Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The Climate Change Debate

Today, a huge new wind farm was opened off the coast of North Wales. Now what is one to think about it - in the context of climate change discussion. Over the last few days, such discussion has been transformed, especially in the US. The publication of 'leaked' emails, emanating from Professor Phil Jones' previously hugely influential Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia has exploded into the debate like an Exocet. Prof Jones standing down today has added to the mayhem. Almost the entire 20,000 strong cast of delegates filling the planes which are filling the skies as they head to Copenhagen this coming weekend are trying to play it down. But the sceptical juices of the non participant public is now in full flow.

I've always found this whole debate difficult. Instinctively, I've been on the side of 'believers', but some of the rhetoric seems so 'over-the-top' that 'believer' is no longer a description I'm comfortable with. Much of it does not seem to be based on common sense. In today's Telegraph, Charles Moore reminds us that Gordon Brown thinks we have just a few days to "save the planet". The article is worth reading - because its representative of what is being written all over the world since the leaked emails hit the headlines. Suddenly, Lord Nigel Lawson has the audience he has been striving to find for years. Prince Charles has said something along the same lines as the Prime Minister. I simply do not believe it. And once part of the rhetoric becomes unbelievable, everything is questioned. And then we find out that the data on which much the science is supposed to have been based has been deliberately 'skewed'. There must be a thoroughly and genuinely independent inquiry into what Professor Phil Jones' CRU has been up to.

But back to the turbines off the Rhyl coast. I don't like off shore wind farms at all, but accept them - just as I've come to accept new nuclear power stations. Neither do I object to the huge new development called Gwynt y Mor, off Llandudno. Still do not think onshore turbines are worthwhile though. The landscape damage is too high a price to pay for pathetically little. I wonder how many turbines would be needed to counter the carbon footprint of the Copenhagen Conference - assuming the wind blows all weekend. Maybe Professor Jones can work that one out, while he's on his unexpected extended leave.


konianc said...

The 'global warming' fascist religion is just that.

No basis in fact.

The raw data that the East Anglia 'research' group used to build their computer model has gone walkies - did you know that Glyn? "To save space". Can you believe that? "Please" as one commentator put it when he heard the pathetic excuse.

Their model failed to predict the current cool down - and they have no explaination.

Looks like their model is duff at best, a fraud at worst.

Hot Weather Stuff - said...

Global Warming Theory was based on Lunar Weather Cycles

Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia has ceased functioning as a rational research unit.

In the latest excuse from the group head, "Our computer model works fine - it predicts the weather 100% of the time, just that the predictions are inaccurate 100% of the time."

"Turns out," said one commentator in the know, "That the super computer model was based on lunar weather data."

Group Head of weather research resigns - but only temporarily, "To clear the air", said a brown paper bag (or more accurately a man with his head in a brown paper bag).

The farce is piling up so high it is starting to resemble a pile of brown stuff found on cattle farms.

The Met Office is to be renamed: the Metropolitan Hotel.

"We need to distance ourselves from weather prediction and certainly from East Anglia University," said a face at the office previously known as the Met Office.

JB said...


It's not only the CRU who are embroiled in the debate about questionable analysis, I found this on a popular blog a couple of days ago:

"There is similar issue developing at Queens University Belfast (QUB), where once again global warming alarmist scientists are blocking Freedom of Information requests. QUB is one of the world’s leading centers for tree-ring work, the tree-ring data that QUB has gathered is valuable for studying the global climate during the past 7000 years. For 2 years mathematician Douglas J. Keenan has been battling to get them to release the data unsuccessfully. QUB is throwing up chaff to prevent him having access to the data."

If this data is also proved to be questionable the whole case for 'man-made' global warming will unravell.

In debunking this theory though, we must remember that there is a case for conserving the planet's resources particularly until we find a way to harness nuclear fusion. Your approach would therefore seem, on this basis, to be sensible.

Anonymous said...

"I wonder how many turbines would be needed to counter the carbon footprint of the Copenhagen Conference - assuming the wind blows all weekend"

It won't be wind they're producing, more sort of hot air...couldn't we tap that as a form of thermal energy?

