Monday, February 26, 2007

Ethon cracks up laughing.....

 The Bunny hopped home today to find his liver loving friend on the stoop laughing fit to be fried chicken. After the big bird chugged some refreshing bile and regained composure Eli asked whats up. Turns out that a mutual acquaintance has jumped the shark ( there is a blog for everything). Captain Renault** is shocked, shocked that governors have figured out that climate change in driven by people doing stuff like burning a lot of fossil fuel. He is distressed, distressed to hear that a politician believes there may be problems because of this. He is disgusted, disgusted that a public official has heard of the IPCC report and further that same do not accept State Climatologists acting as if they are speaking for the State while saying it ain't so. The only worse thing that could happen is a scientist (scare italics) doin' it. The latest to attempt the Kaine shuffle is Govenor Ruth Minner of Delaware. The good Captain harumphed on a line in the first paragraph of her letter to David Legates:

Your views on climate change, as I understand them, are not aligned with those of my my administration.
But, as all readers of Rabett Run know, ya gotta RTWholeFR (linked to by the Good Captain), which goes on:
In light of my position and due to the confusion surrounding your role with the State, I am directing you to offer any future statements on this or other public policy matters only on behalf of yourself or the University of Delaware and not as State Climatologist. I believe that your responsibilities as State Climatologist do not include representing the views of Delaware's Executive Branch, and I understand that you have not provided your opinions as such. It is my sincere hope that you do not view this as an affront to your professional credibility but rather as an attempt to assure that the public better understands the role of the State Climatologist and the distinction between the State Climate Office and Delaware's executive agencies.
Now this ain't we're gonna can your ass if you don't shut up, but it does say that from now on when you speak, make it clear you don't speak for me. Of course, the University of Delaware might have something to say on the matter in addition. There is the usual invocation of what if NASA told Jim Hansen to not speak for NASA. Which of course is why Hansen is careful to always say such things as:
Of course, although I am a government employee, these are just my opinions as a private citizen. They do not represent government policy. Thank you.
Eli is sure that Legates can learn that tune. Yet, our concerned, concerned Captain persists
If the concern is really procedural -- that is, who gets to speak what information under what designation -- then the response should be focused on improving those procedures. The selective focus on certain individuals and certain perspectives instead makes these complaints about the "politicization of science" themselves politicized. While this might work to the short-term advantage of certain agendas in political debate, what won't be addressed by this approach are those processes that foster the pathological politicization of science.
Which kind of makes you wonder what rock he has been hiding under. People who work for governments and universities have a pretty good idea of who speaks for the institution and which body part they are going to lose if they try it. On the other hand, if you speak for yourself and make that clear, the rules are a lot loser (assuming you are not too high in management, e.g. Bill Happer) . The big difference this decade is that this administration has shoved its public affairs apparatchiks a lot lower into the agencies, so the concern is how the rules have changed in the past 6 years. But we can pretend that none of this ever happened can we not o' mice of mine. Still, let us not go away without looking at the memorandum of understanding appointing Legates (signed 2005 by Minner):
The Delaware State Climate Office has demonstrated adequate support from the Northeast Regional Climate Center, the National Weather Service, the State of Delaware and the University of Delaware..... This memorandum of agreement supersedes all previous agreements between NCDC and State Climate Offices for the State of Delaware. Either party may, in writing, request a formal review of or prepare amendments to this agreement at any time. changes will become effective upon written consent of all parties. This agreement may be terminated by either party with 90 days written notification or sooner by mutual consent.
Hmm, 90 days, either party, termination. Now THAT is a threat. **Casablanca, a story of loss and redemption, but Eli seriously doubts a beautiful friendship is in the offing. One has to confront the issues raised by Andrew Freedman on Capital Weather about AMS certified meteorologists, (paraphrased): with the designation as State Climatologist comes a responsibility to understand and communicate scientific information as generally accepted in the field. A deviation from such a position requires warning the public that the opinion is personal and does not represent what is generally considered best science. Where the State Climatologist's opinion departs from the policy of the appointing body, the three general options are discussion, resignation or speaking on those matters as a private person.

Book Review

Andrew Dessler challenged Eli to expand his book list to the wood chip pile, but for this we require the help of mice. The baby bunnies have gone through Amazon looking for textbook like objects about atmosphere and climate. Below is what was found. Additions and suggestions are always welcome (Andrew CANNOT vote that his book is the best of all time). Tomorrow we will have a bunch of atmospheric chemistry books, an area where Eli is more familiar and confident. Arbitrarily only those books published after 1/1/2000 were included.

Not very many of these books have Amazon reviews. If you have a copy of one, or have read it, please chime in. At the end there will be a list of recommendations at various levels that will be linked from the sidebar. It would be exceptionally good to have some for middle and high school students. This is just a beginning.

Global Warming: Understanding the Forecast [ILLUSTRATED] (Paperback)
by David Archer (Author) $49.95
· Paperback: 208 pages
· Publisher: Blackwell Publishing Limited; 1st edition (November 1, 2006)
Global Warming : Understanding the Forecast is a comprehensive introduction to all aspects of global warming. Written in an accessible way, and assuming no specialist prior knowledge, this important book examines the processes of climate change and climate stability, from the distant past to the distant future.This book examines the greenhouse effect, the carbon cycle, and what the future may hold for global climate. Drawing from a wide range of disciplines, it not only summarizes scientific evidence, but also economic and policy issues, related to global warming. A companion website provides access to interactive computer models of the physics and chemistry behind the global warming forecast, which can be used to support suggested student projects included at the end of each chapter. Global Warming : Understanding the Forecast provides an essential introduction to this vital issue for both students and general readers, with or without a science background.

