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« Conference on the Science and Economics of Climate Change - cartooned by Josh | Main | John Mitchell »
Wednesday
May112011

Royal Society summer show

The Royal Society is doing a Summer Science exhibition this year, featuring, bien sur, a global warming exhibit. This has been prepared by Dr David Stainforth of the Grantham Institute at LSE (the Bob-Ward-not-so-science-y bit, rather than the Brian-Hoskins-with-numbers bit at Imperial). The choice of author does rather seem to be the Royal Society nailing its colours to the mast.

The exhibit is called Confidence from Uncertainty and looks at climate models and how their output is communicated and so on.

This bit struck me as straight out of the activist-not-a-scientist handbook:

How does it work?

Mankind’s emissions of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, are warming the planet. This in turn will change the local climate we experience all around the globe. In the globalised society we live in we will feel the consequences not only as a result of local changes but also as a result of impacts in distant places.

Not may be warming the planet, but are warming the planet. Blimey. As readers here know, we have no idea if the warming we've seen is even statistically significant.Yet here is the Royal Society proclaiming that we're definitely warming and its carbon dioxide that's doing it. Not a hint of a doubt.

With a trailer this careless with the uncertainties, the exhibit itself should be something else.

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Reader Comments (20)

I am sure "Confidence from Uncertainty" will have them queuing down Carlton House Terrace!
My only comfort is that the general response to this will be a collective yawn. Even our poor brainwashed children must be bored to death by now with the constant repetition of "catastrophe tomorrow" but never any catastrophe today!

May 11, 2011 at 8:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterJack Savage

Jack got in with it first, but yes, better book early, sure to be a huge demand for tickets.

There is also the third omnibus assumption in there - that the slightest human action alters the climate, locally and globally, in a negative manner.Note, the climate, not the weather or the environment, the climate. And indeed that mankind is capable of influencing and altering the climate with the wave of a carbon indulgence.

May 11, 2011 at 8:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterChuckles

"Confidence from Uncertainty?" Another Newspeak slogan, like “Peace from War," "Freedom via Slavery” and “Strength from Ignorance!” The Age of Doublethink is upon us.

May 11, 2011 at 8:46 AM | Unregistered Commenterjorgekafkazar

@ jorgekafkazar

Or

"Money from Lybia" and "Degrees for Cash"

May 11, 2011 at 8:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterAnoneumouse

I have local temperatures that range between 8 to 25 degrees as of yesterday a difference of 17 degrees. What extra difference will I be able to feel locally and what extrasensory perception do I need to feel changes on distance places? At the moment I can't feel the difference between the Arctic or the tropics. This new science will give me some great super powers.

May 11, 2011 at 9:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Whale

Hilarious Anoneumouse! Given that Libya's money comes from oil, and the LSE received money from Libya, by the Bob Ward/Lord May chain of reasoning, that does make Bob 'in the pay of Big Oil', I guess. I wouldn't commit the genetic fallacy like that, but since Bob has doen so, I guess he's hoist with his own petard.

May 11, 2011 at 9:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterAynsley Kellow

The degeneration and degradation of the Royal Society on the climate issue is not yet over, it would seem. I had hoped their modest rethink on their earlier position-taking was a sign of some integrity returning, perhaps even a distancing of themselves from the political hurly-burly, and that they might in due course continue to develop a more scientifically rigorous position without losing too much face. Ah well, c'est la vie. I still wonder, though, how many of their Fellows would actually support their fooling around like youngsters on some heady mission to save the world. The youngsters will grow out of it. The RS leadership should have had the maturity to avoid it in the first place. The world is in no need of beng saved. On the other hand, some of our institutions are.

May 11, 2011 at 9:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

Last night, with a few hours to spare before it expired on the web, I finally got around to viewing Niall Ferguson on Africa and the 'killer app' for western civilisation of medicine, episode 4 of his excellent Civilisation series for Channel 4. I think it's relevant so bear with me :)

I already knew about The Kaiser's Holocaust, as the The Herero and Namaqua Genocide has now been called by one historian, in what is now called Namibia, from 1904. What I didn't know was this. Francis Galton travelled through that very area and made notes on the Herero (as well as other tribes) on the great expedition to Namibia that made his name, 1850-52. When he got back he reported, of course, to the Royal Society. Then he mulled over all he learned and coined the term "Eugenics" - one of the greatest breakthroughs in science, akin to the discovery of the enhanced greenhouse effect, as I'm sure we'd all agree. And of course the UK's science establishment continued to cheer him on his way. From Wikipedia:

He was active on the council of the Royal Geographical Society for over forty years, in various committees of the Royal Society, and on the Meteorological Council. ... The method used in Hereditary Genius has been described as the first example of historiometry. To bolster these results, and to attempt to make a distinction between 'nature' and 'nurture' (he was the first to apply this phrase to the topic), he devised a questionnaire that he sent out to 190 Fellows of the Royal Society. ... Over the course of his career Galton received many major awards, including the Copley medal of the Royal Society (1910).

That last award was three years after the Herero genocide that he had done so much to inspire. Pity isn't it that the guy wasn't around to see the full fruit of his labours, in 1941-45.

But the Royal Society is still around, bless it. Always trust authority, that's what I say.

May 11, 2011 at 9:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

It's fascinating how science has degraded since I was taught in the 1950s and 1960s. I'll demonstrate by proving the most basic tenet of climate science, 'back radiation', is a wrong:

You're on a beach. The air temperature is 25°C and because there's a high wind, the sand surface temperature is 30°C. You decide to erect a windbreak. The sand surface temperature rises to 45°C.
Assuming 0.85 emissivity, that corresponds to an increase in radiative flux from 406 to 493 W.m^2.

