Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Missing News: Climate models wrong

Quick item of missing News (via Roger Pielke Snr):There is a new paper published which raises further questions on the robustness of multi-decadal global climate predictions. It is:
Spencer, R.W.; Braswell, W.D. On the Misdiagnosis of Surface Temperature Feedbacks from Variations in Earth’s Radiant Energy Balance. Remote Sens.2011, 3, 1603-1613.
The University of Alabama has issues a news release on it which reads:
Climate models get energy balance wrong, make too hot forecasts of global warming
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (July 26, 2011) — Data from NASA’s Terra satellite shows that when the climate warms, Earth’s atmosphere is apparently more efficient at releasing energy to space than models used to forecast climate change have been programmed to “believe.”
The result is climate forecasts that are warming substantially faster than the atmosphere, says Dr. Roy Spencer, a principal research scientist in the Earth System Science Center at The University of Alabama in Huntsville. Read the rest at Roger's Blog

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


In ABC parlance the blog is on a well earned break. Back in  few weeks time.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Missing News: Sea level rise on the wane

Simon at ACM has post describing a new paper that concludes that rises in sea levels are "decelerating".
See ACM for the details.
The Australian has this REPORT.


UPDATE (thanks to Anon): ABC catch up with the rest of the planet...Sea rise slow down raises questions
(oddly this report does not appear to have made it as a news item in ABC's News Archive). Note the tone at the end of the ABC article...

Dr Howard Brady, a former geologist and now honorary associate at the School of Biology at Sydney's Macquarie University, says the study highlights the gap between models and historical data.

"Modelling is very important because it can give us some idea of how things interact, but it doesn't necessarily give us an accurate projection of the future," says Brady. "The idea that the science is settled ... that's not true."

Dr Kathleen McInnes, a climate researcher at CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric research, says a range of sources are used to analyse sea levels, including tide gauges, satellites and geological records.

She dismisses claims that sea levels will only rise by 15 centimetres this century.

"The Watson paper is not about future projections, it is about past observations. Drawing any connection is misleading," says McInnes.
(Ed. what a ridiculously, uninformed statement, the past is the key to the present)
She says the most recent IPCC report predicts sea levels will rise between 20 and 80 centimetres by the end of this century. (Ed. Like IPCC projections are proving reliable)

"There is a much bigger body of evidence supporting the IPCC projections (Ed.  yeah, those debunked climate models) than there is from single papers in the scientific literature. You have to be very careful when a single paper is cited as though this is the state of the science."

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Backward briefing: a case of foot in mouth

ABC's Wendy Carlisle attempts to find holes in the sceptic's case that the effects of man made global warming are exaggerated and ends up with her foot in her mouth. She spends a lot of time attacking individuals and ignores the science. Amateur hour at its best. Her misconceptions on polar bears and sea level rise will go down in ABC factual error history. We look forward to ABC providing similar reports on Tim Flannery, Al Gore and Ross Garnaut.

Jo Nova, whose highly edited interview appears in the broadcast, thoroughly debunks the report...
This is not journalism, Wendy Carlisle
I’m sure Wendy Carlisle thinks she’s helping Australia. The awarded writer who calls herself a science journalist breaks laws of reason, makes a litany of careless errors, ambushes interviewees with false claims, and devoutly stares past hundreds of peer reviewed references as if they don’t exist. Yes, Anything but the evidence!
She thinks hunting through resumes of retired scientists is a good way to inform us about the need for a Carbon (sic) Tax.
It’s a wake up call ladies and gentlemen. This is the state of “science” at your ABCwhere polite discussion and meaningful research has been replaced with tabloid guttertalk.
The ABC is not part of the problem, it IS the problem.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Nano nano

The Green ABC have found a new scare campaign to champion. This one concerns nano-particles in sunscreens. Oddly enough on this subject the ABC find plenty of time to air the views of non-experts.

