Mark Carney reckons most fossil fuels “un-burnable”?

Mark J. Carney - mine's about this big and its fully sustainable Or so energylivenews says (thanks to J). Their text is:

Governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney appears to agree most fossil fuels can’t be used if the world is to avoid climate change. At a World Bank event on Friday, he is quoted as saying: “The vast majority of reserves are unburnable.” This is a reference to the idea of a so-called carbon bubble – when investors in oil, gas or coal suppliers lose out on money because the reserves can’t be used.

I’ve bolded his words, the rest is editorial interpolation. I find this particularly irritating. If I’m reading about what Carney thinks, I want to read his words, not what someone else thinks about his words. I’m prepared to read analysis of his words, but it has to be primarily based upon what he said. Searching, I can find a bit more in the Graun:

The governor of the Bank of England has reiterated his warning that fossil fuel companies cannot burn all of their reserves if the world is to avoid catastrophic climate change, and called for investors to consider the long-term impacts of their decisions. According to reports, Carney told a World Bank seminar on integrated reporting on Friday that the “vast majority of reserves are unburnable” if global temperature rises are to be limited to below 2C. Carney is the latest high profile figure to lend his weight to the “carbon bubble” theory, which warns that fossil fuel assets, such as coal, oil and gas, could be significantly devalued if a global deal to tackle climate change is reached.

Here again we’ve got the same very brief quote surrounded by acres of unreliable interpolation. Did Carney actually warn about “catastrophic climate change”? In those words? We don’t know. Perhaps, as the text from the Graun above suggests, he only qualified his words with “if global temperature rises are to be limited to below 2C”, which is a very different matter. Indeed, what did he mean by “reserves” or “fossil fuel companies”? If he’s merely saying that we can’t burn all the coal without going over 2 oC then meh: that’s just the bleedin’ obvious, though the fact that he choose to say the bleedin’ obvious might be interesting. Nor is the meaning of “vast majority” obvious. If by “vast majority” he means, say, 90% then I think I’d find that surprising and non-obvious. But I’m not really up with burnable-resources proportions, please feel free to inform me. The Graun links to but that, too, has the same tantalisingly brief quote about my topic. There’s a bit more quote:

The value of integrated reporting, he argued, was to help investors think about “not just things that can be managed in the short term” but also “costs companies are likely to be exposed to as policy responds to challenges” like climate change. He referred to a “tragedy of horizons” – the market failure by which actors including some investors, companies and governments are not looking far enough ahead to coming problems like the environment, even though these are known to them.

and here’s he’s on a reasonable topic for an econ-bod, possible market failures by not looking ahead far enough. Whether he’s right about that I don’t know; what I actually wanted to know was what he’d said about GW, since that was the headline.

The forum referred to is, I believe, How Integrated Reporting Facilitates Transparency and Financial Stability; October 10, 2014; Washington DC. But they don’t seem to have published any text. Anyone know where to find what he actually said?

I’m slightly puzzled this didn’t cross my radar earlier.


* Bank [of England] prods insurers about climate plans?
* Investors warn of ‘carbon bubble’ as Shell predicts climate regulation will hit profits?

A reader writes: Why are there people who seem hell-bent on denying anthropogenic global warming?

Or, in fuller,

Why are there people who seem hell-bent on denying anthropogenic global warming?; What are the deniers trying to achieve?; Why do they post comments on your article that totally defy not only science, but also common sense?

These are not easy questions to answer accurately. But its easy to give sloppy caricatures in answer.

Don’t ask, don’t tell

One answer is: who cares? It is possible to operate in a mode of try-to-understand-their-motives, but firstly its just guesswork and secondly its probably not terribly useful. Perhaps if you could really get it right, and understand better than them the deep wellsprings of denialism, you might just apply leverage at the right point and turn them from the dark to the light. But I think this is unrealistic. Its like the idea that we can convince everyone by magic. Wishing for a magic bullet is another way of giving up; don’t do it.

They are legion

Another answer is: the dork side is no more unified than the light. Watch (or better still, don’t watch) the poor people who don’t believe in the GHE try to convince the Watties who don’t believe in the temperature record, or something else. Once you remove the train-wreck factor its desperately dull, and repetitive. But apart from “the IPCC is wrong, and Al Gore is fat” they don’t really agree about anything. Asserting that they all believe X is wrong; as wrong as the usual denialist nonsense that everyone who believes in GW is dedicated to the downfall of Western Capitalism and wants to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids.

