Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Aerosols or natural variability ?

A second paper authored by Thompson, Wallace, Kennedy and Jones, focused on quirks of the global temperature record in the 20th century has appeared in Nature. As the first paper, it carries the rather humdrum title, An abrupt drop in Northern Hemisphere sea surface temperature around 1970, but after reading it it seems to me that it contains quite explosive material.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Rob Maris: Skeptics Survey launched

A discussion in the posting „Das ist eine Verrohung des intellektuellen Niveaus“ from August, 3rd marked the birth of a new idea for a survey. There is big uncertainty about the scene of skeptics. We would like to know more about their motivation, to be precise: what do they think, how did they get to „skeptics", etc.
The survey has been set up by Rob Maris with the help of some skeptics, with grateful thanks to Peter Heller who contributed to the above mentioned discussion, and now contributed to the survey formulation.

The survey starts with some simple questions in order to get some general information. The core of the survey is represented by subsequent questions related to statements, issues and resources in the „climatosphere". There are ten questions, and the estimated time should be approx. 10 minutes to fill out the survey. The survey runs from today until Monday, October 11th (inclusive). Non-skeptics are asked to refrain from answering the survey: it is for "skeptics only".

The survey runs on a separate site. After expiry, the results will be summarized here, and detail statistics will be available on the survey site.

Friday, September 24, 2010

CliSci Survey - results documented

The results of the latest survey CLISCI by Dennis Bray and Hans von Storch among international climate scientists are now documented in GKSS-Report 2010/9: CliSci2008: A Survey of the Perspectives of Climate Scientists Concerning Climate Science and Climate Change. Results are also available for earlier similar surveys in 1996 and 2003 are documented in GKSS Report 2007/11.

Dennis Bray has published several minor analyses with these data on this weblog.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Marcel Severijnen: Dutch practicality or soberness: the Deltaprogramme

In september 2008 the Dutch Deltacommissie (chair Prof. Veerman) published her view on how to deal with expected effects of climate change. The report (full or summary) while keeping sustainability as guidance, focused on safety levels, and some proposed measures.

Most attention was drawn towards the protection against higher levels of the Northsea, Ijsselmeer and major rivers like Rhine and Meuse. The commission estimated a 130 cm sea level rise at the end of the century, and the level for 2200 reached almost Al Gore’s values. It was the result of worst case scenario’s as elaborated in appendix 3 of the report.

The Deltacommissie was supported for this item by a group of 24 international experts who prepared an advice according to worst case conditions. Among them scientists of German origin: Sterl (KNMI-NL), Plag (Uni Nevada), Rahmstorf (PIK-Potsdam), von Storch and Weisse (GKSS). The commission’s estimate of sea level rise was presented without informing the international working group, and soon protest was heard from members of the group and from sceptic blogs, calling the estimate as too exaggerated. This was certainly meant to shock the nation, and surely helped to attain political support for funding the adviced measures.

Now, two years later, a first Delta Programme drawn up by Deltacommissioner Wim Kuijken is presented to the Lower House. This programme is the government’s response to the report of the Deltacommissie of 2008. Citation from the press release: “As proposed by the Delta Commissioner, this ‘new-style Delta Plan’ was drawn up using Dutch level-headedness. It is based on measurements and the 2006 scenarios of the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI). The programme is founded on a safe and flexible approach. The Delta Programme contains measures to secure the safety of our delta in the near future and offers a basis for preparing for the future.” (bold added).

Deltacommissioner Kuijken explained this soberness in an interview in NRC of september 21 and 22 (subscription needed):
We don’t want to start from extreme scenario’s for climate change and sea level rise, but from KNMI’s scenario’s (which levels are significant lower). Starting from actual knowledge and taking measures gradually like roofing tiles for the further future.” And: “Let’s at first try to reach our actual safety levels” Kuijken defines this sober approach as adaptive deltamanagement.
It seems that soberness and practicality has landed at last.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Discourse madness

Harald Welzer did a lot of research on racism and violence; he is also the author of the book 'Klimakriege'. In zeit-online, he is interviewed as an expert on the recent debate about Thilo Sarrazin, who wrote a much debated book about the alleged dangers of Muslim immigration for Germany ("Deutschland schafft sich ab"). Welzer (and many others) blames Sarrazin to make use of racist or eugenic arguments. Welzer argues that bringing the "jewish genes" into play, as Sarrazin does, disqualifies the book for public discussion. He goes on saying that discussing immigration issues under these premises is the same as discussing with holocaust deniers or climate skeptics - it is impossible to do so. Here the quote in German:

Sunday, September 19, 2010

hans von Storch: Critical questions of a theoretical physicist

Note, this thread is in English - the background, with which this thread begins, is an exchange in German.

In the Spektrumdirekt-Interview Wir müssen die Herausforderung durch die Skeptiker annehmen by Daniel Lingenhöhl, published 30. Juli 2010, I had said:"Wir müssen die Herausforderung durch die Skeptiker annehmen und in die Auseinandersetzung mit ihnen einsteigen, um sie zu gewinnen. Viele Physiker, Chemiker, Ingenieure oder Geologen haben offene Fragen zum Klimawandel, die sie noch nicht beantwortet sehen. Hier ist ein erhebliches und sehr berechtigtes Fragepotenzial vorhanden, auf das leider zu selten eingegangen wird. Stattdessen werden sie teilweise als Skeptiker beschimpft, was sie verärgert. Dadurch bauen wir kein Vertrauen auf. Wir müssen zu einer anständigen Gesprächskultur zurückkommen..

