Really Sciency

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

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Collapasing Polar Bear Research?

In what feels like a follow up to a past post on Polar bears having to swim longer distances due to ice melt another (sort off) related  story has made the news.

It seems a scientist called Charles Monnett has been placed on administrative leave  because of "integrity issues." He and his team was responsible for publishing research in 2006 on deaths among polar bears swimming in the Beaufort Sea. Just about all the reports, like this one, have clearly made the case that these integrity issues were to do with that particular report with the clear implication that the validity of that report is now questionable. In fact WTFUWT actually states; 'his “research” is collapsing' while also linking the whole thing to AL Gore  who "he single-handedly inspired".

The problem is that it looks as if these accusations are all nonsense. I have no idea what these "integrity issues" are and until it all comes out in public saying anything is speculation but it seems that it has nothing whatsoever to do with his 2006 work or his scientific integrity because his employer, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, has obviously felt the need to publicly state that;

The agency placed Mr. Monnett on administrative leave for reasons having nothing to do with scientific integrity, his 2006 journal article, or issues related to permitting, as has been alleged. Any suggestions or speculation to the contrary are wrong.
So I think we can safely scratch all the insinuations about this research collapsing. What about Al Gores inspiration? Well Gore may well have seen this report and felt the need for inclusion in his famous climate change presentation but the threat to polar bears was well established before 2006. The 2004 Arctic Climate Impact Assessment had already used research from as far back as 1999;

Changes in the extent and type of sea ice affect the distribution and foraging success of polar bears (Ferguson et al., 2000a,b; Mauritzen et al., 2001; Stirling et al., 1993). The earliest impacts of warming will occur at their southern limits of distribution, such as at James and Hudson Bays; and this has already been documented by Stirling et al. (1999)
Put simply, polar bears are far better of with the ice conditions they evolved to thrive in.

So Monnett's report was just more evidence adding to an already growing body of research and as my previous post on the subject shows that body of evidence has continued growing after his report. Still I doubt the facts will hold little sway with the anti global warming crowd and I'm sure they will be quoting and linking to these misinformed stories for years to come every time someone mentions the very real threat to the biodiversity in the Arctic from AGW.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Nation's Climatologists Exhibiting Strange Behavior

What could this be all about?

There is No Consensus! – Yeah, I know.

The old climate canard that there is No Scientific Consensus on Climate Change appeared in Paul Hudson’s blog but this is an oft used tactic that I simply do not understand the significance off. 

'Consensus' must be used with a different meaning than I suppose because I can't see what is gained by going on about by denying the 'consensus'. I get the basic idea that if you can construct a straw man such as ‘climate scientists claim the science is settled’ you can then easily show that it isn’t and insist that a scientific debate should exist. 

However science is not done by consensus, but by research and evidence. There is always more research that needs to be done. But there must come a point when the majority of those researching and publishing in a particular field agree the basic science (in this case that GHGs cause warming and more GHGs will cause more warming). This has happened to such an extent that every national institute and academy of science representing the wide spectrum of disciplines researching AGW make very specific statements about the science. If ‘consensus’ means ‘majority’ I think it is fair to say that there is a consensus on the basic science.

Of course science that is thought of as settled could be over turned by a single piece of credible research but it is only rational to base any actions or policies on what the science currently suggests, not what we hope it might do sometime in the future.

But what I really don’t get is who are these AGW accepting people that apparently frequently state that the "science is settled"? Who is the original person who has the authority to speak for the climate science community and anyone else who accepts its conclusions? Perhaps some have said something like it at some time but in what context? I would think it can only be in terms of a majority of those doing the research, reaching some broad conclusion about the basics but that can be applied to any scientific endeavour – it isn’t specific to climate science.

The only time I see it used is when those who deny some aspects of the science tell me that those who accept that science believe this to be true. I doubt very much if many let alone the majority of researching scientists – in any scientific discipline – would say such a thing. Certainly not any scientific group I know off. Would suggesting that it is really only used by AGW skeptic groups as a Straw Man argument sound paranoid? If anyone knows its true origins I would be interested to find out.

