# NIWA’s psychic ability to predict something they say is statistically impossible

Welcome to another episode of “What was that climate guru thinking?”.

Accoding to NIWA (New Zealand’s Weather Alchemists), they have the most impossibly difficult job on the planet. (No! In the Galaxy.)

Watch the maths and communications whizzes whip up excuses for the failure of NIWA’s seasonal “forecasting”:

“Trying to communicate how hard it is to predict the weather a few months into the future, Niwa has turned to a mind blowing analogy to provide some idea of the complexity involved.

‘If you could imagine correctly predicting the outcome of every person on Earth tossing a coin 1000 times, you’d still be nowhere near the degree of complexity required to forecast seasons,’ the crown research institute says in a recent article.

Mind blowing indeed. Predicting seasons used to be a case of “Summer, Autumn, Winter, Spring.”

But seriously… on the one hand predicting the outcome of seven trillion coin tosses is a snap — at least to the first 7 or 8 significant figures. It’s much easier than predicting one toss.  On the other, if we assume they are talking about trying to predict the exact outcome of every single toss the odds are more like 0.0… (lots of zero’s)…014 or something so infinitesimally ridiculously small it’s synonymous with “impossible”.

How good is their grasp of statistics in the Met office? About as good as their grip on logic and reasoning.

Having told us it’s statistically completely impossible, in the next breath:

Despite those odds, each month Niwa staff do have a go at producing a three-month outlook.

Righto. So it’s impossible but we do it anyway? It’s a bit like changing the weather with windmills and solar panels — “impossible” but “worth spending billions”. Watch the socialist forecaster at work. What’s the cost benefit? (NIWA: The cost is yours, and the benefit is mine….)

Am I too cruel? I’m sure they are doing their best.

For an impossible job, the stats get spooky:

How accurate are the Niwa seasonal forecasts?

Mullan reckons Niwa gets long range rainfall forecasts right about 40 per cent of the time, and long range temperature right about half the time. In comparison, if predictions were made randomly, they would be right about a third of the time, given the three choices – below average, average, and above average.

With odds of 1 in a quadrillion bezillion, these guys manage a good 7% better than random luck? What’s that — Psychic?

Maybe they are the Nostradamet-Bureau, but whatever they are doing, it ain’t science.

What are the odds that there was no one in this whole chain of communication — Bureau, PR department and newspaper — that couldn’t see how self-evidently hypocritically silly this article was?

h/t to Johnr

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### 71 comments to NIWA’s psychic ability to predict something they say is statistically impossible

• #
Sceptical Sam

What are the odds that there was no one in this whole chain of communication — Bureau, PR department and newspaper — that couldn’t see how self-evidently hypocritically silly this article was?

Yep. I’ve got those odds for you Jo:

London to a brick on.

I’ll take 10% as a commission, OK?

• #
PeterPetrum

It’s 10:50 at night in the Blue Mountains and I have just come home from running a Trivia night at the Golf Club across the road. Is this a Trivia question? What is the chance of a quadrillion coin tosses coming down 50/50 heads or tails – 20%, 50%, 100%. Next question. What is the chance of the BoM getting the three months forecast correct – 0%, 50% , 100%. Glad I am not running that session.

• #
Rereke Whakaaro

The chances of a quadrillion coin tosses coming down 50/50 heads or tails is very close to 100%. We cannot discount one or two coming to rest on their edge.

• #
Leigh

Autumn = usually mild to warm temperatures. Winter = cold to some what colder. Spring = cold mornings and a little milder days. Summer = In my neck of the woods (riverina)it’s warm to bloody hot.
Depending on the season with those thoughts in mind, your more often than not, not that far off the mark with your own crystal ball gazings.
I’m not one of the highly educated here but I can still look at a barometer and a synoptic chart and give a passable “palm reading” for the next few days.
Why with all the millions of dollars worth of resources at their fingertips how do they still get it so wrong?
Why us there so any of them to do exactly what?

• #

‘It’s tough making predictions, especially about the future.’
-Yogi Berra.

• #
Doubtingdave

The main problem with our national weather bureau’s forecasters , is that they start from the false premise that temperature rises in lockstep with the steady rise in CO2 , the best forecasters are our major bookies , they have to have some of the best statistics and maths heads that are available in order to set the value of the odds , they don’t get it right all the time but have to get it right most of the time or go bankrupt , they learnt that lesson when Piers Corbyn was taking their money backing against the Met office , so maybe the UK , Australian and New Zealand bureau’s would do better if they subbed out their forecasting to the book makers . PS some professional punters make a living by spotting those rare occasions when Book makers do get the value of the odds wrong , and although I’m not a professional I’m kicking myself for missing the value of backing Donald Trump , when at the beginning of his campaign you could have got 200\1 ! From British bookies that he would win the Republican nomination , now you would be lucky to get evens .

• #
ScotsmaninUtah

Am I too cruel? I’m sure they are doing their best.

Jo you are being way too polite !

Although I would say that NIWA’s attempts at predicting a 3 month weather forecast is a bit over zealous, especially considering 13 days is considered the limit for forecasting (with a high degree of confidence)
NIWA must be privy to devine information of sorts….

