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Throw your iPhone into the climate debate

Filed under: — rasmus @ 19 February 2010

Who says that the climate debate is not evolving? According to the daily newspaper the Guardian, a new application (‘app‘) has been written for iPhones that provides a list of climate dissidents’ arguments, and counter arguments based on more legitimate scientific substance. The app is developed by John Cook from ‘Skeptical Science‘. It’s apparently enough to have the climate dissidents up in arms – meaning that it’s likely to have some effect? Some dissidents are now thinking of writing their own app.

Here on RC, we have developed a wiki, to which I also would like to bring the reader’s attention. Furthermore, I want to remind the readers about other useful web sites, listed at our blog roll.


532 Responses to “Throw your iPhone into the climate debate”

  1. 51
    Sloop says:

    Anand @32:

    ““Climate.gov” – says more than anyone could could ever convey.”

    In part, I agree with your sentiment: protecting current and future generations of all living beings from deleterious, potentially catastrophic, anthropogenic perturbations to the planet’s atmosphere and oceans is inherent to government’s responsibility to protect public health,safety, and welfare.

    But all I really ask is that you use this new portal into NOAA, not condemn its web address.

    John (Burgy) Burgeson @ 37:

    You view exemplifies pure free-market economism; a perspective on reality championed in much (not all) of contemporary American society. But even if you do score big on equity investments in coal-based energy, what kind of world will you and your progeny have to enjoy all those additional ‘bio-survival coupons’ ?

    Second, that “the denialists are going to win” is one of the most poignent ironies I’ve read in a while.

    Climate change isn’t about a (political or scientific) battle between two well-defined sides, its about coming to terms with how, everyday, what we as a species do in the present increasingly constraints how we as a species will evolve long long into the future.

  2. 52
    Steve Bloom says:

    RC authors, the AccuWeather blog, listed near the top of the RC roll due to the alphabetization, is *not* a good place to direct anyone.

  3. 53
    Tim Jones says:

    Re: 4 John Cook says: 19 February 2010 at 4:22 AM

    “As the app automatically updates its data every few days, I’m also adding new skeptic arguments regularly – just added “Phil Jones said global warming stopped in 1995? today.”

    This whole concept is such an excellent and timely answer to the deniers disinformation campaign.

    New posts were so timely I thought you were channeling RC discussions yesterday.

  4. 54
    wilt says:

    Gavin, in your response to my previous remarks (#26) you bring up the predictable objection about ‘short-term’. From your response to #46 I understand that you regard 20 years as a reasonable period for drawing conclusions about temperature trends. So you will agree that when during the 30 years from 1910 to 1940 there was a similar temperature increase per decade as in the period 1975-1998 (as admitted by Phil Jones) one should take that seriously. You will also agree that from 1910 to 1940 the CO2 concentration remained virtually the same (increasing from about 293 to 300 ppmv) and therefore was not a significant driving force during that period. Whatever were the driving forces in the period 1910-1940 (it is not relevant for the present discussion whether they were multidecadal oscillations and/ or solar effects and/ or cosmic rays and/ or changes in other natural factors), those natural driving forces managed to cause a temperature increase similar to the 1975-1998 period. Can you or any of your esteemed colleagues explain to me why it would be unlikely or even inconceivable that similar forces were present during 1975-1998 and caused most or all of the warming then?
    If you add the (admittedly relatively short) period of 1860-1880 when temperature also increased significantly, then there were 3 episodes of warming since 1850 and in two cases the increase was surely from natural causes. It is hard for me and many others in my surrounding to accept that those natural causes would all have vanished into thin air by 1975.

  5. 55
    MarkB says:

    The reason why “skeptics” are upset over this is because they’re not used to having their random unsupported claims challenged publicly. The same tired arguments from the same individuals get recycled and repeated by the media ad nauseam, while the slightest error found among mainstream science is overhyped and blown out of proportion ad nauseam.

