Archive for February, 2010


The big picture: 65 million years of temperature swings

February 26, 2010

The following is from David Lappi, like myself a Geologist.

“Those that do not heed history are apt to repeat the mistakes of the past.” 

I can assure you that essentially no one in politics has any awareness of the recent geologic past.  Many of the AGW “scientists”  consider themselves  geoscientists and should have some passing knowledge of the following.  Maybe they do, perhaps they don’t, but they refuse to acknowledge the facts and are hell-bent on their pet scientific ideas.  Small wonder that many of the scientific community feel that they are in it for the perks (love that gov’t funding!).  The original post can be found at :

65 million years of cooling

The following two graphs (images created by Robert A. Rohde / Global Warming Art) are climate records based on oxygen isotope thermometry of deep-ocean sediment cores from many parts of the world [1]).  On both graphs, colder temperatures are toward the bottom, and warmer temperatures toward the top. Significant temperature events on the first graph show the start and end of Antarctic glaciation 34 and 25 million years ago, and the resumption of glaciation about 13 million years ago. It is obvious from the graph that we are now living in the coldest period of Earth’s history for the last 65 million years. Despite recent rumors of global warming, we are actually in a deep freeze.

65 million years of global temperatures Image created by Robert A. Rohde / Global Warming Art

Image created by Robert A. Rohde / Global Warming Art

5 million years of cooling

The last five million years of climate change is shown in the next graph based on work by  Lisiecki and Raymo  in 2005 [2] . It shows our planet has a dynamic temperature history, and over the last three million years, we have had a continuous series of ice ages (now about 90,000 years each) and interglacial warm periods (about 10,000 years each). There are 13 (count ‘em) ice ages on a 100,000 year cycle (from 1.25 million years ago to the present, and 33 ice ages on a 41,000 year cycle (between 2.6 million and 1.25 million years ago). Since Earth is on a multi-million-year cooling trend, we are currently lucky to be living during an interglacial warm period, but we are at the end of our normal 10,000 year warm interglacial period.

The last 10 millennia

To detail the more recent prehistoric temperature changes, scientists have drilled a number of ice cores in ancient glacial ice.  Paleotemperature data from ice cores is considered to be our best continuous record of temperatures on the planet for time-spans up to about 420,000 years ago.  Annual layering in undisturbed glacial ice allows us to precisely date the layers, and gives us a very accurate time and temperature sequence. The US government drilled the GISP 2  ice core in central Greenland over a five-year period, and the data is available here.  This data set is useful because it reports temperatures (measured by oxygen isotopes) every 10 to 60 years — a good resolution.  I sometimes see graphs of ice-core temperatures or greenhouse gasses that are based on measurements every 1,000 or 2,000 years: not nearly of close enough together for comparisons that are useful today. I downloaded and graphed these data in Excel myself. The following graphs have a time scale in years Before Present (BP).

The next graph of temperature from the ice core for the last 10,000 years (the current interglacial period) shows that Greenland is now colder than for most of that period (vertical scale in degrees C below zero). We can see the Medieval Warm Period  800 to 1,000 years ago was not particularly warm, and the Little Ice Age 150 to 650 years ago was one of the longest sustained cold periods during this interglacial. We are now recovering from this abnormal cold period, and the recovery started long before anthropogenic greenhouse gases were produced in any quantity. The curved  trend line in green shows that we have been experiencing declining temperatures for the past 3,000 years, and are likely to be heading down toward the next ice age. Temperatures are only considered to be increasing if viewed for the last 150 years, from 1850 onward, which is roughly when thermometers began collecting global data, and is also the period of time the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has chosen for its review. The red portion of the curve is the recovery from the Little Ice Age. The amount of 20th century warming is unknown, since it was recently revealed that unknown portions of the international temperature databases have been tampered with, and the amount and extent of the tampering has not been publicly documented. It is likely that some warming has continued into the 20th century, but it is also likely that the amount of warming is not as great as the 0.6 degrees C that the global warming advocates would lead us to believe.

Our current warming is well within natural variation, and in view of the general decline in temperatures during the last half of this interglacial, is probably beneficial for mankind and most plants and animals. The graph clearly shows the Minoan Warming (about 3200 years ago), the Roman Warming (about 2000 years ago), and the Medieval Warm Period (about 900 years ago). Great advances in government, art, architecture, and science were made during these warmer times.

