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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. 101
    Victor says:

    #100 Thank you Kevin, for your very thoughtful, reasonable, and respectful response, and the very interesting graphs you took the trouble to compile. Food for thought, no question.

  2. 102
    Tim Osborn says:

    Victor #85:

    It may be that the sks system isn’t showing you the 2015 values if you choose the period 1979-2015. Maybe it ends at the start of 2015 or something like that?

    Try the range 1979 to 2016 to see the 2015 values, which are clearly above 1998 for HadCRUT4, contrary to your earlier comment.

    Tim

  3. 103
    Victor says:

    #102 You’re right, Tim. HadCRUT4 shows a significant rise with 2016 as the end date. Definitely higher than 1998, or any other year for that matter.

    Yet all the satellite graphs present a very different picture from that one, with 2016 registering significantly lower than either 2010 or 1998. And they all look pretty similar. Considering the significant peak for 2010 in all four, it seems odd that 2016 doesn’t come close. If the recent El Nino was so off the charts, why wouldn’t that have registered in the satellite data?

    At this point I don’t know what to think.

  4. 104
    Vendicar Decarian says:

    96 – “And what is that only realistic option left?”

    Option 3. Whatever it is. Did you not see the question mark? The other two are excluded because they are ineffective.

    So excluding the other two options, what is your Option 3?

  5. 105
    Vendicar Decarian says:

    97 – “understand a simple word like “causal””

    Do you really think that someone who can not add or subtract can understand the method of least squares curve fitting?

    Your objections are absurd.

  6. 106
    Silk says:

    #82. Titus. I posted links to peer reviewed science. You dismiss this out of hand and use, as a counter-argument, comments from the Amazon website.

  7. 107
    Silk says:

    #71. Titus. It happened. A group from outside the climate science community subjected climate data to new and objective scrutiny.

    “Berkeley Earth was conceived by Richard and Elizabeth Muller in early 2010 when they found merit in some of the concerns of skeptics. They organized a group of scientists to reanalyze the Earth’s surface temperature record, and published their initial findings in 2012. Berkeley Earth became an independent non-profit 501(c)(3) in February 2013”

    And lo! They found that the climate was warming and this warming could be explained by using CO2 emissions as a proxy for GHG emissions, and could not be explained using natural factors only.

    This didn’t get all that much press as EVERYONE ELSE ALREADY KNEW THIS. But they got there in the end.

  8. 108
    zebra says:

    @Vendicar 105,

    Of course “understanding” least squares does not require the ability to add and subtract by hand. Why would it?

    Could you perhaps articulate the connection you think is there?

  9. 109
    John Mashey says:

    Ground stations vs satellites

    People who have thermostats to control temperature in their houses normally employ thermometets inside their houses, where they live.
    But they might choose to measure temperatures by getting drones with laser thermoters to fly around the house, bobbing up and down, but drift, with each new drone having different instrunebts, and use models of house to know whether lookibg at windows, walls or roof, and then all the data is run through some Fortran (UAH) code that has often proved buggy, including plus/minus swapped
    Actually, satellite temperature calculations are probably harder, since they do not use thermometers, and one can look at Carl Mears’ RSS flowchart.

    (Note: drones could actually be useful for quick checks on insulation. Satellite data is certainly useful, but computes metrics more appropriate for people atop Mt Everest.:-))

  10. 110
    nigelj says:

    Victor at 103# says

    “Yet all the satellite graphs present a very different picture from that one, with 2016 registering significantly lower than either 2010 or 1998. And they all look pretty similar. Considering the significant peak for 2010 in all four, it seems odd that 2016 doesn’t come close. If the recent El Nino was so off the charts, why wouldn’t that have registered in the satellite data?”

    This is simply wrong. A quick glance at UAH shows 2016 warmer than 1998, on data so far on monthly temperatures. This Victor character either cant read, or is deliberately spreading lies and trolling.

    Why are you letting him sabotage your website? I have no problem with honest scepticism, but Victor is dishonest.

  11. 111
    Titus says:

    Zebra @98 you say “Your second paragraph has no relation to the first”.

