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Journos come running

As soon as the global warming movement puts out the call, much of the press simply comes running, ready to repeat the mantra on request. The latest to involve themselves in the Mann media movement is MSN.

"They can threaten whatever they want," the Penn State professor told me on Sunday, after his talk at the New Horizons in Science meeting at Yale University. "I'm quite confident to fight those sorts of witch-hunt attempts."

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Reader Comments (57)

Mann is quoted as saying:
"I spend quite a bit of time these days on what I might generously describe as outreach"

Does this mean that no-one wants him to do more 'research'..?

Nov 10, 2010 at 10:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

And which other people might describe as propaganda...

Nov 10, 2010 at 10:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterArthur Dent

Mann is prominent in a new article in the current issue of The Atlantic, in an article by James Fallows, "Dirty Coal, Clean Future".

Nov 10, 2010 at 10:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterRob Schneider

Well you have to same approach to science witch hunts can happen... little did Monty Python know...

CROWD: A witch! A witch! A witch! We've got a witch! A witch!
VILLAGER #1: We have found a witch, might we burn her?
CROWD: Burn her! Burn!
BEDEMIR: How do you know she is a witch?
VILLAGER #2: She looks like one.
BEDEMIR: Bring her forward.
WITCH: I'm not a witch. I'm not a witch.
BEDEMIR: But you are dressed as one.
WITCH: They dressed me up like this.
CROWD: No, we didn't... no.
WITCH: And this isn't my nose, it's a false one.
VILLAGER #1: Well, we did do the nose.
BEDEMIR: The nose?
VILLAGER #1: And the hat -- but she is a witch!
CROWD: Burn her! Witch! Witch! Burn her!
BEDEMIR: Did you dress her up like this?
CROWD: No, no... no ... yes. Yes, yes, a bit, a bit.
VILLAGER #1: She has got a wart.
BEDEMIR: What makes you think she is a witch?
VILLAGER #3: Well, she turned me into a newt.
BEDEMIR: A newt?
VILLAGER #3: I got better.
VILLAGER #2: Burn her anyway!
CROWD: Burn! Burn her!
BEDEMIR: Quiet, quiet. Quiet! There are ways of telling whether
she is a witch.
CROWD: Are there? What are they?
BEDEMIR: Tell me, what do you do with witches?
VILLAGER #2: Burn!
CROWD: Burn, burn them up!
BEDEMIR: And what do you burn apart from witches?
VILLAGER #1: More witches!
VILLAGER #2: Wood!
BEDEMIR: So, why do witches burn?
VILLAGER #3: B--... 'cause they're made of wood...?
CROWD: Oh yeah, yeah...
BEDEMIR: So, how do we tell whether she is made of wood?
VILLAGER #1: Build a bridge out of her.
BEDEMIR: Aah, but can you not also build bridges out of stone?
VILLAGER #2: Oh, yeah.
BEDEMIR: Does wood sink in water?
VILLAGER #1: No, no.
VILLAGER #2: It floats! It floats!
VILLAGER #1: Throw her into the pond!
CROWD: The pond!
BEDEMIR: What also floats in water?
VILLAGER #1: Bread!
VILLAGER #2: Apples!
VILLAGER #3: Very small rocks!
VILLAGER #1: Cider!
VILLAGER #2: Great gravy!
VILLAGER #1: Cherries!
VILLAGER #3: Churches -- churches!
VILLAGER #2: Lead -- lead!
ARTHUR: A duck.
CROWD: Oooh.
BEDEMIR: Exactly! So, logically...,
VILLAGER #1: If... she.. weighs the same as a duck, she's made of wood.
BEDEMIR: And therefore--?
VILLAGER #1: A witch!
CROWD: A witch!
BEDEMIR: We shall use my larger scales!
BEDEMIR: Right, remove the supports!
CROWD: A witch! A witch!
WITCH: It's a fair cop.
CROWD: Burn her! Burn! [yelling]
BEDEMIR: Who are you who are so wise in the ways of science?
ARTHUR: I am Arthur, King of the Britons.
BEDEMIR: My liege!
ARTHUR: Good Sir knight, will you come with me to Camelot,
and join us at the Round Table?
BEDEMIR: My liege! I would be honored.
ARTHUR: What is your name?
BEDEMIR: Bedemir, my leige.
ARTHUR: Then I dub you Sir Bedemir, Knight of the Round Table.

