RealClimate logo


Technical Note: Sorry for any recent performance issues. We are working on it.

Unforced Variations: Aug 2011

Filed under: — group @ 2 August 2011

This month’s open thread. Your starter for 2010, the 2010 State of the Climate report….


475 Responses to “Unforced Variations: Aug 2011”

  1. 251
    Hank Roberts says:

    > 230, 233, 244 and
    > “How the heck can Svante Arrhenius have an opinion on ozone depletion? –eric”
    Agreed; that site’s promoting “both sides” = “teach the controversy” stuff, and confusing expertise with blog-prominence.
    The deeper you look into it, the shallower it gets.

  2. 252
    Susan Anderson says:

    A little light heavy relief:

    http://www.ucsusa.org/assets/images/si/science-idol-2011/web-UCScalendar-Nuez-attack_not-full-res.jpg

    How many of you feel this is the story of your life? (no don’t answer, I don’t want to waste your valuable time, I mean it, valuable and then some!

  3. 253
    Hank Roberts says:

    http://the-scientist.com/2011/08/01/the-root-of-the-problem/
    August 2011 » Cover Story
    New research suggests that the flow of carbon through plants to underground ecosystems may be crucial to how the environment responds to climate change.
    By Richard D. Bardgett | August 1, 2011

    — excerpt follows —

    the impact of human-induced disturbances on the functioning of terrestrial ecosystems is often indirect: they tend to operate via changes aboveground that cascade belowground to the hugely complex and diverse, soil-bound biological community, driving biogeochemical processes and feeding back to the whole Earth-system.

    And these studies may be overturning a commonly held view of how plants help mitigate the impacts of global warming. Indeed, it is widely thought that vegetation, especially trees, will respond to increasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations by growing more vigorously, and thus help to moderate climate change by locking up more carbon in their leaves, branches, and trunks. But research into the intricate dynamics occurring just below the soil surface, where carbon, nitrogen, and other elements flow through plant roots into the soil and react with the microbial and animal communities living there—including bacteria, fungi and a host of fauna—is complicating this simplistic view. In fact, some work suggests that as plant growth increases because of elevated CO2, more carbon not only flows into the plants themselves, but also exits their roots to impact the growth and activity of soil microbes. This causes a net increase in CO2 and other greenhouse gases escaping from the soil and entering the atmosphere, thus adding to anthropogenic levels.

  4. 254
    prokaryotes says:

    Plant and microbial respiration may yield other disturbing implications as well

    Soil carbon and climate change: from the Jenkinson effect to the compost-bomb instability http://climateforce.net/2011/07/14/soil-carbon-and-climate-change-from-the-jenkinson-effect-to-the-compost-bomb-instability/

    When do we start with large scale biochar development/deployment?

  5. 255
    prokaryotes says:

    If wind power is going to meet 20% of our predicted energy needs in 2100, millions of wind turbines must be installed around the globe. Modelling performed by researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, US, has shown that these vast wind farms, if installed in offshore regions, could reduce the temperature of the lower atmosphere above the site by 1 °C.
    http://globalchange.mit.edu/news/news-item.php?id=127

  6. 256
    Hunt Janin says:

    Anyone know who is in charge of the sea level rise section of the next IPCC Assessment?

  7. 257
    SteveF says:

    Hunt,

    John Church and Peter Clark are on sea level duty. Full list here:

    http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/press-releases/ipcc-wg1-ar5-authors.pdf

  8. 258
    Hunt Janin says:

    I’m still looking for possible “black swan events” that could unexpectedly increase sea level rise in the future, but I don’t have any bright ideas on this front. Perhaps this idea is a non-starter. What do you think?

  9. 259
    Russell says:

    To further widen the weather-climate gap , the three year old journal that has accepted the latest reprise of Lindzen & Choi appears on closer inspection to be the Journal of the Korean Meteorological Society

    Asia-Pacific Journal of Atmospheric Sciences (2008 – )
    Journal of the Korean Meteorological Society (1964 – 2007)

  10. 260
    David B. Benson says:

    Hunt Janin @257 — First of all, a reviw of that blcak swan book in the Notices of the American Mthematical Society for the book to be remarkably bad; stay way from that confusion. Second, the prospect of a rather rapid melt of a substantial portion of WAIS in a fairly short time (say one century) is alarming enough: think 8 meters SLR when Greenland melt is included. That interval might be improbably short, but some new simulation tend to suggest it is not impossible.

