Sunday, 31 August 2008

Arctic Ice (update)

I guess it will be appearing on a lot of blogs this week, but the extent of arctic sea-ice has dropped far below the 2005 levels and are now the second lowest since the beginning of satellite measurements (see graph below). It is clear the longterm downward trend continues.

Unlike previous record years, this year both North-west & East-west passage have opened at the same time. An event which probably hasn't occured the last 125.000 years.

graph by the National Snow and Ice Data Center

2007 was regarded as truly exceptional with artic ice reaching record low levels that weren't expected before the mid of the century. The discrepancy was so big, and not wanting to jump to conclusion too early, many scientists considered this a one time effect, caused by combining a number of coïncidential factors, like heavy winds.

This year, there was a rather cold winter, so a certain recovery of arctic ice was expected, but for most of that ice was relatively thin ice that does melt easier too. This probably being the reason why this years extent of sea ice again has become so low it is still competing with 2007 for the record.

Earlier this month, Researchers from the University of Alberta released the news that in their research of the thinkness of Arctic ice during the last six years has thinned up 53%
If you are interested seeing some nice sea-ice maps, go to this page of the University of Bremen.

Meanwhile, as you could read on the thingsbreak blog i linked to yesterday, Alaskan governor and Vice-Presidential nominee Sarah Palin, threatened to start a lawsuit against enlisting the polar bear as an endangered species, declaring :
Climate models that predict continued loss of sea ice, the main habitat of polar bears, during summers are unreliable

Saturday, 30 August 2008

Quote of the day

Sarah Palin Global Warming
Question: What is your take on global warming and how is it affecting our country?
Answer: A changing environment will affect Alaska more than any other state, because of our location. I'm not one though who would attribute it to being man-made.

Sarah Palin, the Republican vice-presidential nominee for the 2008 US presidential election, giving her view on global warming in an interview with Newsmax yesterday.

[update] ThingsThatBreak has some more to say.

Friday, 29 August 2008

Similarities between denialism of evolution and climate change

On internetfora, more than once i've expressed the feeling that in my opinion, there's a striking ressemblance between the two non-related topics. The ressemblance being the way non-believers are arguïng for not having to accept the scientific reality. Remarkably, a Dutch blogger whom's focus is evolution, came to this exact same conclusion.

His post reads as the basics of understanding climate change denialism. The text (in Dutch !) can be found here

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Frank Van Dun 2 : Intro

Original post erased*

In communication via email, Professor Frank Van Dun claims the texts originally commented in this post & which were published on his website are nothing but drafts and "occasional material"

As I'm aware that a draft can be something to start a discussion, not conclude it; I do understand the viewpoint he expresses in his mails. In such case, indeed one doesn't want to be tackled for what's written in a draft.

Van Dun further on explains that he understands my viewpoint that in the internet-era, puting something on a website is considered making it free for commenting. Following this notion, FvD erased the texts from his webpage. As a result, i'm taking my comments offline too.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Steven Goddard & The Register

I noticed Steven Goddard's article on Arctic ice in The Register is being cited on several internetfora, & therefore maybe it is worth quickly mentioning it here, even though i'm sure most people will immediately be able to see the most important problems with Mr Goddard's post.

Arctic ice refuses to melt as ordered

Steve Goddard Ice Breaker The register Global warming hoax
(Click here for the article in The register)

An answer to the biggest problems with his claim was given by Walt Meier, research scientist at the NSIDC (National Snow & Ice Data Centre).

As his answer got a bit lost in the comments on the article, i'm copying the complete answer :

