Open Letter To Heartland From The Don't-Do-As-We-Do Climate Team

I’ll believe the sincerity of the Open Letter to the Heartland Institute when, say,

After all, these are climate scientists that keep writing the patently-untrue, such as passing as “fact” this total fantasy

Climate change is already disrupting many human and natural systems.

that is contrary to the latest IPCC assessment.

No surprise there.

Missing Heat 3 – Implications For Policymaking

Trenberth’s “missing heat” should be a problem of physics, only it’s handled by amateur homeo-climate-paths.

Actually, it’s much more than a problem of physics. It has vast policy implications.

If models are not useful in a decadal timescale, such as they can predict a strong warming for a period of minimal or even no warning, then what use is there for models? What government (apart from North Korea…) would make it difficult for people to heat up their homes in the next decade with the explanation that is going to be warm in 2070 anyway?

People do not average-out their lives across decades or centuries: each and every one of us have to go through each and every day first.

If I freeze to death today at -10C, I will not enjoy the warmth of July at +30C even if the average is +10C, perfectly compatible with human life. The same can be said of plants and animals. If I plant an olive tree in my London garden, it will die of cold in February even if the yearly average is in theory just enough to make olive trees survive in the open. If a nasty mosquito species migrates from warmer places during an August heatwave, still if that species cannot survive the following winter it will not be around until next migration opportunity during a future heatwave.

A purely statistical, multi-year approach to modelling the climate is in theory useless for policymaking (similar considerations could be made for non-regional projections, but that is too long a story here – read “How Space-Time Digested AGW” if interested). And if we end up with 15 years of incorrect projections without even a volcano for an excuse, then whatever physical explanation there is, policymakers would be much wiser in keeping climate scientists at arm’s length.

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).

Peter Gleick, Astroturfer?

UPDATE: For those interested in abrupt climate changes of the past

I recently surmised Peter Gleick be an astroturfer trained to make greens look less than…bright. This article would be compatible with that hypothesis, as the author shows no grasp of the history of climate, including what are known as Younger Dryas and the PETM.

It should also be obvious to all that the longer we look in the past, the lower our ability will be to discern one decade from another, and then one century from another. The climate might as well have changed dramatically every year a million years ago, still the paleo traces will only show some kind of long-term average of it.

We cannot seriously compare contemporary records with those of the past without considering that. It would be like saying more things happen now than in the Middle Ages just because more people write now than in the Middle Ages.

The continuous mentioning of the fabulously flawed 97% figure (it’s 97% of 77 out of 1,372) is just the cherry on the cake. Is Exxon funding the Pacific Institute?

Orwell Explains Simon Singh (And Other Intellectual Bankruptcies)

It’s been a source of constant surprise the fact that Simon Singh, “a British author who has specialised in writing about mathematical and scientific topics in an accessible manner” would be willing to tell Wired wholly antiscientific statements such as in response to a question “How are we supposed to know what’s true?“:

Don’t come up with a view, find everybody who agrees with it, and then say, “Look at this, I must be right.” Start off by saying, “Who do I trust?” On global warming, for example, I happen to trust climate experts, world academies of science, Nobel laureates, and certain science journalists. You have to decide who you trust before you decide what to believe.

Throwing oneself into the hands of the experts? That’s a total abdication from reason, an open-armed welcome to complete foolishness as a tool for scientific debate, and a justification for chiropractors if they had any working brain cell left. It’s the “death of knowledge“, as pointed out by Karl Popper in “The Myth of Framework” (already mentioned here by Nicholas Hallam Mar 31, 2011 at 2:43 PM):

[...] in my view, the appeal to the authority of experts should be neither excused nor defended. It should, on the contrary, be recognized for what it is – an intellectual fashion – and it should be attacked by a frank acknowledgement of how little we know, and how much that little is due to people who have worked in many fields at the same time. And it should also be attacked by the recognition that the orthodoxy produced by intellectual fashions, specialization, and the appeal to authorities is the death of knowledge, and that the growth of knowledge depends entirely upon disagreement

Singh repeated the same foolish argument at the Spectator “Global Warming Hysteria” debate(London, March 29 2011), as reported by the Bish:

Simon Singh’s presentation was memorable, but unfortunately mostly for the wrong reasons. He set up what he called a credibility spectrum, with scientists and academies on one side and sceptics on the other and called on us to trust the establishment on the climate change issue. His whole presentation, while outstanding in terms of slick delivery, was an intellectual void, amounting to little more than ten minutes of argument from authority, a point later made by Graham Stringer. It struck me as a little ambitious to even try this sort of fallacious approach to an audience that was likely to be both hostile and well informed on climate science itself. As catcalls of “what about the hockey stick?” rang out, it was clear that many people knew exactly what has been happening. Asking these same people to trust the word of the scientists struck me as a foolish mistake.

