Pointy-haired Climate Modeling (feat. Bonus Vintage Fred Pearce)

From Real Climate’s “FAQ on climate models“:

Multi-model Ensemble – a set of simulations from multiple models. Surprisingly, an average over these simulations gives a better match to climatological observations than any single model

And here’s the Dilbert strip of May 7, 2008:

Dilbert.com

Of course.

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

Here’s another attempt at linking Dilbert to the climate change debate. And of course Scott Adams is not exactly your average RC fan.

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

And now for the “Bonus Vintage Fred Pearce”, from a May 16, 2007 New Scientist article linked by Adams and penned by…Fred Pearce: “Climate myths: We can’t trust computer models

Finally, the claim is sometimes made that if computer models were any good, people would be using them to predict the stock market. Well, they are!

A lot of trading in the financial markets is already carried out by computers. Many base their decisions on fairly simple algorithms designed to exploit tiny profit margins, but others rely on more sophisticated long-term models.

Major financial institutions are investing huge amounts in automated trading systems, the proportion of trading carried out by computers is growing rapidly and a few individuals have made a fortune from them. The smart money is being bet on computer models.

Smart money indeed.

Support Judith Curry As Head Of (Reformed) IPCC

A veritable goldmine of quotes, and surely the best hope for the progress of science this side of Murray Gell-Mann. Let’s celebrate this essay by Georgia Tech’s Judith Curry: “On the Credibility of Climate Research, Part II: Towards Rebuilding Trust“.

I have a strong feeling that anybody else selected to carry forward the (reformed) IPCC will look far lesser capable than Prof Curry.

(Pachauri who?)

Some extracts:

Losing the Public’s Trust

  • In responding to climategate, the climate research establishment has appealed to its own authority and failed to understand that climategate is primarily a crisis of trust.
  • expertise itself is not a sufficient basis for public trust.
  • host of concerns about the IPCC […]: involvement of IPCC scientists in explicit climate policy advocacy; tribalism that excluded skeptics; hubris of scientists with regards to a noble (Nobel) cause; alarmism; and inadequate attention to the statistics of uncertainty and the complexity of alternative interpretations.
  • The jury is still out on the specific fallout from climategate in terms of the historical and paleo temperature records.
  • concerns […] with Working Group II:  has a combination of groupthink, political advocacy and a noble cause syndrome stifled scientific debate, slowed down scientific progress and corrupted the assessment process?
  • when your science receives this kind of attention, it means that the science is really important to the public.  Therefore scientists need to do everything possible to make sure that they effectively communicate uncertainty, risk, probability and complexity, and provide a context that includes alternative and competing scientific viewpoints.

The Changing Nature of Skepticism about Global Warming

  • I have come to understand that global warming skepticism is very different now than it was five years ago.
  • [After the IPCC 4th Assessment Report] big oil funding for contrary views mostly dried up and the mainstream media supported the IPCC consensus. But there was a new movement in the blogosphere, which I refer to as the “climate auditors”, started by Steve McIntyre.  The climate change establishment failed to understand this changing dynamic, and continued to blame skepticism on the denial machine funded by big oil.

Climate Auditors and the Blogosphere

  • So who are the climate auditors?  They are technically educated people, mostly outside of academia.  Several individuals have developed substantial expertise in aspects of climate science, although they mainly audit rather than produce original scientific research. They tend to be watchdogs rather than deniers; many of them classify themselves as “lukewarmers”. They are independent of oil industry influence.  They have found a collective voice in the blogosphere and their posts are often picked up by the mainstream media. They are demanding greater accountability and transparency of climate research and assessment reports.
  • So how did this group of bloggers succeed in bringing the climate establishment to its knees (whether or not the climate establishment realizes yet that this has happened)?  Again, trust plays a big role […] the climate auditors have no apparent political agenda, are doing this work for free, and have been playing a watchdog role, which has engendered the trust of a large segment of the population.

Towards Rebuilding Trust

  • People have heard the alarm, but they remain unconvinced because of a perceived political agenda and lack of trust of the message and the messengers. At the same time, there is a large group of educated and evidence driven people (e.g. the libertarians, people that read the technical skeptic blogs, not to mention policy makers) who want to understand the risk and uncertainties associated with climate change, without being told what kinds of policies they should be supporting.
  • building trust through public communication on this topic requires that uncertainty be acknowledged.
  • discussing the uncertainties increases the public trust in what scientists are trying to convey and doesn’t detract from the receptivity to understanding climate change risks
  • Trust can also be rebuilt by discussing broad choices rather than focusing on specific policies.
  • And finally, the blogosphere can be a very powerful tool for increasing the credibility of climate research.  “Dueling blogs”  (e.g. climateprogress.org versus wattsupwiththat.com and realclimate.org versus climateaudit.org) can actually enhance public trust in the science as they see both sides of the arguments being discussed.  Debating science with skeptics should be the spice of academic life
  • I have certainly learned a lot by participating in the blogospheric debate including how to sharpen my thinking and improve the rhetoric of my arguments.
  • we need to acknowledge the emerging auditing and open source movements in the in the internet-enabled world, and put them to productive use.  The openness and democratization of knowledge enabled by the internet can be a tremendous tool for building public understanding of climate science and also trust in climate research.
  • No one really believes that the “science is settled” or that “the debate is over.”  Scientists and others that say this seem to want to advance a particular agenda.  There is nothing more detrimental to public trust than such statements.

Scientific Journalism Is Moribund, Dead, Perhaps Alive

(thanks to Bill Clement for inspiring the gist of this blog)

In hindsight, it should have been clear long ago. It wasn’t going to be pretty, nor it could have been. On one side, journalists with the vaguest notions of the scientific method, mostly convinced that science is what a scientist does (need to remember Piero Manzoni, anybody?).

On the other side, a number of determined bloggers “that have made themselves experts in general climate science (in the words of Roger Harrabin), “ordinary people [who] can say [to scientists] ‘look, you said this, you said that, the two don’t match, explain yourself’” (in the words of Richard North).

Of course, it was going to be carnage. The journalists would not and could not survive the confrontation by any stretch of imagination. And so they didn’t. As noted by Matt Ridley in The Spectator:

It was not Private Eye, or the BBC or the News of the World, but a retired electrical engineer in Northampton, David Holland, whose freedom-of-information requests caused the Climategate scientists to break the law, according to the Information Commissioner. By contrast, it has so far attracted little attention that the leaked emails of Climategate include messages from reporters obsequiously seeking ammunition against the sceptics. Other emails have shown reporters meekly changing headlines to suit green activists, or being threatened with ostracism for even reporting the existence of a sceptical angle

As far as the average skeptical blogger is concerned, scientific journalism in matters of climate should be considered dying if not dead, only a place where to find nice but wholly un-necessary confirmation of one’s doubts. Or should it?

The underlying problem is suggested by Roger Harrabin in the same radio debate mentioned above:

What’s been difficult for people reporting mainstream debate in the past has been that what we would call our trusted sources of science, people like the Royal Society and the various other corollary bodies in different countries, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change set up to be the touchstone of probity on this issue, they have been the providers of news and the people who have been doubting these news have generally speaking not been academics, I am on the trawl for academics at the moment in British universities there are hardly any and there have been doubters from other quarters and it’s been very difficult for us to tell what are the credentials when all these establishment voices are lined up on one side, how can we put them against a blogger on the other side that might happen to be a blogger who has for the past 15 years spent 100 hundred hours on the Internet reading climate science and has a good knowledge but we don’t know how to test this

Note the choice of words…”our trusted sources of science“, “the providers of news“…these are the words of somebody with the mindset of being an information broker between “the scientists” and “the general public”. It is a way of seeing “scientific journalism” as some kind of translation service, from the high-brow vocabulary of the scientists to the simpleton’s expressions even the most empty-headed Joe Public might understand.

Obviously, such a mindset leaves no space at all to a critical analysis of what the scientists say: because “how can we put them against a blogger [whose knowledge] we don’t know how to test“. Harrabin might be more right on this than he is ever likely to wish: after all, as commented by Bill:

The Press, too, have few within their ranks with a genuine science background. The result – regurgitation (syndication) of the few articles written

Mind you, journalists might not see that as an issue. It all depends on what “journalism” is meant to be. Here’s how award-winning science writer Ed Yong recommends scientists to approach interviews:

[The journalists’] job is not to grill you with hard questions – it’s to find The Story and get you to say something interesting. Your job, interestingly enough, is not to answer their questions to the letter, but to get your message across and to do so in an interesting way. Note the compatibility between these two goals.

