Dan’s constant


Following from Dan Pangburn: Dan commented on this, helpfully providing links to several pdfs showing where he derived his constant.

So I took a look at them.

Dan uses the First Law of Thermodynamics.

That’s a start: Energy(in) – Energy(out) = Energy(retained).

Let’s take a look at Energy(Out). A single term: X·T4, where X is Dan’s constant.

Dan helpfully provides a link to Wikipedia’s A very simple model. This shows

(1-a)S = 4εσT4


  • S is the solar constant – the incoming solar radiation per unit area—about 1367 W·m−2
  • a is the Earth’s average albedo, measured to be 0.3
  • σ is the Stefan-Boltzmann constant—approximately 5.67×10−8 J·K−4·m−2·s−1
  • ε is the effective emissivity of earth, about 0.612

Dividing both sides by (1-a)S, we get 1 = Y·T4 where Y = 4εσ/(1-a)S.

Plugging in the terms into Y, we get
Y = (4 x 0.612 x 5.67×10−8)/(0.7 x 1367) K−4
= 1.45·10-10 K−4
(or 1·10-10 K−4 to 1 s.f. – we can’t justify more than one significant figure)

Y can’t really be a constant, though, since 1 = Y·T4. If T increases then Y must decrease (and vice versa). Perhaps we should rewrite it as Yi·Ti4 = 1. But for small ΔT Y will not change by much.

So far, so good.

Dan derives his constant in the same way, but then multiplies an additional term (the average sunspot count).

Quoting from his pdf on page 6:

The average sunspot number since 1700 is about 50, the energy radiated from the planet is about 342*0.7 = 239.4 (for the units used) and the earth’s effective emissivity is about 0.61 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_climate_model). Thus, as a place to start, X should be about 50/239.4 times the Stephan-Boltzmann constant times 0.61.

50/239.4*5.67E-8 *0.61 = 7.2E-9

Which then he “refines”, continuing:

With this plugged into the equation, a plausible graph is produced with a dramatic change observed to take place in about 1940. In EXCEL, 7.2E-9 was placed in a cell and the cell (value for X) called by the equation which produced a graph. The graph was observed as the value for X was varied. X was adjusted until the net energy from 1700 to about 1940 exhibited a fairly level trend. This occurs when X is 6.519E-9 (unbeknownst to me at the time, cell formatting rounded it to 6.52E-9).If an average sunspot number of 6.52/7.2*50 = 45.28 had been used, no adjustment would have been needed.

This is, of course, nonsense.

But we will follow this for now to see where it goes.

If we now multiply Y by Dan’s sunspot average count, we get
45.28Y = 45.28 x 1.45·10-10 K−4
= 6.56·10-9 K−4.

This is pretty close to Dan’s value (the difference is probably due to slightly different values of the terms S & ε, which I had used from the model).

To all intents and purposes X = 45.28Y.

Now go back to Dan’s term X·T4, the output energy.

Replacing X with 45.28Y, and remembering that Y·T4 = 1 (so that Y = T-4), we get

X·T4 = 45.28·T-4·T4.

Gosh! The Temperature terms cancel, the Stefan-Boltzmann equation vanishes, and the energy we are left with is ….
45.28 Sunspots ….

Image Credit:

Solar & Heliospheric Observatory

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Dan Pangburn

Dan Pengburn has been commented several times, so I think that he deserves a post of his own. 🙂

anom(Y) = calculated temperature anomaly in year Y
N(i) = average daily Brussels International sunspot number in year i
Y = number of years that have passed since 1700 (or any other year where the net summation is approximately zero such as 1856, 1902, 1910, 1938, or 1943)
T(i) = agt (average global temperature) of year i in °K,
ESST(c,Y) = ESST (Effective Sea Surface Temperature) in year Y calculated using an ESST range (magnitude) of c
CO2(Y) = ppmv CO2 in year Y
CO2start = ppmv CO2 in 1880

Dang, his equation is just too big to fit the image.
However we could simplify his equation and tidy it up a bit.

In the first summation, N(i) will always be positive, since N(i) >= 0 (you cannot have negative sunspots).

It is also dimensionless. For dimensional analysis Dan has to change this to degrees, but doesn’t say how it does.

