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August 30th 2015 print

Michael Kile

The Adventure of the Antarctic Anomaly

Unlike the dog that didn't bite, the mystery facing Baker Street's most irregular detective concerned those yelping warmists who howl doom at the slightest provocation, even the contradictory variety. More ice around an allegedly melting ice cap? Clearly, Watson, they are a rum lot

holmes profileIt all began on an unusually cold and windy July day on my return from a summer holiday in Lapland. “Welcome home, Watson. How good to see you again,” Holme-Truth said, on opening the door to our rooms. After the reindeers and rigours of travel, it was a relief to be reacquainted with 221B Baker Street. For the truth is I had grown fond of Sherlock’s scientific charts, the acid-charred bench of chemicals, the violin-case in the corner, the coal scuttle full of old pipes and other narcotic paraphernalia.

We sat down to lunch in front of the fire. Holme-Truth suddenly asked me about the steps leading up from the hall.

“Watson, you have frequently seen them, have you not?”

“Frequently.”

“How often?”

“Well, hundreds of times.”

“How many are there?”

“How many? I don’t know.”

“You have not observed. And yet you have seen. That is just my point. Now, I know that there are seventeen steps, because I have both seen and observed.”

“And yet I believe my eyes are as good as yours.”

“Quite so,” he answered, lighting a pipe and throwing himself into an armchair. “It is not enough just to see, Watson, one must observe!”

“I did observe something – something different – when I came in today.”

“Really? Do go on.”

“The frogs, Holme-Truth, the frogs on your bench. An entrée of cuisses de grenouille?”

“No, no, Watson. You know my method: analysis before appetite.

Professor Stuffemall’s experiment is now the talk of the town. It is on the front-page of every newspaper. The outlook for the human race is grim, scream the editorials.”

“The usual suspects have been frightening the horses too. Dr Ricardo Dilettante has said: ‘NO to all anthropogenic emissions: nocturnal or otherwise’. Sir Markus Bluster made a ‘very solemn commitment to future generations’.”

The Black Kettle Society has joined the alarmist chorus too. The ‘very survival of whole populations’ is, apparently, at risk – allegedly from future climate change. So many assertions, so few facts, real facts.”

“With all their tiresome fear-mongering, it would not be surprising if it is having- as Black Kettle claims – ‘very real and adverse impacts on psychological health and well-being’, especially among its membership.”

“Yet many are specialists in their fields, Holme-Truth.”

“True, but are they specialists in omniscience? Intelligence is no defence against the pseudo-prophetic impulse.”

“Has that villain Moriarty put something in the water?”

“Perhaps. But certainly something in the cesspool of opinion on matters meteorological. Precisely what that it is, Watson, I hope we will discover in due course.”

Let’s begin by asking – in the manner of Lucius Cassius Longinus Ravilla – ‘cui bono’? Who benefits from frightening the horses?”

Science, alas, is not what it used to be. Remember The Case of the Midwife Toad? Now we have The Affair of the Hiatus. Yet model outputs cannot trump actual data.

“And as I keep saying, it is a capital mistake to theorise before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist the facts to suit theories – and to just make stuff up  – instead of theories to suit facts.”

“Professor Stuffemall claims that if a frog is placed in boiling water, it will jump out. But if placed in cold water and slowly heated, it will not sense the danger and be cooked to death.”

He is now on the talk-show circuit claiming the human race is as intellectually challenged as our amphibian friends,” continued Holme-Truth. “Unless we take the threat of climate change more seriously, we will suffer a similar fate. The press love it.”

“Another argument by false analogy?”

“Indeed, Watson. Yet used by luminaries from Al Gore and Paul Krugman to Genghis Khan.

“The reality is quite different. I did the experiment myself this morning. A frog submerged in cold water actually jumps out with gradual heating.”

“Only if the poor creature’s brain is removed will it remain in the pot, at least according to Friedrich Goltz.  I spent yesterday at the Natural History Museum reading his paper: Beiträge zur Lehre von den Funktionen des Nervensystems des Frosches (1869).

“You are in good company, Holme-Truth. Professor Douglas Melton at Harvard agrees with you.”

“Really?”

“His conclusion: ‘If you put a frog in boiling water, it won’t jump out. It will die. If you put it in cold water, it will jump before it gets hot—they don’t sit still for you.’”

“And Dr George Zug, curator of reptiles and amphibians at the National Museum of Natural History: ‘If a frog had a means of getting out, it certainly would get out’.”

“And Dr Victor Hutchison, Professor Emeritus of Zoology at the University of Oklahoma: ‘The legend is entirely incorrect!’”

“The critical thermal maximum, Watson, is heating the water at about 2 °F, or 1.1 °C, per minute. The frog becomes increasingly active as it tries to escape, and eventually jumps out – if the container allows it.

“But there will be no peace on the boiling frog front as long as Stuffemall’s claims are entrenched in the public discourse. One has a duty to expose it.”

