Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Cherry picking the use of language.....

In the interesting House Committee on Oversight hearing and a discussion about has broken out on Real Climate, Gristmill and places west. Ethon, flew in carrying Prometheus (the bird has direct Boulder-DC flights and a good frequent flayer plan), told Eli to look at a use of language illustrating the care that some take and the traps that others fall into. On page 9 of P's testimony we read

A memorandum providing background to this hearing prepared 26 January 2007 by the majority staff of the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight illustrates the cherry picking of science (reproduced in Figure 1). Cherry picking literally mean “take the best, leave the rest.”
Here we have the set up, a literal but never used interpretation of a common idiom. As the Wikipedia says
cherry picking is used metaphorically to indicate the act of pointing at individual cases which seem to confirm a particular position, while ignoring a significant portion of related cases that may contradict that position....
Among the cherries is the basic science on global warming, After some discussion of a Committee staff document which references papers by Emmanuel, Webster, et al. and the WMO consensus statement at the bottom of the page comes the hammer
The hearing background memorandum is absolutely correct when it asserts that “recently published studies have suggested that the impacts [of global warming] include increases in the intensity of hurricanes and tropical storms.” But this selective reporting does not tell the whole story either. Such cherry picking and misrepresentations of science are endemic in political discussions involving science.
Note the smoothness with which this was done. Eli forget that cherry picking is picking the best of the fruit, did you?

BTW, Steve Bloom pretty much nailed the WMO statement in the comments on P's blog
It was an exercise in statementism, pure and simple. Just as with last year's statement, it's simply an agreement that people shouldn't yell at each other in public until after the next round of papers and in particular up through the release of the AR4 WG1 report
His host was not pleased.

UPDATE: How Prometheus compared Phil Cooney's editing and the Oversight Committee staff document has become a point of contention, especially at Chris Mooney's Intersection. Rather than engage in a parsing fest, Eli went and listened to the testimony on CSPAN (caution, RealPlayer Link). If you advance the slider to 2:47, Rep Welch questions Pro about the comparison that Pielke made in his written testimony. If you have 12 or so minutes listen to the whole thing, including at ~2:56 where Shindell tells the Congressman that Pro is wrong about the meaning of the WMO statement on hurricanes. At 2:57 this is followed by a direct question from Welch to Pro about whether the Committee memo is equivalent to Clooney's editing. Pielke responds: Not much difference, no.

Pielke is a serial defender of Cooney in any case, stretching a lot of cases.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

As the last doors in the Exxon AR4 Advent Calendar open...

Rabett Run brings you the latest in Push Your Ears Over Your Eyes stylings.

Three-monkey relief carving (hear nothing about climate change, see nothing about climate change,
speak about no climate change) on Shinkyusha. Nikko, Japan

The cute little anonymice tracked a bunch of shredded Denialist Institute paper into the burrow. We washed the dears off so they wouldn't take ill. Turns out the Exxon orcs want to play grown up climatologist. Hunkering down in MobilMordor, they added, subtracted, omitted and, well, bent, a copy of the draft AR4 into a Summary for Making Bad Policy (SMBP). They gonna make the IPCC toe the line or at least get their names into the Wall Street Journal editorial page. The bunnies spent the weekend putting the pieces together but the tears of laughter turned the stuff to paper mache.

Technically this is known as a tease but Wabbit gonna play Global Climate Denialist bingo with this sucker soon as it dries out. We got the corners nailed, but after reading the SMBP it struck the Snark Board that it needed an update. So here is the new updated playing card. Feel free to suggest new links, find mistakes, change stuff. Effete cheating is encouraged. Stay tuned. (% means new, * means slightly used, most of the links (#) are updated and we still have the problem that the blogger gods push the table down a number of lines.)

%Local land use changes dominate # #
%Glaciers/ice caps are not melting. If they are it has nothing to do with global warming # #%Sea levels are not rising # #The IPCC
summary for policy makers does not reflect the body of the report #
%Global temperatures have not increased since 1998 #%The surface record is worthless #Ice cores show that warming precedes increases in C02 #%No change in cyclone intensity. Even if there were it wouldn’t matter #
%Climate is so complex, we can’t know anything #Satellites
show no warming # #
%The sun has caused all the observed changes #
or cosmic rays #
*Climate modeling isn’t useful #
Urban Heat
Islands contaminate the surface record #
All can be explained by natural variability #
% Aerosols effects are poorly known. We can’t say anything #The “Hockey
Stick” is broken. #

1/31 for those of you anxious to play, you can get your info over at deSmogBlog. They have the SMBP, a set of SMBP playing cards and more. Real Climate has put up a post on what they call the Incorrect Summary for Policy Makers. Has a nice ring to it.

Monday, January 29, 2007

New nukes in the US

The Tennessee Valley Authority announced today that it will seek licenses for two new nuclear plants

This year, TVA directors say they will submit an application to build two new reactors under the government's new streamlined licensing process. They also plan to restart TVA's oldest nuclear reactor after a 22-year shutdown, and by August they expect to decide whether to spend up to $2 billion to complete the unfinished Unit 2 reactor at Watts Bar Nuclear Power Plant.
Someone knows how to add

Sunday, January 28, 2007

The fox, the hedgehog and the spherical elephant...

Roger Pielke Sr. has a thing for land use. He believes that it is a much more important forcing than greenhouse gases. Frankly, he also believes that anything else is a much more important forcing, but, dear readers, that need not concern us here. Eli constantly interjects that pushing land use to the fore requires one to ignore a number of facts among which are that land use CHANGES contribute both positive and negative forcings. To first order it is the sum the International Panel on Coney Cuteness is seeking, plus which there isn't that much land to start with, and the amount is decreasing as sea levels rise. There are many ways that land use can affect climate, and it certainly is a huge driver of local climate, but greenhouse gases increases drive the global climate uniformly in one direction.

This difference reappears continually, both in science and art. Physicists are hedgehogs, everything is spherical, including elephants and there are but a few basic "truths", aka theories. Some physicists believe there is only one true theory that binds them all. For biologists, at least until recently, every one of a zillion things is different and must be sniffed. Cladisitics, the naming and description of things is basic. Eli trained as a physicist and wandered into chemistry as a young and clueless postdoc.

