Climate-related Faculty Position, University of Georgia Campus in Griffin, Georgia (USA)

Announcement just received (and no, I have no relationship whatsoever with the University of Georgia):

POSITION: PUBLIC SERVICE REPRESENTATIVE/PUBLIC SERVICE ASSISTANT IN BIOLOGICAL and AGRICULTURAL ENGINEERING.

This is a 12-month non-tenure track faculty position with a 75% outreach and 25% research appointment in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, University of Georgia. This assignment may change in accordance with the needs of the unit. The position is home based at the University of Georgia Campus in Griffin, Georgia and is supported by grant funds.

DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES: The faculty member will be responsible for implementing an extension and applied research program aimed at reducing climate and weather risks in agriculture and natural resource management in Georgia and other southeastern states under the auspices of the Southeast Climate Consortium (www.SEClimate.org). He/she will conduct research on the impact of climate variability and climate change on agriculture and natural resources, with an emphasis on the development and implementation of decision aids that are to be used by extension agents, farmers, and natural resource managers. This includes responsibilities for implementing climate and weather related decision aids as part of the Georgia Automated Environmental Monitoring Network (AEMN; www.Georgiaweather.net) and linking with other web-based climate and weather information products and sites. He/ she will work with Extension Specialists, the State Climatologist, natural resource managers, and researchers in carrying out these responsibilities. He/she will be responsible for holding workshops and meet with focus groups to determine priorities for decision aids and information products, for informing clientele of the products, and for training users.

BASIC QUALIFICATIONS: A Ph.D. in one of the major disciplines related to agricultural and environmental sciences or a closely related field is required with training in weather/climate effects on agricultural systems and in the use and application of crop simulation models. Experience with the development of web-based information and decision support systems is desirable. Candidates should have demonstrated skills in verbal and written communication, interpersonal relationships, and an ability to work well with the public and with an interdisciplinary team of researchers. Candidates must be supportive of the mission of the Land-Grant system.

APPLICATION DEADLINE: Applications received by January 1, 2010 are assured of consideration.

APPLICATION: Applicants should submit electronically a letter of application, curriculum vitae, unofficial college transcripts and names of four references to [contact me if interested].

UK Government Shows Its True 'Scientific' Colors

The UK Government has been at the forefront of AGW for a long time now. All in good intent and fully based on scientific evidence, of course.

Anybody needing any further “proof” of that, look no further than the sacking today of Professor David Nutt, the UK’s chief drugs adviser and utterer yesterday of confidence-losing advice (basically, expert opinion the Government didn’t want to hear).

Prof. Nutt was head of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, “an independent(*) expert body that advises government on drug related issues in the UK.

(*) best joke of 2009

'Cold' Scientist Cool About Global Warming (Hysteria)

Glowing reviews for Bill Streever’s “Cold: Adventures in the World’s Frozen Places”, admittedly with some questioning about the book lacking somewhat in the AGW catastrophe department.

For example, Mary Roach in The New York Times:

Global warming makes an inevitable appearance, but it’s not in Streever’s nature to mount the pulpit. His usual spark is missing here. His molecules have cooled. He is a man beguiled by nature’s complexities, and he knows too much to make the simplified arguments of the Gores and the anti-Gores. “The good new is this: the planet is not warming evenly. As ocean currents change, temperate Europe may become pleasantly frigid. And the Antarctic interior, surrounded by swirling winds thought to be driven in part by the hole in the ozone layer, has cooled.” he writes. And he impishly points out that the first two scientists to write about the greenhouse effect looked forward to a warmer planet.

David Laskin in The Washington Post:

Another problem is the treatment of global warming. Streever opens with a nod at the greenhouse effect, and halfway through he curses an unseasonable mid-winter warm-up in Anchorage for ruining his cross-country skiing, but it’s not until the last few pages that he addresses the issue of climate change head on. His discussion is (predictably) adroit, pointed, clipped and alarming — but it doesn’t connect the many scattered dots that came before. “Warmth is not always a good thing,” Streever declares heatedly.

I’ll definitely look to buy or borrow “Cold“. In the meanwhile, here’s an interesting quote from the book (my emphasis):

We are in the midst of a warm spell, we are worried about global warming, but the fact remains that even in summer, whole regions remain covered with snow and ice. An area of land five times the size of Texas is in the permafrost zone, underlain by permanently frozen ground. If the mathematical predictions are right, we are at the tail end of an interglacial period, dramatically increasing its warmth with greenhouse gas emissions. But nevertheless we remain in what a geologist one hundred thousand years in the future would clearly recognize as part of the Pleistocene Ice Age.

Unimpressed By Ares 1-X

What about the Ares 1-X launch? What we have seen is the 480M$ demonstration that a Space Shuttle’s Solid Rocket Booster can fly on its own. A step towards a Moon mission dream? Methinks not.

It’d be vastly cheaper to develop just a capsule to launch on top of the Ariane-5. Or better yet, order 200+ Soyuz flights from Russia.

What is missing is a really heavy launcher, not yet another reinventing of the manned rocket.

A Quick Note About Corbyn's Solar Weather Technique Conference

Not many words out yet about WeatherAction’s “Climate Change, The Solar Weather Technique & The Future of Forecasting”, the conference organized by Piers Corbyn and hosted by the Imperial College in London on Oct 28. Amazingly, BBC’s Roger Harrabin just spoke about it during the midnight BBC Radio4 news, in rather neutral and very appropriate tones as far as I can remember (nothing has surfaced in the BBC News site as yet).

Myself, I have been able to get to the conference and back, just in time and only to hear Corbyn’s opening remarks, when he lamented the immorality of the mainstream obsession with CO2 and compared his work to longitude measurer Harrison, rejected by the scientific and political establishment for a long time despite being right and only winning acceptance by winning the acceptance and trust of users (the Royal Navy, according to Corbyn)

The AGW Debate-Challenged Game – 1- Word List

a basic lack of scientific understanding
a weak knowledge of science
amateur
arrogance
ASS afflicted pseudo-intellectual
attention-seeking
bogus claims
bogus questions
Bull
bullshit
can’t understand
cherry-picking
circular arguments
complete moron
completely wrong
compulsive behaviour
deceitful
deceitful and anti-science nonsense
deceitful personality
deep ignorance of climate science
deeply ignorant
deliberate, clearly joyfully assembled lies and frauds
denialospeak
denier
denier nonsense
denier rubbish
devious
devoid of rational discussion or actual content
discredited individual
dishonest
dishonest weasel
disinformation
disingenuous
distort
distorting information
diversionary-transference tactics
dreck
drivel
egregious epistemological error
evident self-importance
extremely pompous and patriarchal ass
extremists
facile
faux civility
flawed reasoning
fraudulent
fraudulent abuse of the real data
grandstanding
half-wit
half-witted liar
hopeless
how worthless you are
idiocy
ignorance
ignorant
incapable to learn
incompetence
incompetent
inflated ego
intellectual bankruptcy
intellectual dishonesty
intellectual masturbator
intentional stupidity
introductory course in logic
irrelevant, nonsensical computation
justify his own political beliefs
juvenile
liar
libertarian
lies
lying denying idiots
moron
nutters
obfuscate
on the payroll of ExxonMobil
opportunistic
pompous
pompous waffle
poor understanding of the science
profoundly self-absorbed and deceitful personality
profoundly self-absorbed personality
pseudo argumentation
pseudoscience crap
rabidly fanatic
scientifically illiterate
scientifically illiterate comments
selfish
selfish and immoral behaviour
self-referential
slandering scientists
sophomoric rhetorical tricks
spammed=posted a deliberately fraudulent interpretation of research conclusions repeatedly on various sites
spamming
stupid
stupidity
telling lies
troll
unwilling to learn
utter b.s.
weak intellect
weak intellect
weaselling denial
weasely
write a lot, say very little
your brand of ignorance
your fellow Deniers
your junk science political site

Green Belief Helps You Channel The Future

A Call for Entries for a European Green Capital award? No big deal, obviously.

But…a 2009 call for entries for a European Green Capital award for 2012 and 2013? We’re definitely into “Obama Peace or Rather Hope Prize” territory there.

That’s all confirmed by the award “concept“:

 

Starting in 2010, one European city will be selected as the European Green Capital of the year. The award will be given to a city that:
  • Has a consistent record of achieving high environmental standards;
  • Is committed to ongoing and ambitious goals for further environmental improvement and sustainable development;
  • Can act as a role model to inspire other cities and promote best practices to all other European cities.
The award marks a city’s wish and capability to solve environmental problems in order toboth improve the quality of life of its citizens and reduce the burden it imposes on the global environment as a whole.

