back to article Climategate hits Westminster: MPs spring a surprise

Parliament isn’t the place where climate sceptics go to make friends. Just over a year ago, just three MPs voted against the Climate Act, with 463 supporting it. But events took a surprising turn at Parliament’s first Climategate hearing yesterday. MPs who began by roasting sceptics in a bath of warm sarcasm for half an hour …

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  1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  2. frank ly

    Par For The Course

    ".....Graham Stringer BSc, an analytical chemist and the only scientist on the MPs' committee."

    This does not surprise me at all.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Ian Stewart MP....

    ....'aint a Wigan MP as he's my local MP!

    http://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/ian_stewart/eccles

    But I am not surprised he failed to ask 'proper' questions, he was something of a Government lackey during the Congestion Charge debate back in 2008. I for one am not unhappy his seat is soon to disappear due to boundary changes.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Edit.

      You've corrected that now, lovely....if only we could ship Stewart off to Wigan so easily. Ah well, only a few more weeks left for him whatever the GE result!

  4. Dangermouse

    A few facts, m'lud

    The world hasn't warmed in the last 15 years, the Medival Warm Period was warmer than now, sea ice extent in both poles has not depleted and the glaciers in the Hymalayas ain't going to melt any time soon. The climate is changing, yes. The climate has ALWAYS changed and if cnuts like Brown call me a flat-earther to my face because I might not agree the science is settled just quite yet then they will get their lights punched out.

  5. Maverick
    Thumb Up

    @ moderator

    you shot a troll !

    well done :)

    1. Gordon is not a Moron
      FAIL

      Well done??

      Hardly, if anything the moderation proved the original "troll" correct in his belief that being critcal of climate change sceptics is forbidden in there here parts.

      1. Maverick
        Stop

        The Climate Change Industry

        ah Mr Gordon INAM,

        well it is because we are all TOTALLY sick of being referred to "climate change denyers" . . we just want science not spin, so yes we are highly sceptical that we are having the wool pulled <again> but what is _wrong_ with that?

        If you think I'm wrong, ask anyone seeking research funding . . . and ask them how they have to add a climate change angle to any research to get funding . . . and if they go for the contrary view they'll get b*gger all

        it is about time someone applied the brakes to the massive Climate Change Industry

        1. Gordon is not a Moron

          @Maverick

          You might want to actually read what's infront of you before going off on one.

          As far as I can see, the major problem with the whole Climate gate, is that a group of people got together and collectively decided on a view and then wouldn't allow any discussion or disention from that view. The original troll's opinion was that this the moderator and El Reg are acting in exactly the same way, just with a different view. And it's kind of hard to take the moral high ground when you're rolling around in the mud with everyone else.

          Is man-made global warming real? Well for me the jury is out on that one. Personally I think the real problem facing the West is peak oil \ dwinling fossil fuels. And whilst the current solutions to both man-made global warming (real or not) and peak oil, look roughly the same climate change is far easier to sell to the public. So what we end up with is mixture of "bad" science and "good" politics, with the ends justifying the means.

          But to get rid of the bad science, the whole way science is funded needs to be overhauled. I think Micheal Crichton in "State of Fear", (don't read the story it's awful, but the notes at the back are worth a read), all science funding should be done through blind trusts so that the researches don't pander to thier paymasters

      2. FoolD
        Boffin

        Sceptics

        Would that be because the analytical minds that tend to be found around here parts are, in general, fairly sceptical by nature ?

        Being sceptical is a fundamental requirement for the evolution of science, engineering and IT; assumptions and theories should always be challenged, or else past mistakes would prevent further advances from being made correctly.

        Critising people for being sceptical is neither big nor clever.

    2. Gav

      Facts?

      Facts? Sound like a number of very confident statements unsupported by evidence, but backed up with a threat of violence. Is this what you call science?

      Why are you cutting your analysis off at "the last 15 years". That's a pitifully short period. What happened before that that you'd rather not discuss?

      1. Dangermouse

        Facts...

        These are not "very confident statements unsupported by evidence", but rather are statements that various scientists, Universities and other scientific bodies have made in peer-reviewed papers who are not tainted or corrupted by the IPCC, and even noticed but not mentioned by CRU. Remember the "hide the decline" email. Not, I fancy, a badly worded email by the good Professor as he now states, but rather an admission that in fact the world has not increased in temperature in the last 15 years and he would rather not have the fact in the public view.

        Also, if you read on I am not cutting my analysis off at the last 15 years. The MWP was a little longer than 15 years ago, I think. Hint - check "Medieval" in the dictionary. As for sea ice extent, it has been shown that there has been no decline by satellite analysis and other studies from Universities and the like. None of my statements are by my own judgement as I readily admit I am not a climate scientist, but as already mentioned are views made by people with the relavent letters after their names who ARE in a better position to make such statements.

        And since such people who are making these statements are finally being heard without being shouted down as heretics or deniers, one would have to argue that, in fact, the science is not settled. And, as such, I would prefer that my Government would take an objective view to these issues and establish whether or not climate change is in fact caused by man, and not, say, affected by sunspots and solar flares. It's quite powerful, that big yellow thing in the sky. Notice there again I did not say Climate Change is not happening. Climate Change has been happening way, way before Mankind was a shit-smear upon this planets surface.

        I am all for recyling and generally living better with the environment. Can't argue with that. I would just like not to have Gordon Brown spunk away yet more billions that we as a country can ill afford, taken from us by force and threat of incarceration, based on inconclusive evidence from corrupt institutions. So, yes, when people point blank say "the science is settled" without even acknowleding any other point of view, and call people "flat-earthers" for even daring to entertain other such points of view, it makes me angry.

