    Thu 5 Mar 2015 22:00

    • February 23, 2015 11:13 pm

      And don’t forget the Iplayer. This ghastly little piece of propoganda has been lurking there for over two years while other Horizon programmes come and go according to their expiry schedule.

      There’s a particularly galling piece of trickery from 36:50 where a JPL scientist and Paul Nurse pass off a medium-term weather forecast as an accurate global warming model. Quite disgraceful.

  4. mkelly permalink
    February 23, 2015 2:55 pm

    What was the accuracy of the temperature in 1880? What were the error bars for that temperature?

    • cheshirered permalink
      February 23, 2015 7:21 pm

      We don’t know – they haven’t decided yet. Come back in 70 years for a more accurate figure.

  5. February 23, 2015 3:28 pm

    Tonight is 10,000BC night on Channel 5.

    They do know what snow is.

    • Sleepalot permalink
      February 24, 2015 7:00 am

      I suspect those people are thousands of feet up a mountain. That’s why the old dear keeled over straight away. The Mesolithic “expert” knackered the experiment before it began. If I was leader of that tribe, I’d take them down the hill to the river, down the river
      to the sea, where there’s more air, it’s warmer, and they could live on shellfish and sea-weed. Hunter-gatherers were (still are ) nomadic.

  6. February 23, 2015 3:40 pm

    Do they know they are about to wreck their careers and the already weak reputation of the BBC?

  7. February 23, 2015 4:08 pm

    If you want to know the real risk/certainty “…..that at least half the recent warming is man-made”, they should consult William Hill*, or BetFred, or ……

    *For non-UK readers, Wiliam Hill is a bookmaker/bookie.

  8. February 23, 2015 4:12 pm

    Reblogged this on eliquidassets.

  9. Geoffmead permalink
    February 23, 2015 5:05 pm

    It’s not going out until next Monday, March 2nd

  10. Grimwig permalink
    February 23, 2015 5:12 pm

    Will they raise the question of UHI, poor station condition/siting, upward adjustments to earlier temperature records? I doubt it! The beeb appears not to have even one scientifically literate journalist who is prepared to ask the difficult questions.

