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« Academic takedown | Main | Kickoff at Airth »
Tuesday
Mar182014

Walport's presentation

Mark Walport's staff have kindly made available the slides he used in Glasgow. They can be seen here.

As I have suggested previously, the talk was a recitation of the standard case for alarm, but there were many aspects of it that piqued my interest. For example, I noted that while warming up to the first slide he spoke about energy security first, before moving on to climate. Later on in the talk he spoke of the three lenses through which the climate problem had to be viewed and the first of these was again energy security. Is this a new tack? Are backsides starting to be covered? Perhaps.

Throughout the talk, I came away with the feeling that I was being sold something rather than being informed about the realities of climate science. With the climate records so noisy (see below), detection of significant changes is very hard and the predictions of temperature rise and sea-level rise and weather extremes and all the rest of it are therefore based almost entirely on GCMs. Yet where was this fact related to the audience and where was the discussion of the reliability of the models? Talking of an inability to predict the future with "perfect precision" (I think these were the words used) didn't do it for me.

This is the dilemma for the chief scientist. If the hypothesis of catastrophic global warming holds up it's a big deal. CSAs therefore want to push the public into getting behind the policy responses. But the public are not stupid and they know that they are not hearing the story warts and all and until they do they will harbour doubts. But if they are told the truth warts and all they are hardly going to be convinced that there is a cast-iron case. So we get a sales pitch and much crossing of the fingers and the problems with the models are pushed under the carpet.

A few comments on individual slides follow.

The climate science stuff begins at slide 13, with the standard HadCRUt4 graph and its decadal averages. The slide is entitled "Warming of the climate is unequivocal". To my mind this title falls into the category of "true but misleading". Yes the planet has warmed, but almost anyone seeing this slide might assume that we have therefore detected anthropogenic global warming. Since it seems that both sceptics and mainstream scientists seem to agree that the warming to date is indistinguishable from natural variability I think a balanced view on the science would incorporate this observation.

Slide 14 suggested that observations of the climate system are all telling the same story - surface temperatures up, ocean heat up, sea levels up, glaciers down, snow cover down and, erm, sea ice down. Readers here don't need to be told that the last of these is not true, and it must be doubtful whether it is possible to demonstrate a statistically significant change in the others. The question of what meaning can be attached to a group of statistically insignificant trends is an interesting one that I hope Doug Keenan is going to write about for me.

Slide 15, on ocean heat content is interesting, showing a clear pause in the rise at around 2005. I was struck by the comparison with slide 19, which shows no such pause.

Slide 24 says that dry regions of the Earth are going to get drier and wet regions are going to get wetter. It's interesting to compare this statement to the IPCC Summary for Policymakers (Fig SPM.8), which suggests that by the end of the century, many dry regions will have become much wetter - in particular Australia and the Sahara. At the end of the day though, we should observe that the ability of climate models to predict precipitation is even worse than their ability to predict temperature changes. In terms of the government chief scientist informing the public rather than selling them something, it would be fairer to say "we have no idea what effect a rise in global temperature would have on rainfall".

Left: RCP2.6; Right: RCP8.5Slide 28 says we will see more damaging weather extremes. Climate models for years have said we are going to see increases in numbers and intensity of hurricanes, predictions that were closely followed by a drought in hurricane activity. This being the case, I would say it is incumbent on the chief scientist to express a little bit of doubt about such predictions. This again is sales pitch rather than dispassionate analysis.

Slide 34 reproduces AR5's Figure SPM.10, but leaves out the all-important caption that shows that the "historical" figures are not actually observations but a model hindcast. This was discussed in a comment thread at BH last year and, as Clive Best has observed you get a rather different story if you include the real observations.

 

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Reader Comments (67)

Once again: do not lump together Arctic and Antarctic sea ice cover, it is meaningless to do so. How many times have I, in good faith, said this?

They are different systems, they will react differently to climate change. Look at them separately.