For those of us who plan weekend BBQs… 😀
3 months is an eternity 😮

• #
GAZ

Everyone, including NIWA, agree that predicting 3 month is near impossible. But hang on a minute… The really big issue is with those who predict 10, 50 and more years into the future. Anyone got the math on this courageous attempt?

• #
ScotsmaninUtah

As for predictions…

I was hoping to see something from GISS ?
G. Schmidt has been very quiet as of late.

• #
Ted O'Brien

Haven’t read the story yet, but an online headline in today’s Australian says: “Warming Pause is real”.

• #
BruceC

Could have something to do with this latest ‘the science is settled’ paper co-authored by Mann, Santer & England (to name a few) that admits there has been a ‘pause’ in global temps this century.

http://www.examiner.com/article/new-paper-shows-there-was-a-global-warming-hiatus-this-century

Just remember folks, it was only late last year that Mickey Mann was saying the ‘pause’ was a ‘faux pause’.

Settled Science at it’s best.

• #
Bob Malloy

Could it be as speculated by some over recent days that those whistle blowers inside N.A.S.A who spoke out about the haste to get Karl et al published put the “TEAM” under pressure to cover their rear ends.

• #

As weather bureaux have trouble in predicting a couple of months into the future with a reasonable degree of accuracy, then how is it climate scientists can give feasible predictions of sea level rises and global temperatures for the next century?

• #
Graeme No.3

Robert O:

Good question, so I checked my dictionary (Oxford Compact) and it gives 2 meanings to feasible.
Likely, probable or
Easily done.

So the answer is that climate scientists find it easy to make predictions of sea level rises and global temperatures for the next century. After all they won’t be around when they are proved wrong.

• #
Allen Ford

they won’t be around when they are proved wrong.

Except, of course, for Tim Flannery who makes the terminal error of predicting too close for comfort!

• #
Allen Ford

More Tim, and closer to home!

• #
Dan Pangburn

Perhaps they are using the wrong approach. Perhaps the many people trying to solve the problem have the wrong skill set. A mechanical engineer’s approach has identified the main climate change drivers and even quantified the tiny effect of CO2, all with better than 97% match to reported average global temperatures since before 1900. The analysis is at http://globalclimatedrivers.blogspot.com

• #

Those cheshire sun spots … Dan Pangburn blogspot…

Ref’Figure 9: Calculated temperature anomalies from the
sunspot number anomaly time-integral plus ocean oscillation
using Equation (1) with C and F set to zero. Measured
temperature anomalies from Figure 4, data set 3 and anomaly
range estimates determined by Loehle are superimposed.’

• #
sophocles

Perhaps they are using the wrong approach

But, but, but … they’ve got a “High Performance Computing Facility,” aka a Soopa Komputer for their analyses.
Yep. The Real McCoy, just like the UKMet Office’s one but not as expensive.
It works about the same as the UKMet Office’s one.

I guess that’s how they get those useless statistics and forecasts.

• #
Ted O'Brien

“‘If you could imagine correctly predicting the outcome of every person on Earth tossing a coin 1000 times, you’d still be nowhere near the degree of complexity required to forecast seasons”.

It’s a hopelessly lousy analogy, which condemns the whole education of the writer, not just his/her professional competence. At face value it is utter nonsense, so what is the message that it is trying to convey?

As I see it, I would say that this “news” of complexity was known and understood by my farmer grandfather 100+ years ago. And he wasn’t paid for it.

Surely every student of statistics is taught that statistics is not an exact science. But it never ceases to amaze how many ‘highly qualified” people clearly do not understand this. They show no comprehension whatever of compounding margins of error. Now as they belatedly discover the problem, they call it complexity, but cite an example that isn’t at all complex, save that it involves numbers higher than 10. This would be backward in a primary school.

• #
Roy Hogue

Accoding to NIWA (New Zealand’s Weather Alchemists), they have the most impossibly difficult job on the planet. (No! In the Galaxy.)

Decent short term (a week) forecasting is now a daily thing. You do have to remember that the weather doesn’t obey us, we obey it. But generally the weekly forecasts hold up well.

Seasonal forecasts are not so good yet. And may never be. But is that really grounds for: 1) complaint against NIWA; or 2) NIWA to make all sorts of excuses about how difficult their job is?

I think it’s no in both cases. It sounds childish to me and not worthwhile.

And yes, it does seem to be a hard job. But so are a lot of other careers one might choose. So what? It comes with the territory for both the public and the weather service.

• #
diogenese2

Roy;
“Decent short term (a week) forecasting is now a daily thing.”

The NIWA is extremely lucky in that the “extremes” are severely constraint by the buffer effect of the vast pacific ocean whereas the UK met office bears the constant warfare between the Lows rolling in of the Atlantic and the blocking highs over the continent, whatever the season. Our local forecast is updated every 2 hours and the 3 day prediction is at best +/- 12 hours though the position of the fronts can mean complete prediction failure.
The whole idea that the weather is deterministic at this level (and therefore all higher levels) is a complete absurdity.

“Seasonal forecasts are not so good yet. And may never be. But is that really grounds for: 1) complaint against NIWA; or 2) NIWA to make all sorts of excuses about how difficult their job is”
But there you have it – as long as they purport the ability to perform an impossible task then they stand to be called on their failure.

