* Posts by Michael 31

36 posts • joined 31 Aug 2009

'Sunspots drive climate change' theory is result of ancient error

Michael 31

Re: @RIBrsiq

We can do nothing about history - but the rate of CO2 emission has risen exponentially and currently is at around 35 billion tonnnes of CO2 per year. We can choose what to do about that.

Regarding your questions

(a) how much have global temperatures actually risen;

Look at http://www.surfacetemperatures.org/ or http://berkeleyearth.org/

Our best estimates all agree

(b) how much of any rise is properly attributable to anthropic activity (this latter is what the article is about).

Pretty much all of it is attributable to carbon dioxide emissions

The future is always uncertain - but th ebest estimates are that the temperatures will keep rising roughly as they have been.

It seems to me that a precautionary approach should be the minimum response to this.

Michael 31

Re: Deniers?

> Yes, the seas are rising. The overall temperature is rising. But why? There's as many answers as there are factions in the "warmist" camp and each sub-group likes to believe it/s answer is the only one.

The point about carbon dioxide is that is that whil emany factors - solar activity for example, fluctuate the effect of carbon dioxide is one sided. It is also very long lasting: the CO2 we have the atmosphere now will warm us for another hundred years or so. ANd we have a choice about the CO2 we emit - we can change the amount we emit while - if we are smart - retaining our standard of living.

I am not a 'warmist' - I am 'factist' and I hate to come over all 'factinista' on you - but to the best that it can be calculated - what is happening corresponds more or less to what we would expect from a CO2 warmed world.

Scorchio! This June was the sixty-sixth hottest on record

Michael 31

The International Surface Temperature Initiative

My name is MIchael de Podesta andI am a metrologist - actually the person who has made the most accurate temperature measurements in human history - and I sit on the steering for the International Surface Temperature Initiative.

Point 1. All the data is available on line if you want it.


Point 2. The dataset is difficult and the main problems using it are clearing through erroneous files - station records that are duplicated or misidentified. Only after this process can one begin 'homogenising' the data. This is the process of adjusting older data FROM A PARTICULAR WEATHER STATION so that it is fairly comparable with recent data FROM THAT SAME WEATHER STATION. This keeps as many things as possible the same

Point 3. You might think that weather data is very variable - but the statistics deal with the 'monthly means' - the average of 60 max/min readings which reduces the noise by square root 60 and actually data is not too noisy. By averaging these data over a decade or two trends of a small fraction of degree can be clearly seen.

Point 4 The homogenisation process looks for statistically significant 'odd' events. Originally this was done by hand and was very time consuming. Now the Pair-Wise Homogenisation Algorithm (PHA) is used. PHA takes the difference between two nearby (<~100 km) stations - with the expectation that a climate trend will be the same in both stations. By searching through many pairs it is possible to identify and locate anomalies in a particular station. Very great care is taken not to over adjust and PHA has been demonstrated to be conservative - it deliberately doesn't remove the full non-climate effect but it does very reliable detect urban heat islands.

Other teams use other techniques to detect UHIs e.g. - satellite maps of night time illumination.

Point 4. All the analyses - including that from Berkeley Earth Sciences which set out to show how bad the other analyses were - agree with other.

Point 5. The recent readjustment from NOAA NCDC Karl et al resulted in miniscule changes to the modern record but eliminated the hiatus because 10-year trens in climate data are statistically fragile.

Summary: The fact is the data tells us the Earth is warming - and the warming the oceans which cover 2/3 of the planet is very important for the temperature and rainfall for the land. I ask you all to please not impugn scientists who are just doing their best to get at the truth.

'Polar vortex' or not, last month among the warmest Januaries recorded

Michael 31

Thank you for a balanced article.


Thank you for a balanced assessment of the data to date. It is not simple, but overall represents reasons to be concerned.

I really appreciate your simple statements of fact which to me are far more powerful than the rhetorical attacks in the comments.

It comes down to what effect people think the 36 billion tonnes a year of CO2 that we put in the atmosphere is having? The idea that it is having no effect at all is extraordinary unlikely, but I have never heard a 'non-warmists' explanation of what effect they think it is having.

Personally I think 'non-warmists' are really 'non-statist'- they object to the proposed solutions to the climate change problem. That is fair enough - Lewis Page writes clearly on this. But to attack the science and the scientists is unjustified. Anyway, its a slow game and time will tell.

