Hope At Last: Scientists Retract Irreproducible Paper

Just to show that there are very good Scientists around…

Researchers are retracting a highly-cited 2004 Science paper describing a new way of adding sugars to proteins — a longstanding challenge in molecular biology — citing their inability to repeat the results and the absence of the original lab notebooks with the experiment details

AGW Belief Has Eaten My Newspaper!

(Letter sent to the International Herald Tribune)

> From: Maurizio Morabito
> To: letters@iht.com
> Cc: Subs@iht.com
> Sent: Thu, November 26, 2009 9:39:16 AM
> Subject: Missing pages in my IHT newspaper

Dear Editors

I wish to report a case of missing pages in the IHT I have received for the past couple of days.

Aa I am sure you know very well, the revelations about the ‘scientific’ practices at the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia have been causing disconcert and not just among so-called skeptics.

The internal computing code notes about a futile multi-year quest to replicate their own results looks especially worthy of a good journalistic investigation. Could it really be true, that the multi-billion-dollar climate-change bandwagon might be based on computational practices that would have made Enron’s Ken Lay proud?

That’s why I am sure you have been dedicating many pages to the topic and I have just been unlucky as those pages were not included so far in my paper.

So please send them along. I know you have published a piece by NYT’s Andy Revkin a couple of days ago. That is the same Revkin that appears to be treated as a credulous media tool in a couple of the leaked emails, so forgive me if I skip his future contributions if any (as they will be the product either of personal anger or further credulosity).

Please do not betray the trust of this longtime subscriber. I really cannot believe the naysayers claiming you have been silent on this topic because afraid of the legal implications of those emails and other documents among the leaks.

Regards

Maurizio Morabito

ClimateGate: Had It Been For AGW Believers, Enron Would Still Be In Business

Professor Trevor Davies, Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research and Knowledge Transfer of the UEA, quoted yesterday by Willis Eschenbach in a comment to his “Freedom of information, my okole…“:

The University [of East Anglia, home of the CRU] takes its responsibilities under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, Environmental Information Regulations 2004, and the Data Protection Act 1998 very seriously and has, in all cases, handled and responded to requests in accordance with its obligations under each particular piece of legislation.

Kenneth Lay answering an analyst’s question on August 14, 2001, as quoted in Wikipedia:

There are no accounting issues, no trading issues, no reserve issues, no previously unknown problem issues. I think I can honestly say that the company is probably in the strongest and best shape that it has probably ever been in.

All That's Wrong With Global Warming Advocates

(a Jul 30, 2003 blog of mine on Ecademy…not much has changed. Or has it?)

In a few words here by John Houghton, former chief executive of the British Meteorological Office

Human induced global climate change is a weapon of mass destruction at least as dangerous as nuclear, chemical or biological arms, a leading British climate scientist said Monday

Well, I refuse to join Mr Houghton and his fellow scaremongers and agitators.

Human-caused Climate Change is something big enough to be extra-ordinary enough to warrant extra-ordinary proof.

For heaven’s sake, somebody is claiming that humans can have effects over a planet-wide phenomenon. Those same humans that can’t predict earthquakes, can’t switch off a volcano, can’t change the course of ocean currents, can’t stop hurricanes, can’t make sustainable quantities of rain, can’t even generate nor control wind (of the non-intestinal variety). We have no idea of entire major waterflows in the North Atlantic, and yet somebody thinks to be able to cause (and to tell) a few degrees difference in the Earth’s climate over 50 or 100 years?

Vague threats and doom-and-gloom scenarios make little sense. Give me a break. Or give me evidence that the climate is really changing because of humans. For example by showing what is the difference between the current temperature changes and those that happened over 3 or 4 years at the end of the “little ice age” in the mid-1800s (surely those were not man-made)? Or by showing how the amount of emissions by humans can compare to the natural ones?

Or by comparing the energy used and release by humans to that involved in the Earth’s working on a daily basis? To understand the situation, I did some quick computations last year to find out that all energy ever generated by humans would rise the ocean temperature by hundredths if not thousandth (0.01 to 0.001) of a degree…ours is still a big planet indeed, tampering with it requires enormous quantities of energy and I am aware of little work done in planetary engineering.

My mind is open to explanations, and I can definitely talk to people saying “Beware the climate beast“. But I won’t listen to those that panic to claim that the world is ending tomorrow (or this century, or this millennium).

Willis vs. The CRU: A History of (FOI) Evasion

(a guest blog by Willis Eschenbach, originally posted to the Climate Sceptics mailing list. Published almost completely as-is).

