Sea level lies?

This one is a bit odd; via HotWhopper is the WUWT post Obama was right–‘the rise of the oceans began to slow’. This purports to show a graph of rate-of-SLR, and shows it declining. The graph has no clear source, the post says “h/t to Dr. Pat Michaels”. And down in the comments Michaels admits to it, so it must be his. However, it appears to be simply faked [*].

But weirdly, crudely faked [*]. All of this is at HW but: first of all the recent data showing that SLR isn’t declining, has been omitted. This is just std.denialist stuff. But then the graph has been smoothed or mangled in some unspecified way, presumably to remove noise, so it looks like a smooth decline. After a bit, Michaels shows up in the comments and says “I posted this for funsies” Its not clear what he means by this: that faking graphs and presenting them as though genuine is funny? [Its not clear what the original context of this is; maybe it made some sense in context. Anyone know where he first posted it? I tried to check this new-fangled “twitter” thing but it didn’t show up.] I don’t think he was deliberately spoofing WUWT and its band of unthink commentators – as you’d expect, the obvious idiots (James Padgett, etc.) all fell for it. But its too much even for the slightly-less-than-stupid WUWT folk: even they manage to notice that it doesn’t at all fit with the obvious publically available obs.

[Thanks to commentators: the source is That makes one thing quite clear: Michaels was lying when he said he posted it “for funsies”; that’s his std I’m-really-serious type stuff. It does however excuse the lack of 2012 data – he posted that in 2012. It doesn’t excuse WUWT picking up and running with out of date junk, though; nor does it explain just what Michaels did to end up with that particular plot. I see there is now an update at WUWT (which still doesn’t source the plot); everyone who has pointed out his errors is a “whiner” it seems. I think if you were being honest about this you’d just reproduce the chart, and perhaps note that its a short series because its from satellite, and if you want a longer series you need to look at tide gauges; I can’t see that Michaels “analysis” adds anything useful.]

[* Update: I think I have to be honest and correct myself here: it isn’t faked; the best analysis I’ve seen is by Bluegrue who reckons Michaels has got his values from regression, although Michaels values appear to be wrong.]

The bees are back

DSC_1959 My personal ones, that is. Around the start of April, on about the first sunny day of the year, I wandered down the garden to see the bees, who had been very very quiet. And when I saw none, I went closer, and tapped, and breathed into the entrance, and put my ear to the side, and heard nothing. So I took the top off, and found them dead, which was sad. As you see from the pic (and from this one) they hadn’t just disappeared – this was no colony-collapse-syndrome stuff – they’d just died in-place. I put it down to starvation – it was a long cold spring. I thought I’d left them enough stores, but everything was eaten out, apart from the crystallised rape honey which is no use.

So, I was sad. But now, they’re back. Total inaction wins again.

Here you see them frolicking about in the sunshine. About a week ago there were a fair number sniffing around the hive, but then they weren’t, and we had a week of downpours. And then three days of sun, and the bees returned, or they are a different lot who knows.


Someone else’s bees have swarmed, and they’ve decided my hive would be a splendid place to live. Of course, they’re right. Its a bit of a shame I didn’t get round to clearing out the bee corpses from inside, but I’m sure the bees themselves are quite capaable of doing that. It doesn’t look like there are many of them in that pic, but there are loads. Here are more.

Update: More bees vicar?

Last Sunday [2013/06/23] I was at the “cream teas on the village green” and someone said “there’s a swarm of bees in the churchyard”. And so there was. Unusually, on the ground, but only because it was so windy that the branch they were on had snapped off. So I went rowing, and came back at 7:30, and picked them up and dumped them in a box and took them home and put them in my #2 hive. They seem quite happy.

2013-06-23 16.20.00

Solving three [Rubik’s] cubes while juggling them

After this, it seems to me that the human race has realised its ultimate potential; no further progress is possible. We might as well all go back to bed.

Some things I see, I think: yes, you’re doing that very well. But I understand what you’re doing, and I could, if not do it myself – I could understand how to train to get there. Like running a marathon in not-much-more-than-2-hours. I’m never going to do that, and even if I trained I couldn’t, but I can roughly understand what’s going on. With this, I can’t even imagine my brain and hands working well enough to get anywhere close to this.