According to the IPCC [http://hockeyschtick.blogspot.com/2010/05/nasas-earth-energy-budget-contradicts.html ] 83% [100.324/390] is returned as 'back radiation'. So, I've suddenly increased 'back-radiation' by 72 W/m^2.

Yet if I calculate the increase in 'forcing' for 290 to 390 ppm [CO2], it's 5.55 ln [390/290] = 1.6 W/m^2 and we are told by the IPCC that this has increased average surface temperature by c. 0.65K. So, just by rearranging a bit of beach furniture [very large beach, say the Sahara], I can cause 45 times as large an increase in 'forcing', a notional local temperature increase of c. 30K!

The reality is that 'back radiation' is determined by Prevosts Law of interchange [ 'A body emits and absorbs radiant energy at equal rates when it is in equilibrium with its surroundings. Its temperature then remains constant.'], the most basic of the Laws of radiation. It is counterbalanced by an equal an opposite flux from the hotter object, so cannot do thermodynamic work.

This imaginary heating is then supposed to be hidden by 'cloud albedo effect' cooling, a mistake made by Sagan. So, the hierarchy in the IPCC have inadequate basic physics' education. To get 'cloud albedo effect' cooling, which has no experimental proof, into AR4, NASA created fake physics: http://geo.arc.nasa.gov/sgg/singh/winners4.html

There is no 'surface reflection': the biggest scientific mistake in history became the biggest fraud.

May 11, 2011 at 11:19 AM | Unregistered Commenteralistair

The Royal Society has suffered no sudden degradation of it's scientific standards, but maintained a remarkably steady reputation for elitism, snobbery and the promulgation of nonsense. The RS has never been anything more than a rather splendid 'gentlemans' club' for wealthy and/or titled dilletantes who like to be regarded as intelectually superior people. The Society is, at least, being true to its history.

May 11, 2011 at 1:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander K

The Royal Society is always ready to make a few quid whilst promoting their beliefs system.

They are also acting as the venue for the CBI's energy conference 2011:-
http://climatechange.cbi.org.uk/events/cbi-energy-conference-2011

Keynote address: "Achieving competitive secure energy in the low carbon economy."

Of course you might wonder about the CBI's role in this latest escapade. I bet you thought the CBI's brief was to promote the interests of British Industry.

Promoting huge increases in energy costs and uncertainty of supply to further the cAGW religion?

Is this in the interest of British Industry (other than those in on the scam)?

Not so much.

May 11, 2011 at 1:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Brumby

It's a lot worse in astronomy. I get tired of reading the most ridiculous conjectures built one on top of the other and presented as established fact or intelligent comment. Here's one I read yesterday:

Claim: "...spiral galaxy IC 2497, located about 650 million light-years from Earth...produced a quasar...powered by a black hole..."

Comment: "We just missed catching the quasar, because it turned off no more than 200,000 years ago" [astronomer William Keel of the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa] says. "This implies that it might flicker on and off..."

Here you have a concatenation of completely unproven assumptions about entities that can't even be detected. You have to admire the self-delusion that a conjectured unseen quasar a conjectured 650 million light years away supposedly conjectured to be powered by a conjectured black hole that is conjectured to flicker on and off is conjectured to have 'turned off no more than' a conjectured '200,000 years ago'.

May 11, 2011 at 2:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterScientistForTruth

@ jorgekafkazar

or

Arbeit Macht Frei.

May 11, 2011 at 2:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterMique

Alexander K

The RS has never been anything more than a rather splendid 'gentlemans' club' for wealthy and/or titled dilletantes who like to be regarded as intelectually superior people.

Quite right. And the RS is not the only 'gentleman's club' in the UK. Sadly, most are filled with Eejits -- in particular the BBC.

May 11, 2011 at 3:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

Perhaps they are in the process of re-branding? 'The Royal Society of Circular Arguments' (with Prince Charles and Al Gore as joint Royal Fellows).

May 11, 2011 at 4:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterZT

"Arbeit Macht Frei."--Mique

Jawohl. The proctoganda never ends.

May 11, 2011 at 6:36 PM | Unregistered Commenterjorgekafkazar

Here in BC Canada, the government announced yesterday that new coastal projects should be designed to accomodate 0.5 meter sea level rise by 2050. We were even treated to the spectacle of having Andrew Weaver interviewed on local TV trying to scare us about sea level rise.

http://bcenergygrants.com/aggregator/sources/1

May 11, 2011 at 8:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterJim Brown

...and their motto is..?
'Take nobody's word for it..'

May 11, 2011 at 9:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid

Martin Brumby - you are so right - it seems as though the whole collective directorship of British industry have suddenly turned into turkeys voting for Christmas. Is there no-one out there capable of thinking - let alone saying: 'Hang on, this is cr*p, and we are all paying the bill..'...? Are they all so sh*t-scared of Call Me Dave..??
Off-topic in a way, but I can also recall when the AA was the motorist's 'champion' - now they seem to be nothing more than the 'nanny' for the Department of Transport - when that organisation (sensibly) suggested extending MOT's to every TWO years, the AA piped up that this 'could lead to more unsafe cars on the road'...
Er - who's side are they on..??

May 11, 2011 at 9:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid

Jim Brown, obviously the BC carbon tax worked marvel: Vancouver experienced one of the coldest if not THE coldest April on record (Seattle did!)! With a bit of luck, it'll get colder on July 1st when the gauging increases...

May 12, 2011 at 4:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterTomRude

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