An excerpt for those without time to read it all

the issue is not Trenberth or scientists talking smack. It is the illegal evasion of legitmate scientific requests for data needed to replicate a scientific study. Without replication, science cannot move forwards. And when you only give data to friends of yours, and not to people who actually might take a critical look at it, you know what you end up with? A “consensus” …

Freedom of information, my okole…
by Willis Eschenbach

People seem to be missing the real issue in the CRU emails. Gavin over at realclimate keeps distracting people by saying the issue is the scientists being nasty to each other, and what Trenberth said, and the Nature “trick”, and the like. Those are side trails. To me, the main issue is the frontal attack on the heart of science, which is transparency.

Science works by one person making a claim, and backing it up with the data and methods that they used to make the claim. Other scientists attack the work by (among other things) trying to replicate the first scientist’s work. If they can’t replicate it, it doesn’t stand. So blocking the FOIA allowed Phil Jones to claim that his temperature record (HadCRUT3) was valid science.

This is not just trivial gamesmanship, this is central to the very idea of scientific inquiry. This is an attack on the heart of science, by keeping people who disagree with you from ever checking your work and seeing if your math is correct.

Continue reading

The CRU Hacking Song (With Apologies To George And Ira Gershwin)

(And no…I am not going to leave my day job)

 

 

 

It ain’t necessarily so

It ain’t necessarily so
It ain’t necessarily so
The t’ings dat yo’ li’ble
To read in de IPCC,
It ain’t necessarily so.

Li’l CO2 was small, but oh my !
Li’l CO2 was small, but oh my !
He fought Big Solar Influence
Who lay down an’ dieth !
Li’l CO2 was small, but oh my !

Wadoo, zim bam boddle-oo,
Hoodle ah da wa da,
Scatty wah !
Oh yeah !…

Oh Phil Jones, he lived in de CRU,
Oh Phil Jones, he lived in de CRU,
Fo’ he made his home in
Dat institute’s warming.
Oh Phil Jones, he lived in de CRU.

Li’l Mann was fond of a trend.
Li’l Mann was fond of a trend.
He floated on bristlecones
Till Ol’ Briffa and colleagues,
They saved him, they said, and dat trend.

Wadoo …

Well, it ain’t necessarily so
Well, it ain’t necessarily so
Dey tells all you chillun
De skepticism’s a villun,
But it ain’t necessarily so !

To get with the Science
Don’ bet your emissions!
Live clean ! Don’ have no pollution !
Oh, I takes dat IPCC gospel
Whenever it’s pos’ble,
But wid a grain of salt.

Gavin Schmidt wrote nine hundred blogs,
Gavin Schmidt wrote nine hundred blogs,
But who calls dat writin’
When no reality will give in
To no man with nine hundred blogs ?

I’m preachin’ dis sermon to show,
It ain’t nece-ain’t nece
Ain’t nece-ain’t nece
Ain’t necessarily … so !

Raise Your Hands If You're Ready To Handle (Dishonest) Data Tampering

(comment posted at Greenfyre’s)

Greenfyre: if there is a subsequent release and it contains actual credible evidence of data tampering, I will say so

And that’s good enough for me.

After “ClimateGate” the consensus is still there, the AGW science is still there, COP15 will still take place, etc etc. What is dead is the notion that climatological alarmism is a nicely consensual necessary conclusion of an unbiased reading of the data, rather than a reasonable worldview based on observations but that might just as well be supplanted by a different one.

I just hope that in the eyes of all, “catastrophical AGW” is now a little less like “General Relativity” and a little more like “String theory”.

And even if the work of hundreds hasn’t been invalidated, still there is enough ongoing “power politics” activity at CRU (and elsewhere) to warrant a different approach to AGW skepticism. The problem is in fact not much in scientists that have an “ideology of science”, rather with scientists whose ideology involves stifling debate and censoring those who do not follow orthodoxy.

How many of those quoted would be prepared to “say so” if any “credible evidence of (dishonest) data tampering” were to surface?

R.I.P.

From an idea by the WSJ via Marc Morano:

 

Here (Lies) the consensus on a catastrophical climate change of human origin
Here (Lies) the consensus on a catastrophical climate change of human origin

The CRU…CRU…CRU…el Destiny Of Climatology

Twenty-four hours later, we can be pretty sure that of “smoking guns” in the leaked CRU documents there are none. Everyone can read that information any way they please, as evidence of a global conspiracy or demonstration that climate science is solid and honest.

Whatever…now there’s a little bit more people aware that Science is done by humans, with their preferences and dislikes, their personal beliefs, and capable to use all the tricks of “power politics” to isolate opponents and to support friends. At the end of the day, the problem is not much in scientists that have an “ideology of science”. There’s plenty of it in history, from the controversy about the wave-particle nature of light to the patriotic debates about who invented calculus.

