Heaven To Hell

With apologies to Joel Pett…

What if it's a big hoax
What if it's a big hoax

A better world? You wish. As Karl  Popper once remarked, “Those who promise us paradise on earth never produced anything but a hell“‬‪.

Conflict Of Interest, Data and Funding Hiding, Flimsy and Misleading Claims…

…is that nowadays de rigueur for the average alarmist paper or what?

(the following is a version of a letter recently sent by Walter Starck to PNAS; republished with the author’s consent)

19 March 2010

To:
Randy Schekman
Editor-in-Chief
PNAS
pnas@nas.edu

From:
Walter Starck
Australia

Re:
McCook, L.J., et al. 2010. Marine Reserves Special Feature: Adaptive management of the Great Barrier Reef. PNAS 2010 : 0909335107v1-200909335.

The above referenced study presents a number of concerns:

• The most serious concern is a major conflict of interest involving all of the 21 authors.

It should be noted that the lead author is employed by the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) and all of the 20 additional authors are either employed by them or are recipients of substantial funding from them. It is incongruous in the extreme that all these employees and repeated recipients of generous GBRMPA funding, could, “…declare no conflict of interest” when they are in fact assessing the benefits of their own work and that of the organisation which supports them.

Combined with the rather unrestrained positive spin on the benefits and cost effectiveness achieved by GBRMPA management, the appearance of this report is that of a promotion piece which the most productive and respected beneficiaries of their research funding have been invited to endorse. In such case, it would have been very difficult for them to decline or to offer much objection to the claims made. At the same time, their names and status would provide credibility and deterrence of criticism while greatly increasing the prospect of acceptance for publication in a prestigious journal such as PNAS.

• In addition, on PNAS “Authors must acknowledge all funding sources supporting the work”. There appears to be no such disclosure in this study.

• PNAS papers must also, “…make materials, data, and associated protocols available to readers

McCook et al. state that, “Another important observation emerging from this review is the extent of relevant data that are not published or readily accessible. A full picture of the effects and effectiveness of zoning on the GBR has required extensive use of gray literature, previously unpublished data, and collation of separate data sources”. GBRMPA has been the sponsor of most of the research cited and, through the permit system, they exercise control over the terms of all other research conducted there. They are also a major publisher of GBR literature, both scientific and non-technical. The extent to which relevant data is not published or readily accessible is their direct responsibility.

As the data referred to for this review has obviously been assembled, why has it not been made available?

• The major claim of a doubling of fish on protected reefs appears to rest on a single example.

This is inconsistent with abundant other evidence including that which is presented in the report itself. Only one reef area of the 8 featured in the report showed a 2-fold increase and that area had the lowest level to begin and lowest difference between fished and unfished reefs. In 5 of the 8 areas featured in the report the protected reefs actually showed a decline in coral trout numbers. On fished reefs, three areas showed increases in biomass while 5 showed declines. This is hardly the “extraordinary” 2-fold increase in protected areas being bannered.

• McCook et al. state, “The economic value of a healthy GBR to Australia is enormous, currently estimated to be about A$5.5 billion annually….Relative to the revenue generated by reef tourism, current expenditure on protection is minor…Tourism accounts for the vast majority of reef-based income and employment. …income from tourism is estimated to be about 36 times greater than commercial fishing“. These claims are highly misleading.

The economic value cited includes the total value for all tourism in the region when half of all tourists do not even visit the reef. For those who do, the reef component of the large majority is a one day, one time participation in a reef tour and the value of reef tours is similar to the value of commercial fishing. If one also considers the economic value of recreational fishing, retail fish sales and seafood meals in restaurants, the total value of fishing is closer to twice that of reef tours.

In addition, the reef tour industry regularly uses only about 2 dozen out of the 2500 reefs of the GBR and, on those which are used, the actual area visited would only be about 1% of the area of even those reefs. Unfished reefs to optimize scenic value for tourism could easily coexist with an order of magnitude greater fishing effort, and no detriment at all to tourism. The attribution of total tourism value to the reef is no more justifiable than attributing it to the similar numbers who visit the rainforest or who eat seafood meals while visiting the region.

Such claims have been repeatedly made by GBRMPA and would, if used by a business, constitute violations of advertising and corporate law. To see it done repeatedly and included in a report in a leading scientific journal is a sad indictment of GBRMPA sponsored science as well as basic honesty.

• Babcock et al., 2010 (in another study published in PNAS on the same day as McCook et al.) also examined the ecological effects of marine protected areas. However, this report is much more widely based geographically and longer term.

Although the observed effects were generally positive, they were decidedly less large, rapid, extensive, and uniformly positive than those reported for the GBR. All of them also involved areas subject to much greater fishing pressure than the GBR. One might reasonably expect that increased protection for the least impacted areas would result in a less marked beneficial effect rather than the much more widespread rapid and dramatic benefits claimed by McCook et al.

For example, Babcock et al., “…found that the time to initial detection of direct effects on target species … was 5.13 ± 1.9 years…”. Note that this was the time to initial detection, not the even longer time required to reach a doubling of population. When compared to the much greater effects claimed for the GBR over two years, the latter do indeed appear to be “extraordinary”.

• Various key claims are contradicted by other more extensive work by the same researchers with no acknowledgment or discussion of this.

In reading over McCook et al., some 40 such discrepancies were noted and more detailed examination would surely reveal more. However, without going further it should be clear that PNAS has been badly used. The serious and obvious conflict of interest alone can neither be ignored nor credibly explained away. If not addressed, it makes a farce of the declaration of no conflict. It alone must surely be more than sufficient grounds to retract this study. Although doing this may be unpleasant it would be far less damaging than to try to examine and defend all of the sad and disreputable details.

