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The poetry of global warming

Dame Julia Slingo has, like so many of her colleagues, been turning her mind to climate change communication, and reckons that talking about the science in dull technical reports may not be the way forward. Getting the message of impending disaster out requires a dose of funky, a dash of sexy, and a whole lot of poetry.

“We have to look increasingly at what society requires of us… We increasingly recognise that to reach the general public we have to use all sorts of different channels of communication,” Dame Julia told a recent gathering of leading climate change scientists at the University of Exeter.

Click to read more ...


Statistical sierra

Sierra Rayne, writing at the American Thinker blog over the weekend, took a gentle pop at AP's Seth Borenstein for making alarmist claims regional temperature trends in the USA while barely paying lipservice to standard statistical techniques.


The AP used "the least squares regression method" to calculate the annual temperature trend for all these regions, but then proceeded to ignore entirely whether the regression method indicated if the trend was statistically significant (the typical criteria would be a p-value<0.05).

This is first-year statistics level stuff.  Quite simply, if your statistical test ("least squares regression method") tells you the trend isn't significant, you cannot claim there is a trend, since the null hypothesis (i.e., no trend) cannot be rejected with any reasonable degree of confidence.

In an area like climate, you would have thought an experienced journalist like Borenstein would take some statistical advice before writing.



A la Southern Annual Mode

As I understand it, GCMs say that ice extent at both poles should be reducing as global warming hits the poles in advance of the rest of the planet. The increase in Antarctic sea ice is therefore another question mark over the veracity and trustworthiness of climate model output.

That's the way I understand it, anyway. According to this article at The Conversation, I'm completely wrong. The increase in extent is due to changes in the Southern Annual Mode, a sort of El Nino of the Antarctic.

Here’s the kicker: the strengthening of SAM over recent decades has been directly linked to human activity. Since the 1940s, ozone depletion and increasing greenhouse gases have caused the westerly winds to intensify and migrate south towards Antarctica. The net effect of this drives sea ice further north and increases its total extent.

There is still plenty of great work ahead to improve our understanding and modelling of Antarctica’s climate, but a basic message is emerging. Far from discounting climate change in the Southern Hemisphere, the apparent paradox of Antarctic sea ice is telling us that it is real and that we are contributing to it.

So this means that the models don't recreate the Southern Annular Mode then?


LWEC Report Card: A microcosm of global warming exaggeration and errors

This is a guest post by reader 'Peartreefruiting'.

[Addition below by author's request 11.30am, 7.6.2014]

In the Annual Review 2013 of the British Trust for Ornithology there is an article entitled “There will be changes afoot”, which details observed and expected changes to British habitat as a result of global warming.  It contains the statement “warmer springs have also led to a trend towards many biological events becoming earlier”.  Since 2013 was the coldest British spring for 50 years, it seemed strange timing for such a statement, so I decided to probe into it.  The article on its own has no verifiable data, but it gives a link to this page at the LWEC website, which in turn links to a document entitled “Biodiversity English for Web.pdf”.   LWEC is the organization “Living with Environmental Change”, and its website states that it is a partnership of 22 major UK public sector funders and users of environmental research, including the research councils and central government departments.

Click to read more ...


Environmentalists trashing the environment, part 324

One of the greens' most successful campaigns in recent years has been to persuade EU bureaucrats to ban the class of pesticides known as the neonicotinoids. This was pretty much the precautionary principle in its pure form, with only anecdotal evidence that there was a problem.

Unfortunately quite a lot of systematic evidence has now been produced which seems to show that there is not actually a problem with bee deaths at all.

The commission’s moratorium vote, which took effect throughout the EU in December 2013, came despite contradictory field evidence—and well before the release of a spate of new studies suggesting that bee health is now improving globally. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported in May that bee deaths dropped more than 25 percent this past winter, and that the overall population has increased 13 percent since 2008.

Click to read more ...


Climate policy and the poor

Tony Kelly's final paper, a GWPF briefing note entitled "Climate Policy and the Poor" has just been published.

