Another made up fact from anti-windfarm activists

UKIP climate advisor Ben Pile (science qualifications nil) tries his hand at propaganda filmmaking* to loud applause from the climate *skeptic* blogosphere.  But skepticism was put on hold when this howler made it through editing:

"We could see a change in surfing here as a result of this proposed development it just fills me with horror. There are some people who are going to be affected directly by the construction of these turbines out there which will lead to a reduction in the amount of energy so there'll be certain beaches mostly on the South Wales side that will actually start to notice a change in the impact in the size of waves that they're getting I believe."(14:30)

I've tweeted Ben a couple of times asking to see the science to back that claim up, but no answer. So let's see what surfing activist group (yup there are active surfers) Surfers Against Sewage say "To date, there is no evidence that offshore wind farms interfere with the size or shape of waves used for surfing."

My comment pointing this out on the film's website hasn't made it through Ben's moderation. So much for debate and supporting assertions with facts.

*Lost Horizons it's here it's 30 mins long and it's rubbish.

Is Anthony Watts airbrushing his past ?

Watching Anthony Watts on PBS Newshour I was struck  by how reasonable Anthony appeared. He stressed at least three times how he agreed Global Warming exists, and his account of his past was shall we say surprising. Anthony mentions James Hansen's testimony to Congress in '88 and claims that he was motivated by it.  So the viewer could be forgiven for thinking that Anthony has taken a measured path from AGW proponent to skeptic over the years.
But surely theres something missing. What about Anthony's denial of global warming? He seems to be airbrushing that out of the record. I tried to post a message on the open thread on his blog asking how he got from Leipzig Declaration signatory to his current oh-so-reasonable stance. It hasn't made it through moderation.

Ironic how climate denial blogs claim their view is being suppressed yet are quick to censor any dissent or probing questions.

IMHO it's a worthwhile question. Conceding the world is warming but taking the stance that warming is insignificant is much more nuanced than his flat denial of the consensus back in 1995. We need to know whose judgment to trust and it seems Anthony can't account for his earlier stance.  How can we take Anthony Watts seriously now ?

Lewandowsky's Conspiracy Paper : Im the Outlier

I'm normally a big fan of Prof Stephan Lewandowsky's work, but this time I'm not so sure. Lewandowsky's conclusion is roughly that people who don't accept the scientific consensus on climate change are more likely to accept modern day conspiracy theories like the moon landing was a hoax.

The argument goes climate deniers also support conspiracy theories which are all obviously wingnut fodder and so their climate denial can be dismissed too.  But it relies on these conspiracy theories to actually be wingnut fodder. And in my head there's still room for my cherished skeptical view of the Warren Commission report and support of the scientific consensus on climate change.

So for the record here's my thoughts on three conspiracy theories.

If the Apollo moon landing were a hoax, why didn't the Russians who were tracking Apollo by radar and at the height of the cold war call it out?

But  I simply don't buy the lone gunman theory, did you know Richard Nixon was in Dallas November 22nd 1963 ? That has to be suspicious.

I've got an interesting angle on Roswell too.  There was no UFO crash , but the authorities conspired to make it look like a UFO crash to mitigate loss of business from the closure of the military base.

  An Alien at Roswell. Good for Business 

Ok Ive not bothered to search for evidence for that one, and perhaps for 'authorities' you could read 'conspiracy theorists' themselves . But it's no bad thing that conspiracy theorists challenge everybody else's view, and for that they really don't deserve the bad press . Perhaps today's conspiracy theorist is tomorrow's Revisionist Historian. So let's stop comparing climate deniers to conspiracy theorists , it's not fair on conspiracy theorists.


Apparently this is what the McDonalds in Roswell looks like. I rest my case. (h/t Wake and Wander )

Climate *skeptics* don't doubt CO2 is a greenhouse gas, except when they do

I'm not welcome at Bishop Hill so when Andrew Montford posts some nonsense (which is pretty frequent) I have to note my corrections here.

Today Monty posts a bit of a cosy chat with Canadian industry frontman and faux environmentalist Patrick Moore. Moore begins thus : "What most people don't realize, partly because the media never explains it, is that there is no dispute over whether CO2 is a greenhouse gas, and all else being equal would result in a warming of the climate."

Really? I'm always a tad suspicious of anyone beginning their argument with 'this is what it's not about'.

Over on the right hand side of Monty's blog are the links to what Monty optimistically calls 'Science Blogs' . They include Lucy Skywalker author of an essay called "The lynching of innocent CO2" and peddles the old CO2 lags warming line. Or there's a link to the unfortunately titled No Tricks Zone which lists all these posts on CO2 and GHG so they don't miss a trick. Or there's a link to the absurdly self important Climate Realists hosting John O'Sullivans claptrap such as "Solar Ovens Prove Greenhouse Gas Theory is cooked " Oh puuuhleeeeeeez, is any further explanation necessary? No.

Odd how skepticism of CO2 being a greenhouse gas is so easy to find amongst *skeptics* also telling us that's not in dispute.  File it under the inconsistency of climate change denial.

Is it really worth reading yet another climate blogpost ?

Anthony Watts has more to say about the siting of weather stations.
I think a graphic comment is in order .

