Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Rocket Science

The bloke who was clearly in charge of the Mars Beagle II debacle has finally been identified: Phil Chapman, the first Aussie astronaut.

Phil has since moved on to climate science:

All four agencies that track Earth's temperature (the Hadley Climate Research Unit in Britain, the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, the Christy group at the University of Alabama, and Remote Sensing Systems Inc in California) report that it cooled by about 0.7C in 2007. This is the fastest temperature change in the instrumental record and it puts us back where we were in 1930. If the temperature does not soon recover, we will have to conclude that global warming is over.
0.7C in one year!!! F*#k me!! At that rate we'll be in an ice age before Kevin Rudd is out of power.

Well , yes, says Phil:

The next descent into an ice age is inevitable but may not happen for another 1000 years. On the other hand, it must be noted that the cooling in 2007 was even faster than in typical glacial transitions. If it continued for 20 years, the temperature would be 14C cooler in 2027.
And just to prove that denialsts aren't dirty rotton alarmists, Phil intones:

By then, most of the advanced nations would have ceased to exist, vanishing under the ice, and the rest of the world would be faced with a catastrophe beyond imagining.

Australia may escape total annihilation but would surely be overrun by millions of refugees. Once the glaciation starts, it will last 1000 centuries, an incomprehensible stretch of time.
Jebus, this stuff makes Monckton look semi-sane. And which national newpaper gave it star billing?

Why, the Oz, of course.

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Monday, April 21, 2008

Data studied

That The Australian hates science is a given. That a conservative Catholic Archbishop hates science has.....historical precedent. When the two combine, it’s non-stop laughs (though not nearly as funny as this effort. Bill Hicks should consider himself fortunate he’s no longer with us).

Australian Archbishop George Pell wrote a denialist puff-piece in the Sunday Telegraph and The Australian picked it up and ran with it today:

We can trust that Catholic cardinal George Pell has not had to resort to inside knowledge to play the devil's advocate on global warming. Like historian and political scientist Don Aitkin, Dr Pell has studied the data and rejected the claim that scientific consensus exists.
Just picture that: a bloke who believes in a particularly vindictive, invisible, human-shaped sky-dweller; who holds as a central tenant of his faith that some sheila didn’t get knocked up out of wedlock by her soon to be husband and wasn’t just a little bit untruthful to her dear son about the whole matter; a fella who would rather AIDS ravish the third world than people use contraception.

Now picture that same bloke lecturing the great unwashed on what the data say and what accordingly should or shouldn’t be rejected.

To be fair, there surely are some Catholic and other religious types who are able to quarantine their irrational beliefs from their rational analysis.

Pell isn’t one of them.

It’s about as likely as zombies walking the earth on a short term basis some time ago that Pell has looked at any raw data or indeed read any of the peer-reviewed scientific literature that underpins the theory of AGW.

And who’s this Don Aitkin? Oh, him.

Writing in The Sunday Telegraph yesterday, Dr Pell highlighted what he says are inconvenient facts for the climate change bandwagon. These included the declaration by more than 100 international scientists, some of them members of the UN Intergovernmental panel on climate change that attempting to control climate was "ultimately futile".

Oh...that data. Hang on...there’s more:

In addition, none of the natural changes observed with glaciers, sea levels and species migration is outside the bounds of known variability, including the warming of 0.1c to 0.2c per decades, in the late 20th century. But the 1930s decade was warmer than the 1990s.

The 1930s were warmer than the 1990s? Maybe I’m reading this here graph thingy wrong:

Or maybe Pell hasn’t looked at any data at all and latched on to second hand denialist bollocks confusing a so-called change from a statistical dead heat to a minimally-different statistical dead heat for 1930s and 1990s temperatures in the lower 48 sates of mainland USA, and confused that with global temperature?

Most importantly, the global temperature has not increased since 2001.
Even denialists who want to cherry pick temperatures from recent years to intentionally deceive don’t grasp at 2001, because pretty much all data series show that some intervening years such as 2005 were warmer. Get with it, Pell…’s 1998 you’re after with a spit on the floor at the mention of evil GISSTEMP!

We (the Oz) have always been concerned about the quasi-religious fervour that surrounds climate change….. we’ll get some factually-confused religious bloke to show how it’s done properly.

Lordy me.

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Wednesday, April 09, 2008


Distinguished respected totally awesome academic is cool

Deep in the bowels of a large Australian national newspaper lies the editorial bunker. The following conversation took place earlier in the month:

Editor 1: “Quick! We’ve got a whole lot of free space on page 1, page 2, the editorial page and our blog that needs to be filled ASAP!”

