Tag Archives: Culture

Beware The Planet Saviors!

Nobody’s killed as many Communists as Stalin. Nobody’s killed as many Muslims as Osama bin Laden. That’s why whenever somebody wants to save me, maybe I don’t reach for a gun, but I surely prepare for self-defense against the saviors. As I wrote some time ago in “History, a Murderous Farce“:

Napoleon, the Emperor of the French, destroyed the Holy Roman Empire in 1806, thereby establishing the basis for the ascent of the German Empire that was going to humiliate France in 1871.

Prussia and Austria fought hard to establish their leadership over Germany. The result was a militarized Prussian class that killed Germany once in the First World War, and then again with its support for Hitler.

“Of course” Adolf, from Austria of all places, dedicated his life to the nationalist cause, with the result that Germany was annihilate and Prussia airbrushed from history at the end of World War II.

Those are not the only ironies of history. The end result of the Christian Crusades was the undermining of the Byzantine Empire, and the opening up of Eastern Europe to the Ottoman Muslims. Nobody has killed as many Communists as Stalin, or as many Chinese as Chairman Mao, and since Tamerlane perhaps nobody has killed as many Muslims as Osama bin Laden and his loose “organization”.

I am sure there are many more examples of unbelievably unintended consequences. Hadn’t it been for the continuous slaughter, History would be a topic to laugh very hard about.

And it’s the history that could as well repeat with contemporary environmentalism and its “green zealots”. From the recent James Delingpole Daily Mail op-ed:

[…] If you read the private emails of the Climategate scientists, what you discover is that most of them genuinely believe in the climate change peril.

That’s why they lied about the evidence and why they tried to destroy the careers of those scientists who disagreed with them: because they wanted to scare politicians into action before time ran out. This was not science, in other words, but political activism.

A similar ‘end justifies the means’ mentality seems to prevail among all those environmental lobby groups. They don’t exaggerate or misrepresent because they’re bad people. They do it, as a former head of Greenpeace once charmingly put it when accused of having overstated the decline in Arctic sea ice, to ‘emotionalise the issue’; because they want to make the rest of the world care about these issues as much as they do. […]

One of the grimmest ironies of the modern environmental movement is just how much damage it has done to the planet in the name of ‘saving’ it. Green biofuels (crops such as palm oil grown for fuel) have not only led to the destruction of millions of acres of rainforest in Asia, Africa and South America, but are now known to produce four times more CO2 pollution than fossil fuels.

Wind farms, besides blighting views, destroying topsoil and causing massive noise pollution, kill around 400,000 birds a year in the U.S. alone. Environmentalists, in fact, have a disastrous track record when it comes to predictions and policy recommendations […]

Somebody ought to start an environmentalist group to save the environment from the environmentalists.

Lysenkoism And ‘Global Warming’ _by Professor Cliff Ollier

Infamous Soviet scientist Trofim Lysenko has become topical again after the recent WSJ “Don’t Panic (about global warming)” letter (read about it also here and here). In the interest of historical record, I am posting here the recovered text of “Lysenkoism And ‘Global Warming’” written some years ago by Professor Cliff Ollier and mentioned in this blog almost four years ago.

The original link does not work any longer (and the WaybackMachine hides the text for some reason). There is also a slightly different version in the Lavoisier Group website. (h/t Justin Ert)

Lysenkoism And ‘Global Warming’
by Professor Cliff Ollier

Trofim Denisovich Lysenko [Трофи́м Дени́сович Лысе́нко; pictured left] (1898 – 1976) was an insignificant agriculturalist who thought he had a new way of developing crops that would vastly increase food production in the starving Russia of Stalin. It was called ‘vernalisation’, and it included treating seeds before cultivation to affect their behaviour.

Significantly, Lysenko introduced his ideas first through politics, in which he benefited from weighty support. Some argue that his precepts had a Marxist flavour, because they asserted that biology could be modified in the way that communists wanted to control people’s behaviour. The government was anxious to increase food production and to quell disturbances among the growers, while Lysenko was an adept propagandist. He became a cult leader who impressed the peasants.

Lysenko was the head of the Soviet Lenin All Union Institute of Agricultural Sciences, and he ran the nation’s research in this field. He promised to triple or to quadruple crop yields.

He demonised conventional genetics, which again suited his masters, who believed this to be the basis behind fascist eugenics.

No Opposition Tolerated

Opposition to Lysenko was not tolerated, and was labeled ‘bourgeois’ or ‘fascist’. Lysenko used his position to denounce Mendelian geneticists as “fly-lovers and people haters”, which had serious consequences. From 1934 to 1940, with Stalin’s blessing, numerous geneticists were shot, and others exiled to Siberia. Nikolai Ivanovich Vavilov [Николай Иванович Вавилов; pictured left] (1887 – 1943), for example, a truly great geneticist and biogeographer, was sent to Siberia, where he died of starvation in 1943, while Lysenko, in person, took over his role as Director of the Lenin Academy of Agricultural Sciences. Any survivor of the purge had to keep quiet. In 1948, genetics was officially labeled a ‘bourgeois pseudoscience’, and genetic research came to a halt. Krushchev also supported Lysenko, but, after his departure in 1964, the Academy of Sciences investigated the records, and a devastating critique of Lysenko was made public. The ban on genetics was finally lifted in 1965.

When Lysenko denounced Mendelian thought as reactionary and decadent, he also announced that his speech had the approval of the Central Committee of the Communist Party. The parallel for the ‘Global Warming’ movement is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the IPCC, which works through national and international organisations. The IPCC claims its reports are written by 2500 scientists, but in reality they are drawn up by only about 35 people, and are effectively ‘controlled’ by an even smaller number.

Opposition to ‘Global Warming’ is often likened to ‘Holocaust Denial’. We are repeatedly told that there is no debate – hardly a scientific approach. The influence of the IPCC has spread, and it has become increasingly difficult to get research funding without being a ‘believer in Global Warming’.

A New Religion

Why would governments be persuaded to follow this idea before it was scientifically evaluated? One reason may be that there was a rising tide of what some have likened to a new religion – ‘Environmentalism’. Of course, no politician wants to be seen as ‘anti-environment’, or to lose the votes of the ‘Greens’. The ‘Greens’, for their part, are happy to follow the climate-change line because it gives them enormous political power. As a minor party or influence they hold the balance of power, and the major parties dare not offend them.

The propaganda machine of the IPCC is magnificent, with its greatest tool being the Al Gore film, An Inconvenient Truth. This still has enormous impact, although the High Court in Britain did decide it could not be shown in schools without comment because it contained major errors. I suspect that this film was the reason that the Nobel Peace Prize was given to Al Gore and to the IPCC.

Another propaganda hit was the infamous ‘Hockey Stick Graph’, purporting to show that temperature was rising at an ever-increasing rate. This has been totally discredited, but it still seems to be branded on the collective mind of politicians and the public. Much Government propaganda has been lent to support ‘Global Warming’, and major media outlets, such as the BBC in Britain, have chosen to join in on the ‘Global Warming’ side.

No Siberia

Climate change, like Lysenkoism, is much easier to understand than the complexities of real science. This appeals to the public, and also to politicians and other influential people, who can talk as if they understand it. If questioned about details, they simply refer back to the IPCC reports.

So-called ‘independent reports’ on climate change have been produced by Nicholas Stern in Britain and Ross Garnaut in Australia. Both Stern and Garnaut make it plain that they are not scientists and have based their conclusions on the IPCC reports. Yet, both continue to make public statements warning about the increasing dangers of climate change. This merely keeps their reports in the public eye, and echoes the flawed science of IPCC ‘Global Warming’.

At a lower level, without the need for evidence, everything can be blamed on ‘Global Warming’ – droughts, floods, malaria, hurricanes, and even global cooling! The IPCC rhetoric continues, although their predictions have failed to come true, just as Lysenkoism continued when the promised crop-yield increases never arrived. The IPCC forecast ever-increasing temperatures, but average global temperatures have become lower since 1998. They have now put off ‘Global Warming’ for 15 years because some other factors have intervened. The models did not predict this, but such details do not affect ‘the faithful’.

Some scientists sided with ‘Global Warming’ in the early days, and are so committed that they cannot now get off the bandwagon. Others worked for the IPCC, but resigned when they realised how their work was being used, or that real science did not support the claims that were being made. Luckily, we do not have the equivalent of Siberia to deal with these scientists.

‘The Global Warming Affair’ has already lasted over twenty years, and many administrative and scientific research centres have sprung up – most of the latter involving computer simulators. Computer simulation has a part to play in science, but it should not replace observation, hypothesis-testing, and falsification. There are now ‘Departments of Climate Change’, for which read ‘Departments of Global Warming Blamed on Anthropogenic Carbon Dioxide’.

A Lesson From History: Parallels With Lysenkoism

We should not forget a basic fact, namely that the one villain of the piece – and the one that is costing billions of dollars – is anthropogenic carbon dioxide. This is the equivalent of ‘vernalisation’ in the Lysenko era.

In summary, the comparisons between Lysenkoism and ‘Global Warming’ can be rehearsed as follows:

1. Work first through political organisations;

2. Claim that the science is settled. There is nothing to debate;

3. Disregard, or deny, all the accumulating evidence that the predictions might be wrong;

4. Demonise the opposition (Mendelian geneticists; ‘Global Warming’ Deniers);

5. Victimise the opposition (execution and exile; loss of jobs or research funds, public and media humiliation);

6. Relate to a current ideology (Stalinism; Environmentalism);

7. Support a vast propaganda machine; and,

8. Create a huge bureaucracy where many people have careers dependent upon ‘the ruling concept’.

The parallel can be seen perfectly in a work by Helena Sheehan(1), who wrote of Lysenkoism:

“What went wrong was that the proper procedures for coming to terms with such complex issues were short-circuited by grasping for easy slogans and simplistic solutions and imposing them by administrative fiat.”

Lysenkoism was eventually replaced by real science. The same will happen to ‘Global Warming’, because real science will not go away. _____________

(1) Helena Sheehan, 1993. Marxism and the Philosophy of Science: A Critical History. (Humanities Press International, Inc.).

Further Reading: Paul Reiter, 2004. ‘Passion and politics cloud the climate debate.’ (Nature 431, 739, October 14, 2004|doi:10.1038/431739c).

Killing FOI

(I have left this comment at Andy Revkin’s “A Legal Defense Fund for Climate Scientists”)

Andy – I’m very surprised by the phrasing of your FOI question. So what if there is “fishing” involved?

The important bit about FOI is that it applies no matter what the intentions of the requester are.

Otherwise every Government agency will always argue FOI exemption by claiming the requester is “fishing” for information. And especially so if the requester is a journalist (who is presumed to be looking for something to publish, therefore pretty much single-mindedly interested in “fishing”).

Intention-dependent FOI is not freedom, rather a gracious (and always temporary) concession on the part of the State. It’s like trying to define as democratic a Parliament you can vote for only if invited to the electoral polls.

