Readers of the Feb. 14th, 2005 Wall Street Journal may have gotten the impression that RealClimate is in some way affiliated with an environmental organisation. We wish to stress that although our domain is being hosted by Environmental Media Services, and our initial press release was organised for us by Fenton Communications, neither organization was in any way involved in the initial planning for RealClimate, and have never had any editorial or other control over content. Neither Fenton nor EMS has ever paid any contributor to RealClimate.org any money for any purpose at any time. Neither do they pay us expenses, buy our lunch or contract us to do research. All of these facts have always been made clear to everyone who asked (see for instance: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/vol306/issue5705/netwatch.shtml).
27 Responses to "A disclaimer"
Steven T. Corneliussen says
Unlike the other national papers, the Wall Street Journal notoriously restricts access to its online content. So maybe you can’t post a link to the offending content or post it verbatim. But especially if I’m not the only RealClimate reader who’d like to know more about what the WSJ actually said, I hope you can find some way to characterize or quote the offending article more fully. Thanks.
I assume this has something to do with
That would be Stephen McIntyre of McIntyre and McKitrick.
I can’t see it, not a WSJ subscriber. A little help? What did they say?
[Response: Unfortunately we would be voilating their copyright if we posted the whole article. The mention of RealClimate that we are reacting to was
Re: “launched with the help of an environmental group…”
I guess that’s literally true (sigh). Poisoned by association, at least for WSJ and their readers.
In fact, I have been impressed by how little influence realclimate.org has had on the mainstream environmental advocacy/lobbying/litigating groups (Pew Climate, NRDC, Union of Concerned Scientists, Sierra Club, et. al.). If you do some looking around on the web, you’ll find few references to realclimate at their websites. Greenpeace did link you in but that’s hard to find. Perhaps this is a comment on how insular and self-contained such groups really are. I would think reputable climate scientists debunking politically-motivated nonsense masquerading as science would be something they would be interested in publicizing….
Randolph Fritz says
Sympathies, guys. You’ve just heard a toot from the mighty wurlitzer. This is Very Bad, especially since there are surprisingly many influential people who think that Dow Jones speaks with voice of god. Be careful. Remember how Ben Santer had to defend himself.
Joe Blough says
I’m not sure where else to post this so I will post it here, forgive me if I post it in the wrong place.
An article from Saturday’s Toronto Star that mentions realclimate.org, the “hockey stick”, and Ross McKitrick:
Scientific din distorting Kyoto message.
A letter to the editor from McKitrick in today’s Toronto Star:
Need to talk about climate change.
Sonya GK says
That would not appear to be their only error, at least not to myself.
Either the WSJ did not verify and confirm the information and references— as well as seemingly going to great lengths to make an unjustified and not verifiable historical relation to Kyoto and the hockey stick in the text.
Or McIntyre, and one would assume McKitrick as well, in context to the numerous articles on Kyoto that he has authored, are, themselves, indeed intentionally going there in their printed material and the WSJ simply accepts such as fact and does not choose to verify the actual facts, references, and background material.
This is basic journalism, is it not? I thought it was…..perhaps I was wrong…… Verification of reference material,background info and sources?
This opening statement “” One of the pillars of the case for man-made global warming is a graph nicknamed the hockey stick” states the science education level and the verificational level in relation to reference material of the journalist, IMO.
I do not think I have read a more bizarre statement in recent years, personally……..
However, all in all, it’s remarkably absurd…..being that Mann’s paper was written in 98……the frame work for Kyoto was laid down in 92, refined in the latter part of the 90s, and so forth……where is the actual documentation basis for their said argument?
Well before Mann’s document was released the government had solicited the CARDS database, in relation to anthropogenic climate change ……–and at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) on 4 June 1992 emissions reductions were addressed…..
[Long post truncuated for brevity… the original may be found at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Paleontology_and_Climate/ – William]
Steven T. Corneliussen says
I’m still having trouble following this thread, because I don’t yet fully understand what offenses the WSJ actually committed. Because I agree with the comment about the need for RealClimate to become a common point of reference in public discussion — though I wouldn’t agree that it makes sense to expect that to happen within merely a few months of the blog’s founding — I’d still like some coherent statement of what the WSJ article was about, what its headline was, where it appeared in the paper, what its climate-science errors (if any) were, and what the overall context was for that potentially misleading characterization of RealClimate’s origin. The WSJ is not going to sue a blog for factually characterizing and quoting from a WSJ article. Thanks.
