January 2012 Open Thread


  1. #1 Tony Duncan
    January 2, 2012

    Anyone know about a study i heard (from Cornell I think) about aerosols maybe a month ago. It was a woman on NPR talking about their research that shows aerosols not only block some radiation, but that they can also have a decade effect mitigating CO2 by biological processes as a precipitate after coming out of the atmosphere.
    This is the type of thing I have always thought if there were mitigating factors that biological ones might be more likely. But I have read nothing about it since

  2. #2 Scribe
    January 3, 2012
  3. #3 David Duff
    January 3, 2012

    First of all Happy New Year to you all and I can only hope fervently that your prognostications for global warming hurry up and manifest themselves – I can’t stand yet another dim, drear, wet, chilly Summer.

    However, I have another reason to enter these august columns today because I wish to bring to your attention some very wise words of warning from Friedrich Hayek, delivered during his acceptance speech for his Nobel Prize in Economics. Referring to the over-use and over-reliance on ‘mathematical models’, he said this, and I would simply urge you all to substitute the word ‘economists’ with ‘global climate technologists’:

    It seems to me that this failure of the economists [global climate technologists] to guide policy more successfully is closely connected with their propensity to imitate as closely as possible the procedures of the brilliantly successful physical sciences – an attempt which in our field may lead to outright error. It is an approach which has come to be described as the “scientistic” attitude – an attitude which, as I defined it some thirty years ago, ‘is decidedly unscientific in the true sense of the word, since it involves a mechanical and uncritical application of habits of thought to fields different from those in which they have been formed.’”

    The comments thread to the post is worth reading, too:


    So, there is your new Year’s resolution – avoid ‘scientistic attitudes’!

  4. David Duff, thanks for bringing us yet another spirited defence of bullshit. More, please.

    — frank

  5. #5 Jeff Harvey
    January 3, 2012

    *I can only hope fervently that your prognostications for global warming hurry up and manifest themselves – I can’t stand yet another dim, drear, wet, chilly Summer*

    The U.K. experienced its second warmest year on record in 2011; same over here in the Netherlands. Spring was the warmest and driest yet recorded in both countries; autumn was also near the warmest and the driest as well. For the first time ever water restrictions almost had to be applied here in late November. The winter has so far seen record warmth: no frosts at all in December, and to my utter shock spring and summer annual plants – crucifers, umbellifers etc – are not only growing well but many are flowering in warm microclimates along south facing ditches and slopes. I spent the Christmas period on the island of Terscehlling and the level of plant growth along roadsides and medaows was something I have never seen at this time of year. Unprecedented. If this goes on it will cause havoc amongst a wide array of late winter-early spring ecological interactions, and further exacebrate phenological asynchronies.

    Eastern North bAmerica has also had an exceptionally warm winter period: no snow at all in Wisconsin and eastern Minnesota, and a colleague at the University of Toronto told me that lakes in central Ontario that normally freeze in late Novemeber were still open just before Christmas.

    Duffer: go back to school and learn a little.

  6. #6 Richard Simons
    January 3, 2012

    Eastern North bAmerica has also had an exceptionally warm winter period:

    Not just eastern North America. The Canadian prairies have been well above average, with my part of Manitoba being forecast to be 18C above normal today.

  7. #7 David Duff
    January 3, 2012

    ‘Yeah, but it’s just weather, innit’!

    Now where have I read those words, or something very like them,before?

  8. #8 Johnny Vector
    January 3, 2012

    Yes, Duffster, it’s just weather. So why did you need to misrepresent it in the first place?

    Also, what part of climatology is not part of “brilliantly successful physical sciences”?

  9. #9 Jeffrey Davis
    January 3, 2012

    re:3 and Hayek’s rejection of scientific models

    Not surprising since Hayek’s ideas are closer to religion than science.

  10. The words below are truly wise words, but of course they’ll simply fly over David Duff’s head:

    > Fairness means “everyone wins” to you? That’s your problem then, that’s not what fairness means at all. Fairness is when the rules are applied equally to all no matter what someone might think of them.


    — frank

  11. #11 Lionel A
    January 3, 2012

    Jeff @ 5

    If this goes on it will cause havoc amongst a wide array of late winter-early spring ecological interactions, and further exacebrate phenological asynchronies.

    Absolutely, I have heard much about such disruption of late but I doubt Duffer can even parse those last three words without reference. Quite beyond his experience.

  12. #12 Composer99
    January 3, 2012

    Of course, Duff’s whinging about “it’s just weather” has to do with the repeated attempts by denialists to claim that some “anomalously” cold or snowy weather over a very short time scale over a very small land area disproves the reality of climate change (aka “weather affects climate”).

    Whereas what we know of physics, of the atmospheric and oceanic circulatory systems, and weather variability, we would expect to find that the rapid human-induced global warming would result in a ‘loading of the dice’, so to speak, favouring increased quantity and severity of extreme hot weather events and fewer (though not, indeed never “no”) extreme cold weather events (aka “climate affects weather”).

    What do we find when we examine the data? [What a surprise!](http://skepticalscience.com/news.php?n=1116) Climate affects the weather.

  13. #13 Jeff Harvey
    January 3, 2012

    *’Yeah, but it’s just weather, innit’!*

    Sure thing Duffo, but isn’t it interesting that when the deniers conflate climate and weather its OK, but when their opponents do it the deniers scream foul play! Foul play!