Are you sure decades of struggle to get FOI in place should be considered as wasted just to defend publicly-funded scientists who can’t understand their rights and duties, and pretend FOI is a waste of time when in reality it’s a clerical activity?

ps I’ve been subject to FOI In the past and anything I write at work can potentially be used in a court of law

John Cook: Skeptical Science Is Unsuccessful and Counterproductive

You know things are going down the drain when an English Major interviews a Cartoonist to talk about psychology and the identification of scientific “myths”.

The level of absolute idiocy is reached of course when the owner of a website purportedly debunking 173 climate change “myths” and well-known for its unethical treatment of non-compliant commenters writes:

Debunks that offered three arguments, for example, are more successful in reducing the influence of misinformation, compared to debunks that offered twelve arguments which ended up reinforcing the myth.

and

Avoid dramatic language and derogatory comments that alienate people. Stick to the facts.

Who knows, John Cook might one day read his “Debunking Handbook” and ditch Skeptical Science completely.

NOTE TO ALL READERS: About Climate Or Anything Else, Don't Let Up On The Bully

NOTE TO ALL READERS

If you see strange trackbacks on websites from “Ocasapiens” in Italian after I post a comment, there is this feckless Italian journalist whose main activity appears to be following me on Google in order to post abysmal bullying attempts at her blog.

I would feel proud of being an inspiration of anything, however if a blog is measured by the quality of its content, a blog where I am the content can’t be that good.

On The Slow, Painful (and Deadly) Demise Of The IPCC

Climategate 2.0 is helping filling some knowledge gaps, for example in the way the IPCC has been slowing killing itself, and several thousands humans to. The following concerns Regional Projections, and it’s a tragedy of communication.

Willingly or not, the IPCC has become a source of deadly confusion exactly because it has provided the information its audience wanted, even if it was scientifically unprepared to prepare that information.

Continue reading On The Slow, Painful (and Deadly) Demise Of The IPCC

Live Microblogging Of Launch Event For “Poles Apart: the International Reporting of Climate Scepticism”

This is an ordered version of my live microblogging (Twitter – @mmorabito67) of the Launch Event of the RISJ publication “Poles Apart: the International Reporting of Climate Scepticism” (British Council, London, November 10, 2011):

  1. At The British Council for the launch of “Poles Apart:the International Reporting of Climate Scepticism” by J Painter
  2. Due to start at 6pm, slightly late. No @BBCRichardBlack
  3. Benny Peiser is here. I’ve said hello to chair John Lloyd, had met him years ago in Oxford
  4. Finally it starts. Delay was all the fault of video-linked @Revkin :)
  5. Lloyd : report is unique. Climate change important. IEA says today that door is closing
  6. Video link not perfect. Painter says he’ll be brief
  7. Painter : “summoned by science” published 1 yr ago. Found difference in skepticism.
  8. Painter: people confused about different types of skepticism.
  9. Painter keeps mentioning academic research they wanted to complement
  10. “Is climate skepticism an Anglo Saxon thing”?
  11. Two newspapers per country, left and right leaning but not in China
  12. Focus on 2007 wg1 and wg2 IPCC publication time and Copenhagen time
  13. Shows increase in skeptical voices in US and UK around Copenhagen
  14. “What explains country differences? ” interviews suggest factors
  15. Media and extramedia factors (listed in report)
  16. India – CC as a nationalistic point
  17. Brazil- very large coverage. Journalists said strong science.units in newspapers
  18. Lalaland time
  19. Climategate moved some.uk newspapers away from the others
  20. Lots more analysis for the UK – skeptical voices more in right leaning newspapers
  21. Explanatory factors -.in the report again
  22. . @Revkin frozen in time. Video still imperfect.
  23. Rebecca Nadin talks about China. She’s been there for years to work on climate change
  24. Complex diagram showing interactions in China.
  25. Says mostly discussion is not about AGW vs natural
  26. Chinese government has strong position about AGW. It’s not politically contentious
  27. Over 2200 newspapers and many social media networks
  28. Very limited debate about integrity of climate scientists and no much nimbyism
  29. Pollution concerns very high.
  30. Core group at Beijing uni and academy of sciences debating speed and severity
  31. Mentions agriculture body saying production in inner Mongolia will increase
  32. Immediately adds a however
  33. Some.skeptics depicted as nationalistic nutters
  34. Sciama; starts.with Allegre and another skeptif
  35. . @Revkin alive again
  36. They’re using Webex not Skype
  37. French revolution replacing aristocracy with meritocracy and support for science
  38. Laments lack of skepticism in France?
  39. No coal lobby in France
  40. France is very centralized so importance of State intervention high
  41. He’s explaining belief in AGW in France in purely non-scientific terms!!!
  42. Ends saying opposition to.State.may.make climate policies impossible in uk and USA
  43. Revkin : report.defines skepticism others didn’t
  44. Skepticism and support are variegated
  45. Mentions Inhofe giving floor speech saying hoax is about catastrophe of global warming
  46. USA exceptional for many reasons. More fuel consumption and many climates
  47. Public discourse always degenerates in.shouting matches
  48. Policy debates are legitimate @Revkin
  49. Bob Ward laments the GWPF – skeptic voices given opinion pieces
  50. Revkin mentions Delingpole as selective and duplicitous. Liberal opinion makers in USA stretching “but”.
  51. Lloyd : ft not into entertainment. Penchant for combat eg debating societies
  52. Tom of ecologist magazine asks about treatment of skeptics in TV media
  53. Revkin talks of study about fox news. Pretty clear which way they lean.
  54. Networks fairly “progressive” on climate change
  55. Benny Peiser : report is comprehensive and balanced. Definition of skepticism but gwpf skeptical of policy
  56. Thanks Bob ward for the hits
  57. Gwpf focus not on science rather government approach so more media coverage
  58. Revkin says Peiser is.right problem is policies leftists is USA did.disservice making AGW a single sentence
  59. World will end soon
  60. Blogger mentions criticism of NYT by Romm.
  61. Another q: science cannot settle debates
  62. Phone rings at the Revkins
  63. Part of the news.process means being wrong.some of the time Joe Romm is.never wrong – laughs
  64. Painter talks of think tanks bloggers tradition of questioning the.science
  65. Revkin : even without fuel lobby there’d be not much action
  66. Difficult to.change as.fossil fuels still.cheap -.forces of.stasis.have an easy task
  67. Left.journalism to work on fostering innovation
  68. Meeting now of climate scientists about ozone.treaty
  69. . @Revkin gone.
  70. Online media amplifying skeptical coverage?
  71. Empirical evidence of coverage online depending on generating traffic
  72. Blogospheric.pressure in France? New.phenomenon
  73. People outspoken to generate traffic? Not in France
  74. Chinese blogosphere? Environment not.global warming
  75. Water pollution more meaningful to people’s life
  76. Rapley – skeptics talk of uncertainties to prevent action. Risk assessment?
  77. Painter : haven’t looked at framing. Quantitative analysis
  78. Should understand what kind of skeptics “we’re talking about”
  79. Climategate emboldened the daily express in mentioning skeptical voices
  80. More.questions showing French reaction not as in uk
  81. Elite debate in France for.years.
  82. Steve.Jones of bbc report fame. Says typical reporting strives for balance
  83. Media.don’t understand debate in.science?
  84. Due impartialityis important according to Painter
  85. Lloyd bbc criticized for having expoused. Climate change not easy for the bbc
  86. I asked.about need for academic findings so.report isn’t much good.
  87. Another q: more people.haved moved away from extremes.
  88. Another q: media lacking about political economy of climate change
  89. Not many people talk of policy?
  90. Nadin: change in degree of skepticism yes in China. Debate on adaptation.
  91. Talks of “climate change” forcing people to.relocate
  92. Sciama: science journalist talking science. (Maybe that’s problem?)
  93. Shift in position towards warming but natural
  94. More worried about disappeared climate reporting than space given to skeptical voices
  95. Datasets are academic conclusions less so

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

Roger Pielke Jr laments the withering of climatology:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

=====

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

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

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

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

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

An unexamined climate is not worth studying…

If Freud Had Met Climate Catastrophists…

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

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

They're At War – 1 – The Belief Of The Unpleasant

WUWT wonders why warmists are almost invariably and incredibly rude, constantly choosing to appear as unpleasant as possible

But, hasn’t it always been that way since the very beginning of the issue? The combination of perceived moral high ground mixed with the educated liberal mindset, combined with a dash of anonymity, in my opinion, leads AGW proponents to revert to tribal mannerisms in dealing with others whom they perceive as inferior in intellect and creed.

On the plus side, this very behavior, which seems to be omnipresent in AGW proponent circles, (though skeptics have a few bad examples too) is part of the reason why skeptics are winning the war of public opinion.

There is one important bit missing in the above. It’s not just perceived moral high ground mixed with the educated liberal mindset, combined with a dash of anonymity: there is also a strong war-like mentality, since the Cooks and dana1981s and taminos of the world are literally (in their view) protecting the planet against us evil skeptics.

When one believes to be at war, a war for survival no less, then there is little time for niceties and considerations about the feelings of fellow human beings. And just as well, the first casualty of war is truth and that’s why there isn’t much of it alive at Skeptical Science, or RealClimate, or Tamino, etc etc.

The IPCC Is Dead

This is it, guys and gals. The IPCC is dead.

Either that, or following Piero Manzoni’s example the bowel movements of scientists should be labelled “scientific stool”. That’s the end result of going the authoritative way, believing anything coming out of a scientist is necessarily scientific.

Now, of course the death of the IPCC way means nothing regarding the reality of AGW, or of CAGW. We’ve wasted “only” 23 years, and countless more in the future whilst people keep trying to ride the dead IPCC horse.

Why AGW Is A Communication Issue

Shub Niggurath has just made the startling (?) discovery that PR people think the problem with AGW not having become a religion for the masses can be solved by…PR people.

Talk about a hammer convinced the whole world is a nail. Or turkeys consensually rejecting the notion of Christmas.

Sarcasm aside, there is a grain of truth even in the most mendacious Desmogblog statement, and so there is here. In fact, “communication” implies a source, a destination, a medium and a message. Failure of any of those components is a failure at communication.

The issue of course is that close-minded PR people will rationalize their problems as some issue related to the medium, and act accordingly, and quite wrongly (they remind me of Father Dougal panicking in “Speed 3” and so resorting to the one thing he knew how to do, celebrating Mass).

In the real world instead, the real communication failure has been at the level of the message. As I wrote in Nov 2008, AGWers have  nothing to show:

for all the huffing and all the puffing, there is very little that AGWers can show to support their claims

This doesn’t necessarily mean AGW is nothing and will have no consequences. What it means is that True Believers behave as if they have yet to understand what the issue is about, and keep reverting to type in the face of absolute cluelessness:

they use the tools learned to protect pandas or clean up the Hudson river. And for most intents and purposed, they fail: because, as Revkin has realized, Anthropogenic Global Warming, aka Climate Change, truly is a completely different beast

Expect plenty of claims for the foreseeable future then, about this or that phenomenon as evidence of global warming or climate change. Luckily though, due to the intrinsically inflationary nature of their approach, everything they say will quickly lose in importance.

