Friday, August 21, 2009


An email from Don Keiller, Department of Life Sciences, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge []

I am one of those who have asked CRU for their data - on the basis that papers that rely on non-substantiated data cannot be reproduced and therefore should be withdrawn. See request to CRU, below also copied to Professor Jones. I have had an acknowledgement of receipt:
Dear Mrs Palmer,

I have been reading with increasing disbelief the litany of excuses offered by CRU FOI Officers to Steve McIntyre at "Climate Audit" ( to refuse release of original temperature data held at CRU. The refusal of FOI requests on the basis of confidentiality agreements which were either "verbal", or "lost" is clearly illegal. If you cannot substantiate these agreements, then they are null and void.

Similarly the refusal to provide data to allow fellow scientists access to original data to reproduce published findings strikes at the very heart of scientific enquiry. Papers produced without such supporting data become hearsay and must be withdrawn.

Accordingly I make the following FOI request, confirming that I am a academic who has published in the area of climate change in the past and that I currently work in an academic institution.
Pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (2000) "General right of access to information held by public authorities"

In this Act any reference to a “request for information” is a reference to such a request which-

(a) is in writing,
(b) states the name of the applicant and an address for correspondence, and
(c) describes the information requested.

For the purposes of subsection (1)(a), a request is to be treated as made in writing where the text of the request-

(a) is transmitted by electronic means,
(b) is received in legible form, and
(c) is capable of being used for subsequent reference.

I hereby request:

1. A copy of any digital version of the CRUTEM station data set that has been sent from CRU to Peter Webster and/or any other person at Georgia Tech between January 1, 2007 and June 25, 2009

2. A copy of any instructions or stipulations accompanying the transmission of data to Peter Webster and/or any other person at Georgia Tech between January 1, 2007 and June 25, 2009 limiting its further dissemination or disclosure.

A pesky economist

Last week, I met with representatives from Repower America about possibly participating (as a panelist) in Repower Ohio's "Made in America" Town Hall Event. In particular, they were looking for 'experts' to attest that:

Investing $150 billion a year in America's clean energy economy could generate a net increase of 1.7 million jobs. Furthermore, with comprehensive climate and clean energy policies, American households could start seeing savings within just a few years and these savings could reach an average of $900 per year by 2030.

I explained to them that I would be glad to help out and explain that clean energy could produce 1.7 million jobs, but I have an obligation to my own integrity as an economist to point out that these jobs come at a cost to other sectors and the net effect is unclear. Besides, jobs is not the right measuring stick for the success or failure of energy legislation.

From the inbox (today):
I appreciate you offering to help us for the August 27th event but I feel that we are looking for someone who is more directly supportive of our cause and can speak to their reasons why at the event. If we have other events coming up, I will definitely contact you to see if you can help point us in the right direction.

Oh well, I tried.


Some interesting comments about "required" conclusions attached to the above post


Nicola Scafetta has a new paper in the Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics: ‘Empirical analysis of the solar contribution to global mean air surface temperature change’. The paper finds a large influence from the sun on climate change

The Abstract states:

The solar contribution to global mean air surface temperature change is analyzed by using an empirical bi-scale climate model characterized by both fast and slow characteristic time responses to solar forcing. Since 1980 the solar contribution to climate change is uncertain because of the severe uncertainty of the total solar irradiance satellite composites. The sun may have caused from a slight cooling, if PMOD TSI composite is used, to a significant warming (up to 65% of the total observed warming) if ACRIM, or other TSI composites are used. The model is calibrated only on the empirical 11-year solar cycle signature on the instrumental global surface temperature since 1980. The model reconstructs the major temperature patterns covering 400 years of solar induced temperature changes, as shown in recent paleoclimate global temperature records.

The Conclusion states:

Herein I have analyzed the solar contribution to global mean air surface temperature change. A comprehensive interpretation of multiple scientific findings indicates that the contribution of solar variability to climate change is significant and that the temperature trend since 1980 can be large and upward. However, to correctly quantify the solar contribution to the recent global warming it is necessary to determine the correct TSI behavior since 1980. Unfortunately, this cannot be done with certainty yet. The PMOD TSI composite, which has been used by the IPCC and most climate modelers, has been found to be based on arbitrary and questionable assumptions (Scafetta and Willson, 2009). Thus, it cannot be excluded that TSI increased from 1980 to 2000 as claimed by the ACRIM scientific team.