    As Dr. Steven Chu said:

    “If you look at the climate sceptics, I would have to say honestly, what standard are they being held to? It’s very asymmetric. They get to say anything they want.”

    Hopefully, the broader media will take a more critical look at them. John Cook’s website and app certainly does. Most importantly, it accurately represents the body of academic research in doing so.

  6. 56
    Larry Johnson says:

    Yeah, I’m sure that’s completely unbiased. Give it up.

  7. 57
    MarkB says:

    Steve Bloom (#52),

    “RC authors, the AccuWeather blog, listed near the top of the RC roll due to the alphabetization, is *not* a good place to direct anyone.”

    I comment occasionally on various blog posts there and find the comments section littered with anti-science fanatics. The biggest problem with AccuWeather is that they force a “faux balance” approach to the issue. I believe the primary blogger is sincere and reasonable, and often presents interesting information, but his superiors emphasize the blog needs a “both sides” look, which means covering claims from political hacks like Morano, the Heartland Institute, “ClimateGate”, etc.. It’s often “manmade GW proponents” vs “it’s not manmade proponents”, as opposed to simply looking at the science and examining where it leads. Perhaps a good reason to go to the site would be to encourage more science-based posts and combat the regular fanatics that troll the comments section.

  8. 58
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Tim Jones asks “What’s next? An apps race?”

    What’s next is I buy Apple stock!

  9. 59
    wilt says:

    I agree with Ken (#49) that it would be interesting to have a discussion on the long-term increase of winter snow cover on the Northern Hemisphere (I am writing long-term here because it’s happening since 1989; I know there is a difference between weather and climate). I realise that it may be off topic so I suggest to open a new thread on this if possible.

  10. 60
    MapleLeaf says:

    OT, but some good news form the media for once.

    There are still some credible journalists out there who get what is going on here– This by Jeffrey Sachs.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/cif-green/2010/feb/19/climate-change-sceptics-science#start-of-comments

    After reading that I felt better about the world, then I made the mistake of reading some of the comments. OMG. He must have hit the nail on the head b/c those in denial are fuming.

    Jeffrey needs our support.

  11. 61
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Wilt, see:
    http://tamino.wordpress.com/2010/02/18/cherry-snow/#comment-39530

    Cherry-picked trends by definition are not interesting.

  12. 62
    MarkB says:

    Wilt (#59),

    A more complete discussion on such a topic than the ones you’re probably used to can be found here:

    http://tamino.wordpress.com/2010/02/18/cherry-snow/

    Always look for the forest when among the trees.

  13. 63

    #49 ken

    I won’t waste my time sifting through their info as it is well known spin site. However, as to whether or not models miss the mark?

    All the time.

    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/myths/models-can-be-wrong

    It’s not about missing the mark, it’s about what can we learn and the contexts involved. The point being models help us understand what we understand and don’t understand to various relevant degrees.

    Saying models miss the mark is a red herring distraction and a straw-man


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  14. 64
    Deech56 says:

    RE Tim Jones
    Is the so-called “climaterealists.com” site something like “Denial Depot”? It’s a spoof, right? Best laugh I’ve had in a while.

  15. 65
    Jeffrey Davis says:

    re: #47
    “The temperature records show a cooling”

    Not since this morning. It’s around 15F warmer since this morning.

  16. 66
    Pete Dunkelberg says:

    The geniuses at Watsup don’t accept science so they don’t know that more precipitation is expected (but only on some areas) and when the temperature is right it takes the form of snow. So they invent a “mark” that snow is supposed (in their imagination) to meet and manufacture a failure of models that they know little of. Note analysis at Tamino’s Cherry Snow and also the snow cover in other seasons – declining despite winter snow because fall snow starts later and the spring melt starts earlier. http://i81.photobucket.com/albums/j237/hausfath/Picture42.png

  17. 67
    Septic Matthew says:

    59, Wilt: I agree with Ken (#49) that it would be interesting to have a discussion on the long-term increase of winter snow cover on the Northern Hemisphere (I am writing long-term here because it’s happening since 1989; I know there is a difference between weather and climate). I realise that it may be off topic so I suggest to open a new thread on this if possible.

