2017-11-17

Noises off

dick Not much going on is there? ATTP is talking about Mertonian Norms but really, I cannot raise the energy to care so he's welcome to it, and to Warren Peace. Some minor comments on wiki reminded me of my Cogito ergo Stoat, which shows how seriously people take bollox if it comes from famous people. Speaking of which, James Annan is being cwuel to Pat Frank, but someone has to do it.

RS reminds me that reports of my death have been somewhat exaggerated; but it is nice to be noticed. He also notes a bizarre plan to put advertising on an iceberg.

In my own little world I've now written up the first two days of my trip to the Ecrins last summer; more of that anon.

On the politics front, there seems to be some faint hope that Zimbabwe has a chance for sanity. That depends on a lot of things going right, but it seems faintly promising so far. Unlike Brexit, which remains unpromising.

A friend of mine makes the Economist - well, he works for Cambridge Medical Robotics.

And lastly, a US Navy pilot drew a giant cock in the sky. If I was a pilot, it's the sort of thing I'd do, which is one of the many reasons I'm not a pilot. It's not a bad effort but needs some hairs as well as something extra at the other end.

2017-11-11

Hexapodia?

23333947_10155828187957350_1525222338592911454_o Via ATTP on Twatter comes Conservatives probably can’t be persuaded on climate change. So now what? (arch). Since it's by David Roberts, you won't be surprised to find that I disagree with it. Or rather, I disagree with some of it and will therefore violently object to it's very right to exist. His tagline of "One more round of “messaging” won’t do it" is true, though hardly rises to the rank of a Key Insight. Anyway, DR writes:
Dixon’s team found that, in surveys, conservative opinion on climate solutions could not be moved by scientific or religious messages, but it could be nudged in a positive direction by messages that stressed “free market solutions.” Core values, not science, are what drive conservative opposition, Dixon tells Grossman, and “free markets” are a core value for conservatives. They view climate policy as a threat to free markets, which is the real reason they reject climate science, so messaging should assuage those fears. This is wrong. First, the idea that free markets are a core value of today’s US conservatives should provoke only laughter...
and so on. Notice DR is being offered the truth but is blinded to it by his prejudices; we're back at Rejecting Climate Change: Not Science Denial, but Regulation Phobia? Or alternatively, we're back at the New Yorker: what Democrats have learned [sic] in the year since they lost to Donald Trump. And if you judge by that article the answer is nothing: they are still pissing around trying to magic demographics instead of finding sane policies, candidates and messages. DR continues:
Most importantly of all, we must note that it’s not true that climate solutions necessarily involve violence to free market principles.
And that is correct; see for example Carbon Tax Now! But DR then asks if it’s not true that climate solutions necessarily violate the allegedly core conservative principle of free markets ... who told them that? (which is slightly oddly phrased; he is of course asking who told the Cons that Clim Sols do violate FMs). To which the answer is: most of the people pushing GW solutions via regulation are saying that very thing.

Well, I wrote the above yesterday and then re-read it and though meh; I've said much the same before. And then today I find that ATTP has posted on the same DR post, so I decided maybe it was thrilling enough to throw out the door. Per all my previous, I think DR is wrong to be giving up on persuasion; he just needs to trying thinking, instead of trying to ram the same wrong-shaped "facts" down unwilling throats. ATTP is of course correct to conclude that there is some core of people who will never be convinced and trying to find clever messaging strategies that might do so, is... a waste of time. I assert that the core is smaller than you think.

But does accepting what ATTP thinks imply those who want to actively promote change will probably have to – at times – approach this more as a fight than as some kind of polite debate? This I find somewhat dubious. If those who wanted meaningful action on GW in the USA had a majority - or the strength in other ways - to act, they would have done so. If the facts and the science are on your side but you're not strong enough to win a brawl then it is foolish to start one.

Refs


Victory for Journalist as Accuracy Complaint by ‘Contrarian’ Climate Scientist Thrown Out (Professor Ray Bates and the Village Magazine)
* Today's contribution to the tariffs debate from CH
'I'm not a bigot' Meet the U of T prof who refuses to use genderless pronouns

2017-11-08

No nation should be allowed to exit

DSC_6220 Anyone who has read my previous comments on Hansen will know that I find him somewhat over-excitable, and this one - Global Climate Justice: Making the Carbon Majors Pay for Climate Action - is no exception. It is I think a speech at COP-23. My title quote - that I find rather hard to parse - comes from
I have come to note that greenhouse gas climate forcings are accelerating, not decelerating, and sea level rise and ocean acidification are accelerating. We confront a mortal threat, now endangering, only at first, the very existence of island and low-lying nations in the Pacific and around the planet. Accordingly, ambition must be increased and enforced. No nation should be allowed to exit. Moreover, the unrequited provisions of the SUVA Declaration, Article 19, must be revived. Effective action must be undertaken not only to keep temperature rise below 1.5° C but, in my view, to return it to below 1° C to preserve island nations and global shorelines.
All fine sentiments, but what does "No nation should be allowed to exit" mean? It might mean that no nation should be allowed to exit the Paris agreement. Which would be a splendid sentiment until you came to think of how a recalcitrant state - perhaps a powerful one, like the USA - might be "persuaded" against it's well. Never mind; that's the dull interpretation. The more interesting interpretation is "No nation should be allowed to [cease to] exi[s]t". That's interesting, and I'll talk around it lower down; but first I need to fly off the handle about various crapness from Hansen.

The main of which is "Funding is required. As a matter of justice it should be extracted from those who benefitted most from fossil fuel burning -- the so-called Carbon Majors". This isn't true, as previously discussed. We had some debate about whether consumers deserved all or just most of the blame; but I don't think anyone believed that oil companies deserved all of the blame. But Hansen does. Why? Is he... totally economically illiterate? Or just propagandising? It's hard to know. He also appears to believe that the Carbon Majors have somehow extracted all this profit and piled it up in a big heap somewhere untouched, all ready for Hansen to expropriate. But of course it isn't sitting around. The carbon companies have paid it out to their shareholders. Sue all the carbon companies to death if you like and you can; you still won't get the money; it isn't there.

But Hansen wants Moah Litigation - how very Libertarian of him :-):  more effective legal action is needed... Legislators around the world could clarify the law related to liability for climate change, but courts are able now to assert jurisdiction to require fossil fuel polluters to pay their fair share. Legal scholars have outlined the path forward, and one of them is with me here today. And links to Atmospheric recovery litigation: making the fossil fuel industry pay to restore a viable climate system; Wood and Galpern. That feels somehow familiar but I find no references in my past. However, that purportedly scholarly article says "the primary responsible parties are the major fossil fuel corporations", which is clearly just more of the same drivel (and, incidentally, name-checks Hansen, so this is all going round in circles).

Hansen ends with The period of consequence requires honesty and courage. Nothing less will do. These are stirring words! But is (self-assessed) honesty and courage enough? No. It also necessary to be correct, and to have a clue what you're talking about.

No nation should be allowed to [cease to] exi[s]t


A fine sentiment: but is it true? I'm sure we'd all be happy to agree that no individual person should be killed (absent suitable exclusions for those who like the death penalty, and wars, and whatever else you need to find exclusions for). But should nations have similar rights to life? Obviously it is no defence to say that this or that nation has been killed in the past; that wouldn't establish it was all right to kill them. And nor would saying that the international order has decided it would be politically expedient to not extinguish nations make it not-right now. Somewhat belatedly bothering to look for prior art I find Right to Exist on wiki. As that says, that tends to get wrapped up in Palestine-Israel wars, so (invoking an analogue of Godwin's law) I'm not going to talk about it in that context and any comments that do so will get deleted. Meh, but apart from that there is little there, so I'll go back to making things up.