Climate *Skeptics* Shift Their Ground

The term climate skeptic leaves a hell of a lot of room for manouver.  It could mean you're skeptical of the policies or the science, or that global warming is bad or of the anthropogenic bit.

Or it could mean that you're just skeptical of one little bit of the conventional wisdom that is climate change science. In which case I can claim to be a climate skeptic too.

Last week I blogged about these words by Geoff Chambers  "We don’t deny that global tem­per­at­ures have been rising irreg­u­larly for cen­turies, and that anthro­po­genic CO2 may be respons­ible for some of the recent rise. Where we dis­agree with the con­sensus is on the higher estim­ates of cli­mate sens­it­ivity endorsed by the IPCC and the cata­strophic effects which are sup­posed inev­it­ably to follow." Skeptics are moving the goalposts here. How is global cooling or Svensmark's cosmic ray theories, say,  reflected in that statement ?

But it's a statement that makes the goalposts much much narrower, in fact it's basically unfalsifiable.

Perhaps that's why  it's a meme being explored more and more by the skeptical blog-o-sphere. Witness Jo Nova's bad tempered blogpost in which she states "the debate (which you evidently aren’t aware of) is not about whether CO2 absorbs infra red, but whether that warming effect is significant."

So who's right, the majority of the world's top scientists or Jo Nova and co?  Hell I don't know. But I'd venture the majority of the the world's top scientists trumps it because the question of the net importance of the greenhouse effect means weighing up a whole bunch of pluses and minuses to form a collective opinion. Climate skeptics cant and aren't matching that, they are merely picking holes - perhaps it should really be called Climate Pedantry.

Jo Nova is author of The Skeptics Handbook which states (amongst other things): "Proof of Global Warming is not proof that greenhouse gases caused that warming" I'm looking forward to reading how Jo Nova has disowned that work.

Donna's Magnificent Contradiction

Touring the Lucky Country giving speeches about how wrong climate scientists are must be nice work if you can get it, but Donna Laframboise has been getting her knickers in a twist about a consensus statement on coral reefs and climate change.

Donna's beef is that not only do the scientists agree, but they display no doubt about their findings. "The statement doesn’t sound scientific, however. For one thing, the language isn’t circumspect" moans Donna.

She's written an entire blog post entitled Delusions Down Under which argues that the statement from the Center for Ocean Solutions is invalid because it is worded with certainty.  Leading to a conclusion of her own that a "magnificent self-delusion" has taken hold of the coral reef scientists.

This is the same Donna Laframboise who wrote a book dissing the IPCC consensus.  In which , musing on a favourite climate *skeptic* meme Donna wrote "it isn't terribly plausible that scientists [...] can know for certain that current temperature fluctuations aren't part of a [...] natural cycle."

So for Donna only certainty from scientists is good enough, except when scientists are certain and then it's not good at all.

Whoops Climate Denier Blog Caught Out Rewriting the Record Books

Another clanger from the unfortunately titled No Tricks Zone blog which claims "...not a hurricane seen in years".  Cue Wikipedia for rebuttal of that one : 'When Tropical Storm Debby formed on June 23, it was the first time ever that four storms formed before July, since reliable record keeping began in 1851.'

Perhaps not a hurricane seen in over a week would be more accurate.

Particularly egregious though is the No Tricks Zone headline which claims Warmists are 'Rewriting History'.

Facts, who needs 'em in the climate deny-o-sphere ?

Why climate skepticism works

I think the reasons why climate *skepticism* is doing well are much more varied than reported elsewhere.

It's objectives are (whilst not easy to define from without) much lower than proponents objectives.
To the disinterested the mere existence of climate skepticism is reason enough to ally oneself with it.
It's a constantly changing narrative, a cat of many colours. That keeps the interest of adherents. Science is carrying a millstone by comparison, science's narrative is the unchanging laws of physics, so not only are climate scientists wrong they are boring.  The scientific debate is highly nuanced,  this can easily be misinterpreted to mean scientists are divided on facts.

Contrarians are always looking for a sign of "bias" in AGW but don't apply that standard to themselves. The language is loaded, and indeed has been hijacked by contrarians insisting on being called "skeptics" and not deniers.

That's just the more active climate contrarians, those you come across on the net. For every climate contrarian/skeptic that's posted something on the net there must surely be a thousand more that have never bothered to learn anything about the climate.  You know who I mean, your relative whom you only meet at weddings and funerals but is adept at parroting Fox News. How does science reach them? They are safely cocooned in the knowledge that climate change is nonsense because Someone Else Says So. 

Above all, climate skepticism is more commentary than case.  Contrarian Geoff Chambers defines skepticism thus  "We don’t deny that global tem­per­at­ures have been rising irreg­u­larly for cen­turies, and that anthro­po­genic CO2 may be respons­ible for some of the recent rise. Where we dis­agree with the con­sensus is on the higher estim­ates of cli­mate sens­it­ivity endorsed by the IPCC and the cata­strophic effects which are sup­posed inev­it­ably to follow."

That may come as a surprise to many of the more casual climate contrarians/skeptics who think global warming is all a hoax or that it's all been disproved 'cos University of East Anglia scientists were caught sending and receiving emails , or that the world is in fact cooling.