    Right now NH snow cover nearly equals a peak achieved about 100 years ago, so it is the most in about a century but not unprecedented. Here is a paper discussed today on WUWT showing that the IPCC models predict gradually reduced N. American snow cover:

    http://www.eee.columbia.edu/research-projects/water_resources/climate-change-snow-cover/index.html

    About the apps: I think it would be wise for AGW scientists to concentrate on the science for about 5 years, and leave the popularization/communication to others, except for formal and professional venues like working for the IPCC working groups and testifying (strictly about science) to Congress. When speaking publicly ad lib about policy and the motivations of others, scientists sound, — how shall I put this? — As Dumb as Inhofe. Also, I suspect that people who get their news from apps, like people who get their news from tv, are people who don’t want to know. It’s only a suspicion and I am open to correction. It reminds me of people who feel a need to compete in the public sphere with Rush Limbaugh — you can’t win a serious scientific debate that way. It is perhaps unfortunate that the scientific method, diligently pursued, may take decades to arrive at the truth (as in the Wegener case), but when scientists dabble in policy they just slow down the progress.

  18. 68
    Ken W says:

    wilt (26) wrote:
    ” thought this was a site devoted to climate DEBATE.
    Please explain then why you are now bringing in some Apple application that like a stuck record will repeat one of two standard responses to whatever argument is brought up”

    The skeptical science site is also devoted to communicating accurate climate science. This application is yet another tool to get accurate information to the public. And if you ever took the time to visit that site, you would see that if definitely is not “one or two standard responses”. It’s a wealth of carefully researched, well reasoned, and properly documented (to numerous peer reviewed sources) climate information.

  19. 69
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Wilt,

    Sigh!

    More cherry-picking. No wonder cherries are so expensive these days.

    First, no responsible climate scientist would contend that CO2 is the only climate driver.

    Second, note that CO2 forcing scales logarithmically in CO2 concentration, so the increase in CO2 forcing from 1910 to 1940 is about half that from 1975-1998. At the same time, solar irradiance was increasing and continued to do so up until about 1950-60. Finally, the period from 1910 to 1940 was remarkably free of large volcanic eruptions, with their cooling effect. I think that explains a lot of the effect right there.

  20. 70
    Pete Dunkelberg says:

    Tamino’s analysis is fine, but you should be able to see that the Wattsers are dumbing off again without it. Try that without looking at Tamino.

  21. 71
    Ken W says:

    wilt (54) wrote:
    “Can you or any of your esteemed colleagues explain to me why it would be unlikely or even inconceivable that similar forces were present during 1975-1998 and caused most or all of the warming then?”

    If you had this new app (or simply visited the skepticalscience.com site) you’d have ready answers to your own questions. Try reading here:
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/global-warming-early-20th-century.htm
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/CO2-is-not-the-only-driver-of-climate.htm
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/climate-change-little-ice-age-medieval-warm-period.htm

  22. 72
    CL says:

    Speaking of your blogroll, you need to update the links since many are out of date. Several go to “we have moved” pages (ex Cntr. for Enviro. Journalism) and at least one is dead (ex Climate Science).

    [Response: fixed those two. Let us know if you spot any other problems. - gavin]

  23. 73
  24. 74
    Tim Jones says:

    Re: 55 MarkB says: 19 February 2010 at 12:58 PM
    “The reason why “skeptics” are upset over this is because they’re not used to having their random unsupported claims challenged publicly.”

    Not to mention that every reporter, pundit and anchor person with the app on their iPhone will be able to fact check an assertion on the spot to do so. Not much excuse for media ignorance at this point.

