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Whatevergate

Filed under: — gavin @ 16 February 2010

It won’t have escaped many of our readers’ notice that there has been what can only be described as a media frenzy (mostly in the UK) with regards to climate change in recent weeks. The coverage has contained more bad reporting, misrepresentation and confusion on the subject than we have seen in such a short time anywhere. While the UK newspaper scene is uniquely competitive (especially compared to the US with over half a dozen national dailies selling in the same market), and historically there have been equally frenzied bouts of mis-reporting in the past on topics as diverse as pit bulls, vaccines and child abductions, there is something new in this mess that is worth discussing. And that has been a huge shift in the Overton window for climate change.

In any public discussion there are bounds which people who want to be thought of as having respectable ideas tend to stay between. This is most easily seen in health care debates. In the US, promotion of a National Health Service as in the UK or a single-payer system as in Canada is so far outside the bounds of normal health care politics, that these options are only ever brought up by ‘cranks’ (sigh). Meanwhile in the UK, discussions of health care delivery solutions outside of the NHS framework are never heard in the mainstream media. This limit on scope of the public debate has been called the Overton window.

The window does not have to remain static. Pressure groups and politicians can try and shift the bounds deliberately, or sometimes they are shifted by events. That seems to have been the case in the climate discussion. Prior to the email hack at CRU there had long been a pretty widespread avoidance of ‘global warming is a hoax’ proponents in serious discussions on the subject. The sceptics that were interviewed tended to be the slightly more sensible kind – people who did actually realise that CO2 was a greenhouse gas for instance. But the GW hoaxers were generally derided, or used as punchlines for jokes. This is not because they didn’t exist and weren’t continually making baseless accusations against scientists (they did and they were), but rather that their claims were self-evidently ridiculous and therefore not worth airing.

However, since the emails were released, and despite the fact that there is no evidence within them to support any of these claims of fraud and fabrication, the UK media has opened itself so wide to the spectrum of thought on climate that the GW hoaxers have now suddenly find themselves well within the mainstream. Nothing has changed the self-evidently ridiculousness of their arguments, but their presence at the media table has meant that the more reasonable critics seem far more centrist than they did a few months ago.

A few examples: Monckton being quoted as a ‘prominent climate sceptic’ on the front page of the New York Times this week (Wow!); The Guardian digging up baseless fraud accusations against a scientist at SUNY that had already been investigated and dismissed; The Sunday Times ignoring experts telling them the IPCC was right in favor of the anti-IPCC meme of the day; The Daily Mail making up quotes that fit their GW hoaxer narrative; The Daily Express breathlessly proclaiming the whole thing a ‘climate con’; The Sunday Times (again) dredging up unfounded accusations of corruption in the surface temperature data sets. All of these stories are based on the worst kind of oft-rebunked nonsense and they serve to make the more subtle kind of scepticism pushed by Lomborg et al seem almost erudite.

Perhaps this is driven by editors demanding that reporters come up with something new (to them) that fits into an anti-climate science theme that they are attempting to stoke. Or perhaps it is driven by the journalists desperate to maintain their scoop by pretending to their editors that this nonsense hasn’t been debunked a hundred times already? Who knows? All of these bad decisions are made easier when all of the actually sensible people, or people who know anything about the subject at all, are being assailed on all sides, and aren’t necessarily keen to find the time to explain, once again, that yes, the world is warming.

So far, so stupid. But even more concerning is the reaction from outside the UK media bubble. Two relatively prominent and respected US commentators – Curtis Brainard at CJR and Tom Yulsman in Colorado – have both bemoaned the fact that the US media (unusually perhaps) has not followed pell-mell into the fact-free abyss of their UK counterparts. Their point apparently seems to be that since much news print is being devoted to a story somewhere, then that story must be worth following. Indeed, since the substance to any particularly story is apparently proportional to the coverage, by not following the UK bandwagon, US journalists are missing a big story. Yulsman blames the lack of environmental beat reporters for lack of coverage in the US, but since most of the damage and bad reporting on this is from clueless and partisan news desk reporters in the UK, I actually expect that it is the environmental beat reporters’ prior experience with the forces of disinformation that prevents the contagion crossing the pond. To be sure, reporters should be able and willing (and encouraged) to write stories about anything to do with climate science and its institutions – but that kind of reporting is something very different from regurgitating disinformation, or repeating baseless accusations as fact.

