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back to article Amount of ice in Bering Sea reaches all-time record

The amount of floating ice in the Arctic's Bering Sea - which had long been expected to retreat disastrously by climate-Cassandra organisations such as Greenpeace - reached all-time record high levels last month, according to US researchers monitoring the area using satellites. The US National Snow and Ice Data Center announced …

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I love satire

Great satire is when you can't tell that the author is extracting the urine. Good job!

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I love satire truthiness

With Lewis, it seems to be conviction driven reporting rather than satire. If anybody would care to check the bigger picture of arctic sea ice cover as reported by the National Snow and Ice Data Center (reference was conveniently omitted in the article), you'd find that the high Bering sea ice cover is a local phenomenon and has no bearing on the continuous decline of arctic sea ice.

Reality is for whimps, real men know the truth truthiness, it comes from the heart!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I love satire truthiness

Or the continuous increase in Antartic sea ice. But then hippies have never let reality intrude upon faith.

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Re: I love satire truthiness

Why were there two links to Greenpeace statements in this so called article but none to the source of the so called science being discussed? Glad to see Reg have given up on fact altogether in climate reporting and make no pretence of doing anything except going straight for smearing actual science and nature organisations

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Re: I love satire - an alternate reading

You can take the ice report used as the basis for this article (http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/) and do the following:

"Ice arch too thin to hold back sea ice, weakened by Global Warming arch breaks inundating Bearing Strait with excessive ice!"

As plucked straight from arse as is the original Page article.

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FAIL

Re: I love satire - an alternate reading

My thoughts exactly. You can expect more mobile ice to flow downstream when a frozen river thaws in spring, and this transition can be locally catastrophic. Sounds like a temporary local drain blockage, soon overwhelmed by the weight of what follows behind.

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Re: I love satire truthiness

@Tads:

"doing anything except going straight for smearing actual science and nature organisations"

Oh really? This would be the same "science and nature organisation" that had its charitable status in New Zealand revoked on the grounds that it's now nothing more than a political activist marxist/communist front organisation clothing itself in green?

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Re: I love satire truthiness

I don't think your link demonstrates a "continual" decline in ice. It shows more ice in 2012 than in 2007. They're both below the average of 1997-2000, but is this in normal variance and if outside by how much?

That said, I normally agree with Lewis' articles, because as a skeptic of AGW I have a lot of reservations about much climate reportage. But in this case he seems to be pushing the idea that the Earth isn't warming. We pretty much know that the average global temperature has been rising since the start of the Twentieth Century. I'm not fully convinced the main reason is human activity, but the rise is measurable. (Note: Ice may not be the best measure).

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Mushroom

Re: I love satire

So was he "extracting the urine" during those multiple articles he wrote on the Fukushima nuclear disaster, where he kept saying there was nothing to worry about?

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Paris Hilton

Re: I love satire

OBVIOUSLY THERES MORE ICE THATS BECAUSE ITS ALL MELTED YOU IDIOTS

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Re: I love satire truthiness

Me too. You're wrong. http://www.skepticalscience.com/antarctica-gaining-ice.htm.

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Re: I love satire truthiness

To use the author's cowardly nomenclature: Funny you say that boffin. The increase in antarctic sea ice is related not to seawater freezing, but rather to land-ice sliding faster into the sea \ ocean because of increasing amounts of melt underneath the glaciers. The range of ice floats may be expanding, but its thickness is diminishing, in all making the total floating ice volume less.

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Re: I love satire truthiness

It would be hard to find an organisation more damaging to the ecological cause than Greenpeace

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Re: I love satire

0 deaths so far, so how was he wrong again?

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"Show me on the doll where the bad environmentalist touched you."

Someone seems to be on a one-man crusade..

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IT Angle

Re: "Show me on the doll where the bad environmentalist touched you."

Hm yeah. I come to the Reg for IT and tech news. Not sure that I stay for the ill-informed pseudo-scientific ranting hillbilly.

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Re: "Show me on the doll where the bad environmentalist touched you."

Apparently you do stay for the 'ranting hillbilly', otherwise you wouldn't be commenting here. It's almost a parallel to Daily Mail reader rants - substitute "I blame Immigration/Communists/Unions" with "I blame Corporations/Right-Wingers/George Bush....or ranting hillbilly".

