In the last few days the issue of funding the BBC was recently discussed on Slashdot. There is a proposal to tax personal computers on the off-chance that they might use the BBC’s online resources and even watch streaming video rather than watch TV. I’m pretty sure that such a tax would fall foul of the European Union as a subsidy to a State-controlled corporation.
But what are they spending extra money on?
Well, the BBC propaganda unit certainly knows how to spend it by joining a climate modelling exercise in the form of a downloadable screensaver. Where does the climate model come from?
From climateprediction.net, a collaborative climate modelling project run by Dr David Stainforth
Now Stainforth and climateprediction.net have "previous" (as they say at Scotland Yard) in that they ran a previous climate modelling whose results were so ludicrous that even RealClimate criticisized it.
Not of course the BBC, which ran this result with the full scare treatment:
Alarm at new climate warning
By Richard Black
BBC environment correspondent
Temperatures around the world could rise by as much as 11C, according to one of the largest climate prediction projects ever run.
This figure is twice the level that previous studies have suggested.
Scientists behind the project, called climateprediction.net, say it shows that a "safe" upper limit for carbon dioxide is impossible to define.
The results of the study, which used PCs around the world to produce data, are published in the journal Nature.
Why was it so ludicrous? Because the modelling run simulated what would happen to the temperature of the atmosphere if the CO2 concentration was instantaneously doubled. It certainly saves time modelling a linear increase in carbon dioxide over decades, and gets to the scary headlines that Stainforth clearly craved, and got. Stainforth effectively dropped a huge carbon dioxide bomb into the simulated atmosphere, and then stood back and watched the fun.
Warwick Hughes checked the modelling results and found that out of the hundreds of model runs, only 11 produced temperatures as high as 11C. You can count them here:
The average of these runs for this ludicrous setup was 3C. Not exactly world-shattering is it?
Was Stainforth going for the Big Red Shiny Panic Button? Yes
Natural Environment Research Council
Embargoed until 1800 hrs (GMT) 26 January, 2005
Bleak first results from the world s largest climate change experiment
Greenhouse gases could cause global temperatures to rise by more than double the maximum warming so far considered likely by the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), according to results from the world s largest climate prediction experiment, published in the journal Nature this week.
The first results from climateprediction.net, a global experiment using computing time donated by the general public, show that average temperatures could eventually rise by up to 11°C – even if carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are limited to twice those found before the industrial revolution. Such levels are expected to be reached around the middle of this century unless deep cuts are made in greenhouse gas emissions.
Chief Scientist for climateprediction.net, David Stainforth, from Oxford University said: Our experiment shows that increased levels of greenhouse gases could have a much greater impact on climate than previously thought.
Climateprediction.net project coordinator, Dr. David Frame, said: the possibility of such high responses has profound implications. If the real world response were anywhere near the upper end of our range, even today s levels of greenhouse gases could already be dangerously high.
So now we have the BBC promoting a new "improved more sophisticated model" in a bold new experiment in science. And notice the weasel words used to describe the future scary headlines:
The scientists behind climateprediction.net believe their project is also a tool to spread awareness and understanding of climate change.
The link to BBC television may, they believe, help with this angle of their project as well as recruiting more users.
They hope to have initial results from the new model about three months after it is launched.
Frances McNamara, the BBC’s producer for the experiment, said the project would give people a chance to be part of efforts to tackle a warming world.
"We wanted to use the BBC’s web and interactive services to help the audience to make a personal contribution – not only to the climate change season of programming, but also to genuinely new science."
At the end of the BBC Four programme Meltdown, viewers will be asked to log in, download, and set their PCs to the task of predicting the climate of the future.
Meltdown, part of the Climate Chaos Season, will be broadcast on BBC Four on Monday 20 February 2006 at 21:00GMT.
"…to spread awareness and understanding of climate change". Yes, that’s one way to describe it.
Can 11C be bettered? Will the BBC get the scary headlines for its modestly titled "Climate Chaos Season"? It’s clearly money well spent by British TV license holders "to give people a chance to be part of efforts to tackle a warming world". Only a curmudgeon could see anything remotely sinister about it.