More trash from Watts

Well, so what’s new with that, I hear you say? And indeed, not much is the answer. But its a saturday night so some knock-about fun is in order.

So, Watts, along with most of the septic blogosphere, was all over An ikaite record of late Holocene climate at the Antarctic Peninsula by Zunli Lua et al.. Not because they care about the science, but because the abstract says This ikaite record qualitatively supports that both the Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age extended to the Antarctic Peninsula. In septic-world, it is very important that the MWP and LIA be global, so that instantly turned into a headline of “Yes, I know, I covered it first: The Medieval Warm Period was Global” in Watts-world. Actually, I have reservations as to whether their figures support even their text (it is yet another “we found some warm bits and we found some cold bits, and since the MWP and LIA time-spans are so vague, we called the warm bits MWP and the cold bits LIA”).

But all this misrepresentation, although obvious enough, has clearly annoyed the authors, who now say

“It is unfortunate that my research, “An ikaite record of late Holocene climate at the Antarctic Peninsula,” recently published in Earth and Planetary Science Letters, has been misrepresented by a number of media outlets.

Several of these media articles assert that our study claims the entire Earth heated up during medieval times without human CO2 emissions. We clearly state in our paper that we studied one site at the Antarctic Peninsula. The results should not be extrapolated to make assumptions about climate conditions across the entire globe. Other statements, such as the study “throws doubt on orthodoxies around global warming,” completely misrepresent our conclusions. Our study does not question the well-established anthropogenic warming trend.”

Watts has been obliged to update his post, but is still in denial, errm, which is exactly where he is supposed to be so that is all right then, best beloved.

And in other news

* General Motors pulls funding from climate sceptic thinktank Heartland. As they say The funding cut – just $15,000 a year – is small beer for the institute, which has a multi-million dollar turnover, largely from a single anonymous donor, so this isn’t as exciting as it might seem.
* BA has a nice pic of an underwater volcano errupting, visible from its plume in the water.

Climate scientists not cowed by relentless climate change deniers

Nice article in physicstoday.

Other stuff

* Wiley coverup: The great Wegman and Said “redo” to hide plagiarism and errors – the Wegman stuff keeps rumbling on. Wegman reminds me of the TSA guy here – what he says isn’t believeable, but he has powerful organisations propping him up, because having him admit error would be embarrassing.
* Hansen Wins – Wabbett sez the US is going to require any new power plant to emit no more than 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt of electricity produced. That would be a good result, but the wrong way to do it. The right way is a carbon tax, not an arbitrary limit.


So, the Tories have been naughty boys again and everyone is shocked – shocked, I tell you – to discover that all that money that people pay to the political parties is actually paid for something, rather than just given for love. Well, its a bit of fun but I doubt it goes anywhere, because no-one is surprised. Labour will posture, but then squirm when their union money comes up. The house of Lords is stuffed with people who bought their way in.

My ‘umble prediction is that the “main” damage will come from an impression of incompetence, and it won’t be much. They are supposed to be sufficiently competent to do this stuff quietly. Its similar – ha, obligatory link to climate stuff – to the Heartland stuff; their main damage from that is going to come from anonymous donors, who won’t trust them to keep their names quiet.


* The U.S. Navy – Navigating Through a Changing Climate – h/t Todd.

How not to edit wikipedia

Wiki isn’t as exciting as it used to be – the days of vast opposing armies swirling across the blood-soaked plains of global warming laying waste to innocent and combatant alike have faded into myth. Nowadays we (or rather they; I don’t even need to join in) have exciting discussions about exactly how to portray the 97%-of-scientists-agree stuff.

