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Scientists getting organized to help readers sort fact from fiction in climate change media coverage

Filed under: — rasmus @ 24 May 2016

Guest post by Emmanuel Vincent

While 2016 is on track to easily surpass 2015 as the warmest year on record, some headlines, in otherwise prestigious news outlets, are still claiming that “2015 Was Not Even Close To Hottest Year On Record” (Forbes, Jan 2016) or that the “Planet is not overheating…” (The Times of London, Feb 2016). Media misrepresentation confuses the public and prevents our policy makers from developing a well-informed perspective, and making evidence-based decisions.

Professor Lord Krebs recently argued in an opinion piece in The Conversation that “accurate reporting of science matters” and that it is part of scientists’ professional duty to “challenge poor media reporting on climate change”. He concluded that “if enough [scientists] do so regularly, [science reporting] will improve – to the benefit of scientists, the public and indeed journalism itself.”

This is precisely what a new project called Climate Feedback is doing: giving hundreds of scientists around the world the opportunity to not only challenge unscientific reporting of climate change, but also to highlight and support accurate science journalism.

The project uses a new online annotation platform, called Hypothesis, which allows scientists to apply “peer review”-inspired analyses to influential climate change stories in the media. The annotation tool allows scientists to analyze each piece collectively; scientists’ fact-check are layered directly onto the original texts so that readers can see the scientists’ sentence by sentence critique right next to the article (see figure below).

Scientists contributing to these “feedbacks” are also invited to provide an overall credibility assessment of the article in the form of a “5-star” rating (ranging from -2 for ‘Very low’ to +2 for ‘Very high’). The rating measures the accuracy of facts, the logic of the reasoning and the objectivity of the piece, and enables readers to know right away whether what they are reading is consistent with current science.

cliamtefeedback1
An example of Climate Feedback in action. Scientists’ comments (and ratings) appear as a layer over the article. Text annotated with Hypothesis is highlighted in yellow in the web browser and scientists’ comments appear in a sidebar next to the article. Click here to see it live.

For an example of how it works, see how 14 scientists recently analyzed a piece published by Bjorn Lomborg in The Telegraph and rated its overall scientific credibility to be “low to very low”. Articles like this one are particularly misleading because they sound reasonable and scientific at first glance, due to the author’s reference of scientific studies. But when scientists –some of whom actually wrote the articles cited– were invited to provide feedback, they explained that the author had misrepresented scientific research to reach unsupported conclusions.

By contrast Climate Feedback also highlighted insightful reporting on climate change. For instance, 7 scientists gave “high to very high” credibility rating to a New York Times article by Justin Gillis on sea level rise; sea-level expert Prof. A Dutton concluded “This article is an accurate and insightful summary of the recently published research on this topic. Justin Gillis has a strong background in this topic which comes across through his careful language and nuanced understanding of the issues.

Beyond informing readers, Climate Feedback provides feedback to journalists, contributors and editors about scientists’ findings, thus pointing a way forward for more accurate science reporting. This approach has already improved journalistic standards; for instance, The Telegraph issued a public correction after scientists reviewed an article claiming that an ice age was on its way in the 2030s.

Climate Feedback’s analyses can also serve as a reference for those who want to uncover media misinformation, as members of the House of Lords did last month in their letter to The Times of London asking the newspaper’s editor to report the reality of climate change more accurately.

climatefeedback2
Mockup of Climate Feedback’s “Scientific Trust Tracker”

Climate Feedback recently proposed to create a “Scientific Trust Tracker” that would
aggregate all the scientists’ ratings and comments attached to a given news source. This would serve as a reference to inform the public about a source’s past track record, and whether they should be especially skeptical when reading climate news from sources that have a track record of publishing unsupported or misleading articles.

While the project has been more of an experiment up until now, we now plan to scale up and are currently raising funds from the public to hire a Scientific Editor who will coordinate articles’ evaluation on a regular basis. The campaign has already raised more than 85% of its initial $30k goal. If you wish to Stand with Science, you can support this initiative here: https://igg.me/at/Stand-with-Science

137 Responses to “Scientists getting organized to help readers sort fact from fiction in climate change media coverage”

  1. 51
    Victor says:

    #46 gmb92 “Taylor did not make any real claims about the satellite vs surface record reliability until an update to the article he made on Jan. 25, after the Climate Feedback article was written,”

    True enough. But the updated version is included at the Climate Feedback site, so the reviewers certainly had an opportunity to respond.

    And there is in fact a response, from Victor Venema:

    “One wonders if James Taylor has his mansion 4 km up in the air, which is where this satellite estimate comes from. It is a pity that the author does not indicate why this temperature should be the arbiter of everything, while it has no impact on human society.” (Oddly this response to a passage from the updated segment is dated Jan. 20, so I’m a bit confused as to the timing.)

    Venema’s response strikes me as lame. The issue in this case is not the impact of the warming on human life, but the accuracy of the evidence for warming, which Venema does not address. In any case, if the satellite evidence is unreliable, then I wonder why so many tax dollars are being expended on this methodology. Why not save all that money and just scrap it in favor of the land-based measurements?

