02 February 2010

BBC Newsnight on IPCC

Tonite I was on BBC Newsnight (screenshot above) with Professor Chris Field, the (new) head of IPCC Working Group II. I knew that the interview was not going to go well when Professor Field explained, not-so-accurately, that as soon as the IPCC heard about the glacier error it quickly came out with a statement clarifying the matter. No mention of "voodoo science" or "schoolboy science" or the extended period of denial of error by the IPCC leadership.

I had a chance to summarize the problems in the IPCC associated with its creation of the "mystery graph" and the outright falsification of my views in the IPCC review comments. Professor Fields completely ignored these issues and instead chose to obfuscate and deny any problem whatsoever. This is remarkable because all Professor Field would have had to say was something like the following, "These are serious allegations, especially about the misrepresentations of Roger's views in the review process. We should tighten up our procedures to make sure this sort of thing does not happen again." And then the IPCC should follow it up with some improvements to the process.

Instead, Professor Field tried to talk over me and deny, deny, deny. As I said in the interview, this issue is not ambiguous. The studies are not equivocal. There is no signal of rising temperatures in the disaster record. Period. Maybe there will be in the future, but there wasn't in 2006, when the IPCC deadline for publication occurred and there is not now. Further, both the "mystery graph" and the falsification of my views are unambiguous failures of the IPCC process to ensure that accurate information is included in its reports. How can this be denied?

Why the IPCC has chosen to take a stand on this issue -- to defend the indefensible -- is beyond me. If you truly believe that science is self-correcting and truth wins in the end, then the IPCC has staked out a position that it cannot win on in the long term, no matter how much spin is applied in the short term. Apparently, however the short term has a ways yet to run -- Rajendra Pachauri makes the front page of tomorrow's Guardian, where he says:
"You can't expect me to be personally responsible for every word in a 3,000 page report."
Well then, who is? Because I'd sure like to know who is responsible for the IPCC lying about my views.

If you are in the UK you can see the first half of the Newsnight segment here (not sure where the rest is) and if it shows up on YouTube I'll provide a link to the segment in an update.


  1. No better example as to why the IPCC should be extinguished.

  2. Pretty standard TV news fare. Regardless of the question...simply make the statement you intended to make.

    It's why I gave up watching TV news.

  3. "The best defense is to be accurate."

    As sound-bites go, I think that's one to be proud of.

  4. Just out of interest... You have earlier been a lukewarmer supporter of CO2 reductions. Which, even when done in a economically smart way, would cost the world economy trillions of dollars. In light of the recent revelations, the characteristically untrustworthy demeanour of many of the so called leading climate scientists and the increasing uncertainty surrounding the consensus view on climate and the true signifigance of anthropogenic CO2 emissions, do you still consider those trillions would be resources sensibly spent in a world facing multitude of problems and challenges? Or should the process now be put on hold for the time being till a clearer and more trustable scientific picture emerges?

  5. Field: "Balanced view"? How can it *possibly* be balanced when they didn't even include the views of the actual researcher??

    Field can be lumped in with other charlatans such as Jones, Mann et al.

  6. From this web site:


    "Field was formerly a coordinating lead author on the 2007 IPCC report and a member of the delegation representing the IPCC at the 2007 Nobel Prize ceremonies."

    "Among his many results, Field showed that global warming has already had a negative impact on agricultural productivity, indicating that warming reduced the global harvest in 2000 by approximately 40 million tons per year—a $5 billion in lost value."

    So Field signed off on the 2007 report. You're calling him and his colleagues incompetent bunglers. No surprise he's going to deny. The mistakes you point out are so egregious that only a fool could commit them.

  7. On a positive note the reporter held Prof. Field fairly accountable to your points in this first portion of the interview.

  8. Roger I thought you did a great job despite a lot of misrepresentation by Chris Field. Your points were sensible and brief. It was clear (to me at least) that you were an expert who knows his stuff while Field was defending the indefensible, especially with regard to the inclusion of "gray" information in the IPCC without its grayness being highlighted.

    I sense that the winds are changing in that Kirsty was certainly not afraid to challenge some of the assertions made by Field.

    Good job!

  9. Well done, Roger.

    You came across as calm and knowledgeable. You made some good points.

    Field seemed ... evasive.

  10. Roger,

    I saw the Newsnight programme and I thought you were excellent. Very clear and fair and calm. I particularly liked your last point, IIRC, there is some good science and some bad science in the IPCC reports, and it is a difficult and time-consuming process to sort out which is which.

    Chris Field was just terrible. He repeatedly failed to answer Kirsty Wark's questions. He tried to perpetuate the debunked fib that the IPCC presents a balanced view. Towards the end his connection failed - I wouldnt be surprised if one of his colleagues or he himself pulled the plug, he was doing so badly!

  11. Well done Roger, you came across really well.

  12. Can somebody please put the program out on youtube?

    Some us in Norway would like to see it too!

  13. Found this link from David Harrington posting at Bishop Hill...Seems to be to whole program, though I can't tell for sure since I'm in the US (though I can watch the video linked in the original posting).


    Agree with the above; on the half I saw, a very good showing by Dr. Pielke within a less-than-optimal format with a less-than-honest Dr. Field.

  14. Excellent performance, Roger. Disappointed not to see the baseball hat, but everything else was fine. You sounded more convincing than the other guy, even though I have no idea whether the literature is nuanced or otherwise.

    We know that global attitudes are changing when they didn't introduce you as a sceptic, a denier or a trouble maker !

