Sunday, February 7, 2010

Science magazine confused about who is a “prominent climate scientist”?

On a number of blogs one recenty could read: Science magazine is confused about who is a “prominent climate scientist”. In Science magazine’s “News of the Week” there was a short report about our (Tol, Pielke, von Storch) piece in der SPIEGEL (Deutsch, English) in which we asked for a new chairman of IPCC and other measures.

One could read "You won’t a surprise to learn that an opinion piece reprinted by the uber-anti-science editors at the WSJ isn’t in fact written by 'three prominent climate scientists.' -- Two of the people you call 'prominent climate scientist' aren’t even climate scientists!" They referred to Richard Tol and Roger Pielke.

One wonders, what the problem is. I would label anybody writing scholarly papers in peer-reviewed journals about climate, climate dynamics, climate variability, climate change, climate impact, adaptation, mitigation or climate policies as "climate scientist", and both Richard Tol and Roger Pielke (jr) have written many fine articles of that sort. Thus, there is no need to question whether these two men are "climate scientists". They are, in my opinion excellent ones with an extraordinary broad range of interest and competence.

Or is it so that these bloggers consider only meteorologists, oceanographers and geographers as climate scientists? Would the fact the neither Tol nor Pielke have a degree in one of these disciplines disqualify them for making significant contributions to the science of climate? Having worked since the early 1980 in climate science (I believe), I have learned that there is no specific climate discipline; that we would hire young people with all kind of scientific (wissenschaftlichen) background, as long as they were open minded, willing to understand the issues and employ scientific methodology. I myself came from mathematics - am I a climate scientist?. Has it something to do that the wonderfully precise German word "Wissenschaftler" is not the same as the anglo-saxon "scientist"? Or is it so that these bloggers just lack understanding and better topics to discuss about?


Mathis Hampel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hans von Storch said...

Why would you say, Tol and Pielke are NOT climate scientists? WHAT makes a person a (climate) scientist?

Carl C said...

I would say having a few peer-reviewed publications of climate in noted journals (i.e. Science, Nature, JGR etc) would allow one to call themselves a climate scientist, regardless if their background is in math or econ or engineering. This doesn't include or count for those posting pieces in the Economist or some right-wing think tank of course! :-)

Although this would now include McIntyre & McKitrick I suppose, as they have had "bona fide" publications as well as ones that are just propaganda or "puff pieces" for the Exxon Climate Review etc.

Mathis Hampel said...

I agree, I should have written "non-climate scientists". I get the impression that the term climate scientist only refers to natural sciences which is why I was speaking of boundaries (which were drawn by meteorolgy, atmopspheric chemistry and physics etc.) The IPCC also involves economists or political scientists- who are climate scientists if we think of climate scientists as researchers whose work is to some degree based on or is compatible with the natural sciences' description of the world through, e.g., carbon as molecule.

Richard Tol said...

The discussion on Joe Romm's piece is most interesting. I've now been banned from posting there, apparently because I corrected one too many of his mistakes.

I'm an economist, a social scientist therefore. I don't mind if someone calls me a climate scientist, or a climate non-scientist. I don't care.

I'm getting a bit tired, though, of labels -- particularly if I am not supposed to talk to people (let alone listen) who wear the wrong label.

Anonymous said...

The claim that someone is not a climate scientist is used as an ad hominem attack when one's work disagrees with the standard doctrine. Then anyone with less than three degrees in "Climate Science" and six papers in top-notch peer-reviewed publications will be claimed to not be a climate scientist; of course such requirements will shift to avoid matching the record of the individual being attacked. There is no problem in accepting people who echo the doctrine no matter what their background is, as is apparent from looking at the record of any of the IPCC star scientists.

P Gosselin said...

"'...the uber-anti-science editors at the WSJ isn’t in fact written by 'three prominent climate scientists.' -- Two of the people you call 'prominent climate scientist' aren’t even climate scientists!' They referred to Richard Tol and Roger Pielke."

It's a sophomoric namecalling tactic one often hears from those who have failed to put forward any science that supports their hypotheses. A sure Sign of Desparation.

