Did I ever tell you how exciting snails are?

DSC_4024 Did I ever tell you how exciting snails are? No, wait, don’t go away… Oh well. Now the rest of you have settled down, I’ll continue. My pic, incidentally, shows some Sphacterian snails I met in Greece this summer, which exhibited this odd clustering behaviour I’ve not seen before. But that’s nothing to do with this post.

I was reading the Times, as one does in Waitrose cafe when one can’t find the Torygraph, and came across an interesting article which is paywalled, so in revenge I won’t point you at it. Extinct snail re-discovered at Aldabra Atoll will do instead, and its rather more neutral, which is nice (re-reading: neutral? Maybe, but there’s definitely drivel in there, such as SIF CEO Dr Frauke Fleischer-Dogley said of the re-discovery, “Despite major global environmental threats like climate change, this discovery shows that investments into protecting unique island biodiversity are well-placed”. The substance is:

The Aldabra banded snail (Rhachistia aldabrae), declared extinct in 2007, has been re-discovered alive and well at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Aldabra Atoll, Seychelles. Before the discovery, the last living individual of the species, which only occurs on Aldabra, was recorded in 1997. Subsequent searches yielded only shell remains. The snail’s apparent demise was linked to declining rainfall on Aldabra and was widely publicised internationally as one of the first casualties of climate change impacts.

I’m a little dubious about The snail’s apparent demise was linked to declining rainfall on Aldabra and was widely publicised internationally cos I remember none of it, but it may be true[*]. It made Biol. Lett. 2007 Short-term climate change and the extinction of the snail Rhachistia aldabrae (Gastropoda: Pulmonata) as published by the Royal Society.

[*] Actually, lets examine this a bit more. Forbes (link below) who are no friends to GW say A 2012 article by Abigail Cahill and Matthew Aiello-Lammens and colleagues in Procedings of the Royal Society B cited it as one of just a handful of cases where climate change is thought to be the immediate cause of extinction.The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change referred to the Cahill study… which I interpret as trying to show how widely used this example was. But note that the IPCC (WG II) didn’t actually refer to the Gerlach paper at all; only to the Cahill overview (for some reason the IPCC call it Cahill 2013, even though it looks to be 2012; odd [But see comment #4]). And what the IPCC has to say from Cahill is quite nuanced:

At the opposite end of the spectrum, species extinctions are very difficult to attribute to climate change (Section, in part because other factors dominate recent extinctions. This does not mean that climate has not played an important contributing role; indeed it has been argued that the low level of confidence in attribution is due to the lack of studies looking for climate signals in extinctions (Cahill et al. 2013)

As you’d expect, the obvious suspects made the obvious hay over this. And the Light Side largely ignored it. But should we? As well as a chance to show “balance” this is also a chance to ride one of my once-favourite hobbyhorses, so I’ll take the chance. And the equine is: if you want to know if global warming is occurring, look at the temperature record over a climatologically meaning period. Or, something tied very strongly to it, like sea level or ocean heat content. Other stuff – weather extremes, and in particular extinctions, aren’t good markers because they’re inherently statistically less stable (and for extinctions in most places you have to worry about habitat loss as a cause, too; that’s usually anthro as well, of course, but its not GW). Promoting them to gee up the troops because they’re sexier and more exciting than just-a-few-degrees-warming isn’t a good idea. I really have said this kind of thing before; I’m not making it up. Mind you, it wasn’t popular with the folks then; I doubt it will be now.

Continuing, it seems – in retrospect, though I defend myself from failing to think this at the time on the grounds that I paid no attention at the time – fairly obvious that trying to work out if this particular snail was extinct or not was pretty tricky, of itself. Because, as Clive Hambler says The vast majority of the habitat is virtually inaccessible and has never been visited. It is unwise to declare this species extinct after a gap in known records of ten years. We predict rediscovery when resources permit (warning! Link is to ideologically offensive site, “Forbes”). And just for good measure there’s the usual rather regrettable problem of a journal refusing to publish corrections.

This is a good place to link to Eli’s “words” on the views of government.


