Climate inaction to be ‘catastrophe’

Or so says Auntie, reporting well-known climatologist John Kerry. beeb1 In fact, I have a guilty secret that I will share with you: I faked this screenshot. But only a bit. Here’s the original. My monkey, whilst faked in, is every bit as valid as their monkey. Its from the Rare Animals feed on facebook, which I recommend.

I have another secret I’ll share with you: I haven’t read the report. Not only that, I haven’t really read other people reading the report. But what I was interested in, at least somewhat, was the general tenor of reactions. So the Beeb has Viewpoints: Reactions to UN climate impacts report with reactions by Corinne Le Quere, Connie Hedegaard, EU Commissioner for Climate Action, John Kerry, Nicholas Stern, Prof Sir Andy Haines, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Rachel Warren, Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia, Ed Davey, Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Sir Mark Walport, the Government’s chief scientific adviser, Caroline Flint, Labour’s Shadow Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Al Gore, Prof Sam Fankhauser, contributing author to the UN’s climate report (AR5) and co-director of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, Andy Atkins, Friends of the Earth executive director. Can you guess what they thought of the report? Oh go on, have a guess. Yes, you’re right, they loved it, to a man and woman. OK, I shouldn’t take the piss. The interesting point is that there’s not a shred of false balance there: no token denialist was thrown in (one in the eye for you, Victor ;-).

RC has a not-very-interesting but neutral post that just points you to the thing. Sou has some reactions. Phil Plait also posts, but makes the mistake of asserting that Food production rates are already getting lower, with crop yields dropping. They aren’t. See here for example. As says:

The three primary factors that affected recent increases in world crop production are (FAO, 2003; 2006):

Increased cropland and rangeland area (15% contribution in 1961–1999);
Increased yield per unit area (78% contribution); and
Greater cropping intensity (7% percent contribution).

Perhaps PP means “the contribution of climate change to food production rate is negative”. Who knows? Meanwhile, there is some evidence that Eli has actually read it, credit to him (also credit for his helpful flowchart).

Ed Davey, Energy and Climate Change Secretary

I think its instructive to quote our E&CC Sec in full:

We do have to act. I see the expenditures we’re having to make as an insurance policy, if you like. By paying a small premium now we deal with the risks so we prevent catastrophic climate change.

We have doubled the amount of renewable electricity in the last three years so we are making progress. We have to make an awful lot more. But part of our role is to lead across the world and we’ve got people across the world working with other governments. And I’ve seen signs at the UN climate talks that I go to of change in China and the United States. I think it’s important that Britain continue to work with our European partners because I think there is a chance now that the world can make the deal it has so far failed to do.

There’s an awful lot of things that if we act now and reduce our carbon emissions we can prevent it from getting worse.

(my bold). Notice how he is pushing the “small” premium now idea. Small is, to some extent, in the eye of the beholder. But that does look to me like a don’t-frighten-the-horses sort of quote. As regular readers know, I’d go for a “small” premium now, in the form of a carbon tax of perhaps £40 tonne (don’t hold me to the exact number, I made it up). But instead we have the stupid ETS and not really sensible subsidies to renewables. Lets hope we don’t lead with that across the world.

Crop yields

Well, this isn’t my area of expertise, so I’m open to instruction. Looking at the Graun they headline with “Climate change a threat to security, food and humankind – IPCC report. Warming is leading to more volatile weather patterns that are already reducing crop yields, the IPCC has warned”. And continues The report said climate change had already cut into the global food supply. Global crop yields were beginning to decline – especially for wheat. However, quoting Michael Oppenheimer they say …already climate change is slowing those yields which is somewhat different. Somewhat lower down they belatedly quote from the report itself: Negative impacts of climate change on crop yields have been more common than positive impacts. Which is likely true, but doesn’t mean that crop yields are actually decreasing.