Indeed there's even a website called "RealClimate" run by "real climate scientists". The site wants you to believe that anything written anywhere else is not from real climate scientists, and thus is not real climate science, unless of course it has the RC stamp of approval.

No no ladies and gentlemen - we all know where the real climate science is to be found: at RealClimate. and of course and in the "scientific" reports cited by the IPCC 4AR.

Carl C said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hans von Storch said...

Folks, could somebody try, real hard try to suggest a logic behind the statement "Tol and Pielke are NOT climate scientists". For instance it could be that a specific meaning is attached to the English term "scientist", which the 70% of us, for whom English is not the native language, possibly misunderstand?

Please try to give an answer, which Joe Romm and similar people would possibly agree to. Speculations, attributing negative motivs to Romm, I can do myself. Let's assume for a minute that this mister Romm is a positive, honest, consistent person - and there is a logic behind his assertion. Which could that be?

May I ask those, with an English-lkanguage background and a less negative attitude to the positions held by Romm, for a suggestion?

Reiner Grundmann said...

Hans: it has two components

a) expertise in physical science (German: Naturwissenschaft)
b) publishing in the 'right' journals

Both are defined by gatekeepers, of course.

Richard Tol said...

The crux of the argument is the "science", unqualified, used to mean "physics". I think that's outdated.

Hans von Storch said...


really true? - "expertise in physical science (German: Naturwissenschaft)"; biology is not a physical science, but a Naturwissenschaft, for instance. Where does mathematics belong to (I hold a Diplom in mathematics)?

and "b) publishing in the 'right' journals" - what constitutes "right"?

Hans von Storch said...

Richard, that would mean only people dealing with the physics of climate would be climate scientists, when such a wording is adopted, correct? WG1 of IPCC would be "science", WGs 2 and 3 not or only less so? Geography would NOT be "science"?

Does anybody have old and current encyclopedias at hand, UK and US?

we could ask "science" (the journal) of what they cosnider their subject.

P Gosselin said...

As a US citizen I had "Science" at school. In Science we learned biology, chemistry, physics, botany, geology, etc.
To me, as a native English speaker, it entails observation and discovering how things work in nature. Anyone who observes and adds to a body of knowledge I'd consider a scientist. If a person observes climate and provides us with findings, I'd say he is a climate scientist, even if the person works as a lawyer or even a janitor during workdays.

P Gosselin said...

If they contributed to the body of climate knowledge, then they are scientists. They have - and so they are.

Chuckles said...


Clearly it is someone who has contributed to the study of climate science.

It is merely necessary to consult those wise folk at wikipedia -

They even provide an approved list, and it would seem that none of the authors are climate scientists; so mathematics doesn't count...

Hans von Storch said...

Thanks, P. Gosselin - this would mean that the German "Wissenschaft" really has little to do with "scientist" in the US. And J. Romm would be mostly right, even if for instance Roger Pielke is doing significant work on damages related to hurricanes.

Thanks, Chuckles for the advice. A remarkable list. However, the list is incomplete - Pachauri is missing.

Mathis Hampel said...

Excuse my rather naive question; what is climate knowledge and when is it a contribution to this body (IPCC?) ?

just a thought: maybe we should first think about what climate is apart from its physical meaning, and secondly -more difficult a task- decide on a definition of science.

Reiner Grundmann said...

there is no correct (or even accepted)definition of these terms. Hence no use of looking up dictionaries. These are boundary drawing devices and will be used in different disciplinary fields and different knowledge cultures differently. We need to understand the meaning of words from their actual use and the context in which the words occur.

My impression, based on what a modeller told me in 2008, is that WG1 uses the term climatologist purely in the physical sense, even without biological components. The reason is that only physical data enters the GCMs.

P Gosselin said...

Prof von Storch,
I have an old Collier's Encyclopedia dated 1969. Interestingly there is nothing under the term "Science". But there are 16 fine print columns under "Scientific Method", sub-divided as follows:
1. Observations and Measurements
2. Experimentation
3. Classification and Induction
4. Interpretation and Formation of Concepts
5. The Nature and Use of Hypotheses
6. The Ideal of an Integrated and Closed System
7. Experience and the Integrated System
8. The Problem of Assumptions
9. The Bias and Limitations of Science

- Written by William H. Werkmeister.
If you wish, I can photocopy it and send it to you by snail-mail or fax.

