Paul Dennis left this comment on the Suspicious Mind thread:
...yesterday the UEA did receive a FOIA request for copies of all my correspondence, email and mail, between myself and McIntyre, Condon, Watts, Mosher and Fuller. This is an interesting list of names. It's public knowledge that I had sent maybe 10 emails to McIntyre over the past 4 or 5 years some of these asking about the climategate release of emails, 1 email to Condon sending him a copy of my paper on the Gomez Glacier which had relevance for his work on Antarctic temperatures, particularly with reference to the lower Peninsula. It's not, as far as I know, on the public record that I had a very brief correspondence with Tom Fuller immediately after climategate. This amounted to 2, maybe 3 emails. To my recollection I have never corresponded with Mosher or Watts. I have never spoken, or written by any other means with any of the named correspondents.
Philipp Mueller, who is Benny Peiser's deputy at GWPF, has written an excellent short paper about the recent greening of the Sahel.
The Sahara is actually shrinking, with vegetation arising on land where there was nothing but sand and rocks before. The southern border of the Sahara has been retreating since the early 1980s, making farming viable again in what were some of the most arid parts of Africa. There has been a spectacular regeneration of vegetation in northern Burkina Faso, which was devastated by drought and advancing deserts 20 years ago. It is now growing so much greener that families who fled to wetter coastal regions are starting to come back. There are now more trees, more grassland for livestock and a 70% increase in yields of local cereals such sorghum and millet in recent years. Vegetation has also increased significantly in the past 15 years in southern Mauritania, north-western Niger, central Chad, much of Sudan and parts of Eritrea. In Burkina Faso and Mali, production of millet rose by 55 percent and 35 percent, respectively, since 1980. Satellite photos, taken between 1982 and 2002, revealed the extensive re-greening throughout the Sahel. Aerial photographs and interviews with local people have confirmed the increase in vegetation.
I wonder what the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report had to say about the Sahel?
Here's an odd thing. Some weeks back I noticed that Gregory Barker, the Climate Change minister, had met with representatives of the Electricity Retailers Association to discuss "information on consumers' bills".
To me this seemed rather odd - why would electricity retailers need to discuss the information on bills with ministers? Perhaps Mr Barker wanted to insist that some information was passed on to consumers?
An FOI request later, I discover that the meeting was at the request of ERA itself - it appears that they asked to speak to ministers about a number of issues - Fuel Poverty, the Green Deal, the Community Energy Saving Programme and the Carbon Emissions Reduction Target. Putting this together with DECC's record that "information on consumers' bills" was discussed, I conclude that ERA wanted to make the costs of these government programmes transparent.
Unfortunately, I can only infer this because according to DECC, no record was kept of the meeting.
Hilary Ostrov has a fascinating post in which she examines the way UEA's message developed in the weeks after Climategate and thinks she perceives the point at which the Outside Organisation became involved.
Ross McKitrick has a new discussion paper out. This is an extension to the McKitrick, McIntyre and Herman paper that came out last year. In the earlier paper, MMH found evidence that climate models were overstating warming, particularly for observations that were right up to date. The new paper looks at the so-called "Pacific Climate Shift" of 1977-8 and develops a new method to determine confidence intervals when this shift is taken into account in the statistical model.
As our empirical findings show, the detection of a trend in the tropical lower- and midtroposphere data over the 1958-2010 interval is contingent on the decision of whether or not to include a mean-shift term at January 1978. If the term is included, a time trend regression with error terms robust to autocorrelation of unknown form indicates that the trend observed over the 1958-2010 interval is not statistically significant in either the LT or MT layers. Most climate models predict a larger trend over this interval than is observed in the data. We find a statistically significant mismatch between climate model trends and observational trends whether the meanshift term is included or not. However, with the shift term included the null hypothesis of equal trend is rejected at much smaller significance levels (much more significant).
Or in Ross's layman's terms summary:
Controlling for the 1977 Pacific Climate Shift we find the trends are insignificant from 1958-2010 and the discrepancy with climate models is highly significant.
Research published last week in the US journal Science found that not only could bioethanol replace petrol with big energy savings, it would produce up to 15% less greenhouse gas emissions.
Turning corn into ethanol is not environmentally sound," said Bill Freese of the Centre for Food Safety. "It's really an environmental disaster."
Once again, we see that environmentalism is very bad for the environment and that its combination with big government can bring about catastrophe.
A climatological tiff has broken out between some members of the Italian-American community. David Castelvecchi is singularly unimpressed with Joe Bastardi's recent appearance on Fox News.
The most jarring part however came later, when Bastardi commented that he didn’t believe CO2 emissions could ever affect the climate. Unfortunately, Bastardi’s argument was based on what seemed to be poor understanding of basic physics, including thermodynamics and atmospheric physics.
I must say that if JB really did say that the greenhouse effect breaks the first law of thermodynamics then there may well be a case to answer. Not that Castelvecchi's article is much to write home about in terms of dispassionate analysis.
Today I was in Edinburgh for a talk by the education reformer Katharine Birbalsingh. This was one very passionate lady - there was an intensity to her that at times verged on the frightening. But there was no doubt that she had the measure of the problems in the education system. I was struck by the point she repeatedly made that good ideas were being rejected by middle class liberals and the education establishment simply because they were ideas being pushed by conservatives. As she seemed to be saying "I hate the Tories" is a slogan that comes with a heavy price tag attached, and it is a price that is largely being borne by poor people in the inner cities.
The solution, in the Birbalsingh view, is free schools - independently run state schools operating free from local government control. She may be right, but I have my doubts as to whether this is going to be enough.
The Royal Society is continuing its project on open science, with a "policy lab" at the start of next month:
In the wake of ‘Climategate’, a Lancet editorial warned that the call for UEA climate scientists to make their research more transparent was a wake-up call for all researchers. “If scientists do not adapt to the forces shaping and sustaining this revolution in the public culture of science, the trust that the public and politicians put in science will be jeopardised.
A year on, the Royal Society have launched a study looking at how science can open up: ‘Science as a public enterprise‘. This requires understanding what forms of access are required, and to what ends. A blanket policy on access to scientific information does not take into account the diverse demands being made on scientists. Nor does it take into account the massive datasets, complex models and specialist equipment involved in much of modern science. Opening up science is not a simple task, but a challenge that requires discussion and debate.
Geoffrey Boulton will be speaking on the purposes of opening up science. More details can be seen here.
When pondering the ethical contortions of the various inquiries into the Climatic Research Unit, I sometimes wonder whether there was ever any chance of anyone being found guilty of anything. As Doug Keenan has pointed out, there are tens of thousands of scientists in the UK and none has been found guilty of research fraud in the last twenty years. The idea that the scientific community here is populated entirely by choirs of seraphim and cherubim is, of course, not credible, so we are left to conclude that bad behaviour by scientists is, in the normal run of things, completely ignored. And it's not just the scientists, of course. It has been pointed out that only 18 teachers have been fired in England in the last 40 years.
A snippet from Damian Thompson's blog at the Telegraph:
This week, I met a 17‑year-old pupil from a girls’ public school that, in the past, has been more famous for turning out Sloaney husband-hunters than for filling its pupils with useless scientific facts. But the stereotype is out of date, it seems. The GCSE syllabus ranges far and wide, taking in the physics, chemistry, biology, geopolitics, economics and ethics of climate change. In English lessons, girls “debate” (ie, heartily endorse) the proposition that global warming will kill us all. And guess what topic has been chosen for French conversation?
But parents shouldn’t worry that their girls will turn into eco-loons. “Honestly,” says my informant, “we’re all, like, sooo bored with climate change. I can’t wait to leave school to escape.”