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Unforced variations: May 2012

Filed under: — group @ 1 May 2012

New open thread for this month: misrepresentations of wind farm impacts on local climate? Clouds and contrarians? or whatever…


401 Responses to “Unforced variations: May 2012”

  1. 201
    SecularAnimist says:

    Dan H wrote: “Support for electric vehicles may have been adversely affected by recent news coverage of poor performance.”

    There is no “news coverage of poor performance” of electric cars, because all of the electric and hybrid cars on the market perform just fine, and drivers who actually own or lease them all express high degrees of satisfaction.

    What there is — as with the deceitful denial of anthropogenic global warming — is a steady stream of anti-EV propaganda, much of it consisting of outright, blatant lies, funded by the fossil fuel corporations and cranked out through phony “conservative” media outlets like Fox News. When you compare their so-called “news coverage” of EVs with the actual news coverage in the automotive industry and technology press, the goofy cartoonish nonsense that Fox (and Rush Limbaugh and on and on) are peddling is truly laughable. Or would be, if it were not such despicable slander.

    And of course, it’s not at all surprising to find Dan H. regurgitating such dishonest propaganda. It’s all of a piece with the denialist bunk that he posts here.

    What is the Bore Hole for, after all?

  2. 202
    Edward Greisch says:

    Gavin 155: Warming is a good thing in the minds of most people. The “Effect” has to be something more vital, or victual, like no groceries. Warming IS the effect to you, a climate scientist. Sorry to disagree with you. Talking about the price of groceries gets the message across that GW is important. Talking about warming is just telling them that the weather is going to be “nicer.”

    Remember, the average person has an IQ of 100. And a very limited education. They are at the level of “dinner.”

    I have told you that you need to make predictions about the price and availability of food before. FOOD is the effect of a good climate. NO FOOD is the effect of a bad climate. If you don’t talk about food, you may as well save your breath.

    If you want average people to pay attention to you, another thing you have to do is clobber them with it. They just aren’t going to understand if you continue to speak the scientific language.

  3. 203

    Here’s another attack on science. Bill Sweet regularly writes on energy and environment for IEEE Spectrum and as regularly gets pilloried in reade comments. In his latest article he summarises an issue of Science including an article that lowers worst-case estimates of sea level rise. As usual comments are attacking, one almst threatening to get him fired. I try to counter this but a few more voices would help. Go there if you would like to help turn the tide.

  4. 204

    #202 “need to make predictions about the price and availability of food…” This is as bad as anything coming out of Dan H’s, uh, mouth.

    Think about what you just said. We have commodities markets where amateurs regularly turn large fortunes into small ones, and now you want climate scientists trying their hands?

    More importantly, you’re falling into the trap of adding yet more facets to what ought to be a straightforward proposition — why muddy the waters further with a metric that is subject to more factors than simply the climate?

  5. 205
  6. 206
    flxible says:

    “Remember, the average person has an IQ of 100.”
    The important part of that to remember is, on average, half the population is below 100 . . . and some of them are wealthy regardless.

  7. 207
    Edward Greisch says:

    204 Walter Pearce: 206 flxible is correct. Just try your argument out on some really average or below average ordinary laboring poor type people. Get out into the country and small towns or manufacturing towns far from a university. [If they have jobs, they will claim to be rich.] What you will get is probably anger if you stick to what RC says. They will angrily tell you that they are Republican. I hope you can de-fuse it and not get into a physical fight. They will assume that you are an Al Gore Democrat. What ever you do, don’t tell them that you are a Democrat and do say something negative about Al Gore. [Amazingly, the poorest vote for the billionaires' candidate. Figure that one out.]

    You will get nowhere even faster with rich fossil fuel stockholders, or even middle class people who read the WSJ.

    What I am saying is nothing like what Dan H. is saying. I am on RC’s side. Dan H. is against RC. I am telling you how to win. Dan H. is trying to get you to loose.

    Wmar copied an anti-Levenson [green text] reply to me from RC to http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/
    Why? Because the food issue works.
    If you follow dotearth at all, you know who wmar is.

