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A foot of hail in Spain

From the annals of WeathernotClimate, comes something rather unusual from Spain.


The BBC and its scientists

The last time the BBC Trust discussed a seminar of leading scientists that had informed their editorial policy they were infamously not telling the truth and, after many years of requests for information and fruitless internet searches, it was finally determined that the people involved were in fact almost without exception green activists or green scientivists.

It's therefore interesting to note this little snippet from the BBC Trust report discussed earlier today:

There was an in depth briefing for key editors and correspondents organised by the College of Journalism ahead of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on climate change, which was published in September. This consisted of a briefing from senior members of the IPCC, a panel discussion involving three climate change scientists representing a range of views and an internal discussion about the editorial implications for our output. We think this made a substantial contribution to balanced and proportionate coverage of the IPCC report.

Click to read more ...


Diary dates: physics edition

Joanna Haigh is going to be speaking on the physics of climate change tonight as part of the Royal Society's summer science season.

Earth’s climate is the result of interactions between multiple physical systems, such as the circulation of the oceans, winds and weather patterns, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, or the amount of sunlight we receive. In order to understand how the climate is behaving, and how it might behave in the future, we have to understand the fundamental laws controlling these interactions: we have to understand the physics.  Join Joanna Haigh as she explains the integral role of physics in climate science and how its use has transformed our ability to model and predict climate change.

Details: 6:30 pm — 7:30 pm on Friday 04 July 2014 at The Royal Society. No ticket required


Tol in the Commons

Philip Foster writes with an important scheduling change for Richard Tol's appearance at the House of Commons.

We have had a last minute problem with a meeting planned with Richard Tol in Westminster.

Our MP (Sammy Wilson) was told yesterday that the committee room booked was now not available.

The new schedule has to be as follows:

Palace of Westminster
Wednesday 9th July 2014
Committee Room 20
12noon - 2pm


The BBC's reeducation programme

The BBC Trust has issued a new report into progress on adopting the recommendations of the Steve Jones review of science coverage. This was the integrity-free publication that recommended keeping sceptics off air as much as possible.

According to the new paper, the BBC has been holding a series of seminars to bang home the "keep sceptics off air" message and will keep up this re-education programme in the future. There's also this:

The Trust wishes to emphasise the importance of attempting to establish where the weight of scientific agreement may be found and make that clear to audiences. The Trust also would like to reiterate that, as it said in 2011, “This does not mean that critical opinion should be excluded. Nor does it mean that scientific research shouldn’t be properly scrutinised.” The BBC has a duty to reflect the weight of scientific agreement but it should also reflect the existence of critical views appropriately. Audiences should be able to understand from the context and clarity of the BBC’s output what weight to give to critical voices.

Click to read more ...



Updated on Jul 4, 2014 by Registered CommenterBishop Hill

Robin Wylie, an academic at University College London, has written a fascinating piece at Live Science on volcanic emissions of carbon dioxide, which is an area of geoscience that is, like so many others, characterised more by ignorance than understanding - only 33 of the known 150 "smokers" have been examined by scientists.

According to Wylie, the latest research suggests that volcanic emissions are many times what they were thought to be a couple of decades ago:

In 1992, it was thought that volcanic degassing released something like 100 million tons of CO2 each year. Around the turn of the millennium, this figure was getting closer to 200. The most recent estimate, released this February, comes from a team led by Mike Burton, of the Italian National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology – and it’s just shy of 600 million tons. It caps a staggering trend: A six-fold increase in just two decades.

Click to read more ...


Lessons from the shop floor

John Shade posted this as a comment on the last post and commenters suggested that it was worthy of standing as a post in its own right. Having read it, I agree that it is well worth discussing.

One of the biggest breakthroughs in industrial statistics occurred in the 1920s when Dr Shewhart of the Bell Laboratories came up with a way to decide when it was likely that a cause of some of the observed variability in a system could be identified. He discovered that engineers and quality control managers, as well as machine operators, who ignored this method were liable to mount wasteful investigations into what they thought were odd or unacceptable data values, and almost inevitably make changes to the production process from which the data came. Such interventions generally made the process worse, i.e. with more variability that it had before. There was a great effort in those days to reduce the noise in telephone connections, and part of this was aimed at reducing the variation from one telephone handset to the next. They dreamed of replacing the old phrase 'as alike as two peas in a pod', with 'as alike as two telephones'. But many well-intentioned efforts were making things worse.

Click to read more ...


Where there is harmony, let us create discord

Updated on Jul 3, 2014 by Registered CommenterBishop Hill

My recent posts touching on statistical significance in the surface temperature records have prompted some interesting responses from upholders of the climate consensus, with the general theme being that Doug Keenan and I don't know what we are talking about.

This is odd, because as far as I can tell, everyone is in complete agreement.

Click to read more ...


