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Marshall islands typhoon: weather not climate

Updated on Jul 4, 2015 by Registered CommenterBishop Hill

In my Twitter timeline come a couple of tweets from Tony de Brum Foreign Minister of the Marshall Islands, which is currently in the middle of a typhoon:

Just landed home. Majuro like a war zone. Roofs torn off, huge blackout, ships ashore. On alert for more tonight.

Today in Majuro. My family home battered by the beginnings of yet another cyclone. Climate change has arrived. MinTdB

Click to read more ...


Science says one thing, scientists another

Anyone would think there was a big climate conference coming up, because the BBC is pumping out the climate propaganda left right and centre. A couple of nights ago we had Kirsty Wark fawning all over Chris Rapley on Newsnight (from 40 mins) and wondering why good people like him weren't making the policy decisions. Today we have Roger Harrabin on ocean acidification (video here).

The samples are chalky white for millions of years from the fossils of tiny shellfish. That's until this dramatic point 55 million years ago [the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum; PETM], when the oceans suddenly got hotter and more acidic and the shellfish disappeared. It took shellfish 160,000 years to recover and scientists say humans are changing the seas ten times faster than at this catastrophic event...

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Does Labour hate the North?

I missed this news a couple of days back, but it's quite an interesting as a demonstration of the results of the Climate Change Act and the duplicity of the political classes:

Yorkshire’s coal mine to close

More than 400 people are expected to lose their jobs due to the closure of the Hatfield Colliery in South Yorkshire.

It is closing 14 months earlier than scheduled.

According to trade union Prospect, 420 “high-skilled” jobs and further jobs in the supply chain will be lost.

Click to read more ...


ECC elections

Results are coming through for the election of committee members for the Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee.

As well as the SNP chairman, we now have:

  • Alistair Carmichael (LibDem) - a windfarm proponent
  • Ian Lavery (Lab), former head of the National Union of Mineworkers
  • Melanie Onn (Lab), MP for Grimsby, a centre for offshore wind
  • Matthew Pennycook (Lab) - looks like a machine politician, allegedly pro-shale
  • Alan Whitehead (Lab), a green

Which means Graham Stringer is no more. No sign of the Conservative members yet.


Polar propaganda

The US Geological Survey is trying on the "polar bears are all going to die" line again, the latest in a long line of attempts to link polar bear populations to summer ice extent (predicted to decline rapidly under global warming) despite all the evidence pointing to spring ice thickness (little affected by small amounts of warming) being the critical factor. In fact it is thick ice that seems to be the problem, causing declines in populations of both seals and the polar bears that prey on them. Polar bears do most of their feeding in the spring, when seal pups are there for the taking; they tend to fast over the summer.

The USGS press release is interesting, revealing that the authors used IPCC models of sea ice extent and then tried to derive future polar bear populations from them (I kid you not). They conclude that all bear populations will decrease in the future except in one region "where sea ice generally persists longer in the summer". And confirming that they are quite clear that it's summer ice that is the issue, there is this:

Click to read more ...


The compliant media and the scary stories

The BBC and every other environmental pressure group in the country is reporting the release under FOI of a draft Defra report on the impacts of unconventional oil and gas with considerable excitement. The main theme is encapsulated in the headline: "Fracking 'could lower house prices' says draft official report".

Here, for comparison, is an FT report from 2013 about the effects of the Bakken shale revolution in North Dakota., which analyses house sales, says the average house or condominium in Williston in 2009 cost $101,906. By 2011, the average was $122,000 – still below the norm for North Dakota. “But since then prices have doubled or in some cases tripled,” says estate agent Arlene Hickel, of Bekk’s Realty in Williston.

A study of home prices in Pennsylvania also found an overall positive effect, with only homes with a private groundwater supply negatively affected (in the UK this would be pretty much nobody). And even here it is worth noting the part that fear plays in this effect. There is no real evidence that shale gas actually affects ground water - there are only environmentalists' scare stories compliantly repeated by a compliant media. When The Economist, once considered a serious publication, puts a "flaming faucet" at the top of a story about shale, you realise that something has gone badly awry.


The two Ds and their killer plan

Many of the metropolitan chatterati are getting their knickers in a twist this morning over the expansion of London airport capacity. Deep-green Tory MP Zac Goldsmith is threatening to resign his seat in protest over the official Airports Commission decision to go with a third runway at Heathrow.

While the commission has been working away, its chairman Howard Davies has engaged in some interesting correspondence with Lord Deben. I was particularly struck by this letter from Lord D in which he specifies the level of carbon emissions that the aviation industry will be permitted to make:

Click to read more ...


Why science is not enough

There's an excellent take-down of the "evidence-based policy" movement at SciDevNet. Author Erik Millstone seems to have a pretty firm grasp of things:

...the relevance of...models is more often assumed than it is demonstrated. In the case of climate change, some computer models of the impact of greenhouse gases on climate might usefully approximate to global realities.

