The videos seem to play one after another. I noticed at the end of number five that the thought experiment of holding all forcing constant is conducted. They claim that emissions to date produce the delayed warming. But, in fact, to hold forcings constant, you need ongoing emissions and it is these that are responsible for achieving the “in the pipe” warming.
Question for Ch 2.
Why is 1,000 years implied as a basis of comparison, and how does the behaviour of the climate system over last 1,000 years (to present time) compare to other 1,000 year periods. Are there any statistical anomalies (given that attribution of climate thousands of years ago is considerably weaker than present day attribution)?
Implies Non- Condensing Greenhouse Gases are key to planetary temperature. Where is the evidence which suggests that if all the NCGG’s where removed from the atmosphere, the Earth would NOT revert to a permanent El Nino state? It’s coupled.
There are many studies which show the recent warming could be attributed to a weakening in the coupled-system (eg. Proxy records). The video implies changes in solar activity are the most likely alternative hypothesis for recent warming. Isn’t this in stark contrast to the peer reviewed literature? Or is this just patronising the average joe?
Why does it matter if the swings in temperature associated with El Nino and La Nina are not as large as the overall warming? The diurnal temperature range is far greater than global warming, so why worry? Both are non sequiturs. A bowling ball is silky, cool and smooth, so it won’t hurt if I drop it on my toe…..
If it is implied that El Nino cannot be responsible for global warming, then this would be misleading, since El Nino represents only short term changes to the coupled system. As stated above, there is peer reviewed literature showing long term changes to the coupled system are very likely to of occurred in the past.
It’s a treat to see JPR’s name at the top of the credits, as well as those of the ‘group’. Please inform the NAS “climatemodeling” site folks that the text is impossible to read among the grid on the busy background.
Are these people living in a bubble? The graphs and other visual information are at a level far beyond the simple verbal explanations. It seems these scientists are simply convincing themselves (they know what the graphs mean) rather than trying to understand the misconceptions of their target audience. Arguing from authority is not going to work 
I don’t think you can productively talk about science without addressing how it works. Time needs to be taken to explain how deep the science is, and how fraud on this scale is impossible. You might begin to earn trust by showing the difference between science, and its manipulation by both sides of the debate, those who exaggerate it as well as those who deny it.
And don’t snow people with detail they cannot understand. The graph on 20th century climate change deserves a whole chapter, starting with how to read a graph. Explain where the data comes from, and mention it was confirmed by the skeptical BEST group.
I looked at all the videos, and they get worse. In one they flash up a picture of isotopes of carbon when showing why we know the increase in carbon dioxide is anthropogenic. No explanation is given, just this looks impressive, take our word for it.
This is a great example of what not to do. Now toss it out and start again.
4 Iso asks, “Implies Non- Condensing Greenhouse Gases are key to planetary temperature. Where is the evidence which suggests that if all the NCGG’s where removed from the atmosphere, the Earth would NOT revert to a permanent El Nino state?”
Of course there would be no El Ninos without NCGGs, as the planet would freeze over. Besides, what difference does the occurrence, or lack thereof, of El Ninos make? A permanent El Nino reduces natural variability, but you’d have to do some serious work to show that such a thing would make any difference to the concept of climate change.
Who is the intended audience for this video series, and what is the intended effect on that audience?
Tamino commented that “the script reads like a high school textbook” — well, that’s entirely appropriate if the intended audience is high school science classes, and the intended effect is to augment a course on climate science for general educational purposes, which may be the case.
If so, the videos are certainly a lot better than films that I watched in high school science classes 40-45 years ago!
However, it is probably less appropriate and less effective if the intended audience is the general public and the intended effect is to inspire public awareness and concern about the very serious problem we are facing.
Why is ocean acidification never mentioned in this series? Is global warming considered to be so much more consequential, or is this about disciplinary silos, or focussed messaging, or some other reason?
So sad to see so many smart people making the same dumb mistakes in communication. It’s boring. It mashes simplified narration on top of advanced graphs and animations, without explanation. And there’s no story. Come on folks, this is one of the most exciting things happening on the planet today! Jeez.
Comment by Peter Griffith — 10 Oct 2012 @ 10:39 AM
These videos have interesting content, but are marred by terrible writing, editing, and directing.
For one thing, only the worst writers use passive voice, and this one uses it almost exclusively.
The narrator is about as engaging as a stodgy professor that manages to make interesting subjects sound dull because he sounds like he has nearly no emotion himself. Climate scientists love their work, and would do so whether they found evidence for climate change or not.
I think these videos will only succeed at engaging people who are already interested in climate science, who already I understand the basics of how climate works and have taken the time to learn enough to realize that our climate is changing.
This is why I’m studying film making… And why I want to produce videos about climate that are more like the ones Brian Greene has been making with NOVA.
Film is a powerful medium for educating the public, and unfortunately there’s a lot more money in denying it than in explaining it. There is however talent interested in helping the scientists tell their story… Like me. The only catch is that I’m new at visual storytelling…
We all here should remember that we are not the targeted audience of the videos. They are not intended to teach science, but to convince the lowest common denominator viewer (read biggest voting block). This is the group who are manipulated by empty but glitzy product and political TV ads. I would like to see a study of how this group is affected by the videos before suggesting changes. Steve
I would comment if permitted, on the part dealing with the solar variability.
The solar factor appears to be limited to the TSI, only a partial source of natural change (0.1C).
Couple of additional factors to consider:
– There is a strong ‘correspondence’ of the Earth’s magnetic change (which permeates both the hydrosphere and the atmosphere) to the solar output: http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/TMC.htm
– The stronger solar output does not always cause warming (eg. SC19) as graphically shown here:http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/EarthNV.htm
Calculations of the extra ‘solar contributions’ are relatively simple, show good correlation for the period of the ‘reliable instrumental record’ 1880-2011. The assumptions based on the available sunspot records, are in line with the related reconstructions going back to 1700s http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/AMO-recon.htm
Destination of this comment is not certain, thus it will end.
> Chris Dudley
opinions on what produces “delayed” or “in the pipe” warming
— citations needed, uncertainties abound; short or long term matters.