        You remember Brown shrieking "Fifty days to save the world!!!"? Well, the sun is still rising in my little corner of the planet.

    3. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Dangermouse

      The earth may not have warmed over the last 15 years, it has warmed over the last 16 and the last 14 though, hadn't it?

      Ben Goldacre (Iseem to recall) linked to a good analysis of warming trends and cooling trends, it turns out that it's fairly rare to find a cooling trend over X year periods, in the last 20 or so years, but it's very common to find warming.

      As stated ad infinitum - Weather is not climate.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @ Fraser

        The earth may not have warmed over the last 15 years

        But it has over the last 20000 got quite cool a bit before that as well I believe.

    5. Mike Richards

      Huh?

      Why do you choose 15 years as the point to start of your 'no more warming'? It's wrong anyway - NASA have 2005, 1998, 2002, 2003 and 2004 (in that order) as the warmest years on record,

      The MWP was not warmer than the current period, it was drier and it was a localised effect.

      Sea ice in the Arctic is thinning and diminishing, it is growing in the Antarctic. That doesn't mean Antarctica is cooling, in fact its warming faster than pretty much anywhere on Earth. It does mean the circulation in the Antarctic Ocean is changing and less heat is being convected to the surface because meltwater is diluting the salinity of the surface layers of the ocean, reducing its density.

      So the ice in the Himalayas isn't going as fast as one report says. But the evidence is clear, the vast majority of Himalayan glaciers are retreating.

      Yes the climate has always changed, but its rarely been changing as fast as it is now in human history, and we're particularly vulnerable because we already use so much of the available resources whether that's water, agricultural land or areas built close to the sea.

      1. Daren Nestor

        MWP Localised effect

        I'm curious, really, the MWP affectied "North America, Europe and parts of Asia". While that is not global, it does appear to be most of the northern hemisphere. A rather large area to be described as "local"

      2. R Callan
        FAIL

        Huh! Doh!

        ***It's wrong anyway - NASA have 2005, 1998, 2002, 2003 and 2004 (in that order) as the warmest years on record,***

        NASA of course have records that go all the way back to the Roman Warm Period? Um, no, just for a few of the most recent years. Even the CET record only goes back 260 years, right into the depths of the Little Ice Age. By quoting NASA you are cherry picking as much as the original comment, but you are also arguing from authority which is a common fallacy.

        ***The MWP was not warmer than the current period, it was drier and it was a localised effect.***

        If you can deign to read a "sceptical" site, may I suggest you check out http://www.co2science.org/data/timemap/mwpmap.html to see the studies regarding the MWP. Links are included to at least abstracts of the papers. It looks pretty global to me.

        ***Sea ice in the Arctic is thinning and diminishing,***

        http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2009/06/16/historic-variation-in-arctic-ice-tony-b/ gives a nice overview of historic records. It again may be best to follow the links to the original documents whenever possible. It appears as though the recent ice loss in the Arctic is not unusual or unprecedented.

        ***So the ice in the Himalayas isn't going as fast as one report says. But the evidence is clear, the vast majority of Himalayan glaciers are retreating.***

        A quick search on Himalayan Glacier Retreat and ignoring the IPCC reports but only taking independent specialist reports suggests that although the glaciers may have been retreating since 1850 (about the end of the Little Ice Age) there generally is consensus that there is insufficient evidence to make a statement one way or the other.

        ***Yes the climate has always changed, but its rarely been changing as fast as it is now in human history***

        Implicit in this statement is that climate has previously changed as fast as it is now (assuming that the observed change is not due to some artifact). The question becomes "what caused these obviously non-human climate changes in the past, and why is the present change necessarily human-caused? Without valid answers all we can state is that present climate change is not distinguishable from other natural climate change.

        Science is not about taking an hypothesis and assuming it to be true, but formulating the hypothesis and the trying to disprove it. Failure to disprove the hypothesis strengthens the supposition that it is "correct", but it is still susceptible to being disproved at any time. An hypothesis cannot be "proved" but can be disproved with one contrary observation.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well

    even if the report is a whitewash at the end of the day at least someone is asking the questions we all want asked.

  7. Sir Sham Cad

    Policy based science

    is not science at all.

    The problem is, with no data or methodology to retrospectively peer review, everything these guys have done simply has to be thrown out and the work repeated with proper scientific rigour.

    Sure, have an enquiry, discover the flaws and publically flog them. In the meantime the science needs to be shored up and conclusions drawn again, even if there's no "smoking gun" found one way or the other. Science rarely works like that. We need good data, with sensible conclusions arrived at by correct and rigorous analysis. This is what actual, proper climate scientists all over the world are continuing to do.

    In the meantime the politicians have to be seen to act on the "what if they're right/worst case scenario" because, at worst, we're spending money to improve the environmental impact of our civilisation (a good thing to do anyway, if we get our money's worth. Another subject entirely) and at best we'll be reducing the severity and impact of the upcoming globogeddon and we'll save millions of people, wildlife and fixit-money. And these guys have obviously been working to provide "science" to support the necessary politics. The problem is that they've been taken at their word by the actual science community and we've now set back the science by a significant way.

    Yep. Flog 'em.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Peer Shmeer

    So we admittedly have a peer review where no one has bothered to validate the raw data? If the raw data is incorrect then every assumption based on that data is also incorrect. That being the case, there has been no valid peer review, just some proof reading by a bunch of like minded yes men. It's time to stop this eco-fascism and stop it turning our younger generation into a green version of the Hitler Youth.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Good report

    The best summary I've read on any blog or newspaper website, well done El Reg.