Nov 10, 2010 at 10:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterJiminy Cricket

So the University of Virginia have spent over $350,000 in preventing the release of emails and other correspondence concerning Mann's publicly funded research. If Mann is now arguing, "Bring it on", surely the University should release the emails and allow the public battle that Mann now wants, and save itself more money in the process.

As for Mann's admission that, " the tree-ring data stopped reflecting true temperatures 50 years ago for reasons that are not yet fully known" then it doesn't take a genius to understand that if the modern instrumental data and the tree-ring proxy data have diverged over that period then the uncertainties in the proxy data prior to that period must be very large. The tree-ring data-sets are not robust.

Now any researcher worth their salt would want to investigate that matter in great detail. Instead we find that Mann is now involved in outreach. Telling his story to all and sundry that BIG OIL is out to get him.

None of it is very convincing. Is it?

Nov 10, 2010 at 10:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterMac

Someone needs to tell Mann and the MSM that there are now so many polar bears that they may have to be culled to prevent too much invasion of human settlements.

Nov 10, 2010 at 11:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhilhippos

Perhaps they could send the Manns (snr and jnr) on a polar bear cull and get him to talk about that...

Nov 10, 2010 at 11:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

We do not know why the trees do not match record temperatures in the last 50 years.

Why should we believe that trees were ever an accurate representation of temperatures?

Is it not time for a definitive Paper by a dendrochronologist to establish that tree rings can be used to prove when a tree was growing, but not temperatures during its growth.

This would enable all papers relying on tree ring data for climate, to be consigned to the recycling bin.

Nov 10, 2010 at 12:01 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charley

It would seem that trees are bad at recording temperatures. It is not Mann's fault that he believed otherwise, or so we are now being told.

A Josh cartoon of a sickly tree having its temperature taken would be mute.

Nov 10, 2010 at 12:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac

Everything you need to know about global warming in the UK but were afraid to ask:

Nov 10, 2010 at 12:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterJim T

Judith Curry has an interesting post on ideology in science, dated 7 November. See:

She quotes from a post comment by Nick Darby who asserts:
'There are five attributes of ideologues:
1. Absence of doubt
2. Intolerance of debate
3. Appeal to authority
4. A desire to convince others of the ideological “truth”
5. A willingness to punish those that don’t concur

Note that each of these characteristics is anathema to science.'

She notes that ideology per se is not necessarily a bad thing, but she is clearly concerned about the politicisation of science, and makes a stab at identifying the IPCC ideology. She quotes from Prof. Mann's piece in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists to provide illustrations of what she means.

I find this very helpful, and it helps explain the readiness of much of the media to cover alarmism about CO2, and alarmist leaders such as Prof Mann so uncritically: they may well share a common ideology.

Nov 10, 2010 at 12:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

@ John

With ecofascists, does 4 really apply? They couldn't care less whether others agree or not, surely. They're right and they know you're right. Others are, well, witches.

Nov 10, 2010 at 1:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterJustice4Rinka

4 is important because it describes zealotry.

5 follows as a consequence of 4.

Mark Twain puts it best, "Man is a Religious Animal. He is the only Religious Animal. He is the only animal that has the True Religion--several of them. He is the only animal that loves his neighbor as himself and cuts his throat if his theology isn't straight. "

If sceptics cannot be convinced they will be punished for their own good.

Nov 10, 2010 at 1:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac

"I can't imagine having to tell my daughter when she's grown up that polar bears became extinct ... because we didn't act soon enough..."

The polar bear has become today's red herring, its carcass dragged again and again across the trail of AGW rants to confuse the following journalists.

Nov 10, 2010 at 1:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Maloney

I'm guessing he has to start to change his job to a PR mann, cause no ones going to believe a word he says when it comes to climate (I want to use the word science but it hasn't been science for years now) hockey-pockey.

Sung in a drunken voice. "You put your tree rings in, your tree rings out, in, out, in, out, you fudge the stats about".

Nov 10, 2010 at 1:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterShevva

Slightly O/t but here is an item I found just now on the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition site.

It is good news.

Peter Walsh

Nov 10, 2010 at 1:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterRETEPHSLAW

Mann - a legend in his own Anthropocene ;)

Nov 10, 2010 at 3:09 PM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth


Hey Don P you haven’t accidentally launched something from your back yard and not told anyone have you?