Reiner Grundmann said...

Hans @17
In fact, the two Pielkes are distinguished accordingly: Sr. is a climatologist, Jr. an observer and commentator, or science policy expert.
RealClimate criticed Andy Revkin for citing RP Jr.'s views on the NYT blog ("More bizarre is that some journalists seem to have decided that scientists no longer have credibility and hence one can now turn to whomever one wants for expert advice. A case in point is Andrew Revkin’s recent query to political scientist Roger Pielke")

Revkin responded as follows:

"As for Roger Pielke, Jr., he’s absolutely not a climatologist and noted at the outset that he’s an interested observer. You’re right that he’s not the ideal choice to be commenting on climate sensitivity issues, but to imply that he doesn’t deserve a seat at the table is troubling. Here’s why. He has been an author on dozens of peer-reviewed papers related to climate change, with a particular focus on the climate/hurricane/disaster losses arena."

Hans von Storch said...

Thanks, P. Gosslin - no need for a copy. I just want to know what is/was commonly understood, when this term is/was used, now and also in previous times. The meaing may be different in different times, and in tke US or UK.

No need to come up with a definition, which we would like. Since I try to defend J. Romm, I am in need of what is commonly meant, when somebody labels a person as a scientist.

Reiner - I understand that Revkin is saying, Roger is a scientist but not a climatologist. But does climate scientist = climatologist hold?

Actually, I would prefer to use words like "scientist" and "climatologist" in the way common people do, and journalists are certainly language-wise good samples of ordinary people, aren't they?

-- Hans

P Gosselin said...

Prof. Werkmeister, the author on the SCIENTIFIC METHOD in the old Collier's Encylopedia, was born in Asendorf, Germany in 1901. So the English word "science" seems to have been defined by you Germans. So, your question has come full circle back to you! :=)

Leigh Jackson said...

"Richard Tol is a research professor at the Economic and Social Research Institute in Dublin and the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Roger Pielke Jr. is a professor of environmental studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder and Hans von Storch is director of the Institute for Coastal Research at the GKSS Research Center in Geesthacht and and a climate researcher at the Institute of Meteorology at the University of Hamburg."

Clearly only one climate scientist - one person who conducts *physical" climate research. However, this does not matter given the subject matter of the Spiegel article concerned the integrity of the IPCC and associated scientists involved in physical climate research, not the physical science.

Reiner Grundmann said...

Leigh - it does matter for those who think that social/politcal/cultural scientists are parasites on the knowledge produced by REAL scientists. This the political importance of the term for them (as they define the scientific facts)

Hans von Storch said...

Leigh Jackson - you have "climate scientist = one person who conducts 'physical' climate research"? So, biogeochemical research is not covered, not research into emissions and impacts? I understand you would not object T&P being labelled scientists but the label climate scientists would be inadequate?

This is not a critical question but just a question into the usage of language,

P Gosselin said...

Albert Einstein was a lowly patent officer. He wasn't a scientist.

Don Shor said...

When my father was an active geophysicist and attending American Geophysical Union meetings, research on what we now call climate science was usually presented there. "Climate science" was a sub-discipline of geophysics. But it has grown into its own field, spanning sociology, politics, economics, and more.
Using the term "political scientist" for Roger Pielke Jr. is, IMO, an attempt to minimize his credentials, as political science is more akin to economics than biology. I believe he is more accurately called an environmental scientist.

Leigh Jackson said...

Reiner 25 and Hans 26
I do not use the word "science" as shorthand for physical science. There are other equally legitimate but rather different forms of science. I see climate science as essentially belonging to the physical sciences. It was considered so to be when I obtained my degreee in physical sciences 10 years ago.

Different sciences have ultimately to be compatible with one another or else something is seriously wrong with at least one.

Richard Tol said...

You would be right if climate research would study the climate of other planets, or the climate of the deep past on Earth.

Climate research also studies the recent past, with human fingerprints all over. It also studies the near future -- and not just in "what-if" mode, but also in "so what" and "what should we do" mode.

And climate is a cultural phenomenon too.

