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A few sites I've stumbled across recently....

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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?



Public secrets

A group of concerned citizen groups (I'm sure you can guess the kinds of groups I'm talking about) have written to the University of Virginia, urging it to withhold the Michael Mann emails that have been requested under FOI laws.

A dozen organizations, including the American Association of University Professors, had written [University President Theresa] Sullivan asking that she clarify how the university would respond to the Freedom of Information Act request.

In a letter dated April 21 and released by the Union of Concerned Scientists on Wednesday, Sullivan told the groups that the university’s legal tussle with the attorney general was evidence that the school is “quite conscious of the academic freedom interests about which you express concern.”

Sullivan has replied in essence that she is going to do the minimum possible under the law.

While the University is, of course, committed to comply with the requirements of law, I wish to reassure you that this commitment will be carried out to the fullest extent possible consistent with the interests of faculty in academic freedom and scholarship

(H/T Shub)


Here Comes the Flood

The first gig I ever went to was at Guildford Civic Hall in roughly 1981 - it was a charity show by the ex-Genesis guitarist, Steve Hackett. At the end, Peter Gabriel appeared and did two or three numbers including a rock version of Reach Out I'll Be There and a very memorable rendition of Here Comes The Flood. It was quite a show for one's first introduction to a live rock band.

Simon W in the comments points to this YouTube video of a version of the latter song - one I've not heard before, featuring Gabriel and Robert Fripp of King Crimson. Listen to the introduction...

Anyone know who is speaking?


GLOBE story develops legs

Ted Lapkin at the Australian website The Drum, picks up the GLOBE story.

It was just a little too convenient. A little bit too self-serving. An internally commissioned investigation into the ‘Climate-gate’ scandal at the University of East Anglia that exonerated the alleged malefactors, despite evidence indicating serious impropriety.

I originally assumed that the whitewash – or should I say greenwash? – of the university’s Climactic Research Unit was the product of simple ideological bias. After all, the chairman of the Scientific Assessment Panel, Lord Ronald Oxburgh, is himself an outspoken global warming activist.

But then the plot thickened. It turned out that Oxburgh wasn’t only politically partial to the theory of anthropogenic global warming, but he had a financial interest in the business of climate change as well.


The Royal Society on the temperature records

I was thinking about Doug Keenan's WSJ article about statistical significance in the global temperature records - for those unfamiliar with it, we don't know whether the recent warming is significant or not because we don't know what statistical model to adopt to describe the climate's normal behaviour. Doug has published a "director's cut" of the article at his website.

I found myself wondering how the Royal Society had explained the recent warming to the public in their new paper on climate change and, more particularly, how they had addressed the question of statistical significance. Here's the relevant excerpt:

Measurements show that averaged over the globe, the surface has warmed by about 0.8°C (with an uncertainty of about ±0.2°C) since 1850. This warming has not been gradual, but has been largely concentrated in two periods, from around 1910 to around 1940 and from around 1975 to around 2000. The warming periods are found in three independent temperature records over land, over sea and in ocean surface water. Even within these warming periods there has been considerable year-to-year variability. The warming has also not been geographically uniform – some regions, most markedly the high-latitude northern continents, have experienced greater warming; a few regions have experienced little warming, or even a slight cooling.

When these surface temperatures are averaged over periods of a decade, to remove some of the year-to-year variability, each decade since the 1970s has been clearly warmer (given known uncertainties) than the one immediately preceding it. The decade 2000-2009 was, globally, around 0.15°C warmer than the decade 1990-1999.

So, no mention of statistical significance. This is a bit disappointing really - this is our national science academy. I'm not sure that saying that recent decades are warmer than earlier ones is saying anything very much at all.

The other thing that interests me is the reference to known uncertainties. What is the magnitude of the known uncertainties in the temperature records? I'm not sure I've seen these before (or perhaps I've forgotten).


The end of the scientific revolution?

Tim Worstall in the Register.