Coming at a time when public credibility in science is being seriously eroded by ongoing revelations of malpractice in what the public was assured was irrefutable fact and settled science regarding climate change, these “extraordinary” (their own description) claims regarding the GBR are well positioned to become a “Reefgate”. This is especially so in that a key claim in this report and widely made elsewhere, is that a major benefit of protected areas on reefs is the increased resilience they provide against climate change.

Although controversy regarding the management of the GBR may appear of minor public interest from a U.S. perspective, it will be national news here in Australia and PNAS could find itself very much involved in a most difficult to defend position should prompt and decisive action not be taken.

A public release on all this will be made here in the near future. Whatever the decision of PNAS, it would be better made sooner than later.

Sincerely,

Walter Starck

Why I Will Not Turn The Lights Off For Earth Hour

I will not turn the lights off for “Earth Hour“.

Why?

Because I don’t want this to happen. And even if it will happen, still I will be the last one standing with a house full of lighting.

Earth Hour? No, thanks
"Earth Hour"? No, thanks

UPDATE: Meanwhile, in North Korea

"Better Act Now" Than Being Sorry Later? or The Economist vs. The Titanic

Insuring against catastrophe“, proclaims The Economist after publishing an article that just a few weeks ago would have been at the receiving end of sorts of insults by climate talibans:

Plenty of uncertainty remains; but that argues for, not against, action. If it were known that global warming would be limited to 2°C, the world might decide to live with that. But the range of possible outcomes is huge, with catastrophe one possibility, and the costs of averting climate change are comparatively small. Just as a householder pays a small premium to protect himself against disaster, the world should do the same.

The Economist is wrong.

If you want to insure yourself against catastrophe, surely the very first thing you want to do is to make sure that the end result won’t be worse than the catastrophe you’re trying to avoid.

Take for example what happened with the unsinkable Titanic. It is very likely that, had the crew just slowed down the ship without trying to turn it to avoid the iceberg, four or fewer compartments would have been flooded, and the whole sinking avoided with everybody on board surviving the accident. First Officer Murdoch simply didn’t think about the consequences of some of his actions. The cost of trying to avert the iceberg was as high as losing more the fifteen hundred lives.

And so just like with the famous liner, even if we believe he environment is soon going to crush against some disaster of an iceberg, still we can’t simply decide to do something for the sake of doing something. Uncertainty doesn’t necessarily argue for action.

Now, if only we could get the climate debate to a reasonable level, things would be a tad simpler than they are.

The National Trust Wants You To Emit Greenhouse Gases

Attack of the Killer Orange Groves? The Day of The Palm Triffids? London’s California Horror?

Apart from being scientifically flawed in the extreme (with an ocean next door, one should compare Britain to Portugal, not Sicily or Greece), the latest attempt by the National Trust to “highlight how gardens will look if global warming brings Mediterranean weather to Britain in the next few decades” might turn into a PR disaster.

People are spending thousands of pounds every year to get from Britain to somewhere sunny, and the thought of having it all at home might as well entice a good increase in GHG emissions…

National Trust: Britain today
National Trust: Heavenly (?) Britain today
National Trust: Britain today
National Trust: Hellish (??) Britain +2C
National Trust: Britain today
National Trust: Hellish (????) Britain +4C

Notably, Monbiot himself made a similar point a few weeks ago

Embarrassing "Skeptical Science" or The Return Of The Aristotelians

I was meaning to write about the cringe-inducing website called “Skeptical Science” and today’s Revkin’s piece at dotEarth finally pushed me forward.

I feel embarrassment for John Cook, Skeptical Science author, for two reasons (neither concerning his rather disturbing photograph). First of all the very existence of such a site seems to be a loud scream at all that has gone wrong with the IPCC. If Mr Cook feels it necessary to spend as much time as he does on the topic, obviously he should be the first one to agree that the IPCC has been a communication failure.

(not that he’s really any better himself at that: by stating that “eventually, the scientific reality will be so in our faces that inaction will be impossible“, Cook is confirming that “the scientific realityis currently notso in our faces” as his scholarly lists of scientific papers appear to suggest)

The second reason I find Skeptical Science a disaster is that all it is ever going to tell us is that AGW is a self-consistent theory and there has been plenty of papers written on the topic. That can only highlight what will forever be missing: the science that was prevented to be published, the open questions, the competing claims within AGW orthodoxy.

In fact, one of the comments at dotEarth (#15) pretty much reveals the kind of person that would find the Skeptical Science site of high interest. The point is not to understand the world as it is, but to accumulate evidence for one’s own rationalization of what the world is presumed to be. Hence no space for any doubt whatsoever of any sort, not even for competing AGW interpretations, let alone for non-orthodox scientists (by definition, their work is “crap“).

Simplicius (*) would have been proud of that. “Science” it is not.

(*) the defender of the Aristotelian (geocentric) view of the world in Galileo’s “Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems

Nature's Weakness – Scientific Magazines' Reputation Sadly Overrated

Horrified by Nature’s idiotic editorial trying to rally the troops for a street fight? Worry no more…the esteemed British scientific magazine is not new to egregious errors, such as showing no interest in the discovery of the Krebs Cycle (in 1937) and rejecting outright the evidence for pre Cambrian complex lifeforms (1946).

Perhaps the scientists of the XXII century will have learned that reputation means truly nothing, in the realms of proper science. Especially after the invention of marketing.

Model Slaves A Common Feature At NASA

(Don’t miss out on the bonus atmospheric reference at the bottom of this blog)

Should computer modeling be banned from NASA premises? Recent grandiose public statements may suggest as much.

