Friday, December 29, 2006

Happy New Year!!!!

Hope the new year brings happiness and success for all!!!!

Regular posting from the 2nd.

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Another awards night

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The 2006 Inaugural Nexus 6 Weblog Awards

Blogs nominated by me. Votes by me. Results tallied by me.

And the winners are:

Best Australian Science Blog: Deltoid
- For exposure of numerous myths concerning DDT, climate change and Tim Blair.

Best Science Blog: Pharyngula
- For exposure of myths concerning religion, creationism and intelligent design + some nice pieces on development.

Best Australian Environment Blog: Jennifer Marohasy
- Sure, she's a senior fellow of the IPA and has an agenda, but posts on interesting topics and has a lively commentary.

Best Right-wing blog: Tim Blair
- often wrong and always annoying, but does provide a chuckle here and there.

Best Left-wing blog: Larvatus Prodeo
- thoughtful and doesn't go too overboard on the Lefty stuff. Actual real debate even sometimes occurs.

And now we're getting to the big awards people.

Breathe deeply.

Here we go.

Australia's worst blog (tie): Andrew Bolt and Andrew Landeryou

Bolt is frequently wrong, doesn't understand complex topics, has absolutely no sense of humour and is a talentless writer. His blog demonstrates this in spades.

Landeryou is simply a nasty, nasty little man. His blog demonstrates this in spades.

Australia's best blog: Blogocracy (and Road to Surfdom)

Smart move by News Ltd. picking up Tim Dunlop. Nicely exposes the mistakes and wrong-doings of the all-powerful Right, from the Howard government to George Bush to a compliant media. Nails them every time.

Best foreign blog: The Rude Pundit

His Rudeness is required daily reading. He is a very naughty man. That is all that needs to be said.

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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A tale of two blog posts

SMH blogger Jack Marx can be a little inconsistent, but every now and then he absolutely nails it. Monday's post, ‘The charge of the lite brigade’, was a pearler. Marx opines on the nature of ‘offence’.
I'd like to talk today about this notion of "offence", the concept that one can be personally assaulted by an idea articulated by another. Offence is quite different from anger, an emotion that is commonly, though not exclusively, the product of offence. You don't get offended when some thug takes a swing at you, or some idiot with a ladder on his shoulder keeps changing directions and hitting you in the scone. You get angry or frightened or both, but you don't get offended - it's way too late for that once the violence has already begun. Offence is what occurs in the mind before a fight has started, and whether it is upgraded to something more serious is entirely dependant on the offended. Offence is the mother of the brawl, which is why it's so pathetic that the offended are the first to run to papa once the blood starts to spill. They are troublemakers. It should be an offence to take offence.

It's significant that the offended commonly refer to the fact that they've "taken offence", rather than been "hit with offence" or had "offence thrust upon" them. There is a decision with regard to offence, as to whether one will "take" it or "leave" it. Being offended is not necessarily a choice, but waving your offence around like a semaphore signaler is a decision for sure, a calculated attempt to take the high moral ground and blow your opponent to hell from behind the battlements of society's burgeoning list of "rights".

I highly recommend clicking on the link and reading the rest of his post. Marx wrote it as a consequence of the abuse he received for the inclusion of Belinda Emmett in his ‘UnAustralian of the Year’ awards.
Belinda Emmett
Died of cancer on Remembrance Day, 2006, which really stole the RSL's thunder. Her passing relatively unheralded, her funeral not sold to the networks, Belinda endured her entire illness with very private dignity, appearing in public only occasionally, quietly poised on the arm of her husband, Rove, her refusal to saturate the market with details of her "brave battle" contributing absolutely nothing towards the public thirst for outpourings of grief. How un-Australian can you get?
Not realizing it was actually a rather complimentary piece, hundred of commenters certainly took maximum offence.

Which brings me to this blog post by the Screechin’ Weasel.
Heart of hate: Merry Christmas from a terrorist's relative ……Editor Andrew Jaspan should have spiked this latest Leunig lunacy…
And what was this latest Leunig lunacy?

Why, it was a cartoon specifically designed to cause offence to warmongers like Screechy.

