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Advice for a young climate blogger

Filed under: — group @ 9 March 2009 - (Italian) (Español)

Congratulations! You have taken the first step towards attempting to communicate your expertise and thoughts to the wider world, which remains poorly served by its traditional sources of information when it comes to complex societally relevant issues like climate change. Your aim to clarify the science (or policy options or ethical considerations or simply to explain your views) is a noble endeavor and we wish you luck and wide readership. But do be aware that you are dipping your blog into sometimes treacherous waters. Bad things can happen to good bloggers. So in a spirit of blog-camaraderie, and in light of our own experiences and observations, we offer some advice that may be of some help in navigating the political climate relatively unscathed.

Be honest to yourself and your readers. If your aim is to educate, say so. If your aim is to push for more funding for your pet projects, or advocate for a specific policy, be upfront about it. Don’t however be surprised if people spend their time trying to find hidden motives in what you do. There is a school of thought had has decreed that any public speech must be directed towards public action and that there is no such thing as a pure information supply. In the widest sense this is probably true – everyone blogs, writes or speaks out for a reason. However, this is often interpreted as implying that all public speech must be either pro-or-con some very specific proposal. This is nonsense. One can criticize George Will’s or Alexander Cockburn’s misuse of climate science without agreeing or disagreeing or even having looked at their public policy proposals. Of course, the corollary of this position, that any such criticism of your statements must itself be directed at supporting the opposite political action is very rarely appreciated. On the other hand, assuming that criticism of your statements must be politically motivated is usually a mistake. Sometimes that is true, but there are enough exceptions that it should not be assumed.

Know that there are people who will misrepresent you. Climate science is perceived to have political, economic and ethical implications. Most of the what gets discussed really doesn’t have any such implication, but the ‘scientization‘ of political discourse on this issue means that micro-parsing of published work and blog postings is a common practice. Advocates of all stripes (though predominantly those outside the mainstream) will examine whether a new result or comment appears to project onto their particular agenda, and trumpet it widely if it does. The motives can range from specifically political to a desire for publicity or position, though the exact reasons are often obscure and mostly not worth debating. Thus 15th Century tree rings become an argument against the Kyoto Protocol, just as bacterial flagella are whipped into service when discussing the role of religion in public life.

In the specific world of climate-related blogs there are a number of conduits by which misrepresentations gain wider currency. Matt Drudge for instance, spends an inordinate amount of time finding crackpot climate science stories in fringe media and highlighting them on the widely-read Drudge Report. Marc Morano (who we hear is leaving his post as a staffer for Senator Inhofe) is a very diligent reader of the climate blogs (Pielke2, WUWT, RC etc.) and any misrepresentation found there, or criticism that could be misrepresented, will quickly find its way into many email in-boxes. From there, if you are lucky, further misrepresentations might find their way onto the Rush Limbaugh’s show (via Roy Spencer), or Glenn Beck as throwaway lines confirming (to them) the perfidy of mainstream climate science.

Be aware that the impact that you have might be very different from the impact that you think you should have. Over time, if you find yourself constantly misquoted or used to support positions or ideas you don’t agree with, think about why that might be. You will likely find yourself accused of ‘stealth advocacy’ i.e. of secretly agreeing with the misquoters. If that isn’t actually the case, remember that the abandonment of responsibility for your words (i.e. “how was I to know I would be misquoted so often?”) is not an option that leaves you with much integrity. Being misquoted once might be a misfortune, being misquoted more often smacks of carelessness.

Don’t expect the world to be fair. Read Mamet’s “Bambi v. Godzilla“, and in particular the section containing this line:

“In these fibbing competitions, the party actually wronged, the party with an actual practicable program, or possessing an actually beneficial product, is at a severe disadvantage; he is stuck with a position he cannot abandon, and, thus, cannot engage his talents for elaboration, distraction, drama and subterfuge.”

Since you are presumably stuck with a coherent set of ideas, you won’t be able to adopt ten mutually contradictory inconsistent arguments in the same paragraph, or engage in the cherry-picking, distortion or deliberate misquotation. Though it is occasionally instructive to show what you could have claimed if you didn’t have such ethical principles.

Don’t let completely unfounded critiques bother you. If you speak out in the public sphere, as sure as night follows day, you will be criticized. Some criticisms are constructive and will help you find your voice. Many are not. If you are successful, you will start to come across an online simulacrum of you that bears your name and place of work but who holds none of your views, has no redeeming character traits and would be a complete stranger to anyone who has actually met you. Ignore him or her. There are some people who will always be happier demonising opponents than honestly interacting with real people.

Don’t defame people. This should go without saying, but trivially accusing scientists of dishonesty, theft, academic malpractice and fraud pretty much rules you out of serious conversation. Instead it will serve mainly to marginalize you – though you may gain a devoted following among a specific subset. Don’t be surprised if as a consequence other people start to react negatively to your comments.

Correct mistakes. Again, it should go without saying that maintaining integrity requires that errors of fact be corrected as soon as possible.

Realize that although you speak for yourself, if you take mainstream positions, you will be perceived as speaking for the whole climate science community. Don’t therefore criticize unnamed ‘scientists’ in general when you mean to be specific, and don’t assume that the context in which you are speaking is immediately obvious to casual readers.

Avoid using language that can easily be misquoted. This is hard.

Don’t use any WWII metaphors. Ever. This just makes it too easy for people to ratchet up the rhetoric and faux outrage. However strongly you hold your views, the appropriateness of these images is always a hard sell, and you will not be given any time in which to make your pitch. This is therefore almost always counter-productive. This can be extended to any kind of Manichean language.

If you get noticed by the propagandists, wear that attention like a badge of honor. You will be in very good company.

If you get caught in a blogstorm, know that this too will pass. Being targeted like this is not very much fun (ask Heidi Cullen). But the lifecycle for a blog-related kerfuffle is a few days in general, and the blogosphere as a whole has an extreme attention deficit disorder. After finding that your post and followups were all anyone can talk about on Monday, it likely won’t get mentioned again after Thursday.

Recognize that humor is far more effective than outrage. But try and rise above the level of the schoolyard. Think Jon Stewart rather than Rodney Dangerfield.

If all of the above doesn’t put you off the idea completely, welcome to the blogosphere! Your voice is sorely needed.


434 Responses to “Advice for a young climate blogger”

  1. 51
    Ian says:

    You could also have written, “don’t censor on your blog as you then get and give a totally blinkered view. You will soon find bloggers think you are unable to adequately argue your point of view”

    [Response: Oh please. To paraphrase Goldwater: “Moderation in the pursuit of a high signal-to-noise ratio is no vice”. – gavin]

  2. 52
    Vernon says:

    Since nothing gets posted any more on the Antarctic warming is robust thread, would it be in the spirit of this thread to ask what is the reply to Ryan O? Is he correct and the Antarctic warming not robust?

