Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Open Letter to E&E News reporter Scott Waldman" Global? What global?

The past two days I've been catching up on the latest internet climate science faux-scandal, the John Bates affair.  Fortunately enough has been written about it, see the preceding post for those detailsthat I won't rehash it here.  What I do want to rehash is how easily communicators and reporters fall into the contrarians script without even recognizing it.  My case in point is an otherwise good article written by Energy and Environment News reporter Scott Waldman.  Reading the offending sentence I felt so irritated I sat down to write him an email that blossomed beyond first intentions and that I want to share since this blog is all about trying to provoke some thought, perhaps even a little soul searching.

Dear Mr. Waldman,

I read your article “'Whistleblower' says protocol was breached but no data fraud” ) with much interest, but when I got to the section “Bates: Be careful of bias.” You wrote, "For many years, climate scientists were puzzled by an apparent plateau in global temperatures. …

What the heck? Global SURFACE temperatures are NOT "global temperatures”!!  Why are you repeating that contrarian meme?  It was global surface temperatures that seems to "pause" although that was never true either since record temps kept happening.  The best that can honestly be said is that the rate of increase had apparently slowed.  If I’m being inaccurate please call me on it.

Besides, that 'apparent pause [sic] in Global SURFACE Temperatures, excluded the rapidly warming poles and some other less significant areas of our planet’s surface. Here again, if I'm mistaken on that point, someone please correct me.  
¶8  It has been suggested20 that the lack of Arctic surface measurements has resulted in an underestimate of the true rate of GMST increase in the early twenty-first century. Independent satellite-based observations21,22 of the temperature of the lower troposphere (TLT; Fig. 2f) have near-global, time- invariant coverage. Although satellite TLT datasets also have important uncertainties21, they corroborate the slowdown of GMST increase23 and provide independent evidence that the slowdown is a real phenomenon.  Fyfe et al. 2016

Also see: 

"Coverage bias in the HadCRUT4 temperature series and its impact on recent temperature trends."  Kevin Cowtan and Robert Way - 2014 see comments.

Authorsebruary 2014

I'm not out to be a jerk here.  I am trying to press a critically important but overly overlooked communication failure.  Why don't you communicators include a reminder that it's the atmospheric insulation doing the actual heavy lifting on this Manmade Global Warming experiment we are running?  

CO2 is our atmosphere's insulation regulator.  For a million years its fluctuated from 180 ppm to 280ppm, a couple times almost 300 ppm before dropping back to ~180 ppm.  It took a hundred thousand years for the cycle to repeat itself.  100 ppm was all it took to make the difference between the world we know and ice sheets covering our continents.

Now in a matter of a century and a half we have cranked that Atmospheric Insulation Regulator up to 400 ppm.  That CO2 and other greenhouse gases do their insulation thing 24/7/365.25, no hiatus for those little molecules and photons of energy.  It’s criminal to continue ignoring that fundamental reality for the sake of arguing over tiny differences in the estimated temperature figure. 

All the rest is accounting!  We live on a large complex planet with an atmosphere, land masses, a cryosphere, and oceans that hold 90% of our climate system’s heat.  Measuring the heat flowing between these systems is exceedingly difficult and expensive.  It’s no wonder that the effort is a non-stop learning process.  It can’t be expected to tell us everything, immediately and with absolute accuracy.  Demanding that expectation is a dishonest political tactic that goes way under reported.  

How about a little more light on that bias which is founded on an absolutist faith-based world view that is intellectually worse than childish - its autistic.  But its also fortified by economic political powers and a PR machine that beats all.  People who apparently couldn't care less about honestly learning, or about the health of our planet, or the future we are leaving our children - avarice and power is as far as their mental horizons reach.

They have been very successful at creating a public perception that climate scientists can not be trusted, based on nothing but false and malicious innuendo and red-flag phraseology.  That tactic needs to be confronted head on. 

Stop allowing dishonest manipulators to own the script.  How about working harder to convey an appreciation of what our global heat and moisture distribution engine is all about in a manner that connects with the under educated? 

The science communication and news community needs to do more to highlight and confront the issue of the Republican's acceptance of factual lying and slander.

Thank you for your time and best wishes,

Seepage: The effect of climate denial on the scientific community

Professor, School of Experimental Psychology and Cabot Institute, University of Bristol
Posted on 7 May 2015

The article “Seepage: Climate change denial and its effect on the scientific community” just appeared in Global Environmental Change. The article is authored by me and Naomi Oreskes, James S. Risbey, Ben R. Newell, and Michael Smithson.
It is open access and can be found here.

Seepage: The Executive Summary
We initiate our argument with the known fact that vested interests and political agents have long opposed political or regulatory action in response to climate change by appealing to scientific uncertainty. We know from earlier work that uncertainty is no cause for inaction—on the contrary, greater scientific uncertainty should make us worry more, not less, about the potential consequences of climate change. Alas, those actual scientific implications are often inverted in public discourse where uncertainty often invites wishful thinking and hence inaction. In this new article, we examine the effect of contrarian talking points that arise out of uncertainty on the scientific community itself. We show that although scientists are trained in dealing with uncertainty, there are several psychological and cognitive reasons why scientists may nevertheless be susceptible to uncertainty-based argumentation, even when scientists recognize those arguments as false and are actively rebutting them. …

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CO2 Science - Why We Can Be Sure.

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Archive, Hanscom AFB Atmospheric Studies, 
Cambridge Research Lab

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citizenschallenge said...

I received a short friendly note from Scott this morning acknowledging my concerns and assuring his interest.

I thank Scott Waldman for that.

citizenschallenge said...

I thank Elizabeth Kent for making the effort to respond to my questions and taking the time to share some papers I should have been familiar with, but alas I am just a lay-person doing this in my spare time. I don't pretend to have the horsepower to keep up with publications. Then again some like this first one I recall seeing, but promptly forgot about it.

"Coverage bias in the HadCRUT4 temperature series and its impact on recent temperature trends."
Kevin Cowtan and Robert Way - 2014.

A review of uncertainty in in situ measurements and data sets of sea surface temperature
John J Kennedy, Jan 2014

Another thing the malicious contrarian crowd always ignores is that temperature adjustments are accompanied by detail explanations. -

citizenschallenge said...

That reminds me.

You know a constant refrain from the GOP (in their concerted attack on rational science) is that scientists are not to be trusted. Yet, every time I deal with them and receive responses to my inquires, I find the individuals helpful, honest and very conservative with their statements (to a fault from my Earth-centric perspective - though that's only because an industry has been set up to distort and misrepresent everything they write or say.).

If Republic's possessed a shred of intellectual integrity and sense of fair play and constructive learning - that would not be an issue,