This is a guest post by Richard Drake.
Three minor things went wrong when I attempted to take part in a debate called Has the media failed science? at Imperial College London last Thursday, as advertised on Bishop Hill six days before. One was that the event ran for two hours, not one, as advertised. This helped to make interaction feasible but had a bad impact on what I'd planned for the rest of the evening! Second, no wireless internet connection was provided for those not at the university or in UK academia generally. Third ... well, the third was quite amusing and humour may be in short supply here so it'll keep for later. There were more serious flaws, the biggest of which was that the debate was not a debate. It was a media love-fest, as one of the audience rightly said in the Q&A.
The Guardian interviews Berkeley's Richard Muller about his new surface temperature record. This is a really interesting article on several levels. Firstly, it manages to mention sceptical views without denigrating them and manages to take on board Muller's support for some parts of the sceptical case without seeing him as the devil incarnate:
[For Muller to] concede that climate sceptics raise fair criticisms means acknowledging that scientists and government agencies have got things wrong, or at least could do better. But the debate around global warming is so highly charged that open discussion, which science requires, can be difficult to hold in public. At worst, criticising poor climate science can be taken as an attack on science itself, a knee-jerk reaction that has unhealthy consequences. "Scientists will jump to the defence of alarmists because they don't recognise that the alarmists are exaggerating," Muller says.
There are also some fascinating details of the new record - it will not be a gridded series, but will weight series according to how reliable they are.
Publishing an extensive set of temperature records is the first goal of Muller's project. The second is to turn this vast haul of data into an assessment on global warming. Here, the Berkeley team is going its own way again. The big three groups – Nasa, Noaa and the Met Office – work out global warming trends by placing an imaginary grid over the planet and averaging temperatures records in each square. So for a given month, all the records in England and Wales might be averaged out to give one number. Muller's team will take temperature records from individual stations and weight them according to how reliable they are.
Exciting times, I would say.
The Irish Greens have apparently been annihilated in the country's elections, with the party losing all of its six seats.
Nothing like a bit of recession to concentrate minds on economic realities.
(H/T Don Pablo)
Booker looks at the involvement of the reinsurance industry in keeping the global warming thing alive, and quotes favourably from Willis Eschenbach's article at WUWT on the subject of Nature's recent article purporting to link flooding to global warming (which I confess I missed, but will now devote some time to).
When your results represent the output of four computer models, fed into a fifth computer model, whose output goes to a sixth computer model, which is calibrated against a seventh computer model, and then your results are compared to a series of different results from the fifth computer model, but run with different parameters, in order to show that flood risks have increased from greenhouse gases…” you cannot pretend that this is “a valid representation of reality”, let alone “a sufficiently accurate representation of reality to guide our future actions”.
You may remember that my Climategate Inquiries report was recently translated into Italian, and was published by a Turin-based think tank. Today I picked up my name being mentioned on Italian blog and I decided to get a machine translation. It was well worth it, because this must be one of the funniest pieces about my work to date.
The author appears to be a science writer and journalist called Mark F. Let's take a look at what he has to say - this is a machine translation tidied up by me. I think it's right though...
I very much enjoyed last night's lecture by Rob Wilson and it was good to have a couple of chats with him, both before and after the talk. I found him both charming and very engaging. He even gave my own lecture a plug, which was very kind.
Although aimed at a lay audience, Rob managed to squeeze a lot of science into the talk, and I particularly enjoyed the bits about non-climatological uses of tree rings, which is not an area I knew much about.
The press may be reporting that the Commerce Department investigation has given NOAA a clean bill of health, but Senator Inhofe is not so sure. In a press release yesterday he suggested that further investigation is required:
I want to thank the Inspector General for conducting a thorough, objective, and balanced investigation," Inhofe said. "NOAA is one of the nation's leading scientific organizations. Unfortunately, in reading past the executive summary, this report shows that some NOAA employees potentially violated federal contract law and engaged in data manipulation. It also appears that one senior NOAA employee possibly thwarted the release of important federal scientific information for the public to assess and analyze. Her justification for blocking the release was contradicted by two career attorneys in the Office of General Counsel. This is no doubt a serious matter that deserves further investigation.
"Also, the IG recommended that certain NOAA-related emails ‘warrant further investigation,' so I will be following up to ensure taxpayer dollars are being spent according to federal law, and that the public will get access to the science NOAA produces."
Steve Connor, the science editor of the Independent has published an email exchange with Freeman Dyson. I was more struck by what Connor said than Dyson's thoughts. This for example:
As you know these [climate] models are used by large, prestigious science organisations such as Nasa, NOAA and the Met Office, which use them to make pretty accurate predictions about the weather every day. The scientists who handle these models point out that they can accurately match up the computer predictions to real climatic trends in the past, and that it is only when they add CO2 influences to the models that they can explain recent global warming.
And how are the predictions made by these models turning out, Mr Connor?
There is a climate conference this weekend at Edinburgh. Speakers include Gabi Hegerl.
The programme can be seen here. It looks to me like a "gee up the activists" kind of thing, so I don't think I will be missing much.
(H/T Cameron by email)