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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. 301
    prokaryotes says:

    jamesc asked
    As the Earths Atmosphere warms up does it expand?

    Interesting, and i wonder if in case of large methane release we face a severe oxygen lose. So far oxygen content in the atmosphere is on steady decline, because Co2/Ch4 breaks down eats up oxygen in the process.

    [Response: No, 6 to 7 orders of magnitude difference in quantities, not to mention the oxygen contributed by the terrestrial land sink (which is insignificant in comparison).–Jim]

  2. 302
    prokaryotes says:

    Another view on media and facts reporting and how people respond.

    Why Facts No Longer Matter In The Media Discourse http://www.disinfo.com/2011/05/why-facts-no-longer-matter-in-the-media-discourse/

    The only solution can mean total transparency, for example release of interview transcripts a let science speak not PR people. As long this doesn’t change you will mislead and create propaganda.

  3. 303
    J Bowers says:

    Hank Roberts — “NPR is now carrying the AP story”

    Check out how they describe anthropogenic GHGs: “But Perry’s opinion runs counter to the view held by an overwhelming majority of scientists that pollution released from the burning of fossil fuels is heating up the planet.”

    EPA rocks.

  4. 304

    #292 Jeffrey, Most people are stunned:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NFiHGEEYmUw go figure, Vultures in Montreal….

    Also Jeff Masters points out http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=1886

    what I am observing through vertical sun disk measurements, expansive very cold upper air throughout this summer, enough to contrast with the very hot surface air. Atmospheric refraction contributions are 60% near surface and 40% in the Upper Air, and the 40% contribution overwhelmed the over all image, suggesting deep cooling. This may interest RC modelers here.

  5. 305
    Septic Matthew says:

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

    I think the probability would be increased if the study and its result were to be replicated.

  6. 306
    Septic Matthew says:

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

    Barton Paul Levenson’s modeling forecast a certainty that global warming will devastate agriculture so severely as to put an end to civilization by about 2050. The cited study, if replicated with the same result, shows that BPL has severely overestimated the effect of the predicted global warming on wheat yields. The civilizations where wheat is a major foodstuff may be able to survive global warming.

    [Response: What Barton has modeled has nothing to do with it. I asked whether *you* had read the paper and how it supports your previous statement. Have you, and does it?–Jim]

  7. 307

    Jim, thanks for your encouragement in the inline response to my #291.

    Further to that–in a slightly tangential way–I promised last week that I’d have Part Two of my semi-popular treatment of the history of the study of atmospheric radiation out this week. . . and with the week ebbing fast away, I made it!

    IMO, Part Two is apt to be a bit more compelling for most of us because it touches upon the vexed matter of backradiation and the measurement thereof, and because it unearths a couple of things that I think are still relatively little known–like climate-related science back in 1814, or the answer to a certain great climate science trivia question.

    As always, comments, corrections and reactions are particularly invited–hey, I’m a musician writing about science after all! I could use the help.

    Link here:

    http://doc-snow.hubpages.com/hub/Fire-From-Heaven-Climate-Science-And-The-Element-Of-Life-Part-Two-The-Cloud-By-Night

    Oh, and thanks to everybody who read Part One!

    (If you missed it, it’s only a single click away from Part Two, literally. Just scroll way, way down. . .)

  8. 308

    #297–I *think* the short answer is ‘yes.’

    But as Dr. Weart has repeatedly reminded us, the atmosphere is not a single slab, and if we try to think of it that way, we’ll go badly wrong.

    In the troposphere–the part of the atmosphere we (mostly) inhabit, there’s a robust warming trend. We all know about that. I believe that work has been done which shows the troposphere expanding slightly. IIRC, Dr. Ben Santer was involved.

    In the stratosphere, there is a cooling trend–in part, a ‘fingerprint’ of greenhouse warming, in part due to ozone loss. Not sure if that’s showing up as a contraction or not.

    Above that–well, a link is probably indicated:

    http://www.physicalgeography.net/fundamentals/7b.html

    I like the way this displays the temperature trends semi-schematically–although the graph doesn’t show the hottest extremes of the thermosphere.

