Tuesday, May 10, 2005

the decline and fall of david bellamy

Back in July David Bellamy wrote an article titled 'Global Warming: What a load of poppycock!', which - despite its faintly endearing title - was itself a load of absolute rubbish (he quoted a petition signed by 18,000 'scientists', whose signatures included, on closer inspection, 'Ginger Spice' and 'Michael J. Fox'). Now he's at it again. He's claimed that many of the world's glaciers

"are not shrinking but in fact are growing ... 555 of all the 625 glaciers under observation by the World Glacier Monitoring Service in Zurich, Switzerland, have been growing since 1980".

In the Guardian today George Monbiot deconstructs the 'scientific' data which led Bellamy to this claim, and reveals - predictably enough - that it's a combination of thoroughly bad science, out of date research, invisible sources and, unbelievably, Bellamy's own carelessness.

"While Bellamy's source claimed that 55% of 625 glaciers are advancing, Bellamy claimed that 555 of them - or 89% - are advancing. This figure appears to exist nowhere else. But on the standard English keyboard, 5 and % occupy the same key. If you try to hit %, but fail to press shift, you get 555, instead of 55%. This is the only explanation I can produce for his figure. When I challenged him, he admitted that there had been "a glitch of the electronics"."

He didn't request a correction, however. Not good enough! Bellamy joins the ranks of 'scientists' who have to be thoroughly unscientific in order to justify their opinions about climate change. It is hard to convey, Monbiot writes

"just how selective you have to be to dismiss the evidence for climate change. You must climb over a mountain of evidence to pick up a crumb: a crumb which then disintegrates in the palm of your hand. You must ignore an entire canon of science, the statements of the world's most eminent scientific institutions, and thousands of papers published in the foremost scientific journals".

Read his article in full in the Guardian here, or on his website - with references - here.


Ben said...

Fascinating deconstruction of Bellamy's claims - I think I'll have to link to that myself.


jonathan said...

It just makes me pleased that I'm not involved in scientific pursuits; so many layers to peel back from every claim and counter-claim; it's amazing how Monbiot strips back all the elements of Bellamy's argument, yeah.

Dr. Sloan said...

And with any luck, the Bad Science column in tomorrow's Guardian will be all over this story like stink on a monkey.