March 1, 2010: NASA.gov: “Chilean Quake May Have Shortened Earth Days

The Feb. 27 magnitude 8.8 earthquake in Chile may have shortened the length of each Earth day.

JPL research scientist Richard Gross computed how Earth’s rotation should have changed as a result of the Feb. 27 quake. Using a complex model, he and fellow scientists came up with a preliminary calculation that the quake should have shortened the length of an Earth day by about 1.26 microseconds (a microsecond is one millionth of a second).

Perhaps more impressive is how much the quake shifted Earth’s axis. Gross calculates the quake should have moved Earth’s figure axis (the axis about which Earth’s mass is balanced) by 2.7 milliarcseconds (about 8 centimeters, or 3 inches). Earth’s figure axis is not the same as its north-south axis; they are offset by about 10 meters (about 33 feet).

March 4, 2010: ASI (Italian Space Agency)’s Space Geodesy Centre in Matera, Italy – since 2004, the Official Primary Combination Centre for the International Laser Ranging Service (ILRS): “The earthquake in Chile and the polar axis: analysis from our centre in Matera

Using data from the International Laser Ranging Service, the global system which uses lasers to measure, with millimetre resolution, the distance between a network of stations on Earth and reflectors on satellites, the ASI Space Geodesy Centre in Matera[…]  calculated the residual motion of the pole in comparison with values from immediately before the earthquake. Preliminary results do not show significant disparities, i.e. greater than one millisecond of arc, equivalent to about three centimetres.

March 11, 2010: NASA.gov: “Did the Chilean Quake Shift Earth’s Axis?

On Feb. 27, 2010, the Chilean quake may have moved the figure axis as much in a matter of minutes as it normally moves in a whole year. It was a truly seismic shift—no pun intended. So far, however, it’s all calculation and speculation. “We haven’t actually measured the shift,” says Gross. “But I intend to give it a try.” The key is GPS.

[…] The stage is set for discovery. “Computing power is at an all-time high. Our models of tides, winds and ocean currents have never been better. And the orientation of the Chilean fault favors a stronger signal.” In a few months Gross hopes to have the answer. Stay tuned.

A dime to the first person that will make Dr Gross acquainted with ILRS!

ps Check out how doubt-free NASA’s outreach has been on the topic

Why did the earthquake in Chile shorten the day? As I explained previously in the chat, the earthquake in Chile caused the mass of the Earth to shift, which caused the figure axis (the axis about which the mass of the Earth is balanced) to change. This change in the mass of the Earth caused a changed in the rotation rate of the Earth, making it speed up slightly, thus shortening the day.

pps Finally, an atmospheric bonus…here’s how ASI explained their results being different from NASA’s

This evaluation differs from those obtained using theoretical models of the planet (such as the one produced by the Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, California) which can estimate the extent of a shift on the basis of geophysical and seismological data. This is the type of calculation used in meteorological forecasts, which are based on data observed before a particular date and on theoretical models of how atmospheric phenomena develop.

And of course they are.

Sisma Cile, Scienziati dell’Agenzia Spaziale Italiana smentiscono la Nasa

(originariamente pubblicato su ItaliaChiamaItalia)

‘Il movimento tellurico avrebbe spostato l’asse terrestre e modificato la durata del giorno sulla Terra. Tutto vero? Sembra proprio di no…’

di Maurizio Morabito

Fra i grossi titoloni dopo il terremoto in Cile del mese scorso, campeggiavano anche le affermazioni del prestigiosissimo Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) della NASA a Pasadena (California) secondo il quale addirittura il movimento tellurico avrebbe spostato l’asse terrestre e modificato la durata del giorno sulla Terra. Tutto vero? Sembra proprio di no, in base alle precisissime osservazioni del Centro di Geodesia Spaziale (CGS) dell’Agenzia Spaziale Italiana a Matera.

E’ una storia questa che speriamo faccia capire l’importanza di differenziare fra i calcoli teorici e le misurazioni del mondo reale. E’ stato infatti proprio sulla base di modelli al calcolatore che il team statunitense capeggiato da Richard Gross del JPL ha annunciato all’inizio di marzo come l’enorme spostamento di masse all’interno del pianeta in occasione del sisma cileno avrebbe portato a un accorciamento del giorno di 1,26 milionesimi di secondo, e spostato l’asse di rotazione di ben 8 centimetri. Nessuna conseguenza avvertibile nella vita quotidiana, ma a pochi anni da effetti di simile magnitudine dopo il terremoto di Natale del 2004 a Sumatra, abbastanza da richiamare l’attenzione riguardo una Terra che almeno apparentemente spesso si sposterebbe di qua e di la’.

Affermazioni quelle di Gross che fanno il giro del mondo. Cosa che purtroppo non succede invece con chi il pianeta lo misura effettivamente, e non solo nella memoria di un supercomputer che per quanto veloce non puo’ sostituire la realta’. Il 4 marzo esce infatti in sordina e in inglese un comunicato a firma Giuseppe Bianco del CGS, un centro italiano che da Matera e’ ufficialmente riferimento mondiale nelle straordinariamente precise misurazioni laser della posizione del pianeta Terra (lo International Laser Ranging Service, ILRS).

Bianco conferma che “come per ogni evento che produce un movimento di massa della Terra, il recente terremoto estremamente violento in Cile ha anche causato uno spostamento dell’asse terrestre di inerzia rispetto al suo asse di rotazione”. Pero’, continua Bianco,”occorre rilevare che movimenti molto più grandi si verificano di continuo, soprattutto come il risultato di una circolazione atmosferica ed oceanica”.

