Category Archives: Climate (be civil ! )

The short (but useful) life of Gabrielle

In an appalling use of the definition of Tropical Storm we now have Gabrielle. Recall that to be a Tropical Storm winds must exceed 38 mph. Many such storms were predicted, and like a high school wrestler taking diuretics and laxatives to make weight Tropical Storm Gabrielle was born today between 000 and 300 Greenwich Mean time. Winds have been no higher than 40 miles/hour, until its demise today between 1200 – 1500 GMT when its winds sunk to 35 mph and it became a Tropical Depression. It is about to cross over the island of Hispaniola (fortunately not its Haitian western end). It lasted about as long as Tropical Storm #6 Fernand.

At least they are not calling it a Tropical Cyclone, which they did in previous years, linguistically correct but semantically confusing it with the much worse Cyclones in the Pacific (which have a different definition).

It’s one way to make what increasingly appears to be a defective model work. For more details see — https://luysii.wordpress.com/2013/08/25/where-are-the-hurricanes-2013-edition/

Addendum 10 Sep ’13 — Gabrielle has strengthened in the past few hours, and is now a tropical storm again, with winds 2 mph over the minimum. I’m surprised they didn’t rename it so they could count it twice.

Where are the Hurricanes — 2013 Edition

When Sandy hit last year, the air was filled with dire predictions that this was just the start, and that global warming (which seems to have morphed into climate change, since although among the hottest on record, there has been no INcrease in global temperature in the past 16 years) was at it’s root.

So you can have it both ways — it’s hot, but it also isn’t getting warmer. [ Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. vol. 108 pp. 11790 – 11793 ’11 ] “Data for global surface temperature indicate little warming between 1998 and 2008. Furthermore, global surface temperature declined .2 C between 20005 and 2008.”

More to the point an article in Science 2 October ’09 pp. 28 – 29 (sorry I don’t have the volume number — it should be 326 if my calculations are right) noted this. The most interesting part was the response of the climate modelers, who reran their simulations 10 times for a total of 700 years, and found 17 episodes of stagnating temperature lasting a decade or more. The longest period of stagnation was 15 years, and I think we’re now at 16 years. The modelers would have had more credibility if they’d published this when their models first came out.

I’m not sure if they’ve run the models again to find periods of stasis longer than 15 years. They should.

Update 30 Aug ’13 — The hiatus in warming is quite real, and this week Nature published a paper online trying to figure out why this might be so. It has to do with La Nina. All very lovely, but this mechanism wasn’t contained in the model, so why should we trust it. Here’s the link — http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature12534.html The editorial [ Nature vol. 500 p. 501 ’13 ] says “Although a prolonged hiatus in warming does not necessarily contradict prevailing theory, this one came as a surprise” — I’ll say.

Which brings us to the current hurricane season. There haven’t been any, and none are in sight. Historically mid August to mid September is the time of greatest likelihood of hurricanes. The graph of hurricane likelihood peaks sharply here– see this link http://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/tropical-atlantic-hurricanes-gulf/16915197. On 25 August we’re nearly at the top of the curve.

What we’ve had so far are a bunch of very piddling tropical storms. They are defined has having winds of from 39 to 73 miles an hour — more than that is a Hurricane. We’ve had 5 complete tropical storms — here are their durations in days — 2, 1, 3, 3, 2, and their peak winds 55, 40, 55, 50, 35, 40. Less than impressive. Not even close to hurricane force.

Fernand (tropical storm #6 was born today 25 August 5PM), and I doubt it will last long, as it’s about to make landfall in Mexico. (Update 26 August 8:30 AM — Fernand we hardly knew ye. Downgraded to a tropical depression presently — maximum winds 35 mph, barely over 12 hours after being upgraded from same. Just like a teenaged wrestler taking diuretics and dieting to make weight, the people deciding what is and what isn’t a tropical storm, will count Fernand as a tropical storm so their predictions will work out just the way they want.)

So we’ve had predictions of more frequent and more violent hurricanes, and of continued rises in global temperature — neither of which have happened (this year for hurricanes and the past 15 – 16 years for global temperature).

Let’s assume that we have no hurricanes at all this year, and a few more of the piddly tropical storms we’ve seen so far. They fit the definition, but are unimpressive. The average northeaster on the Jersey coast is worse. Also, if anyone knows, how long does the wind have to be above 38 miles an hour for something to be called a tropical storm? I can’t seem to find this anywhere.