The sea will keep rising and ocean pH changing; consequences follow.
Speaking perhaps as someone closer to “the target audience” and having watched the first two videos, I found some of the comments here a bit harsh. Sure, there are a few aspects I might wish were different, but my overall impression is that the first two videos help to build a strong case that there IS warming, and that it is having significant effects.
Chris Dudley is right here, and it’s a point that wasn’t really appreciated by a lot of climate scientists up until a few years ago.
When talking about “committed climate warming,” the natural way to do so is to only count the emissions to date, but most discussions of warming in the pipeline operate under the assumption that the forcing is held fixed (e.g., at CO2 = 395 ppm). From an emissions standpoint this is arbitrary, and still requires some future CO2 emissions to sustain. At zero future emissions however, CO2 could decline enough to eliminate future warming in the pipeline. It’s an academic point since no one expects CO2 emissions to go to zero, or even to the levels required to stabilize concentration, but it’s a useful fact to recognize from the standpoint of both ocean chemistry and the top-of-atmosphere energy budget.
Back to the topic of video 1, I generally agree with most commentators that there needs to be more effort to explain the graphs, in addition to finding a more engaging speaker. The topics covered are good but the presentation is not relatable to the non-initiated reader. I do like the starting point of explaining what climate is before you try to explain anything else. It seems climate is a concept most people can relate to but don’t know it until it’s pointed out.
The videos are too superficial. The videos might be OK if they were trailers for longer videos that had real scientific content describing, for example, how the isotpopic content of atmospheric CO2 is a marker showing where the CO2 comes from.
This from an October 4, 2012 Scientific American article by Carrie Arnold.
Combating misinformation has proved to be especially difficult in certain scientific areas such as climate science. Despite countless findings to the contrary, a large portion of the population doesn’t believe that scientists agree on the existence of human-caused climate change, which affects their willingness to seek a solution to the problem, according to a 2011 study in Nature Climate Change. (Scientific American is part of Nature Publishing Group.)
Although virtually all climate scientists agree that human actions are changing the climate and that immediate action must be taken, roughly 60 percent of Americans believe that no scientific consensus on climate change exists. This is not a random event, it is the result of a concerted effort by a small number of politicians and industry leaders to instill doubt in the public. They repeat the message that climate scientists don’t agree that global warming is real, is caused by people or is harmful. Thus, the message concludes, it would be premature for the government to take action and increase regulations.
To counter this effort, Maibach and others are using the same strategies employed by climate change deniers. They are gathering a group of trusted experts on climate and encouraging them to repeat simple, basic messages. It’s difficult for many scientists, who feel that such simple explanations are dumbing down the science or portraying it inaccurately. And researchers have been trained to focus on the newest research, Maibach notes, which can make it difficult to get them to restate older information. Another way to combat misinformation is to create a compelling narrative that incorporates the correct information, and focuses on the facts rather than dispelling myths—a technique called “de-biasing.”
I agree, to a point, with most of the comments above. That is, I think that the narrator could be more engaging, the passive voice is a real drawback, the graphs are ‘pitched’ somewhat differently than the verbal explanations, and so on.
But I also agree with Wili, who simply said, “good video.” That sounds contradictory, I know–but I don’t think that the various criticisms, valid though they may be, should be ‘weighted’ quite as heavily as they evidently were for those who made them. These videos are, IMO, a triumph of balancing concision with comprehensiveness. They cover the basics of how we know what we know inside, what, about 15 minutes, and they do so quite understandably and watchably, IMO. I’ll be linking to them in contexts that seem appropriate.
By all means, let’s see some which delve more deeply into the nitty-gritty of how those ice cores are processed, or how the isotopic analysis is carried out. Let’s have some that are more poetic. Let’s have some with sexy, celebrity narrators. Let’s… well, you get the picture. “Let a million flowers blossom,” and “A thousand points of light” shine. (That should cover both ends of the political spectrum!) Maybe we should look at the funding issues…
Meanwhile, we’ve got a useful tool in these videos.
As a layman and Farmer in South Australia I found the videos very useful! sure there is always room for improvement, but this resource is a great start in laymans terms. Many of us struggle to have useful conversations in a political climate of denial, this series will help me and a metric “Aussie” version would be great! A link to my “Climate Change and you” video for my community use. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bBy2ONyW4pw
While most climate scientist would agree that human actions are changing the climate, they disagree on the extent of those changes. You seem to be combining the two into one. This is a basic falsehood in logic; extended the premise that climate changes exists to the damaging consequences thereof. In all fairness, there are those who acknowlege the different opinions of scientists on the extent of the consequences, and assume they disagree on the basic premise.
Richard at #25: Surely “using the same strategies employed by climate change deniers” is the ultimate surrender to the irrational. No wonder it’s difficult for many scientists to swallow the notion they reduce themselves to crude propagandists, at the expense of their credibility. Deliberate (de-)biasing will only create two solitudes.
The models are wrong, global warming has stopped. Climate changes naturally, people have nothing to do with it. And didn’t Climategate prove there was some sort of fraud going on?
For whatever reason, these ideas are in the public mind. Unchallenged, they will prevent people from believing a disconnected alternate narrative. I agree that climate information should not be presented from a defensive position, and maybe we should not literally repeat these words, as I have done here. (I assume that we are all grownups here.) A positive, compelling narrative must also dispel these myths, and do it as soon as possible before it gets tuned out.
These videos completely ignore the notion of uncertainty, which is at the core of any science. Are we supposed to shut up about that, because people are too dumb to handle it? They are going to find out about it from the other side, who get to frame it to their advantage. I say tackle it head on, it is not so difficult, uncertainty is a part of our everyday lives. Make the effort to explain it in terms ordinary people can understand.
The “trust us, we are the experts” approach of these videos may have worked in the 1950’s, but does not cut it today. We need to do better than this, without handing the whole enterprise over to the propaganda theorists.