E cosa dicono i laser dell’ILRS? “I risultati preliminari non mostrano differenze significative, vale a dire superiori […] a circa tre centimetri”. Cosa e’ successo, dunque? La NASA ha parlato troppo presto? “Questa valutazione si differenzia da quelle ottenute con i modelli teorici del pianeta (come quella prodotta dal Jet Propulsion Lab di Pasadena, California), che possono valutare la portata di uno spostamento sulla base dei dati geofisici e sismologici. Questo è il tipo di calcolo utilizzati per le previsioni meteorologiche, che si basano su dati osservati prima di una data particolare, e sui modelli teorici di come si sviluppino i fenomeni atmosferici”.

Sarebbe facile fare dell’ironia dunque sul come tutto cio’ spieghi alcune diciamo cosi’ “imprecisioni” nelle previsioni del tempo. Una cosa e’ comunque certa: il messaggio da Matera e’ che anche i supercomputer della NASA, nel loro piccolo, possono sbagliare. E sbagliano

A Dangerous Venue For AGW Skeptics?

Please do not show up wearing your Exxon badge!!

A rising tide of lies, ignorance and disinformation on climate change… where is it coming from?
Start: 14 Apr 2010, 6:30 pm
Where:
TBC

PUBLIC MEETING

Wednesday 14th April, 6:30pm, location to be confirmed

Speakers including…

David Adam, Environmental Correspondent from the Guardian
Ben Stewart, Greenpeace
George Marshall, COIN – Climate Outreach and Information Network (founder)

plus more to be announced

Who are the “sceptics” or “deniers” , how are they organised, who is paying them? Is it true that theirs is the message that people most want to hear and why? What can we do to fight back? These questions and more… hear some answers and bring your own…

1970s Global Cooling Consensus Not A Myth – The Unassailable Argument

There are still many otherwise learned and reasonable people fooling themselves into thinking that the “1970s Global Cooling consensus” was a myth.  No matter how much they try to massage historical evidence, the evident truth is that they are mistaken.

In the 1970s (I am not saying, for the whole decade) there was a consensus about global cooling. How is such a conclusion reached? By asking the right question.

In fact, the very reason the question is asked is because it is relevant to the world of today.  Some have publicly declared that their skepticism on catastrophical Global Warming is based on their memories about catastrophical Global Cooling sometimes in the 1970s. Much is being done about Newsweek or New York Times articles of the time. The issue concerns therefore what we of 2010 would call a meme, and a popular one at that since it appeared and was propagated in general-interest newspapers and magazines.

That pretty much invalidates nerdy analyses of the scientific literature of the time, hardly a primary source of popular memes. Besides, one suspects it was far easier to publish a work on warming despite the underlying acceptance by prominent scientists of global cooling: surely at the time there was nothing remotely resembling the climategate gang, bent on preventing publication to anything challenging their beliefs. Fabricated unanimities just did not exist.

Hence the right question to ask is: did people sometimes in the 1970s live under the impression that there was a scientific consensus on Global Cooling? Note once again: it is a matter of impressions, not of some kind of unperceived reality.

Take this example: when Napoleon abdicated at Fontainebleau on 11 April 1814, all big political guns in Europe were under the impression that he was finished. Of course we know now that it wasn’t true (Napoleon escaped from his Elba prison 10 months later, and came tantalizingly close to win back his power in full).

Was there in 1814 a consensus that Napoleon was a defeated man? Yes. Was he? No, as far as we understand.  Yes, as far as contemporaries understood.

Likewise for Global Cooling…we have for a fact that world temperatures have not been declining in the last 30-40 years (rather, the opposite has happened). We also know that not every scientist in the 1970s believed in Global Cooling. And yet…for a person of 1974/1975 with an average scientific interest for example, the consensus on Global Cooling was a fact of life. Why, even the CIA did not hesitate to describe such a consensus, and to organize a scientific conference about it.

History is like a foreign country…the only way to understand it is to respect it, and to be careful when dealing with it. Unfortunately, in the heated world of the AGW believer, respect and care are seldom to be found.

BBC More Confused Than Birds About Climate Change

Are milder winters good for wildlife? Yes? No? Who knows? Certainly, nobody would know it were the BBC the main source of information…

Latest: Mar 19, 2010: “The harsh winter in Britain may have had a devastating impact on wildlife, particularly on birds like the kingfisher“. But on May 28, 2003: “increases in spring temperatures in temperate areas of Europe” mean “long-range migrant birds ‘in peril’“, even if “short-haul migrational birds could benefit“.

And if on Nov 3, 2005, “scientists showed that migration and breeding of the great tit, puffin, red admiral and other creatures are moving out of step with food supplies“, on May 8, 2008, as already reported here, “great tits cope well with warming“. Didn’t they know? On Dec 19, 2001, Alex Kirby had written “The populations of some common wild bird species in the UK are at their highest in more than a decade. Woodland birds and several rare species are also doing better than they have. […] Scientists say mild winter weather helped many species“.

On the other hand, wasn’t it on Aug 12, 2000 that we were told that “the hunters say the drop in grouse populations during the past two years was mainly due to an unusually wet summer in 1998 and a mild winter in 1999“?

The overall impression is of course that few at the BBC (or amongst the esteemed scientists and various interviewees for several years) understand about the topic they are writing about, so they end up contributing to an absolutely confused mess where too much uncritical reporting demonstrates everything and its opposite.

If one waits long enough, literally anything will appear on the BBC News website on matters of climate.

ps Nature presenter Bill Oddie is reported on March 25, 2005 as saying “When I was a lad we had ‘proper’ winters and spring started in April. Now that seems a thing of the past“. I guess Mr Oddie must be happy by now, alongside a Herefordshire farmer who warned on Nov 11, 2006 of a shortage of blackcurrant squash and jam” linked to (of course!) mild winters.