The Physics of Atmospheres (Paperback)
by John Houghton (Author) $46.80
· Paperback: 336 pages
· Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 3 edition (December 15, 2001)
In the third edition of The Physics of Atmospheres, John Houghton has revised his acclaimed textbook to bring it completely up-to-date. The book provides a comprehensive concise description of the physical processes governing the structure and the circulation of the atmosphere. New chapters have been introduced on topics of strong contemporary interest such as chaos and predictability and climate change. The chapters on global observations (especially through remote sensing) and numerical modeling have also been substantially extended.

An Introduction to Atmospheric Physics (Paperback)
by David G. Andrews (Author) $60.00
· Paperback: 240 pages
· Publisher: Cambridge University Press (August 31, 2006)
This advanced undergraduate textbook clearly details how physics can be used to understand many important aspects of atmospheric behavior. Coverage presents a broad overview of atmospheric physics, including atmospheric thermodynamics, radiative transfer, atmospheric fluid dynamics and elementary atmospheric chemistry. Armed with an understanding of these topics, the interested student will be able to grasp the essential physics behind issues of current concern, such as the enhanced greenhouse effect and associated questions of climate change, the Antarctic ozone hole and global ozone depletion, as well as more familiar processes such as the formation of raindrops and the development of weather systems. This introductory textbook is ideal for advanced undergraduates studying atmospheric physics as part of physics, meteorology or environmental science courses. It will also be useful for graduate students studying atmospheric physics for the first time and for students of applied mathematics, physical chemistry and engineering who have an interest in the atmosphere.

The Science and Politics of Global Climate Change: A Guide to the Debate (Paperback)
by Andrew E. Dessler (Author), Edward A. Parson (Author) $39.99
· Paperback: 200 pages
· Publisher: Cambridge University Press (January 23, 2006)
Climate variability has become the primary environmental concern of the 21st Century. Yet, despite the scientific community's warnings of the imminent dangers of global warming, politicians world-wide have failed to agree on what to do about this potentially devastating environmental problem. This introductory primer informs scientists, policy makers and the general public by clarifying the conflicting claims of the debate.

Complete Idiot's Guide to Global Warming (Paperback)
by Michael Tennesen (Author) $14.78
· Paperback: 352 pages
· Publisher: Alpha (April 6, 2004)
The time is right for this comprehensive guide separating the facts from the fiction about global warming-and how it affects ecological, sociological, and economic environments worldwide.
Features explanations of the meteorological variables of climate change, such as El Nino and the ozone layer
Covers Earth's past warming and cooling cycles, and how human activity has affected this natural pattern
Includes up to date discussions of the Bonn and Kyoto treaties

Science Explorer: Weather and Climate: Interactive textbook (Hardcover)
by Michael J. Padilla (Author) $21.30
· Reading level: Ages 9-12
· Hardcover
· Publisher: Pearson Prentice Hall; CD-Rom edition (January 2002)

Climate Change: A Multidisciplinary Approach (Paperback)
by William James Burroughs (Author) $39.40
· Paperback: 316 pages
· Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1st edition (October 29, 2005)
Level - HS/College educated
This volume provides an up-to-date presentation of climate change and its implications for society. Burroughs, an expert on the subject, begins with balanced coverage of the physical principles of the global climate, its behavior on all timescales, and the evidence for and consequences of past change. He then reviews the methods used to measure climate change and the statistical methods for analyzing data. A comprehensive guide, the volume also explores the causes of change and how this behavior can be modeled. The final sections discuss predictions of future climate change and the economic and political debate surrounding its prevention and mitigation. This is a valuable undergraduate textbook for a wide range of courses, including meteorology, oceanography, environmental science, earth science, geography, history, agriculture and social science. It will also appeal to a wider general audience of readers in search of a better understanding of climate change.

Climate: Into the 21st Century (Hardcover)
by William Burroughs (Editor) $55.00
· Hardcover: 240 pages
· Publisher: Cambridge University Press (August 25, 2003)
Toward the end of the twentieth century, it became evident to professionals working within the meterological arena that the world's climate system was showing signs of change that could not be adequately explained in terms of natural variation. Since that time there has been an increasing recognition that the climate system is changing as a result of human industries and lifestyles, and that the outcomes may prove catastrophic to the world's escalating population. Compiled by an international team formed under the auspices of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), Climate: Into the 21st Century features an unrivalled collection of essays by the world's leading meteorological experts. These fully integrated contributions provide a perspective of the global climate system across the twentieth century, and describe some of the most arresting and extreme climatic events and their effects that have occurred during that time. In addition, the book traces the development of our capabilities to observe and monitor the climate system, and outlines our understanding of the predictability of climate on time-scales of months and longer. It concludes with a summary of the prospects for applying the twentieth century climate experience in order to benefit society in the twenty-first century. Lavishly illustrated in color, Climate is an accessible acccount of the challenges that climate poses at the start of the twenty-first century. Filled with fascinating facts and diagrams, it is written for a wide audience and will captivate the general reader interested in climate issues, and will be a valuable teaching resource. William Burroughs is a successful science author of books on climate, including Weather (Time Life, 2000), and Climate Change: A Multidisciplinary Approach (2001), Does the Weather Really Matter? (1997) and The Climate Revealed (1999), all published by Cambridge University Press.

A Textbook in Environmental Science (Hardcover)
by V. Subramanian (Author)
· Hardcover: 238 pages
· Publisher: Other (May 22, 2002)
Covering all aspects of interaction between man and the environment, A Textbook in Environmental Science addresses issues related to air, water, and soil pollution and their cyclical nature. It introduces students to the concept of biodiversity in relation to the dangers posed to the diversity of flora and fauna. Global warming and climate change are outlined in sufficient detail. Environmental impact assessment is discussed using coal based thermal power plant as a case in point with a brief outline on environmental audit.

