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« Light blogging | Main | Beddington on warpath »
Tuesday
Feb152011

Real sceptics

An excellent piece by Graham Strouts, looking at scepticism in general but with particular reference to Lomborg and Gore and the Horizon programme.

It seems to me that at some point the science ends and there is a cross-over into politics and ideology, and this is why Lomborg is important because he takes the conversation away from the purely technical issues of CO2 and emissions into what is the most cost-effective response. He could be wrong in his conclusions- I dont know. Pigliucci clearly thinks he is wrong, but his own ideology comes through most strikingly when he defends Gore against the charge of hypocrisy for his high-energy lifestyle while telling the rest of us we must cut back on everything to save the planet: “Gore pays for offsets to his travels in order to achieve a zero-carbon balance, just as he encourages the readers of An Inconvenient Truth to do.”

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Reader Comments (139)

Harlodw

Definition of PATHOLOGICAL
...
3: being such to a degree that is extreme, excessive, or markedly abnormal

Given the norms of politics, I'm not sure that any politician can be considered to be pathological in this regard.

Good point. We should know better, I guess.

Shub
Here is a picture of Al Gore and Clinton, creating the internet with their own hands, literally

See ZDB REALITY!

Thank you,Shub

It was also the last honest day's work either ever did.

Feb 15, 2011 at 10:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

@Feb 15, 2011 at 9:20 PM Atomic Hairdryer

I am not sure what your point was. Did you forget to do a preveiw? It appears the tongue lashing I gave the good Bishop a couple days ago got something, somewhere fixes as I have not had another server time out since. Of course, it could all be happenstance, but do preview.

Feb 15, 2011 at 10:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

I was intrigued by Zeds use of a fencing term, touché.
Truro has a superb, and well-deserved, reputation for Sabre, one of the three fencing disciplines. The other two being Foil and epee.
More Piste on than Piste off Z? Enquiring minds need to know!

Feb 15, 2011 at 10:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoyFOMR

Whatever about the post, that website is Ireland's version of RealClimate, where nary a word is allowed to be said against AGW, and anyone raising legitimate objections is immediately branded a denier. It's one to avoid IMHO.

Feb 15, 2011 at 11:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan

RoyFOMR

I was unaware that Falling on Your Sword was an Olympic even. She is a master of it, however.

Feb 16, 2011 at 12:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

Al Gore invented the internet, you know.

/runs

Feb 16, 2011 at 12:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterSimon Hopkinson

internet inventing: it was in the coming at the time, like a suggestion for a new quango in a chardonnay sprankled function of nannystaters.

let's not forget the 80s were the time we were all glaring at these new rolled in PCs and wondering what to do with it.The mainframes and Digital Vax-es were fighting back with their connectivity: you could do basic chats with them to your colleage 3 floors higher..cool!

Universities were hooking up all these computers to exchange reports and install forums (Usenet for example)

It was just in the coming. It did not need an Al Gore. For every Timbers lee stumbling under the bus there were about a million others not far behind.

Feb 16, 2011 at 12:34 AM | Unregistered Commenterphinniethewoo

phinniethewoo

The internet had many, many fathers and a few mothers. The first computer based step was DARPA's ARPANET. There are other packet store and forward networks, such as radio packet repeater network ALOHA network in Hawaii. There is a good summary here of the EARLY COMPUTER NETWORKS

The World Wide Web as we know it, actually came out of CERN.

Al Gore was not present for any of this. I was along with many others. I am still pissed at him claiming it.

Feb 16, 2011 at 1:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

Alan

Whatever about the post, that website is Ireland's version of RealClimate, where nary a word is allowed to be said against AGW, and anyone raising legitimate objections is immediately branded a denier. It's one to avoid IMHO.,

What is the site? I am unaware of it, but there are a number of boyos in the IRA who owe me a favor or two and I would be pleased to have them "make them and offer they can't refuse."

One of the advantages of knowing people in the west of ROI.

Feb 16, 2011 at 1:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

Don Pablo de la Sierra : seriously offensive and unnecessary. You discredit yourself.

