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« The daft and the non-daft climate model runs | Main | Paris and the risk of green judges »
Friday
Jan222016

What's up with El Reg?

A few days back The Conversation published a moderately dull article about paleoclimate, written by a couple of postdocs at Bristol. Its title kind of gave the game away up front:

The last time Earth was this hot hippos lived in Britain (that’s 130,000 years ago)

This introduced a temperature reconstruction that had been bodged together by an author at Wikimedia. It all seemed fairly pitiful to me, and hardly worth the bother, although I wondered for a time about whether I could get an easy laugh by noting that the authors had cited approvingly Michael Mann's 2008 carcrash paper:

So when was the Earth last warmer than the present?

The Medieval Warm Period is often cited as the answer. This spell, beginning in roughly 950AD and lasting for three centuries, saw major changes to population centres across the globe. This included the collapse of the Tiwanaku civilisation in South America due to increased aridity, and the colonisation of Greenland by the Vikings.

But that doesn’t tell the whole story. Yes, some regions were warmer than in recent years, but others were substantially colder. Across the globe, averaged temperatures then were in fact cooler than today.

I for one am keen to know why exactly these two authors think that ditch digging is a reliable proxy for temperature.

I'm only writing about it now because I notice that the article has been republished at El Reg, of all places. A little Googling reveals that there have been some changes in the team there. Lewis Page seems to have moved on, although as far as I can tell Andrew Orlowski is still at the helm. I wonder what's going on? I can't recall this kind of copy-and-paste journalism from El Reg before, let alone the appearance of risible nonsense like this.

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Reader Comments (47)

"warmest year on record. But those global temperature records only date back to 1850 " blah blah

What was the temperature in 1849?

Jan 22, 2016 at 10:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterJamspid

I recently regsitered an account at The Register, specifically so I could post a comment (quite a long one, I might add). It simply vanished, as did several further attempts. I had not sworn or made any libelious remarks, and no email notification of "comment moderation" or other explanations were received. So I deleted the account, and won't bother again...

Jan 22, 2016 at 10:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterDavw Ward

Orlowski is still there but not "at the helm". Worstall's out as well as Page.

There's a "New Broom" at El Reg who seems "daft as a brush". New editor feels he has to tinker, pushes out a couple of folks, brings in his mates. Not good, and much squeaking from the Commentards.

Have a read of this and despair:
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/01/04/ithe_registeris_entirely_serious_new_years_resolutions_for_2016/

Jan 22, 2016 at 10:35 AM | Unregistered Commentergareth

I'm sorry to say the overall standard of journalism at "El Reg" has greatly declined, with a lot of churnalism and articles so bad that they must surely offend the sensibilities of what used to be a very bright crowd of readers. I've stopped reading it.

Jan 22, 2016 at 10:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterIan

There are Hippos living in Britain now!

http://www.westerndailypress.co.uk/PICTURED-Longleat-hippos-enjoy-surprise-mud/story-25972610-detail/story.html

Without intervention though they would not have survived the current climate. Therefore obviously 130Kya Britain was a LOT hotter than now implying a very different temperature distribution if the GLOBAL average was the same.

"So although the Eemian was warmer than today the driving mechanism for this warmth was fundamentally different to present-day climate change, which is down to greenhouses gases".

So if the driver was different, why imply that the current (alleged) driver will replicate the Eemian outcome. How can the thought processes of clever people be so shallow?
The article ends with a whimper of confused contradiction which, in part, refutes the previous assertions.
I wonder if Prof. Lewendowski was their supervisor?

Jan 22, 2016 at 10:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterDiogenese2

They've made 'an entirely serious new year's resolution'.

Tim had a mutter about it at the time - the comments are mildly illuminating. http://www.timworstall.com/2016/01/04/and-so-the-register-changes/ Hope looks to be lost.