[Response: We aren’t particularly criticising WSJ, merely addressing a possibly misleading characterisation of the site. We could quibble with details, but the story is really about the controversy, rather than a discussion of the science. The text was posted on the newsgroups (see #4 above). – gavin]
Bruce Frykman says
Im at a loss to explain why my comments do not get posted on this forum… [post edited] Can you explain your policy in more detail?
[Response: not really, its all there in the comment policy. Comments that talk about the science are welcome; those straying into other areas risk being deleted; those that stray, but have a clear valuable content, may get passed. Please don’t mistake this site for a newsgroup – William]
Bruce Frykman says
Regarding your editorial comment:
“Response: not really, its all there in the comment policy. Comments that talk about the science are welcome; those straying into other areas risk being deleted; those that stray, but have a clear valuable content, may get passed. Please don’t mistake this site for a newsgroup – William”
Presumably the discussion thread addressing Senator Inhofe’s comments before the senate and the multiple characterizations of it posted here passed your test for scientific or newsworthy content while my [discarded] post citing Dr Chris Landsea’s comments concerning his reason for resigning from the IPCC were considered to be of no value by either standard of editorial judgement.
Comments such: “as the if the WSJ got off its fat ass” appear to pass muster and must therefore be deemed by your editors to be in furtherence of the interests of climate science, while mine, citing Dr Chris Lansea’s charges of politicization at the IPCC [http://sciencepolicy.colorado.edu/prometheus/archives/science_policy_general/000318chris_landsea_leaves.html] were apparently deemed to be outside the realm and therefore subjected to editorial deletion.
Can you provide more detail on the distinctions you made in this regard, as I am still somewhat confused by the evidence for what you claim is your editorial policy. From outward appearances, I would conclude that the “risks” of editorial deletion are far greater for skeptics than for your supporters. I’m looking for some of that dispassionate neutrality that scientists are so famed for.
You have the chance of making a convert of me, but so far your actions appear to support the characterizations of your more virulent detractors: cheerleaders welcome; skeptics stay home
[Response: we all moderate the comments here, so you can’t expect perfect consistency. I never saw your Landsea post, so I don’t know what was wrong with it. Personally, I think Pielke is wrong about the Landsea affair: see here. As to the risks of deletion, I rather doubt you’re right, but since you don’t see the deleted posts (of course) you can’t possibly know :-) – William]
Peter J. Wetzel says
Two simple questions: How much does hosting this site cost? Who pays for the web hosting of this site? If the answer to the second question is “EMS”, my follow-on question is: Why are you risking tainting the purest intent (or potential) of this site by associating with this organization? Surely 9 gainfully employed climate scientists can support the hosting of a fairly simple web site from personal funds. Were I to be involved in a blog of this sort, I would eagerly volunteer to support my share of the effort with personal funds. What possible motivation would you have to affiliate with *any* interest group, no matter how benign you might perceive the link to be?
I thank you in advance for your response.
[Response:It is not a question of cost, but time. We’d probably have accepted the offer from any organization that was willing to host this, whom we trusted to do a good job with the servers and other such technicalities. This is the opportunity that arose. We are no more “affiliated” with EMS than you are “associated” with Adelphia.net. -eric]
Steve Bloom says
In response to #8, the problem with the WSJ article and the WSJ coverage of climate issues generally isn’t that they’re fuzzy on some of the science (to the extent that even an amateur like me can spot the problems), since that’s a problem they share with most of the media. Rather, it’s that they betray a definite bias by giving way more coverage than most other media to climate skeptics.
Regarding Landsea, his resignation statement contained this odd remark:
“Instead, a scientist with an important role in the IPCC represented himself as a Lead Author for the IPCC has used that position to promulgate to the media and general public his own opinion that the busy 2004 hurricane season was caused by global warming, which is in direct opposition to research written in the field and is counter to conclusions in the TAR.”
Tell me if I’m wrong, but I believe that as of this moment there is essentially no written research in the field regarding the 2004 season (which has only been over for a few months), and the current TAR could not have made any prediction about 2004 since it was written several years before (and in fact is essentially neutral on the matter). It appears from Landsea’s letter that he thinks increased warming will not tend to enhance hurricanes in a meaningful way, and I suppose he can’t be blamed for concluding that there is little likelihood of the IPCC adopting that view (especially with Trenberth in the way). Still, by his own words he convicts himself of the same offense he accuses Trenberth of.
