Archive for October, 2011

Live Microblogging Of Cardinal George Pell’s “One Christian Perspective On Climate Change” For The GWPF

2011/10/30 2 comments

This is an ordered version of my live microblogging (Twitter – @mmorabito67) of “One Christian Perspective On Climate Change”, the GWPF Annual Lecture by the RC Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell (Oct 26, 2011) (not exactly a staunch traditionalist, apart perhaps from his views on the family), presented on the evening by Benny Peiser with:

[…] In this week’s issue of Church Times, the weekly journal of the Church of England, Peter Forster, the Bishop of Chester and one of our Trustees and who, I am happy to say, is with us tonight in the audience, wrote:

The Churches have tended to follow climate alarmism with uncritical enthusiasm, but it is now time to take stock. The moral issues surrounding climate policy, as well as the underlying scientific and economic issues, are much more complex than is usually acknowledged. It is time for the Churches to recognise this, and to lead a debate which helps our society to a more sensible set of policies.

I believe that nobody has done more to raise these awkward questions within the Catholic Church than Cardinal Pell. It is an irony of our bewildering times that it is a courageous churchman who dares to question one of our society’s most entrenched dogmas – but that is exactly what he will do tonight.

  1. Reached Cardinal Pell’s lecture some 30 minutes late Will microblog whatever is left
  2. Cardinal Pell talking of English wines and warm Greenland
  3. Room quite full, more than 100 people for sure Yes, there’s a podium and a microphone
  4. Now mentioning the globality of the medieval warm period
  5. Maya civilization collapsed during MWP
  6. Conclusions: Western world unlikely to develop further of money is spent to fight global warming
  7. “Extreme weather events are to be expected but are always unexpected”
  8. “Money should be spent to prevent vulnerability”
  9. Too often people approach climate change with assumptions not questions
  10. Need a cost benefit analysis economically and morally
  11. Any benefit apart from more money to governments via taxes and to whoever works in the AGW sector?
  12. Long applause 30 minutes of questions
  13. Q: AGW nonsense is a cult or a biz opportunity or political? Q: Roman Catholic concerns on climate change? Even Pope
  14. A: no judgment on people’s motives A substitute of religion for some $10B/y for years Not much global government
  15. A: 9 years Chairman of Caritas Australia so has seen the world and third world
  16. Speaking as individual – RC is a Church with no competence on scientific claims
  17. Cardinal Pell sees his speaking as a way of telling the truth People may disagree but he’d like to see good policies
  18. Q: oil running out, new extractions make environment worse Q: Political divergence between Australian parties?
  19. A: eventually we will run out of fossil fuels Past predictions spectacularly wrong Technology will provide alternatives
  20. No apologies for the mistreatment of anybody anywhere Some commercial developments are very rough Try minimize costs
  21. Says he has not much opinion on either Australian political parties
  22. Q: why the IPCC never cares about the advantages to the world of increased CO2? Q: theology of husbanding resources
  23. A: no mention of advantages? (Talks of Bob Carter’s book) People reluctant to admit anything contrary to previous belief
  24. A: husbanding the world for the future yes
  25. My Q: do Cardinals talk about AGW when they meet up? Q: responsible for future? Pope might disagree with Pell
  26. A: never discussed AGW among Cardinals Opinions evenly divided in a conference
  27. A: pontifical academy of science also contains differing opinions Husbandry important but what are the facts?
  28. Follow Church for morality and religion not obligated to follow the PAS on science
  29. Q: Attenborough mention of changes due to climate change Will make claim that humans are partially responsible
  30. Q: (more theology)
  31. A: Attenborough’s changes? Things have always changed We can pick and choose anything for any argument
  32. A: always look at evidence Disagreement among scientists
  33. many geologists doubt catastrophesA: too many unknown unknowns No way of computing the future of climate
  34. Q: did AGW replace Marxism? What right to keep poor nations poor by preventing use of fossil fuels?
  35. Q: AGW is taught as a fact Is that moral?
  36. A: people need a religion so there’s something in people finding comfort in AGW
  37. China very polluted and would need free press We can’t impose impossible fuel standards
  38. There’s been global warming during last 100 years but we don’t know if it’s dangerous and how much humans contribute
  39. Some Christians feel uneasy about their faith so concentrate on feminism or social psychology instead
  40. Q: (inaudible) Q: important points made Opinion on Carbon tax? How can we help poor by taxing them?
  41. A: balance and trust are based on truth Worried about unscientific words uttered by scientists
  42. A: no problem when disagreeing with other people in the Church
  43. end of session with Lord Lawson

Thank you Skeptical Science

2011/10/28 10 comments

Congratulations to myself. I have just graduated to having a dedicated blog post by Skeptical Science no less.

