Category Archives: Data

President Vaclav Klaus At The GWPF Inaugural Annual Lecture: Quasi-live Blogging

Since I couldn’t get enough connectivity in the conference hall tonight, here are my quasi-live notes about President Václav Klaus’ Inaugural Annual GWPF Lecture at The Great Room of Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufacturers and Commerce in London (UK):

(these notes are provided as they are, with very little corrections – I will post my own reflections later)

(UPDATE: see also Reuters)

(UPDATE: full text of the lecture at the GWPF website)

Atrocious weather getting worse…is Al Gore in town, by any chance?

Around 70 people. Klaus’ book free to all attendants.

I meet Rupert Wyndham of BBC’s Complaint Procedure fame

Packing up quickly. Many are diplomats, as I have later learned.

7:07 Lawson and Klaus

Peiser starts. There is a lectern this time and a microphone. Videorecording equipment.

Klaus introduced as political leader but also an intellectual, of the classical liberalism variety: individual liberty, limited government, freedom to dissent.

“couldn’t have chosen a more appropriate speaker”

Copenhagen failure, Climategate, IPCC debacle: change in the political atmosphere.

Pres Klaus has been calling for rational and freedom-loving people to respond to the threat posed by collective environmentalist hysteria.

7:10
Klaus’ accent sounds better than mine

Special thanks to Nigel Lawson. Large range of institutions that support those that doubt current-prevailing dogma. This is not enough. Bias, carefully-organised propaganda needs to be countered with rationality.

Cites Bob Carter. The issue is not the warming, but the “dangerous human-induced warming”. Scientific debate is not about the policy. Public-policy debate has enormous implications. Governments, politicians, lobbyists search to grab more decision power for themselves.

Response to climate change can become the most costly mistake in history after Communism.

Cites McKitrick. Nobody is an expert on global warming. Too many aspects. Every body is an amateur on many if not most topics.

There are many respectable but highly-conflicting scientific takes on the subject. We must resist the attempt to shut down the debate. Real risk is to end up renouncing democracy.

Need to separate environmentalist myths from theories.

Has followed the literature. Carbon dioxide is a minor player, not primary cause of global warming. Cites Nobel-laureate: carbon dioxide across geological scales. Planetary changes don’t ask for permission.

Dangerous public policy consequences: many have concluded the current hypothesis is very weak. Not sufficiently tested. Can’t be used for policy decisions without looking at alternatives, opportunity costs, etc.

That is why he wrote the book about “green shackles”. (humor: since you’ve all got it, no need to continue speaking). Published in 16 different languages including Japanese and Arabic.

A year after publication, “Appeal to Reason” by Nigel Lawson. Klaus wrote the preface.to the Czech edition.

We are not on the winning side yet, but looking back since the launching of the AGW propaganda at the Rio Summit in 1992 and subsequent general pickup of the hypothesis, things have been improving.

Reputation of the scientific integrity of some of the most prominent researchers has been undermined, eg the Hockey Stick that was the basis of the 2001 IPCC report: pseudoscientific mindset, faulty data selection, frenzied propaganda, unscrupulous campaign, dubious statistics, etc etc (it’s a citation)

Copenhagen 2009 showed heterogeneity of views,

Three simple facts GW armies should keep in mind

1- Global mean climate does change, has changed, and will undoubtedly change

Over last 10k years, climate has been much the same and average temperature has not changed. Long-term, slight cooling.
GW armies are presenting a few decades as a threat to the planet to respond to with a wholesale change of our lifestyles.

Why are they so successful? Doctrines usually take much longer. Specifics of our time? Constanlty online? Religions less attractive? Desire to refill the emptiness with a new noble cause, saving the planet?

Environmentalists discovered some “more noble” than our down-to-earth lives. Can’t be accepted by somebody that lived under “noble” communism.

2- Medium-term timescales, 150 years (joke about Keynes), temperatures have shown a warming.

This is since the Northern Hemisphere emerged from the LIA two centuries ago. Trend was repeatedly interrupted.

Warming is modest and everything suggests future warming and consequences are not a cause for concern and something to battle against.

3- CO2 in atmosphere sometimes precedes, sometimes follows temp increases. Not fully understood.

No need to dispute those facts. Dispute is when people claim the coincidence in time is a “proof” of AGW. This is the current doctrine. This has existed for centuries, always with nature as the “starting point” to go back to. People are considered a foreign element. But it makes no sense to speak of a world without people, because there would be nobody to speak to (laughter).

Mentions his studies of econometric modelling. No conclusion can be based on correlation of two or more time sequences. So simple correlations do not exist.

Eg CO2 emissions did not start to grow visibly until 1940s. Temperatures at times moved in the opposite way of CO2.

Statistical analysis doesn’t demonstrate anything. Two Chinese scientists used random walk model for global temp variations. Result shows the model perfectly fits the data. No need to add human effects. No other model has given a btter fit.

There are other aspects of the doctrine, not just the simple relationship between temps and CO2. Another is the idea that increasing temperatures will be detrimental to the planet.

Many environmentalists don’t want to save man, but nature. Economics for them is irrelevant. For example the Stern review and its unreasonably low discount rate (that was what prompted Klaus to join the debate). The choice of discount rate is critical (cites Lawson). High discount rate=little meaning in any intervention.

We should use the market rate, as it is the “opportunity cost” of climate mitigation. Stern and others do not want to do that.

Klaus doesn’t deny increasing temps will see losers and winners. Even if overall is going to be detrimental, with proper discount rates the consequences are too small to worry about.

Why do many people think differently? Many have invested too much in GW alarmism. Fear of losing out on the political and professional side. Biz people hoped to make a fortune and are not ready to write it off. There is a coalition of powerful special interests endangering us. (hence the subtitle of his book.

We need to stand up against all attempts to undermine our democratic society.

We need to be prepared to all kinds of future climate changes but never accept to lose our freedom

ends at 19″43

room is packed. >100

there is a video being taken

Peter Glover: Arctic forum. No engagement at all on the two sides. The “other side” never seems to have thought things through logically.

Klaus: Many scientists are engaged Journalist in The Times keeps receiving articles and books about the dogma. The fact that the other side doesn’t listen is not new to people that lived under Communism.

Q: Roll back the ETS in Europe?

Klaus: Cap-and-trade is one of the policy measures in the hands of the environmentalists. It’s not just the USA staying away from it. But the EU is post-democratic (laughter)

Hartwell (metallurgic engineer): Presentation is political. Royal Society published paper on climate change. Many scientists there are seriously interested. We should manage the risk of future rises in temperatures

Klaus: Not impressed by science established by committee or vote. Remember nobody is an expert in GW. Another quote from Bob Carter: wide range of disciplines among “climate” scientists. Most alarm from scientists from meteor and computer modelling. Geologists see no cause for alarm.

(argument ad providentiam)

Klaus says he has used computer models too. Computer modellers are not climatologists.

Q: Ecological modernisation used by many groups to look for environmental problems to push for technology. Amount of money in the academic community is very strong. WG-III is real push for IPCC.

Klaus: can’t understand sustainable development. Environment should be differentiated from GW.

Physicist: Comment on RS. Previous head didn’t’ give space to “deniers”. current document requires further revision. Draft Copenhagen agreement deals with putting together a world government (57? 58?). Why didn’t you use that?

