Worst graph ever

ResearchBlogging.orgA couple of scientists at the University of Montana say they have detected a small but non-negligible decline in global terretrial “net primary production.” NPP is basically a way of measuring plant growth — how much carbon they’re removing from their surroundings and turning into biomass. To my mind, there are two noteworthy aspects to their research, which just appeared in Science. Both led to me to the phrase that is the title for this post, although each use carries distinct meanings.
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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.

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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?
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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.

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The credibility factor

ResearchBlogging.orgThe more peer-reviewed papers a climatologist has published and the more often those papers are cited, the more likely it is that the researcher supports the science underpinning anthropogenic climate change (ACC). That’s the conclusion of a paper published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

This comes as absolutely no surprise to anyone working in or following the field. But scientists like to put numbers to things, and the paper, “Expert credibility in climate change” does a pretty good job of doing just that.
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Oops. The Sunday Times apologizes

Few stories about climatology generated as much attention, positive and negative as one by Jonathan Leake in London’s Sunday Times back in January. “UN climate panel shamed by bogus rainforest claim” claimed that references to threats to the Amazon rainforest from global warming were “based on an unsubstantiated claim by green campaigners who had little scientific expertise.” As pretty much anyone without an ulterior motive who bothered to look into the matter quickly discovered, that wasn’t true. Now, more than five months later, the Times has apologized for the story.

Joe at Climate Progress and Gavin at Real Climate have all the details.

The most interesting part of the apology, from my perspective as a former editor, is this:

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The climate consensus: How to take a quote out of context

In a desperate bid to help staunch the propagation of a particularly insidious meme, I offer this attempt to help clear up any confusion:

Mike Hulme and Martin Mahony of the School of Environmental Sciences University at East Anglia have a paper forthcoming in Progress in Physical Geography that explores the IPCC, “its origins and mandate; its disciplinary and geographical expertise; its governance and organisational learning; consensus and its representation of uncertainty; and its wider impact and influence on knowledge production, public discourse and policy development.”

The paper does not say that only a few dozen scientists support the idea that humans are warming the planet, no matter what blogger claims. Thanks to a certain columnist at Canada’s National Post, the notion that a leading climatologist would say just that in a peer-reviewed paper is making the rounds.

Here’s what it does say:
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