Climate clippings 51

Environmental change and migration

The British Government Office for Science has published a report Foresight: Migration and Global Environmental Change (Financial Times article here) looking at displacement and migration, both internal and transnational, due to environmental factors up to 2050.

Moving can be to a place of greater vulnerability, as from drought devastated area to a flood plain, or it can be part of the solution. There is concern over vulnerable populations that can’t move. Effectively they are “trapped”.

17 million people were displaced by natural hazards in 2009 and 42 million in 2010 (this number also includes those displaced by geophysical events).

Future numbers are impossible to estimate.

For the report itself, download from here or go directly to the Executive summary.

There more at Climate Spectator.

Dangerous climate change

I want to highlight Prof Kevin Anderson’s slide-show, linked by alexincancun in the last thread, Climate Change: going beyond the dangerous… brutal numbers & tenuous hope or cognitive dissonance?

Anderson uses the “burning embers diagram”, originally published in IPCC TAR in 2001 with a 2009 update in the The Copenhagen Diagnosis to question whether the guardrail for dangerous climate change should be 1C above pre-industrial rather than 2C:

Zero is set at 1990 temperatures, so 2C from pre-industrial is at 1.4C. A global average of 2C will give us 3C on land and about 7C near the poles.

Anderson looks at our emissions trajectory and particularly at China which at the end of their 12th five-year plan in 2030 will probably be emitting as much CO2 as the whole world is now. Then factor in India and others.

He sees 2C as virtually impossible and 4C by 2050 by 2050-2070 likely. The sound track gave up on me, but from the slides I think he’s recommending reductions of 40% by 2015, 70% by 2020 and 90% by 2030.

Problem is, he can’t be written off as a nutter. He’s just trying to be clear-eyed about what we face. Worth a listen and a look, I think.

EU energy futures

Someone has leaked an EU study on how it might meet its future renewable energy targets.

The scenario with the highest electricity prices was the “high renewables” one with more off-shore wind plus “significant” concentrated solar power and micro power generation from solar and wind.

The “diversified supply” scenario produced the cheapest prices. It assumed support for renewable energy but also acceptance of nuclear power and the commercial viability of CCS. Oh dear!

Recent discussion of CCS is here.

Pinning down Antarctic ice mass loss

Scientists are launching a project to finally give a definitive answer about the impact Antarctica is having on sea level change globally. They are bringing together all the available records and using technology capable of making “measurements with accuracies of better than one millimetre-per-year – the thickness of a fingernail.”

So then we’ll know.

Top writers tackle climate change in short stories

Via The Guardian we learn of Verso’s short story collection I’m With the Bears: Short Stories from a Damaged Planet with contributions from Margaret Atwood, Paolo Bacigalupi, T.C. Boyle, Toby Litt, Lydia Millet, David Mitchell, Nathaniel Rich, Kim Stanley Robinson, Helen Simpson, and Wu Ming. Royalties will go to

Breeding plants to survive floods

Scientists have now identified the genes that allow plants to survive inundation. If we are to expect more floods this could be more than handy, especially in the food bowls of Asia.

Even in Australia flood inundation can be a problem, as it was in North West Qld in 2009 when the country went under for two months:

“There’s nothing left there any more, not even any sign of grass re-growing.”

“Half of our land is affected, people think the grass will come back, but it wont.”

Powering ahead

Queensland’s idea of meeting demands for clean energy is to build two gas-fired power stations each with 1500MW capacity.

Not everyone is happy.

In Port Augusta they are hoping to close a dirty power station and replace it with solar. For one thing the mayor knows that coal-fired power stations have serious adverse effects on the health of the locals.

So do open-cut coal mines. Alcoa at Angelsea has an open-cut coal mine, plus possibly one of the dirtiest power stations on earth. The Baillieu Government has just extended the lease until 2061. There should be a penalty for such crimes against humanity:

This announcement ticks all the boxes when it comes to being a bad news story: the coal mine produces considerable amounts of carbon dioxide pollution. The smokestack from the power station is a little over 1km from the town’s new primary school. The mine is chewing through nationally significant heathlands, and the coal is low grade and high sulphur, leading to considerable public health impacts. It is very hard to see how ongoing coal mining within a few kilometres of the world famous Great Ocean Road helps the main employer in the region – tourism.

A dozen or so black-throated finches v one noisy miner

That’s the problem facing Clive Palmer with his 40 million tonnes a year coal mine projected to earn about $4.6 billion pa and inject about $1 billion annually into the coffers of the Queensland and Federal Governments.

You might recall that the orange-bellied parrot stopped a wind farm in Victoria back in 2006. I recall an estimate that one parrot might get killed by the blades every 1000 years.

John D who sent me this story has checked out the relevant listing and reports that the range of the finch is not restricted. In other words it can simply move over.

A pity!

93 thoughts on “Climate clippings 51”

  1. I’m not going to say much about the Alcoa mine, but it’s emissions are at about 1.2 whatever’s the whatever, a smidge lower than Loy Yang and well below Hazelwood at 1.5. There are a lot of wrong ‘facts’ in Cam Walker’s little rant.

    We’re going to run out of gas quite soon if we keep building all these new plants.

  2. The black throated finch is drop dead gorgeous. The problem they are facing comes from habitat change by pastoralists, not miners. It is conceivable that there is something really special about Clive’s minesite but not likely.

  3. Roger @ 1, the link isn’t there again. The articles can be found here.

    I had it in the post, but pulled it out when I realised it was behind the paywall (I have a sub). I didn’t realise that people could register and get in. The articles seem pretty accurate apart from minor glitches. In one place I think he said that sea level rise could be fast – about 1 metre per century – obviously discounting that anything approaching Meltwater Pulse 1A could ever happen again.

  4. Anything to get in the way of a Clive Palmer coal mine, but 12 individuals of a population of 20 000 does seem a bit extreme.