  11. 261
    ccpo says:

    @Janin: Black Swans, by definition are things one cannot anticipate. By being able to identify them before they occur, they cannot be classified as Black Swans.

    Perhaps you are asking what improbable or merely theoretical events might occur.

  12. 262
    ccpo says:

    @ 252Hank Roberts says:
    16 Aug 2011 at 9:11 PM

    http://the-scientist.com/2011/08/01/the-root-of-the-problem/
    August 2011 » Cover Story
    New research suggests that the flow of carbon through plants to underground ecosystems may be crucial to how the environment responds to climate change.
    By Richard D. Bardgett | August 1, 2011

    Takes the Stating the Obvious Award for the century so far. The root systems of plants tends to mirror the above ground system. When you cut down a plant, for example, an equivalent proportion of root dies off, also. This carbon is the sequestered in the soil. This is a significant rationale for no-till agriculture.

    This is why Hansen is supporting the regrowth of forest ecosystems.

    The same process is used to fix nitrogen in the soil by growing nitrogen fixing plants. The nitrogen is made available to the soil biota and other plants when the root dies back leaving nodules of nitrogen to be used.

    This is why organic/regenerative farmers and gardeners use cover crops.

    This is nature’s slow form of terra preta.

    This has been known for a very long time.

  13. 263
    ccpo says:

    @ 253 prokaryotes says:
    16 Aug 2011 at 10:22 PM

    Plant and microbial respiration may yield other disturbing implications as well

    Soil carbon and climate change: from the Jenkinson effect to the compost-bomb instability http://climateforce.net/2011/07/14/soil-carbon-and-climate-change-from-the-jenkinson-effect-to-the-compost-bomb-instability/

    When do we start with large scale biochar development/deployment?

    It would seem to me this issue would be self-balancing globally. Seasonal changes, etc., would lead to a cycle. Climate shifts would affect this, of course, as your post states. However, applying the principle of speeding up succession, we can build carbon into the soil much faster than it can escape except for anomalous events. Biochar is less efficient than simply growing root systems and leaving them there instead of pulling them up. Also, using hugulkulture rather than biochar would also be more efficient.

    I do think there are uses for biochar, but it comes up against several principles of sustainable design in comparison to some of the other choices.

    * Least change, maximum effect. Simply leaving stuff alone is more efficient than building a kiln, cutting stuff, moving stuff, getting it out of the kiln, spreading it out.

    * Maximize inputs and outputs. Biochar isn’t as useful to soil and biota as decaying roots.

    * Work with nature/biological solutions before technical solutions.

    Systemic planning is needed. Simple solutions are very good, but simple designing is not.

    2c

  14. 264
    David Weisman says:

    I’ve heard talk about using past deposits of driftwood on arctic shores as a proxy for ice coverage of the ocean, apparently ice blocks some locations more than others.

    Has anyone heard about potential problems with this proxy, or exceptions, or limitations?

  15. 265
    ozajh says:

    Some time ago I pointed out on another blog a further problem with biochar, namely that in the 3rd World tropics (and especially in Africa) it’s a valuable material AS CHARCOAL.

    You’re going to need some serious incentives, and equally serious anti-diversion mechanisms, to get the local population to bury the stuff.

  16. 266
    prokaryotes says:

    Hello ccpo, the crucial difference between plant roots and biochar is that bicohar captures carbon over millenia timescales, where roots rot rather quickly. Further studies confirm that biochar has the potential to sequester enough carbon to make a difference. The royal society calls for biochar production to prevent worst case scenarios.

    Actually there aren’t much alternatives, beside planting forests and hoping they grow intact. Sulfur spreading is making things worse and can only be considered as an emergency measure.
    And then you have the many by products and synergetic outcomes from biochar deployment, such as increased crop yields, less need for petrol fertilizer, helps to prevent soil erosion, helps to clean water and much more.

    The negative emissions that can be produced by BECCS has been estimated by the Royal Society to be equivalent to a 50 to 150 ppm decrease in global atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations[2] and according to the International Energy Agency, the BLUE map climate change mitigation scenario calls for more than 2 gigatonnes of negative CO2 emissions per year with BECCS in 2050. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biochar

  17. 267
    Edward Greisch says:

    Has anybody else noticed that Texas governor Perry thinks we are in it for the gold? Since he is a potential candidate for President, it is time to trot out the articles explaining why grant money does not wind up in the scientists’ pockets.