So what is likely to happen now? As the various panels and reports on the CRU affair conclude, it is highly likely (almost certain in fact) that no-one will conclude that there has been any fraud, fabrication or scientific misconduct (since there hasn’t been). Eventually, people will realise (again) that the GW hoaxers are indeed cranks, and the mainstream window on their rants will close. In the meantime, huge amounts of misinformation, sprinkled liberally with plenty of disinformation, will be spread and public understanding on the issue will likely decline. As the history of the topic has shown, public attention to climate change comes and goes and this is likely to be seen as the latest bump on that ride.

Eppure si riscalda.

1,168 Responses to “Whatevergate”

  1. 151
    Tom Yulsman says:

    Gavin: As a friend just said in an email message to me, what a straw man you set up in your post — and a flimsy one at that. You say Curtis and I advocate that the U.S. press follow “pell-mell into the fact-free abyss.”

    Oh yeah, that’s what most well-respected journalists and scholars of journalism advocate. In fact, you’ve given me an idea for a new course that I can teach here at the University of Colorado: “Fact-Free Abyss Journalism.” It would be so much fun! Because we could just make stuff up! Just like the Brits!

    [Response: If you advocate following the Brits on this story, that is exactly what you would be doing. I’m pretty sure that isn’t what you are actually trying to achieve, so that is why I found your suggestion rather odd. How about we agree that journalism shouldn’t be based on manufactured controversies and the airing of baseless accusations? I’m for it if you are. – gavin]

  2. 152
    PeteB says:

    Interestingly there is some very poor reporting from more usually reliable UK media outlets (e.g. Guardian, BBC, in fact the Telegraph was quite good until they got rid of their science correspondent a couple of years ago)

    Roger Pielke was on BBC Newsnight, accepted, quite uncritically as an ‘honest broker’

    Roger Harrabin (BBC Environment Correspondent) suggests

    “But the bloggers who have persuaded so many people to question manmade warming do not trust the IPCC, which they consider a politically motivated body – as my colleague Richard Black reports.But could the bloggers and the IPCC be reconciled? Some bloggers spin facts to make a political point. But some well-informed bloggers claim an impressively broad knowledge of climate science despite their lack of formal credentials.”

    hmm – I’m not arguing that some don’t have quite good knowledge, but if he is seriously suggesting that these bloggers should be part of some ‘replacement’ for IPCC, I am sceptical, based on observing past experience of scientists that have tried to engage. I think a lot of mainstream scientists will have great difficulty working collaboratively, assuming good faith after having being bitten repeatedly.

    There was this rather strange article, from the Guardian

    “Nonetheless, the paper raised important questions about the quality of CRU’s Siberian data, and was a rare example of someone trying to replicate Jones’s analysis. On those grounds alone, some would have recommended its publication.”

    which seems to be making the rather bizzare suggestion that peer review shouldn’t apply to contrarian articles. Unfortunately the CA post in question said the author had lost the reviews, so we can’t judge the validity of them

    I think there is some naivety by some journalists here, they are either going to have to learn for themselves the hard way or do a bit more critical investigation into their new found sources.

  3. 153
    observer says:

    “You exemplify the arrogant, ignorant, gullible Ditto-Head who slavishly repeats whatever idiotic, ExxonMobil-scripted drivel is spoon-fed to him by the phony “right wing” media … and calls himself a “skeptic” for doing so.”

    And that’s when I leave……….

  4. 154
    David Ferrell says:

    Thanks, Gavin, for a most illuminating post. After the recent season of climate “scandals” beginning with “Climategate” itself, it seems that the dam really did burst, letting loose a flood of misdirected populist anger at home and abroad at the perceived “hoax” of global warming. The chilliness of the weather didn’t help. The U.K. media obviously took opportunity to boost ratings by seizing on just about any tidbit of nonsense that could be twisted to suit the perceived appetite of the masses for anything offering further “proof” that so-called “global warming” was a con game all along.

