Interesting times

At last some news on the climate front, and JA has a nice posting on it. I’d say its a bit early to be expresssing an opinion. They have found something; quite how it affects the record needs chewing over.

Meanwhile, did you know that Singer has a Nobel Prize? No? Well it was news to me, and is yet another case of the septics puffing up their weak credentials with IPCC reviewer status. Found via skeptics in the pub whom S-said-Fred is due to address on June 24th. In fact he may have found his level: propped up on the bar, with a pint in his hand, grandly offering to explain away the worlds problems, is about where he belongs nowadays.

Meanwhile #2, the UK summer continues Wet, it being half-term week; with the children away I looked forward to some nice outings, which culminated tonight in rowing through a downpour. Lovely. We did at least row reasonably well through the rain.


Last sunday was the Champs head (named after the pub where they meet rather than their status ๐Ÿ™‚ and it was a lovely day and we got to borrow Christs first boat which was lovely too. We were sort of OK, rather rushed and splashy, not long enough (race results from; nothing to see, move along quietly…). You can play spot-the-me if you like.

Yesterday, though, back in the old K8 we had a gorgeous outing, down below 1:45 in sprints and down below 1:30 very briefly. Onwards to the bumps…


Pic is frmo Denis; click on it for the original or for his public gallery.

In defence of Exxon

Ha. Now you know I really have gone over to the Dark Side. Prompted by British funds back Rockefellers’ green rebellion to bring in new ExxonMobil chairman. The complaint appears to be that The firm has refused to follow rival oil companies in committing large-scale capital investment to environmentally friendly technology… Exxon maintains that present green technologies are not financially viable. But critics fear that the company’s reluctance to explore alternative energy will prove to be bad business judgment in the long run as rivals such as BP seek to capture public affection by re-branding themselves as environmentally sensitive enterprises… The Rockefellers point out that Exxon has $25bn (ร‚ยฃ13bn) of capital investment planned in carbon-based fuel but its environmental commitment is centred on $100m to fund a Stanford University project on climate change.

So: take for a moment the position that Exxon is the Dark Side and has been obstructive over climate change. I still don’t see why it should be expected to invest in renewables (the quote above suggests that it should do so for PR purposes; well, I imagine they have considered that. Its hardly the moral high grounds, though). Exxon an oil company. It knows f*ck all about wind turbines. A company that specialised in renewable energy could spend research money more effectively than Exxon could. If the market decides that renewables will offer a better return than Exxon shares, people will sell said shares and invest them in renewables. At the moment thats not happening, for obvious reasons.

[Update: I’ve had various interesting replies, see the comments. To pick out a few:

Given that oil isn’t going to last a whole heck of a lot longer, would not a good business strategy be to start investing in some form of renewable energy? Possibly. But now you’re framing this as a pure business question. They understand their business better than you or I do.

For the same reason that Ford and GM should have looked in at ?environmental? cars earlier to cling on to the top of the market I don’t think this is a fair comparison. Green cars are just different types of cars; car makers already have the expertise. Switching from oil to windmills or solar is utterly different. Even biofuels is a stretch (and is anyway a disaster area; I bet if Exxon were doing biofuels they’d be being slammed for it).

Nobody right now is the Exxon/General Motors of solar and wind. Exxon isn’t at a disadvantage in investing in those fields True, but nor is it at an *advantage*.


Is Broon crap?

Originally this was going to be about politics, and the answer was going to be “not as much as his poll ratings suggest”. But then I found a speech on Opec/Oil and the answer has to be, “yes he’s crap”. On so many levels.

He sez: Gordon Brown yesterday signalled a new determination to defend Britain’s hard-pressed consumers and motorists when he denounced the oil cartel Opec as a scandal and called for the EU and the G8 to break down its control, saying it was holding back the development of the world economy. This is just stupid playing to the gallery. No-one believes that Broon is going to do anything about Opec, because he can’t. It is, as people will recognise, a scandal that 40% of the oil is controlled by Opec. So what are we going to do? Wrest control of it from them – by invading them? No, that doesn’t sound like a good idea. By installing our own pet dictators? Hmm, maybe not. By making speeches? Umm.

But, returning to climate, Broon seems to have forgotten that we are supposed to be cutting our carbon emissions. He is, in theory, all signed up to that. Of course, as soon as that starts to cost money all that gets blown to the winds, which is one reason why he is crap. The reason that the oil price is high is that the world is using a lot of it. Increasing the supply would mean that we would use more. We’re supposed to be using less. Increasing the price sends a strong signal to use less, and from that point of view is good.

The other reason this is all stupid is that oil is at $127 a barrel. Anyone who can pump more out probably is.

A heron mobbed by crows

Cycling back from town yesterday, I saw: in a chestnut tree of moderate height in the middle of an open field miles from the river, a heron. And three crows flying at it, “dive bombing” it is tempting to say although their flight was mostly level. They were trying to drive it away, I suppose, and the heron kept turning to face them, but as far as I could see they never touched it. After perhaps 5 minutes they gave up. And a minute later the heron flew off.