It’s a point made also by Fraser Nelson:

the argument “trust the experts” is becoming less persuasive as the information revolution progresses. Hierarchies are being flattened in every walk of life, and this includes intellectual hierarchies. As Mark Penn says, elites are more impressionable than the masses — so more likely to be persuaded by a scientific consensus. The public want to be persuaded, not told that they should believe the Clever People.

Fraser goes on to describe Singh’s foolishness number two, the complete misunderstanding of the debating point:

Simon Singh [...] seems to be anxious to have a ding-dong with someone who doesn’t think the planet is warming and that mankind is, at least in part, responsible. I’m afraid I can’t help. My problem is with the political response to the science.

As for foolishness number 3, well, nothing better than having Singh write a web article about global warming showing zero-to-nothing knowledge of the topic beyond a quick reading of the IPCC and an insane trusting of Skeptical Science.

It’s a catalogue of offenses against thoughthood (sadly, same applies to others who should know better, such as Phil Plait and Bill Nye), a completely irrational behaviour that had been left unexplained. Until now. Note in fact how during the debate, Singh had some sort of slip of the tongue, saying that “the smart money was in Global Warming“, fully justifying James Delingpole’s rebuttal:

Unless Singh can raise his game and actually engage with the argument rather than bullying his opponents with the help of Sleb Twitter pals and his Ipse Dixit logical fallacies, I think we all know who the real muppet is.

However, if we look at it from a different point of view, it had all been described by George Orwell in “James Burnham and the Managerial Revolution” (my emphasis – there’s more to it but I’ll leave that to a different blog):

Power worship blurs political judgement because it leads, almost unavoidably, to the belief that present trends will continue. Whoever is winning at the moment will always seem to be invincible. [...] Within the space of five years Burnham foretold the domination of Russia by Germany and of Germany by Russia. In each case he was obeying the same instinct: the instinct to bow down before the conqueror of the moment, to accept the existing trend as irreversible.

There we have poor Simon Singh then, simply continuing an established tradition among intellectuals. He believes that the pro-AGW lobby is winning, that the IPCC and the Skeptical Science’s of this world are where the “smart money” is: therefore, he “decides” to “trust” them, “decides” to “believe” in them (note the mixing up of science and faith), even roam the world to proclaim his servile, antiscientific, unreasonable stance on the topic.

Just wait until the climate wind changes then, and in 2021 Singh will be out presenting a new book on “Why people wrongly believed in catastrophic climate change“.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Professor Chris Rapley CBE, Director Science Museum

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

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

Climatefellas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Andy – “ Yes boss”

Big Jim – “I thought you might”……………

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

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

Yes.

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

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

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

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

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

Also in Mauritius (1769):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(h/t Fabio Spina and ClimateMonitor.it)

Klima Süß

(comment just left at WUWT)

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

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

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

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

Fracking BBC

guest post by Rupert Wyndham -about the BBC World Service “On the Fracking Frontline“:

Amongst an infinity of others, this programme is just one more example of a policy of systemic bias within the BBC. It might be tempting to add ‘in relation to so-called environmental reportage’. Upon reflection, of course, that is not true. BBC partiality and prejudice is evident across the entire spectrum of its journalistic output. In fact, the notion that BBC ‘journalists’ should report in such a way as to avoid any suggestion of insinuating personal opinion is now as moribund as the Corporation’s founding father himself or, indeed, as the Corporation’s own notional Editorial Standards.

