If you can’t see any flaws in the arguments of those you agree with, and you can’t see any merit in the arguments of those you disagree with, then chances are you are in the grip of confirmation bias.

It’s not easy to cross rivers when you are looking in the wrong direction.

A few days ago, I asked this question on Twitter: when you take humanism from Christian teachings, is there anything left worth conveying to kids in school? This was in response to Joe Humphreys’ article in the Irish Times this week, where he wrote that elements of Christian teaching had a value in addressing the religious schooling problem in Ireland.

Joe has written some interesting thoughts on the issue over the past few months. This article wasn’t one of them, unfortunately. His was a ‘baby with the bathwater’ argument that did not address the problem of privilege within the Catholic Church. It sought to bolster the Church’s special place in education without giving solid arguments about why this should be. Appealing to tradition and creating straw men doesn’t cut it.

Many people in Ireland have a love-hate relationship with the Catholic Church. It has been an opponent of almost every progressive reform in the last half century, not to mention having presided over the greatest cover-up (and worst abuses) we have seen in our lifetimes. Many would argue, with ample justification, that the Church’s primary concern is its own survival. Still, we all know nice church people. We know clerics who have said the right things at the death bed of a loved one and taken principled stances on difficult issues when nobody else was addressing it. Even the Pope has his moments. 

Excellent though this is, the Church has no monopoly on such good works. Much of the same can be found within Protestant, Islamic, Buddhist, Hindu and non religious communities, or in any situation where people are compelled to help others. When Christians behave admirably, they are acting from a strong sense of human compassion. Religious principles may inform good actions, but it is not something only seen among Christians. Every day in China, India, Nigeria, Iran and all around the world; you will find good, kind, thoughtful, principled people doing good, kind, thoughtful, principled things, mainly because that’s the kind of people they are.

There is great humanism in Christianity. But back to my question: if you take this basic humanism from Christianity, what’s left?

Honestly – and quite possibly I’m missing some things- but it doesn’t seem terribly impressive to me. There is a strong appeal to prayer, which quite overlooks the fact that praying has a particularly poor record in solving most of the basic problems of the world. There is the belief in a deity who consistently eludes detection in any reasonable sense. There are all the rituals that seek to make this deity happy or at least smooth the way to an afterlife, the outcome of which this deity already knows. Is this even remotely on the same level as maths, history and geography?

It’s the area of sexual morality where the differences with humanism are greatest. Instead of looking at the complexity and variety of sexual practices and sexual preferences, Christian thinking often seems to reduce it down to disgust, shame and a desire to control other people’s basic freedoms. Sex is rarely seen as healthy, positive or worthy of proper discussion. Some Christian views, such as the stance on contraception and homosexuality are positively anti-human in their effects. A side effect of their absolutist views on abortion are to silence the voices of millions of women and to reduce them to a second class within society. It’s difficult to see how such simplistic thinking is at all helpful for children who will soon experience the massive complexities of adulthood for themselves.

I don’t have a problem with dedicated, devoted Christians being part of a new educational dispensation, but I do not think that this should be some sort of compromise between equals. It’s not. Humanism has developed from Christian thinking, but it’s also been able to benefit from the views of many other great thinkers, using science to validate these views. If people insist on educating their kids within their faith, then that is still their right, but I doubt if such an education will be greatly superior. It may even be detrimental if there is a strong emphasis on the non-humanistic parts of the curriculum.

Twitter was launched ten years ago.

Dolly the Sheep was cloned twenty years ago.

Rock legend Phil Lynott died 30 years ago.

U2 was formed 40 years ago.

England’s last World Cup win was 50 years ago.

The first person to say “fuck” on TV was Irish. That was 60 years ago.

Irish Nazi broadcaster Lord Haw Haw was executed 70 years ago.

Aer Lingus was founded 80 years ago.

An Irishwoman shot and injured Benito Mussolini 90 years ago.

Ernest Shackleton and Tom Crean rowed to South Georgia 100 years ago. 

Sounds familiar? 200 years ago we had a year without a summer.

William Shakespeare died 400 years ago.

The German Beer Purity Laws came into effect 500 years ago.

The Irish were busy fighting Scottish invaders 700 years ago.

King Cnut (don’t say this quickly while drinking German beers) became king of England 1000 years ago.

Italy beat Germany at an away match 2000 years ago. 

More 2016 anniversaries. 