The Discovery of Global Warming (New Histories of Science, Technology, and Medicine) (Paperback) by Spencer R. Weart $10.54
· Paperback: 240 pages
· Publisher: Harvard University Press; New Ed edition (September 30, 2004)

An Inconvenient Truth

won Oscars for best documentary and best song.

"We need to solve the climate crisis. It's not a political issue, it's a moral issue,'' Gore, 58, said tonight after joining the movie's director, Davis Guggenheim, on stage to accept the Oscar. The film from Viacom Inc.'s Paramount studio has generated $45.3 million in worldwide ticket sales, making it the third-highest grossing documentary ever.
in his acceptance, Gore said
"We have everything we need to get started'' in the fight against climate change, "with the possible exception of the will to act. That's a renewable resource, let's renew it.''

Sunday, February 25, 2007

A new feature

If you look to the left, below the section with Eli's distinguished bio, you will find a new section, Textbooks, with only two entries, the Stratospheric Ozone on line textbook and on line parts of David Archer's text on Global Climate: Understanding the Forecast. For a long time the web has relied on hit or miss structures such as FAQs (see Bob Grumbine's collection for the best in climate science), and organized posts (see Coby Beck's How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic series), but as the medium matures there is an increasing need for more formal texts which can be used in a classroom, or by interested anonymice for teaching. While the on line content for Archer's book is not complete, it does include two complete (and important) chapters and climate science applets which allow the interested to play what if.

Rabett Publishing is interested in linking to other appropriate textbooks.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Postmodernism and moral decay in climate change denialism

With the sesmic shift in public attitudes avalanching down upon their bunker, climate change denialists have retreated into a postmodern shell. Quoting from the Wikipedia:

In a nutshell, the pro-postmodernism argument runs that economic and technological conditions of our age have given rise to a decentralized, media-dominated society in which ideas are simulacra and only inter-referential representations and copies of each other, with no real original, stable or objective source for communication and meaning.
With the last pretension to fact based argument ripped from their paws, the denialists must now argue that facts don't matter, and, indeed are doing so with gusto. This is a very attractive argument to journalists.

Although criticized at the time, Nicholas Stern's argument for a very low social discount rate was at base a moral judgement, something that he must have sensed was necessary to meet the coming onslaught.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Mansion the Freds Built...

Click on the picture for a larger image suitable for framing

While Eli is quite the happy bunny about much of the design, he does know that there is room for improvement. All anonymouses are invited to contribute names for the mansion rooms. But remember, don't be bitter.

The original appeared in the New Yorker as a drawing by Bruce McCall giving a tour of the editorial facilities there.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Rabett's Rules for Climate Change Policy Makers

J. Willard Rabett has sent Eli a set of laws to guide climate change policy makers

1. Adaptation responds to current losses.
2. Mitigation responds to future losses
3. Adaptation plus future costs is more expensive than mitigation,
4. Adaptation without mitigation drives procrastination penalties to infinity.

J. Willard points out the similarity with the laws of thermodynamics, you can't win, you can't break even, things will get worse before they get better and who says they will get better.

Above all we at the Rabett Enterprise Institute want to have a diverse collection of pre-eminent thinkers on this subject, which is why we are keen to include you in the project. Eli is willing to offer honoraria of up to $(Monopoly)10,000 for participating authors, for essays and comments to be completed by March 1, and we are keen to work with you to refine an appropriate topic.

Virgins need not apply....

This post is a series of comments on an important article by Andrew Dessler and Dave Roberts on the AEI's high school essay prize for writing on climate change. While agreeing with their bottom line

What they do not acknowledge is that the conservative movement has squandered its credibility on the subject of climate change. After years of efforts to deny or obfuscate mainstream climate science -- driven by ideology, fossil-fuel funding, or some unknowable mix of the two -- conservatives simply are not trusted on the issue.
important things necessary to understand the controversy have been swept under the rug through AEI's PR campaign. Sad to say, Dessler and Roberts have also been distracted (IEHO of course, speaking in the third small animal, and yes, the opinion of the house mice also count). Go read Dessler and Roberts first.

1. There were two letters. Andrew Dessler saw and made public the first one which was a specific approach to Schroeder and North of Texas A&M for a science article and made an UNCONDITIONAL offer of $10K$. No other copies of this letter have been seen. No one has come forward to say they received one. That letter was sent by Green who had previously written an article with Schroeder and Tim Ball (interesting that yes?) A reasonable Rabett would assume that Green was trying for a repeat performance and had gotten approval from the AEI to do this by pointing at the success, such as it was, of his previous collaborations with Schroeder.

There are interesting follow ups to be done here. For example, did Schroeder know that Ball was a co-author? Schroeder had also worked with Green when he was at the Reason Institute on an article about reducing global warming through agricultural practices. Why did Schroeder imply that he didn't interact much with Green at the Fraser Institute. Green was there between 2002 and 2005 and their joint article appeared July 2004 in a Fraser Institute publication, with Green identified as being at Fraser.