  18. 268
    Edward Greisch says:

    See: http://www.e3network.org/social_cost_carbon.html
    Climate Risks and Carbon Prices: Revising the Social Cost of Carbon
    CO2 is a pretty slippery thing to put a price on, it seems to me.
    What do you think?

    Also, Harpers has an article on our subject at:
    http://harpers.org/archive/2008/05/0082022
    and Mother Jones:
    http://motherjones.com/blue-marble/2011/08/carbon-dioxide-emissions-cost-economy-underestimated

  19. 269
    deconvoluter says:

    Re : #260.

    Terminology

    By being able to identify them before they occur, they cannot be classified as Black Swans.

    Black swans according to Taleb
    highly improbable and unpredictable events that might have massive impacts.

    Here’s one:

    Judith Curry persuades Lindzen,Choi and Spencer to submit a joint paper to Science concluding that their critics from Realclimate are right.

    This is not a prediction, but perhaps Taleb is skeptical about the worth of predictions anyway?

  20. 270
    Hunt Janin says:

    I’m now finishing up my coauthored book on “Rising Sea Levels.” My research over the past year strongly suggests that only the Netherlands and (to a much lesser extent)the United Kingdom are doing anything at the national level to deal with sea level rise.

    If you know of any other countries which are doing something at national levels, too, please tell me what they are.

  21. 271

    #263–You’re probably thinking of Funder et al. (2011). It just came out a couple of weeks ago.

    http://www.sciencemag.org/content/333/6043/747.abstract

  22. 272

    Further response to #263–

    The press release (“PR” hereinafter) around the paper presented a very different picture:

    http://neven1.typepad.com/blog/2011/08/arctic-tipping-point-may-not-be-reached.html

    I haven’t read the paper itself, but the contents of the abstract (I’ll call it “AB”), linked above, seem difficult to relate to the PR. Specifically, AB says that the study specifically dealt with northern Greenland. OK, they can tell by species of driftwood whether it came from Siberia or from North America (PR), but can that really give an accurate picture of pan-Arctic extent over the time frame? Particularly interesting is the statement that Ellesmere Island ice increased at the time that northern Greenland ice hit its maximum (AB.)

    (Seems to connect with Kaufman et al (2009), which found evidence (Eastern Canadian Arctic, IIRC) of a temperature minimum ca. 2K years ago, just when Milankovich forcing said there should be one.))

    But what about trends around the rest of the Arctic rim? How well can this NA/Asia species dichotomy really constrain regional trends? It seems a pretty low-resolution ‘probe.’

  23. 273

    Yet more in response to #263–

    The online supporting material for Funder et al. is here:

    http://www.sciencemag.org/content/suppl/2011/08/03/333.6043.747.DC1/Funder.SOM.pdf

    It helps to answer some of the question I had about press release versus abstract: the abstract doesn’t make it very clear that the paper in fact included a substantial modeling effort. It is that part of the study that led to the claim that Arctic sea ice extent probably got below 50% of the 2007 record minimum–not the driftwood record/beach geology part.

    (As an aside, I was a bit put off to notice that the very first reference cited Nils-Axel Morner, who has become known as probably the primary ‘sea-level rise denier’ out there. But the paper was from 1990, before the latter-day weirdness kicked in, I suppose.)

  24. 274
    prokaryotes says:

    Hunt Janin, a recent PIK study came to following conclusion

    “A partial collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet for example could be equivalent to an additional 1.5 meters sea level rise, prior research showed. Most dykes in Europe may be elevated by only one meter. Beyond this region-specific threshold significant rebuilding would be necessary. However, the disintegration of this ice sheet might take hundreds of years. Nonetheless the effects could be significant. ”
    http://www.pik-potsdam.de/news/press-releases/kipp-elemente-im-klimasystem-forscher-verfeinern-ihre-einschaetzung

    Notice that we face 1-5 meters sea level rise by the end of the century. And germany is investing into dykes, but land loss seems a given. So rebuilding is the way to go. But tell that the people who live near the dykes and drive fossil fuels :)

  25. 275
    jyyh says:

    #269 Finland has done some plans as to how to respond to floods of +3meters, though the climate connection isn’t clear. The Baltic easily may have sea level fluctuations of +2 meters normally so these are not very extreme floods they’re planning to. I myself have though planned a bit of a LARP in which the physically impossible sudden +20 ASL happens overnight. I guess it wouldn’t sell very well so, it is in a dormant state for now.

