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« HSI in Counterpunch | Main | Traces of Hockey Stick Illusion »

Embarrassed science - Josh 146

IPCC head man Rajendra Pachauri famously dismissed criticism of the Himalaya's supposedly rapid ice melt as "Voodoo science". I think it has come back to haunt him.


Cartoons by Josh


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Reader Comments (49)

Rajendra must have left the doll out in the cold!

Feb 9, 2012 at 6:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterMorley Sutter

Perhaps they should sack him and put him on the doll :)

Feb 9, 2012 at 6:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterRB

I'm sorry a trend from ten years is nothing. The trend in the ice is that it is melting so the melting rate continues if we use decadal averages.

I don't care that the glaciers haven't melted in ten years, or that the global temperature hasn't increased in ten years, or that the ocean heat content hasn't just doesn't matter.. the trend is upward...

....until it comes down.

Feb 9, 2012 at 6:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterSame Old

Bish, I think you have a surplus "t" in Pachauri. Pity it wasn't a "f".

Feb 9, 2012 at 7:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Same Old - sorry do have the English Language version of that?

Feb 9, 2012 at 7:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterRetired Dave

All it takes to create a voodoo doll is a prick.

How embarrassing for all concerned.

Feb 9, 2012 at 7:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac

Same Old - I don't see where Josh or anyone else mentioned a trend. All Josh did was repeat the phrase used by the Guardian headline.

Feb 9, 2012 at 7:33 PM | Unregistered Commenterlapogus

Dave, I reckon Same Old is being ironic.

Feb 9, 2012 at 7:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterJeff Wood

The only thing now in meltdown is the IPCC's authority. The important thing is to ensure that the IPCC now defend the indefensible and retain Pachauri. A discredited leader like Pachauri will do more damage to CAGW than a whole roomful of McIntyres, Watts and Bishops.

Feb 9, 2012 at 7:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac

Problem is that this is not true. They have lost 150 billion tonnes every year since 2003.

Feb 9, 2012 at 7:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterLazarus

Interesting how the information is presented at The Guardian, they couldn't look for more caveats:

The Himalayas and nearby peaks have lost no ice in past 10 years, study shows

The article has 16 paragraphs, barely 2 give the information, the other 14 are caveats and excuses about how, even so, we should keep very worried about sea level rise and ice melting.

P.S. I am plagiarizing myself from a comment left in Unthreaded.

PS II. Words from a friend glaciologist tell me that they seem to be quite shocked by the news
(the guardian, not the glaciologists)

Feb 9, 2012 at 8:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterPatagon

Hickman and the Ciffers are tying themselves in knots over this one.

The consensus seems to be a remarkable Damascene conversion to "well we never claimed we knew any different - let's just follow where the science leads".

This scientific purism will, of course, only last until the next spell of warm weather or breezyness - when it'll be back to "Doom! Doom! I tell you - we're all doomed!"

Feb 9, 2012 at 8:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterFoxgoose

Phillip thanks, fixed!

Feb 9, 2012 at 8:36 PM | Registered CommenterJosh

Interesting sideline to this; that might point to the rapidly increasing deflation of the AGW bubble - The DM online has an article on this topic, but unusually 'The comments below have been moderated in advance.', and a remarkable absence of the usual suspects.

Feb 9, 2012 at 8:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterSalopian

Good one, Josh! But perhaps Pachauri can take some consolation from:

Conclusive PROOF of human activity causing glacier to VANISH


Feb 9, 2012 at 9:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterHilary Ostrov


Problem is that this is not true. They have lost 150 billion tonnes every year since 2003.
The new paper gives the figure of 148 (+/-30) Gt/yr of loss from all glaciers/icecaps around the globe, excluding Greenland and Antarctica. [Scientific American's characterization of this as "non-polar ice" is inaccurate; Baffin Island and Ellesmere island, among others, are included.]

