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Personal tales: a climate-changer?

Richard Black | 00:01 UK time, Sunday, 1 May 2011

Even before the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) made its much-discussed error in glacier melting dates, the question of how climate change impacts were being felt across the Himalayas was something of a hot topic.

Adi tribesman in the Himalayas

 

One of the problems back then, which remains a problem now, is simply lack of data.

Getting into some of the regions is time-consuming and arduous. Satellites give an incomplete picture - and only since the early 1980s, at that.

Nevertheless, it's a hugely important issue given the vast number of people who depend on Himalayan glaciers to store their drinking water and release it in a steady, controlled fashion during the year.

The journal Biology Letters this week reports a novel yet kind of obvious way to tackle the data dearth; simply asking Himalayan villagers about their experiences.

To be fair, the phrase "simply asking" does the researchers a disservice, because what they emphasise throughout their paper is the need to gather local knowledge "rapidly and efficiently... using systematic tools".

It has to be structured, internally consistent and rigorous; that's the message.

This particular project involved villages in the Darjeeling Hills in the north-east of India and in Ilam District just across the border in Nepal.

Researchers went to 28 villages in total, and did 250 face-to-face interviews as well as a number of focus group exercises.

Their top line conclusions are that villagers are noticing signals suggestive of climate change.

Warmer weather, drying water sources, the advance of summer and the monsoon, new insect pests, earlier flowering of plants... all consistent with the basic idea of a warming world.

The sample size was big enough that researchers - Pashupati Chaudhary and Kamal Bawa from the University of Massachusetts in Boston, US - could note different perceptions at different altitudes.

Dr Bawa is also president of the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment, based in Bangalore, India - and the trust is keen to see more of this type of research.

Satellite image of the Himalayas

Glaciers play a key role in regulating water supply in the Himalayas and for people outside the immediate region

The conclusions themselves are less intriguing, I think, than the idea that this kind of research could play a much larger role than it has done up to now in building a picture of how climate is changing - and not just in the Himalayas.

Report after report bemoans the lack of instrumental data across Africa - but more than any other continent, African lives are lived close to the land, which is exactly the situation in which you'd expect people to build up the most detailed and accurate internal pictures.

I had a quick chat with Martin Parry, who co-chaired the working group on climate impacts, adaptation and vulnerability for the 2007 IPCC assessment.

Now a visiting professor at the Grantham Institute for Climate Change Research in London, he told me there definitely is a role for evidence gathered through word-of-mouth.

"We need to expand the information we can collect on the evidence of climate change occurring now, which the last IPCC report kicked off and the next one is no doubt going to grow greatly - because it's ground-truthing, it's not model-based future stuff.

"But also the gaps in the knowledge are so big, and filling them in by going out and asking people is going to be increasingly the way to go.

"It's about less formal ways of collecting data. It takes time to set up monitoring stations and get 10 years of data, but if we can get into peoples' memories... I guess the one concern is the drift that occurs in peoples' memories, and how do you account for that?"

This is indeed going to be an issue - you can almost hear the objection forming in the minds of researchers around the world who are more used to dealing with the hard numbers churned out by thermometers, mass spectrometers and satellite-based radar.

How can you trust people's recollections?

And even if it gives you some qualitative indication of how things are changing, can this kind of research ever be quantitative, as instruments are?

Woman with cow outside Djenne mosque, Mali

This could be a good way of gathering data in Africa too

The Himalayan work threw up questions as well as answers.

For example, in some villages about half of the people questioned reported that summer was now starting earlier than 10 years ago; which raises the question of why the other half did not.

In villages where life is based almost totally on farming, you might expect a more consistent view.

In one sense, that is like putting two thermometers in the same place and finding that one registered a temperature rise while the other did not.

If that happened in practice, you would need to have experts in thermometers on hand to interpret the divergent readings - and perhaps there's a parallel need for expertise in interpreting the apparently conflicting recollections of different villagers.

As Professor Parry pointed out, help may come from other disciplines. Social anthropologists (and indeed other social scientists) depend on people data for much of their work, and may already have protocols that can be adapted for climate-based questionnaires.

Medicine, too, has its share of structured questionnaires. For example, heart failure can be assessed through people's evaluation of their own symptoms - to what degree are they out of breath when climbing stairs, for example - and there are myriad indices for pain and quality of life.

One of the recommendations coming out of recent inquiries into climate science (as pertaining to the IPCC and the University of East Anglia) is that researchers could and should make more use of specialist statisticians.

And perhaps the increasing use of orally-gathered evidence will require the systematic and rigorous involvement of social scientists in order to ensure best practice is followed.

But there surely is going to be more data of this kind used in climate circles in future.

It's cheap, is available in many regions with poor instrumental coverage, it can span large timeframes, and data can be gathered simultaneously on what communities are experiencing and how they're coping.

What's not to like, provided the cautions are heeded?

Comments

Page 1 of 2

  • Comment number 1.

    Good try Richard. Let's replace with faux 'science' with polls. You folks are getting desperate.

  • Comment number 2.

    Previous Blog,

    50. At 02:48am 28th Apr 2011, CanadianRockies wrote:

    "Walleye - Take a look at the link posted in my #45. You support that kind of thing?"

    Have you done any fact checking on this blog you've linked to? I understand why you would accept it as true given your biases. Are you asserting that you've linked to a piece of straight up journalism; that the blogger has "no axe to grind"; that the facts are as represented and that facts/information that might counter the blogger's message have not been left out?

    At least the scientists you so revile get their papers reviewed and edited before they are published. Can't really say the same about your blogger.

    I also noticed you filed a FOI against East Anglia. I have to say if I was being deluged by harassing FOIs from people who had no intention of doing anything other than wasting my time, I wouldn't have responded either. Didn't one of your heroes suggest FOIs as a way to harass the climate scientists. It is difficult enough to find the time to respond to honest requests for information.

  • Comment number 3.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 4.

    143. At 21:58pm 29th Apr 2011, scs:

    I suggest you check out the following web page if you really want to understand how CO2, H2O and other gases act as "green house" gasses.

    http://eesc.columbia.edu/courses/ees/climate/lectures/radiation/index.html

    In the middle of the following page is a graph of the "atmospheric windows" that allow satellites to observe radiation reflected and/or emitted from the earth's surface.

    http://rst.gsfc.nasa.gov/Sect9/Sect9_1.html

    What this basically means is that most of the sun's energy reaches the surface of the earth at the speed of light; however, energy absorbed on the surface and re-radiated from the earth's surface is of longer wavelengths and therefore has a much slower rate of reaching the top of the atmosphere as it is absorbed and re-radiated many times by "green house" gases before it can reach the top. The photon can even be re-radiated back toward the surface of the earth where it can be reabsorbed and therefore increase the temperature.

    If you are familiar with electronics think of discharging two identical batteries each through a different resister -- the circuit with greater resistance will take longer to discharge the battery. An atmosphere with more CO2 provides more "resistance" to the flow of energy to the top of the atmosphere. Atmospheric convection is another method to move heat energy to the top of the atmosphere, but that is even slower than radiative transfer.