    [Response: The warming is robust. It does not change qualitatively if you increase the number of eigen-modes used. – gavin]

  3. 53
    Ryan O says:

    I am a long-time reader of RC that has only recently posted anything and I have a few thoughts I would like to share. Hopefully these are taken as constructive because they are intended that way.
    .
    I have chosen not to post in the past because the atmosphere produced by some of the contributors can be quite hostile at times, which is at odds with some of the very salient points Gavin made. A recurring theme is that most who disagree with the certainty of the IPCC’s predictions, or who express doubts about the accuracy of models, or who question that the magnitude of AGW is subject to considerable uncertainty are excoriated, called denialists, said to be in the pay of Big Oil, said to be unscientific, said to be ignorant, and any number of similar terms (see #18 and #21 above). They are cast as individuals who, through deception or ignorance, are actively subverting attempts to minimize man’s impact on the environment.
    .
    While this is true of some, it is not true of all.
    .
    I am skeptical of the IPCC’s predictions. I am skeptical of the accuracy of model impacts. I am skeptical of the accuracy of the surface temperature record.
    .
    Yet I still believe that AGW is real and I strongly support action to reduce the impact of man’s influence on the environment and I have for years.
    .
    I do not get my skepticism from news reports or spin doctors. My skepticism arises from reading papers (including IPCC reports) and doing my own investigation/replication. I apply this same skepticism to not only the IPCC and worse scenarios, but also to scenarios claiming the 20th century temperature rise is not man-made. I feel that articles like George Will’s recent exposition about sea ice are misleading. They indicate a lack of integrity and obscure, rather than clarify, the science. On the other hand, I feel the same way about people like Al Gore.
    .
    While I would agree with you that the level of myopia and illogic among the true denialists is remarkable, I would also point out that a similar level of myopia and illogic exists on the other side of the AGW debate as well. Some individuals displaying those characteristics post here, and do so frequently. The most irritating (and untrue) posts ascribe motivations to those questioning a point that cannot possibly be known. Some of this is happening in this thread right now. #49 has a discussion with a fossil fuel representative in Europe who “generally” confirms a notion of the industry’s intent and the proceeds to imply that categorically skeptics feed from the same pot.
    .
    I agree wholeheartedly with your statement about not trivially accusing scientists of fraud or misconduct. However, this cuts both ways. Simply because a scientist is associated with an organization that has (or is) taking money from the fossil fuel industry does not mean the scientist is unethical any more than the scientist who is associated with an organization that receives money from companies that have a large financial interest in policies related to reducing the magnitude of AGW. It is logically inconsistent to claim a conflict of interest in one and not the other.
    .
    Moreover, I feel the statement should really be extended to include non-scientists (or scientists from other fields who have an interest in climate science) as well. There are frequent defamatory accusations of ill-intent (or accusations of ignorance/stupidity) from posters toward those displaying skepticism.
    .
    I have read RC for a long time. I may not post frequently, but I still consider RC a good source of information and I wish you continued success. I think there are things that can be done to improve RC, but at the end of the day, it is your blog, not mine, and your methods have merited you good success. While my post is seems to be concerned primarily with the negatives, I would be remiss if I did not state that I enjoy reading RC and will continue to do so.
    .
    To Gavin specifically, I would also like to thank you for taking the time to respond to the questions/statements I have made in my past posts.

  4. 54
    david says:

    how about : be aware that for at least half the population, the scientific world is a foreign country they have never visited.

    For example, multiple surveys in the US have shown that at least 30% of the population do not know that the earth revolves around the sun and takes one year to do so. And yet when people ask questions here about the history of the climate, they get a discussion of Milankovitch cycles.
    Not sure what can actually be done about this, other than being aware that many people commenting probably haven’t understood a word you wrote, and this is not because they are lazy or stupid but because they lack the science basics required to understand.
    Maybe “start here” could have a link to a junior high science text.

    This is, in my view, a fundamental problem with the internet – it encourages very shallow learning. It is very easy to find lots of stuff you think you understand, and consequently to think that you know about a topic, without ever doing the hard work required to actually understand properly.
    Of course, scientific ignorance predates the internet. But the internet seems to have given rise to an explosion in the number of people ignorant of their ignorance.

  5. 55
    Mark says:

    “A recurring theme is that most who disagree with the certainty of the IPCC’s predictions, or who express doubts about the accuracy of models, or who …”

    Hmm.

    And a recurring meme is that a tiger will eat and kill any animal if catches when hungry.

    Or another recurring meme is that anyone who starts off about how the lizard overlords of earth have impregnated our women to take over the universe are considered mad.

    Ever thought that maybe the “meme” you notice happens because it generally works?

    You know, like a sweeping generalisation. Not always true, but true often enough to be useful.

  6. 56

    #53 Ryan O

    I disagree with IPCC also, but that’s because they are properly conservative for the most part (It’s a Swiss thing). But my statement needs more context. I agree that they need to be the most conservative ‘science of scale’, to provide a stable foundation upon which to build assessment and consensus. I see the problems in various conflicting assessments, and the IPCC, but again context and relevance. IPCC is a slow process and large, takes time and a lot of discussion, and vetting. Other relevant science institutions are doing relevant work that will take time to make the rounds and get into the IPCC assessments.

    Here’s a fun example of where the IPCC is right and wrong (probably, if you get my meaning): I both agree and disagree with IPCC on seal level assessments. IPCC is conservative and has a low assessment of SLR at this time, but the leading edge of the understanding is up to 2 meters already. So, as always, context is key.

    I don’t know about you, but I say unscientific things all the time. It’s not evil, but context again is key. My opinion may be good or bad but the relevant science is the main point of discussion in RC. Framing that in other contexts occurs quite often though. People do discuss what the implications may be. Through this process we will all learn more about what it all means.

    You are addressing what is ‘true’. But that is a ‘general’ statement. What are your specific issues and contexts? The context of your statement is ‘general’ in nature. What precisely don’t you like about IPCC assessments and what science do you have to refute the assessments?

    I don’t think your frame on Al Gore is contextually relevant. It’s not about Al Gore, it’s about was he accurate, or even ‘generally’. RC has lots of great info on the movie.

    I am a skeptic, if you ask my wife or anyone that knows me, I am very skeptical of what I hear. I place more trust in sources that have exhibited integrity over time and less in those that have not, or that I don’t know. I like to dig and learn though as time allows. I admit I have come to trust Gavin and the RC team quite a lot.

    You state:

    The most irritating (and untrue) posts ascribe motivations to those questioning a point that cannot possibly be known. Some of this is happening in this thread right now. #49 has a discussion with a fossil fuel representative in Europe who “generally” confirms…

    Maybe I’m wrong, but by implication you seem to be stating that my statement is untrue? If so, on what basis? You were not there.

    I am not implying that categorically skeptics feed from the same pot. I am implying that for profit businesses in the fossil fuel industry like to make profits and would like to continue making profits.