And it sure did hit its mark.
Posted by txjohn on Wed 20 Dec 06 at 09:52am
Leunig’s madness is beyond description. This is despicable.

Posted by Gray of Melbourne on Wed 20 Dec 06 at 10:09am
That is sick. Very poor taste - I can’t believe anyone would allow for this to see the light of day.

Posted by Paul on Wed 20 Dec 06 at 10:31am
Leunig is a sick bastard. And the editor at The Age is just as sick to allow this sort of crap on their newspaper. They are both disgusting.
Yer gotta laugh. Wing-nuts offended, right on cue.

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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A disgrace

Six medics condemned to death in Libya for a crime they most likely did not commit.

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I hope Jim Hansen is wrong

I really do.

Hansen’s take on the emerging science behind climate sensitivity is worrying. In a recent speech to the AGU conference he stated:
The long-standing “Charney” problem has been solved. If continents are fixed as at present, ice sheets are fixed, vegetation distributions are fixed – global climate sensitivity for doubled CO2 is about 3°C. This Charney sensitivity includes fast feedback processes – water vapor, sea ice, clouds. Models have inherent uncertainties, but comprehensive empirical data for the last ice age implies a sensitivity of about three degrees.
News to some obscure Viscount wing-nut but, nevertheless, likely to be correct.

Hansen continues:
The size of ice sheets for the past 400,000 years is known from sea level data, and greenhouse gas amounts are known for the same period. Taking these as boundary conditions, or forcings, shows that the same Charney fast feedback sensitivity fits the entire period. However, the ice sheets and greenhouse gases are feedbacks on these time scales, driven by small forcings due to slow changes in the Earth’s orbit. In response to these small forcings the Earth is whipsawed through dramatic climate changes. Positive feedbacks reign supreme.
So studies of the past show that small forcings lead to large climate changes. Some especially large:
Yet these climate changes, however staggering they seem to humans, with 400 foot changes of sea level, and New York, Minneapolis and Seattle under ice sheets thicker than our tallest sky-scraper, are just the “little whip saw”. Consider the changes that have occurred on longer time scales, for example, global warming events such as that at the Paleocene-Eocene boundary, driven at least in part by methane hydrate release.

Go back further to the greatest whip-saw of all, “snowball Earth” events in the Proterozoic, and the most recent one, which ushered in the Cambrian period. The Earth froze all the way to the equator, and after greenhouse gases accumulated and some melting began, the planet was whipsawed to hellish hothouse conditions.
Kind of makes you wonder why denialists think that a Mediaeval Warm Period debunks anthropogenic global warming, doesn’t it?

So how do anthropogenic forcings compare to natural forcings such as orbital and solar-output changes?
We live on a planet whose climate is dominated by positive feedbacks, which are capable of taking us to dramatically different conditions. The problem that we face now is that many feedbacks that came into play slowly in the past, driven by slowly changing forcings, will come into play rapidly now, at the pace of our human-made forcings, tempered a few decades by the oceans thermal response time.
Surely we can adapt. Isn’t a little warming and plant fertilizer supposed to be beneficial?
Civilization developed during the past several thousand years in the tranquil Holocene, temperature hardly changing, shorelines practically fixed. Our infrastructure has been built for that planet. Some previous interglacials were warmer than the Holocene, but, with the warming of the past few decades, we are now within about 1°C of the warmest interglacial. If we follow business-as-usual greenhouse gas emissions, the warming this century due to just the fast feedback processes will approach 3°C. But surely additional feedbacks would start to come into play, with dark evergreen forests moving poleward, tundra melting and possibly releasing methane hydrates, ice sheets beginning to shrink. It would be a different planet, with no sea ice in the Arctic, with many species of life driven to extinction, with ice sheet disintegration and rising sea level out of our control, more intense hot dry conditions in spreading subtropical areas such as the western U.S., the Mediterranean, Middle East and parts of Africa. The semi-arid part of the United States, stretching from West Texas through Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska and the Dakotas is likely to have more extensive droughts and be less suited for agriculture. As isotherms move poleward, so too will pests and diseases normally associated with low latitudes.

Give me contrarian sneers over Hansen being correct any day.

The trouble is, Hansen seems to know what he's talking about.