This dichotomy, most famously explored by Isaiah Berlin (pronounced eye-Zie-uh) and posthumously by Stephen J. Gould, is described in a great and entertaining speech/essay by John Kihlstrom

Archiolus: "The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing". At one level, this aphorism reflects the difference between the fox, with lots of resources at its command, and the hedgehog, with only a single, but highly effective, defense against them. But there is probably more to it than that, as Berlin made clear in his essay:
Taken figuratively, the words can be made to yield a sense in which they mark one of the deepest differences which divide writers and thinkers, and, it may be, human beings in general. For there exists a great chasm between those, on one side, who relate everything to a single central vision, one system, less or more coherent or articulate, in terms of which they understand, think and feel – a single, universal, organising principle in terms of which alone all that they are and say has significance – and, on the other side, those who pursue many ends, often unrelated and even contradictory, connected, if at all, only in some de facto way, for some psychological or physiological cause, related to no moral or aesthetic principle. These last lead lives, perform acts and entertain ideas that are centrifugal rather than centripetal; their thought is scattered or diffused, moving on many levels, seizing upon the essence of a vast variety of experiences and objects for what they are in themselves, without, consciously or unconsciously, seeking to fit them into, or exclude them from, any one unchanging, all-embracing, sometimes self-contradictory and incomplete, at times fanatical, unitary inner vision (p. 436-437.
Adopting a simile first propounded by the drunkard Christopher Hitchens in Slate, there are those like Chilingar and Khilyuk who are neither foxes nor hedgehogs but simply as dumb as stumps, but here Roger is a fox, and Eli is a hedgehog. Still, in contrast to Isaiah Berlin (pronouned eye-Zie-uh), the noble hare would consider himself a hedgehog with fox like tendencies (RTFR), a somewhat isolating predilection for a bunny.

BOE is back of the envelope, something we used to do on old Publisher's Clearinghouse mailings by the embers of the fire back in the burrow. Let us take a first cut at calculating the intensity of forcing from land use changes necessary to match that from greenhouse gas (GHG) forcing. this is going to be a very rough first cut, which will be improved with time, however, there is a benefit in putting down the rough version first and then polishing it.

We can get the GHG forcing from the IPCC TAR, 2.43 W/m^2[10% uncertainty] with 1.46 W/m^2 from CO2. The same source puts land use change forcing at -0.20 W/m^2 with the vast majority of the change in the northern hemisphere, but this is very rough, including mostly albedo changes, but not a host of other potential causes. We will return to this, or rather I expect Roger to do so here or there.

To do the calculation, we first need the total surface area of the earth. According to the physicist's spherical elephant code, as a rough estimate, one could take the radius, and use 4 pi r^2. Using a radius of 6371 km, this gives a surface area of 5.098 x108 km2 . We would then estimate 2/3 of this is ocean, leaving a land area of 1.699x108 km2 .

A biologist would name each square meter and add up all the Tom, Dicks and Rogers. But we have the Internet, and a bit of googling finds that the land area of the earth is 148.847 x 106 km2 and the sea area is 361.254x106 km2. Turns out that comes from the Chemical Rubber Company Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, something no Rabett hole should be without.

The total surface area is 5.10101 x108 km2. Since 1 km = 1000 m, a km2 has 1 x106 m2 that is 5.10101 x 1014 m2 and the total greenhouse gas forcing is Area x forcing = 1.240 x 1015 W. The surface area of the oceans is about 71% of the total surface area of the earth. Even if land use had changed over every square meter of the earth, the forcing due to land use would have to be 3.4 times that due to greenhouse gases or 8.33 W/m^2, but this is no where near the case.

True, urban areas have grown. For example in the US, urban areas went from 25,500,000 acres in 1960 to 59,587,000 in 2002. But the total land area in the US is 2,263,962,000, so even in 2002, the fraction of land in urban areas is 2.5% . Cropland changed from 341 million acres to 337 in 2005. Moreover all the changes are not in the same direction. There is lots of land in the world's deserts. While some deserts have grown, others have not, and dryland like the Sahel cycles between wet and dry. Let us be generous and assume there is a 20% change in the use of land over the past 50 years and that all of the changes associated with land use were positive. In that case, EACH m^2 of the land would have to be associated with a forcing of over 40 W/m^2. Hold your hand on a 40 W electric bulb (Mom Rabett won't use anything over 20. Here at Rabetts end we are safe, but blind).

We can improve this with improved land use data. Eli will look for it. He can find information on the US, but oom (order of magnitude. Oooom aids meditation, oooom pah pah is satisfying.), while land use is an important driver of climate, it does not look reasonable to call it the driver.
Remember, the IPCC TAR estimates TOTAL land use forcing as -0.20 W/m^2 with about the same uncertainty. Guess why.

UPDATE: The Pig wants to see the forcings:

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Thumb sucking....

In the noble tradition of ear twirling while we wait, Eli wonders what will leak out of the closed room where the Technical Summaries and Summary for Policymakers are being drafted and reconciled with the Working Group Reports for the Fourth Assessment Report. Already alarms are being raised in alarmed circles about this process, but the remarkable thing is that for the Third Assessment Report, very little leaked. However we do recall that the IPCC did publish tables of changes that were made

For Ben

Tim Lambert at Deltoid has a love affair with John Lott. Recently he posted on More Guns, More Homicide, a study of the obvious. This brought out the local gun nut seeking to defend us all against the Russkis.

(Not to cast pearls before swine)

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Mr. Rabett goes to DC...

Eli would like to thank all those who wrote to Senator Barbara Boxer about the US Senate Environment and Public Works blog that Marc Morano was writing. Eli's letter pointed out that it was being written by a staffer, and was certainly not representative of the majority position (Eli can be a VERY serious bunny when needed). While the minority Republicans had a right to have a blog the blog should be labelled as a minority blog, perhaps just senator Inhofe's blog. He got back a form letter saying that Senator Boxer is snowed under and only reads California Email... but guess what folks...

It's now called the "Inhofe EPW Press Blog" It was renamed a couple of days ago, and even got a hi there from the Wall Street Journal.

As the former Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Republican Jim Inhofe was a coruscating critic of climate change alarmism. Now in the minority, he plans to make sure his voice is heard over the din of the media-savvy environmental groups through a new blog.
Send a thank you to Senator Boxer.

And out to Washington...

The cross-country bunnies have told Eli that the Federal Way, An Inconvenient Truth ban has been lifted. Gristmill has that story pointing to an article in the Seattle Times which says:

The Federal Way School Board lifted its two-week moratorium on the global-warming film "An Inconvenient Truth" on Tuesday, but that did not entirely quiet a controversy board members said had spun out of control in recent weeks.

and adds
The board on Jan. 9 declared a moratorium on classroom showings pending a report from district Superintendent Tom Murphy on whether teachers were following district policies on showing movies and presenting controversial materials.
with some backside cover

The board's decision to issue a moratorium was widely misunderstood in blogs and some media reports as a ban on the film. Board members received a flood of e-mail from across the country, most in opposition to their decision, and many containing personal attacks.

"This entire chain of events demonstrates how crucial it is for us all to make judgments after we hear all of the facts, not just what we initially read, hear or watch," said board member Dave Larson, reading from a four-page letter to the community.

