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New Google search function

Filed under: — group @ 24 October 2006

It can be easy to find climate science information on the web, but that information ranges from the excellent to the atrocious – and it can often be hard to tell them apart without some prior expertise. Wouldn’t it be great if someone could vet the information beforehand so that you had some confidence that it wasn’t completely bogus? Well, you need wait no longer!

Some of you may have already noticed that we have updated our search facility to use a new service from Google Co-op which is being launched today. The idea is that the search is restricted to domains and pages that have passed some kind of quality control. RealClimate is one of the demo sites of the new technology and we have started off with a selection of sites (IPCC, goverment labs, research institutes etc. – as well as RealClimate itself of course!) that we know provide quality information about climate science. As we get used to this service, we will be adding sites and pages that we feel are up to the mark. Suggestions for sites that we might not yet have found or have overlooked, will of course be welcome.

Eventually, we hope to have a service that could be an essential resource for the interested public, journalists, and possibly even scientists, that would give a higher quality level of information than is possible now. Let us know if this ends up being useful to you and if you have any suggestions for improving the service.

78 Responses to “New Google search function”

  1. 51
    lars says:


    Celebs Who Claim They’re Green but Guzzle Gas
    Foreign Secretary calls for ‘global warming’ tax on holidaymakers'global+warming'+tax+on+holidaymakers/
    Gore scoffs at Reichert’s stance on global warming

  2. 52
    Royce Fontenot says:

    Overall I think it’s a good idea. I agree with some of the early comments that the sites need to not be too filtered. Personally, since I have an academic background in climatology, I tend look for stuff in the peer-reviewed journals only and shy away from blog type web sites (RC is the exception!). Plus, I no longer have access to the “Web of Science”, so the RC search function seems to be pretty handy. (For those who don’t know…Web of Science is a search engine available at many universities and libraries for searching academic journals.)

    To test the “fairness” of the search engine and selected sites…I put in “Patrick J. Michaels” and “Geophysical Research Letters”. I got the result I was looking for, so I’m happy that it’s not cherry picked but QC’ed. (Note…not implying any endorsement of Dr Michaels research…just an example! )

    Good job guys!

  3. 53
    Tas says:

    Re #49 – It is easy to restrict your search:

    As an example, try:
    solar cosmic rays

    If the providers of this website want to make it really easy they could have two search boxes though –
    “The internet – filtered”, and
    “This site”
    This is actually a good idea. A fair assumption on most websites is that the local “search” applies to this site. It also advertises that the overall search of the internet is filtered.

  4. 54
    Pat Neuman says:

    People need to be passionate about global warming. This is not research it’s our world.

    We must act strongly to restrict ourselves in travel, having kids and buying products, to live with less and let others know they must do the same. Google searches will not give us the answers, we already know what they are.

  5. 55
    BPH Sacto says:

    The beauty of search engines is that the user has the comfort of knowing that the information found is not filtered the way it is “normally” received through all other media (Network TV, Cable, Print, Radio, etc.)

    I use a search engine when I don’t want to be manipulated.

    “We don’t need no thought control.” -Pink Floyd

  6. 56
    Gar Lipow says:

    For people who wanted searches that are not too filtered:

    Regular Google, and Google scholar are still right where you left them not to mention all the other search engines. The point of RC creating a filtered engine is to limit results to sites RC thinks have valid or useful information. You don’t want RC filtering, don’t use their filtered search engine.

    BTW, if you want to search ONLY RC with plain old google – just follow your search terms with “”.

    For example to search for “water vapor” on RC, you would type

    “water vapor” in the google search box (omitting the quotes).

    You could search for the exact phrase “water vapor” by putting quotes around it.

  7. 57
    Ilkka Nissilä says:

    Search engines do commonly apply selection criteria – otherwise they would all result in the same hits, right? Google has, if they choose to apply it, immense power over information in the world. I think it’s scary that everyone uses it.

    Allthough the intention is good, I don’t think including a search engine that searches outside the RC site is that great an idea. At least it should default to searches only within RC.

    Papers are reviewed using a certain procedure. A stamp on a web site is IMO not a great idea because the content may change and thus the stamp would be continuously re-evaluated to reflect the current contents of the site. Also, who evaluates the sites? Are they independent of the organizers of RC?

