Really Sciency

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

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Arctic Sea Ice Extent Highest Since At Least 2006

Well it was the day this appeared on Goddard's Blog;

Then just a few days later it isn't even as high as 2009;

So who's cherry pick is the best? Well 2006 is not significant, nor is 2009. There is too much natural noise.

One of the best ways to judge the state of the Arctic Ice Extent is to look at longer trends, they tell the real story;

Friday, 27 January 2012

Five whole days!

Five whole days! I'm not even going to check if he is correct or not.

Imaginary Friends

I'm sure Mr George won't mind me mirroring his excellent piece on Met Office rivals, Positive Weather Solutions, the company of choice when it comes to weather forecasts in the more 'skeptical' newspapers such as my favourite Daily Fail.

The weather forecasters used by the Daily Mail and other papers don’t appear to exist.

By George Monbiot, published on the Guardian’s website, 26th January 2012
Earlier this month, I questioned the credentials of the alternative weather forecasters being used by the Daily Mail, the Express, the Telegraph and the Sun. I suggested that their qualifications were inadequate, their methods inscrutable and their results unreliable. I highlighted the work of two of these companies: Exacta Weather and Positive Weather Solutions (PWS).

Now the story has become more interesting: do the people from Positive Weather Solutions, making its forecasts and quoted in news articles, exist? 

A sharp-eyed reader has sent me a screenshot he took from the PWS website at the end of last year. As you can see, it shows eight people whom the company lists as its forecasters and experts. (Well, seven and a cup of tea, currently standing in for its chief assistant forecaster). Some of these pictures are of striking young women with, er, prominent credentials. They have, the website claims, been producing PWS’s forecasts and writing its blog posts. They have also been quoted in the Daily Mail. 

Screen Shot from PWS website
So who are they? A picture search suggests an impressive range of talents. Take “Serena Skye”, for example, listed by PWS as a “contributing weather forecaster”. She also turns out to be a mail order bride, a hot Russian date and a hot Ukrainean date. How she finds time for it all we can only guess.
“Emma Pearson”, as well as working as PWS’s assistant weather forecaster, also features on 49,800 hairdressing sites, modelling the emo hairstyle. (Emo, m’lud, is said to be a form of music, popular with certain members of the younger generation). 

“Kelly Smart” has a remarkably busy life: as an egg donor, a hot date, a sublet property broker in Sweden, a lawyer, an expert on snoring, eyebrow threading, safe sex, green cleaning products, spanking and air purification. Perhaps more pertinently, she’s also a model whose picture is available via a company called istockphoto.

“Charlotte Haines”, another assistant weather forecaster, has achieved rather less in life. She is listed only as a “pretty blonde woman”. But she does have a qualification that might have appealed to Positive Weather Solutions: her photo is labelled “royalty free”. 

As well as their pictures, I have looked up the names of these people, alongside search terms such as “weather” and “forecasting”. Beyond the material generated by Positive Weather Solutions, I have so far found no further evidence of their existence. Yet PWS uses them to make its forecasts and write its blog posts. Charlotte Haines PBW, RF* writes a blog for the company called Charlotte’s Web. In it she predicts the weather, talks about her children and discusses her golfing skills. At the bottom of these posts is this disclaimer: “the opinions expressed by Charlotte Haines are not necessarily those of Positive Weather Solutions.” So whose are they? 

(*Pretty Blonde Woman, Royalty Free) 

Emma Pearson EMO also writes forecasts, using a similar style. Intriguingly, in August last year she claimed that she would be appearing at the Eisteddfod in Wrexham. “Come and say hello! Look for the young lady, that’s me, with a Positive Weather Solutions white t-shirt on!” But look for whom, exactly? The girl with the emo haircut? 

Both Charlotte and Emma have been quoted in the Daily Mail and their forecasts have formed the basis of some prominent stories. In April last year, for example, their claims were all that justified an article titled “It’s sunshine all the way as forecasters predict 21c by Grand National weekend”. Citing both women as sources at different points in the report appeared to lend it weight. But are either of them real?

The Mail also used Emma Pearson to predict “a 20 per cent chance of rain for Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding at the end of the month.”

I phoned Jonathan Powell, who runs PWS, and asked him who these people are. He told me that a lot of contributors had been assisting his service. The photos
“were put up there just for holding or were avatars of people who were contributing. Or people who wanted to contribute. They came and went.” 

He said he removed them from the site in mid-December.
“There was no intention of being misleading. We’re sorry if that was the case. But we’re trying to clean our act up.”

