The atmospheric CO2 levels at Hawaii’s Mauna Loa observatory have declined since 2004?

Well no, of course they haven’t. It is yet more septic twaddle from Avery; David Appell has a screenshot, since he expects the original is so blatantly stupid that it will be taken down. And he was right, it is now gone, though not silently: *Apologia: I deeply regret my misstatement that CO2 levels are Mauna Loa were declining. They are not. Nor is there clear evidence that the increase in atmospheric CO2 is yet slowing. In the past, I have demanded a higher standard of evidence than I had for the first edition of this column, and will return to that policy. says The American Daily, and the piece now has a new title. But it is a mistake that can only be made by wishful thinking; everyone else knows that CO2 is up year on year, and doesn’t even need to look at the figures.

But if you *are* going to look at the figures, it is a good idea to do it properly. Try a little test: what is wrong with Joe Romm’s takedown of Avery?

Yes, that’s right: in attempting to refute the idea that CO2 has declined since 2004, Romm shows a graph that doesn’t include any 2004 data. Doh! as he might say. Oh look, he did say it :-). The Wonk Room has a usable version of the same graph.

BTW, to include a tiny bit of actual science, it is worth noting that the growth rates that Romm quotes (quite likely correctly) are ~2 ppm/y recently, which is a about 0.65%, since CO2 is at ~380 ppm. And that is rather less than the 1% that gets you to CO2 doubling in 70 years. So we’ll have to work hard to stay on IS92a. Back in the days when I had access to decent graphical software I could do stuff like this. Ah well.

Wikitruth Through Wikiorder?

Via Durova I find Wikitruth Through Wikiorder which is worth at least a quick skim if only because, unlike most commentators on wiki, they don’t seem to have totally lost the plot.

Durova points out the obvious lack in their analysis: they concentrate on arbcomm, whereas the everyday activity of admins stomping on fools escapes their notice. For example, I’ve done 500 admin-type things in the past year, most of them blocking people for edit warring in one way or another. That is puny compared to the general block log, which has 500 blocks in the last 10 hours, mostly just for tedious vandalism. Wiki would collapse in a heap fairly quickly if this kind of background enforcement didn’t go on. But since it is fun, people don’t mind doing it.

UK government bond auction fails?

Well, that was the Beeb headline, to The UK Treasury has failed to sell all its government bonds in an auction for the first time since 2002. But in fact It wanted to sell £1.75bn of 40-year bonds, but investors only bid for £1.63bn of the debt, the Debt Management Office said. so (a) it is hardly an obvious failure, when most of it was sold and (b) this is 40 year debt.

I wonder what it means.

Obama plan an obvious disaster

Hearing about the Obama plan on BBC R4, my first reaction was but this is an obvious disaster for the tax-payer; a give-away to those who invest in it. If I had spare cash and lived in the USA, I’d certainly buy in. I would blog it, but the obvious suspects have already done so and said what I would have more lucidly and with greater credibility, so I won’t bother.

Which atheist are you?

Paul points to Andrew Brown who has some curious list of “New Atheist” points. I shall take up the suggestion of treating it as a quiz, and find that I score:

* There is something called “Faith” which can be defined as unjustified belief held in the teeth of the evidence. Faith is primarily a matter of false propositional belief. No. I have faith in, let us say, the validity of science. Faith doesn’t rest on the thing-you-have-faith-in being false. Score 0.
* The cure for faith is science Very badly wrong. If there is a cure, it is more likely history or luxury: anyone who finishes Russells “history of western philosophy” would find it very hard to defend any particular Christian doctrine, as does anyone with surplus money (i.e., anyone with a TV or who goes on holiday) who fails to give it to the poor. Score 0.
* Science is the opposite of religion Yes, but I wish you hadn’t added and will lead people into the clear sunlit uplands of reason. Science is more what you get once you’ve reached the uplands, I don’t think it gets you there. Score 1.
* In this great struggle, religion is doomed. Agree that religion is doomed on the long term, but it will be killed by increasing prosperity and worldliness, not by science (except insofar as science provides that properity). Score 0.
* Religion exists. Isn’t this the bleedin’ obvious? It is essentially something like American fundamentalist protestantism, or Islam. More moderate forms are false and treacherous. While I’m perfectly happy to say “*if* I believed in a religion, I’d believe in a proper one that made you smite people rather than give them cups of tea” I can’t quite see how atheists can dictate to religious folk what their religion is supposed to look like. All fundamentalist religions are doomed, because they cannot possibly produce a self-consistent message that makes any kind of philosophical sense. It is obvious, for example, that nothing that makes sense as a god could possibly require people to gather in special buildings to worship while speaking a dead language. This is why the C of E works. Score 0.
* Faith, as defined above, is the most dangerous and wicked force on earth today. This is just stupid. Score 0.

So, I score 1/6, which practically makes me a deist. Hey ho.

I rather like “most believers already know what excuses to make for the apparent absence of dragons or gods, even as they claim belief in them, so they’re keeping a map of the real world somewhere”.

Sculling again

It is spring, the daffodils are out, the hour has nearly changed, and longen folk to go down to the river again. In fact I’ve been rowing all winter (Emma blogged our last race in rather different weather), but this Sunday was the Cantabs “taster” session for junior scullers; and my son and a couple of his friends gave it a go.

