A Quick Note About Corbyn's Solar Weather Technique Conference

Not many words out yet about WeatherAction’s “Climate Change, The Solar Weather Technique & The Future of Forecasting”, the conference organized by Piers Corbyn and hosted by the Imperial College in London on Oct 28. Amazingly, BBC’s Roger Harrabin just spoke about it during the midnight BBC Radio4 news, in rather neutral and very appropriate tones as far as I can remember (nothing has surfaced in the BBC News site as yet).

Myself, I have been able to get to the conference and back, just in time and only to hear Corbyn’s opening remarks, when he lamented the immorality of the mainstream obsession with CO2 and compared his work to longitude measurer Harrison, rejected by the scientific and political establishment for a long time despite being right and only winning acceptance by winning the acceptance and trust of users (the Royal Navy, according to Corbyn)

Has Nordhaus Demonstrated We Better Do Nothing About CO2 emissions?

Kudos to the climate-change-believers at the New York Review of Books for providing almost 3 full pages to climate-heretic Freeman Dyson’s review of William Nordhaus’ “A Question of Balance: Weighing the Options on Global Warming Policies” (Yale University Press) (and of Ernesto Zedillo (ed)’s “Global  Warming: Looking Beyond Kyoto”).

Well it does provide a welcome change from the usual doom-and-gloom of Hansen, Flannery and McKibben, doesn’t it

Dyson (whose article has been rebuked on RealClimate with way too quick a contempt) doesn’t actually deal with the reasons for his skepticism on the dangers of global warming. After a long preamble on how efficient vegetation is at capturing atmospheric carbon dioxide, the NYRB article deals (among other things) with Nordhaus’s conclusions about costs and benefits of various possible climate-related policies, in a 100- and 200-year timeframe.

First of all, Nordhaus is very convinced about the need to put a “price” to carbon, to avoid “economic inefficiencies”.

It doesn’t sound such a bad idea, if the majority of people are truly convinced CO2 is a harmful emission. My main concern is, how does anybody find out what that “carbon price” should be, if not an arbitrary value?

As Dyson reports, Nordhaus follows “the conventional wisdom of economists” and does all computations for a 4% discount rate.

For mysterious reasons, this has become a point of contention, with the Stern Report using a discount rate close to 0%, and the RealClimate guys rather naively trying to argue for an equivalence between people actually living today and people possibly living in the future. Luckily, an AGW-believer with a solid experience in economics has torn such equivalence to pieces. It simply makes no sense, morally-economically speaking.

What is the point of stealing from the people of the present thereby removing plenty of resources from the very people of the future one is trying to provide resources to?

And what is the moral case, outside of economics? Well, let’s say you have a sick child and a single dose of medicine…would you really withold it just in case you would have another child, five or ten years in the future?

My criticism of Nordhaus is different. I would have rather preferred computations based on a progressively fuzzier discount rate, since the future gets harder and harder to predict (obviously) the further we try to look into the…future!

Leaving the rate at 4%, Nordhaus’ 1-century results are the following, compared to a “do nothing/business-as-usual” (BAU) situation:

(a) with a continuously-adjusted carbon tax, a $3 trillion net gain
(b) with an updated Kyoto protocol, a $1 trillion net gain (with the US), and zero (without the US)
(c) with draconian, Stern-like limits on emissions, a $15 trillion net loss
(d) with drastic-but-gradual, Gore-like limits on emissions, a $21 trillion net loss
(e) if a cheap way to capture and store CO2 (“low-cost backstop”) is discovered, a $17 trillion net gain

Dyson reports the conclusions as:

(1) Avoid the ambitious proposals
(2) Develop the science and technology for a low-cost backstop
(3) Negotiate an international treaty coming as close as possible to the optimal policy, in case the low-cost backstop fails
(4) Avoid an international treaty making the Kyoto Protocol policy permanent.

These objectives, according to Dyson, are valid for economic reasons, independent of the scientific details of global warming.

I am not sure I can agree with the above.

What I see is a strong case for doing absolutely nothing.

In scenario (a), in fact, the total loss for BAU is about $15 billion per year. Not much to cry about, really. 

Just the complex mechanism that needs to be setup and run for a continuously-adjusted carbon tax, with its load of intrinsic inefficiencies, should be more than enough to bring such a loss to zero.

Kyoto-like interventions (scenario (b)) look absolutely irrelevant, and of course both Stern and Gore (scenarios (c) and (d)) have the single-minded goal to make us all miserable (starting with the Chinese).

