Seen elsewhere

Click images for more details



Recent comments
Recent posts
Currently discussing

A few sites I've stumbled across recently....

Powered by Squarespace

Media links

A few media bits for you:

Roger Harrabin was on the radio today, looking at what happened at Copenhagen. I haven't had a chance to listen to it yet.

Every day next week, Professor David Livingstone of Queen's University Belfast presents programme called "The Empire of Climate". The BBC blurb is as follows:

Eminent geographer Professor David Livingstone wants us to see that climate is more than just the weather outside our window - it's an empire that has shaped our lives throughout history.

In the Western world, we live very cushioned lives, so that climate rarely impacts on us in a disastrous fashion. When it does - like the floods that hit parts of the UK in 2007 - we're left shocked and surprised by the ferocity of what climate can do. David explores the way human beings are shaped by weather patterns; "climate has always been a moral issue - not just a description of the weather" he says.

We are used to talking about climate change - or how WE influence the climate. In today's programme David takes us back to a time in history when people were used to thinking about climate in terms of how it influenced us.

Prof Livingstone's own webpage describes it as "a social history of environmental determinism from Herodotus to Global Warming", which is probably not quite as sexy as the BBC's take on it.  (By the way, does Global Warming now need Capital Letters? It makes it look like something out of Winnie the Pooh).

Hold on...


The Economist on the Climategate anniversary

Slightly late out of the blocks, The Economist takes a look at Climategate, namechecking yours truly in the process.

I'm not sure quite what to make of the article, which doesn't seem to take much of a position. The thrust of the piece seems to be that Climategate was not principally about manipulation of the numbers, and its certainly fair enough to bat back the wilder claims that have been made about what the emails mean.

But there is much to take issue with. The inquiries were flawed, we learn, and yes, that's true, in the same way that Bill Gates is "well-off". The "secondary presentations", as the article coyly refers to the IPCC reports, apparently included misrepresentations of primary research; again, yes, but where does that leave policymakers? And if sceptical views were excluded from the primary literature, what is the point in secondary assessments anyway?

I would also take issue with the idea that we learned little from Climategate, because many of the claims "had all been aired long before". This seems slightly obtuse to me. Before Climategate they were just claims. After the emails hit the airwaves they were rather more than that.


Christmas is coming... it would seem churlish not to remind readers of an excellent book for the geek in your life...

Buy it from:


The Arctic gap

Andy Russell has posted an interesting graph in an attempt to provide support for the notion that things are still warming up, despite the cold we are experiencing in the UK at the moment.

The GISS derived figure shows a view of Arctic temperature anomalies, with the pole apparently experiencing temperatures 4-7° (not sure if this is F or C) above normal.

The problem with this is that there is almost no data to support this, as Stephen Goddard has previously shown. (GISS fill in with model-derived numbers, upon which nobody should surely place any reliance.) I've constructed a composite of Andy's GISS chart and Goddard's figure showing which gridcells have real data to support them.


Best sceptic books

Reader Pat writes from Australia, wondering what sceptic books he should be recommending to his local library. He suggests that they will take as many as five different titles, so tick as many suggestions as you like in the poll below.

Click to read more ...


Climate cuttings 41

The Guardian announced what it modestly described as "The Ultimate Climate Change FAQ".  We should be so lucky.

The Economist meanwhile was struck by a sudden burst of realism, in an article calling for adaptation to be taken much more seriously than it is now.

Click to read more ...


Someone is thinking

A thoughtful article on climate change in the Guardian - whatever next?

The piece in question is this one, by Andrew Holding of the Medical Research Council. He thinks the way to deal with us pesky global warming sceptics is to open things up:

[T]hose in academia are constantly debating and modifying their ideas over time as new evidence comes to light, and those who hold minority viewpoints are valued for their opinion, but only when they can provide evidence for their stance, not for their ability to sign a petition.

Sounds good to me.

We need to tear down the ivory towers of the past and remove the walls dividing the public and academia. Journals need to be open, and in complex cases, such as the evidence for climate change, we need to provide the skills and tools that people need to discover the answers for themselves. If we ask them to to accept our viewpoints just because we are the experts, we have already lost. We would be no different than anyone who stands on a pedestal and proclaims the truth.

The idea that climate journals are going to be open is probably wishful thinking, although we must admit, I suppose that there has been some improvement since the pesky sceptics started making a noise about it.

Scientific inquiry will not always provide the right answers first but, unlike other methods, it will eventually get there even if it has to admit its mistakes. There is plenty that we don't know yet, but what we do know is that, given the same resources, tools and time, there is no reason for the public to disagree with the established consensus.