In the second term, 6.52×10-9T4 is quoted.
Dan did not state how this was derived, or cited. Is it based on science, or has Dan just made it up?

It is vaguely reminiscent of the Stefan Boltzmann law, but he is certainly not using the Stefan–Boltzmann constant (which is more than 10 times larger than Dans). Besides which the the Stefan Boltzmann equation is in units of Watts per square metre. We need to derive the anomaly in degrees Kelvin, so somehow Dan needs to define his constant.

Using Dan’s value at 288K, term 2 results in ~ 45. So (according to Dan) we should be warming whenever the “average daily Brussels International sunspot number” is more than 45 then we should result in warming (e.g. 2000), and a lower number should mean cooling (e.g. 2007).

Check any of your favourite datasets and see if how many years agree with Dan’s figures. I don’t know how many that you might find in agreement with Dan’s, since I gave up looking after seeing 2000 and 2007.

But there are more terms – perhaps we need to look at them to see if this makes more sense further along.

(Or maybe not. :))

ESST(c,Y) = ESST (Effective Sea Surface Temperature) in year Y calculated using an ESST range (magnitude) of c

I haven’t got a clue what this means, since Dan does not say how he derives it. But I don’t think it means the Sea Surface Temperature. Perhaps he meant the anomaly?

The last term does makes sense – that CO2 will warm logarithmically.

Then we have Dan has four “coefficients”, a, b, c and d.

Usually are coefficients are constants without dimensions (e.g. π). I know that some engineering terms use coefficients with units, but if they are they quoted in units. Since Dan doesn’t explain the units for his terms the equation , there is a real problem with a, b & d when looking at dimensional analysis (I can’t comment on c since I don’t understand the term). Possibly he meant that a and d were in units of K and b was in K-1 it might make more sense – but he didn’t say this.

But wait – Dan earlier stated that the coefficients are “to be determined” (i.e. not known).

They are not coefficients or even constants – he selects his terms according to the year (and even offers different versions for the same year).
His “coefficients” are variables! He even it states that the “coefficients” are adjusted to get the “best fit” of R2.
If I’m reading this correctly, then there is no supporting science of his coefficients. His “coefficients” are nothing more than pattern matching.

Since the coefficients were determined using all available data, some reviewers asserted that the equation may have no predictive ability in spite of it being formulated from relevant physical
phenomena and a known law of thermodynamics.

(My emphasis)

Of course I would expect Dan as an engineer would understand “a known law of thermodynamics”. In fact I would expect him to know at least three of them.
Which one has he selected? It would help.

Dan has however predicted the temperature for the next 25 years or so (and, surprisingly enough, we see that it will be cooling).
He is assuming that the sunspot variability over the next years is the same as the pattern between 1915 to 1941 – which is fair enough, since that he knows that it is a guess.
If sunspots do resemble then Dan predicts a cooling of about of between 0.2 K and 0.4 K (depending on his variable “coefficients”, despite that he has no idea what almost all his terms are unknown).

The beauty of it is that his own graph shows substantial warming between 1915 to 1941. 🙂

Shot in the foot? I think so.

Finally, Dan “shows” that the temperature has been declining between 2005 and 2011 (despite that the 2011 isn’t yet known yet).
He draws a straight line between 2005 and 2011(using UAH).

This is just sloppy. If Dan knows how to calculate R2 then he is perfectly capable of working out an OLS trend.

Over to you, Dan. 🙂

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Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) are a team of independent scientists who have released of their temperature record.
The team was led by Richard Muller, a physicist at the University of California. There were 10 contributors in total, only one of whom is a traditional climate scientist.
Saul Perlmutter, one of the team, recently won a Nobel Prize for “the discovery of the accelerating expansion of the Universe”.

The team have drafted four papers:

  1. Statistical Methods
  2. Urban Heat Island
  3. Station Quality
  4. Decadal Variations

(If you don’t want to read the full papers, they have a two page summary)

Having looked at considerably more than the usual climate data, they conclude that

  • The temperature records by GISS, NOAA and CRU are pretty much right (BEST are warming than CRU & NOAA)
  • The “Urban Heat Island” is a myth, since urban areas are less then 0.5% of the surface on land
  • Bad quality of stations is a real problem, but that they do not significantly change trends

Not exactly shattering news, then, but learning why the team decided to undertake the study is interesting.

