MUST LISTEN: Lord Oxburgh speaks on climate and Climategate


Lord Ron Oxburgh

Lord Oxburgh is in Queensland for the 34th International Geological Congress and granted a 20 minute audience to ABC host Steve Austin. Oxburgh’s inquiry into the Climategate affair was superficial and failed to ask the right questions of the right people. It was also hopelessly biased, and allowed the “accused” to select the “evidence” on which the inquiry was based.

Andrew Montford’s review of the inquiries (PDF here) concluded:

The Scientific Assessment Panel headed by Lord Oxburgh was chosen so that only a minority of members could be expected to look at the evidence with ‘questioning objectivity’. Despite their claim to the contrary, the research papers the panel examined were not selected “on the advice of the Royal Society.” They were, in reality, selected by UEA itself and were apparently approved by its director, Professor Phil Jones. The papers examined avoided most of the key criticisms of CRU scientists’ published work and all of the criticisms relating to their involvement in IPCC report. No records were kept of interviews and important papers have been destroyed.

Oxburgh himself was compromised from the outset, being president of the Carbon Capture and Storage Association and chairman of a company involved in construction and operation of windfarms. This obvious conflict of interest didn’t trouble Oxburgh clearly. I wonder if the same blind eye would have been turned if he was chairman of a fossil fuel company.

That said, he had some interesting things to say on a variety of subjects and I highly recommend listening to the whole interview here. I have transcribed some key sections below.

On Climategate:

“Most of the allegations that had been made basically by bloggers and others against the UEA, certainly against their honesty and reputation, were really unfounded.”

“[Scientists] were like rabbits in the headlights and they did some stupid things, but they weren’t dishonest and really anything that happened then didn’t reflect on the fundamental science of climate change.”

On climate in general:

Austin: You are very worried about climate change – tell me why.

Oxburgh: Well the science is pretty clear, that the things that human beings are doing are likely to be having a big effect on the climate.”

“Doing things about climate change now is equivalent to taking out fire insurance on your house. You hope it’s not going to burn down but it’s smart to be provident.”

On climate models:

“As a modeller myself, the models are only as good as the numbers and the assumptions that you put into them. It isn’t as if there is just one set of models, there are a very very large number of models and they all point in the same direction… is a very strong indicator that they are right.”

Oxburgh and Shell:

Austin: Here you are, the former head of a major oil company and you’re one of the people most worried about climate change.

Oxburgh: Correct.”

On shale gas:

“Gas is the big new kid on the block. You have it in Queensland as coal-bed methane, other parts have it as shale gas. […] The attraction of gas is that it is far less environmentally damaging than coal.”

On fracking:

“Like almost any job it can be done badly or it can be done well and if it’s done badly it can have poor local environmental consequences, but I think done responsibly and sensibly it should be just fine.”

On carbon sequestration:

“There is no doubt that it will work. I can say that categorically. It can be done. […] All of the elements of the process have been established. What hasn’t been done, but which should not present a major problem, is doing these in sequence as a single coherent process. […] The doubts and the questions arise over cost. I think that what you’ve been doing here in Australia with the CCS Institute is a real lesson to the world.”

“Where we really want to see this deployed is in China and India because these are the big burners of coal and we’re talking about the global commons here, doing something for our grandchildren and their children and so on and we need to get the CCS process at a cost which can be afforded in these relatively poor countries.”

On China:

“I think China has as part of its strategy to become the clean tech capital of the world. China is a country with a lot of problems, a third of its population not on mains electricity and extreme poverty, so China is building power stations, dirty power stations by anyone’s standards, because they see this as the path to internal stability.

What they’re doing in parallel, they have the biggest wind turbine industry in the world, they have more wind turbines set up in China, perhaps not all connected to the grid, than any country in the world, obviously they’ve got the solar panel business and I think that they are really pushing to become the clean tech capital of the world. […]

They realise that if everything that the climate scientists predict happens, China will be one of the really big losers and they don’t want that.”

On Peak Oil:

“We’ve got oil around $100 a barrel at the moment, spiking up, spiking down and so on, but I think that the price of oil is likely to rise somewhat, but if the price of oil gets significantly above $100 and looks as if it’s going to stay there, other ways of making oil are going to cut in. For example, you can take natural gas, which is your coal seam gas or gas from any source, and you can actually make a very nice clean liquid from it. The economics of that are quite good – the implications for climate change are not good because it’s a fairly carbon intensive process. […] You may see synthetic oils coming in from other sources as well.