    Yeah agreed. I was thinking in the second para that a lot of folks have differing agenda’s. Exec’s with pet projects, Marketing wanting something that will sell, PM’s wanting products that can be made and supported, R&D focused in the virtual world. At the end of the day the CEO makes the decision bringing in shareholders and body politic. As I said: a messy business.

  12. 112
    Titus says:

    Silk @106 comparing “comments from the Amazon website”.

    The comments are very positive and come from all persuasions. They praise the research and factual references. Peer review comes under pains taking scrutiny which exposes their bias.

    I’d really encourage you to take a step back and re-evaluate.

  13. 113
    Titus says:

    Silk @107. Ref. Berkeley Earth.

    Berkeley points in the direction I’ve been discussing. Hope it isn’t a one off. IMO this should be par for the course in all research. Encouraging loads of it. This is how I was taught and now understand how science works. It’s a method not the answer.

  14. 114
    Jawler says:

    Does this mean that the scientists will criticize journalists who exaggerate the impacts of global warming, like saying there have been more hurricanes as a result?

  15. 115
    Silk says:

    Titus – Berkley Earth was a colossal waste of time (from a science perspective – it may well have had positive ‘public understanding of science’ and political outcomes)

    The scientific community doesn’t exist to re-analyse data to find out what it already knows to be correct is, in fact, correct.

    Science is about pushing back the boundaries of knowledge. There is /a lot/ we don’t know about the climate and the likely future climate. More importantly there is a lot we don’t know about what changes in climate will do to local weather. Which is what matters to farmers, flood planners and people generally.

    /That/ is where we are focusing our research efforts. Not wasting time with people who say “I know there are 1000s and 1000s of papers confirming climate science, but couldn’t you just check again?”

    If you want to go away and do some reanalysis by all means do so. If you can’t you might be able to pull together some funding to enable someone else to do it.

    In the meantime the people here are busy doing science. Which isn’t re-doing old experiments (unless there is good reason to think those old experiments might be wrongly interpreted). It’s doing new stuff to deepen human knowledge.

  16. 116
    Jim Eager says:

    Jawler wrote: “Does this mean that the scientists will criticize journalists who exaggerate the impacts of global warming, like saying there have been more hurricanes as a result?

    Good point, as that was not what the science predicted. The prediction was that the number of more powerful hurricanes/typhoons would increase while the total number of tropical storms would not, which appears to be what has happened.

  17. 117
    Hank Roberts says:

    > Hope it isn’t a one off.

    How many repetitions of the same study would it take to convince you? Each one takes years.

    Delay is the deadliest form of denial.

  18. 118
    Victor says:

    #110 nigelj: “This is simply wrong. A quick glance at UAH shows 2016 warmer than 1998, on data so far on monthly temperatures. This Victor character either cant read, or is deliberately spreading lies and trolling.”

    And why didn’t YOU take the trouble to check my source, before calling me a liar?

    https://www.skepticalscience.com/trend.php

    A quick glance at the UAH graph, as set from 1979-2016 reveals an endpoint distinctly lower than either 1998 or 2010. I provided a reference, you ignored my reference — and failed to provide one of your own. So which of us is the troll?

    I suspect the discrepancy is due to the beginning of the year 2016 being treated as the endpoint in the Skeptical Science graph. Which makes sense, since 2016 is far from over — evaluating a yearly trend based on four months of data doesn’t make much sense, does it? Well, maybe it does for you.

    In any case the discussion concerned the status of 2015, and Taylor’s claim that it wasn’t warmer than 1998. And as I said, according to the satellite data, as presented at the SkSc site, it wasn’t. While the data we have so far for 2016 does apparently exceed 1998, that means little since this year is far from over.

  19. 119
    Titus says:

    Silk @115. We were obviously brought up in different worlds. What you described is not science. I’ve seen this so many times and it has been given the name of ‘pseudoscience’.
    Take a step back and read some of Richard Feynman, Einstein etc. and see what they have to say.
    I cannot offer any more.

  20. 120
    Titus says:

    Hank Roberts @117 says “How many repetitions of the same study would it take to convince you?”

    I don’t need convincing. That is not science. In any case, I’m not aware that there are any major issues around temperature. The NOAA Climate Reference Network seems to do a good job as well but I know that is just US data.

