Naval gazing

huge I can thoroughly recommend the reviews. But this post, as I’m sure you’ve already guessed, is not about common problems with perforce but about ScienceBlogs. Or National Geographic blogs, I’m never quite sure what “we” are nowadays.

But nonetheless I was surprised by Sb Has 19 Active Blogs (of which I’m one, of course, though not as active as I used to be). Which in turn points me at The Life and Death of Blog Networks. FWIW, I am enjoying the benign neglect and have nothing to complain about.

On a happier note, Elon Musk Names SpaceX Drone Ships in Honor of Iain M. BanksJust Read the Instructions and Of Course I Still Love You although saying why was a bit naff of him.

Meanwhile, if you’re interested in small boats, here’s Paul Holland and I in a pair for the winter Head to Head. I’m the one you can’t see 🙂


* Russia has been downgraded to junk status for the first time in a decade says Aunty.

"the Monckton et. al [sic] paper is complete trash"

shits Or so says Gavin in How Climate Change Denial Still Gets Published in Peer-Reviewed Journals via Retraction Watch. Dountless Monkers will welcome yet another chance to bluster and threaten to sue1. The paper has been “harshly criticized by physicists” (who knew ATTP was plural, eh?) and “climate scientists” though to be fair ATTP only really skimmed it for errors, and RT just pointed out that the palaeo bits were a bit crap.

[Update: I’ve just noticed what I should have seen immeadiately: a fatal flaw in Gavin’s words that totally vitiates his argument: it should be et al. not et. al. Obvs. Another good English boy gone to bad over in the land of the illiterate.]

I was conversing with a friend who would probably rather be nameless, and I said

I confess, I didn’t even bother reading it, or even the few blog posts that have mentioned it, because it seemed so obviously drivel. We expect no less from M’Lord. I’d also assumed that it was *uninteresting* drivel – do let me know if I’m wrong about that.

To which I got the reply “I’m not sure it’s coherent enough to count as drivel. There’s quite a bit where I had no hope of working out what it means or what the point of saying it was.” Anyway, you get the idea: we were competing to be as disrespectful as we possibly could, even if we didn’t give it its due – which would have been to ignore it. But, alas, my friend also gave some insight into what was wrong with it, which I’ll share with you. In the spirit of showing contempt for the paper, however, I must point out that I haven’t actually thought about this very hard, and I still haven’t read the paper. Also, these aren’t his exact words.

The flaw that underlies most of it is that the r_t in the equation ATTP quotes is taken from Roe et al. applying a step change in CO2 to a 1D model. A standard one, though of course there are a range of responses; anyone competent would consider this. At one point MSLB do say their r_t is observed, but that’s a page or so after they correctly describes its origin (consistency from page to page is not this paper’s strong point). So it is a Green’s function that needs to be convolved with the forcing history but MSLB multiplies them, and then tickles a weasel. Naturally, 164 years after their start year of 1860, we must be so near equilibrium with all the CO2 in the atmosphere that the remaining warming is a tiny fraction of the warming so far, as they calculate precisely.

Well, there you have it. Discuss.

Update: there’s also Monckton, Soon, Legates, and Briggs falsely claim to have presented a new climate model by Jan P Perlwitz [archive]. Thanks to ATTP for the link. Don’t miss the appearance of Scrotum. [Comments there are good. Its complex at first, but by about Bode Monkers has made it clear that like so many others of his ilk he (a) hasn’t got a clue how the GCMs are built, and (b) thinks the CS is built in.]

And Factcheck: Scientists hit back at claims global warming projections are “greatly exaggerated” at Carbon Brief.

There’s more analysis in a comment at JP’s by tilting@windmills.

And The Monckton equation by apsmith.

And With climate models, simpler isn’t necessarily better – Grantham Institute Co-Director Professor Joanna Haigh. Note how Monkers, in the comments, praises Alexandra Cheung for her thoughtful critique, having failed to realise that the words are JH’s, merely posted by AC.

Tee hee

Vaguely on topic – the topic being the reputation of the journal that MSLB published in (which is the little-known “Science Bulletin”, formerly the “Chinese Science Bulletin”. It seems very arrogant, to me, for them to so rename their journal, especially if they’re not even going to publish science in it); going off to the far side of the world does seem rather odd, when you could be publishing in Pattern Recognition in Physics right at home – we have Did A Romanian Researcher Successfully Game Google Scholar to Raise his Citation Count? – thought I should say that I have no reasons to think that MSLB have done this. Read the post, and the update at the end.

Update: furtively anonymous paid thermo-Fascist troll


furtively anonymous paid thermo-Fascist troll

James Rowlatt (who is, it appears, the only person being paid to post to the thread, being apparently an employee of Monkers and has been for a while):

It seems to me, on reviewing this thread, that Lord Monckton has been exemplary in his courteous replies

Well, naturally enough, your paid employees will judge you kindly. Its a touch odd that JR doesn’t explicitly disclose that he is being paid to post; you’d kinda expect that he would, were he being good.