  11. February 23, 2015 5:22 pm

    While scanning comments at WUWT
    Leo Smith February 23, 2015 at 1:59 am

    ” In one of Castenada’s novels there is a story about a young man who left his poor village in Mexico and went to the city to get an education.
    On his return to the village years later he found that the villagers were in thrall to a man who had a book, out of which he read long passages. This book it appeared contained all they needed to solve their problems. However the young man noticed that the man was holding the book upside down.
    “Your hero is a fraud: He cannot read” he declared “And I can prove it, he is holding the book upside down!”
    “What difference does it make, to a man who can read, which way up the book is? ” retorted the man, and the villagers cheered…
    The problem is, that when people reject all of science already, a scientific refutation of global warming is (politically) meaningless.
    I too have been appalled by the standards of debate over this, and other, issues. I have come to a terrifying conclusion.
    Perhaps less than 10% of the population understands science at all, and of that 10% probably less than 10% actually understand the mathematical principles involved in the AGW proposition. And most of those are not in climate science.
    This is ultimately both something that has always been the case with science and indeed rational thought, and something that is deeply worrying right now, because we are in a deep crisis as a society and need better understanding than that.
    Humanity en masse proceeds along more or less bigoted lines according to the fashionable prejudices of the age. The AGW protagonists understand this: their business is to move the fashionable bigotry along to suit their agenda.
    If we step back a minute and regard the implications of what I propose to be the case, they are these: The vast majority of humanity is incapable for one reason or another of understanding the science and technology that forms the backdrop to their lives. And in a democracy that means they are more or less unfit to vote on matters that affect it.
    A small minority of ‘movers and shakers’ – and these days they are (to borrow Jilly Coopers terminology) the ‘Tellystocracy’ , the media luvvies and those who use mass media to ‘inform’ public debate – are the ones who count. They are the new elite, the new lords and masters of the brave new world, and it is this group that has been so thoroughly targeted and infiltrated by all and any group with a political or commercial axe to grind. It doesn’t matter what some obscure group of scientists believe, or what the mass of people believe, what matters is what this group do in terms of forming (rather than informing) public opinion.
    This group then are by and large the group that actually carries out political change. They are in charge of the fashionable bigotry that comprises what we have come to know and love as political correctness. That vast and loosely affiliated propaganda machine that tells us what to think about, and what to think about it.
    What we need to do if we are to introduce truth into this tissue of lies and deceit, is to make the case to the media/political luvvies that in fact their particular brand of bigotry is deeply dangerous to themselves as a class.
    In the case of AGW we have two main avenues through which this is happening.
    First of all the man in the street is getting fed up with falling standards of living, and his winters seeming just as cold wet and miserable as the summers are, despite claims it was the warmest year on record.
    Secondly the more astute members of the tellystocracy are becoming aware that infrastructure is for everyone, and that includes them. Victorian sewers were to protect the elite of the day from disease, by eliminating it from the great unwashed. This is a potent line of attack – Wind turbines and solar panels become not source of individual profit, but a disaster for all including those that profit from them.
    Ultimately the game is this: Science in its broadest terms is nothing more and nothing less than a means of predicting the future. Science says if we do this or that, the other will happen. The complex mathematical laws we deduce, infer or discover (according to your metaphysical picture of what Laws are) have no justification beyond the fact that they work, and what they say will come to pass, comes to pass, mostly.
    Science that fails to predict anything is untestable, and if it fails to produce the result that reality provides, it’s junk science or no science at all. You can summarise this by saying that in the long term reality trumps bullshit.
    Ultimately AGW either produces correct predictions or its junk, It’s looking to be junk. However that doesn’t stop people believing in it because it’s fashionable bigotry. But here we invoke Darwin. Societies that fail to realise what reality is, and cling to fashionable bigotry, will suffer accordingly. There are signs that the whole West will in fact ultimately collapse in an orgy of self destructive mutual deception and liberal angst. Or perhaps it will wake up and smell the coffee.
    And in the end, that is the conundrum. It is true to say that people are reasonably easily led, and that even those that lead them, are themselves subject to fashionable bigotry. That is a fact of life that we have to deal with. In the end we have only one yardstick that works to dispel the fog of Belief In Bullshit and that is Reality herself, and Reality is a hard mistress. If She needs to destroy entire societies that are so infected with irrational bullshit that they can no longer support themselves at all, She will.
    I don’t like to get political here, but this is to me the great argument for not having the sort of monolithic world government that the cultural Marxists of the UN and the ‘liberal and social’ democracies seem to espouse. that and we all go down together. Whereas having political islands of national ideologies at least allows for some diversity of political thought, and if the West becomes so decadent not because of Capitalism, but because of Marxism and its descendants itself, that it is in danger of falling to a stronger culture, maybe one of those political islands will have the tools and the strength to resist and prove to have the next line of fashionable bigotry to deal with the new reality.
    From my perspective there are two completely different dimensions in play here, and it helps not to confuse them.
    There is the technical and scientific reality of the data: that the world ain’t warming any more, never warmed very much, and windmills and solar panels are a complete waste of time and money, and destructive to boot, and if we want to stay alive in the absence of fossil fuel the logical alternative is nuclear power.
    That these things are provably and demonstrably true is, however, irrelevant to the second dimension, which is what people think.
    Or can be induced to believe. And here there is in fact a world war in progress, World War III. Its not being fought with weapons (much) that kill, directly, but with weapons that corrupt thinking. It is a war of propaganda and competing ideologies, none of which have a particularly strong basis in Reality, because Reality is pretty damned complicated, and its easier to get people to believe in simple stuff. ‘Four legs good – two legs bad’ sort of stuff.
    I have to say that I have more or less given up on the science: The jury is in for people to understand the maths and the physics and how real science works. AGW is a crock of shit, and that’s that.
    The real game is the war for hearts and minds. And that is a game of psychology, propaganda, money, power, politics, greed, fear, uncertainty and doubt. If we can’t win it, it will in the end destroy Western civilisation, and so it should. If we have no answer for lies, we don’t deserve to make it.
    Once we had a system that worked. The brightest and best, and a few of the rich, got excellent educations and were indoctrinated with a culture of care for those less fortunate, and a sense of duty towards the masses. They did what they considered to be right, after duly listening to the problems.
    Today that is destroyed by egalitarianism, which ensures that no one at all gets a good education that everyone cannot afford. Except for a very very few – too few – people who espouse state education but manage to avoid it in the case of their children. Worse, they dont educate them into the actualities of science and technology even then, they educate them into the practical techniques of propaganda. We have in short a generation of peole who are highly skilled in the manipulation of public opinion, but no idea how a smart phone works. People ideally placed to control and dominate a society, and take from it all its riches, but without actually having even the most basic understanding of how those riches are created.
    Such a situation is dynamically unstable. We, the technologists, are not screaming out for recognition ‘because its unfair’ or ‘because its morally indefensible’. No, we have a much quieter but devastatingly powerful message. “If you don’t take at least some notice of Reality, you will in fact die of ignorance, and likely take us with you”.
    *shrug* If they don’t listen, it’s Goodnight Vienna. We wont be the first culture to commit racial suicide in pursuit of idiotic beliefs.”