Ahm all shook up

Moving away from evasions to attempts at actual answers: you don’t have to read septic blogs – or comments from septics – for very long to realise that they’re often quite confused between the science of GW and the political consequences. So there’s a big constituency of rightward-leaning greeny haters whose logic goes something like (a) “all these people like this science, so it must be wrong” or (b) “all these people say the consequence of this science is global communism, so it must be wrong”. I caricature, of course, but I think this is one of the bigger groups. This category doesn’t really understand the science, and doesn’t really want to. It wants to believe that it doesn’t need to understand it, or take it into account. This group probably contains the largest group of sane-but-misguided folk.

To be fair though the confusion between science and politics is depressingly common on the greeny side too. Any number of people will try to tell you that because you believe in the science of GW, therefore you must believe in their pet solution to the problem. And its a pernicious error, because it pushes the “(b)” people above away from the science.

They’re nice to me

If you’re a bit of a nutso, and wander into the GW debate, you’re quite likely to spout some piece of drivel you’ve innocently picked up from some septic blog, and someone who clearly knows much more than you will then tell you “you’re spouting drivel that you’ve picked up from a septic blog”. On the other hand, if you wander over to, say, WUWT you can talk as much drivel as you like and no-one will care; and very likely people will even compliment you on your drivel, especially if its clear that you believe that Al Gore is fat. People like being told that they’re right, and don’t like being told that they’re wrong. Since there is a wide spread ocean of wrong and the islands of right are harder to find, its likely that the lazy folk, always a majority, will get things wrong. And such people are unlikely to be self-disciplined enough to say “hmm, yes, you have a point, I really am a bit ignorant about that”; they’re more likely to surrender to the warm but smelly embrace of the septics.

People have said, quite directly, in comments here (that of course I can’t be bothered to find right now) that they don’t believe what I say because I’m not saying it nicely. Anyone saying such a thing is clearly stupid, but alas not unusual.

Not invented here

A fairish segment of the denialism market has convinced itself that all climate science since Lamb is wrong, and all climatologists corrupt or stupid. And so they wander around re-inventing the wheel, badly. Once they’ve got into that state, pointing them at fairly basic textbooks or papers that do what they’ve just done, but properly, doesn’t trigger a response of “oh yes, we were wrong, thank you for correcting us”. It either triggers embarrassment, if they’re capable or reading the papers, or more likely fury if they discover themselves unable to even understand the basics when explained properly. And so human nature kicks in.

That’s only a small set, of course, because people with enough imagination to invent, or re-invent badly, or even think, are fairly rare. Far more common are the related Dumb America type folks, who approach a complex problem, make the first obvious error that they can see, and then stick vigourously to that error as proof that they won’t succumb to “consensus”. Their rejection of the obvious evidence then becomes self-evidence for their ability to “think”, and so they’re stuck.

A motto of this kind of strand of thought, if you’re interested in mottoes, is that its a pretty good idea not to argue in such a way as to put people’s backs up; because you won’t get them to back down. So calling people “dumb”, “tossers”, “septics” and “denialists” is just bad debating style. Fortunately, I’m not here to convince anyone who doesn’t want to be convinced, so I don’t have to live by those fine rules. People like ATTP or Bart do that kind of thing well, and I admire them for it, but I’m not going to emulate them.

The professionals

[This section added after the first comment.] How embarrassing. I totally forgot this category: those who are simply for hire. Perhaps I can justify forgetting about them, in the context of the question, because the answer is obvious: money. Its not large, numerically, but of course its part of the hard core; and part of their function is to be a core for the weak to coalesce around. They aren’t worth talking to, of course, because they aren’t it to learn, but only for the gold. They’re worth talking at, because of the bystanders.


[Another one I forgot. DB says it quite well in a comment so I won’t re say it.

Don’t overestimate their dedication

Sometimes we take the septics too seriously. Many, well most, of them are lightweights. They’re good for a drive-by blog comment, but not for a sustained argument. They’re good for a quick whinge about wikipedia, but not for the hard slog of trying to write articles that make sense. Are they “hell bent” on anything? Not really, outside a hard core.


* A Look at the ‘Shills,’ ‘Skeptics’ and ‘Hobbyists’ Lumped Together in Climate Denialism – Andy Revkin.
* Time to push back against the global warming Nazis – Dr Roy burns his bridges, and his fanbois compete to see who can make up the naughtiest words.

Peer review

Seldom in the field of human conflict has so much been written by so many people on a subject about which they know nothing. Or so I’d like to hope: in the sense that I’d hope that the denialist chatter about peer review was the nadir. But I do know something about peer review, though my knowledge is 7 years out of date. Nonetheless, I don’t hesitate to comment. If you’re wondering (or I’m wondering, coming back to this later) all this kicks off from the ship of fools nonsense, which has elevated peer review to super-star status for its 15 minutes in the blog-o-light.

