Thursday, March 4, 2010

Climate science in the NYT: Not an obituary yet

The New York Times, the 'hegemonic bulldozer', sums up after the Phil Jones grilling:

My favorite quote is the one from Peter C. Frumhoff: “We need to acknowledge the errors and help turn attention from what’s happening in the blogosphere to what’s happening in the atmosphere.”
This is an interesting statement. First of all, it acknowledges the relevance of climate blogs (there are several quotes from blogs in the article). Furthermore, it is indeed an interesting question: the blogosphere obviously changed the atmosphere in climate science; how does this in turn change what we will learn about the atmosphere? How do these spheres relate? Everything that we will learn in future about the atmosphere will have resonances in the blogosphere, which in turn will influence what we learn about the atmosphere. Just word plays? This is an epistemological question, indeed.


Anna said...

I think this argument in the article is very false, as I believe the opposite is true when it comes to "the hockey team":

"The battle is asymmetric, in the sense that scientists feel compelled to support their findings with careful observation and replicable analysis, while their critics are free to make sweeping statements condemning their work as fraudulent".

Since the whole Climategate mess is about the team, I think their behaviour is what is important here, and the idea that these scientists really have been trying to make their analyses replicable shows either that the commenter is completely unaware of the subject he is commenting on, or that he is deliberately trying to mislead people.

The issue that has caused the most outrage in the blogosphere is in fact that the analyses aren't replicable...

About the Frumhoff quote, I would say that the best situation perhaps is when what is happening in the atmosphere is reported on in the blogosphere.

I really wonder though whether he is talking about the potential relevance of blogs, or whether he just sees the blogs as things that divert the attention from "the real problem".

itisi69 said...

"They are learning a little humility and trying to make sure they avoid crossing a line into policy advocacy."

Humility, really? How about this whopper from Schmidt

"It’s a perfect storm that has allowed the nutters to control the agenda.”

What ivory towers?

P Gosselin said...

Citing a NYT editorial?
That's the defence of "climate science"?
That's all you can come up with?
Perhaps a reminder of the admonishments from IoP, RSC and others are in order here.

Werner Krauss said...

Posting the NYT article does not mean that I agree with their opinion. I am not the one to defend climate science. But I still know the difference between the influence of the NYT and those of klimazwiebel and other blogs. The NYT is still a good reality check: that's what most people read, and not our esoteric science blogs on the internet. Anyway, it is interesting to note that they are not unrelated - the NYT quotes a lot from blogs. But when the NYT still defends climate science, this is of more influence compared to P Gosselin's obituary on climate science. He may be a bulldozer, too, but not a hegemonic one -:)

P Gosselin said...

I was listening to a report about the Extreme Weather Conferernce now taking place in Bemerhaven on NDR "Info" radio during lunch and truly was astonished to hear about "the growing sceptism" and "false claims" and "lack of transparency" in climate science being discussed there. NDR "Info" also admitted that storms are not related to warming global temperatures. Also they noted that many attendees of the conference expressed scepticsm of the science presented in the past, and acknowledged the UHI effect.

Holy Moly - could it be true? German media are finally waking up to the greatest scientific scandal in modern times?
I think I'm going to write this date down in my calendar: A watershed event - Germany returning to realty after a long drug-induced trip in green utopia land.

Just thought I'd like to point out the changing tide in the German media. Who knows, it may have only been a fluke report that somehow got past the editors.

ghost said...

"I am not the one to defend climate science."

but you should... on the one side is science on the other side Inhofe, GMI,CEI, Heartland Institute, EIKE, CFACT, parts of the FDP, summarized as ignorants.

I think there is a big difference between denier talk in FOX or Watts Up or Bishop Hill or Climate Audit and critiques on MBH and the IPCC report 2003 here. FOX viewer would not differentiate between Moberg et al and MBH98 or MBH99. They are in the same spaghetti graph, thus, they are both fraud.

PS: I have a science question: Hans and Eduardo proposed a "testbed" for reconstruction methods based on a climate model run and noisy pseudo-proxies in Science 2004. At least, I understood it in this way. That is quite nice IMHO, at least for first tests of reconstruction methods, even there was some critique and the work was focused on testing MBH. Are there new works in this area? Did you test several reconstructions methods with this testbed? Was the testbed improved?

