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2012 SkS Weekly Digest #42

Posted on 22 October 2012 by John Hartz

SkS Highlights

Not content to debunk false assertions made by climate deniers, Dana and the SkS team decided to conduct a pre-emptive strike and pre-bunk a story we knew would be eventually be written by someone in Deniersville. The result is Misleading Daily Mail Article Pre-Bunked by Nuccitelli et al. (2012).  Needless to say, it has drawn a considerable number of comments during the course of the past week. 

Toon of the Week

2012 Toon 42

What say you?

Over the past couple of days, SkS moved its website to a new host server. Did you experience any difficulties during the transition?

Quote of the Week

"The performance by developed countries in activating short-term financial commitments at the Copenhagen Climate Conference can only be described as extremely disappointing. This can only be defined that their action has failed the new additional test,"

Prime Minister Federal Republic of Ethiopia, Mr Hailemariam Dessalegn adressing the second annual conference on Climate Change and Development in Africa.

Source: Africa: Countries Asked to Take Climate Change Seriously, All Africa, Oct 20, 2012

Rebuttal Article Updates

Article: How much is sea level rising?

A new introductoy paragraph for both the Basic and the Intermediate versions of this article was authored by Dana The new paragraph is: 

Gavin Schmidt investigated the source of the specific claim that tide gauges on islands in the Pacific Ocean show no sea level rise, and found that the data show a rising sea level trend at every single station. But what about global sea level rise?

This change was posted on Oct 16, 2012.

Database Updates

The Hadley Centre of the UK Meteorological Office has updated the current version of its temperature record, HadCRUT4, to include data up to the present. Updates to the HadCRUT4, UAH, and BEST data have now been incorporated into the SkS Temperature Trend Calculator.

The Week in Review 

Coming Soon

  • New research from last week 42/2012 (Ari Jokimäki)
  • Climate of Doubt and Escalator Updates (Dana)
  • Global Dimming in the Hottest Decade (Rob Painting)
  • Fred Singer - not an American Thinker (John Abraham and Dana)
  • Big Oil and the Demise of Crude Climate Change Denial (Andy S)
  • 2012 SkS News Roundup #7 (John Hartz)
  • Drost, Karoly, and Braganza Find Human Fingerprints in Global Warming (Dana) 

SkS in the News

This was a heavy week of SkS in the news.

Dana's Misleading Daily Mail Article Pre-Bunked by Nuccitelli et al. (2012) was re-posted by The Guardian, Newsvine, Sea Monster, and Environment Guru, Tweeted by George Monbiot, and was highlighted by Carbon Brief as one of the best debunkings of the Mail article.

A number of articles debunking the Mail piece used SkS graphics - at Climate Progress, Discovery News, Weather Underground, Carbon Brief, Media Matters, CurrentNow Public, and ZME Science.

John Cook's A comprehensive review of research into misinformation was summarized by Zachary Shahan at CleanTechnica.

Skeptical Science was also endorsed by Maggie Koerth-Baker at BoingBoing.

SkS Spotlights

The Yale Project on Climate Change Communication:

  1. Conducts original research on public climate change awareness, attitudes, risk perceptions, policy support, and behavior;
  2. Designs and tests new strategies to engage the public in climate science and solutions;
  3. Empowers educators and communicators with the knowledge and tools to more effectively engage their audiences.

The Yale Project on Climate Change Communication (originally the Yale Project on Climate Change) grew out of a groundbreaking conference on “Americans and Climate Change” that the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies convened in 2005 in Aspen, CO. The conclusions and recommendations from the conference are available online in the conference report "Americans and Climate Change: Closing the gap between science and action."

Related efforts beyond climate per se involve catalyzing inspiring visions of a sustainable world and practical strategies to achieve them via our Visions of a Sustainable World project.