The problem is with scientists whose ideology involves stifling debate and censoring those who do not follow orthodoxy.

Let’s just hope there will be less of that…especially because the alternative is the piling up of yet more revelations, transforming it all in some kind of “climate tabloid journalism”.

European Leaders Stun European Importance

The EU is now officially headed by an aubergine, and a turnip. It’s actually two people, really, and I am sure they are worthy of all praises, but the fact that their notoriety was strictly limited to local phone directories and the immediate family suggests that 27 European leaders can only agree on names nobody will ever be satisfied with (and never mind they look like Gary Larson’s characters too).

The end result will be two-and-a-half years in which hundreds of millions of European will be represented on the world stage literally by Nobody. Could anybody please tell me who is ever going to listen to “Nobody”?

Expect 30 months of European daze.

Congratulations to all those not selected, as it indicates they were candidates of some importance. And please do keep the President of the EU away from the President of the USA, as in terms of charisma they are the respective antiparticle. If they’ll just shake their hands, they’ll annihilate!

A New Maximum For Climate Hubris

What should one wisely think upon discovering that 200-year-old remarks sound as if uttered today?

  • within the last 40 or 50 years there has been a very great observable change of climate
  • a change in our climate … is taking place very sensibly
  • men are led into numberless errors by drawing general conclusions from particular facts

Why, one might start considering the possibility that a lot of the climate debate is as relevant and as important today as a discussion about the relaxation of costumes, the good old days and the decline in University exam standards (=something more or less in the news since the times of Cato the Censor some 23 centuries ago).

But of course…no, now it is different! Now “we have satellites monitoring high-latitude snow cover, thinning sea ice and deep-layered atmospheric temperature increases, coupled with ground observations revealing the disappearing snows of Kilimanjaro (85 percent ice loss since 1912) and many other glaciers“.

In its modern usage, hubris denotes overconfident pride and arrogance; it is often associated with a lack of humility, not always with the lack of knowledge

Incontro in Ambasciata A Londra Per i Senatori Quagliariello E Casoli (PdL) il 17 Novembre

I Senatori si sono dimostrati particolarmente interessati a comprendere sia i meccanismi interni della politica britannica, sia il modo in cui i mass-media locali si pongono da intermediari fra il Governo e l’opinione pubblica

Cliccare qui per leggere il resto del mio articolo su ItaliaChiamaItalia.

Dear Tom Friedman, Please Look At The Forest Instead Of The Trees

In “What They Really Believe” (NYT, Nov 17), Tom Friedman states (before the usual tirade against “willfully blind” non-believers in global warming):

if you follow the debate around the energy/climate bills working through Congress you will notice that the drill-baby-drill opponents of this legislation are now making two claims. One is that the globe has been cooling lately, not warming, and the other is that America simply can’t afford any kind of cap-and-trade/carbon tax

I am afraid Mr Friedman is missing the most important point.

If you follow the debate around the energy/climate bills working through Congress, and what has already come out of it in the House of Representatives, you will not find anything remotely like the “serious energy/climate bill” global warming advocates such as Mr Friedman are opining for.

Surely not even “green hawks” believe that the pork-laden 1,400-pages of the “American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009″ (aka “Waxman-Markey”) will bring anything practical about climate change? Unless, that is, one is talking about “green hawks” that are “willfully blind“, and (literally) “hurting America’s future to boot“.

The BBC 'Catastrophical AGW' All-Out Assault Has Started!

COP15 is three weeks away, and as expected things are getting hotter by the minute in AGW media outlets such as the BBC.

Just a quick look at Nov 17: in the Science & Environment home page, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten stories with a single focus.

Then incredibly in the “Scotland” pages an article and a video, part of a “three part special” filmed…in Thailand! Including what is likely to be the silliest ever report ending: “Fiona Walker, reporting Scotland, in the Gulf of Thailand

(alas, they could kid themselves only up to a point: the “three part special” is classified under “Scotland politics” and Ms Walker clearly introduced as “BBC Scotland’s social affairs reporter“).

It is going to get worse before it gets better.

Christofides and Mamassis (Koutsoyannis) Against AGW

Two of Koutsoyannis’ co-authors (here and here) have contacted me today providing a link to their HK Climate website, designed the old-fashioned way with a Start page and an Epilogue (and About).

The two Koutsoyannis et al.’s are of course the papers arguing that climate models “won’t reproduce the local climate” and any “statement that the predictions would work at [a] longer distance scales is unsupported” (in the words of Luboš).

