A tale of two oil companies...

One good and one evil? Maybe. But neither of them is Exxon.

If you've been reading the Economist recently, you'll find a 2-page advert from a nice chap who signs himself "Dave". But the letter head tells you he is really David J O'Reilly, CEO of Chevron. And he invites you to go to willyoujoinus.com. The headline is "It took us 125 years to use the first trillion barrels of oil. We'll use the next trillion in 30. So why should you care?". With my biases, I naturally assumed this was some pinko-leftist environmental type message. But... no. Reading the text (find the ad itself here though it crashes my acrobat 5.0) it says "Energy will be one of the defining issues of this century, and one thing is clear: the era of easy oil is over... Energy demand is soaring as never before and driving economic growth. And improved standards of living are requiring increasing amounts of energy... Many of the world’s oil and gas fields are maturing. And new energy discoveries are mainly occurring in places where resources are difficult to extract—physically, technically, economically, and politically. When growing demand meets tighter supplies, the result is more competition for the same resources... We can wait until a crisis forces us to do something. Or we can commit to working together, and start by asking the tough questions: How do we meet the energy needs of the developing world and those of industrialized nations? What role will renewables and alternative energies play? What is the best way to protect our environment? How do we accelerate our conservation efforts? Whatever actions we take, we must look not just to next year, but to the next 50 years...." and so on.

No mention of climate change, global warming, anything like that (just a v brief mention of "environment" and no more). It looks rather more to me like they are trying to excuse the current high price of oil more than anything else.

Searching for "climate change" on the Chevron website I found Chevron's Four-Fold Action Plan to Address Global Climate Change (ah, the four-fold way, glasshopper...) which "Support[s] flexible and economically sound policies and mechanisms that protect the environment... The use of fossil fuels to meet the world's energy needs has contributed to an increase in greenhouse gases (GHGs) -- mainly carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane -- in the Earth's atmosphere. There is a widespread view that this increase is leading to climate change, with adverse effects on the environment." This is fair enough (you wouldn't get Bush saying that) though a bit weak, and rather more importantly its buried.

My interpretation of the ad, then, is "yes we know that gas prices for your grossly inefficient SUV are going through the roof. But don't blame us". So they are the evil one.

BP has also been advertising in the Economist. They are keen to push their enviro qualities and have even taking to calling themselves "beyond petroleum". Some of this is just PR gloss: they're still in the business of selling fuel for people to burn, no matter that they're reduced their own emissions by 9%. they say: "One of the great challenges facing mankind is the increasing temperature of the planet. This increase is believed to be associated with the production and consumption of carbon based fuels – coal, oil and gas – which all increase levels of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere". But, they get marks for the PR. And they are even prepared to say "Based on current scientific opinion, we believe that it’s realistic to promote actions designed to stabilize carbon dioxide concentrations at around 500-550 parts per million, consistent with limiting global temperature rise to around 2°C". Which is a hard target to hit... I wonder if they are serious? Quite possibly... they have a list of policy options there. They link to an greenhouse effect animation from the Science Museum - so they score points for accepting the scientific view; they also get points for not comparing it to a greenhouse. OTOH they (or perhaps the science museum) loses points for implying that the GHE is caused my multiple reflections from the sfc to the top of the atmosphere. But maybe thats hoping for too much.

They even have a section on "Supporting Research". Woo-hoo! Looks good. Free money for cliamte research?!? Sadly no... a bit more applied: "We support the search for lower carbon energy alternatives and solutions to climate change. We sponsor research activities at leading universities around the world".

Despite that last one, I'll assign them to the "good" category for now :-)

ps: Chevron invite you to join their "discussion". However, with wacko postings like this:

...already provided the new science which makes a reality of unlimited free energy from the vacuum of the universe. The entire planet can be powered electrically without burning fuel of any sort. The underlying principles have already been demonstrated by the creation of more than a dozen types of successful hardware. I understand the Chinese are aware of the underlying science, but I certainly hope the United States will provide the solution first. I find your unique approach to problem solving exciting. I realize that free energy may work against your present source of revenue, but the full deployment of free energy will take a long time and there is plenty of money to be made with free energy to replace your present revenue.

is there any point joining in? Even sci.env tends to be less wacky than that!


Woo-hoo MSU

Getting a bit desperate with the titles. My last post said the vn5.2 had gone again. For those who want to download the vn5.2 MSU, it seems to be at ftp://ghrc.nsstc.nasa.gov/pub/data/msu/t2lt/. It appears to be identical (says "diff") to the stuff I downloaded before (which is actually a teensy bit curious, because I had to strip off a small amount of header info before, and don't seem to need to now. Hey ho).

Is this a site that S+C have forgotten they uploaded stuff to? If so, it will be interesting to find out if they read this blog, because if it suddenly disappears, they do...

BTW, if you're interested in poking around in the history of a site, then you want the Internet Archive: http://web.archive.org/web/*/http://vortex.nsstc.uah.edu/.

