Really Sciency

Visit my other blog 'Really Sciency' looking at Climate Science and its portrayal, misrepresentation and denial in the media.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Turning the other cheek

The Pope's ex-butler Paolo Gabriele to stand trial for stealing confidential papers and leaking them to the press. Mr. Gabriele has admitted the theft and faces jail if convicted, facing up to six years in prison.

Now my question is this;

What would Jesus do?

The Pope is supposed to be Gods Vicar on earth and an example of Christian piety and forgiveness. Gabriele has admitted his guilt and is unlikely to do it again, so shouldn't the Pope forgive him, turn the other cheek and be an example to the world of the power of his faith in cessation of resentment?

Colossians 3:13
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

Failing that, does the guy really have to go to jail? Can't he just be sent to another parish? 

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

He Could Have Been Born Yesterday

I may have mentioned on here before that Steve Goddard is a 'Birther' in that he believes Americas first non-white president wasn't born in the US so can't really be the President.

In a recent post he provides 'evidence' from a paper that Barack Obama was born in Kenya. Straight away a commenter pointed out that was was an old hoax and documented in snopes, other facts were added including evidence that his father was in Hawaii at the time he was born and unlikely to send his pregnant wife to a third world country to give birth. No record of any such journey exists for there and back in any case. There does exist a birth certificate form a Hospital in Honolulu and confirmed as authentic. We also have Kenyan official denying that Obama was born there. This is in comments by people who are normally very supportive of Goddard's climate denial posts but obviously are unwilling to stoop to this whole new level of crazy.

Steve Goddard is having none of it. The link he has is all the proof that is needed.

So we have multiple lines of evidence all pointing to one conclusion and a single piece of discredited evidence pointing to another. Which does Goddard support? The one that tells him what he want to hear of course.

Remind you of anything?

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Prize for most misleading headline...

... goes to the Daily fail for: Drivers face a 50 per cent rise in fuel duty to make up tax shortfall from 'green' cars. Is it just me or does this headline look at first glance to mean that those nasty 'green' cars being pushed by the government are actually going to make motoring much more expensive?

Clearly I'm not the only one as some of the Fail's readers show. Ollie from Ashford says;
"Let the Green Party stump up the monies"
And a very bright Bev for Dorset cries;
"Green! Green! The government use it to rob, steal and lie. The next tax will be exhaling tax hold your breath to reduce carbon emissions." 
So what is it really all about? Well a read of the actual article reveals that an RAC report calculated that as people, (and these people can be Daily Fail readers too), swap to hybrid and electric cars there will be a loss of government tax revenue through drivers taking advantage of current tax breaks, paying less road licence and purchasing less petrol, leaving the Treasury with a shortfall by 2029.
But isn't that the same as blaming people who give up smoking for increasing our tax burden by not buying cigarettes?

No one who spends half a moment to think about it would believe that the current tax breaks on buying 'green' cars will still be in place if they become the vehicle of choice, and it would seem likely that government policy will alter over time as motorists pay less tax to address the the balance in some way to cover any shortfall if it is needed. 
So there is no real indication that motorists per se will be paying any more tax in real terms as they do today, just that the tax may be on other things. In fact in the article Paul Johnson from the Institute of Fiscal Studies suggests replacing the current system of fuel taxation with, 'A national system of charging related to mileage and congestion'. Sound like a idea worth looking at to me, and perhaps should have formed part of the headline used rather than one that appears to some as anti green.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Hitler Liked Dogs. Do You?

I have been following the news of Heartland's ill judged ad campaign. I'd say ill judged only if you consider shooting yourself in the foot while it is in your mouth, ill judged.  Didn't they learn anything from the not funny satirical 10:10 ads?