For a working scientist, peer review is just part of the job. You write up your work, you show it to your colleagues (if you work somewhere like BAS, its likely mandatory that it gets passed around a bit just to make sure you’re not saying anything really dumb; your division head corrects a couple of typos. If you’re new, this is a really helpful part of the process; if you’re not new then likely the internal review becomes a formality), you send it to the best journal you think you can get away with, and eventually you get the reviews back. These will be a mixture of “please cite my paper” (usually disguised as “you need to consider X”), typos, and the occasional well-considered thoughtful comment that genuinely improves things. You sigh, you happily incorporate the thoughtful stuff, you work out how much of the not-very-helpful stuff you can get away with blowing off, and you resubmit (naturally, I don’t know what happens when someone senior in the field submits, since I never was). And sometimes you get a reviewer who really really doesn’t like your paper for what you regard as invalid reasons, and you have to decide whether to fight to the death or go elsewhere.

For a “skeptic” – many of whom are on display at JoNova – peer review is a process about which they know nothing, except that it produces answers they don’t like (note: for those who read my previous censorship post and didn’t see the update, I’ll say that I was wrong about her site: I’m being allowed to comment freely). What’s probably most striking about that post is the level of ignorance on display: about peer review itself, and how it works, but also about prior art. You’d think that problems with PR had only just been discovered. I did try to point that out but as you’d expect, it fell on stony ground.

Peer review is nothing more than argument from authority and should be considered entirely irrelevant when evaluating the science

Comment #1 at JoNova, by “Truthseeker”. Of course, you know the old proverb: if someone calls themselves Truthseeker, then…”. But anyway: TS’s argument is a very common one: what we really care about is the quality of the science: what do we need a bunch of anonymous gatekeepers for?

rej Weeeellll… there are several answers to this. Let’s start with the most obvious: there’s an avalanche of papers out there, and not enough eyeballs to read them all. Journals like Nature publish less than 10% of what’s submitted (although note they are sifting for (ideally) both high quality and “excitement”; arguably, they veer off to the latter when pushed and may sometimes neglect the former). I found Rejection rates for journals publishing in the atmospheric sciences, from which I’ve taken the figure, and this quote: “Seventy-nine percent of journals have rejection rates of 25%–60%”.

OK, so hopefully you accept that we need some kind of gatekeepers to staunch the flow, but how then do we account for the common notion that peer review improves or proves quality or scientific merit? I have two answers:

* in practice, we find it does. Science is what works, bitches. Compare it to other ways of doing things.
* it doesn’t prove merit. Many many papers languish unread and uncited in reviewed journals. The ultimate test of the worth of your work is whether people choose to read and then build on what you’ve done. All peer review does is help you (the reader) by removing some drivel and pointing you towards some hopefully interesting stuff; and you (the writer) by providing a higher chance of people reading your stuff. There’s a reason people fight like rats in a sack to get their work into Nature, after all.

For a completely opposite approach, we already have full open-access no-peer-review publication: blogs. Anyone can write what they like and reach the entire world (I’m ignoring arXiv, about which I know nothing). Which suffer from the obvious problems.

“Peer-review” is an ENCLOSED system that no one can challenge

Comment #4.2 from Joe Lalonde. If you’re a “skeptic” seeing all your favourites shot down and reduced to producing their own journals, this is likely to seem true. As a normal scientist faced with some silly reviewer who refuses to see it your way and who is mysteriously backed up by the journal editor, it sometimes seems the same. But actually it isn’t.

Example from my own humble oeuvre: On the Consistent Scaling of Terms in the Sea-Ice Dynamics Equation by me and a cast of luminaries. That was initially rejected by not one but two referees. Ref 1 said it was true, but so obviously true that it wasn’t worth publishing. Ref 2 said it was obviously false. We managed to persuade the editor that ref 2 was wrong, but that because of ref 2, ref 1 must also be wrong (you might have hoped that the editor would have noticed this contradiction by himself, but editors are busy people).

And of course, there are already open-review journals. They aren’t in a majority, but they exist.

The other point is that most reviewers have experience of the bastard review system themselves, and can be quite sympathetic.

Anyway: as an outsider, who thinks of themselves as an outsider, and talks to no-one but outsiders, its very easy to get the wrong idea.

The effectiveness, and the desirability, of peer review is negated where a ostensibly scientific subject is politicized

Comment 5.3 by Eric Simpson.