Werner Krauss said...

to Anna #1

I agree with both points you make. Even though it is true that critics in blogs can make free floating arguments without being held responsible (for example, mixing money issues, personal characteristics and scientific arguments).
I agree, Frumhoff thinks that blogs distract from the 'real problem', that is, what is going on in the atmosphere. The very idea of an unmediated access to a reality is wrong, I guess. The atmosphere is always connected to other spheres, such as economy, politics, blogs, media, science funding etc.
So what to do when there is no unmediated, pure access to the object of interest? Take the other factors into account, too. But this would have real consequences for the understanding of climate science.

P Gosselin said...

Concerning the NYT, they may be still an influential paper, but it is not anywhere near as influential as it used to be. Indeed it is headed for the dinosaur heap.

And it's circulation is a mess on account of its growing lack of credibility. That's why the conservative Wall Street Journal is the only top major paper to have had a gain, and is now the leader in USA. People need information that can be trusted. The WSJ has even had some editorials from Prof von Storch.
That's the paper I read.

Many newspapers have been less than honest, and have suffered. But that's another topic of discussion.

P Gosselin said...

I see the link on newspaper circulation doesn't work.
Try this one:

P Gosselin said...

For some reason the address keeps getting truncated:

If it still doesn't work:

Sorry for the flurry of posts.

itisi69 said...

"but you should... on the one side is science on the other side Inhofe, GMI,CEI, Heartland Institute, EIKE, CFACT, parts of the FDP, summarized as ignorants."

Lemme see, do I miss here a certain soon to be Honorary Doctor, Oscar and Nobel Peace Prize winner in this row?

Hans von Storch said...

Huuh? - I got no Oscar.

Hans von Storch said...

NYT - comes in disguise as well, called Intern. Herald Tribute, and is every morning on my door step. And in Lufthansa lounges.

Anonymous said...

The article is not too bad, though some things are strange:

"Some of the most serious allegations ... have been debunked" which? where?

"The battle is asymmetric". Yes, on the one side we have well funded research institutes with access to data, researchers, high-powered computers, and on the other side are amateur bloggers with no income, no facilities, who are refused access to data.

"Their job is not persuading the public" - so why does Gavin Schmidt spend so much time on his blog?

Tobias W said...


Frumhofe is speaking on behalf of "Union of Concerned scientists" which in effect is an environmentalist organisation, like WWF, or Greenpeace. His quote should be seen in this light. Typical of the NY Times not to disclose this information to their readers...

P Gosselin said...

Tobias W,
...which is one reason why the paper is shrinking, shrinking and going the way of the dinosaur. This is why the blogs and internet have gained in popularity.

Marco said...

@P Gosselin:

The UHI has never ever been denied by any climate scientist. It's the supposed effect of UHI on temperature *trends* that matters, and time after time scientific research shows its effect to be very limited. The evidence for its limited impact includes the satellite record.

Werner Krauss said...

P Gosselin #8

you write:
'The WSJ has even had some editorials from Prof von Storch. That's the paper I read.'

I completely agree. All papers who publish HvS are good papers! But where is the difference between the WSJ and the NYT in this respect?
As you know, Hans von Storch is just another believer in anthropogenic global warming! His warnings that we urgently have to mitigate CO2 emissions and that we have to adapt to the effects of man-made climate change would perfectly fit into the New York Times. The same might be true of his analysis of the current scandals, which in my opinion differs very much from the rants of those who hope that these debates will put an end to all climate politics.

Leigh Jackson said...

A more recent article in the NYT is also more interesting in my opinion. Anti-evolutionists appear to be hitching their wagon to the climate change "sceptics" train. The Discovery Institute are comparing the "persecution" of climate change sceptics to a similar persecution of scientists who challenge scientific "dogmatism" regarding evolution. Several states have passed legislation enabling "critical thinking" on these issues.

If only.

itisi69 said...

"I completely agree. All papers who publish HvS are good papers!"

Hmm.. "amateur computer analyst" John Graham-Cumming might think differently about that.. ;)

Werner Krauss said...

@leigh 19

thanks for this link! Oh my dear, it is really unbelievable. That's so weird, seen with my European eyes.I think the context of the discussion in the US is very different from the one in Germany. Frightening, sometimes, indeed!

P Gosselin said...

