Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Who The Heck Is Piers Corbyn, Or: Why Has The Denialist Movement Turned On One Of Its Own?

Piers Corbyn, according to his Wikipedia entry, is a a maverick British weather forecaster[2]. He runs WeatherAction, a company which makes weather forecasts up to year in advance, and publishes/sells these forecasts though his website. In fact, he has a

...wide range of weather sensitive customers, including gas and electricity companies, farmers and retailers.[6] - for example, PolyGram staggered their release dates and promotional tours for the motion picture Bean around Corbyn's predictions

While Corbyn's forecasts often resemble a horoscope--they are, that is, vague enough to be unverifiable--recently Piers has been making some fairly precise predictions that have clearly been proven wrong by actual weather events. As Corbyn himself writes:

Forecast errors in Jan and mid Feb and advances in the Solar Weather Technique which are coping with the present hypersensitivity on Sun-Earth weather links (a situation we reported at the Oct 16th 07 WeatherAction Press event).

Now, note the reference here to the "Solar Weather Technique". Piers is a hard core AGW Denier, and puts it all down to those ubiquitous "solar cycles", knowledge of which his "technique" (the methodology is a closely guarded secret) employs in crafting WeatherAction forecasts.

Corbyn's apparent successes have been oft-touted within the Denialist community, where they have been taken as evidence that the "solar cycles" explanation of recent global temperature changes has empirical support and predictive power.

However, as his recent forecasts have failed, so too has his reputation taken a hit within that community, the whole sad process currently playing out in discussions at the Climate Skeptic Cafe.

The grouching kicked off with the arrival of Corbyn's March forecast a few days ago, and this gusty blast from Hans Erren:

Piers missed today's severe gale. Combined with the absence of a forecast cold winter in holland I think there is not much confidence left....

This opinion was 2nded by Arthur Rorsch:

My problem is, however, that Piers forecasts, which where not sufficient accurate, has been used against me in the national (Dutch) debate on climate change. I did never refer to Piers. But it was assumed that I support his view, (as a sceptic) which weakened my own case, because the Piers forecasts where seriously questioned and he has not as yet been prepared to show the basis for his forecasts.

Of course, Corbyn still has a few supporters. Sweet Kristen, the Tiniest Denier, has leapt to his defense:

I recall Magnus explaining that the sun is not behaving as Piers expected and thus inaccuracies in his forecasts. I also recall that Piers gives degrees of accuracy. His forecasts all come with a probability of being correct. But when the sun does behave as he expects his forecasts are accurate.

Nice girl, but she oughtta be out rebelling someplace.

In any event, the upshot of all this is that, for the time-being, Corbyn has stopped publishing his forecasts. I do have a copy of the March version, however, and if anyone wants one, they can drop me an email.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

so all that Global Warming is giving you a brain freeze eh ?

enjoy the next 20cm of global warming due in Toronto in a few days.

Mark Francis said...

You see, the Anonymous Coward (AW) actually thinks that you get more snow when it's a colder winter.

It doesn't work that way, AW. Warm air moving over water sources picks up more moisture than cold air, resulting in more precipitation.

When that warm air hits a mass of cold air the warmer air cools, releasing its moisture, making snow. Here in Toronto, we can that the "lake effect."

Anyway, Global Warming is about climatic change, and does not mean that all locales will get warmer.

Ti-Guy said...

Anonymous doesn't think anything. He's just a terrorist throwing stupid bombs into the public square.

We need to round these people up and deport them to Chicago where they will be water-boarded to extract useful information in order to foil the next attack on rationalism.

I think they've got gravity in their sights.

Dante said...

Never heard of him..

BTW Mark...are you clued out of the fact that at the least, North American temps are down this year and at most, global temps are? What relevance does your statement then have?

bigcitylib said...

Haven't heard of him, Dante, but probably quoted him without knowing it or understanding what you were saying.

Ti-Guy said...

What relevance does your statement then have?

Its relevance is in challenging stupid anonymous's ridiculous propaganda to imply that colder temperatures produce more precipitation. It's an ignorance of basic science I learned in grade 6 that *you*, unsurprisingly, are indifferent to.

The jury's not in on what this year's weather means, so unless you have some scientific hypotheses (based on climate science) and data we can all look at, I think we can conclude (based on your other comments) that you really don't have much to add here. Which is forgivable...math and computer sciences people quite often think they're geniuses at science, even though most of them have never actually done any research., or confuse their "thought experiments" in the symbolic world of economics and computer programming to with real experiments.

Dante said...

Funny thing about you wannabe "science guys" Ti-Guy. You sing the praises of global warming mitigation and how we should pump money into research yet when the Alberta Oil patch looks to develop carbon sequestration technology, you lament the fact that it is unproven and how we shouldn't attempt to do anything that isn't already developed. So much for being a leader in green technology development. Anything short of halting the economy will fall short of your aims.

Ti-Guy said...

Funny thing about you wannabe "science guys" Ti-Guy.

I'm not a wannabe "science guy." I do actual scientific research...just not in environmental sciences.

You sing the praises of global warming mitigation and how we should pump money into research yet when the Alberta Oil patch looks to develop carbon sequestration technology, you lament the fact that it is unproven and how we shouldn't attempt to do anything that isn't already developed.

I have never asserted anything about global warming nor I have ever asserted anything about ways to combat it. I've simply been fascinated/horrified by the denial machine and am convinced that greater technological complexity (which is not the same thing as technological sophistication) is simply a ruse to keep people investing (and divert public funds to industry...don't forget that) and to lull the rubes into thinking that real action is being taken.

So much for being a leader in green technology development. Anything short of halting the economy will fall short of your aims.

Not at all. I'm not an anti-capitalist nor a tree-hugging environmentalist. I just think smarter people have the responsibility to put their self-interest aside, be more critical and not let ridiculous propaganda go unchallenged.

I do believe (and have for a long time) that environmental sustainability is a much better guiding principle for modern capitalism than consumer self-interest, which has in fact reached a dead end.