Science advisers often ignore or conceal key uncertainties when offering judgements, perhaps catering to policymakers’ preference for reassuring oversimplifications

...some stakeholders might claim a uniquely authoritative understanding of an issue based on evidence


The madness of Lord Deben

Lord Deben was on the Today programme promoting the Committee on Climate Change's 2015 progress report, which I shall read at my leisure. However Lord D's performance was amazing: he sounds more and more like Paul Ehrlich every day. No doubt the writing in capital letters will follow in due course.

This was completely swivel-eyed stuff, a full-on regurgitation of every bit of environmentalist disinformation that he could conjure up in three minutes with barely a pause for breath. For example, we had a bogeyman tale about Bangladesh facing doom, although Lord D was rather vague about what precisely it was that was going to be causing this crisis:

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White wrong

President Obama's energy adviser [Stephen Chu] has suggested all the world's roofs should be painted white as part of efforts to slow global warming.

Telegraph, 27 May 2009

By using white roofing materials, [architects] could earn a point for helping a city like Philly stay cooler and therefore lower air-conditioning demand and natural-resource consumption for electricity generation. But the fact that they would spend more on heating costs was not always factored into the equation., 29 June 2015


More votes

A few weeks back I asked readers to vote for my local hockey club on the Mars Milk Fund website. The club is running a campaign to raise funds for a badly needed new pitch, and the fund could potentially give us £1000. With 24 hours still to go we are in third place, so if anyone didn't quite get round to doing it last time, now is your moment! And your spouse's moment! And your children's moment!

You see where I'm coming from.

The link is here.

Thanks to everyone who can help, or helped last time round.


Quiet satisfaction abounds

Lancashire county councillors have decided to reject Cuadrilla's Little Plumpton shale well planning application, throwing out the advice of their own planning officials. A second Cuadrilla application in the area fell at the first hurdle and never reached the councillors.

I assume there is scope for the government to step in and overrule, but I don't suppose that David Cameron has the parliamentary support to do anything like that, even if he had the gumption.

There will be quiet satisfaction in many places around the world tonight: at the BBC, in Saudi Arabia and in the corridors of the Kremlin.


Venting and venting

Robert Wilson is nothing if not grumpy, and his grumpiness can lead him occasionally to a kind of foolishness that he might have avoided if he had taken a deep breath before clicking on the publish button.

Today's post is a case in point. Entitled  Dear climate change deniers, please spare me your faux concern for the poor it is something of a rant at "right wing climate change deniers/skeptics/lukewarmers" (he forgot "eeevil" and "big-oil-funded"). According to Wilson, BH readers and people like that are actually cold, callous, heartless bad people who are unconcerned about our fellow human beings unless they are, like us, bloated plutocrats. What seems to have pushed him over the edge was a tweet from Junkscience's Stephen Milloy, which had a poverty-stricken Indian lady asking "Who exactly is 'the Pope' and why doesn't he want me to have electricity?". It does look rather as if Wilson's ire has been prompted more by the fact that these are difficult questions for global warming adherents to answer rather than anything else. Certainly it's a crashing logical fallacy to respond as Wilson does:

Click to read more ...


More alarmist than thou

A new paper on sea-level rise by Grinsted et al is currently doing the rounds, with horror stories about what the future holds in store being touted to newspapers across Europe. The authors have provided a list of the "probable" levels of sea-level rise in major European capitals, a step that editors no doubt find extremely helpful.

The University of Delft, home to some of the paper's authors, has a blog post on the findings. It's typical of the genre, reporting a rise of 0.83m for The Hague and generally trying to drum up a bit of excitement. The paper itself is entitled `Sea level rise projections for northern Europe under RCP8.5', so it's fairly clear that it's exploring outlier scenarios. As if to emphasise the point, there's this quote from Grinsted himself:

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The GISS graph mystery

There are lots of people getting excited by a new animation put out by Bloomberg, which seeks to persuade people that only carbon dioxide can explain the temperature history of the last century or more. It's nothing new - just a prettier version of arguments that have been put forward in the past. I have to say I am greatly amused by the fact that the models stop in 2005. I wonder why that could be?

The simulation was put together by Gavin Schmidt and Kate Marvell of GISS, using GISS Model E2, a climate simulator with a relatively low TCR of 1.5 but a rather strong aerosol forcing of -1.65 Wm-2. However, the IPCC's best estimate of aerosol forcing is only -0.9 Wm-2 and the recent Bjorn Stevens paper put the figure at just -0.5 Wm-2. What this means is that had the GISS model had an aerosol forcing in line with recent best estimates, it would have warmed much too quickly. The resulting embarrassment would have been greater still had the model data not ended ten years ago. I really would like to know why this is.

Still, it's a pretty graph.