I really cannot understand why we're doing what we are doing on a public policy level. I just don't get why we're pumping tens, possibly hundreds, of billions into technologies like windmills, which we know won't work, to solar which doesn't need subsidies any more, but not willing to put money into other interesting things which might work, like thorium just as one example.

Unless, of course, I'm right in that what we should do about this problem has been hijacked by those who don't in fact want to solve this single, particular, problem of requiring low carbon energy generation but who want to use this agreed upon problem as a means of imposing their vision of the desirable lifestyle upon the rest of us. And so we go with solutions which won't in fact work because they desire that the problem not be solved, but that we should accord with their instructions upon how society should be.

Which is all rather depressing really: rather the end of the Enlightenment, the Scientific Revolution.


Scotland better at destroying jobs than Spain

According to George Jonas in Canada's National Post, Spain destroyed 2.2 real jobs for every "green" job created.

A study released this week concludes that government “green-job” programs aren’t the yellow-brick road to happiness in Europe. “Green programs in Spain destroyed 2.2 jobs for every job created,” write Kenneth P. Green and Ben Eisen in their paper for the Winnipeg-based think-tank, Frontier Centre, “while the capital needed for one green job in Italy could create five new jobs in the general economy.”

Johnny Foreigner has a lot to learn - the figure quoted for the UK is 3.7, which I think is probably actually the figure for Scotland.


SciTech hearings on peer review

The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee is going to take evidence for their peer review inquiry on 4th May. Those invited to speak are:

  • Dr Nicola Gulley, Editorial Director, Institute of Physics Publishing Ltd
  • Professor Ronald Laskey CBE FRS FMedSci, Vice-President, Academy of Medical Sciences
  • Dr Robert Parker, Interim Chief Executive, Royal Society of Chemistry
  • Professor John Pethica FRS, Physical Secretary and Vice-President, Royal Society.

Most of the members of the committee just seem to do what the whips tell them to, but it will nevertheless be interesting to see if they are going to simply go through the motions or if they have invited anyone who is a critic of the peer review process. Experience suggests, however, that the committee prefer not to hear anything from anyone who might rock the boat.


IPCC brings down the shutters

As many readers know, the guiding principles of the IPCC are that it should be open and transparent, a sentiment that I'm sure we all find admirable.

David Holland has been trying to find out about how Pachauri et al are implementing this principle in the Fifth Assessment, which is now under way. To that end he has been seeking copies of IPCC correspondence with its UK-based authors. He has recently had a reply from the University of Oxford:

As regards the information under a) above, relating to the development of the content of AR5, the University recognises that there is a public interest that the results of the AR5 should be available for public scrutiny. However, it considers that this need will be met largely through the future publication of the final AR5, together with the comments of the Expert Reviewers and the responses of the Lead Authors to those comments. It sees little or no public interest in the release of information relating to what is very much work in progress. Indeed, disclosure could harm the quality of the drafting process by inhibiting the free and frank expression of opinion. The scientists involved in AR5 need to feel that they can develop and refine their views without the pressure of public discussion at each and every step of the process. Disclosure of the information requested, and any consequent publicity, would be likely to inhibit the frankness of their views and deliberations, and to make them more cautious and less candid than they would otherwise be. This would not be in the public interest. Nor would it be in the public interest to deter scientists from participating in this type of work or to reduce the breadth of scientific expertise available to the IPCC or other international organisations involved in climate change.


Tip jar live again

Over there ->


GLOBE and Grantham

GLOBE International has just issued a report on climate change legislation around the world. Rather dull stuff.

Interesting to see, however, that the report is co-produced by the Grantham Institute.

Does anyone else find it disturbing to see legislators and environmentalists working hand-in-hand like this?



Here's a fascinating new tool - It allows you to enter the text of a press release and find out how much of it was copied and pasted by UK newspapers.

I tried a Friends of the Earth press release about small-scale energy generation and found that around half ended up unaltered in (guess where)...the Guardian.

Or what about a Greenpeace press release about taking the government to court over deep water drilling. Well, roughly three quarters found its way to (a) the Independent (b) The BBC and (c) the Scotsman.