Feb 16, 2011 at 2:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterAndrew B

Meh, it's easy to make a joke from a distance without realising its raw significance to those closer to the thing. I say this as one who tried telling a Challenger shuttle joke to a bar full of Americans at a certain location near Orlando in Florida. A regrettable memory, to say the least. :-\

Feb 16, 2011 at 2:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterSimon Hopkinson

Don Pablo --
I imagine Alan was referring to the site linked in the original post. While Strout's article seems fairly sensible, there is a comment there, apparently from the blog's owner, that Strout has fallen prey to denier propaganda, and apologises for the appearance of such opinions.

To test Alan's theory of extreme moderation, I responded to a comment

according to GRACE gravity satellite readings, Greenland is currently losing 104-138gt per annum. That’s 104–138 BILLION TONS of ice lost per annum.
I left a note which went through the maths to show that 100 Gt of meltwater per year affects the sea level by approximately one inch per century, with the conclusion that capital letters were not merited. We'll see if it appears.

Feb 16, 2011 at 3:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterHaroldW

bish -

care to convert this into pounds or dollars? the folly of CAGW.

15 Feb: Japan Times: Kyodo News: Trillions for biomass projects fruitless
None of the government's 214 biomass promotion projects — with public funding coming to Yen6.55 trillion — over the past six years has produced effective results in the struggle against global warming, according to an official report released Tuesday...
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20110215x2.html

Feb 16, 2011 at 4:04 AM | Unregistered Commenterpat

AtomicHairDryer: We're off topic I know, but maybe the Bish will give us old timers some slack. I agree with you, I was a Bell/Net Head in that my role was in product development of new integrated services (at least in the 80s and early 90s. While I admired they way the internet people circumvented the CCITT stifling machine in the development of their protocols, to me at least, I found them a little arrogant and cavalier, and couldn't see what where they were making money, which indeed most of them weren't. I was at a meeting at which Bernie Ebbers, the infamous WorldCom CEO was asked by one of his bell-heads how the ISP company he'd just bought as a package with MFS a telephone company was making money. His response was they were selling DS3s and access technology and there business model was sound. Not very romantic for the Net Heads but I'd already asked their VP for Product Development how they made money and he'd told me he didn't believe they were making money,which they weren't, but once Ebbers had them in his fold he had them selling WorldCom access lines and believed he could make money from them in that way. Bernie Ebbers went on, of course to join the Corporate Hall of Infamy. No more on this from me for now.

Feb 16, 2011 at 4:10 AM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

Gore probably buys his so-called offsets from a source that he has an interest in.
Carbon offsets are as useful as Kyoto was in managing the climate by regulation of CO2: not at all.
That our usual trollette leaps into the breach to defend her hero is hardly remarkable.
I am reminded somehow of the scene at the end of 'Hot Shots Part Deux' where Rowan Atkinson falls off a cliff and his newly widowed wife looks at Topper and points out that he was a "he really was a wiener".
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hot_Shots!_Part_Deux
The Lloyd Bridges scene where he takes out the boat load of terrorists is a great comment on GHGs and global warming, come to think of it.
Here is the kind of President Gore could have been:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LVH6o7eNF0E&feature=related

Feb 16, 2011 at 5:58 AM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

pat,
6.5 trillion Yen is about 48,000,000 Pounds Sterling, or about $77,000,000 US Dollar$.
In today's craziness, that is not much. In sane times, that is a terrible waste.

Feb 16, 2011 at 6:06 AM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

There are a few people commenting on this site that do not add to the topic on hand.
I will not name them for obvious reasons.
I strongly suggest that we just compleltey ignore their comments.
The rest of us can then just get along with the business of debating issues seriously as adults.

It's best if the Bishop can avoid banning people.
Disagreement between commenters is the lifeblood of the internet.
Disrupting comments can be its downfall if we let it.
Let's not get distracted.
Let's just stick to the topic and they'll go away.

Feb 16, 2011 at 6:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterAusieDan

Feb 16, 2011 at 6:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterAusieDan

The short version ADan is "Do not feed the Trolls"!

