The UK Independent asks: “Is catastrophic global warming, like the Millennium Bug, a mistake?”

I remember vividly the panic leading up to year 2000. People were racing to Y2K their computers and systems. TV news crews had reporters stationed at bank machines, at train traffic centers in NYC, at airports, all waiting to see if the machines and the computers that run them, stopped working when the clock went from 1999 23:59:59 to 2000 00:00:00 because in the early days of programming, to save memory, they used two digit years instead of four, and the fear was that computers would reset themselves to the year 1900 rather than 2000, and stop functioning.

I remember being in the TV newsroom (as it was mandatory for all staff to be there that night) as the millennium crept up in each time zone on our satellite feeds…we waited, scanning, looking, wondering…..and nothing happened. The bug of the millennium became the bust of the millennium. That story was repeated in every news bureau worldwide. After all the worry and hype, nothing happened. Not even a price scanner in Kmart failed (a testament to the engineers and programmers that solved the issue in advance). We grumbled about it spoiling our own plans and went home. With “nothing happening” other than tearful wailing from Bill McKibben, subsidized anger from Joe Romm, self immolation for the cause by Gleick, pronouncements of certainty by the sabbaticalized Michael Mann, and failed predictions from scientist turned rap sheet holder Jim Hansen, CAGW seems to be a lot like Y2K.

Simon Carr of the Independent, after hearing a lecture by MIT professor Dr. Richard Lindzen, thinks maybe global warming and Y2K have something in common. He writes:

At a public meeting in the Commons, the climate scientist Professor Richard Lindzen of MIT made a number of declarations that unsettle the claim that global warming is backed by “settled science”. They’re not new, but some of them were new to me.

Over the last 150 years CO2 (or its equivalents) has doubled. This has been accompanied by a rise in temperature of seven or eight tenths of a degree centigrade.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change attributes half this increase to human activity.

Lindzen says: “Claims that the earth has been warming, that there is a Greenhouse Effect, and that man’s activity have contributed to warming are trivially true but essentially meaningless.”

Full story here

h/t to WUWT reader Ian Forrest

Bishop Hill has a copy of Dr. Lindzen’s slide show for his talk here

(Update: some people having trouble with the link to Bishop Hill’s – so I’ve made a local copy of Linzden’s talk here: http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/rsl-houseofcommons-2012.pdf )

Josh Livetooned the talk – have a look at his work here

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178 Responses to The UK Independent asks: “Is catastrophic global warming, like the Millennium Bug, a mistake?”

  1. pwl says:

    Slide pdf link is broken.

    REFRESH – Alternate link provided – Anthony

  2. NoAstronomer says:

    Err… the millennium bug was not a mistake, at least not in that sense. The reason ‘nothing’ happened is because a lot of people worked to make sure that nothing did happen. What did happen is that the media seized on the story, as they are wont to do, and ran with it. What started out as ‘guys this is a problem we need to do something about it’ was turned into ‘World to end! Film at 11′.

    And in actual fact some things did happen, but of course they didn’t make the news.

    Mike.

  3. pwl says:

    Excellent quote, puts things into perspective.

    Lindzen says: “Claims that the earth has been warming, that there is a Greenhouse Effect, and that man’s activity have contributed to warming are trivially true but essentially meaningless.”

  4. SasjaL says:

    Mistake? No!

    Both have one thing in common – Al Gore …

  5. Typhoon says:

    “Bishop Hill has a copy of Dr. Lindzen’s slide show for his talk here” -> “Page not found”

    See: http://www.bishop-hill.net/storage/RSL-HouseOfCommons-2012.pdf

    REPLY: Works for me every time. Must be a residual Y2K bug. I’ve made a copy locally here:
    http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/rsl-houseofcommons-2012.pdf

    -Anthony

  6. Traciatim says:

    So are they saying that like the Y2K problem, through proper planning, mitigation, and preparation then AGW will be a non issue? I’m not sure I understand the analogy

  7. Patrick Davis says:

    Well first of all, it wasn’t a bug in the usual sense, such as a programatical error. It was hardware desing limitation “built-in” as the consensus was computers would not be required beyond 10 or 15 years, a few years before year 2000. I like it when consensus is, almost always, wrong. I know people from several countries in Africa and one from Romaina who’s authorities did nothing to “fix” the Y2K “bug”. Still, it was largely the “banks” who were driving it as they needed to ensure payments were correct and on-time (To the banks that is).

    Climate change is just the next scare and if Russian scientists are right, we need to be worried about a significant cooling period. Storing plant seeds in an ice vault in Sweden (Or wherever it is) won’t feed people.

  8. RHS says:

    I beg to differ. Numerous companies made investments into their own infra-structure to prevent problems, in many cases replacing lots of equipment which when tested, proved it would have auto shutdown. For example, Windows NT 3.0 had several issues with the date change.
    Even though CO2 has proven itself to be nothing more than plant food and debate fodder, it is easy to draw out doomsday possibilities for those who only look for doomsday scenarios, regardless of the reason

  9. Bob Mount says:

    This is an excellent comparison. Surprised, but delighted, that it was made in the “Indi”.

  10. Stephen A. says:

    It’s important to call out the mass media when they create mass hysteria over trivialities and a false understanding of science.

  11. Mark V says:

    I am not sure if it is my system, but the link to the slides at Bishop Hill does not seem to work. Thanks for the great WUWT site and all the effort.

  12. me says:

    Massive amounts of work were done wrt the millenium bug. Many millions of dollars were pocketed by consultants and experts. 99% of it was a total waste of effort.

    I was one of those people writing those reports and checking the code, being just the grunt that actually did the work I didn’t make much out of it, but some people in suits are probably still living on the proceeds.

    It’s only my wild guess but I suspect if the cost of y2k preparations was £1 billion, the cost of doing nothing would have been $1 million.

  13. GogogoStopSTOP says:

    Advice to the UK Independent:
    1. Scientist crying catastrophe for 20 years are not to be trusted!
    2. Any politicians needing taxes to fix catastrophic anything are not to be trusted!
    3. Any scientist who switches from global warming to climate anything are not to be trusted.
    4. Any UN body claiming catastrophic anything are not to be trusted.
    5. Any UN body claiming any justified world taxation requirements are not to be trusted.

    Hey, you UK Independent writers & editors, executives & members of your Board of Directors: do you sense a pattern here? Are you brain dead? WAKE-UP!

  14. John Arthur says:

    @NoAstronomer 8.04 am. You are absolutely right. I was then working with large IT projects in telecomms. and without a lot of hard work by a lot of people some important problems would have arisen, in telecomms. and elsewhere. Yes, there were odd glitches, but none were serious or could not be sorted out quickly. To imply it was a non-event is wrong and a slight on a huge number of IT professionals.

    John Arthur

  15. John Morgensen says:

    NoAstronomer says:
    February 24, 2012 at 8:04 am

    I agree that Y2K was a real problem solved by real people. In 1999, I was responsible for making sure that the software that ran various business segments of a 24/7 operation continued to work.

    johninreno

  16. Jud says:

    The real news here is that it made it into the Independent.
    Strange days indeed…

  17. Garry says:

    The proper comparison of Y2K mitigation to CO2 Doomerism is this:

    “We need to stop time immediately or it’s going to kill the children!”

  18. Exp says:

    Gotta love the banner on Watts’ site here as the purest of ironies. Post after post of anti-AGW propaganda and politics.

    Sorry fellas, but one way skepticism is not scientific skepticism.

    Oh yes, you guys are the good guys!

    I’m a bit stunned as to how people can become so disturbingly self-deluded. How perfectly you reflect what you claim are the worst traits of your opponents. Group Think does that.

    I know Anthony, You have an answer for that and will not allow the comment. Confirmation.

  19. BrentS says:

    Y2k is an example where even the purported story is still miss represented 12 years later. I worked at a large electrical generation and distribution Company on y2k remediation. First step was testing and identifying problems of which there were many, enough serious ones to bring down the grid. The problems were fixed through the hard work by great technicians and investment by the company. The media saw y2k come and go and because civilization did not come to an end the conclusion was that the public was
    lied to. What a bunch of morons. Y2k was a case where a an identified problem was easily verified through testing, fixes put in place, and the outcome was a non event. Certainly there are NO parallels with AGW!! (other than how moronic the MSM can be)

  20. Patrick Davis says:

    “Exp says:
    February 24, 2012 at 8:37 am”

    Are you an Australian ALP supporter?

  21. M. Simon says:

    Ah. Yes. Y2K where contract programmer pay went through the roof.

    Gone are the days. The work is still fun though.

  22. Robin Guenier says:

    There is no parallel between Y2K and cAGW – because the former was a real and potentially serious problem and the latter almost certainly is not. I urge anyone who is dubious to read this: http://qii2.info/y2k.pdf (or at least to read its Executive Summary). Interestingly, for me anyway, it was my responding to an AGW sceptic’s comment that AGW was another empty scare like Y2K (commenting on an article by Dr David Whitehouse in the UK’s New Statesman in December 2007) that got interested in the important, fascinating and, particularly recently, hugely entertaining AGW issue.

    Unfortunately, the Y2K/cAGW parallel continues to be drawn: not least – and most unfortunately – by the otherwise heroic Donna Laframboise. It was an article by Donna and a subsequent email exchange that prompted my paper.

    I attended Professor Lindzen’s talk in Westminster (and was privileged to have tea with him afterwards): his quiet, undramatic manner is devastatingly effective. And thanks for reminding me of that quotation, pwl. The last five words – “trivially true but essentially meaningless” – sum up AGW perfectly.

  23. M. Simon says:

    So Exp care to explain the errors here? I’m sure you will get a rather robust reply.

    Instead of a content free “you don’t understand” how about giving your understanding with supporting evidence. You know. Do some science.

  24. redcrucible2 says:

    I don’t believe the global worming story.

    [perhaps you have more to contribute? . . kbmod]

  25. Carmen D'oxide says:

    Y2K hysteria was media-manufactured. It was a real issue for IT staff. I modified hundreds of programs and datasets to fix a database design mistake — beginning seven years before midnight December 31, 1999. Only missed one program and had that fixed in a couple of hours. Clear-headed scientists know any change to an environment presents both benefits and detriments. The issue is dislocation — how much and how fast. That and the parasites trying to gather as much as they can for their own benefit.

  26. Coach Springer says:

    Ironcially, the AGW problem has the same fix. Adjust the computers to more accurately reflect the true state of things. Smaller scale, too.

  27. pat says:

    First the American public decided that AGW was of little concern, even if it existed. They were ridiculed. Then the Australian public. The leftwing politicians broke every campaign promise and decided to dismantle manufacturing and mining through bizarre taxes. But when the mainstream German media expressed doubt, things became dicey for the Warmists. And now we have mainstream British papers carefully voicing the same opinion as the American public. Even if true, the effect is trivial. Hmmmm. That is just a very careful way of saying that AGW may not be true at all. A step back without the admission that one had been taken in.

  28. Mike Smith says:

    The Y2K proponents spent millions of dollars successfully mitigating a very real problem. It was a herculean but achievable task and it was indeed achieved to a level of 95% or more.