A variety of responses are possible. The most scientific would be to re-evaluate the models, or run them for longer periods, to see just how likely such behavior actually is (e.g. could the models even predict it).

The absolute worst would be to explain the absence of the hurricanes by global warming. This would make global warming what Karl Popper called an unfalsifiable theory, something inherently not scientific. A theory that can explain everything, explains nothing. Ditto for a theory that makes an incorrect prediction, doubles back and predicts the opposite.

As Neils Bohr said “Prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future.”

A few more scientific questions for our politicians

For some reason American politicians are being asked to weigh in on matters scientific, notably global warming and evolution.   I’d love to know what Angela Merkel thinks of the models supporting climate change (she has a PhD in physics after all).  Why a governor’s or representative’s opinion on something far beyond their area of expertise should be of interest is beyond me.

To join in the fun, here are a few more questions for politicians, that I doubt you’ll find anyone in the press asking.

#1.  This year a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA (volume 108 pp. 11790 – 117930) contained the following “Data for global surface temperature indicate little warming between 1998 and 2008.  Furthermore, global surface temperature declined .2 degrees Centigrade between 2005 and 2008”.  Data are data, and the paper went on to try and explain why.  Do you find these explanations convincing?

#2.  Do you think race is a scientific concept?  Now that we can sequence the genomes of many people so easily, people are writing papers like the following [ Science vol. 328 p. 1342 ’10 ] showing a common genetic ancestry for Jews.  Another study [ Science vol. 324 p. 575 ’09 ] studied 98 American Blacks, 3194 blacks from 113 African populations and 952 people from all over, showing that only 71% of the American Black genome is from western Africa, and 13% is from Europeans.  It appears to validate the concept of race.  Do you think this sort of research should be stopped?  promoted?  Hitler would have had a field day with it.  If elected would you support or oppose such research?

#3. Do you think intelligence is hereditary? Assuming IQ testing actually measures intelligence, most studies support some degree of heritability.  Do you think group differences in IQ results mean anything?   Should IQ testing be stopped?  Assuming race exists (see #2) how do you explain differences in IQ between races?  What would you do about it if elected?

#4.  We are embarking on a huge social experiment.  Existing children are being adopted by same sex couples, and produced by artificial insemination and surrogate motherhood.  Are you aware of any studies concerning the rate of mental illness, drug use, criminality in such offspring.  Should such a study be done?  Would you fund it if elected?

Don’t hold your breath until such questions are asked of people running for office.

Here are the hurricanes (fudged statistics and all)

Suppose you had performed the following 10 physical  measurements (never mind of what): 15, 16, 13, 16, 15, 28, 1o, 15, 17, 10.  What would you say about them?  Would you throw out the 28?   Would you say the 28 predicted that subsequent measurements would be a lot higher than the 5 before the 28?   Some did.  They were sorely disappointed by the subsequent 4 measurements.  But they still predicted that measurement #11 would be higher.  

Well you can’t throw out the 28 because it is a presumably accurate measurement (see later).   What is being measured?  Try to guess before paging down.

The numbers are the number of tropical storms in the North Atlantic (which includes the Gulf of Mexico) for the years 2000 – 2009.  Where did I get them?  From http://www.wunderground.com/hurricane/hurrarchive.asp   which has all the data going all the way back to ’86 (that’s 1886). They are grouped by year, and each year can be viewed separately and the number of tropical storms turning into hurricanes can be counted (for the definition of tropical storm, hurricane, hurricane season  see the previous post in this series).  It also gives the wind strength of the storm every six hours for as long as it’s around.

Here are 10 more numbers: 7, 9, 4, 7, 9, 15, 5, 7, 5, 3.  You can probably guess what they are — the number of hurricanes for each of the 10 years. Today there is an article in the mainstream press about the current hurricane season and how it is heating up (at last).  Aside from the previous post (and comments on it in this series), do you recall reading any articles anywhere  about just how quiet the current season had been (until the past week). I don’t.

What do we have?  There have been 10 tropical storms, of which 4 have been hurricanes.  The most recent tropical storm (Julia) has the potential of developing into a hurricane.  The rest are over.  

It looks like NOAA’s prediction of an above average hurricane season will be fulfilled.  Above average to them means over 11 topical storms. They expect an ‘active’ to ‘extremely active’ hurricane season (I can’t find their definitions of these terms).  3/10 of the tropical storms have developed in the past 7 days, so they’ve been bailed out.   Before that, things didn’t look so good for them. 