But now and again something interesting happens, and it has just recently, culminating in a chap called Andrewedwardjudd getting himself indef’d for legal threats. This throws up a couple of interesting issues. The first is, that though wiki can look rather free-n-easy, and while it is possible to be completely useless, do nothing but get in the way of other productive editors, and still not get blocked for years on end; there are some things that wiki does care about and that will get you instantly indef’d: and making legal threats, or things that can be interpreted as such, is one of them (see WP:NLT). The offending text is There are laws against libel, and Wiki should not be encouraging this kind of law breaking by so openly supporting such stupid behaviour. That gets you You have been blocked indefinitely from editing for making legal threats or taking legal action. If you would like to be unblocked, you may appeal this block by adding the text {{unblock|reason=Your reason here ~~~~}}, but you should read the guide to appealing blocks first. The correct response, and the expected response from people who were acting in good faith but got rather carried away, is “oops, sorry, I didn’t mean to make a threat, please accept my assurances that what I wrote was misinterpreted, and just to be on the safe side I now withdraw/rephrase what I said”. The incorrect response (at least, incorrect if you want to be unblocked) is to make the threats explicit.

This may be a good place to point out that “indef’d” – as in, indefinitely blocked – just means “blocked with no explicit duration”. It doesn’t always mean “blocked for a long time”, either (it can sometimes, but not in this case; it just means blocked-until-you-come-to-your-senses).

Soooo… how did this regrettable situation arise?

It is all a fight over wording on the Greenhouse effect article. Oddly, it isn’t a “skeptic”-vs-science fight; Aej was, he thought, just correcting the science; or perhaps the wording – he never managed to make his point quite clear (I’m not going to bother go into the details, since they aren’t the point; some of the 2nd-law-of-thermo-stuff you see around; for example, this). However, what he did manage to do was to break WP:3RR, which is the don’t-revert-more-than-3-times-in-24h rule (I remember the “good old days” before this rule came in; things could be utter chaos. Indeed, even after the rule came in it was initially interpreted quite tightly; you could edit war for weeks on end unblocked, as long as you stuck to 3-per-24h. But nowadays admins would call that “edit warring” and warn-then-block you for it fairly soon). He got a warning about it, which he ignored; he got a note that he’d broken it and an offer to hold off if he’d take a break; he got a note from a heavyweight admin advising him to take a break and he ignored it all; so I reported him for edit warring.

And he got a 48h topic ban. Which was a fairly lightweight result – most people could expect a block for all that; but there was a fairly clear sense that he was trying to do his best and could potentially be valuable. At this point, anyone sane is expected to get the hint, back off, and lie low for 48h. The motto coming here is, if you can’t do that, you need to step gently away from they keyboard. But he didn’t, he just broke the topic ban instead. And so he got blocked for 48h instead. This, again, should have been a hint to stop escalating but no; he just responded with more fire which lead to his indef. The lesson here is that wiki is looking for some hint that you are prepared to work with others; to act reasonably; to de-escalate; any of those, combined with some kind of decent editing, can be made into an unblock. The reverse – continual escalation all the way up to legal threats, then digging in even deeper (amusingly headlined “You guys just dont know when to give up do you?”) is doomed. Once you start talking like that, people know what to do with you and what pigeon hole to put you in, and getting out again is hard (did someone mention self-awareness?).

So children, remember: if you want to edit wiki, please do, but if you start getting heavy hints that you are out of line, its best to cast around for some advice rather than just keep on digging.

(Incidentally, since I’m here, Photon polarization looks like it needs help from someone competent).

Update: the saga now includes the final step in the process: if you make enough unblock requests without thinking, and continue the legal threats, then your talkpage access will be revoked.

Update: I was wrong! There is a further step in the saga, one I should have anticipated. The next step is for the banned user to either (a) WP:SOCKpuppet or (b) get someone else to post for him, aka WP:MEATpuppetry. We’ve now got (b): [1], [2] is “Andrewswife” who has been thrown into the middle of this dispute to defend her husband (to be fair, I doubt they even knew this wasn’t allowed; neither seem terribly familiar with the rules). That isn’t a tenable position; fortunately Vsmith has drawn a veil over the process, hatting the discussion with Proxying for indef blocked user and blocking “Andrewswife”. That is, arguably, a bit harsh, as I doubt she knows what is going on.

Update: just to make it clear that there is nothing desperately exciting about this, here is another chap, just indef’d for edit warring at Free will. And another, for edit warring at Angle trisection.


