Sisma Cile, Scienziati dell’Agenzia Spaziale Italiana smentiscono la Nasa

(originariamente pubblicato su ItaliaChiamaItalia)

‘Il movimento tellurico avrebbe spostato l’asse terrestre e modificato la durata del giorno sulla Terra. Tutto vero? Sembra proprio di no…’

di Maurizio Morabito

Fra i grossi titoloni dopo il terremoto in Cile del mese scorso, campeggiavano anche le affermazioni del prestigiosissimo Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) della NASA a Pasadena (California) secondo il quale addirittura il movimento tellurico avrebbe spostato l’asse terrestre e modificato la durata del giorno sulla Terra. Tutto vero? Sembra proprio di no, in base alle precisissime osservazioni del Centro di Geodesia Spaziale (CGS) dell’Agenzia Spaziale Italiana a Matera.

E’ una storia questa che speriamo faccia capire l’importanza di differenziare fra i calcoli teorici e le misurazioni del mondo reale. E’ stato infatti proprio sulla base di modelli al calcolatore che il team statunitense capeggiato da Richard Gross del JPL ha annunciato all’inizio di marzo come l’enorme spostamento di masse all’interno del pianeta in occasione del sisma cileno avrebbe portato a un accorciamento del giorno di 1,26 milionesimi di secondo, e spostato l’asse di rotazione di ben 8 centimetri. Nessuna conseguenza avvertibile nella vita quotidiana, ma a pochi anni da effetti di simile magnitudine dopo il terremoto di Natale del 2004 a Sumatra, abbastanza da richiamare l’attenzione riguardo una Terra che almeno apparentemente spesso si sposterebbe di qua e di la’.

Affermazioni quelle di Gross che fanno il giro del mondo. Cosa che purtroppo non succede invece con chi il pianeta lo misura effettivamente, e non solo nella memoria di un supercomputer che per quanto veloce non puo’ sostituire la realta’. Il 4 marzo esce infatti in sordina e in inglese un comunicato a firma Giuseppe Bianco del CGS, un centro italiano che da Matera e’ ufficialmente riferimento mondiale nelle straordinariamente precise misurazioni laser della posizione del pianeta Terra (lo International Laser Ranging Service, ILRS).

Bianco conferma che “come per ogni evento che produce un movimento di massa della Terra, il recente terremoto estremamente violento in Cile ha anche causato uno spostamento dell’asse terrestre di inerzia rispetto al suo asse di rotazione”. Pero’, continua Bianco,”occorre rilevare che movimenti molto più grandi si verificano di continuo, soprattutto come il risultato di una circolazione atmosferica ed oceanica”.

E cosa dicono i laser dell’ILRS? “I risultati preliminari non mostrano differenze significative, vale a dire superiori [...] a circa tre centimetri”. Cosa e’ successo, dunque? La NASA ha parlato troppo presto? “Questa valutazione si differenzia da quelle ottenute con i modelli teorici del pianeta (come quella prodotta dal Jet Propulsion Lab di Pasadena, California), che possono valutare la portata di uno spostamento sulla base dei dati geofisici e sismologici. Questo è il tipo di calcolo utilizzati per le previsioni meteorologiche, che si basano su dati osservati prima di una data particolare, e sui modelli teorici di come si sviluppino i fenomeni atmosferici”.

Sarebbe facile fare dell’ironia dunque sul come tutto cio’ spieghi alcune diciamo cosi’ “imprecisioni” nelle previsioni del tempo. Una cosa e’ comunque certa: il messaggio da Matera e’ che anche i supercomputer della NASA, nel loro piccolo, possono sbagliare. E sbagliano

A Dangerous Venue For AGW Skeptics?

Please do not show up wearing your Exxon badge!!

A rising tide of lies, ignorance and disinformation on climate change… where is it coming from?
Start: 14 Apr 2010, 6:30 pm


Wednesday 14th April, 6:30pm, location to be confirmed

Speakers including…

David Adam, Environmental Correspondent from the Guardian
Ben Stewart, Greenpeace
George Marshall, COIN – Climate Outreach and Information Network (founder)

plus more to be announced

Who are the “sceptics” or “deniers” , how are they organised, who is paying them? Is it true that theirs is the message that people most want to hear and why? What can we do to fight back? These questions and more… hear some answers and bring your own…

1970s Global Cooling Consensus Not A Myth – The Unassailable Argument

There are still many otherwise learned and reasonable people fooling themselves into thinking that the “1970s Global Cooling consensus” was a myth.  No matter how much they try to massage historical evidence, the evident truth is that they are mistaken.

In the 1970s (I am not saying, for the whole decade) there was a consensus about global cooling. How is such a conclusion reached? By asking the right question.

In fact, the very reason the question is asked is because it is relevant to the world of today.  Some have publicly declared that their skepticism on catastrophical Global Warming is based on their memories about catastrophical Global Cooling sometimes in the 1970s. Much is being done about Newsweek or New York Times articles of the time. The issue concerns therefore what we of 2010 would call a meme, and a popular one at that since it appeared and was propagated in general-interest newspapers and magazines.

That pretty much invalidates nerdy analyses of the scientific literature of the time, hardly a primary source of popular memes. Besides, one suspects it was far easier to publish a work on warming despite the underlying acceptance by prominent scientists of global cooling: surely at the time there was nothing remotely resembling the climategate gang, bent on preventing publication to anything challenging their beliefs. Fabricated unanimities just did not exist.

Hence the right question to ask is: did people sometimes in the 1970s live under the impression that there was a scientific consensus on Global Cooling? Note once again: it is a matter of impressions, not of some kind of unperceived reality.

Take this example: when Napoleon abdicated at Fontainebleau on 11 April 1814, all big political guns in Europe were under the impression that he was finished. Of course we know now that it wasn’t true (Napoleon escaped from his Elba prison 10 months later, and came tantalizingly close to win back his power in full).

Was there in 1814 a consensus that Napoleon was a defeated man? Yes. Was he? No, as far as we understand.  Yes, as far as contemporaries understood.

Likewise for Global Cooling…we have for a fact that world temperatures have not been declining in the last 30-40 years (rather, the opposite has happened). We also know that not every scientist in the 1970s believed in Global Cooling. And yet…for a person of 1974/1975 with an average scientific interest for example, the consensus on Global Cooling was a fact of life. Why, even the CIA did not hesitate to describe such a consensus, and to organize a scientific conference about it.

