Its all about me (again, yawn)

Do not click on this image. Its all about me refers. This wasn’t terribly exciting the first time round, but now that dullard AW has finally noticed – its only taken him three+ weeks. And AW has only noticed because the Kalte cretins have recycled it.

Apparently I

openly sympathized with the views of the controversial IPCC

which is of course true, at least the “sympathising” bit. My position on GW is hard to distinguish from the IPCC’s, and I’ve defended them in the past.

As for the rest: the substance of AW’s regurgitation dates back to nonsense I refuted ages ago. AW deliberately gets my title wrong, but one learns not to expect respect for accuracy or correctness from him. I’ve not got a clue what he or they mean by “umpire”.

You can see my (or someone else’s) wiki edit count from a shifting variety of toolservers; currently this one says I’ve edited 7,410 unique pages. But I think that include talk pages and non-article namespaces. “5428 Wikipedia articles” is definitely wrong (remember, though, AW is regurgitating stuff that is years old; my pages-edited-count must have passed through 5428 at some point), “most about climate” is not well founded and likely to be false.

[Update: there is (as you’d expect, and perhaps even hope) quite a bit of foaming at the mouth and carpet-biting in the comments over at WUWT. There’s also quite a lot of lies (ditto) but I’ll single out that slimy toad Willis Eschenbach:

Occasionally he comes over here to try to sell his alarmism. Of course, since he can’t control the conversation here, he doesn’t hang around much.

Willis is happy to talk big in a venue where he knows he’s safe from any comeback: because as he knows full well I’m banned from WUWT for pointing out some of AW’s more obvious errors (and, I think, for attracting too much attention: as far as AW is concerned, its all about him). WUWT is an unpleasant place if you’re not a wacko, but I did my best to help them. The only reason I’m no longer able to help correct their more basic errors – such as WE’s deliberate one above – is because they won’t let me. By contrast, even the wackos are welcome to comment here, if they have something to say. But they don’t seem to be very brave without their mob, and mod backup.]

Driverless cars vs high speed rail

aadb Driverless cars are in the news recently (I won’t even bother linking to the various posts, there are so many) and Brian worries they might turn High Speed Rail into a dinosaur. Which indeed seems entirely likely.

My own view is that I love railways; going on holidays via sleeper and waking up as you’re going through an alpine pass is wonderful. Commuting in the things isn’t great, though it beats sitting in traffic queues. But where does the obsession with HSR come from? As CIP points out in Brian’s comments, they aren’t energy efficient – you might as well fly. They make great macho infrastructure projects for pols to posture with, and I’m sure there are wonderful discrete kick-backs in all that concrete pouring. And they’re great for making promises of regeneration of distant areas that can’t be falsified until too late. Aside: I was always disappointed that the channel tunnel went down the obsession-with-speed thing, when what I wanted them to do was run sleeper services to the continent so I didn’t have to change in Paris. Ah well.

As for driverless cars: if they do come, they’re bound to look very different from a car that drives itself. I’m going to want one with a bed in the back so I can wake up in that alpine pass again.


* Offsetting Climate Change by Engineering Air Pollution to Brighten Clouds.
* An Examination of the Interaction between Two Prospective Transport Technologies: Questioning the Importance of High Speed Rail in a Driverless Vehicle Society – Ryan J. Westrom; Candidate, Master of Science in Transportation 2014; Massachusetts Institute of Technology (that link, to my website, is just me hosting a copy of his poster).
* Timmy in 2014.

BEST is published

It looks like the first of the BEST papers is published (webcite): A New Estimate of the Average Earth Surface Land Temperature Spanning 1753 to 2011 (h/t WUWT) – Richard A. Muller, Robert Rohde, Robert Jacobsen, Elizabeth Muller, Saul Perlmutter, Arthur Rosenfeld, Jonathan Wurtele, Donald Groom and Charlotte Wickham. Note the absence of La Curry (she’s noticed, though. Note absence of comment on journal quality).

AW has thrown Muller under the bus and is cwuel to the paper, which is almost enough to make me kind, but not quite. The audience duly parrots this back to him, with a few exceptions. “oldfossil” reminds AW of his original words I’m prepared to accept whatever result they produce, even if it proves my premise wrong.

