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Quote of the day, science with Guardian characteristics edition

Without a Paris agreement, global warming is set to reach as much as 5C (41F) above pre-industrial levels. Scientists estimate that warming above 2C (35.6F) will result in catastrophic and irreversible changes to the weather, including droughts, floods, heatwaves, fiercer storms and sea level rises.

Fiona Harvey, award winning environment writer for the Guardian, struggles with mathematics

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Reader Comments (74)

Susan Crockford, does she get consumed by a fantasy global warming monster? Or does something more true to real life (and death) actually happen?

Nov 23, 2015 at 5:48 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Re: the fate of the UK environmental reporter in my novel.

Yes, the title is a clue :-) but in some ways her fate is worse than that.

Buy the book and see. I think you will all really like it. A reader in the UK told me her copy came in two days from the Amazon UK site - that's faster than the book gets to me (printed in the US).

Call it a Christmas gift to yourself - then you'll know which of your friends and relations might like it too.


Nov 23, 2015 at 6:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterSusan Crockford

My copy of 'Eaten' arrived today. Greatly looking forward to reading it. And some lucky house guests will find it near their bedside over Christmas.

Nov 23, 2015 at 6:23 PM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

Well done, John! Can't wait to see what you think.

Don't forget to go back to Amazon and leave a short review. I'd really appreciate it.


Nov 23, 2015 at 6:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterSusan Crockford

Susan Crockford, was her fate worse than she thought possible, in an unprecedented sort of way?

Climate Science Fiction writers (Environmental Journalists to their Green friends) are never normally short of imagination, about the dire consequences of anything other than eating baked beans by candlelight. Even then, they may have missed a couple of genuine warnings.

Nov 23, 2015 at 7:09 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

golf charlie:

"Susan Crockford, was her fate worse than she thought possible, in an unprecedented sort of way?"

Oh, I think so! ;-)

I've got a good imagination too - except I'm honest enough to call the product "fiction"


Nov 23, 2015 at 7:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterSusan Crockford

Schrodinger's Cat:

"Miliband on Today this morning wants zero carbon emissions to be made law."

If this is true I think it deserves to be publicised more widely. I think that politicians need to be held to account for such colossal stupidity.

Nov 23, 2015 at 8:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterStonyground

Stonyground. Someone pointed out that if he personally wanted to have zero "carbon emissions" he should do the honourable thing.

Nov 23, 2015 at 8:09 PM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

"Celcius degrees is not the 'correct' term. It is a mere suggestion, seldom-used and non-standard. The use of degrees F nowadays is non-standard too and shouldn't be encouraged. C is Coulombs and F is Farads if we're being that pedantic." --JamesG

Yes! And K is Thousands. I'm sticking with that little degree sign as a courtesy to tip people off that we're talking temperatures and not capacitance and whatnot: °F, °C, °K, °R.

Mixing up differential temperatures and temperatures is pure scientific ignorance, not to be excused as a typo or a minor math error.

Nov 23, 2015 at 8:21 PM | Unregistered Commenterjorgekafkazar

The wonders of Fiona Harvey's brain fascinated me for the decade I lived and worked in the UK. Most of my colleagues in London found it difficult to believe when I told them that her hyper-alarmist nonsense-filled articles would have been laughed at by the average newspaper reader in New Zealand. When I returned home, shortly after the turn of the 21st century, I was horrified by the sheer volume of Harveyesque writing that had only a loose association with facts or science that had been taken up by an entire generation of 'science writers' in newspapers,
Whatever malaise Fiona suffers, it is obviously communicable by some mysterious mechanism.

