Meeting people

I was away all of last week on a mini UK-research tour. I had some work to do with people in Leicester, including with somone who has just finished doing a PhD with me and who has a couple of really interesting projects that we’re trying to finish (if they read this, I promise I’ll send that info tomorrow 🙂 ). After a few days in Leicester, I headed down to Exeter as I also had some work to do with someone there (we got an amazing amount done in a couple of days) and I also gave a seminar to their Astronomy group.

I also got a chance to visit the UK Met Office, which is based in Exeter. Mark McCarthy, who is science manager of the National Climate Information Centre, invited me to visit for a bit of a tour. It was very interesting; I’d just finished reading This Thing of Darkness, a novel about Charles Darwin and Robert Fitzroy, the captain of the Beagle. Apart from the author thinking highly of Piers Corbyn, it’s really excellent. The Met Office started as a department under Robert Fitzroy, and he spent a lot of his own money on barometers, that he designed and distributed. They had an example of one of his barometers in the library.

I also got a chance to have a chat with John Kennedy, who maintains the sea surface temperature record, and Tyrone Dunbar, who had spent time seconded to the Department of Energy and Climate Change. I didn’t get a chance to meet Richard Betts, as he was busy rocking Glastonbury 😉 . We mostly chatted about climate communication. I’m not sure that we came to any strong conclusions; I think it’s very difficult and I don’t have any great insights. Do your best; be honest; try to be nice (I don’t always succeed, but I’m trying to do better); it’s probably more difficult than you can imagine; it’s important; maybe we should endeavour to be supportive of those who do so. Anything else?

One issue with blogging and tweeting, is that you’re somewhat isolated; you don’t always get a sense of how it’s being received and it’s sometimes hard to interpret tone from what others say online. It’s therefore nice to actually meet people and have a chance to have a proper conversation. In the context of my blogging, I’ve only done it a few times, but it’s always been pleasant, I’ve always learned something, and it’s always helped to clarify things. Of course, there may be some for whom this would not be the case.

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18 Responses to Meeting people

  1. I live very close to Exeter and Am a frequent visitor to the met office library and the archives close by in order to carry out research. They have documents there on parchment dating back to the 13th century akthough most are unrelated to climate.

    I have aso met mark, Richard and the great David Parker who compiled cet to 1772

    The met office people are exceptionally nice and very helpful with their time. I have also been in frequent correspondence with the much maligned Phil jones who has been extremely helpful with a project I am working on that relates to work carried out by Hubert Lamb who was of course his mentor at uEA

    It is a shame there is the belligerence by sceptics towards climate scientists in general. The claims that such people are carrying out large scale fraud on temperatures data is also ludicrous if they have the evidence they need to produce a peer reviewed paper.


  2. Tony,

    It is a shame there is the belligerence by sceptics towards climate scientists in general. The claims that such people are carrying out large scale fraud on temperatures data is also ludicrous if they have the evidence they need to produce a peer reviewed paper.

    Indeed, it is a shame and suggestions of large-scale fraud are indeed ludicrous.

  3. I was fortunate to have worked with Prof. jones on a couple of projects, and always found him to be very helpful and an “all round good egg” in every respect. But then again, I do work at UEA and have a paper with the word “trick” in the title ;o)

  4. When I was at the Met Office, they kept referring to the UEA as “Crewe” and it took me a while to work out that they meant “CRU – Climatic Research Unit” not the city (which is nowhere near the UEA).

  5. Ed Davies says:

    *Climatic* (not Climate) Research Unit, bizarrely.

    Makes me think there should also be an ARU (Anticlimatic Research Unit), probably in Crewe. 😉

  6. Dikranmarsupial

    I belong to the historical group of the royal meteorological society.

    A year or two ago they had a Visit to CRU where Phil jones gave a Talk on Hubert lamb and showed some of his archives.

    I live in the west country so it would have been a huge journey for a half day event. However I do regret not going as Phil jones is obviously a considerable expert on historical temperatures, my own area of interest. As I say he has gone to considerable lengths to help with my project on the uk’s historic wind directions


  7. russellseitz says:

    The latest trick is reversing the order of solar irradiance changes, from down to up : “reconstructions are shown to the same scale, but absolute values of the Y-axes have been varied to fit.” WUWT has run up the down escalator to see if it waves:

  8. JCH says:

    This month a college freshman football player became ill at a morning practice session, at 9 am, and passed away at a hospital around 2 hours later. Mean temp: ~25.6 ℃; Average humidity: 68.