HK Climate has definitely been written for non-specialists. A couple of quotes:

  • (from the Start page) “we maintain that there is no reason whatsoever to worry about man-made climate change, because there is no evidence whatsoever that such a thing is happening
  • (from the Epilogue page) “Climate is equally uncertain at all zoom levels. In fact, mathematical analysis of the climate indicates that its behaviour is such that the uncertainty is the maximum possible at all zoom levels. This maximisation of uncertainty at all scales is called the Hurst-Kolmogorov behaviour of climatic processes. Nature loves uncertainty, and it fools us in two ways: on the one hand we wouldn’t be able to predict the future of climate, even if we fully knew the natural laws that govern it, because of chaos; and on the other hand, we can’t be very certain of the statistically expected behaviour of climate which is based on our observations of the past, because of the Hurst-Kolmogorov behaviour.”

Sheer Sobriety And Seriousness Are Needed For Climate Fix

In his quest to find how to ‘change any minds‘ about the need for a ‘climate fix‘, Tom Zeller Jr repeats the tired mantras of climate campaigners such as former US Vice president Al Gore (‘Sheer will is needed for climate fix‘, NYT, Nov 16, 2009), including an alleged lack of ‘capacity to respond quickly‘ to dangers that are not ‘tangible in the here and now‘, and the general inability to pass laws anywhere on a carbon tax.

I have a more profane explanation.

Precisely because ‘virtually every Pavlovian trigger discovered in the human brain is now pulled by advertisers‘ (in the words of Mr Gore), people have grown smarter and more skeptical to concocted gimmicks such as those incredibly mentioned by Mr Zeller, i.e. the cat video with fake subtitles and the Maldives Government’s antics scuba-diving in the latest gear to submerged desks (one hopes they found a way for the manufacturers to pay for the publicity).

The cause for a serious analysis and management of climate change is further undermined by the constant barrage of absurdly bad news, once again taking up a prominent space in Mr Zeller’s article: climate change causing mental health problems, women faring worse than men, golf participation plummeting. Who in their right mind could ever believe that everything and anything will be negatively affected by climate change?

The desire of too many to rethorically batter the general public into climate submission by including evermore far-fetched and scary statements however flimsy the evidence and surreal the claim, can only harden the public’s resistance to do anything at all, not just about purported disasters of the year 2100 but also concerning those of 2010.

Unless and until the likes of Mr Zeller, let alone the average climate crusader, get such a simple point, I am afraid it is going to be plenty of fruitless talking, grand posturing and ridiculous feline videos for a long long time. And minds will keep changing, yes, but in the sense of turning away from climate action.

Dr Who Doesn't Believe In Climate Change

Dr Who doesn’t believe in climate change…at least, that’s what is apparent from this picture of somewhere in the UK (presumably, London), dated Nov 21, 2059:

Dr Who: Nov 21, 2059
Dr Who: Nov 21, 2059

(yes I was beaten to this)

The latest Dr Who episode “The Waters of Mars” is unlikely to be available outside of the UK, so I won’t provide any detail about the circumstances of the above 8-)

Notably, Dr Who’s resurrecter Russel T Davies is mentioned in a March 2008 Daily Mail article as having said that “the only plot he would avoid was the environment because he could not give audiences a happy ending“. But having watched every one of this century’s episodes, I really cannot recall any meaningful (non-playful) reference to global warming or climate change.

Notably, according to “an exclusive-to-Internet Doctor Who short story that was published on the BBC website as part of the 2007 Doctor Who Advent Calendar” and probably read by very few, “by the 52nd century, winters never occurred due to global warming” . But humour is never far away, with lines such as “What’s your warp footprint, Doctor?

Climate Or Weather? Spot The Difference!

A decade of red wines?We’ve benefited from global warming

Seven years of “massive losses” caused by “parasitical insects? “The latest example of how climate change is dramatically altering the American West

Global temperature still lower than the 1998 maximum? “Chaotic year-to year-variability

'Climate Swap'…Coming Soon To Your TV?

Inspired by Connolley’s 5-fold “oh dear”, about Gavin’s and Roger Jr.‘s mutual displays of affection:

Climate Swap“: Two groups of academicians, usually holding vastly different stances on AGW, swap professors/students (and sometimes janitors) for two weeks. In fact, the programme will usually deliberately swap scholars with extreme, polar opposite AGW opinions, such as a dramatically catastrophist Nature-published author swapping with a fastidiously no-anthropogenic-warming-at-all GRL-published one. Despite using a phrase from the swinging lifestyle, professors participating in the show do not share a bed with the “swapped” scholar while “swapping” AGW belief.

'Changing Climate…Changing People' Hollywood Conference Videos

Changing Climate…Changing People

On November 18, 2008, Population Media Center conducted a daylong summit called Changing Climate…Changing People. The summit was held in partnership with the Writers Guild of America West, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, Women in Film and the Environmental Media Association. The summit gave attention to the health and security consequences of climate change and the role that population growth plays in accelerating the climate crisis. Writers and producers of numerous American television shows attended the Summit.