In order to understand all that, we need the natural sciences, the social sciences, and the humanities. Drawing a line between us and them is not helpful.

Doc Syntax said...

As interesting as this discussion is with well established (i.e. published persons) as the likes of Pielke and Tol, I continue to be amazed how people in the engineering fields (my background) find themselves as a whole "non-scientific". I have no idea where this comes from, but I find it ridiculous. Liken to the Einstein reference, I am compelled to point to the Faraday's and the Franklin's in the world of science. Observations and theories can been performed by anyone, and ergo, a scientist. Good ones find their predictions confirmed more often than not, bad ones survive only by politics.

Jeffery P said...

Does James Hansen qualify as a climate scientist? He has no degrees in climatology.

jaycurrie said...

This may be a barren argument simply because "climate science" encompasses a wide swath of activities.

At one end you have the basic data gathering - temperature, sea level, trace gas concentrations - and the "adjustment" of those measurements to create useful and accurate data sets. Here the skills of bookeepers, econometricians and statisticians are critical. If the data sets are faulty the entire edifice is built on sand.

Then you have people who consider the data and attempt to construct theories as to its implications. A subset of such people build computer models. These people may be paleo-climatologists, geologists, astro-physicists, chemists, mathematicians or, for that matter, econometricians.

The theories themselves can be used to examine the past, consider the interaction of various present day phenomena - El Nino, the PDO, Arctic ice extent and so on.

At the far end, we have another group which tries to forecast the future using the various theories.

All of these people are engaged in the practice of "climate science" regardless of their native discipline.

Now, is a paleo-climatologist qualified to comment on the legitimacy of a particular statistical technique? Not really. Nor are theoreticians well qualified to comment on the vexed questions surrounding data collection and "adjustment". And neither are well qualified to comment on the economic, policy or cultural implications of a particular forecast or scenario.

Climate science is in its infancy. At this point it is difficult, if not impossible to determine what body of knowledge and technique a climate scientist should have at his or her disposal.

I suspect that will change over the next few years as the AGW hypothesis collapses under the weight of its naive statistical assumptions and the imperfections of its data collection methods.

Leigh Jackson said...

Hans 26
In case my answer (29) was not clear, I consider biogeochemical research and emissions and their physical impacts to be very relevant to or part of climate science.

Leigh Jackson said...

Richard 30
In biology there has been debate as to how to define the concept of species given that life is a continuum but nobody suggests completely abandoning the concept. I do not draw absolute boundaries between the sciences. Being compatible (29) means being capable of being brought coherently together. At the same time there do exist internal differences between them.

Richard Tol said...

I'm not saying that all disciplines are the same. There are big differences.

But referring to one set as "science" and its complement as what? non-science? does not foster collaboration.

wellington said...

Dear Hans,

Like other commenters here I don’t think it has anything to do with semantics or cultural usage. It’s nonsense---as I think you actually suspect. Da ham Sie recht, Herr von Storch, des iss doch a schmarrn!

I can’t help but think of another scientific controversy involving a man who may even have been a real “climate scientist”, whatever that’s supposed to mean. Alfred Wegener was harshly attacked when he formulated his continental drift theory in “The Origins of Continents and Oceans”. Big part of the “problem” was that Wegener wasn’t a geologist, geophysicist, oceanographer or paleontologist.

Did it matter? Wegener did not propose a good mechanism for the drift but he was right about the big picture. The mechanism was found by others. Wegener happened to be “just” a brilliant interdisciplinary scientist. Is it not what’s badly needed in this “climate science” thingy, anyway?

Lumo said...

Dear Hans,

I am sure that you actually understand what was going on, but it someone doesn't here's the simple story:

Joe Romm or whoever wrote it just found the article by Tol et al. inconvenient, so for the sake of propaganda, it had to be destroyed, together with all the authors and everyone who has ever come close to them.

So he had to write that they were not prominent climate scienists, and it is really the word "prominent" he cared about. However, he couldn't quite prove that they were not prominent, so instead, he focused on "climate scientists" and criticized Science Magazine for having used a "wrong" description of the people.

There's no objective logic here. The only logic here is that Joseph Romm doesn't want to look at ideas, papers (and people) in an impartial way.

