Search Results for: scientific uncertainty

Communicating uncertainty is a risky business

The conviction earlier this week for multiple manslaughter of six Italian geoscientists and a former government official has sent shockwaves through the research community. It should give everyone pause for thought, including journalists whose responsibility it is to communicate to the public the often complex issues surrounding hazard and risk. In light of the manslaughter […]

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Science on the attack

An hour very well spent it was, watching Nobel prizewinning biologist Paul Nurse discussing why science is under attack from political interests, right and left. Much of the programme centred on climate science, and featured interviews with those at the heart of the manufactured scandal that was ClimateGate. I found myself quibbling with a few […]

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Engaging with the climate enemy

In the November edition of Scientific American, Michael Lemonick discusses the subject of climatologist Judith Curry, who has made herself unpopular among colleagues for engaging with sceptics in online debates hosted on blogs such as Climate Audit. Engaging with the enemy is, say Curry’s detractors, a waste of time and effort. Needless to say, she […]

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UK parliament to investigate EU rules on GM crops

It has been announced today that European regulations governing the production of genetically modified foods are to be investigated in a cross-party parliamentary inquiry led by the Science and Technology Committee. Critics of the EU rules have long made heavy weather of the commission’s use of the so-called precautionary principle, but from my perspective, as […]

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Climate change fixes and unintended consequences

From the more serious climate sceptics we often hear calls for mitigation strategies to cope with anthropogenic climate change. That is, technical fixes designed to deal with the consequences of a warming world. One such mitigation strategy, which had been advocated on television chat shows by so-called “Sceptical Environmentalist” Bjørn Lomborg, among others, would involve […]

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A hundred billion a year is global chicken feed

Bjørn Lomborg may not be a climate denier, but during this past decade he has certainly been a pain in the arse in the public debate around anthropogenic climate change. Consider, for example, Lomborg’s consummate media tartery, together with his often absurd soundbite rhetoric, and cherry-picking of data to support an error-ridden “sceptical environmentalist” thesis […]

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Cooking the Iraq body count books

Listen to any ‘Stop the War’ spokesman, and you’ll likely hear quoted a number representing the excess mortality count in Iraq since the multinational military invasion and removal of the Ba’athist dictatorship. By excess mortalities we mean deaths resulting from the invasion and occupation, and subsequent terrorist activity carried out by those who refuse to […]

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Maybe the universe isn’t so dark after all

If you follow popular presentations of cosmology, you may be under the impression that most of the matter and energy in the universe is unseen. So-called Dark matter and dark energy have been invoked by astrophysicists to explain observed gravitational interactions between galaxies. Calculations show that dark matter should make up 23% of the mass-energy […]

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Newspaper pot calls science kettle black

One of today’s Observer editorials implicitly takes scientists to task for not being sufficiently frank about what science can and cannot explain. That’s a bit rich, given that scientists are forever qualifying and quantifying the confidence they have in their theories, data and models. It is general news media that tend to gloss over or […]

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What’s at stake in Copenhagen?

You could be forgiven for not fully understanding what’s what with the forthcoming UN-sponsored climate summit in Copenhagen, popularly unknown as “COP15”. Lobbying from all parties in the weeks leading up to the meeting has been fast and furious, politicians are sending out confused and contradictory messages, and journalists struggling to keep up with developments. […]

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