    The British Murdoch tabloid, the Sun is now also being hostile, and that is very important, because the Murdoch family are unsurprisingly, pro AGW.

    The whole programme - UK only.


    All (full) BBC programmes are now sent to Iplayer.

  15. Maybe this article by Walter E. Williams explains the reason they are defending the indefensible. Williams is saying, regardless of the evidence of Global Warming being exposed as highly tainted, that politics and money will ignore the hoax and forge ahead.


  16. I found the video here from Bishop Hill via (h/t to EU Referendum: http://eureferendum.blogspot.com/2010/02/worth-snigger-or-two.html)

    (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/newsnight/8494793.stm )

    though I am not sure it is the whole segment.
    Field was certainly rude and on the defensive. I thought Roger was on point and precise. I also thought Krisy Wark was pretty supportive of Roger and essentially called Field and the IPCC on the two major and embarrassing errors. Did I miss something?

  17. I thought your cntribution was first-rate.
    I sense a change in the BBC on climate issues,lets hope so.

  18. There is a typically infantile attack on the BBC in the Guardian today, for last night's Newsnight programme. The agenda is to reduce the debate to an emotional us vs them, tabloid level.

    The BBC spouts rightwing bias while ignoring environmental science. So why not give other conspiracies a platform too?

    After watching last night's Newsnight, I can only come to one conclusion: the BBC has become this country's most pernicious climate-change-denying media outlet in the UK.


  19. Two quotes from the first-half clip of Newsnight.

    2:48 Chris Fields - "This issue with the cost of disasters is much more nuanced, as Roger knows."

    3:40 Roger Pielke - "This is not a nuanced issue, there is no ambiguity here."

    As far as what Roger knows: Who are you gonna believe, me or your lyin' eyes?

  20. "'You can't expect me to be personally responsible for every word in a 3,000 page report.'
    Well then, who is? Because I'd sure like to know who is responsible for the IPCC lying about my views."

    Be fair, Roger, he couldn't read the whole report AND write a sex novel. Give the guy a break. ;)

  21. Field appears to be like a rabbit caught in the headlights. Along with Pachauri, he seems like a thoroughly dishonest and untrustworthy individual.
    Obviously a good choice for their respective roles.

  22. This is longer than the version linked by Roger above and is visible outside the UK.


  23. Roger, it is great that you are in London, the eye of the storm. Hope you make the rounds. Also hope other independent scientists from around the world will join you in London, to discuss and present real science, and to expose the errors of the IPCC.

  24. Craig said... 1

    "No better example as to why the IPCC should be extinguished."

    There is just one better, their chairman.

  25. AMac said... 19

    Two quotes from the first-half clip of Newsnight.

    THE LINK on this post worked for me here in the US

  26. "You can't expect me to be personally responsible for every word in a 3,000 page report."

    It was Bush's fault.

  27. As Jeff at "the air vent" said:

    "we summarily reject your relaity and substitute our own"

    welcome to the polictical world of climate science, shame it had to happen this way, it really is

    this puts an awful lot of well meaning honest scientists in an awkward position that is beyond stupid, never should happen

    keep up the good fight Roger, seriously

  28. Well done Roger.
    The first set is gone: Pielke Jr 6 - Field 0.

  29. Shame you didn't get Jeremy Paxman. Fielding might have had a far more uncomfortable time.

  30. Roger.
    Nice entertainment. You obviously have had more experience with handling a media interview; in this type of setting the actor who is sensible, brief, and calm looks like the winner. But, I am not sure if that, in any way, shows that your were more credible than Fields.....just saying.

    I think it would have been more interesting to everyone if BBC had decided to include one of the authors of Miller et al. (2008) in this interview to clarify all of these errors. Otherwise, this just seems like windbaggery of an issue.

  31. RPJ, I know I made a previous comment but I just watched the BBC clip on You Tube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WRUuHXoC95A

    I'm afraid I agree with Dr. Fields here. The disaster-damage trends are nuanced. Fields just fell into your terminology trap. I read most of your disaster writing. Landsea and your two hurricane-damage paper were excellent, but your basing your data off of cost and U.S. inflation, incredibly nuanced. Your 1998 flood paper's damage statistics are based off of news reports, journal writings, and faulty gauge readings, (and diaries?). Some of your current blog posts about flooding in West Africa are nuanced about journalism.....how is any of this not nuanced? (Btw, don't worry, I write about damage trends and climate modeling, too. So maybe we will see/spar each other in the literature in the near future).

    I think you have the IPCC all wrong, regardless of your many journal papers. They are climate scientists; in research, climate scientists freeze a current state of a model and report on it, regardless if a better version of the model comes out during their analysis. Its very easy to see that is what the IPCC did here with including the disaster-trend graph in their report in 2007, where later a paper that the data came from, Miller et al. 2008, may contradict that data. Maybe they will correct this in their next report? Its 2010, wait 2 years and see. Or write a paper that doesn't get rejected by them.
    You make them out to be this monster.

    But, lets say the did intentionally falsify a statement about you.
    Maybe the IPCC is politely dropping the hint that they are ignoring you.

  32. It appears that Chris Fields is taking a different approach with "Africagate".

    Speaking this weekend, Field said: “I was not an author on the Synthesis Report but on reading it I cannot find support for the statement about African crop yield declines.”

    From: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article7017907.ece

    Perhaps he watched a tape of his performance on BBC Newsnight and realized that obsfucation and denials just make him look silly.