The easiest way to mutually assured victory is to get your message across in a way that’s interesting enough that you practically hand them The Story on a plate. Journalism is a game but it’s not a zero-sum one. You and the journalist are not vicious gladiatorial opponents; you are engaging in a collaborative venture and treating it as such will help you get more out of it.

The (skeptical) bloggers write about their quest for Truth. The journalists write instead about…”The Story“. Has “The Story” got any relationship with Truth? Who knows, and does anybody care? (hey…some editors go all the way and get rid of reporters trying to find out what the Truth is…).

Just as “The Story” on climate was the overwhelming consensus in 2009, it is now the overwhelming amount of evidence indicating the IPCC documents have been biased in a miriad of ways towards reporting exactly what the paymasters/Governments wanted them to report.

Kudos to all journalists following the new “Story” but don’t expect their articles to become the new WUWT or EU Referendum. They can not: check the somehow inadvertently comical situation described by Ivan Oranski, executive editor of Reuters Health, on how to choose one’s sources. It looks like Mr Oranski has been around the block quite a few times, so to speak. He even recommends “to always read papers you’re reporting on, instead of relying solely on press releases” (no sh*t!). But not even once Mr Oranski dares thinking he could use himself, his ongoing knowledge of the topic, his ability to cross-reference findings throughout the mountains of scientific papers he has read.

The above suggests “scientific journalism” is still a long, long way from getting in the same league as, say, political journalistic analysis of internal or foreign affairs, where a healthy skepticism of politicians’ statements is nowadays a matter of course. One suspects, too many “scientific journalists” haven’t had their Cronkite moment as yet. But there is hope. Here’s an example of a scientific journalist actually using his brains, however briefly (Nicholas Wade, “Ancient Man in Greenland Has Genome Decoded“, The New York Times Feb 10, 2010):

Perhaps reflecting the so far somewhat limited reach of personal genomics, the researchers note that the ancient Greenlander was at risk for baldness, a surprising assessment given that all that remains of him is his hair

Ed Yong seems also more open than most to the new challenges of the present:

There is rampant churnalism, a dearth of fact-checking, misguided attempts at balance at the cost of accuracy. On the other hand, there is plenty of work from non-traditional sources that does espouse these values, including the writings of many freelance science writers and working scientists (and many of the so-called elements of journalism are elements of good scientific practice too).

If you play out this taxonomic game, you quickly see that many people who ostensibly work in science journalism produce work that is nothing of the sort. Likewise, amateurs who wouldn’t classify themselves as science journalists, actually ought to count.

Journalists are even waking up to the extraordinary amount of news they can produce from “inspirations” found in blogs and other forms of online social media. One interesting lead fresh out of the AAAS 2010 meeting: some scientists still don’t get it (will they ever), others understand they need new ways of thinking in order to explain themselves to the outside world.

And of course there is one reliable anchor that hasn’t been much affected by all of this: the minute group of scientific journalists that have actually been scientists themselves, know how scientific publications work, and can read and critique a scientific article on their own, if need be. I am talking about people like journalism-award-winning academic David Whitehouse.

No prize to guess what Dr Whitehouse thinks of climate alarmism.

(many thanks to @TheGreenDemon and @ThisIsTrue for sharing some of the links above)

“Spero che questa situazione si risolva nel migliore dei modi”

Italiani all’estero, Caso Di Girolamo: gli eletti oltre confine a colloquio con ItaliachiamaItalia – di Francesca Toscano

Diplomatica la reazione del deputato del PDL, Guglielmo Picchi, che in attesa che la magistratura faccia il suo corso, per il momento si limita a dire: “Spero che questa situazione si risolva nel migliore dei modi

Stop Global Warming, Or Else…

Culinary terrors ahead?

Scientific Journalism Is Moribund, Dead, Perhaps Alive

(thanks to Bill Clement for inspiring the gist of this blog)

In hindsight, it should have been clear long ago. It wasn’t going to be pretty, nor it could have been. On one side, journalists with the vaguest notions of the scientific method, mostly convinced that science is what a scientist does (need to remember Piero Manzoni, anybody?).

On the other side, a number of determined bloggers “that have made themselves experts in general climate science (in the words of Roger Harrabin), “ordinary people [who] can say [to scientists] ‘look, you said this, you said that, the two don’t match, explain yourself’” (in the words of Richard North).

Of course, it was going to be carnage. The journalists would not and could not survive the confrontation by any stretch of imagination. And so they didn’t. As noted by Matt Ridley in The Spectator:

It was not Private Eye, or the BBC or the News of the World, but a retired electrical engineer in Northampton, David Holland, whose freedom-of-information requests caused the Climategate scientists to break the law, according to the Information Commissioner. By contrast, it has so far attracted little attention that the leaked emails of Climategate include messages from reporters obsequiously seeking ammunition against the sceptics. Other emails have shown reporters meekly changing headlines to suit green activists, or being threatened with ostracism for even reporting the existence of a sceptical angle

As far as the average skeptical blogger is concerned, scientific journalism in matters of climate should be considered dying if not dead, only a place where to find nice but wholly un-necessary confirmation of one’s doubts. Or should it?

The underlying problem is suggested by Roger Harrabin in the same radio debate mentioned above:

What’s been difficult for people reporting mainstream debate in the past has been that what we would call our trusted sources of science, people like the Royal Society and the various other corollary bodies in different countries, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change set up to be the touchstone of probity on this issue, they have been the providers of news and the people who have been doubting these news have generally speaking not been academics, I am on the trawl for academics at the moment in British universities there are hardly any and there have been doubters from other quarters and it’s been very difficult for us to tell what are the credentials when all these establishment voices are lined up on one side, how can we put them against a blogger on the other side that might happen to be a blogger who has for the past 15 years spent 100 hundred hours on the Internet reading climate science and has a good knowledge but we don’t know how to test this

Note the choice of words…”our trusted sources of science“, “the providers of news“…these are the words of somebody with the mindset of being an information broker between “the scientists” and “the general public”. It is a way of seeing “scientific journalism” as some kind of translation service, from the high-brow vocabulary of the scientists to the simpleton’s expressions even the most empty-headed Joe Public might understand.

Obviously, such a mindset leaves no space at all to a critical analysis of what the scientists say: because “how can we put them against a blogger [whose knowledge] we don’t know how to test“. Harrabin might be more right on this than he is ever likely to wish: after all, as commented by Bill:

The Press, too, have few within their ranks with a genuine science background. The result – regurgitation (syndication) of the few articles written

Mind you, journalists might not see that as an issue. It all depends on what “journalism” is meant to be. Here’s how award-winning science writer Ed Yong recommends scientists to approach interviews:

[The journalists’] job is not to grill you with hard questions – it’s to find The Story and get you to say something interesting. Your job, interestingly enough, is not to answer their questions to the letter, but to get your message across and to do so in an interesting way. Note the compatibility between these two goals.

The easiest way to mutually assured victory is to get your message across in a way that’s interesting enough that you practically hand them The Story on a plate. Journalism is a game but it’s not a zero-sum one. You and the journalist are not vicious gladiatorial opponents; you are engaging in a collaborative venture and treating it as such will help you get more out of it.

The (skeptical) bloggers write about their quest for Truth. The journalists write instead about…”The Story“. Has “The Story” got any relationship with Truth? Who knows, and does anybody care? (hey…some editors go all the way and get rid of reporters trying to find out what the Truth is…).

Just as “The Story” on climate was the overwhelming consensus in 2009, it is now the overwhelming amount of evidence indicating the IPCC documents have been biased in a miriad of ways towards reporting exactly what the paymasters/Governments wanted them to report.

Kudos to all journalists following the new “Story” but don’t expect their articles to become the new WUWT or EU Referendum. They can not: check the somehow inadvertently comical situation described by Ivan Oranski, executive editor of Reuters Health, on how to choose one’s sources. It looks like Mr Oranski has been around the block quite a few times, so to speak. He even recommends “to always read papers you’re reporting on, instead of relying solely on press releases” (no sh*t!). But not even once Mr Oranski dares thinking he could use himself, his ongoing knowledge of the topic, his ability to cross-reference findings throughout the mountains of scientific papers he has read.

The above suggests “scientific journalism” is still a long, long way from getting in the same league as, say, political journalistic analysis of internal or foreign affairs, where a healthy skepticism of politicians’ statements is nowadays a matter of course. One suspects, too many “scientific journalists” haven’t had their Cronkite moment as yet. But there is hope. Here’s an example of a scientific journalist actually using his brains, however briefly (Nicholas Wade, “Ancient Man in Greenland Has Genome Decoded“, The New York Times Feb 10, 2010):

Perhaps reflecting the so far somewhat limited reach of personal genomics, the researchers note that the ancient Greenlander was at risk for baldness, a surprising assessment given that all that remains of him is his hair

Ed Yong seems also more open than most to the new challenges of the present:

There is rampant churnalism, a dearth of fact-checking, misguided attempts at balance at the cost of accuracy. On the other hand, there is plenty of work from non-traditional sources that does espouse these values, including the writings of many freelance science writers and working scientists (and many of the so-called elements of journalism are elements of good scientific practice too).