    As I see it, both land-based and satellite-based measures are important, and neither can be ignored. If one set is not consistent with the other, that that tells us something. You can’t just dismiss it because you don’t like what it’s telling you. And that goes for Taylor as well as his critics.

    By the way, if you go to the Skeptical Science trend calculator (https://www.skepticalscience.com/trend.php), you’ll see that almost all the data sources show 2015 as no warmer(usually cooler) than 1998. The only significant exception is Karl 2015, which seems the odd man out.

    I read the Scott Johnson article you linked to. What I got out of it, reading between the lines, was the extreme complexity and uncertainty associated with all these measurement attempts. So many factors are involved that anyone seeking to revise any of these results in either direction has a huge smorgasboard of factors to choose from, which makes the trap of confirmation bias all too easy to fall into. I’m not claiming that Karl et al. were engaged in some sort of fraud. But I do think any such revision involving so many complicated and questionable factors has to be supported by a considerable amount of additional research.

    On the contrary, what’s happened in the climate science community is that this result has been accepted without much question, and obviously its broad acceptance is due to the fact that it’s telling “warmists” what they want to hear. I don’t see fraud in the paper itself, but I do see an unseemly rush to uncritically accept what for now must be regarded as highly questionable results. Replication is an important aspect of the scientific method and I think it will be a long time before we know with any degree of confidence what to make of the Karl revisions. The problem I see at present is that they appear inconsistent with just about all the other data sources.

  2. 52
    Titus says:

    Ray Ladbury @45.
    We totally agree on informed opinions.
    On your point of ‘equal opinions’ who’s the judge?

  3. 53
    gregor schield says:

    once again, are so calles agw alarmism skeptical scientist in this climate Feedback Procedere involved too? Or is it jeust the same Group, calling us, to believ their unreflected opinions?

  4. 54
    Vendicar Decarian says:

    39 – “Until they are old enough to drop out of school, we can get most children to at least attend.”

    I encountered a 10 year old yesterday who couldn’t tell if the change he held in his hand added to 3 dollars.

    At first I was sympathetic and tried to show him how to add it up. I asked what was 5 plus 25, his answer was 3? Then 5? Then 7?

    There was no effort. Just random numbers, with the presumption that someone else would do it for him.

    I walked away.

    Denialists generally come from the same breed. They don’t exist in the reality based community.

    They exist in a bubble, with it’s own world view that generally contains angels, demons, global scientific conspiracies, and a host of other irrational ideas that they use to defend the “reality” of their world view.

    Due to group reinforcement, they can not be educated, because they know they are right and ignore factual reality.

    The best you can do is alter the view of some people who exist on the margin, and wait for the others to die out.

  5. 55
    Vendicar Decarian says:

    47 – “We have to educate the electorate we have; there isn’t time to build another one.”

    Do you think you will have much chance to “educate the electorate” before the coming election?

    Do you think that Trump supporters are capable of being educated? Have former Bush supporters been educated? How about former Reagan supporters?

    You are going to have to endure the Tea Baggers as long as there are tea baggers, and given their advanced age, that will be about another decade, provided that yoots don’t get indoctrinated.

    This is the reality of the situation.

    It isn’t scientific, and it is pretty bad news, but this is what happens when 40 years of Republican ideology is not adequately challenged.

  6. 56

    “Do you think you will have much chance to “educate the electorate” before the coming election?”

    Doing my darndest.

    http://hubpages.com/literature/Elizabeth-Kolberts-The-Sixth-Extinction-A-Summary-Review
    http://hubpages.com/politics/Flame-In-Darkness-The-Paris-Accord
    http://hubpages.com/politics/Climate-Change-Predictions-How-Accurate-Are-They-Really
    http://hubpages.com/politics/How-Do-We-Know-That-Global-Warming-Is-Affecting-Our-World

    “It isn’t scientific, and it is pretty bad news, but this is what happens when 40 years of Republican ideology is not adequately challenged.”

    Yep. They’ve definitely moved the needle away from acceptance of reality.

  7. 57
    zebra says:

    @ BPL 49,

    Sounds reasonable, but still wrong.

    What we need is for K-12 (starting somewhere age appropriate) to inculcate logic and scientific/verbal and quantitative/statistical reasoning as a normative value, as the standard proper response to questions, not make it a course or a topic.

    Analytic thinking can be applied to everything; it can happen in art and music classes or sports; you can have kids read the paper and do the equivalent of what the OP is about– you don’t have to be a specialist to recognize how much of what is written is nonsensical.

    But you do need teachers who have had a sound liberal arts education themselves.

    And, for Vendicar and others, you have to stop with the whining about people who can’t do mental arithmetic or remember when some battle was fought or recite the periodic table. There’s an app for that.

  8. 58
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Titus: “On your point of ‘equal opinions’ who’s the judge?”

    Those who do the work of trying to understand the subject matter–namely those who publish in peer-reviewed journals. The reason for this is simple: They will have the best ideas on which ideas, techniques and theories are most useful in understanding the subject. Would you dispute that?