    Sunspot has honed the technique. He cuts-and-pastes obscure articles about cold weather events some place or other, than when others do the same with many more examples showing record high temperatures, extended heat waves etc., he goes off on a tangent about the evils of ‘warmers’ and how they just don’t understand the importance of scale.

    Tells me all I need to know about deniers: hypocrites one and all.

  14. #14 SteveC
    January 3, 2012


    I would simply urge you all to substitute the word ‘economists’ with ‘global climate technologists’

    No-one here gives a flying one for your grubby urgings. Please take them, along with whatever thoughts wander into your head looking for something to connect with, elsewhere. I’d like to think we can have one Open Thread that doesn’t devolve into 2500 vacuous, drivelling posts by Duff, but going on previous history…

  15. #15 Alan
    January 3, 2012

    Why does anyone bother to engage with this pompous buffoon?

  16. #16 KiwiInOz
    January 3, 2012

    DD, your Hayek analogy fails because –

    IMHO, orthodox economists tend to try and fit reality into their models and theories, disregarding reality when it doesn’t do what it should do.

    Climate scientists tend to try to understand why reality is doing what it is doing, and use models as a tool for understanding. The models get dropped or their structure and interactions refined if they don’t correspond to reality.

  17. #17 Craig Allen
    January 3, 2012

    Hey Duff, did actually read that Freidrich Heydeck quote? He said that the problem with the economists is that they have (unsuccessfully) tried to “imitate as closely as possible the procedures of the brilliantly successful physical sciences”.

    Climate science is one of those “brilliantly successful physical sciences”. Well done on the home goal!

    If economists had even a fraction of the success of climate scientists with their predictions, the economies of World would not be in such a mess.

  18. #18 Geoff Beacon
    January 3, 2012

    I am skeptical of climate models.

    Haven’t they been underestimating several effects of climate change?

    Aren’t they missing important climate feedbacks?

    Aren’t they lulling policy makers into a false sense of security.

    One Arctic expert said to me recently “If there’s a conflict between reality and models, the modelers stick to their models.”

    Reality seems much more serious than the models have predicted.

  19. #19 Mike Pope
    January 3, 2012

    Good point Geoff Beacon.

    Climate models make an important contribution to our understanding of the effects of AGW but I too am concerned that they often exclude data related to Arctic slow feedbacks, particularly retreat of ice sheets, loss of albedo and increase in methane emissions.

    How can one possibly predict likely movement in sea level rise and average global temperature without taking these matters into consideration?

  20. #20 Mikem
    January 3, 2012


    I can’t stand yet another dim, drear, wet, chilly Summer.

    So you either live on the east coast of Australia which has been affected by a La Nina this summer (c’mon Dave, what does a La Nina do to the east coast of Australia?), or you are living on another planet somewhere in a galaxy far, far away.

    And not 5 milliseconds after making this ludicrous and obvious comment related to local weather and local climate effects, you lambast others for countering with the same.

    Heck Dave, why don’t you just issue a signed declaration that everything to do with global warming is crap, and leave it at that? Then at least we’d save some time and effort here.

  21. #21 Bernard J.
    January 3, 2012

    David Duff.

    We had our warmest January night ever the day before yesterday, so by your previous winter logic global warming is now moving apace.

    Glad to see that you’re finally on board.

  22. #22 SteveC
    January 4, 2012

    @ Bernard (above)

    The problem is since Duff regularly transposes “weather” and “climate” at will and as it suits his purposes at the time, he will sooner or later quote BoM stats for Sydney in December 2011, which was the coolest since 1960 and the least sunny since 2003, and thus will predictably shriek “climate change is bunk”. Like others of his ilk he conveniently dismisses what’s going on across the rest of the globe, not to say long term trends.

  23. #23 Fran Barlow
    January 4, 2012

    The Duffer said:

    So, there is your new Year’s resolution – avoid ‘scientistic attitudes’!

    That’s excellent advice. If the deniers take it to heart, we should have less noice and more signal in discussions on questions of climate. They are forever copying and pasting stuff they don’t understand or can’t be bothered reading merely so they can sound as if what they propose is scientifically rigorous when their misuse of the content and copy and paste tropes amount to scientistic gaffleflab. Plimer’s “questions” to Monbiot (use the flitches, Luke) some years back were an excellent example of this. So too is anything from Monckton.

  24. #24 Scribe
    January 4, 2012

    Ian Plimer in 2009 “debunks” AGW by claiming that:

    “It’s been freezing in Perth and bucketing down …”

    Reality intervenes in Plimer’s denialist script. 2011 was hottest year ever in Perth:

    It’s official – 2011 was Perth’s hottest year on record, with the city recording an average temperature of 25.7 degrees. Heatwaves at the start and end of the year and above average temperatures for every month but November pushed the average above last year’s 25.3 degrees – which was also a record. The city has now sweltered through three out of its four hottest ever years in the past three years alone, and broken the record in successive years.

  25. #25 David Duff
    January 4, 2012

    Well, I’m delighted to tell you that compared to the last two or three winters this one has so far been as mild as May – well, not quite, but you know what I mean. Mind you bitter British experience tells me that we will pay for it in Jan/Feb.

