Nicholas Stern was on the BBC's Hardtalk show, being grilled by Zeinab Badawi about his recent report.
For a BBC journalist, Badawi did not too bad a job of taking potshots at Stern, with ammunition apparently sourced from Richard Tol. I was amused when she called Stern a "climate lobbyist", before correcting herself.
Stern himself was deeply unimpressive, with the mannerisms and delivery of a minor council official rather than a great academic sage and, as Pielke Jr notes on Twitter, constantly resorting to namedropping rather than rational argument. I was struck also by his allegation that Tol builds his conclusions into his economic models. This struck me as quite a strong thing to say.
Doug Keenan has posted a strong critique of Ross McKitrick's recent paper on the duration of the pause at his own website. I am reproducing it here.
McKitrick  performs calculations on series of global surface temperatures, and claims to thereby determine the duration of the current apparent stall in global warming. Herein, the basis for those calculations is considered.
Much of McKitrick  deals with a concept known as a “time series”. A time series is any series of measurements taken at regular time intervals. Examples include the following: the maximum temperature in London each day; prices on the New York Stock Exchange at the close of each business day; the total wheat harvest in Canada each year. Another example is the average global temperature each year.
The techniques required to analyze time series are generally different from those required to analyze other types of data. The techniques are usually taught only in specialized statistics courses.
Physicist and science writer Jon Butterworth has written a layman's introduction to Bayes' theorem, touching at one point on its use in climate change:
If you have a prior assumption that modern life is rubbish and technology is intrinsically evil, then you will place a high prior probability on Carbon Dioxide emissions dooming us all. On the other hand, if your prior bias is toward the idea that there is massive plot by huge multinational environmental corporations, academics and hippies to deprive you of the right to drive the kids to school in a humvee, you will place a much lower weight on mounting evidence of anthropogenic climate change. If your prior was roughly neutral, you will by now be pretty convinced that we have a problem with global warming. In any case, anyone paying attention as evidence mounts would eventually converge on the right answer, whatever their prior - though it may come too late to affect the outcome, of course.
The use of Bayes' theorem in climate science is so much more interesting than this: as readers at BH no doubt know, the IPCC's use of a uniform prior in ECS for its "neutral" starting point biased the posterior towards higher estimates of future warming. Secondly, do we really have "mounting evidence"? Surely what we have is comparisons of unvalidated physical models to observations.
Another day, another fire at a recycling plant, this time at a site near Hull (H/T Stewgreen).
Firefighters were battling a major fire at a waste recycling plant in Melton early today.
The fire broke out at a large facility in Gibson Lane shortly after 7am.
At least six crews from Humberside Fire and Rescue were in attendance and large plumes of acrid black smoke could be seen coming from the scene.
This is getting to be a familiar story isn't it?
One criticism of the energy budget model approach that lies behind these kind of studies is that it doesn't take into account the role of the oceans in taking up excess heat. Other estimates of climate sensitivity using climate models support the higher end of the IPCC's likely range.
Carbon Brief is struggling again.
Another day, another Judith Curry paper. This time it's in Geophysical Research Letters and is concerns the much-neglected question of just how good climate models are at hindcasting:
The bulk of our knowledge about causes of 20th century climate change comes from simulations using numerical models. In particular, these models seemingly reproduce the observed nonuniform global warming, with periods of faster warming in 1910–1940 and 1970–2000, and a pause in between. However, closer inspection reveals some differences between the observations and model simulations. Here we show that observed multidecadal variations of surface climate exhibited a coherent global-scale signal characterized by a pair of patterns, one of which evolved in sync with multidecadal swings of the global temperature, and the other in quadrature with them. In contrast, model simulations are dominated by the stationary — single pattern — forced signal somewhat reminiscent of the observed “in-sync” pattern most pronounced in the Pacific. While simulating well the amplitude of the largest-scale — Pacific and hemispheric — multidecadal variability in surface temperature, the model underestimates variability in the North Atlantic and atmospheric indices.
This notice of a meeting to honour the life and works of Nigel Calder has just been published.