Watched all the videos. They are decent basic overviews. One glaring omission is the discussion of ocean heat content. When saying the “Earth” is getting warmer, or conversely, as fake skeptics are apt to do, “no warming for the past decade” this over emphasis on the low thermal inertia troposphere misses the bigger energy reservoir of the ocean, which is where of course the majority of the energy from anthropogenic greenhouse warming has gone. Ocean heart content is so glaringly missing from such much discussion of greenhouse warming and so integral to Earth’s non-tectonic energy system, that it seem like a highly teachable moment is lost by its omission in these videos.
Actually, it is a bit more than academic. Responses to step functions are used to interpolate model results because they are considered as a sort of basis set. But, I am beginning to suspect, based on rather unphysical behavior with regard to a step down in emissions following the Green’s function formalism adopted by Hansen et al. (2011), that models need to be run over a range of angular conditions. A climate response function derived from a Heaviside doubling of carbon dioxide concentration may not be straightforwardly applied to other changes in forcing and yield reliable results. It may be that a series of model runs must be carried out to look at steps below a doubling, and response to a sudden drop in forcing needs to be separately investigated.
Carrying out such a program may also turn up weaknesses in the model physical assumptions if the results turn out to be counter-intuitive (the usual reason for strange model results).
I would thus strengthen Hansen et al.’s call for models to derive a climate response function to a call to produce a matrix of such functions that cover intermediate steps up and also steps down.
What is climate? There’s an answer in there but it doesn’t exactly pop out. Since the difference between climate and weather is a source of confusion, it should probably be better developed. Instead the video jumped into climate change with hardly a breath.
Some of the visuals seemed a little gratuitous. One example, contrast the handling of maps in this News Hour segment. They even take pains to point out the use of red and yellow for heat (cartographically correct in each view) that could otherwise be a confusing distraction for viewers.
P.S. In the great scheme of things are physiologists funnier than climatologists? Humans vs. Dogs
P.P.S. The point of the Scientific American article is communicating correct information NOT propaganda. Yes, they used the word ‘propaganda.’ It was nuanced.
28 Dan H.: We don’t have to agree on the extent of those changes. We only have to prevent the worst case, which is an agriculture crash in the 2050s.
29 Blair Dowden: Yes, people are too dumb to handle uncertainty. Very few people could pass the physics department’s undergrad probability and statistics course, and even fewer have tried. We do have to hire and work with Madison Avenue.
Another thing we have to do is to say explicitly and clearly that the opposition is being funded by the coal, petroleum and natural gas industry, and that they have spent x$ to cause confusion and make false allegations. Never ever assume that the average person is going to infer anything. There are people out there who don’t know what a fossil fuel is.
But, What is “climate”, when each year is warmer than the last year? (Look at global heat content, and not just air temps.) In this case, future weather patterns will differ from all past weather patterns, or any statistical average of past weather patterns considering seasonality.
The term “climate change” implies moving from one stable pattern of weather to another stable pattern of weather. At this point, weather patterns are not stable, and are not likely to become stable in the foreseeable future.
Edward Greisch wrote: “We only have to prevent the worst case, which is an agriculture crash in the 2050s.”
Unfortunately, I think that is no longer the worst case. We are seeing something of an “agriculture crash” right now, not only the huge crop losses due to the ongoing North American drought, but all over the world.
The worst case is that the current drought simply doesn’t end, but continues to worsen and expand indefinitely. I don’t think there is a climate scientist in the world who can confidently say that won’t happen.
Aaron Lewis wrote: “What is ‘climate’, when each year is warmer than the last year?”
I have thought about that same question. As I understand it, the more-or-less accepted definition of “climate” is the average behavior of weather over approximately 30 years, so it takes about 30 years of weather data to be able to say whether “climate change” is occurring.
But this seems to assume a relatively stable climate system, and relatively slow gradual change that requires several decades to distinguish from the much larger year-to-year natural variations in weather.
What does “climate” mean when the Earth system is rapidly warming, and being driven into ever-more-rapid change, so that the changes that occur within just years far exceed anything we have previously seen occur over multiple decades, and exceeds even the most extreme year-to-year natural variations of the past — and then that is followed by even more rapid change?
Question: Why does Michael Mann’s Hockey Stick show a sudden upward bend in CO2 levels when NOAA’s chart looks more like a steady 45 degree upward angle?
Comment by Richard Whiteford — 11 Oct 2012 @ 4:18 PM
Re comments 33 and 36: There ought to be a more precise definition of climate than “average weather.” I see the global climate as the average thermodynamic state of the atmosphere, especially the troposphere, over at least a year, the natural cycle time for climate and weather. Below the global and annual scales is a cascade of smaller spatial and temporal scales characterizing regional climates and weather.
People outside the specialized audience interested in science, and accustomed to current infotainment, will tune out this flat didactic approach. I found almost nothing I didn’t already know. The speaker sounds like an unfavorite teacher, and the integration of information and speech is poor as stated above.
I was startled to see no follow-up on ocean acidification when it came up, and little on ocean heat. I have come to believe that what is happening to the world’s water, both on land and at sea, is rapidly approaching disaster. That’s too wide a category, but as the planet heats, clean water is becoming rarer and at the biggest scale, ocean acidification has the potential to poison us all, both our food source and our atmosphere. Ocean species such as microbes and jellyfish will dominate (yes, I know, that’s too broad and not all microbes are unbeneficial). Just as insects are the most likely survivors in a toxifying environment on land, predators in the ocean will simplify the biota to the brink of, or beyond, the extinction of our fascinating and complex interconnected.
35 Dan H. & 37 SecularAnimist: see 39 Hank Roberts and “Drought Under Global Warming: a Review” by Aiguo Dai http://www.atmos.albany.edu/facstaff/adai/
T”he current drought simply doesn’t end, but continues to worsen and expand indefinitely.”
The drought this year has done quite a number on this year’s harvest. Farmers are buying a lot of irrigation systems, but irrigation systems don’t work if there is no source of water. We have to pump de-salted ocean water all the way to Dakota.
