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Archive for May, 2009

Explanation For BBC Science News Webpage’s Climate Change Policy

2009/05/31 3 comments

Having carefully watched the BBC “Science & Environment” news web page for several weeks now, I am inclined to identify the following as their underlying “Climate Change” reporting policy:

  1. No day shall pass without at least one climate-change-related link somewhere on that page
  2. Reporting on scientific articles supporting AGW will be strictly confined to a slight change of the original press release with the smallest and most inconsequential of doubt and criticism in the results
  3. Whatever Prince Charles or any other environmental celebrity has to say will be considered worthy of publication
  4. No such luck for anything not supporting AGW, however authoritative the source.
  5. Point 4 will not apply once a quarter or so, in order to demonstrate “balanced reporting”
  6. No climate change link will be considered too trivial to report
  7. There will be links to Richard Black’s blog
  8. There will be no link to the BBC’s own “Climate Change – The Blog of Bloom” blog. After all, it does make fun of AGW

And so there goes my licence money at work supporting the fight against the destruction of the world by evil SUV drivers…

Either The Best BBC Climate Blog…

2009/05/27 3 comments

…or their way of “showing impartiality”?

In any case, the BBC’s “Climate Change – The Blog of Bloom” is well worth an entry in one’s RSS feeds list.

And the authors there are quite humorous and far, far less the self-conscious, bordering-on-pompous, depressive types like Roger Harrabin and Richard Black.

For a couple of suggestions, start from these:

Carbon-neutral adventurers find reason to love oil tanker

Giant trees decline in Yosemite: climate change may, or equally may not be to blame

Sacked climate minister reveals somewhat unsurprising support for state aid

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Now…can “The Blog of Bloom” really be used to demonstrate the impartiality of the BBC in the climate debate? I am afraid it cannot. See, there is no link to it, and there has never been, into the “Science and Environment” section of the BBC News website.

In Case You Missed It…Going By Car To The North Pole

2009/05/22 6 comments

Russian motorists drive to North Pole

27.04.2009

Russian motorists have reached the North Pole for the first time in an Arctic expedition. The new record has been set by a team of seven Russians. They set out for the Pole from the Severnaya Zemlya archipelago on two experimental Russian-made YEMELYA cars on the 20th of March, covered over 1,100 kilometres on pack ice, and reached the earth’s northern pole on Sunday, the 26th of April. The jubilant team of seasoned travellers is now receiving congratulations from across Russia.

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not exactly your average SUV but still…the vehicles look quite heavy, therefore the underlying ice must have been quite solid…

Who knows why Richard Black or Roger Harrabin don’t appear interested in the effort?

Mooney, or The Tragedy Of The Virginal AGW Believer

2009/05/21 5 comments

Thomas Richard at Climate Change Fraud links (using what might be unfortunate and wholly un-necessary homophobic undertones) to Chris Mooney’s rather unusual “Thanks for the Traffic, Morano” blog.

Mooney’s contribution to the global consciousness contains pearls of literature like the following:

So…my last post, “The Deniers’ Last Stand,” has had quite a lot of incoming traffic from ClimateDepot. I guess Marc Morano over there somehow thinks I help him make his point

It must be the first time ever that somebody has in any way lamented somebody else’s incoming link to his blog…

Anyway…I find it telling that Mooney is surprised by the amount of traffic coming from ClimateDepot, and feels the need to write: “So Mark: Let’s keep linking to each other“.

What it is telling is that usually Mooney, like several other AGWers I have met in all these years debating the topic, cannot even contemplate providing his readers with links to non-AGW sites. Because he disagrees with their content to the point of pretending it does not actually exist.

It’s an attitude reminding at the same time of an inferiority complex, childishness, an urge to censor, and/or a fear of reading anything not singing one’s own tune, lest the virginal eyes of the AGW believers be poisoned by non-conforming writings.

Time will tell which of the above interpretations is correct.

Is Monbiot Now A Supporter Of Big Oil?