[…]

It looks as if we are going to run out [of oil] gradually, and I say ‘run out’, but perhaps your listeners should appreciate, when an oil company abandons an oil field, in many cases there can be 40 or 50% of the oil still there in place, because it wasn’t worth getting out for the price that they thought they would get for it, so if we become desperate for oil and we can’t find an alternative there are many places you can go back in and actually pull some more out, at enormous cost, but it’s there.”

On biodiesel:

Biodiesel is of local significance and where it’s sensible to produce it locally by all means use it. Crop fuels are not likely to be a global solution simply because plants are very inefficient at the way they use sunlight – about 2% efficiency – and really for this to be a global solution, to transport fuels would just be too area intensive – you just can’t spare the land.”

On ethanol:

It depends how you make ethanol. I said that plants have about 2% efficiency use of sunlight. Sugar cane has 8% and the Brazilians make ethanol from sugar cane and probably you can justify that on environmental grounds, but if you look at the other big source of ethanol, which is for example the United States, where it tends to be made from corn, and where farming subsidies have been used to do this and we have seen corn diverted from human consumption to the production of liquid fuels, I don’t think it makes common sense or environmental sense.”

 

Warmist headbangers go ape over Heartland finance leak


Seems fair, right?

UPDATE 3: See my latest post on this here.

UPDATE 2: Hilarious comment on MeDog’sGlob:

Hank_ – Tue, 2012-02-14 19:00

Could you guys write just one more article about this exposé? Somehow 4 articles in a row just doesn’t seem like enough. thanks…….

UPDATE: The only mainstream media outlet to even cover this non-story so far is The Guardian (natch). The others are the usual rancid Lefty/alarmist blogs, Puff Ho, StinkProgress, Climate Crocks, MeDog’sGlob – get the picture? Although you can bet that Fairfax and the ABC will lap it up if they get wind of it.

Hilarious to watch the ecotards wet themselves because some trivial documents have been released that show an organisation has not been funding alarmists! Shame on them.

The deluded fools think this is some kind of equivalent to Climategate (v1 and v2), which demonstrated widespread scientific fraud, manipulation of data, destruction of emails and avoidance of FOI requests on the part of the consensus boys.

The Cause has sucked up around $70 billion (that’s billion with a “b”) since the global warming gravy train set off about 20 years ago, but despite the obvious hypocrisy, the warm-mongers are outraged, outraged I tell you, that some “deniers” are getting, er, some small change.

Un-Skeptical Pseudo-Science attempts to coin the phrase “Denialgate”… LOL.

Headbanger site DeSmogBlog goes feral:

Internal Heartland Institute strategy and funding documents obtained by DeSmogBlog expose the heart of the climate denial machine – its current plans, many of its funders, and details that confirm what DeSmogBlog and others have reported for years. The heart of the climate denial machine relies on huge corporate and foundation funding from U.S. businesses including Microsoft, Koch Industries, Altria (parent company of Philip Morris) RJR Tobacco and more.

We are releasing the entire trove of documents now to allow crowd-sourcing of the material. Here are a few quick highlights, stay tuned for much more.

Ooh, you little tease! I can’t wait that long!

-Confirmation of exact amounts flowing to certain key climate contrarians.

“funding for high-profile individuals who regularly and publicly counter the alarmist AGW message. At the moment, this funding goes primarily to Craig Idso ($11,600 per month), Fred Singer ($5,000 per month, plus expenses), Robert Carter ($1,667 per month), and a number of other individuals, but we will consider expanding it, if funding can be found.” (link – Webcite)

Wow, $1,667 a month for Bob Carter. Totally outrageous! That’s less than the minimum wage (around $2,500 per month), and maybe pays for his electricity bill. Tom Nelson hits the nail on the head with this headline:

Gore launches $300 million campaign

Former Vice President Al Gore is launching a $300 million, bipartisan campaign to try to push climate change higher on the nation’s political agenda.

The three-year campaign by the Alliance for Climate Protection will begin Wednesday with network television advertising that will include “American Idol” and other non-traditional shows that reach a non-news audience. (source)

Naturally, the hypocrisy of this is totally lost on their addled brains, and the headbangers’ totalitarian mindset dictates that only those who agree with them should be funded, even if it’s a ludicrously tiny amount as revealed here.

Where’s my Big Oil cheque, that’s what I want to know.

By the way, interesting background on MeDog’sGlob here.

Mann's "dirty laundry" – first official email release from UVA


Dirty laundry finally being aired in public

If you have been reading the full collection of 5000+ Climategate 1 and 2 emails, not much of this will be new, however, the fact that an organisation has succeeded in obtaining the release of a selection of these emails through an FOI process must bode well for the release of the remainder.