The debate at the FST

A report of the recent climate change discussion at the Foundation for Science and Technology has been published here. Audio of the main speakers is available from the FST's website.

Featuring Mark Walport, Jim Skea, Peter Lilley and David Davies, the subject was "What is the right level of response to anthropogenic induced climate change?". From the report of proceedings, little new ground was broken. I was, however, interested to learn from Walport that it is "clear" that climate change is happening and that its impacts are already evident, a position of delicious imprecision: I imagine we are supposed to infer that he means manmade climate change, but of course manmade climate change is not "clear". As I have mentioned previously, I have put it to Walport that we are unable to demonstrate a statistically significant change in surface temperatures because of the difficulty in defining a statistical model that would describe the normal behaviour of surface temperatures, a claim that seems to have the support of the Met Office. I don't know of any other metric in which a statistically significant change has been demonstrated. Walport did not dispute my position on surface temperatures but suggested that seeing many observational metrics moving together led to a conclusion that manmade global warming was upon us.

This may be the case, but I wonder if there is a robust statistical analysis of to support Walport's position. Perhaps a letter is in order.

(Please could we avoid comments that are simply venting about Walport - stick to the issues please.)


Think before you vote

Tata Steel is to shed hundreds of jobs at its plant in Port Talbot. And the reasons?

Chief executive Karl Koehler said the changes were vital if the company was to remain competitive.

He pointed to the UK's high business rates and "uncompetitive" energy costs as factors in the decision.

So despite all those people who claim that energy costs are nothing to do with the flight of heavy industry from these shores, it seems quite clear that it is in fact an important factor.

It's interesting to consider that most of those who have been flung out of work probably voted for the area's Labour MP Hywel Francis, a proponent of an decarbonisation target during the passage of the recent Energy Bill (and apparently a former communist!). Francis is to stand down at the next election, replaced by the red prince, Stephen Kinnock, another keen advocate of renewables. So to some extent the people of Port Talbot may be the authors of their own misfortunes.

Neither the MP nor his prospective replacement appears to have commented on the news as yet. In such circumstances, keeping one's head down is probably wise.



The winter season at London's Royal Court Theatre this year includes a must-be-missed-at-all-costs event for climate geeks:

The season continues with Duncan Macmillan and Chris Rapley's 2071, beginning performances Nov. 5 prior to an official opening Nov. 6, for a run through Nov. 15. It is co-produced with Deutsches Schauspielhaus Hamburg, where the show will run for six performances between December 2014 and February 2015. Writer Duncan Macmillan has been talking to Chris Rapley, Professor of Climate Science at University Collete London and Chair of the London Climate Change Partnership. Working with director Katie Mitchell, a new piece of theatre has been created where the science is centerstage.

H/T Barry Woods


Yes, McCarthyism

Every time I mention climate McCarthyism I am crticised for overstating my case. But the evidence continues to flow thick and fast.

Exhibit A comes from Roger Pielke Jr, who reports that one of his former students is being harassed by a senior climate scientist simply for being Pielke's student.

Exhibit B meanwhile is from Steven Goddard, who reports that German climate scientist Victor Venema has been "checking out" his [Goddard's]  family members so that he can introduce their names in his online debates.

It's interesting that Roger seems to want to keep the name of the culprit under wraps. There could be any number of reasons for this - perhaps he is pursuing an official complaint or perhaps he simply recognises that nothing will be done about it. There is, after all, no offence so heinous that a university will not ignore it.


Shale and hearty

The British Geological Survey has just produced a report on Scotland's shale resources, similar to the headline grabbing one it did last year for the Bowland. As previously, this is an estimate of the oil and gas in the ground rather than an estimate of what can be economically extracted.

This study offers a range of total in-place oil resource estimates for the Carboniferous shale of the Midland Valley of Scotland of 3.2-6.0-11.2 billion bbl (421-793-1497 million tonnes) (Table 1). Total in-place gas resource estimates are 49.4–80.3–134.6 tcf (1.40–2.27–3.81 tcm). The West Lothian Oil-Shale unit makes the largest contribution to this estimated resource.
For references, UK gas demand is just below the 3 tcf level. So if we can get 10% of the gas in place out, that's 3 years of UK demand or perhaps 30 years (?) of Scottish demand. Not to be sneezed at.

Renewables just aren't worth it - Josh 281



Many thanks to Bjorn Lomborg for his help in putting this Infotoon together. There are also a couple of short but excellent videos on Bill Gates blog here - worth retweeting/sharing widely.

Cartoons by Josh


NOAAgate - Josh 280


The temperature adjustments story has been brewing for weeks principally due to the many posts at 'RealScience' but taken up by others, for example, Paul Homewood, see here and here. Judith Curry has a great post about it here, as does Anthony here.

H/t to Real Science/StevenGoddard for suggesting including Toto.

Cartoons by Josh