Wattsupgate: Denialists claim all knowledge is wrong

January 31, 2010

It really is that bad.  Climate science denialists now attack any information simply for not being what they want it to be.  Lysenko’s Ghost smiles broadly.

Anthony Watts is just the most prominent of the bloggers making hoax charges of error and worse in the fourth report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), because of a footnote that cites a rock climbing magazine.

Here’s the trouble for Watts:  There is no indication that the citation is in error in any way.  Watts’s move is more fitting of King George III’s campaign against Ben Franklin’s lightning rods, the prosecution of John Peter Zenger, the pre-World War II campaign against Einstein’s work because he was born a Jew, or the hoary old Red Channels campaign against Texas history told by John Henry Faulk.  It’s as bad as the Texas State Board of Education’s attack on Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? Watts’ and others’ complaint is simply that Climbing magazine’s story on the worldwide retreat of glaciers suitable for climbing is not published in a juried science journal.

In other words, they indict the science, not because it’s wrong — they have no evidence to counter it — but because it’s too American Patriot correct Jewish left Texan mistakenly thought to be political well-known, too accessible, (small “d”) democratically-reported.

And of course, any comment that points that out at Watts’s blog goes into long-term “moderation,” keeping it from the light of day in the best tradition of the Crown’s defense of Gov. Cosby’s misadministration of New York (see “John Peter Zenger”).  Watts said in a quote that should have been attributed to the Daily Telegraph:

The IPCC’s remit is to provide an authoritative assessment of scientific evidence on climate change.

In its most recent report, it stated that observed reductions in mountain ice in the Andes, Alps and Africa was being caused by global warming, citing two papers as the source of the information.

However, it can be revealed that one of the sources quoted was a feature article published in a popular magazine for climbers which was based on anecdotal evidence from mountaineers about the changes they were witnessing on the mountainsides around them.

The other was a dissertation written by a geography student, studying for the equivalent of a master’s degree, at the University of Berne in Switzerland that quoted interviews with mountain guides in the Alps.

The revelations, uncovered by The Sunday Telegraph, have raised fresh questions about the quality of the information contained in the report, which was published in 2007.

It comes after officials for the panel were forced earlier this month to retract inaccurate claims in the IPCC’s report about the melting of Himalayan glaciers.

By those standards, Watts’s own readers should eschew his blog — it’s not peer reviewed science by any stretch, and Watts isn’t an established authority in climate science (he’s not even working for an advanced degree).  Consistency isn’t a virtue or concern among climate change denialists.  Watt’s entire modus operandi is much more anecdotal than the story in Climbing, which was written by a physicist/climber who studies climate change in the world’s mountains.

And did you notice?  They’re whining about research done by a scientist in pursuit of a degree, complaining about the second citation.  That’s the exaclty kind of research that they claim the magazine article is not.  Their complaint is, it appears, that a scientist in pursuit of education is not the right “kind” of person to do climate research. It’s the chilling sort of bigotry that we spent so much time in the 20th century fighting against.  In the 21st century, though, it appears one can still get away with demonizing knowledge, education and research, part of the campaign to indict “elitism,” the same sort of elitism aspired to by America’s founders.  Too much of the criticism against scientists involved in documenting global warming is the cheap bigotry the critics claim to find in science, falsely claimed in my view.

Topsy-turvy.

And the glaciers?  Yeah, the evidence tends to show they are in trouble.  Those Himalayan glaciers?  The IPCC report was accurate in everything except the speed at which the glaciers decline — they should be with us for another three centuries, not just 50 years, if we can reduce warming back to 1990s levels (oddly, denialists rarely deal with the facts of accelerating warming, preferring to point to a local snowstorm as a rebuttal of all knowledge about climate).

Oh, and the research?  The author of the story in Climbing magazine is Mark Bowen.  Dr. Bowen’s Ph.D. is in physics from MIT. He’s a climber, and he researches climate change on the world’s highest mountains.  His 2005 book, Thin Ice, focused tightly on what we can learn about climate from the world’s highest mountains.   Bowen is the expert Anthony Watts would like to be.

