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 Moët & 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?

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Goddard: Tampering With Data All Over The Planet

Of course that's Steve Goddard, from the Orwellian named Real Science, and nothing to do with NASA’s Goddard space centre.

Unfortunately Mr. Goddard doesn’t do very well with graphs. We have seen it on Really Sciency before, (still waiting for the correction), and his latest howlers were when he posted the animated .gif below;

Goddard uses this to make the claim;
 “Hansen has been deleting cooling trends all over the planet.”, “He has erased historical cooling trends (blue) in North America, South America, Africa, the Arctic, Antarctica, and elsewhere.”
And very helpfully draws little red rings around the areas he mentions. What he has discovered is shocking! The chilly light blue areas have suddenly become a less chilly looking white. Oh the humanity! Surely this is proof of tampering, proof of erasing cooling trends?

Hang on a moment, what about those very angry looking dark red areas on the same image as the blue (the ones he rather conveniently doesn't draw little red rings around), – haven’t those become a less warm orange? Drat those pesky scientists, (Hansen specifically), they have gone and erased the hot, hot, hot areas, clearly they are erasing warming trends as well! Drat and double drat.

Below I have included the maps as separate images for easy comparison;

But wait – the maps use the same colours but at the bottom they use different scales - Actually Goddard knows this because almost as a foot note he does say;
The color scales are shifted, but the legends are located below the maps – and you can see that the values have changed.”

The first thing that should ring alarm bells with any true sceptic is that Goddard  thinks comparing two maps with different scales is a perfectly reasonable thing to do. Who with any inkling of science and an idea to communicate would even let such a notion cross their mind and publish such shoddy work as a credible evaluation? Well Steven Goddard obviously.

The second thing is his preoccupation with his own bias. If he is right to be concerned, and cooling trends are really being ‘erased’, then why does this concern not extend to warming trends being erased as well?

Well the truth is obvious, Goddard has his answer and is trying to get ‘facts’ to convince himself and others it is right, instead of looking at all the facts and drawing a rational conclusion from them. If he was an honest man, even believing he's right, he would be as concerned for the changes at both ends of the scale, not just the bits he thought made an anti-AGW case. That is why he will always be prone to cherry picking and making howlers such as the ones I will show below.

So the only question that remains; Is Goddard correct about trends (at either end) being erased?

Goddard actually gives a specific example to reinforce his case;
“The circle over Africa has changed from a -0.5C to -0.3C cooling trend, into a warming trend.”
I can’t see exactly where he got these figures from. The cool area circled over Africa in the first map ranges from around -0.5 to +0.1. In the second map the cool area ranges from around -0.2 to +0.5, so the values are slightly different even if they are not the values Goddard works it out at.

An easier area to work out is the circled U.S. area. It goes from -0.5 to -0.1 in the first map to -0.2 to +0.2 in the second map.

But doesn’t that make Goddard correct about erasing trends? They are different in each map after all. Well all that really depends on if these maps are really showing the same data.

Goddard gives links to where he got the maps from. The second is straight forward; it is the GISS Surface Temperature Analysis using GHCN v3.

The first map however is over 12 years old. Goddard gets if from a brief piece on the NASA, Goddard Institute for Space Studies, web site from August 1999 about the US climate at that time. It is worth a read if only to understand how real scientists view data, not as Steve Goddard has done above, but with guarded statements, based only on what the data, and all the data, supports. Of the drought that occurred in the Eastern U.S. in 1999, Hansen and his team have this to say;

“Was the heat wave and drought in the Eastern United States in 1999 a sign of global warming?
Empirical evidence does not lend much support to the notion that climate is headed precipitately toward more extreme heat and drought. The drought of 1999 covered a smaller area than the 1988 drought, when the Mississippi almost dried up. And 1988 was a temporary inconvenience as compared with repeated droughts during the 1930s "Dust Bowl" that caused an exodus from the prairies, as chronicled in Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath.

Does this sound like a scientist prepared to ‘erase’ trends or one that admits the data does not support anthropogenic warming in the U.S. at that time?