Comment by Edward Greisch — 12 Oct 2012 @ 12:13 AM
I think that the idea of having a person in the video some of the time is a good one. In the “Shattered Sky” documentary, which compares world response to ozone depletion and global warming, the then and now video of Susan Solomon really keeps the viewer’s interest. Don’t even need Brian Greene video magic, just people seen to be speaking with intensity. “Shattered Sky” is worth watching. It is getting some play on PBS stations. http://www.shatteredsky.com/
Keep in mind that the National Academy of Sciences and the National Research Council are not in the business of advocacy but rather providing objective scientific information. Thus, the narration is intentionally evenly toned.
The videos provide an overview of how we know what we know based mainly on Advancing the Science of Climate Change (NRC 2011), which is part of the America’s Climate Choices series of reports. It was cut into chapters so the public and educators can learn about some of the major lines of evidence that show climate change is human caused.
We hope that people can use this objective information to advance their own understanding and to address skeptics concerns. An accompanying booklet has additional text and figures for those who are looking for a bit more in-depth information.
[Response: John, thanks. I think that it is important that we acknowledge that there isn’t a ‘one-size-fits-all’ communication strategy – and as we discussed ages ago, we need to have a better way of scaffolding the different levels. – gavin]
Very informative and educational and good to have this video freely available on the internet. The 7 parts make it perfect for television broadcasting too. Though imho, images should appear fullscreen and equal sizes/designs.
I think that it is important that we acknowledge that there isn’t a ‘one-size-fits-all’ communication strategy
Of course not. Nobody suggested there was.
The existence of different ways to “scaffold” information is no excuse for a boring script and even more boring narrator, or for a disconnect between graphics and exposition. Let’s not say “it’s different” to avoid facing the truth: it’s bad. That’s a cop-out.
Well, President Ralph J. Cicerone, seems to think orbital eccentricity is the main component of the glacial/interglacial cycles of the late Pleistocene epoch.
You really can’t get any more “out of touch” of the peer reviewed literature than that! It’s almost as bad as Muller’s chocolate milky way spiral theory. What the hell, maybe it’s the orbit of the ice giant Uranus?
It’s an excerpt from the educational documentary “The Unchained Goddess”, one of four films produced by Frank Capra for Bell Labs for their television program “The Bell Telephone Hour”.
This film was made in 1958 — a half-century before “An Inconvenient Truth”.
The films were shown in school classrooms for many years. I remember watching two of them, “Our Mister Sun” and “Hemo The Magnificent”, multiple times in grade school, but I don’t recall ever seeing “The Unchained Goddess”.
Asking scientists to communicate to the public on their own is unwise. Actors, writers, and insurance analysts should be added to any team.
Make it personal, with individual stories about people like us. People feel bad about 3rd-worlders dying, but that only motivates a check to an aid agency. Perhaps an elderly Florida woman watching TV and worrying about a hurricane, as the $50,000 a year insurance premiums were a tad too steep. Or a Phoenix resident, “I bathe once a week even though that exceeds my water ration, as cleanliness is more important than saving money on over-use penalties. And besides, it got down below 90 degrees last night, so I didn’t sweat as much.”
Brutal, personal, money-focused, and unscientific but 100% based on science. Sneak in some facts, but the story has to compete with Hollywood; Lindzen and Dan Hs exist – so any facts will not be accepted, and many folks can’t add, let alone multiply without a calculator.
If it ain’t dollars, numbers aren’t relevant to many folks. I remember tutoring disadvantaged kids. They couldn’t understand math – unless I used the word “dollar”. Then they got it.
Avoid mentioning “average degrees of warming”, and never in degrees C. Folks who can’t do math and couldn’t tell you what Celsius is NEED you to do the conversion for them – and conversion includes from “average” (yawn, and irrelevant) to “extreme” (VERY relevant). Start off with “Unless we stop spewing carbon, the planet will likely warm by 3 degrees.” and everything else you say is banging against a closed mind, as nobody in their right mind gives a flip about 3 degrees F, and everyone knows F is how temps are measured.
Remember the stereotypical Ugly American Tourist, “How much is that in real money?”. Make your videos with that tourist in mind. Even this blog should be Fahrenheit, pounds, and gallons (Put SI values in parens afterwards). Talk the language of your AUDIENCE, not your peers.
28 Dan H said, “Richard, While most climate scientist would agree that human actions are changing the climate, they disagree on the extent of those changes.”
Great example of what Richard was warning about! To end there is highly misleading, as you don’t even identify which uncertainty tail is larger. Note that Richard never touched on extent of changes at all, but merely stated that most scientists say immediate action is needed. Thus, your comment should probably read:
“ABSOLUTELY TRUE, but climate scientists don’t agree whether the effects of BAU will be gawdawful or merely terrible. Personally, I think that nearly all climate scientists are incredibly wrong, as it’s probable that the changes caused by our continuing to increase emissions for the next 50 years will either be minimal or beneficial. There’s even a couple of over-the-hill climate scientists who agree with me.”
Please correct me if I’m wrong, and if so, provide some sort of cite saying that, say 20% or more of CLIMATE scientists think immediate action is unneeded.
Thanks for your comment. The issue is not avoiding advocacy, but rather the ability to deliver an accurate yet passionate and compelling storyline. Climate change is not just a scary topic, but rather a fascinating interplay between fields that intersect climate, geology, biology, chemistry, ethics, socio-economics, etc.
Any video segment by an authoritative group like the National Academies should not just fire rapid and half-delivered factoids at people, but try to serve as the scaffold upon which people will build their education, interest, and passion for climate. Try to bring the discussion to the dinner table. A well-delivered video might even inspire a handful of students to join the scientific effort in interrogating the mechanisms that cause the climate to “tick.”
If you want an example of someone who sounds like he cares about what he is talking about, listen to some of Richard Alley’s talks. Even better perhaps, try this talk by Jonathan Martin at University of Wisconsin-Madison on a subject related to mid-latitude dynamics (the level of the talk is for majors or grad students in the department, but you can notice the articulate nature of his tone, his passion for the subject, and his ability to translate a diagram/equation into something meaningful).