  9. 59
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Weaktor,
    The satellite record is less reliable than the surface instrument record for the simple reason that the satellites do not measure temperature, and turning the measurements into a temperature record is a difficult proposition. The reason researchers persist in doing so (and getting SMALL amounts of gummint money to do so) is because the satellites can make measurements where there are no thermometers.

    The evidence that the satellites have a problem derive from the fact that their product diverges not just from the surface record, but also from the radiosondes and from each other. Tamino, the Rabbett, And Then There’s Physics and others have treated this problem in some detail.

  10. 60
    Thomas says:

    51 Victor says: “… which makes the trap of confirmation bias all too easy to fall into.” and
    “On the contrary, what’s happened in the climate science community is that this result has been accepted without much question, and obviously its broad acceptance is due to the fact that it’s telling “warmists” what they want to hear.”

    Idiocy writ large.

  11. 61
    Thomas says:

    52 Titus says: “On your point of ‘equal opinions’ who’s the judge?”

    Collective Scientific Rigor Over Time. Not Titus, not Victor, and not gregor schield either.

  12. 62
    Jon Kirwan says:

    @52 by Titus (responding to: Ray Ladbury @45.)
    “We totally agree on informed opinions. On your point of ‘equal opinions’ who’s the judge?”

    Had I written “Equally being a snowflake doesn’t mean snowflakes are equal,” I just can’t imagine you’d have then thought to inquire, “Who’s the judge about snowflakes being equal?”

    It simply says that snowflakes are different from each other, despite all being snowflakes. It doesn’t state anything else.

    Similarly, “an equal right to an opinion isn’t a right to an equal opinion,” is equally pristine and easily understood. Your question doesn’t arise.

    What’s wonderful about it is that it is memorable and everyone can recognize its truth and perhaps use it as a reminder to themselves and to others.

  13. 63

    Victor, #51:

    Er, no, Karl is not the only data that shows 2015 as warmer than 1998:

    http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/tabledata_v3/GLB.Ts+dSST.txt

    In GISTEMP, the calendar year numbers in order of highest anomaly are:

    2015: 0.87
    2014: 0.75
    2010: 0.72
    2005: 0.69
    2007 & 2013: 0.66
    2009: 0.65
    2006 & 2012: 0.64
    1998 & 2002: 0.63

    So, on the GISTEMP list, 1998 is in a tie for 10th-warmest, 0.24 C behind 2015.

    The picture is similar for HADCRUT:

    https://blog.metoffice.gov.uk/2015/11/25/2015-likely-to-be-the-warmest-on-record/

    Not sure what you thought you saw at SkS, but apparently a second look would be warranted.

  14. 64
    Victor says:

    Sorry if this is off topic, but . . . I recently read a very persuasive and disturbing essay by Naomi Klein regarding the fossil fuel industry: “Let Them Drown” (http://www.lrb.co.uk/v38/n11/naomi-klein/let-them-drown). I won’t get into the details here, but basically she very systematically reveals the truly disastrous effects just about all the companies extracting such fuels have had on human life from the very beginning of the Industrial Revolution until now. She refers to both the exploitation of workers forced by necessity to take dangerous and depressing jobs and also to what she very aptly calls “sacrificial zones,” those places where all sorts of natural and human values have been sacrificed for the profit of these voracious and largely uncontrolled monsters (aka “companies.”) which have desecrated so many beautiful and inspring regions of the Earth in search of profit.

    While, as everyone here knows very well, I cannot accept Ms. Klein’s extreme views on the matter of climate change, that’s probably the only issue on which we disagree. I fully share her critique of the fossil fuel industry as a truly evil force, especially over the last 100 years or so. I have no idea what our world would be like today if it weren’t for the rapid and rabid development of these fuels. Some like to say our civilization and all the amenities that go with it depend on them. Well, that may be true for the relatively small group of affluent individuals living mostly in the first world. But for the bulk of humanity I don’t really see any benefit. For this reason, I am all for the development of alternative, clean and safe (i.e., non-nuclear) energy sources, as surprising as that may sound to some.

    Klein’s critique is very powerful and very moving and I urge everyone here to read it carefully.

  15. 65
    Digby Scorgie says:

    gregor schield @53

    Thank you, gregor. Your tenuous grasp of both language and science further reinforces my contention that, collectively, humans behave like a mindless organism and as such are utterly undeserving of the appellation “Homo Sapiens”. In this Age of Stupid, dominated by the illiterate and innumerate gregors and victors of society, it is obvious that a change to “Homo Stultus” would result in a far better match with reality.

  16. 66
    Vendicar Decarian says:

    49 -“Just one course in formal logic and one in statistical analysis should do it.”

    Don’t you think that they are going to have to be taught how to add and subtract first?

    Serious question. Most of the Denialists I find on line can’t.

  17. 67
    Vendicar Decarian says:

    57 -“you have to stop with the whining about people who can’t do mental arithmetic or remember when some battle was fought or recite the periodic table.”