The "High Mountain Asia" region is reckoned to have lost 4 (+/-20) Gt/yr, the central value being only ~10% of previous estimates.

Feb 9, 2012 at 10:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterHaroldW

Lazarus, 160 billion tonnes .... something like 185,000 years to melt. And it has been melting for 20,000 years except for the LIA.

Considering we have only a few hundred or thousand years before the next ice age ... I'm not worried.

When it stops melting ... time to panic. Ice Age Time!

Feb 9, 2012 at 10:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterBruce

Actually I must correct my own post. I missed that the cartoon was specifically about the Hymalayas, which on average do appear to have gained about the same amount of ice as increased snow fall as they have lost at lower altitudes.

Feb 9, 2012 at 10:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterLazarus

Bruce this study confirms we are on track for significant sea level rise this century.

Feb 9, 2012 at 11:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterLazarus


When you quoted this:

"The "High Mountain Asia" region is reckoned to have lost 4 (+/-20) Gt/yr, the central value being only ~10% of previous estimates."

did you not laugh at the total lack of precision there? Is there any way this can be accurate?

Feb 9, 2012 at 11:05 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes


Somethings never change

This is what Brendan O Neall (The editor of Spiked) wrote in the Telegraph

One of the key mad beliefs behind witch-hunting in Europe between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries was the idea that these peculiar creatures had warped the weather, that they had caused "climate change". As the German historian Wolfgang Behringer argued in his 2004 book, Witches and Witch-Hunts: A Global History, "large-scale persecutions were clearly linked to years of extreme hardship and in particular the type of misery related to extreme climatic events". During the Little Ice Age, the period of unusual coldness that kicked off in the mid-1500s, there was an upsurge in witch-hunting. There was another outburst in 1628, described by historians as "the year without a summer", because once again people's crops failed as a result of very cold weather and they were desperate to find someone to blame – usually a cranky old woman who could be labelled a "witch".

As Behringer says, when the "climate stayed unfavourable or 'unnatural' the demand for persecutions persisted". That is, whenever there was extreme coldness the hunt would start for someone evil to hold responsible. Johann Weyer, the sixteenth-century physicist who publicly opposed witch-hunting, described how one woman was forced to confess to causing climate change. A "poor old woman was driven by torture to confess – as she was about to be offered to Vulcan's flames – that she had caused the incredible severity of the previous winter of 1565, and the extreme cold, and the lasting ice". That old dear was clearly a very early victim of mankind's climate-change hysteria.

Feb 9, 2012 at 11:49 PM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid


15 and 16 century where does that appear in relation to the Hockey Stick graph

Before or after George Stevenson and the invention of the steam engine or Thomas Benz and the invention of the motor car

Feb 10, 2012 at 12:19 AM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

Lazarus, when will this "significant sea level rise" start?

Feb 10, 2012 at 12:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterBruce

Bruce, If you are interested in the science, why ask me? Google is your friend and the science suggests there will be 1 meter by 2100. I'd say 'significant' somewhat before that.

Feb 10, 2012 at 1:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterLazarus

Ah Lazarus - that'll be "the settled science" presumably?

Feb 10, 2012 at 2:05 AM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

Lazarus, 1 meter is 1000mm. 10mm per year. Not one year in the last century has sea level risen more than 4mm. And the 4mm was only due to flagrant fiddling of the satellite data.

Feb 10, 2012 at 2:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterBruce


Precise recording of sea levels is extremely tricky and shifts in methodology undermine long term comparisons. TOPEX satellite data from NASA starts in 1993 and as you can see, there has been no acceleration in sea level rise whatsoever. In fact it has recently dropped below the straight trend line:

Feb 10, 2012 at 3:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterGixxerboy

@diogenes (Feb 9, 2012 at 11:05 PM) -
The figure of 4 (+/-20) Gt/yr for ice loss in the "High Mountain Asia" region may sound imprecise, but it's not as bad as it sounds. The Himalayan glaciers contain approx. 12,000 km^3 of ice, according to the redoubtable Wikipedia. [Unsourced, so doubtable in this instance.] 20 Gt comes to around 22 km^3, call it 1/500th of the volume. So even at the edge of the plausible range of loss, it's not as though there's any imminent threat.