This is all a very hard task, but there is a considerable amount of literature on the need and proposed mechanisms for better communication to the public. The National Academies is a respected establishment and one that can do much better. I also must agree with Tamino that the “multiple audience levels” issue is an excuse. It is clear who the intended audience was, but it was not delivered to them. What, for example, would my mother get out of a 5 second display of a time-series of “AIRS Mid-Tropospheric Carbon Dioxide Levels?” If I were my mother I would think: I didn’t have time to digest the graph. What is AIRS? What is a troposphere? I’ve heard carbon dioxide is rising but give me perspective on the numbers and relative magnitude.
Thanks SecularAnimist @~54! Fascinating how clear and unchanging those images were. The only thing different was there was not an industrial-strength cadre of yellers to diss the message because of the hyperbole. Though at this point we realize glass-bottomed boats might not be practicable given the accumulating damage we are inflicting on ourselves.
Comment by Susan Anderson — 13 Oct 2012 @ 12:37 AM
The video’s and the presentation angle is fine – a tad flat in tone, but just fine. The angst in the constructive responses appear to be based on its failure to bash any pro-pollutionist drivel; and the ‘buddwaddabout’ crowd offers up nothing substantial to hurt it. If there’s a shortcoming, it’s illustrated in the replies – positions among those who have given the danger more than lip-service have already built their bunker: the video won’t change any positions. May Gawd have mercy on our brains.
As a non-scientist who doesn’t need convincing of the facts of AGW, I think these videos are very worthwhile. However, the first chapter is disappointing, because it fails to give a strong enough reason to watch the others. This is reflected in the number of views on youtube, where the first chapter has been seen by more than twice as many people as subsequent ones. It would be better if the first chapter finished with an explanation what each of the other episodes was about, or there was a chapter 0 which did that (“this is what we’re going to tell you”). The final chapter would benefit from a summing up as well (“this is what we’ve told you”).
Comment by Keith MacDonald — 13 Oct 2012 @ 4:36 AM
How a tool is used and how skillful the user can be a determining factor in effectiveness. These are great videos for showing the basics of ‘how we know what we know’ to a non-scientific audience. Good or bad is a subjective contextual perspective and can be based too easily on opinion.
Using these types of tools and similar methods I can turn 90% of a crowd of skeptics into a crowd saying: ‘this is serious, what can we do’.
If others communicating climate science are not achieving such results they might consider questioning their communication tools and techniques?
These videos are objective, well structured, and evenly toned (ref. post #49). They are there for you to use to supplement communications.
If you want more exposition than that you might explore the IPCC AR4, AGU, EGU, EOS publications, David Archers excellent video series, the index section of RealClimate, other reliable sources, etc. This particular video is too short to tell the ‘whole’ story. It is an overview based on the findings of the ACC reports.
> the number of views on youtube, where the first chapter
> has been seen by more than twice as many people
It’be interesting to know how many watched it through rather than clicked in and out. I found I quit watching quickly but left the audio on to the end and occasionally clicked back to the video to see if I was missing anything. The presentation definitely sounded and felt like 5th grade instructional material, like it was using big words to be impressive while trying to greatly simplify the points being made. Took me right back to the 1950s.
Good or bad is a subjective contextual perspective and can be based too easily on opinion
I guess I’m as good a singer as Barabara Streisand ever was — because it’s just a “subjective contextual perspective.” This is nothing but the lamest excuse so far for the poor quality of the video.
I remember a few months ago Robert Luhn (of NCSE posted to an email group about what he called a “terrific new video” about global warming. So I watched. It wasn’t terrific, in fact it was mind-numbingly boring. In the background you can hear people clanking silverware on their dinner plates and talking amongst themselves while the speaker was talking. As the video went on, the background noise — especially the audience’s conversation — got louder. That’s not a “subjective contextual perspective,” it’s a fact. It’s also exactly the response we can expect from John Doe to this video.
You can bet your ass that doesn’t happen to Christopher Monckton when he speaks. Even those who know what a sham he is, pay attention.
This is serious business, people. We’re in a fight for our lives. We cannot afford to treat a video presentation, whoever it’s from or whatever its purpose, like a 4th-grader’s art project that we’ll stick on the refrigerator door and brag about to the neighbors, so little Johnny will feel good about himself. We have to get tough, we have to get critical, we have to demand the best from communication efforts, and when an effort falls flat we have to face the truth and go back to square one. This video is a failure. My message to the National Research Council: if you want to do something meaningful to educate the public, go back to square one. And this time, raise the bar.
Point taken, however to reach those for whom YouTube is a stand alone experience, the opening especially matters. Problems arose pretty quickly for me (and I admit I’m peevish on this kind of thing) with the weak handling of titles which, as it turned out, were important to orientation. It went downhill for me from there. It got better with repeat viewing, but you shouldn’t have to do that.
Expect that people may come in to it interested but not necessarily highly motivated and probably a little distracted while they decide whether it’s worth changing gears to settle into the presentation.
There was a time when every educated person was expected to be able to communicate effectively, and that included scientists.
Now, the people swaying public opinion tend to be folks that do not care about science, and effective communication is considered “advocacy”, and disdained by “scientists”.
One of the jobs of each and every scientist is to teach. If your students are not locked in the classroom, then teaching means that the teacher must effectively communicate. The NAS/NSF should be a model for excellence in communication.
Communication is more than reciting facts. It is engaging people so that they remember the information. Communication requires involving people on at an emotional level.
89% or respondents indicated that they felt global warming was happening (only 4% responded that it was not). 59% responded that the primary cause was human activity, with another 11% indicating that it was a combination of human and natural causes. 76% of those respondents felt that the consequences will be very (38%) or somewhat (38%) harmful. 72% were very or somewhat worried about global warming, while 28% were not very or not at all worried. (The last three responsed were only applied to the 89% who felt that global warming was happening).
Therefore, 64% of AMS repondents indicated that they were very or somewhat worried about global warming. The specific question you posed about need action was not part of the survey. Does this adequately suffice your request?
First I must say that anything I say here is not a representation of the position of, nor from, the NAS, NRC, or BASC.
Chris, I appreciate your comment and everyone’s concern. The problem is passion and advocacy. An impassioned video could be interpreted as a type of advocacy. The NAS/NRC as pointed out in post #49 is not in the business of advocacy.