  8. 58
    Normand Chevrier says:

    Without a doubt Simon Weart’s web site at is great. He is the author of the Discovery of Global Warming (Harvard University press). Weart is a physicist and a historian. His book is a very good introduction to this subject.

    This is a good initiative on your (RC) part. For those who disagree with the filtering process, let me just say this: we don’t have any time to waste with “opinions” that are not scientifically based. We need to hear from the experts not amateurs.

  9. 59
    Henk Lankamp says:

    Re #43

    Same for me. Perhaps the new search doesn’t work outside the US?

  10. 60
    Daniel says:

    Seems a good idea as its not all about making money, you got to think about the user and helping them by giving a more targed search which is better than searching all of google and getting sites thats not what your looking for.

  11. 61
    Pat Neuman says:

    Re: 54 Standoff with Police Occurs at NOAA Headquarters

    The Ladders, Then and Now, and Abbie and Ellie

    On Monday I was arrested after being perched with Paul Burman for four hours on a foot and a half wide ledge about 25 feet up over the
    main entrance to NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, in Silver Spring, Md. We had unfurled a banner which said, “Bush: Let NOAA Tell the Truth.” This was a reference to the actions since 2001 of Bush-appointed NOAA Administrator Conrad Lautenbacher and his political proteges. They have been consistently
    towing the Bush/Cheney line of denying the seriousness of global heating and suppressing NOAA scientists whose research shows otherwise.

    As I said in a statement distributed on Monday, “we must act to preserve our threatened environment, we must provide hope to our children and grandchildren and we must do our duty as American citizens. Those of us who understand the depth of the crisis we are
    entering must face our fears and take action commensurate with that understanding.”

    (More information on this action and the issues can be found at .)

    It was hard,

    the first time,

    climbing 25 feet

    up our


    32-foot extension ladder,

    practicing behind

    the CCAN building

    the Friday before

    the Monday action.

    Before this action

    I had a fear of heights,

    perhaps the result

    of falling from a pear tree

    as a kid,

    hitting my head

    on a ladderâ??

    on a ladderâ??

    knocked out unconscious,

    coming to

    on my couch at home

    with my dear motherâ??

    My late mother,

    my mother who loved me,

    who sacrificed for me,

    who gave me an example

    of what Micah meant

    when he said,

    “And what does God

    require of you

    but to do justice,

    and to love kindness,

    and to walk humbly with your God.”

    –With my dear mother

    there to take me

    to the hospital

    for an overnight stay

    for my one day’s concussion.

    I’ve been afraid

    of high places

    ever since.

    So that first time,

    practicing on the ladder,

    I needed another emotion

    to overcome,

    or at least neutralize,

    that fear.

    And so,

    as I climbed up

    and climbed down

    those 25 feet,

    again and again and again,

    I thought of Abbie,

    my four year old niece,

    and I thought of Ellie,

    her 1 ½ year old sister,

    whom I spent a weekend with

    two months ago,

    a wonderful time watching,

    playing and laughing with,

    thanks to my father

    who organized

    a weekend lakeside reunion

    for his three children

    and their families.

    But their world is threatened.

    It is an open question,

    at best,

    if they will have a future

    worth living for,

    worth living in.

    I believe this deeply.

    And so I climbed,

    rung by rung, over and over,

    until my fear

    was lessened

    so that,

    on Monday morning,

    as the skies lightened,

    and the hour arrived,

    I was ready to ascend

    to the NOAA ledge.

    And for four hours

    I felt not scared

    but liberatedâ??

    almost at home,

    where I should be,

    with brother Paul Burman,

    as underneath us,

    and with news helicopters flying overhead,

    the drama unfolded.

    Where I should be,

    where others should be,


    if we are to prevent

    looming climate catastrophe,

    If we are to create

    a new and hopeful world.

    I believe such a world is possible.

    And we cannot let our fears

    keep us from doing

    what is necessaryâ??

    whatever is necessaryâ??

    to get to it.

    Abbie and Ellie,

    Children everywhere,

    Future generations

    Need us now.


  12. 62
    Hank Roberts says:

    Re Grant’s question and Gavin’s explanation in the earlier comment at

    11:00 am

    — that’s one way to refer to previous postings avoiding the unreliable and changing ‘posting number’ problem.
    When I point to that and ‘copy link’ and paste it in, it looks like this, cumbersome:
    but (cut and paste it from ‘view source’) it looks like this in the original:

    11:00 am

    That’s a lasting way to point to something — either click the timestamp, “copy link” and paste that back in, or notice the timestamp, do ‘view source’ and find that exact time, and copy and paste _that_ in. Either works.