Jan 22, 2016 at 11:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterEd W

Do they explain what caused the warming after the wooly rhinos inhabited Cambridgeshire 35,000 years ago?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cambridgeshire-29819156

Jan 22, 2016 at 11:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

The last time Earth was this hot hippos lived in Britain (that’s 130,000 years ago)

Which means it's taken 130,000 years to get back to a nice warm temperature ideally suited for safari parks in the Thames Valley and humans around the globe. Long may it continue!

Jan 22, 2016 at 11:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

gareth
Have a read of this and despair:
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/01/04/ithe_registeris_entirely_serious_new_years_resolutions_for_2016/

Oh dear. Missed that one for some reason.

Bookmark deleted. Bit of a sad day really, I've been a regular reader for pretty much two decades.

The net being what it is, hopefully something else will pop up to take its place.

Jan 22, 2016 at 11:33 AM | Unregistered Commenter3x2

Certain parts of Africa have been prone to power cuts for years, due to hippos in rivers. Dead and decaying hippo carcases make a bit of a mess of Hydro Electric Power water intakes.

If we are to see some global warming, border security will have to be increased, to prevent hippos from sneaking into the country with dodgy passports and accreditation, though some enterprising supermarkets could start a new range of meat pies, with 'water horse meat' filling.

Jan 22, 2016 at 11:41 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

There's been quite a bit of discussion about this at Tim Worstall's place over the last month -- verdict seems to be that The Register has been Borgified.

Jan 22, 2016 at 11:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterCal

El Reg failed to spot "Photoshopping for science".

As for "developing a sense of humour" as stated in their New Years' suicide note; the person who wrote that hasn't been reading The Register or needs a laugh track. (ho ho)

Jan 22, 2016 at 12:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterBernd Felsche

I noticed the same eco-mental editorial and journalistic changes at 'the engineer' magazine. I suspect that's why the print edition has ceased to be. Practical people do not want politically correct politics shoved down their throats and we don't want to have to listen to ignorami who still pretend that Mann's Hockey Stick proved anything other than widespread incompetence and/or collusion in the paleo community.

Jan 22, 2016 at 12:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

I stopped reading El Reg years ago when I realised that there was a possibility that one of the authors was manufacturing the stories he was writing about.

The particular story was about the police raiding someone for a tweet they sent that looked innocuous but if you tried really hard to miss-read it it could read like a threat . The tweet had not been retweeted so it was likely one of the followers who called the police and by a strange coincidence the author of the El Reg article about it had followed the tweeter just a day or so before. Perhaps it was just coincidence but it wasn't the only story by this author I had suspicions about.

Jan 22, 2016 at 1:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

The Register's Alexa stats (h/t Mr. Worstall) Having seen the state of some comment threads they've picked up some Guardian readers - so the decline is probably worse than the graph indicates.

JamesG
One of the engineering periodicals whose email shots I used to subscribe to went totally AGW potty and the comments filled up with people spitting feathers :-) - until they closed comments on the topic. I doubt I was alone in unsubscribing.

Jan 22, 2016 at 1:08 PM | Registered Commentertomo

For a reminder of how good the register can be...
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/11/27/so_why_exactly_it_investors_utterly_clueless/

Jan 22, 2016 at 1:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

The Reg New Year resolutions sound like the M&S clothing paradox. It's where a company builds it's customer base doing one thing and then when they achieve success, look around for a larger, more exciting customer base. They then adapt to try and lure the new customers, not caring that they kill their existing market. Often the new market is already well served by other companies and the customers wouldn't swap loyalties in great numbers anyway because you don't offer anything better than their existing favourites. In IT reporting you do need new writers who have current industry experience but the emphasis needs to be on experience rather than youth.

Jan 22, 2016 at 1:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

I've argued for years that Hippos should be re-introduced to the Severn and Avon at Tewkesbury.

Diversity of habitat is vital for their continued existence. And they survive fine a bit further north of their at the West Midlands Safari Park.

Not to mention the boost to the local tourism industry. We in Cheltenham have lots of hotel space because of the races.
And the boat rides past the Abbey would suddenly become a lot more exciting.