Continuing: If one side ends up controlling peer review, and if that side is pushing for a “cause” that has nothing to do with the science, peer review is worse than worthless. Again, this is what it looks like from the denial-o-sphere: they are all so distant from the real science, that all the scientists look to them to be clustered together. But in reality there is vibrant discourse – well, sometimes. The comment is ill-posed, because the stuff about “sides” doesn’t really work. And there are so so few decent test-cases. I can’t think of a single paper that the “skeptics” can put forward that should have been published, that wasn’t. I suppose they’d retreat to “but the system is so biased against us we don’t even try” sort of paranoia. But that’s just paranoia.

Let the free market review the papers

(this is JoNova’s idea). Hmm, well, maybe. Its easy to forget sometimes that PR has evolved into its current form, and perhaps things have changed. The rise of the internet makes swift and open feedback entirely practical. But what is JN’s programme?

one named editor solely makes the decision to publish, and they can ask advice from reviewers, whomever they should choose. The reputation of that one editor should depend on the value of the papers they pass… They need to be paid, and the best ones, more. Editors are, currently, usually unpaid. They do the work either out of love, or because it reflects credit on their career. Paying them – presumably, significant sums – would change the game (one obvious problem: institutes generally OK people taking time off to edit, because its for the general good, and because they aren’t being paid. If they *were* being paid, that might change). I’d be concerned that editors would then have a (strong, financial) incentive to stuff papers into the journal. Which is the last think you want. I don’t find the rest of her suggestion terribly well thought-out either.

disappointingly, people on that blog haven’t taken up her idea and subjected it to constructive criticism, which is a semi-ironic implicit comment on the entire “skeptic” worldview.

What would you do then?

Pah, you mean in an ideal world or in practice? As I and many many other people have said, addressing the flow at its source would be best: which would mean stop judging people on sheer paper count. But that’s wrapped up in so many things, including the centralisation of decision-making, that its hard to see as realistic.

In practice I think a transition to an open review system would be very helpful, and solve some of the existing problems. That could also include journals listing papers they rejected before review, if you could work out some way around the copyright or priority problems.

[Update: thanks for your comments. I find it fairly amusing that the majority of commenters here are able to say My experience of peer review has been… as opposed to the denial-o-sphere’s fairy tales about what they imagine peer review is like. Of course, since they aren’t in any way restricted by reality, the d-o-s puts in far more comments.]

[Uupdate: see-also VV’s Peer review helps fringe ideas gain credibility.]


* Their own private reality
* Bad Science
* Unless you plan to do something really bad, why do you insists being anonymous?
* Some links from Eli
* Fix the incentive structure and the preprints will follow – David L. Stern
* Peer review: Troubled from the start Alex Csiszar, Nature, 19 April 2016

Ship of fools

Every man and his lagomorph has a post taking the piss out of the “Ship of fools“, so I won’t bother. But (since I seem to have managed to get censored by every denialist blog I try to post on) I thought I’d make a handy list of said blogs and comments. Warning: there’s no useful content anywhere in this post; its all just record-keeping for me.


Also, I do find it tedious when people whinge on about censorship. So I’m a bit reluctant to do so myself. But I’m going to indulge.

In roughly chronological order:

P Gosselin: From “Jewish Science” To “Denier Science”: Copernicus Charade Is Latest Example Of German Intolerance To Alternative Climate Science Explanations

A new entry, 2014/01/18. Calls itself “NoTricksZone” but has clearly got one trick up its sleeve: censoring comments and banning people who voice unpopular opinions.

[Update, 2014/01/28: AFAIK that post is still stuck, but we’re having a moderately sane discussion at Backfire! Eminent Physicist Calls Attempted Journal Suppression A Throwback To “Inquisition And Books Burning”!, so perhaps its time to review my opinion.

And indeed, now peace has broken out so I have no complaint at this time.]

No, I’m

> You aren’t the keepers of the truth

Agreed. But what has that got to do with you pretending that a bunch
of no-hopers are “among the most esteemed in the field”?

> Collectively they have published in the neighborhood of 1000 scientific papers, an immense contribution to the field

I’m dubious – care to share your source for that “1000″?

(currently snipped here (archived) with “[snip – I don’t take comments from no-hopers who are “among the most esteemed in the field”. So how does it feel to be censored, Dr. Connelly…climate modeler who could not get a single model to work? Don’t bother commenting here in the future.]”)

The “1000”, BTW, is his claim for the total publications. Morner, apparently, claims more than 500. Anyone have a good source for that?