    However, I have returned to chide you all – you must do better:

    “UAH Global Temperature Update for Dec. 2011: +0.13 deg. C”

    The same as November! Come on, chaps, burn a bit more coal!

  26. #26 JamesA
    January 4, 2012

    Why must we forever have to put up with the distraction that is short term data? It’s like some flat earther claiming that mountain ranges are responsible for all the deviations from horizontal in the planet’s surface, not some so-called ‘curvature’. Global warming has always been about multidecadal trends and it saddens me that some people parade short periods of year on year data as if they want to advertise their statistical incompetence. The GWPF even made it their logo!

  27. #27 Lionel A
    January 4, 2012


    However, I have returned to chide you all – you must do better:

    “UAH Global Temperature Update for Dec. 2011: +0.13 deg. C”

    The same as November! Come on, chaps, burn a bit more coal!

    You are nothing more than a pitiable wind-up merchant who is best ignored. I have come across many such as you over time, those in the navy often had poor survival prospects on long voyages for they eventually were turned ashore for treatment at Stonehouse and Netley after they grew mum-chance by being ignored.

  28. #28 ianam
    January 4, 2012

    I would simply urge you all to substitute the word ‘economists’ with ‘global climate technologists’

    Which further demonstrates that you are dumber than a sack of hammers, as this may be the worst analogy ever. Hayek’s statement is about the inapplicability of the models of the physical sciences to the social sciences, the problem being that people and human social institutions aren’t like molecules. But perhaps, being such a “classical” fellow, you believe in wind nymphs.

  29. #29 Bernard J.
    January 4, 2012

    Anthony Watts has [a post about shark hybridisation](backupurl.com/lg21up ), where the media confabulated the scientists’ claims with signatures of global warming.

    See if you can count how many cherries he picked for this one.

    And he has the hide to winge about the media’s twisting of the facts…

  30. #30 Acacia
    January 4, 2012

    Scribe @ 24

    Amazingly, or perhaps not so, The Australian’s Graham Lloyd forgets to tell us about Perth in his summation of the [2011 Australian climate](http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/health-science/drought-breaking-la-nina-made-the-continent-cooler/story-e6frg8y6-1226236841072).

  31. #31 Vince Whirlwind
    January 4, 2012

    Wow! Graham Lloyd manages to write an article about climate/weather issues without distortions or quoting any lies from contrarian non-experts.

    Wonders will never cease.
    Maybe the family Christmas lunch saw him set straight by his wiser relatives?

  32. #32 Joel Shore
    January 4, 2012

    Also of note at Anthony Watts’s blog is this “Unified Theory of Climate” by Ned Nikolov and Karl Zeller ( http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/12/29/unified-theory-of-climate ). This “theory” is taking in not just the usual suspects who believe the greenhouse effect is fictitious but even some “AGW skeptics” who were previously smart enough to reject that nonsense in favor of their lesser nonsense (such as David M Hoffer, tallbloke, …)

    It is really a train wreck of historic proportions over there, with the usual bluster about new paradigms and Copernicus (apparently the paradigm of Conservation of Energy having outlived its usefulness)…Read it and weep!

  33. #33 Charles
    January 4, 2012

    I’d like to echo the call to be done with David Duff. I see little point to his posting here or to others responding. I stop by fairly regularly to get information on what’s happening in climate circles, but I find the posts between Mr. Duff and others largely noise.

  34. #34 Andy S
    January 5, 2012

    Joel Shore @ 32,

    Oh dear, it’a the old “Ideal Gas Law” argument again. PV = nRT.

  35. #35 Andy S
    January 5, 2012

    From Nikolov and Zeller:
    > Pressure by itself is not a source of energy! Instead, it enhances (amplifies) the energy supplied by an external source such as the Sun through density-dependent rates of molecular collision. This relative enhancement only manifests as an actual energy in the presence of external heating.


    >Hence, the atmosphere does not act as a ‘blanket’ reducing the surface infrared cooling to space as maintained by the current GH theory, but is in and of itself a source of extra energy through pressure. This makes the GH effect a thermodynamic phenomenon, not a radiative one as presently assumed!

  36. #36 Olaus Petri
    January 5, 2012

    Bernhard my friend, I agree. Watts put it all down in a nutshell. When asked directly the CAGW-manhandled researcher says the following (on the link between climate change and shark hybridization):

    “I have now stated numerous times that it is extremely unlikely that climate change caused the hybridization event”

    And this is the future fellas. When sociologists, anthropologists, theologist, historians, etc, start scrutinizing the “robust proofs” of CAGW, they will conclude that most of it was a hypothesis kidnapped from the “lab” ending up as insubstantial buzz-wordings often reinforced by media and blogs like Deltoid.

  37. #37 Robert Murphy
    January 5, 2012

    Ned Nikolov and Karl Zeller also feel they can make up new values for established figures like the mean surface temperature of the Moon, which they put at 154K, not the standard 250K. This enables them to claim their calculations show perfect agreement with observation. The Dunning-Kruger Effect at its best.

    As a funny aside, a denier at a different forum had made a claim a few weeks ago that the IPCC doesn’t consider water vapor a GHG, so I showed a direct quote from the last report saying it was the most important GHG responsible for a majority of the GHE. He ignored my post and made the same claim to someone else a day later. Now, he’s pushing this Unified Climate Theory crap, which actually *does* relegate water vapor to insignificance for the GHE. Like most deniers, he never even noticed the inconsistency. Anything But CO2!