    On the whole, though, the phenomenon of entrenched global-warming denial seems to be stronger in the U.S. than just about anywhere else on Earth except possibly within the isolated enclaves of a couple of oil-rich desert Sheikdoms. Most of the reasons for that are obvious—ranging from the obscenely high per-capita carbon footprint of Americans relative to the rest of the world to the fact that the U.S. has historically been the world’s major carbon polluter/emitter (and therefore the nation most responsible for global warming) to the well-known “dumbing-down of America” which Carl Sagan lamented. I won’t dwell on it except to say that, at this moment early in the climatically-disrupted year of 2010 (with its parade of costly, paralyzing, and certainly mind-numbing “snowpocalypses”—to judge from the confused, angry tenor of blogs and public comments in general) the Country as a whole seems not merely to have taken leave of its senses, but literally to have lost its brains. The difference from the U.K., as you point out, is that the U.S. media, having been stung in the past by disinformation campaigns masquerading as fact, hasn’t been deliberately feeding populist anger to anything like the same degree.

    One obvious reason for media caution in the U.S., at least in more responsible quarters, is that the unprecedented “snowpocalypses,” however much they appear to ordinary people to shoot down the theory of global warming, actually offer (as all of you at RealClimate know) confirmation of the theory as well as an indication of warming’s rate of progression and likely effects in the future, helping to show how well we understand the phenomenon. The match between expectation and reality in this case is excellent. As last year’s report of the U.S. Global Change Research Program stated [], “Heavy snowfall and snowstorm frequency have increased in many northern parts of the United States” (p. 44), adding, “Storm tracks have shifted northward over the last 50 years as evidenced by a decrease in the frequency of storms in mid-latitude areas of the Northern Hemisphere, while high-latitude activity has increased. There is also evidence of an increase in the intensity of storms in both the mid- and high-latitude areas of the Northern Hemisphere, with greater confidence in the increases occurring in high latitudes. The northward shift is projected to continue, and strong cold season storms are likely to become stronger and more frequent, with greater wind speeds and more extreme wave heights.” (p. 38)

    Much of this is basic climatic physics. As the ocean-atmosphere system heats up due to rising concentrations of greenhouse gases, the atmosphere holds more moisture, favoring precipitation events that on average are heavier. In addition, the extra charge of atmospheric latent heat provides more power to drive storms of all kinds. Under suitably cold wintertime conditions, where super humid air turns to heavy snow rather than rain, the result is an increased incidence and potency of winter storms, including monster blizzards and even “Arctic hurricanes,” at least until the earth heats up so much that the high Arctic is essentially ice-free over most of the year. El Nino, of course, makes it worse.

    For that and other reasons, it seems quite likely that 2010 will turn out to be the globally hottest year ever recorded, as well as one of the worst ever for weird, wild, destructive weather, including a high incidence of tornadoes and severe thunderstorms over the Midwest, Plains, and southern tier of states during the spring months followed by record summer heat in many areas and finally by an autumn during which Atlantic hurricanes come roaring back to terrorize the Atlantic and Gulf coastal states with a high volume of deadly hits. And then there’s the question of how the remaining sea ice in the Arctic will fare during such a hot year. The Arctic sea ice could decline to the lowest level ever recorded. Maybe all of that won’t happen in the year 2010, but on the longer time scale, it’s a climate projection that becomes increasingly likely to be fulfilled in any given year as the decade unfolds. Call it thermodynamic destiny. Eventually, under the relentless impact of that destiny, the bastion of global warming denial will crumble—one lost brick, flattened neighborhood, devastated city, flooded region, ruined crop, wrecked livelihood, maimed life, shattered family, and broken mind at a time. It’s very painful that our civilization is probably going to be taken apart in this way, but thermodynamic destiny is thermodynamic destiny. Once past the key tipping points, there won’t be anything we can do about it.

  5. 155
    John Mason says:

    Re #145 Windy.

    The UK media works a bit like a pendulum – always aiming for a sensationalist extreme one way or the other as we have seen of late.

    I’ve come across what you describe though my voluntary work with TORRO – the UK Tornado & Storm Research Organisation. We undertake site investigations following reports of what might be tornado events. A few years back there was quite a nasty one just up the road from here – F2 with quite a bad mess as a consequence and the media crawling around everywhere.

    Did lots of live interviews with various TV channels and the same question kept coming back – “will we see more of these here due to global warming”? The answer was always a confident “no” – low-topped tornadic supercells can form in low-CAPE but high-shear scenarios which the UK sees on a regular basis – but it’s the low level shear that is often critical. On each occasion, the face of my interviewer said “disappointed”!