    dbstealey February 23, 2015 at 2:56 am

    Leo Smith, You’re one in a million! Thanks for posting that, I’m in complete agreement. The problem isn’t science; that is 100% on the side of skeptics of MMGW. The problem is human nature. Some people/groups have that figured out, and that’s bad news for the rest of us.

    A.D. Everard February 23,2015 at 4:30 am

    Leo, your comment should be a post in itself. It should be widely read. This is so much what needs to be understood. Thank you.

    George Tetley February 23,2015 at 12:49 am

    WOW !!!
    I would like to add my own WOW! We have from now till December 2015 folks!

    • February 23, 2015 6:34 pm

      Mass delusion is so potent. My favorite is from Seattle and involves windshields of all things. There are others, but this is a classic because it shows the importance of the media in sustaining it.

    • redbaron52 permalink
      February 23, 2015 10:32 pm

      How do we get Leo Smith’s comment more widely publicised? Everyone should read this and hopefully the more astute will take notice

  12. Kelvin Vaughan permalink
    February 23, 2015 6:52 pm

    Just found this on the Pathe site. tornado damage in Alamabama in 1932.

  13. February 23, 2015 9:14 pm

    Reblogged this on Tallbloke's Talkshop and commented:
    Paul Homewood previews the BBC’s forthcoming IPCC Paris conference wind-up

  14. jarlgeir permalink
    February 23, 2015 9:25 pm

    This being the BBC they will have picked 3 politically correct mathematicians.

  15. February 23, 2015 9:27 pm

    Reading upside down is not that difficult. With practice, you can too.

  16. winter37 permalink
    February 23, 2015 10:10 pm

    The numbers to be discussed are irrelevant to Climate Change,but unfortunately the general public are unaware of this.The outcome will be that 2+2=5 ,and the audience will never notice.It grieves me deeply to see how politicians and some scientists are destroying science.
    Meanwhile Paul,thankyou for your valiant work in exposing the liars and cheats in the Climate Change corruption business.

  17. c777 permalink
    February 23, 2015 10:50 pm

    I believe the term is “puff piece”.

  18. February 24, 2015 6:27 am

    3) 1 trillion tonnes carbon is all we can afford to burn, ever

    Will they point out that the amount is not fixed because the oceans, the soil, rocks and plants all act as reservoirs of carbon in the form of chemicals. The carbon does not stay in the atmosphere, neither do the carbonates remain dissolved in sea water.

    Or are these the sort of mathematicians who don’t do physical problems?

    Will we get any wisdom regarding programming computers to do differential equations and partial differential equations?