Bad Science

VV has a thoughtful post about the value of peer review, looked at mostly through the lens of a couple of recent poor papers. Peer review (or whatever system you choose for choosing which papers will see the light) has to balance weeding out dross with not suppressing the unusual but good. It is primarily intended to do this for scientists; its not so great at handling the recent (?) phenomenon of septics deliberately gaming journals in order to publish their drivel. But I think I care about that less than I used to. Probably the greatest problem it faces is the vast mass of publish-or-perish “meh” papers that are neither dross nor good, just mediocre. But until academics get judged by competent people based on quality not paper count, that won’t go away.

Sirocko et al.:Solar influence on winter severity in central Europe

Most of what you want to know about that is at Claim of solar influence is on thin ice: are 11-year cycle solar minima associated with severe winters in Europe? Although the idea itself isn’t totally wacky; Are cold winters in Europe associated with low solar activity? by Lockwood et al. comes to similar conclusions to Sirocko. Andy Extance (who he? I’m sure I know the name) doesn’t like it either.

[Update: Richard Telford; part of a series.]

GMO labelling

I liked KK channelling Ramez Naam on Why GMO Supporters Should Embrace Labels.

Climate and conflict

I’ve largely ignored this area. Perhaps What is the debate over climate and conflict about? is a good intro.

Climate sensitivity

Seems to becoming interesting again. JA has a post on a recent multi-author study that finds lower values that those from the good olde dayes when I paid attention. SS didn’t much like Lewis’s J. Clim. paper but those I’ve asked think it sane, and Lewis. Though it would be nice if he learnt not to associate too closely with the non-sane.

[Update: Da Plot Thickens. Such fun!


Pols in Dixie seem even more dysfunctional that anywhere else. BB senses some signs of hope in National Journal: The Coming GOP Civil War Over Climate Change; but from a very low base.


Last month’s thrill was Marcott et al.; but a question I alluded to briefly was: “is he notable”? The answer is No or in more detail:

2013-05-16T00:16:42 Legoktm (talk | contribs) deleted page Shaun Marcott (Expired PROD, concern was: he is only postdoc with a nature publication)

which seems fair enough.


Blacklight retribution, rowing, work and the garden all mean I’m fairly busy now.


* Political failure modes and the beige dictatorship. Its not quite right, but I struggle to say what I mean in that area.
* Don’t make fun of renowned Dan Brown.
* mt also likes VV and adds a couple of nice extra points.
* Agnotology: learning from mistakes – Benestad et al..

Syria: the West makes the usual mistake

I got wound up by this whilst reading news on my phone while sitting in a boring meeting. So I’ll vent here.

The usual scheme of things that we see so often is that bad things happen (the Assad regime in Syria); it goes on and on and people wring their hands, or ignore it, and anyway whilst bad the people are useful anti-commies or somesuch; and then it gets bad enough that the locals start revolting. At this point, its very much a “which way are you going to jump” issue for everyone in the country. Do they throw in their lot with a pile of untested rebels? Or do they sit on the fence quietly? Or do they take this as a chance to ingratiate themselves with the regime by demonstrating loyalty? If you’re such a person, what the international “community” is going to do matters a lot. If you expect the “community” to intervene actively on the side of Justice and Freedom, to vigourously hunt down war criminals and prosecute them and confiscate their assets, then you have a strong incentive to jump onto the rebel side. But if you expect the West to be a useless shower like usual you have an incentive to hang on in and loot the country for as long as possible, meanwhile doing your best to be as nasty as possible and polarise the fight in order to commit people onto your side, by making it impossible for them to live under a changed regime. After not very long it becomes clear that attempting to talk about regime change is a waste of time, and so the people on the rebel side that come to the forefront are those with the least to lose, those most deeply committed to violence – in short, we do our best to marginalise those who we’re pretending to favour. And pretty well inevitably this is a chance for the Al-Quaeda types to step in; at which point the idiots who argue for nothing but talks chirp up brightly with “see! We told you so! Violence just encourages Al Quaeda”. Whereas its really the do-nothing-but-talk people who are recruiting for Al Quaeda. And don’t get me started on the Russian govt, whose role in this is so utterly stinkingly amorally sadistic.