By pretty much suggesting that those who accept the science of global warming are like serial killers and terrorists they have managed to alienate supporters and funders alike. Drink giant Diageo who owns brands like Guinness, Smirnoff, Johnnie Walker and Mo√ęt & Chandon and gave Heartland $10,000 over the past two years say they have no plans to work with the Heartland Institute in the future. State Farm an insurance company has also announced that they were severing all ties with the Heartland Institute.This company gave $114,000 in 2010, $230,000 last year and $95,000 this year according to Heartland's leaked fund-raising plan. Ouch!

'my participation in the upcoming Heartland conference has now become untenable.' With her book being advertised on the same Heartland web page she believes her ' reputation has been harmed'. She also reports;

'Ross McKitrick said in an a strongly-worded letter to Heartland yesterday:
You cannot simultaneously say that you want to promote a debate while equating the other side to terrorists and mass murderers.'
Perhaps more can be learned about the ethics and morals of those who appear to see nothing wrong with this sort of campaign. Enter stage left my Member of the European Parliament, Roger Helmer. He became an MEP on a Conservative ticket before defecting to the more extreme right UKIP party who has for a deputy leader Mad Monckton. Helmer has been mentioned on my blog before;
Who voted for this idiot?
Rape victims share responsibility for the crime!
Winds of Change?

Helmer is still down to attend this Heartland conference as a breakfast speaker;
"Breakfast - May 23, 2012: SPEAKER, Roger Helmer, European Parliament, Great Britain - $39.00 "
By all accounts this insidious Ad campaign is no barrier to him giving his speech. According to Leo Hickman;
'He confirmed he was still attending, adding:
I am delighted that the Heartland campaign for the Chicago climate conference has succeeded in its purpose and attracted the attention of the Guardian.'
So with Helmer and his conservative opinions in mind I thought I'd give Heartland a few suggestions for alternatives to their posters. This ones for Rog;

 But Heartland's ads are really a reverse version of the Appeal to Authority. Choose someone who is noteworthy in some respect and use them to promote something unrelated. I can't see dairy farmers being too pleased to see this around the country;

Or, as the title of this post suggests, dog breeders liking this;

But to really show the absurdity and irrationality of this add campaign, suppose an environmental group had commissioned this;

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Catholic Church Still Abusing Children

In what I consider to be a hugely immoral act, the Catholic Church in Britain has written to nearly 400 state-funded Catholic schools asking them to get pupils, some as young as 11, to back a petition against gay marriage. Students in at least one school were shown a presentation on religious opposition to government plans to let gay couples marry in civil ceremonies.

This is wrong for several reason;
  • First it amounts to teaching children that gay relationships are wrong because the creator of the universe says it is so.
  • Second it puts immense peer pressure on to kids who see gay relationships as a personal choice and acceptable between consenting people, and would not normally support such a homophobic position. It will put these children in line for bullying and name calling if they have to courage to openly not to support this vile petition.
  • Thirdly, after stigmatising homosexuality, and a time when children are discovering their own sexuality, it will likely make the inevitable few who are naturally gay deny their own sexual nature and as something condemned in the eyes of others.

Do children really need to be used as pawns for the Catholic Church in this way?

The Catholic Church - no church, invented marriage. People were jumping the broom long before Christ or even Abraham. One wonders at the priorities of such people that they appear much more concerned about allowing certain types of adults to call themselves married and receive the benefits of such an arrangement as soon as possible legislation allowing it is discussed, but are painfully slow in reacting to claims of abuse of children levelled at their own people.Where is the petition for school children to sign against their own grooming by church authority figures?

As the title of this posts states, I do not think it is an over reaction to state that this is the abuse of children. It is an abuse of the authority that the parents have given, it encourages discrimination against others based on their sexuality, and it indoctrinates them to believe that inequality is not just justified but an requirement. This mental abuse can be as psychologically damaging as that inflicted by physical abuse.