2009/05/20 6 comments

a guest blog by Geoff Chambers

George Monbiot has just published a new blog on Guardian Environment in his long-running series: “Scientists Say It’s Even Worse Than We Thought”, quoting “the world’s most sophisticated models” devised by “the world’s finest minds” as saying that global temperatures will rise 5.2C by 2100.

What makes this particular rant interesting is his source – the MIT Integrated Global Systems Model. The final paragraph of the MIT News article which Monbiot cites reads:

This work was supported in part by grants from the Office of Science of the U.S. Dept. of Energy, and by the industrial and foundation sponsors of the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change.

And if you go to the website of the latter organisation, you discover that their industrial sponsors include Exxon, Shell, BP, and Total. So Monbiot no longer believes that being financed by Big Oil automatically taints your research results. Which is fine.

Monbiot is an intelligent man who has been known to admit in public to changing his mind before (on nuclear power and bio-fuels, for example). But it does mean that twenty years of trashing climate scepticism – on the grounds that its funding sources make it suspect – has to be thown in the bin.

I’ve made this point in the comments to the article, but I’m being heavily moderated on Comment is Free and most of my comments are refused without explanation. I invite your readers to go to Comment is Free and join in what should be an epic battle (or pub brawl, knowing Guardian Climate Change discussions).

AGWer, Cura Te Ipsum

2009/05/19 1 comment

Looks like milions in the UK have already been emitting much less than a whole bunch of AGWers…and without even having to change their lifestyles!

Which ministry is least green? The one that runs climate change

[…] The [UK Department for Energy and Climate Change] DECC, which is responsible for promoting energy efficiency in the country and is housed in Whitehall Place in London, scored a G, the lowest on a seven-point energy performance scale for its buildings […]

There is actually a more serious message there. Governments serious about climate change will be noticeable by the fact that they will stop preaching to the unwashed and concentrate on reducing emissions on a grand scale, in their buildings and facilities that is.

Greenies As Modern-Day Hitlerites

2009/05/18 4 comments

And it’s not even my idea…

From the BBC’s Climate Change – The Blog of Bloom
Hitler: the green movement’s German shepherd?
by Shanta Barley

Ever wondered why it is that Germany […] is so far ahead of the rest of the world in the race to be green?

According to Lord Anthony Giddens’ latest book, ‘The Politics of Climate Change‘ and a number of respected historians, Hitler may have given Germany a head-start. Not only did he pass the most stringent and comprehensive environmental protection law in the world at that time, but he also had a soft spot for vegetarianism, organic nibbles and animal welfare (up until the point when he poisoned his doting German Shepherd, Blondi, that is).

The Nazi “ecologists” […] had the aim of preventing damage to the environment in undeveloped areas, protecting forests and animals and reducing air pollution.’

Incredibly, it gets even juicier than one could have ever dreamed

[…] the Nazis, […] says Peter Staudenmaier, co-author of the book ‘Ecofascism’ were ‘conscious promoters and executors of a vile program explicitly dedicated to inhuman racist violence, massive political repression and worldwide military domination. Their “ecological” involvements, far from offsetting these fundamental commitments, deepened and radicalized them‘. […]

NASA Spends Three Billion Dollars To Manufacture Fake Sunspots (humor)

2009/05/18 1 comment

London, 17 May (MNN) – NASA, the American space agency, has been called into justifying the humongous(-ly little) money it spends every year for space exploration, in a shocking new development connected to the ongoing lack of sunspots.

Officials at NASA’s headquarters in Houston, Tx have neither confirmed or denied (or even been asked) if the whole purpose of sending the Space Shuttle Atlantis a few days ago, and the Hubble Space Telescope in April 1990, was in order to pretend the Sun is not asleep , as in the picture below

NASA-manufactured fake sunspots

NASA-manufactured fake sunspots

In unrelated news: NOAA has announced two new sunspots have appeared on the surface of our star, thereby confirming everything is fine, global cooling is not in the making, global warming will kill us all instead and it’s all our fault.