Not so, for the other two predictors mentioned in the previous post (18 – 21 tropical storms or worse, ‘as many as’ 18).

Take a look at the actual data for each of the 10 tropical storms/hurricanes for 2010.   Some of them barely made it, and (to me) it looked like some serious fudging of the numbers was going on.  

Consider the first hurricane (Alex) — it lasted all of 36 hours at most.  Hardly a major event.

Consider Bonnie — a tropical storm — recall that a storm fits into this category if the winds are 40 miles an hour or more.  Bonnie just fit (top winds 40 mph).  How long was Bonnie at this level?  UNDER A DAY.

Consider Gaston — a tropical storm — just like Bonnie, top winds of 40 mph, and that for under a day.

Tropical Storm Hermine also lasted under two days, but counts as real as it dumped 10 inches of rain in a day near Austin Texas. 

It’s too early to tell about Julia — she just made into the category today, and the top winds are only 40 at present.

So of the 10 tropical storms, I’d throw out 2 (Bonnie, Gaston), and of the 4 hurricanes, I’d throw out Alex.  

My count of the season thus far:   8 tropical storms of which 3 have been hurricanes.

I think the statistics as presented to the public thus far are intellectually sleazy if not downright dishonest.  Stay tuned.

Have a good week

Off to band camp for adults. I’ll be back 23 Aug.  I’ve got 2 reading assignments thanks to Yggdrasil and Wavefunction, and also a book reference from Wavefunction from years ago, which I’m going to try to get through “Molecular Driving Forces” as I lay out on the dock and listen to the afternoon string master classes.  It’s a tough life but someone has to do it.

The Hurricane season remains incredibly quiet with 3 named storms, only one of which was a hurricane, and one of which barely made it into the tropical storm category with top winds of 40 mph, and all of this for less than 24 hours.  Also looking at accuweather as of 12;20 PM EST, nothing in the North Atlantic is even being investigated as possibly having the potential of turning into a tropical depression.

He who lives by the hurricane, dies by the hurricane, or so I thought. Not so.  This AM the NYTimes has a front page article (complete with scary pictures) about the unusual weather in Chicago, Russia and Pakistan as signs of global warming.  I couldn’t bring myself to read the article to see if (as predicted earlier) the ABSENCE of hurricanes would be blamed on global warming.

Derek says next week’s In the Pipeline won’t be as depressing (how could it be?).  Have a good week.

Where are the Hurricanes?

 

 

The chemical blogosphere is pretty quiet.  Even Derek Lowe isn’t posting, so it’s time to talk about something NOT making the news — e.g. hurricanes.   All sorts of hellfire and damnation has been predicted for the current hurricane season.  But it is now 20 July and there has been just one hurricane (the only named storm so far), which hit Mexico 110 miles south of Brownsville, Texas.  By definition, the hurricane season stretches from 1 June to 30 November.  But most occur in July, August and September.  I grew up 1000 feet from the Atlantic ocean and can’t recall any in November (Nor’easters yes, hurricanes no). 
 

Here are a few of the dire predictions so far 

NOAA issued its 2010 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook on May 27, 2010. According to the forecast, there is an 85% change of an above-average hurricane season in 2010. We can expect an “active to extremely active” season

On June 21, Joe Bastardi, Chief Hurricane Meteorologist for AccuWeather.com, revised his earlier forecast to predict that 18 to 21 named storms will occur in the 2010 hurricane season, four of which are expected to occur during July. The revised forecast expects five or six of the named storms to be hurricanes.  My brother says that if you listened to AccuWeather, you’d never go outdoors. 

Dr. William Gray and Dr. Phillip Klotzbach of Colorado State University‘s Tropical Meteorology Projecthave published their scheduled June 2 update to their 2010 hurricane season forecast.The famed forecasting team now predicts as many as 18 named storms, an increase of two since the original forecast on Dec. 9. According to the updated forecast, we can expect 10 hurricanes to form in the Atlantic basin, up from 8 in the original forecast. As in the initial forecast, five hurricanes are expected to become major hurricanes (Category 3, 4, or 5 on the Saffir/Simpson scale). The revised numbers were based on the above-average warm waters in the Atlantic and the likelihood that a weak La Nina will form in the Pacific Ocean. Gray and Klotzbach will issue their final forecast for the 2010 season on August 4

Amusing no?  A final forecast for a season effectively ending less than 3 months later, issued two months after the season has begun.  Time for a quote from Neils Bohr (which is as close to chemistry as this post will get) “Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future.”