    If you don’t have basic numerical skills, you won’t understand how to interpret a graphic.

    I am a visual kind of person and I expect that when people are presented with a simple line graph they can understand what it means.

    Not so.

    Denialists in large measure do not know how to interpret a simple two coordinate plot of rising temperatures.

    If you present them with one, they will ignore it because they can’t interpret it, and don’t want to make the mental effort to try and interpret it.

    You might as well be showing these things to carp or sunflowers and expecting some result.

    I’m not trying to be negative, but you need to know your audience if you intend to communicate with them.

    There is an article on line, written back in the 70’s called “heavy boots”

    I have the original somewhere on one of my hard drives but this version, although shortened, is close enough.

    http://blog.sciencegeekgirl.com/2009/11/09/myth-because-the-astronauts-had-heavy-boots/

    In the original article the author laments that without proper scientific education, the entire nation is at risk, because without a technical education, technical ideas will not be understood by the electorate and they will make poor decisions leading to the failure of the nation.

    This problem has been loooong in coming.

  18. 68
    Vendicar Decarian says:

    A person lays dying in an ambulance, one mile away from a hospital.

    The road is at the bottom of a steep valley, and an avalanche has blocked the way through.

    Options:

    1. Resign yourself to the fact that the occupant will die.
    2. Attempt to educate the rocks so they will get out of your way.

    Option 2 has been tried for the last 30 years and has proven to be a failure.

    3. This is the only realistic option left.

    What is it?

  19. 69
    Dan DaSilva says:

    #54 Vendicar Decarian
    “There was no effort. Just random numbers, with the presumption that someone else would do it for him”

    That boy will take the easy way and follow the consensus. What could go wrong?

  20. 70
    Silk says:

    #16 – Titus, you appear to be confusing a book written by a journalist with science. Teicholz’s book in no way overturns decades of food science. See, for example, https://www.pcrm.org/nbBlog/index.php/dietary-guidelines-scientific-evidence-for-nina-teicholz

    If you look hard enough you can find all sorts of books that challenge all sorts of things. That isn’t evidence that science is unreliable. It’s evidence that people write books and that publishers will publish them. It’s particularly easy to get a contrarian book published because it will get a lot of publicity.

    In the end, this will all blow over and food science will go back to being largely where it was.

    Still, if you want to find books that /prove/ that climate science is nonsense, there are plenty of the out there. I’d start with Heaven and Earth by Plimer. It’s nonsense, from start to finish, but he’s a scientist so you can believe him if it makes you feel warm and happy.

  21. 71
    Titus says:

    Ray Ladbury @58 says: “Would you dispute that?”

    Absolutely. From 50 years of business experience I can say that new ideas and thinking often come from disciplines outside a group. The group will often dismiss (was’nt thought of here mentality). A good business manager would recognize this and call it out.

  22. 72
    Titus says:

    Jon Kirwan @62. Help!!
    I assume you’re meaning a snowflake can be big, small, heavy, light, fluffy, dense etc. and they can all have there own opinions which will be based on their cognitive understandings which are not the same. No problem with this if that’s your meaning.

    However, at the end of the day I’m still left with the question of who judges the opinions.

  23. 73
    Thomas says:

    69 Titus says: “However, at the end of the day I’m still left with the question of who judges the opinions.”

    You are asking the wrong question, which is why it won’t go away. Enough of the rhetoric, just give me the facts because I (for one) can work it out by myself for myself. (there’s a hint in there somewhere)

  24. 74
    Jon Kirwan says:

    @69 Titus, “However, at the end of the day I’m still left with the question of who judges the opinions.”

    I’m not even curious why.

  25. 75
    gmb92 says:

    Victor (#51),

    Rather than “reading between the lines”, where lines gets boxed into a favored story, just read. In addition to the surface records being in better agreement, the buoy-ship bias has been well-researched for more than a decade. It was corrected in the HadCRUT data a few years before NOAA (covered in Karl et al) and NASA applied the correction. The methods are also well-documented and replicable, and I haven’t seen any challenges in published work. This might indicate that you should question the political sources that put up a big fuss over corrections that go against their desires for less warming, and claimed the new version was unwarranted. Those sources substitute a strong understanding of the subject with a reflexive tendency to dismiss anything that indicates global warming is a concern. You’d be on slightly less irrational ground (but still within the tinfoil hat realms) to question why the various organizations let a cool bias exist in the record for so long. Now if NOAA starts including Arctic regions in their analysis, certain heads will really spin.

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/the_other_bias.html

  26. 76
    sidd says:

    That graphic headline ” … global warming will be a good thing ” reminds me of the progression

    1) not happening
    2) not us
    3) not bad
    4) too hard
    5) too late

    applies to the comments on this thread, too …

  27. 77
    Vendicar Decarian says:

    66 – “That boy will take the easy way and follow the consensus. ”

    He would be well advised to do so.

    More than likely he will vote for someone with the arguments that best appeal to the most ignorant.

    “I love the poorly educated.” – Donald Trump.

