Thursday, November 26, 2009

Why This Email Leak Changes Nothing (as Yet)

Denialists had made their mind up about the conclusion then went around looking for evidence to fit it. The email leak, as far as many of them are concerned seems to be a slam dunk, it's all over now.

I do wish it were true, as climate change even in a mild form means misery and loss for millions. Sadly I can't see how it is - I can't buy into the Denialists's claims because logic says I can't and as a sceptic I have to be sceptical of all the arguments put to me.

If you read Dawkins's new book 'The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution' the point he makes over and over is that while creationists push at issues like missing links, even without the fossil record, the genetic evidence alone is overwhelming. So those who for ideological reasons, wish to overturn evolution need to not only overturn the fossil evidence, but they also need to account for the genetic evidence, the evidence from cell biological, population distribution, ecological webs and so on.

The reason why creationism have not even come close to overturning evolution despite over 150 years of trying is that there is simply no evidence they can offer that accounts for what we see in the natural world. All they can do is engage in bureaucratic arguments over the evidence and how it is presented. Put simply, they have nothing real to bring to the table.

The same issue is at play here with climate change. Even if the one of the temperature records were overturned, you still need to account for the changes in sea temperatures, changes in breading patterns, changes in migration patterns, changes in disease patters, in rainfall and monsoons, melting glaciers and so on. All these point to something happening; and fast.

The reason why climate change denialism has not even come close to overturning AGW despite million$ of oil money spend and why this email leak, while embarrassing for some scientists, the weight of evidence is still overwhelming. There is simply no evidence they (denialists) can offer that accounts for what we see in the natural world. All they can do is engage in bureaucratic arguments over the evidence and how it is presented. Put simply, they have nothing real to bring to the table.

Now for those who read science, disputes over the peer review process are nothing new. It happens all the time. Read ScienceBlogs (which I do) or New Scientist (which I do) or people like Ben Goldacre (which I do) and you'd know this. You also know that scientists argue amongst themselves - 'cos they are human - that's why a peer review process is so important. It is also why what is said in the emails is no big surprise. So, if the AGW is to be overturned, as a sceptic, the weight of evidence still needs to come from the flat earth society. As a sceptic, simply telling me something is wrong 'cos you say so, does not cut it. You still need evidence. Point to emails out of context is no where near enough. You need to account for example; why in the north Atlantic, 36 of fish stocks studied, the distribution range of 24 of them had changed in unison with the rising water temperatures that have been occurring off the Northeast since the 1970s? - That is one of hundreds of changes we are seeing.

A sceptic needs to know why. Telling us about the New World Order or some other 'conspiracy' is not an answer.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Email Hack - No It Does Not Mean Case Closed

There are so many falicies over this climate change email hack, it is untrue. Denialists have been saying that this proves the science is not settled and how dare those that accepted the evidence tell them it is the same time as declaring that the issue is now settled because they say it is.

Then you have the classic double-standard of bleating on about 'hidden evidence' when it appears to suit them while being totally silent on hidden evidence that shows they are wrong. For example;
- White House Declassifies 1000 Global Warming Evidence Photos Bush Hid
- Bush Administration covered up global warming finding, then deliberately kept from Democrats

The denialists are also committing the creationism logical fallacy that ‘if I can prove you wrong, then by default I am right’ whereby creationists go for evolution on the basis that if they disprove it, then their pet theory must be right – but even if you could prove it is wrong – what is to say that God created the world? Why not Zeus? So even if you could prove that the mainstream AGW theory is incorrect (which a few emails out of context do not) you’ll still have to explain all the real-world effects we are seeing all around us (record floods, again, anyone? Changes in disease patterns, the drowning of Balgladesh, melting glaciers, the changes in weather patterns that led to Darfur crisis and so on).

Here's a few good source on the issue... You can read it from the scientists themselves...or...

This article...
Anthony Leiserowitz, the director of the Yale Project on Climate Change, said the release of the e-mails will be remembered mostly as as embarrassment to the researchers.

"It shows that the process of science is not always pristine," said Leiserowitz. "But there's no smoking gun in the e-mails from what I've seen."

Leiserowitz, who is a social scientist, said the e-mails would provide fodder for the 2 to 3 percent of the general public that are hard-core climate change doubters. "For that small group it is like meat to the wolves."

At U.N. climate talks set for next month in Copenhagen, the top producers of greenhouse gases are expected to reach political agreements on tackling climate change, but not agree on hard targets for taking action.

The e-mails may serve as good gossip in the halls at the meeting, but will not play a big role otherwise, experts said.

And here..
The denialosphere has trumpeted the contents as proof of the fraudulent behavior of climate scientists, especially Phil Jones at CRU. But what’s most remarkable is that even the bits pointed to as a “smoking gun” really don’t support that idea. There are certainly phrases which seem incriminating when taken out of context — but when put into context are nothing of the kind.

Continuing to suggest that climate scientists generally, and Phil Jones specifically, are engaged in a conspiracy to deceive the world about global warming, when there turns out to be no real evidence of it in 10 years of personal communications (only words that can be twisted when taken out of context), demonstrates the idiocy of those who stand by that suggestion. If anything, the messages prove that there is not any conspiracy, and the scientists at CRU did not fudge data or engage in deceptive practices to push their “agenda.”

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Hacked Emails Reveal; Nothing Much

So the story so far is that 13 years worth of private emails between climate scientists were hacked and released onto the net. Naturally climate-denialists are pouring though them looking for evidence of the huge white-coat conspiracy that they seem to think exists and what have they found? A hand full of quotes that out of context look a bit dodgy.

What is missed in all this hot air is that global warming's effects are happening now - the denialists are having a bureaucratic argument when we can see, from observation, the impact it is happening. They are asking us to turn our heads away from what we can see - and look though some old emails instead. Here's a few examples from the last few weeks alone:

- Warming drives off Cape Cod's namesake, other fish.
- Ravaged by drought, Madagascar feels the full effect of climate change.
- Kashmir's main glacier "melting at alarming speed".
- The Spread of New Diseases: The Climate Connection.

How do emails explain these? They don't - it's a distraction from what is already happening by the flat earth society and it stinks.

Here's an example of a cherry picked quote - this is probably the most doogy looking so far found:
"I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline."

Which sounds bad - but remember, this is private 'shop talk' discussion - so add the context and you get;
Mann said the “trick” Jones referred to was placing a chart of proxy temperature records, which ended in 1980, next to a line showing the temperature record collected by instruments from that time onward. “It’s hardly anything you would call a trick,” Mann said, adding that both charts were differentiated and clearly marked.

And as also expected: The “decline” refers to the “divergence problem”. This is where tree ring proxies diverge from modern instrumental temperature records after 1960. The divergence problem is discussed as early as 1998, suggesting a change in the sensitivity of tree growth to temperature in recent decades (Briffa 1998). It is also examined more recently in Wilmking 2008 which explores techniques in eliminating the divergence problem. So when you look at Phil Jone’s email in the context of the science discussed, it is not the schemings of a climate conspiracy but technical discussions of data handling techniques available in the peer reviewed literature.

How about this one?

You need not give yourself the trouble of examining all the calculations of the Scholium. Such errors as do not depend upon wrong reasoning can be of no great consequence & may be corrected by the reader.

Or this one?

I wrote to you on Tuesday that the last leafe of the papers you sent me should be altered because it refers to a manuscript in my private custody & not yet upon record.

Both look bad - and both are written by Isaac Newton in private letters. It shows that out of context anything can look bad. Does that means the theory of gravity is wrong?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Failing List of Evidence for Global Warming Denial

A denialist website put out - with much fanfare - a list of 450 peer reviewed articles that supported their position. I guess the idea is that - how can you argue with that much evidence? Except that, like all denier flack, it consists of more spin than substance. Watch the number tumble down as people start to sceptically examine the list... A quick look at the work being done on the list shows;

- 82 papers on the list are from a non-peer revised journal, Energy & Environment.
- 7 are known to be wrong; based on flawed science.
- A known sceptic author, Roger Pielke Jr suggests that 21 papers should not be on the list (however the list author disagreed and kept them.)

Also if you look at who wrote the papers, a huge 157 of them come from 15 authors which reads like of who's who of oil industry paid denialists. Here's a sample;

S. Fred Singer 6 (Exxon mobil's money buy his opinion)
Patrick J. Michaels 26 - connected to no less than 11 think tanks and associations that have received money from oil-giant ExxonMobil
Ross McKitrick 14 - Economist linked to ExxonMobil funded groups.
Richard S. Lindzen 15 - Member of oil funded thinktank.
Willie H. Soon 13 - Linked to a whole host of oil backed front groups.
Roy W. Spencer 6 - Writer for ExxonMobil funded dirge.

Plus a whole host of other issues the whittle the list down (and eviscerate it's credibility) from a paper that criticises research methods used 20 years ago (a bit outdated now...) to papers that are complimentary to human-cased climate change. The list is bumkum. Typical denialism, big on spin, small on substance. But here is my favourite bit of the whole debark - one researcher spotted a paper that he was the lead author of on the list. He's a bit surprised as it says nothing against human-cased climate change. Here's what he says;

I just noticed I’m the lead author on one of the papers on the list. I have absolutely no idea how that paper could be construed as “skeptical of man-made global warming.” I have no idea how it could be construed as saying anything at all about man-made global warming.

And the response of the arrogant wingnut who complied the rapidly shrinking list?

That is nice that the lead author of that paper has no idea why he is on the list, maybe he should read it before commenting in the future so he does not make ridiculous comments like that.

Yup, that's right - he's telling the author of a scientific paper that he knows less about what it means than politicised interpretation of an armchair amateur climatologist.


Reporting/Blogging Local Democracy

There has been much in the news of late about how the local newspaper model is broken and how if it fails, then local democracy will be threatened. While some local papers may hold power to account, I don't see it here with the Evening Pest. Indeed in this interesting talk the speaker, Anthony Lilley, notes that local news has not been holding power to account for some time.

That does not mean reporting on it is dead - far from it. There is a thriving eco-system of blogs - with great ones like the Bristol Blogger doing amazing work reporting on the issues that count. For example look as the top journalism on the World Cup Bids - in contrast to the Post's 'churnalism' and unquestioning support for any big business developer that saunters around the city - actually reading the small print and holding it up for scrutiny.

This is a dynamic environment - blogs come and go; for example I am sad to see that Evening Post Watch has ended - a big thanks for the work you did do. Post Watch's coverage of Carboot Circus was exemplary - new blogs arrive all the time. Its an exciting and dynamic world and growing all the time in complexity and its reflection of the diversity of the city. By contrast the Post is the same-old-same-old rah-rah cars-drivers and airports and boo-boo unions and the greenies and climate change? bugger that - build, baby build. They are a terrible example of the rotting carcass of old media.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Another Major Denier Outpost Admits Global Warming is Real

One of the memes you see a lot with deniers is that the whole human-caused global warming edifice is about to crumble. That dissent amongst the scientists is growing and the evidence against it is growing. It's all falling apart. Any moment now...

Any moment...

But it never seems to happen. Indeed the opposite seems to be the case; more and more evidence accumulates, our understanding of the climate system grows. Here's a few sample famous 'about-turns':

- In 2006 US Republican strategist Frank Luntz who had written the playbook on global warming denial for George Bush, conceded that the science was correct.

- Also in 2006 Michael Shermer, editor of Sceptic Magazine said that as a sceptic, he could no longer deny the truth of global warming.

- In 2008 Exxon, who've been funding denial for decades, conceded it was wrong before.

And now, the Canadian newspaper, the National Post, a bastion of anti-environmental, pro-big business - has had to concede to the evidence; that global warming is real and humans are causing it.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Freedom from Criticism

The right like to present itself as the guardians of this nebulous term, 'freedom' - so it is funny to see them using dodgy copyright laws to stifle criticism of them. The same legal method (crying 'copyright violation') that global warming denialist Watts used is now being used by Murdoch's Fox News;

An anonymous reader alerts us to the story that Fox News has sent a series of DMCA takedown notices to YouTube for a guy who's been putting up clips that have been popular among the "liberal" blogworld. Now, there's an open question as to whether or not these clips are fair use -- but even if we assume that they are infringing, there's an interesting element to this. They only targeted the guy who posts clips that liberal blogs are using. There are tons of other clips that conservative blogs use -- and those remained up. ... Update: Amusing. After all this started getting attention, Fox News decided to send takedowns for other content as well. Looks like once it was clear how bad this look, it realized it needed to take down the others as well.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Denialists Are a Bit Mental

So the American Physical Society rejects attempts from a tiny group of its members (0.45%) to change it's position on climate change; that it is real, humans are doing it and we must act. What is also interesting is some exhaustive research on the tiny minority pushing for this that notes how none of them works in climate science and many of them are directly linked to right-wing US think tanks and corporate lobby groups that are bastions of denial..Simples.

Now I refer you, dear reader, to Poe's Law;

Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is impossible to create a parody of Fundamentalism that SOMEONE won't mistake for the real thing.

So check this comment on Nature's blog;

It is really time to stop this silliness. 160 Physicists are not wrong. The problem is corporate America, lead by false prophets such as Mr. Gore, stand to make billions off of carbon credits, and garner other favors in the name of “saving the planet…” Needless to say, the Socialists and Marxists in our society will love the tax revenues and control of every aspect of our lives too.

The American people are wising up. We are beginning to realize this whole thing is an unholy alliance between Revolutionary Marxists and Big Environment. We know that the end goal is to wreck our lives. The planet is not in danger. There is “Global Climate Change” and there has been for billions of years. Get over it. We see you… The Blinders Are Coming Off the people and the public backlash against the Carbon Hedge Fund Scamp will be phenomenal…

So is this comment parody? It has to be!!!!

Friday, November 13, 2009

The 'Islam=Terror" Meme

I have seen lots of dull people trying to push the 'Islam=terror" meme and here we go again. It is a simplistic argument; they say - 'hey look, this terrible thing happened and the person who did it was a Muslim, so Islam must somehow be an evil thing.' It's related to the comments of Berlusconi that somehow Western Civilisation is the best and we do things in the right way and those crazy Muslims go around using violence to make their point yada yada yada.

So in Germany there was this guy who refused to move of a swing in a park to let a little kid on it. A row ensued and the guy (born in Russia, now German) racially abused her (screaming "terrorist" and "Islamist whore" at her). How did she respond? She used the very civilised means on taking him to court for defamation. His response? Stab her 18 times in the court room and kill her.

Does that mean Russians and/or Germans and/or Christians are inherently evil? No - the actions of a minority do not define the majority. Religions go though phases - sometimes violent and sometimes not, just like the other creations of humanity, they are nothing more than a reflection of the culture that creates them. Nothing inherently magic and/or evil in that.

First off you can't tar 'Islam' with the same brush of being 'backward'. Yes it's a few hundred years younger than Christianity (look where that was 400 years ago; religious wars-a-g-go) but it also comes on lots of shapes and sizes; some moderate and some not. In the main it is an expression of the cultural background of the faith. There is good research proving that all religious go though phases of tolerance and intolerance and it all depends on the political and social context. There is a excellent presentation on this evidence here: Wanna change to context? Let's get a just solution to the Israel/Palestine situation that guarantees human rights to all in the region. That will take the wind out of the extremist sails....

Second surveys of Muslims in Europe have shown them, on average, to have the same attitudes to things like democracy as the rest of the population. Sure nutters exist who want to ban alcohol and corporal punishment - but we also find Christian versions of the same. Witness the explosion of child-murders in Africa driven by fear of witch-children cursing people - and this is all against a Christian backdrop.

Third in Jason Burke's excellent book about Al Qaeda, he notes that the best defence against radical Islam is moderate Islam. Tell all Muslims, including the moderates that part of their cultural identity is 'backwards' just pushes them into the hands of extremists.

Now I'm an atheist - I think all religion is bunkum, and fundamentalist Islam is a horrible poison. But the tactics of pushing polarisation onto the debate, trying to fight extremism with extremism. Bad idea all round. You fight fundamentalist Islam with the values of tolerance, freedom and fair-play.

Denialists Get a Kicking

There has been a smoke-and-mirrors debate at the American Physical Society - where a tiny group of members have tried to get the organisation to change it's stance on climate change. Well the results are in and conclusive...

Emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities are changing the atmosphere in ways that affect the Earth's climate. Greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide as well as methane, nitrous oxide and other gases. They are emitted from fossil fuel combustion and a range of industrial and agricultural processes.

The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring. If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth’s physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now.

Because the complexity of the climate makes accurate prediction difficult, the APS urges an enhanced effort to understand the effects of human activity on the Earth’s climate, and to provide the technological options for meeting the climate challenge in the near and longer terms. The APS also urges governments, universities, national laboratories and its membership to support policies and actions that will reduce the emission of greenhouse gases.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Bastard Squad Collective kicks up a fuss

Check it out!!!

Saturday 5th December '09

The Bastard Squad Collective kicks up a fuss, with...

(wide-ranging and heartfelt anarcho-punk since 1987, from Poland)

(indomitable Bristolian punk/ska/dub still going from strength to strength)

(Bournemouth DIY ska-core how it used to be done!)


(ska with a twist of lounge by Sailsbury punx)

Benefit for Bristol Anarchist Black Cross - supporting radical prisoners

@ The White Hart, Whitehall Road, Easton, Bristol
8pm start, £5 on the door

Monday, November 09, 2009

Fred Singer - Is that the best they've got?

I listened to a radio program which had one of the handful of climate deniers who are proper scientists; Fred Singer. Not very credible given he also denies the link of cigarette smoke and cancer and the dangers of DDT. Here's a few quotes from Mr Singer: "There's nothing we can really do to effect the climate. We might be able, if we work really, really hard to change slightly the level of CO2 in the atmosphere." He then goes on to talk about the burning of oil and gas; "Human activity is changing the composition of the atmosphere slightly."

On all the evidence on melting ice caps and increased sea temperatures; "I don't pay much attention to that and I'll tell you why. If glaciers are melting all it tells you is that it is getting a little warmer - we don't need falsifiers to tell us that, we have thermometers."

Finally; "I don't' make predictions about the future."

Shocking - so he doubts that change is happening, doubts that humans are causing it, dismisses the evidence and ignores the stuff that does not fit his narrow world view.

In summary a confused, ill-informed mess of the usual denial memes stating the warming is not a problem, its all natural anyway, it's really cooling, humans are not to blame blah blah.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Denialist Hosted on Own Petard

Here's a classic of denialist logic. A survey is done that supports the view that global warming is real, we're causing it and it is serious. In this case it is the Catlin team. How does one commentator respond? With denialism...

The denalists accuse the survey team of lying, deception, making up data, incompetence and endangering others. Here are some samples;

"The whole thing was a publicity stunt, with little scientific value. Their findings have nothing of value to say about global warming, one way or the other."

"Ill-planned, ill-thought out."

"It seems to me that Catlin have conducted a useless and dangerous mission, (in the best traditions of British exploring) putting their lives and those of others at risk."

And so forth, yadda, yadda.

Their evidence? That a German team also did research into the ice-thickness but using different methods and finding different results. This sent the denial crew into a tizzy;

"As the Catlin team floundered on the ice the Germans meanwhile were doing real science."

"the catlin data though doubtful,is in line with various other observations. 1.77m is quite thick for first year's ice agreeing with the much better planned and executed German mission that stated that arctic ice was thicker than expected."

So this seems like another slam-dunk for the team denial. Except that, as per usual only half the story is told; What the German team found was;

a) The two surveys were clearly not studying the same region.

b) The Polar 5 expedition actually says that they saw localized thickening compared to recent years, which leads to the conclusion that Arctic ice cover recovers temporarily.

Which led a commenter to ask the denial team:

And now that you have admitted that the Polar 5 expedition produced good science and reliable results, will you endorse its actual conclusion, that the long term trend is thinning of the ice although there is some short term thickening?

After big-ing up the German research - which they had only read re-workings of from denialist websites, they were hoisted on their own petard. Such fun.

Answer to that from team denial? Silence. Then more white-noise about other fake-memes.

Reminds me of a fun debate on Bristol Indymedia where denialists cited a report suggesting increased numbers of polar bears as evidence - except they had not bothered to read the real research, which found localised increases in numbers as the animals moved closer to human settlements due to loss of habitat from global warming.

Answer to that from team denial? Silence. Then more white-noise about other fake-memes.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Climate Crap at the Economist

A denialist writes to the Economist. I quote the letter with responses...

SIR – Indur Goklany questioned whether global warming has caused an increase in droughts and floods (Letters, October 10th). In fact, the answer is already well settled. That question was examined thoroughly by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. In its 2001 report, one chapter, titled “Has climate variability, or have climate extremes, changed?”, concluded that there was no discernible increase in storms, hurricanes, floods or droughts. A re-examination of that issue therefore seemed unnecessary in the IPCC’s 2007 report.

That is simply not true. For example, the 2007 report did cover hurricanes the report concluded that it is more likely than not (>50%) that there has been some human contribution to the increases in hurricane intensity and that is likely (>66%) that we will see increases in hurricane intensity during the 21st century. Now the science in this area is still uncertain and that is the point - more is being done all the time and to suggest that the lack of evidence either way is evidence for the negative is a classic 'god-of-the-gaps' sleight of hand.

Concerning rising sea levels, this is a more complex issue since a natural increase of 1-2mm a year has been occurring for many centuries. However, over the past few decades no anthropogenic signal in sea-level changes has been detected. This is firmly backed up by precise satellite altimetry.

Again, simply untrue. There is a rise in sea level going on and it is a worry to the scientists. The satellite in question that gets the data has only been up since 2002, so more data is needed. But again we see the lack of the full picture being used as evidence for the negative.

Meanwhile it was just last month that Professor Mojib Latif of the University of Kiel in Germany, a renowned climate expert and IPCC author, presented his latest work at the World Climate Conference in Geneva. His findings show that the mean global temperature has actually declined since 2001. Moreover, his computer models predict a further temperature drop over the coming decades. All of this beckons the question: just where are the supposedly detrimental effects of anthropogenic CO2?

Classic. Half the story (and the wrong half) being presented as the full picture. This should set the bullshit detectors to max!! Mojib Latif's presentation was about the fact that there are variations in the cycle where for periods the temperature will drop - relative to overall increase - but that this drop will be temporary and still matches the upward trend. The denialist has missed the entire point of the presentation - but that's cherry picking for you. Latif is unequivocal - the temperature is rising and we are causing it.

Horst-Joachim Luedecke
Retired professor of physics
Heidelberg, Germany

Well Mr Retired professor of physics - it is clear that any scientific principals you once had have been checked in at the door when it comes to climate science.