I see that Mr. Goddard's article has gotten quite a discussion going. I've emailed The editors at The Register, but haven't heard back, and just recently Mr. Goddard directly.
Mr. Goddard's approach to counting pixels is simply not the correct approach. First, let me clarify a couple things.
1. The satellite data doesn't directly measure sea ice area or extent. It measures brightness temperature - a measure of the amount of energy emitted by the ice. This is converted to area or extent using an algorithm.
2. There are several different algorithms and they can yield different results in terms of absolute numbers. However, their trends and change from year to year show similar magnitudes. The Bremen AMSR data is from a different algorithm - hence it looks different.
3. Both UIUC and NSIDC use the same brightness temperature data.
4. Both UIUC and NSIDC use the same algorithm, but with some differences in the specifics, so the numbers aren't perfectly matched, but there is very good overall agreement and they yield the same conclusions about changes in Arctic sea ice.
5. People have talked a lot about "pixels", but one needs to understand what one is talking about. There are two types of "pixels". One is "data pixels"; this is a function of the spatial resolution of the sensor (i.e., how small of an area the sensor can resolve). For the data UIUC and NSIDC uses, the data pixels are about 25 x 25 km. The other is "image pixels", which describes the qualities of the image.
6. The data has to be gridded onto a projection, which yields a gridded resolution, which is also about 25 x 25 km, but varies depending on the type of projection and where the grid cell within the projection. The input data for both UIUC and NSIDC is on a 25 x 25 km grid. The UIUC grid that Mr. Goddard analyzes has been interpolated onto a different grid. I do not know the specifics of that grid, but such interpolation will change how the data looks when viewed.
7. The data can then be conveyed in an image. The image has an "image pixel" resolution. This is generally given in dpi or dots per inch. Higher dpi means a sharper image. However it does NOT change the fundamental resolution of the data.
8. An image is simply a way to convey data; it is not data itself. Therefor it is not proper to do analysis on the image. You need to use the data.
9. The gridded data, when analyzed, must account for the projection in terms of the area of the grid cells. You have to sum the ice, weighted by the correct area for each grid cell. NSIDC uses a polar stereographic projection with a true latitude of 70 N. Other than at 70 N there will be distortion that needs to be corrected for, as NSIDC does.
10. NSIDC freely distributes all the data, tools to work with the data, and the grid cell area files. So anyone can do their own analysis.
11. NSIDC's methods have been around for over 20 years, have been thoroughly vetted in peer-reviewed science journals, and confirmed numerous times over by independent scientists conducting the proper method.
12. Finally, Mr. Goddard need not have wasted his time doing his image pixel counting. He could've simply referred to the UIUC site, which actually counts the pixels properly and creates a timeseries plot:
If you look at that plot, you'll that because it is area instead of extent, the raw numbers are lower. However, while it's a bit hard to make out the values real accurately, you see that this year on Aug. 11, it was ~4 million sq km, while last year on Aug. 12, it was ~3.6 million sq km (actually, since it's a one-year sliding window, Aug. 12, 2007 is no longer visible, but that's what it was on that data and the current range shows a similar difference). That's a bit more than an 11% difference. So Mr. Goddard's analysis of UIUC's data doesn't even agree with UIUC's analysis.
Hopefully Mr. Goddard will make a corrections soon.
Walt Meier

As an answer to Meier's objections to the original piece of work, Goddard writes :

"it is clear that the NSIDC graph is correct, and that 2008 Arctic ice is barely 10% above last year - just as NSIDC had stated."
I guess this article from Goddard can be considered 'rebutted'.

Reading tip : the comments on the article.
Gives a nice impression of how bias works.
The skepticism in those comments isn't about science.

Monday, 18 August 2008

Quote of the day

Read & Weep. Found this one on the blog of Jennifer Marohasy. It might have been funny if it weren't this nonsense is posted by someone with a PhD in science. As a geologist i want to cry. It's a fine example of how a firm semi-religious belief in something (in this case : a political viewpoint) makes people making the most ridiculous errors and using incredible fallacies to make science fit into the dogma. Even if this requires a form of reasoning that is simply ridiculous.

Gordon Robertson on a Molten Core

I have become curious about something. The core of the Earth is alleged to be molten. It's also a fact that the deeper you dig into the Earth, the warmer it gets. Where is that heat coming from... surely not from the Sun. What's the possibility that the Earth generates some of it's own heat from geothermal processes?

When I studied a bit of geology, we learned that the Earth is actually oblate, like a pumpkin. That shape apparently comes from the stress of the gravitational pull of the Sun the Moon. As the Earth moves in its orbit about the Sun, it is flexing due to those stresses, and cracks in the Earth heat up as they rub against one another.