It is quite evident that news reporting/commentary is no longer a matter of providing dispassionate and, as far as possible, carefully verified, accounts of matters of current concern. Rather, BBC news coverage is effectively little different from any other form of ‘reality television’. ‘Journalists’, laughably so termed, are no longer content to provide principally facts for listeners/viewers to absorb and interpret for themselves. On the contrary, instead they consider it encumbent upon themselves to pontificate. They do so, moreover, often with an arrogant disregard for the basic courtesies of civilised exchange. Indeed, impertinent interruption of interviewees now constitutes a mark of supposed independent thought and a tough interrogatory style. Presentational techniques display a uniformity, which denote the hallmarks of institutional in-house training. With few exceptions – and they, by and large, from an older generation – exaggerated gesticulation and extravagant body language are deployed to convey an aura of authority for output that, in truth, is merely glib. Radio has its own counterpart techniques for achieving the same objectives – frequently repeated interruption being especially favoured. The adoption of an endemic ‘corporate speak’ reinforces the perception of shallowness, not to mention of professional indolence. Of course, we now know that much of this froth amounts to little more than rehashes of press releases issued by leftist pressure groups and vested interests – such as organs of pseudo-environmentalism, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, Worldwide Fund for Nature, The National Trust, by way of example.

This programme was no exception. Thus, with excruciating inevitability, we had trotted out for the millionth time the fashionable mot juste of the moment, ‘iconic’, in this case to describe Woodstock. What, pray, is ‘iconic’ about Woodstock? How, might one now go on to ask, did the BBC ever survive the preceding eight or nine decades with only rare and selective recourse to what has now been rendered a facile and hackneyed choice of adjective?

But, though irritating, this type of derivative, copycat reporting is but a symptom of a far deeper and more insidious underlying malaise marked, in particular, by a wilful rejection of objectivity. Repudiation in favour of what? Why, to be sure, in favour of ‘emotional truth’, to borrow the specious and fatuous terminology offered by editors of The Times Comprehensive World Atlas. In short, mere assertion is no longer to be challenged. Demonstrable evidence of a contra-indicative character is to be simply ignored or wilfully misrepresented. Data are to be cynically manipulated within computers programmed to deliver predetermined outcomes. Such outcomes are to be so ordered that any and all observable phenomena in the real world are to be construed as confirmation of a contrived and perverted orthodoxy. Indeed, computer modelling is always to trump actual observation. And it is to this garbage that the BBC lends the weight of its authority – paid for, of course, by the license fee payer. Truth is to be the preserve of a consensus.

So it is with this programme. So-called ‘climate change’ attributable to CO2, human generated in particular, was not to be treated as an unproven assertion but as established fact, to be marshalled to inform programme content with as much certainty as blood circulation informs medical diagnosis. That scientific practitioners in thousands, many of immense achievement and distinction, regard climate change science as a fraudulent contrivance is a fact simply to be ignored, as is the associated chicanery attendant upon it.

Underlying institutional prejudice was carefully re-inforced by repeated references to ‘carbon’, notwithstanding its questionable contextual relevance. The shameless appeal to ‘emotional truth’ was also carefully structured in such a way as to create a putative link between emissions of CO2 (in the programme maker’s eyes, a pollutant) with other wholly unrelated – and, for a change, possibly even genuine instances of pollution as, for example, in China and Hungary. It is noteable that One Planet made (and, one suspects, makes) little of massive pollution created in China, but brought about solely as a consequence of shrill Western pseudo-environmentalist demand of battery operated vehicles. But then, of course, the welfare of third world citizens and their living environments are to be regarded as expendable on the altar of AGW religiosity.

Like most BBC science/eco coverage, this programme was/is meretricious and hypocritical.

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.

THAT "Skeptical Science" Joke

Skeptical Science is like a collection of Aristotelian commentaries at the times of Galileo: for all intents and purposes, a sad and stale joke.

Therefore recently, inspired by its longstanding and approved abbreviation (SS) plus puerile antics against Roger Pielke Sr, I couldn’t help venturing into parallels with Heinrich Himmler’s Nazi organization (the “Protection Squadron“, just like Cook et al feel it their duty to protect science from evil skeptics).

Of course, those were and still are jokes. As I said elsewhere, if your website is abbreviated CCCP don’t get upset if Stalin gets a few mentions…

—- As an aside, there is an unnerving possibility. The site name is “Skeptical Science” and is apparently meaningless as not directly related to its content (in Cook’s world, there is no such a thing as skeptical science – imagine a pro-Tibet site named “List of the Chinese Government’s Human Rights Defence Efforts“). It the name has been chosen for sarcastic effect, little or no sarcasm is actually present in the site. So it might as well be that SS was originally devised so that one could have later labelled all skeptics and skeptical scientists as “SS members”, with the underlying Nazi joke in full force… —-

Anyway, irony pervades our lives and I just experienced it in a sublime way. There I was tonight commenting at Bishop Hill’s blog post about Skeptical Science’s thwarted attempt at rewriting history:

I do not think Rattus or Mark S have dared to open the Wayback Machine link, showing how the SS team didn’t just “update” a blog post.