  8. 208

    #207… Neither you, nor me, nor anyone at RC can predict food prices with any reliability, let alone in a manner that’s meaningful for the average person. One of those ideas that might sound good to you “in theory” but is impossible to effect.

    Also, food prices aren’t determined solely via climate — so you wouldn’t even be proving what you think you are proving.

    I live in a rural area, btw, among the “average,” and most folks here accept that we’re changing the climate. We see it in the plants, animals, seasons, storms, etc. I’m inclined to think maybe you should get out more… :)

  9. 209
    SecularAnimist says:

    Dan H wrote: “Consider these reports which appeared in major publications:”

    Fact-free, dishonest opinion pieces by right-wing propagandists are not “reports”.

    But you know that. And we know to expect such clownish dishonesty in your comments.

  10. 210
    Ray Ladbury says:

    George Carlin: “The average person is an idiot, and 50% are stupider than that…”

    Given my generally sunny position, it may surprise some that I do not necessarily agree with Carlin (well, except when I’m driving) nor with Edward Greisch. I know a lot of very intelligent people who reject climate science. I know some people of average or below intelligence who do not presume to question the experts or who have actually drawn some perceptive conclusions based on their own observations.

    The enemy here is not lack of intelligence, but rather stupidity–the use of our intelligence to fool ourselves. Climate change has some unpleasant implications and no clear solutions that do not involve significant sacrifice. Argument from consequences is a favorite logical fallacy among the intelligent. I think many (e.g. Freeman Dyson) feel that if climate change is true that we may not have the unlimited future they envision…and therefore it must be false. In Dyson’s case, he feels that even if the experts are right that some magical technology that will make everything all right must be just around the corner, and all the emphasis on climate change will have been a distraction.

    Of course there are ideologically blinkered idjits who make anti-science a matter of pride, but they come from all portions of the intelligence bell curve. I think that the aspect of this problem that engenders false skepticism and self delusion more than any other is the paucity of solutions. If we propose solutions that seem feasible without draconian reduction in living standards, we will likely see increased support.

  11. 211
    David B. Benson says:

    Correcting my #190: do not

  12. 212
    Steph says:

    Re. Responses by ‘Gavin’
    Is there some reason why you are so rude to people?

    [Response: I prefer to think of myself as simply being frank. I am happy to answer questions and discuss with people who are genuinely interested in having a conversation, but I don't have any time for people who want to play games. People who repeat nonsense after having been shown repeatedly that their claim is mistaken are not here looking for answers. People who misrepresent papers or results can be gently corrected once or twice, but not forever. Science makes no progress if you have to start at zero every single day, and so scientists learn that to be effective, conversations/discussions etc. need to move forward. That doesn't happen if every stray thought or contrarian meme is indulged over and over. If you come here wanting to have your ego stroked and told how interesting your point is, you'd better make sure that your point is, in fact, interesting (to someone other than yourself). There are plenty of venues where people can muse away to their heart's content and never be challenged on their misunderstandings. But not here. - gavin]

  13. 213

    #210–Thank you, Ray, for a thoughtful response to some comments that were (IMO) unpleasantly simplistic and elitist.

    IQ is but one component of the thinking mind, and we associate it with our own conclusions, political parties, etc., at our own peril–or so it seems to me. (And actually, it’s a bit of an artifact–it has never been shown that the results of IQ tests actually correlate with any one mental ‘thing.’ IQ test results appear to depend upon a whole grab bag of different cognitive abilities, not to mention lots and lots of specific knowledge.)

  14. 214
    Jim Galasyn says:

    Conservative thinktanks step up attacks against U.S. clean energy strategy, plan ‘subversion’ and ‘dummy businesses’

    A network of ultra-conservative groups is ramping up an offensive on multiple fronts to turn the American public against wind farms and Barack Obama’s energy agenda.

  15. 215
    Hank Roberts says:

    From the Guardian story quoted at the link Jim Galasyn posted:

    “The strategy proposal was prepared by a fellow of the American Tradition Institute (ATI) – although the thinktank has formally disavowed the project.”

    That sounds oddly familiar somehow. Did that same fellow write Heartland memos?

