On Parade: Lisbon Conference – Updated

Posted: January 26, 2011 by tallbloke in solar system dynamics

Well, this is it, I just have a few minutes before heading to the Gulbenkian Foundation to register for the event and get to the first session.

I was up at dawn:

Last night a group of us including Steve Mc, Judy C, Peter W, Ross McK, STeve Mosher and myself went out for dinner together and had a wide ranging discussion round the issues. Ross and Steve M came back to my palatial penthouse suite to continue over a nightcap, and we turned in around 1am.

I have to get going so I’ll try to update this post during the day from the nokia – if the wordpress app plays ball…

Well, WordPress for Nokia has let me down, but in any case there was no time for ‘phone blogging as the pace was fast and continuous. After registration we settled down to a session where the 28 attendees took it in turns to introduce themselves and their work, we were given five minutes each so this inevitably over-ran past the lunchbreak. There was a great diversity of backgrounds and approaches to the issues, including research on the history of attempts and ideas for geo-engineering, analysis of decision making in the face of conflicting evidence, historical comparisons with previous scientific conflicts, my own missive on the need for parallel development of alternative hypotheses and possible cross fertilisation of results and ideas, setting the climate change question in context with other pressing human issues, and many more.

Then we had a session on non-violent communication. This lacked bite and relevance to the kind of discourse entered into in the climate arena and there was a struggle to push the session into some kind of useful shape.

After a coffee break, they need bigger coffee pots! we examined some of the issues identified in the intro session as ‘critical to resolution of the science’ and the ‘things which get us mad with each other’ in groups and reported back in a summary session at the end. Our group chose natural variability/climate sensitivity and ‘bad faith’. Ross McKittrick had an illuminating anecdote about an extra paragraph he managed to get put into IPCC AR4 about other types of models being better at dealing with longer range noise signals in climate data, which then got deleted again from the final version.

We also had Nick Stokes at our table and it was great that he could express disagreement and put in points from his side which all integrated into Ross’s final summary. He delivered this in a beautifully laconic style after we’d witnessed some fireworks from Hans von Storch in response to Peter Webster’s group’s summary on the same natural variability topic.

By seven pm we were fading fast so we closed and barely had time to get changed back at the hotel before taxis whisked us away to a superb little restaurant in the old part of the city centre. After the meal Silvio Funtowicz led some of us on a tour of the Baja Alto before we wandered down to find a Metro station for the ride home.

Another long day at the office. Much to tell, but later, as we meet for dinner in 15 mins. I’ve put on my Che Guevara T’shirt tonight, revolutionary business is afoot. More later.

  1. Rui Sousa says:

    While you are here, please take a look at mr. Calouste Gulbenkian’s biography, I find it kind of ironic that such a debate is being held on the foundation he founded.

  2. E O'Connor says:

    You’re keeping good company so far.

    Watch out for those two Aussies. The Ashes memory is very raw.

  3. Dave N says:

    Steve Goddard is there somewhere, too..

  4. plazaeme says:

    Thanks for keeping us up-to-date.

  5. Tenuc says:

    Glad all going to plan Roger…

    HT from Ecotretas on WUWT – “Be aware of Viriato Soromenho-Marques: he is one of the worst alarmists in Portugal!”

  6. tallbloke says:

    Rui: One of the attendees is science adviser to to the Gulbenkian foundation and had some well measured words on demographics, and other environmental issues which had been eclipsed by climate change.

    Dave N, indeed he is. STeve told us all about his cycling exploits and environmental attitudes too.

  7. Roy Martin says:

    Rog: Sounds like fun, but watch out for drinking with the colonials after midnight.
    Where can I get a list of the 28 attendees?

    p.s. thanks for the paper you sent me recently.

  8. Joe Lalonde says:


    Enjoy yourself! 🙂

    Sounds like a very good time!

  9. tallbloke says:

    Roy, published on the agenda thread.

    Joe, it’s been a gas. Some pleasant surprises with how friendly everyone has become with each other. A sea change is in the air. At dinner tonight I presented Judy Cury with the climate blogger of the year award, to a big round of applause from everyone, from both sides of the debate. Steve Goddard got a quick video clip which he will post on his blog when he wakes up tomorrow.
    Judy Curry climate blogger of the year

  10. GregO says:


    Following you closely – what a star-studded cast.


  11. Joe Lalonde says:


    Glad it is turning out so well rather than a “bitch-fest”.
    Thanks so much for the up-dates.
    Have fun!

  12. Robinson says:

    You’re so lucky. I’d love to have been listening to the discussions!

  13. tallbloke says:

    What a day. Another early start with continuing diuscussions fololowed by a review and summary of our workshop conference, then after lunch, just enough time for a quick peek in the Gulbenkian Foundation Museum. Wow.


