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Has Global Warming increased the toll of disasters?

This report on the debate between Pielke Jnr, Ward and Muir-Wood at the Royal Institution is by Josh, the cartoonist whose work has been adorning this site recently.

The Royal Institution has all the academic grandeur you would expect but its decor is up to date and, in a word, posh. The RI website reassuringly says "..although this event is held on a Friday...there is no dress code". The discussion was held in their old lecture theatre, with its steep seats and kitted out with excellent sound, projectors, and very comfy seats. You could imagine the room hearing Michael Faraday 150 years ago - this time it was Roger Pielke Jr.

I am a scientific and medical artist and the notes I take are visual, usually in the form of cartoons, a few of which I include here. This post will just be some overall impressions of the evening as you can listen to all the finer points on the RI website.

James Renderson chaired what was billed as a 'debate'. He got off to a bad start.

Click to read more ...


The shorter Guardian

Climatologists are not scientists. People who said so are evil.






State-run banks

Now that the Royal Bank of Scotland is in government control, the public can be sure that the rough edges of capitalism will be smoothed off and a more gentle caring approach will be taken to debts.

INDEPENDENT Anger as RBS pulls plug on girls’ school




Sir David King, conspiracy theorist

Sir David King says that some climate scientists have been overstating things:

Some science we stand on as totally solid and valuable but when we do it with something as complex as climate change we can get ourselves into difficulties so I am very annoyed with some of my colleagues for not following the scientific process," he said. "I have been irritated by some of my colleagues who have overstated the science.

It's funny, but I can't think of a single occasion on which Sir David has spoken of these concerns before, but I guess it's good to know now.

But the remarkable thing about King's interview is that he doesn't seem to have learned the lesson of his earlier utterances about foreign intelligence services being behind the climategate leak/hack, again bringing up national security as an issue for consideration in the climate debate:

He even suggested that British intelligence may have knowledge of who is behind the campaign.

"It is a security issue. We are talking about something that the British Government among others believes is putting our people at risk".

I was talking to an off-duty policeman in the pub last night, trying to get a perspective on why the National Domestic Extremism Team might be involved in the climategate investigation.  He thought the "nothing better to do" explanation was possible, but was also attracted to the "policing-overkill-covers-backsides" theory. And having now read Sir David's comments, I wonder if he's right. If the people in power in London are going to tie themselves up in conspiracy theories over the motley band of global warming sceptics being funded by vested interests and foreign powers then it's hardly surprising when anti-terrorist forces are used to against concerned, but law-abiding citizens.



Darrel Ince gets it

Darrel Ince, a professor of computing at the Open University "gets it".

Many climate scientists have refused to publish their computer programs. I suggest is that this is both unscientific behaviour and, equally importantly, ignores a major problem: that scientific software has got a poor reputation for error.



Daily Mail on Dennis

The Daily Mail has picked up on the Paul Dennis non-story.

Isn't it strange how a comment written here nearly a month ago has suddenly gained legs as an MSM story, and even after it's been pointed out that it's a non-story, the MSM are still following it up.

As an aside, the Mail mentions me, but not Bishop Hill or the book. But they've had no biscuits at all, so this is not unreasonable.



BBC One World podcast

Reader and sometime guest commenter Andrew K has passed this link on - a BBC podcast featuring interviews with David Holland and the acting head of CRU, Peter Liss.

I haven't had a chance to listen to it yet, but it sounds like good stuff. The programme can be obtained here.



Paul Dennis in the comments

Paul Dennis has clarified his role in the UEA leak in the comments to the previous thread.

He wasn't involved. Everybody calm down!



A mention in the Guardian

The Guardian has a short piece by David Leigh et al on the police investigation into the Climategate emails.  Leigh has picked up on the comment left on this site by UEA's Paul Dennis, a climatologist who has a much less antagonistic approach to sceptics than his colleagues in CRU. Dennis had commented that he had been interviewed by police.