  9. 309
    prokaryotes says:

    Record Ice loss for Greenland’s Mittivakkat Glacier

    Greenland’s longest-observed glacier, Mittivakkat, showed two consecutive record losses in mass during recent melt seasons. In 2010 around 7 feet of water were lost 2.16 meters, 2 percent of the total glacier volume and in 2011 about 8 feet 2.45 m melted away.

    The researchers didn’t directly determine the cause of the mass loss, but most agree increased melting from higher surface temperatures, caused by climate change, is to blame. The water lost from the glaciers ends up in the sea, raising the sea level.Other glaciers in Greenland show comparable glacier-edge retreats from melting, and these glaciers are similar to the Mittivakkat in size and elevation range.

    Therefore, the researchers believe these mass losses would be representative of the broader region, which includes many hundreds of local glaciers.

    “The retreat of these small glaciers also makes the nearby Greenland Ice Sheet more vulnerable to further summer warming,” Hanna said. “There could also be an effect on North Atlantic Ocean circulation and weather patterns through melting so much extra ice.”

    The melting of glaciers has been found, for instance, to have an impact on the gravity above the area. http://climatesignals.org/2011/08/record-ice-loss-for-greenlands-mittivakkat-glacier/

    It would not surprise me if we get glacier sea slides, underwater land slides and potentially resulting tsunamis in the european area too. This high impact scenario outlook with methane spikes.

  10. 310
    Doug Bostrom says:

    Small Government, GOP-style:

    “Without money to build a new satellite, the federal government will no longer be able to forecast severe weather events far enough in advance for communities to take life-saving action five years from now. That was the message that Jane Lubchenco, the administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, delivered on Wednesday at a town-hall-style meeting in Denver.

    Speaking at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science on a day when the weather forecast warned of possible tornadoes and golf-ball-size hail east of the city, Dr. Lubchenco said there would be a gap of at least a year and a half, and possibly much longer, during which NOAA has no operational satellite circling the planet on a north-south orbit.”

    Oh, sure, right. NOAA’s just trying to plump up its budget with luxuries such as a single satellite to provide weather warnings for 300 million people. Any fool knows if we just hold enough stadium events featuring prayerful governors we’ll be just fine.

    More problematic facts:

    “In the first half of August, [Lubchenko] said, 5,000 heat records were broken across the United States. About 2,000 of those were for the highest maximum temperature on a given day, and 3,000 were for the highest minimum temperature. This means nights as well as days have been getting hotter.”

    Sounds like a familiar signature there, all too convenient. Better have investigators go after those meteorologists, see what kind of message they’re trying to push with their observations. How do they communicate, exactly how do they alter the records of their instruments? How does Al Gore pass along his instructions? Nobody knows. The Mafia has nothing on these guys when it comes to keeping a vow of silence, eh?

    Circling back to GOP candidate Perry et al for whom we lack sufficient data to confidently assign as dogmatic, stupid or uninformed:

    Responding to a question by the event’s moderator, Clayton Sandell, an ABC News correspondent in Denver, about how she felt on a personal level about seeing some members of Congress and other political leaders ignore climate science, the NOAA administrator uttered a word that she used repeatedly throughout her remarks: frustrating.

    “I think that the consequences of not acting are huge,” Dr. Lubchenco said. “It is very, very frustrating to have evidence and present evidence and have it not be believed, essentially.”

    Asked about what NOAA’s future might look like if a Republican candidate who disputes global warming wins the 2012 presidential election, Dr. Lubchenco pointed out that the agency’s climate research was mandated by congressional legislation.

    The rest of the sad story:

    http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/08/17/weather-alerts-are-imperiled-noaa-warns/?scp=2&sq=weather&st=cse

  11. 311
    SecularAnimist says:

    Doug Bostrom quoted:

    “I think that the consequences of not acting are huge,” Dr. Lubchenco said.

    I have a question for Dr. Lubchenco.

    If President Obama approves the Keystone XL pipeline to bring Canadian tar sands oil to the Gulf of Mexico, the consequences for anthropogenic global warming will be huge. Indeed, climatologist James Hansen has said that the massive carbon emissions from extracting and burning the tar sands oil would mean “game over” as far as preventing catastrophic climate change.

