Live Microblogging Of Cardinal George Pell’s “One Christian Perspective On Climate Change” For The GWPF

This is an ordered version of my live microblogging (Twitter – @mmorabito67) of “One Christian Perspective On Climate Change”, the GWPF Annual Lecture by the RC Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell (Oct 26, 2011) (not exactly a staunch traditionalist, apart perhaps from his views on the family), presented on the evening by Benny Peiser with:

[...] In this week’s issue of Church Times, the weekly journal of the Church of England, Peter Forster, the Bishop of Chester and one of our Trustees and who, I am happy to say, is with us tonight in the audience, wrote:

The Churches have tended to follow climate alarmism with uncritical enthusiasm, but it is now time to take stock. The moral issues surrounding climate policy, as well as the underlying scientific and economic issues, are much more complex than is usually acknowledged. It is time for the Churches to recognise this, and to lead a debate which helps our society to a more sensible set of policies.

I believe that nobody has done more to raise these awkward questions within the Catholic Church than Cardinal Pell. It is an irony of our bewildering times that it is a courageous churchman who dares to question one of our society’s most entrenched dogmas – but that is exactly what he will do tonight.

  1. Reached Cardinal Pell’s lecture some 30 minutes late Will microblog whatever is left
  2. Cardinal Pell talking of English wines and warm Greenland
  3. Room quite full, more than 100 people for sure Yes, there’s a podium and a microphone
  4. Now mentioning the globality of the medieval warm period
  5. Maya civilization collapsed during MWP
  6. Conclusions: Western world unlikely to develop further of money is spent to fight global warming
  7. “Extreme weather events are to be expected but are always unexpected”
  8. “Money should be spent to prevent vulnerability”
  9. Too often people approach climate change with assumptions not questions
  10. Need a cost benefit analysis economically and morally
  11. Any benefit apart from more money to governments via taxes and to whoever works in the AGW sector?
  12. Long applause 30 minutes of questions
  13. Q: AGW nonsense is a cult or a biz opportunity or political? Q: Roman Catholic concerns on climate change? Even Pope
  14. A: no judgment on people’s motives A substitute of religion for some $10B/y for years Not much global government
  15. A: 9 years Chairman of Caritas Australia so has seen the world and third world
  16. Speaking as individual – RC is a Church with no competence on scientific claims
  17. Cardinal Pell sees his speaking as a way of telling the truth People may disagree but he’d like to see good policies
  18. Q: oil running out, new extractions make environment worse Q: Political divergence between Australian parties?
  19. A: eventually we will run out of fossil fuels Past predictions spectacularly wrong Technology will provide alternatives
  20. No apologies for the mistreatment of anybody anywhere Some commercial developments are very rough Try minimize costs
  21. Says he has not much opinion on either Australian political parties
  22. Q: why the IPCC never cares about the advantages to the world of increased CO2? Q: theology of husbanding resources
  23. A: no mention of advantages? (Talks of Bob Carter’s book) People reluctant to admit anything contrary to previous belief
  24. A: husbanding the world for the future yes
  25. My Q: do Cardinals talk about AGW when they meet up? Q: responsible for future? Pope might disagree with Pell
  26. A: never discussed AGW among Cardinals Opinions evenly divided in a conference
  27. A: pontifical academy of science also contains differing opinions Husbandry important but what are the facts?
  28. Follow Church for morality and religion not obligated to follow the PAS on science
  29. Q: Attenborough mention of changes due to climate change Will make claim that humans are partially responsible
  30. Q: (more theology)
  31. A: Attenborough’s changes? Things have always changed We can pick and choose anything for any argument
  32. A: always look at evidence Disagreement among scientists
  33. many geologists doubt catastrophesA: too many unknown unknowns No way of computing the future of climate
  34. Q: did AGW replace Marxism? What right to keep poor nations poor by preventing use of fossil fuels?
  35. Q: AGW is taught as a fact Is that moral?
  36. A: people need a religion so there’s something in people finding comfort in AGW
  37. China very polluted and would need free press We can’t impose impossible fuel standards
  38. There’s been global warming during last 100 years but we don’t know if it’s dangerous and how much humans contribute
  39. Some Christians feel uneasy about their faith so concentrate on feminism or social psychology instead
  40. Q: (inaudible) Q: important points made Opinion on Carbon tax? How can we help poor by taxing them?
  41. A: balance and trust are based on truth Worried about unscientific words uttered by scientists
  42. A: no problem when disagreeing with other people in the Church
  43. end of session with Lord Lawson

Thank you Skeptical Science

Congratulations to myself. I have just graduated to having a dedicated blog post by Skeptical Science no less.

Surely I’m not yet in the Big League (the author over there is only honesty-challenged dana1981) but for the very same reason I can proudly describe myself now as a Big Minion!

As for what SS has to say about my arguments …well, there’s little to discuss. That post sounds more like the umpteenth attempt to rally the usual, tired troops. Good luck with that.

Socrates, Or Pointing The Way For The Future Of Climate Science

Roger Pielke Jr laments the withering of climatology:

Climate science — or at least some parts of it — seems to have devolved into an effort to generate media coverage and talking points for blogs, at the expense of actually adding to our scientific knowledge of the climate system

Actually, it was December 2009 when I wrote in the pages of the Spectator (UK):

This might be the most important lesson of the 1974 report on global cooling: that we need to grow up, separate climatology from fear, and recognise — much as it pains politicians and scientists — that our understanding of how climate changes remains in its infancy.

Here we are, almost two years later. For example, what do we understand about the past? Willis Eschenbach at WUWT shows it in the non-smoothed BEST reconstruction graph:

"BEST global surface temperature estimates. Gray bars show what BEST says are the 95% confidence intervals (95%CI) for each datapoint"

And what do we understand about the future? Patrick Frank in’s Reading Room:

"The Special Report on Emission Scenarios (SRES-SPM-5) A2 projection from Figure 1 showing the physical uncertainty of the projected temperature trend when including ±10.1% cloud error (light shading), or the uncertainty in greenhouse gas forcing (dark shading). Inset: A close-up view of the first 20 years of the A2 projection and the uncertainty limits."