* Cosmos is a bit rubbish
* Similar estimates of temperature impacts on global wheat yield by three independent methods – Liu et al., Nature 2016, doi:10.1038/nclimate3115

Two unprecedented things occurring at the same time must be related as cause and effect

bang From QJRMS (paywalled), in which the Director & the Chief Computer of the British Rainfall Organization discussed the then-recent wet winter of 1914-5:

The year 1903 saw the general adoption of wireless telegraphy, and an anxious public seized upon this as the cause of the great rainfall of that year. But the fact that 1872 and 1853 were equally wet, if not wetter, without the aid of Hertzien waves, and that no year since 1903 has been nearly so wet in spite of the enormous increase of radio-telegraphy, shows the fallacy of the inference

An explanation which has been most readily accepted by the general public, and has even found favour among a few meteorologists, is that the heavy artillery firing in France and in Flanders is the primary cause of the unusual wetness of the past winter. There are several lines of argument. The crudest is that the water vapour formed by the combustion of cordite or other explosive is sufficient in quantity to affect the rainfall appreciably, but a moment’s consideration of the staggering weight of water in even a moderate shower over a small area disposes of this absurdity. A more reasonable argument is that it is the concussion caused by high explosives which determines the precipitation of rain from supersaturated air. Here again the difficulty arises that if concussion is the cause, precipitation must occur immediately and presumably over the area within sound of the explosions. That at least is the principle on which people who try to induce public bodies to cannonade for rain have always gone. The dryness of September, October, March, and April, however, are difficult to explain on this hypothesis.

The real argument which seems to have weight with the type of mind which must have an immediate cause for any remarkable occurrence is that the rainfall of last winter was unprecedented, that the consumption of explosives in Western Europe was simultaneous and also unprecedented, and that two unprecedented things occurring at the same time must be related as cause and effect. Apart from the disparity of magnitude of the two sets of unprecedented phenomena, the fact that nearly equally wet periods occurred 3 and 38 years ago without any unusual consumption of explosives shows that such an explanation is not necessary to account for phenomena which can occur, and have occurred, in its absence.

It seems to us that the phenomena of long-continued wet spells in parts of the British Isles must be related, not to phenomena of the order of magnitude that comes within the range of human power, but to world-wide relationships, which increase the number or modify the course of the air-currents and atmospheric depressions of the North Atlantic; and it appears more hopeful to look for an explanation to these atmospheric surgings, which appear to give rise to oscillations between the pressure distribution in the northern and southern hemispheres, and which may possibly be associated with extra-terrestrial changes.

Investors warn of ‘carbon bubble’ as Shell predicts climate regulation will hit profits?

Carbon bubble, it am all de rage. The latest is from Blue and Green Tomorrow. Who say:

Oil giant Royal Dutch Shell has warned that its profits are likely to be affected by international efforts to curb climate change, as campaigners say investors should steer clear of fossil fuel stocks. In its annual and strategic report for 2013, Shell says that increasing concern over climate change will lead to new regulations that will hit the company’s production profitability and delay some of its projects.

Well if even Shell are saying that, it must be true, no? It would be if they were, but they aren’t quite saying that, so it isn’t. This isn’t new; we had it last year and Brian was pushing it, weakly a few weeks ago.

So first off, if this was actually true then “investors” would not need to be listening to the advice of “campaigners” because the investors would know already. But I said that last time, its the bleedin’ obvious, if you didn’t believe me then you won’t now. Lets instead read what Shell have to say. Here’s the report. Its quite big, 50-odd pages, and the mentions of Climate are few; its not a major issue for them. The first occurs in:


I’d outline the word “climate change” for you but (a) it would be tedious and (b) doubtless having to search it out is instructive. You take the point, I hope: Climate Change is but one of a host of risks that they are legally obliged to list and consider. As yet, there’s no consideration of the seriousness. The first detailed mention is:


Does this justify the “Shell predicts climate regulation will hit profits” of the headline? No. Its more vague and more nuanced, and doesn’t carry the immeadiate investment timescale. Later on, there’s a whoole page’s worth (p 50 / p 51) but it reads much the same to me. There’s a nod to CCS, with a ~2050 timescale, sourced to IEA.


* He’s a bit late to the party, but Timmy chimes in with much the same, albeit from Exxon.
* Schumpeter: A green light: Companies are starting to open up about their environmental risks. They need to do more, from the Economist.