    I do not think everyone that is a skeptic is getting a paycheck from the oil industry. If there are any left still receiving money (which is possible if not still likely in some cases), they are becoming fewer and further between as we progress through time and become better educated on the issues at hand.

    I think people just don’t have enough context to understand climate and attribution yet. I still think corporation that are for profit still like to make profit.

    Climate and the politics are complex to be sure. It really is all about context.

    I too enjoy RC, I remember when I first found this sight and was excited to see scientists that arguing the science, not the supposition, in the AGW debate.

  7. 57
    Mark says:

    “And Mark #42…again implying a fossil fuel connection as the sole reason for the skeptics is incorrect.”

    Well have another read of #26 again, Andy.

    But monetary gain cannot be part of someone’s rationale when their rationale is “God Wouldn’t Do That To Me”. Or “I Hate EcoNazis”. For those, it isn’t the money, it’s the message they don’t want.

    But that many others don’t work in Big Oil doesn’t stop Big Oil having trillions of pounds of revenue at stake here. Does it.

    Heck, it isn’t all pro-AGW work in climatology.

    I don’t. I work in IT. So the grant money for professors and doctors of climatology doesn’t matter to me.

    But you never mentioned that one, did you.

  8. 58
    Susan says:

    Thanks, that’s great. I would agree with someone who suggested it is possible for the nonexpert like myself to look at the inconsistencies and check references. I’ve found a number of common snarkisms that are easily called out. Some of my opponents have actually given up in disgust.

  9. 59
    Harold Pierce Jr says:

    ATTN: Gavin!

    FWIW

    We old folks (i.e., >60 years of age) would be greatly appreciative if the posters at all blogs would break their long posts into easily readable paragraphs of ca 6-8 lines and limit them to ca 10 lines. Otherwise the post becomes too difficult to read. If the paragraph is too long, I usually read the first few lines and skip the rest of it.

    For example, I would break Gavin’s long answer at #19 in to shorter paragraphs as follows:

    Ok, this is a typical example of the kind of comment that adds nothing to any conversation. Trivial accusations of ad hom arguments that you demonstrate by finding a title that is not to be found on our site at all – who is being insulting here?.

    There are plenty of comments that are polite and accurate disagreements with our points. But comments that simply dredge up nonsense that someone has cut and pasted in order to vent are just not interesting. Comments that accuse as (us) of bad faith, fraud and dishonesty are not ways to move forward any conversation – how can you have a dialog with people who don’t believe a word you say?

    We choose to try and create a space for genuine conversation, which means weeding out the trolls and the noise. This is an imperfect process, but the alternative is a free-for-all that quickly deteriorates into a food fight. There are plenty of places to indulge in that kind of crap. There are only a few places where it’s not and we are not embarrassed to try to make this site one of them.

    Finally, stating that someone’s argument is bad, or logically incoherent, or internally contradictory or simply irrelevant is not ‘insulting’ people we disagree with – it is simply stating the case. If you have any real examples (as opposed to simply making some up) then let us know and we will endeavor to fix things. – gavin]

    Isn’t the above much easier to read and understand?

  10. 60
    Eli Rabett says:

    Surprisingly the cold food chain appears to be going through Anthony Watts. If you work your way back through technorati he has a direct line to pajama media (now in default) and National Review. Eli suspects he worked hard at that.

  11. 61
    Jim Norvell says:

    I read this from the CERES SITE:

    http://asd-www.larc.nasa.gov/ceres/brochure/sci_priorities.html

    ” Radiation and clouds strongly influence our weather and climate. For example, low, thick clouds reflect incoming solar radiation back to space causing cooling. High clouds trap outgoing infrared radiation and produce greenhouse warming. The Earth Radiation Budget Experiment (ERBE), which was launched on multiple satellite in the mid 1980s, and now the EOS CERES instruments, are providing critical data on the effect of clouds on climate. The data indicate that clouds have an overall net cooling effect on the Earth (i.e., negative net cloud forcing in the figure below). The largest negative cloud forcing is found over the storm tracks at high-to-middle latitudes in the summer hemisphere. The most extreme values occur over marine areas, since the contrast in albedo between clear and cloudy conditions is greatest over oceans. In the tropics, the longwave and shortwave cloud forcings nearly cancel; therefore clouds have neither a heating nor cooling effect in these areas. Much more information is needed about clouds and radiation and their role in climate change. The largest uncertainty in climate prediction models is how to determine the radiative and physical properties of clouds. CERES observations will contribute to improving the scientific understanding of the mechanisms and factors that determine long-term climate variations and trends.

    What is your opinion on this? There are some recent analyses on water vapor at high altitudes that suggest that the relative humidity at alritude is decreasing with increasing CO2 which also gives a negative feedback.

    Jim Norvell

    [Response: CERES is definitely a step forward. But you are a little confused about the “recent analysis” – first off, decreasing relative humidity might still mean increasing specific humidity and thus water vapour would remain a positive feedback (though of a slightly smaller magnitude that anticipated). However, the analysis you are referring to is very partial – the results are not the same if you look at any of the other re-analysis products, and there is plently of reasons to discount trends in these products in the first place – changes in instrumentation, data sources among them. Bottom line is that there is a lot of good evidence that water vapour feedback is positive – See Sherwood and Dessler’s recent commentary for instance. – gavin]

  12. 62
    jyyh says:

    ” For example, low, thick clouds reflect incoming solar radiation back to space causing cooling. High clouds trap outgoing infrared radiation and produce greenhouse warming. ”

    … … how nice that they dimish the positive water feedback, but what happens to water vapour in a higher temperature? Does it get higher or lower?

    Nothing new on the blog, though had an idea of a short story located in the Holocene climatic optimum, it has as of yet, no punchline.

  13. 63

    Jim Norvell wrote in 61:

    In the tropics, the longwave and shortwave cloud forcings nearly cancel; therefore clouds have neither a heating nor cooling effect in these areas.

    Interestingly, this is the same area where we see what is referred to as a “super greenhouse effect” where under clear skies at temperatures above 25 C thermal backradiation increases more rapidly than surface emission.

    Please see:

    At sea surface temperatures (SSTs) larger than 300 Kelvin, the clear sky water vapor greenhouse effect was found to increase with SST at a rate of 13 to 15 watts per square meter per Kelvin. Satellite measurements of infrared radiances and SSTs indicate that almost 52 percent of the tropical oceans between 20 N and 20 S are affected during all seasons….

    Satellite studies (8–10) have found that for clear skies and SSTs above 298 K, the spatial variation of Ga with SST, dGa/d(SST), exceeds the rate of increase of sea surface emission, ds(SST)4/d(SST) = 4σ(SST)3. For a tropical SST of 300 K, 4σ(SST)3 ~ 6.1 W m-2 K-1. This effect, termed the “super greenhouse effect” (11), occurs in both hemispheres during all seasons. It is also observed for interannual variations of Ga with SST during the El Nino in the tropical Pacific (12). Observations in the tropical Atlantic ocean (11) show that the clear sky downwelling infrared flux incident on the surface (Fa-) also increases faster than the surface emission with increasing SST. The net result is further warming of the surface, which in turn induces additional heating of the atmosphere column above.