“But using other people’s pictures is a deception isn’t it?”, I asked.
“OK, you’ve got me on that.”

“Does Charlotte Haines exist?”

“Charlotte did.” 

“Can I have her contact number?”

“I can fish that out for you no trouble at all. I’ll have to go back to the office to get it.”
“Could I have the other people’s numbers too?” 

“OK I’ll get you all the details. No problem.” 

Two hours later he sent me an email. 

“Quite frankly, the filing system I have is a mess and I cannot put my hands of the information you require. … Your column which was understandably critical of us at Christmas made me face a few things about the company and where it was going, and now as I can’t find anything to back anyone up then quite frankly PWS is now more trouble than its worth and in debt. Therefore, I have taken the decision after 6 years to close the business forthwith.”

I wrote back: 

“Thanks for letting me know. You never did use people with those names though, did you? And I’m guessing you wrote Charlotte’s blog and Emma’s forecasts yourself?”
I have not yet heard back from him. 

Twenty minutes after Jonathan Powell sent me his email, the following statement appeared on its website: 

“It is with regret that because of illness and the current economic climate, PWS has ceased trading.”
Will this make the Daily Mail, the Daily Express and other papers less inclined to use poorly qualified forecasters in the future? If I were Charlotte Haines or Emma Pearson, I might be able to make a firm prediction. But the most I can say is that I doubt it.

And it appears to be true. The PWS site now has a short note on it's home page stating;

Statement - 2.26 p.m. - Wednesday January 22nd 2012
It is with regret that because of illness and the current economic climate, PWS has ceased trading.
All outstanding winter contracts will be fulfilled with refunds given to our Wedding Bells clients.
Thank you.
Kind Regards,
PWS Team
Who are the 'Wedding Bells clients? In the light of the obvious dodgy nature and it's confessed mess of an organisation it is Shockingly a weather prediction service for the couples 'Big Day';

Upon telling us when you're planning to wed, we will provide you with a specially tailored, personal forecast, up to and of course including, the big day itself. 
Months in advance, our long range forecast will give you an idea of the pattern of weather expected around during the month of your wedding.
I can't quite find their Horoscope service for the happy couple but surely it must be on their somewhere?

PWS has quite a history of climate denial. In a statement on the UN Climate Change Conference, Copenhagen in 2009 it said;
Positive Weather Solutions has never believed that climate change in its current presented state, actually exists.
By 'current presented state', we mean, how the actuality of climate change has been presented to the world.  It has been sold by means of scare mongering, evoking an almost panic like state amongst ordinary people, who have not been allowed to reach their own conclusions when presented with the facts.  However, there lies the problem, what facts?
The 'facts' simply don't add up, and are riddled with mere speculative conjecture.  They are also open to interpretation, which in simple terms, makes for a jumbled mass of statistics, with the hurried conclusion, that if we don't act now, our planet is doomed to succumb to the miseries of a runaway climate.
 Well I can't say I will miss seeing any more of that nonsense in the future.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Doctored Goddard

I have shown how poorly qualified Steven Goddard is to analyse climate related data but I’d like to give him the honorific of Doctored Goddard, because doctoring the data to suit his bias is what he does. Unfortunately he isn’t very good at it and much of it becomes embarrassingly obvious with just a little sceptical research. Maybe he should be Struck Off?

I have already briefly covered one of his claims and his doctored evidence in another post but it is worth a post of it’s own to examine these claims and evidence in more detail.

One of the items he listed in his 2011 Global Warming Report Card stated;
USHCN raw thermometer data shows that the US has been cooling since 1895
And he gives a link to a paper and a figure No; “The United States Historical Climatology Network Monthly Temperature Data. Version 2” by Matthew J. Menne, Claude N. Williams Jr., and Russell S. Vose
Fig. 13. Geographic distribution of linear trends in HCN version 2 temperatures for the period 1895–2007.  (b) unadjusted maximum temperatures

 What appeared on his blog is the figure on the left. Figure 13 (b) from the actual report in on the right.

The United States Historical Climatology Network (USHCN) is used to monitor and report on surface air temperature trends in the United States. The paper acknowledges climate skeptic “Anthony Watts for his considerable efforts in documenting the current site characteristics of U.S. HCN stations”. The paper itself considered the possibility of data from these stations being biased due to changes in the stations and their environments over the years. This is an important consideration as many of these stations have had updates to measuring systems and surrounding land use changes over the years that may have affected readings. (This is a different problem from the Urban Heat Island, the phenomenon where a metropolitan area in general is warmer than surrounding rural areas). After all the original intention for these measuring stations was for local weather recording and not as part of a global climate measuring system.

