CSIRO Affair?

Terry McCran’s accusation that CSRIO ‘breached trust’ in The Australian this weekend sounds like an overly possessive lover saying he will never trust them again:

… our two pre-eminent centres of knowledge and public policy analysis across the social and hard sciences spectrum are now literally unbelievable.

In case you hadn’t heard, this is about the unseemly Treasury/Mining Co. cat fight over the RSPT, and Tom Quirk’s fracas with Paul Fraser, the Chief Research Scientist at CSIRO at Quadrant over his article CSIRO Abandons Science identifying a convenient omission in their State of the Climate position statement.

But the State of the Climate report has a number of very odd and questionable statements other than the one Tom wrote about. I will go through them in order:

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Celestial Origins of Climate Oscillations

Now reading…

Empirical evidence for a celestial origin of the climate oscillations and its implications by Nicola Scafetta

Abstract: We investigate whether or not the decadal and multi-decadal climate oscillations have an astronomical origin. Several global surface temperature records since 1850 and records deduced from the orbits of the planets present very similar power spectra. Eleven frequencies with period between 5 and 100 years closely correspond in the two records. Among them, large climate oscillations with peak-to-trough amplitude of about 0.1 $^oC$ and 0.25 $^oC$, and periods of about 20 and 60 years, respectively, are synchronized to the orbital periods of Jupiter and Saturn. Schwabe and Hale solar cycles are also visible in the temperature records. A 9.1-year cycle is synchronized to the Moon’s orbital cycles. A phenomenological model based on these astronomical cycles can be used to well reconstruct the temperature oscillations since 1850 and to make partial forecasts for the 21$^{st}$ century. It is found that at least 60\% of the global warming observed since 1970 has been induced by the combined effect of the above natural climate oscillations. The partial forecast indicates that climate may stabilize or cool until 2030-2040. Possible physical mechanisms are qualitatively discussed with an emphasis on the phenomenon of collective synchronization of coupled oscillators.

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Blood in the Water

Even the Age is circling the wounded beast. Time to go to ER.

PORTLAND hospital was rushed into signing a $4.9 million funding agreement for its new GP super clinic so the Rudd government could avoid political embarrassment, a leaked email has revealed.

Hospital management was told to sign the agreement by noon on Wednesday – just moments before shadow treasurer Joe Hockey delivered his post-budget reply to the National Press Club.

Portland District Health chief executive John O’Neill warned his board members of the urgency of the government’s request in an email that morning: “I have been asked to sign this agreement before 12 noon today – that is, before Joe Hockey makes his budget reply … If not signed, funding will be withdrawn.”

A representative Catallaxy comment by JC:

It’s not funny anymore. These people are liars and will stop at nothing to impose a dishonest policy based on a dishonest set of assumptions.

They have to go.

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Numeracy Rules the RSPT!

Cheering developments today show the force of numbers in the debate over the Resource Super Profits Mining Tax:

As the Treasurer implored the mining industry to drop its “rhetoric and threats” and negotiate with the government, his weekend claim that miners pay effective tax rates of between 13 and 17 per cent was torpedoed by tax office figures produced by the opposition.

The ATO data said miners paid an effective rate of 27.8 per cent, which rose to 41.3 per cent with the inclusion of state royalties.

The opposition also sought to undermine the source of Mr Swan’s claims – a paper from the US National Bureau of Economic Research written partly by a graduate student at the North Carolina University whose international comparison lumped Australia and New Zealand together.

The Coalition attacked the research, by PhD student Kevin Markle and professor Douglas Shackelford, as “the shonkiest piece of work”.

Professor Shackelford said:

“[T]he paper is a draft form and likely will undergo additional revision before publication in a peer-reviewed journal. Moreover, the paper’s usefulness in formulating policy for one sector in one country should not be overstated.

In the updated version of the paper, the researchers removed references to mining companies paying an effective tax rate of just 13 to 17 per cent.

Continue reading Numeracy Rules the RSPT!

No Clue on Global Warming and El Nino

Almost a mea culpa in today’s publication of The impact of global warming on the tropical Pacific Ocean and El Niño (CSIRO and PDF) by a who’s who of atmospheric circulation research including Vecchi, and CSIRO/BoM researchers Cai and Power.

Therefore, despite considerable progress in our understanding of the impact of climate change on many of the processes that contribute to El Niño variability, it is not yet possible to say whether ENSO activity will be enhanced or damped, or if the frequency of events will change.