  38. #38 pentaxZ
    January 5, 2012

    *[Stupidity removed. Take it to the Jonas thread.*]

  39. #39 Andy S
    January 5, 2012

    Maybe the trolls should be contained in their own thread. Don’t feed them.

  40. #40 Jeff Harvey
    January 5, 2012


    Agreed. Send PentaxZ back to one of the sites where his kind of overt stupidity is appreciated. It isn’t here.

  41. #41 Turboblocke
    January 5, 2012

    Seen elsewhere:
    Back in 1990 Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman wrote “Good Omens The nice and accurate prophesies of Agnes Nutter, Witch”

    A few quotes from a scene:
    “Been letting ourselves go a bit with the old hydrocarbons, perhaps?”
    “I’m sorry?”
    “Could you tell me your planet’s albedo, sir?”…
    “Er. no.”
    “Well, I’m sorry to have to tell you sir, that your polar ice caps are below regulation size for a planet of this category.”

    “CO2 level up point five percent”…”You do know you could find yourself charged with being a dominent species while under the influence of impulse-driven consumerism, don’t you?”

  42. #42 Bernard J.
    January 5, 2012

    Tamino’s running [a little survey of people’s estimations of values for a little number](http://tamino.wordpress.com/2012/01/04/what-is-epsilon/):

    >What’s the chance that if we continue with business-as-usual, man-made global warming will lead to disastrous climate change? It isn’t zero. It isn’t one. What is epsilon?

    I’d encourage readers here to visit if they’ve not already done so. There are a few issues with definitions, which is why I disagree with Tamino’s comment that “[i]t isn’t one”, but nevertheless the thread is really quite interesting.

    It’s actually something that I’d like to see more formally conducted, just to get an idea of what folk different fields and degrees of expertise think…

  43. #43 CrookedTimber
    January 5, 2012

    Hey Tim,
    Thought you might be interested in a post over at Skepticblog. Shermer posted a review of a presentation by John Lott (more guns = less crime hypothesis). I linked to an old post of yours which I thought was a good critique. Lott shows up in the comments at #29. He doesn’t seem to care for you much. If you have time you may want to join the discussion.

  44. #44 pentaxZ
    January 5, 2012

    Hahaha…of course, in Climate Scientology any Inconvenient Data must be terminated. Hillarious. 🙂

  45. #45 Jeff Harvey
    January 5, 2012

    *Hahaha…of course, in Climate Scientology any Inconvenient Data must be terminated. Hillarious. :-)*

    No, only the opinions of idiots. You qualify big time.

  46. #46 Robert Murphy
    January 5, 2012

    Ned Nikolav has now decided that it wasn’t enough to compare himself with Copernicus:

    “I suppose you also have a problem with the Theory of Relativity, since it was proposed by a low-level clerk working for a Swiss Patent Office … :-)”

    The Newton analogy can’t be too far away. lol

  47. #47 Robert Murphy
    January 5, 2012

    This one will make your head explode (more Nikolav/Einstein):

    “Large climatic shifts evident in the paleo-record such as the 16C directional cooling of the Globe during the past 51 million years (Hansen et al. 2008; Fig. 8) can now be explained via changes in atmospheric mass and surface pressure caused by geologic variations in Earth’s tectonic activity. Thus, we hypothesize that the observed mega-cooling of Earth since the early Eocene was due to a 53% net loss of atmosphere to Space brought about by a reduction in mantle degasing as a result of a slowdown in continental drifts and ocean floor spreading.”

    The Earth lost 53% of it’s atmosphere in the last 50 million years. Yep.

  48. #48 Olaus Petri
    January 5, 2012

    Bernard, the shark hybridization is even worse than we thought:


  49. #49 Composer99
    January 5, 2012

    I would have gone with [frickin’ sharks with frickin’ lasers attached to their heads](http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bQ88I1V_v5k) myself.

  50. #50 Olaus Petri
    January 5, 2012

    Composer99, don’t bring unrealistic shark scenarios into the picture. Hate to brake it to you but your sharks are Scifi. Mine are real though. 😉

  51. #51 pentaxZ
    January 5, 2012

    “The hottest year on record bla bla bla”. Yeah right.


  52. #52 Jeremy C
    January 5, 2012

    Davy Boy,

    Sorry to come upon this late in the day….

    >ome very wise words of warning from Friedrich Hayek, delivered during his acceptance speech for his Nobel Prize in Economics

    The problem is that there isn’t a Nobel prize for economics and there never has been. What you are referring to is, I think, called, ‘The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, founder of the Nobel Prize’ but it has nothing to do with the Nobel Institute, instead it is given by a bunch of bankers. I could be wrong but I believe they also pony up a considerable sum of money each year so the guy or gal who is decided upon by the bunch of bankers gets to sit at the same dinner table as people who win a Nobel prize.

    The funny thing is have you ever heard an economist correcting ignorant journalists who insist on calling it a Noble prize.

    So Davy boy why don’t you go and ask the Australian receipient of a real Noble prize for their assessment of the science done to understand AGW.

  53. #53 bill
    January 5, 2012

    Trolls out of their enclosure alert! Back to the Jonas thread please, boys.

