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Archive for August, 2008

From Chicken and Egg, to CO2 and Fuel

Which one came first…the push to consume less fuel, or the worry that CO2 could be near dangerous, climate-tipping levels?

Who knows? For certain, some statements by EU officials do make one wonder…

We do see reports of a significant change in the types of cars people are buying, but I’ve been mostly surprised at the lack of a reaction,” [towards meeting emissions control targets] said Peder Jensen, a transportation expert at the European Environment Agency, an arm of the European Union in Copenhagen. “One had hoped that these prices would deter driving, but people have coped better than we hoped they would.”

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Enough With the Prostitution of Science

2008/08/29 1 comment

Dr Michael Fitzpatrick takes advantage of the publication of two new books on the lies behind much of the anti-AIDS campaigns to make a strong point about the dangerous coupling of political interests with experts’ high-minded society-changing goals:

in a 1996 commentary on the British AIDS campaign […] journalist Mark Lawson accepted that the public had been misled over the threat of AIDS, but argued that the end of promoting sexual restraint (especially among the young) justified the means (exaggerating the risk of HIV infection): as he put it, ‘the government has lied and I am glad’.

This sort of opportunism is not confined to AIDS: in other areas where experts are broadly in sympathy with government policy – such as passive smoking, obesity and climate change – they have been similarly complicit in the prostitution of science to propaganda.

A few details that may or may not sound quite close to contemporary AGW campaigning:

  • the AIDS bureaucracy [is] a ‘byzantine’ world…in which ‘money eclipses truth’.
  • the British AIDS story is an example of a ‘glorious myth’ – a tale that is ‘gloriously or nobly false’, but told ‘for a good cause’.
  • ‘estimates and projections are “cooked” or made up’.
  • [they were] manipulating statistics to maximise their scare value
  • exaggerated claims for the scale of the HIV epidemic (and the risks of wider spread) […] enable authorities to claim the credit for subsequently lower figures, as they ‘ride to glory’ on curves showing declining incidence
  • the main problem of the mendacity […] is that it leads to misdirected, ineffective and wasteful campaigns […] while the real problems […] are neglected
  • over the past decade, mainstream AIDS scientists, including most infectious disease epidemiologists, have virtually all uncritically accepted the many “glorious” myths and misconceptions UNAIDS and AIDS activists continue to perpetuate’

Alpine Melt Reveals…There’s Nothing Special About Today’s Climate

2008/08/27 3 comments

An interesting piece of news from the BBC that screams out very loud “there is nothing special about today’s climate“.

Yet, it’s all to be read between the lines, as the “greenhouse gases” are taken as the current warming’s culprit as a matter of course (i.e. without thinking).

Basically, alpine archeologists are having a field day (ha! ha!) with retreating glaciers exposing very, very ancient human artifacts. It should go without saying that if humans were up there at a time when gore-tex had not been invented and mountaineering superstores were not around, it must have been considerably warm. Also, everything buried under a glacier must have been there before the glacier trundled by.

So it must have been warm around 3,300BC and 4,500BC. How about the rest of the time? I have found this graph online. Once again, it’s in Italian, but should not be difficult to decypher. It shows how temperatures have changed in the Western Alps during the last 11,000 years (Western Swiss Alps, I understand, as the graph is supposed to be from the University in Berne):

Western Alps temperatures during the last 11,000 years

Western Alps temperatures during the last 11,000 years

Quick analysis:
  • Present temperatures are relatively high compared to the past
  • The 16C threshold has been touched, for the 5th time in 10,000 years
  • It’s the 7th time that temperatures are on the way up, even without considering the increase immediately following the last Ice Age

Furthermore: whoever put that arrow shooting skywards, must be a comedian (or an involuntary comedian). Climatechangeology is a naked science indeed.

How Is Solar Cycle 24 Doing?

2008/08/27 2 comments
Spotless Periods

Spotless Periods

This page about solar cycle 24 is in Italian but should be easy to understand. Here the rankings of cycle 24 so far, since 1849:

(a) current number of spotless days: 37 (17th longest ever, and counting)

(b) number of spotless periods longer than 20 days: 5 (5th)

(c) number of spotless days: 415 (9th)

Actually, the “spots” that have been claimed for around July 19, didn’t look like sunspots to me at all. Without them, the number of spotless days is 64, that is the third ever.

