Sunday, October 30, 2005

Blair the Politician

Today's article in the Observer is an interesting exercise in Blair Politics. It is aimed straight at the green lobby but it carefully skirts the issues that they want and instead introduces more and more of what they don't want. He's weaning them off the teat, slowly bringing them back into reality. A very clever politician. I seriously doubt there's anyone else in government who could pull this off.

I can only imagine Greenpeace is seething!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Yet Another Study

This time a report on the effects of climate change on Europe. It's not clear whether the model assumed that global warming will occur, but the results are apparently mixed - some bad (emphasized by the BBC) some good (mentioned only in passing).

If climate change is indeed moving toward a warmer climate, then the best humankind can do is follow its trends, just as we would have to cope with a cooling globe. All the talk about "tackling global warming" is simply not on. We really must learn to understand that we can only be a small part of the solution (and are not necessarily a large part of the problem anyway).

As I type this, Prince Charles is receiving maximum coverage on the BBC's 10 o'clock news. Quite amazing that one man, unschooled in science, can be allowed to exert such a strong influence on a nation.

The Prince of Wales speaks - should we listen?

The BBC has drawn out Prince Charles in an interview that embraces the "problem" of global warming.

Now, I have not seen or heard the interview so all I can go on is the web page cited above. My first thought is "so what" if Charles Windsor thinks global warming is a serious problem. Why should we put any additional credence in something nobility says? What are his credentials?

I see Charles as a supporter of tradition - he seems to dislike anything new (i.e. architecture) and wallows in near self pity about the changes going on in our society. He doesn't seem to understand that change is inevitable and that society will change according to the external forces surrounding it. He may rant and rave about farming methods but surely the reason farming methods change is because of external forces (supermarket buying policy, government regulations, weather, etc.).

Yes weather is a factor and climate change will be taken into account! But the key, surely, is to go with the change, not struggle against it!

One more thing about Prince Charles. I feel sorry for the man who has had little choice in his destiny and much ridicule from many for the things he says and the projects he embraces. In this case, however, I simply ask "on what scientific basis did you conclude that tackling global warming is something we must do for the sake of our grandchildren?"

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Just how much is "global warming" established?

Far too often the doomsayers of global warming seem to be winning over lay people with their rhetoric. Far too many "letters to the editor" in quality newspapers start with an acknowledgement that global warming is upon us, that we need to do something, that it may take more than we can afford but we must still work hard to save the planet. Etc, etc.

Science is, in many ways, at a crossroads. Consider this: From the left we have the global warming crowd, claiming that good science backs their contention that something must be done about global warming. From the right we have the Intelligent Design (creationism in another guise) lobby demanding that schools give equal time to faith-based beliefs and scientifically investigated theories. (They don't want equal time, by the way, as their beliefs transcend such thoughts of promoted equality).

How do you combat both at the same time. It's difficult because few people are prepared to give the time and effort into understanding the underlying fallacies. It's so much easier to believe a scientist than to test his theories. It's also so much easier not to believe a scientist at all. What a conundrum.

I rather fear that a lot of people who could know better are quite prepared to believe in global warming simply because the alternative thought process is too difficult. In this day of the "soundbite" any proposition that requires time and effort to communicate is doomed. So perhaps science is doomed. After all, fewer children want to study science and fewer people feel the need to get involved in the debate.

In reality, contentious debates like global warming are easily won by those who will scare the layity into believing what is easiest to believe. Greenpeace know this better than anybody and, boy, do they know how to get their message across!

Monday, October 10, 2005

The Cryosat Failure

It is always disappointing to see an expensive scientific data gathering study go south and this is what has happened to the Cryosat project. The chief scientist is urging the global warming community that this project must still go ahead despite this enormous setback.

But wait a minute, in the article referred to above, is the following observation:

The loss of the satellite is a blow to Russia's space program and the European Space Agency, which had hoped to conduct a three-year mapping project of polar sea ice and provide more reliable data to study the effects of global warming.

Three Years!

My guess is that this project is doomed now that more and more scientists are becoming aware that such scientific observation is just about meaningless.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Comparison of London and Godthab wrt Climate Change

Now this little discussion is not rooted in months of scientific research and I don't intend to submit it to Nature but it makes for interesting reading when placed into the Kyoto Protocol paradigm.

During the geologically recent ice ages (there were four of them) a huge ice sheet extended over much of northern Europe. The southern edge of the maximum extent of this ice sheet has been deduced to lie not far north of London. This ice sheet has receded back to a couple of remnants in Norway during the past 10,000 years. Now, let's go back to around 25,000 years. Imagine the present location of London on a windswept alluvial plain devoid of trees - a tundra like topography. A few miles to the north there was a huge wall of ice - the terminal face of the great ice sheet.

Now fast forward to today. We'll travel north and west to Greenland, capped by a huge ice sheet. The capital of Greenland is Godthab, a small town on the eastern coast of Greenland. Not far inland is the terminal wall of the Greenland Ice Cap. In this respect, we can imagine that Godthab today might look a lot like the London area 25,000 years ago, during the Ice Age. OK, I suggest you imagine something and that isn't science, is it? Oh but yes it is if the mind sees things that can be backed up, verified and tested. And geologists have done all that.

So, what is the temperature in Godthab these days?. Let's take just two values - July Maximum 10ºC and January Minimum -10ºC.

Next, let's look at the same data for London. The same two values are July Maximum 23ºC and January Minimum 3ºC.

Both values have exactly 13 celsius degrees difference!

So what does this mean? Not a lot in strict empirical terms. But in relative terms remember that the Kyoto Protocol aimed (I use the past tense on purpose) to reduced global warming by precisely 0.2ºC. That's one fiftieth the size of the probable temperature change between 25,000 years ago and today. And the Ice Ages were natural events with no anthropogenic input. Which means that climate change scientists may not be capable of comprehending the problem of global warming at all. Unless they consider a lot more time than the past 1,000 years!

Greenpeace's idea of a globally warming commercial

If, and only if, you have a strong stomach for the bizarre, try this commercial spot by Greenpeace. Tony and Dubya end up in a motel room with black oil shooting out of a petrol pump nozzle!? Wierd. Period.

Guinness ad promotes evolution!

The latest Guinness stout commercial (see it here) uses the theory of evolution to promote a great tasting drink! Actually, Guinness calls it NOITULOVE because the entire time-lapse effect ad runs backwards!

So what does this have to do with climate change? Well, the three characters pass back through time many hundreds of millions of years and one of their first scenes is being frozen during the Ice Age. Nice stuff!

There may be a subliminal message or two here for people. And how soon before the "religious wrong" start boycotting Guinness? Oh, I forgot, they don't drink, do they? Or do they - all those brown paper sacks in the Bible Belt must contain something!

Friday, October 07, 2005

The Hockey Stick has been broken!

Thanks to my learned friend at Envirospin, I have the URL to a pdf download that is a seminal piece of reporting on the statistical abuses that were used to create the infamous hockey stick graph that "proves" anthropogenic global warming. I'll say and write no more - but do read the article!