History is like a foreign country…the only way to understand it is to respect it, and to be careful when dealing with it. Unfortunately, in the heated world of the AGW believer, respect and care are seldom to be found.

BBC More Confused Than Birds About Climate Change

Are milder winters good for wildlife? Yes? No? Who knows? Certainly, nobody would know it were the BBC the main source of information…

Latest: Mar 19, 2010: “The harsh winter in Britain may have had a devastating impact on wildlife, particularly on birds like the kingfisher“. But on May 28, 2003: “increases in spring temperatures in temperate areas of Europe” mean “long-range migrant birds ‘in peril’“, even if “short-haul migrational birds could benefit“.

And if on Nov 3, 2005, “scientists showed that migration and breeding of the great tit, puffin, red admiral and other creatures are moving out of step with food supplies“, on May 8, 2008, as already reported here, “great tits cope well with warming“. Didn’t they know? On Dec 19, 2001, Alex Kirby had written “The populations of some common wild bird species in the UK are at their highest in more than a decade. Woodland birds and several rare species are also doing better than they have. [...] Scientists say mild winter weather helped many species“.

On the other hand, wasn’t it on Aug 12, 2000 that we were told that “the hunters say the drop in grouse populations during the past two years was mainly due to an unusually wet summer in 1998 and a mild winter in 1999“?

The overall impression is of course that few at the BBC (or amongst the esteemed scientists and various interviewees for several years) understand about the topic they are writing about, so they end up contributing to an absolutely confused mess where too much uncritical reporting demonstrates everything and its opposite.

If one waits long enough, literally anything will appear on the BBC News website on matters of climate.

ps Nature presenter Bill Oddie is reported on March 25, 2005 as saying “When I was a lad we had ‘proper’ winters and spring started in April. Now that seems a thing of the past“. I guess Mr Oddie must be happy by now, alongside a Herefordshire farmer who warned on Nov 11, 2006 of a shortage of blackcurrant squash and jam” linked to (of course!) mild winters.

Twitter Galore: Monbiot, Journalistic Distortions And Lack Of Excitement

A quick set of notes and links, mostly acquired via Twitter:

NB: all opinions expressed below in bold italic are mine, not necessarily the original author’s


AGWers as the unwitting enemies of science:

Seth Sicroff in “On crying “Himalayan Meltdown!!!”

For years, Ives has been warning that the habit of distortion and exaggeration was undermining both science and development. [...] Ives has not denied that deforestation, GLOFs, and glacial thinning are problems. He has simply argued that in many cases there is insufficient evidence to establish causalities and projections, and that the misidentification of a crisis or a pseudo-crisis as a supercrisis not only wastes limited resources but also undermines the credibility of science in general. And, coincidentally, Ives has repeatedly singled out Fred Pearce of the New Scientist as a purveyor of unsubstantiated mega-disaster scenarios. Well, those chickens have come home to roost.


Climate change is boring, boring, boring. More boring than scary:

Gregory M. Lamb, Christian Science Monitor / March 15, 2010 in “As Climate Change debate wages on, scientists turn to Hollywood for help

Today’s climate story is often framed as a sober warning, not as an exciting adventure. Some of that is by necessity. “It’s important for the public to know that scientists are coming across this evidence [of climate change] – it’s real evidence – that there may be some disagreements among the details but that doesn’t negate the entire picture,” Semper says. But the effort to better understanding earth’s climate is also exciting, a message that has been lost, he says. “The scientific questions are absolutely fascinating.”


Whose “malpractice”? Whose “lie”?

My comment to Coturnix – A Blog Around The Clock in “Science Journalism must-reads of the day

I find it really telling that of the people now decrying how badly the Daily Mail has reported Dr Jones’ statements, not even one was around when the very same Daily Mail fabricated a story on drowning polar bears.

Journalists able to denounce “malpractice” only when it collides with their beliefs are not showing much in the way of professionalism. They are part of the story and their reporting therefore all the less interesting in a journalistic sense.


No surprise here: cherry picking on polar bears…

MSNBC: “Arctic winners, losers tied to climate – Survey finds drop in wildlife closest to North Pole“, updated 5:36 p.m. ET March 17, 2010

On polar bears, the iconic species of the Arctic, the report only had numbers for the population in Canada’s western Hudson Bay: a decline from 1,200 in the mid-1980s to fewer than 900 in 2004.


Another year, another “save the environment” Polar expedition:

Scare, swim, struggles on Arctic trek – Track Eric Larsen’s expeditions to both poles and Everest


Meanwhile, in la-la-land….:

Shauna Marlette in “USD Forum Discusses Effects Of ‘Global Warming’

“What people need to remember is that weather is not climate,” Sweeney said during his presentation. “Weather is the current state of the atmosphere — hot or cold, wet or dry, calm or stormy. The weather of one year does not change the average conditions over time.”


A few voices of reason, even (amazingly!) from the AGW side:

Pete Geddes in “What’s Next for Climate Change?

Gwyn Prins, of the London School of Economics, who observes: “Worthwhile policy builds upon what we know works and upon what is feasible rather than trying to deploy never-before implemented policies through complex institutions requiring a hitherto unprecedented and never achieved degree of global political alignment.”


In case we needed further proof of complexity of climate response:

From, “Problems with the Permafrost?“, March 17, 2010

“It is unclear how permafrost will respond to a warmer climate: a recent discovery of ancient permafrost that survived several warm geological periods suggests that vegetation cover may help protect permafrost from climate warming…However, higher air temperature does not necessarily lead to higher soil temperature: it has been demonstrated that increases in air temperature sometimes lead to vegetation changes that offset the effect of air warming on soil temperature.”


Monbiot gets surrounded by skeptics of all sorts:

Jonathon Porritt in “The war of words over home-produced electricity feed-in tariffs could cost dearly

As one or two bloggers have already pointed out, if [Monbiot]’s got it this badly wrong on feed-in tariffs, what’s to say he hasn’t got it equally wrong on other critical issues?