Just to be sure, for those following the details, here is the directory listing, as of now (apologies to planets and so on):

Index of ftp://ghrc.nsstc.nasa.gov/pub/data/msu/t2lt/
Up to higher level directory
File: msu_dPRT_2.dat 8416 KB 2005-06-14 17:46:00
File: msudrift_2.dat 269 KB 2005-06-14 17:46:00
File: msudrift_2LT_fit.dat 1296 KB 2005-06-14 17:47:00
File: readme.20Aug2004 15 KB 2004-09-09 00:00:00
File: tltN06N07z5.1 420 KB 2005-06-14 17:47:00
File: tltN06N09z5.1 233 KB 2005-06-14 17:47:00
File: tltN07N08z5.1 263 KB 2005-06-14 17:47:00
File: tltN09N10z5.1 70 KB 2005-06-14 17:47:00
File: tltN10N11z5.1 685 KB 2005-06-14 17:47:00
File: tltN11N12z5.1 698 KB 2005-06-14 17:47:00
File: tltN12N14z5.1 911 KB 2005-06-14 17:47:00
File: tltN14N15z5.1 753 KB 2005-06-14 17:47:00
File: tltN15N16z5.1 643 KB 2005-06-14 17:47:00
File: tltTSNN06z5.1 120 KB 2005-06-14 17:47:00
File: tltday_5.1 340 KB 2005-06-14 17:47:00
File: tltdayac7998_5.1 16 KB 2005-06-14 17:47:00
File: tltdayacz7998_5.1 137 KB 2005-06-14 17:47:00
File: tltdayamz_5.1 3549 KB 2005-06-14 17:47:00
File: tltglhmam_5.1 25 KB 2005-06-14 17:47:00
File: tltmonacg_5.1 616 KB 2005-06-14 17:47:00
File: tltmonamg.1978_5.1 52 KB 2005-06-14 17:47:00
File: tltmonamg.1978_5.2 52 KB 2005-06-30 19:37:00
File: tltmonamg.1979_5.1 616 KB 2005-06-14 17:47:00
File: tltmonamg.1979_5.2 616 KB 2005-06-30 19:37:00
File: tltmonamg.1980_5.1 616 KB 2005-06-14 17:47:00
File: tltmonamg.1980_5.2 616 KB 2005-06-30 19:37:00
File: tltmonamg.1981_5.1 616 KB 2005-06-14 17:47:00
File: tltmonamg.1981_5.2 616 KB 2005-06-30 19:37:00
File: tltmonamg.1982_5.1 616 KB 2005-06-14 17:47:00
File: tltmonamg.1982_5.2 616 KB 2005-06-30 19:37:00
File: tltmonamg.1983_5.1 616 KB 2005-06-14 17:47:00
File: tltmonamg.1983_5.2 616 KB 2005-06-30 19:37:00
File: tltmonamg.1984_5.1 616 KB 2005-06-14 17:47:00
File: tltmonamg.1984_5.2 616 KB 2005-06-30 19:37:00
File: tltmonamg.1985_5.1 616 KB 2005-06-14 17:47:00
File: tltmonamg.1985_5.2 616 KB 2005-06-30 19:37:00
File: tltmonamg.1986_5.1 616 KB 2005-06-14 17:47:00
File: tltmonamg.1986_5.2 616 KB 2005-06-30 19:37:00
File: tltmonamg.1987_5.1 616 KB 2005-06-14 17:47:00
File: tltmonamg.1987_5.2 616 KB 2005-06-30 19:37:00
File: tltmonamg.1988_5.1 616 KB 2005-06-14 17:47:00
File: tltmonamg.1988_5.2 616 KB 2005-06-30 19:37:00
File: tltmonamg.1989_5.1 616 KB 2005-06-14 17:47:00
File: tltmonamg.1989_5.2 616 KB 2005-06-30 19:37:00
File: tltmonamg.1990_5.1 616 KB 2005-06-14 17:47:00
File: tltmonamg.1990_5.2 616 KB 2005-06-30 19:37:00
File: tltmonamg.1991_5.1 616 KB 2005-06-14 17:47:00
File: tltmonamg.1991_5.2 616 KB 2005-06-30 19:37:00
File: tltmonamg.1992_5.1 616 KB 2005-06-14 17:47:00
File: tltmonamg.1992_5.2 616 KB 2005-06-30 19:37:00
File: tltmonamg.1993_5.1 616 KB 2005-06-14 17:47:00
File: tltmonamg.1993_5.2 616 KB 2005-06-30 19:37:00
File: tltmonamg.1994_5.1 616 KB 2005-06-14 17:47:00
File: tltmonamg.1994_5.2 616 KB 2005-06-30 19:37:00
File: tltmonamg.1995_5.1 616 KB 2005-06-14 17:47:00
File: tltmonamg.1995_5.2 616 KB 2005-06-30 19:37:00
File: tltmonamg.1996_5.1 616 KB 2005-06-14 17:47:00
File: tltmonamg.1996_5.2 616 KB 2005-06-30 19:37:00
File: tltmonamg.1997_5.1 616 KB 2005-06-14 17:47:00
File: tltmonamg.1997_5.2 616 KB 2005-06-30 19:37:00
File: tltmonamg.1998_5.1 616 KB 2005-06-14 17:47:00
File: tltmonamg.1998_5.2 616 KB 2005-06-30 19:37:00
File: tltmonamg.1999_5.1 616 KB 2005-06-14 17:47:00
File: tltmonamg.1999_5.2 616 KB 2005-06-30 19:37:00
File: tltmonamg.2000_5.1 616 KB 2005-06-14 17:47:00
File: tltmonamg.2000_5.2 616 KB 2005-06-30 19:37:00
File: tltmonamg.2001_5.1 616 KB 2005-06-14 17:47:00
File: tltmonamg.2001_5.2 616 KB 2005-06-30 19:37:00
File: tltmonamg.2002_5.1 616 KB 2005-06-14 17:47:00
File: tltmonamg.2002_5.2 616 KB 2005-06-30 19:37:00
File: tltmonamg.2003_5.1 616 KB 2005-06-14 17:47:00
File: tltmonamg.2003_5.2 616 KB 2005-06-30 19:37:00
File: tltmonamg.2004_5.1 616 KB 2005-06-14 17:47:00
File: tltmonamg.2004_5.2 616 KB 2005-06-30 19:37:00
File: tltmonamg.2005_5.1 206 KB 2005-06-14 17:47:00
File: tltmonamg.2005_5.2 257 KB 2005-06-30 19:37:00
File: uahncdc.lt 50 KB 2005-06-14 17:47:00
File: usa48_LT.dat 4 KB 2005-06-14 17:47:00

MSU ping-pong. Or Yo-yo. Or some word denoting here-and-then-not-here.