In the Economist, who broke the story, tells us

Marshalled by an astrophysicist, Richard Muller, this group, which calls itself the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature, is notable in several ways. When embarking on the project 18 months ago, its members (including Saul Perlmutter, who won the Nobel prize for physics this month for his work on dark energy) were mostly new to climate science. And Dr Muller, for one, was mildly sceptical of its findings. This was partly, he says, because of “climategate”: the 2009 revelation of e-mails from scientists at CRU which suggested they had sometimes taken steps to disguise their adjustments of inconvenient palaeo-data. With this reputation, the Berkeley Earth team found it unusually easy to attract sponsors, including a donation of $150,000 from the Koch Foundation.

So Muller was sceptical. This is good and natural, of course. And they decided to check their results for themselves.

Rather than just use the datasets already available, they also included all the records that they had found (in some cases only for a short duration). In total they accumulated 1.6 billion records, about 5 times the data used by GISS, NOAA and CRU. And they had to develop a new analytical approach to incorporate fragments of records.

One caveat – the papers have been submitted (to the Journal of Geophysical Research) but have not yet been accepted. The CRU has declined an offer on the story, because the papers have not yet been through peer review. Possibly this is why Real Climate have not covered the story yet. It could still be a damp squib, but that leaves us exactly as it was before.

Certainly Watts critical (I counted eight blogs about BEST since the story broke), but I do not recall too much concern about peer review in the past.

And Dellingpole’s Global Warming is real is a gem:

“The planet has been warming,” says a new study of temperature records, conducted by Berkeley professor Richard Muller. I wonder what he’ll be telling us next: that night follows day? That water is wet? That great white sharks have nasty pointy teeth? That sheep go “baaaa”?

Some more sensible blogs include

And probably many more …


Update: This was covered by BEST before, back in April. I was busy with Eigenvectors and didn’t pay attention.

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Very brief comment

I have just taken my last exams, so I have got some time for the next few months.

It will take me a while to catch up with all the dross in the inbox, but when I’ve caught up with it I’ll find another post.

Thanks to everyone who has continued to contribute the blog in the last few months, I will hopefully continue to do so. 🙂


BPSDB Disempowering ourselves again

It’s unlikely that the U.S. is going to take serious action on climate change until there are observable, dramatic events, almost catastrophic in nature, that drive public opinion and drive the political process in that direction,” Stavins, director of Harvard’s Environmental Economics Program in Cambridge, Massachusetts, said today in an interview in Bloomberg’s Boston office.

Disaster Needed for U.S. to Act on Climate Change, Harvard’s Stavins Says

The argument that people will not do anything until it starts to affect them has probably been around for all of history. Certainly it is an old one with respect to climate change. The most recent iteration by Harvard economist Robert Stavins.

I was not able to find  much response to Stavins in the climate science blogosphere, perhaps because we have repeatedly been here before. However, there were two which illustrate several of the false assumptions that tend to get associated with this argument:

  1. What do we mean by “affect”?

  2. “Act” or react?

  3. Why catastrophe? Why Wait?


Let’s start by noting that what is being referred to is what is known as “trigger events” in discussions of political activism. Trigger events are things that spike public awareness of a particular issue, for good or ill.

. Continue Reading »



Hat tip to Magnus and Gareth

The F-bomb again, sigh. Maybe Tobis really has fundamentally altered the tone of climate science discussion? OK, they are climate scientists, there are actual facts and some legitimate political commentary in there, enjoy.

Continue Reading »


Nothing New Under the Sun

Science in the days of John Tyndall, the man who in the mid 19th century identified the greenhouse gases (the greenhouse effect itself was discovered by Joseph Fourier in 1824) certainly had to deal with Deniers.

After all, it was a period of great scientific discovery, including Darwin’s Evolution by Natural Selection. Scientific discoveries that threatened orthodoxy and ignorance.

Tyndall knew the consequences of Denial and the measure of the people who wallow in it:

It is as fatal as it is cowardly to blink facts because they are not to our taste.” ~ John Tyndall

He also knew how much point there was to presenting them with facts and reason in the hope that they would assess the facts fairly and objectively:

Religious feeling is as much a verity as any other part of human consciousness; and against it, on the subjective side, the waves of science beat in vain.”