    The AGW proponents propose spending trillions of dollars to mitigate a non-problem. Under the best estimates, these efforts will likely be less than 1% successful.

    The similarities are striking, NOT.

  29. harrywr2 says:

    NoAstronomer says:
    February 24, 2012 at 8:04 am

    Err… the millennium bug was not a mistake, at least not in that sense.

    It had been a common programming practice to store many ‘dates and times’ as the number of seconds since 1970. I made some nice money just setting the system clock to 2001 and demonstrating that nothing ‘untoward’ would happen. Then I made even more ‘nice money’ verifying at the code level that 2000 was not a trigger for anything.

    January 19th, 2038 is going to be a really bad day for anyone still running software written in the 1980’s and 1990’s.

  30. Steve C says:

    Exp says: (February 24, 2012 at 8:37 am)
    (…) I know Anthony, You have an answer for that and will not allow the comment. Confirmation.

    Sorry, Exp, exactly what point did your ‘comment’ ‘confirm’? :-)

  31. Urederra says:

    I believe that at least part of the AGW scare is intentional, not a mistake.

    Like Mike´s Nature trick to hide the decline. Not possible to happen by chance.

  32. Rolf says:

    There were some real Y2K bugs. My brother worked on some embedded systems (for things like sewage treatment plants) and found that almost all his and his predecessors work had the bug, and many systems would freeze in whatever their state was at the roll-over. So, pumps that were on would run until they went dry and burned out, pumps that were off would stay off, etc. It turned out that the solution was nearly trivial – turn them off just before midnight (system time), and turn them on afterwords, and re-enter the system time. Their equipment suffered no problems, but only because they investigated it and did a bit of testing in the months leading up to it. I’ve heard stories of lots of other similar, small-time bugs that were dealt with the same way.

    AGW is a different kettle of fish – different time scale, vastly different number of variables, how much money needs to be spent to change the outcome, etc. The main similarity is that it’s not sufficiently well understood by the people that are hyping it the most.

  33. View from the Solent says:

    Of all the places to find such a paper, it’s in Nature

    The case for open computer programs
    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v482/n7386/full/nature10836.html#/challenges-are-no-excuse-for-closed-code
    “We argue that, with some exceptions, anything less than the release of source programs is intolerable for results that depend on computation. The vagaries of hardware, software and natural language will always ensure that exact reproducibility remains uncertain, but withholding code increases the chances that efforts to reproduce results will fail.”

  34. Curt says:

    One must always be careful with analogies, because two separate issues are never fully alike, but in this case, I think there are enough similarities to make the analogy useful. The fundamental similarities between Y2K and CAGW:

    1. There are some real issues.
    2. In the publicity, the root issues and their implications were not explained well
    3. Alarmists blew the issue all out of proportion
    4. Many of the alarmists had a vested interested in exaggerating the problem.

    In the case of Y2K, there were many software programs that would not behave properly when comparing dates that were on the opposite side of Jan 1 2000. It was a “rollover” problem, as we in the software business say. (I deal with rollover issues in different contexts in my company’s own software all the time.) But once found, the fix for any given date comparison was trivial. And once you knew what you were looking for, it became very easy to find the comparisons.

    A friend of mine whose full time job at the time was maintenance of this type of software told me in the midst of the hoopla in 1999, “People don’t realize how many bugs of this magnitude we find and fix every day.” The Y2K bugs were a very small fraction of what he worked on that year. Compare this to greenhouse climate variability and other sources of climate variability — generally all you hear about in the media are the greenhouse effects.

    Then people who stood to benefit financially from the issue started promoting the apocalyptic line. There were several classes of these people. Internally, many IT folks used the scare to convince technically unsophisticated upper management to purchase the brand new computer systems and software they had always wanted but never been able to justify before. And external consultants justified huge fees to find and fix these bugs by scaring the bejeezus out of management.

    The apocalyptic story line that all sorts of software necessary for civilized life as we know it was going to grind to a halt on Jan 1 2000 if fixes were not made, overwhelming our ability to fix them was just never going to happen. Many of the bugs manifested themselves well before 2000. For instance, in 1996 and 1997, many people got credit cards whose expiration date was in 2000 or later. When they tried to use them, some programs rejected the cards as expired, treating the expiration dates as being around 1900. A problem, yes, but quickly and easily fixed. Many other bugs did not manifest themselves until significantly later. We found one we had missed in the summer of 2000 when we released a new revision of one piece of software, and saw that another piece of software that compared the date of this revision to older revisions got it wrong. We changed one line of that program and fixed the problem.

    So a real issue, yes. Apocalyptic potential, no. (Although some companies, particularly financial services companies, would have been in a world of hurt if they had not found most of the bugs in time.) In general, organizations that treated Y2K as just one issue of many that deserved attention fared as well as those that went into expensive crisis mode.

    The crisis atmosphere turned out to be very destructive financially. All the new computer hardware and software purchased in 1998 and 1999 led to a complete drying up of the market in 2000 and the next few years. I don’t think it has ever really been acknowledged how much this contributed to what is widely called the “dot-com bust” of those years.

  35. Latitude says:

    Over the last 150 years CO2 (or its equivalents) has doubled. This has been accompanied by a rise in temperature of seven or eight tenths of a degree centigrade.

    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change attributes half this increase to human activity.
    ================================================
    Well, I felt it…………. ;)

  36. DirkH says:

    Exp says:
    February 24, 2012 at 8:37 am
    “Gotta love the banner on Watts’ site here as the purest of ironies. Post after post of anti-AGW propaganda and politics.
    Sorry fellas, but one way skepticism is not scientific skepticism.”

    Exp, if you actually cared to read the comments under past posts, nearly every alternative theory that tries to explain 20th century warming or predict some future climate is mercilessly criticized just as CO2AGW is, so, no, you are not at RealClimate here. Of course each of those theories has their believers. But I hope even they are more open to criticism than the RealClimate fellows who always find that CO2 is the almighty control knob for everything.

  37. DirkH says:

    The Y2K problem was real – the Y2K media hysteria was not. I remember some predictions of an economic collapse due to large scale systems failure. Some scaremongers shifted a lot of books, I guess.

  38. TomB says:

    Exp says:
    February 24, 2012 at 8:37 am
    I know Anthony, You have an answer for that and will not allow the comment. Confirmation.

    Amazing how many things you got wrong in so short a post. You state “one way skepticism is not scientific skepticism” where a number of those commenting have disagreed with the premise of the blog post.

    You state the site is loaded with “anti-AGW propaganda and politics” and sarcastically state “Oh yes, you guys are the good guys!” Wouldn’t take long to point you to posts where AGW scepticism is shared by people of various political leanings.

    I’m a bit stunned as to how you could be so disturbingly deluded and buy into the Group Think on AGW alarmism. I once thought as you and researched the issue so I could thoughtfully debunk those “anti-science deniers of global warming”. To my surprise, the more I looked into it the less I could continue to swallow the party line.

  39. Niels says:

    Claiming the Y2K bug did not exist is almost as bad as saying that CO2 is a problem. There was a problem with many legacy programs, and it was fixed. That is why nothing happened.

    If you get a stomack ulcer and your doc gives you medication and you then don’t barf blood up, you don’t say the doc was wrong because nothing happened.

  40. As several here already said, there were some real problems with the Y2K bug, but these were solved long before midnight at the end of 1999. It was the only night ever I had to be at work, to do nothing than wait for something that I did know wouldn’t happen, instead of being with my family.

    But some firms have made a lot of money by scaring people to buy new computers, software, etc. just like now with the global warming scare…

  41. Ed Mertin says:

    1980 – 1992 there was a lack of volcanoes and total VEI was down considerably. Takes Earth a while to warm up, takes a while to cool off when volcanic activities resume. Go by individual years, http://www.volcano.si.edu/world/find_eruptions.cfm you can see something naturally cyclical going on. If I ever retire maybe I’ll have time to work on something to show. Unless GeoLurking nails it down sooner. Which would be fine by me.

  42. DirkH says:

    Curt says:
    February 24, 2012 at 9:07 am
    “The crisis atmosphere turned out to be very destructive financially. All the new computer hardware and software purchased in 1998 and 1999 led to a complete drying up of the market in 2000 and the next few years. I don’t think it has ever really been acknowledged how much this contributed to what is widely called the “dot-com bust” of those years.”

    Interesting point. But I don’t think it contributed much – Computer sales are cyclical by nature. And most overvalued companies whose names we don’t remember anymore (uh, let me think of one, how about… letsbuyit ? I think that was one name) never had a viable business or an actual product. The actual hardware makers didn’t suffer that terribly. They also went from ridiculously overvalued to overvalued as usual which looked like a bust, but the actual companies continued to operate. The ones that had products and a market.

  43. Ed Mertin says:

    Make that 1991 please.

  44. Eimear says:

    @ Exp
    This is one of the few places that your comments will not be deleted. Your more than welcome to join in on the discussions.

  45. Silver Ralph says:

    Just to put this article in its proper perspective, the Independent is the Greenest of Green publications – with every newspaper produced on recycled paper and offset with a newly planted tree, and three herrings given to a seal.**

    Thus this is a little bit like Al Gore declaring he has doubts about AGW.

    ** Fish are not cuddly, so its ok to kill them.

    .

  46. Exp says:

    “Lindzen says: “Claims that the earth has been warming, that there is a Greenhouse Effect, and that man’s activity have contributed to warming are trivially true…”

    Funny. Anthony keeps posting articles and comment that tries to counter this trivially true science.

    REPLY: Funny, and you keep posting trivial snark without having the courage to put your name to it – Anthony

  47. Snotrocket says:

    Y2K: I was there. And as many here say, it was something that had to be fixed – and was. The fact that it was then a non-story for the MSM meant that it had to be trashed and the many years of work done by legions of programmers and systems managers was dumped in history’s shredder.

    To compare Y2K with CAGW is a nonsense. You can’t be clever enough to know that CAGW is a scam, yet stupid enough not to know that Y2K had the potential for great disruption. Then again, if another Y2K was occurring today I guess that people like WWF, Greenpeace and Gillard would be telling us that a tax on digital clocks would fix it!

  48. DesertYote says:

    Y2K was mo mistake! I busted my tail for nearly 2 years (while trying to raise a teenager as a single parent) to insure that issues where solved before the clock struck midnight. All possible problem types were identified and categorized., Mitigation strategies were developed for those categories., And software engineers worked wonders to insure that the problems were solved.

    In a way, this was an ideal problem. All issue types fit in a few well understood categories, It was also measurable and corrective actions were testable. We identified problems partly by time warping the system, fake it out tho think it was 2000 etc. Thing REALLY did break when we did this. After our actions, they did not break.

    It pisses me off when non-programmers claim that it was a scam because we fixed the problem and planes did not fall out of the sky. The fact that almost every corporation in the world spent a huge amount of money in mitigation, should demonstrate that this was a problem, because despite the leftie propaganda corporations are not flushed with cash and need to spend it wisely in order to stay in business.

  49. Garrett says:

    Lots of comments above (by NoAstronomer, Traciatim, RHS, John Arthur, John Morgensen, BrentS, Robin, Guenier, Carmen D’oxide, Rolf) have done a great job pointing out how silly the title of that Independent blog post (not an article) is by saying that the Y2K issue was a mistake. I have very little to add except to ask those who haven’t read the posts above to go back and do so now.