My point is that - in moral terms - we don't apply cost-benefit to individual lives; it is considered reasonable to regard them as infinitely precious. Obviously in the real world governments don't actually do that, they use value-of-life in cost-benefit all the time; but that's not morality.

Should we regard nations as also, individually, infinitely precious? I don't see why we should. One island nation (we're talking about nation-death-risk from SLR, so it's an obvious example) is much like the next island nation. Many of them are smaller than English counties, and English counties are not regarded as worthy of special protection against individual extinction.

Hansen kinda sources himself to "the SUVA Declaration, Article 19". Article one notes "existential threats to our very survival". It isn't clear what "our" means. It might mean "the nation"; that would be consistent with Hansen. Or it might mean the individual people; in which case it is somewhat dubious - they could move.

I'm expecting a certain measure of disagreement to my view from readers. If you comment, it would be nice if you could distinguish moral outrage from facts or logic or theory.

2017-11-06

The sun in your eyes made some of the lies worth believing

TheAlanParsonsProject-EyeintheSky I am the eye in the sky, Looking at you-o-oooh I can read your mind.
I am the maker of rules, Dealing with foo-o-oools, I can cheat you blind.

At least, that's what Alan Parsons thought. But today we have Donald Trump accused of obstructing satellite research into climate change by the Graun (via, for example, See No Evil: Trump/GOP Trashing our Eyes in the Sky, which is my excuse for invoking the sainted Alan); well, it's on their website but it's actually the Observer, specifically Robin McKie and I'm a bit dubious about him.

The article sayeth President Trump has been accused of deliberately obstructing research on global warming after it emerged that a critically important technique for investigating sea-ice cover at the poles faces being blocked, but articles often say that kind of thing, and in this case it undermines itself by quoting no source for these accusations. It's possible that the fling at Trump is mere ritual, because the substance, as far as I can determine it, is Republican-controlled Congress ordered destruction of vital sea-ice probe.

That does appear to be true, though exact details are murky. What is not-being-launched is DMSP-20, a replacement for DMSP-19. The wiki page on DMSP is useful, if you don't even know what they are, but of DMSP-20 it says "The failure [of DMSP-19] only left F16, F17 and F18 – all significantly past their expected 3–5 year lifespan – operational. F19's planned replacement was not carried out because in 2017 the Republican-controlled Congress ordered the destruction of the already constructed F20 probe to save money by not having to pay its storage costs." Spacenews (from March 2016) tells me "...the Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center, said... that while the Defense Department still expects to complete the termination of the DMSP program by Dec. 20, DMSP-20 remains properly stored in Sunnyvale... study, completed in September 2014, recommended against launching the satellite. But the Air Force said in April 2015 that it intended to launch the satellite in 2018... opted not to fund the program in a massive spending bill in December, kicking off plans to dispose of the satellite."

Inside Defence tells me that the "tear down" of DMSP-20 started in November 2016, "Based on the deputy secretary of defense and Air Force decisions and in accordance with congressional direction". So blaming that on Trump seems hard to justify (and Trump isn't responsible for all the world's evil  just because we all agree he's a bozo). https://directory.eoportal.org/web/eoportal/satellite-missions/d/dmsp-block-5d looks like it ought to be definitive but clearly isn't, since it hasn't noticed the sad deaths of either DMSP-19 or 20.

So does anyone have the real story? Or is there no real story, other than someone having kicked McKie?

rmg says "...Comparable (better) instruments are on the JAXA-NASA AMSR-2. But it, too, is past its design life".

Update: RC now has a post which substantially says what I said above, but with more detail. Gavin is more politic, of course, writing that the "headline is not really correct", but I think it is now clear that the headline is the usual drivel you expect from headlines. RC also points at a Nature article, Ageing satellites put crucial sea-ice climate record at risk (arch), which I inexplicably missed.

Meanwhile...


Experts Ponder Why Administration Released Tough Climate Report, says EOS. Quite possibly because it would be too much trouble to censor. But that's just another way of saying they couldn't be bothered to censor it. So another spin is because the report just says what all the other reports have said - after all, it would be rather odd if it differed substantially. Obviously the Trump administration is trusted by no-one other than fools, so pretty well everything it does will meet with this kind of response: if you hate it, you'll whinge; if you like it, you'll wonder what the hidden reasons were.

Trump is the current La-Di-Di?


What is it with all this Trump-is-the-cause-of-everything stuff? Now we have the New Yorker saying With the tacit support of President Trump, King Salman of Saudi Arabia and his powerful son launched an unprecedented purge of their own family over the weekend. C'mon, bullshit. The Saudi dictatorship continued to act like a dictatorship and they're quite capable of doing that all by themselves. You're wondering what "la-di-di" is, aren't you, but somewhat afraid to ask. Come on... person who sells lots of newspapers... sadly deceased... try pronouncing it as though French... that's right, it's a frog trying to say "Lady Di(ana)".

For NPR's take, you get With Saudi Arrests, Crown Prince Shows He Can Force Change. But It's Not Democracy. Um, yes. The clue is in the words "Crown" and "Prince".

Refs

Trump Wrongly Blamed for Destroying Sea Ice Satellite: November 6th, 2017 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

2017-11-04

Anti-fb drivel

23157071_768966359966353_3134902088891222076_o I finally got sick of all the anti-fb drivel coming out. But perhaps your experience isn't like mine. Here's what I see (PF(S|B)F = post-from-(scientific|blogging-)friend:

* PFF
* "Publication suggérée" (IBM flash storage)
* PFSF (in foreign)
* PFBF (about Ian McKellen)
* PFSF (about a concent)
* PFF (about dance)
* New Yorker (about some silly Sean Hannity film)
* New Yorker (Things to secretly love about NYC)
* God about Jesus Memes
* World Rowing about Teaser Aegon European Rowing Indoor Championships 2018
* "Publication suggérée" about some cycling thing
* New Yorker (again!) about Gordon Ramsay
* God: a fun cartoon about cycling in America
* Friend suggestions
* Unfunny New Yorker cartoon
* Rowing: Cantabs advert for the Winter Head
* Discarding images: Ants
* Rowing: Concept2: inspirational picture
* Running: Parkrun pic
* Teddy Hall: upcoming events
* Artfinder advert (I must stop seeing that stuff... I can't recall why I decided to follow them. Unfollowed)
* "Publication suggérée": BFI player

That's a little atypical; normally I have more posts from friends, mostly about rowing. At this point I got bored, so let's skip everything non-political.

* SR: about his http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2017/11/el-nino-and-the-record-years-1998-and-2016/
* NY Times: Did the World Get Aung San Suu Kyi Wrong?
* New Yorker: Mueller's indictements, Ryan's tax plans.
* SR: Das CO2-Budget ist fast verbraucht
* MM: Humans 'dominant cause' of climate change, government report says
* "Publication suggérée" by Jacobin Magazine

22424347_1608398379230566_5482377878423454436_o And now I've scrolled deep into my feed, where it is generally admitted people just don't go. It's probably fitting to end with this tasteful tee-shirt.

