Yesterday I bought the Sunday Telegraph. There were two featured opinion pieces about climate change/bushfires, one by Peta Credlin, the other by that old climate change recalcitrant Piers Akerman — I say old, but hard to believe he is actually seven years younger than I am — not that this is all that relevant. What is relevant is that he is no more a climate scientist, or any kind of scientist, than I am — or Peta Credlin, or Greta Thunberg if it comes to that. As you might expect the two opinion pieces were in beautiful harmony. I should add that there were some substantive news pieces in the same paper on the effects of the bushfires.
Akerman begins — I cut the article out — by slamming David Haslingden, calling him a “global warmist”, for daring to suggest in The Australian of all places that “The human race is burning far too many fossil fuels and has for a very long time. As a result of this and other human activities we have increased average global temperature by 0.8C from pre-industrial levels. The extreme weather events we are seeing all over the world are the direct result.”
Well, isn’t that perfectly reasonable? I hear you cry. Not to our Mr Akerman. After informing us that Haslingden, though chairman of the Australian Geographic Society, is not a scientist — a factor he, Piers, Peta and I all share — he goes on to crow: “Well, what’s simple for Mr Haslingden and his noisy cohorts is not so straightforward to scientists who actually study the stuff.” Piers, of course, is never noisy, but he is a master cherry-picker, especially perhaps of scientific articles he hasn’t really read and very likely would not understand. Nor does he grasp what “certainty” means in scientific circles. See for your own edification and as background How reliable are climate models?
The three zingers Piers hangs his case on are a report from the Tyndall Centre, the case of the signs in Glacier National Park, Montana, and a highly technical paper called “Propagation of Error and the Reliability of Global Air Temperature Projections.” That last one is a tad beyond me, I’m afraid, and also beyond Piers, I suspect. He extracts one sentence from it: “The unavoidable conclusion is that anthropogenic air temperature signal cannot have been, nor presently can be, evidenced in climate observables.”
I strongly suspect Piers read about this article on that notorious blog Watt’s Up With That. Be that as it may, you, I and Piers can all read the original here. UPDATE: Clearly Piers really is relying not on the original paper but on this guest post on — you guessed it!– What’s Up With That.
As I said, it’s a bit much for me, but there is a giveaway at the end: “This article is dedicated to the memory of Prof. Robert ‘Bob’ Carter; a fine scientist and a wonderful guy. The author thanks a climate physicist who prefers anonymity, for freely providing the A-Train annual average TCF data sets as well as the CMIP3 and CMIP5 climate model annual average TCF simulations. The author also thanks Prof. Christopher Essex, University of Western Ontario, for helpful conversations.” You will find a rather different view of Robert Carter here. There you will find a series of misleading claims made by said Bob Carter.
You might also compare New evidence on the reliability of climate modeling.
Now those glaciers — in a way an amusing story.
Last week, Glacier National Park announced that it will be changing signs warning that its signature glaciers would disappear by 2020. The park says the signs, put in more than a decade ago, were based on the best available predictions at the time.
Montana Public Radio’s Aaron Bolton spoke about what changed with Caitlyn Florentine, a research physical scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey’s Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center….
Caitlyn Florentine In 2003 a study was published that considered how the landscape would change both in terms of glacier evolution as well as vegetation change. And that 2003 study showed that one of the glaciers in Glacier National Park would entirely disappear by 2030. And then as time went on, more observations unique to Glacier National Park were collected. So more measurements were made. You know, more scientists started to scrutinize. And as I mentioned, make more observations….
Bolton How should the average person be thinking about predictions on climate change, like when glaciers melt? I mean, is it fair to have this expectation that it’s going to be correct most of the time, when in fact, it’s a prediction based on the best available science and data that you guys can get a hold of?
Florentine Yeah, absolutely. When a prediction is based on the best available science, then I think it is. I mean, well, even then, it’s a personal call, right, where you put your faith. But, you know, I think also the level of scrutiny and faith is going to vary, whether you’re somebody walking through a visitor center in a national park versus whether you’re the mayor of Miami making decisions about how the city is run and how city planning happens; or if you’re a congressperson deciding how money will be allocated based on some other, you know, consideration of where water mass is located.
But I can tell you with a straight face and with confidence that there is, the people that I interact with professionally are earnestly dedicated to using science to connect — both expose and connect — all of us to, you know, as capital ‘t’ truth as we can get. And it’s an imperfect process. But the whole process of peer review is that things are honestly poked and prodded and analyzed many different ways, and still seems to be true. That’s the information to be trusted in….
Now guess where Piers read about that? Yes, Watt’s Up With That 7 June 2019! A picture is beginning to emerge of the quality of Piers Akerman’s scientific research! But do check out National Geographic.
And on Piers’s favourite blog. this is probably worth following up.
I am not a climate scientist, but a professional and active scientist who teaches and carries out research at a university in the UK. The views I express here are my own and not those of my employer.
This blog used to be known as WottsUpWithThatBlog, which was chosen to indicate that a goal was to address climate science claims made on Anthony Watts’s Watts Up With That (WUWT) site. I say “address” because the goal wasn’t to simply refute what was said on WUWT. It was also to acknowledge contributions there that added positively to the discussions around climate science – didn’t happen often, sadly.
I did, however, eventually realise that there wasn’t much merit in continuing to mainly address claims made on WUWT, so decided to change the name of the blog and to change the focus somewhat. Hat Tip to BBD for the idea. ..and then there’s physics is an appropriate response (in my opinion, at least) to those who try to convince you that there are problems with climate science because of – for example – the climategate emails, or because some scientists are advocating for action.
Finally, the Tyndall Centre. You can download a pdf for yourself of their briefing note on wildfires. It is sensible stuff. Did Piers really read it?
Summary. Human-induced climate change promotes the conditions on which wildfires depend, enhancing their likelihood and challenging suppression efforts. Human-induced warming has already led to a global increase in the frequency and severity of fire weather, increasing the risks of wildfire. This signal has emerged from natural variability in many regions, including the western US and Canada, southern Europe, Scandinavia and Amazonia. Human-induced warming is also increasing fire risks in other regions, including Siberia and Australia. Nonetheless, wildfire activity is determined by a range of other factors includ- ing land management and ignition sources, and on the global-scale most datasets indicate a reduction in burned area in recent years, chiefly due to clearing of natural land for agriculture.