Editor 2: “I’ve got just the thing: there’s this bloke who gave some obscure speech a few days ago that denied anthropogenic global warming. We could, you know, use a little artistic licence, flush it out a bit, and we could fill all that up.”

Editor 1: “OK. OK. He’s a climate scientist, right? Plenty of experience in the field? Knows exactly what he’s on about?”

Editor 2: “Well……not quite. He’s a retired historian. Ex-political scientist too. But let me explain. It doesn’t matter that he has no formal expertise. We’ll use phrases like ‘respected academic’ and ‘distinguished researcher’ and ‘fellow of three learned societies’ to describe him. Fools ‘em every time. The last one’s a cracker, ain’t it?”

Editor 1: “So far, so good…but he’s gotta have said something pretty damn flash to justify all the coverage.

Editor 2: “Wellllllllllll….it fits with our right-wing editorial policy. And, as you well know, our news reporting is just an extension of that particular policy. I’m not even sure we actually do news any more, do we?”

Editor 1: “OK…what did he say?”

Editor 2: “Oh…I dunno. We’re too stupid. It’s all too big. A recent study of surface stations in the US showed they’re all situated wrong and we don’t actually know the temperature. That kind of stuff.”

Editor 1: “Hang on….a recent study? You don’t mean that silly surface stations mob who posted a few piccies in a blog with no actual analysis proving a spurious trend? The ones that think somehow all the ‘naughty stations’ are showing warming while the good ones aren’t, but can’t provide any evidence of that. I’m not sure that constitutes a study.”

Editor 2: “Oh come on….it’s not like anyone is actually going to check this stuff.”

Editor 1: “All right. Keep going.”

Editor 2: “Well…there’s a bit about…ummm….there’s no causal link between CO2 and rising temperature.”

Editor 1: “WTF!!! That’s basic physics from early last century. Are you sure this is OK?”

Editor 2: “Yeah, sure. He put a ‘but if’ in there first to make it seem reasonable. I’m thinking’ you might not like the rest though.”

Editor 1: “Do go on.”

Editor 2: “There’s a little about how we don’t know where the increasing CO2 is coming from. Only some of it is due to the stuff we’re doing. How it’s only a small portion of the atmosphere therefore it can’t have a large apparent effect. Oh yeah…there’s a bit about not being able to predict the weather so can’t predict climate. Models don’t work etcetera etcetera. All stuff that’s been said and thoroughly refuted a hundred times before but he’s…like…changed the order and stuff.”

Editor 1: “Aren’t readers just going to assume this guy’s an ignorant fraud?’

Editor 2: “Ah ha!! He’s got a brilliant strategy for that: the pre-emptive attack. He said he was quote ‘urged not express his contrary views to orthodox thinking because he would be demonised’. Put simply – ‘I’m going to be repressed!! I’m going to be repressed!!” He cunningly declares climate scientists are actually ‘climate activists from a quasi-religious movement’, which quite clearly isn’t demonising those who don’t agree with him at all, if that’s what you’re thinking.”

Editor 1: “This is a bunch of crap. Even we can’t print this.”

Editor 2: “Yeah…I know. Hahhahahaha!!! April Fools joke! Had ya there, didn’t I?”

Editor 1: “Dammit!!! What do ya reckon pass it on the The Australian for a laugh?”

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Sunday, April 06, 2008

Thank you for choosing this planetary vehicle

Now here's an different take on the old climate change consciousness raising thingo.

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Friday, April 04, 2008

Here's a nice little song

Listen to Antony and you'll feel a little better about it all.

OK, maybe not.... but I think I'll start posting a few tunes I like again.

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Thursday, April 03, 2008

'No Sun link' to climate change

Most of you who pop by here would probably have seen this by now, but for those that haven't, read on:

Scientists have produced further compelling evidence showing that modern-day climate change is not caused by changes in the Sun's activity.

The research contradicts a favoured theory of climate "sceptics", that changes in cosmic rays coming to Earth determine cloudiness and temperature.

The idea is that variations in solar activity affect cosmic ray intensity.

But Lancaster University scientists found there has been no significant link between them in the last 20 years.

Presenting their findings in the Institute of Physics journal, Environmental Research Letters, the UK team explain that they used three different ways to search for a correlation, and found virtually none.

This is the latest piece of evidence which at the very least puts the cosmic ray theory, developed by Danish scientist Henrik Svensmark at the Danish National Space Center (DNSC), under very heavy pressure.

Dr Svensmark's idea formed a centrepiece of the controversial documentary The Great Global Warming Swindle.

"We started on this game because of Svensmark's work," said Terry Sloan from Lancaster University.

"If he is right, then we are going down the wrong path of taking all these expensive measures to cut carbon emissions; if he is right, we could carry on with carbon emissions as normal."