So my conclusion is that if people are trying to feed my stuff, they aren't doing a good job. Maybe I'm not their target demographic. But anyway: that's what I see. Now let's consider two other views:

An opinion piece, Beware: this Russian cyber warfare threatens every democracy by Natalie Nougayrède in the Graun (aside: increasingly I've grown dubious about the virtue of "columnists" in the papers. Just like financial advisers (if you were any good, why aren't you too rich to bother advising me?), if a columnist was any good, why wouldn't they be in policy?) Notably, it has no solutions, other than that scary-faced women should tell fb what to do, in the name of course of Democracy. The closest she comes is
Interestingly, the Facebook representative was then asked whether the platform would suppress specific content in a geographical area to abide by local laws including, for example, taking down a Chinese dissident’s postings. He partly deflected the question by answering that Facebook did so already in Germany, where legislation bans Holocaust denial. That moment, if anything, brought a small glimpse into the many complex aspects of a debate that will define much about whether democratic principles can be upheld in a technologically interconnected world.
Which is kinda cute, and rather analogous (I know, this is well over the top) to Jesus's answer to the Pharisees. Early on she admits
We don’t yet know the full picture. In particular, we don’t know if Russian-promoted bots, trolls and online ads had an impact that in any way altered the outcome of the US election.
but only immeadiately after quoting with approval the scary-faced woman:
says sternly to the Facebook, Twitter and Google representatives (whose evasive answers have exasperated her): “You don’t get it! This is a very big deal. What we’re talking about is cataclysmic. It is cyber warfare. A major foreign power with sophistication and ability got involved in our presidential election.”
So there you have it: we don't know these ads had any impact, but nonetheless it is cataclysmic. Can you say America is facing an epistemic crisis, children? These people are clearly not capable of thinking; not capable of forming logical connections between related sentences. Because their aim is propaganda for their favoured solution which is (you knew this was coming, didn't you?) moah regulation. That's also The Economist's solution (arch); their reasoning is better although their tagline (Facebook, Google and Twitter were supposed to save politics as good information drove out prejudice and falsehood. Something has gone very wrong) is drivel.

Refs

Two Basic Foundations - Science of Doom
* Timmy finds another example

2017-11-03

An epistemic crisis

America is facing an epistemic crisis says David Roberts at Vox. I'm used to disagreeing with DR, though everyone else seems to lurve him, so it's no surprise that I disagree this time, too.

The first thing wrong with it is that it's yet more stuff about Trump and Mueller, and the world already has far too much of that. In a sense it isn't really about Trump though - he's just the peg to hang off "thoughts" about the Evil Right Wing (DR's Left Wing is much nicer) and then a tiny bit of climate at the end.

I imagine that you (well, except for RS) like me can never remember what all the wanky Philosophy words like Ontological and Epistemology actually mean. DR thoughtfully explains that Epistemology is the branch of philosophy having to do with how we know things and what it means for something to be true or false, accurate or inaccurate. And further notes that The US is experiencing a deep epistemic breach, a split not just in what we value or want, but in who we trust, how we come to know things, and what we believe we know — what we believe exists, is true, has happened and is happening. And that I think is reasonably fair, though I think if you probed it more deeply you'd find extensive areas of shared agreement. I'm pretty dubious about The primary source of this breach, to make a long story short, is the US conservative movement’s rejection of the mainstream institutions devoted to gathering and disseminating knowledge though. DR's free pass for the left wing doesn't seem terribly plausible to me.

But anyway, what this all ends up meaning is that you can't win arguments on the internet. Which those of us who've been arguing on the internet for a while have already noticed. It isn't particularly new; that there are partisans for causes who cannot meaningfully be reasoned with is familiar to anyone who has commented at WUWT and elsewhere. There are many many problems but one of them is that any given issue can (and must be, if you want to nail down anything) be hair split into so many parts and chased down into so much detail that if you've wasted vast time finally nailing down the most carefully hair-split detail, then (a) all the audience has got bored and left, and (b) you've only settled the tiniest fingernail of uninteresting detail. And of course "winning" on that one point of detail does you no good, because no-one has any honour; "losing" a point means nothing; it establishes no precedent for trustworthiness or otherwise.

Mind you, I also think he is wrong about his case: US institutions are stronger than he gives them credit for. But I'm not at all sure this kind of hand-wringing is useful; helping strengthen those institutions would be better. Perhaps that's what he thinks he is doing?

Of course, if you don't like disliking DR, you can always dislike the American Enterprise Institute instead; the post and comments there provide a nice example of the problem. You'll wonder (I hope) how I got there; the answer is via Cafe Hayek who, whilst a nice economist, is rather naive about GW and the truthiness of Patrick Michaels.

Refs


Mark Jacobson Abandons Science, Takes Up Barratry - mt
A  Mind Böggling Development In Energy Storage & Zeppelin Parking - RS
* ATTP joins the epistemic bandwagon: Jordan Peterson speaks the truth.

2017-10-30

Trump adviser lied about Russian links

Trump adviser George Papadopoulos lied about Russian links, the Pope shits in the woods, SpaceX successfully launches another rocket, and in other news Record surge in atmospheric CO2 seen in 2016Last year's increase was 50% higher than the average of the past 10 years. Um well Aunty I'm glad you phrased it like that; I like so many other people are thoroughly familiar with what the average rise was over the past 10 years so that immeadiately puts it into context. Or, perhaps more helpfully, 2016 saw average concentrations of CO2 hit 403.3 parts per million, up from 400ppm in 2015. Is 3.3 ppmv really so much larger? And then when I go looking for the actual numbers I find Carbon Dioxide Is Rising at Record Rates from ClimateCentral which tells me the rate in 2016 was 3, just a shade less than 3.03 in 2015. Ah, and the source of the Beeb's article is the WMO.

Refs


Donald trump, ha ha ha

2017-10-27

Catalexit

So the nice Catalonians have declared independence and the nasty Spaniards have revoked regional autonomy. Both sides now have to try to make their ideas into reality, ideally without doing too much damage to the real world in the process.

But the main point of the post - other than weakly declaring my support for self-determination, which I hope you've already guessed - is to note the disappointing role played by the EU in all of this. In my idea of Europe - and nominally, of the EUs too I think - nationanlism becomes less important. You're not setting economic policy locally, your borders with fellow EU entities are nearly meaningless, so whether you're part of one state, or another, or independent to whatever degree should matter much less. And this should be one of the major advantages of EU membership.Notice that, unlike Scotland, which would run such a massive deficit that it wouldn't meet the EUs rules for admission, Catalonia would qualify.

But instead of acting as any kind of shining ideal, the EU is falling back on a strictly nationalist thuggish "enforcer" role, making it look unattractive. Also, Rajoy is clearly a tosser. So is May, but you knew that already.

[Update: to avoid confusion - and to record my opinion for my own future reference - the above should not be mistaken for full-throated endorsement of Catalan actions. I'm with Hobbes: you're allowed to revolt against central authority, but only if you have a good chance of success.]