Doug

Mar 18, 2014 at 10:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterDoug McNeall

Second, warming to date *is* distinguishible from natural variability, to a very high degree of confindence. Just have a look in the "detection and attribution" chapter of the IPCC AR5.

Mar 18, 2014 at 11:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterDoug McNeall

Doug, I know you may not have time on your hands but the above is not useful. I would categorically say warming to day is not distinguishable from natural variability. See Judith Curry.

Mar 18, 2014 at 11:04 AM | Registered Commentershub

Third, since when do hurricanes account for all extreme weather?

Also, where are these strong predictions about an increase in frequency - in my understanding there has been an interesting and subtle scientific argument about the interactions between hurricane strength and warming for years now.

Mar 18, 2014 at 11:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterDoug McNeall

The Walport slides don't even mention Antarctic sea ice (only Arctic sea ice, Antarctic ice sheet on slide 17). That's misleading cherry-picking.

Also I notice that on slide 10 it says "Unequivocal anthropogenic warming". Hmm.

The claim on slide 22 that "scientists have increasing confidence in extremes" is false. AR5 Table SPM1 shows that confidence has DECREASED regarding droughts, floods and tropical cyclones.

Mar 18, 2014 at 11:09 AM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

"you get a rather different story if you include the real observations"

Only real scientists use real observations, so that excludes government advisers and climate "scientists".

Mar 18, 2014 at 11:09 AM | Unregistered CommenterCharmingQuark

WTF are scientists doing lecturing or advising on issues such as "energy security"?

Do the science.

Communicate the science.


Leave the rest alone. It is beyond your paygrade.

Mar 18, 2014 at 11:09 AM | Unregistered CommenterGeckko

Doug,

the problem is that slide 14 states that sea ice area is down and does not separate out Arctic and Antarctic trends. The Bish is simply making the observation that in a global context (as implied by slide 14) this is wrong. perhaps you should send your comment directly to Mark Walport.

Mar 18, 2014 at 11:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterPaul Dennis

Doug

I think we understand each other. It's only distinguishable on the basis of climate models, which may or may not be valid representations of the climate system. The public need to understand that we can't see anything out of the ordinary in the observational record as yet and you as a public servant need to be proactive in telling them so.

Mar 18, 2014 at 11:10 AM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

Doug

Re hurricanes, if you are right then my point remains valid. Where is this debate reflected in Walport's statement about what will happen?

Mar 18, 2014 at 11:12 AM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

Doug

Re sea ice, you keep telling me that I shouldn't lump them together and I keep telling you that I fail to see why. They are both supposed to be melting, no matter what the differences. Does your criticism extend to Prof Walport, who has also lumped them in together?

Mar 18, 2014 at 11:13 AM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

Well, it is only the slide. We don't know what Walport said.

The climatic importance of Arctic ice is supposed to be in protecting a low-albedo surface, i.e., the ocean, from getting heated up. But Arctic ice reaches its minimum in September when the sun is low on the horizon. In other words, the differential heat amount between low Sept ice and 'normal Sept' ice is small and therefore likely important only in the longest of timescales. Secondively, there are no explanations forthcoming on whether Arctic ice could melt from non-atmosphere mediated causes. I.e, is it a part of naturally varying systems on its own?

Antarctic sea ice has dramatically increased and occupies higher latitudes than the Arctic. Aren't the oceans in these regions covered up with the high-albedo stuff? Where is the heat loss calculations for this? (I'm sure the climate scientists must have estimated it, it just doesn't seem to be talked about too much).

Mar 18, 2014 at 11:24 AM | Registered Commentershub

Hi Andrew,

I think that this might be the point where you have to meet me halfway. There *are* scientific unknowns out there, and explaining the exact behaviour in Antarctic sea ice is one of them, to my knowledge. However, there are very good physics-based reasons that these two systems shouldn't be lumped together.

Rather than me spending all my time trying to tell you that you're on a hiding to nothing with the sea ice thing, it would be great if I'd earned your trust enough that you would go and do some reading about the different systems.

