Open Thread, May 2012

Many of you no doubt noticed that there have been no new posts in some time; in fact, there was not a single post in April. Let me assure you that May will be different, starting with a brand new open thread.

To get the ball rolling, here are a few stories that caught my eye recently.


43 responses to “Open Thread, May 2012

  1. More on Bobby Thompson–
    “U.S. Marshals said they were seeking help from the public in identifying him, including anyone in Canada who may have clues about his background; they found it curious that he was holding three different Canadian identification cards.”

  2. Since you mention electronic billboards…

    ” In February, [U.S.Marshals] posted electronic billboards in the Albuquerque area, where [Bobby Thompson] was believed to have had ties.”

  3. Here is the press release from the U.S. Marshals about his capture.

    Cuccinelli can’t be too happy about this.

  4. Re: Govenment media minders.

    I remember that delegations from many communist countries were thought to have minders when visiting the West. However there was a constant worry about defections in those days.

    Anybody have a guess where our scientist are going to defect to? I mean, they are Canadian scientists at a conference in Canada!

    Actually, I would not be surprised if some were checking out the job market in less paranoid organizatiions/countries while at the conference.

    • I would say the government is attempting to monitor and control the discourse around the intersection of science and policy.

      The Harper Conservatives have abandoned efforts to mitigate GHG emissions, while continuing to tout relatively ineffective measures already in place. Meanwhile, they have severely cut back funding for pure science research, in favour of applied science and technology development (e.g,. in oil sands extraction). That has hobbled Canada’s ability to contribute to various international efforts, for example, to monitor atmospheric ozone or participate in assessments of climate change. Environment Canada has even refused (or severely delayed, which amounts to the same thing) media interviews with government scientists involved in publications the government finds inconvenient.

    • Holly Stick

      I would like to know what happened at the conference; if the media minders were present, and if they interfered in any way.

    • Holly Stick

      This article mentions the minders, on page 2:

      “…At the International Polar Conference in Montreal last month Environment Canada scientists were reportedly shadowed by government communications staff. Scientists responded to media requests with business cards…”–the/30647?page_requested=2

  5. Holly Stick

    Right now Mike De Souza ais tweeting a newser by Joe Oliver:!/mikedesouza/status/199534303330308096

    De Souza also has a new article about the budget’s environmental provisions:

    • Holly Stick

      My mistake, I think he is tweeting what Oliver said in the House of Commons last week. Oliver is going to have a newser I think

  6. “Deep Climate
    I would say the government is attempting to monitor and control the discourse around the intersection of science and policy. ”

    While I would agree, and the climate file is a very touchy one. as far as I can see , it is a general desire to control all communitations. I get the impression that no one in the civil service is allowed to say anything without prior appoval from the PMO. I understand, for example, another touchy portfolio, Corrections have some really strong gag orders.

    The Harper government seems to feel itself to be in a state of seige all the time.

  7. Readers of DC might be interested in the Keystone Mapping Project:

    The purpose of this project is to provide mapping information for the proposed route of the Keystone XL pipeline, data which are missing from the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) despite the fact that many sections of the FEIR explicitly refer to the milepost locations, the lack of which prevents adequate review of the document. To date, the U.S. Department of State and TransCanada have not provided the location data for the entire route.

    The FEIR for Keystone XL appears to have received only cursory and inadequate review. For example, the “Construction, Mitigation,
    And Reclamation Plan”
    calls for self-monitoring of all phases of pipeline construction with minimal, if any, independent review, despite the history of compliance problems with similar linear construction projects in the U.S. On May 4, the U.S. Department of State announced their review of TransCanada’s new application for the proposed realignment of the segment of the Keystone XL pipeline around the Sand Hills of Nebraska. On March 23, Obama announced his intention to fast-track permitting of the southern segment of the Keystone pipeline from Cushing, Oklahoma to Port Arthur, Texas. There may still be an opportunity for public comment on the rerouted Keystone XL application.

  8. I see WUWT has put the McIntyre charges against Phil Jones top and center, keeping that blog post in front of viewers. You might wonder why that is?

    Well, buried down in the posts, is a post referring to yesterday’s press release from the University of Washington discussing a paper covering calibration and satellite temperature adjustment problems with some of the UAH troposphere temperature data; and showing that when the problems are corrected, the tropical temperature trend is quite different than previously reported. Note the interesting FAQs associated with the press release.