 

 

Ten Years Ago (2006)

Twitter is launched. Saddam Hussein is executed. A terrorist bombing campaign in Mumbai kills 209 people. The New Horizons mission is launched towards Pluto. In the same year, Pluto is no longer classified as a planet. Former Irish Taoiseach, Charles Haughey, dies. Opening of the Dublin Port Tunnel. Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin is killed by a stingray in the Great Barrier Reef.

Twenty Years Ago (1996)

The Docklands bombing in London signals an end to the 1994 IRA ceasefire. Chess champion Gary Kasparov is beaten by a computer. The Dunblane massacre takes place in Scotland. The Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski, is arrested in Montana. An IRA gang kills Detective Jerry McCabe in Co. Clare. Journalist Veronica Guerin is killed in Dublin. Dolly the Sheep, the first mammal to be cloned from an adult cell, is born. Prince Charles and Diana are formally divorced. Fox News TV channel is launched in the US. Death of science advocate Carl Sagan. Divorce is legalised in Ireland.

Thirty Years Ago (1986)

Space Shuttle Challenger explodes, 73 seconds after take-off from Cape Canaveral. A fire at the Chernobyl nuclear facility in the Ukraine causes a nuclear meltdown. Spain and Portugal join the European Union. Swedish prime-minister Olof Palme is assassinated. Diego Maradona scores his “Hand of God” goal against England in the Mexico World Cup; then goes on to score the “Goal of the Century“. Thousands are suffocated after a massive release of carbon dioxide from Cameroon’s Lake Nyos. The M25 Motorway is opened in London. Death of Thin Lizzy frontman, Phil Lynott.  Jack Charlton becomes manager of the Ireland football team. A referendum introducing divorce in Ireland is defeated.

Forty Years Ago (1976)

The deadliest earthquake of the 20th Century occurs in Tangshan, China; over 250,000 people perish. The Concorde supersonic jet takes passengers for the first time. The Apple Computer Company is formed by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. The Cultural Revolution in China comes to an end with the death of Chairman Mao. Police clash with thousands of rioting youths in Soweto, South Africa. The Viking I and Viking II landers arrive on the surface of Mars. Israeli forces free 102 hostages from a hijacked plane in Entebbe, Uganda. The Supreme Court of the United States reinstates the death penalty. The first known outbreak of Ebola occurs in Zaire. An advertisement in Mount Temple Comprehensive School in Dublin leads to the formation of the rock band U2. President of Ireland, Cearbhall O’Dalaigh, resigns after being called a “thundering disgrace”.

Fifty Years Ago (1966)

Nelson’s Pillar is blown up by the IRA in Dublin. Soviet spacecraft land on the Moon, crash-land on Venus and go into orbit around the Moon. Ian Brady and Myra Handley are convicted of the Moors Murders. The beginning of the Cultural Revolution in China. The Beach Boys release Pet Sounds. They think it’s all over… England beats West Germany 4-2 in the World Cup Final in Wembley. The Beatles hold their last commercial concert in San Francisco. The first episode of Star Trek airs on US TV. A coal mine landslide in Aberfan, Wales, kills 116 school children. Walt Disney dies. The Vatican formally abolish their list of banned books.

Sixty Years Ago (1956)

Elvis Presley hits the US Charts for the first time. Pakistan, Tunisia and Morocco become independent countries. The first Eurovision Song Contest takes place in Lugano, Switzerland. The Hungarian Revolt takes place and is violently suppressed by Soviet Russia. Brendan Behan becomes the first person in the world to say “fuck” on a television programme. Egypt nationalises the Suez Canal and is attacked by Israel, France and Britain. Shockley, Bardeen, and Brattain win the Nobel Physics Prize for their invention of the transistor.

Seventy Years Ago (1946)

The electronics company that would eventually become Sony is formed in Japan. Jordan and the Philippines become independent countries. Italy becomes a republic. Senior Nazis are executed in Nuremberg. William Joyce, a.k.a. “Lord Haw Haw“, is executed in Wandsworth Prison. The United Nations meets for the first time – UNICEF and UNESCO founded the same year. Science fiction novelist H.G. Wells dies.

Eighty Years Ago (1936)

Nazi Germany re-occupies the Rhineland. Josef Stalin begins his Great Purge in Russia – an estimated 680,000 people are executed over the following 2 years. The Spanish Civil War begins after an attempt to oust the elected government of Manuel Azana.  Edward VIII abdicates after proposing to marry Wallace Simpson. Construction of the Hoover Dam is completed. Aer Lingus is founded as the Irish national airline. Alan Turing lays down the basis of machine based computing with his paper “On Computable Numbers“. Margaret Mitchell’s novel, “Gone With The Wind” is published in America. The first Olympic Games to be televised live takes place in Berlin. At the games,  Jesse Owens wins the 100m sprint, much to the chagrin of Adolf Hitler. The thylacine goes extinct in Tasmania.