Thanks again


Michael 31

Re: It's not just the money and the funding


Read the IPCC 5th Assessment reports. It is not a whitewash. But there are 36 billion tonnes a year of CO2 entering the atmosphere. Just what effect do you think it is having? None at all?

Michael 31

Re: Doing the Warmist shuffle

Weather forecasting is excellent in the tricky environment of the UK, and Climate Modelling is really easier than weather forecasting. Rain which occurs 12 hours and 100 miles out makes no difference in a Climate Model, but is the difference between a good and a bad forecast.

US Republican enviro-vets: 'Climate change is real. Deal with it'

Michael 31

Re: Whatever.

It is not hubris.

Humans current put 36 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year - about 1% of the total already there. CO2 is in an infrared active gas and it has to be doing >SOMETHING<. It is extremely unlikely that we could put this much infrared-active gas into the atmosphere and it have no effect. You can calculate the likely effects and every calculation from the three line one on the back of an envelope to the results of Earth Simulators predicts pretty much the same - that it should warm the Earth a bit. Why can you not acknowledge this?

And we do understand pretty much most of the factors that have affected climate change historically. It would be nice to have another planet to play with - but actually we only have this one, and personally, I don't want to experiment with it.


Boffins chill out with new temperature measurement

Michael 31

Re: Using the current system

Sadly, this work is unlikely to affect that particular problem.


MIchael de Podesta, lead author.

Michael 31

Re: Something is wrong here

Well spotted: the reference should of course be to the >average< energy of the particle which for ensembles of this magnitude at this density is a well-defined.

Michael de Podesta - lead author

Michael 31

Re: boltzman's constant has *lots* of uses

Thank you John. I am lead author on the paper and you are right. The work itself is like renewing the foundations on a structure - no one notices until they crack! - and the techniques developed are indeed state of the art - let me give you an example.

We measured the speed of sound in a copper resonator about 62 mm in radius - but we determined the average radius with an uncertainty of 2 nm - or about 12 copper atomic layers. We certainly have other ideas about how to exploit this capability.

Anyway: Thanks for your positivity :-)

Michael 31

Re: Definition/Measurement

We can't calculate the temperature of the triple point of water from first principles. Molecular dynamic simulations would only an estimate within about 1 part in 10^4 or about 0.1 K at best. The measurements are at least 1000 times better.


Michael 31

Fair point...

... but actually this stuff does affect day-to-day life: it affects every single temperature measurement made on Earth. The fact you are not aware of any issues simply means the system we have built works well - it is based around international agreements co-ordinated by the International Bureau of Weights and Measures.

This work is simply part of the process of updating an obsolete definition of the unit of temperature. Unlike the SI base units for Mass, Length and Time, when we learned to measure temperature, we didn't know what we were measuring. If we had known then what we know now, we would have defined temperature in terms of molecular energy.

Michael de Podesta, lead author.

Boffins create quantum gas with temperature BELOW absolute zero

Michael 31
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Re: It all depends on how you define temperature

Exactly. Well Said. Thank You.

Temperature only exists as a meaningful concept when a system of particles are at - or very close to - equilibrium.

This experiment is like sticking all your furniture to the ceiling and saying "Hey! I have produced anti-gravity"!


Antarctic ice shelves not melting at all, new field data show

Michael 31

Re: Epic Fail

Your post is too long to reply to in detail.

1. You are right to assert that we have many problems and that looking after ourselves, creating a decent society is plenty for all our economic resources. We don't want to waste money. I agree with you absolutely.

2. But the evidence that Climate Change is real is stronger than you are acknowledging. I recommend looking at the pages for the BErkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) project. Run by Climate Sceptics who openly mocked the first three reconstructions on Earth;s Climate over the last 100 years, they went to town on the problem. They used more data, new averaging algorithms and came up with almost exactly the same result. The person who did this survey (Richard Muller) was not a Climatologist, but a physicist who just wanted to know the answer. Now we do: we have 4 independent analyses that substantially agree. The Earth really does appear to be warming by around 2.9 Celsius a century.

3. Does that mean we have to stop everything else? No. But we should acknowledge reality and make choices in the light of that knowledge.

Best wishes


Michael 31

Re: Epic Fail


Hi. I have done the maths and the physics. I was actually at the top of my Maths and Physics classes in fact. That's how I got my first class degree in Physics and PhD and how I have earned a living for the last 30 years. In fact I did so well the Queen gave me a medal! And your qualification would be...?

I have looked at this area very hard, and the 'botched' 33 degrees Celsius is the very real figure by which the Earth's surface is warmed by our atmosphere

FWIW My field is ultra-precision measurements. I take great care in what I believe and don't believe.

