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Friday
Sep022011

+++Journal editor resigns+++

Wolfgang Wagner, editor of the open access journal Remote Sensing, has resigned over the journal's publication of the Spencer and Braswell paper.

Peer-reviewed journals are a pillar of modern science. Their aim is to achieve highest scientific standards by carrying out a rigorous peer review that is, as a minimum requirement, supposed to be able to identify fundamental methodological errors or false claims. Unfortunately, as many climate researchers and engaged observers of the climate change debate pointed out in various internet discussion fora, the paper by Spencer and Braswell that was recently published in Remote Sensing is most likely problematic in both aspects and should therefore not have been published.

After having become aware of the situation, and studying the various pro and contra arguments, I agree with the critics of the paper. Therefore, I would like to take the responsibility for this editorial decision and, as a result, step down as Editor-in-Chief of the journal Remote Sensing.

This is quite extraordinary. Can it really be believed that Wagner heard "in various internet discussion fora" that the paper was wrong and on that basis has resigned?

A little later he says this:

If a paper presents interesting scientific arguments, even if controversial, it should be published and responded to in the open literature. This was my initial response after having become aware of this particular case. So why, after a more careful study of the pro and contra arguments, have I changed my initial view? The problem is that comparable studies published by other authors have already been refuted in open discussions and to some [extent] also in the literature (cf. [7]), a fact which was ignored by Spencer and Braswell in their paper and, unfortunately, not picked up by the reviewers.

Something being questioned "to some extent" in the literature does not represent a resigning matter. This really doesn't look very good to me.

Friday
Sep022011

DECC changes its mind

Readers may remember that I had FOId the Department of Energy and Climate Change regarding a meeting held between the minister, Greg Barker, and representatives of the energy retail industry (ERA). I had been intrigued by an agenda item referring to "information on consumers' bills" and was wondering if the retailers had been wanting to disclose the cost of the government's panoply of green initiatives.

DECC initially said they had nothing in connection with the meeting - remarkably, no minutes appear to have been kept - so I queried this remarkable state of affairs.

Click to read more ...

Friday
Sep022011

Bad journalism

I did a quick follow up on that 2008 malaria prediction:

The UK is to be hit by regular malaria outbreaks, fatal heatwaves and contaminated drinking water within five years because of global warming, the Government has warned the NHS.

I checked this out in the original report, which is here. Remarkably, the authors put the malaria story thus:

Click to read more ...

Friday
Sep022011

The myth of green jobs

GWPF have published a new report on the green jobs that are alleged to be a beneficial side effect of the government's energy policies. It's by Gordon Hughes, an eminent economist from Edinburgh. Here's how Hughes summarises the story.

"Claims by politicians and lobbyists that green energy policies will create a few thousand jobs are not supported by the evidence. In terms of the labour market, the gains for a small number of actual or potential employees in businesses specialising in renewable energy has to be weighed against the dismal prospects for a much larger group of workers producing tradable goods in the rest of the manufacturing sector," Professor Hughes said.

The full report can be downloaded here: The Myth of Green Jobs

Friday
Sep022011

In the pay of Big Green

Russell Cook at the American Thinker carries the fascinating news that IPCC vice-chairman Jean-Pascal van Ypersele was working for Greenpeace while in position at the IPCC. This makes M. van Ypersele's constant refrain about sceptics being in the pay of Big Oil look, well, a tad rash.

Friday
Sep022011

Haunting the back issues

Barry Woods is doing an excellent impression of the now-silent-again Haunting the Library. Barry has been trawling back issues of the newspapers for global warming predictions and has come up with this:

The UK is to be hit by regular malaria outbreaks, fatal heatwaves and contaminated drinking water within five years because of global warming, the Government has warned the NHS.

It warns that there is a high likelihood of a major heatwave, leading to as many as 10,000 deaths, hitting the UK by 2012.

Following a major consultation with climate change scientists, the Government is issuing official advice to hospitals, care homes and institutions for dealing with rising temperatures, increased flooding, gales and other major weather events.

Thursday
Sep012011

Snow

Apparently the first snows fell in the Highlands earlier in the week.

