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Monday, March 31, 2014

Some reactions to WGII

Sou | 10:55 PM Go to the first of 18 comments. Add a comment

Human interference with the climate system is occurring, and climate change poses risks for human and natural systems.

So opens the Summary for Policy Makers of WGII, Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability.

Here is a sample of the blogger reactions and (pre-release) news items about the IPCC AR5 WGII report.

Judith Curry said yesterday that she had "yet to read the entire WG2 Report" (surprise surprise, seeing it hadn't been released at the time), but expressed the view that threats on the timescale of the 21st century are not existential.  I don't know what Judith meant by existential threats. She might have meant to the all life on Earth, to the human race, to a single nation anywhere or just to the USA. Although some island nations may be facing an existential threat this century, I'm not aware of anyone suggesting that a major nation or humanity or Earth as a whole could disappear.  However it is likely that if we don't mitigate, then society will face serious challenges.

Judith pointed her readers to Andrew Lillicoe who writes for The Telegraph, who wrote that we don't need to make any serious effort to cut carbon emissions. He's wrong.
Our first step in adapting to climate change should be to accept that we aren't going to mitigate it. We're going to have to adapt. That doesn't mean there might not be the odd mitigation-type policy, around the edges, that is cheap and feasible and worthwhile. But it does mean that the grandiloquent schemes for preventing climate change should go. Their day is done. Even the IPCC – albeit implicitly – sees that now.

You can read some about Andrew Lillicoe here.

The Independent on 18 March wrote an article that took a fairly broad-based approach, including mention of climate migration and cost.
Climate change will displace hundreds of millions of people by the end of this century, increasing the risk of violent conflict and wiping trillions of dollars off the global economy, a forthcoming UN report will warn. 

Suzanne Goldenberg for the Guardian on 28 March also wrote a general article, mainly about weather, flooding and water security.  As with some other writers, she noted that:
Climate change has already left its mark "on all continents and across the oceans", damaging food crops, spreading disease, and melting glaciers, according to the leaked text of a blockbuster UN climate science report due out on Monday.

Aaron Akinyemi in the International Business Times on March 30, 2014 (before WGII release) focused on world stability and security, opening with:
Climate change is likely to undermine global security and exacerbate civil wars, a major new UN report warns.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), extreme weather patterns will complicate existing conflicts over resources such as water and energy, leading to further instability.

Megan Rowling for Thomas Reuters Foundation took a softer approach but nevertheless pointed out that the report emphasised that our response needs to include both mitigation and adaptation. She also wrote that there are limits to adaptation.

Justin Gilles from the NY Times made an interesting point:
The poorest people in the world, who have had virtually nothing to do with causing global warming, will be high on the list of victims as climatic disruptions intensify, the report said. It cited a World Bank estimate that poor countries need as much as $100 billion a year to try to offset the effects of climate change; they are now getting, at best, a few billion dollars a year in such aid from rich countries.
The $100 billion figure, though included in the 2,500-page main report, was removed from a 48-page executive summary to be read by the world’s top political leaders. It was among the most significant changes made as the summary underwent final review during a days long editing session in Yokohama. 
The edit came after several rich countries, including the United States, raised questions about the language, according to several people who were in the room at the time but did not wish to be identified because the negotiations are private.
The language is contentious because poor countries are expected to renew their demand for aid this September in New York at a summit meeting of world leaders, who will attempt to make headway on a new treaty to limit greenhouse gases.

Anti-science blogger Anthony Watts' reaction was forgettable (archived here).  He tried to downplay WGII after his moan of a headline and opening:
The IPCC WGII report is out – now the screaming begins anew
Not so much fanfare now, since leaks pretty much revealed earlier that it’s alarmism on steroids. The always dependably worrisome Seth Borenstein, AP’s science reporter, sums up the alarmism quite well with this tweet:

The tweet being this one. Anthony then went on to copy the headlines from the Summary for Policy Makers but didn't add much more.  Only he copied them from Working Group 1- oh my! (h/t Anonymous). He buried his article under a couple of much more important announcements from his point of view (archived here):
  • The Death of the Bloggies, signified by the fact that The Bloggie awards have been commandeered by climate deniers in all sorts of categories unrelated to climate (Tallbloke won the best European blog, GWPF won the best politics blog, ClimateAudit won the best topical blog, JoNova the lifetime achievement and WUWT a couple of equally ridiculous categories! ), and
  • His followers awarded Professor Michael Mann the WUWT award of Climate Duplicist of the Year.  Which is as zany as you'd expect from WUWT.  If anyone epitomised "what you see is what you get", then it's Michael Mann.  He's about the last person you'd accuse of being "duplicitous".  Outspoken, apparently fearless, yes. Occasionally over-reacts - some would say, though who can blame him after the treatment he's had for the past fifteen years or more.  Definitely not duplicitous.

You can download the WGII report here, which is what I'm doing now. I've been having some trouble accessing the site but it seems to be okay again.

IPCC WG II is this space for reactions (later)

Sou | 3:06 PM Go to the first of 3 comments. Add a comment

I've an article in the works on the "pre" and "post" reaction to the IPCC AR5 WGII report, but won't get back to it for a few hours yet.  In the meantime, you can download the Summary for Policy Makers and the final full draft here.

Feel free to comment about the report or reactions to same.

Denier weirdness: WGII has unbalanced Anthony Watts @wattsupwiththat

Sou | 5:51 AM Go to the first of 10 comments. Add a comment

Talking about the unbalanced. Anthony Watts is is on a roll.

Whenever he sees something he doesn't like his vocabulary takes a dive.  Today he has an article (archived here) full of lies, half-truths and disinformation.  It's peppered with the word - "hate", which he reverts to when he gets upset. In addition to the headline, he's used the word eight more times.  It's as if he loses any command of vocabulary when something displeases him.  He started his article like this:

HATE WEEK on the Climate Certainty Channel™
What a week this has been. In preparation for the release of the IPCC Working Group II report, hate speech against climate skeptics seems to have ramped up and turned into a week-long unreality show. 

Perhaps it's the realisation that WGII is not going to be what Matt Ridley said it would be.  Who knows.  Whatever it is, Anthony Watts lashes out at all and sundry.

First up he once again misconstrues what Professor Torcello wrote. By now we can only conclude it's quite deliberate.  Anthony notes that others have pointed out that he misrepresented Lawrence Torcello, yet he still claims that he wrote that deniers should be jailed.  What Lawrence Torcello actually wrote was that "an organised campaign funding misinformation ought to be considered criminally negligent".  Not "deniers" and not "jail". It's the people funding misinformation that he had a go at.

I reckon Anthony wants to rally his lynch mob to keep up the pressure.

Next Anthony has the effrontery to claim that And Then There's Physics blog "allows hate speech".  He even does this while linking to his own WUWT article where he shows that the comment in question was deleted shortly after it appeared! Showing the complete opposite.  And Then There's Physics bends over backwards in "trying to keep the discussion civil" - and does a great job too.

Anthony goes on to list all the other people who offended him, including a blogger, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, everyone who criticised Roger Pielke Jr, including Nate Silver for "caving in", and the Anti-Defamation League for not sticking up for climate science deniers.

He ends up by posting a old fudged chart of Roy Spencer's that was even worse than this one, writing:
As reality (measurements) diverge from models, becoming more uncertain,  the certainty of the IPCC gets stronger, and the hateful rhetoric ramps up to match the mean.

Anthony is feeling very put upon.  He's probably let down by the likelihood that WGII won't, after all, spell "game over for climate alarm".

From the WUWT comments (Warning)

This epitomises the comments and is probably the reaction that Anthony was hoping for. (Warning - it's ugly.) twg2a PitBull says:
March 30, 2014 at 11:00 am
I want those evil beasts to continue hating me, calling me filthy names and spitting in my face. Do you know why? Because every time they do, it makes me even more determined to fight them until we win, or until I die. When evil people hate me because I am trying to do what’s right, it gives me great strength. Sooooo, keep it up lefties. I thrive on your hatred. Thank You.. 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Who to believe - wattsupwiththat or WUWT?

