Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sunday brunch tab dump 

A few items from the morning surf session.

Hail to the Victors: The best pictures of the decade just past from the University of Michigan's photographers. As usual, the "breeding room" gets top billing.

If you are a lawyer or corporate tool (or both!), a huge round-up of 2010 forecasts and "insights" from mega law firm Skadden Arps.

Retraction #1:

A WARNING that climate change will melt most of the Himalayan glaciers by 2035 is likely to be retracted after a series of scientific blunders by the United Nations body that issued it.

Two years ago the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a benchmark report that was claimed to incorporate the latest and most detailed research into the impact of global warming. A central claim was the world's glaciers were melting so fast that those in the Himalayas could vanish by 2035.

In the past few days the scientists behind the warning have admitted that it was based on a news story in the New Scientist, a popular science journal, published eight years before the IPCC's 2007 report.

It has also emerged that the New Scientist report was itself based on a short telephone interview with Syed Hasnain, a little-known Indian scientist then based at Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi.

Hasnain has since admitted that the claim was "speculation" and was not supported by any formal research. If confirmed it would be one of the most serious failures yet seen in climate research. The IPCC was set up precisely to ensure that world leaders had the best possible scientific advice on climate change.

Professor Murari Lal, who oversaw the chapter on glaciers in the IPCC report, said he would recommend that the claim about glaciers be dropped: "If Hasnain says officially that he never asserted this, or that it is a wrong presumption, than I will recommend that the assertion about Himalayan glaciers be removed from future IPCC assessments."

Goddamn. If you read the whole thing it is clear that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was wholly unprincipled and unprofessional in its glacier "science." If that is the quality of work coming out of the IPCC, the Climategate email hack is just the tip of the iceberg. As it were.

Retraction #2:
U.S. intelligence agencies are quietly revising their widely disputed assertion that Iran has no active program to design or build a nuclear bomb. Three U.S. and two foreign counterproliferation officials tell NEWSWEEK that, as soon as next month, the intel agencies are expected to complete an ‘update’ to their controversial 2007 National Intelligence Estimate, which concluded that Tehran ‘halted its nuclear weapons program’ in 2003 and ‘had not restarted’ it as of mid-2007. The officials, who asked for anonymity to discuss sensitive information, say the revised report will bring U.S. intel agencies more in line with other countries’ spy agencies (such as Britain’s MI6, Germany’s BND, and Israel’s Mossad), which have maintained that Iran has been pursuing a nuclear weapon.

This is actually old news. The intelligence agencies began reversing themselves literally within days of Barack Obama's inauguration, which makes this comment of Glenn's particularly sharp:
As I noted before, the purpose of the National Intelligence Estimate was to paralyze us until after the elections. It worked. Some . . . searching inquiry into how that came about, however, might be worthwhile.

More later, if I get my chores done.


By Blogger Tom, at Sun Jan 17, 10:50:00 AM:

Two surf sessions this morning. One off the coast of North Florida in some tasty waves and one here in Tigerhawk world. Life is good.  

By Anonymous Mr. Ed, at Sun Jan 17, 11:46:00 AM:




By Anonymous sirius_sir, at Sun Jan 17, 12:09:00 PM:

Oh well. Never mind. No harm, no foul.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jan 17, 02:22:00 PM:

These are difficult matters. It is quite unfair to expect our agencies to be right about anything at all.

Rest assured the NIE will be exactly right in the long run.

After Iran openly tests an atomic weapon, or just uses one on Israel, Winston Smith will correct the past.  

By Blogger Brian, at Sun Jan 17, 05:30:00 PM:

TH missed this from the glacier article:
Cogley said: "The reality, that the glaciers are wasting away, is bad enough."

The article vastly overstates the importance of the single, incorrect statement in the IPCC report, and then TH goes even further in overstatement.

The key issue, also from the article:

"The problem is that nobody who studied this material bothered chasing the trail back to the original point when the claim first arose. It is ultimately a trail that leads back to a magazine article and that is not the sort of thing you want to end up in an IPCC report....Pearce said the IPCC's reliance on the WWF was 'immensely lazy'....."

I agree with all that, and none of what TH says on the issue. It's one mistake in one part of one of the four working group reports of the IPCC. Far more evidence is needed to discredit AGW.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jan 17, 06:12:00 PM:

he article vastly overstates the importance of the single, incorrect statement in the IPCC report

Perhaps, perhaps not. Present your credentials and I'll consider if you're competent to make such a declaration.

What isn't "overstated" are the sloven procedures and non-existent verification that allowed it to be included.

If I adopted such procesures in my own lab work, my partners would throw me out.  

By Blogger Brian, at Sun Jan 17, 07:13:00 PM:

That's a little strange to demand my credentials on an issue that can be examined independently when Anon won't even identify himself/herself.  

By Anonymous Mr. Ed, at Sun Jan 17, 07:46:00 PM:

There was once a grand edifice presumed to be scientific fact. Like most works of memorable architecture there were a handful of prominent elements which resonated with all who experienced them. Despite the fact of there being much sublime engineering that no one saw and few understood, these spires and cupolas captured the imagination.

One by one they were found to be not well founded and after an initial lean we have seen a series of collapses, one after another.

The Hockey Stick
Polar Bears
Climate Models
The Snows of Mt. Kilimanjaro
The Glaciers of the Himalaya
The Integrity of Science

Other elements are showing a definite lean.

Lack of solar forcing.
The ability of carbon dioxide to cause runaway warming.
The unimportance of water vapor as a climate forcing.
The irrelevance of cooling pollutants like sulfur dioxide.
Dendroidal paleoclimatology.

This is not a tidy and beautiful efficacy anymore. It's probably not even a fixer upper.

It looks a ruin for all the world to see.


Apologies for the second post.  

By Anonymous Mr. Ed, at Sun Jan 17, 07:49:00 PM:


"...beautiful edifice..."


By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Sun Jan 17, 10:12:00 PM:

Put that into verse, and I'd bet it'll go viral.  

By Blogger Brian, at Mon Jan 18, 02:24:00 PM:

Hockey stick - validated by National Research Council.

Polar bears - declining. See http://pbsg.npolar.no/en/status/status-table.html

Climate models - doing great, although the ones from the early 1990s underestimated warming that would occur since that time.

Kilimanjaro - multiple factors make it unclear why the snows going away. AGW not ruled out.

Himalay glaciers - the only error was in how fast they're melting, but they're definitely melting except some at the highest elevation.

The rest is meaningless, vague, or wrong.  

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