In any case it is extremely unlikely to have ever been used by any someone qualified to represent the scientific community en mass nor in the context that the science is really settled. If it or similar has ever been used I suspect it was used by a politician to promote some policy. In any case it certainly isn’t a valid argument to use against the science.

The unbelieveable thing is that whole web sites have evolved based on this straw man fallacy;
No Consensus.

No Frakking Consensus

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Creationists and AGW rejecters can’t be compared.

Unfinished Arguments

Occasionally I get some time, but not as often as I like, to post on other blogs including Paul Hudson’s which I also mention in my Links section. It tends to attract its fair share of AGW rejecters.

Unfortunately the blog closes it comments after a time and brings some good debates to an abrupt end. It does not seem right to carry such debates forward onto Paul's subsequent postings as they will certainly be off topic but having a blog of my own I can at least post what I would have said had I had the time and the chance.

In this thread several anti-AGW arguments reared their heads. Most can be found in some form on the Skeptical Science Site with much more informed rebuttals than I’m sure I give. Nevertheless I intend some posts that will summarise the arguments I have been involved in and what I would have replied.

The first which is;

Creationists and AGW rejecters can’t be compared

In the Hudson Thread I was told that I appeared to be attempting to classify climate change sceptics along with "creationists" and that the two things are not similar. My adversary stated that the latter do not use science in any shape or form so any similarity was is entirely in your own mind.

Well yes I was comparing the two because the arguments and tactics are frightening similar. Although I used creationism / evolution as my main example my real argument was not confined to it but included any belief the pseudo-sciences such as Homeopathy, Astrology etc.

My adversary had this to say on climate science;
“that even if the science is known in general terms, the detail is extremely uncertain.”

But the same can be said for evolution.

Apparently the difference between this position and evolution was; 
“At least in the case of evolution we understand the underlying mechanism, even if we can't predict individual outcomes. In any case, there are no other alternative scientific explanations”.

But the same can be said for AGW.

There seems to be a logical disconnect between people who can reject some accepted science in favour of scientifically rejected hypothesis as in the case of rejecting the theory of anthropogenic global warming and favouring its denial, but accept the theory of evolution over creationism. Of course they cannot see this contradiction because they will see their reasons for dismissing aspects of generally accepted science in favour of something else (that the Earth is only a few thousand years old for example) as valid. In the case above creationism is rejected as unscientific but those who believe it justify it on the grounds that it is scientifically (and religiously) supported. You only have to look at Answers in Genesis to see how a global flood killed nearly all the animals leaving them in layers to fossilise, or that scientific dating methods are so inaccurate that all dating over the age they believe the earth to be can be dismissed.

 Another example of this ‘logic’ unique to creationists is rejecting DNA evidence of evolutionary lineage but accepting it as valid evidence in a court to support the death plenty. Those who reject AGW are not far behind by accepting the basic physics of GHGs but rejecting the idea that a build up caused by increased man made emissions could account for present warming.

As I have said the similarities are frightening similar. Skeptics of AGW and evolution both have people with scientific qualifications or claimed qualifications on their side. Both claim to have valid alternative theories that are often contradictory and are not accepted by the science mainstream or even soundly supported by evidence. Both publish lists of ‘scientists’ who reject the ‘consensus’ and both positions are sometimes adopted by exactly the same groups believing the same ‘science’;

Personally they might not see credible alternative explanations for one but do for the other, but logically I can see no difference between both groups and any others that reject mainstream science.

If they can find no scientific reasons ("there isn't a consensus as I chose to understand it" etc) but still dismiss the opinion of the majority of scientists who research and publish in the field then the 'logic' is just as valid as those who choose to believe Homoeopathy works, or the Earth isn't Billions of years old, or living things didn't evolve.

Now some might actually believe all of those things so there is no contradiction in their minds but I suspect that most of them do believe at least some things that are held to be 'settled' science so I do not understand how they can logically dismiss others if not because of political, ideological or religious beliefs.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Daily Maul gets it right again!

Trawling the Daily Maul to see how it handles science related stories may becoming an obsession, given how poorly it has covered them in the past. But yet another global warming related story by that well known Daily Mail reporter, -  'Daily Mail Reporter' hasn't been spun from all recognition of what the science actually concludes. Maybe I'm starting to like this News Paper? - Nah!