From the press release:

The selected emails include graphic descriptions of the contempt a small circle of largely taxpayer-funded alarmists held for anyone who followed scientific principles and ended up disagreeing with them. For example, in the fifteenth Petitioners’ Exemplar (PE-15), Mann encourages a boycott of one climate journal and a direct appeal to his friends on the editorial board to have one of the journal’s editors fired for accepting papers that were carefully peer-reviewed and recommended for publication on the basis that the papers dispute Mann’s own work. In PE-38, he states that another well respected journal is “being run by the baddies,” calling them “shills for industry.” In PE-39 Mann calls U.S. Congressmen concerned about how he spent taxpayer money “thugs”.

PE-18, 20 & 27 illustrate the typical fashion with which Mann used a UVa email account to accuse co-authors and other respected scientists of incompetence, berating them in emails copied to colleagues living throughout the world. UVA claims this is somehow exempt from VFOIA as scientific research.

In PE-22, Mann alludes to his “dirty laundry” which cannot come out, requesting his correspondent to not pass the email or the data attached to it to anyone else (UVa has claimed no attachments to any emails were preserved on their system). In this email, Mann admits he has failed to follow the most basic tenet of science, to keep a record of exactly what he did in his research, and thus himself could not reproduce his own results.

PE-24 & 25 characterize the efforts of this small group of academics to hide what they are doing and to avoid their work being held up to inspection under the Freedom of Information Act. In PE-26, Mann goes so far as to ask a federal employee — impossibly, as he send it to an email account subject to the federal FOIA — to “treat this email as confidential” though all the email does is complain about a Wall Street Journal author’s efforts to report the science impeaching Mann’s early work. PE-26, like many other emails UVA wishes to keep secret, is subject to release under the federal FOIA.

These emails, if honestly representative of the entire collection, do not make Virginians proud of having paid Mann’s salary.

“ATI, like Greenpeace and its peers, as well as the media, is committed to using transparency laws to make science and government policy open to the citizens who underwrite it, to the exclusion of properly exempt information such as proprietary material,” said Chris Horner, ATI’s Director of Litigation. “Universities are routinely asked to produce emails under FOIA, and most do so quickly. This has recently been proved true at another Virginia university when the media sought emails of a Mann critic. Why UVA wishes to boast of such outlier status within the academic community makes one ask, ‘what is it they are trying to hide?’” (source, where you can also download the emails)

What indeed. It looks increasingly likely that we will eventually find out.

Climategate 2.0: IPCC bias and defending "The Cause"


PhD attacked

Are you beginning to notice a thread running through the Climategate 2.0 revelations? Several threads, perhaps? Silence dissent, suppress inconvenient data, ad hominem attacks, stifle FOI requests, support “the Cause” at all costs? That’s what happens when you attempt to use science to justify a political agenda in a field as complex as climate change. The pressure to maintain a constant message inevitably conflicts with the spectrum of scientific data on the subject, much of which challenges the assertions of “the Cause”.

Any sceptic who dares to expose the uncertainties risks damaging “the Cause” – which must be avoided at all costs. Hence the distasteful plot to damage the reputation of Patrick Michaels by questioning his PhD, exposed in one of the Climategate 2.0 emails. Michaels writes an open letter to the director of the National Centre for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) :

I’m sure you have seen and discussed with your staff many of the “Climategate” emails released first in November, 2009, and then more recently, earlier this month.

Everyone agrees that the tone and content of many of them is a bit shrill and occasionally intolerant (kind of like University faculty meetings), but there is one repeating thread, by one of your most prestigious employees, Dr. Tom Wigley, that is far beyond the pale of most academic backbiting.

The revoking of my doctorate, the clear objective of Tom’s email, is the professional equivalent of the death penalty. I think it needs to be brought to your attention, because the basic premise underlying his machinations is patently and completely false. Dr Wigley is known as a careful scientist, but he certainly was careless here.

The global circulation of this email has caused unknown damage to my reputation. Also, please note that all communications from Dr. Wigley to his colleagues on this matter were on the NCAR/UCAR server.

The relevant email was sent to Rick Piltz, a UCAR employee at the time, and copied to Michael Mann, Pennsylvania State University, James Hansen and Gavin Schmidt, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, Benjamin Santer, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory,the late Steven Schneider, Stanford University, and several other very prominent climate scientists. The influence of these individuals is manifest and evidence of a very serious attempt to destroy my credential.

What Dr. Wigley wrote to this group of individuals was:

“You may be interesting [sic] in this snippet of information about Pat Michaels. Perhaps the University of Wisconsin ought to open up a public comment period to decide whether Pat Michaels, PhD needs re-assessing?”