If you play out this taxonomic game, you quickly see that many people who ostensibly work in science journalism produce work that is nothing of the sort. Likewise, amateurs who wouldn’t classify themselves as science journalists, actually ought to count.

Journalists are even waking up to the extraordinary amount of news they can produce from “inspirations” found in blogs and other forms of online social media. One interesting lead fresh out of the AAAS 2010 meeting: some scientists still don’t get it (will they ever), others understand they need new ways of thinking in order to explain themselves to the outside world.

And of course there is one reliable anchor that hasn’t been much affected by all of this: the minute group of scientific journalists that have actually been scientists themselves, know how scientific publications work, and can read and critique a scientific article on their own, if need be. I am talking about people like journalism-award-winning academic David Whitehouse.

No prize to guess what Dr Whitehouse thinks of climate alarmism.

(many thanks to @TheGreenDemon and @ThisIsTrue for sharing some of the links above)

'Let Us Breathe': French Book Against Censorship By The Self-Righteous

Jacques Rougeot, Professor of French Language at the University of Paris IV-Sorbonne, has just published a book (in French) denouncing how environmentalism has been hijacked by people mainly bent on “stifling freedom of thought and expression“. And that’s something that would go a long way explaining why so many have been convinced to use idiotic words such as “denialism”…

Ah ! Laissez-nous respirer ! Contre la censure des bien-pensants.

Ah! Let us breathe! Against censorship by the self-righteous
by Jacques Rougeot

If you eat steak and get around by car, you must know that reading this little book is not without risk. You will risk seeing your moral sense affected. You will learn that in fact, by your irresponsible behavior, you are endangering the planet. You will know that, as a consumer of steak (or beef stew), you are encouraging the breeding of cattle, which in turn, by virtue of their burps and farts, emit an abundance of methane, a gas even more harmful than CO2 . You are guilty of crimes against ecology.

In this way, pleasant and just a caricature, and through many other more serious examples, Jacques Rougeot questions the tight network of taboos spun by a new caste of self-righteous people who claim the right to censor [the rest of humanity]. Thanks to their influence on the media, they have managed to ostracize many words and opinions traditionally regarded as innocent.

This business of stifling freedom of thought and expression […] pivots mainly around fear and bad conscience. The need is for the French to constantly feel guilty and threatened, so that the people, weakened and neutralized, no longer have the moral strength to defend what the essence of a country’s identity, its civilization.

Cavallo, Cruciani e Gatti

“Simpatico” scambio di opinioni recentemente da Cruciani alla Zanzara su Radio 24 riguardo le ricette felinculinarie, con tal Roberto Cavallo del “Collettivo Animalista”.

Personalmente trovo davvero stupido farsi provocare da un “provocatore” di professione come Cruciani (e meno male che la trasmissione si chiama “La Zanzara”…).

Saro’ mica l’unico che lo ascolta per sentire pettegolezzi e rilassarsi un po’??? Come si dice, come se uno andasse al bar prima di cena.

'Brain Farts' And Other Tweets

(another collection of links from Twitter – this time not from my @omnologos account)

(this is for my reference as well as I have not read yet many of these links) Continue reading

Plait, Plait, Tu Quoque Plait…

(in reply to the Bad Astronomer’s “You can’t resolve away climate change“)

Phil’s and all the warmists’ stance would be greatly helped if you people would stop calling “deniers” everybody and anybody that questions even the slightest AGW claim, instead of trying to push together creationists alongside those simply asking for evidence that catastrophes be upon us.

In fact, to anybody not ready to denounce all the attempts to hide data, avoid compliance to FOI legislation, and try to shut perfectly legitimate scientific papers off peer-reviewed publication, I just ask: what makes you any better than the chiropractors that have tried to ruin Simon Singh??

There’s so much we could all do if we would work together but no, the mere mention of the slightest doubt is nowadays sufficient to be labeled a rabid right-wing creationist conspiracy-monger on the pay of Exxon. And that can’t be a serious way to deal with climate risks.

About Frederick Bailey's "Textbook of Gravity, Sunspots and Climate"

I have received the following as a comment from Howard Bailey, with some comments about Frederick Bailey’s “Textbook of Gravity, Sunspots and Climate and an exchange with some critic of his. Being it way too long as such, am republishing it as a blog, and as usual, it is posted as-is (with some formatting, and removing Joe’s family name).

My father has done a lot of independent, unfunded, unbiased work on this subject for a number of years; the following is an overview of the contents of his latest work.

I would like to draw your attention to a relatively recent discovery by my father, Frederick Bailey, regarding Sunspot prediction and more importantly, what drives major global temperature changes.

Continue reading

Von Storch: "Climate Protection" Enhances Vulnerability

(originally submitted as a comment by ScientistForTruth. Published here as-received)

Some interesting observation from a paper by Hans von Storch in European Physical Journal – Special Topics, Volume 176, Number 1 / September, 2009. Von Storch makes some interesting, and refreshingly honest, observations about matters of faith and ‘trust’ in AGW which would blow Romm away if he were an honest man:

“…How fast can climate change when only natural causes are operating? This rate may be described by a probability distribution…This distribution is not known…It is not possible to prove that the estimation is “right”…I personally believe that our estimates are approximately correct – but I have to admit that I may be wrong with that assessment.

…the quality of estimating the magnitude of naturally caused variability is a key issue in this exercise. This magnitude is not known but must be estimated. Accepting its estimated value is a matter of trust. If somebody believes that the estimate is inadequate because of the limited data base, then I can not disprove this assertion. The same is true for my belief that the data base is good enough to allow a reasonable educated guess of this quantity – possible opponents are not able to prove that I am wrong.

…We humans – at least in the western culture – seem to be predisposed to accept “anthropogenic climate change” as an acceptable explanation for uncommon events even if they are natural and simply rare. This may be one of the reasons why the prophets of “climate catastrophes” and disasters are so successful in communicating with the general public – they articulate a primal fear, so to speak an eigen-oscillation of public perception.

…often the implicit assumption is made that when a climate change signal is detected in the global mean temperature, which is attributable to increased greenhouse gas concentrations, then all extraordinary meteorological events, like disastrous storms or extensive floods, must also be causally related to this anthropogenic climate change…There are even scientists who admit that exaggeration of the threat of climate change would be in order – because without exaggeration the public would not take the threat sufficiently serious (Bray and von Storch, 2007).

…If every extreme event is considered a support of the concept of anthropogenic climate change – how would we be able to falsify the hypothesis of anthropogenic climate change, if it would actually be false? Only by the absence of extreme events – which would, on the other hand, be a sure proof of climate change, as extreme events are integral parts of the statistics of weather.

The emphasis on “protection of climate” and the wrong causality of emissions and weather extremes is…a detrimental disinformation. It causes people to falsely believe that normal weather extremes are really related to climate change, and that such extreme would no more happen as soon as a successful climate policy is installed. The vulnerability against weather extremes is enhanced because of the false perception that we are facing a revengeful environment which is striking back against the perpetrator instead of the view that extremes of this sort are “normal” and need preparation on our side even if these events are rare.

You've Read It Here First – Present-Day AGW Science Is A Walking Dead

Just had a pleasant conversation with a published European researcher of considerable experience. Can’t write any detail to back up my claim yet, but let me try to claim precedence. AGW theory is dead and I am not talking about politics here. A research institute is likely to let the wheels come off the wagon, at last.

Eventually, climate science will replace it with a new theory combining solar, orographic and hydrodynamical studies. The greenhouse effect will not be repudiated, rather downsized to a more appropriate status. When? Not before a lot of effort will come to nothing, and plenty of people will be killed, let to die or forced into poverty for no reason at all.

It took 80 years for the Ediacaran fauna to be recognized, 30 years for the Chandrasekhar limit to be accepted, 74 years for the Communist Party of the Soviet Union to relinquish power.

I envy the climate scientists of 2085.

Romm's "Smoking And Cancer" Fallacy

Joe Romm is not the only one making the absurd analogy between the smoking-lung cancer link and the carbon emissions-global warming connection:

Everyone knows you can’t make a direct connection between carbon emissions and this January in Vancouver which is so damn warm it crushed the record set so long ago that toddlers can’t even remember it. It’s just a coincidence that we are now in the warmest winter globally in the satellite record.