Greenland Temperatures – last 10,000 years

Long-term, temperatures are now declining (for the last 3,000 years), and we appear to be headed for the next 90,000 year ice age, right on schedule at the end of our current 10,000 year warm period. We have repeated this cycle 46 times in succession over the last 2.6 million years. And in case you are wondering, the previous Antarctic ice cores tell a broadly similar story.  The following graph of ice core data from Vostok (vertical scale in degrees C variation from present) shows that Antarctica is also experiencing a long-term (4,000 year) cooling trend mirroring the Greenland GISP2 cooling trend. Though the individual temperature spikes and dips are different than in Greenland, the long-term temperature trend on the planet appears to be down, not up. And since it is so late in our current interglacial period, we could be concerned about global cooling.

Vostok Antarctica, last 12,000 years

The US is currently drilling a new ice core (see here), already at 1,512 meters where it is 7,700 years old, that is dated absolutely by counting annual ice layers, and each layer will be analyzed for temperature, greenhouse gases, and other constituents. This will give us the best Antarctic record yet. I believe the results will confirm the above. We geologists owe it to policy-makers to give them the benefit of our longer-term perspective. I believe we will regret regulating CO2, since doing so will not produce any measurable climate control, and may actually cause great harm to world economies. If we want to promote renewable energy sources (and I do), let us not penalize fossil fuel production and use.  We may soon need all the energy we can produce, if the long-term cooling continues.

My main point is that natural variation is so large, even if we cease all emissions completely, the climate will still change (just look at the graphs). The cost of (possibly) slightly influencing this change is so great, why not spend a lot less adapting to it? Since we don’t know if the long-term climate is cooling or warming (I bet on cooling long-term), we could spend trillions to cut emissions, only to have the climate cool catastrophically on its own. What then? Pump as much CO2 into the air as possible?

Warming is not a killer, but global cooling is. It would only take a few years of global crop failures from cold weather to put populations at serious risk. Both the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets are thickening: Leave anything on the ice, and it gets buried pretty fast (for example: the US South Pole Base was recently reconstructed because the old base was being crushed by snow and ice, and WWII planes lost on Greenland’s southeast coast, were covered by 264 feet of ice in 50 years: see the image below). This is not rocket science. Sure, the sea-level edges are retreating (that is why we call them the ablation zones of a glacier), but they represent a minute portion of the continent-scale ice mass.

“Glacier girl” crashed on Greenland and became buried under 264 ft of ice.


1 J. Zachos, et al (2001) –  Trends, Rhythms, and Aberrations in Global Climate 65 Ma to Present, Science 292 (5517), 686–693

2  L. E. Lisiecki and M. E. Raymo  (2005) – A Pliocene-Pleistocene stack of 57 globally distributed benthic δ18O records, Paleoceanography 20, 1003


A Clarrification

February 23, 2010

A brief apology is due to you readers in that I intended this blog to discuss many topics, not just AGW issues.  Some of my lack of original comment is due to being lazy, although I also have too much to do with work.  There have been a number of very good topical pieces on the discussions on AGW and the science (or lack) in regards to “cooking the books” of late and I have been generously copying them here.  Anyone reading this blog might get the impression that I am “rabidly” antiAGW or a “skeptic” with regards to climate issues.  Actually I am a vehement skeptic with regards to human influence via CO2 on global climate issues  and rabidly against hiding contrary evidence to the orthodoxy.  The “climategate” scandal shows us how far from perfect some that have invested so much effort and resources into a scientifically flawed viewpoint can fall.  My main point is not full-scale denial, but that there is no proven  scientific evidence that the impending disaster is anything but a fantasy created by models  or worse, manipulation of the “facts” for personal or political gain.

Actually many scientifically important findings have fallen out of the 20  or so years of research that have given us geoscientist’s  a better look at the recent past and  fodder for further investigation and reasoned discussion.   One very important fact is that there have been sudden and rapid climate changes (rapid being on the order of perhaps 10 years or less) of significance in the recent past (last 10,000 years) and that we have no good mechanism to account for these rapid changes.