1. Well, that didn’t take long:

In view of the libels in the Carbon Brief piece, I shall be asking my lawyers whether they recommend insisting that it carry a response from me. If not, I shall put it in a national newspaper, where it will reach a far larger audience than the Carbon Brief, subsidized though it is by a shady foundation.


* Climate change skeptic accused of violating disclosure rules [Makes Retraction Watch]
* A link to RS who links to WUWT who shows the infamous Soon faking Einstein saying IPCC = Gangster “science”.

These go up to 11

Shamelessly stolen from ATTP’s “More than half” is the same as “> 50%”!, but I think this captures brilliantly a typical argument with the “skeptics”:

TPP has a link to the interesting story of Alfred Russel Wallace‘s bet with the flat-earthers that the Earth was, in fact, not flat. Somehow, that seems relevant.

While I’m copying, I may as well point you at It’s the Trend, Stupid as an antidote, if needed, to the misc denialists.

Moyhu also has a nice pic, which I’ve inlined below, and a nice discussion of the different sorts of uncertainties.

And while on misc, via Paul I find Brown Pundits: Unreal Islam. Paul quotes one bit which is valuable, I prefer:

At the same time, Muslims should acknowledge that they have not constructed the logical and theoretical framework within which extremism can be rejected formally. If anything, the opposite has happened in the last century, with increasingly literalist attitudes gaining strength for political reasons. And that is the core problem: A literal reading of even moderate Muslim beliefs can, and does, lead to behaviors incompatible with modern society. Like Christians, Jews, Hindus and others, Muslims have to turn towards a less literal, more inspirational and humanistic reading of their sacred traditions, drawing from them principles that can stand the test of time rather than literal, ahistorical prescriptions.

The hellish monotony of 25 years of IPCC climate change warnings from the Graun (thanks a); or, if you prefer, The Onion also covers it. And if you haven’t signed up you can get the tasteful message unlimited access for our foreign readers can be purchased for only $0.99 for the first month: That’s less than a dollar – approximately one day’s wages in most non-American countries!.

While we’re on totally crap “predictions” and extrapolations that are impermissible:

Nice, huh? As ever for these things, Timmy has the details.


* The specialist in causing pain – The Renaissance Mathematicus on yet another person – this time its Michael Vagg on The Conversation – getting Galileo wrong
* Historian joke
* Swiss bank to charge clients to hold cash

How much is climate change going to cost us?

mo Its been a bit quiet around here. Don’t fear: a whole variety of things have wound me up recently, not least my colleagues inability to use perforce competently1. But none of them quite rose to the level of bothering to post. I was going to write something gratuitously offensive about the Charlie Hebdo stuff, but it seems like everyone is appropriating it to their own cause, so I won’t. Though I did think that it was wittily transgressive, in a post ostensibly defending free speech, to snip comments purely because they offended the diva.

But this post is about How much is climate change going to cost us? by David Roberts, which appeared on my FB feed. Or rather, its about Temperature impacts on economic growth warrant stringent mitigation policy3 by Moore and Diaz, Nature Climate Change (2015) doi:10.1038/nclimate2481. This is, perhaps somewhat contrary to my initial impressions and prejudices (and my irritation with parts of DR’s write-up), quite a decent paper (caveat: IANAE). Unlike the press release which is, as you’d expect, appallingly un-nuanced, saying “We estimate that the social cost of carbon is not $37 per ton, as previously estimated, but $220 per ton,” said study coauthor Frances Moore. Its perfectly clear from the paper itself that uncertainties prevent any statement this definite. That paper, itself, is heavily reliant on Temperature Shocks and Economic Growth: Evidence from the Last Half Century by Dell, Jones and Olken (Moore and Diaz, in the academically approved fashion, lard their paper with many references; but the vital numbers come from Dell et al.). This last paper (we’re at the bottom of the stack now, fear not) contains lots of words and many numbers; naturally, I only skimmed it. But figure 2 is very interesting:


As they say:

our estimates show large, negative effects of higher temperatures on growth, but only in poor countries. In poorer countries, we estimate that a 1◦ C rise in temperature in a given year reduced economic growth in that year by about 1.3 percentage points. In rich countries, changes in temperature do not have a robust, discernable effect on growth.

There’s also a strong relation between GDP and absolute temperature, which we’re all fairly familiar with. There’s an uncertainty of how to interpret that, for the future: does being rich make you more resistant to temperature “shocks”? M+D call that the “resilience mechanism”. I’d say yes. Or do we expect GW to push more countries into the poor-because-hot basket? M+D: “temperature mechanism”. I’d guess no. I’d also guess that temperature “shocks” are easiest to see in agriculture, and the richer you are the smaller a fraction of your wealth comes from ag.