Here's the current consensus from the Australian Cancer Council:

Nanoparticles and sunscreen

Nanotechnology has been used in sunscreens for many years. To date, our assessment, drawing on the best available evidence, is that nanoparticulates used in sunscreens do not pose a risk. However, we continue to monitor research and welcome any new research that sheds more light on this topic.
Sunscreen formulas and their components are regulated through the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). In early 2009, the TGA conducted an updated review of the scientific literature in relation to the use of nanoparticulate zinc oxide and titanium dioxide in sunscreens.
The TGA review concluded that:
  • The potential for titanium dioxide and zinc oxide nanoparticles in sunscreens to cause adverse effects depends primarily upon the ability of the nanoparticles to reach viable skin cells; and
  • To date, the current weight of evidence suggests that titanium dioxide and zinc oxide nanoparticles do not reach viable skin cells; rather, they remain on the surface of the skin and in the outer layer of the skin that is composed of non-viable cells.
The TGA's report concerning the safety of sunscreens can be found

Friday, July 15, 2011

Coral Whisperer not listening

ABC has thus far not provided any news of some recent peer reviewed science that shows things aren't so bad on the Great Barrier Reef.
Firstly there's this one that went unreported in June - Disturbance and the Dynamics of Coral Cover on the Great Barrier Reef (1995–2009) by Kate Osborne, Andrew M. Dolman, Scott C. Burgess and Kerryn A. Johns published in PLOS that found: "This study indicates that at the scale of the whole GBR there was no net decline in live hard coral cover between 1995 and 2009."
They also did not provide any news of this paper recently published in the journal Coral Reefs, titled Assessing loss of coral cover on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef over two decades, with implications for longer-term trends by Hugh Sweatman, S. Delean and C. Syms of the Australian Institute of Marine Science that indicates: "The GBR has clearly been changed by human activities and live coral cover has declined overall, but losses of coral in the past 40–50 years have probably been overestimated."
Between them, these papers go a long way to falsify the alarming picture about the state of the reef made by Coral Whisperer Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, including this picture of 2050 painted on The Science Show in 2005: "The waters of the Great Barrier Reef are also 1.5 degrees warmer destroying the conditions for coral growth and leading to annual bleaching events by 2010 and seeing the almost total loss of coral communities by 2030 as huge mortality events role through the system. The reef is unrecognisable. Many of the beautiful fish have gone, coral has been replaced by seaweeds and less appealing organisms."

Seems the corals are speaking, but the Coral Whisperer only hears what he wants to hear. "Selective hearing" is one of the sure signs of confirmation bias, a symptom of Cargo cult science. Censoring alternate viewpoints another one. 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Lies of the climate commission: Part 7 manufacturing certainty

One of my favourite quotes is by the late great Physicist Richard Feynman who described Cargo Cult Science thus:
"But there is one feature I notice that is generally missing in cargo cult science. That is the idea that we all hope you have learned in studying science in school--we never explicitly say what this is, but just hope that you catch on by all the examples of scientific investigation. It is interesting, therefore, to bring it out now and speak of it explicitly. It's a kind of scientific integrity, a principle of scientific thought that corresponds to a kind of utter honesty--a kind of leaning over backwards. For example, if you're doing an experiment, you should report everything that you think might make it invalid--not only what you think is right about it: other causes that could possibly explain your results; and things you thought of that you've eliminated by some other experiment, and how they worked--to make sure the other fellow can tell they have been eliminated.
In summary, the idea is to try to give all of the information to help others to judge the value of your contribution; not just the information that leads to judgment in one particular direction or another."

Consider now the following slide from a presentation by the government's Climate commissar, Prof. Will Steffen, titled Climate Change 2009: Faster Change and More Serious Risks. Notice anything missing?
This is IPCC AR4 WG1 FAQ 2.1, Figure 2 -see page 136 of AR4 WG1 Chapter 2. A more complete version of this figure is published in the summary for policy makers (reproduced below from Summary for Policy Makers Figure SPM2 - see page 4). This includes important information about the error range of various forcing components along with an assessment of the level of scientific understanding (LOSU) for various forcings. Note the LOSU of a number of forcings, important in determining the amount of any future warming (or cooling) are described as Low, or Medium to Low. 
The errors for direct aerosols are a whopping 80%, with errors in cloud cover effects even greater. 
In a presentation to policy makers and the Australian public why would Commissar Steffen prefer the incomplete version? Why does he prefer to hide the errors and uncertainties?
Australia's Climate Commission provides a great example of cargo cult science in action. The ABC does the same for journalism.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Cack Handed report from The World Today

No Surprise that ABC's lunch time current affairs program "The World Today" covered "Climate Alarmfest 2011". No surprise either that they forgot to ask the tough questions, lets go to the transcript...