What the f*ck are Spencer and Christy up to? First they put up vn5.2 MSU data, then they take it down again (the May and Jun maps have the multi-year trend on, so we know they have processed all the years. And anyway, we know they processed all the years because they put up the monthly data in early July, and I downloaded it, then they removed it again).

And last night, the amusingly-named "Atheist4bush" posted to sci.env:

Athiest 4 Bush                        at Close Enough for Government Work

Subject: They're ba-aack.

Newsgroups: sci.environment,alt.global-warming

UAH MSU TLT 5.2 that is:


WMC will you re-run your analysis?

You see, I have a reputation... [BTW, I faked in the subject line for clarity, the rest is accurate]. Leaving aside the question of just how A4B knew it (does he watch their site every day? Possible) I went and looked and sure enough, the vn5.2 data was there. Fine, I thought, I'll download it tomorrow, see if its the same as the last vn5.2. So today I look... and... its gone! Its almost but not quite enough to make me mail S+C and ask what is going on: but I won't, because its more fun writing annoyed posts :-)

Amusingly enough, you can tell that something was there-and-then-not-there, because of the timestamp on the directory itself (http://www.nsstc.uah.edu/public/msu/ - yes I know its not quite the same, I think they are all softlinked):

t2/ 30-Jun-2005 07:20 -
t2lt/ 27-Jul-2005 08:04 -
t4/ 30-Jun-2005 13:12 -

OTOH there is a file called MSU.tgz in there with a datestamp of 24 July. I wonder whats in it? Its 48M... perhaps it just a trap to waste bandwidth! I'm going to download it and see... be right back... Boooooooorrriiinggggg... its just a tar of the directory tree on the 24th, without the vn5.2 data.

[I've just noticed something a bit odd... the /public/msu/t2 dir has a datestamp of 30-Jun, but contains files with datestamps of 12-Jul-2005. Odd. I though a new file updated the dir timestamp. But my *nix may be a bit ropey on that. Anyone?]


Harry Potter and the Polar Amplification of Global Warming

Yes at last some science again. The title is a forlorn attempt to draw in hordes of eager new readers... :-)

So... we all know that the poles are due to get warmer than the rest of the planet under global warming, but do we know why? Before answering why, I should point out that only the northern polar regions show general warming at present, and that this is exactly what the climate models "predict". This is generally (and I would say correctly) ascribed mostly to the moderating influence of the vast southern ocean. But it may also be partly because there is very little scope for ice-albedo feedback over Antarctica: its snow-covered now, and most of it will stay that way under any plausible warming. Unlike, say, bits of Siberia or Alaska, which (if you warm them a bit) will lose some seasonal snowcover. The only bit of "antarctica" which can participate in ice-albedo feedback is the seasonal sea ice; and this has only been measured well since 1979.

But on to the paper I wanted to blog: V A Alexeev et al, Climate Dynamics (2005) 24: 655-666. If you want the technical details, you can read the paper, so I'll assume that what you want is a superficial overview. If so, read on :-)

In fact, if you want a truely superficial overview, the answer is something like the sum of:

  1. Ice-albedo feedback
  2. Forcing in the tropics warms the globe. Forcing in the extra-tropics warms the extra-tropics only. Hence, global forcing warms the extra-tropics more.

In a bit more detail... they start off with a simple "Budyko-Sellers" type EBM (energy balance model):

d/dx D(1-x^2) d/dx T(x) = A + B T(x) - Q S(x) (1 - a(x))

with T the temperature, D the (latitudinal) diffusion coefficient, A and B are a linear param of OLR, Q is 1/4 the solar constant, S is a heating function and a(x) is the albedo. Tune up A and B and you have a a simple model. a(x) is simple too: a(x) = 0.3 is T > -10 oc and 0.6 otherwise (at least to start with; it gets enven simpler later). "T" is interpreted as annual and zonally averaged temperature, "x" is latitude.

So, fine: take the model, run it; then add something: 4 w/m2 to the RHS and look at the changes to T. And you discover... general warming (of course) and polar amplification of the warming (because the albedo, a, is T-dependent).

Well, this is what you wanted to see and built the model accordingly: an ice-albedo feedback is enough to give polar amplification. But by itself its a bit dull. So they modify the model to remove the T-dependent-albedo (ie, its now fixed) and they discover... no polar amplification. As expected. T rises uniformly. This too is dull.

But, aha! they say, the model is too simple, since we know that if the air is warmer there will be more moisture (notice carefully avoids saying the air will contain more moisture...) so the same winds will carry more energy polewards. So its fair to make the diffusion coefficient linearly dependent on the temperature, to rather crudely simulate that effect. And, ta-da, when you do that, you then recover the polar amplification. And if you split the forcing into tropics and not-tropics, you discover that the forcing flows out of the tropics polewards, but not so much from the extra-tropics tropics-wards. Which is about what you expect on flow-of-energy grounds.