Having rewritten the “argument”, SS could have removed the old comments; or leave them with a note saying they had become out-of-date; or a different note specifying that the new version of the page addressed the issue highlighted by the commenter, eg AnthonySG1′s.

Instead, the SS team decided to rewrite history (the Ahnenerbe would have been proud). SS opted for tampering with the contribution of commenters such as AnthonySG1 and PaulM (members of us skeptical and therefore inferior race), transforming them into total trolls in a way that that shows not a jot of attempt of respecting fellow human beings.

Why would the SS do that? Total disregard for skeptical visitors of course means SS is completely focused on indoctrinating the believing masses, and especially the scientifically-illiterate journalists visiting the site. Therefore the SS “narrative” has to be linear, clean to the point of being spotless, with not a single error or omission, and not a meaningful point by any skeptic in a million years.

All together now…Wenn alle untreu werden, so bleiben wir doch treu…

Where is the German-language bit from? I thought, let’s conclude the comment along the Himmler joke, perhaps by quoting the SS (Nazi) anthem. And an amazing finding ensued:

Wenn alle untreu werden, so bleiben wir doch treu…

If all become untrue, true we remain..

Wow!

Couldn’t have been more appropriate. If all of catastrophic AGW will become untrue and rejected by most scientists, SS (Climate) will remain there unchanged, I am sure.

ps please refrain from mentioning Godwin’s Law. The Nazi reference is appropriate…

Climate Risk Management Lessons From A Most Strange Quake Trial

As if to underline how its bias on climate change ruins its reporting on the topic, Nature magazine has come up this week with an incredibly good couple of articles about the upcoming L’Aquila trial against the “experts” who (allegedly!!) failed to predict the 2009 quake (or actually, who didn’t communicate risks properly to the population).

In the following, some memorable quotes (and lest we forget, again from Nature: “Researchers failing to make raw data public“, with “The findings come amid a growing push for sharing raw research data — both to facilitate further research and to better prevent fraud or error“).

First of all, from “Scientists on trial: At fault?“:

Prosecutors and the families of victims alike say that the trial has nothing to do with the ability to predict earthquakes, and everything to do with the failure of government-appointed scientists serving on an advisory panel to adequately evaluate, and then communicate, the potential risk to the local population. The charges, detailed in a 224-page document filed by Picuti, allege that members of the National Commission for Forecasting and Predicting Great Risks, who held a special meeting in L’Aquila the week before the earthquake, provided “incomplete, imprecise, and contradictory information” to a public that had been unnerved by months of persistent, low-level tremors. Picuti says that the commission was more interested in pacifying the local population than in giving clear advice about earthquake preparedness.

In other words, the trial is about establishing who is at fault if and when bad decisions are taken because politics trumps science.

Selvaggi, one of the indicted scientists, says that the charges serve as a “dangerous” warning to researchers, who may find themselves in legal trouble because of the way that non-scientists such as public officials or journalists translate their risk analyses for public consumption.

This means that scientists can’t ignore it when their findings are manipulated in the media.

Thomas Jordan, director of the Southern California Earthquake Center at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, and chair of the International Commission on Earthquake Forecasting (ICEF) [...]: “The public expects authoritative, transparently available information [...] and we need to say what we know in an explicit way.”

“Authoritative, transparently available information” indeed. Then about a “risk commission” meeting a few days before the L’Aquila earthquake:

the scientific message conveyed at the meeting was anything but reassuring, according to Selvaggi [...] But there was minimal discussion of the vulnerability of local buildings, say prosecutors, or of what specific advice should be given to residents about what to do in the event of a major quake. [...] Even Boschi now says that “the point of the meeting was to calm the population. We [scientists] didn’t understand that until later on.”

So there’s where (allegedly) public policy took precedence over science.

The suggestion that repeated tremors were favourable because they ‘unload’, or discharge, seismic stress and reduce the probability of a major quake seems to be scientifically incorrect [...] “It was repeated almost like a mantra: the more tremors, the less danger.” “That phrase,” in the opinion of one L’Aquila resident, “was deadly for a lot of people here.”

That is where the “high-school physics” models went wrong, so to speak.

