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Another gig

Another speaking engagement last night, but again a private one.

I gave a talk to the Scottish Oil Club, which I've mentioned here before. The club has its roots in oil, but brings together people from across the energy industry, including renewables, and also has many members from the academic community and from the service industries - lawyers and accountants and the like.

The audience, perhaps 70 strong, was largely from the academic community, but there was no sense of antagonism and although there were many questions, I had no sense of being "got at". One questioner identified himself as an IPCC author, and although he was disputing a couple of things I had said, his questions were fair and put in a moderate way. Somebody else was concerned with me making money out of selling books.  This struck me as a poor argument.

All in all, a good evening. Thanks to Rob Scheider and the SOC board for making this happen.


Josh 78

Referring to this story at WUWT.


Spectator debate

Spotted on the Spectator website:

On Tuesday 29 March, The Spectator is hosting a debate on the motion 'The global warming hysteria is over. Time for a return to sanity'.

SPEAKING FOR THE MOTION are Lord Nigel Lawson, Chairman, Global Warming Policy Foundation and Dr Benny Peiser, Director, Global Warming Foundation.

SPEAKING AGAINST THE MOTION are Professor Tim Palmer, Royal Society Research Professor in Climate Physics, Oxford University and Simon Singh, Science Writer.

Details here.


Myles' fludd

Lots of people pointing to the Richard Black posting on floods. This includes papers by such familiar names as Myles Allen. No time to comment myself, but here's a thread for those that want to discuss it.


Steig story on Spectator cover

The cover story of the latest edition of the Spectator is about the Steig/O'Donnell rumpus. I can't see it anywhere online, but the cover art looks like this:

The headline is:

The Ice Storm: Nicholas Lewis and Matt Ridley expose the bias and bluster behind the latest set of shaky global warming data.

(Nic Lewis is of course one of the authors of the O'Donnell et al paper.)


Learned societies

A couple of postings elsewhere where help is being requested. Both relate to the subject of the learned societies:

Hilary Ostrov is concerned about learned societies putting words into the mouths of their members. She wants scientists to speak for themselves and to that end she's running a survey of scientists' attitudes to global warming.

Meanwhile Jo Nova is appalled by the groupthink of the learned societies and she is interested in the idea of setting up a new scientific society - an idea that has occurred to me in the past.



DECC reaction to SciTech

I have recently obtained a new document under FOI. This is a briefing issued to civil servants at the Department of Energy & Climate Change on the subject of the first Science & Technology Committee inquiry into Climategate. The briefing is dated 31 March 2010.

I was particularly amused by the observation that the committee had found no evidence that Jones had subverted the peer-review process.

Given that they didn't look for evidence and simply took Jones' word for it, that's not very surprising, is it?


Light blogging

Blogging will probably be a little intermittent until the start of next week - a combination of half-term and a couple of engagements.


Real sceptics

An excellent piece by Graham Strouts, looking at scepticism in general but with particular reference to Lomborg and Gore and the Horizon programme.

It seems to me that at some point the science ends and there is a cross-over into politics and ideology, and this is why Lomborg is important because he takes the conversation away from the purely technical issues of CO2 and emissions into what is the most cost-effective response. He could be wrong in his conclusions- I dont know. Pigliucci clearly thinks he is wrong, but his own ideology comes through most strikingly when he defends Gore against the charge of hypocrisy for his high-energy lifestyle while telling the rest of us we must cut back on everything to save the planet: “Gore pays for offsets to his travels in order to achieve a zero-carbon balance, just as he encourages the readers of An Inconvenient Truth to do.”


Beddington on warpath

The sight of a government chief scientific officer on the warpath is not a pretty one. Sir John Beddington, for it is he, is all a-quiver, enraged with the antics of pseudoscientists of all complexions:

We are grossly intolerant, and properly so, of racism. We are grossly intolerant, and properly so, of people who [are] anti-homosexuality... We are not—and I genuinely think we should think about how we do this—grossly intolerant of pseudo-science, the building up of what purports to be science by the cherry-picking of the facts and the failure to use scientific evidence and the failure to use scientific method."

"One way is to be completely intolerant of this nonsense," he said. "That we don't kind of shrug it off. We don't say: ‘oh, it's the media’ or ‘oh they would say that wouldn’t they?’ I think we really need, as a scientific community—and this is a very important scientific community—to think about how we do it."

Now, we sceptics have been mightily concerned about cherrypicking. Indeed, we raised the issue with several of the Climategate inquiries. Of the investigations into Jones et al, it was the Oxburgh inquiry, that of course had the most reason to investigate the question of cherrypicking at the Climatic Research Unit: who can forget the selection of proxy series for Osborn and Briffa, for example? That was certainly one that raised a few eyebrows.

But as we know, Lord Oxburgh and his panel decided not to look at this paper and their report is silent on the question of cherrypicking.

And how did Sir John Beddington react? I'm sure readers here remember that he wrote to Lord Oxburgh telling him that he had "played a blinder". Perhaps being inside a university gives you some kind of immunity from Sir John's wrath.


Josh 77


CC Question Time

Tonight I was on the panel for a Climate Change Question Time at Strathclyde University, as part of their green week. As the lone sceptic on a panel of five I was somewhat apprehensive about the reception I would receive - one imagines booing and hissing and throwing of eggs - but it was actually all very congenial and polite. I was somewhat concerned to find myself agreeing at times with some of the other panellists, who included a green MSP, a LibDem, an ex-BBC weatherman and an environmental officer from business.

I thought it went quite well on the whole. I managed to tick off the LibDem for extolling the virtues of green jobs, which got a measure of agreement from others on the panel and a laugh from the audience, and I made some criticisms of the Stern report, which I hope may have opened some eyes.

Thanks are due to Linzi at Strathclyde University for inviting me and for organising a very interesting event.


Climate quango cuts

The Guardian is reporting that the Climate Change Committee, part of the plethora of quangos set up to provide sinecures for environmentalists, is tunder threat of losing its independence. This follows a series of cuts to similar quangos.

Why, we want to know, is it not being closed down entirely?


Are science writers all lefties?

Martin Robbins, writing at the Guardian, worries that the lack of right-wing science writers and bloggers is denting the credibility of science.

Seems like a reasonable surmise to me.

There's a lot of discussion of needing to find common ground in order to put forward a message successfully, which again is something we can probably agree on. I wonder if he might find things easier in this regard if he stopped using the d-word? 


Commenting problems again

I now have the ability to switch off Captcha, so I'm going to try this to see if it makes any difference to the ongoing problems with comments and timeouts and so on. Let me know if it helps.