However, it has sort-of been deliberately built in. So, instead, they do much the same thing in two different aqua-planet GCMs: turn off albedo changes, force in tropics only; force in extra-tropics only; and force globally. And that gives you polar amplification. And the global tends to be the sum of the other two (ie, its sort-of linear, with the albedo fixed). And looking at the GCM diags, the mechanism is apparently similar to the simple EBM case (actually the clouds help a bit too, but they get amplification even with the clouds fixed).

So we end up with: polar amplification is:

  1. Ice-albedo feedback
  2. Forcing in the tropics warms the globe. Forcing in the extra-tropics warms the extra-tropics only. Hence, global forcing warms the extra-tropics more.

Sadly they don't really tell you which influence is bigger in the real world. The thing that they don't mention, but folk often do, is the idea that the greenhouse effect of CO2 is bigger in the polar regions because its colder, hence less H2O, hence CO2 increases "can have a bigger effect". I don't think thats true, and they dont even bother mentioning it, so presumably they agree.

Stupidity (mine)

Two examples of stupidity, by me, follow. I just found them interesting... probably they are mostly failures of lateral thinking.

Before that: some misc. If you're interested, there's a photo of my apiary at the bee blog. And JA has a post about the next-generation Pork Barrel Simulator, though being polite he doesn't call it that. Am I being unfair? James also notes, about the "Great Tokyo Earthquake": Our own earthquake detection system rated last Saturday's quake as a plastic-man-toppler which I thought very cute. Speaking of the Simulator, I've just got hadcm3 running on a quad-opteron box under g95 at what looks like 2y/day. Sadly g95 is nothing like as good as gcc: its about 2-3 times slower than commercial fortran compilers, at least on some bits of the code.

OK, on to the stupidity. Number 1 is the shower. About 6 months ago, ours broke (in that it wouldn't really turn off). So I stuffed a cork in it, and we went on to having shallow baths. This was because it really wasn't worth getting a plumber in when the entire bathroom was being rebuilt... soon. We're getting closer to the soon (about 2 months away now). But, the point is, last weekend I bought for £6 one of those rubber things that you put over the bath taps so you can have a shower. Its less convenient (you have to take it off to fill the bath with any speed) BUT it does give you a decent shower. So why did it take me 6 months to think of buying one?

Number 2 is the sand pile. Not self-organised criticality thereof, but a simpler matter: the builders had left a big (1/2-tonne) bag of sand in the middle of the lawn. It made mowing the lawn a right pain etc etc and they were always about to get round to moving it. It was far to heavy for me to drag, though Ian-the-Architect thought a few people might move it. Anyway, in the end, when they were obliged to tidy up, Paul the Builder came along, and... just shovelled it from one bag into another. It took him less than 1/2 hour. I could have done that, had I thought to.


Shoot to Kill?

A brief foray into politics... around the recent London bombings... which are becoming confusing...

"Shoot to kill" was a policy probably used in Northern Ireland by the security forces during the IRA times. It was always denied, but widely believed, that in many cases IRA-type terrorist suspects would be deliberately killed rather than apprehended where possible (the example that springs to mind was the Gibraltar incident). The wiki RUC page has a bit on this, if you're unfamiliar with it.

This may all seem a bit namby-pamby to American readers: the typical Brit imagines US police forces wasting suspects left right and center. But generally we like to think that don't do it over here. Unless the authorities get panicky, and in the wake of the second round of bombings that begins to look rather likely.

Wikipedia seems to have good articles on the 2005/07/7 and 2005/07/21 bombings. To my mind, the chief characteristic of the first was bloody success; and of the second, total failure. Which makes one suspect that different people done it (err, or rather, organised it, since obviously the first lot couldn't do it again...). At the moment, no-one knows. The other thing no-one knows is what the first lot of bombs were made of. I've seen the papers stating that they were high-grade military explosive; that they were home-made unstable "TATP"; and that the police commissioner has stated that they have no idea what they were made of. Presumably the police now know what the second lot were made of, since they didn't go off, but so far they're not telling the rest of us.

Anyway, back to shoot-to-kill: Police shot a man dead in London at Stockwell tube station shortly after 10:00 on 22 July who they believed had a connection to the 21 July bombings in London. He was reportedly of South Asian appearance. Eyewitnesses report that three plain-clothes police officers pursued another man onto a train. The suspect tripped while jumping on the train and one of the police officers shot him three or five times with a black handgun, killing him. They said that the man was wearing a large winter coat, despite it being summer. One eyewitness said he appeared to be wearing a bomb belt. Police later reported that the man was in fact not carrying explosives. There are conflicting reports as to whether the police attempted to restrain the man on the floor, and whether a verbal warning was given before the man was shot. Sir Ian Blair later said, in a press conference, that a warning was issued and that the air ambulance was called but the man was pronounced dead at the scene [1]. Thats not too surprising, since the other reports I've seen said he was shot five times in the head from point-blank range, and you'd do well to survive that. The speculation, of course, (or justification) for blowing him away was not to give him a chance to blow himself up. But... does that make sense? Because there are weasel words around the "warning" that Blair says was issued. Several bystanders reported no warning, and the Torygraph at least was quite happy with that, arguing that it was quite sensible to give no warning to a potential suicide bomber. And in fact it makes sense to me too. So why is Blair asserting that a warning was given (it could just be reflex)?