Don't get me wrong, I love a good rant too - its good for the soul. I prefer mine to be a little more logical though.

On the subject at hand, I'm bored of offering a balanced opinion as there are a few too many fanatics (mainly on the pro-man-made global warming side) on this subject - I fear being carbon-neutral, CFC/lead free flamed...

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Not on the BBC News

So it can't be true. Can it?

I particularly enjoyed the comment about how records began in 1979. I was only born in 1978 so that means that our entire history of accurate sea ice records is slightly younger than I am. How on earth (sic) are we supposed to make informed decisions as to what the effects of anthropological climate change are, if any, if we have no records other than those produced by proxy?

Personally I think we have reached the point as a species where we recognise our ability to affect our global environment and I don't think we'll ever go back to blythely dumping chemical waste into the oceans etc but we need to take measurements like this as a reminder that we know next to nothing about how the monumentally complex weather systems and temperature controls of our planet work. More study needed and in the meantime, don't be a dick.

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Re: Not on the BBC News

"How on earth (sic) are we supposed to make informed decisions as to what the effects of anthropological climate change are, if any, if we have no records other than those produced by proxy?"

Who says you are supposed to? What you are seeing is what you get. An accelerating decline in arctic sea ice since 1979 which may very well continue - almost certainly if the arctic keeps warming up. Noone knows for sure what will happen as a result. Reassured?

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Re: Not on the BBC News

Say, for example, that sea ice had increased considerably from 1900 to 1979 but nobody was measuring it; then in 1979 we started measuring and the sea ice started to melt in an, oh, I don't know, cycle maybe? We would only know about the decline and not the previous increase and so our view that "Sea ice is decreasing year on year" would be an accurate albeit flawed diagnosis.

Just saying; we know nothing and a little information can be very dangerous.

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"climate-Cassandra organisations "

Not sure if that's an appropriate term for this article: if I remember correctly, Cassandra's curse was that she was right but no one believed her.

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Re: "climate-Cassandra organisations "

So was Chicken Little.

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WTF?

Re: "climate-Cassandra organisations "

So was Chicken Licken!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "climate-Cassandra organisations "

Up/down votes on replies:

"So was Chicken Little" 1 up, 2 down

"So was Chicken Licken!" 2 up, 1 down

my head hurts

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Unhappy

Define 'Amount'.

The surface area of sea ice in the arctic as a whole is below the long term average - as it has been continuously for the last nine years.

http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/sea.ice.anomaly.timeseries.jpg

However, the volume, or mass of arctic sea sea ice is calculated to be equalling last year's all time low for the time of year.

http://psc.apl.washington.edu/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/schweiger/ice_volume/BPIOMASIceVolumeAnomalyCurrentV2_CY.png?%3C?php%20echo%20time%28%29?

If this trend in the rate of melting continues, we will sea the Arctic completely ice free at its summer minimum before the end of this decade, possibly even in September 2015.

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Go

Re: Define 'Amount'.

Awesome! So I can pack my swimsuit and surfboard when I go to Alaska :-)

I always hear how it's getting warmer, but it isn't. Still freezing frikkin' cold -- and it's APRIL! 'Bout time this planet did something sensible.

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Oh noes!

Someone has ruined Page's Don Quixote crusade with an actual fact.

And if anyone wants to read real science instead of mouthy juvenilia, there's this:

http://www.beringclimate.noaa.gov/essays_mcnutt.html

People of Science Clue already realise the ice comes and goes.

But - as you correctly point out - it's the long term trend that matters, not a one-off spot measurement.

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Re: Define 'Amount'.

where do you live son?

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Re: Oh noes!

I'd say the younin's post above trumps yours: If the so-called record has less years than I do for something that supposedly has a several thousands (millions?) year cycle, it doesn't mean shit because it isn't long enough compared to the wavelength.

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Anonymous Coward

Is the tide turning?????

I consider myself a skeptic, based entirely on the fact that it's far easier to be a skeptic than get the bus. However, it seems to me (the casual, stupid observer) that the environmental argument is "softening". Not going away, not that recycling isn't a good thing, but that this isn't the end of the earth in our lifetime story it once was.

