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2012 SkS Weekly Digest #9

Posted on 5 March 2012 by John Hartz

SkS Highlights

Based on the number of comments posted to date, Keith Pickering's Wall Street Journal 'Skeptics' Misrepresent the IPCC and Tom Curtis' Greenhouse Effect Basics: Warm Earth, Cold Atmosphere were the two most popular articles posted this past week. Dana's The Certainty Monster vs. The Uncertainty Ewok and Dikran Marsupial's The Independence of Global Warming on Residence Time of CO2 also generated a goodly number of comments.

Toon of the Week

 Toon of the Week 2012-09 

Issue of the Week

Would you benefit from the addition of a Glossary of Acronyms and Scientific Terms?  

The Week in Review

A complete listing of the articles posted on SkS during the past week. 

  • Oceans Acidifying Faster Today Than in Past 300 Million Years by John Hartz
  • Roy Spencer's Junk Science by Barry Bickmore
  • Warming to Ignite the Carbon Bomb by Stephen Leahy
  • Wall Street Journal 'Skeptics' Misrepresent the IPCC by Keith Pickering
  • Nordhaus Sets the Record Straight - Climate Mitigation Saves Money by Dana
  • The Certainty Monster vs. The Uncertainty Ewok by Dana
  • The Independence of Global Warming on Residence Time of CO2 by Dikran Marsupial
  • Greenhouse Effect Basics: Warm Earth, Cold Atmosphere by Tom Curtis
  • New research from last week 8/2012 by Ari Jokimäki
  • Mythbusting with fewer explosions by John Cook
  • DenialGate - Highlighting Bob Carter's Selective Science by Dana 
  • Coming Soon

    A list of articles that are in the SkS pipeline. Most of these articles, but not necessarily all, will be posted during the week

  • PMO Pest Control (Robert Way, Albatross, Andy S)
  • New research from last week 9/2012 (Ari Jokimäki)
  • Lindzen's London Illusions (Dana)
  • A Sunburnt Country (Glenn Tramblyn)
  • Douglass & Knox 2012 pre-bunked (Rob Painting and Dana)
  • The History of Climate Science - William Charles Wells (Doc Snow)
  • Methane - Part 1 (Agnostic)
  • Prediction: New Surface Temperature Record in 2013 (Dana)
  • Declining Arctic sea-ice and record U.S. and European snowfalls: are they linked? (John Mason)
  • Changing Climates, Changing Minds: The Personal (Andy S)
  • Changing Climates, Changing Minds: The Political (Andy S)
  • SkS in the News

    Rob Painting's Search For 'Missing Heat' Confirms More Global Warming 'In The Pipeline' was re-posted on Climate Progress.

    A podcast interview with John Cook was posted on Climate Progress, IBTimes, and Media Lens Message Board.

    John's Mythbusting event was highlighted on ABC Environment.

    Dana's post on Nordhaus setting the record straight was re-posted on PlanetSave and Cleantechnica.

    SkS Spotlights 

    TckTckTck is the public campaign of the Global Campaign for Climate Action. The GCCA is an unprecedented alliance of more than 300 non-profit organizations all over the world. Our shared mission is to mobilize civil society and galvanize public support to ensure a safe climate future for people and nature, to promote the low-carbon transition of our economies, and to accelerate the adaptation efforts in communities already affected by climate change.

    Climate change is a huge challenge for the entire planet, but the solutions to tackle it are available today. More and more people, businesses, investors and governments endorse these solutions, reaping the benefits of new lifestyles, smart investments and climate-friendly policies. Together we work to grow this movement for change, building a strong public mandate for bold political decisions that will make our vision of a sustainable future become a reality.

    The GCCA was born from conversations between internationally-respected campaigners and advocates representing environmental, development, and social justice NGO’s. These climate activists concluded that the fight against climate change needed a boost by uniting a diversity of organizations to create public campaigns particularly in countries where additional mobilizing capacity was needed.

    tcktcktck logo

    The GCCA was formed in 2008 and started campaigning in early 2009 with the goal to secure a fair, ambitious and binding climate treaty at the COP15 climate summit in Copenhagen. One of the newer members of the GCCA, Kofi Annan’s Global Humanitarian Forum (GHF), offered the use of the new TckTckTck open source logo and marketing campaign which had been designed by Euro RSCG, an international advertising agency who donated their time to create the logo. TckTckTck thus became the shared brand for the new climate alliance.

    The GCCA is not a coalition in the traditional sense of the word, as we do not negotiate common policy positions beyond what is contained in our central Call-to-Action. We focus on what unites us and not on what divides us, and partner organizations are free to engage with the campaign in ways that best suit their own strengths. The NGO movement united under the TckTckTck banner has kept growing ever since it started, inspiring people all over the world to take action in the race to the low-carbon future.

