Muller is rubbish

But he isn’t a tosser. I’m sure he’ll be glad to know that.

Which Mullah do I mean? I mean Richard Muller (who has one of the worst-looking websites in the known universe, beaten only in my personal experience by TimeCube and (of course) Lubos). Muller is running the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST, geeddit?) project. By now you’ll have guessed I’m a bit cynical about all this, but don’t give up on me yet, I’ll not trouble you with any of the funding stuff, Eli is good for snark and mt has some good stuff too and Tamino pokes gentle fun.

Anyway, the back story (which I can’t be bothered to document) was that Muller, known for his contrarian views on GW {{cn}}, got funding to do a re-analysis of the instrumental temperature record. Everyone who was anyone (scientifically) knew that if he did it honestly he’d get the same answer as HadCRU, GISS, and anyone else who ever did it honestly {{cn}}. But the niggling question was, of course, in that case why bother do it? Apart from the fame and the money, of course. And while he had some good people on his team (Rohde) he also had some wackos (Curry). And the wackos were puffing him up no end.

But the interim result (his congressional testimony) is dull: groundbreaking work along the lines of:

Our results are shown in
the Figure; we see a global warming trend that is very similar to that previously reported
by the other groups. We have also studied station quality. Many US stations have low quality rankings according to a study led by Anthony Watts. However, we find that the warming seen in the “poor” stations is virtually indistinguishable from that seen in the “good” stations.

and consensus-busting assessments along the lines of:

Prior groups at NOAA, NASA, and in the UK (HadCRU) estimate about a 1.2 degree C land temperature rise from the early 1900s to the present. This 1.2 degree rise is what we call global warming. Their work is excellent, and the Berkeley Earth project strives to build on it.

(my bold, put in there because some people missed it).

So, in outline, whenever he has been confronted by real results, Muller has managed to get the right answer, just like everyone else. Well done that man! (though, as WE points out, the 1.2 oC is a bit dodgy.

Why then is he rubbish?

Because he is still basically clueless about climate science. The continuation of his quote just above is:

Human caused global warming is somewhat smaller. According to the most recent IPCC report (2007), the human component became apparent only after 1957, and it amounts to “most” of the 0.7 degree rise since then. Let’s assume the human-caused
warming is 0.6 degrees.

I think he is getting this from the AR4 SPM, which indeed says Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations though I’m not sure where he gets 1957 from. This is infelicitous phrasing from the IPCC, but the real answer is just a few lines lower and is more explicit: It is likely that increases in greenhouse gas concentrations alone would have caused more warming than observed because volcanic and anthropogenic aerosols have offset some warming that would otherwise have taken place. And indeed, you can see that from the figure just below the text that Muller is (presumably) paraphrasing, that natural forcing since 1950 is slightly downward.

So Muller hasn’t bothered to read the IPCC report, or even talk to Rohde, which is a bit more worrying. Presumably due to physics-arrogance (the existence of which I’ve always found bizarre. When I was at university, the mathematicians looked down on the physicists :-). And because of that he goes on to make up his own numbers “Let’s assume the human-caused warming is 0.6 degrees”, which he then goes on to use in order to boost his own funding “The magnitude of this temperature rise is a key scientific and public policy concern. A 0.2 degree uncertainty puts the human component between 0.4 and 0.8 degrees – a factor of two uncertainty. Policy depends on this number. It needs to be improved.”

About the only point of all this would be for the septics and denialists to be finally convinced because “one of their own” has done it. But of course they are just going to disown him instead, so it appears to be a complete waste of time. Perhaps the more rational skeptics-with-a-k might listen, though. Anyone got any evidence that they are?

ps: It is a bit of a shame the Muller is going public with all this before publications or indeed the famed open-source code he intends to produce is actually available. Quite whose fault that is I don’t know. I’m sure Muller will be able to blame the congress-critters if he wants to.

[Update. There is a bit more of Muller showing that he is rubbish in a transcript of a radio interview NPR, April 11, 2011. Lets look at some bits: CONAN: And is it accurate to describe you as a climate change skeptic? Prof. MULLER: I don't think so. I'm just a scientist. People want to pigeonhole everybody in this field just to simplify the argument... (etc)... So, Muller objects to being in the Skeptic camp. Indeed, he objects to the pigeon holing. But only when it is him being pigeon-holed, because we continue with CONAN: ...the suggestion that some of your colleagues, who might be described as warmists, were cherry-picking their data... at which point Muller makes no objection to use of "warmists".