Someone Else Says So may be a rational way of forming an opinion on what shoes to wear this autumn, but not on an issue as important as climate.  It seems to me that the Someone Else Says So meme should really be populating the don't know camp but is in fact supporting an ill-informed brand of climate skepticism.

Ben Pile. Qualified pundit or bullshit artist?

If so-called climate skeptics want to project one falsehood above all others it's that their quest is a dispassionate search for truth in the spirit of openness. Ben Pile obligingly demolishes that sacred cow by refusing to answer a simple question :

Ben's answer is a question of his own :

This is all in the context of a 2650 word rant in which Ben dismisses prominent academic Professor Stephan Lewandowsky as “nothing more than a bullshit artist". It is those words (which are also an ad-hominem attack) that make his own qualifications germane. I could add that Ben frequently writes for Spiked on the subject of climate change and environmentalism and he is also environment advisor to Godfrey Bloom MEP. That's right,  a legislator in the European Parliament who frequently lambasts climate science chooses to get his scientific advice from a man who is embarrassed to reveal his own scientific qualifications.   

Of course Ben's entitled to his opinions, but are those opinions informed by any relevant educational qualifications or not? Sadly that's a question no so called climate skeptics are asking. 

Bizarrely Ben describes my contribution as a "a mealy-mouthed attack on my qualification to speak about Lewandowsky’s bullshit."  Emphasis added. So Ben is clearly alluding to a qualification that he isn't prepared to reveal, and he considers probing in that quarter to be off-limits.  Ben, if you're reading this, what is your qualification? That is all I'm asking .

Indeed Ben has now deleted our entire exchange from his blog. I wonder if he would claim that deletion is in the spirit of openness and a dispassionate search for truth.

Where’s the beef?

Just a comment I wrote originally in response to an article in The Ecologist, which now seems to have been pulled. But never mind it can still be found on the GM Watch website

Personally I'm very suspicious of GM . I certainly wouldn't choose to eat it given a choice , which I have since I'm fortunate enought to live in a country where nobody is starving .
Rothamsted gives us a burning question. Is Non-Violent Direct Action justified ?  From reading the above my inchoate though firm belief is that it is not.
Yes, the LM mob make uncomfortable bedfellows , but I don’t see how their place in all this tells us anything about the safety or otherwise of the trial, which is the key issue .  Same with Moloney and his past links with Monsanto.  Bringing up Monsanto is misleading because Monsanto have nothing to do with this trial . And I don't doubt that under current conditions it would be hard to sell the wheat, but consumer demand isn’t an indicator of safety either.
There's an awful lot of froth in Jonathan Matthews argument with no killer point to justify  activist's claims to be 'decontaminating' the site. Farmer Smith gets closest to the mark but his main question is economic .   The question of whether the trial would contaminate the UK's wheat suppply is also apt ,  and it's been addressed by reference to an incident involving the US rice supply.  I'm not qualified to consider the merits and demerits of that argument but the conclusion "triggering a massive market loss, as a result of GM rice trials" strongly suggests those concerns amount to loss of consumer confidence rather than some feared viral strain of wheat taking hold of England's green and pleasant land.
If there was a scientific debate about the safety of this GM trial I'd support the Direct Action in principle. But a debate on Newsnight between activists and academics doesn't meet that  criteria.
These are interesting times. I'm not sure I get  Jonathan Matthews point that 'the Rothamsted scientists seem content to gamble our food security...' but I do wonder how Green concerns that scientists have got it wrong in GM are compatible with the very real alliance between science and Greens in climate.

Telegraph Windfarm Factfail

A recent Telegraph intereview of  laugh out loud funny anglophile American Bill Bryson focuses on windfarms. A dog-whistle to Telegraph readers and one which facts are routinely sacrificed to satisfy the Telegraph's fulminations.

"Mr Bryson, President of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said the [wind] turbines will destroy the countryside" an aesthetic judgment blurring the distinction between fact and opinion, but let's move on.

"A CPRE report shows most of the turbines are being built in areas of outstanding natural beauty " writes Louise Gray

This surprised me so I took a look at the report. Lo and behold paragraph 23:  "National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty have, on the whole, been protected from wind turbines within their borders..."

Having mangled that simple fact, I'm averse to sharing the Telegraph's view on the aesthetics of wind turbines.

Nato Summit Epic Fail

Here's what I know about Military Grand Strategy. It's mostly about putting your pieces where they are to the best advantage.  Try not to place your cavalry in more than a couple of feet of water. Keep the Catering Corps to the rear or it'll end badly. Submarines never work well on high ground. That sort of thing.

Now I'm no Clausewitz, what I've written above is pretty elementary stuff , there is more to it than that . But basically think carefully where you put your pieces is a good start.

This weekend, the good people of Chicago are being frisked by airport style security before they ride on their underground railway . Why ?  Because some fuckwit generals decided to hold their NATO Summit 2012 in a venue above the Metra underground railway. 

If I was a general I'd put the summit somewhere not above an underground railway. Rather than put it there and then get the local cops to hand out flyers like this, impinging on everyone's civil rights, and giving us good cause to want to blow up your world leaders. Sheeesh. Let's hope the NATO general that thought this one up doesn't get to do the next big invasion.