Tallbloke: Breaking: Pattern Recognition in Physics Axed by Copernicus

> You’ve failed to discuss any science and have descended to ad hom insults, so out you go.

There’s hardly any discussion of science in any of these comments. And
if you think pointing out a certain asymmetry in comment approval is
insulting, you have a thin skin. Still,I’m sure you’ll find a reason
for censorship if you need one.

> I’ll post the screencaps of my comments you’ve censored on your blog another day.

Oh come, why wait? But make sure it isn’t or or cos they’re all published.

Note: having checked, I can’t see any comments from “tallbloke” that didn’t get published. So my suspicion is that he is “dramatically diverting” (sixth of the Techniques). But we’ll see.

[Update: Over at NoFreeSpeechZone TB stirringly but perhaps with a certain lack of self-awareness asserts that “Censorship has to be fought”. I put in a comment pointing out the anomaly, but I’m not holding my breath.]

Jo Nova: Science paper doubts IPCC, so whole journal gets terminated!

[Update: JN responds in the comments. And I respond to her and… my comment appears. That’s good. No meeting of minds so far but I’m happy to say that all my comments are getting through.]

I don’t have an exact copy of the comment, but I pointed out that she had mysteriously failed to include

In addition, the editors selected the referees on a nepotistic basis, which we regard as malpractice in scientific publishing and not in accordance with our publication ethics we expect to be followed by the editors.

in her quote from the cessation notice. Its nice that she subsequently included the text via update, though it would have been nicer had she acked me as the source of her revelation.

Dr* Bob tisdale: I’m Retiring from Full-Time Climate Change Blogging

> *You are a Ph. D. de facto; Einstein’s doctorate from Oxford was “honorary.”

Einstein had an earned doctorate from Zurich:

> B(nT):

Oh come now. You can’t possibly imagine that NSF would fund this stuff, can you?

And as for cowardly: here I am. Under my real name, not hiding as anon.

(suppressed at


Of course. No post about censorship would be complete without WUWT. Self-proclaimed harbour for free debate, but in fact ruthlessly moderated. I got banned in 2012 but after the lulz of Dr* Bob, he couldn’t resist a whinge: RealClimate Co-Founder Exposes His Inability to Grasp Complex Subjects. Since that was explictly about me, I was allowed to post some comments: how jolly. But alas for the Watties, they didn’t do very well against me, and it became necessary to suppress me. The accusation that I was refusing to debate them, while they were suppressing my attempts to talk, was particularly Orwellian.

> you finally suggested that E Prof. Lindzen

Still gnawing that bone? No, I haven’t suggested here that “E Prof” is
the correct way to refr to L. You said that.

On M’s troubles with Galileo: it turns out that the full text of his
condemnation is online for all to read:

As you’ll see, M is hopelessly wrong.

> no name calling

Review the comments here. The “name calling” is overwhelmingly from
you lot. I’m not complaining – it makes you look silly.

> while never committing to anything

As I’ve said, I’ll commit to debating with M: all you need to do is
stop censoring my comments in that thread and we can debate. As to
your proposed debate, the problem is that you’re too cowardly to even
mention your toy offer to him. You guys are all fake slavering for a
debate, but its you that’s preventing the debate happening.

> RichardLH says: January 12, 2014 at 6:31 am Not banned so much as it would appear from your contributions on this thread at least.

But now you do realise that this thread is the exception, no? My
comments to other threads are censored.

The “that thread” stuff, BTW, is Monckton being really very silly indeed but I’ve already done that. Comments to that thread were rigourously suppressed, here’s one:

> Professor Lindzen.

Lindzen isn’t a prof. He’s emeritus.

> Actually, Galileo was wrong.

That one is definitely going in the quote-books, long after the rest
of this article is forgotten.

> Damages will be huge.

No they won’t. Firstly, because L won’t sue, he isn’t stupid.
Secondly, because if he did the case would be thrown out – nothing
here raises to the level of libel, even if proved true, which they
wouldn’t be.

> Sooner or later we are going to have to take someone to court

Mann is doing that. Oddly, no-one here seems to be keen for that day
in court to happen.


I’ve also been suppressed at Dr Roy Spencer’s, and Climate Etc., but since I wasn’t expecting that I didn’t bother keep copies; it was months ago anyway. Ter be honest I did push Dr Roy a bit (this one got through, it was a later one that died).


* Alleging ‘Malpractice’ With Climate Skeptic Papers, Publisher Kills Journal-slashdot
* WUWT and Co. not interested in my slanted opinion, part II

The British political establishment seems to be moving more towards climate change denial, which is worse than the previous stance of acknowledging the problem while doing virtually nothing to address it?