The police have now admitted he was innocent (well not quite that: they said): We are now satisfied that he was not connected with the incidents of Thursday 21st July 2005. For somebody to lose their life in such circumstances is a tragedy... which is also a bit weaselly, because he didn't carelessly "lose" his life he got blown away quite deliberately by the police. It would be nice if they could say "we're sorry we killed him".

And now a thought experiment: if you wanted to make your ethnic minorities distrust you and hate your police force and go off and join extremist organisations, what better method that to shoot some of them dead?

Meanwhile, some Italians are cancelling their football tour. Wimps. They are more likely to die on the plane over than by a bomb when they get here. Unless they wear overcoats in summer, of course, in which case the police will get them....

Meanwhile number 2, Explosion rocks Trinidad capital on the 11th. No-one seems to know what that one was about, though.


MSU and Fu, revisited

I've recently been reading GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 32, L10703, doi:10.1029/2004GL022266, 2005 Satellite-derived vertical dependence of tropical tropospheric temperature trends by Qiang Fu and Celeste M. Johanson (and PDF here) in an effort to understand the differences between S+C's (==UAH) vn5.2 and vn5.1 temperature series - see previous here.

The F+J paper looks good, and is well worth reading (thanks to SC I think for pointing it out).

The paper basically says (looking at the tropics) that the S+C vn5.1 is wrong, and indeed physically implausible. They say 'the near-zero trend from Spencer and Christy’s MSU channel-2 angular scanning retrieval for the tropical low-middle troposphere (T2LT) is inconsistent with tropical tropospheric warming derived from their MSU T2 and T4 data. We show that the T2LT trend bias can be largely attributed to the periods when the satellites had large local equator crossing time drifts that cause large changes in calibration target temperatures and large diurnal drifts'.

F+J identify a jump in about 1992/3 in the UAH-RSS series, differencing the TLT (RSS) and 2LT (UAH) series. This looks similar to what I found (pic here) between UAH vn5.1 and vn5.2. So that suggests that S+C have indeed revised their version towards the RSS version.

But why? S+C aren't saying, so we have to guess.

F+J identify problems with intersatellite calibration, in particular the LECT drift, and NOAA-11. LECT is "local equator crossing time" which ideally would be fixed but in fact changes. However, the jump I see in 1992/3 fits better with NOAA-12. F+J do say 'The two jumps over land near 1992 and 1995 seem to be related to satellite transitions, respectively, from NOAA 10 to 12, and from NOAA 11 to 14'. And the 1992/3 jump does seem to fit the introduction of NOAA-12 quite well (see fig 4 of Correcting the MSU Middle Tropospheric Temperature for Diurnal Drifts Carl A. Mears, Matthias C. Schabel, and Frank J. Wentz).

But looking at individual months doesn't make things obvious... the jump is not to a continuous new level, though there are hints that the first 3 months of 1992,3,4 are rather different... but the pattern breaks in 1995. What is true is that 5.2-5.1 diffs are very very zonal. Interestingly, this says (of NOAA 11) 'The primary mission sensor, the AVHRR, failed on September 13, 1994. The satellite was placed in standby mode in March of 1995 and was reactivated to provide sounding data after a NOAA-12 sounder failure in May 1997'.

Hmm, well, interesting bits and pieces but not a full story.


I've finally decided that the best way to keep track of my beekeeping is to have a blog for it, and it is... http://williams-bees.blogspot.com/... if you're unwise enough to be interested!

Coming soon... Harry Potter and the MSU. I think.


Hairy Pooter and the Half-Baked Premise

Sorry, that was the best mock-title I could think of. And despite it, I liked the book (despite a notable lack of fart jokes). Anyway, I thought I ought to join the ranks of bloggers posting that they have read it...

Warning: no spoilers at all ahead. You'll have to read it yourself.

So... its a bit shorter than the last (boooo!). The characters develope a bit, JKR's writing style has maybe advanced a bit, but who gives a toss about the literary theory type stuff, the important bit is staying up till after midnight to finish it, which I never did for Proust... Also my 7 year old son is pretty keen on it (in the midnight queue at Oxford to buy it, he was nose-deep in HPv desperate to finish it so he could get onto vi... its a strange madness). There are various twists and turns in the plot, some reasonable false leads and double-false leads; happily the quidditch gets downplayed, as she ran out of interesting things to say about it several books ago. Ditto the Dursleys. I couldn't see any obvious self-contradictory logical flaws (unlike GoF, which had a massive self-contradiction at its very heart). I liked Luna, but then I think I'm supposed to.



[This post updated, due to a couple of cock-ups... see the []'s and strikeout. First of all, there was an error in the 1851-1930 trend line drawn in the second pic (thanks to JA's eagle eye for this). Its corrected now - twas a bug in my software (for those interested, I needed to recalc the trends right at the end, but forgot to, so the before-break trend was always the last one calc, which is why it was so similar to the full trend). Remove the "1" from the png name to see the original.]

Landsea, Trenberth, Connolley... the list of famous scientists drawn irresistibly to draw trend lines through hurricane numbers grows. Anyway, this follows some recent stuf on sci.env. I found Atlantic Storms
sorted by Year (1851-2002)
, extracted the raw data, and plotted it. I have concerns though: it seems to me that there might be biases in missing early storms. And indeed if you look at the East Pacific page, it seems there are early biases that they warn you of. But they don't warn about the Atlantic numbers. So lets trust them, at least for these porpoises.