Some people “get it” but only in part:

My comment to Matthew C. Nisbet’s Slate article “Chill Out – Climate scientists are getting a little too angry for their own good

There’s plenty of positives to be taken from Nisbet’s article but…why oh why couldn’t he complete his reasoning? What is the point of asking to get away from a “bunker mentality” and to create “a public dialogue on climate change” if Nisbet himself is stuck in the obsolete frame of mind of scientists being on one side, and skeptics on the other?

Never mind the silly idea of “skeptics” being at work to “erode the trust” in science. There are many that would say the opposite: it’s scandals like climategate and the bunker mentality of certain climate scientists, what really risks eroding the trust in science.

There are plenty of shades of grey in-between belief in the IPCC and complete skepticism of global warming, let alone anthropogenic global warming. Until those are recognized, first of all by people such as Mr Nisbet, I am afraid all we are going to get is further politicization.


And finally…AGW as a dumb green idea indeed:

Shea Gunther in “The danger of being hysterically green

We can’t waste our time on dumb green ideas. A green idea is dumb if it has no chance of really happening and just stands to turn off a lot of people to the cause when they hear it. An idea can have the best of intentions and ideals behind it and still be a dumb one, a lot of the times it’s the ones with the best of intentions and ideals that end up being the dumbest.

Plenty Of Questions About Sahil’s Kidnapping

There is very little that makes sense in Sahil Saeed’s kidnapping. The fact that he has been well treated and freed relatively quickly points towards one or more family friends or acquaintances as having been involved, up to a point obviously (otherwise the boy would have risked recognizing them).

The amount paid for a ransom is simply too little to justify a complex operation involving people in Pakistan and Spain, with some of them traveling to Paris. If the five arrested so far were all involved, plus another five or so in Pakistan including one person to take care of the boy, one family friend or acquaintance, plus three or more armed kidnappers,  we reach a total of 10 people, all risking giant jail sentences for £11,000 each.

For the same reason one can discount the possibility of some of the kidnappers being the same people arrested in France and Spain…at levels like those outlined above, even a £500 airline ticket becomes too heavy a cost, not to mention the Barcelona apartment.

If I were to let my imagination run wild, I would think of some kind of business vendetta against Sahil’s father. Let’s see how things evolve…

"Huge Puzzle…On A Planet Where We Thought We Know Everything"

NASA Finds Shrimp Beneath Antarctica Ice – 600 Feet Below Antarctic Ice Where Nothing Complex Should Live, NASA Catches A Curious Shrimp

Of course this will soon to be shown to mean scientists have grossly overestimated the amount of CO2 in the past, that it’s worse than we thought, and that climate change is pushing curious shrimps and foot-long jellyfish on the edge of extinction.

On The Brutality Of "Nature" – A Response To "Climate Of Fear"

(this has been sent to Nature via e-mail earlier today)

Dear Nature Editors

Thank you very much for showing your true, climate-integralist colours in the cringe-inducing “Climate of fear” editorial (Nature 464, 141 (11 March 2010) | doi :10.1038/464141a; Published online 10 March 2010).

We can’t but take notice that at the time when some scientists have apparently managed for years to keep non-orthodox climate science papers away from printed and online peer-reviewed journals, one of those very journals has remarkably decided to join the “street fight”, as if that represented any change for the better from the previous routine.

Go ahead then, pick up your worthy opponents. Will there be any good coming out of Nature becoming the home of motivational speeches for climate hooligans? What an undignified spectacle that would be. Luckily, the planet will not take much notice, and hopefully neither will the general public, and those scientists and people interested like us all in learning the world as it is, rather than through the distorting lenses of misdirected, alarmist activisms.

“Scientists must not be so naive as to assume that the data speak for themselves”. Indeed. Neither should they fall for the hubris of drowning and disregarding those very same data in a sea of pre-packaged ideologies. In Canto XXVI of Inferno in Dante’s Divine Comedy, the character of Ulysses is made to describe what the quest for knowledge should be about:

Ye were not form’d to live the life of brutes,

But virtue to pursue and knowledge high.

Too bad you have opted to “live the life of brutes” instead.

Teodoro Georgiadis – senior scientist – biometeorology
Luigi Mariani – professor – agrometeorology
Guido Guidi – meteorologist
Alessandra Nucci – journalist
Tore Cocco
Maurizio Morabito – blogger – Omniclimate

The Weakest Argument For Global Warming…

…is the one inanely repeated on the website of the San Francisco Chronicle by Dr Peter Gleick, “President, Pacific Institute“.

Those who deny that humans are causing unprecedented climate change have never, ever produced an alternative scientific argument that comes close to explaining the evidence we see around the world that the climate is changing

Gleick’s argument could be classified as a form of “weak thought“. However, the history of Science should have taught him better. For example, the same identical words could have been uttered for most of the 18th century about the now-rejected theory of phlogiston. There really was nothing better to explain why things would burn: and so the whole field of Chemistry was held back for a century by a false scientific theory.

Another highly risky and wholly wrong theory threatened to slow down the progress of Physics and Astronomy a hundred years later: luminiferous aether. We should just be thankful to Einstein for having got rid of it, but obviously by his time the vast majority of scientists did not believe in aether any longer despite the absence of “an alternative scientific argument” coming “close to explaining the evidence“.

Another issue with Gleick’s argument is that is says nothing at all about the gravity and urgency of the Global Warming issue: and that is exactly where the discussion is, among reasonable people that don’t want to follow extremists like Romm or Monckton.

“City Brights”? Only on a sunny day…

Arctic Sea Ice: What Good The Climate Models?