I’ve got plenty of more entertaining ways to tell the story and I have 3 film treatments ready to roll. I’ve got 60 new concept pieces as well. Some communications can come from authoritative sources, some can come from creative methods that are outside the box. There is room for many ways.
I understand your passion and that this is serious business. But this is not a bad video. In fact it’s a great video for it’s defined purpose and from its defined basis.
It’s not the video you want. Feel free of course to make your own. I will make more as well. But I repeat, “the National Academy of Sciences and the National Research Council are not in the business of advocacy but rather providing objective scientific information.”
But I’m not kidding about my post #61. I’ve done some pretty boring presentations and I win skeptical crowds with those presentations. If what you’re doing wins the skeptics minds then more power to you, if not, maybe a reexamination of method or technique is in order.
Yes, we should demand the best from communication efforts, but that does not mean that every communication has to meet anyone’s personal standard of what it should be. You might think I’m a bad communicator? But if I’m a bad communicator and I can regularly turn 90% of a crowd, then I’d like to meet a great communicator so I can improve. Maybe you can get me in touch with some?
I repeat, “the National Academy of Sciences and the National Research Council are not in the business of advocacy but rather providing objective scientific information.”
Irrelevant to my objections, I made none based on the presence or absence of advocacy.
I’ve done some pretty boring presentations and I win skeptical crowds with those presentations.
Color me skeptical. My guess: either your presentations are not as boring as you suggest, or you’re not winning the crowds like you think you are.
Note: if you use a boring video (like this one) but the rest of your presentation is engaging and interesting, you might well “win the crowd” in spite of the video, rather than assisted by it.
As for “meet anyone’s personal standard,” that’s just a repeat of your previous lame excuse. Barabara Streisand sings better than I do, and no amount of “personal standards” or “subjective contextual perspective” will make it otherwise. It’s not about personal standards, it’s about standards.
Opinions regarding the effectiveness of the videos are very cheap and, including my own, worthless. Because of the effort put into the presentations it would be worthwhile to have them evaluated by professionals with some different audiences. Collect some data! What a thought. Steve
Better news than the videos: Prairie Home Companion, Garrison Keillor made a joke out of Mitt Romney’s denial of climate change. The joke started out talking about how the 47% suffered in the winter. Then “Romney” says he is going to do something about winter by putting as much CO2 in the air as possible.
Comment by Edward Greisch — 13 Oct 2012 @ 10:11 PM
I appreciate this set of videos. Brevity helps. You can’t do it all. The graphics are integrated and add a lot, and the option for the viewer to select the sub-topic is a plus.
They aren’t perfect, but they are easy to recommend.
Recently, I recommended them to the NPR ombudsman–to educate himself about what is known about climate change. Summarizing what is known is the expressed purpose of the series.
I added the “Trend and Variation” video from the RC post, “The Dog is the Weather.”
I repeat, my statements do not represent that of the NAS or NRC.
You can be as skeptical as you wish but I do written polls before and after my presentations and my score has reached as high as 96% turnaround.
What you say and what you infer are two different things. You said:
“This is serious business, people. We’re in a fight for our lives.”
This infers you want more passion from the NAS, NRC. Maybe you would prefer seeing a polar bear running down the street with his hair on fire screaming global warming is people, global warming is people!!!
As I said, “the National Academy of Sciences and the National Research Council are not in the business of advocacy but rather providing objective scientific information” and that, I assume and experience, infers the NAS/NRC is not going to inject passion into the presentation of the science. Personally I think this is a ‘very wise’ choice; as doing so would increase the attack-ability of the science by claiming political advocacy. Anything more fanciful would likely have to go through an even more intense vetting process.
The script comes directly from the ACC reports. Let me emphasize the end of that last sentence. PERIOD.
This video does a very good job of describing the basics of ‘how we know what we know’. Let me emphasize the end of that last sentence. PERIOD.
If you are unable to make these videos work for you as support for your communications then ‘you’ are unable to do so. I suppose if you introduce it by putting it down first ‘you’ might not have much success with it.
And I repeat, if what you are doing is not working as well as what I am doing, try focusing on and reexamining what you are doing rather than attacking what others are doing.
And I repeat, subjective though the statement may be, this is a great tool. You don’t have to use it if ‘you’ are unable to use it. But wasting everyones time saying it’s lame is still merely your subjective opinion/perspective. And it’s not about standards per se in this case because I know too many professionals that have looked at the movie and feel I did a pretty good job, though many of the accolades exceed what I just said.
Feel free to repeat your claims five more times to show everyone how adamant you are; and we can waste everyones time in this thread because I can repeat what I said in response.
You can say the movie is lame, boring and childish; and I can say your claim is lame. Both are subjective. I would argue that your use of a non sequitur argument re. Barbara Streisand is a red herring in this case. How interesting you are using denialist argument techniques. I would suggest that you are also using appeal to argumentum ad populum, argumentum ad ignorantum, possibly argumentum ad odium, and argumentum ad passiones by invocation. And you also seem to be using Barbara Streisand as your straw-woman.
Have you been taking lessons from Lord Monckton?
I think the movie is great. That’s subjective. But I can say with reasonable confidence based on the science that the movie is an objective portrayal of ‘how we know what we know’ about some of the major lines of evidence in climate science. The editing is actually quite good, the music transitions and edits are reasonably well timed and the edits also conform to quality standards for narration to edit transitions. I do have experience in this area having worked on a couple thousand productions and having run one of the top 10 production rooms in Hollywood. I’ve done hundreds of radio and TV broadcasts, music videos, feature film (only one), concert productions and recording sessions. I don’t even want to count the rehearsals. I’ve also managed a few acts including The Surfaris of ‘Wipe Out’ fame for their 25th anniversary tour and have done gigs with Waylon Jennings, Stacy Q, Olivia Newton John, Jan & Dean, etc. I’ve done work at MCA Records, Columbia, Sunset Sound, etc. I’ve got a pretty long resume of gigs so I will stop there.
Note: if you use a boring video (like this one) but the rest of your presentation is engaging and interesting, you might well “win the crowd” in spite of the video, rather than assisted by it.
Your subjective opinion. Let me emphasize the end of that last sentence. PERIOD.