Read carefully: “wish and capability to solve environmental problem“. The actual solving of environmental problems is no more than an afterthought: and so it makes perfect sense to designate winners years in advance, as if we already knew now which city will make the most effort to be environmentally friendly 3 or 4 years in the future…

 

 

Shameless Plug: Solar Panels For Europe, the Middle East and Africa

I have been contacted by the (new) Europe/Middle East/Africa representative of a Chinese company specializing in state-of-the-art solar panels. Whoever would be interested, or would know anybody interested in the field of solar panel distribution/installation , please reply in a comment to this blog with your real e-mail or phone number and will be contacted back.

Business can be conducted in English, French or Italian.

(I will not “approve” the comment unless asked to do so)

Il Papa Ai Vescovi: State Lontani Dai Dettagli Della Politica

Un messaggio molto forte e chiaro, quello di Benedetto XVI…se non fosse che i Vescovi italiani, che ne avrebbero tanto bisogno, probabilmente non saranno molto recettivi, adducendo chissa’ anche difficolta’ con la lingua inglese…

Ecco quello che ha riferito IN INGLESE l’agenzia di stampa Zenit riguardo il discorso del Papa al pranzo con i partecipanti del recente Sinodo della Chiesa Africana (mia traduzione):

IL PAPA AI VESCOVI: SIATE REALISTICI, NON TROPPO POLITICI

[...] la dimensione politica e’ anche molto reale, perche’ senza realizzazioni poltiche, queste nuove cose dello Spirito non vengono realizzate in maniera diffusa [...] la tentazione avrebbe potutto essere politicizzare il tema (del Sinodo) parlare meno del lavoro pastorale e piu’ della politica, con una competenza che non e’ nostra

[...] il giusto mezzo significa da una parte essere davvero in contatto con la realita’ )delle cose), attenti a parlare di quello che e’, e, dall’altra parte, a non cadere in (discussioni riguardo i) dettagli delle soluzioni politiche [...]

Ecco invece quello che ha riferito IN ITALIANO la stessa Zenit riguardo lo stesso discorso del Papa allo stesso pranzo con gli stessi partecipanti dello stesso Sinodo di cui sopra:

BENEDETTO XVI: IL SINODO HA FATTO UN BUON LAVORO

[...] Il tema “Riconciliazione, giustizia e pace” implica certamente una forte dimensione politica, anche se è evidente che riconciliazione, giustizia e pace non sono possibili senza una profonda purificazione del cuore [...]

la tentazione poteva essere di politicizzare il tema, di parlare meno da pastori e più da politici, con una competenza, così, che non è la nostra [...]

questa mediazione comporta, da una parte essere realmente legati alla realtà, attenti a parlare di quanto c’è, e dall’altra non cadere in soluzioni tecnicamente politiche [...]

Si potra’ dire che il discorso in italiano e’ probabilmente quello originale pronunciato dal Papa…ma allora perche’ prendersi la briga di sottolineare nell’articolo in inglese questo equilibrio della “politica episcopale si’ ma non troppa”?

Tipping Points Revisited – 2- Swedish And Depressed Planetary Boundaries

Is that a Masada I can see in Stockholm? Introducing another group of scholars interested in exploring new (and sad…very sad!) depths of environmental science: the Stockholm Resilience Center (SRC), and its scientists-authors of famous research and policy framework “Planetary Boundaries” (see also J Rockström et al., “Planetary Boundaries: Exploring the safe operating space for humanity”, Ecology and Society, In Press 14th September 2009).

SRC have identified nine Planetary Boundaries (PB):

  • Climate change
  • Ocean acidification
  • Stratospheric ozone depletion
  • Atmospheric aerosol loading
  • Biogeochemical flows: interference with P(hosphorus) and N(itrogen) cycles
  • Global freshwater use
  • Land system change (to cropland)
  • Biodiversity loss
  • Chemical pollution (eg persistent organic pollutants (POPs), plastics, endocrinedisruptors, heavy metals, and nuclear waste)

(yes there is a reason why SRC do not list then in alphabetical order)

I have several criticisms about the above (I am not alone). What “stewardship” can we provide to the planet if we consider our existence as under siege? Do Planetary Boundaries exist, and even if they do, what can they scientifically tell us about the real world? And even if they are really, mostly useful as a policy tool, is it prudent to take any decision based on them?

-1- A PLANET UNDER SIEGE, or THE MASADA MENTALITY
The “joyous and optimistic” (not my words) goal of SRC appears to be computing the limits of essential resources (essential to us, that is), in order to help better manage those same resources better.

Crucially though, those “limits” are considered “boundaries” in the sense of “thresholds”: once a certain threshold is passed, SRC say, the tipping point (“non-linear changes in the functioning of the Earth System”) starts looming. That is, passing the limits means risking “unacceptable, potentially disastrous” changes, jumping into the dark, most likely straight into a ravine.

In this respect, SRC’s all-too-desperate attempt of communicating a “message” (“The Planet is in peril! It’s all our fault!”) is just too blatant to convince the unconvinced. Consider for example the way they describe PBs in their website. From the PB homepage, aptly titled “Tipping towards the unknown”:

Within these boundaries, humanity has the flexibility to choose pathways for our future development and well-being. In essence, we are drawing the first — albeit very preliminary — map of our planet´s safe operating zones. And beyond the edges of the map, we don´t want to go

Look also at the video “Whiteboard seminar with Johan Rockström: Introducing Planetary Boundaries”. Here’s what you see Rockström drawing around 3m20s:

Going down...

Going down…

Just like that graph, every diagram invariably goes downwards. For some reason, it is taken as given that every change wll mean thing are going to worsen.

Fast forward to 8 minutes and 30 seconds:

Planetary fortress

Planetary fortress

What does that resemble, if not of a fortress on top of a mountain, as beyond the boundary everything goes sharply downhill? And there it is: Masada.

Masada (1)

Masada (1)

Masada (2)

Masada (2)

What good could ever come out of this “siege mentality” in managing the planet (no less!), I simply cannot understand.

For the record, in 73AD all 960 inhabitants of Masada “committed suicide rather than face certain capture“.

- 2- DO PLANETARY BOUNDARIES EXIST?
According to SRC, no tipping point has been reached so far. That is, simply none of the expected “non-linear” changes of state has happened. What are we talking about, one wonders? Every “unacceptable environmental change” that would “drive the Earth System[…] abruptly into states deleterious or even catastrophic to human well-being” is firmly in the future.

The PB framework is only loosely connected to reality. In fact, too many of the foundations of the PB framework are taken for granted rather than demonstrated. Are we really in the “Anthropocene”? Only if we believe so. Can we seriously link Arctic ice extent and the increase of atmospheric CO2? (more about this later). Etc etc.

And in any case…do planetary thresholds/boundaries exist?

It is true that the simplest spinning top can show what a tipping poin is. On the other hand, is there anything about the environment or any of its aspects that suggests they behave like spinning tops? That is, do we have any example where a minor perturbation has resulted in a major shift from one relatively stable status to another relatively stable status?

Say, has the temporal evolution of any environmental indicator about the now-mostly-dry Aral Sea followed a similar path to the graphs used by SRC?

Limnologist Marten Scheffer has written a whole book on the topic of tipping points in environmental and social contexts, and IMNSHO we are none the wiser, in the realm of the environment including climate. Mr Scheffer for example has “discovered” that there are more than just two stable states a lake environment can switch to, thereby invalidating the Rockström “Masada” diagrams.

- 3 – WHAT COULD PLANETARY BOUNDARIES TELL US ABOUT THE REAL WORLD?
SRC admit that they can do quantifiable work in only seven out of nine PBs. In other words, discussions of PBs for “Biodiversity loss” and “Chemical pollution” are on the threshold of being science-free.

Among the remaining seven PBs, SRC state that only in three cases they have solid data to estimate the “threshold” has been “transgressed”. In other words, even if thresholds exist, there is little indication we are near danger for “Atmospheric aerosol loading”, “Biogeochemical flows”, “Global freshwater use” and “Land system change”.

Among the remaining three “transgressed” PBs, regarding “Ocean acidification” and “Stratospheric ozone depletion” the tipping point “into states deleterious or even catastrophic to human well-being” is still far away in the future.

Finally, for Climate Change, the one remaining PB where the threshold has been (perhaps) transgressed and the tipping point (perhaps) reached, all the SRC work appears to be pivoting around a single published work:

Johannessen, O. M. Decreasing Arctic Sea Ice Mirrors Increasing CO2 on decadal Time Scale, in Atmospheric and Oceanic Science Letters, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 1 (1): 51-56 (2008)

From the abstract (my emphasis):

The author presents an empirical relation between annual sea-ice extent and global atmospheric CO2 concentrations, in which sea-ice reductions are linearly, inversely proportional to the magnitude of increase of CO2 over the last few decades

Hopefully the esteemed Johannessen will be magnanimous with whomever will state that his findings are contrary to other research, e.g. done by NASA.

