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« Zeke on climate sensitivity | Main | Don Keiller on plants and carbon dioxide »
Tuesday
Mar192013

Avoid like the plague

Sir John Beddington's speech to the AVOID symposium is quite interesting. He takes a pop at GWPF's Lord Turnbull, in particular with what he says is a claim that temperatures haven't gone up for a decade. Beddington seeks to refute this claim with a graph of decadal averages temperatures.

How one would know what has happened to temperatures in the last decade from a figure for the average temperature over 2001-2010 is anybody's guess. This is probably a form of mathematics to which only the Government Chief Scientific Adviser is privy.

The arguments over sea ice are more interesting. I see the decline in Arctic sea ice and, like Lord Turnbull, am surprised that the extent seems to return to normal over the winter. One would have thought that since the poles are warming as rapidly as we are told, the winter ice recovery would be less each year. I should also mention that I always view discussion of the Arctic without mention of the Antarctic as fairly naked cherrypicking. As we know, the IPCC says Antarctic ice should be in decline too.

 

 

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Reader Comments (71)

Skiphil

The Mississippi floods are well entrenched in folklore.

Here's John Lee Hooker on rain.

And Johnny Cash for those who like both types of music.

Mar 20, 2013 at 5:48 AM | Registered CommenterHector Pascal

james griffin: "does Beddington actually believe the nonsense?.....I think he probably does."

Always pray that your opposition be wicked. In wickedness there is a strong strain towards rationality ... If good intentions are combined with stupidity, it is impossible to outthink them.

- Marion J. Levi Jr
(Nine Laws of the Disillusionment of the True Liberal, 1970)

Mar 20, 2013 at 6:23 AM | Registered CommenterRobin Guenier

According to http://stevengoddard.wordpress.com/ strong winds can break up Arctic ice, so a reduction in area of Arctic ice is not necessarily a sign of warming.

Mar 20, 2013 at 7:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterJeremy Shiers

When the Levee Breaks

Was originally recorded by Kansas Joe McCoy and Memphis Minnie.Originally a Blues number recounting the infamous 1927 Mississippi floods.

It was famously reworked by Led Zeppelin when Jon Bonham " Bonzo " set up his drum kit at the bottom of the stair well by the fire escape The acoustics there was the only way they could archive the Distinctive Muffled Echo Effect .


Kansas Joe McCoy and Memphis Minnie.

Mar 20, 2013 at 8:07 AM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

"AVOID is a research programme that provides key advice to the UK Government on avoiding dangerous climate change brought on by greenhouse gas emissions."

AVOID seems to be a branch of the Met Office propaganda generating machine, with some of the propaganda generation outsourced and all funded by DECC so far as I can see [ie paid for by by you and me].

http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/avoid/avoid-team/jason-lowe

Mar 20, 2013 at 8:12 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Being one of those saloon bar pundits, I would have thought it wasn't a bad idea to have regard to what's under your nose as well as elegant models. I watched BBC's The Challenger depicting Richard Feynman, and apart from the usual political baggage that comes with all their drama nowadays, the most telling incident is when Feynman puts the o-ring into a glass of ice water and demonstrates that it loses its elasticity. Common sense, you know.

Incidentally, do I detect a rather unpleasant strain that the real problem that Beddington wants addressed is all those foreigners breeding and wanting energy. They must be stopped.

Mar 20, 2013 at 8:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterMike Fowle

"Incidentally, do I detect a rather unpleasant strain that the real problem that Beddington wants addressed is all those foreigners breeding and wanting energy. They must be stopped"

Indeed, thats one strand is the decarbonisation rationale: the other two are geopolitics and peak oil. Climate science is just a prop for a decided-on policy, as is helpful Euro-greenery (directives about renewables, closing coal-fired power stations etc. It falls to the Civil Service to make guesses about the future, in 15-40 year time frames and, lets say in the mid 1990s, they made their guess and, considering the issues above, decided decarbonisation was the way to go. My guess is their guess is wrong. They assumed the geopolitical situation would remain as it was; they didn;t allow enough for 'something might turn up' - and look what has - shale, developements in reservoir technology, drilling technology, clean coal, among others; they overestimated the risk (to us) of population growth; and placed too much emphasis on Peak Oil - which still hasn't shown much sign of even beginning to come to the party. So, their policy, based on best guesses of 20 years ago, looks like it might be wrong. Where do they go now? In all this, its worth reiterating that 'science' is just a support for policy, not of itself a driver of policy (however much a certain P Jones might like to kid himself - is national policy really going to be determined by the witterings of a second rate academic at a third rate university?).

Mar 20, 2013 at 9:15 AM | Unregistered Commenterbill

Bish: Sea ice extent in the Arctic is likely to always return to "normal" after an unusually large summer melt as seen in 2012 and 2007. To understand why, you need to look at maps of sea ice extent, not just graphs.

