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HSI goes nuclear

Randy Brich, writing for the Nuclear Power Industry News blog reviews the Hockey Stick Illusion:

In a masterful expose on scientific sleuthing, practiced primarily by Steve McIntyre and his fortuitous statistical economist friend, Ross McKitrick, Montford’s captivating climate science chronology commands attention and must, I assume, be giving Mann and his co-conspirators fantastic fits.

 H/T Fergalr


Sir John B on climate change and food

Sir John Beddington says "the food system is failing". No doubt the answer is more funding.


More Mother Jones

I missed the video embedded in the Mother Jones article. This is hugely funny. The author seems to think that hide the decline was something to do with assessing twentieth century temperatures:

...all the fuss over the decline came from one obscure dataset showing tree ring densities in some high latitude regions. When that data was computed in one specific way, that formula gave scientists the wrong idea about the Earth's climate over multiple centuries, and when they realised this they stopped using that formula on tree ring data to look at temperatures after 1960 and relied more on things like, say, actual recorded closed.

Ye gods, even the Hockey Team guys aren't arguing anything so daft. Mother Jones, if you're listening, the point is that the Briffa series doesn't track temperature - it declines while instrumental temperatures are going up. If tree rings (at least some of them) don't track temperature nowadays, it is not possible to use them to recreate temperatures of the past. The point about hide the decline is what it tells about what is knowable about medieval times, not about modern temperatures.

Hilariously, this video came to you via one of Mother Jones' factcheckers!


A new history of Climategate

There is what purports to be a new history of Climategate at the US website, Mother Jones. It's not too bad, considering the source, but there are some problems.

For example, the standard line about the NAS panel's review of paleoclimate is repeated. I find it hard to believe that anyone with any self respect can continue to pretend that the other paleo studies are not undermined by their use of bristlecones (plus Yamal et al). This is such a simple issue that it does rather shred a journalist's credibility if they feign ignorance of it. The author Kate Sheppard blagged a copy of HSI from the publisher, so she knows it's a problem. I wonder why she didn't mention it?

There are a few other things too. Like this:

So how much of a nuisance was McIntyre? Consider his attempts to procure the crucial global temperature data sets that are jointly held by the CRU and the UK's Met Office Hadley Centre [75]. McIntyre dogged the CRU for access to them for years, a campaign that escalated over the course of 2009. The CRU repeatedly turned down these requests, arguing that granting them would violate agreements over data its partners had collected.

I think I am right in saying that McIntyre asked for the CRUTEM data once, or possibly twice, so I don't this could reasonably be described as "dogged".

And then there's this:

It later became clear that CRU was not the only target [111]. In the fall of 2009, unknown parties posing as network technicians attempted to break into the office of a climate scientist at the University of Victoria in British Columbia. There were also attempts to gain access to servers at the Canadian Centre for Climate Modelling and Analysis.

That Ms Sheppard would still be pushing this story is hilarious, as it has already been shown to be, erm, bunk.

And lastly this:

The CRU, on the other hand, maintains that [Climategate] was the work of someone outside of the university—a "very professional job," says Trevor Davies [109], pro-vice chancellor for research at East Anglia and the former head of the CRU.

Interestingly, if you read the minutes of the Russell team's meetings with UEA bigwigs, they are not nearly so sure about whodunnit.

So, a few problems, but the article is actually more interesting for the timing. Why is this coming out now?



Red tape

The government has set up a website to allow people to comment on a series of rules and regulations that are being considered for removal. Reading the responses so far, every vested interest in the country is using it as an opportunity to strengthen their vested interest.


Climate cuttings 51

I'm pretty busy at the moment, so rather than write anything, I'm just going to round up a few interesting links:

Shub shares my interest in the "official sceptics". His latest article looks at a critique of the movement from one of its members.

Robert Bradley Jr, writing at Master Resource, takes a long hard look at the symbiosis between BP, government and environmentalists.

Also following the money is Garth Paltridge, looking at how consensus can be bought and wondering where the independent advice is. Of course this used to the the role of the Royal Society, but they have taken the government shilling too, with inevitable results.

A shale gas well has apparently "blown", leaking fracking fluid into a river. Emma Pullman at Desmog says it's a disaster, others think otherwise.

Subscribers to the global warming hypothesis are very excited at the moment, the object of their interest being this article by Chris Mooney. The great communicators is looking at yet another cod-psychology piece about why sceptics don't believe what they are told.

The subscribers are having a bit of a fallout among themselves, with the vexed question being whether greens have more or less money to spend than big oil. A report by Matt Nisbet was rebutted by Joe Romm (who broke the news embargo in the process). Much shouting followed. Pielke Jnr and Keith Kloor watch on.

Pielke Jnr looks at the IPCC's new policy on conflict of interest and finds much to admire.



Ozone hole is back

Rob Schneider reports that the hole in the ozone layer has reappeared:

Is this because the world did not indeed stop using CFC’s to the extent required to stop the hole? Or is there some other cause than CFS’s in making the hole? And if the latter, how come in the mid 1980′s was it protrayed that CFC’s was the only solution?

What does this teach us about other “there is only one answer” to problems?


