Spot the Error #3

Another easy one, via the anti-Gore site Planet Gore. There are several very debatable points in this brief article, but there’s a standout mistake. Can you spot it?

What Would an Economy Run by ‘Climate Scientists’ Look Like? [Daniel Foster]

“For an industry that lost $9.4bn last year and was forecast to lose a further $2.8bn in 2010, this crisis is devastating,” said Giovanni Bisignani, chief executive of the International Air Transport Association.

Bisignani also blamed the governments for overhaste in closing airspace, and costing the airline industry over $100 million a day, as a result of climate change models that proved to be flawed.

Addendum: Shall I continue this series? Should it go by its original name “Spot the Denialist Bug”?


  1. If D. Foster really thinks that the number "$1.7 billion" credible as the impact to the airline industry in 6 days, "over $100 million per day" is an understatement. It should more appropriately be expressed as "over $200 million" or "nearly $300 million". His text effectively says that the quantity he describes as $1.7 billion may as well be $0.6 billion.A possible consitstent interpretation of what D. Foster meant is that the incident caused loss of $1.7 billion to the industry, and that the loss would be $0.6 billion less than that if the industry ignored forecasts by atmospheric models. But I think that the text is cryptic if the author meant this.

  2. I thought that this was a much bigger error:"So atmospheric models have in a crucial instance failed to make accurate short-term predictions in a way that cost the world economy $1.7 billion. How many hundreds of billions — or trillions — are we to spend based on atmospheric modeling that reaches out centuries into the future?"Since the zero-tolerance standard was a result of a few harrowing experiences with airliners flying though an ash cloud and have complete engine flameouts, what is known to rational people as empirical evidence, I don't know where the theoretical part comes in. The models (ECMWF in this case, which is a pretty good weather model) just predicted the weather and helped to project where the ash cloud was going to go.But hey, this is what is happening because of the anti-science campaign which has been going on for years.BTW, NPR had a decent report on this on Morning Edition today. They pointed out that one of the main reasons for the problem was the congested airspace over Europe which limits the possibilities for rerouting around problems such as an ash cloud.

  3. A deeper 'error', in my opinion, might be how the article talks about "the airline industry" like it's all-important.The airspace closure cost "the airline industry over $100 million a day". So? What does that even mean to the average guy? There's no sense of how exactly this cost relates to changes in the salaries of the pilots, the stewardesses, the air marshals, etc. Would life have been that much better for this hard-working people had the airspace not been closed?And what about the plane passengers? How does the loss experienced by "the airplane industry" translate to losses for passengers? Well, maybe Daniel Foster thinks that the safety of passengers should be bought and sold for a price?– bi

  4. I think this is great. I could see the series being a useful resource for lots of kinds of people – for weathermen and journalists to calibrate their skills&knowledge (i.e. to aid the ones that don't know they don't know, to recognize it), for teachers to assign to their students for critical thinking, …And puzzles are inherently more interesting than getting lectured at.Carry on.(Not all the time though; interspersed with your other posts.

  5. Jeff Masters has a good post on the model used for prediction of the ash cloud. sure doesn't look like a climate model to me. It also looks like it did a pretty good job of predicting the cloud. Wasn't it the airline industry that insisted on a zero tolerance for ash standard? How much research have they done on the actual hazard presented by ash. What have they done to improve engine design to resist damage from ash inhalation?As to continuing this series–I'm all for it. Your opening salvo inadvertently outing a Peilke blog was delicious. I don't suppose we can count on something like that every week.Paul Middents

  6. Thanks, Moe, but it won't work. For one thing, I already give away who the loonie is.For another thing, for some reason (that I wish I understood better) global change topics attract Canadians like barbecue and Shiner Bock attract Texans. To a Canadian, a loonie is a dollar.

  7. Not really the change in focus, but possibly a part of it. It has a couple of nice features: first it's easy for me, basically shooting fish in a barrel; and second it gets people thinking both about how to challenge the nonsense and about matters of real scientific substance.

  8. jg, I haven't checked but I suspect the model used to try to predict ash behavior isn't even a weather model, although it must use input from one. Of course your basic point is correct.This is fun so far, Michael, so by all means keep it up. Is this what you meant when you mentioned a change in focus?

  9. Is the answer the confusion between a short term weather model of the atmosphere and the long term general circulation model (or whatever is the currnt term)? I like this series. It's important to keep this fun. I don't care what you call it.thanks,jg

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Spot the Error #2

This one’s really easy. The article consists of only one claim which is wrong.

Update: Nevertheless this is the lead story on Morano’s site. The author, by virtue of having been a volunteer reviewer of IPCC drafts, is referred to as an “IPCC Scientist”.