Number-Crunched Avaaz.org Shows The Hidden Meaning Of Pledges

Interesting findings in Avaaz’s website:

END THE HUNGER SCANDAL: […] some wealthy countries are threatening to renege on a new $20 billion pledge made earlier this year to boost agriculture in the poorest countries […]

FROM HERE TO A GLOBAL TREATY: […] Developed countries need to put money on the table. How much? According to the Climate Action Network International policy paper, $150 billion per year, additional to existing aid, and raised from auction allowances. The European Commission Communication on Climate Financing is talking on a similar scale at least, calling for €50 billion annually by 2020 […]

Would anybody now please stand up and tell the world they believe it will be any easier to extract billions of dollars from “Developed countries” in 2020 than it is now?

UK Government: Met Office Source Code 'Available For External Use'

As one of the signatories of the epetition on “CRU Source codes” I just received the following message:

—– Forwarded Message —-
From: 10 Downing Street
To: e-petition signatories
Sent: Tue, November 10, 2009 4:18:55 PM
Subject: Government response to petition ‘CRUSourceCodes’

You signed a petition asking the Prime Minister to “Force the Climate Research Unit, or other publicly funded organisations to release the source codes used in their computer models.”

The Prime Minister’s Office has responded to that petition and you can view it here:

http://www.number10.gov.uk/Page21266

Prime Minister’s Office

Petition information – http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/CRUSourceCodes/

And this is the text from that page 21266 (my emphasis):

The Government is strongly committed to the principles of freedom of information, and the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 specifically implement our international obligations over access to environmental information. The Met Office’s commitment to openness and transparency in the conduct of their operations and to the sharing of information is set out clearly on their website (http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/corporate/legal/foi.html).

Simple and transparent licences are in place to facilitate the re-use of the Met Office’s meteorological and climate data, and large quantities are freely available for academic and personal use, for example through the UK Climate Impacts Programme and the British Atmospheric Data Centre.

The Met Office’s climate models are configurations based on the Unified Model (UM), the numerical modelling system developed and used by the Met Office to produce all their weather forecasts and climate predictions.

You may be interested to know that the UM, including source code, is available for external use under licence. For general research, the licence is free; the Met Office just asks individuals to submit an abstract describing the research to be undertaken, and to provide an annual report describing the work undertaken, the results achieved and future work plans.

To improve access to their climate models, the Met Office has worked with Reading and Bristol Universities and NERC to develop a low-resolution version which can be run on a PC and is available to all UM licence holders.

Further Information on how to apply for a research licence can be found on the Met Office website.

(http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/science/creating/working_together/um_collaboration.html)

CO2 Obsession Takes Over NASA('s Press Releases)

With the most classical of globalwarmist sleight-of-hand, a Nov 6 press release by NASA titled “A Tale of Planetary Woe” surreptitiously changed the focus of MAVEN, a whole new mission to Mars scheduled to reach the planet in 2014.

Look at the following words:

Why did Mars dry up and freeze over? […] One way or another, scientists believe, Mars must have lost its most precious asset: its thick atmosphere of carbon dioxide. CO2 in Mars’s atmosphere is a greenhouse gas, just as it is in our own atmosphere. A thick blanket of CO2 and other greenhouse gases would have provided the warmer temperatures and greater atmospheric pressure required to keep liquid water from freezing solid or boiling away.

My first reaction was a “Wow!” followed by “Finally a CO2 mission by NASA!” (yes, the greenhouse effect has so far been singularly of absolute disinterest for planetary scientists, for some reason).

Alas, the feeling didn’t survive a quick investigation about MAVEN…

For example, from the MAVEN Fact Sheet, “Science Objectives”:

Determine the role that loss of volatiles from the Mars atmosphere ot space has played through time, allowing us to understand the histories of Mars’ atmosphere and climate, liquid water, and planetary habitability

No mention of CO2 or of blankets. And no mention of them in the MAVEN mission page either:

Mars once had a denser atmosphere that supported the presence of liquid water on the surface. As part of a dramatic climate change, most of the Martian atmosphere was lost. MAVEN will make definitive scientific measurements of present-day atmospheric loss that will offer clues about the planet’s history.

The Principal Investigator for MAVEN is renowned Mars expert Dr Bruce M Jakosky of the University of Colorado (can be seen in a video at this page). I haven’t been able to find anything abour Dr Jakosky showing any specific interest in an ancient thick atmosphere of carbon dioxidewith or without greenhouse warming characteristics.

