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Conference on the Science and Economics of Climate Change - cartooned by Josh

On 10th May 2011 at Downing College, Cambridge. Sponsored by the Howard Foundation.
The nine fascinating lectures from Phil Jones, Andrew Watson, John Mitchell, Michael Lockwood, Henrik Svensmark, Nils-Axel Morner, Ian Plimer, Vaclav Klaus and Nigel Lawson are summarised visually here.




Royal Society summer show

The Royal Society is doing a Summer Science exhibition this year, featuring, bien sur, a global warming exhibit. This has been prepared by Dr David Stainforth of the Grantham Institute at LSE (the Bob-Ward-not-so-science-y bit, rather than the Brian-Hoskins-with-numbers bit at Imperial). The choice of author does rather seem to be the Royal Society nailing its colours to the mast.

The exhibit is called Confidence from Uncertainty and looks at climate models and how their output is communicated and so on.

This bit struck me as straight out of the activist-not-a-scientist handbook:

How does it work?

Mankind’s emissions of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, are warming the planet. This in turn will change the local climate we experience all around the globe. In the globalised society we live in we will feel the consequences not only as a result of local changes but also as a result of impacts in distant places.

Not may be warming the planet, but are warming the planet. Blimey. As readers here know, we have no idea if the warming we've seen is even statistically significant.Yet here is the Royal Society proclaiming that we're definitely warming and its carbon dioxide that's doing it. Not a hint of a doubt.

With a trailer this careless with the uncertainties, the exhibit itself should be something else.


John Mitchell


Says he doesn't do drama (ref to IP's heated delivery)



Q1 Andrew Watson. Says that submarine volcanoes are included. A: IP says that degassing before and after eruption not measured.

Climate catastrophists are engaged in trade and business. They are similar to creationists. Ignore data. It's a cash cow. We're all doomed, pay the rent. They use consensus and frighten the politicians. Punter knows the argument has moved on and the cake has been overiced.

Cacophany about agw has damaged science enormously

Calling people climate deniers is advertisement of people's ignorance. co2 is good

Long term record shows little relationship between co2 and temp

Warm times are good

Nothing unusual about the present

Current temperature changes are pathetic compared to past

Development of plants reduced co2 in atmosphere

Lots of calculations show that atmospheric lifetime of co2 is short. Only one or two suggest not.

All this co2 not going into calculations of carbon balance

Seamounts on ocean floor still erupting. giving off co2. But these are not measured. Known for years.

Supervolcanoes under the ocean are little studied.

Gas volcanos have been investigated thoroughly, but not included in normal measurements of volcanism because no lava.

Reaction of seawater with volcanic rock is a buffer. When we run out of rocks on sea floor we can worry about acidic oceans

Submarine volcanoes are the elephant in the room

Degassing of c02 before and after relationship. Close relationship of atm co2 to volcanoes

About 1500 volcanoes. Only hear about terrestrial volcanoes

% co2 in atmosphere has been up to 20% in the past



Q2 Explain regime change. What was it? Metastable states change. Nobody knows why, but well described in literature.

Q1 Chris Hope Judge bus school. What predictions does HS make about ocean heat in next 10-15 years? A: Might see a cooling. If sun is going down, and temps rise then it's not the sun.

Solar effect appears to be large. If exclude solar or regime change, then it makes anthropogenic look much bigger. These effects are not well covered by climate models.

Can effect be seen in climate? Use ocean heat content. Forcings = volcanoes, gcr, anthropogenic and a regime change in 1977. Solar effect ~1Wm-2, compares well with Shaviv. If remove solar effect left with apparent rgime change in 1977. This can be seen in eg tropospheric temps.

Coronal mass ejections - decrease in gcrs at earth - forbush decrease. Is there an atmospheric response? Liquid water in clouds over oceans fall after forbush decrease. Ditto in low clouds etc. Aerosols ditto

Always lots of nucleation centres in atmosphere. Is this right?

Use trace gases in atmosph concentrations. Change amount of ionisation. See if you get more aerosol particles. SKY experiment.

Correlation between low clouds and GCRs - but need mechanism. Ions?

Discussion of LIA and solar. Solar irradiance too small to explain Need amplification mechanism - clouds.

Get correlations between eg stalagmite 18O and solar variability

One particle entering atmosphere generates shower of particles - incl ions which change chemistry

CRs accelerated by solar events - supernovae.

He's older than I thought.



Q2 Was Maunder minimum effect European. A: Probably stronger in Europe. 1863/4 was coldest. Two years later v warm. What is probability that we go into a minimum and co2 stops us starving.

Q1 Shapiro paper discussed. Not sure I understand this!

In warming world Europe could get cooler

Could have Maunder minimum conditions soon

Global responses to forcings from Lean and Rind - discussion of solar in Eurasia. Blocking events. \do these have solar dependence? 8% decrease when solar output high

Can explain with caveats warming in terms of el nino, co2 and other anthropogenic and solar

But changes in sun since 1985 don't match temp rise - in wrong direction

TSI not enough to explain observed warming

Lockwood says Svensmark's ideas are beautiful and clever but effect may be slow and limited to clean maritime air


Lockwood and Svensmark

Discussion of different solor outputs and how they reach the atmosphere

Lockwood says stewardship of planet immportant issue for grandchildren


Andrew Watson

All done

Q2 ??? Feedback for h20 is not positive. Also no trpospheric hot spot. A: many uncertainties. Possible that RH has gone down. That's why wide uncertainty estimates.

Q1 Mike Kelly. Can we estimate past h20 levels. What is the effect? Can be done. Doesn't know answer.