Sou | 5:31 PM Go to the first of 13 comments. Add a comment

It was only yesterday that Anthony Watts commented about the IPCC WGII report that it signalled:

Ouch. Game over for climate alarm.
That comment from Anthony was based on an article by Matt Ridley, which Anthony liked so much he made it a "top sticky post".  Matt Ridley wrote about the WGII report (that should be out tomorrow) that "Even while it exaggerates the amount of warming, the IPCC is becoming more cautious about its effects."

How opinions can turn in an instant.  Today Anthony is urging his readers (archived here):
The Working Group II IPCC report from the big shindig in Japan this week will be making headlines shortly, but take those headlines with a grain of salt.

Anthony copied the article in which Richard Tol said: "The drafts became too alarmist,".  Richard has a different reaction to Matt Ridley when faced with reality. Matt denies, Richard hides.

The dumbo's at WUWT will be more confused than ever.  Which is it? "Too alarmist" or "game over for climate alarm"? The GWPF will be in a tizz, too.  Both Richard Tol and Matt Ridley are "academically advising" them!

If you want to read more about these contrarian contradictions, I wrote about them yesterday.

From the WUWT comments

There aren't many comments yet.  I'll post one which probably referred to this excerpt from the WUWT copy and paste:
He [Richard Tol] said, for instance, farmers could grow new and different crops to offset any negative impacts from climate change that impacted food supplies.
“They will adapt,” Mr. Tol said, Reuters reported. “Farmers are not stupid.”

bushbunny, who is probably from Australia, says:
March 29, 2014 at 10:59 pm
Oh, yes, like the suggestion Australians should dump sheep and cattle, and farm kangaroos.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Unbalanced Antagonism: The UWA Vice-Chancellor stands up to a "vexatious" blogger

Sou | 3:14 PM Go to the first of 56 comments. Add a comment

Update (9 April 2014)

Professor Ugo Bardi resigns in protest :

"I am taking the strongest action I can take, that is I am resigning from "Chief Specialty Editor" of Frontiers in protest against the behavior of the journal in the "Recursive Fury" case. I sent to the editors a letter today, stating my intention to resign."

Addendum - I've added an addendum on "psychological disorders".

...or "Go Jump", Stephen McIntyre!

At WUWT Anthony Watts posted a teaser at WUWT (archived here), which was the first bit of an article by Steve McIntyre from ClimateAudit (archived here, updated here).  Steve's nose is out of joint because he couldn't get personal details (ie IP addresses) of people who responded to the "moon landing" survey conducted by Stephan Lewandowsky of UWA and colleagues.

Steve McIntyre is a Canadian blogger who is or used to be involved in mining companies. He spends a lot of time trying to prove all the scientists are wrong.  His main tools are rhetoric, hyperbole, MS Excel, R and a perpetual sense of aggrievement that few outside of the denier blogosphere will give him the time of day.  He has no scientific expertise in climate or any relevant qualifications - and it shows. His personal qualities of obsessive compulsiveness, innate paranoia, general ungraciousness, tendency to deceive when it suits him, a reputation for shifting from request to harassment, and generally unlikeable cyber-personality fit him well for the role he's chosen at this late stage in his life.

Steve got a response from UWA, which he isn't shy about sharing, so I see no need to be reluctant to post the letter either.

Here it is.  It's from the Vice-Chancellor himself as posted by Steve McIntyre (archived here).

Dear Mr McIntyre,
I refer to your series of emails to University officers including Professor Maybery and myself (which you have copied to other recipients including the Australian Research Council) in which you request access to Professor Lewandowsky’s data.
I am aware that you have made inflammatory statements on your weblog “Climate Audit” under the heading “Lewandowsky Ghost-wrote Conclusions of UWA Ethics Investigation into “Hoax”” including attacks on the character and professionalism of University staff. It is apparent that your antagonism towards Professor Lewandowsky’s research is so unbalanced that there is no useful purpose to be served in corresponding with you further. I regard your continued correspondence to be vexatious and there will be no further response to your requests for data.
Yours faithfully,
Professor Paul Johnson,

About bloody time, is all I can say.  No, I don't mean that Professor Johnson should have replied sooner.  I mean it's about bloody time someone other than the harassed researchers themselves told Steve McIntyre where to go.  And I'm proud to say it was the Vice-Chancellor of an Australian university that told him to go jump in no uncertain terms.

Of course I don't know if the Vice-Chancellor of the University of East Anglia has ever put him straight or any of the other Vice-Chancellors or Rectors or whoever is the Person-in-Charge of different universities in the world.  Whether they have or they haven't, Steve has now made public a letter than I hope will be produced and waved in front of every single one of them if one of their academic or general staff ever gets approached by The Auditor or one of his followers doing his bidding.

If you think that the Vice-Chancellor's response was a bit over-the-top, it's not.  Just have a gander at this. Steve is obsessed, frustrated because he isn't able to understand the stats. He accuses Professor Lewandowsky of fraud and fakery in multiple articles.  He even dreams up conspiracy theories of his own.  And while you read through his litany of articles note that he doesn't put up multiple dumb articles every day like Anthony Watts.  He posts maybe two or three a week on average - and that's in a prolific month.

Notice how Steve focuses almost solely on Professor Lewandowsky and ignores the fact that the moon landing paper had two other authors, including Prof. Dr Klaus Oberauer and A/Prof Gilles Gignac.  I expect that Stephan Lewandowsky and Klaus Oberauer are more than sufficiently able to apply statistical analysis to their research.  Still, they brought Gilles Gignac on board.  Gilles is an expert in psychometric analysis.  He's worked for commercial organisations as well as his academic research.

Here are just a few of the articles by Steve McIntyre:

Anatomy of the Lewandowsky Scam (a large part of this article was a long complaint about how people use the word "deniers" when referring to people who deny science, as in "climate science deniers".)

Trying (Unsuccessfully) to Replicate Lewandowsky - where he confesses that the statistics used by the researchers (and common in cognitive science) is beyond him.  He can't treat the data like he does core tops.  In this one he even says "My guess is that SEM either does not permit “robust” techniques or that Lewandowsky didnt know how to use them."  But there is more to statistics than Steve knows or understands.  Steve is trying to learn some new statistics but doesn't have what it takes and as far as I can tell, he's never bothered to learn in all the time he's had since. (See here and  here for discussions of the stats. And here's a short introduction to Exploratory Factor Analysis if you're interested.)

I did a search for "exploratory factor analysis" on climate audit and didn't see anywhere that Steve McIntyre used the term, though I found a page where some other people drew it to his attention (which he seems to have ignored). Which leads into where Steve accuses Professor Lewandowsky of being a conspiracy theorist:

Conspiracy-Theorist Lewandowsky Tries to Manufacture Doubt

Lewandowsky’s Fake Correlation - another article in which Steve accuses fakery and shows his incompetence at stats.

More Deception in the Lewandowsky Data As well as the title, this article is significant for being the only mention of a "replicate" survey conducted at WUWT, which Steve didn't analyse properly and which was subsequently buried.  AFAIK it never ever saw the light of day from that point onward.

Oh, that's just a small number of the multiple articles by Steve McIntyre accusing Professor Lewandowsky of all sorts of nefarious actions (refer to "Recursive Furies" to see subscribing nefarious intent can be a marker of conspiracy ideation :D)  And how Steve liberally spatters his headlines and articles with words such as "scam", "fake", "deception" and "fraudulent".  There are loads more where that came from - and more and still more and there's even a fourth page of them.

The letter from the University of Western Australia Vice-Chancellor will not help Steve McIntyre next time he decides to host and foster a harassment campaign against climate scientists (or cognitive scientists or climate philosophers).

PS Steve has said he's trying to get someone else to surreptitiously get data for him to misconstrue.  Guess who else put up his hand. None other than Eric "eugenics" Worrall!

Addendum on psychological disorders

I noticed in his email to the Head of the School of Psychology at UWA (which Steve signed with "regards"!), that Steve McIntyre states that in the Recursive Fury paper, the authors, or to be precise, that one of the authors (Stephan Lewandowsky - not sure how Steve figured which author wrote what):
"purported to diagnose that I have psychological disorders".  