Robert Fitzroy (see link), to whom science owes an inestimable debt,
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_FitzRoy
set up the basics on meteorology, but the enormity of the challenge cost him his life.

I’m afraid the elevation from 3 day forecasters to millennial prophets was a step too far for the WMO, though I doubt if any will follow the path of Fitzroy when their nemesis arrives.

• #
Andrew McRae

as long as they purport the ability to perform an impossible task then they stand to be called on their failure.

This ↗

At least with climate prediction you only need to predict a 30-year average as a bare minimum, and all the storms and El Ninos just dissolve in the average. This 3-month malarkey must be muzzled.

If the MSUs, ground thermometers, radiosondes, and ARGO buoys all combined could assemble a snapshot of the world’s thermal state in less than an hour, a simulation starting from that state would diverge from reality within a few weeks due to initial measurement errors, omitted variables, unmodelled phenomena, and unpredictable external forces such as solar magnetic storms.

Quick review of the variability… The southern hemisphere gets approximately double the rain in Feb/Mar as it does in Aug/Sep, which is very clear in the average climatology but doesn’t tell farmer Joe which crop variety he should plant this season this year as February’s 97th percentile is over 3 times more rain than the climatological mean.

Piers Corbyn claims 85% accuracy in predicting extreme events up to 30 days in advance, but this is looking for places where an extreme event may occur, not giving weather forecasts for every place, and not 3 months in advance.

Due to the longer trends being constrained by ocean currents and the sun, I believe climate predictions of 10-year trends will be possible one day, but never 3 month outlooks. Weather is very much about how different the actuals are from the average. In the medium term it’s the differences from trend that have more economic impact, but that’s what we can’t simulate accurately.

• #
Roy Hogue

diogenese2,

I also get updated forecasts for the weekly weather. The closer to the day being forecast the more accurately they can see what’s going on that will affect that day. That happens even here where the vast Pacific ocean makes it somewhat easier to predict.

But I think overall we expect too much of our weather services. And it’s certainly partly their fault for not being upfront about the weather not being under their/our control but having its own mind and ignoring what we want or hope for.

You can place too much faith in reading the future, which is what they’r doing.

• #
Yonniestone

NIWA – Straight Outta Auckland.

• #
Rereke Whakaaro

I thought the Weather Divination part of NIWA were based in Wellington, with a custom-built building, overlooking the harbour, that is as far from reality as possible. But I may be wrong. They may be at the top of the Sky Tower in Auckland, with their heads in the clouds, and a casino down below.

• #
Rereke Whakaaro

That should have been in response to Yonniestone at #14 – I am having a bad morning.

• #
Rereke Whakaaro

The reply doesn’t seem to be working …?

• #
Yonniestone

Yeah Rereke I lost a reply to James Bradley, looking again at my quip I may have offended many Kiwis unintentionally, apologies to anyone that took it the wrong way, mods feel free to delete if deemed brilliant but offensive.

• #
sophocles

Yonniestone

NIWA: [snip] Association.
or National Inclement Weather Archive

They’re a bit of a tragic joke. An ex-NIWA scientist told us during the 2012 drought that “drought was the new norm …” We hadn’t had one for about ten years before then and we haven’t had one since. They’re more or less a decadal phenomenon. (Except for Marlborough where summer drought is the Old Norm. That’s why all the grape growers gathered there …).

I think you would have to work hard to offend us about NIWA … 🙂

• #
sophocles

Rereke:
NIWA is like the weather, they’re distributed across NZ. Their Auckland Office is down behind Microsoft House (what used to be Downtown House and home of the Downtown Service Station …. gods, that’s Years ago!) at Market Place, Viaduct Harbour.

• #
AZ1971

The problem is that prediction has been based on an assumption of correlation = causation. I still would have liked to become a meteorologist in San Diego because how hard is it to say “sunny, 72F with light breezes today” for about 350 days out of the year? Talk about a cushy job.

• #
handjive

Evaluating a 1981 temperature projection (realclimate, April 2012)

“At a time when the northern hemisphere was cooling and the global mean temperature still below the values of the early 1940s, they confidently predicted a rise in temperature due to increasing CO2 emissions.

They assume that no action will be taken before the global warming signal will be significant in the late 1990s, so the different energy-use scenarios only start diverging after that.”
~ ~ ~

Two failed predictions.

2. Was the global warming signal significant in the late 1990s?

Skeptical Science, 20 Dec, 2011, Foster and Rahmstorf Measure the Global Warming Signal

“Based on this average of all five adjusted data sets, the warming trend has not slowed significantly in recent years (0.163°C per decade from 1979 through 2010, 0.155°C per decade from 1998 through 2010, and 0.187°C per decade from 2000 through 2010). As Foster and Rahmstorf conclude,

“The resultant adjusted data show clearly, both visually and when subjected to statistical analysis, that the rate of global warming due to other factors (most likely these are exclusively anthropogenic) has been remarkably steady during the 32 years from 1979 through 2010.

There is no indication of any slowdown or acceleration of global warming, beyond the variability induced by these known natural factors.”

• #
TedM

‘If you could imagine correctly predicting the outcome of every person on Earth tossing a coin 1000 times, you’d still be nowhere near the degree of complexity required to forecast seasons,’ the crown research institute says in a recent article.”

