Monday, July 21, 2008

Things to do

  1. Read this on climate feedbacks (and understand it :-)
  2. Write a piece on skepticism, denialism (which is not in FireFox spell checker, but neither is FireFox) and inactivism;
  3. Tax time!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

This is what it feels like at home too.

says it all, really.

The Travelling Garnaut Show

I was at the Brisbane City Hall presentation. The things I do on my days off to have fun.
Prof Garnaut is not a particularly powerful speaker, but the message was important.
He was asked about the importance of bipartisan support for the ETS, and what would happen if it didn’t happen. He responded that, as with most political activities, if people don’t like something they can vote for a different govt to change it and solve global warming by “hiding under their pillows” instead.
The audience was very responsive and applauded on the assertions that we are not going first, but we must go now, on the ETS. Also when a questioner tried to deny that global warming even exists, the audience was most negative. Prof Garnaut’s response was quite good, in saying that he had, in fact, spoken to many “climate change dissenters” and weighed their arguments with the much larger body of climate scientists, and came to the conclusions that he has outlined in the draft report.
A few other things:
1) In profile Prof Garnaut looks a lot like Marlon Brando.
2) After the presentation and questions, my wife and I went for lunch and for some shopping in the mall. We noticed the queues of people in front of Telstra, Optus and other phone shops with people lining up to buy iPhones. The missus and I figured that if so many people can queue up to buy an expensive phone, we can afford an ETS. We should not be that soft that we can afford luxuries that were only dreamed of 50 or 100 years ago, and complain bitterly that the world will end if some things get more expensive.
3) From my perspective, we are a rich country that is making bucket loads (shiploads?) of money from resources, and are politically stable with a generally peaceful, wealthy population. As Prof Garnaut mentioned, 300 million people in India live on less than $1.00 per day. I don’t see that sort of poverty here. So one of the reasons we should reduce emissions and carry the cost is simply because we can.
BTW: This might be of interest for those that want to know about political interference in science in the US.

Playing the Ball on Climate Change Denialism

A very short paper by Rixaeton
Abstract: There has been too much playing of the men (note that I refer to “men” in a gender non-specific way) instead of their balls. In this paper I will endeavour to show that playing the ball is not as fun as playing the man, as the balls are not well rounded, and tend to deflate on close examination.

As a relevant example of the quality of the balls to play with, I present the recent paper by Lord Monckton in the American Physical Society July 2008. Note that I have linked the actual pdf, and not the website, as the pdf is the published paper. Please go to page 6. The first thing to note about the Monckton paper is the disclaimer given by the APS:

This article has not undergone any scientific peer review. Its conclusions are in disagreement with the overwhelming opinion of the world scientific community.
The Council of the American Physical Society disagrees with this article’s conclusions.
This should already set the tone for how relevant the article will be. Note this is at odds with the claims that the APS is changing their opinion on AGW. Perhaps the claimants need to read the paper before supporting it.

Exercise for the reader: Please observe in the paper the points where the writer uses the word “may” which would indicate that the negative assertions are not proven, but are expected to be shown some time in the future.

First paragraph:

Globally-averaged land and sea surface absolute temperature TS has not risen since 1998 (Hadley Center; US National Climatic Data Center; University of Alabama at Huntsville; etc.). For almost seven years, TS may even have fallen (Figure 1).

The figure in question shows the temprature anomoly is still a positive number. There is a decline in the recent 7 year trend, however 7 years is too short a time to show climate change variations, due to short term feedbacks and events such as El Nino and La Nina.

The models heavily relied upon by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
(IPCC) had not projected this multidecadal stasis in “global warming”;
1) A 7 year graph is not “multidecadal” ie: Two or more decades.
2) The paragrah goes on to say that the IPCC modelling does not include various weather events, and the Grand Solar Maximum. (Aside, the Grand Solar Maximum is a measure of solar activity (flares, sun-spots etc) and not luminescence, or “heat”, increase). He also mentions the warming of other planets at the same time, which has been discounted as evidence of an increase in solar radiation due to the simple co-incidence that the bodies in question are at their closest orbital distance from the sun. Moving on… and this is the good bit:

An early projection of the trend in TS in response to “global warming” was that of Hansen (1988), amplifying Hansen (1984) on quantification of climate sensitivity. In 1988, Hansen showed Congress a graph projecting rapid increases in TS to 2020 through “global warming” (Fig. 2):

Monckton uses figure two to show that model prediction is not possible, and that they are wrong. I find this conclusion to be at odds with the figure, as the Hansen 1988 line (B) does, in fact, show a decline in the temprature anomoly at around 2010, and stablisation for a few years after that. Not bad for a model developed 20 years ago. He goes on to quote:

“Prediction of the sufficiently distant future is impossible by any method, unless the present conditions are known exactly. In view of the inevitable inaccuracy and incompleteness of weather observations, precise, very-long-range weather forecasting would seem to be non-existent.”.
This is a quote about weather forecasting, not climate forecasting. Forecasting the weather is difficult because of the short-term (hours) feedbacks that need to be assessed against the in-fed data of the current state of the weather. Climate models are simpler as the short-term feedbacks smooth out over time. It’s like predicting an individual coin toss, as opposed to guessing that after 100 coin tosses, about 50% will be heads.

Length is limiting my further analysis of this paper, but to quote a complete stranger:
Re 65: Wow! Monckton manages to cycle through the standard loop without skipping
a beat:
It’s not happening.
And if it is, it’s the sun doing it.
And if it isn’t the sun, it’s not CO2.
And if it is CO2, it’s not happening anyway.
And if it is happening, computer models are stupid.
And if they’re not stupid, it doesn’t matter because it’s not happening.
And if it is happening, it’s not a big deal.
And if it is a big deal, there’s nothing can be done.
And if anything can be done, it will destroy civilization.
And if it won’t destroy civilization, it still doesn’t matter.
And besides, it’s not happening.
In conclusion: The “balls” or “the assertion that there is no climate change, and humans are not doing it anyway,” are flabby and not fun to play with. There is a high correlation between these “balls” and the “men” who provide them. Therefore it can be safely assumed that, once the man is known, a cursory inspection of the balls will suffice to see if it is worth wasting time refuting whatever tin-foil-hattery or old-and-no-longer-supported claims contained therein. This is not to say that the “man” will never publish a shiny new ball to play with in a serious manner, so reading and comprehension is still important.