I looked for any mention of Steve in that paper and I didn't see anywhere that alleged he had "psychological disorders".  All I found was one reference in the text (to McI) and his name in Table 3, listing four separate hypotheses on his blog, which between them could be classified as NI=nefarious intent; NS=nihilistic skepticism; PV=persecuted victim; MbW=must be wrong; NoA=no accident; and UCT=unreflexive counterfactual thinking.

I didn't see anything in the paper that states that evidence of conspiracy ideation means a person has "psychological disorders".  The words "psychological disorder" were not used in the paper. There was this sentence that could indicate where conspiracist ideation rates in terms of "psychological disorder"
We suggest that conspiracist ideation, like most other psychological constructs (e.g., extraversion), represents a continuum that finds expression to varying extents in theories of varying scope.

Does this mean that Steve thinks all extraverts have a psychological disorder?

Perhaps Steve's comment is more evidence of PV=persecuted victim with a hint of MbW=must be wrong.     Then again I CbW=could be wrong, because I'm not an expert in cognitive science.

Added by Sou 30 March 2014.

From the WUWT comments

The usual moans and lies from WUWT.

Lil Fella from OZ says ... er what?:
March 28, 2014 at 5:45 pm
Let’s close ranks!

Velcro tells a big fat lie and says:
March 28, 2014 at 6:25 pm
Never expect a university with ivy on the walls to ever change or admit its errors. No wonder UWA is now the last ranked university in WA

No it's not ranked last. It's ranked first.  There are five universities in Western Australia - Curtin, Edith Cowan, Murdoch, University of Notre Dame and the University of Western Australia.  Of these, only one is ranked among the top 200 universities in the world and that's the University of Western Australia, on The Times Higher Education World University Rankings.  It ranks 7th in Australia on this world ranking.

Ric Werme says "I'll show you, Professor Lewandowsky" - ha ha ha ha ha
March 28, 2014 at 6:17 pm
That does it, I’m voting for Lewandowsky as ‘Climate Duplicitist of the Year’ award. Perhaps there should be a team category too.

hunter is a master orator - not! and says:
March 28, 2014 at 6:16 pm
That is how guilty arrogant babies respond after being called out.

bushbunny points out that UWA is not all bad :) - except he's wrong AFAIK, and says:
March 28, 2014 at 6:35 pm
Didn’t Tim Flannery also work there once? Why don’t you check that out.

On contrarian contradictions and the newest IPCC report, featuring Matt Ridley and Richard Tol

Sou | 4:37 AM Go to the first of 4 comments. Add a comment

Anthony Watts on Nicholas Stern

On WUWT today, Anthony Watts reported a segment of the ABC Lateline interview of Nicholas Stern by Tony Jones.  I've already mentioned it a couple of times briefly. Anthony seems stuck for words.  All he said about the interview was a leading headline and a rhetorical statement (archived here):
Now even Australia’s ABC is asking questions about the new IPCC report and why Dr. Richard Tol asked his name to be removed from it
h/t to WUWT reader Pat. We are witnessing the crumbling of the consensus mindset. Stern looked like a deer in headlights.
Nicholas Stern is challenged by ABC’s Tony Jones on China/coal/renewables propaganda, and comes out looking very foolish indeed. The Richard Tol stuff is predictable:

Richard Tol spat the dummy - last September

While to Anthony Watts Australia might seem like a backwater, our current affairs programs rival most of what I've seen in the USA.  Richard Tol's dummy spit was mentioned by Peter Hannam of the Sydney Morning Herald and Matt McGrath at the BBC and a few other places.  There was no big fuss made about this in the US media. Even Fox News just reprinted the Reuters blurb, which makes him out to be a lone voice of muted dissent rather than a whistleblower.

Eli Rabett has more on the subject. Apparently Richard pulled out of the SPM core writing team last September, according to this press release and confirmed by Richard himself on Twitter.  He was still invited to the current Yokohama meeting.  I don't know if he went. His name will remain as one of the two coordinating lead authors for Chapter 10.

The second thing is that Anthony doesn't explain what he means by "the crumbling of the consensus mindset". As far as I'm aware, there hasn't been a major shift in thinking of anyone.  Richard Tol sometimes tries to argue "it won't be bad". His association with the GWPF says it all.  But that's nothing different.

Other people mentioned in the media lately have been Bob Ward and, now, Nicholas Stern. Both of them are with the The Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment and both are firmly in the camp with mainstream climate scientists that continued CO2 emissions is high risk.  "Business as usual" is extremely dangerous.

So whose mindset is "crumbling"?  Anthony didn't explain what he meant by that and there's absolutely nothing in the Lateline segment he provided that would suggest a crumble.

Nicholas Stern on coal and China

As for Nicholas Stern looking "very foolish" in regard to China, that wasn't how it would have appeared to the average viewer.  He was more knowledgeable about what's happening in China than was Tony Jones, since as he said, he'd just returned from a visit to China.  He'd had discussions with people in the know over there.  He didn't try to present anything other than his take on the situation - that China is rapidly adding energy generation.  That this means that a lot more coal will be burnt.  The use of coal is not growing as quickly as the growth in electricity generation.  In other words, coal is declining as a proportion of the mix of energy sources but is still increasing in absolute terms.  The powers that be in China are very concerned about a number of related matters including climate change and pollution.  Both of these are driving the push towards nuclear power and hydro-electricity.

Nicholas Stern didn't have the numbers at his fingertips. He spoke in generalities. What he said was not inconsistent with what you can find on the internet.

Fake sceptics up to their usual tricks...

The WUWT article followed on from a copy and paste (archived here) of part of an article by Matt Ridley from the Wall St Journal (archived here).

Matt announced that the impending IPCC AR5 WGII report would state that global warming will "overall cost at less than 2% of GDP for a 2.5 degrees Centigrade (or 4.5 degrees Fahrenheit) temperature increase during this century".

I don't know if that's a fact or not.  The report has yet to be released.  I will say that this breathless announcement by Matt Ridley is similar to what happened just before the WGI report was released.  The deniers try to get in early to control the message.

It didn't work then and it won't work now.  The main difference this time is that the earlier attempts to control the WGII message haven't got any traction.  And Matt Ridley has left his run a bit late.  The actual report will be released in a couple of days, so there's little time for him to make his disinformation stick.

Matt Ridley leaves out half of the equation

In Matt's article he makes the same mistakes he's made before.  I guess he's preaching to people who aren't too hot on critical thinking.  For example, Matt once again goes through some of the warnings of the past and claimed they were alarmist.  What he doesn't say is that because of the warnings, the world acted and changed direction.  He leaves out half the equation.  Matt lists a ragtag bag of issues:
Almost every global environmental scare of the past half century proved exaggerated including the population “bomb,” pesticides, acid rain, the ozone hole, falling sperm counts, genetically engineered crops and killer bees. In every case, institutional scientists gained a lot of funding from the scare and then quietly converged on the view that the problem was much more moderate than the extreme voices had argued. Global warming is no different.

The population explosion - it's real.  I can't believe that Matt Ridley doesn't know that the world population has increased rather a lot in the past few decades. It's been tempered to a great extent by education, family planning, emancipation of women and modern contraception.  There have been vast sums spent on family planning education and support throughout the world.  China took the drastic step of imposing a "one child" policy.  Without all these measures, the world population would have risen a lot more quickly than it has.  If no-one had sounded the alarm and there'd been no resulting action, we'd be in a fine mess struggling to feed, clothe and house many more people.

Pesticides - is Matt Ridley really ignorant about the harm caused by some agricultural chemicals that have since been banned or had their use strictly controlled? That's hard to credit. Just one example - the risks from and results of exposure to organophosphates has been well documented.

Acid rain - again, the warnings resulted in action.  One of the actions was to filter out SO2 emissions from coal-fired power plants.  According to the US EPA:
Since its inception in 1990, the cap and trade component of the Acid Rain Program (ARP) has reduced SO2 emissions from power plants by 10 million tons (more than 60 percent). The program is currently at full implementation, with a permanent cap on SO2 emissions at 8.95 million tons, or about a 50 percent reduction from 1980 levels.

