April Open Thread

Suggested Topic: Have you read the IPCC WG II Summary for Policymakers yet? Or are you all focused on whether Nate Silver’s choice of Roger Pielke Jr. as a climate statistician makes any sense?

Anything goes. Moderation is lighter than on other articles.


  1. Very curious of what folks think of the politics of Silver allowing Kerry Emanuel's response, as well as BTI's conclusion that "IPCC Sides with Pielke, Jr"


    (Pielke is one of their Senior Fellows, of course).

  2. Actually, the Pielke Jr. thing has gotten rather boring, though it would be helpful if people realized his work is not as good as his shtick. I think it's interesting that nobody is sticking up for Richard Tol now he's been rumbled. About time. On the way to finding an article about that, I found this instead, which seems to me to say something much more important, by Mark Hertsgaard:


    "I felt grief, fear, rage, frustration and, finally, a determination to resist. One emotion I never permit myself, however, is despair. For despair only paralyzes at a time when action is urgently needed."

    new subject:

    Why are we using that bloody awful word "mitigation" to talk about the desperate need to deal with the causes of our problems rather than its symptoms. It's confusing even if technically correct in the limited sphere where it is used. It doesn't even mean the same thing in other contexts.

  3. Pielke's whole approach is to look where the evidence isn't and say it isn't there. BTI is just parroting that.

    Pielke is not literally wrong, and indeed what he says is part of what IPCC says. But it's a very selective selection.

    Useful responses to Pielke are at




    By the way I am not one to publicly demonize anybody. There are a few people in the climate world that I am convinced are acting in bad faith but I doubt that Pielke is among them. Pielke does raise important questions sometimes. But I am frequently not especially impressed with his answers.

    In this case he seems to be confusing absence of evidence with evidence of absence, and is carrying a good fraction of the public along with him. It's just not a sensible way to think about risk, and no sane person would address mundane risks in the way that he implies.

  4. interesting that nobody is sticking up for Richard Tol

    Possibly his hairdo is not looking serious enough for the very serious people (economists).
    On despair: Most people avoid looking at how things are because they fear despair. They need words like "mitigation" and endless excuses and doubt. My merciless response: The longer you stick your head in the sand the worse your ass will burn later. -- Joanna Macy has some more compassionate advice:

    When we open our eyes to what is happening, even when it breaks our hearts, we discover our true size; for our heart, when it breaks open, can hold the whole universe.

  5. I'm bored with the BTI. Here's something:

    Will Stephen Colbert continue to cover science at CBS?


  6. I think Colbert is tired of snark and post-Letterman so is everybody else. Based on interviews out of character, he seems a very kind person. I think he may be the right person for the times.

    Stephen Schneider appeared on the Carson show, so there's plenty of precedent for science on late night TV. Colbert can easily lead with N D-G T to set the tone. So while I share Sheril's concerns I'm optimistic.

  7. How about talking about Earth Day events, how it is observed in your community, whether it's helpful, whether it's veering off course. Or would this be off topic, are those attending these events not who we're trying to reach?

  8. For some reason I think this speaks to the difficulties of communicating with those who lack true curiosity. Very sideways, I admit:


    If you give me your attention, I will tell you what I am:
    I'm a genuine philanthropist – all other kinds are sham.
    Each little fault of temper and each social defect
    In my erring fellow creatures I endeavour to correct.
    To all their little weaknesses I open people's eyes;
    And little plans to snub the self-sufficient I devise;
    I love my fellow creatures – I do all the good I can –
    Yet everybody says I'm such a disagreeable man!
    And I can't think why!

    To compliments inflated I've a withering reply;
    And vanity I always do my best to mortify;
    A charitable action I can skillfully dissect;
    And interested motives I'm delighted to detect;
    I know everybody's income and what everybody earns;
    And I carefully compare it with the income-tax returns;
    But to benefit humanity however much I plan,
    Yet everybody says I'm such a disagreeable man!
    And I can't think why!

    I'm sure I'm no ascetic; I'm as pleasant as can be;
    You'll always find me ready with a crushing repartee,
    I've an irritating chuckle, I've a celebrated sneer,
    I've an entertaining snigger, I've a fascinating leer.
    To everybody's prejudice I know a thing or two;
    I can tell a woman's age in half a minute – and I do.
    But although I try to make myself as pleasant as I can,
    Yet everybody says I'm such a disagreeable man!
    And I can't think why!

    CHORUS. He can't think why!
    He can't think why!

  9. Just to be clear, the reason I posted this ditty was to address the sharpness sometimes found from all compass points of the struggle to bring reality to the fore. I have been using lack of curiosity as a portmanteau for denial, mostly, because it has struck me that the whole spectrum of anti-science seems to have a large appetite for anything at all that confirms opinions, and a complete lack of interest/curiosity about what it is they are trying to discredit. This failure seems so obvious I find it puzzling that more people lacking the expertise to check the science themselves don't notice the dead end a complete rejection of two centuries of mainstream science has created.

    But that strays from my point, that no matter what one may opine about the beliefs of others, friendliness and courtesy work better than pointed remarks and insults, no matter how true.

  10. Really interesting and useful talk for people who are math-challenged like yours truly.. Also been niggling at reductionism forever, I inherited a dislike of the common practice of only studying what we can measure completely.

  11. Interesting discussion over at Neven'sabout various physical impacts on Arctic sea ice, starting with a reference to increased wave height (h/t Colorado Bob via Steve Bloom). What with storms and thinning, there are questions about overall structural integrity. This summation may be a mite extreme, but bears keeping in mind:

    Neven puts it clearly with his usual polite caveat:

    I'm not really sure and/or qualified, but I've read here and there that it could be that the system is displaying the oscillations that precede a shift to another state.

    More detail over there, may my links work this time! (Preview would be wonderful ...)

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