Archive for February, 2011

The Talkshop is now an ad-free zone

Posted: February 28, 2011 by tallbloke in Uncategorized

I looked in on another pc to check the site yesterday and was distracted by the ads displayed. You don’t see them when you are logged in as the blog owner. I think they detract from the user experience. So I had a look at the options WordPress offer to get rid of them.

It was Hobson’s choice, so I splashed the $30 to remove the ads for a year. I want to make this a democratic choice for the talkshop readership, so if you approve, you can make sure the site continues to be ad-free by using the donate button I’ve placed on the left at the top of the sidebar.

If enough donations come in to pay again next year, we can keep the site looking clean. Thanks for your consideration.

[Update] Thanks to the wonderful generosity of contributors to this blog, we will be able to keep it ad free not only next year, but several. Plus I will invest in some further site enhancements as they become available and in some reference material I’ve been wanting to get. Thanks to all who donated for their generosity!

Grant Foster: Mathturbation

Posted: February 27, 2011 by tallbloke in climate, flames, solar system dynamics

The censorship prone ‘Tamino’ (Grant Foster) on his blog, which I call ‘closed mind’ has a new post up which takes to task what he perceives to be ‘anti physics’ elements who think quasi-cyclic events such as the main oceanic cycles might have an effect large enough to bring into question the amount of anthropogenic greenhouse warming touted by his preferred version of the hypothesis.

Looking at the way Grant goes about torturing the data until it confesses to crimes it didn’t commit, the title of the post is a great one for a …statistician such as himself.

Yours truly gets a mention in comments from a guy named John Mashey, who says:

Some (not mashey to be sure) might think you’ve been picking up Rabett-isms 🙂

I object to the leprechaun theory, which is clearly insufficient.
That is:

Les Chevaliers de l’Ordre de le Soleil gris

Posted: February 26, 2011 by tallbloke in climate, Solar physics

Some years ago, the Team’s Raymond Pierrehumbert (raypierre) took a nasty swipe at a couple of French scientists, Courtillot and Allègre, who had written an interesting paper on solar variation, geomagnetism and global temperature. The norealcluemate article was entitled ‘Les Chevaliers de l’Ordre de la Terre Plate’, (The Knights Of the Order of the Flat Earth)

It would be fair to say that despite the sarcastic title ‘raypierre’s’ wit is ropier than rapier-like. His criticisms included an accusation of the incorrect attribution of the temperature data set used to Phil Jones, who denied all knowledge of it, despite being the originator, and the truncation of Courtillot and Allègre’s datasets at 1992, “to conceal the strength of the trend from the reader, and shorten the period in which the most glaring mismatch between solar activity and temperature occurs.”

Of course, we need hardly say this is a severe case of la casserole calling le chaudier noir, and indeed Steve McIntyre created a humorous post in relation to this soon after:

Now fast forward a few years and we see another solar paper by French scientists featured on the Team’s website, or as I jocularly refer to it ‘norealcluemate’.


Peter Taylor: Hidden History – Deep Mystery

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

I am late to this debate – which is my favourite territory, but for which I get little time ‘cos I am out there doing policy (and some science). Its all very familiar – I spent some time at Oxford in the ’70s doing some research on the linguistic anthropology of perception..initially how tribal peoples perceived environment, causality and healing (very shamanic), but then with an interest (frowned upon by my superiors) in the way anthropologists as scientists peceived themselves and eventually broadening that to how scientists in general perceived themselves. Their language gives them away.


Kate over at WUWT has spotted this gem:

An interesting exchange of emails appeared in the Independent today between their science editor Steve Conner (who has no scientific qualifications whatsoever) and Professor Freeman Dyson –

25 February 2011

Letters to a heretic: An email conversation with climate change sceptic Professor Freeman Dyson

World-renowned physicist Professor Freeman Dyson has been described as a ‘force-of-nature intellect’. He’s also one of the world’s foremost climate change sceptics. In this email exchange, our science editor, Steve Connor, asks the Princeton scholar why he’s one of the few true intellectuals to be so dismissive of the global-warming consensus

From: Steve Connor
To: Freeman Dyson

You are one of the most famous living scientists, credited as a visionary who has reshaped scientific thinking. Some have called you the “heir to Einstein”, yet you are also a “climate sceptic” who questions the consensus on global warming and its link with carbon dioxide emissions. Could we start by finding where we agree? I take it you accept for instance that carbon dioxide is a powerful greenhouse gas that warms the planet (1); that atmospheric concentrations of CO2 have risen since direct measurements began several decades ago (2); and that CO2 is almost certainly higher now than for at least the past 800,000 years (3), if you take longer records into account, such as ice-core data.