    It's only a matter of time before this gets turned into a West End musical. So who will play the lead role in: Graham Stringer: The Opera?

    1. Richard 39

      Graham Stringer: The Opera?

      Sounds like a prime role for Jerry Springer, or Jeremy Kyle

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      That is what peer review is supposed to be

      You have not been reprimanded for a negative peer review of bad science I guess. Oh, well... we leave to learn. You will learn. Sooner rather than later.

      Anonymous - as one who have learned it... The hard way...

    3. Drunken
      Boffin

      Peer Review is a peer review

      Peer review screens papers for obvious errors, it is very rare for a reviewer to ask for raw data or computer code unless the paper itself seems flawed, then it is likely to be rejected. If the data supplied in the paper is not enough to convince the referees then again the paper is rejected or amended.

      In essence a scientist could make up the data and claim wondrous results, see Jan Hendrik Schön for example. Trust is assumed. But if the claims are too outlandish or cannot be replicated then in time incorrect results will be found out.

      So peer review is not perfect, it's good enough. It is not a guarantee of correctness but more a filter to take out the weakest papers.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Brian Mankin
        WTF?

        I agree with Drunken.

        I agree with Drunken. It's unrealistic to expect climate change scientists to assess the data, methodology and conclusions during peer review. There are much more important things to focus on. For example, is the paper well presented with an attractive font, good use of graphics and the inclusion of juicy quotes for press headlines. These are the things that drive the allocation of government grants, the creation of national and international panels and allocation of places on those panels.

        Data and methodology is for nerds. It's dull. It's dreary. And no-one of consequence is interested in it. Classical science may have been about advancing the sphere of human comprehension but that vision of science is just hopelessly out of date. Modern climate science is a business. The main purpose of a paper is to sell a position. After all, what is the point of spending government money on science when the science produced doesn't have a political application?

        /sarcasm

    4. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects 1
      Pirate

      Me too neither

      Yesterday's article was spot on too. Is the BBC a quango BTW? Not sure.

      Upon this blasted heath you stop our way

      With such prophetic greeting?—Speak, I charge you

      What do you say?—CRU jimmie:

      "I'm afraid he's at a meeting."

      More.

  10. Professor Tinklepants
    Thumb Up

    Nice reporting, but....

    I think writing it as "science", rather than science would be more appropriate in this case.

  11. Neil Gardner
    FAIL

    Boundless Growth

    How dare anyone deny me of god-given right to drive my SUV 40 miles down the motorrway to work every morning, holiday abroad three times a year and purchase groceries trucked in from thousands of miles away. Our high-consumption lifestyle is non-negotiable. Only eco-fascist losers would suggest otherwise. Human beings have no effect on the environment whatsoever. Don't believe all this green propaganda about peak (cheap) oil, expanding deserts, overfishing, contaminated water supplies. I don't know why the US bothered to occupy Iraq as it could easily get all the energy it needs from algae and cold fusion. Indeed I saw a YouTube video by an Americna guy invented a water-powered engine and followed a link from "www dot rense dot com" about an Irish guy who invented a free zeropoint energy machine.

    Anyway back to the grind... I just wish they would widen M25 to 15 lanes and quadruple the capacity of the London underground.

    1. Glesga Snapper
      Stop

      Idiot.

      What the hell are twittering about? No one is suggesting that what you have written above is a good idea.

      The problem comes from a bunch of scientists who have allowed their beliefs get in the way of proper science and have acted in a manner that has now brought disrepute upon their work. Their actions have strengthened the case of the very people that they despise.

    2. The Other Steve
      FAIL

      Bloody hippies

      "Our high-consumption lifestyle is non-negotiable. Only eco-fascist losers would suggest otherwise."

      I'm sure you think your're being sarcastic (and terribly witty to boot, how terrible to be wrong on both counts), but what you say is half correct

      Our lifestyle IS non negotiable. We have clean water, heating, electricity, transport, hospitals. We live in comfort. We aren't going to give that up, and those countries who are not yet fortunate enough to enjoy such conditions are not going to give up aspiring to them.

      Those facts are non negotiable, and any framework for discussion of climate change which fails to recognise that is plain stupid. There's no reason why I shouldn't be able to drive my SUV down the motorway on the school run if I can engineer a solution that means doing so has a minimal impact on AGW or one of many more immediately serious and well understood environmental issues.

      But you don't just hate the impact, you hate the SUV. Just like the fox hunting ban had nothing to do with the fox and everything to do with the hunters, so the Eco facists and hippies have adopted AGW as a stick with which to beat those they feel are making unnaceptable lifestyle choices.

      In the process they are drowning out the discourse of scientifically informed debate (as neatly illustrated by this story) and making the chap on the clapham omnibussuspect that anyone who feels strongly about AGW is probably a bit of a twat.

      But do carry on.

      1. Basic
        Thumb Up

        Well said

        Well said that man - Personally, I probably fall pretty heavily into the "sceptic" camp but I appreciate someone who's willing to separate the cause and effect

        I wholeheartedly agree that we should be trying to build SUVs with zero environmental impact (or as close as possible). I'm less convinced about the seriousness of global warming but certainly accept that more debate is needed - But whatever the truth, Why NOT try to make more eco-friendly products? Just don't twist that to mean we should all live in mud huts...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Joke

      @ Boundless Growth

      Sounds like my diary entry for yesterday.......

  12. Scott 19
    Thumb Down

    I hear

    In the new report they will be putting in the new Gorrilla's album as proof of AGW. Well they've written songs about it so it must be true.