Given also the amount of time needed to put together a space mission, and the various review stages any proposal has to go through, we can safely consider any newly-found CO2 focus for MAVEN as an artifact introduced by whomever decided the gist of the Nov 6 NASA press release.

And luckily so: there is very little we know about the Martian atmosphere, hence any undue assumption such as obsessing with CO2 as a greenhouse gas would risk making us miss out important observations.

Skeptical About ‘The message From The Streets Of Tehran’

Nazenin Ansati and Jonathan Paris claim that “many in the [Iranian] Green Movement […] would like to see the international community exert pressure on the regime through a progressive set of smart, vigorous and targeted sanctions and more forceful advocacy of human rights” (“The message from the streets of Tehran“, IHT, Nov 7).

But haven’t “targeted sanctions” against the Iranian regime and a seemingly perennial “advocacy of human rights” been in place for decades? And what would any Iranian internal opposition movement ever gain from associating itself with foreign Powers, given the anti-Western-Governments paranoia widespread among the ruling classes, and the evidence of History suggesting that foreign intervention in Iran has invariably been for the worst?

Global Warming Obsession Takes Over BBC Religious Programme

Letter sent to “Sunday: Religious News“, the BBC Radio4 weekly broadcast.

(see also: “At The BBC, Not Even Religious Programmes Are Sacred“, July 9, 2009)

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

From: Maurizio Morabito
To: Sunday: Religious News” at the BBC
Date: 8 Nov 2009
Subject: About your obsession with global warming

Dear Roger Bolton, Jane Little and all at the “Sunday: Religious News” programme

Your obsession with global warming is starting to worry this long-time listener of yours.

In the first “incident” of 5 July the topic of “Global Warming” took over 27% of what is presumed to be 45 minutes dedicated to “the religious and ethical news of the week“. On 1 November, that number went up to 29%. Today 8 November, Global Warming occupied almost 44% of your programme.

(actual statistics for Global Warming time on “Sunday”: 5 July: 11m47s in two tranches; 1 Nov: 12m45s; 8 Nov: 18m56s)

By the look of it, by the time of the broadcast on the eve of the 7 December United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, you will have renamed the programme to “Sunday: Global Warming News” and drone on and on about it for more than 100 minutes.

Is that truly the right away to deal with the richness of contemporary religious discourses?

You might reply that Global Warming has recently become part of that discourse, with the build-up to the Windsor oecumenical gathering on Tuesday 3 November. Still, does that justify allocating 5m8s on 1 November to a long interview/monologue with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon? Especially after having provided 5m27s to the UN Assistant Secretary General on 5 July.

In both cases, their interest to World Religions as mere tools to convince people to act on Global Warming was as apparent as bordering on the disrespectful. One cannot fail to think they’d just as easily go to footballers and X-Factor winners and runners-up if that could serve their goals (somebody please check, that might have already happened!).

Today’s (8 Nov) programme took the biscuit. The entire second half, a whole 18m56s out of 43m44s (as per the podcast) was about nothing else but…Global Warming! Now, would anybody seriously think that there was truly nothing else to report about, in matters of “religious and ethical news“, so that you really had to dedicate to a single topic a grand total of 31m44s across two weeks?

Have you ever allocated anything of that size to any other topic, one wonders? And did you really have to miss the opportunity to review for example the present state of major and minor Religions in the former Communist States of Eastern Europe, when the XX anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall is tomorrow 9 Nov?

I have no reason to doubt your genuine interest in Global Warming. So let me suggest a way out of the present situation. A few days ago, Justice Michael Burton has put the “belief in man-made climate change” under the religious/belief radar. Why, you can now in all honesty report about Globalwarmists alongside your news items and discussions about Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Jews, Sikhs and all other beliefs of interest.

Who knows…after such a choice, your audience size might even increase, as there’s plenty of people that can fall under the “Globalwarmism” category: indeed, and ironically, most of Globalwarmists I know, they declare themselves atheists.

Doesn’t that suggest a tantalising reason for the popularity of Global Warming scare stories among the intellectual classes?

Now, that’d be a great topic to see analysed in “Sunday”!

Best regards

maurizio morabito

Lonnie G. Thompson's Kilimanjaro Fallacies

Is the Kilimanjaro losing ice because of man-made global warming? Now, that would be a challenging thing to properly demonstrate (never mind it would run against the gist of the IPCC work for example, where no particular weather-related occurrence can be attributed to “Global Warming”, let alone of the anthropogenic variety).

Little wonder then if scientists publishing a study “Glacier loss on Kilimanjaro continues unabated” have “reached no consensus on whether the melting could be attributed mainly to humanity’s role in warming the global climate“.

