Naughty Fiona

It may seem pedantic and unsisterly to have to point it out, but despite her usual high and good level of correctness, Financial Times journalist Fiona Harvey seems to have stumbled in yet more lurid green swamp mire, and quoted “ogres” once again :-

“Climate change: Lingering clouds : By Fiona Harvey : Published: August 29 2010…”

Most of us really do not want to know the opinions of Benny Peiser of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (and his collaborator Nigel Lawson), because neither of them are expert in the field of Global Warming, only, apparently, Glib Warring.

And again, most of us are really not partial to the views of Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, who seems to think there’s nothing wrong in releasing large amounts of Carbon Dioxide into the Atmosphere, even though the last times this happened in Earth history, entirely naturally due to extensive magma eruptions due to super-violent Tectonic plate movement, it ended in global megadeath.

Let’s look a little more in detail at what “princess” Fiona is saying :-

“Floods in Pakistan have left millions homeless and at least one-fifth of the country inundated…”

This was widely cited as “according to an estimate by the United Nations”, as quoted by Ban Ki-Moon, United Nations Secretary General, but originally came from the Pakistan National Disaster Management Authority, allegedly, although I haven’t quite gotten to the bottom of this.

Not really sure about that “fifth of Pakistan” thing, although this disaster is extremely serious and potentially very deadly. Other views :-

Fiona Harvey continues with : “The extreme weather of 2010 is likely to be remembered in these regions for many years to come. There as well as in the rest of the world, the broader question is whether, as climate scientists predict, this type of weather is set to become more common – and how certain we can be about that.”

In talking about probabilities for the future, scientists do not “predict”, they “project”. It is not possible to “predict” how the world will use Fossil Fuels, for example – that could change according to regulation, Peak Oil and economic forces, so Global Warming calculations can only be “projections”.

“This has been an unusual year – the warmest January-June period on record around the world, and the driest on record in some regions. But however extreme, the events of one year cannot be taken as proof of climate change. Natural variability brings periodic extreme floods, droughts and heatwaves around the world, and it takes years of data to distinguish this from any underlying trend.”

The question should really be : exactly how unusual is this year, this event ? Natural variability could be expected to be a bell-shaped curve of probabilities of any one severity of event – and the probability of an extreme event would be very, very low. How many seriously extreme events would one need to experience to know one has rolled a 13, or even a 14, instead of a 12 with two dice ? :-

Ms Harvey types : “For it has also been a year in which the science of global warming has been questioned as never before.”

Questioned ? By anybody whose view actually matters ?

“On Monday, climate research will come under the microscope again. A panel of the world’s most august scientific bodies will pass judgment on climate science…”

Err, no, the InterAcademy Council has not “pass[ed] judgement on climate science.” To be more accurate, I feel, you’d need to say something like, “A panel of the world’s most august scientific bodies [the InterAcademy Council] will publish opinion about the management of another august scientific body [the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)] which does climate science review.”

Note well : the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) does not do science – it synthesises other peoples’ research. Although I have to grant you that some of the researchers are involved as reviewers in the IPCC collective processing of all the Science.

“The “hockey stick” graph reproduced in the 2001 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has long been derided by sceptics.”

Just because the sceptics and deniers have claimed that the Hockey Stick is invalid, does not mean that it has actually been invalidated.

“Tree ring data were a source of controversy in the University of East Anglia’s “climategate” e-mails.”

No. “Tree ring data were a source of controversy” only for those who allegedly stole the University of East Anglia e-mails and are accused of having invented a malicious narrative about what the e-mails meant.

Climate Change Scientists don’t obsess about tree ring data. There are much better sources of information in ocean and lake sediments. It’s the sceptic-deniers who harp on and on and on about tree rings.

“In a subsequent investigation, Britain’s leading statistician judged the graph flawed, though he added that better methods would not have drastically altered the pattern.”

I know it’s tempting to say things like “leading statistician”, implying that nobody else could possibly comment, but seriously, Fiona, in this case there is a range of valid views about the matter, including those who composed the Hockey Stick graph :-

“‘Hockey stick’ graph was exaggerated : The ‘hockey stick’ that became emblematic of the threat posed by climate change exaggerated the rise in temperature because it was created using ‘inappropriate’ methods, according to the head of the Royal Statistical Society. By Louise Gray, Environment Correspondent : Published: 14 Apr 2010 : Comment : Professor David Hand said that the research – led by US scientist Michael Mann – would have shown less dramatic results if more reliable techniques had been used to analyse the data. Prof Hand was among a group of experts charged with investigating the “climategate” email scandal that engulfed the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU) last year…He said the graph, that showed global temperature records going back 1,000 years, was exaggerated – although any reproduction using improved techniques is likely to also show a sharp rise in global warming. He agreed the graph would be more like a field hockey stick than the ice hockey blade it was originally compared to…”

“Global warming graph attacked by study : By Fiona Harvey, Environment Correspondent : Published: April 14 2010 : A key piece of evidence in climate change science was slammed as “exaggerated” on Wednesday by the UK’s leading statistician, in a vindication of claims that global warming sceptics have been making for years. Professor David Hand, president of the Royal Statistical Society, said that a graph shaped like an ice hockey stick that has been used to represent the recent rise in global temperatures had been compiled using “inappropriate” methods. “It used a particular statistical technique that exaggerated the effect [of recent warming],” he said. The criticism came as part of a report published on Wednesday that found the scientists behind the “Climategate” e-mail scandal had behaved “honestly and fairly” and showed “no evidence of any deliberate scientific malpractice”…”

“…[Ron] Oxburgh singled out a graph of global temperature used in a 1999 report for the World Meteorological Association, which spliced three different data sets, as an “unfortunate representation of a very complex piece of science”…[Professor] Hand re-ignited a long-standing row about a high-profile study published in 1998 by scientists led by Michael Mann at Penn State University, US. The paper featured an emblematic graph known as the “hockey-stick” that showed temperature rise in the twentieth century was unprecedented in recent history. Hand said the study gave him an “uneasy feeling” because it used “inappropriate statistical tools”. The hockey-stick effect was genuine, Hand said, but the 1998 paper exaggerated it. He praised Steve McIntyre, a Canadian climate blogger who led much of the criticism of the CRU scientists, for identifying the problem. Mann told the Guardian that the 1998 study had been approved by the US National Academy of Science and Hand had offered a “rogue opinion” that “should not be given much attention or credence”…”

Fiona Harvey then states, “Sir John Beddington, the UK government’s chief scientific adviser, tackled the issue of uncertainties head-on when launching a new climate website last month.”

I am assuming our “green fairy princess” refers to the new Four Degrees website, which layers Climate Change impacts onto Google Earth.

She must surely admit that the rise in global and regional temperatures would have to be very steep in order to reach these levels ?

Let’s start telling the truth, please – whatever the shape of the “Hockey Stick” blade, the Earth is warming sharply, and the rise is increasing, as evidenced in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report. An exponential rise in temperature, due to the exponential rise in concentrations of Greenhouse Gases in the Atmosphere is the key problem here :-
Table 3.2

(Press Conference pix :

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