Fanfare on The Guardian’s “Fact are sacred” DataBlog for the publication of a graph-cum-spreadsheet about Arctic sea ice: “Scientists are fighting back over climate change. Get the data behind the latest battle – and see how we visualised it“. (*)

A major Met Office review of more than 100 scientific studies tracking the observed changes in the Earth’s climate system finds that it is an “increasingly remote possibility” that human activity is not the main cause of climate change


It’s just such a pity the figures provided don’t show much beyond scientists being vaguely able to devise models where Arctic sea ice decreases as it has been doing for a while (hardly the information you need to have a PhD to understand). Continue reading

Poor Overall Quality Of BBC Science Pages – Not Just Climate Change

Interesting to see Ben Goldacre (here and here) and then Paul Bradshaw (here) complain about the BBC’s “bizarre” policy of linking to “journal homepages, and university homepages” rather than to the actual article being discussed. Goldacre:

there are the many serious problems raised by linking to university homepages (eg and journal homepages, instead of specific research. They leave it completely ambiguous as to what piece of research was being described, often there is insufficient information in the news article to identify it, often time has passed and it is unclear what issue of the journal someone should be looking in

One of Bradshaw’s points might sound very familiar with people interested to understand climate change beyond the catastrophical rubbish so often mentioned as “science”:

Authoritative, accurate and attractive coverage relies at least in part in allowing users to point out issues with scientific research or its reporting

It is very unlikely the BBC will change its attitude…the Corporation is not built to correct itself based on readers’ comments. Still, people can vote with their mouse, and follow the lead of award-winning science writer Ed Yong (@edyong209):

Just unfollowed the BBC Science pages. What’s the point? Bland, linkless coverage. Times, Wired, NYT, Nature all far better.

Al Gore Suffers A Case Of Inconvenient Translation

Funny episode around the world’s preferred Oscar+Nobel AGWer…

As reported in a blog by Piero Vietti of Italian daily “Il Foglio, Al Gore’s NYT Op-ed about (not) wishing away climate change has been slightly “censored” when translated by Rome-based uberwarmist newspaper “La Repubblica. The problem? Most likely, excessive mysticism on the part of the former VP.

Here’s the original:

Their most consistent theme is to label as “socialist” any proposal to reform exploitive behavior in the marketplace. From the standpoint of governance, what is at stake is our ability to use the rule of law as an instrument of human redemption. After all has been said and so little done, the truth about the climate crisis — inconvenient as ever — must still be faced. The pathway to success is still open, though it tracks the outer boundary of what we are capable of doing.

This is the translation:

Il loro tema costante consiste nell’etichettare come “socialista” qualunque proposta di riformare i comportamenti basati sullo sfruttamento. La strada verso il successo è ancora aperta.

The translation corresponds roughly to the following text:

Their constant theme is to label as “socialist” any proposal to reform exploitive behaviors. The road to success is still open.

Perhaps, to left-leaning Italian readers of La Repubblica all calls for “human redemption” simply resonate too much as Papal exhortations. And some people still claim that AGW doesn’t look like a religion?

La Stazione Spaziale Internazionale Transita Su Londra Nella Costellazione di Orione

Questa e’ la Stazione Spaziale Internazionale che transita il 7 marzo verso le 19:00 tra le stelle Alnitak (a sinistra) e Alnilam (a destra) in Orione sopra Londra.

La ISS in Orione

La ISS in Orione

Sorprendentemente, e’ possibile fare queste riprese con macchine fotografiche poco costose, e tenute in mano.

Giorgio Napolitano, Un Uomo Solo Al Comando

Le reazioni al Salvaliste mi ricordano l’atmosfera che regnava in Europa alla vigilia della Prima Guerra Mondiale, con troppa gente che cerca attivamente e romanticamente la lotta (al giorno d’oggi e per il momento, non armata) invece di interessarsi a cosa stia effettivamente accadendo.

Nel frattempo, come qualcuno fra i meno esagitati potra’ cerca di notare, fra le righe scritte dal Presidente della Repubblica in risposta a “due cittadini” c’e’ un bel rimbrotto all’intransigenza del PD, che ha impedito una soluzione politica condivisa che magari sarebbe stata diversa e migliore del Salvaliste:

sappiamo quanto risultino difficili accordi tra governo, maggioranza e opposizioni anche in casi particolarmente delicati come questo e ancor più in clima elettorale: difficili per tendenze all’autosufficienza e scelte unilaterali da una parte, e per diffidenze di fondo e indisponibilità dall’altra parte

Come al solito insomma per questioni elettorali molto meschine e’ stato deciso di lasciare il PdR da solo a trattare con Berlusconi. Ormai Giorgio avra’ capito chi sono i suoi amici, proverbialmente sempre presenti. Anche e soprattutto nel momento del bisogno.

Mentre allora attendo che qualche fine costituzionalista spieghi a questo povero ignorante e sventurato cosa ci sia di così orrendo nel Salvaliste, mi chiedo:

  1. Che differenza di sostanza ci sarebbe stata nelle modalità di compilazione, pubblicazione e attuazione se si fosse scelta la via del rinvio delle elezioni?
  2. Cosa avrebbe dovuto argomentare il Presidente della Repubblica nel respingere questa soluzione?
  3. Quanti italiani capiranno di cosa si parla, e quanti invece seguiranno senza pensarci pericolosi urlatori alla Di Pietro, il cui richiamo alle forze armate evidentemente a qualcuno è piaciuto?
  4. Fare ulteriore confusione servirà a qualcos’altro che a polarizzare l’elettorato (ne sarà contento Formigoni, e la Polverini)?
  5. Perché il comma 2 del Salvaliste non puo’ essere utilizzato per fare piazza pulita da ora in poi delle regolette e regolacce insensate e di derivazione franco-sabauda, come la storia dei timbri tondi e quadrati, e non solo in materie elettorali?
  6. Siamo sicuri che sia…democratico decidere del Primato della Legge sulla Democrazia? Davvero la Repubblica sarebbe più solida se nella Regione più ricca e popolosa il Partito di maggioranza non fosse nelle schede elettorali, considerato anche che la alternativa (il rinvio) avrebbe permesso a Formigoni e i Premi Nobel che gli hanno raccolto le firme di presentarsi comunque?

Yes, The News Media Can Only See Alarmism

Andy @Revkin and others (here and here) note with John Fleck of inkstain that

Fleckstain: Media skip Science paper on energy solutions while hyping 1 on Arctic CH4. Problems hotter than solutions?

I do not think so. Simply, it’s all been Allcott’s and Mullainathan’s (the original authors’) fault. In fact, this is what they wrote:

Just as we use R&D to develop “hard science” into useful technological solutions, a similar process can be used to develop basic behavioral science into large-scale business and policy innovations. Cost-effectiveness can be rigorously measured using scientific field-testing. Recent examples of scaling behaviorally informed R&D into large energy conservation programs suggest that this could have very high returns.