Thursday
Sep012011

Another university resists FOI

H/T to reader Ian for this story from the BBC about the University of Stirling resisting attempts by tobacco giant Philip Morris to get hold of research about teenagers' reactions to plain packaging for cigarettes. The university is claiming that handing the information over would amount to a breach of confidence.

Clearly if individuals' names are attached to the disclosure then they would have a case, but one can't help feeling that the university's argument is a smokescreen put up because they don't want to hand over the research. Whether this is because they have something to hide or because they just don't want to comply with the law remains to be seen.

Thursday
Sep012011

Breaking the ice

Autonomous Mind has an amusing story about diplomacy and sea ice. It appears that the Swedes are not going to allow the US National Science Foundation to lease their biggest and best ice-breaker for use in the Antarctic. Stockholm reckons they are going to need all the ice-breaking capacity they can lay their hands on in the Arctic.

Which is odd, because I thought the Arctic ice was about to disappear.

Thursday
Sep012011

Stripping the land bare

As if one needed any more evidence of the insanity that appears to have gripped the governing classes, this latest news report should be enough to have several ministers and a few civil servants sectioned.

The UK currently burns or co-fires around one million tonnes of wood, but the government has highlighted the importance of biomass in 2009's Renewable Energy Strategy and this year's Renewables Roadmap.

Planning permission has been granted to more than 7GW of biomass power plants, which the IIED said is likely to increase demand to 60 million tonnes a year, five or six times the nation's currently available resources.

The British landscape is going to get a new, pared-back look it seems.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Aug312011

Farmers

H/T to Richard Betts for this story.

Barclays claims a third of the UK's estimated 200,000 farmers (37%) will invest in renewable energy as it launches a new £100M fund to bankroll potential projects today (August 30).

The funding, which has been planned with support from organisations including the influential National Farmers Union (NFU), is aimed at helping farmers install all renewable technologies with Barclays including projected feed-in-tariffs (FITs) when assessing each loan.

So not only do we have to pay farmers through the nose via the Common Agricultural Policy but we have to pay them again via feed-in tariffs.

This will end badly.

 

Wednesday
Aug312011

Proxies

I was thinking about all those proxies indicating medieval warmth that were reported in the NIPCC report. I found myself worrying that they might suffer from the same problem as the tree rings - namely that their proxy nature might be justified post-hoc, by showing that they correlate to temperature in the instrumental period. This of course leaves you with the possibility that the correlation is spurious.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Aug312011

Reasons to be a sceptic

Charlie Martin explains what a global warming sceptic is and why he is one. I liked this bit:

The predictions of further warming are necessarily based on models.  Now, it happens I did my PhD work on Federally funded modeling, from which I developed the NBSR Law (named after the group for which I worked): All modeling efforts will inevitably converge on the result most likely to lead to further funding.

Tuesday
Aug302011

Monbiot on academic publishers

George Monbiot is excoriating on the subject of academic publishers, and in particular their profits.

What we see here is pure rentier capitalism: monopolising a public resource then charging exorbitant fees to use it. Another term for it is economic parasitism. To obtain the knowledge for which we have already paid, we must surrender our feu to the lairds of learning.

With there being three big publishers, there is of course no monopoly as such, although of course one can argue that there is a cartel operating. With returns of 40%, one can make a good case that this is the case.

However, from where I am standing it looks more like yet another case of the state hosing down a private sector business with taxpayers' money. Lacking any incentive to reduce their costs it's hard to see the universities making any efforts to break the stranglehold of the big publishers - what's in it for them?

 

Tuesday
Aug302011

NIPCC interim report 2011

The Heartland Institute's NIPCC interim report has just been published - see here. This is a summary of the new scientific literature since 2009.

I've taken a glance through the paleoclimate bits and it appears to have been put together in a very professional manner. I was blissfully unaware of just how much evidence has been emerging for the existence of a MWP in the world outside Europe.

If I had a criticism based on what I have read, I would say it's over the authors' tendency to slip into editorial mode - discussion of Mann being engaged in "subterfuge" looks out of place in a scientific report.

Lots of people are not going to like the report of course. Peter Gleick, the president of the Pacific Institute, tweets that the report makes him sick and refuses to link to it. Barry Woods and I have politely asked which bits in particular he is concerned with and he has told us that he doesn't need to do this when someone is arguing that the Earth is flat.