Klaus: Only retirees dare write against AGW. COP-15 was so confused there was no point to go there. Details impossible to follow and not relevant. Documents have no writers and no readers

Q: Bloggers have changed the nature of the debate

Lawson: Yes. Extremely-expensive decisions should not be taken without a proper debate and there hasn’t been one. The RS has been obliged to move a little bit, not much, but more than nothing. Even the BBC says dissenting voice ought to be heard.

My questions

What would convince Pres Klaus that there is something to worry about? What would he choose, climate disruption or liberty?

Klaus: Empirical evidence is what is needed. Starting point still remains. Quality of measurements for example is important. Models are not convincing, too many mistakes in the methodologies, statistics, I am not convinced

Philosopher: The psychological side. Green lobbyists want to have cars and dirty industries banned. They found the scientific reason in AGW. Political agenda feeds on fear.

Klaus: One reason for scaring us disproved, another one pops up. My interests at the beginning of the 1970a. Could get only economical reviews and scientific publications. Couldn’t understand Club of Rome and Limits to Growth. That’s total nonsense. Same computer modellers of LtG continued with AGW. Same people.

Q: AGWers are organised by somebody?
Piers Corbyn: Prepare for extreme events…ask the UN to do that?

Klaus: Anybody controlling? People that have outlived communism are oversensitive regarding the issue of getting controlled

Q: Oxford Union debate, victory. Other side went for ad-homs. Wind farms are completely useless and evidence is transparent. How do rational politicians live with that knowledge?

Klaus`; Times journo asked if other leading politicians are against AGW? Many have similar views but are afraid to say it openly. Anecdote. Some nonsense is very evident. Solar energy during the night. Wind farm generation by electrical motors.

Lawson concludes. Mentions Klaus’ bravery as he is still in office.

end at 20:29

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Help Save Five Hundred Years Of Weather Observations

Collegio Romano in the 19th Century
Collegio Romano in the 19th Century

The prestigious collection of hundreds of years of weather observations, historical books and meteorological instruments from the Collegio Romano in Rome is at risk of being dispersed for good. Please sign the appeal to prevent such a disaster: http://www.petizionionline.it/petizione/salviamo-losservatorio-meteorologico-di-roma/2200 (in the signature section: “Nome”=First name; “Cognome”=Family name; “richiesto”=Mandatory field)

=========

A few days ago I have received the following letter via e-mail (translated and adapted in English from the original in Italian):

Dear friends,

It is with great sadness that I am forwarding the attached letter – press release by the staff at the Research Unit for Applied Meteorology and Climatology in Agriculture (in Italian: CRA-CMA), the direct descendant of the first Italian National Weather Station inaugurated in 1876 and headquartered at the Collegio Romano from 1879 (in an area previously occupied by the Meteorological Observatory built in 1782 by Abbot Giuseppe Calandrelli (the first to apply gravitational theory to cometary atmospheres)). I hope that those who have taken this decision will go back on it, at least reconsider this meteorological site, by declaring its historical importance for Italian meteorology. That would mean leaving untouched its Library, Historical Archives and the Museum of Ancient Meteorological and Seismographic Instruments, as well as the historic Calandrelli Observatory. The Library is at present unique in Italy, after the closure, in the 1990s, of the Air Force Weather Service Library.

Calandrelli Observatory
Calandrelli Observatory

The accompanying “press release” says the threatened closure is due to forced savings at the CRA, even if those same savings are pretty much doubtful (premises are free of rent, and the Italian Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has pledged to pay all CRA-CMA costs).

Signatures against the disappearance of the historical collections of CRA-CMA are being collected since Oct 2, but the hoped-for 5,000-signatory target is still far away. There is also a Facebook group (in Italian) where to show one’s support.

More details about CRA-CMA from the “press release”: the library, known as “Central Italian Meteorological Library”, boasts more than 40,000 rare and valuable Italian and foreign texts of meteorology and geophysics, some dating back to the 1500s; the area has played host to famous scientists who have made the history of meteorology (Galileo Galilei, Father Angelo Secchi, Enrico Fermi). There is also a collection of highly-valued rare and prestigious historical seismographic and meteorological instruments.

CRA-CMA still manages a network of weather stations located throughout the country. The historical archive of weather data is of unique importance (with six million data points for each observed weather variable) and is one of the few in the world with multi-centennial meteorological and climate data series. “Such data are key for the undertaking of climate studies aimed at land use, agrometeorology, renewable energy sources and energy saving. “To this day, CRA-CMA’s Rome Meteorological Observatory’s unbroken series of centuries of weather reporting remains of paramount importance for the study of climate changes in the city“.

As it happens, CRA-CMA’s Curator Dr Franca Mangianti is no rabid AGWer (time will tell if that’s got anything to do with the threatened closure):

Q: You take care of more than a century of continuous weather observations, recorded year after year in the “bulletins”. What can you tell us about climate change? Are we really going towards a catastrophe?

A: Actually, regarding the “global warming” issues, our data tell us that the temperature in Rome has increased 0.8C during a hundred years, i.e. less than a degree. That’s very little really. Historically Earth has seen long cold and warm periods (we are talking about years and sometimes centuries). Over the past twenty years, for example, we have experienced a warmer period and it is therefore quite normal that temperatures have slightly increased. This does not mean that temperatures will go up forever. Indeed, it is very likely that in a few years they will start going down again. Unfortunately a kind of excessive alarmism bases itself on the application of mathematical models to meteorological data, without including a proper analysis of the past. About rainfall, however, the last century has certainly seen a decrease. In Rome, it rains now far less than in the past and this better be considered before embarking into exaggerated alarms, for example, about future floods of the river Tiber. With rains like we get nowadays, and the protections built on Garibaldi’s inspiration, you can be sure that the Tiber in Rome will not overflow again.

An interesting article among the scientific literature that has come out of CRA-CMA:

M. Colacino and A. Lavagnini, Evidence of the urban heat island in Rome by climatological analyses, Theoretical and Applied Climatology, Volume 31, Numbers 1-2, 87-97, DOI: 10.1007/BF02311344

The analysis of air temperature data covering a period of 12 years (1964-1975) in a meteorological station network situated in the low Tiber Valley, shows clearly the effect of the heat urban island due to the city of Rome. This effect occurs with different intensity according to the seasons and to minimum and maximum temperatures.

And lest anybody thinks Exxon and the Koch brothers have been busy taking over a meteorological station in Rome:

Andrea Toreti and Franco Desiato, Changes in temperature extremes over Italy in the last 44 years, International Journal of Climatology, Volume 28, Issue 6, pages 733–745, May 2008, DOI: 10.1002/joc.1576

Changes in temperature extremes over Italy from 1961 to 2004 were evaluated on the basis of minimum and maximum temperatures measured by 49 synoptic stations uniformly distributed over the country. A set of extreme temperature indices of the Commission for Climatology/Climate Variability and Predictability (CCl/CLIVAR) Working Group on Climate Change Detection was calculated and statistically analysed in order to detect the presence of trends and quantify the variations of the indices for different time periods. Most of the indices, averaged over all stations, show a cooling trend until the end of the 1970s followed by a more pronounced warming trend in the last 25 years. The net variation of the indices reflects an increase in the extremes of the temperature distribution. Among the most significant results, an average increase of 12.3 summer days and 12.4 tropical nights in the overall 44 years are estimated. No significant differences between northern, central and southern Italy are found for most indices, indicating that the trends originate from large-scale climate features; however, the largest increase of tropical nights is observed at coastal stations. Copyright © 2007 Royal Meteorological Society

Please do sign, and ask people to sign, the online petition to save CRA-CMA.