2. The idea that Schroeder was not afraid of the AEI distorting what he said is being supported by a quote from the Feb. 5 Washington Post, after the storm had started to gather
Schroeder, who has worked with Green in the past and has questioned some aspects of traditional climate modeling, said in an interview that he did not think AEI would have skewed his results. But he added that he worried his contribution might have been published alongside "off-the-wall ideas" questioning the existence of global warming.
but he was specifically worried about people in the AEI distorting what he wrote, in a February 2 interview with the CBC
Well, I basically decided not to participate partly by talking to Gerald North, he got the same offer, he has worked with the same person before also and he was the one who mainly expressed to me that he felt that even if we could produce an objective report even if the contents weren't changed that it was likely to be misused by people either in the AEI or outside it
3. The rubber really hits the road with the second letter in which (as the bunny pointed out) the $10K offer is conditional AND an upper limit. This is the letter that Green and Hayward are referring to. The first letter is (mostly) the one that Dessler and other bloggers point to.


The second letter is conditional
Above all we want to have a diverse collection of pre-eminent thinkers on this subject, which is why we are keen to include you in the project. AEI is willing to offer honoraria of up to $10,000 for participating authors, for essays in the range of 7,500 to 10,000 words, to be completed by September 1, and we are keen to work with you to refine an appropriate topic.
In other words give us what we want or we won't pay you is clearly in that paragraph with the usual nod to implausible deniability. The AEI's position on climate change is no secret. Suffice it to say somewhat to the right of Ethon's snack which, is itself to the no climate change here and if there were all we can do is adapt side of the policy controversy. There is no statement as to how the payment would be determined, which leaves it up to the reader to read between the obvious lines.

We do not have a clue as to whom the second letter was sent. Green, in his CBC interview says that it was sent mostly to policy makers and economists, with a few scientists. The replies were to come September 1, 2006. Now, Eli is a quiet little domestic valentine bunny but this fairly shouts:


There is a lot of good reporting still to be done.

UPDATE: Andrew Dessler in the comments points out an ambiguity that Eli left. While unsaid, it is probable that the two letters were sent at different times.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Sing a song to Svensmark....

Anonymuse returns

Cosmic rays are warming Earth,
I read it in the news.
Polar bears are losing hairs,
And Eskimos have the blues.

The whole damed world has gone to hell,
And never will come back.
I wish those aliens would just go away,
And call off their attack.

Monday, February 12, 2007

From another life....

Department of there is nothing new under the sun:

Reviews of Geophys. and Space. Sci. 16 (1978) 400

Dickson [1975] suggested that solar related fluctuations in some aspect of cloudiness may connect solar activity to the meteorology of the lower atmosphere. He thought that this connection might occur via the effect of cosmic ray induced ionization on aerosol and cloud condensation nuclei and thus on the radiative properties of clouds. p403

Dickinson Bull Am Meteorol. Soc 56 (1975) 1240.

Somewhat better than Nigel Calder and the Revenge of the Killer Cosmic Rays

Sunday, February 11, 2007

You mean we don't play well together?.......

Tamino has an interesting post up about the uncivil war surrounding climate change issues. He makes an important distinction between denialists and skeptics.

I’ve done it myself. I’ve often pointed out the dishonest tactics of denialists. Well, it’s true. But there’s a limit to how useful it can be harping on this point. More important, it’s neither true nor fair to paint skeptics with the same brush one applies to denialists.
and clearly it is important to distinguish between the two. Eli's experience is that the separation is between those who have filled the trough of denial and those who, wandering by have supped from it. He would distinguish between the denialists and their victims, or if you wish, the ill-informers and the ill-informed, although the later contribute to the problem by infinite regression. The struggle is for the latter, not the former who, for economic, political or social reasons are badly threatened by the necessary actions to deal with climate change.

Still, as Tamino does, one must recognize that the ill-informed find it comfortable to be so because the denialists make adopting mal-information comfortable, and there is no getting around it, dealing with climate change will require major effort. Of course, a great deal of the effort and expense can be attributed to the denialists who have imposed a huge procrastination penalty on the world.

The first question is how to identify the pushers and the victims and then how to deal with each. The first two verses of Anonymuse's hit pretty much lay out the problem
When the window shades are falling,
cuz it's hotter'n hell outside,
the think tank wank comes calling,
to take you for a ride.

In the local paper you will find him,
and on blogs and websites too,
it's the AGW denier
getting rich while your grandkids get screwed.
Tamino clearly understands the problem
I’m coming to the opinion that most people who throw insults at global warming activists aren’t being dishonest, they’re ill-informed, or they’ve been swayed by a clever (but false) argument. They don’t hate the environment, they’re afraid of economic ruin and decline in the quality of life. Most people who throw insults at disbelievers aren’t being dishonest either, there really is a campaign of disinformation funded by the fossil fuel industry. They don’t hate free enterprise or economic progress, they’re afraid of the ruin of the natural world, which after all is the ultimate source of economic prosperity.
and he concludes that when speaking to the ill-informed, even someone spouting nasty drivel, one should turn the argument into a discussion, use facts and go forward together. Having extended the hand of let us sit and reason together, Tamino's new friend, Grit, bites it off
Remember that Hitler had scientists on call to explain why Jews weren’t really human and needed to be removed from the gene pool. The whole Global Warming thing reeks of war, religious fervor, and burning bodies which, I suspect, will be much worse that anything Nature can do. Thus, when the Green Shirts come and drag me out of my home and pin a D, for Denier, on my shirt prior to taking me to the slave labor camps, I’ll be thinking of you and AlGore.
Tamino finds a nice answer:
Ironically, when I said that it’s neither true nor fair to paint skeptics with the same brush one applies to denialists, you are one of those I had in mind. So far, I have regarded you as a misguided skeptic rather than a denialist; I hope I’m right about that.......
If the “green shirts” show up to drag you to a slave labor camp, I hope I’m there — to stop them. I’ll bet that Al Gore would stand with me, shoulder to shoulder, to oppose the mob.
The first paragraph says, so far and no farther, the second that the offer of discussion remains open and establishes Tamino and Al on the moral plane that Grit tried to attack. One of the first to effectively use this response on the internet was Coby Beck, first at sci.environment, then at illconsidered and recently migrated to Gristmill, but even Coby has his limits.

