A commentary of “The Hot Topic“, the new book on Climate Change by Sir David King (with Gabrielle Walker) in the February 2008 issue of the spiked review of books:
The King of ‘Climate Porn’
A new book by the UK government’s former chief scientific adviser sheds yet more heat than light on the global warming debate – despite its promises of balance.
by Tony Gilland
Mr Gilland does not sound impressed with the thoughts of somebody, like Sir David, that once described climate change as a worse threat than terrorism. Here a few quotes:
[…] The Hot Topic adds about as much cool science and clarity to the global warming debate as the celebrity chef wars add to our understanding of nutrition […]
[…] As soon as you go beyond the jacket of The Hot Topic, King and Walker seem less interested in promoting understanding and reasoned debate than in foisting a one-sided account of climate science, coupled with narrow and constraining policy prescriptions, on to their readers. […]
[…] what is probably most irritating about The Hot Topic is the way in which one particular response to global warming is promoted as the only sensible response – do everything possible to restrict climate change to no more than two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels – without providing any sense of the substantial controversy that surrounds such a target. […]
[…] Ultimately Walker and King appear to regard their trump card as the threat of the Greenland Ice Sheet melting […] they point out that ‘the vulnerability of Greenland depends on aspects of its internal dynamics that are as yet uncertain’ […] What Walker and King do not draw their readers’ attention to is the fact that the IPCC has excluded such factors from their projections […]
There is something supremely odd about the results published on the E-Day website.
The Energy Saving Day (E-Day) has been a UK-based “experiment” running between 6PM GMT on Feb 27 to 6PM GMT on Feb 28, “to show how even small energy saving measures can be made to add up, and potentially play a part in tackling climate change.”
Fact is that nothing has added up, and consumption has been higher than expected all through the day. At 4:21GMT it was showing “current savings” of -4.8% and “total savings” of -1.6%.
That is, the UK was actually “wasting” energy, compared to the predicted values according to National Grid.
At 13:42GMT, “current savings” was -1.6%, and “total savings” -0.8%. No sign of any “total savings of money, energy and carbon associated with E-Day” that were supposed to be “calculated and made available in time of the evening news bulletins“.
On the website it is also displayed a chart of ongoing energy consumption, with a green line for the actual values and a red line for the predicted ones.
Having followed that on and off for most of the day, I only noticed around 4pm finally, for the first time since the beginning of the E-Day the green curve dipping just a little bit below the red one.
For the rest of the day, the green line was consistently and evidently above the red line: that means, the UK has kept consuming more energy than usual, thereby nullifying the whole point of the E-Day.
Imagine my surprise then checking the site at 6PM today (officially the closing time of the e-day) to see “current savings” of -1.5% and
(a) “total savings” of -0.1%
(b) green and red lines almost exactly superimposed, with the red one slightly higher above the other in two points, and the green one shooting up only at the very end
The above is simply not possible…the only way for savings to go from -0.8% at 1342GMT to -0.1% at 1800GMT would have been for actual consumption to be significantly below the predicted one.
And the graph does not show at all the giant 4:21GMT wastage of 4.8%.
The only explanation is that the E-Day organizers have retroactively moved the “predicted” red line up just enough to show a negligible difference with the actual “consumed” green line.
Fudge or fraud? Let’s see what they report:
E-Day did not succeed in cutting the UK’s electricity demand. The drop in temperature between Wed 27 Feb and Thurs 28 Feb days probably caused this, as a result of more lights and heating being left on than were originally predicted. The National Grid refined their assessments, based on actual weather data, during Thursday afternoon but I am afraid that E-Day did not achieve the scale of public awareness or participation needed to have a measurable effect. I will do my best to learn the relevant lessons for next time. Thank you to everyone who helped me or left something off specially as their contribution to E-Day, and this Leave It Off experiment. Please enjoy E-Day’s solution, video and science sections which all worked well. Warmest regards, Matt
So they admit they have changed the rules on-the-fly. But blaming the temperatures doesn’t appear a smart move. How are they supposed to demonstrate “how even small energy saving measures can be made to add up” if all it takes is a minor “drop in temperature” (if one indeed has happened!) to nullify every effort?
The organizers have said they were hoping for +3% savings. National Grid must have “refined their assessments” by around 2%, and the almost absolute coincidence between the final green and red lines looks very very suspicious.
I am not even sure the UK experienced as a whole a “drop in temperature” (London definitely did not). And how come nobody thought nor said beforehand a thing about possible variations due to temperature changes?
Let’s leave aside the “solution, video and science sections which all worked well” shall we. Is that some kind of a joke?
Obviously a lot of work has gone into organising the E-Day: if it has been an abysmal failure on all fronts (and it has), that should be a major learning point (nobody cares? switch-offs are less important than thought?).
Otherwise, it’s all a touchy-feely web equivalent of snake oil.