  54. #54 Fran Barlow
    January 5, 2012

    Sorry if this is a bit off-topic — nothing to do with Climate Change — but as this is in Bernard’s broad area, perhaps he (or others who know) could respond.

    I heard an item on ABC this morning about duck hunting. As someone who has, in concert with wildlife protection organisations, participated in wildlife rescue over the years, and most especially during “duck hunting” seasons, I need to declare my own predisposition on the matter. That said …

    It was claimed by a farmer-type that duck numbers are in plague proportions. Is this true?

  55. #55 Jeremy C
    January 5, 2012


    Would another question be, what numbers are plague proportions for ducks?

  56. #56 pterosaur
    January 5, 2012

    Fran @54
    The claim you refer to is one commonly expressed for a number of different creatures by those with a perceived interest in their removal (such as, in my experience ducks,swans,seals.)

    With respect to ducks, they are, indeed opportunistic breeders, and the numbers breeding successfully will vary in response to the availability of suitable breeding and feeding sites.
    Thus, after a prolonged wet period, waterbird populations will rapidly increase.

    I regard the term “plague proportions” with more than a little scepticism myself,particularly when it is applied to native species. However, the term seems quite appropriate when applied to such creatures as goats, rabbits and mice.

  57. #57 MikeH
    January 5, 2012

    Climate Progress have an article on carbon tax reporting in Oz.


    While the Murdoch press predictably occupy the top 6 spots for negative campaigning against the carbon tax, the SMH and West Australian are not far behind.

    What is striking about the analysis (from Australian Center for Independent Journalism) is how the fossil fuel industry lobbyists have shaped the reporting.

  58. #58 Scribe
    January 5, 2012

    “The hottest year on record bla bla bla”. Yeah right.


    Er .. you do realise that the graph you reference has “present” at 1855?

    Here’s the same data updated with more recent temps:

    Is u a confused little twoll now? Here’s help from skepticalscience.com:
    Myth: Most of the last 10,000 years were warmer

  59. #59 MikeM
    January 5, 2012

    @5 and on the general topic of unseasonable weather, particularly relating to unusually cold weather in Europe and-or North America, NOAA ClimateWatch Magazine has a piece on the effect of the Arctic Oscillation – variation in a jet stream which can cause average winter temperatures in parts of the northern hemisphere to vary as much as plus or minus 7 degrees from long term averages, http://www.climatewatch.noaa.gov/image/2011/so-far-arctic-oscillation-favoring-mild-winter-for-eastern-u-s

    New Scientist had an article last December 16, “Snowmageddon: What’s behind extreme winter weather” http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21228432.900-snowmageddon-whats-behind-extreme-winter-weather.html (paywalled). It began:

    “LAST winter, Florida got so cold that torpid iguanas fell from trees, pythons froze to death, crops were damaged and corals in the seas around the Florida Keys died in greater numbers than ever recorded before. Further north, heavy snowstorms caused chaos across much of the US.

    “Across the pond in the UK, it got pretty nippy too – and it stayed cold for much longer than usual. The average temperature of the country in December 2010 was -1 °C, well below the long-term December average of 4.2 °C. It was the second coldest December in central England since records began back in 1659. Here too, heavy snowfalls brought cars, trains and planes to a standstill…”

    It goes on to note though that the northern hemisphere as a whole was actually warmer than the long term average – and in arctic regiions, very much warmer. The article concludes that “the jury is still out” as to whether changes due to global warming are implicated in such extreme winter weather events, but says this is suggested by “a growing number of studies”.

    We are reminded yet again that the connection between climate and weather is far more complex that “if the climate is warming the weather should be warmer”.

  60. #60 TrueSceptic
    January 5, 2012

    52 Jeremy,

    Not so fast

    Like the Nobel Laureates in Chemistry and Physics, Laureates in Economics are selected by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, and a Prize Committee similar to the Nobel Committees is used.[11][12]

    (From Wikipedia)

    So, it’s not a “Nobel Prize” per se, but is as good as. Would you equally disparage the actual Nobel Prizes because of their origin?

    Of course, there is no Nobel Prize for Mathematics or Biology either. Did this reflect expert opinion at the time, or Nobel’s own views on what could confer the “greatest benefit on mankind”?

  61. #61 Bernard J.
    January 5, 2012


    As [pterosaur noted](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2012/01/january_2012_open_thread.php#comment-6207262) many duck species exhibit boom-and-bust type breeding behaviour, in the vein of an r-strategist organism.

    Certainly, if one is going to point a gun at ducks, the current season would be the time when doing so has the least effect on overall numbers.

    Having said that, whether ducks are “in plague proportions” is another matter. Again, as pterosaur notes, native species rarely demonstrate ecological impacts, as we usually perceive them, that are attributable to “plague species” such as mice. Sometimes we might be inclined to use the term when we plant an agricultural crop on the old habitats or near the extant habitats of natives (think cockatoos), or do something else similarly stupid in terms of inevitable consequence, but this is usually an economic value judgement rather than an ecological one.

    And this leads me to expand on [Jeremy C’s](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2012/01/january_2012_open_thread.php#comment-6207261) point about the absolute numbers. What vested interests might term as “plague proportions” is often a fraction of what is an equilibrium size of the population in a non human-impacted context.

    Take minke whales for example. Japan justifies their hunting in part by claiming that they are in “plague proportions”. Erm, hardly.