Who knows, perhaps there is a case for awaiting more analysis and confirmatory studies? It is not one swallow that bringeth in summer.

- CONCLUSIONS – WHAT ARE PBs GOOD FOR?
Based on unremittingly pessimistic and undemonstrated assumptions, observation-free, with admittedly shaky foundations, and the one promising application based on a single article… would it be wise to follow SRC and base public policy on the concept of “Planetary Boundaries”?

One can expect the usual criticisms…who am I to dare critically reading some scientist’s work…

Let’s hear it from some experts then (a collection of comments is in Nature’s “Climate Feedback” blog).

These are the views of William H. Schlesinger, president of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, New York:

Thresholds are comforting for decision-makers […] But is a threshold really a good idea at all? […] Waiting to cross the threshold allows much needless environmental degradation. […] Unfortunately, policymakers face difficult decisions, and management based on thresholds, although attractive in its simplicity, allows pernicious, slow and diffuse degradation to persist nearly indefinitely […]

Schlesinger’s insight is important. The concept of “Planetary Boundaries” is written in the language policymakers will understand. On the other hand, under PB scientists and anybody caring about the environment become second-class players, in this paradoxical locking up of the study and preservation of our planet to the service of those who make “policy“.

That’s the way of the worst kind of management techniques, geared up to handle not what should be managed, rather just whatever happens to be measurable. A quick look at the proverbial efficiency and low costs of the British National Health System (NHS) will be enough to understand what can this all end up as.

Obviously, the PB concept is not unadulterated rubbish to be thrown away. Just as obviously, it is not (even remotely) the ultimate solution to our problems. My wild guess is that PB is valid and useful in two out of seven of the listed “boundaries”, but the thresholds need to be understood in terms of the range of possible scenarios (some good, some bad) that the reaching of the tipping point may bring.

And I realize that these questions do not have as much sense to most of the catastrophiliacs now, but let me ask their selves, reading this in 2029:

(1) Why were you scared silly of the future?

(2) On what logical basis did you take any possible change as something necessarily negative?

(3) Why did you fill your “scientific” thoughts of “tipping points” before having ever experienced even one of them?

(see also : Tipping Points Revisited – The Impossibility Of Action Between Rare Examples And Complex Behavior)

UK Science Museum Fails To 'PROVE IT!'

Abysmal news for AGW believers the world over from the UK Science Museum’s “PROVEIT!” site. Despite an entire day of effort, the result is still just a draw.

PROVE IT! rather grandiosely proclaims

I’ve seen the evidence. And I want the government to prove they’re serious about climate change by negotiating a strong, effective, fair deal at Copenhagen.

One can thereafter click on “Count Me In” or “Count Me Out“. The day started with around 700 IN, and 4,000 OUT.

At 10:33GMT, 3,916 IN and 4,836 OUT. Twelve hours later, it’s 10:36PM GMT, and 5,352 IN, 5,426 OUT. Even if there is nothing scientific in these onlines polls, considering also how lopsided the count was at the beginning of the day, one thing that is certain is that there are simply not enough AGW web users to counterbalance skepticism on their own

(I would not be surprised if in the long run the numbers will be higher on the AGW side…persuasion is the weapon of the AGW campaigner…)

=====

PROVE IT! claims to provide “the evidence to decide where you stand”. Does it? One has to dig a lot in the site but it appears the evidence that the climate is changing rests solely on the increase in temperature “by 0.75 °C“. And the effects that should prove the climate is changing are dubious to say the least:

Rainfall patterns are changing. After three centuries of stability, sea level is now rising. Ice in the Arctic is melting further back year on year. Extreme weather, such as droughts and hurricanes, is becoming more common or more intense. The changing weather patterns are causing plants to flower earlier in the year and species to migrate as the climate in their habitats changes

If I happen to pass by the PROVE IT! exhibition, I will think of the best ways to rectify the Science of the science Museum on the topic…

Warmist Master Of Game Theory 'Most Optimistic For the Future' (Despite Copenhagen)

A pleasant surprise in BBC Radio4′s “Start the Week” of Oct 19, 2009, with “Master of Game Theory” Prof. Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, displaying that rare combination of AGW belief and optimism for the future.

Bruce Bueno de Mesquita

Bruce Bueno de Mesquita

Shortly, Bruce Bueno de Mesquita (BBdM in the following) thinks the upcoming Copenhagen treaty won’t work and won’t matter (“will be forgotten in the twinkling of an eye“), and yet, we should be “most optimistic” about the future because “global warming [...] induces a self-solving dominant strategy” and “new wind, rain, and solar technologies will be solving the problem for us“.

===========

Start the Week” is a Monday morning broadcast (available in podcast) with Andrew Marr, one of the most experience BBC hands in politics.

Bruce Bueno de Mesquita (BBdM in the following) can be heard in the Oct 19, 2009 programme (mp3) from around the 34th minute. The climate-change bit starts around the 37th minute and this is my transcript:

Marr: Let’s look at the other other to me fascinating prediction here, which is the Copenhagen Climate Change talk, about (which) the Prime Minister (Gordon Brown) has been talking about in this country yesterday and everyone is focusing about. You say (A) it ain’t going to work and (B) oddly, that doesn’t matter very much

BBdM: Both correct. I would add a (C) that I am very cynical about politicians. We should be very disheartened by the way in which our political leaders are trying to deflect responsibility for dealing with global warming. So your Prime Minister and my President (Barack Obama) are calling for a universal global treaty at Copenhagen. Let’s take a very quick look at Kyoto. So Kyoto had 175 signatories not including the United States.

What do global treaties do? Well, if you think about self-interest, and these are self-interest (acts to co-ordinate among) nations, what you get is one of two consequences: either people sign an agreement which they will fully comply because it doesn’t ask them to change their behavior, or they will sign an agreement that does ask them to change their behavior, and the agreement will contain no mechanisms to punish them for failing.

So let’s look at Kyoto: 175 signatories, 137 were asked not to do anything…(laughter in the studio)…and they have complied (more laughter); 38 were asked to change their behavior and pretty much a lot of them, not all but a lot of them, came forward within a matter of weeks from Kyoto, the British Government did, the Japanese Government did, and so forth (saying) “We just can’t meet the standards. It’s such a pity. We would really have liked to but we just can’t do it.”. Now let’s ask ourselves: why don’t the politicians in the United States, Britain and so forth unilaterally cut back on greenhouse gas emissions if it is such a good idea? (short overlap of voices with Marr)

Marr: Very briefly, the reason (for being optimistic) is because there are market and technological solutions

BBdM: Technology will solve the problem

The last statement is understood with a short internet search. From the BBC programme’s synopsis:

Bruce Bueno de Mesquita uses game theory to foretell political, financial and even personal events in his new book Predictioneer: One Who Uses Maths, Science and the Logic of Brazen Self-interest to See and Shape the Future. Regularly consulted by the CIA and the US Department of Defence, Bruce is Professor of Politics at New York University. Predictioneer is published by The Bodley Head. Bruce is also giving a talk at the ICA on Monday 19 October at 7.00pm.

The ICA is the “Institute of Contemporary Arts” and their page about Bueno de Mesquita says:

Bruce Bueno de Mesquita is one of the world’s most respected futurologists. He is here to lecture on the perilous business of futurology and how game theory can help understand everyday dilemmas.

This is the ICA introduction to the book “Predictioneer“:

Bruce Bueno de Mesquita can predict the future. He is a master of game theory. This book explores the origins of game theory as formulated by John Nash and develops these ideas to create a rigorous and pragmatic system of calculation that enables us to think strategically about what our opponents want, how much they want it, and how they might react to our every move. [...]

The book “Predictioneer – One Who Uses Maths, Science and the Logic of Brazen Self-interest to See and Shape the Future” is available on Amazon.co.uk (published: 3 Sep 2009). On Amazon.com, where Bruce Bueno de Mesquita has its own Author’s Page, there is a Predictioneer” book by the same author but with a different cover and slightly modified title, and publishing date 29 Sep 2009: “The Predictioneer’s Game: Using the Logic of Brazen Self-Interest to See and Shape the Future“. Presumably it’s the usual story of an American and a UK edition, based on whatever the publishers think will attract the local readership (are Americans turned off by Maths and Science??).