    Direct radiometric observations of the water vapor greenhouse effect over the equatorial Pacific Ocean
    F.P.J. Valero, W.D. Collins, P. Pilewskie, A. Bucholtz, and P.J. Flatau
    Science, 274(5307), 1773-1776, 21 March 1997

    *

    Gavin inlined:

    Bottom line is that there is a lot of good evidence that water vapour feedback is positive – See Sherwood and Dessler’s recent commentary for instance.

    The following is subscription only, but it is the article that Gavin was refering to, and there is an mp3 interview that is open access:

    ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCE: A Matter of Humidity
    Andrew E. Dessler and Steven C. Sherwood
    Science 323 (5917), 1020-1 (20 Feb 2009)
    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/323/5917/1020/DC1

    *

    Incidentally, I would recommend people checking out the following:

    What if relative humidity was not constant?
    Chris Colose, March 5, 2009 at 4:04 pm
    http://chriscolose.wordpress.com/2009/03/05/what-if-relative-humidity-was-not-constant/

    Chris Colose makes a number of the same points that Dessler and Sherwood make (e.g., that water vapor feedback has to be strongly positive if we are to make sense of paleoclimate data, or for that matter the cooling effect of volcanoes) but is responding to Paltridge.

  14. 64
    Chris Colose says:

    Jim Norvell, (61)

    You’re probably referring to the recent Paltridge et al. paper. Their abstract is very confusing in terms of the claim that decreased relative humidity necessitates a negative feedback. It doesn’t as I go over here.

    Using the Re-analysis for long-term humidity trends is pretty dicey. For instance Soden et al 2005 state “Although an international network of weather balloons has carried water vapor sensors for more than half a century, changes in instrumentation and poor calibration make such sensors unsuitable for detecting trends in upper tropospheric water vapor (27). Similarly, global reanalysis products also suffer from spurious variability and trends related to changes in data quality and data coverage (24).”

  15. 65

    Re 60

    “Cold food chain,” Eli?

    Don’t you think that nowadays the skeptics believe in heating up their late night snacks in the microwave just like everybody else?

    Oops! I forgot…

  16. 66
    David Horton says:

    It’s all excellent advice, but I think really all bloggers should do their own thing. Present what they think is important, and find their own voice, or else they will be like clones of each other. And politeness and modesty (I paraphrase)? You seem to be advising us to speak softly but not carry a big stick. Well, not much of that on the Right these last few decades, and they managed to remake the world in their own image, and prevent action on climate change for the last 2 decades. We need to aim high and be tough.

    Oh and #8 – How on Earth does a small new blog generate 250 hits a day? I reckon my http://www.blognow.com.au/mrpickwick/ is pretty good, on climate change perhaps especially, but I can’t get anything near that after 5 years of working very hard at it. Some advice would be appreciated if any of you can call in and have a look some time.

  17. 67

    José,

    ¡Su Ingles esta muy mejor que mi Español! Pero esta “my blog,” “my English,” con un ‘y.’

  18. 68

    I consider myself a moderate on the lizard overlord issue. They are, of course, impregnating our women. But this is not done in order to rule the universe. It is simply part of their culture to impregnate females of other intelligent species.

    There has been obfuscation and denial on both sides of this issue. It is not only the defenders of the reality orthodoxy who have been reviled and suppressed. Indeed, there has been much censorship and denigration directed at those of us who are skeptical of reality. Truth, as always, lies somewhere in the middle.

  19. 69
    Vernon says:

    Gavin, thank you for your comment in #53 but that does not address the issue raised by Ryan O, namely that the warming for the peninsula is being smeared across the rest of the continent due to not using enough PC. Your point that additional PCs injected artifacts I accept, so does not Ryan O’s position stand? That this methodology is not robust enough?

    “The fact is that the number of retained PCs above two doesn’t impact the long term trends (for instance, for the AWS reconstruction the trends in the mean are -0.08, 0.15, 0.14, 0.16, 0.13 deg C/dec for k=1,2,3,4,5).” – Gavin

    .

    This makes no statement on where those trends occur – which is how this latest discussion started. The aggregate measurement is similar. The geographic distribution of those trends may not be. I haven’t run it myself, but I’d be willing to bet that the geographic distribution changes significantly as higher-order PCs are included. -Ryan O

    I infer from this discussion that there is significant warming on the AP but the methodology is smearing the warming in a true but misleading manner.

    Am I not understanding this?

    [Response: You are not understanding this. The overall trends for WAIS or Antarctica as a whole are not very sensitive to the number of modes used. – gavin]

  20. 70
    ApolytonGP says:

    Gavin:

    1. Put me first on “the list”. I am critical of the IPCC releasing short statements befor the longer work and I also think Singer-penned faux IPCC documents from the Heartland soire are the hight of silliness.

    [edit – just for fun]

  21. 71

    OT: I posted three responses to comments at Accu-weather.com yesterday, talking about global warming. Guess how many are present today? If you guessed “less than one,” you’re right!

    It’s easy to convince people of your message if you only let them hear one side of the argument.

  22. 72
    Lis Jessie says:

    I love reading this site. Its very refreshing. I grew up around scientists, so I know they’re a quarrelsome, contentious lot. Whether they’re still as hard drinking is in dispute. So I’ll read, but I don’t know that I want to argue. I like the fact that everybody here dosen’t want to scream if they hear the phrase “glacial wave” or “Younger Dryas” just ONE more time. So I might at least ask a few questions like; “Why are we so confident the methane hydrates just off the Russian Arctic coasts are stable again? or (and this will really get them going)-“I think its quite probable that there are remains from cities 12-15 thousand yrs. old scattered across the floor of the Mediterranean due to glacial waves. What does the scientific reader community think? Stuff bound to get me in trouble. But if you enjoy thinking about the finer points of chaos and turbulence as it relates to global weather phenomenon, this is a nice place to come. Sometimes I stand on an especially clear ancient beach from Lake Erie’s past and I imagine a two mile wall of dusty ice rising where the lake is now. Now thats interesting. My husband finds the whole concept of paleoclimatology about as interesting as watching paint dry. He is a very smart guy, he says “why don’t you go bug the people at real climate with the whirl pools off Greenland?” I should listen to him. We could use more humor, definitely. My experience teaches me that the scientific community is a hot bed of closet punners. Just let go y’all! Whooppee! I’m off to clean my fish tanks and ponder the scaler effects of local weather formations on a global model.

  23. 73
    Alan of Oz says:

    RE #66 – How on Earth does a small new blog generate 250 hits a day?