Policy Lass (And The Climate Bullies) Didn't Get It

I knew I was asking for a miracle even bigger than catastrophic anthropogenic global warming, still for a few short hours my optimist side took over and kept waiting for any signal that Policy Lass would “get it”.

“It” being the rather obvious fact that by antagonizing anybody that doesn’t adhere to their particular aspect of climate faith, by focusing on exclusivity nobody will ever be able to see approved and then implemented any policy, climate or otherwise. That applies to democracy, but also to pretty much all dictatorships apart from Burma and North Korea perhaps.

Now, considering also the fact that 19 years of international climate efforts have been even less effective than 40 years of international illegal drugs efforts, one starts to wonder

does Susan/Policy Lass/Shewonk actually care about the environment, climate change and the planet, to the point of being willing to participate to the building of effective, practical, realistic, implementable environment and climate change policies…or is she just interested to participate to a good fight?

The end result of my probing? Susan “Shewonk” didn’t get it, actually launched into a tirade of extreme pessimism regarding policy of any kind. That still doesn’t explain what she would find worthwhile in berating people that don’t totally agree with her. Also somebody (Friedman?) said pessimists are right, but it’s the optimists that can change the world. So Susan can’t change the world, and doesn’t even want to.

Another commenter “sharper00″ went a step further, and appeared to justify the aforementioned berating by the desire to tell people when their attitudes and decisions are not based on science, where “science” is whatever “sharper00″ means it is. It’s the famous strip, why don’t you come to sleep, wait, somebody’s wrong on the internet. This doesn’t strike as a particularly effective way of saving the planet either.

In a few short hours things degenerated, as usual, with the all-too-predictable actions of a pair of bullies, the aforementioned sharper00 and the notorious Dhogaza, transformed in the Climate Torquemadas, spending their Saturday by reading my contributions to Steven Goddard’s blog in the insane attempt of finding a mistake for me to admit. I’m feeling honored already.

What they found, was instead a collection of sarcastic remarks. Alas, they didn’t get that either. How many people really equate sarcasm to “joke”, I wonder. Apart from climate believers that is.

Anyway…what I find ridiculous in the extreme, beyond sarcasm even, is that those that scour the web in search of a “denier” to bully, are the same people that claim the world is going to experience a series of disasters unless something’s done pretty quickly.

It makes absolutely no sense.

Reposting anyhere my complete blog presence since January 2003 will do nothing, nothing, nothing at all wrt preventing the AGW disasters they fill their mouths and keyboard with. So why would anybody do that?

Why do they do that?

There has to be somebody out there capable of explaining themselves.

Will CO2 Cause Bieber Fever In Fish Worldwide?

No, I am not talking about this Fish. Or that Phish. I am talking about fish of the swimming variety, recently in the news as under multiple lines of attack by (you guessed it right) increased CO2 in the atmosphere.

Poor little ocean inhabitants will run out of breath, or go deaf. Or maybe not, as both papers compensate with novelty what they lack in robustness.

In the meanwhile, though, there are some indications that, at least for now, great white sharks are into AC/DC. That could be useful news (if under threat of attack, just convince a fellow diver to burst into a watery version of “Back in Black” and you’ll be fine. You, that is, not the fellow diver).

Why stop there, though? We can combine all these pieces of evidence to come up with a realistic scenario (as realistic as anything ever written by the likes of David Suzuki or Paul R. Ehrlich, that is): with human-caused CO2 emissions apparently unstoppable, fish the world over will experience irregular heartbeats, and hearing difficulties causing a decline in musical taste.

That is, they will all suffer “Bieber Fever“.

Please help prevent such a tragedy, by reducing your CO2 emissions.

Live Blogging From RGS Geoengineering Debate In London

I am at the Royal Geographical Society debate on geoengineering, with Paul Johnston from Greenpeace and Prof. David Keith, one of the world’s authorities on geoengineering as a way to counteract climate change.

So far Johnston has expressed a heavy does of skepticism on any technology for intervening in the climate. Keith is not making a strong case against the list of issues working against geoengineering, such as the possibility that will be used independently or even as some sort of weapon.

Update: Keith is now moving towards asking to know even if nobody will do any intervention immediately. Johnston replies that money is limited and geoengineering may take it away from “real solutions”

Update 2: Tom Clarke, chair, comes to the rescue asking if there is any alternative given the lack of prospect for any emission reduction. Johnstone says that geoengineering may bring instability when things will be going very badly.

Update 3: Time for questions. First is about the problem of definition of geoengineering. Keith says there are two kinds, solar radiation management and CO2 removal, they are different things.

Update 4: Question on CO2 extraction. Keith is working about it. Scrubbing from the air or from the power plant? First option means you can build it where it is cheaper to build.

Update 5: What is the solution if Greenpeace is so against geoengineering? Johnston wants a much more thorough understanding of the way the atmosphere will react before going the geoengineering route.

Update 6: Keith says if we were really serious on cutting emissions we would be cutting it more aggressively. It is a moral choice, if we cannot cut geoengineering the way forward. Keith affirms he has big concerns too and talks about them,

Update 7: Scientists says he’s terrified about methane in the Arctic: is Greenpeace willing to live with that risk? Other question: geoengineering looks often like a local intervention like seeding clouds: we should expect to be struggling with the difficulty of understanding it all. Johnston talks about huge uncertainties, “at the moment is a gamble”. Keith on intractability: it’s a hard problem. Some of the schemes may be harder. Must start with little interventions and then proceed with the understanding.

Update 8: Keith mentions how after 9/11 we have learned about the effects of airplanes as we had them all grounded over the USA. Yes it is hard, but we cannot do much on the emissions side. We need to do some research on geoengineering.

Clarke asks Johnston if Greenpeace would agree on “free” and “cheap” experiments in geoengineering. Answer is that they need assurance that it will not prevent “the full deployment of an alternative energy [generation] system”

Update 9: Johnston doesn’t want to see commercial interests involved as in the ocean fertilization debacle. Keith agrees.

Final two questions: since we cannot predict what can happen, can we use the 200+ volcanic eruptions to understand better? Also large-scale or small-scale projects, such as improving cooking stoves at community level?

Keith talks about the possibility of biofuels (?) especially in the tropics. Johnston says they had been interested about it for years, and that they want to more about it before investing in large-scale interventions. Doesn’t want to see it as a way to deal with biological waste.

Update 9: Final final two questions. Won’t the politicians think short term and choose geoengineering to avoid having to deal with cutting emissions? Don’t we need research just to start an informed debate about geoengineering, instead of having to deal over and over with uncertainties that never go away? Isn’t much of the technology already available right now? Can we use geoengineering as the “nasty medicine” to scare the politicians into doing something about emissions?

Johnston doesn’t think it would work as a “stick”. He says we need a good reason and guidelines for carrying out geoengineering research and “throwing money” at it. Talks about avoiding unjustified optimism.

Update 10: Johnston suggests to go for research without immediate commercial exploitability. It’s now Keith’s turn: nobody is doing anything serious about emissions, even in high-rhetoric Europe. He says that not enough people have been convinced. He doesn’t “know why”, doesn’t “get it”. “We just haven’t made the sale” to the politicians so they are not serious about global warming.

Keith continues saying GM food are a not-so-serious problem for the experts but the public is very worried about it. For climate change, it’s the other way around.

Johnston thinks it’s difficult to people to conceive the scale of global warming, so they become despondent. Politicians have contributed to the perception that climate change is unavoidable, by doing nothing. People are already starting to adapt.

End of the debate – some more details and considerations will be posted later

Science Magazine: Evidence Of AGW Prejudice

Many thanks to the BBC for (unwittingly?) underlying a case of pro-AGW bias on the AAAS ‘ flagship magazine Science , "the world’s leading outlet for scientific news, commentary, and cutting-edge research ".

(Leading? Yes, but where, one should ask. Leading towards a pre-conceived, data-independent and therefore antiscientific understanding of the world. But here are the details…)

In a sentence, the Editors of Science appear fixated with AGW to the point of forgetting the non-AGW articles that somehow manage to surface in their magazine.

The case consists of 2 "reports " ("brief communications"?) and 1 "perspectives " ("invited commentary"?) from the 8 May 2009 issue ; a little-known climate-change BBC blog with a (positive, free-minded) approach; and a sheepish attitude by the BBC "Science & Environment" staff in reporting news with no trace of any critical approach to the subject.

This is the complete list with links (details at the bottom of the blog):

(a) REPORT #1: The Role of Aerosols in the Evolution of Tropical North Atlantic Ocean Temperature Anomalies (blaming desert dust and not global warming for most of the recent warming of the tropical North Atlantic)

(b) REPORT #2: Basin-Scale Coherence in Phenology of Shrimps and Phytoplankton in the North Atlantic Ocean (suggesting, in the BBC words, that a world without shrimp cocktails is in the making due to global warming, i.e. human-induced climate change)

(c) PERSPECTIVES: Ecology – Some Like It Cold

(d) BBC NEWS SCIENCE & ENVIRONMENT: Shrimp tuned to ocean temperature

(e) BBC CLIMATE CHANGE – THE BLOG OF BLOOM: Ashes to ashes, dust to dust: theory that Atlantic Ocean is warming due to climate change laid to rest

And here the most likely chronology:

  1. Science magazine publishes (a) and (b) in the same issue. Note that they are both "reports" and therefore have been given absolutely equal importance
  2. The Editors of Science overlook (a) (the report blaming desert dust and not global warming for most of the recent warming of the tropical North Atlantic)
  3. The same Editors invite and publish (c) therefore concentrating everybody’s attention on (b) (the report suggesting a world without shrimp cocktails is in the making due to global warming, i.e. human-induced climate change)
  4. Likely via an embargoed press release, word about (b) and (c) comes to the BBC, universally (in)famous because of the "importance the organisation places on climate change as part of the news agenda "
  5. Victoria Gill is tasked to write (d). It is not known if Ms. Gill has read any part of the related Science issue, as in her article there is no mention whatsoever of (a)
  6. Far away from the BBC News room, the BBC Climate Change – The Blog of Bloom is free of mind enough to notice the relevance of (a) in the climate discourse. Hence they publish a blog (e) about it

IMNSHO, the worst part of the above saga is when the authors of the invited commentary (c) do not mention the non-AGW report (a) at all.

Now, we can of course pretend that it all happened by chance. Or we can choose the simplest explanation, using Ockham’s razor: the bias towards propping up the AGW theory is just very, very strong at Science magazine. There is simply too much very good evidence in that direction.