As I said, revoking the doctorate of a scientist is the equivalent of imposing a professional death penalty. Unfortunately, Wigley’s rationale for organizing this effort was based upon a pure fabrication. (source)

And as Dr Roy Spencer argues, protecting “the Cause” trumps everything else:

Ever since the first Climategate e-mail release, the public has become increasingly aware that scientists are not unbiased. Of course, most scientists with a long enough history in their fields already knew this (I discussed the issue at length in my first book Climate Confusion), but it took the first round of Climategate e-mails to demonstrate it to the world.

The latest release (Climategate 2.0) not only reveals bias, but also some private doubts among the core scientist faithful about the scientific basis for the IPCC’s policy goals. Yet, the IPCC’s “cause” (Michael Mann’s term) appears to trump all else.

So, when the science doesn’t support The Cause, the faithful turn toward discussions of how to craft a story which minimizes doubt about the IPCC’s findings. 

In the case of global warming research, the alternative (non-consensus) hypothesis that some or most of the climate change we have observed is natural is the one that the IPCC must avoid at all cost. This is why the Hockey Stick was so prized: it was hailed as evidence that humans, not Nature, rule over climate change.

The Climategate 2.0 e-mails show how entrenched this bias has become among the handful of scientists who have been the most willing participants and supporters of The Cause. These scientists only rose to the top because they were willing to actively promote the IPCC’s message with their particular fields of research.

Unfortunately, there is no way to “fix” the IPCC, and there never was. The reason is that its formation over 20 years ago was to support political and energy policy goals, not to search for scientific truth. I know this not only because one of the first IPCC directors told me so, but also because it is the way the IPCC leadership behaves. If you disagree with their interpretation of climate change, you are left out of the IPCC process. They ignore or fight against any evidence which does not support their policy-driven mission, even to the point of pressuring scientific journals not to publish papers which might hurt the IPCC’s efforts.

I believe that most of the hundreds of scientists supporting the IPCC’s efforts are just playing along, assured of continued funding. In my experience, they are either: (1) true believers in The Cause; (2) think we need to get away from using fossil fuels anyway; or (3) rationalize their involvement based upon the non-zero chance of catastrophic climate change. (source)

As I repeat frequently on this blog, I am prepared to accept whatever the science tells us about man’s effect on the climate, but until the integrity of that scientific process is restored, the projections of “the Team” and the IPCC simply cannot be trusted. Climategate 2.0 shows that such integrity is at present sorely lacking.

Media hypocrisy: Wikileaks good, Climategate bad


Double standards...?

More journalistic double standards in our balanced media. Fairfax loves to defend Julian Assange, darling of the Left, for the release of the Wikileaks material, but is far more reticent about defending those who were responsible for the release of the Climategate emails.

Sunday Age editorial, 12 December 2010

Julian Assange and the public’s right to know

WikiLeaks, acting with newspapers around the world including The Age and The Sunday Age, is publishing information that makes governments uncomfortable. This action affirms the role of the media, which have a duty to expose the secret machinations of those who wield power. In the US, the chairman of the Senate homeland security committee, Joe Lieberman, has suggested that because it published some of the leaked information The New York Times might be subject to criminal investigation. This would breach the First Amendment protecting freedom of the press.

So leaks of intelligence that may damage national security is fine, because it is the duty of a journalist to “expose the secret machinations of those who wield power.”

The IPCC and climate scientists around the world also wield power. Lots of it. National governments are on the verge of turning their economies upside down on the basis of the IPCC’s dire predictions for the climate if emissions are not drastically reduced. How would The Age respond to exposing the “secret machinations” of the IPCC? Very differently, of course.

When Climategate 2.0 broke this week, The Age was more interested in the opinion of Phil Jones, one of the alleged “victims” of the leak, rather than staunchly supporting the release of the emails themselves:

The Age, 24 November 2011

Climatologist speaks out after new leak

The British climatologist ensnared in a major new email leak has taken his case to the public, arguing that he and his colleagues’ comments have again been taken out of context.

The University of East Anglia’s Phil Jones was one of the major players in the controversy that erupted two years ago over the publication of emails which caught prominent scientists stonewalling critics and attacking them in sometimes vitriolic terms.

The University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit is one of the world’s leading centres for the study of how world temperatures have varied over time [not any more – Ed], and Jones came under particular scrutiny following the 2009 disclosures – even receiving death threats over allegations that he was a leading a conspiracy to hype the dangers of climate change.

Jones and his colleagues have since been vindicated by a series of independent investigations, but the university’s reputation has been dented by criticism that it refused to share data with sceptics.