    After that its the age old 'Well its on a t-shirt so it must be true' science, they've just got to print the t-shirts once they get there grant money for the year, see AGW does exsist now give me hundreds of millions of pounds.

  13. Pete 2

    Only one way to go

    they're going to have to wheel Joanna Lumley out.

    MPs are in no position to comprehend or question anything more technical or complex than the Daily Wail's latest rant. Given that the process behind climate change research - if not the science itself has now had doubt cast on it, we'll just have to abandon the principles of research (that's assuming there were any in the first place - which seems to be what this row is all about) and fall back on emotional pleading from a "national treasure" to set our national policy. It worked for the Gurkhas!!

    Let's just abandon the mechanism of reproducible experimentation and independent verification of results and ask a bunch of famous people what they think, and then throw it open to a vote - or better yet: a phone in (might as well make a few bob on the premium rate calls - they might even pay for the inquiry). It might not give us a workable solution, but at least everyone will have had their say.

    Next up, we could sack all the doctors and just ask passers-by what they think our symptoms mean, or ask a bunch of unqualified strangers how to fix the brakes on my car.

  14. Vanir

    Shame

    It is such a shame that science has become so politicised, bureaucratised and religionised.

    The question 'Do you believe in science' sums it up for me: a most oxymoronic question.

    1. Chris Miller

      Reality

      “that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away.” Philip K. Dick

  15. Nigel 11
    Thumb Down

    This man is no scientist.

    > "Why should I make the data available when your aim is to find something wrong with it"

    Because that's exactly how science works. You publish your conclusions along with everything that led you to reach them, and you are scupulously honest about any weaknesses in your data or your argument. If someone doubts your judgement, he can publish his different conclusions, citing your data. Dispassionate onlookers can judge between the opposing viewpoints and the data on which they are based. Other researchers will contribute new data and analyses. And so on. Eventually, the data will be good enough that the argument subsides. The chance of an erroneous conclusion becoming accepted as scientific "fact" is minimized by this process.

    If you say "this is what I think" without providing your evidence, you are showing yourself to be an opinionated bigot rather than a scientist!

    For the record, my take on the global warming argument. I remain unconvinced by the observational data. On the other hand I am a physicist. The physical mechanism for greenhouse warming is proved beyond all reasonable doubt, so an atmosphere with more CO2 in it will trap more solar energy. This cannot but have some effect on climate. The argument and the skepticism is about precisely what effect and on what timescale.

    Also we only have one Earth on which to experiment, and we have to live with the consequences of the atmospheric CO2 enhancement experiment. It's therefore safest to do as much as possible to avoid raising CO2 levels any further.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    It is "Not Another Old University in Cambridge"

    As their recruitment slogan says: "It is "Not Another Old University in Cambridge". Clearly spot on I would say. Scientific methods - we have heard of them.

    It is the university which has produced 4 graduates with degrees that were so incompetent that they could not build an incendiary device even when using instructions from the Internet.

    I have read the Russian report on the Russian part of their data and it makes a truly damning reading about "how to lie with statistics" and "how to fit the dataset to match your agenda". These two by itself are enough for me to question the entire thing and the emails are just an icing on the cake.

    1. GazElm
      Thumb Up

      Hear hear

      I agree with everything you just said.

      I nominate Nigel 11 for the post of chief science advisor.

      1. John H Woods

        Re: Hear, Hear!

        GazElm writes:

        I agree with everything you just said.

        I nominate Nigel 11 for the post of chief science advisor.

        Seconded.

    2. Douglas Lowe

      Show all your workings...

      "I have read the Russian report on the Russian part of their data"

      So, did you read the Russian report critically - checking whether their claims were correct and what impact the supposed errors would have on the data? Or did you accept their claims without question simply because they fitted with your worldview and were written with a little rhetorical flourish?

    3. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects 1
      Alien

      OOPS!

      Sounds like we could use a few more of this kind:

      "It is the university which has produced 4 graduates with degrees that were so incompetent that they could not build an incendiary device even when using instructions from the Internet."

      There is some information I'd rather not have shared. Maybe they chose the professors at that University "with a certain mental inclination" for a reason?

  17. Phil the Geek

    Crossing the great divide

    Phil Jones and his collaborators have crossed the line between Science and Marketing. They have abdicated their position of impartiality and objectivity and instead have been evangelising a meme.

    They might be right, but as with anyone selling something very costly, they must expect to be asked a lot of tough questions.

    1. Tim Parker
      Thumb Up

      Excellent

      A concise, well phrased, impartial and, in my opinion, correct statement that is in all likely-hood wasted on El Reg, and Mr Orlowski in particular, these days.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Wait a minute

    Are you saying that it is surprising that the inquiry started off by grilling the sceptics, and then grilling the mainstream?

    Surely that is the job of an inquiry - grill everyone who comes in front of them. I feel that if it had been the other way around (mainstream first, deniers second) that both sides would still have got an equal grilling. This article suggests that it was unexpected that pertinent questions were asked during an inquiry....

    Then again, with Politics as it is at the moment, maybe that is something.

  19. Gareth Jones 2
    Unhappy

    @ Sir Sham Cad

    "we're spending money to improve the environmental impact of our civilisation (a good thing to do anyway, if we get our money's worth. "

    But we aren't. You can use the IPCCs figures to see temperature rise as a function of CO2 increase (supposing they are correct in their AGW hypothesis). If you work out what temperature rise might be prevented by the full implementation of all of what would have been the Copenhagen commitments, you'll see that it's down in the noise.