* Retraction Watch: At a snail’s pace: Species rediscovered, but paper on its disappearance remains.
* Strangest thing you can see in Ulm

’tis a pity he’s silent

pity Ah, the (self) pity of it. AW has a long lame series of excuses for why he went all the way to Bristol to hear Michael Mann talk but did not ask, or even try to ask, any questions. Sou takes it to pieces, but you really don’t need that. Obviously it wasn’t necessary to ask a question in order to want to go – the lecture was fully pre-booked, and who wouldn’t want to go and hear

In this special Cabot Institute lecture, in association with Bristol Festival of Ideas, Michael E Mann will discuss the science, politics, and ethical dimensions of global warming in the context of his own ongoing experiences as a figure in the centre of the debate over human-caused climate change.

Dr. Michael E Mann is Distinguished Professor of Meteorology at Penn State University, with joint appointments in the Department of Geosciences and the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute. He is also director of the Penn State Earth System Science Center. He is author of more than 160 peer-reviewed and edited publications, and has published books include Dire Predictions: Understanding Global Warming in 2008 and The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines in 2012. He is also a co-founder and avid contributor to the award-winning science website RealClimate.org.

But given the way AW obsesses over Dr Mann on his blog, you might have expected him to have some kind of question he wanted to ask.

ZOMG, I just thought “I know, I’ll read some of the comments on AW’s post”. And its a delight: long after, on facebook, AW asked Mann “will you take my question now?” But, guess what? The question itself is sekrit! Really, I’m not joking. From WUWT:

Cold in Wisconsin  September 28, 2014 at 9:39 am
What was your question? Can’t seem to find it in the above.

  Anthony Watts  September 28, 2014 at 9:41 am
  We’ll have to wait on Dr. Mann to acknowledge my polite, yet simple question. Otherwise I don’t plan to reveal it.

Come on! Does he have an actual question that he wants asked, and wants the answer to? If so, make it public. Is he just playing around playing f*ckw*t propaganda games fit only for children? Then keep it quiet. Fortunately, this is a self-answering question. This is even dumber than NoTricksZone, who want to make loadsamoney betting on sea ice – but only as long as they don’t win too much, and only if they can bet with scientists.

Their own private reality

Hey! I’ve used that before. Anyway:

All of this rather reminds me of the censorship-on-blog-comments debate. Go to any of the septic blogs – WUWT, JoNova, whatevs, and any time anyone asks “why don’t you comment on what-they-call-warmist blogs”, the answer comes back “because we can’t; we’re censored”. I’ve had people say that about here, more than once. And I point out one of (a) you’ve never submitted a comment here, or (b) your comment has been published. And then I say “but the real censorship is at WUWT and BishopHill and the like” and they go quiet, or expound on why censorship that way round is an excellent idea. But that doesn’t matter to them, because they – and all the people whose comments they read – all agree on their version of reality. AW’s post is part of creating an alternative reality. Very soon, the Watties will actually believe that AW was prevented from asking a question; there’s already a comment there asserting that “Mann is too cowardly to engage in any exchange that would approach anything resembling a debate”, another saying that “[Mann] effectively prevents them from asking any questions”.

If you’re over at Sou’s post, scroll down far enough to the comments to read Richard Betts on talking-to-everyone. I’m not saying I agree, mind.

Meanwhile, elsewhere, and arguably more interestingly…

Apart from that, the other fun is from Moyhu, who reports on ClimateBall at Climate Audit and More ClimateBall at Climate Audit. Even the normally weticent wabbit piles on. And if I write it down here I might be able to find it again; I’m always looking for the hockey-sticks-n-red-noise meme thingy.

[Update: and What Steve McIntyre won’t show you – now.

And just so this post wasn’t a total waste of your time, here’s a nice poster from the Mullerhutte:

Heidi doesn’t actually look like that, though.

Autumn bees

Every autumn I think – too late – that its about time I looked at my bees, took off some honey, and put on the Apistan strips. Ideally this would be done in late August, I think, because the Apistan needs to come off 6 weeks later, and once you get much into October the weather gets unfavourable to opening the hive(s).