It’s just like that chain-smoking guy who got lung cancer. The fact that he smoked two packs a day is a coincidence. You can’t prove it — so keep smoking, already. Sure the statistics show the warming footprint — Record high temperatures far outpace record lows across U.S. — but individual events are just coincidence. I’m telling you.

Romm’s sarcasm is wholly inappropriate. The  Relative Risk (RR) of developing lung cancer is around 23 for habitual (male) smokers. There is no reasonable “you can’t prove it” argument: indeed, here’s a checklist of what is needed to understand a phenomenon where most data are of a statistical nature:

  1. Epidemiology should find a strong association (i.e. a high value for RR, e.g. above 3)
  2. A very specific disease should be involved
  3. There should be a consistency between studies and with data from laboratory work, disease incidence trends and other sources
  4. The results should be preferably not involve a rewriting of biology and physics

(you can read more about the complexity of dealing with a statistical understanding of the world at this link)

In the case of smoking and lung cancer, every single point of the checklist is fulfilled. In the case of carbon emissions and global warming:

  • Point 1 is still ill-defined – notably, the fork between maximum and minimum expected warming has not decreased between the IPCC TAR and AR4. That’s a far, far cry from a RR of 23…
  • Point 2 is still ill-defined – we are given very generic statements “it’s going to get warmer”, “it will likely be a warm winter”, “the likelihood of heavier snowstorms and rainfalls will increase”, almost value-free if there’s no number attached to them

No need to talk about points 3 and 4. If there’s no well-defined data to work on, everything else is a moot point. All in all, it is sad to see just how misinformed somebody like Romm can be, when one is unwilling to find the time to understand the topic at hand. Hasn’t he got anybody helping investigating his own arguments???

And They Wonder Why They Are Not Taken Seriously

January 2009 – After snowstorms in British Columbia, a statement by Andrew Weaver, “climate-modelling expert at the University of Victoria and a lead author with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

for decades, climate scientists have consistently said that with climate change, many parts of the world should expect an increase in overall precipitation. “So the fact that we’re getting snowfall records is entirely consistent with what we’ve been saying,” he said.

February 2010 – After little if any snow in British Columbia, a statement by climate wrestler Joe Romm

this type of purely coincidental extremely warm weather is completely consistent with the predictions of climate science.  Indeed climate science says we are likely to see far, far worse, far, far more often

Another example in a comment to Andy Revkin’s “A Historian Looks ‘Back’ at the Climate Fight

23. Eva – February 12th, 2010 – 4:25 pm
In 1899, Washington DC had 54 inches of snow. We are told that was because there was less CO2 and it was cold. In 2010, Washington DC had 55 inches of snow. We are told that is due to global warming.

Why does the global warming community expect the rest of the world to be as neurotic and confused as they are?

Dear Scientific American… (An Open Letter)

Dear Scientific American

(editors@sciam.com, subscriptions@sciam.com)

Subject: Subscription renewal: please stay away from this climate contrarian (or worse)

Thank you for asking me to fork another $43.75 to get 12 more issues starting from July or August 2010.

I am afraid I am not the kind of subscriber you may want to consort with.

You see, I am one of those despicable people “standing up and exposing the science, the costs and the hysteria behind global warming alarmism“. In your definition, I am one of the “contrarians, naysayers and denialists.

And it gets worse. Some time ago I published a paid article on an online magazine that received (I think, or maybe suspect) some money from Exxon. The shock, the horror, etc etc doo bee doo bee doo.

Please spare yourself from having your articles read by these deceitful, amateurish, intellectually dishonest eyes of mine and just leave me alone.

many thanks
regards
maurizio morabito

Raypierre Still Doesn't Get It

The guys at RealClimate have absolutely zero debating skills. That much has been known for a long time and has just been confirmed once again with a relatively weak blog containing incredible statements such as

Do the above issues suggest “politicized science”, deliberate deceptions or a tendency towards alarmism on the part of IPCC? We do not think there is any factual basis for such allegations

(stand-up comedy shouldn’t be far)

(yes, that blog is weak because it pivots on a mere handful of arguments, all of them at risk of being shown fallacious. The first one that goes, will carry the rest of the blog down with itself)

Those minimalistic skills are now spreading elsewhere, with the most simplistic of logical reasoning apparently beyond the grasp of “raypierre”, aka Raymond T Pierrehumbert. Next to Andy Revkin’s “Does an Old Climate Critique Still Hold up?” I had originally posted the following comment of Feb 10, 9:09EST (also available in my “Lacis, The IPCC, Simple Physics And Post-normal “Science”“)

34. Maurizio Morabito – February 10th, 2010 – 9:09 am
[…] (c) I’d suggest people drop the “Greenhouse effect is simply physics” argument. Simple physics shows that warm air moves upwards, and a room’s floor is generally colder than its ceiling. However, mountaintops are generally colder than sea-level locations. Why? Because the free atmosphere is a complex system where you can’t just apply simple physics (for a different example: think of anti-oxydants’ wonders in Petri dishes and the failure to translate that into effective anti-aging treatments in the real world) […]

I do think that the Petri dish analogy made my point extremely clear. Alas, not to all…

80. raypierre – February 10th, 2010- 9:20 pm
34. Maurizio Morabito —

No, Maurizio, we should not drop the argument that “the Greenhouse Effect” is simply physics. It IS simply physics. What needs to happen instead is that you and people like you either (a) take the time to learn a little physics yourself, or (b) lacking time, at least defer to people who do know the physics. “a” is by far the preferable option.

For example, mountaintops are colder than the lower altitudes because of the simple physical principle that gases cool when they expand rapidly enough. Convection moves the air upwards fast enough that the air cools. This kind of thermodynamics is taught in most good high school physics classes, and its atmospheric relevance has been understood since shortly after Horace de Saussure’s landmark studies of mountain meteorology in the early 1800’s.

The fact that your comment was recommended by 6 readers so far speaks volumes about the scientific ignorance of many of the readers who support your position.

Why oh why would the Louis Block Professor in Geophysical Sciences at the University of Chicago feel it necessary to demean himself with the last paragraph above, totally undeserving any reply, I will never understand. Obviously though, a career in Geophysical and Atmospheric Sciences may prevent people like raypierre from taking the time to learn a little cellular physiology.

Somebody did try to re-iterate my point:

88. Harry Eagar – February 11th, 2010 – 7:45 am
raypierre, a big time, scientifically qualified alarmist, sez: ‘For example, mountaintops are colder than the lower altitudes because of the simple physical principle that gases cool when they expand rapidly enough.’

I live on a mountain, 10,000 feet high. I’m at 1,500 feet. True, it’s colder at the top, but it’s warmer at 7,000 than at 1,500 feet (most of the time).

Climate and weather are possibly more complex that people like Raypierre would like hoi polloi to know.

No way…help for Prof Pierrehumbert was at hand next day:

109. Ivan Carter – February 12th, 2010 – 7:40 am

[responding to Harry Eagar] Raypierre says that mountaintops are cooler than at the bottom based upon known (and incontrovertible) principle of physics, and this commenter calls him out because ‘mountaintops are colder than the bottom’ because sometimes in between (thru short term warmth rising, I think, some of the time), the air is warmer than at the bottom.

Pierre didn’t give a full analysis of mountain climate, nor was doing so relevant. He simply gave an example of one specific point, correctly stated and which the commenter himself backed up, that was then manipulated into yet another irrelevant but apparently appealing attack upon RayPierre and scientists!

It is what is done on here, often more subtly, however, over and over and over again […]

By the way, Ivan: to state the truism that climate and weather are more complex than the individual effects at play, does not mean “to attack the scientists” any more than to point to the Ediacaran fossils didn’t mean “to attack the scientists”…just those scientists that prevented our understanding of Precambrian fauna for 80 years

And now for my latest reply. I have no hope raypierre, Ivan Carter or anybody thinking they’re characters in a Fort Apache remake will understand any of it. You see, even if they have lacked the time so far, surely they have never even thought of deferring to anybody that knows anything about movies, or Precambrian fauna…

115. Maurizio Morabito – February 14th, 2010 – 3:07 pm
raypierre (86) and Ivan Carter (109): my original point was that you cannot simply take one effect observed in the lab (for example, the greenhouse effect) and state that it will work as-is in the real world. In the real world, other effects will “sum up” to it, and the end result will be whatever it will be.

The existence of a GH effect is the _starting_ point in the investigation of what happens to climate due to GHG emissions, so it _cannot_ be used to _terminate_ discussions about global warming.