    So my question is, if President Obama approves the Keystone XL pipeline, will Dr. Lubchenco resign in protest?

    [Response: I sure hope not; you don’t easily replace someone of that caliber in that type of position. This isn’t an “I’ll take my ball and go home” level of operation. But enough of the off topic stuff.–Jim]

  12. 312
    Radge Havers says:

    eric in-line @ 298

    “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.”

    To their credit PBS, at least, has had some good programming on AGW. But might as well point out that criticism of public broadcasting for generally leaning to the right is long standing.

    FAIR’s take on NPR in 2004:

    “Looking at partisan sources—including government officials, party officials, campaign workers and consultants—Republicans outnumbered Democrats by more than 3 to 2 (61 percent to 38 percent).”

    At FAIR more recently:

    “The right calls for budget cuts because it says NPR and PBS are too left-wing. Liberal defenders weigh in to defend the CPB budget, making few or no demands on public broadcasters. This all but guarantees that public broadcasting will continue to be pushed to the right, and further away from its intended mission.”

    reCAPTCHA: sidedie symptoms

  13. 313
    Ray Ladbury says:

    I think that NPR and the other mainstream media have gone all post-modernist on us. They treat matters of scientific fact just like differences of religious opinion. Not all opinions are worthy of respect. Some are worthy only of ridicule–Perry’s is a case in point. It used to be that scientists and journalists could be viewed as allies because both were dedicated to discovering and exposing the truth. Journalists today squirm at the very mintion of the word “truth”.

  14. 314
    Doug Bostrom says:

    I can easily imagine no NOAA administrator at all (or that is to say, an acting administrator only) for the rest of this presidential term, if Dr. Lubchenco should resign.

    Putting aside my global thoughts and pondering locally, I ask myself, “Am I ready to go to jail or in any way seriously inconvenience myself or my family over the XL pipeline?” My answer at this moment is “no,” so I certainly am in no position to look askance at Dr. Lubchenco, who is arguably more useful to the future in her present situation than am I in mine.

  15. 315
    Septic Matthew says:

    306: Jim again: What Barton has modeled has nothing to do with it.

    Of what “it” are you writing? The study provides model evidence contradicting one of his claims, which was the reason that I posted the link to it. You wrote that if I had read the paper then I should justify my linking to the newspaper article. So I did.

    [Response: Well then I’d suggest that stating your points directly rather than make vague and sweeping one liners would help all concerned.–Jim]

  16. 316

    So … does anyone want to discuss the Younger Dryas yet? It’s gonna be a great show. In fact, this is shaping up to be a regular ‘showdown’.

    Is anyone following this besides the ‘usual suspects’?

  17. 317
  18. 318

    Poor NPR. They can (and have) had lengthy and accurate stories on climate change–for instance, Morning Edition has been running a multiday series on how disappearing sea ice is affecting the Arctic, running to ca. 10 minutes per segment, and featuring a reporter that they sent there to cover the story. Not hearing any praise for that.

    But let them fail to refute Perry’s foolishness in a news update that covers multiple stories in two 2 minutes flat and they’re pilloried. (Yes, that segment is two minutes–many stations run a second two-minute segment as. You can hear the break between the two which allows a clean cutaway, if yours is one of these.)

    Can we order a sense of proportion for this table?

  19. 319

    “. . . two-minute segment as well.

    Sorry.

  20. 320
    John W says:

    Ray Ladbury says:
    “It used to be that scientists and journalists could be viewed as allies because both were dedicated to discovering and exposing the truth.”

    But what exactly is “Truth”? IMO, the Truth is more than a collection of facts designed to sell newspapers or convince someone to vote for this or contribute to that; it is the whole truth. For example: it is true that exposure to dihydrogen monoxide can kill but if I’m trying to convince you to vote for more regulation on dihydrogen monoxide I’m less likely to reveal that it’s water. When scientists/journalists become advocates IMO they have a heightened responsibility of complete disclosure of all information. (i.e.: We expect spin from politicians but not pediatricians.)

