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The desperation of the polar bear scientist

According to New Scientist, some scientists recently discovered a polar bear eating a dolphin. This is not really a surprise since by all accounts polar bears will eat pretty much anything they can lay their paws on. Still, for the polar bear specialist it is a good opportunity to try to push a global warming story, so at the end of the article we get this:

As the climate warms, [polar bear specialist Ian] Stirling believes the sight of polar bears tucking into weird meals could become more common. Polar bears are "willing to take and use anything possible when available", he says.

Which just goes to show how low polar bear scientists will go in their desperation to keep the funds flowing.


Guardian's gargantuan garbage

The Guardian is going full-on bonkers over climate change this morning. Much like most other mornings I suppose.

Today's dose of hysteria is about what climate change is going to do to our weekends, and author Karl Mathiesen insists that beer, chocolate and coffee are all going the way of the dinosaurs and that the weather is going to be rubbish to boot.

OK, pick a claim and fact check it. Let's take the beer:

Click to read more ...


A fracking barney

Take a look at Fox News's interview of anti-fracking campaigner Josh Fox. I'm not sure I've ever seen an interviewer called a liar live on air. I must say, I think you would have to be a bit less shifty-eyed to carry it off.


The proposed Swansea Bay tidal lagoon

These notes from a presentation to the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) at Taunton on 13th January 2015 were taken by Phillip Bratby.


Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay (TSLB)[1] was founded by its CEO Mark Shorrock in 2012.  He has a long history of involvement in renewable energy (CEO of Shire Oak Energy, Low Carbon Group, Low Carbon Investors Ltd and Wind Energy Ltd).

Finance of the initial phase of tidal lagoon development is being funded by Mark Shorrock to the tune of about £20m.  Thereafter it is expected that institutional investors would fund the construction and would become shareholders.

Click to read more ...


The new man on the ECC

The SNP have, you will recall, been allocated the chairmanship of the Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee and they have now put forward their "candidate" to sit in that role: Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil. His background is interesting: as an engineer he might be expected to have at least a small clue about energy projects, although his support for renewables seems pretty unwavering. That, I suppose, we should put down to pork-barrel politics.

His record on climate is patchy, however, having voted for the Climate Change Act, but having managed to absent himself from several more recent votes that touch on the subject. We will wait and see, if more in hope than expectation.


Andy Microband Burnham

The news that unconventional gas has become an issue in the Labour party leadership campaign is interesting. Andy Burnham is generally seen as something of a moderniser - he has proposed abolishing inheritance tax and tough law and order policies among other things. However, he has also been associated with the Brownite left from time to time and might therefore be best seen as being a man of flexible principles.

It's hard therefore to know what to make of his decision to come out against unconventional gas, apart from observing that his comments on the subject - saying we need stronger evidence of its safety, and that licences are handed out "like confetti" - suggest that he is quite remarkably ill-informed.

Click to read more ...


IPCC: climate misinformers

Warren Pearce has a new paper out in Nature Climate Change that looks at the 2013 WGI press conference and the pickle that Thomas Stocker got into in trying to rebut questions about the pause.

Here we demonstrate that speakers at the press conference for the publication of the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report (Working Group 1; ref. 1) attempted to make the documented level of certainty of anthropogenic global warming (AGW) more meaningful to the public. Speakers attempted to communicate this through reference to short-term temperature increases. However, when journalists enquired about the similarly short ‘pause’2 in global temperature increase, the speakers dismissed the relevance of such timescales, thus becoming incoherent as to ‘what counts’ as scientific evidence for AGW. We call this the ‘IPCC’s certainty trap’. This incoherence led to confusion within the press conference and subsequent condemnation in the media3. The speakers were well intentioned in their attempts to communicate the public implications of the report, but these attempts threatened to erode their scientific credibility. In this instance, the certainty trap was the result of the speakers’ failure to acknowledge the tensions between scientific and public meanings. Avoiding the certainty trap in the future will require a nuanced accommodation of uncertainties and a recognition that rightful demands for scientific credibility need to be balanced with public and political dialogue about the things we value and the actions we take to protect those things.

Click to read more ...


Rudd to meet climate untouchables

The news that DECC minister Amber Rudd is to meet with Nigel Lawson in the near future is intriguing. After years of DECC bigwigs refusing to meet anyone who wasn't an environmentalist or attached firmly to the taxpayer's teat (or preferably both), one can only wonder what civil servants are making of it all. You can almost picture the horror on the faces of the Whitehall greens.