  26. 276
    Hank Roberts says:

    Hunt, you need to start doing real research, not just computer queries from home. I’ve pointed this out before.

    Again: go to your local library and spend the time with your reference librarian, a much better approach than asking strangers on the Internet — and do what they suggest to search on these questions.

    Many other countries, cities, and geographic regional associations are doing things appropriate to the possibility, whether or not explicit, of sea level rise. Have you done the obvious Google searches, and then done the same searches in Scholar? Get a list from your reference librarian of government organizations of all sizes and types near sea level and search using those.

    http://www.google.com/search?q=sea+level+rise+“north+carolina”
    http://www.google.com/search?q=sea+level+rise+“puget+sound”
    http://www.google.com/search?q=sea+level+rise+“coastal+canada”
    http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=sea+level+rise+planning+%22coastal+canada%22

    Go to your local library.

    Spend the time with your local reference librarians — a much better approach than asking strangers on the Internet — and do what they suggest to search on these questions.

    A tsunami wall is not a longterm sea rise plan — but land used for a tsunami wall would be available and appropriate for later upgrading as sea level rise becomes apparent. No regrets there.

    Leaky underground storage tank removal: not a sea level rise plan necessarily, these are done as a groundwater protection plan. Those programs to find and remove buried oil and gasoline tanks would also be ‘no-regrets’ parts of anticipating sea level rise.

    —> You’re not getting info that’s available. Leave your chair. <—

  27. 277
    Hank Roberts says:

    Repeat: I’m not a librarian. I’m pointing out that you can get better help from a librarian than you’re getting online. I give _examples_ of stuff you can find with help and guidance from someone who knows how to do this better.
    Example: http://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&q=%2B%22sea+level%22+%2Bplan+%2Bgovernment+%2Bregion&btnG=Search&as_sdt=0%2C5&as_ylo=2011&as_vis=0

  28. 278
    ccpo says:

    @265 Hello ccpo, the crucial difference between plant roots and biochar is that bicohar captures carbon over millenia timescales, where roots rot rather quickly.

    So do plant roots. Thinking of things in isolation is the problem with the comparison. Plant roots + continual mulching = that carbon goes deeper and deeper, thus stays there. The real advantage comes in terms of extreme events/periods where the biochar will stay there as long as it is not blown away, whereas humus can be decomposed even as it lays well below the surface.

    Also consider the black carbon and emissions from creating biochar in the first place. Biochar also requires the growth of feedstocks, taking more space both for the feedstocks and the area to work in. Neither of these are the case with simply regenerating forests (remember much of the forest will be edible, and specific food forests around settlements would be part of the process) which then also directly, without extra steps, feeds, fixes climate, provides work and economy…. etc.

    Further studies confirm that biochar has the potential to sequester enough carbon to make a difference.

    So do rebuilding ecosystems and regenerative farming techniques. Don’t forget the Rodale multi-decade, longitudinal study indicating 40% of current emissions can be offset by merely farming/gardening intelligently.

    The royal society calls for biochar production to prevent worst case scenarios.

    There is a role for biochar, but if we are talking regenerative systems, it is not a primary choice, but a secondary or tertiary one because the connections between it and other elements in the system are too limited and not all outputs have inputs to be matched to.

    Actually there aren’t much alternatives, beside planting forests and hoping they grow intact.

    Your conception is a little off. First, they don’t necessarily have to grow “intact.” As long as they become stable, that is enough. Second, none of the forests should be left untended. We have learned our ancient forests were all actually the result of human and non-human influences. There is no such thing as a forest that wasn’t shaped by human habitation except on some very small scales. Even then, the movement of winds and biota between “pristine” and non-pristine environments means even those are not truly without human impact.

    There are many alternatives, but the one never discussed except by us “fringe” folk is a complete makeover of the social and economic structure.

    We can’t do this with anything less than that.

    such as increased crop yields

    Biochar is not the only process that can raise crop yields.

    less need for petrol fertilizer

    Localized regenerative can equal zero need for fertilizer.

    helps to prevent soil erosion

    Ditto other processes.

    helps to clean water and much more.

    Ditto.