    It doesn’t, those days are long gone unless of course you can bring a pre-existing following such as in the case of RC. However I know how you can get several hundered comments and countless ‘hits’ in a single day and perhaps build such a following if you are so inclined. Simply post your stories to major sites and be patient. Not long ago I posted this story and it was accepted to the front page of slashdot.

    Including a link to your own blog would be considered bad form but if you have a free account you can put a link to your blog in your ‘sig’. There is nothing stopping you from commenting on your own story as this rather long journal entry adressed to a skeptical physicist demontrates. I don’t post stories very often but I have a 10% success rate which I reckon isn’t too bad when you look at their “firehose”, it helps to be a bit contraversial, particularly in the headline, but as the RC article suggests it can be hard not to say something that people can jump all over, especially if your trying to grab attention.

    I’m a computer scientist, (since before the web), I don’t have a blog but have had a long interest in climate science and started posting on slashdot in the late 90’s. If you look at the comments to my story in the link you will see the trolls and flamers in all their glory but use the threshold bar to set the view to see only comments scoring 4 and above instead of -1 and above. It paints a different picture of a reasonably intelligent conversation. ( note: slashdot is user moderated but it’s a general geek site, I wouldn’t recommend that for RC )

    There is some great advice in this article, I have posted some 4500 comments to slashdot the majority of them related to climate change and the pendulum has definitely swung in the favour of reason over the last 8-9yrs. But something else has happened, I’m a better writer, I have sharper more succinct arguments that are more often modded up than down, I have learnt a great deal along the way and was overjoyed when RC came into being because of the wealth of info it provides.

    And yeah, I have been targeted by trolls and astro-turfers, I have also made a fool of myself on more than one occasion but people who claim they haven’t made a fool of themselves haven’t learned anything. I agree with RC’s advice, if you can look at yourself in the mirror and still claim intellectual honesty, wear those coordinated attacks like medals.

    One last bit of advise I would add, it’s pointless and even counter productive posting to the psuedo-skeptics site (eg: freerepublic), it only increase their hit count and thus justifies their existance to financial/political backers. Much better to find a ‘skeptic’ in the wild where they are “cut of from the herd” so to speak, challenge their ideas of what skepticisim actually means and give them some leeway to vent, you might be pleasantly suprised by the turn-around but more often than not you won’t. Even if nobody listens to you, sticking with it and practising your own self-skepticisim in all subjects you write and think about can be very rewarding in it’s own right.

    Finally I’d like to point to two pages of humourous advice that has absolutely nothing to do with climate but everything to do with the theme of the fine article.

  24. 74

    A quick question. Is it possible to post pictures here as part of a post?

    John

    [Response: yes. just use < img src= … > tags. – gavin]

  25. 75
    Alan of Oz says:

    Speaking of correcting one’s mistakes: I screwed up the link to my bushfire story, all you can see are the comments here ’tis

  26. 76
    Hank Roberts says:

    Harold Pierce is right about this:
    > We old folks (i.e., >60 years of age) would be greatly appreciative
    > if the posters at all blogs would break their long posts into easily
    > readable paragraphs of ca 6-8 lines and limit them to ca 10 lines.
    > Otherwise the post becomes too difficult to read.
    I’ve asked the same myself in the past.

    Finish a thought, hit Enter.
    Hit Enter again.
    Start another thought.

    Seriously.

    Seriously, kids, if you had any idea just how bad an older person’s vision, and contrast sensitivity, and night vision can become without losing that driver’s license, you’d never drive at night again, realizing that we do. You’re just blur in the glare to us on the highway, most of the time. Yellow line? Ha. Left blur, glare, right blur, we know you’re in there somewhere …

    Same problem can happen with your ideas on the screen.

  27. 77
    Ryan O says:

    Re: John P. Rossman
    .
    You quote me:

    The most irritating (and untrue) posts ascribe motivations to those questioning a point that cannot possibly be known. Some of this is happening in this thread right now. #49 has a discussion with a fossil fuel representative in Europe who “generally” confirms…

    .
    And then say:

    Maybe I’m wrong, but by implication you seem to be stating that my statement is untrue? If so, on what basis? You were not there.

    .
    This can be resolved by using the full quote from me:

    The most irritating (and untrue) posts ascribe motivations to those questioning a point that cannot possibly be known. Some of this is happening in this thread right now. #49 has a discussion with a fossil fuel representative in Europe who “generally” confirms a notion of the industry’s intent and then proceeds to imply that categorically skeptics feed from the same pot.

    .
    I took no issue with your statement. The issue was with the implications in the words that followed. These words were in response to Andy, #47, who said:
    .

    And Mark #42…again implying a fossil fuel connection as the sole reason for the skeptics is incorrect. See how little they actually contribute any more to climate science, as they themselves no longer want to be accused of “rigging” the science.

    .
    Your response:

    As to the fossil fuel connection, it’s rather obvious on a reasonable basis alone. I was in Europe a couple years ago and spoke with a person related to the fossil fuel industry. That person ‘generally’ confirmed for me that their position was that the industry wanted to keep things confused while they figured out how to make money with alternatives. That is still in process.

    .
    I added the emphasis.
    .
    In the following paragraph, you state that those who are not part of the fossil fuel campaign are ignorant of the true facts.
    .

    It’s an evolution with agenda attached. Sure they are getting in line with the debate as they learn more about how to gain advantage. That’s the way the world works, generally speaking. As to those not connected with fossil fuels that are arguing AGW is not real, that’s mainly because they don’t have enough of the relevant context yet. Once one gets there, it is illuminating.

    .
    QED.

  28. 78
    Mark says:

    “Truth, as always, lies somewhere in the middle.”

    Mind you, I like a quote I read on someone’s sig:

    Some say the sun rises in the West. Some say it rises in the East. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle”.

    Does the sun rise in the North or South?

    PS the problem with sarcasm on the internet, you can never be certain whether they’re really being serious.

    You humans…

  29. 79
    Hank Roberts says:

    > cities 12-15 thousand yrs. old scattered across the floor of the
    > Mediterranean

    No, but in the Black Sea, rather more recently: http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=Black+Sea+flood (click “recent” to limit search)
    There’s wonderful archeology coming out of this area

    (The Mediterranean has been dry at times, but not so recently)

    > due to glacial waves

    No idea what that means; look at the science on rising sea levels:

    http://www.geotimes.org/oct06/feature_Geocatastrophes.html
    “… In his classic 1983 book The Mediterranean Was a Desert, geoscientist Ken Hsu paints a dramatic picture of a “deep, dry, hot hellhole,” some 3 kilometers below global sea-level. … 7.2 million to 5.3 million years ago.

    According to Hsu and his colleagues Maria Bianca Cita and Bill Ryan, the crisis ended suddenly, with the Atlantic pouring through the Straits of Gibraltar as a giant waterfall …. The Hsu-Cita-Ryan model has since passed into folklore, widely regarded as the most dramatic example of sea-level change in the geologic record….”