This is illustrated by figure 3, where some CGCMs show an increase in the amplitude of ENSO variability in the future, some show a decrease, some show no statistically significant changes.

enso models

Their paper flatly contradicts Power and Smith [2007] that increased El Ninos are caused by weakening of the pressure differential, indicated by the SOI:

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What is Scepticism?

Sceptic – from the Greek skeptikos one who reflects upon, from skeptesthai to consider.

Scepticism is variously described as a doubting or questioning attitude, a person who uses their mind creatively, or even someone who demands physical evidence in order to be convinced (especially when this demand is out of place).

To consider carefully with regard to evidence is the professional way to approach public affairs, or matters of considerable importance — the opposite of sloppy, credulous, reckless or even foolhardy behavior.

A sceptic is painfully aware that the casual believer is punished when reality is understated and underestimated.

-oil spill greater than first estimated
-Euro zone bailout underestimated
-USD rise underestimated
-oil’s fall underestimated
-tarp underestimated
-unemployment understated
-recession length underestimated
-volcano impact underestimated
-gold’s persistence understated
-housing slump underestimated

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Lessons from La-La Land

Is the anthropogenic climate change controversy just an episode in an ongoing drama, and if so what is the main theme?

The Catallaxyfiles in RSPT in la la land review a number of biting newspaper editorials on the Resource Super Profits Tax (RSPT), providing a possible answer by replacing a few words.

Funny thing is, Garimpeiro does not think the government and its Treasury [IPCC] advisers actually know that they have been practising deceptions. It’s more a case of them not having an even basic understanding of the industry [climate system] they are tinkering with in a big way.

Which is scarier? They do know what they are doing but are being misleading and deceptive to achieve a given goal. Let’s call that the Nobel Lie Hypothesis. They don’t know what they are doing and are making it up as they go; the Incompetence Hypothesis.

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Hauser's Law in Application

Hauser’s Law states that tax revenues remain at about 19.5% of GDP. When higher taxes reap more revenue, GDP contracts due to the flight of capital investment to bring the yield back to ~20%. Today I looked at the application of this principle (not really a law) to tax revenues in the State of Queensland (where I live). Eg:

Total GSR – Government sector revenue (2008-9): $37bn
Total GSP – Gross State Product (2008-9): $224bn

Which is 17% and fairly close to the Hauser Law value, and so gives little support for changing the tax rate. Though we would all like to pay less tax, and the Henry tax review lists those inefficient State taxes.

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Watt's Tour and the Day of the Week Effect

Watts’ Tour of Australia is to be announced shortly. He will be visiting a number of major and many minor regional centres, accompanied by David Archibald. I will be speaking at Newcastle, Noosa and Emerald (Q).

I have decided to present as much local context as much as possible, structured around a review of the CSIRO State of the Climate Report. This report implies that climate changes in Australia are a result of human emissions of greenhouse gases. I think I will critique this with reviews from over the years, including the abysmal performance of climate models in the Drought Exceptional Circumstance Report (DECR), due to be published in E&E in July.

In the process of preparing my talk, I am running across many interesting studies on the causes of regional climate changes. One is the ‘day of the week effect’, also mentioned in the AR4 chapter 3.2.2.2 Urban Heat Islands and Land Use Effects. This is the chapter that contains one of the most egregious of IPCC errors, the fabrication of a rebuttal to Ross McKitrick.

Hence, the correlation of warming with industrial and socio-economic development ceases to be statistically significant. [No reference supplied]

Forster and Solomon (2003) found a distinctive ‘weekend effect’ at stations examined in the USA, Japan, Mexico and China in temperature, precipitation and sunlight hours, and strongly suggest an anthropogenic effect on climate, likely through changes in pollution and aerosols.

In general, precipitation increases on the weekends, and temperature and sunlight hours decrease. I thought it was my imagination when I lived in Canberra, Australia, and it always seemed to rain on the weekends. Canberra has a fairly constant rainfall year-round, dominated by frontal systems, and they seemed to me to be synchronised with the weekends.

Climate changes over the last 50 years could well be due to effects other than human emissions of greenhouse gasses, and so give no clue to the future trajectory of climate. The State of the Climate report is not peer-reviewed literature, so I hope to do a service by showing that attribution of regional climate effects to human emissions are based more in politics than science.

Continue reading Watt's Tour and the Day of the Week Effect