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Wednesday
Jun152011

Taking potshots at Plimer

An article in EOS by Terry Gerlach of the US Geological Survey takes aim at Ian Plimer's arguments about the contributions of volcanos to the carbon budget.

Which emits more carbon dioxide (CO2): Earth’s volcanoes or human activities? Research findings indicate unequivocally that the answer to this frequently asked question is human activities. However, most people, including some Earth scientists working in fields outside volcanology, are surprised by this answer. The  climate change debate has revived and reinforced the belief, widespread among climate skeptics, that volcanoes emit more CO2 than human activities [Gerlach, 2010; Plimer, 2009]. In fact, present-day volcanoes emit relatively modest amounts of CO2, about as much annually as states like Florida, Michigan, and Ohio.

 

Tuesday
Jun142011

New Scientist on significance

An article in New Scientist picks up on the vexed question of Phil JOnes' recent prognostications of significance in the temperature records. The author, Andy Coghlan links to the story here:

Jones told New Scientist that in the short time since his latest statement on the data's "significance" had been aired in the media, some sceptics had already challenged it in blogs.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Jun142011

Onset of the LIA

This looks interesting: a new paper from D’Andrea et al describes some climate fluctuations in Greenland at the end of the Medieval Warm Period and the beginning of the Little Ice Age.

Greenland's early Viking settlers were subjected to rapidly changing climate. Temperatures plunged several degrees in a span of decades, according to research from Brown University. A reconstruction of 5,600 years of climate history from lakes near the Norse settlement in western Greenland also shows how climate affected the Dorset and Saqqaq cultures.

H/T Messenger

Tuesday
Jun142011

How time flies

Sunday:

[Scottish Finance Secretary John ]Swinney said: “I am deeply concerned at the scale of Scottish Power’s price increases. Any fuel price rises have an impact, yet these increases will leave many households, in particular vulnerable consumers, in real, real difficulty.”

Swinney’s criticisms echo remarks by First Minister Alex Salmond, who hit out at “thumping fuel bills that will affect huge numbers of people throughout society”.

Monday:

Speaking at the opening of the new wind farms, Mr Salmond said: "The opening of the Arecleoch and Mark Hill wind farms here in South Ayrshire is a significant milestone for Scottish Power Renewables.

"It also underlines both the rapid progress Scotland has made in clean energy generation and our industry's leading role in the wider development of a genuinely low carbon economy across Europe."

Tuesday
Jun142011

A review

I thought I'd posted a link to a Heartland Institute review of HSI before but, try as I might, I can't find it, so perhaps this is genuinely new - a review by Jay Lehr. Dr Lehr has a background in hydrology, and it's always nice to get a scientist's take on the book.

Mesmerizing Insight into the Infamous Hockey Stick Scandal

Cutting-edge science, mystery, and whodunit intrigue rarely merge in a single book. Rarer still do they merge in nonfiction. In A. W. Montford’s The Hockey Stick Illusion, readers get an intriguing, highly informative dose of all three.

While walking readers through a tale of real-life mystery, complete with unexpected heroes and villains, The Hockey Stick Illusion presents superb chronological detail, explicit explanations of statistics, and a clear discussion of the science at the heart of one of science’s most troubling scandals.

 

Monday
Jun132011

Why is Beddington against thorium

GWPF have an interesting article about a promising new nuclear power technology - thorium reactors. Perhaps most intriguing is Sir John Beddington's opposition to their development:

...although the Coalition Government continues to pour subsidies worth many millions of pounds into wind power, which, as Live revealed earlier this year, produces at best intermittent energy with potential environmental costs, it has so far decided to do nothing about thorium except to maintain a ‘watching brief’. 

 

Click to read more ...

Monday
Jun132011

Once more in the breach

I have been told that another fix for the commenting problems is now in place. Please let me know if you have any difficulties. If you do please provide details (browser, OS, message, symptoms).

Monday
Jun132011

Climate video nasty

These videos of a conference run by the Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences popped up on one of my Google alerts. There's a lot to see but it's all interesting stuff.

First up is a presentation by Tim Palmer, an Oxford climate modeller, who is particularly interesting on the large biases in climate models and the "misleading" way these are dealt with in "some reports".

Click to read more ...