Surely I’m not yet in the Big League (the author over there is only honesty-challenged dana1981) but for the very same reason I can proudly describe myself now as a Big Minion!

As for what SS has to say about my arguments …well, there’s little to discuss. That post sounds more like the umpteenth attempt to rally the usual, tired troops. Good luck with that.

Socrates, Or Pointing The Way For The Future Of Climate Science

2011/10/27 1 comment

Roger Pielke Jr laments the withering of climatology:

Climate science — or at least some parts of it — seems to have devolved into an effort to generate media coverage and talking points for blogs, at the expense of actually adding to our scientific knowledge of the climate system

Actually, it was December 2009 when I wrote in the pages of the Spectator (UK):

This might be the most important lesson of the 1974 report on global cooling: that we need to grow up, separate climatology from fear, and recognise — much as it pains politicians and scientists — that our understanding of how climate changes remains in its infancy.

Here we are, almost two years later. For example, what do we understand about the past? Willis Eschenbach at WUWT shows it in the non-smoothed BEST reconstruction graph:

"BEST global surface temperature estimates. Gray bars show what BEST says are the 95% confidence intervals (95%CI) for each datapoint"

And what do we understand about the future? Patrick Frank in’s Reading Room:

"The Special Report on Emission Scenarios (SRES-SPM-5) A2 projection from Figure 1 showing the physical uncertainty of the projected temperature trend when including ±10.1% cloud error (light shading), or the uncertainty in greenhouse gas forcing (dark shading). Inset: A close-up view of the first 20 years of the A2 projection and the uncertainty limits."

In other words: for the past, all we know for sure it’s that the error bars cover from -5C to +3C if we go back to 200 years ago. For the past, all we can estimate for sure it’s that error bars cover an enormous span if we move forward 100 years (even removing cloud uncertainty, still the 2100 error goes from -10C to +16C).

For all we know, Romans were conquering a world that was 50C colder than today, and oceans will boil before the XXII century. Or vice-versa.


Please do not start speculating about uncertainty as a reason for doing nothing – it isn’t.

Think of science instead: what’s the way out of this cul-de-sac made up of giant error bars? How can our understanding finally leave its infancy? The way out has actually being indicated already, by a guy born in 469BC:

Socrates was wise in that he knew the he knew nothing, whereas others were unaware of their own ignorance.

If and when such a realization will become widespread, only then climate science will be able to mature away from silly manipulations, towards the approach so nicely described by Professor Sir Bernard Lovell to David Whitehouse:

One evening we unrolled the pen recorder data in a long ribbon down the corridor outside the main observing room. “Now,” he said, “look at the data. Get to know it.” His point was that before us was what the universe was saying, and that it was more important than any theory.” Data is never inconvenient. It beats theory every time.

An unexamined climate is not worth studying…

Richard Muller Is (And Isn’t) A Former Skeptic

2011/10/26 6 comments

Tons of desperate journalists and bloggers couldn’t help themselves when talking about the Muller/BEST’s press release, and filled the net with what must have been one of the largest collective display of idiocy this side of the carpal tunnel syndrome epidemic of old (tellingly, even Tamino was too enthusiastic to bother reading things properly whilst RC’s Steig did, so poor Grant F felt compelled to busy himself in disagreeing with Muller about something).

One of the most popular claims concerns the depiction of Muller as some kind of “reformed skeptic”, some pretty soul who’s finally seen the data, and the light alongside. Here’s the UK’s Independent repeating the party line, for example.

Professor Richard Muller, a physicist at the University of California, Berkeley, who has been an outspoken critic of the science underpinning global warming, said that there is little doubt in his mind the phenomenon of rising land temperatures is real.