H/t @PWeiskel08

Heartland. The Inevitable Downfall Parody

Exclusive footage as the last of Heartland's donors reconsider their position

Enough of Nazis already ? Time to watch Lee Camp's new Moment of Clarity on the way the world really is .  It is Cool.


MEPs with Nothing to Declare

It's that time of year again - Members of the European Parliaments have to declare their financial interests.  And new rules mean MEPs now have to disclose their occupations for the three years before boarding the gravy train, I mean Parliament.

The European Parliament say the new code's 'guiding principle is transparency' and 'MEPs will have to state, publicly and on line, any professional activity performed during the three years before their election, as well as any membership of any board of companies, NGOs and/or associations held during that period or currently.'

Some of our MEPs have found a novel way round the code of conduct, submit the form but with nothing written on it.  Tory Malcolm Harbour  has written nothing at all on his declaration of interests. UKIP boss Nigel Farage writes NOT APPLICABLE in answer to the European Parliament's impertinent questions.  And climate denier Godfrey Bloom writes nothing at all on his declaration and hasn't even signed it.

It's a matter of public record that Bloom was employed and on the Board of his company TBO Investments before becoming an MEP . Records from Companies House prove that.  TBO investments was fined £28000 by the Financial Services Authority for improper risk evaluation. The press release from the FSA cites that TBO's offences date from December 2001. So Bloom's failure to declare his link to TBO is not merely happenstance, he became an MEP in May 2004 three years after TBO's failings began.  That's Bloom, lying whilst staying schtum.

Link to declaration of interests for Harbour .
Link to declaration of interests for Farage .
Link to declaration of interests for Bloom .

Monty turns the Unabomber ads Upside-down

"Is there one rule for upholders of the climate orthodoxy and another for dissenters?" asks blogger Andrew Montford. Since Monty routinely deletes any comment I post on his blog and even attempts to block me from viewing it I'll have to offer my answer here.

Monty's gripe today is that Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik is a climate denier.  No, to be more precise Monty's gripe is that Graham Readfearn's blog supporting the consensus has noted Breivik's manifesto actually cites the work of Lord Christopher Monckton, Alex Jones and Steve McIntyre and echoes the beliefs of many climate change deniers. Whilst what Graham Readfearn writes in DeSmogBlog happens to be perfectly true Monty isn't shy to argue for it to be censored.

This is of course in response to, and to detract from,  Heartland's notorious Unabomber ads splashed over the Eisenhower Expressway Illinois.

But there are four important differences between Readfearn's commentary and Heartland's ads which have passed Montford by:

  • The Breivik story is contemporary. The minutiae of his 'personality' are being picked over by the mass media. Whereas the Unabomber has been on the inside of a Federal Penitentiary for 16 years now.
  • Breivik's climate denial leanings are co-incidental to his crimes . Readfearn is careful not to imply that  a trait of mass murder is to be on the wrong side of the climate debate.
  • By contrast Heartland make exactly that claim in their commentary . The ads put forward no science whatsoever so they can't really be called skepticism. Heartland say in their press release:  "The people who still believe in man-made global warming are mostly on the radical fringe of society. This is why the most prominent advocates of global warming aren't scientists. They are murderers, tyrants, and madmen" 
  • The Unabomber ad intends to make an empirical argument to the public, whereas this particular blogpost by Readfearn is largely preaching to the choir and is confined to commentary not scientific argument.

Advertising in a public context requires standards of decency, half the story here is how Heartland lack that. The other half is not the overlap between a mass murderer's views and Montford's; it's Montford's demand that other bloggers should recoil from noting that.


Get on yer bike Vanessa

 For the back story click here and here

This morning I found myself listening to BBC Radio London. The Vanessa Feltz phone-in had Mr Addison Lee a.k.a. John Griffin spouting bollocks about cyclists. The basic premise of the programme was 'are cyclists bad road users?' I called the radio station twice but didn't get on air so here in a nutshell is what I told them. Firstly I said it's entirely inappropriate to allow John Griffin to agitate against cyclists whilst not mentioning that he is also inciting his 2500 drivers to break the law. The producer/telephonist said he might get back to me, he didn't. I called again to set straight a different point that road tax is levied against emissions and that Griffin's "pay up" demand was a red herring. "So are you pro bike or anti bike?" asked the producer/telephonist. I pointed out that it's not that simple but if you're going to frame it like that I'm pro bike. Again I was told they might get back to me - they never did.

I'm wondering if the producers screen out sensible voices in order to create conflict, and hence a story. Most of the callers seemed to support Griffin with nothing more than anecdotal evidence. But I really think my points should have been made up front.

Griffin's hypocrisy knows no bounds. He calls for restrictions for cyclists whilst calling on his own mini cabbies to break the law and drive in road space reserved for cyclists. When this point was made to Feltz she said "what's that got to do with cyclists then?"(37:20).  Griffin also says (12:40) "I'm not in the business of breaking the law" , that's not true, and he was not challenged on that.

The worst point that was made was that cars have side impact protection and air bags and bikes do not. Hang on a mo' Vanessa, the idea behind air bags is to make your car safer for you, not for making the Queen's highway into a stock car race. Sheeesh.

Vanessa's broadcast was simply irresponsible because it used a broad brush to polarize road users. Yet we all have a right to use limited road space, until John Griffin acknowledges that he shouldn't be allowed to use the BBC as a platform. In short cyclists need a union to fight against this kind of prejudice.