Climate is not the only issue about which the balance of civility enters in the struggle for lurkers. The same obtains in the general political context. The Republican war on science, has to be seen as a small part of the Republican war on everyone except the idle rich and CEOs. There is a similar discussion going on about two bloggers who the Edwards campaign hired, who, in their posts were half as nasty to right wingers as the Gingrichs, Coulters and Limbaughs of the world have been to progressives and liberals in the past 20 years

To quote from a comment about this dust up that Eli read on Joe Klein's blog
"Mr. Klein's point that "obnoxious doesn't win you many friends or elections" would be 100% legitimate if we could assume that some sort of rational communication ethics dominates political communication.

But when so many people are more impressed by displays of alpha-male dominance and aggression than they are by level-headedness, civility, and a respectful willingness to engage in dialogue, those virtues can easily come off as weakness."
I would agree with Tamino about the need for civility in laying out the science of climate change, and the economics. On the other hand, something else is needed in the wider world where people pay minimal attention to policy issues and latch onto what floats by on TV, conversation and print. What that something else is varies.

Here Eli differentiates between scientists, the denialists, media and the public. Each requires a different response. Of course there is no strict differentiation between the four, people can easily fit into two or more categories. Media is simplest. One should provide or guide them to good information. Desmogblog and Real Climate do perhaps the best job of this, and so does Andrew Dessler. It is encouraging that the people involved with these blogs (esp. the Real Climate group) are increasingly cited in media accounts. Their association with public relations companies may have a lot to do with that, as it also drove Pat Michaels into being the most quoted person on climate change. Someone has to put your name out there.

The second part is to be brutally critical of purposeful (or even accidental) mis-statements that appear in the media and which the public feeds off of. The denialists have built a mighty Wurlitzer to attack anything they disagree with. Their theatre organ emphasizes minutia, they have nothing else. Those who understand threat of climate change must emphasize the big picture, and point out the sophistry, nit picking and irrelevance of the denialists. Media and individual newsfolk respond to complaints, at first defensively, but then they internalize it and modify their behavior, especially editors (sorry John, them's the facts). Every time Fred Singer, or Tim Ball publish an op-ed there needs to be a strong negative response and people like Gavin Schmidt have to start publishing more in op-ed columns, not just in Physics Today.

For the denialists, scorn softened by a bit of humor with relentless fact checking and sourcing are the keys. By always RTFR you can show the emptiness of the denialists strategy.

For those who raise scientific questions about climate change, we have the peer reviewed literature and as long as the question stays there, peer review coupled with papers that challenge the challengers and critical reviews are a slow but sufficient way of advancing the science. However, when the scientific skeptics start whining, start associating with dumb tanks like the Marshall Institute, CEI, etc. they cross the line to denialism and the response should also change. One should always watch what people do, and not pay attention to what they say they do.

For the public, I think Tamino has it pretty well right, start softly, always offer facts and links to good information, explain it patiently, but in as few words as possible, and don't caveat. Be direct. I also need to add that the denialists, since they oppose any action, are well served by a food fight. This is a very thin and difficult line to walk.

PS...If you have comments on this, please post them on Tamino, where the discussion is already underway. I put this post here, only because it is much too long for a comment.

UPDATE: Brian Schmidt puts in a good word

Saturday, February 10, 2007

As it happened.....

the American Enterprise Institute/AEI geared up last summer for the fourth IPCC climate assessment by offering $10KUS for those who would write papers on it. This came to light when one of the recipients, Steve Schroeder of Texas A&M showed the letter to Andrew Dessler and Dessler blogged about it. This says something important about how blogs are affecting the flow of information. The letter to Schroeder and North was unconditional, the money would be paid for an article between 7,500 and 10,000 words. A subsequent version included this language

Above all we want to have a diverse collection of pre-eminent thinkers on this subject, which is why we are keen to include you in the project. AEI is willing to offer honoraria of up to $10,000 for participating authors, for essays in the range of 7,500 to 10,000 words, to be completed by September 1, and we are keen to work with you to refine an appropriate topic.
which was included in a recent exchange of letters between Dessler and AEI's Steve Hayward.

As Dessler says, concurrent with the deliver of the Summary for Policymakers by the IPCC, this has blown up again. Another point he makes is that the original letter focused on critiquing the science, the current revised version focuses on policy and economics. This revisionism was evident on the Canadian news program, As It Happens in interviews with Schroeder and Ken Green of AEI as linked on Rabett Run. In the interview Green stated that the letter was sent primarily to policy people and economists. It now seems that there were two letters, and they probably were sent to different people at different times.

UPDATE: In the comments Andrew points to Steven Colbert's take on all this: As long as the administration can find one scientist that disagrees with the IPCC report then there is no global warming, and they are working very hard to find that scientist. Go watch the video. There is an annoying ad in front of it, but you can get your popcorn while it plays. A flip o the ears for the link. Many thanks!

