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The end of the scientific revolution?

Tim Worstall in the Register.

I really cannot understand why we're doing what we are doing on a public policy level. I just don't get why we're pumping tens, possibly hundreds, of billions into technologies like windmills, which we know won't work, to solar which doesn't need subsidies any more, but not willing to put money into other interesting things which might work, like thorium just as one example.

Unless, of course, I'm right in that what we should do about this problem has been hijacked by those who don't in fact want to solve this single, particular, problem of requiring low carbon energy generation but who want to use this agreed upon problem as a means of imposing their vision of the desirable lifestyle upon the rest of us. And so we go with solutions which won't in fact work because they desire that the problem not be solved, but that we should accord with their instructions upon how society should be.

Which is all rather depressing really: rather the end of the Enlightenment, the Scientific Revolution.


Scotland better at destroying jobs than Spain

According to George Jonas in Canada's National Post, Spain destroyed 2.2 real jobs for every "green" job created.

A study released this week concludes that government “green-job” programs aren’t the yellow-brick road to happiness in Europe. “Green programs in Spain destroyed 2.2 jobs for every job created,” write Kenneth P. Green and Ben Eisen in their paper for the Winnipeg-based think-tank, Frontier Centre, “while the capital needed for one green job in Italy could create five new jobs in the general economy.”

Johnny Foreigner has a lot to learn - the figure quoted for the UK is 3.7, which I think is probably actually the figure for Scotland.


SciTech hearings on peer review

The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee is going to take evidence for their peer review inquiry on 4th May. Those invited to speak are:

  • Dr Nicola Gulley, Editorial Director, Institute of Physics Publishing Ltd
  • Professor Ronald Laskey CBE FRS FMedSci, Vice-President, Academy of Medical Sciences
  • Dr Robert Parker, Interim Chief Executive, Royal Society of Chemistry
  • Professor John Pethica FRS, Physical Secretary and Vice-President, Royal Society.

Most of the members of the committee just seem to do what the whips tell them to, but it will nevertheless be interesting to see if they are going to simply go through the motions or if they have invited anyone who is a critic of the peer review process. Experience suggests, however, that the committee prefer not to hear anything from anyone who might rock the boat.


IPCC brings down the shutters

As many readers know, the guiding principles of the IPCC are that it should be open and transparent, a sentiment that I'm sure we all find admirable.

David Holland has been trying to find out about how Pachauri et al are implementing this principle in the Fifth Assessment, which is now under way. To that end he has been seeking copies of IPCC correspondence with its UK-based authors. He has recently had a reply from the University of Oxford:

As regards the information under a) above, relating to the development of the content of AR5, the University recognises that there is a public interest that the results of the AR5 should be available for public scrutiny. However, it considers that this need will be met largely through the future publication of the final AR5, together with the comments of the Expert Reviewers and the responses of the Lead Authors to those comments. It sees little or no public interest in the release of information relating to what is very much work in progress. Indeed, disclosure could harm the quality of the drafting process by inhibiting the free and frank expression of opinion. The scientists involved in AR5 need to feel that they can develop and refine their views without the pressure of public discussion at each and every step of the process. Disclosure of the information requested, and any consequent publicity, would be likely to inhibit the frankness of their views and deliberations, and to make them more cautious and less candid than they would otherwise be. This would not be in the public interest. Nor would it be in the public interest to deter scientists from participating in this type of work or to reduce the breadth of scientific expertise available to the IPCC or other international organisations involved in climate change.


Tip jar live again

Over there ->


GLOBE and Grantham

GLOBE International has just issued a report on climate change legislation around the world. Rather dull stuff.

Interesting to see, however, that the report is co-produced by the Grantham Institute.

Does anyone else find it disturbing to see legislators and environmentalists working hand-in-hand like this?



Here's a fascinating new tool - It allows you to enter the text of a press release and find out how much of it was copied and pasted by UK newspapers.

I tried a Friends of the Earth press release about small-scale energy generation and found that around half ended up unaltered in (guess where)...the Guardian.

Or what about a Greenpeace press release about taking the government to court over deep water drilling. Well, roughly three quarters found its way to (a) the Independent (b) The BBC and (c) the Scotsman.




Mann lecture at Mount Holyoake

This video is of Michael Mann lecturing at Mount Holyoke College - a liberal arts college in Massachusetts - a few days ago. The quality of the video is poor but I think it's adequate. I'm posting it up now and will take a look myself later on tonight.

H/T Batheswithwhales

There is an introduction about the greenhouse effect which looks pretty dull. It starts to get interesting from about 20 mins or so.

The good bit though is at 34:30 or so, when Mann ascribes the divergence problem to "pollutants" and says that is was "scientifically appropriate" to delete the divergent data.


Still tricking people

I was sent this presentation given by Australian scientist, Professor Will Steffen. This was apparently presented to the Multi-party Climate Change Committee (MCCC) in Canberra.

Interestingly Professor Steffen has chosen to present a copy of the spaghetti graph from Mann et al (2003). The full complement of authors is: Mann, Ammann, Bradley, Briffa, Jones, Osborn, Crowley,  Hughes, Oppenheimer, Overpeck, Rutherford, Trenberth and Wigley. In other words, the author team includes just about every scientist implicated in wrongdoing in the Climategate emails.