So it’s no surprise that Tyndall took the time to try and help educate a broader public about science and scientific matters (“Fragments of science for unscientific people“). Those were simpler times when gentlemen wrote books and gave public talks for other gentlemen. Now with dozens of different types of media and instant global communication that can potentially reach almost any inhabitant on the planet the art of communication has become mind boggling.

Actually it’s not particularly any more complicated or difficult than it ever was, it’s just more incoherent and bewildering. What could and needed to be done was easier to discern then, now it is not so obvious, but the fundamentals remain the same.

In an earlier post I spoke of the need for a coherent, proactive media strategy. It is not my intent to lay one out, but rather to talk about what a media strategy is and what some of the options might be for implementation.

Further, as I stated in another earlier post: “Granted the climate science community is a loose network of a broad spectrum of individuals and groups, with occasional nodes that might be described as coalitions and the like, so I am not suggesting a unified strategy. It’s not only impractical, it’s probably impossible.

Even so, it is possible for us to have a loose strategy that is constantly discussed and reviewed, and which many in the network implement in ways that are suited to their strengths and abilities.

Continue Reading »

As long as we’re on the topic  (for the last time, at least for a good long while) I decided to move this post up (and several others still to appear).

The context is this video by Katie Goodman of Broad Comedy. It’s a little ditty that uses “f**ked” as a hook and to entertain, but that nonetheless touches on some important points relevant to mobilizing the public.

For most of the points I am going to do no more than note them in the expectation of returning to them at some later time. You may argue that I read too much into a comedic song, but I think that the lyrics resonate with the audience because they touch on truths regardless of the light nature of this particular context.

OK, that’s understated. In a microcosm it pretty much sums up where we are and why we are stuck here.  Kudos to Katie for raising those points, but the really scary interesting  scary thing about this video is the comments people made about it.

First watch the video if you care to (and are not too offended by the F-word) and then we can get to my points.


When I first saw the video my immediate thought was that it should be the anthem for the youth climate justice movement. Let’s take a quick walk through some of the lyrics:

There’s never been a time
as fucked up as this

No argument there, not for humans anyway. Maybe the Toba eruption, and I understand the PETM was pretty nasty for most species, but that’s pedantic quibbling.

Continue Reading »


Yes, yes, naturally I realize that it isn’t actually meant as praise, it is clearly meant to be an insult.

However, Dr Curry really needs to actually read what she praises and what she condemns (like that was news).

What Dr Curry has done is cite “Science Abuse” on the site “Muck and Mystery” and say “the best way I can characterize this is the “anti-Greenfyre.

The piece “Science Abuse” alleges to critique Chris Mooney’s recent Mother Jones piece “The Science of Why We Don’t Believe Science“. What M&M actually does is:

  • make many frankly ridiculous and idiotic claims (all unsupported).
  • make almost no reference to actual facts, and none for the important points.
  • cite & misrepresent popular media articles as evidence of problems with the scientific literature, and relies on a source that repeats (is the source of?) those errors
  • is rife with logic failures: Straw Man, Red Herring, False Analogy, Circumstantial Ad Hominems, Hasty Generalizations (to name but a few).
  • etc

About the only bits that make for semi-coherent reading are cribbed from this piece, which in turn bases it’s entire case on some Cherry Picked examples and a single study which in turn, if you actually read it, is a work that uses modeling (the irony), basing it’s work on three studies from the rather narrow sub-sub-sub-discipline of Genetic Associations.

I guess the blog “M&M” got named for consisting largely of a soft, brown substance coated with a colourful, nutritionless veneer? I leave it to the reader to draw their own conclusions from the fact that Dr Curry seems to think the M&M piece is worth reading.

So in summary, if we flip those around (ie M&M is the anti-Greenfyre), then what Dr Curry is really saying is that she is characterizing Greenfyre’s as:

  • having coherent, logical arguments
  • being evidence and fact based
  • claims made are substantiated with credible sources
  • is accurate, relevant and rational

I don’t know what to say. Thank you Dr Curry, thank you, but really, there are so many out there who are just as, if not much more deserving. Many, many good people who write coherent, fact based blogs, and who richly deserve the high compliment that being casually dismissed by you truly is. I wear it as an expletive of honour.