    You quote “Delay is the deadliest form of denial”. I’m more for science “doubt is the highest form of belief”.

  21. 121
    Thomas says:

    119 Titus says: “We were obviously brought up in different worlds”

    This may help to explain that and why it’s more than likely (90% confidence) true:
    World views and beliefs are formed by “Idealized Families” Nurturing vs Strict Father Model – Professor George Lakoff 2008 (link starts at 24m30s)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jCXxc_M9EmE&feature=youtu.be&t=24m30s

    Titus for more info:
    https://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2016/06/boomerangs-versus-javelins-the-impact-of-polarization-on-climate-change-communication/

    There’s lots of non-climate science out there that explains quite a lot.

  22. 122
    Jim Eager says:

    Taylor’s claim that 1998 was warmer than 2015 is specious as he is comparing a peak el nino year (1998) to an el nino build-up year (2015), and using a metric (UAH) that heavily offsets the time of maximum impact of an el neino in the upper atmosphere to boot.

    Taylor is doing so to deliberately deceive. It’s what he does.

    What’s your reason or doing so Victor?

  23. 123
    Titus says:

    Thomas @121. Thanks for reply. I had already posted a comment on the link you highlighted before I read your reply. It got put in the ‘Bore Hole’:(
    Listening to your YouTube it sounds like we are thinking the same. Here’s my post again:

    “IMO there is a very simple answer to why there are differing views by political party.

    ‘Climate Change’ is a perfect vehicle for promoting the liberal, progressive, left agenda (distribution of wealth, central control etc.). Obviously the right wing do not agree on that agenda and campaign against because of the attached agenda.

    It has nothing to do with the science so pushing the science in any form is a waste of time. And as this article states it can have the opposite effect.

    The sad thing is that science is getting a very bad reputation. I believe it should dissociate from politics and get back to its roots and leave it to the politicians to fight over.”

    It might end up in the Bore Hole again!!!

  24. 124
    Silk says:

    Titus – I am genuinely baffled. /What/ do you think is pseudoscience? And what are you doing at RealClimate? You appear to have no interest in climate science.

  25. 125
    Victor says:

    #122 Jim Eager: “Taylor’s claim that 1998 was warmer than 2015 is specious as he is comparing a peak el nino year (1998) to an el nino build-up year (2015), and using a metric (UAH) that heavily offsets the time of maximum impact of an el neino in the upper atmosphere to boot.

    Taylor is doing so to deliberately deceive. It’s what he does.”

    No. He is simply stating a fact. According to the satellite data, 2015 was NOT warmer than 1998. The impact of El Nino is another matter entirely. And we won’t know for another 7 months whether this latest El Nino caused 2016 to exceed 1998. That’s wishful thinking on your part.

    “What’s your reason or doing so Victor?”

    [edit]

  26. 126
    Thomas says:

    123 Titus says: “‘Climate Change’ [APPEARS AS] a perfect vehicle for promoting the liberal, progressive, left agenda (distribution of wealth, central control etc.). Obviously the right wing do not agree on that agenda and campaign against because of the attached agenda.”

    Hi Titus, note my add-in. Combined with that however is a more engaged ‘liberal/left/eco’ side of politics in the subject. Those things together then what you say about right wing/economic politics being ‘anti’ seems about correct to me. Emotions and passionate beliefs is what drives people, especially those already deeply engaged in ‘special interest’ politics, no matter what country or system.

    Given Lakoff’s explanations of their cognitive science studies/research (and others) a key to left/liberal leaning people and groups is their sense of ‘collective empathy’ is much higher than the right. It’s because of this, imo, that the ‘left’ more readily can grasp the implications and the causes of what the science is producing re agw/cc issues. iow it’s ‘easier’ for those on the left to see the interconnections and that they place ‘collective/communal’ responsibility much higher on the scale of ‘motivated reasoning’ than the right do.

    I could have this wrong, but every time I see published papers and research from social science, marketing/media, and communications and psychology studies that touch on business/libertarian vs the environment/community (as a broad brush) such as what Zhou and Lakoff point to – I am always seeing the very same kinds of things being pointed out.