Moore+Diaz put Dell’s numbers into a version of DICE (ah, I’ve glossed over the whole point there, haven’t I? Read Roberts if you like; the idea is to put effects that reduce growth rates into DICE-a-likes, rather than simple damage numbers), and discover that it makes bugger all difference to the rich world2, but reduces the poor world’s growth by 40% by 2100, based on some scenario or another.

Given that the rich world is massively richer than the poor world, I think that the wealth-weighted reaction to all that would be negligible, though I don’t have any numbers to demonstrate it.

Moore+Diaz consider the different effects that occur if you believe the “temperature mechanism” or the “resilience mechanism”. Unsurprisingly, it makes a huge difference. Browsing their figure 3, in 2080 its the difference between a social cost of carbon (SCC) of ~$1000 per ton, or a number too small to distinguish from zero on their scale.

Before ending, there’s one more picture I’ll show you from Moore+Diaz, because I don’t understand it:


This shows the effects, on emissions optimised “to maximise global discounted social welfare” (DICE-2R (red) is std DICE, I think; gro-DICE (blue) is their fudged version). As far as I can tell, they don’t explain what that is. I understand that their version is going to increase carbon costs, so blue lower than red for emissions makes sense. But given the (fairly low, in the std case) damage from warming, I don’t understand why emissions drop so much for std-DICE. Perhaps there are some assumptions in there that I don’t understand.

Anyway, there you go. Interesting stuff. Hopefully someone with more patience will read the papers more carefully and point out the bits I’ve missed.


1. Well, really, its more a fundamental understanding of version control than perforce; how changes propagate, why integrate -f is generally a bad idea, why being profligate with reverts is likewise unhelpful and doomed to cause pain.

2. There’s a small piece of dishonesty in M+D that the referees should have picked up: they’ve used a small negative value from Dell: as M+D say “smaller effects in rich countries”. But Dell really find no discernable effect at all; the correct value to use, based on that, for rich countries, is zero. Worse than that, if you look at the figure I’ve inlined, the effect is actually positive for rich countries. Quite how M+D turned that into a small negative I don’t know.

3. My access via DR to that paper in Nature comes with a “referrer_access_token”, so I think this is the all-new Nature sharing mechanism that JA was so scathing of. However, its worked for me, here.

* Enchanted Necromancer Brings Life Back To Once-Dead Argument – thanks Hank
* I Am Not Making This Up; Venezuela Bans Queues To Beat Product Shortages – Timmy in Forbes, demonstrating that its possibly to totally fuck up your economy without GW.
* More FB feed stuff: I may take this one on next: That Was Easy: In Just 60 Years, Neoliberal Capitalism Has Nearly Broken Planet Earth, featuring Transgressing a boundary increases the risk that…

Getting rid of old stuff

None of the following are warranted in any way. I’m just clearing out some old emails and didn’t want to completely throw them away. This may be only of interest to me, and possibly not even me.

* Spock warns of coming ice age
* Slowing down as an early warning signal for abrupt climate change – Vasilis Dakos, Marten Scheffer, Egbert H. van Nes, Victor Brovkin, Vladimir Petoukhov and Hermann Held, PNAS, 2008.
* Significant contribution to climate warming from the permafrost carbon feedback Andrew H. MacDougall, Christopher A. Avis & Andrew J. Weaver – Nature, 2012.
*Claim of solar influence is on thin ice: are 11-year cycle solar minima associated with severe winters in Europe? – Geert Jan van Oldenborgh, Jos de Laat, Juerg Luterbacher, William Ingram and Tim Osborn, in Klimazwiebel. Note last para.
* Increases in greenhouse forcing inferred from the outgoing longwave radiation spectra of the Earth in 1970 and 1997 – John E. Harries, Helen E. Brindley, Pretty J. Sagoo & Richard J. Bantges; Nature 410, 355-357 (15 March 2001) | doi:10.1038/35066553.
* Adjustments in the forcing-feedback framework for understanding climate change – Steven C. Sherwood, Sandrine Bony, Olivier Boucher, Chris Bretherton, Piers M. Forster, Jonathan M. Gregory, Bjorn Stevens. BAMS
* Law and Expediency – Bystander.
* Study of massive preprint archive hints at the geography of plagiarism
* Travels in the Alps Volume 2 Chapter 35 by Horace-Bénedict de Saussure.

Meanwhile, above the Franz Senn hut in Austria in September:


WATN: Force X from outer space

In my Where are they now? review of 2014, I unforgiveably forgot the sensation of the year, Force X from outer space. Its worth reviewing, because (a) its not quite dead yet (or perhaps more accurately its proprietors haven’t yet given up hope of revivifying it) and (b) the original played out for so long that most people lost track of the errors.

