Hornet breaking the sound barrier


Isn’t it lovely (it isn’t new. The pic is from 1999 and I’ve seen it before. But seeing it on someone’s wiki page reminded me). Far better than a Green Hornet.

Or maybe you’d rather listen to the wabbit.

[Update: see various comments. The situation is more complex than I though, and possibly not fully understood. See-also cute pix here -W]

A classic from the Climate Scum

On occasion the CS can be a touch heavy-handed but the recent Whitewash! Whitewash! is classic, ending with the inspired:

But that is not science – that is closing your eyes to Truth. The so-called AGW theory is an non-falsifiable oxymoron, and theories that are non-falsifiable are not scientific! It has also been disproved many times, by Gerlisch and Tscheuschler, by Soon and Baliunas, by Miskolczi, by Ernst-Georg Beck, by Lord Monckton, by McIntyre, by Inferno and finally by myself! And by its nature of being unfalsifiable and falsified at the same time, AGW theory leads to a contradiction, and logically this means that it has to be wrong. Reductio ad adsurdum!

That so good it really out to be taken up by the theologues.

More kinky stuff

“The more I get into this, the more I find two classes of doom-sayers, with, of course, the silent majority in between,” he wrote. “One group says we will turn into snow-tripping mastodons because of the atmospheric dust and the other says we will have to grow gills to survive the increased ocean level due to the temperature rise.”Hubert Heffner, deputy director of the administration’s Office of Science and Technology under Nixon, 1970.

JA also thinks that Fred Pearce is rubbish.

And while I’m on rubbish journo’s (are there any other sort? Yes of course: JF!): as I said before, Monbiot is rubbish. Here he presents his snivelling excuses for hainvg called for Jones to resign. And they really are snivelling: So was I wrong to call, soon after this story broke, for Jones’s resignation? I think, on balance, that I was. He said some very stupid things. At times he squelched the scientific principles of transparency and openness. He might have broken the law. But he was also provoked beyond endurance. I think, in the light of everything I’ve now seen and read, that if I were to write that article again I’d conclude that Phil Jones should hang on – but only just. So, having fallen for the septic junk and done his own little bit towards poisoning the debate, Monbiot can’t even bring himself to apologise. What a skunk.

[Update: JA has done this soooo much better than me 🙂.]

The Krypton Cataclysm: Why So Few Survivors? asks mt.

Thought: just as nothing Buddy Holly did was as good as American Pie, so none of the old 40’s movies are as good as The Friends of Mr Cairo.

Yet more clearing

‘Rigour and honesty’ of scientists not in doubt but Sir Muir Russell says UEA’s Climatic Research Unit was not sufficiently open. I’d quibble the latter but we have to take what we can get; probably they needed a sop for the ranters.

Here is the thing itself and here are some quotes (bold in the original):

13. Climate science is a matter of such global importance, that the highest standards of honesty, rigour and openness are needed in its conduct. On the specific allegations made against the behaviour of CRU scientists, we find that their rigour and honesty as scientists are not in doubt.
14. In addition, we do not find that their behaviour has prejudiced the balance of advice given to policy makers. In particular, we did not find any evidence of behaviour that might undermine the conclusions of the IPCC assessments.
15. But we do find that there has been a consistent pattern of failing to display the proper degree of openness, both on the part of the CRU scientists and on the part of the UEA, who failed to recognise not only the significance of statutory requirements but also the risk to the reputation of the University and, indeed, to the credibility of UK climate science.

The one that misc septics have kept pushing is thoroughly rebutted:

16. On the allegation of withholding temperature data, we find that CRU was not in a position to withhold access to such data or tamper with it. We demonstrated that any independent researcher can download station data directly from primary sources and undertake their own temperature trend analysis.


We do not find that the way that data derived from tree rings is described and presented in IPCC AR4 and shown in its Figure 6.10 is misleading. In particular, on the question of the composition of temperature reconstructions, we found no evidence of exclusion of other published temperature reconstructions that would show a very different picture. The general discussion of sources of uncertainty in the text is extensive, including reference to divergence. In this respect it represented a significant advance on the IPCC Third Assessment Report (TAR).

Of course, like everyone else I haven’t actually read the report and may never do so :-).

[Update: The RC comment is worth reading. It deals with one issue I’d noticed but skipped over: 23. On the allegation that the references in a specific e-mail to a „trick‟ and to „hide the decline‟ in respect of a 1999 WMO report figure show evidence of intent to paint a misleading picture, we find that, given its subsequent iconic significance (not least the use of a similar figure in the IPCC Third Assessment Report), the figure supplied for the WMO Report was
misleading. We do not find that it is misleading to curtail reconstructions at some point per se, or to splice data, but we believe that both of these procedures should have been made plain – ideally in the figure but certainly clearly described in either the caption or the text.
What I hadn’t noticed is that they’ve got this hopelessly wrong: the “trick” junk was never over the 1999 WMO report – as RC points out, no-one has ever heard of it. This looks like a misunderstanding by M-R; I can’t quite account for their error here -W]

What I think about global warming

A reader wrote:

I am a recent reader of your blog Stoat. I am very interested in the Climate Change issue but I am not a scientist. I read Joe Romm, Island of Doubt and General news about the subject. You are the first expert I have come across that seems to have a balanced opinion on climate change. I have searched through your archives but I can’t really get a complete feel of what your opinion is. I get lost sometimes when you explain the technical stuff or use abbreviations for things that I don’t know what the abbreviations are for. Could you do a blog post (in an untechnical format) of what your opinion of the problem with climate change is? Is it a problem? What are the consequences? etc…

which is the spur to this post. I am conscious occaisionally when I search back through my archives for a source for “of course my opinion about X is quite clear” I then discover that actually my opinion is delivered through so many layers of assumed knowledge that you might well be confused about what I think.