In the meanwhile, Don Surber of the Charleston Daily Mail and Steven J Milloy of Junk Science fame have posted almost-definitive evidence demonstrating that Muller has never really been a climate skeptic. Muller quotes include:

back in the early ’80s, I resigned from the Sierra Club over the issue of global warming. At that time, they were opposing nuclear power. What I wrote them in my letter of resignation was that, if you oppose nuclear power, the U.S. will become much more heavily dependent on fossil fuels, and that this is a pollutant to the atmosphere that is very likely to lead to global warming


Muller estimates 2 in 3 odds that humans are causing global warming

Well, I can now report (with no worry of being refuted) that Richard Muller has been a climate skeptic all along. And he has not. At the same time!

The important point, in fact, is the definition of “climate skeptic”.

In a saner world, a “climate skeptic” would simply be any person approaching the field of climate change with a critical eye, and especially about the more outlandish claims of impending catastrophes caused by humans burning “fossil fuels” and doing all the other nasty things humans do. Of course, in a saner world 99.999% of the people would be “climate skeptic” and there would be little or no discussion about “global warming” or “climate change” being the “the world’s greatest challenge“.

From the sane point of view then, Muller, a guy who resigned decades ago about the “global warming” issue and believes humans are quite likely causing it, is no skeptic at all. From Muller’s own “Physics for Future Presidents” (chapter 10, page 18):

Humans have very likely contributed to global warming, and that suggests that 
the worst effects are still ahead of us.

Coming back instead to the insane world we live in, definitions change. In particular, in the eyes of AGW True Believers a “climate skeptic” (aka “climate denier”) becomes anybody that questions anything about the IPCC-led climate change orthodoxy. And by that I mean, anything. It doesn’t matter if one surmises the world has been warming (the very definition of “global warming”), and that humans are “very likely” causing that (the very definition of “anthropogenic global warming”): all it takes is an expression of uncertainty or doubt about whatever topic, and immediately the brainless hordes will descend in full fascistic gear.

From the insane point of view then, Muller, a guy who famously discounted the Hockey Stick graph as “an artifact of poor mathematics“, is a fully-fledged skeptic (ie “denier). From Muller’s own “Physics for Future Presidents” (chapter 10, page 2):

In fact, much of what you hear every day is exaggerated, often on purpose.  
People feel so passionately about climate change, and they are so frightened about 
what is coming, that they overstate their case (either pro or anti) in an attempt to 
enlist proselytes

All in all, it looks like nobody knows who Richard Muller actually is. Expect surprises.

Live Microblogging Of IOP’s “Finding a way forward for climate change” By Chris Rapley

2011/10/25 3 comments

This is an ordered version of my live microblogging (Twitter – @mmorabito67) of “Finding a way forward for climate change” at London’s Institute of Physics by Chris Rapley (Oct 19, 2011), presented as:

Professor Chris Rapley CBE, Director Science Museum

There is evidence to suggest that human activities are driving climatic change. This will be presented, along with the risks that the changes pose to human wellbeing. Professor Rapley will also outline the underlying link to human energy needs, and the nature of the challenge to achieve a “low carbon” future

