David Whitehouse

David (Robert) Whitehouse

 Credentials

  • Ph.D., Astrophysics, Victoria University of Manchester (1983). [1], [2]

 Background

David Robert Whitehouse is a scientist, writer, and broadcaster. He was BBC's Science correspondent from 1988 until 2006, and also served as the Science Editor for BBC News Online. [2]

He has since criticized the BBC's climate change reporting as “evangelical” and “inconsistent,” and claimed their reporting on scientific issues was “shallow and sparse.”[3]

Whitehouse serves on the Academic Advisory Committee for the contrarian Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF).

He has written for many publications, including the Huffington Post. His connection to the skeptical GWPF is not mentioned on his Huffington Post profile.

Stance on Climate Change

“Global warming has, temporarily or permanently, ceased. Temperatures across the world are not increasing as they should according to the fundamental theory behind global warming – the greenhouse effect. Something else is happening and it is vital that we find out what or else we may spend hundreds of billions of pounds needlessly.” [4]

Key Quotes

“We are reaching the point where the temperature standstill is becoming the major feature of the recent global warm period that began in 1980. In brief, the global temperature has remained constant for longer than it has increased.” [5] 

Referring to professor Muller's Berkely Earth Surface Temperature Project, “The Best project's treatment of science and of the public has been shoddy. That so many so-called reporters in the mainstream media should have been so uncritical and accepting of what was clearly misrepresentation is shocking. Once again they have been found to be supporters and advocates for a particular point of view when they should have been critical commentators and journalists. Climate science is important. It deserves better.” [6]

“Reporting the consensus about climate change … is not synonymous with good science reporting. The BBC is at an important point. It has been narrow minded about climate change for many years and they have become at the very least a cliché and at worst lampooned as being predictable and biased by a public that doesn't believe them anymore.” [7]

“It does seem that the sea ice is returning to 'average' after the record lows of 2007 and 2008. There has been a definite recovery trend since then, so far from being a progression towards ice free summers it seems that it was a temporary dip. The recent observations do make the 2007 projections that the region would be ice free by 2013 look very unrealistic. Given what is happening only the foolish would look many years into the future and predict ice free summers now.” [8]

Key Deeds

January 17, 2013

David Whitehouse wrote an article at the Global Warming Policy Foundation claiming that climate scientist James Hansen's recent report admits that a “Global temperature standstill is real,” and that this was evidence that “The GWPF has been right all along.” Hansen's actual report can be viewed here (PDF). Whitehouse goes on to criticize the remaining sections of Hansen's report which reports on how climate variations will continue to “cause a substantial increase in the frequency of extreme warm anomalies.” [26]

Much of Hansen's report also contradicts Whitehouse's assertion that the GWPF was “right all along” if he is referring to the group's essential stance on climate change. For example, note these paragraphs in Hansen's original document (emphasis added): [27]

“These short-term global fluctuations are associated principally with natural oscillations of tropical Pacific sea surface temperatures summarized in the Nino index in the lower part of the figure. 2012 is nominally the 9th warmest year, but it is indistinguishable in rank with several other years, as shown by the error estimate for comparing nearby years.  Note that the 10 warmest years in the record all occurred since 1998.

The long-term warming trend, including continual warming since the mid-1970s, has been conclusively associated with the predominant global climate forcing, human-made greenhouse gases, which began to grow substantially early in the 20th century. The approximate stand-still of global temperature during 1940-1975 is generally attributed to an approximate balance of aerosol cooling and greenhouse gas warming during a period of rapid growth of fossil fuel use with little control on particulate air pollution […]”

December 1, 2011

In a Huffington Post article, David Whitehouse criticizes the currents state of science journalism, stating that “There has never been a golden age of science journalism, but certainly there were more characters, better writers, more newsgathering zeal, and more originality in the recent past.”

He says that “science, and communicating science, is too important to be left to the scientists. An essential component of the scientific enterprise is the science journalist, and there as the saying goes, we have a problem.”

Whitehouse goes on to explain the nature of the suggested problem, concluding that “Climate science in particular is reported far too narrowly with much important peer-reviewed research ignored, and with environmental reporters far too concerned with doing down those they define as sceptics. Forget the sceptics, just report the science properly. It will all come out in the wash.”

Additionally, he suggests that “Journalists … should not look to scientists for guidance anymore than an artist asks a bowl of cherries for advice about how to draw them! They should criticise, highlight errors, make a counterbalancing case if it will stand up, but don't censor, even by elimination, don't be complacent and say the science is settled in areas that are still contentious.” [23]

Paul Raeburn posted a rebuttal at the Knight Science Journalism Tracker, stating that “The only example that Whitehouse uses to make his case is that of climate-change coverage. Environmental reporters, he writes, are 'far too concerned with doing down those they define as sceptics.' On the contrary, I would argue that skeptics have received far too much coverage.” [24]
 
Whitehouse's critique and Paul Raeburn's response is also covered here. [25]

February 2, 2011

One of Whitehouse's blog posts at the GWPF [9] was debunked by London School of Economics Communications Director Bob Ward. Ward described Whitehouse's GWPF publication, saying “I do not know of any other web page about global warming that is so error-ridden.” [10]

November 9, 2010

One of Whitehouse's articles at the GWPF was republished by Watts Up With That. In the article Whitehouse suggests that “2010 will be in terms of global annual average temperature statistically identical to the annual temperatures of the past decade.” [5]

His claim was debunked by other sources and blogs such as this one. [22]