The American edition of “Predictioneer” has Look Inside!” enabled. There are several pages dedicated to Copenhagen and they by themselves already make “Predictioneer” a worthwhile book to read. The “optimism” bit starts at page 223:

If I sound downbeat, I am sorry. Actually, I am most optimistic for the future. My optimism, however, is despite – yup, despite – agreements like the ones struck in Bali or Kyoto or Copenhagen. These will be forgotten in the twinkling of an eye. They will hardly make a dent in global warming: they could even hurt by dealying serious changes. Roadmaps like the one set out at Bali make us feel good about ourselves becuase we did something. We looked out for future generations, we promised to do good – or did we? [...] universal schemes do not put big change into motion. Their all-inclusiveness ensures that they reflect the converns of the lowest, not the highest, common denominator.

There follows an analysis similar to the one mentioned during Start the Week, until the conclusions at page 225:

So how might we solve global warming and make the world in five hundred years look attractive to our future selves? [...] New wind, rain, and solar technologies will be solving the problem for us. Climate change due to global warming will add to our supply of rain, wind and fire, and if it raises the oceans [...] then it also adds to our urge to exploit these ancirnet forcess just as their increades power makes us worry more [...]

There is an equilibrium at which enough global warming – a very modest amount more than we may already have, probably enought to be here in fifty to a hundred year [...] – will create enough additional sunshine in cold places, enough additional rain in dry places, enough additional wrind in still places, and , most important, enough additional incentives for humankind that windmills, solar panels, hudroelectriciity, asn as yet undiscovere technologies will be the good, cheap, evenly distribute, and clean meachasnisms to replace th efossil fuels we use today. Global warming, ijn other words, induces a self-solving dominant strategy [...]

“Technology will solve the problem” has traditionally been dismissed as an argument for the last 100 years or so (despite overwhelming evidence in its support). Anyway…time will tell. And Bruce Bueno de Mesquita claims a 90% success rate.

NOW On BBC World Service (Radio): The Importance Of AGW Skepticism

Just started (00:30GMT, Oct 25) on BBC World Radio: “Letter from…Clive James reflects on the importance of scepticism in every walk of life

Listen live

BBC iPlayer link

UPDATE: The programme lasted around 8 minutes.

UPDATE #2: Thanks to Alex for pointing to the programme transcript.

Very quick summary of the relevant points:

  • It is notable that on the issue of man made climate change the language used is hard to distinguish from the language used centuries ago against heresy
  • Whoever shows skepticism is called a “denialist” – a nasty word that suggests equivalence to denying the holocaust
  • In Australia somebody suggested that climate change skeptics are worse than Holocaust denialists, as this time it’s the whole human race that is at risk
  • But the Holocaust has actually happened, the destruction of the Earth by man made climate change hasn’t
  • The number of skeptical scientists in on the  increase. But Mr James claims he knows next to nothing about the subjects
  • The one thing he knows is that many of the commentators don’t know much either, since they keep saying that the science is settled. And it is not.
  • Now fewer are repeating that assertion. and their voices are raising harder, as if protecting their faith
  • Skeptics are accused not to care about the future human race. That is the opposite of the truth. Modern medicine for example raised from skepticism
  • At the end of the day, no matter what effort is put in protecting a conjecture, a theory must suit  the facts

Dieci Domande, Molte Risposte – Resoconto Del Dibattito A Oxford

Dieci domande, molte risposte
(resoconto del dibattito a Oxford – mia traduzione dell’originale in inglese di Ferdinando Giugliano)

Il convegno/dibattito sul caso de La Repubblica e sulla libertà di stampa in Italia [organizzato a Oxford il 21 ottobre 2009] ha generato considerevole attenzione e interessanti risposte.

Più di un centinaio di persone hanno partecipato al primo seminario organizzato dal Programma Axess nell’ambito del progetto “Il Giornalismo Italiano nell’Età di Silvio Berlusconi“. L’evento si è svolto nella Tayloriana Institutio a Oxford ed è stato organizzato in una collaborazione tra la rete di ricerca “Studi Italiani a Oxford” (ISO) e la Società Italiana dell’Università di Oxford.

La discussione, presieduta da John Lloyd, direttore del programma Axess, è stata iniziata dal Dr. Mark Donovan, libero docente (“Senior Lecturer”) in scienze politiche presso l’Università di Cardiff. Donovan ha delineato l’evoluzione della scena politica italiana nel corso degli ultimi quindici anni. In particolare, ha sottolineato come molti dei temi che caratterizzano l’atteggiamento degli italiani nei confronti del mondo politico, per esempio la loro scarsa fiducia nelle istituzioni, sono condivisi dai cittadini di molti altri Paesi europei. Al tempo stesso, però, Donovan ha anche sottolineato l’importanza di considerare l’Italia un Paese in transizione, cosa che lo rende molto diverso dal resto d’Europa.

Enrico Franceschini, corrispondente e capo dell’ufficio di Londra de La Repubblica, ha illustrato i motivi per cui il suo giornale ha posto domande al Primo Ministro sul suo recente comportamento. Ha inoltre detto di pensare che l’Italia è un Paese dove la libertà di stampa esiste, ma che al tempo stesso il controllo da parte del Primo Ministro sui mass-media che contano davvero (come la TV) è un problema serio, che rende l’Italia piuttosto simile alla Russia. Franceschini ha anche espresso alcune serie preoccupazioni riguardo i recenti attacchi mediatici contro coloro che hanno osato criticare Berlusconi, come il tentativo di “killeraggio” contro il giudice Mesiano.

Dopo questi due contributi, è stato il turno di Maurizio Morabito, addetto stampa della Costituente di Londra del partito di centro-destra “Popolo della Liberta’” (PdL). Morabito ha mostrato come i problemi della libertà di stampa in Italia siano certamente precedenti a Berlusconi. Uno sguardo più da vicino a quanto riportato dalla organizzazione Freedom House (che come noto ha declassato l’Italia a Paese in cui la stampa è solo parzialmente libera) mostra anche che il punteggio dell’Italia e’ solo marginalmente peggiorato durante l’era Berlusconi. Morabito ha inoltre affermato che le dieci domande de La Repubblica non sono innocenti e ha detto di pensare che le vere minacce alla libertà di stampa in Italia non riguardano Berlusconi, ma aspetti come l’influenza politica sulla RAI e le leggi sulla diffamazione.

Il professor Andrea Biondi, Segretario del Partito Democratico di Londra (PD), ha invitato a separare le diverse questioni relative a Berlusconi e a guardare ciascuna di esse singolarmente. Biondi ha riconosciuto che vi sia stata una grave mancanza da parte dell’Opposizione nel trattare il conflitto d’interessi di Berlusconi, ma ha anche sottolineato come ci dovrebbe essere un serio dibattito a livello europeo sulla questione del pluralismo in Italia.

Le presentazioni sono state seguite da un lungo dibattito, che ha fatto durare l’evento oltre due ore. Il Dottor David Hine, Docente di Politica presso l’Università di Oxford e membro del comitato direttivo ISO, ha sottolineato il fallimento dei giornalisti italiani, che non hanno permesso al pubblico italiano di capire l’importanza del ruolo di “arbitri” in una democrazia. Su questo punto si è detto d’accordoEnrico Franceschini.

Il Professor Federico Varese del Dipartimento di Criminologia ha paragonato la situazione italiana con quella russa, in particolare per quanto riguarda le angherie subite da persone che si oppongono al potere politico. Il Professor McLaughlin, Professore di italiano a Oxford e membro del comitato direttivo ISO, ha suscitato un lungo applauso quando ha chiesto perché Berlusconi non risponde alle dieci domande de La Repubblica. Maurizio Morabito ha confutato le critiche di Varese e sottolineato come Berlusconi non risponderà per il momente a La Repubblica visto che quel gesto sarebbe visto come un capitolare di fronte al nemico.

A seguire il dibattito, ci sono stati un ricevimento e una cena, tenuti nel famoso Christ Church di Oxford. In quella occasione, il Dr Hine ha dichiarato di pensare che uno dei fatti più interessanti a emergere dalla tavola rotonda sia stato il fatto che non esiste una soluzione facile al problema. Questo è certamente vero, ma continuiamo a sperare che i seminari come quello di ieri e quelli che si terranno in futuro, portino le persone un po’ più vicino a trovarne una.

(vedi anche “Straordinario Successo a Oxford per il Dibattito ‘Mezzi di Comunicazione e Democrazia in Italia’)

Straordinario Successo a Oxford per il Dibattito ‘Mezzi di Comunicazione e Democrazia in Italia’

(originariamente apparso su ItaliaChiamaItalia)

Londra – Grandissima partecipazione di pubblico il pomeriggio del 21 ottobre a Oxford, nella sala del Taylorian Institute, per il convegno/dibattito “Mezzi di comunicazione e Democrazia in Italia – Quale Liberta’? E di chi? – Berlusconi e il caso delle dieci domande di Repubblica”.

