Archive for Sunday, November 29, 2009

Science as a Contact Sport’ probes global warming battle

November 29, 2009


Stephen H. Schneider, winner of one of those $500,000 genius grants, has written a witty, informative and impassioned account of perils he sees in global warming and what to do about them.

But if a curious high school halfback is tempted by the title "Science as a Contact Sport: Inside the Battle to Save Earth's Climate," he may find himself blocked by a line of climatological reasoning and terms such as "ecology" and "anthropogenic," rarely heard on the football field.

Using plainer language, Schneider raises a broader problem than climate change.

"Can democracy survive complexity?" he asks.

It seems clear to him that scientific judgments, reached as a consensus of career-long study, should overwhelm national rivalries and partisan politics when governments have great decisions to make. He questions the news principle of balance: that is, a controversial statement should be followed by a statement from the other side.

"If the public understood the basics of the real risks to nature, and to themselves, their posterity and their world, they would be much more likely to send strong signals to their representatives to act in a precautionary way," he writes.

For decades, governments and scientists have been citing dangers of global warming as facts and huge problems. But not everybody agrees. Some doubting scientists and businesses that would be hit by the cost of eliminating pollutants have helped stall international accord on countermeasures. So has failure of the U.S. and Chinese governments to compromise on what should be done to limit emissions of carbon dioxide.

The view of Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, former chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, is among the most hostile. Schneider says the senator accused him of fathering "the greatest environmental hoax."

Schneider emphasizes that scientists take extreme pains to estimate the probability and effects of climate change, rather than just saying dangers are possible. He's a professor of biological sciences and has advised seven presidents. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change spend much of their time translating words such as "likely" or "very likely" into percentages of probability.

That work resembles calculating odds on a football game, only the calculation on this game - the possible worldwide disasters of climate change - has been going on for more than 30 years.


alexgoristal 8 years, 2 months ago

You must truly be desperate to trot out Stephen H. Schneider as a credible source for anything. For those who are very young, or who have conveniently short memories, the UEA - CRU efforts to cook the data to produce a predetermined result are not unprecedented. Michael Mann, Phil Jones, & co are, in fact, the philosophical heirs of Schneider in this regard,.since it was none other than Schneider who was the original advocate (over three decades ago) for deliberately misrepresenting the science in order to achieve a desired political outcome. Of course, at the time, Steve was touting an anthropomorphic ICE AGE as the catastrophic flavor du jour, not man-driven global warming. In spite of his academic awards (or perhaps in the same vein), Schneider is no more than an intellectually dishonest, morally bankrupt, and thoroughly discredited purveyor of fraud. He is the scientific community's answer to Bernard Madoff. Why anyone would continue to give this self-admitted scammer the time of day, much less buy into his arguments, is beyond comprehension.

-Alexander Goristal

Godot 8 years, 2 months ago

from the WSJ:

"from Mike Hulme, another climate scientist at the University of East Anglia, as reported by a New York Times blogger:

"This event might signal a crack that allows for processes of re-structuring scientific knowledge about climate change. It is possible that some areas of climate science has become sclerotic. It is possible that climate science has become too partisan, too centralized. The tribalism that some of the leaked emails display is something more usually associated with social organization within primitive cultures; it is not attractive when we find it at work inside science."

The response from the defenders of Mr. Mann and his circle has been that even if they did disparage doubters and exclude contrary points of view, theirs is still the best climate science. The proof for this is circular. It's the best, we're told, because it's the most-published and most-cited—in that same peer-reviewed literature. The public has every reason to ask why they felt the need to rig the game if their science is as indisputable as they claim."

The entire article is here:

Flap Doodle 8 years, 2 months ago

Hide the body.....

"SCIENTISTS at the University of East Anglia (UEA) have admitted throwing away much of the raw temperature data on which their predictions of global warming are based. It means that other academics are not able to check basic calculations said to show a long-term rise in temperature over the past 150 years. The UEA’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU) was forced to reveal the loss following requests for the data under Freedom of Information legislation. The data were gathered from weather stations around the world and then adjusted to take account of variables in the way they were collected. The revised figures were kept, but the originals — stored on paper and magnetic tape — were dumped to save space when the CRU moved to a new building." "The CRU is the world’s leading centre for reconstructing past climate and temperatures. Climate change sceptics have long been keen to examine exactly how its data were compiled. That is now impossible. Roger Pielke, professor of environmental studies at Colorado University, discovered data had been lost when he asked for original records. “The CRU is basically saying, ‘Trust us’. So much for settling questions and resolving debates with science,” he said."

Richard Heckler 8 years, 2 months ago

Global Warming

Global warming is one of the most serious challenges facing us today. To protect the health and economic well-being of current and future generations, we must reduce our emissions of heat-trapping gases by using the technology, know-how, and practical solutions already at our disposal.


Key Provisions in the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) introduced the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act. Though the bill in many ways mirrors the strong comprehensive framework of the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES) that passed in the House in June, there are several key areas in which the legislation differs.

New Series of Reports on Climate Impacts to U.S. Midwest The Confronting Climate Change in the U.S. Midwest series shows that without strong action to reduce heat-trapping emissions, midwestern states could face dramatic changes including an increase in the number of extreme heat days, more intense spring rains that delay agricultural planting, and an expansion of crop-damaging pests.

Costs of Climate Inaction Failing to act on climate change is prohibitively expensive—from flooding and storm damage in coastal communities to health care costs and agricultural losses in our heartland. Unchecked climate change could saddle taxpayers with hundreds of billions of dollars in damages. Learn about costs in your region, and the Senate bill aimed at limiting our climate impact.