Olympics are worst thing for Londoners - it's Official

The Olympics are coming to town, you can be sure of it because they are going to have their own express lanes through OUR traffic jams. But Olympic VIPs don't just get to speed past ambulances on the roads - they've enjoyed a superhighway through the legislative process too with get this Bespoke Legislation . And if that aint enough just mentioning London 2012 could land you in hot water with Seb Coe and his cronies. Yes, you can't say come to London in 2012 unless you are a sponsor of the Olympics.

So, as a Londoner in 2012 throughout that charade I might feel a little resentful towards these sponsors . But I better not have a heart attack 'cos the ambulance taking me to hospital would be gridlocked 'til  London 2012 sorry, the games are over.

To relieve us of this ire Greenwash Gold are asking "Who is the worst Olympic sponsor of 2012?" It's a tough call, but the organizers have narrowed it down to three. Tar sands developer BP, monolithic mining polluter Rio Tinto and Bhopal tragedy profiteers Dow Chemical.

They're all in very bad company, in fact I sometimes wonder if it's all a parody of good taste, what with Atos Origin sponsoring the paralympics. Who's the official doctor, Harold Shipman ? Here are three official campaign vids .

Click Here to go to the Greenwash Gold site and cast your vote for the Worst Olympic Sponsor London 2012 Vote Early and Vote Often


Anthony Watts can't do Attribution

Update: This post has been substantially rewritten now that Anthony Watts has printed my comment to his blog.

Anthony Watts declares on his blog : USA’s record warm March 2012 not caused by “global warming”

To support this assertion Watts draws on the work of Dr Martin P. Hoerling of NOAA . Hoerling finds GHG forcing "likely contributed on the order of 5% to 10% of the magnitude of the heat wave" which turns Watts's headline on it's head.  Dr Martin P. Hoerling is an expert on attribution.  Anthony Watts is not.  So there's a wide gulf between the words of a NOAA scientist and what the blogger says the scientists said.  WUWT cannot reflect the highly nuanced question of attribution. And that's not opinion, that is observation.


Sophistry takes on science

 Amazon Book Review of The Hockey Stick Illusion
1 Star

This book has become something of a cult classic amongst those seeking to deny anthropogenic global warming. Telling the story of Stephen McIntyre's assault on Professor Michael Mann's temperature graph which demonstrates the steep rise in late 20th century temperatures.

The statistical methods under dispute are analysed in tedious detail by Montford, but The Hockey Stick Illusion is notable for what is left out rather than what the author has chosen to include. This sleight of hand reaches a crescendo on page 212 when Montford slips in that McIntyre would  not be offering up an alternative global temperature reconstruction but was “merely demonstrating that Mann's was not robust." This second hand unfootnoted account of where McIntyre has set the bar for his own quest is all we have to define "discredited". Whether that speaks to McIntyre's  confidence in his own work or his objectives is a good question which Montford never asks, probably because the answer would result in criticism of his hero which is outside the scope of this hagiography. 

So McIntyre's approach never actually leads to a destination, it's the journey that counts. And because Montford always faces the direction opposing scientific consensus on climate the book misleads  the reader as to the scale and importance of observed recent global warming.

This is wrong because science is what is known, not what you want it to be. Someone once described science as lighting a candle in the darkness, sadly Montford and McIntyre's science is the opposite. 

Numerous researchers have replicated the hockey stick graph but McIntyre is not one of them. A true skeptic would smell a rat at that point. A scientific theory remains valid until it has been disproved or somebody comes up with something better. Neither has happened, so this book settles for the next best thing – magnifying the uncertainties inherent in scientific research whilst translating it into a popular narrative – and because this takes place under the shadow of public policy a dash of libertarian flavour is added too. For that Mr Montford will probably be remembered as the 21st century's most successful propagandist.

GWPF paymaster is Big Oil fundraiser

So now we know. Michael Hintze the bigshot behind hedge fund CQS and Sugar Daddy to the Prime Minister is a key backer of the Global Warming Policy Foundation. Climate contrarians are claiming that Hintze has no link to big oil. That is not true.

The GWPF maintains strict secrecy about the identity of it's backers and has always claimed that it doesn't accept donations from the energy industry or individuals with a significant stake in the energy industry. Leo Hickman (h/t) explains why this part of the story was spiked "lots of hedge funds, pension funds etc have things like this but a bit of a stretch to say that means he = big oil I think"

The odd £30milllion that this appears to be worth to Hintze may seem like a drop in the ocean only because  Hintze is a billionaire, but it's still a significant sum of money.

Barry 1316 characters all for you

Despite writing for WUWT Barry Woods seems like a nice chap. He's got a chemistry degree from a redbrick university and was my first climate follower on Twitter.  I need more than 140 characters to address some minor point. So if your name's not Barry Woods CLICK ON THIS LINK you'll find it far more interesting.

Barry, you suggested that 1 or 2 degrees of warming might result in no negative impacts, I've asked to see some science to back that up but you haven't come up with any.  OK peer reviewed science apart, I've asked for you to expand your idea, but you haven't answered me.