    But at the same time I see tremendous trouble up ahead as a consequence of AGW – not due to tornadoes, but due to a whole spectrum of other issues – depending where one happens to be geographically.

    Don’t confuse what the media want with what the science reports. That’s the best advice I can offer.

    Cheers – john

  6. 156
    Jon P says:

    [Response: Then you weren’t paying attention. – gavin]

    And Gavin, respectfully you are still not getting it. You are losing the PR war, because the same tactics that were used to promote AGW are now being used to attack it. When Windy makes a point about media sensationalizing weather events over the past 15 years and your response is a scientific article that
    .001% of the population read, then you don’t get it. When you have a blowhard politician take point for
    AGW and do not see the problem with that, you still don’t get it. When arrogant attitudes and statements of
    “the science is settled”, you still don’t get it. If you are 100% correct with the science then you have failed us all in your inability to communicate that to the public.

    [Response: Well that may be the case. But please feel free to suggest which scientific body we should have worked harder to convert, or how much more peer review we should have undertaken, or how much less research we should have done to take media classes and make videos instead. Perhaps you could also tell me exactly who’s job it was to inform and teach every member of the public so that we can publicly chastise them for not doing a good enough job. I fail to see how you can correctly identify a big part of the problem (the media’s penchant for sensationalism over substance), and then blame the people who provide the substance and who have little or no media skills for the problem. Aren’t you getting it a little backwards? – gavin]

  7. 157
    sod says:

    Gavin, Tom Fuller (whom you met in comment #17 above) is declaring:

    Global warming: A weblog’s suicide note

    and yes, the blog he is talking about, is RealClimate.

    Tom Fuller, who proclaims himself to be a man of the middle on this subject, has swallowed every “GATE” lie in the media, over the past couple of weeks. (even the completely bizarre amazon forests one)

    there is no surprise, that he is now proclaiming the death of this blog. (he also proclaimed “just global warming in ruins” a few weeks ago..) he is trying to sell his CRU book, before the story falls apart…

  8. 158
    blueshift says:

    Hi Gavin, in reply to “Walt the Physicist” at 119 (where he makes certain to say he went to an elite physics school)you provide two links. The first seems broken.

    [Response: Fixed. thanks. – gavin]

  9. 159

    re 81 Paul Gosling says:

    “”””You have only got yourselves to blame (climate scientists). For the last decade we have been told of impending disaster.””””

    I need proof of what you are saying. Show me the money. Give me some proof or evidence, please.

    Science is done in peer reviewed literature (of which the IPCC is too). Where is it alarmist? I don’t believe you. Please back up what you are saying with sources, or I will have to conclude that you are trying to delude the American public and policy makers.

  10. 160
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Windy, just a question: who sowed what?

    The UK media may have sensationalised every extreme weather event, but the climate scientists never did.

    So you must mean the media.

    But what are they reaping? Complaints from the left wing? Complaints from people who want to see Truth, Justice etc prevail? They can be ignored.

    But Beck et al on the RWNJ side complains and there’s a sudden shift (cf Sarah Palin complaining about the Dem leader using the word “retarded” got lots of headlines, whereas check out the media response when the progressives complained about being *called* retarded: nil).

  11. 161
    MarkB says:

    “And, with respect, I don’t think that an exoneration of the principals in the CRU affair will lead people to start coming to their senses, on the contrary, this will provide yet more evidence to the crazies that there’s a cover-up.”

    If such delusion is confined to the crazies, that’s probably fine, unless the crazies expand in influence. Not a lot rational discourse at this time.

  12. 162
    MIke Dade says:

    What can a complete non-scientist Brit offer this blog?
    First, thanks for a welcome and essential hit of sanity when British media pursues its insane agenda. Keep up the excellent work.
    Second, and a few posters have mentioned this, do not overestimate Joe Public’s interest in ‘climategate’ etc. I casually mentioned to a (well educated) friend recently that I thought it a shame that a few errors in the IPCC’s reports were making such waves in the media. The reply – ‘what’s the IPCC?’ – genuinely surprised me.
    Last,a radio quiz show enlightened me to the fact that the name Greenland has nothing to do with the colour of the country in years gone by (as trumped by many a skeptic blog)and is derived from the Danish meaning ‘land of the free’.
    Now, back to the science!

