Presentation at Liverpool University

Pooh and Piglet find tracks of the hefferlump and decide to follow them.

Pooh and Piglet find tracks of the heffalump and decide to follow them.

Last Friday, I finally gave my presentation to Liverpool University. Not on climate as you might expect, but on the famous battle of Mons Graupius between the Caledonians and Romans which as the evidence of 1st century dating of the line of camps in Northern Scotland tells us was in Moray (near Inverness).

Note, I’m not saying “may be” in Moray, but “was” in Moray**, because I’ve now rechecked all the available evidence for the line of marching camps heading north and far from being later (as is commonly suggested) the evidence only supports the campaign of Agricola (c83AD) and not the later campaign by Severus.

SurfaceGeology+3km+tracksThis means that the line of “dots” (red) for the Roman camps, can only have been from the Agricola campaign of which the Battle of Mons Graupius was the climax. And this battle is very likely to have taken place on the “flat” geology shown in black. This more or less validates the “turned” interpretation the Ptolemy map which gives the Northern Heartland of the Caledonians in the Moray Firth (the top left of the map).

This means that given all the evidence from Tacitus’ description of being in sight of the sea, on a plain etc. (i.e. in black areas to left), the only place that fits is somewhere on the coast around Elgin or onward to Inverness with Quarrelwood Hill (now Quarrywood Hill) just east of Elgin being by far the most likely site. Continue reading

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Israel a pariah State

If any other country had stolen the land on which it exists, had then incarcerated the previous inhabitants in a huge prison and then killed thousands of them for daring to resist their detention, the world would rightly have reacted. The US would have sent in war planes to stop the illegal and criminal occupation of foreign territory, etc., etc.

But when Israel does to the Palestinians what the Nazis did to the Jews, then the response from the US is:

That’s OK! Go ahead! Anihiliate the population at your will. The US supports the genercide!

Just in the most recent holocaust, the Jewish Nazis have killed 1000s and injured nearly 10,000 for what? The death of a few Israelis who the valiant palestinians try with lawful means UNDER INTERNATIONAL LAW to remove from occupied land.

And what is the Palestinian crime? To have built tunnels, firstly to break the illegal blockade of Gaza and secondly, to enforce its right under international law to have their land restored to them by the illegal occupiers.

Because, as far as I can see, Israel is an illegal state, and not only just illegal, but a racist, apartheid state. It has no right to exist except that of a bullyboy thug who has taken over land and now uses the law of jungle to say “I hold it so it is mine”.

The simple fact is that the “Jewish” right to a state in that area ceased around 70AD when the Romans terminated it. One can argue about that historical event, but one cannot argue that the Jewish state ended. Almost every other country has changed hands (INCLUDING ENGLAND) in that 2000 year period. Those who have a right to that land, are the Jewish, Greek, and Romans who stayed in palestine and no doubt largely make up the present palestinian population. In contrast, those with no rights are the European Jews who probably share no more DNA with the Jews of 2000 years ago than I do.

So, I am just dumbfounded that anyone ever gave this claim to a “Jewish state” any credence.

Worse, I think the injustice of supporting the Nazi-style regime in Israel which considers the deaths of 100s of palestinians to be less important than one single illegal occupier is perhaps the single most important reason for most recent terrorism and unrest from and in the middle east.

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Home to an earful on climate.

On my return from a holiday in Brittany, Paris, and canoeing down the Wye, I was catching up with an old friend when I experienced the strangest phenomenon:

someone going on at length to tell me how absurd the idea of global warming was.

Apparently, whilst I had been away the so called “science” and technology committee had produced another quintessential British whitewash of the IPCC …. but according to my friend “the only scientists on the committee disagree”. And as a physicist he was quite irate upset that the politicians were ignoring the lack of warming, the failed predictions, the money, politics. Continue reading

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Global warming trends

Every so often I go and have a look at the global warming search term trends to see how things are going. This time I’ve collected them together.