I would suggest that such a massive sample would just about guarantee a 50% heads 50% tails result (it could predicted). Unless NZ’s coins are as unbalanced as Niwa’s psyche.

• #
Sceptical Sam

Unless NZ’s coins are as unbalanced as Niwa’s psyche.

Don’t forget, they use double headed pennies over there, along with one eyed refs.

• #
Manfred

With odds of 1 in a quadrillion bezillion, these guys manage a good 7% better than random luck? What’s that — Psychic?

No. It just means there are too many monkeys at play and they get tired, or perhaps the peanuts aren’t fresh enough?

After all, given that New Zealand’s temperatures since the 1850’s have not shown a statistically meaningful change in any direction (prior to the usual and scientifically inexplicable downward adjustment pre-1950, and upward adjustment post-1950), NIWA inevitably struggle from time to time to maintain the narrative, when the muse deserts them, and their imagination run dry.

So, given that NZ weather forecast is based on an expensive modeled virtual reality that creates an illusion of change where there is almost none, it must be exhausting, expensive and tricky to continually project forecasts independent of reality, to promote incipient climageddon without revealing the propaganda construct. An irony is that NZ, a long, mountainous and thin country, with huge variations in local weather, dispensed with the empirical and inconvenient truth of the large number of local reporting stations in preference to models in the 1990’s.

Most people in NZ intuitively know that while NIWA forecasts are statistically invalid they are amazingly reliably.

Assiduous researchers have since unearthed countless similar examples across the world, from the US and Russia to Australia and New Zealand. In Australia, an 80-year cooling of 1 degree per century was turned into a warming trend of 2.3 degrees. In New Zealand, there was a major academic row when “unadjusted” data showing no trend between 1850 and 1998 was shown to have been “adjusted” to give a warming trend of 0.9 degrees per century. This falsified new version was naturally cited in an IPCC report (see “New Zealand NIWA temperature train wreck” on the Watts Up With That science blog, WUWT, which has played a leading role in exposing such fiddling of the figures).

Climategate, the sequel: How we are STILL being tricked with flawed data on global warming

• #
Ross

The interesting thing about the article are the comments. “Stuff” is the online newspaper for Fairfax in NZ. Most of those commenting on articles usually reflect the Fairfax readership –left, extremely far left and very anti Government esp. our PM ( similar to what Tony Abbott received in Australia).
But on this article we see many comments reflecting a sceptical or anti AGW stance with couple of brave defenders of the faith.

• #
JohnR

Ross, the Stuff NZ news site sometimes does and sometimes doesn’t allow comments on climate stories. When I first started commenting on climate at “Stuff” some of the discussions were quite heated. Now there appears to be a trend towards sceptical views in comments and some ardent defenders of the faith seem to have simply disappeared.

• #
Yonniestone

The NIWA like many other countries national weather bureaus that have fallen for the CAGW agenda will resort to Metaphysical red herrings when failing in a poor attempt to mask flawed methodology with confusing pseudo intellectual conjecture.

The sad part is the sheeple will embrace it as new conventional wisdom.

• #
RB

I think that I wrote a comment on an ABC blog once about the stupidity of saying that predicting climate was easier than predicting weather because the former follows a semi-empirical approach, or something along those lines. I pointed out that it should be easier to predicted the weather using an empirical approach eg On Friday, Darwin will have a maximum of 32° with a late change.

That night, the news forecast said that on Friday, Darwin would have cool day with only a maximum of 28. I didn’t check to see who got closest.

• #
el gordo

In October last year the punters plunged on a white UK Xmas and lost their money.

‘While some extreme forecasters are predicting the start of a mini ice age, most are in agreement that this winter is going to be incredibly cold and for this reason, we are the shortest price for snow on Christmas Day that October has ever seen,” said William Hill spokesman Joe Crilly.’

• #
Svend Ferdinandsen

If NIWA is smart, they put out so many predictions, that the history is lost in all the predictions. On top of that they should make it very hard or costly to find data on how the weather was, and especially impossible to find the old predictions.
I somehow feel that the national weather services put all their effort into predictons, and use less energy to record past weather and make it public available. They even pretend to predict the weather in 2050, when they can’t predict the weather 10 days ahead.
It is a general tendency, that most time is used on what might come, and no time is spent on what was and how it ended. We are slowly loosing the history in all the news. (We need to look forward!).

• #
Manfred

This is an excellent point Svend. The prophets should be required to post hoc state their predictions, allowing all to evaluate their accuracy. They should also return to widespread empirical observation.

The absolute classic was the great gale of 1987, which thrashed the UK. The BBC weather office had been phoned by a member of the public saying there was a hurricane on the way. Michael Fish, the weatherman paid no attention in a classic clip. He fell on his sword not long after. It was a graphic exposure of educated idiocy in action.

• #
Manfred

It was the UK’s biggest storm in three centuries.

• #
Another Ian

One thing I like about WXMaps.

They put up their punts and you can check by looking out the window.

• #
Ross Stacey

The weather predictions on Foxtel are very clever. They have current, 10 day and rainfall forecasts for our area. Very rarely do these three have the same rainfall prediction. Most times one of these correctly predicts rain when it occurs so is that 33% correct?

