A photographic review of the year

January: Cold in Cambridge (but this is from early-Feb, since I don’t have anything terribly good from January. The best I can offer is smoke on the water).


February: early bees.


March: Phoebe. Our cat.


April: Petals on water.


May: Humble bumbles.


June: Stubai. The entire place is unbearably gorgeous. If you have a robust sense of humour, try this from the Franz Senn hut gents. If you have an even more robust sense, then this.


July: Summer in the garden.


August: Mallorca.


September: Chris’s wedding.


October: Amsterdam.


November: Winter head.


December: Cold again (from 2010. I don’t have any decent pix from this December. Just being soggy isn’t so interesting).


Oh, and Happy New Year to you all.


* The year in Stoats (2010).

You can't blog on Christmas day!

Said my wife, appalled. But I can, you know. Let’s hope this doesn’t happen:

beeb-ant.png In Essexshire it happened so
A man went out all for to plough,
As he was ploughing along so fast
Up came sweet Jesus himself at last.

“Oh man, oh man, why dost thou plough
So hard upon the Lord’s birthday?”
The farmer answered him with great speed,
“To plough this day I have great need.”

His arms did tremble through and through,
Until that he could no longer plough.
The ground did open and he fell in
Before he could repent his sin.

His wife and children are out of place,
His beasts and cattle now all are lost.
His beasts and cattle they die away
For ploughing on the Lord’s birthday.

The source I can find for this is here (via mudcat), which says its been recorded by Spiers and Boden, but I’m almost certain I have it from Martin Carthy. Anyway.

Exhibit A is a pic from Aunty about the recent West-Ant-is-warming-so-Steig-was-right-all-along paper from Bromwich; see RC for more details. And what I want to say is: this pic is inevitably totally misleading to at least 99.9% of the audience, particularly when captioned “The data from Byrd Station shows rapid warming on the west Antarctic ice sheet”. How many people are going to read the sideways text on the scale saying “Temperature correlation with Byrd station”? Very few, and even fewer are going to understand it.

The pic shows (as the sidebar says) the temperature correlation between temperature variations at Byrd, and those elsewhere. Its the annual mean, and its from ECMWF reanalysis rather than from observations (it has to be not-from-obs, because its a field available everywhere; they could have plotted it over the sea too if they’d wanted to). They don’t even say (as far as I can tell) whether its from de-trended anomalies or not. But anyway: the only point of the pic is to show you that temperature variation at Byrd is fairly representative of temperature variation over much of West Antarctica (although because the re-analysis will have used Byrd, and won’t have been corrected by much else, I’d be inclined to wonder how reliable that is). The colour scale makes it hard to see (the portion of the colour bar including zero correlation should be white, obviously) but the correlation over the rest of Antarctica is near-zero. Fair enough: West Antarctica is meteorologically isolated from East Antarctica. Somewhat more surprisingly it appears to be isolated from the Antarctic Peninsula.

What the pic doesn’t show is warming. For all that particular pic shows, W Ant could be warming, cooling, or staying the same. because its just a correlation map. I can only assume that Matt McGrath is a bit clueless, as this isn’t the pic you’d choose to illustrate an article about temperatures going up. He meant to use fig 2, which I helpfully include below:


[Update: TC in the comments points out that the same mistake is made by UCAR’s press release [cite].

Police and Thieves

p-and-t_crop You recognise the image, no doubt. And before I go any further I should say that both the image and the title are unfair. But they came irresistibly to my mind anyway.

The context is a link and comment I recently posted to facebook, viz:

Andrew Mitchell: the ‘toxic’ smears aimed at destroying my party and me [Torygraph]

Having the police federation forcing the Tory whip to resign was appalling (I don’t much like our politicians, but I’m absolutely opposed to the police getting to choose those they like). But at least there is starting to be some comeback http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9763005/Andrew-Mitchell-the-toxic-smears-aimed-at-destroying-my-party-and-me.html (I’d rather have quoted the Beeb but their website is still pussy-footing around on this).

That post wasn’t… ermm… universally popular, though several people agreed with me, one from the police. I think some people are so blinded by their dislike-verging-on-hatred of the Tory party that they can’t see the problem in the police conduct, or in the police federation’s campaign against Andrew Mitchell. Of course, he’s a (Tory) chief whip so he can’t complain about a bit of political rough and tumble. And indeed, thinking and looking back on this, I can see far more blame attaches to Cameron that I’d previously thought: in that Cameron’s clear duty was to stand up against the PF’s campaign, and he funked it (I see the Graun is pushing this line. They are anti-Cameron of course, but that doesn’t make the line wrong). But the principal blame, of course, attaches to the PF.