Ninety Years Ago (1926)

Ireland’s first radio service (later RTE) began broadcasting. John Logie Baird demonstrates his mechanical television system. Fianna Fáil political party founded by Éamon DeValera. AA Milne publishes Winnie the Pooh. Magician Harry Houdini dies after a ruptured appendix. The NBC radio network starts operation in the US. Violet Gibson shoots Benito Mussolini three times while he was sitting in his car. The main Chicago to Los Angeles route is named Route 66. Birth of David Attenborough.

One Hundred Years Ago (1916)

The Battle of Verdun, the Battle of Jutland and the Battle of the Somme in World War I – over 1 million men are killed or injured in the Battle of the Somme alone.  The Easter Rising breaks out in Dublin and is suppressed by British forces within 5 days. Many of the ringleaders are executed. Ernest Shackleton and 5 companions complete a hazardous boat journey from Elephant Island to South Georgia. BMW motor company is founded in Germany. Murder of Grigori Rasputin in Russia.

Two Hundred Years Ago (1816)

This is The Year Without A Summer across the Northern Hemisphere as a result of the eruption of Mount Tambora in 1815. Argentina declares independence from Spain. Humphrey Davy introduces the safety lamp into coal mines. The stethoscope is invented by René Laennec. Mary Shelley starts writing Frankenstein. Indiana becomes the 19th US State.

Three Hundred Years Ago (1716)

The old monarchies of Spain are dissolved and Spain becomes a single unified country. The leaders of the Jacobite Rising of 1715 in Britain are executed. The first lighthouse is built in America.

Four Hundred Years Ago (1616)

Willem Schouten rounds the tip of South America and names it Cape Horn. Death of shōgun Tokugawa Ieyasu in Japan. Catholic theologians declare that Copernicus’s idea of the Earth orbiting the Sun is “foolish and absurd“; Copernicus’s book is banned. Deaths of William Shakespeare and Miguel De Cervantes. Pocahontas arrives in England. Construction of the Blue Mosque is completed in Istanbul.

Five Hundred Years Ago (1516)

The disparate kingdoms of Spain are united under the Habsburg monarch Charles V.  The Beer Purity Laws are instituted in Germany, limiting the ingredients to water, hops and barley. Thomas More publishes Utopia. Spanish explorers reach the Rio La Plata. A Dominican monk travels to Germany to sell indulgences for the reconstruction of St. Peter’s Basilica. This turns out to be a very bad idea.

Six Hundred Years Ago (1416)

Execution of Jerome of Prague at the Council of Constance. Jerome was a follower of Jan Hus who had been executed for heresy the previous year. Ma Huan writes his account of the Chinese age of exploration.

Seven Hundred Years Ago (1316)

Great Famine rages across Europe. The Bruce Campaign devastates Ireland. Death of Alauddin Khilji of India – one of the few rulers who defeated the Mongols during his reign.

Eight Hundred Years Ago (1216)

Death of King John of England of Magna Carta fame. Foundation of the Dominican Order.

One Thousand Years Ago (1016)

Death of Æthelred the Unready. King Cnut of the Danes assumes the Kingship of England.

Two Thousand Years Ago (AD 16)

Roman general Germanicus defeats the Germanic army of Armenius in retaliation for the massacre of the Teutoburg Forest in AD 9.

Two Thousand Four Hundred Years Ago (BC 384)

Aristotle is born.

 

Looking back over all my photos this year, I found it hard to pick out the top ten shots that I was most happy with. It was a great year for photography for me. I managed to travel to a number of far flung places, but, in the end, most of my favourite photos were taken locally.  So here they are. Click on any one of them to get a better view.

Electric Sunrise

This photo was taken in mid-January 2015, in the hills near Glanmire, Co. Cork. I don’t usually stop my car when driving to work, but this was an exceptional dawn event. We often forget how beautiful the sunrises can be here in Ireland.

Electric Sunrise, Glanmire, Co. Cork

Pacific Breaker

I took a work visit to California in March. As always, I drive towards the Pacific coast as soon as I get off the plane. The waves are often enormous. This day was no exception. It was taken by Bean Hollow State Beach, about halfway between San Francisco and Santa Cruz.