However, the Post-Intelligencer which first broke the story has it a bit different
Federal Way Superintendent Tom Murphy said the film has been shown at three high schools. In each case, additional information was presented questioning some of the movie's claims.
Eli knows some furry folk who would have volunteered for that and done a decent job, but unfortunately he rather suspects they brought in Khilyuk and Chilinger to do the honors. He also suspects that there may be a new board in a year or so, when the citizenry raises itself from the usual torpor to toss the current one out.

And back to DC with the Post Intelligencer on the NSTA

This fall, the debate over "An Inconvenient Truth" as an educational tool flared up when the National Science Teachers Association chose not to send its members free copies of the movie provided by the documentary's producers....

Kate Meyer, spokeswoman for the Arlington, Va., teachers group, said a 2001 policy forbids dispersal of material that the group hasn't created or helped create.

"We were fully willing to help publicize the availability of that film," she said. "We just couldn't send it to our members."

Of course this does not include NSTA's 2003 distribution of a Conoco Phillips video, their teaming up with Exxon to distribute anti-environmental regualtion curricula materials, the "Can't be cool without fuel", and of course, the recent clensing of their website of petroleum industry propaganda. Still, we have a bit of progress here...

The group, which provides educational resources to teachers, has a prominent link to the documentary on its Web page.

Asked if she knew of resources for teaching the opposing view to manmade climate change or its damaging effects, Meyer drew a blank.

"I wouldn't even know where to find someone, to be honest."

They could look at their old web site, of course

Now, Eli is not so proud of his ears that he would have anyone think that this was due to the power of the 105,628 th and sinking most important blog (right, wanna bet? grateful for the links we are), but thanks for the thought. Blogs, including those on our blogroll are alerting folk to provocations, the news is spreading and the response is limiting damage, might even be helping. The kitchen is heating up faster than the Arctic.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Gut check...

There has been an interesting many blog and forth about guts and glory in climate science. It started (as much as Eli can say anything like this started somewhere) with Dave Roberts commenting on Andy Revkin's attempt at High Broderism. Reflecting on this Dave opined

Yes, we have to leave science to the scientists. But science is not a priesthood that can or should impose quietude on the rest of us. Our informed gut feelings about how things will turn out are legitimate. People make statements beyond what's strictly supported by the peer-reviewed evidence all the time. For some reason, internet wonks seem to hold public advocacy on global warming to a strangely prudish set of standards. We don't impose these kinds of strictures in other areas.
John Fleck responded with his own post and an interesting discussion broke out at Inkstain, Gristmill and now Brian Schmidt at Backseat Driving has added another viewpoint.

The bloggers and blogees, with various degrees of hubris and formalism go back and forth on how one can rely on "gut" feeling and still claim a scientific basis. There is the usual parsing about separating what we know to be stone cold silly, and stuff on the edges of probability. Eli has a slightly different experience of this issue, which he expressed to John and Dave in the comments on Gristmill:
However, you and Dave have raised the issue of the "informed gut". I worked for two guys who could not explain 2+2 = 4 to anyone, but KNEW exactly what was important to work on. I know that the trick is to figure out who has the "informed gut" and who just has a stomach ache. You cannot decouple previous performance from the gut issue.
A friend of mine put it this way. Whenever he has a problem, he goes to two of his colleagues. One of them, a Nobel Prize winner no less, always gives him the wrong answer for the right reason. The second, also an eminent chemist, gives him the right answer but for the wrong reason.
A nice illustration is found in Jim Hansen's review of An Inconvenient Truth:
I did not hear from Gore for more than a decade, until January of this year, when he asked me to critically assess his slide show. When we met, he said that he "wanted to apologize," but, without letting him explain what he was apologizing for, I said, "Your insight was better than mine."
Indeed, Gore was prescient. For decades he has maintained that the Earth was teetering in the balance, even when doing so subjected him to ridicule from other politicians and cost him votes.
Knowing when you have such a treasure is the most important thing, because, indeed it is easy to make fun of. Again Hansen:
An Inconvenient Truth is about Gore himself as well as global warming. It shows the man that I met in the 1980s at scientific roundtable discussions, passionate and knowledgeable, true to the message he has delivered for years. It makes one wonder whether the American public has not been deceived by the distorted images of him that have been presented by the press and television. Perhaps the country came close to having the leadership it needed to deal with a grave threat to the planet, but did not realize it.
The key is not so much what is being said as who is saying it and whether their guts level thoughts have checked out in the past. Jim Hansen, for example, has a good gut, Fred Singer, he's double zero.

Don't mess with the bunny....

UFO Breakfast Recipients notes that

Not many people know this, but Farmer MacGregor was a global warming denialist. He got his, however, at the paws of a fierce, badass rabbit.

For some time now the pensive Rabett has pointed out that neither adaptation nor mitigation alone can meet the existential threat of climate change. While not of the sort that thinks life will vanish from the Earth, he sees a threat to our societies, and recognizes that when the burrow caves in a lot of bunnies go into the cooking pot. It is, as they say, a time of great unpleasantness.

Farmer MacGregor was swimming in cash from Exxon/Mobil, fat and unwary. His suffering was terrible, or so one might think from the amount of noise he made.

Among other things you can find information on squirrel venom and other consumables over there. The commenters are another issue, with one of them calling King Eli a queen and the other recommending bunny burger. Bunny burgers?
In April 1992 Spy magazine published an article in which they described an amusing hoax. They opened a Bunny Burger store where customers would choose a live bunny from a cage and then it would be taken in back to be ground into a custom burger. (This was a few years before the popular press picked up on the rat restaurants in China which really do this, but with rats.)
Eli understands that several franchises were purchased in Colorado, showing admirable anticipation and poor investment planning, but alas, Bunny Burgers is no longer in business, nor is Farmer MacGregor. Don't mess with the Bunny

To a non-lagomorph, the whole thing is hilarious go read. We at Bunnies End are cleaning out the Elmer Fudd trophy case.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Thomas Knutson is a very dangerous guy...

A while ago Eli pointed to a 2005 article by Thomas Knutson and Robert Tulyea on hurricane modeling as an example of fine climate snark

Michaels et al. (2005, hereafter MKL) recall the question of Ellsaesser: “Should we trust models or observations?” In reply we note that if we had observations of the future, we obviously would trust them more than models, but unfortunately observations of the future are not available at this time.
the Kappa and the Lambda being Knappenberger and Landsea. But this, dear friends was but a small beginning. The subject was whether CO2 forcing would change the nature and frequency of hurricanes and how climate models could be brought to bear on the question, you are free to guess who took the affirmative.