Anyway I digress. The map Goddard uses for his ‘before’ has been taken from the article mentioned, but it is actually from a 1999  paper; 'GISS analysis of surface temperature change'; by J. Hansen, R. Ruedy, J. Glascoe, and M. Sato.

There is a lot of mapped data in this 1999 paper but you will find the one used by Hansen in the US climate article, and subsequently used by Goddard, as the first map on Plate 4.

This map is GISS Surface Temperature Analysis using GHCN v2.

Any one spot the difference? Yes, the maps are not even displaying the same data! What a silly boy Steve Goddard is. The first shows GHCN v2 and the second GHCN v3.

In November 2011 NASA switched from GHCN v2 to GHCN v3, since GHCN v2 was no longer updated. I expect that Goddard and his minions may now try and claim that the change to the new data set is proof that they altered the data. But it is clear Steve Goddard had no idea that this was the case, and certainly never thought to check where the discrepancy was - a real sceptic would.

So before they make any such claims of data alteration, they should note that this was a well documented change. There is a whole page at NASA, comparing the differences between version 2 and version 3.
And you will recognize the same kind of differences that Steve Goddard has only just managed to figure out, but without the innuendo of conspiracy or malpractice – it is there for anyone who is truly interested in finding the truth to see.

One important thing to notice is that the actual global trends are not affected in any way. The global mean change is listed as 0.43 degrees Celsius in both GHCN v2 and the modern GHCN v3.

Reto Ruedy, co author of the 1999 paper has described the advantages of GHCN v3 thus;
“For GHCN v3, NCDC developed a homogenization that is used to combine different station records for the same location as well as deal with discontinuities created by station moves, changes in instrumentation, the urban heat island effect etc. which eliminates many known and documented discontinuities still present in the unadjusted data and caused us to no longer use their unadjusted data.”
A grey area

Since Goddard's 'analysis' has been nothing but shoddy up to now we should not hold up much hope for any great revelation when he says;
"He (Hansen) also has created data in the southern hemisphere which didn’t previously exist. Note how the area of grey has shrunk."
Should we really expect that data has been 'created' or just that Mr. Goddard doesn't understand the difference in the data and would rather insinuate a grand conspiracy instead of actually finding out the truth of the matter? Sorry, but there are no prizes for picking such an obvious answer.

The change in grey area is a separate issue from not knowing the difference between GHCN v2 and GHCN v3. In 1999 NASA used the Reynolds and Smith ocean data which started in 1950, later they switched to the Hadley data since it went back to 1880 and covered a larger area. This explains the shrinking of the grey area. Again, this is not a secret only known by Hansen and a shadowy cabal of climate scientists. In Hansen's paper mentioned above, the one that the 1999 map came from, it clearly states in the Introduction;
"we also illustrate results for a global surface temperature index formed by combining our land analysis with sea surface temperature data of Reynolds and Smith [1994] and Smith et al. [1996]"

In Steve Goddard eyes, challenging him on any of this apparently makes you a “complete idiot” and “MentallyChallenged”. I wonder what, not knowing that you are comparing different data sets and then making ludicrous conspiracy type claims of malpractice, makes you? Other than someone misleading themselves and gullible others with shoddily researched pseudo-scientific nonsense that is.

Based on what I have found here, I strongly suspect that all of the posts Mr Goddard does about data being 'erased', 'created', inappropriately manipulated etc. are simply down to his ignorance about what data sets are used and the fact that he doesn't really care to find out because the truth might get in the way of his theories of conspiracy where he can make scientists like Dr. Hansen out to be some sort of bogey man.

I also strongly suspect that even if Goddard admits he didn't know that the maps were displaying different data, his published ignorance will go uncorrected, because we have seen that even his admitted errors are nor corrected at source.