Ozone hole - Again, I don't believe that Matt Ridley really believes that the ozone hole was not a clear and present danger. If not for the Montreal Protocol it would be growing with potentially disastrous consequences.

Falling sperm counts - that might be a problem particular to Matt Ridley.  I don't know much about it. Seems to me it would have helped counteract the population explosion.  If you're interested, here's an article on the subject.

Genetically engineered crops - I think Matt just threw that one in there for the heck of it. Genetic modification is still a fairly new field.  In many parts of the world genetically engineered plants are subject to regulation.  I don't share the concern that some people have but agree that genetic engineering does need to be monitored and in some cases regulated.

Killer bees - sounds like something from Hollywood.  However I think Matt is probably referring to Africanized honey bees, which are a hybrid of various Western honey bee species with African honey bees.  Apparently the hybrid bee is very defensive and can invade and take over hives of European honey bees. Matt probably doesn't take honey on his morning toast and isn't concerned about any ramifications for pollination.

I'm surprised that Matt didn't list the famed London smogs as something that didn't last (because of clean air regulations). He could have listed over-crowding of English prisons (solved by shipping prisoners off to the colonies and, ultimately, amending the law).  He might also have listed the spread of TB, smallpox, measles, whooping cough and other diseases (addressed by massive investment in medical research and development of immunisation programs). Or perhaps the threat of flooding in low lying areas (temporarily addressed in some regions by massive engineering works and relocating people).

In short, humans have so far responded to threats and acted.  In the case of global warming, Matt doesn't want people to respond. He doesn't want us to act to avert the climate change crises.

I'm reminded of moondoong at HotCopper.  When it comes to their ability to assess risk, there's not much difference between the ignorant mining employee in the Pilbarra (who thinks that getting AIDS from HIV is as likely as an invasion by aliens from outer space) and the financier from the UK whose bank collapsed.

Matt continues to push the CO2 is plant food line, too.  What a nutter!

Contrarian contradictions

In pulling together the bits and pieces it strikes me that there are some inconsistencies.

Matt Ridley: "...the actual report, known as AR5-WGII, is less frightening than its predecessor seven years ago." (Wall St Journal)

Richard Tol: One of the 70 authors of a draft U.N. report on climate change said he had pulled out of the writing team because it was "alarmist" about the threat...."The drafts became too alarmist," (Reuters)

Anthony Watts: "We are witnessing the crumbling of the consensus mindset. " (WUWT)

Did Anthony mean "we are witnessing the crumbling of the contrarian mindset", perhaps?  After all, both Richard Tol and Matt Ridley are associated with the denier lobby group the GWPF!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Chip Knappenberger is still trying to shove the Overton Window at WUWT

Sou | 9:00 AM Go to the first of 8 comments. Add a comment

I first came across the term "Overton Window" when learning about climate science.  The idea is that in a given area of public policy, only a narrow range of policy options will be acceptable and that range is defined by what policy-makers believe they can support and still win re-election.

Climate science deniers keep trying to push the window of policy options to mitigate climate change such that there will be no policy action.  First they wanted to reject climate science altogether, claiming it to be a hoax.  Some of them still do, with conspiracy theories getting wrapped up with older conspiracy theories relating to all sorts of things, often anti-Semitic.  Others used to try to claim that CO2 is plant food as if the fact that some plants respond to CO2 (all other things equal) will outweigh all the downsides of a rapidly warming world.  There are some deniers who don't deny that greenhouse gases exist and that CO2 is one of them, but try to argue that for some reason this time around, greenhouse gases won't behave as they've always done in the past.  From now on, they argue, the warming won't be as great as it was in the past when greenhouse gases increased.

All of the above positions are a rejection of science.  Which is why people who hold these various views are often called "science deniers".  The reasons individuals hold some or all of these views (yes, even contradictory views) are varied, but often are based in their world view.  They cannot reconcile a world view that includes public policy with their own world view of individualism.  These are people who are not comfortable living in harmony with others.

Now there are people who probably understand the science very well who promote disinformation. The reason they do so is to try to push the Overton Window such that it excludes policy options to mitigate climate change. It's their job. It's what they are paid to do.  When the day of reckoning comes they are likely to whine that they were only doing what they were told by their paymasters.

There is an article at WUWT today (archived here) by someone who I suspect is one such person.  He probably understands the science but is trying to position the Overton Window away from policies that promote clean energy.  The person is Paul C. “Chip” Knappenberger.  He often pairs up with Pat Michaels, another science disinformer, and are known here as Pat 'n Chip. It's Chip's job as assistant director of the Center for the Study of Science at the Cato Institute to try to position the Overton Window in a place that suits the people who fund the Cato Institute.

His argument is not logical or coherent or correct.  It is not in accord with the science.  The tack he's taking today is that the AAAS is wrong.  After all, what would this organisation know about science?

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the world’s largest non-government general science membership organization and the executive publisher of Science, a leading scientific journal.

Put the AAAS against a right wing political lobby group and see how the science stacks up. You can read the AAAS science here.  We can sum up Chip's argument as follows (archived here):

  1. CO2 is a greenhouse gas and more of it makes the world heat up more.
  2. The world isn't going to heat up as much as most science finds it will because he's found a couple of oddbods who will back him on that assertion - such as a retired financier rather than climate scientists, but what the heck.
  3. Action to mitigate global warming is both inapplicable and will be ineffective. [Sou: Point 3 doesn't follow from point 1 or point 2. Chip isn't strong on logic.]

Chip would never get a job in the insurance industry, which is probably why he's stuck writing nonsense for a right wing lobby group.  As Nicholas Stern pointed out on ABC Lateline last night, these are very high risks.

Whatever we're doing we can't reverse.  The best we can hope for is to stop doing it, but we're stuck with the damage we've already done and the future consequences of the damage we've already done.  That means that we have to be damn sure of ourselves in the action we take.

This is a very high risk path we've taken.  The chance of mild warming is much lower than the chance of high warming and all the other consequences such as irreversible damage to ecosystems on land and in the oceans; irreversible melting of ice sheets and glaciers, meaning irreversible sea level rise.  We still have some choice in how quickly these changes happen and the extent of them.  But we've already put the changes in motion.

Chip is making a judgement call that we'll be able to adapt in time to the incredibly rapid changes.  He's not just a risk-taker, he's foolhardy to the point of being certifiably insane, and wants everyone else to play his high stakes game.

From the WUWT comments

The fact that Chip is agreeing that the greenhouse effect and global warming are real means that the Overton Window he's shoving allows a little bit of science to peep through, even though he wants to shut out most of it.  Let's see how the deniers at WUWT react.  There aren't a lot of comments yet. You can read them here.

Robber is an illiteratum and says:
March 27, 2014 at 1:36 pm
Are they the Association for the Advancement of Science or the Association for Shaming & Scuttling Science?

Chad Wozniak is also a member of the illiterati and says:
March 27, 2014 at 1:41 pm
@Robber -
The American Association for the Adulteration of Science.

wws says people are disinterested and dumb, and America is the entire world:
March 27, 2014 at 2:29 pm
And you wanna know what is the PERFECT counter to this, as far as communicating our message to any average voter? “COLDEST WINTER IN 100 YEARS!!!” And that’s all. If they’re really interested, show them the simple chart, and then stop talking. One simple picture destroys years of studies and thousands of words of explanations.
Who cares if it’s not a perfectly accurate representation of the big picture? Not your average voter, that’s for sure.

Christopher Monckton forgets about the sun then greets the men in white coats

Sou | 1:17 AM Go to the first of 35 comments. Add a comment

One of the most-used denier myths about the cause of global warming has been "it's the sun".  It's still number two on the list. You'll be surprised to find that at WUWT, Christopher Monckton is now ignoring the sun's role in keeping Earth warm.

First there's CO2

Yesterday's article (archived here) is a bit of pseudo-science, in which Christopher fudges some numbers that he claims came from an older IPCC report (from 2007) and proclaims that:
Broadly speaking, the IPCC expects this century’s warming to be equivalent to that from a doubling of CO2 concentration. In that event, 1 Cº is indeed all the warming we should expect from a CO2 doubling. And is that going to be a problem

I don't know if he's talking about an additional one degree rise this century or if he's arguing there will only be another 0.2 degree rise this century.  If the former, many scientists would disagree.  If we continue with business as usual we'll probably be in for at least two degrees of warming by 2100, so that would mean another 1.2 degrees this century.  That's being optimistic. It could be four degrees.

