Tuesday, March 23, 2010


I've decided that it's time to stop feeling guilty about my lack of recent posting activity on this blog.  I hereby declare a formal sabbatical of indeterminate length.

There are plenty of outstanding "skeptic" blogs out there operated by those who have much more time and energy than I have, and who are much more on top of the scientific aspects of the debate than I am.  Check out my "Fellow Heretics" blog list in the sidebar—in particular, some of the "A-List" blogs like Climate Audit, Watt's Up With That, JoNova, and others.

I will continue to devote effort to my politics and culture blog. In fact, AGW-related posts are likely to show up there from time to time, since in recent times the boundary between science and politics has grown quite fuzzy vis-à-vis the climate debate.  I believe that many of the same folks on the other side of the climate debate are also behind the current drive to remake America in their image.  So, in a sense, I’m not abandoning the battlefield—I’m doing a strategic redeployment.

I’ve kept the existing comments, but they’re no longer displayed.  Sorry about that.

I will continue to keep up with the debate, but, alas, you’ll need to read about the latest developments elsewhere.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The science is settled!

For those who insist that a scientific viewpoint has little credibility unless it has been published in a respected peer-reviewed journal, I’d like to ask: How did the following study survive peer review?

Daily Mail (UK), February 7:

Boredom could be shaving years off your life, scientists have found.

Researchers say that people who complain of boredom are more likely to die young, and that those who experienced 'high levels' of tedium are more than two-and-a-half times as likely to die from heart disease or stroke than those satisfied with their lot.

More than 7,000 civil servants were studied over 25 years - and those who said they were bored were nearly 40 per cent more likely to have died by the end of study than those who did not.

The scientists said this could be a result of those unhappy with their lives turning to such unhealthy habits as smoking or drinking, which would cut their life expectancy.

Specialists from the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at University College London, looked at data from 7,524 civil servants aged between 35 and 55 who were interviewed between 1985 and 1988 about their levels of boredom. They then found out whether they had died by April last year.

Researcher Martin Shipley, who co-wrote the report to be published in the International Journal of Epidemiology this week, said: 'The findings on heart disease show there was sufficient evidence to say there is a link with boredom.

So, they polled 7,000 government employees 25 years ago to find out if they were experiencing boredom at the time, and then checked back last year to see if they had died yet.

Does this methodology strike anyone else as ridiculously absurd?  Nevertheless, what appears to be a manifestly unscientific study has been published in a prestigious peer-reviewed medical journal.

Of course, nothing like this would ever happen in climate research, but pardon me if I don’t automatically genuflect when AGW advocates play the peer-review card.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

What was that they were saying about the science being settled?

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which didn’t seem to mind being seen as the final word on all things climate change, appears to have based some of their conclusions on information taken from the back of a cereal box.

Well, maybe not, but we now know of at least one instance where a major IPCC doomsday prediction was based on information taken not from the vaunted peer-reviewed literature, but rather from an organization whose stock in trade is exaggerating perceived environmental threats.

The Sunday Times (UK) reports today:

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.


The New Scientist report was apparently forgotten until 2005 when WWF cited it in a report called An Overview of Glaciers, Glacier Retreat, and Subsequent Impacts in Nepal, India and China. The report credited Hasnain's 1999 interview with the New Scientist. But it was a campaigning report rather than an academic paper so it was not subjected to any formal scientific review. Despite this it rapidly became a key source for the IPCC when Lal and his colleagues came to write the section on the Himalayas.

When finally published, the IPCC report did give its source as the WWF study but went further, suggesting the likelihood of the glaciers melting was "very high". The IPCC defines this as having a probability of greater than 90%.

The report read: "Glaciers in the Himalaya are receding faster than in any other part of the world and, if the present rate continues, the likelihood of them disappearing by the year 2035 and perhaps sooner is very high if the Earth keeps warming at the current rate."

So the WWF report didn’t even pretend to be an academic paper, but instead was a “campaign” report from start to finish.  Instead of following the trail to the source of the assertion, they swallowed WWF’s interpretation whole, and even went further by assigning a “very high” likelihood that the glacial disappearance would occur in the specified timeframe.  All ultimately based on a speculative remark in a phone conversation.

Given the fact that the IPCC’s conclusions have been used by organizations and governments to pursue a fundamental reordering of civilization, this is negligence and arrogance of the first order.  We skeptics can be forgiven for wondering how much of the IPCC’s assessments are fueled by incompetence or personal biases.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Global warming update

Times Online (UK), January 4:

Arctic air and record snow falls gripped the northern hemisphere today, inflicting hardship and havoc from China, across Russia to Western Europe and over the US plains.

There were few precedents for the global sweep of extreme cold and ice that killed dozens in India, paralysed life in Beijing and threatened the Florida orange crop. Chicagoans sheltered from a potentially killer freeze, Paris endured sunny Siberian cold, Italy dug itself out of snowdrifts and Poland counted at least 13 deaths in record low temperatures of about minus 25C (-13F).

The article goes on with example after example demonstrating that we’re currently experiencing the worst winter in many decades.

The reason? Global warming, of course:

Guo Hu, the head of the Beijing Meteorological Bureau, linked this week’s conditions to unusual atmospheric patterns caused by global warming.

Folks, it doesn’t matter what kind of weather we have — it’s all because of global warming.  No evidence required, because the meme is firmly entrenched.