Science – Significant Warming of the Antarctic Winter Troposphere

Its not often I get a paper into Science (although admittedly I’m last author) so I’ll mention it here: Significant Warming of the Antarctic
Winter Troposphere J. Turner, T. A. Lachlan-Cope, S. Colwell, G. J. Marshall, W. M. Connolley
, 31 march 2006, v311. The paper is mostly observational, I did a little bit of looking at the GCMs, with inconclusive results.

So there it is. Don’t over-interpret it. Oh, and see-also the BBC take.

[Update: this is now up on RC in slightly expanded form; so you can choose where to comment!

More incomprehensible Bush on GW

Via Chris Mooney, I find Bush talking nonsense on GW again at a press conference. Chris Mooney thinks Bush is rubbish, but actually cuts the Bush quote off to early. Bush sez:

We — first of all, there is — the globe is warming. The fundamental debate: Is it manmade or natural. Put that aside. It is in our interests that we use technologies that will not only clean the air, but make us less dependent on oil. That’s what I said in my State of the Union the other day. I said, look — and I know it came as quite a shock to — for people to hear a Texan stand up and say, we’ve got a national problem, we’re addicted to oil… Being addicted to oil is a problem for our economy… Kyoto was a lousy deal for America. And I tell you why it was a lousy deal for America. It meant that we had to cut emissions below 1990 levels…

For a while, a fundamental debate has indeed been about demonstrating the fairly obvious: thats its manmade. But thats pretty well done now, outside of the far-out septics, of which Bush is one. But then Bush sez, “put that aside”… how can that make sense? Its a fundamental point; you can’t really progress without agreeing on it… or can you? Because Bush is *pretending* that the same actions apply regardless, with all this addiction to oil stuff. But then… if that was true, if addiction-to-oil-is-bad-so-we-cut-our-emissions-regardless is true, then there is no problem with Kyoto. So what he is saying doesn’t even make any sense on its own terms, let alone in reality.

Pielke Sr. and Jr. Profiled in Nature

I stole my headline from RP Jr, who links to the Nature article. RP Jr modestly makes no comment; RP Sr is so modest as to not even mention it (though he is puffing the distinctly dodgy Scarfetta and West paper).

So its up to me to comment, who else? Its a very soft article, nice and gentle. Most (all?) of what is written is true, but the impression left is… well. “To be frank, that irritates the hell out of me,” says Gavin Schmidt is definitely true.

The CCSP report gets a mention: Pielke Sr argued that members of the CCSP committee were focusing on their own work too much, and not including other perspectives that could explain possible discrepancies in the observed temperatures5. RP Sr resigned because he couldn’t get *his* POV across: the Nature article makes it sound like a noble attempt to get diversity in, which is wrong, it was *his* research and views he wanted more prominently.

In fact, neither father nor son thinks that predicting global average climate trends is possible or useful. Sounds odd, and if interpreted literally makes them both skeptics (assuming by “possible” we mean to the degree and within the error bounds that people like the IPCC does).

Minister to admit failure on key climate change emissions target

Said the headline in this mornings Grauniad. And by the evening it had become Labour fails on climate change on the Grauniad blog; though the spin was Beckett unveils new measures to cut CO2 or Climate change programme unveiled. And similar from the BBC.
Continue reading “Minister to admit failure on key climate change emissions target”

Freeman Dyson on global warming

Over at an ID blog (I promise I don’t read it regularly folks, blame RPM for pointing it out… looking closer I see the text there is somewhat wrong, this is probably the official version but its much the same) there is the text of “The Need for Heretics: Freeman Dyson, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey Commencement Address, given at the University of Michigan, December 18, 2005”. And one of FD’s heresies is GW.

