Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Considering examples of Lewandowsky's "Seepage" at the MET Office.

A spectator's perspective

Recently a team of researchers published a paper titled "Seepage: Climate change denial and its effect on the scientific community" - it looks at examples of how the fabricated contrarian talking points are impacting the way scientists describe their work and even what they study. 

It caught my attention because I've long been interested in better understanding, why that increasing disconnect between what most people believe about global warming and the reality unfolding upon this planet?

It's like the more information is gathered and the deeper the details we focus on, the less we're accepting what's happening.

It has been obvious to me that the cause of much misunderstanding has been decades worth of deliberate effort.  Fabricated confusion by a plethora of politically motivated groups such as the Marshall Institute, CATO, Heartland Institute - organizations who make no bones about their "mission," which was/is a ruthless dedication to winning and holding on to their "free" market political/economic agenda.  

Read their literature nowhere does learning how our planet operates appear among their stated priorities.  Yet, they are calling the shots of what's supposed to be a public education dialogue about climate science.

So instead of learning, what we get is a flood of publications and media products intent on fostering confusion and disinterest, rather than curiosity, learning and understanding.  These right-wing interests work overtime to build an alternate universe thus creating distrust and paranoia towards the scientists who's results they fear.  Their tools are irrelevant questions, diversions and conjectures infused with hostility and distrust-mongering towards everyone who disputes their storyline. 

Most telling is that "they" (the Republican/libertarian PR machine, to be exact) never offer any rational paths towards establishing the truth of a matter (to the best of our abilities).

On the other side of this reality, we have many tens of thousands of individuals who possess smart brains and a passionate curiosity.  People who have dedicated their live's to learning about the world through science.  People for whom observing, learning and better appreciating the wonders of our world is more important than accumulating the shackles of wealth - the wealth that the Republican/libertarian crowd seem to believe is all there is to life and happiness.

I think the "Seepage" paper is important because I hope it will force scientists to actually ask themselves how much the public media campaign to distort the science and stall action has seeped into their own pursuit and presentation of their science.

What's the "Seepage" part?  I'm no scholar, but I suggest scholars ought to study the MET Office to figure out why they write such awful and misleading copy when trying to communicate the data and science to the public.

This relates to what in my eyes is one of the most egregious examples of "Seepage."  Namely, the sad story of a tabloid writer's false ranting and malicious conjecturing about dishonest scientists and global temperature rise "pausing." A meme that became the talk of nations on the way to becoming the number one PR weapon to further forestall facing the physical reality that's unfolding in front of us.  


What's with the labeling of the METOffice "Global Surface Temperature" record?  It is no such thing, considering it's missing most of the polar regions along with large swaths of Africa and South America and other patches across the globe!  

I keep wondering, how in the world can they possibly keep writing that without a huge clarifying asterisk?

At that MET webpage you'll find further examples of stuff like: "How is the global average temperature calculated?" when they are talking strictly about surface global temperatures.  And we wonder why the public is confused?

Also notice, nowhere on that MET Office "Global Surface Temperature" webpage is there a sidebar pointing out that the surface contains 10% of our climate systems heat energy.  Why isn't this physical reality reflected in everything they write about their "GLOBAL surface temperature" graphs? 

I suggest it's either a subconscious or conscious effort to appease hostile forces.  You know, keep a low profile least the MET Office suffer another nightmare public flogging.

As "Seepage" goes, it spreads.  

My second example is the observation that when I've complained about this incorrect labeling, whether to the METOffice or some scientists I've corresponded with, it get's shrugged it off as no big deal.  

Yet this meme has taken over the public imagination and given people reason to think our Grand Global Experiment isn't proceeding full steam ahead.

This meme based on careless descriptions has allowed leaders and the public to forget that greenhouse gases in our atmosphere continue doing what they do 24/7/365, meaning that yes, increased amounts of heat continue to be retained by 400ppm CO2 atmosphere, no matter what the best estimates of our surface temperatures say.  

Stop confusing the map with territory!  How can we hope for people to understand the details of internal fluctuations of various components within the system, when they don't yet understand the basics of the global heat engine that is our climate system?

It matters because the longer we wait to recognize our situation the worse it'll be for our children.

Models and observations are supposed to be tools for understanding our planet.  Of course that information will never be perfect, never has been, never will be.  Our brains are made to process what information we can gather and then arrive at conclusions and make decisions.  We don't need exact numbers to understanding what we are doing and what is happening.  We need passion for learning and respect for honesty.

Seepage: Climate change denial and its effect on the scientific community
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Seepage: The effect of climate denial on the scientific community

By Stephan Lewandowsky
Professor, School of Experimental Psychology and Cabot Institute, University of Bristol
Posted on 7 May 2015
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Comparing Temperature Data Sets

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