Part of the Library at Collegio Romano
Part of the Library at Collegio Romano

UPDATE: Here’s the English version of the online petition

The historical meteorological observatory of the Collegio Romano, in operation for 228 years, has been told to vacate its premises occupied from 1879. To this moment, nobody knows where it will be moved to, and worse, nobody knows what will be the future location of its Library, immense historical Archives and collection of old instruments, a priceless heritage cared for during more than two centuries by many great people with lots of passion.

The situation arises from research cuts put in place on September 27 by the CRA (Council for Research and Experimentation in Agriculture). One has to wonder how they could agree on such a decision, what the real reasons could be and how it is possible that a “Research Institute” could throw away a historical *research* archive built for over two centuries!

The closure of the observatory at the Collegio Romano is a barbaric act, against the history, culture and meteorological tradition of Rome and of Italy. The observatory is a precious piece of history that once pulled apart, will never recover.

There are further questions about the decision since, in the words of staff at the observatory, “the premises are rent-free and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has formally committed itself to support all operating expenses”. The Library, known as the Central Library of the Italian Meteorology, has been claimed as state property in 1998, and it is composed of more than 15,000 Italian and foreign, rare and valuable books of meteorology and geophysics, some dating back to the 1500s. It is also the main historical archvie for the meteorological and geophysics Italian studies in the modern age, and has been visited over the centuries by the likes of Galileo Galilei, Father Angelo Secchi, Enrico Fermi.

Alongside the books, there are many valuable weather and seismic instruments, showing the evolution of measurement systems in Italy. The historic weather archive – one of the few data series in the world covering several centuries – consists of over six million disaggregated data points for each weather variable.

The Bernacca Association, hoping to be joined in its efforts by other weather-related associations, is opposed to this decision. We want to save a priceless heritage that some “enlightened minds” are trying to squander.

SIGN THE PETITION
Please insert your real name (Nome) and family name (Cognome), a valid email (it will be used to confirm your support) and choose any password of your liking. You can leave a Comment in the Commento box

Live Microblogging Of GWPF – Montford – Bishop Hill Climategate Enquiries Presentation

I am at the House of Lords for the GWPF / Montford / Bishop Hill presentation of the climategate inquiries report

Follow @mmorabito67 on Twitter for live updates from 10am GMT

UPDATE: here the relevant Twitter entries in chronological order

  • Delingpole, Warehouse in attendance
  • Lord Lawson, Benny Peer, Lord Turnbull, Andrew Montford ready to go
  • Benny Peiser of course – curse you, Android!
  • And that was Whitehouse 😛
  • Starts right on time. Turnbull first
  • Turnbull: so far boys-will-be-boys defence. ButBritish science reputation important.
  • Turnbull: climate policy ipcc-based in UK demands almost complete decarbonisation
  • People questions if science is solid enough to warrant these sacrifices
  • Climategate enquiries timely but did they answer the original questions? New parliam commit looking at things again
  • Missing is review of science that select committee thought would be done by Oxburgh and was not
  • Montford reads. Starts with lack of independence
  • Panels full of campaigners, no skeptic selected
  • Serious allegations overlooked, selected papers by UEA and Jones themselves
  • Known fraud evidence not considered at all
  • Sir Muir Russell informed of FOI breach but did nothing about it
  • Curry, von Storch critical of the enquiries too. Reputation of British science is on the line
  • Peiser underlines it’s the enquiries that are under scrutiny, not the original allegations
  • Times journo challenges Montford on Jones’ selection claim. Good answer.
  • Turnbull: flaws from day one, prejudicial remarks, little representativity, flawed processes
  • I asked: enquiries give free hands to fraudsters as long as it’s not too serious a fraud: Bishop is more optimistic
  • Telegraph journalist asks Lords’ own opinion. Lawson mentions huge cloud of doubt when emails came out
  • Inquiries are the expertise of Lord Turnbull -these ones failed to close the debate on Climategate
  • They may be right about the science, so why did UEA engage on disreputable behaviour?
  • Guardian journalist asks how report was written (desktop job)
  • Why the Bishop? Lawson asks to judge report on merits
  • Turnbull: parliament is listening to Sir Muir and the others too
  • Montford: plenty of citations in my report if anybody is looking for them
  • Telegraph: new info? Russell minutes on website, recently available
  • UEA head of IT: Briffa took home some emails. Russell did not even mention this
  • Turnbull: can we really do AR5 as if nothing had happened
  • Lawson: there is no indication the ipcc will implement the recommendations
  • The ipcc hid the decline – very disreputable – even if Jones mentioned it in the original articles
  • Montford: only mention of hiding at the very last moment in AR4
  • Whither the IPCC? Lawson: doubts undermine its purpose
  • MP already in Sci Tech committee: our outcome not influenced by our chairman remarks
  • Continues: surprise by huge gaps when we asked none there would be
  • More: Jones and Briffa cannot reproduce their work. “Very disturbing”
  • Meeting closes at 10:53am Gmt

Live Microblogging Of McIntyre and Holland At Climategate GWPF London Event

I just came out of tonight’s GWPF event in London, chaired by Benny Peiser and with Lord Lawson in the audience.  Guest speakers about Climategate were David Holland and Steve McIntyre.

(links added – most of them… I will put all the links tonight)

As usual, here my notes as published live on @mmorabito67 (my “main” Twitter account remains @omnologos):

(for clarity, my own remarks are in italic)