Mr. Watts got involved with his project by collecting pictures highlighting poorly sited stations and listing the ones in his opinion he considered good quality.

Being a denier, Watts, without any supporting evidence, assumed that any change must have given a warming bias, which he used to assert that warming wasn’t happening at the scale indicated. This ignored that other countries data and satellites showed a similar amount of warming. Watts also over looked efforts made to compensate for changes and that temperature trends were more relevant than absolute values from each station.

The paper linked by Goddard addressed all these concerns and concluded that overall there was a slight cooling bias, not a warming one, and that corrections made to the data did improve accuracy.

Now things get interesting

If we assume that Goddard isn’t intentionally trying to mislead, genuinely thinks that the US has cooled and his chart as evidence is valid, one must wonder why he chose research that is about possible bias of recording stations, NOT about temperature trends in the US. This research makes no statement about the US cooling since 1895 but indicates the opposite. I can only think of one possible series of events that led him to his erroneous conclusion.

First he incorrectly assumed that because the paper considered claims made by Watts and acknowledged him, it must be a paper sceptical of anthropogenic climate change.

But why did Goddard think that the paper even suggested the US had cooled? Clearly he totally misunderstood it. I suspect that he noticed reference to a cooling bias and though his ignorance thought this mean cooling.

He must have then reasoned he now had a paper that contradicted anthropogenic warming and showed that the US had cooled and ought to have a graph, chart, table, figure or something within it that clearly showed this. The one with the bluest, for cooling, was Fig. 13. (b).

Clearly that figure doesn’t look very impressive, there is a lot of red on it as well, so to emphasise his false conclusion he took the equivalent of a colouring pencil and shaded everything that wasn’t red bright blue! But one of the problems of cherry picking such a chart is that Figure 13 (b) only indicates Maximum temperature trends NOT average temperatures, so it is totally inappropriate to use it as evidence of overall temperature change. The actual paper states;
"Geographically, maximum temperature (Fig. 13a) has increased in most areas except in parts of the east central and southern regions. Minimum temperature (Fig. 13c) exhibits the same pattern of change, though the pockets of decreasing temperature are displaced slightly to the south and west relative to maximum temperature."

His error has been pointed out to him in the comments of the blog and he has been asked several times, now that he is aware of the misleading chart, why has he not removed it or at the very least replaced it with the chart he claims it to be? It could be that he is just too embarrassed to change anything and be seen to have made such an obvious childish and misleading error. However I’d have thought that to leave it up for all to see is far more of an embarrassment.

Perhaps I’m wrong, that is not the reason why Goddard made his cooling claim and felt justified in doctoring a graph, unrelated to temperature trends, to prove it. He knows of the Really Sciency blog and I would encourage him to explain it. Perhaps he isn’t as misinformed and so narrow minded and hell bent on fooling himself that he would leap to misrepresenting this research as I have made out. There may be another explanation but the only one I can think off is that he was aware of exactly what he was doing and deliberately doctored evidence to mislead those that follow his blog, and judging from most comments it worked as they seem as committed to denial as he. Not one ‘skeptical’ voice has been mature enough to comment that perhaps showing the chart as it appears in the research and without alterations is the very least to expect when presenting supporting evidence. One calling themselves 'suyts' even called  the  doctoring ‘some pale shading ’! I wonder what any climate change ‘skeptic’ would think if that ‘some pale shading’ looked like this;

Imagine the uproar if this was done by a climatologist, Mann or Hansen perhaps, claiming that the US has warmed since 1885, which in fact is true.

It now looks to me more like Goddard has deliberately, and with full knowledge tried to mislead. When faced with being asked why he hasn’t changed the chart he now claims that the data is ‘straight off the GISS web site’ which, since he originally linked to a paper and quoted a figure number is clearly a lie.

If there are any real sceptics over at Goddard's site then this blatant misrepresentation shown here, whether through ignorance or not, would be enough to doubt even his most basic claims and send them elsewhere for real science. I wouldn't like to say what that means for those that stay and lap these lies up.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

2012 Global Warming Report Card

Note: There are updates to this post at Really Sciency.

Mr Goddard has posted a ‘Global Warming report Card’ that lists no less than 19 metrics he believes contradict anthropogenic climate change. A massive Gish gallop in true denier style which Monckton would be proud off and which asserts that there is nothing wrong and that ‘Hansen, Mann and the rest of the hockey team are not being honest with us.  Which when read one must assume that Mr Goddard himself is honest and completely trustworthy.