    Also, warmer air holds more moisture, and H2O as the illustration on


    http://rst.gsfc.nasa.gov/Sect9/Sect9_1.html

    shows is a major "green house" gas.

  • Comment number 5.

    HungeryWalleye:

    PLEASE let’s stop using the phrase" GREEN HOUSE". There is ABSOLUTLY NO comparison between the age old green house (a controlled system) and the earths atmosphere (a totally chaotic system). We will just end up with silly arguments trying to justify one or the other.

    Thank you........

    BTW Richard: I see that recommendations for "making more use of specialist statisticians". Are you saying that this is not the case in such a hugely data analysis discipline like climate science? I'M GOB SMACKED..........

  • Comment number 6.

    I started reading this post and was amazed by the quality of the writing compared to the usual anonymous BBC news posts with scientific and statistical mistakes about which it is impossible to get corrections or improvements.

    Survey data is a great way to gather data, in my experience, provided that the questions are vetted by independents (including sceptics in this case) to avoid sub-conscious bias in the formulation of the questions.

    This is effectively the approach taken with the English spring and people advise when this or that sign was spotted over years.

    This will always be a challenge in places where there is natural variability from year to year. It mean that either the exercise is repeated every year or the participants must be able to remember with some accuracy to many years before to get round the natural variational.

    I don't envy the researchers.Their's is a difficult job when any global warming can increase or decrease precipitation and cloud cover and hence isolation and insulation whilst it is pushing up temperatures on average .

    The skeptics are stuck in such big ruts that there must be a point where it is not worth bothering. The Fox News channel anchor O'Reilly a couple of night ago had a specific item with a clip from NBC when their anchor asked their weatherman in so many words : 'surely the second worst tornado toll in history is evidence of what we are doing the planet and global warming' . O'Reilly castigated him for asking the question of a weatherman. " No one even know why tornadoes form".

    With that kind of propaganda going on all the time, there is a limit to what research results can do.

    In my view the main focus should be on how to combat global warming and save money at the same time ( money can persuade skeptics to act) .


  • Comment number 7.

    G Cox @#6:

    First we need to understand who is "stuck in a rut". Those that see a chaotic, not at all understood system or those that assign CO2 to every change basing claims on mostly proxy data, unproven computer models and as Richard mentions in his article; the realization that statisticians are needed to sort it all out!!!!

    Add to that all the shenanigans and quite naturally you get a mess.

    Think about it.........

  • Comment number 8.

    Even if there were shedloads of accurate data for the Himalayas it would have been obfuscated by the various warmist organisations to suit their increasingly wild predictions. Richard Black and the BBC are warmists and utterly blinkered in their view of what is actually natural chaos and has been for billions of years.
    Human views of weather cannot be relied upon. In the late 40's nearly every UK housewife Knew that any weather other than gentle warm breezes was directly a result of the dreaded "Atom".

  • Comment number 9.

    @Richadr Black

    Africa (not sure about the quality of the poll by Gallup though):

    "In Sub-Saharan Africa, where 54% are not aware that their climate is alleged to be warming, a mere 22% have heard of the global warming issue and predominantly blame humans for the warming. In undeveloped Asia, 48% are unaware that the climate is warming and 27% predominantly blame humans."

    http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2011/04/26/lawrence-solomon-global-warming-what-global-warming/

    /Mango

    I don't deny climate change, I know climate changes

  • Comment number 10.

    I think all data is useful, and that includes survey data of opinions. within this will be some gold nuggets. I don't doubt that they will report some climate change over their recalled lives. But, the real question will still be unanswered - man made?
    I am of the view that the Earth is warming - my historic memory of cold winters is good enought for me - but - is it temporary and is it normal? Don't know. Just keep collecting data, and, as scientists do, form views, but dont go firm - yet.

    And whatever we do. don't declare that we will keep global warming below some fixed temperature. How do we really do this "Canutish" thing?

    We need to recognise the evolutionary option of adaption to the world we live in. We have done it so far. But, "green" taxing us is not evolution or help - it's a line of false hope, deceit and theft!

  • Comment number 11.

    As a social scientist I'm surprised it took half the article to refer to this side of science - of course sociologists (the main social scientists who would do the sort of large scale surveying referred to) have techniques to minimise bias and maximise response validity.

    Good to see Martin Parry revealing inner prejudice against social science by referring to "less formal" methods of data collection. Surveys and interviews are - or at least can be- just as formal a method for data collection as setting up thermometers etc. Both can be done informally or badly. Don't reserve 'informal' for social science - that just reveals your prejudice.

  • Comment number 12.

    @ gvs your scepticism is healthy but you forget there are ways of determing whether the effects are man made or not, such as modelling effects using long term data, and having theories about what might happen if too much CO2 is pumped into the atmosphere, andthenlook at the sources of CO2 etc and then you see that the main source of additional CO2 in the atmosphere is from human-related activity. There is not much need to hold back from concluding that the effect is heavily related/caused by human activity.

  • Comment number 13.

    @ mango
    The key issue with the human report for such things as climate change is that the changes are small and variable and take place over a long time. This makes it difficult for humans to detect these kind of changes (which is why we need climate science - otherwise we'd really just notice it and do something about it, like an oncoming bus about to know us down).

    This of course raises questions about whether social science data could be useful for this kind of application. However, that is probably an empirical question. My view would be the you need to ask questions which are more about seasonal behaviours

  • Comment number 14.

    Here are the Himalayan poll questions in full:

    Q 1. How do you feel about bad weather ?

    Q 2. Do you want some money for your village ?

    Q 3. Where's the b-b-b-bathroom .....

  • Comment number 15.

    Wow.

    Talk about scraping the barrel.

    Do we get to see the questions? how are they phrased? are they leading? was it hot that day when the poll was taken? how many people were asked? were discounting views omitted?

    does having more people think one thing make them right?
    does any of this have anything to do with the atribution of climate change?

    This really is getting pathetic.

  • Comment number 16.

    Despite the practical difficulties of carrying it out, I agree with this sort of research. It absolutely must be limited to questions about things that are directly observable, because it is only with directly observable phenomena that a larger number of observers are more likely to get it right than a single observer.

    We all do this sort of thing, informally, when we ask: "Was that a rumble of thunder or just a truck on the road?" "Does this cream taste a bit sour to you?" and so on.

    A "show of hands" is worse than useless with more "theoretical" opinions (i,.e. opinions about things that cannot be observed directly) however -- the researchers must be extra careful (or extra carefully policed) not to ask such questions as "Do you think global warming will be a catastrophe for you, your wives, your little ones and your dear old grandmothers, and condemn non-existent future generations to a horrific and unjustified death?"

  • Comment number 17.

    GVS (10):
    'But, the real question will still be unanswered - man made?'

    Is that really the main question though? If climate change is happening and effecting things such as water supply and crop pests in the Himalayas then I think the main question is what can we (or rather the locals) do to cope with the situation.
    The focus of the research mentioned it this article is not whether it is man-made, but to what extent is it actually happening.
    I suspect people trying to live off the land in parts of Africa, Asia, etc. don't really care what causes it, they just want to know how to survive it.