Nov 23, 2015 at 8:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander K

Alexander K, Guardian science experts set the bar low, and applaud as others limbo dance beneath it

Nov 23, 2015 at 9:20 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

From the ISO-1000 "Guide for the Use of the International System of Units SI)":


8.5 Temperature interval and temperature difference

As discussed in Sec., Celsius temperature (t) is defined in terms of thermodynamic
temperature (T) by the equation t = T − T0, where T0 = 273.15 K by definition. This implies that the
numerical value of a given temperature interval or temperature difference whose value is expressed in the
unit degree Celsius (ºC) is equal to the numerical value of the same interval or difference when its value is
expressed in the unit kelvin (K); or in the notation of Sec. 7.1, note 2, {Δt }ºC = {ΔT}K. Thus temperature
intervals or temperature differences may be expressed in either the degree Celsius or the kelvin using the
same numerical value.

Example: The difference in temperature between the freezing point of gallium and the triple point of
water is Δt = 29.7546 ºC = ΔT = 29.7546 K.


There is nothing in the standard about not using (ºC) when talking about temperature differences. But absolute temperature should never use the degree character, as the point of the degree character, both for temperature and angles, is that the zero point is arbitrary.

Nov 23, 2015 at 9:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterCurt

K is Kelvin, and k is thousand. Thus it's kg, kW and kWh, and W m−2 K−4, and J/kg/K

Nov 23, 2015 at 10:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

Which ever way you measure it, and write it or type it, 'it' isn't getting any warmer.

Nov 23, 2015 at 11:04 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Ah God spare us all from hell fire and Eternal damnation runaway climate Armageddon............. and when Fiona waxed up the metrical..............

one must beware when fair maiden makes to scrutinize,
we must caution to observe, just what did she analyze?

A gel whom drifts in nebulous green cloud,
calculations, numbers confuse and clear thoughts enshroud.

'tis not a recipe for success,
when exhibiting her baking prowess.

be not surprised when biting into the crust,
the over heated trite confection has, all but turned to dust.

Nov 23, 2015 at 11:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

As an engineer, I have never used the bizarre C° format because there is never any doubt between dT and T.

If you are in doubt, you have misunderstood the context as Fiona Harvey plainly did: '5C above' indicates a temperature difference - dT.

The episode certainly reveals she has no understanding of the subject she is writing about. Converting units is obviously a major journalistic hazard when cutting and pasting environmental propaganda.

Nov 23, 2015 at 11:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterBilly Liar

Hey, give the girl a break.
We all make mistakes.
I thought my vasectomy would mean no more new babies.
I was wrong. It just seemed to change their colours.

Nov 23, 2015 at 11:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterGeoff Sherrington

I laughed, Geoff.
I'm not sure if I'm allowed to, politically. But I did anyway.

Nov 24, 2015 at 12:11 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart


"I thought my vasectomy would mean no more new babies.
I was wrong. It just seemed to change their colours."

There's a whole world of pain their Geoff, so I won't ask yer mate.

Nov 24, 2015 at 12:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

The real origin of the AGW scandal may be revealed at the Paris Conference ?

Nov 24, 2015 at 3:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterOliver Manuel

Oh Lady of Shallot
come down, come
down from yr
ivory -

Nov 24, 2015 at 8:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterBeth Cooper

A few minutes ago I posted a comment on the Guardian's article asking when the Guardian was going to publish an article about failed predictions by hysterical climate alarmists. The comment was very quickly removed by a moderator for failing to conform to "community standards." Perhaps I should have omitted the word "hysterical."

Nov 24, 2015 at 10:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

From today's Guardian: Corrections and Clarifications:

The online version of an article about climate change (Don’t let Paris attacks stop COP21 climate change deal, Obama urges, 22 November, converted a temperature change of 2C to 35.6F and a temperature change of 5C to 41F. Although temperatures of 2C and 5C are the same as 35.6F and 41F, temperature changes of 2C and 5C correspond to changes of 3.6F and 9F.
No other comment from them....

Nov 24, 2015 at 10:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Passfield

Can you imagine Fiona Harvey trying to explain the concept of absolute zero or why an increase in temperature of one degree Kelvin is exactly the same as an increase of one degree celsius even though 0 K = -273.15 C?

Nov 24, 2015 at 10:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

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