Pattern Recognition in Physics: its back! Sort of


There’s an editorial which at the end notes The journal will initially be run on private founding, later to be transformed to a permanent publishing house. Or, put another way, currently its a blog, but if they can fool anyone into taking it on, they will.

The editorial also announces the happy re-opening of the journal under a new management. New management? Well the new editorial board is here, and the old (via wayback machine) is here. The new board is definitely slimmed down. Its:

Editor In Chief: - Sid-Ali OUADFEUL
Co-Editor In Chief:- Nils-Axel MORNER

Editorial Board:
-Tsehaie WOLDAI
-Nicolas YOUNAN
-Nils-Axel MORNER
-Nicola SCAFETTA   [NEW]
-Hans JELBRING     [NEW]
-Michele NAPPI
-Francesco Isgrò

The old one was:

Sid-AliOUADFEUL (Editor in Chief)
Nils-AxelMörner (Co-Editor in Chief)


- LeilaAliouane
* GordonCooper
* MariaDe Marsico
* ReikDonner
* WilliFreeden
- NistorGrozavu
- FrancescoIsgrò
* Rudolph A.Lorentz
* SimoneMarinai
- Nils-AxelMörner
- MicheleNappi
* LionelPrevost
* DanielRiccio
* FriedhelmSchwenker
* StevenTanimoto
- TsehaieWoldai
- NicolasYounan

The ten ones marked with a “*” have had the good sense to drop out of the new journal. The NEW editors for the relaunched journal are Jelbring and Scafetta. Mmmmm, that really fills one with confidence that this isn’t a journal is “skeptics” for “skeptics”, no?

No sign of Monkers, though.

[Update: popcorn at wikipedia. The article [[Pattern Recognition in Physics]] has seen quite a bit of edit warring recently, with one “Intuitive2000” ending up blocked, in a rather traditional “I’m right, so the 3RR rule doesn’t apply to me” sort of way.

But that leads to a user called Ouadfeul who has few contributions, all of which amount to deleting stuff he didn’t like from the PRP article and replacing it with shite.]


* Ship of fools

Rowing, and some other stuff

I have far too many “interesting” things queued up in feedly, so its time for a dump.

Controversial paper linking conspiracy ideation to climate change skepticism formally retracted. mt is fiercer: Journal’s Mealy-Mouthed Retraction of Lewandowsky Paper. I wasn’t terribly keen on the paper myself, though I avoided commenting, but I agree with SL’s “the article is fine but Frontiers does not want to take the legal risk” and that this is rubbish on Frontiers’ part. See-also Sou.

[Update: the shows goes on: Climate of intimidation: “Frontiers” blunder on “Recursive Fury”: Ugo Bardi resigns from the journal (h/t mt); shades of von S].

Timmy offers his libertarian view of the Crimea; which is more really about bashing the pols here. Nonetheless, I largely agree with what he’s saying; that will fold into the Great Crimea Post, which at this rate will not arrive until everything is safely over.

Eli draws our attention to Arctic sea ice. At the moment its close to the 2000’s average but that’s not particularly illuminating, since 2012 was even higher at this point.

You might – but quite possibly you might not – want to watch this video of us rowing. Best in HD, and at 1/4 speed. For the first time, we put the GoPro onto a tripod behind the cox, allowing is to see rather more of what is going on. Yes, I know I’m looking down; I’ve tried sitting up straight but it feels weird; I like to watch my hands. This is our tideway crew, and you need not point out the obvious flaws. If you prefer something more exciting, try this. Actually if you want something more exciting then try the 2000 pairs final – watch those crazy frogs go. Almost falling in afterwards gets them extra points.

ATTP weighs into the Criminally negligent? question. Pfft. This reminds me of Kerching! This stuff has no real value; though it can raise your profile (I’m talking of the original, not ATTP, of course). If you want something more coherent, DO’s first comment there is it. How does that turn into 471 comments? Other than it being one of those great issues where everyone can have an opinion. Speaking of which, Screaming Lord M has an opinion too, who could have guessed?