While the comment itself and the underlying papers (curl up with a good journal and rtfr dear bunnies) are interesting in and of themselves, and more usefully as background to the current hurricane wars (other papers on the subject by Knutsen are also good) Eli came back to this in answer to some back and forth on Roger Pielke Sr.'s blog. Roger, Sr. has both a certain style, and a bunch of obsessions, but he also tends to force the cards, looking at only one side of the equation. In commenting on Michaels, Knappenberger and Landsea (MKL), Knutson and Tulyea pretty much spot the pea under the shell:
In contrast to Michaels et al., who exclusively emphasize uncertainties that lead to smaller future changes, uncertainties are noted that could lead to either smaller or larger changes in future intensities of hurricanes than those summarized in the original study, with accompany in smaller or larger societal impacts.
As in
We noted in KT04 that there is uncertainty concerning future changes in atmospheric temperature profiles and other factors such as vertical wind shear, which could affect storm intensities. In contrast to MKL, who evidently believe that these factors will change in such as way as to oppose future SST-driven intensity increases, we note that these factors could change in ways that either reduce or enhance the increases of intensities that we simulate. Uncertainties such as these are a “two-edged sword”—not the panacea envisioned by MKL.
MKL are not very impressed by models
MKL contend that the model used in KT04 has no intensity forecasting skill and therefore is of limited utility in studies of future climate change impacts on hurricane intensity. In doing so, they fail to recognize the important distinction between the operational hurricane forecasting problem (a classical initial value problem) and the boundary value problem addressed in KT04, where one is concerned with the maximum hurricane intensity that is possible for a given set of largescale environmental conditions (i.e., a climatological or statistical distribution of maximum intensities).
Eli notes that this confusion about the nature of boundary value problems and model skill appears endemic to the Eastern Slope of Colorado

Knutson and Tulyea end with a crescendo
MKL propose to adopt what appears to be a plausible but low-end scenario of future radiative forcing, whereas Houghton et al. (2001) indicates that even stronger radiative forcing scenarios than we use in KT04 are also plausible. MKL present a flawed SST– intensity regression analysis comparing correlations of real-world intensities versus SST with idealized model correlations where no synoptic weather variability is present. Interestingly, their noisy regression (slope) results hint at a much greater sensitivity of hurricane intensity to SST than our simulations.....

The Cullen Conundrum

Andrew Freedman at has perhaps the best comment on the whoo hah (kerflufle, todo, whatever are much too respectful) surrounding Heidi Cullen's comments on the fluffy TV weather guys:

The issue with TV meteorologists is whether the scientific society that accredits them to represent the science of meteorology to the public should certify that those science communicators have knowledge of climate science and are able to communicate this science. It would be up to the AMS to determine what climate science knowledge would be required.
At the bottom...
With the designation as an AMS certified TV meteorologist comes a responsibility to understand and communicate scientific information, not politically-motivated pseudo scientific viewpoints. And that's exactly what many TV meteorologists adhere to concerning climate change.....
Secondly, and more importantly, the reaction against Cullen is an attack on the press in general, and is part of a concerted effort by Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and friends to smear the media for reporting on climate change.
Capital Weather is a VERY popular blog whose reason d'etre is the weather in Washington, DC. Go rtfr and think about adding them to the blogroll.

Hide the have been warned.

On occasion one comes upon an apt description (one that Eli aspires toward). The Delicious Pundit described Rabett Run as

and that was one of our sunnier moments.

Advertisements for themselves....

Sir Oolius returns from a brief hiatus with dispiriting catch from the Houston Chronicle being sucked into the Vranes undertow.

Climate scientists feeling the heat
As public debate deals in absolutes, some experts fear predictions 'have created a monster' by Eric Berger.
UPDATE: Indeed, this had been spotted by Andrew Sipocz in the comments to another post. But since Eli's policy is that reading his own blog is playing with his ears in public, he foolishly did not read Andrew before posting. Silly Rabett.

The article itself is not a bad one (read it), pointing out that most climate scientists don't feel the heat, but of course the last word is had by, Ethon's snack in Boulder

"I can understand how a scientist without tenure can feel the community pressures," says environmental scientist Roger Pielke Jr., a colleague of Vranes' at the University of Colorado.

Pielke says he has felt pressure from his peers: A prominent scientist angrily accused him of being a skeptic, and a scientific journal editor asked him to "dampen" the message of a peer-reviewed paper to derail skeptics and business interests.

"The case for action on climate science, both for energy policy and adaptation, is overwhelming," Pielke says. "But if we oversell the science, our credibility is at stake."

How hard do you think they worked to place this gem. That is, of course, their business. If you are in public policy, you want the policy makers to notice you and think you are top o' the heap. The story, as a piece of whole cloth has been commented on many places, including the Rabett patch, Deltoid, and Andrew Dessler at Gristmill. Read the whole story at Coeruleus and then the article, and you might drop Eric a note on his blog, that he has been taken in by the Boulder Public Relations Group.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Why the NSTA matters.....

There has been considerable controversy about the US National Science Teachers Association refusing to distribute free copies of An Inconvenient Truth to its members. Ray Pierrehumbert at Real Climate is in fine fettle.** The casual observer might describe him as pissed off and thus slightly impatient from which Eli concludes that everyone has his limits and NSTA has found Ray's.

But beyond this is an important truth that Eli has located in (of all things) a Washington Times article

Gerry Wheeler, executive director of the National Science Teachers Association, said his group worked with science-textbook providers to provide codes throughout the text that students and teachers can plug into a Web site to access a list of NSTA-vetted Web sites on particular topics. The links are now in about 85 percent of science textbooks, he said.
NSTA provides vetting for textbook publishers. Whose science are they approving, the denialists, Western Coal or the NRC and IPCC? Who do they go to for advice? The question is open. The Rabett Society for Better Education, on the other hand, views this as an opportunity, a J-bar as it were, to try and lift the level of information available to teachers and students. For example, asking NSTA to link Real Climate and other appropriate materials (including David Archer's textbook) into the NSTA site and textbooks. Better teaching for better bunnies.

** Copyright HE Taylor

Adapt and die....

For some time now the pensive Rabett has pointed out that neither adaptation nor mitigation alone can meet the existential threat of climate change. While not of the sort that thinks life will vanish from the Earth, he sees a threat to our societies, and recognizes that when the burrow caves in a lot of bunnies go into the cooking pot. It is, as they say, a time of great unpleasantness.