This is followed by a list of cherry picked charts and graphs as ‘evidence’. Who knew the annual mean temperature trend in Nuuk, Greenland actually decreased by about 0.1C from 1940? This has happened even while the whole Arctic region has undergone an overall warming trend twice the global average. Something our Mr Goddard must have been aware of to be able to cherry pick a place that bucked that trend.

So what of this Gish gallop of 19 metrics? As well as cherry picking, some of them are just silly; Where has the science ever suggested a metric for measuring Climate Change would be the number of hurricane strikes that hit the US and only the US? And even one of Goddard's charts appears to be doctored.

Metric 1: Temperatures are below Hansen’s zero emissions after 2000 Scenario C

Actually Mr Goddard is quite correct. Scenario C from Hansen’s 24 year old research does diverge from observed data. But the problem with Goddard is that he thinks that this was a prediction from Hansen not just one possible scenario. He appears not to know the difference.

Several scenarios were chosen to demonstrate possible futures depending on various levels of green house gasses. But it was not a prediction. No one, least of all Hansen, could know exactly what emissions would be in the coming decades as these depended very much on future global energy needs and industrial development, manufacturing, economics and even volcanic activity.

We now know that Hansen slightly overestimated how much the atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases would increase, particularly methane and CFCs, and he chose high climate sensitivity for a doubling of atmospheric CO2, something that had a greater uncertainty over two decades ago.The only way to gauge Hansen’s work is to use actual data we now know in his calculations. This has been done and there is a good overview of it at Skeptical Science where they found that;
If we take into account the slightly lower atmospheric greenhouse gas increases and compare the observed versus projected global temperature warming rates, we find that in order to accurately predict the global warming of the past 22 years, Hansen's climate model would have needed a climate sensitivity of about 3.4°C for a doubling of atmospheric CO2.  This is within the likely range of climate sensitivity values listed as 2-4.5°C by the IPCC for a doubling of CO2, and even a bit higher than the most likely value currently widely accepted as 3°C.
In short, the main reason Hansen's 1988 warming projections were too high is that he used a climate model with a high climate sensitivity, and his results are actually evidence that the true climate sensitivity parameter is within the range accepted by the IPCC.”
But the most important thing for me was that Hansen predicted that increasing GHGs would cause warming in the future. If he and his science had been as wrong a couple of decades ago as Goddard and other science deniers would like us to believe then was this was just a lucky guess?

Metric 2: Global temperatures are declining this century

This is clearly illogical nonsense. The first decade of this century was the warmest recorded. How by any sense of logic could the warmest portion on the record indicate declining temperatures other than by ignoring trends and cherry picking a start point? And that is just what Goddard does.

Cherry picked graph of this century but starting in 2001!

His supporting graph does show slight cooling of about 0.05C but starts in 2001 NOT 2000 when most people would agree this century actually started. Plot it from 2000 and the results show a slight increase in temperature, but it is essentially flat over such a short time scale. What it definitely does NOT show is ‘Global temperatures are declining this century’.

Temperatures this century

Metric 3: Sea level has been declining for several years, and is lower now than it was in 2003

Any real sceptic would have alarm bells ringing at this statement. Why 2003? Is there anything significant about 2003 with regards to sea levels other than that is only as far as Goddard can go back to make such a claim? Apparently not.

But even using Goddard’s own graph it is clear that he isn’t being very honest because sea level in every year since 2003 has been higher than 2003 so where is his claimed 'decline'? The seasonal value he claims is lower in 2011 hasn’t even peaked yet! This is the same as saying 2003 was brighter than 2011 by picking a summer month in 2003 and winter in 2011.

 I suspect that is why he choose Unadjusted data – so seasonal signals were still present – that was the only way he could fudge it to make such a claim. The true state of sea level rise can be found at the CU Sea Level Research Group University of Colorado where it can be summarised on this graph;

Metric 4: Arctic ice extent and area is the highest for the date since 2005

I’m not sure this is actually sensible English but again why pick 2005? Does Goddard really expect any truly sceptical person to accept that significance in scientific terms can be determined over just a few years? But his own submitted graphs don’t even show 2005!

However his own graphs do give away his nonsense yet again, sea ice extent and area for 2011 was below all the years 2007 – 2010 at some time or other during the year, so a similar but opposite claim could be made by cherry picking a particular month. Of course, unlike Goddard, I’m not silly or desperate enough to even suggest that is a valid thing to do as Goddard has done here.