  1. Around 35 in the audience so far. Holland already seated
  2. Lord Lawson and McIntyre in the room
  3. There we go. Attendance around 50
  4. Peiser quotes damning article by Harrabin in December (and here’s the quote unless the UEA inquiry is demonstrably impartial it will fail, and a new fully independent enquiry will almost certainly have to be formed“)
  5. Holland first, about his data requests
  6. Holland details how nobody could have checked the data before Kyoto’s
  7. Holland “no poor soldiers, only poor generals”
  8. Holland’s tells a tale of obfuscation by MetOffice reminding me of opening chapter of HHGTTG
  9. Holland: Russell report full of factual errors, no investigation of effort to delete emails
  10. Room almost full now
  11. McIntyre’s title slide “The ‘Inquiries'”
  12. McIntyre: 98% emails about Hockey Stick
  13. McIntyre: independent temp reconstructions not so – same names keep appearing
  14. McIntyre: Jones, Mann, Briffa prodigious writers of HS-related articles also reviewing each other
  15. McIntyre: CRU secretive to protect funding without investing on quality control
  16. FOI at stake on this but many don’t get how important it is
  17. McIntyre: first upload of emails was to RealClimate, as if a prank
  18. McIntyre makes fun of counterterrorism involvement
  19. McIntyre: UEA not investigating in the open – parliamentary reporters too clever compared to environmental ones?
  20. McIntyre: parliamentary committee left science to Oxburgh
  21. McIntyre: “trick” needed to “preserve the message” by IPCC
  22. It all sounds like propaganda reports before the Vietnam war opened eyes of journalists to the now-obvious lies
  23. McIntyre: independent science Oxburgh commission sent email from UEA
  24. McIntyre: Oxburgh left no notes or any documentation – no science examined – articles chosen by UEA
  25. Why would Lord Oxburgh want to associate his name to such a disaster?
  26. McIntyre: mention “sleight of hand” quote by UK MP
  27. McIntyre: Russell’s findings not based on anybody else but UEA, (slightly nutty) reference to “natural justice”
  28. McIntyre: mentions Harrabin referring to him as the most knowledgeable about CRU science outside UEA
  29. McIntyre: Muir Russell did not go to Jones’ interviews – no rigour, no due diligence
  30. McIntyre: odd that interviews conducted by climate activist with years of UEA work
  31. McIntyre: Jones’ request to delete emails a day later FOI request
  32. McIntyre is steadily destroying Sir Muir Russell’s credibility
  33. McIntyre: no accountability in the system
  34. McIntyre: climate science is being depreciated among public by hiding of adverse data
  35. McIntyre: climate sensitivity an issue. We can’t wait for absolute certainty
  36. First q: did MWP happen?
  37. I asked about consequences on democracy and why bother at all. Upbeat answers by Peiser and Holland
  38. Peiser speculates scientists’ jobs at stake, grandees took credibility hits as no gross misconduct apparent
  39. IPCC is not following most/any of the recommendations
  40. McIntyre: grudging consensus against preventing the release of data – would be idiotic strategy in civil lawsuit
  41. McIntyre: EPA has hockey stick among evidence – very unwise (I can’t find where and when that happened)
  42. Climategate has put the EPA in “uncomfortable position”
  43. Peiser: GWPF’s push for effective policies is gaining ground
  44. Peiser: GWPF report by Andrew Montford out end of Aug 2010
  45. Sunday Times enviro journalist: have scientists tried to present a clean narrative where knowledge still fuzzy?
  46. Holland hopeful science community understands things have to change
  47. McIntyre sees no change, grand statements, critics being blamed
  48. McIntyre: if hockey stick won’t matter, get rid of it. Plenty of PhD’s in readership, IPCC should focus more
  49. Peiser concludes hoping Climategate has changed Science and made it more open and transparent

Venus Awakening

Steve Goddard in WUWT, May 7, 2010? Luboš Motl in the reference frame, same date?

Sure, but what about Omniclimate’s 4-part series starting Feb 27, 2008? (Here parts 2, 3 and 4)

Or Omnologos’ now ancient Aug 17, 2007 post?

Alas, there was some mention of it in a July 2007 Elsevier book. But who cares? What is important is that the stale orthodoxy about Venus’ “runaway greenhouse effect” is starting to dissipate.

As forecasted in “Venus Forecast” 35 months ago: “In a few years, the old ideas of Fred Singer will come back into fashion.

Venus’ retrograde rotation, incredibly massive atmosphere and relatively young (<500 million years) surface will be elegantly explained by the crash of a massive satellite half a billion years ago (with subsequent melting of much if not the whole crust, and humongous outgassing).

Current lead-melting surface temperatures will be just as beautifully explained by simple adiabatic processes.

The role of CO2 in the heating of the atmosphere via some “greenhouse effect” will be seriously reconsidered and almost completely dismissed.

UPDATE May 10: WUWT has a new post on Venus. Among the comments, a link to another blog making a similar point (Oct 7, 2009) and to a brief communication by Carl Sagan in the pages of the Astrophysical Journal (1967) estimating the surface temperature without a single mention of the “runaway greenhouse effect”.

If It Looks Like UHI, Heats Like UHI, And Graphs Like UHI, Then It Probably Is UHI

by Guido Guidi and Maurizio Morabito

Our friend Teo has just expressed his personal and perfectly reasonable opinions about new, old publishing venture called “Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change (WIRCC)“.

In fact, we find it hard to disagree with him.

The subject of Urban Heat Islands (UHI) is topical, and it is somewhat ironic that such a self-evident effect is so happily dismissed away by AGW proponents. One suspects UHI is extremely inconvenient and uncomfortable to consider to those strictly supporting only the greenhouse-gas-emission side of AGW theory.

Who them? By sheer coincidence, only the greenhouse-gas-emission side of AGW theory can be used to dictate deep societal changes. But that’s another story.

Let’s just add some considerations based on a Willis Eschenbach post on WUWT. It’s a simple but eloquent analysis of a dataset of temperatures, with measures coming from about seventy stations over Northern Europe. Interestingly, an analysis of the monthly data across the decades for the duration of the dataset, shows a warming trend to be occurring primarily in winter months.

NORDKLIM Decadal monthly temperatures, 1900-1999
NORDKLIM Decadal monthly temperatures, 1900-1999

And what kind of forcing is especially important in the coldest period of the year? No prize for guessing that one right. This is precisely what is expected from the UHI effect, and it is due to changes over time to the environment surrounding the measurement equipments. Roads, buildings, infrastructure are built, woods are fallen and so on. That’s “Anthropogenic” as well, of course, and it has all the potential for local and global consequences.

Data so heavily biased are simply not compatible with the currently fashionable “globalization of forcing“, the mistaken belief that temperatures overwhelmingly taken on land and in heavily urbanized areas, are representative of the thermal state of the entire Blue Planet.

Think of it for a minute. We are talking about temperature anomalies with a positive trend coming from winter months. We are talking of continental regions at high latitudes. We are talking about winters with little insolation, in areas with a high albedo (reflecting visible light!) due to large amounts of snow cover.

  • Temperature sensors, under those specific conditions, show a gradual Winter warming

In the summer, with a much lower visible-light albedo in the absence of snow, the incoming solar radiation is absorbed and then re-emitted as longer waves: exactly those “captured” by greenhouse gases.

  • Temperature sensors, despite the abundance of infrared radiation, show no Summer warming

How could the positive anomalies be ascribed to a greenhouse effect, that remains a mystery to us. It definitely looks like this is enough to ring more than a few alarm bells, no matter what has been said in the past and by whom.

And the problem of telling between the greenhouse gas contribution to warming, and all other anthropogenic and natural effects, does not just apply to urban setting. It remains to be seen about who’s going to care about it, bringing forward a better understanding of the climate, rather than continuing to run like headless chicken always after the next CO2 molecule, as if it were volcanic ash…

A Brief History Of Dashed UHI Hopes

by Teodoro Georgiadis – slightly romanced English version by Maurizio Morabito

And there I am, at the beginning of March 2010: me and the brand-new, Volume 1, Number 1 , January / February 2010 issue of “Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change (WIRCC)” . Editor in Chief: Mike Hulme.

Wow, a fresh journal on Global Climate Change!

Even better: according to itself, the journal is meant as

a unique platform for exploring current and emerging knowledge from the many disciplines that contribute to our understanding of this phenomenon – environmental history, the humanities, physical and life sciences, social sciences, engineering and economics

Wouldn’t that be a welcome novelty, in a world post-climategate, post-submerged Holland, post-quickly disappearing Himalayan glaciers, post-Amazongate…in short, in a world that has seen an intense and compact series of scientific downpours on concepts perhaps too quickly assumed as established truth.

Downstream of Copenhagen, a new journal following WIRCC’s statement of intent would surely sport a truly different outlook: new style, new peer-reviewers, new structure all with the goal of providing science with the required level of objectivity, sadly and mostly missing in contemporary climate discourse.

I proceed therefore with all enthusiasm to select an article of surefire interest to me:

David E. Parker, “Urban heat island effects on estimates of observed climate change” p 123-133, Published Online: Dec 22 2009 12:42PM DOI: 10.1002/wcc.21

That’s it then! Finally we can leave the “gates du jour” behind and improve our knowledge of climate change.