New Study Shows Sensible Path to Clean Energy Economy Climate 2030: A National Blueprint for a Clean Energy Economy found that implementing a smart set of climate, energy, and transportation policies can save consumers and businesses money while deeply reducing our nation's heat-trapping emissions.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 2 months ago

Scientific Integrity

Political interference in federal government science is weakening our nation's ability to respond to the complex challenges we face. Because policy makers depend on impartial research to make informed decisions, we are mobilizing scientists and citizens alike to push for reforms that will enable our leaders to fully protect our health, safety, and environment.

Science Idol: The Scientific Integrity Editorial Cartoon Contest After more than 10,000 votes were cast, Jesse Springer of Eugene, OR won this year's Science Idol editorial cartoon contest with a cartoon about science and the Endangered Species Act. See all of the cartoons from the competition and order a 2010 Scientific Integrity Calendar featuring Jesse's cartoon on the cover.

Scientific Integrity Progress Report Has the Obama administration’s action matched its rhetoric on scientific integrity? We've put together a progress report on the administration's first few months in office, highlighting instances where science has been defended, as well as the significant work yet to be done.

Recommendations for the Obama Administration UCS has put developed a set of detailed steps President Obama and Congress can take to restore scientific integrity to federal policy making. UCS

The recommendations are based on input from thousands of scientists, current and former government science advisors, congressional aides, reporters, and public interest organizations from throughout the political spectrum.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 2 months ago

Abuses of Science


* FDA Medical Device Approval based on Politics, not Science
* Last Ditch Effort to Limit Science in Endangered Species Act Rescinded
* Surveys of Scientists at Federal Agencies
* A to Z Guide to Political Interference in Science

  • 2008 Scientist Statement: Scientific Freedom and the Public Good
  • 2004 Scientist Statement on Restoring Scientific Integrity to Federal Policy Making


* Focus on Biodiversity and Endangered Species: Scientific Integrity at the Department of Interior
* Focus on Environmental Protection: Interference at the EPA
* Focus on Climate Science: Atmosphere of Pressure


* Freedom to Speak? A Report Card on Federal Agency Media Policies (2008)
* Survey: EPA Scientists (2007)
* Survey: FDA Scientists (2006)
* Survey: Federal Climate Scientists (2006)
* Scientific Integrity in Policy Making (March 2004)
* Survey: National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries Scientists (2005)
* Survey: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Scientists (2005)
* Poll: The Public's Belief in Independent Science (2004)
* Scientific Integrity in Policy Making (July 2004)


* Scientific Integrity in the News
* Editorials on the Misuse of Science
* Timeline of Abuses of Science
* Alphabetical List of Case Studies
* Scientific Integrity Curriculum Guide
* Information for the Media

Richard Heckler 8 years, 2 months ago

Climate Change Research Distorted and Suppressed

Jump to the June 2005 update

The George W. Bush administration consistently sought to undermine the public’s understanding of the view held by the vast majority of climate scientists that human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases are making a discernible contribution to global warming.1

After coming to office, the administration asked the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to review the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and provide further assessment of what climate science could say about this issue.2 The NAS panel rendered a strong opinion, which, in essence, confirmed that of the IPCC. The American Geophysical Union, the world’s largest organization of earth scientists, has also released a strong statement describing human-caused disruptions of Earth’s climate.3 Yet even in the face of this overwhelming scientific concensus, Bush administration spokespersons continued to contend that the uncertainties in climate projections and fossil fuel emissions are too great to warrant mandatory action to slow emissions.4

In May 2002, President Bush expressed disdain for a State Department report5 to the United Nations that pointed to a clear human role in the accumulation of heat-trapping gases and detailed the likely negative consequences of climate change; the president called it “a report put out by the bureaucracy.”6 In September 2002, the administration removed a section on climate change from the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) annual air pollution report,7 even though the climate issue had been discussed in the report in each of the preceding five years.

Then, in one well-documented case, the Bush administration blatantly tampered with the integrity of scientific analysis at a federal agency when, in June 2003, the White House tried to make a series of changes to the EPA’s draft Report on the Environment.8 A front-page article in the New York Times broke the news that White House officials tried to force the EPA to substantially alter the report’s section on climate change. The EPA report, which referenced the NAS review and other studies, stated that human activity is contributing significantly to climate change.9

Interviews with current and former EPA staff, as well as an internal EPA memo reviewed for this report, revealed that the White House Council on Environmental Quality and the Office of Management and Budget demanded major amendments including:

Chris Golledge 8 years, 2 months ago

Just a slight problem, with this statement,

"The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change spend much of their time translating words such as "likely" or "very likely" into percentages of probability."

It's rather the other way around, the data has its own means, standard deviations, and confidence intervals; a handful of algorithms will tell you what those are with little room for debate. The ranges of possibilities can be bounded by different studies. From there, percentages fall out of the statistics. But, your average person doesn't understand statistics very well. So, the authors struggle to come to an agreement on how those translate into more common terms.

Chris Golledge 8 years, 2 months ago


snap_pop_no_crackle (Anonymous) says…

Hide the body…..

“scientists at the University of East Anglia (UEA) have admitted throwing away much of the raw temperature data on which their predictions of global warming are based."

So, Snap, if you had readings from a thermometer which frequently higher or lower than others around it, would you include it in your analysis or not?

If you found that thermometers located in urban areas consistently read higher on calm days than or windy days, relative to their neighbors, (see 'heat island effect') would you keep the outlying data?

Somebody says, 'Yeah, we through out a bunch of data that we believed were invalid.' and you jump to, 'Aha! You guys are conspiring!'

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