But it did cover a report about Polar Bears now having to swim long distances due to climate change melting more ice and how this has resulted in increased infant mortality. The same story was reported by Discovery News and the Mauls take on it is here. But what is really revolutionary is that the papers actually states;

The Arctic is warming faster than lower latitudes due to the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and the melting of sea ice in summer accelerates the warming effect.
Why to go!  Christopher "substantially misleading" Booker must be horrified that a paper he sometimes writes a column for is printing actual scientific conclusions.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

What a bunch of bright sparks!

It seems no sooner do I do a post about the crazy situation in the US House of Representatives where Republicans are trying to over turn legislation to improve energy efficiencies of the humble light bulb and warn that the fight is not over (and I was right), than they vote to 'strip all funding from government programmes promoting energy-saving lightbulbs.'!

But my original post got some things wrong. I assumed that the legislation was a phased ban of the inefficient tungsten bulb in favour of the new compacts and LEDs. In fact it was just a law, passed in 2007 by Republican George Dubya remember, to simply set efficiency standards for general-service, screw-in light bulbs - there was no ban and no forcing consumers to buy compact fluorescent lighting against their will.

So claims by these Right Wingnuts that this is an assault on individual liberty and now an affront to the memory of the lightbulb inventor, Thomas Edison, is nonsense. If every new development was an affront to an original inventor we would still be driving black cars, listening to music on wax drums and talking on wind up telephones.

Even more insane is that US lighting manufacturers asked for the legislation to avoid a mix of conflicting standards that would have driven up costs and created market confusion. As it happens;
"Major lightbulb makers such as Philips and GE had already begun making the new, more efficient bulbs, and opposed the measure. The last factory in the US making the inefficient 100 watt bulbs closed last year."
I cannot help but wonder how much political effort and time has been wasted promoting this nonsense. It looks to me as if these 'representatives of the people' have found something to rally behind. Something to spin out of all reasonable significance like politicians have done in the past when they chose Jews, Blacks, Gays and Immigrants, because they wanted to give their supporters a bad guy and to form a sense of unity, and to give a target to aim at. But in this case they have chosen an Energy Efficiency Standard.

But my original post was also off the mark by simply calling this lot of energy fascists, Republicians. In fact there are many sane people in the Republician party who see throught the stupidity of all this. One group, called 'Republicians for Environmental Protection', issued an initial statement on this idiocy which is worth mirroring;
Rejection of Dim BULB Act a Victory for Common Sense

The House's defeat today of bizarre legislation to turn back the clock on lighting efficiency was a victory for the economy, the environment, and common sense, Republicans for Environmental Protection said.
"We regret that Congress was forced to waste its time voting on a foolish bill that was premised entirely on false claims and ignorance," David Jenkins, REP vice president for government and political affairs, said.
"If enacted, Joe Barton's BULB Act would have wasted millions of dollars for lighting manufacturers and billions for consumers. And for what, to placate fears about a non-existent light bulb ban rumor that Barton himself created?" Jenkins said.
"Members of Congress and talk radio entertainers who knowingly peddled this falsehood and misled consumers are a national embarrassment and ought to be ashamed of themselves," Jenkins added.
"We're pleased that 10 Republicans, including Reps. Charles Bass (NH), Brian Bilbray (CA), Tom Reed (NY), and Dave Reichert (WA) saw through the charade and voted to kill this nonsensical bill," Jenkins said.
"The repeal bill was based on a false premise, that the 2007 law setting efficiency standards for general-service, screw-in light bulbs bans incandescent bulbs and will force consumers to buy compact fluorescent lighting. The law does no such thing," Jim DiPeso, REP vice president for policy and communication, explained.
These are the facts. Lighting manufacturers asked for the 2007 legislation in order to avoid a patchwork of state standards that would have driven up costs and created market confusion. It's the same reason Ronald Reagan signed into law legislation setting appliance efficiency standards during his presidency.
Lighting manufacturers have introduced new incandescent bulbs that look like conventional incandescent bulbs. The new bulbs are on store shelves right now. They produce the same quantity and quality of light, but use 28 to 33 percent less energy. Switching to more efficient light bulbs will save households $100 per year on their electric bills.
"Same light, lower costs, more consumer choices than ever. The repeal bill was a daft solution in search of a non-existent problem. We hope that Congress has seen the last of it and can turn its attention to more important matters," DiPeso said.
 Now that a majority on the Republician side of the House of Representatives have made this vote declaring victory and freedom for tungsten lightbulbs they are no more impressed;