Net noodling this morning Eli came across a 25 July article by Dave Roberts on Gristmill. Dave observes that

A few days ago Roger Pielke Jr. pointed to a paper (PDF) by Tim Dyson of the London School of Economics called "On development, demography and climate change: The end of the world as we know it?" Pielke called it "refreshingly clear thinking on climate change." That's true, if by "refreshingly clear" he means "weep- silently- aplogize- to- your- children- and- throw- yourself- out- a- window depressing." Abandon hope, all ye who download PDF here.
Dyson's thesis is that life was pretty scummy back in the 18th century, and it is only by harnessing fossil fuels that we have climbed out of the hole. We have no clue about how to replace fossil fuels. Therefore we will continue burning them. Then there will be significant and very unpleasant climate changes. According to Dyson, as usual, our response will be too little, too late
Finally, the paper argues that human experience of other difficult 'long wave' threats (e.g. HIV/AIDS) reveals a broadly analogous sequence of reactions. In short: (i) scientific understanding advances rapidly, but (ii) avoidance, denial, and reproach characterize the overall societal response, therefore, (iii) there is relatively little behavioral change, until (iv) evidence of damage becomes plain. Apropos carbon emissions and climate change, however, it is argued here that not only is major behavioral change unlikely in the foreseeable future, but it probably wouldn't make much difference even were it to occur.
The paper is linked at both Gristmill and Prometheus, so go there for the rest of the comments and context.

Eli apologizes to Dave for having missed this, but he was vacating at the time and had to sneak out from under Ms. Rabett's steely gaze to get to a computer cafe in the seedy areas of strange towns.

Eli is exceedingly cross with Ethon for not bringing this up on one of his frequent visits for milk and liver cookies.

Eli also apologizes to Roger for thinking that Roger was advocating a strategy of adapt and prosper.

The Mighty Wurlitzer.....

As we approach the IPCC's release of the fourth Assessment Report the animals in the woods are stirring. Among the news of the week is that

  • Marc Morano, a nasty piece of work, formerly Rush Limbaugh's man in Washington, and now Mother Inhofe's little helper starts a blog on the US Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee web page in late December 06, the first posts appearing in early January.
  • On the 17th he posts about a posting on the Weather Channel Blog on his MySpace page
  • Morano puts an extended rant up on his own MySpace blog on the 18 January and on the Senate Environment Works page 19 January
  • The posting is by Hedi Cullen, a climatologist who works for the Weather Channel on global change issues. It appeared 21 December 06. Cullen notes that the American Meteorological Society has issued a policy statement on climate change
    "There is convincing evidence that since the industrial revolution, human activities, resulting in increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases and other trace constituents in the atmosphere, have become a major agent of climate change."
and adds
I'd like to take that suggestion a step further. If a meteorologist has an AMS Seal of Approval, which is used to confer legitimacy to TV meteorologists, then meteorologists have a responsibility to truly educate themselves on the science of global warming. (One good resource if you don't have a lot of time is the Pew Center's Climate Change 101.)

Responses kind of perk along at 3 a day until the 9 Jan when it gets blogged about in Sister Todjah and begins to spread slowly among the right wing blogs in the US, only to explode when posted by Morano. There are now 93 links.
UPDATE: A weather TV show personality in Alabama by the name of James Spann also posted on this up on the 18th and it was picked up by Drudge.

Other than directing anyone with a losing Global Warming Denialist Bingo** card to the comments in these posts if they want to win, Eli merely notes that Cullen was perhaps a bit off. What AMS has to do is to set requirements for accreditation based on what is taught about climate and climate change.

UPDATE: For some more links this 19th December post by Richard Littlemore. In about three hours the number of linking posts to the Weather Channel has increased by 10 to 103. The number of links to the Wurlitzer's keys (Morano's post) is 213 as if 13:15 EST US. Sorting by "authority" in Technorati gives you an picture of the food chain. This is indeed the devil's work for idle hands. Go out there and shop people!

UPDATE^2: Deltoid has more links, and is not happy with the good Morano either. Eli muses that Morano's blog is masquerading as US Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee Blog. With Inhofe no longer the Chair, the Rabett modestly suggests that US citizens write to the Chair, Barbara Boxer (CA-Dem) asking that Mr. Morano retitle his blog, perhaps, Dumber than a Sack Full of Hammers Denialist EPW Blog. We need something catchy here folk the Rabett is taking this personally and needs some distance. A few Emails from CA would be of great help. The other members of the Committee can be found here. Feel free to drop them a note. Yr humble hare intends to.

**(ok Tim Eli changed the name, but we have moved on since then, and what could be, with a stretch, called scepticism then is denialism now)

Monday, January 15, 2007

Our elders tell us that our earth is getting old and needs to be replaced by a new one

[Jerry Wongittilin, Sr., St. Lawrence Island, 2000]. The Arctic is changing rapidly. The combination of sea level rise, ice extent decline, earlier melting and later appearance, warming permafrost and more has begun to destroy the land and the culture of those who live there. If the Arctic is the early warning for the earth, Shishmaref may be the poster child for the Arctic.
This small village on a sandspit facing the Arctic ocean is disappearing to erosion, losing 23 feet of shoreline per year since 2001. The cost of moving the village of ~600 people would approach 200 million. Adaptation is expensive. This is described in Science

While the erosion and structural damage are plainly visible, village elders described how the rising seas are putting their culture at risk, too. The Inupiaq people have lived here for some 4,000 years, subsisting on the bounty of nearby seas, rivers, and fields, but now animal and bird migration patterns are changing. Even the ice is different.
When Mayor Stanley Tocktoo was a boy, the mid-winter ice was mainly blue, which meant it was thick and solid. "Nowadays," he said, "we go out a couple of miles, you have this creamy-looking ice and dark-looking ice, which is very thin and unstable."
While village leaders are working on an ambitious—and expensive—effort to relocate the entire community to the mainland nearby, Shishmaref schoolchildren as young as five are learning about the shift in the climate that will change their lives.
"I don't believe there's an age that they're too young to study climate change," said science teacher Ken Stenek. "These kids are our future. They're our future leaders. And as this community prepares to relocate, these kids are the ones that are going to be a major part of that."
As part of its February 15-19 National Meeting in San Francisco AAAS will feature a session on Communicating and Learning About Global Climate Change for teachers and students on the 18th. A central part of this half day session will be a video describing the situation of this village, its people, the Arctic and Arctic dwelling peoples.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

The Stern gang

Eli has noted that there are many useful resources about the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, and what is needed is a linked index so that others may enjoy the fulminious debate. This should be regards as a work in progress. Initially we have not included links to blogs or perhaps the most tendacious of comments.

Stern himself:

Important supplementary material
UPDATED: 1/24/07 shown in red, this will be added to over the weekend

UPDATED: 7/27/07 Some more links and comments at The Stern Gang Rides Again. The argument has not advanced much.

UPDATED: 12/27/07 Additional material at Sternly He Said

Short papers by economists on the Review (Adobe Acrobat files except where noted)
Economics Blogs
** means it's just a stub linking to other stuff but the comments may be interesting

Brad DeLong
12/30 The Stern Review on Global Climate Change Once Again
12/18 Do Unto Others...**
12/07 Applied Utilitarianism and Global Climate Change (reply^2 to 11/30)
11/30 Partha Dasgupta Makes a Mistake in His Critique of the Stern Review

Economists View
12/14 Varian: Recalculating the Costs of Global Climate Change
11/10 I'll Take a Little of That Global Warming
11/1 The Politics Behind the Stern Report
10/31 A Turning Point? A touch o the snark...

