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WSJ Editorial Board: Head Still Buried in the Sand

Filed under: — group @ 7 February 2007 - (Português)

While the rest of the world has basically accepted the conclusion of the latest IPCC report, one small village still holds out against the tide – the Wall Street Journal editorial board. This contrasts sharply with the news section of the paper which is actually pretty good. They had a front-page piece on business responses to global warming issues which not only pointed out that business was taking an interest in carbon reduction, but the article more or less took as a given that the problem was real. However, as we have pointed out before, the editorial pages operate in a universe all their own.

This would not be of much concern if the WSJ wasn’t such an influential paper in the US. However, the extent of its isolation on this issue is evident from the amusing reliance on the error-prone Christopher Monckton. They quote him saying that the sea level rise predictions were much smaller than in IPCC TAR (no they weren’t), that the human contribution to recent changes has been ‘cut by a third’ (no it hasn’t), and that the Summary for Policy Makers (SPM) was written by politicians (no it wasn’t – the clue is in the name).

Even more wrong is the claim that “the upcoming report is also missing any reference to the infamous ‘hockey stick’ “. Not only are the three original “hockey stick” reconstructions from the IPCC (2001) report shown in the (draft) paleoclimate chapter of the new report, but they are now joined by 9 others. Which is why the SPM comes to the even stronger conclusion that recent large-scale warmth is likely to be anomalous in the context of at least the past 1300 years, and not just the past 1000 years.

Thus on any index of wrongness, this WSJ editorial scores pretty high. What puzzles us is why their readership, who presumably want to know about issues that might affect their bottom line, tolerate this rather feeble denialism. While we enjoy pointing out their obvious absurdities, their readers would probably be better off if the WSJ accepted Jeffery Sachs’ challenge. For if they can’t be trusted to get even the basic checkable facts right on this issue, why should any of their opinions be taken seriously?

Quick pre-SPM round-up

Filed under: — group @ 1 February 2007

Tomorrow is the big day for all IPCC-watchers (and we’ll comment then) but in the meantime here are a few interesting tidbits floating around today.

First off, there are some curious patterns in the whitehouse.gov search engine. It turns out that it has been blocked from returning most results if the search phrase includes “global warming” – even if it’s from the President himself. For instance, searching for “issue of global” gives as top result the President’s Rose Garden speech in June 2001 on Global Climate Change, but searching for “issue of global warming” (which of course is the full phrase used) returns nothing. Hmmm…..

Secondly, Bill Nye (‘the underprepared science guy’) had a rather rough time of it up against Richard Lindzen on Larry King last night – an episode notable only for the regression back to the ‘false balance’ notion that most of the media has been moving away from (sigh…). However, tucked away at the end was a rather confused section, where it appears that Lindzen bet Nye that ice cores don’t have a resolution better than 2000 years. Now this is an odd claim, and an odder thing to bet on, since Greenland cores (GRIP, GISP2) and Antarctic cores (EPICA DML) have sub-annual resolution in many cases for the isotope (temperature) records, and at least decadal resolution (Law Dome, Siple Dome) for the greenhouse gases (CO2, CH4). It’s true that the very longest records (Vostok and Dome-C) have coarser resolution, but surely Lindzen doesn’t think they are the only ones that exist? So, to make up for Nye’s performance, he should at least get a quality bottle of scotch. Bill, let us know if Lindzen pays up!

Finally, there is an excellent article on the sausage making going on in Paris… more on that tomorrow.

House and Senate committee hearings

Filed under: — group @ 30 January 2007

There are two hearings today from the new congress that are of relevance for RealClimate readers:

The House Oversight Committee is having hearings on the possible suppression of climate change science by the administration (streaming from here). Witnesses include Drew Shindell (NASA GISS), Roger Pielke Jr. and R. Piltz. Update: Full hearing video available at C-SPAN.

The Senate EPW Committee is having an open forum for senators to discuss climate change legislation (streaming from here).

The Human Hand in Climate Change

Filed under: — mike @ 23 January 2007

Kerry Emanuel (whose influential scientific work we’ve discussed here previously) has written a particularly lucid and poignant popular article on climate change for the literary forum “Boston Review”. The article is entitled Phaeton’s Reins: The human hand in climate change. We thought it worth passing along.

Consensus as the New Heresy

Filed under: — group @ 3 January 2007

Gavin Schmidt, Michael Mann, David Archer, Stefan Rahmstorf, William Connolley, and Raymond Bradley

Andy Revkin, who’s one of the best journalists on the climate beat, wrote a curious piece in the NY Times discussing the ‘middle stance’ of the climate debate. It’s nice to see news pieces on climate that aren’t breathless accounts of a new breakthough and that take the time to point out that the vast majority of relevant scientists take climate change extremely seriously. To that extent, the message of this piece was a welcome one. The curious part, however, was the thread running through the piece that this middle ground is only now emerging, and even curiouser, that this middle ground can be characterized as representing some sort of ‘heresy’.

Heresy, is commonly defined as ‘an opinion or doctrine at variance with the official or orthodox position’. So where does this idea come from, and why is it now ’emerging’?
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