Continuing: CONAN: How much of that is attributable to humans? ... Prof. MULLER: Yes, yes. It's us... Temperature has been rising over the last 100 years. That's pretty clear. How much is due to varying solar activity and how much due to humans is a scientific issue that we're trying to address OK, so Brownie points: T is going up, and "It's us". However how much due to humans is a scientific issue that we're trying to address isn't true - Muller isn't addressing the question of attribution at all. If he thinks he is, he is clueless. And lest you think "we" in this context is scientists in general, he continues I have created a new project here in Berkeley - we call it Berkeley Earth - that is doing a reexamination of the global warming issue. We are addressing all of the issues that have been raised. That is utter bollocks. He is addressing only one, very small issue.

And as for Anthony Watts... I regard him as a hero in this business. - don't make me vomit.]

Refs

* Picture This – Blondie
* Krugman
* mt on Muller’s snake oil
* Tamino
*Muller in SciAm – still rubbish

Comments

  1. #1 pough
    2011/04/05

    Perhaps the more rational skeptics-with-a-k might listen, though. Anyone got any evidence that they are?

    Some of the more rational ones? I’m not sure I know what that means. However, I was willing to brave some ugly websites to discover this:

    http://motls.blogspot.com/2011/04/best-surface-warming-since-1880-seems.html

  2. #2 Ben W
    2011/04/05

    Re: the “dodgy” claim about 1.2 degrees of warming,

    Muller’s claim was that

    prior groups … estimate about a 1.2 degree C land temperature rise from the early 1900s to the present.

    Watts took this as “from the year 1900 to present”:

    Not one of the three datasets shows a temperature rise anywhere near the 1.2°C rise Muller is claiming since 1900. The largest one shows only about 3/4 of his claimed rise.

    ..but the year 1900 was a local max in temperature, while 1905-1913 were about 0.3 degrees cooler. So the 1.2 degrees looks dodgy because Watts picked the year 1900, while Muller said “the early 1900s”.

    Muller continued:

    According to the most recent IPCC report (2007), the human component became apparent only after 1957, and it amounts to “most” of the 0.7 degree rise since then.

    And Watts then points out that this is also wrong: since the year 1957, we’ve had ~0.9 degrees of warming. Again, 1957 was a local minimum, so Watts is technically right. If you’re comparing 5-year averages, Muller would be right.

    Here, just look at the graph of yearly and 5-year average overlaid: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Instrumental_Temperature_Record_(NASA).svg

    Muller was obviously vague, and he should have been clearer in saying that he was looking at the 5-year average (or whatever he got his data from), but the nitpicking by Watts is just ridiculous. Yeah, okay, he didn’t like how Muller used this data, but it’s no reason to call him “a man driven by a very serious agenda”. Pot, meet kettle.

    [Hmm, no, I can't agree here. No matter how you do it, there is no 1.2 oC temperature rise (unless you do something really wacky like pick absolute-min-to-abs-max, but obviously that would be invalid). the more obvious interpretation is that Muller has f*ck*d up, again -W]

  3. #3 Eli Rabett
    2011/04/05

    Eli rather likes Mullah. Well snarked.

  4. #4 carrot eater
    2011/04/05

    Hmm. Mathematicians are more arrogant that physicists? Maybe they are; they’re also so dull that I never stopped to notice.

    [Certainly they are. But they are so quiet and shy no-one ever notices; and as you say, no-one talks to them -W]

  5. #5 carrot eater
    2011/04/05

    Does anybody know who asked him to testify, anyway? A congressional testimony is an odd place to introduce unpublished results.

  6. #6 Hank Roberts
    2011/04/05

    > no 1.2 oC temperature rise

    Ah, but you limit yourself to the squiggly line and error bars.

    Look at the vertical scale instead.

    It goes from -0.6 to +0.6.

    There’s your 1.2, easily derived.

  7. #7 bigcitylib
    2011/04/06

    And everyone laughs at Humanities guys, but I’d wager we get laid more often. In general, of course: not me personally.