There are estimates that the Earth's core may be in the vicinity of 5,000 to 6,000°C. That heat has to go somewhere. There is also a theory that the core may be turning at a differnt rate than the rest. There would be immense friction in that case, and immense heat generated.

Sunday, 10 August 2008

20 years of public opinion about global warming

A talk in which Matthew Nisbett and Chris Mooney speak about science communication and how the reference frame of the audience itself is an important factor in how the communication is used in creating a personal opinion was posted before on this blog. Today i'd like to have a little deeper look at a couple of things related to it.

In a paper tittled The polls - trends, twenty years of public opinion about global warming Matthew Nisbett and Teresa Myers review 20 years of polls on the subject of global warming.

One of their conclusions is that indeed, the reference frame of the audience is a factor in believing whether or not Global Warming is a reality.:

“Trust in scientists likely remains a factor in perceptions of the scientific evidence relative to global warming. According to ABC News polls taken in 2006 and 2007, in each year, only 32 percent of Americans answered that they trust the things scientists say about the environment "completely" or "a lot" compared to 24 percent and 27 percent who trust what scientists say "little" or "not at all."

Another interesting read is the paper: Signals and noise. Mass-media coverage of climate change in the USA and the UK by Boykoff and Rajan :

In 1998, the New York Times revealed that opponents of international climate policy had put together a plan with a US$600,000 budget to recruit scientists “who share the industry's views of climate science and to train them in public relations so they can help convince journalists, politicians, and the public that the risk of global warming is too uncertain to justify controls on greenhouse gases…” (Cushman, 1998). This plan—assembled at the American Petroleum Institute offices in Washington, DC, USA—targeted science writers, editors, columnists and television network correspondents in order to affect media discourse on the human contribution to climate change. The proposal of the group stated that it would measure success “by counting, among other things, the percentage of news articles that raise questions about climate science and the number of radio talk show appearances by scientists questioning the prevailing views”.

Don’t hesitate to also having a look at the references Boykoff and Rajan use. Even though they may be not very recent, they certainly do give an insight in how the sceptical movement was able to challenge the public’s understanding of the consensus on global warming by giving a closer look at the tactics used. Example given : Defeating Kyoto: The Conservative Movement’s Impact on U.S. Climate by McCright & Dunlap :

By systematically analyzing the thematic content of 224 documents on global warming produced and/or circulated by 14 influential conservative think tanks between 1990 and 1997, we (2000) identify three major counter-claims through which the conservative movement challenged the framing of global warming by the environmental community.

First, the conservative movement claimed that the evidentiary basis of global warming is weak, if not wrong.

Second, conservatives argued that the net effect of global warming would be beneficial should it occur.

Third, conservatives argued that the policies proposed to ameliorate the alleged problem of global warming would do more harm than good.


skeptics were actually cited as sources in more articles than the elite climate scientists in 1995, and in 1996 and 1997 the number of citations for both groups was approximately equal

The thing which puzzled me personally for a long time is why mosts denialists are always located in a very small part of the political spectrum. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s probably a combination of several factors, closely related to the reference frame Nisbett talked about and which seem to be in the case of global warming:

1) A general mistrust in science which is more dominantly at the conservative side (i launched before a hypothesis the root for this maybe could be the theory of evolution they reject, the rejection of the science underpinning evolution being a fertile ground for rejecting science in total)

2) a view towards the government which in my opinion isn’t just ‘critical’ anymore, but simply ‘paranoid’ (if i find the time, i’ll reason how i'm coming to this conclusion), in which people express a certain fears like p.ex.the fear GW is nothing but a tool used with the aim to install a “world government”. A fear for which they are unable to give solid arguements, it's more a gut feeling.

3) Last but not definately not least there’s the fear of higher taxes. The best way to be sure ‘them’ will not rise taxes is ‘killing’ the topic which could be responsible for such a raise, here being global warming. This seems to be a very widespread way of thinking. When discussing on internetfora, it seldomly takes more than five posts before a denialist will mention something about raising taxes.

In a certain way, thats what this quote from the McCright & Dunlap paper also states.