  21. 321
    ozajh says:

    #304 Wayne,

    Every time I click over to Jeff Masters’ blog, I am stunned at the difference in commentary rate between there and here. Over 3000 responses to a thirteen HOUR old thread . . .

  22. 322
    Edward Greisch says:

    288 wayne davidson: “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”

    Phenomenon noted circa 1970: Operating a simulator for the electromagnetic effects of a nuclear weapon high altitude “burst” also attracts vultures.

    What can we learn about climate by watching vultures?

  23. 323
    Ernst K says:

    @311:

    “If President Obama approves the Keystone XL pipeline to bring Canadian tar sands oil to the Gulf of Mexico, the consequences for anthropogenic global warming will be huge. Indeed, climatologist James Hansen has said that the massive carbon emissions from extracting and burning the tar sands oil would mean “game over” as far as preventing catastrophic climate change.”

    It’s only “game over” if all (or at least a very large fraction) of the tar sands are developed over the next century or so. As it stands, plans are to expand production to the point where 10% of the resource will be developed over the next century (increasing production from 1 million to 4 or 5 million barrels/day).

    James Hansen’s numbers assume that every last morsel of tar sand will be turned into oil over a relatively short time scale. That’s at least 1.7 trillion barrels, from a single jurisdiction that has no plans to develop the resource that quickly (you need to produce at a rate of about 40+ million barrels per day to get to 1.7 trillion barrels in 100 years).

    The Keystone pipeline is not going to make or break that kind of level of development. ~1,000,000 barrels/day does not have “huge consequences” for AGW because it will take 4000+ years to produce all the tar sands at that rate. To put it another way, you will need 40+ Keystone Pipelines to produce 40+ million barrels per day.

  24. 324
    Septic Matthew says:

    315, Jim: [Response: Well then I’d suggest that stating your points directly rather than make vague and sweeping one liners would help all concerned.–Jim]

    Is there really anybody here who is unfamiliar with BPL’s prediction? He’s a regular contributor who is pretty sophisticated and respected on the whole.

  25. 325
    J Bowers says:

    Septic Matthew — “I think the probability would be increased if the study and its result were to be replicated.”

    Think? If? The Neolithic Revolution wasn’t a waste of time after all.

  26. 326
    Didactylos says:

    Shorter Ernst K: US oil consumption is so huge that a few million barrels more or less don’t matter.

    It’s not rocket science. Increasing oil consumption is exactly the opposite of reducing consumption. And choosing the most environmentally harmful extraction methods is irresponsible. Choosing the most expensive options: well, that’s just stupid. Choosing expensive and damaging? There are no words….

  27. 327
    Ernst K says:

    @326

    You’re missing my point entirely.

    I’m not saying that developing tar sands doesn’t matter. I’m saying it doesn’t necessarily have “huge implications for AGW”. Although it does have huge implications for Alberta.

    Tar sands development is the direct result of US oil demand, and it’s US oil demand that gas huge implications for AGW.

  28. 328
    Ernst K says:

    @326

    You’re missing my point entirely.

    I’m not saying that tar sands development doesn’t matter. I’m saying that it doesn’t have “huge implications for AGW” or that it means that it’s “game over” for any hope of keeping CO2 at acceptable levels.

    What does gave huge implications for AGW is US oil consumption and it’s US oil consumption that is driving tar sands development.

  29. 329
    Radge Havers says:

    Kevin McKinney @ 318

    Point taken. Some of the ire, mine at any rate, is based on the sheer viral perniciousness of the sound bite. I nearly boked my biscuits when I heard it. (Luckily for me, Joe Romm had the antidote for Perry’s emetic elsewhere: “Denier Rick Perry Takes $11 Million from Big Oil, Then Claims Climate Scientists ‘Manipulated Data’ For Money.”)

    The issue is denialists getting treated with kid gloves, effectively a boost to their message, when they’re powerful. Politicians use sound bites for a reason.

  30. 330
    Hank Roberts says:

    I notice this year’s Arctic Sea Ice thread
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2011/07/arctic-sea-ice-discussions/comment-page-6/#comments
    appears to have choked on digressions and died before the minimum is reached.