Twitter Galore: Monbiot, Journalistic Distortions And Lack Of Excitement

A quick set of notes and links, mostly acquired via Twitter:

NB: all opinions expressed below in bold italic are mine, not necessarily the original author’s

====

AGWers as the unwitting enemies of science:

Seth Sicroff in “On crying “Himalayan Meltdown!!!”

For years, Ives has been warning that the habit of distortion and exaggeration was undermining both science and development. […] Ives has not denied that deforestation, GLOFs, and glacial thinning are problems. He has simply argued that in many cases there is insufficient evidence to establish causalities and projections, and that the misidentification of a crisis or a pseudo-crisis as a supercrisis not only wastes limited resources but also undermines the credibility of science in general. And, coincidentally, Ives has repeatedly singled out Fred Pearce of the New Scientist as a purveyor of unsubstantiated mega-disaster scenarios. Well, those chickens have come home to roost.

====

Climate change is boring, boring, boring. More boring than scary:

Gregory M. Lamb, Christian Science Monitor / March 15, 2010 in “As Climate Change debate wages on, scientists turn to Hollywood for help

Today’s climate story is often framed as a sober warning, not as an exciting adventure. Some of that is by necessity. “It’s important for the public to know that scientists are coming across this evidence [of climate change] – it’s real evidence – that there may be some disagreements among the details but that doesn’t negate the entire picture,” Semper says. But the effort to better understanding earth’s climate is also exciting, a message that has been lost, he says. “The scientific questions are absolutely fascinating.”

=====

Whose “malpractice”? Whose “lie”?

My comment to Coturnix – A Blog Around The Clock in “Science Journalism must-reads of the day

I find it really telling that of the people now decrying how badly the Daily Mail has reported Dr Jones’ statements, not even one was around when the very same Daily Mail fabricated a story on drowning polar bears.

Journalists able to denounce “malpractice” only when it collides with their beliefs are not showing much in the way of professionalism. They are part of the story and their reporting therefore all the less interesting in a journalistic sense.

========

No surprise here: cherry picking on polar bears…

MSNBC: “Arctic winners, losers tied to climate – Survey finds drop in wildlife closest to North Pole“, updated 5:36 p.m. ET March 17, 2010

On polar bears, the iconic species of the Arctic, the report only had numbers for the population in Canada’s western Hudson Bay: a decline from 1,200 in the mid-1980s to fewer than 900 in 2004.

========

Another year, another “save the environment” Polar expedition:

Scare, swim, struggles on Arctic trek – Track Eric Larsen’s expeditions to both poles and Everest

========

Meanwhile, in la-la-land….:

Shauna Marlette in “USD Forum Discusses Effects Of ‘Global Warming’

“What people need to remember is that weather is not climate,” Sweeney said during his presentation. “Weather is the current state of the atmosphere — hot or cold, wet or dry, calm or stormy. The weather of one year does not change the average conditions over time.”

========

A few voices of reason, even (amazingly!) from the AGW side:

Pete Geddes in “What’s Next for Climate Change?

Gwyn Prins, of the London School of Economics, who observes: “Worthwhile policy builds upon what we know works and upon what is feasible rather than trying to deploy never-before implemented policies through complex institutions requiring a hitherto unprecedented and never achieved degree of global political alignment.”

========

In case we needed further proof of complexity of climate response:

From Wordclimatereport.com, “Problems with the Permafrost?“, March 17, 2010

“It is unclear how permafrost will respond to a warmer climate: a recent discovery of ancient permafrost that survived several warm geological periods suggests that vegetation cover may help protect permafrost from climate warming…However, higher air temperature does not necessarily lead to higher soil temperature: it has been demonstrated that increases in air temperature sometimes lead to vegetation changes that offset the effect of air warming on soil temperature.”

========

Monbiot gets surrounded by skeptics of all sorts:

Jonathon Porritt in “The war of words over home-produced electricity feed-in tariffs could cost dearly

As one or two bloggers have already pointed out, if [Monbiot]’s got it this badly wrong on feed-in tariffs, what’s to say he hasn’t got it equally wrong on other critical issues?

========

Some people “get it” but only in part:

My comment to Matthew C. Nisbet’s Slate article “Chill Out – Climate scientists are getting a little too angry for their own good

There’s plenty of positives to be taken from Nisbet’s article but…why oh why couldn’t he complete his reasoning? What is the point of asking to get away from a “bunker mentality” and to create “a public dialogue on climate change” if Nisbet himself is stuck in the obsolete frame of mind of scientists being on one side, and skeptics on the other?

Never mind the silly idea of “skeptics” being at work to “erode the trust” in science. There are many that would say the opposite: it’s scandals like climategate and the bunker mentality of certain climate scientists, what really risks eroding the trust in science.

There are plenty of shades of grey in-between belief in the IPCC and complete skepticism of global warming, let alone anthropogenic global warming. Until those are recognized, first of all by people such as Mr Nisbet, I am afraid all we are going to get is further politicization.

=========

And finally…AGW as a dumb green idea indeed:

Shea Gunther in “The danger of being hysterically green

We can’t waste our time on dumb green ideas. A green idea is dumb if it has no chance of really happening and just stands to turn off a lot of people to the cause when they hear it. An idea can have the best of intentions and ideals behind it and still be a dumb one, a lot of the times it’s the ones with the best of intentions and ideals that end up being the dumbest.

Plenty Of Questions About Sahil’s Kidnapping

There is very little that makes sense in Sahil Saeed’s kidnapping. The fact that he has been well treated and freed relatively quickly points towards one or more family friends or acquaintances as having been involved, up to a point obviously (otherwise the boy would have risked recognizing them).