So we get the pair of three pics at the top: top pic is hurricane number by year, bottom is avg max wind speed for that year. There is a trend, increasing, for the top one (and my software says its stat sig); and clearly no trend for the bottom one.

[A word about stat sig: as two comments pointed out (thanks) I was being naive about the sig: you need to take autocorrelation of the data into account. I know this full well, but I was in a hurry. To do this, you can (a) do it properly (deflate the d.o.f.) or (b) try averaging the data for a longer period. Thats what the middle pic is: I've averaged it for 10 year periods, so the autocorr mostly disappears. And the trend stays sig now.]

But... if you look closely, it looks like there is a jump in numbers in 1920-1930 ish, perhaps? So, I ran it through my jump-detection software (Reference: Lund and Reeves, J Climate, p2547, 2002) and get... this pic. Top graph is the "is-there-a-jump" function, which intersects the line of 95% probability, so yes it thinks there is. Bottom graph is the softwares best guess at the jump point, and trend lines before and after assuming a discontinuity there. The software thinks the jump is between 1930 and 1931. The trend, from 1931 on, is not significant any more [and nor is the pre-1930 trend. Note that this *can* be trusted, even with autocorr: taking into account the corr would only make it even less sig]. Its interesting that the software picks up the jump that my eye (at least) does. And I *didn't* run the software first and then decide on a jump: I looked at it by eye, thought "hmm I wonder what the software sez" and lo!, we agree.

What, if anything, does this mean? Probably, not very much. You'd need to be far more careful about homogenising the data, and checking back to the sources, if you were to take this seriously. You might want to see what happened around 1930 to observing practices, ship movements, etc, around there. This is just for fun.

More on the MBH-Barton fight

Take a look at: http://www.aaas.org/news/releases/2005/0714letter.pdf. Good stuff! A lot better than von S.

[Update: oh great. I see Chris Mooney was there before me, but only by 2 hours. But does he have...]

Rumour: more stuff to come on sunday!

Building / Programming / Art

No science today, I've been a bit busy recently; also to Reading for a HiGEM meeting (where I gossiped about JA with MR...). So why not have a look at the state of our building work instead?

From the Grauniad, an interesting article about rent-a-coder.com, which appears to be a small-granularity outsourcing project. You've got a bit of code to write? Then you can post your problem, people bid, and if you can agree a price then it gets done. Sounds interesting. Sadly I can't think of a way to make it work for climate model code.

Finally, a brief foray into Art Theory. I was down the pub, talking to someone with a Slim Volume on the History of Art beside her. So I mentioned Prousts view, expounded in A l'ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs, that each (great) artists starts afresh; there is, effectively, no art history. And he contrasts that with science, which builds on the past; he insists that art does not. To which my friend replied, "nonsense". And who knows, she may be right?


What do pornographers and climate modellers have in common?

Ha... knew that would draw you in. Sadly the post is mistitled, because the P I'm talking about is Rowan Pelling, and she is more os a porn-writer than a -grapher, since she is (or was, it seems she has resigned) editor of the Erotic Review.

Anyway, what we have in common is our view of the London bombing, becaause (after a long perusal of the Sunday Independent) she is the only commentator I can find with a view broadly comparable to mine. She writes:

Brave? No, just fatalistic. It was bound to happen - talk of doughty Londoners showing Blitz spirit in the face of terrorist outrage...

though the bit I wanted to quote is only available to subscribers. She doesn't do the probabalistic bit (which JA didn't like, though I still do) but otherwise says things fairly similar to me - at least, similar measured by the difference between us and most other comments.


We did not waver then, we shall not flinch now...

Bombs in London, about 50 dead, which is sad. And we don't yet know who did it.

The main reaction seems to be "we are bloody but unbowed; we shall not let this affect our way of life". Comparisons to the Blitz and so on (my title is taken from, I think, Betty Boothroyd on the 10 o'clock news). All very splendid and stiff upper lip. But probably it *will* affect our way of life, because the govt will use it as an excuse for yet more law.

But... what I actually wanted to say is, I agree it won't much affect peoples everyday life, but for a very different reason, and the reason is, it doesn't much affect anyones chance of dying.

London has (population+commuters) about 7M people; with an average life expectancy of 70 years, 100K will die each year, or about 300 each day. So I think most people are capable of doing a very rough calculation (not a formal calc, but probably more intuitive) and deduce that the added risk from bombs is low. Which is why most people will go back to using the tube when it reopens, and travelling to work as normal. Its why, when I go to a meeting at Reading from Cambridge on monday, I'll be going on the train via London and underground (if its open). I won't be driving direct from Cambridge to Reading, both because it would be too inconvenient, and because the risk (from car accidents) would be much higher.

OTOH, suppose the risk from bombing were to significantly impact the risk-of-dying: say increase it by 10%. If we had a bomb every day killing 30 people, I don't think we'd be seeing quite so much of this bloody-but-unbowed stuff. And it certainly would affect our way of life, because they would have to permanently shut the tube, and that would cause chaos.


Reading the Runes, part III: the G8 statement

Yet more bl**dy runes. And I haven't even done von S over at P yet. They're piling up.

A word about this runes nonsense: if you want to know what the science says, you just read the science. It takes a bit of effort, but you get the information, properly references and presented. Go look at the IPCC TAR WGI report for example. But with politicians (err, and other stuff) I'm trying to guess whats in their mind, and more critically what position they are obliged to accept, given what they have said. Its quite fun, but not necessarily productive; although what they intend to do is likely related to what they say (in the case of politicians, they don't say things just because they are true, but to let you know what they are thinking or what they feel obliged to say). So none of this says anything useful about the science, of course.