    I’m sure big Clive could make a donation to effectively increase the population viability of the species, buy up and improve some riparian grassland habitat.

  5. A bit of an aside: the orange bellied parrot had already, by the time of the wind farm decision, been the subject of comprehensive survival planning, including a captive breeding programme, meanwhile the Christmas Island Pipistrelle, listed at the same time, was allowed to become extinct, the last known specimen detected in 2009. The first mammalian extinction in Australia in 100 years, the pipistrelle fell victim to political indifference and the ossification of the decision making process at the time.

  6. Brian,

    I’m not supposed to comment on the tech aspects, but am absolutely putting in the right links. The code is right and it shows up in preview. Using chrome – don’t know if that’s a factor. Will stop posting links.

  7. wilful @ 2, I’ve noticed that the Climate Spectator posts are at times subject to vigorous criticism and charges of bias, conflict of interest etc.

    Lefty E @ 6, the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) project certainly blew up in Watts’ face, but I don’t think it’s going to seriously deter skeptics. The long and the short of it was that there were criticisms of the temperature measuring stations because of vegetation changes around some measuring stations, car parks being built etc. The raw temperatures were adjusted in various ways to compensate. BEST found that they did a good job. Watts pre-committed to their results expecting that they would find a very different outcome.

    I understand a whole new network of stations is now being built to overcome some of the problems of the old one.

    That’s the story as I understand it.

  8. Brian – I think it will deter those remaining skeptics who were of the genuine ilk i.e. determined to question and test the reliability of conclusions.

    The rest (ie those immune to any forms of evidence) are best seen as denialists and, accordingly, ignored in the scientific debate: as if they simply werent there. Whats the point of including moon-bayers in sensible discussion? There is no point.

    Of course, they remain a political problem.

  9. Brian, been meaning to comment on the BEST op-ed in the WSJ. Totally arrogant view from a physicist discounting 50+ years of quality control managed through the World Meteorological Organisation, but they had to come around in the end.

    I’ve downloaded the US data for some other work. It is patchy in quality (states very from grade 5 to grade 8), and not as good as Australia’s high quality data. But there’s so much of it, when you average a state’s stations in the network (there’s over 1,000 over the US set that have had basic quality control, infilling and urban adjustments), the random errors, for that’s what they are, cancel out and you pretty much get the real deal. The really interesting thing is, and I’d forgotten this, is that the warming signal in the US doesn’t really get going until the 1988 drought. There was a blip in the 20s and 30s, but the stats suggest mostly variability.

    The Texas summer temperatures just gone were excessive.

  10. Roger, re US warming, I’d been aware that they had been blessed in a way. Recall that 1998 vs 1934 as the hottest year stuff, from memory. I think they are about 2% of the earth’s surface, but they forget that.

  11. LE @ 10, yes, it is useful, I think, to distinguish between skeptics and deniers. There aren’t too many genuine skeptics IMO.

  12. Follow this google search link to the OO for an article with a metaphor as to why climate scientists wont get into a populist debate.

    Doesn’t really work for me, but hey he’s trying.

    So are the comments, they’re very trying indeed.

  13. No idea what happened with my link there! Put these terms into google and go to the first link: “WHY EXPERTS REFUSE TO DEBATE CLIMATE SCIENCE”

  14. I am all in favor of the building of extra combined cycle gas fired power stations (CCGT) provided that there is a clear understanding of the programming and timing of the replacement of CCGT with cleaner technologies. CCGT has much lower emissions than coal fired and, with the right turbines is better able to adjust to changing demand. It is also a suitable technology to take advantage of solar augmentation to reduce emissions further.
    It is easy to demand cleaner power right now but there are limits to the amount of renewables like wind and solar PV that can be handled by the existing power system without sufficient gas fired power to deal with variations in both supply and demand.

  15. Brian, just an inquiry regarding wind.
    Has anyone done a study into the changes in frequency and strengths of wind, on a global or even local scale to see if there is a trend up or down.
    There would be no problem sourcing data, its recorded everywhere.
    Something on the scale of BEST temp study would be tough but doable .
    Just a piece of the puzzle that aroused my curiosity.
    ( i’ve looked into it but my” web research abilities ” seem to be shit)

  16. From the comments section of the Alcoa article.

    Clearly another bad decision for Baillieu but worst so far? Thats a big call what with his commitment to logging whats left of our mountain ash forests and focussing on leadbeaters habitat, cows in the national park, green light for firewood collection in parks, wind farms, coal mines, abandoned renewable energy target, new HRL Coal Plant in Latrobe Valley, plans to chop up green wedges, etc. I could go on, but you get the idea. He and his loony right wind government are environmental vandals who make the redneck Brumby look like an environmentalist.

    Any comments on the accuracy of this?

    Even if the Vic government believed Alcoa needed time to set up alternatives this is no justification for a 50 yr extension or the special conditions.

  17. Lefty E @ 6

    The points currently discussed around the BEST report is that not only is it not yet peer reviewed – science by press release – but it doesn’t address the core issues for sceptics.

    No sceptics, save maybe some idiosyncratic outliers, question the reality of warming. After all, everyone knows that only one hundred and eighty years ago it was possible to hold ice fairs and ox roasts on the Thames during winter. Try that these days and you get one soggy ox. That warming has occurred is not the issue as far as they are concerned, merely the cause of the warming all acknowledge.

    Anthony Watts raised the issue of the quality of measurements at temperature ground stations in the US, and the BEST project dealt with these concerns. Perfectly right and proper by both parties. This is how science works.

    However, BEST has been hyped out of all proportion. To claim that this proves sceptics are wrong is to erect a straw man – that sceptics claim there has been no warming – and then demolish it without addressing the core concerns.

    In fact, even the article you refer to acknowledges that BEST didn’t look at the cause of the warming, and has nothing to say on the topic. So at best, all BEST does is acknowledge and further validate the warming that all already accept has occurred.

