These videos of a conference run by the Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences popped up on one of my Google alerts. There's a lot to see but it's all interesting stuff.
First up is a presentation by Tim Palmer, an Oxford climate modeller, who is particularly interesting on the large biases in climate models and the "misleading" way these are dealt with in "some reports".
Apparently climate change is to be removed from the UK's national curriculum, with it being left up to schools as to whether they teach anything about it or not.
Tim Oates, whose wide-ranging review of the curriculum for five- to 16-year-olds will be published later this year, said it should be up to schools to decide whether – and how – to teach climate change, and other topics about the effect scientific processes have on our lives.
In an interview with the Guardian, Oates called for the national curriculum "to get back to the science in science". "We have believed that we need to keep the national curriculum up to date with topical issues, but oxidation and gravity don't date," he said. "We are not taking it back 100 years; we are taking it back to the core stuff. The curriculum has become narrowly instrumentalist."
This is undoubtedly correct, although those who see schools as an opportunity to indoctrinate children with their own views are undoubtedly going to squeal a great deal. Mind you, as someone who finds the whole idea of a national curriculum rather Orwellian, I can't get too excited about the news.
This is all getting rather interesting. Some very numerate people have been looking at Phil Jones' claim about statistical significance in the temperature records and the consensus seems to be that Jones has got it wrong.
First out of the blocks was Doug Keenan, who noted in the comments here that using the methodology described in Jones' IPCC chapter and data to the end of 2010, the confidence interval for the temperature trend still covered zero.
Roger Helmer, the sceptic MEP, has published a new book entitled Sceptic at Large. The Hockey Stick Illusion gets a mention.
As a former mathematician, I know very well that you don’t prove a theorem by pulling a rabbit out of a hat and asking other mathematicians to believe you. On the contrary, you set out every logical detail of your reasoning from first principles to final conclusion, line-by-line, and you welcome challenges and new insights from other specialists. Only then can you write QED (Quod Erat Demonstrandum) at the end of your proof.
It’s a long story, but Macintyre and McKitrick were finally vindicated, not least by a US Congressional Committee in 2006 under the Chairmanship of Ed Wegman, arguably the most prominent statistician in the US. And the problem is more one of statistics than of climatology. I don’t know if Mann is a good climatologist or not, but the statistical techniques he applied to his data sets were fundamentally unsound. For those who would like to understand the murky detail of this long-running dispute, which is central to the climate debate, I recommend A.W. Montford’s book “The Hockey Stick Illusion”.
Helmer's book is to be launched on 14 June in London at 32 Smith Square. Apparently BH readers are welcome to attend - just mention the blog at the door and you will get a free copy of RH's book.
Mark Lynas has a must-read article about the impact of wind farms on bird populations. This quote from an Oxford biologist is just one of the memorable moments...
I think wind farms are potentially the biggest disaster for birds of prey since the days of persecution by gamekeepers, and I think wind farms are one of the biggest threats to European and North American bats since large scale deforestation. The impacts are already becoming serious for white-tailed eagles in Europe, as is abundantly clear in Norway. A wind farm – built despite opposition from ornithologists – has decimated an important population, killing 40 white-tailed eagles in about 5 years and 11 of them in 2010. The last great bustard in the Spanish province of Cadiz was killed by a wind development. In my experience, some “greens” are in complete denial of these impacts, or hopefully imagine that these bats and birds can take big losses: they can’t because they breed very slowly.
The question that readers will no doubt want to ask is this: how much responsibility does Mark Lynas bear for this disaster?
Tony at Harmless Sky is highlighting a new planning document introduced by the Welsh Assembly, which will allow windfarms to be built in national parks. There is a petition afoot to try to stop it.
Sir John Houghton and George Monbiot both live in Wales if I recall correctly.
Tony emails to point out that the document is not new, but that it is having an increasing effect.
Nigel Lawson takes potshots at the UK coalition government's environmental policies in the pages of the Mail,
In a devastating verdict he writes: ‘The Government’s highly damaging decarbonisation policy, enshrined in the absurd Climate Change Act, does not have a leg to stand on. It is intended, at massive cost, to be symbolic: To make good David Cameron’s ambition to make his administration “the greenest government ever”.
‘My dictionary defines green as “unripe, immature, undeveloped”.’
Phil Jones has announced that post-1995 warming is now "significant", with new data changing the picture he had previously reported to Roger Harrabin. The news comes via Richard Black, in one of those "we don't want anyone disputing this, so we've switched commenting off" articles.
By widespread convention, scientists use a minimum threshold of 95% to assess whether a trend is likely to be down to an underlying cause, rather than emerging by chance.
If a trend meets the 95% threshold, it basically means that the odds of it being down to chance are less than one in 20.
Last year's analysis, which went to 2009, did not reach this threshold; but adding data for 2010 takes it over the line.
I wonder what he makes of the Koutsoyiannis paper then?
Richard Lindzen outlines the steps taken to prevent his recent paper with Choi being published in PNAS.
The rejection of the present paper required some extraordinary violations of accepted practice. We feel that making such procedures public will help clarify the peculiar road blocks that have been created in order to prevent adequate discussion of fundamental issues. It is hoped, moreover, that the material presented here can offer the interested public some insight into what is involved in the somewhat mysterious though widely (if inappropriately) respected process of peer review.
One prominent mainstream climate scientist told me that I knew "perfectly well" that accusations of climate gatekeeping were baseless. It doesn't really look that way to me.
The Royal Society meeting seems to have been very interesting, with some interesting feedback from Richard Drake, Doug Keenan and Josh.
I'm intrigued by some of the things we have learned about Paul Nurse - that he thought he had been critical of CRU for not being open with their data, that the Horizon programme was fair and balanced and that he was stung by criticism of it.
A visiting journalist once asked the director of a famous research institute: " How many scientists work in your laboratory?"
The director reflected for a moment and then replied "Less than half".
From Nigel Calder's Technopolis
Sue Cameron, writing in the FT takes a look at Andrew Turnbull's report for GWPF.
Calling for “an end to alarmist propaganda”, Lord Turnbull says: “I am disappointed that so many of my former colleagues in the civil service seem so ready to go along unquestioningly with the consensus.”
So is he right? “It’s simply not true – Andrew’s got it wrong,” protested one senior figure. He added that officials covering transport, business and energy were being “very forceful” about curbing the greener instincts of Chris “Nul Points” Huhne, the climate change secretary.
Let us hope he is right that some senior officials are taking a sceptical view of the green agenda. Whether Lord Turnbull’s suspicions about his former colleagues are misplaced or not, he is right to call for more open-mindedness in Whitehall and less reliance on the prevailing orthodoxy.
H/T Benny Peiser
More in the Mail, with Turbull and Benny Peiser taking aim at the government's green policies. They've got a picture of the wrong Lord Turnbull though.
Cameron Neylon is tweeting from today's ROyal Society meeting on "Science as a public enterprise". A couple of BH readers are there, so I hope to get some more detailed reports of what was said too.
Here are some highlights from the twitterers
"The focus on publication - of paper and data - is too narrow."- William Dotton, OII