• #
Another Ian

Elders seems to also have a bob each way

• #

Oh, poor, poor NIWA. Perhaps some 10,000 Maniacs would soothe them as they toil at their pointless task.

• #
A C

I’m sure others have noted this too – (sorry I dont have the time to read all the other comments) but For rainfall, if they are right 40% of the time – they are wrong 60% of the time which is worst than simply tossing a coin.
I remember BOM here doing a similar thing – On the news one night they gave a prediction that there was a 50% chance of above average rainfall for some season or another. 50% chance of above average – 50% chance below average. Is’nt that just the same as saying “I haven’t got a clue, but give me the money anyway”.

• #
TdeF

Who needs statistics? The world has enough of a problem with just one variable, global temperature.

Another article in the Australian today by Graham Lloyd, environment editor that there is a growing ‘new consensus’ that there is no hiatus or pause at all, just an inconvenient lack of adequate growth in temperature, that the growth in temperature is continuing at a lower rate for reasons which involve a lot of waffling about needing to fix otherwise correct models.

What a relief! This gives everyone a reason to keep going, including any number of environment editors, council staff, university researchers and even the few hundred odd CSIRO researchers who are now working on fixing climate changes which have already occurred in Australia. I would love a list of what the serious climate changes in Australia were and how they could tell the clear difference between such changes and ‘natural variation’. It may be costing us a fortune, but we will all sleep easier knowing hundreds of world class CSIRO scientists are working on fixing the problem.

• #
pat

u don’t need to be a “climate scientist” or from NIWA to have seen this coming:

25 Feb: Guardian: Terry Macalister: Britain heading for power cuts next winter, say 60 local authorities
All-party alliance says National Grid needs to act now to fill supply gap, and wants ministers to look at level of carbon taxes
A group representing 60 local authorities has warned that recent closures of large power stations have left Britain heading for power cuts next winter, despite assurances to the contrary from the government.
The Industrial Communities Alliance (ICA), an all-party association of councils from across Britain, said National Grid needed to act immediately to fill the supply gap by sending out new contracts for at least 2,500 megawatts (MW) of additional generating capacity – enough to power 2.5m homes.
The alliance wants ministers to reconsider the level of carbon taxes, saying this is one of the key reasons why so many coal-fired power stations are being shut down early…
“The problem – and it is a problem for every electricity consumer in the country – is that if all these closures go ahead, there won’t be enough generating capacity to keep the lights on next winter,” said the ICA in a briefing document entitled Lights Out!…
In recent years, coal, nuclear and gas-fired plants have been shut because of low prices, high operating costs or old age. Windfarms have been erected and new nuclear facilities promised but energy companies say gas plants cannot be built without higher subsidies…

Guardian – the greatest cheer-leader for the scenario now unfolding – downplayed the report’s criticism of CAGW policies naturally. MSM needs to be held accountable, along with the politicians:

PDF: 4 pages: Industrial Communities Alliance (ICA): Electricity Briefing 2: LIGHTS OUT!
HOW POWER STATION CLOSURES ARE SET TO PLUNGE BRITAIN INTO DARKNESS NEXT WINTER
Why all the closures?…
All five closures are being proposed because the economics of running coal-fired power stations no longer stack up. Carbon taxes make coal-fired generation more expensive than gas-fired generation and, under present market arrangements, it’s simply not worthwhile for the operators keep the plants open to run them at times of peak demand…
Who’s to blame for this mess?
The modern electricity industry in the UK spreads responsibility widely. The major players are the Department for Energy and Climate Change, National Grid, OFGEM and the power companies.
But if there is no doubt that in imposing well-meaning carbon taxes, the Treasury has made things far worse by making the continued operation of coal-fired power stations so uneconomic…

• #
tom0mason

So Pat, that obviously requires the only politically astute thing to do, and build many more windmills in time for Christmas next year.

😕

• #
el gordo

When this El Nino finally comes to an end around May then we can expect ‘the most rapid global cooling trend for two centuries…’ says Kevin Long (The Long View).

Its a moon and star thing, place your bets ladies and gentlemen.

• #
pat

25 Feb: Detroit News: AP: Wind turbine partially falls down in Thumb; no injuries
Oliver Township — A nearly 400-foot wind turbine has partially collapsed in a field in the Thumb.
The turbine, part of Exelon Wind Generation’s 32-turbine Harvest Wind Farm, fell about 5:20 a.m. Thursday, Oliver Township Supervisor Larry Krohn told the Huron Daily Tribune in Bad Axe…
The National Weather Service reported wind gusts up to 45 mph in the area.
“That section of the wind park will be shut down until company officials can determine that the structural failure is isolated and it’s safe to return other turbines back into service,” Huron County Sheriff Kelly Hanson said…
The toppled part of the turbine included the blades, WLEW-AM reported…
Last week, a 160-foot, 7-ton turbine blade broke nearby, according to the Daily Tribune. That damaged blade is on a DTE Energy turbine in Sigel Township.
http://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/local/michigan/2016/02/25/part-wind-turbine-falls/80938832/