    BEST does nothing to address the core issue sceptics raise, the cause of the change, or the current hiatus, and without this it contributes little to the debate.

    Regardless of what you may think of the sceptics position, on the evidence so far this report provides nothing which would cause any sceptic to change that position.


  18. @Chris Harper

    No sceptics, save maybe some idiosyncratic outliers, question the reality of warming.

    Surely you joke. Have you been living under a rock? This is exactly what has been going on for years. It’s been central to the denialist propaganda. And a nasty bit of sleezy politics it has been with endless attacks on the integrity of scientists such as Phil Jones.

    Anthony Watts raised the issue of the quality of measurements at temperature ground stations in the US, and the BEST project dealt with these concerns. Perfectly right and proper by both parties. This is how science works.

    I hope not. Urban heat island and other issues of homogenization of data have been dealt with in the literature for years. All the data, code and documentation for GISS surface temperature record has been freely available for years. Multiple attempts at a global temperature record have come from non-institutional sources including talented amateurs and “skeptics”. And they all closely agree with the major institutional products. Simple statistical tests also supported the major records.

    All this was prior to BEST. The chances of BEST coming up with something radically different were insignificant. The only reason BEST ever happened was not because anybody had actually produced anything of value to seriously question the accepted records, but because of a concerted smear campaign against climate scientists.

    It must be the one of the dullest pieces of science ever undertaken adding little to scientific knowledge. At least Watts has egg on on face.

  19. quokka @ 21

    No, I am not joking. No, I have not been living under a rock, and, I have no idea which denialist propaganda you are talking about.

    Nor do I regard the use of the term ‘denialist’ as anything bar a smear which has no role in any courteous conversation.

  20. Chris, most of this letter, and in fact pretty much everything that goes up on W(TF)UWT denies warming. e.g. from two posts higher up than that letter:

    I’d say a Climate refugees TV show is more plausible than climate refugees in our lifetime.

    That’s direct denialism. It’s implausible to suggest W(TF)UWT is about anything else.

  21. Chris Harper, the reason most of us call you denialists is because you remind us of my namesake.

  22. sg @ 24

    WUWT is only reproducing a letter from Dr Singer as printed in Nature. I don’t truly think you are claiming that either Nature or Dr Singer are denying warming. There is nothing in that letter which is not well known. There are problems with short term temperature measurements as evidenced by some proxies….Nothing new there, and that is why discussions take place. It is in everyone’s interest that these issues be addressed and sorted out.

    I refrained from discussing the issues around BEST in detail, I thought that a comment here was not an appropriate place to do that. That Dr Singer did that in Nature is reasonable.

    David Irving @ 25

    Truly? You regard people who have a different interpretation to you of the data in a young, uncertain and rapidly developing scientific discipline as no different to someone who denies clear historical evidence of mass murder and genocide for political reasons? And you expect to be taken seriously?

    I have a site, and if any visitor there made such a claim towards anyone I would come down on them like a ton of bricks. I would not tolerate such abuse from anyone, to anyone, for any reason. The comparison is absurd.

  23. Chris, you’re obfuscating and being disingenuous. Singer’s “letter” states that

    They included data from the same weather stations as the Climategate people, but reported that one-third showed cooling — not warming.

    which is implying warming isn’t happening, and

    But unlike the land surface, the atmosphere has shown no warming trend, either over land or over ocean — according to satellites and independent data from weather balloons.

    and goes on to say atmospheric warming should happen but isn’t. This is direct contradiction of the existence of warming. It was reproduced approvingly on WUWT, and no, it is not evidence of the official position of Nature, it is an unreviewed comment.

    WUWT a few days later refers to PNAS as the “Proceedings of the National Alarmist Society,” another direct piece of denialism. The site is full of statements directly claiming warming is not happening. The fact that they sometimes (as Singer does) allow for the possibility of some non-anthropogenic warming (but “not in our lifetime”) means they just have a confused propaganda platform. You really can’t say they aren’t denialists. It just doesn’t stand up to any kind of objective review of their content.

    If you believe they are merely “skeptical,” you’re either incapable of scientific argument or you’re part of the game, muddying the waters between politically-motivated lies and genuine skeptical science.

  24. jumpy @ 19, can’t help on wind. Sorry. I’ll keep an eye out.

    Chris Harper and DI(nr), check out the Wikipedia article on denialism which I think is fair enough. You have to add “holocaust” if you want it to refer to the other David Irving.

    I tend to us “denier” to avoid unintentional offence. Deniers claim certainty, which separates them from skeptics.

  25. Ok, we seem to be operating from different paradigms and talking at cross purposes.

    Your two quotes:

    The first refers to a direct report from BEST. They are quite clear that they found that two thirds of stations showed warming, and one third cooling. In other words, the warming was not uniform. Nothing controversial there, it would be surprising if it were uniform and that in no way implies cooling.

    On the other matter, the atmosphere, from satellite measurements, does show no warming trend. This is well known and controversial only in terms of reconciling the results of different types of measurement.

    Are you going to deny what Dr Singer has to say? All his points are, as I have said, well known. Are you not aware of them? What he is doing is pointing out true and obvious caveats to dampen the hype which seems to have surrounded BEST. Is this not a reasonable action by any scientist?

    As to the rest of it, that is where the real divergence seem to be. It is true that WUWT questions the claims of human influence, and questions the quality of the claims made and data used; is this what makes them deniers in your eyes? Both reading the site and conversation I had with Anthony Watts left me convinced he accepts the reality of warming, and that he acknowledges a component of that warming is down to human action, but he is unconvinced that even a majority of that warming we saw in the latter 20th C can be explained by AGW. In this he is just one of many who hold to that view with both honesty and integrity, and at personal cost to themselves.

    Regardless, even if someone regarded the data to be sufficiently dodgy to raise the question of whether warming is happening at all, to compare them to NAZI apologists is a foul vilification that no decent individual, who truly thought things through, would tolerate being associated with. Besides, what is the value in trivialising Nazism in that manner?