Best wishes

Richard Tol said...


Hans von Storch said...

Folks, before I am agreeing to your explanation I want to have checked alternative explanations. When I fail, ok, then your explanation may be correct. Following Feynman. Be patient with me. Maybe J Romm is a nice and reasonable person, who is doing good and well though analysis before he writes his comments.

Work harder, Lubos et al - just try to defend Mr. Romm.

Leigh Jackson said...

I would just like to say that I am expressing my personal understanding or judgement about what essentially climate science is. I do not try to speak for anyone else. Others here have a different view. I never saw the article in Science and knew nothing about any blogs relating to the article. One can indeed be prepared to look at ideas in an impartial way whilst believing two of the authors of the article in question not to be climate scientists. I read the article not to be about climate science but about political and ethical aspects concerning some climate scientists and the IPCC.

Christoffer Bugge Harder said...

Mr. von Storch,

being a regular reader of Climateprogress, I think I dare say for sure that while Romm is entertaining and often interesting, he does not always do a thorough analysis before writing comments - to put it mildly.

I am not an Englisch native speaker, and I do not want to make firm statements about the appropriate use of the label "climate scientist".

However, I remember Nebojsa Nakicenovic (chairman of the IPCC SRES committee) saying that "Ich bin ja kein Klimaforscher", which should tranlate into "I am not really a climate scientist" at the COP15 in March 2009. (It was a relatively minor statement meant as a disclaimer when talking about his opinion about the impact of the CO2 emissions having increased faster than the projections. I think he obviously wanted to make clear that his research dealt with the emissions themselves, rather than their putative consequences for the climate).

Nakicenovic is a skilled economist/computer scientist professor, but he is not dealing principally with climate an sich, but with energy economics.

I think that the traditional delimitation of "climate scientist" would only apply to people working with climate related issues in the natural sciences - and, of course, subsequently publishing in peer-reviewed journals. Thus, you, Mr. von Storch, would be a climate scientist, while Pielke and Tol would not.

Maybe this is too narrow a view, since climate projections and impacts clearly requires contributions from social scientists and the humanities ("Geisteswissenschaftler"), too, but it appears to me that this is what most people would think constitutes a climate scientist. Nakicenovics statement appears to be in line with this view.

The core climate issues most lay people want to know about are the reality of anthropogenic global warming and the likely future temperature rise, and you are certainly qualified to give an expert opinion on this matter - while Pielke and Tol clearly are not. (On the other hand, Pielke and Tol are certainly qualified to comment on the societal impacts of the WG2).

I do not think that you have had any intents of misleading, but there is much obfuscation going on from the true denialists - e.g. Senator Inhofe includes both Pielke and Tol (+ Lomborg and several other economists/political scientists) on his list of people who, according to him, have "disputed man-made global warming". This is certainly patently false with respect to Pielke and Tol. I think that Romm´s post can be interpreted as an answer to people trying to present them as scientists sceptical towards AGW.

Of course, Inhofe does not care whether anything he says is true or not, and Romm would probable denaounce anything coming from Pielke or Tol no matter what. But you for one knows that when debating climate, any effort you can do to make it as difficult as possible for anyone to distort your argument or accuse you of having false pretenses can only help you.

If Pielke and Tol had been described as "social scientists specialising in climate impacts on society" or something like that, I do not think that Romm would have had an issue with this. You might want to be more specific in the future, simply to avoid these tiresome debates?

Richard Tol said...

Note that we did not label ourselves. Der Spiegel called us "climate researchers" and then Science used "climate scientists".

Romm's "argument" is that because Science used the wrong translation (if that), one should not read the piece in Spiegel.

EliRabett said...

There is an interesting bit of linguistics in this otherwise uninteresting topic.

Wissenschaft is normally translated into English as science, but it is used in German as "contributions to knowledge" as well. Tol and Pielke Jr. fall well into the second definition, but not the first. Economic, sociology, political science are uniformly part of "Wissenschaft" in Germany, as islinguistics. The writing of fiction, is not but its interpretation is.

In terms of the knowledge Zweibel, Wissenschaft is on the outside, science below it, and climatology still further inside.

Anyone interested in the differences between German and English would do well to read John McWhorters "Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue"

Werner Krauss said...

