Episode 1: show notes

On this week’s show: Skeptics vs Deniers, Malaria, Scientists fighting back, Greenland rising , dead deniers at SEPP and the denier facepalm of the week!

Irregular Climate needs you help!

Errata:

Lindzen’s op-eds were not published in the Washington post as mentioned in the podcast, but rather in the Wall Street Journal

Skeptics vs. Deniers

My article from 2008:

Skeptics come in two flavours. The first flavour includes those who are misinformed or uninformed. They are skeptical of the science behind climate change because they are not familiar with it. They see the debates in the media and assume that similar debates occur within the scientific community. Once you show these people that no such debate is occurring within the scientific community, and explain the importance of peer-review these skeptics usually realize their misinformation and are willing to accept the science.

The second flavour are a rare bunch, most have been convinced by the overwhelming evidence to support the consensus. The few that remain are fully aware of the scientific consensus, don’t question it and yet for one reason or another they remain skeptical…

Deniers are a different bunch all together. They deny the science even when it is right in front of them (hence their name), they believe in a grand conspiracy consisting of the entire scientific community that works to silence anyone who disagrees with the accepted orthodoxy, despite the fact that there is no data to support such claims and plenty of data tosupport the exact opposite, they purposely and dishonestly misrepresent the science, theydismiss the peer-review process and yet are willing to accept anything no matter how absurdif they believe it will cast doubt, they attack scientists, they abuse complexity and they present no consistent theory or synthesis of knowledge…

The bottom line is that skeptics are worth talking to, but deniers will not be convinced no matter what the evidence points to. Their responses enviably boil down to a variation of sticking their fingers in their ears and yelling. This presents a problem for which I have no real solution, deniers will clutch to their unscientific positions in the face of mountains of evidence that points to the contrary, but at the same time their arguments, while unable to stand up to scientific scrutiny, are convincing enough to fool the uninformed skeptics. How does the scientific community (and those who accept their conclusions) effectively counter these anti-science deniers?

Malaria

Quoted text from the IPCC (h/t Thing Break):

Despite the known causal links between climate and malaria transmission dynamics, there is still much uncertainty about the potential impact of climate change on malaria at local and global scales (see also Section 8.4.1) because of the paucity of concurrent detailed historical observations of climate and malaria, the complexity of malaria disease dynamics, and the importance of non-climatic factors, including socio-economic development, immunity and drug resistance, in determining infection and infection outcomes.

Climate change and the global malaria recession, Gething et al. abstract:

The current and potential future impact of climate change on malaria is of major public health interest12. The proposed effects of rising global temperatures on the future spread and intensification of the disease3,45, and on existing malaria morbidity and mortality rates3, substantively influence global health policy67. The contemporary spatial limits of Plasmodium falciparum malaria and its endemicity within this range8, when compared with comparable historical maps, offer unique insights into the changing global epidemiology of malaria over the last century. It has long been known that the range of malaria has contracted through a century of economic development and disease control9. Here, for the first time, we quantify this contraction and the global decreases in malaria endemicity since approximately 1900. We compare the magnitude of these changes to the size of effects on malaria endemicity proposed under future climate scenarios and associated with widely used public health interventions. Our findings have two key and often ignored implications with respect to climate change and malaria. First, widespread claims that rising mean temperatures have already led to increases in worldwide malaria morbidity and mortality are largely at odds with observed decreasing global trends in both its endemicity and geographic extent. Second, the proposed future effects of rising temperatures on endemicity are at least one order of magnitude smaller than changes observed since about 1900 and up to two orders of magnitude smaller than those that can be achieved by the effective scale-up of key control measures. Predictions of an intensification of malaria in a warmer world, based on extrapolated empirical relationships or biological mechanisms, must be set against a context of a century of warming that has seen marked global declines in the disease and a substantial weakening of the global correlation between malaria endemicity and climate.

Nature News Podcast interview with Gething

Over 5000 scientists stand up for integrity of climate science

Via Jim Prall:

To emphasize just how broad the response has been, I’ve compiled a list of the names of the signers of these eight statements, with notations on which statements each one signed:
Five thousand scientists worldwide defend climate science

This is perhaps the strongest and certainly the broadest response from scientists to the UEA email controversy.