Time will tell how much such a bias will literally poison all attempts at a scientific approach to climate change/global warming…unless of course the AAAS has intended all along to change their magazine’s title to Anti Science

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

DETAILS

(a) REPORT #1
The Role of Aerosols in the Evolution of Tropical North Atlantic Ocean Temperature Anomalies

Amato T. Evan, Daniel J. Vimont, Andrew K. Heidinger, James P. Kossin, and Ralf Bennartz
Science 8 May 2009: 778-781.
Published online 26 March 2009 [DOI: 10.1126/science.1167404] (in Science Express Reports)

[…] Our results suggest that the mixed layer’s response to regional variability in aerosols accounts for 69% of the recent upward trend, and 67% of the detrended and 5-year low pass–filtered variance, in northern tropical Atlantic Ocean temperatures.

(b) REPORT #2
Basin-Scale Coherence in Phenology of Shrimps and Phytoplankton in the North Atlantic Ocean

P. Koeller, C. Fuentes-Yaco, T. Platt, S. Sathyendranath, A. Richards, P. Ouellet, D. Orr, U. Skúladóttir, K. Wieland, L. Savard, and M. Aschan
Science 8 May 2009: 791-793.

[…] We conclude that different populations of P. borealis [shrimp] have adapted to local temperatures and bloom timing, matching egg hatching to food availability under average conditions. This strategy is vulnerable to interannual oceanographic variability and long-term climatic changes.

(c) PERSPECTIVES
Ecology – Some Like It Cold

Charles H. Greene, Bruce C. Monger, and Louise P. McGarry (8 May 2009)
Science 324 (5928), 733. [DOI: 10.1126/science.1173951]

The northern shrimp, Pandalus borealis, makes up 70% of the 500,000 tons of cold-water shrimp harvested annually from the world’s oceans. Commonly captured in shelf waters deeper than 100 meters, it supports major fisheries throughout the North Atlantic. On page 791 of this issue, Koeller et al. (1) report that the reproductive cycles of most northern shrimp stocks are finely tuned to match the timing of egg hatching with that of the local spring phytoplankton bloom (see the figure). This remarkable degree of local adaptation on a basin scale is achieved by females regulating the initiation date of their temperature-dependent egg incubation period so that eggs hatch on average within a week of the expected spring bloom. Thus, in typical years, eggs hatch at the time of maximum food availability. The potential downside of this reproductive strategy is its sensitivity to climate-associated changes in the ocean environment.

(d) BBC NEWS SCIENCE & ENVIRONMENT
Shrimp tuned to ocean temperature

By Victoria Gill – Science reporter, BBC News

Stocks of northern shrimp, the essential ingredient in the ubiquitous prawn cocktail, could be badly affected if ocean temperatures rise. Researchers report, in the journal Science, that shrimp eggs hatch within days of each spring phytoplankton bloom – the main food source for the larvae.

(e) BBC CLIMATE CHANGE – THE BLOG OF BLOOM
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust: theory that Atlantic Ocean is warming due to climate change laid to rest

The North Atlantic is hotting up fast but it’s not because of climate change, say scientists in the most recent edition of the journal Science. No, it’s because there’s less dust around to keep the water cool. […]

Peer Review (And Fraud) Ain't The Only Things To Fix In Modern Science

Worried about Editors of scientific publications overeager to publish only what confirms and conforms to their prejudices? Of peer reviewers too friendly to their omerta-based ilk and too ideological to accept what may contradict their work?

And now there is something else to worry about, in the realm of scientific publishing: foul play in citation (aka “bibliographic negligence” and “citation amnesia“).  That is, the malpractice to “forget” the citation of a rival’s article, or of previous research that would detract from the allegedly unprecedented, ground-breaking nature (and therefore, importance) of one’s article.

As suggested by Richard Gallagher in the same article, the solution may be straightforward:

We need a code of practice for citation, which journals should adopt explicitly. Gene Garfield called for this many years ago, suggesting that authors sign a pledge or oath that they have done a minimal search of the literature and that to the best of their knowledge there is no other relevant work. This is, in fact, the oath one signs when filing for a US patent.

But can the above be used to poo-poo modern science? Au contraire. Listen to Gallagher again:

Judging by the amount of publicity for fraud and greed in science, standards appear to be in freefall. I am not sure that I buy it. I think that the openness gifted us by the Internet is revealing the lax standards that have been in place all the time. The purifying glare of publicity may actually help us [the scientists] get our house in order—I wish that the editors of research journals would get this.

AGWers At A Loss With The British Public

That’s the impression after reading the reactions to Martin Livermore’s “Cold reality of global warming efforts” opinion piece in the BBC’s “Green Room“. Most of the comments are definitely not on the AGW side, and the few that are, are mostly about ad-hominems against Mr. Livermore.

Al Gore vs. The Aristotelian Method – or The Moral Irrationality Of Climate Scaremongering

The following is my translation of a talk given by Prof Luigi Mariani of the Agrometeorological Research Group, Dept. of Crop Science, University of Milan after a public screening of Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth”, on 23 January in Comano, Italy.

The original text in Italian is available at this link: “Verità, mezze verità e menzogne – Un commento al documentario ‘Una verità scomoda’

Al Gore vs. The Aristotelian Method – or The Moral Irrationality Of Climate Scaremongering
by Luigi Mariani

Overall remarks
As a complete non-expert in the field of documentary movies, my opinion is that Gore is a natural born actor and “An Inconvenient Truth” (AIT, directed by David Guggenheim) such a well-paced work, that it is hard not to feel the involvement.

It places itself half-way between American Graffiti and the classical tale of the romantic hero, seasoned with a moral vision calling at times for a collective sense of responsibility for humankind. It is also full of slogans that sound great. All in all, AIT is a veritable testimony of faith in the theory of Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW).

AGW is based on the theory that greenhouse gases are the key factor for climatic variability. In particular, according the AGW the rise in temperatures recorded in the past 150 years (after the end of the Little Ice Age) is caused by human emissions into the atmosphere, especially of carbon dioxide. One of the best known champions for AGW is the United Nations’ International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Composed of scientists and government representatives, the IPCC supports a human cause for increased temperatures on the basis both of past climates’ reconstructions and of “forecasts” for up to 100 years in the future, made with mathematical models (Global Circulation Models – GCM). What is less widely known is that the IPCC’s is not the only way to take a look at climate (Mariani, 2008). With those premises, let’s analyze Gore’s documentary according to the three Aristotelian techniques (Wollf, 1995), ie logic, dialectic and rhetoric.

Logic (one may say, science) is the rational process reaching “true” conclusions starting from “true” statements and using demonstrations. Dialectic seeks the “truth” starting from conflicting ideas. Rhetoric is the art of persuading an audience of the “truth” an idea. My personal assessment for AIT is as follows: 10% science, 0% dialectic and 90% rhetoric. In other words, it is a well-polished work of propagandistic fiction.

Of science there is not a lot, because Gore is not a scientist and knows simply too little about Atmospheric Physics (even with Keeling in the background, the absence of any experience in actual scientific research is apparent). The sheer number of contradictions in Gore’s charts vs. words makes that all too evident. The graph showing CO2 concentrations over the last 650,000 years (in red) alongside temperatures (in blue) clearly indicates increased CO2 is an effect of warming and not a cause. Temperatures in Switzerland definitely increase but only from 1989: why would the greenhouse effect of CO2 show up only from that date, one wonders? Is there something else, perhaps, underneath Gore’s neat explanations?

I am really impressed by Gore’s light-mindedness in navigating among contradictory data. If he delivered the same ideas around the world in hundreds of speeches, how on Earth can it be possible that not even one person in the attendance has ever made Gore confront his own contradictions? Had he spent at least part of his precious time reading scientific literature or at least opening himself to a frank and open discussion with anybody aware of the complexities of climate science, I am sure he would have presented things in a different way.

Also note how many times Gore pushes on the ethics button, whilst anybody with a different mind on these topic is basically a person of lowly morals (a “skeptic”, a well-paid mouthpiece for Big Oil, etc). That’s why there is no dialectic at all.

What openness to dialogue could be expected from someone convinced of being the depository of an absolute truth? And what science can be done if there is no space for dialectic, and rhetorics is instead sprinkled away freely throughout AIT, even with the empathetic use of a series of private events (such as the emotional life stories of the son and the sister of Gore, and a retelling of his misadventures during the 2000 election?).

Scientific remarks
With not even an inch of dialectic lightening up AIT’s heavy chains of rhetoric, focusing on the scientific elements of the Gore-Guggenheim documentary becomes more important than ever. In this regard please note that all my comments below are based on data and bibliographical references from the scientific literature to date (January 2009). You may notice how this constrasts with Gore’s assertion that an analysis of over 928 scientific papers in international journals showed exactly 0% of them in disagreement with AGW. It should go without saying that most scientific work concerns limited areas of research. This is the way of science as there has to be a suspension of disbelief in respect of matters that are not covered by the available data. That alone explains why many scientists in their peer-reviewed articles express no actual opinion regarding the whole-planet interdisciplinary topic of research called climate science. And yet their silence is taken as consent.

Still, it is not really that difficult to find peer-reviewed scientific articles critical of AGW, focusing instead on the importance of solar activity (Shaviv, 2005), the role of land use (Pielke et al., 2007) and even the sensitivity of climate to changes in the underlying forcings (Lindzen and Giannitsis, 2002), to mention a few.

Point-by-point rebuttal
Let’s check Gore’s statements against current scientific understanding.

1. The ice cream shown in the cartoon melts not due to global but of urban warming effect (Mariani, 2008). If global temperatures have risen by 0.5C in a century, in a city like Milan they have increased by 2.5C, especially in the minima (at night, during the summer heatwaves, our cities are definitely less comfortable than in the past). So what’d be wrong in fighting urban warming? Is anybody afraid of interfering with “bricks”, since those make up the foundations of our economy?

2. In another animation, greenhouse gases trap the rays of the sun. Now, even if one should not be too picky in adapting science knowledge to the masses, still one should steer clear of anything capable mostly of entrenching further ignorance. The so-called “greenhouse effect” is due to components of atmosphere intercepting longwave radiation emitted from the planetary surface, and partly irradiating it back towards the ground. This is a phenomenon essential for life, contributions to which come from water vapor (55%), clouds (24%) and CO2 (14%) (Mariani, 2008). Considering CO2 alone (Mihre, 1998) and translating its increase in concentration into a rise in temperatures using the Stefan Boltzmann equation, the expected “global warming” will be less than 0.5C between today and the time when CO2 concentration will be double the pre-industrial levels. AGW mathematical models estimate a larger increase on the (unproven) assumption that CO2 increases correspond to great increases in water vapor and decreases in low clouds (and/or increases in high clouds).

3. Gore at one point says that we must get rid of “evil” greenhouse gases. Everybody must be made aware of the fact that CO2 is not a poison, rather it is a major foundation for life itself. Without CO2, there would be no photosynthesis and we would not have much if anything to eat. Vascular plants appeared during the Devonian era, with CO2 levels 20 to 30 times higher than current ones, and yet temperatures were not much different than today’s (Hetherington et al. 2005). And if there was no man at the time to call CO2 as a “cancer on the planet”, could anybody please explain on what grounds Devonian air was the way it was?