In it’s short life this blog has received

The Woodie Gutherie Award for a Thinking Blogger

The Tea Bagger Bury List of Achievement

The PopTart’s Incoherent Slander Campaign of Merit

and now, the much coveted

Ass Backwards Terminally Bewildered Curry Prize

I’m blushing … it really is all too much.  I’d like to thank Mom …

Continue Reading »

ALERT! The climate change Deniers have acquired a powerful new skill! Apparently they are now able to actually use a search engine!

What do you suppose tipped them off? the pictures on my FaceBook page? the articles I’ve written about it? the radical new concept of actually looking for information?

The delicious irony of discovering this immediately after writing a post about how the climate change Deniers are completely incapable of discerning what is relevant from what isn’t is just too funny.

Well this sure puts the lie to my claim that the Deniers wallow in irrational ad hominems rather than try to cope with the fact that they have absolutely no science or evidence to support their delusions.

However, the seemingly random way in which Deniers process the world is truly scary. On the one hand you have the apparent inability to recognize the simple causation chain of CO2 = GHG, humans add CO2 to atmosphere, Earth warms.

On the other hand you have the belief that bandying about totally irrelevant nonsense about people who are able to make the simple association given above is somehow relevant to the science, or that it in some way affects the facts.

What do these people do when they need a clean shirt? put the cat in the oven? plant onions? No wonder these people are frightened. How terrifying would it be to live in a world where you cannot cognitively connect relevant information and instead just randomly associate things and events?

What next for the Deniers ? basic literacy?

Hey Poptart … I also used to collect stamps, liked trout fishing, was really into reading Faulkner (although I did have a SciFi phase in my teens), and made my own sour dough bread for years. There you go, run wild!

Is there any hope that they will ever figure out that the way you discuss science is by actually looking at the science and discussing it? It sure doesn’t look promising.

Continue Reading »


Fuddle Duddle

Chamberlain, Trudeau or … ?


A couple of weeks ago Michael Tobis shocked the delicate, refined sensibilities of the climate change Deniers by stating unambiguously what is at stake and what he felt were the unhelpful contributions of Steve Mosher.

Michael was blowing off some steam and may have used some language that he generally doesn’t. The incident would warrant only passing remark except for some of the fall out and follow up.

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

Getting past the irrelevant, the incident raises some important questions about how we engage in the debate, what our goals are, and what the implications are for our struggle, as individuals and as a collective.


Fuddle Duddle

Text of what Tobis actually said

“Let me explain why. It is not because I am a pusillanimous chickenshit, Mosher. It is because the fucking survival of the fucking planet is at fucking stake. And if we narrowly fucking miss pulling this out, it may well end up being your, your own fucking personal individual fucking self-satisfied mischief and disrespect for authority that tips the balance. You have a lot of fucking nerve saying you are on my “side”.

Unless and until you find it within yourself to understand that you have major fucked up, big time, by throwing big juicy meat to the deniers to chew on and spin paranoid fantasies about for years, even decades,”

What I heard as significant:

“Let me explain why. It is not because I am a pusillanimous chickenshit, Mosher. It is because the fucking survival of the fucking planet is at fucking stake.

Continue Reading »

BPSDB On April 29th a person using the twitter account “@septscelles”  released a large file to Barrett Brown that purportedly contained secret US Chamber of Commerce documents. ~ Muskegon Critic

If you hadn’t heard about this it’s because there’s nothing to hear. The data dump seems to contain nothing that wasn’t already publicly available and/or of no interest. “a big nothing-burger.”

That works for me since I want to talk about the context rather than the content, and now can do so without the distraction of what the hacked information may or may not mean. Call this a preemptive discussion for if and when there is some sort of “real” release of information from one of the Denier monoliths.

I think there are three important issues to consider:

  1. The validity of the content;
  2. Our response to the content;
  3. Our response to the nature of the release.

The validity of the content

Of the US Chamber of Commerce release The Atlantic Wire reports:

“Suspicions? Well, yes–Brown has reason to believe the new cache of documents isn’t totally on the level. Recall that when Anonymous released a bunch of documents from the cyberintelligence group Team Themis, those files described various strategies for discrediting watchdog groups–including creating “false documents” and “fake insider personas.” So Septscelles may be a concerned citizen who values transparency, or, as another posting at AnonNews puts it, he or she may be trying to “discredit Anonymous through a campaign of misinformation.”