The Volokh Conspiracy has done its best to keep the story afloat with five posts in the last few days, (and Volokh is a very popular blog). The latest one points to a response by AEI in the Weekly Standard (warning, very right wing fishwrap) trying to stamp out the conflagration that they are currently enveloped by. One part of that deals with the letter to North:
North declined our invitation on account of an already full schedule. Schroeder shared our letter with one of his Texas A&M colleagues, atmospheric scientist Andrew Dessler. Dessler posted our complete letter on his blog in late July, along with some critical but largely fair-minded comments, including: "While one might be skeptical that the AEI will give the [IPCC Fourth Assessment Report] a fair hearing, the fact that they have solicited input from a credible and mainstream scientist like Jerry North suggests to me that I should not prejudge their effort."
The As It Happens Interview deals with the other side of this, why North and Schroeder had a headache and could not date AEI (transcribed here, the things Eli does for you):
Schroeder: Well, I basically decided not to participate partly by talking to Gerald North, he got the same offer, he has worked with the same person before also and he was the one who mainly expressed to me that he felt that even if we could produce an objective report even if the contents weren't changed that it was likely to be misused by people either in the AEI or outside it

Interviewer: So what concerns did you and Prof. North have about how your work might be used

Schroeder: Well it does seem that the issue of climate change is quite polarized and so the views that future warming will be catastrophic seem to get overly publicized and also the views of other people that there is no global warming and there is nothing to worry about. Those also seem to get overly publicized And we were thinking it would be more likely that people would use any criticism of the process that we mentioned more in that area to say Well they are overhyping the danger of global warming and so we should bury our heads in the sand and not do anything about it.

People have suggested that the strategy of those who are trying to discredit the IPCC Report and those climate change Scientists are using the same strategy as was used the tobacco industry to discredit the science that you don't need to say that it is not true You just need to muddy the scientific waters. What do you say to such claims

Schroeder: Well actually I agree with that. Ken Green used to be with the Fraser Institute, in Canada and before that he was with the Reason Institute, in the United States. and that's when I had done the previous work with him, it was an assessment of climate models. In the Fraser Institute he was there I guess I would say a relatively short time, So I didn't happen to be aware that the FI was planning to also put out an assessment of the IPCC Report. So I printed out what they put on their web page, In that case, yeah you could substitute Tobacco for Climate Change and it would be similar wording almost. because I noticed on that one they were saying that the public attention focused on the SPM produced through negotiation by government bureaucrats and then, in contrast the FI's independent summary is by efforts of experts in fields related to Climate Science and has been reviewed by more than 50 scientists around the world But of course the IPCC report itself has been reviewed by many hundreds of scientists around the world including people with many different viewpoints on the issue of climate change and so I would count the statement of the FI to be almost inflammatory on that issue, but at least this original letter that I got from the AEI was stated a little more cautiously that that.

Interviewer:The AEI offered to pay you 10K$Us for your work on that paper plus travel expenses to bring you to any conference they might have later. Is this typical

Schroeder: I think so I would say that wouldn't come out to be very much per hour. or anything like that And That would be kind of like of say a smoking gun if I had not had any previous contact with this person to say they were trying to steer me to a certain conclusion

Interviewer: In the end you turned down their offer. Could you just tell me just simply why you did that

Schroeder: Even if Ken Green and the other people at the institute would not try to steer me to particular conclusions one way or the other that it was likely to be misused even if the report itself was allowed to be reasonably objective and reflect my actual opinions

Interviewer: Prof. Schroeder thank you very much for speaking with us

Schroeder: OK Well thank you, I am sorry that I was not able to say that there is no global warming and the earth is flat or something like that.

Somehow Schroeder manages to Rasool** one of the authors on that paper he wrote with Ken Green, Tim Ball, Canadian Holiday Inn Express climatologist: The Science Isn't Settled: The Limitations of Global Climate Models. The article acknowledges help from Pat Michaels faithful companion Chip Knappenberger of New Hope Environmental Services and even has another number for how many years Tim was a professor of climatology. Now, which side do you think Ken thought Schroeder would come down on?

**A very famous paper by S. Ichtiaque Rasool and Steven Schneider in the early 70s modeled the effects of aerosols on global temperature. For years it has been used by denialists to attack Schneider and by claiming that global cooling was predicted in the 70s to attack the fact that global temperatures are warming rapidly. As part of their strategy, Rasool often disappears, much as has happened with Michael Mann, whose first papers on multiproxy modeling were co-authored by Ray Bradley and Malcolm Hughes. Mann was out front on the issue, Bradley and Hughes have been Rasooled.

Friday, February 09, 2007

C. (for climate) Jive Rumorton is unhappy....

Some liberties taken with the original

Note: Jive is named Washington Tymes in the on line cartoon, but the Washington Post wimped out in its print edition and renamed him Jive. Eli wimped out a bit too, some things are just too cruel. RTFR (you will have to click on the 2/09 cartoon but the others are pretty good too).

Thursday, February 08, 2007

MIT biology is not good for the health....

Pinko Punko has the inside poop on the latest MIT biology farce (lest you have forgotten the Picower vs. McGovern Institute death match over Alla Karpova)

MIT Prof and UC stem cell bete noir Jim Sherley is starting a hunger strike today for the purpose of ending racism at MIT and advancing his hopeless case for tenure. One of these positions is more noble than the other. Anyone out there with some inside poop-scoop from MIT? We’re looking at a particular someone with our eye-spy.
He also had the background earlier in the year.

You can find more at the Volokh Conspiracy, and 34 other blogs. Mark Eli's words, this one is going to chase Anna Nicole Smith's death (nil nisi bonem) and the homicidal astronaut off the supermarket pages. It has everything, a black professor at MIT hired as an under-represented minority in a program pushed by the Provost who is aggressively anti-abortion and embryonic stem cell research, winner of an NIH Pioneer award to develop adult stem cells, denied tenure and on a hunger strike.

Noam Chomsky, Al Sharpton, Michelle Malkin and James Dobson are going to be on the same side. Pass the popcorn.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The Rabett shatters his New Years Resolution....