I'm all for criticising climate models, but you need to *do it fairly*, otherwise you're just throwing away really useful information.

Mar 18, 2014 at 11:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterDoug McNeall

Hockey-sticks ahoy!

Slide 12 (from the government office for science, apparently) is not even an egregious temperature hockey-stick. It is an egregious carbon-dioxide hockey stick, made from egregious predictions welded onto what looks like ice core-data going back 800k years.
Love those models. Love those hockey-sticks.

Mar 18, 2014 at 11:32 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Doug

My original point was a rebuttal of an error made by Mark Walport. He said sea ice had decreased. It hasn't. Your rejoinder should have been:

"Yes Walport is wrong and he shouldn't have been lumping the two poles together anyway" *

rather than criticising me for addressing Walport's point on its own terms.
------------------------------------
*or perhaps: "Yes Walport is wrong and WTF is the chief scientist doing lumping the poles together?" ;-)

Mar 18, 2014 at 11:36 AM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

Andrew,

I don't know what the chief scientist said, I can only see the slides.

It seems perfectly reasonable to show a "cartoon" from the IPCC AR5 when talking about the system in general, followed by more detail three slides later (slide 17), when talking about the cryosphere.

Mar 18, 2014 at 11:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterDoug McNeall

Bishop,

Doug

Re sea ice, you keep telling me that I shouldn't lump them together and I keep telling you that I fail to see why.


It's my view that if someone tells you not to do something but can't give a sensible reason why then they don't know why either.

It's like Doug's other two posts not giving alternatives. Sounds like trust me I'm a doctor to me.

Mar 18, 2014 at 11:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

The models significantly underestimate Arctic summer ice loss. They don't have the mechanism that produces ice loss worked out right.

Mar 18, 2014 at 11:44 AM | Registered Commentershub

Do you really think Doug that it's "perfectly reasonable" to show Arctic sea ice and Antarctic ice sheets without mentioning Antarctic sea ice? Even if, by some twisted fool-yourself logic you think that it is, you ought to be able to see that it's a poor tactic because it sets yourself up for criticism.

Mar 18, 2014 at 11:45 AM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

Doug
Even if we agree with you about Arctic sea ice (and I think when you say 'we don't know what Walport said, we only have the slide' you're wriggling a bit!) there is no mention of the fact that the behaviour of the Arctic ice is based on satellite records since 1979. Correct me if I'm wrong on that.
Neither is there any mention of the other (known and accepted) non-temperature reasons for the decline.
Meeting halfway is fine but it's got to be halfway.

Mar 18, 2014 at 11:53 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Slide 18

"Has global warming stopped?"
It's not unusual to have periods of little or no warming, other such periods can be seen in the instrumental record."

Too right, you can, "in the instrumental record", i.e. the data from the real world. But not usually in the models, that is the point.

Mendacious duplicity at it's worst.

Mar 18, 2014 at 12:01 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

The Cryologists at the University of Illinois lump them together: Global Sea Ice extent

And snow cover is increasing rather than decreasing - these graphs are for the NH but as there is very little land under snow in the SH (aside from Antarctica which is snow covered all year) I would suggest they are effectively a global metric:

http://climate.rutgers.edu/snowcover/chart_anom.php?ui_set=1&ui_region=nhland&ui_month=12

http://www.climate4you.com/images/NHemisphereSnowCoverSince1972.gif
(Source page - http://www.climate4you.com/SnowCover.htm#Recent%20northern%20hemisphere%20snow%20coverhttp://moe.met.fsu.edu/snow/

[Updated to correct "snow cover is decreasing rather than increasing" to "snow cover is increasing rather than decreasing"].

Mar 18, 2014 at 12:10 PM | Registered Commenterlapogus

Second, warming to date *is* distinguishible from natural variability, to a very high degree of confindence. Just have a look in the "detection and attribution" chapter of the IPCC AR5.