  26. The persistent attempt to assert that “denier” is an allusion to holocaust denialism/apologetics is a vacuous attempt to misdirect those arguing for evidence-based policy on climate. It’s purely concern trolling.

  27. And as you rightly point out Chris, there is no value in trivialising the holocaust, at least for those of us on this side of the culture war by the right on climate.

  28. Chris Harper,
    As others have pointed out in detail this issue now Global Warming is damage control. However you are arguing that ther
    e is no need for this. With 2 clear options before us , take immediate action: take noaction, which path do you believe the world should take? And if that path leads to massive loss of life and property what should be the consequences for decision makers and leaders who took that path on behalf of is all?
    If on the other hand we take the path of action there is a cost that ee all share, and benefits also that we gain.
    Benefits such as
    Greater attention to population control
    Accelerated development of renewable energy systems which extend the life of fossil fuels.
    Improve energy efficiency throughout industry and construction.

    Regardless of your general decision do you believe that there should be no action taken to reduce the known global underway through ocean acidification and habitat loss?

  29. Fran @ 31, I don’t see much difference between Holocaust deniers and AGW deniers intellectually. Both groups are denying something for which there is clear evidence, for political reasons.

    Hence my willingness to give offence. Others are free to take a different approach.

  30. @Chris Harper

    On the other matter, the atmosphere, from satellite measurements, does show no warming trend. This is well known and controversial only in terms of reconciling the results of different types of measurement.

    You are just making up nonsense and wasting everyone’s time. The near surface atmospheric temperature from the UAH and RSS satellite records shows very similar trend to all the other surface temperature records. This is perfectly clear from this plot of all the major records:

  31. Chris Harper:

    It is true that WUWT questions the claims of human influence, and questions the quality of the claims made and data used; is this what makes them deniers in your eyes?

    No, it is the regular use of cherry-picking, dodgy statistics, and mathturbatory ‘fits to data’ to support a presupposed argument which has no grounding in anything that we know to be relevant to the physics of climate systems which makes them deniers in my eyes. I am yet to see something on Watt’s site of any weight that hasn’t been widely debunked by both physical scientists and statisticians.

    Questioning the claims and data used is perfectly valid, but the onus is on the questioner to prove that the data is dodgy. BEST might not say anything about the causes of climate change, but it has shown (at least in the case of temperature records) that the science in question has been done accurately, consientiously and thoroughly. It starts to make it harder for Watts et al to prove that scientific fraud is going on in other parts of climate science when their biggest example has just been deflated.

  32. Fran @ 31

    I was referring to David Irving @ 25 where he did, explicitly, use the term in that manner. The problem is, that approach is so common that it results in a rejection of any use of the term at all, by anyone.

    David Irving @ 34

    In summary your position is – I disagree with what you say, therefore you are Hitler.

    This is despite that you don’t know what I say.

    Reductio ad Hitlerum is a relatively new logical fallacy, only been around for the last sixty years or so. It is a position I tend to avoid, unless, of course, I am dealing with someone who really does hold to extreme statist and collectivist views. And I do mean extreme.

    My feeling is to hold someone with whom I disagree as no more than a holocaust denier as my default stance would do nothing for my credibility, so I avoid it. I prefer to justify my position, rather than just smear my opponent.

  33. From the Wikipedia article I linked to @ 28:

    Denialism is choosing to deny reality as a way to avoid an uncomfortable truth:[1] “[it] is the refusal to accept an empirically verifiable reality. It is an essentially irrational action that withholds validation of a historical experience or event”.[2]

    In science, denialism has been defined as the rejection of basic concepts that are undisputed and well-supported parts of the scientific consensus on a topic in favor of ideas that are both radical and controversial.[3] It has been proposed that the various forms of denialism have the common feature of the rejection of overwhelming evidence and the generation of a controversy through attempts to deny that a consensus exists.[4][5] The terms Holocaust denialism and AIDS denialism have been used,[6][7][8][9][10] and the term climate change denialists has been applied to those who refuse to accept that climate change is occurring.[11][12][13][14] Several motivations for denial have been proposed, including religious beliefs and self-interest, or as a psychological defense mechanism against disturbing ideas.[15][16]

  34. Chris Harper:

    In summary your position is – I disagree with what you say, therefore you are Hitler.

    David Irving (no relation):

    Chris Harper, the reason most of us call you denialists is because you remind us of my namesake.

    Spot the difference?

  35. And in addition Brian, the work by Oreskes on agnotology and climate denialism is useful on this matter. The concern trolling from the deniers aims to move discussion away from facts that are salient to policy and beyond serious objection to idle disputes about “ad hom” and trivialising suffering under the N@zis.

    It was boring and stupid a decade ago, but now those raising it should be called out for Godwins.

  36. Brian,

    Yes, I do see the difference.

    I am calling no one anything. He, on the other hand, is comparing people he disagrees with to NAZI sympathisers. I see no similarity.

    I sought to do no more than discuss the BEST report, nothing else. I did not, and do not, seek to expand the discussion into climate change as a whole – that gets boring for everyone. Instead find myself subject to smear and abuse by people, more than one (see @ 37), who have no idea of my beliefs, or of those they imagine they disagree with, but seek to judge them in the most emotional and pejorative terms instead of sticking to the issues.

    DI(nr) chose to Godwinise the discussion, all I did was seek to mount a defense to his vile and repulsive misrepresentation. There is no logical or moral equivalency here.

    While I, like many here, enjoy a vigorous but polite discussion with people who bring a different perspective to the issues I do not wish to be the cause, or centre, of a raucous and abusive argument. Others are clearly determined to have such an argument so I will bow out.

  37. Chris … while DI(NR) did expressly link pair your approach with that of the ‘revisionist’ historian David Irving, Jess@37 made no such reference. Her post was exclusively concerned with the denier case on climate change. Bow out if you feel it apt, but don’t make stuff up when doing so.