The G8 statement appears to be at http://www.number-10.gov.uk/output/Page7881.asp.

What I'll try to do, for fun, is to attempt to cut out the goo, dribble and ambiguity out of their statement and see whats left (remember Founcdation?), and put my comments in [brackets].

1. We face serious and linked challenges in tackling climate change, promoting clean energy and achieving sustainable development globally. [Hmm... climate change is a serious challenge... does this mean much? If it did mean something, it would be supported by some detail. Lets see...]

(a) Climate change is a serious and long-term challenge that has the potential to affect every part of the globe. We know that increased need and use of energy from fossil fuels, and other human activities, contribute in large part to increases in greenhouse gases associated with the warming of our Earth's surface. [This is an idiot cunning attempt to write a sentence that *looks* like its saying we're contributing in large part to T rise, whilst in fact only saying that we're contributing in large part to GHG's. The latter is wrong (we're responsible for more than 100% of the atmos CO2 rise, not just a "large part"). "Associated with warming" is very vague]. While uncertainties remain in our understanding of climate science, we know enough to act now to put ourselves on a path to slow and, as the science justifies, stop and then reverse the growth of greenhouse gases. [Puffing uncertainty, otherwise vague].

(b) Global energy demands are expected to grow by 60% over the next 25 years. This has the potential to cause a significant increase in greenhouse gas emissions associated with climate change. [At last, some quantification, though only of the bits we knew about already. Boring]

4. We reaffirm our commitment to the UNFCCC and to its ultimate objective to stabilise greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that prevents dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. We reaffirm the importance of the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and look forward to its 2007 report. [Weak; dangerous is meaningless without some measure of the level; affirming the importance of the IPCC is nice but some congrats on its quality would have been better]

7. Adaptation to the effects of climate change due to both natural and human factors is a high priority for all nations... [This just about means something, in that if its a high priority it presumably implies that cliamte change is going to be a problem].

14. We acknowledge that the UNFCCC is the appropriate forum for negotiating future action on climate change. Those of us who have ratified the Kyoto Protocol welcome its entry into force and will work to make it a success. [The Italians have been getting wobbly on Kyoto; if they've signed this, maybe they've unwobbled a bit]

Overall: very weak. Probably means that nothing significant will be done & no policy changes are in prospect.


House of Lords subverted by skeptics...

The House of Lords Select Committee on Economic Affairs has produced a report on The Economics of Climate Change (pdf). Initial impressions of it are poor. It fails to understand the distinctions between the different IPCC working groups. Being economic folk, they keep saying things like We welcome this recognition of the central role of economics in big bold letters. And they say The Committee decided to restrict the scope of its investigation to certain aspects of the economics of climate change. But... they are lying. Because they decided to talk nonsense about the Great Hockey Stick debate. They manage to say: We sought evidence that refuted the claims of McIntyre and McKitrick, but have not come across any detailed rebuttal. But this is where they have degenerated into bald-faced lying. Because had they contacted Mann (clearly they didn't) he would have pointed them to such. For heavens sake, its on the web at RC: Dummies guide to the latest “Hockey Stick” controversy has some info and links. But they do seem to have noticed that One curious feature of the debate over Professor Mann’s time series is that the critics appear to ignore other studies which secure similar hockey stick pictures..

There is a weird bit (para 15), possibly somewhat garbled, that indicates that Lindzen is still pushing nonsense: In the view of Professor Richard Lindzen of MIT, current climate models would have predicted a substantially greater increase in the past temperature than has been observed in the past 150 years, perhaps +3oC compared to the +0.6oC we have witnessed.. Err... but (as the report then goes on to point out) GCMs actually replicate the T record since 1860 pretty well (SPM, fig 4). Presumably what Lindzen is trying to say is that if you omit important forcings, you get the wrong answer, but this is bleedin' obvious. And where he gets 3oC from is a mystery.

Later on they manage to say: apparent divergences between land-based temperature records and satellite-based measurements, the latter showing some cooling rather than warming in recent years...? Unless they want people to wipe their bottoms on their shiny new report, they're going to have to do better than this.

They are on firmer ground - or so one might have hoped - on emissions scenarios/SRES (para 52 and on). Unfortunately they strongly overweight the value of Castles and Henderson, and they manage to wurble stupidly about the probablility of the various scenarios. But really... if they're decent economists, why don't the stop p*ss*ng around and just generate their own more reasonable scenario? Why haven't C+H? And... after all their ranting about MER/PPP, it makes hardly any difference (table 3).

After this there is a long bit on impacts/economics, that I skipped.

Then they get onto the traditional bit about how the "Summary for Policymakers" sections are written. Personally, I think it would be excellent if the US and Saudi govt's weren't allow to b*gg*r about with those bits, but sadly its all written down in the IPCC constitution that the SPMs are agreed line by line by govts, and I rather doubt that it will change. All of that section looks to me like its slanted with anti-IPCC bias, BTW. Well, most of the report does. Not so much the facts, but the tone.

Despite my professed desire to learn more about impacts, I got bored at this point, because clearly this isn't the place to learn from. Hey ho.