  13. 163
    flxible says:

    Anonymous Coward:
    “If they’re so stupid, why are they so rich and powerful”
    If they’re so rich and powerful why are they going bankrupt and desperately scrambling for ad revenues?

  14. 164
    Geoff Wexler says:

    Re: Harrabin’s Notes: ‘Climate ‘Armistice’

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8516905.stm

    This new article has some correct points and some less so

    ” Professor Jones himself is candid about the uncertainties. He stands by the view that humans are most likely to be warming the planet but admits there have been two similar periods of recent warming”

    This is creating some uncertainty in my mind about whether Harrabin has read up the subject upon which he is supposed to comment. I just don’t know.

    What uncertainty is Harrabin attributing to Jones here? the estimates of the forcing? the aerosols? or is Harrabin suggesting that these three phases of warming throw doubt on the whole CO2 theory?

    Also:

    What a relief it would be if the extremists in the warring factions would lay down the Weapons of Mass Vilification like “denier”, “flat-earther”, “climate scam” and “climate con”.

    He doesn’t get it. What a relief it would be if any development could occur in this important subject without being totally misrepresented in the majority of the media>

  15. 165
    flxible says:

    Roger@45 – The hope laymen like we have of understanding is to watch RC here and pay attention to the world of our senses over time, not just “this winter”. The exaggerations I see are on one side, science has been telling us that human behavior can have, and has been having, an infleunce on climate and the environment and that there could be catastrophic consequences if these influences aren’t moderated – the “skeptics” have been screaming that change will bankrupt us and require reverting to medievel lifestyles and the science is a scam to institute government control [ie: a couple posts in this thread, like 74] – who’s exaggerating? I’ve seen no exaggerations on the part of mainstream science, although certainly there has been some media distortion and public misperception of the science in that direction, just like now. I think the fact that RC is here on the web is proof they feel the general public are important, and the best chance of reaching them [us] is directly rather than through the filter of corporate media.

  16. 166

    #139 Ray “Marco@112 I think it is a mistake to oversell satellite data during an El Nino or a La Nina year. The satellites seem to be even more affected by these phenomena than ground temps. Given the difficulties of turning satellite measurements into temperatures even under normal circumatances, I don’t attach much weight to them during off-normal periods.”

    I agree, now compare El-Nino peak to peak data, and the all time high tempertures measured in the Upper Atmosphere during the same peak period becomes less than trivial. So El-Nino 1998 all time Upper Air warm temperatures was exceeded by a moderate El-Nino of 2010. For me its the AGW signal itself partly responsible for this record. In the Arctic, incredible all time high temperatures abound, surely beating again 1998. Peak to peak, properly weighed comparisons show a relentless warming, you dont see this much in the media, rather we read about Groundhogs more than what is going on in the Arctic.

  17. 167
    MarkB says:

    Not all polls agree. This was a poll of U.S. citizens from December:

    “I’m going to read you two statements. Please tell me whether the first statement or the second statement comes closer to your own view, even if neither is exactly right. Statement A: Global warming is caused more by human actions than by naturally occurring forces. Statement B: Global warming is caused more by naturally occurring forces than by human actions.”

    Human actions: 74%

    Natural forces: 20%

    http://www.pollingreport.com/enviro.htm

    Could be a statistical blip, but 74% is the highest number recorded in the NBC/WSJ poll.

  18. 168
    Andreas Bjurström says:

    So what is your solution? Technocracy? Censorship? One year of climate science training for all journalist writing on the issue? Climate journalist licens given to correct journalists by the IPCC?

  19. 169
    JM says:

    Wow, so science is losing the battle in the British tabloids?

    We are lost! Forever lost!

    I’m just glad to know that the US has no monopoly on ignorant trash.

  20. 170
    Marco says:

    @Ray Ladbury 139:
    Oh, I agree that the satellites have their problems. It’s just so amusing to see the deniocrowd attack the land-base measurements in an all-out attack, promote the satellite record, and then get slammed right in the face with (much) more warming in the satellite record than in the land-based measurements.

  21. 171
    wilt says:

    #130

    Completely Fed Up, you asked for details about the law broken by Phil Jones’ CRU.

    The link to the BBC item (given in # 52) contains the following paragraph:

    “In a statement, Deputy Information Commissioner Graham Smith said it was an offence under section 77 of the Freedom of Information act “to prevent intentionally the disclosure of requested information”.
    He said the requests were made by a climate change sceptic in the 2007-2008 period and as the case was more than six months old “the opportunity to consider a prosecution was long gone” under existing legislation.”