  8. #8 Bart Verheggen
    2011/04/06

    It could be coincidence of course, but the 0.6 degrees atrributable to human activities has a precedent by Ramanathan and Feng (2009) (my paraphrasing):

    Global average surface temperatures have increased by about 0.75 degrees Celsius since the beginning of the industrial revolution, of which ~0.6 °C is attributable to human activities. The total radiative forcing by greenhouse gases is around 3 W/m2, with which we have ‘committed’ the planet to warm up by 2.4 °C (1.6-3.6 °C), according to a climate sensitivity of 3 °C (2-4.5 °C) for a doubling of CO2. The observed amount of warming thus far has been less than this, because part of the excess energy is stored in the oceans (amounting to ~0.5 °C), and the remainder (~1.3 °C) has been masked by the cooling effect of anthropogenic aerosols (Ramanathan and Feng, 2009).

  9. #9 S
    2011/04/06

    Thanks for this piece on Muller. I am currently doing a physics overview course to fill in some freshman university credit and it is basically following his textbook, ‘Physics and Technology for Future Presidents’.

    Some of the more bizarre points from his book (and thus the course) are that clouds might mitigate global warming (increased precipitation reflects solar radiation) said in basically the same breath that H20 is acknowledged to be a greenhouse gas. He thinks that Antarctica melting is a contradiction of global warming predictions (citing scientists who apparently predicted that Antarctic ice would grow). If anyone knows if a reputable climate scientist has analysed and responded to his textbook chapter I’d be interested to read it.

    From reading Muller’s work I get the impression that he is a rather eccentric physicist, who tries to follow the numbers where they take him but he just doesn’t see any limit to his understanding or methods.

    [That clouds might mitigate GW is possible; but relying on it is stupid: they might just as easily make it worse. And that is before worrying about what is probably more important, local/regional changes in precipitation/drought/floods.

    The Antarctica stuff really isn't that hard to get right (though it used to be my speciality, so I suppose I would say that). With more warmth there is more moisture so, all else being equal, more snowfall over Antarctica. In the interior, there is no melting, nor any prospect of melting with any plausible temperature change, therefore the ice grows. Around the edge, melting can happen in summer and calving can increase and under-iceshelves can melt, therefore the growth/decay balance can't be done a-priori, you have to work it out -W]

  10. #10 J Bowers
    2011/04/06

    Wm — “Perhaps the more rational skeptics-with-a-k might listen, though. Anyone got any evidence that they are?”

    Nope, but there’s plenty of evidence of the denialists hilariously trying to paint Muller as being a “CAGWer” from the get go, regardless of his 5 minute talk on “Hide the Decline” (FFS). Saw one comment at WTFUWT suggesting that Muller must have deceived the Koch Bros, which, though brief, is in itself a treasure trove of motive to be read from. Oh, he also deceived Congress, apparently. Call the FBI! Where’s Doug Keenan when you need him?!

    Muller can eagerly look forward to the Morano extra special Stephen Schneider experience.

    @ 5:

    Ari’s index of global warming papers will probably be of use, particularly…

    * Global cloud cover trends
    * Cloud feedback observations
    * The iris hypothesis of Lindzen

  11. #11 ChrisC
    2011/04/07

    Why, oh why, do we (and by we, I mean them) keep reinventing the wheel then act all shocked, SHOCKED I say, when the results turn out to be more or less the same?

    The first response to this “James Hansen is cooking the books because some guy on the television says so, so global warming is a massive socialist conspiracy” was John Van Vliet’s openTemp. I seem to remember the usual suspects over at Climate Audit getting all excited before the analysis was completed, then losing interest faster than Greenland is losing mass when the results agreed with GISSTemp.

    Then there was Tamino’s reanalysis of the record taking into account station dropout, a task undertaken purely to appease the unappeasable. Of course, in the fullness of time, Anthony Watt’s rationally accepted Tamino’s analysis over a bunch of stuff someone else made up .

    And then, of course, there’s Clear Climate Code. Open source, freely available, well documented and completely transparent. With GISS’s results being all but replicated in this project, where every methodological step is out there in plain sight, you’d think there would be no need for BEST. You’d think… Well, everyone needs a hobby…

    I would really wish that the denialists would get together and re-implement ModelE (or some other GCM). That would keep them busy for the next, oh… 20 years…

  12. #12 dhogaza
    2011/04/07

    So Muller hasn’t bothered to read the IPCC report, or even talk to Rohde, which is a bit more worrying.