Cosmic rays are deflected away from Earth by our planet's magnetic field, and by the solar wind - streams of electrically charged particles coming from the Sun.

The Svensmark hypothesis is that when the solar wind is weak, more cosmic rays penetrate to Earth.

That creates more charged particles in the atmosphere, which in turn induces more clouds to form, cooling the climate.

The planet warms up when the Sun's output is strong.

Professor Sloan's team investigated the link by looking for periods in time and for places on the Earth which had documented weak or strong cosmic ray arrivals, and seeing if that affected the cloudiness observed in those locations or at those times.

"For example; sometimes the Sun 'burps' - it throws out a huge burst of charged particles," he explained to BBC News.

"So we looked to see whether cloud cover increased after one of these bursts of rays from the Sun; we saw nothing."

Over the course of one of the Sun's natural 11-year cycles, there was a weak correlation between cosmic ray intensity and cloud cover - but cosmic ray variability could at the very most explain only a quarter of the changes in cloudiness.

And for the following cycle, no correlation was found.

Limited effect

"This work is important as it provides an upper limit on the cosmic ray-cloud effect in global satellite cloud data," commented Dr Giles Harrison from Reading University, a leading researcher in the physics of clouds.

His own research, looking at the UK only, has also suggested that cosmic rays make only a very weak contribution to cloud formation.

The Svensmark hypothesis has also been attacked in recent months by Mike Lockwood from the UK's Rutherford-Appleton Laboratory. He showed that over the last 20 years, solar activity has been slowly declining, which should have led to a drop in global temperatures if the theory was correct.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in its vast assessment of climate science last year, concluded that since temperatures began rising rapidly in the 1970s, the contribution of humankind's greenhouse gas emissions has outweighed that of solar variability by a factor of about 13 to one.

According to Terry Sloan, the message coming from his research is simple.

"We tried to corroborate Svensmark's hypothesis, but we could not; as far as we can see, he has no reason to challenge the IPCC - the IPCC has got it right.

"So we had better carry on trying to cut carbon emissions."

As I've said on this topic before: some one's gotta whack-a-mole, but it's a pity any good scientist has to commit their valuable time refuting guff instead of doing the blue sky stuff.

I've been out of the blue sky arena for a few years myself now too, but my own bit of recent work is off the publisher tomorrow. However, since I'm an anonymous blogger - no one'll ever know. Oh well!

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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Planet Fine

Newsflash from expert journal The Daily Mash

THE planet Earth has dismissed claims it is in danger from global warming, stressing the worst that could happen is the extinction of the human race.

The Earth spoke out after a series of books, television programmes and environmental campaigns urged people to do everything in their power to 'Save the Planet'.

Earth, 4,000,000,000, said last night: "I'll be absolutely fine, seriously. I might get a bit warmer and a bit wetter, but to be honest, that actually sounds quite nice.

"Try living through an ice age. Pardon my French, but it's absolutely fucking freezing."

The planet, based 93 million miles from the Sun, said it was 'sick and tired' of being drawn into arguments about human behaviour.

"Look, I'm just a planet doing its thing, alright? If you want to live on me, that's your business, but I've got important planet stuff to do, okay?

"Try being in elliptical orbit for five minutes, or balancing your gravitational pull with a medium-sized moon. Let me assure you, it's no fucking picnic."

The planet said environmental campaigners should change their slogan from 'Save the Planet' to something more relevant such as 'Save Your Sorry Arse'.

Earth added: "Okay, so there may come a time when, for a variety of reasons, I am no longer able to support pandas, polar bears, and humans, but you know what? Life goes on.

"Who knows, I might end up being a haven for toads."

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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Wot Jimbo said to Kevni

Shorter version: "Jimbo here. Sort it out, MoFo!!!!!"

Longer version:

27 March 2008

The Hon Kevin Rudd, MP
Prime Minister of Australia
Australian Parliament
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, 2600

Dear Prime Minister,

Your leadership is needed on a matter concerning coal-fired power plants and carbon dioxide emission rates in your country, a matter with ramifications for life on our planet, including all species. Prospects for today's children, and especially the world's poor, hinge upon our success in stabilizing climate.

For the sake of identification, I am a United States citizen, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Adjunct Professor at the Columbia University Earth Institute. I am a member of our National Academy of Sciences, have testified before our Senate and House of Representatives on many occasions, have advised our Vice President and Cabinet members on climate change and its relation to energy requirements, and have received numerous awards including the World Wildlife Fund's Duke of Edinburgh Conservation Medal from Prince Philip.

I write, however, as a private citizen, a resident of Kintnersville, Pennsylvania, USA. I was assisted in composing this letter by colleagues, including Australians, Americans, and Europeans, who commented upon a draft letter. Because of the urgency of the matter, I have not collected signatures, but your advisors will verify the authenticity of the science discussion.