  50. Andrew30 says:

    The Y2K Hype was the result of interested parties introducing and exploting many peoples inability to understand the difference between time and duration. Yes there were Time related issues, mortgage schedules, 5 year treasury notes and the like, but there was Never a Duration issue, microwave ovens, cars, TV, Radio, the internet etc. The Y2K Hype sold newspapers and advertising, it simply created profit from fear. In this aspect it was no different than alarmist climate science is today. Yes, there were some software problems related to Time, but no one would be ‘worried’ about the bank loosing track of their mortgage, so the ‘they’ linked it to your car, your TV and the microwave oven.

  51. MarkW says:

    As a programmer who worked with financial institutions in the years prior to Y2k, I can assure you that it was a real problem. However banks had been working on this problem for years. Mortgage institutions were among the first to have problems, Mortgages written in 1970 would mature in 2000. Trying to calculate the proper interest was tough when the computer kept telling you that your loan period was negative 70 years. For a few months, mortgage calculations were done by hand and manually entered, then the updated software was distributed. (Of course back then, not much was automated yet anyway, so it wasn’t that big an inconvenience.) My company worked with check sorting machines, with a proprietary control language. We had a command for date validation, that only supported a two digit date. We had to add a new command to the language that supported a 4 digit date, and then get the update to our customers with enough lead time that they could update their sort patterns to use the new command. We were done by early 1998.

  52. Phil's Dad says:

    I am another one of the ex-geeks who fixed the very real Y2K issue.
    The comparison is a bad one.

    If the AGW crowd had been in charge of the Y2K programme the fix would have been to persuade everyone to think of the children and stop using computers.

  53. Dodgy Geezer says:

    In the Independent?

    This is what winning looks like. Previously shuttered doors start to open, accompanied by a crescendo of hate and dirty tricks from the warmists…

    Now would be a good time to raise a glass to Steve McKintyre and the memory of John Daly, who stood alone and fought for what was right when there was no other dissenting voice in the world….

  54. Charlie A says:

    The Y2K problem was real. The Y2K hysteria was overblown.

    AGW is real. AGW hysteria is overblown.

    Lindzen’s presentation is clear on what is real and what is most likely exaggeration.

  55. Latitude says:

    Exp says:
    February 24, 2012 at 8:37 am
    I’m a bit stunned as to how people can become so disturbingly self-deluded.
    ====================================
    Every day less and less people believe in global warming…
    ..as less believe, you will be left with the lowest common denominator

    Don’t be the last one Exp……………..

  56. steveta_uk says:

    While I was working on the Y2K problem (not really a bug, since the code worked as designed, just not for long enough) I was really annoyed by the stupidity of the mass media commentary on the matter.

    For example, when one BBC presenter asked an expert what we should do when toasters, fridges, and washing mahines, and ovens all failed as these days they all contain computers, the expert wisely pointed out that none of his own kitchen appliances even know what year it is, so he wasn’t sure why the question has been raised.

  57. pat says:

    Here is the lecture that gave rise to the Y2K analogy , by the way.
    http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/02148/RSL-HouseOfCommons_2148505a.pdf
    Apparently even the soft-headed parliamentarians were impressed. It must be remember that in Britain the Conservative politicians are just enthusiastic about AGW taxation and lifestyle penalties as Labour.

  58. MarkW says:

    In the early days of computing, memory was very, very expensive. Quite literally, dollars per byte of RAM. I don’t remember how much memory those big reel to reel tapes held, but it wasn’t a lot compared to newer systems. Those big removeable disk drives with multiple platters that you see in a lot of old movies, those only held a few 10’s of meg of data, and cost thousands of dollars.

    So saving two bytes per record saved the banks a lot of money. Back in those days, Y2K was still 40 to 50 years off, and nobody gave it much thought.

    In hind sight, 2 digit years may look like a bad mistake, but given the economics of early computers, it made a lot of sense.

  59. Paul Vaughan says:

    “If Lindzen is right, we will never be able to calculate the trillions that have been spent on the advice of “scientists in the service of politics”.”
    http://blogs.independent.co.uk/2012/02/22/is-catastrophic-global-warming-like-the-millenium-bug-a-mistake/

  60. WillR says:

    My goodness… Misinformation here?

    In the early days of computing a SINGLE DIGIT was used to save storage space
    — which was quite expensive in them thar days.

    One of the most significant advances in computing was the TWO DIGIT year.

    It was all a horrible trick (tm cs) perpetrated by cost accountants.. I swear. I was there! Believe in me!

    Uh sorry — just the climate scientist in me coming out with that last line…

  61. MarkW says:

    GogogoStopSTOP says:
    February 24, 2012 at 8:29 am

    4. Any UN body is not to be trusted.

    Fixed it for you.

  62. Glenn says:

    harrywr2 says:
    February 24, 2012 at 9:00 am

    “January 19th, 2038 is going to be a really bad day for anyone still running software written in the 1980′s and 1990′s.”

    February 24th, 2012 is a bad day for anyone still running software written in the 80s and 90s.

  63. RobRoy says:

    Seems to me this analogy between y2k and AGW is only appropriate to the bellicose reaction of the scaremongering press to both issues. The analogy doesn’t fit so well describing the motivations behind the truly involved players.

  64. Sun Spot says:

    Let me guess, Prof. Richard Lindzens house of commons presentation didn’t make it to the Bias Broadcasting Cabal air waves.

  65. RobRoy says:

    “Describing” probably should have been “concerning”. :-)

  66. MarkW says:

    I remember talking to some old COBOL programmers who though retired, were called back in to fix legacy programs that were still running, but hadn’t been touched in years. Good times for them.

  67. I have an old server sitting in the next room. I can shovel some coal into its boiler and pull out 5,000+ lines of Y2k bugs from just one widely-used MRP/ERP application of the 1980’s and 1990’s… one of my projects in 1999 was to ensure Y2k compliance in that application which meant changes to nearly every code module of the application.

    In 1998, I went through the cheque and ATM functions of a banking system. The 10,000 lines harboured several hundred Y2k problems along with a quiltwork of bugs to enhance older bugs. Some of the bugs would have been catastrophic because the data representation is records with fixed-width fields. The last digit of the year (having 3 digits instead of the expected 2) would, in one case, have caused the last digit of an account number to have slipped into the amount field; in the millions-of-dolars position.

    Non-catastrophic bugs were visible on the WWW until at least 2008 (or “108” as it appeared on the page) with web pages using old scripts to produce a 2-gidit year from the 4-digit. Which substracted 1900 from the year because “that will always give a 2-digit year”.

    Just pathetic, amateurish programming practices. Modulo functions existed long before the code was written.

    The media greatly sensationalised, perhaps egged on by Y2k-conslutants in a feeding frenzy; who seemed more obsessed with filling in forms to cover their @rses than fixing the known problems.

  68. steveta_uk says:

    “In the early days of computing, memory was very, very expensive. Quite literally, dollars per byte of RAM.”

    RAM? I assume you mean core.

  69. D Caldwell says:

    Exp, thanks for stopping by. We can imagine how the events of this week might be really bothering the faithful of the House of Catastrophic Warming. Hopefully having delivered your drive-by insults here at WUWT has made you feel a little better.
    Please do come back any time we can be of service to you in any way.

  70. Snotrocket says:

    MarkW, February 24, 2012 at 9:38 am:

    “…memory was very, very expensive…I don’t remember how much memory those big reel to reel tapes held, but it wasn’t a lot compared to newer systems. Those big removeable disk drives with multiple platters that you see in a lot of old movies, those only held a few 10′s of meg of data,”

    Mark, IIRC from my time in the field, the reel to reel tapes (you probably mean 3420s) could manage 7MB, unless they were dual density. The 3330 discs could manage up to 300M a spindle. The earlier 2314 discs held a lot less and their heads were driven by hydraulics!!! (I can remember setting them up!) And a 40KB BOM (ferrite core) storage unit needed a sack-truck to install it.

    (Puts swinging lantern away….)

  71. MarkW says:

    Core was also RAM. (Random Access Memory)

  72. BTW: The first thing that the Y2k bug revealed was that so many people didn’t know when the millennium actually started.

    The second thing was that very few programmers correctly coded for a leap year; it wasn’t just the 1st of January which was problematic.

  73. Jay says:

    Loving this from the slide presentation (final slide): “Twenty years of repetition and escalation of claims does not make it more plausible. Quite the contrary, the failure to improve the case over 20 years makes the case even less plausible as does the evidence from climategate and other instances of overt cheating.”

  74. hunter says:

    Brent S underscores the wisdom of Dr. Lindzen’s comparison of AGW and Y2K;
    Y2K, thanks to a modest amount of effort was a non-event. AGW, with a modest amount of adaptation, will be the same.
    The other part, of course is that Y2K parasites, just like AGW parasites, did a lot of rent seeking to cash in on the crisis of the year.

  75. > Claims that the earth has been warming, that there is a Greenhouse Effect, and that man’s activity have contributed to warming are trivially true

    Exp has already said this, but that assertion – that this is “trivially true” – is certainly correct, but will be a surprise to many people here. There are plenty of people here who deny that the GHE exists, and that the warming exists.

    Or have their own bizarre wacky alternative GH theory, that Lindzen would giggle at:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/12/29/unified-theory-of-climate/

    REPLY: I agree the NZ theory is wacky too, and the reason I posted it was to bring in people to the conversation (Like physicist Dr. Robert Brown, Willis, and others to show just how off base it was. I figured people would learn something from the discussion, and they have. – Anthony)

  76. James P says:

    “we waited, scanning, looking, wondering…..and nothing happened”

    Anthony – would you rather they hadn’t fixed it?

    AGW and the Y2K problem are wholly different issues and the only reason a journalist conflates them is because newspapers love doom.

  77. Gras Albert says:

    The comparison, made by an Arts graduate, may be poor but Lindzen’s talk is devastatingly accurate, everyone ought to read it, most especially those whose first thought is to refuse…

    Think again

  78. jack morrow says:

    MarkW says:
    The UN is not to be trusted period. There- fixed.

  79. Tom Gray says:

    I had experience of a Y2K bug. A well known science magazine sent me a notice to renew my subscription for zero months.. It has regular articles on computer science issues

  80. More Soylent Green! says:

    I can’t say the Y2K bug was a non-event, as businesses worldwide spent billions to prevent a disaster. In many ways, it helped spur a revolution in IT as many businesses decided it finally made sense to move away from expensive, outdated infrastructure and into client/server distributed and web-based computing.

    Was the investment worthwhile? Many businesses and governments spent a lot of money testing their systems. If there really was no problem, would they have been able to justify the expense?

  81. Lawrence says:

    Y2k like swine flu, legionella water testing, ukmo’s heat wave warning etc were all over reactions. And in the case of Y2k and water testing many people made stacks of money slaying dragons that never existed.

    I note some people say that Y2k problems were pre empted . Well all I can say is, that not one person I know who couldn’t afford ‘experts’ to prepare their equipment that contained small PC’s and their actual PC’s; had any problems whatsoever. It was one large hype and the cash tills sang Hallelujah.