Would you also accept that CO2 levels have been increasing as a result of burning fossil fuels and that global temperatures have been rising for the past 50 years at least, and possibly for longer (4)? Computer models have shown that the increase in global temperatures can only be explained by the increase in atmospheric CO2 concentrations (5). Climate scientists say there is no other reasonable explanation for the warming they insist is happening (6), which is why we need to consider doing something about it (7). What part of this do you accept and what do you reject?

From: Freeman Dyson
To: Steve Connor

First of all, please cut out the mention of Einstein. To compare me to Einstein is silly and annoying.


Tallbloke: Ravetz, PNS and the Climate debate

Posted: February 25, 2011 by tallbloke in climate, Philosophy, Politics
tallbloke says:

David says:
February 24, 2011 at 10:37 pm
“If it may be urgent, then more resources must be put into normal science,”

More resources *were* put into normal science. But because at the time the ‘best science’ (heh!) said it was a problem with the atmosphere the money went to atmospheric science, partly because of the previous ozone hole issue the sudden expansion caused the recruitment of a lot of scientists very excited at the prospect of discovering something ‘very important for the whole of life on Earth’. Their output reflected that. This skewed the view of the summary makers, and is part of the reason the the climate question ‘went postnormal’. The politicians putting in the extra funding wanted answers ASAP and so they got them, predominantly from one branch of science, energised by a ‘big issue’. This of course produced an imbalanced answer.


The Tipping Point

Posted: February 24, 2011 by tallbloke in solar system dynamics

This is a partial repost from Climate Etc including the intro and two responses. See the original for the full monty.


"A spurious piece of nonsense built on bad data selection methods, selective data deletion and rubbish stats" -Tallbloke-

Hiding the Decline

by Judith Curry

To date, I’ve kept Climate Etc.  a “tree ring free zone,” since the issues surrounding the hockey stick are a black hole for conflict and pretty much a tar baby, IMO.  Further, paleoproxies are outside the arena of my personal research expertise, and I find my eyes glaze over when I start reading about bristlecones, etc.  However, two things this week have changed my mind, and I have decided to take on one aspect of this issue: the infamous “hide the decline.


Lisbon Reflections: A Tale of Tribes

Posted: February 22, 2011 by tallbloke in solar system dynamics
Romanes Ite Domum

Courtesy of


I still haven’t fully formed my thoughts about Lisbon in the wider context yet, but thought I ought to express something about my current take on things. On Judy Curry’s blog earlier this evening I came across a comment on a Lisbon thread by Werner Krauss. Werner attended with Hans von Storch, who several times characterised the various groups of skeptics as the tribes. At one point this irked me a bit, so I told him that if the mainstream wanted to characterise the sceptics as ‘the tribes’, we would characterise the mainstream as ‘The Roman Imperium’. He didn’t see the funny side of this, so I thought a cartoon by Josh might help. 🙂

Anyway, here is Werner’s comment and my reply:

In desperation I asked Fermi whether he was not impressed by the agreement between our calculated numbers and his measured numbers. He replied, “How many arbitrary parameters did you use for your calculations?” I thought for a moment about our cut-off procedures and said, “Four.” He said, “I remember my friend Johnny von Neumann used to say, with four parameters I can fit an elephant, and with five I can make him wiggle his trunk”.

So said Freeman Dyson, one of the brighter stars in the physics firmament. When we try to understand the star which supplies all the energy Earth needs to maintain life on its surface, we have a problem. The problem is it keeps surprising us with its unpredictable changes in activity levels. It’s doing this at the moment in solar cycle 24. The top solar physics institutions made various predictions about the timing of the start of the cycle, and how high the ampliitude would be. They’ve been proved very wrong. A couple of individual solar physicists did predict a low solar cycle (low for the modern era anyway), including Leif Svalgaard, who predicted a max monthly sunspot number of around 70 for this cycle back in 2004. Leif based his prediction on phenomenological observation of the solar polar field strength, which has been diminishing for a long time now. Even this is looking a bit high at the moment though. I predicted 35-50 SSN in 2008 based on a planetary method.

In this post, we take a cycles analysis approach to looking at solar activity since 1600. Regular contributor Tim Channon has done work in the past in acoustics, and as part of his toolbox, he developed some software which uses clever techniques to break down complex sound envelopes into underlying frequencies and amplitudes. For fun and interest, we fed it with the Lean 2000 TSI reconstruction data to see what would happen. The result is shown in the graph below the break.

