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Arctic life spiral

The decline of the Arctic sea ice is a perennial favourite among our millennarian friends, with "Death Spiral" being  favoured buzzwords used to keep the subject in the front of people's minds. Here's an example from shouty* (official) skeptic Phil Plait.

However, new light is thrown on the subject by a paper in Geophysical Research Letters (H/T Hockey Schtick) which finds strong covariability between sea ice levels and the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation. In other words a significant chunk of the variability seems to be entirely natural.

It's life, Jim, and just as we know it.


*Is it just me, or is everyone involved in the Skeptics Society incapable of speaking without shouting?



Krugman homeopath

Paul Krugman is considering Michael Mann this morning. Amazingly, the great man is trying to resurrect the Hockey Stick.

Mann, as some of you may know, is a hard-working scientist who used indirect evidence from tree rings and ice cores in an attempt to create a long-run climate record. His result was the famous “hockey stick” of sharply rising temperatures in the age of industrialization and fossil fuel consumption. His reward for that hard work was not simply assertions that he was wrong — which he wasn’t — but a concerted effort to destroy his life and career with accusations of professional malpractice, involving the usual suspects on the right but also public officials, like the former Attorney General of Virginia.

He wasn't wrong? Like our friend Anders, Mr Krugman could really do with getting himself a copy of The Hockey Stick Illusion. Like Anders, I don't suppose he will.

Mr Krugman, you really do need to centre your data if you are going to do principal components analysis. Really you do. There is not a reputable statistician who has ever looked at this question and concluded that Mann got it right. I wonder if Mr Krugman is a fan of the Mann view that not centring your data properly is "modern" (and therefore OK) or whether he favours the Gerald North view that you can use a biased method and inappropriate data and still arrive at the right answer.

Homeopathy has nothing on climate science.



There’s something fishy about our journalists

This is a guest post by Danny Weston.

Just a few days ago our old friend, the Telegraph’s Geoffrey Lean, was rightly excoriated on this blog for yet another appallingly biased - not to mention incompetent – screed further justifying his apparent fear of imminent human caused thermageddon. Now it’s not news to any regular readers here that many of our glorious hacks appear to throw out all pretense of professionalism and impartiality when it comes to the issue of the seemingly ever omnipotent CO2 molecule belched from the belly of human industry. Motivated reasoning seems to be the root cause. Or is it? I’d like to propose an altogether more frightening theory – that in many cases it is in fact sheer incompetence that is the driving force and the reliance on climate catastrophist talking points is more an effect than a cause. It gives them a nice, tidy, heuristic for them to hang everything on, minimising their need to do their own research, editing or indeed, even thinking.

To explain why I’d like to talk through a number of personal anecdotes that all tie in together in various ways with both Lean’s article and his behaviour.

Click to read more ...



The debate at the Belladrum festival was a bit of a shambles to tell the truth. The festival itself looked as though it was going swimmingly, but the "Verb Garden", the bit where I was appearing, seemed to have been organised by the University of the Highlands and Islands and arrangements left more than a little to be desired in my opinion.

Having given up my day and driven three hours to the festival, I got my accreditation without any problems. However, I was then told that I could go and queue up with the other punters if I wanted a cup of coffee. No spliffs, no groupies, no nothing. Hmm. I hooked up with John Shade fairly soon afterwards and we had a nice chat and an expensive sandwich while awaiting our moment in the spotlight.

Click to read more ...


Rank renewables - Josh 284

Another story about mad 'renewables', this time a scheme for burning rubbish (which presumably increases CO2 emissions). The company 'Waste4fuel' have piled up 20,000 tonnes of rubbish but neglected to burn any of it for energy, leaving it, for a number of years, to stink out the neighbourhood and spontaneously catch fire - read about it on the Mail or Express websites, even on the BBC website. 

Cartoons by Josh


Rock 'n' roll

Today I'm off to Inverness, to the Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival. This is a proper festival with a bill topped by Tom Jones and Razorlight and featuring those other rock 'n' roll giants, the Singing Kettle. Somewhere down near the bottom of the bill (and in a font so small as to be invisible) are John Shade and I. We are appearing in a panel debate about global warming, which takes place in the "Verb Garden" tent - a sort of festival within a festival, focusing on the spoken word.

We are up against a meteorologist and a green energy chap if I remember correctly, and I'm sure we will need our wits about us. John and I will therefore have to refrain from spliffs and groupies in the backstage area beforehand.

The things I do for the cause...


Protesting too much

Simon Jenkins has written in the Spectator about Owen Paterson's comments about the green blob. He claims that the National Trust, the organisation he chairs, is so diverse in its membership that nobody could possibly drive it to support a political agenda.

It is no self-appointed, let alone globe-trotting, lobby. It is four million members who are unlikely to agree on anything beyond a car park and a cup of tea. On badgers, foxes, turbines, fracking, high-speed rail or third runways, the trust embraces every view under the sun. On politics it is a many-headed hydra, not a blob.

Click to read more ...


Lean outdoes himself

Even by his own high standards, Geoffrey Lean's latest piece in the Telegraph, is quite extraordinarily daft, a silly piece, from a silly journalist, for the silly season.

Global warming, climate sceptics keep saying, has stopped for the last 16 years or so...The sceptics base their claim on just one measurement of warming, the temperature of air near the earth's surface , whose increase has indeed slowed down recently, though it has not stopped growing.