The amount paid for a ransom is simply too little to justify a complex operation involving people in Pakistan and Spain, with some of them traveling to Paris. If the five arrested so far were all involved, plus another five or so in Pakistan including one person to take care of the boy, one family friend or acquaintance, plus three or more armed kidnappers,  we reach a total of 10 people, all risking giant jail sentences for £11,000 each.

For the same reason one can discount the possibility of some of the kidnappers being the same people arrested in France and Spain…at levels like those outlined above, even a £500 airline ticket becomes too heavy a cost, not to mention the Barcelona apartment.

If I were to let my imagination run wild, I would think of some kind of business vendetta against Sahil’s father. Let’s see how things evolve…

AGW Not Blamed For Record-Breaking Weather Event

No dust devil has been seen this far from the equator at such an early season before. Is the planet warming up? Why doesn’t anybody blame humans?

After all, there’s been a number of artificial vehicles polluting the place for several years now.

"Huge Puzzle…On A Planet Where We Thought We Know Everything"

NASA Finds Shrimp Beneath Antarctica Ice – 600 Feet Below Antarctic Ice Where Nothing Complex Should Live, NASA Catches A Curious Shrimp

Of course this will soon to be shown to mean scientists have grossly overestimated the amount of CO2 in the past, that it’s worse than we thought, and that climate change is pushing curious shrimps and foot-long jellyfish on the edge of extinction.

On The Brutality Of "Nature" – A Response To "Climate Of Fear"

(this has been sent to Nature via e-mail earlier today)

Dear Nature Editors

Thank you very much for showing your true, climate-integralist colours in the cringe-inducing “Climate of fear” editorial (Nature 464, 141 (11 March 2010) | doi :10.1038/464141a; Published online 10 March 2010).

We can’t but take notice that at the time when some scientists have apparently managed for years to keep non-orthodox climate science papers away from printed and online peer-reviewed journals, one of those very journals has remarkably decided to join the “street fight”, as if that represented any change for the better from the previous routine.

Go ahead then, pick up your worthy opponents. Will there be any good coming out of Nature becoming the home of motivational speeches for climate hooligans? What an undignified spectacle that would be. Luckily, the planet will not take much notice, and hopefully neither will the general public, and those scientists and people interested like us all in learning the world as it is, rather than through the distorting lenses of misdirected, alarmist activisms.

“Scientists must not be so naive as to assume that the data speak for themselves”. Indeed. Neither should they fall for the hubris of drowning and disregarding those very same data in a sea of pre-packaged ideologies. In Canto XXVI of Inferno in Dante’s Divine Comedy, the character of Ulysses is made to describe what the quest for knowledge should be about:

Ye were not form’d to live the life of brutes,

But virtue to pursue and knowledge high.

Too bad you have opted to “live the life of brutes” instead.

Teodoro Georgiadis – senior scientist – biometeorology
Luigi Mariani – professor – agrometeorology
Guido Guidi – meteorologist
Alessandra Nucci – journalist
Tore Cocco
Maurizio Morabito – blogger – Omniclimate

The Weakest Argument For Global Warming…

…is the one inanely repeated on the website of the San Francisco Chronicle by Dr Peter Gleick, “President, Pacific Institute“.

Those who deny that humans are causing unprecedented climate change have never, ever produced an alternative scientific argument that comes close to explaining the evidence we see around the world that the climate is changing

Gleick’s argument could be classified as a form of “weak thought“. However, the history of Science should have taught him better. For example, the same identical words could have been uttered for most of the 18th century about the now-rejected theory of phlogiston. There really was nothing better to explain why things would burn: and so the whole field of Chemistry was held back for a century by a false scientific theory.

Another highly risky and wholly wrong theory threatened to slow down the progress of Physics and Astronomy a hundred years later: luminiferous aether. We should just be thankful to Einstein for having got rid of it, but obviously by his time the vast majority of scientists did not believe in aether any longer despite the absence of “an alternative scientific argument” coming “close to explaining the evidence“.

Another issue with Gleick’s argument is that is says nothing at all about the gravity and urgency of the Global Warming issue: and that is exactly where the discussion is, among reasonable people that don’t want to follow extremists like Romm or Monckton.

“City Brights”? Only on a sunny day…

Arctic Sea Ice: What Good The Climate Models?

Fanfare on The Guardian’s “Fact are sacred” DataBlog for the publication of a graph-cum-spreadsheet about Arctic sea ice: “Scientists are fighting back over climate change. Get the data behind the latest battle – and see how we visualised it“. (*)

A major Met Office review of more than 100 scientific studies tracking the observed changes in the Earth’s climate system finds that it is an “increasingly remote possibility” that human activity is not the main cause of climate change

Wow!

It’s just such a pity the figures provided don’t show much beyond scientists being vaguely able to devise models where Arctic sea ice decreases as it has been doing for a while (hardly the information you need to have a PhD to understand). Continue reading Arctic Sea Ice: What Good The Climate Models?

Poor Overall Quality Of BBC Science Pages – Not Just Climate Change

Interesting to see Ben Goldacre (here and here) and then Paul Bradshaw (here) complain about the BBC’s “bizarre” policy of linking to “journal homepages, and university homepages” rather than to the actual article being discussed. Goldacre:

there are the many serious problems raised by linking to university homepages (eg glasgow.ac.uk) and journal homepages, instead of specific research. They leave it completely ambiguous as to what piece of research was being described, often there is insufficient information in the news article to identify it, often time has passed and it is unclear what issue of the journal someone should be looking in

One of Bradshaw’s points might sound very familiar with people interested to understand climate change beyond the catastrophical rubbish so often mentioned as “science”:

Authoritative, accurate and attractive coverage relies at least in part in allowing users to point out issues with scientific research or its reporting

It is very unlikely the BBC will change its attitude…the Corporation is not built to correct itself based on readers’ comments. Still, people can vote with their mouse, and follow the lead of award-winning science writer Ed Yong (@edyong209):

Just unfollowed the BBC Science pages. What’s the point? Bland, linkless coverage. Times, Wired, NYT, Nature all far better.