    Astroturfing history: http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/2010/11/17/do-80-percent-of-scientific-american-subscribers-deny-global-warming-hardly/

  16. 216
    Susan Anderson says:

    Steph@~212

    Huh? Rude? On the whole, I find Gavin to be excessively polite and patient. You must have really bust the bank of rank falsity promotion if he actually bothered to be rude with you. Intelligent people, on the whole, are pretty impatient with nonsense, especially those well informed on a subject on which the uninformed person is bloviating without justification.

  17. 217
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Steph, OK, let’s see. In your eyes, deliberately wasting the time of a professional scientist who is donating his time to educate the public…well, that’s just fine. Repeatedly bringing up the same discredited zombie arguments and interfering with the blog’s stated aim of educating the public…hunky dory! Putting up billboards equating professional scientists to terrorists…Oh, those pesky Heartland types.

    But pointing out to a clueless troll that he is in fact a clueless troll, well that is just plain rude! OK. I think we understand each other now.

  18. 218
    tamino says:

    Re: #212 (Steph)

    Gavin has bent over backwards to be polite to as many people as possible, including many who don’t return the favor. I have never witnessed him being rude. In fact, you have to step way over the line — multiple times — before he’ll go so far as to be “frank.”

    Your accusation that he is rude, therefore, makes me suspect that you’re projecting your own behavior.

  19. 219
    Jim Eager says:

    Steph is just concern trolling. And it worked, eliciting Gavin’s in-line response plus four reader replies, including this one. It’s an effective tactic only if we play along.

  20. 220
    Utahn says:

    Steph, I can see why just looking at a couple of responses might make you think “rude.”. But I agree with others that Gavin is the last one I’d call rude. Remember there are hundreds of posts by some commenters where disinformation is the rule. When you get to number 50 or so, I suppose, polite fades to frank, and rarely I suppose could bE construed as rude. But what is more rude, a direct inline response, or hundreds of time wasting posts?

  21. 221
    Hank Roberts says:

    For Steph: http://www.rifters.com/crawl/?p=886 (collected among 2009′s best online science writing at openlaboratory.com). Seriously, read that.

  22. 222
    ozajh says:

    Edward Criesch @ 202,

    “Warming is a good thing in the minds of most people.”

    That may be true in the US, but ‘most people’ do not actually live in the US. India/Pakistan/Bangladesh have 4 times as many people as the US, and I suspect most of THEM would prefer things a few degrees cooler.

  23. 223
    Steve Fish says:

    For Susan 9 may 2012 at, for the moment, #216, Ray same date # 217, Tamino #218, and, of course Steph. I am a biomedical scientist (emeritus) and I was always amazed by Evolution deniers who made outrageous claims regarding the science, but accused me of Christian bashing when I told them what the science was. This behavior has to do with perspective taking that my wife, a child development scientist, says is an important component of intelligence.

    Many folks have no idea how offensive they are being when they tell a scientist, who has devoted his/her life to studying some component of the real world, how they should adjust their thinking. This is especially the case when the motivation is obviously not fact based but comes from a religious, political, cultural, economic, or whatever non-scientific perspective.

    I am building a house and when talking to the solar guy, the plumbers, the insulation contractor, and so on, I always defer to their expertise but ask question to clarify what they are telling me. I almost always learn something new and this is my favorite thing. I only wish I could get the same respect for my expertise. Steve

  24. 224
    Ken Feldman says:

    Meanwhile, down in Antarctica:

    New Antarctic ice shelf threatened by warming
    By Chris Wickham

    LONDON | Wed May 9, 2012 1:02pm EDT

    (Reuters) – Scientists are predicting the disappearance of another vast ice shelf in Antarctica by the end of the century that will accelerate rising sea levels.

    The Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf fringing the Weddell Sea on the eastern side of Antarctica has so far not seen ice loss from global warming and much of the observation of melting has focused on the western side of the continent around the Amundsen Sea. But new research from the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Germany says the 450,000-sq-km ice shelf is under threat.

    "According to our calculations, this protective barrier will disintegrate by the end of this century," said Dr Harmut Hellmer, lead author of the study, published in the journal Nature this week."

