Help P3 Find the Climate SOS Gems

DailyKos is hosting a climate blogfest including luminaries such as Bill McKibben and Michael Mann. Obviously, given that it is at DKos, it will skew left, so if that will make you grind your teeth you may want to keep your distance. I am sure some of the articles will be brilliant, some exasperating, and some a little of both. What I don’t know is which is which. So let’s see if the P3 community can help winnow and sift this sudden bounty.

Here’s the list.  Or here. Of course, if you have a comment on one or another piece and you have a DKos login, go ahead and make your comment there. What we are soliciting here is pointers to the best articles and, if there are factual problems, factual corrections or factual contestations of those particular articles, to try to identify discuss them.

There’s around thirty to choose from at present, so start with the day of the month of your birthday. If it’s the first, read the top of the list; if it’s the seventeenth, start with number seventeen. Move down the list and wrap around if you hit the bottom.

Read a few and please report which ones you thought were best. There have to be real gems in there. Let’s find them and discuss them.

Special rules for this thread 1) please do not raise articles you did not mostly like and agree with and 2) be sure and say what you liked about that article. Feel free to point out what you didn’t like or don’t agree with, but mostly this is about finding the best articles. (This is not a skeptofest! Violators will be bore holed.) It’s on topic to discuss/ dispute articles raised, but let’s start with someone willing to defend it.

Normally finding the good stuff online and pointing you at it is a big part of what we offer here. But we’re overwhelmed by this bounty! Please help!



  1. Andrew Hoffman via mightymouse ( "Climate skepticism is not a knowledge deficit issue. Michigan State University sociologist Aaron McCright and Oklahoma State University sociologist Riley Dunlap have observed that increased education and self-reported understanding of climate science have been shown to correlate with lower concern among conservatives and Republicans and greater concern among liberals and Democrats."

  2. Thanks for getting the ball rolling, PDA.

    I saw the article, and though it sort of undermines my core position I rather liked it. (It was at the top of the list when I looked but my birthday actually is the first of the month.)

    My answer is that the resistance being discusses here is one cause of the lack of insight into the problem. People who can't stand the sight of blood don;t make good doctors. Climate science is like medicine; it's like being a trauma doc watching a train wreck about to happen. Nobody sane really likes it. Once you get the picture you want to start screaming, and that doesn't help either.

    We probably should discuss the McCright/Dunlap paper though, which I think is badly done and horribly misleading. They tested for very basic scientific literacy (what causes the seasons) not for deep understanding of climate or interest in it. Their result doesn't surprise me; people's opinions align with their politics. But if they selected for the ten per cent of the population who could do well on more detailed questions (what is El Nino, when was the last time the earth was definitely as warm as today (only partial credit for mentioning MWP) etc.) and then correlated opinion with knowledge, I'm pretty confident that a different picture would emerge.

    To defend the "partial deficit model" (i.e., that more understanding is necessary but not sufficient) it is necessary to understand that very few people have a good grasp of available relevant knowledge. I think McCright and Dunlap ask the wrong question.

    But the question of where the resistance comes from and the discussion in the DKos piece is on the money.

  3. What I think's interesting about the left/right education issue is what it might tell us about the importance of networks in view formation. The point isn't the education that's taking place - it's that we become exposed to larger information networks as we pass through the education system, but as we do, we're (probably by default) selecting what/who we network with based on our already existing views. So it might be that an otherwise uncertain view on climate change ends up `skeptical' due to that exposure, and gets continually reinforced once there.

    So yes: it's not the education, it's the information networks that education provides access to, and these are different for different politics.

    I was reading the same article too: I did like the point about what a lot of people actually think, i.e. "virtually nothing in these conversations dealt with whether AGW was real or not."

    The suggestion is to "change the terminology into two camps: AGW deniers and AGW rejecters." The latter are a much larger group including, it seems, people who aren't really paying attention but will stick to their general skepticism of The Man Telling Them How Things Are.

    Nice example of that from Steve Hughes here, 4'15'' ish. It's very hard to watch someone dismiss climate change so trivially, but I think it suggests 'rejecters' might be exactly right, and possibly a harder problem. p.s. I'm really loving the fact I can generally find a video snippet of anything I want to share. The interwebs rocks.

    "Oh, by the way, the planet's broken. All warmed up. And, er, yeah - we have to fix it, cos we've broken it. And we've done tests."

    "Who has?"

    "You know - experts."