Now, if it isn't the massive risk it was made out to be, and Governments have taken billions in environmental taxes that were perhaps without substance. What should be done? Will we every know? Will in the next 20 or 30 years we be able to definitively say "yep, they were right, we're screwed" or the opposite?

I ponder the above as I genuinely don't know, not to cause a flame war.

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Re: Is the tide turning?????

No you are being misled. Arctic sea ice is in decline and concerns about it are well founded.

The best depiction of what is actually happening to arctic sea ice is the following graph:

http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/arctic.sea.ice.interactive.html

Notice how far sea ice area has dropped in summer in recent years and how close it is now to the zero mark. The loss of ice is a state change. A barrier of ice at the surface has a big impact on absorbed/reflected sunlight, wave heights, evaporation and heat exchange between the ocean and atmosphere. It is a big deal for the summer arctic to switch from largely ice covered to largely ice free in a matter of decades.

Compare that to the Antarctic situation:

http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/antarctic.sea.ice.interactive.html

It is a ludicrous strawman of this article that the Antarctic increase (can you see it in that graph?) "cancels" out the arctic summer decrease. First it isn't true, second whatever happens in Antarctica does not alter the significance of what is happening in the arctic and that summer sea ice is heading towards zero (even accelerating)

The register article also focuses on a maximum during the dead of "winter", which completely ignores the issue of summer loss approaching zero (in fact even winter sea ice area is trending downwards - but it's summer that is heading somewhere new - zero). In fact the article uses various other tricks to ignore that, including addressing an obscure greenpeace statement from 1999 and associating any concern with arctic sea ice with that statement - so if that statement is wrong clearly there isn't a problem right?

Third, one single year doesn't make a trend. Focusing on the current sea ice anomaly when it goes somewhat higher than normal is a common climate skeptic trick. Sea ice anomaly bounces around all the time. Every year it goes above normal at some point (but that's becoming less frequent). When it does a number of climate skeptics exploit that to trick the public with claims like "arctic ice now recovered to normal levels" or "despite fears arctic ice is at the same level it was 20 years ago". Yet the longterm trend is downwards. They ignore that by cherrypicking single dates.

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Re: Is the tide turning?????

Hope this isn't a silly question, but is zero ice really a significant state change?

Your point is that declining ice produces positive feedback (there is more sea, which absorbs more heat rather than reflecting it like ice does). There is less and less ice, then at some point there is no ice at some point in the year.

At that point, in sea level terms, things stop getting any worse. Sure the ice can decline further (no ice for one month each year, no ice for three months each year ...). And that might lead to bigger storms to exacerbate the problems with sea levels.

But in this continuous decline, what is so special about the point when the ice disappears? It's just a point on a curve, not a step change.

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Re: Is the tide turning?????

no it's not a silly question, I think you are right - there's nothing special about any particular point, just the difference between the two extremes. I am not saying catastrophe will unfold just that it's a massive change for the arctic environment and very fast. It could have very big significance for weather in the UK during summer. I don't know. But articles like this pretending that it's just some non-event are kind of in denial.

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Re: Is the tide turning?????

Thanks for the data. Looking at the 2 graphs you link to, there is a general 30-year trend to less ice especially in the north. Besides the fact that the graphs aren't the easiest to read, it seems to me there is a general trend over the last 3-5 years of less ice in the north and more in the south. Of course 1 year, or even 3 years do not make a trend but 3 years is 10% of the data set. So I agree it's worrying for now but we really should be worried if the summer 2012 ice extent in the north goes below the summer 2011.

It would be more interesting to me to hear if there is any known mechanism why ice formation should be shifting to the south, rather than arguing about whether the south pole gain compensates for the north pole loss. Is there any model / mechanism that explains this?

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Re: Is the tide turning?????

"but that this isn't the end of the earth in our lifetime story it once was."