The one “hope” is in carbon capture and storing, something presented by Dyson in his preferred terms of genetically-modified trees that could reduce the atmospheric CO2 content “by half in fifty years”.

But…if you believe in CO2 as a greenhouse gas, reducing its atmospheric concentration by half will surely sound like absolute madness…a one-way trip to a worldwide refrigerator?

=======

All in all, then, it looks like the work of a convinced AGWer such as William Nordhaus has been useful in identifying what to do regarding CO2 emissions: nothing, zero, zilch, nada.

Will that accelerate the end of the AGW madness? I don’t think so. Perhaps the above is why Lord Stern, well aware of the overall situation, went through all the pains of trying to argue for a quasi-zero discount rate.

If logical arguments show the best course of action is to do nothing, that concept by itself will simply convince AGWer to become gloomier prophets of doom than ever.

You see…there simply is no AGW worry without catastrophism.

Is It Ethical To Hold a Biased, Negative View on Climate Change?

There are at least two key omissions in John Broome’s “The Ethics of Climate Change” (Scientific American, June 2006). One is about the uncertainties of predicting the future. The other concerns the unethical stance of considering Climate Change as purely a collection of negatives.

(1) There are many things we do not know about future climate. The IPCC itself is not in the business of predicting anything, rather of working on projections of where the global climate may be heading to, for those variable that we can compute. There are other variables involved, that are not captured by climate models (for example, of course volcanoes cannot be foretold). In other words, there is no way to know what the climate of 2058 or 2108 will actually be.

There is no trace of such uncertainty in Broome’s discourse. I would go as far as to say, Prof. Broome completely disregards the concept of risk management.

And so we are told at some point that we should take a “temporally impartial” stance, that is the death of a child today is as important as the death of a child in 100 years’ time (Broome rather unethically recommends to read his books to find out why).

But a child dying today is a certainty, whilst little can be said about children decades in the future: their very lives, and their deaths are a matter of probabilities. And surely the longer we try to see in the future, the fewer the chances of getting those probabilities right.

A Victorian scientist would have had no idea of how many children would survive today into adulthood. To claim that we are better today at seeing the XXII century is truly preposterous.

(2) As many sad articles about Climate Change, Broome’s is a collection of negatives.

Now, does one have to be a philosopher to understand that, as in almost everything else, in climate matters too there are positives and negatives whatever happens? Because the alternative would be, to consider a cooling world as a collection of positives…

We are told for example of how many deaths and disasters will Climate Change bring. Is Prof Broome aware of the fact that heat waves kill the already-dying, whilst cold waves simply kill? Death rates get below average at the end of a heat wave: they only get back to normal at the end of a cold wave.

Where are the people whose lives will be saved by an increase in global temperature? Certainly nowhere to be seen or taken care of in Broome’s article. And why not? Are some deaths more equal than others?

WIll people matter if they die because of heat, and matter less or not at all if they die because of cold?

=========

Until such huge reasoning and moral gaps are not filled up properly, I will say thank you, but no thank you, I don’t need your ethical lessons, Prof. Broome.

Dealing with Climate Change…in Ancient Rome

(thanks to LM for pointing this out)

Lucius Iunius Moderatus Columella (AD 4-70) writes in De Re Rustica (“Agriculture”, or perhaps “Affairs of the Land”) (Book III, Chapter 20):

For there is never a year so mild and temperate as not to inflict some injury upon some variety of the vine: if it is dry, that kind which thrives on moisture is damaged; if rainy, that which delights in dry weather; if cold and frosty, that which cannot endure blighting cold; or if hot, that which cannot bear heat. 2 And, not to run through, at this time, a thousand rigours of the weather, there is always something to work harm to vineyards.

Webcast: "Consumer Perception of Climate Change", May 12, 2pm GMT

I received this among the Comments yesterday

Consumer perception of climate change and its potential impact on business

A global survey from Havas Media

Havas Media the umbrella group which draws together the full global media expertise of Havas invites you to the weblaunch of their global survey on consumer response to climate change.

Webcast Details

Date: Monday 12 May 2008

Time: 3.00pm British Summer Time

To register for the webcast go to http://events.ctn.co.uk/ec/havas/513/

The webcast will begin with an interview on the results and then be followed by a Q & A session.

Details of how to obtain an advance copy of the research findings will be sent to all who register.

Key Facts:

With more than 11,000 respondents, this is one of the largest pieces of research of its kind.

Qualitative and quantitative research across nine key markets – UK, US, Spain, France, Germany, Brazil, Mexico, India and China.