    The negative emissions that can be produced by BECCS has been estimated by the Royal Society to be equivalent to a 50 to 150 ppm decrease in global atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations[2]

    At what scale and over what time frame? What are the energy costs? Net energy? Net energy will be higher with biological processes. The only way biochar could compete with biological processes would be if the heat and emissions were captured and used within the same system, and even that would require more outside raw materials for machines, etc.

    Biological approaches are far better choices overall: 1. No additional infrastructure needed. 2. No outside source feedstock creation required. 3. All inputs and outputs localized. 4. No black soot and CO2 emissions are part of the natural cycle. 5. Edible forests provide 30 – 50 years of food, or more, from one growth cycle for literally 150 days of labor, and likely much less. I’m exaggerating the work needed in the first five years. 100 of those days come from 50 years of picking and chop-and-drop forest management.

    and according to the International Energy Agency, the BLUE map climate change mitigation scenario calls for more than 2 gigatonnes of negative CO2 emissions per year with BECCS in 2050. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biochar

    Irrelevant. Their call for it tells us nothing about it. Does the same scenario include forest regrowth and regenerative agriculture? If not, there’s a huge degree of ignorance extant on their part, and they would naturally over-rely on those methods they are familiar with at the expense of those they are not aware of or do not understand.

    Finally, complex solutions to issues of complexity are a relatively sure trip to collapse, per Joseph Tainter.

    Biochar has some use, but I cannot see it as the first line of defense.

    @268 Re : #260.

    Terminology

    By being able to identify them before they occur, they cannot be classified as Black Swans.

    Black swans according to Taleb
    highly improbable and unpredictable events that might have massive impacts.

    Key here is the use of “and” vs. “or” and whether it is significant. The highly improbable is just the far end of the tail which any good risk analysis is going to account for. What that ends up as at policy levels is a different question.

    Here’s one:

    Judith Curry persuades Lindzen,Choi and Spencer to submit a joint paper to Science concluding that their critics from Realclimate are right.

    This is not a prediction, but perhaps Taleb is skeptical about the worth of predictions anyway?

    I’d accept that as a black swan as it is not offered as actually lying under the Bell Curve. Even though we can imagine it, the event would have the same net effect of a Black Swan since nobody actually believes it has *any* possibility of happening. Kind of like saying, I bought a lottery ticket but it will never win, and believing it, then it does.

  29. 279
    Doug Bostrom says:

    Edward Greisch says:
    18 Aug 2011 at 4:17 AM
    Has anybody else noticed that Texas governor Perry thinks we are in it for the gold?

    Having preemptively accused Ben Bernanke of treason, Perry claimed that as of yesterday he was chastened and was going to dial it down. Perry went on to dismiss vast swathes of scientific research results as erroneous, saying of anthropogenic global warming that it is a “scientific theory that has not been proven and from my perspective is more and more being put into question.” He’s also referred to the scientific establishment as “all one contrived phony mess that is falling apart under its own weight.”

    From “his perspective,” that is to say the viewpoint of one fellow having extremely limited familiarity with practically any of the myriad research topics he encompasses in his remarks.

    What are we to conclude from this? If Perry believes these are the words of a man who has successfully been reminded to moderate his words, he’s got some serious calibration problems, major backlash in his mental gear train. If he were not a candidate his thoughts would be dismissed as those of a victim of delusional paranoid psychosis.

    Well, perhaps he’s not actually a deluded psychotic: “A delusion is a false belief held with absolute conviction despite superior evidence.[1] Unlike hallucinations, delusions are always pathological (the result of an illness or illness process).[1] As a pathology, it is distinct from a belief based on false or incomplete information, dogma, stupidity, poor memory, illusion, or other effects of perception.

    So more charitably, Perry is likely just uninformed, stupid, dogmatic, the victim of illusions. Presidential material, right?

  30. 280
    SecularAnimist says:

    Last night (Wednesday 8/17) at 9PM Eastern US time, National Public Radio reported, as NEWS, Texas governor Rick Perry’s statements that anthropogenic global warming is “a scientific theory that has not been proven”, that is “being put more and more into question”, and his accusation that “a substantial number of scientists have manipulated data so that they will have dollars rolling into their projects”.

    Perry’s unequivocal accusation of deliberate scientific fraud committed for money is a direct attack on each and every one of the scientists who maintain RealClimate.