Hence my request to drop it as an argument, just like the existence of gravity doesn’t mean that flying is impossible.

La Sindrome di Scassandra

no, il titolo non e’ un refuso…un’altra versione: “Accusiamo i catastrofisti di complicita’ in genocidio?

Proviamo un “se voi foste il giudice”…siamo al processo contro una babysitter perche’ il bambino cui stava badando e’ finito in ospedale cadendo da un tavolo. La babysitter dichiara di non aver fatto personalmente del male al bambino, e tutti sono d’accordo sull’argomento. Pur tuttavia si sa anche che la babysitter, pur consapevole del fatto che il bambino stesse giocando al gioco dei contrari, gli ha intimato di non salire sul tavolo perche’ preoccupata, appunto, che cadesse da quell’altezza.

Se voi foste il giudice…pensereste che la babysitter fosse innocente?

Io no.

Come commentare allora coloro i quali, pur nutrendo ragionevolissime preoccupazioni riguardo argomenti come l’evoluzione del clima, o il picco del petrolio, continuano a ripetere argomentazioni ed azioni gia’ dimostratesi fallimentari, nonostante la consapevolezza (di tutti) che tutto cio’ non abbia mai portato, e quindi mai potra’ portare da nessuna parte? Sono “colpevoli”, evidentemente anche loro…e colpevoli poi di “complicita’ in genocidio”, perche’ a loro dire qualora non si facesse niente ci aspetta un futuro di morte a livello, appunto, di genocidio.

L’unica loro possibilita’ di salvezza dall’accusa di “complicita’ in genocidio” sara’ dimostrare allora che non abbiano comunque troppo sale in zucca (e non dico che cio’ sarebbe difficile…).

Esiste evidentemente un problema di comunicazione fra chi nutre certe preoccupazioni ed il mondo esterno. E’ chiaro anche a tutti che il mondo esterno non accetta il primo profeta che capita. Piu’ straordinarie siano poi le affermazioni, piu’ straordinarie dovranno essere le prove a supporto. Maggiore la richiesta di cambiamento sociale e/o addirittura psicologico, maggiore sara’ il fronte di coloro che si dimostreranno recalcitranti al cambiamento (e meno male, altrimenti saremmo tutti gia’ morti dietro questo o quel profeta di morte).

Si tratta di nozioni gia’ stra-note e al limite del banale. Eppure continuiamo a vedere questo stesso cozzare di teste contro gli stessi muri per le stesse ragioni.

Peggio: alcuni fra quella serie di teste prossime all’auto-danneggiamento, invece di acquisire consapevolezza della situazione e provare un registro piu’ efficace, hanno elaborato una loro psicosociofantasia fra lo strambo e il patetico, rifugiandosi fra le confortevoli braccia della “Sindrome di Cassandra“.

L’idea e’ molto semplice…piu’ di uno e’ convinto di conoscere il futuro (=sapere esattamente come andra’) ma di essere condannato a rimanere inascoltato come, appunto, Cassandra. Ci sono vari aspetti a livello psicologico, in proposito, fra i quali:

  • Le preoccupazioni per il futuro diventano una certezza che capitera’ il peggio
  • Il problema dell’essere inascoltati in passato diventa la convinzione che nessuno ascoltera’ mai

Al catastrofismo piu’ orripilante si accoppia quindi il rigetto del mondo esterno, un rigetto tanto piu’ illogico quanto piu’ la soluzione del problema (cambiamenti climatici, o picco del petrolio) comporta il lavorare assieme al mondo esterno.

E se dietro tutto questo ci fosse una specie di “desiderio di morte” (di nuovo, rendendo appropriata l’accusa di complicita’ in genocidio)? Il Prof. Giampiero Tre Re, “docente di filosofia, psicologia e scienze sociali, […] dottore di ricerca in Diritti dell’Uomo presso l’Università di Palermo e […] specialista di bioetica” descrive la situazione cosi’ nel suo blog “Terra di Nessuno” (“Ecologia e psicologia. Profezie che si autoavverano: la sindrome di Cassandra“, 8 Marzo 2007):

[…] Il dibattito pubblico sulla crisi dell’ecosistema, muovendosi tra rimozioni e catastrofismi, assume l’andamento oscillatorio di una sindrome psicosociale, che ricorda il personaggio omerico di Cassandra […] una sindrome da fine del mondo (o, almeno, di certi mondi) tipica dei passaggi di crisi culturali. […] è la rivelazione stessa che, mentre annuncia la catastrofe, la rende ineluttabile per cause connesse, in definitiva, non al problema in sé ma ai modi della comunicazione e delle dinamiche dell’organizzazione sociale. […] Il complesso esita in una profonda frustrazione per l’incapacità di agire tempestivamente ed efficacemente, mentre Cassandra finisce per distruggere se stessa: mentre trova conferma della propria ideologia di salvezza, provoca, proprio per questo, la catastrofe collettiva annunciata.

Da notare che il Prof. Tre Re non e’ certo da annoverare fra coloro che non ritengano essere in corso una crisi ecologica. Ma i suoi suggerimenti per il futuro sono ben diversi dalle solite stupidaggini catastrofiste riguardo masse ignoranti o complotti malvagi:

Se non si troverà il modo di cogliere scientificamente il nesso tra la globalità della crisi dell’ecosistema e il carattere globale dell’interazione culturale uomo-natura il grido di Cassandra non basterà a scongiurare la catastrofe ed anzi, suo malgrado, si presterà a strumentalizzazioni e manipolazioni politiche. […] Occorre una visione ecofilosofica profonda e al tempo stesso profondamente umanistica, senza inutili e dannosi catastrofismi. Una riflessione epistemologica che si ponga l’obiettivo d’individuare l’eventuale punto di contatto tra una nuova gestalt ecologica ed un antropocentrismo non dispotico nei confronti della natura

Sottolineo: “il grido di Cassandra non basterà a scongiurare la catastrofe ed anzi, suo malgrado, si presterà a strumentalizzazioni e manipolazioni politiche“. Appunto.

E dire che invece qualcosa si potrebbe davvero fare. Pochi giorni fa ne hanno parlato gli esperti convenuti per parlare di “Evidence-based decision making” (“Decidere sulla base delle prove scientifiche“) all’University College of London. A una precisa domanda in argomento, cosa possono fare i cambioclimatisti invece di rifugiarsi nella Sindrome di Cassandra?, hanno dato i seguenti suggerimenti:

  • Impegnarsi nello studiare tecniche implementative, fare tesoro di esperienze passate (come la campagna per la lotta all’AIDS)
  • Parlare con tutti, essere aperti e coinvolgere quante piu’ persone possibile, costruire networks di persone che abbiano lo stesso obiettivo, indipendentemente dalle motivazioni di ognuno
  • Non partire dal presupposto che nessuno ci ascolti, aiutare anzi chi lo fa ad acquisire visibilita’
  • Iniziare con un progetto dimostrativo che accetti invece di negare le obiezioni raccolte

Il guaio e’ che tutto questo “dura fatica”…molto piu’ facile crogiolarsi in un’interpretazione semplicistica del mito di Cassandra. Un po’ come rimprovera Garrison Keillor dalle pagine del New York Times ai Democratici USA:

Credo ancora nel lavorare faticosamente. È più divertente ed è un modo di vita migliore. Non ho molta pazienza per i Democratici che afferrano la sconfitta e trovano in essa la loro ragion d’essere. Sognano di essere una eroica voce che urla nel deserto contro l’egoismo e la crudeltà e affronta nobilmente la sconfitta, e necrologi che dicano che erano visionari e in anticipo sui tempi. Preferirei che si trovino nel loro tempo invece che in anticipo, e che si mettano al lavoro.

Lavoro? Figuriamoci…il cassandrista medio cerca nemici, in modo da non dover far niente di concreto, rendendo assolutamente inutili gli sforzi sui cambiamenti climatici, e sul picco del petrolio.

In un clima perennemente da Fortezza Bastiani, costituzionalmente incapaci di rapportarsi con il mondo esterno, i cassandristi sono pronti a offendere e denigrare, trincerarsi dietro l’autorita’ altrui, impermeabili a una qualunque discussione che non sia fra iniziati, bravi solo a cercare il pelo nell’uovo altrui.

In Italia ovviamente la citazione finale puo’ essere una sola…”continuiamo cosi’, facciamoci del male“.

President Obama Bows To Exxon's Evil Power

Having travelled to Camp David for Valentine’s day, sadly the Obamas have decided to get back to the White House because of the weather, I beg your pardon, because of global warming.

(Climate) Change you can believe in!

Did Global Warming Save Ancient Rome?