I personally have a child still in Catholic education. They were unaware of this in-equality petition in their school and I hope that their school has the courage to overrule the Catholic Education Service on this matter and no child gets put into a position of being asked to sign it. My own child already says, unbidden by me, that they would not sign such a thing. This makes me proud but I would not criticise them if they did sign it out of pressure, but I will criticise the Catholic and School authorities if they put my child - any child, under this pressure. It is child abuse, pure and simple.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Real Science Isn't A Very Smart Place

A piece of very interesting climate research was published recently in Nature; 'Global warming preceded by increasing carbon dioxide concentrations during the last deglaciation' by Shakun et al.

It is interesting because previous research looking at historical carbon dioxide examined ice cores from the Antarctic and found that temperature lagged CO2 by about 800 years. This is an often used by climate contrarians to suggest proof that Co2 can't cause warming, but all it really does is show that it doesn't have to be responsible for initial warming.

From New Scientist

So the generally accepted scientific mechanism for past climate warming was that another forcing, and not CO2, was the initial trigger. That initial warming released enough GHGs, from permafrost, oceans etc., which then led to more warming. There is absolutely no doubt with the basic physics that CO2 causes warming. These other trigger forcings have usually been down to orbital variations known as Milankovitch cycles. This is still the accepted scientific cause for switches between Ice Ages and warmer inter glacier periods.

But this new research looked at 80 global proxy records of temperature, not just Antarctic ice cores, which can only reveal local conditions, for the last deglaciation and found that "temperature is correlated with and generally lags CO2 during the last (that is, the most recent) deglaciation." 
Sites of the 80 temperatures proxies used in Shakun et al's paper

So  while the basic premise for the cause of de-glaciations remains, this research indicates that CO2 can be an early, even initial forcing of warming, which further undermines the contrarian argument of temperature causing increased CO2 and not the other way around.

So how was this interesting research reported on Steven Goddard's Real Science?

"Antarctica Is A Very Smart Place

According to the latest research from top Ivy League expert Dr. Shakun, Antarctica is able to anticipate changes in CO2 several hundred years in advance, and preemptively adjust its thermostat long before the CO2 decides to spontaneously increase or decrease.

CO2 found it frustrating at first that Antarctica always anticipated his moves, until Dr. Shakun explained to him that this mysterious teleconnection proves that CO2 controls the universe. "
I understand that this is what passes for humour among those in denial, but rather than acting the idiot, shouldn't someone making a case against AGW, and who wants to be considered seriously, actually try to understand the scientific research that the conclusions are based on, and counter that? Well clearly of course they should, but in this case they obviously can't, so instead they act like a kid making faces and stupid remarks behind the teachers back.