Maybe we’ll have a slambang finish, but this is yet another reason why I don’t trust models in general, climate models in particular.  For details see https://luysii.wordpress.com/2010/03/12/i-dont-trust-models-in-general-climate-models-in-particular/

A final semantic point.  After the really bad year with Katrina, etc. etc.  similar apocalyptic predictions were made, but nothing much happened.  The powers that be then took to calling weather disturbances  tropical cyclones.  Now cyclones in the Bay of Bengal can be  terrible things, and Nargis, killed over 100,000 people over there  in 2008.  But a cyclone over there has to have winds greater than 74 mph (making it a hurricane by our Atlantic standards), while over here anything with a vortex pattern of winds and some rain comes under the rubric of tropical cyclone.  This includes the nonentity known as the tropical depression (winds under 39 mph), and the more severe (but still nothing much) tropical storm — winds between 40 and 73 miles an hour.  

This is all fairly harmless once you know how the terms are defined, but there are a lot of players out there with a good deal of political investment in making things seem dire and terrible.  

Presently (10 PM EDT 20 July) this is all we have on the horizon.  “A tropical wave (Invest 97L) between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic has continued to become more organized today, and is a threat to develop into a tropical depression as early as Wednesday morning.”  Pretty small beer.  

 

 

 

I don’t trust models in general, climate models in particular

Mostly because I’ve been around long enough to see a variety of models (and authoritative statements) crash and burn. Here are a bunch of examples (the aspects of the climate model which make me nervous follow the asterisks).

To begin with, I’ve been reading Nature since  in 1972.  You’ll have to look up “The Club of Rome which made a big stir that year with its report “The Limits to Growth”.  None of their dire predictions came to pass.  As I recall, Nature swallowed this stuff, Hook, Line and Sinker.  Also look up Paul Ehrlich and his Population Bomb which predicted that we’d all be starving in the dark in 2000.  In addition, note that in 1975 some people were seriously worried about global cooling.

Now for a few authoritative statements.  Based on the similarity of our proteins, it was held that if we looked at man and chimp the way we look at other organisms, we’d be the same species.  Ditto for Junk DNA, the 98% of our DNA which doesn’t code for protein, and which presumably wasn’t doing anything. Now of course we know about microRNAs (over 300 and counting) in our genome, which help control protein expression, and lately chromatin structure as well.  We now know also that most, if not all, of our genome is actually transcribed into RNA.  What all this RNA does, isn’t known at this time.  One explanation is that it is basically chaff, like the turnings of a lathe.  Since transcription is so energetically expensive, don’t you think natural selection would have found a way to get rid of it by this time? Consider how intracellular parasites (Leprosy) have jettisoned large parts of the genome compared to their extracellular cousins (Tuberculosis).  The champ is Mycoplasma. 

Closer to the present, consider the inadequacy of various financial models and the havoc they caused when followed mindlessly (Liquid Capital Management, Drysdale Securities, and the securitization of subprime mortgages come to mind). 

Then there is the model of obesity and increased mortality, except that it isn’t happening.  For details see
https://luysii.wordpress.com/2009/08/20/something-is-wrong-with-the-model/.

****

This brings us to climate models predicting that anthropogenic CO2 is the cause of (putative) global warming.  Thanks to the hacked EMails of the East Anglia Climate Research unit, some of the gory details behind the some of the computer code (and the data) are being made public.  It all should be.  

What is really disturbing (to me) is the apparent fact [ Science vol. 326 pp. 28 – 29 ’09 (2 Oct ’09 ) ] that there has been NO change whatsoever in global temperatures for the past decade.  There’s been a lot of contention about the earlier measurements of global temperature, but I think everyone will agree that the closer you get to the present, the more accurate the data. 

Because of this (inconvenient fact?) the  modelers reran their simulations 10 times for a total of 700 years and found 17 episodes of stagnating temperatures lasting 10 or more years.  The LONGEST period found by the simulations was 15 years.   The modelers would have more credibility if they had published this sort of thing 10 years earlier before the data became available (if they did, someone let me know).  

The following is from http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8511670.stim — AKA a 13 February ’10 BBC interview with Professor Phil Jones (former head of the East Anglia Climate Research Unit).

B – Do you agree that from 1995 to the present there has been no statistically significant global warming ?