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    Comments 1 to 13:

    1. Glossary is absolute necessity. For example I remember having hard time understanding Dana's articles when I was newbie. I was even repulsed from them, because they were loaded with strange acronyms like TSI, OA, GSS, etc. Now I'm used to it and appreciate Dana's skills as one of the most accomplished SkS authors. However, I still find that Dana uses those acronyms without explanation. That must be hard for new readers.
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    2. Pity SKS didn't think my e-mail forward was worth a topic - the CASS report is a pretty comprehensive reubattal to Tom Harris's pro-pollution sludge at the University of Carlton. This was the e-mail: "Skeptical Science just moved up the charts to front and centre. The debate about Tom Harris teaching at Carlton has produced a scathing report response from CASS. Their report extensively quotes from Skeptical Science. It starts here: The organization: The report about Tom Harris and honest science: That's a "Wow" signal, eh?" Anyone else can catch up and join the dots from Heartland's supposedly 'phony 2012 memo' and seeing it in the viewfinder.
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      Response: [JH] What specific action had you requested SkS to underatake?
    3. A glossary would be very useful to me, as I am not familiar with the terms used and references are often made in places where I cannot work out meaning from context.
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    4. A jscipt text-tip-based glossary would probably work best, especially if there were a link to a dBase with fuller explanation
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      Moderator Response: [JH] For the benefit of our non-tech-savy readers, please explain what a "jscipt text-tip-based glossary" is and how it would work. Thank you.
    5. Fran Barlow++
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    6. @JH - suggested SKS wanted to follow up on it. SKS rebuttal topics are one of the main reference sources in the report. Your response has an implication that you didn't look at the report.
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      Moderator Response: [JH] You are making a false assumption. I did read the report and did see the multiple references to SkS. I still don't know what specific "follow-up" action you want SkS to take in this matter.
    7. I emailed Carleton University about the CASS-CFI report linked by owl905. I was advised that the course wasn't on offer this year and Tom Harris was no longer on staff, which is all I was told. Since the CASS report was issued just last week and decisions about courses/staffing for this academic year would have been made long ago, I'm assuming that routine contractual/curriculum decisions were made resulting in the above situation.
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    8. Toon-of-the-Week comment on Fox viewers: rather than calling them the least informed - rather they are most mis-informed. Deliberately so.
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    9. Composer 99 @7, Did your response from Carleton read like this? Can you say conflict of interest. "Dear colleagues As you may be aware a 97 page report entitled "Climate Denial in Canada's Classrooms" has been prepared by Chris Hassall, an insect ecologist post doc in the biology department, and three consultant friends (technical writers and former biologists) that is highly critical of the delivery of ERTH 2402 as taught by sessional lecturer Tom Harris. They apparently acquired video copies of the lectures and have dissected them line by line. Their criticism of statements made by Tom make up the bulk of the report. The tone of the report is, as one might expect from the title, that of strident activists. It is not terribly scholarly. They even had issues with Tom remarking that "the only constant about climate is change", a statement remarkably bland to geologists. As you know Tom last taught the course in 2010-2011 and is no longer a sessional lecturer with us. As an institution and department we firmly respect academic freedom in the classroom but are vigilant that the highest academic standards be maintained in the delivery of our courses. ERTH 2402 was not offered this year as part of the natural rotation of courses within the department. The course will next be offered in winter 2013 by Tim Patterson, a senior faculty member with considerable expertise in climate change research. Tom's services in teaching this course will therefore no longer be required. The report is spreading through the blogishere generating comments from supporters and detractors, but has only resulted in a single real media article thus far-- in the UKs left leaning Guardian newspaper. It will be interesting to see whether sufficient interest can be garnered before the story becomes stale amongst North American media outlets. If queried by media you may wish to refer them to the departmental chairman. If interested I can send you a link to download a copy of the report. Tim R. Tim Patterson, Ph.D. (Acting Chairman) Department of Earth Sciences Carleton University Tel: (613) 520-2600 ex 4425" Note who wrote the letter ;) The bolded text (my highlighting) is IMHO wholly inappropriate language for the chair of a department to be using. People can write to the Dean of Science here.
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    10. Albatross: I emailed the Dean's office and received a very brief reply from the Dean. I can't get at my email at the moment but will paste the text once I can. Dr Patterson's message appears to confirm my assumption of routine contractual/curriculum changes resulting in the class not being on offer this year and Tom Harris not being at Carleton. IMO if Dr Patterson is teaching ERTH 2402 next winter semester he is, of course, free to present his opinions to the students. However, if he, as Tom Harris did, systematically misrepresents the evidence to the students I think there is a responsibility to let them know they are being misinformed.
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    11. Thanks Composer, much appreciated. This is intriguing, because Harris claims that 95% of the course material was sourced from Patterson. If true, that means Patterson has been misleading students with misinformation, falsehoods and distortions for some time. The Carleton University Academic Staff Association states: "The common good of society depends upon the search for truth and its free exposition. Universities with academic freedom are essential to these purposes both in teaching and scholarship/research. Employees are entitled, therefore, to: (a) freedom in carrying out research and in publishing the results thereof, (b) freedom in carrying out teaching and in discussing his/her subject and, (c) freedom from institutional censorship. Academic freedom carries with it the duty to use that freedom in a manner consistent with the scholarly obligation to base research and teaching on an honest search for truth." I would contest that given Patterson's close affiliations with ideological astroturf groups ("Friends" of Science, Heartland Institute, International Climate Science Coalition, Natural Resources Stewardship Project) he is not basing his teaching in an honest serach of truth, but rather using his position to promote and advance his belief that CO2 is not a primary driver of global climate. He may be free to state his opinions, but IIRC he must state beforehand that what he is about to say is his opinion only.
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    12. The reply I received is as follows:
      Thank you for your concern on this. The course in question has not been offered this year, and Tom Harris is no longer teaching at Carleton University.
      As you can see, it is quite brief (and leaves out the slight detail that the class will continue as per Dr Patterson's note).
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    13. I'm sure this is set to appear in a Skeptical Science post, but I thought I'd share it here (these weekly updates being the closest SkS has to an "open thread"). James Hansen does a TED talk on climate change and his advocacy work.
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