Vast majority of consumers highly engaged with the issue and keen to further demonstrate their green awareness in how they shop.

Considerable expectation from consumers that brands should lead the way in tackling climate change.

 

Last (Beer) Orders (Climate Change's Consequence #492)

Numberwatch looks like already updated today with the latest scare: beer shortages due to climate change. Notably (or maybe not) there has been a quick jump from the original observation of problems growing barley during a drought in Australia, to the “news” of beer going to disappear world-wide due to anthropogenic CO2 emissions (no, there is as yet no long-term climate model providing meaningful predictions at a regional level, Australia included).

Yawn. No more beer at the end of the century? Let’s drink to that!

Boris Winterhalter's Climate Blog (in Finnish)

Boris “Boba” Winterhalter, Retired Senior Research Scientist (marine geology) has just opened a new blog about climate: “Ilmastonmuutos -
Ilmastoskeptikon mielipiteitä
” that must mean something like “Climate Change – Skeptical Opinions on Climate“.

It’s in Finnish. I wish I could read it myself!!

Pseudoscientific Elements in Climate Change Research

Pseudoscientific elements in climate change research” by Arthur Rosch – published by the Science and Public Policy Institute, Feb 16, 2008

Abstract

Alarming statements from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concerning global warming are being challenged by a considerable number of scientists from different disciplines with a variety of arguments. The disputes comprise the collection and interpretation of data, the validation of hypotheses and climate models, the use of those models for scientific decision making, and the quality of the scientific discourse on these matters.

Many of the critical scientists are not directly involved in climate research. This brings into focus the weight to be given to views of experts relative to that of non-experts when the use of the scientific method is discussed in general, and a critique on the use of the peer review system in scientific journals that is supposed to safeguard the quality of science.

The concern of some climatologists and scientists from other disciplines is that the supposed dangerous warming seems to be exaggerated.

The possible causes of exaggerated conclusions are investigated. It is concluded that the general practice of parameterization of computer models in climate change research shows an element of pseudo science because it leads to self-confirmation of input hypotheses (dogmas) and insufficient challenge of theories.

The theory of the enhanced greenhouse effect of increasing CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere – the very basis for alarming messages concerning future climate change – is itself largely a modelling concept. It is suggested, that for the sake of the progress of science, this theory requires reinvestigation.

Alexander Cockburn on Climate Blasphemy

From Spiked-Online: “Intellectual blasphemy – Alexander Cockburn tells spiked that when he dared to question the climate change consensus he was met by a tsunami of self-righteous fury

[...] The left has bought into environmental catastrophism because it thinks that if it can persuade the world that there is indeed a catastrophe, then somehow the emergency response will lead to positive developments in terms of social and environmental justice. This is a fantasy. In truth, environmental catastrophism will, in fact it already has, play into the hands of sinister-as-always corporate interests. [...]

The marriage of environmental catastrophism and corporate interests is best captured in the figure of Al Gore. As a politician, he came to public light as a shill for two immense power schemes [...] His arguments, many of which are based on grotesque science and shrill predictions, seem to me to be part of a political and corporate outlook. [...]

Through the process of peer review, of certain papers being nodded through by experts and other papers being given a red cross, the controllers of the major scientific journals can include what they like and exclude what they don’t like. [...]

Since I started writing essays challenging the global warming consensus, and seeking to put forward critical alternative arguments, I have felt almost witch-hunted. There has been an hysterical reaction. One individual, who was once on the board of the Sierra Club, has suggested I should be criminally prosecuted [...]

This experience has given me an understanding of what it must have been like in darker periods to be accused of being a blasphemer; of the summary and unpleasant consequences that can bring. There is a witch-hunting element in climate catastrophism [...]

"Glacier Shrinkage" Data Reveal Extent of Measurement Bias

Glaciers suffer record shrinkage” say the BBC on its front page, International version tonight. Cue mentions of millions of people in danger of being left almost without water; talks about canaries and coal mines; and appeals for an immediate “green” change of people, economies and the whole society.

Google News report an alleged 122 news articles about the same story:

The rate at which some of the world’s glaciers are melting has more than doubled, data from the United Nations Environment Programme [UNEP] has shown

So much for the news though. Let’s investigate the original source. And lo and behold, things are quite different from what has been reported.

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

A quick search brings one to the website for the World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS), the Zurich-based group that is actually collecting the data for the UNEP. Top news on their home page, “The preliminary mass balance data for the year 2006 is now available!“.

Why it is out now, it’s explained in the other news: “Workshop on mass balance measurements and modelling (26-28 March 2008, Skeikampen, Norway)!