    The “liberal” NPR did not present Perry’s remarks in a talk-radio discussion program, in the context of “debate”. His remarks were presented AS NEWS, during NPR’s hourly update of the day’s NEWS headlines.

    After dwelling on Perry’s accusations of scientific fraud by “a substantial number” of scientists AS NEWS, the announcer briefly and meekly noted that “a majority of scientists believe” that CO2 emissions are heating the Earth.

    This is how one of the USA’s supposedly highest quality “news” organizations is choosing to report “news” about the global warming issue.

    NPR’s hourly NEWS update was immediately followed by a commercial for one of the network’s corporate underwriters, Shell Oil, which promoted Shell’s new website devoted to “educating” the public about the benefits of extracting natural gas with hydraulic fracturing.

  31. 281

    Go to your local library.

    Spend the time with your local reference librarians — a much better approach

    Better than say … the peer reviewed, conferences and gray literature, readily available at your local world class university research libraries, generally accessible via the internet from the comfort of your own home within a month or so of publication, and also available for free personal use directly via email from the author(s) by a simple polite email request?

    People don’t have the pound the pavement anymore like we did in the 20th century. This is now the second decade of the 21st century. This stuff is easily available by a simple judicious combinatorial selection of keywords.

    I’m already looking at fall GSA abstracts on Google Scholar.

  32. 282
    Doug Bostrom says:

    Further to Perry:

    “Perry, long publicly skeptical about manmade climate change, leveled his accusation about climate scientists fudging their findings to attract research funding at a campaign event in New Hampshire on Wednesday. He made the statement after being challenged by a former Republican legislator to defend the charge in his 2010 book that the science of global warming is a “contrived, phony mess.””

    Perry seems to be fudging his data in order to attract campaign finance dollars. His manipulation of scientific results has so far been extraordinarily successful, with Perry receiving some $11 million in grants from the fossil fuels industry to date. Contriving a phony mess is indeed lucrative.

    Members of the scientific community particularly in Texas are upset with Perry’s academic misbehavior:

    http://texasclimatenews.org/wp/?p=2439

    (Tip of the ol’ Resistol to the fabulous comment preview feature, by the way!)

  33. 283
    Steve Fish says:

    Secular Animist. This morning NPR reported on Perry answering a question about evolutionary theory, from a kid, with a statement that in Texas schools evolution and creation science are presented side by side. In straight reporting it is expected that only the facts of what is observed or recorded should be presented. To do otherwise is unethical. When presenting opinions, or factual investigative reporting, the piece should be represented as such and identified with an author. Steve

  34. 284
    SecularAnimist says:

    Steve Fish wrote: “In straight reporting it is expected that only the facts of what is observed or recorded should be presented.”

    Rick Perry’s statement that anthropogenic global warming is an “unproven theory” and his accusation that it is a “hoax” perpetrated by a “substantial number” of climate scientists who have committed deliberate scientific fraud for money are blatant lies.

    In “straight reporting” they should be identified as such.

    To present such blatant lies as a legitimate “point of view” — and worse, to offer them as “news” without any opportunity for rebuttal by the scientists whom Perry slanders with his demonstrably FALSE accusations of deliberate scientific fraud — is not “straight reporting”.

    It is, in fact, gross deception by the purported “news” organization, whether that deception is deliberate or “merely” the result of reckless and irresponsible disregard for the facts.

    Steve Fish wrote: “This morning NPR reported on Perry answering a question about evolutionary theory, from a kid, with a statement that in Texas schools evolution and creation science are presented side by side.”

    First of all, there is no such thing as “creation science”. Creationism is religion, period.

    Secondly, NPR again fails its responsibility as a news organization if it does not fact-check that statement by Perry as well, because Perry’s claim about what is taught in Texas schools is apparently also false.

    Simply repeating the claims of politicians — without fact-checking and reporting whether those claims are, in fact, true — is not “straight reporting” and it is not “presenting the facts”. It is, rather, acting as a propaganda office for the politician in question.

  35. 285
    Septic Matthew says:

    Here is another hint that civilization might survive global warming:

    http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/08/18/revisiting-climate-and-the-food-supply/

    [Response: Did you read the paper that your link refers to? If so, how does it support your statement above?--Jim]

  36. 286
    Steve Fish says:

    SecularAnimist. I agree with your opinions regarding climate and evolutionary science. I taught courses on evolutionary topics at the Ph.D. level. However, you really haven’t thought through the ethics and practicalities of news reporting. NPR, in both Perry stories, accurately reported what was said. That is what accurate reporting is about. You seem to want NPR to fact check everything that politicians (in this instance) say. This is not realistic. Otherwise, please explain how your local newspaper, NPR, or the New York Times for that matter, could fact check the content of every statement, of every person on whom they report.