Regardless…step forward lead author Lonnie G. Thompson, concluding “that the melting of recent years is unique” (in the sense of unseen for “over the last 11,700 years“). And how does he know that AGW got anything to do with it?

Dr. Thompson emphasized that the melting of ice atop Mount Kilimanjaro was paralleled by retreats in ice fields elsewhere in Africa as well as in South America, Indonesia and the Himalayas. “It’s when you put those together that the evidence becomes very compelling,” he said.

This quote from somebody that has just published an article containing the following texts:

  • An energy balance study (7) concluded that mass loss from the upper (horizontal) surfaces of the ice fields has been dominated by sublimation although there is physical evidence of melting as well
  • The limited satellite observations have yet to confirm any unambiguous trend toward drier atmospheric conditions (1979–1995) and the lack of radiosonde observations over less-developed countries has limited the accuracy of tropical water vapor trends
  • Over recent decades there has been a continual transformation of the landscape surrounding Kilimanjaro into agricultural land, thus, unraveling large-scale climate forcing from regional forcing caused in part by landscape changes is difficult.

Oh well.

Let’s have a look at how many logical fallacies can be found in statements like the below:

Regardless of the relative importance of the multiple drivers responsible for the loss of Kilimanjaro’s summit ice fields, [the] widespread glacier mass loss, shrinkage, and retreat at high elevations (>5,000 m above sea level) in lower latitudes (30° N to 30° S), particularly in the thermally homogeneous tropics, suggests the likelihood of an underlying common driver on which more localized factors such as changes in land use, precipitation, cloudiness, and humidity are superimposed.

This is my list so far:

I am sure there’s more.

As every hammer knows, the world is made of nails…

Don't Be Fooled By Another Non-Climate Satellite

The SMOS satellite is flying, and it will provide data for around three years. A “probe tracking global warming impact on water“? Not by a long shot (what are three years for climate??).

Remember to always read it all and carefully so.

Scientists rely heavily on computer models to project weather and climate patterns, and the additional data will make predictions more accurate.

SMOS “has long been awaited by climatologists who try to predict the long-term effects of today’s climate change,” said ESA’s director of Earth observations programme Volker Liebig in a communique. “The data collected will complement measurements already performed on the ground and at sea.”

As sadly usual, in climatology observations are subservient to models, rather than the other way around…

What Ever Remains Of Joe Romm?

Earlier today I posted a comment at Stoat’s “Oh no! More snarking” blog. Little I imagined how quickly the situation would evolve in the expected direction.

This is my first comment (#14):

People defending Romm (and I don’t mean the way Connolley has mentioned the Caldeira miquote “incident”) remind me of that old saying, “He May Be a Bastard, But He’s Our Bastard“.

I have stopped reading Romm long ago when I realized his only goal is to preach to the converted. I might be missing “much on the political aspect of AGW or on the solutions” but then it is a fact that it is very hard to understand when Romm is right and when he is wrong, given that all critical replies have to be searched via Google (this is a problem on RC as well). And to anybody with Usenet 1990’s experience, vitriolic attacks must surely appear supremely boring.

I don’t mind if people want to become the Pope of AGW but given the size of the climate problem, I just do not see how any “useful truth” can be produced by somebody’s utter unhelpfulness in bringing people together rather than split them in “144k vs the damned”.

What can be in Romm’s future, in fact, if not more occasions to “overreach” against more and more people, as soon as they will say anything not of his liking. Just wait…one of this days, it will happen to Connolley too.

And so it is just a matter of time before Romm will only be talking to himself.

And there we went in fact. Romm intervened (#26) in what quickly became a disaster, as pointed out by Connolley in his inline replies.

Basically, Romm has been caught providing “out-of-context quotes“, so much so “that no-one is going to trust [him] any more” (presumably Connolley just referred to not trusting Romm any more about quoting, but there’s little preventing one from expanding the lack of trust to whatever topic about which Romm over-reacts)

Romm has also been found wrong about a remark by Keith Kloor, and invited to stay quiet rather than being impolite. So as somebody keeps claiming, Romm is still “not a liar” but it looks like the only thing saving Romm’s (AGW) soul at this point is his “substance“.

Good luck with that!

GlobeScan's Survey Of Climate Change Decision Makers 2009

Just received via e-mail:

Dear Colleague,

The fifteenth UN Conference of Parties will take place in Copenhagen in one month. To ensure that the opinions of professionals who work in climate change related fields are voiced prior to the summit, GlobeScan is seeking your participation in a short online survey. The influential survey results will be publicly released just before COP15 begins.

Please click here to go immediately to the survey page.

This new survey is the third in the Climate Change Decision Maker Survey program that began in 2007 as a collaboration between GlobeScan and many other organizations, including UNEP, the World Bank, the World Conservation Union (IUCN), and the International Development Research Centre.