Geologists have been aware for a very long time that the Earth’s climate has varied significantly (both warmer and cooler) in the geologic past.  Tthe intense investigation of the past 10,000 years, as an outgrowth of the work on climate “change”,  has shown that localized (or even regional) climate changes are perhaps more common than we ever previously thought.   The most striking of these tend to be the times where sudden cooling occurs.   Cold, after all, has much more of an impact on us humans than does warm.  Consider the famous Austrian “Ice Man”, the Chalcolithic age man (mummy) uncovered by melting ice in the Austrian Alps in 1991 (There are others such as teh Peruvian ice “mummies (for example).  The subject of intense scientific study, the remains of the man were preserved via entombing of his body by rapidly advancing glacial ice (without which his remains would have likely been devoured and scatered by scavengers).  The entombment was through the rapid burial by snow and ultimately ice and would have had to take place rapidly (likely within one winter, perhaps one long winter) .  The area where he died was, at that time, an area partially or mostly ice and snow free (a result of the Minoan Warming event – see next post); it is now part of the Schalstal glacier.  It took almost 3,500 years for his remains to melt out of the ice and found.

The burial by the ice is a case of very rapid change in the local climate in an extremely short time period.  Historical documents that show that Alpine villages were abandoned during the “Little Ice Age”  as ice and snow forced the residents further down valleys.  Some accounts report of such rapid ice advance that areas were abandoned within one season.     During the Pleistocene Glacial Maximum [around 20,000 years before present], sea level was as much as 100 meters below our current high stand.  Humans lived on what is now underwater shelf areas off the east coast of NA. (Massachusetts in particular) .

Graphic from NOVA. (

Early humans supposedly crossed the Asian-North American “land bridge”  as populations spread from Eurasia to NA (this land bridge now submersed under the Bering Sea).    These represent dramatic changes of the land (and climate) and which, were well before there were enough SUV’s to cause any “climate change”.  How would we Moderns deal with such dramatic changes we have observed in the past especially if these changes are rapid?   These investigations have great societal significance in planning or abating future climate related issue (both warmer and cooler) .  These are the types of discussions we should be involved in, NOT the backbiting, name calling scrum that has become the “climate” debate.


Blinded by climate change science

February 22, 2010

This from George Will Washington Post

Science, many scientists say, has been restored to her rightful throne because progressives have regained power. Progressives, say progressives, emulate the cool detachment of scientific discourse. So hear now the calm, collected voice of a scientist lavishly honored by progressives, Rajendra Pachauri. He is chairman of the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which shared the 2007 version of the Nobel Peace Prize. Denouncing persons skeptical about the shrill certitudes of those who say global warming poses an imminent threat to the planet, he says: “They are the same people who deny the link between smoking and cancer. They are people who say that asbestos is as good as talcum powder — and I hope they put it on their faces every day.” Nothing prepared him for the unnerving horror of encountering disagreement. Global warming alarmists, long cosseted by echoing media, manifest an interesting incongruity — hysteria and name-calling accompanying serene assertions about the “settled science” of climate change. Were it settled, we would be spared the hyperbole that amounts to Ring Lardner’s “Shut up, he explained.” The global warming industry, like Alexander in the famous children’s story, is having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Actually, a bad three months, which began Nov. 19 with the publication of e-mails indicating attempts by scientists to massage data and suppress dissent in order to strengthen “evidence” of global warming. But there already supposedly was a broad, deep and unassailable consensus. Strange. Next came the failure of The World’s Last — We Really, Really Mean It — Chance, aka the Copenhagen climate change summit. It was a nullity, and since then things have been getting worse for those trying to stampede the world into a spasm of prophylactic statism. In 2007, before the economic downturn began enforcing seriousness and discouraging grandstanding, seven Western U.S. states (and four Canadian provinces) decided to fix the planet on their own. California’s Arnold Schwarzenegger intoned, “We cannot wait for the United States government to get its act together on the environment.” The 11 jurisdictions formed what is now called the Western Climate Initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, starting in 2012. Or not. Arizona’s Gov. Jan Brewer recently suspended her state’s participation in what has not yet begun, and some Utah legislators are reportedly considering a similar action. She worries, sensibly, that it would impose costs on businesses and consumers. She also ordered reconsideration of Arizona’s strict vehicle emission rules, modeled on incorrigible California’s, lest they raise the cost of new cars. Last week, BP America, ConocoPhillips and Caterpillar, three early members of the 31-member U.S. Climate Action Partnership, withdrew from USCAP. It is a coalition of corporations and global warming alarm groups that was formed in 2007 when carbon rationing legislation seemed inevitable and collaboration with the rationers seemed prudent. A spokesman for Conoco said: “We need to spend time addressing the issues that impact our shareholders and consumers.” What a concept. Global warming skeptics, too, have erred. They have said there has been no statistically significant warming for 10 years. Phil Jones, former director of Britain’s Climatic Research Unit, source of the leaked documents, admits it has been 15 years. Small wonder that support for radical remedial action, sacrificing wealth and freedom to combat warming, is melting faster than the Himalayan glaciers that an IPCC report asserted, without serious scientific support, could disappear by 2035. Last week, Todd Stern, America’s Special Envoy for Climate Change warned that those interested in “undermining action on climate change” will seize on “whatever tidbit they can find.” Tidbits like specious science, and the absence of warming? It is tempting to say, only half in jest, that Stern’s portfolio violates the First Amendment, which forbids government from undertaking the establishment of religion, since that is what the faith in catastrophic man-made global warming has become. It is now a tissue of assertions impervious to evidence, assertions which everything, including a historic blizzard, supposedly confirms and nothing, not even the absence of warming, can falsify.