WGMS say more or less what the news is reporting:

Preliminary mass balance values for the year 2006 are now available from more than 80 glaciers worldwide. The continuous mass balance statistics below are calculated based on the 30 glaciers in 9 mountain ranges*** [...]

The average mass balance of the glaciers with available long-term mass balance series around the world continues to decrease, with tentative figures indicating a further thickness reduction of 1.4 m w.e. (*) during the hydrological year 2006. This continues the trend in accelerated ice loss during the past two and a half decades and brings the total loss since 1980 at more than 10.5 m w.e.

An analysis of the published data reveals something else.

First of all one minor error (positive balances occur in 5 glaciers, not 4). Then something a tad more significative: the actual reported mean thickness reduction is 1.301m, not 1.4m. The difference is around 10cm, that is 100 times the claimed resolution of 1mm.

But the biggest revelation is actually a confirmation: of the extraordinary extent of measurement bias in all things about so-called GLOBAL warming.

(1) What is the distribution for the “30 glaciers in 9 mountain ranges” included in the WGMS analysis? 20 in Europe; 4 in North America; 6 in the rest of the world. That is: 66.7% in Europe, 13.3% in North America, 20% in the rest of the world.

(2) How many glaciers are included in the full WGMS list? 111. Of those: 60.4% in Europe, 24.3% in North America, 15.3% in the rest of the world.

(3) For how many glaciers is there data for 2005/2006? 97. Of those: 66.0% in Europe, 22.7% in North America, 11.3% in the rest of the world.

(4) How are thickness reductions distributed? Of the largest 19, 18 relate to European glaciers, and only one to a North American glacier. The first glacier from the rest of the world ranks 35 out of 97.

(5) How many glaciers show a thickness reduction larger than 10cm? 88. Of those: 69.3% in Europe, 20.5% in North America, 10.2% in the rest of the world.

(6) What is the average thickness reduction in all the glaciers for which data is available? 1.142m. In particular: 1.337m for Europe, 0.865m for North America, 0.565m for the rest of the world. Surely it must be by pure chance that the official WGMS statistics use a particular set of glaciers whose average thickness reduction is larger than the whole dataset’s.

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

The pro-European (and pro-North American) bias is so blatant it doesn’t need any further qualification.

I have already shown how the IPCC itself may have unwittingly indicated that “Global Warming may be just European“. And now it may as well be the turn of the WGMS: for all we know, glaciers have been shrinking especially in the Northern Hemisphere temperate regions.

Is this sign of a “global” phenomenon? Who knows?

In truth, there is no meaning in speaking of “global warming” or of “global climate change” until the data are sufficiently “global“.

Let’s hope it will happen, one day…

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

(*) w.e.” means “water equivalent“.

Mass balance is reported in meters of water equivalent. This represents the average thickness gained (positive balance) or lost (negative balance) from the glacier during that particular year.”

Skeptics Society: How Broadcast Journalism Is Flawed

I have already exposed in the recent past the obvious bias in global warming reporting by publicly-funded BBC.

Around very similar notes, but with a much much wider outlook, the Skeptics Society has now published a very interesting essay by investigative and feature journalist Steve Salerno, titled

Journalist-Bites-Reality!
How broadcast journalism is flawed
in such a fundamental way that its utility as a tool for informing viewers is almost nil.
.

It exposes broadcast journalism as reporter-of-nothing, when not creating panic out of that same nothingness. And it is especially critical of “campaign journalism”.

A couple of quotes:

In truth, today’s system of news delivery is an enterprise whose procedures, protocols, and underlying assumptions all but guarantee that it cannot succeed at its self described mission. Broadcast journalism in particular is flawed in such a fundamental way that its utility as a tool for illuminating life, let alone interpreting it, is almost nil.

You’re in Pulitzer territory for writing about something that — essentially — never happens.

In upcoming blogs I will return to parts of this essay that may be used to explain pretty much all the Climate Change scares that have ever (not) happened.

For now I strongly recommend reading it in full.

China and the BBC Warming Bias

Shameless self-promotion of my “China and the BBC Warming Bias” blog over at the “Omniclimate – The Unbearable Nakedness of CLIMATE CHANGE” site, in which I compare the BBC attitude towards reporting heatwaves vs snowstorms.