In other words: for the past, all we know for sure it’s that the error bars cover from -5C to +3C if we go back to 200 years ago. For the past, all we can estimate for sure it’s that error bars cover an enormous span if we move forward 100 years (even removing cloud uncertainty, still the 2100 error goes from -10C to +16C).

For all we know, Romans were conquering a world that was 50C colder than today, and oceans will boil before the XXII century. Or vice-versa.


Please do not start speculating about uncertainty as a reason for doing nothing - it isn’t.

Think of science instead: what’s the way out of this cul-de-sac made up of giant error bars? How can our understanding finally leave its infancy? The way out has actually being indicated already, by a guy born in 469BC:

Socrates was wise in that he knew the he knew nothing, whereas others were unaware of their own ignorance.

If and when such a realization will become widespread, only then climate science will be able to mature away from silly manipulations, towards the approach so nicely described by Professor Sir Bernard Lovell to David Whitehouse:

One evening we unrolled the pen recorder data in a long ribbon down the corridor outside the main observing room. “Now,” he said, “look at the data. Get to know it.” His point was that before us was what the universe was saying, and that it was more important than any theory.” Data is never inconvenient. It beats theory every time.

An unexamined climate is not worth studying…

Richard Muller Is (And Isn't) A Former Skeptic

Tons of desperate journalists and bloggers couldn’t help themselves when talking about the Muller/BEST’s press release, and filled the net with what must have been one of the largest collective display of idiocy this side of the carpal tunnel syndrome epidemic of old (tellingly, even Tamino was too enthusiastic to bother reading things properly whilst RC’s Steig did, so poor Grant F felt compelled to busy himself in disagreeing with Muller about something).

One of the most popular claims concerns the depiction of Muller as some kind of “reformed skeptic”, some pretty soul who’s finally seen the data, and the light alongside. Here’s the UK’s Independent repeating the party line, for example.

Professor Richard Muller, a physicist at the University of California, Berkeley, who has been an outspoken critic of the science underpinning global warming, said that there is little doubt in his mind the phenomenon of rising land temperatures is real.

In the meanwhile, Don Surber of the Charleston Daily Mail and Steven J Milloy of Junk Science fame have posted almost-definitive evidence demonstrating that Muller has never really been a climate skeptic. Muller quotes include:

back in the early ’80s, I resigned from the Sierra Club over the issue of global warming. At that time, they were opposing nuclear power. What I wrote them in my letter of resignation was that, if you oppose nuclear power, the U.S. will become much more heavily dependent on fossil fuels, and that this is a pollutant to the atmosphere that is very likely to lead to global warming


Muller estimates 2 in 3 odds that humans are causing global warming

Well, I can now report (with no worry of being refuted) that Richard Muller has been a climate skeptic all along. And he has not. At the same time!

The important point, in fact, is the definition of “climate skeptic”.

In a saner world, a “climate skeptic” would simply be any person approaching the field of climate change with a critical eye, and especially about the more outlandish claims of impending catastrophes caused by humans burning “fossil fuels” and doing all the other nasty things humans do. Of course, in a saner world 99.999% of the people would be “climate skeptic” and there would be little or no discussion about “global warming” or “climate change” being the “the world’s greatest challenge“.

From the sane point of view then, Muller, a guy who resigned decades ago about the “global warming” issue and believes humans are quite likely causing it, is no skeptic at all. From Muller’s own “Physics for Future Presidents” (chapter 10, page 18):

Humans have very likely contributed to global warming, and that suggests that
the worst effects are still ahead of us.

Coming back instead to the insane world we live in, definitions change. In particular, in the eyes of AGW True Believers a “climate skeptic” (aka “climate denier”) becomes anybody that questions anything about the IPCC-led climate change orthodoxy. And by that I mean, anything. It doesn’t matter if one surmises the world has been warming (the very definition of “global warming”), and that humans are “very likely” causing that (the very definition of “anthropogenic global warming”): all it takes is an expression of uncertainty or doubt about whatever topic, and immediately the brainless hordes will descend in full fascistic gear.

From the insane point of view then, Muller, a guy who famously discounted the Hockey Stick graph as “an artifact of poor mathematics“, is a fully-fledged skeptic (ie “denier). From Muller’s own “Physics for Future Presidents” (chapter 10, page 2):

In fact, much of what you hear every day is exaggerated, often on purpose.
People feel so passionately about climate change, and they are so frightened about
what is coming, that they overstate their case (either pro or anti) in an attempt to
enlist proselytes

All in all, it looks like nobody knows who Richard Muller actually is. Expect surprises.

Live Microblogging Of IOP's "Finding a way forward for climate change" By Chris Rapley

This is an ordered version of my live microblogging (Twitter – @mmorabito67) of “Finding a way forward for climate change” at London’s Institute of Physics by Chris Rapley (Oct 19, 2011), presented as:

Professor Chris Rapley CBE, Director Science Museum

There is evidence to suggest that human activities are driving climatic change. This will be presented, along with the risks that the changes pose to human wellbeing. Professor Rapley will also outline the underlying link to human energy needs, and the nature of the challenge to achieve a “low carbon” future