As of 4:21GMT
Current savings: -4.8%
Total savings: -1.6%
(ie: no savings at all. Energy Saving Day, that started 10 hours ago, at 18:00 GMT, has so far meant a net waste of energy)
Consumption on the e-day has actually been consistently larger than usual since the beginning. They are running now some 6000 MWh behind schedule.
Perhaps it’s due to people checking out how the e-day is going?
And with e-days like these…who needs a SUV???
(originally published as “Venus Forecast” on Aug 17. 2007):
(first post in a series dedicated to the planet Venus as “example” of runaway greenhouse warming)
Venus post #1: Venus: Cool Greenhouse?
Venus post #2: Venus Warming Revisited
Venus post #3: Venus Missing Greenhouse Warming
Venus post #4: Venus and a Thicker-Atmosphere Earth
In a few years, the old ideas of Fred Singer will come back into fashion.
Venus’ retrograde rotation, incredibly massive atmosphere and relatively young (<500 million years) surface will be elegantly explained by the crash of a massive satellite half a billion years ago (with subsequent melting of much if not the whole crust, and humongous outgassing).
UPDATE FEB 28 2008: Space.com: Venus Mysteries Blamed on Colossal Collision
Current lead-melting surface temperatures will be just as beautifully explained by simple adiabatic processes.
The role of CO2 in the heating of the atmosphere via some “greenhouse effect” will be seriously reconsidered and almost completely dismissed.
Some quick computations:
Ratio of available solar energy Venus/Earth: 190%
Earth, surface pressure: 1000 mbar; temperature: 288K
Venus, 50km altitude pressure: 1000 mbar; temperature: 330K
330K/288K = 114% < 190%
Venus, surface pressure: 90,000 mbar; temperature: 735K
Temperature of terrestrial air compressed from 288K/1,000mbar to 90,000mbar: 887K
735K/887K = 82.9% < 190%
Far from showing any CO2-induced global warming, Venus is much cooler than expected, likely because of the high-altitude clouds that prevent us from looking at the surface.
More evidence that things may change, but human nature doesn’t…at least on the centennial timescale:
Astronomer Giovanni Battista Donati writes in 1872:
It is true that everything undergoes transformation; but yet everything also repeats itself, and is reproduced in the eternal, universal, and cyclical course of nature. The rains, the heats, the frosts, the storms, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, comets, falling stars, auroras, sicknesses, etc., etc., have in our days been on such a scale as has never before been remembered. Man easily forgets the past, exaggerates the present, and fancifully speculates on the future. Hence the greater part of vain fears, and of hopes that are not less vain.
Wholly convinced that civilizations make climate milder as they progress, Italian poet and essayist extraordinaire Giacomo Leopardi wrote about Anthropogenic Climate Change around 1832 (from “Thoughts”, “Pensieri”):
(39) […] I think everybody will remember having heard from his parents several times, just as I remember hearing from mines, that years have become colder than they were, and winters longer; and that when they were younger, already around Easter they would leave the winter clothes for the summer ones; whilst such a change today, or so they say, is only bearable in May, and sometimes in June.
And not many years ago, some physicists seriously searched for a cause to this alleged cooling of the seasons. Some said it was the fault of the deforestation of the mountains, and some others said something else I don’t remember: all to explain a fact that is not happening: because actually, on the contrary, it has been noted, for example, in quotes from ancient writers, that Italy at the time of the Romans must have been cooler than today.
That is wholly believable as experience makes apparent that as the men’s civilization progresses, so the air, in the lands inhabited by them, gets progressively milder: and such an effect has been evident in America where, so to speak, according to memory, a fully-fledged civilization has replaced in part a barbarian state, and in part empty deserts. […]
[One and a half centuries ago Magalotti wrote] in the Family Letters: “It is certain that seasons’ natural order is worsening. Here in Italy it is common saying and lamentation that the half-seasons have disappeared; and in this confusion, it’s without doubt that the cold is advancing. I have heard my father that in his youth, in Rome, on the morning of Easter Sunday, everybody would change into summer clothes. Nowadays whoever can afford not to sell his shirt, I can tell you he’s very careful not to abandon any winter piece of clothing”. This is what Magalotti wrote in 1683.
Italy would be cooler than Greenland, if between then and now, it would have cooled as much as they were saying at the time.
It goes almost without saying that the continuous cooling that is said to be occurring due to intrinsic reasons in the Earth mass, is of no interest whatsoever with the present thoughts, as it is so slow to be impossible to appreciate in tens of centuries, let alone a few years.
An interesting window on how people justified changes in climatic conditions when there was no much talk about CO2:
From page 111 (155 of 790 in the Hitler Table Talks file):
We owe the present fertility of our soil to the deforestation of Italy. If it weren’t for that, the warm winds of the South would not reach as far as here. Two thousand years ago Italy was still wooded, and one can imagine how our untilled countries must have looked.
Well, that is a description of Anthropogenic Climate Change: only, of a different sort.
Given Mussolini’s ideas on planting million of trees to cool down and strengthen up the Italians, one wonders if anybody was getting worried about an upcoming climate war, already at the time…