There are rumours coming out of the mill. Seems the propoganda bureaus are getting ready to go on the offensive.

Appears they want "to gut the credibility of the sceptics". These guys really know how to make friends, don't they? Such fools. I see a few good laughs coming in the pipeline.

P Gosselin said...

One of course can believe in AGW. The data do show that there could be an anthroprogenic signal - if you stare at it long enough. HvS is moderate (rational) and does not go off the deep end like some of his other German colleagues - may view. I don't believe HvS overall assertions. I haven't seen any data to support them. Am I to believe because he's the authority and I'm just Phd-less layman? Climate data is vast, but in the end not impossible to read.
The NYT and WSJ are almost opposites on the subject. The WSJ editorial page is as awhole very very doubtful there is a crisis, while the NYT pretty much says we are very very likely on the way to Rahmstorfian-type disasters. One paper is rational about it, the other is not. One has lost credibility, the other has not.

Anna said...

Leigh and Werner, there is a discussion on the NYT article going on at Roger Pielke Jr's right now, in case you have missed it.

Tobias W said...

P Gosselin:

I think you should just give up on understanding climate science. It is simply to hard to understand a science that asserts that although CO2 has never been a driver of climate in the past suddenly it is the main driver today - and manbearpig is to blame!

The fact that loser "scientists" like Paul Ehrlich - that has never been right about anything in his entire life - is involved with this latest propaganda campaign you refered to, simply shows that global warming hysteria is nothing but a weird belief system, and this latest campaign could rightly be called a "faith based initiative". And where was this propaganda going to be published by the way? - At Al Gores own PR-bureau, the New York Times, off course!!!

Werner Krauss said...

@p gosselin 22
I didn't get the point when opening the link. What exactly should I laugh about?

@ p gosselin 23
thanks, well argued.
About the difference betweeen NYT and WSJ you write: 'One has lost credibility, the other has not.' Why not write: 'For me, one has lost credibility, the other has not' - this would turn a weak generalizing argument into a strong personal statement.

@Anna 24
I just had a look over the fence. Over there at Pielke's, they discuss among other things that Galvin Schmidt used the term 'nutters' in the NYT article. Now some try to crucify him for this.

'Mama, Galvin said 'nutters' - see? Nutters!!! Bad Galvin boy!!!!'

My spontaneous reaction when reading this: oh my dear. Is there no one who can tell those guys it's time to go to bed now? It is so embarrassing to see grown ups (professors!!!) discussing things like this in public, every day. But I know, of course, this is a highly political affair, and has to be discussed en detail. Sure. Bloggers are a political force now, and science is just like politics, it is a permanent election campaign.
(for German readers: nutters are Spinner, Verückte).

@Tobias W 25
Just show some respect. Don't call other people 'loser' scientist - only losers do this. And don't call the NYT Al Gore's own PR bureau. Just don't. The world is more complex.

Tobias W said...


Why should I show respect to Paul Ehrlich? I can't think of a single reason for doing so and if you wan't to call me a loser for that, then by all means. At least I'm an obscure one, so it'll only be me and you who knows this:-)!

And why shouldn't I call the NY Times Al Gores own PR-bureau? It seems whenever he want's his message out, they are allways there willing and able! The best thing I can say for the NY Times: at least they're not The Guardian...

And if Gavin Smith has no trouble calling others "nutters", I think he opens up for worse adjectives thrown back at himself!

Werner Krauss said...

@ myself #26
it's Gavin, not Galvin, stupid!

Anna said...

Werner, I really wish you could refrain from using such language!

Calling yourself stupid is unnecessary and doesn't solve any problems ;-)
Bad Werner boy!

Henk Hak said...

Completely off topic, but don't know where else to put this:

Article on the bizarre world of carbon trading. Would appreciate some comments. (Is _Flin_ around?).
Should I repost on a separate thread?

P Gosselin said...

Corporations on the government dole. Getting big bucks for shutting down and doing nothing, i.e. wealth destruction. With the huge budget deficits globally, quite an extraordinary way to solve financial problems, wouldn't you say?
I own some woodland in USA. Maybe I can get carbon credit money for promising not to cut it down (I never planned to cut it down to begin with). What the heck, if they are handing out money, might as well get in line too. The real losers are the ones who don't, or can't, get in the bread line.