Really Sciency

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

Monday, 24 October 2011

Things falling downward doesn’t mean gravity did it.

Any one with the slightest interest in climate science will now know that The Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project has released the conclusions on global temperature data for feedback before peer review and publication.

The project funded independently and including part funds from oil interests, brought together more temperature records than any previous study and when first announced became the climate ‘skeptics’ last great hope for showing that if the world was even actually warming it was overstated by unscrupulous climate scientists looking for further funding.

Unfortunately Richard Muller, a physicist and head of the project announced that the average global land temperature has risen by about 0.9C in a century, which is slightly higher than the 0.7C – 0.8C normally quoted by climatologists, and  said;

"My hope is that this will win over those people who are properly sceptical. Some people lump the properly sceptical in with the deniers and that makes it easy to dismiss them, because the deniers pay no attention to science."
When the news was announced I mentioned it on Paul Hudson’s blog and theorised that if they haven’t already accepted the planet is warming  the ‘deniers will say something like they now accept there is global warming but not what the scientists say is the cause’. I wasn’t disappointed either with many now making claims that they do accept it is warming and in most cases claiming to always have accepted it. But this warming they say, is actually caused by (Insert appropriated denier myth here). The typical reasoning is that there are too many unknowns or it’s been warming since the end of the last ice age, etc.

Even The Daily Fail held up my theory with the headline; ‘New analysis of 1.6 billion weather records concludes the world IS warming (but still can't say what's causing it)’, which was very kind of them since the Berkeley Earth project never even considered the cause. But scientists have been not only saying it has been warming but that human emissions are the main cause. So good on the Daily Fail, with a headline like that not only do they imply that the cause was considered but the scientists have no idea why – science reporting at it’s very worst.

However this set me thinking how I would deal with their ‘Yes it’s warming but science doesn’t know why’, arguments that will keep appearing. The logical thing to do is to point out that research has looked at all the other possibilities, natural cycles, the Sun, cosmic radiation etc, and discounted them as improbable compared to increasing green house gases, but that hasn’t really worked up to now. I did think of a couple of other simple ways though.

Yes it is warming but science doesn’t know why

The only reason scientists were looking to see if warming was occurring was that the basic physics worked out in the 1800s by the likes of John Tyndall, Joseph Fourier and Svante Arrhenius suggested that the increase of certain gasses in the atmosphere would warm it. Those gasses (principally Carbon Dioxide), had increased through man made emissions and if the physics was correct, then at some point a warming signal would be detected within the natural background variation.

So basically, scientists said Man should be causing warming and found warming. For skeptics to then say; ‘We can’t know if the warming is man made’ is just like saying; ‘Scientists say Gravity should cause things to fall downward, but just because they do doesn’t mean that Gravity is the cause’!

So I would argue that it is up to those who believe current warming might not be due to emissions to come up with a more scientifically acceptable theory. I know that most actually believe they have done this with 'It's the Sun' or whatever but that is only half way there. Not only do they need a theory to explain this current warming trend but they also need another theory to explain why the physics worked or in the 1800s hasn't caused the warming that  scientists were originally looking for and believe they have found. A rather tall order and one that might push the limits of Occam's razor.
Of course it is warming; it has been since the last Ice age

I see this argument more and more often and it gets more ridiculous the more I think about it.

Yes it has been warming since the last Ice age, but it has warmed about 1C in the last century. The Ice age was about 4C colder than now and ended over ten thousand years ago – DO THE MATH!

Actually if the planet was to heat up 1C every century then in the last 10,000 years the world would be over 100 degrees centigrade! Or hotter than boiling water!

Friday, 21 October 2011

Not long now!

 Harold Camping says on his website.
"Thus we can be sure that the whole world, with the exception of those who are presently saved (the elect), are under the judgment of God, and will be annihilated together with the whole physical world on Oct. 21,"

 Unfortunately for me, my boss doesn't see this as a valid reason to take the day off!