    Why? Because, er, it’s an alternative to madness (wry grin). Mine, anyhow. Or any later reader’s ….
    One of the oddest things about the climate change sites is the way response numbers get to be wrong after people discuss them. The reasons are diffferent, the results are different, the effect is equally disabling.

    — climateaudit’s: postings get deleted after they’re made, so you can find yourself at response 200 reading a reference to a previous posting where someone says “in response 205, soandso said …” (because five people’s postings have been deleted since and the topic numbers changed by subtraction).
    — realclimate’s, where a reference to ‘response 20’ may now refer to content in someone’s posting renumbered 25 because postings had been held in the queue that were subsequently approved and inserted in timestammp order, and all the following response numbers changed by addition.

    Editors have to make editorial choices, fine — but having the comment numbers change after the fact as a result is a disastrous result in both approaches.

    It’s a babel effect, it means subsequent readers will have trouble following any conversation a few weeks or months later.

  13. 63

    A search on “solar conveyor cycle prediction” did not turn up the site.

    On a separate note, Stefan, the IPCC reports are not peer reviewed (rigorously or otherwise), the authors/editors solicit comments from from experts and governments, but are free to ignore them. Their reports should be included in the search, but lets not mischaracterize their nature.

  14. 64
    Susan says:

    Like many of the “featured examples” linked at Google Co-op, you do not display the “Google Custom Search” graphic in your search box. According to Google’s Terms of Service (2.3 Attribution), it is supposed to be there. Do you have a separate TOS agreement that allows you to take it out? Nobody has provided a sufficient answer to this contradiction on the Google Co-op group board.

  15. 65
    Eli Rabett says:

    Is there a list of the allowed sources anywhere (there should be)

  16. 66
    Hank Roberts says:

    One thought — if you aren’t picking up postings made by Dr. Judith Curry during the period when she was posting at Climate Audit, then the search engine’s failing badly. She, I think, has quit posting there now. She did a very good job of presenting a scientific view of the issues discussed.
    I don’t know if that material is preserved anywhere else, or if CA’s editors will leave it available to be read permanently; they delete a lot after a while.

    It’d be a serious loss if her postings aren’t found and shown to people looking for good science writing in this area.

    I can’t evaluate anyone else’s postings there, but don’t lose Dr. Curry’s by omitting that site.
    There has to be a way to evaluate information by its author or content or item by item, rather than by website owner. Please.

  17. 67
    John Norris says:

    re: [Response:It’s not cherry picking, but a kind of quality rubber stamp. Here you can be fairly safe that the contents have some quality, but you can always use other search engines if you want to a wider search. -rasmus]

    The intent obviously is to direct readers of this website, to search websites trusted by the authors of RealClimate. It is undeniably censorship, albeit on a small scale. You can say that that is good, or necessary, but the ultimate result of censorship is always reduced visibility of critique. I think that that reduces the credibility of your website. But it is a free internet and if that is the unintended consequence you are willing to trade for, then go right ahead.

    [Response: The intent obviously is to direct readers of this website, to search websites trusted by the authors of RealClimate. Yes, thats exactly the point. If you want to search without us, use google direct, you know where it is. We are offering a value-added service by limiting the search – William]

  18. 68
    Eli Rabett says:

    John Norris’ post implies that a bibliography is censorship if it is not complete

  19. 69
    garhane says:

    I personally have developed a sort of negative wish list. Things I do not want to see after quite a bit of exposure to the like: anything by the clowns at the corporate supported outfits; a certain Pielke; the Tim Ball show; almost anyone who is found contesting with the Deltoid author; the mountains out of molehills continually contrived by the Bobsey twins and their sycophants. I have no idea what sort of filter would stop all that, but I am in favor, for sure.

  20. 70
    Glen Barry says:

    So the Stern Report would not be worthy of inclusion in the search engine because it is not scientific? What of economics, policy and advocacy? Do they have any role in “RealClimate”? Sadly, many scientists think that doing something about climate change is less important than studying it.