    I do not think is so much about the right being anti-science as much as it is what the implications of climate science are pointing out in spades – fundamental reform in all aspects of today’s economy including govt control over delivery of fossil fuel energy which automatically implies significant change in not just ‘energy’ but across every part of modern society and economic/taxation norms.

    eg one of the silent elephants in the room is the fact that IF fossil fuels are banned then this means a significant cut in the existing fossil fuel/energy Government Revenues in all nations – from mining royalties, corp taxes, fuel excise, and management of electricity supply. NO one I know of has yet outed this key issue publicly nor arrived at how Govt is going to replace that taxation stream. That effects everyone, not just the current Government who no longer has the funds to pay their bills or maintain public services.

    So AGW/CC science, the implications of it into the future clearly interferes at all levels of society and economic norms. That creates much fear in ‘conservatives’ and especially Politicians by default “political parties” – the more conservative and right wing they are the worse they would feel. Too easy to then knee-jerk the whole issue into an ideologicla one against the evil ‘left/socialists’ – it;s what they do best. LOL

    To me it’s easy to see why so many ‘policy makers and govts’ especially in the core western world prefer to leave their heads in the sand and kick the can down the road if at all possible.

    As to taking ‘science’ out of politics, I really don’t see that it is. Climate change implications are, the blame the messenger routine especially by the right, by think tanks and business surely won’t last.

    Politicians have a skill at ‘politicizing’ any issue and any group in society if they think it will serve their purpose. I can’t blame science or scientists for that. Besides that I still believe that every individual has a right to be outspoken in their filed of expertise and to engage in political discourse no matter who they are or what their career has been. They all are citizens too and not merely autobots with one track minds imo.

    So my opinion is that as long as business people, marketers, ex-military, doctors, laywers, and farmers and CEOs can engage in politics then so should scientific bodies and scientists all so have that right – where their success solely depends on whether or not their “ideas” find favour with the community, the voters etc.

    Reading between the lines, I have a sense that maybe what you’re concerned about is the ineffectiveness the last few decades for a clear accurate message form ‘climate science’ finding root in the collective consciousness. It’s really complex imo. Everyone involved is to blame here. eg some people see the IPPC as a scientific body and others see it as a political body and criticize it for being both. That’s not the IPCCs nor the UNFCCCs fault per se – it’s the national governments and their politicians who set these bodies up in the first place – they made those bodies ripe for unfair criticisms and less effective and clear than they otherwise could have been.

    iow everyone is to blame – society is to blame. WE get the ‘politicians and govts’ we collectively want. as if by magic. :)

  27. 127
    mm says:

    Victor (#118). The beginning of the year 2016 (or the end of 2015) is the end point in the graph because you specified such a range in the SkS tool, not because the year is not over. To see the most recent observations, just leave the end date empty.

  28. 128

    #125, Victor–

    “And we won’t know for another 7 months whether this latest El Nino caused 2016 to exceed 1998.”

    True, if as appears you mean the yearly mean value. But we already know that 4 of the first 5 months did in fact ‘exceed,’ with May being a virtual tie. Here’s the UAH version:

    http://i1108.photobucket.com/albums/h402/brassdoc/UAH%2098%20compared%20to%2016.png

    Every El Nino is different, of course, but 1998 has some ground to make up.

  29. 129
    Jim Eager says:

    Victor wrote: “According to the satellite data, 2015 was NOT warmer than 1998.

    Of course it wasn’t, for the reasons I pointed out. It is simply not a legitimate comparison to make.
    Are you really that dense, Victor?

  30. 130

    Having tried to find compelling ways to write about climate change in articles, opeds, essays, and books since the late ’80s, and having been informally connected to more than one effort to ground truth some of the wildly inaccurate reporting, I’ve become convinced that the disinformation and propaganda will fade only as the real economic costs mount for ignoring climate change. An insurance company that pulls your flood insurance is not going to care whether you think the issue is a hoax. Unfortunately, this guarantees that the US will remain behind the curve.
    Tariffs that penalized free-riders might help, but i’m not holding my breath…

  31. 131
    nigelj says:

    Victor at 118

    You have posted a link to a blank trend calculator. Trends are not the issue. You made no reference to trends in your original post, and neither did I.