The thing is, with only 0.9 degree rise in the temperature in Australia we're seeing events never before recorded, like the unreal summer of 2009 in south eastern Australia, our Angry Summer of 2012-13, our hottest year ever plus this past year, catastrophic fires and floods all over the nation at once - so much so it dropped the global sea level.  Another one degree and our summers will be monstrous. A four degree rise would be beyond monstrous.

What about the sun?

In the comments Christopher wrote about the Neoproterozoic era:
Mr Tyler asks whether there were earlier periods when CO2 concentrations were higher than today and the weather was colder. The best example of many is the Neorproterozoic (sic) era, 750 million years ago, when I was young. At that time there was at least 30% CO2 in the atmosphere, compared with 0.04% today, and yet glaciers came and went, at the equator, twice. It is fascinating watching true-believing paleoclimatologists trying to explain that one away. They usually do it by saying that the CO2 concentration must have been much more variable than it was. But we know it was at least 30%, for otherwise the dolomitic limestones could not have precipitated out of the oceans.

Thing is that there were a lot of things different about the the Neoproterozoic world.  Days were shorter, the moon was closer, land masses were organised differently and, most particularly for climate, the sun was fainter.  We're talking about a period spanning from around 1,000,000,000 years ago to 540,000,000 years ago.  Before there was much life on Earth at all.  Some organisms appeared over that time - mostly in the water of course.  There were no plants on land so silicate weathering, an important part of the long term carbon cycle, would have been less efficient than now.

I'm no expert in paleoclimatology but I found a review paper called "Climate of the Neoproterozoic" written by some experts, Raymond Pierrehumbert and colleagues.  Here is an excerpt by way of a short introduction to the era:
The Neoproterozoic is a time of transition between the ancient microbial world and the Phanerozoic, marked by a resumption of extreme carbon isotope fluctuations and glaciation after a billion-year absence. The carbon cycle disruptions are probably accompanied by changes in the stock of oxidants and connect to glaciations via changes in the atmospheric greenhouse gas content. Two of the glaciations reach low latitudes and may have been Snowball events with near-global ice cover....
...Until near the end of the Neoproterozoic, however,much of the Neoproterozoic show played out on the microbial stage and was recorded only dimly in the fossil record. The Neoproterozoic is like a dark tunnel. The ancient microbial world enters the far end, endures the biogeochemical and climatic turbulence of the Neoproterozoic, and comes out into the light of the metazoan-rich Phanerozoic world on the other side. 

The paper is fairly easy to read at the beginning. (It gets technical further in.)  In regard to carbon dioxide and climate, this is some of what was written:
The Neoproterozoic glaciations provide the main indication of climate variability, but apart from that and the broad inferences that can be drawn from survival of various forms of marine life, there are no proxies to tell us how hot it may have been between glaciations.

Christopher Monckton seems a lot more sure of himself than are scientists, when he talks about the Neoproterozoic.  He's convinced that "there was at least 30% CO2 in the atmosphere, compared with 0.04% today, and yet glaciers came and went, at the equator, twice" - implying that CO2 levels didn't change in 460 million years or so.  Given how CO2 has increased by 40% in the blink of an eye since industrialisation, that seems a strange position for him to take.  Not so strange when you know something of the potty peer I suppose.

The paper states that the "absorbed solar radiation averaged over Earth’s surface would have been approximately 14Wm-2 less than it is at present".  Therefore, to keep the temperature the same as today, there would have had to be around 12 times as much CO2 as there was prior to industrialisation. That is, around 3,360 ppmv - with perhaps some CH4 substitution.  However in the non-glacial periods of the Neoproterozoic, it was probably warmer than the Ordovician, with higher levels of CO2 than 3,360 ppmv.

What about the glacial periods? It's likely or at least possible that there were two periods in the Neoproterozoic era during which Earth probably or possibly had snowball earth events. That is, most of the oceans froze over. What would have caused that to happen would be a large reduction in CO2.  And to come out of the snowball earth would have taken probably an even greater rise in CO2 or other greenhouse gases.

The paper I referred to discusses how δ13C had enormous fluctuations during the Neoproterozoic and puts forward potential mechanisms for this. If, like me, you're not all that familiar with these topics, then you might find you need to concentrate. I won't attempt to distil the information here at HotWhopper.  I've learnt a lot more than I knew before reading the paper but my knowledge of the subject is way less than the authors (and probably less than many HW readers). One little fact I can impart - the enormous shifts in global temperatures during the 460 million years or so of the Neoproterozoic era had much to do with greenhouse gases.

The point is that Christopher Monckton doesn't have much of a clue when it comes to climate science. Whether it's science of the present day climate or that of a thousand million years ago.  And given how deniers love to claim "it's the sun", it's ironic that Christopher ignores the sun when he talks about climates of the deep past, arguing as if the world back then was in the same situation as it is today.  It was different in so many ways.

From the WUWT comments

A swag of comments - here are some for you to enjoy - or whatever.

Martin A says:
March 26, 2014 at 7:31 am
I’d like to thank the quaintly named Monckton of Brenchley for his kind reply (3:05 am) to my comment and my question.

The quaintly named Monckton of Brenchley goes some small way to redeeming himself (extract):
March 26, 2014 at 8:01 am
...Mr Kelly says that because CO2 concentration change lags temperature change by an average of 800 years the overall temperature feedback gain factor must be zero. Mr Haynie makes a similar point. However, theirs is a common misconception. Though it is clear on paleoclimate timescales that it is temperature that changed first and CO2 concentration change that followed, the CO2 concentration change was – and is – capable of reinforcing and amplifying the temperature change.

KevinK isn't buying the idea and says:
March 26, 2014 at 6:04 pm
Go on, pull my other leg while you are at it. That is not only a bad example of circular logic it isn’t even a good example of mobius strip logic.
So to state it another way; temperature drives CO2 levels AND CO2 levels drive temperature, UM KAY….. If you say so.
Surely you are joking….. (Ok, apparently you are serious and I’ll refrain from calling you Shirley).
It has to be ONE or the OTHER, not BOTH.
CO2 levels could conceivably affect the response time of the gases in the atmosphere (causing them to warm/cool more quickly after sunrise, for example), but they cannot be controlled by AND ALSO control the average temperature.
How, one would reasonably ask, can this mythical molecule (CO2) know when to “obey” the temperature and when to “command” the temperature ?????
Your logic would lead to a runaway train…….
Cheers, Kevin. 

highflight56433 says:
March 26, 2014 at 9:14 am
I cannot buy into CO2 warming a H2O system as it (the CO2) would dilute molecule for molecule any concentration of H2O vapor, resulting in a cooling response as CO2 is less a heat absorbent than water. The cooling would then dry the atmosphere causing even further cooling. How many time do we have to look at the ice cores to verify an increase in CO2 cools the planet? And then there is the fact that it is the surface that warms the atmosphere, so first there must be warmer temps on the surface to increase air temperature. All being equal, less concentration of H2O is a cooler atmosphere. 

GogogoStopSTOP (as Bernard) said he was having a problem viewing WUWT and wondered if it was the site or him, to which Anthony replied in a somewhat condescending manner.  GogogoStopSTOP wasn't impressed and says:
March 26, 2014 at 9:57 am
Well pardon me Anthony! The last time I spoke with you personally, it was at the Heartland meeting in DC a few years ago. You seemed like such a pleasant, knowledgeable gentleman.
I’ve followed your blog for years. I have an Apple Macbook pro, running Mac OS X 10.7.5…
Thanks for the advice, but it’s a little unbecoming of you, as was, probably, my asking if there was something affecting your operation more broadly.