Refs

Catalonia and Scotland at core of Europe's geopolitical conundrum - euobserver
* Llamas
* Timmy agrees

2017-10-25

Keep your identity small

DSC_2561 Is a 2009 post by Paul Graham. I read his Hackers and Painters in 2008 and recommended it then. I return to him via johnlawrenceaspden but I don't want to go down that road now; instead, I want to look at the identity post:
any mention of religion on an online forum degenerates into a religious argument... people don't feel they need to have any particular expertise to have opinions about it. All they need is strongly held beliefs, and anyone can have those. No thread about Javascript will grow as fast as one about religion, because people feel they have to be over some threshold of expertise to post comments about that. But on religion everyone's an expert... Politics, like religion, is a topic where there's no threshold of expertise for expressing an opinion.
And - as I'm sure I've bemoaned in the past - you could add global warming to the list. PG continues with some of the obvious explanations for why those topics end up like this:
they deal with questions that have no definite answers, so there's no back pressure on people's opinions. Since no one can be proven wrong, every opinion is equally valid, and sensing this, everyone lets fly with theirs.
And one could include GW by replacing "definite" with "currently well-known from observation". But this doesn't quite satisfy him, since he observes the obvious, that other issues with unclear answers don't end up such a mess. Instead, he offers:
they become part of people's identity, and people can never have a fruitful argument about something that's part of their identity. By definition they're partisan... you can have a fruitful discussion about a topic only if it doesn't engage the identities of any of the participants. What makes politics and religion such minefields is that they engage so many people's identities.
I think that's correct; or at least part of the correct answer. PG deduces from this that:
If people can't think clearly about anything that has become part of their identity, then all other things being equal, the best plan is to let as few things into your identity as possible.
Because if you do that, you'll be able to think clearly about as many things as possible. Do you see where this is going now? Oh, good. Just in case you don't, I refer you to stuff like Rejecting Climate Change: Not Science Denial, but Regulation Phobia? where I've been criticising "my own side" and getting nothing but grief for it. To be fair, I've probably forgotten why I thought it was a good idea, but the PG post provides part of the answer: I'm complaining about people who have gone off and let too much GW into their identity.

You weren't expecting a fully formed coherent system of thought, were you?

Refs


* Dilbert 2017/10/25.

2017-10-22

Autumn beekeeping

Always late. But this time, not so bad. Apart from the bit of Apistan I found, which must have been left in since last autumn, which is bad. Altogether it has been a much better year than 2016.

First (but I actually did it second) is what used to be the first hive but is now the second. Here you can see the result of not giving the poor bees enough frames; but actually it's all right and they'll be happy. For the sake of a simple life I decided not to take any honey off this one; it was getting rather late in the day and the amounts would have been marginal anyway.
    DSC_7133


What is now the first hive got a new copper roof this summer, but as can be seen the floor was past it's best and really needs replacement or repair: there's a hole in the side (woodpecker maybe?) big enough to let something much larger than a bee through. Note the bright yellow pollen though: a good sign.

DSC_7119

A full super is heavy, so getting the floor replaced meant taking both supers off (though it is being run as brood-and-a-half due a slight accident a few years back, gosh was it really 2009?, and I wasn't going to change it now), lifting the brood plus old floor off the stand - it promptly stuck, of course - putting the new floor on the stand on and then lifting the brood box onto the new floor. The bees being creatures of habit are still clustered around the hole that is no longer there, I hope (on the corner nearest us).

DSC_7127

The whiteish stuff visible on the super is just crystallised (rape) honey that I ought to deal with. I took off most of the top super. I mostly spun off, though some had set; and I stuffed it all back in again in the evening, leaving melting down till next spring.

DSC_7130

Here are some of the frames I took off, looking suitably dark and not too messy.

2017-10-21

Ocean heat content dogfight!

2015-08-22 13.22.44 Gosh, how exciting! A little while ago I noticed several posts and twits about ocean heat content, which I ignored, because it is dull. But now it turns out to be exciting, because someone has stolen RP Sr's idea! (archive, since the Peilke's do not have a stellar record on keeping blogs going). Well, you can read RP Jr for his opinion (I found this via Retraction Watch).

My memory of this is having long, ultimately fruitless arguments with RP Sr (all arguments with RP Sr were ultimately fruitless) pointing out that OHC was undoubtedly a very nice thing, but the time series wasn't as long as the sfc temperature one and so wasn't so useful. So I can confirm Jr's point that Sr was indeed very interested in the idea quite some time ago. Looking back for posts of mine on the issue I don't find much. Here's Detecting anthro change from 2005 - Barnett; and Hansen, not RP - gosh, can you imagine a time so far in the past that people were interested in detecting climate change? I also find this from 2007 which is interesting only insofar as it refers to, e.g. http://climatesci.colorado.edu/2007/12/02/misinterpretion-of-reality-check-1-by-william-m-connolley-on-the-weblog-stoat/http://climatesci.colorado.edu/2007/12/02/misinterpretion-of-reality-check-1-by-william-m-connolley-on-the-weblog-stoat/, which sadly seems to have vanished from the wub. I hate it when people don't take care of their old blogs, couldn't he take the trouble to archive things properly?

Jr presents Sr's brilliant idea as originating in BAMS in 2003. Which is an odd idea; the idea of detecting change through the oceans isn't exactly a difficult one; it seems unlikely that was the first occurrence of the idea; and indeed, the presence of "Barnett, T. P., D. W. Pierce, and R. Schnur, 2001:
Detection of anthropogenic climate. Change in the world’s oceans. Science, 292, 270–274" in the reference lists suggests otherwise.

The paper that raises Jr's ire, Taking the Pulse of the Planet, seems as stupid as the original pushing. Let me share some of their brilliant game-changing insights with you: we suggest that scientists and modelers who seek global warming signals should track how much heat the ocean is storing at any given time. What, really? And apparently they're so convinced that this is a new idea that they go on termed global ocean heat content (OHC). Err, there's a f*ck*ng wikipedia article on Ocean Heat Content, you really don't have to treat the idea as though it's new (yes, yes, I know; I exaggerate for effect. But still). Anyway, as it happens, scientists already do track OHC so there is no particular need for EOS to suggest they start.

Looking further, the even the dispute doesn't seem original. In Pielke Senior has a blog, I find... well, more links to dead RP blog posts, archive your stuff children, it is really annoying when you don't [Update: thanks to L, here's an archive of the wayback machine's copy.]. Anyway, I do find this rather delightful review comment, whose full context future historians of really rather dismissive reviews will doubtless find enthralling: The exchange is not worthy of publication. In fact, I do not understand why P&C even wrote their piece in the first place. They continually destroy whatever point they had in mind by noting Hansen ‘did it right’... None of the participants in this pathetic exchange seem to have the slightest clue about the large decadal noise that exists in the oceans and some ocean models.

Update: Gavin provides this rather ironic twit (archive); more (archive).

Notes


* Pic: Daniel, 2015, Stubai, on the wand leading to the Lisenserfernerkogel, I think. Normally snow covered but it was a dry year.

Refs


Oh no, not again - not really relevant to anything, but I like my "RP Sr’s one-man kamikaze attack against the IPCC continues".
* ATTP notices that it doesn't get better. Weird, that.
* Pielkes all the Way Down - Only in it for the Gold, Friday, August 14, 2009

2017-10-16

Rejecting Climate Change: Not Science Denial, but Regulation Phobia?

Rejecting Climate Change: Not Science Denial, but Regulation Phobia is a paper by Professor Edward L. Rubin of the Vanderbilt University Law School. Is he respectable? I don't know. I come to this from an article in the Graun recommended by Bart, who is normally sensible. When I came to read the abstract I recognised it, but as something that I hadn't felt inclined to finish when I first saw it. So now I'll try a bit harder.

The beginning, it seems clear that the most significant impediment to a worldwide effort to combat the disastrous consequences of climate change is the United States.1 It seems equally clear that the reason why the United States has assumed such a counterproductive role is the existence of a set of attitudes within its political discourse that is generally described as climate change denial is perhaps defensible but not how I'd put it. For reasons I tried to explain just recently. This could be described as a matter of exposition of interpretation. But a few paras later we come to footnote 3: Climate change denial is the official position of the Republican Party. This is quite simply a lie. You may strongly dislike the GOPs position on GW, and you may well think it unwise, unscientific, unthinking, and un-many-other-things; I certainly do. But to allow your enthusiasm to overrun into lying that it is their official policy is denial unacceptable. Is this really an academic paper, that passed peer review? Or is it just one bloke's ranting? Certainly, there's no pretence at unbias.