Lancet’s Cryoagnosia: Health And Climate Change Report Between Citation Amnesia And Chinese Whispers

2009/05/15 4 comments

cryoagnosia: from cryo- (Cool, freezing) and
agnosia (Loss of the ability to interpret sensory stimuli)

Is a major new report about “the health effects of climate change” that describes “Climate” as the “biggest health threat” for the 21st century actually based upon a convenient forgetfulness of parts of the literature, and the scientific equivalent of chinese whispers?

It may never be possible to answer that question in full and in full confidence. But there is one interesting, major detail that relates to something I just blogged about.

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Today (May 14) the “Lancet and University College London Institute for Global Health Commission” launched a report titled “Managing the health effects of climate change” (Lancet 2009; 373: 1693–733).

I looked at the report in terms of cold- and warm-weather related deaths and this is what I have found: 

The Lancet/UCL 2009 report’s claim that warming is worse than cooling is based on a single book chapter from 2003 that forgets to mention two very relevant articles; and that disregards exactly the effect used in one of those two articles to demonstrate that cooling is worse than warming.

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Here’s how I started: having had read that at least in Europe, cooling kills more than warming, I looked with interest for any mention of that aspect in the report. My search brought me to page 9:

From a conservative perspective, although a minority of populations might experience health benefits (mostly related to a reduction in disease related to cold weather), the global burden of disease and premature death is expected to increase progressively.(ref. 16)

That looked like a peculiar statement indeed: sporting a reference to “health benefits” for the few (all of them, in Europe?), but suddenly making warming a bigger killer than cooling on a global scale.

When was all of that discovered, I wondered? Thankfully, I could find reference 16 on the web:

16. Campbell-Lendrum DH, Corvalán CF, Prüss Ustün A. How much disease could climate change cause? In: McMichael AJ, Campbell-Lendrum DH, Corvalan CF, et al, eds. Climate change and human health: risks and responses. Geneva: WHO, 2003.

Relevant quotes from Campbell-Lendrum DH et al. (curiously, again from page 9):

[…] Direct physiological effects of heat and cold on cardiovascular mortality – Strength of evidence

The association between daily variation in meteorological conditions and mortality has been described in numerous studies from a wide range of populations in temperate climates (16, 17). These studies show that exposure to temperatures at either side of a “comfort range” is associated with an increased risk of (mainly cardio-pulmonary) mortality.

Given the limited number of studies on which to base global predictions, quantitative estimates are presented only for the best supported of the direct physiological effects of climate change—changes in mortality attributable to extreme temperature for one or several days. For cold and temperate regions, a relationship from a published study was used (24) […]

The mystery was just deepening, with people suddenly dying not because of warmth or cold, but due to daily meteorological changes, and in particular because of “exposure to temperatures” outside of a “comfort range”.

It was time then to take a look at what those numerical references were about:

16. Alderson, M.R. Season and mortality. Health Trends 17: 87–96 (1985).

17. Green, M.S. et al. Excess winter-mortality from ischaemic heart disease and stroke during colder and warmer years in Israel. European Journal of Public Health 4: 3–11 (1994).

24. Kunst, A. et al. Outdoor air temperature and mortality in the Netherlands—a time series analysis. American Journal of Epidemiology 137(3): 331–341 (1993).

And what was even more notable were the “forgotten” references:

In summary: the Lancet/UCL 2009 report claims warming is worse than cooling on the basis of a single book chapter from 2003 that mentions: a very old article from 1985; a 1993 research on Israel; a single 1994 article about the Netherlands to represent “cold and temperate regions“.

And that very same single book chapter avoids any reference to two much more recent works, form 2000 and 2002, covering the whole of Europe, and pointing in the direction of…cooling being worse than warming.

The “forgotten references” from 2002 may as well have been unknown to the authors of the 2003 book chapter. But that is no excuse for the authors of the 2009 report.

Also, the fact that those articles were forgotten is obviously due to pure chance: because otherwise, it would be an unfortunate case of foul play in citation“, a.k.a.“bibliographic negligence” or “citation amnesia.