Bowen’s newest book:  Censoring Science:  Inside the political attack on James Hansen and the truth of global warming. Watts doesn’t want anyone to read that book.  It is easy to imagine Watt’s s attack is, he hopes, pre-emptive, against Bowen’s book.

I’ll wager Watts hasn’t read the article in Climbing, and didn’t know who Bowen was when he launched his attack, though.  The denials of bias coming out of the denialists’ camp will be interesting to watch.

Let the denialists roll out the rope far enough, they’ll inevitably hang themselves.

Do something for freedom: Spread the news

Add to FacebookAdd to NewsvineAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Furl


Tracks on the beach, footprints in the sand

January 30, 2010

Maybe not the tracks you expected — pulse quickening, all the same:

Grizzly bear tracks, Sithylemenkat Lake, Kanuti National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska - photo by Steve Hillebrand USFWS, public domain

Grizzly bear tracks, Sithylemenkat Lake, Kanuti National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska - August 2006 photo by Steve Hillebrand USFWS, public domain


Former President Millard Fillmore writes to President Abraham Lincoln

January 30, 2010

May 4, 1861:  Millard Fillmore wrote:

May 4, 1861, letter from Fillmore to Lincoln, introducing a friend - Library of Congress

May 4, 1861, letter from Millard Fillmore to Abraham Lincoln – Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress

Transcription of the letter:

From Millard Fillmore to Abraham Lincoln, May 4, 1861

Buffalo May 4, 1861.

My Dear Sir,

The bearer, Dr. Martin Mayer, a Stranger to me, has asked of me a letter of Introduction to your Excellency, and produced such high proofs of character, that I do not feel at liberty to refuse it; and therefore while I decline any interference, in any appointment he may desire, (which is my uniform practice) I desire simple to ask that he may be heard.

Respectfully yours

Millard Fillmore


Look at the past: A class project?

January 30, 2010

Look at this stuff, at Pillar Post.  Could your students do something like this for your town?

image by Bu Yourself, at Pillar Post

image by Bu Yourself, at Pillar Post

Students would have to find the old photos at the library, or at your local historical association or museum.  Most of your students already have the electronic photo equipment though . . .

Just an idea.

Resources, and more:


Mushroom seminar in Brunswick, Maine – January 30

January 29, 2010

Biology covers vast fields, with experts in some areas able to spend entire lives without touching other areas of the science of living things.

Working on the effects of climate change, many different areas of biology need to be tapped to figure out what is going on, and what might happen.

Mushrooms, anyone?

Old friend Greg Marley, one of the very few I’d trust to identify edible wild ‘shrooms, presents a session on mushrooms in Maine, tomorrow.  Mushrooms had a tough go of it in Maine over the last season.  Why?  Marley may offer suggestions, you may have some data.

Mushrooms for Health, Greg Marley

Greg Marley is the author of Mushrooms for Health

In any case, if you’re in or near Brunswick, Maine, this is one of the better things you could do tomorrow; I hear from Marley:

The Maine Mycological Association is holding their second Winter Lecture this Saturday, Jan 30 In Brunswick.

Many people talk about the cold wet year that we just allowed to slip into history.  “Boy, it must have been a fantastic year for mushrooms!” they say.  Well, in reality it wasn’t.  We didn’t see many common species at all or in anything approaching normal numbers.  Other species were delayed or fruited in very different habitats that usual.  It was a very odd mushroom season.

Greg Marley will be leading a discussion and showing slides of mushrooms fruiting in 2009.  We will look at weather patterns and talk about out ideas on what happened and, more importantly, what we can learn from the year’s lessons.

Please come, bring your ideas and opinions along with your mushroom stories from 2009 and join the conversation!

Saturday, January 30.  9-11:30am
Free and open to all.
Curtis Memorial Library
Pleasant St
Brunswick, ME

Exit 28 from I-295 onto Route 1 (Pleasant St).  At the 3rd traffic light continue straight as Rt 1 bears left.   Curtis Library is 2.5 blocks down on the right, across from the Post office.