Amanwy said...

Hold on. This is not a question of 'belief', it is a question of evidence.

Are you suggesting that the intenational scientific community, the UN and the IPPC are part of some great conspiracy?

This whole side show reminds me of industry sponsored scpectics who questioned the link between cancer and smoking in the 80s.

alanindyfed said...

Is this hysteria over man's contribution to climate change a vehicle for introducing environmental taxes in order to boost the finances of the Exchequer?
If so, the proponents should be the last to receive invitations to board the Ark.

Glyn Davies said...

koniac - I've read that all these things have happened, which is why we need a genuinely independent inquiry to find out what's true. Suspect data is useless data.

JB - I never trust argument presented in a messianic way, which often applies to the climate change debate. But it seems to me that saving the earth's resourses and mitigation to avoid rapid climate change is the appropriate policy for all governments. Governments cannot act without the support of their populations - and populations will not accept sacrifices without sound evidence.

Amanwy - But it is a matter of belief, which is driven by the evidence - and when the evidence is shown to be suspect, belief falls away. I suppose the whole world's scientific community once thought the evidence pointed to the earth being flat! While I've always thought the 'hockey stick' theory to be fanciful, I also accept that too much scientific opinion is arguing for action on carbon emissions for it to be ignored. If the statements about the world as we know it coming to an end if these huge reductions and budget transfers are not agreed this weekend, we had better prepare for our doom - because I would surprised if there is any binding agreement that will be stuck to.

Alan - Government's raise tax where they expect least resistance. I suppose a genuinely 'green' tax does not raise extra money for spending on non-green budgets and should be balanced by tax reduction elsewhere. In the current economic position, I would personally prefer to see any extra taxation having environmental objectives as well.

sandime said...

Amanwy> yes – the UN is driven by biased and massaged and manipulated reports from ‘research’ groups. The East Anglia University group has done itself no favours by its excuses to keep its raw data secret, the failure of its computer weather prediction model to predict the current cool-down. There is strong evidence in the emails of attempts to frustrate freedom of information requests, and to denounce beforehand the reports and papers from research groups that don’t agree with East Anglia’s view on climate change.
The whole thing is a farce – just like the absolutely stupid argument about not eating meat. Even Al Gore eats meat.

Also, as a scientist myself with quite a bit of experience of running simulations (molecular dynamics and energy minimization) on a supercomputer and knowing some ‘basic chemistry’ (I’m a PhD), I have wondered why Le Chatelier's Principle has been ignored when greenhouse tomato growers intrinsically understand the principle through daily practice even if they don’t’ fully appreciate the scientific principle involved. Supercomputer simulations are inherently inaccurate when key ‘ingredients’ are either left out or massaged to produce a ‘wanted result’.

The levels of approximations involved are so HUGE that the models are inherently inaccurate. Supercomputer simulations of the protein molecules involve simplifications to allow the computer to give an answer in a reasonable time, the simplifications applied to simulating the weather over long periods of time render answers from such models immediately suspect – it is easy to come up with an incorrect answer that suits a viewpoint.

Global warming theory is now so politicized that it is next to useless to base world-policy on models where research groups refuse to hand over the raw data that they are based on – the common use of “confidentiality agreements” between research groups in the global warming community has been routinely used to frustrate release of raw data on which the models are based. What we have now is a disgrace – denying the release of raw data is a disgrace – the global warming community is doing itself no favours in frustrating such requests for information.

Anonymous said...

I have no doubt that some of the data backing the reasons for climate change is questionable but in comparison to the proprtion of questionable data denying it, the % is tiny.
Global warming is happening and almost all climatologists and Governments recognise the links with CO2 production. The speed of change is in question though.

Glyn Davies said...

Anon - That's about my position. I accept that climate change is for real, but I'm not sure about speed of change or to what extent its caused by Man's activities. It does not make that much difference. Even if its entirely 'natural' it would be sensible to mitigate the effects as far as possible - to avoid the human tragedy involved in too rapid change. Thta's always been Lord Lawson's position - I think.