Mar 18, 2014 at 11:01 AM | Doug McNeall
================================================

Yes, but we know that the IPCC will fudge as necessary to make things seem worse than they are. Don't we?

Mar 18, 2014 at 12:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterJeremy Poynton

Lapogus

Indeed - the point that Cryosphere Today lump them together had just occurred to me too.

Mar 18, 2014 at 12:30 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

What a fine thread already.

As far as this part is concerned:

As I have suggested previously, the talk was a recitation of the standard case for alarm, but there were many aspects of it that piqued my interest. For example, I noted that while warming up to the first slide he spoke about energy security first, before moving on to climate. Later on in the talk he spoke of the three lenses through which the climate problem had to be viewed and the first of these was again energy security. Is this a new tack? Are backsides starting to be covered?

I'm sure backsides are being covered as we speak but this was not the moment it began, not if my memory serves me correctly.

When I first heard Walport interviewed after he was made CSA (on Radio 4 I'm pretty certain) I was struck by his emphasis on energy security plus the natural desire, from public and policy makers alike, for energy to be cheap. Of course he also made clear he thought climate 'verities' had to be factored in as well, and because I don't think they are verities, anything like, I'm very dubious about that part. But in that moment I thought I detected a change of emphasis, which fitted in with a number of positive vibes I got when I met the man in person the previous summer.

Unfortunately I don't have the reference for that conversation. (BH took stock of Walport's appointment on 2nd July 2012 with not everyone being uniformly negative. This wasn't long afterwards IIRC. Maybe even the next day. Calling Alex Cull?)

Mar 18, 2014 at 12:54 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

I think you remember correctly, Richard. I recall him making comments about how important it was to keep the lights on.

Mar 18, 2014 at 12:59 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

… detection of significant changes is very hard and the predictions of temperature rise and sea-level rise and weather extremes and all the rest of it are therefore based almost entirely on GCMs. Yet where was this fact related to the audience and where was the discussion of the reliability of the models?

This is the key point in global-warming science. And I strongly agree with His Eminence that without a good answer to that question, the people—and the government—are not being informed, but rather are being sold something.

About Arctic (sea) ice, the decline in extent has not been found to be statistically significant. In other words, the decline might well be due to expected natural/random variation.

The Met Office was twice asked to assess whether the decline in Arctic sea ice was significant. See Parliamentary Questions 158206 and 161269, which were tabled by the Rt.Hon. Peter Lilley. The Met Office refused to answer both Questions, even saying “we have not made any such assessment nor do we plan to commission any”. Obviously, the Met Office would not do that if they could demonstrate that the decline was significant. Doug McNeall, you should know this!

@ Mike Jackson, Mar 18, 11:53 AM
Reliable records of Arctic sea ice extent go back to 1953. See Meier et al. (2012), “A simple approach to providing a more consistent Arctic sea ice extent time series from the 1950s to present”, The Cryosphere, 6: 1359–1368; doi:10.5194/tc-6-1359-2012.

Mar 18, 2014 at 1:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterDouglas J. Keenan

Second, warming to date *is* distinguishible from natural variability, to a very high degree of confindence. Just have a look in the "detection and attribution" chapter of the IPCC AR5. Mar 18, 2014 at 11:01 AM | Doug McNeall

Doug, with respect, the late 20th Century warming warm is nothing unusual or unprecedented. Just look at some good long term instrumental datasets, which suggest nothing other than a continual slow recovery from the LIA:

NikfromNY's graph

The GISP ice core proxies also provide some much needed climate context and suggest there is feck all to worry about from a little extra CO2, e.g.: Lappi / Alley GISP ice core graph (with Hadcru4 gl roughly appended). Indeed, some extra CO2 is very probably a very good thing.

"What if climate change appears to be just mainly a multidecadal natural fluctuation? They'll kill us probably..." Tommy Wils, climategate1 email, (2007) ClimateGate email 1682 - http://di2.nu/foia/foia2011/mail/1682.txt

Mar 18, 2014 at 1:10 PM | Registered Commenterlapogus

Thanks, Douglas!!