There is some good news in all this. I noticed the problem with the scales immediately but when I went to comment, some others already had pointed out the same thing. Even one commenter who regularly posts supporting Goddard’s’ nonsense and often flames me stated “Actually the warmists are correct, the graphs show the same thing”, even if he went on to imply that the underlying data was garbage. But it is really heartening to see some others being truly sceptical about Goddard’s unqualified posts. I do not claim to have influenced this but there is hope that his readership is attracting more truly sceptical people, which can only be a good thing.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

What Hansen et al got right decades ago.

Dr James Hansen gave a recent TED talk; ‘Why I must speak out about climate change’. Hansen like many scientists is not a natural orator. He comes across as quiet, dry and even shy and nervous, hiding under a hat and referring to his notes constantly.

Having said that, his talk is worth every minute it took to watch, he gives an overview of how he went from studying planets for NASA to Earth's climate, and why he has become an environmental activist. None of that however detracts from a good overview of his work, the science, and his concerns.

Early on in his talk he mentions a research paper published in Science from 1981; ‘Climate Impact of Increasing Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide’, J. Hansen, D. Johnson, A. Lacis, S. Lebedeff, P. Lee, D. Rind, G. Russell.

He says of the paper that he and his colleagues found that; “observed warming of 0.4 C in the prior century was consistent with the greenhouse effect of increasing CO2", and they also found, “that Earth would likely warm in the 1980s, and warming would exceed the noise level of random weather by the end of the century.”

I thought I’d take a closer look at the paper because it seems almost forgotten, with most deniers concentrating on Hansen in 1988, the year of his well-known Senate testimony, which included the three scenarios that deniers try to claim were hopelessly wrong predictions. They don't seem to know or want to know the difference between a scenario and a scientific prediction.

But having looked at this 1981 paper you realise that it must have formed a core part of his work that led him to being chosen to give testimony in front of the Senate. The whole paper seems uncanny in what it suggested the climate in the next few decades and into the 21st century would look like.

The first thing to notice is that there are a lot of caveats and even some statements that some could claim are contradictory. This isn’t fudge or hedge betting but an honest summary of the uncertainties that existed in the science over thirty years ago.

The paper states some beneficial effects of increased warming; “Beneficial effects of CO2 warming will include increased length of the growing season.” But with the caveats; “It is not obvious whether the world will be more or less able to feed its population. Major modifications of regional climate patterns will require efforts to readjust land use and crop characteristics and may cause large-scale human dislocations.

All of which is either occurring or seems certain to. For example, “According to the Alaska ClimateResearch Center, Fairbanks is 2 1/2 degrees Fahrenheit warmer and 11 percent drier than it was 100 years ago. The changes have stretched the growing season from 85 days in the early 20th century to 123 days.

 And on human dislocation; “Temporary migration as an adaptive response to climate stress is already apparent in many areas. But the picture is nuanced; the ability to migrate is a function of mobility and resources (both financial and social). In other words, the people most vulnerable to climate change are not necessarily the ones most likely to migrate.

However in 1981 the net impact is still not determined and needed further study; “Improved global climate models, reconstructions of past climate, and detailed analyses are needed before one can predict whether the net long-term impact will be beneficial or detrimental.

The papers states, “It is shown that the anthropogenic carbon dioxide warming should emerge from the noise level of natural climate variability by the end of the century, and there is a high probability of warming in the 1980’s.”

The IPCC, established in 1998, confirmed in its third assessment report in 2001 that ‘There is new and stronger evidence that most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities’, and by the fourth, "warming of the climate system is unequivocal", and "most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations."

The team was also spot on about warming in the 80s and beyond. This was only a few years after the media frenzy in the 70s about a coming Ice Age and most people probably thought that was more likely even if the scientists knew better. For any climate deniers this must seem like a very lucky guess, but there is a reason why these people were picked to do research for NASA.

The paper also states; “Potential effects on climate in the 21st century include the creation of drought-prone regions in North America and central Asia as part of a shifting of climatic zones”. 