  25. 75
    Pete Wirfs says:

    I’ve really enjoyed this guys climate reports on YouTube;

    http://www.youtube.com/user/greenman3610

  26. 76

    #59 wilt

    It’s easy to understand the long-term increase. Warmer oceans due to global warming evaporate more moisture into the atmosphere. Water is a significant greenhouse gas.

    More atmospheric moisture means more rain and snow.

    This is not rocket science actually. Try putting two pots of water on your stove. One with a high flame and one with a low flame and see which one evaporates faster.


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  27. 77
    Steve Bloom says:

    Re #57: Sure, Mark, and as you know I’ve put in my time at the AW blog, but the point about the blogroll listing here is that such “balanced” sites shouldn’t have a place on it since neophytes who visit them will tend to be misled. Others (like you and me) have no problem finding such places if we want to participate.

  28. 78
    Doug Bostrom says:

    wilt says: 19 February 2010 at 9:50 AM

    “debate” != “science”

  29. 79
    ken says:

    #63 Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 19 February 2010 @ 1:54 PM

    I can agree with you that models can miss the mark. They aren’t 100% accurate 100% of the time. However where I disagree with you is where you say it is a red herring or a straw man argument. When there are papers published which talk about the hazards of less snow fall as a result of climate change, and the models predict less snow fall, it is hardly a straw man argument.

    Additionally, in light of the current snowy winter in North America as well as the UK and Europe, there has been a fair amount of discussion amongst supporters of the AGW theory that more snow is a result of a warmer climate due to higher volumes of water vapour in the atmosphere causing more precipitation. One would think that these would be fairly fundamental components of a climate model, so to be off in such a manner as to predict decreasing snowfall trends when in reality we are seeing increasing snowfall trends, it should be raising alarm bells by the model developers, and perhaps a fundamental rethink, wouldn’t you agree?

    I use stormwater flow models in my line of work, and if they predicted high water surface elevations, and low velocities, and as such, we recommended that no erosion protection was necessary based on those models, and then, in reality, high water velocities were experienced causing large amounts of erosion and property damage as a result, we would be headed to court. Luckily, we always perform a reality check, and compare our model results to real world experience prior to drawing any conclusions or making any recommendations.

    Here we have a case where the GCMs are not just off the mark, but reality is showing the trend to be opposite of what they predicted. Again, why is this not triggering some sort of fundamental rethink?

  30. 80
    Doug Bostrom says:

    MarkB says: 19 February 2010 at 12:58 PM

    “The reason why “skeptics” are upset over this is because they’re not used to having their random unsupported claims challenged publicly.”

    Same deal as jumping with both feet on “The Daily Mangle” (I still love that name).

  31. 81
    wilt says:

    Within minutes after posting my remark at #59 about the trend in winter snow cover, both Ray Ladbury (#61) and MarkB (62) had posted their almost identical response, with an identical link to Tamino’s site. It seems to me that, with so many Real Climate contributors around that apparently are even better conditioned than Pavlov’s dogs, the Iphone app may not even be required anymore.

    But with respect to the snow topic: if you think that there is a change in winter snow since 1989 as Steven Goddard apparently does (Tamino gives the wrong link, here is the correct one: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/02/19/north-america-snow-models-miss-the-mark/ ) then the obvious thing to do is to analyse the winter data from 1989. That’s a period of 22 years, and Goddard’s conclusion would not be much different if the period started a few years earlier or later. So I don’t think you can call that cherry-picking. What Tamino does is take data over a much longer period (starting in 1967) and also change the nature of the data (by including others seasons) which predictably brings him to another conclusion. I don’t think that is a fair way to analyse Goddard’s document. And bringing up the data of the amount of snow in July, as Tamino does to make his point, will probably not be very convincing to most people living in the Northern Hemisphere.

  32. 82
    Mesa says:

    This post shows categorically that climate science as construed here at Real Climate is completely different than all other actual scientific disciplines. Very few legitimate scientific enterprises need their own PR machines.