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Sunday, December 17, 2006

Michael Crichton. Legend

Michael Crichton is perhaps the greatest writer alive today. His character development surpasses that of Shakespeare. His plots out-rollick Tolkien. His masterful endings put Memento and The Usual Suspects to shame. With State of Fear he exposed global warming for the fraud it is. His latest novel, Next, will be remembered throughout history as one of humanity’s finest.

Well, maybe not. But I’m too scared to say otherwise, ‘cause I don’t want to appear as a character in his next novel who anally rapes two-year olds with a small penis.

Like Michael Crowley.

Michael Crowley, a DC-based political writer, wrote a piece critical of Crichton’s State of Fear. In Crichton’s subsequent novel, a not-so-nice DC-based political writer named Mick Crowley appears.

The NY Times reports:
“On Page 227 Mr. Crichton writes: “Alex Burnet was in the middle of the most difficult trial of her career, a rape case involving the sexual assault of a two-year-old boy in Malibu. The defendant, thirty-year-old Mick Crowley, was a Washington-based political columnist who was visiting his sister-in-law when he experienced an overwhelming urge to have anal sex with her young son, still in diapers.”

Mick Crowley is described as a “wealthy, spoiled Yale graduate” with a small penis that nonetheless “caused significant tears to the toddler’s rectum.”

Mr. Crowley writes that Mr. Crichton’s Mick Crowley not only has a similar name but is also a graduate of Yale and a Washington political journalist. Mr. Crowley contends that Mr. Crichton has tried to escape public censure for his literary attack by hiding behind what has become known as “the small penis rule.”

The rule, Mr. Crowley writes, is described in a 1998 article in The New York Times in which the libel lawyer Leon Friedman said it is a trick used by authors who have defamed someone to discourage lawsuits. “No male is going to come forward and say, ‘That character with a very small penis — that’s me!’ ” Mr. Friedman explained.
So, yeah, Crichton’s the best. Fine movie director too.

(Helmet tip. Jesus' General)

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Friday, December 15, 2006

Cat fight. Part II

Climate Auditor goes the snark.

UPDATE: Tim Lambert performs an in-depth analysis of Steve McIntyre's critique of Gore.

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One too many drinks at the Herald Sun Christmas party?

Screechin' Bolt claims "global surface temperatures are flat-lining", and provides this broken link. The real link shows these two graphs:

Glad Screechy's not a doctor in charge of pronouncing whether someone's alive or dead.

"He's flat-lined I tells ya! Off to the morgue!!"

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

Global warming downgraded

Wing-nuts move quickly in this day and age. An inaccurate story about the forthcoming IPCC fourth assessment appears in the Telegraph, mistaking climate sensitivity for expected temperature increase by 2100, among other faults. Tim Lambert explains:
The Telegraph report is obviously wrong. The IPCC report just summarizes the scientific literature. There has not been any paper published that would justify reducing the estimate. The reporter has confused climate sensitivity (how much warming you eventually get from doubling CO2), with predicted warming in 2100. In the third assessment report the top end of the range for sensitivity was 4.5, while the top end for warming by 2100 was 5.8. These numbers haven't changed in the new report, all that has happened is that the reporter has mistaken the 4.5 number for sensitivity as a new estimate for warming and reported it as a reduction from 5.8.
The Association of British Drivers takes this to mean:
"We Got It Wrong" says the IPCC

In fact, as the IPCC and other scientists have previously acknowledged there is no human signal in the data above the noise of natural variation.

With significant climate cooling widely expected from about 2012 there's plenty of time for the climb-down to minimise the egg on politicians' faces. Before then, since man-made climate change is being officially reduced, we expect fuel duty and all King Canute mobility taxes to be officially reduced as well.
Detailed references, State of Fear-style, are provided.

But why-oh-why is it not going to get as warm as ounce thought? The Telegraph explains:
It (IPCC) also says that the overall human effect on global warming since the industrial revolution is less than had been thought, due to the unexpected levels of cooling caused by aerosol sprays, which reflect heat from the sun.
Aerosol sprays like under-arm deodorant?