 Yes, but only just.  I also calculated the trend for the period 1995 to 2009.  The trend (.12 Centigrade per decade) is positive, but not positive at the 95% significance level. (Translation — not statistically significant). 

So there you have it, 700 years of simulations using the model found only one episode of stagnating temperatures of 15 years.  The best data we have shows global temperature has stagnated for the past 15 years.  How good do you think this model is?  Will it be junked if global temperatures stagnate another year? another 5 years?  Stay tuned.

The empire strikes back — Nature on Climategate

Beaches have been emptied of silicon to make the memories and CPUs to store all that has been written on the Climategate (which is now less than 1 month old). The mails around here being truly abysmal, the 3 December Nature arrived today (the 10 December Nature arrived earlier this week). On p. 545 is an editorial which quickly lets you know where Nature stands (just by the adjectives ‘paranoid’ interpretation, ‘laugable’, ‘obstructionist’ politicians). Hey, they published the infamous Hockey Stick years ago.

The editorial notes various evidences of global warming (glaciers retreating, sea ice melting, sea levels rising, earlier plant blooming dates etc. etc.) but doesn’t mention the relative stasis of global temperature over the last 10 years, nor the fact that the modelers had to go back and show that, yes, their models actually predicted periods stasis lasting up to 15 years [ Science vol. 326 pp. 28 – 29 ’09 ]. In the post of 16 Nov (just before Climategate broke) I asked if the decade of temperature stasis meant that we have to now cool the planet down in some way to restore things. No takers back then. What do you think?

As to the ‘trick’ and whether Nature will review the paper referred to as using it in the EMails, they say “It is Nature’s policy to investigate such matters if there are substantive reasons for concern but nothing we have seen so far in the EMails qualifies.” I respectfully beg to differ, and below you’ll find some reasons why.

Far be it from me to rehash the whole thing, but if you’ve been living in a closet for the past month (or just reading only the main stream media), here are some sites I’ve found informative and which will bring you up to speed.

#1 Derek Lowe’s post of 1 Dec “In The PipeLine” called “Climategate and Scientific Conduct” along with the (as of this writing) 164 attached comments, which span the range of opinion on the subject. Most comments were written by people with a technical background and hence carry more weight (with me) than hordes of incredibly sincere activists.

#2 The following site http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/12/08/the-smoking-gun-at-darwin-zero/, which is an analysis of some of the raw temperature data (from Australia) and what corrections were applied to it. It’s pretty detailed, but if you look at nothing else, look at figure 7. It’s chilling (no pun intended).

#3 Derek Lowe’s post on “In The PipeLine” of 15 December “Manfred Christl rides again . . . ” for an (unintended) example of the scientific method in action, and for the reason the raw climate data should be released and not hidden.

To expand on #3 a bit from a nonchemical (but still an NMR) perspective. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (the term was cooked up so the populace would not hear the word nuclear and refuse to get into the scanner — I’m not kidding) has been extensively used to study brain function. This is a completely different use of NMR from chemistry, where water must be excluded, so its protons don’t swamp what you are trying to measure, and where the position of the peaks are crucial. MRI as used by docs gives incredible views of human anatomy and the diseases it’s subject to — particularly the brain (which like all living things is mostly water). The students in the QM class and the instructor were suitably impressed when I showed a medical MRI to them.

It turns out that when a part of the brain is metabolically active (and presumably doing something) the amount of hemoglobin carrying oxygen INCREASES. This is paradoxic, as one would expect that an active part of the brain would use up all the oxygen available, but nonetheless that’s the way the brain works, increasing blood flow to active areas (so they get more than they can actually use). One can measure this with an MRI machine because hemoglobin without oxygen is diamagnetic. As NMR chemists know, diamagnetic means that electrons around nuclei exposed to an external magnetic field ‘move’ in such a way to create an opposing magnetic field (e.g. shielding). Hemoglobin carrying oxygen is paramagnetic — the unpaired electrons align with the magnetic field making the field field ‘experienced’ at the nucleus even stronger (e.g. deshielding). So there are ways to measure both types of hemoglobin at nearly the same time.

Some sort of task or sensory stimulus is given and the parts of the brain showing increased hemoglobin + oxygen are mapped out. As a neurologist, I was naturally interested in this work. Very quickly, I smelled a rat. The authors of all the papers always seemed to confirm their initial hunch about which areas of the brain were involved in whatever they were studying. Science just isn’t like that. Look at any issue of Nature or Science and see how many results were unexpected. Results were largely unreproducible. It got so bad that an article in Science 2 August ’02 p. 749 stated that neuroimaging (e.g. functional MRI) has a reputation for producing “pretty pictures” but not replicable data. It has been characterized as pseudocolor phrenology (or words to that effect).