But continuing we come to Underlying these two groups of elite actors, however, is a broad base of support within the American populace. Business firms, whose self-interest is obvious, would have difficulty persuading people ofsomething they were not prepared to believe. Politicians whose positions depend on being elected are unlikely to announce or support views that are antithetical to a large majority of their constituents, which I'm happier with. As regular readers know, I've said much the same myself.

Then we immeadiately hit the problematic, and central, ...number of studies that assess public attitudes toward climate change... agree on several basic observations regarding those who deny that anthropogenic global warming is a reality. First, the deniers are willing to reject an overwhelming scientific consensus that the problem exists and poses a serious or possibly catastrophic threat to the welfare of future generations. I don't think it is reasonable to characterise a substantial number - close to 50% perhaps - of USAnians as denialists. It is certainly true (IMO) that if you allowed a popular vote on "should Obama's plans for dealing with GW be implemented?", then a majority would vote no. But that is a different question. Most would be voting largely on ignorance, not denial. The number of actual denialists is much smaller; perhaps 10%; I wouldn't really want to try to put a number on it.

Again, I point you towards my earlier work: Talking past each other: Trump Pick for Top Environment Post: Carbon Dioxide Is 'The Gas of Life'. But I need to expound it further, it seems:

Most people (you must be aware of this) don't make decisions on how to vote, or on what attitude to have towards various issues, based on a close and careful (and expensive, in terms of time) study of the issues. They adopt attitudes based on friends, family, respected pols, meeja, and (importantly) how they fit into their world view in general. And, conversely, how they see those issues presented by their "enemies". If people you dislike tell you in strident terms that you must do such-and-such a thing or you will be a Bad Person in their eyes... can you really believe that works? What if these people not only tell you that, but wrap up all presented solutions to the problem in the guise least favourable to your worldview? That is what we're seeing with GW. This is what we're seeing with this paper (including the comical ideas at the end).

The abstract ends with The reason they do so in this case is that a rational policy to combat climate change seems to demand a major alteration of society. Combatting climate change not only expands the scope of regulation, but involves regulations that effect a major transformation of our basic economic system and our personal lifestyles. Almost uniquely (toleration would be another case), it demands a transformation of internalized attitudes. This has produced what can be fairly described as a phobic reaction among many people, that is, an irrational and persistent fear of a given situation. The article concludes by considering some policies that might circumvent this phobic reaction: mass transit for commuting, intelligent homes, and the encouragement of local food production. In each case, these policies create appealing options for people without demanding major changes in their lifestyle.

You're a Nice Person, no doubt. Maybe you're even Dutch :-). When you read the bit about "mass transit for commuting" your head nodded happily: you like mass transit (although obviously bicycles are better). Everyone should like mass transit (second to bicycles). How could anyone think differently? You might have felt a touch queasy about "the encouragement of local food production"; it causes you to wonder if that is really going to help against GW? Is it really sufficiently important to mention at this level; indeed, would it help at all? But nonetheless the author clearly has his "heart in the right place" so you feel reassured. But unfortunately the Bad People don't feel like that, so all these happy ideas are doomed. They all amount to Moah Regulation and Moah government. Because they are minor, and because they would (being market-distorting ideas) effectively generate rents for some people, there is some chance they might actually happen; sometimes it seems that in general, the stupider the idea the more chance it has of happening.

Really, I'm trying to say a variation of what I said in Morality and economics. And that didn't get through, so I doubt this will. That if you want to speak to the perhaps 50% who don't agree with you, you'll need to find a better way to speak; and to present solutions that aren't designed to grate.

Refs

IoT Cybersecurity: What's Plan B? by Schneier on Security is probably an example of what might be good regulation (but it looks to be meeting the fate of all good things).
PUBLIC CHOICE THEORY AND THE POLITICS OF GOOD AND EVIL - contains some decent thoughts, even if I don't agree with it all.

2017-10-15

Talking past each other: Trump Pick for Top Environment Post: Carbon Dioxide Is 'The Gas of Life'

InsideClimateNews (via Twitter) sez President Donald Trump has picked Kathleen Hartnett White, a former Texas regulator and unapologetic advocate of expanding U.S. fossil fuel production... White has argued against the federal government's "endangerment finding" that carbon dioxide, the principal greenhouse gas feeding worldwide climate change, is a danger to human health and the environment. "Argued against" is a link leading to a piece by KHW entitled Restrain the imperial EPA. Which begins The growing power of the administrative state is the defining feature of this era. Federal regulations now touch almost every area of American life, and almost all economic activity. Aggressive regulatory bodies like the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) increasingly impose these mandates by seizing what is the exclusive legislative power of Congress.

So you can if you like complain about stuff like Carbon dioxide is an odorless, invisible, harmless and completely natural gas lacking any characteristic of a pollutant. It doesn't contaminate or defile the air, as actual pollutants do. Ambient levels of carbon dioxide in the air we breathe have zero adverse health effects, in contrast to high levels of genuine pollutants listed in the Clean Air Act like lead and mercury but that kinda misses the point. I think she has a genuine principled belief in the restraint of govt, just like you have a genuine principled belief in doing something about GW. If you don't - and I rather sense that most of my readers don't - think that regulatory overreach is a problem, then you'll dismiss her merely as a denialist as ICN does. Meanwhile, she will dismiss you as a bunch of pinko-leftie-crypto-greenies, and the total lack of dialogue will continue.

Update: Bart rather regrettably falls for this. Bart quotes The Graun, but notice most of that article is just John Gibbons ranting. The only bit of any value is just a ref to Rejecting Climate Change: Not Science Denial, but Regulation Phobia. The paper itself I think is flawed and I might even blog it; notice the icky last para of the abstract.

Refs


* Economist: An assessment of the White House’s progress on deregulation: Donald Trump has blocked new regulations with ease. Repealing old ones will be harder
Paid to? CH on Jerry Taylor and the generic topic of are-people-that-disagree-bad?

Moah gunz

I don't want to end up wrapped around the second amendment, because that way lies madness. But there's an interesting take on it, You’re wrong about Second Amendment rights by Gene Yoon (archive), so I'm noting it here for my own use. His idea in brief is that it protects the "right of rebellion", that gunz are only incidental and in the present day irrelevant, and that nowadays it should be interpreted as protecting encryption and stuff. It is a nice idea, and new to me, but sufficiently obvious that I'm sure it is part of the std scholarship. But IMO it has no chance of getting past the courts, so is only useful for philosophical and legal debate.
  DSCN1031-rip

Refs 


 * Gunz: constitutionalism and majoritarianism (archive)

2017-10-14

Hello, good evening, and welcome

As foreshadowed, life stirs again in the old place. I start with a poem:

From far, from eve and morning
And yon twelve-winded sky,
The stuff of life to knit me
Blew hither: here am I.

Now---for a breath I tarry
Nor yet disperse apart---
Take my hand quick and tell me,
What have you in your heart.

Speak now, and I will answer;
How shall I help you, say;
Ere to the wind's twelve quarters
I take my endless way.