    Save your complaints for instances in which straight reporting offers opinion, or for signed and supposedly factual reporting that is in error.

    Captcha= allytag fact. Steve

  37. 287
    David B. Benson says:

    Maybe this is drifting too far from climatology and ought to be taken up elsewhere, maybe deSmog Blog?

  38. 288

    News, straight from above Montreal air… I have been measuring abnormal upper air cooling during this very warm North American summer, it fits quite well with current numerous cumulonimbus observations, predominantly huge and especially high. But its the cold upper air bit which fascinates, at a point when there was a single CB cloud giving thousands of soundless “heat” lightnings causing a stir along with the sightings of turkey vultures, equally unheard of in Montreal, birds with huge wing spans flying about looking for carrion is a sign of the times. All these were never seen before revealing events.

    World wide its the same story, from Texas to the North Pole, the climate has literally changed, for the warming..

    ……. And then we have contrarians with TV megaphones:

    http://mediamatters.org/research/201108170030

    Mediamatters does a good job contrasting the great contradiction between contrarian failings and reality,such as done by meteorologist Bastardi, but that is not a perfect way to expose them. If a contrarian,regardless of credentials, commits to predict some future climate event, based on their understanding of everything, including greenhouse gases, if they fail in their predictions, they fail the test,
    and should be seen as such, incompetent in this domain, due to lack of understanding on how nature works, persons with higher credentials also must past this test, its the understanding which is key, if they remove Greenhouse gases effects, their predictions are doomed to forecast the wrong scenario.

    Lobbyists “phony crisis syndrome” failing with predictions regularly is not talked about nearly enough,
    luckily this piece gets close to the point:

    http://www.youtube.com/user/greenman3610#p/a/u/0/YVh7z-0oo6o

    I add Bastardi predicted Arctic sea ice to regain a good chunk of its formal extent this year, as we know he was dead wrong, he along with all others who fail but also decry AGW as fraud should be exposed regularly, with their prediction flunking baggage in their PR resume, they will fade.

    I like to see more of this on RC, more exposing each contrarian failure repeated as long as they bark up the wrong tree. Especially a list of those who foresaw this years Arctic sea melt to be “normal”. Correct future projections is a competence score card. Learning never ends, also remarkably bad learning equally persists, exposing those who fail the test of their own predictions is crucial in establishing a clear avenue onto a better informed populace.

  39. 289
    Hunt Janin says:

    Re 280: Thanks. Your point is very well taken. Sitting at home with my computer here in rural France, I’ve accessed, printed out, and filed nearly 500 entries re sea level rise.

  40. 290
    ccpo says:

    284 Septic Matthew says:
    18 Aug 2011 at 9:06 PM

    Here is another hint that civilization might survive global warming:

    http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/08/18/revisiting-climate-and-the-food-supply/

    - There is a 99% probability neither of those authors has ever gardened.

    - Parsing the question as the survival of humanity has little meaning. S a few hundred thousand survive, start over, and make the same mistakes. Is this meaningful? No. That 7 billion survive in a form and manner that is very different, but closely related to the present is the framing we need.

    [Response: Whether the authors have ever gardened is immaterial to their analysis of the future effects of heat vs drought on European wheat yields in the coming decades. But your second statement is the more important one and is right on IMO.–Jim

  41. 291

    The NPR/Perry issue is a frustrating one. One the one hand, Steve Fish is right; every potentially false statement made by a public figure can’t be fact-checked and commented on in every single news story. And I heard the same story, or perhaps an earlier version of it on NPR, and didn’t feel that NPR was wrong to cover what Perry said.

    On the other hand, I very much sympathize with SA; the constant drumbeat of such [insert noun of choice here], effectively orchestrated by right wing ideologues in politics and media, amounts to the Goebbels “Big LIe” technique in a modern iteration: say it often enough, and people tend to assume that it’s true, or at least could well be true.