Friend: the times they are a changing. get with it.


Michael 31

Re: Epic Fail

It is the water the vapour that warms the Earth by the additional 31 °C. Without the water vapour, this warming would not take place. Without water vapour the radiative transfer that stabilises the surface temperature would equilibrate at around -18°C. So although the Sun provides the flow of energy, it is fair to say that it is the water vapour which warms the surface of the Earth.

Water vapour can indeed be even more than 4%. But on average it isn't.

The venerable Lewis Page on these pages reported only recently research that estimated that doubling CO2 would 'only' cause warming of 2-ish °C. It could be that low, or it coudl be bigger. If we are lucky, it might be less. But 2 °C per doubling is a big change, because it looks like we will more than double CO2.

I meant 1950 , not 1050. Sorry.

You seem very angry about something. I know the Global Warming situation is alarming but you should consider seeking help for your anger problem


Michael 31

Re: Epic Fail

Water vapour is only a trace gas (~1%) but it warms the Earth by 31 °C!

CO2 is indeed a trace gas in the atmosphere and its effect is less strong than water. But its effect on radiative transfer is very clear. It warms the Earth. It is responsible for around 2 °C of greenhouse warming. This was well understood a century ago, and in fact was the subject of classroom songs for primary children in the 1050s.

Regarding indicators of Climate Change, you are right to be sceptical of sea level data. It is very very difficult to detect. Similarly with the air temperature above the land surface of the Earth, but there the signal is much clearer. If you would like signs of dramatic changes - look at the arctic - at the places where a small warming causes a phase change from ice/water.



Michael 31


I believe all kinds of things, but they don't matter because as a scientist I have to cope with reality of things.

1. Antarctica is warming, but warming from -60 °C to -57°C (for instance) doesn't have much visible effect.

2. You are right to be sceptical, but the data is available for you to examine yourself.

3. Solar out has not changed significantly in the roughly 40 years for which we have half decent records. However we are putting 30 billion tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere every year. This is around 5% of the amount which is already there. The observed effect on the climate is broadly in line with what we would expect.

4. Sunshades and and reflectors are fantasy. Dead crops, and dead people are the frightening possibility.

5. The world has many problems. Life is hard. Climate change is one of those problems and we should address it.

Get real

Michael 31

Epic Fail


You are at it >again<!

1. You are correct, the Antaractic Ice Sheet looks pretty stable. And that is really good news., thank you for passing it on. That is because the Antarctic - by virtue of being surrounded by sea and circumpolar atmospheric and oceanic currents - is massively isolated from the weather and climate systems that transport heat from the equator to the poles.

2. But even there there are signs of warming on the Antarctic peninsula - the bit that reaches northward towards South America. There two gigantic ice shelves disintegrated in a matter of >hours<. Curiously they were also the size of New Jersey. You didn't mention that.

3. But you are looking in the wrong place. The ARCTIC has seen astonishing ice loss and depending on what one believes we can expect the North Pole to be ice free in summer either by the end of the century - worrying - or the end of the decade - terrifying - but hopefully not true.

4. Your contrarian articles about this stuff are as barmy as the articles you mock about 'saving the planet by slimming'. You are like a man standing with your back to your own burning home and commenting 'Well the houses across the street look excellent in this eerie yellow glow.

Get rational: We really do have something to be concerned about.



Fatties are 'destroying the world'

Michael 31
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Well said..


Well said

That's all

Ten... Qwerty mobiles

Michael 31
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Samsung phone is literally useless

Bought the Samsung phone for my son. He keeps it in his pocket with the keyboard locked. When I ring him it instantly unlocks and answers the call, but he doesn't know the phone has rung. Basically, I cannot call him. Mmmm, but t can listen to his conversations.... so may be not >completely< useless.


The true, tragic cost of British wind power

Michael 31

Re: It's about the money not saving the planet.

Domestic Gas, Oil and Coal are subsidised to the tune of 3.6 BILLION pounds a year by holding VAT artificially low. Wind power subsidies are in the noise compared to this, and they will have a lasting legacy.

Michael 31

Re: Omissions

Regularly? No wind anywhere for one hour every three years. Buy the energy monitor app from the app store and monitor it yourself. Right now Wind is generating 5.2 % of demand. Pretty good.