Climate Models Are Correct (And Useless)

2008/08/26 2 comments

Climate models are correct indeed. Because, as Bill Clinton would love to say, it depends on what the definition of “correct” is.

In the real world, climate models cannot be falsified by a single observation (modelists say it’s “only weather”), or by a set of short-term observations (they call it “just a specific trajectory”).

In theory, one could wait a sufficient number of years in order to statistically check if the world has actually got warmer, but in practice models don’t include volcanoes, clouds, solar activity, etc: therefore, even if observations diverge from the models, all the modelists will do is find a “culprit” that can justify the discrepancy.

For the 1940-1970 cooling climate, they say “it was the aerosols”. Never mind that it could be a made-up story.

RealClimate’s own Gavin has said in the recent past, there is no interest in verifying if models are correct or not. Instead, the “right question” appears to be: “are there analyses that will be made over the next few years that will improve the evaluation of climate models?”

It should go without saying that in such a situations, models have no predictive capability beyond chance and they are for all intents and purposes useless.

Imagine modelling a human being as a heart pump with tubes coming in and out, and then when the patient dies of tuberculosis, having the superciliousness to state “the model is correct” instead of understanding that humans have a pulmonary system too (and a lot of other systems).

AGW Disaster at the IGC Meeting?

2008/08/22 1 comment

A whole scientific conference with a session on climate has gone by, but for some reason there’s been no mention of it in any major media sources. Actually, RealClimate talks about it in non-concealed disconcerted terms.

The International Geological Congress must have been some kind of disaster for the AGW crowd.

Will it be enough to demonstrate that there is a sizable community of “climate contrarians”, that is scientists that don’t buy in the AGW disaster “consensus”? Is this list enough to stop people from saying that climate skeptics’ numbers are “dwindling”?

I guess not.

Introducing John P. Holdren, Harvard Authoritarian

2008/08/20 3 comments

In supreme case of Irony with capital “I”, and as a fitting tribute to Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s courage as a free thinker, the following articles have appeared almost at the same time:

First, selected quotes from Holdren’s raging philippic on the dangers of “unfounded skepticism about the disruption of global climate” (Holdren is “professor at the Kennedy School of Government and the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard and the director of the Woods Hole Research Center in Massachusetts”):

The few climate-change “skeptics” with any sort of scientific credentials […] muddying of the waters of public discourse […] parroting of these arguments by […] amateur skeptics […] climate-change skeptics […] infest talk shows, Internet blogs, letters to the editor, op-ed pieces, and cocktail-party conversations […] the denier fringe […]

The extent of unfounded skepticism about the disruption of global climate by human-produced greenhouse gases is not just regrettable, it is dangerous. It has delayed – and continues to delay – the development of the political consensus that will be needed if society is to embrace remedies commensurate with the challenge. The science of climate change is telling us that we need to get going. Those who still think this is all a mistake or a hoax need to think again.

Presumably, Holdren means climate change skeptics need a good bit of re-education until they change their minds. After all, the danger they cause is because for Holdren, the only way to tackle “the challenge” is by developing an all-encompassing, literally unanimous “political consensus”.

People should just defer to the experts, and just shut up if any one of those “dangerous ideas” pop up in their heads.

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Compare the above with what The Economist has to say about Democracy, and the one aspect about which Solzhenitsyn “was wrong”:

Democracies produce a cacophony, in which each voice complains that its own urgent message is being drowned in a sea of pap. […] The cacophony is the lesser evil. Ideas should not be suppressed, but nor should they be worshipped. […] There is no sure defence against bad ideas, but one place to start is with a well-educated and sceptical citizenry that is free to listen to the notions of the intellectuals but is not in thrall to them—and, yes, may prefer the sports channel instead. The patrician in Solzhenitsyn hated this lack of deference in the West. That is one respect in which the great man was wrong

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Holdren’s “unanimous political consensus” is not a solution for climate change. It is an evil, a much larger evil than Democracy, and skepticism, will ever be: because it would mean having no defence against what could potentially be very bad ideas indeed (such as giving climate control precedence over development or fighting disease).

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