But every year summer is too busy, so lets not complain. Here we see the main hive, with the supers and queen excluder removed. There are plenty of bees, so that’s good. And the bees are still bringing in pollen, which tends to mean they are happy:


What’s not so good is that there is very little honey in the supers. The brrod box, briefly and tentatively examined, seemed fine; but the top super was empty and the other had only a few frames filled.


I’ll just have to hope they have a good autumn I suppose. For my reference, here’s the main hive. Also one of my hive has a cute slopey room and something keeps on removing the metal grill. Probably birds looking to nest within, grrr. See-also the pix from May.

That was the main hive. The secondary, a swarm from May dumped on top of some visitors, still seems to be going well, and might even survive the winter. I carelessly neglected to put in a queen excluder, but I think I’ll sort that out next spring if necessary.

Betting on sea ice with Crandles

Crandles kindly reminded me that I had three £100 bets with him; they’re formalised here (an earlier version at £67 each is here), as:

Crandles offers 3 separate bets on the average of [2012, 2013 and 2014] (to be above/below 4.294, I take the high side), of [2013, 2014 and 2015] (4.119, ditto) and of [2014, 2015 and 2016] (3.94, ditto). In the event of anything that clearly throws things out like a VEI6 volcanic eruption bets are voidable.

Those are NSIDC extent not area. CR kindly reminded me of the 2012 and 13 values as 3.63 and 5.35 respectively. 2014 is pretty clearly going to be higher than 2014, so CR has been good enough to concede early and not wait for the end of 2014. I shall have to think of something amusing to do with the £100. Roll on the next few years for the next two bets in this series.

[Update: I’d forgotten that CR took £100 off me in 2012 (and Neven E50, but we converted that to double-or-quits up to 2015): see Sea ice betting report so I’ll just use the £100 to rebuild my tattered finances.]

I’ll leave you with some stained glass, from the hotel Neue Post in Innsbruck:

DSC_4831 DSC_4832
DSC_4836 DSC_4835


* Probably not betting on sea ice, again – Pierre Gosselin runs away.

Probably not betting on sea ice, again

bitte Over at NoTricksZone they claim they’re desperate to bet that (Arctic) sea ice will increase, not decrease, in the “future”. However, the cheapskates are only offering $1k, which isn’t worth getting out of bed for out to 2022. I offered them $10k, and a closer date, and guess what – they jumped at it!

No, I’m kidding you. Of course they didn’t jump at it; they ran away. I’m pursuing, but I expect it to run into the sand. They’re interested in propaganda, not an actual bet. They blowhard, but there’s nothing behind it.

But perhaps dear reader you (like they) believe that Arctic sea ice will increase; and perhaps you (unlike they) are prepared to put your money where your mouth is. If so, do leave me a comment and we can negotiate exact terms. There’s $10k available; please don’t trouble me with trivial amounts, though.

I already have a $10k bet with Rob Dekker – with me on the “no death spiral side” of things. I haven’t heard from RD for a bit – I hope he’s still around. I also have $333 with Joe Romm on, essentially, no ice free Arctic by 2020.

This year’s sea ice September minimum is clearly dull; still, at least it will shut the “death spiralers” up for a bit. [Update from the comments: No, I’m wrong Wadhams is still at it.]

[Update: its clear from the comments over at NTZ that P Gosselin has wimped out. Over there, Crandles make the obvious point that PG has cherry picked his intervals: can anyone guess why he wants to start with the interval [2007, 2012]? Oh go on, I’m sure you can think of some reason why he’d pick such an unusual interval.]


* Stoat-spam: Max Planck Institute Arctic Sea Ice Expert: “I Wouldn’t Put Money On Further Decrease Of Ice Cover”!

Stubai: Wilder Freiger to the Muller Hutte

Next: Wilder Pfaff and Zuckerhutl

After the Habicht I walked across to the Bremer hut and then the Nurnberger, and my next mountain was the Wilder Freiger. Its not difficult (incidentally, for a nice piece about the same region from the viewpoint of someone more cautious than me, see here) and this would be my third ascent but conditions were less than perfect:


That’s a view across the valley to the Simmingjochl, yesterday’s route from the Bremer; look closely and you can see the Zollhutte on the skyline. I’d got up at 6 as an act of faith, but the snow, and the cloud base at ~2700 m, and the subsequent rain made me linger over breakfast and I didn’t actually set off until 9. If you want to follow along at home, here’s the GPS track.