It still seems that these climatic zones are still in flux, but According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the current drought in the West of North America is the worst that has occurred in the last 500 years, with water flow levels at close to half those of the drought in the dirty thirties of the previous century, and  in Asia, the United Nations Development Programme has concerns about “The return of drought conditions to Central Asia" and "possible impact on food security” 

The paper states; “erosion of the West Antarctic ice sheet with a consequent worldwide rise in sea level,” confirmed in this paper from 2004;  

And sea level is on a rising trend;

Hansen et al, predicted the “opening of the fabled Northwest Passage.” This was a hell of a call at the time. “Floating polar sea ice responds rapidly to climate change. The 5° to 10°C warming expected at high northern latitudes for doubled CO2 should open the Northwest and Northeast passages along the borders of the American and Eurasian continents. Preliminary experiments with sea ice models suggest that all the sea ice may melt in summer, but part of it would refreeze in winter”.

To most people at the time this must have been seen as alarmist. Hansen states in his recent book 'Storms of My Grandchildren', (Which the video talk seems mostly lifted from), he believes he lost some funding in 1981 from the US Energy Department because this paper was considered too alarmist. Which flies in the face of 'skeptic' claims that scientists are being deliberately alarmist just to garner funding.

But the papers prediction is exactly what has happened, with that passage and it Eastern sister are now open at least part of the time in recent summers. At least one scheduled cruise liner (the MS Bremen in 2006) has successfully run the Northwest Passage.

Even more interesting due to recent research is the claim that “Even a partially ice-free Arctic will modify neighboring continental climates.

If the most recent research about lack of ice causing a shift to the jet stream, and making colder winters is accepted – this is another accurate prediction.

This papers also states that “Climate models predict the larger sensitivity at high latitudes and trace it to snow/ice albedo feedback and greater atmospheric stability, which magnifies the warming of near-surface layers. Since these mechanisms will operate even with the expected rapidity of CO2 warming, it can be anticipated that average high-latitude warming will be a few times greater than the global mean effect”.

This is exactly what has been detected with the Arctic warming several times faster than average. 

And it has this to say on the worlds ice sheets; 
Melting of the world’s ice sheets is another possible effect of CO2 warming. 

If they melted entirely, sea level would rise ~ 70 m. However, their natural response time is thousands of years, and it is not certain whether CO2 warming will cause the ice sheets to shrink or grow. 

For example, if the ocean warms but the air above the ice sheets remains below freezing, the effect could be increased snowfall, net ice sheet growth, and thus lowering of sea level.

This is another good call because recent research and data from the Grace Satellites do show that over all ice sheets and glaciers are melting but in a few areas, such as the internal of Antarctica and the Himalayas there is increased snowfall and ice build up. 

But what of possible lowering of sea level? The paper gets it spot on again; “If the West Antarctic ice sheet melts on such a time scale, it will temporarily overwhelm any sea level change due to growth or decay of land-based ice sheets.

Stunningly Hansen’s team states; “A 2°C global warming is exceeded in the 21st century in all the CO2 scenarios we considered, except no growth and coal phaseout.”

Over thirty years later, UN COPs discuss actions needed to try and keep temperature rise to under 2C, a temperature the paper suggests will cause 5C warming in Antarctica, but without much success so far and it seems that keeping future warming down to such a limit is becoming all but impossible and not without the end to massive coal burning.

In summary, Hansen et al;
  •  Was right about the 1980s warming, even though this was just after the media frenzy about a coming ice age.
  • Was right about erosion of ice sheets, rising sea levels and opening of the fabled Northwest Passage – a pretty good call.
  • Was right about warming at higher latitudes being greater than the global mean.
  • Was right about the increased growing season.
  • Was right about increased snow fall and net ice sheet growth – yet 'skeptics' today still use this as an argument against global warming.
  •  Was right about a partly ice free Arctic modifying neighbouring continental climates – if the most recent research about lack of ice causing a shift to the jet stream, and making colder winters is accepted – another good call.
  • Appears to be right about 2C warming being reached within a century and that temperature being the accepted limit before irreversible and detrimental effects occur.

There is nothing obviously incorrect in this paper.  All this was predicted using models that according to 'skeptics', are not supposed to work, over 30 years ago in 1981, the year IBM released it’s first PC with Microsoft MS DOS.