Goddard’s Great Arctic Conspiracy

Steve Goddard has a conspiracy theory, Arctic Fraud, that he posted on the 9th of March 2012. I think I do remember scanning this at the time but ignored it as the usual worthless scaremongering that occurs with great frequency on his blog.
But then on of his commentators referenced it in reply to me to suggest this was a great discovery and I though that I’d have another look at it. If some of his readership took it seriously, regardless of how confused they may seem, others might as well.
Goddard claims that the whole ‘fraud’ was uncovered when "Thanks to the work of skeptics, two key government documents have been dug up ".  Hidden documents revealing a global fraud that were dug up due the fearless dedication of climate 'skeptics' -this is scary stuff.
The first of these hidden documents is a graph of Arctic sea ice extent and was uncovered in 'Climate Change the IPCC Assessment' from 1990 ... Hang on a moment – a 1990 IPCC report? How much digging up did that take? It’s probably been on the IPCC web site for, like decades now. They can't be very good at hiding their fraud if they just let anyone with an internet connection access to it – but then these ‘skeptics’ must be pretty useless at spotting it since it’s been right under their noses for about 22 years, don’t they read science? Oh I forgot, of course they don’t.
Actually this IPCC report is well referenced by ‘skeptics’ who often post this graph from it on page 202;
It seems to appear every time a Prof. Michael Mann’s ‘Hockey Stick’ graph of global temperatures is referred to as ‘proof’ that the Medieval Warm Period has been fraudulently erased from history – but that is another level of bunk I won’t go into here.
The first piece of evidence for Goddard’s fraud is a graph of sea ice extent anomaly, and can be ‘dug up’ on page 224. This is Goddard’s version of it;
For some reason that I can’t entirely understand, (perhaps someone in the know can help me out), he adds red bits and shows where proper satellite monitoring starts and where the value of ice is high. Is he trying to suggest that the US government at the time, (Carter was president), spent billions of dollars putting, keeping and monitoring satellites in orbit, to fraudulently inflate sea ice area then gradually bring it down over decades, (about 40years and counting), so that sometime in the future, when goodness knows who would be in government, it can be used as evidence for global warming and an excuse for increases in taxation, a new world order or something sinister based on a long perpetrated fraud? Perhaps Goddard’s red markings are there for some credible reason but it escapes me. 
Anyway I think Goddard’s ‘smoking gun’ from this graph is that sea ice was low back in the day and it is low now. But that graph is only part of a series;
We can see that while the Arctic starts fairly low and rises, the graph below for the Antarctic shows the ice high and falls. So global sea ice can't be considered anomalously low. How lame a fraud is that? Surely if you want to suggest that the ice is decreasing globally you keep both poles high at the start? Don’t these conspirators know nothing?
Seriously, it can be seen from considering both these graphs, pre satellite, that global sea ice was not low. But it also suggests that pre satellite measurements had much higher levels of uncertainty. That is way satellites were launched with a mission to measure ice area – not to inflate the figure but to get a more accurate measure. The first graph in the series shows a gradual decline in snow extent during the same period.

During the research of this post I came across another blog, ‘More GrumbineScience’, that does a far more rigorous examination of exactly what is in the 1990 IPCC report regarding sea ice extent. It explains exactly how the ice was measured at the time compared to more recent measurements. I'd recommend it for anyone interested in the facts - clearly Goddard has never read it.
So Goddard’s ‘Arctic Fraud’ isn’t of to a great start. The first key piece of evidence uncovered was freely available for decades and just shows the state of knowledge at the time.
But what of Goddard’s second key piece of evidence for a fraud. It is much more scary – a document from the CIA! This is a 1974 report by the CIA called "A study of climatological research as it pertains to intelligence problems". It was apparently dug up by in 2009. Was it uncovered by a  whistle blower? Was there a hack of the CIA servers? Is any body's life in jeopardy?
Well no. It was got from the British Library, where no doubt it has been for decades and open to the public for scrutiny. In fact it is available from several places on-line - it can be purchased from here for example. This document isn’t entirely unknown either. It is often cited as evidence every time the ‘Scientists thought there would be global cooling in the 70’s’ meme is brought up. So I can’t help wonder if this document was dug up and revealed in ‘skeptic’ circles in 2009, and the first document has been freely availably for decades, why it has taken Steve Goddard about 3 years to reveal his great Arctic conspiracy fraud? Perhaps he was fact checking? – Sorry, I must try to tone down the sarcasm.
Goddard’s ‘smoking gun’ from the CIA report is the line;
 Early in the 1970s a series of adverse climatic anomalies occurred;
  • The worlds snow and ice cover had increased by at least 10 to 15 percent.
That is further used by him to suggest that sea ice was also low back in our recent past. But this isn’t a scientific report. In fact the science in it is dodgy at best. It was commissioned and written during the cold war and at a time when the media were hyping the idea of global cooling, and when Arctic sea ice had been increasing. This is clearly part of the series of events that occurred in the 1970s, unusual enough at the time for the somewhat paranoid CIA to worry about possible 'intelligence problems'.
If the CIA had taken time to ask the scientific community the general direction the near future climate was expect to take was one of warming, not cooling.
So looking at all the evidence that has been ‘dug up’, can any one rationally say there is any credible evidence for a fraud? Isn’t it more like another case of doubting the research based on ignorance and bias by a fantasist?