  • Comment number 18.

    Lab Munkey (15) and CR(1) you are showing incredible contempt for what is a very respected and widely used form of data collection. Are you trying to antagonise all the social scientists in the world (as well as anyone who vaguely disagrees with your opinions)?

    As Bowman(16) and Adam (12,13) point out, it's difficult to do and the questions have to be right. But that doesn't mean it can't be done.

  • Comment number 19.

    I am an anthropologist and just writing up research on lay perceptions of climate change in indonesia, using primarily qualitative methods.

    Just one for the greenhouse gases debate...
    When talking to teenagers there was a group misunderstanding of the term greenhouse or glasshouse effect. There was a belief that the proliferation of windows in industrialised society led to warming of the earth. Greenhouse is a relative term, an analogy that requires us to have seen, heard about or understand what a greenhouse is. By using subjective terms to express scientific concepts the message is warped, skewed and misunderstood. Social qualitative research shows us where scientists are slipping up, at a local population level - which is often the level at which these changes really matter.

  • Comment number 20.

    muses30 #19 wrote:

    "By using subjective terms to express scientific concepts the message is warped"

    They must not, repeat MUST NOT, use any scientific concepts at all. They must strictly limit themselves to such questions as "Does this glacier look bigger or smaller to you than it did ten years ago?"

    Introducing scientific concept turns it an ideology check, which would be worse than useless.

  • Comment number 21.

    I always wonder how many evidence do we need to finally accept that there is something happening to our precious world called "climate change". It's true we dont have any concrete scientific evidence to pin point the reasons for it. But the truth is that its not a local problem, but a global one. May be its time that we set aside our greedy aspirations and push our selected representatives to do atleast one good thing for the only world we have - reduce emissions, preserve nature. In the mean time for all those sceptics of climate change, just watch the report on the link below. It not some hollywood movie, but scientific evidence: http://www.ted.com/talks/james_balog_time_lapse_proof_of_extreme_ice_loss.html

  • Comment number 22.

    Everyone knows that people who have colourful folk-culture clothing, music based on a pentatonic scale and herbal medicines are much more insightful, truthful, objective, observant and have far longer memories than those without these attributes.



  • Comment number 23.

    rajeshs #21 wrote:

    "do atleast one good thing for the only world we have - reduce emissions, preserve nature."

    Nature itself is not threatened in the slightest by global warming. It's the familiar patterns of nature as we currently know it that are threatened. But why preserve those? Please, someone give me a non-religious reason, for once.

  • Comment number 24.

    Thanks for the link Rajeshs. A very good speaker and fantastic photos. Ted is a great resource, especially for education. Subtitles are available (in a number of languages) as is the full text of what each speaker says.

  • Comment number 25.

    Ah well, I suppose this as close as we'll get from the MMGW evangelists that their data is at best massively incomplete.

    Hopefully they will move on and realise that their climate models are similarly flawed and we get some proper science done rather than simply following a political agenda.

  • Comment number 26.

    Mark 2002 (25)
    The scientific consensus is that anthropogenic/man-made global warming is occurring. This is recognized by the national science academies of all the major industrialized countries and is not rejected by any scientific body of national or international standing!

  • Comment number 27.

    #1 #15 ..... #25
    you misunderstood the post. there's no reasonable doubt that the planet is warming, this research is about the specific regional effects of that warming.

  • Comment number 28.

    Prague Imp (26)

    Accepted scientific opinion often turns out to be wrong. That is amply illustrated by the paradigm shift nature of every scientific theory I can think of.

    Postulate theory, find evidence, publish, get 'authority' from reputation, defend theory and reputation against new data by dismissing it as unreasonable, retire and watch old grad students postulate a new theory....rinse and repeat.

    I care not one jot for your consensus. Show me data that illustrates our climate is deviating outside of historic norms and I'll listen.

  • Comment number 29.

    26. At 13:27pm 1st May 2011, PragueImp wrote:

    Mark 2002 (25)
    The scientific consensus is that anthropogenic/man-made global warming is occurring. This is recognized by the national science academies of all the major industrialized countries and is not rejected by any scientific body of national or international standing!

    -----------------------------------------------------------------

    So what? They're still wrong. Just because the scientists of the day agree that something is so, that doesn't make it so.

    The world has more than four elements.
    Heavy objects don't fall faster than lighter ones.
    Phlogiston does not exist.
    The atom is not the smallest particle in existence.
    DNA, not proteins, control heredity.
    Ulcers are caused by a strain of bacterium, not stress.
    The Earth is not the centre of the universe.

    What do all these (and many, many more) have in common? At some point, the scientific consensus got all of these completely wrong. Sometimes for a very long time.

  • Comment number 30.

    As to the article, oh deary, deary me.

    So since the science of consensus has failed we're now trying the science of opinion polls? Laughable nonsense. Provide hard data, not anecdotes.

    And to all those rushing to the defence of the social scientist's methods of data collection, there's a reason the social sciences are referred to as the soft sciences...

  • Comment number 31.

    There is a potentially great deal to be gained by involving other disciplines. I won't go into the different types of interaction between disciplines, but this blog post seems to suggest a interdisciplinary approach (keeping the disciplines defined, but working closely together). A transdisciplinary approach may be better, but would require far more work and probably 'new blood' into the climate change research field.

    Using personal recounts of past climate and climate changes, as stated is very tricky. You need to apply the scientific method to something that is intrinsically human. Therefore having disciplines such as social anthropology working with the 'classic' climatologists on this issue is certainly needed. Social anthropology can be very 'heatedly debated' (reading some papers, you'd think you'd gone to see a slagging match) and is not as clear cut as some scientists would like. On the whole though, if another line can be added to the graph, at least we can have a notion of what may be happening to the Earth's climate.

    On a side note: Nature; we are nature; what we do is nature, as is everything else that well, just happens. I really think the use of 'anthropogenic' (human) and 'non-anthropogenic' (non-human) should be encouraged among non academics (academics do tend to use such terms). The Earth's climate has changed, is changing and will continue to change and we must accept that we may one day no longer be the dominant species or even become extinct. What we a rally concerned about is what impact as we, as a species have had. This does not make this unnatural though.

    Then again, I think more emphasis and effort should be put into looking at and tackling overconsumption and the overuse of resources. Implementing alternatives gives us a chance to use 'greener' (yuck!) solutions.

  • Comment number 32.

    Brunnen (29)
    ''So what? They're still wrong''
    That's just horribly arrogant (as are your comments about social scientists).

    There's a very small group of you people shouting very loudly about climate change (and most other environmental subjects), not wanting to accept that the vast majority of people have different views to yours.

  • Comment number 33.

    In my humble opinion there's little value in this approach. I've spent a good part of my career working with sample surveys, and have regular experience of participants forgetting details about important events after as little as six months.

    Almost as often they claim to have exact recall but when facts are checked against hard evidence like written records memories prove faulty. When the problems of accurate recall are overlaid by effects like season and daily variation the chance of finding real effects seems slim.

    Bowman mentioned the great difficulty in phrasing questions that are neutral, but added to this I noticed a few throw away lines about "focus groups".