  1. Starting now – around 50 people, few spring chickens
  2. Science Museum infamous for disaster internet poll on global warming – so I don’t expect that much really
  3. Wrong after 10 seconds – MMU was from 1984 IIRC definitely not 1981
  4. “Astronauts don’t overload their life support system” – apparently that’s tonight’s theme
  5. Earth is a “highly interconnected object” – “spacecraft transporting 7 billions of us “
  6. Climate science and change have dropped out of the news since a year ago
  7. Rapley reports recently media science people told him there’s no story on climate change, nothing to do
  8. Innocence, unwitting consequences, mystery, cliffhanger – that’s the “plot”
  9. Story of climate science fascinating by itself
  10. Quite some caution expressed so far – mentioned possibility data might be found falsified
  11. Primer on physics starting from the Sun – starts good but claims planet generally in radiative balance (???)
  12. Mentions variations during geological times
  13. Complexities explained using a management style diagram
  14. Mentions “tribal instincts” about scientists too
  15. Claims Earth “most complex object in the universe” and has no user’s manual; finite, no spares
  16. “Ecosystem services essential for life” but “increasingly compromised by humans”
  17. Mention estimates of building a similar ecosystem as 40T$ a year
  18. Temporal and spatial scales span enormous ranges
  19. Need to be smart to properly use the scientific resources
  20. “Hubris” to claim we know how the planet works but we have an idea of where it is going (???)
  21. Envisat, Argo floats
  22. Many not aware amount of effort put to study the planet
  23. Understanding the Earth system is a jigsaw puzzle
  24. Unprecedented scientific coordination and cooperation worldwide – huge management and logistical challenge
  25. Example international polar year >200 projects and 60k scientists
  26. Abruptly now into “energy” – 1 barrel of oil = 3500 people pedaling for 1h and much cheaper than them
  27. It’s now in the UK as if we all had 87 slaves each
  28. Oil and coal burning changed the atmosphere
  29. Longest ice core goes back to 800k year. Shows graph of CO2 going up and down
  30. Last two transitions quite abrupt with max around 280ppm of CO2
  31. Mentions temps go up and down 800 years before CO2 does. The guy has read his share of climate questions
  32. Dramatic increase of CO2 concentration in recent times – but he’s spliced the graphs together
  33. Graph bot as dramatic – top is values expected for 2100
  34. Seems convinced values have gone up vertically
  35. Mentions Tyndall of 1859 studying transfer of heat through atmosphere
  36. Says the greenhouse effect is poorly named – very good
  37. Claims Moon temp -15C am not sure about it
  38. Long digression in sea level rise as evidence of warming but no mention of latest data
  39. Says 3.8mm/y is a third of postglacial rise
  40. Claims evidence of AGW is the “pattern of evidence” but individual pieces of evidence not enough on their own
  41. Change in radiation going to space, more downward radiation, winter warmin
  42. G”Clincher” is land-temperature data whilst upper atmosphere is cooling but statistical significance is debatable
  43. There could be problems even if average temps don’t go up but their distribution changes
  44. Example of Sahara with climate shift in 5000 year with two metastable states
  45. Modern world “depends” on climate system of now (???)
  46. We’re already susceptible to natural variations so why poke the system?
  47. Goes into Stern Report – major #FAIL – and Queensland too
  48. Sea ice cover in the Arctic as of yesterday
  49. “Huge consequences already playing out”
  50. Consensus of 2C is “built up among politicians of the world” as maximum desirable increase – associated to 450ppm
  51. Quite clear on political issues around decarbonization
  52. Describes most optimistic future as everybody convinced and.working together – with end value around 630ppm
  53. “Scramble” leads to 1000ppm – now graph describing emission challenge
  54. Says “planet is responding even more strongly” – another #fail as there’s no scientific paper saying that
  55. Claims there’s technology to be used, misunderstands the money that went into “saving the banks” – not good
  56. Climate change “uniquely vexatious issue” – massive changes, people against it as governmental interference.
  57. Delingpole pops up on screen
  58. Goes into denial tirade described in pop-psychology terms
  59. Says debate/advocacy is wrong as tries to find THE answer. Says dialogue is needed. (With people in denial?)
  60. Says scientists should not be advocates or activists – otherwise audience has obligation to challenge back
  61. “Enable people to make up their own minds”
  62. “World is being compromised by our activities”
  63. Q&A peak carbon? Huge amount of accessible coal.
  64. Q&a: overpopulation? Important point but politically challenging.
  65. Quite keen on population control
  66. Q&a more.scientists should.speak out? Politicians not listening
  67. Apparently I have inspired with my “sea wall question” a great answer about risks and uncertainties.
  68. I hope I can write that down tonight. Nature magazine, best thing that happened to seismologists etc etc
  69. Question challenges CO2 consensus. I find these useless in this context.
  70. Questioner saying Milankovitch cycles more important. Good reply, Rapley is no alarmist
  71. Q&a what if one believes in AGW but also in free markets? Are alternatives going cheaper?
  72. “It’s a thriller”
  73. Speaks about overpopulation taboo and hate mail received and even people rewriting history
  74. Looks for optimistic ending …people feeling powerless?
  75. Positive thing is chairman of GE going green and finding positive results
  76. 19 Oct Favorite Retweet Reply
  77. Group helps you send message to MPs about climate change. 400k did. is that activism?
Some additional considerations are at Bishop Hill’s blog. I hope I’ll have some time to elaborate, especially on Rapley’s seemingly inconsistent behavior between the BMJ conference on Oct 17, and the IOP speech two days later.

World is warming. Pope is Catholic.

2011/10/22 5 comments

UPDATE: this post has featured at WUWT

Quite an effort has been made by many people (including Dr Richard Muller) to portray the BEST pre-pre-pre-papers as some kind of death blow against climate skepticism, as if the whole debate had been a sports match with everybody pigeonholed in two opposite camps: here, the noble scientists finding out the world is warming; there, the ignoble skeptics pretending the world is not warming.

Needless to say, it’s all the usual crass, outdated lie.

How do I know? I know it from the About page at this very blog. Why? Because that page does not contain just a text by Yours Truly, rather a large quote by Willis Eschenbach.

It was simply such an appropriate, informed, short and straight argument, I knew it was going to describe pretty much all my future efforts at the blog.

Original publication place & date? The ClimateSceptics yahoo group, Mon Oct 22, 2007, 12:22pm:

I also think that increasing GHGs will warm the earth … but that is not the real question to me. The real question is, how much it will warm the earth. To date, I have not seen any “useful quantative results” regarding that question either …

Once those quantitative results are in, we can proceed to the next question — is a warmer earth better or worse on balance? The globe has warmed quite a bit since the 1600s, and in general this has been of benefit to humans. The sea level rise from the historical warming has not been a significant problem. In addition, a warmer world is predicted to be a wetter world, which overall can only be a good thing. So, will warming be a problem, or a benefit? This is a very open question, and one which will be difficult to answer as some areas will win and some will lose. To date, however, recent warming seems to be occuring outside the tropics, in the night-time, in the winter … this does not seem like a bad thing.

And at some future date when those questions are answered, we can proceed to the final question, viz:

If GHGs are determined to be a major cause of the warming (as opposed to landuse changes, or black carbon on snow, or dark colored aerosols, etc) and if we determine that the warming will be on balance a negative occurrence, is there a cost-effective way to reduce the GHGs, or are we better off putting our money into adaptation?

Until we can answer all of those questions, we should restrict ourselves to actions which will be of value whether or not there is future warming. The key is to realize that all of the problems that Al Gore is so shrill about are here now with us today — floods, heat waves, famine, rising sea levels, droughts, cold spells, and all of the apocalyptic catalog are occuring as I write this. Anything we can do to insulate the world’s population from these climate problems will be of use to everyone no matter what the future climate holds […]

B.E.S.T. Not Yet

2011/10/21 1 comment

Plenty of brouhaha everywhere about the pre-pre-pre B.E.S.T. papers. Ignorant reactions undoubtedly already abound.

I surmise that the four pre-pre-pre-papers will get torn to pieces in the next few days (here’s my biting off the UHI article, followed by Steven Mosher’s). The quality of the BEST work will be measurable in the way they will react to that ( (a) making the necessary adjustments, (b) ignoring the lot, or (c) circling the wagons).

The jury is still much out. In the case of Anthony Watts, so far it’s been a strong (b). Assuming B.E.S.T. is not a collection of unprofessionals, such a reaction makes little sense.

OTOH we do not even know if B.E.S.T. is really about science, or something else. As I commented at Judith Curry’s blog:

Read what you write Judith! A PR strategy! Did Bohr have a PR strategy, or Maxwell, or Dirac.

The BEST PR strategy is not the best PR strategy because it became so important as to become visible. It’s THE news, as you can read at WUWT. And a total failure: science takes once again the back seat, and who cares if BEST does it for visibility rather than politics?

Your results and your work have just been buried by your team. Congratulations! /sarc

No placebo pill will ever work if it’s got “PLACEBO” written on it: likewise, no PR strategy will work if it’s so much in-your-face to its potential audience.

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