Jones said that his “heart did sink a bit” when he heard about the most recent leak, which apparently consists of old messages held back the first time around. (source)

A quick Google search of “Wikileaks” at “site:theage.com.au” produces 15,400 results. A similar search of “Climategate” produces just 330, barely 2% of the coverage given to Wikileaks. Fairfax also invariably refers to the release of the Climategate emails as a “hacking”, in order to taint it with illegality or criminal behaviour. Naturally, Fairfax also avoids giving prominence to the story because it challenges one of their preset agendas, that of the reality of dangerous man-made climate change.

So instead of robustly defending the release of the emails as a “journalistic duty”, Fairfax pens a teary piece about the “victims”, including rehashing the non-story of the “death threats” in order to garner sympathy for the scientists whose confidences have been betrayed. Such a stark contrast.

Climate sensitivity and Climategate 2.0


Climate sensitivity distribution. 3 C is the upper limit (click to enlarge)

Some break this is turning out to be! Climate stories are breaking every day, and they deserve some coverage here. Two articles in The Australian today are of particular interest.

Firstly, the publication of a paper in Science that questions the high-end climate sensitivity probabilities put forward by the IPCC. Remember, climate sensitivity is the KEY question. If the climate isn’t sensitive to CO2, then “man-made global warming” is a non-problem. It’s the fact that the climate models project that there is a real possibility of significant climate sensitivity, leading to substantial and dangerous warming, which is enough, the IPCC would argue, to justify drastic emissions cuts based on the precautionary principle. The problem is that it may not be true:

DRAMATIC forecasts of global warming resulting from a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide have been exaggerated, according to a peer-reviewed study by a team of international researchers.

In the study, published today in the leading journal Science, the researchers found that while rising levels of CO2 would cause climate change, the most severe predictions – some of which were adopted by the UN’s peak climate body in its seminal 2007 report – had been significantly overstated.

The authors used a novel approach based on modelling the effects of reduced CO2 levels on climate, which they compared with proxy-records of conditions during the last glaciation, to infer the effects of doubling CO2 levels.

They concluded that current worst-case scenarios for global warming were exaggerated.

“Now these very large changes (predicted for the coming decades) can be ruled out, and we have some room to breathe and time to figure out solutions to the problem,” the study’s lead author, Andreas Schmittner, an associate professor at Oregon State University, said.

Professor Schmittner said taking his results literally, the IPCC’s average or “expected” value of a 3C average temperature increase for a doubling of CO2 ought to be regarded as an upper limit. (source)

Wait for the warmists to start the smear campaign on that poor guy. And at the same time, more explosive Climategate emails show the extent to which uncertainty was minimised within the climate science community in order to avoid any possible damage to “The Cause”.

In one 2009 email exchange between British government advisers and climate scientists, including Professor Phil Jones from the University of East Anglia who was a key figure in the first Climategate saga, one adviser writes: “I can’t overstate the HUGE amount of political interest in the project as a message that the government can give on climate change to help them tell their story. They want the story to be a very strong one and don’t want to be made to look foolish.” The exchange concerns a project called Weather Generator that forecasts heatwaves and extreme rainfall events across Britain.

In a 2003 email to colleagues, the UEA’s Irene Lorenzoni writes: “I agree with the importance of extreme events as foci for public and governmental opinion.” (source)

Details have also emerged at the close relationship between those scientists and the BBC, confirming suspicions that the UK’s national broadcaster is acting as an environmental activist mouthpiece for climate alarmism:

Yes, glad you stopped this — I was sent it too, and decided to spike it without more ado as pure stream-of-consciousness rubbish. I can well understand your unhappiness at our running the other piece. But we  are constantly being savaged by the loonies for not giving them any coverage at all, especially as you say with the COP in the offing, and being the objective impartial (ho ho) BBC that we are, there is an expectation in some quarters that we will every now and then let them say something. I hope though that the weight of our coverage makes it clear that we think they are talking through their hats. (source)

“The objective impartial (ho ho) BBC”. Nudge nudge, wink wink. Ah, pity the poor Brits paying their TV licences for this kind of disgraceful bias. Little reason to doubt that the ABC is in a similar position – you only need to look at their output on climate matters to see that.

"Marooned!" from Climategate 1.0


I thought I’d repost this image from Climategate 1.0, as it shows what the consensus boys (or, as we should now call them, “the cause”) get up to in their spare time. The filename is “marooned.jpg”. If their climate modelling is anywhere near as awful as their Photoshop skills, it would explain a lot…

Disappointed there's no sequel in CG 2.0

Who can name them all?

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