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But that was not all. Here a bit more from Campbell-Lendrum DH et al. (2003):

There also is evidence for a “harvesting effect”, i.e. a period of unusually lower mortality following an extreme temperature period. This indicates that in some cases extreme temperatures advance the deaths of vulnerable people by a relatively short period, rather than killing people who would otherwise have lived to average life expectancy. However, this effect has not been quantified for temperature exposures and is not included in the model. As there is large uncertainty about the number of years that the casualties would have lived (i.e. the attributable years which are lost by exposure to the risk factor) the relative risk estimates will be used to calculate only attributable deaths, not DALYs. […]

That is not the way Keatinge WR et al (2000) presented their results three years before:

Some of those who died in the heat may not have lived long if a heat wave had not occurred. Mortality often falls below baseline for several days after the end of a heat wave, and this has been interpreted as indicating that some of the people dying during the heat wave were already close to death.

[…] Falls in temperature in winter are closely followed by increased mortality, with characteristic time courses for different causes of death. The increases are of sufficient size to account for the overall increase in mortality in winter, suggesting that most excess winter deaths are due to relatively direct effects of cold on the population.

Campbell-Lendrum DH et al. (2003) may as well have had a disagreement with Keatinge WR et al (2000): but if that were the case, they should have referenced to it and discussed however briefly the reasons for their disagreement. And of course the authors of the 2009 report should have included some remarks on why they would care not a bit about the “harvesting effect”, since the…effect of that effect directly relates to people’s health (well, it kills them…)

In summary: the Lancet/UCL 2009 report claims warming is worse than cooling on the basis of a single book chapter from 2003 that disregards the “harvesting effect”, the very same effect used in a 2000 article to demonstrate that cooling is worse than warming.

It looks as if the information was available out there, but reached the authors of the 2009 report distorted by the opinion of the 2003 book chapter’s authors .  One may be forgiven to equate that with a game of..Chinese whispers (a.k.a. Telephone)!

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Obviously there are so many claims one can investigate.

But the fact that I was able in a few minutes to identify what are potentially major flaws in the estimation of the net benefits of CO2, suggests that more problems may lurk somewhere else, in the Lancet/UCL report.

Live Blogging From RGS Geoengineering Debate In London

2009/05/14 3 comments

I am at the Royal Geographical Society debate on geoengineering, with Paul Johnston from Greenpeace and Prof. David Keith, one of the world’s authorities on geoengineering as a way to counteract climate change.

So far Johnston has expressed a heavy does of skepticism on any technology for intervening in the climate. Keith is not making a strong case against the list of issues working against geoengineering, such as the possibility that will be used independently or even as some sort of weapon.

Update: Keith is now moving towards asking to know even if nobody will do any intervention immediately. Johnston replies that money is limited and geoengineering may take it away from “real solutions”

Update 2: Tom Clarke, chair, comes to the rescue asking if there is any alternative given the lack of prospect for any emission reduction. Johnstone says that geoengineering may bring instability when things will be going very badly.

Update 3: Time for questions. First is about the problem of definition of geoengineering. Keith says there are two kinds, solar radiation management and CO2 removal, they are different things.

Update 4: Question on CO2 extraction. Keith is working about it. Scrubbing from the air or from the power plant? First option means you can build it where it is cheaper to build.

Update 5: What is the solution if Greenpeace is so against geoengineering? Johnston wants a much more thorough understanding of the way the atmosphere will react before going the geoengineering route.

Update 6: Keith says if we were really serious on cutting emissions we would be cutting it more aggressively. It is a moral choice, if we cannot cut geoengineering the way forward. Keith affirms he has big concerns too and talks about them,

Update 7: Scientists says he’s terrified about methane in the Arctic: is Greenpeace willing to live with that risk? Other question: geoengineering looks often like a local intervention like seeding clouds: we should expect to be struggling with the difficulty of understanding it all. Johnston talks about huge uncertainties, “at the moment is a gamble”. Keith on intractability: it’s a hard problem. Some of the schemes may be harder. Must start with little interventions and then proceed with the understanding.