    Here’s one for that subject:

    This is a model study but adds some hope for recovery:

    GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 38, L16705, 5 PP., 2011
    doi:10.1029/2011GL048739
    http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2011/2011GL048739.shtml
    The reversibility of sea ice loss in a state-of-the-art climate model
    Key Points

    Sea ice loss is reversible within a state-of-the-art global climate model
    We find no evidence of threshold behavior in summer or winter sea ice cover
    Rapid sea ice retreat does not imply irreversibility

  31. 331

    Credit for good reporting — including the absence of false balance — where it”s due:

    http://www.npr.org/2011/08/20/139754902/trying-to-unravel-the-mysteries-of-arctic-warming

  32. 332
    SecularAnimist says:

    Kevin McKinney wrote: “But let them fail to refute Perry’s foolishness in a news update that covers multiple stories in two 2 minutes flat and they’re pilloried.”

    But that is exactly my complaint: that NPR reported Perry’s blatantly false claims and sweeping accusations of scientific fraud AS NEWS, with NO fact-checking and with NO opportunity for rebuttal.

    A great many people listen to NPR’s hourly news updates who do not necessarily listen to extended, multi-part reports. And NPR’s listeners have every right to expect that the hourly NEWS updates will provide accurate statements of fact — not some politician’s blatant lies and baseless accusations of far-reaching fraud presented as NEWS, without a word from NPR pointing out that the politician is flat-out LYING. (And no, a few meek words noting that some scientists have a different “belief” doesn’t count.)

    If Perry’s remarks had been included in a longer report or series of reports on politics of anthropogenic global warming, as an example of dishonesty on the subject by a presidential candidate who has received millions of dollars from the fossil fuel corporations, with fact-checking to demonstrate his falsehoods, and with rebuttal from the scientists whom Perry accuses of committing fraud for money, that would be another matter. Depending on how such a report handled Perry’s remarks, I might or might not be concerned about “false balance”, but it would certainly be legitimate to report on them in that context.

    But it is wholly inappropriate to present them as NEWS, in the course of an extremely abbreviated NEWS report from which listeners expect straightforward, concise presentation of FACTS — without any of the context, fact-checking or rebuttal that a longer format would provide.

  33. 333
    Doug Bostrom says:

    There’s been a bit of a splash (sorry!) in what remains of the popular scientific press about the irreversibility paper Hank mentions. From my gnat-like perspective it seems like a useful confirmation of occasionally correct intuition: when the Arctic is allowed to cool to more traditional temperatures, sea ice will expand. The paper does not seem to claim that ice will defy its thermal regime by reappearing even as temperature remains at supra-cryogenic(??) levels:

    “We test sea ice reversibility within a state-of-the-art atmosphere–ocean global climate model by increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide until the Arctic Ocean becomes ice-free throughout the year and subsequently decreasing it until the initial ice cover returns. “

    “Irreversible” seems a shoal word, one on which it’s easy to run aground, akin to the phrase “greenhouse effect.” Or am I missing something?

  34. 334
    SecularAnimist says:

    Hank Roberts: The abstract of the Armour et al study says:

    “We test sea ice reversibility within a state-of-the-art atmosphere–ocean global climate model by increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide until the Arctic Ocean becomes ice-free throughout the year and subsequently decreasing it until the initial ice cover returns.”

    That’s good news.

    All we have to do is to start decreasing atmospheric CO2, and keep decreasing it until the Earth system cools off enough for Arctic sea ice cover to return to pre-AGW levels.

    Of course, first we have to stop the accelerating growth of CO2 emissions and the corresponding ongoing increase in atmospheric CO2, and then we can perhaps figure out how to draw down the higher level of CO2 that will have built up by that time to lower levels than it’s at now, where the Arctic sea ice is already melting, and if methane, albedo and other warming feedbacks don’t thwart that effort, perhaps the ice will begin to recover from whatever much lower levels it will have reached by then.

