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Sunday
Jan022011

Supercomputers

Autonomous Mind has interviewed Joe Bastardi and Piers Corbyn about the use of supercomputers in long-range weather forecasting. I liked Joe's last word on the subject:

It’s not the computer, it’s the limits of the computer in  trying to adjust to what only men can understand and use. I dont think you need more money to arrive at the wrong answer faster. Should put it into fighting hunger, or giving men a chance to be free enough to dream and pursue that dream… much better causes in my opinion.

Sunday
Jan022011

More cold

The BBC is reporting that ten ships and 600 mariners have been trapped by sea ice in the Sea of Okhotsk. Apparently it's minus 22 out there at the moment.

 

 

Sunday
Jan022011

Greens distance themselves from wind power

The leading Scottish environmental group, the John Muir Trust, have described wind power as a scandal and called for an urgent review. The story is on the front page of today's Sunday Times. More details are available from Rob Schneider.

Sunday
Jan022011

Lack of historical perspective

Two excerpts from posts at Haunting the Library.

First, Michael Oppenheimer, the enviroscientist:

‘I bought a sled in ’96 for my daughter,” said Dr. Michael Oppenheimer, a scientist at the nonprofit Environmental Defense Fund. ”It’s been sitting in the stairwell, and hasn’t been used. I used to go sledding all the time. It’s one of my most vivid and pleasant memories as a kid, hauling the sled out to Cunningham Park in Queens.”

Next Edward Gibbon, from the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire:

The great rivers which covered the Roman provinces, the Rhine and the Danube, were frequently frozen over, and capable of supporting the most enormous weights. The barbarians, who often chose that severe season for their inroads, transported, without apprehension or danger, their numerous armies, their cavalry, and their heavy wagons, over a vast and solid bridge of ice. Modern ages have not presented an instance of a like phenomenon.

Saturday
Jan012011

Briggs on doommongers

Matt Briggs has been reading that Fox piece on doommongers and is charmed by Messrs Erlich, Viner et al.

In a way, Erlich’s, Viner’s, and the other gentlemen’s bald assertions of faultlessness in the face of adverse actuality is charming. You have to love a guy who is never right but sticks to his guns. He does so because his core beliefs—the theories and hypotheses that drive his predictions—are just too pretty to give up. He cherishes his theories, he pets them and speaks softly to them, he lavishes gifts on them and upon others who can appreciate the same beauty he sees—and he savages those who would call them ugly. 

Saturday
Jan012011

Telegraph letters

Two letters to the Telegraph from familiar faces today. First Bob Ward takes a pot-shot at Booker for questioning the integrity of the Climatic Research Unit.

SIR – Christopher Booker (December 26) claims that emails from the University of East Anglia “showed how the little group of scientists at the heart of the IPCC had been prepared to bend their data and to suppress any dissent from warming orthodoxy”.

Independent inquiries led by the Commons Science and Technology Committee, Sir Muir Russell, Lord Oxburgh, and the US Environmental Protection Agency found such allegations to be untrue.

Mr Booker stated that “much of the northern hemisphere” in 2007 suffered “the winter from hell”. In fact, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the average temperature in the northern hemisphere for the boreal winter in 2007-8 was the 14th highest since records began, and 0.36C above the standard reference average for 1961-90.

He also claimed that the boreal winters in the northern hemisphere in 2008-9 and 2009-10 were “colder still”, when they were, respectively, the 8th and 9th warmest on record.

Bob Ward
Grantham Research Institute
London School of Economics
London WC2

Then Tim Worstall considers yet another piece of government lunacy, this time centred around the recommendations of the Stern report.

SIR – Having read the Stern Review, the various IPCC reports and multitudes of economic papers on what to do about the entire problem, assuming we accept that there is such a problem, it is clear that the policies being recommended by those experts are: a carbon tax, or a cap-and-trade system, or subsidies to new technologies.

All of the economists say the same thing. Any one of the three are viable and whole solutions.

Cap-and-trade limits emissions; a carbon tax provides the incentive to reduce them to the needed level; and subsidies will replace emitting with non-emitting sources of energy.

So now my question: having hired Lord Stern at some expense, having analysed his recommendations at presumably greater, why is the Government now insisting at gargantuan expense in doing what Lord Stern said we should not do?

We only need to choose one of the three – rather than be charged thrice to do all of them.