Various people have pointed out that Mann vs Steyn is descending into farce, as Steyn demonstrates ever more clearly his incompetence. Eli. Barry B. Mind you, the Watties are still whistling in the wind: Watts is like Steyn countersues Mann for 10 millon dollars and the crowd are all like “hey wow, that must mean he’s winning”. Its an interesting illustration of the basic inability of the two “sides” to agree on anything. Presumably the wavefunction will collapse at some point when the case actually gets heard, but that could be a way off. Speculation: this is already a success for Mann, in that it will make anyone vaguely sane hesitate to go down the Steyn route to insanity.

Retraction Watch, which I read and like, is touting for money: “Dear Retraction Watch readers: We want to grow. Here’s how you can help”. I mention that so you can donate if you want to, though I confess that I haven’t myself, as yet. I do have a letter signed by Ralph Keeling thanking me for my donation to the Keeling Curve fund, though. They also have Fight against false copyright claims goes to Capitol Hill which is a worthy battle.

Lots of people don’t think much of USA politics; TPP is one. But that’s a separate post.

Since I’m interested in such stuff, I liked the The Renaissance Mathematicus (actually a guest post, but never mind) on Bruno in Cosmos.

Quick misc:

* Sawyer’s “remarkably accurate” forecast by JA.
* McPherson’s Evidence That Doom Doom Doom by mt.
* Heritage’s Freedom To Read™ program by Spocko.
* Keith vs Nafeez again by mt. mt prefers Keith; so do I. There’s more.

RP Jr to world: come on if you think you’re hard enough

DSC_3319 There’s a fair section of the – errm – normally-sane-side-of-the-climate-wars blogosphere that regards RP Jr as the spawn of the devil. Eli weighs in complaining about Nate Silver of 538 getting RP to write for him (Eli has form, dontchaknow). Now I’d be the first to agree that RP has said some silly things , and some disastrously silly things on trends. But that’s him playing away.

On his home turf, RP is very strong. Because he has a simple message based on good data. As I said in 2011 over SREX, “As usual, Pielke wipes the floor with Romm”; see-also another relevant article from 2009.

So while Eli heavily quotes Ryan Cooper not liking Pielke, what’s painfully absent in Eli’s piece, or in Ryan Cooper’s piece, is the slightest attempt to address what Pielke is saying. Indeed, so deeply do they dislike it that they can’t even bring themselves to link to Disasters Cost More Than Ever — But Not Because of Climate Change. Its not a very exciting piece, if you’ve read that stuff before, because its just the same data all over again. Looks pretty convincing to me, just as it did before.

Kiley Kroh at ThinkProgress also totally fails to engage with what RP is saying, instead relying on his previous errors, as though that somehow affects the validity of what he’s saying now (note that piece quotes Mialambre, pointing out some of RP’s errors with trends, which I mention above). All this stuff has a terrible echo-chamber mentality that I’m more used to seeing from the denialosphere. Daniel Kessler in the HuffPo links to the KK article above, saying Roger Pielke, Jr… posting a blog Tuesday on the site that claims there is no link between the rising costs of climate disasters and extreme weather fueled by climate change.Several noted climate scientists took Silver and Pielke to task for this serious error. But they don’t. KK’s experts aren’t addressing this claim at all. KK’s article is vacuous.

Emily Atkin’s article is better, because it does at least address RP’s article.

Pielke’s piece is deeply misleading… said Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University. “Pielke uses a very misleading normalization procedure that likely serves to remove the very climate change-related damage signal that he claims to not be able to find. Pielke, in this case, continues to use an extremely controversial ‘normalization’ procedure when analyzing these data… That procedure assumes that damages increase with population but it completely ignores technological innovations (sturdier buildings, hurricane-resistant structures, better weather forecasting, etc.) that have served to reduce societal vulnerability, thus likely masking some of the aggravating impacts of climate change.