Geography education vs. geography learning

January 29, 2010

Angst over the state of education never goes away:

Much more important is the way we seem to have turned away from the very idea of education that sustains a healthy, vibrant liberal democracy.  As I write this I am conscious of how unfashionable it sounds. However, there has been a steady erosion of the notion that education can and should fuel our individual ability to think critically about the world as we find it – which requires knowledge and understanding of how the world has come to be. We are swamped with a language of targets, skills and 21st century ‘learning to learn’, but have forgotten what it is that distinguishes learning (a word that now seems to carry huge weight and always deemed a good thing in itself, when clearly it is not) from education.  All worthwhile education is, in the end self-education, based on the student’s curiosity, their need to know and readiness to rise to the challenge of finding out. Indeed, offering challenge to young people is one way to motivate them – so different from today’s orthodoxy which says we should make learning accessible, bite-sized and achievable by all.

These guys write from England, however, and they write from the vantage point of teaching geography and having just published their book on how better to teach geography.

See their take on what geography teachers should be teaching about Haiti right now.


More schools jump on “no-recess” recess bandwagon

January 29, 2010

How long will the madness persist?

Via Lenore Skenazy at Free-Range Kids comes word that MommaLou has a meeting to find out why her kid’s school wants the kids to spend recess time engaged in something other than recess.

Excuse me?

They aim to “change the perception of recess from free time away from learning to a valuable learning experience that will teach them and will help them cope in all social settings and environments. When children view recess as “free time” they have a tendency to act in a less responsible manner and push the limits of irresponsible behavior. In order to change the perception of recess, children must see that its content is respected and valued.”

The absolute best memories I have of my childhood consisted of me and my sister on the loose in our backyard making mud pies and playing “lost kids”. When I was in college studying early childhood education, I spent countless hours in classrooms learning about how kids learn. Kids learn through play. They just need the resources. The tools. And time.

Well, yeah, that’s what recess is all about, isn’t it?

Kids need recess to stay healthy, the studies show. Recess keeps them healthy.  In my corporate consulting, we counseled managers to provide recess.  Creativity and corporate problem solving experts, like Dr. Perry W. Buffington, recommend business people take a recess and get away from work for a while when things get tense, or when problem solvers get dense.  In one session I watched with Buffington, one manager didn’t get it and kept coming up with all sorts of things to do to avoid taking a recess.  Buffington finally spelled it out for him:  Get away from the office; make sure that the activity is AWAY from the building . . .

Heck, do they have an “organizational health” survey at that school?  The teachers need recess for the kids, too.

Recall these resources from my earlier post:

Nota bene: Even just a little movement worksIt works for adults, too.

Resources:

  • PEDIATRICS Vol. 123 No. 2 February 2009, pp. 431-436 (doi:10.1542/peds.2007-2825) (subscription required for full text),  “School Recess and Group Classroom Behavior,” Romina M. Barros, MD, Ellen J. Silver, PhD and Ruth E. K. Stein, MD, Department of Pediatrics, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Children’s Hospital at Montefiore and Rose F. Kennedy Center, Bronx, New York

    OBJECTIVES. This study examines the amount of recess that children 8 to 9 years of age receive in the United States and compares the group classroom behavior of children receiving daily recess with that of children not receiving daily recess.

  • See this year-old post at The Elementary Educator
  • Post in agreement from the venerable Trust for Public Lands, one of the best and best respected non-profits in America

Also, be sure to see this post from Ms. Cornelius at A Shrewdness of Apes.  If you’re having difficulty telling the difference between school and a prison — or if your school kid is having that difficulty, it’s time to act.

Cartoon - lawyers still get recess.  Andertoons

Via doxpop.com. See Andertoons.com, and buy it for your newsletter.


No climate change denialists will apply

January 28, 2010

Australia is looking for a scientist to head up the next round of Australia’s reports to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

But who would want a job that pays nothing and brings a great deal of grief?  Crikey notes that scientists, especially Australian scientists, get slandered and libeled daily by climate change denialists.  Not to mention the death threats.