    Then off to the public event, with two discussion panels. First one comprised of Judy Curry, Hans von Storch (Lead IPCC author), Jerry Ravetz and Angela Pereira (E.U. Joint Research Council). These were ‘set piece’ presentations.

    Second one formed with Jean Paul Mallingrau (E.U. Policy maker), Jeroen van der Sluijs (Utrecht University), Fred Pearce of the Guardian, and Gerald Traufetter of Der Spiegel. The second panel was excellent, with many good questions from the public well answered by the panelists. Gerald had been low profile during the conference, but gave it both barrels here, with some very incisive comments about the climategate emails.

    Then straight to dinner, the taxis getting seperated this eneded up being a foursome of me Ross McK, Steve McI and Fred Pearce. Some interesting tales of the peer review wars and some inside info on the Guardian story editing and selection issues. Very interesting!

    Tired now, I’m going to crash and get up for an early breakfast with people heading for planes home.

  14. Zeke the Sneak says:

    I am sure I am not the only one around here who would be more than happy to pitch in for a NEW SHIRT, one more WORTHY of our host.

    Other than that, glad to see tallbloke on message, suggesting “the need for parallel development of alternative hypotheses.” You never know, it might become all the rage in science.


  15. tallbloke says:

    Heh, the party shirt caused a few jealous/amused looks among the soberly dressed science community at dinner thursday evening. 🙂

    I left my outrageous hat at home though.

    Well, I’m packing to leave now, lunch with Steve Mosher before we head for the airport. I’ll do the big write-up tomorrow once it’s all sunk in a bit, but is still fresh.

  16. vukcevic says:

    Hi Rog
    Well done and thanks for the updates, looking forward to the final report.
    Now we know why the ‘tallbloke’ https://tallbloke.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/tallbloke.jpg?w=600&h=450

  17. tallbloke says:

    Judith Curry has written a superb piece on the event here:

    I made a comment there, but I will write something more extensive here tomorrow when I’ve had some sleep.

    Also, a you tube clip of my ‘Climate Blogger of the Year’ presentation to Judy on Thursday here:
    Steve didn’t get the camera out fast enough to catch my brief speechifying, but I said the presentation was in recognition of the integrity, courage, determination, insight and stamina Judy has shown in getting Climate Etc off the ground and turning it into the most intense and in-depth climate blog of the year.

  18. tallbloke says:

    The debate has really taken off on Judy’s blog, and I’m not going to fracture it by posting here on the general subject of what the workshop was about, just to get more web traffic. Head for the link in the previous comment and join in!

    I will post here later today on the outcome of a specific round table discussion on the subject of the temperature datasets.

  19. The powerpoint of my Lisbon lecture “From ‘speaking truth to power’ towards ‘working deliberatively within imperfections'” is now available online at:

  20. Joe Lalonde says:


    The biggest problem I have in current science is where do you go to present your research?
    Current doors are SLAMMED shut through the locking of the AGW theory and all the policies and peer-review enforcing this. Then also the carbon market and commercialization all to do with this theory so that it is extremely difficult for someone to take your research seriously.

  21. tallbloke says:

    Thanks for this. I think I’m not the only one who appreciated the clarity and precision of thinking you brought to the proceedings at Lisbon.

    I hope this will help others who struggle with Ravetz’ abstract formulations, although I think many of them didn’t actually read Ravetz and are just reacting to the provocative title he gave the concept.

  22. tallbloke says:

    I have encountered prejudice and dismissal of course, but I’m hoping that when the quantitative work on my hypothesis has made some more progress, there will be a change there. The Lisbon event was very valuable for me at a personal level as well as for the group. Although my ideas didn’t get a full airing for discussion, some individuals did take an interest and took what I had to say seriously. This fills me with hope for the future of climate science.

    I will keep trying and trying, and trying.

  23. Rui Sousa says:

    Talbloke, Gulbenkian Foundation is probably the most respected institution on arts & sciences promotion in Portugal, a true example of philantropy. I was referring to the fact that the foundation was built with the fortune the founder made in Oil trading. Ironic to see that they are now environmentalists, maybe money has no colour at all. Maybe the Big Oil / Big Green thing is just imagination at place.

  24. tallbloke says:

    Thanks for the background information. The founder has good taste in art! It is true that there is a strong environmentalist atmosphere there, even among the far eastern hardwood paneling and floors. I think also that the foundation is concerned to be at the forefront of science and ideas around social justice. They were willing to host this event and that is enough for me, I don’t need to speculate about their motives.

  25. […] all reports I’ve seen, a good time was had by all who attended (even if little progress was made towards […]