The general overview of searches

Below is an overview of the trend since 2004 till present on the search terms “global warming”, “Greenhouse gas”, “”climate change”, “climategate” and for comparison “antarctic”.

Trends of various search terms on Google

First, taking the term “Antarctic”, we see that there is a general trend for search volumes to decrease with time, although as we are not told what exactly this figure means, it is likely it means that the relative importance of the term “Antarctic” has declined.

So, the rise in “Global warming” is just phenomenal from 2004 till 2007 when it clearly peaked. Whilst if we look closely we can also see that “greenhouse gas” and “climate change” had a temporary peak in 2007, their relative decline since 2007 is smaller.


Something which shows up quite clearly, particularly in “Climate change” and “Greenhouse gas” is Climategate.” However, it is surprising how relatively small the effect was on the search term “Global warming”. Perhaps this is because “global warming” had already seen a massive decline in public interest which far outdwarfed the scandal of Climategate.

Whatever the truth, whilst for those of us involved it may have seemed huge (I created the petition asking for the investigations), the reality is that climategate was just a temporary reprieve in public interest.

Yearly Cycle

Yes, if you have been wondering, there is a pronounced yearly cycle to the “global warming” search term. And “term” may well be right in two of its meanings.

"Global warming" Cyclic trend by year

“Global warming” Cyclic trend by year

Because the scale of searching seems to closely follow the academic year. The Xmas break is clearly seen. Then around June/July as we enter the exam period, the number of searches decrease until it reaches another low at the hottest time of the year, so a time if common sense had anything to do with it we would expect a peak. And then when the young minds return to the classroom to be indoctrinated again, we see a rise.  Or perhaps we should conclude:

Interest in global warming peaks in colder months!

Unfortunately, not all the world has the same winter months. But it isn’t possible using Google trends to select out only northern countries, so instead I’ve selected out the long term trend and plotted below:

US, UK & Canada trends for "Global warming".

US, UK & Canada trends for “Global warming”. (Note dates centred mid year)

Now the trend is even stronger and for example on the UK (red) line we often seen two distinct dips corresponding to the Easter and summer school holidays.

Global warming is climate related!

And of course the irony is that the global warming search cycle is clearly climate related as the following two plots show:

"Global warming" search trend for US, Australia and India showing distinct differences in cycle

“Global warming” search trend for US, Australia and India showing distinct differences in cycle. (Notes date centred mid year)

To understand this, first look at the blue line (US) which shows the typical Northern cycle. Then compare this to India (red). Notice how in 2007/2008, there is a strong yearly trend but this is out of phase with the US. I presume this is because of their monsoon climate. Next look at the orange and see how the lowest dips coincide with the US small “summer dip”.

To show that this is climatic, below I’ve plotted the three big southern hemisphere English speaking countries: Australia, S.Africa and New Zealand.

"Global warming" search trends for southern hemisphere English speaking countries of Australia, S.Africa and New Zealand

“Global warming” search trends for southern hemisphere English speaking countries of Australia, S.Africa and New Zealand. (Note dates centred mid year)

Australia and New Zealand are culturally very similar and geographically relatively close. So, perhaps the strongest evidence is the close similarity between S.Africa and this pair. Again these southern nations have their strongest dip in June/July in contrast to the Northern states dip in December/January.

Interest in global warming peaks in colder months!

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Analysis of Scottish Power Outage

The power outage


In response to the news on bishop hill that MSP Alex Johnstone (Conservative, North East Scotland) was tabling the following question:

‘whether it has undertaken any further investigation into whether an over reliance on wind turbines as a source of electricity played a role in the grid failure on 16 April 2014′. (S4O-03258)

I decided to reveal what I had found in my comments on that blog. However, without the above graph the comments will not make much sense, so I’ve rushed out this post (apologies for the poor quality graph, click for a larger version). But before the graph, let me quickly look at the big picture:

What is the safe level of wind on a grid?


Back around 2000 it was well known that more than about 16-19% wind on a grid would be problematic. After the recent scandal of John Swinney misleading the public, I went to see what the current figure is. Eventually I found a paper, that quoted another paper, that quoted another paper, that eventually led back to a paper written about 1990.