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Daily Jekyll and Mail Hyde

Well it seems that I’m not the only person with a bit of an obsession about the accuracy of the Daily Mauls ‘scientific’ articles and their Jekyll and Hyde nature. In an interesting piece recently in the Guardian, Bob Ward comments on this too, in the context of the Press Complaints Commission’s ability to self regulate.

The reason that the Daily Fail almost gets the science right on occasion is that it has an ‘admirable science editor, Michael Hanlon’, who would have guessed?

'We also have the newspapers owners boast that the company has reduced its emissions of carbon dioxide by more than 13% since 2007, well ahead of its target of a 10% cut by 2012'.

Both these things don’t seem to sit well with the Mauls editor, Paul Darce, who is allegedly in cahoots with Lord Lawson and BennyPeiser and their skeptic organisation the Global Warming Policy Foundation. This would account for why science coverage so often and so spectacularly fails

This explains the flip flopping nature of science stories in the paper and the point of Bob Ward’s article is that the blatant misinterpretation of the facts and the promotion of misinformation shows a clear disregard for the Press Complainants Commission’s rules; Rules that are supposed to be upheld by a newspapers editor in this self regulatory system.

But for me, the most interesting thing in the article is the example that Bob Ward uses when he claims that;

"The main aim of the Daily Mail campaign has been to convince readers that the rising cost of living is mainly due to policies to reduce UK emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases."

My MEP, Roger Helmer, must be a Daily Fail reader or at least signed up to similar agenda by suggesting energy price increases are mainly down to green taxes, used to subsidise the likes of wind generation, as I showed in a previous post.

So how much of energy price rises or just energy costs to the consumer are due to these so called green taxes? I have asked Helmer on his blog while trying to get him to justify himself. Some more research is needed and will be the subject of another post soon.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Doomsday Again!

The end of the world is happening again this Friday. The New Rapture is nearly upon us. 

Remember almost 5 months ago? The end of the world was the 21st May according to Harold Camping. Unfortunately the old chap didn't quite get his sums right - he wasn't exactly wrong of course because the 21st of May was just the beginning. It was the date that applications for salvation closed and the offices of God apparently shut. I presume to give him plenty of time to complete all the paper work that the end of time and space must involve. So if you have been a goodie two shoes in the last 5 months  - its too late! If you were born in the last 5 months then blame your parents, they were told.

Of course there is a very serious side to all this.
I had forgotten all about this and I invited some friends round on Saturday and now it appears that I have spent good money on alcohol that will never get drunk. If that isn't a serious issue - well I can't think of a better one.

If by a slim chance nothing actually happens on Friday, well we always have the one in 2012 to look forward to.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Winds of Change?

Roger Helmer, the Member European Parliament (MEP) for the East Midlands and my representative, (though I used the term 'representative' loosely as he has continued to misrepresent  my views to Europe, and I suspect most of his constituents  as well), announced his retirement last week and used this as a platform to further push misrepresentations.

He was interviewed and appeared on 'The Politics Show East Midlands' where he continued soundly blaming rising energy prices on "our obsession with wind power". However he is unlikely to actually state a figure that he can prove is the true cost per consumer of installing increased wind generating capacity. 

While the small percentage of electricity produced by wind currently costs more than that from fossil based sources and will in theory end up being paid for by consumers it isn't the reason for increasing energy prices and only those completely out of touch and concerned in pushing their own agenda would claim such a thing.

Helmer never though to mention the "rigged" market in Britain that has seen a rise in firms' profit margins from £15 to £125 per customer, a rise of over 700%. This is increasing profit, NOT increasing costs due to the changing way we generate power. I'm sure deep down he really knows this even if he can't bring himself to be honest enough to admit it.