So your notion that negative impacts can be mitigated against positive impacts needs setting straight.  The positive impacts aren't going to be felt by the same people as the negative impacts. So one can't mitigate against the other. I suggest it belies a difference in approach between right and left because broadly the left strive for social equality and the right strive to justify social inequality. You object but you're providing no support for your stance .  Sure Canadian wheat farmers are set to benefit from AGW but I don't see that assisting the plight of climate refugees living at sea level in Bangladesh, do you ?  Give me one fair example of positive impacts mitigating against negative impacts in the real world.

* Update 11:10 am: Barry tells me he also has a Masters Degree in computer modelling/cybernetics.  And  here's Barry's considered response to this post.

* Update 2: Apparently my requests for science supporting Barry's claims have 'crossed over the line' and Barry has blocked me on Twitter. 

Message for Mr Montford

I have briefly been able to view the Bishop Hill blog and catch up with the comments there, thanks to a neat little widget called HideTheIP.  Montford has now blocked my proxy IP so I don't know whether this comment (left on BH blog at approx 8.52pm 25th March 2012) has been modded , answered or deleted. 

Mr Montford,
At 9pm you asserted that I had lied about how you had reported Heartland . Well lying is a very specific allegation, if I have lied I would be delighted to apologise to you, but I am flummoxed as to what you could actually call a lie.   
The next step therefore is for you to point out the supposed lie. What are the actual words at issue ? 
It should be noted that I had already attempted to address this question before you blocked me . At 8:19 pm I asked if you would care to enlarge on your characterisation of my contributions as 'dishonest'.  You have not done so . 
I have to also observe that despite blocking me from access to your blog last night commenters here have continued to make comments about me for some time afterwards. That is hardly conducive to grown up discourse is it ?
Blocking me from reading to your blog on my PC serves no one, except of course it positions  yourself as a gatekeeper to climate skepticism .  That does not sit easily with your oft repeated claim that climate science should be more open. 
Hengist McStone

Monty slams the door

In what appears to be some kind of fit of pique I have been blocked from viewing the blog Bishop Hill on my PC . 
The blogger who runs Bishop Hill Andrew Montford has also blocked me from following him on Twitter.

I was the subject of numerous ad hominem attacks in the comments on his blog, and I suggest, rather than curb the worst excesses of his loyal followers it became easier for Mr Montford to fake outrage at me and demand contrition. It's a tactic straight out of the ex cathedra toolbox.

So what could it have been that upset Monty? Well, all I've got so far is this tweet via Barry Woods. But when I asked for moderation Monty's response was that my contributions were dishonest. He was no more specific than that. It was immediately after I asked him for substantiation of that remark that I was blocked, first by pre-moderation, with a message that my comment would become visible after an editor had approved it. Needless to say Montford has not substantiated his claim that I was dishonest, so I do not know quite what he is supposed to be outraged about, nor why I should be apologising to him. 

So where does that leave all those claims that 'climate science should be more open' when Britain's premier climate skeptic blogger has to act as gatekeeper to his own blog ?

Letting The Think Tanks Do The Thinking

First out of the traps when the Heartland docs were posted online was new darling of the skept-o-sphere Megan McArdle. Indeed the Washington D.C. based hack has penned 9732 words on the Heartland document dump , and not a single one of them actually examining the shady antics of  Heartland exposed in the documents.

In February Megan claimed "I don't blog about the science" and then went on to assert that "the science is so uncertain". Earth to Megan: scientists quantify their uncertainty, that is part of science, so the bald statement "the science is so uncertain" would disqualify her claim not to blog about the science.  But that isn't the only absurdity in Megan's stance

"I not only  believe that anthropogenic global warming is happening, but also support stiff carbon or source fuels taxes in order to combat it." MEGAN MCARDLE FEB 16th
"I've basically outsourced my opinion on the science to people like Jonathan Adler, Ron Bailey, and Pat Michaels " MEGAN MCARDLE Feb 28th

Okay let's forgive the management speak. What kind of ardent advocate of carbon taxes picks this likely trio as experts on anthropogenic global warming?

Ron Bailey holds a degree in philosophy and economics,  he is the author of Eco-Scam: The False Prophets of Ecological Apocalypse published by the Cato Institute .  Jonathan Adler worked for the Competitive Enterprise Institute for nine years,and before that was an intern at Cato , his area of expertise - Law.  Pat Michaels the only actual scientist amongst Megan's 'experts'  needs no introduction, oh, he's a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute . So all three of them have close ties to think tanks,  all three of them have ties to the Cato Institute.
So Megan's claim to believe in global warming can be likened to supporting Arsenal, but having all your favourite players from Spurs.  Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that Megan has outsourced her rationale to the Think Tanks.

Ethical conundrums confound Monty

The Gleick affair continues to bound around the blogosphere. James Garvey in the Grauniad asks whether Gleick's ethical lapse could be offset by the positives from exposing Heartland's dirty dealings.  I'm circumspect because we really need to see how climate scientists view this. But Andrew Montford is not so shy, boldly denouncing it as  Garvey's "OK to lie" article.

When I point out to Monty that Garvey said nothing of the sort Monty retreats to note that Garvey actually said 'it depends'

Well if Monty cannot see the difference between the two positions I'm really not sure he is cut out for ethical punditry. Of course the self styled Bishop is a newbie to ethical questions . Despite squeezing the word 'climategate' onto the subtitle of his book nowhere in the Hockey Stick Illusion did Andrew Montford examine the ethics of drawing conclusions from hacked material nor criticize the hacker.