Breakers, Cabrillo Highway, California

 

Rowing Boat, Killarney

Quite a story for this next one. Myself and my friend Ais had elected to do a charity night-time walk up Ireland’s highest mountain, Carrauntoohil, in April. It was a total washout. We just barely managed to reach the top of the Devil’s Ladder before we were forced back by strong winds and lashing rain. We arrived back at Cronin’s Yard soaked to the skin. The original intention was to photograph the sunrise from the top of the mountain, but in the end, we were lucky simply to get back uninjured. The afternoon before the walk, I took this photo of a boat near Ross Castle.

IMG_6263

Double Rainbow

This photo from June was taken just yards from my home. The weather was showery that day, with rainbows guiding me all the way from Cork. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a double rainbow so stark as this one.

Version 2

Beech Trees, Waterford

The following day, Claudia and I went on a drive through County Waterford, taking the northerly route across the county from Portlaw to Clonea. It’s wonderfully picturesque; a maze of tiny roads and high estate walls. I took this photo on the walled road out of Portlaw. In the background is the lone hill of Slievenamon, Co. Tipperary.

IMG_9763

Camphire Horse Trials

I’m not at all into horses, but in July I visited the Camphire International Horse trials, nestled in a beautiful part of Waterford on the banks of the River Blackwater. It was a thoroughly wet day, but this didn’t spoil the enjoyment in the slightest. This photo, taken during the cross-country event, was full of action; the horse has just landed into the water after a challenging jump.

Version 2

Running boys

I just love this. My two youngest boys full of action. Why walk anywhere when you can run? It was taken on Garryvoe Beach in early August.

Version 2

The Big Sur

A few days later I was back on a plane, again in California for a few days. This time I decided to drive as far south from San Francisco as I could, reaching the Big Sur before sunset. It was a 100 mile drive to get there (and another 100 miles back). But my, was it worth it.

Version 2

Jellyfish Clouds

This photo was taken near home in late August. As the sun was setting, the cloud formation took the appearance of a tentacled jellyfish. It’s quite a panorama.

Version 2

Night Trail

A few days later, I took this evening shot by Garryvoe beach – the contrail of a jet casting an upwards shadow on nearby clouds.

Version 2

A few more

These are the photos that didn’t make my top 10. A pity, because I love all of them for different reasons. There are photos here from Shanghai, the Burren, Bantry House, Mount Congreve, the Galtee Mountains, California, Fota Wildlife Park, Penarth and Singapore, among other places.

 

 

 

We have had a few bad storms already this year, but last night was the worst so far. The town of Midleton was badly flooded, sections of the N25 were rendered impassable and parts of Garryvoe beach practically wiped out, with rubble strewn across the car park. Here are a few pictures I took today.

Midleton Main Street flooded.

IMG_8134

The Midleton river burst its banks, flooding the area around the distillery.

IMG_8176

Things were not much better by Bailick Road.

IMG_8183

Garryvoe carpark has been covered in rubble again.

IMG_8255

IMG_8261

Much of the beach seems to have disappeared.

IMG_8269

IMG_8270

The carpark is inaccessible from the hotel due to heavy flood waters.

IMG_8267

When we were leaving, attempts were being made to reduce the flooding by constructing a new channel to the sea.

IMG_8279

IMG_8281

On the First Day of Richmas, Richard Dawkins Tweeted Me

 

On the Second Day of Richmas, Richard Dawkins Tweeted Me

 

On the Third Day of Richmas, Richard Dawkins Tweeted Me

 

On the Fourth Day of Richmas, Richard Dawkins Tweeted Me

 

On the Fifth Day of Richmas, Richard Dawkins Tweeted Me

 

On the Sixth Day of Richmas, Richard Dawkins Tweeted Me

 

On the Seventh Day of Richmas, Richard Dawkins Tweeted Me

 

On the Eight Day of Richmas, Richard Dawkins Tweeted Me

 

On the Ninth Day of Richmas, Richard Dawkins Tweeted Me

 

On the Tenth Day of Richmas, Richard Dawkins Tweeted Me

 

On the Eleventh Day of Richmas, Richard Dawkins Tweeted Me

 

On the Twelfth Day of Richmas, Richard Dawkins Tweeted Me

 

Twelve Prize Winnings,
Eleven Old Men Griping,
Ten Pedophiles Equating,
Nine Date Rapes Comparing,
Eight Abortions Advising,
Seven Hero’s Presuming,
Six Violence Implying,

Five Free Beheadings,

Four Clockwork Bombs,
Three Tribesmen,
Two Normal Curves,
And Religion as a Terminal Disease.