4. Gore indicates the melting of the Kilimanjaro glaciers as an unequivocal sign of AGW. However, according to Kaser et al. (2004) ice started declining on the tallest African mountain around 1880, probably because of land use changes (the destruction of forested areas) and a consequent change in available humidity and rainfall patterns.

5. Gore speaks of unprecedented melting of Arctic and Alpine glaciers as a symptom of Global Warming. What should be noted though is that an even more massive melting of Alpine glaciers took place between 7500 and 5500 years ago, during the so-called “postglacial optimum”, and then 1000 years ago, coinciding with the “medieval optimum” (Mariani, 2006). Many current glaciers originated during the “little ice age” period between 1500 and 1850 (Giraudi, 2005).

6. Gore argues that to allow CO2 to increase is deeply immoral. It would be interesting to ask for an opinion on such a claim by a plant of wheat, or a vine.

7. Gore argues that the European heatwave of 2003 is a perfidious effect of AGW and that it is the alarm bell for phenomena increasingly more common in the future. Chase et al (2006) have analyzed the frequency and persistence of major subtropical anticyclonic fronts of the kind that lingered on for much of the the summer in 2003. Their analysis covered 1979-2006 and a latitudinal band between 22° and 80° North. According to their findings similar or greater anomalies than 2003’s happen regularly and there is no significant trend in the annually affected area. What was different in 2003 was the structure of European urban areas, with high-rise buildings of stone and mortar, and very little, often not even properly irrigated green areas (Leroy Ladurie, 2004).

8. Gore mentions Hurricane Katrina as evidence that we are facing an increase in the destructiveness of hurricanes. However, U.S. statistics for 1900-2005 indicate a substantial lack of any trend (Pielke et al., 2008).

9. Gore says that AGW leads to an increase in rainfall and cites as unprecedented example the 930mm that fell upon Mumbai in just 24 hours. This assertion is false as a number of precedents have been recorded for decades (Cati, 1981). Among the highest global pluviometric records during the space of 24 hours: 1168mm in Beguio (Philippines, 14-15 July 1911); 1036mm in Cherrapungi (India, 14 June 1876); 1034mm in Funkiko (Taiwan, 31 August 1911); 975 mm in Thrall (Texas, 9 September 1921); 940 mm in Suva (Fiji, 9 August 1906). In Italy alone: 948 mm in Bolzaneto (Genoa, 7-8 October 1970); 750mm at the Reschenpass (9 October 1936) and 702 mm in Lentini (17 October 1952).

10. Gore talks of unprecedented cases of drowned polar bears. It is just very inconvenient for him to mention that Arctic temperatures reached similar values to present ones in the 1930s, and were higher in at least four occasions since the end of last ice age (Figure 1). If Polar bears survived then, perhaps they are capable of adapting themselves to periods of mild climate

11. Gore fears the spread of tropical diseases like malaria. Would anybody please remind him that in the middle of the “little ice age”, Oliver Cromwell died of malaria in London in 1658, killed by a disease that was endemic in the Thames region (Lamb, 1966). What is keeping Londoners healthy today, temperatures notwithstanding, are health policy measures (Reiter, 2008).

12. Gore talks of an increase in the level of the oceans. In truth, oceans have gone up by 1mm/year between 1900-1951, then decreased by approximately the same yearly amount up to 1980, and are now rising again, still by about 1mm per year (Mornera et al., 2004; Mornera, 2007). That translates in 10 cm in a century, far less than needed for submerging entire regions (such as the Netherlands or Florida, shown in what is a veritable moment of fiction during AIT). Note that even with CO2 levels significantly lower than current ones, abnormally high sea levels happened 125,000 years ago, with up to +6 meters compared to today (IPCC, 2007); 7000 years ago, up to +2 meters (Törnqvist et al., 2004) and 1000 years ago, up to +0.5 meters (Froede, 2002).

13. Gore raises concerns about floods, droughts and storms: computerized GCMs present those scenarios, something in my opinion still all to be proven. However, even taking them as true, don’t they also show temperatures rising more at the Poles than in the tropical regions? And doesn’t that translate into a contraction of the pole-equator thermal gradient, the main trigger of general circulation and energy source for the smaller circulatory structures that make up the weather? One would then expect a reduction in extremes, not an increase.

14. Just to be clear, the father of the theory of continental drift was Alfred Wegener (1880-1930), a meteorologist and a disciple of Koeppen, a great climatologist), not any one of Gore’s classmates. Wegener’s own story (expelled from his University post in Germany as an advocate of a theory considered heresy by most of the “scientific community” in his days) is a clear example of the importance of a free, unimpeded scientific debate for the advancement of knowledge, rather than ever more clumsy attempts at silencing whoever does not follow “scientific consensus”

15. Gore cites Mark Twain “Danger comes not from what we know not, but from what we believe to be true but it is not”. A formidably true sentence if there’s ever been one, and even more so concerning AGW, a field about which there still is so much room for uncertainty, in my opinion. Having read Mark Twain (see for example his story “How the Animals of the Wood Sent Out a Scientific Expedition“) I can imagine how little trust would he put into a “dominant scientific theory” such as AGW.

Last but not least, global warming as such has stopped in 1998 (warmest year ever, with a very strong El Nino phenomenon). Global temperature data similar to 2008’s happened in 1996 (see the satellite MSU data in Figure 2).

Discussion and conclusions
Regarding such a complex system as climate, no serious scientist can claim absolute certainty. Doubt is inevitable, actually functional for the growth of knowledge. Perhaps that is why Guggenheim’s documentary is led by Al Gore, a politician mandated to hide all doubts and trained from an early age into rhetoric as a tool to convince the masses. That is the exact opposite of scientists, trained instead to be wary of any truth and to criticize and verify existing “dominant” theories. Modern science sprung also from the ideas and experiences of Copernicus and Galileo, as recently reiterated by Claude Allègre in a beautiful article published by Le Monde in October 2006 (C. Allègre, 2006). The history of science is like a graveyard of once-popular theories, now outdated, and that more often than not have allowed an increase in the understanding of the world exactly by being proven erroneous.

Let me finish then with the following question: is there an ethical aspect in all of the above? Yes, there is, but not in the sense claimed by Gore and repeatedly reaffirmed by his followers.

When all efforts are concentrated into a single all-pervasive issue, attention is distracted from the real problems, and solution to any of those prevented. Mental energy dissipated in analyzing false concerns is simply not there to confront real ones. As clear an example as any, the attitude after the 2003 European heatwave: having failed to recognize the importance of urban rather than global warming, no measures will be taken to counteract the real cause. For example in Milan (of which Gore is now honorary citizen, by no coincidence (Tiezzi, 2008)), houses are being allowed to rise up by an additional floor, further preventing cooling at night, which means of course that the city will be even more hot in future heatwaves.

AIT offers no science-based evaluation of what issues are really at stake: it is in fact its exact opposite, more likely part of a neo-Apocalyptic mindset that distorts the scale of importance of our issues and is capable of contributing little or nothing to the solution of actual problems currently facing humanity. And it will open up the field to speculators, including (not by chance) the same Big Oil denounced by Gore as guilty of financing the “non-scientists”’ efforts to deny the “Inconvenient Truth”.

Granting the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize together to a politician (Al Gore) and a supposedly scientific organization (the IPCC) has simply reinforced the idea that the IPCC itself and AGW in general are heavily constrained by politics. And for this topic, I refer you to Professor John Christy’s “My Nobel Moment” (2007) article on The Wall Street Journal.

Christy has long worked within the IPCC and his insider’s view is definitely useful to enlighten the issue of AGW.

“…I’m sure the majority (but not all) of my IPCC colleagues cringe when I say this, but I see neither the developing catastrophe nor the smoking gun proving that human activity is to blame for most of the warming we see. Rather, I see a reliance on climate models (useful but never “proof”) and the coincidence that changes in carbon dioxide and global temperatures have loose similarity over time.

There are some of us who remain so humbled by the task of measuring and understanding the extraordinarily complex climate system that we are skeptical of our ability to know what it is doing and why. As we build climate data sets from scratch and look into the guts of the climate system, however, we don’t find the alarmist theory matching observations….

…Mother Nature simply operates at a level of complexity that is, at this point, beyond the mastery of mere mortals (such as scientists) and the tools available to us. As my high-school physics teacher admonished us in those we-shall-conquer-the-world-with-a-slide-rule days, “Begin all of your scientific pronouncements with ‘At our present level of ignorance, we think we know . . .’”
I haven’t seen that type of climate humility lately. Rather I see jump-to-conclusions advocates and, unfortunately, some scientists who see in every weather anomaly the specter of a global-warming apocalypse. Explaining each successive phenomenon as a result of human action gives them comfort and an easy answer…

… California and some Northeastern states have decided to force their residents to buy cars that average 43 miles-per-gallon within the next decade. Even if you applied this law to the entire world, the net effect would reduce projected warming by about 0.05 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100, an amount so minuscule as to be undetectable. Global temperatures vary more than that from day to day.

Suppose you are very serious about making a dent in carbon emissions and could replace about 10% of the world’s energy sources with non-CO2-emitting nuclear power by 2020 — roughly equivalent to halving U.S. emissions. Based on IPCC-like projections, the required 1,000 new nuclear power plants would slow the warming by about 0.2176 degrees Fahrenheit per century. It’s a dent.
But what is the economic and human price, and what is it worth given the scientific uncertainty?

My experience as a missionary teacher in Africa opened my eyes to this simple fact: Without access to energy, life is brutal and short. The uncertain impacts of global warming far in the future must be weighed against disasters at our doorsteps today. Bjorn Lomborg’s Copenhagen Consensus 2004, a cost-benefit analysis of health issues by leading economists (including three Nobelists), calculated that spending on health issues such as micronutrients for children, HIV/AIDS and water purification has benefits 50 to 200 times those of attempting to marginally limit “global warming.”

Given the scientific uncertainty and our relative impotence regarding climate change, the moral imperative here seems clear to me.

Christy’s article’s moral stance is incomparably superior to Gore’s rhetoric-filled documentary. Who in their right mind would ever argue against the necessity of consistently pursuing health policies, water resource management, energy sources’ differentiation, and food security starting from a rational assessment based on available data, instead of Gore’s neo-Apocalyptic grandstanding?