25 Feb: UK Independent: Mark Leftly: Amber Rudd may go nuclear but EDF will take its time on Hinkley Point C
This week, Mr (Jean-Bernard) Levy vowed that his board will make a final investment decision on whether to build and run the long-planned Hinkley Point C by the end of the year. At £24.5bn this nuclear power plant in Somerset, which is supposed to herald a new generation of reactors, is a huge commitment – even for a state-backed behemoth like EDF.
But the board was supposed to give us a final decision last month on whether it was willing to risk so much of its balance sheet across the English Channel. In fact, Hinkley Point has been delayed a number of times and was originally supposed to be generating electricity by next year – the concrete is unlikely to start pouring for another three years yet…
Amber Rudd: “I hope they get on with it very soon, but the manner of huge deals means there are always additional things that people want to sign off. They [EDF] are keen to get a final commitment – and we are waiting that enthusiastically.”
The Cabinet minister laughed heartily on using the word “enthusiastically”. More forcefully, Ms Rudd said she “fully expects EDF to go forward” and make that commitment “very shortly”…
I mentioned she was lucky not to have been energy secretary when EDF and the Government were negotiating the strike price (that dubious honour fell to her Liberal Democrat predecessor, Ed Davey), which is the minimum sum the state will guarantee to pay for electricity generated at Hinkley. She snapped back: “Oh, you’ve got something to say about that have you?”
Er… I was only going to say that it was a difficult concept to explain to readers and, rather undermined by this column, I hoped not to have to write about it again any time soon.
Anyway I get the impression that when Ms Rudd says, “I certainly hope” EDF will make a decision soon, she means: “Jolly well get on with it, Jean-Bernard”…

• #
pat

26 Feb: ABC: Frances Adcock: Solar panel fires sparked by faulty imported isolators spark warning to home owners
Master Electricians says there has been a statewide increase in fires starting in solar panels due to faulty imported parts.
It said faulty wiring in several types of isolators that were still being sold and used, but had since been recalled, had led to a series of fires.
Authorities are investigating whether a faulty isolator was to blame for a house fire at Urangan, in Hervey Bay, this week…
Master Electricians’ CEO Malcolm Richards said about 29,000 faulty isolators had been installed since 2010 which would need to be replaced.
“Which is a very high percentage against the solar panels that have been installed, so we are urging people to check to make sure if they don’t have one of these isolators installed and they can get some corrective action in place so they can ensure their own safety,” he said…
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-02-26/solar-panel-isolator-fires-spark-warning-to-homeowners/7203388

links to the following naming the brands, but why not name them in the above? both articles appear to be minor Qld news reports:

May 2014: ABC: Faulty solar panels: Queensland recall over part linked to 40 fires
The Queensland Government has announced a recall of a faulty solar panel part which has sparked about 40 fires.
The Government’s Electrical Safety Office has banned the sale or installation of Avanco and PV Power-branded DC isolators…

• #
pat

where’s the outrage?

26 Feb: TimesOfIndia: 8-year-old leopard electrocuted
COIMBATORE: An eight-year-old leopard was electrocuted by a transformer at a windmill farm near Dharapuram during the wee hours of Thursday.
The male leopard that belonged to the Anamalai Tiger Reserve had landed at the Suzlon Wind Farms in Idayankinar, a village 16km from Dharapuram.
According to the range officer of Kangeyam, Mariappan P, “The leopard had climbed the transformer and got electrocuted and fell on the ground. The big cat died on the spot. The transformer defused around 5.30am…
A veterinary doctor from Coimbatore conducted the postmortem, the range officer said.
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/coimbatore/8-year-old-leopard-electrocuted/articleshow/51149244.cms

26 Feb: BBC: Justin Rowlatt: Is the US undermining India’s solar power programme?
Whatever happened to all the talk of international co-operation to tackle climate change that we heard during the climate conference in Paris just a few months ago?
That is what many environmentalists are asking after the United States delivered a damaging blow to India’s ambitious solar power programme this week…
“The ink is barely dry on the UN Paris Climate Agreement, but clearly trade still trumps real action on climate change,” Sam Cossar-Gilbert of Friends of the Earth International said in a statement.
But is the decision really as damaging as many commentators seem to think?
Let’s start at the beginning…
One of the biggest achievements at the Paris climate change conference was drawing India into the architecture of international climate agreements…
India said it would add 100 GW of solar capacity by 2022.
That’s more than the current solar capacity of the world’s top five solar-producing countries combined.
And – you guessed it – the National Solar Mission was the centrepiece of the whole shebang…
But while the US was carefully reeling India into the climate talks it had simultaneously lodged a complaint with the WTO, arguing that India’s solar programme created unfair barriers to the import of US-made solar panels…
And no doubt India will be tempted to point to the hypocrisy in US trade policy.
While the US argues for unfettered free markets in international forums like the WTO, it doesn’t practice what it preaches at home.
Half of all US states have subsidies for renewables.
Perhaps India should file a counter-complaint with the WTO against the US.
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-35668342