    [Response:Sure it would. But there is an inevitable lag in adding topical stuff. -gavin]

    [Response:It is also worth pointing out that we currently list a number of other sites that do deal with economics, policy, etc. in our ‘blogroll’. Many of these sites have already provided extensive discussions of the ‘Stern Report’. It may take time for us to fully incorporate these and other such sites into our search option. -mike]

  21. 71
    Glen Barry says:

    Gavin and Mike,
    Thank you for your responses. My point was more broad than the ‘Stern Report’ being included in your search engine. It is a critique of what I consider RealClimate’s usually sterling efforts. Namely, that in deciding what is “scientific” and “credible” in the climate change debate that you not exclude those developing policy and advocacy strategies based upon sound science. Clearly we need to do more than study the issue and translate this into scientifically based solutions. My specific concern is that your search engine’s approach differs markedly from Climate Ark’s at and I think we offer a much more useful set of search results. We look forward to the competition in climate search and perhaps future collaboration as well. But not at the expense of considering and promoting solutions to global heating.
    Warm regards,
    Dr. Glen Barry

  22. 72
    Peter Jackson says:

    I suggest, communicating science is the issue here, we need better ways of informing other scientists and society.

    What we know we know: Past climate has changed abruptly
    What we know we don’t know: How earth’s climate will react to increases in CO2 above present levels.
    what we don’t know we don’t know: an unknown feedback?
    what we don’t know we know: the up to date big picture.

    It strikes me, funding should be set aside to encourage scientists to publish where they think their science is at, right now, in forms a wide range of scientists and society can understand, instead of concentrating and being judged on their own specialist research.

    As we are witnessing our science is of little use, unless we can communicate it to society as a whole.

    a geologist’s view

  23. 73
    Hank Roberts says:

    Am I doing this right?

    I type “triana” in the Search box at the top of the page — nothing found.

    I type +realclimate +triana in a regular Google search and it finds the comments here mentioning that not-yet-launched satellite.

    [Response: Try again. It works for me (the realclimate discussion is about halfway down. -gavin]

  24. 74
    Hank Roberts says:

    Gavin, this may be a bug in Firefox 2.0/OSX.–
    — Turning popups on doesn’t help — I get a blank page with the sidebar, but no search result.
    — Looking at ViewSource, no search result.
    I’ll report it as a page Firefox doesn’t handle and see if they come up with anything.

    [Response: It uses javascript to fill in the results, so check out the ‘Javascript’ console (under Tools) to see if you got an error. – gavin]

  25. 75
    Hank Roberts says:

    Yep, works as it should using Firefox under Windows.
    Dang. OSXed again …

  26. 76
    Daniel Bear says:

    Iam a spiritual man of the Chewampa tribe of central Australia with a great tradition of caring for the spirit of this Earth as we are one in the same. What continually surprises me are members of Earth’s society pretending to understand the spirit and actions of our mother planet. When will you scientists realise that your modern day science is flawed. You observe without seeing and you define with out knowing. your science has become a religion to you,except even the world’s religions have not had to fall on their own swords as much as science. You are proven wrong over and over again yet you think that analysis by disection and not by our way of proven intuition will bring you to the table of all knowing. How mis guided you all are!!!And how sorry I feel for the children that listen to you. You and your science have raped this land and have potentially murdered our spiritual future while your male ego driven attitudes blunder their way back to the dark ages. Our people world wide have warned you all of what is coming! You have disturbed ancient energy lines on the land and within our oceans and for that the serpent of life is restless and consequences of such is now inevitable. Our people have survived on this plain of existance for eternity,for we are one with spirit in which you are attempting to tame. Science is an ancient tradition, of which you and your collegues a mere novices. Be brave, be honest admit your uncertaintity for your advice will cost many their lives.

  27. 77

    Re “Iam a spiritual man of the Chewampa tribe of central Australia with a great tradition of caring for the spirit of this Earth as we are one in the same.”

    Somehow I don’t think Australians would make the illiterate mistake of thinking “one and the same” is “one in the same.” I’ve only seen that particular mistake from Americans. The later reference to “male ego driven attitudes” is not very likely either, as Australian aborigines have a very clear division of labor by sex, and the males certainly consider themselves superior to the females (and likely vice versa). In short, I think you’re a fraud.

  28. 78
    Hank Roberts says:

    Perhaps they simply haven’t been discovered yet.

    I found mentions of a Steiff toy ‘Daniel Bear’ and a Daniel Bear of Australian Prime TV.