    A non-climate instance is the oft-repeated claim that “Under Obama, federal spending has exploded. . .” (McConnell) and numerous variants of the meme; but according to CBO figures–reported, among other places, in that left-wing rag “The Economist,”–federal spending actually peaked in 2009. I think, despite the reporting, that not too many folks are aware of that.

    I’m sure there are other instances. But it really does seem to me that our public discourse is epistemologically broken–we are, as a culture, extremely inefficient at arriving at accurate assessments of the teeming data that surround us. “He who has the money, makes the memes”–to a considerable degree, at least.

    I wish I had a better answer than stubbornly saying, over and over again, in the public fora that I have chosen, what I evaluate as correct and true. But that’s pretty much what I know to do. I know it has some effect. But with time running so short, it’s often hard to believe that it’s effective enough.

    Still, you gotta do what you gotta do.

    [Response:As Mr. Dylan once said in his inimitable way "All you can do, is do what you must". The consistent repeating of what is honestly known on the issue(s), by you--and numerous others here and elsewhere--is not ever to be under-estimated or taken for granted, and I guarantee you that we are all very appreciative of it. It would probably be good if we said this a little more often--Jim]

  42. 292
    Jeffrey Davis says:

    re: 288

    Wayne Davidson, you have a touch of the poet about you. (I suspect that many scientists are frustrated poets.) The image of the vultures flying around a huge thunderhead crackling with lightning is ripe enough to be the cover art for a heavy metal album. Or an icon for our demise. But I repeat myself.

  43. 293

    Having been in the publishing biz for 30-odd years, I tend to support SA on this point. It really doesn’t require much more fact checking to note how ludicrously out of step Perry is on evolution or AGW than if he had, say, mentioned that the moon is made of cheese.

    Context is vital and in this case — and many others — simply reporting the he said, she said omits vital information.

  44. 294
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Steve Fish,
    I’m sorry, but I have to come down more on SA’s side here. There are some opinions that are so provably and risibly false that they, by themselves, should be grounds for ridiculing a public figure off of the public stage. Perry has passed way beyond that to slandering the entire scientific community.

  45. 295
    Radge Havers says:

    There’s more to journalism than the ethics of stenography. Journalists make a big noise about “balance.” But we know all too well about ‘false balance’. There’s also a failure to examine the biases embedded in the conventional wisdom that guides the editing process. SA got it.

  46. 296
    J Bowers says:

    Septic Matthew — “Here is another hint that civilization might survive global warming:”

    “Might”?! “…might survive”! Is that in the same vein of “possibly”, or “perhaps” by any chance?

    Thanks, mate, I think I’ll go and celebrate tonight because we might survive global warming. The sambucas are on me! let’s dance!

  47. 297
    jamesc says:

    As the Earths Atmosphere warms up does it expand?

  48. 298
    SecularAnimist says:

    Well, somehow The Washington Post managed to fact-check Rick Perry’s “made-up ‘facts’ about climate change and his baseless accusations of fraud against climate scientists — which NPR chose to “report” as “news”.

    The Post fact-checkers scored Perry’s remarks with “Four Pinocchios” — which, according to their rating system, means Perry was telling “whoppers” — and conclude (emphasis added):

    Perry’s statement suggests that, on the climate change issue, the governor is willfully ignoring the facts and making false accusations based on little evidence. He has every right to be a skeptic — all scientific theories should be carefully scrutinized — but that does not give him carte blanche to simply make things up.

    Again, for NPR to simply “report” Perry’s outrageously false statements as “news” during their hourly “news” headlines, with NO fact checking, NO discussion, and NO opportunity for rebuttal from the “substantial number of scientists” that Perry accused of fraud, is reckless, irresponsible, and a gross violation of basic journalistic standards.

    [Response: Truly ironic considering that NPR is often viewed as some sort of partisan left-biased media. It turns out that scientific illiteracy is truly non-partisan.--eric]

  49. 299

    Re: 297. And, following the who, what, when, where and why of the story…Why no mention in the NPR story of the massive financial support Perry’s received from fossil fuel interests, putting his allegations within a larger context?

    Shoddy.

  50. 300
    Hank Roberts says:

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=137115982
    NPR is now carrying the AP story
    Perry Expresses Doubts On Manmade Global Warming
    by The Associated Press
    BEDFORD, N.H. August 18, 2011, 04:30 am ET

    That includes “Perry’s opinion runs counter to the view held by an overwhelming majority of scientists …”


Switch to our mobile site