Environmental Economics
12/14 Varian's take on the critiques of the Stern Review**
12/12 The Hippolytic on Speth on Nordhaus on Stern on Global Warming**
11/25 Nordhaus on the Stern Review
11/05 Now and forever**
11/03 Tol's comment on the Stern Review**
11/02 More on annual climate change costs from the Stern Review
11/01 I don't believe the costs of climate change estimates in the Stern Review
10/31 Some benefits and costs from the UK climate change report
10/31 British climate change report is released**

Marginal Revolution
11/04 The Stern Report on Global Warming

Greg Mankiw
11/27 Dasgupta on the Stern Review**
11/24 Nordhaus on the Stern Review**
10/31 The membership drive continues**

John Quiggin
1/15 Exxon joins the real world**
1/11 Yet more on Stern (quicklinks and brief summaries)
12/27 Sensitivity analysis
12/09 The equity premium and the Stern Review
12/06 Close to zero?
11/19 The Stern Review and the long tail
11/17 Stern on the costs of climate change, Part 1
11/16 Stern on discounting and risk
11/15 Stern on the cost of climate stabilisation
11/01 The Stern Review on MER/PPP

Worthwhile Canadian Initiative
11/04 Flawed discounting of the Stern report

Environmental Blogs

Temas Blog
01/01 Part II Implications for Latin America and the Caribbean
12/26 Part I Implications for Latin America and the Caribbean

Policy Blogs

Post Normal Times
12/23 Paul Baer, The Worth of an Iceberg

11/24 Comment by Richard Tol, he is not happy
11/22 William Nordhaus on the Stern Report **
10/31 A Comment by Richard Tol**
10/30 Stern’s Cherry Picking on Disasters and Climate Change
10/29 An Open Thread on the Stern Review

Published papers (it had to happen):
Published in WORLD ECONOMICS • Vol. 7 • No. 4 • October–December 2006
Part I: The Science
Robert M. Carter, C. R. de Freitas, Indur M. Goklany, David Holland
& Richard S. Lindzen
Part II: Economic Aspects
Ian Byatt, Ian Castles, Indur M. Goklany, David Henderson, Nigel Lawson,
Ross McKitrick, Julian Morris, Alan Peacock, Colin Robinson & Robert Skidelsky
Annex: The Stern Review and the IPCC Scenarios
If Part II is as strange as Part I, sell. There are already comments up and I will let Nexus 6, in measured tones, have a word on this unserious provocation.
...predictably, the critique is the same tired, debunked rubbish from the same shills: Bob Carter, Dick Lindzen, Ian Castles, Nigel Lawson, Ross McKitrick etc. Surely there must be some new crazies out there who can be found to put their name to this stuff....

The science section isn’t aimed at scientists, as anyone with a bit of knowledge of the field can easily pick the distortions, omissions and bizarre logic. It’s aimed squarely at the media, which hopefully by now will have learnt not to fall for it
This is Act II. The prequel was a review of Stern's Oxonia Papers by much the same cast

More interesting will be another review^2 of the Stern Review by Richard Tol and Gary Yohe in the same issue. There is no on line free link that I can find (yet).

Newpaper Commentaries:
Radio show

Unthinking Tanks
Adam Smith Institute

Odds and Ends:

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Stern replies....

Sir Nicholas Stern has placed a short reply to the comments on his review on the Treasury Independent Reviews page. He describes the criticisms of the Review as coming from three directions:

1) Some still deny the science of climate change
There are legitimate debates over many particular details of the climate system, but it is no longer credible to doubt the underlying physical mechanisms associated with increases in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, nor to doubt the importance of the natural carbon cycle and the potential for amplifying feedbacks that would be outside our control.
Hmm..... Eli knows a bunch of them.....
2) Some people accept the basic science, but still believe it is preferable to wait and see before taking significant action on mitigation. Some suggest a new technology will come along that will greatly reduce the costs of action, or that the changes will be such that future generations, with a higher capital stock available to them, will be able to adapt.

It is certainly true that for most countries, major transformational damages affecting the whole economy are not likely to be seen for several decades, or even a century or more - but if we wait until they appear and they are as difficult as we have reason to expect then we cannot go into reverse. Stocks of greenhouse gases are extremely difficult to reduce.....

Adaptation is necessary, but it is not the whole answer. The longer stocks of greenhouse gases are allowed to accumulate in the atmosphere, the greater the impacts to which we are committing the world. There are limits to adaptation at higher temperatures. Many of the effects could involve major dislocation, to whole nations and regions, with consequences that would be felt around the world. The only way to prevent very high future damages is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions today.
and Ethon knows those guys REAL well.
3) Some people prefer to place very low value on the future, or to put it another way, to place a very high value on near-term opportunities for consumption. It is a key feature of the challenge of climate change that we must think long-term to understand the issues and to respond to them. It will always be possible to choose a pure time discount rate that makes the benefit of reducing future damages appear trivial.

Choosing a high rate of pure time preference to analyse a long-term issue that affects the global environment is to make a profound ethical choice with, in this case, irreversible effects on future generations. It is as though a grandparent is saying to their grandchild, because you will live your life 50 years after mine, I place far less value on your well-being than I do on myself and my current neighbours, and therefore I am ready to take decisions with severe and irreversible implications for you.
Eli, was perhaps jumped on for saying the same thing in one line in a Quiggin discussion of this issue. Sir N is perhaps less pithy and more polite, but it comes to the same thing.
Nevertheless ethical choices appear different to different people
but he continues to rip Bjorn and the Danes new ones...
An alternative view, associated with Bjorn Lomborg, that it is agreed, places dealing with climate change low on the agenda, arises from comparing it with “other ways” of spending public money and suggests that they have higher social rates of return. There are important deficiencies in this approach. First, correcting an externality is a different policy question from spending public money. Second, the argument as conveniently put takes little account of the severe risks of very high temperature increases from climate change which we now know are possible, or indeed likely, under business as usual, and which cannot be reversed if they start to appear. Third, the costs of action for any given stabilisation level rise rapidly if action is delayed. Thus, this type of argument for low priority or for delay is completely unconvincing.
There is much more, including a discussion of criticisms and suggestions related to mitigation and adaptations.
Finally, some people have asked if it is really possible to create structures that will sustain co-operation and overcome the incentives for free-riding. Here, it is important to understand that public pressure for an effective response is growing in many countries, as people begin to realise the scale of the risks they and their successors face if no action is taken and as they see the wide range of initiatives by local governments, businesses and community groups that demonstrate that it is possible to do something about the problem. It is now more important than ever to build trust, through transparency and mutual understanding about the actions that different countries are taking, and to look for international mechanisms that build on and support national objectives, including by reducing costs and increasing the prospects for success.
As always, RTFR, this is but a summary through the eyes of a poor, but noble bunny.