    Or, to hark back to the waterfowl subject of your question, I once spoke with an old fisherman who worked the Kooragang wetlands and the lower the Hunter River back in the early 20th century. He, and his father before him, used to shoot ducks in flocks that he said darkened the sky from one horizon to the other. He could bring down three or four birds with one shot, and other old-timers I spoke to told of similar bird numbers. From the details they gave, I estimate that at least three or four bird species that used to use the Hunter estuary did so in numbers in the order of millions of individuals of each species. Compare that to today, where one would be fortunate indeed to see a flock of any species that actually reaches into the tens of thousands, let alone more.

    Interestingly the fisherman said that their gizzards were sometimes full of rice, apparently from a direct flight from Indonesia: Australia was not growing rice at that time. If this is the case then the numbers and patterns of waterbird migration along the east coast of Australia have been greatly altered indeed over the last century or so.

    The bottom line – context is all. One man’s “plague proportions” are another man’s recovering tattered remnants.

  62. #62 Olaus Petri
    January 6, 2012

    Just recovering from the shock that the shark hybridization wasn’t a sign of AGW I got blown away by some more possible good news. Could this be true fellas?


  63. #63 pentaxZ
    January 6, 2012

    [*Pentaxz — from now on you can only post to the Jonas thread*]

  64. #64 pentaxZ
    January 6, 2012

    What’s the purpose with all your ad hominems?

  65. #65 Jeff Harvey
    January 6, 2012

    You know, its a sad thing that Olaus and PentaxZ are now contaminating this thread with their brand of wilful ignorance gleaned from right wing blogs and never – repeat that never – from the primary literature. Where are the peer-reviewed studies, boys?

    Note how PentaxZ then reverts to completely unscientific ramblings – that AGW ís a big fat lie'(no supporting references), that ‘facts are facts’ (no supporting references) and then complaining that the majority of us who hold opposing views want to ‘silence the infidell [sic]’, meaning him.

    No, you clown, we would like you to support your vacuous rants with a discussion of views from the empirical literature. WUWT and Joanne Nova do not make the cut. They are heavily biased ínterpreters of interpretations’ and neither has published anything relevant in the scientific literature. As for the present day warming being a ‘normal event’, of course this is patently absurd, given the rate of warming in higher latitudes against the background of a largerly deterministic system that operates over decacadel and even longer temporal scales (as JamesA correctly pointed out earlier). The problem is that deniers like PentaxZ and Olaus don’t have a clue about the importance of scale in the scheme of climate maintenance or the regulation of functioning in communities and ecosystems. Their brand of unscientific posturing would be shot down in any academic arena, so they instead insist on contiminating the blogosphere.

    With respect to ‘ducks being in plague proportions’, I agree with Bernard. This is certainly nonsense if we use North America and Europe as proxies. It must be rememberered that very large numbers of wetlands have been drained and filled in over the past century, and that dabbling duck populations at least have suffered as a result. Waders and sandpipers have fared even worse, as many of these species are transcontinetal migrants and require strings of intact wetalnds on their migratory routes in order to ‘refuel’ en route.

    We now know that some migratory waterfowl are also adjusting their seasonal migration patterns in response to shifts in the rapid upper latitiudinal warming, and that some species are either arriving on their wintering grounds up to a month later than normal or else they are altering their wintering distributions. Certainly their are innumerable biotic indicators of a rapidly changing climate, but, as in just about everything, there will be spome winners (e.g. habitat generalists) and a much greater number of losers (e.g. habitat specialists or species with narrowly define ranges).

  66. #66 spottedquoll
    January 6, 2012

    Thanks for that background info on Kooragang, Bernard. I may have talked to the same gent at one stage. While the numbers of waterbirds around the Kooragang area aren’t what they were, the number of species commonly sighted is on the improve* and with the openning of the floodgates at Hexham a couple of years ago numbers hopefully should improve further (and isn’t it the aim of all threatened species programs that they are so successful the target animal becomes a pest itself?).

    *Saw a Jabiru on the saltmarsh there about 6 years ago and apparently they’re regularly spotted these days.

  67. #67 Olaus Petri
    January 6, 2012

    Dear Jeffie, regarding the shark issue I quoted the researcher herself which, in my book, is the way to go. More “primary” is hard to come by (if my citation is correct). Do you have any objections or do you find the media angle on par with her research?

    Regarding tornados and WUWT, I posted a Q. I was hoping a deltoid could narrow it down to me, but I see that you, instead, prefer to hide in the comfort zone yours – the cursing and name-calling fetal position.

    Way to go Jeff. Keep fantasizing about the right wing illuminati.

  68. #68 Robert Murphy
    January 6, 2012

    “I understand that it must be hard for you Climate Scientologists to realise[sic] that the A in AGW is a big fat lie.”

    “What’s the purpose with all your ad homonems[sic]?”


  69. #69 pentaxZ
    January 6, 2012

    *[Stupidity filter applied]*

  70. #70 Andy S
    January 6, 2012

    Robert Murphy @ 68:

    > Poe?

    I have also suspected that.

    Those who want to feed the ravenous trolls can preferably do that on the Jonas Thread.

  71. #71 chek
    January 6, 2012

    “What’s the purpose with all your ad homonems[sic]?”


    Or possibly a Freudian slip?