“You are rugged up, Watson. Was it also colder than usual over there?”

“Hardly the perfect holiday. Coldest June night in half a century. Snow in mid-summer.  Temperature ten degrees below average.  Fell to zero as far south as Virrat. Saanatunturi had a minus 6.2. Almost beat Laanila’s record of minus seven. Coldest July anyone could remember too.”

“Interesting. It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important. Remember the curious incident of the dog in the night-time? Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?”

“There was another ‘little thing’, Holme-Truth. A mountain birch phenologist, Antero Jarvinen, has recorded leafing dates – when the birch tree ‘mouse-ears’ open – at 69 North-latitude for the past 43 years.

“And the later the start of summer, the colder the summer.”

“Indeed. The birch trees began blooming this year on 22 June. No trend suggesting an earlier start to summer.”

“Weather is not climate, of course, but here is another curious incident. Canadian Ice Service data show sea-ice coverage in Hudson Bay for the week of 30 July was the highest for over two decades.

“It also has been colder than usual at the other end of the world, unhappily for warmist-worriers.

Another cold front crossed Tasmania this week. Coming straight from Antarctica, bringing  snow below 100 metres again. The succession of intense lows is unusual.

There has been a cold snap in Canberra too. Coldest August day since 2005. Adelaide recorded its coldest July in 20 years. Temperatures in Victoria consistently 1C below normal average maximum.”

“But the big news, Watson, is missing from our papers – expanding sea-ice in Antarctica. Is this why southern Australia has had its chilliest July in almost two decades – and first snow in Hobart since 1986?”

The June 2015 Southern Hemisphere sea ice extent was 14.93 million square km (5.76 million square miles), 1.00 million square km (380,000 square miles), or 7.18 percent, above the 1981-2010 average. This was the third largest Antarctic sea ice extent on record, only smaller than the June sea ice extents of 2010 and 2014. There was slightly above-average sea ice in every region of the Antarctic, with much-above average ice in the eastern Waddell and Ross Seas. June 2015 is the fourth consecutive June with above-average sea ice extent in the Southern Hemisphere.

“Yet the experts claim all this is ‘consistent with’ global warming. For ‘even in a warming world’ temperatures in some regions apparently can be colder than average.

For them, the prolonged and undeniable Antarctic sea-ice growth is actually a symptom of global warming: “The increase in Antarctic sea ice extent might seem paradoxical given changes in the global climate, but it’s not when we consider some of the other factors at play.”

Even when the Antarctic expansion is buried in a global figure, sea ice extent during June has been above average for the past three years.

“Other factors at play, Holme-Truth?”

“What we have here, Watson, is an unfalsifiable hypothesis. Whether Antarctic sea-ice extent decreases or increases, both outcomes are being interpreted as evidence of warming. Is this science — or just an ad hoc tactic to protect the orthodoxy at all costs?”

“When a bogus ‘fact’ appears opposed to a long train of deductions, the matter invariably proves to be capable of bearing some other interpretation, as in this case. We must question the assumptions behind every snow job in the public domain.”

“When I hear your reasons, it always appears so ridiculously simple.”

“It’s an ugly business, a very ugly business. The more I see of it, the less I like it.”

“Sauteed or grilled?” he asked, looking at the bench.

“Food for thought, Watson. Folly always gives one food for thought.”

Disclaimer: The characters, entities and incidents in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons or institutions – living, dead or dormant – is entirely coincidental.

Michael Kile — August, 2015

Comments [4]

  1. Jack Richards says:

    Global warming is a fact. I know it’s true because Professor Flannery says so and he’s been right about everything so far. What little rain we’ve had hasn’t soaked in and the dams are near empty while the ocean levels continue to rise and are now swamping low-lying cities around the world. There are only 7 polar bears left and we only know that because they were spotted by the Murmansk Surf Club live-savers while they were practicing rescues in the White Sea.

    Forty years ago when I was an athletic young man and my testosterone was still fizzing I was a University student studying Science to be come an industrial chemist. During that glorious year of 1975 I attended a seminar on “climate change” presented by a number of experts in the field. They had over-head projections and slides, graphs and tables, statistics and trend lines (all computer generated – and who could argue with that?) and I was convinced that they were right: we were definitely heading into a new Ice Age. The proof was there for all to see in the climate data. Brrrr when I left the seminar that night I noticed how cold it was but warmed myself over a hand-rolled joint.

    I’d recently read Paul Erhlick’s “The Population Bomb” and “ZPG” was being advocated by anyone with a brain. The world could not feed 5 billion people. By 1995 we’d all be fighting each other over the last onion and famine would be ravaging the earth.

    We’d just been through the “oil shock” and everyone with a brain knew that “peak oil” would occur in the early 1980s and by 2000 there wouldn’t be a drop left. It was time to invest in Zeppelins and sailing ships as they’d be the only means of international travel once the price of a gallon of petrol passed the US$1,000 mark. I was convinced and terrified and decided to invest in the heavy transport method of the future: Clydesdale Draught Horses.