* A childs garden of wikipedia
* Over in the comments at Rabett Run – Eli being a bit cruel.

More sea ice and more methane

Arctic Methane Emergency Group? refers. Via GP I find this discussion on a “geoengineering” newsgroup (gosh how quaint – people still use newsgroups? Maybe retro is back). AJL finds my article “damming” but Ken C finds it “a little distasteful”. But both are worried, quite rightly, about credibility if the AMEG’s wilder claims (and people) aren’t challenged.

Ken C points to September Arctic sea ice predicted to disappear near 2oC global warming above present (JGR, doi:10.1029/2011JD016709) which is interesting, because that is very non-catastrophic and very non-nearterm: 2 oC puts it at ~2070 or something, depending on your scenario.

A recalibration of an ensemble of global climate models using observations over 28 years provides a scenario independent relationship and yields about 2oC change in annual mean global surface temperature above present as the most likely global temperature threshold for September sea ice to disappear, but with substantial associated uncertainty.


Which brings me on to Now, and Cryosphere Today has a nice interactive chart, which I’ve inlined above (see-also). This year – yellow – seems quite wobbly; from bumping along the bottom it is now well up in the middle of the pack. But that is midwinter; there is still all to play for in the year ahead.

ccgg.BRW.ch4.1.none.discrete.all Switching very briefly to methane (the AMEG people were a bit annoyed their nice discussion had got hijacked by sea ice), the pic here shows… nothing very exciting. And it is Barrow, not global, per special request of Eli. This provides some kind of constraint on the hugeosity of whatever methane release is occurring in the Arctic.

And so, in the end, back to the Dark Side, where Watts had some story about sea ice. I ignored the bit about the Skate – if you’re interested, Eli has the story on that, and the other half too. But the bit about IPCC ’90 using pre-1978 sea ice was more interesting. Its true, they did (though it was a surprise to me). Presumably because back in 1990 the SSMI/R record was rather short, and it wasn’t obviously silly to use other stuff (for the full story, and exactly what other stuff, read RMG who knows). Anyway, I guessed wrong: it wasn’t ESMR (couldn’t have been, as RMG points out, because there would have been gaps). But what is fun, if you’re a detatched spectator, is how the Watties once again jump onto the good old conspiracy theories of how things were pure then but the global conspiracy has subsequently conspired to wipe out any memory of our giant reptilian overlords whatever. This is definitely a case where you don’t need fancy explanations for their errors. There is a constant stream of junk, no time to think or evaluate, and no need anyway – its all denialotainment, nothing real, and like the headline in the Daily Mail will be conveniently forgotten very soon.

Oh, and don’t mention Scafetta.


* Anthony Watts Misleading His Readers About Surface Temperature Record – it might be convenient to put this where I might find it again
* How reversible is sea ice loss? J. K. Ridley, J. A. Lowe, and H. T. Hewitt

Arctic Methane Emergency Group?

From Climate ‘tech fixes’ urged for Arctic methane I find who say:


We declare there now exists an extremely high international security risk* from abrupt and runaway global warming being triggered by the end-summer collapse of Arctic sea ice towards a fraction of the current record and release of huge quantities of methane gas from the seabed. Such global warming would lead at first to worldwide crop failures but ultimately and inexorably to the collapse of civilization as we know it. This colossal threat demands an immediate emergency scale response to cool the Arctic and save the sea ice. The latest available data indicates that a sea ice collapse is more than likely by 2015 and even possible this summer (2012). Thus some measures to counter the threat have to be ready within a few months.