Anyway, in answer, I direct you to Just what is this Consensus anyway? which is a post I wrote for RealClimate (which I usually abbreviate to RC – in celebration of my obscurity I’ve just written a glossary, do peruse it). The reason I wrote it is worth going into, because it illustrates some of the problems in communicating global warming type stuff. And that is, that the people involved in it just know what is going on. There is no formalised system of “stuff you believe in” – you just swim in it. The borders aren’t really clear but the core is obvious. Nowadays the “stuff” is sort-of defined by the IPCC (WGI of course) but no-one can read it all. You just don’t get people in science saying “well I don’t think the world has warmed in the last 50 years you know” because people like that live off in la-la land so people don’t even realise it is supposed to be an item of belief. It is just There.

I’ll quote what I said in 2004:

The main points that most would agree on as “the consensus” are:

1. The earth is getting warmer (0.6 +/- 0.2 oC in the past century; 0.1 0.17 oC/decade over the last 30 years (see update)) [ch 2]
2. People are causing this [ch 12] (see update)
3. If GHG emissions continue, the warming will continue and indeed accelerate [ch 9]
4. (This will be a problem and we ought to do something about it)

I’ve put those four points in rough order of certainty. The last one is in brackets because whilst many would agree, many others (who agree with 1-3) would not, at least without qualification. It’s probably not a part of the core consensus in the way 1-3 are.

Yep, all of that remains pretty well true, and remains the core. For point 2 you can see the update; the context of updating point 1 is more interesting: I originally wrote “0.1 oC/decade over the last 30 years” because I didn’t actually know what the true value was and I didn’t much care. It really didn’t matter too much to me at that point, and the exact value still doesn’t matter all that much now. I should probably qualify “the warming will continue and indeed accelerate” – the warming goes up to ~0.2-0.3 oC/decade, depending on scenario (see, I still don’t care about the exact value and didn’t even bother look it up) but doesn’t accelerate thereafter (well, except for SRES A2).

In the years since I wrote that nothing has come along to overturn any of that, and much has come in to buttress it. 1, 2 and 3 are now strong enough to be considered “essentially true”; the arguments that claim any of them are false are now dull and uninteresting and without scientific validity. Pretty well all of the meaningful scientific skeptics have now given up trying to argue that. That doesn’t stop the blogosphere reverberating with nonsense, of course.

However, I still think there is room for honest skepticism and disagreement about point 4. I think it is regrettable that there is so much continuing discussion about 1-3, which is largely sterile and mis-informed (on the septic side). I suppose you could argue that this blog and many others owe their continued existence to this sterile debate :-). The real argument should be about point 4: that it will be a problem and we should do something about it. Some groups – and I’m thinking of the likes of Greenpeace or WWF – are of the sort who will say “global warming is automatically a problem and there is no need even to demonstrate this” [See update]. I think that is wrong.

I don’t know the answer to point 4, and I know that I don’t know :-). If forced to pronounce on it, I would say what has been said before: conducting a giant geophysical experiment with the only defence of “we don’t know what might happen” is really stupidly dangerous and the sort of thing you’d get a clip round the ear for if you tried it in chemistry in a proper old fashioned school. If you see what I mean. On the other hand (and there is another hand) the converse to that is “conducting a giant experiment with the global fuel / financial system isn’t a great idea either” and that is what Doing Something About It amounts to. And left to the lobbyists and politicians some pretty stupid ideas will get a look in, like Cap-n-Trade – I prefer a carbon tax.

The reasons why point 4 might be a problem are obvious enough –

1. our culture and civilisation is adapted to roughly the current temperature and precipitation distribution (despite the emphasis on “warming” it is entirely likely that the major impacts could be hydrology related, since rainfall will shift in hard-to-predict ways as the climate changes),
2. the natural world on which we depend is also so adapted,
3. sea level rise,
4. hurricanes and other natural disasters,
5. ocean acidification [Added later]

Number 3 is an interesting one. Because 1 and 2 are kind of woolly, people often drop down to 3 as an “absolute” of-course-this-is-bad (and I’ve never heard anyone argue that SLR would be anything but bad). But that can lead to people over-emphasising or exaggerating the likely future sea level rise. How big will it be? We don’t know. The IPCC AR4 (4th Assessement Report, see glossary) wimped out of answering fully, and instead said ~70 cm by 2100 [Ahem. See update] but excluding exciting things from the ice sheets. Since Exciting Things from the Ice Sheets was the main point at issue, this was a big wimp out. But it did arguably relfect the science, which is: we really don’t know the answer right now.