  38. Chris, I think it would have been better that DI(nr) didn’t write exactly what he did @ 25, but you haven’t helped matters by misreading what he wrote. He said you reminded him of David Irving.

    You claim he said you are Hitler.

    There is a difference.

  39. Fran @ 43, Jess @ 37

    Fran, you are quite right.

    I wasn’t accusing Jess of godwinism, but I misread her use of mathturbatory as masturbatory and took it as abuse rather than wit.

    Mea culpa.

    Jess, please accept my apologies.

    Still, I doubt that my presence here will be conducive to the thread staying on track……

  40. Brian,

    The “I don’t agree with you therefore you are (Hitler, a Fascist, a NAZI apologist) are just variations on a single meme, and in godwin terms pretty much indistinguishable. They definitely tend to be used pretty much interchangeably, and usually – in my experience – by progressives towards people whose views in truth bear very little resemblance to any variety of Fascism.

    I was simply abbreviating what DI(nr) had to say, while keeping its basic idea intact. You may see a difference between the two statements, but to use a well-known quote – a difference which makes no difference is no difference at all.

  41. “””This will bugger up the nice exponential growth curve graphed here.”””

    Maybe tidal can step into the breach–-26-october-2011

    “”””A report in People’s Daily Online cites the China Ocean Energy Resources Division as saying the Chinese coastline has space for 424 tidal power stations, along with a tidal power reserve of 190 GW, of which 38.5 GW are available for development.””””

  42. The UK is to consider the Integral Fast Reactor (GE-Hitachi PRISM) as an alternative to PUREX reprocessing to dispose of it’s stockpile of Plutonium. This would be a very good move with the logical extension to recycle light water reactor spent fuel and eventually entirely resolving the issue of long lived nuclear waste by “burning” it to produce electricity.

    The IFR is passively safe – no failure of cooling systems can cause core damage and the associated pyroprocessing cannot be used to produce chemically pure weapons grade plutonium.

  43. Chris @ 47, to me the shorthand was to the “refusal to accept an empirically verifiable reality” (quote from the Wikipedia piece) which was the underlying logic.

    OTOH the comment by using a figure associated with holocaust denial was probably intended to offend, and obviously did. This I regret.

    It does seem to me that Watts’ writing displays most if not all the characteristics of scientific denialism identified in this post. It’s not a matter of disagreeing with you, it’s a matter of you promoting and aligning with thinking which is unscientific.

    Enough has been said. I would ask people to move on.

  44. I followed the links from saliant Green @ 46 and found this article on Providing all global energy with wind, water, and solar power.

    jumpy, on page 6 it has a map of the globe identifying wind strength around the world. Not exactly what you were looking for, but of interest.

  45. Hey jumpy – sorry I missed your question re. wind speed and intensity @19 – I understand that wind speed is one of those things that it’s really difficult to pin down (much like hurricanes) simply because there are so many factors which determine it, and the effects of a warmer atmosphere act in all sorts of different directions on each of these components. So add that to the fact that wind is so variable, and siting of your station is much more important than that for temperature — it might be a case of ‘more research needed’ to reduce the noise on a dataset like that.

    Regarding a dataset (although it’s only a model), you might be interested in these guys: Windlab (a CSIRO spinoff) who have been constructing maps of wind speed and intensity on a global scale (it’s what started their company before they got into wind farm construction). Unfortunately most of that stuff is commercially sensitive information which gets sold to companies to site wind farms.

    So I think the answer is yes, that information is out there, but no, you can’t have it. 🙁

    Good example of Australian innovation leading the world though…

  46. Jess: The effect of climate change on wind speed patterns is one of the attractions of choosing alternatives to wind power (or ocean currents for that matter.)

  47. Roger: Thanks for that reference – I hadn’t seen that one yet. But look at the size of the noise in that paper! 🙂 Wind is a messy subject.

    John D: Yeah I agree that a reduction in wind speed is possible for Australia – AFAIK the westerlies that underly much of the weather patterns we get in the south will shift polewards in a warming world, so that could spell trouble on a broad scale. That said, having wind turbines in places where we always expect there to be wind (near the coast for example) is a much surer bet, and I’m not sure we’ve exhausted those possibilities yet.

  48. A senior relative of mine, an unquestioning supporter of the Murdochcracy, recently told me that Governments across the world have influenced the CSIRO, and NASA (for example) to write pro-AGW papers in order to expand their control of the economy and society.

    Any climate deniers here also believe this ?

    I thought this was a novel extension of the CSIRO/NASA/worldwide Climate Reserach Unit conspiracy theory as it expanded the scope of the conspiracy to include now not only all Climate Research Units and all Universities but also now all national governments.

    An unintended corollary of this theory is that John Howard is the sinister architect of Climate Change Alarmism in Australia because it was under his governments that AGW came to the attention of the Australian general public. Can’t remember anything about AGW in mainstream reporting under Keating.

    But getting back to the conspiracy in its normally expressed form (UN -> Scientists -> National Government rather than national government -> scientist -> United Nations), apart from stating the obvious lunacy of the proposition has anyone got a nice effective succint and field-tested response ?

  49. Thanks Brian and Jess.
    But Roger Jones wins a smiley face for getting almost exactly what i was after. Its an area with so much observed data , yet so little understood. But a stilling trend seems to dominate at surface level. And impossible to measure before ships logs i suspect. It would be a courageous young scientist to take on a study involving charting those shipping log data as far back as they go covering the ” little ice age ” and ” medieval warming ” periods ( someone that can read Chinese shipping logs to be sure), a monumental task. So many gaps in our understanding, that would be an important one filled.