In this context, it is not surprising that the conservative movement turned its attention to global warming. Despite assertions that environmentalism represents a new ideology that is orthogonal to traditional liberalism-conservatism (e.g., Paehlke 1989), studies consistently and conservatism to be negatively related to pro-environmental attitudes and actions among the general public and especially among political elites, such as members of Congress (Dunlap, Xiao, and McCright 2001). A key reason is that pursuit of environmental protection often involves government action that is seen as threatening economic libertarianism, a core element of conservatism. Yet, most environmental protection up to the present—such as regulations designed to control air or water pollution—was accomplished without posing a major threat to industrial capitalism, despite protests from the corporate sector

In conclusion, several thing come together in the global warming denialism :

-an audience willing to hear it’s not true, for a combination of reasons, the most important mentioned before

-an industrial lobby willing to kill the topic to defend it's interests

-right wing think thanks for whom the climate topic is a threat to the libertarian fear of simply having a government, let alone having a government ‘acting’ on something. A lot of the ‘lead’sceptics have a history of denying other scientific conclusions which in the past lead to a possibility of a government acting to solve the problems associated with the topic, like the relation smoking-cancer, the scientific conclusion about health threats coming from asbestos, the hole in the ozone layer, UV- skin cancer, etc, etc

Those things in a certain way have one common crosspoint : the surroundings of the American Republican Party and this common basis seems to have been a good meetingplace for people willing to attack science for whatever is their personal reason to do. The experience of the tobacco-lobby a ready-to-use tool to systematically attack science was a ready to use tool being available and having proved it's use already as the figures from the polls show.

Chris Mooney wrote a book “the Republican war on science” in which he has a closer look to the subject and how all those things come together.

One thing is sure : the atack on science by creating doubt so far has been rather succesful :

Specific to judgments about whether or not the greenhouse effect or global warming is real, as early as 1992, 68 percent answered in the affirmative. Yet this number declined in 1994 to 57 percent, a trend likely promoted by the strategic communication efforts of conservative think tanks to boost skepticism about the problem (McCright and Dunlap, 2000)

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Ofcom & The great global warming swindle

I know it's been given enough attention on the blogworld already, but because the movie the great global warming swindle is cited so frequently by denialists, i simply have to have a little post about it.

Czech president Vaclav Klaus at the premiere of TGGWS

As they've received some complaints (like this one, no less than 123p), the British Office of Communications (Ofcom) which is the independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries, had a closer look at Martin Durkins much cited and much critised movie The Great Global Warming Swindle and came to a clear judgement about at least some of the complaints.

The accuracy questions of the movie were not subject to the judgement Ofcom made. Which seems to be a strange decision: Dave Rado, one of the plaintiffs writes :

although the accuracy sections of our complaint were considered under section 2.2 of the broadcasting code, that was not the section that we had complained under.

We complained primarily under section 5.7, but Ofcom decided section 5.7 only related to news programmes. We don't think the code makes it at all clear that it the requirement for accuracy only applies to news programmes (which is why we complained under that section) - and if it's really true that science documentaries are not expected to be accurate, that is a serious indictment of the broadcasting code.

in a few other fields, Ofcom did come to a judgement and came to this summary of adjudication which was to be read out and displayed on Channel 4s More4 channel, at 10pm BST on August 05, 2008 :

Summary of Adjudication

Complaints by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Sir David King and Carl Wunsch
The Great Global Warming Swindle, Channel 4, 8 March 2007

This is a summary of adjudication by Ofcom, the communications regulator. It concerns 3 complaints about the programme The Great Global Warming Swindle, a documentary that challenged the scientific theory that man-made activities are a major cause of global warming.

Ofcom found the programme was unfair in a number of ways.

It made significant allegations about the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, questioning its scientific credibility, but failed to offer the IPCC a timely and appropriate opportunity to respond.

It unfairly attributed to the former government Chief Scientist, Sir David King, comments he had not made, and criticised him for them. It also failed to provide him with an opportunity to respond.

The programme makers did not properly explain the nature of the programme to one of its contributors, Professor Carl Wunsch, when he agreed to take part, and the broadcast unfairly implied that he had agreed with the premise of the programme.

For a full copy of the adjudications go to Ofcom’s website at

A little funny addendum to yesterdays post

A little extra on the piece of Severijnen on
I couldn't stop laughing.
Thanks to Grumbine for noticing.