  82. George V says:

    Add me to the list of Y2K warriors who get really, really, really, really angry at people who say the Year 2000 bug was a hoax. I was on a very large team of contract programmers, project managers, and even consultants(!) who worked pretty d@#m hard for three years. We got through successfully with a lot of initiative, inventiveness, imagination and skull sweat. It was definitely not “nothing”.

    George V.

  83. Anthony Watts says:

    I certainly am not suggesting it was a hoax, only that the media coverage of it was overblown like always. – Anthony

  84. @steveta_uk

    It was RAM.

    Then there was RAM and ROM.

  85. TedK says:

    Don’t forget Anthony:
    Gleick claims that he received the two page strategy doc in the mail. USPS Inspection service should be called and set on the trail of fraud using the mail service. Call or I believe you can contact them via the web.

  86. Snotrocket says:

    Lawrence says:February 24, 2012 at 10:33 am…

    Lawrence, if all your experience is restricted to PCs then you may suffer from tunnel vision. However, some of us were working on the behemoth 3270 mainframes running MVS etc. That was a different ball-park, believe me.

  87. MarkW says:

    Lawrence says:
    February 24, 2012 at 10:33 am

    SO those of us, who detailed steps we took to fix Y2k problems are just lying?

  88. RockyRoad says:

    William M. Connolley says:
    February 24, 2012 at 10:19 am

    > Claims that the earth has been warming, that there is a Greenhouse Effect, and that man’s activity have contributed to warming are trivially true

    Exp has already said this, but that assertion – that this is “trivially true” – is certainly correct, but will be a surprise to many people here. There are plenty of people here who deny that the GHE exists, and that the warming exists.

    I don’t know, William. I start to believe the temperature data that shows the earth is warming (predominantly recovery from the LIA), and somebody goes and pulls out a long-term temperature record that shows no warming whatsoever.

    I’ve even run into such a temperature data set that has been recorded less than 90 miles from where I live, and knowing who has kept the temperature record makes me believe it far more than some grant-seeking, government-controll advocating, document-falsifying, hysteria-mongering “climate scientist”.

    So who should I believe–you or my lying eyes?

  89. mwhite says:

    If Lindzen is right, we will never be able to calculate the trillions that have been spent on the advice of “scientists in the service of politics”.

    http://blogs.independent.co.uk/2012/02/22/is-catastrophic-global-warming-like-the-millenium-bug-a-mistake/

    The last sentence

  90. Ally E. says:

    TomB says:

    February 24, 2012 at 9:15 am

    Exp says:
    February 24, 2012 at 8:37 am
    I know Anthony, You have an answer for that and will not allow the comment. Confirmation.

    Amazing how many things you got wrong in so short a post. You state “one way skepticism is not scientific skepticism” where a number of those commenting have disagreed with the premise of the blog post.

    You state the site is loaded with “anti-AGW propaganda and politics” and sarcastically state “Oh yes, you guys are the good guys!” Wouldn’t take long to point you to posts where AGW scepticism is shared by people of various political leanings.

    I’m a bit stunned as to how you could be so disturbingly deluded and buy into the Group Think on AGW alarmism. I once thought as you and researched the issue so I could thoughtfully debunk those “anti-science deniers of global warming”. To my surprise, the more I looked into it the less I could continue to swallow the party line.

    *

    Brilliant, TomB, I admire people like yourself who had the guts to examine the evidence properly and to change their thinking. My hat off to you, sir!

  91. Martin A says:

    In 1972, I was responsible for an analysis system incorporating an HP 2100A minicoumputer. I recall that 16K of core memory (16 bit wordlength) cost the same as a new E-type Jaguar at the time. And that was a fraction of the cost of mainframe memory – so not surprising that programmers did not waste memory space.

  92. dfbaskwill says:

    I giggle every time I see the Y2K “certified” sticker on my light fixtures at my office. Government creating jobs at its finest. Or maybe just saved?

  93. Robin Guenier says:

    Re Y2K, I cited my paper above. As it’s 23 pages long, with nearly 50 end notes, I don’t suppose many people will read it. So here’s the Conclusion:

    “Y2K related problems occurred widely over several years. Their effect was local and – with some unfortunate exceptions – relatively unimportant. In particular, because the vast majority of potential problems were fixed, there was no example of the catastrophic knock-on effect that some had feared and of which the Governor of the Bank of England had warned (see p.7). That there was not is largely because his and other such warnings were heeded and acted upon. Anyone who confuses such warnings with predictions, and failed predictions at that, or with scaremongering or who regards Y2K as a hoax or believes efforts to resolve it were a waste of money, hasn’t tried to understand what was, in fact, a bizarre, unnecessary but real and seriously worrying problem, resolved only because of the massive effort deployed throughout the world.”

    That link again: http://qii2.info/y2k.pdf . (I deal with media reaction on page 14.)

  94. Having waded through all of the Y2K comments, I am just wondering:

    What is Britain planning to do with the information they received? Will they continue
    to spend the “billions”? Or just form a committee to discuss it, like all bureaucracy?

    Certainly the hype is all that is in common.

  95. Stephen Richards says:

    but some people in suits are probably still living on the proceeds.

    That’s me.

  96. wermet says:

    Typhoon says: February 24, 2012 at 8:13 am

    “Bishop Hill has a copy of Dr. Lindzen’s slide show for his talk here” -> “Page not found”

    See: http://www.bishop-hill.net/storage/RSL-HouseOfCommons-2012.pdf

    This is a very strange error.
    1. When I first tried to clicking (repeatedly) on this link, I too got this error message (every time).
    2. So then, I went to the Bishop-Hill blog and navigated manually to the pdf. It opened just fine.
    3. Now for the strangeness, when I then retried clicking on the WUWT link, Firefox successfully opens the file every time.

    Have no idea about how to fix this so that it will work for all WUWT readers on the first click.

    Thanks for all your hard work. I really enjoy your site,
    wermet

  97. Lawrence says:

    Mark and Snotrocket

    Are you saying the work you did prevented the disaster from happening, because I’m saying that seemingly plenty of people with common PC’s or any device (which we were told could be affected) with computing power down to a lowly washing maching seemed unaffected. It just basically came out in the wash.

  98. MarkW says:

    Glenn says:
    February 24, 2012 at 9:42 am

    February 24th, 2012 is a bad day for anyone still running software written in the 80s and 90s.
    —————

    Big institutions and especially financial institutions, are very, very, very conservative when it comes to upgrading software.
    If a program is working, then there is no reason to change.
    First there is the cost of the upgrade software itself. Then there is the cost of shutting down operations while the software is being upgraded. Finally there is the worry about finding all the bugs in the new software, and the worry that your operations may be shutdown because of an unanticipated incompatibility.

    It is not unusual for such companies to still be using code that was first written 30 or 40 years ago.

  99. DonS says:

    Erp says, and many reply. Yesterday it was Connolly. Have the warmistas launched a troll-a-day program against this site?

  100. Stephen Richards says:

    Sun Spot says:

    February 24, 2012 at 9:47 am
    Let me guess, Prof. Richard Lindzens house of commons presentation didn’t make it to the Bias Broadcasting Cabal air waves.
    No, Instead Monbiot and Black started spouting what a martyre Gliek is. What a warped sense of society these two half wits have. It’s ok to steal, deceive, cheat and lie as long as it is for their good cause. What a couple of a$$

  101. Stephen Richards says:

    alisonmrobinson says:

    February 24, 2012 at 11:28 am

    British parlementarians are expert at forming committees. Ones that are either very small with a known clique or very large so you never get to the decision. Expert they are.

  102. JamesS says:

    An unimportant, but very amusing, thing DID happen at 00:00:00 1 January 2000. I visited the website of The US Naval Observatory, which is as described on their site “serves as the official source of time for the U.S. Department of Defense and a standard of time for the entire United States.”

    The date shown was 1 January 1900.

    This was the website’s clock, of course, and not the actual “atomic clock” time — but you’d have thought that if anybody had put the Y2K fix in, it would have been them.

  103. SasjaL says:

    Another thing in common – sloppy programming …

    ( date / computer models )

  104. UK John says:

    What amazes me is that a lot of people actually still believe that there was a Y2K problem and that it was fixed, by worldwide efforts, only problem with this belief is that half the world didn’t bother to check anything and nothing went wrong.

    In UK I was paid handsomely for formulating a long list and certifying software and equipment that there was absolutely nothing wrong with.

    My colleagues in Italy, in keeping with all their countrymen, checked nothing at all, and nothing went wrong.

    Some people suggest that a lot of things were solved without publicity, amazing!, if anybody had solved anything they would have shouted it from the rooftops.

    For all those who believe they solved a Y2K problem, show us the software code you altered then I will believe you. A lot of people point to potential errors with or caused by clocks, clocks are not software so not a Y2K problem, and any clock can be set to any date/time you want, and to any time zone. I am even led to believe that for the same instant of time, a clock varies with Longitude, and somewhere at the same time it will be a different day.

  105. Scarface says:

    Quoted before already by pwl, but so completely recognizable as a statement of Lindzen:

    “Claims that the earth has been warming, that there is a Greenhouse Effect, and that man’s activity have contributed to warming are trivially true but essentially meaningless.”

    You can hear him say it, with his slightly humourous yet very authoritative way of talking.

    Lindzen, a great scientist. Thanks for cheering me up with this. I needed it.

  106. Matt Schilling says:

    I know history revision when I read it and I have read some in the comment section of this page. I have been a fulltime professional programmer since 1988. I worked for a small business made up of Windows and web programmers and DBA’s from 1994 to 2004.
    The company was jointly owned by two men. One went completely over the cliff because of Y2K. He bought all of his employees books explaining why it was simply too late to rescue the modern world from the pending Y2K disaster. He nearly bankrupted himself and threatened to sell his half of the business to a virtual stranger at a loss to get out before ‘the end’. The remaining partner had to go deeper in debt to buy out the hapless, panicked soul.
    This is not difficult to research. (http://www.wired.com/politics/law/news/2000/01/33419) People thought and taught that virtually everything essential would fail and virtually everything being done was merely way too little way too late.
    It was NOT just the lines of code that needed to be fixed – which I see people discussing on this page. It was the tens of millions of embedded chips, etc. that would completely fail. We didn’t know where they were and we would not be able to find them in time..
    So, yes, I am sure many people worked many hours to rewrite lots of code and I am sure that was of real help when the clock struck midnight. But it was all the buzz that none of that mattered. The whole system was going to collapse anyway. The First World was going to die at midnight 12/31/1999, or shortly thereafter.
    Therefore, I am convinced the comparison between Y2K and CAGW holds: Otherwise intelligent people talked themselves into believing an irrational and unfounded fear and then worked feverishly (and profitably) to convince others. (To be fair, I don’t remember any sanctimonious bullying.)
    CAGW = Y2K – ExpirationDate

  107. Richard M says:

    I worked on several y2k issues myself. It was a real issue but I agree with the article.

    The entire y2k situation was blown out of proportion. It was not a difficult problem, it was just wide spread. The AGW issue is also not a big deal, but, in the same manner, the problems have been blown out of proportion.