AGW: Restoring courtesy to the debate

February 17, 2010

Guest post – Lucy Skywalker aka Anne Stallybrass. (from “The Air Vent”, 2/9/2010; I apologize that the accompanying figures have been “cut-off”.  WordPress’s doing, not mine.  To see the full sized figures, just go to the link.

When a situation has become so fraught, so polarized, that communication between opposing sides breaks down, “mediators” can be called in to set up a process that can enable and allow all parties to feel that they have been heard fairly. Recent engagement at WUWT with Roger Harrabin of the BBC suggests clearly to me a breakdown in communication, with all sides feeling misrepresented. I want to take the line among skeptics that Roger and the BBC are “innocent until proven guilty”, but to do so, I would ask for some conditions for courtesy’s sake. For not only does extra care with courtesy enable disputes to be resolved; I have discovered a surprise: courtesy is the best facilitator for scientific understanding itself to develop. In addition, many of the best scientists suffer from Asperger’s Syndrome (as did Einstein and Newton). Classically, this condition gives passion for Truth to the point of obsession with a narrow field of interest, and difficulty with “normal” human interactions and communicating skills. Thus the Aspies are likely to do the most brilliant science, but they seldom end up as heads of departments, let alone media reporters. They are the ones who understand crucial details that reporters fail to grasp or even to recognize as significant. I know because I had the condition, and still retain many habits developed to cope with that experience.

(1) First, I am going to look at some historical issues that I think are crucial – so please hear me out. This may do three things: (a) it may exonerate the BBC, well, as nearly completely as one can hope for (b) it may give the BBC, in particular, Roger Harrabin and Richard Black, a way out, to salvage their reputation among skeptics, give them a future, and go a long way towards resolving the AGW issues (c) it may suggest future good practice (which may need to be enshrined by legislation, in order to protect the future integrity of Science).

(2) Second, I ask for special courtesy in responses, in order to give all sides a fair chance. I believe that the best skeptics blogs practice far higher standards of courtesy than are seen in the equivalent “warmist” blogs; I know that many became skeptics because of the difference in the levels of courtesy. Nevertheless, because of the deep breakdown of communication, it is easy for both sides to see insults even where none are intended. So I would like to see factual responses, evidence relevant to the core issues, as far as possible. Emotions are an important part of our nature, they are often the gut-reaction clues we get as to whether material is truth or rubbish. But in the driving-seat, they can precipitate divides. Good practice in rebuilding trust is to ask participants to “own” their feelings rather than give them “objective” status. So as Steve McIntyre says repeatedly: no “piling-on” of emotional response please. All this will help to isolate, distil, clarify, and agree the root issues, as if this blog were a science laboratory, or an awareness-raising workshop, and the issues required the same care of handling as one would apply to tiny but significant quantities, and delicate instruments which also includes human beings.

The communication problem has been building up for so long that we can hardly hope to resolve all conflict instantly. Much mischief is the result of unchecked “group think” by special interest groups, which the best of us do frequently and for the best of reasons. An agreement from all sides, that progress has been made, will, I think, be an excellent achievement.