    Now focus groups are strictly a qualitative methodology, and useful for some purposes BUT they should be used with care. You have to keep any participants in focus groups totally apart form those being interviewed in quantitative otherwise you simply prime them with ideas - and even if the effect is only subtle it can seriously bias results.

    Also I reckon the issue of random sampling has been neglected. It doesn't seem very clear if the 28 villages are tightly clustered or cover a vast area. If they are a fairly localised group that may be a weakness. I'd have thought it better science to interview a sample across a wider variety of locations, to reduce any impact of local climatic experience.

    And although perhaps a pedantic point, it seems likely many of the participants will be known to each other, the 8-10 participants from each village will have shared experiences and may have talked about how things were in their youth or the past. If that is the case, the effective sample size is actually a lot lower than 250 interviews made.

  • Comment number 34.

    I'm always saying that the empirical grounds for believing any theory are the tests it passes. So I wouldn't treat this stuff as "data". But I think anecdotal evidence is underrated. Darwin took local anecdote very seriously.

    If the locals are saying, "it's terrible, there used to be a glacier here when I was a lad!" or "it's wonderful, it doesn't snow much -- but it sure rains more than it did before!" or whatever, that ought to be taken seriously.

    The results might not be quite the hoped-for simple confirmations of catastrophe. The one farmer I know well thinks the whole global warming thing is a fraud -- worse luck, he says, because it sounds great!

  • Comment number 35.

    Bowman (34)
    Not necessarily ''hoped-for catastrophe''. You seem to be assuming that they are going in there with pre-conceptions, but nowhere in the article does it suggest which side of the debate these researchers are on (maybe they are climate skeptics looking for evidence?!)

    Earlier flowering, longer growing seasons and higher yields could all be results of climate change. Not all the effects have to be negative.

  • Comment number 36.

    '32. At 17:26pm 1st May 2011, PragueImp 'not wanting to accept that the vast majority of people have different views''

    There may be some debate on that. Probably the best thing then would be to have a poll. They often seem so encouraging :

    http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/about_us/press_and_media/press_releases/2009/10/Prove%20It.aspx

    Or, at least, keep having them until the 'correct' result is attained.

    Can work, though they often make statistics seem like beacons of veracity.

    You just need the luck of the Irish, a lovely people. Just... as with others, probably best these days not to go around calling them 'you' in certain ways. It can be frowned on.

  • Comment number 37.

    #2. HungeryWalleye wrote:

    re "Walleye - Take a look at the link posted in my #45. You support that kind of thing?"

    #45. = http://joannenova.com.au/2011/04/the-moment-to-test-what-we-are-made-of-is-here/

    Walleye, I think you have lost it. Your comment (#2) sounded delirious. Probably because you just can't deal with the ultra-sleazy methods used by your heroes... as described in this link.

    I think you are in a state of denial.

  • Comment number 38.

    #18. PragueImp

    "you are showing incredible contempt for what is a very respected and widely used form of data collection"

    LOL. You are funny Imp. Here's a term you might want to look up: "manufactured consent."

    And, for goodness sakes, don't pay any attention to the amazing tendency for polls commissioned by particular groups to support what that particular group wants to hear while other polls from other groups have different results.

    But then, since you swallow politicized AGW pseudoscience so easily, I can see why you would think that this approach would be valid. IPPC 'science,' Lysenko sociology, Obama economics, astrology, sheep entrails...

    And not even any need to pretend anything is peer reviewed or testable.

    Hoep therr wer no topys.

  • Comment number 39.

    This topic reminds me of something Obama just said yesterday when doing his quick PR tour of the Alabam tornado destruction:

    To paraphrase: 'I have never seen such destruction before."

    Duh. he's never been anywhere outside of his little cocoon to have seen anything.

    And in the media they tend to interview 20 year olds who say that they have never seen anything like x before. Shocking.

    So the kind of surveys noted in this blog will be pure unadulterated junk, for reasons best described Jack Hughes in #14. These people are far too smart to pass up free money for answering questions appropriately.

    And you can be certain that whoever is asking these questions will be an AGW missionary or working for one, with predictable results.

  • Comment number 40.

    Canadian
    Your comments used to be sensible and well thought out. What has happened? Is it because you are losing the argument that you are resorting to such methods?

  • Comment number 41.

    Great read. If anything, the debate surrounding climate change shows how disinclined we are are to adapt to change. Maybe this explains why there is such animosity towards the Science of climate change, which is about refining ideas & methods- it isn't static. I agree with rajeshs post 21, there is a fundamental lack of respect for this planet, it's resources & the sheer pressure a teeming humanity place on it. If people can't agree as to the wide variety of causes for climate change, maybe they can be united by an intelligent approach to developing systems that control our environment.Agriculture led to the emergence of complex civilisations, maybe mastery/control of our climate/resources/numbers can push humanity forward even more, because using the current model for wealth creation and improving living standards- lifting the entire population of the world into a 1950's American Dream life isn't sustainable

  • Comment number 42.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 43.

    CanadianRockies #38 wrote:

    'Here's a term you might want to look up: "manufactured consent."'

    That is a particularly disgusting and dishonest technique of "social scientists", and I'm against it.

    But just hearing what the locals say is important for observation.

  • Comment number 44.

    Imp - Here's your kind of survey, I presume.

    The next time one of the usual suspects starts screaming about this supposed 97% consensus of scientists who agree on AGW you can simply ask... all 75 of them?

    Yes, 75 of 77 is 97%.

    Thought there were more scientists than that?

    Well, first you EXCLUDE "the thousands of scientists most likely to think that the Sun, or planetary movements, might have something to do with climate on Earth - out were the solar scientists, space scientists, cosmologists, physicists, meteorologists and astronomers."

    That left 10,257 deemed 'worthy' for this on-line survey.

    But only 3146 bothered to answer it, and only 83% of that selected (for their bias) group agreed on AGW. So they narrowed that down to a cherry picked sample of 77, and voila, 97% of them agreed. Most astonishing that it wasn't 100%.

    Here's a link to the original paper:

    http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/images/stories/papers/originals/consensus_opiate.pdf

    Here's Solomon's article about it:

    http://opinion.financialpost.com/2011/01/03/lawrence-solomon-97-cooked-stats/


  • Comment number 45.

    CR
    You are continuing to rant and throw insults. Like I said, what happened to your old rational arguments?

  • Comment number 46.

    32. At 17:26pm 1st May 2011, PragueImp wrote:

    Brunnen (29)
    ''So what? They're still wrong''
    That's just horribly arrogant (as are your comments about social scientists).

    There's a very small group of you people shouting very loudly about climate change (and most other environmental subjects), not wanting to accept that the vast majority of people have different views to yours.

    ----------------------------------------------------------

    "You people"? Uh huh, no arrogance there then...

    And I accept that the majority hold a different view to me on AGW. So what? If the majority believed the world was flat and the edge was patrolled by ship eating dragons, would that make them right?

    There was a time when the majority of people believed the sun revolved around the Earth...

  • Comment number 47.

    #45. PragueImp wrote:

    "CR You are continuing to rant and throw insults."