  30. 80
    Joe Hunkins says:

    Most importantly I’d hope the new blogger would follow the many examples here and always eschew obfuscation.

  31. 81
    Pekka Kostamo says:

    Just wondering about the clouds …

    On satellite images taken in the visible bands, the clouds appear white as there is strong backscatter of the incoming solar radiation. This is frequently mentioned.

    On corresponding IR imagery, the clouds appear white because there is a relatively low level of outgoing radiation energy, clouds having nearly always much lower temperature than the ground below. This is seldom (if ever) mentioned in the discussion groups.

    Somewhat peculiar logic in the displays: High energy level seen by the satellite sensor in the visible band is shown as white, but in the IR band a high energy level is shown as black.

    Backscatter in the visible band only works in the daytime, but the IR effect is there both day and night. At first sight it is not at all obvious that the overall impact of clouds is a cooling of the ground surface.

    Coldest nights are the cloudless nights, and this is due to efficient ground surface radiation cooling.

  32. 82
    duBois says:

    An indirect argument against clouds being a net negative forcing: the geological record. Global warming would have been seriously inhibited in the past and we’d never have come out of glaciation.

  33. 83

    Pekka Kostamo wrote in 80:

    On corresponding IR imagery, the clouds appear white because there is a relatively low level of outgoing radiation energy, clouds having nearly always much lower temperature than the ground below. This is seldom (if ever) mentioned in the discussion groups.

    All clouds have a cloud-associated greenhouse effect. In infrared they are fairly close to being blackbodies, so this greenhouse effect is fairly strong. However, they also tend to have a high albedo. So the question is, “Which effect wins out? The high albedo that scatters solar radiation before it can be absorbed by the earth during the day or the cloud-associated greenhouse effect that works day and night?”

    For particular types of clouds the answer depends upon their characteristics, e.g., their thickness. Generally speaking? Difficult to say. However, when duBois states that clouds are a net negative forcing I would be hesitant to accept the statement in no small part because clouds are a feedback, like water vapor, not a forcing. The consensus (to the extent that there exists a consensus) is that in net clouds are probably a slightly negative feedback, if I remember correctly.

    However, pretty much all the evidence points to water vapor being a strong positive feedback since water vapor is a greenhouse gas (clouds on the other hand consist of suspended water droplets) and globally relative humidity appear remain roughly constant, doubling with every 10 °C. For water vapor to be a negative feedback, not only would relative have to decrease with temperature, but so would specific humidity.

    The forcing for carbon dioxide is roughly 1.2 °C per doubling. The climate sensitivity per doubling of carbon dioxide (which is the sum of the forcing and all the feedbacks, including ice, snow, vegetation and aerosols and even depends upon the size and positions of the continents) is likely between 2 °C and 4.5 °C with the most likely value being around 3 °C. However, the probability distribution for climate sensitivity would also appear to have a long tail such that higher values are more like than lower values (just 2 °C is 1 °C below 3 °C but 4.5 °C is 1.5 °C above 3 °C.

  34. 84
    Hank Roberts says:

    Pekka, this may help explain why satellite imagery looks different.
    http://landsat.gsfc.nasa.gov/education/compositor/

    New digital images offer choices about which band to display in which color or grayscale level.

    Astronomers have long preferred negative images:

    Digitizing Tutorial – Page 2 of 7 – Belt of Venus
    Many amateur astronomers prefer to view astronomical images as negatives to better see faint details. I have noticed the usefulness of this myself … …
    http://www.perezmedia.net/beltofvenus/archives/000453.html

  35. 85

    Hank Roberts wrote in 75:

    Seriously, kids, if you had any idea just how bad an older person’s vision, and contrast sensitivity, and night vision can become without losing that driver’s license, you’d never drive at night again, realizing that we do. You’re just blur in the glare to us on the highway, most of the time. Yellow line? Ha. Left blur, glare, right blur, we know you’re in there somewhere …

    Correct me if I am wrong, but I would expect the biggest problem for old eyes is actually with the lines. The text is blurry which strains the eyes, but this results in the eyes more likely wandering, and therefore the reader is more likely to lose their place among the lines of a long paragraph.

    (I suspect it will help the young remember if they have a better idea of what is actually going on.)

  36. 86
    Mark says:

    and further to Tim’s #84 post, there are these things called “Assistive technologies”. OK, so they’re only really prevalent in applications on Linux (where you have an open format and API to write your AT against, unlike the closed NDA requiring MSOffice or inscrutable ActiveX), but you can still change your fonts. This is WHY HTML isn’t a typesetting language. It is information and context. Presentation can go hang: the browser/user defines that.

    Though to hear about what some websites do to “maintain the eXPerience”, you’d think otherwise…

  37. 87

    #61 Jim Norvell

    I’m not totally up on this but in a conversation at Scripps last fall, a friend mentioned to me that the relative humidity remains approximately around 80% (if I am recalling accurately) while the water vapor is increasing.

    As to the negative albedo of clouds, the one thing that is missing from the negative albedo cloud argument is that it has been warmer in the past. That, at least is indicative that a warming planet will not increase negative cloud albedo sufficiently to counter the warming imposed. But that is a gross oversimplification.

    I’m not a scientist so I can only look at this form an analytical perspective and watch as the data and modeling comes in, but I think it may be reasonable to assume based on paleo that the negative will not outweigh the positive. Looking forward to the science on that one as it develops.

  38. 88

    #76 Ryan O

    Right, generally.

    So for clarification, can you speak plainly for me. You are stating that what I said about my conversation with a fossil fuel representative is not true? A simple ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ will suffice, I have little appreciation for plausible deniability and more respect for those that get right to the point without even a semblance of grammatical obfuscation. Your placement of the word “Some” leaves room for ambiguity (as in “Some of this is happening in this thread right now.”) I’d prefer it if you just called me a liar, so it is clear for all. However, if you are going to call me a liar, please state your full legal name and where I can reach you.

    On your final point though you are incorrectly translating my words.

    – I am not trying to say, or imply, as you state “that those who are not part of the fossil fuel campaign are ignorant of the true facts.”

    – I am trying to say that people, as I stated, “don’t have enough of the relevant context yet.”

  39. 89
    Hank Roberts says:

    Timothy, readability is a complicated subject in itself. Human visual change with age is also variable.

    (Also each browser gives some control, each user needs to tweak for readability personally.)

    Printers learned much since 1439 that helps people read and understand (fonts, kerning, line spacing, white space, margins, indents, paragraph spacing, and much else). Printers made the writer’s ability to organize thinking appear on the page.

    Stream-of-consciousness typing misses all that help.

    We take the knowledge printers learned for granted, until we try to read something unformatted.

    Shortest summary is: to help people to read and understand each idea, set it apart as a paragraph.

    Search “online readability” for much, much more.

    Remember too color vision differs: http://snook.ca/technical/colour_contrast/colour.html

  40. 90

    A quick question. Is it possible to post pictures here as part of a post?