Metric 5: Temperatures in western Greenland last year were the coldest since 1996

This is back to Nuuk Greenland again. As mentioned at the start of this post, the whole Arctic region has undergone an overall warming trend twice the global average, so kudos to Mr Goddard for cherry picking somewhere that apparently goes against the global trend. I’m sure there are other areas but it is GLOBAL Warming that he claims to be reporting on, so why isn’t he? 

 Metric 6: Temperatures in Antarctica have been declining for 30 years

The graph Mr Goddard presents to support this is essentially flat lined but does have a very slight decline that he will want people to believe has the greatest significance because it supports his bias. His actual statement is a half truth. There has been cooling over eastern Antarctica and the Antarctic plateau but warming over the Antarctic Peninsula and Patagonia. The reasons for this are quite well understood and are covered in research by Thompson and Solomon; Interpretation of Recent Southern Hemisphere Climate Change; and is due to;
the lower stratospheric polar vortex, which are due largely to photochemical ozone losses. During the summer-fall season, the trend toward stronger circumpolar flow has contributed substantially to the observed warming over the Antarctic Peninsula and Patagonia and to the cooling over eastern Antarctica and the Antarctic plateau’.

Metric 7: Antarctic ice has been increasing for 30 years

Again, Mr Goddard gives us a half truth and fails to provide the context or mention the difference between land and sea ice. Antarctica sea ice IS increasing. The most accepted explanations for this gain are summarised on Skeptical Science and are that Ozone levels over Antarctica have dropped causing stratospheric cooling and increasing winds which lead to more areas of open water that can be frozen (Gillet 2003, Thompson 2002, Turner 2009),  and the Southern Ocean is receiving increased rain, glacial run-off and snowfall, exactly what is expected in a warming world. This changes the composition of the different layers in the ocean there causing less mixing between warm and cold layers and thus less melted sea ice (Zhang 2007).

But Antarctic Land Ice is decreasing and over all ice mass is falling. Not only is Antarctica losing land ice, the ice loss is and every year, the rate of ice loss is increasing by 26 Gigatonnes per year. (Chen 2009)
So no Mr Goddard, Antarctica as a continent has not been increasing in ice mass for 30 years, it is losing it at an accelerating rate.

Metric 8: Winter snow extent is increasing, and has been near record highs in recent years

According Mr Goddard’s graph the trend line does show a slight increase after last years snow. But why cherry pick the winter? Why not the summer? More importantly, why not over all? Well probably because overall it is decreasing not increasing. These graphs are available from Goddard’s same source, Rutgers University Climate lab, and are shown for each season and more importantly overall, below;
snow extent
Graphic from Skeptical Science

Metric 9: Temperatures in Texas show no increase since 1895

If Mr Goddard is talking about Global Warming then why cherry pick Texas? No scientist claimed all areas would show an increase in temperature. Choosing any of the very many places that do show an increase in temperature could be just a valid according to Goddard’s logic, and since globally temperatures have and are increasing there are a lot more of those to choose from. But when I say just as valid, there is no validity in choosing the only locations that confirm what you feverously believe.

Metric 10: Drought in Australia is at historic lows

Here Goddard shows a map of the drought status to make his claim. But showing that current drought conditions are low and after one of the countries wettest years (remember the flooding?) says absolutely nothing about ongoing trends.

The latest statement from the Australian government issued on 5th Jan 2012 says;
“Rainfall in recent months in southwestern Australia has provided some relief to long-term rainfall deficiencies in the area. Whilst there has not been enough rainfall to totally clear long-term deficiencies as reported in the September Drought Statement, rainfall that has been received means that there are currently no short-term deficiencies.”

Metric 11: Drought in the US is well below the mean

Again Goddard cherry picks an image of drought in the US from December last year.

Why not choose a summer month? Why not the whole year?;

Map courtesy of NOAA
 And again this shows nothing of trends. But this also suggests that Goddard expects there should be droughts across the whole United States.
So the whole country isn’t expected to be in drought just the southern, western areas. Guess where the drought is in the chart supplied by Goddard?
The United States Global Research Program also goes on to say;
Those are the trends that Goddard’s Report Card avoid looking at.

Metric 12: Severe tornadoes are on the decline in the US

Again why cherry pick severe tornadoes? Could it be that overall tornadoes are actually increasing?

But even so, the science is still uncertain as to how global warming will affect tornadoes. The IPCC state;
“Since 1920, the number of tornadoes reported annually in the United States has increased by an order of magnitude, but this increase reflects greater effectiveness in collecting tornado reports”
So it is hardly credible for Goddard to use the number of tornadoes as a metric against climate change when there is no scientific consensus on how tornadoes will respond.