Jan 22, 2016 at 1:59 PM | Registered CommenterM Courtney

tomo,

Having seen the state of some comment threads they've picked up some Guardian readers - so the decline is probably worse than the graph indicates.
So has this place (ahem).
The ban-happy moderators at the Guardian have led to a wide diaspora. Which has probably increased the influence.

Sorry about that.

Jan 22, 2016 at 2:01 PM | Registered CommenterM Courtney

I suspect (and that is all it is, I admit) that the Register took the decision to re-geekify the site. Over the years it had expanded its content and was starting to become a generally useful read, as opposed to a journal for IT specialists alone. I doubt that broadening of readership had been good for their ad revenue - numbers up, specificity down.

Whatever the reason, the editorial quality has definitely dropped. Not only is it now just for people who dream in code but it has lost two of its most intelligent and challenging writers in Worstall and Page. It's not even funny any more, which suggests whoever is in charge isn't up to the job.

Jan 22, 2016 at 2:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterUncle Badger

M Courtney @1:59 PM


Have you been reading too much George Monbiot ?

Jan 22, 2016 at 2:54 PM | Registered Commentertomo

Tomo,
Are you are referring to the spelling error in classic Guardianista style?

Seriously, re-wilding should be considered for species that are easy to manage. Very few hippos will be able to hide out in the wilds of North Gloucestershire.

If they migrate to the Wye it may become a problem but that does involve a trek of 20miles through sub-urban Gloucester and open farm-land. Hippopotami have not evolved a mastery of stealth.

Why not do this?
It's a sustainable investment in the UK tourist industry. Think outside of the box.

Jan 22, 2016 at 3:15 PM | Registered CommenterM Courtney

fwiw

Lewis Page is apparently doing a new / updated version of Lions Donkeys and Dinosaurs. If you have not read it - it collects an awful lot of information about the blithering and waste in UK MOD and the services in one place - with a certain mordant humour.

The undisputed financial arithmetic of Apache helicopter production being a standout imho.

BAE will probably pay him not to write it.....

Jan 22, 2016 at 3:18 PM | Registered Commentertomo

M Courtney @3:15 PM

Hippos propensity for nocturnal munchies "onshore" plays havoc with lawns (and allotments) - the footprints are not exactly hard to miss - and spooking 1.5 tons of poor eye-sighted but remarkably quick herbivore tiptoeing around in the pitch dark has its moments - you say they haven'y mastered stealth - but a mate of mine has the pictures of his lawn in Malawi and what he described as a near death experience when he went out to look at some heavy breathing(!) one night.

On balance though - it could be fun - can we start a bit further north near chez George?

Jan 22, 2016 at 3:34 PM | Registered Commentertomo

tomo:

Re Lewis Page book - plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose — usually translated as "the more things change, the more they stay the same. I have 2 books in my library dating from the early 1960's commenting on the same.

Jan 22, 2016 at 3:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterGraeme No.3

In the Eemian interglacial there were also lions, giraffes and elephants in the Thames Valley. Bringing them back free to roam could interfere with traffic.
I also see that rhinos were in Yorkshire as far north, but not over the border. That a short sighted, thick skinned and belligerent animal couldn't find an ecological niche in Scotland begs for the sort of comment that would get me banned for life or sued by a sturgeon.

Jan 22, 2016 at 3:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterGraeme No.3

So the climate kooks are gullible enough, according to the authors, to at once believe this is the "hottest" time in 130,000 years when hippos lived in Britain and at the same time not notice the pesky little fact that hippos can only live in Britain today in temperature controlled zoos.

Jan 22, 2016 at 4:12 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

The last time Earth was this hot hippos lived in Britain (that’s 130,000 years ago)

Not that long ago surely, they were the lot that dressed in bright coloured clothes with embroidered flowery patterns in the 60's and 70's.

Jan 22, 2016 at 5:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartyn

http://listverse.com/2014/01/15/10-cruel-and-unusual-facts-about-animals-in-the-roman-colosseum/

Hippos lions Elephants Tigers were all indigenous to UK originally but they were captured and taken away to fight in the Roman Colosseum so much so becoming extinct in Europe.