“That night, all the old people in L’Aquila, after the first shock, went outside and stayed outside for the rest of the night,” Vittorini says. “Those of us who are used to using the Internet, television, science — we stayed inside.”

In other words, to trust the scientists blinding is not a good move.

As for the statement that seems to have resonated most with the residents of L’Aquila — De Bernardinis’s claim that during seismic swarms, repeated tremors were “favourable” — Dinacci says of his client: “He’s not a seismologist, he’s a hydraulic engineer,” and that he had only relayed what the scientists had told him.

The parallels with Pachauri are striking…

As Vittorini told Picuti after the earthquake, the messages from the commission meeting “may have in some way deprived us of the fear of earthquakes. The science, on this occasion, was dramatically superficial, and it betrayed the culture of prudence and good sense that our parents taught us on the basis of experience and of the wisdom of the previous generations.”

Presumably, if seismology is “dramatically superficial”, climatology is not that far out either from that decision.

The trial is so important, Nature has a column dedicated to it under “Check your legal position before advising others”:

What is to be done? It is always difficult to convey scientific uncertainty without giving the impression that nothing useful is known, but overstating scientific certainties can be more dangerous.

“overstating scientific certainties can be more dangerous”. Indeed. Well, at least there is now two Nature articles making the point.

Wolfgang! Wolfgang! What Have You Done?!

Here’s some commented text from paper 1 at pages 1 and 2 of issue 1 of Remote Sensing, Feb 20, 2009…yes, of course an editorial by brown-nosed Professor-with-little-to-teach Doctor-with-nowhere-to-guide-to Wolfgang Wagner, introducing the new journal with “A Better Understanding of Our Earth through Remote Sensing” (PDF):

We are so accustomed to seeing satellite pictures of the earth that it seems as if there is nothing left to be discovered. [...] Yet, does this truly mean that all the secrets of the earth have now been disclosed? Can we extract all the information we need from existing earth observation data?

No we can’t. Why? Because of people like you, Wolfgang, trying to remove credibility from those that do use “existing earth observation data” and spending their time sending apologies to the ones who pretend “there is nothing left to be discovered“.

[...] we have now more open questions and needs for environmental monitoring capabilities than ever before [...]

No we don’t. See above. How did you dare mention “open questions” a few months before Copenhagen?

[...] What is the mass balance of glaciers and how strongly does their melting contribute to sea level rise? Are sea surface temperatures rising and will we experience more hurricanes and tropical storms as a result of that? Can we measure subtle changes in sea surface salinity and how do they affect ocean circulation?[...]

Say what? So, in 2009 you did ask questions like a climate skeptic. Wow. Impressive.

[...] These and many more question can only be answered by combining remote sensing and geophysical modeling capabilities in a process-oriented framework.

Process-oriented, uh? As in, by establishing processes that do not depend on the whims and egos of the people involved. What a dream. Too bad it died around 30 months later, when your “framework” stopped caring about the “process“.

The scope of the new journal Remote Sensing is to publish regular research papers, reviews, letters and communications covering all aspects of the remote sensing process, from instrument design and signal processing to the retrieval of geophysical parameters and their application in geosciences. Remote sensing is understood in broad terms, encompassing a wide range of sensors that acquire data about the Earth and its environment, and other physical objects and processes [...]

Now this is important. You know, following your resignation people have started saying the nastiest things about Remote Sensing, a minor journal of no interest for climate science. People who? People like the person you apologised to, dear Wolfgang.

[...] Remote sensing is a highly interdisciplinary field where electrical engineers, physicists, mathematicians, computer scientists, and surveyors meet with their colleagues from photogrammetry, GIS, and the various geosciences[...]

They meet, alright, then what? You try to ostracize some of them, uh? Do they have to listen to a recording of all RealClimate posts in Vogon language?

Is that what a meeting of minds should be about?

[...] Due to the confounding influence of other natural parameters it may for example not be possible to achieve an unambiguous interpretation of the remotely sensed data. The limited number of independent measurements may also mean that an exact solution is unattainable or at least impracticable [...]

So if you KNEW all of this in Feb 2009, what made you throw it away in Sep 2011? On which date exactly did your mind lose coherence (or you evil cousin took over)?

[...] The scientific challenge is to develop retrieval algorithms that describe the physical measurement process in sufficient detail, yet be simple enough in order to allow a robust inversion of the remotely sensed signals [...]