Nov 10, 2010 at 3:31 PM | Unregistered Commentermartyn

Mann made the MWP disappear from IPCC AR3! Who but a witch has the power to do that?

Nov 10, 2010 at 3:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterSpacefunk

The depressing thing is that even though the intellectual case for CAGW is poorly supported, all the measures to "address" it seem likely to come about anyway, and to affect us adversely in perpetuity.

A parallel case in point is position limits in commodities. These were invented in the 1920s to curb supposedly excessive speculation in grain. They have been with us ever since, even though

(i) no evidence has ever been produced in support of speculation being a problem
(ii) no evidence has ever been produced in support of position limits being the solution
(iii) much evidence has been produced to debunk both
(iv) they've been claimed to prevent high prices, and low prices, and price volatility.

Despite this, position limits are still with us and in fact morph every few years as the justification needed for them changes. But they keep a big regulatory industry busy and are thus a sort of indoor subsidy to a certain sort of person.

I suspect climate management will go the same way and that in 20 years' time we'll all be paying green taxes for some other allotrope of the same reason. The climate's getting colder or whatever. What will stay constant is the solution, which is that all of must pay for bureaucrats to work against our economic interests, because it's good for us. The climate bureaucracy is simply a solution in search of a problem.

Nov 10, 2010 at 3:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterJustice4Rinka


Your comments here and on other threads are genuinely informative. Thanks.

Nov 10, 2010 at 4:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD


Interesting comment.

But one small niggle, - you must remember the 2008 'worldwide food shortages' (meaning - food shortages in the US), food riots etc, attributed by some to Goldman Sachs' simultaneous activities in biofuel price ratcheting and US bread wheat commodities futures market. Nice article here. I remember George Bush blaming the developing countries for eating up available food.

Nov 10, 2010 at 4:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterShub


It's pretty clear that having established a new set of taxes and bureaucracies offering non-jobs for regulatory dogsbodies, on the back of 'carbon' there will be phenomenal resistance to getting rid of any of it.. Expect name changes, other excuses apart from CAGW, and all sorts of dodges rather than drop any of it.

Nov 10, 2010 at 4:44 PM | Unregistered Commentercosmic

If you cannot calibrate your proxy with KNOWN temp data, it is completely meaningless. But ignore that, let's do some OUTREACH!

Nov 10, 2010 at 4:52 PM | Unregistered Commentermojo

Biofuels cause more than food riots, they also increase CO2 emissions. Millipede knew this for years but still signed the UK up to the EU target a year ago. Thats what comes of all those meetings with the Green lobby.

Nov 10, 2010 at 4:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohnH

My guess is that Mann has very, very strange dreams every night...

Nov 10, 2010 at 5:30 PM | Unregistered Commenterjorgekafkazar

Perhaps Mann is using displacement activity as currently the global temperature data show no significant warming since the time that data homogenisation/adjustment was largely completed. That is where the 'threat' is coming from, truth: the sceptics serve only to remind him of that.


Adjustments (…international agreement on how to make temperature adjustments…):

Nov 10, 2010 at 5:45 PM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

@ shub

That article is behind a paywall, so I can't see it. There are several flaws in the usual arguments made against funds, though. The claim that Goldman caused food shortages (or price rises, or crashes, or anything else) is empty, because no fund ever takes physical delivery of any of the commodities in which the fund is invested. So they didn't remove one single ear of wheat from the market.

Neither can a fund force the price of anything up. With a commodity such as wheat, if there's nobody selling to the fund, then there's no trade. So every time a fund bet on the price rising, there had to be an equal and opposite bet that it would fall.

Third (and most persuasive of all to me), to get any investors in the first place, funds have to state a strategy in their prospectus and auditably stick to it, or face prison for fraud. This means that most funds said they'd hold (eg) 10% of fund value as wheat, so when the price of wheat went up, they had to sell it. If the wheat price doubled they halved their wheat holdings, they did not buy more! So funds sell into strength and buy weakness, which is 180 degrees opposite to what they're alleged to do.

If you can stand some fairly heavy maths you may enjoy this paper:

The authors are writing about the price of oil rather than wheat, but they conclude that the price spike and crash of 2008 to 2009 was caused partly (84% to 93%) by fundamentals and less than 2% by all other factors combined including speculation.