    As for tidal, in your link Brian was ” O’Rourke tidal energy update 2009″
    Great read, couldn’t find anything more recent from him, maybe after the summit in London in late November

    Ooh, Roger, here ya go * 🙂 *

  50. john D @20, sorry for the delay in responding, it’s a bit of a sidetrack, but you wanted a response to a comment in the original Alcoa article. parsing it line by line:
    his commitment to logging whats left of our mountain ash forests and focussing on leadbeaters habitat,

    no difference whatsoever from previous mob (and I have a lot less of a problem with this than many).

    cows in the national park,

    true, and atrocious

    green light for firewood collection in parks,

    Not true, not at all, false, a lie

    wind farms,

    by which I asusme they mean wind farm exclusion zones. Yes it appears Ballieau hates windfarms. Sad and annoying (though they’re not the panacea)

    coal mines,

    none actually started, but they seem to be sniffing around, which is disturbing

    abandoned renewable energy target,

    not abandoned yet. And with a carbon price, it’s unnecessary.

    new HRL Coal Plant in Latrobe Valley,

    this was the last mob’s problem.

    plans to chop up green wedges, etc.

    exactly the same as the last mob.

    As for Alcoa, yes the company has a very clear and unambiguous right to mine for another 50 years. Refusing to honour that agreement would have only come at a very great financial cost, it would have done the Victorian Treasury quite badly.

  51. Getting back to what BEST actually shows, rather than merely using it as an opportunity to deploy rude words about those with whom various commenters disagree, it is at least interesting that Judith Curry has come out with a huge swipe at Muller for hyping it up as the death of scepticism (“Muller’s claim that he has proven global warming sceptics wrong is a huge mistake, with no scientific basis…… there is no scientific basis for saying warming hasn’t stopped ….. in fact in the wake of the unexpected global warming standstill many scientists who had previously rejected sceptics’ arguments are now taking them much more seriously”.)

    Curry is the second of the co-authors of the four papers the BEST project has in pre-publication; indeed the only one of the four co-authors who is actually a climatologist. But she says she was not consulted by Muller before he went public with a unilateral press release while peer review was still taking place.

    Muller has at the very least jumped the gun by public pronouncement without consulting co-authors, before the papers have been peer-reviewed and published. This may only be about maximising publicity by releasing pre-Durban – he runs an energy advisory firm, the profile and profits of which he is trying to boost through this project. That would be unprofessional but may not actually reflect on quality of the project. Or it may, if Curry has been reported correctly, be more serious.

    This has got some way to run. Hold the triumphalism is my advice.

  52. If the Daily Mail have represented Judith Curry’s position accurately, she has finally declared herself as unambiguously in the denier camp. She’s certainly not hiding her decline. 😉

    There is no scientific basis for saying that warming hasn’t stopped,” she said. “To say that there is detracts from the credibility of the data, which is very unfortunate”.

    “As for the graph disseminated to the media, she said: ‘This is “hide the decline” stuff. Our data show the pause, just as the other sets of data do. Muller is hiding the decline”.

    “To say this is the end of scepticism is misleading, as is the statement that warming hasn’t paused. It is also misleading to say, as he has, that the issue of heat islands has been settled

    See also:

  53. Wozz: I wouldn’t believe Judith Curry’s statements about things flattening out. She certainly has no proof that the data suggests what she says it does – Tamino deflates her argument here (although see below).

    Fran: It may be that Judith Curry has been misrepresented by the Daily Mail, but she still has to justify her comments, namely:

    We see no evidence of global warming slowing down


  54. Oops, sorry – Judith Curry disagrees with the statement above, I agree with it (that global warming isn’t slowing down).

  55. Jess, if you wish to believe a highly partisan – often called “Hansen’s bulldog” – blogger operating under a pseudonym (and, if he is who he is widely believed to be, is not a climate scientist but a rather poorly qualified statistician), sniping from the sidelines, over a well known, reputable and widely published climate scientist who was actually an integral part of the project under discussion – well, go for it, I can’t stop you.

    You might want to compare though Tamino’s own allegation in your link that Curry is running as fast as she can to disavow the Mail article, with what she is in fact saying on her own blog, in the link Fran provides – that everything she was actually quoted as saying she did say – to help you make up your mind about Tamino’s credibility in this matter.

    On a wider who said what theme bearing on Muller’s hype, Roger Pielke Sr had a terrific post recently quoting an array of climate scientists – Hansen, Trenberth, Santer and others who can scarcely be dismissed with this blog’s preferred epithet – scratching their heads about why for the past 13 years there has been such a slow down in temperature rise. You know, the slow down that Muller claims BEST has shown has not happened. The wide range of speculation with some factual backing – aerosols, deep ocean heat, water vapour in the stratosphere, model failure in regard to ocean mixing, etc – is fascinating, for allegedly settled science.

    Poppycock though I guess.

  56. At some stage Brian can you let me know which of the names I quote triggers moderation? Or what else might be doing it that I can avoid, other than merely challenging received wisdom? It gets a bit annoying, and it only seems to happen on climate change threads.

  57. Oh come on Woz, you know that there’s a world of difference between saying there’s a slow-down because we can’t track where all the heat is going (the ocean’s a fairly good guess) and saying there’s a slow-down because anthropogenic global warming isn’t happening.

    Personally, I’d rather believe Tamino when he backs up his statements with actual calculations and figures which square with my understanding of statistics, rather than Curry, who may have been part of the study in some small sense but doesn’t seem to know much about what was going to be in it.

    Granted, her beef seems to be with the over-egged media releases rather than anything substantive in the study, but she still seems to think that we are seeing anthropogenic global warming slowing down from the surface temperature records. Well, I’d like to see some hard science to back that statement up.

  58. Yeah, OK, Jess why don’t we wait till the papers have been through the proper process – which may be interesting in itself since Curry says she thinks two of the four are flawed in their current form – and are published, then continue the discussion on the basis of what they actually say.

    Which is what Muller should have let happen in the first place, rather trying to maximise commercially advantageous publicity for himself by jumping in first. No, hold on – I should remember that conflict of interest only applies to certain participants in this debate.

