Disturbing research about the use of “narratives” in climate science papers

Here’s a reblog of a fantastic Fabius Maximus post about a recently published scientific paper confirming what I have suspected for a long time: that narrative-style writing increases, in the realm of climate science (an especially important point), scientific papers’ (and thus their authors’) influence. This is very important to consider when discussing this issue, because it is corrupting climate science research. We’ve seen this happen time and time again. For example, a paper was published earlier in Nature this year claiming earth system sensitivity (similar to climate sensitivity) was 9 degrees Celsius, in the range of 7 to 13 degrees Celsius, and that because of the CO2 humanity has already put in the atmosphere, earth is locked into 3 to 7 degrees Celsius of warming. This was outlandish, as even the mainstream scientific community and media recognized. But it was published in perhaps the most prestigious scientific journal in the world. Why? I would say that it was because it was written in a narrative style, and I would also add that this narrative style probably actually increased the paper’s influence! This ties right in to what this paper has so importantly noted.

Watts Up With That?

By Larry Kummer. Posted at the Fabius Maximus website.

Summary: A new paper provides valuable information about climate science — evidence of the politicization that helped collapse the public policy debate. The authors conclude that narratives are “used to positive effect” in peer-reviewed papers. It puts science on the slippery slope to becoming propaganda (or, in today’s jargon, “fake news”). Scientists can achieve career success but destroy the public’s esteem for science accumulated over centuries.

Narrative Style Influences Citation Frequency in Climate Change Science
By Ann Hillier, Ryan P. Kelly, and Terrie Klinger.
PLOS ONE, 15 December 2016.
Excerpt. Red emphasis added.

“Climate change is among the most compelling issues now confronting science and society, and climate science as a research endeavor has grown accordingly over the past decade. The number of scholarly publications is increasing exponentially, doubling every 5±6 years. The volume of climate science publications…

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Roger Pielke Jr.: My unhappy life as a climate heretic 

Here’s Dr. Roger Pielke Jr., climate realist extraordinaire, excellent as always, writing in the Wall Street Journal about the previously documented organized campaign to discredit him. It’s certainly worth a read, and I applaud Dr. Pielke for his courage and steadfast devotion to communicating climate science accurately and clearly.

Tallbloke's Talkshop

Tropical storm [image credit: BBC] Tropical storm [image credit: BBC]
Despite being what might be termed a ‘lukewarmer’, this professor has been a target of climate fanatics for a long time for pointing out a few inconvenient truths they would prefer the public not to hear, as the Wall Street Journal reports. Now with a new US President on the way he has chosen to speak out about his unfair treatment.
H/T GWPF

My research was attacked by thought police in journalism, activist groups funded by billionaires and even the White House. Much to my surprise, I showed up in the WikiLeaks releases before the election.

In a 2014 email, a staffer at the Center for American Progress, founded by John Podesta in 2003, took credit for a campaign to have me eliminated as a writer for Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight website.

In the email, the editor of the think tank’s climate blog bragged to one of its billionaire…

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A highlight of recent research supporting the climate realist perspective #12

I have come across many scientific papers published the past calendar year which support the climate realist perspective, and thought them of such significance that I should share them here, in my climate realist paper update series of blog posts. However, I have not gotten around to sharing them. So, I am setting out to share with you as much climate realist research that has been published this year as I can, because what I have shared so far is only a fraction of all the papers that I am sitting on that are significant enough to be shared. Be prepared-there will be more posts like this coming yet, with both older and newer papers from this year, and hopefully I will be able to turn out these posts in quick succession.

First is How Has Human-Induced Climate Change Affected California Drought Risk?. It argues that, contrary to popular belief, human-caused climate change actually made California’s current drought less likely, and that the current devastating impacts of the drought are not a consequence of long-term climate change. This is great news, and even if, as other studies claim, humans have made California’s drought worse, it’s likely that the drought was overwhelmingly caused by natural variability.

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A graph of the hydroclimatic variability of the American West since 800. From The Mercury News.

Second is What caused the recent “Warm Arctic, Cold Continents” trend pattern in winter temperatures?. It argues that recent ice loss in the Arctic did not cause, as some have suggested, the recent cooling trend in midlatitude winter temperatures, that this cooling trend is the result of natural variability, and further, that Arctic sea ice loss actually reduces variability in temperatures and risk of cold extremes, corroborating other research highlighted here (also see below), and dealing a further blow to the theory linking Arctic sea ice loss to extreme weather (particularly extreme cold) in the midlatitudes.

Third is Future Arctic sea ice loss reduces severity of cold air outbreaks in midlatitudes. It argues, similarly to the above paper, that retreating Arctic sea ice does not increase severity and/or frequency of cold air outbreaks in the midlatitudies, but instead actually decreases their severity. This is great news, since reduced midlatitude winter cold outbreak severity would lead to less deaths from cold, and it deals yet a further blow to the theory linking Arctic sea ice loss to extreme weather (particularly extreme cold) in the midlatitudes.