Monday
Jun132011

Climate change removed from curriculum

Apparently climate change is to be removed from the UK's national curriculum, with it being left up to schools as to whether they teach anything about it or not.

Tim Oates, whose wide-ranging review of the curriculum for five- to 16-year-olds will be published later this year, said it should be up to schools to decide whether – and how – to teach climate change, and other topics about the effect scientific processes have on our lives.

In an interview with the Guardian, Oates called for the national curriculum "to get back to the science in science". "We have believed that we need to keep the national curriculum up to date with topical issues, but oxidation and gravity don't date," he said. "We are not taking it back 100 years; we are taking it back to the core stuff. The curriculum has become narrowly instrumentalist."

This is undoubtedly correct, although those who see schools as an opportunity to indoctrinate children with their own views are undoubtedly going to squeal a great deal. Mind you, as someone who finds the whole idea of a national curriculum rather Orwellian, I can't get too excited about the news.

Sunday
Jun122011

Will Black react?

This is all getting rather interesting. Some very numerate people have been looking at Phil Jones' claim about statistical significance in the temperature records and the consensus seems to be that Jones has got it wrong.

First out of the blocks was Doug Keenan, who noted in the comments here that using the methodology described in Jones' IPCC chapter and data to the end of 2010, the confidence interval for the temperature trend still covered zero.

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Jun122011

Helmer's new book

Roger Helmer, the sceptic MEP, has published a new book entitled Sceptic at Large. The Hockey Stick Illusion gets a mention.

As a former mathematician, I know very well that you don’t prove a theorem by pulling a rabbit out of a hat and asking other mathematicians to believe you.  On the contrary, you set out every logical detail of your reasoning from first principles to final conclusion, line-by-line, and you welcome challenges and new insights from other specialists.  Only then can you write QED (Quod Erat Demonstrandum) at the end of your proof.

It’s a long story, but Macintyre and McKitrick were finally vindicated, not least by a US Congressional Committee in 2006 under the Chairmanship of Ed Wegman, arguably the most prominent statistician in the US.  And the problem is more one of statistics than of climatology.  I don’t know if Mann is a good climatologist or not, but the statistical techniques he applied to his data sets were fundamentally unsound.  For those who would like to understand the murky detail of this long-running dispute, which is central to the climate debate, I recommend A.W. Montford’s book “The Hockey Stick Illusion”.

Helmer's book is to be launched on 14 June in London at 32 Smith Square. Apparently BH readers are welcome to attend - just mention the blog at the door and you will get a free copy of RH's book.

Saturday
Jun112011

It's for the birds - Josh 102

Grim isn't it?

A slightly different version here

Saturday
Jun112011

Lynas on wind farms

Mark Lynas has a must-read article about the impact of wind farms on bird populations. This quote from an Oxford biologist is just one of the memorable moments...

I think wind farms are potentially the biggest disaster for birds of prey since the days of persecution by gamekeepers, and I think wind farms are one of the biggest threats to European and North American bats since large scale deforestation. The impacts are already becoming serious for white-tailed eagles in Europe, as is abundantly clear in Norway.  A wind farm – built despite opposition from ornithologists – has decimated an important population, killing 40 white-tailed eagles in about 5 years and 11 of them in 2010.  The last great bustard in the Spanish province of Cadiz was killed by a wind development.  In my experience, some “greens” are in complete denial of these impacts, or hopefully imagine that these bats and birds can take big losses: they can’t because they breed very slowly.

The question that readers will no doubt want to ask is this: how much responsibility does Mark Lynas bear for this disaster?

 

Saturday
Jun112011

Greens trash national parks

Tony at Harmless Sky is highlighting a new planning document introduced by the Welsh Assembly, which will allow windfarms to be built in national parks. There is a petition afoot to try to stop it.

Sir John Houghton and George Monbiot both live in Wales if I recall correctly.

 

Saturday
Jun112011

Lawson bashes the coalition

Nigel Lawson takes potshots at the UK coalition government's environmental policies in the pages of the Mail,

In a devastating verdict he writes: ‘The Government’s highly damaging decarbonisation policy, enshrined in the absurd Climate Change Act, does not have a leg to stand on. It is intended, at massive cost, to be symbolic: To make good David Cameron’s ambition to make his administration “the greenest government ever”.

‘My dictionary defines green as “unripe, immature, undeveloped”.’