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Toby Young has a must-read article in the Spectator about the retribution handed out to researchers whose findings challenges the articles of faith of the political left. It focuses on the work of Dr Adam Perkins, who published a book which claimed that, in Young's words,  "individuals with aggressive, rule-breaking and anti-social tendencies...were over-represented among the ranks of the unemployed:

A senior editor of Nature, one of the leading academic journals, refused to consider it for review because she regards scientific research into the personalities of the long-term unemployed as ‘unethical’, and a sociology professor whom the publishers had asked to peer-review the book refused to do so on the grounds that any book linking benefit dependency to personality must be nonsense because personality is a ‘capitalist construct’.

Colleagues with whom Perkins had collaborated in the past warned him off publication, worried about being associated with such a heretic; and a powerful American professor was so enraged by his conclusions that he lobbied for him to be banned from the conference circuit.

What irritates me is that these people are still able to hide behind a wall of anonymity. They should be named.


Money without accountability

The Mail is reporting that universities are trying to put themselves beyond the reach of the Freedom of Information Act. 

Ministers in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills are consulting on whether to remove universities from the law, which obliges public bodies to respond to requests for information about their finances and how they operate.

The proposal is in a consultation document on education reform and comes on top of another, hugely controversial, review of the Act ordered by the Cabinet Office.

There is no point in having a publicly funded dreaming spire if the public can see that all you are doing is dreaming.


Wilson trending

Rob Wilson emails a copy of his new paper (£)in QSR, co-authored with, well, just about everybody in the dendro community. It's a tree-ring based temperature reconstruction of summer temperatures in the northern hemisphere, it's called N-TREND and excitingly it's a hockey stick!

Click to read more ...


McKibben's mindpoop

Here's a tweet from Bill McKibben

And here's an excerpt from Wikipedia about the same lake.

When the water level of Titicaca Lake drops below 3,810 m, the flow of Desaguadero River is so low it can no longer compensate for the massive water losses due to evaporation from the surface of Poopó Lake. At this point, the lake volume begins to decrease. At its maximum in 1986, the lake had an area of 3,500 km2. During the years that followed, the surface area steadily decreased until 1994 when the lake disappeared completely. The time period between 1975 and 1992 is the longest period in recent times with a continuous existence of a water body.

And here's a research paper too:

The lake seems from the records of Marin & Quitanilla (2002) to have been dry between 1939 and 1944, and nearly dry in 1970–1972.


Story time at the Guardian a week after Nic Lewis pubished his rather devastating critique of the Marvel et al paper, Dana Nuccitelli has decided it's time to tell the Graun readers about...the Marvel et al paper. Readers might be interested to compare excerpts from Dana's piece and Nic Lewis's one.

...even had Marvel et al.’s efficacy estimates and calculations been valid, they would have had no material implications for the Otto et al 2013 TCR and ECR estimates. That is because the underlying forcing estimates used in that study already reflect efficacies, contrary to what Marvel et al. imply.

Nic Lewis, in his article about the Marvel et al paper, 8 January 2016

Let's be fair, Otto et al. didn't account for forcing efficacies either, and most of the co-authors on that paper were top notch scientists.

Dana Nuccitelli today.

It's remarkable that Lewis has managed to refute Nuccitelli even before Nuccitelli started to write. I imagine this happens to Dana quite a lot though.


It's the greens, stupid

With the cold weather finally upon us, albeit in rather halfhearted fashion, has put out a press release reporting that old folk are going to be switching off the heating rather than switching it up. This has been widely reported

More than 60 per cent of elderly people will ration their heating this winter amid fears over high energy bills, according to a new survey.

As many as two in five (42 per cent) said they would also consider cutting back on food in order to meet the cost of heating their homes, comparison website said.

Hat tip then to Fenbeagle for pointing me to this report by the Competitions and Markets Authority, which found that much of the blame can be laid at the feet of environmentalists and their friends in high places:

...for electricity, the main drivers of 7 domestic price increases from 2009 to 2013 were the costs of social and environmental obligations and network costs...For gas, there has been a broadly even percentage increase in wholesale costs, network costs, obligation costs and indirect costs...



"Nothing in it is correct"

The eminent statistician (and occasional BH reader) Radford Neal has been writing a series of posts on global temperature data at his blog. There are three so far:

What can global temperature data tell us?

Has there been a pause in global warming?

and finally

Critique of "Debunking the climate hiatus", by Rajaratnam, Romano, Tsiang and Diffenbaugh.

Click to read more ...


Wanna bet?

A blog called "Professional Conflict Resolution" is calling for the two sides of the climate debate to resolve their differences by means of a positive spree of gambling. The author says that "What the climate community needs are objectively verifiable predictions", which is, I think, a position that few people on this site would disagree with.

