Thursday, December 11, 2014

Happy Anniversary - Ten Years of sharing real science

H/T to Sou at Hotwhopper

I'm surprised to find it's already been a decade since began. It's sad reflecting on the malicious dirty tricks and lies they've been subjected to, though it's reassuring to know they have survived and continue to offer the highest quality climate science information to those who are interested in learning.

To celebrate I'm going to share some of their anniversary write up and also their original introductory post since it's a nice encapsulation of the sad state of affairs, tragically as true today as a decade ago, and their commitment to help rational folks sieve through all the competing claims and evidence. 

Filed under: Climate Science Communicating Climate — group @ 10 December 2014

In the spring of 2004, when we (individually) first started talking to people about starting a blog on climate science, almost everyone thought it was a great idea, but very few thought it was something they should get involved in. Today, scientists communicating on social media is far more commonplace. On the occasion of our 10 year anniversary today it is worth reflecting on the impact of those changes, what we’ve learned and where we go next.

Why we started and why we continue

The introductory post Welcome to RealClimate set out our aspiration:
RealClimate is a commentary site on climate science by working climate scientists for the interested public and journalists. We aim to provide a quick response to developing stories and provide the context sometimes missing in mainstream commentary.
Looking back, we think we’ve done well on both these goals. We have provided the most, and the most accessible, context on topics like climate sensitivity, GCMs, attribution, paleo-climate than any other site, with an exception only for the IPCC reports themselves and other assessments, while engaging in depth with commenters from the interested public, journalists and other scientists. We haven’t led the response to every developing story on climate science (an impossible task), but we did where it mattered. Our rebuttals of shop-worn contrarian rhetoric built off experiences on USENET and at Tim Lambert’s Deltoid, and have now been enhanced further at places like

When we started, there were a number of motivations: the desire to have a site where scientists communicated directly with the interested public on issues arising from the “The Day After Tomorrow” say, or provided rebuttals to misinformation as the “The Panda’s Thumb” did for evolution science, or just to write down background we gave to journalists so that we didn’t have to repeat ourselves. But the impetus to keep this going has been a continued desire to elevate the level of conversation on climate so that people could get a sense of what the real issues in the science were, as opposed to arguing about irrelevancies. ...

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RealClimate Posts highest ranked by Google by year:

2004CO2 in ice cores
2005Water vapour: feedback or forcing?
2006Al Gore’s Movie
2008FAQ on climate models
2009The CRU Hack
2010Feedback on cloud feedback
2011Misdiagnosis of surface temperature feedback
2012Extremely Hot
2013The new IPCC climate report
2014Climate response estimates from Lewis and Curry
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Welcome to RealClimate
  1. Filed under: Climate Science — group @ 9 December 2004 -
Climate science is one of those fields where anyone, regardless of their lack of expertise or understanding, feels qualified to comment on new papers and ongoing controversies. This can be frustrating for scientists like ourselves who see agenda-driven ‘commentary’ on the Internet and in the opinion columns of newspapers crowding out careful analysis. 
Many scientists participate in efforts to educate the public and to rebut or debunk rather fanciful claims or outright misrepresentations by writing in popular magazines such as EOS and New Scientist or in the Comments section of journals. However, this takes time to put together, and by the time it’s out, mainstream attention has often moved elsewhere. Since these rebuttals appear in the peer-reviewed literature, these efforts (in the long run) are useful. However, a faster response would sometimes be helpful in ensuring that the context of breaking stories is more widely distributed at the time. 
Journalists with deadlines and scant knowledge of the field quite often do not know where to go for this context on papers that are being pushed by some of the partisan think-tanks or other interested parties. This can lead to some quite mainstream outlets inadvertently publishing some very dubious and misleading ideas. 
RealClimate is a commentary site on climate science by working climate scientists for the interested public and journalists. We aim to provide a quick response to developing stories and provide the context sometimes missing in mainstream commentary. 
In order to limit the scope to those issues where we can claim some competence, the discussion here is restricted to scientific topics. Thus we will not get involved in political or economic issues that arise when discussing climate change. The validity of scientific information is completely independent of what society decides to do (or not) about that information. Constructive comments and questions are welcome, as are guest articles from other scientists who may choose to contribute on an occasional basis.
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