Erice 2011

I spent the last week at the annual Erice conference of the World Federation of Scientists, returning to Toronto late yesterday. I’ll write some reports on this later as, unfortunately, I get tired too quickly these days. There was a session on solar, cosmic rays on clouds, timely in view of the CERN article. Svensmark, Shaviv and Veizer were there as well as Ilan Koren (of the predator-prey article on clouds) and Christiannson, a critic of Scensmark’s. Lindzen made an interesting overview lecture. I suggested to him that he place data (including collated intermediates) and code for Lindzen and Choi online so that more people can handle the statistics for themselves – he’s more than agreeable to that.

There was a session on the impact of Fukushima on nuclear – Erice has a strong nuclear contingent. Also some interesting information on China’s energy supply and demand and on fracked natural gas, both worth reporting.

I was online and noticed some of the events of the past week, but took a holiday from being online.

15 Comments

  1. JW
    Posted Aug 26, 2011 at 1:33 PM | Permalink

    Response by UEA to FOI ref Outside Organisation:

    http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/covert_operations_by_east_anglia#incoming-205254

    A couple of dozen .pdf files to pick through.

    Have fun.

  2. ianl8888
    Posted Aug 26, 2011 at 6:20 PM | Permalink

    SM

    “Also some interesting information on China’s energy supply and demand and on fracked natural gas, both worth reporting”

    I’d find that fascinating

  3. timetochooseagain
    Posted Aug 26, 2011 at 6:51 PM | Permalink

    Sounds fascinating. Some of the same names are apparently going to be part of a web based meeting on Sunday, along with a few names quite familiar to CA readers:

    http://icecap.us/index.php/go/joes-blog/critical_look_at_global_warming_data_wickedly_complex_system_called_climate/

    It would be nice if the people who organize the Erice meetings put videos online somewhere (in fact I think all scientific conferences would benefit from this) for people who can’t go to them, but are interested in the presentations and speakers. AMS has been pretty good about this lately, for instance. When I read on Ross’s website amount him going to a meeting of the American Statistical Association a few weeks back now, I was hoping that maybe they would potentially have presentations available in some form (John Christy also presented, along with other names I don’t recognize) but I had to settle just for Ross’s slides from his website.

    Nothing beats being there. Shame for those of us without the ability to travel around.

    • Posted Aug 28, 2011 at 1:14 PM | Permalink

      I wish the ASA session had been videotaped. First of all it was standing-room only (indeed sitting up the aisles at one point) in a conference where many sessions were running simultaneously, and the audience discussions after our talks were extensive and interesting. Second, although we panelists represented a range of differing positions on the AGW issue (we were: John Christy, me, Mark Berliner and Richard Smith) there wasn’t a whiff of orthodoxy in the air. Mark and Richard presented some pretty hard-hitting comments about GCM failures and weaknesses in empirical work in the climate field, but both nonetheless upheld the “something must be done” view. It was a classic case of experts who find that within the areas where they have detailed knowledge of the AGW issue they find the evidence wobbly and problematic, but assume it’s solid everywhere else.

      • kim
        Posted Aug 28, 2011 at 7:07 PM | Permalink

        I’m afraid it will take global cooling to break the fever, and that’s not a pleasant thought.
        ==========

      • Posted Aug 30, 2011 at 5:05 AM | Permalink

        It was a classic case of experts who find that within the areas where they have detailed knowledge of the AGW issue they find the evidence wobbly and problematic, but assume it’s solid everywhere else.

        I had a pretty interesting conversation recently in a social context with a woman who had just resigned, to do a masters in international politics, from a fairly senior role in one of our big departments of state which concerns itself with AGW mitigation. (One of the top three, I would think, but not DECC.)

        She listened to me politely and told a mutual friend afterwards that she was impressed with my breadth of knowledge of the issue. But she couldn’t believe that all those scientists were conspiring to deceive us.

        Nor are they. I wish I had a better grasp of how to communicate effectively what Ross has put so succinctly here. I found Larry Solomon’s book The Deniers useful on this. Where else is this argument about the misleading nature of the AGW consensus (because it so often involves doubts in one’s specific area of expertise) laid out in policymaker-friendly terms?