The fact that the central value is much less than the uncertainty, which is what makes it look so odd, only means that one can't even make a claim about the sign of the trend with any confidence. There is essentially no mass change. According to this study, at least.

Feb 10, 2012 at 4:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterHaroldW

Have you seen Donald Trumps letter to the 'first minister'. To quote "You will single-handedly have done more damage to Scotland than virtually any event in Scottish history." re windmills, though I believe the latter term is an oxymorun, at least in so far as it is 'taught' now!

Feb 10, 2012 at 5:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterLewis Deane

Lazarus don't worry I know how this work , their due tomorrow and in 24 hours they will due tomorrow again , stick that in loop and you have the time scale for ‘climate doom’
Never wrong , but also ,and this really important , never testable right either .

Feb 10, 2012 at 11:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterKnR

Following on from Lazarus’s comment, the finding of ice melt per annum outside of Greenland and Antarctica of around 150 billion tonnes a year is a lot. Enough water to fill 60 million Olympic sized swimming pools (50x25x2metres) a year – or two a second! Are you really scared by the visibly rising waters?

Let me put this in context.

A billion tonnes of water is a cubic kilometre.
1 km = 1,000,000mm
So a billion tonnes of water (400,000 swimming pools) emptied into a sea of one million square kilometres would raise the water level by 1mm.
The area of the oceans is about 326.2 million km2. So the sixty million swimming pools of water will raise sea levels by a massive 0.46 mm. So 150,000,000,000 tonnes of melt water is, visually, as significant as a mere drop in the global oceans.

Feb 10, 2012 at 8:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterManicBeancounter

Any idea why a reply of mine has disappeared?

Feb 11, 2012 at 3:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterLazarus

When did you post it? I haven't really deleted anything today.

Feb 11, 2012 at 4:52 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

It is poor form to tout decadal data as defining a current trend when the physical data of years immediately previous says otherwise,

I have a duty to report that, camped overlooking the bergschrund of the Raikot glacier in August & September 1998, the margin of the ice both could be seen receding uphill, and measured to be doing so relative to the annual maximum markers. painted on its monolithic flanks.

Will the carnival of counterfactuals here never end? It's getting to be less cargo cult science than early Benny Hill.

Feb 13, 2012 at 1:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterRussell


How far do you want to go back? I'd suggest the end of the Little Ice Age but you way want to go all the way back the last 'proper' Ice Age.

Feb 13, 2012 at 5:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterGixxerboy

'way' SB 'may'. Dang :-[

Feb 13, 2012 at 5:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterGixxerboy

My taste in the matter becomes moot when , as at Concordia, or Hispar, north of Nanga Parbat centuries of dated moraine vegetation attest to long term recession

Feb 14, 2012 at 2:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterRussell


Centuries, you say? Those damn Yeti must have been driving around in Hummers pouring CO2 into the atmosphere. Oh, the Anthropology!

Feb 14, 2012 at 4:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterGixxerboy

Gix old thing, before writing another Disgusted Yeti in Tonbridge Wells comment , consider that even David Frum has recovered sufficiently from his days as a White House cliche writer to observe how:

"Backed by their own wing of the book-publishing industry and supported by think tanks that increasingly function as public-relations agencies, conservatives have built a whole alternative knowledge system, with its own facts, its own history, its own laws of economics…The... shift to ever more extreme, ever more fantasy-based ideology has ominous real-world consequences"

By the way, it was a Jeep with bald tires that gave way to an unexpectedly good horse.