Il convegno, organizzato dal Programma “Axess” su Giornalismo e Democrazia, ha visto la partecipazione del Prof. Mark Donovan, docente di Storia della Politica Italiana all’Universita’ di Cardiff; di Enrico Franceschini, corrispondente de La Repubblica da Londra; il Prof. Andrea Biondi, segretario della sezione PD di Londra; presente anche Maurizio Morabito, corrispondente da Londra di Italiachiamaitalia.com, in qualita’ di Addetto Stampa della Costituente del PdL sempre a Londra.

In un’atmosfera di dibattito via via piu’ acceso ma mai sopra le righe, il Prof. Donovan ha illustrato la situazione politica italiana in termini anche di liberta’ di stampa con dovizia di particolari e un equilibrio fra le due parti avverse davvero fuori dal comune. Dal canto suo Franceschini ha descritto qual e’ la posizione de La Repubblica, e come secondo lui seppur l’Italia non sia una dittatura, l’attivita’ politica di Berlusconi sia diventata un impedimento per tutti.

Morabito ha quindi sottolineato come il problema della liberta’ di espressione in Italia, anche secondo quanto riportato da studi internazionali come quello di Freedom House, precede e va ben al di la’ del conflitto di interessi di Silvio Berlusconi, e se c’e’ qualcosa da cambiare sono le leggi riguardanti la diffamazione a mezzo stampa e non solo, al momento troppo restrittive. Infine il Prof. Biondi ha sottolineato l’anomalia della situazione italiana, dove il potere politico e quello mediatico periodicamente coincidono.

E’ toccato quindi agli interventi dal pubblico, in una sala gremita ai limiti della capienza da decine di persone. Fra le domande piu’ interessanti, da segnalare quelle riguardo il perche’ il giornalismo italiano non si sia mai sviluppato come “terza forza” indipendente; e perche’ Berlusconi abbia una pessima reputazione all’estero. E fra i punti di maggiore contesa, il paragone fatto da alcuni fra l’Italia e la Russia, e il perche’ Berlusconi non abbia ancora risposto alle dieci domande di Repubblica (che poi in realta’ sono venti).

A conclusione della serata, l’Axess ha offerto la cena all’interno del prestigioso Christchurch College, in un’atmosfera sempre rilassata dove l’unico punto di assoluto disaccordo ha riguardato l’eventuale danno che il comportamento del Primo Ministro starebbe o non starebbe facendo alle Istituzioni della Repubblica.

Sulla base del successo della manifestazione, verranno quasi sicuramente organizzati ulteriori incontri su temi similari.

Mastella e lo Strano Caso delle Curiose Coincidenze

(sono passati quasi due anni, e siamo punto e daccapo)

(originariamente pubblicato il 21 gennaio 2008)

10 Aprile 07: Mastella: “Con il referendum c’è la crisi di governo

16 Gennaio 08: Secondo il Calendario della Camera dei Deputati, il Ministro della Giustizia (Mastella) deve riferire sull’attività del suo dicastero.

16 Gennaio 08: Giusto quel giorno, partono gli avvisi di garanzia all’UDEUR. Dimissioni di Mastella.

16 Gennaio 08: L’ex-Presidente della Repubblica Scalfaro si chiede il motivo dell’urgenza dei provvedimenti della magistratura (il GIP, nella fretta, ha dovuto immediatamente ricusarsi).

16 Gennaio 08: La Corte Costituzionale approva il referendum. Mastella, occupato d’altro, non fa per il momento andare in crisi il governo.

21 Gennaio 08: Mastella si decide a mandare in crisi il Governo. Perche’ proprio oggi?

21 Gennaio 08: Il Cardinale Bagnasco dice che l’Italia e’ un “Paese [che] si presenta sempre più sfilacciato“. Inutile immaginarsi a chi bisognerebbe rivolgersi per rimettere le cose a posto…

Media And Democracy In Italy – What Freedom? And Whose Freedom?

PANEL DISCUSSION IN OXFORD, 21 OCTOBER 5PM

MEDIA AND DEMOCRACY IN ITALY – WHAT FREEDOM? and WHOSE FREEDOM?
Berlusconi and the case of La Repubblica’s ten questions

Taylorian Institute, Room 2
Wednesday 21st October – 5 pm

A panel discussion organised by
Italian Studies at Oxford and the Axess Programme on Journalism and Democracy
In collaboration with the Oxford Italian Society

Chair: John Lloyd
Director of the Axess Programme, Contributing Editor of the Financial
Times and Director of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism

Enrico Franceschini
London Correspondent and London Bureau Chief, La Repubblica

Dr. Daniele Albertazzi
Senior Lecturer in European Media, University of Birmingham

Maurizio Morabito
Press Secretary, Freedom Party (PdL), London Circle

Prof. Andrea Biondi
Secretary, Democratic Party (PD) London Circle

for more information, please contact: italianstudies@area.ox.ac.uk

AXESS PROGRAMME ON JOURNALISM AND DEMOCRACY

"It's Amazing How A Single New Observation Can Change An Entire Concept That Most Scientists Had Taken As True For Nearly Fifty Years"

No, the quote in the title is not from the remarkable “Cosmic pattern to UK tree growth” from the BBC

We tried to correlate the width of the rings, i.e. the growth rate, to climatological factors like temperature. [...] the relation of the rings to the solar cycle was much stronger than it was to any of the climatological factors we had looked at. We were quite hesitant at first, as solar cycles have been a controversial topic in climatology

The quote is from SpaceDaily’s “Cassini Data Help Redraw Shape Of Solar System

Models of the boundary region between the heliosphere and interstellar medium have been based on the assumption that the relative flow of the interstellar medium and its collision with the solar wind dominate the interaction. This would create a foreshortened “nose” in the direction of the solar system’s motion, and an elongated “tail” in the opposite direction.

The Ion and Neutral Camera images suggest that the solar wind’s interaction with the interstellar medium is instead more significantly controlled by particle pressure and magnetic field energy density.

And still…isn’t that the way scientific dogmas evaporate?

Di Biagio vs. The Times: le 24 ore che hanno stupito Londra

(originale uscito su ItaliaChiamaItalia: “Italiani all’estero, Di Biagio (PdL) vs. The Times: le 24 ore che hanno stupito Londra“)

(cliccare qui per una Rassegna Stampa sull’iniziativa “Protesta al Times”)

Esponenti del PdL e dell’associazione “Sicilia in Europa” hanno momentaneamente occupato una sezione di marciapiede davanti all’ingresso di News International, “casa madre” del Times.

E’ possibile organizzare con successo in ventiquattro-ore-ventiquattro una “Instant Demonstration”, una protesta con minimissimo preavviso contro l’ennesima manipolazione dell’informazione da parte di una famosa testata giornalistica, purtroppo ultimamente nota piu’ per la pletora di articoli contro l’Italia e gli Italiani che per la qualita’ dei contenuti? Si’, e’ possibile. Ed e’ il risultato della “sfida” lanciata dall’on. Aldo Di Biagio, Responsabile italiani nel mondo del PdL, ai simpatizzanti residenti a Londra (e Manchester).

L’obiettivo della “sfida” consisteva nel riuscire a consegnare una lettera di protesta contro il Times, direttamente nella sede di Virginia St./Pennington St. in un solo giorno e per una volta personalmente, in questa epoca dove la posta elettronica la fa da padrona. Personalmente, e quindi dimostrando, per il semplice fatto di esserci, quanto una questione venga ritenuta importante; anzi, personale.

Naturalmente, tutto cio’ non poteva risolversi nel semplice accelerare quanto normalmente fatto dal postino. E quindi, fra l’una del pomeriggio del giovedi’, e l’una del pomeriggio del venerdi’ quando la dimostrazione e’ cominciata, la “sfida” e’ consistita nel preparare il materiale e i comunicati necessari; allertare stampa e televisione; identificare il posto e l’ora migliore in cui dimostrare; ottenere l’autorizzazione della Polizia, e infine raccogliere un numero sufficiente di adesioni, nonostante il giorno feriale (ma non troppe, per evitare problemi, appunto, con l’autorizzazione).

Alla fine (di fronte a cinque poliziotti che forse si aspettavano qualcosa di diverso da un gruppo di persone decise ma tranquille, in giacca e cravatta) esponenti del PdL e di “Siciliani in Europa” hanno momentaneamente occupato una sezione di marciapiede davanti all’ingresso di News International, “casa madre” del Times. Sono state sventolate bandiere italiane, mostrati cartelloni di protesta e distribuiti a incuriositi giornalisti e altri lavoratori dell’informazione volantini dove veniva chiesto in maniera accorata di ridare supremazia a un giornalismo che rispecchi fatti e opinioni in maniera equa. Nel frattempo, l’on. Di Biagio, in compagnia di una troupe televisiva RAI e di un gruppo piu’ ristretto di persone, si recava poco piu’ avanti, alla Times House, per consegnare la lettera di protesta come preannunciato in una cerimonia informale e amichevole.