  1. Starting now – around 50 people, few spring chickens
  2. Science Museum infamous for disaster internet poll on global warming – so I don’t expect that much really
  3. Wrong after 10 seconds – MMU was from 1984 IIRC definitely not 1981
  4. “Astronauts don’t overload their life support system” – apparently that’s tonight’s theme
  5. Earth is a “highly interconnected object” – “spacecraft transporting 7 billions of us “
  6. Climate science and change have dropped out of the news since a year ago
  7. Rapley reports recently media science people told him there’s no story on climate change, nothing to do
  8. Innocence, unwitting consequences, mystery, cliffhanger – that’s the “plot”
  9. Story of climate science fascinating by itself
  10. Quite some caution expressed so far – mentioned possibility data might be found falsified
  11. Primer on physics starting from the Sun – starts good but claims planet generally in radiative balance (???)
  12. Mentions variations during geological times
  13. Complexities explained using a management style diagram
  14. Mentions “tribal instincts” about scientists too
  15. Claims Earth “most complex object in the universe” and has no user’s manual; finite, no spares
  16. “Ecosystem services essential for life” but “increasingly compromised by humans”
  17. Mention estimates of building a similar ecosystem as 40T$ a year
  18. Temporal and spatial scales span enormous ranges
  19. Need to be smart to properly use the scientific resources
  20. “Hubris” to claim we know how the planet works but we have an idea of where it is going (???)
  21. Envisat, Argo floats
  22. Many not aware amount of effort put to study the planet
  23. Understanding the Earth system is a jigsaw puzzle
  24. Unprecedented scientific coordination and cooperation worldwide – huge management and logistical challenge
  25. Example international polar year >200 projects and 60k scientists
  26. Abruptly now into “energy” – 1 barrel of oil = 3500 people pedaling for 1h and much cheaper than them
  27. It’s now in the UK as if we all had 87 slaves each
  28. Oil and coal burning changed the atmosphere
  29. Longest ice core goes back to 800k year. Shows graph of CO2 going up and down
  30. Last two transitions quite abrupt with max around 280ppm of CO2
  31. Mentions temps go up and down 800 years before CO2 does. The guy has read his share of climate questions
  32. Dramatic increase of CO2 concentration in recent times – but he’s spliced the graphs together
  33. Graph bot as dramatic – top is values expected for 2100
  34. Seems convinced values have gone up vertically
  35. Mentions Tyndall of 1859 studying transfer of heat through atmosphere
  36. Says the greenhouse effect is poorly named – very good
  37. Claims Moon temp -15C am not sure about it
  38. Long digression in sea level rise as evidence of warming but no mention of latest data
  39. Says 3.8mm/y is a third of postglacial rise
  40. Claims evidence of AGW is the “pattern of evidence” but individual pieces of evidence not enough on their own
  41. Change in radiation going to space, more downward radiation, winter warmin
  42. G”Clincher” is land-temperature data whilst upper atmosphere is cooling but statistical significance is debatable
  43. There could be problems even if average temps don’t go up but their distribution changes
  44. Example of Sahara with climate shift in 5000 year with two metastable states
  45. Modern world “depends” on climate system of now (???)
  46. We’re already susceptible to natural variations so why poke the system?
  47. Goes into Stern Report – major #FAIL – and Queensland too
  48. Sea ice cover in the Arctic as of yesterday
  49. “Huge consequences already playing out”
  50. Consensus of 2C is “built up among politicians of the world” as maximum desirable increase – associated to 450ppm
  51. Quite clear on political issues around decarbonization
  52. Describes most optimistic future as everybody convinced and.working together – with end value around 630ppm
  53. “Scramble” leads to 1000ppm – now graph describing emission challenge
  54. Says “planet is responding even more strongly” – another #fail as there’s no scientific paper saying that
  55. Claims there’s technology to be used, misunderstands the money that went into “saving the banks” – not good
  56. Climate change “uniquely vexatious issue” – massive changes, people against it as governmental interference.
  57. Delingpole pops up on screen
  58. Goes into denial tirade described in pop-psychology terms
  59. Says debate/advocacy is wrong as tries to find THE answer. Says dialogue is needed. (With people in denial?)
  60. Says scientists should not be advocates or activists – otherwise audience has obligation to challenge back
  61. “Enable people to make up their own minds”
  62. “World is being compromised by our activities”
  63. Q&A peak carbon? Huge amount of accessible coal.
  64. Q&a: overpopulation? Important point but politically challenging.
  65. Quite keen on population control
  66. Q&a more.scientists should.speak out? Politicians not listening
  67. Apparently I have inspired with my “sea wall question” a great answer about risks and uncertainties.
  68. I hope I can write that down tonight. Nature magazine, best thing that happened to seismologists etc etc
  69. Question challenges CO2 consensus. I find these useless in this context.
  70. Questioner saying Milankovitch cycles more important. Good reply, Rapley is no alarmist
  71. Q&a what if one believes in AGW but also in free markets? Are alternatives going cheaper?
  72. “It’s a thriller”
  73. Speaks about overpopulation taboo and hate mail received and even people rewriting history
  74. Looks for optimistic ending …people feeling powerless?
  75. Positive thing is chairman of GE going green and finding positive results
  76. 19 Oct Favorite Retweet Reply
  77. Group helps you send message to MPs about climate change. 400k did. is that activism?
Some additional considerations are at Bishop Hill’s blog. I hope I’ll have some time to elaborate, especially on Rapley’s seemingly inconsistent behavior between the BMJ conference on Oct 17, and the IOP speech two days later.

World is warming. Pope is Catholic.

UPDATE: this post has featured at WUWT

Quite an effort has been made by many people (including Dr Richard Muller) to portray the BEST pre-pre-pre-papers as some kind of death blow against climate skepticism, as if the whole debate had been a sports match with everybody pigeonholed in two opposite camps: here, the noble scientists finding out the world is warming; there, the ignoble skeptics pretending the world is not warming.

Needless to say, it’s all the usual crass, outdated lie.

How do I know? I know it from the About page at this very blog. Why? Because that page does not contain just a text by Yours Truly, rather a large quote by Willis Eschenbach.

It was simply such an appropriate, informed, short and straight argument, I knew it was going to describe pretty much all my future efforts at the blog.