Christopher greets the men in white coats

Let's finish up with one of Christopher's incomprehensible ravings as he toddles off to greet the men in white coats. The quaintly named Monckton of Brenchley says (excerpt):
March 26, 2014 at 3:56 pm:
As it becomes ever more apparent to all that the claims of the totalitarian Left about the climate are in all material respects exaggerated, people will perhaps look more closely at the habit of routine and egregious mendacity that is a consequence of the enormous campaign of disinformation by a million agents of Soviet propaganda, that infected our media, our academe and our other institutions for decades. Though the evil empire that promoted that vicious campaign of lies was eventually flung into oblivion, today’s hard Left, having learned how to dissemble on the grand scale, have now largely lost the ability to tell the difference between that which is true and that which is not. To them, as to the Soviets who trained them so well and often without their knowledge, it is not the truth but the Party Line that matters. On the climate, the Party Line is now being daily demonstrated to have been in substance false. As more and more people come to realize this, they will begin to question everything they are told by the left/Green inheritors of the Communist/fascist mantle, and the world will be a merrier place for that.

Pierrehumbert, R. T., D. S. Abbot, A. Voigt, and D. Koll. "Climate of the Neoproterozoic." Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences 39, no. 1 (2011): 417. DOI: 10.1146/annurev-earth-040809-152447

Thursday, March 27, 2014

How Anthony Watts turned three weeks into "almost a year" at wattsupwiththat!

Sou | 3:01 PM Go to the first of 13 comments. Add a comment

Anthony Watts has commented on a new article in Nature "news and views", which suggests that multi-decadal periods of high and low variability in ENSO may be "entirely unpredictable".

Anthony comments (archived here) - my bold italics:

I suppose this explains why this model has been doing so poorly for the last year in predicting a new El Niño, it has been showing an El Niño just months away for almost a year

First of all, while I can't read the article itself (paywalled), it's obvious from the abstract that it's referring to multi-decadal periods of variability, not year on year ENSO events.  Anthony's comment is misplaced for that reason alone. (See update below.)

There's more. I was curious as to where Anthony got his "almost a year" from, because I watch the BoM ENSO page and it was only this month when there was the first sign of the possibility of an El Niño later this year.

So it wasn't from the Bureau of Meteorology.  Perhaps NOAA?  I checked NOAA and there was no active alert for March, April, May, June, July, August or September last year.  There was mention of an ENSO alert in its bulletin of the 4th October 2013, a mere six months ago.  Even then it was very cautious, writing:
Synopsis: Borderline ENSO-neutral/ weak El Niño conditions are expected to continue into Northern Hemisphere winter 2012-13, possibly strengthening during the next few months. 

However the NOAA November, December, January and February bulletins were back to a "not active" ENSO alert.

Three weeks is not "almost a year"

So the current bulletin has been active only since 6 March this year.  A mere three weeks.  That's around 49 weeks shy of "almost a year". Even so the synopsis is for only a 50% chance of an El Niño developing during the summer or fall:
Synopsis: ENSO-neutral is expected to continue through the Northern Hemisphere spring 2014, with about a 50% chance of El Niño developing during the summer or fall. 

Just more evidence (for anyone that cares) that WUWT cares not one whit for facts opting instead for disinformation.

BTW - you can read the comments here - I don't have time to read them in depth. I scanned them quickly but didn't see anyone pick Anthony up for his two bloopers.  Typical of the fake sceptics at WUWT.

(Strictly speaking Anthony probably made three bloopers.  He linked to a "news and views" article about another paper but I doubt he realised that.  Going by what he wrote, Anthony mistook the Nature article for the research paper itself.)


The "news and views" article is, as far as I can tell, about a new paper in BAMS Journal of Climate.  The abstract (my paras):
Observations and climate simulations exhibit epochs of extreme El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) behavior that can persist for decades. Previous studies have revealed a wide range of ENSO responses to forcings from greenhouse gases, aerosols, and orbital variations, but they have also shown that interdecadal modulation of ENSO can arise even without such forcings.
The present study examines the predictability of this intrinsically generated component of ENSO modulation, using a 4000-yr unforced control run from a global coupled GCM [GFDL Climate Model, version 2.1 (CM2.1)] with a fairly realistic representation of ENSO. Extreme ENSO epochs from the unforced simulation are reforecast using the same (“perfect”) model but slightly perturbed initial conditions.
These 40-member reforecast ensembles display potential predictability of the ENSO trajectory, extending up to several years ahead. However, no decadal-scale predictability of ENSO behavior is found. This indicates that multidecadal epochs of extreme ENSO behavior can arise not only intrinsically but also delicately and entirely at random. Previous work had shown that CM2.1 generates strong, reasonably realistic, decadally predictable high-latitude climate signals, as well as tropical and extratropical decadal signals that interact with ENSO. However, those slow variations appear not to lend significant decadal predictability to this model’s ENSO behavior, at least in the absence of external forcings.
While the potential implications of these results are sobering for decadal predictability, they also offer an expedited approach to model evaluation and development, in which large ensembles of short runs are executed in parallel, to quickly and robustly evaluate simulations of ENSO. Further implications are discussed for decadal prediction, attribution of past and future ENSO variations, and societal vulnerability.

Pedro DiNezio, "Climate science: A high bar for decadal forecasts of El Niño.Nature 507, 437–439 (27 March 2014) doi:10.1038/507437a

Wittenberg, Andrew T., Anthony Rosati, Thomas L. Delworth, Gabriel A. Vecchi, Fanrong Zeng, 2014: "ENSO Modulation: Is It Decadally Predictable?". J. Climate, 27, 2667–2681. doi:

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Anthony Watts lynch mob of mindless louts attack another university professor

Sou | 11:10 PM Go to the first of 9 comments. Add a comment

A few days ago I wrote about a couple of pretty dreadful articles at WUWT.  They were a distortion of an article in The Conversation by Lawrence Torcello.

The WUWT articles misreprented Lawrence Torcello's article. They went further than that.  As I wrote in that previous article, WUWT organised a hate mail campaign - led by Christopher Monckton and Anthony Watts.

It worked.  Graham Readfearn at deSmogBlog reported that Dr Torcello received upwards of 700 hate emails and telephone calls.  Some examples:

“DIE you maggot"
“Fortunately, your kind will be marched to the wall with all the other leftist detritus”
...Others accuse Torcello, an assistant professor at Rochester Institute of Technology’s Department of Philosophy in the west of New York State, of being a fascist, Stalinist and a Nazi.
...At one point, he says he picked up his phone to be told that soon he would be “paid a visit”.
One email told Torcello — in customary all-caps angriness — that he was a “FAGGOT” and that global warming was “A LIE STRAIGHT FROM THE JEWS”.

Oh I don't imagine it was just WUWT that caused the barrage of hate, however this is not atypical of what you can read on Anthony Watts' blog.  WUWT certainly played its part.  The overall tone there is one of antagonism towards anyone who argues that something needs to be done to mitigate climate change.  Anthony likes to organise a lynch mob from time to time.

In his article, Lawrence Torcello wrote: "an organised campaign funding misinformation ought to be considered criminally negligent."  An organised campaign of harassment and vilification against climate philosophers and climate scientists should also be against the law.

One more thing. In my article I surmised that Anthony wrote his piece without reading Lawrence Torcello's article. Otherwise he was admitting to being part of an organised campaign funding misinformation. In the deSmogBlog article, I noticed that Lawrence Torcello is quoted as saying:

Now it is clear that the bloggers misrepresenting my views knew exactly what they were doing with the scandalous headlines and crafted misquotations. Even when they linked to my article, they felt secure in the judgement that their audience wouldn’t read it.

The sort of people that Anthony Watts aims to attract to his blog are mindless louts who'll use any excuse to fire off hate mail. You can see this tendency daily in the comments at WUWT - sometimes overtly, sometimes more muted but always there in the background. See the comments archived here and here for examples.

Question of the day at WUWT: Why doesn't CO2 stay near the ground?

Sou | 3:04 AM Go to the first of 16 comments. Add a comment

Seen at wattsupwiththat, a comment by cnxtim, who says:
March 25, 2014 at 6:07 am
I am still waiting to find out hoe CO2 generated at ground level by the burning of fossil fuels, makes it’s way to the upper atmosphere to join other molecules of CO2? , Or was I asleep in class and somehow missed that very important first step in the ‘science’ of AGW?
surely there is a pro CAGW teacher out there who could enlighten me?