In other words, there has been next to no (published) research on the effect of wind on an electricity network and no one really has any idea how serious the effect will be and at what level we will start to see these effects. This in itself is very worrying.

The analogy I would use is of a car driving down the road. As you drive the car faster and faster, the likelihood of a catastrophic accident increases because the effect of any curve (change in the wind) is all the more greater, and the time to respond is therefore all the smaller. Moreover, wind is displacing conventional backup as it is being made uneconomic – so not only is the destabilising effect of wind increasing, but the ability to stabilise the grid from conventional power is decreasing.

Just as one can make the car safer at higher speeds by getting better equipment – brakes, tyres, etc., but fundamentally, speed = more wind, can be partly offset by more and more money spent on protecting the network, but eventually no matter how much is spent too much instability will close down the grid as surely as too much speed will cause any car to go off the road. We just don’t know what that figure is!

But, in researching the background to this power outage, I became aware that the North of Scotland is now regularly having power outages. This is just what we would expect from a system under pressure. TO use the car analogy – we are already seeing the screeching of wheels and the excessive use of brakes.

The graph

This graph is a plot of the rate of change of power on the grid from various sources as well as the differently scaled change in phase (red dot). The most dominant feature is the massive change in phase which changed dramatically from 8:35-8:40 and then recovered from 8:40 to 8:45. This is like the heartbeat of the electricity network – it’s the single most important measure telling us if the system is under stress. It was clearly under a huge stress at 8:40, there is no obvious “stress” at 8:30 – 8:35.

The other important evidence on this graph is the way the wind curve (light blue) closes matches the rate of change in phase. The two match each other in their peaks and troughs showing that the main cause of changes in phase of the network was due to wind. In other words, wind power was the dominant feature that evening. To go back to the car analogy, it would be like plotting car speed against road curve. If the car is near its speed limit, each bend will cause the speed to decrease. If however the car is well within its speed for the road, it will hardly change the speed around the bends. The electricity network was clearly near its limit and having problems coping with the amount of wind.

What is perhaps most important is that the outage occurred at a time total demand was decreasing, with the result that Hydro (mid blue) was being turned down. So from 8pm till the massive power phase change at 8:35, hydro was being ramped down until (as seen on a graph of total power not change) very little was being produced.  This is important because hydro is very quick to react and so a good proportion of hydro stabilises the grid. Turn off the hydro – and the grid becomes less stable – or as strongly appears to have happened on this night – we get a catastrophic instability!

These show that the right conditions existed for a catastrophic failure. However it does not give the actual cause. But in examining the supposed “relay fault” which we are told occurred at 8:30, it is very interesting that the main evidence of a power cut (a sudden and dramatic change in phase) occurred 8:35-8:40, at least five minutes after the supposed relay fault at 8:30. This is also backed up by a number of anecdotal accounts of lights going out well after 8:30 at around 8:40.

This strongly suggests that if there was a fault at 8:30pm that the actual event causing the power outage did not occur until at least 8:35 but instead showed at 8:40pm as a massive and sharp change in grid frequency. That suggests another event occurred around 5-10minutes after the supposed “relay fault” and so there is 5-10 minutes which has not so far been explained between the “fault” and the power outage.

This time discrepancy needs to be explained because I cannot see how a fault at 8:30 could lead to a sudden massive change in mains frequency at 8:40 unless there were an additional factor of which the large and dominant affect of wind, and the collapse in hydro output (presumably due to a bad forecast and general otherwise oversupply) that night on the whole system is very likely to be the cause.

In other words, even if there was a “relay fault” (which itself seems doubtful as given in the original letter) this was just coincidental was probably found as a result of having to cope with the massive power surge from wind – and is all in all just a very handy excuse.

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Lewandowsky: those believing in global warming are gullible.