    Story at this link

  25. 225
    doug says:

    If I could make a little observation, I’ve noticed that Heartland Dan (Dan H.) never gets pinned down here with one of his virginic falsehoods, and I’d recommend that tactic in dealing with him. What I mean is when he says one of his falsehoods, the commenters that disagree with him should only focus on this virginic point until he virginically answers. (He may never) He may never do a lot of things, but, it will be a lot harder for him to ignore people if they *make* him deal with his virginic falsehood. Heartland Dan is never pinned down and thus always escapes (sex). Let’s pin him down. (In a nice way of course) So, ALL of the commenters should focus on only only point, until Dan deals with that, and his other issues. And boy, are they issues. And by the way, Dan Heartland hates, I mean hates, the movie Forty Year Old Virgin.

  26. 226
    Edward Greisch says:

    208 Walter Pearce: Of course I do not try to predict prices for food, except that if there is no food, that is the same as an infinite price.

    210 Ray Ladbury: OK. You never know about people. And I should not have used the “IQ” word anyway. 213 Kevin McKinney is correct. I should be more careful. How should I express my frustration? There is a problem with the human brain? There is a problem with education? People make assumptions? Trying to talk about GW is difficult. I keep finding out that what I meant wasn’t what they heard. People make wrong assumptions. The architecture of the human brain has a lot of flaws or really sucks. To what do you attribute the lack of action on GW? What are You going to do to solve the problem?

    There is no the paucity of solutions. But they are off limits on RC.

    I am half way through “The Beginning of Infinity” by David Deutsch. Deutsch talks about The Enlightenment and Enlightenments plural. Will we fall into a new Dark Age? Dark Ages seem to be the standard. Staying enlightened is the goal. The difference between Athens and Sparta was that Athenians constantly tried to improve things and Spartans tried to prevent change. The human brain hasn’t changed. Part of defeating GW is to stay enlightened.

    212 Steph: I think Gavin is amazingly polite and diplomatic. All RC staff are very good at diplomacy from my point of view. I am amazed at how un-angry they stay some times.

    Somewhere else I saw something saying that some RC person was changing from saying GW is a bullet to saying GW is an H bomb. What is wrong with that is that we never had enough bombs to make ourselves extinct. At most [60,000 bombs] we had 1 part in 10,000 of an Extinction Level Event [ELE] because an ELE is defined as 100 million megatons. Example: the Cretaceous–Paleocene extinction event caused by a 100 million megaton explosion due to impact. The sun can easily provide that much energy, so I conclude that GW could be an ELE. A “general exchange” [all out nuclear war] between the US and the USSR would do a lot of killing, but it wouldn’t make Homo Sap extinct.

  27. 227
    Steph says:

    Thank you Gavin for what was indeed a very polite response. Perhaps, for the sake of your own well-being, it might be best to simply ignore those you find needlessly repeating themselves. My question was merely the result of idle observation; it had no hidden agenda and was not intended to provoke anyone. I feel as though I have inadvertently strayed into an unexpected war zone and will quickly retire forthwith!

  28. 228

    Steph, Gavin is an extraordinary climate science teacher. Be quiet or ask good questions in his classroom.

  29. 229
    MARodger says:

    doug @225
    Unlike the Heartland Institute, the comments of Dan H. here at RealClimate do point to him believing a fixed heterodoxy of AGW – perhaps in his view a Great Truth. (Imagine Akasofu but with the 0.6 deg C/century rise driven by CO2 not cosmic rays, implying a TCR of some 0.9 giving a sensitivity of some 1.3.) However his Great Truth remains a crypto-theory that can only be surmised from his comments – it would certainly not survive long if it was proposed openly.

    Most of the stuff Dan H. chucks into the RealClimate comment threads here are possibly meant to prepare the way for his Great Truth but, if so, it is evidently not yet the time for his revalation to be made known.

    I’m not sure how we would go about ‘pinning’ Dan H. down. He wriggles excessively & when things get too poignant, he exits stage right for a few scenes until the coast is clear, then resumes afresh. Any ‘pinning’ exercise would be exceedingly tedious for most commenters. Indeed, my own attempt at ‘pinning’ a while ago drew calls of “don’t feed the troll”

  30. 230
    Utahn says:

    Steph, I think it’s unfortunate but appropriate that it seems like a war zone. I have a recollection of feeling something similar a few years ago when I started looking into climate science. For me it was something like, why are these people getting so upset? I soon realized that in large part I realized I couldn’t understand why they were so upset because I couldn’t understand what they were talking about.