Mar 18, 2014 at 1:16 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

michael: Yes, it's amazing to recall how radical that sounded!

Mar 18, 2014 at 1:19 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Up on the top left of the screen is a link to a Briggs' post about Torcello's excursion into the gutter, a post which includes this memorable chunk:

... I have spent years investigating not only the skilfulness of climate models (none, outside a few months ahead) but also the myriad papers which purport to show the evils which await us when global warming finally strikes. These papers, if the authors were to go back and assiduously rework them, might reach the standard of horrible. As it is, they are garbage. Bandwagon, confirmation-bias confirming, intellectually bereft, gimme-a-grant garbage.

Now I daresay Government Chief Scientific Advisor Walport hopes the briefings which he receives are based on decent papers which show 'the evils which await us when global warming finally strikes', but I wonder if he has the faintest notion of the contempt with which informed observers such as Briggs view them.

I wonder if our GCSA has even heard of the NIPCC report 'Climate Change Reconsidered II' . It describes their worthy efforts to put together a 'Red Team' view and details the scientific evidence for their conclusion that:

Although the IPCC claims to be unbiased and to have based its assessment on the best available science, we have found this not to be the case. In many instances conclusions have been seriously exaggerated, relevant facts have been distorted, and key scientific studies have been ignored.

The position for which he is perforce a mouthpiece is not one which I would care to defend, let alone promote. When we get a CSA able and willing to take a critical view of climate science rather than merely adopt the 'establishment' view, I will rejoice a little. The 'establishment', of course, will have to change first.

Mar 18, 2014 at 1:21 PM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

lapogus 1:10 PM

Your graph from 'NikfromNY shows the exceptional cold year 1740

Here are some interesting further articles on that freakish cold and the hardships it brought

http://www.londononline.co.uk/history/thames/5/

http://unchartedterritory.wordpress.com/2010/03/06/1740-and-all-that/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irish_Famine_(1740%E2%80%931741)

http://www.netweather.tv/index.cgi?action=famous-winters

One of the trickiest things for warmist messaging is to reverse the obvious polarity of warming vs cooling benefits/hardships. Reality is the precise reverse of the manufactured climate message, which of course prefers to abandon the label climate optimums for historical warming periods. To say nothing of past efforts to try and wipe them from existence, or failing that, trivialise them.

Mar 18, 2014 at 1:59 PM | Registered CommenterPharos

When people like Walport talk about energy security, they're trying to kid us that renewables will offer it. It's part of the plan to talk to right wing audiences about issues that concern them. Expect mentions of Russian gas and Middle East oil.

Mar 18, 2014 at 2:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Second, warming to date *is* distinguishible from natural variability, to a very high degree of confindence. Just have a look in the "detection and attribution" chapter of the IPCC AR5.

Mar 18, 2014 at 11:01 AM | Doug McNeall

More salesmanship. The world has been warmer and it's been cooler, ergo we're within natural variability. This 'product' was sold originally on the basis of a mythical future tipping point. The salesforce seems to have become over-excited, trying to sell a product that isn't ready yet.

Mar 18, 2014 at 2:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterOld Forge

Doug: "warming to date *is* distinguishible from natural variability"

Warming is supposed to be faster due to the increase in CO2. Yet, according to HADCRUT4 it has warmed as fast or faster in the past.

As an example, the fastest 120 month (10 year) warming was:

Dec 1973 to Nov 1983 with a trend of 0.414C/Decade


And if the IPCC prediction of .2C/decade is a predictor of CO2 warming, there are numerous long periods of .2C warming in the past such as

18 Years Nov 1927 to Oct 1945 0.203/Decade

Of course, it is no longer warming at all ...