Nigel Calder 1931-2014
Royal Astronomical Society
London W1J OBQ
Tuesday 2 December 2014 at 4pm
Followed by an informal reception 5-6pm
This is to let you know that we are arranging an hour-long programme of talks celebrating the life and work of the science writer Nigel Calder. Speakers are to be confirmed but will include his co-writer and friend Professor Henrik Svensmark. This event will take place on 2 December, which would have been Nigel’s 83rd birthday.
Further details, including how to reserve a seat, will be published on Nigel's blog on 11 November. In the interim, any enquiries may be made by phone to 07771 620433.
The Telegraph is reporting the latest official figures about wind energy generation in the UK. Despite a rapid increase in capacity since last year, output in the three months to June was actually lower than a year ago because the wind hasn't been blowing hard enough.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) said that the impact of increased capacity was “out-weighed by that of very low wind speeds”.
“Average wind speeds were 1.6 knots lower than a year earlier, and the lowest for quarter two for four years. Average wind speeds in June were the lowest for any month in the last 14 years,” it said.
A glance at Gridwatch suggests that the next three months is going to be even worse. September has been nothing short of disastrous for wind generators, with the whole wind fleet at a virtual standstill.
This is a guest post by Katabasis.
It’s been an interesting few days, having attended both the Cook and Mann talks and have some valuable meetings (many for the first time) with other climate sceptics. I wanted to share a perspective that deviates somewhat from what appears to be an emerging – er – ‘consensus’ among a number of the people I had the pleasure to spend time with over the last week or so. There has been discussion in person, here and over at WUWT regarding the pursuit of some kind of rapprochement with the mainstream of climate science and climate scientists. A significant feature of the conversation thus far appears to be concern over the fractious nature of the debate, especially online. In particular there have been concerns raised regarding the effect on, and perception of, sceptics more generally as a result of the more angry and impassioned amongst us.
I want to offer something of a counterpoint. I want to, instead, make a few points in defence of angry sceptics.
The world's first climate cartoon selfie: includes Anthony Watts, Nic Lewis, Andrew Montford, David & Kate Holland, Caroline K, Richard Drake, Katabasis, James Delingpole, Leo Hickman, Richard Betts, Barry Woods, Michel Opdebeeck, Stephan Lewandowsky, John Cook and me holding Michael Mann in place for this historic moment. Were you there too? I drew you in the back somewhere ;-)
In the wake of the suggestion that Lewandowsky organised a lot of soft questions for Michael Mann after his Cabot Institute lecture, I was thinking about Mann's apparently interminable book tour. I wondered if there is any record of Mann ever having been on the end of a difficult question on one of his numerous public appearances.
Perhaps readers can suggest examples.
I recently chanced upon a report about the plans that Belgium has put in place to deal with its impending electricity crisis, brought about by the shutdown of several of its nuclear reactors. It seems that the country is to be divided into six zones, which will each take their turn to be switched off when the grid is about to be overwhelmed. A more detailed version of the plan, released last week, shows who will be affected, right down to street level.
We knew about the Belgian energy crisis already, but somehow seeing the brownout plans up close brings the whole thing home.
Over at the Telegraph, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard is extolling the virtues of molten salt nuclear reactors, suggesting that these represent the future and could be cheaper and safer than the pressurised water reactors that are currently in vogue.
The Alvin Weinberg Foundation in London is tracking seven proposals across the world for molten salt reactors (MSRs) rather than relying on solid uranium fuel. Unlike conventional reactors, these operate at atmospheric pressure. They do not need vast reinforced domes. There is no risk of blowing off the top.
The reactors are more efficient. They burn up 30 times as much of the nuclear fuel and can run off spent fuel. The molten salt is inert so that even if there is a leak, it cools and solidifies. The fission process stops automatically in an accident. There can be no chain-reaction, and therefore no possible disaster along the lines of Chernobyl or Fukushima. That at least is the claim.
It's an idea, anyway.
Nic Lewis and Judith Curry have a new paper out in Climate Dynamics and report that climate sensitivity is even lower than previously thought. There is a long but somewhat technical writeup at WUWT, so this is my attempt to explain it all in layman's terms.
There seem to be two main strands of innovation in the paper. Firstly Nic and Judy have used the estimates of ocean heat uptake and radiative forcings reported in the Fifth Assessment itself. Secondly, they have made their energy budget approach somewhat more sophisticated in order to deal with the twin problems of volcanos and natural cycles.