Based on the ethics application, Lewandowsky’s known views on skeptics and comments he made about “the pause” it appears this project was set up with the expectation that it would show that skeptics changed their views depending what they thought the graph showed. It was probably expected that skeptics would demonstrate a bias by changing their estimation of future trend when informed the graph showed global temperature and it might have been expected that many would say it was cooling.

To test this idea, the groups were randomly split into those told the graph was the share price and another told it was global temperature. They were also asked their views on climate and Lewandowsky then compared those within each group to see how their beliefs on climate was related to their average prediction of the future trends.

It turns out the survey showed the complete opposite effect to that we believe was expected. Skeptics in the group told it was temperature and those told it was share prices had almost the same prediction of the future trend. So irrespective of whether it was shares or global temperature skeptics estimate of future trends were very similar. In contrast the expected trend given by global warming believers differed dramatically between those who were led to believe the graph showed share prices and those led to believe it was global temperature.
Continue reading

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Rise and Fall of wikipedia

Number of new wikipedia articles

Number of new wikipedia articles

Wikipedia were one of the earlier websites on the internet launching in 2001. Like other big sites, they saw rapid growth in user participation from 2001 till 2006 and then very suddenly, as the graph to the right shows, the number of new articles hit a peak and it has been declining steadily since.

That decline coincided with a change in the culture stemming from the increasing costs of running the website and the appointment of Florence Devouard as board chairman who introduced a more commercial outlook for the site, which although low-key clearly had profound impacts.

Anyone familiar with graphs will recognise that we have two phases of exponential change. The first, exponential growth, the second exponential decline. And clearly something “flipped” at Wikipedia around 2007 as it changed very dramatically and sharply from one to the other.

I was one of the people who edited Wikipedia around 2007 so here are some possible reasons:

  1. They had an article on everything – the most obvious answer is that there are only so many articles that fit in an encyclopaedia and once they are all written, the fun of “being the first” to create an article disappears.
  2. The focus on “quality” – it is (was) very easy to start an article on Wikipedia and great fun, however it was just tedious doing all the small minor edits and updates once they were written.
  3. Wikipedia couldn’t afford more articles so started restricting them – perhaps the top of Wikipedia suddenly realised they were running out of money and that if the size of the website kept growing, they would have to close. Perhaps there was a conscious decision to “put off” new work.
  4. The constant political edit wars – for any of us that edited the global warming articles, we know how ridiculous these politically motivated edit wars were. And I’ve no doubt that certain views were being pushed by the top of Wikipedia, so in effect any decent editor was simply giving cover through their quality work to hide the overt political nature of Wikipedia.
  5. Asking for money put off editors – that as soon as editors were told “it’s not free to edit Wikipedia”, they stopped giving their time and efforts for free.


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Post will be light for a while

I will be busy for the next few weeks so blogging levels will be light.

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Change of site address to

I’ve finally decided to provide this Scottish Sceptic blog its own url:

If there are any teething problems please add your comment here.

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Why climate engineers beat the climate academics

The academic way: if one theory won't reach, just use two.

The academic way: if one theory won’t reach, just use two.

There is no doubt that skeptics have a proven track record on predicting the inability of climate academics to predict the climate. After nearly 18years without warming which none of the academics predicted (even after it started), they are looking increasingly sheepish and trying to talk about anything but their proven inability to predict the climate.

However, whilst us “climate engineers” have been vindicated, there is still the question: “why?” Why is it that people from a general engineering/science background like us skeptics could have known that the academics would get it wrong?

Of course, the obvious answer is: “because they are academics”. But … how do I put this … I’d rather like a more academic answer.

In my previous post I highlighted yet another shot in the foot comment from The EndOfPhysics:

People who are insisting on validation of models, or precise confirmation of certain quantities (like the ECS for example). It’s as if they think science should be more like engineering and don’t realise that science is about trying to understand the world around us, not control or use it. You can’t just deliver a scientific result on demand, you can only do as well as is possible given the tools/knowledge available at that time.

Strangely he does add to the sum of human knowledge – but not quite in the way he hopes. Because he confirms some key points. Continue reading

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