Metric 13: US hurricane strikes are on the decline

This as a metric is almost funny except that Mr Goddard really does seem to think that only extreme weather events affecting the US count toward analysis when it comes to global warming. Its a waste of time actually linking to the fact that Hurricanes have increased in number even if that could be down to better reporting. As with tornadoes, there still is no scientific consensus on how Hurricanes will be affected by global warming. The best science suggests that there will not be an increase in hurricane numbers but there could be an increase in stronger ones.  

What the science definitely does not say is that more Hurricanes will strike the United States of America.

This brings me to Goddard next metric.

Metric 14: Intense hurricanes are on the decline

Goddard gives an odd graph apparently plotting some Hurricanes against CO2 levels. Clearly he thinks this is scientifically significant but a real sceptic wouldn’t be so easily convinced because his claim is incorrect by any credible measure I can find. As the link above says, “Several peer-reviewed studies show a clear global trend toward increased intensity of the strongest hurricanes over the past two or three decades”.

Metric 15: Polar Bear​ populations have tripled

On no they haven’t! And some  recent research that Goddard is well aware of says different;
Reviewing the latest information available the PBSG concluded that 1 of 19 subpopulations is currently increasing, 3 are stable and 8 are declining.  For the remaining 7 subpopulations available data were insufficient to provide an assessment of current trend.”
A breakdown of Polar Bear populations and their status can be found here.

Interestingly, Goddard gives no charts or links as evidence for this claim, but what this research is clear about is that there is no evidence that Polar Bear populations have tripled – or are even increasing.

Metric 16: Yellowstone Grizzly Bear populations have tripled

I can’t remember seeing anywhere on the news that climate change scientists claimed Grizzly Bear populations would decline (or stay stable) by now, and this would be proof of man made climate change. Although Goddard gives no reference for his claim,  bear numbers have increased over the last 20years or so to over 500, hardly the largest gene pool, and this has been due to management based on intensive monitoring of the population. Call me a silly sceptic but I’d like to know why Goddard thinks this disproves climate change.

Googling does reveal that there are concerns for the future Grizzlies and their ongoing habitat changes;
Grizzlies gorge on highly nutritious seeds in the cones of whitebark pines. Studies show the nutlike edibles are important in producing healthier, fatter bears and larger numbers of cubs. In addition, because whitebark grow on remote mountain ridgelines, their location draws foraging bears away from places where people live.
However, within the past decade, an outbreak of mountain pine beetles and a disease called blister rust have decimated the whitebark pine forest. Aerial surveys indicate that more than 80 percent of whitebark trees are now dead or dying.
Experts blame warmer temperatures with hastening the spread of beetles that otherwise would be beaten back by cold winters. They say the die-off is unprecedented, prompting an effort to have whitebark itself put on the federal protected list.”

But no where does anything suggest the damage to whitebark trees would have reversed the effects of the intensive management of these bears in Yellowstone park by this year.

Metric 17: USHCN raw thermometer data shows that the US has been cooling since 1895

This is clearly a very specific and obviously cherry picked claim. Strangely the US chart Goddard gives is strikingly different from the one in the link he claims it comes from.

Spot the difference!  - The left chart appears on Real Science to prove the US has been cooling. The Right chart is the actual one it claims to be!
Here it looks like Goddard has shamelessly and dishonestly doctored it (or got it from someone else without checking) by colouring every thing not showing a temperature increase bright blue.
Nowhere in the text of the link supplied can I find any evidence to support Goddard’s claim that ‘the US has been cooling since 1895’.

Metric 18: The ten deadliest floods in history all occurred with CO2 below 350 ppm

This is another silly metric, and a claim not supported with any evidence. Goddard may be correct but no one with any scientific understanding would try to directly correlate the two values unless they were deliberately trying to insinuate something that isn’t credibly supported by the data. A real sceptic would need to understand how flood defence management and modern prediction and warning systems could be factored in. The simple fact is that rising sea levels and increased moisture in the atmosphere must increase the risk of flooding regardless of how deadly historical floods have been.
Just silly!

Metric 19: The deadliest US hurricane, the most powerful US hurricane, and the deadliest US tornado all occurred with CO2 below 350 ppm

The silliness is repeated again with this ‘metric along with the idea that only the United States matters. Have modern prediction, detection and warning saved no lives?