That fat pay the denialists keep claiming comes to the scientists, and urges them to misreport the data?

The only remuneration IPCC scientists get – as a quick check of last week’s ad would have made clear — is travel costs and living expenses while they are at IPCC meetings.  The IPCC work is on top of their day jobs as academics and researchers.

That’s right, ladies and gentleman:  Climate Denialist Extraordinaire Christopher Monckton profits from his obnoxious and error-filled lectures more than the guys who do the heavy lifting.

You know that denialists won’t apply to do the job.  Most of us suspect they don’t have the courage of their convictions to do it, but there’s another problem:  Very few of them are qualified.  They don’t do science.

Bookmark the story. Remind the denialists of it from time to time.

IPCC art, on AR5 process

(New year’s greetings from the IPCC.)


Monckton lies over the ocean

January 28, 2010

Christopher Monckton continues his “No Tern Left Unstoned, No Lie Left Untold” tour of Australia, trotting out all the old falsehoods about DDT — did he continue to falsely blame President John Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy for malaria?

Does he know malaria is spread by mosquitoes, and not Kennedys?


Yellowstone Earthquake Swarm of 2010 fizzling out?

January 27, 2010

Inside Yellowstone noted just three earthquakes in the Yellowstone swarm in a 24-hour period covering most of Saturday.

It wasn’t the End of the World as Old Faithful Knows It, after all.

The Yellowstone Volcano Observatory (YVO) suggests the swarm continues, however – but doesn’t suggest anyone should be too concerned about it.

As of January 26, 2010 9:00 AM MST there have been 1,360 located earthquakes in the recent Yellowstone National Park swarm. The swarm began January 17, 2010 around 1:00 PM MST about 10 miles (16 km) northwest of the Old Faithful area on the northwestern edge of Yellowstone Caldera. Swarms have occurred in this area several times over the past two decades.

There have been 11 events with a magnitude larger than 3, 101 events of magnitude 2 to 3, and 1248 events with a magnitude less than 2. The largest events so far have been a pair of earthquakes of magnitude 3.7 and 3.8 that occurred after 11 PM MST on January 20, 2010.

The first event of magnitude 3.7 occurred at 11:01 PM MST and was shortly followed by a magnitude 3.8 event at 11:16 PM. Both shocks were located around 9 miles to the southeast of West Yellowstone, MT and about 10 miles to the northwest of Old Faithful, WY. Both events were felt throughout the park and in surrounding communities in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho.

See the University of Utah Seismograph Stations for the most recent earthquake data and press releases. The team is working 24/7 to analyze and communicate information about the swarm. Seismograph recordings from stations of the Yellowstone seismograph network can be viewed online at: http://quake.utah.edu/helicorder/yell_webi.htm.

You can get the information from the horse’s mouth (Dragon’s Mouth?) — some enterprising earth sciences, geography or general science teacher can probably work up a great assignment for students to deal with the data and make sense from them.

Ground deformations in the Yellowstone Caldera, from satellite photos - Geology.com imageGround deformations in the Yellowstone Caldera, from satellite photos - Geology.com image

Ground deformations in the Yellowstone Caldera, from satellite photos, in 2005 - Geology.com image (This isn't really directly related to the earthquake swarm, but it's a cool image.)

Update, March 12, 2011: This post has been mighty popular over the last week.  Can someone tell me, in comments, whether this post was linked to by another site?  Why the popularity all of a sudden — even before the Japan earthquake and tsunami?  Please do!


Happy birthday, Wolfie!

January 27, 2010

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart came into the world on January 27, 1756 – younger than Franklin, younger than Madison barely.  I try to keep his life chronology in relation to U.S. history.  Mozart died on December 5, 1791, the day the Bill of Rights was ratified.

