A Welcoming Nature

Getting a serious paper into Nature or Science is deservedly hard. Getting a mention for your climate blog is apparently a little easier!

We are of course collectively very pleased that Nature has welcomed the RealClimate.org effort so forthrightly. We only hope that we will be able to match up to their expectations. As with anything new, done by inexperienced first-timers who really should be concentrating on their actual jobs, there are bound to be teething problems. One, alluded to in the editorial and accompanying news story, is who gets to decide what’s posted, and getting the balance right between inclusiveness and clarity.

This website is not the place for technical debates between scientists that are better left to the peer-reviewed literature. More appropriate are the explanations and context that we often provide to journalists or the public when asked about breaking climate stories. This is the information that is often left out (for understandable reasons) in the traditional media, and yet is often key to interpreting new results. Contributions along those lines from other scientists are welcome. We hope that there is room here for legitmate disagreements and we will strive to be objective when discussing topics where we may personally favour one side over another. We too are concerned about the appearance of a ‘party line’ – and the best way to address this is for our colleagues to contribute. But, as with any publishing venture, the editors get the final say over what goes in.

Being human, we will sometimes mess up and stray from our self-imposed task. We hope that readers will indulge an occasional slip of decorum or mis-statement and not hesitate to point them out when they occur.

Update 23/12/2004: Science gives us a nod as well.

10 comments on this post.
  1. Roy Jameson:

    I hate to comment on style, rather than substance. Nonetheless, your posts are all but unreadable due to the choice of fonts. Perhaps you would consider changing to a font that is more readable? The up and down roller coaster effect is annoying.

  2. Pharyngula:

    Nature welcomes RealClimate
    Nature has a very enthusiastic editorial welcoming those new science bloggers at RealClimate. They seem to be much impressed with these novel things called 'blogs'. A group of just nine climate scientists is trying to change the media coverag…

  3. Lucia Malla:

    Yesterday I put a comment on my blog (unfortunately in Portuguese) about Crichton’s book, and today the Nature coverage was nothing but a good surprise. I also made another comment on that, and I hope this effort pays out. Michael Crichton crossed a road that he shouldn’t have done. Congrats for this blog: it’s how a big change can begin.
    Who knows the power of blogging?

  4. Randolph Fritz:

    Well, hey, congratulations.

  5. B.W. Emanuel:

    Being human, we will sometimes mess up and stray from our self-imposed task.

    I welcome this blog to – hopefully – cut through the politics and misinformation but I hope we can avoid the condescension and sarcasm I’ve already experienced here.

    [Response: Fair enough. Do bear in mind we get quite tired of hearing the old "they used to say it was cooling" stuff, as it is a much-parotted idea that agenda-driven critics love to repeat, but is simply not true. But that doesn't justify our being sarcastic, if that is how our response came across. -- Eric]

  6. tom:

    Welcome to the reality based community. My only criticism (or is it just my browser) is
    that the comments section runs over on to the column on the right side of the screen
    making my words invisible in that part of the screen.

  7. Steve Tuma:

    Just read the NATURE article. I appreciate what your blog is trying to accomplish. In this day and age, we lay-people are constantly bombarded by misinformation and in some cases disinformation concerning the top scientific issues of our time. However, I have to wonder how far your message will actually reach. Your site will attract those of us who will actually take the time to verify the ‘facts’ that are given to us through the more widely available media means. Most of us wont have the time to do that with our busy lives. We are stuck with or satisfied with the information provided to us in 5 second sound bites in a 60 second summary of the story on the nightly news. Because of that, its not hard to see why the majority of the public seems to support or allow policy decisions that go against scientific consensus.

    We need to combat scientific illiteracy by doing a better job of teaching our children what the scientific method is and by getting an accurate depiction of the scientific issues out in the mainstream media. Your site takes us a step closer by having the information easily available, but what is truly needed is to take this information and the information from other, similar sites on today’s scientific issues and present them daily in an easily digestible format, through the mainstream media. Of course there would be an accompanying website with all the references to support what was presented. We just need somebody to step up and find a way to accomplish it.

  8. olivier:

    As with anything new, done by inexperienced first-timers who really should be concentrating on their actual jobs

    I must say I am surprised by this, unless it was written tongue-in-cheek. I would say that outreach is very much a part of every scientist’s job, regardless of the stipulations of his contract, and you must indeed be congratulated for trying.

    [Response: Thanks for your support. While perhaps a bit tongue-in-cheek in tone, the serious point of this statement is that this is done in our spare time, without compensation. It doesn't allow us to spend any less time on teaching, research, and service at our respective institutions.]

  9. Seva Rostovtsev:

    I just saw your blog mentioned in Science (vol. 305, no. 5705, p.2167). Congratulations on a very good blog.

  10. Dr. Mark H. Shapiro:

    It’s a pleasure to read sense instead of nonsense on global climate issues. Unfortunately, there are too many well-funded sources of obfuscation on these issue.