SIMON LAUDER: He was asked to explain why there's a reluctance in the public debate to acknowledge the influence of climate change on the Queensland floods.
KARL BRAGANZA: If you understand that the climate system is changing based on other indicators, then that's a really consistent picture and so yeah, your take on that's quite fair. As to why there's a disconnect, I'm just a climate scientist I guess. (Laughter) I can't, you know, why is salient parts of the science unaccepted in the public discourse? I couldn't answer that I guess, well I could but probably not here. (Laughter)
SIMON LAUDER: Dr Braganza told the conference this years' widespread flooding and the 2009 Victorian bushfires are the type of disasters we'll see more of as global warming takes hold of the weather.
And he says that's a case for cutting carbon emissions. 

It seems the public can read graphs and appreciate history better than one of our leading scientific institutions? (Recent Brisbane floods peaked at 4.46m -about the 7th highest in the city's history.)

(Note BOM seem so embarrassed by the lack of precedence of the 2011 floods that they haven't yet bothered to update this graph, or the accompanying report-last updated Nov. 2010)

The World Today a great example of cack handed journalism.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Missing News: More IPCC exaggerations

Here's the Abstract of a new peer reviewed paper yet to be reported upon by Australia's state run media:
“IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) AR4 (Fourth Assessment Report) GCMs (General Circulation Models) predict a tropical tropospheric warming that increases with height, reaches its maximum at ~200 hPa, andeases near the tropical tropopause. This study examines the GCM-predicted maximum warming in the tropical upper troposphere using satellite MSU (microwave sounding unit)-derived deep-layer temperatures in the tropical upper- and lower-middle troposphere for 1979-2010. While satellite MSU/AMSU observations generally support GCM results with tropical deep-layer tropospheric warming faster than surface, it is evident that the AR4 GCMs may exaggerate the increase in static stability between tropical middle and upper troposphere during the last three decades.”

Fu, Q., S. Manabe, and C. Johanson (2011), On the warming in the tropical upper troposphere: Models versus observations, Geophys. Res. Lett., doi:10.1029/2011GL048101, in press. (accepted 24 June 2011)

Best not to let inconvenient facts get in the way of the Government's Carbon Tax advertising campaign .

Before the ABC: Getting rid of the carbon tax

From a time before the ABC, when reference to carbon actually meant carbon, and not CO2, The Mail explains how to get rid of that taxing carbon.

"The meaning of this to the motoring public is significant, according to engineers, for it shows an immediate way in which to get rid of one of the greatest taxes the motoring public has to bear, the tax imposed by carbon." 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Another biased report

ABC Science are running this Reuters report about a recent PNAS paper titled "Reconciling anthropogenic climate change with observed temperature 1998–2008that finds there has been no global warming since 1998. Seems Geologists Ian Plimer and Bob Carter have been vindicated in their assessment of recent global temperature trends. Here's link to an article by Bob Carter from 2006.

"Consider the simple fact, drawn from the official temperature records of the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, that for the years 1998-2005 global average temperature did not increase (there was actually a slight decrease, though not at a rate that differs significantly from zero)." 

And Ian Plimer's conversation with ABC's Tony Jones in 2008:
TONY JONES: OK, let's look at some of the information. We don't have time to go through the whole book. Let's focus on one critical aspect of your thesis. In your book you state many, many times, that the planet has been cooling, not warming, in recent years, since 1998. I counted a dozen references in one chapter, they're arguably dozens throughout the book. This is fundamental to your whole argument, isn't it?

IAN PLIMER: No, it isn't. What is fundament to the argument - if we just take the last 2000 years. The planet was hot in Roman and Greek times. Then it cooled in the dark ages, then it warmed in the medieval warmth. Then it cooled in the little ice ages, and we are now, we've just come out of the little ice age. Is it any wonder that the planet has warmed up?