Jan 22, 2016 at 5:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamspid

Graeme No.3 at 3:59

very good - set me thinking about the ex-Member for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath


I keep meaning to add this to my collection - or borrow the only copy I found in the public library at Tidworth......

Jan 22, 2016 at 5:44 PM | Registered Commentertomo

That Alexa ranking trend for El Reg cannot be real. I'll believe when there is 17 years of data.

Jan 22, 2016 at 6:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterEarle

So finally, the Eemian Interglacial is recognised as warmer than the Modern Warm Period.... Hippos gambolling in the Thames , Maas and Rhine...
Who knew?

Jan 22, 2016 at 6:54 PM | Registered Commenterdropstone

Three years ago they hired a couple of science writers in San Fran. They posted all the alarmist climate press releases they could find. That's when I lost interest. There is support for Lewis in the comments of the New Years article.

Lots of stuff at http://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/ , mostly economics.

Jan 22, 2016 at 7:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterEric Gisin

@Earle, Jan 22, 2016 at 6:44 PM

That Alexa ranking trend for El Reg cannot be real. I'll believe when there is 17 years of data.

The Alexa trend showing a large fall since October 2015 is supported by the many comments on El Reg articles where long-time readers have highlighted the huge change in the quality, variety, breadth and depth of what is now published and said their visits to the site and time spent on site has declined since October 2015 PC coup. I also now visit El Reg less and read very few of their articles.

The content now is largely: Cloud, Storage, Flash, Audio Podcast, Video Podcast, Flash, Storage, Cloud, Cut&Paste press releases from PR firms, Cut&Paste from The Conversation.

Analysis, opinion, investigation, informative, interesting, inquiring, challenging, open-minded, sometimes controversial are all words that post the PC coup in October now no longer apply to The Register. The site is now a boring clone of The Gruniard and many other sites. The intelligent and insightful commentards posts - from who I learned a lot - have declined substantially.

Former editor Lewis Page massively increased readership numbers and since he was removed site is now in a downward spiral.

Read the comments on the above article:
The last time Earth was this hot hippos lived in Britain (that’s 130,000 years ago)
Also this one:
The Register's entirely serious New Year's resolutions for 2016

They clearly show the long time readers' distaste at the changes.


@TinyCO2, Jan 22, 2016 at 1:42 PM

The Reg New Year resolutions sound like the M&S clothing paradox. It's where a company builds it's customer base doing one thing and then when they achieve success, look around for a larger, more exciting customer base. They then adapt to try and lure the new customers, not caring that they kill their existing market. Often the new market is already well served by other companies and the customers wouldn't swap loyalties in great numbers anyway because you don't offer anything better than their existing favourites. In IT reporting you do need new writers who have current industry experience but the emphasis needs to be on experience rather than youth.

Excellent parable. Very well done. May I use it elsewhere?

Jan 22, 2016 at 9:19 PM | Registered CommenterPcar

That time-series graph is an extraordinary piece of nonsense coming from alleged scholars, for instance if the last twenty thousand years temperature trend were shown at the same resolution as the previous million years, eyeballing, it would be a flat line at about -3C and so on.
But not happy with that chicanery they then add on the IPCC ‘worst case’ predictions for individual years as if they were established fact.

Jan 22, 2016 at 9:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterChris Hanley

....in a few year, our children are just not going to know what El Reg was :-(

Jan 22, 2016 at 9:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterHeidi de Kline

"In the Eemian interglacial there were also lions, giraffes and elephants in the Thames Valley."

Elephants and lions, yes, giraffes no.

And it was a lot warmer than now during the Ipswichian (which is what the Eemian is called in Britain).

Summers for example were about 4 degrees warmer than now (Cope, G.R., 2001. Biostratigraphical distinction of interglacial coleopteran assemblages from southern Britain attributed to Oxygen Isotope Stages 5e and 7. Quaternary Science Reviews 20: 1717–1722). Note that Hippos didn't manage to get further north than the Orontes river in Syria during the current interglacial.

