Counting animals: written in blood?

Interesting article from The Economist science section about establishing the presence of shy animals in rainforests by examining leech blood.

A highlight comes from one of my relatives:

They also found genetic material from the… small-toothed ferret-badger, which is (apparently) impossible to distinguish from the related Burmese ferret-badger without getting close enough to handle it.

Comic edition

It has rained quite a bit recently.


I did go down from the bridge and give them a hand in, you realise. In other news…

* Adventures in Vim!
* Pointless resentment – one for all the people who would rather criticise than help
* Swan reveals bone-breaking technique – about Mr Asbo if you hadn’t realised. He even has a facebook page.
* Hitler was a vegetarian etc. etc., you know how it goes.
* TCBC – Total Eclipse of the Heart


I’ve given up calling it “yet yet more misc” as I’ve forgotten where I’ve got to. So, in no particular order:

In war you will generally find that the enemy has at any time three courses of action open to him. Of those three, he will invariably choose the fourth

via Schneier. Which reminds me of We don’t even know how many legs he’s got.

The Policy Lass is sick of arguing with stupid people. Anyone who has been to WUWT and the comment threads there will empathise. It is all a hopeless morass of nonsense; it cannot be fixed, only risen above. And indeed (as I’ve tried to tell them) the science just goes on without them. But I’ll still visit occaisionally in case there is anyone there who wants to listen.

DA notes another court case in Mann’s favour; weird stuff indeed over there. Will America be brought down by the weight of parasitic lawyers? You’re heading that way.

Its fun to know that hobbyists are playing with our old chips. Thats very hard to do without the specs, which of course aren’t public.

RC has a post about the dangers of extrapolating from PIOMASS, concluding Until then, we believe, we need to let science run its course and let previous model-based predictions of somewhere between “2040 and 2100″ stand. Which reminds me its about time to look at the ice again; not that I have any new ideas.

Then there was the wildly exciting Shakun stuff, about CO2/T lead-lags during the last deglaciation. This wound the Watties up no end (there was a whole tedious series of posts) because it is an article of faith with them that (a) T preceeds CO2 and (b) this actually matters. (a) is the interesting science, but (b) is wrong, if you mean in anything but a rhetorical sense. But we’re back to arguing with stupid people, so lets not.

But inevitably that’s where news is. “Dr” Roy Spencer isn’t stupid, but some of his ideas are. Most notably, his idea that all his ideas are wonderful, but the Giant Global Climate Conspiracy is conspiring to prevent publication, so he’ll just put it on blogs instead with no review. Which is a really bad idea. His latest is yet another retread of the-temperature-record-is-all-wrong (actually he seems to have two incompatible versions, each incompatible with his own satellite record, but this doesn’t trouble him). No-one seems to care enough to rip it apart properly; NS has a go.

Tamino looks at some more stats and finds them woefully bad. I remember doing Fourier analysis and being surprised by the statistical properties of the spectrum. But I did at least get it right before publishing.

Well. Bill Gray. As he says, “Frozen in Time”. His Homage to the Heartland Institute is weird, srsly Weird. I assume it must be ghost-written, but still its got his name on: We should all be grateful for the Heartland Institute and for its Nobel Mission to bring enlightenment and truth to the Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) question. “Nobel Mission”? Does he mean “noble mission”? Or are they on a mission to get a Noble prize – that would be so far beyond a joke as to be incomprehensible. And why the caps? Well, its probably just a doddery old man being swindled by the septics; sad.

And DA has some nice quotes re the shallowness of the likes of Dyson when they try to talk about climate science.


* Rapid coupling of Antarctic temperature and atmospheric CO2 during deglaciation
* HadCRAP4

Climate scientists not cowed by relentless climate change deniers

Nice article in physicstoday.

Other stuff

* Wiley coverup: The great Wegman and Said “redo” to hide plagiarism and errors – the Wegman stuff keeps rumbling on. Wegman reminds me of the TSA guy here – what he says isn’t believeable, but he has powerful organisations propping him up, because having him admit error would be embarrassing.
* Hansen Wins – Wabbett sez the US is going to require any new power plant to emit no more than 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt of electricity produced. That would be a good result, but the wrong way to do it. The right way is a carbon tax, not an arbitrary limit.


Various things that I meant to write about, but didn’t, until too late. Happily, everyone else has now said most of them.

His transgression cannot be condoned, regardless of his motives – JEB, quoting Michael McPhaden being a bit po-faced about Gleick. This almost turned into a discussion on the philosophy of science with SE’s comment: Science works not because we trust each other, but precisely because we don’t trust each other, and we’re continuously finding and addressing the weaknesses in each other’s work. I don’t know about you, but I think most of my colleagues are deficient in intellectual rigor, truthfulness and integrity.

Totally unrelated, but if you row in Eastern England you want to come to the Head of the Cam, April 28th. Speaking of which, the crew I stroked came 4th in the Novice VIII’s category in the Winter League. I’m hoping to be not-a-novice by the time I’m too old to row, though many people retire virgin.