You have got to give this man and his team some credit for saying all this when most people thought we were still expecting an ice age. This is either good science or, if you reject AGW, they must have been very, very lucky. Personally I think I know why they were employed by NASA. 

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Goddard Statisically Proves Hansen Correct

Goddard, if I understand his comments correctly, has a theory using using school boy statistics that in his mind proves the recent record climate extremes are nothing to be concerned about, in fact they are to be expected. His theory also proves that unqualified bloggers should be ignored by rational people when it comes to thier pseudo-scientific analysis.

He blogs;

"If you have 3,000 weather stations and a 100 year long temperature record, you would expect about 30 of them to break their all-time record in the current year. The math is a bit tricky for climate scientists : 3,000 / 100 = 30."
He is right when he says;
"It is very basic statistics. If you have 100 random numbers, each number has one chance out of one hundred of being the largest."
So far so good for the school boy Math. But weather and therefore the data from weather stations isn't a simple case of random number generation. Only a portion of any result can be down to unknowns and uncertainty. The results ultimately depend on the laws of physics and chemistry; meteorological cycles, input conditions, natural forcing, changes in local environmental over both short and long times scales etc. If this was not true then weather could not be predicted even in the short term. All these factors and of course any anthropogenic forcing there may be ensures that any result is far from random.

But suppose Goddard is correct or he is just using an analogy - Totally randomly any weather station can be expected to break their long time record according to basic statistics - a roll of a many sided dice if you like. Then we would expect that as many record high temperatures as low temperatures. Goddard's 'very basic statistics' where each number has a chance of being the largest also means it has the same chance of being the smallest. Is that what we see?

The loaded Dice

So it looks like something has been biasing the random numbers in favour of warm records - I wonder what that could be? Something has been loading Goddard's climate dice - where have I heard that analogy before? Oh yes I remember, a paper by James Hansen et. al. "Climate Variability and Climate Change: The New Climate Dice", 10 November 2011;

"The "climate dice" describing the chance of an unusually warm or cool season, relative to the climatology of 1951-1980, have progressively become more "loaded" during the past 30 years, coincident with increased global warming. The most dramatic and important change of the climate dice is the appearance of a new category of extreme climate outliers. These extremes were practically absent in the period of climatology, covering much less than 1% of Earth's surface. Now summertime extremely hot outliers, more than three standard deviations (σ) warmer than climatology, typically cover about 10% of the land area."
Hansen has used the analogy before of a climate dice. From 1951 to 1980 the climate could be represented as a dice with two sides hotter than average, two cooler, and two around average. Currently Hansen's climate dice are loaded; four sides hot, and one side each for cool and average.

So as Goddard's  'very basic statistics' shows, what should be random has a warm bias, adding proof to Hansen's loaded climate dice analogy - Good Job!

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

More means Less!

There is no doubt that globally February was cooler than what is becoming the new norm, but Goddard claims that not only was it the coolest since 1993, 'most' of the other cool years were  'due to either Pinatubo or El Chichon' volcanic eruptions. It is well know that Volcanic eruptions, if large enough, can cool the planet for a year or so, so if 'most' of the other cool or colder years were due to volcanoes then this February without a volcanic forcing must be exceptionally cool - which appears to be the point Goddard is making.

As evidence for his claims he posts the graph above that has a suspiciously smooth sine type curve. Did he draw this on himself to suggest a natural fluctuation and that everything is just peachy? So far he isn't saying.

But a sceptical eye cast over the graph and Goddard's volcanic claims show that he isn't being honest with his readers. Looking at the years that are cooler or about as cool as Feb 2012, we have 1979, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1989, 1990, 1992 and 1993. That is 8 years that might be included in Goddard's 'most'.

El Chichon erupted March 1982, so we can forget about 1997. 1984 was two years after El Chichon so may have been affected a little but it is doubtful as 1983 was actually warmer than the average. We can then drop 1985, 1986, 1989, and 1990.