If you’ve no idea what this is about – and you care – or if you need a refresher, then its probably best to go off and read The Notch-Delay Solar Theory because that helpfully lists all the drivel in one place, rather than the smeared-out-over-months that the original got. If you think I’m being dishonest by biasing you by calling it “drivel” well, tough; look through their web page and you’ll see that they are less than honest in describing criticism of their work. Note, BTW, there’s a semi-dangling update at the end where it all went quiet, but ter be ‘onest wiv yer guv I’d lost interest in the details by then; Sou took that as the tombstone of the “theory” and it does seem to go rather quiet from there.

My criticism of all this is:

To simplify: DE has found that the spectrum of the global temperature signal (T) is consistent with simple red noise, when viewed broadly, over the timescales he is looking at; and this should be no surprise (but it is to him). He’s also found that the solar forcing spectrum (S) is also red noise, apart from the peak at 11 years. For reasons that are unclear, he has decided that S is forcing T (even though at other points he denies this assumption is build in, but it is), and therefore that the difference between the spectra represents the xfer function, and hence a notch filter. But another possibility is that S isn’t forcing T in any significant way. DE’s “force X” seems to me somewhat like the luminiferous aether – it only needs to exist if you try to impose your view on reality.

And I think that’s most other people’s view, too. Or at least, of anyone who bothered look at it in any detail. Few did. But, where did it go? It spawned a couple of posts here:

* the Bomb Plot – in order to try to make sense of their non-physical results, they ended up assigning a ridiculously high value to the atmospheric-bomb-test forcing. I found that there wasn’t a good source for what the actual forcing was (answer: its so small no-one cares). That was from their part VII, I think.
* Battle of the graphs – for no apparent reason, other than to demonstrate their ignorance, they decided to misattribute some faked up graph to IPCC ’95. Why they bothered I don’t know, because it didn’t help their argument. Still, its nice to be reminded that they’re wrong about the small things as well as the large.

But what about the rest of the world?

The sound of silence

Oh, you’ve guessed.

The response of the denial-o-sphere must have disappointed the Novaites, because it largely ignored their theory, as did the world at large. Lubos ripped it apart, then took his post down, then put his post back up, then did the hokey-cokey and who knows what. WUWT gave it a guest spot, but with the unusually explicit disclaimer There are still many unanswered questions about this model. I provide this essay for the purposes of discussion, but I give no pro or con endorsement. There’s little – oh, all right, no – intelligent discussion of the theory itself in the post or the comments, instead it fairly swiftly degenerates into an argument with Leif Svalgaard about TSI, and Willis Eschenbach complaining about them not releasing their data (broken by NikFromNYC suggesting “Anthony, just buy a gun. Point it at the center of your head. Don’t miss” which earns him a permaban, and the label of “warmist” from schitzree, tee hee). There was one more – A Cool Question, Answered? – found via Sou, who mocked it briefly – in which I make a gueat appearance as a Solar Denialist. I thought the D-word was banned at WUWT – perhaps not for People We Don’t Like.

I’m not dead yet!

Although it all seemed over in July 2014, it got a brief walk-on-non-speaking part in the Stephen Wilde Hypothesis, which I’d probably take the piss out of if I’d bothered to read it, except on a quick skim it looks disturbingly like a borked-up version of the ozone-affects-winds-affects-climate stuff that we know and love. Amusingly, that’s headlined

In 2015 the hunt for clues continues…

which brings up the immediate retort: yes, you really are in desperate need of A Clue. But thinking about it more, I’m reminded about the notorious “search for clues” for the meaning of Justice in the Republic, I think it was. Anyway, that’s a despicable piece of propaganda masquerading as philosophy, which makes it a suitable cognate to the post.

Is there a lesson in all this?

Lots. The minor ones are stuff like: you really must stop paying any attention to the “skeptic” drivel, because life is too short. But what about lessons for them – making the admittedly unlikely assumption that they’d like to learn; and that they really are trying to do this “science” stuff and not just fill in the blog over the lonely summer months.

The major one is a variant on Feymann: The first principle is that you must not fool yourself — and you are the easiest person to fool. So you need someone to criticise your theory. People who read it and say “this is great” are useless, as are the people who don’t even read it but still say “this is great”. The “skeptics” have very few serious people they can talk to who can give them anything useful as feedback. As it happens, in this case, they did get a semi-usable answer from Lubos. But they didn’t like what he said, so ignored him. Which was silly (for them, in this case. In most cases one should, obviously, ignore everything Lubos says that is related to climate).

For details, I refer you to the “2015 update” of “Dr” Roy Spencer is sad and lonely and wrong.


* Soc Flop