Or maybe not.

First reference: IPCC. Second reference: Jones et al. (with Wang).

Wait a sec…what’s going on?

OK let’s move forward…alas, only to find something truly amazing:

the influence of urban heat islands on estimates of global warming is limited by the fact that about 70% of the Earth’s surface is ocean and is absolutely unaffected by urban warming

Say what? Oh yes, the Blue Planet, ever the envy of nasty aliens such as those in HG Wells’ “War of the Worlds”. But hang on…most of the network of temperature measuring stations is literally on solid ground…if you place them on a map they’ll be a bunch of dots almost exactly superimposed to cities. As for the ocean temperatures, we know very well how they are derived.

This isn’t looking good.

Anything better?

Exclusion of urban sites, or selective use of rural sites, requires information (‘metadata’) about the site and its surroundings

Yes, yes…ah, that refers to a 2005 J Clim paper by Peterson and Owen…isn’t that the same Peterson unceremoniously criticized for example by McIntyre on Climate Audit, regarding the peculiar classifications of urban and rural stations? There is a truly remarkable definition of “Parking Lot Effect” on that site.

How strange though, of all the past and present discussions and questions on the topic, Parker manages to mention exactly nothing. Well, at least that might explain the article’s conclusions:

The urban heat island has had only a minor impact on estimates of global trends”… The impact is small because assiduous efforts have been made by the compilers of global surface air temperature records to avoid or compensate for urban warming

Assiduous effort“? Amen to that.

Current and EMERGING knowledge?” Not by a long shot.

My conclusions: “Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change (WIRCC)“? New journal, same old story.

EUFAR's Measurement Flights Of Volcanic Ashes

Alas, the “major measurement news” are coming out slower than expected. Anyway: all those interested can head off to the European Facility for Airborne Research  (EUFAR), where a mailing list has been set up to share information (not sure if that’s open to the public yet).

Here’s EUFAR’s relevant page as of now:

Measurement flights of volcanic ashes

This page will be updated regularly with new information.

Next EUFAR teleconference tomorrow Wednesday 21st at 2:00 P.M. (CET)

  • to report what has been measured so far
  • to share experiences.

2 teleconferences took place to discuss the “Status about the volcanic ashes measurement flights”:
– on the 19/04/2010 – meeting 01
– on the 20/04/2010 – meeting 02.

A mailing list to exchange information about the ash measurements is already operational. Please contact bureau@eufar.net to subscribe or un-subscribe.
A webpage has also been created. It is available from the “What’s new?” section of the EUFAR website homepage www.eufar.net or directly at:http://www.eufar.net/wiki/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/EufarCMS/VolcanicAshes?skin=view.
A repository to share all the data collected within the aircraft operators and the scientific community will be set up by Wendy Garland from BADC. You will be informed when this is completed (in the next few days).

Volcanic Debacle, Failed Models, And Mean "Greens"

Sounds like anthropogenic global warming, doesn’t it? The danger exists, but it is being senselessly exaggerated.

What if behind the decision to stop flights on a continental scale were the failure of a whole way of thinking public policy in Europe, with an asinine fixation on using computer models?

What if the aftermath of weeks of anthropogenic fear about millions dying of swine flu or maybe not, and the aftermath of weeks of anthropogenic fear about volcanic cloud making airplanes drop from the sky like flies or maybe not…what if people finally opened their eyes about the extreme limitations of computer modeling?

Who knows. Meanwhile, let me state clearly that I am fully aware of the potential risks for an airplane flying in the wrong conditions and at the wrong time through a cloud of volcanic origin. But there are enough indications to doubt the necessity of a reaction even remotely like the irrational panic that is causing the closure of European air spaces.

For example, the famous BA9 flight that almost crashed in 1982, was not the only flight to pass through that area. Wikipedia reports that the airspace around the Galunggung volcano was temporarily closed after the accident, reopened days later and permanently shut only after a similar incident to a Singapore Airlines flight around 19 days later, on July 13, 1982.

Indeed, there are indications that the first “encounter” with the ashes from Galunggung had occurred on April 5. That is, in three months and with little precaution taken, only twice the conditions were bad enough for flights to experience severe problems. And even if we consider the famous eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991, despite the resulting cloud being able to travel 8,000 kilometers to the East Coast of Africa, the total tally was of 20 “damaged” planes, none of them as badly as BA9.

Think about it…billions and billions of flight hours since the Wright brothers, thousands and thousands of flight accidents of all sort and a grand total of 22 issues with volcanic ash, none of it deadly.

Sounds like anthropogenic global warming, doesn’t it? The danger exists, but it is being senselessly exaggerated. Even a recent NASA study, stating that virtually invisible and imperceptible volcanic clouds can still cause serious damage to an aircraft, can’t dispel the doubts since, were that to be true, the effect of ash would have been long noticed in the maintenance of thousands of airplanes.

Anyway…where reason fails, money can still rule the day, hence the airlines’ discontent about the decision to keep everybody grounded. Lufthansa and Air Berlin protested first to the newspapers, and even Niki Lauda moved swiftly from caution to crying foul after finding out that the cloud of Eyjafjallajökull is not everywhere and anywhere in Europe.

Besides, once the Met Office has been found out as the main reason for the air space closure, and one of its computer models, memories of recent colossal gaffes and prediction errors just make it humanly impossible to avoid a good deal of skepticism…

There is also a clear problem with procedures. What has happened in 2010 that is so fundamentalle different from 2004 for example, when the Icelandic volcano Grímsvötn caused disruption of flights but in a limited area, and only resulted in precaution about flying some parts of the North Sea?

On Sunday, trade associations of European airports and airlines have issued a statement asking why a definitely not uncommon event (Iceland is full of volcanoes and eruptions follow one another) provoked different reactions in Europe than anywhere else in the world.

How difficult could it be to close part of the Icelandic and Atlantic airspace, fly some planes and launch some balloons to measure the situation, double-check aircrafts after they land in surrounding areas? And in fact that is what is probably going to happen anyway, and measurements have already started in earnest on Monday 19 (details in German: here, here and here).

Meanwhile, reknown experts are starting to speak up against the madness. Here’s an interview (in Italian) with Prof Guido Visconti of the University of L’Aquila, Italy. Prof Visconti teaches Atmospheric Physics, is Director of the local Extreme Phenomena Center, and has worked in the past with NASA and Harvard University. His opinion? “Much precaution about nothing…we have started taking measurements today in Italy and what we see is small and unimportant“.

======

Concluding with a note of regret, one has to report (but not necessarily link) various sites who take actual pleasure in what has happened, because for a few days you there is a little less emissions of CO2, and also humanity gets to suffer instead of being happy and flying. Too bad for the people of Kenya, right?

Ash Cloud – Expect Major Measurement News On Tuesday

Can’t reveal much now but well-respected international air measurement organizations have been busy measuring up the volcanic material above the European skies, on Monday (finally). This means that we can expect for early Tuesday major news about where there are actual problems for flying.

This may or may not have anything to do with the newly-found courage by UE Transport Ministers, finally seeing the light in managing the volcanic ash risk, instead of cowering in panic.

Met Office Atmospheric Models Cause International Chaos – Why Am I Not Surprised?

The old computational forecasting wizards at the Met Office are behind the decision of closing so much of Europe’s airspace.

Of course they are.

