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The Times does climate

Respected professor, or international laughing stock?The Times has a trio of articles on climate this morning, from Mark Lynas, from Matt Ridley, and from science editor Tom Whipple. Matt Ridley is doing the good news on global warming, Lynas is doing the "right wing people must do as I say" thing. But it was Whipple's piece that caught my eye. This was because he opened by shooting himself smack bang in the middle of his foot. As a way of getting attention this is hard to beat.

He achieved this feat of public relations when he described a Royal Society meeting and

...a talk by a respected professor who expected the summer collapse of Arctic ice before 2020. The problem, for those listening, was that this same professor had previously given different dates — 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2016.

Yes folks, he means Peter Wadhams, who I think it's fair to say is not actually much respected at all - he is actually seen by both sides of the climate debate as a bit of a noodle. Whipple does seem to have cottoned on to the fact that Wadhams was wildly wrong, but he seems to be under the impression that he will be right in the near future. I'm not sure how convincing this is.

Whipple also schools us all about extreme weather, and in particular about typhoons:

In 2013, Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines — less because of the strength of its winds, than its storm surge. Before the industrial revolution a storm of precisely the same scale as Haiyan would have hit with the same speed, but that surge would have been 20cm lower.

This is anecdote rather than data of course, and the data is fairly clear that there has been a decline in tropical hurricanes in recent decades. But if it's anecodotes being traded, perhaps it would be better to think about Typhoon Hyphong in 1881, which killed 20,000 people at a time when the poplulation of the Philippines was less than 5 million; Typhoon Haiyan killed less than a third of that number when the population was 100 million.

Whipple then does the full hockey stick, by claiming that:

...human civilisation developed in a period with a temperature range that we have just breached.

Which rather seems to finish the article where it began, discussing science so shonky that only the most politicised find it convincing.

Ho hum.


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Reader Comments (63)

From the Thunderer, it's leader dated: Saturday November the twenty eighth, 2015.

And I quote:

The world is warming and humankind is a big part of the problem. Of this there is no longer serious doubt. Environmentalists have overplayed their hand with doctored research and implausible scaremongering about the flooding of the world's great coastal cities. Mean surface temperatures levelled off for more than a decade starting in the late 1990's and no one knew why. Yet there has been a clear uptick in average temperatures of about one degree in the past century and a half.
Each of the last ten years has been among the hottest on record, 2014 exceeded them all and the changing carbon content of the great blanket we call the atmosphere is at the heart of this warming. Without carbon dioxide to trap heat, average temperatures would hover around minus 10C. With an extra 30 billion tonnes of carbon released each year compared with 1900 scientific models predict a further average increase of between 1.5 and 4.5 degrees by the end of the century. Warming at the bottom end of this scale world be manageable and even to counties such as Britain beneficial. Valuable crop yields would rise. Certain fish specious would migrate north. But should feedback loops kick in, triggered for example by rapidly melting ice sheets or permafrost much faster warming is conceivable. Anywhere on the scale, droughts would be more intense. Extreme weather events could become more frequent and sea levels would rise.
So action is needed...........blah, blah, blah, bloody.... blah blah.

The emboldened, is all mine.

Nicely put...... eh? It's all as clear as bloody daylight in the sunlit uplands of our green and Utopian Socialist Nirvana builded somewhere among the quietened yards, shut down thanks to Gideon's carbon taxes. those Satanic mills.

The Times, the clarion and in full eco-agitprop indulging in an exercise of post normal quasi-science sophistry. Ah but, an appeal to reason surely? They're betting that, most people understand absolutely squat about science full stop and even less than that mostly and then if you don't read it [above leader] too closely - you'll hang for a climate emissions limitation treaty - cos yer know - the Times and Dave says so.............?

So reading it through, the subtext is - yeah we've made some crass howlers and actually as far as we can tell - there is no science to it, well um other than modelled what ifs, buts and more ifs than a 'Dave lets bomb them them all to hell speech' but..................Wait a minute and hey guys..... the fundamentals are pure and unassailable - ain't they?

Thus is, yon science settled and the computers say it'll be hell IF this, that and the other happens but that we don't know why it will happen - other than to say there's a speciously made correlation between a minor atmospheric gas and some background warming - sorry: an "uptick".

Well, that's sorted then, thank God that the Times spent time explaining it to the mere mortals, good on yer lasses and ladettes, whatever would we do wiv out yers?

Where is COP22 gonna fall, cos - there's alus next year.

Nov 29, 2015 at 1:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

Maurice Strong has met the real director of the "Play of Life."

Nov 29, 2015 at 2:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterOliver K. Manuel

“…human civilisation developed in a period with a temperature range that we have just breached …”.
Human civilisation can be traced back to the so-called Fertile Crescent from southern Turkey to the Zagros Mountains during the Holocene Optimum when the area had adequate rainfall, grasslands (the wild ancestors of wheat and barley), woodlands (e.g. Pistachios), had light soils suitable for digging and wild sheep and goats.
One of the most remarkable sites is Çatal Hüyük in southern Turkey dating from ~ 7000 BC where the remains of a township indicate an agricultural economy and some cultural sophistication.