Michael 31

Reality Check

1. Last year (2011) Wind Generation 5% of UK electricity. This is a pretty substantial contribution. However Coal generation between 40% and 50% - and yes this plant should be shut down and replaced with combined cycle GT. It would make a big difference quickly.

2. Fossil fuel prices are also subsidised by a 5% rate of VAT - this costs us 3.6 BILLION pounds a year. So a hundred million or so for wind seems like a pretty small change.

3. The Global Warming Policy Foundation are not 'independent'. They are frothing-at -the-mouth, flat-earth, climate-change deniers. Their opinions are only worth listening to if you appreciate that their basic assumption is that emitting carbon dioxide is harmless and risk free.

4. Moving from where we are now to where we want to be will be hard. But wind power makes pretty good sense to me as a first step. Follow it up by replacing coal, a tidal barrage on the Severn and even more solar, and we could really begin to move towards sustainable electricity infrastructure. But it will be hard and costly.

Durban failed: Relax, everyone

Michael 31
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...just one little thing wrong with that report

We all know the benefits to be derived in terms of quality of life from emitting burning fossil fuels and emitting CO2 - it is what humans have done since the dawn of time. But Orlowski's report assumes that CO2 emissions have no downside: here Orlowski is unlikely to find science or history as allies: It looks pretty much like the planet is warming at 3-ish °C/century and in around 100 years our children may well not look so kindly on our choices. Just like free market economics and indebtedness wrecked the real economy - so free market environmental policy is unlikely to benefit our real environment.

Can general relativity explain the OPERA neutrino result?

Michael 31

They monitored the distance continuously

They monitored the distance continuously and saw drifts due to various sources including a 7 centimetre jump after the L'Aquilla earthquake

Michael 31

Remember 1987

When supernova 1987a was observed in 1987 the visible signal and the neutrino arrived close enough together to establish that the neutrinos were travelling within 1 part in 10^9 of the speed of light. i.e. the signals peaked within about one hour of each other on a transit time of 160,000 years.


Now admittedly these were electron neutrinos not tau neutrinos (at birth anyway) . And also If neutrinos travelled 1 part in 10^5 faster the neutrino peak would have been1.6 years in advance of the light and so might not have been noticed. But observations such as this should make us look at the OPERA experiment sceptically. It's a really ambitious measurement. They fired 10^20 neutrinos over 3 years but only observed 16,000 events - i.e. they only observed 1 in every thousand million, million neutrinos. That makes it tough to do timing! Establishing the timing and distance are both very difficult and despite their extensive checks, a small error is entirely possible.

AMD spills secret to World Record clock speed

Michael 31

Strange thing

It's strange that the article says that they couldn't measure the temperature below 77 K. Its not very difficult. There are specialised diodes, thermocouples, or for £10 one can buy a platinum resistance thermometer which will work to below 20 K.

They should ask some one in a University physics department, NIST, or NPL for help

Green energy and jobs will cripple the UK economy

Michael 31
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...is a pernicious ultra-right wing group in favour, amongst other things, of shale oil extraction throughout the UK - a technology which demonstrably pollutes water supplies and causes earthquakes.


The reason for their bizarre stance is that they (like Andrew Orlowski) point blank refuse to countenance the idea the massive amounts of CO2 we put into atmosphere could have any negative effect. No one knows for sure what these consequences will be, but there is very good basic science and many experimental findings which support the idea that this CO2 emission will result in great harm in the future over a time span of decades to centuries, a period of time humans have never previously planned over. The GWPF are not climate change skeptics - that insults real skeptics. They are flat-earth climate change possibility deniers.

At the moment renewable energy generation costs more than fossil fuel generation and all the things AO reported sound very reasonable. Except that we would be paying these people unemployment benefit if they were not producing green electricity so this saving should be factored in. But in summary: renewable electricity is much harder to generate so it costs more.

What the GWPF and AO fail to realise is that the economics by which they set so much store simply does not value the planet on which we live. To the best of our understanding, the low price allocated to carbon fuels is driving choices which are most likely bad for the planet. For example the CO2 we emit now will warm the planet for hundreds of years - the CO2 emitted in 1900 is still there warming us now. This is something about which they play coy - they deny and obfuscate.

And aside from the possible long term damage, the cheap fuel carbon-culture that the GWPF supports is damaging the planet now in many way. The GWPF object to green energy because the pylons required would affect the view of isolated regions of the UK. Perhaps that is where they have their second homes? Why don't they object to the way oil companies have destroyed areas of the Niger delta or devastated the Gulf of Mexico for a year, or destroyed vast areas of Alberta. All this devastation in the search for cheap fuel.