Tim Worstall
Messines, Portugal

Saturday
Jan012011

Kontradictory Kukla

Climatologist George Kukla finds evidence of an impending ice age in 1974:

When Climatologist George J. Kukla of Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory and his wife Helena analyzed satellite weather data for the Northern Hemisphere, they found that the area of the ice and snow cover had suddenly increased by 12% in 1971 and the increase has persisted ever since. Areas of Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic, for example, were once totally free of any snow in summer; now they are covered year round.

Climatologist George Kukla finds evidence for global warming in 1981

They found that the typical summer ice pack had decreased about 35 percent, by 2.5 million square kilometers, or about 1 million square miles from 1973 to 1980. The Antarctic ice cover was also found to be considerably lighter than shown in atlases published in 1957 and 1966 and in the ship reports from the 1930's. This was taken as an indirect measure of higher temperatures.

(H/T Glyn Ferguson)

Saturday
Jan012011

Slingo on climate models

There is an interesting interview with Julia Slingo at Nature's website at the moment. No mention of climate change, but the twin spectres of Pakistan floods and Russian warmth doing service in its place as a means to drum up support for the Met Office's hoped-for new supercomputer. Scaremongering has served the weather/climate community for so long, I guess it's hard to break the habit.

What's the biggest obstacle to creating better, hazard-relevant weather forecasts?

Access to supercomputers. The science is well ahead of our ability to implement it. It's quite clear that if we could run our models at a higher resolution we could do a much better job — tomorrow — in terms of our seasonal and decadal predictions. It's so frustrating. We keep saying we need four times the computing power. We're talking just 10 or 20 million a year — dollars or pounds — which is tiny compared to the damage done by disasters. Yet it's a difficult argument to win. You just think: why is this so hard?

I'm sure I read somewhere recently that there is no guarantee that climate models at high resolution will be any better than what we have now. Can anyone recall having seen something like that?

Saturday
Jan012011

Condensing boilers

North has an interesting piece (H/T Autonomous Mind) about the widespread failure of condensing boilers in the UK this winter and last. The problems have been caused by the condensate pipes freezing up in cold weather. Unfortunately condensing boilers seem to have been pushed hard by the government in one of their fits of eco-madness.

A few years back I discussed condensing boilers with a local plumber - an Englishman - who couldn't understand the Scottish fixation on combi boilers. Now I wonder if perhaps the Scots didn't just know something he didn't.

Saturday
Jan012011

The Greenhouse Conspiracy

I'm sure many of my readers have seen this 1990 documentary on the greenhouse effect - sort of an early version of the Great Global Warming Swindle - but it's the first time I've seen it.

I was struck firstly by how shifty-eyed Tom Wigley and John Mitchell come across, particularly when Wigley is asked about funding at around 46 mins. If you don't want to invest the time in the full video, this is the excerpt to watch.

Then there is the clear statement by the late Reginald Newell that he had his funding cut because of he had published a paper that undermined the greenhouse theory.

It's all rather amazing how little the debate has moved on in twenty years.

Friday
Dec312010

The naked climatologist?

Now available for 2011, the University of East Anglia Naked Calendar.

Whether any residents of CRU have volunteered to appear is regrettably unclear. However, information on getting a copy here, although it looks like it may be unavailable except in person. Proceeds are for the St John Ambulance Society.

Friday
Dec312010

Veiled threats of violence

According to a commenter on the Skeptical Science website, I permit veiled threats of violence by my commenters.

Anyone know what they're talking about?

Friday
Dec312010

HtL on winter temperatures

Haunting the Library has dug out a wonderful statement from NASA back in 1999:

Why are winters warming up so much faster over Northern Hemisphere continents than over the rest of the globe? A new study by NASA researchers in the June 3 issue of the journal Nature is the first to link the well-documented large degree of North America and Eurasia winter warming and the associated wind changes to rising greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere.

Do read the whole thing. And when you are done, take a look at this rather wonderful article on the Fox News website, which revisits a number of alarmist claims from the past. I particularly liked this one:

By the year 2000 the United Kingdom will be simply a small group of impoverished islands, inhabited by some 70 million hungry people ... If I were a gambler, I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000."

Ehrlich, Speech at British Institute For Biology, September 1971.

Friday
Dec312010

Revkin on Steig and O'Donnell

Andy Revkin looks at O'Donnell et al's recent improvement on/rebuttal of Steig et al, the 2009 paper that suggested that the whole of the Antarctic was warming. Revkin sees the appearance of the rebuttal as reinforcing his faith in the peer review process, a marked contrast to the views of Richard Smith, which were discussed here a couple of days back.

Thursday
Dec302010

A hundred years of freezing

Professor Mike Lockwood says that even in a warming world we could have one or two centuries of frigid winters to come here in the UK. He even says it with a straight face.