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The most common fallacy in discussing extreme weather events + Update

Filed under: — stefan @ 25 March 2014

Does global warming make extreme weather events worse? Here is the #1 flawed reasoning you will have seen about this question: it is the classic confusion between absence of evidence and evidence for absence of an effect of global warming on extreme weather events. Sounds complicated? It isn’t. I’ll first explain it in simple terms and then give some real-life examples.

The two most fundamental properties of extreme events are that they are rare (by definition) and highly random. These two aspects (together with limitations in the data we have) make it very hard to demonstrate any significant changes. And they make it very easy to find all sorts of statistics that do not show an effect of global warming – even if it exists and is quite large.

Would you have been fooled by this?

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Can we make better graphs of global temperature history?

I’m writing this post to see if our audience can help out with a challenge: Can we collectively produce some coherent, properly referenced, open-source, scalable graphics of global temperature history that will be accessible and clear enough that we can effectively out-compete the myriad inaccurate and misleading pictures that continually do the rounds on social media?

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New climate science MOOCs

Filed under: — gavin @ 1 February 2014

Along with David’s online class a number of new climate science Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) are now coming online.

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AGU talk on science and advocacy

Filed under: — gavin @ 23 December 2013

We have often discussed issues related to science communication on this site, and the comment threads frequently return to the issue of advocacy, the role of scientists and the notion of responsibility. Some videos from the recent AGU meeting are starting to be uploaded to the AGU Youtube channel and, oddly, the first video of a talk is my Stephen Schneider lecture on what climate scientists should advocate for (though actually, it mostly about how science communicators should think about advocacy in general since the principles are applicable regardless of the subject area):

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AGU 2013 preview and participation

Filed under: — group @ 8 December 2013

So, it’s that time of year again.

Fall AGU is the largest Earth Science conference on the planet, and is where you will get previews of new science results, get a sense of what other experts think about current topics, and indulge in the more social side of being a scientist. The full scientific program is available for searching here.

In recent years, there has been an increasing amount of virtual content – including live streaming of key sessions and high profile lectures, and continuous twitter commentary (follow the hashtag #AGU13), that give people not attending to get a sense of what’s going on. Gavin and Mike are attending and will try and give some highlights as the week goes along, here and via twitter (follow @ClimateOfGavin and @MichaelEMann).

Some obvious highlights (that will be live-streamed) are the Frontiers of Geophysics lecture from the Jim Hansen (Tuesday, 12:30pm PST), Senator Olympia Snowe (Monday, 12:30pm), Judith Lean (Tues 10:20am), the Charney Lecture from Lenny Smith (Tues 11:20am), James Elsner on tornado connections to climate change (Tues 2:40pm), David Grinspoon (the Sagan lecture, Thurs 9am), and Bill Ruddiman (Thursday 2:40pm). Some full sessions will also be livestreamed – for instance, The future of IPCC session (Tues 10:20am-12:30pm), and the Climate Literacy sessions (Tues 4:00pm-6:00pm, Wed 8am-12:30pm).

For attendees, there are a number of events close to our hearts: A bloggers forum for discussion on science blogging (Mon 5pm), the Open Mic night hosted by Richard Alley (Mon 7:30pm at Jillian’s Restaurant), and the AGU 5k run on Wednesday morning (6:30am).

Also AGU and the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund have organised a facility for individual consultations with a lawyer (by appointment via lawyer@climatesciencedefensefund.org) for people either who have found themselves involved in legal proceedings associated with their science or people who are just interested in what they might need to be prepared for. There is a brown bag lunch session on Friday (12:30pm PST) for a more informal discussion of relevant issues.

There are obviously many individual presentations that will be of interest, but too many to list here. Feel free to add suggestions in the comments and look out for updates all next week.


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