Al Gore Suffers A Case Of Inconvenient Translation

Funny episode around the world’s preferred Oscar+Nobel AGWer…

As reported in a blog by Piero Vietti of Italian daily “Il Foglio, Al Gore’s NYT Op-ed about (not) wishing away climate change has been slightly “censored” when translated by Rome-based uberwarmist newspaper “La Repubblica. The problem? Most likely, excessive mysticism on the part of the former VP.

Here’s the original:

Their most consistent theme is to label as “socialist” any proposal to reform exploitive behavior in the marketplace. From the standpoint of governance, what is at stake is our ability to use the rule of law as an instrument of human redemption. After all has been said and so little done, the truth about the climate crisis — inconvenient as ever — must still be faced. The pathway to success is still open, though it tracks the outer boundary of what we are capable of doing.

This is the translation:

Il loro tema costante consiste nell’etichettare come “socialista” qualunque proposta di riformare i comportamenti basati sullo sfruttamento. La strada verso il successo è ancora aperta.

The translation corresponds roughly to the following text:

Their constant theme is to label as “socialist” any proposal to reform exploitive behaviors. The road to success is still open.

Perhaps, to left-leaning Italian readers of La Repubblica all calls for “human redemption” simply resonate too much as Papal exhortations. And some people still claim that AGW doesn’t look like a religion?

La Stazione Spaziale Internazionale Transita Su Londra Nella Costellazione di Orione

Questa e’ la Stazione Spaziale Internazionale che transita il 7 marzo verso le 19:00 tra le stelle Alnitak (a sinistra) e Alnilam (a destra) in Orione sopra Londra.

La ISS in Orione
La ISS in Orione

Sorprendentemente, e’ possibile fare queste riprese con macchine fotografiche poco costose, e tenute in mano.

International Space Station Transiting Between Alnitak And Alnilam In Orion Tonight

This is the International Space Station transiting on March 7 around 7pm between Alnitak (to the left) and Alnilam (to the right) in Orion up in the London skies

ISS in Orion
ISS in Orion

Amazingly, it is possible to take pictures like this with a hand-held Nikon costing far less than £100.

Giorgio Napolitano, Un Uomo Solo Al Comando

Le reazioni al Salvaliste mi ricordano l’atmosfera che regnava in Europa alla vigilia della Prima Guerra Mondiale, con troppa gente che cerca attivamente e romanticamente la lotta (al giorno d’oggi e per il momento, non armata) invece di interessarsi a cosa stia effettivamente accadendo.

Nel frattempo, come qualcuno fra i meno esagitati potra’ cerca di notare, fra le righe scritte dal Presidente della Repubblica in risposta a “due cittadini” c’e’ un bel rimbrotto all’intransigenza del PD, che ha impedito una soluzione politica condivisa che magari sarebbe stata diversa e migliore del Salvaliste:

sappiamo quanto risultino difficili accordi tra governo, maggioranza e opposizioni anche in casi particolarmente delicati come questo e ancor più in clima elettorale: difficili per tendenze all’autosufficienza e scelte unilaterali da una parte, e per diffidenze di fondo e indisponibilità dall’altra parte

Come al solito insomma per questioni elettorali molto meschine e’ stato deciso di lasciare il PdR da solo a trattare con Berlusconi. Ormai Giorgio avra’ capito chi sono i suoi amici, proverbialmente sempre presenti. Anche e soprattutto nel momento del bisogno.

Mentre allora attendo che qualche fine costituzionalista spieghi a questo povero ignorante e sventurato cosa ci sia di così orrendo nel Salvaliste, mi chiedo:

  1. Che differenza di sostanza ci sarebbe stata nelle modalità di compilazione, pubblicazione e attuazione se si fosse scelta la via del rinvio delle elezioni?
  2. Cosa avrebbe dovuto argomentare il Presidente della Repubblica nel respingere questa soluzione?
  3. Quanti italiani capiranno di cosa si parla, e quanti invece seguiranno senza pensarci pericolosi urlatori alla Di Pietro, il cui richiamo alle forze armate evidentemente a qualcuno è piaciuto?
  4. Fare ulteriore confusione servirà a qualcos’altro che a polarizzare l’elettorato (ne sarà contento Formigoni, e la Polverini)?
  5. Perché il comma 2 del Salvaliste non puo’ essere utilizzato per fare piazza pulita da ora in poi delle regolette e regolacce insensate e di derivazione franco-sabauda, come la storia dei timbri tondi e quadrati, e non solo in materie elettorali?
  6. Siamo sicuri che sia…democratico decidere del Primato della Legge sulla Democrazia? Davvero la Repubblica sarebbe più solida se nella Regione più ricca e popolosa il Partito di maggioranza non fosse nelle schede elettorali, considerato anche che la alternativa (il rinvio) avrebbe permesso a Formigoni e i Premi Nobel che gli hanno raccolto le firme di presentarsi comunque?

Yes, The News Media Can Only See Alarmism

Andy @Revkin and others (here and here) note with John Fleck of inkstain that

Fleckstain: Media skip Science paper on energy solutions while hyping 1 on Arctic CH4. Problems hotter than solutions?

