Piers Corbyn Speaks!

For some reason I've been honoured by a burst of comments from Piers "Solar" Corbyn, a man not ashamed to be associated with TGGWS.

PC defends his predictions of the mighty storm surge (without mentionning whether or not he predicted it would turn out to be dull), provides us with his CV (a priviledge indeed, if you click on "CV" at weatheraction you get "You are not authorized to view this resource"). PC claims some scientific pubs but when I search nothing shows up in ISI. And then one on bets.

Some of the later may be interesting:

2007 UK / England Temperatures will not be highest 'ever' - We will bet anyone £1000 on this. ('ever' = historical records)

2007 World Temperatures will not be the highest 'ever' (contrary to the expectations of some) - We will bet anyone £1000 on this.

Detailed weather forecasting by the SWT is possible 2 years ahead. The SWT holds that all major cyclic /quasi-cyclic events of Earth's weather - such as El Nino and Stratospheric wind switching ('Quasi-Biennial Oscillation') every 28 mths are of solar origin.

New advance: SWT Climate outlook. In the 7yrs up to 2013 World average Temperature in any calendar year will not exceed the 1998 peak levels (95% confidence).

If PC is really offering even odds on the last one, I might take him up. Or is he offering even odds? Presumably if he is really 95% confident, then he ought to offer 20 to 1?

More like this

I bet you he will duck and weave on the detailed terms of that last one, eventually resorting to "not receiving your email".

How about placing a pint on that, to be settled next time we meet?


[Hmmm, I'm prepared to risk a pint, though I'd rather have your end of the bet -W]

So what's wrong with TGGWS? You seem to have abstruse tastes regarding particular preferred flavours of 'septic tripe'. How, exactly is the septic tripe of TGGWS worse than the septic tripe of Al Gore's misadventure? If I promise to denounce TGGWS for factual errors, miss-statements, and misleading information, would you take the same position on the Gore-y movie? Fair and balanced? C'mon, whaddaya say?

By the way, the International Association for the Promotion of Tripe may be offended by all this... very popular in China.

[Lots of things are wrong with TGGWS. Are you really unaware of the problems? AIT didn't fake any graphs, unlike TGGWS. AIT didn't misrepresent any of its participants, unlike TGGWS. But read this if you like -W]

By DemocracyRules (not verified) on 10 Nov 2007 #permalink

AIT didn't fake any graphs,

actually it did


[Thats an interesting point, and one I wasn't aware of. Thanks for pointing it out. I still hold to my point that AIT is considerably more accurate and honest than TGGWS, though -W]

By windansea (not verified) on 11 Nov 2007 #permalink

Mann at RC:

No researchers in this field have ever, to our knowledge, "grafted the thermometer record onto" any reconstruction. It is somewhat disappointing to find this specious claim (which we usually find originating from industry-funded climate disinformation websites) appearing in this forum.

By windansea (not verified) on 11 Nov 2007 #permalink

W: WELL, THAT DEPENDS on what your definition of "is" is...

More precisely, to resolve the TGGWS and AIT comparison we will have to objectively quantify "wronginess". That is, how can one quantify the 'wronginess' differential between TGGWS and AIT? Well, fear not, for it can be done. Furthermore if you do it, you discover some very interesting things about the GW debate.

Let me start with something simple, namely the meaning of truth. We merchants of truth have discovered that the truth is irritatingly layered. It is true that I am sitting here typing on my computer, but is also true that I am avoiding doing the dishes, keeping the dogs company, and digesting my dinner.

The goal of good science is to tell the truth in as many ways as possible. For example, the title of any journal article is short, but its is supposed to be true. The abstract provides more information, but is also true. The article itself is much longer but also true. The references, if studied carefully, will be seen to support the truth of the article. A good scientific article is like good lasagna, no matter how many layers you go through, the substance is essentially the same from top to bottom.

We have all had frustrating experiences finding that the abstract inaccurately summarizes the article, or the discussion does not match the results. The article, and perhaps the research on which it is based, is bad lasagna. One way to measure lasagna quality is to have a qualified scientist read the article and ask them what it means. Present this interpretation to the journal article author(s) and ask them if that accurately represents what they wanted to disseminate to the world.

When science is disseminated to the public, that just counts as another layer of truth. Obviously public messages must be simplified, but the truth must be preserved as well as possible. For example, meteorologists do this when they sift through huge amounts of weather data, examine complex models, meet to discuss their interpretations, and then suddenly announce via the news, "Evacuate Tampa, a Cat 5 hurricane will hit in 6 hours!" That would be good lasagna if all the layers are true, internally consistent, and congruent. Even if the hurricane misses Tampa, the lasagne is still good because the meteorologists can expose their data, their interpretations, and their decision to warn, and justify what they did and why they did it.