Here's the bit where I get a mention:

Dennis has now posted an account of his police interview at a British website run by a sceptic accountant, Andrew Montford. He told Montford's blog, called Bishop Hill: "They thought I might have some information on the basis that I had sent [Condon] a copy of a paper I had published on isotopes and climate at the southern end of the Antarctic Peninsula … and I had exchanged emails with Steve McIntyre over the leak/hack.

As you can see, they missed out the important bit, namely the words "and the author of a very excellent book on the Hockey Stick affair".

David Leigh interviewed me a couple of weeks back, and I was careful to cram him full of biscuits and the finest filter coffee that money can buy. And not a mention of the book, not a mention!

Chocolate biscuits next time, I think.



Spectator article now online

Matt Ridley's piece in the Spectator is available here.


Climate bloggers in the Speccy

Followers of the climate blogs may want to get hold of a copy of the Spectator this week. The cover story is a piece by the science writer Matt Ridley who "salutes the bloggers who changed the climate change debate".

Matt kindly emailed me a draft from which I have extracted this quote, which rather made my week:

Or take a book published last month called The Hockey Stick Illusion by Andrew Montford, a rattling good detective story and a detailed and brilliant piece of science writing. Montford has never worked in the media. He is an accountant and science publisher who works from his home in Perthshire. He runs a blog called `Bishop Hill’.

Montford came to the subject in 2005 when he read a blog post by another amateur non-journalist named Tim Worstall, a scandium dealer who lives in Portugal (I am not making this up), who was in turn passing on news of another blogger’s work: Stephen McIntyre, a retired mining consultant and keen squash player in Toronto.

UK readers can buy single copies here.



As expected, PSU inquiry is whitewash

Steve McIntyre has posted some initial thoughts on the Penn State inquiry into Michael Mann's conduct as revealed by the Climategate emails and, as expected, the inquiry has been cursory and biased and has broken its own rules.

As many observers have noted, PSU derives a large income from Mann's presence on its staff, and it was therefore quite foreseeable that they would move mountains to keep him.

Which is why the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has said that they are going to do their own investigation.

And another thing - it is slightly surreal for Penn State to find Mann innocent of having suppressed data when the code for his Hockey Stick confidence interval calculations is still not available.



Greenpeace wants Patchy out

The head of Greenpeace UK wants Raj Pachuari fired, the saga of his conflicts of interest and mishandling of errors in the IPCC reports having endured for so long as to make his continued tenure impossible.

The IPCC needs to regain credibility. Is that going to happen with Pachauri [as chairman]? I don’t think so. We need someone held in high regard who has extremely good judgment and is seen by the global public as someone on their side.

“If we get a new person in with an open mind, prepared to fundamentally review how the IPCC works, we would regain confidence in the organisation.”

Even Bob Ward looks a bit shaky, calling for the IPCC to examine Pachauri's handling of the glacier issue at its next plenary session.

Coming along nicely.



Newsnight turns

BBC's flagship current affairs programme, Newsnight, had climate change as its headline news tonight, with an interesting piece about a largely unnamed group of scientists meeting in the UK to discuss what to do with climate science, an interview with Doug Keenan, and a television debate between Chris Field, head of IPCC WGII, and Roger Pielke Jnr.

Good stuff, but probably not viewable outside the UK.



Fred Pearce on peer review

Fred Pearce again, this time looking at Hockey Team efforts to undermine peer review, and making a much better fist of it than he did of the Hockey Stick.

I found it interesting that he'd managed to speak to James Saiers, the editor of McIntyre and McKitrick's submission to GRL and who was the subject of a Hockey Team plot to oust him. I had tried to make contact with Saiers myself, soon after Climategate broke, but unfortunately got no response. Pearce has him repeating his earlier assertions that his departure from GRL was unconnected with any pressure from outside agencies, and was simply due to his term of office as editor coming to an end. This much is known already. The more interesting question, and the one I had wanted Saiers to respond to is how he had come to be replaced as editor by the much more hostile Jay Famiglietti, an event shrouded in secrecy since Famiglietti only agreed to explain it to McIntyre and McKitrick off the record.

Still, Pearce is new to questioning climate science, and he hasn't made a bad fist of this story.