Mar 18, 2014 at 2:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterBruce

The trouble is the greens see energy insecurity as an opportunity, there worse nightmare is actual cheap easily available energy even if it’s clean. Because they know full well that would kill stone dead any chance of going back to some ‘rural ideal’ they seem to think existed before the industrial revolution. Like most political parties the bottom line is power and while their smart enough to know there is no chance of them getting this normal they worked out that by riding ‘the cause ‘ for all its worth they do have a chance to force unto people ideas that otherwise would not consider like the end of personal motorised transport and the virtual ending of flying , and an energy crises should fit very nicely into that .

As regards its cost. Well how much is ‘saving the planet ‘worth .

So Walport is actual up against the greens on this one .

Mar 18, 2014 at 2:32 PM | Unregistered Commenterknr

I have written a post focussing on the false claim about increased confidence of attribution of extremes.

Mar 18, 2014 at 2:54 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

The problem is that everybody knows nobody is going to become government chief scientific advisor if they report the doubts, weaknesses and contrary evidence. So long as that is the case government science advisors won't be doing science and anybody taking the job accepts that.

Mar 18, 2014 at 2:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterNeil Craig

knr:

So Walport is actual[ly] up against[st] the greens on this one.

Agreed, contra TonyCO2 (2:12 PM) on this occasion. But vested interests of many kinds, not just idealistic and mostly impecunious greens, don't merely have an interest in these areas, they have gotten used to being fattened up every year by government subsidies, grants and kickbacks since the CAGW gravy train got going in 1988. Who knows of what metal Walport is made in the face of that?

Shub has I think been brilliant on the corrupting effects of this porcine expansion in the last two days on an otherwise messy discussion begun by geronimo. See for example here, here, here, here, here and here

Mar 18, 2014 at 3:07 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Neil Craig: The trouble with that kind of argument was that anyone using it during the 1980s (and many did) would never have rated Gorbachev enough to advocate 'doing business with him' - in the memorable phrase of someone flexible enough not to make that mistake and thus help change the course of history.

I'm not saying Walport is definitely Gorby but I am saying your reasoning has to be flawed or no positive change would ever happen.

Mar 18, 2014 at 3:12 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake


The problem is that everybody knows nobody is going to become government chief scientific advisor if they report the doubts, weaknesses and contrary evidence. So long as that is the case government science advisors won't be doing science and anybody taking the job accepts that.
Mar 18, 2014 at 2:55 PM | Unregistered Commenter Neil Craig

Yes, but Walport had an opportunity as a climate newbie to have a fresh look at the climate debate, i.e. the failure of the models, the 15-17 year hiatus (and plateau?), the missing tropospheric hotspot, the 'value-added' datasets, the remarkable stability of global sea ice, and the many dubious emails which suggest climate science has become politicised and agenda-driven. Instead he has just adopted a the same agenda-driven stance, which is very disappointing to say the least.

Mar 18, 2014 at 3:22 PM | Registered Commenterlapogus

lapogus: But he's open, I feel, to Robin Guenier-style arguments. And if accepted Robin's arguments end the CAGW madness (and its accompanying gravy train) forever. In which case half a loaf may be incomparably better than none.

Mar 18, 2014 at 3:37 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

To this onlooker, outsider and serial voter, the slides appear to be based on the false premise of CAGW and the false promise that implementing the Climate Change Act will succeed in controlling global temperature. If this is an unfair or inaccurate description, please say why.

The impression I gained was of an attempt to foster a sense of alarm to justify the invocation of the precautionary principle (which, by the way, is embodied in EU treaties) and not the incontrovertible proof of the CAGW hypothesis. And given his acknowledgement of natural influences (slide 4) I am unclear how he identifies and calculates the influence of the human element either in the past, now or in the future so that temperature can be controlled to a predetermined level. Can anyone explain please?

Quite why the Chief Scientist believes that wind farms or biomass boilers (to name but two examples) will help solve his problem is unclear to me. Can anyone explain? I am all in favour of greater efficiency but neither of these, it seems to me, adds to efficiency. In fact I suspect their use involves the production of even more CO2 emissions than the available fossil fuel alternatives.