    Tsk, tsk, Imp. Now you are making stuff up.

    As documented here, the real problem appears to be that you can't address any of the points raised. Oh well.

    I know this quote applies to Richard. You too?

    “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his job depends on not understanding it.” — Upton Sinclair


  • Comment number 48.

    #43. bowmanthebard

    "But just hearing what the locals say is important for observation."

    Can be. Depends on the questions. And on how much brainwashing they have endured. And NOT if it relies on memory.

    Given the whole AGW campaign, this fuzzy method is just a propaganda tool.

    Note this key statement from Richard:

    "Getting into some of the regions is time-consuming and arduous. Satellites give an incomplete picture - and only since the early 1980s, at that."

    What? This is supposed to provide more or better coverage than satellites? Joke #1.

    And if they are fishing for pre-1980 memories, then my point about unreliable memory comes into play.

    In any case, based on the documented track record of the AGW crisis industry, we can be sure that any results from these surveys will be cherry picked, adjusted, and manipulated to manufacture the desired result. That is what they do.

  • Comment number 49.

    Well, the moderators don't seem to think I was making it up - they have removed your insults (no.42)

  • Comment number 50.

    Here's more coverage of this story, with links to other coverage.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/05/01/himalayan-sherpas-as-climate-proxy/

    The laughter is pretty loud.

  • Comment number 51.

    Thanks for the link CR - a final nail in Mr Watts credibility. He is so arrogant it is unbelievable.

  • Comment number 52.

    51. At 21:33pm 1st May 2011, PragueImp wrote:

    Thanks for the link CR - a final nail in Mr Watts credibility. He is so arrogant it is unbelievable.

    ----------------------------------------------------

    I do love the way you accuse everyone who disagrees with the AGW scriptu... I mean consensus of arrogance.

    Disagreeing because you find faults in an argument, is NOT arrogance. Expecting everyone to fall in line with the majority view because it is the majority view is not only arrogance, it's against the very founding principles of science.

  • Comment number 53.

    Brunnen
    He's not disagreeing with an argument - he is simply laughing at someone daring to suggest that social science may add something to the debate.
    As stated earlier, why are you (and Mr Watts) assuming that these surveys were set up to prove global warming? Maybe they were done in an honest, neutral way with no bias? (some thing which seems to be absent in this debate).
    Laughing them off suggests you are worried about what they may find.

  • Comment number 54.

    I don't see much wrong with the basic premise of the article, not does it seem excessively slanted. To collect data on temperature and precipitation, thermometers and rain gauges (and I suppose those remote sensing satellites) would seem to be the first choice. If you don't have that, or to amplify, asking people on the ground what they experience doesn't seem too daft. However as pointed out several times, the way questions are framed is a science in itself; how they are asked is important too, and very culture dependent. I'm glad to note at least that the principle researchers are south Asian. I know full well from living and working in Asia that you are very likely to get the answer the respondent thinks you want. For example "do you like the red shirt more than the blue shirt?" is obviously not an unbiased question.(Yes is a much politer answer than No)
    "Which do you like - the red or the blue shirt?" is much fairer tho slightly biased in favor of blue. However if the questioner happens to be wearing a red shirt then it's a very biased situation.
    So yes, methodology and context is everything.

  • Comment number 55.

    "Brunnen
    He's not disagreeing with an argument - he is simply laughing at someone daring to suggest that social science may add something to the debate."

    ----------------------------------------------------------------

    And with good cause. There is no place for anecdote and opinion in this issue, only hard, verifiable fact. The very idea that people can remember what the weather was like decades ago with ANY degree of accuracy is laughable nonsense and should be treated as such.

    "As stated earlier, why are you (and Mr Watts) assuming that these surveys were set up to prove global warming? Maybe they were done in an honest, neutral way with no bias? (some thing which seems to be absent in this debate).
    Laughing them off suggests you are worried about what they may find."

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I'm not worried about what they'll find at all. Why? Because we all know in advance EXACTLY what they'll find. And therein lies the problem. The researcher bias is built in here as anyone who wasn't desperately trying to fortify the AGW case wouldn't waste their time asking Sherpas and Tibetans what the weather was like when they were children.

    If you want to prove the AGW case, do it with science, not stories.

  • Comment number 56.

    Brunnen (55)
    ''There is no place for anecdote and opinion in this issue, only hard, verifiable fact.''
    Fair enough. I disagree, but I can accept the argument.
    But in your second argument you are clearly suggesting these researchers went in with a fixed agenda ('..to fortify the AGW case..'). How can you be so sure? Maybe it's because you know them and the institute they work for. I don't, so I am giving them the benefit of the doubt.

  • Comment number 57.

    #49. PragueImp wrote:

    "Well, the moderators don't seem to think I was making it up - they have removed your insults (no.42)"

    That's odd. I thought it was a helpful diagnosis. Oh well, your complaint must have worked.

    The article posted at WUWT did not come from Watts. He just posted it. The laughter is from the comments there as well as the other source it is linked to. Seems skeptics have is a sense of humour. Guess they just don't realize that we're facing imminent doomsday.

    Anyways Imp. Seems the planetary fever makes some people's skin get too thin. Or maybe they have as much oversensitivity as IPCC CO2 models.



  • Comment number 58.

    Good news Richard! Now they've created a direct link from WUWT to this blog as an example of... well, as an example of what you do.

    That ought to increase your hit count.

    On another tangent, about that photo at the top... are those parts of 'endangered species' on that IPCC informant's head?

  • Comment number 59.

    CR (57)
    No, personal insults are not ''a helpful diagnosis''.

    ''The article posted at WUWT did not come from Watts. He just posted it.''
    So, it's his website, he posted it, but it's not his.... Ok. That really makes sense.

  • Comment number 60.

    56. At 22:56pm 1st May 2011, PragueImp wrote:

    But in your second argument you are clearly suggesting these researchers went in with a fixed agenda ('..to fortify the AGW case..'). How can you be so sure? Maybe it's because you know them and the institute they work for. I don't, so I am giving them the benefit of the doubt.

    ---------------------------------------------------------

    Unless they come from scientific institutes with stated, proven neutrality on the issue of AGW then it doesn't matter what institute they come from. And your claim in post 26 safely rules that out, especially if you want me to treat taking opinion polls as real science.

    Well? Where are the institutions who are neutral on this matter? Who can we trust not to have any bias? You were happy enough to crow that they didn't exist a few ago, can you manufacture some now that you need them?

    Like I said, the bias is built in. Right from the start.

  • Comment number 61.

    Brunnen (60)
    ''Unless they come from scientific institutes with stated, proven neutrality on the issue of AGW...''
    I don't know which institutions are on which side and which are neutral.

    ''You were happy enough to crow that they didn't exist a few ago, can you manufacture some now that you need them?''
    Sorry, I don't understand this point (and I don't mean because of the missing word - not trying to score cheap points here).

  • Comment number 62.

    26. At 13:27pm 1st May 2011, PragueImp wrote:

    Mark 2002 (25)
    The scientific consensus is that anthropogenic/man-made global warming is occurring. This is recognized by the national science academies of all the major industrialized countries and is not rejected by any scientific body of national or international standing!