Feb 16, 2011 at 7:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterPete H

Here is a nice example of the direction of the world.

http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/view/entry/m_en_gb0216350?rskey=iMieXm&result=2#m_en_gb0216350

Pronunciation:/dɪˈnʌɪə/
noun
a person who denies something:
a prominent denier of global warming

Feb 16, 2011 at 8:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterGeckko

Re Geronimo & Don Pablo

I don't think comparing the green revolution to the dot com bubble aren't that far off-topic as to me there are striking similarities. I'm also ex-WorldCom and used to have regular run-ins with my UUNet counterparts. It's also interesting that Verizon's recently had something of a coup with their mobile people effectively taking over, but then that business unit was making money, the rest were losing it.

During the .com revolution, lots of businesses sprang up all offering to revolutionise something, save you money, improve business efficiency if we just signed here and gave them some money. All supported with flashy powerpoints showing ROI or TCO calculations that were often entirely imaginary and unsupported by any real data. Sceptical customers and investors saw through these sometimes, others didn't.

Same is happening with the green revolution. Sharp business operators are using the same tricks to try and sell their products. Like the 'net, many of those products create free-rider problems. One challenge for the 'net is how to manage video, which is an intermittent edge application that can cause big problems for access and core networks. That's rather similar to the challenges of wind integration into the energy grid. It's an edge application, intermittent and being strapped onto a network that wasn't designed for it. Like the video/'net, wind operators seem to be expecting a free ride and not pay for any core upgrades to support their business. Like some of the .com products, wind is a solution looking for a problem, or an expanded market. It makes sense for off-grid applications or where intermittency can be tolerated, but makes no sense for baseload generation. In the UK, replacing baseload is the problem we should be solving, assuming it really needs replacing.

That's why I think it's important to support the likes of Lomborg and Roger Pielke Jnr who seem to be trying to decouple elements of the climate debate. So OK, assuming we need to decarbonise, what's the most practical, efficient and cost effective way to do this? Take Kingsnorth. That's 2GW of coal/oil generation that will go in 2016. Should we try and replace that with 1,000+ wind turbines, or plug a couple of AP1000's or EPR's into that site instead? Answer seems obvious to me, but then our government seems happier to take advice from environment specialists rather than engineers.

Feb 16, 2011 at 9:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer

"What is the site? I am unaware of it, but there are a number of boyos in the IRA who owe me a favor or two and I would be pleased to have them "make them and offer they can't refuse."
One of the advantages of knowing people in the west of ROI."
Feb 16, 2011 at 1:41 AM | Don Pablo de la Sierra

Wow. Words fail me. I'm going to hope that Andrew is busy/poorly* or has some other reason for not moderating that comment. This is just one of several threats of violence I have seen on this website recently, although it is the most extreme. Someone doesn't like a website, and despite not having seen it, offers to subject them to terrorism.

I would again suggest that you hold up a mirror to your collective selves. Especially in light of the very minimal subsequent crtiticism of this comment. In fact there has been more discussion of my own comments, than this profoundly offensive and disturbing one.

DPdlS's threat also seems so unlikely to be a real one, that I'm beginning to suspect this commentor may be a profound fantasist, which is a shame, but doesn't excuse the comment.

*n.b. - not actually hoping that Andrew is poorly, just that there is a reason why that comment is unmoderated.

Feb 16, 2011 at 10:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterZedsDeadBed

Pablito,

Humor with no pressure :-)

ZDB vete a tomar por culo

Feb 16, 2011 at 10:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterLDLAS

Zed

"you'd know anecdotal is almost useless"

When Don Pablo says something, I'm inclined to believe it. When you say something, I reach for my BS detector.

Feb 16, 2011 at 11:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

"zippedy do dah should start his/her/its own blog"

I agree. If only for the fun of watching him try to moderate it..:-)

Feb 16, 2011 at 11:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

Feb 15, 2011 at 4:30 PM | geronimo re early days at Arpanet.

People should have learned a huge lesson from this scientific endeavour, namely that cooperative altruism is a powerful weapon when bright people get together. There were enormous contributions made pro bono just because people could. That is a prime reason why is grew so rapidly.