Right before risking annihilating Ancient Rome, Hannibal of Carthage

arrived in Italy accompanied by 20,000 foot soldiers and 4000 horsemen

having

lost about 18,000 men in avalanches as he crossed the Alps to battle the Roman army. He also lost 2,000 horses and many elephants“.

From the IPCC AR4 WG-II Chapter 12.4.3 (*), talking about the Alps

Changes in snowpack and glacial extent may also alter the likelihood of snow and ice avalanches, depending on the complex interaction of surface geometry, precipitation and temperature (Martin et al., 2001; Haeberli and Burns, 2002).

A panel has been convened to examine the above. The conclusion is that it is more likely than not that evil Exxon has helped emit greenhouse gases for the one reason of defending Ancient Rome from Hannibal.

(*) Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2007 M.L. Parry, O.F. Canziani, J.P. Palutikof, P.J. van der Linden and C.E. Hanson (eds) Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA.

Partial Transcript Of Richard North vs Roger Harrabin BBC Radio 5 live Exchange

On Wednesday Feb 11 BBC Radio 5 live’s “News from around the UK with Gabby Logan” programme hosted Richard North,  of “EU Referendum” fame and the BBC’s own Roger Harrabin together with renown Mike Hulme and Stephen Curry, a professor of structural biology. The recording is available here for a few days still (I don’t think there is a podcast).

The result has been a series of memorable quotes that I am trying to report here, together with a summary of everything that has been said. I shall return to some of this material in the next few days, for additional comments and to ease punctuation and capitalization…

(quick commentary: Richard North is the winner by far, and finds Harrabin move to his side too. Stephen Curry sounds like out of step with what is happening)

NOTE: direct quotes are in italic. Please do feel free to correct any mistake in the transcription:

GL: Gabby Logan (host)
MH: Mike Hume
RH: Roger Harrabin
RN: Richard North (introduced by GL as “political analyst and climate change skeptic“)
SC: Stephen Curry

ADDENDUM: the whole programme is now available via Vimeo (thanks to Climategate2009 for the link)

GL: [The inquiry will be about] how messages from the university of east anglia found their way to the internet. “Mike – are you pleased…What are you hoping it will achieve?

MH: independent investigation is appropriate about UEA but also the rest of the complex world of climate politics.

RN: “I agree with Mike there“. UEA investigation is only small bit of global issue. What worries RN is the tendency to treat this as an isolated episode but it isn’t, it is part of a continuum. climate politics complex but affects everybody.

GL: Mike – how much damage has this done to the debate about climate change?

MH: questions raised, understandably so. how enduring the damage will be, it depends on the outcome of inquiry. IPCC needs to take errors very seriously, work hard to rebuild trust in scientific evidence. not an easy thing to do, to restore trust that has been damaged.

RN: (chuckles) reminds of MH interview in 2007 saying IPCC is a political process (MH: “Absolutely, it is“). The science is not the issue, “it is the politics of science and the science of politics in a sense“. Needs to be a political inquiry.

GL: Do you think that will take scientists to an area they are totally uncomfortable with?

RN: “Anybody who’s been in academia knows that science is intensely political especially as the main push within scientific departments is funding and getting money and satisfying your paymasters. to try and pretend that somehow somehow science and politics are separate is a pastiche, it simply exists only in storybooks“.

MH: “I would agree with you Richard there“. We’ve got to find good ways to brind scientific evidence to public policy debate. Can’t simply accept science will do its business in its own sphere of influence. We need a process to bring high-quality scientific evidence with all uncertainties attached to it, to a public debate. Think IPCC is probably past its sell-by date. “Science never dictates policy but we have to have high-quality scientific evidence“.

(traffic news, BBC own ads)

GL Talking of Climategate. Can I bring Roger Harrabin. What impact do you think has this row on how climate change is being reported?

RH “Huge impact […] science is on the front pages and many scientists are uncomfortable with that. It is extremely difficult to conduct a very nuanced debate about science, policy and climate change through soundbites of 10 seconds. I say extremely difficult, frankly it is impossible. And that what tends to happen“. The tabloid way is unsatisfactory, not debating it at all is also unsatisfactory. Suggests to start from inquiry. GL agrees. RH: “We know about the climategate affairs, with the stolen e-mails showing scientists blocking access to their data, and that is quite clear, they no longer deny that, they don’t deny that, and they also appear to show they tried to unfairly influence the debate and the way their colleagues were perceived […] their rivals were perceived, and they do deny that. This inquiry…is said to be completely independent by the man who chairs it…will look at what exactly [the scientists] did…an enquiry about best practice in science”. Not just what is best practice now, but also what it was 20 years ago, “when a lot of the the climategate e-mails began“.

GL: RN – how did these e-mails end up in the public domain

RN: “There are some facts in the system that Roger seems to ignore. And I wish he’d stop prejudicing the debate by talking about stolen e-mails. The latest response from the local police is that they are now looking at the misuse of data. All the forensic evidence, and this has been poured (?) over by expert computer people, points to all the file being aggregated on a single server, UEA actually admitted that and there is equally a possibility, in fact a very very strong possibility that this was an inside job and a leak by somebody that was actually disaffected with what was going on. [Talking about intelligence agencies etc] this is actually prejuidicing the enquiry against the reality that it is probably an internal job. Talking about e-mails, hackers and the rest [is] distorting the debate and not helping the listener and the general public to understand [what is going on]“.

RHL Asks what better term to use rather than “stolen”. “This is another one of these things where you probably need a sentence rather than a word” (RN: “Sorry…“) RH: “This is not a helpful debate” (RN: “But you refer to them as being stolen“). RH: “This is how it gets bogged down into arguments. Please. Please. It would be a change [to have a debate where] we could get insights

RN: The point is that “you are prejudicing the debate. you are making an assumption in your terminology

GL: RH – impact clearly this is going to have on the reporting of science more broadly and how people know who to trust and where to get their information – it must be very difficult to report on science in an objective way (RN: “It is“) because both sides of the debate are so entrenched (RN: “Yes“)

RH: It is “particularly difficult“. Enquiry is looking very narrow into abuse of data. It is more interesting to “look beyond climategate and the whole of climate science because what climategate and glaciergate, that horrible mistake from the IPCC about the glaciers reveals is that I think a lot of people are ready now to examine climate change at its fundamentals and that will be very helpful. What’s been difficult for people reporting mainstream debate in the past has been that what we would call our trusted sources of science, people like the Royal Society and the various other corollary bodies in different countries, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change set up to be the touchstone of probity on this issue, they have been the providers of news and the people who have been doubting these news have generally speaking not been academics, I am on the trawl for academics at the moment in British universities there are hardly any and there have been doubters from other quarters and it’s been very difficult for us to tell what are the credentials when all these establishment voices are lined up on one side, how can we put them against a blogger on the other side that might happen to be a blogger who has for the past 15 years spent 100 hundred hours on the Internet reading climate science and has a good knowledge but we don’t know how to test this

GL: introduces Stephen Curry, professor of structural biology who’s been writing in the Guardian about the potential dangers when science hits the front pages. GL – “Is it important that people got faith in the country’s scientists, they can trust the evidence they are presenting?

SC: “Fundamentally important“. “Science is the best way to understand the natural world“. Scientist are trained to be skeptical, formulate hypothesis and then experiment to test them. Free to criticize each other’s work. Important to get information across to the public in a way that is digestible.

GL: Do politicians have a “proper understanding of the issues“?

SC: Many “simply don’t have the background to properly understand the scientific progress and it’s a challenge for them

GL: “Roger has alluded to the fact that the public wants to consume the news in bite-sized pieces and we want things explained very quickly to us. Are some issues like climate change just too complex for the public to understand?