Original publication place & date? The ClimateSceptics yahoo group, Mon Oct 22, 2007, 12:22pm:

I also think that increasing GHGs will warm the earth … but that is not the real question to me. The real question is, how much it will warm the earth. To date, I have not seen any “useful quantative results” regarding that question either …

Once those quantitative results are in, we can proceed to the next question — is a warmer earth better or worse on balance? The globe has warmed quite a bit since the 1600s, and in general this has been of benefit to humans. The sea level rise from the historical warming has not been a significant problem. In addition, a warmer world is predicted to be a wetter world, which overall can only be a good thing. So, will warming be a problem, or a benefit? This is a very open question, and one which will be difficult to answer as some areas will win and some will lose. To date, however, recent warming seems to be occuring outside the tropics, in the night-time, in the winter … this does not seem like a bad thing.

And at some future date when those questions are answered, we can proceed to the final question, viz:

If GHGs are determined to be a major cause of the warming (as opposed to landuse changes, or black carbon on snow, or dark colored aerosols, etc) and if we determine that the warming will be on balance a negative occurrence, is there a cost-effective way to reduce the GHGs, or are we better off putting our money into adaptation?

Until we can answer all of those questions, we should restrict ourselves to actions which will be of value whether or not there is future warming. The key is to realize that all of the problems that Al Gore is so shrill about are here now with us today — floods, heat waves, famine, rising sea levels, droughts, cold spells, and all of the apocalyptic catalog are occuring as I write this. Anything we can do to insulate the world’s population from these climate problems will be of use to everyone no matter what the future climate holds [...]

B.E.S.T. Not Yet

Plenty of brouhaha everywhere about the pre-pre-pre B.E.S.T. papers. Ignorant reactions undoubtedly already abound.

I surmise that the four pre-pre-pre-papers will get torn to pieces in the next few days (here’s my biting off the UHI article, followed by Steven Mosher’s). The quality of the BEST work will be measurable in the way they will react to that ( (a) making the necessary adjustments, (b) ignoring the lot, or (c) circling the wagons).

The jury is still much out. In the case of Anthony Watts, so far it’s been a strong (b). Assuming B.E.S.T. is not a collection of unprofessionals, such a reaction makes little sense.

OTOH we do not even know if B.E.S.T. is really about science, or something else. As I commented at Judith Curry’s blog:

Read what you write Judith! A PR strategy! Did Bohr have a PR strategy, or Maxwell, or Dirac.

The BEST PR strategy is not the best PR strategy because it became so important as to become visible. It’s THE news, as you can read at WUWT. And a total failure: science takes once again the back seat, and who cares if BEST does it for visibility rather than politics?

Your results and your work have just been buried by your team. Congratulations! /sarc

No placebo pill will ever work if it’s got “PLACEBO” written on it: likewise, no PR strategy will work if it’s so much in-your-face to its potential audience.

A Summary of The B.E.S.T. UHI Pre-pre-pre-pre-paper

We know peer-review is a thing of the past and something somewhere forced Muller and friends to jump the gun for some reason. Anyway as a public service (given most people won’t ever look at the scientific details even when commenting them), here’s a summary of the UHI pre-pre-pre-pre-paper:

1. The UHI exists in named places (eg Tokyo)

2. Within the same paper, Tokyo’s UHI varies from 2C/century (introduction) to 3C/century (discussion)

3. By shooting in the dark (classifying in a rough fashion a large number of unnamed places), the UHI doesn’t exist any longer

4. We don’t have the time and/or the money to verify if the UHI remains disappeared when using named places, individually assessed and perhaps even (shock! horror!) assigned a degree of urbanization

5. A back of the envelope calculation suggests that if 27% of the Global Historical Climatology Network Monthly (GHCN-M) stations are located in cities with a population greater than 50,000, then assuming a UHI of 3C/century the contribution BY UHI to the world MEASURED average is 3*27%=0.81C

6. Nevermind, there’s always space for pure speculation

Keep It Going, Gavin!

An overexcited Andy Revkin sings the praises of Gavin Schmidt, first recipient of some rich prize assigned by an organization lead by some journalist with an English Major. Cue substantially less-excited commenters, from all sides of the debate. Cue Revkin commenting on his own blog much more often than usual, defending Schmidt with a classical “can’t win” argument.

Also IMNSHO Gavin can’t win. But the reason is that he is a poor debater. Very poor, to the point of appearing repeatedly like the best thing that ever happened to climate skeptics (check his puerile behavior against McIntyre and Pielke Jr, absurdist references to Feyerabend, involvement with the NYT self-censorship of March 2010, incredible claims about data analyses being good only if they improve the models, etc etc)

As for his campaigning skills, read it from the horse’s mouth at CNN.

I guess Revkin has fallen in a self-referential trap. Just as only wheelchair-bound persons will truly understand how many obstacles are routinely placed against their freedom of movement, only a non-believer in climate change catastrophism will be able to appreciate how much RC is middle-ground (or isn’t).

If Freud Had Met Climate Catastrophists…

Some quick rewording on an old statement by Sigmund Freud, referred to by Gordon Marino on the NYT:

The climatology of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming (cAGW) is not opposed to science, it behaves itself as if it were a science, and to a certain extent it makes use of the same methods; but it parts company with science, in that it clings to the illusion that it can produce a complete and coherent picture of the future of the Earth’s climate. Its methodological error lies in the fact that it over-estimates the epistemological value of its computer-based operations… But cAGW has no immediate influence on the great majority of mankind; it interests only a small number even of the thin upper stratum of intellectuals, while all the rest find it beyond them.

"As usual with your scientific men they've more brass than brains"

From Jules Verne’s “Around the Moon“, published in 1870. It’s Chapter 5 and the heroes have just discovered the scientists at the Cambridge Observatory (now Harvard College Observatory) had given them too low a value for their initial speed:

“Ha! ha! ha!” [Ardan] laughed bitterly. “Precious scientific men! Villainous old hombogues! The whole set not worth a straw! I hope to gracious, since we must fall, that we shall drop down plumb on Cambridge Observatory, and not leave a single one of the miserable old women, called professors, alive in the premises!”