Then, along came the carpetbaggers, the jackals like the ISPs who had never put much into the sytem, but who cornered selected nodes and started charging for the work of others. I have only contempt for them. Now, they consider themselves so powerful that they write user contracts that have clauses like "We, the ISP, can change just about anything we like at any time and cost to you and if you don't like it, you can pay an exit fee and leave".

In a few decades we have seen the magnificence of contributory science usurped by the greed of those with no conscience. Alas, it has always been thus, but the Arpanet example is quite important and clear.

The analogy with Global Warming is also clear. The first part of the sequence is missing, or is a guess. The second part, the greed part, proceeded as usual.

Carbon offsets, indeed. We miss you, Lewis Carroll. We need "Albert in Wonderland, the Sequel."

Feb 16, 2011 at 11:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterGeoff Sherrington

Feb 15, 2011 at 4:30 PM | geronimo re early days at Arpanet.

People should have learned a huge lesson from this scientific endeavour, namely that cooperative altruism is a powerful weapon when bright people get together. There were enormous contributions made pro bono just because people could. That is a prime reason why is grew so rapidly.

Then, along came the carpetbaggers, the jackals like the ISPs who had never put much into the sytem, but who cornered selected nodes and started charging for the work of others. I have only contempt for them. Now, they consider themselves so powerful that they write user contracts that have clauses like "We, the ISP, can change just about anything we like at any time and cost to you and if you don't like it, you can pay an exit fee and leave".

In a few decades we have seen the magnificence of contributory science usurped by the greed of those with no conscience. Alas, it has always been thus, but the Arpanet example is quite important and clear.

The analogy with Global Warming is also clear. The first part of the sequence is missing, or is a guess. The second part, the greed part, proceeded as usual.

Carbon offsets, indeed. We miss you, Lewis Carroll. We need "Albert in Wonderland, the Sequel."

Feb 16, 2011 at 11:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterGeoff Sherrington

If we can tolerate trash from a non-contributing member, we can tolerate the occasional lighting-up from someone who does contribute usefully. It is also typical of you, zed, that you notice Don's comment but it does not appear that you ever read your own saccharine comments. You hold your mirror up first and then 'we' will hold ours.

Feb 16, 2011 at 12:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterShub

Follow-up to an earlier post at 3:11. To save you the bother of going to the previous page of comments, I had left a comment at the site linked in the original post, pointing out that a scary-looking quote that Greenland is losing 100 BILLION TONS of ice every year (according to analysis of the GRACE satellites) is actually not so scary when one converts 100 Gtonne per year into a sea level rise of approximately 1 inch per century. The comment *did* appear, contrary to Alan's prediction, although it was waved away with the following:

I can neither confirm nor refute your pocket calculations on Greenland ice melt. I’ll be guided by what the experts say, and they are increasingly trending towards sea level rises of upwards of one metre this century – and much, much more in the event of climatic ‘tipping point’ threshholds being crossed (Greenland is of course just one source for rising sea levels).

And to list one of the responses to the article:

Graham’s [the author of the linked piece, Graham Strouts] attack on ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ swallows the counter-propaganda smear in one gulp. That film was a thoroughly researched, balanced and objective guide for the lay-person on climate change. Just ask the actual climate specialists over at RealClimate.org and they’ll confirm as much.

My conclusion from this brief visit, is that the site is not comparable to RC as was claimed; however, it's certainly not a site at which contrary evidence is considered, merely one of many to repeat blindly the views they have pre-selected, which in this case may be summarised briefly as "look on death itself! up, up, and see the great doom's image!" [And to anticipate the inevitable, yes, there are non-reflective sites such as these with many different points of view.]

Feb 16, 2011 at 12:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterHaroldW

Oh, sorry, forgot to mention that Graham Strouts's post may also be seen at his own blog.

Feb 16, 2011 at 12:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterHaroldW

HaroldW,
The answer to that bit of hand waving that comes to mind is something along the lines of "Do you now disregard math when it is inconvenient?"
And to the whopper about AIT being so wonderful and scientific, "So you liked Gore's use of still special effects from science fiction movies as if they were factual?"
And, since that quote implies something this blog is famous for debunking,
"So you think it is OK to use as the major prop of the movie a graph that has been shown to be disreputable by multiple independent qualified reviews?"