This picture shows every email link found in the UEA emails, grouped into institutions and individuals.


I’ve been scanning responses on WUWT’s post about Roger Harrabin’s request for “tenured academic sceptics”. Many skeptics feel this is already an impossible request, a request that already loads the dice, because these people, who should be the ones most able to put the skeptical scientific position, are actually the ones least able to speak out, owing to pressure from the scientific “consensus”. I’ve had a productive exchange with Roger, and I’ve looked at some of Richard Black’s material, and all this has left me with the feeling that both of them, and the BBC behind them, may have far more genuine intention to stay fair and open than their reporting suggests to most people here. But we have to go very carefully, and be wary of pitfalls, to open up this possible understanding.

First, let’s look at the BBC policy regarding climate science reporting, as quoted by Robert Christopher on the WUWT Harrabin post:

“Climate change is another subject where dissenters can be unpopular. There may be now a broad scientific consensus that climate change is definitely happening, and that it is at least predominantly man-made. But the second part of that consensus still has some intelligent and articulate opponents, even if a small minority… The BBC has held a high-level seminar with some of the best scientific experts, and has come to the view that the weight of evidence no longer justifies equal space being given to the opponents of the consensus… But these dissenters (or even sceptics) will still be heard, as they should, because it is not the BBC’s role to close down this debate. They cannot be simply dismissed as ‘flat-earthers’ or ‘deniers’, who ‘should not be given a platform’ by the BBC. Impartiality always requires a breadth of view: for as long as minority opinions are coherently and honestly expressed, the BBC must give them appropriate space.”

See that small phrase “some of the best scientific experts”. Let me raise the volume a little. SOME OF THE BEST SCIENTIFIC EXPERTS. Not my personal opinion, but it’s the opinion of the BBC, and it may well have been an honest opinion.

But skeptics here can imagine who these experts could have been. How about Bob Ward, “Senior manager, policy communication” for the Royal Society until September 2006??? We can see something of his provenance and character here. Now it is no more than a possibility that Ward was one of the “experts”. But Prof Lindzen’s paper (Climate Science: is it currently designed to answer questions) demonstrates the infiltration of activists by back-door methods into influential positions in key scientific bodies, over the last twenty years or so. These are people with an agenda – even if the agenda appears to be important, like “saving the planet”. Paradoxically, emotionally-based campaigns for a green, sustainable future, in becoming special-interest groups, developing “groupthink”, relaxing traditional good standards of Scientific Method and Practice, and losing sight of Truth itself, in exaggerating claims of danger, attacking and defaming fair challengers, and ignoring basic sanity checks, have themselves become a danger to our future, and an easy way for those like Al Gore to grab power and make money.

Innocent reasons for the present situation

I am not a conspiracy theorist. I am observing powerful, innocent reasons that even the “best scientific experts” may be misguided, and may have given the BBC misguided advice. The world have seen an unparalleled rate of material change, as well as material growth of population, that has happened due to the material benefits of modern Science. But much of this still depends on material and resources that are ultimately limited, even if they are far more plentiful than some fearmongers maintain; it is still important to consider issues of longterm sustainability. With powerful evidence of our ability to change the environment, it is natural to be concerned about whether our activities may be having effects on the climate. And we cannot omit the religious, spiritual and experiential dimensions, in these issues. Often the material changes overwhelm and confuse; traditional religions seem inadequate, or else God is sought with fundamentalist ardour to shut out all doubts; there is often a gap in the soul, that feels it is unscientific to embrace spiritual reality, but still experiences apocalyptic fear for the future and obsessive activity, supposedly to build a “sustainable future” but in reality to avoid facing the naked fear. However, one thing we need as a foundation is a science and understanding of reality itself that we can trust. And herein lies a big problem for Climate Science.

Science has grown out of all recognition in both extent and complexity. But as specializations proliferate, the number of experts in each specialization grows smaller. Traditionally, the peer-review system depends on unprejudiced review; but the Climategate emails have shown a corruption of the whole peer-review process, where a tiny cabal of experts took it over, to promote their own secondrate “science” and exclude anything that challenged the validity of that “science”, whether or not the challenge was sound. IT DIDN’T USE TO BE LIKE THIS!! The science I studied at school was the soul of trustworthiness, which one breathed in every time one entered the labs and the classrooms, because it was built on Scientific Method and human courtesy; experts couldn’t possibly lie over serious issues, because their results had to be reproduceable and auditable; their colleagues would disbar them for lying, because humankind needs foundations of truth. With complexification, the situation in Science has changed.