    Yet, to stave off a minute amount of (hypothesised) warming we get carbon trading whereby Tata can claim $$$ carbon credits for closing Corus steel and more $$$ for opening a new plant in India. And we get increasing starvation as food crops are diverted to bio-fuels. And you and I get to pay a lot of hard earned cash to do nothing useful.

    I write as someone who used to believe in Al Gore's inconvenient truths and Mann's hockey stick - but when you start to dig you find too many holes and bad science to maintain that belief.

  20. Mike Richards

    Graham Stringer

    The guy calls for scientists to be more open yet on every occasion he voted against opening up Parliament to external scrutiny.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Garbage in - Garbage Out

    Because the climate "scientists" have not done their science or validated the raw data properly, climate change could be better or worse than predicted. How can we know if the science/raw data is bo**ocks. The By brown nosing policticians, they've done world as a whole a disservice.

  22. JeffyPooh Silver badge
    FAIL

    The big mistake...

    Scientists are *supposed* to be skeptical; 24 hours a day. That's their job! When terms such as "climate change skeptic" are used as an insult, and their "beliefs" (!) are questioned, then it's become a religion. Science is *never* a closed case; NEVER! Those caught-up in this scandal are some of the same folks that have moved the issue from science to what amounts to a religion. They should be deeply ashamed.

    Of course, we should still move forward with real action to reduce CO2 (as a risk reduction measure). I'd recommend starting with the 'low hanging fruit' of cement (concrete) plants. They emit huge amounts of CO2 that should be captured. There are known processes to accomplish this, now. One stop shopping for a significant portion of the solution. The inaction on this obvious and relatively cheap first step is criminal. If this isn't being addressed, then why bother with actions that will costs orders of magnitude more per unit change? Look up "Concrete Steps for Climate Change".

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    "Not Another Old University in Cambridge"

    The "Not Another Old University in Cambridge" is Anglia Ruskin University, which has a campus in Cambridge. The university involved in climate research is East Anglia University, which is in Norwich.

  24. lukewarmdog
    Badgers

    Concrete Steps for Climate Change

    Surely something more bio-friendly like steps made from hemp and bamboo would be better.

    Inquiries into scientific blunders shouldn't be hosted by politicians unless they have relevant scientific knowledge. Might as well just invite El Reg posters to submit questions to the panel. Or Paris.. I hear she's really intelligent underneath her normal persona.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    I am amazed at the number of posters

    writing "It's all bollocks but we should do it anyway because it's a good idea."

    I suppose I shouldn't be, but I am.

    And I are only a publik skools graduate from The States.

    1. Wayland Sothcott 1 Bronze badge

      all for a good cause

      It's as if they did the wrong thing for the right reasons. The ends justify the means. But when the means are also being used to justify the ends then you know it's bollox.

  26. Maty

    Where's the A?

    Every time the climate debate, er, heats up, people throw pollution, lifestyles and SUVs into the debate. And there seems to be an assumption that if it can be proven the climate is warming up - that has become more iffy recently - then humans are to blame. But

    Global Warming != Anthropocentric Global Warming (It might be the sun. Has anyone correlated temperature rises on Earth with surface temperatures on the moon and Mars?)

    The current argument runs 'the earth is heating up, cut carbon emissions'. Given that Dr Jones & co have made rather a hash of the first assumption, I'm not looking for definitive proof any time soon that humans in general and carbon in particular are responsible.

    1. Nigel 11

      Good idea, but ...

      Good idea, except we don't have any long-term measurements of either Solar heat output or Martian surface temperatures. (Lunar ones would be useless in any case, because no atmosphere there).

      However, also bear in mind what can easily be proved by physical measurement on a laboratory scale. Greenhouse gases do indubitably trap long-wavelength infra-red radiation. Therefore more CO2 inevitably means that more of the heat absorbed by the Earth's surface during the day, ends up in the atmosphere rather than radiated out into space at night. And a jolly good thing that is so ... were it not for the natural (pre-human) levels of CO2 and CH4 and H2O in the atmosphere, the planet would verge on uninhabitably cold.

      It's easy to calculate the temperature of a dead Earthlike body with an unreactive atmosphere composed entirely of N2 and Argon. It's almost impossible, when you have water vapour (itself a greenhouse gas, but also a source of clouds and surface ice which reflect sunlight), plus biogenic CO2 and CH4 and O2, plus all manner of feedback loops between atmosphere, ocean, geology, and biology on many timescales ranging from days up to tens of millions of years.

      We do have good evidence that for much of recent geological time (~600M years), the planet was both much warmer and had much higher atmospheric CO2 levels. If that isn't a strong hint, I don't know what is. We're evolved for and living in an unusually cool geological era, caused by a continent at one pole and a small nearly land-locked ocean at the other.

  27. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    Scientific method. We've heard of it.

    Conclusions accepted as facts instead of being treated as statements.

    Conclusions without data.

    Data not being released to people because they are trying to argue against those conclusions.

    Data which turn out to be "missing."

    Data in undocumented file formats being processed by programs with unknown command line parameters using undocumented algorithms. See the Harry Read me file for more entertainment.

    Note These are just points of *procedure* , not the *actual* data or *methods* used on them.

    I believe human behavior and numbers have grown to a point where we can influence climate on a global scale (like conductivity, where weather a material is conductor, semi conductor or insulator is set by a fairly small portion of the total electrons). However that is *my* opinion.

    Anyone asking for 100s of *billions* of dollars (which is the sort of global scale expenditure we're talking) had better have something stronger than "their" opinion to bet on.