Email exchange between myself and Harold Ambler

For clarity here is the exact correspondence between myself and Harold Ambler :

Subject :  A couple of questions raised by your book
Hi Harold, Ive read the first chapter of your book (in PDF form), very interesting. I was intrigued by your statement about Antarctica that "the record maximum value for the ice occurred in 2007." Please could you tell me where did this fact come from? What do you mean by value, coverage or volume or some other measure ?
You also tell us that "One day, anywhere from ten years from now to 10,000 years from now, the inevitable slide back into full glaciation will occur" . Where does the estimate that glaciation could start as soon as 'ten years from now' originate ?
Hengist McStone

Subject Re:  A couple of questions raised by your book
 Dear Sir,

You have not read the first chapter of my book. You have read a chapter of my book, the fourth.

Neither of these facts is controversial or difficult to locate. In this one instance I have done your homework for you, but will decline future requests.

Thank you,

Harold Ambler

for Antarctic sea ice:

NSIDC shows same thing

for length of interglacials, there many sources, but the most widely cited one is

Petit et al. 1999

Did Heartland Insider write the accompanying email?

How come Keith Kloor's account of how the Heartland documents came to be made public is at odds with every other account?

The story was broken on Valentine's Day by Brendan DeMelle of DeSmogBlog who wrote "documents obtained by DeSmogBlog expose the heart of the climate denial machine".  DeMelle also writes "We are releasing the entire trove of documents now" Later that day Richard Littlemore (also of DeSmogBlog) wrote a post saying that the anonymous source of the documents used the pseudonym Heartland Insider. DeSmogBlog host the documents. The story was picked up by the fringes of the MSM mostly crediting DeSmogBlog , I have yet to see an MSM account which quibbles that DeSmogBlog broke the story, exclusively.

Keith Kloor breaks the story on his blog the following day after it had already garnered some MSM coverage and he speculates that the Heartland Insider was 'a recently fired employee or someone still there [..] not feeling a lot of love for [Heartland President] Bast'. This is Kloor's account of what happened next :

'The whistleblower/insider sent an email around to a bunch of folks yesterday, which got forwarded to me. While the documents have been disseminated on the internet, nobody reporting on this appears to have mentioned the accompanying email' 
Dear Friends (15 of you):
In the interest of transparency, I think you should see these files from the Heartland Institute. Look especially at the 2012 fundraising and budget documents, the information about donors, and compare to the 2010 990 tax form. But other things might also interest or intrigue you. This is all I have. And this email account will be removed after I send.

There's no header information or metadata. We don't even know who the 15 original recipients of that email are. We do know that Kloor was not one of them.  We don't know whether this email contained attachments or links to the docs. And we don't know when this email was originally sent to it's original recipients. When pressed to reveal more his response is "Alas, as I mentioned in my post, just the email itself was forwarded to me. And because I’m at a conference, I don’t have the capacity to dig into this."

Alas without seeing the email on Keith Kloor's hard drive neither do we.

I should caution that it's plausible that Kloor's and DeSmogBlog's accounts simply differ by omission in which case these differing accounts show a wide gulf between what each blogger feels relevant. The email might have been from Heartland Insider, but it could equally be from someone drawing attention to what he/she had read on DeSmogBlog.

Heartland . Astroturfing ?

Taken a peek at the Heartland documents yet? Of course you have.

The most interesting of the Heartland documents appears to be the Fundraisng Plan which mentions Major Projects.  Page 19 appears to indicate an astroturfing operation .

"Heartland has been one of the most outspoken defenders of fracking in the U.S., using
Environment & Climate News, its Web sites, and its PR and GR operations to comment repeated on the issue and reach large audiences. "

The document goes on to state that Heartland plans to raise money from businesses with an interest in fracking in 2012.

We also learn in this document about the funding of Anthony Watts weather station project and numerous references to the Anonymous Donor. Heartland's ambition to get their curriculum for pseudoscience into schools through the work of Dr David Wojick, is discussed at some length.  So the question 'what shall we tell the children?' has already been asked and answered for us by right wing U.S. think tanks.

The Ice Age Cometh warns pseudoscience book (without supporting facts)

I've asked the author of a new book to substantiate a couple of his claims (which can be found in this PDF). Here's his bad tempered reply :

Dear Sir,
You have not read the first chapter of my book. You have read a chapter of my book, the fourth.
Neither of these facts is controversial or difficult to locate.In this one instance I have done your homework for you, but will decline future requests.
Thank you, 
Harold Ambler

Harold's quip that he's done my homework for me doesn't quite hit home. A claim that runs contrary to conventional wisdom needs to be supported by the author, so discovery of that support is Harold's homework not mine.  And I have to suggest Harold's indication that he will decline future requests is not irritability, it's because Harold is unable to support all his claims. And Harold knows it.

So let's look at how he supports his claims. I wrote to Harold "I was intrigued by your statement about Antarctica that "the record maximum value for the ice occurred in 2007." Please could you tell me where did this fact come from? What do you mean by value, coverage or volume or some other measure ?" And his response is to cite this graph.  I note that Skeptical Science has an answer to that point, but let's move on.

