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Tuesday
Jun222010

Deepak Lal on consensus

This is an excerpt from a paper by Deepak Lal, an economist at UCLA. It dates from the year 2000.

My friend John Flemming who was then chief economist at the Bank of England, and also chairing a subcommittee of one of the UK's research councils, told me on reading the lecture that I would get nowhere by taking on the scientists who, at a meeting he attended to distribute funds for climate research, had explicitly said that they were not going to behave like economists by disagreeing with each other!

Tuesday
Jun222010

The wisdom of Solomon

As part of his ongoing investigations into the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, David Holland has used FoI to get hold of a pile of emails from Professor Brian Hoskins, then of the University of Reading and now at Imperial College.  Readers will remember that Professor Hoskins amusingly rubber-stamped the list of papers chosen by UEA for the Oxburgh report.

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Jun192010

School fete

Today was the school fete. I was on carparking duty. Health and Safety has decreed that someone wearing a high-vis jacket must be in attendance at the carpark throughout the event. For the first hour, I was that person.

The fete began at 1pm. By the time I arrived at the carpark at 12:59, it was just about full, parents having proven remarkably adept at parking their cars without my assistance. This is perhaps not surprising as most of them use the carpark on a daily basis when they are on the school run.

Over the next hour I waved a few latecomers away and sat in the sunshine reading the newspaper. My high-vis jacket was quite useful as a cushion. I must have turned away about ten cars, most of which were subsequently parked in the road outside the carpark. I wasn't sure if my remit extended to the street so I left them to do this unassisted. They too seemed to manage quite well without me.

Later I went down to the fete itself. The tents had red and white tape tied to the guy ropes. This is apparently a rule laid down by Health and Safety. The scones were unbuttered, since this is not permitted by Health and Safety either. There were no sandwiches,since these apparently pose an unacceptable risk to the public.

The risk assessment had concluded that a tug of war is too dangerous so we didn't do that this year. I was reminded of the school sports day last week when parents were asked if anyone had safety concerns over their children taking part in the three-legged race. Apparently Health and Safety will be angry if this question isn't asked.

Strange day really.

Saturday
Jun192010

A challenge

In the comments on the Collide-a-scape thread, Judy Curry has issued a challenge to mainstream climate science:

I am laying down the gauntlet, [The Hockey Stick Illusion] really needs to discussed and rebutted by the paleo researchers and the IPCC defenders.

Most of the responses are fallacious so far - along the lines of "a bad person liked this book". Let's see if anything more substantial appears.

Saturday
Jun192010

Roger Harrabin on libertarian columnists

Roger Harrabin has an article about "libertarian columnists" in New Scientist.

Libertarian columnists have helped turned many British Conservative parliamentarians into climate doubters, and the Conservative prime minister, David Cameron, has installed a Liberal Democrat climate secretary to give his coalition's green policies some protection from his own party's right wing.

Libertarian columnists? Whoever can he mean?

Saturday
Jun192010

Arthur Smith on the trick

Another defence of the Nature trick has been published. This time the author is Arthur Smith.

Friday
Jun182010

Hockey Stick Illusion at Collide-a-scape

Keith Kloor's Collide-a-scape site is currently discussing the Hockey Stick Illusion. Many of the usual suspects are arguing that it should be ignored, with Judy Curry arguing the case that it matters.

Please keep it ultra-polite and don't rise to any bait that is set out for you.

Friday
Jun182010

Sea-ice modellers open up?

An article in Wired magazine recounts how sea-ice modellers are sharing data and methods and are learning from each other in the process. It's not obvious whether the sea-ice community have actually made their data and code open to the world or whether this is just a case of sharing within the community, but it's a step forwards at least.

It's also nice to see Mark Serreze apologising for his role in stirring up scare stories in 2007:

"In hindsight, probably too much was read into 2007, and I would take some blame for that,” Serreze said. “There were so many of us that were astounded by what happened, and maybe we read too much into it.”