Very shortly:

July 2002: Chinese heatwave is caused by “the increase in vehicles on the roads, which raise street temperatures

One year ago: Warm, dry weather in north China “linked to climate change“ (page is chock-full of climate change links)

Today: “China is struggling to cope with its worst snowfall in decades” (not one climate change link in sight)

They didn’t even care to mention that severe snowstorms have affected the very areas that were experiencing “climate-change-related” drought last year…

For more thoughts on the AGW bias at the BBC:

http://omnograms.wordpress.com/2007/09/07/bbc-the-editors-no-line/

http://omnologos.wordpress.com/2007/11/14/why-is-the-bbc-biased-against-climate-change-sceptics/

http://omnograms.wordpress.com/2008/01/31/letter-to-the-bbc-climate-news-bias-china-vs-argentina/

China and the BBC Warming Bias

(here and here and here some more thoughts on the all-too-apparent bias at the BBC towards global warming and doom-and-gloom news in general)

There is almost no need to comment the following at all…

(1) Almost six years ago
BBC News – Wednesday, 17 July, 2002, 07:53 GMT 08:53 UK
Seven die in Chinese heat wave

[...] The heat has intensified in recent years as a result of the increase in vehicles on the roads, which raise street temperatures.

(2) One year ago
BBC News – Tuesday, 6 February 2007, 12:34 GMT
Climate change ‘affecting’ China – Unseasonably warm weather in north China has been linked to climate change
(page is chock-full of climate change links)

At least 300,000 people in north-west China are short of drinking water because of unseasonably warm weather, which officials link to climate change. Parts of Shaanxi province face drought after January saw as little as 10% of average rainfall, state media say. Frozen lakes are melting and trees are blossoming in the capital Beijing as it experiences its warmest winter for 30 years, the China Daily reported.
[...] The country’s top meteorologist, Qin Dahe, said the recent dry and warm weather in northern China was related to global warming. [...]

(3) January 2008
BBC News – Thursday, 31 January 2008, 13:53 GMT
Food warnings amid China freeze – Millions of people have been affected by the severe snow
(not one climate change link in sight)

China is struggling to cope with its worst snowfall in decades, with officials warning of future food shortages as winter crops are wrecked.[...]
Dozens are thought to have died as much of the country endures one of its harshest winters for half a century.

How many people died in the 2007 heatwave? Perhaps…zero.

(4) How about Shaanxi? Sadly, no space for it this year on the BBC (at least, so far). Here’s what is happening though:
rediff – January 30, 2008
Snowstorms paralyse China

[...] In northwestern Shaanxi province alone, 1,200 people were reportedly ill or injured in snow-related incidents [...]

UPDATE: This particular post has become quite popular having been linked from “Biased BBC”

January Warmth Weakens BBC Meteorologist's Logical Skills

How many times have we been told that “weather” is not “climate”, that a heatwave or a cold front or heavy winds or hurricanes or the lack thereof, can say absolutely nothing about the state of the global climate?

Lo and behold, here comes the BBC’s John Hammond in the current “Monthly Outlook” for the UK:

The predominance of south or southwesterly winds kept temperatures at or above average in many parts in the early days of 2007. This theme looks set to continue for a greater part of the next month.
This comes on the back of recently released figures for 2007, which showed that on a global level 2007 was the seventh warmest on record since 1850.

Should it really be necessary to tell a meteorologist that if local above-average temperatures are due to “south/southwesterly winds” THEN the only way to connect the temperatures to global warming would be by demonstrating a link between those winds, and that warming?

Furthermore: the Hadley Centre has not published yet the final figures for 2007. Data so far show sea-surface temperatures for 2007 to be the 9th on record, globally (the southern oceans have actually recorded in December the coolest value in 13 years).

UPDATE JAN 26: HadCRUT data now available up to December 2007

Landscheidt, Astrology…and Totalitarianism

Theodore Landscheidt was a well-known, controversial figure in climatology circles (he died in 2004). The controversy arose from his conviction that the Earth’s climate is driven…by the Sun (the shock! the horror!): not much popularity there, among proponents of Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW).

One particularly nasty “accusation” has been that Landscheidt was an astrologer. He even published a book on planetary harmonies.

But is that sufficient to throw all his work to the dustbin of science? Of course not.

The fact that Landscheidt believed or didn’t in one type of astrology or another is in fact immaterial to his climate-related work, as long as that work is based on purely physical computations.

And he did!

Otherwise we should dismiss the notion that DNA is a double-helix only because James Watson has said something very silly. Not to mention throwing away electronics as we know it (radios, PCs and all) given the passion for eugenics by Nobel Physics Prize Laureate William Shockley.

The practice of poo-pooing somebody’s work based on one or the other traits of his personality is a sign of a losing argument, or of a totalitarian one.