(yes, it’s “well-proven” models, no direct measurement, the works!)

From the Herald Sun:

German airlines Lufthansa and Air Berlin said the decision to close much of Europe’s airspace was not based on proper testing. They said that their aircraft showed no signs of damage after flying without passengers.

The decision to close the airspace was made exclusively as a result of data from a computer simulation at the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre in London,” Air Berlin chief executive Joachim Hunold said.

The “Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre in London”? Here it is, at the Met Office:

When a volcano in its area of responsibility erupts, the London Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), based at the Met Office, runs the NAME atmospheric dispersion model. This, and similar models, are well proven and we can use them to predict the spread of pollutants following a chemical or nuclear leak or even the spread of airborne diseases. In this case we use the dispersion model to forecast the spread of volcanic ash plumes.

The London VAAC forecaster provides the location, start time, release height and the top and bottom of the plume (if known) and the model is run. It takes about 15 minutes to complete.

Output from this model is in a map-based graphical format, and can detail expected ash concentrations over a large region. The forecaster uses this detail to prepare the volcanic ash advisory message with the expected positions of the ash plume for up to 24 hours ahead.

The Advisory message is then used by aviation authorities to decide whether airspace needs to be closed to prevent aircraft encountering volcanic ash.

Note how the Met Office washes its hands from any decision, and yet in all those years with NAME, it has apparently decided not to complement the model results with in-situ measurements. A “revolutionary” idea brought forward at present by Lufthansa itself…

Not one single weather balloon has been sent up to measure how much volcanic ash is in the air.” Lufthansa spokesman Klaus Walter added. “The flight ban, made on the basis just of computer calculations, is resulting in billion-high losses for the economy […] In future we demand that reliable measurements are presented before a flying ban is imposed.”

English-World Exclusive: Little Wonder Some Glaciers Are Melting…

(mysteriously, this piece of very interesting news has so far only appeared in Italian)

(ANSA) – AOSTA, April 9 – City-like pollution levels on the Everest and the entire Himalayan range. That’s the conclusion of project Share – Stations at High Altitude for Research on the Environment – sponsored by the EvK2Cnr Committee and highlighted in studies published by researchers at ISAC-CNR in Bologna, Italy and Lgge-CNRS in  Grenoble, France.

All observations were taken at the Nepal Climate Observatory, a.k.a. the Italian National Research Council (CND) “Pyramid”, at an altitude of 5,079 meters on the south side of the Everest. The samples were collected in the  pre-monsoon season, when pollutants from the Asian Brown Cloud are more easily transported to the high peaks of the Himalayas. According to Angela Marinoni, ISAC researcher, pollutant levels observed in early April are already beyond the already high levels reached in previous years”.

“Black carbon is close to 6 micrograms per cubic meter”, continued Marinoni, “and PM1 (the amount of fine dust)  largely exceeded 100 micrograms per cubic meter, a value never recorded at the observatory”.

These concentrations are so high, they exceed the EU-sanctioned alarm thresholds for air quality in cities. Moreover, according to Paolo Cristofanelli, head of Share’s atmospheric activities, ”these worrying particulate concentrations are accompanied by high levels of ozone, a highly-oxidizing greenhouse gas that is formed in atmosphere in the presence of primary pollutants and solar radiation” .

Original 09/04/2010 13:45 ANSA

The 32-Step Lifecycle Of Climate Alarms

As further evidence of divine sense of humor, Arctic sea ice extent is back to average exactly as new research indicates much of the recent decline is “not a direct result of global warming“.

One may be forgiven to think that reports about the opening up of most of the Arctic to ice-free summer navigation might have been premature.

Hasn’t this script been read to us before? Yes it has: about the disappearing snows of Kilimanjaro, the terrifying future hurricane seasons in the North Atlantic, the upcoming extinction of (often, drowning) polar bears, the slowing down to a crawl of the Gulf Stream, the warming-sea death of coral reefs.

But there is no need to be fooled any longer. Just keep yourself aware of the 32-step lifecycle of a climate alarm, especially if linked about Anthropogenic Global Warming (as they all nowadays are):

  1. Researchers make a barely-tamed if not completely wild claim in a scientific journal: if human GHG emissions were to continue apace, there could be dire consequences to “whatever”
  2. The claim appears in a press release by the lead author’s institution, alongside even wilder claims that were not scientifically printable but are spread around anyway
  3. Most major (and minor) news media engage in churnalism, i.e. they repeat the press release as-is with little consideration for critical thinking, just in case it may ruin the story
  4. Other editors decide the alleged consequences are not dire enough and order a further spicing up of the story
  5. George Monbiot tells us in his blog how bad he feels about “whatever”, with the help of a relevant anecdote possibly involving flowers
  6. On the basis of the above, environmental movements issue more press releases, and e-mail campaigns materialize at once, raising the alarm about “whatever” on the basis of (of course!) the “latest scientific research”
  7. The environmentalists’ press releases are fed to the newsmedia to pummel the public with another salvo of alarmism
  8. The claims percolate through the web and reach alarmist blogs. Once again, the story is repeated with not a hint of reasoning and not a shadow of doubt
  9. People start speculating how could skeptics ever live in the knowledge that “whatever” is going to be destroyed by AGW
  10. More serious places like the Nature blogs, the BBC Science News pages and NationalGeographic.com can’t help publishing about the latest claims, substituting critical thinking for a barrage of links to external, strictly-alarmist sites
  11. Suddenly, the news get populated of fear-inducing “evidence” that confirm the original claim was way too tame, and “things are worse than we thought”. Articles are accompanied by pictures of polar bears
  12. Wikipedia’s entries about “whatever” and climate change are updated
  13. An article by Bill McKibben is printed in well-known generalist magazines describing exactly how bad things are going to be for “whatever”, in case we don’t all mend our ways. News-gathered “evidence” is included, explaining that in the future we will hear “more of the same” kind of reporting
  14. In due course, people including scientists interested in discovering what is real about climate change and what is not, they start to notice that the alarms and claims are not based on strong scientific evidence, at least not as strong as claimed
  15. Somebody posts a blog or comment highlighting how, tucked away in the original article’s and press release’s full texts and unbeknownst to most churnalists and alarmist bloggers, there were very clear caveats, indicating: (a) results as “preliminary”, (b) data as “insufficient” and (c) “more studies” as “needed”
  16. These doubts percolate through the web and reach skeptical blogs, where they are repeated in a storm of criticism against the alarmists and (alas!) the original researchers themselves
  17. James Delingpole posts a blog making fun of George Monbiot
  18. Many alarmist blogs reply to any kind of doubt by denouncing a giant conspiracy by evil fossil-fuel corporations paying tens of millions of dollars to fund skeptical blogs
  19. Unanswered, doubts remain
  20. Miraculously, a new post in “Skeptical Science” demonstrates how anything (anything!) a skeptic ever thinks is wrong, as shown in the published literature
  21. A blog appears on RealClimate rebutting the doubts with rather unwise statements that, taken literally, might be used to undermine AGW alarmism
  22. Where the best scientists are involved, a new scientific paper gets published, highlighting which issues are most important to figure out, and asking for more funding as results are preliminary, data is insufficient and more studies are needed
  23. For some reason, the now-established fact that the original claims have been shown incorrect and/or premature does not appear in the news media and alarmist blogs (“climategate” notwithstanding)
  24. On DotEarth, Andrew Revkin posts a blog stating that things are not as clear-cut as they seem, skeptics and believers are both wrong, but AGW is real nevertheless and remains so independently from the claims about “whatever”
  25. Joe Romm preaches again to the converted, wondering aloud why Revkin is not toeing the alarmist line
  26. A couple of years pass…the “evidence” reported by the news disappear as all data indicate a return to “average conditions”
  27. Vicky Pope tells the media that we should not be looking for climate evidence in a record covering just a few years
  28. Nobody has the courage to publish an article or blog saying how sorry they are about having raised a demonstrably baseless alarm
  29. The online alarmist debate ignores that all and oscillates between “how can skeptics face the risk of the destruction of ‘whatever’ being right, and they wrong?” and “when can we have our climate dictatorship please”
  30. Wikipedia’s entries about “whatever” and climate change are not updated
  31. In the meanwhile, due to the law of diminishing returns and the fact that nobody can see any clear AGW climatic effect anywhere, the general public grows a little more weary of alarmism
  32. It’s time for a new article where researchers make a barely-tamed if not completely wild claim in a scientific journal: if human GHG emissions were to continue apace, there could be dire consequences to “whatever else”