    "Who are they?"

    "Ah, don't worry about it, they're here."

    I don't even believe in it. People freak out - "what do you mean you don't believe in it? You have to believe in it, it's the law!"

    "Not yet, I'm sure it will be. But until then, nah. Why should I believe in it, what are you talking about? They're running around dropping depleted uranium all over the Earth, letting nuclear weapons off underneath the sea. And the rest of us, what are we gonna do? Sit at home with a special lightbulb and a shopping bag for life."

  4. I read a handful. Here are my thoughts:

    I guess I need to read McKibben's Rolling Stone article. It looks like just about everybody else has.

    I like Rep. Waxman, so I appreciated reading his contribution:

    If you've been paying attention to US politics recently you won't learn much, but it's still a good read.

    The most unique (and therefore interesting) one I read was Brian Kahn's piece on crop insurance in Ethiopia:

    Highly recommended. We spend so much time working on the mitigation policy that it's easy to forget about helping vulnerable populations with adaptation.

  5. I started here (19th) and was about to post a comment pointing to another article lauding the McCright/Dunlop paper but at the last moment noticed it was the same one!

    I like the distinction between deniers and rejectionists, and the seemingly anti-deficit-model conclusion that more comunication from the scientists isn't the solution:

    "We need other politicians, farmers, business leaders, outdoorsmen and women, religious leaders, etc., to step up and speak in ways their communities will hear."

    However, prior to this is the real argument:

    "More science is not really going to convince these people. Not by itself, anyway. "

    The 'Not by itself' is the key - no-one ever argues it is enough (except the imagined advocates of the deficit model whom certain commentators like to criticise). As Michael says, it's the partial-deficit model.

    Something I think missing from the article is explicit mention of the connection between deniers and rejectionists. The deniers provide the degree of doubt that enables rejection. Also, the leaders from "other arenas" mentioned above need the tools to enable their own communication.

  6. Breaking the Poverty Trap in Ethiopia: Subsistence, Satellites, and Some Other Important Stuff* is worth reading, with the caveat that I know very little about insurance.

    It basically presents a feasible (as far as I can tell) method to help insure farmers in areas where traditional crop insurance is not available, using Ethiopia as an example. if it works simple solutions like this can help farmers adapt to extreme weather, as long as we don't push the climate too far.

  7. Pingback: Another Week of GW News, August 26, 2012 – A Few Things Ill Considered

  8. OK, late, some extracts of a brief visit that caught my attention, along with Ed Markey mentioned above:
    Can Weathercasters Become Climatecasters? by ClimateBrad

    .... The political, social, and economic pressures on weathercasters are great, and many here are afraid to talk about the science of how the burning of fossil fuels is changing our weather. They feel isolated and overwhelmed, and are unsure if there would be a positive response from their viewership for taking the personal risk to talk about global warming on the air. Below are some stories about the meteorologists in attendance who have taken the plunge and are demonstrating that talking about global warming isn't just okay, but it's the right thing to do.

    From the point of view of the planet, this may be the most important meeting of weather reporters in history. Because the burning question in Beantown is whether weathercasters will embrace their responsibility to communicate how climate change is creating a new normal of dangerous, extreme weather.

    Given the climate change-fueled storms, heat waves, droughts, and wildfires that have dominated the past year, global warming will undoubtedly be a “hot” topic at this year’s conference. But, amazingly, many broadcast meteorologists remain lukewarm to the subject: The majority of weathercasters, including many with AMS certification, don’t believe that humans are causing climate change, let alone that it’s dramatically shifting our weather patterns. These meteorologists are missing the opportunity to be journalistic heroes who can inform the nation about our increasingly poisoned weather.
    Most Americans want their meteorologists to report on climate change. .... Their local meteorologists are the ones who can help them understand what’s going on, and whether they should expect more.
    Let's talk a bit more about how weathercaster Jim Gandy has become one of the nation’s most effective climate change communicators, and how he has done so in South Carolina, one of the most conservative states in the nation.

    .... With a black cowboy hat and light southern drawl, Gandy told us he started investigating climate science in 2005 after geology professors at a nearby university asked him, “What do you think about this climate change thing?” Gandy took the question seriously, familiarizing himself with the peer-reviewed literature, and learning about how human activities are changing the weather and climate.