  72. #72 David Duff
    January 6, 2012

    Sometimes people ask me why I bother to visit here so often. The answer is simple – the commenters here are so witty. Take this for example:

    Climate science is one of those “brilliantly successful physical sciences”.

    Honestly, what a side-splitter – it’s the way you tell ’em!

    And, Charles @33, the best thing I can suggest is that as you read this open thread stick your fingers in your ears and keep shouting ‘la-la-la-la-la’!

  73. #73 Jeff Harvey
    January 6, 2012


    Thanks for sending Pentax where he belongs. I think that you should do the same thing with Olaus.

    Re: Olaus, you are clutching at straws. Essentially, all that you do is surf a few anti-environmental climate change denial blogs and rehash their nonsense elsewhere. How much of the primary literature do you read? That’s a fairly easy question, because I have not yet seen you discuss the findings of a single peer-reviewed study. Instead, you simply cut-and-past gibberish from WUWT and then expect people here to engage in rational discourse with you.

    As many have said, the issue of climate change-related effects covers an immense amount of literature showing biotic and abiotic effects. What does Watt’s think he will get out of data showing that the number of F3-F5 tornadoes has not icnreased significantly since the 1970s? That there is no warming? Even the most die-hard denialists generally acknowlege that the biosphere is warming at present, and there are thousands of biotic indicators to prove it. I can be certain that, since you apparently cannot tell a mole cricket from a giraffe, your understanding of range shifts, pehnological changes, altitudinal shifts, and changes in life-history patterns along with a suite of other biotic responses to warming will be poor or non-existant. That’s why my advice for you is to keep your head firmly ticked up your a@#* and stick with the semi-literate brigades over at the denial sites who tell you what you want to hear.

    Finally, its no use throwing staw man arguments such as fantasies about the ‘rigth wing illuminati’ at me. Its pretty well established by now that those most bitterly opposed to the science of climate change and any means of dealing with warming come from the wacky end of the political right. That you deny this tells me more about you than just about anything else. Since you clearly have a very poor grasp of environmental science, along with the Joe Barton’s and James Inhofe’s of this world, what else is there to conclude? That you motives and opinions are driven by a deep-rooted heart-wrenching search for the truth? Get real.

  74. #74 pentaxZ
    January 6, 2012

    Never underestimate the power of stupid people in a large group. Deltoids in a nutshell.

  75. #75 Chris O'Neill
    January 6, 2012

    Never underestimate the power

    Sure we’ve got power. If you say so, Z head.

  76. #76 chrisp
    January 6, 2012

    Hey Jeff, here is something for the deniers in here to ponder.

    Australian Bureau of Meteorology Outlook predictions for max and min temperature

    ( http://www.warwickhughes.com/blog/?p=1234 )

  77. #77 John
    January 6, 2012

    >Sometimes people ask me why I bother to visit here so often. The answer is simple – the commenters here are so witty.

    I agree. What this website needs is more hilariously original cracks about Obama using teleprompters and black lesbian mother-in-laws. Har har har har!

    Nice to see you crawling back in here Duff. How many times have you posted since you said you’d never post again?

    And any closer to telling me just how you can believe Morner’s predictions when his observations are so wrong? Or what alleged projections Prof. Mann has made?

    Or are you just going to keep making tepid ad hom attacks to hide the fact your scientific method is opinion first, evidence second?

  78. #78 Chris
    January 6, 2012

    As Duff as they come:

    Sometimes people ask me why I bother to visit here so often.

    To complain that you’re missing out on global warming-induced disasters, e.g.:

    I can only hope fervently that your prognostications for global warming hurry up and manifest themselves

    Please Dave, don’t let your envy get the better of you. You’ll get your disasters soon enough. But if you’re so impatient, why don’t you buy some property within 1 metre of high tide level? Or buy some property within a flood zone like Bangkok’s. Better still, buy some property in Bangla Desh that is both within 2 meters of high tide and within a flood zone. I’m sure you’d get lots of fun for the rest of your life. Or if you don’t like the thought of living in Asia, you might be able to tolerate putting up with the colonials in Australia where there’s plenty of not yet very but soon to be low-lying and/or flood-prone property in lots of desirable locations. There’s more than enough opportunity for people with a psychopathic sense of fun like yours. Don’t deprive yourself. Life is too short.

  79. #79 John
    January 6, 2012

    And I long for more of Duff’s revolutionary theory on why biology isn’t Real Science.

  80. #80 jrkrideau
    January 6, 2012

    I don’t usually read WUWT but I was looking around and read “Mercury fingered in Permian-Triassic extinction”. It seems that Watts has quoted some newspaper interview or, possibly, a Univ of Calgary press release though the only one I could find was not the same as WUWT’s.

    I must say that I was fascinated by the comments. A more stunning example of the Dunning-Kruger effect, probably, could not be found! Apparently no one has even tried to read the original article. (I tried but could not find it on Nature Geology where it supposedly should be in the current issue.)

    The opinions and the level of lack of knowledge among most, though certainly not all, commentators was amazing. It was highly amusing in a somewhat sad way.

  81. #81 Composer99
    January 6, 2012


    Or are you [David Duff] just going to keep making tepid ad hom attacks to hide the fact your scientific method is opinion first, evidence second never?