    Thumbs up for the good work of some MP's and the apparent ability to change their minds on occasions.

  28. Thought About IT
    Go

    The background to all this

    Anybody interested in why the scientists at the CRU behaved the way they did should read the following series of articles by the Australian Clive Hamilton, who is a Professor of Public Ethics:

    * Bullying, lies and the rise of climate denial (www.abc.net.au/unleashed/stories/s2826189.htm)

    * Who is orchestrating the cyber-bullying? (www.abc.net.au/unleashed/stories/s2827047.htm)

    * Think tanks, oil money and black ops (www.abc.net.au/unleashed/stories/s2828195.htm)

    * Manufacturing a scientific scandal (www.abc.net.au/unleashed/stories/s2829295.htm)

    * Who's defending science? (www.abc.net.au/unleashed/stories/s2830890.htm)

    They shed a fascinating light on the matter.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Climate Change Deniers

    Climate change denial is so mainstream that the Telegraph, Daily Mail, Top Gear (on the BBC I hasten to add), Fox News (sponsored by Rupert Murdoch's News International) have promoted it to cult status. I almost think they manipulated both sides setting up Global Warming as a straw man.

    True scientists look at all evidence, irrespective of their prejudices. "The Other Steve" apparently emotionally loves the fruits of technology and bases his conclusion that our current lifestyle is sustainable on mere whim and fancy. Good science investigates the side effects and long-term consequences of technology. Back in the 50s we though nuclear reactors would save the planet. In the late 60s and early 70s we thought we'd colonise the Moon and Mars. Get real. Farming yields have not increased dramatically since the petrochemical fuelled green revolution of the mid 20th century. All those mysterious trillions of barrels of tar sands oil are much harder to extract than cheap Mideast oil. And the favourite of growthists (those who want material at all costs) algae would require huge infrastructure and could have a disasterous effect on fishing. It just aint that easy... I wish technology could come to our rescue. I'm certainly not for going back to the stone age, but technology has limits on a finite planet.

    1. Nigel 11
      Go

      Technology CAN come to the rescue

      We ALREADY have the technology for completely renewable power, namely 20% efficient solar panels. Humanity's entire energy needs could be met by covering a small fraction of the Sahara desert with solar panels, and there are lots more deserts.

      Solar technology is advancing very rapidly. Most recently (in the Reg) was a report that IBM scientists have worked out how to make solar panels entirely using geologically abundant elements in a simple way. (Silicon is vastly abundant, but getting it into ultrapure single-crystal slices adds a lot of cost and complexity. CIGS and CdTe panels are simpler to make, but Tellurium, Gallium and Indium are not abundant).

      The trouble is that economics says it's cheaper to keep burning stuff than use any sort of solar panels, for as long as the unknown long-term consequences of the CO2 emissions are not factored in to the economics.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      You can't make it up

      So basically, Clive Hamilton can't accept that scientists who supported his"side" cheated, bullied, destroyed emails, and acted unethically. He'd already decided this in a book in 2007, so events confirmed his preconceived notions.

      Because Hamilton can't admit his side was wrong, he therefore has to invent a vast global conspiracy involving "Black Ops". Even though he knows that eco causes are far better funded. Greenpeace's annual budget is larger Exxon's ten year PR expenditure on climate change. The carbon market out massive to energy companies, who gain millions from Global Warming.

      http://www.openeurope.org.uk/media-centre/pressrelease.aspx?pressreleaseid=129

      " in December 2009 he was the Greens candidate in the by-election for the federal seat of Higgins"

      http://www.clivehamilton.net.au/cms/index.php?page=About

      You're right, it does shed light on climate change. It shows the "deniers" are not who we thought they were.

      1. Pete 2

        swapping one dictatorship for another

        > covering a small fraction of the Sahara ...

        The problem with Prof. MacKay's proposal (ref. http://www.withouthotair.com/ ) is it's naivety. At present we have a group of oil and gas rich nations which control our energy supplies. All this solution does is move the control from one group who we've spent the best part of 100 years bribing (sorry: building relations with) to a new lot of politically unstable countries which we either bomb the crap out of, or ignore their cries for aid (since they haven't got any oil).

        All that would happen if we (i.e. the rest of the world - as these countries can't afford it themselves) is either they say "thank yo very much - now let's talk about how much you're going to pay us for all this electricity" or we station garrisons and armies near the solar plants to ensure stability: effectively invading these countries and taking their resources - in this case sunlight - just like all colonial powers have done for millenia.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Boffin

      Hopeless case.

      Sounds like you wet the bed at any sign of progress, Mr. Anon. So hold so many superstitions, it's hard to know where to start. One as an example:

      "Farming yields have not increased dramatically since the petrochemical fuelled green revolution of the mid 20th century"

      Farming yields increased most dramatically in the 1960s and 1970s, and that was thanks not to petrochemicals, but to Balag's selective breeding. India and Bangladesh once had famines, by the 1980s it was a exporting grain. Go read something other than a Greeny pamphlet.

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/7449989.stm

      Humans tame the environment and get better yields. We get better at managing nature. Then there's GM crops. But oh, you're feeling damp just thinking about those, aren't you?

      "technology has limits on a finite planet"

      Just like the human body will fall apart if it goes faster than running pace. No, the limits are our own inability to innovate. Limits placed there by the bedwetters, who think anything we do is bad for Gaia.

      It's a good job nobody's listening to you or the Greens. Then we'd really be in trouble.

    4. Snert Lee

      On the other hand...

      If they'd made the data publicly available from the get go, then there'd have been no FOIA requests, and they'd be a darn sight better off than they are now.

