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Monbiot on reality

While many people have assumed that George Monbiot would always remain an overgrown teenager, his recent outpourings seems to have at least a whiff of maturity and even a newfound willingness to engage with the world as it actually is. Monbiot's column on Monday has attracted much attention (Judith Curry here, Anthony Watts here) and there is now a follow-up piece looking at the same areas.

Environmentalism is stuck – factional and uncertain even of the goals we seek. But we must face facts and engage with reality.

Of course many people have been saying that environmentalists were delusional for years, but I'm sure we were denounced for doing so.


More on disasters

Anthony Watts has picked up the Houghton quotes story, and I thought it was worth expanding on what makes me uneasy about these links between disasters and global warming.

It seems clear to me that the original misquoted version hinted that Sir John was in favour of inventing catastrophes. His true words don't carry anything of that meaning.

The question then become one of whether his true words suggest creating links between disasters and global warming. Again, I'm not sure they do. A commenter here points out the rest of the quote in which Sir John says

It’s like safety on public transport. The only way humans will act is if there’s been an accident.

Click to read more ...


Huh Czar

Another great comic strip from Fenbeagle, this time taking aim at Chris Huhne. Do take a look at the whole thing.


UEA Chancellor's emails

Someone - not me - has got hold of the Climategate emails of UEA's Chancellor, Brandon Gough. This is a slightly odd choice of target, as university Chancellors are usually figureheads as far as I know.

However, it did throw up two things: one trivial but odd, the other just rather funny.

The trivial-but-odd thing is that a whole host of Spanish universities wrote to Brandon Gough in the wake of Climategate pledging their undying support. I would have waited for the investigation to finish myself.

Secondly, a rather amusing job application sent to Gough shortly after the emails hit the internet:

Dear Sir,

I am inquiring about the possibility of employment at the University.

I was recently sacked from my previous job for conspiring to distort company figures. Before that I was fired for gross incompetence and for losing critical corporate data; and before that for attempting to corrupt audits by getting my mates assigned to the role, and for attempting to cover-up my dishonesty by criminally inciting others to delete incriminating files and emails.

I was thinking maybe something in your Climate Research Unit, but I'm concerned I
may be over-qualified.

I also have two convictions for fraud. Is this enough?

Please advise soonest.

Yours Sincerely,


Watch with care

Some readers may be familiar with the name of Dr Gabrielle Walker. It was Dr Walker who co-wrote The Hot Topic with Sir David King - the global warming book with a whole new "hide the decline" graph in.

I notice that Dr Walker has been commissioned to front a BBC TV programme about the science of ice.

One to watch...(carefully). 

Also coming up in the BBC's new season are a series about the science of the weather and a show called What's the Point of Satellites?, (to which the answer is probably "to promote global warming").



Ridley and Dyson on shale

Matt Ridley has written a report on shale gas for GWPF. This is an excellent, even-handed look at the pros and cons of this new energy source.

It's hard not to come away with the impression that shale gas is pretty benign compared to the alternatives. For example, the footprint of a shale well is amazingly small...

Click to read more ...


Plodding along

Last night I had a response to an FOI request to Norfolk Police for financial information relating to the UEA emails inquiry. I asked for costs per month for the investigation, expecting these to show a tailing-off over the period since Climategate.

Imagine my surprise then, to be sent this:

I wonder what happened in November 2010? A big anniversary party perhaps? :-) These could be big lumps of periodic recharges from external bodies - perhaps NDET? Your guess is as good as mine.


SciTech on peer review

The House of Commons inquiry into peer review is live streaming from 10:15 this morning. I will not be able to watch, so reports and comments are particularly welcome.

The stream should be here.


Exit stage left, Huhne...?

Guido Fawkes reckons that Chris Huhne could stand down as the UK's Energy and Climate Change Secretary at the cabinet meeting on Friday, with (relative) right-winger David Laws favourite to replace him.


Climate catastrophe deja vu

Sir John Houghton once famously said:

Unless we announce disasters, no one will listen.