Werner Weber, Chair of Theoretische Physik II at TU Dortmund, has responded to this assertion. He wrote
"Ich kann relativ leicht querbeet durch das ganze Forschungsfeld 10 wesentliche Punkte nennen, wo ich das wissenschaftliche Vorgehen der Klimaforscher, sagen wir, nicht ganz nachvollziehen kann. Ich könnte diese Punkte einer Gruppe von Experten vortragen, und würde mich von diesen auch gerne eines besseren belehren lassen. Ich habe aber genug Selbstbewusstsein, dass ich die Hoffnung habe, dass es auch umgekehrt kommen könnte."

My response was to suggest that he should summarize his questions here on Klimazwiebel. He has done so now, beginning with 5 questions, the first two are specified in some detail below.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Climate & Bicycles

Something I don't understand: Recently, Georg Hoffmann wrote here in a comment that he is sharing a joke with Richard Tol "about people thinking they will stop sea level rise when taking a bicyle". And  Hans von Storch was (correctly or not) quoted in the Hamburger Abendblatt as considering the adaptation efforts along the Elbe River as much more useful than "the litany of those who say that climate change could be stopped through intensive bicycling".
So here are my questions:
a) Where does this concept of the cyclist as the enemy or idiot come from? Why not ridiculing for example the climate scientist who demonstratively drives a hybrid car, or who proudly pays an extra fee for his carbon footprint when flying to a conference (both examples are true cases)? Wouldn't that be a better object for polemics? Why blame cyclists and for what?
b) Maybe I am completely wrong, but wouldn't a change to bicycles (and other non-emission vehicles) in big cities help to reduce urban heat, and, in the sense of Roger Pielke sr., maybe even contribute to help mitigate regional climate change phenomena? No, I don't say that riding a bicycle will stop global climate change - me not stupid! But wouldn't it contribute to a better environment for citizens?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

"Experts predict more storm surges in the future"

The relation between storm surges and anthropogenic climate change is a permanent source of debate. Now experts say on the "Storm Surges Congress" in Hamburg that "through the effects of climate change and extensive human use of coastal areas, storm surge risks could rise worldwide." According to Prof. Nicholls from University of Southampton,  “(r)ecent predictions of the OECD assume that the risk of being hit by a so called one in hundred years flood will be multiplied for large harbor cities worldwide by the year 2070”.
While coasts in Germany should be well protected for the next two decades, according to Hans von Storch, this might change in the future: “Between 2070 and 2100 rises in maximum storm water levels in the range of three to eleven decimeters are conceivable along the entire German North Sea coast”.

Attention: I just DELETED a quote from Hans von Storch in Hamburger Abendblatt, Sept. 15th., which I had posted here originally. Hans let me know that this quote was not authorized (see comments). This is, I guess, how many discussions start: from a fake quote. I fully respect Hans' intervention, of course. It doesn't make any sense to start a discussion on basis of something that was never said. Or start it with a correction. Anyway, I am afraid that's the way many discussions go!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Richard Tol challenges assertion by Ottmar Edenhofer in ZDF

Richard Tol:

Ottmar Edenhofer claimed in „ZDF umwelt“ on September 5, 2010 “Die Aussage, der IPCC hätte bewusst Dinge herausgehalten, die ihm unbequem waren, die nicht gewissermassen in eine Gesamtstory gepasst hätten, kann ich beim besten Willen nicht sehen”. (I cannot understand, even if I try hard, the assertion that the IPCC would deliberately have omitted things, which would have been inconvenient, which would not have been consistent with the overall story.)

This assertion of the co-chair of Working Group III of the IPCC is at best peculiar if not outright false. In the following, I will back this statement in some detail, by demonstrating how specific conclusions from white publications, known to the IPCC lead authors, have been filtered out in support of a (false) claim of consensus in the Summary for Policymakers. At the time of his interview, Dr. Edenhofer was aware of these inconsistencies.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Climate in everyday life

Street corner in Bonn, Germany. Poster Green party: "Climate without the ifs and buts. Now. For tomorrow."
I am not sure what that exactly means, literally. But, of course, the fragile blue planet formed as a heart helps to explain.
There is also a sign "bike station". You can easily rent a bike in many cities nowadays.
Without being noticed too much, climate change is part of our everyday culture. We should learn more about it.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

IAC Report: Statements on TV

Controversial statements concerning the IAC report on German TV by Hans von Storch and Ottmar Edenhofer (4min, in German). Including a fine differentiation by Hans von Storch: The task of the IPCC is not to declare the truth about climate change, but the truth about the knowledge on climate change.

Interview with Roger Pielke sr.

In my series of interviews with eminent atmospheric scientists in the Atmospheric Sciences Section of AGU Newsletter a new one has now been published - with Roger A Pielke Sr. He voices rather critical views, and likely not everybody will like his assertions. But being a Fellow of both the American Meteorological Society (AMS) and the American Geophysical Union (AGU) in 2004, a former Chief Editor of the Monthly Weather Review and Co-Chief Editor of the Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences he is undoubtedly a legitimate participant in the discussion among scientific experts.

The full series of now 6 AGU-interviews can be downloaded here.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Redefining peer review - again

In an appendix to the Russell-Muir report the editor of the Lancet, Richard Horton gives a ‘brief history of peer review’. In it, he addresses the question of quality control through peer review and the issue of influencing the process of peer review.