SC – “They are certainly very complex but I think it’s vitally important that the public can understand and I think probably scientists can do a better job at being open and presenting all the evidence they have accumulated in support of man-made global warming. I don’t think there is any serious doubt in the community about that. There are uncertainties about what is the going to happen in the future but it is a matter then of presenting that complexity to the public. We often have to rely on journalists and other media outlets to present that case. of course they are very adept at putting stories together and of course they are pushed for space or air-time, which tends to drive a simplification. […] those are very difficult issues and it is really a challenging thing to try to put that across. […] scientists and journalists could work together in this a bit more for one another for their needs

RN: “You talk about trust in science but actually the default mode of the public, of the politicians aand above all of the scientists should be skepticism. We should not trust scientists, we should look at what they say and if they can’t explain themselves properly then automatically we should…(interrupted by GL)”

GL: “you are assuming a lot of knowledge there Richard for people to cross-examine” (RN: “No, no, no, not at all“) GL: “I am talking about the general public reading a newspaper are not necessarily going to cross-examine a scientist who has spent years and years of training, and years and years of research

RN: “This is precisely what’s happening and in fact ordinary people I mean this whole thing has been led by the grass-root, by bloggers and other commentators just read the comments on, say look at the newspapers online and look at the comments on them. There is far more intelligence and knowledge out there in the British public than in fact sometimes you see within the scientific community and there are internal inconsistencies in the evidence that we have been given, that ordinary people can say “look, you said this, you said that, the two don’t match, explain yourself” and instead of responding to that what you’re getting is this defensive wall saying “no, the debate is settled, the science is settled, there is no debate”. And it’s the scientific community and the political community. Don’t forget, Gordon Brown was calling us flat-earthers, which was a really healthy contribution to the debate. The fact that they have not been willing to entertain discussion and questions and perfectly genuine questions has actually poisoned the atmosphere. They’ve got to learn humility and turn around to genuine inquiries and say…. And ordinary bloggers. Look I’ve got a PhD so I am a scientist and I have pulled down three of the “Gates” but I have been looking through the IPCC report pulling out complete errors. Now, Roger Harrabin called them mistakes. That’s poisoning the debate because the lead author of Glaciergate said this was not a mistake, he’s on record saying that“.

GL – Asks Harrabin to go back to that point.

RH – Moves to language. “I think that phrases like climate deniers and flat earthers have absolutely no place in the debate whatsoever“. Says politicians and “leaders of science” have been heard stating that the debate is over, but if you talk to climate scientists themselves they will say”the balance of evidence is that human activities are changing the climate but there are still many uncertainties“: about the past climate record, the current climate record, how far the climate will change in the future. Government ministers have a much more simplistic view. “Is settled” might mean “Is settled enough for us to think about action“. “To give you an example about the difficulty of understanding all this, I was at a meeting of the Royal Society last year with eminent Professors from around the world, the sort of people that we regard as experts in climate change because they write papers in Nature and Science and I have to say there are very few skeptic papers in those journals. One of the professors asked a question the answer to which I knew, and I am a policy specialist, not a science specialist. I was a little alarmed that I knew this question which was outside his realm of his science and I just happened to pick up on. So I have asked the members of the panel at the Royal Society, would it be a good idea if there were some specialists, some professors of general scientific knowledge in terms of climate change instead of people specialising in some microcosm, tiny, tiny fragmented interest and I was savaged by the panel, they said it was a ridiculous idea and you had to be a top-top person in a very narrow field to get credibility from other scientists. On the other hand Richard has talked about, and here I fully support his view, there are some people on the blogosphere that have made themselves experts in general climate science. And we have to find some way, the IPCC or whatever replaces it has to find some way of giving credibility to their expertise, as well as to the expertise of people who have gone through the Royal Societies of various kinds. I think this whole thing has opened up a huge challenge to the way science is conducted, not just climate science but across the board.

GL- “Could this actually be a seminal moment”?

RH – Yes. And it is “part of the way we learn to cope to the internet“. Establishment behaves “in a normal way” as if the Internet “is not going to shout back at them“, and without thinking they need to deal with a broad public that was “inconceivable to them when they started their career“. “This is going to make me behave differently

Did Global Warming Save Hitler?

Adolf Hitler survived the assassination attempt of 20 July 1944. Why? Three pieces of evidence point the way:

From “The history of the German resistance, 1933-1945” by Peter Hoffmann, p655):

…the briefing conference was normally held in a bunker and…on 20 July only it was held in a flimsy hut owing to the heat

From Wikipedia:

Hitler would have been killed had any of the three other scenarios occurred:
* both bombs detonated;
* the meeting was held inside Hitler’s bunker;
* the briefcase was not moved.

From the IPCC AR4 WG-I SPM (*) p7

At continental, regional and ocean basin scales, numerous long-term changes in climate have been observed. These include changes in arctic temperatures and ice, widespread changes in precipitation amounts, ocean salinity, wind patterns and aspects of extreme weather including droughts, heavy precipitation, heat waves and the intensity of tropical cyclones..

A panel has been convened to examine the above. The conclusion is that it is more likely than not that evil Exxon has helped emit greenhouse gases for the one reason of keeping Hitler alive.

(*) IPCC, 2007: Summary for Policymakers. 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.

A Double Whammy Of Global Warming Evidence

Global Warming in New York City
Global Warming in New York City
Global Warming in Vancouver
Global Warming in Vancouver

In The Greenie World, Even Games Need A Threat To Exist

Perish the thought somebody would ever do anything “green” without being threatened by “an elite environmental Swat Force”…

Created as an initial student concept project, City Rain is a puzzle and simulation game based on urban planning and sustainability. Players must rescue cities that are being ‘black listed’ from the World Environment Protection Agency (WEPA) by quickly making decisions to establish and re-organize urban developments that will make cities more sustainable and ‘green’.

In City Rain, you play as a member of an elite environmental Swat Force in charge of restructuring cities, before they are penalized by the World Environment Protection agency. City Rain is an action-packed, yet eco-friendly, green city simulation puzzle.

New (Fun!) Survey Of Global Warming Evidence

This comes from the same area where evidence of global warming has kept accumulating

(video via @ThisIsTrue)

Live Microblogging Of "Evidence-based decision making: who's counting the evidence…" Tonight At UCL

Follow @mmorabito67 for live microblogging of tonight’s UCL event “Evidence-based decision making: who’s counting the evidence…” 5.15pm GMT in London

And here all the notes as written (oldest note first):

  • Starts right on time – speaker gets audience to move closer – who is the speaker? http://myloc.me/3GHcG
  • It was a Sarah now it’s a Peter Piot of IGH presentation Lost In Translation
  • Evidence means many things. ‘Deadly delay’ from science to global action eg tobacco cancer link 1950 Surgeon General 1964 etc
  • Mentions climate change then antiretroviral prophylaxis for AIDS still only 35%
  • Bridges from evidence to policy to implementation importance of clarity
  • Example of condoms and other methods against Aids different efficacy theoretical vs actual
  • Science comms issue incomprehensible language
  • Policy not just based on evidence alone also preferences politics – progress depends on politics
  • Eg Cardoso of Brazil not stopping provision of Aids drugs
  • Don’t compromise on basic principle but need to pressure the right points
  • Mbeki did not follow advice not a problem of missing information
  • Not evidence-based but evidence-informed policy – don’t leave policy to technocrats
  • Implementation: guidelines simple, right costs and allocated resources
  • Community engagement then also dealing with beliefs eg polio vaccine leading to impotence and infertility
  • Sun-tzu quote shown in Chinese- people might have good reason to be suspicious- don’t get to war, yet to understand all people
  • Now director of NICE, Calypso ?, reader specialist in history of global health probs, senior health advisor Malcolm at DFID
  • Room is uncomfortably hot light comes on then fades first panelist
  • Talks of the way NICE works – on verge of dozing off http://myloc.me/3GJS0
  • Not just what evidence but also whose
  • Problem: need policy-relevant evidence making? No, just evidence alone is not enough
  • Work on legitimacy, needs, values and also better processes
  • Second panelist historian issue of who distributes evidence question for students of international health
  • Social comms is key but whose voices are heard what is the effect of power relations? What voices are not been heard?
  • Invites to avoid generalizations at state levels internal imbalances do matter
  • Polio fear not just sex-related -talk to parents -example of Gates’ DVD reinforcing role of religion by selective translation
  • Guy that gist finished seems to have done his field job now last panelist
  • Claims DFID research strategy mentions already what we have been hearing – move to results-based funding
  • 10% research budget for comms – also capacity building – why so little implementation?
  • Bias against operational research still exists – lack of best practices – mentions prob of award funding to institutions
  • Distribution not just to peers even if some academics not naturals at that
  • Experts use opaque language – funding agencies now more cooperative and less technocratic
  • Panel convenes only 15 mins left – my question first on AGW Cassandras
  • Reply is do implementation research, talk to all, be open and engaging, build network of people with same goal even if different reasons
  • Also do not assume nobody is listening maybe their voices must be looked for and helped to gain prominence
  • Experts are sometimes part of the problem eg with infighting – put aside academic debates when not relevant
  • Suggestion from DFID guy is also to start with demo project taking on all declared constraints
  • Excessive engagement? It’s a developmental process
  • Problem of experts writing too much so stiff is not even read
  • Develop interpersonal and negotiation skills too quiet or aggressive – spread understanding of social sciences
  • Risk, statistics, how to read scientific results also important to learn even before uni
  • They are talking about medical education
  • Last question on bias – suggestion is to handle it rather than avoid – engage all stakeholders – vested interests too
  • Excessive passion and involvement can corrupt science – love/hate relationship with private sector – activist when needed
  • One tool is to threaten publicity – also need regulatory based
  • This is the end – climate and population symposium on March 1

Lacis, The IPCC, Simple Physics And Post-normal "Science"

There’s troubles with commenting at the NYT so I will re-post some of my notes to Revkin’s “Does an Old Climate Critique Still Hold up?” here:

(a) Given all the discussion taking place now, and the glaring mistakes obvious to all, it is apparent that nobody has ever read the IPCC report at a meaningful level of detail. A professional editor and a pre-established maximum number of pages should be there for AR5.

