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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.


Windfarms paid to switch off

From the Sunday Times (not online; via commenters)

Wind farm operators in Scotland were paid nearly £900,000 to keep their turbines idle for a night because the National Grid did not need the power.

The payments, up to 20 times the value of the power the wind farms would have produced, were offered by the National Grid because it urgently needed to reduce electricity entering the system.
It was oversupplied with power on a wet and blustery night last month when demand for electricity was low.

The National Grid confirmed it had made the payments. “On the night of April 5 and 6, the demand for power was low but the nuclear generation plants in Scotland were running as expected. There was also heavy rainfall, which meant hydro power plants were operating well, too,” a spokesman said.


Slightly scary robot


Climate-no-science - Josh 96

Inspired by a hilarious post at WUWT about a Chemistry Kit with NO CHEMICALS! It reminds one of another area of 'science'...

More Cartoons by Josh here



Climate data quality improvement

As if there weren't enough problems with climate data already, the latest bright idea from CAGW subscribers is to use opinion polls to measure climate change. I kid you not...

The journal Biology Letters this week reports a novel yet kind of obvious way to tackle the data dearth; simply asking Himalayan villagers about their experiences.

To be fair, the phrase "simply asking" does the researchers a disservice, because what they emphasise throughout their paper is the need to gather local knowledge "rapidly and efficiently... using systematic tools".

It has to be structured, internally consistent and rigorous; that's the message.

We know that some scientists are happy to treat climate model output as data. Now it seems that people's opinions are to be counted as climatic data too.

It's a funny old science, innit?


Wonky Science - Josh 95



There is only the team

ThinkProgress looks at tornado damage in the USA and collates a series of comments on the issue from climate scientists. For some unaccountable reason, every single scientist they have spoken to appears to be a member of that small clique we know as the Hockey Team.


PowerPoint postings

A PowerPoint presentation looking at how energy will be consumed in the city of Cambridge in the year 2030.

Look who is quoted on the final slide (hint: it's not me).


War of the Whirls

Fenbeagle has posted a rather lovely set of windmill inspired art...


See the full set here.


Sarah Mukherjee reveals all

An extraordinary lecture by Sarah Mukherjee, until recently a BBC environment correspondent.

Muckherjee's subject is the attitudes of senior UK politicians to the UK's suicidal Climate Change Act - she concludes that they don't actually take it seriously and that the Act's lack of any meaningful redress for its breach means that it is essentially a dead letter.

There are few climate-related videos that repay watching from beginning to end, but this is certainly worth the investment of time, and not just for Mukherjee's eccentric delivery (she comes across as a sort of a younger Ann Widdecombe).

Look out for the moment where she says she has "worked in environmentalism" for ten years. And the bit when she talks about the Climategate inquiry led by Lord Browne.

And what about the bit where she says that NGOs "paid for most of the science" of climate change? Did I hear that right?