My, what a long title. But its a quote from RN in a comment on my IPCC 5th Assessment Review post.

And since this butts head on into something I’ve been thinking for a while, but not said, I’ll write it down. Don’t call me too bitter or cynical, please. And just for the moment, don’t demand references either – this is all stream of thought.

So: for a number of years now, starting at some unknown point – possibly around Cameroon’s ridiculous dancing-with-huskies moment, but most likely more nebulous and earlier – the British political scene went soppy green. Windmills sprouted, solar panels were subsidised, and commitments made – and even passed into law – to decarbonise the economy, with no apparent thought to the cost. I was baffled. Not only were people speaking some of the right words, sometimes even in the right order and at the right times, they were making what appeared to be hard commitments. But what they weren’t really doing was making it clear who was going to pay for it all, which I found worrying. That is, in the end, the acid test. Which we failed.

For when “hard” times came – and, having wandered today around the heart of Cambridge Christmas shopping, those times are really not very hard at all – suddenly even rather minor pledges to pay started to look expensive and the pols started backing off. The most obvious sign of this is the “green levy” or whatever its called, put on fuel bills to pay for the likes of rooftop solar panels. We got some solar panels but I was never really clear who was paying the bills – the money comes from the power companies (or will, when we get round to finishing off the forms) – but obviously these companies aren’t going to give away money for free. I had assumed it was govt (i.e., our tax) money being recycled, somehow. But no! it turns out to be a levy on everyone’s energy bills. And when bills are going up and the supposedly-reticent-and-stuff-upper-lip-but-actually-as-whiney-as-everyone-else Brits see increased fuel bills (presuambly at least some people do read their fuel bills) and ask “why are they going up” and the govt shamelessly tries to blame it on evil fuel companies, then naturally the companies fight back and throw mud in the water with “no! its your green levy wot did it” and suddenly govt support just melts away.

Get to the point

Anyway, back to my point: during the “long” boom up to, whenever, 2007, when we all felt rich and expansive, the public said they wanted greenery and the pols said “yeah!” But it was shallow. No-one thought much about the cost – well, economist types thought about costs, but economists are dull so who’s going to listen to them? Certainly no-one cool.

Public opinion wasn’t prepared for costs-vs-benefits, and suddenly costs matter again. The pols bow to the wind. In a way I’m pleased – the previous policy consensus smacked rather too much of fairyland. It was untested by any real opposition. The opposition now is facile and unthinking, if they’re dumb enough to think that attacking the IPCC is a good idea. But if the good guys can’t beat off idiots like that, how are they going to cope against competent opponents that are sane enough to look at the weak spots, rather than the strong points?


Minister to admit failure on key climate change emissions target – me 2006.

The Magnificent Disinformation Engine

A better title for this post would be “cite your sources” but I need to mirror The Magnificent Climate Heat Engine at WUWT. Guess what? Just a few days after totally missing the importance of heat transport within the climate system WE has finally noticed it. WE read my posts, of course, because several people pointed him at them in the WUWT comments, although he was careful not to engage with those. So he’s managed to learn something from me, which is good, but doesn’t have the basic honesty to acknowledge that, which is effectively plagiarism, which is expected.

Naturally, he doesn’t link this back to his previous post, because to do that would be to point out that his new discovery has totally destroyed his previous, which would be embarrassing. It will be interesting to see if any of the commentators there are both awake and bold.

Energy and Climate Change committee: new inquiry: IPCC 5th Assessment Review

So, da UK Energy and Climate Change committee is having an “inquiry” into IPCC 5th Assessment Review. I’m not sure why. This will be a review of a review, which could itself be reviewed, which will end in endless regress? More likely it will fizzle away into nothing. Myles Allen appears to be suggesting that the ctte are bozos (not in so many words, of course. That would be unparliamentary. Instead, he says things like the thrust of the committee’s questions does raise concerns that the committee has allowed itself to be misled in this regard or As an aside, it seems strange to ask about the economic implications of a report that is explicitly and exclusively focused on Physical Science or This question is so broad that almost any answer is possible), which may well be correct. Myles has several other rather sensible things to say, many of which reflect my concerns. For example:

The problem with IPCC’s response to criticisms of previous assessments is that the focus has been entirely on formalizing procedures, whereas the reports ultimately depend on the collective scientific judgment of IPCC authors and reviewers.

This chimes with things I’ve said – or perhaps just thought – before; and not just about the IPCC, but about life in general.