April, 2010

Whitehouse claimed that Artic sea ice levels were returning to average. However, according to the Carbon Brief, Whitehouse's prediction had been “soon after the height of the Arctic winter when the Arctic sea ice reaches its greatest extent.” [11]

The Carbon Brief examined Whitehouse's claim and concluded that the “overall trend is downwards, particularly in the summer.” [12]

December 3, 2010

Whitehouse predicted that “2010 will be remembered for just two warm months [March and June], attributable to the El Nino effect, with the rest of the year being nothing but average, or less than average temperature.” [13]

Whitehouse's claim was in turn quoted by British Journalist David Rose who, according to SourceWatch, is known for repeatedly misquoting scientists on climate change.  [21]

According to the NASA and NOAA datasets, 2010 tied with 2005 for the hottest year on record [14]; and NASA's GISS data showed November 2010 as the hottest November on record. [15]

According to SourceWatch, the use of the term “average” in Whitehouse's statement was also misleading, as the dataset referenced (CRU, through Oct 2010)shows every month in 2010 to be considerably warmer than the corresponding historic (1850+) average. The pattern appearing in NASA's GISS data. [16], [17].

Whitehouse later explained that he meant the “average” for just one decade - a timeframe statisticians consider too short to be meaningful in seeing the underlying trend. [18]

 Affiliations

 Publications

Whitehouse is described as the “Science Editor,” of The Observatory, a publication of the Global Warming Policy Foundation of which Whitehouse is a regular contributor.

According to Skeptical Science, as well as a search of Google Scholar, David Whitehouse has not published any peer-reviewed journals on the subject of climate change. [20]

He has some journal articles in the areas of astronomy and astrophysics, [1] and he is the author of four books: The Moon:A Biography, The Sun:A Biography, Galileo, and One Small Step.

Whitehouse's articles have appeared in numerous publications and blogs, including Watts Up With That, Climate Realists, ICECAP, The Telegraph, BBC News, The Independent, and even Huffington Post.

 Resources

  1. PUBLICATIONS - UNDER CONSTRUCTION,” Davidwhitehouse.com. Accessed December 12, 2011.

  2. Dr. David Whitehouse,” Huffington Post. Accessed December 12, 2011.

  3. Andrew Orlowski. “Ex-BBC science man slams corp: 'Evangelical, shallow and sparse'”, The Register, May 22, 2009.

  4. David Whitehouse. “Has global warming stopped?” (PDF), New Statesman, December 19, 2007.

  5. Anthony Watts. “David Whitehouse: The Climate Coincidence: Why is the temperature unchanging?”, Watts Up With That, November 9, 2010.

  6. David Whitehouse: Climate Science Deserves Better Than This Shoddy Treatment,” The Global Warming Policy Foundation, November 2, 2011.

  7. Andrew Orlowski. “Ex-BBC science man slams corp: 'Evangelical, shallow and sparse'”, The Register, May 22, 2009.

  8. Arctic ice increased during freezing winter,” The Telegraph, April 4, 2010.

  9. David Whitehouse. “The Temperature of 2010,” The Observatory, February 2, 2011.

  10. The most error-ridden web page about climate change?”, London School of Economics Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, May 3, 2011.

  11. Arctic ice increased during freezing winter,” The Telegraph, April 4, 2010.

  12. Summer comes, weather warms – Arctic melts away?”, The Carbon Brief, June 2, 2011.

  13. David Whitehouse.”2010 - An Unexceptional El Nino Year,” Global Warming Policy Foundation,” December 3, 2010.

  14. Joe Romm. “Breaking: Both NOAA and NASA data show 2010 tied with 2005 for hottest year on record,” Climate Progress, January 12, 2011.

  15. Joe Romm. “NASA: Hottest November on record, 2010 likely hottest year on record globally — despite deepest solar minimum in a century,” Climate Progress, December 10, 2010.

  16. David Whitehouse,” SourceWatch Profile.

  17. Tom Yulsman. “What are you looking at?”, CE Journal - Center for Environmental Journalism, November 11, 2010.

  18. AP Science Reporter Borenstein Reports Statisticians Reject 'Global Cooling' Line,Yale Forum on Climate Change & The Media, December 27, 2010.

  19. Academic Advisory Council,” The Global Warming Policy Foundation. Accessed December 12, 2011.

  20. Peer-reviewed skeptical papers by David Whitehouse,” Skeptical Science. Accessed Dec 12, 2011.

  21. George Monbiot. “David Rose's climate science writing shows he has not learned from previous mistakes,” The Guardian, December 8, 2010.

  22. Hey David Whitehouse: why is the sky green?”, Open Mind, November 11, 2010.

  23. Science: A New Mission to Explain,” The Huffington Post, December 1, 2011.

  24. HuffPo critic fires unfair shots at science writing,” Knight Science Journalism Tracker, December 7, 2011.

  25. A Critic of Science Journalism Dons a Masquerade,” Collide-a-Scape, December 9, 2011.

  26. David Whitehouse. “JAMES HANSEN ADMITS GLOBAL TEMPERATURE STANDSTILL IS REAL,” The Observatory, January 17, 2013.

  27. J. Hansen, M. Sato, R. Ruedy. “Global Temperature Update Through 2012 (PDF),” January 15, 2013. Retrieved from www.columbia.edu.

  28. Dr David Whitehouse,” LinkedIn profile. 

  29. Global temperature evolution 1979-2010,” The Observatory, December 6, 2011.

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