CSIRO: science as a public good

Much fuss about the cuts at CSIRO climate research. This reminds me of a less serious situation 10, or perhaps 15 years ago, when cuts were proposed – I can’t recall if they actually happened – due to a conversation somewhat like:

Scientists: Global Warming is Real!
Government: OK, we believe you’re, we going to stop funding you looking for it.
Scientists: Oh wait, we didn’t quite mean it that way.

Cue today: as the Graun puts it In the email to staff on Thursday, Marshall said that since climate change was proven to be real, CSIRO could shift its focus.

Before I go further, to avoid confusion, I should say that for much of this I’m with Robert Wilson it has nothing to do directly with defending our country except to help make it worth defending. So it is possible to quibble many things – Cape Grimm CO2 monitoring for example: do we really need it, since we have Mauna Loa and others, and anyway we already know CO2 is going up. But really all that stuff is pretty cheap anyway, provides useful and interesting work for a variety of people, and makes the country a better place. OTOH, just as Controlled Washington, D.C. Wildfires are Crucial For Restoring a Healthy Political Environment science funding needs to be shaken up every now and again to stop people getting fat and lazy and blinkered.

But although Australia will lose some stuff of local relevance (VV points out why local stuff may well be useful), really most climate science is inevitably global; you can study the effects of El Nino on Australia but if you want to understand the mechanisms you need to look at least the whole tropics, and probably globally. Climate science is a public good, which is why governments fund it, but there’s the inevitable free-rider problem. Which in this case appears to be met with the usual free-rider response: disapproval from one’s peers, and loss of respect. Whether that will help is another matter.


* The gutting of CSIRO climate change research is a big mistake – John Abraham in the Graun (note errors; they aren’t “slashing hundreds of jobs”; note grotesque hyperbole, “CSIRO is also a modeling superpower. Their climate models form the backbone of our understanding of what changes have happened and what changes will happen because of human greenhouse gases” is silly).
* Apparently climate science can stop now – better late than never I guess 🙂

Economist watch: Cruz denies climate change

The Economist, about Ted Cruz, in an article about his presidential hopes:

Conversely his appeal to moderates is limited. He has had little to say to or about the poor, beyond his perpetual gratitude that, when his father was washing dishes for 50 cents an hour, no one was sent by the government to help him. His flagship economic policy is a regressive flat-rate income tax of 10%. Black Americans, anyone concerned about climate change (which he denies) and non-Christians should look elsewhere. Ditto homosexuals: “This shall not stand,” Mr Cruz declares of gay marriage. That grandiloquent but fuzzy pledge exemplifies his gambit: making impossible vows to disoriented voters which are all, at bottom, a promise to reverse history and revive a fairy-tale idea of America.

(my bold). In the real world that’s uncontroversial. But I think it is a shift in language at the Economist; not long ago they would have phrased it rather more softly.

Oh, and speaking of presidential races: you USAnians really need to get yourselves some credible candidates. Sanders is a mess, Trump a joke, Cruz a disaster, Clinton I feel not the least enthusiasm for and she’d probably lose to Rubio. Perhaps he wouldn’t be a disaster? Speaking of which the Economist also says Ted Cruz may have won, but Marco Rubio came out on top. On GW, he appears to be a tosser (etc.), but that’s practically the entry requirement for Repubs nowadays (pace BB). In other ways he doesn’t appear to be a total disaster.

Kal cartoon 2016/01/23 balloon headed trump

Update: Economist, 2016 / 02 / 27 “For example, though Mr Rubio doesn’t deny climate change, as Mr Cruz does, he says, in effect, that America shouldn’t do much about it”.


* CIP: Robo-Rubio
* Stoat watch: The tale of a stoat Otago Daily Times. Spoiler: does not end happily.
* Do You Believe in Magic? asks CIP.

Another funeral advances science

2044116081_bbcde3047f_o Pattern Recognition in Physics (or, if you prefer, Pattern Recognition in Physics) appears to have finally shuffled off this mortal coil; h/t DM. As late as January 2016 its arid mummified cadaver was propped up at http://www.pattern-recognition-in-physics.com/. But it would appear that either the vast expense of maintaining a domain, or perhaps the sheer embarrassment of the grinning corpse staring back as a reminder of their own mortality has caused whoever owns the thing to pull the plug. Or perhaps it was so unloved that they just forgot to renew the domain. Here’s an archive.is of it showing up as a network error. Or perhaps the nutters can only sustain one enthusiasm at a time?

whois says:

