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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”.’


Jones: post 1995 warming "significant"

Phil Jones has announced that post-1995 warming is now "significant", with new data changing the picture he had previously reported to Roger Harrabin. The news comes via Richard Black, in one of those "we don't want anyone disputing this, so we've switched commenting off" articles.

By widespread convention, scientists use a minimum threshold of 95% to assess whether a trend is likely to be down to an underlying cause, rather than emerging by chance.

If a trend meets the 95% threshold, it basically means that the odds of it being down to chance are less than one in 20.

Last year's analysis, which went to 2009, did not reach this threshold; but adding data for 2010 takes it over the line.

I wonder what he makes of the Koutsoyiannis paper then?


More climate gatekeeping

Richard Lindzen outlines the steps taken to prevent his recent paper with Choi being published in PNAS.

The rejection of the present paper required some extraordinary violations of accepted practice. We feel that making such procedures public will help clarify the peculiar road blocks that have been created in order to prevent adequate discussion of fundamental issues. It is hoped, moreover, that the material presented here can offer the interested public some insight into what is involved in the somewhat mysterious though widely (if inappropriately) respected process of peer review.

One prominent mainstream climate scientist told me that I knew "perfectly well" that accusations of climate gatekeeping were baseless. It doesn't really look that way to me.


More Nurse

The Royal Society meeting seems to have been very interesting, with some interesting feedback from Richard Drake, Doug Keenan and Josh.

I'm intrigued by some of the things we have learned about Paul Nurse - that he thought he had been critical of CRU for not being open with their data, that the Horizon programme was fair and balanced and that he was stung by criticism of it.

Click to read more ...


Quote of the day

A visiting journalist once asked the director of a famous research institute: " How many scientists work in your laboratory?"

The director reflected for a moment and then replied "Less than half".

From Nigel Calder's Technopolis


FT on Turnbull

Sue Cameron, writing in the FT takes a look at Andrew Turnbull's report for GWPF.

Calling for “an end to alarmist propaganda”, Lord Turnbull says: “I am disappointed that so many of my former colleagues in the civil service seem so ready to go along unquestioningly with the consensus.”

So is he right? “It’s simply not true – Andrew’s got it wrong,” protested one senior figure. He added that officials covering transport, business and energy were being “very forceful” about curbing the greener instincts of Chris “Nul Points” Huhne, the climate change secretary.

Let us hope he is right that some senior officials are taking a sceptical view of the green agenda. Whether Lord Turnbull’s suspicions about his former colleagues are misplaced or not, he is right to call for more open-mindedness in Whitehall and less reliance on the prevailing orthodoxy.

H/T Benny Peiser


Royal Society openness meeting

Cameron Neylon is tweeting from today's ROyal Society meeting on "Science as a public enterprise". A couple of BH readers are there, so I hope to get some more detailed reports of what was said too.

Here are some highlights from the twitterers

"The focus on publication - of paper and data - is too narrow."- William Dotton, OII

Click to read more ...


Confirmation bias

This is a guest post by Matt Ridley

Dan Gardner’s superb book `Future Babble’ examines why expert predictions so frequently fail, and why we believe them anyway. I strongly recommend it. Gardner devotes very little of the book to climate change, and makes clear that he does not want to be thought too sceptical about it. This is standard procedure in the world of non-fiction these days: Tim Harford in Adapt likewise avoids pursuing the logic of his argument as far into the climate debate as he might. You can, of course, kiss good bye to good reviews, or even reviews, if you stray too far from the true faith on this subject these days. Even lukewarmers like me regularly get called `deniers’.

Click to read more ...


In the beginning



Conflicted climatologists

Pielke Jnr looks at the dilemma facing the IPCC - should its new policy on conflicts of interest apply to participants in the upcoming Fifth Assessment Report?

The challenge faced by the IPCC is significant. Under the adopted policy it is inconceivable that its current chairman, Rajendra Pachauri, could continue to serve.  Presumably, other participants would also fail to meet the high standards of the new policy.  This would mean major change in the organization.


Not so Goot

Aynsley Kellow posted these remarks in the comments on the posting on Goot's paper on the climate consensus. I thought they were important enough to bring upstairs as a header post.

I found it difficult to read this piece, especially because the matter of how many climate scientists can dance in agreement on the head of a pin is irrelevant to any argument about climate science. Since Galileo, the fallacy of argumentum ad populum has been well established, and it is rather surprising that Murray would be engaged to explore whether the fallacy holds in this particular case.

Click to read more ...


Koutsoyiannis 2011

This is a guest post by Doug Keenan.

Two months ago, I published an op-ed piece in The Wall Street Journal. The piece discussed the record of global temperatures, illustrated in the figure.

Click to read more ...


It takes a village

I chanced upon the (unrevised) transcript of an evidence session in front of the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee on the subject of nuclear power.

I found myself with a vague feeling of unease having read it. This may have been something to do with the fact that the session involved evidence from Sir John Beddington, who appears to have coordinated the Climategate whitewashes. He was speaking to, among others, Lord Oxburgh, the head of one of the whitewashes in question, and Lord Willis, who headed another.


Suing academics

Mike Kelly has a letter in his hometown newspaper. This appears to be a response to a critique of some kind and makes some interesting points.

Can I plead for temperate language in this debate as trillions of dollars are at risk of being misinvested?

I am involved in another area of controversy, namely nanotechnology, and when you add in controversies in biomedicine, there is enough around to suggest that the scientific process is being corrupted, and is in need of reining in. You will see my views on this when the Royal Society publishes the evidence it receives in its study of ‘Science as a Public Enterprise‘.

Engineers take legal liability for their work, and can be sued if they are wrong. This should also apply more widely to those who pronounce in the public domain on matters of policy. This would then confine statements to a more measured and nuanced standard.

(H/T Andyscrase)


Another Beddington inquiry

Christopher Booker reports on an official inquiry into the dangers of white asbestos - a subject on which CB has been writing for many years.

An all-too-familiar trick when the establishment faces awkward questions on some controversial matter is to set up a committee packed with people who can be relied on to avoid the real points at issue and come up with the answer it wants. The Climategate inquiries were all examples of this technique. Another was the recent inquiry, headed by the Government’s chief scientific adviser, Sir John Beddington, into the claim that thousands of people die every year from exposure to white asbestos.

I wonder if CB realises just how central Sir John was to the Climategate whitewashes?

(H/T Matthu)