Always check your sources : to Marcel Severijnen (Pielke Sr's guestlogger of today)

When i was in my second year of university, i remember going on a field trip to some institute ( i forgot which one). Being there, i asked a critical question about the reliability of a source someone was presenting me.

My professor, standing next to me said something i remember untill this very day : "above all, the thing we teach you at university is being critical. Even if that's the only thing we managed to learn you, we've still accomplished our mission".

Sadly, not everyone is seems to be critical enough. When participating in discussions on the internet (no matter what the subject is) there's something which has always struck me : the way people are handling their sources, it seems the rule is : if your source says what you want to hear, you can cite it. Checking the credibility of the source and checking if the thing your source says actually is correct, are thing which are illegal. Or at least so it seems.

Via today's guestlog on Pielke Sr's weblog i stumbled on a clear example of such a lack of criticism : the weblog of Marcel Severijnen (unfortunately it's in Dutch only)

In his second post, Severijnen is paying attention to a reconstruction made by Ernst-Georg Beck, who isn't probably the best person to cite if you want to have a scientifically correct conclusion (see p.ex. here, here & here)

In the same post, he links to Ferdinand Engelbeen, who was the chairman of chlorophiles, a lobbygroup of employees of the chlorine & PVC-industry.

The group was founded some 15 years ago as a response to the Greenpeace campaigns those days against PVC, which was in the news those days. Most belgian household waste is icinerated and in the middle of the 90's research showed the ovens released much more dioxins than previously expected. For Greenpeace, the chlorine in PVC was a suspect as a trigger in the formation of dioxins. Whatever what de reason was (i believe actually it's because of a 'de novo' synthesis) for the dioxins emitted, some ovens were shut down for a while to make adjustments, others were shut down completely. Just to say at the time it was a big issue in Belgium.

During that time, the Chlorophiles did some counter-manifestations (which in the back of my mind i remember being rather 'agressive' in the style of presenting their point of view) against Greenpeace and even wrote a book about the organisation which led to a court case, about which the chlorophiles website states this.
Just to be complete and not always stick to climate, as i thought it's interesting stuff for the Belgian readers, still the main target of this blog..

On the Severijnen blog meanwhile, two posts later Severijnen links to Joseph d'Aleo, another person from whom it is well known that his credentials are, err, "low" (p.e.x this post from last Sunday by Robert Grumbine).

I gave up reading any further.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Climate change and the human mind

On Coby Beck's blog i found a link to this must-see video of psychologist Dan Gilbert of Harvard University, who explains why our mind isn't able to respond properly on a threat like global warming.

Unlike the previous video, this one's a quicky, so it's not just material for freaks.

And here is the rest of it.

Frank Van Dun part 1 - pre-intro

Today i would like to start with the first post in a very long series :

my complete comments on two texts written by Belgian professor Philosophy of Law Frank Van Dun (FVD) titeld science vs consensus in which he criticizes the work of IPCC and a smaller piece in Dutch, written two months later, titled 'klimaathysterie en mediamanipulatie' ("climate hysteria & media-manipulation").

I've split the whole thing because of the lenght of the texts, and to give myself the time to write part-by-part. Remember i'm doing this in my free time.

Both texts contain a criticism which, at least in my opinion, says very little about IPCC or climate change, but a whole lotta 'bout the way of thinking of a sceptic. FvD makes a lot of fallacies someone with a degree in philosophy should not make.

In a certain way, the first text reminds me of the Freeman Dyson scepticism Michael Tobis recently commented about.

As both text were listed on FvD's personal university-webpage (*), i do consider them to be (non peer-review) publications and will comment and judge them that way.

edit : FvD's claims (correctly, i just noticed, the webpage does mention this ) that those texts are drafts and/or "occasional material". He also writes the text in english was a preparation for a closed discussion. I'm awaiting an answer wether he wants to debate this in public too. Which i think could be interesting.

