Living a hour out of town, I quite often listen to podcasts in my car, and particularly like the BBC Radio 4 programme In Our Time, in which Melvyn Bragg interviews experts on a variety of topics from culture, to history, to philosophy, to science etc. A recent programme was on the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, which is when the planet got about 5° hotter than normal about 50 million years ago. There is a useful summary at Seven things that happened when the planet got really, really hot and the podcast itself can still be downloaded.
There are lots of interesting things to say about the PETM, and Melvyn’s guests said quite a lot of them, but the programme was somewhat marred by the climate change claptrap that seems to permeate everything these days. The real scientific reality is that the cause of the PETM is unknown, but this gets translated into Flopsy as “The cause of the PETM must have been carbon dioxide, but the cause of the carbon dioxide is unknown”.
One of the interesting things about the PETM is that it was a good thing. Rapid global warming (much more pronounced than anything on the cards today) produced an explosion of evolution, including the evolution of our own ancestors. And so, without that period of rapid global warming, it is far Continue reading
Although his website site does have a somewhat deranged feel to it, Piers Corbyn (brother of the more famous Jeremy) seems to have been correct in his long-range forecasts of the present cold and snowy weather in the UK and elsewhere.
Piers is not only much cleverer than his brother, but is free to say what he really thinks. And to indulge his propensity to crow a bit about the fact that his forecasts are consistently more accurate than those of the Met Office. It is all a bit counter-intuitive. The Met Office looks all solid and dependable, but in fact is ridden with barking-mad climate change group-think nonsense. Conversely, Piers looks as mad as a March hare, but time after time events, as they have unfolded, have vindicated his forecasts. Which is, after all, the gold standard of real science. This reversal of the norm is rare, but then again, we live in strange times.
Here are a few of Piers’ observations about weather, climate and others things at his website/twitter feed Continue reading
It is seriously worrying that the South Australian government is currently spending $2.6 million of taxpayers money on an advertising campaign about energy. It now says that it is “taking control” of the situation. That is bad. Very bad.
Electricity here is already 3 times as expensive as in the US, and I have had many power cuts this year. So a bad situation looks like it is going to get much worse before it gets better.
So I have installed a solar system on the roof. This is not because I think solar is great. It is because I think the grid supply is really bad, and getting worse. It comes with an internet based dashboard, so I can see what it going on. Right now, for example, my panels are generating 5kW. Most of that is powering the house. Some is charging up the battery which provides power at night. And I am exporting a bit of it to the grid. It is surprisingly compelling, watching the dashboard as the sun comes out and then dives back behind a cloud.
Daft ideas from the State government here Continue reading
This was in The Times today:
We were wrong — worst effects of climate change can be avoided, say experts
Scientists admit that world is warming more slowly than predicted
The worst impacts of climate change can still be avoided, senior scientists have said after revising their previous predictions.
The world has warmed more slowly than had been forecast by computer models, which were “on the hot side” and overstated the impact of emissions, a new study has found….
The study, published in the journal Nature Geoscience… suggests that the world has more time to make the changes.
Michael Grubb, professor of international energy and climate change at University College London and one of the study’s authors, admitted that his past prediction had been wrong…
They could have saved themselves a few lines by simply announcing “Robert Was Right”.
The world establishment is going apoplectic about Trump pulling the US out of the Paris Accord. Even normally-moderate news channels are broadcasting lectures instead of reporting news, scarcely able to contain their rage. It is as though a country in the Arab Middle East said it did not believe in Islam any more.
There are other views, of course.
Trump is not an ideal POTUS, but it would take a genius to be wrong about absolutely everything. And anyway, it Continue reading
The construction of my swimming pool is coming along nicely. Just in time for winter.