I offer no interesting insights into the demise of Sb, so don't ask. it is likely to cease existing at the end of the month and I fully expect the site to disappear. I have already engaged the STOAT (or Stoat Terminating Official Archiving Task) which amounts to sending all my old posts off to archive.is. I'm sure there are other ways of doing it, but this I think will do. Constructing an index to them all is tedious; so far I'm partway through 2006. Perhaps doing it by hand isn't the best way; I might try rustling up some scripty thing.

Sb - or at least my part it in - started in February 2006, so Sb lasted more than 10 years. I started there as a scientist; left science for software in late 2007; but it took me a few years to fall out of touch. Lately I feel less and less interested in the direct science of global warming; it all feels like fiddling with details (I say this with no intent to be impolite to those who are interested; there are lots of things I'm not interested in), whereas I become more interested in aspects of politics and economics. As you may perhaps have noticed.

When I can be bothered, I'll tart up the banner and sidebars and so on.

2006-12-31

2006 at scienceblogs.com/stoat

For or perhaps from the records.

* The cost of climate research February 24, 2006
* Schelling: Wall Street Journal op-ed page, 2/23/06 February 25, 2006
* Hurricanes update February 26, 2006
* von Storch in the blogosphere February 27, 2006
* Whats your Mann number? February 28, 2006

* Wild IPCC excitement! March 1, 2006
* Wild wiki excitement! March 1, 2006
* Climate sensitivity is 3C… March 2, 2006
* GRACE puzzle March 3, 2006
* Kuhn, Paradigm shifts, String Theory and Observations March 4, 2006
* The worst conservative science columnist, ever? March 8, 2006
* Give us back our crown jewels March 9, 2006
* Various titbits from Nature March 9, 2006
* Talking about global warming and wikipedia March 12, 2006
* Two new blogs & misc March 13, 2006
* UK fuel prices March 15, 2006
* A “balanced” conference? March 15, 2006
* Only in America… March 16, 2006
* Wikipedia and the Economist March 17, 2006
* The CCSP report endgame: Temperature Trends in the Lower Atmosphere: Steps for Understanding and Reconciling Differences March 17, 2006
* Record CO2 levels March 20, 2006
* Is my font too small? March 21, 2006
* Science March 23, 2006
* Wikipedia vs Britannica; continued March 23, 2006
* Media garbling: “Scientists forecast metre rise in sea levels this century” March 24, 2006
* Freeman Dyson on global warming March 26, 2006
* Minister to admit failure on key climate change emissions target March 28, 2006
* Breaking up is hard, but keeping dark is hateful March 28, 2006
* Pielke Sr. and Jr. Profiled in Nature March 29, 2006
* More incomprehensible Bush on GW March 30, 2006
* Science – Significant Warming of the Antarctic Winter Troposphere March 31, 2006

* April 1st April 1, 2006
* EGU: Monday April 3, 2006
* Big Gav April 4, 2006
* EGU: Tuesday April 4, 2006
* EGU: Wedsnesday April 5, 2006
* EGU: Thursday April 6, 2006
* EGU: Friday April 7, 2006
* Science and Religion April 11, 2006
* EU CO2 Emission Prices Hit New Record High April 13, 2006
* David King: Death, famine, drought: cost of 3C global rise in temperature April 17, 2006
* Yet more blogging? April 19, 2006
* The septics are cr*p (part XVII…) April 19, 2006
* More junk from Milloy April 24, 2006
* Stupidity from Melanie Phillips this time… April 25, 2006
* Wii… April 29, 2006

* The von S affair May 1, 2006
* River trip May 1, 2006
* Yet another pointless pile of septics May 2, 2006
* Today is Jedi day! May 4, 2006
* Model projections of the North Atlantic thermohaline circulation for the 21st century assessed by observations May 4, 2006
US govt leaks IPCC report May 4, 2006
* The £4 trousers May 7, 2006
* “Report Reconciles Atmospheric Temperature Trends” May 8, 2006
* CO2 from cement? May 11, 2006
* the U.S. and torture May 14, 2006 [Archive of KV's post]
* Dying Science Museum? May 14, 2006
* UK CO2 (again) May 15, 2006
* Economist wants slice of IPCC pie… May 15, 2006
* CO2 scenarios again May 17, 2006
* Ask a science blogger? May 20, 2006
* 400th comment May 21, 2006
* Depressing Grey Day May 21, 2006
* New moderated env sci forum May 24, 2006
* Aegypt May 29, 2006
* David Appell back May 29, 2006

* Leaking of AR4 precedented June 1, 2006
* Pix of retreating Swiss glaciers June 1, 2006
* Lee Raymond retires with stonking payoff June 1, 2006
* Gmail drive June 1, 2006
* Global warming and extremes June 2, 2006
* Yet another cool google earth thingy June 5, 2006
* Balmy Arctic Stymies Climate Modelers? June 5, 2006
* UK appoints ‘climate ambassador’ June 8, 2006
* Killing themselves was unnecessary. But it certainly is a good PR move June 12, 2006
* New banner? on June 13, 2006
* The managers role June 14, 2006
* Scientists respond to Gore’s warnings of climate catastrophe June 15, 2006
* Secret voting for whales June 18, 2006
* Interesting Nature June 19, 2006
* Global warming featured on wikipedia June 21, 2006
* NAS report June 22, 2006
* NRC report not as interesting as expected June 24, 2006
* Wisdom from John Fleck June 26, 2006
* Zen sticks June 30, 2006

* Climate change in HadGEM1 July 3, 2006
* We’re number 3! July 6, 2006
* What if GW were natural? July 7, 2006
* Characterising Pielke (Jr) July 7, 2006
* Climate of the Past July 9, 2006
* Betting on climate change? July 11, 2006
* The Wegman report July 14, 2006
* Who is Wegman? July 18, 2006
* von S’s testimony July 19, 2006
* Zidane July 19, 2006
* Hurricanes less interesting than expected July 27, 2006
* Warming Wine July 27, 2006
* IREA more interesting than expected July 28, 2006
* Boring old climate sensitivity July 28, 2006














2006-02-24

Assimilated by the Borg

I'd delighted to announce that I am joining such august company as Chris Mooney, Tim Lambert, and many more in being assimilated by the Borg, aka Scienceblogs. It looks like I'm now online at http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/; there are still a few minor setup issues (I hope "who is that in the picture"? won't be an issue by the time you go over and check).

Fear not! My editoiral independence is unchanged, and I still get to be called Stoat.

The cost of climate research

One of the many absurd arguments against global warming is that scientists are only in it for the money. From the comments of a recent post on RC:


Scientists are people too. The money and perks available to IPCC people are extensive. If oil company scientists are unenthusiastic about GW, then it can be argued that IPCC scientists might be enthusiastic from the same kind of incentives.

[Response: The idea that there are vast wealth and perks to be made from climate science is wrong, and would raise a laugh (albeit a rather bitter one) from anyone "inside" - William]

[Response: Money and perks! Hahahaha. How in the world did I miss out on those when I was a lead author for the Third Assessment report? Working on IPCC is a major drain on ones' time, and probably detracts from getting out papers that would help to get grants (not that we make money off of grants either, since those of us at national labs and universities are not paid salary out of grants for the most part.) We do it because it's work that has to be done. It's grueling and demanding, and not that much fun, and I can assure everybody that there is no remuneration involved... RayPierre]


But... how much does climate research cost? Apparently someone said at AAAS this year that globally, roughly $2 billion is spent on climate research, half of that is in the US, and a quarter each in the EU and the rest of world. And I've heard similar numbers elsewhere. I'm going to accept it, because it fits rather nicely with another number I've just found, from the Economist, wot sez: Monitoring local government currently costs £2.5 billion a year, and that does not include the cost to councils of being inspected (this is in the context of the emasculation of local govt in the UK: since they cannot raise much in taxes, but are paid from central taxation, the central govt insists on minutely monitoring what goes on).