I don’t think it’s on its face unreasonable for Trenberth to point to the 2004 North Atlantic and (the even nastier, although it didn’t get much play in the US media) East Pacific seasons, plus the anomalous hurricane in what I guess we now must call the South Atlantic season, and speculate as to whether there might not be a climate connection and that in any case this is the sort of thing we’re likely to see with increased warming.
[Response: I’ll leave it to others on this site with more knowledge in this area to respond in more detail, but basically I agree with your points. We will at some point post something on the climate/hurricane arguments, but a basic fact is that there is a huge difference between claiming that global warming trends will tend, statistically, to lead to more / larger hurricanes, and attributing specific events in specific years to such causes. In other words, there is a difference between weather and climate! On the IPCC, I can’t find anything in their written work to complain about; they are indeed very neutral on this, as is appropriate given the current state of knowledge. Has the climate change/hurricane connection been overplayed by environmentalists? Probably. But a quick scan of example of such overplay that I have found suggests the overplay is not very extreme. Everything I’ve found uses “could be”, “might be” and other such language. I’ve yet to see any mainstream group claiming certainty on this. -eric]
Bruce Frykman says
Im quite sorry but I really cannot let this go
“[Response: we all moderate the comments here, so you can’t expect perfect consistency. I never saw your Landsea post, so I don’t know what was wrong with it.]”
My comment was a refereence to Landsea’s comments asking for opinion on it and nothing else. So you and I are now in the same state, completely unaware of what was wrong with it.
I’m still quite unclear as to what your motives are in discarding certain comments or opinions. Certainly comments that offend decency or established norms of civillity can be justifiably deleted but I would return the comment to the author with the stated reason for the deletion and save a copy of it for later reference. The editorial process here appears to me to be helter skelter, I should hope that your editors use a more deliberative process in your main occupations as practicioners in scientific endeavor. The reason that this is important to me is that I fear that your editorial process skews the perception of what a cross section of lay people might think about the work you do. In this regard I should think a far greater degree of forbearence towards openness is appropriate on your part. After all, this is merely an opinion forum, and stupid or even hostile comments will reveal themselves as such to the greater audience. Unlike the newspaper editor’s dilema all that is at stake here is disk space, how could that require such vigilent snipping.
In your statement of objectives you claim:
“The discussion here is restricted to scientific topics and will not get involved in any political or economic implications of the science.”
But even in your own self-initiated topic threads you introduce and characterize remarks by mssrs Sen Inhofe, Michael Chichton, and George Will. Are they all climate researchers? I believe that all funded science, no matter the source of the funding, cannot be separated from political influences and you prove it here yourselves, besides your very occupations result from political decisions. Protestations of purity or the lack of it sould bear no weight in the scientific merit of any statement. If something is true, its true no matter how pure or sinister motives may be. This is another plea to open this forum to all civil comments regarding the climate debate. Even those that touch on politicians and works of fiction even as you have seen fit to highlight here yourselves.
[Response:If I might interject. We are scientists, not politicians or literary critics, and so when we have criticised statements by Crichton, Will or Inhofe, they have been criticisms of scientific points made by them. We have not discussed political reasons why perhaps they might have made such statements, or the political consequences of their scientific conclusions. We do believe we can usefully separate the science from politics. For instance, whether the 2004 global mean temperature anomaly places it in the top 4 or bottom 4 years is a fact regardless of any political spin people might care to place on it. This is a fundamental point, and if you don’t see that there is a separation, it might explain why you keep getting deleted. You may be of the opinion that all climate science is merely being done to further our own personal interests and therefore nothing that is said by any of us can be trusted – (though if that were the case, I’d be writing studies on how short, balding, rotund scientists are really the best lovers). Either there is an objective concept called ‘science’ that we can agree on, or there isn’t. If there isn’t, why bother to engage at all? And if there is, respect that there is a line that needs to be drawn. – gavin]
If you’d like to re-send your original Landsea comment, I’d be happy to look at it. I concur with what Gavin said. But I also think it is important that we are not only reasonable, open, and fair, but that we APPEAR to be so. Obviously you are not convinced, so I’m happy to take a look. Be warned though that this is an all volunteer effort, mistakes will get made, and we are not going to be apologetic for them. I’m also not going to make a habit of individuals responses like this, because your thesis that we delete comments unfairly is not very strongly supported by the evidence (there are a lot of comments I have *wanted* to delete, but haven’t!). But we could have made a mistake in your case, since we are human. So.. send along the comment directly to me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Joseph O'Sullivan says
This is more climate change science politics, and part of the larger arena of the politics of environmental laws and regulation. Current environmental regulations were enacted largely as the result of environmental groups harnessing the public’s desire for environmental protection and channeling this public call for action into a political movement. Opponents of environmental regulation want to counter the environmental group’s major stength, it’s public support. The opponents have mounted an aggressive campaign that maligns environmentalists and paints environmental groups as unpopular groups (generally various extremist groups) so they will lose popular support. The opponents of regulation want the very word “environmentalist” and the things it stands for to have a negative connotation in the public mind. Most of this campaign is dishonest and based on lies and slurs.