Note: the translation is from 1876. I have found another, just as harsh…here‘s from the book available at

“Hang our Cambridge friends and their calculations!” cried Ardan, with some asperity; “as usual with your scientific men they’ve more brass than brains! If we’re not now bed-fellows with the oysters in the Gulf of Mexico, no thanks to our kind Cambridge friends. But talking of oysters, let me remind you again that breakfast is ready.”


(originally posted by “Foxgoose” as a comment – Oct 10, 2011 at 2:10 PM – for Bishop Hill’s post about the recent Lacis imbecility)

…………. Scene 1 – Andy is sitting in his office doing some routine temperature extrapolation, a nervous looking colleague pokes his head round the door…………

“Andy, Big Jim wants ya in da basement right now, some of de udder guys is there sez it won’t wait”

………..Scene 2 – Andy enters the windowless basement room, Big Jim is sitting at the table, the others lounge around, avoiding eye contact but ostentatiously polishing their knuckle dusters….

Big Jim – “Andy, Kev tells me de deniers over de Bish’s patch are all over town puttin it about dat you’ve bin sayin we’re all washed up ‘n our racket is blown. Thats real bad Andy”

Andy – “Don’t listen to him Jim, it’s all crap – you know I’m one of your main men”

Big Jim – “But Kev’s bin over there and seen what you wrote with his own eyes – you said the AR4 racket was ‘beyond redemption and should be deleted’ – dat makes me very unhappy Andy”

Andy – “OK OK, I blew it Jim, I’m real sorry I was drunk and trying to impress this broad….”

Big Jim – “Shut it! This is serious Andy and your gonna have to make amends. I want some blood spilt over at the Bish’s place to even the score”

Andy – “I can’t go over there Jim, it’s up ta here with hardcore deniers – I’d be blown away before I even got in da door”

Big Jim – “ OK, I got anudder plan. There’s always deniers over at Loose Judy’s place – you can get in there and waste them. Judy ‘n me go back a whiles ‘n she owes me a couple of favours – she’ll get you in there and give you some cover , you can take Gav as back up. ”

Andy – “You don’t know what your askin Jim, Loose Judy’s isn’t like it used to be – it’s crawlin with deniers , just sittin drinkin ‘n waitin for trouble to kick off – we could be massacred”

Big Jim – “You’ve offended me Andy and risked the whole racket. Either there’s denier blood on the floor at Loose Judy’s Sunday night – or you take a drive in the Buick into the forest Monday with Gav and Pierre. D’ya understand me”

Andy – “ Yes boss”

Big Jim – “I thought you might”……………

AD 1764-1791: The First Climate Change and Geoengineering Acts

Have environmentalism and climate change fear always been based on an unproven ideology full of hate against humanity and its material progress?


Introducing the (fourth?) climate change and geoengineering act: the Kings Hill Forest Act, “passed in 1791 on St. Vincent, [...] setting up a “rain reserve”in an upland part of the island“:

 The Kings Hill Forest Act passed on St Vincent in 1791 was a remarkable piece of legislation. Above all, it was based on a novel climatic theory, that deforestation might cause rainfall decline. The objective of the Act was to “appropriate for the benefit of the neighbourhood the Hill …….and for enclosing the same and preserving the timber and other trees growing thereon in order to attract rain”. The fact that the Act was highly innovative was clearly recognised at the time. Governor James Seton commented that the Act is “of an unusual and extraordinary character”, not least in the powers which the state arrogated to itself to control land and to impose penalties for its misuse. In the language of today the Act thus conceived of two kinds of sustainability, at a local level, in terms of timber supply; and in a much broader climatic sense. It thus enshrined in legislation a highly sophisticated set of principles and was, in short, based on ‘scientific’ theory rather than on social structures or assumptions.

(more details about the Kings Hill Forest Act - fascinatingly, the actual text is very likely to mention clouds too, resulting in the wording “for the purpose of attracting clouds and rain”)

Environment worries? Check. Impending climate catastrophe caused by human greed? Check. Evil deforestation? Check. Strong-armed governmental intervention? Check. And yhe idea was not new. Already in Tobago (1764), Barbados and Dominica (1765) local authorities had been busying themselves in planting trees in order to get more rains:

an ordinance was passed in 1764 designating the mountainous part of Tobago a protected forest, “reserved in wood for rains.”This protected forest still exists within its original boundaries. The legislation that created it marked a critical watershed in the history of environmental concern, since it applied a universal scientific theory about earth-atmosphere processes (since shown to be substantially correct) to a local environment. It was thus the forerunner to all subsequent national and international attempts to control rainfall and climate change. The 1764 Tobago ordinance specifically recognized the need to restrict profits to sustain an environment in the long term. Moreover, the mechanisms used to set up forest reserves under the ordinance justified the alienation (in the face of much local litigation) of large tracts of private plantation land to colonial state control and implied a permanent role for the state, rather than the individual, in conserving forests and the atmosphere. In 1765, identical ordinances were applied to Barbados and Dominica.

Also in Mauritius (1769):

In a law of 1769, called the Reglement Economique, and in later laws passed after Poivre had left the island in 1772, an extensive system of forest reservations and riverside reservations was established in Mauritius, on the basis both of climatic arguments to protect the rainfall and to provide a sustainable timber supply

Pierre Poivre, Commissaire-Intendant of Mauritius from 1766, is in fact a key person in this story (that can be traced back to “the pupil of Isaac Newton“):

Pierre Poivre had already been extensively involved in attempts to transfer spice trees from the Dutch East Indies to Mauritius. In the course of trying to develop these and other objectives Poivre set up what was effectively a physiocratic state on the island. However, partly as a result of his experiments in plant transfer Poivre was already very interested in soil conditions and the effects of deforestation on moisture and local climate. He had developed these ideas in Lyons in the context of agricultural society meetings during the 1750s and in a paper written in 1763 made direct reference to what he thought were now well-established connections between deforestation and rainfall change. The provenance of these notions is not clear and further research would be needed to establish the source of Poivre’s very definitive desiccationist convictions. But it seems likely that the main source of inspiration for Poivre’s climate thinking came from the arboricultural handbooks written by his contemporary, Duhamel de Monceau. De Monceau, an anglophile, had in turn been very much influenced by the thinking of Stephen Hales, the pupil of Isaac Newton and the discover of the principle of transpiration. A Newtonian linking of trees and atmosphere was thus essential to early environmentalism.