    Cause of death: hyperthermia.

  9. dave s says:

    Glad you enjoyed “This Thing Of Darkness”, by Harry Thompson, apparently a rattling good yarn, must try looking for it in the library.

    However, rather distorted, at least regarding Darwin. For example, it seems to show FitzRoy on the Beagle, arguing for a fairly literal belief in Genesis and the flood..

    FitzRoy had by then given Darwin the first volume of Lyell’s “Principles of Geology” promoting ideas of deep time, and in FitzRoy’s diary (as read to the Royal Geographical Society in 1937), he commented “How vast, and of what immense duration, must have been the action of those waters which smoothed the shingle-stones now buried in the deserts of Patagonia!”

    After that, FitzRoy married a Christian fundamentalist, and in 1839 recanted his earlier views.
    It was only after the voyage that he’d have had that dispute with Darwin.

    Thompson’s book also seems to have misrepresented points about slavery and genocide;
    Seemingly no more credible about history than Michael Crichton on climate change..

  10. Dave,
    Thanks, I had looked up some of what was presented, but I hadn’t checked it all.

    Seemingly no more credible about history than Michael Crichton on climate change..

    Quite possibly (his views about Piers Corbyn didn’t instill a huge amount of confidence) but I did check some basic things and they seemed broadly correct, and I did learn some things that I didn’t know before. However, it is a novel and as the Independent review suggests, some of the author’s biases are quite apparent.

  11. russellseitz says:

    ” Airport novel” writing is a competitive business, and at the turn of the century Crichton was going head-to-head with both Tom Clancy and the legal thrillers of John Gresham. As I was then under retainer as Clancy’s technical advisor for the book and movie , The Sum Of All Fears , his friend Crichton called me for a reality check on climate models. I directed him to what I had written a decade earlier in The National Interest, but he continued to follow Dick Lindzen’s lead in both his Cal Tech speechDo Aliens Cause Global Warming and his lawyerly but scientifically dubious fictionalization of climate change in State of Fear.

    Both died soon after, but I recall that when I mildlyprotested to Tom about non-scientists writing sciency best sellers, he replied : ” Black Beauty wasn’t written by a horse.”

  12. Vinny Burgoo says:

    It sounds like Thompson’s book covered the same ground as Nick Hazelwood’s non-fiction ‘Savage: The Life and Times of Jemmy Button’, which was a cracker.

    Though nothing could be quite as much of a cracker as Thompson’s ‘Monkey Dust’, the darkest of dark-humour TV. I have some of it on VHS and have been waiting and waiting for it to be rebroadcast but no. Not gonna happen. At first this was because of a writer-credit dispute. Now it’s… Just not. Too dark, perhaps.

    Here’s a short Monkey Dust extract about terrorists in Tipton:

  13. Vinny,
    Fascinating, I had never come across Monkey Dust before or – obviously – that it had been created by Harry Thompson.

  14. BBD says:

    Wouldn’t treat Wolf Hall as a history textbook either. TTOD is a decent novel, and thanks Vinny – never realised Monkey Dust was RT. LIve and learn.

  15. Vinny Burgoo says:

    I do hope I haven’t put you off your cake,

  16. dave s says:

    My comparison to Crichton was probably rather unfair to Thompson.

    From Russell’s comment, both may have followed the published views of others. What I could read online of Thomson suggests he used a lot of actual detail from the historical record, then reshaped it into something rather distorted but much more exciting. Not to be taken literally, though Republicans seem to have done that with Crichton’s fiction.

    Correction to myself; have found that FitzRoy married the devout Mary O’Brien in December 1836, straight after returning from the voyage, and his conversion to religious literalism took a year or two.

    As for Monkey Dust, a strange historical relic. Emblazoned with the BBC logo, which may embarrass them nowadays. Very droll.

  17. Pingback: Life, eh. What’s that all about then? | Diagram Monkey

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