The misleading characterisation of the RealClimate site as an environmentalist group may very well be intentional, especially since you have questioned some of the science that climate change opponents favor. The environmental regulation opponents have an “if you’re not for us you’re against us” mentality, and if someone is against them the climate change regulation opponents characterise them as environmentalists. The opponents of environmental regulation have attempted to characterise environmental groups as untrustworthy, and if RealClimate is affliated with an environmental group it must therefore also be untrustworthy. It was good that you immediately and publically corrected this mistake and negative spin. I do not think that this will be the last time that you will be subject to a misleading characterisation. The anti-environmental regulation spin machine is pretty relentless.
Starting the RealClimate site was a brave step into the public arena. You will catch some, and maybe alot, of flak from the climate change regulation opponents. You provide accurate scientific information, and sometimes that is not what people want to hear, but it is always what people need to hear.
And the environmentalist groups? Earthjustice (the legal arm of the Sierra Club) has said on their website in the “Climate Change Denial – A Note to Journalists” section: “For the latest and best information on global warming we recommend Realclimate.org a new blog edited by working climate scientists not corporate lobbyists”. I think this endorsement cuts both ways. Environmental groups in the climate change regulation debate rely more on accurate science than on negative spin, and I think this is a validation of Realclimates use of accurate science. However this will drag Realclimate deeper in to the rough-and-tumble politcal world.
Bruce Frykman says
Re Gavins comments.
In respect to Dr Landseas resigination letter I suggest that you open a disscusion thread on it similar to the ones you have for Will, Crichton, Inhofe. Certianly it was equally important in the realm of climate science.
[Response: We considered commenting on Landsea. But there doesn’t really seem to be a lot of science behind this, it doesn’t seem to be terribly important in the realm of science, and none of us (I think) are very familiar with the hurricanes stuff: I’m certainly not. I must correct your “open a disscusion thread”: please don’t mistake RC for a newsgroup – William]
Regarding global mean temperatures I remain skeptical but I am hopeful you can satisfy my skepticism. I maintain that historic temperature records were never collected for the purpose that they are being put to (measuring global mean temperature). They’re in the wrong places to do this and represent only highs and lows and not a fully integrated mean. I thus believe that to this day global mean temperature cannot be measured but only inferred. I am troubled by the implied accuracy for these inferrences.
[Response: You’ve had an answer on this already. If you don’t like the science (refs in the TAR of course) what else can we say? – William]
Regarding the UHIE effect on land based records:
I live in an rural area (Elk River) 45 miles to the north of Minneapolis/StPaul urban center, My brother lives in a rural area (Northfield) almost equal distance to the south. I also have a reasonably accurate temperature gauge in my car. On numerous winter transits between these locations traveling across the metro area I have been astounded at the degree of UHIE and how wide spread it is, particularly on still cold winter nights. What has astounded me is the amount of observed warming (up to 20 degrees F on bitter cold nignts). The second thing that astounded me is how wide reaching it is. I have noticed the beginning steady rise and eventual return to the natural ambient while I was still approaching or leaving the far fringe suburbs on many such crossings.
Here is my dilemma, I am aware that my former residence in Chanhassen MN is the site of a National Weather Service center. This, once country setting, is now hard inside the UHIE in just 30 years. How do you correct it’s records for this period for the quite dramatic UHIE deltas.
I would imagine the ever changing number and size of buildings, the spacing between them, the level of heating within them, the quailty of thermal insulation, the colors of building roofs and exteriors, the amount of paved vs natural surface, insulation effects of accumulated snow on roofs, automotive and truck miles driven, generation plant thermal discharges, etc, etc, etc, all play a part in creating this dramatic UHIE during still winter nights.
How can climate science accuratly quantify all of this data. Please don’t tell me you use population growth, that is far too simple. I do not live as my parents did: with no car, few appliances, in small and tightly compact inner city houses. I can see no method that could possibly offer accurate UHIE “windage” for the once far flung little farm town of Chanhassen MN over the last 30 years.