Look this sort of comment really pisses me off, sorry but it does. (actually not really sorry, just said that cause deep down somewhere I am nice person). The WORLD was never going to come to an end, it probably won't come to an end until the sun reaches its red giant stage and melts it like a snowflake, the end of the human race may come much sooner, but even so that doesn't mean the end of all life on Earth by a long shot, it will go happily on its ways sans humans and just a few slowly decaying ruins for future evolved intelligent life forms to ponder, thats if the ruins last that long. Give it a million years and plate tectonics and subduction will take care of that as well.

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Re: Is the tide turning?????

The arctic decline and antarctic increase are not thought to be connected. At least I haven't read of any attempt to connect them. Around the antarctic peninsula which has warmed significantly the sea ice has actually declined, it is around the rest of antarctica it has increased so maybe those areas have cooled - I don't know, but I doubt it because if there was an easy explaination there wouldn't be two other hypotheses I have heard. One that wind circulation changes are responsible and another that fresh water increase from the antarctic ice sheet is lowering salinity in the area which reduces the freezing point enabling more ice. I don't buy either really.

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Re: Is the tide turning?????

I don't know the details of the data, but the hypothesized mechanism for warming leading to ice cap growth is that warmer (offshore) water puts more water vapor into the air, and as long as the antarctic proper is cold enough to squeeze that water vapor out again, you get a local increase in ice cap volume. Deposit more than melts/runs off the edges, and you get a net increase. No big mystery, and no big gotcha -- climate scientists were writing about this in papers written decades ago. The arctic is a lot closer (warmer) to freezing than the antarctic, so there warming can lead to shrinkage instead.

A recent hypothesis (supported by simulation) links a decrease in arctic ice (and a warmer arctic) to the weird weather we've had lately: http://earlywarn.blogspot.com/2012/04/slowing-rossby-waves-leading-to-extreme.html

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Boffin

Re: Is the tide turning?????

Thanks for the factual data.

So if you ignore the datapoints from the last 5 years, it looks like the Arctic will be molten in september in 81 years, and if you include them (they seem a lot lower though) then it will be molten in september in 37 years.

Unless the last 5 years points are indicative of an acceleration (North Siberian fart-gas clathrates?).

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Re: Is the tide turning????? @NomNomNom

The loss of permanent icecaps is significant: It signals the end of the current Ice age and the return to a temperate age.

Nothing wrong with that, on a planetary scale. Possibly disastrous for us as a species, if we don't adapt quickly enough, but probability is we'll have a chance to adapt and evolve (and so prove evolution is real). This is nature, after all, and nature likes change.

Thing is: We don't know for sure what will happen or what to expect at the end of an Ice age as there's very little evidence (other than fossils and soil layers, and we're guessing at what most of those actually mean). As an environmentalist friend said: When looking at the planet's history, we've the equivalent of a can of Coke, a crisp packet and some peanuts to go by, and we're guessing that's what we've got as we can't read the writing.

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Boffin

Albedo

I think it has to do with something called our planet's "albedo": http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albedo . IANAP, but see if this makes sense:

Ice and snow reflect a lot of visible sunlight (i.e. they are white), not sure about the infrared absorption. Ocean looks dark if you look from above because all the plants (seaweed, algae) that live in its top layer try to absorb as much of the visible light as they can to grow. I bet it absorbs almost all of the infrared that falls on it, as well.

I realize that IR and visible absorption have not much to do with each other, but assuming the IR absorption stays the same whether the Arctic is molten or not, and the visible absorption doubles (albedo halved from snow to seawater), that would still mean that the Arctic ocean area would warm a fraction faster (fraction determined by visible irradiation / ( visible + IR ) irradiation ).

Or am I making an error somewhere?

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Re: Is the tide turning?????

In fact scientists and energy organisations are saying Global Warming is tracking far worse than we had hoped and anticipated. Dangerous warming happens between 2-4 degrees and we were hoping to peg it to 2-3. Now it seems we're on track for 5 or 6 minimum which is in the catastrophic range. Softening LOL, we only wish. Kiss your precious economies goodbye, most economic projections of 4 degrees are not compatible with organised let alone "free" markets.

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Re: Is the tide turning?????

I wouldn't go that far yet. The True-Believers won't let Real Facts(tm) get in the way of Good Facts(tm) and are continue to become more strident. I hope that also hurts their credibility, but they've already successfully infiltrated too many of weather and environmental sciences to count of the Real Facts(tm) winning out absent articles like the ones Lewis posts.