        • kim
          Posted Aug 30, 2011 at 8:55 AM | Permalink

          It is an ‘Extraordinary Popular Delusion and Madness of the Crowd’. Sure, there are those who breathe together, but the racketeering is going to be difficult to distinguish from the madness.

          It is human culture imposing an artifice on Nature and on Human Nature. It will inevitably fail, and at great cost.
          =========================

        • Posted Aug 30, 2011 at 9:08 AM | Permalink

          Quite. When this lady mentioned her doubts about the breathing together of so many scientists I at once went to popular delusion and the madness of crowds – in other words, I used those terms explicitly. She clearly wasn’t offended but she also wasn’t convinced. And I think the AGW ‘consensus’ is different from say, the South Sea Bubble, for exactly the reason Ross gives. We have genuine experts involved and they know that the AGW argument has its problems in their own area but assume it’s solid everywhere else. Judy Curry is notable for coming out of this intellectual straightjacket, which she admits she was in around 2007. The consensus is nothing like as strong as it seems – a corollary is that scientists are not as corrupted as is sometimes painted. But how to explain this to someone intelligent, responsible for implementing policy and genuinely interested. That is my question.

        • kim
          Posted Aug 30, 2011 at 9:53 AM | Permalink

          Continued conversation. Gore is exactly right in his comparison with the diminution of racist talk, but he is despicable for playing that joker card. As Nature reveals its secrets, CAGW will fail in conversation. We can hope.

          The financial and political catastrophe that this artifice created will dwarf that of the South Sea Bubble. That’s South Atlantic, a surprise to many.
          ======

        • kim
          Posted Aug 30, 2011 at 9:55 AM | Permalink

          Ahem, that’s ‘as Nature reveals her secrets’. What am I, looking for trouble here?
          ===========

  4. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Aug 28, 2011 at 8:59 AM | Permalink

    An Erice vignette in the Climategate dossier:

    http://yourvoicematters.org/cru/mail/1061625894.txt

    353. 1061625894.txt Date: Sat, 23 Aug 2003 04:04:54 -0400
    Date: Sat, 23 Aug 2003 04:04:54 -0400


    Now, back to fighting the “Shaviv and Veizer” propaganda along w/ Ben Santer and David Parker out in Italy…
    mike

  5. Posted Aug 28, 2011 at 5:05 PM | Permalink

    Steve, do you really thin it was a coincidence that you were otherwise preoccupied when the CERN paper came out?

    But, personally I think their timing will completely backfire, because it will just enrage those closest to the projects to see how political this became.

  6. Geoff Sherrington
    Posted Aug 30, 2011 at 8:08 PM | Permalink

    Ross writes, “It was a classic case of experts who find that within the areas where they have detailed knowledge of the AGW issue they find the evidence wobbly and problematic, but assume it’s solid everywhere else.” That’s a neat way to express it.

    One of the hard-to-answer arguments increasingly used Down Under is “Can you imagine the improbability of scientists word wide colluding to push false science?” Apart from scripts from PR firms, I don’t see overt collusion, but other mechanisms can give similar outcomes.

    Example – when rumours sweep stock exchanges, plus old examples like tulip mania. Many investors and tulip buyers knew precious little about the subject in depth. A few specialists did, whether right or wrong, and their words were taken as encouragement to be rash. It’s not so organised, but it sure gains momentum.

  7. David Jay
    Posted Aug 31, 2011 at 3:13 PM | Permalink

    “Information Cascade” sounds a lot less threatening than “popular delusion and the madness of crowds”

  8. David Weisman
    Posted Aug 31, 2011 at 5:39 PM | Permalink

    But, you were so indignant when PNAS tried to hold Lindzen to a higher standard than they had held some other scientists. Surely you wouldn’t want him held to a higher archival standard?

    I understand you concentrate on examining the statistical work of IPCC papers, I think you said somewhere because they are the papers governments should or will use in their decision making. Do I understand you’re not concerned with examining the statistics of Lindzen and Choi critically, but you are concerned with discussing their archival standards? Or is this just a personal note, like squash scores?


    Steve- there are lots of things that I’d like to have time and energy to do. Unfortunately, I do get tired.

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