For centuries, farmers in Austria shot consecrated guns at storms in attempts to dispel them. Some guns were loaded with nails, ostensibly to kill the witches riding in the clouds; others were fired with powder alone through open empty barrels to make a great noise -- perhaps, some said, to disrupt the electrical balance of the storm. In 1896, Albert Stiger, a vine rower in southeastern Austria and burgomaster of Windisch-Feistritz, revived the ancient tradition of hagelschiessen (hail shooting) -- basically declaring "war on the clouds" by firing cannon when storms threatened. Faced with mounting losses from summer hailstorms that threatened his grapes, he attempted to disrupt, with mortar fire, the "calm before the storm," or what he observed as a strange stillness in the air moments before the onset of heavy summer precipitation.
There is an article in New Scientist today, describing a new paper in Science by Büntgen et al. This is a tree ring study using samples from France, Germany and Austria to recreate temperatures and precipitation for the last 2500 years. There is a hint of a lack of a Medieval Warm Period:
From AD 250 to 550, the climate flipped, from one decade to the next, between dry and cool, and warm and wet. "Such decadal changes seem to have the most impact" on civilisations, Büntgen says, because they harm agriculture but are not prolonged enough for people to adapt their behaviour.
In other notable periods, the relatively stable medieval society was characterised by more constant climatic conditions. But the Black Death coincided with a wet spell and the disease spreads faster in humid condition
Nature is to start up an open-access scientific journal. The new journal, to be called Scientific Reports, will cover biology, chemistry, the earth sciences and physics.
The story, in the Times Higher Education Supplement, concentrates on the implications for subscription-based journals, but it is interesting also to consider whether this will have any effect on attempts to keep sceptics out of the scientific literature.
Like the Public Library of Science's PLoS ONE journal, Scientific Reports will be entirely open access and will publish every submission deemed by a faster peer-review process to be technologically sound - including those reporting useful negative results.
One wonders if a "faster" peer-review process, 88 pages of peer review correspondence can simply be replaced with the word "No".
Another dodgy green claim that I've looked at from time to time is the environmental and economic benefits of recycling.
In Roger Harrabin's latest piece, we hear once again about the resources expended on recycling, and once again we hear that there is little or no market for all the product of all this spending.
Shifting priorities on waste presents many challenges. Many councils have moved to co-mingled waste in which domestic waste is sent to recycling centres where items are separated by air-blowing machines like giant tumble-driers.
The system is cheaper than separation by hand, but can leave fragments of waste in the wrong recycling streams - glass in paper is a particular problem.
Another challenge is developing markets for recycled materials. The UK waste industry is fragmented with different councils adopting very different approaches.
Environmentalists do love waste don't they?
The Australian Climate Madness site has a level-headed post on the meaning of the floods.
It's difficult for people who don't live in Queensland to understand the volumes of water we're talking about here. This is not some drizzling Victorian rain or misty English weather. This is a proper, tropical summer monsoon rainfall a bit further south than it normally is. The written history of Queensland is only about 200 years long, but it is peppered with tales of huge floods that astound new observers. People see the 1974 markers on buildings around Brisbane and think it can't possibly have happened. The puny infrastructure put in the way of these periodic deluges is nothing compared with the water volumes. It will happen again, at least once per lifetime of the average person. There's nothing that can be done. After all, it's just weather.
Some excellent coverage of the climate change angle to the Queensland floods from Andrew Bolt, including some shameful attempts to exploit the situation by arch-warmist David Karoly. There is a strongly worded rebuttal from another academic, Prof Stewart Franks.
Is it enough for you that your pronouncements sound correct, irrespective of science? Have you learnt nothing?
You are arguably the best example of the corruption of the IPCC process, and the bullshit that academia has sunk to.
Anthony Watts meanwhile points us to evidence that the flood risk was ignored to enable building development to continue.
Paul Hudson has produced a copy of the Met Office's previously unseen "cold winter forecast" - the one that was sent to the cabinet office but was not released to the public.
As Hudson notes, this is supposed to represent the average for December-February, so it wouldn't be expected to show the severity of the weather we experienced before Christmas. I'm not clear on whether those are temperatures or anomalies at the bottom.
So it seems as though there was a forecast of cold weather. Assuming that this was what was handed to the Cabinet Office, we then have the mysterious question as to why the Met Office's website at the time was suggesting that it would be warm.
Something to do with Cancun perhaps?
Autonomous Mind's post on the subject is well worth a look too.
Haunting the Library notes James Hansen's latest tirade against American democracy and his suggestions on how the Chinese dictatorship might "force" Americans to take a different line. As HoL puts it:
The declaration that American ‘democracy’ (as [Hansen] sarcastically refers to it as) cannot cope with climate change, and that the world must look to the Chinese communist dictatorship to “lead” is bound to be controversial.
On a similar note there is this recent article on the Treehugger site, again looking at lovingly at China's programme of rolling energy blackouts and shutdowns of industry:
It's interesting to note the dedication China has displaying in achieving its [energy efficency] target -- shutting down entire operations and even executing rolling blackouts. Surely there would have been some amount of embarrassment for the nation on the world's stage if it had missed its target, but that likely would have been minor. It's worth noting the difference in political culture: What do you think would have happened if the US had such an energy-reduction target to hit, but a sagging economy got in the way?
I can tell you with some certainty: We would have missed that mark.