  59. Woz: I agree that Mueller has over-egged the importance of his science – it’s actually fairly boring.

    But it is a start – and I still put it to you that if the climate scientists have done their job properly*, then it does give credibility to other conclusions that they have made vis a vis anthropogenic inputs into changing climate. Reputation still counts for something in science.

    * …as they appear to have done on my admittedly brief reading of the BEST papers. Again, Tamino has been picking holes in them as well so maybe there are small problems. But I don’t see them overturning the support that the study has for the status quo in climate science.

  60. Bilb @58

    Yeah, I can imagine scaled up versions in ocean current and tidal. Or hanging off the bottom of offshore wind facilities ( in suitable locations of course )

  61. Jess @ 70: “I don’t see [the BEST papers] overturning the support …… for the status quo in climate science.” Neither do I. But – and this was my point – I don’t see them either as showing anything that will or should kill scepticism, as the original claim on this thread had it. This whole episode is likely to be pretty much a non-event.

    This is not to say of course that I expect my interpretation of the status quo is the same as yours. I agree with Curry’s reported remark that “in the wake of the unexpected global warming standstill many scientists who had previously rejected sceptics’ arguments are now taking them much more seriously”. Pielke’s piece (Curry also has a thread on her blog about it) shows that even the team is starting to move on this.

    And just to repeat – as I shouldn’t have to, but in the probably vain hope of avoiding the usual accusations – this does not mean that I believe there is no warming or even no AGW component of that warming. It means that I believe the modelling and the science are rather less settled in their implications for future climate than almost all here think, and that as Curry and Pielke suggest this is beginning to be realised even in hitherto impervious parts of the climate change establishment.

  62. Could be, Wozza, I’ll take a look, but I’ve got other stuff to do first. You’ll no doubt draw conclusions, but they’d be wrong.

    RealClimate has a post, the best so far, I think. Note also the comment @ 1 about Tamino’s post. He’s invariably given respect by real climate scientists.

    If you follow the links in this comment from Tamino’s thread you’ll find some interesting graphs.

    Wozza, if you followed this thread through to the end you will have seen Roger Jones’ comment @ 45.

    As to the science being settled, some of it is, fairly, and some of it isn’t as this link upthread shows.

  63. Woz: Members of ‘the climate establishment’ have always realised that there are significant uncertainties in climate science. The trouble with Curry et al is that they persistently ignore one tail of any uncertainty and assume that uncertainty always means cooling. Uncertainty can also mean that climate change will be much worse than we realised.

    One example of this was in a talk I went to recently here at RSES given by Henk Djikstra (who’s been visiting our group for the last couple of months). He was talking about how there is growing observational evidence that GCMs may be biased towards stability in the meridional ocean overturning in the Atlantic, and that a collapse of currently thermally-driven overturning could be easier than forecast in the IPCC reports.

  64. Brian, sorry, I can’t agree that Tamino is “invariably given respect by real climate scientists”. He is given respect, or at least supported for his usefulness as an attack dog for the cause, by a particular group of climate scientists. Others have a very different view. That the Taminos of this world – and I agree that there are similar on the other side – can be cited as authorities well beyond their qualifications and expertise is symptomatic of the sorry current state of climate policy debate: its deterioration into rampant tribalism.

    Roger’s comment in the earlier thread was interesting and relevant I agree. But he described it himself as a “speculative mechanism”. I’ll take empirical data every day. One of the main problems with climate science is that for whatever reason – and to be fair, many of its practitioners eg Trenberth acknowledge this – its modelling and theorising have run well ahead of the state of its supporting observational data.

    Thank you for undertaking to look at the moderation thing. I assure you I draw no conclusions about it. It’s IT. Glitches happen.

    Jess @74: “Uncertainty can also mean that climate change will be much worse than we realised.” I agree. But it’s not much more than a truism – it follows directly from the definition of uncertainty. Truisms are not much good in guiding policy setting in complex situations.

    And if you apply Occam’s razor to a situation in which, to quote Curry, we have had 13 years of “unexpected global warming standstill” in comparison to models, it is more likely that future unexpecteds will also be on the downside of the current models than on the upside, let alone the “much worse upside.

  65. Well Woz, truisms sometimes need to be stated when they are being ignored by policymakers.

    I think the point is that the “unexpected global warming standstill” is still open to interpretation, given the other truism that you can’t say anything definitive about a decade-long period without significant uncertainty. And we have reason to believe such blips are not uncommon: given the large difference in heat capacity in the ocean relative to the atmosphere, relatively small exchanges of heat between the atmosphere and ocean can cause significant changes in surface temperature.

  66. Somewhere here, Wozza, you are going to have to realise that this is not a contest with “similar on the other side”, this is a scientific study of observed undeniable changes to our environment. There is only one reality, and the only discussion is how will it affect each and every one of us.

    In the last day a huge chunk of the US East Coast is blanketed in snow,…well before the autumn leaves have changed colour, and millions of households are affected. Other cities are deluged or flooded. These are real effects of climate change along with very real and extensive costs.

    Meanwhile in our Parliamentary Senate the stupidity carries on with the Coalition Senator for the ACT arguing that every other nation is doing nothing to Price Carbon so we should do nothing until they all have done far more than we ever should, and even then it will be a wasted effort. These are the Law Makers. By that logic looting is fine as long as every one is doing it, and the impact on the economy is neutral because the good still exist…they have just changed places. I hope that he remembers this when the 99% raid the 1% for every thing that they have.

    There is only one Climate Eventuality, and that is not up for debate.

  67. I think the thing that must really shit the denialists about Muller is that he used their own media tactic beautifully. If Tamino is right – and I think he/she is – then these papers are going to be rejected or massively revised. But Muller has already grabbed the front of the media cycle with the big claim, and the eventual retractions and modifications are going to be reported on page 50 a couple of months down the track.