One of his predecessors (Professor King) used the energy security argument to argue the case for alternative energy sources such as wind and solar. Back then the fear was that of over dependency on Russia and other monopoly suppliers and the rising cost of energy as countries like China and India industrialised. But that was before the implications of the US shale gas revolution were apparent. Shale gas is a classic example of the substitute product that overturns the old order. The UK establishment seems to be remarkably complacent about the impact this revolution will have and about the inadequacies (to be polite) of its existing energy policies. As a consumer and a taxpayer, some elements of the energy market seem to be little more than a racket - and a catastrophic anthropogenic energy racket too.

Mar 18, 2014 at 3:38 PM | Unregistered Commenteroldtimer

"The trouble is the greens see energy insecurity as an opportunity....So Walport is actual up against the greens on this one ." knr

"When people like Walport talk about energy security, they're trying to kid us that renewables will offer it." TinyCO2

"Agreed, contra TonyCO2 (2:12 PM) on this occasion." Richard Drake.

The two possibilities are not incompatible. I'd guess that Walport actually thinks renewables do offer energy security. He's wrong about the science, why would he be any smarter on the solutions? The greens DO want us to go back to some sort of low energy utopia but they're going to be dsapointed so who cares? I see little evidence that governments are ready to commit outright economic suicide. Flirt with it? Yes. Do it? Not intentionally.

I'm not guessing that there's move to talk about renewables offering energy security, as a way to sway right wing thinkers. It has been put forwards numerous times in policy discussions and reports on improving communications. Another idea from that bag of tricks - that the UK could be a world leader in renewables technology, that we can sell to the rest of the world as they catch up on CAGW concern. It doesn't consider the painful truth that a) we aren't building our own renewables or nuclear and b) nobody will want the current crop of renewables because they don't work very well.

Mar 18, 2014 at 3:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Bit O/T for the non sciencey skeptics

Read the very sad News today about Mick Jaggers girlfriend (Deepest condolences Mick and her family)
The Malaysian Airliner is probably at the bottom of an ocean so no more legs left on that story.
Vlad the Bad taking back Crimea without a shot being fired and a bonus of making the West look weak

But check the front page of the Independent. Leaked IPCC report oh ,but unlucky with the timing

The Indie struggling obviously the well known phrase Dead Horses and Flogging comes to mind.

Mar 18, 2014 at 3:46 PM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

TinyCO2 (3:39 PM):

I'm not guessing that there's move to talk about renewables offering energy security, as a way to sway right wing thinkers.

Totally take your word for that. It makes perfect sense. Or perfect nonsense, judging it by its end-result for everyone but the climate insiders, as you rightly imply. What turned me off your original contribution, in its first sentence, I will now use the magic of HTML to highlight:

When people like Walport talk about energy security, they're trying to kid us that renewables will offer it.

Walport's advisers may well be trying to kid us in exactly this way - using advisers in the loosest way. For example, I'm sure Bob Ward will be going through the new CSA's every word with a fine toothcomb, ready to 'advise' where he's diverged even a molecule from the line Bob feels is right. How would you like to be in those uncompromising crosshairs? I sure wouldn't.

Given this reality, the key question I thought you were begging becomes: how smart and how resilient is Walport? The jury's still out on that for me. Here's what Pallab Ghosh wrote about the man as his appointment was announced in June 2012:

It is these qualities that have made him a "marmite figure" with movers and shakers in the research community.

Many, including the popular and respected current president of the Royal Society, Sir Paul Nurse, love his straight talking style.

Others loathe what they feel to be an uncompromising approach.

It was for this reason that some fellows of the Royal Society had opposed his invitation to their exclusive club for years. He was finally let in in 2011. Being a fellow seems to be a prerequisite to being the government's chief scientist.

Nurse loved him so he must be of the devil, right? I'm not so sure. That's all.