You don't get science like that out of UEA.

If the price of wheat got too high, it was because there wasn't enough of it, relative to demand. Funds no more altered that basic fact than you or I can alter the outcome of a horse race by betting on it. The odds, yes, but not the actual outcome.

And one of the reasons the wheat price got too high was because ecofascists, disgracefully, had ensured it was more economical to use wheat as fuel than as food. This is why Matt Ridley was bang on the money the other day, in his response to David Mackay, when he said that environmentalism is causing hunger and fuel poverty now and killing people nowwhile the IPCC frets decadently about what may happen in 200 years' time.

It is a moral outrage. Environmentalists are IMO morally exactly equivalent to 16th-century conquistadors in South America - rounding up and slaughtering the locals for their own good, because it is God's work, feeling great about themselves, and (of course!) getting quite prosperous in the process. They are not merely bloody fools - they are reckless, malevolent vandals.

Nov 10, 2010 at 5:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterJustice4Rinka

@ shub

"Neither can a fund force the price of anything up. With a commodity such as wheat, if there's nobody selling to the fund, then there's no trade. So every time a fund bet on the price rising, there had to be an equal and opposite bet that it would fall."

Haven't you ever heard of tulipmania? Don't you remember the Bubble and Crash? What about the subprime mortgage scandal that was a cause of the credit crunch? The idea that speculators cannot influence prices is simply ridiculous.

Your points about the dangerous effects of unthinking environmentalists are correct, however.

Nov 10, 2010 at 6:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

Sorry, I should have addressed my comments of a few minutes ago to Justice4Rinka and not Shub.

Nov 10, 2010 at 6:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

Dear Bish
I hope you can get enough of this Mannian propaganda. :). Mann is speaking in hyperlink again - sort-of like the Shodan of Climate Change

“Hackers stole thousands of emails –private correspondences between scientists,” said Mann, “and their words were cherry picked, taken out of context and distorted to make it sound like scientists were engaged in some sort of hoax.”

‘Hide the decline’ actually meant the scientists were going to remove unreliable tree-ring data, not cover up any decline in temperatures.

Mann said the real crime was the illegal theft of private correspondence, in addition to the moral crime of intentionally distorting what scientists believe and think.

The last point above makes the Bishop with his HSI report a 'moral criminal' then?. The lecturing and hectoring continues...

“It is necessary and important for the scientific community to do the best it I can to defend itself from this oncoming attack, and frankly, we are entirely reliant on the willingness of the mainstream media to serve in its role as the critical and independent arbiter and not just report the two sides of the so-called debate, but to actually establish what is fact and what is fiction. The scientists will not be successful against the attack that is coming unless the media is serving its role.”

Back in 2003, when the Soon and Baliunas vilification campaign was well-underway, wrote Mann in an email to Tom Wigley:

One or two people can't fight that alone, certainly not with the "artillary" (funding and political organization) that has been lined up on the other side. In my view, it is the responsibility of our entire community to fight this intentional disinformation campaign, which represents an affront to everything we do and believe in. I'm doing everything I can to do so, but I can't do it alone--and if I'm left to, we'll lose this battle,

It is unbelievable how the same sort of rabble-rousing is being rolled out - then practised via emails within the 'team', 'community' - call it what you will - where Mann potrays any scientific, political, legal challenge to the content of his work - as an 'attack on science' - using the same logic, riling up large numbers of otherwise neutral parties, to fight on his behalf - the metaphors are always 'war', 'battle', 'an affront to everything we do and believe in'.

Does the scientific establishment have no other better business - like say, letting the facts speak for themselves - than be maids of honor for Mann holding up his coat-tails wherever he goes?

Seriously,...what does Mann believe in? Why did he assume as a given, that only his paper, only his version of past reality - should be represented at hearings or serve as the substitute of 'truth'.

Darrell Issa has said, for example, that he would give Climategate, a 'closer look'. Mann automatically appears to assume that the government will come after him!

Is this how all climate scientists think? I am sure not.

Nov 10, 2010 at 6:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterShub

Not forgetting;

Nov 10, 2010 at 6:08 PM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

Justice for Rinka,

"If the price of wheat got too high, it was because there wasn't enough of it, relative to demand."