    That’s exactly what the Anthony Watts and Bolts of the world do all the time when stirring up controversy about the IPCC, “climategate,” etc – make fabricated and/or outrageous claims that get lots of media airtime and then the retraction gets buried in the news cycle.

    It must really shit them to see an “independent” and famous physicst biting them on the arse with the same tactics. Especially after spending so many months looking like a skeptic. They know that the eventual corrections and modifications to his claims won’t get the same air time as his original (patronizing, annoying) WaPo editorial.

    Cry me a river.

    Wozza, I’m not sure why you think so poorly of Tamino. His/her approach to the Muller papers has been suitably critical, and his/her descriptions of the basic climate science are very far from “attack dog” stuff. You could stand to learn a bit about how complex the analytical tasks are if you read that blog with an open mind.

    But I agree entirely about the silliness of Muller’s pre-peer review publicity. It’s not good practice, and arXiv is not the same as proper peer review, imho. As far as I know, climate scientists have never done this kind of thing.

  68. Wozza, I’ve already been rapped over the knuckles by Brian for some offensive remarks made upthread (which I have no intention of withdrawing or apologizing for), but fuck me dead! You make it really hard to be civil. I’m not sure whether it’s pure boneheaded stupidity or ideological blindess, but you are determined to ignore all the evidence and keep pursuing these grindingly boring arguments.

    Why don’t you go to Deltoid? Tim’d welcome you with open arms, and probably even give you your own thread.

  69. Worrying article.

    This makes our efforts redundant.

    “”India’s coal imports, which totaled 55 million tons in 2010, are expected to soar to 186 million tons by 2014 and could rise to about 300 million tons by 2016.””

    This worries me,

    Just in the past year, Indian companies have invested about $2.5 billion in Australian coal assets

    Ooh,how Australia is martyring itself.

  70. DI (NR), out of respect for our host I am, like you, not going to allow myself to be tempted into a slanging match at least this time.

    But if you could ever, just once, respond with any sort of rational or evidence-based refutation of the substance of the arguments which you purport to disagree with, rather than just generalised personal abuse of the “bone-headed stupidity, ideological blindness” sort, you would make resisting the temptation much easier. And, who knows, you might even surprise yourself by for the first time making an actual worthwhile contribution.

  71. Wozza @ 75, the reason I referred to Roger Jones’ comment is that warming may be found to proceed in a step-wise fashion.

    In saying “I’ll take empirical data every day” you imply that others don’t, but people like Hansen, Trenberth and Gavin Schmidt explicitly made the point that we need data. The real problem, as Hansen explained at length, is that we are currently not collecting some of the data we need.

  72. jumpy @ 80, there’s a lot to worry about that article. It’s why Kevin Anderson (see the post) seems to be saying that the major emitters must be brought into the calculation. At least there’s this:

    As a result of the shortages, dozens of power plants under construction will be halted.

  73. I don’t think what we are saying is that much different, Brian. Your “we are currently not collecting some of the data we need” is for practical purposes the same as my pointing out that modelling has got ahead of real world observation and availability of empirical data.

    The question is what the climate science community can or will do to collect the data required. Keep modelling and shout “denier” if challenged seems so much more attractive to some of them.

  74. Here again, Wozza, you imply that collecting more data is a free choice. It costs money and Hansen tells of how he has been trying to get the money to properly measure aerosols since the early 1990s. Climate scientists are more interested in doing science than engaging in stoushes, though I’m not sure the same can be said for Pielke Snr and Judith Curry, for example.

  75. @Wozza

    Your “we are currently not collecting some of the data we need” is for practical purposes the same as my pointing out that modelling has got ahead of real world observation and availability of empirical data.

    Here we go again. The tedious “because we don’t know everything, we know nothing” meme. Your claim is utterly meaningless without quantifying uncertainties. Something that the IPCC and climate science in general takes great pains to do. Unlike yourself.

    And for the umpteenth time, estimate of climate sensitivity do not only come from climate models.

  76. That’s why I used the word “can”, as well as the word “will”, Brian. Yes, there are difficulties.

    Your last sentence is tending to tribalism again, but I suppose we are both guilty at times. In my view both Curry and Pielke do a pretty good job, given the polarisation,, to put it no more strongly, that they have to cope with, of objectivity and keeping an open mind. I really don’t see how anyone can quote Hansen as the great recogniser of data deficiencies, given his dogmatic insistence that there is only one answer at the end of the day and that is his. Data deficiencies are about uncertainty of a sort that he in practice denies.

  77. Wozza @ 87, IMO you are not talking about Hansen but a figment of your imagination. Go here and read the whole paper. He begins with uncertainty, specifies throughout what is measured and what is estimated and ends with two sections on the problems of measurement.

    The next edition of CC is late again, unfortunately. I had too much personal stuff on and indulged myself with an excursion into Qantas.

  78. Great, after the shit week I’ve had, now CC is late.
    It’s OK, once ya had a dozen kicks in the guts, whats one more?

    On a serious note, if time permits, could someone investigate this and determine its validity?

  79. Jumpy @90,

    the man at your link has no shame and is lying through his teeth. The Japanese JAXA satellite is measuring fluxes, not just emissions, both emission and absorption at the surface. They have reduced uncertainty from point measurements. Yer man, John O’Sullivan is pretending that they are emissions and overturn AGW theory. Wrong on both counts. A Moncktonesque take on an interesting science story if ever I’ve seen one.

    What it does suggest, is that high latitude absorption is higher than thought and low latitudes are emitting more CO2 than thought. It’s not great news because it means tropical forest and land-use are contributing more to the issue than previously assumed. Higher latitudes absorbing more is good for what its worth but is a sign of warming and high CO2 promoting boreal forest growth. Better knowledge of fluxes is essential for understanding the carbon cycle and earth system modelling.

    The measurements and findings are published here:
    The story he traduced is here:

    If you’ve had a shit week why spread more manure? 😉

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