Such rapid change is rare in Earth history

Good reason to believe that this  will change ckimate. Not certain.

Increase in co2 definitelyanthropogenic

Long calc to get to estimates. Includes estimate of climate sensitivity which gives estimate of rate of rock weathering.

No long term measurements of co2 (>550my). Only proxies.

Talking about co2 lagging temp. V uncertain Not consistent with idea that co2 is a cause he says. yay!!! Consistent with amplifying effect.

Close relationship between atm co2 and antarctic consistent with greenhouse theory.

Discussion of water vapour as a GHG.

Radiative transfer calcs are well known and simple

Decline in atmospheric o2 matches rise in co2, so co2 can't be coming from volcanoes. Must be burning of fossil fuels. Oceans and land taking up co2


Jones live blog

No more questions

2nd Monckton - asking about 60yr perioddicity and PDO. Can we detect AGW. PJ says yes.

1st question Tony Kelly of GWPF. Sea temps fundamentally different to land. Should measure marine air temp. Says sst doesn't agree to land. PJ says SST correlated to marine air temp

Questions next

And that's it

Satellites - same results as surface

SST - bucket adjustment is the most important. Also shift to buoys

Discussion of CRU subsampling studies - still get same result

BEST 2% series shown. We are getting the message that all the series show roughly the same thing.

homgeneity/urbanisation  adjusts have small effect

CRUTEM4 will include a full release of station data

adjustments to stations makes little difference at large scales

"Population growth is not a great metric for urbanisation trends"

Urbanisation. Little difference in urban/rural

Biases in order of importance form Jones and Wigley. 1 SST bucket 2. Thermometer ecposure, 3. Urbanisation

Some discussion of Menne et al 2009 - bimodal distribution of adjusts

PJ discussing homogenity issues

We've been told we will be evicted if we mention climategate

Lovely Georgian theatre here.


Sense about Science lecture

Times Higher Ed has a report about last night's Sense About Science lecture by Cambridge historian Richard Evans. From the sounds of it, this was pretty interesting, with Prof Evans noting that calls for the public to trust scientists are  "inadequate" given the propensity of scientists to get things wrong - he cites the BSE and miasmatism as examples. That said, Prof Evans, like so many others finds it difficult to cope with dissenting voices, and you sense that underneath he longs for consensus and certainty and a nice-neat top-down world. But I wonder if there is some significance in the fact that climate change sceptics were no mentioned alongside the anti-vaccinators (is that a word?,) who he gives as examples of the fringe groups who have taken advantage of the public distrust of scientist.

If someone can lay their hands on the video, do please post a link.


CRU book group

Members of the CRU book group couldn't wait to see what Phil Jones was going to suggest as the title for next month...

H/T Anoneumouse


Conference proceedings

I'm now safely esconced in Cambridge, which is all very nice. Thanks to the generosity of BH readers I have invested in a 3G wireless dongle, so I should be able to report regardless of the facilities available, although battery power and my ability to type on a netbook will potentially be issues.

The conference is organised by a small charity called the Howard Trust, who appear to have no prior involvement in climate matters. The programme is pretty packed. Proceedings kick off at 9:30am and Jones is first on, speaking about the measurement of global temperature.


AGW hype dying

Scottish Sceptic notices a dramatic change in MSM coverage of the global warming issue. It  appears that the cold weather last winter just killed off the majority of any remaining interest in the subject. Remarkable stuff.

Read the whole thing.


Upcoming events

Next week, I'm off down south for a couple of days. The purpose of the visit is to attend a conference to which I've been invited. This promises to be fun, with a positively stellar list of speakers:

  • Phil Jones
  • Andrew Watson (of "Morano is an asshole" fame)
  • Mike Lockwood (of "Svensmark is all wrong" fame)
  • Henrik Svensmark (of "no I'm not" fame)
  • Nils Axel Morner
  • Ian Plimer
  • John Mitchell (of "no IPCC working papers" fame)
  • Nigel Lawson
  • Vaclav Klaus

The balance of speakers is not quite right, with nobody there to put the Stern review side of the economic arguments, but it's hard to argue with the calibre of speaker the organisers have recruited. The suggestion in the invitation was that the organisers see the event as forming an opportunity for compromise between the two sides of the global warming debate.

I will try to liveblog at least some of the proceedings on Tuesday, wifi availability and battery life permitting. Josh will be on hand to do the visuals.

If anyone wants to help defray the cost of the trip, your contributions to the tip box will be gratefully received.

[The conference is invitation-only, but Phil Jones is doing a repeat of his talk at the University of Lancaster on Friday (h/t Aztek) for those who are interested.]



Oz chief scientist: I'm a lobbyist

If anyone was under any illusions about the true role of government chief scientists, this interview with the new occupant of that role in the Australian civil service should dispel them.

Science advocate

Chubb says that he will be a proactive lobbyist for science, helping the government and the public to appreciate the role of science in coping with the major challenges facing society. Doing this, he says, should help to insulate science from budget cuts. "If we can get science and its value to the community sufficiently high up the priority list," he says, "the job should be half-made each year before you go into bat for specifics."

Commendable honesty, but why on earth should scientists have their own lobbyists on the inside of government? This reminds me of the recent scandals here in the UK, where healthcare trusts were revealed to be paying for union reps out of the public purse. Paying for union reps and paying for lobbyists does not seem materially different to me. Either way, these recipients of all this public largesse are not working for the benefit of the people but for themselves and their pals.

I wonder if Sir John Beddington also sees himself as a union rep for the scientific community who just happens to be paid out of public coffers?