I'd say cnxtim has been asleep for a long time.  Ferdinand Engelbeen was the only person to give an answer and he says it quite well. Although I'll add that most CO2 doesn't make it to the upper atmosphere.  Most of it stays in the troposphere. Here is what Ferdinand wrote:
March 25, 2014 at 7:26 am
Not that difficult: if sand grains can be transported for thousands of km from the Gobi desert in Mongolia to Arizona, while sand is about 1,000 times more heavy than air, it is no problem for air to transport CO2 which is only slightly heavier a lot of times around the earth. Further, upwards air flows are available at a lot of places and certainly in the tropics by thunderstorms and other ascending and descending air flows.
It takes some time to mix the releases and uptakes of CO2 into the bulk of the atmosphere: a few days to a few weeks for the same altitude and latitude, a few weeks to a few months for different altitudes and latitudes, and 6 months to 2 years for the transfer from the NH to the SH, as only 10% per year of air is exchanged between the hemispheres.
But in general, CO2 levels are within 2% of full scale from sealevel to 20 km height and beyond. Only near ground on land, there are a lot of local sources and sinks which makes that you can measure any level of CO2, depending of the proximity to these sources and sinks and wind/mixing speed.

One other thing I'll add is that gas molecules move.  They don't just move downwards, they move sideways and up.  And they move quickly.  Here is an extract from an education website, which is probably the class that cnxtim dozed off in.
In gases the particles move rapidly in all directions, frequently colliding with each other and the side of the container. With an increase in temperature, the particles gain kinetic energy and move faster. The actual average speed of the particles depends on their mass as well as the temperature – heavier particles move more slowly than lighter ones at the same temperature. The oxygen and nitrogen molecules in air at normal room temperature are moving rapidly at between 300 to 400 metres per second. 
Unlike collisions between macroscopic objects, collisions between particles are perfectly elastic with no loss of kinetic energy. This is very different to most other collisions where some kinetic energy is transformed into other forms such as heat and sound. It is the perfectly elastic nature of the collisions that enables the gas particles to continue rebounding after each collision with no loss of speed. Particles are still subject to gravity and hit the bottom of a container with greater force than the top, thus giving gases weight. If the vertical motion of gas molecules did not slow under gravity, the atmosphere would have long since escaped from the Earth.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Fake outrage from fake sceptics at WUWT about faking debate on the BBC

Sou | 1:05 PM Go to the first of 11 comments. Add a comment

In a dramatic about face, is Anthony Watts now saying that he welcomes comments and articles from the "sky dragon slayers" on his blog and will give them equal space with all the other pseudo-scientists at WUWT?

Previously he had banned Doug Cotton and John O'Sullivan because:

These folks mean well, but they’ve latched onto an idea that just doesn’t work. Some of the main players, such as Doug Cotton and John O’Sullivan have gotten so entrenched and angry that they have made persona non gratas of themselves here and at some other blogs.
“If you have the facts on your side, pound the facts. If you have the law on your side, pound the law. If you have neither on your side, pound the table.”
Like Dr. Spencer,  if and when they are able to provide a simple working model of the atmospheric energy balance that matches their theory with observations, I’ll be happy to take another look at the idea here.

And of course, Anthony is perfectly entitled to ban anyone he likes from his blog.  The above is an exception.  He still promotes other slayers, like the uber-conspiracy theorist Tim Ball. Mostly he bans people who promote mainstream science - using one frivolous excuse or other.

Of course, Anthony might be now saying that he'll be more balanced and only publish three pseudo-science blog articles for every ninety-seven articles by proper scientists.

What he's complaining about (archived here) is apparently a report in the Daily Mail.  Reportedly a BBC editor has pointed out that it's false balance to put a climate science denier on a program about climate science.  Which it is.  Apparently the BBC has decided to stop promoting fake sceptics on the same program as scientists.  Anthony is up in arms and wrote:
These antics where climate alarmists rig the news program so they don’t have to appear in a one-on-one situation where an uncomfortable question might be asked, is in my opinion, the ultimate act of cowardice and intellectual dishonesty.

It's nothing to do with "uncomfortable questions" or "rigging programs".  It's to do with whether the BBC wants to give deniers and disinformers a voice as if their utter nuttery is somehow on par with rational views of rational people, or their quackery is on par with proper science.

Following Anthony Watts logic, he would argue that evolution deniers should be debating biologists on the BBC.  And flat-earthers should be debating geologists on the BBC.  And BBC health segments ought to provide equal time to the views of homeopaths, anti-vaxxers and crystal-healers as is given to medical professionals.

Not that it's any business of Anthony Watts what happens on the BBC.  Anthony doesn't contribute anything to the BBC.  He probably doesn't ever listen to the BBC or watch the BBC.  It's not Fox, after all, is it.

I've no time to filter out the choicest WUWT comments - you can imagine them or read them in the archive here.

From the mundane to the ridiculous - varieties in denial at wattsupwiththat

Sou | 2:54 AM Go to the first of 4 comments. Add a comment

I've been following Anthony Watts' denier blog wattsupwiththat for several months now.  Over that time it's gone from the ridiculous to mundane denialism.  Today there is an article that typifies the mundane as well as an article that typifies the ridiculous.

The mundane denial at WUWT

Anthony Watts (archived here) copied and pasted another press release at WUWT. For a change he decided to link to the press release from the University of Missouri. The science is about the development of a "sophisticated statistical model".  It's not just any statistical model though.  From the press release:
“The ocean really is the most important part of the world’s environmental system because of its potential to store carbon and heat, but also because of its ability to influence major atmospheric weather events such as droughts, hurricanes and tornados,” said Chris Wikle, professor of statistics in the MU College of Arts and Science. “At the same time, it is essential in producing a food chain that is a critical part of the world’s fisheries.”
...“Nate Silver of The New York Times combined various sources of information to understand and better predict the uncertainty associated with elections,” Wikle said. “So much like that, we developed more sophisticated statistical methods to combine various sources of data—satellite images, data from ocean buoys and ships, and scientific experience—to better understand the atmosphere over the ocean and the ocean itself. This led to models that help to better predict the state of the Mediterranean Sea, and the long-lead time prediction of El Nińo and La Nińa. 

I'm not sure why the press release only came out in the past week. And the press release doesn't seem to reflect the papers it refers to very well.  The work was published in Oceanography last December and in Statistical Science in the November 2013 issue.

From the Oceanography paper, it looks to be a novel if complex approach, probably suiting the nature of what they are modeling. However that's not for me to judge.  I am ill-equipped to follow the discussion in the Oceanography paper, having no experience and little understanding of the intricacies of the lower trophic level ocean ecosystem or the methods they discuss.

Not so the science deniers at WUWT.  They are right on top of this one.  Anthony starts by poo-pooing the paper because the press release headline contains the word "could", as in "New Statistical Models Could Lead to Better Predictions of Ocean Patterns and the Impacts on Weather, Climate and Ecosystem, MU Scientist Finds".  Anthony's dog whistle (and only) comment was:
...note the operative word “could”.

I think that Anthony would be even less well-equipped than I to judge the merits of the approach.  In any case he makes no other comment of his own.  His visitors were less reluctant.  They must know all about science of the lower trophic level (LTL) ocean ecosystem and how to make the necessary "approximations to reduce complexity and represent essential ecosystem processes in an aggregate sense".  And they know all about the "underdetermination problem in parameter specification" but I expect they disagree with the scientists that it is "an inherent issue in ocean ecosystem model development and interpretation".

On what do I base this conclusion?  Well, here is a sample of the erudite comments from the knowledgeable folk at WUWT:

David, UK says:
March 22, 2014 at 1:12 pm
More self-serving modelled bullshit.

Doug Huffman says that probability and uncertainty have no place in science:
March 22, 2014 at 1:18 pm
Normative and prescriptive statements, characterized by would, should & could, have no inherent or essential truth value.

