Sunday 30 January 2011

Mail Bag

I was emailed the following questions by an alarmist (under the cowardly anonymous name 'grhm332'). After checking his IP address to make sure he wasn't posting from a public government funded organization in work hours, I proceeded to check the questions were not a trap - ie were they designed to make me sound like an idiot when I answered them. Satisfied, I decided to respond.

Lets get something straight though - I don't believe in email, not in the sense that I don't believe in the Greenhouse Effect, I just mean I don't like it. I don't like email. Whenever I get an email, I will not respond directly. It's a security issue - the UN would just love to break into my email server and steal my climate emails. Instead I write a response up on a blog and then email the recipient a link to that blog post. Then they can come and comment on that blog post. I like it that way because then I can moderate them. Also it allows others to Peer-To-Peer review our discussion. And my blog visitor count goes up, which is the most important part of Blog Science.

The questions I was asked and my responses:

What Level Of CO2 Would You Consider Dangerous Enough To Act On?

I sense a trap here. The questioner wants me to answer that no level would be dangerous and make me sound like an idiot! Nice try, but it won't fly.

My answer is 2 million ppm - at which point I might start considering there may be a problem. At about 5 million ppm CO2 I think that would definitely be too much life even for skeptics.

How Much Global Warming Would You Consider Dangerous?

Well considering it's been quite cold here lately with lows dropping just below zero, and factoring in my tolerance for Saunas, I would have to say something like 60 degrees C global warming would probably be the danger limit. With one caveat - if 60 degrees C warming was caused by CO2 (even though it couldn't be) that wouldn't be dangerous because vegetables would grow bigger - good effect canceling out bad effect, etc.

Saturday 29 January 2011

North Atlantic Waters Preventing Greenland Ice Melt

Well Whad'Ya know? Despite alarmist cries, it turns out that warming is good after-all and the arctic is doing just fine:

'Hidden Plumbing' Helps Slow Greenland Ice Flow: Hotter Summers May Actually Slow Down Flow of Glaciers

Hotter summers may not be as catastrophic for the Greenland ice sheet as previously feared and may actually slow down the flow of glaciers, according to new research.

A letter published in Nature on 27 January explains how increased melting in warmer years causes the internal drainage system of the ice sheet to 'adapt' and accommodate more melt-water, without speeding up the flow of ice toward the oceans. The findings have important implications for future assessments of global sea level rise.

The study was funded by the Natural Environment Research Council's National Centre for Earth Observation.

More details here:

Is this natural warming effect that protects glaciers actually happening though? Another recent study also on ScienceDaily suggests that yes, it is:

Warming North Atlantic Water Tied to Heating Arctic

Led by Robert Spielhagen of the Academy of Sciences, Humanities and Literature in Mainz, Germany, the study showed that water from the Fram Strait that runs between Greenland and Svalbard -- an archipelago constituting the northernmost part of Norway -- has warmed roughly 3.5 degrees Fahrenheit in the past century.

and furthermore they report that arctic sea ice decline has been caused by the Atlantic, not by CO2:

"We must assume that the accelerated decrease of the Arctic sea ice cover and the warming of the ocean and atmosphere of the Arctic measured in recent decades are in part related to an increased heat transfer from the Atlantic," said Spielhagen.

Well color me surprised. Looks like nature is just fine and can take care of itself after-all. I've always said we have more to fear from Global Cooling. Now we can add melting ice caps to the list of problems a little ice age would cause.

Friday 28 January 2011

How To Run A Skeptic Blog (part 1)

Step 1. Enter the URL into your browser and hit GO

Step 2. Read each headline in turn - what does it say?

Something is cooling
Doesn't matter what is cooling. It might be an ocean, a country, or even another planet.

For example this article fits:
Water Temperature in the Subtropical Atlantic Falls Due to Wind Action

Copy the image and some of the text from the article into your blog. The text doesn't matter too much, the title is important though. Use your own title, something suitably trite that gets the message across like "What happened to Global Warming?". Add a quick comment to the end of the post, again something pretty mundane that the slower readers can enjoy. Perhaps a passing reference to the hockey stick being the wrong way up or something about hiding a decline. You get the idea.

Your post is ready.

Something that overturns previous understanding
It doesn't even have to be about climate. For example this article fits:
Dinosaurs Survived Mass Extinction by 700,000 Years, Fossil Find Suggests
University of Alberta researchers determined that a fossilized dinosaur bone found in New Mexico confounds the long established paradigm that the age of dinosaurs ended between 65.5 and 66 million years ago.

Copy paste that bit into your blog and any other parts that fit the idea that those clumsy scientists keep getting everything wrong:

Heaman and his colleagues believe if their new uranium-lead dating technique bears out on more fossil samples then the KT extinction paradigm and the end of the dinosaurs will have to be revised.

Choose your own title. Again something trite like "So much for Consensus!" or "So much for Science!". End the post with a comment that lightly insults scientists for not understanding anything and praises laypeople for understanding more. Or perhaps even write a one line put down of a specific Climate Scientist you don't like today.