[Update: the NYT says that Syria is starting to break apart. The other classic mistake the West usually makes is to try to enforce territorial integrity of artificial borders. Iraq is a case in point – the obvious thing it to allow Kurdistan to break away. But that would make the Turks Really Very Sad. We shouldn’t listen to them -W]

[Further update, 2014/01/11: when I last looked, things were not looking rosy. And Syria has disappeared from the news, which suggests the long-drawn-out grinding to destruction continues. So I’ll add two further thoughts:

1. Hobbes says (somewhere, though this is from memory) that citizens are allowed to rebel, but only if they succeed. Or something like that. Which naturally you can’t know in advance. But the point is that civil war is such an evil that almost anything else is better. And also that the legitimacy of the Civil Sword depends on it being in power; if its not in power – if it doesn’t provide the protections that we gave up our freedoms for – then the obligation to submit vanishes. In a sense, its self-defining. I think, at this point, Hobbes would like say that his conditions were not met; that the good people of Syria should not have rebelled.

2. An opinion piece in a paper suggesting that the West made almost the opposite mistake to what I’m suggesting: that it encouraged the rebels with fake words promising fake help. And instead, it should have made clear that we’re useless. Though I would have thought experience would have said that much louder.]

[2015/07/11: The Economist agrees with me.]


* Boris in 2015
* The former president talked early and often about Syria, but wasted six years and countless lives with hand-wringing dithering – NYT from 2017.

Approaching the spampocalypse

I get an astonishing amount of comment-spam, nominally about dresses – wedding dresses, prom dresses, square dresses and how to fold them, and so on. None of it ever appears so I don’t know why they bother, but simply deleting it all from my email queue is becoming ever more tedious. So I’ve changed one setting – old posts are now closed for comments after 60 days instead of 360, in the hope that at least some will now bounce off.

Oh, and a corollary of all this is that I’m far less careful than I used to be about wading through “comment requires moderation” emails. If you’ve got one that’s stuck, mail me separately.


* Cashpoint morons warned to plan ahead

University of Qld/Skeptical Science survey of climate research

Well, I got this (some days ago; I got backlogged):

As one of the more highly trafficked climate blogs on the web, I’m seeking your assistance in conducting a crowd-sourced online survey of peer-reviewed climate research. I have compiled a database of around 12,000 papers listed in the ‘Web Of Science’ between 1991 to 2011 matching the topic ‘global warming’ or ‘global climate change’. I am now inviting readers from a diverse range of climate blogs to peruse the abstracts of these climate papers with the purpose of estimating the level of consensus in the literature regarding the proposition that humans are causing global warming. If you’re interested in having your readers participate in this survey, please post the following link to the survey:

The survey involves rating 10 randomly selected abstracts and is expected to take 15 minutes. Participants may sign up to receive the final results of the survey (de-individuated so no individual’s data will be published). No other personal information is required (and email is optional). Participants may elect to discontinue the survey at any point and results are only recorded if the survey is completed. Participant ratings are confidential and all data will be de-individuated in the final results so no individual ratings will be published.

The analysis is being conducted by the University of Queensland in collaboration with contributing authors of the website Skeptical Science. The research project is headed by John Cook, research fellow in climate communication for the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland.

I’m posting it here so anyone can see, though doubtless you’ve already seen it elsewhere. I’m dubious about the virtue of surveys to establish stuff though. In fact… why don’t I go off and do this one? <goes off… I’m back!> At the end, I got:

Of the 10 papers that you rated, your average rating was 3.2 (to put that number into context, 1 represents endorsement of AGW, 7 represents rejection of AGW and 4 represents no position). The average rating of the 10 papers by the authors of the papers was 3.1.

That wasn’t so hard, because 8/10 were “implicit endorsement” and 2 were “neutral” in my view.


* It’s true: 97% of research papers say climate change is happening – this or similar being published. I’ve lost track.
* David Appell doubts.
* So does KK but his last bit is wrong.