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2006 Year in review

Filed under: — group @ 27 December 2006 - (Français)

A lighthearted look at the climate science goings-on over the last year:

Best highlight of the gap between the ‘two cultures’:
Justice Scalia: ‘Troposphere, whatever. I told you before I’m not a scientist. That’s why I don’t want to have to deal with global warming’ .

Least effective muzzling of government climate scientist by a junior public affairs political appointee:
George Deutsch met his match in Jim Hansen.

Most puzzling finding that has yet to be replicated:
Methane from plants

Worst reported story and least effectual follow-up press release:
Methane from plants

Best (err… only) climate science documentary on public release:
An Inconvenient Truth.

Most worn out contrarian cliche:
Medieval English vineyards.

Previously prominent contrarian cliche curiously not being used any more:
“The satellites show cooling”

Most bizarre new contrarian claim:
“Global warming stopped in 1998”.
By the same logic, it also stopped in 1973, 1983, and 1990 (only it didn’t).

Most ironic complaint about ‘un-balanced’ climate coverage on CNN:
Pat Michaels (the most interviewed commentator by a factor of two) complaining that he doesn’t get enough exposure.

Most dizzying turn-around of a climate skeptic:
Fred Singer “global warming is not happening” (1998,2000, 2002, 2005) to global warming is “unstoppable” (2006)

Best popular book on the climate change:
Elizabeth Kolbert’s “Field Notes from a Catastrophe

Least unexpected observations:
(Joint winners) 2006 near-record minima in Arctic sea ice extent, near-record maxima in Northern Hemisphere temperatures, resumed increase in ocean heat content, record increases in CO2 emissions

Best resource for future climate model analyses:
PCMDI database of IPCC AR4 simulations. The gift that will keep on giving.

Best actual good news:
Methane concentrations appear to have stabilised. Maybe they can even be coaxed downward….

Biggest increase in uncertainty as a function of more research:
Anything to do with aerosols.

Least apologetic excuse for getting a climate story wrong:
Newsweek explains its 1975 ‘The Cooling World’ story.

Most promising newcomer on the contrarian comedy circuit:
Viscount Monckton of Brenchley

Least accurate attempted insinuation about RealClimate by a congressional staffer:
‘There’s so much money’: Marc Morano (Senate EPW outgoing majority committee staff, 5:30 into the mp3 file)

Boldest impractical policy idea:

Boldest practical policy idea:
Creation of a National Climate Service, which could more effecitvely provide useful climate information to policymakers.

Most revealing insight into the disinformation industry (fiction):
Thank you for smoking

Most revealing insight into the disinformation industry (non-fiction) and year’s best self-parody:
‘CO2 is life’

Feel free to suggest your own categories and winners…

106 Responses to “2006 Year in review”

  1. 101
    andrew worth says:

    Sigh, Doug, there are three sides in the AGW debate; I believe Alarmists and Denialists are both driven by politics, the mainstream, which includes you and I, as you say, is based on the physical science.

  2. 102

    Re ” I suggest that politics is in our genes… If we accept that these ancient instincts still govern much of our action…”

    I don’t accept any such thing. The human evolutionary specialization is flexibility of behavior. We are programmable; we can learn. Sociobiology is largely crap.

  3. 103
    andrew worth says:

    BPL, you stated that you don’t believe in Sociobiology and also that it is “largely crap.” I would be grateful if you could run through the reasons you have for denying its scientific validity.
    You state that “The human evolutionary specialization is flexibility of behavior.” I would have said that our prime specialisation is brain power, and how this has allowed us to develop tool use (actually the ability to use tools to make tools) and speach. Obviously another vital aspect to building a civilisation is our instinctive primate social behaviour.
    Our adaptability is obviously also useful to us, but that adaptability still falls within the boundaries drawn by our primate instincts.

  4. 104
    andrew worth says:

    Hank, I’m not sure if you are for or against my argument.
    I’m saying that Monkton’s AGW denialism is politically based, he sees AGW as a socialist/greenie bandwagon, a tool used by those he opposes to upset the present order.
    His site shows that much of his business philosophy is also politically based, I see no evidence of him profiting from oil industry support for his position of AGW.

  5. 105

    Re “BPL, you stated that you don’t believe in Sociobiology and also that it is “largely crap.” I would be grateful if you could run through the reasons you have for denying its scientific validity.”

    Okay, let me give you a simple example. Sociologists observed that incest taboos are widespread in human society. Sociobiologists spoke up and said it was genetic. Sociologists pointed out that incest is widespread in some areas despite the taboos. Sociobiologists said, well, that’s what you should expect, since breeding with a close relative means more of your genes will be present in the next generation.

    It’s untestable. Any evidence at all is evidence for the hypothesis. And that’s exactly ALL sociobiology has produced for the past thirty years — untestable just-so stories. There haven’t been any real-world applications at all that I know of, and for any phenomenon, you can find sociobiologists on each side of it. That’s not science, that’s astrology.

  6. 106
    andrew worth says:

    We all carry a model of our world around in our heads, learning is principly a process of adding bits to that model, as we get older the model becomes more complex. Nobody builds a model that is truely objective, as being right about the real world, and maximising the chances of passing on your genes are not only not the same thing, but often at odds.
    The result is our learning is biased in a way that involves improves our chances of reproducing often by increasing our status amongst our peers, who share these views.
    There is a second way that we can learn, we can come to realise that a part of our model has become inconsistent with later information, if this involves minor changes to the model that don’t conflict with that shared by our peers, it’s no problem to make the nesseccary changes, if however incorporating this later information involves major changes to the model, infact it conflicts with aspects of the model we can consider core beliefs, we face a major internal battle to make the changes as it involves dismantling major sections of the model and rebuilding, on an external level if this involves changing a position we have advocated and a belief shared by our peers, it can involve lose of face and lose of status, and on an instinctive level, lose of status is a major blow.
    The result is that we can persist in believing insomething eg. AGW nothing but a greenie/socialist bandwagon, as long as our peers (especially our immediate peers) do, despite it being so in conflict with later information,

    Regarding incest, I think you will find that it is healthier for the gene pool if it doesn’t occur, but still better for each individuals genes to maximise their own chance of successfully reproducing. Being social animals, breaking societies taboos, with the likely consequences, usually is a large enough disinsentive.

    In your final paragraph, If I were to substitute the words “climate science” and “climate scientists” for “sociobiology” and “sociobiologists” it becomes a typical AGW denialist statement. To me both versions carry the same misconceptions. Presumably as you are advocating that AGW denialists are acting rationally in an objective sense, (while I am advocating they are acting rationally in an instinctive sense), both statements are scientifically sound?