Looking SW, from about 2700 m, towards the cloud-shrouded Feuerstein. The lake is the unmarked lake at 2500 m below the Grublferner.


A bit higher up, looking NNE towards the Habicht:


The skyline peak just R of center is the Innere Wetterspitze, the low point to the R of that is the Simmingjochl again, heading L are the Aus. W. and the Rotenspitz. And distant between them, the Habicht. I think. Mountains are pretty hard to do from photos.

Even the cairns are getting covered with snow. The fun part here is that you’re walking over a boulder field, though which is traced one path which is (underneath all the snow) moderately level underfoot. But with all the path markers covered its easy to miss a twist of the path, at which point you start falling over the junk hidden under the snow.

Of course, I didn’t take photos in 100% cloud so you don’t get the right effect; but it was sufficiently hard to find the route that I nearly climbed the Gamssiptzl by mistake; which would have been a dreadful faux pas. Fortunately Jesus saved me:


(Although I admit, a little later when the cloud had cleared you’d have to be a total bozo to miss this clue). The route continues down into the snow bowl then up the snow and along the ridge ahead; the top of the easily visible portion is ~3200 m, and peering L of that you can just see a bit of rocky stuff which is nearly the summit (well, probably the SE summit, Signalgipfel) at ~3350 m. Again in cloud, after a period of whiteout with zero contrast such as I’ve never come across before, I stumbled across the welcome but sadly unphotogenic abandonded customs hut, before reaching the True Summit (on the left) and the Signalgipfel (on the right):

DSC_4236 DSC_4238

I offer the weather’s apologies for not providing a nice clear blue sky to photograph both against. In my own defence, I hung around for about 15 mins hoping for a better pic of the AWS. The easiest way down from the summit to the South is very well marked and secured:


because its the route to the beautifully but absurdly situated Becherhaus or Rifugio Bicciere, which can’t make up its mind if its Austrian or Italian. Its absurdly photogenic which is great if you’re taking pictures, but if your aim is to actually get to the hut, you need to slog up 100 m or so:


In the distance the Botzer (wiki has a charmingly antique pic) which is now on my list. Its only 3250 m, but is across the fairly extensive UbeltalFerner. But I was going to the Mullerhutte:


so the easiest thing to do is to drop off the ridge onto the glacier, keeping close-ish to the ridge so that you can pretend that crevasses never reach to the edges, errm, and then follow someone else’s tracks across because its an invariable rule that if someone else didn’t fall into a hidden crevasse, then neither will you. Zoom in on the GPS trace in “satellite” view at the inexplicable zig at the end and you’ll see.

The apparent high point on the skyline is the Wilder Pfaff, 3458 m, and apparently-lower-but-actually-higher is the Zuckerhutl, 3505 m. But those are stories for tomorrow. Finally, the weather was good enough that I could sit outside in the sunshine, at least briefly:


The Becherhaus and Mullerhutte stare at each other across the vale like Two Towers:


Video of Nurnburger to WF to Mullerhutte to W Pfaff to Z and descend the Sulzenauferner. Or you may prefer the Dent du Geant.





2014-09-20 09.02.53

Not perhaps entirely fair – it is a cartoon, after all – but I liked it (nicked from the Times, if you were wondering). I also feel somewhat critical of Salmond: with his shiniest toy taken away he’s chosen to walk off and leave others to sort out the mess. Perhaps. Is there a mess to be sorted out? (Timmy thinks there is but his analysis is poor) Right now it seems possible, with everyone desperately excited. That will probably soon pass. I was just going to leave you with The Gods of the Copybook Headings which has many relevant lines; and everyone can read their own mottoes into the words.

But looking for “what’s news” I found the Economist which offers me a rather different perspective on recent events:

If Mr Salmond leaves the nationalist movement larger and more prominent than ever before, he also bequeaths an uncertain future and unresolved tensions. Many in it were privately critical of the SNP’s role in the Yes campaign. It failed to think through fundamental issues, like which currency an independent Scotland would use, until much too late in the game. It wasted time and effort bickering over the merits of NATO membership. For the first months of the campaign, it did little to build a coherent and organised Yes operation.