      Having lost the data, and the transformations done to it, the results are unrepeatable, and that is not science.

    5. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Happy

      AC@17:47

      "True scientists look at all evidence, irrespective of their prejudices. "

      Agreed. However this does not appear to have been the case in this situation.

      " Good science investigates the side effects and long-term consequences of technology. Back in the 50s we though nuclear reactors would save the planet. "

      AFAIK in the 50's *no* one thought the planet needed saving, except from global nuclear war.

      "In the late 60s and early 70s we thought we'd colonise the Moon and Mars. "

      Not really. The growth of supersonic transports was a bigger belief. With Concorde going through test flights it seemed only a matter of time before either Boeing or Lockeed matched it on the American side.

      "Farming yields have not increased dramatically since the petrochemical fuelled green revolution of the mid 20th century. "

      I think you need to check your facts on that one. There are several forms of genetic engineering, not all connected to global agri-business. They have continued to quietly notch up yields and increase resistance to pests.

      "All those mysterious trillions of barrels of tar sands oil are much harder to extract than cheap Mideast oil."

      You forgot shrubs plan to drill into Alaska, another *very* large deposit.

      I have commented before that *all* oil companies only bother to hold known reserve fields for 10 years supply. It means they don't keep a load of expensive survey vehicles and petro geologists on staff when they don't need to. It also means they can stir a few of those "OMG Oil Co's *only* have enough oil for 10 more years! It's *all* down hill from now. Blah Blah" handy for stoking the oil price, along with leaving several supertankers (fully loaded) at anchor in suitably out of the way places. Outside of military cost plus contract the energy business seems to be the *only* place you can slap *any* price hike on raw materials straight to the consumer, no questions asked.

      " And the favourite of growthists (those who want material at all costs) algae would require huge infrastructure and could have a disasterous effect on fishing. It just aint that easy... "

      IIRC there have been a number of *vast* toxic algae blooms across the world over the years, partly as a result of nitrogen rich (artificial) fertilizer and phosphate rich washing powder run off.

      I'd say it seems easy enough under the *wrong* circumstances. Making it happen in a more controlled way may be more difficult.

      "I wish technology could come to our rescue. I'm certainly not for going back to the stone age, but technology has limits on a finite planet.""

      Depends where you draw the line around the system. Everything on this planet has been re-cycled in one way or another, including every single atom of the bones of your body.

      A lot of that was driven by the huge fusion reactor based 90 million miles from us. Compared to that the amount of energy used by the whole of human civilization, let alone wasted, is only measurable if you have a *lot* of zeros *after* the decimal point, otherwise we'd be in the background noise.

      You might like to recall that the human has access to quite effective carbon dioxide recycling technology already. It takes CO2 from the atmosphere and ground water and converts them into a range complex hydrocarbons using sunlight.

      They're called plants. If you can break down something that stable (CO2 is pretty stable without access to high temps and/or pressures) you have a shot at making pretty much anything else *if* you can figure out how.

  30. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge
    Stop

    Right ...

    ... any intelligent person knows that the phrase "climate change denial" makes as much sense as "diurnal variation denial", and anyone arguing that there isn't day and night would quite correctly be regarded as a loon. Climates change - 15000 years ago my current location would have been under several feet of ice (northern England), just to take a very coarse example.

    The problem I have with the zealots is that I, and others like me, are regarded in the same light as "diurnal variation deniers" because we do not buy into their particular view of climate change, i.e. that it is down to human activity. Since climates changed long before humans evolved, it needs a great deal of hard evidence, which is not forthcoming, to implicate anything so shortly occupying the planet as humans, or, more specifically, industrial humans. I feel that I am being treated as an idiot every time someone comes up with this as "The Reason", because it makes little, if any, sense. Exceptional claims require exceptional evidence, and the evidence for human effects on climate change is far from exceptional.

    There are certainly good reasons for finding other power sources than fossil fuels - if for no other reason than they are not going to be around forever. Also, it is elegant to make things more efficient. However, I know that even if a way of powering industry with no net effect on the environment were to be found, there would still be zealots wanting to restrict it or shut it down. I regard my stance to be one of protecting the world we have built since the Enlightenment against the voice of irrationality.

    Regarding the staff at UEA, they are behaving not as scientists, but as high priests for a belief-system. They seem to think that they are guarding "holy secrets" from "heretics". They should have all funding stopped, and all published papers withdrawn pending proper review. If no evidence for their assertions comes out, they should then be removed from the science faculty, and moved into humanities, along with theology.

  31. Spotthelemon

    Phil Jones' Mistake

    In the past it was not normal practice to put all of ones raw data or ones methodology into the public domain, indeed it was not uncommon to deliberately exclude some information to make it harder for competitors to pinch your work. You did your research, wrote a paper which was then Peer Reviewed. Basically If the reviewers felt your conclusions were not justified by information in your paper they would recommend to the editor that additional information or data needed to be included. I make no great claims for peer review, its just the way things were/are done.

    In recent times "climate change deniers" have changed all that, now if you work in that field, you have be prepared to produce all your raw data, along with precise details of all methodologies & models used. The main (but not only) mistake that Phil Jones made was not to realise that the rules had changed.

    If the case for climate change is to be proved beyond any doubt, it is essential that these new rules are not only used, but embraced in a spirit of complete openness.

    Of course I should add that these “new” rules only apply to “pro climate change” research, I have yet to come across any "climate change deniers" who obey them, their use of data is selective to the point of absurdity, their methodologies in no way deserving of the name and their models are non-existent.