Pinatubo erupted April 1991 so it is fairly certain that temperatures in 1992 and even to some extent 1993 were affected.

Even being generous, is that 'most' years or less? Perhaps in Goddardland more means less.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Strong And Growing Evidence Of Stupidity And Dishonesty

Steve Goddard claims "Temperatures haven’t risen for at least 15 years". Fifteen years of temperature records would be 1996 - 2011.

 Yes I'd have to agree with Mr. Goddard on this, there is Strong And Growing Evidence Of Stupidity And Dishonesty.

Snowiest four year period on record in North America ?

On Mr Goddard's blog he presented this graph and said;“This winter, global snow cover has been far above normal.

The most notable things here is that Goddard's statement may - be true but so what?, I think it needs challenged on three accounts. First; because of his myopic views that the USA, representing a few percent at most of the entire worlds surface, can in this case be used to justify anything meaningful about global warming.

Second; the apparent cherry pick of just the winter values. The amount of snow in winter is far from the only consideration. Snow extent in the spring, which may partly determine the amount of snow melt through the year is also important. That snow will feed into rivers to be used for irrigation, drinking water etc in the coming year. A more meaningful question to ask might be; How is snow and ice holding up over all?

Third; can the amount of snow actually be used as a measure against the early stages of climate change? A warmer atmosphere holds more moisture, which will eventually lead to more precipitation. If cold enough, this will actually mean more snow. A concept climate deniers refuse to get in their quest to confuse and misinform themselves and others.

In answer to the first two points a look at the other graphs from the very site Goddard got his from reveals much.

For Autumn (Fall) and Winter, there is a mix of slight increases, decreases or essentially no change in the record. Springs shows a far more dramatic decrease across all areas. Why would Goddard only pick the graph that shows the largest increase and ignore all others?

A selection of  the graphed data can be seen on an animated gif at Skeptical Science;
snow extent
Graphic from Skeptical Science

the long-term trend in spring, summer, and annual snow cover is one of rapid decline. As a result, the planet as a whole is becoming less reflective and absorbing more sunlight, which is accelerating global warming.
For point 3, I have already suggested that one of the climate changes that global warming has predicted is heavier snow falls. This isn’t just something scientists made up on the spot to try and account for recent heavier snow falls across parts of the world. It is a long standing prediction,  using models that, if you belief the ‘skeptics’, don’t work.

A quick search on 'snow and global warming' with google Scholar finds a paper;  POLAR SNOW COVER CHANGES AND GLOBAL WARMING, from way back in 1998. From the Abstract;

“Many general circulation models suggest that current precipitation amounts in polar latitudes will increase under double CO2 scenarios. Even though temperatures in such high-latitude regions should also increase under a doubling of CO2, as long as those temperatures remain below freezing, the increased precipitation should accumulate as snow.”

But very recent research also confirm this effect. Even while the world has been calculated to be loosing 150 cubic miles of ice every year, Himalayan Glaciers were found to have lost little ice because the increased melting at the lower altitudes were mostly matched by increased snow fall at higher altitudes where it was too cold to melt.

And just this week new research suggests that Arctic sea ice loss could be weakening the Jet Stream allowing colder Arctic air lower over Europe and America actually causing colder winters, including heavier snow, even while the Arctic itself is warmer than normal.

So as much as Goddard would like to claim that increased winter snow extent is evidence against global warming and cry foul when the science suggests it is actually evidence for it, it was predicted by models around a generation ago and is being confirmed by empirical evidence today.

Snowiest four year period

If you have managed to read this far and are starting to wonder what the title has to do with all this, all will now be revealed. When I challenged Goddard about his cherry picking he replied with his usual eloquence and what might just be his standard greeting to anyone actually sceptical enough to query his claims;

The last four years was the snowiest four year period on record in North America. Cut the crap, please.
Snowiest? The obvious problem here is that this is a very specific pronouncement using a very unspecific term. I asked him “How are you defining ‘snowiest’ and what data set are you using for evidence?” Clearly from the graph he supplied he was not referring to snow extent. At least ten previous years had higher records than some in the last four. He has yet to reply.