BIBLIOGRAPHY (partly not in English)
Allegre Claude, 2006. Le droit au doute scientifique. L’unanimité actuelle sur la responsabilité de l’effet de serre dans
le rechauffement de la terre est suspécte. On ne peut accepter l’idée d’une verité incontestable et officielle. Le Monde,
venerdì 27 ottobre 2006
Alley, R.B. 2000. The Younger Dryas cold interval as viewed from central Greenland, Quaternary Science Reviews
19:213-226
Cati L., 1981. Idrografia e idrologia del Po, Poligrafico dello Stato, Roma, 310 pagine.
Christy J.R., 2007. My Nobel moment, the Wall Street Journal, November 1, 2007.
Cuffey, K.M., and G.D. Clow. 1997. Temperature, accumulation and ice sheet elevation in central Greenland through
the last deglacial transition. Journal of Geophysical Research 102(C12):26383-26396.
Hetherington A.M., Raven J.A., 2005. The biology of carbon dioxide, Current Biology Vol 15 n. 11, 406-410.
Froede, C.R., Jr., 2002, Rhizolith evidence in support of a late Holocene sea-level highstand at least 0.5 m higher than
present at Key Biscayne, Florida: Geology, v. 30, p. 203–206.
Giraudi, C. 2005. Middle to Late Holocene glacial variations, periglacial processes and alluvial sedimentation on the
higher Apennine massifs (Italy). Quaternary Research 64: 176-184.
IPCC, 2007. Fourth Assessment Report (AR4). Climate Change 2007 [disponibile in rete al sito www.ipcc.ch]
Kaser G., Hardy D.R., Olg T., Bradley R. S., Hyera T.M. , 2004. Modern glacier retreat on Kilimanjaro as evidence of
climate change: observations and facts, International Journal of Climatology.
Le Roy Ladurie E., 2004. Histoire humaine et comparée du climat. I. Canicules et glaciers (XIIIe-XVIIIe siècles),
Fayard.
Lamb H.H., 1966. The changing climate, Methuen, London, 236 pp.
Lindzen R.S., Giannitsis C., 2002. Reconciling observations of global temperature change Geophysical Research
Letters, vol. 29, NO. 0, 10.1029/2001GL014074, 2002.
Mariani L., 2006. Clima ed agricoltura in Europa e nel bacino del Mediterraneo dalla fine dell’ultima glaciazione,
Rivista di storia dell’agricoltura, anno XLVI, n.2, 3-42.
Mariani L., 2008. Note scientifiche per un discorso sul clima, Edizioni IF – Ateneo Regina Apostolurum, Roma, 126
pagine.
Morner N., Tooley M., Possnert G., 2004. New perspectives for the future of the Maldives, Global and Planetary
Change 40 (2004) 177–182.
Morner N.A., 2007. Claim that sea level is rising is a total fraud, EIR, 22 June, 2007 (http://www.mitosyfraudes.org/Calen7/MornerEng.html)
Myhre, G., E.J. Highwood, K.P. Shine, and F. Stordal, 1998b: New estimates of radiative forcing due to well mixed
greenhouse gases. Geophys. Res. Lett., 25, 2715-
2718.
Pielke R.A., Adegoke J.O., Chase T.N., Marshall C.H., Matsui T., Niyogi D., 2007. A new paradigm for assessing the
role of agriculture in the climate system and in climate change, Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 142 (2007), 234–254.
Pielke Jr. R.A., Gratz J., Landsea C.W., Collins D., Saunders M.A. Musulin R., 2008. Normalized Hurricane Damage in
the United States: 1900–2005, Natural hazards review, Asce, 29-42.
Reiter P., 2008. Global warming and malaria: knowing the horse before hitching the cart, Malaria Journal, Malaria
Journal 2008, 7(Suppl 1), (http://www.malariajournal.com/content/7/S1/S3).
Shaviv, N.J., 2005. On climate response to changes in the cosmic ray flux and radiative budget. J. Geophys. Res. 110,
A08105
Tiezzi E., 2008. Un incontro con Al Gore, in Liberi di prevedere il domani, Atti del primo Congresso Epap, 25-36.
Törnqvist T.E.,González J.L., Newsom L.A., van der Borg K., de Jong A.F.M. Kurnik C.W., 2004. Deciphering
Holocene sea-level history on the U.S. Gulf Coast: A high-resolution record from the Mississippi Delta, Geological
Society of America Bulletin; July/August 2004; v. 116; no. 7/8; p. 1026–1039
Wolff F., 1995. Trois techniques de verite dans la Grèce classique, Aristote et l’argumentation, Hermes, 15, 41-71.

Figure 1 – Central Greenland temperatures from the end of last ice age to present (Alley, 2000). Four large warm episodes are noticeable: medieval optimum (1), Roman warm period (2), Mycenean warm period (3) and postglacial optimum (4). Last 90 years of data extracted from the GISP2 set by Cuffey and Clow (1997).
Figure 01

Figura 2 – Global temperature measured with the UAH MSU sensors (source: University of Alabama in Huntsville – http://mclean.ch/climate/Tropos_temps.htm)

Figure 02

The Soft Science Of Climatology

Virtual kisses and hugs to Richard Black of BBC Science News fame for his recent “A questioning climate” blog, the work of somebody whose eyes may have just seen some climate sensibility:

[…] In earlier years of reporting climate change, news media were regularly accused of attributing any unusual or extreme weather events to climate change – and often the accusations were justified. […]

some scientists have on occasion gone beyond the data in arguing that climate change will bring global catastrophe […]

clearly, highly intelligent, highly educated people can look at the same set of scientific evidence and come to radically different conclusions – not, perhaps, on the basic issue of whether climate change is or isn’t happening, but certainly on what the pace is likely to be and what threat it poses. […]

These are all disparate elements of a complex picture. How do you rate them? Which do you regard as more or less important?

We are back to what you believe; and if Chris Field sees catastrophe in the picture before him, he is entitled to say so, just as Vicky Pope or Mike Hulme are entitled to urge restraint. […]

On this issue of climate understanding as a (personal) belief, I would especially like to quote the last part of Black’s blog:

Individual pieces of research rarely prove anything by themselves […] In the meantime, scientists, politicians and Joe and Joanna Bloggs down the pub are all entitled to give their own assessments, and often there is a fair amount of belief involved, even for the scientists.

To me, there’s little wrong with that. It’s what we do with politics and football and music and film, and I don’t see why climate discourse should be different.

There are facts out there, and we should recognise them as such, just as we should with medicine and social issues and economics; but there is freedom to believe too, and that, the last time I looked, was supposed to be a universal human right.

In other words, Black is saying that climatology is a “soft science”, just as the Social sciences, Economics (and may I dare suggest for personal experience, much of Medicine). He may have even claimed that the “climate discourse” is akin to pub-based football analysis, but personally I really do not want to go in that direction!!

Now, before the usual voices are heard, let me state that I do not consider “soft” to be a demeaning word for a “science”. Of course we would all want to have all sciences as precise and cast-in-stone as Mathematics, and Physics is perhaps the clearest example of what comes closest to the “ideal” concept of a “hard science”.

But there is no point in wasting time in the realm of the impossible: there are areas of knowledge that can only be dealt with in a “soft” manner. As argued by Massimo Pigliucci for “Rationally Speaking“, under the headline “Strong Inference And The Distinction Between Soft And Hard Science” (Jan 27, 2009), perhaps it’s just that the more complex the phenomenon, the more “soft” its science.

Still, if one recognizes Climatology as a “soft science”, then there is absolutely no meaning in oft-repeated claims such as “the science is settled” and “all skeptics are crank, corrupt and/or perverts“. A soft science, by definition, cannot be settled. Its conclusions are ultimately a matter of belief.

There's Probably No AGW

Anybody up for a new “Bus Campaign”?

The Climate Change Unbeliever's Bus Campaign

It would be quite appropriate indeed, given the fact that Anthropogenic Global Warming has become an article of faith for some. Take Arianna Huffington (please!):

Although HuffPost welcomes a vigorous debate on many subjects, I am a firm believer that there are not two sides to every issue, and that on some issues the jury is no longer out. The climate crisis is one of these issues.

(my emphasis)

Financial Crisis to Climate Negotiators: DO NOT OVER-RELY ON MODELS!!!

The ongoing financial crisis can and will teach all of us many lessons, also in terms of climate and AGW. And no, I do not mean the rather naive made-up litany visible at ClimateProgress.

I refer to something much more profound, especially since there is now evidence that even the guys at RealClimate do not fully understand what they are dealing with, when they deal with climate models (even after loving models to death).

Consensus is in fact emerging about three advices that went missing during the build-up of the financial troubles:

  • DO NOT OVER-RELY ON MODELS
  • DO NOT JUST PUSH TOWARD EVER MORE COMPLEX MODELS
  • BE SENSIBLE WHEN MANAGING RISK

====

I have prepared a couple of quick lists from three recent articles on the business pages of the International Herald Tribune (full attributed quotes at the bottom of the blog; and yes, do keep in mind those are from analysts that are experts in their field indeed).

First, what went wrong. It’s evident that plenty of it directly related to the climate debate:

  • Models gave a false sense of precision. They can now be seen as educated guess calculated to many decimal places. At the time, they appeared precise, and yet proceeded to ultimately demonstrate themselves as totally off base
  • Until the crisis, the field (of financial risk modeling) enjoyed a halo of academic credibility
  • In general, there was too much focus on quantitative issues and data and models. People did not know what to do with things that cannot generally modeled as a quantifiable risk
  • Risk managers were also too busy with models and bringing up data that could not be absorbed by senior management
  • Better modeling, more wisely applied, would have helped, but so would have common sense in senior management

Obviously, the danger lies in the fact that to confuse the model with the world is to embrace a future disaster, as humans (or the climate) do not just obey mathematical rules that can be modeled.

What should be done? I wish the negotiators in Poznan had the following list in mind:

  • Understand that risk is a function of behavior more than of models
  • Consider that risk management is about making big-picture choices, not just trying to prevent losses
  • Acknowledge that risk may mean different things, like hazard, threat, gamble, chance, possibility, or opportunity
  • Accept that models are useful as points of information. They shouldn’t drive risk tolerance and shouldn’t be used to tell anybody how to manage firms (or nations)

Models getting translated to the real world of company or national policy suffer indeed from a “chinese whispers syndrome”, with the original caveat-full expert statements awfully simplified and distorted for the benefit of the business directors (or national politicians).

At the end of the day, the problem is not the models. The models are tools, perhaps the devil’s but still just tools. The problem is putting all eggs in the models basket, in financial just as in AGW terms.

====

(original quotes)

(1) From In fallout from crisis, rethinking risk and human judgment, by Lynnley Browning; IHT, Wednesday, November 19, 2008

[…] to cope with uncertainty and “slippery slopes” […] “With this crisis, everybody is re-evaluating the concept of risk management,” said Richard Phillips, a professor of risk management and insurance at Georgia State University […]

The scrutiny goes beyond a dissection of the complex mathematical models created by financial engineering [and focuses] “on the overreliance on models,” said Carol Fox of the Risk and Insurance Management Society […]

Because nearly all risk-management models failed to predict or protect against the crisis, Fox said, insurers will increasingly view risk “more as a function of behavior than of models.”

Going forward, she said, insurers will use models “as a point of information, but it won’t drive risk tolerance” […].

“People have been managing the wrong risk […] ” said Peter Bernstein, a historian and the author of “Against the Odds: The Remarkable Story of Risk.” ”Risk management is about making choices, not preventing losses. […]

the financial crisis has made clear is that risk, and how one deals with it, can mean wildly different things to different companies, from gamble, hazard or chance to threat, possibility or opportunity. It can be a bucket of nasty things to be avoided, or a daring play. […]

It didn’t help matters that until the crisis, the field enjoyed a halo of academic credibility. “All these rocket scientists with Ph.D.s provided reassurance to decision makers and buyers,” said Paul Bracken, a professor of political science at Yale University.