Domain Name: pattern-recognition-in-physics.com
Registry Domain ID: 1844470430_DOMAIN_COM-VRSN
Registrar WHOIS Server: whois.ovh.com
Registrar URL: http://www.ovh.com
Updated Date: 2016-01-28T08:49:58.0Z
Creation Date: 2014-01-27T19:30:11.0Z
Registrar Registration Expiration Date: 2017-01-27T19:30:11.0Z
Registrar: OVH, SAS
Registrar IANA ID: 433
Registrar Abuse Contact Email: abuse@ovh.net
Registrar Abuse Contact Phone: +33.899498765
Domain Status: clientTransferProhibited https://icann.org/epp#clientTransferProhibited
Domain Status: clientHold https://icann.org/epp#clientHold
Domain Status: clientDeleteProhibited https://icann.org/epp#clientDeleteProhibited
Registry Registrant ID:
Registrant Name: Ouadfeul Sidali
Registrant Organization:
Registrant Street: pattern-recognition-in-physics.com, office #6707412, c/o OwO, BP80157
Registrant City: 59053
Registrant State/Province:
Registrant Postal Code: Roubaix Cedex 1
Registrant Country: FR
Registrant Phone: +33.899498765
Registrant Phone Ext:
Registrant Fax:
Registrant Fax Ext:
Registrant Email: 4itctlfrza8e55yg0dtk@q.o-w-o.info
Registry Admin ID:
Admin Name: OIS DZSecurity
Admin Organization: DZSecurity
Admin Street: Résidence Yasmine Beni Mered
Admin City: Blida
Admin State/Province:
Admin Postal Code: 09000
Admin Country: DZ
Admin Phone: +213.553364247
Admin Phone Ext:
Admin Fax:
Admin Fax Ext:
Admin Email: 3nlzu62aap6yhf03uga1@q.o-w-o.info
Registry Tech ID:
Tech Name: OIS DZSecurity
Tech Organization: DZSecurity
Tech Street: Résidence Yasmine Beni Mered
Tech City: Blida
Tech State/Province:
Tech Postal Code: 09000
Tech Country: DZ
Tech Phone: +213.553364247
Tech Phone Ext:
Tech Fax:
Tech Fax Ext:
Tech Email: 3nlzu62aap6yhf03uga1@q.o-w-o.info
Name Server: dns2-r.dzsecurity.net
Name Server: hosting4.dzsecurity.net

The status – clientHold – is an odd one, it says: This status code tells your domain’s registry to not activate your domain in the DNS and as a consequence, it will not resolve. It is an uncommon status that is usually enacted during legal disputes, non-payment, or when your domain is subject to deletion. So, likely they just can’t be bothered to pay the bill. If any of my readers are better at reading whois info than me, please comment with any further gleanings.

Update: well I say “funeral” but of course the Dear Departed didn’t have a proper funeral; perhaps this is it.

Yet another bunch of nutters

Except, of course, it is actually the same recycled nutters under yet another name. Thanks to BB for the link, but the original source is the Smoggies. Not to be confused with the Moggies. The new name is “Independent Committee on Geoethics”; not to be confused with the apparently respectable but to me unknowe International Association for Promoting Geoethics.

Wittily, their flyer for their events could have been faked up by Russel Seitz but appears to be genuine:

Their laughable membership includes Charles Darwin – yes, the Darwin – which brings Robert Carter to mind, in an odd sort of way.

Update: images

Here’s one of their folk in action:

And here are some of the others:


Brian said I’d guess 100 or so draft posts sitting around, forlornly. I have precisely 89 draft posts, and I thought it might be fun to look back at them.

* 2016/01/30: On getting out more, part 2 (you know who you are)
* 2016/01/25: A leading climate sceptic businessman has protested that he was misinformed
* 2016/01/17: Songs (inspired by the Torygraph’s list of 100 best albums, but I realised it was of no interest to anyone else)
* 2016/01/02: Temporal finitism
* 2015/12/11: Yet another post about economics or ethics or something
* 2015/08/11: Greek bond yields
* 2015/08/11: The Bishops Speak: A Letter from the House of Bishops to the People and Parishes of the Church of England for the General Election 2015
* 2015/02/04: Make no mistake about it, there is no longer any rationale for division between science and faith?
* 2014/10/29: Independent Scotland
* 2014/09/14: Da Hyacinth (was to be about the hiatus, but that’s now dead)
* 2014/08/25: Adventures in (more tedious denialist blogs stuff)
* 2014/04/21: Old things (https://www.flickr.com/photos/belette/13936910756)
* 2013/12/31: The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there (St Edmund of Abingdon and miracles)
* 2013/12/30: The fatal lure of crap analogies (more The Magnificent Disinformation Engine and related)
* 2013/11/08: Ivatepray (tedious M$ campaign against gmail)
* 2013/11/05: Lizardmen are not taking over the earth (nicked from VTG)
* 2013/10/10: Misrepresenting the IPCC
* 2013/09/17: On free markets
* 2013/08/09: A l’ombre des vieux plantes en fleurs
* 2013/08/06: Kivalina: stupid journos (part n)
* 2013/07/24: Nigel Calder is sad (the usual tedious denilist whining about wikipedia. Happily, NC is no longer sad. Less happily, that’s because he is now dead)

That’s skipping over those with no title, and stopping when I got bored.

Stupid journal boilerplate

DSC_0423-boilers On of the things I used to hate when I was in the game was the stupid boilerplate you were supposed to pad articles with. Since I also discover that RR has 3k posts and I only have 1k733 I thought I’d try to close the gap by a short whinge. Here’s an example from Fifteen years of ocean observations with the global Argo array, Riser et al., Nature Climate Change 6, 145–153 (2016) doi:10.1038/nclimate2872

More than 90% of the heat energy accumulation in the climate system between 1971 and the present has been in the ocean. Thus, the ocean plays a crucial role in determining the climate of the planet. Observing the oceans is problematic even under the most favourable of conditions. Historically, shipboard ocean sampling has left vast expanses, particularly in the Southern Ocean, unobserved for long periods of time. Within the past 15 years, with the advent of the global Argo array of profiling floats, it has become possible to sample the upper 2,000 m of the ocean globally and uniformly in space and time…

Thus, the ocean plays a crucial role in determining the climate of the planet… We already know that, ditto quite a bit of the rest. You don’t need to tell us again. Anyone too ignorant to know that will get nothing out of this paper; it is just a pile of wasted electrons. And this is in Nature, which nominally likes short pithy stuff.