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

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Budiansky on farmers' markets

A wonderful post from Stephen Budiansky on the subject of farmers' markets, organic food and the like.

The language of the huckster pervades this business; to look at most of the websites and literature of local/organic/sustainable sellers you'd think they wouldn't dream of taking your money, so noble is their calling ("We are in the redemption business: healing the land, healing the food, healing the economy, and healing the culture," reads one typical specimen). Old rule of commercial interaction: when someone says it's not about money . . . it's about money.

Do read the whole thing, it's a joy from beginning to end.


The Climate Code Foundation

This looks interesting:

We are pleased to announce the creation of the Climate Code Foundation. The Foundation is a non-profit organisation founded by David Jones, Nick Barnes, and Philippa Davey to promote public understanding of climate science. The Foundation will continue work on the Clear Climate Code project, and also related activities, encouraging climate scientists to improve and publish their software.

The Foundation intends to work with climate scientists, funding bodies, national and international organisations, and science publishers. We hope to establish climate science in the forefront of science software quality and transparency.


Shapiro speaks

Harold Shapiro, the economist who headed the IAC review of the IPCC, is interviewed at Climate Central. This is very interesting stuff, in particular the bit where Shapiro knocks down the suggestion that he thinks Pachauri should resign.

This was interesting too:

HS: We think all of our recommendations, if they’re thought to be helpful and useful, could in our view be implemented in the Fifth Assessment [which is currently in progress]. It’ s my own judgment that when people say you have to wait for the Sixth Assessment, it’s just a way of postponing action.

People like Myles Allen perhaps, who was writing at Comment is Free just yesterday...

Clearly, none of this is relevant to the 5th Assessment due to be published in 2013-2014: too much work has been done to make major changes at this stage, with author teams already in place. It will be thousands of pages long and will contain a couple ("catalogue") of errors that will be gleefully pointed out sometime in 2015. But now is the time to start thinking about what happens afterwards. We don't need to keep doing this to ourselves.

To my mind this means that we will not get a credible IPCC report until some time around 2020.


Hewitt again

I'm still can't take the smile off my face at the ridiculousness of Nick Hewitt's 'review'. It's just so hard to comprehend how one can reach the rank of full professor and still be unable to put together a coherent argument (although who knows, perhaps this is normal at Lancaster, Phil Jones' alma mater). Come to think of it, it's hard to comprehend how one can become a full professor without being able to spell 'practice', but that's probably just me being pedantic again.

And once again, we have a review that could have been written without actually reading the book at all. Not a single quote from the book, not a single fact disputed. I'm wondering if I should christen this kind of thing a "Hewitt", in honour of Professor Nick.

How many more Hewitts do you think there will be before next week?


Budiansky on Cuccinelli

One of my favourite science writers, Stephen Budiansky, has recently joined the blogosphere and is today discussing the Cuccinelli investigation and its similarity to the attacks on Bjorn Lomborg in the wake of the publication of the Skeptical Environmentalist.


Climategate report

I am now in a position to reveal that my report for GWPF on the Climategate inquiries will be released on 14th September.


Another review

Chemistry World is the latest magazine to review the Hockey Stick Illusion. This is another critical one...

Here, one small part of the body of evidence that shows the Earth is warming is examined in tedious detail, with a focus on the actions and words of its protagonists. Undoubtedly there have been shortcomings in working practises, many a result of the sustained pressure these individuals have been under from a small but determined group of sceptics (most recently in the UK through the repeated use of freedom of information requests), but this polemic does absolutely nothing to alter the physics of the Earth system. Andrew Montford declares he studied chemistry - with the benefit of his scientific education one would think he should know better. Readers of Chemistry World will have far better things to do than read this pedantic book.

Another critic who does not dispute anything I say! Looking good...


+++Climategate hearings reconvened+++

The House of Commons Science and Technology COmmittee has announced that it is to hear evidence from Lord Oxburgh next week:

The Science and Technology Committee will hold an oral evidence session following-up to the previous committee’s report on the disclosure of climate data from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia.

The session will be on:

Wednesday 8 September 2010 at 10.30 am

Thatcher Room, House of Commons

The Committee will take evidence from Lord Oxburgh, who headed the International Panel that was set up by the University to assess the integrity of the research published by the Climatic Research Unit.

An oral evidence session with Sir Muir Russell, who headed the Independent Climate Change E-mails Review, will be announced in October.

The sessions will focus on how the two reviews responded to the former committee’s recommendations about the reviews and how they carried out their work. 


WSJ on uncertainty

The Wall Street Journal looks at the IAC report and considers one of its key findings, namely that the IPCC has downplayed uncertainties in the science of global warming. In the process they consider McShane and Wyner's paper on the reliability (or lack of it) of proxy-based temperature reconstructions and also a new paper on the sensitivity of the Amazon rainforest to drought. It looks as though this sensitivity is not really understood because nobody knows how the Amazon will respond to rising CO2 levels.

As the Journal puts it:

None of this proves or disproves anything, except that our understanding of how our climate works is still evolving. Is it too much to ask the climate establishment to acknowledge as much?



Just had a look at the JAXA sea ice extent graph, which I monitor from time to time. From the look of this year's chart - the red one - one could almost imagine that the refreeze has started, although of course it could be a blip. If this is the bottom, it's very early, the Arctic sea ice minimum usually being reached in the middle of September.

The global sea ice figure per Cryosphere today has in the meantime taken a downtick.


Bobbing to the surface

Bob Ward has resurfaced, this time in the comments at the New York Times, where he claims that his Guardian article is "patently accurate and truthful".

Too funny. Does anyone take this guy seriously?


Fred on the IAC

Fred Pearce has an article on the IAC report in New Scientist.

The IPCC has tried hard to preserve the normal rules of scientific discourse and to explain continuing uncertainty, but it has been pushed towards simple sound-bite conclusions. Some of this pressure has come from the desire of many scientists to underline their concerns about the dangers the world faces. Sometimes, in the process, "could happen" has become "will happen", and analysis has veered close to advocacy. Journalists have been willing colluders.



Qui Tam

Readers who are interested in Virginia A-G Cuccinelli's ongoing battle with Michael Mann and the University of Virginia will want to take a look at the Virginia Qui Tam Law blog, which is posting regularly on the legal ins and outs of the case. I found the following quote instructive.

...most lawyers representing targets of a [civil investigative demand (CID)] take advantage of the opportunity to try to convince the government that there has been no wrongdoing, and that the client has nothing to hide.  

There are very good reasons for this, because this epic battle over this CID is much ado about nothing.  Even if a target "wins" and the CID gets set aside, they haven't really won anything at all, because a CID is just a preliminary investigative tool...

...even if a party fighting a CID wins and successfully quashes the CID, guess what?  They may not have to respond to the CID, but they have spent thousands and thousands of dollars, and the winning prize is normally a freshly-filed lawsuit by the OAG.  And then, as soon as discovery begins in the case, the OAG will ask for exactly the same materials they requested in the CID.  At that point, the defendant will have no choice but to produce the material.


Josh 35

More cartoons by Josh here.


Informed reaction

Climate bloggers seem much more impressed by the IAC report than I was. Pielke Jnr describes it as "hard hitting with constructive and far-reaching consequences" while Snr says it is "insightful and valuable". I remain unconvinced as to whether the IAC's findings will really make any difference to future IPCC reports. Roy Spencer seems to agree:

I say the process cannot be fixed. DUMP the IPCC process.

The reason why is because the IPCC process was never created to achieve what the U.N. claims, and what most people believe it exists for.

The IPCC was created to use the scientific community to build a case for regulating CO2 emissions. Period.