In praise of Hobbes

I love the language and thought in Leviathan:

Feare of power invisible, feigned by the mind, or imagined from tales publicly allowed, RELIGION; not allowed, SUPERSTITION. And when the power imagined is truly such as we imagine, TRUE RELIGION.

Concision achieved by cogitation; so different to the ill-thought out ramblings on blogs.

World’s wildlife and environment already hit by climate change, major study shows?

Grauniad again, of course:<a href="Scientists examined published reports dating back to 1970 and found that at least 90% of environmental damage and disruption around the world could be explained by rising temperatures driven by human activity.". Its obvious b*ll*cks, at least as measured by my own experience: most of the damage is caused by roads, buildings, farming practices, and so on. Can it really be true that 90% of env damage is due to T change?

Probably not. The source appears to be Attributing physical and biological impacts to anthropogenic climate change in Nature. To quote the abstract:

Significant changes in physical and biological systems are occurring on all continents and in most oceans, with a concentration of available data in Europe and North America. Most of these changes are in the direction expected with warming temperature. Here we show that these changes in natural systems since at least 1970 are occurring in regions of observed temperature increases, and that these temperature increases at continental scales cannot be explained by natural climate variations alone. Given the conclusions from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report that most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-twentieth century is very likely to be due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations, and furthermore that it is likely that there has been significant anthropogenic warming over the past 50 years averaged over each continent except Antarctica, we conclude that anthropogenic climate change is having a significant impact on physical and biological systems globally and in some continents.

The Grauniad continues In 90% of cases the shifts in wildlife behaviour and populations could only be explained by global warming, while 95% of environmental changes, such as melting permafrost, retreating glaciers and changes in river flows were consistent with rising temperatures. So (and here I’m guessing) that the studies authors are only looking changes not already explained by, say, building. And that the study is looking at “changes” and the Grauniad has assumed that they are all “damage”. Ho hum.

And now, back to your scheduled train wreck, in which we cheer on John V’s bold attempt to pin RP down to something – or indeed, anything. Or just skip straight to JA.

Losing the plot

Lucia lost the plot some time ago, mostly by cherry-picking her time period, using a weird data-fitting method and failing to understand what she was looking at. Now RP Jr follows her down the rabbett hole and bizarrely describes her post as “clear”. Well, when people are telling you what you want to hear you’re apt to approve.

As usual, you’re better off avin a larf with James . Though if you’re tired of slapstick, maybe reading the truth at RC would be more useful. I prefer bluetooth myself nowadays ๐Ÿ™‚

[Update: it gets worse. Roger is losing his temper, and unfortunately hasn’t found somone to ask about stats. Although in fact its not really a stats question, its a climate modelling question.You can’t compare the trends from different model realisations with 5 different estimates of the same observational period. To try to understand this, suppose all 5 obs estimates were really really close together – they could be, if all the methods were near equivalent. Then the SD would be very small. But the models, because they aren’t simulating the same real years, will maintain a large spread. Their statistics will be different, and unknowing black boxes will declare them different -W]

Sea ice minimum kerfuffle

The summary of betting on sea ice refers. If you look in my comments, you’ll find any number of well intentioned people advising me that its time to close up the bets before I take a bath. But I haven’t. Anyone wanting to pile in is still welcome (if you can’t be bothered to look up the previous post the bet is simple: will this years Arctic sea ice extent minimum, as measured by the satellites, be less than last year? I say no).

i-1d2ce34f718bcf56cbda166133ef631c-N_timeseries.png The May 5th version of “Arctic sea ice news and analysis” provides some more fodder. I’ve ripped off a pic from them which I like. To me, it rather suggests no record this year. They somehow convince themselves that it does suggest a min. Hey ho, we’ll find out in a few months. Their section on “Estimating September extent based on past conditions” is cute. I like it; its a nice idea. Totally lacking, of course, is how would this idae have fared if applied last year, or the year before, or…

My personal opinion remains that we simply can’t forecast year-to-year variations with any degree of reliability. The long-term trend is clearly downwards, and there will be a new record sometime. But based purely on the behaviour of the sea-ice extent timeseries I still consider that new record this year is less than 50% likely. I also wonder if people aren’t in some danger of getting a teensy bit carried away publishing these “forecasts” which they don’t really believe. They are speculative prognosticaions, no more.

Andy Revkin (its him again!) covers this. In the comments, Bill Chapman is reported to say “I say the odds favor a new NH record minimum – put my money there.” I’ve replied (#40) but haven’t heard from him… I must give him an email. [update: I did. He declined -W]

[Update: via Gareth I discover this rather useful picture, which puts the present year more into context. It gives me hope for my bet. So, if you’re still interested… -W]

Betting on climate change, again?

As I said before, I don’t think much of the latest prediction of cooling. But apparently , the authors take it seriously, and believe it as a prediction (pers comm). So RC has decided to see if they are serious. My expectation is that they will find some spurious excuse for wimping out (I’ve offered to put up $100 on the bet not being taken, with me paying out if it is taken; any offers?).

Andy Revkin covers this. The only complaint I have is that JA is being airbrushed out of the picture. Such is life.

Coming soon: betting on sea ice.

[Update: I *can* spell climate -W]