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Entries by Bishop Hill (6690)


Quote of the day, sound science edition

...can you guys fill in the "look at the impacts we're already seeing" part with a bunch of examples? In addition to the scientifically sound examples you'll give it would also be good for me to get an updated list of extreme events that are plausibly climate related.

US climate envoy Todd Stern reaches out beyond the scientifically sound

Via Chris Horner.


Fifty shades of green

Peter Lilley's speech during the Energy Bill debate in the House of Commons on Monday is well worth a look. This is the text, lightly edited.

Mr Peter Lilley (Hitchin and Harpenden) (Con):

…Wherever we are on the spectrum on global warming, from sceptical to alarmist, we can surely all agree on one thing: that we should try to achieve the targets to which we are committed for reducing CO2 at the least cost to our constituents, - because it is ultimately they who bear it either through their [household] budgets or their jobs. So when the Secretary of State found that subsidies were proving unnecessarily generous to achieve our targets and we were achieving them ahead of time, so that without changing those targets she could reduce those subsidies, I assumed the whole House would be in universal agreement with what she was proposing; even I, for once, was on her side. But it was not so: there were calls from the green lobby and the Opposition to keep subsidies higher than necessary for longer than necessary to achieve the targets to which we are committed.

Click to read more ...


Bob Carter

I awake this morning to the sad news of the passing of Bob Carter.

I never met Bob, but we exchanged emails from time to time, particularly when I was providing editorial input to his paper on sea-level rise, which I still rate as one of the best things GWPF has published. He had a very sharp mind, but was great fun to work with. His strength of character in the face of years of personal attacks is an example to us all.

Steve McIntyre and Anthony Watts both have more personal recollections.


Diary dates, tree rings edition


Academic: let's try violence

It goes without saying that huge numbers of academics are a waste of time, space and money, but on a purely selfish level I'd hate anyone to actually deal with the problem. Where else are you going to get an endless stream of people willing to make fools of themselves in public? Without them I'd have nothing to write about.

There I was this morning struggling for something to write about, when Dr Tara Smith came to my rescue. Dr Smith is a legal scholar (allegedly) at Bangor University in Wales, although she is a native of Ireland. In The Conversation, she has set out her view on why environmentalists should be able to break the law with impunity. This was prompted by a US court deciding to throw out an argument by a bunch of hippies that their blocking oil trains was justified by "necessity" and therefore not criminal. 

Click to read more ...


Wam, bam

At the start of March, the University of Exeter is hosting an extreme weather day, as part of WAMfest, the festival of weather art and music. The festival programme can seen here, and the extreme weather event is described as follows:

What is happening to our weather? An entertaining and informative evening full of surprises with one of the country's leading science communicators, Helen Czerski and the Chief Scientist of the Met Office, Prof. Dame Julia Slingo OBE FRS. 

In the first half of the evening Helen Czerski and leading climate scientist, Dr. Peter Stott of the Met Office will embark on an exploration of extreme weather, including here in Devon, and how this fits into a pattern of changing climate. As they will discuss, there is so much more to climate change than global warming. Find out how the climate varies from a host of fascinating natural processes, and how science is making progress at helping all of us be more resilient to its vagaries.

After the interval, Helen is joined by Prof Dame Julia Slingo OBE FRS, Chief Scientist of the Met Office and other leading experts to explore with you, the audience, some of the intriguing questions raised earlier. Chaired by Prof. Paul Hardaker, Chief Executive of the Institute of Physics and with Prof. Peter Cox of the University of Exeter, our panel will invite your questions and take you on an entertaining journey through the science of weather and climate and what it means for you.

If anyone is going along, a report would be welcome.


A crack in the ivory tower

The Bookseller is reporting that Penguin Random House has been experimenting with a non-graduate recruitment scheme. So successful has it been that they have now decided that they are going to waive the need for candidates to be degree qualified at all.

The main point of universities was always to act as a filter for employers, revealing those best academically equipped for management positions. When Tony Blair decided to vastly increase the numbers of young people who went to university, that raison d'etre disappeared. Penguin's new approach is therefore simply a logical response.

Is this the beginning of the end for university education?


Carbon debrief has its pants down

Updated on Jan 18, 2016 by Registered CommenterBishop Hill

Updated on Jan 18, 2016 by Registered CommenterBishop Hill

With the Port Talbot steelworks layoffs in the news, I was interested to see this tweet from Carbon Brief's Simon Evans this morning.



The linked article, which seeks to divert blame away from energy costs, has this rather remarkable claim:

Click to read more ...


Renewables slump on the way

The Independent is reporting research that suggests that investment in renewable energy is about to slump dramatically. The research comes from BNEF, so the usual caveats about reliability apply.

The dour forecast comes as the industry celebrated a record-breaking year in 2015, with billions of pounds poured into solar and wind energy and more homes powered by nature than ever before. But experts have warned this is all about to grind to a halt as the Government abandons its commitment to green energy and instead invests in fracking and nuclear power.

And of course this is all happening just as renewables become cost competitive with fossil fuels.

Dr Doug Parr, chief scientist and policy director at Greenpeace UK, said: “Wind and solar energy are at the point of becoming really competitive with fossil fuels, but failure to support them for another few years will result in huge losses of potential jobs.”

If this is true then it's good news for everyone other than the subsidy junkies. But we will have to wait and see.


January hurricanes

There has been a certain amount of interest in a tropic weather system, christened Hurricane Alex, which is apparently the first Atlantic hurricane for nearly a century:

Alex first became a hurricane in the eastern Atlantic Ocean Thursday, making it just the second hurricane on record to form in that basin during the month of January. The last hurricane that formed in the Atlantic during January was in 1938, according to NOAA's historical hurricane tracker database

Click to read more ...


Name them!

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.

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