One shouldn’t take this “inquiry” too seriously. This is the sort of things pols do as part of living and breathing. For example, they’re having an inquiry into the Outcomes of Warsaw COP 19, an event so pointless that I didn’t even bother to mock it.

You can read the written submissions. Aaaaaanndd the result is: everyone has said exactly what you’d expect them to say. Some usual nutters say the usual things – bonus points for the Star Trek analogy though. Its always helpful for a committee like this, with lots of stuff to wade through, for people to write “yes, I really am a nutter” in bold type right up front, so they can ignore you more conveniently.

I can’t say I read much of it. There are fewer responses than might be expected – I suspect that many people didn’t take it seriously. I did read one of the less usual folk – Professor (aside: prof? According to the EPS he is a humble Dr, and is retired. Which wouldn’t be odd, because he’s 85 years old) Pierre Darriulat – who said (when he isn’t saying A good guide to make such a critical review is the NIPCC report; fortunately, he’s not dumb enough to say that twice):

To what extent does AR5 reflect the range of views among climate scientists? While it is easy to find a vast majority of scientists who consider that evaluating the potential danger of an excessive (whatever it means) emission of C02 is of utmost importance, they will usually recognize that our current knowledge prevents making reliable predictions and they will not see it as urgent to take decisions. However, in most cases, on the basis of their relying on the precautionary principle, they would mostly be for considering seriously ways to limit in the long term, our C02 emissions. They will agree that no decision should be taken under pressure, but should take due consideration for economic, financial, social and geopolitical considerations for which they do not claim particular competence (other than as ordinary citizens).

I’ve pulled this out not because its interesting in itself, but because it does the usual: fails to answer the question, and instead veers off into the responders pet obsession: in this case, not science, but policy.

But enough fluff. What of reality?

I’m glad you asked. All this chatter reflecting the blogospheric world doesn’t reflect the real world. In which we get responses like:

* The fundamental consensus on climate change science has not changed, and there is overwhelming evidence that supports the causal link between human activity, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and climate change.
* Climate change is a global issue, and so international collective action will be critical in driving an efficient and equitable response on the scale required to meet our climate challenges.
* EDF Energy agrees with the statement made by the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change at the IPCC launch event on 1st October 2013 that the Fifth Assessment Report “…should be a catalyst to renew efforts and meet the challenge head on.”

(Written evidence submitted by EDF Energy (IPC0043)).


* How robust are the conclusions in the AR5 Physical Science Basis report? The Government considers that the conclusions of the AR5 Physical Science Basis report are robust. The report was produced by over 850 independent expert scientists, all leaders in their fields (209 Lead Authors, 50 Review Editors and Over 600 Contributing Authors). The report took over 2 years to produce and underwent multiple rounds of expert review. It was also reviewed by the 194 governments which form the IPCC. They have all accepted the findings.
* To what extent does AR5 reflect the range of views among climate scientists? The Government understands that the IPCC Working Group I Report assessed all relevant peer-reviewed climate research and modelling undertaken since 2007. As already noted the report was produced by over 850 independent expert scientists from all over the world, many being leaders in their fields (209 Lead Authors, 50 Review Editors and Over 600 Contributing Authors). Then the author teams considered the comments of 1000 reviewers. The report reflects any lack of consensus through the use of confidence levels throughout. Thus, the Government is confident that the assessment takes into account the full range of the wealth of recent research and the conclusions of its authors, plus the full range of views of climate scientists, because of the thorough and open review process.

(Written evidence submitted by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (IPC0025)). Note, BTW, that the govt is intelligent enough to actually answer the question.

Or, put another way, “Piss off pygmies”.

Meanwhile, at the Keeling Curve

You’ll note the button for “support the Keeling Curve”. This, too, I haven’t investigated in detail (can the US Govt really be not continuing this stuff? That would be mad. Even Bush didn’t do that) but Eli assures me its a good thing.

Review of a review of The Climate Casino

Prompted by PB I read Gambling with Civilization by Paul Krugman, which is a review of The Climate Casino: Risk, Uncertainty, and Economics for a Warming World by William D. Nordhaus. I haven’t read the latter.

The Climate Casino is in no sense the work of someone skeptical about either the reality of global warming or the need to act now. He more or less ridicules claims that climate change isn’t happening or that it isn’t the result of human activity. And he calls for strong action: his best estimate of what we should be doing involves placing a substantial immediate tax on carbon, one that would sharply increase the current price of coal, and gradually raising that tax, more than doubling it by 2030

And so I want to know, “how strong is this strong action”? A carbon tax is good, obviously, but Shirley Nordhaus is a touch more specific than “sharply increase the current price of coal”, so why can’t Krugman be? K continues Some might consider even this policy inadequate… to which the obvious answer is: “how can I possibly know whether its adequate or not, you bozo, unless you tell me how big this tax is?”