Difficile che al Times si aspettassero di vedere improvvisamente apparire cosi’ presto l’on. Di Biagio e altri esponenti della comunita’ italiana, quasi prima che si asciugasse lo stesso inchiostro di stampa delle infamanti accuse contro successivi Governi italiani. Certo, il Times stesso aveva causato giorni prima una protesta ufficiale da parte dell’Ambasciatore d’Italia a Londra, riguardo i commenti della testata sul Lodo Alfano. Pur tuttavia, non e’ roba di tutti i giorni neanche nella Londra delle mille nazionalita’, vedersi arrivare un agguerrito e accompagnato Parlamentare straniero, deciso a manifestare il suo “disgusto” per quanto pubblicato. Significativo in proposito il tono della risposta del Direttore Responsabile del Times, James Harding, e il suo voler sottolineare di aver preso la manifestazione “con grande serieta’”, arrivando ad augurarsi di non aver perso lettori a causa di quest’ultima polemica.

Un grande pregio dell’iniziativa dell’on. Di Biagio (mediaticamente riuscita, con spazi su varie testate giornalistiche, incluse ItaliaChiamaItalia e La Repubblica, e anche al Tg2) e’ insomma consistito nel sottolineare, con la presenza fisica, come al centro della dialettica politica internazionale ci siano in ultima analisi delle persone.

Le polemiche, infatti, continueranno. Ma chi gestisce un giornale specie cosi’ famoso, si e’ dovuto rendere per una volta conto che le sue parole possono davvero avere conseguenze anche pesanti: perche’ dall’altra parte non ci sono personaggi di fantasia, categorie dello spirito, o finanche solo Istituzioni impersonali, ma persone, in questo caso un uomo politico italiano, e gli Italiani residenti in Gran Bretagna, determinati a non subire supinamente la continua grancassa che non smette mai di tuonare contro Silvio Berlusconi, e quindi contro l’Italia tutta. Una lezione, questa per The Times, che se compresa appieno puo’ finanche cambiare le “regole del gioco”.

AGW Evidence In The Lack Of Atlantic Hurricanes

In case you missed it…the fact that the 2009 hurricane season in the Atlantic is running as one of the slowest in living memory, is evidence of…anthropogenic Global Warming!

Of course it is. Why, everybody should know by now that “global warming may spur wind shear, sap hurricanes” and that we should expect “‘fewer hurricanes’ as world warms” because “under warmer, high-CO2 conditions […[ hurricane frequency will be reduced“.

In other news: some time ago we were told that “the frequency of Atlantic storms has been rising in concert with tropical ocean temperature, probably because of global warming“.

In other other news: the only thing that appears to be able to disprove AGW would be a series of Atlantic hurricane season with zero hurricanes. But that would mean ipso facto a change in global climate, thereby once again demonstrating…AGW!

Boehmer-Christiansen: BECC Sponsor List May Show True Face Of AGW Lobby

(a note by Sonja A. Boehmer-Christiansen inspired by the news of the “Behavior, Energy and Climate Change (BECC) Conference: Nov 15-18, Washington, DC“. Published with the consent of the author)

RE: the sponsors:

Co-conveners: The 2009 Behavior, Energy and Climate Change Conference is being convened by The American Council for and Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE); the California Institute for Energy and Environment (CIEE),  University of California; and the Precourt Energy Efficiency Center (PEEC), Stanford University.

This supports my hypothesis, pushed since the early 1990s, that the most active ’villain’ in the show is the technological research lobby, found in WG III of IPCC.

You have all been discussing WG 1! WG III (the solutions/ responses people) are served by WG 1, and is the place where the governments, NGOs and ‘technologists’ meet and propose the solutions..this is now down to one thing at last, a price for carbon above what? At least $40. It is much less at the moment, but please correct if you can find out.

As a political science student pointed out to me, in politics it is not unusual to have solutions searching for, and finding a problem.

Med Journals Adopt New Disclosure Rules

Editors at leading medical journals have agreed to adopt a new standard conflict of interest disclosure form that probes deep into the financial and nonfinancial interests of published authors”. That’s the start of a blog titled “Med journals adopt disclosure rules” signed “Bob Grant” at The Scientist, based on a news item on The Wall Street Journal.

The journals involved are “The Lancet, The Journal of the American Medical Association, The New England Journal of Medicine, and The British Medical Journal”.

Alongside what should be by now standard disclosure fare “information regarding financial relationships — such as board membership, consultancy, expert testimony, honoraria and stock options — and potentially conflicting financial relationships among spouses and children under age 18”, authors are going to be asked about “’relevant nonfinancial associations’, such as political, personal, institutional, or religious affiliations that ‘a reasonable reader would want to know about in relation to the submitted work.’” (those disclosures are between author and editors, not necessarily to be made public in full. And still…).

There are already calls to extend the new rules to peer reviewers and editors.

The disclosure form was “drafted by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE)” and follows an initiative by the “Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI)”, one of whose project is aptly titled “Integrity in Science”.

More details about that initiative are available in another Bob Grant blog, “Unifying journal disclosure rules” dated July 17, 2008.

At the time, the CSPI urged “full disclosure of potentially compromising financial relationships held by authors up to three years prior to submitting a manuscript. Financial conflicts include direct employment or consultancies with private firms, travel grants or speaking fees, paid expert testimony, membership on advisory boards, pending or existing patents, and stock ownership

On the non-financial side, disclosure should include “membership in NGOs that may have a stake in a particular manuscript’s publication”.

Authors of the CSPI document, “Merrill Goozner (Director of CSPI’s Integrity in Science program), […] University of Pennsylvania bioethicists Arthur Caplan and Jonathan Moreno and the editors of three journals – the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Addiction, and the Journal of the American College of Surgeons”.

Other groups involved were the “Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), a consortium of journal editors that seek to address issues of scientific integrity in science publication”. COPE “counts all Elsevier journals as members”.

======

Will journals in other specialty areas follow? What is the opinion by COPE and CSPI about recent and past scandals in Climate Science?

Whatever Happened To The Blog Of Bloom?

Perhaps it just wasn’t meant to last. The Blog of Bloom, either The Best BBC Climate Blog…or their way of “showing impartiality”, is definitely no more.

The aura of mystery about its death at the end of July has just been slightly dissipated by Richard Black, writing in one comment to his “Biases, U-turns, and the BBC’s climate coverage” entry:

A few people including omnologos have asked what’s happened to the “blog of Bloom”. I know that the journalist who used to look after it has left – I’ll try to find out whether there are plans for it to continue

The IPCC Is Never Wrong -2- "Settled Science" Of Chinese Whispers

(for the first part, visit “The IPCC Is Never Wrong -1- Why Kevin Trenberth Is Right“)

Given that the scientifically-valid statements in the IPCC AR4 report are strictly capable to cover and include whatever outcome the Earth’s climate will compute for us, how can we find ourselves surrounded by people clamoring that, on the basis of the very same IPCC report, the “science is settled”?

“Chinese whispers”. That’s how.

The incoming strictly-orthodox and yet very open minded IPCC message is of an ongoing, complex, fascinating scientific analysis full of uncertainties that need to be investigated. Yet, at the other end of the “broken telephone” all channels are clogged by absurdist, simplistic claims of “the debate is over” (a statement that is, in a sense, the true denial).

(ironically, even RealClimate has recognized there might be a communication problem…)

Take a look for example at the magnitude of the solar forcing, again according to the IPCC. The “official value” everybody with even a remote interest keeps hearing about, is 0.12 and can be found in AR4-WG1-Chapter2 (*), page 193.

But then if you go to page 212, Table 2.11, it turns out that the “level of scientific understanding” for Solar Irradiance is “Low”, and for the component linked to cosmic UV rays is “Very low”.

And that’s not even remotely enough. All the known unknowns about the role of the Sun in shaping the Earth’s climate are clearly spelled out in Joanna D. Haigh’s “The Sun and the Earth’s climate” (**). True, that article might have been published after the official IPCC deadline. On the other hand, Dr Haig was well known at the time to the IPCC authors and reviewers, and appears four times among the References for that chapter alone.

What has happened then? Go back to page 193. The text actually reads:

The best estimate is +0.12 W m-2 (90% confidence interval: +0.06 to +0.30 W m-2)

That means that actual value can be half, or 2.5 times as much, and that’s just considering a confidence interval of 90% (“moderately confident” in statistical jargon) rather than the classic 95% (regarding which the spread between minimum and maximum possible value would have obviously been considerably wider).