    Not sure how much looking into climate science you have done, but there a lot of great links under the “start here” tab top left of the main page. I particularly enjoyed Spencer Weart’s history of global warming, and the IPCC FAQ pages, and still enjoy the website skeptical science.

    It may still look like a war zone to me, but at least I now feel like I understand the conflict, and feel like I am comfortable with who “the good guys” are, and to me, Gavin is one of the best.

  31. 231
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Steph, this is a war, or rather a front in a war. Other fronts include evolution/creationism, medical science/antivax, and so on. What is to be resolved in this war is whether humanity will be governed by science and reason, or whether we will continue to wallow in self delusion. I think that is important.

  32. 232
    flxible says:

    James Hansen tries again, including the food price reference Edward wishes for.

  33. 233
    SecularAnimist says:

    MARodger wrote: “I’m not sure how we would go about ‘pinning’ Dan H. down.”

    I’m not sure either.

    But I am sure the moderators know how to send his repetitive dishonesty to the Bore Hole.

  34. 234
    Hank Roberts says:

    Steph, also take a look at Brin on what he also calls a war against “… The notion that assertions can trump facts…. completely untethered from any need for consistency or reference to evidence….”
    http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2012/04/take-wager-challengeand-help-push-back.html
    and his posts on climate change:
    http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/search?q=climate

  35. 235
    Radge Havers says:

    Edward Greisch

    Yeah, “Speaking one’s mind” is over rated.

    It helps to both identify and identify with your audience. That way you can better modulate your message and think a few steps ahead to anticipate responses. You have to be a bit of a player, and that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. At least target precisely and focus. Personally, I try to save the raging core dumps for special occasions.

    If you’re stuck, you can always ask yourself WWGS (What Would Gavin Say?).
    ;-)

  36. 236
    john byatt says:

    Just how did this piece of nonsense make it into what is claimed to be a peer reviewed journal.

    http://www.tswj.com/2012/761473/

    .

  37. 237
    Tom Scharf says:

    Clearly a sensitive subject, but one has to ask how you feel about your boss’s recent op-ed in the NYT?

    To me, it is almost like he is screaming to be fired as a PR stunt. 50% extinction rates, 50 foot SLR? All stated as scientific fact and signed with his official title at NASA.

    I can imagine the only response at this point would be “no comment”. But is this really the proper scientific response?

  38. 238
    Hank Roberts says:

    > tswj

    Funny you should ask. It’s apparently quite a force for, er, something.

    The Emergence of a Citation Cartel
    Posted by Phil Davis ⋅ Apr 10, 2012

    http://scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org/2012/04/10/emergence-of-a-citation-cartel/

    https://scholarlykitchen.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/satellite-citation.png

    “… these data exist only in their aggregate and are not linked to specific articles. It was only seeing very large numbers amidst a long string of zeros that I was alerted to something odd going on — that and a tip from a concerned scientist. Identifying these papers required me to do some fancy cited-by searching in the Web of Science. The data are there, but they are far from transparent.

    The ease to which members of an editorial board were able to use a cartel of journals to influence their journal’s impact factor concerns me greatly because the cost to do so is very low, the rewards are astonishingly high, it is difficult to detect, and the practice can be facilitated very easily by overlapping editorial boards or through cooperative agreements between them. What’s more, editors can protect these “reviews” from peer review if they are labeled as “editorial material,” as some are. It’s the perfect strategy for gaming the system.

    For all these reasons, I’m particularly concerned that of all the strategies unscrupulous editors employ to boost their journal rankings, the formation of citation cartels is the one that could do the most harm to the citation as a scientific indicator. Because of the way it operates, it has the potential of creating a citation bubble very, very quickly. If you don’t agree with how some editors are using citation cartels, you may change your mind in a year or two as your own title languishes behind that of your competitors.