House Attack on Lighting Efficiency Disappointing
Republicans for Environmental Protection is disappointed that the House passed by voice vote today an appropriations amendment blocking funds to enforce lighting efficiency standards enacted with bipartisan support in 2007.
"If enacted into law, this amendment to the 2012 energy appropriations bill would strand millions of dollars that lighting manufacturers have invested to produce more efficient incandescent light bulbs, cause confusion in the market, and waste consumers' money," David Jenkins, REP vice president for government and political affairs, said.
"There is no ban on incandescent light bulbs, as critics of the 2007 law falsely claim. Thanks to innovative lighting manufacturers, Americans have more lighting choices than ever. That is the case today and will be the case next year, when the 2007 law takes effect," Jenkins said.
"We urge the Senate to keep this foolish amendment out of the final energy appropriations bill," Jim DiPeso, vice president for policy and communications, said.
 One wonders how far this said foolishness will go but I'm certain it is not finished with yet.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Suffer the little children

Yet another report is published highlighting the extent of Child abuse in the Catholic Church - this in the Irish diocese of Cloyne. And this time we know for sure who was responsible for such abuses to go on unreported to the authorities; Bishop John Magee, a man as personal secretary to three successive popes, at the heart of the Vatican.  Released on Wednesday, it investigated how allegations against 19 priests were dealt with between 1996 and 2009.

Bishop John Magee
The worst thing is that this abuse occurred after 1996 when the church's own child protection guidelines were in place as a result of previous claims of abuse. Yet this report tells us over and over how the implementation of the policies and procedures was inadequate and inappropriate and found that Bishop John Magee falsely told the Irish government he was reporting all abuse allegations to authorities.
This report describes him as  being "entirely unhelpful" in dealing with allegations of sexual exploitation.The authors of the report said the Vatican's actions "can only be described as unsupportive in relation to the civil authorities".  The report concluded: "It is a remarkable fact that Bishop Magee took little or no active interest in the management of clerical child sexual abuse cases until 2008, 12 years after the framework document was adopted. By then it was hard to ignore such cases as the media with full of such stories.

The inquiry concludes that the fact that some child sexual abuse allegations were not reported to police was the diocese's "greatest failure". There were 15 cases between 1996 and as late as 2005 which "very clearly" should have been reported. Yet police were not told about nine of them. The most serious lapse was the failure to report the two cases in which the alleged victims were minors.
He made the same mistake as others but in his case the church's child protection guidelines were supposedly in place, and he cannot claim he did not know how to respond to the abuse allegations.

Bishop Magee stepped aside from duties in the diocese in March 2009 after an independent report found his Cloyne Diocese had put children at risk of harm. His resignation was accepted by the Pope a year later and he is now living in retirement.

How many Republicians does it take to change a light bulb Bill?

Apparently more than 233!

In a story I have been following that is the number or votes in the US Congress that a repeal of a 2007 law promoting environmentally efficient lighting got but it wasn't the two thirds majority required. It seems phasing out inefficient light bulbs is a sweeping assault on personal freedoms and people should be allowed to waste as much energy and the Earth's natural resources as they can afford. Strangely  it was the last Republican President,  George Dubya, that was in office when this efficiency measure was passed.

I have seen it said that it is a freedom and rights issue because the old tungsten lamps can be used for things that the new efficient compacts and LEDs can't - I mean how many Lava Lamps can these people really own?

This whole light bulb bill has been championed by presidential contender Michele Bachmann - now there is a political bight spark to watch out for in the future. Just how do such people get to such high levels of political office in the US? Defeated this time they may be, but this campaign to needlessly  burn money and resources is not dead yet,  with the likes of Joe Barton, a  Texan Republican, saying he would try again to get the legislation through – by any means!