  108. Mardler says:

    The fascinating thing about Y2K is that, apart from embedded code in various machines etc., most of the problems (and problems there were) lay in IBM and other mainframe architectures that addressed single items of data at the level, for dates, of, usually, two and sometimes four characters (decimal numbers) for the year. This required a great deal of work to correct.

    Some of us, working with different architectures in the ’70s, laughed at this and predicted the potential disaster on 1.1.2000 if nothing was done about it.

    We knew because we worked on machines that had a totally different architecture at that level and used four 6-bit characters in a “word”; these 24 bits could hold either a year as, say, 1995 (4 characters representing the decimal number, with leading zeros) or a 24 bit number +/- 8,388,608 (or 7). Dates so held were referenced to a base point of 1.1.1900 and held as the number of days after 31.12.1899 the number being translated by supplied sub routine into the date required. It followed that the difference in days between two dates was simple arithmetic and made e.g., interest calculation easy. Provided dates were stored this way no Y2K bug would ensue; I’m pleased to say that’s what I did.

    Now I’ve really shown my age!

    Upshot is that, for some, Y2K was a huge problem so little or no comparison can be drawn with CAGW other than the MSM hype.

  109. Robin Guenier says:

    UK John:

    Read the link I’ve provided above. It was a problem for the (then) developed world – so, of course, half the world (probably more) did nothing. But your idea that Italy did nothing is nonsense.

  110. Power Grab says:

    Heh…I actually owe my job to the Y2K bug. My firm trashed its existing mainframe software (which was full of decades-old spaghetti code, but very useful – it did everything except wash your coffee cup in the morning), and purchased a canned system that only produced canned reports but was Y2K-compliant. Then they announced they would in no way modify the canned reports to meet departmental needs. It was the responsibility of each department to put personnel into place to extract data from the system and produce reports that actually were helpful. I had done some light db programming for the department in my “spare time”, and they created my current position and hired me into it. It’s fun to tell other programmers that I have programs that I wrote in 1999 that I still run every day – and they’re not mainframe programs. I do have some 1999 mainframe programs that I still run every day, but that’s a different animal.

    I did stay past midnight to see if Y2K triggered any weirdness in our systems. The only thing I observed was a tiny “blip” that came from the ceiling-mounted smoke detector down the hall. It is hard-wired.

  111. Steve from Rockwood says:

    A friend of mine bought a motor generator to connect to his house if Y2K turned out to be a disaster. I asked him if he was sure the generator would work and suggested he buy another just in case. I think he got the sarcasm because he returned the generator but then, oddly, bought lot’s of dried food.

  112. Ari Tai says:

    re: Y2K as a (well-intentioned) panic if not hoax.

    Wasn’t Y2K our first exposure to Richard Clarke?

    It is worth reflecting on that 2nd and 3rd world countries with infrastructures running on old, non-maintained mainframes and worse – that didn’t spend a dollar on mitigating Y2K had few, if any problems. It gave a nice boost to high-tech – artificially expanded the bubble by moving purchases forward, made the 2000 bubble bursting a little worse and a little longer than it would have been otherwise (if government had not interfered with the markets). But that’s par for the course. We never learn. Better to have us all agree to tax us all and mitigate an undesired market effect than tinker with the scale. Else we end up where we are today with no confidence in any price or balance sheet (sigh).

  113. Dale says:

    I’m sorry, I am a bit disgusted at the Y2K comparison. Y2K was real, and could have caused big problems. The fact not much happened is testament to IT people the world over.

    In early 1998 I was working at Royal Bank of Canada and we found through testing that the foreign exchange network (the one connected to other countries which did the actual cash transfer) would begin looking up exchange rates from 1900 come the date change. Well, that’s a bit of a problem isn’t it! So I had to spend 8 months running up and down the west coast from Anchorage to San Diego to ensure the system was ‘fixed’.

    AGW is NOT comparative to Y2K. Y2K was a problem that lots of people tested, proved and fixed. The only similarity between the two is the MSM has taken the alarmist story and scared people.

  114. One of the problems of the Y2K variety involved the firmware of external devices attached to PCs. Again, since there was limited memory space, dates were expressed in 2-digit format. That was easy to repair, since the device driver software used by the PC could be used to change the interpretation to 20XX instead of 19XX. There were many problems far more difficult to repair, and as one person commented, most were caused by the lack of vision of many computer programmers in the 1960-1990 era. There is software still being used today that has date-error problems.

  115. More Soylent Green! says:

    Lawrence says:
    February 24, 2012 at 10:33 am
    Y2k like swine flu, legionella water testing, ukmo’s heat wave warning etc were all over reactions. And in the case of Y2k and water testing many people made stacks of money slaying dragons that never existed.

    I note some people say that Y2k problems were pre empted . Well all I can say is, that not one person I know who couldn’t afford ‘experts’ to prepare their equipment that contained small PC’s and their actual PC’s; had any problems whatsoever. It was one large hype and the cash tills sang Hallelujah.

    Y2K wasn’t really a PC problem. It was a Big Iron problem, left over from the days when memory and storage were expensive and they could save a little bit by using 2-digit years instead of 4. I don’t know anybody who had a Y2K problem with their PC, but their are always exceptions.

  116. Robert Christopher says:

    The Y2K publicity was necessary because in those days many company directors treated IT as magic, and they needed to be TOLD that resources were required to deal with Y2K in their company. A few tried to ignore the problem: they didn’t realise that the deadline could not be changed! Those few did hit the headlines, with the MSM treating it as if it was happening across the industry.

    Where I worked, a British offshoot of a big US company, we completed our Y2K work before the end of 1998; it was a small project, and only some minor code changes were needed, but it needed to be done.

    IIRC, didn’t Steve McIntyre find a Y2K problem in some NASA data?
    http://climateaudit.org/2007/08/06/quantifying-the-hansen-y2k-error/

  117. Rob Crawford says:

    “January 19th, 2038 is going to be a really bad day for anyone still running software written in the 1980′s and 1990′s.”

    Unless it’s been recompiled with a bigger word length.

  118. MarkW says:

    Lawrence says:
    February 24, 2012 at 11:41 am

    The work I did prevented problems from happening. The only people ever claiming that disasters were possible were the idiots in the media.

    That widespread and sometimes serious problems would have happened had not fixes and work arounds been developed has been demonstrated by many posters here.

    Your dismissal of the whole thing as nothing more than a fraud is both wrong and offensive.
    The fact that your friends, running tiny little programs on home computers did not have any problems is hardly indicative of what the rest of the world had to deal with.

    I suggest that in the future, when you know nothing, you refrain from insulting those who do.

  119. Al Gored says:

    A “mistake” like Y2K?

    In both cases it was an extremely lucrative “mistake” for those who made it. Oops.

    But I would put the AGW “mistake” in the same category as the Iraqi WMD “mistake.”

    In all three cases, vast sums of money have been extorted using fear and exaggeration and, in the case of AGW and iraq, outright lies.

    As for the swine flu analogy, like the Y2K story I don’t know enough of the details to comment too seriously. But the WHO and their Big Pharma partners certainly did ostensibly justify their existence, did generate some massive vaccine sales, and may have saved some pigs.

  120. MarkW says:

    UK John says:
    February 24, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    If you want to call me a liar, please be honest and do it openly.
    Your call for people to show the code is disengenuous at best. First off, the work was done 12 to 20 years ago. Secondly, in pretty much all cases, the code is the proprietary property of the company that paid for the work and as such posting it would violate several laws.

  121. Peter Miller says:

    Y2K was a potentially real problem in some ancient computer systems.

    CAGW is a potentially real problem in some modern computer models.

    Both created an industry, which unashamedly milked the general public. In both instances, they were supported by science-challenged politicians.

  122. Jaye Bass says:

    January 19th, 2038 is going to be a really bad day for anyone still running software written in the 1980′s and 1990′s.

    For 32bit machines anyway.

  123. Greg Goodknight says:

    I’m an engineer (computer software and hardware, most of my beans and tortillas from networking) and I took Y2K dead seriously. I made sure I had all my November and December 1999 financial statements handy just in case, and made sure we had a few days of food handy, which we always had anyway.

    Yes, it was real, and there were a number of poorly managed big iron programs, many of which were virtually unmaintainable, that could have caused problems. But there was a huge overreaction by a number of fear merchants who should have known better. I remember on guy who was claiming the hundreds of millions of embedded processors with embedded real time clocks were going to go bust, and the wheels of commerce will grind to a halt. Food will rot in fields because stores wouldn’t be able to place orders, cars with embedded processors wouldn’t start.

    It was all rot. I tried to tell people that a huge number of embedded processors didn’t actually use the RTC circuits (including a few million I had something to do with) and didn’t even care what time or day or year that it was, and that even if food distribution hiccuped, the folks who won’t get paid unless the food moved would figure out something, and fast.

    The parallels are close enough for me, no need to stop. Kudos to the folks whose hard work actually kept some vital services up, but the hysteria was overblown, just like with AGW.

  124. JohnWho says:

    I agree with what many have posted:

    The UK Independent asks: “Is catastrophic global warming, like the Millennium Bug, a mistake?”

    Catastrophic Global Warming is a mistake. There is nothing that we can do to stop that which is not happening.

    The “Millennium Bug” or “Y2K” issue was a problem that was minimized by due dillegence and planning.

    On the other hand, the media hype on catastrophic global warming, like the media hype on the “Millennium Bug”, is similar.

  125. Exp says:

    “REPLY: Funny, and you keep posting trivial snark without having the courage to put your name to it – Anthony”

    Why is it that I’d need to be courageous to put my name to my posts, Anthony?

    You don’t even realize the irony of your own comments do you?

    Have a look at what you’ve posted and allowed to be commented about on a person who believes in his views and actions every bit as passionately as you do.

    You are truly and utterly blind.

    REPLY: Generally when an individual calls out another, or derides them in some manner, they have the courage to put a name to accusations. Clearly, with a fake name like “exp” you are like Dr. Gleick in his fake identity emails to Heartland.

    I should also add, that by our blog policy, a valid email address is required to comment here. Yours appears to be a partial non-functional email address. – Anthony

  126. Harpo says:

    I think this is a significant event. A year ago I just wouldn’t have believed this could ever appear in the Indi – and nearly all the comments are favorable.
    Perhaps Gleikgate has opened some eyes that should never have been closed and the MSM wall is about to crack.

  127. BrentS says:

    Lawrence, nobody did remediation on pc’s, microwaves, dishwashers. Resources were deployed where risk and liability were highest. We discovered y2k problems in everything from programmable controllers, scada systems, to interfaces between Major systems. Any one of these problems individually would not have been significant, but if nothing was done, at a minimum millions of people would have had their electric bill screwed up for a while – and we know how tolerant of wrong bills the consumer is – to a full power outage that may have lasted some time. This wasn’t conjecture, we used test environments mirroring our production environment that clearly demonstrated the problem.

