BBC Radio Five Live had a propaganda piece on global warming last week, with Naomi Oreskes and an Australian called "Dr Karl" vigorously agreeing with each other on absolutely everything and knocking down the telephone callers like flies. The interviewer, Rhod Sharp was clearly inclined to question things - he'd even been to see The Heretic - but without anyone to question what Oreskes and Karl were saying you were left with something of a fib-fest.
The interview was spread out over four hours, so I've split it into several posts, which will appear over the next few days. In this first one you can hear Naomi Oreskes trying to link floods in Australia and the UK and Pakistan to global warming and Dr Karl saying that Australia is going to get drier. The apparent contradiction between their positions seems to have been lost on them.
A warning needs to be issued before you listen - breakable objects should probably be removed from the vicinity of your computer first.
Princeton physicist Will Happer wonders what the optimum level of carbon dioxide is:
We conclude that atmospheric CO2 levels should be above 150 ppm to avoid harming green plants and below about 5000 ppm to avoid harming people. That is a very wide range, and our atmosphere is much closer to the lower end than to the upper end. The current rate of burning fossil fuels adds about 2 ppm per year to the atmosphere, so that getting from the current level to 1000 ppm would take about 300 years—and 1000 ppm is still less than what most plants would prefer, and much less than either the nasa or the Navy limit for human beings.
The Hockey Stick Illusion is mentioned too:
The IPCC and its worshipful supporters did their best to promote the hockey-stick temperature curve. But as John Adams remarked, “Facts are stubborn things, and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” The hockey-stick curve caught the attention of two Canadians, Steve McIntyre, a mining consultant, and an academic statistician, Ross McKitrick. As they began to look more carefully at the original data—much of it from tree rings—and at the analysis that led to the hockey stick, they became more and more puzzled. By hard, remarkably detailed, and persistent work over many years, consistently frustrated in their efforts to obtain original data and data-analysis methods, they showed that the hockey stick was not supported by observational data. An excellent, recent history of this episode is A. W. Montford’s The Hockey Stick Illusion.
On Monday, the deadline passed for a request I had made for financial information relating to the Climategate inquiries. This was for (1) a report, at invoice level, of monies expended re the Climategate inquiries and (2) Copies of invoices and other documentation to go with them.
I chased the university today and received a response as follows:
...it has come to my attention that, in order to provide a response as requested to question 2 of your request, the amount of time and money required to locate and extract the requested information will exceed the statutory appropriate limit as mandated in section 12(1) of the Act and described in the Freedom of Information and Data Protection (Fees and Appropriate Limit) Regulations 2004. Providing a response to this question alone would likely exceed the appropriate limit. However, pursuant to s.16 of the Act, I would ask whether you would be satisfied with just a response to question 1 of your request? We anticipate that we could provide a response to that question within the statutory appropriate limit.
So, after the deadline passes, they ask for clarification. They claim in their letter that this allows them to restart the clock, but unfortunately they forgot to tell me that within the deadline, so they breached the law anyway - you know, the one they made a formal undertaking to comply with.
I've asked for the part 1 - the invoice listing - immediately, and will assess what to do after that.
Welcome to the neo-medieval world of Britain’s energy policy. It is a world in which Highland glens are buzzing with bulldozers damming streams for miniature hydro plants, in which the Dogger Bank is to be dotted with windmills at Brobdingnagian expense, in which Heathrow is to burn wood trucked in from Surrey, and Yorkshire wheat is being turned into motor fuel. We are going back to using the landscape to generate our energy. Bad news for the landscape.
Roy Spencer blogs about Svensmark's cosmic ray theory of climate change:
While I have been skeptical of Svensmark’s cosmic ray theory up until now, it looks like the evidence is becoming too strong for me to ignore. The following results will surely be controversial, and the reader should remember that what follows is not peer reviewed, and is only a preliminary estimate.
(H/T Chris, by email)
The Institute of Physics looks at Svensmark's work here.
Readers in the Cambridge area may be interested in this meeting, which features two familiar names, in the shape of Lord Oxburgh and Mike Kelly. Lord O is described as
...well known for his work as a public advocate in both academia and the business world in addressing the need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and develop alternative energy sources.