Admitting mistakes is again a wonderful sentiment, but I'm just not sure that mainstream climate science is ready to make this step yet. Climatology still has to get past the "biased method + bad data -> correct answer" stage.


Matt Ridley on Huhne

Matt Ridley has a smashing op-ed in the Times on the coming dash for shale gas, and the delusions of Christopher Huhne (although Matt is far too polite to put it in those terms). It can be seen here.

For a glimpse of a truly scary future dependent on volatile suppliers look no farther than Mr Huhne’s favoured approach, the dash for wind. Every wind turbine has a magnet made of a metal called neodymium. There are 2.5 tonnes of it in each of the behemoths that have just gone up to spoil my view in Northumberland. The mining and refining of neodymium is so dirty (involving repeated boiling in acid, with radioactive thorium as a waste product), that only one country does it: China. This year it flexed its trade muscles and briefly stopped exporting neodymium from its inner Mongolian mines. How’s that for dangerous reliance on a volatile foreign supply?



FOI and scientists

Alice Bell and Adam Corner have an article in the Times Higher Educational Supplement, which is by turns rather strange and complete nonsense, but nevertheless contains one or two interesting snippets.


The general thrust of the piece seems to be encapsulated in this quote:

Click to read more ...


Not working for you

Earlier in the year, Tony Newbery and I wrote to Professor Richard Tait the head of the BBC Trust, via Bruce Vander, the head of the trust's Editorial Standards Committee. The letter concerned the famous seminar about which Tony and I blogged the other day.

Some time later, Tony decided that it would be wise to check with Mr Vander that Professor Tait had received the letter.

And there hangs a tale...

Read it here.


Holland - what was redacted

David H has posted his take on the importance of the redactions here. I was in the meantime working on my own version of the same story. I'll post it here anyway, in case people want a different take on the same facts.

In David's post yesterday, he described how a new release of data from UEA shows how his submission to the Russell review had been heavily edited before Geoffrey Boulton sent it to UEA for a response. He also outlined the evidence that suggests strongly that the full unedited version was supplied to Osborn and Briffa, possibly from another source, in spite of UEA's claims to the contrary.

Some of the most important omissions concerned the IPCC’s retrospective change of the deadline for submissions to the Fourth Assessment Report, a change that was apparently made in order to allow the Wahl and Ammann paper to be used against McIntyre and McKitrick’s refutation of the Hockey Stick.

Click to read more ...


UEA - a new story

David Holland has asked me to post some details of a letter he has received from UEA via WhatDoTheyKnow. David is away this evening.

The letter appears to be a direct response to the guest posting here yesterday and can be seen here. It outlines two errors in UEA's recent FOI response, although only the first appears significant to me. This is the key excerpt:

Click to read more ...


Still howlin'

Chris Huhne:

Everyone believes their pet project will make an essential contribution to the recovery.

But in energy security and climate change, we have the numbers on our side.

The value of the global low-carbon goods and environmental services market is expected to reach £4 trillion by the end of this Parliament. It is growing at 4% per year, faster than world GDP.

Our share of that market is £112 billion. In the UK, nearly a million people will be employed in the low-carbon sector by the end of the decade.

How many jobs will Huhne have destroyed before even half of those illusory million "low-carbon" replacements have appeared? How many old folk will have died from the winter cold? 

Talk about kicking the country when it's down.


The Holland redaction

This is a guest post by David Holland.

Late last Friday afternoon, the University of East Anglia released some further information that should be of interest to anyone who has followed the minutiae of Climategate.

There is, for instance, a breakdown of the costs of the Russell Review at the end of the response letter. However, of most interest to me, and bearing directly upon the “rigour and honesty” of the Russell Review and UEA’s scientists, is Professor Boulton’s email of 6 May to Professor Briffa. This email (in the zip file here) concerned Briffa's work on the IPCC AR4 Report and the assistance he had received from Eugene Wahl. In his email, Boulton asks Briffa to reply to my allegation that the deadline for cited papers to be “in press” was changed to allow the citation of the Wahl and Ammann 2007 paper, which had missed the original deadline. Without it, IPCC WGI would have had to record the fact that the last word in the peer-reviewed literature was that the Mann et al “hockey stick” studies were invalidated by McIntyre and McKitrick.

Click to read more ...


Climate models hopelessly simplistic

P Gosselin has an interesting story about an Austrian meteorologist who is completely underwhelmed by the reliability of climate models. As Karsten Brandt apparently puts it:

It is simply nonsense. These prognoses are not worth the paper they’re printed on. The Gulf Stream has an impact on European weather that is 100 times larger than CO2.”

Read the whole thing.