I visualize these urban heat islands as tiny little bubbles of warmth at the bottom a vast and deep atmospheric ocean that absolutley must be removed from the cobbled up surface record to use them to infer global mean temperature as it relates to greenhouse effect.
Can you try to make me a believer of the proposition that you can.
[Response: I can only offer you the evidence. Firstly although no-one ever likes to be told this) your own personal experiences are just anecdotal evidence. Large scale studies are needed to investigate the effect, and they have been done. But we’ve covered this already in post 43. The Parker paper directly addresses your “bubbles” idea: if the UHI influence was large, then it would be larger on still days as opposed to windy ones, because on windy ones the bubble of warm air would get blown away more readily. But… there is no effect – William]
A free website from the greens would be nice. But if you only switched sides, you could make gobs.
WSJ missed this part of the story.
“…the company [Exxon Mobil], the world’s largest oil and gas concern, has increased donations to Washington-based policy groups that, like Exxon itself, question the human role in global warming and argue that proposed government policies to limit carbon dioxide emissions associated with global warming are too heavy handed.
“Exxon now gives more than $1 million a year to such organizations, which include the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Frontiers of Freedom, the George C. Marshall Institute, the American Council for Capital Formation Center for Policy Research and the American Legislative Exchange Council.
“The organizations are modest in size but have been outspoken in the global warming debate. Exxon has become the single-largest corporate donor to some of the groups, accounting for more than 10 percent of their annual budgets. While a few of the groups say they also receive some money from other oil companies, it is only a small fraction of what they receive from Exxon Mobilâ�¦
“Exxon’s publicly disclosed documents reveal that donations to many of these organizations increased by more than 50 percent from 2000 to 2002.”
“Exxon Backs Groups That Question Global Warming”, Jennifer Lee, New York Times, May 28, 2003
You can bet all WSJ attacks against you or the science were planted by one of these well-funded, Exxon subsidiaries. They are desperate and playing dirty. Don’t pay attention. Just keep delivering the latest science in language guys like me can follow.
Thanks for what you are doing here.
Steven T. Corneliussen says
Comment 12 conflated my request about actually seeing the specific WSJ article in question with the obviously germane broader issue of “WSJ coverage of climate issues generally,” which was of course a part of why anyone cared about the article in question in the first place. Well, today, on the free-access part of the WSJ site, there appears an editorial titled “Hockey Stick on Ice: Politicizing the science of global warming.” It opines about matters that have been discussed at RealClimate, and concludes, “The world is being lobbied to place a huge economic bet–as much as $150 billion a year–on the notion that man-made global warming is real. … Shouldn’t everyone look very carefully, and honestly, at the science before we jump off this particular cliff?” Anyone interested in the climate-science attitude of this powerfully influential newspaper’s editors will want to read this editorial at
http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110006314 . I hope RealClimate will consider responding in some way to this issue of politics that is also an issue of science.
Jeffrey Davis says
The world is being lobbied to place a huge economic bet–as much as $150 billion a year–on the notion that man-made global warming is real. …
I hadn’t realized the price tag was that small.
Dale E. Moore says
Keep all the comments and post them. Use software like http://SlashDot.Org/ to rank them. Stop wasting your time explaining why you deleted something. Don’t delete anything.
[Response: There is room for our comment policy to evolve. We may have a loftier aim that slashdot (I say may, because I don’t know what their aim is). Ours is for a site dedicated to discussion and explanation of the science of climate change. Unless and until we upgrade the software (I think this is not in prospect) then comments that are abusive, spam, wildly off topic, deliberately designed to deceive, or in some other way undesirable, will continue to be deleted. If your comment is deleted, you may or may not get an email telling you why – William]
Steve Bloom says
It’s funny how the WSJ editorial says nothing about the potential consequences of placing a losing bet against climate change. Let’s try this for a gambling metaphor: We’re playing roulette, and have placed a very large bet (in the range of $trillions) on black. We still have time to take that bet back and place a much smaller one (let’s assume it’s $150 billion) on red. Just as the time for making the decision arrives, we find out that the wheel is rigged to favor red. What do we do? As of now, it looks to me as if we pretend that a) the wheel isn’t really rigged and b) even if it is rigged, we have a lot more time to switch than is actually the case. Fantasizing about how much we’d make if only we could win that black bet doesn’t seem to help our thought processes much.
Antonio Regalado says
The WSJ article being discussed is available free via the wsj.com website.