    The published paper should be available next week at this site

    Stay tuned.

    • That’s very interesting. There has always been a huge discrepancy between UAH MT and LT – perhaps that will be resolved after corrections too.

      This might also be a good opportunity to cover the third tropospheric series from NESDIS/Star (NOAA). Thorne et al (2010?)showed that the NESDIS/Star TMT tropospheric series was right in the middle of climate model projections for the corresponding layer profile of the tropical troposhere.

      NESDIS/Star doesn’t have an LT series, and doesn’t get as much coverage as RSS and UAH. They have more sophisticated satellite inter-calibration and generally the TMT series runs even warmer than the equivalent RSS series.


  9. McIntyre might well feel sore … Michael Mann gives him and his mate a fair old lashing in his book “The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars”. Mann quotes another climate scientist as calling them a “pair of quacks”, and awards their “contribution” no merit whatsoever.

  10. Well, Yamal has always been the favorite McIntyre button. If someone could explain why Briffa would withhold this data purposely, I’d appreciate it. The last graffic on McIntyre’s post “Core Counts” just shows a difference visual. Is that supposed to be showing me something that is convincing?

    • It’s supposed to show that CRU researchers didn’t use all the data. But for me the most interesting aspect is how few tree cores the additional data adds in the 800-1200 period. That’s because many of the sites only go back to 1600, especially in the Polar Urals.

    • That’s also why I’m confused as to why Briffa would remove it purposefully to come to a specific conclusion. If there is a reconstruction including it, where is it? Where is the non-hockeystick recon?

    • There appears to be two questions actually. One, is there a valid reconstruction that includes “all the data” that Briffa would not use because it wasn’t in accordance with previous recons. And two, does the information in the email here reveal that they had usable data for Briffa 2008. IOW, does the info in that email reveal they lied to cover up the initial malfeasance of not using the data? These are pretty loaded charges, deserving more diligence than McIntyre gives them. The CRU investigation being negligent in this regard does not suppose guilt on Briffa

    • This breaks down into issues about the Yamal reconstruction per se and then a larger Urals-Yamal regional reconstruction.

      1) Yamal
      My reading is that by “all the data” Briffa meant all the living trees from the three sites Hantemirov had used in the Yamal 2002 study (and re-processed in Briffa et al 2008). The original Yamal data set only used 17 living trees from those three sites as Hantemirov’s original methodology required very long-lived trees (unlike Briffa’s RCS standardization). In Briffa and Melvin 2009 (published on the CRU website and discussed previously here), Briffa used this expanded Yamal data set, plus the set of trees from Schweingruber Khadyta River that McIntyre had used.

      This email exchange between Hantemirov and Thomas Melvin gives a somewhat illuminating background. It shows that Briffa and Melvin did not have the full set of living tree measurements from Yamal (although they had obtained data for two of the sites previously). Melvin aks for the data he is still missing (YAD site). In response, Hantemirov sends the full data sets from all three sites, plus more from other sites. (Hantemirov’s other comments about McIntyre’s “amnesia” and his confusion about 12 vs 17 tree-ring series are also interesting). For me the point is that Briffa was defending himself (and implicitly Hantemirov) from charges of “cherrypicking”, so one objective was to show the result if one included all the living trees from those same three sites, not just the 17 in the original Hantemirov data set.

      2) Urals-Yamal “composite”

      The 2006 email does appear to show some sort of planned analysis of a Urals-Yamal regional composite. But it is overreaching to say that an actual reconstruction had been completed then or at the time of Briffa et al 2008. I also wouldn’t put much stock in McIntyre’s simplistic reconstruction. An interesting exercise would be to compare McIntyre’s methodology (which is not actually documented, but is presumably implicitly embedded in his code), with Briffa’s. Here’s an interesting “in press” book chapter that gets into the details of RCS.

      Click to access Briffa_HB_2008.pdf

    • So, basically, Briffa responding to McIntyre’s accusations creates more sideshow material for McIntyre?

    • Gavin has clarified and unravelled the (possibly intentional) mess at RC. “Smackdown” is the best description.

  11. The usual suspects found scheming their current astroturf adventure in the same room. Ties anti-wind and anti-solar movement to fossil fuel using the usual methods.