Feb 16, 2011 at 1:21 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

Thanks for the link, Harold. GS's blog is a good read, although I fear that, like this one, it will divert me from doing proper work again...

Feb 16, 2011 at 1:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

Feb 16, 2011 at 9:44 AM | Atomic Hairdryer

Kingsnorth is just 1 of the 7 coal and/or oil fired power stations which opted out of the LPCD:

Didcot (1958MW), Fawley (968MW), Littlebrook (1245MW), Tilbury (1063MW), Grain (1300MW), Kingsnorth(1940MW) & Ironbridge (970MW)

Total almost 9.5GW

These proper power stations will close by 31 December 2015 unless they are forced to close earlier because they have used up their 20,000 hours allowance first.

The other thing to remember that most of the units in these proper power stations are about 40 years old now and when they were designed in the late 50s/early 60s the CEGB required a design life of 35 years.

This was because the CEGB had a rolling programme of replacements for aging plant and indeed power stations were closed down well within that 35 year design life.

Thus those 7 power stations are now living on borrowed time and at the date when the cost of maintenance exceeds income they will be closed irrespective of the drop dead date of 31 December 2015.

Apparently National Grid is hoping that 12GW of gas-fired power stations will ride to the rescue.

Feb 16, 2011 at 1:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrownedoff

Re Brownedoff

I knew there were other plants, but like using Kingsnorth as an example as it's replacement would have produced a 20% CO2 reduction. Yet our eco-terrorists blocked it. I didn't know about the 20,000 hour rule though. Is that publc anywhere? Just looked at the LCPD legislation and saw that started from 1st Jan 2008, so guessing some of the plants can't be that far off hitting that limit?

As for the National Grid's hope of gas coming to the rescue, that may be a forlorn hope. I still don't really understand why the Forgemaster's loan was blocked and we're not exporting reactor parts or other large forgings instead of importing wind turbines. Japan's steel industry must be very grateful.

Feb 16, 2011 at 2:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer

Feb 16, 2011 at 2:26 PM | Atomic Hairdryer

Check third side heading here:

http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/business/sectors/32613.aspx

Just to put that 9.5GW into perspective, just now, coal and oil are inputting 19.2GW into the grid and this is 42.4% of the demand.

Trebles all round!

Feb 16, 2011 at 4:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrownedoff

AH

In connection with the LPCD, I read that "The Government’s White Papers of 2003 and 2007 set out objectives to reduce UK carbon dioxide emissions by 60 per cent by 2050."

If I thought I was still going to be around by then (I should be nearly 100), I would place a large bet that it will never happen. I wonder what odds the bookies would offer..?

Feb 16, 2011 at 5:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

@ James P

If I could find such a bet, I'd have a few thousand on and squander the kids' inheritance with a clear conscience, knowing they're going to make out like a robber's dog in 2050 when the bet pays off....just don't lose the slip!

Feb 16, 2011 at 6:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterJustice4Rinka

J4R

I'm not really a betting man, but I'd make an exception in that case. What interests me, though, is what the bookies' view of the matter might be. Like insurance actuaries, they know more about statistical truth than a roomful of university professors.

Feb 17, 2011 at 10:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

I find the idea of carbon offsets interesting - burn all of the irreplacable fossil fuel you want but feel good about yourself.

Feb 20, 2011 at 1:11 AM | Unregistered Commenterbobmark

Thanks to the Bishop Hill blog for picking up on my post on "Real Skeptics" and for all your comments here.
@HaroldW thanks especially for your contribution on the ThinkorSwim blog- we dont even have to verify your able calculations re melting Greenland ice and sea-level rise to see that Gibbins has know clue what he was talking about as he had clearly made no calculations himself. Ironic that he was responding to my original point concerning Gore's doom-mongering re. sea level rise with... doom-mongering about sea-level rise!
I have posted a commentary on my whole experience at ToS here:
http://tiny.cc/gad2h

Feb 21, 2011 at 11:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterGraham

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