UPDATE: A page with links to the Stern Review, reviews of the Review and comments thereupon

Friday, January 12, 2007

Beam me up Scotty, there's no intelligent life on this continent...

Eli was lying about, nattering with Ms. Rabett, competing (in a good natured, fuzzy way) to see who could come up with the news of the wierd item of the day. Now Ms. Rabett is a ferocious consumer of trivia, and Eli is no slouch, and lord knows the INTERNETS bring it right to your door, but the winner was so good that we are seriously reconsidering our Pielke points offer on the grounds that who else could find this stuff for you. From the Seattle Pilot Post-Intelligencer we read

This week in Federal Way schools, it got a lot more inconvenient to show one of the top-grossing documentaries in U.S. history, the global-warming alert "An Inconvenient Truth."
Why you ask gentle reader, but, of course, this is America, and we have, parents, and those parents know what is good for their little bunnies, and one of them knows that Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth is a Condom for Climate Change:
"Condoms don't belong in school, and neither does Al Gore. He's not a schoolteacher," said Frosty Hardison, a parent of seven who also said that he believes the Earth is 14,000 years old. "The information that's being presented is a very cockeyed view of what the truth is. ... The Bible says that in the end times everything will burn up, but that perspective isn't in the DVD."
As Dr. Ruth says, remember, Always Use Protection (wadda youse expect, this is a family blog).

UPDATE: Steve Bloom pointed out that Eli had the wrong Seattle paper. As he said, clearly the Post-Intelligencer is that paper that HAD to carry this one.

But dear reader, this is just the usual nuttiness in America, here, we have school boards that are positive nuttiness feedback machines. They banned the movie, and why, pray tell, well as one of the board members said

"Somebody could say you're killing free speech, and my retort to them would be we're encouraging free speech," said Larson, a lawyer. "The beauty of our society is we allow debate."

School Board members adopted a three-point policy that says teachers who want to show the movie must ensure that a "credible, legitimate opposing view will be presented," that they must get the OK of the principal and the superintendent, and that any teachers who have shown the film must now present an "opposing view."

And where would an illustration of clue deficit disease of this magnitude be without that golden oldie from the school board Pres:
Students should hear the perspective of global-warming skeptics and then make up their minds, he said. After they do, "if they think driving around in cars is going to kill us all, that's fine, that's their choice."

Asked whether an alternative explanation for evolution should be presented by teachers, Barney said it would be appropriate to tell students that other beliefs exist. "It's only a theory," he said.
Of course, anyone who knows anything about climate change is anti-American
"From what I've seen (of the movie) and what my husband has expressed to me, if (the movie) is going to take the approach of 'bad America, bad America,' I don't think it should be shown at all," Gayle Hardison said. "If you're going to come in and just say America is creating the rotten ruin of the world, I don't think the video should be shown."
The kids have a clue

"I think that a movie like that is a really great way to open people's eyes up about what you can do and what you are doing to the planet and how that's going to affect the human race," said Kenna Patrick, a senior at Jefferson High School.

When it comes to the idea of presenting global warming skeptics, Patrick wasn't sure how necessary that would be. She hadn't seen the movie but had read about it and would like to see it.

"Watching a movie doesn't mean that you have to believe everything you see in it," she said.

UPDATE: As a high school teaching anonymouse in the comments says, the kids are open, when do they take their stupid pills and turn into adults. More importantly how do you get out of the line. Inquiring minds wish to know

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

On the S. Fred front...

Nominations for the S. Fred are coming in hard and heavy. Friend to Rabetts and publisher of Monckton, Nexus 6, has put forth the name of God. Under ordinary circumstance the Name of God always wins. That's what Mom Rabett taught Eli. This is....difficult. The award committee has met, and as an added feature the person who comes up with the MOST implausible reason why Nexus cannot nominate God for the S. Fred, wins bonus Pielke points and can ban Eli for one week from commenting on any blog.


Does this include Rabett Run: Yes, this includes Rabett Run

Does it include posting on Rabett Run? That depends on how good the answer is.
If Nexus accepts it, then it will be REALLY good.

What about if it is really, really good? Don't push it. If it is that good, start your own blog Roger.

Never argue with someone who buys ink by the barrel....

and has a good set of lawyers on retainer. Richard Littlemore has the Calgary Herald's statement of defense against Tim Ball suing them because they called him Tim Ball. Having received the Ball from Dan Johnson's lawyer, they bounce Tim against the wall a few times, then ask for costs. Go read Richard and the statement. As he points out the best is...

50. The Defendants (the Calgary Herald) state that the Plaintiff (Ball) never held a reputation in the scientific community as a noted climatologist and authority on global warming. The particulars of the Plaintiff's reputation are as follows:...

(d) The Plaintiff is viewed as a paid promoter of the agenda of the oil and gas industry rather than as a practicing scientist.
but the ticking time bomb is the one right before it
49. The Defendants deny that the Plaintiff suffered any loss to his reputation or income earning capacity, and put the Plaintiff to strict proof thereof.
The Herald (not the most environmentally conscious rag), really lays it on thick that Ball is a paid agent of the oil and gas industry. It's time for Tim to pay off and fold unless he wants all of his financial records to appear in Queen's Court along with those of Foes of Science and the Needy Reprehensible Scientists and Publicists AND their funders.

The CH also figured out, again as Rabett of the Bailey pointed out, to the chamber bunnies, that there had not been proper notification by Ball to the Herald and Johnson before the suit was filed.

Eli observed (sagely as you will agree, you ARE reading this, yes?) back in September that, Ball will soon find that discovery is not just a cable TV channel. Oh yeah.

But more seriously folk, the denialists have long used SLAPP suits or the threat thereof to hold down opposition. In doing so they counted on the support, financial and otherwise, of the think tanks, oil and gas industry and their rather rightward crowd. The most infamous of these was S. Fred's suit against Justin Lancaster. Lancaster had called Singer out for doing a number on a dying Roger Revelle.

Another example was Singer's letter to the Washington Times, in which he made a thinly veiled hint that the ACS was "courting one or more libel suits" after and article by Bette Hileman had appeared in C&E News

"Global warming is target of disinformation campaign."[4] In it, Hileman described "a systematic campaign of disinformation" being conducted by a small group of scientists calling themselves the Global Climate Coalition (GCC) whose work is funded by coal, oil, utility, automobile, and chemical companies --the corporations whose profits might decline if Congress took global warming seriously.
After describing how Pat Michaels was going after Ben Santer, Hilleman concluded with

...Either Michaels does not understand Santer's work or he is deliberately distorting it.
What has changed is that there is now an infrastructure as willing to defend against such shuck and jive and since it is shuck and jive, we may look forward to award of costs.

