Archive for July, 2011

A Vast Machine

July 10, 2011

Let me say this clear and loud:  Paul N. Edwards is not a climate realist, his faith into the integrity and innocence of politically correct  climate science and IPCC working is not troubled by Climategate or Himalayagate, because this book was finished in 2009, before these eye-opening events came to light.  Nevertheless it is in my opinion a very good book, even if quite a couple of statements make me wince.

P.N. Edwards writes a refreshingly good style, and shows the professionalism of an extremely well documented author. His book is about climate models and climate data, and the politics of global warming. Three ideas appear everywhere in this book:

1. data friction, i.e. available data are incomplete, uncertain, and hinder investigations like mechanical friction hinders the smooth running of an engine.

2. infrastructural inversion, i.e. you have to put the data gathering infrastructures upside down, to get information how data are gathered, and how there might be faults or shortcomings in that process. The admirable work of Anthony Watt’s project falls into that category (even if Edwards does not hold this enterprise in very high esteem)

3. modelling (both data and climate). This is the recurrent leitmotif: without models there are no data,  and only models can make data global. Edwards uses the concept of “model” in a very broad sense. Take for instance the  MSU data from a satellite. Without wringing these data through several (mathematical) procedures, I won’t get values for tropospheric temperature.  As today nearly all data will go through one or more of these procedures, Edwards has a point. But he stretches it a bit too far in my opinion, as he uses that point to silence all these who do not 100% buy into the global climate models. Also being models, there is in my opinion a big difference between both, a difference Edwards knowingly minimizes.

Edwards writes a vast story, beginning in the 19th century and ending 2009, of the development of weather and climate models, out from physical basics (like conservation of mass and momentum) and data collection. There is an awesome wealth of interesting details in this story, but you never will be told the difference between scenario and prediction (Edwards takes GCM outputs flatly as predictions,  the best we can rely upon to take political decisions).

At the end of the book, he takes a look at the blogosphere and names the McIntire/Mc.Kitrick battle against the hockey stick, minimizing the stubborn resistance of the HS-team to make their data (and methods) available for scrutiny.

There are some critical reflections on consensus climatology, but as said above, it is a pity that the great tsunami of the Climategate email scandal happened after the book was finished.

Edwards is not a coward, and he lays his cards open quite at the beginning, writing “Yes I think climate change is real, and I think it’s the biggest threat the world faces now…”. I do not buy into the last part of this sentence, but must honestly confess that I really liked this outstanding book, and will if time permits read it a second time.

Climate Coup

July 5, 2011

Most books on climate usually recap the same well-worn paths: paleo-climate, greenhouse gases, global climate change, extreme weather events, potential future catastrophes etc… This is true as well for the alarmists as the realists writing, the difference being that the first insist on potential dangers and urge for rapid live style changes, the second stressing the natural climate variability, the poor quality of data and models and the financial rewards that can be expected from spreading climate fear.

Patrick Michaels is the editor of a book that concentrates mostly on the political questions,  as stated in the sub-title “Global warming’s invasion of our government and our lives”.  So you find in 8 chapters written by 8 different authors (Michaels being one of them) only a few graphs, no calculations and no physics.

Pat Michaels is a former state climatologist and president of the American Association of State Climatologists, an ex-research professor of the University of Virginia, a fellow of the Cato Institute and the author of  “The Satanic Gases” and “Climate of Extremes“. He is also the author of the well known and excellent World Climate Report, one of the oldest blogs on global climate problems.

The authors of this book are climate realists, and, as typical for more conservative Americans, people who see with suspicion Big Government expanding its reach into matters that they think should remain in the hands of more local organizations. This anger in loosing freedom to decide to state organizations like the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) pervades all the chapters. A second Leitmotif is that vast numbers of organizations, political, environmental, academic, military and industrial have developed a big interest in keeping the climate change fear alive. Many of them thrive (and survive) by keeping public subsidies flowing, hiding the fact that this money ultimately comes from the taxpayer and is lost for other means.

Every chapter of the book begins with a short comment by P. Michaels, summarizing the salient features. For instance he concludes this summary of the first chapter by Pilon & Turgeon “The Executive State Tackles Global Warming” by:  “The result is rule by unelected, largely unaccountable bureaucratic “experts” making decisions that in the end are often value-laden and political.”

Here the list of all authors, from chapter 1 to chapter 8:  Roger Pilon &Evan Turgeon, Patrick Michaels, Ross McKitrick,Ivan Eland, Sallie James, Indur M. Goklany, Robert E. Davis, Neal McCluskey.

Mc Kitrick (successful crusader with Steve McIntyre against the foolish Hockeystick paper) writes a hair-raising story on the peer review process, which shows that scientific integrity is in bad shape in the world of politically correct climate science.

A highly recommended book!