Tomas Lifson of American Thinker spots yet another Green eco-conspiracy:
I remember when many aerosol sprays were withdrawn from the market. Now, it seems that they have been helping.
Here was me thinking aerosols were simply tiny particles suspended in the air, 90 % of which are natural and originate from volcanoes, dust storms, forest and grassland fires, living vegetation, and sea spray. I thought the human 10 % came from activities such as the burning of fossil fuels and the alteration of natural surface cover. ( ref. Earth Observatory).

One would think aerosol sprays as such would have a fairly negligable effect.

Clearly this is not the case.

In a 2-for-1 deal for the environment, I’m going to stop wasting precious Australian water by bathing each day, and resort to the good ‘ol shower-in-a-can.

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Soy is so ghey!

Soy is making kids gay. Well, according to Jim Rutz, writing for influential conservative site WorldNetDaily, it is.
There's a slow poison out there that's severely damaging our children and threatening to tear apart our culture. The ironic part is, it's a "health food," one of our most popular.

The dangerous food I'm speaking of is soy. Soybean products are feminizing, and they're all over the place. You can hardly escape them anymore.

Soy is feminizing, and commonly leads to a decrease in the size of the penis, sexual confusion and homosexuality. That's why most of the medical (not socio-spiritual) blame for today's rise in homosexuality must fall upon the rise in soy formula and other soy products. (Most babies are bottle-fed during some part of their infancy, and one-fourth of them are getting soy milk!) Homosexuals often argue that their homosexuality is inborn because "I can't remember a time when I wasn't homosexual." No, homosexuality is always deviant. But now many of them can truthfully say that they can't remember a time when excess estrogen wasn't influencing them.
Quite obviously, Rutz is talking out his arse. PZ Myers takes him to task:
So, I searched PubMed, and there's nothing on soy and menarche or menstruation; I found a few articles on soy and puberty, and they say things like "The literature offers no evidence of endocrine effects in humans from infant consumption of modern soy-based formulas" and "To date, no adverse effects of short- or long-term use of soy proteins have been observed in humans and exposure to soy-based infant formulas does not appear to lead to different reproductive outcomes than exposure to cow milk formulas" and "Available evidence from adult human and infant populations indicates that dietary isoflavones in soy infant formulas do not adversely affect human growth, development, or reproduction." There are many more papers on its putative effects on breast cancer and the symptoms of menopause, and even there it's a study in ambiguity: some reports of slight positive effects, many more stating that there isn't a detectable effect.
Although an extreme example, Rutz’s article does nicely demonstrate the Right-wing tendency to shamelessly exaggerate, twist and cherry-pick scientific work to support a narrow ideology. Add conservative Christianity and you’ve got quite a mix. Intelligent design, anyone?

Perhaps the last word is best left to arch-conservative heterosexual blogger, Jesus’ General:
Dropping soy from the American diet is not the answer. America's agribusiness heroes deserve better from us. The same goes for our automobile and oil industries as well. If we stop feeding soy products to our manchildren, who's going to buy tomorrow's Hummers, Dodge Rams, and Ford Excursions? After all, there'll be no incentive to spend that kind of money on a big, expensive, powerful vehicle if every guy is packing one of those huge, Italian 3+" man-cannons in his briefs. Men compensating for tiny thingies are what drive the American automobile market. The auto companies would need to retool without it.

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Monday, December 11, 2006

Cat fight at awards ceremony

Only in Hollywood? Nah, bitchiness knows no bounds.

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Australia. Following the way.

John Howard, recently skeptical of AGW until polls showed otherwise, has convened a carbon-trading taskforce.
Howard says the world as a whole needs "to find new practical global solutions to climate change that include all major economies and emitters and that take account of national goals for economic prosperity, energy security and environmental sustainability".
So far, so good.
"While there is no one single solution to the global climate change challenge we need to maintain the prosperity that our abundant fossil fuels have given us while at the same time exploring options for global climate change solutions and accelerating the development and deployment of low emissions and clean coal technologies," he adds.
OK, I’m with you. ‘Low-emissions’ must be code for renewable energy sources such as geothermal, solar and wind.
The group will advise on the nature and design of a workable global emissions trading system in which Australia will be able to participate.
Our task-force is designing a ‘global’ trading emissions scheme?