In all likelihood, the above is happening right now about ocean acidification. Somebody, please make a reality TV show out of this comedy.

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

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.

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?

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.

Scientific Journalism Is Moribund, Dead, Perhaps Alive

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I envy the climate scientists of 2085.

Raypierre Still Doesn't Get It

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

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

(stand-up comedy shouldn’t be far)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Somebody did try to re-iterate my point:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(traffic news, BBC own ads)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GL – Asks Harrabin to go back to that point.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Complete Microblogging Of Tonight's Pielke Jr vs Ward vs Muir Wood London Debate

I have left less than one hour ago the Royal Institution in London where a debate has taken place with Roger Pielke Jr, Bob Ward and Robert Muir Wood moderated by the Guardian’s James Randerson. I will blog with more details in the next few days or maybe even tonight: for now, you can read the whole thing as microblogged live by me on Twitter starting from here.

There has been a remarkable consensus and at one point it even looked like they were going to kiss each other.  For example everybody agreed the IPCC procedures must be considerably changed before next report is out…

ps please note that my main (English) account on Twitter remains “omnologos”.

ADDENDUM 1: my Ordered Notes About The Pielke Jr vs Ward vs Muir Wood London Debate

ADDENDUM 2: thanks to Steven McIntyre for pointing to the MP3 of the debate (there’s even me asking a question between 55:08 and 55:29) (I have been trying to post these links at Pielke Jr’s blog but no luck so far)

ADDENDUM 3: Josh has a cartoonist’s report of the debate at Bishop Hill. Also, more live tweets of the events are available from Christine Ottery and Tony Plant.

ADDENDUM 4: More blogs on the topic: Chris Cooper at Samizdata.net, Amelia Gregory at Amelia’s Magazine

Bering Strait: Cryosphere Today vs Real World

Thanks to NASA’s Earth Observatory site, a (rare?) opportunity to compare Arctic sea ice extension as shown on Cryosphere Today with the real world (as seen by the Terra satellite).

DISCLAIMER: The following should in no way be interpreted as suggesting anything untoward is being done at Cryosphere Today

The Earth Observatory’s “Image of the Day” for Jan 16, 2010 shows “Ice and Clouds in the Bering Strait“.

Ice and Clouds in the Bering Strait
Fig. 1 - Ice and Clouds in the Bering Strait

What are we looking at? The shapes of the islands clearly indicate it’s the sea between the Russian and Alaska coasts just to the South of St Lawrence Island.

St Lawrence Island
Fig. 2 - St Lawrence Island
Part of the Bering Strait (from Google Maps)
Fig. 3 - Part of the Bering Strait (from Google Maps)
Part of the Bering Strait (from Google Maps)
Fig. 4 - Part of the Bering Strait (from Google Maps)

Let’s take now the sea ice extent image from Cryosphere Today, for Jan 16, 2010, and zoom in to the area described above:

Cryosphere Today, Jan 16, 2010
Fig. 5 -Cryosphere Today, Jan 16, 2010
Detail from Cryosphere Today, Jan 16, 2010
Fig. 6 - Detail from Cryosphere Today, Jan 16, 2010
Detail from Cryosphere Today, Jan 16, 2010
Fig. 7 - Detail from Cryosphere Today, Jan 16, 2010

We can finally compare Fig. 7 with Fig. 1.

Ice and Clouds in the Bering Strait
Fig. 1 - Ice and Clouds in the Bering Strait

What is evident is that the Cryosphere Today processing eliminates the kind of ice that can be found right at the edge of the pack (visible as “dendrils” after a suitable magnification). The neat sea ice – open water distinction is a computational illusion.

"wavy tendrils—newly formed, thin sea ice"
Fig. 8 - "wavy tendrils—newly formed, thin sea ice"

Other evidence of missing sea ice from the Cryosphere Today image is along the Alaskan coast, for example in the black, apparently ice-free “shadow” of Nunivak island

Nunivak Island
Fig. 9 - Nunivak Island
Cryosphere Today, around Nunivak Island
Fig. 10 - Cryosphere Today, around Nunivak Island
Nunivak Island, Jan 16, 2010
Fig. 11 - Nunivak Island, Jan 16, 2010

Seemingly, the ice around the island is “broken up” by its presence, and for some reason disappears in a restricted area in the Cryosphere Today image.

So the question is…how much of this “marginal” ice is lost in Cryosphere Today compared to the real world?

Forget The Moon: Mostly Pointless Carbon Emission Satellite To Be Re-Flown Instead

From @NASA on Twitter

Good news for climate science in Obama’s NASA budget out yesterday: We plan to rebuild & refly the Orbiting Carbon Observatory.

Will that compensate for the indefinite postponement of any flight beyond Earth orbit? I guess not, especially after reading some wonderful details about the Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO) (the first attempt failed to reach orbit on Feb 24, 2009):

  • flown in a near polar orbit [observing] most of the Earth’s surface at least once every sixteen days
  • OCO measurements would record changes in CO2 abundance over annual seasonal cycles
  • fly in Sun synchronous orbit so that all observations took place at about 1:18 PM
  • planned operational life of 2 years

Let’s forget for a minute that 2 years are nothing at all in terms of climate (a problem affecting most Earth observation platforms dedicated to climate science, it seems)….still, a quick computation reveals the grand total amount of observations from OCO for any particular spot on the planet is expected to be 45. That is, around 11 per “seasonal cycle”. And all of them, at 1:18PM local time.

No further comment is necessary.

The Star That The Greenhouse Effect Forgot

And now for some relief from the “Gate du Jour” onslaught…

Obviously there will soon be a much better explanation, but isn’t it peculiar that regarding “what may be the coolest sub-stellar body ever found outside our own solar system” with “a temperature estimate of about 441° Fahrenheit (227° Celsius)“, the explanation for some strange “color” effect in different infrared pictures is that “the atmosphere is cool enough that methane and steam absorb the light coming from below“?

In my colossal ignorance, I had been led to believe that methane and water vapour were powerful greenhouse gases. And that they would make an atmosphere warmer than it would have been without.

Maybe only on Earth 😎

Preternatural Climate News And Other Tweets

(If Revkin can do it… 😎  – my Twitter account in English is ‘omnologos’)

1@bbcworld there is something preternatural in seeing every good climate news invariably more than compensated by some badclimate news refers to “Temperature and CO2 feedback loop ‘weaker than thought‘” by Roger Harrabin, which includes:

The authors warn, though, that their research will not reduce projections of future temperature rises.