Monday, January 08, 2007

The worm quickly turns....quickly

Real Climate comments on the very warm winter in the US and Europe. About what you would expect....

Lets consider the latest such example. In an odd repeat of last year (the 'groundhog day' analogy growing ever more appropriate), we find ourselves well into the meteorological Northern Hemisphere winter (Dec-Feb) with little evidence over large parts of the country (most notably the eastern and central U.S.) that it ever really began. Unsurprisingly, numerous news stories have popped up asking whether global warming might be to blame. Almost as if on queue, representatives from NOAA's National Weather Service have been dispatched to tell us that the event e.g. "has absolutely nothing to do with global warming", but instead is entirely due to the impact of the current El Nino event.
and, taking dictation was NBC nightly news. Today, Brian Williams (WARNING annoying add before the video starts that will cause you to beat your Blackberry with large carrots) lead into the story...
BW: Taking a look at the strange weather around the country we revisit a topic that we covered Friday night, that lit up interest and some protest from some of our viewers.......

On Friday we looked into it. We invited a 30 year veteran weather forecaster onto the broadcast and asked about it. And here is how Dennis Feltgen of NOAA answered:
As RC said...
DF: It's NOT global warming at all Brian, it's El Nino, El Nino, El Nino........
Brian drank the Kool Aide last Friday, tonight he was a mite more skeptical
BW: That was Dennis Feltgen of NOAA and now as they say, for the rest of the story. NBC New's chief science reporter Robert Bazell talked to experts who say there is a relationship between the strange El Nino winter and global warming and there will be a lot more where that came from
what's the story?
What’s global warming got to do with it?
The Earth’s warming pattern can magnify existing weather patterns

By Robert Bazell
Chief science and health correspondent
NBC News

We're taking a look at the strange weather around the country lately and re-visiting a topic we covered Friday night that lit up interest and protest among some of our viewers.

From now on, scientists say, many extreme weather events will result from natural causes enhanced by global warming. That includes heat waves, droughts and hurricanes.

"We all know that humans don't make hurricanes," Schneider says. "Katrina was not produced by global warming, yet Katrina was a little stronger because it went over an ocean that was half a degree warmer than it would have been."

So, the unusual warmth in the Northeast could be partly the result of global warming. Indeed, even the heavy snow in the Rockies this year might be partly caused by global warming. El Niño brings the storms, but because the air is warmer than usual, it holds far more moisture, producing much more snow.
RC as you would expect, had pretty much the same story
In reality, the individual roles of deterministic factors such as El Nino, anthropogenic climate change, and of purely random factors (i.e. "weather") in the pattern observed thus far this winter cannot even in principle be ascertained. What we do know, however, is that both anthropogenic climate change and El Nino favor, in a statistical sense, warmer winters over large parts of the U.S. When these factors act constructively, as is the case this winter, warmer temperatures are certainly more likely. Both factors in fact also favor warmer global mean surface temperatures (the latter factor amounting to one or two tenths of a degree C for a moderate to strong El Nino). It is precisely for this reason that some scientists are already concluding, with some justification, that 2007 stands a good chance of being the warmest year on record for the globe.
Except, being scientists they failed Ms. Rabett's nude scientist exam adding caveats and a whole lot of other interesting things afterwards, burying their conclusion.

Reflect on what the story means for how climate change is going to be covered in the main stream media. Things are changing rapidly, not only the climate.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Eli's final word on the Stern Report

Here we go round the mulberry bush....

Ethon** flew in hungry from Boulder. The guys out there have moved him from his assigned easy, and tasty duties to flying from house to house doing polls on attitudes towards climate change. Not only are folk not very hospitable to a large eagle at the door, but you can hardly find a chopped liver sandwich on a street cart these days, so he dug right into Mom Rabett's best.

Ike Solem and Roger are engaged in a parsing match. Ike asked Roger to predict when global surface temperature would stop rising. Roger replied first that he bets neither with Brian Schmidt nor James Annan. On being pressed a bit, he linked to a book he participated in on prediction science. Ike has not yet asked if the book answers his question.

Ike pointed out

The real problem with politics in climate science if the continuing efforts by the fossil fuel industry, led by ExxonMobil, to distort scientific facts in an effort to deceive the public about the real extent of the problem.
Roger didn't want to deal with this, so he asked Ike whether
1. What evidence do you have that that the public is deceived?
This has been a tactic that Roger used before about the dangers of tobacco, and one that Eli easily demolished
A rather curious idea is being put forward by Roger Pielke Jr., that
In the battle over smoking efforts to deny a link between smoking and health risks seems to have been completely a lost effort.
by linking to and quoting from various Surgeon General reports and the scientific publications that were cited therein.

Eli calls this tactic incurious amazement. The user depends on the other party not following up or stating the question in a way that requires considerable work to dig out. Usually a pretty safe bet, but if by happenstance he meets a large eagle or a Rabett coming down the street, there is an easy retreat to gee, that's amazing, never knew that, or if enough time has passed and everyone else has moved on one can simply ignore the answer. Of course, Banning in Boulder is also a choice. Note the close relationship of incurious amazement to the well know implausible deniability trick popularized in Casablanca (Climate change going on here, I am shocked, shocked)

So the Rabett Institute for Policy Studies, sent poor Eth out on the street. The first thing he found next to some liver souffle (Boulder is a frou frou town) was this April 2006 interesting study from World Public Opinion showing that US attitudes about the reality of climate change significantly lags that in other countries.
As Rabett Run has been pounding, US public opinion on this matter has change considerably over the past year, but there was a lot of catching up to do BECAUSE of the fossil fuel companies investing megabucks convincing the public that there was no such thing as human driven climate change. We speculate based on past performance that Roger has not yet read the Union of Concerned Scientists Report on Exxons bankrolling think tanks.

Still, all this pointed the ears at a rather interesting thought. For Eli, Pielke's major insight is that the policy makers are the important constituency. One could conceptualize the Exxonian tactic as immobilize rather than convince public opinion, then elect George Bush. At this, they have been very effective. Eli would suggest that if Roger really wants to answer his question he might look at results from the International Social Survey Programme which the Rabettorium does not have easy access to.

The RabEditors have slightly modified the text.

Ethon or The Eagle Kaukasios was a gigantic eagle born of the monsters Typhon and Echidna. As punishment for stealing fire from Mount Olympus, Zeus had Prometheus chained to Mount Caucasus, where Ethon was set to gnaw on his liver.