Anything about ice growing, sea level falling or the rate of change slowing down
This article fits:
'Hidden Plumbing' Helps Slow Greenland Ice Flow: Hotter Summers May Actually Slow Down Flow of Glaciers

Copy paste the beginning of the article:
Hotter summers may not be as catastrophic for the Greenland ice sheet as previously feared and may actually slow down the flow of glaciers, according to new research.

Choose your own title. Something like "Scientists Admit Greenland Ice Sheet is Stable" or perhaps "Warming From Rising CO2 To Prevent Glacier Melt" or even "CO2 Taxes Will Melt Glaciers Say Scientists"

Don't post anything else. Your target audience will only read the title, take a cursory glance at the extracts you have chosen (as if they need to check) and then they will scroll down to the comments to write something about Al Gore.

Here is a real world example:
ScienceDaily: Debris on Certain Himalayan Glaciers May Prevent Melting

The Telegraph reported that story, but in true 'interpreting the interpreters' fashion they elected to use their own enhanced title to emphasize skepticism:
Telegraph: Himalayan glaciers not melting because of climate change, report finds

What about articles that don't fit?
Ah you mean articles like the top four articles that appear in the climate section of ScienceDaily today:

Warming North Atlantic Water Tied to Heating Arctic
More Frequent Drought Likely in Eastern Africa
Mass Extinction Linked to Ancient Climate Change, New Details Reveal
Climatic Fluctuations in Last 2,500 Years Linked to Social Upheavals

Yes most ScienceDaily articles don't fit, try to ignore them. They literally go away after a few weeks. That said if your blog is popular you might have to post some of these stories to appear neutral. Try to find an angle on them that works (I'll post an example for the next post) and always describe them in a condescending manner. Present the scientists behind the cooling studies as respected authorities and the scientists behind the warming studies as pure bastards.


Today we learned how to write a skeptical blog post in 3 minutes. Remember running a successful skeptic blog is all about quantity, not quality. That's where blogs like go wrong. They spend too long thinking and not enough time typing. If you only publish a post once every month how will your blog ever get a high visitor count, aka impact rating? The best climate blogs post at least 10 posts a day. That way all your mistakes fade into the past really quick while at the same time sticking in people's minds.

Still don't understand? Well imagine a climate scientist giving a slow boring lecture about how molecules work. Everyone is falling asleep and then suddenly in bursts an exciting character with wild eyes who screams "LIES, ITS ALL LIES!". Who gets your attention? I for one would like to know why he has wild eyes, what truths can he tell me about the PDO and Solar Cycling?

Thursday 27 January 2011

Progress in Conspirology

The field of Conspirology is currently undergoing a rapid transformation. Thanks to the emergence of blogging and more recently the establishment of the Peer-to-Peer review system, researchers are publishing new theories on an almost daily basis. This can all be very confusing to the layperson, so I thought I would write a very quick and rough summary outlining the current state of Conspirology with regards to climate change, some of the recent progress in the field and where I think the field is heading.

Recent Advancements

The main advancement has been the exponential growth of computing power. The sheer amount of computing power available today would have been unimaginable to theorists of the past who had to shout their ideas from street corners to get noticed. In fact a modern calculator has more computing power than the rocket that allegedly put man on the moon. This extra computing power has led to the emergence of blog science. No-one knows how many blogs there are on the Internet (except the NSA who monitor and log all web traffic) but I am going to say the number is 15 million. It's growing all the time. Blogs have been a real help to Conspirology, enabling a new generation of theorists to get involved.

Another advancement has been the recent adoption of the peer-to-peer review system, which emphasizes a suspension of disbelief rather than a more formal evidence based review. Peer-to-peer review has allowed ideas to flourish that would otherwise have not seen the light of day for lack of evidence or common sense.

Current State of the Field

A recent comprehensive review of the field:

As theorists of Conspirology we can definitely say "Yes there IS a climate change conspiracy happening", but we can't quite attribute the cause. Despite the aforementioned advancements in the field, frustratingly little progress has been made narrowing down the exact cause behind the Man-made Global Warming scam. We seem to be still stuck with all the uncertainties that existed 10 years ago. If anything the more answers we find the more questions we are left with.

To confound matters they keep changing the name. I suspect this is to slow us down. Last year it was Global Warming then it was Climate Change and now it's got something to do with Disruption. The worst part is we aren't even sure who this "they" are. Somehow the name keeps changing but no-one seems to know who is doing it. What we do know is that whoever is changing the name is also sneaking in references to man-made global warming in all the atmospheric physics textbooks.

Is it just part of a natural cycle?

Scientists were predicting an ice age in the 1970s and before that they were predicting warming in the 1920s. So the question has to be what caused all those past conspiracies? If we can't explain the past conspiracies how can we claim to know the cause of the current one?

Is it Communists?

Good point, but Conspirology has progressed quite a bit from it's early days where the answer to any complex issue could just be Communists. These days things are just a bit more subtle. There have been a lot of twists in movies lately and people are just not going to accept simple conspiracies anymore, myself included.



Where is Conspirology heading?

Nowhere, and that's good because mark my words if the field was heading for a consensus I would be out of here. Consensus isn't science. What I always say is that the less experts accept an idea, the more likely it is to be true.

What is the truth? My money is on the Climatati. But use the comments to speculate.