Time to regroup

In case anyone was wondering, blogging will be light for the rest of the summer, as I try to step back and once again consider just what my role, and that of this blog, will be in the dialog over what to do about our changing climate.

The news that the U.S. Senate will not pass any kind of legislation dealing with reducing fossil-fuel emissions this year should give us all pause. The recent near-collapse of Scienceblogs a few weeks ago introduced a complicating factor with which I still haven’t completed come to grips. Plus there’s logistical issues: I’m busy doing things that actually pay the bills, and our annual family vacation is looming in Augus. So unless something really big pops up, the posts for the next few weeks will be few and brief.

The Earth will survive

Stanford physicist Robert B. Laughlin shared a Nobel prize in 1998 for helping explain something called the fractional quantum Hall effect. That particular phenomenon has nothing to do with climatology, and neither does the rest of Laughlin’s c.v. Still, one might expect something cogent about the public policy challenge posed by anthropogenic climate change if it appears under the byline of such a scientific luminary. One would, in this case, be wrong.

Continue reading “The Earth will survive”

Support honesty in the climate wars

It would be preferable to simply ignore Christopher Monckton’s seemingly laughable attempts to undermine climatology, but given the power of the Internet to turn long-discredited arguments into serious threats to academic freedom, such a strategy would not be wise. Monckton has launched a campaign against John Abraham of St. Thomas University for daring to demolish the former’s mendacious presentations on global warming. Abraham’s repost is thorough and devastating. So devastating and damaging to Monckton’s credibility is it that Monckton is asking for his acolytes to flood the university with calls for disciplinary action against Abraham.

Continue reading “Support honesty in the climate wars”

Obsessing over ice cover

ResearchBlogging.orgThere’s more than a few climate bloggers who have a dirty little secret. We like to excoriate those who can’t tell the difference between weather and climate, or herald every momentary drop in temperature as evidence that global warming has ended, or revel in each new report that suggests not every single square millimeter of the planet’s surface is experiencing dramatic climate shifts. As we should. But many of us take a peek, every morning, at the daily version of a graph from the National Snow and Ice Data Center depicting current sea-ice extent in the Arctic.

We know that what happens from day to day tells us nothing useful about global climate change. We know that the only things that supply meaningful information are measured on the scale of decades and even centuries, not days, weeks or months. And yet we still obsess on that damn graph. Why?
Continue reading “Obsessing over ice cover”

Failing the Pepsi Challenge

It took a couple of days, but the overlords at SEED Media Group have aborted the Food Frontiers blog. If anyone is still wondering why so many members of the Scienceblogs community abandoned ship after we learned that Pepsi had bought itself blogging space at SB, as good an explanation as any can be found in an email I received Thursday from a friend of the family. She had copied me on a letter she had written to SB CEO Adam Bly:

Continue reading “Failing the Pepsi Challenge”

Michael Mann cleared … again

Penn State’s internal investigation into climatologist Michael Mann’s integrity is over. The conclusion:

The Investigatory Committee, after careful review of all available evidence, determined that there is no substance to the allegation against Dr. Michael E. Mann, Professor, Department of Meteorology, The Pennsylvania State University.

More specifically, the Investigatory Committee determined that Dr. Michael E. Mann did not engage in, nor did he participate in, directly or indirectly, any actions that seriously deviated from accepted practices within the academic community for proposing, conducting, or reporting research, or other scholarly activities.

The decision of the Investigatory Committee was unanimous.

We now return you to regularly scheduled programming,

What to do with the climate denial zombies

My first reaction to the papier du jour among climate communications activists was “meh.” It’s not that Chris Mooney’s latest ruminations on the gap between what the public thinks about scientific issues and what scientists have to say isn’t worth reading. It’s just that we’ve been down this road so many times now, the standards of what passes for new and remarkable are getting rather high.

Continue reading “What to do with the climate denial zombies”