Addressing the difference between 'Wissenschaftler' and 'scientist', my colleague John Hoberman (Germanic Studies) sends the following explanation:

"Generically speaking, I would say that Wissenschaftler means scholar/academic researcher. Many Europeans automatically substitute "scientist" for "Wissenschaftler," and that is a mistake, because the English speaker will assume that a "scientist" is a "natural scientist." At the same time, there is the term "social scientist," but this refers to sociologists, anthropologists, demographers, etc. It's the social world and not the natural world."

My conclusion: Pielke jr. and Tol are not scientists per se except that they are 'social scientists'. It depends now how we define climate: Is it something exclusively natural? Then Joe Romm is right, and Tol & Pielke jr. are no climate scientists. But when we define climate as a hybrid phenomenon (natural and social), they are in and Romm is wrong.
Thus, the problem is climate and not science, and this is a question of hegemony. Of course, Romm is a hegemonic bulldozer.

Anonymous said...

Bjorn said:

Hans, Richard, Roger, etc.:
Once upon in time, I was working in the then nascent "brain sciences" or "cognition sciences" - as a physicist. Loads of different people were making breath-taking contributions, natural and political scientists, medical doctors, psychologists, even people who dealt with artificial intelligence. Nobody was asking really. Evidently, there were no 'brain scientists' around the block then, only people with interesting ideas to discuss with. It was an extremely creative and vivid time when the best ideas were born after some joint practicing of Schubert in the evening and then sitting around the bar with a few drinks.

In your shoes, I would laugh out loudly and bluntly reject any person who wants to put you and your collaborators into boxes. It is simply too ridiculous and narrow-minded. Either you are making contributions to the general understanding of climate that other people find useful or you do not. The world of Wissenschaft is certainly not one of boxes but a vivid net with axons everywhere. The best Wissenschaftler is the one who picks up most of the threads and puts them together - the universal scientist. Terms such as 'climate science' are a mere construct and do not describe by far what happens in reality.

Leigh Jackson said...

Werner 45
If economists and social scientists can be termed climate scientists then why not psychologists? Seems to me there are rich seams to be mined in this area. For example, there are some scientists who can accurately be described as climate change sceptics - no problem. Then there are hordes of non-scientists who do not believe in AGW - with a vengeance. "Denialist" seems a reassonable word to use here, I think. Psychologists might be able to shed some light on this phenomenon. They might likewise have things to say about what the East Anglian emails have to tell us about psychological drivers.

Lumo said...

Dear Hans,

your alternative hypothesis that Joe Romm is a nice and careful person who thinks deeply and objectively because he puts ink on paper is surely a delicious hypothesis. Something many of us would make many of us happy.

However, unfortunately for you, hypotheses may sometimes be falsified by the available evidence. ;-) So while I appreciate that you keep me (and us) checking for possible loopholes in our arguments and conclusions - and for alternative explanations (a great service making us looking from many angles, something that not everyone in the world enjoys) - I am afraid that your generous help hasn't yet led to such alternative explanations in this particular case. But keep on trying. :-)

Best regards

eduardo said...


JR from Dallas, Texas?

Anonymous said...

I have read the lead article and all the comments. As near as I can tell, everyone knows exactly what they are talking about but no one has a clue what anyone else is talking about.

I ask: if there is no common understanding of what is science, a scientist, climate, and a climate scientist how can anyone say anything with any coherent content? Is it that argumentation is more important than understanding? Is rhetorical triumph more important than truth?

Perhaps someone could let me in on the deep dark secret of what is actually going on here.

Hank Roberts said...

> what is actually going on here

When classifying human beings, you can just ASK them what kind they are.

They can still argue, of course. And they can choose to argue in the language they prefer, of course.

"Wissenschaft is normally translated into English as science, but it is used in German as "contributions to knowledge" as well. Tol and Pielke Jr. fall well into the second definition, but not the first." -- E.R., above

As I recall, Tol say he is a climate scientist; PielkeJr says he isn't a climate scientist, right?

"We have 'lumpers' and 'splitters'," said Richard Pyle, ... an officer in the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN).