The IPCC (2007) claim that the solar contribution to climate change since 1950 is negligible may be based on wrong solar data in addition to the fact that the EBMs and GCMs there used are missing or poorly modeling several climate mechanisms that would significantly amplify the solar effect on climate. When taken into account the entire range of possible TSI satellite composite since 1980, the solar contribution to climate change ranges from a slight cooling to a significant warming, which can be as large as 65% of the total observed global warming.


POLAR BEARS: More likely to be endangered by obesity than warming

Too many cool, wet days resulted in a lousy summer -- but you won't find any polar bears complaining. The cooler-than-usual summer produced thicker ice on Hudson Bay, giving the area's polar bear population several extra days to feed on tasty ringed seals. "This is the time of year when polar bears eat the most, and the ringed seals are so full of fat and energy," said Daryll Hedman, the northeast regional wildlife manager for Manitoba Conservation.

Hedman said polar bears stay on the Hudson Bay ice for as long as possible so they can feed, adding this year the ice was so thick that the bears stayed out for an extra two weeks. That's resulted in fatter, healthier bears this summer, Hedman said, adding the development is not likely a long-term trend. "It's probably a blip," Hedman said of the thicker ice and cooler temperatures.

Last month, the Polar Bear Specialist Group -- scientists from Denmark, Norway, Russia, the U.S. and Canada -- passed a resolution to urge the governments to take the animals into consideration when planning Arctic development.


Big backflip in Britain: "No need to cut travel to save the planet"

Personal sacrifices are not necessary in the fight against global warming, according to Lord Adonis, the Transport Secretary, who promised that greener technologies would mean Britons should have no need to cut back on travel. “We don’t need to have a hair-shirt approach,” Lord Adonis said on a visit to Beijing to review China’s high-speed rail network and the latest developments in electric and hybrid cars. “If you can radically cut emissions as a result of new transport technology it is not necessary to face people with an ‘either-or’ choice between a low carbon future and big cuts in travel.”

Green campaigners have argued that sacrifices will be necessary if the world is serious about cutting carbon emissions, with conscientious consumers facing tough choices between "saving the planet" and, for example, enjoying low-cost flights to Europe.

However Lord Adonis, a former Liberal Democrat who switched to Lbaour to become head of policy for Tony Blair, said it was not realistic to expect people to curtail their travel habits in the name of global warming. Instead Briton could meet green targets through technology such as ultra low carbon cars, new generations of low-emission aircraft and electrified rail lines that cut rail carbon emissions by a third compared with using diesel locomotives.

“We’ll never sell a low-carbon future to the public if it depends on a deprivation model. I’m convinced that there’s no necessary trade-off between a low carbon future and more or less transport,” he said. “The critical factor is the deployment of technology and the intelligent use of pricing and policy mechanisms to regulate emissions.”

This December the world will meet in Copenhagen to negotiate a successor to the Kyoto Treaty in an attempt to limit global warming to 2C above pre-industrial levels, the benchmark set by the UN to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

Lord Adonis, who recently returned from holiday where his beach-reading included The Politics of Climate Change by Professor Anthony Giddens, is currently pushing for Britain to build a £20bn high-speed north-south rail link. A decision on whether to build the 185mph line, which would significantly cut journey times between London and the North and reduce the need for domestic air travel, is expected to be taken early next year, before the General Election.

A Government-commissioned study by Booz Allen Hamilton, a consultancy, recently raised doubts over whether a high-speed link would be more environmentally friendly than flying, particularly over short distances such as London to Manchester.

However Lord Adonis said that green considerations were only a small factor in arguing for the high-speed link which would follow the lead set up European countries like Germany and France and now being actively investigated by the US. “The primary reason for a high-speed rail link is not the environment but the need to build capacity on our rail network. Carbon reduction is one argument, but building capacity is by far the most compelling one,” he said.


Some Greenie face-saving in Australia

SOME new conditions are being placed on coal-power generators in Queensland which, on the face of it, sound like positive news for the environment.

Announced just minutes ago (from when I started typing!) as part of Queensland’s just-released climate change strategy, the Government has announced it will not allow any new dirty coal-fired power stations to be built in the state.

But there’s a get-out clause - and it’s quite a big one. Hang on - let’s put that another way. It’s HUGE, because some coal-fired power will be allowed.

While generators will have to use “world’s best practice low emission technology” they will also have to show their new power station will be ready to retrofit Carbon Capture and Storage technology - a technology still unproven. What’s more, they’ll have to fit the aforementioned unproven technology within five years of it being proven on a commercial scale.

I’d like to meet the person who has to check that the power plant is ready for something which doesn’t yet exist.

Similarly loose-fitting restrictions have been placed on new coal-fire plants in England, where the Government says it doesn’t expect carbon capture to be demonstrated commercially for at least another decade.



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