Mar 18, 2014 at 4:42 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

His slide 10 is most telling, showing that anthropogenic effects go back over 100,000 years, all with major impacts on emissions of carbon dioxide, especially deforestation by fire in the early and current period for primitive agriculture and for the use of fuel as charcoal during the early industrial age where emissions of carbon dioxide and aerosols were massive if regional - as currently in China!. Yet he assumes that they only have a significant effect on climate during the last 60 years when in the developed world the burning of coal for domestic heat, industry and transport by steam trains has been replaced by electricity that converts that coal with greater efficiency in terms of the release of carbon dioxide and cleaner in terms of aerosols. And in relation to this slide 11 shows the population increase in the underdeveloped World can only have increased emissions of carbon dioxide by burning wood for fuel and clearing forests for agriculture, not least the production of biofuels - the AIRS satellite data shows high emissions in these areas with net absorption in the developed regions. Slide 12 suggests that during this 100,000 years the Earth has responded to the increased emissions of carbon dioxide by increasing the size and/efficiency of the sinks but with the expected lag and cycles according to the effects of solar activity on ocean heat and land biomass via precipitation. The Earth is currently responding in a similar manner to the increase since 1950 via a 10% increase in biomass and the damping effect is only smaller because ocean cooling has yet to fully kick in.
His claim in slide 13 that global warming is unequivocal is not supported by the raw temperature data from meteorological stations with 100 years of near continuous data nor the evaporation data from Class A Pan Evaporation units globally that show not only regional but local variances demonstrating that the use of homogenization and kriging in producing the global temperature series is in error, as is taking the average of minimum and maximum daily values.
http://www.john-daly.com/stations/stations
http://www.nc-climate.ncsu.edu/climate/climate_change
http://www.homogenisation.org/files/private/WG1/Bibliography/Applications/Applications%20(K-O)/moberg_alexandersson.pdf
http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1028&context=greatplainsresearch
http://hydrology.usu.edu/Reynolds/documents/climate.pdf
http://agis.ucdavis.edu/publications/2011/Identification%20of%20dominant%20climate%20factor%20for%20pan.pdf
http://www.agu.org/wps/ChineseJGeo/55/05/rys.pdf
http://www.academia.edu/4367521/A_GIS_analysis_of_the_spatial_relation_between_evapotranspiration_and_pan_evaporation_in_the_United_States
http://gustofhotair.blogspot.com/search?updated-max=2009-04-08T13:15:00%2B10:00&max-results=10
Thus the claim in slide 14 of consistent trends across the climate system is not supported either.

This is not to argue that there has not been warming (and cooling) or that carbon dioxide is not a radiative gas rather that effects are regional and zonal and claims based on global data are misleading - as using Arctic ice coverage rather than total Arctic plus Antarctic shows. One could go on commenting on the rest of his slides but as they are based on dubious data resulting from the manipulation of the raw temperature data there is little point. As has been pointed out many times by skeptics the key is to accept that warming and cooling take place and build resilience into our societies, laying aside funds to help those hit by extreme weather events rather than flushing them down the drain in prompting wind and solar power and on computer models of little value.

Mar 18, 2014 at 5:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Azlac

Sir Mark probably knows that we are the irreconsilable, so prefers to connect with the wide-eyed gullible and vulnerable.

http://blog.thinktank.ac/?p=1896

Mar 18, 2014 at 5:42 PM | Registered CommenterPharos

Doug McNeall:

"Second, warming to date *is* distinguishible from natural variability, to a very high degree of confindence. Just have a look in the "detection and attribution" chapter of the IPCC AR5."

Doug - for clarity and to avoid confusion, please can you supply the specific page, para and line reference in AR5 on which you are basing your claim. Thank you.

Mar 18, 2014 at 6:22 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

ice is ice, please DO lump it together.

we never heard about not lumping together the surface temperatures, either.

Doug McNeal to re-read Feynman's story about the blocks. Or better: go play with them instead of trying to troll change the argument.

Mar 18, 2014 at 6:25 PM | Unregistered Commenterptw

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