Feb 14, 2012 at 4:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

Yes, Russell, and all funded by Big Oil

Feb 14, 2012 at 9:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterGixxerboy


If you're still watching, the latest ENVISAT sea level data make interesting reading (before they get, ahem, 'adjusted'). Sea levels have been falling since 2010 and the latest annual peak in level was the lowest on record (since 2004).

Wasn't the 'missing heat' ("it's a travesty!") supposed to be going into the oceans somehow? (Accompanied by handwaving about deep down-welling managing to escape detection by the entire ARGO network.)

This really is very inconvenient for the 'settled science' of climate change. Nearly all the doom-casting of rising sea levels was predicated on thermal expansion of the oceans (rather than meltwater.)

Tsk, tsk.

Feb 15, 2012 at 5:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterGixxerboy

"If you're still watching, the latest ENVISAT sea level data make interesting reading (before they get, ahem, 'adjusted'). Sea levels have been falling since 2010 and the latest annual peak in level was the lowest on record (since 2004)."

Feb 16, 2012 at 12:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterLazarus


I think OldOne, the first commenter on your blog, called you bang to rights on that one. I really hope people go to the page you posted above because your attempt to twist the very obvious observations of the ENVISAT data makes you look utterly deluded.

Keep taking the medication old fruit.

Feb 16, 2012 at 5:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterGixxerboy

Of course you think he is right because he is telling you what you want to hear. So you will ignore long trends, annual averages and accept an assertion for someone without any relevant qualifications based on 0.6% of the entire data set. Good job.

Feb 16, 2012 at 10:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterLazarus


No-one will take you seriously because your English is abysmal. Not just in your comments (witness "an assertion for someone" above) but on the landing page of your blog. Have a good look at it. What's wrong? Have you found it yet?

You are clearly one or all of the following:

- The product of recent and increasing educational laxity
- Not very bright
- Lazy and sloppy, unable or unwilling to apply any kind of rigour to your thinking or expression

If you want to make blogs like the good BIshop's look marvelous, do carry on with the blogging and commenting.

If you want your efforts to have some effect, I'd suggest a course in remedial English. You might find it quite hard.

Feb 16, 2012 at 11:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterGixxerboy

When the best thing people can find to criticise is typos and resort to Ad Hom you know you have won and they are only fit to ignore.

Feb 16, 2012 at 11:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterLazarus


It was not Ad Hom. It was Pro Bono. And you seem no stranger to ignorance. Do continue.

If, on the other hand, you could possibly explain how you tortured an upward trend out of the cyclical ENVISAT data, I'd love to see how. Here's the raw data:

Feb 16, 2012 at 12:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterGixxerboy


BTW, the purpose here is not to 'win' as you see it. The purpose is to expand one's understanding and be open to learning. If you want to 'win', stick to gaming. If you want to learn, observe. The data will tell us what is happening.

The 'wanting to win', from a preconceived position, is a large part of what is wrong with 'climate science' as we know it. Rather than stick desperate upticks on data, hoping to show warming or sea level rises or whatever, look at it critically: does it tell us something?

Sea levels, SATs, SSTs have flatlined for up to 15 years. This may not fit your preconceptions (it certainly does not fit any model predictions) but what could these data be saying?

It's not enough to retreat into defensive cliches like "only 30 years is a trend", or "there's warming in the pipeline", or "you're cherry-picking the start point". Everyone cherry picks time series; 30-year passes can show the same warming as the end of C20th, and any notion of 'missing heat' in the deep oceans (always intensely speculative) looks dubious with concurrent data on sea levels.

Is it too much to ask that you review the flow of data with an open mind?

Feb 16, 2012 at 12:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterGixxerboy

'It was not Ad Hom.'

Well it wasn't me who questioned a posters intelligence, work ethic etc while willing to believe in the assertions of an unqualified person based on two data points. So if the 'purpose is to expand one's understanding and be open to learning' we can consider that an abject failure.

Feb 18, 2012 at 11:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterLazarus

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