(b) I am not sure how to reconcile Dr Hegerl’s statement “We felt Andrew Lacis’ comment reflected that he couldn’t clearly see where statements came from, which is why we strengthened the pointers from the technical sections to the executive summary” with the note to Dr Lacis’ expert comment “Rejected“. Usually, rejected comments are not acted upon.

(c) I’d suggest people drop the “Greenhouse effect is simple physics” argument. Simple physics shows that warm air moves upwards, and a room’s floor is generally colder than its ceiling. However, mountaintops are generally colder than sea-level locations. Why? Because the free atmosphere is a complex system where you can’t just apply simple physics (for a different example: think of anti-oxydants’ wonders in Petri dishes and the failure to translate that into effective anti-aging treatments in the real world)

(d) Call me old-fashioned, but I find “post-normal science” a misnomer (almost, a case of reification). “Post-normal science” is not “science” and should be defined with a more appropriate moniker.

Evidence Of Global Warming Keeps Accumulating

Two Feet or more of Global Warming evidence
Two Feet or more of Global Warming evidence

Beppe Severgnini A Londra

(originariamente pubblicato su ItaliaChiamaItalia)

Italiani all’estero, Severgnini a Londra
“Di fronte a una sala gremita da un centinaio di persone Beppe Severgnini ha presentato il 4 febbraio alla LSE su invito della locale associazione studentesca Italian Society la sua interpretazione del successo del Presidente del Consiglio, on. Silvio Berlusconi.
di Maurizio Morabito, corrispondente di ItaliachiamaItalia da Londra

Il titolo della presentazione (tutta in inglese, per una volta!) era gia’ tutto un programma: «Signor B: An Italian Mirror». Il noto giornalista e blogger del Corriere della Sera voleva insomma chiedere a se stesso e ai presenti se il Presidente Berlusconi sia uno specchio dell’Italia e degli italiani. Ma e’ poi andato anche oltre : il leit-motiv della serata e’ stata infatti la « decostruzione » del Presidente del Consiglio per individuare i fattori che spieghino perche’ a dominare la politica italiana degli ultimi sedici anni sia stato proprio un personaggio come Silvio Berlusconi.

Una parentesi e’ doverosa: a chi va spiegato, il motivo del successo berlusconiano? Evidentemente, a chi non lo ha capito…cioe’, alla stragrande maggiorana di chi vota a sinistra, e in special modo di chi vota Partito Democratico. Da questo punto di vista la pur profonda analisi di Severgnini non e’ sembrata aver particolare successo : gran parte dell’audience e’ sembrata divertirsi alle parole del giornalista gia’ corrispondente da Londra per il Giornale ai tempi di Montanelli, ma non c’e’ stato granche’ segno che abbiano poi colto il senso degli sforzi di Severgnini, e cioe’ l’invito ad andare al di la’ della ingenua illusione che il Presidente Berlusconi abbia vinto tre elezioni perche’ gli italiani sarebbero mezzi imbecilli ignoranti ammaliati da semivestite signorine sui canali TV targati Mediaset.

Eppure Severgnini ha provato a cestinare una tale visione che dire sbagliata e’ dire poco. Ha cominciato quasi in perfetto orario, in un’aula dove e’ stato necessario portare altre sedie visto il successo di pubblico, molto all’inglese con una serie di battute, dichiarando poi di voler capire le cause della dominazione politica del Presidente del Consiglio al di fuori di valutazioni personali e soprattutto di parte (politica).

Ha iniziato parlando del fattore « Umano », di Silvio Berlusconi come specchio della Nazione, leader populista che quindi segue le aspirazioni e i gusti dei votanti facendo loro in pratica « l’occhiolino ». Secondo fattore, quello « Spirituale », con il seguire i precetti della Chiesa Cattolica in maniera almeno ufficiale. Poi un fattore « Bruce Willis », quello cioe’ di una Destra che si e’ fatta con Berlusconi spazio (vedi lottizzazione RAI) in maniera ancora piu’ spregiudicata della gia’ cinicissima Sinistra italiana.

Tocca dunque a un fattore « Truman Show », con la vita che si trasforma in spettacolo televisivo, il conflitto d’interessi, il desiderio di controllare il defluire delle notizie soprattutto a livello dei telegiornali della sera. C’e’ anche un fattore « Zelig » nella capacita’ del Presidente Berlusconi di essere quello che l’interlocutore desideri, ancora meglio di Clinton e Blair, pro-russo con Putin, pro-americano con Obama, pro-israeliano con Netanyahu, etc etc.

Severgnini ha poi parlato di un fattore « Maggie », da Margaret Thatcher, con Silvio Berlusconi capace di mettere insieme un Governo stabile, non in balia dei Sindacati, con figure popolari e rispettate da tutti come il Ministro degli Interni Roberto Maroni ; un fattore « Foot », gioco di parole in inglese con il nome di un vecchio leader laburista e che potremo tradurre come « Zappa » nel senso di zappa che la Sinistra italiana continua da anni a gettarsi sui piedi ; un fattore « Medici », con Silvio Berlusconi che ha trasformato lo Stato in una « Signoria » come quelle rinascimentali ; un fattore « Palio », che riguarda tutti coloro che piu’ che votare per il Presidente Berlusconi, votano contro la Sinistra italiana ; e infine un fattore « Perroncel », dal nome della modella francese che ha conquistato i cuori di mezza squadra del Chelsea ed e’ al momento al centro dell’ultima tranche di scandali sessuali britannici.

Alla fine di tale monologo proferito con dovizia di verve, Severgnini ha accettato di rispondere solo brevissimamente a una serie di domande. Fra le risposte piu’ interessanti, il suo paragonare il Presidente Berlusconi a un mix fra « Peron, Putin e Sinatra « ; l’indicazione che il Berlusconi del futuro sara’ un leader anche digitale e non solo « analogico » ; e il lamentarsi della scarsa sensibilita’ del Presidente del Consiglio di fronte ai possibili danni all’immagine dell’Italia all’estero quando agisce in modi che fanno anche crescere il consenso fra gli Italiani.

Il tutto e’ finito con un regalo dalla Italian Society, chissa’ perche’ un cappello che fa assomigliare Severgnini a un Michael Moore molto dimagrito (se ne sconsiglia vivamente l’uso in pubblico…).

Certo uno puo’ essere d’accordo o no in tutto o in parte con questa analisi della leadership berlusconiana : ma alla fine lo stesso Severgnini deve essersi reso conto di aver titillato la maggior parte del pubblico ma solo in maniera superficiale, ritrovandosi a dover sottolineare che anche gli aspetti piu’ piccanti della vita pubblica del Presidente del Consiglio vanno analizzati seriamente e non con le solite risatine e sguardi verso il cielo. L’impressione e’ stata proprio che l’uditorio non-berlusconiano non sia capace di muoversi oltre un generico e cieco odio contro la figura del Presidente Berlusconi, neanche se invitato ad andare oltre da un giornalista di indubbia intelligenza, capacita’ di analisi e di presentazione delle proprie idee e a cui Berlusconi non sta certo molto simpatico.

Se, come dice Severgnini, in tanti ancora si trastullano con Beppe Grillo con l’idea che in Italia ci sia un ristretto gruppo di cattivoni con a capo il Presidente del Consiglio, e cinquanta milioni di pecorelle che attendono con ansia di essere salvate, non sembra esserci molto da sperare per il futuro del dibattito politico (anche fra gli Italiani a Londra).

Why The IPCC Cannot Survive – Qui Fama Ferit Fama Perit

“Qui Fama Ferit Fama Perit” is Latin for  “He who lives by reputation, die by reputation

(the below has been inspired by “The Future is Another Country” on the “Marc Roberts cartoon” blog)

The number of big and little mistakes surfacing up day in and day out and known with various terms including “Gate du Jour” is fatally undermining the very idea of the IPCC, not necessarily for the most obvious reasons. You see, it’s a matter of square science pegs and round policy holes… Continue reading