Archive for the ‘Climate Change’ Category

One Small Word, One Small Victory for Science

23 September 2015

The Associated Press revised its stylebook to eliminate the use of “skeptic” as a descriptive term for those who reject the science of climate change. I’ll take all such small victories

Don’t believe in climate change? You’re not a skeptic anymore


A Fantasy EPA Official Speaks

29 November 2014

One of my favorite profs in grad school always prefaced my name with “The Ironic Miss.” Indeed, irony and satire, still rate high with me.

Hence I love this little bit of satire from The Newsroom. Of course, I’d love it even more were it truly ironic and satirical. I fear our “reality” may be closer to irony and satire than this.

For the current carbon dioxide level, click here.


Addendum: Mother Jones fact checked this. Good article. As I said, the “satire” is mostly true; one gets more irony and satire reading some “news” and blog articles offered up by deniers. Still, all are pretty funny, funnier still if one is old and childless.

Peer Review: “The Dueling Ground for Experts”

21 October 2014

For decades now, I’ve tried to explain the peer review process to college students. Some understand immediately. Some venerate any peer-reviewed article. Some fail to grasp the concept entirely. And a few just don’t care.

That said, academic publishing, what these authors call “the dueling ground for experts,” continues to provide the cutting edge arguments on topics most people never hear about. I once heard–or more likely read–that once the layman finally accepts the truth of some hot academic topic, for example, penis envy in women, academics who’d been arguing the topic for years had long resolved the argument, often rejecting it, and moved on to something else.

From what I’m currently reading, this article included, the climate change skeptics look to be losing their duel quite dramatically.

“Another Global Warming Contrarian Paper Found to Be Unrealistic and Inaccurate”

Frankly, I wish they were winning. Unfortunately, I’m finding more and more articles, both peer reviewed and from high end magazines, that say things like this: “How the IPCC Underestimated Climate Change.”

The good news–for me–is that I’m old.


The Hoax Heats Up

20 May 2014

Despite a depressing stream of news stories on melting glaciers and such, I continue to find people still spewing about the climate change “hoax.” Since almost all of these–actually ALL the ones I’ve read–fail to provide links or lists of the resources that provide them with their information, I thought I’d offer one resource I just read.

NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center published “Global Analysis – April 2014”

Global Highlights

The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for April 2014 tied with 2010 as the highest on record for the month, at 0.77°C (1.39°F) above the 20th century average of 13.7°C (56.7°F).
The global land surface temperature was 1.35°C (2.43°F) above the 20th century average of 8.1°C (46.5°F), marking the third warmest April on record. For the ocean, the April global sea surface temperature was 0.55°C (0.99°F) above the 20th century average of 16.0°C (60.9°F), also the third highest for April on record.
The combined global land and ocean average surface temperature for the January–April period (year-to-date) was 0.64°C (1.15°F) above the 20th century average of 12.6°C (54.8°F), the sixth warmest such period on record.

Of course, these are just statistics from a world that is conspiring against you, loyal denier. I’m sure you’re right. It’s a hoax. Everything is.


Our Gift to the Future

12 May 2014

Those alive today are leaving behind a legacy of overuse, misuse, and uselessness mixed with a huge dose of denial and self-centeredness. Those born a generation or so down the line will pay for it in ways I do not wish to imagine.

“Scientists Warn of Rising Oceans as Antarctic Ice Melts”


Lies, Damned Lies, Statistics, and American Innumeracy

29 April 2014

When asked what he thought his odds were on winning a big lottery, one ticket buyer said, “Oh, fifty-fifty. I either win or I don’t.” Unfortunately for him, this poor guy is without a clue the actual odds were millions to one against him.

Unfortunately, this Mother Jones article argues that typical Americans are “unlikely” to be much more sophisticated than this lottery ticket buyer. In fact, it’s “very likely” they do not know the specifics of how scientists working on IPCC reports use these terms:

“Study: It Is “Very Likely” That Scientists Are Confusing Us about Global Warming”

Here’s a handy chart of what they mean when they use certain words:


So, after reading that, where do you fall on the scale of numeracy and comfort with statistics? Here’s a bit from the Mother Jones article. Read it and answer one question:

According to Budescu’s research, while the IPCC intends for “very likely” to mean a greater than 90 percent likelihood, that’s not necessarily the message the average person hears. Instead, when Budesco and his colleagues asked members of the public to assign a probability to the term “very likely,” the mean estimate people gave was just 62 percent.

OK, here’s the question. What does “mean” mean in the next to last line of this quotation?

If you don’t know, it’s “very likely” you ain’t that all that good with basic statistics and also “likely” you ain’t good with math at all.

Yeah, I know. It’s “virtually certain” I’m pedantic.


“Fox News Climate Change Coverage Is Now 28% Accurate, up from 7%”

9 April 2014

A 21% improvement sounds good, doesn’t it?

“Fox News Climate Change Coverage Is Now 28% Accurate, up from 7%”

Of course, sometimes it just means there’s a lot of room for vast improvement.


Plants LOVE Climate Change: Grapefruit Trees in Idaho Soon?

25 March 2014

Plants love climate change. I ran into this on a denier website yesterday and had the strength not to comment there. Instead, when I saw this old bromide rise once again, I wondered if this indicated reality was intruding. Of late I’ve been seeing more and more skeptics writing of the positive effects of climate change. Indeed there are some–although perhaps not for us.

At least this bit about plants needing carbon dioxide is true, unlike many points I’ve seen put forth by skeptics. Primary school science classes explain how plants require carbon dioxide to grow. However, before anyone starts planning on planting grapefruit trees in Idaho, I’ll mention that studies started coming out well over a decade ago indicating plants often suffered negative effects from increased carbon dioxide. I remember reading about good early growth but stunted growth during the fruiting phase for vegetables, problems with grass on grazing land, stuff like that. But then those came from studies done by pesky old (and young) scientists.

I haven’t seen any of these studies cited on the denier sites so far. Perhaps I haven’t read widely enough. Then again, folks who do primary research and controlled studies are a real buzz kill for climate change skeptics. Mostly, skeptics spend time attacking computer models. A worthy task, I grant. However, here’s a new study. No computer models were involved.

“In Ranchers Vs. Weeds, Climate Change Gives Weeds An Edge”

Oh well. Toadflax is quite pretty.


Global Warming Studies WRONG!!

14 February 2014

Yesterday, I saw an article that went on and on about how so many global warming models had proven to be wrong. I nodded my head but was a bit disappointed that this article failed to note that all the global warming studies I’ve seen proven wrong have failed because they were too conservative. Leaving out that tiny detail allowed them to speak the truth and lead some people to a false conclusion.

Unlike that article, one I clicked away from in disgust, the link below also takes readers to an article about how a couple hundred scientific studies on methane emissions were wrong:

Yup. The scientists were wrong. The situation is much worse than they indicated.

I expect this from scientists. While often politically liberal, scientists tend to be quite conservative in their conclusions.


Money Meets Reality?

27 January 2014

This article from Bloomberg shows what can happen to large corporate entities when reality intrudes:

“Global Warming Battle Is over Market Share, Not Science”

The bottom line really is the bottom line, isn’t it?