Just the man to run an inquiry into allegations of misconduct against climate scientists then.
The subject of the meeting is the energy gap:
The UK Government has a Herculean task – in both maintaining electricity supplies against obsolescent generating capacity, and in meeting very challenging carbon reduction targets, and moreover in achieving this through market mechanisms.
I wonder if Lord O will be arguing for extensive investment in wind power?
Retired geophysicist Geoff Davies has responded to the Cox and Stockwell article (discussed here) about Hansen's new paper on climate model representation of ocean heat uptake and mixing. He accuses them of misrepresenting Hansen.
The article contains basic misrepresentations of Hansen and of the substance and implications of a draft paper by Hansen.
The Hansen paper does not weaken the case that humans are the main cause of global warming. On the contrary, it suggests we have unwittingly and temporarily shielded ourselves from the full effects of our activities.
I've only whizzed through both the Cox/Stockwell and the Davies articles, but I think the difference is over the credibility of Hansen's explanation. Hansen is saying that ocean heat uptake has been overestimated, and therefore the reason we haven't seen much warming is that we must have got aerosols wrong too, with the two errors effectively having balanced each other out. Cox and Stockwell are saying that maybe the effect of CO2 is not as strong as previously thought.
Is that right?
A sudden outbreak of sanity seems to have taken hold Canada. Firstly the idea of a carbon tax appears to have been killed off for good:
Conservatives kill carbon tax
Conservatives have kiboshed a carbon tax, Environment Minister Peter Kent confirmed Thursday.
"It's off the table," he told reporters Thursday after accepting an award from World Wildlife Fund International on behalf of Parks Canada.
"There's no expectation of cap-and-trade continentally in the near or medium future."
...and then this:
Government delays pulling plug on old-fashioned light bulbs
Tories propose pushing deadline to 2014 over lack of alternatives to incandescents
(H/T to Ross McKitrick, who offers to send a real estate guide)
Andy Russell has a report from the Royal Meteorological Society AGM, which was addressed by John Mitchell and Simon Singh. This bit was particularly interesting
There was also an interesting question for Simon about the similarities between the “hide the decline” episode and an edit Simon showed us that he had made to one of his own documentaries (substituting “primes” with “numbers” in an interview with a mathematician to make it understandable for a wider audience). Simon argued that they were quite different situations as the removal of unreliable proxy data was done for scientific reasons whereas his edit was done for communication reasons. I wonder if there isn’t more of an overlap, though. I’m not sure we’ve properly acknowledged the needs of different audiences and how scientists decide to summarise their work for them.
Removing the bit of data that shows the rest of the series to be unreliable is not a "scientific reason". It's called "cheating".
There has been something of a flurry of posts around the sceptic blogosphere about climate models and I wonder if this may continue to be a theme in coming weeks after James Hansen's recent admission that climate models are getting ocean heat uptake and the mixing of heat in the ocean wildly wrong.
This story is covered in layman's terms here by Anthony Cox and David Stockwell:
The Earth’s energy balance is the most important measure of anthropogenic global warming [AGW] because it shows whether energy is leaving or accumulating.
Among 52 dense pages of science, Hansen reports on two experiments from the last eight years that call for major revisions to the GCMs.
This is definitely a "read the whole thing" kind of article.
Put alongside the poor performance of the models against observations in recent years do we really have a watertight scientific case that demands a policy response?
At the end of last month another conference bringing together the two sides of the climate debate took place quietly in Germany. The participants were a team from the Potsdam Institute - Schellnhuber, Rahmstorf et al - and a group from EIKE, the main sceptic body in Germany.
EIKE have just issued a report documenting the discussions from their point of view. This can be seen below. The Hockey Stick Illusion is mentioned.
The House of Lords Communication Committee questions Brian Cox and Sir David Attenborough on BBC science programming. Is it just me, or do parliamentary committees only ever want to hear from people who aren't going to rock the boat.
That said, there is some interesting probing of the "how to deal with dissent" question, with Brian Cox looking somewhat uncomfortable at one point.