K continues:

it turns out that the rate at which you discount the distant future doesn’t make much difference to optimal policy

Well, that’s fascinating, and rather surprising. Especially given all the fuss over Stern’s numbers – an insight like that would be a major change to the discourse. Obviously K will go on and tell us how this comes about. Ha ha, fooled you – or more likely I didn’t – K just notes this point and moves on. WTF?

K says that N says “there will be mounting costs as the temperature rise goes beyond 2°C”. Again, this is irritatingly vague, and it isn’t clear if there are costs, but they go up sharply post-2°C, or if small net benefits turn into costs post-2°C. Perhaps its not desperately important: the focus is on large changes; and anyway, N isn’t trying to say anything startlingly original at this point. K/N both agree that the std.textbook_method for dealing with emissions is pricing emissions, and are happy with “a carbon tax and/or cap-and-trade”. N says direct regulation is a poor choice; K acknowledges that, but then in his own voice half-argues for regulating coal-fired power stations, on the grounds of political feasability. I’m dubious, as before.

What’s our target for limiting T rise? [Note that there is some dissonance between that question and a carbon tax, which K doesn’t mention, so I don’t know if K does.] “The scientific rationale for the 2°C target is not really very scientific” says N, but you can sense that K doesn’t really like this.

K wonders who is the target for N’s book. As he says, all the sane folk already agree, and the wackos aren’t about to be convinced by rational argument. There is, of course, a failure in self-referentiality there, because one could say exactly the same thing of K’s review. Given his disappointing vagueness about rather important details, its clearly not intended for the numerate.

Common People

“For twenty terces I phrase the answer in clear and actionable language; for ten I use the language of cant, which occasionally admits of ambiguity; for five, I speak a parable which you must interpret as you will; and for one terce, I babble in an unknown tongue.”

[Update: there’s a better version at (thanks cm). As to the point – I really didn’t think I was being subtle. Its a reference to the discussion we ended up in at]

Mann vs Muller

Michael Mann has an article in the HuffPo, Something Is Rotten at the New York Times. He’s complaining about the ill-informed views of Koch Brothers-funded climate change contrarian Richard Muller which is language that would normally put me off. But in this case I looked, and Muller’s A Pause, Not an End, to Warming does seem rather objectionable.

Some of it is just a mixed bag:

My analysis is different. Berkeley Earth, a team of scientists I helped establish, found that the average land temperature had risen 1.5 degrees Celsius over the past 250 years. Solar variability didn’t match the pattern; greenhouse gases did.

That’s him blowing his trouser trumpet. As everyone knows, the major feature of BEST was that it was boring. In the sense that it produced the same answers as everyone else. Muller’s implication that “Solar variability didn’t match the pattern; greenhouse gases did” is a result from his stuff is just drivel. But, at least he does acknowledge it as a result.

But it gets worse:

As for the recent plateau, I predicted it, back in 2004. Well, not exactly.

No, not at all. What Muller “predicted” was Suppose… future measurements in the years 2005-2015 show a clear and distinct global cooling trend. (It could happen.) He didn’t predict anything, he merely made a supposition; and the thing he supposed hasn’t happened. Apparently, to him, “that’s close enough” (if a clear cooling trend is close enough to a pause, then a clear warming trend must be close enough to a pause, so by Muller’s own logic he has nothing to write about).

But the bit where it really gets silly is:

If we mistakenly took the hockey stick seriously — that is, if we believed that natural fluctuations in climate are small…

which makes no sense at all. Muller was suckered by the septics waay back, and in 2004 wrote Global Warming Bombshell: A prime piece of evidence linking human activity to climate change turns out to be an artifact of poor mathematics. That was wrong then, and wrong now, but Muller is clinging to it. Not only is the fundamental point of his 2004 piece wrong, but the conclusion he pulls from nowhere – that the Hockey Stick implies natural fluctuations are small – is drivel too.

[Update: just to make that last point more clearly: what Muller is burbling about is the “the [MBH] Hockey Stick shows less variability than other reconstructions” idea. See for example And there is truth to that. But there is no truth to the idea that the Hockey Stick in any way contradicts decadal-scale fluctuations; indeed its obvious from the graph that Muller displays in his 2004 piece that these exists. So I really don’t understand what he’s been smoking.]