Andrew Montford: Another Attenborough tragedy porn exposé

More tragedy porn.

“Tragedy porn” is now a standard green propaganda technique. You’ve probably been on the receiving end of it, and will recognise it once I describe it. First of all you need a victim. Animals – preferably fluffy ones, and preferably with large eyes – are ideal, but people will do at a pinch. Then you have to film them in the process of dying or otherwise suffering. A presenter or scientist needs to be on hand to describe the events, preferably choking away their tears. Then you blame global warming.

It is often an effective technique, but care is required. Last week, tragedy porn proved to be the undoing of Sir David Attenborough, when a carefully contrived story on Netflix  that global warming was driving walruses over cliff tops unravelled over the course of a week, as a series of flaws were discovered in the narrative and in the tales spun by the production team as they attempted to cover up what they had done. Once it emerged that the production team may well have played a role in causing the tragedy, it all started to look a bit problematic.

It’s therefore unfortunate that in Climate Change: the Facts, his latest magnum opus – which aired last week on BBC1 – producers deployed a bit of tragedy porn, and once again it appears that viewers were misled.

The animal that was chosen to front the relevant segment of the new show were bats, and in particular the spectacled flying fox, a native of Papua New Guinea and northern Australia. Flying foxes are an excellent choice for tragedy porn, being very furry and having the most extraordinary bulbous eyes, beautifully evolved to bring out the maternal instinct in everyone.

The producers gave the audience both barrels. We were treated to commentary from Rebecca Koller, the owner of a bat sanctuary near Cairns, who described how a heatwave in the area had left “dead bats as far as the eye could see”. This, we were told, was “climate change in action”. And in case you missed the point, we were also treated to a description of “the deafening sound of babies crying”, with Ms Koller apparently on the verge of tears. Now the young of bats are correctly referred to as “pups”, of course, but this is tragedy porn, and scientific and technical accuracy therefore goes out of the window. Later on, as if to make the “flying foxes look like babies” point absolutely explicit, viewers were treated to images of a pup that had been swaddled and was being bottle fed. Subtle it was not, but hearts no doubt melted across the country anyway.

Sir David informed viewers that the method bats had evolved to cool off – dipping in pools of water – was “no longer enough”. This seemed rather odd to me; I would have thought they’d just need to take a dip slightly more often.

Read it all here.

Cannibals and Climate Change

Ok … there is the term “Jumping the Shark

I think this headline is a Jumping The Shark moment.

120,000 years ago the temperature was COOLING at about 1C per 1,000 years after it spiked 130,000 years ago.

Maybe they meant 135,000 years ago when the temperatures rose 10C (without SUV’s) in 5,000 years …. which is still only 1C per 500 years. I doubt someone living 25  years would notice .02C in their lifetime.


Image result for eemian graph


Too Many Polar Bears or … Can We Shoot More?

Too Many Polar Bears … or killing 600 a year isn’t keepin the numbers in check … or The Inuit want to sell  more hides.

There are too many polar bears in parts of Nunavut and climate change hasn’t yet affected any of them, says a draft management plan from the territorial government that contradicts much of conventional scientific thinking.

The proposed plan — which is to go to public hearings in Iqaluit on Tuesday — says that growing bear numbers are increasingly jeopardizing public safety and it’s time Inuit knowledge drove management policy.

“Inuit believe there are now so many bears that public safety has become a major concern,” says the document, the result of four years of study and public consultation.

“Public safety concerns, combined with the effects of polar bears on other species, suggest that in many Nunavut communities, the polar bear may have exceeded the co-existence threshold.”

Polar bears killed two Inuit last summer.

The plan leans heavily on Inuit knowledge, which yields population estimates higher than those suggested by western science for almost all of the 13 included bear populations.

Scientists say only one population of bears is growing; Inuit say there are nine. Environment Canada says four populations are shrinking; Inuit say none are.


Read the rest.


DRAX – 729 million pound Subsidy to Burn Forests

Drax is a coal power plant in the UK that has converted 3 out its 6 boilers to burn wood pellets.

Why is DRAX switching to wood pellets?

The EU has declared wood pellets to be green despite the fact wood pellets produce more CO2 than coal.

This is a bigger scam than diesel.


 Drax received subsidies worth £729m last year, all to be paid for by electricity users.



Biofuels = Centuries Long Increase in CO2

This paper is a pdf.

Biofules, biomass , wood pellets et al are a disaster if you believe more CO2 will cause Global Warming.

Does replacing coal with wood lower CO2 emissions?
Dynamic lifecycle analysis of wood bioenergy
John D. Sterman1
Lori Siegel2
Juliette N. Rooney-Varga3


In sum, although bioenergy from wood can lower long-run CO2 concentrations compared to
fossil fuels, its first impact is an increase in CO2, worsening global warming over the critical
period through 2100 even if the wood offsets coal, the most carbon-intensive fossil fuel.
Declaring that biofuels are carbon neutral as the EU and others have done, erroneously
assumes forest regrowth quickly and fully offsets the emissions from biofuel production and
combustion. The neutrality assumption is not valid because it ignores the transient, but
decades to centuries long, increase in CO2 caused by biofuels.

Burning Forests (to save coal)

A broken analog clock is right twice a day. So I’m quoting from the Guardian again.

A few quotes:

“In the middle of the 19th century, wood burning rose to such levels that western Europe was almost completely deforested. Ironically, the rise of coal burning saved the situation”

” carbon emissions will rise by 6% or possibly more if wood is allowed to continue to provide more and more of Europe’s energy output”

“Europe has increased its use of renewable energy sources to provide it with power, and about half of that rise has come from burning biomass. Unfortunately, says Beddington, if that increase continues Europe will soon need to burn an amount of wood greater than its total harvest and would have to seek sources from other continents. Either land for farming would be turned to biomass growing or precious natural habitats will be exploited, most probably the latter”

“In generating exactly the same amount of electricity, wood will release four times as much carbon into the atmosphere as gas would do, and one and half times as much as coal. In addition, energy is used in harvesting and transport while vast stretches of land are needed to create the forests to supply generating stations with the wood they need.”

Stop Burning Forests! Burn Natural Gas!


“A power plant burning wood chips will typically emit one and a half times the carbon dioxide of a plant burning coal and at least three times the carbon dioxide emitted by a power plant burning natural gas.

Although regrowing trees absorb carbon, trees grow slowly, and for some years a regrowing forest absorbs less carbon than if the forest were left unharvested.

Eventually, the new forest grows faster and the carbon it absorbs, plus the reduction in fossil fuels, can pay back the “carbon debt”, but that takes decades to centuries, depending on the forest type and use. We conservatively estimate that using deliberately harvested wood instead of fossil fuels will release at least twice as much carbon dioxide to the air by 2050 per kilowatt hour. Doing so turns a potential reduction in emissions from solar or wind into a large increase.”


Even The Guardian gets it …