    In the late 90s I was convinced that the Y2K bug would destroy the world as we knew it. I stocked up on canned food, bottled water, batteries and a small wind-generator so that I could survive the collapse of the entire economic and social structure. Thankfully, I could store all that survivalist stuff in the fall-out shelter my father had had the foresight to build when a world-destroying nuclear war was a certainty. As it turned out, that didn’t happen but by the time the danger had passed it was clear from the number of sightings and abductions, and Eric Von Daniken’s thoroughly researched books, that we were on the cusp of another invasion by inter-galactic aliens.

    I was also a great fan of “The Twilight Zone” and “The Outer limits”. It’s all very well to scorn the established Science but there’s no doubt in my mind that “The End is Nigh”!

  2. en passant says:

    Michael,
    You are not conning me into losing another $10 bet. In July I bet a cynical friend of mine that there was no way the BoMcon job I fund could possibly say July was even average warm. I lost as they breathlessly exhaled that “Warmest July Evaaaa!” Clearly my frost bitten toes, worn out doona and my gas bill were not scientific evidence enough to convince them. Neither was the plain, raw readings of those pesky, lying, constantly inaccurate, badly recorded thermometers spread around the tarmac and urban heat-producing sites of Oz. They needed to be adjusted to produce the right answer even if it was wrong and false.
    So, I now know how to win at this casino: I declare that August was the hottest month ever in Oz, hotter than Eucla in January 1896 and most certainly hotter than Marble Bar in Summer.
    The fact is, I have inside information as an acquaintance of mine at Division B of the Bureau recorded the following short conversation on her mobile (accidentally, of course:
    BoMB Staff Member: “Boss, what are we going to do? Every hour of every day of July was below average cold, yet we have to prove the temperature is endlessly going onward and upward”
    BoMB Manager (laughing): “It’s not a problem. But what do you suggest?”
    BSM: “We turn the graph upside down?”
    BoMB Mgr: “Good try! Unfortunately, that has been done already and it worked, but a couple of years later some sceptical fool found it. As too much time had passed it did no harm, but we cannot use it again. Anything else?”
    BSM: “We burn the building down or pretend our computers were destroyed by a hacker?”
    BoMB Mgr: “Bad idea as clearing out all our personal stuff the day before would be a giveaway. Hackers and the public know we have enough trouble just adding up daily figures in Excel and dividing by 31 so nobody would believe we lost the data. No, we have to use standard advanced modelling extrapolation statistical techniques. I have a Paper being published on it next month in our prestigious House Journal”
    BSM: “What’s SAMEST?”
    BoMB Mgr: We faithfully record the temperatures of one randomly selected weather station and process the records through a complex Al Gore-ithm that has buried within it a hidden code that adds about a 1% increase to the temperature. The beauty is that this increase continues for every other mythical station we then process. The result is that we add up all the ever increasing temperatures and then divide by the number of stations created, so we end up with the Warmist (sic) July Evaaaa.
    BSM: “Won’t people like Ross McKittrick notice?”
    BoMB Mgr: Wash your mouth out! No, because we can claim we are using proprietary data and cannot release it to the public – and certainly not to anyone who knows more about Excel than we do – which is just about everybody.”
    BSM: “Sheer genius boss. The only thing that could go wrong is if your office was bugged and this conversation had been recorded”
    The last thing on the phone was the sound of their laughter before the batteries went flat …

  3. en passant says:

    As reported on Andrew Bolt’s blog our totally irrelevant BoM-con did squeeze out some reality, but take heart, they have not yet homogenised the numbers. Give them time and a few $M and the facts will fit the political agenda.
    As Andrew reported truthfully from Obama’s pet poodle Department of Truth, NOAA, there is something very odd about the NOAA claim of a very hot July, thanks to global warming:

    July was the hottest month on Earth since records began…

    “HOW DOES THE COLDEST MONTH IN 20 YEARS BECOME THE HOTTEST MONTH “EVER’’? (In Global Scam parlance that should be spelled ‘Evaaaa!’)
    July in Melbourne was widely reported as the ”Coldest July in 20 years” (that is, before homogenisation with records from Marble Bar 6,000km away)
    It was also reported at the start of August that Sydney had just “notched its longest cold spell in 26 years” and it was also “the coolest July for the city since 2002”

    On the NOAA map Australia is said to have had average or above-average temperatures over much of the continent, apart from the much-warmer-than-average bits around Sydney and parts of Western Australia.
    Liberal MP Craig Kelly is curious:
    July was the ‘Hottest Month Evaaaaa!’ and August will be even Hottaaa!

    This will not have any effect on the political agenda of the climate deceivers and their useful idiot true believers now that we are well and truly into the Dark Age of post-modern belief scientific cultism.