    Conservative thinktanks step up attacks against Obama’s clean energy strategy

    Confidential memo seen by Guardian calls for climate change sceptics to turn American public against solar and wind power

    ATI, AFP, CFACT, ALEC, Freedomworks, John Locke Foundation, Tea Party Patriots (sic).

  12. “Confidential memo seen by Guardian calls for climate change sceptics to turn American public against solar and wind power..”

    And the sooner the better, right?

    Oh wait, I thought this was WUWT. Sorrry.

  13. Koch Brothers’ Activism Protects Their 50-Year Stake in Canadian Heavy Oils

    These sources reveal that Koch Industries has touched virtually every aspect of the tar sands industry since the company established a toehold in Canada more than 50 years ago. It has been involved in mining bitumen, the hydrocarbon resin found in the oil sands; in pipeline systems to collect and transport Canadian crude; in exporting the heavy oils to the U.S.; in refining the sulfurous, low-grade feedstock; and in the subsequent distribution and sale of a variety of finished products, from jet fuel to asphalt. The company has also created or collaborated with other companies that have become leading players in the development of Alberta’s oil resources, and it remains deeply invested in western Canada’s oil patch.

    Koch Industries declined to answer any questions for this story.

  14. Joe Bast of the Heartland Institute claims that people who believe in climate change are like terrorists. Well, the FBI is a member of the National Intelligence Council, and the NIC writes about climate change. According to the Heartland’s logic, this makes the FBI and 15 other U.S. intelligence organizations terrorists.

    Maybe the FBI should put up a billboard on the freeway telling people that the FBI are members of the NIC and showing them the NIC links to information about national security and climate change. The NIC is made up of 16 U.S. Intelligence agencies. Does Joe Bast think the NIC organizations are terrorists?

    Joe Bast has been trying to get the water expert Dr. Peter Gleick arrested by the FBI. So far, “no arrests have been made nor have any criminal charges been filed in the Northern District of Illinois against Peter Gleick,” Chicago FBI Special Agent Ross Rice reportedly told Big City Lib (5-10-12).

    Dr. Gleick actually does research on the vulnerability of our water supply to terrorism, and so does the NIC. Probably the FBI doesn’t think that famous scientists like Dr. Gleick and the majority of ordinary citizens are terrorists like the evil Unabomber. The Unibomber probably thinks the sky is blue. So does the FBI. Does that make the FBI terrorists?

    Joe Bast does not disclose on his website that he even graduated from college, yet he thinks that we should believe him instead of our schoolbooks, our teachers, and our country’s most renowned scientists.

    Heartland will be having the Czech President Vaclav Klaus speak at their upcoming conference. Klaus is a global warming denier whose anti-global-warming manifesto Blue Planet in Green Shackles was translated into various languages by the Russian LUKoil.

  15. Timothy Can

    Something from Australia and perhaps relevant to the current forum is today’s “impact statement” from the climate commission. Media reactions have been predictable
    Heatwaves, bushfires predicted to hammer NSW -ABC
    Climate Change to Bring Heat, Bushfires to NSW -BRW
    NSW is getting hotter: climate report -SBS
    None of the guardians of the public record has made the slightest effort to look into the data that allegedly supports the report. I spent maybe 30 minutes looking at the source of the data for one particularly scary graphic, Fig.3. This purports to show the trend rainfall over NSW.
    What it actually shows is the difference between rainfall in two years, 1970 and 2010. Why pick those years? The source is the BoM. Try changing the period selector. See which map has the least green on it. The one from 1970 to present.
    Attempting to judge a trend from two points is hazardous (especially when the points are chosen by someone else). If forced to do so, you maximize the chance of picking up the trend by choosing the points maximally far apart. Doesn’t look so scary, does it?
    A better way is to look at the whole time series. Here are the NSW rainfall anomalies with a 5 year smoothing line. This is just my qualitative take on the data, but it is my impression as a statistician that there is no significant downward trend in NSW annual rainfall over that period.
    I don’t believe that the presentation of data in that impact statement meets basic levels of scientific integrity.

    • TC:

      …Fig.3. This purports to show the trend rainfall over NSW. What it actually shows is the difference between rainfall in two years, 1970 and 2010. Why pick those years?

      Wrong. Fig 3 (and the configurable chart you linked to) shows the linear trend over the entire 1970-2010 period, not the difference between two single years.