No, that can’t be it. We don’t have global sway. Oh! They’re advising us on exactly what kind of scheme it’s OK for us to join. Or one we shouldn't join. Like Kyoto.

The make-up of the investigative team will shed some light on Howard's motivations.
Peter Coates, Executive Committee Member, Xstrata, one of the big three Australian coal producers along with BHP and Rio Tinto.

Tony Concannon, Managing Director, International Power, owner of Australia’s oldest and dirtiest power station, Hazelwood, in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley.

Russell Higgins, Non-Executive Director Australian Pipeline Trust and recipient of numerous bureaucratic and board gigs from the Howard Government.

Margaret Jackson, Chairman, Qantas, Australia’s biggest transport polluter.
Chris Lynch, Executive Director, BHP Billiton, one of the big three Australian coal producers.

John Marlay, CEO, Alumina Limited, Australia’s biggest energy consumer and recipient of billions of dollars in subsidised power from Victoria taxpayers over the years.

John Stewart, Managing Director, National Australia Bank, chief banker to Australia’s mining establishment.

When asked about getting some environmental input on Insiders yesterday, the PM could only point to the secretary of his environment department, David Borthwick, being one of four bureaucrats making up the numbers among the seven business types.

But Borthwick is no green and he runs a department that has shown great scepticism about climate change. Indeed, Borthwick was previously coordinator of industry and resources development policy in the PM’s department and this followed a long career in the Federal Treasury that dates back to 1973.

It is notable that John Howard has also deliberately rejected the involvement of any CEO who signed up to the Australian Conservation Foundation’s business roundtable on climate change earlier this year.

This included the CEOs of IAG, BP Australia, Westpac, Swiss Re, Visy Industries and Origin Energy.

Why am I not surprised?

Labor, you have a golden opportunity to show that Howard is not the least bit interested in combating climate change. Please use it.

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Friday, December 08, 2006

Prof. Jon Jenkins MLC, Australia's most poorly-informed skeptic?

One expects elected representatives to at least attempt to acquaint themselves with reality before weighing in on scientific matters. Australia’s very own Inhofe, NSW MLC Jon Jenkins, gives the impression that he’s a bit of a Moncton-style climate-change expert. A slayer of consensus, if you will.

After being the subject of ridicule at RealClimate, Jenkins has moved on to the stratospheric realms of the Crikey letters page. Thing is, upon reading his piece, I really, really hope he has nothing to do with monetary policy, cause numbers just aren’t his strong point.

Jenkins opines:
Is climate change actually happening, if so has it caused any damage and are human emissions of CO2 the cause? On the first question the answer is probably yes,
The answer is definitely yes. Climate is never static over time. However, the rate of change in recent times is very high, and no ‘natural’ factor appears to account for it.
the overall global temp appears to have risen about 0.5C
The overall global temp has risen by 0.6 ± 0.2°C. If you’re going to pick one figure, use 0.6°C.
and the oceans about 10mm over the past century.
Wrong, and out by at least an order of magnitude. Oceans have risen by 100 to 200 mm over the past century, not 10 mm.
As to the second the answer is probably no specifically referring to hurricane activity mentioned by McHugh the actual frequency of severe hurricanes is less now than it has been in the past.
What the…? Anyway:

Wrong. Intense hurricanes are occurring more often in the Atlantic (the most studied basin) and world-wide, with the number of category 4 and 5 hurricanes doubling over the past 35 years.
Only 4 "highest category" storms have occurred in the last 10 years!
Wrong. In the past ten years seven category five hurricanes have occurred in the Atlantic basin alone, not four (presumably Jenkins is referring to Atlantic and not world-wide occurrences). They are: Mitch, Isabel, Ivan, Emily, Katrina, Rita and Wilma.
This year not a single storm hit the US anywhere! What was that about more severe storms again?
Jenkins appears unable to understand how trends work. One year of no hurricanes is great, but proves nothing. No one has even implied that ‘natural’ factors don’t impact on hurricane frequency and intensity.

