Lennart Bengtsson

Not gone quite yet… 🙂

A post ago I reported on an odd skeptics conference; but there were a few good names in there, one of whom not everyone recognised: Lennart Bengtsson. But then he is swedish…

Anyway, he fairly recently won the 51st IMO prize, so to celebrate this I created a wiki page for him: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lennart_Bengtsson. Do please help fill it in…

Paper terror in the skies

A week (?) ago I wrote a post called “Liquid terror in the skies” but it got eaten by weasels. Since then the usual lack of supporting evidence has not appeared, and today we have a paper bomb causing a plane to be diverted. One voice of sanity amongst the over reaction seems to be Ryanair, although of course they have a strong commercial interest in saying so.

The paper bomb reminds me very much of a Len Deighton short story – from “Declarations of War” – about a war gaming, when one side occupies a country house; a gardner is let in carrying some flowers, which turn out to contain the word “bomb” on a piece of paper. Within the rules of the game, the high command of one side are all dead; they then lose the game; careers end. Of course they protest that they searched the chap, and had he been carrying a real bomb it would have been found… but it does no good.

Global Warming – Scientific Controversies in Climate Variability

Is the title of an International seminar meeting at The Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Stockholm, Sweden September 11-12th 2006. Sounds like an attempt at a sexy title. However, the list of presentations doesnt look good… ironically, under why this meeting is a bad idea it says This meeting is not intended to be a skeptics vs non-skeptics confrontation – which it won’t be, cos its packed with skeptics (with a few exceptions). Quality control appears to be poor, since they have let in Zbigniew Jaworowski.

And all this is being organised by an NMR specialist.

[Update: if you haven’t read the comments, do: there are some replies from the organiser that are quite revealing -W]

A Call to Truth, Prudence, and Protection of the Poor: An Evangelical Response to Global Warming

By E. Calvin Beisner, Ph.D., Paul K. Driessen, Esq., Ross McKitrick, Ph.D., and Roy W. Spencer, Ph.D. I’ve never heard of 1 & 2, but given 3 & 4 its not hard to guess what its going to be like. And indeed, it doesn’t disappoint.

Its yet another septic document which would be far better off saying less. Specifically, it wastes its time on the is-GW-anthro attribution question, and the is-there-a-consensus question, when it should be spending its time on the more interesting will-the-effects-be-bad.
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Weird stuff from Pielke and Wunsch

RP Sr joins the ranks of people telling us its been hot/cold somewhere on earth in some month, but more interestingly points to an essay by Carl Wunsch. Its one of a series, by various worthies, including TIm Palmer. I’m not quite sure what the point is, though… they don’t seem to be much good… if you want to know about GE, youre better off with the wikipedia article.

Wunschs article is particularly stupid (yes I know he’s a great man, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t say stupid things on occaision) that (I paraphrase) concludes that since the ice ages caused big changes in the past we therefore can’t attribute current change to human activity. You can pretty well throw away the entire article except for the end para (and had he done that I wouldn’t be complaining too much), which is:

Thus at bottom, it is very difficult to separate human induced change from natural change, certainly not with the confidence we all seek. In these circumstances, it is essential to remember that the inability to prove human-induced change is not the same thing as a demonstration of its absence. It is probably true that most scientists would assign a very high probability that human-induced change is already strongly present in the climate system, while at the same time agreeing that clear-cut proof is not now available and may not be available for a long-time to come, if ever. Public policy has to be made on the basis of probabilities, not firm proof.

Sure, its very difficult to separate human and natural change. Its very hard to build a nuclear reactor, but people do it. A lot of clever people have spent a long time working on the attribution issue, and the answer is, its us, to some degree of probability. Throwing in “proof” is a red herring – there is no proof outside of maths.

Me in the New Yorker

I made it into a recent article in The New Yorker. Predictably enough its not about science, but about wikipedia. Whats interesting about it is how hard internal wiki “politics” are for outsiders to understand. Despite talking to the author several times, and a fact-checker, the overall tone of the piece is wrong, as it concerns my bit. I doubt I can explain…
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