The GWPF should be renamed the Cheap Energy Foundation because that is what they support: no matter what the cost.

Boffin melds quantum processor with quantum RAM

Michael 31

Quantum Computing will not work (IMHO)

As the article and the first poster eloquently expounded, a successful quantum computation depends on the exact degree of coupling between qubits. 30% or 31% makes a difference! So quantum computers are really analogue computers and this is the reason they will not work. They will be the most sensitive general purpose detectors of 'anything' ever built - and for that reason I think the work is interesting. But IMHO they will never complete any non-trivial calculation.

This opinion has been correct for the last 20 years. I would be delighted to be obliged to change my opinion but I don't see anything happening to make me change it.

And yes I know there quantum error checking circuits available - but they VASTLY enhance the complexity of the circuitry required.


ICO orders release of (mostly useless) weather station data

Michael 31

Land Surface Temperatures


An initiative, largely unfunded at present, has begun with its aim to improve the state of the instrumental land surface temperature record. The new data base will be completely open, and all data traceable to its source. The 'climate community' have gone out of their way to invite temperature metrologists from NIST and NPL (Me) and statisticians to look closely at their work, how the 'data products' are compiled and how they are tested. What more do you expect people to do?

Andrew, Cynicism is an easy stance but actually doesn't reflect the reality that I have experienced in the 9 months I have been working in this area. The possibility of climate change is very real and worth investigating. And yes, people need to do a better job. And they are trying really hard to do just that:


Dr. Michael de Podesta

Eco investors demand (even) more sweeteners for low carbon energy

Michael 31

Economics 101


It would be great if the price we paid for something reflected its true cost. Then we could make rational decisions easily. But the price of extracting fossil fuels does not reflect the cost of using them. To the best of our knowledge, fossil fuels are storing up real problems for our collective futures. Subsidising genuinely renewable electricity generation makes sense if the subsidies are well targeted. Subsidies are never perfect, but they are justifiable in some circumstances. Your tirade and refusal to accept that anything other current market costs is strange in someone as smart as you appear to (otherwise) be.

'Leccy price hike: Greens to blame as well as energy biz

Michael 31

Mistake in your Maths: Conflict with reality

1. Buy a light meter from Maplin and measure it. Over 1100 W/m^2 is available on a sunny day in London.

2. Why? Because one tilts the solar panels to compensate for the latitude.

3. Actually in Summer, solar panels work better in the UK than they EVER do at the Equator: day length beats angle.

Michael 31

Solar PV: Be surprised

Q1: Where on Earth does the most solar energy fall in one day? That's right, the North and South Poles.

Q2: Does more solar energy per square metre fall on the UK during the summer than EVER reaches the Equator? That's right, yes it does.

In the summer, day length beats latitude.

Subsidising middle class PV-ites is unfair, but so are many subsidies, for farmers for instance. However, these houses then don't need to be supplied with electricity which would otherwise have emitted carbon.

If we want the cheapest electricity possible we should just burn coal and to hell the consequences. if you want to build any kind of sustainable energy infrastructure you have to start somewhere. These policies are imperfect, but they are a step in the right direction.

Making a storage mountain out of a molecule

Michael 31

All Uranium is radioactive

All uranium is radioactive. Depleted uranium has had U-235 removed leaving mainly U-238 which is still radioactive, but not fissile i.e. it can't be used in a bomb.

Other transuranic elements have special magnetic properties. Plutonium would make a great magnet - much stronger than NdFeB - but for some reason the technology has never caught on. Mmmmm.

Feds break Apple's code of App Store silence

Michael 31
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Why is Ted Dziuba so upset?

There are many choices available in this market and Ted is free to choose from anything on offer.

As an outsider it seems to me that the iPhone is a general purpose computing device and as such can be broken really easily by poorly designed software. Also, the phone is not the only component being purchased - the network access is also 'purchased' and much of the value of the phone comes from this access and one way or another it must be paid for . Apple have just crossed the border between a computer company and a consumer electronics manufacturer and they are seeking to make sure that 'product' the provide 'just works' and continues to 'just work'. There are all kinds of things which can impact on that.

For example a VOIP app for iPhone in which the amount paid to the network operator falls below expectations means that - one way or another - the network is overused/underpaid.

There are loads of companies that don't take the care that apple do and -generalising - their products are poorer for it.

I think Ted Dziuba is the failure here - he just wants to rant about something and hint that he could be violent or use rude words. Pathetic.

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