Continue Reading »


Recently Joe Romm was very impressed with Dave Roberts’ Policy in an age of post-truth politics” where “the referees have left the building” and for the most part I have to agree (hint, read it).

However, I think there is one significant disagreement, less so with Roberts than Romm I think, who summarized Roberts’ article as:

“It speaks to what happens when the referees — the media — don’t call balls and strikes anymore but mainly report the play-by-play.”

The referee metaphor is indeed Roberts’, and he does say “But the referees [media] have left the building.” He is talking about a broken system, ie civic society generally, and the dysfunctional dynamic between the Republicans and the Democrats in the US specifically. The media reference is about the medias’ failure to play a watchdog role.

To which I say, what? Since when has the media been an impartial referee? Below is a sampling (and it is merely a small sampling) of quotes about the press over the past two and a half centuries. Use a search engine to find ‘Quotes “the press”‘ for many hours of more like them.

“The press is the hired agent of a monied system, and set up for no other purpose than to tell lies where their interests are involved. ” – Henry B Adams

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Method without Science,

or method

… “Opps!”

Seeing the recent “Science without method” post at Climate Etc I opted to first read the Nicol paper it was discussing before reading Dr Curry’s discussion of it.

The article alleges to highlight failures of climate change science, and in an obviously unintended way both it and Curry’s discussion of it does.

To give credit where credit is due, the exercise led me to rethinking how we frame the question of our current impasse. How it is possible for drivel like Nicol’s to somehow be taken seriously by anyone, never mind winding up actually influencing policies of countries.

First let’s get some context. In his paper Nicol said:

Yet in contemporary research on matters to do with climate change, and despite enormous expenditure, not one serious attempt has been made to check the veracity of the numerous assumptions involved in greenhouse theory by actual experimentation.

greenhouse theory“, seriously? Has he not read any scientific literature post-1860?

That aside, this is just idiotically wrong as a general statement. Can he cite any specifics? Loaded as it is with qualifiers he would no doubt cite all of the relevant reserach (which he is clearly not familiar with, or simply doesn’t understand) as not “serious” attempt(s) (ie No True Scotsman fallacy).

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BPSDB The recent tornadoes in the United States have lead to a resurgence of articles talking about the link between extreme weather, natural disasters and climate change. If you are an interested member of the general public you are undoubtedly confused as the two sides of the debate seem to be making opposing claims, and both seem to have some science to back them up.

I’d like to talk a bit about why there is this confusion and what it means in practical terms for you and me. Then I’d like to discuss the opinion of the folks who take this issue very seriously indeed. No, I don’t mean the scientists, much more seriously than that – I am referring to the insurance industry.

The critical phrase is “seem to be making opposing claims“, because for the most part they are not. The climate change Deniers erroneously characterize the science based reports as ascribing the various tornadoes, storms and what have you as being caused by or linked to climate change. That is not what the ones I sampled were actually saying.

If you read the various reports they correctly note that given the current state of our knowledge it is impossible to directly link the recent extreme weather to climate change. It is also impossible to definitively say there is no link; that’s how uncertainty works.

Now from what I can gather it is probable that the influence of climate change on the most recent spate of tornadoes in the US south west was very small to none, but that’s not the end of the story.

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XKCD always! BPSDB

hat tip to MindofDan

(how many climate change Deniers will actually get it?)

Rabett Runs

Eli has a totally fun flow chart in Rejection is fungable

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OK, make that “Highlight the decline”

BPSDB Almost a year and a half after the CRUde Hack incident (“Climategate” to Fox News fans) the scientifically illiterate (aka climate change Deniers) are still obsessing on, and lying about this incident. I suppose that is what you do when you have no facts and don’t understand the science.

Renewed interest by the hard of thinking (aka #climategate) in this non-issue has led Greenman3610 to produce a new video: Unwinding “Hide the Decline”

Hat tip to DeSmog for the heads up. Added to Climate Denial Crock of the Week

My own discussion of Muller and his roadshow may be found at Richard Muller is a well bad tosser. Below is the bulleted version of the facts for the climate change Deniers who apparently can’t handle more than a couple of paragraphs of text or a few minutes of video:

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Does this face look bovvered?