And by the way the boring voice is mine. I’ve hosted hundreds of shows and never has anyone called the radio or TV stations I’ve worked at and said my voice is bad or boring, quite the opposite. As stated, the narration is ‘evenly toned’ on purpose. Let me emphasize the end of that last sentence. PERIOD.
If you want a more passionate movie, make one. Now I will ask you a question I’ve asked many denialists in open threads. If your going to make such lame claims, have the courage and honor to post your full legal name on it.
2 (of an explanation or excuse) unconvincingly feeble : it was a lame statement and there was no excusing his behavior.
Your claim of lame is inappropriate because the script is based on the ACC reports. PERIOD. Neither you nor I are going to change that fact. Other movies might be based on other things. PERIOD. What part of ‘you don’t get it’ don’t you get?
Regarding your statement “Raise the bar”: How about you realize that there are many different bars and maybe you are hanging out in the wrong one?
While this is an illustrated online article rather than a video, I think it is a well-done and effective presentation for a lay audience of what I consider to be the most important things that climate science is telling us today:
The single biggest failure of messaging by climate scientists (until very recently) has been the failure to explain to the public, opinion makers, and the media that business-as-usual warming results in simultaneous, ever-worsening impacts that, individually, are each beyond catastrophic, but combined are unimaginably horrific.
Perhaps someone with the necessary resources and skills could turn that presentation into a video, with additional videos (like those discussed here) on the basic underlying science included as an appendix.
Comment by SecularAnimist — 14 Oct 2012 @ 11:55 AM
Steve Fish–Data would be helpful. But opinions, even unprofessional ones, are not worthless. Turn on your applause (or applesauce) meter. What I’m hearing is that expectations here are high and people are hungry for a home run. They want to be wowed. Unreasonable? Maybe. Under the circumstances, is the need unreasonable?
Patrick–There are problems with the graphics. I suspect there may be a template issue here, and would suggest that users not be afraid to stretch or even break a template if the material demands it. You’re no doubt familiar with the Grammar Gestapo. You know the ones– they’re always insisting that everyone not end sentences with a preposition (a clue: it’s English not Latin). Well, watch out for the Template Taliban. Just sayin’.
For whomever, criticism is an art, but doing it well requires specificity, objectivity and skill. It’s just that one of your main data collection instruments is inside you. The idea is to report so that others can compare their own readings. It’s the same basic equipment with bugs, many well known, and a set of tolerances that it takes time to get a feel for.
14% Below Basic:
no more than the most simple and concrete literacy skills
can perform simple and everyday literacy activities
can perform moderately challenging literacy activities
can perform complex and challenging literacy activities http://nces.ed.gov/naal/images/KF_D_Overall3.jpg
Re- Comment by Radge Havers — 14 Oct 2012 @ 11:59 AM:
Because of the real need I don’t think that it is unreasonable to expect the best of the videos, but as I said earlier, best for whom? We here are not the target audience.
All I am saying is that we should, like all good scientists, try to be aware of our own presuppositions when judging the videos. Otherwise, we all may become inexpert video denialists and make, apparently, logically consistent judgments that are wrong. How should one make sense of widely differing but reasonable opinions? Find an expert and collect some data. Steve
Now we know why you’re taking the criticism so personally.
If you want a more passionate movie, make one. Now I will ask you a question I’ve asked many denialists in open threads. If your going to make such lame claims, have the courage and honor to post your full legal name on it.
When you can’t take the heat, you resort to what is nothing more than ad hominem. Have you been taking lessons from Anthony Watts?
Your narration is abysmal, the video is boring, and you are in denial of these facts. If you pay attention to your critics (and I am hardly the only one here) you might learn something, but apparently you’re more interested in protecting your ego than improving the product. Pity.
Feel free to respond 5 more times. I’m done with you. “Period.”
OK, but the video has been pinned up on a board for discussion in this forum.
If nothing else, I would submit that learning criticism is part of learning communication. So, unfortunately it’s an ugly, imprecise process compared to physics even for experts. Which means that as client you don’t want to be too overbearing. But you don’t want to just farm it out either. You do need to be skilled enough to be productively engaged and to provide some oversight.
In my first comment on this thread (#11), I wrote:
“Who is the intended audience for this video series, and what is the intended effect on that audience?”
In my last comment, I quoted Joe Romm:
“The single biggest failure of messaging by climate scientists (until very recently) has been the failure to explain to the public, opinion makers, and the media that business-as-usual warming results in simultaneous, ever-worsening impacts that, individually, are each beyond catastrophic, but combined are unimaginably horrific.”
I love science. I think it is a great thing in and of itself for scientists to develop educational materials to encourage better public understanding of ALL science — not only climate science, but quantum physics, cosmology, microbiology, genetics, anthropology and on and on.
But you know what? We have a PLANETARY EMERGENCY on our hands.
And in that regard, I think the notion that a better public understanding of the basics of climate science will “trickle up” through “the public, opinion makers, and the media” to influence those with the power to do something about that emergency, is really wrong-headed.
What we don’t need is long expositions of the fundamentals and foundations, which mention at the very end, almost as an afterthought, “Oh, and by the way, this warming we’re talking about could be a problem”.
What we — the general public — need from climate scientists is to LEAD WITH THE IMPACTS.
It’s not as though the science isn’t there, or isn’t strong enough, to make some very confident predictions about the “catastrophic” and “horrific” IMPACTS that are coming our way, very soon, if we don’t take urgent action now (and which we are at this point sure to experience to some degree even if we do).
As I suggested in my previous comment — let’s see some videos, and some articles here on RealClimate, that are firmly founded in the science (Romm’s article points to multiple recent studies), that stress the impacts of anthropogenic global warming that are already occurring, those that are unavoidably going to occur, and those that can, perhaps, be avoided, or at least lessened, if we do all the things that we already know how to do, and already have the means to do, to slow, halt and reverse the warming.
Again, any statements I make here are my own and not from the NAS/NRC.
It takes a lot of work to make something like this. And it’s nice to see that work appreciated. It took a lot of folks and a lot of double and triple checking to put this together.