A few months ago, in a post entitled, whom the government would destroy they first defund, Eli point to an article by Jim Hansen in World Watch which explains how NASA's 2006 budget for Earth Sciences was cut 20% without anyone noticing.

When the administration announced its planned fiscal 2007 budget. NASA science was listed as having typical changes of 1 percent or so. However, Earth Science research actually had a staggering reduction of about 20 percent from the 2006 budget. How could that be accomplished? Simple enough: reduce the 2006 research budget retroactively by 20 percent! One-third of the way into fiscal year 2006, NASA Earth Science was told to go figure out how to live with a 20-percent loss of the current year’s funds.
But why do this

One way to avoid bad news:stop the measurements! Only hitch: the first line of the NASA mission is “to understand and protect our home planet.”Maybe that can be changed to “...protect special interests’backside.”
So, why double post (other than the neat cartoon from the article, there is another one btw) Well, the big bird flew in from Boulder breathless with news. After feeding Eth some chocolate covered liver we discovered that the keen researchers at the Science Policy Institute had figured out that reductions in Climate Science Funding were just as bad in the Clinton years as under Bush Co, and how unscientificintegrety it was to criticize dear leader and Uncle Dick for chopping science:

From 1995 to 2001:

Climate science funding was cut from $2.234B to $1.886B (constant dollars), representing a cut of 15.6%. With respect to climate science funding as a proportion of domestic discretionary spending the cut is 23%.

Data from Rick Piltz's testimony and the Congressional Budget Office. Note that funding in 2000 and 2001 are virtually identical.

If the Bush Administration's cuts represent an assault on scientific integrity, then why wouldn't the larger cuts by the Clinton Administration also fall under that same category?

In my mind, conflating research budgets with heavy-handed Bush Administration communication policies is a mistake.

Now, in spite of temptation, Eli has been trying to resist piling on Roger. As a matter of fact he thought that some of the criticisms on this blog and elsewhere were, shall we say, a bit to enthusiastic at whacking the pinata. He was tempted mind you, and the occasional side swipe en passant did pass through his paws, but on the whole he has been trying to be as good as he can be. John Fleck almost turned the trick with his offer

  1. jfleck Says: January 30th, 2007 at 5:53 pm

    I think I’m gonna start a new “Pielke watch” feature on Inkstain, where I highlight people going all apoplectic about Roger. That guy’s like waving a red rag in front of you guys. :-)

  2. Eli Rabett Says: January 30th, 2007 at 7:12 pm

    You want me to break my New Year’s resolution again? I go on the wagon and you guys drag out the booze.

    Esteemed Coney

But ears over eyes the Rabett held out another week, even said some nice (for Eli) things about Roger, took Eth out for some exercise to hold down his energy level and such, until the above exchange started his whiskers twitching, and when whiskers twitch they must be twirled, so let us, as they say RTFR cited from today's Senate Commerce Committee testimony by Rick Pilz.

Funding for Global Change Research under the CCSP and USGCRP, Fiscal Years 1989 - 2008 (millions of dollars) funding

Fiscal Year

Actual $

Constant (2005) $




















































2006 (estimate)



2007 (request)



Climate Research funding increased strongly in the years of Bush I and for the first three years of the Clinton presidency. In FY 1996, it took a huge cut from 2.234 B$ to $2,039 and then declined slowly to 1886 in 2001. Eli took these figures to the local financial advisor. Ms. Rabett pointed out that something happened in 1995:

The Republicans took the US House and Senate genius.

Since the FY 2005 budget started in Oct. 2004, that was the last budget passed by the Democratic Congress. Those are the cuts of Newt Gingrich and Co. Given the choice they would have zeroed it out. To put not to a fine point on it, the 2001 budget was the last Clinton budget, so it is not so surprising that the budgets for FY2000 and FY 2001 are the same. While it is a bit harder to attribute the increase in FY2004 to the Democratic controlled Senate about to go glug, the thought occurs.

Now this passing thought should have occured to any policy wonk you'd find sleeping on a steam grate in DC, but why spoil a good post?

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Monty, monty, monty

Behind this door is $10,000 or an angry Ethon. There has been a desultory back and forth about the AEI's search for a better Global Climate Change Denialist Bingo Card, much of it conducted with lawyer like attention to fact when the facts are against you at Volokh Conspiracy. Eli, who actually has no horse in that camel race, came across an interesting pair of interviews on As It Happens, the CBC's evening news program with Steve Schroeder of Texas A&M and Kenneth Green the AEI quizmaster. Download the audio file. The interviews start at 14:00, you can advance the slider to that point. One interesting statement from Green is that the letter was sent MOSTLY to economists and policy analysts with a few scientists thrown in for seasoning.........

Monday, February 05, 2007

The Number...654,965.....

If this had been on-line Eli would have passed it on to Tim Lambert who owns the Lancet Mortality Study franchise, but it came as an article in the Johns Hopkins Alumni Magazine (Feb 07, may be on line later) by Dale Keiger. Why Hopkins? Gilbert Burnham is co-Director of the Hopkins Center for Refugee and Disaster Response and Professor in the Bloomberg School of Public Health. Les Roberts is adjunct there and lecturer at the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health.

UPDATE: Now on line with comments at Deltoid (2/7/07).

There are several interesting nuggets in this article that Eli has not seen elsewhere. For example Roberts had approached Burnham in 2004 who agreed to collaborate and provide the funding.