That the Yes side went on to give the unionists a run for their money was thanks to the intervention of various civil society and other non-SNP forces. These—Common Weal, Women for Independence, Radical Independence, National Collective and others—brought verve and energy to the cause. Not bound by the discipline of the pro-union campaign, they could each make a different pitch to different sorts of voters. Students queuing for the cinema were given leaflets explaining “how to disarm a nuke” (the answer: vote Yes to force Britain’s deterrent from Scottish waters). Parents waiting at school gates got literature on childcare. Flats in blue-collar areas received fliers outlining the many ways in which the union had failed them, entitled: “Britain is for the rich. Scotland can be ours.” By the final weeks before yesterday’s referendum the SNP was relatively peripheral, particularly in areas of Scotland like Glasgow and Dundee where Yes was strongest.

The aftermath of the referendum into which the Yes campaign and, until his resignation statement, Mr Salmond were today thrust is therefore fractious. What now for this sprawling political patchwork? A large, leftist part of the movement is at best indifferent towards the SNP and at worst furious at its complacency and poor organisation. Senior figures from this scene were preparing to denounce the first minister in the coming days. Some alleged that Nicola Sturgeon, his more left-wing deputy, had made it known that she shared their gripes. Did he jump, or was he pushed?

Perhaps Ms Sturgeon, who will surely replace Mr Salmond when he formally steps down at the SNP’s conference in November, will be able to draw the wider left-wing movement into the party. She is probably better-placed to do so than he would have been. But your correspondent would not be surprised if instead the movement split. The SNP is a small-c conservative party, with traditions and image to match. Can it really accommodate the thousands of environmentalists, socialists, trade unionists, students, single-issue campaigners and others who poured time and energy into the Yes campaign? Their commitment to the cause will not go away overnight, or even over a period of months. This evening the emergence of new, left-wing nationalist party seems possible; maybe even probable.

Until the results of last night, Scottish nationalism under Mr Salmond was more powerful and concerted (on the surface, at least) than it has been in living memory. Soon that may seem like a long, long time ago.

I’ve bolded the bit I found particularly interesting. The reportage I’ve seen up till now was very much party-focussed, and had given the SNP the most prominent role in the Yes campaign. The alternative proposed here is intriguing. Nicola Sturgeon looks a bit like Aunty Angela, don’t you think?


* Anglicans beat Catholics where it matters.

Stubai: Habicht

Next: Wilder Freiger to the Muller Hutte

I packed some stuff (too much as it turned out) and headed off to the Stubai. First stop is the Innsbrucker Hutte (interior pic, including the lovely huge ceramic stove) and first mountain is the Habicht, which SummitPost doesn’t take too seriously, at least for the Voie Normale. Probably correctly; it isn’t hard in decent conditions. Last year I failed after backing off in heavy snow conditions and thick cloud. I was about 270 m off the summit but couldn’t see that on the ground, due to the cloud, and my old watch, unlike the new 610, wouldn’t tell me my GPS height.

But this time I could see the mountain from the hut:


That’s the East ridge above the initial grass I suppose, which is most of the route; you can’t see the summit at this point. The route is well marked (if not covered in snow; I’ll stop saying that) but somewhat unsatisfactory, in that it bobbles up the rather broad ridge and could really go almost anywhere; though of course its sensible to follow the marked and in places made route.

Looking back from nearly the start of the rock section down to the hut and the Kalkwand:


Around about here are a couple of plaques to remind you to take care:


And there are good views down into the Pinnistal with the long and zig-zaggy path up to the hut:


There’s even some meteorology to be seen:


Above the ridge you start getting to the snow and can just see the summit cross:


And higher still, looking back, I can see my tracks across the snow and down to the hut:


Then the somewhat rubbly final ridge:


and a bit more:


to the top:


Sorry, no selfie. When I got back down the view was back to “normal”:



* GPS track.
* Diary: Sat 1, Sat 2, Sun 1, Sun 2, Mon 1.