Climate Scientist Judy Curry provides the following critique on the paper on her blog Climate Etc...pity ABC did not seek to balance their report.
Science News is writing an article on this paper (haven’t spotted it yet-ED it's HERE).  Here is the complete comments I provided to the reporter via email:
This paper points out that global coal consumption (primarily from China) has increased significantly, although the dataset referred to shows an increase only since 2004-2007 (the period 1985-2003 was pretty stable).  The authors argue that the sulfates associated with this coal consumption have been sufficient to counter the greenhouse gas warming during the period 1998-2008, which is similar to the mechanism that has been invoked  to explain the cooling during the period 1940-1970.
I don’t find this explanation to be convincing because the increase in sulfates occurs only since 2004 (the solar signal is too small to make much difference).  Further, translating regional sulfate emission into global forcing isnt really appropriate, since atmospheric sulfate has too short of an atmospheric lifetime (owing to cloud and rain processes) to influence the global radiation balance.
 The alternative explanation is  natural internal variability associated with the ocean oscillations.  Since 1999, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation has been shifting from the warm phase (warm phase since 1976) to the cool phase, and has been mostly in the cool phase since 2007.   A cool PDO is associated with more frequent La Nina events, which are associated with globally cooler temperatures. The climate model studies cited by the authors do not do a convincing job of ruling out natural internal variability as an explanation, either for the cool period since 1998, and the earlier cool period during 1940-1970.
 In summary, the authors have put forward one possible explanation for the lack of warming, but an explanation associated with natural internal variability associated with the ocean oscillations is at least as plausible as the explanation put forward by the authors.

Missing News: No increase in hurricane frequency

"These results do not support the hypothesis that the warming of the tropical North Atlantic due to anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions has caused Atlantic hurricane frequency to increase."

So concludes the abstract of a new paper: Vecchi, Gabriel A., and Thomas R Knutson, March 2011: Estimating annual numbers of Atlantic hurricanes missing from the HURDAT database (1878-1965) using ship track density. Journal of Climate, 24(6), doi:10.1175/2010JCLI3810.1.

Doesn't gel with ABC's Groupthink perspective: Climate change to increase bushfires and cyclones

See also 
Missing News: Hurricane activity all time low

Missing News: More problems with IPCC AR4

Judy Curry has an interesting post on her blog Climate Etc by Nic Lewis, titled "The IPCC’s alteration of Forster & Gregory’s model-independent climate sensitivity results", that provides an in depth examination of the manner the IPCC manipulated results in a peer reviewed paper to bias the result.

"Here I demonstrate an error in the core scientific report (WGI) that came about through the IPCC’s alteration of a peer-reviewed result.  This error is highly consequential, since it involves the only instrumental evidence that is climate-model independent  cited by the IPCC as to the probability distribution of climate sensitivity, and it substantially increases the apparent risk of high warming from increases in CO2 concentration."

Nic Lewis co-authored an important study missing from ABC's news archive. We covered this missing news in January. Still no mention of this work in ABC's parallel universe.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Slurred by a coral whisperer

Coral Whisperer Prof. Ove Hoegh-Guldberg currently has a post on his Climate Shifts blog that slurs the reputation of Prof. Willie Soon, an Astrophysicist Harvard University's Center for Astrophysics. In comments Prof. Hoegh-Guldberg attempts to slur my reputation as well. For the record here's a copy of the conversation from Climate Shifts.

  • MarcH says:
    Ove, Care to comment on this tweet from George Monbiot?
    GeorgeMonbiot GeorgeMonbiot
    I got something wrong abt Willie Soon. I suggested he’d never declared his fossil fuel funding. Unlike many, it turns out he has. Apologies.
    Ove, How much funding do you receive from Greenpeace?
    • OveHG says:
      Well, I have publically declared that I have worked for Greenpeace, Rio Tinto and many others. Mostly being paid to provide peer reviewed science which was paid to the University and not to me. And all peer reviewed pieces of work. Question is whether you and the research group you are associated with have declared all your potential conflicts Marc. Isn’t there a little coal money you should tell us about Marc?

  • Marc Hendrickx says:
    Perhaps you could clarify your relationship with fossil fuel giant Rio Tinto who are involved in the The Future Reef partnership with the Great Barrier Reef Research Foundation through their subsidiary Rio Tinto Aluminium. According to the publicity this is a unique example of industry and science working together on an area of mutual and national concern. Comalco has committed more than A$1 million over four years to two Reef research programmes that will be overseen by the Foundation. Comalco of course are now Rio Tinto Aluminium.
    In 2008 Rio Tinto produced over 150 Mt of coal.
    Please don’t tell me you are the recipient of funds linked to the fossil fuel industry? Given your post on Willie Soon will you now return the funds, or will you accept that you are a hypocrite?
    It appears that you are in receipt of over $1.4 MILLION dollars from this arrangement. This is more than Willie Soon has received.