And this is what they should have written instead:

It might be one of the most ominous bits of evidence yet that global warming could run out of control. Unless we use R&D to develop basic behavioral science into large-scale business and policy innovations, the most-feared potential self-reinforcing effects of climate change may be starting to get under way. Recent examples of scaling behaviorally informed R&D into large energy conservation programs suggest that this could have very high returns. Otherwise, the effects of climate change will persist becoming evident faster than anyone predicted.

(click here for the original alarmism)

Obviously, Climategate notwithstanding, an enormous percentage of newsmedia people still firmly believe only titillating stories about upcoming disasters will ever attract the interest of their readers. I have a feeling that’s the kind of newsmedia most likely to go the way of the dodo, at least regarding scientific journalism.

The Climate Article The New York Times Editors Did Not Want You To See

As reported here on March 2, there has been a very unique phenomenon at the International Herald Tribune (IHT) / The New York Times (NYT): for the first time ever, an IHT printed-paper article was not immediately available in the NYT website. And a front-page article it was: “Feeling the heat from critics, climate scientists battle back“, by John M Broder.

The article finally appeared online in the early AM GMT hour of 3 March, titled “Scientists Taking Steps to Defend Work on Climate“. Tellingly, the structure has been heavily changed, and the interviewees as well. I have had a series of e-mail exchanges with Mr Broder today and won’t report any of them. The impression remains that some Editor at the NYT panicked (**) after reading the IHT version, and got Mr Broder or some sub-editor to rewrite it almost from scratch to eliminate some inconvenient names and acquire warmist respectability by giving the concluding remarks to Gavin Schmidt (*).

All in all, it has been an episode wholly consistent with an atmosphere of climate bullying at the NYT.

I have scanned the IHT article and here it is in 2 parts:

JMBroder - Feeling the Heat, IHT 2010/3/2 part 1

JMBroder - Feeling the Heat, IHT 2010/3/2 page 1


JMBroder - Feeling the Heat, IHT 2010/3/2 page 8

For an example of what has been changed, note the mysterious disappearance of Judith Curry from the NYT version (Prof Curry is out there to conclude the IHT article), whilst a Peter C. Frumhoff of the Union of Concerned Scientists, plus Gavin Schmidt, are parachuted in literally out of thin air.

ps Gavin being Gavin, he’s now quotable with a “Good science is the best revenge“, some sort of instinctive plagiarism of Willis’ exhortation a few days earlier: “Do good science, and publicly insist that other climate scientists do good science as well

(*) see also WUWT “Willis makes the NYT, Gavin to stop “persuading the public”” and Willis Eschenbach’s generally positive comment to Broder’s NYT piece

(**) In fact, see what kind of mess they made of the NYT website around the same time8-)

UPDATE March 7: To be 100% clear, this is how I see things have happened:

1. After weeks of deafening silence on Climategate and derivatives, Mr Broder got commissioned to write finally an article about it, once enough “scientists fighting back” quotes could be summoned

2. Mr Broder wrote his piece (version “A”) on Monday AM EST but felt it necessary to include things at they stand, including Judith Curry’s “fiasco” remarks

3. Version “A” passed all editorial checks and by Monday noon was singled out for importance and relevance as one of the front-page stories for the IHT

4. Somebody above the Editors did not like it, likely because there was no quote from GISS. Monday evening word came down to change the article.

5. It was too late for the IHT and therefore I saw version “A” printed there.

6. But it was early enough for the web so version “A” did not show up there at all

7. Mr Broder was asked on Tuesday AM to talk to Schmidt and the other guy

8. A sub-editor changed version “A” to version “B” eliminating the inconvenient pieces, moving things around and adding what was wanted, including the “good science is the best revenge” dramatic quote at the end

9. Alas, it took a while to do all that, so version “B” appeared on the NYT website only very, very late on Tuesday evening.

Moisture And Precipitations: Not Just Al Gore

Whilst Al Gore’s latest “whopper”

scientists have long pointed out that warmer global temperatures have been increasing the rate of evaporation from the oceans, putting significantly more moisture into the atmosphere — thus causing heavier downfalls of both rain and snow in particular regions, including the Northeastern United States

is being widely and rightly criticized, let me point to a video making similar yet wider claims.

At 8:45 one can hear the following: “with more moisture in the atmosphere due to warming, precipitation events are getting more extreme” (“both in Northern and Tropical areas“)

Could anybody please provide references for “more moisture in the atmosphere” and “precipitation events are getting more extreme“? The video is praised by Romm and SkepticalScience, and I have asked for those references there as well.

IPCC, South Dakota And Astrological Retaliation (Who Let The Pols In?)

Much is being said about the incredibly innovative use of the English language (ha!) by South Dakota legislators, and especially the now-famous mention of “astrological…dynamics that can effect world weather phenomena” (I know, should have been “can affect”).

Politicians trying to legislate science, what a dumb idea, uh. Why, I am sure no serious scientist would advocate for scientific phenomena to be established by a United Nations Framework Convention.

And who could even imagine the horror of letting a whole field’s situation be assessed by a scientific body directly reporting to Governments

Watch Out For Self-Censorship At The New York Times

There is an article by John M Broder in the first page of the International Herald Tribune today, that is mysteriously nowhere to be found on their website (the New York Times’). This is very unusual as the IHT normally prints stuff that has already appeared on the NYT a day or two before, and has already been on the website for several hours.

The article’s printed-version title is “Feeling the heat from critics, climate scientists battle back“.

The situation is consistent with the existence of an internal NYT web “climate censorship” office, that has simply not cleared as yet an article that is highly sincere and open about the IPCC/climategate travails and contains remarks (by non-skeptics) that are highly critical of climate science and climate scientists.

I’ll keep an eye on the developments.

UPDATE March 3 00:18 GMT: Article still MIA, have sent an e-mail to Broder and the IHT.

UPDATE March 3 07:50 GMT:There is now an article by Mr Broder available. I cannot believe what they have done. Here’s my comment to it:

This is a shameful day for the New York Times. Mr Broder’s article is fundamentally different from…Mr Broder’s article on the same topic as it appeared in the printed edition of the International Herald Tribune on March 2, 2010. Gavin Schmidt for example has replaced Judith Curry, and the overall tone has changed to become definitely more ‘friendly’ for the warmists. Now I understand why for the first time ever, an article has been printed long before it appeared on this website.