If climatologists are now going to eschew scaremongering then that is certainly welcome. It's therefore a pity that the Wired reporter, Alexis Madrigal, begins the piece with the obligatory reference to "record low levels of sea ice in the Arctic". It's not that she's wrong, but just a few months ago sea ice levels were higher than they have been for years, and the more representative global sea ice levels are actually currently above their long-term average.

Friday
Jun182010

Christy on the IPCC

Steve M posted a link to the audio of John Christy's presentation to the Interacademies Council a couple of days ago. For those of us who prefer the written word, Marcel Crok has now posted a transcript. You need to scroll through the Dutch to get to Christy's words in English.

I liked this bit:

A fundamental problem with the entire issue here is that climate science is not a classic, experimental science. As an emerging science of a complex, chaotic climate system, it is plagued by uncertainty and ambiguity in both observations and theory. Lacking classic, laboratory results, it easily becomes hostage to opinion, groupthink, arguments-from-authority, overstatement of confidence, and even Hollywood movies.

Friday
Jun182010

Spain suspends solar subsidy

Andrew Orlowski reports that the Spanish government is reining back hard on the payments it makes to solar power companies - who are in essence subsidy farmers.

Spanish economist Professor Gabriel Calzada, at the University of Madrid estimated that each green job had cost the country $774,000.

Worse, a "green" job costs 2.2 jobs that might otherwise have been created - a figure Calzada derived by dividing the average subsidy per worker by the average productivity per worker. Industry, which can't afford to pay the higher fuel bills, simply moves elsewhere.

 

 

Thursday
Jun172010

MPs learn science

Newly elected MPs are to be given advice on science. This is because most of them can't tell a test tube from an experimental railway.

And who is going to teach them about this science stuff? Some familiar names:

1. Phil Willis (or Lord Willis as we must now call him) the man who ran applied the first coat of whitewash to CRU.

2. Lord Oxburgh, the man who applied the second coat of whitewash to CRU.

3. John Beddington (soon to be Sir John) the man who chose Lord Oxburgh to gloss over scientific matters

There were some others too - Lord Winston and David Willetts being the two best known names. Muir Russell was said to be otherwise engaged.*

[*I made this last bit up]

Thursday
Jun172010

New...scientist, did you say?

What can you say about New Scientist? 

There's a bit in the Rational Optimist which discusses coral reefs and the greek chorus that claims they are all going to disappear because of ocean acidification. Acidification is not really the issue says our Optimist - there are much bigger problems:

Coral reefs... are suffering horribly from pollution, silt, nutrient run-off and fishing - especially the harvesting of herbivorous fishes that otherwise keep reefs clean of algae.

And what has New Scientist writer Liz Else got to say about this? Well, she accuses the Optimist of failing `to recognize that there is more to the health of corals than the amount of bicarbonate [i.e. acidification].

Standards are not what they were at New Scientist, are they?

 

 

Wednesday
Jun162010

Russell review due July 7

An announcement has gone up on the Russell review website.

The publication date for the Independent Climate Change E-mails Review report has been set for 7 July. Full details of publication arrangements will be given nearer the time.

Wednesday
Jun162010

On consensus

Some days ago I posted a short quote from a forthcoming paper by Mike Hulme. This is it:

Claims such as ‘2,500 of the world’s leading scientists have reached a consensus that human activities are having a significant influence on the climate’ are disingenuous. That particular consensus judgement, as are many others in the IPCC reports, is reached by only a few dozen experts in the specific field of detection and attribution studies; other IPCC authors are experts in other fields.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jun162010

Andy Russell on the Hockey Stick

Andy Russell, a climatologist from Manchester, has written a brief history of the Hockey Stick. He says he hasn't read the Hockey Stick Illusion, which is a pity because he hasn't really moved things forward at all. There are many things he gets wrong that are covered in the book.

I've suggested he gets hold of a copy.

(Andy's piece is not inflamatory and I hope anyone commenting there will reply in the same vein).