    [Response: Correct. It’s more multidisciplinary, more difficult, and in many ways, more sophisticated. Very few scientific disciplines address global scale processes that affect a large number of vested economic interests. Zero in fact. You want to see “PR”, you need to look there.–Jim

    I think it speaks volumes about the strength of the evidence for immediate, dramatic socio-economic change (weak) , and the strength of the scientific case for trivial to modest AGW (decent). The difference lies in the agendas of the proponents of the first case, and the mantle of imprtance that ahheres to them if there is indeed a “crisis”, which it doesn’t appear that there is.

  33. 83
    Hank Roberts says:

    > jn-seo
    That post is by a blogspam bot, no humanity involved

    > snowfall … WTF
    http://tamino.wordpress.com/2010/02/18/cherry-snow

  34. 84
    Andrew Adams says:

    #35 Frank O’Dwyer

    Exactly – it amazes me how scientists have gone to such trouble to fix the temperature records to show warming but have ended up with data that shows no warming for 15 years and has it getting cooler for the last 10. So they are hopelessly incompetent as well as corrupt.

    [Response: That spiel works fine out amongst the conspiracy theory wolf pack, but not here. You have no idea what you are talking about. In fact it's amazing how you were able to squeeze so many wrong allegations and statements of fact into such a short space.--Jim]

  35. 85
    Tim Jones says:

    Re:64 Deech56 says: 19 February 2010 at 1:55 PM
    RE Tim Jones
    Is the so-called “climaterealists.com” site something like “Denial Depot”? It’s a spoof, right? Best laugh I’ve had in a while.

    http://climaterealists.com/
    More like a big red boil on the butt end of civilization, it’s a spin
    machine. No spoof. But laughable, I’m sure.

  36. 86
    Hank Roberts says:

    Wilt, #54
    Use the search box at the top of the page, it’ll find many times people here have asked the same question you’re asking. Here’s one with an inline response: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/11/a-phenomenological-sequel/comment-page-1/#comment-71395

  37. 87
    David B. Benson says:

    Steve Bloom has the right of it I fear.

  38. 88
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Wilt, the date is cherrypicked, and that means the significance test isn’t a simple t-test. Tamino’s Monte-carlo approach is in fact the correct one in this case.

    Think about it. If you can pick any date as your starting point, obviously that adjustable parameter is going to inflate your result. You have to compensate for that.

  39. 89

    #79 ken

    I do not agree because any information out of context loses validity. Context is key.

    It’s simple, less snowfall in some areas, more in others.

    It’s important to understand latitudinal shift. This article is not specifically about it but it does put it in the context.

    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/arctic-polar-amplification-effect

    I don’t know all the factors, but in my over-simplistic reasoning, I do know that if you heat up air, it pushes things out of the way. And in the atmosphere that is complex due to the various currents, updrafts and circulation patterns in each latitudinal range.

    I also don’t’ know how much this is calculated in current GCM’s. If anyone else has input on the this please feel free to add.

    In the discussions I have had, most agree that precipitation trends will change and much more is expected in the higher latitudes.

    Remember, context is always the key.


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  40. 90

    #81 wilt

    As to your proposal that people in RC are conditioned like Pavlovs dogs…

    If you are in a classroom and some one asks how much is 2+2 and many students chime in and say 4, do you think they are trained seals, or answering the question with a relevant answer?

    Be careful burning all that straw, your are raising the Co2 levels.


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  41. 91

    #82 Mesa

    Wow, I’m speechless. Well, as the say a picture is worth a thousand words:

    http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs/Fig.A2.lrg.gif

    Please do point out to all of us “no warming for 15 years” and how it is “getting cooler for the last 10″.


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  42. 92
    Didactylos says:

    “ken”:

    Did you bother to find out what the climate models actually predict in terms of precipitation?

    If you did, please provide some references.