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pat

26 Feb: Harvard Gazette: Clean Power Plan’s legal future ‘a mess’
Law School’s (Richard) Lazarus looks at Obama emissions plan in post-Scalia court
By Alvin Powell
GAZETTE: Does the Feb. 13 death of Justice Scalia affect the status of the stay, which passed 5 to 4, and how does his passing affect the legal prospects for the plan going forward?
LAZARUS: No, the stay’s status remains the same. Any final decision of the Supreme Court that Justice Scalia joined before his death retains its full force of law. The Court’s stay of the Clean Power Plan was in fact the last order the justice voted on and his vote was decisive because there were five votes in favor and four votes opposed. Had the justice not voted, the stay would have been denied by a 4-to-4 vote…
GAZETTE: Are you yourself involved in the litigation before the D.C. Circuit?
LAZARUS: Yes, both as a teacher and as a lawyer. In my advanced environmental law class this spring, the students in the class are spending four intensive weeks undertaking an in-depth study of the Clean Power Plan, which necessarily includes identifying the legal vulnerabilities as well as the strengths of the plan. In addition, I am also counsel of record filing what is called an amicus, or friend-of-the court brief. I have two terrific clients who are both HLS alums and former Republican administrators of EPA: William Ruckelshaus and William Reilly. Ruckelshaus was EPA’s first administrator, appointed by President Richard Nixon. Ruckelshaus and Reilly have enormous stature in environmental law, celebrated for their integrity, and both support the president’s Clean Power Plan…READ ON
http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2016/02/clean-power-plans-legal-future-a-mess/

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pat

26 Feb: Columbia Spectator: Overlooked law could be powerful tool to fight climate change, scholars say
by Dan Garisto, Spectator Senior Staff Writer
The Sabin Center for Climate Change Law published an article last month that details how Section 115 of the Clean Air Act can be used to compel the United States to cut emissions—without going through Congress.
When the article was released, Obama’s plan to reduce greenhouse emissions by 25 percent, the Clean Power Plan, was still going forward, albeit under intense legal scrutiny. But earlier this month, the Supreme Court issued an unprecedented stay to prevent the plan from moving forward.
“I thought it was the most environmentally destructive thing the Supreme Court has done in very many years,” Michael Gerrard, a professor of environmental law and co-author of the article, said. “It was shutting down the most important effort that the U.S. was undertaking to deal with the world’s most pressing environmental problem.”
The drama surrounding the Clean Power Plan’s judicial struggles increased, as only days later, conservative Justice Antonin Scalia died…
However, according to Gerrard, using Section 115 of the Clean Air Act would allow Obama or the next president to bypass both the congressional and judicial gauntlet…(DETAILS)
However, the scholars’ analysis, while promising, holds little potential for immediate change. Enacting regulations based on Section 115 would take a great deal of planning that Gerrard said was unlikely to happen due to the Obama administration’s investment in the Clean Power Plan…READ ALL
http://columbiaspectator.com/news/2016/02/26/overlooked-law-could-be-powerful-tool-fight-climate-change-scholars-say

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pat

26 Feb: Seattle Times: Jim Brunner: State withdraws Inslee’s proposed carbon-emissions rule
A proposal to limit industrial carbon emissions in Washington is on hold, with the rule sought by Gov. Jay Inslee to be rewritten and proposed again in the spring.
The state Department of Ecology has withdrawn a proposed clean-air rule capping carbon emissions in Washington state.
The carbon regulation, touted by Gov. Jay Inslee as a major action on climate change, would have required large industries to reduce carbon emissions by 5 percent every three years.
The rule would have initially applied to 23 of the largest carbon emitters in the state, eventually expanding to include about six dozen entities, including oil refineries, power plants, and manufacturers such as Boeing.
But that’s on hold for now. In a news release Friday, Ecology said it was withdrawing the proposal after receiving feedback and criticism on the proposed rule from affected industries and other stakeholders…
Some business groups had opposed the carbon cap, arguing it would threaten high-paying manufacturing jobs…
Jaime Smith, an Inslee spokeswoman, said the governor supports the pause. “He’d rather see the rule done right than done quickly,” she said…
http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/politics/state-withdraws-inslees-carbon-limit/

CBC pushes the “carbon” angle in the headline and in the interview. Wynne doesn’t sound keen:

26 Feb: CBC: Ontario budget 2016: Kathleen Wynne tries to find carbon pricing ‘sweet spot’
‘I think that as they look at our plan, they will see that it’s credible,’ premier says
CBC Radio Metro Morning guest host Helen Mann spoke with the premier following Sousa’s budget speech about the provincial debt, changing costs for seniors, the Hydro One sale and what the premier would fund if there were more money in the budget…
CBC’S HELEN MANN: Critics are saying that you haven’t priced carbon high enough to make a significant difference. What do you think about that?
KATHLEEN WYNNE: We’re trying to find that sweet spot because there is another chorus of voices who say we shouldn’t be doing this at all, it’s hard on businesses. We know we have to tackle climate change, there is no doubt about that … we’re bringing in a system that’s consistent with what’s happening in Quebec, California, Manitoba…

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pat

in theory!