We can make the lasagna even better by interviewing the residents of Tampa, to find out what is in their minds regarding the hurricane. How many know, and what do they know? How has the dissemination altered their knowledge, attitudes, and intended behaviours? More precisely, how has it altered their perception of personal susceptibility to harm, the severity of the harm, their belief in their efficacy in avoiding harm, and what influence others have other had on their behaviour? This is called Health Belief Modelling, and a lot is known about it. We call these four variables severity, susceptibility, efficacy, and subjective norms. Multivariate models can reveal how a publicly disseminated message alters specific risk-avoiding behaviours. These multivariate models can also quantify the "wronginess" and "truthiness" in public messages.

Interesting things appear when we apply Health Belief modelling to Global Warming. It is instantly obvious that TGGWS is 'bad lasagna', because the public messages in TGGWS are not consistent with other layers of research findings, and the information stored in the memories of TGGWS viewers is not an accurate picture of the severity, susceptibility, efficacy, and subjective norms regarding GW. Worst of all, the movie does not provide an appropriate framework about how to think about the public risks of Global Warming, or how to understand Global warming research.

AIT is also bad lasagna. Remember, I am not debating here the truth of the science presented in TGGWS or AIT. I am discussing the knowledge, attitudes, and intended behaviours of viewers after they have seen AIT. Are those congruent with the truth? The lay public is prone to incorrectly evaluate Gore's statements that, "If the Greenland ice sheet, or the West Antarctic ice sheet, disintegrates, then we'll have 20 feet of sea level rise.", or "These global-warming skeptics - a group diminishing almost as rapidly as the mountain glaciers...". The lay public lack the cognitive tools that scientists have.

Strikingly, in most GW debates, BOTH SIDES 'work the four'. That is, the variables severity, susceptibility, efficacy and subjective norms are the main focus of debate. For example W's recent posting, '80% by 2050?' is about the efficacy variable. That is, how efficacious can we be in avoiding the consequences of GW?

Look at that, while you folks have been duking it out on these postings, others have been looking at you from above, studying you as through a glass, with methods of which you had no knowledge... he he hee.

By DemocracyRules (not verified) on 11 Nov 2007 #permalink

'The lay public is prone to incorrectly evaluate Gore's statements that, "If the Greenland ice sheet, or the West Antarctic ice sheet, disintegrates, then we'll have 20 feet of sea level rise." ...'

I've yet to meet an adult who did not understand Gore's overall theme, or that section of the film in particular.

The film is not nearly as alarmist as the non-alarmists are screaming that it was.

By JesusChristHimself (not verified) on 11 Nov 2007 #permalink

WELL, THANK YOU FOR reading my post!
To JesusChristHimself: The 20 feet idea is a 'Severity' and 'Susceptibility' argument. It would tend to increase the publics' perception of how severely the planet would be affected. It also relates to Susceptibility, given that most humans live close to the sea.

Your statement that "I've yet to meet an adult who did not understand Gore's overall theme, or that section of the film in particular." Is actually an empirical question. I would certainly not use such a message until I was sure that the phrase "If the Greenland ice sheet, or the West Antarctic ice sheet, disintegrates..." was clearly understood by a representative sample of typical viewers.

In particular, I would focus on the viewers' assessments of the probability of these events occurring, and their temporal proximity. The viewers' assessments should be the same as those of a representative sample of researchers working in the field of sea level research. Prima facia, it looks like bad lasagna to me.

Oh, so many ideas, so little time!

By DemocracyRules (not verified) on 12 Nov 2007 #permalink

I think the operative food word here is bologna.

By JesusChristHimself (not verified) on 12 Nov 2007 #permalink

Some entertaining links and discussion in this thread, including the link in the original post: http://tinyurl.com/yoorrz

Looks like PC messed up the first two storms of the three he predicted (out by days, and geographically, as well as in the description of the effects). Let's see if the third will come in any better, not to mention a chance to count the ones he may miss.

"I think the operative food word here is bologna."

Jesus Christ, JesusChristHimself, take a thinner slice!

There IS a way out of the 'Septic Tripe' trap, but you have to have the stomach for it. Banging out basal banal bologna belittlements begs better banter. Benito?

By DmocracyRules (not verified) on 12 Nov 2007 #permalink

Over at Tamino:s The graph in AIT (book and movie) is the Mann et al Hockey Stick. I thought this was pointed out some time ago, but it is apparently new to the auditors. It was, however, taken from a Thompson paper where it was compared to his ice core data.

Compare figure 7 (c) vs 7 (d):

Either Gore, or whoever was responsible for creating the chart for the book and movie, used figured d instead of c. Anyone who takes half a second to actually look at the source paper, will see that both charts (Thompson vs Hockey Stick) are virtually indistinguishable to a layman, which was probably the reason for the mixup in the first place. Not exactly a "howler."