    Yes, lots of people made money. Yes, it was sensationalized by the usual culprits. Who cares, serious problems were averted – And most importantly the corporation paid for it which was passed on to the customer as happens in a market economy, NOT THE TAX PAYER

  128. SandyInDerby says:

    I thought there was a bit of a dry run for the Y2K problem in that we’re currently in the year 1433AH which means that there was a century issue for Islamic dates roundabout 1980CE. The Japanese systems also have some complex calculating to get elapsed time and converting the Era Year combinations into western dates. I haven’t got a clue how the Chinese cope with their calendar and retirement age.
    Retirement dates and years of service.was one of the first things I had to verify as my small contribution to global safety. As I recall the date was OK, but years of service were more problematic. Business and Governments have solved the years of service problems by virtually removing that element from UK pensions, but that’s a whole different story.

    I guess in all cases they use look-up tables rather than on the fly calculations.

  129. Snotrocket says:

    Lawrence says February 24, 2012 at 11:41 am
    “Mark and Snotrocket

    Are you saying the work you did prevented the disaster from happening, because I’m saying that seemingly plenty of people with common PC’s or any device (which we were told could be affected) with computing power down to a lowly washing maching seemed unaffected. It just basically came out in the wash.”

    Lawrence, please understand, this discussion about Y2K is not at the trash level of ‘will our toasters/microwaves/etc still work?’. We are talking about much more complex things. I wonder, do you even know what a mainframe computer really looks like; what the power of it was; and how much of the UK economy was run using it? Whether or not your PC worked through Y2K is immaterial, the BIG problem was the enormous mainframe systems that ran the country.

  130. MarkW says:

    Al Gored says:
    February 24, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    Y2K was not a mistake, it was a design decision based on the the costs of computer storage at the time. The people who made those decisions were for the most part retired, if not dead by the time Y2K rolled around.

    Iraq was not based on lies. Saddam had both WMDs and WMD programs. Both were found after the war.

  131. “So are they saying that like the Y2K problem, through proper planning, mitigation, and preparation then AGW will be a non issue? I’m not sure I understand the analogy”

    I think the analogy part comes into play when you look at the hysterical reaction to Y2K. Working in the industry where Y2K was the core issue, I should point that software programmers fix bugs all the time. That’s their job. Y2K was just another bug that had to be addressed in some cases. Days, weeks or months dealing with that on the list, then onto the next set of issues. This was always business as usual.

    But I can observe three prominent groups in the saga:

    (1)
    The media beat-up. Went completely over the top exaggerating the scale of the issue and focusing on one particular issue, taking it completely out of context.

    (2)
    A small group of ‘experts’ who focused on Y2K issues. It was to their benefit to do a beat up and scare people as that generated income from any fear they created. The media loved it.

    (3)
    The vast majority of working programmers (such as myself). We had work to do and just got on with it. Y2K for the products I was responsible for was a real issue of course. And it took a day or two to sort it out before moving onto more important or critical issues. On average a programming team such as mine deals with about 300 issues a year. Y2K was 1 of that 300.

    Now, looking at the media group and the ‘expert’ group, I and my associates just shock our heads in wonder.

  132. There were also many imbedded subroutines that used dates in calculations that were not directly related to the date.
    Date was a handy index used for many other things, like making log filenames unique etc.

    The legacy of the 2 digit date not only stems from the cost of hardware and to stream line code but in the beginning most programming was done on 80 column computer punch cards, and saving 2 characters was important.

    The computer I used on board ship in 1970-72 (Univac 1218) had 16k of memory and 4 microsecond cycle time on memory operations. It took us 8 hours to tape sort a 186,000 line item stock status file. Back then programmers took code efficiency seriously due to the physical limitations of the hardware and if you could avoid reading, and calculating with 2 additional characters several million times a day, it added up to to lots of precious computer time.

    As computers got faster they did not go back and re-code all those routines, they simply moved them to the new machine with as little modification as possible. Maintenance coding was a major cost of doing business, you did not screw around with code that did what it was intended to do unless you had a good reason to muck with it.

    I was on duty at one of Sun MicroSystems data centers that night. It was mostly a non-event for us, but there were a couple of minor glitches. The unix based systems generally had less problems with this than the older big iron mainframes coded in Cobal or other older languages that were in use when punch card decks were often used for input of 80 column data.

    Anyone with any experience with computers knows from first hand experience how such an imbedded bug might not show up for a considerable period of time, so not everything would or did show up at the stroke of midnight. Monthly reports and such that were only run occasionally might depend on a date based computation for some decision tree unrelated to the date specifically but simply use it as a reference that made it easy to sort groups with.

    In fairness Y2K was also a good excuse to do some seriously needed recoding of very old software and perform other upgrades in hardware and software.

    Larry

  133. Phil says:

    Dale said on February 24, 2012 at 1:11 pm:

    (snip) …AGW is NOT comparative to Y2K. Y2K was a problem that lots of people tested, proved and fixed. The only similarity between the two is the MSM has taken the alarmist story and scared people.

    CAGW is also not testable. Everything is proof of CAGW: warm winters, cold winters, storms, droughts, etc. When its few predictions don’t show up (the troposphere hot spot, warming in excess of current levels even in the case of no emissions, etc.), something is always claimed to explain the discrepancy. The worst thing, however, is that proponents of CAGW want to force solutions on people that are wildly expensive and yet are not expected to provide any meaningful solution to the perceived problem:

    Lord Monckton:

    When I visited the House of Lords’ minister, Lord Marland, at the Climate Change Department a couple of years ago, I asked him and the Department’s chief number-cruncher, Professor David Mackay (neither a climate scientist nor an economist, of course) to show me the Department’s calculations detailing just how much “global warming” that might otherwise occur this century would be prevented by the $30 billion per year that the Department was committed to spend between 2011 and 2050 – $1.2 trillion in all.

    There was a horrified silence. The birds stopped singing. The Minister adjusted his tie. The Permanent Secretary looked at his watch. Professor Mackay looked as though he wished the plush sofa into which he was disappearing would swallow him up entirely.

    Eventually, in a very small voice, the Professor said, “Er, ah, mphm, that is, oof, arghh, we’ve never done any such calculation.” The biggest tax increase in human history had been based not upon a mature scientific assessment followed by a careful economic appraisal, but solely upon blind faith. I said as much. “Well,” said the Professor, “maybe we’ll get around to doing the calculations next October.”

  134. Gary Hladik says:

    Very good slides by Lindzen, and good job as usual by Josh.

    My Y2K experience was limited: I just had to verify that all vendor software used by my department was certified (by the vendor) as Y2K-compliant. All claimed compliance and none of it broke. To this day, I’m proud of my part in preventing global disaster. :-)

    Any real or imagined crisis is a potential source of humor (e.g. Josh and CAGW). I still remember this Nike commercial:

  135. Eric Simpson says:

    Lindzen, aside from saying AGW is “science in the service of politics,” and that “warming would reduce rather than increase tropical storms,” says: “Claims… that man’s activity have contributed to warming are trivially true but essentially meaningless.”
    Piers Corbyn, in a comment, takes it further: “Observational evidence gives the possibility that the net effect of CO2 increases on World temperatures may not be ‘only trivial’ but in fact miniscule, zero, or even negative due to errors in some of the science some claim or – I would suggest – hitherto not understood feed-back and competing processes…”
    I say that the effect of CO2 doesn’t amount to a hill of beans. Or, to put it another way, I have two main points: there is nothing wrong with the climate (no h stick), and CO2 has nothing, or effectively nothing, to do with it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WK_WyvfcJyg

  136. peter_dtm says:

    Y2K broke down into two areas :
    Main frame : very real and a major effort had to be put in place to ensure a bug known about since the banks found it in 1970 was finally removed. Really bad programming practices were allowed to continue up to 1998.
    Non Main Frame – PC and other devices lies and media scare mongering coupled with the abysmal knowledge joe public has about how computers work made some scam artists millions.

    Example – I had to certify for a well known cable and wireless telco that the stat muxes (statistical multiplexers) were Y2K compliant; because they have ‘clocks’ in them (crystal oscillators ). I could NOT convince the rep that a crystal oscillator does not give a damn about time and date.
    Example – a well know Process control system which had a clock display on the operator screen; had to be certified (code taken apart) to prove no date time usage by the code. This despite the no use of date time clocks anywhere else in the system being well documented.- Most industrial systems were immune; demonstrably so; but still had to be certified on a per factory/power station basis; absolute ignorant paranoia driven by media and ‘consultant’ hype.
    Example – Small businesses replacing perfectly good pc code/programs because the charlatans did not do the simple roll forward test that was recommended for such businesses; which gave an audit trail of compliance for the original programs – after all having charged over £100 to check 3 pc’s they had to show something for the 2 hours it actually should have taken to do a compliance audit.

    So; all you main frame coders – yes you worked hard on what should have been a none problem and averted all sorts of nasties.

    I spent 30 dec 1999 to 2 jan 200 being paid stupid amounts of money ‘stood by’ for a problem that we knew did not exist. None of the major dcs (distributed control system) providers had any problems even in countries which had not installed so called Y2K compliant updates. That covers refineries; pharmaceutical; food and manufacturing industry : globally.

    The waste of time and money outside the main frame community; and the rip offs and fraud carried out out was disgusting

  137. James of the West says:

    In no way is the millenium bug science equivalent to the issues with alarmist predictions of catastrophic global warming in terms of the underlying reality.

    I can tell you that during testing in 98 and 99 with moving clocks forward on critical business systems we uncovered several dozen issues some of which took a month or more of programming to resolve and others were simply unfixable or uneconomical to fix and we replaced those systems prior to the millenium rollover.

    The millenium bug in the end was a non-issue only because so much effort was put into identifying and rectifying non compliant hardware and software, so at its heart was a real and true issue. The only similarity to alarmist warming situation is the media overplay typical with any doomsday prediction being a newsworthy story and a similar lack of understanding of the underlying facts by journalists in general.

  138. 1DandyTroll says:

    “REPLY: Generally when an individual calls out another, or derides them in some manner, they have the courage to put a name to accusations. ”

    I’m sorry but in all things you do the most common people who try to defunk you are PR hippies!

    The most common person who calls you out, don’t readily print their name, and usually work for Big Green, go figure.

    Most of the times, in your context, when people put a name to an accusation . . . it’s not their name they sign to boot.

    Usually, the “evil” blogger just delete the idiot’s message and then laugh at him complaining all over. :p

  139. Sensorman says:

    Slightly OT, but I still use an HP9000/310 to control some lab instrumentation. It has run fine since 1986 (!) with just a single change of onboard lithium cell. OS is HP “Rocky Mountain” Basic 4.03, and I wondered whether it would cope with Y2K – Jan 1 came and went, with no problems (and no intervention).

    But 2000 was a leap year, and the date & time went “invalid” on Feb 29, and never recovered – now I have to load it manually when I power up. Never heard of any other instances of this Y2K “variant” issue but I guess most folk might have upgraded h/w or s/w a little earlier…

    On CAGW, I sincerely wonder how anyone could read Nigel Lawson’s “An Appeal to Reason” and still defend the “mitigation” corner.

  140. Bob Diaz says:

    The Y2K Bug is a good example of NOT reporting on all the facts and only presenting data to match the fear that TV Stations were promoting.

    Both Unix and MACs use a binary number to calculate the date. The number is a count of the number of seconds from a given date. Because it’s not base 10, the year 2000 has no different meaning in binary.