 

 

I’m introducing my kids to coding at the moment. I’ve just discovered Scratch and Tynker and, having fallen in love with the UI (a combination of code and coloured lego blocks), I’m encouraging them to write simple programs.

Programming is great; not just because it’s a hugely important skill in itself; but because it teaches kids some valuable lessons about life itself. Here are a few things I’ve learned:

It’s all about making mistakes.

There are few things as frustrating as coding. To get something to work right requires hours of getting stuff wrong. You can be stymied for ages over a misplaced variable name or a minus sign in the wrong place. But if you stick with it, you’ll produce something rather beautiful: something that does just what you want it to do.

That’s how it works if you want to do anything well. You have to be willing to try different things; to accept that your first drafts will be imperfect – particularly when you are trying it for the first time.There’s an awful lot of trial and error in life. Coding gives you a deep insight into this.

There is no such thing as perfection.

Programs are never finished. Even if they do their job well, there’s always something that needs improvement. Perhaps the environment changes, or you need to make it work faster. When you are responsible for a piece of code, you are often in it for the long haul.

This is true to life. We never get to the stage where everything is sorted. In jobs, relationships, goals and personal needs: it’s a constant effort of jumping from one challenge to another. There is no perfect time, just the imperfect now. All we can do is adapt as best as possible.

There are no miracles.

When a piece of code doesn’t work right, the last thing you can do is to reach to a prayer book to answer the problem. Coding doesn’t respond to miracles, only to hard work. There’s always a logical answer embedded there somewhere, and an “aw shucks” moment when you finally figure it out.

In life, there’s a huge amount of fuzzy, magical thinking around which purports to have mystical answers to life’s deepest questions. But in the end, nature trumps such wishful thinking. Many things work in very complex ways, but deep down, it’s just natural laws at work. No matter how much we wish otherwise, there are no short-cuts to figuring out the great problems of life.

You get to practice some important life skills

Coding can involve a lot of playing around and trying things out just for the sake of it. If you are doing it against any kind of deadline, however, or if you need to write code for someone else, you have to learn to organise yourself. Coding generally involves a lot of thinking, writing, testing and improving. If other people are involved you will need to carefully consider how long these different phases are going to take, and give people updates if things don’t go according to plan. This, in essence, is basic project management.

Of all the competencies required by companies nowadays, managing projects is one of the most important skills you can learn. Over time, coding helps you to understand how long a task should take and how to regularly check your progress. You also gain experience in learning how to work with people and what’s involved in giving them just what they want. It’s hard work sometimes. Through it, you learn persistence, tenacity and negotiation – skills that are important throughout your adult career.

Coding is all around us.

The more we learn about this wonderful universe, the more we learn that very similar processes are everywhere around us. Our DNA is a type of elaborate computer program that shows how basic chemicals can be turned into the stuff of life. The way our brains behave and operate is akin to the working of a complex computer system. Evolution itself is an enormous, long term natural coding project where mistakes are punished by extinction, while adaptability is generously rewarded – it’s the biggest experiment in trial and error the world has ever seen.

Coding has helped to open the world up to us; enabling us to understand the universe in ways that our ancestors could never have imagined. Looking at the complexity of nature in terms of different algorithms has allowed us to make sense of it all. From coding you get an insight into how things hang together. It’s through coding we will solve the great challenges of this century.

 

The latest verbal outrage by Donald Trump has everyone talking again. Every day his rhetoric gets worse. Every day, he stokes the fires of racist and sectarian hatred, all in a frantic bid to become the world’s most powerful man. By appealing to the most regressive and darkest mindsets in American life, it is inevitable that his statements will result in innocent people being injured and killed.

I do not believe he has any chance of becoming the next President of America, even if there were to be a major event between now and the election. He has alienated too many people. Liberal, minority and moderate voters can’t stand him. I reckon that a sizeable number of Republicans would, if push came to shove, vote Democrat even if they would only do it with their noses pinched. Trump is promoting values that have nothing to do with America and nothing to do with how it achieved greatness. Throughout its history, people came to America because it was a free and fair country, not a fascist dictatorship. Americans fought world wars and spilled blood against fascism. American history and the history of America’s place in the world, is the strongest guarantor that Trump’s bid will go nowhere.