Here's the spaghetti graph - with a blowup of the interesting part. It's the orange line (Briffa 2001) you are interested in:

It does rather look to me as if Professor Steffen has chosen to present a spaghetti graph which truncates the divergence in Briffa's famous tree ring series.

"Hide the decline" still being used to "trick" people over a year after it was exposed.


HSI and Kuhn

This article about the Hockey Stick Illusion came out at the end of last year, but I've only just seen it.  It's from the Humanities and Technology Review.

In The Structure of Scientific Revolutions Kuhn sees such academic battles as comparable to those of political revolutions, wherein the participants in the revolutionary process try to impose a new world view or to maintain an existing one. Since Kuhn does not perceive the history of science as the story of one achievement progressing to another and then to another, he might find the account contained within Montford‟s book to be the usual practice of professional scientists as they establish or overthrow a paradigm. Some readers of The Hockey Stick Illusion, however, may conclude that the book‟s subtitle, “the corruption of science,” is the more appropriate assessment for at least some of the so-called normal science of certain climatologists.


Digging into the GLOBE

Jason Lewis, the Telegraph's investigations guy, has been researching GLOBE International - most famous member, Lord Oxburgh.

The little-known not-for-profit company works behind the scenes at international conferences to further its aims.

Another scientific expert linked to the group came forward to praise a second independent investigation into the Climategate affair which also exonerated researchers.

One of its key supporters headed the official investigation into the so-called "Climategate emails", producing a report which cleared experts of deliberately attempting to skew scientific results to confirm that global warming was a real threat.

(H/T DR)


HSI goes nuclear

Randy Brich, writing for the Nuclear Power Industry News blog reviews the Hockey Stick Illusion:

In a masterful expose on scientific sleuthing, practiced primarily by Steve McIntyre and his fortuitous statistical economist friend, Ross McKitrick, Montford’s captivating climate science chronology commands attention and must, I assume, be giving Mann and his co-conspirators fantastic fits.

 H/T Fergalr


Sir John B on climate change and food

Sir John Beddington says "the food system is failing". No doubt the answer is more funding.


More Mother Jones

I missed the video embedded in the Mother Jones article. This is hugely funny. The author seems to think that hide the decline was something to do with assessing twentieth century temperatures:

...all the fuss over the decline came from one obscure dataset showing tree ring densities in some high latitude regions. When that data was computed in one specific way, that formula gave scientists the wrong idea about the Earth's climate over multiple centuries, and when they realised this they stopped using that formula on tree ring data to look at temperatures after 1960 and relied more on things like, say, actual recorded closed.

Ye gods, even the Hockey Team guys aren't arguing anything so daft. Mother Jones, if you're listening, the point is that the Briffa series doesn't track temperature - it declines while instrumental temperatures are going up. If tree rings (at least some of them) don't track temperature nowadays, it is not possible to use them to recreate temperatures of the past. The point about hide the decline is what it tells about what is knowable about medieval times, not about modern temperatures.

Hilariously, this video came to you via one of Mother Jones' factcheckers!


A new history of Climategate

There is what purports to be a new history of Climategate at the US website, Mother Jones. It's not too bad, considering the source, but there are some problems.

For example, the standard line about the NAS panel's review of paleoclimate is repeated. I find it hard to believe that anyone with any self respect can continue to pretend that the other paleo studies are not undermined by their use of bristlecones (plus Yamal et al). This is such a simple issue that it does rather shred a journalist's credibility if they feign ignorance of it. The author Kate Sheppard blagged a copy of HSI from the publisher, so she knows it's a problem. I wonder why she didn't mention it?

There are a few other things too. Like this:

So how much of a nuisance was McIntyre? Consider his attempts to procure the crucial global temperature data sets that are jointly held by the CRU and the UK's Met Office Hadley Centre [75]. McIntyre dogged the CRU for access to them for years, a campaign that escalated over the course of 2009. The CRU repeatedly turned down these requests, arguing that granting them would violate agreements over data its partners had collected.

I think I am right in saying that McIntyre asked for the CRUTEM data once, or possibly twice, so I don't this could reasonably be described as "dogged".

And then there's this:

It later became clear that CRU was not the only target [111]. In the fall of 2009, unknown parties posing as network technicians attempted to break into the office of a climate scientist at the University of Victoria in British Columbia. There were also attempts to gain access to servers at the Canadian Centre for Climate Modelling and Analysis.

That Ms Sheppard would still be pushing this story is hilarious, as it has already been shown to be, erm, bunk.

And lastly this:

The CRU, on the other hand, maintains that [Climategate] was the work of someone outside of the university—a "very professional job," says Trevor Davies [109], pro-vice chancellor for research at East Anglia and the former head of the CRU.

Interestingly, if you read the minutes of the Russell team's meetings with UEA bigwigs, they are not nearly so sure about whodunnit.

So, a few problems, but the article is actually more interesting for the timing. Why is this coming out now?