Here is a list of these most recent statements, with links to original sources. (The initials are the tag I’ve used to tag signers who are also authors in my database of climate author publication stats; after each I note how many signers already have their climate publication and citation stats collected in my table of climate science authors.)

And my post on the subject

The lead author, Pacific Institute President Peter Gleick on the rejection of the letter by WallStreet Journal, the New York Times, then the Washington Post:

We sent it first as an op-ed (one at a time, in order) to the WSJ, then the NY Times, then the Post. Each rejected it. No reasons given (they don’t usually). We then took it to Science, rather than try other smaller circulation newspapers. They agreed, and as you know, ran it on May 7th. The media coverage has been substantial, though mostly electronic media. And in terms of “mainstream media” more attention was given OUTSIDE of the US than inside — so some of the major papers in the UK, Canada, New Zealand, Portugal, but not here.

Carl Sagan’s quote:

We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology. This is a clear prescription for disaster. It’s dangerous and stupid for us to remain ignorant about global warming, say, or ozone depletion, toxic and radioactive wastes, acid rain.

Greenland

Accelerating uplift in the North Atlantic region as an indicator of ice loss, Yan Jiang et al.

Vertical motions of the rocky margins of Greenland and Antarctica respond to mass changes of their respective ice sheets1, 2. However, these motions can be obscured by episodes of glacial advance or retreat that occurred hundreds to thousands of years ago3, 4, 5, 6, which trigger a delayed response because of viscous flow in the underlying mantle. Here we present high-precision global positioning system (GPS) data that describe the vertical motion of the rocky margins of Greenland, Iceland and Svalbard. We focus on vertical accelerations rather than velocities to avoid the confounding effects of past events. Our data show an acceleration of uplift over the past decade that represents an essentially instantaneous, elastic response to the recent accelerated melting of ice throughout the North Atlantic region. Our comparison of the GPS data to models for glacial isostatic adjustment suggests that some parts of western coastal Greenland were experiencing accelerated melting of coastal ice by the late 1990s. Using a simple elastic model, we estimate that western Greenland’s ice loss is accelerating at an average rate of 8.7±3.5 Gt yr−2, whereas the rate for southeastern Greenland—based on limited data—falls at 12.5±5.5 Gt yr−2.

Quirks and Quarks interview with Dr Tim Dixon (on of the study authors):

[audio:http://www.cbc.ca/quirks/media/2009-2010/mp3/qq-2010-05-22_02.mp3]

Dead Deniers

Via Stoat:

SEPP has alwys been a one-man-band, that one man being Fred Singer of course (Do you know the dirt about Singer? He was once sane. BTW, if you’re here from wiki, don’t miss a post I did on Lindzen).

But being a one-man-band makes it look like you’re a wacko (err…) so obviously you need an organisation, and obviously that organisation needs a board of directors, science advisors, you know the kind of thing: pad it out with some names to look impressive. So Singer did, the SEPP website proudly proclaims:

The following serve on the Board of Directors of The Science & Environmental Policy Project:

* Frederick Seitz, Ph.D. (Chairman)
* (etc)

(see http://sepp.org/about%20sepp/boarddir.html. Note to SEPP: I’ve saved a copy, and so has the internet archive, so don’t bother trying to change it and pretend there was no problem).

There is only one problem with this (well, other than that Seitz was also a bit of a wacko on GW, but let’s skip over that): Seitz is pushing up the daisies. It must be true wikipedia says so.

And: The following individuals serve on the Board of Science Advisors of The Science & Environmental Policy Project:

* Bruce N. Ames
* C.J.F. Böttcher
* Tor Ragnar Gerholm
* Michael J. Higatsberger
* Henry R. Linden
* Sir William Mitchell
* William A. Nierenberg
* Michel Salomon
* Chauncey Starr

Again: nice people, kind to children and animals, a bit loopy perhaps, but suffering from a major problem: most of them are six feet under (fun game for a wet half-hour: work out which few of them *aren’t* stiffs).

Denier facepalm of the week:

Listen to this Howler:

The very curious thing about this is, if it is the atmosphere that is melting the ice; 9/10 of the ice is below the water; so how exactly is the atmosphere gonna be melting the ice? -Norm Kalmanovitch, FoS, 11 May 2010.

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