Archive for April 2010
There are many resources available to learn about climate change and modern day global warming. I list quite a few good ones on my Suggested Reading on Climate Change Web page. Most of these resources do require ample reading time which, in today’s fast-paced world, may not be what some skeptics are looking for. The best way to get a message across is by using images with minimal text. The links below provide three such examples. These files are .PDF files that have been converted from PowerPoint presentations.
Around November 19, 2009, stolen emails and computer code from the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU) were uploaded to a publicly accessible Russian Web server. The controversy went viral and was dubbed Climategate. Climategate was an obvious attempt to subvert the UN Climate Change Conference (COP15) in Copenhagen a few weeks later and I blogged on the CRU Hack on November 24 to show why these stolen emails did not undermine the integrity of climate science.
The main targets of the anti-science crowd were Dr. Phil Jones, Director of the CRU, and Dr. Michael Mann of The Pennsylvania State University. These highly respected scientists were accused of hiding data, fudging data, avoiding requests for information, and purposefully blocking peer-reviewed journals from IPCC reviewers. Furthermore, the “big guns” of the climate change denialosphere such as Marc Morano of Climate Depot, Anthony Watts of WattsUpWithThat, and conservative “think tanks” such as Americans for Prosperity, the Heritage Foundation, Cato Institute, and Competitive Enterprise Institute, among others, attempted to spin these emails as somehow proving that there was a massive international conspiracy to promote global warming.
There have been several investigations into the allegations of misconduct by Drs. Jones and Mann and every one has shown that the allegations were baseless. Dr. Michael Mann was exonerated on February 3, 2010 after an exhaustive investigation. Dr. Jones has been exonerated by the UK Parliament (March 31, 2010) and also exonerated by The University of East Anglia (April 14, 2010).
Did these exonerations receive the same coverage as the groundless accusations?
Not even close.
The science of climate change and even the scientists themselves are under attack from a well-orchestrated and well-oiled misinformation campaign. The best defense against this anti-science offensive is to make sure that the correct message reaches a wide audience. Chris Mooney & Sheril Kirshenbaum in their book Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens our Future explain that scientists have failed to get their message across for a variety of reasons but mostly because we are not engaging the public on their turf. After reading that book, I became a climate change science education advocate with my Global Warming: Man or Myth? Website, this blog, and more recently a Facebook Fan Group called Global Warming Fact of the Day. I have two small children and I do not like the future that I see for them or for their children in a human-driven warmer world. As I travel the blogosphere and as I watch television, it is quite apparent that Moody & Kirshenbaum are on to something. Scientists have fallen quite short of being the expert communicators that they must be for no less a reason than our future is at stake. Obviously we have much to learn.
I was fortunate enough to recently attend the Communicating Science Workshop sponsored by Stony Brook University Center and Brookhaven National Laboratory where Alan Alda gave the keynote address. The agenda for the workshop can be viewed here. Participants were able to attend three breakout sessions. I attended the following: Distilling Your Message, Using Newer Media, and Interacting with the Media. I came away from this workshop with many valuable tips and tricks to be a better science communicator and I will use this blog post to share these gems with you.
Noise: Lies, Damned Lies, and Denial of Global Warming is a new book by statistician Grant Foster that should be an essential part of everyone’s climate change library. It is a powerful weapon!
Grant Foster is a genius at delivering complex statistics to the average person. He explains the statistics (without using equations!) in a writing style that is far more typical of a liberal arts professor or a high school teacher than that of a world-class mathematician. C’mon, admit it. How many math professors are on your short list of “the best teacher/professor I have ever had”? I certainly do not have any on my list and that includes teachers and professors from elementary, junior high, high school, undergraduate, and graduate levels. I wish I had had a Grant Foster teaching me statistics!
The book can be purchased from Lulu for $12.95. At 120 pages, it is a quick read and it fits in one’s back pocket. Armed with the helpful information in this handy guide, any person will be able to shoot down the BS from those that try to mislead with bad analyses. Grant Foster shows the ways these fraudsters are trying to trick unwitting persons with cherry-picked data and outright lies while at the same time, he shows the reader how to look at data the correct way.