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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.


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 ...



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.




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 ...


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.


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?



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.





If there are any computer-literate readers out there, help! I bought a new PC over the weekend.

I appear to have this problem (although I'm using Word 2003 in Win7-64). As per the linked page, if I switch to Winword Safe Mode, the problem goes away.

The page linked suggests I have a print driver problem. However, the printer is installed on the missus's PC and I share it (it's a share rather than a network printer). Isn't the print driver on her machine then?

I'm confused...



Sorry, everyone. The last post was not supposed to go live yet. I'll repost tomorrow.


Health "co-benefits"

This is a guest post by Matt Ridley:

Some years ago, presumably for having written books on genetics, I was elected a fellow of Britain’s Academy of Medical Sciences (AMS). This was a great honour and I was even more pleased to be invited to speak at one of their annual dinners.

Then, towards the end of 2010, there dropped through my letter box a newsletter from the AMS which included an item on the academy having signed up to an “international statement” on the “health benefits of policies to tackle climate change” together with other medical science academies around the world. The newsletter said that the health “co-benefits” of tackling climate change “show that climate change mitigation strategies need not be socially and economically demanding”. Since everything I was reading at the time about rising food and fuel prices driven partly by climate change mitigation policies was pointing to the opposite conclusion – namely that malnutrition and hypothermia were being increased by such policies, outweighing any health advantages – I went online to read the statement, to find out what I had been signed up to as a fellow

Click to read more ...


Brian Cox on the BBC

Brian Cox has been speaking at the Edinburgh Festival on the subject of the BBC. He is in favour:

Prof Cox said the BBC had put science centre stage and had been rewarded with high ratings and huge interest.

The Wonders of the Universe presenter said public service broadcasting had a "very important" role to play in changing the direction of society.

The idea of members of society being forced to pay for a BBC that views their remit as "changing the direction" taken by those same members of society is problematic, IMHO.


Henrik the Bright - Josh 115



UEA correspondence with Outside

UEA have released some of their correspondence with the Outside Organisation. The disclosures can be seen here.

Although there are quite a large number of documents released, it appears that this is mostly just the "boilerplate", to use Mann's expression. The university seem to be claiming exemptions under s41 breach of confidence and s43 commercial interests. Ho hum.

What has been disclosed is of minor interest - meetings with Neil Wallis to rehearse Phil Jones for his performance before the SciTech Committee, hiring a camera crew to film a clip of Edward Acton outside Portcullis House afterwards. I remember the latter from the news reports on the day. It is interesting to see that the MSM were happy to take footage from UEA. It doesn't make them look very good in my opinion.



Mann: emails disclosed are "boilerplate"

A couple more hints about the Mann email disclosures by way of an article in Science Insider:

In a press release this afternoon, ATI said it had received "a 4.3 megabyte disk that contains 3,827 pages" of data. Paul Chesser, ATI's executive director, said ATI staff members had not had a chance to review the contents. "We think we got a third" of the documents requested, Chesser said. Mann, who says the university is keeping him abreast of the documents it releases, says they consist of routine e-mail messages and similar "boilerplate."

Apparently more documents will be released next month.


El Reg on CLOUD

Andrew Orlowski has noticed a good quote in the CERN press release about CLOUD (emphasis added):

What has CLOUD discovered and why is it important for our understanding of climate? There are several important discoveries from CLOUD. Firstly, we have shown that the most likely nucleating vapours, sulphuric acid and ammonia, cannot account for nucleation that is observed in the lower atmosphere. The nucleation observed in the chamber occurs at only one‐tenth to one‐thousandth of the rate observed in the lower atmosphere. Based on the first results from CLOUD, it is clear that the treatment of aerosol formation in climate models will need to be substantially revised, since all models assume that nucleation is caused by these vapours and water alone. It is now urgent to identify the additional nucleating vapours, and whether their sources are mainly natural or from human activities.

I am slightly confused about this though - are we saying that the models include a factor for nucleation that is equal to the rate of nucleation currently observed, and which changes based on how we think sulphuric acid and ammonia levels in the atmosphere will change in future? Or are we saying that the level of nucleation in the models is 10--1000 times too small? I assume the former, but I had also believed that the models went back to first physical principles rather than using empirical measures.

Maybe somebody can put me right here?