Let’s see what happens over the next ten years before jumping to conclusions.
As to the final question: In the 2003/4 survey conducted of the world's top 600 climatologists, Professor Dennis Bray of the German Institute for Coastal Research found the following: Less than 1 in 10 (9.67%) of the world's top climatologists strongly agreed that the recent warming was caused by human activity.
The survey was actually an anonymous on-line questionnaire with the access password posted on denialist websites. It was not a survey conducted of the world’s top 600 climatologists.
This is confirmed in the most recent survey of the scientific literature in 2005 by Prof. Benny Peiser of Liverpool's John Moores University who analysed the same set of 1,000 documents [cited by Naomi Oreskes and Gore] -- and concluded that: "only one-third backed the consensus view, while only 1% did so explicitly.
Peiser’s study was deeply flawed and has been fully debunked. Andrew Bolt tried the same trick and got done by MediaWatch only this year for citing the study as fact. Presumably Jenkins knew this.
Sounds like an open and shut case to me!
That Jenkins isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed? I agree.

Disappointed, NSW voters, disappointed.

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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster! Aust. Parliament makes sensible decision.

Australia's ban on therapeutic cloning has been lifted, allowing scientists to do what they do best: help make people's lives better. The decision opens the way for potential cures to a multitude of diseases, such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. Let the research begin!

Fox News reports:
Parliament on Wednesday lifted Australia's ban on cloning human embryos for stem cell research despite opposition from the prime minister and other party leaders.

The legislation was approved by a vote of 82 to 62 in the House of Representatives. It was passed by the Senate last month.

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Warmest European Autumn Since Records Began. So What?

Europe has just experienced its warmest Autumn since records began around 500 years ago. According to Nature:
Preliminary analysis shows that continental mean temperatures in September and October were 11°C — that's 1.8 °C higher than the long-term average for these months. November was 2.5 °C higher than the average. The results show that 2006 has beaten the 'hottest' autumns of 1772, 1938 and 2000 by about a degree.

Finding data to support seasonal trends can be tricky, however. The instrumental record doesn't date back much further than the onset of the twentieth century.

To get around this, Elena Xoplaki, a climate historian at the University of Bern in Switzerland, has looked at historic sources in Europe going back to the 1500s, such as weather observations recorded by monks, doctors and scholars.

She has now updated her reconstruction with the latest temperature data from NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies. The unpublished study reveals that the past three months have been uniquely warm in the context of the past half millennium, even when the uncertainties related to the historic data are taken into account.

Does this result confirm global warming?

No. It's only one year and it's regional. It certainly is consistent with AGW theory, but what is more important is if it is part of a trend of increasing temperatures. An excellent review of recent scientific literature by Michael Mann shows that this is indeed the case. Mann looked a the work of a multitude of scientists:
Building on pioneering earlier work (e.g., Lamb 1965, Fritts et al. 1971), a considerable body of more recent work (Bradley & Jones 1993; Hughes & Diaz 1994; Mann et al. 1995, 1998, 1999, 2003; Overpeck et al. 1997; Jones et al. 1998; Luterbacher et al. 1999; Crowley & Lowery 2000; Huang et al. 2000; Briffa et al. 2001; Folland et al. 2001; Esper et al. 2002; Mann & Jones 2003; Cook et al. 2004; Luterbacher et al. 2004; Moberg et al. 2005; Oerlemans 2005; Rutherford et al. 2005) has focused on reconstructing large-scale climate changes over the period of the past one to two millennia during which widespread high-resolution, generally well-dated proxy records are available for large regions of the Northern Hemisphere (NH), and some parts of the Southern Hemisphere [see Jones & Mann (2004) for a review]. A number of model simulation studies of this period have also recently been performed (Rind & Overpeck 1993; Crowley & Kim 1996; Cubasch et al. 1997; Free & Robock 1999; Crowley 2000; Delworth & Mann 2000; Shindell et al. 2001, 2003, 2004; Bertrand et al. 2002; Bauer et al. 2003; Braganza et al. 2003; Gerber et al. 2003; Bell et al. 2003; Gonzalez-Rouco et al. 2003; Crowley et al. 2003; Schmidt et al. 2004; Mann et al. 2005a).
The conclusions:
1. Proxy reconstructions and model simulations both suggest that late twentieth century warmth is anomalous in the context of the past 1000–2000 years.

