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More SciTech committee appointments

Via Farrah Bhatti's Twitter page come three more Labour party appointments to the Science and Technology Select Committee in the House of Commons. There has apparently been something of a struggle to find anyone else who is interested and the three late appointees are all from the new intake. Finally joining Andrew Miller and Graham Stringer are:

  • Pamela Nash (a former parliamentary researcher)
  • Gregg McClymont (a historian)
  • Jonathan Reynolds (professional politician)

The LibDems have yet to make their appointments to the panel.

(See also this interview with new committee chairman Andrew Miller, who says his priority for the new committee will be to maintain expenditure on science).


Nature on public relations

Reading more like a something from PR Week than a premier scientific journal, Jeff Tollefson's article in Nature describes how better PR is going to do the trick for the global warming movement.

At Climate Central, a non-profit organization based in Princeton, New Jersey, scientists work with journalists and writers to develop climate stories in partnership with media outlets. The idea came together in 2008, backed by high-profile scientists such as Jane Lubchenco, who oversees much of the nation's climate science as head the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

See also the accompanying editorial.


Fiona Fox on the Hockey Stick

Fiona Fox, who runs the (big-oil funded!) Science Media Centre has an article up at the BBC College of Journalism website. The thrust of the piece is that sceptics should be ignored. Nothing new there, I hear you say. However, her argument includes this take on the Hockey Stick.

Click to read more ...


Guardian debate

The Guardian is to host a debate on the Climategate affair on 14th July at RIBA in London. It will be presided over by George Monbiot and the speakers announced so far announced are:

  • Bob Watson
  • Fred Pearce
  • Doug Keenan

There are apparently more speakers to be confirmed.

If anyone would like to post a report, please drop me line.


Written questions to DECC ministers

Some written questions have been tabled for DECC ministers by our old friend Graham Stringer.

Graham Stringer: If the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change planning session in October 2010 will be conducted under the terms of the Aarhus Convention.

Graham Stringer: What proposed changes in the conduct of the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessments and procedures he plans at the IPCC planning session in October 2010.

Graham Stringer: What the name was of each representative of the Government who will attend the plenary session of the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change in October 2010. 

These questions are all up for answer on 1 July 2010.

For those who don't know, the Aarhus Convention is an EU-wide agreement on the public availability of environmental information and which underpins the UK's Environmental Information Regulations.


Victorian temperature records

Some interesting analysis of the temperature records in the State of Victoria in Australia from Ken Stewart. The analysis seems to have been prompted by a statement by Australia's Bureau of Meteorology that adjustments to the raw station data should be random because they were fixing random station moves:

On the issue of adjustments you find that these have a near zero impact on the all Australian temperature because these tend to be equally positive and negative across the network (as would be expected given they are adjustments for random station changes).

Stewart has tested this and foundsomething rather different:

By these calculations (averaging the trend at each site) the raw trend is 0.35 degrees C per 100 years, and the [corrected] state trend is 0.83C.  That’s a warming bias of 133%!

Worth a look, I would say.

(H/T David Stockwell)



The baby bishops on ecoschools...

...and I didn't put them up to it either!


Fred on Foster and deFreitas

Fred Pearce in New Scientist looks at some recent developments in the ongoing battle between Tamino and the Hockey Team on the one side and sceptics deFreitas and McLean on the other. Judy Curry gets quoted.


Foreign office cuts its green spending

With hard times truly upon us, the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, has announced that he is seeking savings from the Foreign Office's budget by cutting back on green spending.

What is remarkable is that the Low Carbon, High Growth programme is going to survive at all. Does anyone in government seriously think that this is a sensible thing to be spending money on?


David Shukman in the Guardian science podcast

A podcast interview with David Shukman, the BBC's science and environment correspondent. Shukman says the media has failed to report the uncertainties in climate science properly and says we are in a new era for climate reporting.

Audio starts from about 14:30 at this link.



ECOS, the magazine of the British Association of Nature Conservationists has published a review of The Hockey Stick Illusion. You can download a draft of the review here. It's written by Peter Taylor, the author of Chill.

This book will have repercussions. It is well written, though demanding of constant focus, well laid-out and thoroughly referenced. It should be read by every believer in the authority of scientific institutions – but of course, that is not likely. Montford has done a great service to science, to history and to a public grown sceptical of the scare stories upon which vast amounts of research funding, carbon trading and energy technology subsidies depend. That story cannot now claim that the 20th century warmth is unprecedented.


Josh 26

More cartoons by Josh here.


Tee hee


Nepstad enters the fray

Much fun in the comments to Monbiot's Amazongate posting, with Daniel Nepstad, the activist-scientist behind some of the IPCC claims, having his say:

As the lead scientist on the research that underlies the IPCC statements about the sensitivity of the Amazon forest to reductions in rainfall, and after 25 years studying this question, I can say that the evidence has only grown stronger in support of this statement. I ran an enormous rainfall exclusion experiment in an Amazon forest that identified the rainfall threshold beyond which giant forest trees die quite suddenly (published in the journal Ecology in 2007). During the 2005 Amazon drought, tree mortality spiked up in permanent forest plots across the region (Philips et al. 2009 Science), providing further evidence of the drought threshold. The critics have latched onto two papers that seem to contradict our results, both using the same satellite sensor (MODIS). The forest canopy appears to get a bit greener in some Amazon regions during the dry season. Deeper analyses of the same data have found that these studies probably were seeing leaf-changing episodes and changes in cloudiness (which declines in the dry season) which are not evidence that the forests were not drought stressed. In a recent letter signed by 18 scientists including many of the world's authorities on tropical forest response to climate change, we found the IPCC statement to be sound and the NASA study involving MODIS data to be irrelevent to the IPCC statement. I would be happy to explain the science behind the IPCC statement.

Which is fascinating but still leaves us none the wiser as to where the idea that 40% of the Amazon is at risk from slight changes in rainfall comes from.  Several commenters on the thread call Dr Nepstad on this evasion and demand to know in which paper it can be found.

No reply last time I looked.


A disappearing act

John Shade has been looking at a campaign called Schools' Low Carbon Day. Having noted that the campaign claimed to be run by a registered charity, he checked with the Charities Commissioners and found that the charity concerned didn't exist. The people running the show eventually contacted him and said that since they hadn't actually collected any money, they hadn't bothered registering the charity.

Low carbon day was on Friday. But intriguingly, no sooner was it over than the campaign website was closed down. No reporting of how it went, no nothing.

I think it might be worth verifying the story that no money was collected. Does anyone know of any schools that actually took part?