Monday, February 02, 2009

Snow Latest

After a brief skirmish, the British Army surrenders to a platoon of Swiss soldiers driving Citroen 2CVs with snow tyres.
The staff having failing to turn up for work because of incapacity due to shock at the sight of 'millions of white things falling from the sky', the entire National Gallery collection is stolen by a couple of Norwegians on skis.
The Swedish chef takes over Gordon Ramsey's show.
Canadian paratroopers seize Godalming.
Assorted Russian tourists, builders, hoodlums and oligarchs occupy all London pubs - no change there then.
More snow news to come.


  1. Clearly the treacherous weather has prevented you commenting but I did rather expect something from my regular Greenlander readers.

  2. Type it in drunken Danish, the replies will flood in, courtesy of the melting icecap.

    Australian heatwave, 3908 English schools have to close because of safety concerns.

  3. We're waiting for the 'more snow news to come' to come before delivering final judgement.

  4. Blimey, it is quiet here today. Everyone's snowed in so they can't comment instead of pretending to work.

    Look, did I ever tell you about that incident in the public shower? Kills a few minutes.

  5. I hate to be a bore about climate change. No wait, that can't be true. I've been a bore about climate change for so long now.

    It started around 1992 when I had lunch with a veteran RTZ geologist in a Bristol cafe, with fellow, pretty intimidating explorationists, each with a couple of PhDs, discussing the computerisation of their complex endeavours. The man was furious even then - about James Hansen, about Rio, about Mount St Helens having spewed out so much CO2 it was all ridiculous. He was an out-of-control climate change bore and in my heart I said "When I grow up, I want to be like you." (I tried to track him down around 2000 and was given a possible lead from the Rio Tinto Bristol office. When I called the number a woman answered. I asked "Is your husband er, a bit concerned about the whole global warming thing?" She said with emphasis "That's him.")

    But the climate of opinion on anthropogenic global warming (AGW), just like the weather in the UK and Oz, is now in such a state of flux that I think it should be interesting to anyone of a curious or intellectual bent. Here are three examples from the last week:

    Vaclav Klaus does a briefing at Davos. Embarrassingly the hero of resistance to a previous tyranny is now president of the Czech Republic, which holds the presidency of the EU, and a fervent AGW denier, emphasizing the grave dangers for the freedom of all of us if the global 'mitigators' get their way. That's not new (though I guess it may be to some readers). What I thought interesting were these two quite different reports of the same session - from AFP/Google and Jay Nordlinger in blog mode. It's not surprising Nordlinger applauds Klaus (while admitting others on his magazine disagree) but I found the AFP report well, teetering somewhat, not sure how to handle it. You decide.

    Second, Chris Booker gets angry about AGW again yesterday. No surprises there. But I found this paragraph particularly curious: It was typical that, when that plastic polar bear was floated up the Thames last week, the BBC's favourite naturalist, Sir David Attenborough, should be wheeled on to claim that, although he once been a "sceptic" on global warming (a fact we had all somehow missed), he now found the "science" entirely convincing.

    But, though I agree he was pretty quiet about his prior scepticism, I was hugely aware of that change of heart by Attenborough. For up to that point Simon Jenkins had been a delightful, almost combustible sceptic about all manner of projected disasters, including the AGW scare. But when Sir David fell into line Sir Simon felt he had to too. So there is that trend, of wise, older guys admitting the game's up, fair cop, it has to be true, it must be truly dangerous this time, we must, reluctantly, do something.

    But the flow - whether of icebergs, polar bears or ideas - is far from one way. Another oldie much closer to the action, John Theon, now says “Add my name to those who disagree that global warming is man made.” What makes that particularly striking is that Theon pretty much supervised James Hansen at NASA. OK, that's being disputed all over the blogosphere whether supervise is precisely the right term - which is just as it should be. What really matters is how this NASA expert is now willing to go on the record about climate models:

    Climate models are useless ... My own belief concerning anthropogenic climate change is that the models do not realistically simulate the climate system because there are many very important sub-grid scale processes that the models either replicate poorly or completely omit ... Furthermore, some scientists have manipulated the observed data to justify their model results. In doing so, they neither explain what they have modified in the observations, nor explain how they did it. They have resisted making their work transparent so that it can be replicated independently by other scientists. This is clearly contrary to how science should be done. Thus there is no rational justification for using climate model forecasts to determine public policy.

    My thoughts entirely. And very striking that Theon now feels able to go public with them. If the way he's predicting the flow of opinion is going prevails the credibility of all modern 'science' is about to take an huge global bashing. Or should that be the ignorance and credulity of the modern mass media? Somehow I doubt it will be reported that way.

  6. I told you last week balaclavas not girlie men scarves is what you need for winter 2009.

  7. Perhaps the gulf stream is finally shutting off.

  8. You may mock, Bryan, but this snow has an insidious and unusual quality that makes it all the more deadly than plain ordinary snow. That is: it's the kind of snow that has fallen in London and has therefore been noticed by most national news editors...

    Up here, it also snowed, but we just did the usual sort of things to get by, like wearing a coat and gritting the streets (I guess that's what they mean by Northern grit...). Strange how effective these folk remedies can be.

    However, this winter weather has shed light on two recent issues.

    Firstly, it appears Christian and atheist buses were equally affected...

    Secondly, this has to damage the argument for a third runway at Heathrow. Given that they can't keep two clear of snow, another is clearly too much for them.

  9. To all who are using a little snow as proof that global warming does not exist, please learn the difference between weather and climate.

  10. Just to clear up Dr. Theon...

    Dr. Theon retired from NASA in 1994 and any knowledge he has on global warming dates from that period. he never had supervisory responsibility over Dr. Hansen. Dr. Theon's note states that he never had any true supervisory responsibility for Dr. Hansen. He claims that he was some kind of "in effect" supervisor even though he never had any responsibility for evaluating any of Hansen's work.

  11. I made clear that there was an active debate on the nature of the Theon's supervision. He seems to have clarified both points himself pretty well:

    As Chief of several NASA Hq. Programs (1982-94), an SES position, I was responsible for all weather and climate research in the entire agency, including the research work by James Hansen, Roy Spencer, Joanne Simpson, and several hundred other scientists at NASA field centers, in academia, and in the private sector who worked on climate research. This required a thorough understanding of the state of the science. I have kept up with climate science since retiring by reading books and journal articles. I hope that this is helpful.

    If you know your climate science you know the names mentioned, Hansen, Spencer and Simpson, are all considered top rank. Only two of the three are sceptics. Theon makes it 75%. And I'm sure you'll say it's an inadequate sample. But remember that we've been fed the idea, very strongly, from the likes of Al Gore, that the 'science is settled'. No way, with people of this calibre having significant misgivings.

    But I also think it's outrageous ageism to say that someone with Theon's CV cannot follow the latest wheezes of the current crop of younger researchers, who have only known 'climate science' since George Bush Snr, directly because of Hansen's testimony to the Senate in 1988, turned the budget taps up to around $2bn per annum from a few hundred million. That meant quick expansion not just of research but of researchers, many coming into the field for the first time. Were they all as good as those who had known harder times, who had worked their way up the ranks with less hype or need for doom-laden 'results' to maintain existing budgets?

    I cannot prove it to you. But I very much doubt that quality was maintained, just looking at the funding change. When one actually looks at the detail, well, I have been appalled, just as Michael Crichton was on doing the research for State of Fear, coming as he was from the much more mature - and ethical - scientific discipline of medicine. Even the three minute excerpt with Kirsty re-released by Newsnight on his death makes the point very well.