And so we find the IPCC “moderately confident” about a forcing whose (1) known known components are “little to very little” understood, (2) known unknown components are not even considered despite being present in the Literature and (3) unknown unknown components… (well, “no comment” about those).

Add to that the fact that a “forcing”, like all “forcings“, is not a measurable quantity in the real world, and therefore exists strictly as an estimate. An estimate about which the IPCC is somewhat ‘schizophrenic’ to say the least.

======

And yet, all that fun is not found anywhere: instead of “low to very low understanding” about an estimate done with “moderate confidence“, what we read is how small the Solar forcing “IS”: 0.12.

Onwards and upwards, as they used to say…

(*) Forster, P., V. Ramaswamy, P. Artaxo, T. Berntsen, R. Betts, D.W. Fahey, J. Haywood, J. Lean, D.C. Lowe, G. Myhre, J. Nganga, R. Prinn, G. Raga, M. Schulz and R. Van Dorland, 2007: Changes in Atmospheric Constituents and in Radiative Forcing. In: Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Solomon, S., D. Qin, M. Manning, Z. Chen, M. Marquis, K.B. Averyt, M.Tignor and H.L. Miller (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA.

(**) Joanna D. Haigh, “The Sun and the Earth’s Climate”, Living Rev. Solar Phys. 4, (2007), 2. URL (cited on Oct 14, 2009): http://www.livingreviews.org/lrsp-2007-2

Peradventure There Shall One Be Found There – Open Letter To The Royal Society

(a guest “blog” by Rupert Wyndham; publication authorised by the author)

Lord Rees
President
The Royal Society

14 October 2009

Dear Lord Rees

Re: Briffa, Schweingruber and the Yamal tree ring data

With some surprise, it must be said, I find myself acknowledging that, within The Royal Society, there exists one individual at least who appears to be motivated by scrupulousness and a desire to work in and for the best interests of the scientific endeavour. Naturally, the identification of this honourable man does not lead to your door nor to the paths of those of your immediate predecessors, May and Houghton. King too, if he’s been a President of the RS, but that he has not, I think – well, not yet anyway.

So, who then is this rarest of paragons within the cloistered precincts of Carlton House Terrace? Is it some great and eminent scientific Titan, invested with honours and burdened with doubloons diverted in his direction by Alfred Nobel’s august and wondrous awarding committees? Nay, nay – to be sure, nothing of the sort! Rather, instead, he (or, perhaps, she) is simply an honest functionary, a self-effacing soul who, after a conscientious day’s toil, unremarked and unsung, returns of an evening to a favourite armchair in the modest but homely comfort of his bungalow in Surbiton – or would it be Penge? But anyway, but anyway – whatever his name, in the annals of authentic science, in a zeitgeist dominated and polluted by a fraudulent, self-serving counterfeit of itself, he stands out as a true blue, heart warming, life affirming paladin, does he not………in the setting of the RS, a pitch perfect, solitary clarion voice of honesty sounding clear and high above a cacophony of knaves and poltroons?

The hero in question is the Editor of the Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society, of course. And what has he done to merit such an accolade? Well, to be sure, you know as well as I, that he has stood up for, and insisted upon, observance of the time honoured protocols of scientific method – the very precepts that you personally, as well as those who work closest to you, are charged to defend. That you have signally failed to do so is the indelible stain on your own personal honour (theirs too, of course) – an old fashioned concept, but one still with some value, however, as scoundrels on the green benches in the Palace of Westminster are currently discovering to their fully warranted discomfiture.

What this excellent and worthy man has done has been to insist upon publication of the Yamal Peninsular data, hitherto denied for a decade to the wider scientific community – needless to say, contrary to one of the most basic protocols of honest scientific investigation. This has blown apart the much vaunted clutch of “hockey stick” graphs supposedly marshalled by AGW proselytisers such as yourself in support of the Mann, Bradley, Hughes fraud – heavily promoted, of course, by the Yankee snake oil salesman. At the time of writing this, it is even just possible that the RS’s counterpart lapdog at Broadcasting House has finally realised that the entire AGW construct is, scientifically speaking, no more than a monstrous inverted pyramid of dross erected on the crest of a sand dune. Mind you, where the BBC is concerned, it is prudent never to be optimistic!

In the words of the old love song, the salient question for you, of course, is:

“Where have you been all this day, my boy Billy?
Where have you been all this day?
Is it here? Is it there?
Pray tell me, is it – - anywhere?”

Yours sincerely

R.C.E. Wyndham

Cc: Prime Minister Ed Miliband MP David Cameron MP Nick Clegg MP Julia Goldsworthy MP
Lord Lawson Lord Leach Mark Thompson Sir Michael Lyons Editors – national newspapers
As the spirit moves

Don't Miss Out On The Superfreakonomic AGW Storm

The people behind best-seller Freakonomics have done their AGW outing…part of their new book “SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance” has been published on the Sunday Times under the headline “Why Everything You Think You Know About Global Warming Is Wrong” (the shock! the horror!).

Time will tell if there is anything substantial behind such a bold claim…for now, enjoy Romm’s throwing all he could against Levitt and Dubner. And on past experience, if Romm’s upset about something, then there is something substantial behind it all indeed….

UPDATE: Long commentary about Superfreakonomics by Dominic Lawson on The Independent (???)

E adesso Berlusconi e’ il Presidente del Consiglio di tutti (ma proprio tutti)

(articolo originariamente apparso su ItaliaChiamaItalia)

E’ necessario esprimere il proprio appoggio e solidarietà al Presidente Berlusconi, dopo la sentenza della Corte Costituzionale sul “Lodo Alfano” il 7 ottobre scorso? In realtà, sembra quasi superfluo. Per una serie di motivi:

(1) Tale sentenza, apparsa su tutti i giornali, spesso in prima pagina, e in tutti i canali radiotelevisivi, sia in Italia che all’estero (ha occupato il “ticker” di Sky News in Gran Bretagna per un po’ di ore), ha reso ormai il Presidente del Consiglio popolarmente noto a livello mondiale alla pari di Barack Obama, un vero e proprio “fenomeno culturale” dei nostri tempi. E vista la sua longevita’ politica (il doppio, ormai, degli otto anni max concessi all’inquilino della Casa Bianca), c’e’ da chiedersi se questi anni saranno ricordati in futuro, in tutto il mondo, davvero come “L’Eta’ di Berlusconi”.

(2) La sibillina sentenza della Corte Costituzionale (che bisogna augurarsi in futuro senta il bisogno se non la necessita’ di usare la piu’ limpida chiarezza) ha purtroppo emarginato la posizione del Presidente della Repubblica, il cui giudizio in materia costituzionale è stato duramente bocciato dalla Consulta a pochi giorni dalle accuse di “viltà” riguardo la firma sullo scudo fiscale. Tutto cio’ non puo’ che polarizzare ulteriormente lo scenario politico nazionale, a tutto vantaggio appunto del Presidente Berlusconi.

(3) Le reazioni al limite dello scandalizzato da parte di tanta stampa contro le parole di fuoco pronunciate dal Presidente del Consiglio riguardo lo “sputtanamento”, rivelano in ultima analisi sia l’incapacita’ da parte di tale stampa di ricevere invece che solo dare critiche, come se si trattasse di Lesa Maesta’ nei confronti del Quarto Potere; sia l’impegno politico che caratterizza la “linea narrativa giornalistica” piu’ alla moda dei nostri tempi, con il “mostro” Silvio cui rispondere sul piano, appunto, politico invece che professionale.

(4) Infine, nei confronti del Presidente Berlusconi si e’ levato fin dall’indomani della sentenza della Corte Costituzionale un coro di appelli affinche’ non si dimetta, anche e soprattutto dalla opposizione (persino Di Pietro si e’ rifugiato in un timidissimo richiamo strettamente “tecnico, non politico”): un comportamento che ribadisce una volta di piu’ come non ci sia alternativa alcuna all’attuale Governo.

E allora speriamo che finalmente ci si renda conto di una semplicissima verita’ di ogni democrazia liberale come quella italiana: e cioe’ di come Berlusconi sia, davvero, il Presidente di tutti (ma proprio tutti).

The IPCC Is Never Wrong -1- Why Kevin Trenberth Is Right

Thus spoke Dr Kevin E Trenberth, Head of the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in the (very welcome!) Gray/Trenberth written debate hosted by the Tea Party of Northern Colorado:

I have found that the only scientists who disagree with the IPCC report are those who have not read it and are poorly informed

Contrarily to what the most argument-challenged readers of this blog might think, I fully agree with Dr Trenberth’s statement. Only, I arrive at his same conclusion starting from a very different point of view (wonder if Morano will ever try to sing a different tune?).