Regarding the OpenTemp project (which I find extremely interesting), perhaps Tamino could lend his big mathematical brain to help apply the statistics.
from CCE

To democracyrules,

I think you've raised some interesting and good points. I have to agree with you about AIT on the sea level point. The omission of a timescale for the possible 20ft of sea level rise estimate presented by Gore means that this point could be misunderstood by a lay person and they might get a false impression of the true risks faced. As a scientist who should have a better understanding of the timescale (i.e. it will take at least hundreds of years if not thousands) this fault in AIT isn't as bad as the problems in TGGWS. That doesn't change the fact that a lay person watching this could get a false impression. Again, I find myself agreeing with you, the scientific merit of Gore's statements on this point is satisfactory (but would improve with a timescale) but potentially misleading to a member of the public who lacked greater knowledge.

Comparing this to the faults of TGGWS it is clear to see that its errors are both scientifically wrong and misleading to the public.

So, I think from a lay person's take home message point of view they are both bad lasagne, but for different reasons and to different extents.

I've spoken to friends and family about this point in AIT and I've always maintained that this is one the faults, and that sea level rises of 20ft won't happen in our life time or even (possibly) for thousands for years. W has a position on this too, which you may not be aware of:


Thanks for the thoughtful and thought provoking post.

Magnus, thanks for the info, I can see why it's easy to confuse the (c) and (d) graphs. William, can you tell if there is there any important difference between them that affects the movie's message?

I know movies nowadays are mostly digital files -- I keep wondering whether there's an errata/update procedure for AIT.
Should be for sure.

[I agree that c and d are similar. You could show c and use the same voice over. In a sense, its merely an embarassing mistake. However, there are doubts about how good a T proxy the Thompson records are. So I don't think you can show this graph and say: "...and so MBH is correct". If you could, what use would MBH be?

I don't remember this segment of the film. From the discussion, Gore appears to be trying to validate MBH without having to go through any of the technical arguments. I don't see how that can work -W]

By Hank Roberts (not verified) on 13 Nov 2007 #permalink

I think most rational lay people walked out of AIT thinking they did not want to personally contribute, by persisting in easily changed behaviors, to causing up to 20' of sea level rise whether it would be imminent, 100 years, 200 years, 1,000 years, or a few 1,000 years away.

Few people are so stupid as to believe changing light-bulb types is going to prevent imminent SLR. There is nothing in AIT's recommended mitigation that suggests 100 years. A suggestion of beginning to plan to build massive dikes around New York City would be congruent with that time scale. What the recommended mitigation suggests is that large-scale SLR in the future can be avoided. To a lay person like me that suggests a longer time scale than 100 years for 20' of SLR.

So we have this parade of fools saying the IPCC says it's only going to be 1' by 2100, so they scream the non-alarm. What do they mean by their non-alarm? They are screaming that people should persist. That risks not avoiding it. Who is really doing the screaming and the misdirection here?

By JesusChristHimself (not verified) on 13 Nov 2007 #permalink


I think the timescale is an important factor in weighing up the risks faced from SLR. In AIT Gore shows the sea rising in various locations and compares the sea level rise in New York to 9/11. This, to me, implies urgency and imminent danger, yet this could have been avoided with the mention of plausible timescales. This is not to belittle the problem we're facing but to get a more accurate picture of the risks we face which are going to determine, to some extent, what action we take and when we take it.

I agree with Gore's central thesis though, and with your points regarding a small minority who are making this debate awkward. We have the technology to make sizeable reductions to our CO2 emissions, so we should be debating this and finding ways to implement this. It's difficult to tell what is actually being done on this politically from my perspective as I have no background in legislation and no links to anyone who has. I'm interested to see the following questions discussed:

1. Is the government considering some of the options laid out in the Pacala and Socolow paper?

2. Is anyone in government or in policymaking listening to septic tripe anymore? I know the odd one might be in the UK and many moe in the US, but how is this affecting policy implementation?

3. Will public opinion (influenced by naysayers) have any impact on policy implementation?

4. If the answer to 4 is NO, then is there any point to Al Gore's attempts to educate people about climate change?

I have my own opinions on these questions, but I'm interested see what others think. My motivation for asking these questions has stemmed from watching an online video discussion involving Mike Hulme, whose main points were challenging the sort of model laid out by Gore i.e. science + communication = solution.

Does science suggest a time scale with a degree of certainty sufficient to be included by the IPCC? To my lay reading, the time scale you desire is resting on rapidly shifting sands.

I haven't watched the film in a long time, but in my memory he started that segment with a discussion of the polar ice cap melting. Despite its huge size, he stated that it would not materially raise sea levels. He then used examples of land-based ice of a similar size, and correctly explained that should they melt to a sufficient extent 20' feet of sea level would occur. I think he was mostly trying to get people to understand the two types of ice, and the enormity of difference between them with respect to SLR.