[Added later: number 5 might be bad; I’m not sure. I haven’t troubled to find out much about it so far]

1 I’m somewhat dubious about – people are adaptable, as are buildings over a long enough time frame – and I’m inclined to think that most of the trouble will come from point 2. But really a discussion of the impacts has to involve the impacts people and the biologists and so on who deal with the squishy stuff. I don’t know. An obvious counter to 2 is “but climate has changed in the past: it has been much colder (ice ages) and much warmer (errr…)”. The “err…” there is because actually it *hasn’t* been “much” warmer (or at least, the evidence for greater warmth is thin) for a good while, where “a good while” is poorly defined – perhaps millions of years – at least, a time long enough in terms of evolution. The “counter-counter” is usually “ah yes, the climate has changed, but not at this unprecedented rate” and this is where the rate of future climate change becomes important.

Hurricanes became very sexy in the aftermath to Katrina (don’t fail to follow the link to the RC view) but on this issue I’m largely with Roger Pielke Jr (RP Jr) on this – almost all of the increase in damage from hurricanes over the last ~50 years is due to societal changes, not climate changes.

And that happily leads me on to my Spotters Guide to Climate Blogs. But I think I’ll reserve that for another post.

[Updates: I just knew I was going to have to do this…

* SLR: http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/spmsspm-projections-of.html#table-spm-3 says “0.21 – 0.48” so my 70 cm is a bit high.
* deconvoluter points out that point 4 is subject to the “inequity problem” – while some areas might gain from climate change, others might lose. Attempting to balance gains and losses would be alegal nightmare and a lawyers troughing dream. The only way to handle it in the real world would be allowing freer movement of people.
* environmental stress: I didn’t mention this before, but if you care about environmental stress the biggest sources are probably not GHG’s but our towns, cities, farms and rainforest destruction. Yes they are all linked.
* “global warming is automatically a problem and there is no need even to demonstrate this” – I forgot one of the reasons – perhaps the strongest – for people believing this, which is the morality argument (thanks cbp): breaking things is Bad. Cutting down old growth forest is Bad. *I* agree with that, but since it is a morality problem it runs slap into the “ah, but my morality is different from (but no worse than) yours” answer.


* How fast is the earth warming? – Open Mind / Tamino.
* ATTP on some things we should be able to agree about.
* Rates of ancient climate change may be underestimated? [2015]

Well write a bloody paper about it, then

So often you get folks who have some brilliant theory, but unaccountably lack the courage to write the thing up and submit it for publication. However, I’m pleased to report that Nicolas Nierenberg is not such a man, and he *has* written a paper: Early Climate Change Consensus at the National Academy: The Origins and Making of Changing Climate (blog post). Whether (like me) you think it is basically correct or (perhaps, I’m guessing, like Eli you don’t) you will, I’m sure, welcome the way this is being played out in scholarly debate.
Continue reading “Well write a bloody paper about it, then”

Fred Pearce is rubbish

Things Break says this, but I don’t see why I shouldn’t say the same. I haven’t had much to say about Pearce before – I see I took a side swipe at him a while back. But his recent trash on the McLean paper is the worst sort of dumb journo false balance and he should be ashamed of himself.

[Update: anyone who thinks FP isn’t a fool should read his latest trash (thanks to a commenter)]

May as well have a largely irrelevant cartoon (ht: mt):

Mann cleared, again

RC has said this already, but perhaps you want to talk about it here. Not great surprise I think; see the press release or the final report.

The Investigatory Committee, after careful review of all available evidence, determined
that there is no substance to the allegation against Dr. Michael E. Mann, Professor, Department of Meteorology, The Pennsylvania State University. More specifically, the Investigatory Committee determined that Dr. Michael E. Mann did not engage in, nor did he participate in, directly or indirectly, any actions that seriously deviated from accepted practices within the academic community for proposing, conducting, or reporting research, or other scholarly activities. The decision of the Investigatory Committee was unanimous.

Just to prove I’ve read, or at least skimmed, it: Lindzen’s bit is jolly.

[Update: that was a bit of a boring post (JA doesn’t manage any better) so how about some more Tiljander? I only mention it because someone manages to say William Connolley’s position is too subtle, nuanced, and complex for me to summarize – isn’t that just what you’d like *your* position to be? Anyway, I don’t think anyone has managed better than me, in this post. AGW Observer has a go, and while I’m happy to quote his “Looking at McIntyre’s claims on this and the real situation descibed above shows that McIntyre’s claims are false” I didn’t read carefully enough to work out what McI’s claims might be. Unfortunately Ari seems to have missed a very fundamental point – the sign-invariance one even though I hammered that several times. Oh well. APS also has a post with loadsa comments (I’m sure I left him one too but I see it not, never mind, it was only to point to my post and explain, yet again, why the Tiljander series don’t matter much in the reconstruction). Apart from that it looks like cue the go-round-in-circles-again kind of stuff we’ve come to know and move on these kinds of issues]