So... assuming that figure is accurate: the costs of simply *monitoring* local govt (not actually doing anything) in one small country exceeds the global climate spend. Do we look forward to skeptics now pronouncing that local govt inspectors are only in it for the money?

However... there is more. The $2 billion annual spend is not all on salaries. Whenever this gets discussed, people usually say that this includes a large chunk spent on satellites, which are expensive. I presume that the costs of the newly approved Cryosat II will get included in the annual climate spend. Its a bit like including the costs of CERN hardware when working out whether particle physics is lucrative or not.

Part of the reason for this post is to invite anyone with better figures to post them. What does Dr Google say?

Bush's proposed budget for ... 2004 ... U.S. spending on climate change this year to $4.3 billion.... Ah yes, but that includes "Tax Incentives for Renewable Energy and Hybrid and Fuel-Cell Vehicles...", about $1b/y. Further down, "Federal Climate Change Science Program (CCSP): Includes $1.7 billion in FY '04 budget request to fund Federal, multi-agency research program, with $185 million requested for the Climate Change Research Initiative in FY '04." And this accuses Bush of cooking the books, anyway.

Although the United States spends $1.8 billion a year on climate research, only 6 percent goes to modeling... England, on the other hand, has focused its spending, with $50 million for the European Center for Medium Range Weather Forecasting and another $25 million for Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research.

Um. So, anyone got any bettter numbers?

2006-02-23

BBC goes cpdn

The BBC seems to be promoting the Climateprediction.net stuff: go to http://bbc.cpdn.org/. Good for cpdn I guess.

A Few Things Ill Considered

Coby Beck now has a blog, A Few Things Ill Considered. Coby has for quite a while now been doing an excellent job on sci.env answering the assorted wackos and skeptics, and now he reveals his sekret debating techniques :-)

2006-02-18

Greenland Melting?

"Melting Greenland fuels sea level rise says" Greenpeace. "A new report sheds light on Greenland's quickening meltdown — and why that's distressing" says Time. "Greenland's Glaciers Moving Faster, Losing Mass" says Kansas City Infozine. You get the idea (all of that via google news). Though the best one seems to be "Greenland ice melting faster than thought" by physorg.com. So what can they mean? Can it be "Recent Ice-Sheet Growth in the Interior of Greenland" in Science? Oops no, wrong sign, and anyway that was sooooo 2005 :-) Although to be fair even that mentions thinning below 1,500m.

Nope, it must be "Changes in the Velocity Structure of the Greenland Ice Sheet" Science, 17 February 2006:

Using satellite radar interferometry observations of Greenland, we detected widespread glacier acceleration below 66° north between 1996 and 2000, which rapidly expanded to 70° north in 2005. Accelerated ice discharge in the west and particularly in the east doubled the ice sheet mass deficit in the last decade from 90 to 220 cubic kilometers per year. As more glaciers accelerate farther north, the contribution of Greenland to sea-level rise will continue to increase.


Which is similar to "Rapid and synchronous ice-dynamic changes in East Greenland" by Adrian Luckman et al in the less visible GRL, though New Scientist found it, as did the BBC.

90 to 220 km^3/y is an increase of about 0.4 mm/y in global sea level according to a quick calc (and I'm sure the arithmetic fiends will be quick to jump on me if I'm wrong...). This is 20% of the current 2 mm/y obs (or 13% of the 3 mm/y obs, if you take the more recent satellite obs). Or if you think it *caused* the increase from 2 to 3, its about half of that... The TAR estimates put Greenland into context (as they were then; oh, and here).

So... what does it all mean? I don't know. I wrote this post to find out... originally it was going to be about Luckman, then I realised there was the Rigot thing too. How confusing. Maybe RC will do it properly :-)

2006-02-17

Joke consensus

RP Sr has a weird post about "consensus". He has written a paper with four colleagues, and oddly enough they agree. Which is what usually happens when people write papers together. If they don't agree, they tend to write papers separately. And yet apparently this is to be a new model for the whole community: This paper shows not only can we document a weather event using a variety of climate metrics, but colleagues can work in good faith to produce a truly consensus assessment. This is the model that the global climate change community should adopt. Wooo-eee! yes, lets get 5 people to write the next IPCC report, then there would be no problem with getting agreement.

New wiki toy

I've discovered a new wiki toy to show you your edits graphically. This is me. Fun, no? I seem to peak at 10pm; the BBC R4 news usually reminds me to tail off; and I've usually stopped by 11 :-)

Meanwhile we have mediawiki installed at work, and very useful it is too. It will be even more useful when they work out how to turn on image uploads :-)

2006-02-16

Detecting and Attributing Hurricanes

[Stop Press! Chris Rapley says "in the long term, cities such as London may have to be relocated" - heard on R4 10pm news. There will be more, no doubt...]

Well, obviously enough detecting hurricanes isn't too hard. But the question exercising many people minds is *attribution*: has GW lead to an increase in hurricanes? Attributing individual hurricanes is difficult/impossible (the line taken by RC); we're talking about over all trends & stats.

JA (when not blogging about pet food) has a nice article about attribution here, though he means attribution in general. And there is a nice article about an interview with Judith Curry (top quote: William Gray is one of some "hurricane scientists who don’t know a lot about global climate").

But the point I wanted to make is that failure to attribute to GW does *not* amount to an attribution to anything else: natural cycles, etc etc. And failing to determine a human signal is not the same thing as ruling out a human signal (BTW, I'm not actually asserting that this "failure" has occurred). Which brings me to RPs beastly rough post Slouching Toward Scientific McCarthyism (also read the comments). He quotes "NOAA attributes this increased activity to natural occurring cycles in tropical climate patterns near the equator" (my emphasis). RP believes that disagreeing with "The increased activity since 1995 is due to natural fluctuations and cycles of hurricane activity" (again, my emphasis) is bizarre, since the statement is "fully supportable by peer-reviewed science". But is it? For it to have been so, there would have to be a proper attribution to natural causes. If there is any such papers, what are they?

[Minor updates: at least one cultured person has complained that my calling RPs post "beastly rough" was a bit over the top. They have missed the allusion, which I think RP originally intended in his title, to "Slouching to Bethlehem": to quote the second stanza:

A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?


I like that; and that was the bit I remembered. But it starts "Turning and turning in the widening gyre / The falcon cannot hear the falconer / Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;" which fits a hurricanes discussion quite nicely :-)

And secondly, my somewhat flippant "detecting hurricanes is easy enough" is not really right; there are problems with detection in remote regions in the early days.]

2006-02-12

Analogy Police

Do you ever find it annoying when people att empt to win arguments using invalid analogies? Dilbert has the answer...

Your comment was denied for questionable content (Jennifer Marohasy)

Don't worry Roger, not you this time :-) Over at www.jennifermarohasy.com/blog/archives/001176.html there is some debate, with a pile of the usual errors being made. I tried to post the below, and got rejected, so I'll post it here instead:

Gosh what fun. Some comments:

Firstly, Schneider and Rasool isn't. Getting them the wrong way round is always a bit of a tell-tale of a cp from a sketpic source. Its Rasool and Schneider; more here: www.wmconnolley.org.uk/sci/iceage/

As for the Genesis Strategy predicting cooling, this is obviously wrong, if you actually read the book: www.wmconnolley.org.uk/sci/iceage/schneider-genesis.html.