  82. #82 Olaus Petri
    January 6, 2012

    Dear Jeffie, I can’t help you when you are in tourette mode 24/7. That said, I read the shark article and there was nothing deltoidish in it, hence the quota from her was indeed even more primary than the article itself (since it didn’t address AGW vs hybridization).

    If the wattsian claim are true regarding the tornados its just another version of the same deltoid virus that Jess’ research was caught with (Or the Himalayan glaciers etc…). Some sectarian unscientific scare mongers make a fire and brimstone conclusion distorting the facts.

    And, as I said above (and many times before), in retrospect (C)AGW will be looked upon as yet another scientific hypothesis that was abducted from its proper milieu – the lab. And who’s guilty? White heterosexual middle aged men in hunt for status an prestige. 😉

  83. #83 Olaus Petri
    January 6, 2012

    Food for thoughts:


    Curry is a real climate scientist, by the way.

  84. #84 Jeremy C
    January 6, 2012

    TrueSceptic@ 60.

    Point taken that the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel is not chosen by a bunch of bankers but only funded by them.

    However, mathematics has its own prize, the Fields Medal and economics was around when the Nobel Prizes were established. I’m not sure what prizes are around for biology.

  85. Olaus Petri:

    > If the wattsian claim are true


    > as I said above (and many times before), in retrospect (C)AGW will be looked upon

    In other words, your ‘predictions’ have invariably been shown to be bullshit, and that makes you very proud?

    Go buy some land in Bangladesh and knock yourself out.

      * * *

    Meanwhile, some good news.

    — frank

  86. #86 Olaus Petri
    January 6, 2012

    Dear frank, “if” is vise to add when not all cards are on the table. Any problems with that?

    I also said “retrospect” which means in a near future, not hundred years from now. But what the heck, we have already reached beyond the point of return, according to you climate scare cultists. 🙂

  87. Olaus Petri:

    > > In other words, your ‘predictions’ have invariably been shown to be bullshit, and that makes you very proud?

    > I […] said “retrospect” which means in a near future

    Enough said.

    — frank

  88. #88 Olaus Petri
    January 6, 2012

    Yes, I believe so frankie. Take a deep breath and exhale all the hot air that is reckoned as science at Deltoid. 🙂

  89. #89 Stu
    January 6, 2012

    Curry is a real climate scientist, by the way.

    Really? You’ve found a real climate scientist? Is she the only one, or are there others?

  90. #90 GSW
    January 6, 2012


    I’m sure there are others stu. In the main, they tend to keep very quiet about it though in an attempt to “fit in”.

    Being ‘outed’ can be detrimental to your career.


  91. GSW:

    > In the main, they tend to keep very quiet about it

    Or maybe it’s just your excuse to ignore what someone actually says so that you can put words in his mouth. GSW, you are an idiot.

    (Hint: when I say ‘GSW, you are an idiot’ I don’t secretly mean ‘GSW, you are a genius’. Seriously.)

    — frank

  92. #92 pentaxZ
    January 6, 2012

    Climate Scientology Church.

  93. #93 ianam
    January 6, 2012

    by: Olaus Petri

    I thought Olaus had also been banished to the Jonas thread? All the trolls seem to be testing their chains.

  94. #94 Phil M
    January 6, 2012

    I see that the biggest CO2 emitter in the world, China, has decided to implement a [carbon tax](http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/01/05/china-carbon-idUSL3E8C5D1220120105). Makes for uncomfortable talk around the denier dinner table.
    “Oh noes, theys are all against us. Imagine if they end up creating a better world & its all for nothing!”.

  95. #95 ianam
    January 6, 2012

    Curry is a real climate scientist, by the way.

    Whether she (still) is or not, she isn’t doing climate science in that article. And Pekka Pirilä gets it right:

    Just from logical point of view an error cascade of climate change skepticism makes as much sense than an error cascade of climate science. To me it’s actually obvious that very many specific claims of climate change skeptics are pure error cascade.

    Blogs like this raise also the question: Are they originating from some deeper understanding and found relevant for the AGW issue, or are they the result of searching for new ways to support own views of AGW.

  96. #96 ianam
    January 6, 2012

    Also in that den of ignorant and illogical deniers (none of whom Curry ever corrects, regardless of how blatantly wrong they are), one can find posts by a handful of sensible people, like Joshua. His comments are indeed food for thought — by people able and willing to think, unlike cherry pickers like Olaus for whom the only “real” climate scientists are those who say (or can be misinterpreted to say) what he wants to hear.

  97. #97 MikeH
    January 6, 2012

    Curry is a real climate scientist, by the way.

    Curry has cut and paste a piece of pop psychology from a scifi fan.

    And the stupid are lapping it up. Petri, the crank magnet was never going to miss it – being completely devoid of science, it is right up his alley.

  98. #98 TrueSceptic
    January 6, 2012

    I see that dear old Uncle Fred is at it again. He claims that the recent warming is all a big [Fake! Fake! Fake! Fake!](http://www.americanthinker.com/2012/01/fake_fake_fake_fake.html)

  99. #99 Fran Barlow
    January 6, 2012

    Thanks Bernard and others for taking the trouble to respond to my question on duck numbers.

  100. #100 Fran Barlow
    January 6, 2012

    In the main, they tend to keep very quiet about it {my emphasis}

    OK GSW, if ‘in the main’ is not the same thing as ‘all of them’ which are the exceptions the ‘real climate scientists’?

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