COMUNICATO di Raffaele Fantetti (1 Marzo 2010)

(ricevo e rimando)

Come è facile immaginare, da quando è scoppiato il caso Di Girolamo, sia io che i miei legali siamo tempestati di richieste di interviste. Mi è parso opportuno non parlare fino alla conclusione della vicenda. Ritengo, però, di rispondere ad alcuni articoli che mi riguardano e riportano diverse inesattezze tendendo a dare un messaggio non condivisibile.

Si dice che lavoro come funzionario a Roma del Ministero dello Sviluppo Economico, ex Commercio Estero. In realtà -come appare sul mio sito ( sono un esperto ex Legge 56/2005 con contratto a tempo determinato, selezionato in base al superamento di un concorso pubblico per l’implementazione dei c.d. “sportelli unici” all’estero al quale ho concorso come residente all’estero. Quella dell’istituzione degli sportelli unici fu una brillante intuizione dell’allora Ministro Urso, portata avanti ed approvata dal precedente Governo Berlusconi ma la cui implementazione è stata molto osteggiata e procede a rilento

Nelle more della destinazione istituzionale all’estero, ho proceduto ad un commuting regolare tra l’Italia ed il Regno Unito (Londra, dove ho dimora, residenza e dove sono emigrato nel 1992). Ho debitamente segnalato la cosa alle autorità sia italiane che inglesi. Da un punto di vista fiscale, non mi avvalgo del Trattato contro la doppia imposizione. In passato, durante la mia esperienza professionale a Washington DC, mi ero comportato nello stesso modo, segnalando il tutto alle autorità competenti ed operando un commuting regolare tra affetti e lavori al di qua ed al di là dell’Atlantico.

Noi giovani Italiani della cosiddetta “NEP: Nuova Emigrazione Professionale” (espressione di cui rivendico la paternità per averla coniata in un convegno pubblico sulla materia organizzato dal giornale “Pensiero Londinese” presso l’Istituto Italiano di Cultura a Londra molti anni prima che la legge 459/2001 fosse approvata), siamo così. Costretti ad uscire dal Paese a causa dell’imperante gerontocrazia e mancanza di meritocrazia, cerchiamo lavoro e/o un lavoro migliore altrove e giriamo di continuo. Io sono stato in Belgio e Francia prima di approdare sulle bianche scogliere di Dover e non ho proceduto a cambiare ogni volta i termini della mia iscrizione AIRE: poi ho anche scoperto che non ne ero tenuto (ex art.1, comma 8, Lg. 470/1988).

Da anni, l’ottimo rapporto “Italiani nel Mondo” della Fondazione Migrantes conferma che la maggioranza degli iscritti all’AIRE, specie in Europa, ha meno di 40 anni e ciò non fa che confermare la nostra intuizione dei primi anni Novanta.
Leggete le varie rubriche degli Italians su Internet per farvi un’idea di chi sono e di come vivono in giro per il mondo. Ritengo che la mia storia, nel suo piccolo, sia significativa di tali attualità. In Italia non avevo sbocchi nonostante un ottimo curriculum di studi.
Ho sempre diviso il mio tempo professionale tra le tematiche dell’internazionalizzazione delle imprese italiane e quelle degli Italiani all’estero (queste ultime mai dietro compenso): per questo sono ben conosciuto in entrambi gli ambiti.

In tempi non sospetti mi sono iscritto a Forza Italia, poi ho fondato il Circolo della Libertà U.K. (io vice e Presidente l’amico ingegner Bertali di AN): ora collaboro -sempre su base volontaria- con il Settore Italiani nel Mondo del PDL e ho contribuito a diverse manifestazioni nel Regno Unito (tra cui la famosa consegna di lettere di protesta ai Direttori Responsabili del “Financial Times” e del “Times” per articoli infamanti contro l’Italia ed il Governo da loro pubblicati), in Svizzera, Germania e Rep. Ceca.

Vado fiero del mio risultato elettorale (oltre 20.400 preferenze) che è tutto voto di opinione.
Non mi sono sposato “nell’abbazia di Westminster” … grazie ai buoni uffici del mio parroco oggi vescovo ausiliario di Roma Sud”. Mi sono sposato nella cattedrale con due officianti, il parroco locale ed il mio parroco di Roma. Non sono rappresentante del Registro Navale di Dominica: lo sono stato per circa tre mesi nel 2005. Sono arrivato ottantasettesimo su 500 alla prova di selezione di un concorso pubblico per dirigente del commercio internazionale che non prevedeva neanche un esame di lingua estera. L’anonimo dirigente del Ministero ha fatto molta confusione. Nutro stima e gratitudine per l’intero team di giovani legali (Giovanna Mazza, Antonio Labate e Alessandro Tozzi) che mi ha assistito nelle lunghe e complesse fasi del ricorso al Senato.

Potrei continuare con le precisazioni ma credo che, data la situazione, non sia il caso. Dico solo che negli ultimi mesi sono stato oggetto di diversi scriteriati ed infondati attacchi da parte di anonimi su Internet e che per questo abbiamo presentato istanze di querela per diffamazione alla competente polizia postale.

Raffaele Fantetti

Climate Activist: AGW Campaigners "Complicit" in Political "Deceit"?

George Marshall is definitely not your average AGW skeptic. His blog is titled “Climate Change Denial” (albeit in the psychopatological sense, rather than Nazi). And yet, his Dec 18, 2009, blog post is painfully open about what happened during COP15, and in general, what is happening to the whole AGW movement:

the official negotiations invariably take place behind closed doors, and the real negotiations – the ones required for the self-serving compromise that will appear magically in the very last hour – take place in hotel rooms. Our presence as invited delegates from civil society makes us complicit in this deceit

the NGOs replicate the same inequalities as the larger process- the key decisions are made by a small clique of white specialists and presented to the unconsulted global representatives in the audience

Outside society may be permitted to speak in the streets around the conference- albeit in a suitably stage managed and marginal fashion – but the conference has absolutely no interest in how it speaks back.

these conferences occur in a constructed reality of concerned global citizenship and have no comprehension that the future of the world’s climate depends on winning over the voters of Oklahoma.

