Irregular Climate Episode 5

This week: EPA says CO2 reduction is cheap, Idiot politician of the week, Expert credibility on climate change, lying deniers, A 5 month old apology from the Sunday Times, lies polls and damned lying polls, the skeptic debunk of the week, whale poop and carbon dioxide.

8 thoughts on “Irregular Climate Episode 5

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  1. Great episode. Thanks. Having made the mistake in 2008 of buying a book written by Solomon in Toronto, I can see that your comment only confirm that this journalist is a master in deceit. How come high circulation newspapers like the Post do not look for the truth and report verifiable and measurable data instead of making ideology based propaganda?

  2. Just to report a small technical problem. This fifth podcast appears to be defective. I cannot move backward or forward within the podcast file. As I listen to your show when walking to my institute in the morning, this means I can only listen to the first 30 minutes of it. The next day, I can´t start where I left off. This podcast has no assigned duration, naybe the two problems are related? Cheers. Looking forward to the next episode.

    1. The problem disappeared after I updated my ipod touch yesterday to the new version 4 (the same as for the new iPhone). So I don´t know for sure what was the problem and why it has now disappeared! The important is that I could finally listen to the last half of the podcast :)

  3. Enjoyed the podcast, thanks. Up to your usual high standards.

    There was one issue I wanted to query. You discussed at some length the so called Amazongate issue, and the retraction by the Sunday Times. Quite rightly, given the way Simon Lewis’s views were apparently misrepresented, as you described. You said that the original IPCC statement about 40% of the Amazon rainforest being extremely sensitive erred in citing a non-peer-reviewed publication, but you said that this was very minor given that this figure (the 40% presumably) was in the peer reviewed literature and was well supported by it.

    Reading the blogs this week, it now seems that the substance of the original claim that the IPCC statement isn’t supported in any direct way by peer reviewed literature, turns out to be true. It’s all a bit murky: The WWF publication apparently missed its reference out by mistake, and the missing reference turned out to be another not peer-reviewed piece. Even George Monbiot in his blog today admitted as much: ‘It is also true that nowhere in the peer-reviewed literature is there a specific statement that “up to 40% of the Amazonian forests could react drastically to even a slight reduction in precipitation”.’ As far as I could see reading the Guardian thread on his previous article on the topic, the peer-reviewed studies that have been referred to seem to be either about drought/severe drought, or a field experiment involving exclusion of 60% of rainfall. None of which seems to correspond closely to `slight’ reductions in rainfall. Of course there may be genuine reasons to worry about the effect of climate change on the Amazon, as seems to be the case, but it seems that this particular statement isn’t supported.

    1. This is what Simon Lewis said on the matter after the erroneous Sunday Times articles was published:

      The IPCC statement is basically correct but poorly written, and bizarrely referenced.

      It is very well known that in Amazonia, tropical forests exist when there is more than about 1.5 metres of rain a year, below that the system tends to ‘flip’ to savannah.

      Indeed, some leading models of future climate change impacts show a die-off of more than 40% Amazon forests, due to projected decreases in rainfall.

      The most extreme die-back model predicted that a new type of drought should begin to impact Amazonia, and in 2005 it happened for the first time: a drought associated with Atlantic, not Pacific sea surface temperatures.

      The effect on the forest was massive tree mortality, and the remaining Amazon forests changed from absorbing nearly two billion tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere a year, to being a massive source of over three billion tonnes.

      Slight reductions in rain fall would impact the rain forest if they reduce the annual rainfall to less than 1.5m.

      Also aside from the rainfall exclusion there are some modeling papers (written by Peter Cox I believe) wich indicate that much of the Amazon is sensitive to drought.

      My sense from this is that while the 40% figure may not appear directly in the peer-reviewed literature (otherwise we probably would have seen a quote) it does represent a figure that most Amazon researchers feel is well supported by the science. To me this means that the IPCC was correct in how it presented the scientific knowledge of the Amazon rainforest and droughts.

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