2. Forced changes in large-scale atmospheric circulation, such as the NAO, and internal dynamics related to El Ni no may play an important role in explaining regional patterns of variability and change.

3. Important differences between estimates of extratropical and full (combined tropical and extratropical) hemispheric mean temperature changes in past centuries appear consistent with seasonally and spatially specific responses to climate forcing.

4. Tests with synthetic pseudoproxy networks derived from climate model simulations indicate that statistical methods used for reconstructing past climate from proxy data are likely to yield reliable reconstructions back at least 1000 years within estimated uncertainties, given the statistical properties estimated for actual proxy networks.
Basically, it is now warmer than at any time in the past 1000 years. Suprise, surprise!

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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

One of the greatest!

Australia defeat England by six wickets to take the second test in Adelaide. If only I'd gone to the last day instead of the first. Them's the breaks.

Hussey, Ponting, Warne...legends. Collingwood, Hoggard and Flintoff did England proud, but too little for the rest of the poms.

This almost makes up for the pain of last year. Almost.

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Monday, December 04, 2006

Denialist hopes dashed

Much has been made in the Right-wing blogsphere of a peer-reviewed paper by University of Southern California scientists L.F. Khilyuk and G. V. Chilingar entitled: “On global forces of nature driving the Earth’s climate. Are humans involved?”. Pundits, such as Andrew Bolt, JF Beck and Pat Michaels, are claiming it is proof positive that the scientific debate over anthropogenic global warming is still raging.

One does wonder, however, if any of them have actually read the paper.

Michaels comments:
First of all, the two authors (Khilyuk and Chilingar) are faculty members at what most would agree is a world-class academic institution. If their work was not up to the standards of the University of Southern California, they wouldn’t be there for long. Second, Environmental Geology is an international multidisciplinary journal concerned with all aspects of interactions between humans, ecosystems, and the earth. It is published by Springer which is one of the leading academic publishing companies in the world. The editorial board of Environmental Geology includes 53 leading scientists from every corner of the planet; US institutions listed as primary affiliations of board members include the US Geological Survey, the University of New Orleans, the University of Missouri, the University of Kansas, the University of Oklahoma, Temple University, Wesleyan University, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and so on.

The point is that Environmental Geology is a first-class journal, papers submitted to the journal are peer-reviewed by scientists at major institutions, and the journal is certainly not part of any industry-funded conspiracy to undermine actions on global warming. Submitting a paper to any journal in which you question whether humans are involved in global warming will assure a more stringent review than normal.

This made me a little suspicious. Why stress the credentials of the journal if the paper stands on its own scientific merits?

JF Beck does ask an important question:
I don't know that the study's authors are on the fuel industry payroll. Even if they are, that doesn't automatically make their work biased -- do you reckon they're willing to wreck their reputations by signing off on some questionable science?

After reading Khilyuk and Chilingar’s paper, and a rebuttal by W. Aeschbach-Hertig in the same journal, I’d say the answer is a definitive ‘yes’. It is absolute garbage. Some immediatly obvious problems:
The total heat flux through the Earth’s surface due to energy generated in the mantle and the crust is estimated at about 4.3•10^20 erg/s (Sorokhtin and Ushakov 2002), which is approximately 0.0257% of the total Earth’s solar irradiation. The world total energy production in the year of 2003 was equal to 1.34•10^20 erg/s (Key World Energy Statistics 2004), which is about 0.0077% of the total solar irradiation reaching the Earth’s body. Comparison of the above figures clearly shows that the solar radiation is the dominating source of energy supply to the Earth’s atmosphere and hydrosphere. One can easily estimate that the solar radiation supplies more than 99.95% of total energy driving the world climate

…..As shown in Table 1, one percent increase in current solar radiation reaching the Earth’s body translates directly into approximately 0.86 K increase in the Earth’s global temperature. Using Eq. 2, one can also find an upper estimate for the possible atmospheric temperature increase due to anthropogenic activities. Even if the entire world energy generated by humans (1.34•10^20 erg/s) would be utilized only for heating the Earth’s atmosphere, the corresponding atmospheric temperature increase would not exceed 0.01_K at the sea level (based on Eq. 2). If, in addition, one takes into consideration that changes in the global atmospheric temperature are closely correlated with the changes in solar activity (Fig. 1), then one has to conclude that the solar irradiation is the dominant energy supply driving the Earth’s climate (see also Hoyt and Schaten 1997; Kondratiev 1992).

