This blog is written by Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Posts appear Monday & Wednesday.
Dutch journalist maligned by TED head office.
Marcel Crok studied chemistry in university and then became a science journalist. In 2004, the Dutch magazine for which he worked asked him to write his first article about climate change.
It concerned a highly influential graph, known as the Hockey Stick, so named because its shape resembled a long handle followed by an upturned blade.
Scientists and politicians insisted this graph proved human-generated carbon dioxide had triggered a worrisome increase in temperature. Therefore, climate action needed to be taken.
Crok spent two months researching these matters. In the process, he gave careful consideration to the concerns of two Canadian critics who said the graph was bogus. Doggedly and persistently, they’d unravelled the calculations behind the graph, demonstrating that the algorithm produced a hockey stick shape no matter what data was inputted.
Rather than proving alarming global warming, what the Hockey Stick actually showed was that no one had bothered to double-check the calculations underlying what would be become one of the most influential graphs in history.
Crok’s article won an award. But that didn’t prevent journalistic colleagues from dismissing him as a climate skeptic (As if journalists aren’t always supposed to be skeptical. About everything). Meanwhile, a Dutch government agency publicly declared his article to be nonsense.
Because he has a spine, and because he has integrity, Crok wasn’t deterred. He says he was intrigued, even fascinated, by the fact that the scientific establishment refused to admit the graph’s shortcomings. Isn’t science supposed to be self-correcting?
As he explains in the 20-minute video at the top of this page, “I thought, OK, if this graph is fake after all, what about other claims in the…global warming debate?”
Last December, Crok spoke at a TEDx event held in Roermond, a southern Dutch city located close to the German – and Belgian – border. Rather than being official TED events, TEDx events are arms-length gatherings that feature “local speakers presenting to local audiences.”
Nevertheless, the decision to invite Crok caused consternation back at head office. In a recent blog post, titled My flagged Tedx talk about climate change, Crok writes:
The motto of Ted is “ideas worth spreading”. Apparently not all ideas are worth spreading, because soon after the organisation of Tedx Roermond sent my name and a short description of my ideas to the TED headquarters they received a rather threatening email back that the ultimate consequence could be that they would lose their Tedx license. Kudos to the organisation of Tedx Roermond that they persisted in scheduling my talk and also in uploading it.
A mild-mannered, scientifically-literate journalist who has been researching his subject matter for well over a decade concludes that much of what the public is being told about climate change is fake news. He tries to let people know that the future isn’t as frightening as they might imagine.
How does the TED organization respond? By attaching a disclaimer to the video:
NOTE FROM TED: We’ve flagged this talk, which was filmed at a TEDx event, because it appears to fall outside TEDx’s curatorial guidelines.The sweeping claims and assertions made in this talk regarding climate change only represent the views of the speaker and are not corroborated by scientific evidence.
TED’s official position is that “the views of the speaker” aren’t evidence-based. Did anyone from that organization actually watch this video? It contains numerous graphs, with clear indications of where the data comes from.
Crok says he finds the “sweeping claims” allegation amusing. That’s because there aren’t any. Please watch the video and decide for yourself.
If you’re not a video person, his blog post contains a written version of his presentation, prepared in advance (the two versions differ a bit), in addition to all the visual aids, some of which aren’t easy to see in the video – click here.
I’ve met Crok a couple of times. He’s the real deal – a journalist who, despite having a young family to support, refuses to be bullied. He has, I assure you, paid a price for following his conscience.
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