Update 8: Keith mentions how after 9/11 we have learned about the effects of airplanes as we had them all grounded over the USA. Yes it is hard, but we cannot do much on the emissions side. We need to do some research on geoengineering.

Clarke asks Johnston if Greenpeace would agree on “free” and “cheap” experiments in geoengineering. Answer is that they need assurance that it will not prevent “the full deployment of an alternative energy [generation] system”

Update 9: Johnston doesn’t want to see commercial interests involved as in the ocean fertilization debacle. Keith agrees.

Final two questions: since we cannot predict what can happen, can we use the 200+ volcanic eruptions to understand better? Also large-scale or small-scale projects, such as improving cooking stoves at community level?

Keith talks about the possibility of biofuels (?) especially in the tropics. Johnston says they had been interested about it for years, and that they want to more about it before investing in large-scale interventions. Doesn’t want to see it as a way to deal with biological waste.

Update 9: Final final two questions. Won’t the politicians think short term and choose geoengineering to avoid having to deal with cutting emissions? Don’t we need research just to start an informed debate about geoengineering, instead of having to deal over and over with uncertainties that never go away? Isn’t much of the technology already available right now? Can we use geoengineering as the “nasty medicine” to scare the politicians into doing something about emissions?

Johnston doesn’t think it would work as a “stick”. He says we need a good reason and guidelines for carrying out geoengineering research and “throwing money” at it. Talks about avoiding unjustified optimism.

Update 10: Johnston suggests to go for research without immediate commercial exploitability. It’s now Keith’s turn: nobody is doing anything serious about emissions, even in high-rhetoric Europe. He says that not enough people have been convinced. He doesn’t “know why”, doesn’t “get it”. “We just haven’t made the sale” to the politicians so they are not serious about global warming.

Keith continues saying GM food are a not-so-serious problem for the experts but the public is very worried about it. For climate change, it’s the other way around.

Johnston thinks it’s difficult to people to conceive the scale of global warming, so they become despondent. Politicians have contributed to the perception that climate change is unavoidable, by doing nothing. People are already starting to adapt.

End of the debate – some more details and considerations will be posted later

Cold Weather Kills More Than Flu

2009/05/14 1 comment

UPDATE: A rebuttal of a major point in the Lancet&UCL “Managing the health effects of climate change” report will be published in this blog by tomorrow

I have already blogged about an article on the BMJ (2000;321:670-673) showing that across Europe, “all regions [show] more annual cold related mortality than heat related mortality“: i.e. cooling kills more than warming.

But there’s more…again from the BMJ (2002;324:89-90):

[In South East England], of 1265 annual excess winter deaths per million over the past 10 years, 2.4% were due to influenza either directly or indirectly

In other words, up to 97.6% of winter deaths could be avoided were the climate warmer. The authors go as far as to suggest that

measures to reduce cold stress offer the greatest opportunities to reduce current levels of winter mortality

Wouldn’t that be a good idea as a goal for geoengineering?

Sadistic Voyeurism As The Root Of Contemporary Media Business

2009/05/13 4 comments

Or…why have the world media embraced catastrophic AGW so enthusiastically…

Just try to listen to commentator/columnist/political journalist Tory MP Matthew Parris in a short interview on BBC’s Sunday radio programme “Broadcasting House” (3 May: it should still be available as a podcast)

I feel pulled in two directions“, Parris declares . “Bad news, sensational events, apocalypses are good for [media] business“.

Of course he acknowledges that “it can’t in any long term way be in my interest that these things go on“, yet he experiences “little thrills when things go catastrophically wrong” because “there is a column in it“.

Little thrills? Little thrills???

Isn’t that a bit sick? No, apparently, because “every age enjoying some kind of prosperity, as until recently we did, has the feeling that it cannot last, and looks for the vengeance, the retribution, the nemesis after the hubris. They are half wanting to happen” because “they cannot believe their own luck“.