    In 2011, Gandy partnered with George Mason’s Center for Climate Change Communication and the nonprofit Climate Central to develop a program called Climate Matters, a segment that places his weathercasts in the context of climate change. Gandy also blogs regularly about climate. Broadcasting in South Carolina, Gandy was well aware of the risks. “I’m not from a red state, I’m from a dark red state,” he told us. Like his friend and peer Dan Satterfield, a weathercaster based until recently in Huntsville, Ala., Gandy began speaking out about climate change fully prepared to face backlash from his politically conservative audience.

    But a funny thing happened: The backlash never came. Rather than facing an onslaught of angry phone calls, Gandy found that many viewers were fascinated by his reports connecting climate change with their daily lives. His report on climate change’s impact on poison ivy, for instance, received praise from viewers who stopped him on the street to thank him.

    Unfortunately, Gandy is an outlier among weathercasters, who are some of the America’s most trusted public messengers on climate change ... “lack of viewer support” prevents them from including climate information in their nightly broadcasts. ....

    .... he more viewers watched Gandy’s program, the more informed they were about climate change and the science behind it.

    .... TV meteorologists are professional communicators with incredible access to the public. ....

    Game Over by praenomen

    By the time I reached my room, daylight was peaking through the windows, and I was eager to visit the open-air restaurant in the atrium. I decided to take a quick shower, so I turned on the faucet, allowing time for the water to heat while I sat on the bed and undressed. When I entered the tiled stall and stepped beneath the stream of water, I suddenly felt an overwhelming urge to vomit. The water reeked with an odor that I can only describe as a mixture of raw sewage combined with seawater. I jumped out quickly and dried off, realizing I had no way of removing the smell now. It wasn’t as if I could use the water to rinse off the stench of the water. My hair, my skin, every single inch of my body reeked. .... nothing I tried could remove the putrid smell.
    A person who has been raised in the United States will become ill from drinking water that is as polluted as the water I encountered; in fact, consuming any liquid that has been contaminated by feces can be life threatening. ... Citarum River in Indonesia ... is the most toxic river on earth, and yet it is the primary source of drinking water for millions of people.
    Snowpacks that frequently form on California mountain peaks are expected to melt. Winter precipitation that normally falls as snow will be replaced by rain, which will have a negative impact on our ground water resources. Runoff will flow too quickly, preventing the earth from replenishing natural water storage.

    Also, when snowpacks melt, the rapid runoff can create catastrophic events, primarily flooding on an epic scale. Think of New Orleans. And we could experience similar flooding events if seawater rises to predicted levels. Salinity intrusion would then damage some of our fresh water supplies, causing bacteria levels to rise in our drinking water.

    Pollution of our bays caused by drainage systems and sewage dumps, both treated and untreated,....
    Contaminated urban runoff, magnified by overdevelopment, is seriously altering the health of many marine life forms that exist less than 600 feet from the surface of the ocean.
    From the land, high levels of pesticides and toxins are being carried to the oceans, dramatically affecting shallow coastal zones, sea grass marine nursery areas, and coral reefs. Over sixty percent of the raw or treated sewage produced by man, rich in nitrogen, is being dumped into the oceans causing eutrophication in coastal waters. This overabundance of nutrients is causing algae blooms world-wide, impacting the marine food web. The red tide blooms (dinoflagellate) have caused shellfish poisoning in humans and mass mortality of clams.

    More than half of the solid waste generated by man and being dumped into the oceans is highly durable plastics. Marine species become entangled in plastic debris and die from ingesting fish nets [sic], plastic bags, cigarette filters and condoms. Many species die in drift nets. We consider our coastal zones a convenient alternate to landfills, dumping any waste, including radioactive materials and toxic dredged materials, into the unseen ocean depths.

    ... The effect of climate change on the fragile biological systems living just below the ocean’s surface as “a primeval tide of toxins.” In ... Moreton Bay, Australia, where a strain of cyanobacteria ― a species of bacteria and algae that existed 2.7 billion years ago ― wreaked havoc on local fisherman.
    We have overfished, poisoned, and dumped so much oil into the Euphotic Zone that only 10% of the big fish that once existed now remain, and many of them are currently listed as endangered species. And we did this to one of the most important trophic levels of our food chain. (emphasis mine)
    We have polluted almost everything ...

    How Climate Campaigners Can Crush “Koch Cash”
    Victor Menotti

    Anything that outs the Koch brothers is helpful. However, my efforts to bring people's attention to the Anschutz empire who are equally iniquitous have so far met with no response.

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