    ------------------------------------------------------------

    The point is, who are we supposed to send? According to this post, all the wells are poisoned as AGW "is not rejected by any scientific body of national or international standing!"

    So where to we go to in order find people who are unbiased to do this "research".

  • Comment number 63.

    #59 - Drop the victim act Imp. You complained that you could not understand the simple language in some of my earlier posts. Since they were clear enough I commented on your inability to read them, with a little satire thrown in. Get over it.

    At least I don't call your comments 'rants' and find nonexistent 'insults' in any comment that I don't agree with.

    I'm starting to assume that you are a sociologist. Close enough?

    P.S. Suggesting that someone is a 'sociologist' is not an insult, unless you choose to take it that way.

  • Comment number 64.

    #59 - Oh yes Imp. Based on your WUWT logic, we can call all information posted here as from Richard. And all comments posted here are also from Richard.

    The wonders never cease.

  • Comment number 65.

    Ok, Brunnen, I get it now - sorry.
    But just because they have all rejected it doesn't mean they will continue to do so or that it will cloud their opinion? That's a bit too conspiracy theory for my liking.

    CR - what are you going on about?!

  • Comment number 66.

    This is beyond belief. The problem with climate science is that it isn't a real hard science in the sense that physics and chemistry are. The way it is practised , I would put it more firmly in the astrology sector. By collating data from people and treating this kind of data as having intrinsic scientific value only highlights how absurd this whole area of research has become. My god, call it something else...climatology perhaps ..but drop the word science...that really is a misnomer.

  • Comment number 67.

    Imp: If they're all on board with AGW theory, then the first thing they have to do before learning Tibetan is get to a sincere position of neither rejecting or supporting the idea of AGW. They simply MUST be neutral on this subject or their results are worthless.

    Why must they learn Tibetan (and to native standard at that)? What assurances do we have the interpreters don't have their own biases? What assurances do we have that nothing will be 'lost in translation' so to speak?

  • Comment number 68.

    Brunnen (67)
    ''They simply MUST be neutral on this subject or their results are worthless.''
    I totally agree. All I'm saying is that I don't see anywhere in this story that they are on board with the AGW theory.

    Anyway, way past my bedtime and I have lots of indoctrination to do in the morning.....

  • Comment number 69.

    68. At 00:44am 2nd May 2011, PragueImp wrote:

    Brunnen (67)
    ''They simply MUST be neutral on this subject or their results are worthless.''
    I totally agree. All I'm saying is that I don't see anywhere in this story that they are on board with the AGW theory.

    --------------------------------------------------------

    Of course you don't, nor would I expect you to.

    The worst part is, you have no idea why you can't see it.

  • Comment number 70.

    "Unless they come from scientific institutes with stated, proven neutrality on the issue of AGW then it doesn't matter what institute they come from"

    I suspect that any "neutral institution" that happened to find results that remotely supported man-made global warming would be immediately redefined as a "biased institution"

    Before skeptics get all high and mighty about how they wouldn't tolerate anything less than hard data, lets not forget it's skeptics who cite vineyards and vikings as a proxy for temperature and photos of submarines surfacing at the North Pole as a proxy for arctic ice extent.

  • Comment number 71.

    '49. At 21:20pm 1st May 2011, PragueImp wrote:
    Well, the moderators don't seem to think I was making it up - they have removed your insults (no.42)'


    'Rules' are made to be interpreted, of course. Which can often depend on the interpreters.

    Could have been worse and simply been off topic. Or not. Depending...

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/richardblack/2011/04/with_un_climate_negotiations_i.html?postId=108376763

  • Comment number 72.

    When did you last beat your wife?
    What changes have you seen as a result of global warming?
    Do you want a labour or Tory government?

    It's all in the asking. What is a miracle is that it was only 50% who agreed with the leading questions about global warming. Clearly any village with any sense would realise that if they got it to 60 or even 70%, then they would see vast hoards of climate researchers descending on their villages to study this doomsday warming that is so bad, so devastating, so horrendous, that after 40 years of global warming and doomsday only in another 100 ... it is so absolutely catastrophic ... that half the people can't see it at all, even when that is clearly what the researchers wanted to find.

  • Comment number 73.

    This is the most bizarre idea I have ever heard. So we're going to use the climate data from Nepalese villagers? Presumably that takes us back to the 1950's and is coloured by nostalagia. Just read the Anglo Saxon Chronicle to see what kind of database folk memory is. The Chronicle is full of snow, floods, droughts etc "worse than any man could remember".

    Looking back to agriculture from my 1950's childhood and comparing it to now, I would say that "Climate whatever it is this week" has cause the spread of Oilseed Rape across the country. There has been a spread of Spruce, Lodgepole Pine and other conifers across the highlands. For weather the sun shone everyday except when we went on holiday to the seaside.

    How anyone with an ounce of commonsense or a scientific background could publish an article supporting this crackpot scheme is beyond me.

  • Comment number 74.

    Why not ask the same question of yourselves: "Is summer coming earlier or later than it was ten years ago?" I'll bet that for most people, the most truthful answer would be, "I don't know".
    Or ask the question of people living in rural areas. An unbiased result would probably be about 50/50.
    Or maybe ask a Londoner whether boat traffic has increased or decreased on the Thames in the last 10 years. Or whether or not planes flying over London have increased.
    My point is, us humans are are not very good at making such judgements. Our memories were simply not designed for that task. Which is why we had to invent thermometers and logbooks.

  • Comment number 75.

    So, public opinion is now counted as scientific data. Get real Mr Black. Ask the Inuit the same question and they will give the answer they think you want- same as the sherpas.

  • Comment number 76.

    You can see bias at work here already:

    "in some villages about half of the people questioned reported that summer was now starting earlier than 10 years ago; which raises the question of why the other half did not.

    "In villages where life is based almost totally on farming, you might expect a more consistent view.

    "In one sense, that is like putting two thermometers in the same place and finding that one registered a temperature rise while the other did not."

    I think it is more like putting two thermometers in the same place and finding one registered a temperature rise while the other registered a temperature drop.

    "If that happened in practice, you would need to have experts in thermometers on hand to interpret the divergent readings"

    No you wouldn't. You should conclude that these thermometers are pretty unreliable, and the best we can say is there has probably been no significant temperature change.

  • Comment number 77.

    Nice to see this noticed by the BBC. The approach is not new, however. Snowchange.org has been collecting and publishing the observations of indigenous people on climate change in the Arctic for a decade now. The publications include contribution to the last IPCC report, Indigenous Peoples Climate Assessment, Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Assessment, ECORA GEF Conservation Programme in the Russian Arctic... to name but a few.

  • Comment number 78.

    It is extraordinary that here yet again we have Richard extolling another ludicrous idea from the Grantham Institute. The links he provides us to this show them in the business of prviding fellowships and grants for students prepared somehow find evidence to support their assertions.

    They also fund seminars, conferences and pay visiting academics with the specific aim of reinforcing their questionable conclusions.