==========================

I have read several chapters of the IPCC AR4 (2007) (sadly, I have not read the whole thing in full from start to end and seriously wonder if anybody ever has). Fact is, they are all written in a scientifically very valid way. As the science of climate is still full of uncertainties, then whatever the future, may it be hot, may it be cold, it will be impossible to ever find in the IPCC reports any item that may be actually considered as fundamentally wrong or misleading.

Everything is in there and its opposite, by wise [UPDATE: "wise" means "wise" in a POSITIVE way...do not mix it up with "weasel" or anything else with a bad connotation] use of words like “could”, “might” and “likely”. Even if we meet again in 2050 and global cooling is in full swing, still the IPCC reports will be, in a sense, correct. Take for example AR4-SYR-SPM (Synthesis Report, Summary for Policymakers)

page 5: Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic GHG concentrations

page 7: Continued GHG emissions at or above current rates would [note how they had so many would's to distribute, they added one too many here] cause further warming and induce many changes in the global climate system during the 21st century that would very likely be larger than those observed during the 20th century

The meaning of “very likely” is explained in the box Treatment of uncertainty” in the Introduction of the Synthesis Report (page 27):

Where uncertainty in specific outcomes is assessed using expert judgment and statistical analysis of a body of evidence (e.g. observations or model results), then the following likelihood ranges are used to express the assessed probability of occurrence: virtually certain >99%; extremely likely >95%; very likely >90%; likely >66%; more likely than not > 50%; about as likely as not 33% to 66%; unlikely <33%; very unlikely <10%; extremely unlikely <5%; exceptionally unlikely <1%.

Since “very likely” stops at 90%, it means that the IPCC experts agree that there is a 10% probability that most of observed temperature increases might not be due to “increase in anthropogenic GHG concentrations“. And that there is a 10% probability that the 21st century will not see anything larger than the 20th century has seen.

So if anything like that actually happens, well, the IPCC AR4 has already included that possibility, has it not?

Interestingly, if the IPCC work were to be presented as a scientific article, and the p-value associated to the null hypothesis (that observed temperature increases have nothing to do with increased GHG concentrations) were 0.1 or 10%, most if not all journals would deny publication.

(continues)

(Legally) Bombing The Moon

Still not much out of the LCROSS team, victims of “HYPErspace” to say the least. Let’s entertain ourselves in the intervening time with a Forbes.com article “Bombing the Moon“. And for those in a hurry:

The LCROSS mission is an important and expensive scientific experiment. Nonetheless, comments on Web sites such as Scientific American and Nature indicate that quite a few people thought the whole venture to be some sort of outer-space vandalism. Some even wondered whether NASA might have acted illegally or violated an international law or treaty by setting out to “bomb the Moon.”

The answer is no. But while many might be surprised–dismayed, even–to hear that there is such a thing as “space law,” there are treaties governing activities in outer space, including the Moon.

Berlusconi lo Sfacciato. A difesa del Primo Ministro italiano – di William Ward

(articolo originariamente apparso su ItaliaChiamaItalia)

Newsweek di questa settimana pubblica una “difesa di Berlusconi” (in inglese).

Qui di seguito, ItaliachiamaItalia vi propone la traduzione a cura di Maurizio Morabito, connazionale residente nel Regno Unito.

Fra le infinite esasperazioni da parte di commentatori stranieri, una consistente maggioranza di elettori italiani continua ad ignorare i loro rimproveri e i loro allarmi circa il Primo Ministro Silvio Berlusconi. Ma comunque bizzarre le sue dichiarazioni pubbliche, e comunque non-politicamente-corretta la sua vita privata, sulla scena politica gli italiani continuano a preferire questo coriaceo Don Giovanni di 73 anni a chiunque altro.

Strana come possa sembrare questa preferenza ad estranei, ci sono diversi motivi molto italiani per il continuo potere politico interno di Berlusconi. Per cominciare, i politici italiani hanno una lunga tradizione di nascondere agli elettori la loro vita privata e i loro subdoli accordi. Il risultato e’ che le persone raramente sanno per cosa stiano votando. Prima del 1993 (l’inizio dell’era Berlusconi) coalizioni su coalizioni continuavano a succedersi, e da allora a oggi la debolezza della sinistra ha portato ambiguità nella sua linea politica (a parte la sua opposizione a Berlusconi). Con lui, almeno, quello che vedi è quello che è. Anzi, si potrebbe dire che la sua virtù più grande sia il fatto che i suoi vizi siano così chiaramente e spudoratamente in mostra.

Mentre i suoi avversari possono disprezzare il cattivo gusto dimostrato dal personaggio pubblico che è il Primo Ministro (gli abiti sgargianti, la petulanza, gli indelicati commenti riguardo altri leader mondiali) e la sua noiosa auto-glorificazione (si e’ paragonato a Napoleone e Gesù), gli elettori italiani hanno, in tre elezioni, scelto quanto ben conoscono invece che i suoi avversari a sinistra, grigi e affaticati.

Non è solo una questione di capacità mediatica; gli italiani apprezzano anche il suo lavoro duro come politico attento al dettaglio, e come stratega elettorale. Berlusconi non solo ha reso lodevolmente chiaro il suo piano antiburocratico e favorevole al “business”, in un Paese dove non esistono Manifesti di Partito, ma ha anche messo insieme una efficace coalizione fatta da elementi disparati, a volte ostili fra di loro, nel centro-destra. Nessun altro politico conservatore ha avuto la pazienza, l’astuzia, o il carisma per fare lo stesso. E questa capacità di tenere insieme una coalizione ha dato i suoi frutti. Berlusconi è il solo Premier del dopoguerra italiano ad aver governato per una durata totale di cinque anni. Che non è solo un record, ma ha anche contribuito alla stabilità dell’Italia e alla sua coerenza.

Questo aiuta a spiegare perché, nonostante una lunga campagna estiva da parte della stampa di sinistra (che include tre dei primi quattro quotidiani d’Italia, uno dei suoi due maggiori periodici, e due dei sette canali televisivi nazionali) e volta a esporre le sue “prodezze” con ragazze squillo e stelline minorenni, secondo i sondaggi gli italiani a maggioranza hanno deciso che a loro tutto cio’ non importa, e continuano dunque a concedergli il “beneficio del dubbio”.

E consente inoltre di spiegare la persistente disponibilità degli italiani a tollerare i suoi altri difetti. Sì, Berlusconi tenta in modo grossolano e miope di mettere a tacere i suoi avversari, e di mettere in evidenza i suoi successi sui mezzi di comunicazione di massa – compresi i tre canali TV di sua proprietà, quelli di proprietà dello Stato a da lui quindi controllati come Primo Ministro, il suo quotidiano e il suo periodico. Ma in questo è solo l’erede di una ben consolidata tradizione italiana. Basta esaminare vecchie registrazioni dai canali statali RAI, quando la sinistra era al potere, per notare un comportamento molto simile.

Che dire allora delle accuse che Berlusconi abbia giocato al limite e oltre il limite della Legge quando stava costruendo il suo impero commerciale? E del suo impegno come Primo Ministro per abbreviare i termini di prescrizione dei reati e di concedere l’immunità a se stesso nei confronti di tai accuse (un tentativo spettacolarmente rovesciato dalla Corte Costituzionale) ? L’immunità in sé non era così insolita; molte altre democrazie europee la concedono ai loro leader, almeno per il periodo durante il quale sono in carica. E sì, è possibile che il Primo Ministro non abbia esattamente seguito vie strettamente legali. Ma le suoi frequenti denunce che i Magistrati in Italia (un gruppo molto politicizzato e a schiacciante maggioranza di sinistra) lo stiano perseguitando non sono del tutto irragionevoli. Qualsiasi osservatore spassionato del tempo che certi giudici-crociati dedicano a Berlusconi, e la poca attenzione che sembrano concedere ai suoi
numerosi rivali in affari, è sufficiente a convincere molti italiani che sotto sotto qualcosa di strano ci sia davvero.

E quindi gli italiani continuano a sostenere Berlusconi, che rende chiaro cosa pensa ed è lodevolmente diretto nel suo astuto modo di fare. Una figura polarizzante e divisiva non è necessariamente una cosa negativa in un Paese dove i partiti politici hanno tradizionalmente fatto i loro accordi a porte chiuse. Se i Giudici in Italia ora riuscissero a farlo dimettere, andrebbero contro almeno la metà degli elettori italiani. E una lotta costituzionale è l’ultima cosa di cui ha bisogno l’Italia in un periodo di crisi.

William Ward è un giornalista che si occupa dell’Italia dal Regno Unito, corrispondente da Londra per Panorama e Il Foglio.