    Will we get a review of the Butterfly effect (chaos) and how computer models avoid instability?

    Will we get any insight into parameterization as a substitute for including the physics in the models?

    Just asking.

  19. February 24, 2015 9:47 am

    Read their text “more info… about our changing climate, yet surveys show that the public are, if anything, getting less sure they understand what’s going on….. This programme aims to remedy that, ”
    – The way I read it first they choose to state BBC Eco-warrior faith “changing climate” as a fact ! dingaling
    – Then that the public doubting that is a problem
    … And that the programme’s aim is to fix that.
    .. using 3 numbers which are NOT actually indisputable facts …thus immediately contradicting themselves.
    – Duh ..It is entirely consistant that you first believe something, but as more info comes in you realise it’s not as simple as it first seemed and so your doubts increase.

    – 0.85 C : not a fact it’s a rough guess .. its not even sure the concept of average annual mean temp is that useful, never mind the measuring errors.
    – 95 % – BS and misleading cos its not a calculation, it was just a feeling
    – 1 tT – BS – strange that when you give the public a nice round number they doubt you ? … As if they are able to deduce that again its not a real calculation, as it would be if it was like 1.4564 tT +- 6.23%
    – And the use of “ever” adds to doubt cos people know the CO2 molecule eventually comes out of the atmosphere in the normal process so they don’t mean ever, they mean within a certain time.
    – You make a prog which seems like a propaganda mission with fuzzy things stated as facts ..and you wonder why the public is less certain ?

    cross ref to latest BH thread

  20. Stephen Richards permalink
    February 24, 2015 11:00 am

    Dr Hannah Fry is a lecturer in the Mathematics of Cities at the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis at UCL;

    Fenton . UClondon. Infested by lefties. My research involves developing both general purpose and application specific methods that enable non-experts to build and use models to solve real-world ‘risk assessment’ problems

    Spiegelhalter was research assistant in Brunel University in 1976[citation needed] and then visiting lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley, 1977–8. After his PhD, he was a research assistant for the Royal College of Physicians; he was based at the University of Nottingham, where his PhD supervisor, Adrian Smith, had been appointed a professor.

    Looks more realistic. I like to see Steve Mc’s vieww after the program. All depend on taxpayer shills to survive.

  21. February 25, 2015 10:40 am

    I don’t understand the first number/image combination in the trailer.
    i.e. .85 c and an image of the sun’s surface.
    Are they implying that the temp. is caused by the sun (I doubt it) or that the earth’s surface is as hot as the sun?
    “95 per cent (the degree of certainty climate scientists have that at least half the recent warming is man-made) ”
    Which I think is from AR5 and implies almost total certainty that “global warming” is almost totally man made when read casually, but in fact only relates to about 50% of warming.
    I thing that is a lower level of certainty for all warming than in AR4.

  22. March 2, 2015 7:33 pm

    Don’t forget to watch it!

    I asked the BBC why the trailer showed an image of the sun’s surface while displaying 0.85 degrees celsius.

    Unfortunately they didn’t seem to understand the question and replied:

    “0.85 degrees (the amount of warming the planet has undergone since 1880)”

    Which of course, I already knew!

    I have replied, asking again, what the sun’s surface has to do with that!

    • March 2, 2015 7:37 pm

      Oh no i haven’t, my reply was refused.
      I forgot the BBC don’t allow replies to emails.
      If I wan’t to reply I have to start all over again!

  23. March 3, 2015 8:59 am

    Well the programme was as biased as I anticipated.
    They may not have been “climate scientists” but they still went along with the standard “global warming” view with minds closed to the possibility that it could be wrong.
    It all made perfect sense, so long as you ignored the actual facts.
    Temperature adjustments were necessary because of changes in collecting sea surface samples, and according to their graph, past ocean temperatures have been increased, but no mention of UHI and the fact that past land temperatures have been reduced.
    No mention of the fact that their wonderful climate models were virtually all above observed temperatures when if they were unbiased, one would expect an even spread above and below.
    Very disappointing but not unexpected.


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