  43. 93
    Doug Bostrom says:

    For all the heat being generated here by “dissidents”, where’s the new light? Events of the past few weeks have reinvigorated the contrarian crowd, they’re appearing here for instance in droves to defend the dive into degeneration we’ve witnessed of late, but where are the new arguments? Along with the celebration of confusion we’ve seen a lot of old material put on stage once more, but they’ve got all the faults they had the first time around. When, finally, are we going to hear some plausible, robust, coherent and consistent rebuttals to what’s in the IPCC WG1 report, for instance?

    Dissidents have proven already to everybody’s complete satisfaction they’re always ready to engage in political furor, but where’s the scientific progress on the doubter side? Steven Goddard’s snowfall essay? That’s the latest and greatest? Surely there’s something more?

  44. 94
    Didactylos says:

    Tamino gives the wrong link? Yes, of course he should have been able to link to a post that hadn’t been written yet…..

    (And people wonder why deniers just aren’t taken seriously.)

  45. 95
    MarkB says:

    Wilt (#81),

    Why reinvent the wheel? Tamino’s analysis of Goddard’s silly claims was sufficient. I also thought Dhogaza (see Tamino thread) said it best when pointing out Goddard’s words on the topic:

    “Why did I choose 1989 as the start date? Because that is when the upwards trend started.”

    He found the branch with the best-looking fruit, and the merry band of followers ate it up.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cherry_picking

    …not to mention he’s cherry-picking his endpoint too, by waiting for an anomalously high year to do his “analysis” (and trying to make estimates in a winter that isn’t over). Would Goddard have tried this analysis last year or next year?

    “That’s a period of 22 years, and Goddard’s conclusion would not be much different if the period started a few years earlier or later.”

    Interesting assertion, considering that if you start in 1985, you get a slope that is a few times smaller.

    “Tamino does to make his point, will probably not be very convincing to most people living in the Northern Hemisphere.”

    You could also look at the spring trend. I indicated this on the Tamino thread. Tamino also has a post on this:

    http://tamino.wordpress.com/2008/12/20/heavy-snow-job/

  46. 96
    Josh says:

    Could someone please review this? It claims to be ‘the end of the AGW hypothesis’ – based on 3 peer reviewed papers.
    http://www.americanthinker.com/2010/02/the_agw_smoking_gun.html

    [Response: Just shows that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Please read the paper they draw their conclusion from, which, unsurprisingly, draws exactly the opposite conclusion (figure 3). And this is even without getting into the author's confusion between brightness temperature and OLR flux. - gavin]

  47. 97
    Pete Dunkelberg says:

    The NH winter snow cover varies with the arctic oscillation (negative AO, more snow) in general. I have not found a graph with both things but I compared this one to the Watsup snowfall graph. The relationship is no surprise. Tamino has a good point about the cherry snow job, but could there still be something about the AO that the models are not sharp about? I hope this is not a trend! The snow is bad and the wandering Gulf Stream is probably hastening the Greenland melt.

  48. 98
    MarkB says:

    Ken writes:

    “When there are papers published which talk about the hazards of less snow fall as a result of climate change, and the models predict less snow fall, it is hardly a straw man argument.”

    I would say it is…

    http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=1427

  49. 99
    Marcus says:

    Re: #84: Jim, I think you’re too quick off the mark there: Andrew Adams and Frank O’Dwyer were, I believe, proposing a parody of skeptic arguments (eg, argument 1) X doesn’t exist. argument 2) Y causes X, not CO2. Or argument 1) X has been manipulated to show Y. argument 2) X shows not Y.)

    -Marcus

    [Response: Thanks, you are absolutely right.--Jim]

  50. 100
    Pete Dunkelberg says:

    As an argument against AGW the negative AO and heavy snow in some areas is hopeless. When cold arctic air moves rapidly south, the Arctic does not become a vacuum. Other, warmer air takes its place. For the overall temperature this is a wash. If the warm arctic winter leads into reduced ice cover in summer, this reduces the albedo and increases warming.


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