I recognize that for years you have been a strong supporter of aggressive forward-looking actions to mitigate dangerous climate change. Also, since your election as Prime Minister of Australia, your government has been active in pressing the international community to take appropriate actions. We are now at a point that bold leadership is needed, leadership that could change the course of human history.
I have read and commend the Interim Report of Professor Ross Garnaut submitted to your government. The conclusion that net carbon emissions must be cut to a fraction of current emissions must be stunning and sobering to policy-makers. Yet the science is unambiguous: if we burn most of the fossil fuels, releasing the CO2 to the air, we will assuredly destroy much of the fabric of life on the planet. Achievement of required near-zero net emissions by mid-century implies a track with substantial cuts of emissions by 2020. Aggressive near-term fostering of energy efficiency and climate friendly technologies is an imperative for mitigation of the looming climate crisis and optimization of the economic pathway to the eventual clean-energy world.

Global climate is near critical tipping points that could lead to loss of all summer sea ice in the Arctic with detrimental effects on wildlife, initiation of ice sheet disintegration in West Antarctica and Greenland with progressive, unstoppable global sea level rise, shifting of climatic zones with extermination of many animal and plant species, reduction of freshwater supplies for hundreds of millions of people, and a more intense hydrologic cycle with stronger droughts and forest fires, but also heavier rains and floods, and stronger storms driven by latent heat, including tropical storms, tornados and thunderstorms.

Feasible actions now could still point the world onto a course that minimizes climate change. Coal clearly emerges as central to the climate problem from the facts summarized in the attached Fossil Fuel Facts. Coal caused fully half of the fossil fuel increase of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the air today, and on the long run coal has the potential to be an even greater source of CO2. Due to the dominant role of coal, solution to global warming must include phase-out of coal except for uses where the CO2 is captured and sequestered. Failing that, we cannot avoid large climate change, because a substantial fraction of the emitted CO2 will stay in the air more than 1000 years.

Yet there are plans for continuing mining of coal, export of coal, and construction of new coal-fired power plants around the world, including in Australia, plants that would have a lifetime of half a century or more. Your leadership in halting these plans could seed a transition that is needed to solve the global warming problem.
Choices among alternative energy sources - renewable energies, energy efficiency, nuclear power, fossil fuels with carbon capture - these are local matters. But decision to phase out coal use unless the CO2 is captured is a global imperative, if we are to preserve the wonders of nature, our coastlines, and our social and economic well being.

Although coal is the dominant issue, there are many important subsidiary ramifications, including the need for rapid transition from oil-fired energy utilities, industrial facilities and transport systems, to clean (solar, hydrogen, gas, wind, geothermal, hot rocks, tide) energy sources, as well as removal of barriers to increased energy efficiency.

If the West makes a firm commitment to this course, discussion with developing countries can be prompt. Given the potential of technology assistance, realization of adverse impacts of climate change, and leverage and increasing interdependence from global trade, success in cooperation of developed and developing worlds is feasible. The western world has contributed most to fossil fuel CO2 in the air today, on a per capita basis.

This is not an attempt to cast blame. It only recognizes the reality of the early industrial development in these countries, and points to a responsibility to lead in finding a solution to global warming.

A firm choice to halt building of coal-fired power plants that do not capture CO2 would be a major step toward solution of the global warming problem. Australia has strong interest in solving the climate problem. Citizens in the United States are stepping up to block one coal plant after another, and major changes can be anticipated after the upcoming national election.

If Australia halted construction of coal-fired power plants that do not capture and sequester the CO2, it could be a tipping point for the world. There is still time to find that tipping point, but just barely. I hope that you will give these considerations your attention in setting your national policies. You have the potential to influence the future of the planet.

Prime Minister Rudd, we cannot avert our eyes from the basic fossil fuel facts, or the consequences for life on our planet of ignoring these fossil fuel facts. If we continue to build coal-fired power plants without carbon capture, we will lock in future climate disasters associated with passing climate tipping points. We must solve the coal problem now.

For your information, I plan to send a similar letter to the Australian States Premiers.

I commend to you the following Australian climate, paleoclimate and Earth scientists to provide further elaboration of the science reported in my attached paper (Hansen et al., 2008):

Professor Barry Brook, Professor of climate change, University of Adelaide
Dr Andrew Glikson, Australian National University
Professor Janette Lindesay, Australian National University
Dr Graeme Pearman, Monash University
Dr Barrie Pittock, CSIRO
Dr Michael Raupach, CSIRO
Professor Will Steffen, Australian National University

James E. Hansen
Kintnersville, Pennsylvania
United States of America

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