Stephen Hales of 1677-1761, of course. There is another possibly complementary reason behind Poivre’s efforts though: the arrival in Mauritius in 1768 of botanist Jacques Henri Bernardine de Saint Pierre, later author of Paul and Virginie (1787) and clearly influenced by the thoughts of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. And what did Rousseau write in Emile: or, On Education?

Everything is good as it leaves the hands of the author of things, everything degenerates in the hands of man. He forces one soil to nourish the products of another, one tree to bear the fruits of another. He mixes and confuses the climates, the elements, the seasons. He mutilates his dog, his horse, his slave. He turns everything upside down, he disfigures everything, he loves deformities, monsters. He wants nothing as nature made it, not even man himself. For him man must be trained like a saddle- horse; he must be shaped according to the fashion, like trees in his garden.

There we go then: climate and geoengineering legislation officially based on science, but on a “science” in turn based on activism takings its inspiration from the science-free humanity- and material-progress-hating thoughts of a distant philosopher (Rousseau).

Nothing new under the sun. Science-based policy, it ain’t.

(h/t Fabio Spina and

Schechtman's Lessons

From Haaretz, from an article published a full six months before the Nobel Prize was awarded to Dan Schechtman, some climate-relevant findings. In no particular order:

  1. “Unchallengeable basic tenets” must be considered as transient in any scientific field
  2. Any scientific field that is considered “closed”, “solid”, “total” is ripe for a revolution that will still be burning decades later
  3. New discoveries are surrounded by suspicion and ridicule, accompanied by outright rationalized dismissals
  4. It doesn’t matter if you can show people your discovery. It doesn’t matter if they can replicate your discovery in their own lab. Many will still refuse to believe it. We have not moved an inch since the times of Galileo and telescope-denier Cesare Cremonini
  5. Many of them will change their mind only if the discovery is demonstrated using their old techniques
  6. Scientists-discoverers don’t keep their techniques secret
  7. Many discoveries are observed for many years, before somebody realizes there is a new discovery to be made of those observations
  8. Scientists-discoverers are worried about losing their job because of their discovery
  9. And rightly so
  10. They are even worried of being unable to find any job because of their discovery
  11. You need at least two Professors to support the article describing the discovery, before it passes so-called “peer” review
  12. The famous, influential, powerful people invited to deliver the keynote addresses at scientific conferences, they are very likely wrong on any new topic
  13. We have no idea how many Schechtman’s will forever remain unknown, because they didn’t have the luck and the guts to persevere the way Shechtman did

And now for the excerpts:

[...] Since the birth of modern crystallography in 1912, when x-rays were diffracted from a crystal for the first time, until that moment 70 years later, this branch of science had relied on an unchallengeable basic tenet [...]

The scientists concluded that there can be no pentagonal symmetry in crystals, since they cannot create periodic order – as anyone who has tried to cover a bathroom floor with five-sided tiles knows. In countless observations over many decades, crystallographers indeed saw only geometric crystals, all of them possessing rotational symmetry.

But on that April day in 1982, when Shechtman looked at the pattern of points created by the crystal of the alloy he had prepared in the lab from aluminum and manganese, he saw a structure that contradicted both rules: the 10 points that appeared through the microscope attested to the existence of pentagonal symmetry; and the immediate conclusion was that the crystal did not possess a periodic structure. Shechtman had discovered a new world, in which there are solid crystals, but the known order was gone. [...]

Within days, his peculiar ideas generated suspicion and ridicule, to which he would be subjected for some time [...]

“I told everyone who was ready to listen that I had material with pentagonal symmetry. People just laughed at me,” [...]

In the months that followed, he tried to persuade his colleagues in the lab that what they were looking at was a previously unknown crystal. But in vain. “I knew my observations were in order. I couldn’t explain the phenomenon, but I knew it was material that no one had seen before me, impossible material according to the laws of crystallography,” he says [...]

One day, the administrative director of his research group approached him. “He gave a sheepish smile, placed a textbook on my desk and said, ‘Please read what’s written here.’ I told him that I taught my students from the book, but that I also knew that we’re dealing with something that exceeded the book’s understanding,” Shechtman says. The director returned 24 hours later and asked him to leave the research group, because he was “bringing disgrace” on the members. [...]

the researchers at the institute were not able to check the discovery for themselves. Many of them did not know how to work with an electron microscope, which is the most appropriate tool for identifying rotational symmetries in small crystals. Moreover, he notes, “They were not really interested in dealing with it.”

Shechtman also forwarded the findings to a friend, who was about to go on a scientific tour. When the friend returned, Shechtman relates, he brought an array of off-the-wall explanations for the 10 microscopic points, gleaned from colleagues. None of them took seriously the possibility that it was a case of pentagonal symmetry. [...]

only one person was ready to listen in earnest: Prof. Ilan Blech [...] Shechtman now felt sufficiently confident to publish an article on the subject. Until then, he says, “I was afraid to publish alone, in case it turned out to be nonsense.” [...]

Shechtman turned to the senior scientist John Cahn, who had invited him to work in the institute. Cahn initially had reservations, but afterward worked with Shechtman and proposed that they co-author an article. For the mathematical aspects he added a French crystallographer, Denis Gratias, and the three wrote an article that was a concise, refined version of the first article. They added Ilan Blech’s name as a fourth author and sent the article to Physical Review Letters, which also deals with physics. The addition of Cahn’s name turned out to be a winning move: the article appeared in November 1984, within a few weeks of its submission [...]