The changes imposed thus far have not dealt with the risks of climate change through a sensible, steady and sustained improvement in energy and other technologies and have therefore failed to address the problems of the here and now, of which the abject poverty of large numbers of people is perhaps the most pressing. In this, the consequences of the Kyoto Protocol have been immoral.


Shut your eyes, Mr Davey

The central premise of government energy policy is that fossil fuel prices are going to continue to rise. All the claimed benefits of renewables are calculated against a such a rising baseline for a fossil-fuelled future.

It's therefore interesting to see that UK natural gas prices are now falling and have reached a six-month low:

The largest deliveries of liquefied natural gas cargoes to the U.K. in a year are sending prices for the day-ahead fuel in Europe’s biggest market to a sixth monthly decline, the longest losing streak since at least 2007.

The day-ahead contract on the National Balancing Point gas hub dropped to the lowest since October 2011, heading for an 8.2 percent drop this month, broker data compiled by Bloomberg showed. Ten cargoes from Qatar arrived at the U.K.’s South Hook terminal this month, the most in a year, according to port authorities and ship-tracking data on Bloomberg.

I think Ed Davey will need to turn a Nelsonian eye to this one.


Anthony Kelly

Tony Kelly, an stalwart member of GWPF's Academic Advisory Council, has passed away. This is the notice posted at GWPF.

Professor Anthony Kelly CBE FREng FRS died on 3 June 2014 aged 85. He is regarded by many as the father of composite materials in the UK.

In 2011 he was honoured for his distinguished career, spanning more than 60 years, with the President’s Medal of the Royal Academy of Engineering for contributing significantly to the Academy’s aims and work through excellence in engineering.

After an early career in Cambridge, where he was a founding Fellow of Churchill College, he was director of the National Physical Laboratory and subsequently Vice-Chancellor of Surrey University before returning to Cambridge and Churchill College on his retirement in 1996.

He was a scientist of the old school, who took ‘Nullius in verba’ as a matter of daily practice. He was properly sceptical until the real world data confirmed his or others’ ideas. He was not impressed by the modern tendency to use incomplete data to weave elaborate stories that could be undone by hard data, or worse, were not capable of falsification. He led the successful effort to get 43 Fellows to petition the Council of the Royal Society to modify its public stance on climate science in 2010, and was unhappy with the most recent announcements of that body. He played a key role in helping the Global Warming Policy Foundation get set up and was a founding and active member of its Academic Advisory Council. He spent his later years as a critic of some aspects of climate science where the consequential actions seemed to him to be doing more harm than good to humanity.

I met Professor Kelly on a number of occasions and interviewed him about the Rebellion of the 43 as part of my research for the Nullius in Verba report. He was someone who cared deeply about where climate science was going wrong and the effect this was having on ordinary people around the world.

A great loss.


The new review

A new review of The Hockey Stick Illusion has appeared at the Texas GOPVote blog:

With the recent news of a leading scientist being gagged from reporting his finding and the recent attempt by many in the climatologists' circle to destroy the reputation of those who disagree with their finds, Andrew Montford’s The Hockey Stick Illusion is worth reading, simply to understand the mindset of the climate alarmists and how far they are willing to go. This book reads like a mystery as opposed to science as Montford exposes how a major study, declared as the silver bullet for proof of man-made climate change, proved to be wrong and how much of the scientific establishment went out of its way to defend what they should have condemned.


Explain this

Updated on Jun 5, 2014 by Registered CommenterBishop Hill

A group of academics has written to the Guardian calling for the country to just get a move on with developing our shale resources.

It says: "As geoscientists and petroleum engineers from Britain's leading academic institutions, we call on all political and decision-makers at all levels to put aside their political differences and focus on the undeniable economic, environmental and national security benefits on offer to the UK from the responsible development of natural gas from Lancashire's shale."

The Guardian is predictably sniffy about these benefits pointing, as always, to claims that shale developments in the UK will not lead to price reductions because of the pipeline connections to the continent.

Click to read more ...