In the speech, FD is talking to new PhD’s about how he hates the whole PhD system, so he needs some good heresies, but predictably enough he pushes his point too far: The first of my heresies says that all the fuss about global warming is grossly exaggerated. Here I am opposing the holy brotherhood of climate model experts and the crowd of deluded citizens who believe the numbers predicted by the models. Of course, they say, I have no degree in meteorology and I am therefore not qualified to speak. Well obviously he isn’t qualified to speak. But he doesn’t even give any indication that he knows what he is talking about, which is at least desirable before speaking.

First off, lets suppose that the climate models have absolutely zero value for predicting the future (I don’t believe it, but lets suppose). How does that allow you to conclude that the fuss is exaggerated? How does he know the models are erring on the high side? They may just as well be erring on the cautious side (and there is some reason to believe that, since there may be unexpected surprises that, err, aren’t in the models because we don’t know about them).

Secondly, the climate modellers (unlike, apparently, FD) are aware that the models are uncertain: its hard not to be, when the IPCC report gives a range of 1.5-4.5 for the climate sensitivity (although there is increasing evidence that about 3.0 is probably close to the right answer).

If FD means the fuss over the impacts… then he should say so.

FD continues: climate models… do a very poor job of describing the clouds, the dust… do not begin to describe the real world that we live in. The real world is muddy and messy and full of things that we do not yet understand… the climate model experts end up believing in their own models. All this is well over the top. But it can be re-written, substituting “climate” for “economics”. Then FD would have something real to complain about: economic models are used far more extensively for policy than climate models are, yet they lack the physical basis that climate models do have. They miss out all sorts of things in the messy muddy world. Why does FD (and indeed so many other septics) have such a blind spot for them?

ps: back to Overpeck et al soon, folks…

Media garbling: “Scientists forecast metre rise in sea levels this century”

Scientists forecast metre rise in sea levels this century says The Grauniad. I strongly suspect they have garbled things, though I admit I haven’t read the original Science paper. I have read the NCAAR/UCAR press release Arctic, Antarctic Melting May Raise Sea Levels Faster than Expected.
Continue reading “Media garbling: “Scientists forecast metre rise in sea levels this century””

Wikipedia vs Britannica; continued

A while ago, Nature did a study comparing wikipedia to Britannica (you can read my take on it here – oh, just look at the title I used :-).

Now it seems that Britannica weren’t very happy about the results, and have responded: We discovered in Nature’s work a pattern of sloppiness, indifference to basic scholarly standards, and flagrant errors so numerous they completely invalidated the results. And so on.
Continue reading “Wikipedia vs Britannica; continued”


I am a minor coauthor on a paper to appear in Science. Sadly thats all I can tell you, since the embargo on this paper has been set for 2:00 pm U.S. Eastern Time on Thursday, 30 March 2006. Well, until next week πŸ™‚

OTOH, if you’re a reporter (hello John!) Reporters should contact AAAS at 202-326-6440 or to receive an official version of the paper, bearing the imprimatur of the Science embargo policy. (Most reporters are registered with us and therefore can access the official version of the paper directly from EurekAlert!’s password-protected section,

Is my font too small?

A reader foams at the mouth:

You see, I set up Mozilla Firefox so that the default font is Verdana 18 point, because that’s a size I am comfortable with, being a quintedecarian. Then all these WWW graphic designers say, “The default font for most of the browsers in the world (ie. Internet Explorer) is too large and clunky, rather like the sort of thing old people like to read, so I’m going to set my body style to 80% of that (or whatever to make it small and elegant and youthful.” Thanks a lot, guys. As a result I look at your blog, along with many other sites, with the Page Style suppressed.

So… here is your chance to vote (in the comments section I suppose). Is the font too small? Should it be set bigger? Should it just leave you with whatever your browser defaults to? I’m not quite sure how the site/browser interaction works, anyway.

Incidentally, I was poking through the stats yesterday, and the most popular browser at this site is Firefox.

[Top tips (i.e. ones not involving me having to change my .css) so far:

  1. “Control =” or “Control +” (Control-Shift-=) to increase font size
  2. (Joe Shelby / Razib)

  3. The Read Easily firefox plugin
  4. Read via RSS πŸ™‚