Reader Grant left this in the comments to the previous post:
I live in Brisbane on high ground. Brisbane is flooding and up to 20,000 properties will be under water by tomorrow. Our major dam is at 190% capacity and they had to release 600,000 megalitres yesterday to just keep it at that. 75% of Queensland has been declared a flood disaster area and that is roughly half a million square kilometres. This is not a disaster anywhere near the order of magnitude of the Boxing Day tsunami or the Haiti earthquake. However people have died and more bodies will be found when search and rescue can find them. They have been swept away.
Delingpole’s article (not written by him) was incorrect in many aspects. Certainly more dams should have been built even if they might have put pressure on the rare lesser spotted tadpole in the catchment area. The Greens of course and local landowners put an end to that and will continue to do so as long as the Greens exist. However more dams wouldn’t have stopped the current severe floods unless an unrealistic number had been built. They may have saved some properties but the rivers do need to flow.
Eventually the waters will recede, bodies will be buried, clean-ups will commence, money will be paid out or borrowed and people will start again. Strangely however, Australian climate scientists have been noticeably absent in the media during these floods. Not on television, newspaper or radio. Not a peep. They were queuing up to get their earnest dials on TV after the hot summer and tragic deaths of the Victorian bushfires. Solemn looks, hand clasping, oh dear, if you’d only listened to us. Of course, they’d predicted this warming and were more than happy to tell us about it.
So have their precipitation predictions had anything to do with their recent camera shyness? Possibly. Here’s Prof Tim Flannery in New Scientist in 2007 –
Over the past 50 years southern Australia has lost about 20 per cent of its rainfall, and one cause is almost certainly global warming. Similar losses have been experienced in eastern Australia, and although the science is less certain it is probable that global warming is behind these losses too........Desalination plants can provide insurance against drought. In Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane, water supplies are so low they need desalinated water urgently, possibly in as little as 18 months. Of course, these plants should be supplied by zero-carbon power sources
IT MAY be time to stop describing south-eastern Australia as gripped by drought and instead accept the extreme dry as permanent… “Perhaps we should call it our new climate,” said the Bureau of Meteorology’s head of climate analysis, David Jones. January 4, 2008
The only uncertainty now was whether the changing pattern was “85 per cent, 95 per cent or 100 per cent the result of the enhanced greenhouse effect”
Note the precision in the probabilities. Very impressive. However, Dr Jones unfortunately appears to suffer from xenophobia. Here’s a communication from Prof Phil Jones (for it is he) gleefully relating in a Climategate email about our Dr David Jones –
2. Had an email from David Jones of BMRC, Melbourne. He said
they are ignoring anybody who has dealings with CA, as there are
threads on it about Australian sites
So Global Warming causes droughts up until a week ago. No doubt they are working on a paper that proves that Global Warming can cause a flood now and then. A peer reviewed article in Nature will appear soon. Data freely available on request except of course to “anyone who has dealings with CA”. That’s the way science is done after all.
Seriously, these two have failed. Failed completely, utterly and abysmally with their climate predictions. After these terrible events abate, these people should be put in front of some sort of panel and held to account for their predictions and asked why they were so wrong. It won’t happen of course but why should anyone give two squirts of guinea pigs piss about their predictions for the future?
Am I pissed off about this? Yes, I am.
Speaking to an audience of government officials, business leaders and NGOs in Jakarta, the Nobel laureate cited devastating floods in Australia and Pakistan and last year’s drought in Russia as evidence that unchecked global warming threatened famine, poverty and wide-scale destruction
Your humble host has spent the last hour trawling the web for interesting global warming snippets with which to regale you this morning...with a complete lack of success. Perhaps global warming has been cancelled for today.
Perhaps it's just me though - it's snowing outside and having not seen green for two months I'm a bit fed up of it.
In the meantime, here's something that pricked my interest on my internet travels - a posting on the Spectator site reporting on a talk given by an economist of the Austrian school. The subject was the reasons for the economic crash. What struck me was not only how odd it is to see an MSM publication addressing heavy topics like Austrian economics, but also how many of the Spectator's readers had responded with comments. There seems to be a real interest, although whether driven by "we aren't taken in by the blame-the-bankers narrative" or just a desire for more demanding material, I can't say.
Al Fin, a new blog to me, takes a look at the amount of money the US taxpayer is spending on climate change this year. It's a big number.
I wonder if they could spare a few bob to update the tree ring data, and in particular the bristlecones?
[I've removed the image showing the breakdown of the numbers, as it appears to have been causing some problems. Follow the link to see a copy]
P Gosselin reports on a sceptic friendly article in the German Focus magazine, covering the recent EIKE conference of sceptics.
The story looks in-depth at the climate conference and the overall atmosphere for skeptics in Germany, but does it fairly, something we are not at all accustomed to from the rest of the hostile media here in the Vaterland.
Damian Carrington is discussing violence over at the GuardianEco blog, inspired (if that is the right word) by events in Arizona. His point is that there are lots of threats of violence around the fringes of the climate debate, and he refers to emails that were apparently sent to Stephen Schneider and Leo Hickman.
Damian is right of course, but I do wonder if he is going to raise the subject of George Monbiot too, the great man having opined thusly?
...every time someone dies as a result of floods in Bangladesh, an airline executive should be dragged out of his office and drowned.
As Damian puts it,
So it's clear that even in issues such as climate change there is an active fringe of people deploying violent rhetoric and hate mail against those with whom they disagree. Could that tip the balance between thought and action in the mind of an unstable individual? It's a worryingly plausible thought.
I find it hard to disagree.
On second thoughts, I don't think I've got this quite right. See update here.