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Sea-ice modellers open up?

An article in Wired magazine recounts how sea-ice modellers are sharing data and methods and are learning from each other in the process. It's not obvious whether the sea-ice community have actually made their data and code open to the world or whether this is just a case of sharing within the community, but it's a step forwards at least.

It's also nice to see Mark Serreze apologising for his role in stirring up scare stories in 2007:

"In hindsight, probably too much was read into 2007, and I would take some blame for that,” Serreze said. “There were so many of us that were astounded by what happened, and maybe we read too much into it.”

If climatologists are now going to eschew scaremongering then that is certainly welcome. It's therefore a pity that the Wired reporter, Alexis Madrigal, begins the piece with the obligatory reference to "record low levels of sea ice in the Arctic". It's not that she's wrong, but just a few months ago sea ice levels were higher than they have been for years, and the more representative global sea ice levels are actually currently above their long-term average.


Christy on the IPCC

Steve M posted a link to the audio of John Christy's presentation to the Interacademies Council a couple of days ago. For those of us who prefer the written word, Marcel Crok has now posted a transcript. You need to scroll through the Dutch to get to Christy's words in English.

I liked this bit:

A fundamental problem with the entire issue here is that climate science is not a classic, experimental science. As an emerging science of a complex, chaotic climate system, it is plagued by uncertainty and ambiguity in both observations and theory. Lacking classic, laboratory results, it easily becomes hostage to opinion, groupthink, arguments-from-authority, overstatement of confidence, and even Hollywood movies.


Spain suspends solar subsidy

Andrew Orlowski reports that the Spanish government is reining back hard on the payments it makes to solar power companies - who are in essence subsidy farmers.

Spanish economist Professor Gabriel Calzada, at the University of Madrid estimated that each green job had cost the country $774,000.

Worse, a "green" job costs 2.2 jobs that might otherwise have been created - a figure Calzada derived by dividing the average subsidy per worker by the average productivity per worker. Industry, which can't afford to pay the higher fuel bills, simply moves elsewhere.




MPs learn science

Newly elected MPs are to be given advice on science. This is because most of them can't tell a test tube from an experimental railway.

And who is going to teach them about this science stuff? Some familiar names:

1. Phil Willis (or Lord Willis as we must now call him) the man who ran applied the first coat of whitewash to CRU.

2. Lord Oxburgh, the man who applied the second coat of whitewash to CRU.

3. John Beddington (soon to be Sir John) the man who chose Lord Oxburgh to gloss over scientific matters

There were some others too - Lord Winston and David Willetts being the two best known names. Muir Russell was said to be otherwise engaged.*

[*I made this last bit up]


New...scientist, did you say?

What can you say about New Scientist? 

There's a bit in the Rational Optimist which discusses coral reefs and the greek chorus that claims they are all going to disappear because of ocean acidification. Acidification is not really the issue says our Optimist - there are much bigger problems:

Coral reefs... are suffering horribly from pollution, silt, nutrient run-off and fishing - especially the harvesting of herbivorous fishes that otherwise keep reefs clean of algae.

And what has New Scientist writer Liz Else got to say about this? Well, she accuses the Optimist of failing `to recognize that there is more to the health of corals than the amount of bicarbonate [i.e. acidification].

Standards are not what they were at New Scientist, are they?




Russell review due July 7

An announcement has gone up on the Russell review website.

The publication date for the Independent Climate Change E-mails Review report has been set for 7 July. Full details of publication arrangements will be given nearer the time.


On consensus

Some days ago I posted a short quote from a forthcoming paper by Mike Hulme. This is it:

Claims such as ‘2,500 of the world’s leading scientists have reached a consensus that human activities are having a significant influence on the climate’ are disingenuous. That particular consensus judgement, as are many others in the IPCC reports, is reached by only a few dozen experts in the specific field of detection and attribution studies; other IPCC authors are experts in other fields.

Click to read more ...


Andy Russell on the Hockey Stick

Andy Russell, a climatologist from Manchester, has written a brief history of the Hockey Stick. He says he hasn't read the Hockey Stick Illusion, which is a pity because he hasn't really moved things forward at all. There are many things he gets wrong that are covered in the book.

I've suggested he gets hold of a copy.

(Andy's piece is not inflamatory and I hope anyone commenting there will reply in the same vein).