I don’t really understand that, but I’m presenting it to you for balance. RP presents two pix, one of which is the dollar cost of losses, the other the cost as a proportion of global GDP. How That procedure assumes that damages increase with population is relevant to that is beyond me. If you scroll to the bottom of the article you’ll find RP responding, as you’d expect, with links to his papers on the subject. Oddly enough, those criticising him don’t seem to have any papers on the subject they want linked to (Trenberth has a book review but its paywalled).

[Update: I mistakenly linked to the wrong RP – such a schoolboy howler – but I’ve struck that out now (and just to be clear, the “disastrously silly” text travels with the idea, not the link, so does not apply to the RP Sr post. I still think its wrong, mind). The episode I meant was this, by JA which links to me, if you want to continue the trawling.]

[Update 2014/03/23: there’s a particularly crap article at the Daily Kos on this: By hiring a climate disinformer, Nate Silver undermines his entire premise of data-driven journalism. Which sez How ironic, then, that with over 97 percent of the 11,944 peer-reviewed studies of “global climate change” or “global warming” between 1991-2011 endorsing the consensus on anthropogenic global warming [blah blah etc…] Silver would hire as one of his science writers the egregious purveyor of disinformation on climate change, Roger Pielke, Jr. This is crap because RP doesn’t dispute the WG I consensus at all. He agrees with it. For example, which begins Roger Pielke Jr., a climate policy analyst, has a new book out called The Climate Fix in which he argues several points: 1) Science has sufficiently made the case that climate change is a significant threat that requires action…. This is part of a pattern: a denial-o-sphere worthy “hate” on RP that ignores facts and is either deliberately, or just ignorantly, misleading.]

[Late update: I was expecting something in reply to the crit of 538 from Pielke; it looks like there won’t be anything. Indeed, in this piece at KK’s Pielke says, errm, “I no longer write for 538. Last month, after 538 showed some reluctance in continuing to publish my work, I called up Mike Wilson, the lead editor there, and told him that it was probably best that we part ways”.


* Some News from RP Jr. AFAIK he hasn’t had much to say about the storm.
* Brian thinks Continuous plagiarism of James Annan needed
* Found incidentally whilst looking for something else: Martin Hoerling defends Pielke in general: “Much more balanced arguments can be found in R. Pielke Jr.’s work that consider changes in society, communities, coastal development, etc.”
* Mike Wallace: Weather and Climate Extreme Events: Teachable Moments
* More on Extreme Weather in a Warming Climate by Andy Revkin
* FiveThirtyEight to Commission Response to Disputed Climate Article
* The Decline of Tornado Devastation (RP, WSJ) and Compare and Contrast from Eli.

New blog!

DSC_3306 I’m trying an experiment, which may be simpler for me, and perhaps more amusing too.

Rather than pushing things off into the burrow, I’m going to try putting such comments in a new specially-created blog

It will contain… well, we’ll see. Some real spam, some stuff where people just won’t stop trying to have the last word, whatever. We’ll see. As you’d expect, the worthy first recipient of this honour is Doug Cotton.

Cambridge half; and misc

cambridge-half-2014 Today was the anniversary of my glorious 1:36 in the Cambridge Half Marathon. Today, alas, I only managed 1:41 so at that rate Jules will be steaming past me before many more years have passed. I remain fairly confident of out-erging her over the distance though. Here I am with other folk from our rowing club that were running. You’ll notice that most of them are female. Maggie in the background, if you were wondering. Onwards, to Brighton.

But other things are happening. You’ll have to wait just a little longer for my deeply valuable thoughts on the Ukraine crisis; this post is Misc.

Last night I spent quite a while broswing wiki and reminding myself about the different sorts of supernova and their causes. There’s a wonderful majesty and scope to the whole thing. CIP has a nice post on GHGs to the stars, on some speculations about first-generations stars having little “metals” and hence being less radiatively opaque. Fun.

Like many such posts, it has no comments. Which brings me on to DA’s plaint about not getting many comments (though he’s since cut it back). This is something that I intended to write a whole post about sometime, but I’m not sure I’ll get round to now. What gets comments, and what doesn’t, has precious little to do with intrinsic quality of the post. I’ve often thought that lower quality posts often get more comments, because there is something to say in reply. A perfectly formed posting that exhausts its subject is a joy to read, but not to reply to.