The Watties are criticising the paper for being published in the first issue of a new journal of no known provenance, “Geoinformatics & Geostatistics: An Overview”. And I agree to this extent: BEST would not have published there, had they been able to publish in, say, JGR. Just like no-one publishes in E&E until everyone else has rejected them. But I disagree with the reasoning: the work, I think, is perfectly valid. As I said before. But just as I said before, it isn’t really all that exciting: its really just a new method for constructing a global time series, which agrees with the previous ones. Even if it turns out to be a really good idea, its still only a method, not a scientific result. That is why they’ve had a hard time getting it published. This is a bit of a problem for geophysics-types, and there’s an EGU journal devoted to this problem for GCM code, GMD, featuring several of our usual suspects. That exists because developing GCM code, too, is just a method and not generally publishable in the normal journals.

One possible “new result” is the extension of the temperature record back to 1750. What is striking about the early record is the massive oscillations with a period of about 50 years, that completely disappear from the record after about 1910. Is that plausible? Maybe: they claim to see a volcanic signature in these events. But they have no explanation for the large positive excursion in ~1770 (aside: this may be why they had trouble getting into a “real” journal: they say stuff like Most dramatic are the large swings in the earliest period. These dips can be explained as… but they don’t mention the peaks, which can’t be). Another possibility is that these are an artefact of the poor geographical coverage of the early record. Exactly when to start the record isn’t clear, but other centers use 1850-to-1880.

The other thing they do (inextricably tied up with the above) is fitting volcanoes+CO2 to the temperature record. This gives them a climate sensitivity (f 3.1 ± 0.3°C, since you ask) and although they say this parameterization is based on an extremely simple linear combination, using only CO2 and no other anthropogenic factors and considering only land temperature changes. As such, we don’t believe it can be used as an explicit constraint on climate sensitivity other than to acknowledge that the rate of warming we observe is broadly consistent with the IPCC estimates of 2-4.5°C warming (for land plus oceans) at doubled CO2 this effective endorsement of IPCC does force the Watties to revile BEST from now on. Previously, I called this stuff “absurdly naive” which on reflection I’d tone down to “naive” but I still think they’d have had a hard time getting it through JGR et al..

I wrote this last night, but didn’t save it: While writing this my trawling threw up the odd silence over AW’s own draft paper, ludicrously called “game changing by RP Sr.. Well, in a sense the game has changed: RP Sr is now out of the blogging business.

Update: JA is even less impressed than me: Previously submitted to JGR, it has ended up…as the first article in a newly-created fake vanity press “journal”. That’s a few rungs down from just sticking it on the Arxiv, where (1) it is free (2) at least some people will read it (3) no-one will think you are pretending it’s undergone any meaningful peer review. No wonder Curry has pulled her name from it. The surprise is that the others have not.

Noting that, and some of my commenters, I think I should revise my suggestion that it was hard to publish as a “methodological” paper. Perhaps more plausible is that it was hard to get into JGR as such, and the “attribution” element wasn’t liked. So perhaps Muller lacked patience to try a lower-ranked journal, threw a wobbly and said “just get me this thing published somewhere where the refs won’t be too pesky”. Ter be ‘onest wiv yer guv, its hard to understand.

Steven Mosher is over at Curry’s defending BEST (well, its his post over there, not hers). So we have stuff like:

Kip Hansen> So tell us all please — Why was this paper published in this shockingly obscure, brand-new journal? Was it actually Peer-Reviewed (notice the initial caps please) — was it really sent out in its entirety to at least three world-class respected experts in the necessary fields, let’s say climate and statistics and computer modelling for instance, and thoroughly vetted, revised, etc before publication? Or was it reviewed by a single editor? and if so, whom?

Steven Mosher>

1. Why was it published? The editor and the reviewers thought it was important work and good work.
2. Was it Peer Reviewed. Yes. There were three reviewers. I read the reviews and then checked our final draft to make sure that we addressed the points that we thought needed to be addressed.
3. Was it sent out in it’s entirety? Yes. I prepared the final draft.
4. Was it sent to 3 world class experts in climate and stats? The reviewers identities are not revealed so that I can only infer from their comments. They understood what we were doing and made helpful suggestions. This was in contrast to previous reviewer comments at other journals who seemed to struggle with kriging, so a geostats journal seemed the better fit.

I can assure you from personal first hand knowledge that “Muller didn’t even know about the journal until it was presented as an option.”