Jan 22, 2016 at 10:14 PM | Unregistered Commentertty

"I've argued for years that Hippos should be re-introduced to the Severn and Avon at Tewkesbury." --M Courtney

I see no reason why Dodos should not also be introduced. They're quite rare in most parts of the world, and the climate...wait. They're rife in the UK? Never mind.

"The Reg New Year resolutions sound like the M&S clothing paradox..." --TinyCO2

Does it involve whips and chains?

Jan 23, 2016 at 1:54 AM | Unregistered Commenterjorgekafkazar

Funny. I don't really read TheRegister any more. Now I know why.

Jan 23, 2016 at 11:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterRobinson

Thanks for the link to The Register's New Year's suicide note, I'd missed it due to my now routine 'can't be bothered to read it' skim over the key sites. It's clear from the intellectually novocained style alone alone that the publication is now doomed.

Oh, well. There are always cat videos. And BH, of course (grovel grovel).

Jan 23, 2016 at 1:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterUncle Badger

'It all seemed fairly pitiful to me, and hardly worth the bother'

Wikipedia is worth the bother. That pitiful graph is the best truth for many people.

What I wonder the most is the prognosis to 2100 which looks overly optimistic with a ten degree jump in a jiffy.

Jan 23, 2016 at 7:18 PM | Unregistered Commenterwert

Heidi de Kline

In a few years children will not know what all the fuss about Global Warming was about.

Jan 23, 2016 at 9:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamspid

There are so many problems with climate engineering. The main one is that we have only one planet to work with (we have no Planet B) and if we screw this one up then what do we do? Say “sorry” I guess. But we’re already screwing it up by burning more than 10 billion tonnes of fossil fuels a year. We have to stop this carbon madness immediately.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/11/23/blocking_out_the_sun_wont_fix_climate_change_but_it_could_buy_us_time/

Been a long road, but it seems the slow transformation to sense that began with the sacking of 'Steve Goddard' is approaching completion.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/08/15/goddard_arctic_ice_mystery/ [Read the Editor's Note]

Jan 25, 2016 at 8:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhil Clarke

Is that you Gaz? ;)

Jan 22, 2016 at 10:35 AM | Unregistered Commentergareth

Jan 26, 2016 at 10:34 AM | Unregistered Commenterclovis marcus

The new editor
https://uk.linkedin.com/in/joe-fay-8bb71b31
A rather different style to Mr Lewis. A degree in politics too. Joy.

Jan 26, 2016 at 12:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Galt

So Phil Clarke starts rooting for El Reg just as everyone else is heading for the exit. Cause or effect, I wonder..?

Jan 28, 2016 at 5:51 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

@John Galt, Jan 26, 2016 at 12:34 PM

The new editor
https://uk.linkedin.com/in/joe-fay-8bb71b31
A rather different style to Mr Lewis. A degree in politics too. Joy.

A degree in politics from:
London Metropolitan University, a left wing hotbed of PC and Green dogma modern and forward-looking institution. Whose mission is: Transforming Lives, Meeting Needs...

Joe-Fay is not the new editor. Andrew may be, but despite repeated questions asking who Chief/Head/Most Senior Editor is no answer has been forthcoming.

@jamesp, Jan 28, 2016 at 5:51 PM

So Phil Clarke starts rooting for El Reg just as everyone else is heading for the exit. Cause or effect, I wonder..?

Both I guess. Greens do have a liking for sinking ships and society in general boarding them to go back to stone-age hunter gatherer life.

I am still in the dark as to why this PC Green coup happened, Lewis won't say. Andrew is also (by not posting on this thread) also doing a three wise monkeys.

They did do a free ad for Conde Nast a month or so ago. Owners of Situation Publishing selling company to them? Is Conde Nast a PC/Green firm?

Side note: El Reg had a click bait story today pleading for new "On Call" stories written by unpaid readers

Jan 28, 2016 at 10:27 PM | Registered CommenterPcar

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