What Fresh Hell Is This?

March 17, 2010

Silly, This is Just Silly

The Editorial Board of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review is really reaching today - and again they didn't do their homework. Take a look at this paragraph from today's midweek briefing:
Britain's Advertising Standards Authority has ruled that two government-commissioned advertisements designed to raise awareness of climate change exaggerated the global warming threat. "In definitely asserting that climate change would cause flooding and drought, the adverts went beyond mainstream scientific consensus, the watchdog said," reports London's Daily Telegraph. Al Gore must have written the ads.
Let's do some digging. Here's the piece from the Daily Telegraph:
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled that the adverts – which were based on the children's poems Jack and Jill and Rub-A-Dub-Dub – made exaggerated claims about the threat to Britain from global warming.

In definitely asserting that climate change would cause flooding and drought the adverts went beyond mainstream scientific consensus, the watchdog said.
Advertisements based on nursery rhymes? THAT'S what this is about?? Fine.

Let's take a look at what the ASA wrote regarding these "adverts" (they're labeled "b" and "c"):
We considered that the use of well-known UK nursery rhymes and their associated imagery in the press ads referenced a UK setting. We noted that the IPCC report, based on a number of different emissions scenarios and using modelled climate projections, stated that it was "very likely" that "hot extremes, heatwaves and heavy precipitation events" would increase globally, where "very likely" referred to a greater than 90% probability, although we also noted the report did not make direct predictions for future climate patterns in the UK. The report discussed likely regional changes and stated that, at present, it was "likely" that heat waves and heavy precipitation events had become more frequent over most land areas and that, in relation to Europe, based on current trends, there would be an increased risk of floods and heat waves. The report stated that the risk of summer drought was "likely" to increase in central Europe, that extremes of daily precipitation were "very likely" to increase in northern Europe and that it was "more likely than not" that there would be an increase in average and extreme wind speeds in northern Europe, where "very likely" referred to a greater than 90% probability, "likely" referred to a greater than 66% probability and "more likely than not" referred to a greater than 50% probability. We considered readers would understand storms to consist of a combination of rain and wind. Because, in a European context, there was a probability of greater than 90% for some events but a probability of greater than 50% for other events and because all statements about future climate conditions were based on modelled predictions, which the IPCC report itself stated still involved uncertainties in the magnitude and timing, as well as regional details, of predicted climate change, we concluded that the claim "Extreme weather events such as storms, floods and heatwaves will become more frequent and intense" in ad (b) and the claim "extreme weather conditions such as flooding, heat waves and storms will become more frequent and intense" in ad (c) should have been phrased more tentatively to reflect that. However, we considered that the imagery of UK flooding in ad (b) and of a drought in ad (c) were not themselves (and particularly not in the context of a nursery rhyme "what if" presentations) exaggerated or misleading.
That's a lot of words. Luckily, the Telegraph sums things up nicely. Did you want to see the very next paragraph from the Telegraph? Here it is:
It noted that predictions about the potential global impact of global warming made by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) "involved uncertainties" that the adverts failed to reflect.
Wait wait, this is too funny. It turns out that the mainstream consensus the ASA is using is (now wait for it):

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The problem with the adverts is that they went beyond what the IPCC (ie the "mainstream consensus) said.

Funny that the Trib missed that part, eh?

1 comment:

EdHeath said...

I think the ASA rebukes themselves were the mildest they could be without turning into an actual endorsement of the ads. I rather suspect the ASA raised the complaints solely to appease some conservative element in the British population (and thus perhaps also in the government).

Meanwhile, as you say, it is too funny that the Trib inadvertently accepts without question the British Advertising Standards Authority's position that the hated UN IPCC's report is in fact the mainstream scientific consensus on climate change/global warming.

Someone at the Trib might well be saying (right now) "It's a trap".