    Unlike self-citation, which is very easy to detect, Thomson Reuters has no algorithm to detect citation cartels, nor a stated policy to help keep this shady behavior at bay.”

  39. 239

    John Byatt wrote in 236:

    Just how did this piece of nonsense make it into what is claimed to be a peer reviewed journal.

    The Scientific World Journal? My, that is about as focused as The Journal of Scientific Exploration. TSWJ charges a $1000 to publish your article. The Journal of Scientific Exploration doesn’t charge you a dime. An issue of the latter peer-reviewed journal included an article on transient weight gain experiments upon the moment of death by suffocation:

    Twelve animals (one ram, seven ewes, three lambs and one goat) were studied. At the moment of death an unexplained weight gain transient of 18 to 780 grams for 1 to 6 seconds was observed with seven adult sheep but not with the lambs or goat. The transients occurred in a quiet time at the moment of death when all breathing and movement had ceased. These transient gains are anomalous in that there is no compensating weight loss as required by Newton’s Third Law. There was no permanent weight change at death. Dynamic weight measurements may present a fruitful area of investigation.

    LE Hollander Jr (2001) Unexplained Weight Gain Transients at the Moment of Death, Journal of Scientific Exploration, Vol. 15, No. 4, pp. 495–500

    … but it is also a venue for those whose ideas are decidedly outside the mainstream when it comes to climate science, e.g.,

    David Deming (2005) Global Warming, the Politicization of Science, and Michael Crichton’s State of Fear, Journal of Scientific Exploration, Vol 19, Number 2, pg. 247

    Joel M. Kauffman (2007) Climate Change Reexamined, Vol 21, No. 4, pp. 723-749

  40. 240
    Rattus Norvegicus says:

    Timothy Chase,

    Yes, TSWJ had a distinct “pay to play” flavor about it. Some of the open access journals do have standards (the various PLoS journals come to mind) but there are a large number of them which are published by companies which have no standards and are just there to help incompetents get their publication count up.

  41. 241
  42. 242
    dhogaza says:

    Tom Scharf asks:

    To me, it is almost like he is screaming to be fired as a PR stunt. 50% extinction rates, 50 foot SLR? All stated as scientific fact and signed with his official title at NASA.

    I can imagine the only response at this point would be “no comment”. But is this really the proper scientific response?

    He made clear that he was talking about very long timescales.

    He put it into context thusly:

    That is the long-term outlook. But near-term, things will be bad enough. Over the next several decades

    The “next several decades” roughly corresponds with the current century.

    Hansen says this:

    If we were to fully exploit this new oil source, and continue to burn our conventional oil, gas and coal supplies, concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere eventually would reach levels higher than in the Pliocene era, more than 2.5 million years ago, when sea level was at least 50 feet higher than it is now.

    On what basis do you disagree, Scharf?

    Obviously to fully exploit the resource would take a very, very long time but if we do, do you argue that:

    concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere eventually would reach levels higher than in the Pliocene era

    This is false? On what physical basis?

    When he says this:

    when sea level was at least 50 feet higher than it is now.

    Are you arguing that sea level wasn’t about 50 feet higher in the Pliocene?’

    Hansen’s a bit over the top, but not nearly as over the top as those who deny what he’s saying is “obviously false”.

  43. 243
    Sou says:

    @John Byatt #236 – that would be an interesting question to put to Donald H. Stedman, the ‘academic editor’. As I understand it from reading the editorial workflow, he approved the article for publication and maybe even ‘reviewed’ it. (Much of Stedman’s work seems to be on motor vehicle emissions.)
    http://www.tswj.com/workflow/

  44. 244
    Susan Anderson says:

    I was tempted to weigh in about the World Scientific Journal because even a brief mildly skeptical (by which I mean open-minded) look at their website (and I’m not a scientist) made me wonder about it. The majority of their work appears to be in health sciences (including nutrition. Glad to see you guys are on the case.
    http://www.tswj.com/editors/

    The author processing charge coupled with open access makes profits dependent on volume rather than integrity and spreads any foolishness to the broadest possible audience.

