Barack Obama for President?

Says Seed. CIP said that a while ago, but less politely. I’d prefer Obama, but I don’t have a vote. Looks like the money is on Obama: 1-9 on, whereas McCain is 5-1.

[Updates: Eli notes that Nature is endorsing Obama. C provides us with a wider choice of odds, and InTrade has him as a near-cert. But can you trust it?]

Yes, they are mad

One of the more regrettable aspects of having children – other than the entire lack of a life – is interaction with the school inspectors. And the insanity reaches its peak in the inspection of after-school clubs. Its all such an utter waste of time that I’d rather ignore it than bother mock it, but since my wife was reading “Practice Guidance for the Early Years Foundation Stage” and found this, I had to share it:

From the “Numbers as Labels and for Counting” section, under 40-60+ months:

* Use rhymes, songs and stories involving counting on and counting back in ones, twos, fives and tens.
* Emphasise the empty set and introduce the concept of nothing or zero.
* Understand the limitation of Riemann integration and the need for Lesbegue integration.

OK, I made that last one up. But hands up all those who have failed to emphasise the empty set to their three year olds.

Turkish Delight

MW points out the regrettable Global Conference on Global Warming 2008 (GCGW-08). The wot? you might well say. Its not one of those, is it? It doesn’t quite appear to be one of those. In fact, it even appears to have some fairly sensible people associated with it. Although rumour has it that they didn’t quite know what they were associated with. “Imagine Borat organising a conference” said one source, who rather strangely would rather remain anonymous.

So how come it ends up awarding a conference prize to “GLOBAL WARMING IS GLOBAL ENERGY STORAGE”, B. Nordell, B. Gervet, Luleå University of Technology, Sweden? If you’re lucky, at this point you say “who is this man?” and pass on; happily he hasn’t troubled this incarnation of Stoat. But you can find him from a former life, because he is the #1 hit from nordell mustelid. Or to be less opaque, Global warming is not from waste heat (2). The new paper appears to much of the same, all over again. Sigh.

Anyway, the question was, how do these apparently naive but apparently well meaning folk end up at their decision? You could ask the conference organiser, and he might reply “One can think that it is none of your business. If you visit the website you will find the answers for your questions.” So I did, but I didn’t. Ah well, best given up as a bad job at this point I think.

Fun with correlations

Fergus is interested in the effects of El Nino on sea ice. So I looked at At first I thought it didn’t have sea ice, and it doesn’t in the indices, but it does have in the monthly data, which you can average. And then end up with:


The shows Arctic sea ice correlated to SST over the sea. I used the Reynolds SST, so its 1982-2008. Oddly enough, more sea ice makes it colder in the Arctic. More interestingly, this applies to the Atlantic, but much less to the Pacific, though there is some effect (but outside Nino 3.4?). This is all months, as I failed to persuade it to do just September.

Though if you’re interested in the monthly anomaly plots, it will do them: click here. Very nice.

I’ve just realised that sea ice against Nino 3.4 is probably more interesting, in principle. Here it is:


Hmm, needs more work. Fergus asks, what about a 6 month lag? Not done: an exercise for the reader. The site supports it.

Disclaimer: I’m only playing.

One-metre sea-level rise this century, scientists say?

So says Schellnhuber (ht ht). I imagine he really did say it, because its in quotes. But the same page says “Schnellhuber charged that 20 per cent of the loss of the ice sheet on Greenland could be directly linked to the added carbon dioxide emissions from new Chinese coal-fired power stations.” This I find rather hard to believe. The Chinese produce produce about 20% of global emissions, true, but not all of that is from power stations; and besides which its the atmos concentrations that matter, not the instantaneous emissions, and they have a long way to go before they catch up with a West on that score. So I imagine they have garbled that bit.

There is some RC stuff on SLR; but the basic answer is “no-one really knows yet”.

Bee blogging

In theory I have a blog about bees, called with a stunning lack of originality williams bees. However, its moribund, and I can’t be bothered to maintain more than one blog, so for the record: I’m down to one hive now, the one pictured, except I’ve cut the nettles back a little. Spring brought a reasonable crop, mostly rape of course; also at least one swarm, which went to Nikola. Summer was disappointing in England, in general quite wet, and come the autumn my harvest was essentially nil. I could have spun off a few frames, maybe six; but I preferred to leave them the honey to overwinter with (after my very first year of beekeeping I have had no truck with the technique of taking off all the honey, then feeding them sugar syrup to keep them going. Its messy, tedious, pointless and expensive for an amateur like me). The anti-varroa treatment this year is apiguard, which is more tedious to use than bayvarol or apistan, but I took the second treatment pan out today. So hopefully they are now set for the winter.