2Total rout for AGW : UK Science chief John Beddington calls for honesty on climate change refers to “Science chief John Beddington calls for honesty on climate change

3another case of gross misrepresentation of the literature, thereafter conveniently disregarded? refers to my comment “Himalayagate 2

4Building a broad climate coalition of scientific/professional organizations reminds of “100 Scientists against Einstein” refers to “Climate change activists work to regain momentum” by Eric Berger, Houston Chronicle

5 Science : “Brown Clouds over South Asia: Biomass or Fossil Fuel Combustion? (answer: mostly biomass) refers to
Science 23 January 2009: Vol. 323. no. 5913, pp. 495 – 498 “Brown Clouds over South Asia: Biomass or Fossil Fuel Combustion?” by Örjan Gustafsson et al

6ClimateDepot “warmists” have been scoring own goals for quite some time – and still they do – refers to “The Disastrous Setback for Climate Advocacy of Late 2009” by Chris Mooney in “The Intersection” where I comment

I fully agree with redlink18…disparaging any comment that falls outside of the party line and concentrating on blaming a handful of well-paid individuals when there has been a clear and massive change in public opinion in the USA like in the UK, all of that will lead Mooney’s “camp” nowhere.

On the other hand, given that the “warmists” have been scoring spectacular own goals for quite some time now, no wonder they show no chance of getting anything right at the moment.

7“try and change the Received date! Don’t give those skeptics something to amuse themselves with” refers to “East Anglia Confirmed Emails from the Climate Research Unit – 1189722851.txt

8Using religious language to fight global warming refers to “Using religious language to fight global warming” by Helen Grady, Analysis, BBC Radio 4

9@Revkin: Watts is at third of Gandhi’s four stages: “First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win” refers to “Poorly sited U.S. temperature instruments not responsible for artificial warming” on Dr. Jeff Masters’ WunderBlog

IPCC Amazongate: "A Complete Load Of Porkies" Indeed

ADDENDUM JUL 13: Christopher Booker has managed to trace the 40% claim to a deleted web page. “Neither WWF nor Woods Hole come well out of this story“.  Definitely, they do not. See also EU Referendum.

ADDENDUM FEB 15: Daniel Nepstad has posted a statement endorsing “the correctness of the IPCC’s (AR4) statement on Amazon forest susceptibility to rainfall reduction” (link fixed on JUL 13). But Nepstad makes several references to 2004 and 2007 articles whose existence the IPCC authors were not obviously aware of. If the IPCC has been right for the wrong reasons, we can state it has been wrong: because it cannot simply be a matter of having it right by pure chance.

(I have posted a version of the below as a comment at WUWT, concerning James Delingpole’s “After Climategate, Pachaurigate and Glaciergate: Amazongate” and in the response to the following comment by an “Icarus” (Jan 25, 14:19:23):

It appears that the 40% figure references this passage in the WWF/IUCN report:

“Up to 40% of the Brazilian forest is extremely sensitive to small reductions in the amount of rainfall. In the 1998 dry season, some 270,000 sq. km of forest became vulnerable to fire, due to completely depleted plant-available water stored in the upper five metres of soil. A further 360,000 sq. km of forest had only 250 mm of plant-available soil water left.”

This passage references a peer-reviewed article in Nature:

46 D. C. Nepstad, A. Veríssimo, A. Alencar, C. Nobre, E. Lima, P. Lefebvre, P. Schlesinger, C. Potter, P. Mountinho, E. Mendoza, M. Cochrane, V. Brooks, Large-scale Impoverishment of Amazonian Forests by Logging and Fire, Nature, 1999, Vo l 398, 8 April, pp505

Unfortunately I don’t have access to the full article but to call this reference “a complete load of porkies” seems a bit unjustified, unless it can be shown that Rowell and Moore completely misrepresent the Nature article (which of course *is* written by Amazonian specialists).

)

The expression “a complete load of porkies” for what ended up in the IPCC AR4 WG-II Chapter 13, seems a bit justified indeed.

First of all it should not be up to the reader to dig down in the IPCC references until anything peer-reviewed is finally found. If Nepstad et al 1999 were the primary source for the “Up to 40%” claim, that article should have been used, stated and referenced as such, no matter what Rowell and Moore understood of it.

Secondly, the IPCC AR4 WG-II Chapter 13 makes no mention of Nepstad et al 1999. As far as I can see, the Nepstad et al 1999 article is only used in AR4 in the IPCC AR4 WG-II Chapter 4:

(1) p228

Recently observed moderate climatic changes have induced forest productivity gains globally (reviewed in Boisvenue and Running, 2006) and possibly enhanced carbon sequestration, especially in tropical forests (Baker et al., 2004; Lewis et al., 2004a, 2004b; Malhi and Phillips, 2004; Phillips et al., 2004), where these are not reduced by water limitations (e.g., Boisvenue and Running, 2006) or offset by deforestation or novel fire regimes (Nepstad et al., 1999, 2004; Alencar et al., 2006) or by hotter and drier summers at mid- and high latitudes (Angert et al., 2005)

(2) p229

in some tropical and sub-tropical regions, notably South-East Asia and similarly the Amazon (e.g., Nepstad et al., 1999), deforestation rates are still high

You may note that in both cases Nepstad et al 1999 is used to mention deforestation (something one might expect out of an article titled Large-scale Impoverishment of Amazonian Forests by Logging and Fire).

The abstract of that article is particularly terse on Nature.com:

Amazonian deforestation rates are used to determine human effects on the global carbon cycle and to measure Brazil’s progress in curbing forest impoverishment,,. But this widely used measure of tropical land use tells only part of the story..

For some reason, there is a longer version on Mendeley.com:

Amazonian deforestation rates are used to determine human effects on the global carbon cycle(1-3) and to measure Brazil’s progress in curbing forest impoverishment(1,4,5). But this widely used measure of tropical land use tells only part of the story. Here we present field surveys of wood mills and forest burning across Brazilian Amazonia which show that logging crews severely damage 10,000 to 15,000 km(2) yr(-1) of forest that are not included in deforestation mapping programmes. Moreover, we find that surface fires burn additional large areas of standing forest, the destruction of which is normally not documented. Forest impoverishment due to such fires may increase dramatically when severe droughts provoke forest leaf-shedding and greater flammability; our regional water-balance model indicates that an estimated 270,000 km(2) of forest became vulnerable to fire in the 1998 dry season. Overall, we find that present estimates of annual deforestation for Brazilian Amazonia capture less than half of the forest area that is impoverished each year, and even less during; years of severe drought. Both logging and fire increase forest vulnerability to future burning(6,7) and release forest carbon stocks to the atmosphere, potentially doubling net carbon emissions from regional land-use during severe El Nino episodes. If this forest impoverishment is to be controlled, then logging activities need to be restricted or replaced with low-impact timber harvest techniques, and more effective strategies to prevent accidental forest fires need to be implemented.

It is hard not to notice that Nepstad et al 1999 were concerned about deforestation and fires possibly exarcebated by severe droughts, whilst Rowell and Moore, and the IPCC authors and reviewers, completely turned the cards around, pushing hard on the climatic side first.

That is not the first time I have seen “Chinese whispers” at play in the IPCC AR4