Meanwhile on the other side of the pond the Daily Maul is still publishing as many stories as it can against all forms of renewable energy. It curses rising energy bills but puts the blame squarely on hidden 'Green Taxes'. Little mention is made of the fact that energy bills are rising mostly because of increases in the prices of oil and gas - fossil fuels that are unlikely to decline in price by much in the short term but almost certainly will rise further in the medium term.

Current prices and impending rises are pushing more and more people into 'Fuel Poverty', the point when households spend more than 10% of their income on energy bills. With predictions that it will affect a quarter of all homes it is likely that mine will be among them.

Renewables can only get cheaper but will the supporting infrastructure for them be in place by the next generation when price parity between the two happens? Unlikely unless we not only pay these 'Green Taxes' but the money raised is ring fenced and invested wisely.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Christopher Booker's brain is more jelly than a Jelly Fish.

The day after I make a post about The Daily Mangles Schizophrenic nature on science reporting another even better example appears.

This story - "Attack of the jellyfish: Sea creatures shut down ANOTHER power station amid claims population surge is due to climate change" -  by the infamous 'Daily Mail Reporter' comes to light and it gets the general idea that an increase in ocean CO2, causing Ocean Acidification, has changed the oceans climate to favour jelly fish which are now reproducing in great numbers and causing the problems reported.

In a total flip flop we have a column by the loon Christopher "substantially misleading" Booker ranting - Global warming? A new ice age? The only certainty is that YOU'RE paying for the hysteria of our politicians - where he sets up a fantasy straw world which  he then attacks with a pitch fork.

In his column he claims that the world is to be threatened by a sharp drop in temperatures, possibly so severe that it could herald a new mini ice age - it isn't as the video in my last post shows. Only this time it isn't low solar activity that is going to induce this mini ice age but sulphur emissions due to Chinese economic expansion - it wont.

But trying to convince us that scientists now say there is going to be a mini ice age is just a straw man to knock aside as he tells us that "only a few years back were telling us that the planet was in danger of being fried to a crisp by runaway global warming?" - I'm doubtful that 'fried to a crisp' is a scientific term but they still basically are. He also claims that 40 years ago U.S. scientists began to warn us the world was heading for a cooling so severe it might even herald a new ice age - they didn't.

From then on in his piece he constructs a fantasy world where scientists flip from cooling to warming and back again so that their stories match and the can get "billions in funding". No doubt this money comes useful for thousands of climatologists around the world to travel to conferences in exotic locations in their private gold plated Lear Jets.

I'm sure that the owners of The Daily Maul thought a columnist with controversial and contrary opinion would add to the publication when they agreed to take on Mr Booker but I bet they didn't realise at the time what a fabricator he was when it comes to inventing a make believe world that can be bent to fit his delusions. Time to get rid - there are plenty of real journalists out there professional enough not to make things up to suit their personal Disney world.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Flip Flopping Away

What is happening at the Daily Maul?

With a strong pedigree in any story that can promote anti-environmentalism and columnists with a clear anti-science, anti-global warming bent it has had some appalling science coverage over the years.

But strangely, of late it has had some articles from that elusive 'Daily Mail Reporter' that actually has reported the general thrust of the science even if they have been of the usual poor quality ill and  referenced standard we are used to.

This has resulted in some humorous flip flopping with alarmist stories about the impending ice age like this -The new Ice Age: Climate change could slow as sun simmers down -and this - Earth facing a mini-Ice Age 'within ten years' due to rare drop in sunspot activity - which was thoroughly ripped apart by this little Youtube video;

To stories that reflect the general scientific opinion like this - Coal-burning China's rapid growth may have HALTED global warming - and this  - Global warning: Scientists in U-turn as they claim extreme weather and climate change are linked - which was cited on WTFUWT as "This Week’s Stupidest Global Warming Story” and judging by the comments in the Maul Online they must have given the climate science denying section of their readership apoplexy.

I can't figure out if this is because the editorial staff now realise  that 'The Daily Mail owners buy climate change' as revealed here or if it is just the fact that the science has finally reached a critical mass that any newspaper has little option to start reporting it. Perhaps it is just temporary and the Maul will return to it's usual misrepresentation of all science it thinks it's readership would rather not hear.

Which ever it is, it has certainly made this  "sexist, racist, bigoted, comic cartoon strip" more entertaining recently.