DeSmog Leaks Advance Copy of Think Tank’s IPCC Attack

DeSmog Leaks Advance Copy of Think Tank’s IPCC Attack it says, and it is so. Presumptuously it calls itself the Independent SPM, but I think Septics SPM is more appropriate. Wot they have done is to draw up their own fantasy list of conclusions they would like the AR4 to make, based on the April 2006 IPCC draft.

Anyway, now this thing has been leaked everyone will comment. Including me. First off, they are trying to puff their piece as written by “fully qualified experts” as opposed to the IPCC faceless bureaucrats, nicely forgetting that the IPCC is written by the scientists. As if to confirm their lack of status, the author list is thin and puffed out by their various qualifications, including (absurdly) use of FRMS. Also somewhat notable is those not present on the authors list: Lindzen, McIntryre (even though McK is coordinating it).

But what about (sigh) what they actually have to say. I doubt many people will read much of it: its the usual list of quibbles with the important bits missed out. To pick up a few bits:
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AR4 and sea level

More exciting leaks from the AR4, and a tale of two newspapers. Which, I’m sad to say, results in a resounding victory for the US.

The rubbish story is Experts split over climate danger to Antarctica; Scientists challenge ‘cautious’ UN report; Robin McKie, science editor from the Observer. Its a perfect example of cr*p journalism whose purpose, presumably, is to provide a bit of knockabout to read, rather than to inform the readers of anything useful (am I expecting too much of the papers? maybe).

Rather more creditable is Melting ice means global warming report all wet, say some experts who warn it’ll be even worse from the IHT, which actually manages to talk to a few people and provides numbers.
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The New Global Cooling

My saner readers, I’m sure, aren’t in the habit of reading Lubos; and indeed neither am I; so we have Ken Brook to thank for drawing Peer-reviewed global cooling to my attention. Its long on words but, oddly enough, rather short on actual quotes from papers doing things like predicting cooling. The best appears to be Multi-scale analysis of global temperature changes and trend of a drop in temperature in the next 20 years.

This paper does indeed say It thus indicates that whether on century scale or on the periods of quasi 60-year oscillations, the global climate wil be cooling down in the next 20 years.

The paper itself seems extremely dodgy (it appears to assert that global temperature can be predicted 5-10 years ahead from Chinese temperature, which I don’t think anyone is going to believe; the “cooling” prediction is based not on physics but on extrapolating a time-series analysis of the past data into the future) and is not going to change anyones minds. I presume Meteorol Atmos Phys is a peer-reviewed journal, though (judged from this paper) one with rather low standards (hmm, its on the ISI index and whilst its impact factor is only 1.156 there are many lower).

However, Lubos’s point is not (of course) the quality of the paper but whether there are any peer-reviewed papers predicting cooling. And so, we must say, there is at least one. Does this contradict Oreskes? Of course not: since that was done on a search of earlier paper. And I’m not sure this one has the right keywrods to show up. Also, assuming these people believe what they have written, we can confidently look forward to them contacting James Annan and Brian Schidt to arrange a sure-win bet for themselves. Lubos, of course, doesn’t believe a word of it so is excused the bet.

Boondoggling

No not me, sadly 😦

RP has a nice article on and exceprting a piece by Richard Benedick on Climate Policy. One bit that struck me:

These UN mega-conferences have by now developed a predictable pattern. Considerable time is occupied by tedious problems of coordinating positions and tactics, both inside the huge national delegations and within blocs of countries such as the European Union and other regional or “like-minded” coalitions. There are the usual dire warnings– fully justifiable–of impending global catastrophe. There are trivial protocol debates and ritualistic ministerial speeches exhorting complicated and unrealistic actions. There are cultural diversions such as boat rides on the Rhine or dance performances in Marrakech. As the end nears, all-night negotiating sessions contribute to a sense of destiny. But despite the customary self-congratulatory finale, the results at Nairobi, as at preceding meetings, were embarrassingly meager. . . Part of the problem, as he sees it, is a short-term obsession with targets and timetables. The climate meetings, obsessively focused on short-term targets and timetables applying only to industrialized nations, have become trapped in a process that is unmanageable, inefficient, and impervious to serious negotiation of complex issues that have profound environmental, economic, and social implications extending over many decades into the future. . .

I added the bolding. I’ve never been to one of these things, but my impression is that another major part of the problem is that these conferences, whilst just about a waste of time, and certainly a waste of money and GHG, are nonetheless a fun boondoggle for a large pile of people. They are also a jolly useful substitute for any kind of action. Its also become pretty clear that they are never going to achieve anything, so no-one really gets blamed for them failing.

The thoughts re the comparison with Montreal are interesting, but I’m not sure how useful they are. Global warming is a much harder issue; ozone turned out to be fairly easy.

Go

I used to play Go at university and after, but rather dropped out when I had children. Recently I’ve started playing online again, though its a somewhat inhuman way of playing. One of the themes of those times was that computers were rubbish at Go, in contrast their chess performance (one of the problems is that its pretty hard to evaluate a go position, particularly at the start, by any kind of counting. In chess (I think) you can count pieces and locations pretty quickly). So of course we Go players took that as clear proof that Go was a more interesting game 🙂

The Economist has a little article updating this a bit: here asserting that “Monte Carlo” methods enable progams to play well on small boards. It still sounds rather like brute force to me, but (guessing from the story) rather than doing all branches of the tree to a certain depth you randomly prune the tree but follow some branches to the end? Full 19×19 boards should still be safe for a while, though.

Running the rule over Stern’s numbers

There is a r4 prog on Running the rule over Stern’s numbers tonigh (8 pm). Apparently I get my 5 mins of fame at some point during it, we shall have to see.

Update:

Well, I was indeed there, for rather longer than I expected. I particularly liked the bit where I say “the A2 scenario, this, err red line here…”. If you listen carefully you can hear me laughing gently as I say it. Roll on my TV appearence.

Apart from that, I think this is a good prog: it airs the arguments against Stern I’ve given here and others have elsewhere, but within the context of the IPCC position rather than the insane-septic position. Stern gets a chance to talk back, but didn’t sound very convincing to me: it just amounted to “I’m right”. And of course he isn’t, ha ha.

I forgot to mention the best part of all this: that my so-called rival James Annan got snipped out of the report. I bet he tried to talk about complicated things like climate sensitivity.

The ethanol program in Brazil

Having been rather negative about bio-fuels, I’ll be positive and mention The ethanol program in Brazil. And the abstract is: The number of automobiles in the world has been growing fast and today requires one quarter of the global petroleum consumption. This problem requires adequate solutions, one of which Brazil has achieved with the Sugarcane Ethanol Program. This paper presents the history of this program, from its launch in the 1970s to the today’s condition of full competitiveness in a free market. It also shows how it can be replicated to other countries, in order to replace 10 per cent of the world’s gasoline consumption.

It also has some stats on energy output/input ratios, showing sugar cane (10) far ahead of wood, corn or beet (various, centered around 2 ish).

[Apologies – the link I added is obviously some on-the-fly thing designed to stop people doing what i’ve done. So: the journal is http://www.iop.org/EJ/toc/1748-9326/1/1 and the article is down at the bottom – by José Goldemberg. I also notice that there is “Learning from the Brazilian biofuel experience” higher up -W]

[Update: since this post I’ve found/had recommended The Ethanol Illusion and http://i-r-squared.blogspot.com, both of which are rather less optimistic. The latter says the return on oil is 6 ish, which makes 10 for sugar seem very high -W]