The climate community is losing the battle because it has failed to put out objective measurable changes.  The climate community requires something akin to the Simon-Ehrlich wager. I myself see the argument as whether climate change is happening (it is) or whether the earth’s temperature is rising (it is).

The debate – indeed, the whole debate in Paris was about this – is about whether the effects of climate change will be beyond the ability of humans to adapt.  To quote a presentation by Mark Boslough, is global warming “inconvenient or catastrophic?” The future can only be projected.  We have no empirical observational data about 2025.  Or even about tomorrow.

Whether climate change is inconvenient or catastrophic must be demonstrated with predictions ahead of time

Thus I maintain that in order to obtain credibility, the climate community must provide objective benchmark predictions.  These predictions must not be subject to interpretation.  They must also be indicative of a trend and cannot be individual events like storms or droughts.

One caution: do not place bets on global temperature. This must not be about whether the world is warming. It must instead focus solely on impacts.  In order to demonstrate that there will be catastrophic things, there must be demonstrated that there was predicted these events.

The reaction should be interesting.


Green blob in control at Environment Agency

I can't help feeling that the resignation of Environment Agency chairman Sir Philip Dilley was all a bit overdone. As chairman, he doesn't presumably actually involve himself in the day-to-day running of the place; that's the job of the chief executive. The chairman is supposed to set the strategic direction, which is not something you even really want to be thinking about in the middle of a major crisis. Frankly a beach in Barbados was probably the best place for him while there were major floods around.

Now you can certainly take potshots at Sir Philip for the general state of the Environment Agency, which appears to be both thoroughly incompetent and riddled with corruption, but he was at least an engineer by background. Take a look at who has stepped into his shoes, at least on a temporary basis: the green blob personified. Emma Howard Boyd appears to have made a career in "corporate social responsibility" and is a director of a green investment fund as well as having roles in any number of green NGOs.

It will be interesting to see if they keep her on.


AEP and the GLCL*

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard has an article in the Telegraph boldly declaring that the UK is backing away from wind power just as they become competitive with fossil fuels. The story seems to be that if only wind turbines could be made really, really huge, then everything would be OK.

Cue a barrage of graphs to support the (alleged) case.

Click to read more ...


How can the BBC help you advertise your wares better, Mr Green Blob?

BBC preparations for the arrival of the Green BlobMy thanks to Stewgreen for pointing me to this excerpt from Jeremy Leggett's new book, describing a meeting with Roger Harrabin:

In the headquarters of the Britsh Broadcasting Corporation, I sit talking with veteran environment correspondent, Roger Harrabin. I am accompanied by my Solarcentury colleagues Frans van den Heuvel and Sarah Allison. We want to explore with Roger whether there are ways that solar energy can be better covered on television.

Click to read more ...


Captain Marvel comes unstuck

While everyone else was out partying on Hogmanay, Bob Ward was hard at work writing tweets about global warming. Let noone say he is not a strangely obsessive personality.

This was a bit of a silly thing for Bob to say though because I had written a post about the said paper, by Marvel et al, some two weeks earlier, noting that it looked a bit unphysical in places.

Click to read more ...


Sustainable science - Josh 356

New Year is always a time to resolve to do better and maybe recycle stuff from 2015 that's lying around doing nothing useful. Happy 2016!

H/t to golf charlie for the inspiration ;-)

Posted by Josh


Holyrood smothers another new industry at birth

Cluff Natural Resources has stopped all work on its plans for underground coal gasification in the Firth of Forth. There seems to be a strong hint that the are turning their backs on the development for good.

The Holyrood administration's moratorium has killed off coalbed methane development north of the border completely. It now looks as if they have done for UCG as well.

It's hard to imagine any unsubsidised industrial business wanting to invest in Scotland when the administration is at the beck and call of the greens.


The BBC and the chief scientist

Ben Pile highlights a fascinating comment at Guido's blog:

In 2010, I was on a research trip to an area north of Svalbard. We were lucky enough to have a So-Called BBC journalist along for the ride. Unfortunately, my cabin was very close to his which meant that I had to listen to him editing his riveting reports about Climate Change™ before they were broadcast on BBC Climate Change 24. He'd just interviewed a Danish glaciologist that we had with us who explained a process with the sea ice that was "a negative feedback" (contrary to climate change bollox). I heard Mr X, the journalist, rewind and replay the tape about 5 times before he finally rang the chief scientist for advice because "I'm not sure this is putting out the right message...."

This raises a few questions: is this the government chief scientist that is referred to? And who was the BBC journalist? I'm struggling to find a BBC article about Svalbard around that time.

It would be extraordinary if the BBC was contacting the GCSA for "lines to take".

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