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Sunday
Sep042011

Cameron worried

And so he should be.

The Telegraph is apparently going to report tomorrow that fuel bills are going to go up by another £300 and that Cameron is worried.

Let's face it, it's probably too late for the PM already. It's probably too late for the Conservatives as a party.

Who could possibly forgive them for what they are doing to the country?

 

 

Sunday
Sep042011

Dear Kev

According to The Daily Climate, both the editor and publisher of Remote Sensing wrote to Kevin Trenberth to apologise for publishing the Spencer and Braswell paper.

I wonder how they phrased their letters.

Suggestions in the comments please.

 

Sunday
Sep042011

Why no resignation?

David Stockwell has a fascinating post about a paper in Nature by Thomas et al. Thomas is Chris Thomas of the University of Leeds and his co-authors include a bevy of academics as well as NGO people from bodies like the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and Conservation International.

The subject is the effects of climate change on biodiversity and the paper appears to be quite monumentally bad - one naturalist described it as the worst paper he had ever read. Thomas et al not only use climate models that have no proven skill at the habitat level as the basis for their projections but then assume that any species whose range expands under climate change will...go extinct. Amazing.

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Sep042011

Frankely, a bit of a stretch

Maurice Frankel, the director of the Campaign for Freedom of Information has made his own contribution to the Stirling University FOI question, claiming in remarkable fashion that an obscure exemption for FOI requests submitted to Scottish bodies may apply to Stirling.

The researchers have argued that if they are forced to hand over the information (presumably even in anonymised form from which subjects could not be identified), funders will be reluctant to back them, other academics will not share data with them and teenagers will refuse to be interviewed in future.

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Sep032011

Critiques and responses

There is still huge interest in the Remote Sensing affair and quite what this means for the climate debate is still unclear.

One aspect of the story that has attracted a great deal of comment is the fact that Remote Sensing has not retracted the paper. As Retraction Watch puts it:

We are not in a position to critique the claims. But we are curious: If Wagner feels he published the article in error, why not simply retract it? Was it really necessary to fall on his sword to make the point that he now feels he made a mistake in publishing the paper? It’s a noble gesture, and not unprecedented for editors of climate journals, but is it best for science?

Remote Sensing has now made it clear that they will not be retracting the paper.

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Sep032011

Brooke on the Stirling FOI case

Heather Brooke in the Guardian writes in support of the position I took on Philip Morris's line on FOI compliance for universities:

The UK's FoI law is meant to be applicant blind. This means anyone can ask a public body for official information and there should be no discrimination based on the identity of the person asking. In the case of scientific research conducted and funded in the public's name, there is a strong argument that the underlying data and methodology should be disclosed. It is precisely this transparency that grants research reports their status as robust investigations.

Good for her.

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.