Retiring at the end of the year, it is unlikely that he will be replaced by anyone more likely to represent the majority of his constituents in Europe and I might miss the old duffer a little, as better the devil you know and one so easy to prove in error.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

A Short Step Taken

In one of my very first postings almost a year ago called AShort Step from Madness I suggested some people who are prepared to believe in a paranormal deity and supernatural evil are a short step from carrying out terrible and irrational actions because of those beliefs. The example I used was a news story about several people including a Christian pastor burning a 72 year old as a witch in Ghania

Such a post incited an obviously religious reader to call such thinking a fallacy because the Milgram Experiment showed that people can believe they will not be held accountable for their actions so long as they are instructed to do them by an "authority figure". Unfortunately I saw this as further evidence to my case because a god is the ultimate authority figure and the ring leader is as likely to believe they are following gods wishes as those following.

All this was brought back to me when reading a copy of the free newspaper the Metro when two stories appeared on opposite sides of the paper which I have now tracked down on line. The first shows the kind of fervent religious belief that I consider a short irrational step from madness and the second story is about an unfortunate man who takes that step and commits a shocking act of self mutilation.

In Poland Catholics held a special mass for a miracle communion wafer that fell on the floor in 2008 and has since developed a brown spot after being in water.

So far so un-miraculous but two doctors have since claimed that this brown spot is heart muscle, all done without any scientificanalysis or testing apparently, so with such strong evidence the people of Poland are holding religious services for the heart of Jesus! But then as the Archbishop there said; "For God, nothing is impossible."

I would normally have dismissed such nonsense with a roll of the eyes and shake of the head but on the opposite page was a much more disturbing report.

In Italy at a Catholic Mass a man calmly stood up and tore out both his eyeballs in the middle of the priest's sermon. Clearly this individual was disturbed and almost certainly mentally ill. The point to make is that his actions appear to have been triggered by a passage from the Bible, though it is unclear from the news reports if it was actually used during this sermon.

According to the article; From the Gospel of St Matthew, Jesus tells his disciples:
'If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away.
'It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.'

Though to be honest a verse from Mark 9:47 also came to mind;

And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell,

With a book of mythology containing such passages and taught to people as an early age as ‘gospel’ to base and live their whole lives on, how can anyone expect such terrible incidents not to occur? How can the organisations and people promoting such beliefs not have some responsibility when this sort of incident happens?

Monday, 3 October 2011

Cowboys and Indians

There has been a lot of talk about the ‘Indian Summer’ that arrived in the UK at the end of September. I have discovered that the term refers, not to colonial Britain and the days of the Raj as I had assumed, but to the Native American Indian andwarm weather between September and November.

I was asked by another blogger what my thoughts on it were and I wasn’t that impressed because I first heard the term when I was a kid and remembered going back to school in September from my summer holidays in some glorious ‘Indian Summer’ weather. I’m also very aware of the accusations of climate cowboy 'skeptics', often justified, that every time there is warm weather it is global warming and every time it is cold it becomes just weather.

The Indian Summer weather is due to break tomorrow from temperatures in the high 20s Centigrade to the high teens which are still fairly mild if more average for the time of year. But as the week has gone on I have become more impressed.  It’s not like 2010/2011 being the coldest winter in 15 years but we are recording some of the hottestdays ever and certainly in living memory. We have had a Barbecue Autumn! When it comes to temperatures these have been real outliers on any bell curve constructed for temperatures, pushing for a new warmer average.

So is it Global Warming?

Yes and No. We really need to get away from generally attributing weather events to man made climate change. This is because even if temperatures are the ‘warmest in a century’ or similar types of record, climate cowboy ‘skeptics’ will always retort that; ‘It was just as warm over a century ago, so who was driving SUVs then?’ Even if extreme events are truly record breaking, according to instrument records, it is unlikely that similar have never occurred something in the past.

The case that needs to be made is that the frequency of extreme weather events can be predicted using a bell curve. It is reasonable to say that something is a once in a century type event for example according to the records. It can now be seen that such rare events are now occurring more often than they should be. Both hot and cold records are still occurring but the situation now developing is that there are more heat related extreme records that cold, which is exactly what has been predicted by AGW theory.

 So recorded warmer weather or any climate extreme is NOT global warming or climate change they are new data point pushing the average conditions toward a changed and warmer climate.