So what you’re seeing there is SM not-very-subtly dodging the “Why was this paper published in this shockingly obscure, brand-new journal?” However, when pressed again he finally answers:

1. prestige didn’t matter to guys who have nobel prizes already.
2. history? we enjoyed the idea of setting a standard. being first was an honor.
3. Recognition? only seems to matter to skeptics who argued that peer review wasnt important anyway.

Basically, we liked the idea of being judged on the quality of the science by people not tainted by the kind of nonsense we have seen in other places.

These are not believable answers. There’s a thoughtful comment by Jim D

The failure to get the BEST paper published in a climate science journal goes against the skeptical view that pro-AGW papers always get published because of inside deals. It is not that simple. This speaks well of the filtering process in those journals and against bias.

Although the follow-up pointing out that Muller has pissed off the world is reasonable too.


* Yellow journalism
* Scary and funny: fake researcher Peter Uhnemann on OMICS group Editorial Board #JournalSPAM

Shocker: solar physicists interested in solar physics

Um. sorry folks, don’t blame me, blame Eli. ’twas the now-aged lagomorph who attempted to interest me in the good old days of sci.env when we were all young and bushy-tailed. And indeed that thread does make for interesting reading: the present-day switch to blogs doesn’t encourage that style of discussion any more.

Anyway, what prompted this post (is this incestuous enough for you yet?) was TB’s witty rejoinder that “Clearly Eli hasn’t kept up with recent developments in the literature at JASTP, Elsevier and elsewhere. Well, what fun, I could but follow, and discover that

My thanks to Nicola Scafetta for pointing out this page of the most downloaded articles at science publishing house Elsevier’s title ‘Journal of Atmospheric and Solar Terrestrial Physics. Our Solar-Planetary Theory is gaining traction. It asserts that the Sun is a more significant climate driver than human emitted trace gases and aerosols and…

…so on. You get the idea. But JASTP is for the solar folk. Mostly, I think, for the respectable ones; but even they are hard-pressed not to try to make their stuff “relevant” to GW, no matter how hard that is. You can read the JASTP statement-of-purpose and it is

The Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics is an international journal concerned with the inter-disciplinary science of the Sun-Earth connection, defined very broadly.

So given that the whole purpose of the journal is sun-earth connections its not terribly surprising that’s what the papers are about.

And to all you who say, correctly, stop wasting time on shooting fish-in-a-barrel I say Yes, you’re right, and I’m about to read More about Fears of Climate Change.

Saturday morning breakfast cereal editon

Popcorn time again, it seems. Starting at the end, Anthony Watts is “threatening” to sue Greg Laden. Although from that, its hard to see why. Going back to the bottom, GL originally took the piss out of AW for believing in sky fairies. Phil Plait (“No, Diatoms Have Not Been Found in a Meteorite”) patiently points out why these particular fairies are unreal; PZ Myers is rather less patient, and appears to call AW a crackpot. GL doesn’t seem terribly worried by AW, which seems reasonable.

What exactly is AW complaining about? He says:

I spent yesterday conferring with lawyers about the smear that Greg Laden made against me (see here)

That post picks out “Anthony Watts, the anti-science global warming denailist, was not equipped to recognize this bogus science as bogus. We are not surprised.” to quote, so I suppose that must be the bit that AW thinks is actionable. I’m no lawyer, but I’d be doubtful that would stand up. Plenty of people have said as bad, or worse. I’m pretty sure you could find much the same from AW about, say, Mann (aside: when Mann sued… whoever it was, AW thought that was a terrible idea, in principle as I recall). Comment threads on WUWT (which are moderated, remember) host far worse. And since AW reproduced it on his blog, it can’t be that terrible (does re-publishing things you claim to be libel reduce the chance of suing for them? I dunno).

But then again, that might not be what he is complaining about. He may be complaining that he’s miffed GL said that AW believed in sky fairies. That sounds even weaker.

Eli is suggesting that AW just grow up.

Other sue-related stuff

* Sue the Bastards! says John Mashey Farley to Mann, over two writers and the CEI (more).

[Image ripped off of vvattsupwiththat]

Update: “regarded it as interesting and worthy of reporting”

In the comments we have a brave visitor from the Dark Side, who suggests that

anthony watts stated that he did not regard the story as fact ,but regarded it as interesting and worthy of reporting

(the Dark Side are short of capitals, it appears). He’s wrong: it wasn’t worthy of reporting, and it wasn’t interesting (as science; as an example of how easy it is too fool the ignorant it was moderately interesting).