During the summer, the Arctic Ocean stores radiant energy from the sun as warmer water once the local sea ice has melted. When the sun drops near and below the horizon in late fall, the Arctic Ocean no longer receives appreciable energy from the sun and the water will cool until it freezes. In 2012, essentially all of the water that normally freezes inside the Arctic Basin had frozen by about November 13, about a month later than during the 1980's. (See http://igloo.atmos.uiuc.edu/cgi-bin/test/print.sh?fm=11&fd=13&fy=2012&sm=10&sd=20&sy=1988) So the additional energy absorbed by ice-free water during 2012 delayed refreezing about a month. Once the Arctic Ocean is frozen from shore to shore, the extent of sea ice inside the Arctic Basin doesn't increase (except near Svalbard and Western Russia, where warm currents from the Atlantic prevent freezing to about 80 degN), but the thickness of the ice does increase. However, the thicker the ice is, the harder it is for heat to diffuse from the -2 degC ocean through the ice to the much colder atmosphere. (The air at the North Pole averages -40 degC in winter.) So the thickness of the NEW sea ice in the Arctic Basin in the winter of 2012-13 will catch up to the thickness of NEW sea ice in previous years. (The multi-year sea ice, of course, is gone "forever" once it melts and can only be restored by less melting in the late summer.) So there is a strong tendency to restore "normal" first-year sea ice inside the Arctic Basin after summers with extensive melting.

The situation is different outside the Arctic Basin. After mid-November, almost all of the increase in sea ice extent takes place outside the Arctic Basin, in places such as the Bering Sea, Hudson's Bay, north of Scandinavia, and west of Greenland. These locations are often thousand of kilometers from the areas that do or don't melt inside the Arctic Basin in late summer. The extensive melting in August and September 2012 in the central Arctic Basin isn't going to have any impact on the extent of freezing OUTSIDE of the Arctic Basin in the WINTER of 2012-2013. (Remember, the bulk of the Arctic Basin was frozen by the middle of FALL.

So the winter sea ice maximum has almost no direct connection with the summer sea ice minimum that occurred the previous September. These events are occurring thousand of kilometers apart physically and are separated by a quarter to half-year in time. Both the minimum and maximum have gone down in the first decade of the 21st century, but they are going down because of "global" warming, not the local warming in the central Arctic associated with low minima like 2012 and 2007.

Mar 20, 2013 at 9:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterFrank

Thanks for that jamspid

When the Levee Breaks

That will never do. It's apocryphal evidence, therefore it never happened. History only happened when there was a RealClimateScientist TM there to record it.

Mar 20, 2013 at 10:21 AM | Registered CommenterHector Pascal

Their last chart will have only three data points - "pre-Earth" is the starting point, then the averages for the last 10 ice ages with the final point being the temperature outisde Jone's office at UEA. Be a great hockey stick.

Mar 20, 2013 at 11:14 AM | Unregistered Commentercedarhill

"He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts... for support rather than illumination." - Andrew Lang (1844-1912)·

Mar 20, 2013 at 11:35 AM | Registered Commenterretireddave

Depressing isn't it - the level of 'expertise' that secures govt. funding and plaudits.

Some further background on Beddington -

A major supporter of UN/EU policies he has rather hypocritically managed to make a tidy sum out of some lucrative government contracts -

"In his role as a £165,000-a-year senior civil servant, Prof.Beddington has warned of the dangers of overfishing the oceans. However, a new report claims that commercial fishing managed by his company in the Chagos archipelago is “almost certainly having detrimental effects on the ecosystem”. "

"THE government’s chief scientist and his wife have made £500,000 in the past year in a company overseeing commercial fishing that allegedly threatens one of the world’s most pristine marine environments.

Professor John Beddington and his wife, Caroline, are joint shareholders in Marine Resources Assessment Group (MRAG), a London-based consultancy that manages fisheries and provides specialist advice around the world.

Conservationists claim that a fishery managed by the company in British territorial waters in the Indian Ocean has been catching threatened species including blue sharks and manta rays. It is estimated that between 2003 and 2008 more than 120,000 were caught as “bycatch” from commercial tuna fishing.

...MRAG, which has won at least three contracts from the British government in the past two years, is a profitable venture for Prof.Beddington, who was appointed the chief scientific adviser in January 2008. Last year, the company recorded profits and shareholder funds of £708,000 — up from £184,000 in 2008.

Shareholder funds, which can be shared between Prof.Beddington and his wife, rose by more than £523,000. Although Prof.Beddington receives no remuneration from the company, he and his wife are the sole shareholders.

http://www.fish2fork.com/en-GB/news-index/money-from-chagos-fishery.aspx

Mar 20, 2013 at 1:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterMarion

Am I alone in finding it amusing that Sir John's water bottle on his desk is carbonated?

JF

Mar 20, 2013 at 2:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterJulian Flood

On one level the reference to saloon bar pundits or whatever may be valid, but Beddington must realise that nobody experiences an average global temperature. What we have to live with is the weather and the reality is that we find it galling, Sir John, to be told that we have to pay considerably more for our energy to combat global warming when it is f*cking freezing outside. And the last few winters have shown no signs of the elusive global warming that you have promised us, Sir John. And, Sir John, contrary to what you have been told there has been no warming for 15 years.