No - that's not entirely true? The Harper's Bazar article, argues quite persuasively, that this need not be the case. And grain shortages definitely occured during the 2008 period, but they were not the only cause for the price of wheat going up.

An article copy is here. Goldman Sachs' response here.

The joke in all this? Goldman Sachs blamed biofuels and the 'vagaries of weather' for the food shortage (forgetting to mention that it had a hand in that).

Long-term trends, including increased meat consumption by the growing middle class in the emerging markets and the increased use of biofuels in the developed markets, have created a backdrop for global food shortages and, as a result, millions are left desperately exposed to the vagaries of the weather for their survival.

Nov 10, 2010 at 6:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterShub

@ Roy

If there were any evidence that speculators could influence commodity prices, somebody would have found it by now. The speculators blamed for oil price rises sold into the spike and bought into the trough. They were facing exactly the wrong way.

In principle a speculator could increase the price of something, but only by buying up and removing the supply, and then waiting for the undiminished demand to force the price up. While possible in theory, it's not what happened, and it would anyway be illegal.

Oil tankers full of oil sat in the Gulf because floating storage was cheap and Gulf oil is the wrong grade of crude oil for making diesel. Diesel was acutely short in 2008 because the US SPR bought up a load of such crude and the Chinese stocked up with diesel for the Olympics. The start of SPR buying coincides exactly with the start of the superspike, and the cessation of buying coincides exactly with when the SPR stopped (

Nov 10, 2010 at 6:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterJustice4Rinka

Witch hunt mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

Trick or Cheat?

Why has Mann not sued all his detractors? The number of which, when plotted against time, resemble a graph of the hockey stick type which Mann honestly made up for time/temperature.

Nov 10, 2010 at 6:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterStacey

@ Stacey

All he could sue for would be damage to his reputation, of which not a lot is left.

Nov 10, 2010 at 6:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterJustice4Rinka

Justice4Rinka - re: speculation influencing commodity prices, I wondered about this when the oil price spiked so dramatically. In my simple world I sort of concluded that speculators can effect prices in the short term but for a "flow rate" product like oil they can only do this as long as they can pump funds into the market at a rate sufficient to take (a large chunk of) the available production. IIRR (from news coverage) there was a trader who was taking some pride in getting the oil price above USD100/barrel and I'm guessing that other investors, perhaps driven by a real consumption need for the product, were coming into the market to secure product for their own needs. I could imagine that a speculator could initiate a market direction and trend which they may be able to profit from but as far as controlling the market I don't see how this could be done without unlimited funds - and if you are in that position I'd guess pumping commodity prices would not hold too much attraction unless you wanted to put a particular sector under pressure. Just thinking aloud - and probably way beyond my pay grade! Interested in more qualified views and I'll read the links you supplied above - thank you.

Nov 10, 2010 at 7:23 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

I sort of concluded that speculators can effect prices in the short term but for a "flow rate" product like oil they can only do this as long as they can pump funds into the market at a rate sufficient to take (a large chunk of) the available production.

That's about right. You'd have to buy and hold the stuff until all the other guys blinked. Deep pockets and major cullions needed, plus an appetite to defend yourself against the almost inevitable criminal charges.

IIRR (from news coverage) there was a trader who was taking some pride in getting the oil price above USD100/barrel

Doubt it - it would be an ill-advised boast! You may be remembering Arjun Murthi, the GS analyst who was derided for predicting $105 oil - but was proven right.

Unfortunately he went on to get it spectacularly wrong thereafter, but he wasn't alone. Another guy, at Merrill Lynch, predicted a smallish possibility of both $250 oil, but also and $25 by the end of the same year! So if it happened he could say "See, told you that would happen" and if it didn't, he could say "See, told you that probably wouldn't happen".

could imagine that a speculator could initiate a market direction and trend which they may be able to profit from

Some do try, but over timescales of a few minutes rather than a whole decade. The exception is Hamanaka and the Sumitomo copper scam, where he cornered the market for 10 years, but he eventually ran out of money, sure enough, and relied on a lot of broker collusion to get away with it meanwhile. He actually bought copper and hid it in warehouses to make the market look tighter than it was. It worked as long as he kept buying and prices stayed high, because he was in the money, but eventually he was using so much risk capital just funding his position that the bank investigated and that was the end.