It would preposterous to suggest changing light-bulb types as a way to mitigate 20' of SLR by 2100. That would be insane. Society would have no choice other than to begin planning for mass migrations and massive dike projects. He suggest neither.

For you to be correct as to his alleged Machiavellian shrewdness, there has to be some sort of congruency between the imminency of the threat you think he was suggesting and his suggested mitigation. If he was screaming 'fire" in a crowded theater, then he followed it up with "but finish your popcorn and enjoy the 2nd feature (for the youth, movie theaters used to entice customers with 2 back-to-back movies for the price of one). Sorry, the Supreme Court is not going to convict a comedian who qualifies his "FIRE" in a crowded theater with that sort of qualification as it clearly indicates there is no fire.

Sorry, Gore did not scream "floods now" in a crowded city.

By JesusChristHimself (not verified) on 13 Nov 2007 #permalink

Ok, interesting, I've just done a short interview with my parents to see what their impression was on this specific point. Both are educated to university level but have no scientific background. Their impression was that within the next 100 years SLR was going to become a significant issue and that "millions" of people might start to have to evacuate low lying land. They were also given the impression that we could do something to minimise this risk. I know this is anecdotal and that there are far more issues involved (such as, what level of SLR will cause significant problems etc.) but this makes me feel that Gore has left himself open to some legitimate criticism on this point.

I take your point that in the absence of no calls for immediate erection of high coastal defences it should be obvious to a lay person that imminent 20ft of SLR (or even with 100 years) is highly unlikely, and it's good one. However, you've clearly put a lot of thought into this, can you be sure that every lay person watching the movie spent as much time working that out, or are they going to go with their first impression created by what Gore states?

Bottom line for me, SLR is an issue we need to be concerned about, but we should be armed with quantified risks when assessing it. AIT doesn't quantify the risks and could even be accused of creating a misleading impression on this point.

Paul- your parents just said what I think is pretty much correct- within this century, sea level rise will become important enough to cause the evacuation of millions of people and will be a definite problem. How much quantification of risk do you need? That is the problem now, people will spend decades arguing about the risk, without actually accepting any of it.

"How much quantification of risk do you need?"
To Guthrie: Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. The quality and quantity of evidence needed to evacuate very large populated areas will need to be huge. People will have to be convinced to do it voluntarily, and for that you will have to make VERY GOOD LASAGNA.

By DemocracyRules (not verified) on 13 Nov 2007 #permalink

democrule- people usually find that having to wade through water inside their houses is good proof, judging by previous standards of behaviour. However I had hoped that people would be a bit more intelligent and actually heed the forecasts. It is worth noting though that the evacuations don't have to take place until a few years before things become bad, by which point we'll have decades of sea level rise to point to.


Taking the IPCC's estimates for SLR by 2100 as the basis for looking at this issue will millions of people be forced to evacuate? This is a genuine question as I don't know the answer. For instance, will 59 cm of SLR by 2100 cause millions of people to be evacuated, or would building lots of extra coastal defence protect these areas populated by millions of people?

I can certainly envisage that 59 cm could cause such evacuations, but has anyone studied this in depth? Maybe it is mentioned in the working group two report, I hadn't checked until now.

I see your point guthrie, having looked at the IPCC WGII report on low lying areas I can see in box 6.6 on page 346 that 145 million people would be affected by high tides if sea level rose by 1 metre:


But what of my earlier questions of how this might get tackled? i.e. build flood defences or evacuate, either way, it's bad.


If my parent's impression is really the average impression created by this sction of the movie then I can see less of a problem with it. A timescale would still improve this section of the movie though.

Gore appears to be trying to validate MBH without having to go through any of the technical arguments.

To put it more succintly, Gore was trying to validate the hockey stick with the hockey stick, a condition which persists with Mann's disciples.

[You don't help your "side" by being silly. Go look at the paper and compare (c) (which Gore intended to use) with (d) (which is the hockey stick) -W]

By windansea (not verified) on 14 Nov 2007 #permalink

One of the things to bear in mind is that all predictions like this that I have ever seen (eg 50% of the population will be obese by 2020) are made on the basis of trends continuing and no corrective action being taken.

Therefore, yes, millions of people in Bangladesh and other places will be forced to evacuate if no walls are built and the sea level continues to rise. I can't remember where I read about that though, but it was a reasonably reputable source. Remember also that the worst flooding occurs with storms and suchlike, meaning that the sea level rise would ocntribute greatly to flooding.

That is why it is important to start considering these things and carry out the easiest actions such as increased efficiency.

You seem to be taking the Bjorn Lomberg argument, viz., abandon the effort to reverse global warming. Instead, spend effort and resources on ameliorating the consequences of global warming. What say you?

By DemocracyRules (not verified) on 14 Nov 2007 #permalink