Report Card on Steven Goddard
Steven Goddard’s Global Warming Report gets a ‘C’ for effort. It would have been higher if his cherry picking and silly metrics hadn’t been so obviously trying to mislead. By choosing his own measures, that no one in the scientific community uses to track climate change, shows either a personal ignorance of science or an attempt to mislead his readership. Unfortunately by the looks of his comments most of his readership are gullible enough not to be sceptical when it sound like something they want to hear. Overall he has to get an ‘F’ for  EPIC FAIL.
Note: I make no claims to have any great scientific understanding; I just accept the scientific evidence and consensus. So I would encourage anyone to improve this post by commenting with possible edits to correct, clarify or use better sources than I have, particularly If I have not been fair with Steven Goddard’s post. Consider this an open document which I will correct or improve if required.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

A Creation Event

At the "State of the Universe"  meeting last week to honour Stephen Hawking's 70th birthday cosmologist Alexander Vilenkin of Tufts University in Boston showed that while the Big Bang started everything, his calculations suggest we still need a cosmic beginning.

This will be great news for creationist types who will now be using this as scientific proof of their particular god(s) or creator(s) and who up to this point have been denying any science, theory or hypothesis that said otherwise. But not anymore because they have found something that they can spin into what they want to hear.

If Vilenkin is correct shouldn’t I and others without religious beliefs be worried? 

Scientists like Hawking probably shy away from the idea of a genesis as this could be a place where science loses its ability to explain and religion or philosophy may become appealing to some but this idea is fine by me. I may be OK with the idea of things simply starting with a Big Bang and that the universe most likely burst forth from an extremely dense, hot state about 13.7 billion years ago, but accepting there could be a cause is also OK. 

This hypothesis is still a long way from a scientific consensus and even further away from agreement that the cause is an agent with intelligence and purpose. I quite like the idea that it might be but even that wouldn’t put me in fear of my mortal soul as there would still no evidence that this intelligence is a god whose whole purpose in creating a vast universe is to be concerned about a life form that evolved on a probably common planet type orbiting around a typical sun in and unremarkable backwater of one of 100 to 200 billion galaxies in the Universe.  

If it did wouldn’t that be something? But that is still light-years away from that intelligence being one or more of the many gods in humanities history who in most religious belief systems has an unhealthy fascination in our sexual reproduction!

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Lighting Farts

I apologise for the title but it is unfortunately typical of the standards used by Steven Goddard, which is all about Real Science - apparently.

This is what you get when there is some good news on climate change for once. It all comes from a piece that appeared on Real Climate called 'Much ado about methane'. This was mirrored in NYT's Dot Earth and also appears in a condensed form on Scientific American.

The good news is that it looks as if a catastrophic release of methane from the thawing Arctic is unlikely and that methane, though it is a more potent GHG than CO2 by some 72 times, will not be such a major player in future climate change.

The problem on Goddard's blog is that he claims he has been saying this for years, (and perhaps he has), by linking to one of his posts just 6 months ago, in the again imaginatively titled 'Methane Is BS'.

But what I don’t quite understand is why ‘skeptics’ accept this idea so readily when it is extensively based on modelling, yet reject the output from so much modelling as to have just proclaimed, ‘climate models have demonstrated no skill, and are nothing more than research projects’.

It wouldn’t simply be that this model tells them what they think they want to hear would it?

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Who Is Steven Goddard?

As my Really Sciency blog is a parody of Steven Goddard's pseudo-science blog 'Real Science' it seems that an investigation into the man was in order.

So what are his qualifications to post on climate issues? Who has/does he work for? How credible should he be taken?

According to a question asked in one of his ownpostings Mr Goddard says;
“I have a Bachelor of Science in Geology and a Masters In Electrical Engineering”
So academically he is about as qualified as myself and about as qualified as my cat to post his own analysis’s climate change. Also from various comments and posts it seems that he likes soccer and follows the English Premiership and enjoys cycling.

If you do a search for "Steven Goddard" on Google, it doesn't really show up much and this man seems very elusive, almost invisible. There are no photographs and no biography to the point that ‘Steven Goddard’ may even be a pseudonym. The cynic in me might suggest the name picked as a method of generating search hits on “Goddard” + “climate”.

He has had some articles published in The Register a British technology news and opinion website. Searching his name at The Reg gives links to just 5 opinion pieces all from about four years ago.
One of his pieces posted on Friday 15th August 2008 called ‘ “Arctic ice refuses to melt as ordered: There’s something rotten north of Denmark” he attacked the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

But after being contacted by Dr. Walt Meier at NSIDC he was forced to issue a retraction;

Steven Goddard writes: “Dr. Walt Meier at NSIDC has convinced me this week that their ice extent numbers are solid…. It is clear that the NSIDC graph is correct, and that 2008 Arctic ice is barely 10% above last year – just as NSIDC had stated.”