Not-so-innocent origins

Much goes back to 1988 when James Hansen delivered a warning speech in a stage-managed heat trap for the US Senate, and the IPCC was established by the U.N. to assess “the scientific, technical and socioeconomic information relevant for the understanding of the risk of human-induced climate change.” IPCC was formed to assess risks and recommend an appropriate response. But in practice, it bypasses the very basis of Science by assuming that AGW is an already-proven fact.

The IPCC is not Science, it is a lookalike, and as recent events are increasingly showing the public, it has become a fraudulent usurper. Openness to objective truth in Science is utterly essential, and, unlike what the BBC directive says, mere numbers of believers, or even 2500 IPCC “scientists”, is actually completely irrelevant; just one piece of contradictory evidence is enough to overturn a century of scientific hypotheses on the AGW in which millions now believe. And unlike what IPCC and “top scientific experts” suggest, there are not just a few, but thousands of scientific pieces of evidence challenging every single part of the AGW thesis.

A significant historical factor is Maggie Thatcher. She knew her science degree was unusual for a politician, and she used it to gain power over the miners by taking hold of, and magnifying, the AGW threat that had appeared like a tiny blip in Science. She gave research grants in any discipline that promised to look for evidence upholding AGW; she decreased all other research grants; she founded the Hadley Centre. I think her legacy was slowly cumulative, like that of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Researchers learned to get grants by promising to research more and more alarming climate issues; apocalyptic research caught on and became multinational business and the darling of the media.

The current challenge

The current challenge is to demonstrate, to such as Roger Harrabin (degree in English) and Richard Black (PhD in economics), that the most fundamental scientific propositions in AGW, and indeed, Scientific Method itself, the very foundations of Science, are what the issue is about. Orthodox science institutions now say that the existence of dangerous AGW has long been agreed by the “consensus” of scientists and doesn’t need further discussion because “time is short” if we are to take “action” to “prevent” it. And with “evidence” by the bucketful from the scientific establishment, people believe [note: believe] the proofs without further check, become “activists”, and harrass those who challenge the basics of AGW into silence. I have been there myself. Those who should be most free and able to investigate and report the real science are now the ones who have been most threatened into silence or drilled into conformity – tenured academics. The WUWT thread is already evidence of this key group of witnesses.

Therefore, what is needed for these disenfranchised experts to speak up is a written promise from the BBC that such scientists will have the right to the final approval of what (of their statements) goes out in any programme. Plus, they should be granted the chance to answer others’ objections to their statements on the programme, as is sine qua non (or is certainly supposed to be) in science journals.

The “drilling into conformity” often happened for the best of reasons, as detailed earlier. Most public dissenters are retired, or from other disciplines, or have somehow reached a point of “nothing to lose by speaking the truth”. The very basis of Scientific Method, namely reproduceability and auditability, has been compromised; and there are many scientists of high standing and expertise, as well as many others who have studied the relevant science, who know that AGW is essentially flawed, not once but over and over, holed under the water line by a monumental iceberg of hidden evidence, as surely as was the Titanic.

The real science

It is true that the Earth has been warming over the last century; it is true that this warming cannot be explained by “total solar irradiance” changes; it is true that the level of CO2 has risen; it is true that CO2 is an important greenhouse gas; it is true that the annual rise in CO2 is comparable in size to (about half the size of) our annual emissions; it is true that even at the beginning of the twentieth century there were scientists concerned at the possible effects of our CO2 emissions. But further than that, we find nothing more than amazing coincidences and correlations, with zero proof of causation. Every single one of these statements can be challenged on many fronts, shown to be misleading, and in no way constitute a proof, or even the slightest quantity of evidence, of AGW. Moreover, there are many further complications that are rooted in poor, misleading, and sometimes downright fraudulent science; the Urban Heat Island effect is one such issue; temperature records themselves are under question; the “proxy” reconstruction of earlier times is seriously under fire; all the “alarmist” prognoses of extreme weather, and of computer models, are belied by the actual records.