Nov 10, 2010 at 8:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterJustice4Rinka

Fight you Michael Mann? No, we'll just ignore you.

Nov 10, 2010 at 8:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterSean Peake

Rob Schneider -

thanx for the Atlantic link. all 3 pages are worth reading, but how many lies are there in Mann's contribution?

December: Atlantic: James Fallows: Dirty Coal, Clean Future
“The reality of it is that in many cases, there may not be any fixed threshold for ‘irreversible’ change,” Michael Mann told me. “What we have with rising CO2 levels in general is a dramatically increasing probability of serious and deleterious change in our climate.” He went down the list: more frequent, severe, and sustained heat waves, like those that affected Russia and the United States this summer; more frequent and destructive hurricanes and floods; more frequent droughts, like the “thousand-year drought” that has devastated Australian agriculture; and altered patterns of the El Niño phenomenon, which will change rainfall patterns in the Americas. In other cases, he said, there could be important thresholds. For example, the possibility of dramatic rises in ocean levels, which could affect the habitability of New York, London, Shanghai, Miami, the entire Netherlands, and many other modern conurbations, along with coastal areas in India, Bangladesh, and elsewhere. “It would be nice to know where such thresholds are so we can avoid crossing them,” Mann said. “We can’t know that. What we do know for certain is that with each fraction of a degree of warming, the probability of such potentially catastrophic outcomes goes up.”
That’s the big picture...

Nov 10, 2010 at 9:32 PM | Unregistered Commenterpat

Justice4Rinka - thanks, extra comments noted. I just googled the USD100/ barrel item and hit this:

I hadn't seen the fine story - my memory was from coverage at the time. The link above links to a contemporary story:

Re: Merrill and the two views of the future price - I think in the past couple of weeks Soc Gen and Swiss Re have given pretty much opposite views on the future values of EUA CO2 prices (I can't find the ref's with a quick google - they are on another machine). This seems to be a feature of "financial" stories (house prices for example!) and I wonder what purpose they serve and who listens to them.

Nov 10, 2010 at 9:39 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

Climate scientists and journalists like to pretend that nobody supported global cooling theory back in the 70s. I wonder whether it will be Mann or Lindzen that scientists and journos will swear they really supported when another 10 years have gone by. They should be aware that everything the pundits say, or don't say will be captured for posterity in the web. It will be hard to pretend they supported Lindzens quiet, precise, contemplative style if they suck up to Mann's contrasting demeanour. And in case anyone is wondering, giving one a free platform to whinge while ignoring the other, constitutes sucking up.

Nov 11, 2010 at 1:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Yet again with the death threat thing! Who is investigating these threats. Has Mann (or Jones) ever produced evidence of these threats? I would have the police involved at any threat of this nature but all I have ever seen is Mann and Jones etc making claims to reporters.

Anyone know of police involvement?

Nov 11, 2010 at 5:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterPete Hayes

@pete hayes

Norfolk CID is still far too busy investigating which CRU insider had an attack of conscience and liberated the Climategate e-mails to worry themselves about real crimes like threats to kill Phil. If they ever happened.

Nov 11, 2010 at 6:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

Dear Mr Montford,
Perhaps you also could write a post on the following matter taking place in Germany.

Nov 11, 2010 at 8:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterP Gosselin

@ P Gosselin

What is your view on the fact that he, for example, questioned the hazards of passive smoke, or that he contested the fact the ozone layer was damaged by CFCs, or that he trivialized acid rain?

I like him already.

Nov 11, 2010 at 9:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterJustice4Rinka

An update from Judith Curry on happenings across the pond -

Keith K has further comment at Collide-a-Scape.

Nov 11, 2010 at 9:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterChuckles

Sorry for the OT, but regarding the oil price spike of 08, the current IEA energy forecast has a graph of World oil production by type, which seems indicative of a peak in 08, though the worrying thing about the graph is the shaded area designated "Crude oil - fields yet to be developed or found". Unless that shaded area is filled in with something tangible, we already hit peak oil.

graph here

The International Energy Agency annual energy forecast for 2010. This link is the 23 page press presentation. (pdf) (graph is page 8)

Bloomberg piece mentioning global oil stockpile surplus:

"Oil prices will be “substantially higher” by 2012 as the global stockpile surplus shrinks and excess production capacity drops, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc."