Except actually he didn't say that. His real words were:

“If we want a good environmental policy in the future we’ll have to have a disaster.”

Now, in an eerie echo of the learned Sir John, we have the words of Robert Stavins, the head of Harvard's Environmental Economics program

It’s unlikely that the U.S. is going to take serious action on climate change until there are observable, dramatic events, almost catastrophic in nature, that drive public opinion and drive the political process in that direction


Me at Nuclear Street

A brief interview with me is up at the Nuclear Street website. "Raw, uncut and uncensored" it says.


Sheppard on Sheppard

Kate Sheppard is interviewed about her recent article about Climategate at the Energy Now blog.


An interview with Phil Jones

Harold Ambler, a journalist who has written a forthcoming book about global warming entitled "Don't Sell Your Coat", was lucky enough to get an interview with Phil Jones several months before Climategate and he has published some of the details at his website.

This is definitely a "read the whole thing" article, but to whet your appetite, here is an excerpt that I rather enjoyed:

One other reason Jones offered for refusing to share data appeared bizarre, to say the least:

I will say one more thing. Have you considered this issue from a perspective of a Met Service in Africa or South America. I have been told by people from these Met Services that one of the reasons they restrict access to data is that scientists in Europe and North America use their data to further their own scientific ends. This is a sort of data imperialism. They get nothing back and think of themselves as mere data collectors. They want to improve the lot of their scientists. I am able to help a few of them with grants to come and do MSc and PhD courses here at UEA, but it is only a few.

I take Jones at his word here, but it has been a matter of some surprise that he has not mentioned these issues in dealing with other journalists. More to the point, alluding to the plight of underprivileged meteorologists as a means of explaining why data sharing should not be moved forward as expeditiously as possible is, for lack of a better word, weird.


Climate-no-science now with Kaos! - Josh 97


Procuring a short but fleshy paper

I was thinking about Sarah Muckherjee's comments about NGOs funding climate science, which still seems a bit odd to me: if I recall correctly various people have looked at CRU's funding and seen no signs of NGO money. However, I then came across this email in the Climategate file (No 1060196763).

To: [L. Grass and Klaus Hasselmann both at DKRZ in Germany, Per Carstedt at something called Ecosystem in Sweden, someone called Mueller at a group called Ermine at Oxford, Michael Grubb of Imperial, London, Joyeeta Gupta of the Free University of the Netherlands, Carlo Jaeger and Martin Welp of the Potsdam Institute, Bert Metz at the National Institute for Health and Environment of the Netherlands, Mike Hulme of UEA,  and a few WWF guys]

Subject: economic costs of european heat wave

Date: Wed, 06 Aug 2003 15:06:03 +0200

Cc: [Lots of WWF people]

dear all,

i think we all have seen [if not commented on] the devastating heat wave presently in europe - gives us a feeling on truly global warming. WWF has assured some money - a few thousand EUROS what is not much to be honest but at least a start - to ask an economist with climate policy understanding to assess in a short but fleshy paper [max 10 pages] the economic costs of these weather extremes in europe. This can be put in context with the mitigation costs of ambitious climate policies which are often quoted as a barrier to clean technologies unfortunately. I think, we as an NGO working on climate policy need such a document pretty soon for the public and for informed decision makers in order to get a) a debate started and b) in order to get into the media the context between climate extremes/desasters/costs and finally the link between weather extremes and energy - just the solutions parts what still is not communicated at all.

In short, can you advise us on a competent author who is readily available [can be one of you, of course], to bring together the conventionally accessible costs of reduced transport loads on rivers, in railway networks, forest fires, disruption of water supply and irrigation, closure of hydro power and even nuclear in some locations, health costs, agricultural failures [if accessible] etc etc etc...resulting from the heat wave?

Of course, i could not sent this e-mail to all competent sceintists, so fell free to share please and come back to me - at best ASAP

many regards

stephan singer


Stephan Singer

Head of European Climate and Energy Policy Unit

WWF, the conservation organization

I wonder who finally wrote the paper for WWF and I wonder if WWF's involvement was disclosed.