Reflections – how to protect the integrity of science

Currently we have an unbelievable, unfortunate situation. But it would not be the first time that humankind has been overtaken by mass delusions. You have only to read about Tulip-mania, or the South Sea Bubble, or the Crusades to find others who have said in effect “we cannot all be wrong”. Much of AGW is a strange combination of sheer coincidence in natural climate cycles, as well as lack of “back to basics” in checking the science. At first it grew innocently, slowly, and apparently usefully, like the Sorcerer’s Apprentice’s broom. Only later did corruption take a greater hold.

The real questions now are, how best to re-establish and protect integrity in Science, how best to rescue the passengers still on the Titanic, and how best to uphold justice and deal fairly with the key offenders, many of whom have been motivated, at least in part, by genuine concern.

Scientific Practice needs rethinking regarding how to keep it truly open, and how to protect Science’s integrity from corruption in the future. Paradoxically, we need to re-include human values to safeguard this integrity – coming from the very same inner realm of experiences that was originally, and with justification, excluded from Scientific Method. Now the humanity has to be rebuilt, not just touchy-feelie-post-modern, but through the great key of Scientific Method itself, applied to our inner realms. This embraces much of what we know today as good psychology, and more. Science needs to rediscover its “citizen science” roots and reclaim this for the future, and become truly transparent, checkable, and open to challenge, by people of ordinary intelligence. Before implementing horrendously expensive policy, scientific truth and open verifiability are essential. This back-to-basics check is the only Precautionary Principle worth its salt. All this work is being achieved by the skeptics blogs who are most ably pointing the way forward. I taught myself the science and then wrote it up as a Primer (click my name) Many readers at the Times Higher Educational supplement have appreciated it, so perhaps our two BBC reporters might consider studying my Primer as well.

Anne Stallybrass aka Lucy Skywalker


Climate Warnings from the Sun

February 15, 2010

This from James Marusek (

As of the end of January, the cumulative number of spotless days (days without sunspots) in the transition into solar cycle 24 now stands at 774. The number of spotless days is clamping down quickly. There were only 3 spotless days in January, 2010.

Solar minimums end rather abruptly. It appears very likely that the final number for this solar minimum will come close to 800. The transitions into the recent Solar Cycles (SC16-23) covering the past 7 decades averaged 362 cumulative spotless days. Therefore it is becoming obvious that the sun has undergone a state change.

The Average Magnetic Planetary Index (Ap index) is a proxy measurement for the intensity of solar magnetic activity as it alters the geomagnetic field on Earth. It has been referred to as the common yardstick for solar magnetic activity. An Ap index of “4″ was the lowest recorded monthly value since measurements began in January 1932. In October and November 2009, this index record was broken with values of “3″. Then in December the index sunk even lower establishing a new record with a reading of “2”. Now in January of this year the Ap index is back up to “3”.

This solar minimum is rather unusual. If we define a period of quiet sun as those months that produced an Ap index of 6 or less and compare the total number of quiet months within each solar minimum, then the results would be:

Minimum Preceding Solar Cycle
Number of Months with Ap Index of 6 or less

SC17 11 months
SC18 2 months
SC19 2 months
SC20 5 months
SC21 0 months
SC22 0 months
SC23 3 months
SC24 25 months and counting

Isn’t it interesting that the Northern Hemisphere is experiencing some of the coldest, snowiest weather in decades at the same time the sun’s magnetic field produced 25 quiet months? But history has shown that when the sun gets extremely quiet such as during the Maunder and Sporer Minimums, the world experiences great cold periods referred to as the Little Ice Ages.

Congratulations to Washington D.C., Baltimore and Philadelphia in smashing your all time seasonal snow record. Who will be next?


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“Nullius in verba” – Words to live by

February 11, 2010

Latin for “Take nobody’s word for it”, the original motto of the Royal Society of London, the 1st “modern” scientific (natural) philosophy society.  Additionally the Royal Society pointed out that “The truth of scientific matters through experiment rather than through citation of authority.” It is sad that these guiding principles of modern scientific thought  seem to take a backseat when scientific discourse moves to the media (and unfortunately has bled into the scientific (or peer review) media).

“The Experts have Spoken!”