Parris concludes that he never believes he is going to be among the victims.

What can one reply to the above with? Perhaps with a big thank you to Parris, as he has just provided the best argument against putting any trust in old-fashioned newsmedia whenever there is any hint of a potential future catastrophe.

Independent bloggers of the world rejoice!

Science Magazine: Evidence Of AGW Prejudice

2009/05/12 8 comments

Many thanks to the BBC for (unwittingly?) underlying a case of pro-AGW bias on the AAAS ‘ flagship magazine Science , "the world’s leading outlet for scientific news, commentary, and cutting-edge research ".

(Leading? Yes, but where, one should ask. Leading towards a pre-conceived, data-independent and therefore antiscientific understanding of the world. But here are the details…)

In a sentence, the Editors of Science appear fixated with AGW to the point of forgetting the non-AGW articles that somehow manage to surface in their magazine.

The case consists of 2 "reports " ("brief communications"?) and 1 "perspectives " ("invited commentary"?) from the 8 May 2009 issue ; a little-known climate-change BBC blog with a (positive, free-minded) approach; and a sheepish attitude by the BBC "Science & Environment" staff in reporting news with no trace of any critical approach to the subject.

This is the complete list with links (details at the bottom of the blog):

(a) REPORT #1: The Role of Aerosols in the Evolution of Tropical North Atlantic Ocean Temperature Anomalies (blaming desert dust and not global warming for most of the recent warming of the tropical North Atlantic)

(b) REPORT #2: Basin-Scale Coherence in Phenology of Shrimps and Phytoplankton in the North Atlantic Ocean (suggesting, in the BBC words, that a world without shrimp cocktails is in the making due to global warming, i.e. human-induced climate change)

(c) PERSPECTIVES: Ecology – Some Like It Cold

(d) BBC NEWS SCIENCE & ENVIRONMENT: Shrimp tuned to ocean temperature

(e) BBC CLIMATE CHANGE – THE BLOG OF BLOOM: Ashes to ashes, dust to dust: theory that Atlantic Ocean is warming due to climate change laid to rest

And here the most likely chronology:

  1. Science magazine publishes (a) and (b) in the same issue. Note that they are both "reports" and therefore have been given absolutely equal importance
  2. The Editors of Science overlook (a) (the report blaming desert dust and not global warming for most of the recent warming of the tropical North Atlantic)
  3. The same Editors invite and publish (c) therefore concentrating everybody’s attention on (b) (the report suggesting a world without shrimp cocktails is in the making due to global warming, i.e. human-induced climate change)
  4. Likely via an embargoed press release, word about (b) and (c) comes to the BBC, universally (in)famous because of the "importance the organisation places on climate change as part of the news agenda "
  5. Victoria Gill is tasked to write (d). It is not known if Ms. Gill has read any part of the related Science issue, as in her article there is no mention whatsoever of (a)
  6. Far away from the BBC News room, the BBC Climate Change – The Blog of Bloom is free of mind enough to notice the relevance of (a) in the climate discourse. Hence they publish a blog (e) about it

IMNSHO, the worst part of the above saga is when the authors of the invited commentary (c) do not mention the non-AGW report (a) at all.

Now, we can of course pretend that it all happened by chance. Or we can choose the simplest explanation, using Ockham’s razor: the bias towards propping up the AGW theory is just very, very strong at Science magazine. There is simply too much very good evidence in that direction.

Time will tell how much such a bias will literally poison all attempts at a scientific approach to climate change/global warming…unless of course the AAAS has intended all along to change their magazine’s title to Anti Science

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DETAILS

(a) REPORT #1
The Role of Aerosols in the Evolution of Tropical North Atlantic Ocean Temperature Anomalies

Amato T. Evan, Daniel J. Vimont, Andrew K. Heidinger, James P. Kossin, and Ralf Bennartz
Science 8 May 2009: 778-781.
Published online 26 March 2009 [DOI: 10.1126/science.1167404] (in Science Express Reports)

[…] Our results suggest that the mixed layer’s response to regional variability in aerosols accounts for 69% of the recent upward trend, and 67% of the detrended and 5-year low pass–filtered variance, in northern tropical Atlantic Ocean temperatures.