The deflation of the IPCC

I thought this was interesting - a blogger called DR Tucker describes his conversion from scepticism to alarmism:

I began reading the report with a skeptical eye, but by the time I concluded I could not find anything to justify my skepticism. The report presented an airtight case that the planet’s temperature has increased dramatically (“Eleven of the last twelve years [1995-2006] rank among the twelve warmest years in the instrumental record of global surface temperature [since 1850]”)

If one recalls Doug Keenan's WSJ article, it is absolutely clear that we don't even know if the Earth's warming is statistically significant, let alone that it has "increased dramatically". Far from being airtight, the IPCC case looks like a sad old football, left outside over the winter, battered by ice and snow, and now rather deflated.



The latest in the captcha saga is that I've switched it on again following another tweak from Squarespace. Let me know if this causes grief again.


RS Publishing responds

In the wake of my posting about the changes in the Royal Society Publishing's policy on data openness, I wrote to the man in charge, Dr Stuart Taylor asking for his comments and specifically what prompted the change. I'm grateful to Dr Taylor for a full and thorough response, which I am posting here with permission.

There is certainly no intention on our part to "weaken our policy," nor have we received any representations from anyone asking us to modify it. What you read on our website simply provides more information that the earlier instruction and the intention was, in fact, to tighten the policy from the rather briefer earlier wording by asking our authors to state, at the time of submission any conditions of data sharing that might apply. The change was approved by our Publishing Board in October 2008 in the light of Briffa et al and Matthews et al.

The proof of any policy is in its implementation, as I am sure you will agree. The fact that there exist discipline-specific conventions does not mean that we are any less strict in obtaining data when requested. In fact, I notice that you qualified your initial post later:

"I've edited the main post shortly after posting it as I'd missed the fact that they were still saying that requests had to be complied with..."

I disagree that it is contradictory - as there has been no "watering down." Our policy on data sharing has been widely praised and is something that most of the commercial publishers do not have in their publishing policies. As the UK's national academy, I believe we should be setting an example in this area and I would not accept an article from authors who sought to keep their data private without a very strong case indeed. So your question about how we would flag such articles is somewhat hypothetical.

Please be assured that this policy "has teeth" and we take its implementation seriously. A good case in point was the Matthews article in 2008.

But if I have not managed to persuade you, please don't hesitate to contact me again by phone or email and I shall be happy to discuss the issue further.

I have replied to Dr Taylor that the policy still reads as though it has weakened, but that I am happy to take him at his word that I am mistaken and that the policy still has teeth.


Cloud parallels

An interesting article in which the author, Art Rangno, compares his experiences trying to replicate a cloud-seeding experiment to those of Steve McIntyre on the Hockey Stick. He draws unfavourable comparisons between paleoclimate and his own field regarding data availability, and says kind things about the Hockey Stick Illusion in the process.

Almost at every turn in this monumental exposé by A. W. Montford, I see parallels in the many cloud seeding reanalyses I did at the University of Washington with Peter Hobbs.  The two sentences quoted above from Montford’s book, so fundamental a step in checking results, literally leapt off the page since that is exactly where the most basic replication starts, and where we always began in our cloud seeding (CS) reanalyses.


Was Russell a public appointment?

We know that UEA have claimed that their agreement to take on the services of Sir Muir Russell was by way of a public appointment rather than a contract. We also know that Edinburgh University signed a contract with a body called the "Muir Russell Review Group". Under this contract they provided the services of Professor Peter Clarke for the duration of the review.

Putting these two facts together means that the Muir Russell Review Group (MRRG) should be a public body for the purposes of FOI legislation.

David Holland writes to say that he has sent an FOI request direct to Sir Muir Russell as head of MRRG. Should be interesting...


Another false prediction

Hot on the heels of Anthony Watts' discovery that the predictions of climate refugees have turned out to be nonsense, here's a story about a prediction made by ABC television about corals.

According to the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network, 10 per cent of the world's reefs were lost by 1992. 27 per cent were lost by the year 2000. And it's expected 40 per cent will be gone by 2010.

Guess what has happened to corals since...



Singh it again

The comments have been reinstated on Simon Singh's blog. Good-oh!

(H/T Matthu in unthreaded)


Desmog and facts

There's a very funny article by Emma Pullman at Desmog, looking at a GWPF article discussing the list of 900 sceptic papers that is currently doing the rounds. Ms Pullman is not impressed noting:

Sourcewatch's digging reveals [GWPF's] links to right-wing libertarian climate change deniers.

This is the organisation which includes a bunch of Labout peers on its board, right? I mean, if you look down their lists of board members Lords Barnett, Donoghue, and Baroness Nicholson are all of the left. Lawson is the only Tory on the board. I guess Ms Pullman forgot to mention left-wing climate change deniers.

Then there's this:

The GWPF's director is the Heartland Institute's Benny Peiser.

I wasn't aware that Benny worked for Heartland - I had always thought he worked for GWPF and a brief googling of the situation confirms that this is indeed the case. The source for Ms Pullman's contrary claim seems to be that Benny is on a list of global warming experts on the Heartland Institute website. His presence on the list seems to have been prompted by his appearance at the institute's 2009 conference. These details are apparently enough for Ms Pullman to describe him as the  "Heartland Institute's...". I find it simply astonishing that anyone can play so fast and loose with the facts. Do these people have no shame?

Then we come to the meat of the article. Ms Pullman has discovered that some of the people who wrote these 900 sceptical papers are, wait for it, sceptics. Ms Pullman describes this revelation as "pretty incriminating". At this point I lost the will to read on. Really - is this the best they can do?