Even if Trump, by improbable good fortune, did become the next US President, it’s hard to see how he could have any success at all. In his zeal to enact his policies, he would start battles that would render effective government impossible. Since his greatest enemy, at times, appears to be the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights – he can expect fulsome and ferocious opposition at every turn; not just from politicians but from the many thousands of people – police, soldiers, doctors, officials and ordinary citizens – through whom he would expect his edicts to be enacted. They would find ways, overt and covert, to thwart his policies. Unless he was determined to turn the country into an autocratic police state (even more improbable), his presidency would be an utter shambles. I doubt if he would even make the full four year term.

If Trump has created a legacy, it is to revive a tradition of bigotry and hatred, mainly among the entitled cadre of white, elderly elitists who have seen their country become more diverse, more tolerant, more secular and more globally integrated, despite all their efforts to the contrary. My worry is, that as their numbers and influence wane ever further, we can expect greater extremism and violence from these quarters. They will not go quietly.

Despite this, I am optimistic about America. I think the chances are good that the moderates will win out. The recent success of progressive laws, such as same-sex marriage, is an indication that the forces of deep conservatism are on the retreat. I think a tipping point is near, if it has not already passed. What we are witnessing with Trump is the rattle of a mortally wounded snake – ugly, venomous and vicious. but doomed nonetheless.

My last blog post brings me nicely to a recent debate on climate change on RTE Prime Time (an Irish current affairs programme).

On the panel were Kevin Humphreys (Junior Minister in the Dept of Social Protection), Ray Bates (Adjunct Professor at the Meteorology and Climate Centre in UCD), Oisin Coughlan (Friends of the Earth) and Eamon Ryan (Green Party).

While, I think, two of the panelists (Humphreys and Coughlan) did creditably well to represent their positions, the other two, Bates and Ryan, were awful, and for two different reasons.

Maybe I should get the worst of them out of the way first. Eamon Ryan came across as shrill, ill-tempered and preachy. He butted straight into other people’s talk time, listened to no-one, waved his hands and acted like a small boy in a sweetshop whose parents wouldn’t buy him a pack of bonbons. He might feel really, really, really strong about this issue (and I don’t blame him for that), but his style completely overruled content on the night. Humphreys only had to roll his eyes a few times, and Miriam O’Callaghan to politely reprimand him, for us all to realise that Ryan’s emotions had let him down badly. He should be long enough in this business by now to realise that dogmatism and rudeness does you no favours in a TV debate, nor does it help the credibility of your party.

Screen Shot 2015-12-06 at 1.30.53 a.m.

Eamon Ryan in full flight

On the opposite side, Ray Bates was a model of civility and patience. He was considered. He didn’t lose his temper. Which was unfortunate, because Ray Bates was, by far, the most problematic person on the panel.

Now, to be fair to Bates, he is not what I would call a First Degree Denier. He accepts anthropogenic climate change (ie. we’re responsible for it), but he disputes how bad it’s going to be and how long it will take.

Bates took pains to advertise his scientific credentials. Indeed, He mentioned them a few times. But what I heard was something slightly different than what I might expect most scientists to say. He spent his time picking some IPCC findings that suited his argument: that the margin of error was greater in 2013 than in 2007, or that 2015’s warming was less in the higher atmosphere than the lower atmosphere, or that climate models were out by a factor of 3. Pick, pick, pick. It’s like he was reading all the data, then looking for a small number of anomalies that he could use for the purposes of spreading uncertainty. That’s curious.

So here’s the thing. If you are fairly clueless on the details of global warming like most of us are, you would be left with the impression that all scientists have the same viewpoint as Ray: that they think it’s serious, but it’s not something to worry about too much. He was the only person on the panel with real scientific credentials – others were political and activism based – so that lent his view a certain amount of gravitas in the circumstances.

Screen Shot 2015-12-06 at 1.33.26 a.m.

Prof. Ray Bates – climate models are the best we have, but sure, we can pick and choose.

But the fact is that he is very much out of step with most of his peers around the world. It’s not because they are all have some chip on their shoulder, or he’s not invited to the right parties; it’s because they are reading the data differently to him. The issue really is more urgent than he is making it out to be. After reading John Gibbons’ article about him, I tend to concur with the view that he is somewhat more protective of the Irish agricultural position than a totally independent actor should really be. I think he has an ideological position in this matter – otherwise why such a pro-agri stance? Why use the airtime to water down the findings in favour of the status quo?

I’m unhappy that Bates was the only scientist that RTE could find on this subject, because he badly misrepresented the scientific position on this. RTE needs to start getting away from the climate denier spokespeople – who are always available to talk – and start hearing more from other scientists who can better speak to the likely downstream issues caused by a rapidly warming world.

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 260 other followers

%d bloggers like this: