Wednesday, July 18, 2012

State Of The Climate

Australia's CSIRO has released a free on-line booklet called State of the Climate 2012, which encapsulates our current knowledge of of the science of climate change. Well worth downloading.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Two Centuries of Global Warming Knowledge

Skeptical Science has produced an interesting three-part series following the development of climate science over the past two hundred years. It makes a good platform for discussion with those who think climate science is a young discipline. The series draws its timeline from the comprehensive information in Spencer Weart's The Discovery of Global Warming, which I also recommend.

Part I
Part II
Part III

Sunday, April 29, 2012

I Can't Change Your Mind About Climate

Recently, Australia's ABC broadcast a programme called I Can Change Your Mind About Climate. In it, retired conservative politician Nick Minchin was pitted against young climate activist Anna Rose. Each tried to change the other's entrenched position on climate change, but neither succeeded. The programme was based on the premise that there is a scientific debate about AGW, in spite of the reality that the only debate now is about what to do about it - a political debate, not a scientific one.

The programme was reviewed at Skeptical Science and a follow-up article at The Drum neatly summarised the event. Of special interest in these two threads are the comments from both sides of the political divide. Warning: some of the comments are so inane that your head may explode, unless held in a vice.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A Code of Conduct for Effective Rational Discussion

The following is a repost from Limbic Nutrition, which is, itself, taken from: “Attacking Faulty Reasoning: A Practical Guide to Fallacy-Free Arguments” by T. Edward Damer (Amazon ( .com)

A Code of Conduct for Effective Rational Discussion

The Fallibility Principle

When alternative positions on any disputed issue are under review, each participant in the discussion should acknowledge that possibly none of the positions presented is deserving of acceptance and that, at best, only one of them is true or the most defensible position. Therefore, it is possible that thorough examination of the issue will reveal that one’s own initial position is a false or indefensible one.

The Truth-Seeking Principle

Each participant should be committed to the task of earnestly searching for the truth or at least the most defensible position on the issue at stake. Therefore, one should be willing to examine alternative positions seriously, look for insights in the positions of others, and allow other participants to present arguments for or raise objections to any position held with regard to any disputed issue.

The Clarity Principle

The formulations of all positions, defences, and attacks should be free of any kind of linguistic confusion and clearly separated from other positions and issues.

The Burden of Proof Principle

The burden of proof for any position usually rests on the participant who sets forth the position. If and when an opponent asks, the proponent should provide an argument for that position.

The Principle of Charity

If a participant’s argument is reformulated by an opponent, it should be expressed in the strongest possible version that is consistent with the original intention of the arguer. If there is any question about that intention or about implicit parts of the argument, the arguer should be given the benefit of any doubt in the reformulation.

The Relevance Principle

One who presents an argument for or against a position should attempt to set forth only reasons that are directly related to the merit of the position at issue.

The Acceptability Principle

One who presents an argument for or against a position should attempt to use reasons that are mutually acceptable to the participants and that meet standard criteria of acceptability.

The Sufficiency Principle

One who presents an argument for or against a position should attempt to provide reasons that are sufficient in number, kind, and weight to support the acceptance of the conclusion

The Rebuttal Principle

One who presents an argument for or against a position should attempt to provide an effective rebuttal to all serious challenges to the argument or the position it supports and to the strongest argument on the other side of the issue.

The Resolution Principle

An issue should be considered resolved if the proponent for one of the alternative positions successfully defends that position by presenting an argument that uses relevant and acceptable premises that together provide sufficient grounds to support the conclusion and provides an effective rebuttal to all serious challenges to the argument or position at issue. Unless one can demonstrate that these conditions have not been met, one should accept the conclusion of the successful argument and consider the issue, for all practical purposes, to be settled. In the absence of a successful argument for any of the alternative positions, one is obligated to accept the position that is supported by the best of the good arguments presented.

The Suspension of Judgement Principle

If no position comes close to being successfully defended, or if two or more positions seem to be defended with equal strength, one should, in most cases, suspend judgment about the issue. If practical considerations seem to require an immediate decision, one should weigh the relative risks of gain or loss connected with the consequences of suspending judgment and decide the issue on those grounds.

The Reconsideration Principle

If a successful or at least good argument for a position is subsequently found by any participant to be flawed in a way that raises new doubts about the merit of that position, one is obligated to reopen the issue for further consideration and resolution.

Fleck’s Addendum


Saturday, March 31, 2012

Speaking of Monckton and Misinformation ...

The activist group 'GetUp' has posted a video of Chris Monckton suggesting that wealthy Australians pool resources to start an Australian version of Fox News. As an improvement over other versions of the video, this version has overlays of the transcript, making m'Lud's sometimes inaudible mumblings clearer. Faux News Australia: that's all we need to spoil a perfect country!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Chris Monckton, Self Publicist And Humourist

That paragon of all things aristocratically English, Christopher Monckton, has styled himself an expert on everything to do with Climate Change. Admittedly, he has no scientific background and has never published a scientific paper in a reputable, peer-reviewed journal, on anything to do with the subject, but that has not prevented him from admitting to be what must surely rank as a genius on the subject. His appointment as an advisor to the Science And Public Policy Institute was accompanied by an interesting biographical note:
Chief Policy Adviser: Lord Monckton, UK: -- Christopher, Third Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, was Special Advisor to Margaret Thatcher as UK Prime Minister from 1982 to 1986, and gave policy advice on technical issues such as warship hydrodynamics (his work led to his appointment as the youngest Trustee of the Hales Trophy for the Blue Riband of the Atlantic), psephological modeling (predicting the result of the 1983 General Election to within one seat), embryological research, hydrogeology (leading to the award of major financial assistance to a Commonwealth country for the construction of a very successful hydroelectric scheme), public-service investment analysis (leading to savings of tens of billions of pounds), public welfare modeling (his model of the UK tax and benefit system was, at the time, more detailed than the Treasury's economic model, and led to a major simplification of the housing benefit system), and epidemiological analysis. On leaving 10 Downing Street, he established a successful specialist consultancy company, giving technical advice to corporations and governments. His two articles in the Sunday Telegraph late in 2006 debunking the climate-change "consensus" received more hits to the newspaper's website than any other in the paper's history: the volume of hits caused the link to crash. His contribution to the IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report in 2007 - the correction of a table inserted by IPCC bureaucrats that had overstated tenfold the observed contribution of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets to sea-level rise - earned him the status of Nobel Peace Laureate. His Nobel prize pin, made of gold recovered from a physics experiment, was presented to him by the Emeritus Professor of Physics at the University of Rochester, New York, USA. He has lectured at university physics departments on the quantification of climate sensitivity, on which he is widely recognized as an expert, and his limpid analysis of the climate-feedback factor was published on the famous climate blog of Roger Pielke, Sr. His lecture to undergraduates at the Cambridge Union Society on climate change has been released by SPPI as Apocalypse? NO!, a full-length feature movie on high-definition DVD (available from Apocalypse? NO! been described by Professor Larry Gould of the University of Hartford, Connecticut, as the best film ever made on climate change.
Interestingly, this bio does not list his qualifications, but that can be solved by looking at Wikipedia:
Monckton was educated at Harrow School and Churchill College, Cambridge, where he received an BA/MA(Cambs.) in classics in 1974, and at University College, Cardiff, where he obtained a diploma in journalism studies. He is also a qualified Day Skipper with the Royal Yachting Association
 A Day Skipper, no less! Well, at least we have that in common.

Let's examine his bio item by item.

Third Viscount Monckton of Brenchley: Indeed, he is. To quote Wikipedia:
Although Monckton inherited a peerage, he did so after the passing of the House of Lords Act 1999, which provided that hereditary peers would no longer have an automatic right to sit and vote in the House of Lords. Monckton asserts that the Act is flawed and unconstitutional, and has referred to himself as "a member of the Upper House of the United Kingdom legislature" in a letter to US Senators and also as "a member of the Upper House but without the right to sit or vote."

The House of Lords authorities have said Monckton is not and never has been a member and that there is no such thing as a non-voting or honorary member of the House. In July 2011 the House took the "unprecedented step" of publishing online a cease and desist letter to Monckton from the Clerk of the Parliaments, which concluded, "I am publishing this letter on the parliamentary website so that anybody who wishes to check whether you are a Member of the House of Lords can view this official confirmation that you are not."
Nevertheless, he has been using a portcullis device, on his letterheads and on slides during his lectures, that looks remarkably like the House of Lords device. I found the following image at Barry Bickmore's blog:

The House of Lords device is described on Wikipedia as:
The principal emblem of the House is the Crowned Portcullis. It is a royal badge and its use by the House has been formally authorised by licence granted by Her Majesty the Queen. The designs and symbols of the House should not be used for purposes to which such authentication is inappropriate, or where there is a risk that their use might wrongly be regarded, or represented, as having the authority of the House.
Monckton reckons that he is not attempting to mislead anyone, according to The Guardian:
Monckton argues his use of the portcullis emblem, which has appeared on his letterheads and lecture presentations, does not breach any rules: "My logo is not a registered badge of parliament, and is plainly distinct from parliament's badge in numerous material respects. The Lords do not use the portcullis at all on their notepaper: they use the Royal Arms within an elliptical cartouche."

A House of Lords spokeswoman said: "The emblem is property of the Queen, and Parliament has a Royal Licence granted for its use. Any misuse of the emblem by either members or non-members breaches this licence, and if a person refuses to stop using it the matter is drawn to the attention of the Lord Chamberlain, who is an Officer of the Royal Household. The Lord Chamberlain has been contacted regarding Lord Monckton's use of the emblem, and it will fall to him to follow up on any misuse of the emblem."
Our redoubtable Barry Bickmore seems to have caught m'Lud telling porkies, in that case:
Well, I was going through some video footage of Monckton and noted that when Monckton testified before a committee of the U.S. Congress in 2009, one congressman asked Monckton whether his logo was some kind of coat of arms.  Monckton replied,
No sir, that is the portcullis, the symbol of the House of Lords….
I leave it to you to judge whether Lord Monckton is being as transparently honest as one might wish, when he uses his "plainly distinct" logo. On his notepaper, no less?

Special Advisor to Margaret Thatcher as UK Prime Minister from 1982 to 1986, and gave policy advice on technical issues such as warship hydrodynamics: Curiously, his Wikipedia page is much less fulsome:

He wrote a paper on the privatisation of council housing by means of a rent-to-mortgages scheme that brought him to the attention of Downing Street. Ferdinand Mount, the head of the Number 10 Policy Unit and a former CPS director, brought Monckton into the Policy Unit in 1982. He was recruited as a domestic specialist with responsibilities for housing and parliamentary affairs, working alongside Mount and Peter Shipley on projects such as the phasing out of council housing. He left the unit in 1986 to become assistant editor of the newly established, and now defunct, tabloid newspaper Today.
No mention there of being a "Special Advisor to Margaret Thatcher", or giving "policy advice on technical issues such as warship hydrodynamics". Oh, well, perhaps Wikipedia is just following m'Lud's example of excessive modesty.

Trustee of the Hales Trophy for the Blue Riband of the Atlantic: His Wikipedia page tells us that he:
has been a trustee of the Hales Trophy for the Blue Riband of the Atlantic since 1986.
His SPPI bio entry, above, says that his "policy advice on technical issues such as warship hydrodynamics ... led to his appointment as the youngest Trustee of the Hales Trophy", but Wikipedia fails to explain this linkage of cause and effect. Oh, well, more modesty probably. One does wonder what possible policy advice he could give in a field where he is patently lacking in qualification, but that does not seem to be an impediment to his achievements in this sphere,or in the sphere of the science of Climate Change.

... psephological modeling (predicting the result of the 1983 General Election to within one seat), embryological research, hydrogeology (leading to the award of major financial assistance to a Commonwealth country for the construction of a very successful hydroelectric scheme), public-service investment analysis (leading to savings of tens of billions of pounds), public welfare modeling (his model of the UK tax and benefit system was, at the time, more detailed than the Treasury's economic model, and led to a major simplification of the housing benefit system), and epidemiological analysis: This is a veritable gallop through the roses of his career, but I have found no supporting evidence for most of it. He was, indeed, a member of the Number 10 Policy Unit, as described above, with special focus on housing, but his litany of achievements there seems not to have made it to Wikipedia, or anywhere else that I have discovered.

The nearest I can find to leadership in the fields of embryological research and epidemiological analysis is his world-leading medical breakthrough, which has not (yet) earned him a Nobel Prize. I am sure the award is in the mail as I write. What breakthrough is that? Why, his cure for some dreadful human afflictions, of course:
Resurrexi Pharmaceutical is stated on the UK Independence Party (UKIP) web site to be a company of which Monckton is a director. In the BBC documentary, "Meet the Sceptics" (2011), Monckton, said he had cured himself of Graves' disease an auto-immune disease thought to have been triggered either by a one-time virus or bacterial infection, and said he was researching a "broad-spectrum cure" for infectious diseases. UKIP's CV for Monckton states that "patients have been cured of various infectious diseases, including Graves' Disease, multiple sclerosis, influenza, and herpes simplex 6. Our first HIV patient had his viral titre reduced by 38% in five days, with no side-effects. Tests continue."
Test continue. What an understatement. Perhaps  Resurrexi Pharmaceutical is doing the embryological research and epidemiological analysis on his behalf, or perhaps his directorship entitles him to wear a lab coat, which, no doubt, has a pink portcullis embroidered on the breast pocket. Imagine that: a man with a classics degree, diploma in journalism and a Day Skipper qualification doing actual, hands-on, down-and-dirty embryological research. One can only stand in awe of such gifts.

Of course, there is always his television appearance on the subject. Peter Sinclair, at Climate Denial Crock Of The Week posted an amusing little piece about 4 minutes long. Check it out at around the 3 minute mark:

On leaving 10 Downing Street, he established a successful specialist consultancy company, giving technical advice to corporations and governments: Surprisingly, under the heading of 'Entrepreneurship', Wikipedia notes only that
In 1995, Monckton and his wife opened Monckton's, a shirt shop in King's Road, Chelsea.
Perhaps he offered  technical advice to corporations and governments from a small room out the back, next to the fitting room.

His contribution to the IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report in 2007 - the correction of a table inserted by IPCC bureaucrats that had overstated tenfold the observed contribution of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets to sea-level rise - earned him the status of Nobel Peace Laureate: Wikipedia makes no mention of this, which one would really think would be of the utmost moment to such a biographical entry.

When Monckton was in Australia, he was interviewed by Adam Spencer and the following exchange took place:
Spencer: Are you a Nobel Laureate as is claimed on many websites?
Monckton: I don’t know what websites… there is no website that I control that says any such thing.
Interestingly, Australian journalist Hugh Riminton did some real research into this claim:
For some time - Google “Monckton” and “Nobel Prize” and see for yourself - the great sceptic-in-chief has been passing himself off as a Nobel Laureate.

Cornered last month by the Sydney Morning Herald, he reportedly said it was “a joke, a joke.”

Yet the website of his organisation, the Science and Public Policy Institute - as of yesterday - continues to press the claim (see page 2).

The site is extremely specific. Lord Monckton “earned the status of Nobel Peace Laureate (through) his contribution to the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report in 2007.”

That contribution itself is detailed. Furthermore, the website continues, “his Nobel Prize pin…was presented to him by the Emeritus Professor of Physics at the University of Rochester, New York.”

What credible person would not correct the error immediately - if it is indeed an error.

To be sure, I rang the Nobel Committee that administers the Peace Prize.

Committee secretary Geir Lundestat had never heard of Lord Monckton. I emailed him the Monckton website.

“The claim is ridiculous,” said Lundestat. “He is not a laureate - no way, no way.”

Thousands of people, he said, participated in the program of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which shared the 2007 prize with Al Gore.

“But the organisation won the prize. Not even Dr Rajendra Pachauri (the chair of the IPCC) is an individual laureate.”

No individual, no matter what their involvement with the IPCC, can pass themselves off an a Nobel Laureate.

As for Lord Monckton’s Nobel Prize pin?

“It certainly wasn’t issued by us,” said Lundestat. “We have no pin.”
Curiouser and curiouser.

The Science And Public Policy Institute was certainly making this claim, as can be seen from the archived copy of his biographical note. The current version of that note does not include the claim, but the letter to McCain is still available there.

The current version of his bio at SPPI makes other claims:
Lord Monckton’s knowledge of the science and politics behind “global warming” is noted for its breadth and depth. He has given speeches, lectures, and university seminars in the US and all over the world, is widely consulted by governments, corporations, and professors, and has authored numerous papers on the climate issue for the layman, as well as for the scientific journals.
Yes, that's right: His Lordship's knowledge of the science and politics behind global warming is noted for its breadth and depth. They obviously meant to include the highth as well, but couldn't figure out how to spell it. To quote an appropriate source, The Goon Show, he must be known "through the length and longth of the land" for his remarkable scientific mind. I have no doubt he has special skills in the politics side of things, but the science? With no education in the field?

What about the claim that he "has authored numerous papers on the climate issue for the layman, as well as for the scientific journals"? Sadly, I could not find a relevant scientific paper authored by CW Monckton when I used Google Scholar. I did find a reference to “Shoe-fit”-a computerised shoe print database at IEEE (could there be another CW Monckton doing shoe research?), a commentary entitled "Free speech about climate change" (in the abstract to which he is described as follows: "3rd Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, is a member of the British House of Lords." - I thought we had dealt with that, but it keeps popping up), a Guest Column called Uncertainty in Climate Modeling ostensibly by S. Fred Singer (a noted Climate Change "skeptic") but for which CW Monckton is given co-author status by Google Scholar; but of scientific papers published in reputable scientific journals there seem to be none.

The clue must be in their next sentence:
Many of his papers are published at
Ah - now I see! He is Chief Policy Adviser at SPPI. SPPI publish his papers. Ergo, SPPI is a scientific journal. The reference to scientific journals plural must be an accidental typo.

I must admit to being a teensy bit concerned that the SPPI has been indulging in a tad of astroturfing. Perhaps I am being unkind.

To continue examining his bio at SPPI:
He has lectured at university physics departments on the quantification of climate sensitivity, on which he is widely recognized as an expert: This claim in his bio is unsupported by any references. The claim of "widely recognised" is obscure: exactly who recognises him as an expert? We are left wondering.

and his limpid analysis of the climate-feedback factor was published on the famous climate blog of Roger Pielke, Sr.: Roger Pielke, Sr. is widely recognised as one of the few scientists going against the concensus scientific position on Climate Change. For Monckton to be published on Pielke's blog may be more an indication of Pielke's scientific rigour these days than an accolade for Monckton. Pielke has been criticised for inaccurate teaching of climate science in the past, so Monckton may do well to dissociate himself from the possible whiff of junk science there.

His lecture to undergraduates at the Cambridge Union Society on climate change has been released by SPPI as Apocalypse? NO!, a full-length feature movie on high-definition DVD (available from Monckton is Chief Policy Adviser at SPPI. SPPI publish his lecture as a feature-length movie. Another circular reference. Perhaps it is appropriate that it is available from

Apocalypse? NO! been described by Professor Larry Gould of the University of Hartford, Connecticut, as the best film ever made on climate change: Wow! A film critic and a Professor, no less! But who is Larry Gould? Once again, we are indebted to the SPPI. On a page labelled Proved: There is No Climate Crisis is this quote:
Larry Gould, Professor of Physics at the University of Hartford and Chair (2004) of the New England Section of the American Physical Society (APS), has been studying climate-change science for four years.
As much as four years! Fancy that! Well, perhaps he is an unbiased witness, so let's see what he said:
“I was impressed by an hour-long academic lecture which criticized claims about ‘global warming’ and explained the implications of the physics of radiative transfer for climate change. I was pleased that the audience responded to the informative presentation with a prolonged, standing ovation. That is what happened when, at the invitation of the President of our University, Christopher Monckton lectured here in Hartford this spring. I am delighted that Physics and Society, an APS journal, has published his detailed paper refining and reporting his important and revealing results.‘
“To me the value of this paper lies in its dispassionate but ruthlessly clear exposition – or, rather, exposé – of the IPCC’s method of evaluating climate sensitivity. The detailed arguments in this paper, and, indeed, in a large number of other scientific papers, point up extensive errors, including numerous projection errors of climate models, as well as misleading statements by the IPCC. Consequently, there are no rational grounds for believing either the IPCC or any other claims of dangerous anthropogenic ‘global warming’.”
Ah! Did you spot that? He refers to Monckton having been published in "Physics and Society, an APS journal". Sadly, I could find no record of 'Physics and Society' being a scientific, peer-reviewed journal. Perhaps it is and I have been looking in all the wrong places. From the tenor of the second paragraph, I infer that Professor Gould is a Climate Change "skeptic", just like Pielke Sr. and Monckton. Perhaps it is no surprise that what must seem such a gushingly fulsome piece of sycophancy should be published on the SPPI web site, where the "dispassionate but ruthless" Monckton holds court.

So, what have we learned here? About all that I have learned in doing this research is
  • Lord Monckton is good at promoting himself
  • He must have a sense of humour, as evidenced in his response to the question about his Nobel Prize: "a joke, a joke.”

A joke. That sums it up for me.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Five Stages of Climate Change Denial

  1. Climate change isn’t happening.
  2. Climate change is happening, but it’s part of the Earth’s natural cycles.
  3. Climate change is happening, it may well be due to human activity, but it’s generally beneficial.
  4. Climate change is happening, it’s probably due to human activity, but it’s not going to be as bad as the computer models suggest.
  5. Climate change is happening, it is caused by human activity, it’s a really bad thing, but there’s very little we can do about it and there are lots of other bad things we should attack first.

Funny how they bypass "Climate change is happening, it is caused by human activity, it’s a really bad thing and we have a moral duty to do whatever we can to mitigate it, even though there are lots of other bad things we should attack at the same time".

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

In 1982, The Science On AGW Was Settled!

To confound those who say the science on AGW is new and untested, Peter Sinclair at Climate Denial Crock Of The Week has created this 10-minute video. If you can watch this and still claim the science is not "in", you are welcome to tell me why.

Hat tip to Skeptical Science, which put me onto this.

A Catastrophe In Three Dimensions

I encountered an interesting movie (1hr 17min) on YouTube, that ClimateProgress describes thusly:

"The Crisis Of Civilization is a documentary feature film investigating how global crises like ecological disaster, financial meltdown, dwindling oil reserves, terrorism and food shortages are converging symptoms of a single, failed global system. Proving that 'another world' is not merely possible, but on its way."

Cheerful little flick. If you want to see how we are circling the plug-hole in the bathtub of dystopia, watch the movie:

The Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) in Germany have just released a report which supports the premise that one ecological disaster, anthropogenic global warming (AGW), is already having nasty impacts upon our little blue marble, our lifeboat, Earth.
"At least for extreme rainfall and heat waves the link with human-caused global warming is clear, the scientists show"

On a more cheerful note, I encountered a new word the other day: brane. I thought it was a misprint for 'brain', but it is much more interesting than that.

Definition: (from
"(physics) A hypothetical object extending across a number of (often specified) spatial dimensions, with strings in string theory seen as one-dimensional examples."

Definition: (from
"In theoretical physics, a brane (short for membrane) is an object which can have any number of allowed dimensions. Branes are most popular for their presence in string theory, where it is a fundamental object, along with the string.

String theory has 9 space dimensions, so a brane can have anywhere from 0 to 9 dimensions. Branes were hypothesized as part of string theory in the late 1980s. In 1995, Joe Polchinski realized that Edward Witten's proposed M-Theory required the existence of branes.

Some physicists have proposed that our own universe is in fact a 3-dimensional brane, on which we are "stuck" within a larger 9-dimensional space, to explain why we can't perceive the extra dimensions.
Also Known As: membrane, D-brane, p-brane, n-brane"

So there you have it. We are stuck in a piddling three dimensions, where we are in grave danger of stuffing up our existence in any number of creative ways and with little hope of reaching any of the other dimensions which we have not (presumably) managed to pollute yet. Inhabitants of the other six dimensions would do well to ensure that we never figure out how to reach them.

Makes one despair for our species, dunnit?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Lord Christopher Monckton Missing In Action

Our well-know climate change sceptic, Christopher Walter Monckton, 3rd Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, evidently does not like his public persona to be sullied with such trivia as supporting his claims in writing, on line, in a forum where what he says can be challenged.

Recently, he engaged in a conversation with Peter Hadfield (Potholer54)at WattsUpWithThat, where Peter challenged some of his information. After a short while, during which Monckton substantially failed to address Peter's questions, Monckton departed the debate, claiming more pressing business.

Peter Hadfield was subsequently interviewed by Peter Sinclair at Climate Crocks:

This interview upset Anthony Watts to the extent that Watts has closed the conversation between Hadfield and Monckton: follow the link and look for Anthony's response to the comment posted at 8.13 a.m., March 24, in which he says:
REPLY: While I can’t hear what Hadfield is saying (he sounds like a British mumble to me) they seem totally infatuated with their manhunt, so much for Hadfield’s repeated claims of being “dispassionate and logical”. Thanks for posting this. When he starts colluding with that hateful “greenman”, all semblance of rational debate is destroyed.
This video then cements my decision not to provide any further space to Hadfield here. – Anthony
So, the conversation, on a site of Monckton's choosing and where he gets support, has been closed because Hadfield spoke to Sinclair? The conversation has been closed by Watts, not by Monckton? Monckton just walks away and leaves his friends to clean up the mess? Shameful. Monckton does not come out of this with any respectable reputation left intact.

The conversation at WattsUpWithThat is the only case I am aware of in which Monckton has been convinced to start a debate in which all his claims can be scrutinised and debunked. Evidently, Monckton has a problem with exposing his claims to the light of investigation.

For more on this engrossing saga, visit Skeptical Science and Climate Crocks, where you will be both enlightened and entertained.

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Ecosystem Is Failing!

(See the full story at Skeptical Science, where this appeared.)

If only we could fix the problem by giving nature a soft reboot, without returning the planet to the manufacturer for a reformat and installation of a new operating system.

Slartibartfast, come back, all is forgiven!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Cost Of Going Nuclear Free

In my blog post Germany wants nuclear exit by 2022 last year, I suggested that Germany would find it hard to achieve a nuclear-free economy, In a recent article, the Washington Post reports how Japan and Germany are trying to go nuclear free and the negative effect this is having on their greenhouse gas emissions.

This exposes the fallacy that an advanced society can function in a low pollution energy environment. If fossil carbon is not to be burnt, then fossil radiation becomes the only current source of energy which can meet the demand for base-load electricity.

Our technology has brought us to where we are, but has not yet solved the vexed question of where we are going. The much-discussed hydrogen economy is years away from coming into existence, despite the best efforts of cutting edge research and development programs. Fast breeder reactors, which promise to operate on fuel which is discarded from existing nuclear power plants, have not been developed. Fusion reactors are at least a generation away from successful operation. The tin-foil hat brigade would have us believe in magical energy sources ranging from gravity waves to cosmic rays.

Nobody, anywhere, has demonstrated a source of energy which will be the silver bullet to end our emissions of CO2. Nobody, anywhere, has demonstrated a cheap power source with the energy density of fossil carbon, to drive our complex transport systems.

Nobody, anywhere, has demonstrated a get-out-of-jail-free card that will solve the problem of an unsupportable human population.

As for me, I'm going to ramp up the growing of my own food, to support my family when the cost of participating in our high-tech society becomes unbearable.

The future is not looking like the past.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Expert James Hansen On AGW Solutions

In this video (18 minutes), Dr. James Hansen delivers a talk at TED, outlining the threat we face and proposing a solution which would at least start us in the right direction.

To quote Martin Lack, here is a summary of the problems we are now facing:
  1. The Earth’s current energy imbalance is 0.6 Watts per sq.m.; a rate of energy input 20 times greater than the energy output of all human activity; and equivalent to the detonation of 400,000 Hiroshima-type atomic bombs every day.
  2. Since measurements began in 2003, there has been a noticeable acceleration in the annual rate of mass loss from both the Greenland and Antarctica ice caps.
  3. The last time atmospheric CO2 was 390 ppm, sea levels were 15 m higher than they are today, which implies even if we stopped burning all fossil fuels tomorrow, this is where they would end up several centuries from now because the warming “is already in the pipeline” (i.e. because the Earth must warm-up in order to restore its energy balance).
  4. Unless we stop burning fossil fuels soon, sea level rise will continue to accelerate, which is likely to cause between 1 and 5 metre rise by 2100AD depending on how quickly we stop.
  5. Palaeoclimatology tells us that 350 ppm is the safe limit for avoiding significant disruption to the planet’s ecological carrying capacity (i.e. in terms of both populations of individual species and overall biodivesity); and it now seems likely that between 20%-50% of all species will be “ticketed for extinction” by the end of the century.
  6. If we push the Earth beyond it’s “tipping point” (i.e. allow all the emerging positive feedback mechanisms to take hold); ACD will become unstoppable; and the ensuing socio-economic damage will be almost unimaginable. The total global cost of mitigation is already put at somewhere between 35 and 70 Trillion US Dollars depending on how soon we choose to act.
  7. If we had started to get off fossil fuels in 2005, it would have required 3% reduction per year in order to restore energy imbalance by 2100AD. If we start next year, it will require 6% p.a. If we wait 10 years it will require 15% p.a.
  8. Recent droughts in Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico were 3 Standard Deviations outside the norm. Events such as these cannot therefore be ascribed to natural variability; anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) is happening just as Hansen said it would 24 years ago (if we did not change course – which we haven’t).
  9. Pursuing emissions limits (i.e. Cap and Trade) will not work because there is no actual incentive to reduce emissions without any self-imposed restraint being to the advantage of others who do not do the same (i.e. the Tragedy of the Commons problem).
  10. Hansen uses the analogy of an approaching asteroid – the longer we wait to prevent it hitting us the harder it becomes to do so.
Clearly, the fact that people are still denying that there is a threat is an indictment of our political leaders and the opinion leaders in the main stream media.

The Earth is warming, it is because of us and it will be bad.

Every day we delay in addressing the threat makes the bad outcomes worse.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

So you think our carbon-dioxide emissions are not a problem?

Here is a depiction of CO2 levels over the last 800,000 years, also showing current and projected levels over the coming century or so:
h/t Another Nail In The Coffin

Of course, one needs to look at this in the context of how long human civilisation has been around:
Image by John Garrett. h/t Skeptical Science

So, CO2 levels are higher than at any time since organised human civilisation started to develop. Physics tells us that increased CO2 = increased temperatures. Are you starting to see the problem?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The climate has changed before - so what?

Over at Skeptical Science, they have posted a simple, easily digested explanation of the climate we have evolved in response to. It seems our species has experienced a couple of colder periods - glaciations - but we have never been through a climate hotter than we experienced last century. As we are set fair to warm the planet with our CO2, it is sobering to realise that we are heading into uncharted waters and there is no way back. We are committed and all we can do now is hang on for the ride. Such fun.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Be Reasonable: See It My Way!

An interesting post at Rabett Run contains two videos. One is a short coaching session on how to be reasonable and contains sound advice. The other is a short and amusing example of what an unreasonable argument sounds like. Well worth watching.

A History of Global Warming

With the recent leaking of documents from the Heartland Institute, by the deSmogBlog, and consequent muddying of the waters of AGW debate, it is timely to remember that the whole topic has a long history, predating any of the current protagonists.

Here is an excellent resource for those interested in how the AGW debate arose and where it may be headed. It is an on-line reference book, which may also be downloaded as a zip file and unpacked on your computer, so the whole site can be accessed at high speed, off-line.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Let There Be Misinformation

Skeptical Science has published a blog post revealing the sources of funding behind the Heartland Institute, a USA so-called 'Think Tank', which is really an advocacy group opposed to any science or policy admitting that AGW is real. On that page are documents showing the big picture of where the money comes from and where it is spent.

It is ironic that the anti-science conspiracy has been so clearly unmasked, considering it is that side of politics which has long accused the entire scientific establishment of conspiring to falsify AGW research, in order to secure funding from left-wing groups and governments. It would be funny, if it were not so serious.

Unmasking Professional Attacks

There is a very interesting video of a lecture "The General Public: Why Such Resistance?"(lasting 1:46:20, so have some free time to spare) by Ben Santer, a research scientist from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, discussing problems with the (mis?)use of the freedom of information act for non-US citizens to demand complete records, including emails, on scientific research projects.

It is an eye-opener, exposing the dangers of working in the front lines of climate research. There is clearly a movement interested in suppressing science, when it conflicts with some ideology. Only a totalitarian regime could do a better job of attacking the discoverers of inconvenient knowledge. The USA is teetering at the top of a slippery slope and the Tea Party seems more than willing to provide the final push. So much for "The Land of the Free".

Thursday, February 9, 2012

How To Hijack The Internet

If anyone was wondering about the tactics used by the Radical Right (eg: Tea Party in the USA, Liberal Party in Australia), have a look at this short video. In it, a speaker is encouraging his audience to fabricate ratings of books and movies at such sites as Amazon. Not surprising that it happens, but surprising that the cat is out of the bag.

Friday, February 3, 2012

The New York Times has published an interesting article entitled "Two Nobelists Offer Views of Human-Driven Global Warming", describing our current state of knowledge of Climate Change ( or Global Warming, if your prefer). They include a telling graphic which speaks a thousand words.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Guardian strikes again

This has little to do with Climate Change, but is funny in its own right. The Guardian newspaper, the last bastion of the Left in a sea of Murdoch papers, just published an interesting expose on the weather forecasting reliability of rival The Daily Mail et al. It seems the forecasters they relied on do not actually exist. Perhaps Murdoch really does have access to the Dark Side, where nonexistent weather forecasters weave their evil spells!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Monk(ey)ton Business in the Oz Media

The paragon of virtue, Christopher Monkton, has been strategising with the rich and powerful in Australia concerning the establishment of a blatantly right-wing media presence on our shores. Guess what? Gina Reinhardt, that paragon of environmentalism, subsequently acquired a position with Channel 10 and is fishing for a leading stake in Fairfax Media. There is even talk of an Oz version of that oh-so-balanced misinformational news outlet, Fox News.

How it could be worse than our existing offerings from Limited News may be debatable, but the talk of giving Andrew Bolt and Jo Nova starring roles should be enough to wake the rest of us from our slumbers.

I would be shaking my head in disbelief, if I wasn't frozen with fright.

Institute of Public Misinformation

Here is an interesting article following the link between Australian climate denialism and the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA), a radical right-wing think tank. Here is one of the links from that story, in clickable form, that shines even more light on the good ol' boys at IPA.

Deliberate misinformation and denialism is a healthy industry in Oz. Remember the tobacco industry misinformation about smoking and lung cancer? It's the same tune on a new fiddle.

IPA staff and researchers get a regular gig on The Drum, both on-line and on TV. Treat what they say with due caution.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Professional Misconduct?

We hear much concerning the so-called 'scientific debate' about global warming (or climate change, if you prefer - I don't mind which). One celebrated case concerned a paper by Soon and Baliunas, published in 2003. The resulting furore saw the resignation of half the editorial staff at the journal Climate Research. Sadly, people like Prof. Richard Lindzen, who know better, continue to misrepresent the science and economics surrounding the subject.

Bottom line: the number of qualified climate scientists disputing AGW is very small and those have a habit of making childish mistakes in their publications. Be very careful about the credentials of anything you read on AGW, because disinformation is thick on the ground.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Apocalypse Soon?

I encountered this interesting lecture by Guy McPherson today. It runs for about 48 minutes, so you will need some time to spare.

I feel his predictions are on the alarmist side of reality, but I am not convinced of that. My personal take is that the decline will not happen for another couple of years at least and probably more. However, the future we are headed for will look something like the picture he paints.

I found it interesting, if unsettling. Your mileage may vary.

Friday, January 27, 2012

China Is Acting On AGW

One of the current arguments against climate change action by Australia, is that we won't make any difference unless China gets on board and the implication is that China is ignoring AGW. The truth is that China is well aware of the potential damage to its economy and is already spending money on mitigation and reduction projects. This item at Reuters gives a clear idea of what China understands and what they are currently doing. Expect more action from them as time passes.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

BBC Climate Wars

In 2008, the BBC produced an engrossing three-part series, tracing the history of the climate change science of the twentieth century and discussing the so-called "sceptical" debate. If you have three hours to spare, I highly recommend watching it.

Episode 1
Episode 2
Episode 3

Monday, January 23, 2012

A Rock And A Hard Place

Sometimes, you trip over knowledge you can't ignore, but you would have been more comfortable not knowing. So it is with this essay by David Roberts. As a realist and a true sceptic, I recognise that the outcomes described are probably accurate, but they make me want to grab my Teddy and hide under the bed.

To quote from the referenced paper by Kevin Anderson and Alice Bows,
avoiding dangerous (and even extremely dangerous) climate change is no longer compatible with economic prosperity.
Hands up all those who think there is a snowball in Hade's chance of the rich and powerful in the developed world giving up their great god "Economic Prosperity", even when it is no longer compatible with survival of the species.

No Teddies were harmed during the filming of this post, but I cannot help thinking they might not have a very happy future.

NOTE: People with more than one imaginative brain cell should pour themselves a stiff drink before reading the linked article. Seriously.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Learning Every Day

I just read a very thought-provoking essay here, concerning what the world will look like after Peak Oil. The take-home message is that we are now living in the early days of what the world is coming to.

It was doubly interesting to read the essay, considering I had just posted this comment at Australians Living Simply. We do, indeed, live in interesting times.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Fake "Skeptic" or Realist?

One of the memes relied upon by those who deny the concept of Anthropological Global Warming (AGW), is that there has been no warming since some cherry-picked year. Currently, the cherry-pickers choose 1998 as their start point. 1998 was a year of extreme El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) activity and the global temperature was higher than normal. Subsequently, global temperatures returned to their normal trend of slow increase from pre-1998 levels, but it was not until the late naughties that temperatures again approached the 1998 level. AGW deniers claim that there has been no warming since 1998, so Global Warming has stopped.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Not only has surface temperature continued its climbing trend, but vast amounts of heat are being stored in the oceans, dramatically increasing total global warmth.

Here are a couple of graphics from Skeptical Science ( which show how cherry-picking obscures the long term trend and how global temperature has continued along its merry way.

Realist vs Denier view of global temperature.
Figure 1: BEST land-only surface temperature data (green) with linear trends applied to the timeframes 1973 to 1980, 1980 to 1988, 1988 to 1995, 1995 to 2001, 1998 to 2005, 2002 to 2010 (blue), and 1973 to 2010 (red).  Hat-tip to Skeptical Science contributor Sphaerica for identifying all of these "cooling trends."

Where is the Heat Going?

Figure 2: Total global heat content, data from Church et al. (2011)

I leave you to draw your own conclusions as to who is telling the whole story.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Carl Sagan Speaks

Found this quote today and it exemplifies why I keep - sceptically - chipping away at the resistance to the truth of AGW:
The truth may be puzzling. It may take some work to grapple with. It may be counter-intuitive. It may contradict deeply held prejudices. It may not be consonant with what we desperately want to be true. But our preferences do not determine what's true. Carl Sagan

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Taking no prisoners

Dr Michael Mann does not take insults lying down. As co-author of the much-maligned but true Hockey Stick graph, he has had to put up with extensive attacks and smear campaigns. Clearly, from this evidence, he is not inclined to put up with it any more. Follow the link and click on 'Recommend', to show you support the idea of truth, justice and (God help us) the American Way - whatever that is.

The removed original article from Hertzberg in the Vail Daily can still be found in Google's cache here.

The Clock Ticks Away ...

I was interested to see this article in one of Australia's pre-eminent daily newspapers. It may not indicate that the Main Stream Media is 'getting' Peak Oil, but it is a step in the right direction. If we are at a time of Peak Growth, perhaps we are also at Peak CO2? We can only hope.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

New Year Dishonours

For a naturally conservative person like me, it is alarming to note the rise of the Radical Right in Australia and, more worryingly, in the USA.

In spite of the growing weight of evidence that business cannot carry on as usual, the world is being held hostage to the political and commercial ambitions of a vocal minority, exemplified by the Tea Party in America and supported by an apparent tendency for white male conservatives to deny climate change (see McCright and Dunlap (2011)[pdf])1. This far-right lobby has no time for science which does not secure and increase profit margins for the uber-rich individuals and corporations that depend upon fossil fuels. Googling 'koch brothers' brings up significant information about two of the wealthiest men in the USA. Googling 'koch brothers climate change' leads to pages exposing an apparent tendency of these men to fund political agendas opposed to any regulation of fossil fuel industries. That, in itself, is perfectly alright: everybody should be able to support politicians and commentators who support their views.

The down side is when the political funding is large enough to allow scientific nonsense to be marketed to a naive population through the main stream media, notably the News organisations headed by Rupert Murdoch (see Wikipedia and 'How Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. cashes in on both sides of the climate fight'), and through the public opinions of political figures. It is significant that the Tea Party is apparently funded through Kock largesse (see Romney Campaign Memo: The Koch Brothers Are The ‘Financial Engine Of The Tea Party’). In the Republican party, it seems to be anathema to publicly advocate a position supporting the theory of human-caused (anthropogenic) global warming, or AGW. Several leading figures have actively changed their positions in the last few years - REMEMBER WHEN JOHN MCCAIN BELIEVED IN GLOBAL WARMING?.

There are signs that the moderates in the Republican party are becoming disenchanted with the anti-science stance of the radical right, but campaigns depend upon funds and funds depend upon backers, notably backers of the Tea Party. Major fossil fuel organisations spend huge sums lobbying for political influence. To quote The National Journal, "In a recent Pew Research Center poll, only 43 percent of Republicans – and only 31 percent of conservatives – said they believe there is solid evidence of global warming. That compares to 77 percent of Democrats. So the topic is tricky for GOP presidential candidates."

All this is happening in a context of an increasing rate of change in CO2 concentration in the atmosphere, CO2 being the long-term threat to the atmosphere in the hole we are digging ourselves, and while the oceans are at high risk of entering a phase of extinction of marine species unprecedented in human history, according to marine scientists [report][pdf][more].

So the question remains: "Can the Republican right wing suspend the laws of physics long enough to get their eventual candidate elected to the Presidency and, if so, what will be the result for the rest of the world?"

Looking into my crystal ball, I dimly perceive a diminishing of the role of the EPA, a total block on any attempt at starting a carbon cap-and-trade economy and an increase in the rhetoric denying there is any need for, or point in, action on climate until the rest of the world follows suit - in other words, never. This non-leadership means we will be doomed to more of the same global politics, under which we resemble a bus full of passengers heading for a cliff, with the driver looking back at us, instead of putting on the brakes, and saying "Don't worry - we can evolve in time to avoid any effects of a crash."

Looks like we will all be growing wings in the near term. Harp, anyone?
1 McCright, A.M., Dunlap, R.E., Cool dudes: The denial of climate change among conservative white males in the United States. Global Environ. Change (2011), doi:10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2011.06.003