(*) only later on the hosting was transferred to
actually the second text was transferred after i already made a quick forum rebuttal of it, on a forum read by half of the members I can only guess why thereafter they didn't mind to transfer material they know is flawed. Neither did Fvd (whom i sent an email to inform him about my response) find it necessary to make any changes in the piece before it was transferred.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Quote of the day

De ganse klimaatdiscussie heeft overigens weinig mobilisatiekracht want uiteindelijk ligt niemand er echt wakker van om binnen tientallen jaren in een iets warmer klimaat te wonen

in English :

Lijst Dedecker klimaatverandering
Besides, the entire climate discussion doesn't mobilize too many people, because basically nobody really minds living in a warmer climate in a couple of decades anyway.

A quote found on the website of the Belgian political party Lijst Dedecker (LDD) and something one doesn't expect to be part of a political program.

I am preparing a post on Jean-Marie Dedeckers vision on climate change, but couldn't resist mentioning this one already.

The subtitle the party uses ('gezond verstand') translates as the thing every scientist fears coming out of the mouth of the layman : the threath to use "common sense" !


Funny stonehenge humorOften, one hears people creating fantastic theories including extra-terrestrials or anti-gravity as an attempt to explain how our ancestors were able to build those impressive monuments like Stonehenge.

What I like about the picture is not just the fact it's funny (or at least i was amused by it), but also the fact it touches something deeper : the fact that monuments like Stonehenge had predecessors and that those impressive stone monuments did not come from scrap but have a history which now is hidden.

There's knowledge out there unknown by the general public that, in this case, can be found only by archeologists who are willing to dig and with the aid of their background will discover new things about the subject and make conclusions out of it that seem impossible at first glance. Sounds familiar, doesn't it ?

Talk on science communication

People following the climate blogs will definitely know Matt Nisbett and Chris Mooney, the last one being the author of the book The republican war on science.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

More on Lomborg

On the picture, Bjorn Lomborg is handing the book "30 plannen voor een beter Nederland" (30 plans for a better holland) to princess Maxima, wife of Dutch Crown Prince Willem-Alexander.

In this post, i wrote the Danish Comitee for Scientific Dishonesty judged Lomborgs book "the skeptical scientist" as scientifically dishonest.

A long and very nice round-up on Bjorn Lomborg and how he messes up things is being given on The Way Things Break blog. The text can be found here and simply is a must read !

For people wanting more there; The Danish Ecological Council published a 240 pages long rebuttal on his book the skeptical scientist which can be downloaded for free here

Quote of the week

Al Gore took care to ensure that Hansen’s testimony to Congress in the hot summer of 1988 was staged on a particularly hot day, for maximum political effect.

Yet another quote from Christopher Monckton.

no further comment.

It's not just climate science Monckton fails to understand correctly

The FalseClimate propaganda blog, (...) has launched a malevolent, scientifically-Lord Christopher Monckton illiterate, and unscientifically-ad-hominem attack on a publication by me
A quote from Chistopher Monckton in his text Chuck it again, Schmidt! which is a reply to NASA's Gavin Schmidt, who wrote a rebuttal of Monckton's APS-article on the RealClimate website. The post can be found here

Monckton says, in his rebuttal, he will "replace all comments by him (Schmidt) that are purely ad hominem with “+++”.

As an example, hereby Monckton's first claim about an ad-hominem attack :
Schmidt: "+++ ... the most egregious error is a completely arbitrary reduction by 66% of the radiative forcing due to CO2. He +++ justifies this with reference to tropical troposphere temperatures ..."

The part Monckton censored with "+++" as being an ad-hominem are the words :
"As Deltoid quickly noticed"

That's a little strange because that's not even close to an ad-hominem. Or is it ?

Did maybe deltoid place an ad-hominem attack, which by copying could be interpret as Schmidt placing an ad-hominem attack on Monckton ? Well, let's have a look to what was written on the deltoid blog. This is the part Schmidt is referring to :
But Lindzen (2007) (which was published in Energy and Environment rather than in a proper journal) does not say that CO2 radiative forcing is too high by a factor of three.
In fact, he specifically says that ΔF2x "is about 3.5 watts per square meter". As far as I can tell, Monckton has misunderstood this statement from Lindzen
Those who see the ad-hominem in those words are kindly asked to raise their hands and show it to me.