When Trevor tricked John

Among the extra information released by Professor Beddington's office today, there were also some attachments to a message sent to him by Professor Trevor Davies of UEA. The message itself was released last time round, sans attachments, so I wrote back requesting the missing detail. They have apologised that the attachments "had become disconnected from the IT record".

The message concerned was the one in which Davies invited Beddington to "warm up" certain panel members before they received their official invitations to take part in the Oxburgh inquiry. Having made this request of Beddington, and explained the need for speed, Davies continued as follows:

For background I attach (1) a draft letter which will be sent to David [Hand, one of the panellists] by Ron [Oxburgh] (2) a list of papers we anticipate will be examined.

The letter is essentially just the invitation. I don't see anything of interest. The list of papers meanwhile is more intriguing. It can be seen here. While the papers mentioned appear to be identical to the versions seen previously (although I've not checked them in detail), at the bottom there are some words I hadn't seen before:

These key publications have been selected because of their pertinence to the specific criticisms which have been levelled against CRU's research findings as a result of the theft of emails.

Oh dear.


The boy played a blinder

Professor John Beddington, or Sir John as we must start learning to call him soon, was the man who suggested Lord Oxburgh as the head of the inquiry into UEA's scientific oeuvre (or at least those parts that were likely to be uncontroversial.

As readers here know, I have previously obtained some of Professor Beddington's emails under FoI and I've now obtained one more.

It's pretty interesting.

It was sent on the afternoon after the publication of the Oxburgh report.

Click to enlarge

This is the text:

Dear Ron

Much appreciated the hard work put into the review, general view is a blinder played. As we discussed at HoL, clearly the drinks are on me!

Best wishes, John


Fred Pearce at the RI

Here is a fuller report on Fred Pearce's lecture at the Royal Institution, courtesy of reader, Atomic Hairdryer.

The Climate Files; The battle for the truth about global warming

Royal Institute 14th June

Audio archive here.

Speakers: Fred Pearce, Dr Myles Allen, Dr Adam Corner
Host: Damian Carrington of The Guardian

A smaller audience than for the Pielke lecture, with the theatre roughly half full with what looked to be a lot of journalists. The event was also filmed.

Click to read more ...


Murray-Rust on Pearce

Peter Murray-Rust, a Cambridge chemist who is also a bigwig in the Open Knowledge Foundation, has written a report on Fred Pearce's presentation at the Royal Institution last night.

As far as I can tell, Fred's book is going to conclude that CRU scientists didn't do anything bad, and he certainly seems to have persuaded Peter of his case:

I would agree from his analysis that there is no “smoking gun” and that many of the emails were unfortunate rather than malicious.

However, Peter concludes also that there are serious issues over data availability. I particularly liked this:

Climate research appears to have generated a priesthood which controls the release of information. For a science with global implications this is not acceptable.

Some common ground at least then.

This was interesting too:

My superficial analysis is that the CR community has retreated into defensive mode and has not changed its communication methods or interaction with the community. This is perhaps understandable given the hostility and publicity of much of the media coverage and further comment (and UEA has put a ban on staff speaking on the issue). Such bans can recoil, as it is then easier to believe there is something to hide. It may be difficult, but it seems essential to radically overhaul the governance and communication.

I think this would explain why my emails to UEA's Paul Dennis have gone unanswered.


M&M honoured by CEI

Steve McIntyre and Ross McKitrick have been honoured with this year's Julian Simon Memorial Award by the Competitive Enterprise Institute. The Hockey Stick Illusion gets a mention in the press release too.

Anthony Watts has the story.


Ring-fenced spending

SIR – The British embassy in Bangkok is advertising in the local press for a climate change officer, which involves working with colleagues in other British embassies in south-east Asia, and reporting to a team leader based in Singapore.

It is comforting to know that such vital positions have escaped the spending cuts.

Letter in the Telegraph


HoC Climate change committee notes the appointment of chairmen to the select committees of the UK's House of Commons. This one is striking...

Energy and climate change committee - Tim Yeo (Con)

Yeo has easily made the transition from the environmental audit committee, which he chaired in the last parliament, after that committee's chair passed to Labour hands. He beat Philip Hollobone despite declaring an impressive range of interests, including a non-executive directorship of Groupe Eurotunnel, a non-executive chairmanship of AFC Energy and a consultant role for Regenesis.

It is very hard to look an anything that goes on at Westminster without getting a faint whiff of something unpleasant.