I do not think so. Simply, it’s all been Allcott’s and Mullainathan’s (the original authors’) fault. In fact, this is what they wrote:

Just as we use R&D to develop “hard science” into useful technological solutions, a similar process can be used to develop basic behavioral science into large-scale business and policy innovations. Cost-effectiveness can be rigorously measured using scientific field-testing. Recent examples of scaling behaviorally informed R&D into large energy conservation programs suggest that this could have very high returns.

And this is what they should have written instead:

It might be one of the most ominous bits of evidence yet that global warming could run out of control. Unless we use R&D to develop basic behavioral science into large-scale business and policy innovations, the most-feared potential self-reinforcing effects of climate change may be starting to get under way. Recent examples of scaling behaviorally informed R&D into large energy conservation programs suggest that this could have very high returns. Otherwise, the effects of climate change will persist becoming evident faster than anyone predicted.

(click here for the original alarmism)

Obviously, Climategate notwithstanding, an enormous percentage of newsmedia people still firmly believe only titillating stories about upcoming disasters will ever attract the interest of their readers. I have a feeling that’s the kind of newsmedia most likely to go the way of the dodo, at least regarding scientific journalism.

New Scientist: "Why Scientists Must Be The New Climate Sceptics"

Who could have ever thought?

The Climate Article The New York Times Editors Did Not Want You To See

As reported here on March 2, there has been a very unique phenomenon at the International Herald Tribune (IHT) / The New York Times (NYT): for the first time ever, an IHT printed-paper article was not immediately available in the NYT website. And a front-page article it was: “Feeling the heat from critics, climate scientists battle back“, by John M Broder.

The article finally appeared online in the early AM GMT hour of 3 March, titled “Scientists Taking Steps to Defend Work on Climate“. Tellingly, the structure has been heavily changed, and the interviewees as well. I have had a series of e-mail exchanges with Mr Broder today and won’t report any of them. The impression remains that some Editor at the NYT panicked (**) after reading the IHT version, and got Mr Broder or some sub-editor to rewrite it almost from scratch to eliminate some inconvenient names and acquire warmist respectability by giving the concluding remarks to Gavin Schmidt (*).

All in all, it has been an episode wholly consistent with an atmosphere of climate bullying at the NYT.

I have scanned the IHT article and here it is in 2 parts:

JMBroder - Feeling the Heat, IHT 2010/3/2 part 1
JMBroder - Feeling the Heat, IHT 2010/3/2 page 1
JMBroder2
JMBroder - Feeling the Heat, IHT 2010/3/2 page 8

For an example of what has been changed, note the mysterious disappearance of Judith Curry from the NYT version (Prof Curry is out there to conclude the IHT article), whilst a Peter C. Frumhoff of the Union of Concerned Scientists, plus Gavin Schmidt, are parachuted in literally out of thin air.

ps Gavin being Gavin, he’s now quotable with a “Good science is the best revenge“, some sort of instinctive plagiarism of Willis’ exhortation a few days earlier: “Do good science, and publicly insist that other climate scientists do good science as well

(*) see also WUWT “Willis makes the NYT, Gavin to stop “persuading the public”” and Willis Eschenbach’s generally positive comment to Broder’s NYT piece

(**) In fact, see what kind of mess they made of the NYT website around the same time8-)

UPDATE March 7: To be 100% clear, this is how I see things have happened:

1. After weeks of deafening silence on Climategate and derivatives, Mr Broder got commissioned to write finally an article about it, once enough “scientists fighting back” quotes could be summoned

2. Mr Broder wrote his piece (version “A”) on Monday AM EST but felt it necessary to include things at they stand, including Judith Curry’s “fiasco” remarks

3. Version “A” passed all editorial checks and by Monday noon was singled out for importance and relevance as one of the front-page stories for the IHT

4. Somebody above the Editors did not like it, likely because there was no quote from GISS. Monday evening word came down to change the article.

5. It was too late for the IHT and therefore I saw version “A” printed there.

6. But it was early enough for the web so version “A” did not show up there at all

7. Mr Broder was asked on Tuesday AM to talk to Schmidt and the other guy

8. A sub-editor changed version “A” to version “B” eliminating the inconvenient pieces, moving things around and adding what was wanted, including the “good science is the best revenge” dramatic quote at the end

9. Alas, it took a while to do all that, so version “B” appeared on the NYT website only very, very late on Tuesday evening.

"'Tis But A Scratch…"

And this is from American cartoonist Daryl Cagle, certainly no friend of the Republicans

'Tis but a scratch
'Tis but a scratch

Moisture And Precipitations: Not Just Al Gore

Whilst Al Gore’s latest “whopper”

scientists have long pointed out that warmer global temperatures have been increasing the rate of evaporation from the oceans, putting significantly more moisture into the atmosphere — thus causing heavier downfalls of both rain and snow in particular regions, including the Northeastern United States

is being widely and rightly criticized, let me point to a video making similar yet wider claims.

At 8:45 one can hear the following: “with more moisture in the atmosphere due to warming, precipitation events are getting more extreme” (“both in Northern and Tropical areas“)

Could anybody please provide references for “more moisture in the atmosphere” and “precipitation events are getting more extreme“? The video is praised by Romm and SkepticalScience, and I have asked for those references there as well.

IPCC, South Dakota And Astrological Retaliation (Who Let The Pols In?)

Much is being said about the incredibly innovative use of the English language (ha!) by South Dakota legislators, and especially the now-famous mention of “astrological…dynamics that can effect world weather phenomena” (I know, should have been “can affect”).

Politicians trying to legislate science, what a dumb idea, uh. Why, I am sure no serious scientist would advocate for scientific phenomena to be established by a United Nations Framework Convention.

And who could even imagine the horror of letting a whole field’s situation be assessed by a scientific body directly reporting to Governments