    He doesn’t appear to have read anything by credible scientists, though he was apparently all swept up by Watts telling him about the warming bias in the record (UHI and blah blah blah).

    One reason why Watts is so pissed off is that he visited Muller, and he and others (Mosher, apparently, who may also have visited Muller as Mosher lives in SF, which is very near Berkeley for those of you unfamiliar with the area) were given “sneak peaks” at the work in progress.

    Obviously there’s a sense of real betrayal here.

    In his testimony, he said in essence that apparently identified potential warming biases have little or no effect, which he said he found surprising. No one who’s paid attention would find this surprising, as even some of the more skilled doubters such as several who hang out at Lucia’s (The Blackboard) have put together their own reconstructions using various approaches, and all get virtually the same result.

    So it’s obvious that Muller’s extremely ignorant of any other work that’s been done with the data, while he bit hook, line, and sinker the UHI and other warming bias crap being touted by Watts, his mentor RPSr, and a variety of others.

    It’s almost humorous.

  13. #13 David B. Benson
    2011/04/07

    Physicists use arrogance when they can’t do the maths right. Mathematicians just smile down their noses.

  14. #14 Hank Roberts
    2011/04/07

    Dunno.

    Remember Peter Watts’s observation: “Science is so powerful that it drags us kicking and screaming towards the truth despite our best efforts to avoid it.”

    I think most scientists will acknowledge this happens some of the time — everyone has some blind spot or bias or heartfelt wish. The faith that science does exert such a drag toward honesty is one consolation of being a scientist (or of trying to think like one).

    For those who like that sort of thing, of course.

    I’d guess Muller saw how his numbers are coming out, knew he had a decent sample already, and perhaps decided, given the opportunity of the hearings, to say what he sees are the facts emerging — rather than see his PR-aware friends rush out more bogus claims and have to publicly disavow them.

    This way Muller can ignore Watts and Mosher’s PR, and say, well, we’re following where the data leads, preempting them before they could make claims about his work he’d have to rebut.

    Just guessing.

  15. #15 chek
    2011/04/08

    You could be right Hank, but don’t forget it’s come at the terrible cost of Muller losing all credibility – and probably for all time – with that leading thinker of the age, Willis Eschenback.

    Oh, the shame … Oh, the humanity…

  16. #16 Eli Rabett
    2011/04/08

    Mosher is starting to walk it back at the Curry stand.

    [{{cn}}. We're not all intimate with the Dark Side, you know -W]

  17. #17 Hank Roberts
    2011/04/08

    You’ve still got a ‘cilek’ infestation, there’s a new one: Comment by http://www.orjinalaltincilek.gen.tr above.

    I emailed ScienceBlogs overlords pointing out this system as a whole is a susceptible host to the crap merchant spambot. at scienceblogs alone: cilek 17,400 results; izle 9,490 results

  18. #18 Hank Roberts
    2011/04/08

    http://news.sciencemag.org/scienceinsider/2011/04/qa-with-richard-muller-a-physicist.html
    6 April 2011
    “Muller spoke twice with ScienceInsider after testifying on 31 March before the science committee. Here are excerpts from those conversations.”

  19. #19 pough
    2011/04/09

    Does anyone else find it strange that Willis Eschenbach is saying things like: “the issue is Muller testifying to Congress about his analysis of the confidential data given to him by Anthony Watts”?

    http://judithcurry.com/2011/04/04/reactions-to-mullers-testimony/#comment-59853

    Confidential data? Isn’t confidential data the work of the devil? Why is Anthony Watts holding on to data? Isn’t that right up there with taking sexual advantage of young people and talking in the theatre?

  20. #20 dhogaza
    2011/04/09

    Hank:

    I’d guess Muller saw how his numbers are coming out, knew he had a decent sample already, and perhaps decided, given the opportunity of the hearings, to say what he sees are the facts emerging — rather than see his PR-aware friends rush out more bogus claims and have to publicly disavow them.

    This way Muller can ignore Watts and Mosher’s PR, and say, well, we’re following where the data leads, preempting them before they could make claims about his work he’d have to rebut.

    Just guessing.

    The point isn’t what he said after he actually started paying attention to the data and hired a statistician to grind the numbers (note: our über physicist actually hired a reputable statistician to do the grinding, despite his earlier hand-waving “all the climate science people suck and I’m smarter” crap).

