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The baby bishops on ecoschools...

...and I didn't put them up to it either!


Fred on Foster and deFreitas

Fred Pearce in New Scientist looks at some recent developments in the ongoing battle between Tamino and the Hockey Team on the one side and sceptics deFreitas and McLean on the other. Judy Curry gets quoted.


Foreign office cuts its green spending

With hard times truly upon us, the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, has announced that he is seeking savings from the Foreign Office's budget by cutting back on green spending.

What is remarkable is that the Low Carbon, High Growth programme is going to survive at all. Does anyone in government seriously think that this is a sensible thing to be spending money on?


David Shukman in the Guardian science podcast

A podcast interview with David Shukman, the BBC's science and environment correspondent. Shukman says the media has failed to report the uncertainties in climate science properly and says we are in a new era for climate reporting.

Audio starts from about 14:30 at this link.



ECOS, the magazine of the British Association of Nature Conservationists has published a review of The Hockey Stick Illusion. You can download a draft of the review here. It's written by Peter Taylor, the author of Chill.

This book will have repercussions. It is well written, though demanding of constant focus, well laid-out and thoroughly referenced. It should be read by every believer in the authority of scientific institutions – but of course, that is not likely. Montford has done a great service to science, to history and to a public grown sceptical of the scare stories upon which vast amounts of research funding, carbon trading and energy technology subsidies depend. That story cannot now claim that the 20th century warmth is unprecedented.


Josh 26

More cartoons by Josh here.


Tee hee


Nepstad enters the fray

Much fun in the comments to Monbiot's Amazongate posting, with Daniel Nepstad, the activist-scientist behind some of the IPCC claims, having his say:

As the lead scientist on the research that underlies the IPCC statements about the sensitivity of the Amazon forest to reductions in rainfall, and after 25 years studying this question, I can say that the evidence has only grown stronger in support of this statement. I ran an enormous rainfall exclusion experiment in an Amazon forest that identified the rainfall threshold beyond which giant forest trees die quite suddenly (published in the journal Ecology in 2007). During the 2005 Amazon drought, tree mortality spiked up in permanent forest plots across the region (Philips et al. 2009 Science), providing further evidence of the drought threshold. The critics have latched onto two papers that seem to contradict our results, both using the same satellite sensor (MODIS). The forest canopy appears to get a bit greener in some Amazon regions during the dry season. Deeper analyses of the same data have found that these studies probably were seeing leaf-changing episodes and changes in cloudiness (which declines in the dry season) which are not evidence that the forests were not drought stressed. In a recent letter signed by 18 scientists including many of the world's authorities on tropical forest response to climate change, we found the IPCC statement to be sound and the NASA study involving MODIS data to be irrelevent to the IPCC statement. I would be happy to explain the science behind the IPCC statement.

Which is fascinating but still leaves us none the wiser as to where the idea that 40% of the Amazon is at risk from slight changes in rainfall comes from.  Several commenters on the thread call Dr Nepstad on this evasion and demand to know in which paper it can be found.

No reply last time I looked.


A disappearing act

John Shade has been looking at a campaign called Schools' Low Carbon Day. Having noted that the campaign claimed to be run by a registered charity, he checked with the Charities Commissioners and found that the charity concerned didn't exist. The people running the show eventually contacted him and said that since they hadn't actually collected any money, they hadn't bothered registering the charity.

Low carbon day was on Friday. But intriguingly, no sooner was it over than the campaign website was closed down. No reporting of how it went, no nothing.

I think it might be worth verifying the story that no money was collected. Does anyone know of any schools that actually took part?


Falkenblog on the Hockey Stick Illusion

A review of the Hockey Stick Illusion from economist Eric Falkenstein.


Josh 25 - Jude of Arc


North threatens to sue Monbiot

From EU Referendum

Dear Mr Monbiot

Following the publication of your post here, I have written to your newspaper by e-mail, expressing my concerns about the piece, and inviting the newspaper to contact me to discuss it informally, to avoid the need to take expensive and (to you) potentially damaging action in order to protect my professional reputation.

Since your newspaper has not troubled itself to contact me, I am forced to take the step of contacting you and the newspaper more formally, which I am in the process of so doing.

In the meantime, however, I am writing here as the most direct means of contacting you, to ask you to remove from this post all references to myself, as being libellous and highly damaging – the precise details of which will be passed to your newspaper shortly.

You may, of course, leave this message visible or remove it, but you may wish to note that the addition of further comments arising as a result of references to me remaining in your post, and which are also of a libellous or denigratory nature, may form part of any subsequent action which I choose to take.

Commentators who choose to comment on this post may also wish to note that I would be happy to enjoin them in any legal action taken against Mr Monbiot or The Guardian newspaper if they too are of a libellous or denigratory nature. You have been warned.

Yours sincerely,

Richard North (Dr)



Watch and read

The BBC's Panorama piece (the one featuring Michael Mann) is on tonight. The Panorama home page features a clip in which presenter Tom Heap visits the Rowe family "to find out what effect they think their lifestyle is having on warming the planet", which rather suggests that the programme is going to be toe-curlingly awful.

Meanwhile, Skeptic magazine has an article called "Climate Skeptics - the good the bad and the ugly", which looks interesting. If anyone can get me a copy of the text I'd be grateful.

Also there is this piece by PZ Myers proclaiming the deflating of Climategate. The basis for Myers' claim is the Sunday Times retraction of the Amazongate story, which seems a little odd since this was nothing to do with Climategate at all and the principal claims of Leake's article still seem to stand.


The sole solar paper

In 2007, Ross McKitrick wrote a paper on the Fourth Assessment Report which included a short section on the IPCC's use of Judith Lean's paper:

The IPCC acknowledges that solar activity is high, and possibly exceptionally high, compared to the last 8,000 years. The two most prominent proxy-based reconstructions (from teams led by Solanki and Muescheler, respectively), differ on whether an interval in the 1700s included a spike comparable to today’s but both agree that today’s solar output is very high compared to most of the current interglacial era.

Click to read more ...


More Amazonian knockabout

The Amazongate story looks as though it may run for a considerable time. We have had, in rapid succession, a crowing article from George Monbiot, a fighting response from Delingpole and now articles from Booker in the Telegraph and North on EU Referendum.

It seems clear that the Sunday Times withdrew its article without a adjudication being made - it's not on the PCC's list of cases adjudicated and Monbiot says that the ST withdrew the article in order to avoid an adverse ruling. Strangely though, the case doesn't appear in the list of cases resolved - i.e. negotiated settlements - either.

The more interesting questions are the ones raised by Booker and North though. Just where did the IPCC's claim that 40% of the Amazon was at risk from climate change come from? The original source was a WWF report, which both Monbiot and Booker/North agree shouldn't have been used. Monbiot says however that the claim was indeed based on the peer-reviewed literature:

The projection was drawn from a series of scientific papers by specialists in this field, published in peer-reviewed journals, some of which are referenced in the first section of the IPCC's 2007 report (pdf).

Now this should be enough to set the alarm bells ringing - Monbiot appears to be saying, in essence, that the correct citations are in the WG1 report somewhere. But where? He links to one chapter of WG1, when the dispute is about a statement made in the WG2 report. And which paper or papers is he actually citing?

This skirting round the question of the actual papers that support the allegation that 40% of the Amazon is at risk from climate change suggests strongly that there are none. What is more one is tempted to conclude that George Monbiot knows it.