What was going on? The data was never actually shown, just the authors’ manipulation of it. Acquiring the data is quite tricky — the slightest head movement alters the MRI pattern. Also the difference in NMR signal between hemoglobin without oxygen and hemoglobin with oxygen is small (only 1 – 2%). Since the technique involves subtracting two data sets for the same brain region, this doubles the error.

So the raw data on global temperature should be out there for all to play with. Saying they shouldn’t be released because skeptics would try to pick them apart is disingenuous at best, and shows a serious misunderstanding of the way science is supposed to work (see #3 above).

From looking (briefly) at the 100,000 word HARRY_READ_ME.txt in the leaked EMails written by the programmer who was trying to organize the raw data, it’s clear that the raw data was not in the greatest of shape. The comments of the professional programmers who looked at some of the available code and data are scathing (sorry, I’ve lost these links).

Lastly, I’ve been reading Nature since starting private practice in 1972. You’ll have to look up “The Club of Rome” which made a big stir that year with its report “The Limits to Growth”. None of their dire predictions came to pass. As I recall, Nature swallowed this stuff, Hook, Line and Sinker. Also look up “Paul Ehrlich” and his Population Bomb which predicted that we’d all be starving in the dark 10 years ago. In addition, note that in 1975 some people were seriously worried about global cooling.

So I don’t trust models very much. In particular, the assumptions and the actual code of the models which predict anthropogenic CO2 as the cause of putative global warming should be made public and dissected. Serious remedies are being proposed for what may or may not exist (global warming) based on a mechanism (anthropogenic CO2 emissions) which may not be correct. It deserves a serious look. Since global temperature has been stable for the past decade (see above), there is time to do so.

3 Questions for the Cognoscenti

In my last few years of practice, I did a fair amount of expert witness work. One thing you learn very quickly, is that attorneys at trial never ask a question they don’t already know the answer to. The following questions don’t fall into that category.

Question #1: We’ve been doing perturbation theory for the past week or so in the QM course. The underlying assumption is that a small change in the Hamiltonian (usually in the potential) produces a small effect in the set of wavefunctions and their eigenvalues. This was certainly the state of affairs when I first took QM in the spring of ’61. Since then we know this isn’t always (or even usually) so for many differential equations. What about chaos? How do we know the perturbation didn’t put us into the chaotic regime? Is it the fact that the derivatives in the Schrodinger equation are to the first power hence linear? I got the following from the QM professor — “Perturbation theory is always approximate and will usually work but sometimes not. If chaos raises its beautiful head, we just have to deal with it.” I asked another computational chemist — the response was “Interesting question”. Any thoughts?

Question #2: Presently we must use perturbation theory and variational principles to do QM on systems too complicated to solve in closed form. Will this always be the case? Could advances in mathematics increase the number of solvable Schrodinger equations? John Gribbin in one of his excellent writings (I don’t recall the actual source) said “It’s important to appreciate, though, that the lack of solutions to the three-body problem is not caused by our human deficiencies as mathematicians; it is built into the laws of mathematics.” Is this correct? If so it’s sort of a Godel’s theorem on equations (and any chemistry more complicated than the hydrogen atom). Is Gribbin correct? Any thoughts?

Question #3: I shudder at bringing this one up. See The Curious Wavefunction’s post of 4 November “A wrong kind of religion, Freeman Dyson, Superfreakonomics, and Global Warming” for just why. Nonetheless, in the 2 October ’09 Science on pp. 28 – 29 the data that there has been no change whatsoever in global temperatures for the past decade is presented, along with a reply of the climate modelers.

Modelers reran their simulations 10 times for a total of 700 years and found 17 episodes of stagnating temperatures lasting a decade or more. The longest period was 15 years, so we’ll have an idea of how good the present models are in another 5 years. The modelers would have more credibility if they had published this sort of thing 10 years earlier before the data became available (did they publish this sort of thing when the models first saw the light of day? — they would have more credibility if they did).

The press is full of stories about retreating glaciers, diminishing artic sea ice, the march of temperate species northward, endangered polar bears etc. etc. An ice cube will melt given enough time if you set it outside the fridge. Is this what is causing the above — is global temperature already too high and causing these changes? Or are they in fact due to something else? If so what? No polemics please.