Morano must be running out of ammo. This is really reaching.


  1. Scruffy Dan – yet more evidence the denialists are stuck in the 19the century – Darwinism died something like 80 years ago, and the field has undergone at least 2 major reorganisations since him. Sure, Darwin would get the hang of it quickly enough, but anyone using Darwinism to try and beat someone up is completely clueless.

  2. Well this comes from a man who think people like me (and MT) are really just tying to disprove evolution."Environmentalism is just the latest attempt to find a substitute for the theory of evolution and it is paradoxical that itcan be so widespread when next year (2009) is the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin and the 150th anniversary ofthe publication of his major work “The Origin of Species as the Result of Natural Selection”.All of the basic beliefs of Environmentalism are in direct conflict with contemporary understanding of the principlesof Darwinism. Despite this fact, many scientists are supporters of Environmentalist dogmas and some are preparedto claim that they are compatible with Darwinism."

  3. Oale, I think you miss the point.These are not intended as complete models of the climate system. They are "budget diagrams". Any time you have a conserved quantity, you can define reservoirs such that the rate of flow into and out of each reservoir always balance to zero. It's an extremely useful and general practice in science and engineering. It's related in concept to standard double entry accounting, too.In this case, the conserved quantity is energy, and the numbers refer to average flow rates.

  4. LOL. I once started to plan a wall poster that would have included all elements I know effect a local climate, around the world. I admit it is pretty hard to do on a sheet under 80cm*120cm, and has to be drawn on a quite peculiar scale (in fact, at least four different scales if one wants to include the sun's arched surface).

  5. first hit estimates 0.06 percent of solar energy used by primary production (photosynthesis)If you use Scholar you get more uncertainty and fewer flat statements giving a specific number, e.g. the effort to find ways to use 'greenness' from satellite imagery of the Amazon; this isn't simple stuff)

  6. Came to this via Stout. Have to say I'm floored… sometimes the incredible – dare I say it – stupidity of some of the deniers leaves be gasping. Still, I love the comments by the denial chorus:"Models like these show how weak our knowledge is – the hubris involved is STAGGERING, thinking we can predict the end results of changes in inputs and outputs based on such a primitive understanding of insanely complex and inter-related systems that act and re-act in such a myriad of UNKNOWN ways… When the unknowns outweigh the knowns, it's important to admit it. Admit the weakness of your guess. Admit that any policy changes based on your guess are an extremely bad bet. The truth can set us free but arrogance chains us to mistakes…"So wonderfully free of irony and self awareness.

  7. "In Trenberth's graph is "0.9% net absorbed" the absorbed energy driving an imbalance or is it absorbed by plants and converted to chemical energy?"All we know (relatively) for sure is that it isn't escaping. Most likely it is warming the ocean. Some of it could indeed be converted into chemical energy by biotic processes in the net, or warming and/or melting ice, or warming rocks, but probably most of it is warming the ocean.In a steady-state world the balance would be zero. Since it isn't, we are banking that energy somewhere. Trenberth's "travesty" is that we aren't sure exactly where. Manuel, actually the picture painted by those images is very fundamental, though it sounds funny the way you put it. If one were teaching beginning climate science, it would be very reasonable to start exactly there.

  8. I've read a lot of silly stuff … but that was truly amazing. I would thank you for it, but for the fit of laughing which set off the cough I've been fighting.Are we sure ClimateRealists isn't a DenialDepot sockwebsite?

  9. I know I'm pretty thick these days, but I can't quite work out what the claim is. Is it that the Trenberth et al paper assumes a flat earth? I don't think it does, and no evidence is produced to back up such a claim. Secondly, there is the usual misdireaction by claiming it cooled from 2000 to 2004. So what, that is weather. Thirdly, I see no relevance in claiming that everywhere on earth has a different energy input from output, and acting as if this is such an amazing discovery.Their correct mathematical treatment for proving global warming would appear to involve computer modelling earily similar to that which has been carried out for decades in GCM's…

  10. Wow. I thought this was parady until I read further and heard the funny music. Next time I use artistic license in an illustration I'll remember to clearly label it and state that I can't be liable for the reader's imagination.I do have one lingering question. In Trenberth's graph is "0.9% net absorbed" the absorbed energy driving an imbalance or is it aborbed by plants and converted to chemical energy?thanksjg

  11. > The attached graph is in all of the Reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change, and it is fundamental to all their activities.ALL HAIL THE FLAT GRAPH! ALL HAIL IT AS FUNDAMENTAL TO ALL ACTIVITIES!

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