26 Feb: Nature: Daniel Cressey: Confusion reigns as UK scientists face government ‘gagging’ clause
No clarity on whether anti-lobbying rule will apply to university funding and science grants
UK scientists may be prevented from arguing for changes in national legislation or policy — if research grants are not exempted from a government ban on the use of public funds for political lobbying.
But days after scientists raised the alarm about the government’s anti-lobbying move, the situation is mired in confusion. The UK government Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), which is responsible for most of the public cash that is channelled to British researchers and universities, could not confirm to Nature whether the lobbying ban — which will apply to government grants from May — will affect science funding. Major UK research funders say that they do not know whether they will have to implement the rule.
On 6 February, the government announced that any groups in receipt of public money will be banned from using those funds to attempt to influence either the government or Parliament. A clause inserted into all government grants starting in May will state that they cannot be used for “activity intended to influence or attempt to influence Parliament, government or political parties … or attempting to influence legislative or regulatory action”.
***In theory, this could mean that scientists at UK universities are not allowed to tell ministers what the policy implications of their work are, or respond to consultations that touch on their area of interest — potentially removing their ability to comment on everything from climate change to medical regulation…
Accidental crackdown?
“It’s clear this has simply come about by accident,” says Bob Ward, policy and communications director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment in London…
But unless an exception is given to researchers, Ward adds, they will face having to use their own funds to do anything that could be considered lobbying or influencing policy…
http://www.nature.com/news/confusion-reigns-as-uk-scientists-face-government-gagging-clause-1.19454

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Ian Cooper

It is very interesting to me that NIWA should make such a statement when just ten days ago they made an opposite claim in our local newspaper the Manawatu Standard (2016.02.17). The paper reported on a presentation by NIWA at a Regional Council gathering, highlighting how climate change was going to result in increased temperatures and rain over our part of New Zealand. Here are some paragraphs of interest from that article.

Niwa offered a glimpse into the day after tomorrow with future weather forecasts as a result of climate change.
The environmental science institute made a presentation to the Horizons Regional Council on Tuesday, where they presented data compiled in their second-ever 30-year climate record for the region.
Climate scientist Petra Pearce’s presentation stated that carbon dioxide levels had increased 40 per cent since pre industrial times, with human influence extremely likely to be the main cause.
Horowhenua councillor Lindsay Burnell questioned how accurate the modelling was. “Met Service have trouble forecasting a week ahead.”
Pearce responded that weather was day-to-day and climate was over a longer time scale. “Generally it is a bit easier to forecast climate.”

Ten days ago it was a “bit easier,” and now it is unbelievably tough! Yeah right.

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Thanks – thought as much – I was trying to think of an appropriate post script to explain it, but this prevents me from looking like a dick though.

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pat

26 Feb: Buffalo News: Officials point fingers as state vows to disburse SolarCity funds early next week
Lack of payments led to layoffs Friday
By Jonathan D. Epstein
State officials promised late Friday that tens of millions of dollars will start flowing first thing next week to financially strapped contractors on the SolarCity construction project, saving the jobs of 200 workers laid off earlier in the day because the state had fallen months behind in payments.
The opening of the spigot marked a dramatic breakthrough, hours after money woes threatened to stall one of the signature pieces of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion initiative. The state is spending \$750 million to build the largest solar-panel manufacturing facility in North America, creating as many as 3,000 new jobs after it opens in the third quarter of 2017…
The announcement by Empire State Development Corp. and the State University of New York Polytechnic Institute followed a tense day at the RiverBend site in South Buffalo, as workers were issued pink slips because their employers could no longer afford to pay them…
Officials hope to get the first part of the money as early as possible on Monday, and then pass it through to the other firms, some of whom are desperate to pay their own bills and payroll, Schuler said. The rest of the money should follow during the week…
Meanwhile, state officials still seemed at a loss to explain how the government had failed in the first place to pay more than \$82.5 million in contractor invoices on a Buffalo Billion project. The shortfall since October left the state at least three months behind in its debts, even though a Western New Yorker – developer Howard Zemsky – heads the economic development agency that is responsible for the governor’s initiative.
Cuomo and his staff had remained largely silent and invisible Friday, even as the major billing problem led to plumbers, steamfitters, carpenters and other unionized workers being laid off, at least temporarily…READ ALL

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Asmilwho

It’s just one small step from telling us how difficult their job is, to demanding people give them more money to do it.

Because they’re worth it.

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“If you could imagine correctly predicting the outcome of every person on Earth tossing a coin 1000 times, you’d still be nowhere near the degree of complexity required to forecast seasons,’ the crown research institute says in a recent article.”

Hardly news for those of us who step outside from time to time. The great majority of people have long known that climate is fantastically complex. The notion that it is somehow predictable – and even controllable by regulation or taxation – is pretty new. Of course, it’s not entirely new: you had to pay a sort of tax or temple offering to keep the Nile priests muttering.

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LEE CHRISTAL

NIWA should have quoted the famous American scientist, Yogi Berra:
“It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”

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John F. Hultquist

Jo,
Paul Homewood has a a “ship of fools” — not quite — post up.

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tom0mason

Research now shows that casting of runes, and throwing of chicken (both organic and free-range) entrails predicts the weather with a 97% confidence factor.
The statistical analysis showed very small p-values for short*, medium*, and long* range forecasting were excellent showing a very high degree of correlation.

Commenting on the method, star statistician Bill Briggs said “How correlations are made from that mess is quite literally remarkable!”

*Please note that small, medium, and long are statistical terms that are dependent upon the rune’s statistical significance, given the arbitrary setting assigned for alpha and the corrections for multiple chicken entrails comparisons.

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Sean McHugh

they would be right about a third of the time, given the three choices – below average, average, and above average.

That would depend on the size of the window to be called ‘average’. As it is made smaller, the chances of below average and above average temperatures, approach 50% each.