  28. 78
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Titus,
    My experience has been the opposite. Only very rarely does a nonscientist make a breakthrough discovery in science. Even when a theory is wrong, it’s the scientists who show it’s wrong and develop a new theory. Science rewards novel thinking, but more than that, it rewards success. Perhaps this is because your idea of scientists as a tight, inbred cohort is wrong.

  29. 79
    zebra says:

    @ Titus,

    68

    I’m someone who has on occasion been called in to “think outside the (stuck) group”, but that role requires specific abilities. There is a necessary level of relevant education that enables one to ask useful questions and listen to the answers, while maintaining an appropriate level of detachment.

    But the point of listening is to ask more questions, not offer a solution. The solution comes from the original group in the end. If I did just offer my own opinion, I would then become a member of the same poorly functioning group.

    I’m sure, with all that vast management expertise you have, you understand this, right?

    69

    That’s easy: The decider. The CEO, or body politic, whatever. All any opinion has to be is “good enough”; there is no absolute certainty. Again, a businessperson like yourself must be aware of that.

    So, personally, I see ending fossil fuels as a net benefit. That would be my decision, if I were King of the World, given whatever uncertainty I have about the science and economics. What’s the problem?

  30. 80
    Alastair B. McDonald says:

    Vendicar wrote:
    A person lays dying in an ambulance, one mile away from a hospital.
    The road is at the bottom of a steep valley, and an avalanche has blocked the way through.
    Options:
    1. Resign yourself to the fact that the occupant will die.
    2. Attempt to educate the rocks so they will get out of your way.
    Option 2 has been tried for the last 30 years and has proven to be a failure.
    3. This is the only realistic option left.
    What is it?

    There are three possible answers:
    a) Use your mobile phone to summons an air ambulance?

    b) Move the rocks away one by one?

    c) Read the last rites to the patient?

    Actually in the present situation regarding AGW, I reckon c) would be most appropriate.

    The last time there was a major change in the size of the Arctic sea ice sheet at the end of the Yiunger Dryas, tempertures in Greenland jumped by 20 K. When the rest of the Arctic sea ice disappears then we can expect a similar rise in temperature in Greenland, (bye-bye Greenland Ice sheet) and severe disruption to farming in the Northern Hemisphere where mose of our food is grown.

    Currently the extent of the Arctic sea ice extent is 1.2 M sq km down on that for the corresponding day in 2012, when the last record minimum sea ice was recorded. If that is maintained until September then we can expect a new minimum of about 2 M sq km. Will the sea ice be able to recover from that during the winter, or will that be the beginning of the end for the Arctic sea ice?

    We have tried reasoning and it has had little effect. We really have to tell the truth, even if it means being called alamists. The situation is desparate!

  31. 81
    zebra says:

    @ Vendicar 64,

    “If you don’t have basic numerical skills, you won’t understand how to interpret a graphic.”

    As full of misconception and poor reasoning as the heavy boots.

    Your complaint in a couple of comments has been about doing simple mental arithmetic. Somehow, you are relating that to “understanding” and “interpreting” graphs.

    Do you have any evidence that, however you might define those latter two terms, there is a causal relationship?

  32. 82
    Titus says:

    Silk @67. Did you read the reviews on the Amazon link I posted? They are very positive and from a diverse audience. It has been praised for ‘impeccable research and fact presentation’. The sort of journalism that is being sort in this post. The book is full of references (scientific and political) which have been fact checked.
    Your link to Dr Barnard and his dietary peddling is an example of the folks getting the jitters and building the barricades. Quite understandable and expected and of course they could be right. The book goes into great detail on this point. You need to check it out before giving an opinion.

  33. 83
    Jim Eager says:

    Titus wrote: “However, at the end of the day I’m still left with the question of who judges the opinions.”

    Nature. And nature always bats last. And when it does it can really kick ass.

  34. 84
    Jim Eager says:

    Titus wrote: “From 50 years of business experience I can say that new ideas and thinking often come from disciplines outside a group.

    Titus is holding out for a Galileo to save his bacon.

    What could go wrong with that strategy?

  35. 85
    Victor says:

    #63 Kevin: “So, on the GISTEMP list, 1998 is in a tie for 10th-warmest, 0.24 C behind 2015. The picture is similar for HADCRUT: https://blog.metoffice.gov.uk/2015/11/25/2015-likely-to-be-the-warmest-on-record/
    Not sure what you thought you saw at SkS, but apparently a second look would be warranted.”

    Yes, GISTEMP does appear to show 2015 as higher than 1998. You can see it in the graph as well, though on the Sks graph it appears to be only marginally higher. (See https://www.skepticalscience.com/trend.php )

    No so for Hadcrut4, however, where I found it to be clearly lower than 1998, 2008 and 2010. Go to the Sks trend calculator and see for yourself. I’m basing my query on the period starting with 1979, to coincide with the start of the satellite observations. If you select a different start date the relative temps can look a bit different, however, which makes me wonder.

    Berkeley Global, when queried from 1979, has 2015 higher than 1998, but lower than 2010. All the satellite measurements show 2015 significantly lower than 1998.