Are you sure your newly-found friend Gleick would agree? Actually, do YOU agree with that statement and if so how can you, now?

[...] My personal wish is that Remote Sensing will stimulate the exchange of scientists from around the world [...]

And yet, when you have seen your wish granted you ran away. What have you done, Wolfgang? Do you realize, from yesterday onwards, each and every paper published on Remote Sensing will be greeted by a question: “What does Kevin Trenberth think about it?”.

It’ll be better and more sincere for MDPI to add a little note to every contribution: “I’m Kevin Trenberth and I approve this paper“.

——

ps in his introductory editorial, Wolfgang mentions “climate change” twice, “global carbon balance” once. Of the seven rhetorical questions he poses, six can be traced to climate change. I don’t know what one should think, but the importance of “climate change” for Wolfgang and Remote Sensing is self-evident.

The Dismantling Of Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Wagner

This being a blog of “unusual takes”, there won’t be much discussion about the self-immolation of a journal’s Editor for a paper that couldn’t be retracted. I also presume the average reader won’t need links to WUWT or Real-Science or the Bish’s blog to know about the aforementioned self-immolation.

The irony of History being impossible to exhaust, however, some public details about Prof Dr Wolfgang Wagner (“Wolfgang” in the rest of this post) do leave mouths open in bewilderment and amusement. For example clean-shaven Wolfgang declared in July 2010 that he was trying to get “a Lead role in the European Space Agency’s Climate Change initiative” in order to “see how soil moisture changes over a long time“. The declaration came during a Living Planet Symposium organized by ESA in Bergen, Norway, five days with “over 1,000 scientists” discussing the “latest findings”. Focus of the Symposium? Environment and climate. And among the members of the Scientific Committee of the Symposium? Wolfgang!

So he mustn’t have been your average climate-change-debate-unaware Editor, our Wolfgang, really.

A few months earlier in 2009 the same Wolfgang was also happily celebrating his being the “Editor-in-Chief of the new Open Access Journal “Remote Sensing”. Why? Oh, the irony!!!:

Remote Sensing journal is an Open Access journal and an online journal, with the Editorial Office located in Basel. It maintains a rapid editorial procedure and a rigorous peer-review system. Because it is an open access journal, papers published will receive very high publicity. The Remote Sensing Editorial team consists of trained scientists (Publisher: Dr. Shu-Kun Lin, PhD in Organic Chemistry from the ETH Zürich, and the Production Editor: Dr. Derek McPhee, California, USA)

Yes, that’s what he wrote: PAPERS PUBLISHED [ON "REMOTE SENSING"] WILL RECEIVE H-I-G-H P-U-B-L-I-C-I-T-Y. Well it sounds silly to protest against that same publicity in your resignation letter, doesn’t it Wolfgang?

Of course it doesn’t stop there. On 3 April 2011, Wolfgang was busy welcoming people to a workshop “WACMOS feedback to science community and water cycle roadmap in a changing climate“. Theme number 2 of 4? “Clouds“. Yeah, right…meanwhile in Feb 2010, the very Institute directed by Wolfgang since 2006 announced the establishment of the “International Soil Moisture Network“. With a key weak point, unfortunately:

The success of the International Soil Moisture Network will be based on the voluntary contributions of scientists and networks from around the world. With this announcement we call upon the scientific community to support this worthwhile initiative. We hope that many more networks are willing to contribute.

One has to wonder if there was any hint of reduction in voluntary contributions, or just a sudden lack of willingness to contribute, unless Wolfgang killed his Remote Sensing position? After all, the news appeared alongside the announcement of a new Chairman of the GEWEX Global Energy and Water Cycle Experiment Scientific Steering Group (some Kevin E. Trenberth).

Some “Kevin”, indeed..no wonder there’s been apologies. Alas, they weren’t enough to stop Remote Sensing from getting trivialized by the same Kevin, as noted by Pielke Sr.

Sic transit gloria Wolfgangi. And good luck with whomever will ever publish a singe paper with Wolfgang as editor.

ps yes, it is much easier to respect somebody when they don’t throw to the wolves a good chunk of their work, in this case, a whole new Journal.

(Failure at the New York Times and ClimateWorks) Why So Many People Are So Unperturbed

It says a lot about contemporary “green” journalism when a report that links the Permian extinction to “methane burps” using a Baltimore Sun article of Dec 2004 is described as “the best job I [Justin Gillis of the NYT] have seen of explaining, in layman’s terms, why scientists keep pressing the issue“.