(b) REPORT #2
Basin-Scale Coherence in Phenology of Shrimps and Phytoplankton in the North Atlantic Ocean

P. Koeller, C. Fuentes-Yaco, T. Platt, S. Sathyendranath, A. Richards, P. Ouellet, D. Orr, U. Skúladóttir, K. Wieland, L. Savard, and M. Aschan
Science 8 May 2009: 791-793.

[…] We conclude that different populations of P. borealis [shrimp] have adapted to local temperatures and bloom timing, matching egg hatching to food availability under average conditions. This strategy is vulnerable to interannual oceanographic variability and long-term climatic changes.

(c) PERSPECTIVES
Ecology – Some Like It Cold

Charles H. Greene, Bruce C. Monger, and Louise P. McGarry (8 May 2009)
Science 324 (5928), 733. [DOI: 10.1126/science.1173951]

The northern shrimp, Pandalus borealis, makes up 70% of the 500,000 tons of cold-water shrimp harvested annually from the world’s oceans. Commonly captured in shelf waters deeper than 100 meters, it supports major fisheries throughout the North Atlantic. On page 791 of this issue, Koeller et al. (1) report that the reproductive cycles of most northern shrimp stocks are finely tuned to match the timing of egg hatching with that of the local spring phytoplankton bloom (see the figure). This remarkable degree of local adaptation on a basin scale is achieved by females regulating the initiation date of their temperature-dependent egg incubation period so that eggs hatch on average within a week of the expected spring bloom. Thus, in typical years, eggs hatch at the time of maximum food availability. The potential downside of this reproductive strategy is its sensitivity to climate-associated changes in the ocean environment.

(d) BBC NEWS SCIENCE & ENVIRONMENT
Shrimp tuned to ocean temperature

By Victoria Gill – Science reporter, BBC News

Stocks of northern shrimp, the essential ingredient in the ubiquitous prawn cocktail, could be badly affected if ocean temperatures rise. Researchers report, in the journal Science, that shrimp eggs hatch within days of each spring phytoplankton bloom – the main food source for the larvae.

(e) BBC CLIMATE CHANGE – THE BLOG OF BLOOM
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust: theory that Atlantic Ocean is warming due to climate change laid to rest

The North Atlantic is hotting up fast but it’s not because of climate change, say scientists in the most recent edition of the journal Science. No, it’s because there’s less dust around to keep the water cool. […]

CO2 May As Well Make Deserts Smaller

2009/05/12 3 comments

How many news organizations will ever report this…

Carbon dioxide fertilization

Plants may become more able to deal with water stress under higher carbon dioxide levels, thus deserts may get smaller as carbon dioxide levels increase. This impact is thought to be quite important.

Interactive Climate Simulator – France 2050 To 2100

2009/05/11 6 comments

French magazine Science et Vie has released a web-based interactive climate simulator (for France, and in French…but it should be easy to use for all).

Looks like plenty of fun. One wishes they had avoided the ambiguity of talking about scenarios and then presenting what looks like a departmental-level forecast with a seasonal detail for every year in the second half of the present century.

And as somebody has already commented, what is the point of going to 2050? Why, wouldn’t it be nice to get some news about the 2010 Summer season…

ps plenty of umbrella business expected around Montpellier

pps for the Britons reading this…it’s roasted frogs in the Alps by 2080 or so! 8)

Of Exceptional Climate Phenomena…In The XIX Century!

From Gustave Flaubert’s “Dictionary of Received Ideas“, “(in French, Le Dictionnaire des idées reçues) is a short satirical work collected and published in 1911-3 from notes compiled by Gustave Flaubert during the 1870s, lampooning the clichés endemic to French society” (text retrieved from this link):

SUMMER Always ‘unusual’. (See WINTER.)