    The real problem was ONLY when the computer used a BCD (Binary Coded Decimal) to calculate the date AND they had to use only 2 digits for the year AND the program used the BCD Year to calculate length of time.

    The news media suggested that some line of code that needed to be fixed would be “hidden” in millions of lines of code. However, the truth was that most software defines variables at the front of the code. A programmer could quickly find the variable for year and use the FIND Function in the editor to see where it’s used. No need to search through “millions of lines of code”. The News Media knew nothing about programming in the same way they know nothing about telling the truth.

    By the way, our alarm clock had a Y2K bug, we can’t set a date beyond 2000. We solved the problem by setting the date to a year 28 years ago. Every 28 years the pattern of day of week to day repeats for every given month. Our clock thinks it’s 1984.

  141. “The millenium bug in the end was a non-issue only because so much effort was put into identifying and rectifying non compliant hardware and software, so at its heart was a real and true issue”

    This is where the misrepresentation comes into play. Hard to quantify but maybe for 1% of the software out there in service it was a big issue. For 10% it was a moderate issue and for up to 25% it was a minor issue.

    Ultimately, though, so what? Software companies and programming teams deal with critical, moderate and minor issues every day before and after the year 2000. One issue, however — this one — was exaggerated to hysterical proportions. That is why the comparison with CAGW is on the money.

    The fact that the issue was grossly exaggerated was self evident by the fact that literally no problems were observed in the days after the new year. If “so much effort” was required to resolve the huge issue that it apparently was, it’s remarkable that it appears nobody messed up. Either there was a near 100% score or some people still want to rewrite what actually happened back then.

    And BTW, one of our older packages, nearly a quarter of a century old, died at the start of this year due to a date issue of another sort. Such is life.

  142. Alan Wilkinson says:

    Interesting that so many IT professionals are AGW sceptics. Probably because we spend our lives looking for logic errors. And quite a few come from science and engineering backgrounds so have some strings in our bow on that side too.

  143. DesertYote says:

    Sensorman
    February 24, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    Slightly OT, but I still use an HP9000/310 to control some lab instrumentation. It has run fine since 1986 (!) with just a single change of onboard lithium cell. OS is HP “Rocky Mountain” Basic 4.03, and I wondered whether it would cope with Y2K – Jan 1 came and went, with no problems (and no intervention).
    ###

    Now your talking my language. I happen to be pretty familiar with all of your topics. A buddy of mine just had his system bomb, after over 20 years!

  144. The media beat-up did a lot of damage to the reputation of the IT industry; especially after the 1st of January, 2000. The sensalionalist media and the supporting merchants of woe weren’t hounded.

    My Y2k disaster strategy was to keep backups, some paper and pencils. It was implausible that the supply chain for food, etc would be disrupted in a free-market economy; where it’s in the interests of suppliers to ensure continuity of supply. And if one failed to supply, others would take up the slack and profit.

    Contrary to what has been expressed by some, the Y2k problem wasn’t just in “legacy” systems or in older software. Throughout the 1990’s I worked for a small company that adapted major application software for the needs of local customers. Throughout most of those years; certainly well into 1998, other “programmers” were still coding Y2k bugs. And they got really, really upset when I pointed out the flaws and offered robust ways in which they could achieve the result that they wanted. They were upset because 1) they had to learn something new; and 2) because they were trying to meet a deadline promised by a marketing mangler. Some had the nerve to argue that their new code had to be “consistent”.

    As a result, fresh code with *known* Y2k bugs was still being “shipped” in 1998 and likely well into 1999.

    Worth noting also that Unix-like systems were not immune to the Y2K bug … as at least one commenter suggested. The Y2k bug arose out of the need for an external representation for the date; for communicating with users and disparate systems (EDI, etc); systems which had (and still have) legacy formats for dates rooted in the 1970’s and earlier. And although hardware capabilities increased dramatically in the 1980’s, software was locked into backward capability; making the new hardware behave like the old stuff because everybody wanted to stick to “a standard”.

    There hasn’t been a substantial shift from that mind-set. Diversity isn’t valued as a strength, one which provides resilience so that at least some systems if there’s a zero-day event in one type of system. The effort to keep everything the same seems to me to far outweigh the efforts necessary to cope with disparate, diverse systems. (Similarities with those seeking a stable climate.)

    BTW: One chilling effect of Y2k compliance measures was that the compliance stickers were sometimes placed in a way that compromised the operation of the equipment.

  145. Chris B says:

    Exp says:
    February 24, 2012 at 8:37 am
    Gotta love the banner on Watts’ site here as the purest of ironies. Post after post of anti-AGW propaganda and politics.

    Sorry fellas, but one way skepticism is not scientific skepticism.

    Oh yes, you guys are the good guys!

    I’m a bit stunned as to how people can become so disturbingly self-deluded. How perfectly you reflect what you claim are the worst traits of your opponents. Group Think does that.

    I know Anthony, You have an answer for that and will not allow the comment. Confirmation.

    ______________________________-

    Is your website as successful?

  146. evanmjones says:

    Not even a price scanner in Kmart failed

    The only thing that failed that I know of is Hansen’s code, which spuriously increased warming trends for several years.

    But that’s okay. He subsequently readjusted it all (again) — and the increased warming “adjustment” lives.

    Nothing to see here. Move along.

  147. Charles.U.Farley says:

    Pretty much parallels the whole agw scam if you think about it.

    Hype up the issue and turn it into a threatening scenario to get the punters to buy into it.
    “One time only, do it now, save yourself from the bug”, blah blah flipping blah…
    And so to agw, “Do it now, save the planet, millions will die, pay us money to save yourself” blah blah blah.

  148. TerryT says:

    I don’t like the comparison between Y2K and AGW. I’ve been a systems programmer on IBM z/OS systems (mainframes) since the 80s, and it was a real problem that needed addressing with the number of programs that had a 2 digit date field for the Year.

    That companies milked it for all it was worth in tax concessions is another thing.

  149. GabrielHBay says:

    Ugh… I am SO sick of people who know nothing about Y2K making these stupid comparisons. As someone who personally had to scramble to resolve Y2K problems, I can say with confidence:

    Repeat after me:
    1. Potential date problems, some pretty serious, with the crossover were VERY real.
    2. Because the serious application software world is probably a helluvva lot more stringent and competent that many others, the problems were largely successfully addressed, some of it just in time.
    3. The fact that hardly anything noticable happened was a tribute to the effort put in, and I am sure many programmers were holding breath in case they missed something.
    4. Ok, so the media were pretty ignorant too. (So what’s new)

    So all you outsiders who noticed nothing… give it a rest and be thankfull. There is no significant common ground with the CAGW nonsense. PLEASE!

    (BTW, if I remember correctly, the next date handling problem is potentially around 2032 with Unix-like systems still running 32 bit, if any. Integer size, counting the seconds from 1950, the Unix reference point for dates, to current date at the time, being too small. You can work it out. Dunno if it has been addressed to date. Doubt if I shall still be programming at that time… )

  150. John Marshall says:

    CO2 atmospheric content has not doubled over the past 150 years! Measurements in the late 1800’s shows a CO2 content of around 490ppmv using the same methods as used today so in fact they have fallen.

  151. Doug Cotton says:

    Of course it is a mistake. The mistake lies in assuming that absorptivity measurements made with visible light will still apply for much lower frequency radiation from the atmosphere. They don’t, and in fact such absorptivity factors, when the source is cooler than the target, must be zero.

    Maybe this solar cooker funnel experiment will help you and others understand better ….

    You simply cannot explain what happens to the extra radiation in my funnel experiment from the much larger (though slightly cooler) plate to the smaller one. Clearly far more radiation gets concentrated onto the small plate, yet heat flow must be from hot to cold, ie opposite to net flow.

    Net radiative flow has no corresponding physical entity and is a meaningless concept. You cannot add different beams of radiation like you can add forces. Yes there is two-way radiation, but heat only flows one way because only the radiation from hot to cold has any effect. So how does this happen? What physical mechanism is involved? My point is that, in the funnel experiment, you cannot just calculate net radiative flux and assume heat goes in the same direction, because it doesn’t.

    So “net radiation” is not a physical mechanism which tells us which direction heat will transfer, or how much will be transferred.

    Study this diagram: http://climate-change-theory.com/freqdist.jpg and note that the distribution for a cooler temperature is always fully contained within that for a warmer temperature.

    The effect that radiation from the hotter source has is that the excess over that which can resonate with the cooler one is converted to thermal energy. When radiation resonates like this there is no termal energy left behind and the radiation immediately exits just as if it had been reflected with diffuse reflection, not specular.

    Radiation which fits under the curve of the cooler one can resonate either way (hot to cold or cold to hot) because those frequencies are common to hot and cold bodies. Such radiation is scattered and the effect is the same as diffuse reflection. The warmer body can scatter any amount of such energy without its own outward radiation being affected and without receiving any thermal energy from the cooler one.

    What happens when the Sun is warming the surface in the morning? The net flow of radiation is into the surface, right? So how could the IPCC models be right in saying extra thermal energy (also from radiation in the same direction) flows from cool atmosphere to warm surface against the Second Law.

    The Second Law must apply to every individual “transaction” or radiated beam between any two points. You cannot just say all will be fixed up that evening when net flow is finally outwards. Besides, the energy might come back out by diffusion or evaporation rather than radiation.

    There are no two ways about it. Only radiation from hot to cold can transfer thermal energy. That from cold to hot does nothing. The amount transferred is represented by the extra frequencies / extra radiation in the area between the curves because these frequencies (coming from the hot body) are only in its distribution and thus cannot resonate with the cooler body. (The result is the same as SBL calculations in normal situations, but SBL does not give the right answer for a funnel.) In contrast, all the frequencies in the cooler body’s radiation can resonate with the warmer one.

    For more detail see the ‘Radiation’ page my website http://climate-change-theory.com and a paper (which I have oompleted) will be available in due course – to be advised.

  152. Brian H says:

    WAC, exp, and others seem not to comprehend the meaning of “trivially true”. It means that there is almost by definition an effect, but that this is not a useful or important fact. Lindzen is quite explicit that he further means only trivially true. There are no particular consequences to be derived from the “fact”, much less drastic ones.

  153. Brian H says:

    Berndt;
    “old scripts to produce a 2-gidit year” I was programming around that time, too, but I never had to deal with “gidits”! Are they a German thing?

    ;)

  154. Chris Wright says:

    As many people have pointed out, the Y2K bug was demonstrable and real, and the reason it didn’t cause a huge problem was that huge amounts of money had been spent to fix it.
    A far better comparison would be with all the phrophesies of doom dating from the 70’s, from people like Paul Erlich. According to those idiots, civilisation would have crashed and burned by 2000 (precisely when the Y2K bug didn’t cause a problem). In fact the last decades of the 20th century saw unparallelled prosperity and also the end of the Cold War. It’s strange how prosperity and warming periods seem to have such a strong correlation. There’s been no global warming for at least ten years – and look at the state we’re in now!
    This is an excellent piece, particularly as the Independent is not noted for its climate scepticism. Clearly the writer isn’t a climate expert (he stated that Co2 had doubled – it probably won’t happen, if ever, until roughly the end of this century). It was also remarkable to see the amount of global warming (0.7 degrees C) actually stated. It’s such an embarrassingly small amount that it never gets mentioned by the likes of the BBC.
    Clearly the writer was impressed by Richard Lindzen, who is a true scientist. If only some of our politicians such as David Cameron could spend some time with him….
    Chris

  155. ozspeaksup says:

    Silver Ralph says:
    February 24, 2012 at 9:28 am

    Just to put this article in its proper perspective, the Independent is the Greenest of Green publications – with every newspaper produced on recycled paper and offset with a newly planted tree, and three herrings given to a seal.**

    Thus this is a little bit like Al Gore declaring he has doubts about AGW.