Snow is such a transient phenomena. Would he be referring to depth? It is relatively easy to measure precipitation but the depth of snow depends largely on how wet it is. Sleet, a mixture of rain and snow, will have little depth, the fluffy stuff many times more depth than the equivalent amount of water. Perhaps he was referring to the number of days it snowed? How long the snow lasted?

So there is the problem. 'Snowiest' isn’t really a scientific term that can be used in a specific claim as Goddard has done. It doesn’t mean it can’t be used as long as it is defined. In my attempts to collaborated the ‘snowiest’ years I found that NOAA do use it to refer to depth in specified cities. However I can’t find any where all these figures are collated  in a way that would indicate the depth of snow that fell over the whole area of the USA, but judging form the years that are in the top ten for the cities I’d be very surprised if the 'snowiest' added up to be 2007 through 2011.

So claiming that the 'last four years was the snowiest four year period on record in North America’ appears to be an unsubstantiated and unsubstantiable claim from Goddard.

I invite him to clarify, otherwise perhaps it is he that should cut the crap.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Legal issues

I would say that making predictions about future events is the last thing an unqualified person like me should do but now that Heartland have got their man, in this post I'm making an exception and will use my crystal ball.

When the Heartland Institutes documents hit the Internet Heartland immediately went into a very heavy handed, legally threatening mode. They issued a statement saying that they intended to pursue all possible actionable civil remedies to the fullest extent of the law, and called on all activists, bloggers, and other journalists to immediately remove all of these documents and any quotations taken from them, from their blogs, Web sites, and publications, and to publish retractions.

In a witty and ironic parody the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund, issued an almost word for word identical statement but with the 'Climategate' emails as the subject and asked that;
 "the Heartland Institute, all activists, bloggers, and other journalists to immediately remove all of these documents and any quotations taken from them, from their blogs, Web sites, and publications, and to publish retractions". 
Though it is sobering to think that climate researchers could require the services of a defence fund.

But now Heartland have a target to aim all the legal backed ire at in the form of whistle blower Peter Gleick. I have already seen many posts on blogs from 'Skeptics' calling for the man to be sued. So here is my prediction for the future;
I predict that legally the Heartland Institute will do nothing that could end up with Peter Gleick in a public courtroom. They wont dare.
I feel a psychic certainty that this will be the case. But it is a prediction that I hope I am really, really wrong about. Any defence that Gleick makes will rely heavily on motive and that in turn will bring more public scrutiny upon the documents and who their Mr Anonymous might be. The documents themselves have already revealed that they have set aside;
"An estimated $36,000 to pay lawyers for litigation over whether Heartland can be forced to handover records of conversations with a donor of some five years ago."
A public court case could be very damaging for Heartland if public sympathy turned to favour a scientist who felt the need to go to such extremes in his fight with Heartland. Heartland's other donors, now publicly unmasked within these documents, will not like further media attention on their actions and motives.
As example of similar previous situations, James Hansen has now been arrested three times in protests but has yet to see the inside of a courtroom. On the matter of his first arrest in 2009, the 71 year old has stated in his book, Storms of my Grandchildren, in a published interview with Bill McKibben;
"Still no trial date has been set. According to the law, I could get as much as one year in prison. I am beginning to think that the authorities do not want a trial."
In the Tim DeChristopher trail the activist was found guilty of fraud after bidding on oil-and-gas drilling leases, and winning to keep them out of the hands of Oil and Gas companies. Before the arrest he was hardly known. But when on trail hundreds of activists marched to the federal courthouse in his support, including film stars and other celebrities.

This is the sort of media attention that I can predict with certainty that Heartland will want to avoid, and a possibility they might get by pursuing Gleick.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Biography of a Liar?

The release of funding information for the Heartland Institute has revealed some interesting things about scientists who oppose the scientific consensus on Anthropogenic Change.