Miles Mathis: Democracy in Science

Posted: February 20, 2011 by tallbloke in Philosophy, Politics



by Miles Mathis


In my 158 science papers to date, I have talked a lot about the physical and mathematical problems of the 20th century, but I haven’t yet addressed a political problem that underlies them all. That problem is the intrusion of democracy into science. I will have nothing to say about democracy as a theory of government: I will stick to the point and talk only about democracy as it affects science. Many will take this as an opportunity to attack me as an aristocrat or to tar me with with some other unsavory term of modern abuse, but they might as well not bother. They would be better off reading the paper before them than attacking me for a paper I did not write.

First of all, I will state something that should be obvious: science is not government. Yes, we have administration in science, which could be called a sort of government, but science itself is not the administration of science. Science is one thing and administration of science is another thing. That being true, we should also see that science, as science, is not “democratic.” Or, to be more rigorous, it is not egalitarian. No, it is hierarchical. The entire history of science is proof of that. The history of science is a history of great individual thinkers, of Archimedes and Leonardo and Galileo and Kepler and Newton and Einstein. It is not a history of committees and peer groups. Galileo did not succeed by a vote. Newton did nothing with the authority of a majority. Just the reverse. All these great people did what they did against the majorities of their times. You only have to study their lives to see that, in science and other hierarchies, the majority is always wrong. In both society and in science, the majority is always staunchly arrayed against anything new. They always were and they still are.


U.S. Republicans Vote to Defund EPA

Posted: February 19, 2011 by tallbloke in climate, Politics

Image courtesy of

The backlash continues. The U.S. House of Representatives has voted to cut the EPA’s funding, with specific reference to carbon dioxide emission regulation. Story here:

Dr Alan Carlin whose critical report on the AGW hypothesis was gagged by the EPA will be having a wry smile about all this.

Republican Ted Poe said:

“I am pleased that my colleagues in the House have chosen to put a stop to the back-door attempts by the administration to bypass Congress and circumvent the will of the American people…..The era of EPA overstepping its authority by imposing over-burdensome and unnecessary regulations at the expense of American businesses is over.”


10Be is an isotope of the element Beryllium. Scientists think that its concentration in ice cores is indicative of past solar activity and hence climate.
The Fujidome ice cores have been examined for their 10Be content for the period 700AD to 1900AD. The data is available from NOAA here.

Tim has been developing software which analyses signals. Originally he was developing this for audio/acoustic work, but has found that interesting results can be obtained when the code is fed with climatic datasets. Tim wishes to stress that the output is a tentative attempt at reconstruction and should not be taken as forming a strong claim to validity. However, we feel it worth ‘putting out there’ as it does seem to be consistent with other paleo reconstructions of past climate.

See the graph which extrapolates the Fujidome 10Be record below the break.

U.S. Republicans Vote To Defund IPCC

Posted: February 19, 2011 by tallbloke in climate, Politics

Image courtesy of

Reposted from the The Global Warming Policy Foundation

Saturday, 19 February 2011 06:40 Josiah Ryan, The Hill
Republicans put forth an amendment late Friday night that would remove American funding for a prominent intergovernmental body tasked with exploring the effects of climate change.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) drew a firestorm of criticism in 2009 when a hacker revealed a series of emails among some of the organization’s scientists that suggested they had suppressed dissenting work and excluded it from a 2002 panel report.

News travels slowly to this corner of Yorkshire, and anyway, I don’t frequent the blog in question, but I thought it worth posting this up for the record:

The many existing critiques of peer review as a system (for instance by Richard Smith, ex-editor of the BMJ, or here, or in the British Academy report), sometimes appear to assume that all papers arrive at the journals fully formed and appropriately written. They don’t. The mere existence of the peer review system elevates the quality of submissions, regardless of who the peer reviewers are or what their biases might be. The evidence for this is in precisely what happens in venues like E&E that have effectively dispensed with substantive peer review for any papers that follow the editor’s (Dr Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen) political line – you end up with a backwater of poorly presented and incoherent contributions that make no impact on the mainstream scientific literature or conversation. It simply isn’t worth wading through the dross in the hope of finding something interesting

Interesting. Once again, just as with the declined Lisbon invite, Gavin projects political motives onto those he disapproves of.

My Thanks once again to Roger Andrews for making the effort to follow up on some of the ideas presented on this blog and address interesting issues concerning solar activity levels and Sea Surface Temperatures (SST’s). In Part I we looked at comparisons of cumulative and instantaneous Total Solar Insolation (TSI) with SST and possible spaces into which other climate factors such as co2 might fit.

In this post, Roger picks up on comment from contributor David about one of the diagrams in the SST analysis pdf which accompanied Part I.