[According to] Robert Merton, the Harvard Business School professor who received the Nobel in economic science in 1997 […] “A lot of it is straightforward things, like judgments made to accept ratings. We’ve got to get these financial engineers and quant types out of the banks and get sensible types in.” […]

“Our definition of risk became confused with obeying the law,” said Bill Sharon, chief executive of Sorms, a risk-management consulting firm. […]

Now, insurers are increasingly looking at risk management as a process applying […] to big-picture questions […].

After all, said Martin Grace, associate director of the Center for Risk Management and Insurance Research at Georgia State University, “you can have math models, but that doesn’t tell you how to manage the firm.”

(2) From When crisis hit, a global framework for limiting risk proved ineffective by Conrad de Aenlle, IHT, Wednesday, November 19, 2008

[…] Even if [The Basel II international accord on banking supervision] had been put into practice immediately, it might not have averted the crisis. Critics contend that the various models, formulas and equations used to determine asset quality provide a false sense of precision, leaving bankers and regulators with no clear idea of where they stand. The numbers that are derived amount to an educated guess calculated to umpteen decimal places.

“There has been too much focus on quantitative issues and data and models and a lack of understanding of what the main risks are in the business model,” said Peter Neu, a principal in Frankfurt for the Boston Consulting Group. “Risk managers are too busy with models and bringing up data that can’t be absorbed by senior management.”

A shortcoming of some models is that their risk projections come with a caveat that they are assumed to be accurate during normal market conditions. […]

(3) From Wall Street’s extreme sport: Financial engineering by Steve Lohr, IHT, November 5, 2008

“Complexity, transparency, liquidity and leverage have all played a huge role in this crisis,” said Leslie Rahl, president of Capital Market Risk Advisors, a risk-management consulting firm. “And these are things that are not generally modeled as a quantifiable risk.”

The miss by Wall Street analysts shows how models can be precise out to several decimal places, and yet be totally off base

The quantitative models typically have their origins in academia and often the physical sciences. In academia, the focus is on problems that can be solved, proved and published — not messy, intractable challenges. In science, the models derive from particle flows in a liquid or a gas, which conform to the neat, crisp laws of physics.

“To confuse the model with the world is to embrace a future disaster driven by the belief that humans obey mathematical rules.”

Better modeling, more wisely applied, would have helped, Lindsey said, but so would have common sense in senior management

Climate Change Activism's Wreck of a Train

Observationally, they have nothing to show to support their claims of upcoming climate disasters. Scientifically, they got it mixed up and regularly distort what Science is and is not showing. In practice, they are using persuasion tools developed to save pandas and the Hudson river, and those are the wrong ones because Anthropogenic Global Warming is not a species in peril now or a river polluted at the present, but a risk for the end of the century.

No wonder then, Climate Change activists have been fighting a mostly political battle for at least two decades. And the main objective appears time and again to force their solutions upon us, and to stifle all forms of dissent.

In desperation, what else have they got?

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Climate Change

(yes, it has already been used: here, here, here, here, here)

Will human civilization survive the giant climate shifts that will be caused by our SUVs (or by any other cardinal sin brought about by the comforts of modern life)? And what about humanity?

Who knows?

But one thing I am now more sure of. The biosphere will do just fine. Plenty of animals and plants and bacteria and archeas and viruses will prosper if the world will get warmer, if it will get cooler, or if it will continue as before (whatever the meaning of “continue as before” is).

And it’s all written loud and clear in scientific, peer-reviewed literature. For example:

Jeffrey P. Severinghaus and Edward J. Brook, “Abrupt Climate Change at the End of the Last Glacial Period Inferred from Trapped Air in Polar Ice“, Science, 29 October 1999: Vol. 286. no. 5441, pp. 930 – 934 DOI: 10.1126/science.286.5441.930 (Abstract)

The last glacial period was terminated by an abrupt warming event in the North Atlantic ~15,000 years before the present, and warming events of similar age have been reported from low latitudes […] the Greenland Summit warmed 9 ± 3°C over a period of several decades, beginning 14,672 years ago […]

Jørgen Peder Steffensen et al., “High-Resolution Greenland Ice Core Data Show Abrupt Climate Change Happens in Few Years“, originally published in Science Express on 19 June 2008, Science 1 August 2008: Vol. 321. no. 5889, pp. 680 – 684 DOI: 10.1126/science.1157707 (Abstract, free Full Text)

The last two abrupt warmings at the onset of our present warm interglacial period, interrupted by the Younger Dryas cooling event, were investigated at high temporal resolution from the North Greenland Ice Core Project ice core […] A northern shift of the Intertropical Convergence Zone could be the trigger of these abrupt shifts of Northern Hemisphere atmospheric circulation, resulting in changes of 2 to 4 kelvin in Greenland moisture source temperature from one year to the next.

Let’s also keep in mind that 8 ice ages and 8 warm ages have happened during the last 800,000 years.

What can we conclude?

  1. Abrupt climatic changes happen quite often
  2. There is a sizable amount of evidence of climate changes more abrupt than anything experienced in recorded human history. In other words, present-day temperature changes are neither special nor unprecedented
  3. All existing species have gone through several rounds of those abrupt climatic changes. ADDENDUM: And since there is no evidence for periodic widespread extinction episodes linked in any way to the changes in climate, we can rest assured that the overwhelming majority of species adapt to cooler and warmer environments
  4. With or without humanity, another climate change is bound to happen. And another. And another. (etc etc)

Hence, there is very little sense in all the cries about global warming being the destroyer of life on Earth, or of any species in particular.

Note that Humanity itself has survived everything that has been thrown at it. If anybody is seriously worried, rather than overcomplicated and resultless negotiations on carbon emissions, they should dedicate all their efforts to mantaining civilization (=adaptation).

And if we take the LIA into account: who can seriously think that present-day humanity has feebler defences than 1650’s?

On Climate Change, Hands off Phil Plait!

I find them silly in the extreme, those global warming skeptics taking it upon themselves to send insults to people like Phil Plait for the one reason that the author of “Bad Astronomy: Misconceptions and Misuses Revealed, from Astrology to the Moon Landing ‘Hoax’” and “Death from the Skies!” is not exactly a passionate campaigner against that extremely poorly thought-out of scientific theories, anthropogenic global warming (AGW).

For one thing, Plait (whom I met personally in London a few months ago) has studied and debunked many, many kinds of hoaxes, so it is all very natural for him to consider AGW skepticism as “denial” if he sees in climate change skeptics the same pattern of behavior as in those believing in UFOs and a global conspiracy around the “Apollo Moon hoax” (first and foremost, a barrage of insults).

Secondly, from his very words it is clear that Plait is not interested in the study of weather and climate really, and his stance on AGW is what most persons will have: that is, follow the experts (emphasis in the original)

[experts have] been studying [greenhouse warming] a long, long time. It’s a very difficult field of research, fraught with hidden variables, difficult measurements, and political landmines. But chances are they know more about this than you and I do. There’s a reason they’re called experts, folks.

It must be noted that Phil Plait is a very active representative of a large community of Skeptics, alongside the likes of Michael Shermer and James “The Amazing” Randi. Their collective motto is well described by the following words by the Skeptics Society:

the key to skepticism is to continuously and vigorously apply the methods of science to navigate the treacherous straits between “know nothing” skepticism and “anything goes” credulity“

Interestingly, plenty of time is devoted by Skeptics to debunk silly astrological and creationist claims.

For some reason though, even if Plait may still think otherwise, “global warming skepticism” is considered as belonging to a whole different category than pseudoscience. For example, the Skeptics Society’s “Skeptic” magazine has recently provided plenty of space to Patrick Frank to state the following (“A Climate of Belief“, Vol.14, no.1, May 2008):

the claim that anthropogenic CO2 is responsible for the current warming of Earth climate is scientifically insupportable because climate models are unreliable

I recommend Phil Plait and all to read Frank’s article, if only as evidence that it is illogical to call “global warming skeptics” as “deniers”: because rational skepticism is the informed reader’s proper response to AGW claims.

In the words of Patrick Frank:

[…] The proper response to adamant certainty in the face of complete ignorance is rational skepticism […] It is critical to keep a firm grip on reason and rationality, most especially when social invitations to frenzy are so pervasive. General Circulation Models are so terribly unreliable that there is no objectively falsifiable reason to suppose any of the current warming trend is due to human-produced CO2, or that this CO2 will detectably warm the climate at all. Therefore, even if extreme events do develop because of a warming climate, there is no scientifically valid reason to attribute the cause to human-produced CO2. In the chaos of Earth’s climate, there may be no discernible cause for warming.

Who knows? Perhaps one day Phil Plait will make the final connection between the flimsiness of AGW theory and the Mark Twain quote below, from his old website’s homepage.

“In the space of one hundred and seventy-six years the Lower Mississippi has shortened itself two hundred and forty-two miles. Therefore … in the Old Oolitic Silurian Period the Lower Mississippi River was upward of one million three hundred thousand miles long… seven hundred and forty-two years from now the Lower Mississippi will be only a mile and three-quarters long… There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.”

In the meanwhile, it’d sure help if nobody’d insult him.

Climate Change Explained (As the British Obsession With Weather)

A telling choice of words in the latest issue of Nature may reveal an important aspect behind the unrelenting fixation among scientists and journalists to see (global, anthropogenic) climate change everywhere and in everything:

Changing weather patterns, producing the wrong kind of snow, have transformed the population dynamics of lemmings in northern Scandinavia

The wrong kind of snow“?

That’s a very familiar phrase with every British commuter, alongside “wrong kind of leaves on the line“, “wrong kind of rain” and whatever else is quite common and should be reasonably expected (until, that is, it can be used as a bizarre excuse to mask the shortcomings of public transport, such as delayed trains).

And in fact: here’s the publisher’s presentation of a book that came out exactly a year ago: “The Wrong Kind of Snow” by Antony Woodward and Rob Penn (£9.10 on Amazon in the UK):

It’s the great British obsession and not surprisingly: no other country in the world has such unpredictable weather, with such power to rule people’s lives as we have. The Wrong Kind of Snow is the complete daily companion to this British phenomenon. From the Spanish Armada to the invention of the windscreen wiper, each of the 365 entries beautifully illustrates a day in the weird and wonderful history of the British and their weather.

And in fact: where do the authors of the “Lemmings Doomed by Climate Change” (“Population biology: Case of the absent lemmings“) article work?

Tim Coulson and Aurelio Malo are in the Department of Life Sciences, Silwood Park Campus, Imperial College London, Ascot, Berkshire UK

And in fact: where is “Nature” managed from? Why,

The Macmillan Building, London, United Kingdom

And in fact: what major news organization immediately picked up the “Lemmings” story and published it without a comment in an unsigned article? Of course: the British Broadcasting Corporation, aka the “BBC”.