    John

    [Response: yes. just use “” tags. – gavin]

    I’m obviously missing something.

    Can you give me an example of the syntax?

    Thanks

    Burgy

    [Response: This is an example <img src=”http://www.wow-europe.com/shared/wow-com/images/news/2005-05/testrealm-icon.jpg” > will give . Size it using ‘width=”20%” ‘ or similar inside the tags. – gavin]

  41. 91
    Rick Brown says:

    Re: Dessler and Sherwood 2009 – this article is available at http://geotest.tamu.edu/userfiles/216/dessler09.pdf

    Re: Those of us in the 60+ crowd having difficulty with long paragraphs. Timothy (# 84) suggests “The text is blurry which strains the eyes, but this results in the eyes more likely wandering, and therefore the reader is more likely to lose their place among the lines of a long paragraph.”

    That may well be the case, but I often fail to make it all the way through comments with long paragraphs because the writer’s thoughts are blurry, which strains my patience, resulting in my likely wandering to the next comment in hopes that I’ll find greater clarity of thought and expression.

  42. 92
    David B. Benson says:

    Barton Paul Levenson (70) — That site sometimes sends posts into the bit bucket; that’s not intensional. Also, sometimes it takes up to three days for comments to appear, that being some weekends.

  43. 93
    duBois says:

    However, when duBois states that clouds are a net negative forcing

    Actually, I was arguing that clouds were a net positive forcing. If clouds were a negative forcing we’d never have come out of glaciation since an increase in temps would increase cloud cover which would lower temps. Etc.

    I would never make it as a blogger since I obviously don’t make myself clear. Sorry.

  44. 94
    Will Denayer says:

    Hi,
    This is probably not the right place to post this, but I found this somewhere (actually on a chess website). Please realise that these are not my words and I do not agree with it. Here is the quote:

    “To quote but one contrarian (Roy Spencer, the first I found at hand, and not one with whom I necessarily agree): […] there are a number of different opinions on what controls changes in the climate system. For instance, I now believe that most of the warming in the last 100 years was due to natural cloud variations caused by the Pacific Decadal Oscillation. I will be presenting evidence for that on Tuesday morning, along with new evidence that the climate system is much less sensitive than the alarmists claim it is. The talk to which he refers is part of the 2009 International Conference on Climate Change, also pejoratively known as the largest “denier” confab extant. I have no great desire to enumerate various others who find the suggestions of Hansen and the Hadley Centre to be hyperbolic, so I hope the above is sufficient to adumbrate my dispute with your claim of unanimity.

    As an aside, cloud modelling (past, present, and future) is probably the most difficult component in atmospheric models currently, and the assumptions therein can often determine whether one should expect positive or negative feedback from other effects. While no one would dispute that increased gas concentrations should imply higher temperatures, the pre-feedback effect is logarithmic, and even there one finds disagreement over the so-called “climate sensitivity” parameter to be used in the models.”

    What do you think about these claims?
    Best, Will

  45. 95

    Thanks, Dave. I do get a bit paranoid at times. My apologies to Accu-weather.

  46. 96

    I am one of the colleagues Burgy mentioned in his post. I asked a question about Scafetta and West’s work a couple weeks ago. Thanks for the links to the interactions with Scafetta. I’m not going to respond before I’ve read some more of the relevant references, but when I do I’d like to know a bit more about how to post on this blog. For example, can I start a new topic? To date I’ve just responded to topics already listed, and I haven’t been able to find any other means of posting, but there’s not always a good fit. Thanks.

  47. 97

    David B Benson wrote in 91:

    Barton Paul Levenson (70) — That site sometimes sends posts into the bit bucket; that’s not intensional. Also, sometimes it takes up to three days for comments to appear, that being some weekends.

    I don’t know about the AccuWeather blog, but earlier this week at Real Climate I made a fairly long comment at 9 March 2009 at 8:41 PM (344 in “What George Will should have written”) then made a much shorter comment at 9 March 2009 at 10:15 PM (89 in “Its wrong to wish on space hardware”) and the short comment appeared almost immediately. The short comment showed up almost immediately, but the long comment took until the next morning.

    I have noticed this pattern before. However, the longer posts show up at the correct position (according to the datetime stamp) in the sequence of comments. But if a fair number of short posts show up at the same time, you may have a little difficulty finding it since the shorter posts will be closer to the bottom.

    *

    Captcha fortune cookie seems oddly appropriate:
    reply 31)Evening

  48. 98
    Ike Solem says:

    You left out the most important points!

    1) Use reliable references. In science blogging, this matters a lot – and not just any published nonsense, you have to know the research landscape, meaning you’ll need to be at least familiar with all the sections of the last IPCC report, and have some idea as to why it is now viewed as a conservative estimate of future changes.

    If you’ve never researched the scientific literature, then you have a steep learning curve ahead of you. For a potentially helpful example, let’s ask a bloggable question: is there a link between global warming, California drought, and California wildfires?

    First, don’t go to the newspapers and blogs for your primary information – do what science journalists do, and check the press releases. Important studies also show up in Science and Nature, often with helpful news articles, but access is limited. Also, science press releases are “embargoed” – employees of major press outlets get to see them first, bloggers have to wait.

    There are a number of web sites that tally up press releases and repost them verbatim. For example, sciencedaily.com has a lot of press releases on file – but these are not edited or fact-checked, just compiled. To post a meaningful article on such a press release, you have to know the background. For example, take this one:

    Wildfires: Why California Should Consider Australia’s ‘Prepare, Stay And Defend’ Policy, ScienceDaily (Mar. 11, 2009)

    Over the past several years, scientists from UC Berkeley’s Center for Fire Research and Outreach have been collaborating with colleagues from Australia to study best practices in an effort to reduce the loss of life and property from wildfires. Their report on what lessons U.S. wildfire management officials can learn from Australia is scheduled for publication today (Thursday, Feb. 26) in the open-access journal Environmental Research Letters.

    A quick search for the article and the authors turns up the following blog on Australia’s wildfires and the article in question:

    http://firecenter.berkeley.edu/blog/

    So what caused this colossal inferno? In pointing to arson as the cause of these fires, we miss the overall significance of the fire dynamics that gave rise to this event. While arson is a lamentable and criminal source of ignition, with relative humidity and fuel moisture at below four percent, a lit cigarette or a spark thrown off by a moving vehicle could have caused similar wildland fires. Where there are people, there are always sources of ignition — what fire scientists call the “human-ignition component.” The larger issue at stake here is what gave rise to such extreme fire weather.

    Australian fire scientists say that this area of Victoria has experienced between five and 30 years of drought (depending on if you are counting by successive years or overall water balances), the worst in perhaps 1000 years. Some, perhaps rightly, blame global climate change for what is known as the “Big Dry.” Diminishing rainfall, increased temperatures, and increased atmospheric instability all lead to higher fire danger.