    In case you want to read more about this subject, see http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article7004936.ece

    And with respect to your contribution #136, it is unfair and a bit childish to intentionally misquote me. I was hoping the discussion here could be a bit more respectful. For that very reason I brought up the point that calling names is not really getting us any further.

  22. 172
    Doug Bostrom says:

    A. Reader says: 17 February 2010 at 9:28 AM

    “What is a degree or two against having to give up your SUV? Not being able to pay the energy for your home? Not being able to go on vacation?”

    Now that’s alarmism, heh! Who’s pushing hysteria? Might be worth considering.

  23. 173
    Walt The Physicist says:

    to Ray Ladbury #137. It would be great to omit references to the experience of your colleagues. You have no idea how much they are paid and for what. Do you do ant modeling of ant physical phenomenon? Do you have experience in modeling of complex quantum mechanical systems? Or weather system? Or anything of similar complexity? If you do, you would be a little bit more humble. Also, bragging the about compensation amounts is strange. People pay hundreds of thousands to Kim Kardashian. Does she do anything of value? To my elitist taste she does not. The point you are ignoring is the accuracy of modeling of any complex phenomenon. My previous post regarding accuracy of measurements and the absence of error bars in the temperature plots was ignored by Mr. Gavin (but of course!).

    [Response: No it wasn’t. I pointed you to a thorough discussion of those error bars, and to a whole page of plots that showed them. Do try to keep up. – gavin]

    It would be interesting here to listen to the opinions on the modeling accuracy. Especially from those of us who make 100gs.

  24. 174
    flxible says:

    Ian@87 Gavin has been “defending” his position for some time in the MSM, unless you don’t count the internet, and book publishing, and peer reviewed scientific journals as “mainstream”.

  25. 175
    Steve says:

    Odd, isn’t it? I didn’t see you post a thread here when the UK media was being alarmist and getting things incorrect in FAVOUR of warming. Odd, that – that you didn’t bother to post a thread on it, isn’t it?

    [Response: Not true. We have loads of posts on the errors in the UK media on hyping the ‘Gulf Stream reversal’ story, generic pieces on the problems of regional prediction, or the errors in attributing single weather events to climate. I’m afraid that there is no way we can keep up with every single mistake in the UK press though. – gavin]

  26. 176
    Foobear says:

    >>No-one will conclude that there has been any fraud, fabrication or scientific misconduct

    Untrue. Conspiracy and FOIA dodging are two things that Phil Jones has admitted to, and been found guilty of. Perhaps not fraud or fabrication, but definite misconduct. It was right of him to step down.

    Climategate revealed a number of actual problems in Climate Science. Not the ones the press harps endlessly on “hiding the decline”, but serious problems nonetheless.

    Right now, I’d say the biggest problem is the one with surface stations, which you dismissively write off as not a problem. There’s a huge problem with them, and the statistical approaches used to correct for them are obviously insufficient to the problem. Fortunately now that we have satellites we’ll have a much more reliable temperature record going forward.

  27. 177
    Jacob Mack says:

    This is a shame… I did see these emails and even the most “questionable ones” do not dismiss AGW, but they are just frank disucssions hammering out details and speaking in the common language instead of technical. We have always known that there are uncertainties in the paleoclimate data and one can see this in the research of the climatologists here and Gavin’s interviews some time ago in Scientific American. No one denies that making predictions is also difficult though improving. I suspect if any series of personal emails were hijacked in a large workplace or academic institution we would find similar kinds of emails. I know I have received and sent emails I would not want the world to read as well.

  28. 178
    flxible says:

    Wayne Davidson – “Winter Olympics without winter should be more a news story than it is”
    Only if one hasn’t been paying attention [like the Olympic committee, who’ve wised up NOW] – historically, the south coast of B.C. has what locals call “pre-spring” mid-February, sunny shirtsleeve weather, time to clean up the garden and get ready for early planting. Years ago the International Ski Assoc dropped Whistler as an event venue because of the erratic nature of spring conditions, if it’s not raining it’s foggy, or [like a couple days ago] there’s too much snow – and the 2nd Olympic venue is on a lower hill that regularly gets skunked. Current conditions may be indicative of climate change, like the effects of El Nino [the “immediate” cause this year], and are quite in line with the long term trend, but the only reason for it to be a real news story is the monetary effects.