Bruce Frykman says
“It’s funny how the WSJ editorial says nothing about the potential consequences of placing a losing bet against climate change. Let’s try this for a gambling metaphor: We’re playing roulette, and have placed a very large bet (in the range of $trillions) on black. We still have time to take that bet back and place a much smaller one (let’s assume it’s $150 billion) on red.”
To extend the metaphor we must also consider the possibility of the ball dropping in the green slot making both red and black losing bets as the climate shifts back towards its predominat ice age condition.
And finally, if I pay for the loss of my wager, then at least let me place my bet of my own free volition.
Jeffrey, excellent joke.
Thank you, Climate Science volunteers, for your patience.
We need you to teach us.
Realclimate.org will be known more and more by environmental groups in the near future. I hope so.
All the Best
Steve Bloom says
Thanks to Joseph O’Sullivan for posting the NRDC page with so many recent climate change papers linked. It’s so hard to find these papers when the system for publishing them is such a mish-mosh.
In any case, right near the top was a recent paper http://www.gfdl.noaa.gov/reference/bibliography/2004/tk0401.pdf
that gives Trenberth’s comments (over which Landsea quit the IPCC process) quite a bit more weight. The authors seemed to take more than the ordinary care in hedging their conclusions, but the upshot appears to be that they think cyclones are intensifying now, albeit at a slow pace. They add that this slow pace currently makes the trend undetectable due to inadequate long-term records and the considerable variance in cyclone activity from season to season. They essentially dismiss the idea that increasing temperature will enhance vertical wind shear so as to retard cyclone formation, which is what I had understood to be the main argument against more cyclone activity. There was also an almost offhand reference at the end to a recent trend in tropical surface energy that might cause North Atlantic basin activity to pick up the pace. Their paper pre-dated the peculiar 2004 season.
I find it fascinating that Landsea’s resignation letter said nothing about this paper (authored, perhaps significantly, by two of Trenberth’s NOAA colleagues), but rather referred to a yet-unpublished paper of his own that apparently draws a contradictory conclusion. Maybe the NOAA paper has created some peer review process problems for him.
[It was mentioned somewhere recently on RC that Landsea is now co-authoring a (different, presumably) paper with Michaels. I was curious about Michaels, and went to his web site to have a look. A recent video of him being interviewed by Brit Hume of Fox News had Michaels asserting that while global warming was real we could expect the average rate of temperature increase over the last century to remain flat over the next century, and so no big deal. At the end, Hume suggested that the real problem was those alarmist enviros and Michaels readily agreed. I guess Landsea’s in good company.]
I look forward to the RealClimate analysis of the cyclone issue.
kyan gadac says
This thread is quite bizarre. Why is ‘being affiliated with an environmental organisation’ an offence? Surely this sounds like McCarthyism? Why can’t you be proud to be affiliated with an environmental organisation? Apologising and explaining that your not really associated, is playing into their hands. Next thing you know you’ll be hauled up by HUAC’s descendant and asked to expose your colleagues who are members of the Sierra Club. Can’t you see that you are pandering to fascism here?
Again what is wrong with being associated with an environmental group? I think you need to ask yourself about the courage of your convictions if you give way to apologetics the moment the WSJ finds you guilty by association.
[Response: We aren’t apologizing for anything. But that is beside the point. The point is that we are not so affiliated. We are simply correcting an error on the part of the WSJ, because we know some folks would jump to the conclusions that our science was somehow colored by environmental groups’ agendas, if we were so affiliated.]
Joseph O'Sullivan says
It’s about politics.
RealClimate is trying to provide the public accurate scientific information about climate change. RealClimate is not a political advocacy group. I think denying that they are an environmental group or affiliated with one is a wise move. If realclimate was seen as having a political bias the science could be seen as biased, and Realclimate would lose credibility with the public.
Environment groups are advocacy/litigation/lobbying groups. There is nothing wrong with being politically active. In the history of environmental politics environmental groups have used science more accurately then their opponents. That is one of the reasons they have been successful.
There is now an aggressive public relations campaign against environmentalists. Avoiding this campaign is the best reason for Realclimate to deny affiliation with environmental groups. The opponents of environmentalists are trying to make the word “environmentalist” have a “connotation of extremism”. The goal is to reduce public support for environmentalists because public support is the basis for the success of environmental groups. There was an article in the New York Times about this campaign. It is at: http://www.luntzspeak.com/graphics/NewYorkTimes.NewsStory.pdf
This type of campaign has been used before. Think of how the word “liberal” is used. It is considered a bad thing to be liberal, and politicians now make it a point to deny being liberal.