As a scientist I care not for how “esteemed” a fellow practitioner is considered.  I care only that the topic discussed be based in an honest, verifiable,  reproducible study.  Investigation – NOT dogma.  Heaven knows scientific success (the long toil from hypothesis to actual reproducible results) is few-and-far-between, but that does not excuse sub-par investigation practices, complacency, incompetence, political advocacy, and out right fraud.  As the late Carl Sagan was fond of saying when pestered by reoccurring claims of so called evidence of  alien presences on Earth,   “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”    Where is the Extraordinary Evidence?


How climate-change fanatics corrupted science

February 9, 2010

This from Michael Barone from the Washington Examiner

Quick, name the most distrusted occupations. Trial lawyers? Pretty scuzzy, as witness the disgraced John Edwards, kept from the vice presidency in 2004 by the electoral votes of Ohio. Used car dealers? Always near the bottom of the list, as witness the universal understanding of the word “clunker.”

But over the last three months a new profession has moved smartly up the list and threatens to overtake all. Climate scientist.

First came the Climategate e-mails made public in November that showed how top-level climate scientists distorted research, plotted to destroy data and conspired to prevent publication of dissenting views. The British government concluded last week that the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit violated the nation’s freedom of information act, although the violations occurred too long ago for prosecution.

The CRU has been a major source of data for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which for 20 years has issued alarms about supposed global warming. The e-mails conclusively establish the intellectual dishonesty of the climate scientists at the CRU and their co-conspirators.

Recently there have been even more shocking revelations. The IPCC has claimed that warming will cause the Himalayan glaciers to disappear by 2035. It turns out that that claim was based solely on a pamphlet published by the World Wildlife Federation, based on no science at all. The head of the IPCC was informed that a 1996 report said those glaciers could melt significantly by 2350, not 2035, but he let the claim stand.

As Christopher Booker writes in the Telegraph of London, “A Canadian analyst has identified more than 20 passages in the IPCC’s report which cite similarly non-peer-reviews WWF or Greenpeace reports as their authority.” Similarly, the Times of London reports that a claim that warming could endanger “up to 40 percent” of the Amazon rain forest came from an anti-smoking activist and had no scientific basis whatever.

“The global warming movement as we have known it is dead,” writes Walter Russell Mead of the Council on Foreign Relations in The American Interest. “The movement died from two causes: bad science and bad politics.”

Some decades hence, I suspect, people will look back and wonder why so many government, corporate and media elites were taken in by propaganda that was based on such shoddy and dishonest evidence. And taken in to the point that they advocated devoting trillions of dollars to a cause that was based on flagrant dishonesty and dissembling.

There was some basis for concern. If carbon dioxide emissions were the only factor affecting global climate, it is clear that increased emissions would tend to produce warmer temperatures over time. Those temperatures could create problems that rational societies would want to address.

But carbon dioxide emissions are not the only factor affecting global climate. Solar activity and water evaporation and countless other things do too. Climate scientists do not fully understand those things, and how they interact. It is rational for society to want to learn more.

Unfortunately, the cadre of climate scientists who have dominated public discussion and have controlled the IPCC have been demonstrated to be far, far less than trustworthy. Like the theorists who invented epicycles to explain away the failure of Ptolemaic theory to account for astronomical observations, they have distorted science in the interest of something that resembles religious dogma.

The secular religion of global warming has all the elements of a religious faith: original sin (we are polluting the planet), ritual (separate your waste for recycling), redemption (renounce economic growth) and the sale of indulgences (carbon offsets). We are told that we must have faith (all argument must end, as Al Gore likes to say) and must persecute heretics (global warming skeptics are like Holocaust deniers, we are told).

People in the grip of such a religious frenzy evidently feel justified in lying, concealing good evidence and plucking bad evidence from whatever flimsy source may be at hand.

The rest of us, and judging from polls that includes most of the American people, are free to follow a more rational path. In his State of the Union address, Barack Obama alluded to “the overwhelming evidence on climate change.” But he felt obliged to add, “even if you doubt the evidence” — an admission that the evidence is less than overwhelming. On a par with, it seems, the claims of trial lawyers and the assurances of used car salesmen.

Michael Barone, The Examiner‘s senior political analyst, can be contacted at His columns appear Wednesday and Sunday,