  35. 335
    prokaryotes says:

    Climate Progress Wiki

    Im currently setting up a climate wiki, based on the wikipedia. Everybody is welcome to join and contribute :)
    So far the wiki pages are somehwat 90% compatible. For example you can copy the wiki page in question and start then with edits…
    http://climateprogress.net/

  36. 336

    321 Ozajh, yes but the comments here are more focused, I think due to moderation.

    322 Edward.. ” Phenomenon noted circa 1970: Operating a simulator for the electromagnetic effects of a nuclear weapon high altitude “burst” also attracts vultures.

    What can we learn about climate by watching vultures?”

    In this Montreal case, they were never seen here aside from in cages,. I think that they are migrating in a climatically more favorable zone. The electromagnetic aspect is really cool, but is largely part of the same process, the “heat lightning” observed really close up stunning thousands of people not use to seeing this which was also not heard, thousands of lightnings with perhaps one thunder heard very near or under the cloud, all of which came during likely the warmest day in Montreal’s history (+35.2 Max and +25.8 C daily minimum). And so I am sure each city and villages all across the world are having similar sightings. Scientists have to be more active by simply going outside and observing, especially for those who are skeptical about AGW. We don’t have to wait for the flood before we accept solid science, we should try to understand its implications and realize the inescapable reality which engulfs us all. I am sure most contrarians have blinders , may be we should help remove them.

  37. 337
    Septic Matthew says:

    This map displays international shipping:

    http://www.sailwx.info/shiptrack/shiplocations.phtml

    If you click on an area it enlarges and names the ships in that area. You can follow the shipping through the Northwest Passage if you’ve a mind to. There isn’t much commercial shipping in the Arctic right now, but you can follow the predicted increase in coming years.

  38. 338
    flxible says:

    Ice movement tracking in Antartica – should prove interesting over time.

  39. 339
    Hank Roberts says:

    For John Burgeson, in reply to your inquiry in the CMIP5 thread
    Lately I like this one:

    http://www.amazon.com/Global-Climate-Change-Orrin-Pilkey/dp/0822351099
    Global Climate Change: A Primer [Paperback]
    160 pages. Duke University Press Books (June 9, 2011)

  40. 340
    Lawrence Coleman says:

    I recently watched a english doco whose name eludes me unfortunately disussing amongst other things the misinformation campaign re climate change. The narrator saw NASA’s latest computer model of global water vapour dynamics in real time vs satellite imagery smultaneousy. I was very impressed indeed by the close correlation of both. That simple demonstration told me that climate scientists understand over 90% the actual dynamics at work and that they understand absolutely the macro factors involved. That gave my a lot of confidence in the state of current climate modelling algorithms.
    As tipping points are breached they will be incorportaed into the variable set of those models.
    Tipping points such as runaway arctic ice albedo, exponential methane release in the arctic and antarctic, more frequent sudden collapses of vast ice sheves accelerating glacial velocity, the retardation of the North Atlantic thermohaline circultion etc.
    Full marks to Gavin Schmitt et-al or thier tireless research and climate modelling prowess.
    Looking through uni-bremen ice extent and satellite imagery it looks as though it may exdeed the summer of 2007 record as it is virtually tracking it at present and don’t forget that there will probaby be a few more days of melt into mid september than in 2007 as the melt season is getting longer.
    The NE and NW passage are open to shipping and has been foe a number of weeks.

  41. 341
    Pete Dunkelberg says:

    For John Burgeson, in reply to your inquiry in the CMIP5 thread about a book on, I infer, what’s happening to the climate in human terms and why

    This is certainly good and it has a website with frequent updates:
    http://www.amazon.com/Storms-My-Grandchildren-Catastrophe-Humanity/dp/1608195023/

    Website http://www.columbia.edu/~mhs119/

    and of course this one:
    http://www.amazon.com/Global-Warming-Political-Intimidation-Politicians/dp/1558498699/

    Look here too: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2008/01/our-books/

  42. 342

    #331–

    SA, we’re going in circles. I get your point. I still differ, though, because 1) the story is what the candidate said, not its truthfulness or otherwise, and 2) a news update does not allow for much fact-checking and context-setting.