But this, I think, is a perhaps under-appreciated difference between people who actually want to understand how the world works, and those whose primary aim is to sow FUD. Its not easy, from the outside, to see the distinction between “lets not be narrow minded, lets look at all ideas” and “lets throw out chaff so no-one has a clue what’s going on”. The second fits the denialist ideal perfectly: there’s no real interest in understanding the world (at least, in terms of its physical climatology), because they are all too aware of where that leads: to the std.IPCC result. And if they keep on pushing stories of scientist-X-says-thing-Y, which later turns out to be trash: well, that’s no problem for them, because it just fosters the incorrect idea that we don’t know what’s going on in the world.

Science isn’t about following down every last lead. A major component of it is winnowing out chaff. Which is part of the service that peer-reviewed journals provide. And which Journal of Cosmology does not.

Update: the basis?

Well b*gg*r me down dead with a bargepole. There’s actually an intelligent comment at WUWW! Pointing out the bleedin’ obvious, that the first amendment is a powerful obstacle to suing for libel in the US-of-A. In response, AW insists that the main basis is “false light”. I know nothing about this, obviously, but [[false light]] doesn’t look hopeful to AW to me: False light privacy claims often arise under the same facts as defamation cases… false light cases are about damage to a person’s personal feelings or dignity, whereas defamation is about damage to a person’s reputation -W]

Update: the result. Err, not quite yet

So we now have:

January 21, 2013 at 8:03 am. Thanks to everyone for all of the helpful input and responding to the poll. Using these, I’ve made my decision. Comments are now closed as well as the poll. – Anthony

This is pathetic. We all know what the result will be – he’s not suing. But he wants to spin it out just a leedle bit more in the hope of – what? Dunno. I suppose he’s going to have to find a form of words that makes a climb-down look like the moral high ground.

You couldn’t make this stuff up

Conservapedia, as any fule kno, is The Trustworthy Encyclopedia. On matters of politics or “difficult” science like dinosaurs, perhaps one might expect a slight divergence from reality. But on well understood matters like relativity? All will be well, Shirley. But someone posted their E=mc2 article as a screenshot to facebook, so I checked up, and lo! It is true: they really are utterly nutso. We all knew that anyway really, so this is just for fun (if you want details, it looks like rationalwiki is useful). Quoting:

E=mc² is Einstein’s famous formula which asserts that the energy (E) which makes up the matter in any body is equal to the square of the speed of light (c²) times the mass (m) of that body.[1] It is a statement that purports to relate all matter to energy. In fact, no theory has successfully unified the laws governing mass (i.e., gravity) with the laws governing light (i.e., electromagnetism), and numerous attempts to derive E=mc² in general from first principles have failed. Political pressure, however, has since made it impossible for anyone pursuing an academic career in science to even question the validity of this nonsensical equation. Simply put, E=mc² is liberal claptrap. Biblical Scientific Foreknowledge predicts that a unified theory of all the laws of physics is impossible, because light and matter were created at different times, in different ways, as described in the Book of Genesis.

“Supermr34” made a small attempt to tidy it up, but was swiftly reverted. “Walterinternet” tried just pasting in the wiki version (and implausibly claiming this was OK because he’d written it) but (a) that got reverted and (b) he was using wiki-templates that conservapedia doesn’t even have, so it was an utter mess. Eventually he gave up and just wrote “CONSERVAPEDIA IS GAY” which may well have been the best solution. As I write this, they’re back to the “Simply put, E=mc² is liberal claptrap” version.

The “scientific foreknowledge” page is great, too:

Quantum Mechanics: Observation of the Wave Function: The second chapter of the Gospel of John describes the conversion of water into wine by Jesus at a wedding reception. John 2:9 states: “When the host of the wedding feast tasted the water, it had been made into wine.” This passage implies that the drink was not wine until it had been tasted, or observed. Possibly, the drink was a superposition of the state of wine and the state of water until it was observed as wine.

Funding and politics hobble CCS technology, seen as the best hope for cleaning up coal?

Or so says Richard Van Noorden, in Nurture.

But that’s not right. What hobbles CCS is that its uneconomic: so why would you do it?