#80 tamino, i’m glad your done. FYI asking you to make a movie is not ad hominem and great and lame are still subjective in the given context.
To all others, I appreciate the constructive criticisms and will bring them up.
I’m confident more videos will be made on other important aspects of the science. Impacts, and increased depth are things we will see. From different sources and different methods. Scientific sources will be more objective and some may tell the story differently. I don’t think it’s fair to expect any one movie or video to cover all bases in depth though. The well of climate science is very deep and there are many stories to tell.
73 John R said, “I do written polls before and after my presentations and my score has reached as high as 96% turnaround.”
So a single talk by you which is seen by a substantial percentage of the population would not just replace all other efforts, including this site, but guarantee that essentially everyone who sees it will rally to your side? All we have to do is keep posting links to this one talk (or another of your choosing) and the socio-political problem is solved, right?
This comment thread is a decent poll-of-the-choir. In this particular poll, the preacher has garnered the praise of a tiny percentage of the choir. To raise that to 96% of athiests is beyond belief. A gun to one’s child’s head might achieve a fake 96% turnaround, but logic rarely changes anybody’s mind, so I’d say your claim equates to being magical. Astounding claims should include verification. Not that it would qualify as robust verification, but perhaps you should put those polls online?
Re- Comment by Jim Larsen — 14 Oct 2012 @ 6:24 PM:
You say- “This comment thread is a decent poll-of-the-choir. In this particular poll, the preacher has garnered the praise of a tiny percentage of the choir.”
I did a quick count of, specifically, positive and negative comments about the videos. I excluded repeated posts, arguments about climate data, and suggestions of what the poster thinks is good in presentations without any evaluation of the videos themselves. The count was about equal positive and negative with strong extremes and many milder comments in between.
Your black and white opinionated comment is typical. Further, John P. Reisman has been a reliable poster here on Real Climate and been working on climate science education for several years. Your opinions about him are not warranted. How about providing some positive suggestions without the nastiness?
Whew! I’m a musician (a pianist/composer, mostly of classical works) by trade. I have read plenty of great reviews of terrible concerts, but I’ve probably read even more terrible reviews of great concerts. This discussion has gotten about as hot as any musical review discussion I have ever seen. I’ll bet it’s a human thing. It probably has to do with expectations.
What are these videos supposed to accomplish? Who is the target audience? It is essential that the answers to these questions are fully understood by the parties involved to have a meaningful exchange of ideas. In this case, it doesn’t seem to me like they were.
For my expectations, I thought the first video worked pretty well. The visuals were probably the strongest aspect. The text is OK. It is in a textbook style, and not a conversational style, but I found it quite clear and informative for someone who has not thought that much about climate. The clearness will also help those for whom English is a second language (that would be most of the world). The music had a specific use here (not a use that I personally care for), but it did it’s job.
Would this video have been improved by the use of professional voice actors, a more conversational and dramatic presentation (maybe with multiple characters and points of view), and a score composed specifically for this video? This is the standard for any modern movie. But for that approach to work well, I think the video would have been much longer and much, much more expensive. Then there is the risk that the production values themselves become the subject of the video. The media becomes the message. How would this help?
I’m also a teacher, and this I know: if one wants to help improve anything, one will have better success if one keeps their comments constructive and positive. I’m sure that all the denier lurkers here have gotten a big kick out of watching the snake devouring its tail… I suppose one would call that entertaining.
For what it’s worth, I say, overall, pretty good job, according to my understanding of the target audience.
It has been said that the definition of crazy is doing the same thing you’ve been doing and expecting different results.
You can ‘believe’ anything you wish to believe. It is non sequitur to assume that your choir is like all other choirs.
#87 Steve Fish
Thank you, good to see a little rationality based on analysis rather than subjective opinion :)
General comment: What some think I have taken personally, is not what I took personally. If anyone wants to know more talk to me in person at AGU in San Francisco. I will be doing an oral presentation showing how to make a video out of a science paper. Should be fun!!!
Now, for those that might criticize this workshop before it even happens, I will not be teachisng anyone how to be James Cameron or Steven Spielberg. I don’t expect attendees to be able to make movies like these famed directors after the presentation. I hope they will be able to easily make their own videos to help communicate the science they are presenting and reach a broader audience.
78 Hank Roberts has it. The audience can’t handle anything any where near as difficult as the video. It just goes whizzing by a mile over their heads. Keep it down to 30 seconds and make it a joke so that they will memorize it and re-tell it. ANY graph is too hard no matter how it is presented. The 30 second advertisement has to be repeated hundreds of times on radio. That costs money.
Scientists can’t write advertisements. Advertisement writers must be and are are clowns and provokers in order to write good advertisements. Comedians and story tellers come close. A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor is at the right intellectual level. We want our advertisement to go viral on youtube because we don’t have money.
A magic hammer would be nice, but a shed full of all kinds of tools isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Last comment for me: The link to the play list in the upper right of the opening scene isn’t working for me (I’m on an iPad and clicked from the embedded video). Same deal with the link to Chapter 2 at the end… And… back to the beginning title with bullet points before I finally let go; I have to say it, maybe OK (maybe) for a printed report but elliptic and ephemeral for video.
Edward Greisch @ 92 forgets that “a picture is worth a thousand words” applies to the regular folk he regularly disparages. Misanthropy is a poor platform from which to communicate. Reisman at least approaches his audience with respect and, imho, gets more key information across than he’s being given credit for.
Chris Colose @57: I trust you have a bright future. There’s stuff on your site, too, that your own mother wouldn’t understand, so don’t call the kettle black. What she “gets out of “a 5 second display” is 1) brevity 2) a visual memory and 3) a new question.
The idea of “target audience” is not much of a key. It’s a limitation.
Maybe you can do something about the described problem. Interactivity can provide access to various levels of information. Little steps are o.k. Think some tiny piece of a computer game.
The ski slope analogy fits the problem well. By the way, if I’m on the beginner or the intermediate slope and I SEE the people doing the advanced slope, I can understand (a lot about) what they’re doing, even if I can’t do it.
Thanks for the video you recommend. I already had questions about geostrophic wind. The questions came from–guess what–answers to other questions.