One good result of all this is a healthy rift between the Tories and the police, who have been too close for too long.

Cage fight: Ridley vs Romm

W00t, its the Big Fight, or at least its the spat du jour. Does anyone outside the little blogospheric circle care? My guess is no. As I said over at Timmy’s recently, my personal “does-the-outside-world-give-a-shit-o-meter” (as applied to the latest septic nonsense to hit the blogospheric fan) is “has anyone tried to push it into any of the major GW type articles on wikipedia”? By that test, the latest stuff from Lewis scores zero. Even Schwartz managed better.

But (whilst Romm wouldn’t be my choice as the prime upholder of Truth and Light) the latest to-and-fro provides an interesting way to tell who is lying to you. To no-one’s great surprise, the answer is… available at the end of this post. Its all out in the open, and verifiable to everyone (the one unverifiable aspect is who has changed their postings since they were first written. I’ve taken snapshots of how things are now).


* Joe Romm demonstrates himself to be an angry know-nothing in his attack on Matt Ridley’s WSJ essay – Ridley responds – Ridley at WUWT [cite], complaining about…
* Error-Riddled Matt Ridley Piece Lowballs Climate Change, Discredits Wall Street Journal. World Faces 10°F Warming – Romm at TP [cite], complaining about…
* Matt Ridley: Cooling Down the Fears of Climate Change – Ridley’s piece [cite] puffing Lewis’s piece about sensitivity.

For the moment, we care not whether Lewis’s original is correct or not (I still think its wrong, but have done no real analysis, that you’ll have to wait for. I’m still hoping someone competent might do it – hint, hint). I think Romm’s headline assertion that Ridley has “Discredit[ed the] Wall Street Journal” is dubious, on the grounds that it had no reputation to lose on the subject of Climate Change. But on…

Part the first

From Ridley:

He [Romm] quotes a scientist as saying

it is very clear water vapor … is an amplifying effect. It is a very strong warmer for the climate.

I agree. My piece states:

water vapor itself is a greenhouse gas.

So there is no confusion there. At least not on my part.

But this is indeed confused by Ridley, in an important way. The WV feedback is important, and Ridley can’t be unaware of that. By confusing this with the doubted-by-no-one statement that WV is a GHG, Ridley is throwing up squid ink. Though I’m dubious he really understands this stuff at all – there is a fair chance that some of his errors are simply caused by his own lack of competence.

Part the second

Ridley continues:

However, I do discuss the possibility that clouds, formed from water vapor, either amplify or damp warming – and nobody at this stage knows which. This is the point that my physicist informant was making: the consequence of increased temperatures and water vapor in the atmosphere may be changes in clouds that have a cooling effect. You will find few who disagree with this. As the IPCC AR4 said:

Cloud feedbacks remain the largest source of uncertainty.

Joe Romm disagrees with this consensus, saying

The net radiative feedback due to all cloud types is likely positive.

He gives no backing for this dogmatic conclusion.

Romm, correctly, points out that his “The net radiative feedback due to all cloud types is likely positive” is taken from the AR5 draft, and says so (at least it currently says so. Whether it originally did, I can’t say. However Ridley really can’t fulminate about “no backing” and “dogmatic”, because it really is sourced).

What AR5 says (at least in part) is:

Therefore, there is very high confidence that the net feedbacks are strongly positive and the black body response of the climate to a forcing will therefore be amplified. Cloud feedbacks continue to be the largest uncertainty… New approaches to diagnosing cloud feedback in GCMs have clarified robust cloud responses, while continuing to implicate low cloud cover as the most important source of intermodel spread in simulated cloud feedbacks. The net radiative feedback due to all cloud types is likely positive, although a negative feedback (damping global climate changes) is still possible.

The AR4 was less certain: Conclusion on cloud feedbacks. Despite some advances in the understanding of the physical processes that control the cloud response to climate change and in the evaluation of some components of cloud feedbacks in current models, it is not yet possible to assess which of the model estimates of cloud feedback is the most reliable. However, progress has been made in the identification of the cloud types, the dynamical regimes and the regions of the globe responsible for the large spread of cloud feedback estimates among current models. This is likely to foster more specific observational analyses and model evaluations that will improve future assessments of climate change cloud feedbacks.