Unfortunately, this original error raced around the world on the the blogosphere and in many cases remains uncorrected. More information on this retraction can be found here.

Mr Goddard has previously popped up with numerous and inventive “sea ice updates” at Anthony Watts’ WTFUWT blog. This should be a clear warning to any WATTS followers as to the awful standard permissible for posting there, and some embarrassing back tracking has also happened as this post shows; “Arctic Ice Graphing LessonIncreasing Bt 50,000 km2 per year”.

Goddard’s ignorance on sea ice has also made him a topic at Skeptical Science.

Mr Goddard has also contributed to  to the Science and Public Policy Institute‘s never-ending stream of climate denier propaganda joining the ranks of the truly potty with Viscount Christopher Monckton of Brenchley now as a peer. A good over view of his standard of scientific rigour at SPPI can be found at sciblogs;

If anyone else has any relevant information, or even if Mr Goddard himself care to get in touch, to fill in the blanks with some biography or a picture, feel welcome.

UPDATE: I don't know how I missed it but it looks recent - Mr Goddard has an 'About Me' on his site confirming his engineering qualifications, that his name is in deed a nom de plume and claims to be an environmentalist.

Monday, 2 January 2012

No evidence of droughts getting Longer.

A  cross post from Really Sciency
According to Real ScienceThere is zero evidence that droughts are getting longer, more frequent, or worse.” Mr Goddard even offers proof in the post entitled; “You ArePaying Obama’s EPA To Lie To Your Kids”.

Typical of this pseudo-science blog it is often more political than even slightly scientific. The claim of Obama owning America’s Environmental Protection Agency, an organisation set up by Richard Nixon is pretty absurd. As President he does appoint who heads it as has every President since Nixon but no evidence is offered as to how such an organisation has to lie to the public in line with the administration's political will.

But what about the evidence of Lying to kids? This claim is based on the EPA’s, ‘A Student’s guide to Global Climate Change’ which Steve Goddard obviously disagrees with. 

He specifically claims the Guide in incorrect in one area where it claims ‘Since the 1970s, droughts have become longer andmore extreme worldwide, particularly in the tropics and subtropics.’ He asserts that “There is zero evidence that droughts are getting longer, more frequent, or worse.”
Disagreeing is one thing but providing evidence to support your position is another. However this is ‘Real Science’ so it gives the graph below apparently proving that droughts have not increased.

What you have here is cherry picked images of the US showing historical droughts from here

This proves nothing. Unless every year is graphed and analysed for the possibility of long term trends we cannot know if drought in the US has increased or not. 

Lets be generous. Mr. Goddard needs all the help he can get at times so let’s just assume he is correct. If when the data is analysed correctly it reveals exactly what he claims; “There is zero evidence that droughts are getting longer, more frequent, or worse.” How do things look now?......

Nope, things are no better, because even if he is right about drought in the US, the Guide is about Global Climate Change. And this is a recurring problem with Goddard on ‘Real Science’, particularly when it comes to hurricanes - only those that hit the US count; globally everything can be inferred by things happening in the US. No other part of the world matters when determining how climate change might affect the planet. Here are some typical examples;

Even though these posts specifically mention the US and Florida they are used as evidence against Global Climate Change. At the time of writing this, though some of the above posts are quite old, not one of Goddard’s ‘Skeptics’ has mentioned that the US might not be the best representative for an entire planet. Imagine the furore if research was published supporting Global Warming but only looked at data from about 2% of the planets surface.

But in the Drought post he doesn’t even do us the curtsey to point out that he has only cherry pick some years from the US drought record to claim there is no evidence that droughts have become longer and more extreme worldwide.

But it gets worse – a lot worse.
The EPA just didn’t make up the claim about droughts becoming longer and more extreme worldwide, they reference a paper by Dai, A. 2010. Drought under global warming: A review.

Which in turn references 137 other sources to support it’s conclusions, that;
Global aridity has increased substantially since the 1970s due to recent drying over Africa, southern Europe, East and South Asia, and eastern Australia.’ 
This increased aridity is why globally droughts are becoming longer and more extreme.

But the paper also has some very specific things to say about droughts in the US, the US that Goddard uses as his ‘evidence’ against droughts increasing globally, it states;
“Regions like the United States have avoided prolonged droughts during the last 50 years due to natural climate variations”
Yes you read that right; Goddard dismisses claims based on a paper that specifically states the US hasn’t been following the global trend by highlighting the US trend as proof of the global trend. I really do wish I was making this up. Sadly Goddard’s ‘skeptic’ readership when confronted by this have so far choose to avoid being sceptical in any way.