    I don’t include in the term “Climate Change Denier” the relatively small number of scientists who have done "peer reviewed" research which does not reach the same conclusion as the bulk of research in the field nor do I include sceptics, please be sceptical, ask awkward questions, it's part of their job to answer them.

  32. Snert Lee
    Boffin

    Climate changes.

    Climate changes. I don't think anyone really denies this. (Which is what makes the "denialist" label so irksome that it tends to provoke increased response, instead of the "sit down and shut up" reaction that comes from better ad hominem attacks.)

    Why, how much, and will it change back are the real questions, but any answers more refined than lots of reasons, some, and probably open the door to debate.

    No doubt, lots of amazing deductive techniques have been developed in the efforts to document climate history, and in analyzing the components of climate and weather. But for each part so far that's been reduced to something more concrete that statistical probability, there's a glob of iffy speculation gluing it to the next data point in the AGW/sky-is-falling-and-it's-all-our-fault tapestry.

    Proponents of this point of view seem to be willing to gloss over the cumulative effects of serial what-iffing because, hey, if the sky really is falling then it's for our own good, right?

    But, with the advent of An Inconvenient Truth, climate science let the marketing department take over public relations. Instead of duly noting milestones of discovery and understanding, the science was sold, an active campaign to change the average consumer's awareness of, and opinion about, these matters, this global warming, later rebranded to the more flexible climate change.

    Accuracy is not the sales guys' primary concern. They have been known to stretch the truth and exaggerate the occasional embellishment, as long as they make the sell. Or in this case, as long as public opinion is changed. And if they gather agreement by allowing the public to misunderstand, well hey, they didn't lie, exactly, and it's for our own good, isn't it?

    My personal beef with it is that, in the long run, these tactics undermine science, not just climate science, but all science.

    Like most disputes, I am sure it will be easier to resolve by adding more light, not more heat.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    tar sands oil

    "All those mysterious trillions of barrels of tar sands oil are much harder to extract than cheap Mideast oil."

    apparently it takes 1 barrel of oil in to extract 5 barrels out using heat, so still a 5 to 1 ratio, however i find it really weard they throw away masses of heat away directly into the aie in the very same chimneys rather than recycle that heat back into the process to raise the temps needed to reach actraction, see http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00r390p/hd/How_Earth_Made_Us_Human_Planet/

    if our in the uk or have a working proxy cache to use there.

    OC i also wish some global scale OMEs would take the low power tech that exists already and produce a simple self contained Fuel Cell Box http://www.h-tec.com/html/web/weiche/index_en.asp

    on a large scale just big enough to power a generic low power PC, a 32" LCD made from lower power components, and power a few wireless 11n routers etc.

    nothing really special , just go down your local asda or local DIY, stuff them in your out house or garden corner somewere and set it up,plug in a power lead connected to your kit and go.

    also generic PVA and/or other generic mini wind turbines if someone also makes these

    to the universal 12V power standards and id buy one every month or two and add them as required to power MY modest PC tech needs, so why doesnt soem compaies do this at a reasonable price at economic PC kit type scales around the world yet.

  34. Aron
    Megaphone

    UK

    British politics at its finest elitist shit. Been that way since the days of the slave trade and forcing Indians to buy clothes made in Liverpool. Now they want to tell the poorest people to stay poor and live on carbon credits and welfare handouts while the wealthiest get to keep all the energy resources for themselves in the name of saving the effing planet. It's called elitism and imperialism. It has nothing to do with a trace gas.

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge

      AC@22:41

      "apparently it takes 1 barrel of oil in to extract 5 barrels out using heat, so still a 5 to 1 ratio, however i find it really weard they throw away masses of heat away directly into the aie in the very same chimneys rather than recycle that heat back into the process to raise the temps needed to reach actraction, see http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00r390p/hd/How_Earth_Made_Us_Human_Planet/"

      That might be that tar sands tend to be in very cold place with very few people or industries around. Hence, *no* waste heat (which is what I think you mean) to dump into the ground.

      OTOH It might be quite a good app for satellite solar. Pumping heat intermittently into the sand to get it flowing using a very low maintenance supply system. The joker in the pack is the difference between the price of electricity in Vs the price of the barrel of oil out (including the transport cost to get it anywhere it can be used).

      "OC i also wish some global scale OMEs would take the low power tech that exists already and produce a simple self contained Fuel Cell Box http://www.h-tec.com/html/web/weiche/index_en.asp"

      These devices need a supply of Hydrogen, which (as has been pointed out regularly) is *expensive* to make and is normally made from hydrocarbons in an energy *intensive* process. It *could* be made by electrolysis but it is not. It's a real PITA to store and transport. Voller in the UK built a number and went on to build Kw sized units to run on Propane (for temporary on site work cabins). They have gone into receivership. It's not quite as simple as you think. You'd get as good a result if you ran your personal waste through an anaerobic digester and fed the Methane mix to a generator.

      <further wish list>

      Some of this stuff is already available. However as El Reg has reported small urban wind turbines are a *complete* was of time.

      You might care to visit this site

      http://www.withouthotair.com/

      for some actual *facts* and figures on the scale of the problem. I've no idea what an OME or a PCA is but I'm pretty sure at least one of them is a spelling error.

      Handy hint. Whatever bright idea you come up with has *almost* certainly been thought of before. Several times. Before sharing you might like to look it up first and see what happened.

  35. Alfie Noakes
    Happy

    Does this mean...

    ...that i can have all of my incandescent light bulbs back then, thank you, please?

  36. MattW

    Good summary

    Nice write-up Andrew.

    Thank God for Stringer.

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