In the previous thread on this topic I referred to a graph that showed a cyclic relationship between SSTsand surface air temperatures, but it was buried deep in an attachment, and only a few people (notablyDavid) seem to have seen it. Nevertheless, it shows some very interesting features, so here it is again:


Deep-sea vents discovered in the chilly Southern Ocean

Posted: February 16, 2011 by tallbloke in Energy

Scientists aboard the Royal Research Ship James Cook, including Dr Clare Woulds from the University of Leeds, have discovered a new set of deep-sea volcanic vents in the chilly Southern Ocean.

The discovery is the fourth made by the research team in three years, which suggests that deep-sea vents may be more common in our oceans than previously thought.

Using an underwater camera system, the researchers saw slender mineral spires three metres tall, with shimmering hot water gushing from their peaks, and gossamer-like white mats of bacteria coating their sides.

The vents are at a depth of 520 metres in a newly-discovered seafloor crater close to the South Sandwich Islands, a remote group of islands around 500 kilometres south-east of South Georgia.

“I was sitting in my cabin after dinner when a colleague rushed in to tell me that we’d found a new vent – it was what we had been waiting for all cruise,” said Dr Woulds, from the University of Leeds School of Geography, who has been blogging from the research trip.

Mike Hulme: Expertise and the IPCC

Posted: February 15, 2011 by tallbloke in Philosophy

In an interview a few days ago conducted by Souvik Mukherjee and Josi Paz of the journal Theory, Culture & Society published on their website , Mike Hulme, Professor of Climate Change in the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia had this to say:

I think there is a problem in contemporary society about people’s expectations of ‘the expert’. People are ambivalent in that on the one hand they want to defer to expertise that they trust in, and yet they find it increasingly hard to gain or retain the necessary levels of trust. This is a cultural phenomenon of the West (and maybe elsewhere, I don’t know) which applies to more than just science. It is fuelled by new flows and accretions of ‘knowledge’ through social media and through the unsettling of some of the grand-narratives of the past. Scientific knowledge is still too readily placed on a pedestal as though it were the only way to find meaningful knowledge about the world, and since science is presented as possessing high cultural authority by the elite, in a sceptical age people then find it easy to knock such knowledge off its self-proclaimed pedestal. The IPCC is implicated here. It is a one-size fits all process for establishing public knowledge around climate change and yet it is a monolithic and closed process of knowledge-making. As people like Mark Brown and Andy Stirling have argued, we need plural and conditional knowledge emerging from multiple sites and processes of knowledge production to engage with a plural and diverse polity so that the fruits of democratic modes of political representation can be realised. The IPCC is too hegemonic around climate change knowledge.

Interesting stuff. So, is this an increasing woollification of the AGW message, absolving it from the need for real science from an august institution to back it up, or a recognition that the IPCC has outlived its viability as an organ of truth/propaganda? Or both? Is Hulme devolving the responsibility for spreading the word about climate change and it consequences to special interest groups and local councils?

Whichever, talk of ‘solid science’ seems to have evaporated from Mike’s lexicon. In his 2007 Guardian piece he seemed more certain:

Increasing the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere warms the planet and sets in motion changes to the way the weather is delivered to us, wherever we are. Science has worked hard over a hundred years to establish this knowledge.

How times change.

NOAA Satellite GOES West?

Posted: February 14, 2011 by tallbloke in solar system dynamics

Vukcevic notes the magnetogram from the GOES W135 satellite doesn’t look too healthy, and comments:

It looks it blew-up around 9.30 pm this evening, by last night’s solar flare which reached it around 3pm today.

Here’s hoping this is a temporary glitch…

Josh wishes you a Happy Valentine’s Day

Posted: February 14, 2011 by tallbloke in solar system dynamics

You're a bad man Josh. Bad, Bad! LoL.

This is a draft by Judith Curry of section 2 of her paper she is writing for a special adition of ‘Climate Change’. The heading for the other sections are:

Reasoning About Climate Uncertainty

1.  Introduction

2. Framing of the climate change problem

3.  Uncertainty, ambiguity, indeterminancy, and ignorance

4.  Consensus, disagreement and justification

5.  Reasoning about uncertainty

6.  Conclusions



2: Framing of the climate change problem

An underappreciated aspect of uncertainty in climate change is associated with the questions that do not even get asked because of the way that the climate change problem has been framed. Frames are organizing principles that enable a particular interpretation of a phenomenon (e.g. de Boerg et al. 2010). De Boerg et al. (2010) state that: “Frames act as organizing principles that shape in a “hidden” and taken-for-granted way how people conceptualize an issue.” Risbey et al. 2005 state that decisions on problem framing influence the choice of models and what knowledge is considered relevant to include in the analysis. De Boerg et al. (2010) further state that frames can express how a problem is stated, who is expected to make a statement about it, what questions are relevant, and what range of answers might be appropriate.