And so, looking back on Copenhagen, I have to ask: who were all those banners, posters, photo exhibits, polar bears, melting ice statues, video installations really talking to? Did they persuade the doubting heartlands that this was their issue, or did they reinforce the widespread suspicion that this is an inward looking and irrelevant faith? And why are we too absorbed by the pilgrimage to ever ask this question?

Pointy-haired Climate Modeling (feat. Bonus Vintage Fred Pearce)

From Real Climate’s “FAQ on climate models“:

Multi-model Ensemble – a set of simulations from multiple models. Surprisingly, an average over these simulations gives a better match to climatological observations than any single model

And here’s the Dilbert strip of May 7, 2008:

Of course.


Here’s another attempt at linking Dilbert to the climate change debate. And of course Scott Adams is not exactly your average RC fan.


And now for the “Bonus Vintage Fred Pearce”, from a May 16, 2007 New Scientist article linked by Adams and penned by…Fred Pearce: “Climate myths: We can’t trust computer models

Finally, the claim is sometimes made that if computer models were any good, people would be using them to predict the stock market. Well, they are!

A lot of trading in the financial markets is already carried out by computers. Many base their decisions on fairly simple algorithms designed to exploit tiny profit margins, but others rely on more sophisticated long-term models.

Major financial institutions are investing huge amounts in automated trading systems, the proportion of trading carried out by computers is growing rapidly and a few individuals have made a fortune from them. The smart money is being bet on computer models.

Smart money indeed.

Support Judith Curry As Head Of (Reformed) IPCC

A veritable goldmine of quotes, and surely the best hope for the progress of science this side of Murray Gell-Mann. Let’s celebrate this essay by Georgia Tech’s Judith Curry: “On the Credibility of Climate Research, Part II: Towards Rebuilding Trust“.

I have a strong feeling that anybody else selected to carry forward the (reformed) IPCC will look far lesser capable than Prof Curry.

(Pachauri who?)

Some extracts:

Losing the Public’s Trust

  • In responding to climategate, the climate research establishment has appealed to its own authority and failed to understand that climategate is primarily a crisis of trust.
  • expertise itself is not a sufficient basis for public trust.
  • host of concerns about the IPCC [...]: involvement of IPCC scientists in explicit climate policy advocacy; tribalism that excluded skeptics; hubris of scientists with regards to a noble (Nobel) cause; alarmism; and inadequate attention to the statistics of uncertainty and the complexity of alternative interpretations.
  • The jury is still out on the specific fallout from climategate in terms of the historical and paleo temperature records.
  • concerns [...] with Working Group II:  has a combination of groupthink, political advocacy and a noble cause syndrome stifled scientific debate, slowed down scientific progress and corrupted the assessment process?
  • when your science receives this kind of attention, it means that the science is really important to the public.  Therefore scientists need to do everything possible to make sure that they effectively communicate uncertainty, risk, probability and complexity, and provide a context that includes alternative and competing scientific viewpoints.

The Changing Nature of Skepticism about Global Warming

  • I have come to understand that global warming skepticism is very different now than it was five years ago.
  • [After the IPCC 4th Assessment Report] big oil funding for contrary views mostly dried up and the mainstream media supported the IPCC consensus. But there was a new movement in the blogosphere, which I refer to as the “climate auditors”, started by Steve McIntyre.  The climate change establishment failed to understand this changing dynamic, and continued to blame skepticism on the denial machine funded by big oil.

Climate Auditors and the Blogosphere

  • So who are the climate auditors?  They are technically educated people, mostly outside of academia.  Several individuals have developed substantial expertise in aspects of climate science, although they mainly audit rather than produce original scientific research. They tend to be watchdogs rather than deniers; many of them classify themselves as “lukewarmers”. They are independent of oil industry influence.  They have found a collective voice in the blogosphere and their posts are often picked up by the mainstream media. They are demanding greater accountability and transparency of climate research and assessment reports.
  • So how did this group of bloggers succeed in bringing the climate establishment to its knees (whether or not the climate establishment realizes yet that this has happened)?  Again, trust plays a big role [...] the climate auditors have no apparent political agenda, are doing this work for free, and have been playing a watchdog role, which has engendered the trust of a large segment of the population.

Towards Rebuilding Trust

  • People have heard the alarm, but they remain unconvinced because of a perceived political agenda and lack of trust of the message and the messengers. At the same time, there is a large group of educated and evidence driven people (e.g. the libertarians, people that read the technical skeptic blogs, not to mention policy makers) who want to understand the risk and uncertainties associated with climate change, without being told what kinds of policies they should be supporting.
  • building trust through public communication on this topic requires that uncertainty be acknowledged.
  • discussing the uncertainties increases the public trust in what scientists are trying to convey and doesn’t detract from the receptivity to understanding climate change risks
  • Trust can also be rebuilt by discussing broad choices rather than focusing on specific policies.
  • And finally, the blogosphere can be a very powerful tool for increasing the credibility of climate research.  “Dueling blogs”  (e.g. versus and versus can actually enhance public trust in the science as they see both sides of the arguments being discussed.  Debating science with skeptics should be the spice of academic life
  • I have certainly learned a lot by participating in the blogospheric debate including how to sharpen my thinking and improve the rhetoric of my arguments.
  • we need to acknowledge the emerging auditing and open source movements in the in the internet-enabled world, and put them to productive use.  The openness and democratization of knowledge enabled by the internet can be a tremendous tool for building public understanding of climate science and also trust in climate research.
  • No one really believes that the “science is settled” or that “the debate is over.”  Scientists and others that say this seem to want to advance a particular agenda.  There is nothing more detrimental to public trust than such statements.

Scientific Journalism Is Moribund, Dead, Perhaps Alive

(thanks to Bill Clement for inspiring the gist of this blog)

In hindsight, it should have been clear long ago. It wasn’t going to be pretty, nor it could have been. On one side, journalists with the vaguest notions of the scientific method, mostly convinced that science is what a scientist does (need to remember Piero Manzoni, anybody?).

On the other side, a number of determined bloggers “that have made themselves experts in general climate science (in the words of Roger Harrabin), “ordinary people [who] can say [to scientists] ‘look, you said this, you said that, the two don’t match, explain yourself’” (in the words of Richard North).