  • Coal money for me, I wish? What are you implying Ove? Please be clear so my lawyers don’t misquote you.
    Are you saying or implying:
    A). I am being directly paid by the coal industry as part of some conspiracy to draw attention to your questionable record on climate science?
    B). I am indirectly paid by the coal industry via superannuation or small share ownership in a resources company (BHP).
    Clearly you are a misguided conspiracy theorist who believes anyone who dares question the great Oz is in someone’s pocket.
    • OveHG says:
      You are a member of Dr Steven Fityus’s research group at the University of Newcastle, right? He receives funding for his group from the Australian Coal Association Research Program (ACARP). About $500k most recently. Interesting observation in the light of accusations of bias by you aimed at me with respect to my work for Greenpeace in the 1990s.
      With respect to your question regarding Rio Tinto – a company that recognizes the challenge of climate change and wants to move rapidly on the solutions (like all responsible businesses) – there is nothing to ponder too deeply about with respect to my groups involvement. In this case, we undertook research on the impacts of ocean acidification on coral reef organisms, and helped run a highly successful employee program. The later was designed to help employees understand the problems of climate change and the urgency of moving toward solutions. A worthy program which had some great outcomes.
      As long as the science is evidence-based and is not interfered with (which it hasn’t been – otherwise I would exited the project immediately), I have worked on science based projects with a wide range of organizations (as I have repeatedly stated). We must get the best answers to the important questions that lie at the heart of this massive problem. Involving all players makes perfect sense.
      By the way, Marc, I see that you are systematically contacting my research colleagues and students with respect to my professionalism. Could you please tell what your intention or hopes are with respect to this? Is it all for the ABC News Watch cause? I note that you have already slurred me on that site. I am not sure that there is much to be gained from engaging in further discussion with you.
      • Your comment is awaiting moderation. 
        You appear to be in forever need of correction. Prof Fityus is my supervisor, however my project which involves looking at historical rockfalls around Sydney, is not externally funded. The project is being done part time and currently relies on minor funding from the within the department. So you are completely in error on this point and an apology for the smear to both myself and Stephen would be appropriate, (that is if you have any honour).
        As to your contention that I am contacting your research colleagues and students with respect to my professionalism. This is again a falsehood. For the public record I requested Oren Levy a co-author with Ove to explain Ove’s contribution to a paper published in Science. Here is my email to Oren, copied to Ove and Bruce Alberts – Chief editor of Science:
        Dear Dr Levy,
        I am seeking clarification on the authorship of one of your papers. Can you please clarify the contribution made by Prof. Ove Hoegh-Guldberg to your paper “Complex Diel Cycles of Gene Expression in Coral-Algal Symbiosis” Science 14 January 2011: Vol. 331 no. 6014 p. 175 DOI: 10.1126/science.1196419
        I ask this as Science Journal’s authorship policy states:
        Science’s policy is specifically designed to support the authorship requirements presented in On Being a Scientist: Third Edition, published by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.† That report emphasizes the importance of an intellectual contribution for authorship and states that “Just providing the laboratory space for a project or furnishing a sample used in the research is not sufficient to be included as an author.”
        Prof. Ove Hoegh-Guldberg has recently intimated his position as last author on papers he claims is due to his position as head of the department and recognises the funding, experience, and infrastructure that invariably goes into a project.
        For publication – Was the credit to Prof. Ove Hoegh-Guldberg in the paper due to his provision for funding and laboratory space, or due to his scientific contribution?
        Marc Hendrickx
        Despite the fact that I made it clear that any response to this email would be for publication both Ove and Oren have requested that their numerous replies be kept private. A request I will respect. Perhaps Ove can take the time to clear the air on this matter on his own blog.
        Thanks by the way for the plug for ABC NEWS WATCH, I recommend visitors start with the Missing News page. They will also find a copy of the comments above and this reply on that site. In regard to so called “slurring”, coming from you in light of your post above and others on Climate Shifts, that would be a case of pot-kettle black.

  • That was the extent of the systematic contact. You will note the final comment is still in moderation. We will update when and if the great Oz replies. To the question posed concerning authorship we still await a concise response. Perhaps a mainstream journalist can take up where I left off? A job for ABC Environmental reporter activist Sara Phillips perhaps?