    In their latest briefing paper for example they have Joanna Haigh of Imperial college earning her corn telling us about the (minimal) effect the sun has on our climate. Rather amazingly Joanna manages to do this without mentioning climate sensitivity or feedbacks, a feat rather like talking about the elephant in the room without ever mentioning the elephant.

    I don't really believe that the stories of the BBC Trust funding of Grantham Institute via Globe International should carry much weight. I think Richard should simply try to be (dare I say) a little more sceptical and to broaden his sources of information

  • Comment number 79.

    It is quite extraordinary that Richard should use Oxburgh's conclusions in the UEA enquiries (regarding climate science's need for better statisticians) to support the idea that oral evidence from uneducated people might be used to "enhance" (and potentially replace) measured data. Perhaps as a further enhancement he thinks we might even persuade a few of them to throw some bones.

    Any of us who has read the likes of Andrew Montford's "The Hockey Stick Illusion" has a pretty good idea of what is wrong with the UEA (and Penn State) statistics. Trust me this is not it.

  • Comment number 80.

    bandy (78)
    The idea does not come from the Grantham Institute - it is research done by two scientists from Massachusetts and Harvard.

    Various contributors (72-on) Why so damning about social surveys? They are used in many areas. As the article says, data for the area is meagre so why not ask the locals. They know they have to be careful in how they analyse the results, but that doesn't mean it's worthless.
    I just get the feeling that climate skeptics are worried that about what the locals will say.

    Junk (71) I have no idea what you are trying to say!

  • Comment number 81.

    @PragueImp #80:

    I'll ask the same question of you: "Did summer come earlier or later 10 years ago?" Answer as truthfully as you can, just from memory.

    Or some more personal questions, like 10 years ago:
    Did you eat more or less?
    Did your shoes last you longer or shorter?
    Did you suffer more or less colds?

    Even if you can eliminate bias, surveys that rely on peoples' long-term memory are of precious little use, if any.

  • Comment number 82.

    PragueImp #80:

    I just get the feeling that climate skeptics are worried that about what the locals will say.


    And I get the feeling that alarmists will, depending on which way the results point, either trumpet them from the rooftops, or dismiss them as being 'flawed'.
  • Comment number 83.

    Peter (82)
    I totally agree. Both sides of the argument could/will use it to further their case if they think they can. My point is that there is nothing wrong with social scientists doing this kind of survey; what's wrong is how the results are used by certain groups to further their interests.

    Peter (81)
    I'm not actually in the same country I was in ten years ago, so can't help you there!
    But these don't seem to be the only questions that were asked (I say 'seem to be' because I haven't seen the exact questions - has anyone?).
    They got responses such as 'we have mosquitoes now when we didn't have before'. I don't think the question for that response could have been loaded in any way, or that it has been corrupted by bad memory.
    Agreed, remember general things from ten years ago isn't so precise, but the report says that comments like less snow now, it's warmer, and we have less water all correspond with temperature and rainfall statistics (comparing the survey results with existing data is something the study did).

  • Comment number 84.

    Human beings are creatures of denial. Maybe a greater proportion on this page than the population in general, but none the less human beings wait until it is too late to do just about everything. Much building and re-building on earthquake fault lines, on rivers that tend to flood regularly and poisoning of air and water. Only when denial is totally unacceptable do things change and usually as with the problem itself the blame game begins...Certainly the people who populate this page have a better understanding of the Himalaya conditions than the people who actually live there. The continued cry of not trusting science or anything else, except their political agenda. Human suffering is caused by desire, emotion and ignorance...that has never changed. If God appeared and proclaimed climate change the deniers would question the authority.

  • Comment number 85.

    ghostofsichuan #84 wrote:

    "Human beings are creatures of denial."

    Yes, but the single fact that most people are in denial of is their own individual mortality. They avoid the thought by re-casting it as an "external" threat -- of a religious-style apocalypse -- that can be avoided if we all lean together.

  • Comment number 86.

    Interesting article and in the right direction! People will have to re-think the way on how to collect data and on how to get valuable information.
    We are working in Southern and Eastern Africa using participatory media tools to communicate and detect community experiences and local strategies on climate change. Have a look at: http://www.resourceafricauk.org/

  • Comment number 87.


    My posting about this seems to have vanished into the ether, so here goes again.

    The Anglo-Saxon chronicle is full of references to droughts, floods, gales and particular snow fall worse "than any man could remember". I guess that the Nepali chronicle will be exactly the same. Only this time rather than being an interesting read and history lesson it will be an excuse to waste billions on what is an opinion survey.

    Looking at things from my childhood in the 1950's to now global warming-> climate change -> climate disruption -> carbon pollution has created the spread of Brassica napus in arable areas and Lodgepole Pine and Douglas Fir in Mountains. Man doing stuff at ground level had no effect obviously.

    This is pseudo-science at its very best, and just what I'd expect to read in a BBC scientific blog.

  • Comment number 88.

    75. John Marshall wrote:

    "So, public opinion is now counted as scientific data. Get real Mr Black. Ask the Inuit the same question and they will give the answer they think you want- same as the sherpas."

    Excellent example. The Inuit, who have to live with polar bears, are correctly claiming that there are more polar bears now. That is fully supported by the historical record and is the predictable result of hunting laws which were tightened dramatically in the 1970s.

    So what happens when they say this. The AGW gang insists that they are wrong and pulls out some junk models and selected cherry picked anecdotes to dismiss their real world on-the-ground experience.

    Remember the 'drowning polar bear' Big Lie... based on a few bears that they found drowned one year. Etc., etc.

    The polar bear MUST be in trouble to be their fake AGW poster child. So they choose to dismiss what doesn't fit.

    That is what the AGW crisis industry does. And now they want use this trick.

  • Comment number 89.

    #77. Panarctis wrote:

    "ECORA GEF Conservation Programme in the Russian Arctic... to name but a few."

    Ah yes. Russia.

    "(Russian) Analysts say Russian meteorological stations cover most of the country’s territory, and that the Hadley Center had used data submitted by only 25% of such stations in its reports. Over 40% of Russian territory was not included in global-temperature calculations for some other reasons, rather than the lack of meteorological stations and observations.

    The data of stations located in areas not listed in the Hadley Climate Research Unit Temperature UK (HadCRUT) survey often does not show any substantial warming in the late 20th century and the early 21st century."

    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/




  • Comment number 90.

    Another example. After the orchestrated fear-mongering propaganda campaign, how many British villagers believed in Saddam's WMDs?

    Is anyone surprised that Tony Bliar is now a highly paid 'climate change' consultant?

  • Comment number 91.

    As a climate scientist who has made a career out of CAGW, I am absolutely against these forms of research by social scientists. As it stands the cat appears to be out of the bag and it is getting harder to get the taxpayer funds my comfortable lifestyle requires, besides I have a family to feed.

    Frankly speaking, too many people are waking up to the fact that CAGW is a scam and the last thing I need is more competition for a share of the diminishing taxpayer funding pie.

    Please can you Social Scientists go away and invent your own catastrophic scam instead of leeching off of our gravy train!

  • Comment number 92.

