the Air Vent

Because the world needs another opinion


Posted by Jeff Id on August 13, 2009

This is an unusual post for the Air Vent but it represents my mood tonight. If you’re ever going to start a blog the one simple thing I can say is be honest about yourself.
Today I’ve had an odd discussion with an RC moderator who doesn’t seem to get math, a strange conversation with a man from another country, emails accusing me of things I didn’t do and another amazing peer reviewed paper. It’s just been a strange day.
If serious climate science wasn’t so funny, what would we do.


Global warming causing birds to shrink

Global warming is making birds smaller, according to new research from the Australian National University.

Climate change is being blamed because varieties of the same birds tend to be smaller near the equator and larger closer to the poles to help them conserve heat more efficiently.

A study of museum specimens found eight Australian species have reduced in size by between two and four percent over the past century.

It’s astounding that our instruments are so sensitive a 2 percent reduction in bird size can be detected amongst all the other influences. Birdmometers have apparently reached the pinnacle of modern mometry.

I’ve located what is purported to be an engineering diagram of a next generation birdmometer. I’m not sure how it works.

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

So first we had the Sheep, then it was fish and now they can detect that birds are shrinking all due to global warming caused by the fat Americans.

In summary:

effects of global warming———-
Which leads to this point………….


Ckick to play

23 Responses to “Climatoknowledgy.”

  1. Antonio San said

    That may also explain all those commercials for you know, Extenzion…

  2. Ralph B said

    I have a theory that global warming has lead to increased trimming of pubic hair in women. If you compare porn from the 40’s to that of today there is a marked difference in grooming of the pubic region.

    I am still waiting my grant to study this further, I am thinking it is in the stimulus.

  3. ThomasL said

    A study of museum specimens…

    I guess there isn’t much point in even bringing it up, but did they consider selection bias? No one wants to go to a museum to see a stuffed, totally average crocodile, they want to see a gigantic stuffed crocodile.

    I imagine the selection of the best, be that in context fluffiest, biggest, most colorful, etc. is pretty normal for any museum display.

    Hard to imagine the conversation when they were out collecting specimens going, “Oh, catch that one! That one! It looks dead average!”

  4. Jeff Id said

    #2 Keep it clean. Some pun sum serious… hehe.

  5. Mark T said

    Hmm, I’d be thinking “oh catch that little one, it’s the least likely to kill me!” Then, of course, I’d ultimately have a museum chock full of stuffed alligators from the local carnival. What, these aren’t real?


  6. John said

    So three things we eat get smaller over time. Could we be eating the big ones and pray tell how does one distinguish between a decline in size due to tastyness and one due to ‘global warming’?

  7. curious said

    Gem! 🙂

  8. Tony Hansen said

    I heard a woman (a co-author) being interviewed on the radio this afternoon. Apparently no doubt that it is global warming!!
    They ruled out nutrition as a factor – just how she didn’t say.
    And they know that birds are bigger in cold climates too – I guess that is why there are big mobs of emu and ostrich in Siberia and Canada……

  9. Pierre Gosselin said

    You need to take a holiday.
    Here in Europe we take 3 or 4 weeks for summer holidays. Now you might think that’s impossible to do, too busy, too much on your plate etc., but it really does help. You come back fresh and with energy. You’d be surprised how much more productive you are afterwards. Too many Americans are simply muddling through one burnout phase to the other. Leave the cell phone, blackberry, laptop etc. home. Go out and have fun – for 3 weeks!

  10. Jeff Id said

    #9 Sounds good.

    I did this post in between working on statistics in the Antarctic. I thought the article linked above was hilarious.

    Tony, it’s amazing they are serious.

    I wonder if “the global warming” actually caused the birdmometers to grow in size by 2% and that caused the shrinkage of the birds.

    I just want to know if she started giggling in the commercials. This work is typically funded by Grant Money. It’s hilarious and embarrassing to think a conclusion like that could make it through peer review. On the other thread I was having a discussion with Dave the RC moderator that blogs are not a good place to discuss science and serious work should only be discussed in peer review journals.

    If this came across your desk and you were asked to review it what would you do! We can be sure nobody will ever refute it because it’s such a special paper they won’t waste 3 hours of math on it. Just another day in opposite world.

  11. Dean said

    It’s important to differentiate between what the study says and what the press reports say. Press reports frequently misinterpret study results on global warming, like they do on food and nutrition issues.

  12. MikeN said

    Sen. Stabenow says she can feel the effect of global warming when she flies.

  13. Jeff Id said

    #11, I can only hope you’re right.

  14. Layman Lurker said

    #11 & #13

    Here is the abstract:

  15. Jeff Id said

    Thanks Lurk,

    Intraspecific latitudinal clines in the body size of terrestrial vertebrates, where members of the same species are larger at higher latitudes, are widely interpreted as evidence for natural selection and adaptation to local climate. These clines are predicted to shift in response to climate change. We used museum specimens to measure changes in the body size of eight passerine bird species from south-eastern Australia over approximately the last 100 years. Four species showed significant decreases in body size (1.8–3.6% of wing length) and a shift in latitudinal cline over that period, and a meta-analysis demonstrated a consistent trend across all eight species. Southern high-latitude populations now display the body sizes typical of more northern populations pre-1950, equivalent to a 7° shift in latitude. Using ptilochronology, we found no evidence that these morphological changes were a plastic response to changes in nutrition, a likely non-genetic mechanism for the pattern observed. Our results demonstrate a generalized response by eight avian species to some major environmental change over the last 100 years or so, probably global warming.

    They eliminated nutrition which probably isn’t possible. Somehow extracted natural pressures on the species and determined… guh yup – it must be global warming!

  16. ELC said

    If I interpret the Telegraph article correctly, the variegated fairy-wren has experienced a 3.6 percent decrease in (average) wing length. According to Wikipedia, the average length of the variegated fairy-wren is 5.5 to 6 inches. (I suppose that is from end to end, including beak and tail.) I would guess (I admit I’m guessing about things, which is a lot more than some scientists will admit) the wing length would be no more 3 inches. If I calculate correctly, 3.6 percent of 3 inches is roughly eleven one-hundredths (0.011) of an inch. Even if my figures are only approximately correct, we are still talking about changes in length that are measured in one or two tenths of inches, using specimens some which have been dead for a century and a half.

    I’m glad to see that I’m not the only one greeting this “scientific pronouncement” with a hearty guffaw.

  17. Mark T said

    Eleven one-hundredths = 0.11. 🙂


  18. Bruce said

    I thought answer was obvious ….

    It has warmed a little since the end of the Little Ice Age. If its warmer, less birds and baby birds die from hypothermia (cold … etc). Therefore birds that once died now survive and those birds were probably the smaller ones.

  19. Page48 said

    Is this a grant funded study? My tax dollars at work – wonderful.

    It’s time to scale back grant funding. I support public funding for what I would define as “necessary” science (medical, national security, agricultural, etc.), but for little else.

  20. curious said

    Another species is feeling the pinch:

    “‘Stress’ is shrinking polar bears”

    Apparently the stress is linked to sea ice extent (graphed at the end of the article).

  21. Jeff Id said

    #20 Jeezus. 2-9% We’re surrounded by stupid.

  22. 33noa333 said

    aligators are moving to Alaska
    and white bear further north
    well it might happen ?

  23. milan mitic said




    Erosion trigger channel + huge tides = huge erosion of land tidal channels
    = low cost excavation with erosion
    = land desalination
    = more clouds
    = more rain
    = cooler climate
    = huge carbon sink


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