Harold's book also contains these words  "One day, anywhere from ten years from now to 10,000 years from now, the inevitable slide back into full glaciation will occur"  I asked Harold how he arrived at his estimate that the next ice age could could be due as soon as 'ten years from now' ?  His response is Petit et al. 1999.  From the abstract of Petit we can see that it is a reading of the Vostok Ice Core, observational, not predictive. Petit et al 1999 does not support Ambler's assertion that the next ice age could begin as soon as ten years from now.

This is exactly what skeptics should be looking for. Climate change alarmism, based on misrepresentation of science.  

Earth to Harold : You're entitled to your own opinion but you're not entitled to your own facts.

I should add that so called skeptics like Watts and Montford have both puffed Harold's book lending credence to pseudoscience again. And unsupported pseudoscience at that.

You've heard of fast food now it's fast ethics.

I normally steer clear of animal welfare issues but McDonald's are always a deserving target of anybody's ire.

McDonalds are stopping the use of gestation stalls have asked suppliers to outline their plans to phase out the use of sow gestation stalls (quite beastly cages for pregnant sows if you must know).  They tell us so in a press release here.

The take home point here is that gestation stalls were fine for McDonald's until now. But the moment McDonalds express concern about gestation stalls is the moment they garner good publicity for themselves. Before they've actually changed anything. This isn't a corporation with a conscience it's a corporation with a very clever PR strategy. It's a strategy worth emulating by making a blogpost expressing my instant distaste for McDonalds. 

H/t Grist

First denialist review of Mann - published without actually reading it

Publication of Dr Michael Mann's long awaited new book The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines sends the deny-o-sphere into a spin of kneejerk punditry. First out of the traps is blogger Tom Nelson who only manages to blog that a keyword search on Kindle yielded hits for "denier" "Morano" "McIntyre" and "Watts".Yup Tom, it's a book, got words in it.

Quite how that constitutes a review is anyone's guess. But it's good enough for Watts Up With That who then urge readers not to review the book without reading it. But Anthony - that's precisely what Tom has just done.

This nonsense is continuing to barrel round the echo chamber with multiple negative reviews on Amazon from the same reviewer. Contrary to Amazon rules. A practice this blog notes climate deniers have form on.

Where are the skeptics ?

A stage magician cuts his assistant in half.  A skeptic would reason that some kind of visual trick is at work, that the girl has not really been chopped in two.

The climate blog-o-sphere is quite different though.  Andrew Montford makes a Freedom of Information request to the Met Office asking for Sir John Houghton's emails relating to AR3. The respondent answers that they do not hold any such emails. Monty then writes a blogpost concluding "it appears that Sir John has deleted historic records".

Observation nothing - conclusion scandal.

I've tried asking "How can you be sure that he holds emails relating to AR3 ?" Needless to say Monty meets that line of questioning with a stony silence.

Climate *skeptics* rewrite Sagan. Can they sink any lower ?

Carl Sagan was one of the greats of science communication. Often remembered for his epic Cosmos (well worth revisiting, available on You Tube) he was also the instigator of the Pioneer 10 plaque which carries humanity's message across the galaxy. Thus long after you and I have turned to dust Carl Sagan's work will still be on it's interstelllar voyage . 

Vloggers have divided up much of Carl Sagan's work into bite sized chunks like 'pale blue dot' which gives an astrophyscist's perspective on our environment . Tear to the eye stuff.

Hat tip to Climate Crocks for finding this film which directly addresses the question of anthropogenic global warming .

Sagan died in 1996 at the age of 62.

2012 and a guest blogger on the Bishop Hill blog lifts a passage from chapter IV of Dr Sagan's book Cosmos and posits that Sagan would have opposed the AGW consensus and the IPCC.  A staggeringly cynical use of a widely respected dead scientist to attack the IPCC and make a partisan point. Does make one wonder what next for the Bishop Hill blog , Charles Darwin blogs on Dark Matter perhaps or Euclid's thoughts on the PIP implant scandal? 

Book Review : The Self Illusion

Another Book Review for Amazon this time I've read The Self Illusion by Professor Bruce Hood which is free ! Five Stars :

Fascinating look at how the brain works and what the 'self' is inside it  (or otherwise). Hood puts forward the view that the 'self' is really just a construct of the brain. This might be controversial and whilst still science his work takes the reader to the edge of philosophy.

Hood reveals plenty along the way such as "We now know that the unborn baby can learn the sound of their mother’s voice, develop a preference for the food she eats while pregnant and even remember the theme tune to the TV soap operas she watches while waiting for the big day to arrive."

Fans of The Matrix will be delighted to learn that it is 'not that far off the mark when it comes to understanding the nature of the human mind' according to the Professor. Indeed Hood is very excited about the internet "I tell my own children that they are living during one of the major transitions in human civilization, that humankind is currently in the midst of the next great evolutionary leap." Probably he didn't mean to sound Maoist there. This inspiring work is well worth a read, as Hood observes 'It is one of most exciting times to be alive in the history of humankind.'

No prior knowledge of neuroscience is required, you will learn a bit about dopamine and how it makes the anticipation of reward more satisfying than reward itself. Just as well , Professor Hood promises us a fuller version of this free ebook later in the year.