Nov 29, 2015 at 6:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterChristopher Hanley

The truth hurts.

Nov 29, 2015 at 7:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterAila

Because Sagan's aerosol optical physics is wrong, the positive feedback in the climate models does not exist. They also underestimate low level cloud negative feedback by a factor of four. As for the rest of the mistakes, in time the Science will be corrected.

Nov 29, 2015 at 8:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterNCC 1701E

Canada and the US have refused to sign a binding deal, so .....

"France bows to Obama and backs down on climate ‘treaty’

France has offered a key concession to the US on the eve of historic climate talks in Paris, saying a new global climate accord will not be called a "treaty" and might not contain legally binding emissions reduction targets.
In a significant climbdown, Laurent Fabius, French foreign minister, said signatories to the planned deal would still be legally required to meet many of its terms but most likely NOT the carbon-cutting goals underpinning the agreement.

Nov 29, 2015 at 8:14 AM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

Over the last few decades global warming has evolved from the unimportant to a significient route for the foreboding politician to cajole the the developed world governments into quickly producing alternative energy supplies in the attempt to lessen the impact of the oil and gas rich countries control over energy supplies.

If the end game is to boot climate change BS into touch then in my opinion critising the bulk of climate change publications though very noble at times and perhaps fun at times is a total waste of time regarding any government policy switch. Until a cheap alternative form of energy is developed windmills, solar panels and our energy bills will keep going up. Policies based on suspect science and scaremongering will continue to roll out supported by the likes of our international laughing stock, enviromental NGOs, third world countries, greedy troughers along with anyone else who also smells an oportunity to add more greenbacks to their coffer. Worldwide governments have been coaxed into arguing that they are being enviromentally friendly while in the dark corridors of power the percieved energy supply crissis is viewed as slightly less of a crissis now as we have our own fleets of windmills and armies of solar farms to beat the enemy with.

Perhaps it is time to suggest to government that we have had enough of these over-rated renewables which may have served a purpose once upon a time but now we should invest more of our money into rapidly developing alternative energy supplies that will eventually produce something other than the heavily subsidized crop of renewables which contribute minimal GW's to current demand.

Nov 29, 2015 at 9:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterMartyn

'The truth hurts.' Aila

Are you applying for the position of fortune cookie writer? If so, may I say you're a bit old hat.

Nov 29, 2015 at 9:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

The end result of COP 21 will be that Europe will reduce emissions and no one else will bother. Jobs will be lost in Europe and global banking corporations will gleefully build new factories, coal fired power stations and coal mines in India and China. The environment will get dirtier, CO2 will massively increase and temperature will not rise.

Nov 29, 2015 at 10:28 AM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

According to Greenland and other Ice Core data our Holocene Interglacial is now in decline.

The current, warm Holocene interglacial has been the enabler of mankind’s civilisation for the last 10,000+ years. It’s congenial climate spans from mankind’s earliest farming to the scientific and technological advances of the last 100 years.

1 the last millennium 1000AD – 2000AD has been the coldest of the Holocene interglacial.

2 each of the notable high points in the Holocene temperature record, (Holocene Climate Optimum – Minoan – Roman – Medieval – Modern), has been progressively colder than the previous high point.

3 for its first 7-8000 years the early Holocene, including its high point “climate optimum”, had almost flat temperatures, an average drop of only ~0.007 °C per millennium.

4 but the recent Holocene, since the “tipping point” at ~1000BC, has seen a temperature diminution at more than 20 times that earlier rate of decline at more than 0.137 °C per millennium.

5 the Holocene interglacial is about 11,000 years old and judging by earlier Interglacials the epoch should be drawing to its close: in this century, the next century or this millennium.

6 any beneficial warming at the end of the 20th century to the Modern high point that has been promoted as the “Great Man-made Global Warming Scare” will soon come to be seen as noise in the system in the longer term progress of comparatively rapid cooling over the last 3000+ years.

Global warming protagonists should accept that our interglacial has been in long-term decline for the last 3000 years and that any action taken by man-kind will make no difference whatsoever.

Were the actions by Man-kind able to avert warming they would eventually reinforce the catastrophic cooling that is bound to return relatively soon.


Nov 29, 2015 at 10:47 AM | Unregistered Commenteredmh

Aila, it is the lies and false predictions of climate science that are doing the damage and killing people.

Nov 29, 2015 at 11:26 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

edmh, it is remarkable that human society discovered fossil fuels in the nick of time, and I mean that it has allowed enough societal enrichment to enter the next era of glaciation with confidence that we'll thrive, and I don't mean the pitiful little soupcon of warming we've contributed.

And now, at the brink, to be infected with a poisonous narrative virus, and to have our confidence shaken? The survivors will wonder at our foolishness.

Nov 29, 2015 at 2:36 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

Nov 28, 2015 at 8:25 PM | Unregistered Commenter clipe

So the when is +4 hours after I posted, Thanks.

But only for the afterthought article.

I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you weren't being snippy.

Nov 30, 2015 at 12:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterJeff Norman

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