Perhaps we simply shouldn’t have anymore laymen writing about environmental stuff.

Anyway, here’s my comments to “The Costs of Delay” by Hal Harvey and Sonia Aggarwal for the ClimateWorks Foundation:

—-

How many times can the same concepts be regurgitated before people recognize they don’t lead anywhere?

The report says “A delay—of even a decade— in reducing CO2 emissions will lock in large-scale, irreversible change“. Ironically, this same sentence has been heard first more than TWO decades ago.

It then goes on to “Carbon “sinks” are disappearing” but “the proportion of total emissions soaked up by the oceans between 2000 and 2007 _MAY_ have declined by as much as 10 percent.” I am afraid such weaselry with words is very 2008.

the more CO2 [the seas] absorb, the more acidic they become“: a physical impossibility due to all that salt. Seawater could become less alkaline, but to call that “more acidic” is again a trite, old way of playing with words.

The pages on “impacts” only deal with future stuff that “may“, “is likely“, etc etc happen. That means it “may not”. “Estimates” are so 2008 too.

It gets even more ridiculous when the Permian extinction is linked to a “methane burpby way of a Baltimore Sun article of 2004. Is that a joke? And the authors proceed to mention two studies that depict adaptation in worse terms than even the Stern Review, thereby forgetting all the research that points in the other direction.

In conclusion the Climate Works report shows exactly why so many people are so unperturbed. The case for mitigation against climate change should be made in a less amateurish, less partisan, and decidedly more scientific way. IF that’s possible, that is.

Here's What Livescience Doesn't Want You To Read

A comment of mine “disappeared” from Liescience. Surprise, surprise! Here it is then:

—–

Sometimes I do despair..it all looks like a theater where everybody feels they need to play their usual, tired characters…

Noaa _cloud_ researcher; “it is not newsworthy”

Once upon a time we were told only peer-reviewed research was important. Now there is a peer-reviewed paper with a brand new tack on clouds&climate. If that is not newsworthy then what is?

Andrew Dessler, a professor of atmospheric sciences at texas a&m university: “he’s taken an incorrect model, he’s tweaked it to match observations, but the conclusions you get from that are not correct”

Talk about having an a priori, unchangeable opinion…

Dessler, the A&M climatologist said that he doubted the research would shift the political debate around global warming.

Do clouds care about what a climatologist has to say about the political debate around global warming? Is this ‘Livescience’ or ‘Livepolitics’?

Gavin Schmidt, a NASA goddard climatologist: “Climate sensitivity is not constrained by the last two decades of imperfect satellite data, but rather the paleoclimate record.”

Lord Oxburgh of Oxburgh Climategate Review fame told the UK parliament that “it probably would have been true” to say that “it was actually impossible to reconstruct temperatures over the last thousand years”

Kevin Trenberth: “I cannot believe it got published,”

Of course he cannot. Trenberth is in the scientific dissent suppression business.

Journalist:

Scientists have shown that as the planet warms water vapor, and thus clouds, will increase, trapping even more heat

Have shown? Talk about prejudice…shouldn’t reporting remain separate from a journalist’s opinion?

The study, published july 26 in the open-access online journal remote sensing, got public attention when a writer for the heartland institute
the paper was mostly unnoticed in the public sphere until the forbes blogger declared it “extremely important.

It’s just two days!! And the paper was mostly unnoticed because Livescience fails at his mission “to satisfy curious readers” and never reports on papers that don’t agree with mainstream climate science.

University of Alabama, Huntsville researcher Roy Spencer, is a climate change skeptic and controversial figure within the climate research community
No climate scientist contacted by Livescience agreed.

Spencer is a climate scientist himself. Was that too difficult to report?

Leo Hickman, or the Rehabilitation of Used-car Salesmen

Hickman’s search for peace talks lasted between 3:41PM and 10:43PM on 21 June. That’s seven hours two minutes for the math-challenged warmists in the audience.

Call me a cynic, but I have seen more honesty displayed by used-car salesmen. He can really go back to dance with Ahmadinejad as far as I am concerned.

Will Policy Lass "Get It"?

Time will tell. Here’s a couple of comments I have just left at Shewonk. One never knows what happens with one’s comments, nowadays…

The underlying question of course is: 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?