Of course, it was going to be carnage. The journalists would not and could not survive the confrontation by any stretch of imagination. And so they didn’t. As noted by Matt Ridley in The Spectator:

It was not Private Eye, or the BBC or the News of the World, but a retired electrical engineer in Northampton, David Holland, whose freedom-of-information requests caused the Climategate scientists to break the law, according to the Information Commissioner. By contrast, it has so far attracted little attention that the leaked emails of Climategate include messages from reporters obsequiously seeking ammunition against the sceptics. Other emails have shown reporters meekly changing headlines to suit green activists, or being threatened with ostracism for even reporting the existence of a sceptical angle

As far as the average skeptical blogger is concerned, scientific journalism in matters of climate should be considered dying if not dead, only a place where to find nice but wholly un-necessary confirmation of one’s doubts. Or should it?

The underlying problem is suggested by Roger Harrabin in the same radio debate mentioned above:

What’s been difficult for people reporting mainstream debate in the past has been that what we would call our trusted sources of science, people like the Royal Society and the various other corollary bodies in different countries, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change set up to be the touchstone of probity on this issue, they have been the providers of news and the people who have been doubting these news have generally speaking not been academics, I am on the trawl for academics at the moment in British universities there are hardly any and there have been doubters from other quarters and it’s been very difficult for us to tell what are the credentials when all these establishment voices are lined up on one side, how can we put them against a blogger on the other side that might happen to be a blogger who has for the past 15 years spent 100 hundred hours on the Internet reading climate science and has a good knowledge but we don’t know how to test this

Note the choice of words…”our trusted sources of science“, “the providers of news“…these are the words of somebody with the mindset of being an information broker between “the scientists” and “the general public”. It is a way of seeing “scientific journalism” as some kind of translation service, from the high-brow vocabulary of the scientists to the simpleton’s expressions even the most empty-headed Joe Public might understand.

Obviously, such a mindset leaves no space at all to a critical analysis of what the scientists say: because “how can we put them against a blogger [whose knowledge] we don’t know how to test“. Harrabin might be more right on this than he is ever likely to wish: after all, as commented by Bill:

The Press, too, have few within their ranks with a genuine science background. The result – regurgitation (syndication) of the few articles written

Mind you, journalists might not see that as an issue. It all depends on what “journalism” is meant to be. Here’s how award-winning science writer Ed Yong recommends scientists to approach interviews:

[The journalists'] job is not to grill you with hard questions – it’s to find The Story and get you to say something interesting. Your job, interestingly enough, is not to answer their questions to the letter, but to get your message across and to do so in an interesting way. Note the compatibility between these two goals.

The easiest way to mutually assured victory is to get your message across in a way that’s interesting enough that you practically hand them The Story on a plate. Journalism is a game but it’s not a zero-sum one. You and the journalist are not vicious gladiatorial opponents; you are engaging in a collaborative venture and treating it as such will help you get more out of it.

The (skeptical) bloggers write about their quest for Truth. The journalists write instead about…”The Story“. Has “The Story” got any relationship with Truth? Who knows, and does anybody care? (hey…some editors go all the way and get rid of reporters trying to find out what the Truth is…).

Just as “The Story” on climate was the overwhelming consensus in 2009, it is now the overwhelming amount of evidence indicating the IPCC documents have been biased in a miriad of ways towards reporting exactly what the paymasters/Governments wanted them to report.

Kudos to all journalists following the new “Story” but don’t expect their articles to become the new WUWT or EU Referendum. They can not: check the somehow inadvertently comical situation described by Ivan Oranski, executive editor of Reuters Health, on how to choose one’s sources. It looks like Mr Oranski has been around the block quite a few times, so to speak. He even recommends “to always read papers you’re reporting on, instead of relying solely on press releases” (no sh*t!). But not even once Mr Oranski dares thinking he could use himself, his ongoing knowledge of the topic, his ability to cross-reference findings throughout the mountains of scientific papers he has read.

The above suggests “scientific journalism” is still a long, long way from getting in the same league as, say, political journalistic analysis of internal or foreign affairs, where a healthy skepticism of politicians’ statements is nowadays a matter of course. One suspects, too many “scientific journalists” haven’t had their Cronkite moment as yet. But there is hope. Here’s an example of a scientific journalist actually using his brains, however briefly (Nicholas Wade, “Ancient Man in Greenland Has Genome Decoded“, The New York Times Feb 10, 2010):

Perhaps reflecting the so far somewhat limited reach of personal genomics, the researchers note that the ancient Greenlander was at risk for baldness, a surprising assessment given that all that remains of him is his hair

Ed Yong seems also more open than most to the new challenges of the present:

There is rampant churnalism, a dearth of fact-checking, misguided attempts at balance at the cost of accuracy. On the other hand, there is plenty of work from non-traditional sources that does espouse these values, including the writings of many freelance science writers and working scientists (and many of the so-called elements of journalism are elements of good scientific practice too).

If you play out this taxonomic game, you quickly see that many people who ostensibly work in science journalism produce work that is nothing of the sort. Likewise, amateurs who wouldn’t classify themselves as science journalists, actually ought to count.

Journalists are even waking up to the extraordinary amount of news they can produce from “inspirations” found in blogs and other forms of online social media. One interesting lead fresh out of the AAAS 2010 meeting: some scientists still don’t get it (will they ever), others understand they need new ways of thinking in order to explain themselves to the outside world.

And of course there is one reliable anchor that hasn’t been much affected by all of this: the minute group of scientific journalists that have actually been scientists themselves, know how scientific publications work, and can read and critique a scientific article on their own, if need be. I am talking about people like journalism-award-winning academic David Whitehouse.

No prize to guess what Dr Whitehouse thinks of climate alarmism.

(many thanks to @TheGreenDemon and @ThisIsTrue for sharing some of the links above)

“Spero che questa situazione si risolva nel migliore dei modi”

Italiani all’estero, Caso Di Girolamo: gli eletti oltre confine a colloquio con ItaliachiamaItalia – di Francesca Toscano

Diplomatica la reazione del deputato del PDL, Guglielmo Picchi, che in attesa che la magistratura faccia il suo corso, per il momento si limita a dire: “Spero che questa situazione si risolva nel migliore dei modi