    I'm not getting into debate about the previous comments. I probably don't have enough knowledge to. However, it struck me as obvious that peoples memories should be tapped into. Alright, most of us remember childhood summers as being warm and sunny every day when we know in reality they weren't. However, the point about UK scientists asking the public when spring is starting is something that has been going on for years and has proved to be fairly reliable. I can honestly say with certainty that spring is 'earlier' now, as Daffodils flower weeks before my mothers birthday, whereas they always used to be out just about the time of her birthday and so were a cheap and reliable present when I was small. That hasn't been the case for a good few years now. I had to buy her some this year as none had flowered where I lived. There have been many other things I noticed too which may be due to climate change or pesticides etc. A lack of red admiral butterflies (haven't seen one in years) whereas I used to collect them every year. Very very few ladybirds, less sparrows (none living in my hedgerows anymore) etc etc. I could go on. And when I compare what I think to my grans memories, and what she's observed, it builds up a pretty interesting local picture as she has been an avid gardener and home farmer since childhood. It just seems to me that if I have noticed changes in flowering times and weather patterns (with photographic evidence to remind me a lot of the time) then why should we not trust other peoples memories and experiences?

  • Comment number 93.

    @bandy...79. How ignorant of you to assume that because these people in the himalayas have not been schooled, that they must therefore be 'uneducated'. They would know FAR more than you which animals and plants are present at which times of year, when to plant and harvest their different crops etc, weather and rainfall patterns etc based on hundreds of years of collective experience. That knowledge is passed from parent to child through LIFE, not school.

  • Comment number 94.

    "If God appeared and proclaimed climate change the deniers would question the authority. "

    Firstly, I assume you mean man made climate change. The only people trying to deny that climate changes naturally are on your side of the barricades.

    That said, that's not a bad idea. Break out the god / goddess of your choice and have him / her announce AGW to the world. After that I PROMISE to be on board. After all, if I have to accept a concept as ludicrous as gods, I guess I'll be forced to accept a concept as ludicrous as AGW.

  • Comment number 95.

    94...your side of the barricades
    ...AGW...

    It's funny- before reading this blog, I'd never heard of the AGW. It seems those who use the words *barricades* and *AGW* the most, are using these words as weapons to be deliberately confrontational. It's fine that some appear stationed on this blog with a spear, but occasional contributors usually aren't in war mode or equipped with all the *in house* abbreviations.

    On the data collectioning point-It seems a good idea when it taps into specific areas of knowledge and local skills. Like farming- if an area can't grow a certain crop anymore- because of reduced rainfall or access to water for irrigation- it's important to know how a local population are adapting to a change in climate- however that change might come about. It might be useful to instruct locals to grow different crops more suitable to the changing conditions, rather than unsatisfactory yields of crops they've been growing for generations
  • Comment number 96.

    #95. _Ryan_ wrote:

    "...occasional contributors usually aren't in war mode or equipped with all the *in house* abbreviations"

    Anthropogenic, or not, only matters to those who 'believe' that if they can 'prove' that changes in the climate (or aggregate weather) are 'man-made' than perhaps some man made action can be taken to 'prevent' these undesirable(?) changes.

    I do not think that many rational observers will argue that the climate is static over time so everyone is on the side of climate change, no matter what the belief is of the/a cause.

    I have personally always argued that the appropriate strategy is one of taking sensible steps to ameliorate the effects of changes in aggregate weather. However the anthropogenic 'mob', who incidentally have careers built on their theories, believe (in my view in a completely quasi-religious way and one not based on sound science) that some great global change is gas generation will 'solve' the 'problem' of climate change. To this end they produce theories that one gas or another is 'responsible' for 'climate change' and thus hope to ban it!

    You will gather that my well analysed and scientific opinion is that the climate change by man 'mob' are of unsound mind, demonstrate a form of mass hysteria, are deluded and are in error. I see climate changes as being generated by a combination of changes in solar activity and the incidence of the solar flux on our planet in combination with orbital changes of our planet and its moon - including changes in obliquity.

    Both groups propose that it is reasonable that climate changes. The UN's IPCC 'mob' want to bully the planet's peoples into carrying out a massive and unscientific change in our use of energy - which may actually not be a bad thing at all, but for other reasons - but not as a way of altering the changes in our climate. Those who think the UN's IPCC ' mob' are a load of, possibly well intentioned, charlatans, see the most appropriate and scientifically sound strategy as seeking to guard against the most damaging bad effects of a changing climate.

    If my idea about the driver of changes in climate is correct then artificial changes to CO2, CH4 CFC emissions will not effect the climate, but what would, are ways of modifying or manipulating the solar flux (e.g. big mirrors in space or some such notion such as modifying the interface between our planet's atmosphere and the solar flux - as moving the moon about is far too costly in energy and completely impractical as would be artificially altering the way that the oceans transmit and distribute heat about our planet! etc...)

    Much of the disputing between these groups therefore concentrates on the accuracy of scientific measurements of their favourite mechanisms for change - so it does matter.

    But what almost everyone agrees is that the climate changes, has changed and will continue to change!

    I hope this makes things a little clearer!

  • Comment number 97.

    I don't think the mentioned article contributes anything towards the validity or predictive value of (quantitative) climate models, and I don't think it is intended to. (I certainly hope it isn't!) In the first sentence the authors state that rapid climate in the Himalayas is "assumed", and take it from there.
    I read it as discussing the value of local information for making adaptations to a changing environment.

  • Comment number 98.

    Loz,
    Re your #93

    When I said the Himalayan peoples were uneducated, I was not for a moment sugesting they were either stupid or had no worthwhile knowledge. All I was suggesting was that if one wanted a bit of statistical analysis or some differential equations solved, it would probably be best to find someone educated in statistics or mathematics.

    If you want your pipes fixed, it is probably best to call a plumber. The shaman however wise in tribal lore won't know a lot about U bends and valves.

  • Comment number 99.

    76. At 09:41am 2nd May 2011, bowmanthebard wrote:

    “No you wouldn't. You should conclude that these thermometers are pretty unreliable, and the best we can say is there has probably been no significant temperature change.”

    As a philosopher and logician perhaps you could explain how two unreliable thermometers would indicate that there “has probably been no significant temperature change”? Remember there are two types of error. Saying something has changed when it hasn’t versus saying something hasn’t changed when it has. Also, from basic statistics one realizes that decreasing one type of error increases the likelihood of the other.

    As a person who consistently denies the value of statistics it would also be useful to know how you define “significant temperature change”?

  • Comment number 100.

    90. At 20:15pm 2nd May 2011, CanadianRockies wrote:

    "Another example. After the orchestrated fear-mongering propaganda campaign, how many British villagers believed in Saddam's WMDs?

    Is anyone surprised that Tony Bliar is now a highly paid 'climate change' consultant?"

    Since the main proponent of Iraqi WMD was George Bush, he convinced Tony Blair of WMD, and he is a major AGW denier, whose administration sent a minder to keep the lid on James Hansen, cut NASA's earth science budget etc. (using your logic) shouldn't we conclude the deniers are lying, paranoid scoundrels, whose goal is to deny science?

 

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