Could global warming be my saviour? One of the acid tests is the Antarctic Peninsular: the bit that sticks out furthest north from that chilly continent. According to Wikipedia:
The Antarctic Peninsula is a part of the world that is experiencing extraordinary warming
No such luck, however. So far this century, the peninsular has been stubbornly refusing the exhortations of Al Gore, Wikipedia et al to hurry up and melt. Instead, it has got colder by about a degree; see Jo Nova. Or if you want to, read the review of the paper itself which analyses the latest results.
Today was a Continue reading
There must be, I guess, some sort of prize out there for the person in the world with the most chutzpah. How else to explain that Al Gore, the man responsible for the disgraceful An Inconvenient Truth, is up for a sequel!
For a few moments, An Inconvenient Truth looked to many people like a serious piece of work. But then people started fact-checking it. It is riddled with errors, and the internet is full of debunking analyses; see for example, The Daily Caller, The Blaze, NewsBusters, Natural News. More authoritatively, the High Court in London declared it seriously flawed as “not supported by current mainstream scientific consensus.” The Artic has nor melted, nor have the snows of Kilimanjaro, and extreme weather events are down, not up, with no runaway global warming.
Still, Gore has made himself a very rich man. His net asset value has gone up from about $1m to some $200m, having recently sold about half of his holding in Apple.
One of Gore’s rabbits has been Michael Mann, the inventor of the now-discredited “hockey stick” – the graph that attempted to hide the fact that it was hotter in Medieval times than today. Mann had a rough time this week in Continue reading
There has been some interesting archaeology coming out of Orkney, and particularly the Ness of Brodgar, recently. And some evidence that Orkney might have been at the cultural centre of Britain a few thousand years ago. Developing the technology that led to Stonehenge.
But why? It’s frigging freezing there!
But here’s the thing. In those days it was quite a bit warmer. Much warmer than today. So quite pleasant. Despite what the bat-shit crazy neo-religious scare mongers are trying to tell you, the ice core data from Greenland (quite a good proxy for the Orkneys) tell us that the Medieval Warm period (when mankind flourished) was warmer today. And the Roman period (when mankind flourished) was even warmer than that. And the Minoan period Continue reading
Some things, course, obviously either true or not true. “The atomic weight of carbon is 14” is not the sort of fact which admits of very much argument. Neither is it a fact which is very interesting to most people. Most people are much more interested in questions which admit of a great deal of argument. Donald Trump is going to be a disaster for the United States. Global warming is an existential threat. The European Union does more harm than good. Hmm. Maybe, maybe not.
I have always thought that a version of Occam’s razor is quite a good place to start. It is the general notion that, where there are competing explanations of something, the simplest is the more probable. Or as Bertrand Russell put it:
Whenever possible, substitute constructions out of known entities for inferences to unknown entities
One application of all of this is the cui bono rule, which is often attributed to Cicero, although Cicero himself ascribed to Lucius Cassius. A court should ask itself who is likely to benefit from a particular crime; that person may well be the criminal.
It is not an infallible rule, of course. Nor is my variant, which goes something like this:
Where there are competing versions of the truth, the one most infected by cognitive bias is the one less likely to be true.
Putting flesh on the bones of Occam’s razor, the simplest explanation as to why someone thinks something is true is often that Continue reading
For a remarkably reasonable price, I have aquired a weather station. Although there was no global warming for the first decade and a half or so of this century, there is some evidence of a modest rise in average temperatures in the last year or so. Far short of the warnings of runaway scorching as we went past some supposed tipping point. But something to watch for. Personally, I am all for a bit of global warming, especially since we now enjoy the beneficial effects of a bit more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere – worldwide vegetation has increased a fair bit, almost certainly because of the extra carbon dioxide rather than the temperature. If the average global temperature were to rise to, say, the levels enjoyed by the Roman Empire or even more recently during the Renaissance, there would be huge benefits to mankind.
We no longer get bombarded by hysterical nonsense on the subject from the media quite as much as a while ago. The public at large seems to have rumbled that the scientists whose grant money depends on scary stories about iminent disaster are not to be trusted, and global warming has slipped way down the ratings of issues that the public now worry about. In the USA Continue reading