    Let me remind you of your specific statement that 2016 registers significantly lower than 1998. This is simply not the case.

    On data so far 2016 is looking warmer than 1998, taken as a “single year”. In fact we dont really know for sure until full data is in for the year. You made an unsupportable claim.

  32. 132
    Hank Roberts says:

    Victor isn’t here to learn. E.g., from Dec. 2014 here:
    https://www.realclimate.org/?comments_popup=17725#comment-619810

    He’s here to polish the language he uses to post his stuff elsewhere in hopes he might fool someone.

  33. 133
    Titus says:

    Thomas @126. Thanks for a respectful and enlightening reply. Appreciated the work put into that.

    There’s a great discussion going on at https://judithcurry.com/2016/06/09/science-on-the-verge/
    covering very similar ground. You may be interested.

    Also, why do you think my post ended up in the ‘Bore Hole’? I thought it was on topic and you obviously took an interest.
    Thanks again.
    Titus

  34. 134
    Adam Lea says:

    Re 116: “The prediction was that the number of more powerful hurricanes/typhoons would increase while the total number of tropical storms would not, which appears to be what has happened.”

    I’m not convinced that it has happened yet, at least in terms of a significant upward trend over the last 45 years. See http://models.weatherbell.com/tropical.php, there has been an upswing in global major hurricane activity in the last two years, partly due to the 2015 El Nino enhancing Pacific hurricane and typhoon activity (the whole Pacific ocean was very active for strong tropical cyclones in 2015), but there is not a clear upward trend in that graph, a small upward trend maybe but one downward peak caused by a moderate to strong La Nina or two (e.g. 2010-2011) would have a good chance of removing any visible trend.

  35. 135
    Thomas says:

    133 Titus, you’re welcome. I had a read of Curry’s page, word for word, despite my default misgivings about her way of ‘thinking’ and her default mindset and extreme cognitive biases. Thanks for the invite but sorry I am really not up for arguing against sophistry or ’tilting at windmills’. I kept an eye on James Corbett a few years but soon lost interest. He doesn’t impress me. Neither does David Icke and place them both at the same level in many regards. Too irrational based on far too many false assumptions it makes my toes curl (not in the good way).

    For example, I thought this quote highlights my concerns about Curry and Co

    “The scientific community continues to understand itself as a self- correcting, autonomous enterprise, but the knowledge it creates is no longer containable within laboratories, technical publications and patents. It has now become central to many political debates, and can be wielded by everyday citizens during activities as mundane as visiting a doctor, buying food or arguing with one’s neighbour. Scientists can no longer maintain authority by insisting that they should be left alone to fix their problems. Recall what happened when the Catholic Church tried this approach after Gutenberg had loosened its hold on truth.”

    Bazinga! Ideological clap trap. I could write a term paper on everything that is wrong, flawed, misguided, flaky, and historically inaccurate about that single paragraph alone. Millions followed Hitler because of his ‘wonderful compelling rhetoric’ which was so convincing. Some still believe even today. Longevity of a tradition does not define truth nor reality. What he and all good attention seeking self-serving marketers do, and I place Curry into that grouping, is typically referred to as ‘sophistry’ today. Like every good marketer and PR firm Adolf the 1st and last created an emotionally charged need in the audience, a problem to be solved and set himself up as the only obvious solution.

    Curry’s like minded folks are dishonestly creating an ‘evil entity’ they call “science” which in reality does not in fact exist. You can’t declare war on a word. That’s just crazy thinking from woe to go. What ever truths might pop up now and then in such discussions are irrelevant when the entice edifice of the battle is delusional. This is how I see it. It’s in harmony though with the most fanatical of Libertarian thinking where “Government” (a word) is seen as evil intrinsically while ignoring every bit of good that ‘institution’ does in context with the real world across millennia.

    Instead every bad thing that happens is simply used to prove their flawed Hypothesis that All Government is ‘bad’ in and of itself, as opposed to doing the hard work of actually solving specific individual or systemic problems in specific governments of specific nations directly. Sophistry is the easy way out for attention seeking ideologues. imo.