  29. 179
    Walt The Physicist says:

    To #141 John Mason. Thanks for your acknowledgement and fascination. However, what do you think?

  30. 180
    Doug Bostrom says:

    Again I’m amazed at how protective “skeptics” become when the fruit of their PR campaign is attacked. Quite a response, like hitting a hornet nest with a stick.

    Also, wouldn’t real skeptics subject faulty news coverage to the same withering criticism they apply to citation bobbles and the like? When did skepticism become a partisan approach?

  31. 181
    Scottie says:

    That’s it guys – keep banging the same old drum.

    Let me guess – for example, I suppose this paper about Surface Temperature Records at http://www.tinyurl.com/y8ghyrr by Joseph D’Aleo and Anthony Watts has not been peer reviewed and therefore is full of errors and has no merit.

    Thought not.

    [Response: You got it right first time. It is full of errors and of no merit. – gavin]

  32. 182
    Walt The Physicist says:

    #119 Gavin, thanks for the reference. I saw it before and I wonder if there is some solid reasoning behind suggestion that the average global temperature during 1850 – 1940 was measured with accuracy of 0.1C? It would be great to have references to the discussions of the sources of errors for these measurements.

  33. 183
    Dale says:

    More than a few years ago I predicted that a right wing mob would mindlessly pursue a campaign of disinformation concerning AGW and for the most part would be successful. The right wing is driven more by their lizard brains and they are vicious (Believe I know, I grew up in a right wing family) protecting their religion of unfettered capitalism. They know in their hearts that it’s as pure as the white driven snow even though they could never prove it.

    One of the main catalysts that turned me away from rightwingism was when aids victim Ryan White was driven out of his Kokomo high school by a vicious right wing reactionary mob. In that case the science had been “Settled” as to whether aids could be casually transmitted but the anti science/anti intellectual mob would hear none of it. Science is wrong more times than it’s right was the old refrain.

  34. 184
    Anand Rajan KD says:

    Walt Bennett
    more “street cred” in the climate community.

    To RL:
    So, some people can use terms like “street cred” and be understood, but others cannot?

    Regards
    Anand

  35. 185
    Charly Cadou says:

    Re: #91 Tamino: “Denialists have failed to learn the lessons of history…… prepare to flee the pitchfork-and-torch-carrying mob.”

    What lessons of history, the French revolution, the Bolchevik revolution or similar? This sort of comparison is silly to say the least, somewhat like comparing contrarians as holocausts deniers. That doesn’t win any convert.

  36. 186
    Toby says:

    Since global warming will not be decided by public opinion, and there are enough serious scientists to keep the facts in focus, things will turn back again.

    However, real damage has been done. People who had only a slim understanding of the science, but who agreed on the substance, are now wavering. The result is not to turn to the other side, but to turn off completely. However, I suppose that amounts to the same thing because they will be more easily swayed against unpopular measures.

    I guess the only way forward is to stick to the truth with firmness and determination, and not fall into the trap of mimicking the opposition.

  37. 187
    Walt The Physicist says:

    Friends, let me propose for your discussion a “layman funding criterion”, i.e. only this science endeavor should be funded that an average person (or majority of population if you wish) would like to fund. It such criterion by some magical power were to be implemented a lot of scientists drawing in excess of 100k would be out of jobs. I suspect that, judging by what lots of people around me say, all those who insist on reality of AGW would lose funding and jobs. Funny is that the public funding of science is not actually based on the “layman funding criterion”. Majority of public expenditures are controlled by layman via elections. Science – no(?!). Instead, either few individuals or some scientific expert panels decide on how to spend public money best. I submit to you, that those fellas drawing 100gs and referred to in #137 by Ray Ladbury are funded from public sources. It would be fantastically beneficial for our society to direct all the scientists with controversial or extremely innovative proposals to solicit private funding from the philanthropists. Gavin, do you think you would be funded by layman?

  38. 188
    Doug Bostrom says:

    SkepticalScience iPhone app drives contrarians apoplectic. Contriann Commanders reach high alert, order “Caps Lock” keys activated:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2010/feb/17/iphone-app-climate-change

  39. 189
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “In a statement, Deputy Information Commissioner Graham Smith said it was an offence under section 77 of the Freedom of Information act “to prevent intentionally the disclosure of requested information”.