I’m pleased to say that they were all very enthusiastic and by and large got the hang of it. Next week they get to untie the bit of string and get the freedom of the Cam. These are virus sculls.

I also found out where Chesterton’s scull is – answer, in the four shed, rather inconveniently placed, something of a nightmare to get out. I also discovered that it works better when you put the strokeside blade in strokeside… I have a strong feeling that all the sculling I’ve done before has been with symmetrical blades.

Meanwhile, can you name the mystery sculler in the background?

Sea ice, briefly

Via Quark Soup, a reminder to look at the sea ice data. IJIS have a nice pic which is better than the cryosphere today pix. I have a somewhat different take on it to DA: looking at that pic it is clear just how exceptional 2007 was. If you look at the integrated difference from the mean from Jul-Nov approx, it is in a a league of it’sown. 2008 is low in terms of the absolute min, but that is a poor statistical measure. I’m more than ever confident that 2009 will be nothing very exceptional, and that the “new paradigm” people are going to look silly. On top of that, the winter extent for 2009 is looking really quite healthy.

I had very few takers for “2009 will be a new record min” with me taking the no-record side at evens. Anyone interested at 2-1?

Can you say “Schroeder and Connolley, GRL”?

[Updates: Fred T offers $200,and Luna offers £50 -W]

Copenhagen, again

mt has a a transcript of the Copenhagen closing plenary. Let’s have a look. Better still, go read it yourself. I’m not going to cover it all.

Our conclusion is that recent observations confirm that, given high rates of observed emissions, the worst-case IPCC scenario trajectories (or even worse) are being realised. For many key parameters, the climate system is already moving beyond the patterns of natural variability within which our society and economy have developed and thrived. These parameters include global mean surface temperature, sea-level rise, ocean and ice sheet dynamics, ocean acidification, and extreme climatic events. There is a significant risk that many of the trends will accelerate, leading to an increasing risk of abrupt or irreversible climatic shifts.

My first thought is that this is somewhat ambiguous – do they mean that what is happening *now* is worse, or do they mean that what we now think likely to happen in the future is worse? Or both? My second, is that banking on high emissions from 2008 continuing into the future is dubious – the economic downturn will cure that, at least briefly. Anyway, enough of my quibbles: what did Stephan Rahmstorf make of it, you probably care more about his opinion than mine.

First of all, not everything is worse than expected. So that’s the good news. The global temperature is actually rising just as expected… But there are other components of the climate system that we don’t understand that well for example the sea ice behavior, the continental ice sheet behavior, the sea level, and unfortunately, in these components, where we don’t understand them so well that we can confidently compute them, things seem to go faster and worse than we had expected so far. For example the shrinking arctic sea ice is actually declining much faster than in any of the climate models, and we also sea that sea level over the last 20 years or so is rising about 50% faster than the climate models have projected. Another reason for concern is that if you look at the history of this planet, climate changes – the natural climate changes in Earth’s history, we find that past warm climates were significantly underestimated by models, for example the Pliocene.. And we also find that climate changes in earth’s history often have been very abrupt, that’s another thing that we can’t quite reproduce in the models, and at this conference I’ve seen some interesting evidence as to why some aspects of the climate in the climate models may be systematically too stable, so that in the real world things might actually be more unstable than in our models.

So I think SR is backing off from the conference statement somewhat: their first key parameter – global T – isn’t off on the worst case scenario; it is where we expect. Other more poorly understood components are worse? Maybe. If 2009 is worse for Arctic sea ice than 2007, I’ll concede this point to some extent. As to misestimating past climates, I’m not sure how much that matters – in many cases, we don’t really know what the climate was then anyway. The bit about stability is interesting; would be nice to know more.

Stern: he still hasn’t understood (or more likely read, alas) what mt had to say about lawnmowers (but don’t count on the military to save you. They won’t). And I don’t believe this “we can solve GW with 1-2 percent of GDP stuff”.

Dan Kammen: why aren’t you silly industrial people doing the right thing? You must be so stupid. It is so frustrating, we keep telling you what to do but you don’t do it!

Danish PM: mt thinks he is spot on, I find it hard to agree. He has nothing intersting to say about climate, so it is the econ/pol that is relevant. He appears to take Stern at face value. Probably hard not to, when Stern is sitting next to him, but he must be aware that Stern’snumbers are dubious (me or or me quoting Nordhaus). The European Union has committed to 30% reductions by 2020 as part of a global agreement – sounds great, but there isn’t a lot of sign of that coming to pass.

The bit near the end – about 9/10 of the way down – about different ways of looking at 2 oC target is interesting, to see how confusing it can all get. Among people who have in theory just finished listening to it being very carefully expalined to them.

Which famous theologian are you?

Janice is Menno Simons, who Ive never heard of, in the Which famous theologian are you? quiz on facebook. I’m an aetheist, which isn’t a promising start, but I thought I’d have a go. Question 1 rather stumped me, since there isn’t a “Through grace alone” option; if I did believe in a god it wouldn’t be some wossy god who was bound by what I believed, though I’m sure god would be allowed discretion to take into account my beliefs, if so inclined.

I couldn’t find a satisfactory answer to any of the other questions either, but I fought my way through to the end, only to discover that I needed to spam 15 friends for it to tell me the answer. Well b*ll*cks to that.