    Could they have done better? Probably; a ‘few meek words’ would suffice. But when they are doing more to give real attention and context than any other American news organization–which they are, according to my informal observations–then that needs to be part of the context, too.

  43. 343
    Radge Havers says:

    Kevin McKinney @ 341

    Perhaps the question could be asked if there are statements that NPR would have hesitated to broadcast without context, and just left hanging to ring in people’s heads. The answer, I think, is yes. probably lots; no doubt you can come up with your own list of incitements and weirdness. So it’s a matter of editorial policy where the line is drawn.

    Politicians design propaganda bombs specifically for insertion into news segments. Journalists should be savvy enough defuse these IEDs before presenting them to the public, lest they, for instance, unwittingly undo in five seconds the work of hours of solid programming. It’s good to keep in mind that the public does not think like trained scientists, and that there is a habit in the media, even NPR, of kowtowing to power. This may not be a proximal issue of science, but it certainly has implications for how science is treated if it comes into the hands of unfriendly government leadership. Please think about this when you’re wondering about how it is that public opinion slumps so sadly despite the best efforts of so many well intentioned, smart and knowledgeable people.

  44. 344
  45. 345
    Septic Matthew says:

    331, Secular Animist: But that is exactly my complaint: that NPR reported Perry’s blatantly false claims and sweeping accusations of scientific fraud AS NEWS, with NO fact-checking and with NO opportunity for rebuttal.

    It was NEWS about Perry, not NEWS about climate.

  46. 346

    Republican pres candidate Jon Huntsman accepts climate science, but thinks climate scientists are meteorologists: http://t.co/DOFh9qz

    [Response: One step at a time… – gavin]

  47. 347
    Septic Matthew says:

    I have a question. when GHG molecules absorb radiant energy, they transmit this energy elsewhere via two mechanisms: (a) they re-radiate it at their absorption/emission wavelengths; (b) they collide with lower energy molecules.

    What is the fraction, in the atmosphere, of the energy transmitted via each mechanism and how does that fraction vary across altitude, latitude, and pressure?

  48. 348
    Doug Bostrom says:

    Regarding Perry and NPR, perhaps thinking in terms of a continuum might help.

    If Perry had said 2+2=5, NPR would be quite safe in reporting those words with no explanation. Most listeners would safely conclude he’s crazy; useful information (news) about Perry would successfully have been conveyed without further elaboration.

    If Perry had said that Pi is equal to 3, NPR would still be largely justified in allowing listeners to complete the circle.

    In the case of Perry and his strange remarks about functional, prosaic science, NPR may yet have a working sense of what will fly in the public mind. Taking John Huntsman as a test subject, his own conclusion was that Perry is “crazy.”

    What’s interesting to me about the Perry remarks is how they’ve stimulated consolidation around a tacit consensus and even quite a bit of explicit acknowledgement in the press and the punderati to the effect that Perry and most of his self-styled GOP presidential candidate colleagues are deep in the weeds. Perry’s own words made this possible, unadorned.

  49. 349
    Hank Roberts says:

    > NEWS

    Because an accusation of fraud is NEWS.
    But a fraudulent accusation isn’t NEWS.

    SM, you’re making it clear how you keep yourself ‘skeptical’.
    Ya sure you want to do that?

  50. 350
    Martin Vermeer says:

    Septic Matthew #346, one of the secrets of successful science, and of successfully studying science, is asking the right questions. This is a textbook example of a non-right question.

    (a) they re-radiate it at their absorption/emission wavelengths;
    (b) they collide with lower energy molecules.

    Eh,

    (b2) … sometimes with higher-energy molecules too

    (c ) they radiate (not: re-radiate) energy they received by collision.

    But all this is uninteresting… it’s like asking how much of your earnings came in as banknotes and how much as coins, and which denominations. The interesting thing is the sum total, right?

    There is such a thing as local thermodynamical equilibrium. You don’t even want to know all this micro detail… just one macro number, the temperature. And then with Planck’s function and emissivity/absorbtivity as functions of wavelength, that’s all you need to know.

    Please, please find a good course on thermodynamics. Given the questions you’re asking, it’s worth it.


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