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
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.
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.
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.
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?
David Whitehouse has more.
Given that this looks as though it is going to be a hot climatological topic for a while, if you haven't read it already then you will want to get hold of a copy of Svensmark and Calder's The Chilling Stars.
Updated on Aug 24, 2011 by Bishop Hill
Updated on Aug 25, 2011 by Bishop Hill
Here's some links on the CLOUD experiment results.
New Scientist, hilariously has a piece entitled
Cloud-making: Another human effect on the climate.
I kid you not folks - these guys are away with the fairies.
Nigel Calder writes:
Long-anticipated results of the CLOUD experiment at CERN in Geneva appear in tomorrow’s issue of the journal Nature (25 August). The Director General of CERN stirred controversy last month, by saying that the CLOUD team’s report should be politically correct about climate change (see my 17 July post below). The implication was that they should on no account endorse the Danish heresy – Henrik Svensmark’s hypothesis that most of the global warming of the 20th Century can be explained by the reduction in cosmic rays due to livelier solar activity, resulting in less low cloud cover and warmer surface temperatures.
Willy-nilly the results speak for themselves, and it’s no wonder the Director General was fretful.
Jonathan Adler has some interesting thoughts on scepticism at everyone's favourite US law blog, the Volokh Conspiracy. His article was prompted by the decision of New Jersey governor Chris Christie to first veto some green legislation (on the grounds that it wouldn't work) but to simultaneously acknowledge that greenhouse gases affect the climate, a position that has led to much criticism from his own side.
Those attacking Christie are suggesting there is only one politically acceptable position on climate science — that one’s ideological bona fides are to be determined by one’s scientific beliefs, and not simply one’s policy preferences. This is a problem on multiple levels. Among other things, it leads conservatives to embrace an anti-scientific know-nothingism whereby scientific claims are to be evaluated not by scientific evidence but their political implications. Thus climate science must be attacked because it provides a too ready justification for government regulation. This is the same reason some conservatives attack evolution — they fear it undermines religious belief — and it is just as wrong.
UEA has responded to the request by the mysterious Mr/Ms Tuppen for Paul Dennis's emails.
The University does not hold any copies of correspondence between Mr. Paul Dennis and Stephen McIntyre, Anthony Watts, Jeff Id (aka. Patrick Condon and Jeff Condon), Steven Mosher, or Thomas W. Fuller for the period 2006 to date.
For FOI geeks like me this is not unexpected. Paul Dennis indicated that he has deleted his local copy of the emails so the only copy will be on a backup server. IIRC someone (perhaps the ICO) has said that if the information is only on a backup server then it is not "held", although whether this is something that would stand up in court is another question. My guess is therefore that there may be more to the university's refusal than meets the eye.