This is of course drivel. Sceptics do not base this claim on only one measurement. Satellite measurements of the troposphere show the pause just as the surface temperatures do. Global sea ice levels remain above their long-term average. And the pause is clearly visible in the current graph from GISSTEMP, the only record that has been alleged to still show a positive trend this century.

Lean then goes on to say that sea surface temperatures around the UK have gone up by, erm, 1.6% (although I'm not sure if he is working in Kelvin or Centigrade!) and goes on to say that this is affecting fish ranges:

Cod and haddock, for example, are now rarely found wild in British waters. They are being replaced by warmer water species like sea bass, hake, gurnard, red mullet and anchovies, while John Dory – once only found off Cornwall – has spread through the North Sea up to Scotland. Diets, however, have yet to change to match.

Do you think the cod and haddock thing might be something to do with overfishing? And what about the warm-water species thing? This paper shows a considerable John Dory catch off the Hebrides in the mid-1990s (see Fig 2). Red mullet are found halfway to Iceland. And while we are about it, it's also worth pointing out that top-of-the-ocean temperatures are another climate series that shows a pause, whether you find such records convincing or not.

And newspaper owners wonder why they are going out of business.


Forecast = projection = scenario

Matt Briggs has a post addressing the argument that climatologists are not making forecasts, they are doing projections. This argument, which has always struck me as a master piece of obfuscation, seems not to hold up under scrutiny.

Perhaps afficionados of "projections" can explain why he is wrong.


The crony capitalism candidate?

Bloomberg New Energy Finance enjoys a certain reputation among watchers of the climate and energy scene, exhibiting a tendency to talk down the costs of wind energy by various nefarious means. They have also produced a report that talked up the cost of shale gas, without actually letting anyone see where their figures came from.

It's interesting then to see that the BNEF's founder Michael Liebreich is considering putting himself forward to be the Conservative candidate for mayor of London. Greg Barker, one of the leading lights of the Tories' crony capitalist wing, has already tweeted his support as have a motley selection of environmentalists and even a trade unionist.


Thingummydoodle noodle

Brandon Shollenberger has a lovely post up looking at some recent comments by Skeptical Science insider Tom Curtis and Anders Thingummydoodle from the "And Then There's Physics" blog. Readers will remember Anders as the chap who berated me about one of my posts on Doug Keenan's work, saying that it was a physical model you needed in order to understand what was causing global warming. This despite my having said almost precisely that in the blog post.

Anyway, Anders has been sounding off about the Hockey Stick, accusing McIntyre and McKitrick of all manner of sins and demonstrating in the process that he has absolutely no idea of how Mann got from his raw data through to his final reconstruction. His allegations are therefore completely and utterly wrong.

Click to read more ...


Quote of the day

This was an awful thing to do. It was damaging to innocent participants. It is unethical to do this to your participants. It is wildly unethical to invite people to participate in a study, and then do this to them. They are helping us. They are volunteering to participate in scientific research. They've take time out of their lives to help us out. And in return, we slander them? We tell the world that they believe things that they do not believe? What Lewandowsky and colleagues did here was despicable and fraudulent. Why would anyone participate in a social psychology study if this is what we do to them? Why would anyone participate in research if our goal is to marginalize them in public life, to lie about them, to say that they think the moon landing was a hoax, to say they don't think HIV causes AIDS, to say they don't believe smoking causes lung cancer – when none of those things are true. Do we hate our participants?

Social psychologist Jose Duarte considers Lewandowsky's Moon Hoax paper.



Some people are experiencing positively glacial performance from the site. It's an issue with Squarespace, who are investigating.


Bureaucrats are above the law

From the USA come further evidence that the bureaucracy there is out of control and above the law. I suspect the same is the case here in the UK. The story revolves around Chris Horner's ongoing attempts to get hold of correspondence of senior staff within the Environmental Protection Agency and in particular their text messages. The response of officials seems to have been wholesale deletion of the relevant records, directly flouting data retention legislation.

...they are destroying them, illegally. This isn't a "gaping open-records loophole," it is wanton lawbreaking because the law is quite clear.

The texts EPA produced on Friday prove that EPA's IT system does not automatically delete text messages; that is, for messages not to be there now, they had to be deleted from the system.

These texts also show that not everyone destroyed all of their messages, as McCarthy has admitted she did. Her behavior was deliberate, serial and flagrant.

Congress is doing nothing; the Justice Department is doing whatever it can to ensure the lawbreaking goes unpunished. It is therefore down to the courts to enforce the law.

I'm not holding my breath.




Windfarm critic fired by Danish university

Another day, another researcher on the receiving end of retribution from his green-minded colleagues. The story this time comes from Denmark, where a leading expert on infrasound, in particular infrasound generated from windfarms, has lost his job at Aalborg University. English translations of the coverage in the Danish newspapers is here:

He is not only known as the country's leading noise researcher, but also as a person who with his academic qualifications has repeatedly challenged and criticized both the EPA and the wind turbine industry for misinforming others about the low‐frequency noise that large wind turbines emit.

Now the 63‐year‐old professor Henrik Møller has been fired from Aalborg University after 38 years of service, and the reason is that the professor is no longer sufficient financially lucrative for its faculty.

The official explanation is that I do not earn enough money. Apparently I am not my money's worth, because I've spent my time on wind turbines. But I know there have been many years where my activities have resulted in quite a substantial income. Besides, statistically, it is probably about half of the faculty members who make a loss...

H/T John Droz.

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