I’m being a bit unfair: at least according to the article, CCS would be economic at the same subsidy cost as feed-in tariffs for wind and solar. But the great thing about solar, for example, is that it becomes economic at the individual-roof scale with current subsidy. No planning permission, quick and simple installation, buildable in small chunks, individual voters see a profit (and the others who haven’t got it and don’t see a profit because they’re funding it don’t really see their economic loss). Far more appealing that spending countless millions on a CCS plant that probably wouldn’t work :-).

Apparently, CCS was supposed to get its subsidy from the carbon trading scheme. But now its stuffed, because the price has collapsed. This tells you one of two things: either the scheme was stupid in the first place (my opinion). Or that the scheme has been successful: we’ve decided how much CO2 to emit (number of permits) and the permit price being low is a sign that its not hard to get down to that kind of level, so we don’t need to do expensive things like CCS. If that sounds familiar, its because I’ve said it before.

Perhaps we could encourage fracking, instead?


* Time for carbon taxes?
* Changes in Arctic sea ice result in increasing light transmittance and absorption

On happiness

569px-Thomas_Hobbes_(portrait) James Hansen says:

I was lucky to grow up in the era of rapidly rising expectations and opportunities. I was born on a small farm, the son of an itinerant tenant farmer. None of the farms that my five sisters and I lived on had electricity. Daylight was extended by kerosene lamps. I barely remember the use of kerosene lamps, because, when I was four years old, we moved a small house to the outskirts of town and by the time my brother was born, when I was 5 years old, we had electricity.

And so on. Which is, at first sight, weird: he claims to have been lucky to grow up in an era so primitive that they were using kerosene lamps. Why isn’t he bemoaning how unlucky he was compared to someone growing up today, where the standard of living is so much higher?

Because, as Hobbes says:

Seeing all delight is appetite, and appetite presupposes a farther end, there can be no contentment but in proceeding: and therefore we are not to marvel, when we see, that as men attain to more riches, honors, or other power; so their appetite continually grows more and more; and when they are come to the utmost degree of one kind of power, they pursue some other, as long as in any kind they think themselves behind any other. Of those therefore that have attained to the highest degree of honor and riches, some have affected mastery in some art; as Nero in music and poetry, Commodus in the art of a gladiator. And such as affect not some such thing, must find diversion and recreation of their thoughts in the contention either of play, or business. And men justly complain as of a great grief, that they know not what to do. FELICITY, therefore (by which we mean continual delight), consists not in having prospered, but in prospering.

The alternative “because” is “because Hansen isn’t thinking very clearly”. Which can’t possibly be right, obviously. That’s from The Elements of Law Natural and Politic not Leviathan, BTW.


* ELO – Mr Blue Sky

Its all about me

P points me at “Wikipedia knowledge: air-forger Connolley: The man who rewrote our worldview” and so on [cite]. Not even original there; earlier at here]. I’m reading it via google translate, of course. Its mostly a re-hash of the Solomon nonsense which I discussed in A child’s garden of wikipedia, part I. Obviously, the bit about me is the interesting bit, but they also whinge on about…

After a short pseudo-debate is from Wikipedia EIKE even on the blacklist has been set

This is the bit I’ll tell you about, as part of your continuing education in the odd corners of wiki.

EIKE themselves seem to be trivia (I’ve never heard of them, neither has the English wikipedia. A friend calls them a “local version of the Cooler Heads Coalition, i.e. a group of blockheaded non-scientists with a strong political agenda”). But what they are complaining about is that they’ve been put onto the Spam blacklist. This is, as it says, a control mechanism that prevents an external link from being added to an … Wikipedia page when the URL matches one listed. There is a global one, across all wikipedia projects, and a per-project one (so being added to the German one doesn’t block you from using links on the English one).

I can’t read the discussion, and google refuses to translate it for me (Eli provides a helpful translation), but my source tells me that (somewhat humiliatingly) they weren’t blocked for being actively harmful, just for being useless. This illustrates a difference between the English wiki and the German one (and arguably between the countries as a whole): de is better at keeping out junk, because they are more discriminating in their judgements.

If you look at the discussion page for additions on en you can see the kind of thing its used for. Sometimes, its easier to just blacklist the additions than it is to block the anon’s who are doing the spamming.


* Werner Aeschbach-Hertig looks at EIKE.