One Such scientist is Robert (Bob) M. Carter a research professor at James Cook University, Queensland, Australia. He is a geologist more than a climate scientist who has as published newspaper articles which conflict with the mainstream scientific opinion on climate change.

But currently on the web he specifically states;
"He receives no research funding from special interest organisations such as environmental groups, energy companies or government departments."

He may want to edit this information because the Heartland documents reveal that he will receive $1,667 per month for his work on the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) an opposing document to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports.

It is worth remembering that the thousands of scientists and other experts contribute to the IPCC reports by writing and reviewing reports do so on a voluntary basis, without payment from the IPCC.

So the question is this man a liar or has he found a coping strategy to allow him so believe that he receives no funding from special interest organisations, while receiving over $20,000 a year from the Heartland Institute whose mission is to "discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems"? Perhaps the 'research' clause will be enough while he just pockets the money?

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Cold reduces snowfall

Yep, that's right in the world according to Goddard.

In one of the  dumbest things I have seen on his site - it its had plenty of competition. Commenting about current snow fall in the US  he states with authority that "the cold areas have also had record snowfall. Climate experts tell us that cold reduces snowfall, because there is less water vapour in the air."

I suppose that the concept of warmer wetter air cooling and the moisture falling out as snow is beyond his comprehension.

I await the flaming comments over there about how stupid and uneducated I am.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012


Breaking news in the climate denial front. The 'Think Tank', The Heartland Institute who has always been very secretive about both it's funding and who it in turns funds has had an Insider release the Heartland Institutes budget, and fund-raising plan. Already some quite interesting revelations are coming to light across this interweb thingy;

Links to the released documents are available there "so that others can also scrutinize the documents and bring their expertise to the task".

Should be interesting and may be a blow for the Denial Machine.


Reviews of the documents in this leak are coming in thick and fast and some from very credible sources like Scientific American:


Aggressive Militant Secularism

What exactly is going on when we first we had the head of the Roman Catholic church in Scotland, Cardinal Keith O'Brien, criticising what he calls 'aggressive secularism' in Britain and this has now been followed this week by the Muslim peer Baroness Warsi warning that Britain is under threat from a rising tide of "militant secularisation".

What exactly is 'aggressive secularism'? When was the last time aggressive secularists picketed funeral processions or protested at theatres?

What exactly is "militant secularisation"? When was the last time militant secularists attacked people or where last did you see a secularist suicide bomber.

I'm sure if we look hard enough or wait long enough there could be some examples of outright carnage that could be levelled at the non religious but all this who-ha seems to be aimed at making 'Secularism' a dirty word. Have they forgot that secularism is not only about freedom from religion but freedom of religion?

All this has came about when "Mr Justice Ouseley ruled the prayers were not lawful under section 111 of the Local Government Act 1972. However, he said prayers could be said as long as councillors were not formally summoned to attend". This has been blown out of proportion by the media in to some sort of attack on Christianity. Lets consider that ruling. Prayers can be said but it means that non-Christian councillors do not have to endure a religious rite that they have no belief in, how intolerant, aggressive or militant is that?

All this been compounded when a Christian couple lost their case to discriminate against unmarried couples, well they said they did not believe unmarried couples should share a room, and it may have been just a coincidence but the particular unmarried couple were Gay.

The right wing press like the Daily Fail have been true to form but it was heartening to see that many of the comments favoured the judgement. But one of the more telling comments stated;
I am absolutely appalled at this decision. First and foremost it is the couple's home and it is up to them who they invite to stay in their home. They are Christian and it is against their belief for a gay couple to share a bed. Another nail in the coffin of Crhistianity.
I wonder what Liz M, London would suggest to stop this unfortunate thing from occurring again? Perhaps a clear sign in the window and in all advertising; 

But why limit this to just sexual preference, why not;
Or using Titus 1:10 - 12 as a good Christian example, why not;

So here we have two legal rulings that actually promote tolerance and diversity but Christianity has a history where being a martyr is almost a necessity. How can anyone really think that allowing people to discriminate and marginalise people who do not have their same beliefs is ever going to be good for society?