So who are these bozos? (Note: I’ve been fairly dismissive about methane before). Aunty says “Scientists told UK MPs this week… At a meeting in Westminster organised by the Arctic Methane Emergency Group (Ameg), Prof Salter told MPs that…” so I think the first thing to realise is that there is less to this than meets the eye (Update: Geoengineering Politics has a report on the meeting that all this recent stuff has spun out of; I’ve also found (thanks cr) the written evidence to the committee, see the Refs). If you follow their “about” link you come to:

In the preparation of the 2010 workshop report and AGU conference poster presentation, scientific and/or engineering advice was sought and obtained from the following people

and there follows a list of distinguished-looking folk, whose only misfortune was to have talked to these people. Lower, we come to

a position statement on the Arctic methane emergency, proposed by the chairman, John Nissen, was agreed by the following:

Graham Ennis
Doly Garcia
Jon Hughes
Veli Albert Kallio
Graham Knight
Dr. Brian Orr
Prof. Stephen Salter
Prof. Peter Wadhams

Salter will be familiar to Old Folk as the inventor of the Duck, a doubtless noble project but which has, as far as I know, been perennially unused. Wadhams is a climate scientist – well, he is a sea ice person. The rest I don’t know. Wadhams has some credibility. Unfortunately, we don’t know what the position statement they agree was. They don’t directly link to it. It is possible that the text I’ve quoted is part of it, but its impossible to know.

Wadhams clearly believes something, see Rebuttal: Imminent collapse of Arctic sea ice drives danger of accelerated methane thaw (thanks B for reminding me). I see that page relies heavily on the Piomas graphs, whose extrapolation I’ve disagreed with before and do now. But onto what W says there: Archer clearly acknowledges the vulnerability of methane hydrates to thawing in response to rising Arctic temperatures. Given that ice loss is accelerating, which in turn will only accelerate that temperature rise through the albedo effect, one has to wonder why he does not perceive an imminent and urgent crisis, which certainly suggests that W does indeed believe in “an imminent and urgent crisis”. I think that is well over the top; I don’t think anything he says there supports it, nor do the links.

I’ve worked with Wadhams a little bit, in the past. Wadhams knows about sea ice, indeed as far as I know its his main specialism. But perhaps in a local-processes sense. He was involvedin garnering thickness data from UK submarine cruises. What I’m trying to say is that I wouldn’t really trust him to have a great deal of feel for the connection between sea ice and global-scale methane; I’d expect him to care for the Arctic, but quite possibly to over-emphasise local detail.

And apart from Wadhams I can’t see this group has any credibility.

Update: bottom-trawling, I ran across a comment at JEB (thanks VB) talking about “invaded by out-and-out nutters such as the UFOlogist and Arctic methane expert Graham Ennes (AKA ‘Omega Institute’)”. Well yes, GE (though with an “i”) is on that list. And yes, if you search for his name you’ll find some weird stuff. Wadhams ought to remember that if you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.

Update: The comment from Axel Schweiger is worth reading.

Update: in fact several other comments are also worth reading; take a look. I think I’m going to give my viewpoint (instead of just being ratty about other peoples). I’ve said this before but its quicker to write it down again than find it. The starting point is the measurements of atmospheric methane. These are nothing much to worry about. Indee they are below the old IPCC scenarios. If there was sudden truely massive venting from the Arctic, we’d be seeing it in those measurements. That leaves the harder problem of whether the Arctic warming (and in particular the recent decline in sea ice) is likely to lead to sufficient warming under the sea bed to release enough methane from clathrates that anyone would care. So far, the evidence warrants monitoring and study, not panic and geoengineering.


* Mid March Miscellanea from CR.
* I’m sure they’ll be delighted to know that this post is now the top google hit for “Arctic Methane Emergency Group”.
* may be the source for the PIOMAS graph the Beeb uses.
* Arctic Methane, Emergencies, and Alarmism
* Possible role of wetlands, permafrost, and methane hydrates in the methane cycle under future climate change: A review – REVIEWS OF GEOPHYSICS, VOL. 48, RG4005, 33 PP., 2010
doi:10.1029/2010RG000326 (thanks Bishop; I’ve inlined their fig 7).
* Evironmental Audit Committee – Written Evidence
* Environmental Audit Committee – Minutes of Evidence
* Neven discusses “the graph”
* [2014] How much methane came out of that hole in Siberia?
* [2014] Climate change and the methane crisis: Q & A with Harold Hensel – Zombie nutters from beyond the grave