It does give the impression Monckton's bewildering quote is a result from simply not having a clue what an "ad-hominem" attack actually means. Which is a bit strange for a man who, according to his biography, read classics in Cambridge.

Further in his "rebuttal", Monckton basically claims global warming isn't a reality. And if it is, it doesn't matter anyway. My advice to Monckton would be : choose one point and stick to it. Now the man is defending two rather conflictuous opinions on one page. Which looks a bit silly

Monckton continues writing remarkable things :
It is regrettable that Schmidt neither has his blogs scientifically reviewed as thoroughly as my paper was
Remarkable, because APS clearly wrote a paragraph to make clear that Monckton's article
has not undergone any scientific peer review
in New Scientist; Al Saperstein, one of the editors of Physics & Society explains what the traject before publication was :
He stressed that that the article was not sent to anyone for peer-reviewing. Saperstein himself edited it. "I'm a little ticked off that some people have claimed that this was peer-reviewed," he said. "It was not."
Monckton's claim the paper was peer-reviewed simply is incorrect .

And, not surprisingly for anyone who everspoke with a climate change denier, Monckton ends his text with a complot theory.
Who funds FalseClimate and the blogs connected to it ?
Monckton writes those words on the SPPI-website, funded by exxon-money.
Which is an amusing detail.

The Viscount Miscounts (once again)

Christopher Monckton puzzleHaving a look to what's been going on in the climate change area while i was on holidays, it seems a lot of attention has been gone to the Newsletter of the American Physical Society (APS) in which they gave word to Christopher Monckton, an amateur contrarian with a long history of climate change denial based on poor science.

Once again, the viscount has been messing up things, have a look here, here, here, here and a beginning of what's to become a full analysis here

The APS states the publication of the Monckton piece was ment solemnly for the cause of debating the topic. The contrarian view was written by Monckton whom actually was the only one the editers could find to defend the contrarian view.

Because of the misrepresentation by denialists of the true meaning of the publication of Monckton's piece, the APS has been obliged to attach this memo to Monckton's post :

The following article has not undergone any scientific peer review, since that is not normal procedure for American Physical Society newsletters.

The American Physical Society reaffirms the following position on climate change, adopted by its governing body, the APS Council, on November 18, 2007: "Emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities are changing the atmosphere in ways that affect the Earth's climate."

APS clearly states that :
"The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring"

More interesting in my opinion is the other text which was presented in the APS newsletter, for it's something a lot of people with opinions seem to lack : a tutorial on the basic physics of climate change.

Knowledge of those basics would save a lot of comments about the topic, for a lot of people are proving nothing but their ignorance. Which is a pity.

Saturday, 2 August 2008

A whole lotta lobby

In this previous post I quoted a nice phrase demonstrating the tactics of the notorious Competitive Enterprise Institute. The CEI heavily defends the libertarian thought that all problems solve themselves, without the need of any government action.

The best way to reach this goal is to attack a possible government action, is to be close to the government and/or to have some control of the administration.

I posted before that there has been a conflict between politics and science in NASA where there was a political inspired attempt to mischaracterize climate change science.

Unfortunately yet non surprisingly, it's not just this one single case where such an attempt has been made.

Another fine example of how political beliefs can result in trying to silence science is the famous Philip Cooney case.

In the beginning of the decade, Cooney was a member of the Bush administration where he was appointed chief of staff of the Council on Environmental Quality, a division of the White House that coordinates federal natural environmental efforts in the US.
In June 2005, The New York Times published a memo internal to the CEQ which showed in 2002 and 2003 he had repeatedly edited government climate reports in order to play down links between emissions and global warming.

The New York Times reported that "In a section on the need for research into how warming might change water availability and flooding, he crossed out a paragraph describing the projected reduction of mountain glaciers and snowpack. Cooney's (a lawyer) note in the margins explained that this was 'straying from research strategy into speculative findings/musings.'

Cooney, who says he had been planning to resign for two years, resigned two days after the scandal broke "to spend more time with his family."
The very next day (!) he started working for Exxon.