Rare though it may be, one should not expect too much from such an occasion. Ms Rudd seems quite clear that she is seeking to persuade Lawson of her views rather than trying to learn anything. And as we know from the Slingo correspondence from 2010, the climate bureaucracy sees its role as rebutting anything Lawson says. One therefore assumes that Ms Rudd's staff will be particularly attentive in the hours and days after Lawson leaves the premises.

Click to read more ...


Pyrotechnics: feature or bug?

Another day, another recycling facility goes up in smoke. This time it's the Viridor plastics recycling facility in Chatham, which is sure to give the fire services an entertaining time trying to deal with rivers of molten plastic as well as the flames and the noxious fumes.



Last time we had a major recycling facility blaze, it turned out to be arson and with recyclers turning to ash at an alarming rate of knots you have to wonder if such pyrotechnics are not actually a bug, but instead are a feature of a system that bribes people to process low-value materials at high cost.


Annoying ad

I appear to have been hacked and readers are seeing an annoying floating ad. I'm attempting to deal with it. In the meantime, blocking scripts from seems to help.


Don't Ever Name It A Lull - Josh 331


There is lots of news about science ending The Pause - so I am guessing they will call it a lull next and then shortly after that we will be told the one thing we cannot call it is... a lull.

As an extra bonus distraction why not think up what D.E.N.I.A.L. might stand for?

Cartoons by Josh

[Typo fixed, many thanks Leo!]


Obamas housekarls dance to his warming tune

Over the last few days I have been copied in on a great deal of correspondence about a new paper in Science from Tom Karl and colleagues, which has "blatant act of political propaganda" written all over it. The claim is that the pause in surface temperature rises is an artefact of the data and that a great deal of jiggery pokery is peformed on the numbers it is possible to get a graph that shows continued warming. The pause is no more.

This could only be written with Paris in mind.

Fortunately, Science distributed the paper to journalists sufficiently early for it to be widely circulated and quite a few people have now had a look. Some of them have even stopped laughing for long enough to write down their thoughts.

Click to read more ...


Carbon Brief on the Sahel

The Carbon Brief is doing one of those "news management" pieces that inevitably follow anything that could reasonably be construed as representing good news on the climate change front. As readers are aware, a recent paper pointed to increases in rainfall in the Sahel, seeking to link these to global warming.

This of course was rather off-message and such heterodoxy has to be dealt with. Step forward Roz Pidcock and Robert McSweeney whose factcheck (a monicker that is presumably facetious) put forwards a corrective from the paper's lead author: that climate change is "helping Africa" are misleading and that a temporary respite from the Sahel drought is no reason to slow action on tackling climate change.

Click to read more ...


The APS taken to task

This was emailed to me this afternoon. The contents are self-explanatory.

What follows is a letter that we sent to the current President of the American Physical Society (APS) with a copy to members of the Society’s Presidential Line Officers. Because of the serious issues pertaining to the integrity of APS — one of the world’s premier scientific societies (with upwards of 50,000 members) — we have decided to make the letter public.

SIGNATORIES (2 June 2015)—

Roger Cohen Fellow, American Physical Society
Laurence I. Gould Past Chair (2004) New England Section of the American Physical Society
William Happer Cyrus Fogg Professor of Physics, Emeritus Princeton University

May 8, 2015

Samuel Aronson
President, American Physical Society
One Physics Ellipse College Park, MD 20740-3844

Dear Dr. Aronson,

As three members of the American Physical Society, we are writing on behalf of the nearly 300 other members who signed our 2009 and 2010 petitions to the APS taking strong exception to the 2007 Statement on Climate Change. Those petitions called for an objective assessment of the underlying science, leading to a more scientifically defensible Statement.

Click to read more ...


Texas models

There has been a bit of flooding in Texas and, with weary inevitability, the activist-inclined press are wondering about connections to climate change. The Conversation US has invited Texas state climatologist John Nielson-Gammon to explain and to be fair he makes a reasonable fist of it, but there is still the usual tendency to discuss climate model outputs in their current state of disarray as if they were meaningful. Take this for example:

Studies have shown the odds of very intense rainfall in this part of the country have gone up substantially over last century. The cause and effect with climate change and surface temperature is fairly direct. There’s definitely a connection there.

No there isn't. Climate models have little ability to predict rainfall, and none at all at local levels. Even the IPCC describes their abilities in this area as "modest". If there is "definitely" a connection, if the thermodynamics are so simple, why do climate models do so badly?

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