So it appears to me that:

(1) AR5 has strengthened the assessment of cloud forcing, which is now thought to be likely (which is weak, but its there) to be positive,
(2) AR4 and AR5 both say cloud feedbacks remain the largest source of uncertainty. Ridley is right to quote this, but wrong to imply that this is the last word the IPCC has to say on the subject,
(3) Ridley is wrong to say that by asserting (1) Romm is denying (2) – the two are entirely compatible. Obviously: they’re in the same IPCC paragraph,
(4) Ridley is wrong to say that Romm’s assertion is dogmatic, or not backed. Its a quote from the draft, and its fully backed up.
(5) Ridley is wrong to state, of the cloud feedback, that “nobody at this stage knows which… You will find few who disagree with this”. That would have been defensible from the AR4, but not now.


I think its most likely that Ridley is incompetent – if he knows what he is actually saying, then he knows he is wrong on all these counts, and he knows that anyone competent will be able to see that. Of course, he may just be playing to the gallery.

If you want more, in a bit I didn’t bother look at Ridley tries to drag in Schlesinger onto his side. Alas, Schlesinger will have none of it, and Romm quotes a letter from Schlesinger: Matt Ridley mentions the findings of my Climate Research Group’s paper… In his article, Mr. Ridley is just plain wrong about future global warming…


* Neven on AR5 sea ice

People, if you want to argue with stoats, first read enough to be a weasel. Parrots needn’t apply

The latest denialosphere nonsense is proving quite entertaining – not for the subject matter itself, for without exception no-one in the debate has troubled to read the gumpf – but for the mudslinging in the comment thread. If you want to see Bad William you can go over there.

Vinny, I think that pays you off, yes?

Wackos from the Dark Side: you can have the debate here if you want, but only if you’re prepared to talk sensibly. As a teensy test of your interest in being sane, I’m making a special rule just for the comment thread: anyone unable to spell my name, or get my title right, or do the sensible thing and call me WMC instead, doesn’t get published. Wabbit, you behave too.


* PaulB – some of the way, I think, but not quite.
* Gregory 2002 (I’m so old school I have a paper copy).

IPCC report leaked, again

the-little-green-wheels The denialists have leaked the draft IPCC report, again. There are some self-serving lies at WUWT about exactly why it was OK to break the confidentiality agreement, but given that any old fool can sign up to be an “expert reviewer” and many do, and that the denialists are self-serving liars, leaking of the report was only to be expected. Which makes a farce of trying to keep it private. The only solution is for the IPCC to stop pretending it isn’t going to be leaked, and make the draft report publically available with the words “draft” stamped on it in nice big letters.

While they’re doing that they should rename the “expert reviewer” category to just “reviewer”, or perhaps just remove it entirely. Certainly at the moment there is no quality control at all over the expertness of the reviewer.

As you’d expect, WUWT has got the substance wrong; see Skeptical Science.

More interesting is “World avoided” simulations with the Whole Atmosphere Community Climate Model (ppt): We use the Whole Atmosphere Community Climate Model, coupled to a deep ocean model, to investigate the impact of continued growth of halogenated ozone depleting substances (ODS) in the absence of the Montreal Protocol. We confirm the previously reported result that the growth of ODS leads to a global collapse of the ozone layer in mid-21st century, with column amounts falling to 100 DU or less at all latitudes.


* P3 / QS / RR / JEB / RC.
* Sherwood: we conclude exactly the opposite – that this cosmic ray effect that the paragraph is discussing appears to be negligible.

Time for carbon taxes?

PAYING FOR IT by ELIZABETH KOLBERT in the shouty New Yorker suggests that carbon taxes may be back on the (US) agenda. It would be good if they were, but I’m dubious (am I ever anything else?). There are many reasons to be dubious. One is in the article: a carbon tax makes so much sense—researchers at M.I.T. recently described it as a possible “win-win-win” response to several of the country’s most pressing problems—economists on both ends of the political spectrum have championed it which has been true for years, to no avail. And Obama doesn’t seem to be on board: We would never propose a carbon tax, and have no intention of proposing one. Brian, I know, has said this is because it has the word “tax” in it; I suppose we can hope the US grows up one day.

But another reason to be dubious is the wishful thinking in the article:

A few weeks ago, more than a hundred major corporations, including Royal Dutch Shell and Unilever, issued a joint statement calling on lawmakers around the globe to impose a “clear, transparent and unambiguous price on carbon emissions,” which, while not an explicit endorsement of a carbon tax, certainly comes close.