An earlier post at QS, Who is Patrick Moore?, probably deserves a wider readership for those who care about the political debate.

As does this one from which I’ve taken this image. People sometimes ask, “what proportion of warming is due to GHG’s”, and appear to expect an answer less than or equal to 100%; they generally can’t even begin to understand an answer greater than 100%.

JA is not very impressed with the “pause” or reactions to it. Which seems fair enough. See-also Breaking down the discrepancy between modeled and observed temperatures during the “hiatus” by Troy.

Oh, and finally: I’ve been making some attempts to sample the delights of on-line education available via the intertubes; it seemed a shame to ignore it all. I didn’t get very far with Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4°C Warmer World Must be Avoided on Coursera. I did a bit better with “An introduction to functional analysis” – I’d forgotten how breathtakingly beautiful and simple some of the basics are, like the abstract definition of a continuous function. But in the end, French from Duolingo seems to be getting on best.

Eric Wolff Speaks

The Royal Soc and NAS have produced Climate Change: Evidence & Causes. From the official doc we have: The atmosphere and oceans have warmed, accompanied by sea-level rise, a strong decline in Arctic sea ice, and other climate-related changes. EWW says this in his quick intro (go on, its only 1:20, watch it) but he adds “…but so far, they are relatively modest, but if we continue emitting carbon dioxide without any abatement, the effects will get really large by the end of the century… we present this report as the state of the science as it is, the basis on which people – governments – the world as a whole – to decide: whether to do anything, what to do, whether to reduce emissions or whether to let them happen and prepare for the consequences”.

I very much like this way of putting it, and its pretty well what I’d have said myself, particularly the last bit.

Browsing through the report – a sequence of Q&A’s – it covers most of the ground you’d expect in about the sequence you’d expect.

Are climate changes of a few degrees a cause for concern?

Asks Q 17. And the answer is:

Yes. Even though an increase of a few degrees in global average temperature does not sound like much, global average temperature during the last ice age was only about 4 to 5 °C (7 to 9 °F) colder than now. Global warming of just a few degrees will be associated with widespread changes in regional and local temperature and precipitation as well as with increases in some types of extreme weather events. These and other changes (such as sea level rise and storm surge) will have serious impacts on human societies and the natural world.

which seems fair. Will it, and the rest, convince the “skeptics”? No, of course not, because they aren’t open to argument, and because they likely won’t read it anyway. Or, to be slightly fairer to those “skeptics” who are capable of rationality (not a large constituency, so largely ignored by all sides): whilst it does cover some of the problems (“Why is Arctic sea ice decreasing while Antarctic sea ice is not?”) it only has the space to sketch in an answer, and it doesn’t refer you elsewhere for more details.

Will it be read by interested observers, government folk, school children, those wishing to be informed? Quite likely. For those for whom the full weight of IPCC AR5 is too scary and complex, this is a decent simplification of the main points.

ZOMG are we all going to die?

Yes, of course, we will all die eventually. But not of GW. Or, more seriously, Are disaster scenarios about tipping points like ‘turning off the Gulf Stream’ and release of methane from the Arctic a cause for concern? gets:

Results from the best available climate models do not predict abrupt changes in such systems (often referred to as tipping points) in the near future. However, as warming increases, the possibilities of major abrupt change cannot be ruled out… Such high-risk changes are considered unlikely in this century, but are by definition hard to predict. Scientists are therefore continuing to study the possibility of such tipping points beyond which we risk large and abrupt changes.

Further reading

Where I’d criticise the report is in the leading you on to further deeper reading. There’s a list of sources at the very end – what you’d expect, IPCC AR5 etc – but they aren’t really folded into individual sections, so anyone wanting to know more about any individual topic would then be faced with navigating AR5 for themselves, which is no easy task. They should have provided “further reading” and/or direct citations for each of the individual sections.

Oh, and I’ll also criticise the lighting in the video. Will W, where were you? The light from the lamp needs to spill over Eric’s face making him look like a kindly uncle, not on the wall leaving him in shadow like a ringwraith.