In return for 15 minutes of your valuable time, we will send you a summary of the results of what your peers have to say about climate-related topics. We will also widely publicize the results in order to inform views and influence actions across sectors and geographies prior to the Copenhagen COP this December. Please note that this survey is different from the others you may have been invited to complete recently.

Please visit http://surveys.globescan.com/cdms09 to access this new survey. The survey will remain open for the next two weeks.

As always, we encourage your participation in this important initiative and are grateful for the opinions you provide. We remind you that we will only publish aggregated information, not individual responses.

'How Bold Predictions Hurt Science'

UPDATE: Read also Richard Gallagher’s “Authors of our own misfortune

How many expert assurances or warnings must turn out to be conspicuously wrong for the authority of science and scientists to be diminished?“: that’s the ominous conclusion of a beautifully no-holds-barred article today:

Promises, Promises – Ill-judged predictions and projections can be embarrassing at best and, at worst, damaging to the authority of science and science policy. by Stuart Blackman – The Scientist, Vol 23, Issue 11, Page 28

The article is full of interesting quotes. Excerpts:

  • It doesn’t take anything so extreme as scientific fraud to scupper what may have seemed, at the time, to be a well-grounded scientific prediction. At its most enthusiastic, science has always been prone to promise rather more, and sooner, than it has managed to deliver
  • Scientists have a strong incentive to make bold predictions—namely, to obtain funding, influence, and high-profile publications. But […] unfulfilled predictions […] can be a blow for patients, policy makers, and for the reputation of science itself
  • [The 1995 Varmus NIH expert panel concluded that] ‘overzealous representation of clinical gene therapy has [led to] misrepresentation [that] threatens confidence in the field and will inevitably lead to disappointment in both medical and lay communities
  • says Brian Wynne, professor of science studies at Lancaster University, UK. ‘Every research proposal these days […] has got to include an [impact]  statement […] basically requiring scientists to make promises, and to exaggerate those promises.
  • As British fertility expert Robert Winston told the BBC in 2005: ‘We tend often to really have rather too much overconfidence. We may exaggerate, simply because […] we need support […] We can go about persuading people a bit too vigorously sometimes.
  • Predictions can also create a sense of haste and urgency that can impede cool, calm reflection on how to proceed at the policy level. [Nik Brown, co-director of the Science and Technology Studies Unit, University of York, UK] says it can create a pressure to legislate before experts properly understand a new research path and its potential.
  • Research [by Joan Haran, Cesagen Research Fellow at Cardiff University, UK shows that] ‘Because of the high esteem in which scientists are held, it becomes very hard to mount a critique of their promises,‘ […] Scientists defending their corner is understandable, says Haran, but it should be recognized that it can be at the expense of healthy skepticism.
  • Predictions can also create a sense of haste and urgency that can impede cool, calm reflection on how to proceed at the policy level. [Brown] says it can create a pressure to legislate before experts properly understand a new research path and its potential. [Sociologist Christine Hauskeller, Senior Research Fellow at the ESRC Centre for Genomics in Society, University of Exeter, UK adds that] this is not only a waste of financial and legal resources […] but it serves to narrow social and scientific possibilities
  • Hilary Rose [professor emerita of the sociology of science at the University of Bradford, UK and Gresham College London] believes that an overemphasis on certain research trajectories, and overoptimistic expectations of what they can deliver, can obscure political and social solutions to problems

Parts of the article are specific to climate science.

The last line in a “Some famous (and infamous) predictions” table classifies as “Right or Wrong? PENDING” this 2007 “prediction

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 4th Assessment Report projects that global surface air temperatures will increase by between 1.1 and 6.4°C over preindustrial levels by the end of the century

A speech at the Copenhagen Climate Conference of February 2009 by the then Danish Prime Minister is mentioned as example of “politicians [trying to] ‘fob off responsibility to scientists’

[Don’t] provide us with too many moving targets, because it is already a very, very complicated process,‘ he said. ‘I need fixed targets and certain figures, and not too many considerations on uncertainty and risk and things like that.‘ Such demands, says [Dan Sarewitz, director of the Consortium for Science, Policy, and Outcomes at Arizona State University], can tempt scientists into providing simplistic and unqualified extrapolations from the current state of knowledge to possible future scenarios.

Is it time to design guidelines to “predict responsibly” then? These are Blackman’s suggestions:

  1. Avoid simple timelines: “try to communicate the complexities of the process rather than make a specific prediction”
  2. Learn from history: “heed the lessons of past predictions and promises”
  3. State the caveats: “inform the public also of the current limitations”
  4. Remember what you don’t know: “scientists know a lot less about technology and innovation and political context”