    The point is that he was attacking perfectly competent people who’ve come up with perfectly competent analysis, and when given the chance, said “I’ll put together the BEST team to show once and for all that the Team is incompetent!”.

    Without bothering, in the past, to actually look at what the “Team” (as they say) actually had done, statistically/mathematically/scientifically name your poison.

    While worshiping Watts, RPSr, etc.

    The point of my rant? Hmm, OK, you’re probably right regarding the hearing, but it’s sort of like the “I didn’t *mean* to kill him, and now I’ve found Jesus” defense argument …

    Sorry, too late. Muller cast his ballot earlier, in ignorance, while arguing from his position of authority (“I’m a physicist!”). He’s beyond redemption … except in his field, which is what he teaches and researches in :)

  21. #21 crf
    2011/04/09

    O.T.

    More rubbish collection for you: What are the “twin disasters” which killed scores of people do you think a typical reader might assume the BBC are referring to?
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-13023213

    ***Full Story*** As read on Apr 9 1850 GMT

    Japan: Minister in first tour of stricken nuclear plant

    Japan’s stricken Fukushima plant has had its first visit by a minister since a huge earthquake and tsunami struck on 11 March, causing leaks of radiation.

    Industry Minister Banri Kaieda put on full protective gear for a 45-minute visit during which he thanked workers.

    Workers are engaged in a release of radioactive water into the sea and are pumping nitrogen to prevent explosions.

    A top executive of plant operator Tepco has now publicly apologised for the “worries and troubles” it has caused.

    The twin disasters on 11 March killed more than 12,800 people. Nearly 15,000 are listed as missing. Hundreds of thousands of people have been made homeless and a number of communities in Japan’s north-east have been devastated.

    [Oh dear. Well I think the meaning is fairly plain - there were two disasters, they probably killed about 6.4k each -W]

  22. #22 Hank Roberts
    2011/04/09

    > Sorry, too late.

    I figure the judging gets done by people’s grandchildren (grand-nieces and -nephews in my case), and what counts is the vector sum of all the pushing and pulling and squabbling.

    If Muller’s got a clue, I’m glad. Personally, I can’t judge if it’s late; what counts is who finds some part of the consensus to join. Any part of the consensus helps, maybe.

    And if not, we’ve made our mark anyhow, eh?
    Too late?
    http://rsta.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/369/1938/1036.short?rss=1

  23. #23 John McManus
    2011/04/10

    I seem to recall a post where you said that a ( I forget the exact number) of carefully selected stations would give the same temperature curve as the usual suspects. Nick Stokes shows how 60 stations produce results similer to everyone else. Is Muller saying that a 2% sample will do the same job as all the data you can shake a thermometer at? Ironic concidering the BEST improvement was adding more stations.

    [Adding more stations makes for a good sound. But really for large-scale work you don't need that many, as indeed Muller is belatedly finding out. Of course he could have bothered to read up on this in the first place, but if he'd done that he would have no project -W]

  24. #24 David B. Benson
    2011/04/10

    John McManus — If all that is desired is a precise estimate of the global surface temperature then having a reliable weather station every 1400 km (or so) across the entire globe suffices. More provides redundancy against dropouts.

  25. #25 Chris S.
    2011/04/11

    pough (#17) I noticed the same hypocrisy in this from Watts’ written testimony to congress:

    “There seems a bit of a rush here, as BEST hasn’t completed all of their promised data techniques that would be able to remove the different kinds of data biases we’ve noted. That was the promise, that is why I signed on (to share my data and collaborate with them).”

    It seems that Watts only provided his data on the proviso that BEST promised to use certain data techniques.

  26. #26 afriend
    2011/04/11

    http://i56.tinypic.com/ohshms.gif

    [Jolly good. Did you have a point? -W]

  27. #27 Hank Roberts
    2011/04/11

    “Host Neal Conan talks with Muller about his findings on climate change and the challenges scientists face in balancing politics and emotion with fact.”
    http://www.npr.org/2011/04/11/135320209/climate-change-skeptic-says-warming-is-real

    But to lift your spirits, look just below that item and see
    http://www.npr.org/blogs/krulwich/2011/04/11/135300971/it-flies-davincis-dream-comes-true

  28. #28 Steve Bloom
    2011/04/14

    So the NPR interview doesn’t get Muller promoted to tosser?