      The whole time series confirms a clear downward trend in precipitation from 1970-2010, which is also the time of a clear upward trend in temperature. As I understand it the point of the bulletin is to assess the impact of the projected continuation of such trends, among others (likley accompanied by more extreme heavy rainfall events *and* more droughts).


      I don’t believe that the presentation of data in that impact statement meets basic levels of scientific integrity.

      You have clearly misunderstood the bulletin. It is a sober assessment that nevertheless clearly acknowledges the uncertainties. I’ll leave the last word to the climate commission, so that readers can judge your unjustified accusation of lack of scientiific integrity.

      2. Changing rainfall patterns and the risk of more intense rainfall events pose challenges for land management in the New England/Northwest NSW region.
      – The region has experienced an overall drying trend over the past 40 years (Figure 3), with the trend more pronounced towards the coast.
      – There is considerable certainty that rainfall patterns will change as a result of climate change, but often in ways that are difficult to predict, creating large risks
      for water availability. Future changes to annual rainfall are still uncertain, however a shift in seasonality towards more summer and less winter rain is likely.
      – Droughts and floods are important features of the natural variability of eastern Australia’s climate. In addition to more severe droughts, the frequency and intensity of heavy rainfall events is likely to increase as the climate continues to warm.

  16. I just stumbled over a Peter Kent interview with One Planet, a BBC radio program.

    Apparently some of the emails abot the program , particularly from Canadian listeners were less than complimentary towards the Minister. However apparently a few emails (not stated if Canadian) were of the opinion that the interviewer was rude.

  17. Holly Stick

    BBC is doing a bunch of reports about Canada now. Today they are in Calgary:

    Gerald Graham tweeted links to the BBC series (and his own blog looks interesting, expertise in marine oil spills, etc.):!/GeraldGraham/status/202094543087222785

  18. John Mashey

    BigCityLib is doing noble work in Washington Post Picks Up Chris Landsea Story and earlier posts. He’s been sending polite emails to Heartland Experts and getting a variety of answers.

  19. Just when you thought the Harper Conservative government’s credibility on climate change could not sink any lower …

    Here’s foreign affairs minister (and ex-environment minister) John Baird on the real reason the NRTEE (National Roundtable on Energy and the Environment) was shut down:

    “Why should taxpayers have to pay for more than 10 reports promoting a carbon tax, something that the people of Canada have repeatedly rejected? That is a message the Liberal Party just will not accept,” Baird said in response to a question by Liberal Leader Bob Rae during question period.

    “It should agree with Canadians. It should agree with the government. No discussion of a carbon tax that would kill and hurt Canadian families.

    [Emphasis added]

    Probably he meant “kill jobs”, not “kill … families”. But it’s still idiotic.

    For one thing the NRTEE never proposed a carbon tax as far as I know, deferring to the government’s professed preference for cap-and-trade. The real problem is that the NRTEE kept giving advice that presumed the government actually wanted to follow through on its own promised short-term (2020) and long-term (2050) targets.

    • “Probably he meant “kill jobs”, not “kill … families”. But it’s still idiotic.

      For one thing the NRTEE never proposed a carbon tax as far as I know, deferring to the government’s professed preference for cap-and-trade.”

      What looks like one fib could be a mistake, but two in the same speech? The words stay in the public’s mind, correct or not.

  20. Guardian is reporting that Peter Gleick has been cleared of forging the disputed Heartland “climate strategy” document.

    [h/t Grypo – but discussion should happen on the current open thread – thanks!]

  21. Sorry. I have a post that discusses the Gleick caper called Was Heartland’s Climate Strategy Memo Written on Joe Bast’s Laptop?

    I wonder why DeSmgBlog’s Richard Littlemore seemed convinced that the Climate Strategy memo was written on Joe Bast’s laptop.

  22. Suzanne Goldenburg, the reporter that broke the news, is currently at Heartland’s conference.

  23. HI already released the results of their own computer forensics investigation (PDF) which concluded the memo cannot be traced at all on HI’s email servers, conducted by a company called Protek International. Who said the memo was sent by email? They also looked at all of the 32 workstations at HI, including the Basts’ privately owned computers which were a Dell Dimension 3000, Dell Dimension 2400, Dell Inspiron 530. No laptops mentioned. Hmm.

  24. Holly Stick

    A bit of Ethical Oil humour:

  25. Holly Stick

    Here’s a precious pair: Ezra Levant interviewing Joseph Bast. The mutual dishonesty is nauseating.