#5. Perish the thought that we are all losing because of war-like attitudes such as yours? I mean, it’s been almost 20 years from Rio, and “climate change policy” is always at square one (or counter-effective, such as the ETS transferring money from the taxpayers to the big utility companies). How many times does one need to bang one’s head against the same wall before deciding to open the door?

If not now, when will it be the time to reconsider the whole approach?

——

#7. I could just ask you the same question. What “realism” in continuing along a path that has failed repeatedly? Which bit of “climate change policy is always at square one, or counter-effective” don’t you get? And after two decades of attempts?

Unless of course you’re in denial, and believe anything practical regarding climate change has been achieved by anybody anywhere (I live in the UK, and the “greenest government” is going from one set of climate shambles to another).

The answer cannot be, “the enemy outsmarted us”. Because if the enemy keeps outstmarting you, and you keep trying the same thing over and over again, the problem is not your enemy, is it.

Simply put, there are many other ways to get things done in politics than demonizing one’s opponents and go on the warpath. It’s also difficult, especially in a democracy, to see anything become law if there’s no effort at inclusiveness.

I would say, even under most tyrants it’s impossible to see anything become law if all efforts are in the direction of identifying whoever doesn’t follow one’s orthodoxy, with the aim of isolating them. Of course you’ll end up “isolating” the whole world, isolating yourself that is.

This situation keeps reminding me of that insane “Islamist” group in Algeria (the GIA, I believe) that decided at one point the whole population was made up of apostates. Of course, support rapidly evaporated.

So You're In Favor Of Climate Mitigation?

I hereby declare that anybody that can come up with a mitigation plan different than “a shot in the dark ruining us and the children for sure and with a slight chance of getting the grandchildren marginally better” will get my unconditional support.

I don’t think such a plan exist, otherwise black carbon would already be a thing of the past.

Forget Global Warming! It's now time for GLOBAL FRACKING!!!

Scare story on the BBC on Wednesday morning, about shale gas extraction by “fracking” and agitating Blackpool. What a surprise. There appears to be a concerted effort to kill shale gas, despite (or because) it being so plentiful. What a surprise.

Anyway: the scare is unwarranted. What a surprise. Third time.

We’re so green about the environment, we’re recycling our fears too.

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. [...]

The Pop Psychology Of Climate Change

This is how it might have all started:

  1. Over the years since Illuminism and the Industrial Revolution, lots of very intelligent people with a penchant for control freakery got convinced the world was going to the dogs, due to intrinsic faults in the way humans organized their societies
  2. They thought the only solution was their own particular form of egalitarianism/socialism/communism
  3. Eventually, they all found a discharge valve for their ongoing frustrations in the existence of actual Socialist states, “Workers Paradise” and the likes
  4. Sadly for them, but happily for many people, that all collapsed around 1989 (with the tearing down of the Berlin Wall) and then 1991/1992 (with the disappearance of the USSR)
  5. But then, in their established mindset, if there is no hope for Socialism then there is no hope for humanity itself
  6. This means that for lots of very intelligent people etc etc, the world is effectively going to the dogs, or better yet to the cockroaches. But how?
  7. Cue “anthropogenic global warming” (AGW) as the “perfect storm”, including the world going to burn to cinders and people and societies too selfish to recognize their guilt
  8. This makes “global warming” a particularly leftist ideology, no matter what the science behind it actually says (and doesn’t)
  9. Some people (for obvious reasons, mostly not of a Leftist disposition) actually recognize the situation for what it is (AGW as a political attempt at reorganizing human society around the communal good as established by whomever is in charge, dressed up as a purely scientific theory even if cracks continuously need to be tapered up (see the “scientific group” called the IPCC getting the one and only political Nobel Prize, Peace’s).
  10. Those people dare express their skepticism.
  11. But if you are convinced the world is going to the dogs because of human and societal faults, therefore those skeptics are ipso facto the very representation of human and societal faults.
  12. Hence the skeptics “have” to be silenced, summarily dismissed, marginalized, described as figures of fun or evil or both

Is there any way out? Yes there is. All we need for the AGW brouhaha to get out of the way, allowing climatology to be more science than politics for the first time in 15 years or more, is for something else to keep busy those mostly Leftists with good intentions on making everybody’s life as awful as possible but in a “Workers Paradise”.

Where is a big financial crisis when one sorely needs it? 8-)

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?

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19:213-226
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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.

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