In September 2004 Roberts packed $20,000 in his shoes and a money belt, and lying on the floor of an SUV, slipped into Iraq from Jordan to coordinate the data gathering. Over three weeks, six trained Iraqi volunteers surveyed 7,868 people in 33 locations throughout the country.
As far as the funding of the second study
Burnham and Roberts began pondering a second survey as soon as they had published the first. Roberts hoped someone else would do it and, as an independent source, verity their results. But in late 2005, a group from the Center for International Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology approached them. They had $90,000 for research in conflict areas of the Middle East and sought advice on how to apply it. Burnham says, "We started discussing with them what you had to do. Within five minutes of starting that conversation, the MIR people said, "Would you guys like to do it?" The CRDR contributed additional funds, and Burnham, Roberts, and other Bloomberg School faculty set to work on a new mortality survey.
As to the design
Zeger (one of the collaborators on survey design), a professor of biostatistics, worried about "recall bias".....Zeger made sure that the second survey would cover not just the months elapsed since the conclusion of the first one, but go back over the period of the first study as well. If a new sample of people produced results closely corresponding to the earlier findings, that would go a long way toward validating both studies. He also advised taking a subset of 10 clusters from the first survey and sampling them again; not the same households, but the same neighborhoods.
Those who know more about the surveys would know if this was done. What about the accuracy of pre war reporting:
They (B&L) reminded people that even without the war, Iraqis should have been dying at the rate of at least 120,000 per year from natural causes, yet in 2002, before the invasion, the Iraqi government had reported only 40,000.
Raed Jarrar, a contributor to Foreign Policy.....He was country director of a 2003 door-to-door casualty survey, sponsored by the Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict (CIVIC), that counted 2,000 civilian deaths in Baghdad in roughly the first 100 days of the war. "I know how hard that [sort of survey is]," he said, and notes that his limited study recorded twice as many casualties as that period's official figure.
Fundamentally I agree with Burnham and Roberts that
the accuracy of our figures is not the most important aspect of this research. Yes, we are sure of the data. Yes, we are confident of our estimate. Of course the figures are important. But even if the number 654,965 is wrong, that's not the point. People whom the US has a duty to protect are dying. That's the point.
Johns Hopkins Magazine is slow getting stuff on line, but I will put up an update notice when the article appears.

UPDATE: Now accepting comments at Deltoid

Sunday, February 04, 2007

The muddle has moved.....

Eli brings good tidings. Some of the furry climate change group are being quite critical of Roger P Jr. accusing him of being "horrors" (please note scare quotes) the congressional Republicans favorite son and their choice to testify at the recent US House hearing on climate. Here at Rabett Run, we view this with a mixture of giggles and pleasure. Three months ago, given a single choice whom would the Republicans have picked?

Look at who they lined up last December for the ultimate Inhofian Environment and Public Works climate hearing
Bob Carter of Australia’s James Cook University, who has had over 100 papers published refereed scientific journals, noted that “there is huge uncertainly in every aspect of climate change.

David Deming, a geophysicist from the University of Oklahoma
European Warm Period and borehole fan, see his testimony
Dan Gainor of the Business & Media Institute (the Boone Pickens Free Market Fellow who is about to tempt Eli to make a VERY bad change in one of those words)
Whatever Eli has said about Roger (and he has said a lot), the good Dodger is an order of magnitude improvement on those characters and well represents one extreme of the reality based debate.

While everyone was chasing after the new SPM boyfriend....

Environmental Law Professor's Blog brings word of a Stern seminar, Wed Feb 14 at the JHU SAIS in Washington. Featured panelists are Alex Bowen, Senior Economic Adviser, The Stern Review, Henry (Jake) Jacoby, Professor of Management and Economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Joe Aldy, Fellow, Resources for the Future.

ELPB also has information from a conference call with Ken Cohen of Exxon, in which Cohen stated that

Exxon Mobil had no knowledge that AEI was soliciting scientists to comment upon the IPCC Assessment and that it did not condone any attempt to dispute or downplay the 4th IPCC assessment. The science "is what it is." Cohen called the assessment "the best compilation of thinking on the subject."

Friday, February 02, 2007

An early valentine for the Stoat

The grumpy young Stoat thinks that today's IPCC SPM was unexciting. The Independent has something completely over the top for him. If you are looking for something reasonable try Real Climate, but for something describing another planet we do have the Indy for you.....

+6.4°: Most of life is exterminated

Warming seas lead to the possible release of methane hydrates trapped in sub-oceanic sediments: methane fireballs tear across the sky, causing further warming. The oceans lose their oxygen and turn stagnant, releasing poisonous hydrogen sulphide gas and destroying the ozone layer. Deserts extend almost to the Arctic. "Hypercanes" (hurricanes of unimaginable ferocity) circumnavigate the globe, causing flash floods which strip the land of soil. Humanity reduced to a few survivors eking out a living in polar refuges. Most of life on Earth has been snuffed out, as temperatures rise higher than for hundreds of millions of years.

What happens at lower temps is also no picnic, at least according to the Indi

+3.4°: Rainforest turns to desert

The Amazonian rainforest burns in a firestorm of catastrophic ferocity, covering South America with ash and smoke. Once the smoke clears, the interior of Brazil has become desert, and huge amounts of extra carbon have entered the atmosphere, further boosting global warming. The entire Arctic ice-cap disappears in the summer months, leaving the North Pole ice-free for the first time in 3 million years. Polar bears, walruses and ringed seals all go extinct. Water supplies run short in California as the Sierra Nevada snowpack melts away. Tens of millions are displaced as the Kalahari desert expands across southern Africa

Couldn't make it up if you tried. Makes the Guardian seem reasonable.

UPDATE: Visitors from Adam Smith, welcome and feel free to check your climate bingo cards for a winner.