    I am reading the current New Yorker article on geoengineering.* I know there are likely better technical sources on the information, but good reporting and very readable. I don’t know if to laugh or to weep (for all “sides”). For once, not behind a paywall:
    http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2012/05/14/120514fa_fact_specter?currentPage=all

    Anyone with a visual sense of humor might be entertained by Russell’s prolific collages on recent developments:
    http://vvattsupwiththat.blogspot.com/

    *Author: “Specter has twice received the Global Health Council’s annual Excellence in Media Award, first for his 2001 article about AIDS, “India’s Plague,” and secondly for his 2004 article “The Devastation,” about the ethics of testing H.I.V. vaccines in Africa. He also received the 2002 AAAS Science Journalism Award, for his 2001 article, “Rethinking the Brain,” on the scientific basis of how we learn. His most recent book, “Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet, and Threatens Our Lives,” was published in October of 2009.

  45. 245

    #237–”50% extinction rates?”

    Actually, “20-50% rates” (which is what Dr. Hansen said) are projected at 3 C warming, according to AR4 (WG II report.) That’s an amount of warming which could well occur by the end of this century, and which might not even require full exploitation of the oil sands. (Although we–”we” meaning the Federal government of Canada and Syncrude–are currently on the path to as full an exploitation of them as technically possible.)

    So there is nothing ‘fringe’ about this claim. It may seem so, since people in general don’t like to hear about it, but that does not alter the fact that the possibility is well-supported in the literature.

    http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg2/en/figure-4-4.html

  46. 246
    Susan Anderson says:

    IMO, Tom Scharf is a skilled iconoclast when it comes to the preferred messengers to kill. Not sure any of you can make much progress pointing out facts and truths there. However, it might be worth considering the possibility that on Dr. Hansen’s past record, he might be right about how bad things are going to get if we continue headlong down our heedless path.

    FWIW, it is interesting that Dr. Hansen was a good enough scientist in the Bush days to survive the politically thorough purges of real science and honest opinion throughout the government. It is also interesting that he like Dr. Emanuel was a staunch conservative.

    Now the budget-based attrition of programs with true value is depleting our observational capability and making us second-class world citizens (satellites in particular). Do we really think we can bully our way through planetary mayhem – whether slow or fast – rather than using our minds and hearts?

  47. 247

    Following up on my #245, there is a very accessible (and succinct) discussion in Wikipedia:

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

    (Spoiler: The latest paper was from this year, and concluded that previous estimates of extinction rates may be too low.)

  48. 248
    SRJ says:

    Have anyone read this paper:
    Climate sensitivity to the lower stratospheric ozone variations
    N.A. Kilifarska
    http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jastp.2012.03.002
    or
    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1364682612000867

    As I see it is a pretty bad attempt in statistical analysis.
    The relation between land temperature and ozone appears to be based on an arbitrary functional form that fits the data nicely, rather than physics.
    And total ozone level, TOZ, as well as 11 years running averages are used as regressors, eg. in the fourth term of equation 1:
    b4*TOZ*TOZ11

    Using smoothed variables(from running averages) in a regression is bad practice, see e.g. Tamino here:
    http://tamino.wordpress.com/2011/07/22/how-not-to-analyze-tide-gauge-data/

    Other comments on the paper?

  49. 249
    Ray Ladbury says:

    @238 As usual, Hank cuts through the BS to the main issue. TWSJ is another front in the fake-sceince/fake-skeptic/vanity-journal war. It shows that the anti-science idjits are becoming much more sophisticated in their attempts to undermine science.

    I don’t see an third alternative to people either becoming more science literate or descending into a new Dark Age of self delusion. The Enlightenment was fun while it lasted.

  50. 250
    Tom Scharf says:

    @247 – I’m not disputing whether someone in fact made a claim of 20% to 50% extinctions rates, clearly they did.

    There is a very large gap between a scientist making this estimate in a study, and Dr. Hansen’s phrasing it in the NYT as a known scientific fact, without even qualifying it as an estimate with a very high degree of uncertainty.

    Arguing Dr. Hansen is wrong and arguing Dr. Hansen does not know the answers to the degree he himself states, are separate topics. I am arguing the latter.


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