Stephen Richards is so certain of his position that one might be tempted to surmise he occupies the lower trophic level in the biological strata and speaks from personal experience, because he shouts:
March 22, 2014 at 1:20 pm
New Statistical Models Could Lead to Better Predictions of Ocean Patterns and the Impacts on Weather, Climate and Ecosystems
NO THEY CANNOT !!!!!!!!!!!

Dr Burns has got as far as knowing that all models are wrong, though it's not clear that he understands what a "model" is or how it can help understanding, because he says:
March 22, 2014 at 3:28 pm
When models can forecast with any accuracy whether it will rain in two days time, I may start to have some faith in them.

Bob Tisdale isn't interested in the published papers, or maybe he didn't get that far, or maybe he did get that far and his eyes glazed.  In any case he asks a profound question, or what he thinks is a profound question:
March 22, 2014 at 5:26 pm
“Wikle and his fellow researchers feel that, through better statistical methods and models currently in development…”
Why are they wasting everyone’s time with a press release about something in development?

The ridiculous denial at WUWT

Moving from the mundane "no, no, no - not science" response to a couple of scientific papers, and onto the reason that climate science is a hoax.  It's all to do with world view.  It seems that "rational" people (ie right wing extremists) regard all people as equal and don't look down on anyone no matter their race, social status or economic status.  (Ha ha - pull the other one!)  It also seems that "rational" people (ie the right wing extremist) view the world in terms of dominance and battles - which fits better with my understanding of right wing extremists than does the first point.

Anyway, do you want to more about the newest proof that climate science must be a hoax? This is the latest idea promoted by Anthony Watts in an article by someone who goes by the (shock, horror) anonymous name of Zombie (archived here):
Viewed globally, the real long-term consequence of all the “climate change”-related policy proposals is to transfer massive amounts of wealth from the First World developed nations to the Third World underdeveloped nations, while simultaneously crippling the ability of the developed world to maintain its economic dominance.
What could motivate this seemingly suicidal economic policy by First-World progressives? In a word: Guilt. Specifically, “white guilt” by Europeans (and those descended from Europeans) for having unfairly exploited backward regions and non-white peoples over the last few centuries to establish white economic hegemony over the rest of the world.

According to the article at WUWT, climate science is a hoax manufactured by liberals or progressives or whatever label you want to put on your despised world view.  It's a hoax manufactured to assuage guilt for making money at the expense of less developed nations. But that's not all:
If these modern progressives felt that their ancestors had achieved global dominance by defeating rivals of equal stature, then there’d be nothing to feel guilty about, and thus no need to pay reparations and hence no need to devise the “climate change” crisis and attendant suicidal economic policies.

The argument goes like this.

  1. Rich nations got rich by exploiting poor nations.
  2. Progressives in rich nations feel guilty about that so they made up a yarn about CO2 emissions and convinced the powers that be in the rich nations that it's necessary to cut CO2 emissions.
  3. Cutting CO2 emissions means that wealth will shift from rich nations to poor nations. (I'm not sure how that one is supposed to work.)
  4. The guilt means that progressives are racist. Otherwise they'd act like any "normal" victor and see the losers as equal to them except they are losers.

I'd say the only part of the above that might have some merit is point 1.  Even there it only applies in some situations.  The article finishes with this, with its embedded alarmism:
If these modern progressives felt that their ancestors had achieved global dominance by defeating rivals of equal stature, then there’d be nothing to feel guilty about, and thus no need to pay reparations and hence no need to devise the “climate change” crisis and attendant suicidal economic policies.

Now some people from less developed nations agree with some but not all of the "logic".  José Tomás says:
March 22, 2014 at 10:39 am
I believe there is a big component of this in the Climate (and other “Progressive” issues) discussion.
The real problem is that we in the “Thirld World” need that the “First World” succeeds. In a globalized economy, your success is our success. We need a strong US / Europe economy to import the goods we export. US / Europe failure will doom first under-developed countries like mine (Brazil). This guilt / shame thinking / behavior is infantile and the net result is more poverty to “non-western” populations.

aletho doesn't agree either, but is also an alarmist but for different reasons and says:
March 22, 2014 at 10:54 am
This is retarded. There never was any intent to transfer wealth to the third world.
There were only empty promises designed to allow domestic political space for corrupt third world despots so they could go along with the genocidal AGW agenda.
Carbon taxes, cap and trade, you name it, the proposals all result in rationing energy by price.
Eugenics in disguise.
Skeptics need to quit being so gullible as to fall for PJmedia’s ideologically driven disinformation.

Manny has still another take on why the climate hoax survives and says:
March 22, 2014 at 11:06 am
Simpler version of this thesis:
1. Ordinary atheist socialists (a.k.a. liberals) feel a spiritual void and fill it with pagan belief in mother nature. Like all religious beliefs, it requires penance to earn salvation. The penance is a carbon tax, the salvation is saving the goddess Earth from death by evil capitalists.
2. Smarter socialists collect the carbon tax from the naive masses and transfer it to African kleptocrats in order to pocket their 5% in a discreet bank account in Dubai.
And I entirely agree that conservatives do not understand the motivations behind this humongous fraud.

Whereas urederra's point is that... well it's hard to know.  You're better than I am if you can figure it out:
March 22, 2014 at 11:43 am
Humanity’s misdeeds was what caused the biblical flood and our crimes against nature is what it is causing global warming, or climate change, or whatevah
Yep, It is gilt, It has been always gilt. That is the way occidental religions have been controlling us during the last 6000 years. Ecologism is just the new flavor. 

David, UK says - which is doubly ironic when you check this page and this page, where it is attributed to Anne Isabella Ritchie, whose grandfather worked in Calcutta for the British East India Company:
March 22, 2014 at 2:44 pm
Gary Pearse says: March 22, 2014 at 2:29 pm
I believe the UN, is: (something like) “You can give a hungry man a fish a day or you can teach him how to fish so he can feed himself each day.” Teach him how to fish!!! When I first heard that piece of hubris, I was amazed at its blatant racism. Yeah, it’s there.
You think that phrase is from the UN? WTF!
It’s actually an ancient Chinese proverb.
Still worked up over its “blatant racism”? Sheesh.

Manfred is a fairly ordinary conspiracy theorist and alarmist of the Agenda 21 type who talks of rabid dogs and says:
March 22, 2014 at 12:04 pm
‘Guilt’ – may be some in the mix. Then perhaps the Babylonian Syndrome – an arrogance and over estimation of not only our impact but our abilities, a delusion fed and pumped by the progressive Green left in the name of ‘save the planet’. The goal – the installation of global socialist governance in the hands of UN Agenda 21 funded by growing environmental taxes and levies. You’ll be deluded you have democratic influence, but this will be strictly limited to the election local community governance. Few will be privileged to even glimpse let alone be part of an unelected progressive bureaucratic monster at the centre of the world. No one will see the tiny handful of elite at the pinnacle.
Spurn this as you would a rabid dog. 

bobl is another Agenda 21 conspiracy theorising  alarmist who says (excerpt):
March 22, 2014 at 2:49 pm
Nice theory and all, but wrong. Just read Agenda 21, it’s all there in black and white. CC is just a tool of Agenda 21 designed to limit our energy supply and as a result of that push us together in high rise concentration camps. 

There are heaps more comments - as bad as the ones above but in keeping with Anthony's article.

You know from time to time Anthony acts as if he wants to come across as "reasonable" by denouncing people like Nicola Scafetta and some of the "sky dragon slayers" (while promoting others).  Then he puts up something like this.  This sort of nonsense I think shows that he's given up any hope of anyone serious taking him seriously so he's retreated and decided to focus on pleasing his ideological base.

Milliff, R.F., J. Fiechter, W.B. Leeds, R. Herbei, C.K. Wikle, M.B. Hooten, A.M. Moore, T.M. Powell, and J. Brown. 2013. Uncertainty management in coupled physical-biological lower trophic level ocean ecosystem models. Oceanography 26(4):98–115,

Wikle, Christopher K.; Milliff, Ralph F.; Herbei, Radu; Leeds, William B. Modern Statistical Methods in Oceanography: A Hierarchical Perspective. Statistical Science 28 (2013), no. 4, 466--486. doi:10.1214/13-STS436.