WINTER Always ‘unusual’. (See SUMMER.)

(thanks to FM for pointing this out)

What Are Climate Scenarios Good For?

A just-published review of the scientific literature on scenario analysis, with a particular interest in climate scenarios, shows that those are mostly good to increase an “understanding of the challenges posed by climate change” (i.e. to support propaganda) rather than what they are supposed to, the development of “robust strategies” (“robust” in the sense of validity under the widest possible number of scenarios).

Looking back on looking forward: a review of evaluative scenario literature” (PDF)
EEA – European Environment Agency – Technical report No 3/2009 – Published: 29 Apr 2009

Faced with risk and uncertainty, environmental policy-makers are increasingly using scenario planning to guide decision‑making. The vibrancy of the field is evident in the numerous case studies conducted using diverse methodologies. Yet even well‑crafted scenarios can fail to have their intended policy impact if they present irrelevant information, lack support from relevant actors, are poorly embedded into relevant organisations or ignore key institutional context conditions. Unfortunately, the shortage of research on scenario planning and its influence means that there is limited guidance on how to optimise scenarios, in terms of both outputs and uptake by policy-makers. This technical report addresses this lack of information, presenting a review of relevant academic and non‑academic literature on the issue.

Summary of Results

  • Climate scenarios are mostly used to support further modelling and analysis but can also help frame public debates
  • Their main (only?) contribution is towards “an increasing understanding of the challenges posed by climate change and their shifting views on how best to respond
  • Scenarios can most usefully support decision‑making by helping identify robust strategies” but “the literature review for this report did not find any studies that have thoroughly tested claims that scenario analysis favours robust strategies by carrying out ex-post assessments of the performance of organisations that have conducted such analysis

Let’s call it “the curse of climate modeling”…

Pupils: Brothels, Not Wind Farms

2009/05/08 4 comments

Not-so-surprising results from a “survey of sixth year students at a Scottish secondary…quizzed on what they would like to see provided in their town” by the “Selkirk Regeneration Group (SRG)“.

One student suggested a house for prostitutes.

The pupils voted against a wind farm.

Cue a customary “a disappointing outcome” quote from SRG chairman Dr Lindsay Neil, and mention that “more [needs] to be done to ‘get the message across’“. Why has he bothered to ask, one wonders.

Peer Review (And Fraud) Ain’t The Only Things To Fix In Modern Science

2009/05/07 2 comments

Worried about Editors of scientific publications overeager to publish only what confirms and conforms to their prejudices? Of peer reviewers too friendly to their omerta-based ilk and too ideological to accept what may contradict their work?

And now there is something else to worry about, in the realm of scientific publishing: foul play in citation (aka “bibliographic negligence” and “citation amnesia“).  That is, the malpractice to “forget” the citation of a rival’s article, or of previous research that would detract from the allegedly unprecedented, ground-breaking nature (and therefore, importance) of one’s article.

As suggested by Richard Gallagher in the same article, the solution may be straightforward:

We need a code of practice for citation, which journals should adopt explicitly. Gene Garfield called for this many years ago, suggesting that authors sign a pledge or oath that they have done a minimal search of the literature and that to the best of their knowledge there is no other relevant work. This is, in fact, the oath one signs when filing for a US patent.

But can the above be used to poo-poo modern science? Au contraire. Listen to Gallagher again:

Judging by the amount of publicity for fraud and greed in science, standards appear to be in freefall. I am not sure that I buy it. I think that the openness gifted us by the Internet is revealing the lax standards that have been in place all the time. The purifying glare of publicity may actually help us [the scientists] get our house in order—I wish that the editors of research journals would get this.

Hockey Heroes Check Melting Icecaps

In case you’ve missed this paradigm-changing news from sometimes in January 2007: “Hockey Heroes ‘Check’ Melting Icecaps – Zambonis to the rescue“.

Why, it was in the Weekly World News. Of course!

Hockey Heroes against melting icecaps

Hockey Heroes against melting icecaps

(via Il Disinformatico)

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