Reading the Runes part II: Prometheus

Over at Promehteus, there is a forthright post on the latest Hockey Stick stuff. As usual, there is stuff in there whose tone I'd disagree with but there is some rather forthright language which I'd thoroughly agree with:

From the perspective of climate science or policy Rep. Barton’s inquiry is simply inane

is blunt. Or:

Of course, it is doubtful that Rep. Barton’s Committee (on Energy and Commerce, I remind you) actually has any real interest in the science of climate change, except as a tool of tactical advantage in the continuing political battle over global warming. Rep. Barton and others opposed to action on climate change will continue to gnaw at the hockey stick like a dog on a bone so long as they perceive that it confers some political benefits.


The debate also consumes a lot of scarce attention on the climate issue – attention that would be better devoted to debates about policy options.

Quite right. And:

Of course, most Prometheus readers will know that the case for a human influence on climate is well established through multiple independent lines of research.

Tell me that I haven't been paying attention, but I haven't seen that unambiguously on Prometheus before. Lower down, I'd disagree with RP's tone, and he seems to have forgotten that Ammann and Wahl *have* replicated MBH. And It was clearly a mistake to use the MBH studies in the SPM is clearly wrong. Points 2 and 3 are badly wrong too, but hey you can't have everything.

Reading the Runes

mt points out over in sci.env that the NYT says (registration required)

Mr. Bush made a nod to the compromise effort at the news conference, saying, "I recognize that the surface of the earth is warmer and that an increase in greenhouse gases caused by humans is contributing to the problem."

Now this is close to Kremlinology, but although this is weak stuff (no numbers) Bush appears to be saying that the earth getting warmer is a problem; and that people are contributing to it. Many skeptics have gone over, from denying any human influence, to saying "of course there is an influence but its small". Bush is obviously avoiding, so far, the std.consensus that "most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities" (IPCC) but saying that our emissions are contrib uting to a problem is, although weaselly, a fair step in the right direction.

Meanwhile, some more entrails, this time of the public sort. "Overwhelming Majority of Americans Favors US Joining With G8 Members to Limit Greenhouse Gas Emissions" says PIPA (tip: Chris Mooney). Also "The percentage saying that 'there is a consensus among the great majority of scientists that global warming exists and could do significant damage' has risen from 43% in June 2004 to 52% today. The percentage saying that 'scientists are divided on the existence of global warming and its impact' has dropped from 50% to 39%". Unfortunately, this mixes existence with impacts; I'm not really sure how I would answer such a question. I really must read up on the impacts literature sometime.


Something happy for a change: Portland

From an article in the NYT:

Newly released data show that Portland, America's environmental laboratory, has achieved stunning reductions in carbon emissions. It has reduced emissions below the levels of 1990, the benchmark for the Kyoto accord, while booming economically.

What's more, officials in Portland insist that the campaign to cut carbon emissions has entailed no significant economic price, and on the contrary has brought the city huge benefits: less tax money spent on energy, more convenient transportation, a greener city, and expertise in energy efficiency that is helping local businesses win contracts worldwide...


More Barton/Mann/Waxman

David Appell (here; and his prev) and Chris Mooney have more on the "Barton affair". Waxman says:

These letters do not appear to be a serious attempt to understand the science of global warming. Some might interpret them as a transparent effort to bully and harass climate change experts who have reached conclusions with which you disagree

Indeed. So its good to see a heavyweight politician coming in on the side of science. Of course, this could just be a democrat-republican fight. The original Barton letters were politics/$ not science, so its probably right for this to turn, nakedly, into a political fight.

Interestingly, though, no-one seems to have anticipated this (even the normally politically astute Prometheus), even though it is (in retrospect) obvious.

BTW: JF: can you get CM back on PF please?

More satellite stuff, including explanations, a bit

When I wrote my prev post (BTW, the same caveats about data handling that I made there still apply), I was in a bit of a hurry and included little in the way of background. So... there is some good stuff at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satellite_temperature_measurements (well I wrote most of it). That page also includes links to various groups, but RSS is Remote Sensing Systems and S+C/UAH is here and other places; but their pages are in a bit of flux because they haven't caught up with their latest correction yet! The RSS pages have some nice descriptions of how the stuff all works.

Anyway, I've done a few more pics: here are maps of the trends (1979-2004, from annual mean data) from S+C vn5.2, 5.1, RSS and 5.2-5.1:

The last is quite startling, to me: it looks like an essentially zonally symmetric correction in the tropics. Odd.

And then the zonal means of the trends:

Also interesting (perhaps) is the trends to-year for the two series:

year 5.2 5.1
1992 0.0009 -0.0005
1993 -0.0025 -0.0046
1994 -0.0017 -0.0045
1995 0.0015 -0.0014
1996 0.0021 -0.0008
1997 0.0028 -0.0001
1998 0.0099 0.0070
1999 0.0089 0.0058
2000 0.0080 0.0046
2001 0.0090 0.0054
2002 0.0108 0.0072
2003 0.0117 0.0080

These are the trends calc from the monthly data, from jan 1979 to dec of (year). They aren't quite the same as the ones on the wiki page (for 5.1) but thats probably down to minor processing (my area avg vs theirs, perhaps). So on my version of their v5.2, the negative trends stop in 1994, 3 years earlier than for 5.1.

Meanwhile... over at Deltoid, Scott Church commented: Note that these are TLT trends, so they won’t compare directly with current versions of RSS MSU trends which are for the middle troposphere (the corresponding UAH trends for an RSS or Prabhakara comparison will be TMT). I'm actually a teensy bit confused about the various products and levels. The S+C vn5.1/5.2's are definitely comparable. The RSS data may not quite be. The RSS stuff is their TMT product, which is a merge of MSU channel 2 and some AMSU data.