    ** Fish are not cuddly, so its ok to kill them.
    =====================
    waaah waaaah you wanna kill a “sea Kitten” whaaa whaaa
    PETA will be looking for you:-)

    .

  156. mkurbo says:

    We have been saying this for 15 years and its still the appropriate analoogy.

  157. MarkW says:

    Berndt;
    “old scripts to produce a 2-gidit year” I was programming around that time, too, but I never had to deal with “gidits”! Are they a German thing?

    I’ve dealt with a Gidget or two, is that close enough?

  158. Dabble says:

    In 2003, I responded to an IT services tender in the UK for a public sector organisation (which shall remain nameless). I had to fill in a section about Y2K policies……

  159. Andrew Krause says:

    OMG, we have to expand the size of a data field! Call for consultants, lets get some cover here if things go wrong! Yes, Y2K was a farce. The grunts loved the work,change the code, reset the date to midnight and test the result, over and over and over again. Every IT body in existence was on call when the clock stuck 12:00. It was the worst New Year ever.

  160. MarkW says:

    Andrew Krause says:
    February 25, 2012 at 7:43 am

    You quite obviously know nothing about how software is written or maintained.
    Depending on system limitations, expanding a datafield can sometimes result in the entire program having to be rewritten. It’s not as simple as changing a define and recompiling. Beyond that there is all the testing to make sure that your change did not affect anything unexpected.

  161. Rob Potter says:

    Many people are commenting that Y2K was real and therefore not like CAGW, but in one sense they are very similar – the way they have both been jumped on by people with very cynical motives.

    Y2K was blown up to sell lots and of new computers and software, the vast majority of which were not needed. Yes, many programs did need modifying, but – as has been noted by quite a few posters here – these were identified quite a long time in advance and the modifications made. The key evidence here is the timing – posters here talk of starting work on Y2K “bugs” 5, 6, or even 7 years prior to 31 december 1999 – yet the hype was only in the last 12-18 months, as was the massive IT infrastructure spending.

    In terms of damage, there is also an analogy in that mis-allocation of funds causes unsustainable bubbles in certain sectors. For example, in Ottawa (and I suspect many other IT clusters), the 1999 boom in IT spending was followed by a slump lasting over 4 years as companies simply ceased to make any upgrades in the wake of being “burned” over Y2K. A large part of the 2000/2001 downturn (now relatively forgotten after 2008) was attributed to the bursting of the “internet” bubble – linked closely to the reaction to the non-Y2K disaster.

    On the whole, there are lessons to be learned from Y2K which can be applied to climate change even if they are not directly comparable and the biggest one – in my mind – is that human beings have a massive residual store of ingenuity to overcome real problems. Creating disaster scenarios helps no-one.

  162. michael hart says:

    You would think that persons who profess the greatest concern for the environment would be mightily relieved to learn that earth is apparently not careering towards hell in a handcart.
    Yet when this is pointed out, some seem to get even more shrill in their denunciations of those who are sceptical about their claims. Just no pleasing some people.

  163. Max Hugoson says:

    My Brother, the “night of the turn over” was paid TRIPLE TIME, (as a facilities engineer) to STAY OVER NIGHT at the headquarters of a large electronics firm (180,000 employees at the time.)

    He did a lot of internet surfing (SURFS UP! NETWORK WAS UP!) Ate a lot of dougnuts and coffee, chatted with the night guards and laughed all the way to the bank with his $1700 he got for 20 hours of “work”….

    I have a LOT of programmer friends. MANY of whom “bit the bullet” and did 60 hour weeks doing NONSENSE WORK (they knew it) but at $90 a hour with O.T., they pulled down close to $250K for the year.

    Now, would THEY tell anyone willing to pay them that, “THIS IS NONSENSE, SILLY, and STUPID?”

    OK, now let’s get to the “TEAM”….

    Who proudly trot out their graduate student or post Doc SLAVES and say, “See they don’t earn that much…” where in actuality many of them make $120 to $160 per year …due to their time, seniority and position. NOT BAD CA-CHING compared to NORMAL people.

    It’s about the MONEY!

    Secondly the POWER…

    Max

  164. Rhys Jaggar says:

    I must say that this is a major change. The Independent was one of the true hellfire and brimstone warming papers in the UK for many years. Perhaps the change of ownership to Alexander Lebedev, a Russian Oligarch, may be partly responsible for the change?

    Whatever the reasons, I welcome a shift to open-mindedness, to skeptical evidence-based journalism.

    Perhaps the threat to Press Freedom on the back of the hacking/bugging/buying off public officials scandal, still ongoing with the Leveson Enquiry, is also contributing to a culture of ‘what will it take to restore ethics, probity and respect to UK journalism?’

    Whatever the reasons, it is an important step along the road, one I hope that continues until 2020.

  165. Chuck says:

    I agree with the comments on the last page of Richard Lindzen’s presentation that it’s time to stop using the the word “skeptic” and replace it with something like “realist.” “Skeptic” makes it sound like we don’t even agree with the most basic accepted facts given at the beginning of his presentation when it’s the unfounded alarmism, wild speculation, and imperative to act that we don’t agree with.

  166. Brian H says:

    The In-Dope-Pendant’s headline would have been fine if the phrase “.like the Millennium Bug,” had been omitted.

  167. Aussie says:

    I have to agree with the people who have pointed out that the Y2K bug was in fact a real problem. The difference is that the IT specialists were working behind the scenes trying to find and fix those bugs in a lot of systems.

    Microsoft came out with Windows ME at the time to replace Windows98 or whatever version preceded the Windows ME. I would imagine that those who changed their OS had no problem because of the effort by Microsoft to try and avoid a problem.

    That is only one software company and it is only one side of the problem that had existed. I worked in accounts at the time and the system in use was old. The company had to move from something called Distrib which was extremely outdated to a new system. I think that this is actually the crux of the issue because a lot of small firms were using very outdated software that was about to fall over when the Y2 problem was hitting.

    In this case mitigation worked and at the stroke of midnight nothing extraordinary happened. Our computer systems did not break down and the press brouha was an absolute joke… just like their brouha in 1984…. and now look what is happening!!! Cameras are on the streets everywhere….

  168. Aussie says:

    BTW EXP is an Aussie troll. It would be a good idea not to feed this particular troll and ignore him

    [ESP? Vice EXP. Robt]

  169. Pooh, Dixie says:

    Well, let me suggest an effective approach that worked. We had some really large systems. We were pretty sure that little or no detail maintenance would be done; not sexy enough.
    We specified what we called a Federal Date; yyyymmdd. Despite derision, we used it from 1975 on.
    The approach? Plan ahead. Avoid problems.

  170. Common Sense says:

    “There is no parallel between Y2K and cAGW – because the former was a real and potentially serious problem and the latter almost certainly is not.”

    Agreed. I was working for a mutual fund company, we spent about 2 years fixing mainframe code to keep the system from shutting down, plus all of the ancillary systems. My Dad and my sisters, also in IT, worked on many different projects, including a waste water treatment plant. If that one wasn’t fixed, the wrong amount of chemicals would have been released at the wrong time, poisoning the water supply.

    We were all on alert that night, and the only thing we saw that failed was the time/date on some other website.

  171. Doug Cotton says:

    This is typical of the type of mistake which is made when trying to explain the (radiative) greenhouse conjecture. On his website Dr RoySpencer wrote this very strange comment when trying to “prove ” that the Second Law is not violated.

    But the same objections could be made against many systems which create very high temperatures. You can pump energy into a system at a certain rate, and insulate the system so that it cannot lose heat easily and thus increase temperatures to very high levels.

    And he seemed to imply this “heat furnace” concept applies in the atmosphere. Let me quote Wikipedia (Second Law .. ) The second law declares the impossibility of machines that generate usable energy from the abundant internal energy of nature by processes called perpetual motion of the second kind.

    Any “pumping” up of temperatures in the atmosphere would have to raise the temperature up there to more than the surface temperature at the time before any spontaneous radiation from the atmosphere would warm the surface.

    It cannot happen, Roy, and it doesn’t.

    And before you come back at me with discussion of “net” radiation, tell me what physical entity you think net radiation actually corresponds to. Are two rays on opposite sides of the World (day and night) going to have a combined effect? Hardly! Nor would they even if only a metre apart in parallel with each other.

    The only way any effect of radiation in one direction can be altered by radiation in the other direction is via thermal energy addition. This means the energy in each ray has to be converted to thermal energy first. After all, the energy might exit the surface by evaporation or some other non-radiative process.

    Each ray has to be considered as a separate process. So any conversion to thermal energy involving radiation from a cooler atmosphere to a warmer surface violates the Second Law. Other rays in the opposite direction cannot justify the violation.

    The reason it does not happen is because the absorptivity of the surface does in fact reduce to zero for radiation coming from a cooler source. Such radiation merely resonates or is “rejected” in some way, just as if it underwent diffuse reflection. Only radiation from hot to cold counts when it comes to anything to do with temperatures of the target.

    My funnel experiment proves that his must be the case and that the warmer surface can in fact handle any amount of such radiation without it affecting its own rate of emission or its temperature.

    (I give notice that I have submitted a paper on this and do not wish to reveal the explanatory mechanism detailed in that paper at this point for obvious reasons.)

  172. Anomaly UK says:

    The parallel between Y2K and AGW was made before 2000 by people panicked over both, such as Lawrence Lessig – http://code-is-law.org/conclusion_excerpt.html

    As to the “reality” of Y2K, it was probably about 20% real: those systems which simply could not be allowed to go wrong had to be (expensively) tested and fixed in advance, and I do not doubt those above who say they did vital work on electrical systems and the like. My own experience was that it would have been far cheaper to deal with problems as they arise, and I believe that is more typical of ordinary business IT, which is the majority of software development

  173. dak says:

    On 1st January 2000 I was making money at a rate of £30,000/hour :)

    Sadly, not for very long :(

    I am an IT consultant and I have seen more Y2K problems in the past five years than I did at the end of 1999.

    dak

  174. Brian H says: February 25, 2012 at 3:35 am
    Berndt;
    “old scripts to produce a 2-gidit year” I was programming around that time, too, but I never had to deal with “gidits”! Are they a German thing?
    ;)

    If you’re going to comment on typed text where lysdexia lures, you should endeavour to spell my name correctly unless you seek to self-depricate in one fell swoop.

  175. Brian H says:

    Bernd;
    You’re right! I can dig it! I even gid it.
    ;/
    Bad puns aside, does your name end with the ‘d’ sound when spoken, or ‘t’ like “Berndt”?

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