Cooney's attempts to downbeat the results of scientific research weren't the work of a longe ranger :
in June 2002 memo Cooney received this memo from Myron Ebell who is the Director of Global Warming and International Environmental Policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI)

The memo is outlining the strategy for dealing with what Ebell saw as problems caused by the Climate Action Report 2002, which the US government had submitted to the UN. The crucial paragraph of this memo reads:

As I said, we made the decision this morning to do as much as we could to deflect criticism by blaming the EPA for freelancing. It seems to me that the folks at the EPA are the obvious fall guys, and we would only hope that the fall guy (or gal) should be as high up as possible.

I have done several interviews and have stressed that the president needs to get everyone rowing in the same direction. Perhaps tomorrow we will call for [Christine Todd Whitman] to be fired.

I know that that doesn't sound like much help, but it seems to me that our only leverage to push you in the right direction is to drive a wedge between the President and those in the Administration who think they are serving the president's best interests by publishing this rubbish.

Ebell was also member of the team that wrote the quote in my previous blogpost, which was extracted from another internal memo from the American Petroleum Institute.

A longer extract gives better insight in how climate change "scepticism" is very well orchestrated :
Victory Will Be Achieved When
* Average citizens "understand" (recognize) uncertainties in climate science; recognition of uncertainties becomes part of the "conventional wisdom"
* Media "understands" (recognizes) uncertainties in climate science
* Media coverage reflects balance on climate science and recognition of the validity of viewpoints that challenge the current "conventional wisdom"
* Industry senior leadership understands uncertainties in climate science, making them stronger ambassadors to theose who shape climate policy
* Those promoting the Kyoto treaty on the basis of extant science appears to be out of touch with reality.

Do notice that the description below is labeled "strategies and tactics". There's absolutely no doubt there's a bigger plan in how they are trying to mess up science.

Strategies and Tactics
I. National Media Relations Program: Develop and implement a national media relations program to inform the media about uncertainties in climate science; to generate national, regional and local media coverage on the scientific uncertainties, and thereby educate and inform the public, stimulating them to raise questions with policy makers.
Tactics: These tactics will be undertaken between now and the next climate meeting in Buenos Aires/Argentina, in November 1998, and will be continued thereafter, as appropriate. Activities will be launched as soon as the plan is approved, funding obtained, and the necessary resources (e.g., public relations counsel) arranged and deployed. In all cases, tactical implementation will be fully integrated with other elements of this action plan, most especially Strategy II (National Climate Science Data Center).
Identify, recruit and train a team of five independent scientists to participate in media outreach. These will be individuals who do not have a long history of visibility and/or participation in the climate change debate. Rather, this team will consist of new faces who will add their voices to those recognized scientists who already are vocal.
* Develop a global climate science information kit for media including peer-reviewed papers that undercut the "conventional wisdom"on climate science. This kit also will include understandable communications, including simple fact sheets that present scientific uncertainties in language that the media and public can understand.
* Conduct briefings by media-trained scientists for science writers in the top 20 media markets, using the information kits. Distribute the information kits to daily newspapers nationwide with offer of scientists to brief reporters at each paper. Develop, disseminate radio news releases featuring scientists nationwide, and offer scientists to appear on radio talk shows across the country.
* Produce, distribute a steady stream of climate science information via facsimile and e-mail to science writers around the country.
* Produce, distribute via syndicate and directly to newspapers nationwide a steady stream of op-ed columns and letters to the editor authored by scientists.
* Convince one of the major news national TV journalists (e.g., John Stossel ) to produce a report examining the scientific underpinnings of the Kyoto treaty.
* Organize, promote and conduct through grassroots organizations a series of campus/community workshops/debates on climate science in 10 most important states during the period mid-August through October, 1998.
* Consider advertising the scientific uncertainties in select markets to support national, regional and local (e.g., workshops / debates), as appropriate.

The available budget for reaching this target : 5.000.000 $

That's a whole lotta money.

Certainly enough money to conduct a lot of scientific research.

Here's the 'surprising' thing : the combined forces of all sceptics never managed to publish a single serious scientific paper in which they were able to demonstrate climate science (or a piece of it) was wrong.

This overwhelming silence on the scientific front certainly isn't a result of lack of funding to conduct "sceptical" research, so there must be another reason why they aren't able to prove their case.

Anyone wants to make a guess ?