BPSDB Sometimes it takes a cartoon character to help understand a cartoon.

Recently I was introduced to the comic character Lauren Cooper,  a fictitious character created and performed by British comedic actress Catherine Tate.

While I enjoyed the comedy I was also struck by how much Lauren’s conflict dynamic mimicked that of many climate change Deniers.

Divorced of its’ normal context I found I was able to get much more analytical about what might actually be going on psychologically for the individual Denier. Possibly much more interesting, I was led to ask myself  “Why do I like Lauren even though she is a caricature of annoying people who make my life difficult?” and of course, what clues are there for how to deal effectively with Deniers?

Lauren Cooper, climate change Denier?

Lauren is an aggressive, obnoxious, poorly educated, self-absorbed, lower class 15 year old. Naturally her success as a comic character is because she parodies behaviour that we recognize; good comedians have to be keen observers of human behaviour.

No, Lauren is not a climate change Denier (I doubt she would even know what that meant), but she is interesting in that her argumentative dynamic uses the same basic pattern as the Deniers. Relative to everyday life Lauren is an outrageous, over the top caricature. Compared to some of the more familiar Deniers she is pretty average.

A Lauren Cooper sketch follows the same basic formula. First Lauren is caught out having done something “well bad” (ie stupid) and her mates remark on it. Often she will baldly deny it even happened at all despite the obvious fact that it did.

At some point she will attack the questioner with a Gish Gallop of shifting goal posts and red herrings that completely ignore the original issue “Are you disrespecting me? are you saying my mother is a prostitute? are you saying I’m stupid? are you saying my father is a wino? are you saying I’m a pikie?

Always she will express her total indifference to what others think or have to say by repeatedly asking “Am I bovvered?”

At no time will she ever admit to any error, acknowledge the validity any criticism, nor will she respond to what the other person is actually saying (on the rare occasions that she even detects that they are saying anything).

Sound familiar?

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Knowledge is a deadly friend
When no one sets the rules.

The fate of all mankind I see
Is in the hands of fools.

Let me begin by saying I have enormous respect for William M. Connolley (aka Stoat) and generally do not significantly disagree with him.

However, in his Apr 5th piece “Muller is rubbish” Stoat said “But he [Muller] isn’t a tosser.

Stoat, you’re just plain wrong, Muller most definitely is a well bad tosser, a “denialist chumming complete bollocks.”

Short Prologue

(more documentation at bottom)

Richard Muller is a Berkeley physicist of some minor notoriety in climate change circles for being critical of “the Hockey Stick” (ie historical temperature reconstructions). By “critical” I mean calling it “phoney.”

Earlier this year the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature group began a project to re-examine the existing temperature data. The project drew criticism for, among other things:

  • consisting exclusively of people with a poor track record for:
  • discussing the science honestly.
  • actually understanding the science.
  • being funded in part by Koch Industries.
  • On March 31 Muller testified before Congress and affirmed the high quality of the existing climate science which sent the climate change Deniers into a frenzy.

    The Muller sideshow has been one I have been largely ignoring, but then a repeat commenter brought this video clip to my attention:

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    Happy Eaarth Day?


    (hat tip to Quark Soup and Climate Progress)

    Maybe you celebrated Earth Day, maybe you ignored it. Maybe you share the cynicism that has been becoming overt on more than a few environmental sites, or at least noticed it.

    For the international celebration of a cause that we are working for, articles like (just a sampling):

    don’t exactly seem to be caught up in the spirit of it.

    Or how about this group email?:

    “It’s that time of year again: Earth Day, a singular day when the faithless are moved to buy reusable grocery bags.

    At #######, we get pretty rankled at all the Earthapalooza shenanigans. What’s next, Ye Olde Mattress Sale? Honestly.

    Let’s face it, we’re all just doing the best we can. And we do the best we can every stinking day. Not just on some tarted-up, feel-good, strum-your-guitar day of glowing holiness …

    I want to talk about something far more important than Earth Day, more important than saving endangered species,  or “the planet”, or humanity.

    First a little context.

    Continue reading at News Junkie Post:

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