    [I admit to being tempted. However I think that Muller is just being nice to Watts, probably out of courtesy (admittedly a rather odd courtesy that he doesn't extend elsewhere, ah well). As the Watties continue to attack him, that will fade. At the moment, Muller is a bit clueless, but is showing himself able to accept the obvious when it is thrust into his face, which distinguishes him from the Tossers -W]

  29. #29 steven mosher
    2011/04/14

    Just to be clear.

    I did visit Muller with Zeke Hausfather. Zeke blogged about our visit. The purpose of my visit was to follow up on some bits I had talked to Muller about; Zeke had also been in contact with Muller so we coordinated our visits. The bits I had talked to Muller about included the Modis 500m urban extent data. Since Ron Broberg had turned me on to redoing metadata using newer sat. imagery I had been working on testing datasets for the R package “raster”. My bug reports are all detailed there if you have any questions. There was a very minor bug inconsequential bug in the Modis dataset that we had found in our testing, so I passed that info on in our meeting. Much the same way I passed info onto GISS about their nightlights dataset ( in that case I asked the NOAA guys to contact GISS). We also discussed the ISA dataset which I had some experience with. I informed Muller that I did not think he would find any microsite bias ( repeating the position I’ve held since working with JohnV in 2007) If there is any UHI to find I suggested it would be small (.1-.15C) Robert Rohde was kind enough to show us a really cool animation. He does excellent work. We looked at a few charts, none of which was surprising since Zeke and I both think the current records are fair enough representations. There was one interesting chart on airports in Japan. My personal interest is in seeing how well the algorithm works and the unique approach taken to “removing adjustments”. I defended Muller’s right to discuss his preliminary findings and took a good amount of grief for that at WUWT.

    Finally, they are using Matlab which pisses me off so I volunteered to rewrite it in R. We will see when they release bits, anyone is welcome to join that effort. I believe the CCC folks have inquired about Python.

    So dehog, prior to my visit I made no secret of the fact I was in contact with them. After my visit Zeke blogged about it. Romm covered it. No news there

  30. #30 J Bowers
    2011/04/14

    Hank Roberts — “Host Neal Conan talks with Muller about his findings on climate change and the challenges scientists face in balancing politics and emotion with fact.”

    Hmmm…

    Prof. MULLER: … People call me a skeptic, because I drew attention to many of the exaggerations that in – is in former Vice President Al Gore’s movie…

    Nope, not in my case. ‘Tis because of this denialist chumming complete bollocks.

  31. #31 Zeke Hausfather
    2011/04/14

    At the end of the day, Muller says some silly things and Rhode does some good work.

  32. #32 steven mosher
    2011/04/14

    Zeke pretty much nails it.

    There are a bunch of misconceptions in the comments here that I won’t take the time to correct. I will end with this.
    In his 2003 paper on UHI Peterson suggested it would be worthwhile and interesting to look at microsite issues on a global scale. Watts thought such an investigation would change the debate. Peterson thought it would be worthwhile and interesting. I agree with Peterson. It will be worthwhile, it will be interesting. it will not and cannot change the basic fact that the world is warming and C02 is the reason. Given that we know these investigations WONT change the basic science, there is nothing to fear. They will be worthwhile and interesting. Not game changing. Lot’s of normal science is interesting without being game changing.

    Chill pills for everyone!

  33. #33 Marco
    2011/04/15

    Steven Mosher, you almost make it sound as if BEST was started to investigate the microsite issues…

  34. #34 Hank Roberts
    2011/04/15

    Mosher makes it sound like has BEST convinced a group of dubious, skeptical, paranoidly suspicious, and/or corporately profitable deniers to contribute their own money to find out there’s no reasonable doubt remaining about climate change.

    Sometimes people are more willing to believe what they’ve paid for out of their own pocket than what the gub’mint tells them.

    Did Watts put any personal funds into BEST?

  35. #35 crf
    2011/04/18

    O.T. again … See my above post

    The BBC corrected the story I wrote about before. But decided to make the same mistake with another story:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-13107846

    So, read at the above link, and ask yourself which disaster is responsible for 28000 casualties: The earthquake and Tsunami, or the nuclear crisis, which is exclusively the subject of this story.

    {excerpt}
    “Japan nuclear crisis ‘over in nine months’

    The operator of Japan’s crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has said it expects to bring the crisis under control by the end of the year.

    Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) aims to reduce radiation leaks in three months and to cool the reactors within nine months.

    The utility said it also plans to cover the reactor building, which was hit by a huge quake and tsunami on 11 March.

    Nearly 14,000 people died and another 14,000 are still unaccounted for.

    Tepco unveiled its roadmap as Hillary Clinton briefly visited Tokyo to pledge America’s “steadfast support” for Japan’s reconstruction.”

  36. #36 Rattus Norvegicus
    2011/04/27

    For a very clear example of how those oh so superior physicists can embarrass themselves when the venture into new fields, see here:

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/04/aaargh_physicists.php

    It really is pretty pathetic.

    [Ah come on, it is funny. I remember all the sci-fi stoires based around recapitulation -W]

  37. #37 Alexander Harvey
    2011/05/07

    Once upon a time brilliant people definitely could publish way outside their field and do good ground work. There was a large imbalance in the development of the disciplines and a overhang of mathematics over physics, then mathematics and physics over chemistry, and that grouping of “difficult” science over “complex” science.

    Turing’s “The Chemical Basis of Morphogenesis” (1952) was remarkable and significant.

    Minkowski’s formulation is how we generally understand Special Relativity.

    Heaviside’s formulation is the basis for understanding, interpreting and utilising Maxwell’s insight into electromagnetism.

    Gauss, Riemann, Lobachevsky, Ricci-Curbastro, etc., had provided the overhanging wealth that underpins General Relativity.

    Quantum Mechanics revolutionised Chemistry: “The Chemical Bond”.

    Sadly those overhangs seem to have been used up or are no longer useful.

    Physicists and Chemists played a significant direct role in Earth Sciences and Global Warming theory. As a generalisation I would say that for those of them that looked at it, right back in the 1950s/60s, it was a “no brainer”.

    They were still playing a significant role in 1980, it was still a no brainer but they disagreed about its significance, contrast say Dyson with Macdonald.

    It is perhaps Muller’s misfortune that he missed that period by a few years, by the time he worked with Macdonald, Climate Science was moving on and was becoming “complex”, it had absorbed a lot of input from “difficult” science, it had absorbed the overhang and was off. Sadly it turned out that it really was awfully complex.

    Muller could do us a service by highlighting the limits of physical intuition, albeit unintentionally. When it comes to communicating the science it was that old simple no brainer perspective that people tried to get across, an appeal to physical intuition of the type very common to those with engineering backgrounds. The subject area was heavily dumbed down.

    I have little problem with the somewhat idiosyncratic way he does stuff, and I find the response he has drawn over getting the minutiae right revealing. People are obsessed with precise dates and tenths of a degree and from watching him on video, that is not his forte. Neither do I think it matters, nor do I think we are that certain about such matters.

    I think that it is significant that he appeals to many people that think that physics is best. What I might call the Feynman grouping. That one persons physical intuition can inform or dispel fifty plus years of diligent work. Those that think that it could all still be a mistake or hoax. I do not think he can feed them as it is still a no brainer, I do not think he has stated otherwise. He adheres to the “difficult” bit; it’s physics, you do stuff and other stuff happens. He appreciates the limited uncertainties and I have not heard him go off on the magical mystery tour visit to the black swan reserve.

    So I can not see him as rubbish, he is what he is and that is a physicist who with and without MacDonald has worked in the paleoclimate field. He has the physical intuition, mathematics, and physics necessary to get us up to roughly where the other physicist did, the no brainer point. He is doing something about the temperature record and that seem to be getting a lot of people rather excited, and I believe so are the MET, in a much lower key manner for they found that UEA had done them no favours. Nothing much will change except perhaps a few error bars.

    [He has the physical intuition, mathematics, and physics necessary to get us up to roughly where the other physicist did, the no brainer point - but this is worthless, because we are already well past that point. He is rubbish (from the climate viewpoint; I do not judge him elsewhere) because he has failed to realise this. He can't be bothered to read the existing literature, and still doesn't realise that he needs to -W]

    I wish there were still untapped riches to come from mathematics and physics, I just don’t think so.

    As to what I think. It is little more than a problem of navigation, and from that perspective we are little better prepared than when Gagarin went up. We can see a little further and a little clearer, but the helm is still lashed.

    Alex

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