    It seems to me that if global temperatures were steadily rising, that rise would be reflected in all the datasets, land, sea and air, not just two or three. Even if the absolute temps measured by the satellites are not completely reliable, the relative year to year measurements should reflect an overall temp. rise if we are truly dealing with a global effect.

  36. 86
    Edward Greisch says:

    Vendicar Decarian and others: I think I have realized why certain persons who are not here cannot be communicated with. I was reading a book on another subject that we will ignore, and came upon this: In Swahili, a sentence can be 2 nouns with no verb and no other words and no special endings. It is like a sermon that I tried to diagram the sentences of. I was 10 years old at the time. I soon realized that the preacher was not speaking in English sentences. I didn’t know the correct word for it at that time, but the correct label is “word salad.” Yet the adults all thought it was a wonderful sermon and I would understand it when I got older. I got older.

    Since there are a lot of people who speak nothing but word salad, they can’t imagine that grammar or word order mean anything to you either. So whatever you say they interpret as whatever they already thought. There is no way to communicate with them.

    If you want to hear lots of word salad, wander around in a mental hospital. The patients are there because what they say can’t be interpreted by anyone.

    Since there is no point in trying to communicate with speakers of word salad, the only thing to do is to wait for evolution to happen. All you have to do is survive the Population Crash. Good luck with that.

  37. 87
    mike says:

    don’t feed the trolls. I wonder if Vendicar Decarian, Titus, and Victor might be one and the same? I don’t read what they post often enough to compare righting styles, but when a contrarian hijacks the conversation on a regular basis you are encouraged to wonder about what is going on. For info on VD aka Scott Nudds… read here:

    https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/alt.global-warming/Hd3OBDmT82A

    Mike

  38. 88
    Radge Havers says:

    Titus @~ 69,
    “However, at the end of the day I’m still left with the question of who judges the opinions.”

    Enough of the rhetoric indeed. Typical troll trap. If after “50 years of business experience” you are still floundering around trying to answer that question, maybe you should be asking yourself why you’re having such difficulty with it. For example, a while back I was having a problem with brain fog–misplacing my keys, bumping into things, etc. It turned out to be a kidney issue, and under a Doctor’s supervision we cleared it up in a couple of weeks.

    Now I can remember how to look things up like peer review, metaliteracy, what makes arguments fallacious, why certain kinds of people get their jollies vandalizing the work of others, what is sophistry, what is rhetoric, and so on. That’s not to mention that there are all kinds of questions you can ask about how the world works (while remembering of course to filter out the garbage). Did you know for instance, there are people out there who can’t figure out that the world is older than 6,000 years? They just can’t figure out about “opinions.” They go on and on and on about all those stupid scientists…

  39. 89
    Titus says:

    Eureka. Zebra @79 has nailed it. The answer to my question on who judges: “That’s easy: The decider. The CEO, or body politic, whatever”.

    And that folks is the real world. Much of my working life has been in product and program management and this is the reality. If I wanted unbiased R&D I’d need to contract it out to a private specialist company. Very messy business at times.

    Thanks Zebra.

  40. 90
    Vendicar Decarian says:

    81 – “As full of misconception and poor reasoning as the heavy boots.”

    The concept of slope, rate of change, relative change, mean, standard deviation, linear vs geometric vs exponential growth, are lost on people who have no connection to simple arithmetic.

    Equally importantly since they have no connection to any of these concepts they are easily duped by those who do. In one outrageous example that I’ve seen the argument was made that there was no warming because the data had been rotated.

    Evidence for the claim was a global temperature plot, a linear interpolation through the data, and a picture of the plot physically rotated so that the line was horizontal.

    See… No warming…

    That is the level of comprehension that many denialists are operating on.

  41. 91
    Vendicar Decarian says:

    80 – “a) Use your mobile phone to summons an air ambulance?”

    Denialist argue that as well, in the form of appealing to their God, or arguing that space aliens will save us, or that we can move to another planet.

    “God will never allow that to happen” and if he does “the faithful will be saved.”

  42. 92
    Scott Strough says:

    @Alastair B. McDonald 80

    You said, “We have tried reasoning and it has had little effect. We really have to tell the truth, even if it means being called alarmists. The situation is desperate!”

    Ironically I have to disagree with you on both points. IMHO AGW is actually even worse than you think, and counter-intuitively the situation is not desperate.

    Once the soil scientists truly get their most modern information into the climate models, I believe it will point the way to the truly awe inspiring capability for a biological mitigation strategy. The size of the potential sink being so large, it is even possible that we will be forced to continue burning fossil fuels just to avoid plunging the world into a glaciation period!

    Don’t get me wrong. Right now we are less than 1% the way there, and not even large enough to slow down AGW at all. But things could change rapidly because instead of having a cost, it actually is profitable! Very profitable!

    Think of it from a purely economical POV. Currently agriculture is based on the economics of scarcity. We actually mine the soil to produce food and fiber and each year due to soil degradation there is less and less. We also mine the earth for our lime and phosphorus and the atmosphere for nitrogen as fertilisers. All these actions actually further increasing AGW.