Our local classical station, WRR-101.1 FM promises appropriate playing of his music, even taking requests with that modern device, the internet:

Listen to WRR, Classical 101.1 as WRR plays works exclusively by Mozart, born Jan. 27, 1756. All your favorite symphonies, concertos, opera overtures and chamber works by this musical titan will be spotlighted.

Something from Mozart you’d like to hear? Share it with us at facebook.com/wrr101 and we may add it to the birthday celebration!

Personally, I hope someone plays one of Mozart’s two works for glass harmonica.  Dr. Franklin’s musical invention has a small repertoire, but a solid one, considering Mozart’s contribution.

Mozart’s stock rose in the 1990s with the production of the play and movie Amadeus! I like to think it rose at least partly because people like his music, too, as this essay suggested way back then:

Turn your channel to PBS, where Hugh Downs or Peter Ustinov is narrating a Mozart special. Turn to one of the commercial channels, and Mozart’s Piano Concerto K. 466 and “Little” G Minor Symphony K. 183/173dB are selling MacIntosh computers, Don Giovanni gives class to Cheer laundry detergent, The Marriage of Figaro hawks the Sirocco automobile, the Requiem’s Lacrymosa seemingly sanctifies Lee Jeans, and another piano concerto (K. 482) perks Maxwell House coffee. The recovery of a Mozart symphony, even if juvenilia, receives front-page coverage from The New York Times. Dealers and collectors will go to any extreme for a piece of the action; Mozart autographs sell at the same prices as fine paintings, and dealers in one case dismembered the “Andretter” Serenade K. 185, retailing it piecemeal for greater profit. The Marriage of Figaro and Don Giovanni now rival the box-office receipts of La Boheme and Madame Butterfly.

So, what will you do to celebrate?

In a chldren's play, every one but his sister has forgotten Mozart's birthday.  Photo by Chalemie

In a chldren's play, everyone but his sister has forgotten Mozart's birthday. Photo by Chalemie

Invite others to celebrate, too!

Add to FacebookAdd to NewsvineAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Furl


LeveeGate? KatrinaGate? Republicans arrested trying to bug Sen. Landreiu’s NOLA office

January 27, 2010

You don’t think it’s political?

Lindsay Beyerstein at Majikthise has links, summaries and good original reporting at her site.

Four men were arrested with a carload of electronic bugging gear, allegedly and apparently while trying to install bugs in the office of Louisiana’s U.S. Sen. Mary Landreiu.  One of the men arrested was James O’Keefe, the guy who posed as a pimp in a sting on the Washington offices of the ACORN low-income housing advocacy group.

Beyerstein has more details here, here, and here.  Astoundingly, the four men appear to have been working to plant bugs in a federally-owned building.  That will make it a federal crime, a felony.

Illegal spying on Democrats was big news in 1972no one believed anyone could stoop so low, however, and so the news went under-reported for months.

Today?  Everybody expects Republicans to play so dirty — and so the news goes under-reported.

Bookmark Beyerstein’s site.

In their attempt to turn back the clock on so many issues, have the Republicans resorted to the Dirty Tricks of the Nixon era, too?

More:


This is a post you should read, for your own peace of mind

January 27, 2010

Or, perhaps, this is the sentence linking to the post you should read for your own piece of mind.  This is the three word sentence, starting with “At,” which points to Coyote Crossing, and which lacks a subject and a verb.  This sentence urges the reader to be sure to read the comments at the link.

This sentence offers the trite shake of a scrub brush, symbol of this blog, to the blogger who linked to the blog to which the previous sentence linked.


Lou Dobbs is from Rupert, Idaho?

January 27, 2010

He should have spent more time with the spud farmers and sheep ranchers.  He should have spent more time with the Basques who herded the sheep.


More good rap for the schoolroom: Keynes vs. Hayek

January 26, 2010

This is really good.

It’s a pretty good rundown of the fight between Keynes and Hayek, conducted mostly after Keynes’ death in economics classrooms and central banks world wide.

Watch it, and hope for more soon, at Econstories, the blog of the guys who created the thing, John Papola and Russ Roberts.

Resources:


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,972 other followers

%d bloggers like this: