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Flush with success - Josh 266


It seemed wrong not to mark this weeks big news, though I realise no cartoon can come close to the hilarity of Lew's paper problems. I am sure there is solution round the bend, er... I mean, corner.

Cartoons by Josh

[H/t Simon Abingdon for mopping up the typo ]


Diary date: Exeter

The University of Exeter is to hold a conference in May to discuss where the global warming movement goes in the aftermath of the IPCC's Fifth Assessment Report.

International experts will discuss the future of climate change research following the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report.

The Transformational Climate Science conference, hosted by the University of Exeter in partnership with the Met Office and University of Leeds, takes place on 15 and 16 May.

Globally renowned researchers will share their perspectives on the cutting-edge of science and social science.

Details here.


Geographical magazine does climate

Geographical, the members magazine of the Royal Geographical Society has a climate change supplement ("Climate Change. Here...Now...") out with its current issue.

You know things are bad when you can find things to object to on the contents page, but this is the measure of just how awful it is. There above the contents we see the image that appeared on the cover of Nature when it published Eric Steig's paper that purported to have found warming in West Antartica - a result that a subsequent paper  showed to be a function of erroneous methodology rather than the underlying data. It's as if the "compelling image" was simply too good to miss.

Click to read more ...


The Lew roll

You turn your back for a few hours and all hell breaks loose!

I return to my desk to find that Desmog blog has published the University of Western Australia's correspondence relating to the Lew Paper - in other words all the complaints by sceptics. I'm hearing on the grapevine that some of them are missing however.

Meanwhile Lew himself has written about the takedown of the paper here, and there is a long video here if you have a strong stomach.

Meanwhile, Retraction Watch's coverage of the affair can be seen here.


Flushed away

Via Ben Pile we learn that the Lew Paper - the 'Recursive Fury' one, about reactions to the bonkers conspiracy theorists one - has been retracted, or is about to be. It seems that a Dana Nuccitelli post went up at Skeptical Science announcing the paper's end an hour or so ago. The post has now been removed from public view, although Google's cache enables us to see it in all its glory.

...nobody likes being called a conspiracy theorist, and thus climate contrarians really didn't appreciate Recursive Fury.  Very soon after its publication, the journal Frontiers was receiving letters from contrarians threatening libel lawsuits.  In late March 2013, the journal decided to "provisionally remove the link to the article while these issues are investigated."  The paper was in limbo for nearly a full year until Frontiers finally caved to these threats.

Click to read more ...


Mann latest

Over at his blog, Mark Steyn rounds up the latest news on the libel suits he's sharing with Michael Mann. Mann says he can't allow Steyn to discover his documents until everyone else involved in the suits, including Rand Simberg and the National Review, allow him to get hold of their documents. And NRO and Simberg are not going to go through with document discovery while they try to get the case thrown out.

Quite why Mann can't comply in the meantime is unclear, but it may well be that we are seeing the legal process and the endless delays being used as a grinding down tactic by Mann and his "friends in higher places".


The Krebs recycle

Lord Krebs, the zoologist who has found his way to the helm of the UK's climate change adapation efforts as head of the CCC Adaptation Subcommittee, has been interviewed in The Conversation.

With the incredible success of fracking in the US, many people in UK are very excited about the possibility of fracked gas. Areas that have historically had very large coal reserves are also associated with natural gas.

But there’s huge uncertainty about the amount of gas — anywhere from a year to decades; it’s not going to be easy to get out unlike in the US, because the rocks are highly fragmented; and some of the places where gas is likely to be abundant are densely populated or sites of natural beauty.

I'm not aware of Lord Krebs ever having voiced concern about placing the considerably more intrusive wind turbines in densely populated areas - see one example here.Perhaps readers can point me to occasions that I've missed.

But what about his other point - that in UK shales the rocks are heavily fragmented, making it hard to extract gas from. I'm slightly bemused by this idea. Even Greenpeace seem to give considerable weight to the idea that UK shales are likely to be better than those in the USA. Readers will recall that the faulting idea originated with geophysicist David Smythe, now retired to the South of France to be an eco-activist. Smythe's claims have been given a good going over by James Verdon and it seems that faulting in the USA has been no barrier to shale gas extraction.

It's depressing to see Lord Krebs channelling the wilder claims of an eco-activist in this way, but to tell the truth it's not unexpected from the Committee on Climate Change.


Peiser without 

RTE's Prime Time show, featuring Benny Peiser and not featuring An Taisce president John Sweeney, was broadcast yesterday and the video can seen for the next few days here (from 18 mins).

It's rather good.


Mann on climate sensitivity and counting

Michael Mann, a man who never saw a fray he didn't want to enter, has decided to enter the climate sensitivity fray, with an article published simultaneously in the Huffington Post and Scientific American. Some of it is a bit odd to tell the truth.

For example, take this bit about the IPCC's decision to reduce the lower bound on its estimate of climate sensitivity down to 1.5°C.

The IPCC had lowered the bottom end of the range, down from the two degrees C it had set in its Fourth Assessment Report, issued in 2007. The IPCC based the lowered bound on one narrow line of evidence: the slowing of surface warming during the past decade—yes, the faux pause.

However, those who have read the relevant parts of the Fifth Assessment and indeed those who are familiar with the recent Lewis/Crok report on climate sensitivity will be aware that the IPCC actually gave a completely different explanation for their decision to reduce the lower bound.

The lower temperature limit of the assessed likely range is thus less than the 2°C in the AR4, but the upper limit is the same. This assessment reflects improved understanding, the extended temperature record in the atmosphere and ocean, and new estimates of radiative forcing.

I don't know about you, but I count that as three lines of evidence not one.


Heat or eat?

Ross McKitrick emails to point me to an interesting new paper in the Journal of the Royal Statistical Society A about how UK households alter their spending in response to cold weather.

Do households cut back on food spending to finance the additional cost of keeping warm during spells of unseasonably cold weather? For households which cannot smooth consumption over time, we describe how cold weather shocks are equivalent to income shocks. We merge detailed household level expenditure data from older households with historical regional weather information. We find evidence that the poorest of older households cannot smooth fuel spending over the worst temperature shocks. Statistically significant reductions in food spending occur in response to winter temperatures 2 or more standard deviations colder than expected, which occur about 1 winter month in 40; reductions in food expenditure are considerably larger in poorer households.

The full text is available here. There are a number of caveats to the findings that are worth taking on board.


Ed's evidence of low TCR

This is a guest post by Nic Lewis.

As many readers will know, there is a lengthy and pretty civilised discussion of the recent Lewis/Crok report ‘A Sensitive Matter’ on Ed Hawkins' blog Climate Lab Book, here. In that report, we gave a 'likely' (17-83% probability) range for the transient climate response (TCR) of 1.0°C to 2.0°C. TCR is more relevant to warming over the rest of this century than equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS).

The guest post by Piers Forster that headed the Climate Lab Book thread made the mistaken claim:

Particularly relevant, is our analysis in Forster et al. (2013) that confirms that the Gregory and Forster (2008) method employed in the Lewis & Crok report to make projections (by scaling TCR) leads to systematic underestimates of future temperature change (see Figure 1), especially for low emissions scenarios, as was already noted by Gregory and Forster (2008).

Click to read more ...


Academic takedown

One of the perennial gripes of the sceptic community is the failure of academics to rebut the wilder eructations of environmentalists. That being the case, it's welcome to see two residents of the ivory tower giving voice to their disdain for recent distortions by our green friends.

First up is Richard Betts, responding in the comments thread to a preposterous article in the Independent, entitled "Official prophecy of doom: Global warming will cause widespread conflict, displace millions of people and devastate the global economy":

I'm one of the authors of the IPCC WG2 report, and I think this article by the Independent is highly irresponsible, especially the headline.

Click to read more ...


Walport's presentation

Mark Walport's staff have kindly made available the slides he used in Glasgow. They can be seen here.

As I have suggested previously, the talk was a recitation of the standard case for alarm, but there were many aspects of it that piqued my interest. For example, I noted that while warming up to the first slide he spoke about energy security first, before moving on to climate. Later on in the talk he spoke of the three lenses through which the climate problem had to be viewed and the first of these was again energy security. Is this a new tack? Are backsides starting to be covered? Perhaps.

Click to read more ...


Kickoff at Airth

The public inquiry into Dart Energy's plans to extract coalbed methane at Airth on the Firth of Forth kicks off today. As one might expect, Friends of the Earth Scotland are busy trying to mislead the public, sticking a #fracking hashtag on their tweets so as to kid on that fracking is an issue in the inquiry. In fact the planning permission doesn't involve fracking at all and I seem to remember the Dart guys telling me that the coal seams at Airth are unsuitable for deploying the technique.

We will watch with interest.


Sceptics' new friends

Updated on Mar 18, 2014 by Registered CommenterBishop Hill

The Columbia Journalism Review takes a look at the ongoing attempts to get hold of Michael Mann's emails and revels in the delicious irony of leftie journalists finding themselves filing an amicus brief that will help the evil right-wing fossil-fuel-funded denier conspirators in their nefarious aims.

Organized by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, 17 news organizations, including National Public Radio, Dow Jones, and The Washington Post, submitted an amicus brief in November, supporting the group’s rights to Mann’s emails.

“By defining an exemption to the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (‘VFOIA’) as broadly as the lower court has done, this Court Would be, in effect, removing almost all public documents from the ambit of the records law,” reads the brief. By exempting Mann’s emails from public release, the group argues, the court is setting what journalists see as a dangerous precedent—making it much more difficult to gain access to public records.

Click to read more ...

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