There was a long trail of deep stupidity (what else?) at WUWT about sea ice; Tamino took them to pieces in three parts: I, II and III. I joined in over at WUWT for part III but they weren’t really playing: Jeff Condon barely even attempted to defend his stuff, and had no answer to me pointing out that other people have done a far better job of defining first-year ice – and it doesn’t involve an arbitrary latitude.

Not to be outdone, Willis Eschenbach then proceeded to make Curry look good, by attempting to criticise a paper of hers, but making it painfully clear in the process that he hadn’t read it (its the one about recent-snowy-winters, which he misread as recent-increases-in-total-snow-extent; I’m vaguely interested in this as I have anecdotal evidence for enhanced snow over the last, say, 5+ years here).

The image I used above came from Tar Sands vs. Coal at ClimateSight.

Meanwhile, on the subject of plagiarism, Science has a story about an ecologist having nicked someone else’s words. That came via RetractionWatch, which usually covers medical stuff, but also covered Wegman recently.

Update: just in (thanks RN) is A view of climate “on the ground” from a reporter who was there at the beginning:

I worked as a journalist in the late 1980s in Colorado… I clearly remember the tone of articles on global warming during the 1980s. Most of the concern came out of the National Center for Atmospheric Research… The problem with NCAR’s interpretation on the ozone fluctuations were that some, like Hanson, took an immediate ideological tone to explain the ozone shifts – not once mentioning the Sun or the Interplanetary Magnetic Field effect on Earth’s ozone layers. For some reason, there was a resistance to even mentioning the Sun’s effects on earth by these new climate scientists getting jobs at the science agencies. It was odd I thought.

He can’t tell his ozone hole from his global warming. This is heavy-grade stupidity. And WUWT have fallen for it. Just in case you’re in any doubt:

in short, when I wrote pieces on the climate, I refused to write on the theory that chlorofluorocarbons were the sole cause of worldwide warming because that had never been proved


And I nearly forgot: Lindzen: what a lying toad, eh? [Update: but he has now apologised. Mind you, he is still wrong – the dataset URLs were different.]


* So, is it a fake?
* HBOS and the banking crash

Common software engineering terms

Pony – something that the customer wants, and which might even make sense, but isn’t going to get done within your timescales. Might get done later.
Unicorn – Like a pony, but doesn’t actually make sense, so will never be done.
Zombiecorn – Like a unicorn, but it won’t die, no matter how often you prove that it won’t work.

But that is a very short post, so in no clear order:

Nitpicking others’ arguments is not the same thing as “critical thinking.” That involves nitpicking your own arguments.

from Bickmore’s Laws updates.

Timmy is amusing on The Great Norwegian Butter Famine. I’m not going to mention Durban, because it was a complete waste of time, as I said some time ago. Instead, I want Carbon tax Now! If you want to read someone more positive, try David Hone.

Mike Rose is having fun in Antarctica. The two Norwegians heading off into the wilds in search of butter look lonely.


* Http status cats

Old news

DSC_8658-stained-glass_xform_crop The comments over at More Misc are trailing off, but I am (as ever) astonished by peoples’ desire to have the last word. Let it never be said that KK is uncontroversial. Still, what more could he ask? So, time for something else.

I didn’t comment on Al Gore’s latest (did I?) or even watch it, but David Hone has what look like some perceptive comments.

I’m beginning to get google circle spam in unmanagable amounts: too many X’s are adding me to their circles, and I can no long bother check them all out, let alone reciprocate. Still, I did find Climate Deniers Campaign Against the BBC Backfires. Yes, it is old, like me.

In other old news, the UK shale gas find made the news over here and the blogs. That links somewhat to the maybe gas is as bad as coal idea, which I find dubious (but haven’t worked through yet). Various people don’t want to use the gas and the Grauniad reports Chris Huhne with: The UK’s “dash for gas” will be halted by the government because if unchecked it would break legally binding targets for carbon dioxide emissions, Chris Huhne, energy and climate change secretary, said on Monday evening. That seems weird to me because (pace Cornell) switching to gas is better than coal (certainly if measured in terms of CO2 emissions, which is the legally binding bit). However what he actually said was “We will not consent so much gas plant so as to endanger our carbon dioxide goals” which is ever so slightly different, and could be consistent with approving lots more gas. Apart from anything else, we could extract and sell it to johnny foreigner. Or then again, if the gas were too cheap to meter (ahem) it would make CCS economic. Curiously enough, Timmy in April had a rather different perspective. I’m very dubious that our so-called legally binding CO2 targets are meaningful, anyway.

And a sop: Erasing false balance: the right is more antiscience than the left.

[Update: on the gas-vs-coal: the thing I didn’t look at closely was how much Wigley’s numbers depend on aerosols from coal. I assume, a lot. But going forward, that is unlikely to be true: we just couldn’t increase coal use that much without cleaning it up a lot.]


* Coal to gas: the influence of methane leakage CLIMATIC CHANGE Volume 108, Number 3, 601-608, DOI: 10.1007/s10584-011-0217-3, 2011.
* Press Release: CMU Researchers Find Fewer Greenhouse Gas Emissions From Controversial Drilling at Marcellus Shale Sites Statewide
* Alberta leads Canada in Fight Against Global Warming