Wish Tim Worstall was here. He would tell us what you are, Sir.

Mar 20, 2013 at 3:50 PM | Unregistered CommenternTropywins

One of the most revealing comments is how he immediately contacted the Met Office when they appeared to be saying something out of turn. That's the proper science he signed up to. No independent thinking allowed.

Mar 20, 2013 at 4:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Fowle

Depressing isn't it - the level of 'expertise' that secures so much govt funding and plaudits!

Some background on Beddington -

An enthusiastic proponent of UN/EU policies -

On fishing

"In his role as a £165,000-a-year senior civil servant, Beddington has warned of the dangers of overfishing the oceans. However, a new report claims that commercial fishing managed by his company in the Chagos archipelago is “almost certainly having detrimental effects on the ecosystem”. "

"THE government’s chief scientist and his wife have made £500,000 in the past year in a company overseeing commercial fishing that allegedly threatens one of the world’s most pristine marine environments.

Professor John Beddington and his wife, Caroline, are joint shareholders in Marine Resources Assessment Group (MRAG), a London-based consultancy that manages fisheries and provides specialist advice around the world.

Conservationists claim that a fishery managed by the company in British territorial waters in the Indian Ocean has been catching threatened species including blue sharks and manta rays. It is estimated that between 2003 and 2008 more than 120,000 were caught as “bycatch” from commercial tuna fishing."

"MRAG, which has won at least three contracts from the British government in the past two years, is a profitable venture for Prof.Beddington, who was appointed the chief scientific adviser in January 2008. Last year, the company recorded profits and shareholder funds of £708,000 — up from £184,000 in 2008.

Shareholder funds, which can be shared between Prof.Beddington and his wife, rose by more than £523,000. Although Prof.Beddington receives no remuneration from the company, he and his wife are the sole shareholders"

http://www.fish2fork.com/en-GB/news-index/money-from-chagos-fishery.aspx

Mar 20, 2013 at 10:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterMarion

Arctic sea ice is melting at unprecedented rate during summer. It freezes again during winter, returning to its 'normal' quantity. But then again, it is winter in a region whose most prominent feature is sub zero temperatures (it is the Arctic after all). So why is this a surprise to anyone?!! - Fact that ice level returns to normal in winter is not at all relevant to discussion on damage being caused globally by melting summer sea ice. If anyone wants further information on this, or the equally implausible suggestion that earth's temperature has not increased at all during the last decade, have a look at this site which gives up to date scientific data (written by scientists who've spent their entire careers looking at climate science) on issue of melting arctic sea ice and debunks various other climate change myths which continue to be promoted on sites like Bishop Hill - www.skepticalscience.com

Mar 21, 2013 at 12:30 PM | Unregistered Commenterleedsjon1

A picture of the 2013 Arctic ice, close to the 2013 maximum.

http://neven1.typepad.com/blog/2013/03/crack-is-bad-for-you-and-sea-ice.html#more

Mar 21, 2013 at 5:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

leedsjon1, you are making a bit of a fool of yourself by imagining that people here are unaware of the SkS site. You need to be a bit less gullible and do a bit more reading. Start with the Hockey Stick Illusion.

Entropic man, interesting link, but I wonder how many of these interesting observations (including the recent low summer extents) are just things we couldn't see before we had satellites.

Mar 21, 2013 at 6:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterSJF

SJF: - My apologies if I have posted sites you are already aware of. It's not often I have visited this site (was actually following a tweet which found its way into my inbox this morning) and, judging by the comments posted here, I simply assumed people may not have been aware of other sites which summarise the scientific evidence which underlies climate change much more succintly than I can - such as SkS. Now that you tell me you are aware of it, I'm even more astonished that people are saying the things they are on this site. As for being gullible and doing more reading? Well, since the first big climate change conference in Copenhagen put all of this into the mainstream, I've done quite a lot of reading into this. The Hockey Stick 'Illusion'? - that would be the infamous graph paraded round the world by legions of sceptics intent on trying to discredit global climate change mitigation efforts via the Climategate 'scandal' - only to have these attempts themselves largely discredited as worthless by almost every single climate change scientist working in the world just a matter of weeks later wouldn't it? Perhaps you are the one being gullible who needs to do a little bit more reading. Climate change is a very real and present problem at the moment as most scientists who have ever done any proper work on this will tell you. The continuing efforts of people like you to discredit all of this do not do either yourself or anyone else any favours. Maybe its you who needs to take a bit of a reality check here - ditch the conspiracy theories which most reputable scientists have and address your efforts to the real problem here.

Mar 21, 2013 at 10:55 PM | Unregistered Commenterleedsjon1

You can lead a horse to water...

Mar 22, 2013 at 8:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterSJF

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