Nov 11, 2010 at 10:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterPete

@ Pete

Re peak oil, there is just too much uncertainty about this to make sensible predictions, and all that are made have assumptions embedded in them.

We've used about a trillion barrels of oil already. Depending on what you assume about technology, there are either another trillion or another five trillion or another 10 trillion in existing known fields.

Knowing what's left depends very heavily on what assumption you make about recovery rates and recoverable depths. If you have a 10 billion barrel field but 90% is not at a reachable depth today, it's actually a billion-barrel field. However, if you figure out how to drill deeper, it becomes a 5 or even 10 billion barrel field again. And if you improve your technology so you recover 40 rather than 15% of what's there, then you go from having a minimum of 150 million barrels left to maybe having as many as 4 billion barrels. Same field, different assumptions.

The assumption you make about the pace and nature of technology development is thus absolutely critical to where you see "peak oil" occurring. This is before you start adding in likely finds in areas not yet searched - eg the Arctic - and from unconventional oil (shale, tar sands). Then, suddenly, even the figure of 10 trillion barrels left starts to look conservative. It could maybe be as high as 30 trillion, in which case we've used not 50% but 3%. This is why Sheikh Yamani's remark that "the Stone Age didn't end because we had run out of stone" is widely regarded as being very acute.

The relevance of all this to climate change is acute. Compare the two attitudes. Peak oilists have their models of what will happen based on current knowledge and on the past, and they are in respectful and civil disagreement with others who have arrived at different projections off different assumptions. All who have a view agree that you can't predict the state of hydrocarbon reserves 30, 40 or 50 years ahead, nor can you predict technology, and you certainly can't predict price. You can conjecture based on your best view of the data.

When a climate scientist declares that the temperature will be 1 degree higher in 100 years, he has however claimed to have predicted exactly all those things with unimpeachable accuracy. He has made assumptions about energy price, energy demand, energy supply and energy extraction technology in order to come up with his model's CO2 inputs for 100 years hence, and absolutely nobody who knows about this area has endorsed or validated these assumptions because if they had, I'd have heard about it. But the climate scientist knows somehow that all his assumptions are right.

And those aren't the only embedded assumptions either - think of population, think of wider technology - and so on.

There is consensus in the energy industry that you can't make forecasts 20, 30, 50 years hence without making some swingeing assumptions that may be completely wrong. Compare that to the climate alarmism business, where they routinely insist that they can model all that stuff and do so four times further into the future, with almost total confidence and unanimous agreement. If it sounds like complete balls, Pete, that's because it is.

Nov 11, 2010 at 11:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterJustice4Rinka

Justice4Rinka, Although I support your generalisation climate science, I don't think the field compares well to one pondering supply/demand. Climate science has many many more unknown unknowns, than supply/demand have known unknowns.

Peak Oil isn't about how much is left, it's about how much we can extract in a given period in relation to the demand. The issue of improved total recovery pales to insignificance if the total production rate falls. The downslope of the graph is representing known depletion in recovery rates, as I said, whatever is representing "fields yet to be developed or found" needs to come online now, improved technology which may improve total recovery rates need to increase production rates, now. Some technologies (fracking) can improve production in declining wells, only in the short term, and at the expense of total recovery as the well suffers a collapse.

I think shale oil is a pipe dream, it would make more sense not to bother and just use the saved energy anyway, besides it was included in the graph with other unconventionals.

I hope I don't come across preaching it, it's just my view, I think AGW is a political cover for peak oil (and enabler of gravy trains for wealthy tribesmen). The more they get us plebs to go low carbon, the more the wealthy get to carry on business as usual, while business models change to guarantee tribesmen alternative income streams that don't rely on the economic growth of the past.

Course the peakers could be wrong, there could be a massive new discovery (not arctic tho, I think the ice will remain a problem for a long time), since new discoveries peaked in the 1960's you think they would have found one by now tho. If you look at recent oil prospecting investment, there's not much going on, the new rig in the news recently is a puddle jumper, re-usable, to go after smaller pockets of oil which would be uneconomic with a conventional rig, seems they're getting desperate in their search for more, all the low hanging fruit has gone. I think there will be more economic ructions which will postpone a potential supply gap in the short term though.

Nov 11, 2010 at 12:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterPete

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