"Splitters want to draw the lines around a specimen tightly, while lumpers will say, 'no, that's just a slight variation'. And there is nothing in this system which tells you who is right -- it is purely subjective," he said."

EliRabett said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
EliRabett said...

Climate Change Psychology? Been there, done that

Bilingual said...


I don't know if the following is sufficiently flattering to Romm, but it's perhaps different enough from stuff above to be worth considering. Here's how I see it.

Romm wants media in general to get stuff right more often. He does a lot of media criticism. The Science "article" about your op-ed is a news piece, picked up from a Science blog post. (The blog post uses the phrase "climate researchers.")

I assume Romm is trying to tell Science they need to get their facts straight. (There was likely the added "appeal" of the irony of talk about correcting errors and whatnot, too.) That's why he wrote it. (For instance, I cannot imagine he anticipated Tol would contribute to the comment section the way he did. Tol's contributions changed the context of Romm's post, after the fact.)

The idea (in some comments above) that Romm's focus on language is a red herring, to distract from engaging with your op-ed, is probably misguided. If Romm thinks the op-ed worth dealing with, I imagine he will engage at length, in due time.

Tol's language reform advocacy (in the comments at Romm's blog) is interesting and possibly worth supporting (not clear at this stage), but IT surely is a red herring. The point at stake is not that the world might possibly be a better place if we all spoke the way Tol suggests; the point (of the blog post) is that the news article starts out with a factual error.

Some revolutionaries and advocates don't care about being wrong in this way. It remains to be seen how much Science and the AAAS care.

Finally, my own view is that your actual op-ed probably could have benefited from a number of (additional) rewrites, more critical commentary, and then some more editing, before you sent it to Der Spiegel.

Something like the opposite of the charitable interpretation process you are asking readers to apply to Romm, here.

If you actually did subject your writing to an approximation of such a critical process before you submitted your op-ed, then you have a problem. In that case, I would, if I were you, seek out new critics next time around.

I have no interest in arguing for my point of view, but my advice is well-meant. Take it or leave it.

Anonymous said...

Hank Roberts,

Thanks. Now I understand. Argumentation and rhetorical triumph is the point.

That is sad but it is what it is. Oh well. Maybe the next blog....

Reiner Grundmann said...

It is not only Romm's alleged ego or bulldozer mentality that drives this debate. The social sciences may become a convenient scapegoat for the current crisis of the IPCC.

The Guardian today has the headline: "Climate scientists hit out at 'sloppy' melting glaciers error -- Experts who worked on the IPCC report say the error by social and biological scientists has unfairly maligned their work"

The Guardian contacted several lead authors of IPCC WG1 who spoke on the condition of anonymity. One said:
"I am annoyed about this and I do think that WG1, the physical basis for climate change, should be distinguished from WG2 and WG3. The latter deal with impacts, mitigation and socioeconomics and it seems to me they might be better placed in another arm of the United Nations, or another organisation altogether."

Who said that this was 'only' about semantics and rhetoric?

Here is the full story:

Reiner Grundmann said...

Sorry forgot the biological sciences as another target for scapegaoting.

The 'climate science' (physics) is settled, the problem are socioeconomics and biology. Who would have thought that we are offered such a quick and easy way out of the crisis?

It is not that surprising if you think the crisis was not real but manufactured.
"The sad reality is this whole manufactured climate controversy is like arguing over the dinner menu on the Titanic as it sinks."

What is needed is a good PR campaign to recify things:
"What the science community needs is a few huge donors to throw millions of dollars behind PR campaigns to counter the propaganda out there. We are being attacked through baseless smear campaigns and we are not PR experts."

Leigh Jackson said...

Reiner 56, 57
5 WG1 authors grumbling about how they suffer because of a blunder in WG2. Human psychology being what it is, no great surprise there. But WG2/3 authors have to live with the unedifying email revelations.

Altogether, unhappy days for all concerned. What of the question whether the IPCC should be broken up? Should the physical science report stand alone with a physical scientist at the head?

Ian Bradbury said...

As a statistician I'm clearly biased in my views, but my own view is that talking only of the 'physical basis' sounds like excluding mathematical and statistical modellers and analysts, which I think would be an extreme mistake.

Great blog, by the way.