Well, they did indeed say that (“The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change”? WTF? Well, never mind). But the logo of the IETA is a big hint that its not going to be pro-carbon-tax. Those people have got a lot – their entire business model and nice fat profits – to lose if a carbon tax replaces their trading. And the “communique” doesn’t even use the word tax. It calls for carbon pricing, but is very vague about what sort, and only mentions “cap and trade”. As you’d expect, from a carbon trading organisation (this is of course a problem with a carbon tax that I may have mentioned before: because its nobody’s boondoggle, just a good idea for everyone, there is no-one with their tongue hanging out drooling over prospective profits to lobby in its favour).

Meanwhile, the “communique” itself is, errm, being rather optimistic:

We recognise that carbon pricing can be contentious: in economic downturns businesses, consumers, and governments all worry about constraints on the economy. But experience has shown that carbon pricing as an approach can deliver greater emissions reductions at lower cost than predicted which in turn offers the opportunity for greater ambitionv.

But if you look at “v” you find stuff like The EU ETS has not resulted in significant costs to business to date and Company decision-making has taken carbon pricing on board, but climate legislation has not led to fundamental shifts in strategy and Companies have improved their monitoring and reporting of emissions and realized energy efficiency gains all of which rather suggests that the ETS has in reality had minimal impact. Carbon pricing has to have an effect on industry, and it has to cause pain somewhere, otherwise its pointless.

Via Timmy the Graun seems to have been the same idea (this can’t be coincidence. Zeitgeist? Coordinated briefing? Copying?). Their suggestion that a carbon tax could be a way of avoiding a steep rise in income tax and save cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and social security is bad: the carbon tax should be revenue neutral.

I should mention another aspect which a comment at P3 threw into relief recently: that there are equity problems with a tax, as follows: if you were to impose a no-more-emissions via a cap, then there would be no winners or losers from climate change (modulo what we’ve got already and committed; just humour me for the moment) and this would be equitable. But if you calculate the global costs a-la Stern or summat, and tax at that level, then you get change, and you get winners and losers, but there is no inbuilt mechanism for redistribution (especially since the taxes will be national but the loss/gain likely international). To which I’d reply: well, tough, you can’t solve every problem.


* Carbon tax watch
* Carbon tax now
* David Hone sort of tries to say that something else is a good idea.
* Brian wants a non-revenue-neutral carbon tax, too.

American Drinker Climate Forecaster of The Year 2010

fig-28 Oh go on guess, who do you think it was. Well, you’re wrong: it was Piers Corbyn. To be fair to Piers, he doesn’t appear to use the “honour” himself, its been used for him on his signature to the recent OPEN CLIMATE LETTER TO UN SECRETARY-GENERAL: Current scientific knowledge does not substantiate Ban Ki-Moon assertions on weather and climate, say 125-plus scientists. Those 125 are the usual pile of NN, non-scientists, and a very small sprinkling of people with reputations. Though this time no-one with anything close to first-rank in met/climate: even Lindzen and Christie have deserted. I think this in aid of opposing Doha. It seems rather sweet and naive of them; I can’t see the point.

As far as I can see, the only interesting bit of the “open letter” is

The NOAA “State of the Climate in 2008” report asserted that 15 years or more without any statistically-significant warming would indicate a discrepancy between observation and prediction.

But it isn’t true (as you’d expect). The bit they are misreading appears to be:

ENSO-adjusted warming in the three surface temperature datasets over the last 2–25 yr continually lies within the 90% range of all similar-length ENSO-adjusted temperature changes in these simulations (Fig. 2.8b). Near-zero and even negative trends are common for intervals of a decade or less in the simulations, due to the model’s internal climate variability. The simulations rule out (at the 95% level) zero trends for intervalsof 15 yr or more, suggesting that an observed absence of warming of this duration is needed to create a discrepancy with the expected present-day warming rate.

So this is the familiar situation: the denialists are cherry-picking their starting year of 1998. If you don’t do that, or if you take out ENSO (as the 2008 report explicitly did; or as Foster and Rahmstorf did), then you see the warming you expect.


* The Winner of This Year’s ‘Best Climate Predictor’ Award (Clue: It Wasn’t Al Gore!) (the article is such drivel I don’t think its even worth shredding).
* Doubling Down on Climate Change Denial