A reflection

With regard to our BAMS paper, and the links to various commentaries at the bottom, John says: I actually have begun to feel despair every time I read a comment thread on a blog post about the paper… people generally don’t read it, but rather use it as a starting point to share the opinions they already had, informed or not. This is frequently the case even with those who agree with us. Sigh.

Alas, its too true, and not just about our paper: people are just looking for excuses to push their own views. Except me, of course, or my respected readers.

Revenge of the pollsters

The pollsters in question being Bray and von Storch, who get ratty on Prometheus about Gavin “too sexy for my model” Schmidt’s RC piece dissing their latest survey.

Slightly confusingly, although the piece is signed by B+vS, it says I am a sociologist and Hans von Storch is a climate scientist… I attend first to the blog posting… which suggests to me that Bray wrote it. I’m going to go with the asserted attribution for the moment. Anyway… oh, before I head off, there is also First a thanks to those… who contributed favorable comments on the RealClimate blog. Yup, thats science for you: only favourable comments are thanked; those who pointed out valid flaws (but how could they? There were none…) are not thanked.

But first some background; you can find more on wiki. There are three surveys, in 1996, 2003 and 2008. As far as I can tell, the 1996 one is relatively uncontroversial, and being done on bits of paper was hard to bias. The 2003 one was strongly controversial, in part because it was done electronically with no means whatsoever of knowing who the replies came from. The 2008 one is ongoing (or is it done? The posting has some previews); the RC comments with respect to the way the questions are done applies to the 2003 survey too.
Continue reading “Revenge of the pollsters”

You’re sharpening stones, walking on coals / To improve your business acumen

REM, of course. Or perhaps more appropriately, Its the end of the world as we know it (and I feel fine). I won’t elaborate on the I-feel-fine for the sake of not tempting fate, not that I’m superstitious mind you.

Where was I? Oh yes, commenting on CIPs vision of our government as competent. No prophet has honour in his own city, of course. I thought Broon was largely copying Buffett.

While I’m here, hat tip to Quark Soup for digging up this space oddity from Krugman. Nice to see that economists have a sense of humour, though his physics isn’t so good and, though he hides it well, relativity is irrelevant.

The fish-eaters are still in trubble though; is the oil running out?

Sea ice: vapourware

Via their blog, Nurture have some commentary on sea ice by Serreze & Stroeve.

Its all pretty vapid: With sharply rising atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations, the change to a seasonally ice-free Arctic Ocean seems inevitable. Very good, but The only question is how fast we get there. Well its certainly an important question, but the most important point is that they have no answer.

After the resulting record-low ice extent in September, unprecedented in satellite observations, over 70 per cent of the sea ice cover in spring 2008 consisted of young, fairly thin ice — an even more extreme situation than in spring 2007. The eyes of the science community and fascinated citizens worldwide were therefore focused on 2008. Would there be a new record minimum in September of 2008, suggesting the start of a rapid slide, or would there be some recovery? Indeed, its good to remember that a lot of the predictions of a record min for this year were based on the fact that much of this years ice was first year, and so would melt away more easily than last year. It didn’t happen quite like that; there are lots of complex factors. This year there will be a bit more multi-year ice: perhaps the beginning of a recovery? Naturally enough S+S don’t discuss that possibility.

No-one knows if there will be more or less ice next year. Personally I think, on balance, that the 2007 record is unlikely to be broken, and have offered to put my money on it. Or at least some, unspecified amount: I haven’t refused any offers yet, not that I’ve exactly been inundated with takers. I wonder if “Standing on the brink” S+S are willing to put their money where their insinuations are?

I don’t believe the assertions that recent years are good evidence of acceleration; indeed, I think its quite likely that the IPCC model consensus is correct. Somehow the meme that the world is well ahead of these model predictions has become dominant. But 2007 was obviously exceptional; to a less extent 2008 was too. Lets not get too carried away on the basis of one or two years.