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Comments 1 to 4:

  1. This being the day of the week that general comments are accepted, I would like to draw readers’ attention to a paper written by Leo Smith who has an Masters in electrical sciences from Cambridge University (U.K.). It can be found at: In summary, this paper argues that so-called renewables are by no means the panacea they are claimed to be regarding combating climate change and can, counter intuitively, in some instances lead to an increase in fossil fuel consumption. In short they are at worst a waste of money that would be better spent elsewhere and at best of minimal benefit. I have discussed energy issues with him elsewhere and find him to be very knowledgeable on the subject, though I am a mechanical engineer, not an electrical one and therein lies the rub. I am in need of a website that discusses remedies to climate change in depth so that I can judge such issues better. (I should point out that Smith is not convinced on the issue of climate change, but I consider that the professionalism that he has displayed elsewhere would preclude that influencing his scientific analysis, but it does amplify my need for other opinions.) To that end I believe that this site could sensibly give more prominence to specifically discussing ind depth methods of combating climate change. I cannot be the only one seeking guidance on the matter. It is very easy to take the view that ‘free’ energy has to be a good thing. But, on reading Smith’s paper it is possible to see how that is not necessarily the case. By all means we must carry on with examining the science behind the cause(s) of climate change, but surely the response of WUWT to the recent Arctic ice minimum shows that we are at a stage where those that still don’t believe in climate change are not going to change their mind anytime soon. Waiting for them to do so is a luxury that we just cannot afford. Their refusal to move on is no reason to hinder this site’s progress. For my part, I resent the despoiling of beautiful countryside with massive wind turbines, but tolerate them because I can see where climate change is taking us as a species. If, as Smith argues, they are of very little benefit to the fight against climate change, then I will feel that I have been badly misled and very angry about it. At present, I just don’t know for certain what the reality is. Smith’s paper is at least plausible and if it proves to be is essentially correct, then this side of the climate change issue has the responsibility to publicise it and even more importantly a need to be seen to do so. The ramifications will be bad enough if we do, but nothing like as bad as will be the case if we are seen as having blindly supported current renewables policy without having examined it in the depth that we usually do on scientific issues. There are now a considerable number of wind turbines installed around the world. What a tragedy it will be if all they do is stand as a monument to political folly in fighting climate change. What will be the chances of being believed in future whenever we call for action on climate change? “What about wind turbines!” will all too often be the response. The good news is that if we stop now, then in fact the current fleet can possibly be seen as beneficial to a small extent. Again, if Smith is correct, we need a new policy on carbon reduction. The only route that I can see is to go nuclear, preferably with a Manhattan style project on LFTR technology. If the Greens object, then let them offer an alternative. I just hope that Smith is wrong, but I will need proof. Or alternatively that some practical method of storing energy can be provided. Smith discusses it in depth and is not very hopeful.
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    Moderator Response: The appropriate Skeptical Science post is Renewables can’t provide baseload power. Everyone please respond there.
  2. Funglestrumpet, At this site we like to use peer reviewed references. Your paper is only the personal opinion of a relatively poorly qualified person. Why doen't he have a PhD? Why doesn't he submit his paper for peer review. I went to refer to his sources and noticed there wern't any! There are ample threads on this site, try the renewable baseload for starters. Deniers of AGW also deny that renewables are usable. Peer reviewed papers document the possibilities. Search Scientific American solar and wind power for starters. I noticed your cite also likes nuclear in spite of the demonstrated safety issues.
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  3. funglestrumpet you and other blog commenters here (just two weeks ago) and elsewhere seem to trump that paper alot these days. A casual look into Leo Smith and his comments , quote "We have definite proof (France) that nuclear power works At a sane cost. We have definite proof (Germany) that massive investment in renewable energy does nothing to reduce carbon burn, and simply triples electricity prices instead." ... rule him out as a serious (unbiased) source IMHO.
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  4. Funglestrumpet: May I suggest the German Oeko-Institut as reliable source. You'll get some well-researched and fact-based information there. Try this page, e.g., Contact them, they will answer and point you in the right directions, both re nuclear and renewables.
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