WTF!!!! What does the amount of energy produced by humans have to do with AGW? The authors actually claim that anthropogenic impacts on atmospheric temperature are LIMITED by the energy generated by humans, as though the AGW theory relies on ‘human-generated’ energy as the driving force behind warming. How could peer-review have missed such garbage? It’s not like it’s overly complicated. Solar irradiation is the dominant energy supply, AGW theory or not. Put simply, CO2 prevents solar energy from escaping from the Earth, thus causing warming. Jeez, they could have just looked at Wikipedia if they couldn’t understand the concept:
Greenhouse gases are transparent to shortwave radiation from the sun. However, they absorb some of the longer infrared radiation emitted as black body radiation from the Earth, thereby slowing radiational cooling and raising the 'equilibrium' temperature of the Earth.

But wait, there’s more. Apparently CO2 does play some kind of role, only the CO2 isn’t produced by humans:
The total anthropogenic carbon dioxide emission throughout the human history is estimated at about 2.81•10^11 metric tons of carbon. Recalculating this amount into the total anthropogenic carbon dioxide emission in grams of CO2, one obtains the estimate 1.003•10^18 g, which constitutes less than 0.00022% of the total CO2 amount naturally degassed from the mantle during geologic history. Comparing these figures, one can conclude that anthropogenic carbon dioxide emission is negligible (indistinguishable) in any energy-matter transformation processes changing the Earth’s climate.

There’s something missing, isn’t there? Aeschbach-Hertig explains better than I:
It seems that the authors forgot to take the time factor into account. The anthropogenic emission happened during 200 years, whereas the natural degassing during geologic history spanned 4.5 billion years. Thus, the above numbers yield a yearly anthropogenic flux that is about 50 times larger than the mantle degassing flux, which hardly is negligible. It appears that the authors assume that the 4.63 • 10^23g of CO2 degassed from the mantle all remained in the atmosphere. Yet, the present day atmosphere contains less than 3 • 10^18 g of CO2, and compared to this number the total anthropogenic CO2 emission of 1 • 10^18g certainly is significant.

These are just two of a litany of errors and distortions that the authors made (see the rest of the rebuttal for many more). Aeschbach-Hertig sums up:
It is astonishing that the paper of Khilyuk and Chilingar (2006) (as well as Khilyuk and Chilingar 2004, for that matter) could pass the review process of a seemingly serious journal such as Environmental Geology. Such failures of this process, which is supposed to guarantee the quality of published literature, are likely to damage the reputation of this journal.

Denialists, if you’re going to cite something, please read it first. You’ll avoid embarrassing yourself, that way.

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Borat still on the loose?

Conservatives, such as the Screachin' Weasel, don't like idea behind Sacha Baron Cohen's Borat, for it shows right-wing types in their true light. They really aren't going to like Jerry Klein of WMAL.
On Sunday afternoon, Washington, DC radio host Jerry Klein of WMAL was commenting on the Muslim Imams kicked off a flight. Klein suggested that all Muslims in the United States should be identified with a crescent-shape tattoo or a distinctive arm band, the phone lines jammed instantly.

Among the callers:

"Not only do you tattoo them in the middle of their forehead but you ship them out of this country ... they are here to kill us."

Another said that tattoos, armbands and other identifying markers such as crescent marks on driver's licenses, passports and birth certificates did not go far enough. "What good is identifying them?" he asked. "You have to set up encampments like during World War Two with the Japanese and Germans."

Finally a half hour into his show, Klien revealed the game:

"I can't believe any of you are sick enough to have agreed for one second with anything I said. For me to suggest to tattoo marks on people's bodies, have them wear armbands, put a crescent moon on their driver's license on their passport or birth certificate is disgusting. It's beyond disgusting.
(helemt tip: Jesus' General)

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Sunday, December 03, 2006

Peer-review process streamlined