"Crazy" LH said: R+S said: "It is found that, although the addition of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere does increase the surface temperature, the rate of temperature increase diminishes with increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere." So Ender, Phil, and whoever, this clearly shows that as CO2 keeps increasing, the surface temperature actually starts decellerating. Do any of you actually read and think about what you have read? Then increased CO2 causes cooling.

LH is wrong (well of course he is, he's wrong about everything!). Increasing CO2 increases T roughly logarithmically. This is well known, and its what S is saying. But adding CO2 always causes warming in those models.

All this Hockey Stick stuff is just not as important as people seem to think it is - it wasn't central to the TAR; thats just septics puffing it for reasons of their own. And it has little to do with attribution of current changes. See The Big Picture

Was the MWP global? Castles doesn't seem to have read the TAR: the relevant bit is http://www.grida.no/climate/ipcc_tar/wg1/070.htm, to quote "As with the “Little Ice Age”, the posited “Medieval Warm Period” appears to have been less distinct, more moderate in amplitude, and somewhat different in timing at the hemispheric scale than is typically inferred for the conventionally-defined European epoch. The Northern Hemisphere mean temperature estimates of Jones et al. (1998), Mann et al. (1999), and Crowley and Lowery (2000) show temperatures from the 11th to 14th centuries to be about 0.2°C warmer than those from the 15th to 19th centuries, but rather below mid-20th century temperatures. The long-term hemispheric trend is best described as a modest and irregular cooling from AD 1000 to around 1850 to 1900, followed by an abrupt 20th century warming..." and so on. M.K. Hughes and H.F. Diaz, "Was there a 'Medieval Warm Period?", Climatic Change 26: 109-142, March 1994 is worth a read.

If you're interested in how the MWP/LIA were viewed in the various IPCC reports, then [[MWP and LIA in IPCC reports]] is your source.

Castles quotes "Finally, on the realclimate site William Connelley [sic] says that it's about time that Castles and Henderson got off their bums and produced their own scenarios!". Yes indeed. In fact even people like Tol admit that using your assumptions makes essentially no difference to the end product.

2006-02-11

Wiki bio's

The stuff about some US politico's editing their wiki bio's was on the news recently. Wiki's view of that is here; and amusingly, people have filed an RFC against them. Really, who could possibly so tasteless as to edit their own wikipedia entry ;-)?

A bee on the side

Fairly often, I get requests for people to use my pictures, usually one of the bee ones. I have a christmas card from someone in the US who took my honeycomb pic and added peoples faces in the various cells. But better than that is Maslab where they get to have fun playing with robots... beats climate science any day! There are some notes, see the ppt, slide 27 for my bee, which is apparently to be an exemplar for future robots :-)

2006-02-10

Tripe on TCS

Warning! Don't read on if you've already seen enough septic tripe demolished. But if not... JF points me to The End Is Not Nigh? Johns eagle eye had spotted:

Ironically, just as global warming scare-mongering reaches new heights, the global cooling hypothesis is making a come back. It should be recalled that the frightening images of imminent global warming disaster are of fairly recent vintage. After all, in the 1960s and 1970s various prominent climatologists held the view that it was not global warming that formed a mortal threat to humanity but global cooling.


This is traditional septic tripe, there is probably a plug-in for Word to auto-generate it. The traditional answer is http://www.wmconnolley.org.uk/sci/iceage/. More recently, a novel answer of http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=94 has become available.

Who is writing this tripe? Hans Labohm, co-author of Man-Made Global Warming: Unravelling a Dogma, recently became an expert reviewer for the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Aha! He has become an expert reviewer for IPCC! Obviously a man of some status (isn't it funny how even the septics still cling to IPCC as the gold standard?). However, IPCC expert reviewer means little. I'm one too (err...). All you have to do is nominate yourself. It implies no great expertise. Though of course people of expertise do become reviewers...

Why is he writing it? Probably because he has just written Man-Made Global Warming: Unravelling a Dogma. Published by... Multi-Science Publishing Co., Ltd, UK. And where have we heard of them before? Aha, yes: E&E. Sigh.

As for the rest of it, there's nothing much worth noting, except that he asserts that "various renowned scientists have distanced themselves from the IPCC", and puts Hans Oerlemans in this category. This is odd; Hans was a lead author for FAR, SAR, TAR and even that bogey-man of the septics, ACIA (see his page). And given his recent Science paper the assertion seems even more odd. Probably septic desperation.

2006-02-08

Methane and Kuhn

I'm reading Kuhn, "The structure of scientific revolutions". I'm only up to chapter 7 so far, and not desperately impressed. Perhaps it gets better later. Anyway, by curious co-incidence, a piece of it is relevant to the "methane debate", recently energised by Keppler et al. (btw, don't miss the clarification). We had a "discussion group" about this at work: mostly ice core folks whose ultimate interest was interpreting delta-C-13 in ice cores; but most of the discussion was trying to make sense of the paper. And the thing that came up repeatedly is that the *mechanism* for the methane production is unknown. Given that, its really not clear what to measure. At some point, the mechanism will be understood, or at least there will be a testable hypothesis, and suddenly there will be a mini-paradigm-shift (K states that P-shifts are not always major revolutions; they are allowed to be little things in their own area).

To illustrate this: the paper measures methane production from both dead and living leaves. The dead stuff produces much less methane (order of magnitude). Is this because the methane in this case is the breakdown product of some molecule produced by the living plant? In which case a time series would be instructive. But the paper doesn't present this. Then again: for living plants, the paper asserts that production is bigger in sunlight. The measurements weren't terribly well controlled, as the paper notes make clear: "sunshine" is defined as what you get in Heidelburg. And then the problem is: if you expose the plant to sunlight, it will get warmer. And elsewhere they note the strong temperature sensitivity of their results. So all of this is rather typical of the early stages: something odd is found, but the measurements are all in a bit of a fog and its not clear exactly what you are trying to measure.

A bit more commentary on the results: all this turns out to come from about 10 living plants, extrapolated to the planet. So the error bars are huge. It may turn out that these plants are quite atypical. Or, they may turn out to be quite typical. In which case, the methane budget is overthrown? Well, probably not that either. The sinks in the methane budget seems to be well known (mostly atmos oxidation); the sources (wetlands, rice paddies, gas leaks) have pretty big error bars. Most of the overall budgets people construct from these various sources add up to about the same number, but that is because people know the number they are supposed to get: viz, the number that makes the current observed increase work out about right. So (especially if the new results come in at the low end of their range) they can be fitted into the existing methane budget quite easily.

[Update: when I wrote the above, I didn't put any numbers in cos I was doing it from memory. But now I have the data: this (may not be subscription). From which you see, firstly, that Nature says the current methane source-sinks is negative (-47 Tg/y; thats based on a range of sources of 500-600 and deciding, for some unknown reason, that 530 is the best value; IPCC seems to use much the same data but get an *increase*, which is correct...), from those estimates: whereas the atmos measurements clearly show an increase (14 Tg/y). So at the very least, flipping that to +47 could be done without surprising anyone: ie, there is room for an extra source of 94 Tg/y. Kepplers estimates are 62-236 Tg/y, so the lower end can be accomodated without trouble: it would even help! And there is even more scope for fiddling (or, put another way, accomodating the new source without changing much else): Nature sources the current balance to IPCC table 4.2. Is the wetlands source 115, 237, 225, 145 or 92 Tg/y? Is rice 100, 88, 25-54, 60 or 53? Confused?]