    Indeed it is.

    But there are several sections where it says where you ARE allowed to intentionally prevent disclosure of requested information.

    I can get the links for you if you like.

  40. 190
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Just curious. I realize I have as sharp a tongue as anyone. However, it occurs to me that perhaps it might be more constructive to focus on facts, evidence and issues rather than character assasination, ad hominem attacks and acusations.

    How about we establish some groundrules.

    1)No accusations of fraud of limited intelligence.

    2)No pretences to greater expertise than we really possess.

    3)Focus on the evidence. If you think there are problems with a piece of evidence, substantiate your allegation with analysis or facts from a credible source.

    4)If you don’t understand something (including another poster’s logic), phrase your lack of understanding as a question rather than an assertion.

    5)Start with an assumption of good will until the poster makes it clear the assumption is wrong.

    6)Folks who remain within these bounds merit courtesy. Those who transgress are still eligible to be told so with both barrells.

    Anyone interested in actual dialogue?

  41. 191
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “168
    Andreas Bjurström says:
    17 February 2010 at 1:36 PM

    So what is your solution? Technocracy? Censorship?”

    Well who would you want tinkering around in YOUR body when you’re under the knife?

    Bob The Builder?

    Or a surgeon?

    And censorship is on all the time. If someone posts you a threatening letter, you’ll find that you WANT them censored.

    So what do you mean by “censored”?

    “One year of climate science training for all journalist writing on the issue? Climate journalist licens given to correct journalists by the IPCC?”

    Noting in there about what you’re on about.

    And the answer is no. All the investigative journalists have to do is, oh, INVESTIGATE and not pander to false balance to make their job easier.

  42. 192
    Walt The Physicist says:

    Gavin, the link on error bars works now. Thanks, I’m reading.

  43. 193
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Foobear: “Right now, I’d say the biggest problem is the one with surface stations, which you dismissively write off as not a problem.”

    Uh, you’re nearly a year out of date. Surfacestations.org has been and gone. The data described as “good” has shown the same trend. The stations Watts described as “bad” showed that, if anything, they had been overcorrected for UHI and showed less warming than the good stations.

    But you dismiss the surface stations record with *what*?

  44. 194
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “Untrue. Conspiracy and FOIA dodging are two things that Phil Jones has admitted to,”

    PS, please show where he’s admitted to it.

    Hint: you’ll need to go to the source, not the Times for selected quotes.

  45. 195
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Walt, I am quite familiar with modeling, both statistical and dynamical, thank you very much. My reference to money was the yearly cost of the analysis package to do the modeling of transistors.

    You are evidently a bit behind the times in terms of what one can model. We can model the collapse of a supernova, the birth of the Universe, the dynamics of a transistor being struck by a Xenon ion, etc. How do I know these things. See, unlike you, Walt, I really am a physicist.

    Accuracy of modeling is determined mainly by limitations on computer time for most computational physics problems.

    Now perhaps you really are a physicist, Walt, but to convince me, you are going to have to say something a lot more intelligent than you have so far.

    What is your research specialty?

  46. 196
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Ray, I’ll give it a shot, but the first time someone breaks any one of them, the old game continues.

    I figure the denialists will explode with frustration, and that’s a worthy reason too.

  47. 197
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Anand,
    Didn’t see the post. However, “street cred” just sounds like we’reall heading down to the railroad tracks with spray paint, switchblades and bottles of Mad Dog. Not my scene.

  48. 198
    erol says:

    Even if the warming of the earth was true, taxation would not make a dent in it.

  49. 199
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “187
    Walt The Physicist says:
    17 February 2010 at 3:19 PM
    …I suspect that, judging by what lots of people around me say, all those who insist on reality of AGW would lose funding and jobs.”

    Why only here?

    As I’m not a powerful name, I get nothing from the police. I shouldn’t have to pay.

    I don’t think that a Ministry of *DEFENCE* needs an agressive force. So I won’t have to pay for that.

    Copyrights? Well, do as Radiohead did and offer your stuff out for nothing and ask people to pay what it’s worth.

    And so on.

    These work for the exact same reasons your idea does.

  50. 200
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Walt, take your meds.