Silly social science

From the long and turgid annals of the Society of Silly Social Science Studies comes a paper by two academics at the University of Maine. Bridie McGreavy and Laura Lindenfeld have been examining three examples of the cinematographer's art as applied to the global warming debate, namely The Day After Tomorrow, Sizzle and An Inconvenient Truth.

All three films had their critics. All three have their factual errors and distortions. All three have their hidden agendas. None of the films is peer-reviewed science...obviously. Nevertheless, such storytelling does have an impact on popular culture and public perception regarding a given issue. McGreavy and Lindenfeld suggest that dominant representations of race and gender in these films fail to align with the key sustainable development goals of equity, freedom and shared responsibility. Instead, their position as "entertainment" influences our sense of the world, guides our relationships and may well affect, in a detrimental manner, our collective abilities to create a sustainable future.

You thought that the problem with An Inconvenient Truth was that it was a lot of scientific baloney. But actually the film's big failing is that it reinforces "racial, gender and sexual stereotypes". Who would have thought it?


Consensus collapse

Most people who have looked at John Cook's legendary 97% consensus paper would say it is little more than a legend, but the study's continued citation in the popular press does leave a pressing need for a thorough refutation, which has now helpfully been provided by Richard Tol. The paper is paywalled here and there is a useful presentation of the results here, which is more accessible to the layman.

Overall, Cook did not show what he claimed to show. He merely demonstrated his incompetence in survey design and statistical analysis. The secrecy around the data suggests that there are more problems.

Click to read more ...



An interesting headline in the Australian - paywalled, so I can't see the rest of the article:

AUSTRALIA’S peak body of earth scientists has declared itself unable to publish a position statement on climate change due to the deep divisions within its membership on the issue.

After more than five years of debate and two false starts, Geological Society of Australia president Laurie Hutton said a statement on climate change was too difficult to achieve.

This is very interesting, because it suggests that the society has actually asked its members what they think. What a refreshing contrast to the learned societies in the UK, whose politically inclined leaderships are happy to issue statements in the names of their members without batting an eyelid.


Hitting back at scientivists

In recent months, US lawmakers have been putting their collective foot down in a bid to prevent every bureaucrat in Washington from splurging taxpayers' monies in spurious bids to save the planet from the spectre of climate change. Just last week it emerged that the Pentagon was told that melting icecaps (allegedly) were none of its business.

This robust approach to political activism and wild excess within the bureaucracy seems to be catching on, with the Abbott government in Australia slashing green "research" budgets too, as the Guardian reports:

It’s no secret that Joe Hockey’s first budget took the knife to many federal spending programs. But science and innovation were among the hardest hit areas. In addition to cuts to the CSIRO, there were cuts to basic research at the Australian Research Council, as well as cuts to the Australian Institute for Marine Science and the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation. Also slashed was funding for postgraduate researchers, for environmental science, clean technologies, water science and Cooperative Research Centres. There have also been huge cuts to R&D and innovation programs, and to virtually every federal renewable energy program.

It can't happen in the UK of course, partly because greenery is part of the Cameron brand and partly because the demented-green Liberal Democrats are in charge of the Department of Business Innovation and Skills, which is responsible for research funding. So we will just have to watch as things are sorted out in Australia.

The lucky country indeed.


A falling out

It's fun to watch the tiff that has developed between uber-upholder of the climate consensus Chris Mooney and the New York Times' Andy Revkin. Mooney has written a piece highlighting the growing use in the New York Times climate coverage of what is described (by the headline writer at least) as "weasel words". This is what you and I, gentle reader, would call "statements of uncertainty". Mooney's article was prompted by a study by one of Max Boykoff's students, which find that the New York Times, alone among US newspapers, is now using such terminology much more often and much more so than Spanish newspapers.

In response, Revkin has described Mooney's take as "spin" and wonders why he would prefer the nuances of American journalism to the certainties that apparently dominate Spanish coverage. Mooney of course is a political campaigner and wants public support for his policy preferences, so public understanding of uncertainties is not really going to help his cause. So as long as people like Revkin occasionally lard their articles with expressions of doubt, the Mooneys of this world are going to try to get them to stop.



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