    So, that’s a blog about the research paper, more clearly written than any newspaper article on the fires, most of which emphasize arson and ignore global warming. (Also follows all the suggested blogging rules)

    There are dozens of other papers that use the three lines of evidence available to climate scientists – computer models, real-time data and paleoclimate evidence – to show a link between global warming, drought and increased wildfires in the world’s subtropical regions. The discussion is now mostly about how to respond or adapt to the situation, which is pretty dire, with almost $1 billion in fire losses in California in 2008 – and what about this year?

    If there is an opposing argument, be sure to include it and discuss it. For example, what are we to make of this sciencedaily press release from NASA:

    Oscillation Rules As The Pacific Cools

    ScienceDaily (Dec. 12, 2008) — The latest image of sea-surface height measurements from the U.S./French Jason-1 oceanography satellite shows the Pacific Ocean remains locked in a strong, cool phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, a large, long-lived pattern of climate variability in the Pacific associated with a general cooling of Pacific waters. The image also confirms that El Niño and La Niña remain absent from the tropical Pacific.”

    The gist there is that the drought could be due to a cool phase of the PDO – or is it due to La Nina? Complicated question – but this other press release from NASA might help sort it out:

    http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/2008_temps.html

    The year-to-year variations on the ever-increasing temperature trend (graph at link above) are best explained by El Nino/La Nina cycles plus global warming – but the overall trend is pretty obvious.

    Note that the areas of most rapid warming are the northern polar regions and the Antarctic peninsula, which fits with models of global warming. That also coincides with the expansion of the subtropical dry zones, due to changes in atmospheric circulation brought on by the warming atmosphere. There are a lot of references on that, and here is an example:

    Expansion of the Hadley cell under global warming, Lu et. al , GFDL/NOAA Princeton 2007 (pdf)

    Consistent weakening and poleward expansion of the Hadley circulation are diagnosed in climate change simulations of the IPCC AR4 project. Associated with this widening is a concomitant poleward expansion of the subtropical dry zone.

    That’s the easily understandable part, followed by a lot of jargon. Your job is then to translate that into easily understandable English, which has happily already been done for us:

    http://www.atmos.washington.edu/~dargan/summaries/flc07.html

    Discussion: One of the most consistent responses of climate models to global warming is a widening of the Hadley circulation. Since the downward branch of the Hadley cell is associated with many of the largest deserts on Earth, the poleward expansion of the Hadley cell also means a poleward expansion of the dry zones. In climate models, the poleward expansion of the Hadley cell is closely linked with the predicted drought in the Southwest US, the Mediterranean, and other locations in similar latitude bands.

    So, you might then be able to conclude that, A) current data shows the worst long-term drought situation on record, emphasize long-term, and B) numerical physical climate models predict this to happen based on expansion of the Hadley circulation cells, and C) There are examples of drought regimes brought on across the region due to much smaller climate forcings than the current fossil CO2 forcing, which seems to indicate that climate may be more sensitive to forcing than the IPCC estimated.

    So, now you’ve written your blog, based on references, you have something to mail to journalists who write articles about California and Australian drought and wildfires while ignoring the fact of global warming – at least, they won’t be able to claim ignorance any longer – but that will only be true if you include a good list of references, presented in an accessible manner.

  49. 99
    Ryan O says:

    Re: John P. Reisman (#87):
    .
    You are aware of the straw man technique, no? If not, I would recommend this reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Straw_man .
    .
    In this case, the straw man is your accusation that I called you a liar. I did nothing of the sort. I did not say or imply that your conversation with the fossil fuel representative was a fabrication. I have no reason to doubt your statement. Furthermore, whether the conversation actually happened is irrelevant to my point.
    .
    By setting up this straw man, you are attempting to avoid the real issue, which is that individuals showing skepticism are routinely dismissed as having been bought/influenced by the fossil fuel industry with zero corroborating evidence. That is what I accused you of doing. To confirm, let us review what I said [take 3]:

    The most irritating (and untrue) posts ascribe motivations to those questioning a point that cannot possibly be known. Some of this is happening in this thread right now. #49 has a discussion with a fossil fuel representative in Europe who “generally” confirms a notion of the industry’s intent and then proceeds to imply that categorically skeptics feed from the same pot.

    .
    To avoid any “semblance of grammatical obfuscation”, let us restate this in simpler terms:
    .
    1. It irritates me when people ascribe motives to others when they cannot possibly know what the motives are.
    .
    2. The activity described in #1 is occurring in some posts in this thread.
    .
    3. As an example, #49 has a conversation with a fossil fuel representative and concludes that the skeptics are motivated by what the fossil fuel industry wants.
    .
    Please note that in both the original quote and the restatement, I accepted your conversation with the fossil fuel representative as fact.
    .
    Just to be complete, I note that the accusation of “grammatical obfuscation” is nonsensical. This apparently means that you believe I have somehow obscured the meaning of my post through clever use of punctuation and non-standard sentence structure, in which case I would refer you this helpful online text: http://papyr.com/hypertextbooks/grammar/ .
    .
    Lastly, you choose to invoke an inverse straw man technique on your own argument, which is more commonly known as the True Scotsman fallacy. The success of this depends upon you quoting yourself out of context:
    .

    I am trying to say that people, as I stated, “don’t have enough of the relevant context yet.”

    .
    Similar, but not the same as:
    .

    It’s an evolution with agenda attached. Sure they are getting in line with the debate as they learn more about how to gain advantage. That’s the way the world works, generally speaking. As to those not connected with fossil fuels that are arguing AGW is not real, that’s mainly because they don’t have enough of the relevant context yet. Once one gets there, it is illuminating.

    .
    The latter (full) quote clearly indicates that you are talking about skeptics who are not connected to fossil fuels. You state that if they had “enough of the relevant context” that they would relinquish their skepticism. If we are to make the reasonable assumption that this “relevant context” is provided by scientific facts – facts that these skeptics do not have enough of – then this is identical to stating that skeptics unconnected with fossil fuels are ignorant of these facts. Ergo, my statement stands.
    .
    If, however, the “relevant context” is not provided by scientific facts then the “relevant context” refers to matters of opinion and belief. Matters of opinion and belief do not provide a scientific reason for skeptics to relinquish their skepticism. The statement is still superficially true in that if they were to change their beliefs they would no longer be skeptical, but the reasoning is now circular.
    .
    I await your clarification.

  50. 100
    Jim Norvell says:

    Gavin, I think you have hit upon the primary problem. From what I have read, there is no good data to support either a positive or negative feedback from additional CO2 and how it affects water vapor feedback at high altitudes. We are trying to predict something like a 0.1 degree temperature change per decade and the noise level in the data is greater than that. I am not willing to expend large quantities of money to combat something that is not that well defined. However if you want to change the subject to becoming energy independent then you have my support.

    Jim N

    [Response: Where do you get that? There are plenty of bits of evidence for positive water vapour feedback. See Sherwood And Dessler linked above. – gavin]


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