To get researchers to believe him, Shechtman described exactly how to prepare the alloy. “There are people who keep the mode of preparation secret, but I wanted every researcher who had an appropriate laboratory to be able to prepare the material and examine it under an electron microscope within a few days,” [...]

despite the success in repeating the experiment in several labs, only a few scientists accepted the thesis of pentagonal symmetry. Leading scientists rejected Shechtman’s conclusions, and towering above all of them was Linus Pauling [...]

“There are tens of thousands of chemists in the United States, and Pauling was their star,” Shechtman notes. “He would open the conferences of the American Chemical Society, and quasiperiodic crystals were always his topic. I attended one of the conferences, at Stanford. Thousands of people were there, and he attacked me. He would stand on those platforms and declare, ‘Danny Shechtman is talking nonsense. There is no such thing as quasicrystals, only quasi-scientists.’ [...]

In the first years following the discovery, Shechtman’s support came primarily from physicists and mathematicians. But crystallographers had a serious problem with the findings: Shechtman had used an electron microscope, whereas their main tool was the x-ray. “It’s as though a mechanical engineer were to explain to a heart surgeon how to perform an operation,” Shechtman says. “From their point of view, I was not a crystallographer, because I had used a tool they considered imprecise and illegitimate.” [...]

in 1987, friends of Shechtman’s from France and Japan succeeded in growing quasi-periodic crystals large enough for x-rays to repeat and verify what he had discovered with the electron microscope: the existence of pentagonal symmetry. [...]

“In the forefront of science there is not much difference between religion and science,” Shechtman says. “People harbor beliefs. That’s what happens when people believe something religiously. The argument with Linus Pauling was almost theological.” [...]

As his fear of not finding employment faded, Pauling’s assaults became a compliment for Shechtman. “I realized that if it’s Pauling against Shechtman, then at some level we are equals. [...]

Prof. Shlomo Ben-Abraham, one of the first Israeli scientists to support the discovery, says, “Until Danny’s discovery, we thought the subject of crystal structure was completely closed. Today, nearly 30 years later, we know we have not even scratched the surface. [...]

Prof. Ron Lifshitz, a physicist from Tel Aviv University, describes Shechtman’s discovery as “a scientific revolution that is still in going on.” Science, he says, must now answer questions that were once thought to be basic and closed, such as what a crystal is, alongside new questions, such as how the nonperiodic structure influences the qualities of those materials. [...]

For decades, crystallography clung to a mistaken description of the physical world, which was presented as a solid, total truth. On the other hand, that same science was able to acknowledge its mistake and refute long-held basic assumptions within a relatively short time, once the theory was shown to be inconsistent with reality. Still, it was necessary to have someone who is capable of shouldering the revolution.

Prof. Ben-Abraham explains Shechtman’s strength: “The greatness of a discoverer lies in knowing what he has discovered. People encounter things and ignore them for one reason or another. I know of four documented cases in which people found this before Danny.” However, he notes, because all the books state that pentagonal symmetry is inconsistent with periodicity of crystals, the researchers ignored what they saw. [...]

Klima Süß

(comment just left at WUWT)

From the [Crownies] show’s website (my emphasis):

Richard is prosecuting a case in court, this time with a good chance of winning. But he is not happy. He has to prosecute his climate scientist hero Tim Coghburn for assault, after Coghburn punched a persistent climate denialist, James Watt. Watt is an annoying gadfly and Richard detests all he stands for. And the fiasco is made worse when Richard sees Coghburn is being represented by Richard’s old, much admired law lecturer. Richard makes a stuttering start in court, and the defence QC makes Watt look unreliable and a bit of a goose. Part of Richard wants to lose because of his environmental concerns, but part of him needs a win. Richard finally cross examines Tim Coghburn and gets to reconcile his needs. He leads Tim through a series of questions as put by James Watt and his ilk, stirring Coghburn’s anger as he airs the simple rebuttals. Eventually Tim blurts out that yes, he did hit James Watt, and it felt great. Richard has his win, Tim is fined, and Watt still comes out of it looking like an idiot.

If it were England, a trip to the defamation court would have been in order.

Anyway…a filmed story that has no connection with reality and portrays the “villain” using basic, demeaning stereotypes? Where did we see that already

Monbiot's Silence – Wrong Kind of Heat as Orange Groves Refuse to Attack

We’re coming to the conclusion of a time of record-setting September and October high temperatures in several parts of Europe, England included. It’s news, and of course it is. However, keen readers of the local docufiction that passes for British news articles may have noticed something very odd about the latest heatwave.

Not a mention of global warming/climate change.

Even champion trivialiser Louise Gray makes the point of keeping global warming away at arm’s length:

Over the short term the weather is caused by currents over the land and oceans. This week’s high temperatures were caused by high pressure over central Europe sucking warm wind up from the Mediterranean.

Way to go Louise!

But what is making Ms Gray feel compelled to do so? And the others? Such as for example the BBC News Magazine (Oct 1):

most spells of unusual weather are simply that – unusual. They have happened before and they will happen again

Also, Sam Jones in the Guardian forgets to mention “climate change”, and a “Met Office spokeswoman” uses Channel 4 News to make the once-blasphemous point that

it isn’t necessarily climate change – just the ‘wacky British weather’

Even the staunchly warmist Independent leaves Jonathan Brown to say that

This week’s record temperatures have been caused by an area of high pressure, anchored off the east coast of the UK, dragging in warm, dry winds from the Sahara. Records have already been set for the hottest 29 September – breaking one set in 1895 – and 30 September

Ominously, George Monbiot keeps silent.


This is so much different than with previous heatwaves. In August 2003 the British newsmedia seemingly couldn’t avoid mentioning global warming and climate change whenever possible. This is from the Aug 13, 2003 transcript of a BBC radio broadcast with Dr Chris West, “Director of the UK Climate Impacts Programme”

[...] Temperatures are approaching 30C plus, and the hot spell is expected to last into next week. The heatwave could be a sign that global warming is speeding up, according to Professor John Schellnhuber at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research. [...] What’s causing the extreme weather? Is global warming accelerating? What are the consequences for the UK? [...]