    Anyone who comes at a conflict issue which defines a word as the enemy from the get go is not operating in a rational world. They all tend to be driven fanatics no matter what the subject happens to be. So I won’t be spending any time on Curry’s blog nor the other web places she shows up on. Thanks.

    This interview shows up what genuine science is all about and what real decent scientists try to do for all humanity, despite any errors or missteps that arise in an ‘imperfect system’ operated by humans.

    This is to me the classic example of being ‘as real as it gets’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ALM2Cjf6HTY

    ‘If it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn’t, it ain’t. That’s logic.’ http://esgs.free.fr/uk/logic.htm

  36. 136
    Edward Greisch says:

    123 Titus: Science has nothing whatsoever to do with politics. There is nothing liberal, progressive, left agenda (distribution of wealth, central control etc.) about either climate science or evolution. There are certain people in the present “Establishment” who have something to loose if citizens think for themselves. There are also certain people in the present “Establishment” who could loose out to other Establishment members. There is no reason why climate science should lead to a change in the distribution of wealth. There could be some churning at the top with one billionaire replacing another. So what?

    Remember that the 1% is setting up a world government. That is what NAFTA, TPP, TTIP and similar things are all about. So they want to deflect attention from the real threat to democracy [themselves] to anybody else. We happen to be convenient scapegoats because most people know nothing about anything and are easily misled.

  37. 137

    Semi-random comments on Ed’s # 136:

    “123 Titus: Science has nothing whatsoever to do with politics. There is nothing liberal, progressive, left agenda (distribution of wealth, central control etc.) about either climate science or evolution.”

    Hopefully the way science is conducted has relatively little to do with politics, most of the time. (Example for ‘provocation’: Manhattan Project.) However, certain results of science (and tech) will always present implications for the political process. (Examples: all research that led to the development of transistors in any way, all research leading to the development of the Internet. Probably all genome-mapping research, and related genetic manipulative tech.)

    “There are certain people in the present “Establishment” who have something to [lose] if citizens think for themselves. There are also certain people in the present “Establishment” who could [lose] out to other Establishment members.”

    No doubt. But doesn’t this also apply to the claim below? To wit, that:

    “…the 1% is setting up a world government. That is what NAFTA, TPP, TTIP and similar things are all about.”

    Surely some significant subset of the 1% is profiting now from global inequality, which is precisely what those sorts of treaties tend to mitigate (as production moves to the developing world, and newly productive nations ‘grow’ a middle class.)

    “There is no reason why climate science should lead to a change in the distribution of wealth. There could be some churning at the top with one billionaire replacing another. So what?”

    I think that’s far from clear. For instance, BPL notes on another thread that green tech (chiefly renewables) is currently generating more jobs than it is eliminating (in industries such as coal extraction and combustion). Presumably, that’s due to the distributed nature of the resource–ie., it’s sometimes-critiqued ‘low energy density.’ If that trend is durable, and if deployment continues to increase, then you’d see an increase in well-paid technical jobs which would go some way–how much, I’m not sure–toward ameliorating the loss of well-paid ‘blue collar’ jobs.

    Also, it may not matter to us ‘which’ billionaire is at the top of the heap, but it certainly matters to *them*!

    “Remember that the 1% is setting up a world government. That is what NAFTA, TPP, TTIP and similar things are all about. So they want to deflect attention from the real threat to democracy [themselves] to anybody else. We happen to be convenient scapegoats because most people know nothing about anything and are easily misled.”

    I don’t think that the various aspects of this paragraph are self-evident, either. While it could be true that global bureaucracy could be threatening to democracy, it is also true that trade pacts, especially ones which mandate protections for labor and the environment, can act to spread democracy, or aspects thereof, to nations where such are less developed at present.

    Moreover, the less an international rule of law exists, the more nations are essentially in a ‘state of nature’, with all its Hobbesian consequences. That is anything but ‘democratic’. If we were to achieve anything like a true ‘world government’, we’d face some dangers to democracy, no doubt. But we’d also be able to dispense with most (theoretically, all) of our military establishment, especially including nuclear arsenals. Since that sector soaks up enormous amounts of capital, labor and talent, and to a considerable degree ‘sequesters’ the resulting goods from the larger economy, one would expect a large economic ‘peace bonus’, which could also have democratizing results, in principle.