    It’s not much different than a gold mine, where the more you take from the mine, the less you have left in the mine to go get.

    But agriculture can be modeled in a regenerative system instead, simply by mimicking natures regenerative systems. In this type of system, the more you take the more there is left after. Carbon nitrogen phosphorus etc etc increase year by year the more you farm. Little to no inputs required. And almost as a side effect, that level of increased biology has in many case studies around the world sequestered carbon at an absolutely huge rate, and the rate increases the longer you do it, same with the output! Completely the opposite of what we have going on now.

    Can you imagine a gold mine where the more gold you remove, the more gold the mine contains? How rich would you be?!!!! Only living systems have this capability. They don’t break the laws of physics, because the outside input is the sun.

    I contend that if this becomes the primary instead of the tiny minority, AGW will become a distant memory within a decade or two. Because the “miners” will be economically incentivised! (I hope that is a word LOL)

    This is why I think it is worse than most people commonly understand:

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/12/1209_051209_crops_map.html

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/only-60-years-of-farming-left-if-soil-degradation-continues/

    And this is why I believe the solution is also larger and more effective than most people commonly think:

    http://e360.yale.edu/feature/soil_as_carbon_storehouse_new_weapon_in_climate_fight/2744/

    http://amazingcarbon.com/PDF/JONES-LiquidCarbonPathway(AFJ-July08).pdf

    I made a more detailed analysis on another thread here at RealClimate. Go read it if you wish. Post 19 on the Recycling Carbon thread.

  43. 93

    Victor, don’t try to eyeball from the SkS graph. Look at the actual data:

    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/hadobs/hadcrut4/data/current/time_series/HadCRUT.4.4.0.0.annual_ns_avg.txt

    You’ll find that not only were 2014 and 2015 warmer than 1998, so were 2005 and 2010. As to why you got a different impression from the graph, I suspect that your eye was fooled by a higher *monthly* anomaly in 1998.

  44. 94
    Thomas says:

    85 Victor says: “It seems to me that if global temperatures were steadily rising, that rise would be reflected in all the datasets, land, sea and air, not just two or three. Even if the absolute temps measured by the satellites are not completely reliable, the relative year to year measurements should reflect an overall temp. rise if we are truly dealing with a global effect.”

    Oh poor old victor. It’s so sad to watch. I’m not a ‘biased scientist’ so let me explain you to you. :-)

    Global temperatures are not ‘steadily rising’ they are jumping around from region to region from land to ocean to air all over the place.

    Who wrote in the Bible of Skeptics that the ‘averaged over time’ temperature changes & rise would be reflected in all the datasets, land, sea and air …. all the time? btw, land sea and air = 3, yet you said “not just two or three?” Mmm

    Then there is the temperature and extent of Ice and Snow and Fires and Droughts. The temperature a meter below the surface and the temperature of rocks under the snow cover on the Himalayas. Who is taking those temperatures Victor? You?

    Global temperatures are swinging by tenths of a degree while to totally ignore the polar votex shifts, regional heat waves, a multi year drought across the African rainforests, the changes in Argentina, across Greenland, the arctic sea ice falling off a cliff this year, the record breaking temps in Australia year after year, the third major bleaching event since 1998 across the GBR then worst one being the last this year, fish stocks and nurseries collapsing here there and everywhere, the numbers of reefs already dead from acidity and coral bleaching that didn’t make it to the newspapers front page the last 2 decades. Like who cares about Vietnam or Indonesia or the Philippines or Samoa or Fiji anyway because they aren’t American voters nor retired Anthropologists with an ebook for sale on amazon.com

    Absolute temps are NOT measured by the satellites either, but why worry about accuracy in anything you have to say about anything. Life’s like that in a fact free world. Denial is not a river in Egypt Victor.

    Then you rattle off this little falsehood too boot- “…the relative year to year measurements should reflect an overall temp. rise if we are truly dealing with a global effect.” Who said that was true? The King James Bible or some other omniscient authority such as yourself?

    Belligerent cynicism is not valid skepticism! It’s more often connected to narcissism, racism, fascism or the dunning-kruger effect and other such serious afflictions in rational thinking and self-awareness.

    But I bet you’re happy anyway. That’s why they say that Ignorance is Bliss!

    God gave us all two eyes and two ears so we had the opportunity to see and listen twice as much as we speak. Grasp this opportunity Victor and quit while your still ahead. It won’t get any better I assure you. Cognitive Dissonance is a right bitch mate. It can push some people over the edge and you’re standing at the top of a very high cliff at present. ;-)

  45. 95
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Titus: ” If I wanted unbiased R&D I’d need to contract it out to a private specialist company.”

    Then you had a crappy internal R&D department–which reflects on your management abilities. If you want the best opinions, you go to the experts in the field–those publishing most actively.

  46. 96
    Alastair B. McDonald says:

    Re. 91 & 80

    “A person lays dying in an ambulance, one mile away from a hospital.
    The road is at the bottom of a steep valley, and an avalanche has blocked the way through.
    Options:
    1. Resign yourself to the fact that the occupant will die.
    2. Attempt to educate the rocks so they will get out of your way.
    Option 2 has been tried for the last 30 years and has proven to be a failure.
    3. This is the only realistic option left.”