Dr Chris West: [...] So I think this is a blip yes maybe but it’s a good warning that this is the sort of thing we can expect more of. [...]

Two days earlier there was Nigel Reed, “the Met Office’s chief weather forecaster” again on the BBC:

He said the recent hot weather was “consistent” with global warming, although it was impossible to prove an exact link. Summers this hot or hotter may even become fairly “routine” within 50 or 70 years, he said. “In the years to come, as the earth’s atmosphere does heat up through global warming, we would expect to see these hot weather events happening with greater frequency,” he said.

Same mantra from Tim Hirsch, then-BBC environment correspondent:

One heat wave does not prove that the world is getting hotter, but this week’s weather fits a global trend which has seen previous records shattered with increasing regularity. In nine out of the past 12 years, average temperatures worldwide have been higher than at any time since records began in the 19th century and it is very likely that the 1990s were the warmest decade for 1000 years.

It took two at the Independent to write the same claims on Aug 11, 2003:

Although there can be no direct proof that yesterday’s record temperature was the result of climate change, many observers see it as part of a steadily warming pattern affecting the world, not least because of the margin by which the previous UK record was broken – nearly a whole degree centigrade and nearly a degree-and-a-half fahrenheit.

(Of course in 2011 nobody finds it interesting to mention that the world is not getting warmer)

Last and likely very least, Roger Highfield on the Daily Telegraph on August 20, 2003:

As for this month’s heatwave, physicist Prof John Schellnhuber, research director at the Tyndall Centre, University of East Anglia, believes it could fit the medium predictions of climate change but might signal warming beyond IPCC estimates – up to 9C. “It could be an extreme expression of moderate global warming, or a standard feature of accelerated global warming.”

Research that backs this view was published recently in the journalScience from Dr Peter Stott at the Hadley Centre, which has investigated if global warming also works at the continental level. This shows that the rising temperatures in Europe must be partly due to man-made pollution, though falls short of blaming all the warming over the UK on human activities.

Out of competition, who else, George Monbiot in The Guardian, as usual (Aug 12, 2003):

Of course, we cannot say that the remarkable temperatures in Europe this week are the result of global warming. What we can say is that they correspond to the predictions made by climate scientists. As the met office reported on Sunday, “all our models have suggested that this type of event will happen more frequently.”

For an example from a different period, read about Monbiot and eleven other vegetables, all ready to flourish in the worldwide warming of February 2005.


Can we attribute the difference in reporting between 2003/2005 and 2011 to an increased awareness about British journalists that weather is not climate, maybe as a result of spectacular advances in scientific communication thanks to the IPCC? I think not.

As recently as last year, the BBC and the Met Office were not shy of linking warm weather to climate change. Here’s a report dated August 10, 2010 by Katia Moskvitch, a presumably rather local-minded science reporter, about the Moscow heatwave:

Global climate change is partly to blame for the abnormally hot and dry weather in Moscow, cloaked in a haze of smoke from wildfires, say researchers. The UK Met Office has said there are likely to be more extreme high temperatures in the future.

Likewise for the US heatwave of Summer 2011 and the BBC’s Richard Black:

The inference that any day’s weather is related to the slow progress of global warming is one of the things that scientists find most frustrating – although comedian Bill Maher probably expresses that frustration more pithily than most scientists, commenting that not believing in climate change because it’s snowing “is like saying the Sun might not be real because last night it got dark”. [...] From an individual weather event, the impact is small; but heatwaves are projected to become more frequent in parts of North America where they already occur as the global average temperature continues to rise [...]

In fact, there is a more mundane explanation to Monbiot’s newly-found climate reticence alongside pretty much all of his colleagues’. It’s all due to pleasantness: not on their part, of course, but on the weather’s.

There is simply no way to present the recent heatwave in a negative light.

Not even the BBC was able to manage to do that, in the absence of buckled trainlines or homes without electrical power or square miles of burned forests or queues of distressed elderly at A&E departments. Because (and of course) if Britain were to become hotter than it is now, nobody would complain. You can’t scare people in acting against a change that feels, sounds, looks and is pleasant.

And that’s a point Monbiot himself understood very clearly in 2009:

The problem with persuading people in the UK to take climate change seriously is that, as far as we are concerned, it sounds quite attractive. The government’s new climate projections predict drier summers and a possible 5C temperature rise in the south of England by 2080. Isn’t this what we have spent our lives hoping and praying for?

It’s a situation I described a few months later as the “Attach of the Killer Orange Groves” or “The Day of The Palm Triffids”, in a post titled “The National Trust Wants You To Emit Greenhouse Gases“. It goes without saying that the landscape changes expected by the National Trust would not horrify anybody, and might even entice people to pump more CO2 in the atmosphere:

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

Paradoxically then, and quite ironically, our beloved (?) reporters are forced during a heatwave to admit defeat or ignore “climate change”, losing the chance of driving the climate-is-dangerously-warming message home.

For them, it is simply the wrong kind of heat.

Another Spectacular Modelling Failure

From world-famous APOD:

Though the sizes are not to scale, the Sun and planets of the inner solar system are shown in this illustration, where each red dot represents an asteroid. New results from NEOWISE, the infrared asteroid hunting portion of the WISE mission, are shown on the left compared to old population projections of mid-size or larger near-Earth asteroids from surveys at visible wavelengths. And the good news is, NEOWISE observations estimate there are 40 percent fewer near-Earth asteroids that are larger than 100 meters (330 feet), than indicated by visible light searches. Based on infrared imaging, the NEOWISE results are more accurate as well. Heated by the Sun, asteroids of the same size radiate the same amount of infrared light, but can reflect very different amounts of visible sunlight depending on how shiny their surface is, or their surface albedo. That effect can bias surveys based on optical observations. NEOWISE results reduce the estimated number of mid-size near-Earth asteroids from about 35,000 to 19,500, but the majority still remain undiscovered.