Independent Scotland doesn’t seem like a good idea to me

Yes, Stoat, the pundit you’ve all been waiting for. Well, at least one person asked.

Coming back from hols I misread a headline on my phone (I don’t have data roaming so gloriously missed everything while I was away) that suggested that Scotland had voted for independence. “Good for them” I thought, though I was surprised they’d been that brave. Then I realised I’d misread it. Anyway, the point is that whilst my overall opinion is that the Scots should vote against independence, my view isn’t very strong, and I do at least feel emotionally in favour of independence. But as an exercise I’ll try to write down a coherent view.

Incidentally, there’s a quite separate reason for wanting (or opposing) Scottish independence: that Scots voters would no longer elect politicians whose opinions would directly affect votes in Westminster. Some would be quite happy to see SI just for that reason; others oppose it for that reason. I’m not interested in that aspect for the moment.

On pure economic / financial terms, its hard to see how SI will help. There are three losses: (1) direct financial support from the UK (Barnett formula); (2) frictional costs (managing the shadow pound, import tariffs, defence, whatever) and (3) capital / business flight (many things that might once have been agnostic about setting up in either Scotland or England are more likely to choose England in future). Set against that there is only the fairy stories about majick oil revenues; those fables won’t come true. I don’t really buy the bit about not being allowed into the EU though; that seems like nonsense to me. The idea that an indep Scotland would be richer and more dynamic doesn’t seem plausible; their tendencies, if anything, are more socialist, which isn’t going to lead to a more dynamic economy, quite the reverse. Note, BTW, that Scotland already has the power to vary income taxes but has never been brave enough to use it, for the obvious reasons.

From the press coverage I get the impression that many on the Yes side are either pretending to believe in the fairy stories the SNP are telling about oil; or are just ignoring the economics issues as something that can be set aside for now and solved later. Surfing a wave of joy-of-independence-now, pay-later. In a certain way I can sympathise with this: I’d be quite ready to believe that losing 10% of GDP, say, was worth the joy of independence. But I don’t see quite how that fits in with the promises that people are being given (see, e.g., the SNP on independence; cite). “Fairer” is very nice; but a levelling-down fairer won’t make the proles happy.

Far too much of the debate I hear on the radio isn’t rational. That’s all very well for general elections where you can change your mind a few years later. It might all end badly for SI.

To my mind, Catalonian independence makes more sense than the Caledonian variety. Spain is the Euro, so Catalonia has no currency problem. Spain is in Schengen, so Catalonia would be too. And defence is less interesting, and so on. Quite a few of the frictional problems vanish.

[Update: 2014/09/17:21:50: and just to nail my colours to the mast: I think the result will be No, by a larger majority than the polls are predicting.]


* It Would Be Impossible For An Independent Scotland To Establish A Sovereign Oil Fund – Timmy (who really ought to update his photo).
* How a nation went mad – Bagehot, the Economist.
* The welcome return of Plumbum
* Luv2suckbigcok says Yes, but Grindr as a whole says no.

The EU should not ban vacuum cleaners

vaccuum I’ve been on hols, so allow me to be a little behind the times. The EU is proposing to ban vacuum cleaners of more than 1600 watts. If you follow that link you’ll find a fairish discussion of whether this matters or not: its easy enough to argue that no-one needs more than 1600, and that Evil Manufacturers merely push the wattage up to fool Idiot Customers into buying something that “must be better”. The EU itself says It is not power that makes a vacuum cleaner perform well. The EU will now require that all vacuum cleaners clean well and at the same time avoid wasting electricity. This will ensure quality, help consumers save money, and make Europe as a whole use less energy.

But all this is besides the point. We – or at least I – don’t want to live in a Soviet-style command economy where bureaucrats decide what’s best for us, or what variety of Trabant we’re allowed to purchase. If we have bureaucrats with nothing better to do than this then excellent: fire them all and reduce our taxes by a tiny amount. The correct solution to costing carbon is to cost carbon; not to impose thousands of micro-regulations on aspects of behaviour as trivial as choice of vacuum cleaner.


* The hairdryer conundrum– David Hone.
* A Republican Scientist Explains Why Coal Is Expensive – Barry Bickmore