And so when in a few years’ time people will be scrambling to explain the absence of catastrophic climate change, expect the blame to be placed on this: the wrong kind of Anthropogenic Global Warming!

Global Warming Joke

(inspired by “How to Be Right About the Climate: Always!“)

An atmospheric physicist, a metereologist and a famous climatologist are interviewed for a position as climatologist. The atmospheric physicist is asked: “What do you predict for the climate next year?” and proceeds to answer:

I am not sure, but give me a supercomputer and I will set up the calculations for a rough forecast“.

It’s now the metereologist’s turn, and the answer is:

I am not sure, but provide me with the seasonal charts and the observations from previous years, I will set up the calculations in order for a rough forecast“.

The famous climatologist is finally asked “What do you predict for the climate next year?“. To that, the answer is:

Whatever you want me to predict…“.

How to Be Right About the Climate: Always!

(originally published on Nov 17. 2007. The Italian version is here.)

Vincenzo Ferrara, the scientist advising the Italian Environment Minister up to April 2008 on Climate Changes, explains how to become a famous Climatologist in a 1982 article (on the ”Rivista di Meteorologia Aeronautica”, Vol XLII n. 1, Jan-Mar 1982).

The following is an abridged translation:

If you are a climatologist and you want to survive as a climatologist, perhaps even increasing your reputation, all you have to do is provide the exact diagnosis and prognosis that people expect.

To the question “Is the climate changing?“, by all means, never, ever reply “No, everything’s normal“, or “It’s just fakery pumped up by newspapers and on television“: because people would unanimously conclude that you understand nothing about metereology, and nothing about climate.

It would be the end of your career.

The only sensible answer is: “Of course it is changing! It’s a well-known fact, scientifically confirmed and one that none cannot argue against“. You can then launch yourself in forecasting for the next hundred years a climate identical to the current one, amplifying the latest phenomena to extreme consequences.

If it is cold you’ll therefore predict “ice ages“, if it’s warm a “torrid period“, and if there are signs of strong variability “short-term climatic extremes” and more-or-less the same climate in the long term.

You may be wondering, how can a serious climatologist provide impossible, mutually-excluding forecasts without looking silly? Fear not: science will provide all the support needed.

Because climatology has already thought of everything and will supply the right solution in every circumstance, even in the most hopeless cases.

So if it is cold, here’s what you will have to say: “The climate is changing and we are approaching an Ice Age.

This fact has already been scientifically assessed because since 1940, the average temperature of the northern hemisphere has diminished by approximately 0,4°C, probably because of a decrease in atmospheric transparency due to air pollution.

The cooling of the air causes an increase in the extension of glaciers and of snow fields, furthering lowering temperatures with their highly reflecting (high albedo) surfaces. Glaciers therefore increase even more, in a positive feedback that will bring us to a new Ice Age in a hundred years or even less“.

What if it is warm? Then the discourse becomes: “The climate is changing and we are approaching a Torrid Age.

This fact has already been scientifically assessed because since 1850 the carbon dioxide content in the atmosphere has progressively increased and just in the last twenty years has gone from 315 to 334 parts for million. That means that in 2020 the accumulation of carbon dioxide will have more than doubled, taking into account the continuously increasing energy demands and consumption of fossil fuels.

The increase of carbon dioxide reduces the Earth’s long-wave emissions to space (greenhouse effect) so within half a century the average air temperature will increase by approximately 2 or 3°C; the polar ice will dissolve and a sizeable sea level increase will submerge several coastal cities“.

A climatology joke is in order…

The (Un-)wisdom of Bill McKibben

If the Gods of Olympus subscribed to the New York Review of Books, they would surely be laughing hard after reading the unwitting ironies peppering Bill McKibben’s “Green Fantasia” review of Thomas L Friedman’s “Hot, Flat and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution – and How It Can Renew America”.

One wonders if Mr. McKibben will find a way to display less hubris, and more wisdom next time around.

I will focus here on what I see as the two most glaring examples: first of all, about Katrina, the 2005 hurricane that devastated New Orleans and, in the words of Mr McKibben, “woke Friedman from his nap”.

At that point, Mr McKibben (who should have known better) implicity concedes Mr Friedman’s point: making a direct connection between Katrina, and human-induced Climate Change.

[Friedman:] “Have we introduced so much CO2 into nature’s operating system that we no longer know where nature stops and we start in shaping today’s weather”. [McKibben:] Well, indeed we have.

But no serious scientist will confirm that Katrina was caused by (anthropogenic) Climate Change. Within the IPCC itself, the question of “attribution” (how to identify the “signature” of Climate Change in the weather of today, rather than the climate in 15 or 20 years’ time) is still open, and no doubt we will hear more about it in the months leading to the December 2009 Copenhagen Conference.

After all, Katrina was a relatively average Category-3 hurricane when it struck the New Orleans area. And even if 2005 saw a record hurricane season, neither that nor the “duds” of 2006 and 2007 can be used as evidence for or against Climate Change.

In truth, Mr McKibben should have forcefully corrected Mr Friedman on Katrina, as it is extremely unwise to try to solve Climate Change, that he defines as the “most severe of our challenges”, starting from incorrect premises. In fact, by propagating the idea that New Orleans was destroyed by Climate Change, Mr McKibben and Mr Friedman help the real culprits “off the hook”, including the extreme lack of organization in the rescue efforts, of which FEMA’s now-legendary incompetence will forever be indicated as the most damning example.

Another point where Mr McKibben will surely regret his words, concerns “the largest story of the year, and indeed the dominant new trendline of our time”. Dire financial straits for the majority of the world’s economies, perhaps? No: “the sharply rising cost of oil”.

Evidently, Mr McKibben submitted the article long before Lehman Brothers went bust alongside the country of Iceland, before it became normal to hear of hundreds of billions of dollars being handled out to avoid a Depression-Mark II; and before the “cost of oil” sharply stumbled back to below $60 a barrel. No fault there.

The real irony is that Mr McKibben comments that Mr Friedman’s book is “out of date even before it’s published”: that is, exactly what McKibben’s article is. Images of motes and beams spring to mind…also, is it true that “we’re [possibly] starting to run out [of oil]”? Well, yes, it is possible. But as the precipituous fall in oil prices has shown, that was not the reason for barrels to be traded at more than $140 just a few weeks ago.

A final consideration on Mr McKibben’s polemic against Mr Friedman’s “optimism”, “the great imperative of the conventional wisdom”: the alternative to which is alas left unexplored.

Is Bill McKibben advocating “pessimism” by any chance? And what kind of pessimism, one asks? Obviously (or not?) McKibben is not the type to elicit apathy and desperation by advocating a frame of mind where everything we do is useless, because too little, and too late. Therefore: if “Global Warming, above all, should give one pause” (emphasis in the original), what is the next action (if there is any) after that pause has finished?

And by the way…the reason for Mr Friedman’s optimism can be found with a simple search in The New York Times archives, in the May 11, 2008 “Mother’s Day” column:

“But every time life knocked [my mother] down, she got up, dusted herself off and kept on marching forward, motivated by the saying that pessimists are usually right, optimists are usually wrong, but most great changes were made by optimists”

And so to you Bill McKibben…what would you rather be? “Usually right”, or able to “[make] great changes”?

Definitive Evidence for Global Cooling Consensus in the 1970s (3)

A series of blogs analizing Thomas C. Peterson, William M. Connolley, and John Fleck’s (PCF) largely mistitled “The Myth of the 1970s Global Cooling Scientific Consensus” (Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society Volume 89, Issue 9, September 2008, pp 1325-1337). Previous considerations about a global cooling consensus in the 1960’s can be read here and here.

4 – AN INCOHERENT TIME FRAME

In the previous blogs in the series, we have seen how the very statements made by Thomas C. Peterson, William M. Connolley, and John Fleck’s (PCF) The Myth of the 1970s Global Cooling Scientific Consensuscan be used to demonstrate that there was indeed a global cooling scientific consensus, in the 1970s.

The whole concept of the “myth” is merely based on definitions. Besides, PCF’s own methodology meant disregarding almost everything written about global cooling anyway.

Moreover: they have been cavalier with the temporal series of events.

=====

What is the meaning of “the 1970’s”? In the “Perpetuating the Myth” Box (page 1326, page 2 in the PDF file), PCF are particularly disingenuous in their criticism of Singer and Avery (2007), Balling (1992), Giddens (1999), Michaels (2004) and pretty much everybody else.

From PCF’s own analysis, in fact, one can distinguish two eras, with a “cooling consensus” up to 1975:

PCF: “Indeed, the Earth appeared to have been cooling for more than 2 decades when scientists first took note of the change in trend in the 1960s. The seminal work was done by J. Murray Mitchell [in 1963, showing that] global temperatures had increased fairly steadily from the 1880s, the start of his record, until about 1940, before the start of a steady multidecade cooling (Mitchell 1963). By the early 1970s, when Mitchell updated his work (Mitchell 1972), the notion of a global cooling trend was widely accepted, albeit poorly understood.

The first satellite records showed increasing snow and ice cover across the Northern Hemisphere from the late 1960s to the early 1970s. This trend was capped by unusually severe winters in Asia and parts of North America in 1972 and 1973 (Kukla and Kukla 1974),which pushed the issue into the public consciousness (Gribbin 1975). The new data about global temperatures came amid growing concerns about world food supplies, triggering fears that a planetary cooling trend might threaten humanity’s ability to feed itself (Thompson 1975).

The start of the “warming” era is placed by PCF around 1976:

PCF: “It was not long, however, before scientists teasing apart the details of Mitchell’s trend found that it was not necessarily a global phenomenon.Yes, globally averaged temperatures were cooling, but this was largely due to changes in the Northern Hemisphere. A closer examination of Southern Hemisphere data revealed thermometers heading in the opposite direction (Damon and Kunen 1976).

Therefore, according to PCF themselves, scientists up to 1975 would have mostly agreed that the world was cooling. What is wrong then in stating that global cooling was at the time “scientific verity” (Bray 1991)? “Orthodox scientific opinion” in 1974, that is 25 years before Giddens wrote the text below, was exactly as he described it:

Giddens: “Yet only about 25 or so years ago, orthodox scientific opinion was that the world was in a phase of global cooling.

What one could say is that Singer, Avery, and most of those mentioned in that Box, are as guilty as PCF in viewing the 1970’s with glasses tinted with today’s mindframes (eg exaggerating any mention of “global cooling” into “ice ages”).

But is PCF’s the one truly unmissable statement:

PCF: “Clearly, if a national report in the 1970s advocates urgent action to address global warming, then the scientific consensus of the 1970s was not global cooling.

The U.S. National Research Council report they refer to, is from 1979. How could people know about that report, in 1975?

PCF’s analysis is not temporally sensible.

QED.

=====

In a lyrical passage, PCF state their research is all the more interesting because it shows the emerging in the 1970s of “the integrated tapestry that created the basis for climate science as we know it today“. That’s a myth in its own right, and the topic for the next blog in the series.

(continues…)