    And what is that only realistic option left?
    And how is it related to AGW?

    I can’t see how you are going to get action on AGW unless you persuade people how catastrophic no action will be. Otherwise they will just bury their heads in the sand as everyone else on this blog is doing.

  47. 97
    zebra says:

    @ Vendicar 91,

    If you don’t understand a simple word like “causal”, you have no business criticizing anyone on the subject of science.

  48. 98
    zebra says:

    @ Titus 89,

    Your second paragraph has no relation to the first.

  49. 99
    Victor says:

    #75 “In addition to the surface records being in better agreement, the buoy-ship bias has been well-researched for more than a decade.”

    The more I learn about the background of this issue, the more I think the best word to characterize the old bucket method would not be “biased,” but “inaccurate” — or maybe better yet: “inconsistent.” A systematic bias can be corrected by a mathematical formula, but compensating for inaccurate/inconsistent readings as produced by an unreliable method is not so simple.

    Again, the more I learn the more I realize how hopelessly difficult it is to take the temperature of the whole Earth by planting thermometers here and there, as convenience dictates, and computing some sort of average. And then, when one doesn’t get the result one expected, applying various corrections that would supposedly compensate for the obvious shortcomings.

    As I’m sure you know there is a long history of attempts to explain away the “hiatus” and with each it was presumed to have been thoroughly “debunked.” As I see it, the Karl paper is only the latest in this long series so forgive me for questioning its validity. None of the previous attempts held up, apparently (or there’d have been no need for any more), so I see no reason for regarding this one as an exception.

    While there may be problems involved with the satellite data, they seem to be clearly understood and I feel sure they’ll be corrected over time. Since they don’t suffer from the obvious problems associated with earthbound thermometers (lack of coverage in difficult to reach locations, differences of methodology from place to place, etc.), I believe that in the long run they’ll become the gold standard for such measurements. In the meantime the inconsistencies between satellite and land based coverage cannot just be swept under the rug. While the satellite results may be inaccurate to some degree, they are consistent from one year to the next, so a warming of the atmosphere ought to be apparent, even if the absolute measurements can be questioned.

  50. 100

    Victor, #85–

    It seems to me that if global temperatures were steadily rising, that rise would be reflected in all the datasets, land, sea and air, not just two or three. Even if the absolute temps measured by the satellites are not completely reliable, the relative year to year measurements should reflect an overall temp. rise if we are truly dealing with a global effect.

    As I showed in my previous reply, HADCRUT does indeed show the same general picture as does GISTEMP (and, for that matter, NCDC.) The 3 instrumental data sets have a pretty good interconsistency. Not so the satellite data sets–although they are based on pretty much the same set of microwave measurements (there may be some differences in which platform was used when), the largest divergence between any of the ‘big five’ data sets has been that between RSS and UAH.

    Now, of course, we know why: RSS had developed a cooling bias due to insufficient correction for orbital drift. They took note of the problem, diagnosed it, and are in process of rolling out a new version that deals with the problem. That will bring RSS into much better alignment with the other data. (UAH may go the other way a bit: their new version is expected to show less warming than the current one, in which case the sat data may still end up less consilient than the instrumental data.)

    But here’s a couple of views of the data as it is now. The “big 5” since 1998:

    http://i1108.photobucket.com/albums/h402/brassdoc/quotBig%20Fivequot%20temperature%20trends%201-98%20to%20present.png

    That’s a graph I did, downloading the monthly anomaly data from all of the “big 5” data sets, for a presentation to our local congresscritter, who though Republican shows some signs of rationality, though he hasn’t yet summoned the political courage to actually do anything on the issue. But I digress… The time is given in months, starting with January 1998, and the ticks are every 12 months, so marking the years. The RSS trend line stands out very sharply from the others, as you will observe, if you look.

    You’ll note that even RSS, though, peaked above the 1998 value at the height of the current (and now waning) El Nino.

    Here’s the comparison of UAH and RSS data since 1998:

    http://woodfortrees.org/plot/rss/from:1998/plot/rss/from:1998/trend/plot/uah/from:1998/plot/uah/from:1998/trend

    Now, YMMV, but when I look at all 5 data sets and consider the information I gave above, I draw a couple of conclusions:

    1) Based on interconsistency, the instrumental data would seem to be more robust than the sat data.
    2) Based on #1, and on the now-known issues with RSS, I think your point in the last sentence quote above is well-addressed: “the relative year to year measurements should reflect an overall temp. rise if we are truly dealing with a global effect.” The data do in fact show such an ‘overall temp rise.’

    Moreover, this whole comparison is based on an interval purposely cherry-picked to minimize apparent warming. What does it say that the best ‘skeptic’ cherry-pick is now a ‘fail’? And what will it say when the meme becomes “warming stopped in 2002/2016?” (Yes, I’ve already seen the former promulgated.)