Since I'm old enough to remember when the hippies were screaming about the coming ice age and how we'd all be out of oil before the end of the 1990s I'm a bit less tractable on this issue than they'd like. I'm all for continuing to study and record, but I really do want the politics out of it (that includes Hansen and Mann who are nothing but flim-flam artists shouting "Back off man, I'm a scientist!").

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Re: but 3 years is 10% of the data set.

The size compared to the data set is irrelevant. The critical point is, how does the data set compare to the natural cycle length? Given that we can't even answer the question "what is the natural cycle length?" all the posturing truly is sound and fury signifying nothing. Which is sort of Lewis's continuing point in these articles.

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Re: I making an error somewhere?

All over the place, so let's start with the simplest one: from the peak of the current ice age, if you halve the amount of snow and ice on the planet you don't get a 50% drop in the albedo, because at most you've got about 32% of the surface of the Earth covered with ice. Then you factor in that clouds actually account for more albedo than ice, and ...

Yeah, it will contribute somewhere, but they don't even know how the primaries in front of it factor into driving the thing.

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Devil

Are you a scientist?

So, NomNomNom you must be some kind of scientist, or perhaps you know how to use a search engine. Until the governments of the world agree to fund an INDEPENDENT study of the world's climate then may I suggest that the climate change advocates need to ask themselves a simple question. That is, should we spend billions, of whatever currency you prefer, on trying to prevent or capture carbon emissions, or should we let plants continue to do their job and spend the money on improving life for those with no reliable source of food, water or shelter?

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Re: Is the tide turning?????

>At that point, in sea level terms, things stop getting any worse.

(I think)Actually at that point the sea level stop getting any better.(ice is less dense so less ice = more dense water = lower sea levels). The problem is ice that is not floating in the sea but is on land. As the planet warms up more of that melts.

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It really doesn't matter!

Seriously!

The Earth's population is increasing.

It is increasing in regions where for some reason, humans are poorer.

In order to come out of poverty and feed themselves, populations need to spend MORE energy.

The ONLY way we have of producing energy right now, and for the foreseeable future, causes what alarmists call...evil poisonous greenhouse gases.

NOBODY ON THIS PLANET WILL EVER BE ABLE TO CONVINCE THESE FOLKS THAT DYING OF HUNGER OR FREEZING TO DEATH IS BETTER THAN THE EARTH GETTING A BIT WARMER.

You give them a choice between a dying polar bear, and dying themselves... they will pick the bear every single time...

What I'm saying here is... Weather on not MAN is responsible for some of the Earth's warming is completely moot unless you propose a REALISTIC way of coping with that "problem".

And so far I have not heard of a practical, realistic, applicable REAL solution to this "problem" proposed by ANYONE that would not kill off a % of the population and send the rest back to the freakin'stone age.

THAT is your problem right there! NOT the skeptics, NOT the oil companies, NOT the Chinese...

You find a PRACTICLE solution... people WILL be willing to apply it.

You ask for people to make MASSIVE changes and EXTREME sacrifices... you BETTER freakin have PROOF that they themselves are going to DIE. Proof beyond computer models that cant even go back in time a few years with any accuracy, beyond petty, lying, self aggrandising, egomaniacal "scientists", beyond theoretical studies.... PROOF.

(Glaciers have been retreating for 10000 years... they are not proof)

At this moment... you have NO proof... you have what you call "overwhelming" evidence... NOT ENOUGH.

And it all doesn't matter.

Working on a problem is useless unless you have a solution.

You have not proven that there is a problem, you are just pretty sure there is one... and you have NO solution... NONE.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Is the tide turning?????

So your big puffy chest macho problem is I said "the end of life" and not the "end of human life"?

Wow, lay off the coffee.

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Trollface

Damn that unpredictable climate -

It's ruined all our nice predictions! How will we get money now?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Damn that unpredictable climate -

I can tell you're not a scientist..

Blame the flawed calculations on not having enough money to correctly design your models and not having enough compute power to run them.

Trebles all round.

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