Wikileaks and Me

Here’s Dr. Roger Pielke Jr.’s excellent response to what WikiLeaks email dumps reveal as an organized campaign to discredit him, despite his statements and views being supported by the scientific peer-reviewed literature. The campaign was successful, and Dr. Pielke has since stopped studying and writing about climate change and was subject to an investigation from Congress. It’s a very sad day for both politics and science.

I apologize for the lack of posting recently, but hopefully I will be able to pick it up soon.

Roger Pielke Jr.

I haven’t had a chance to update this blog with anything related to the surprise (to me at least) at finding myself the subject of an email in the John Podesta email leaks from Wikileaks. That email revealed that an organization that was fouinded and led by Podesta, the Center for American Progress, engaged in a successful effort to have me removed as a writer at 538, the “data journalism” site created by Nate Silver.

The Boulder Daily Camera has a very good series of articles about the revelation that there was an organized political effort against me.

The multi-year campaign against me by CAP was partially funded by billionaire Tom Steyer, and involved 7 writers at CAP who collectively wrote more than 160 articles about me, trashing my work…

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A highlight of recent research supporting the climate realist perspective #11

As I mentioned in my last post, I have come across many scientific papers published the past calendar year which support the climate realist perspective, and thought them of such significance that I should share them here, in my climate realist paper update series of blog posts. However, I have not gotten around to sharing them. So, I am setting out to share with you as much climate realist research that has been published this year as I can, because what I have shared so far is only a fraction of all the papers that I am sitting on that are significant enough to be shared. Be prepared-there will be more posts like this coming yet, with both older and newer papers from this year, and hopefully I will be able to turn out these posts in quick succession.

First is Modelling coffee leaf rust risk in Colombia with climate reanalysis data (press release here). It finds that climate change will not actually promote a fungal disease which decimates coffee crops, as has been feared. This is great news, since it means that poor countries which produce coffee can reduce their fears of a global warming-induced devastation of coffee crops.

Second is The Resolution Dependence of Contiguous U.S. Precipitation Extremes in Response to CO2 Forcing. It argues that there is no evidence for extreme precipitation changes attributable to climate change in the United States, at least in recent times. This is great news, since climate change is usually associated with more frequent and heavy extreme precipitaiton, and despite its highly controversial nature, other research seems to corroborate the view that the hydrological cycle’s link to increased CO2 is not quite as straightforward as some would have us believe (also see below).

Third is Characterizing Recent Trends in U.S. Heavy Precipitation. It argues that recent increases in heavy daily precipitation can be attributed largely to natural oceanic variability, with anthropogenic forcing playing only a limited role. This is great news, and is especially interesting in light of the research highlighted above, further supporting the climtate realist view that while anthropogenic-induced climate change will alter the hydrological cycle, the current paradigm of simple intesification and increase of extremes is a gross oversimplification.

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A geographical representation of trends in United States flooding. Note the lack of any coherent trend. From Archfield et al. 2016.

 

 

A highlight of recent research supporting the climate realist perspective #10

I have come across many scientific papers published these past two calendar years which support the climate realist perspective, and thought them of such significance that I should share them here, in my climate realist paper update series of blog posts. However, I have not gotten around to sharing them. So, I am setting out to share with you as much climate realist research that has been published this year as I can, because what I have shared so far is only a fraction of all the papers that I am sitting on that are significant enough to be shared. Be prepared-there will be more posts like this coming yet, with both older and newer papers from this year, and hopefully I will be able to turn out these posts in quick succession.

Please also note that I am constantly working to improve this blog; it is under construction, as the header says. So this will mean that old posts and resources are subject to change, but for the better.

First is Elevated CO2 maintains grassland net carbon uptake under a future heat and drought extreme (press release here). As mentioned above, this paper, as with some others, is quite old by this post series’ standards, but it’s highly important, and worth sharing. It finds that the beneficial effects of rising CO2 on plants, during future projected extreme climatic events (such as heatwaves), outweighs the negative effects of such extreme climatic events on net carbon uptake. This is great news, since it implies a negative feedback, because increased carbon uptake from the atmosphere means more plant growth and less carbon in the air, so less warming. This research is in stark contrast to some research projecting carbon uptake decreases with warming, but some other research casts doubts on fears over a strong positive feedback from carbon uptake decreases as well.

Second is Increasing Winter Precipitation over Arid Central Asia under Global Warming. It finds that winter precipitation in the highly arid region of Central Asia has been increasing recently, and will continue to increase with further global warming. In addition, while the paper finds no significant annual trend for all of Central Asia, Southeast Central Asia displays robust increases in precipitation in all seasons. This is great news, and is especially interesting in light of the next paper I will highlight.

atmosphere-07-00139-g007b

Trends in winter precipitation across Central Asia. Note that precipitation in all subregions is increasing significantly. From Song and Bai 2016.

Third is Elevated CO2 as a driver of global dryland greening. It finds that the world’s dry regions are greening, and that this is likely due to increases in CO2 concentration (similar conclusions about global greening have been reached by other recently published papers, press releases here and here). The rising CO2 levels make plant water saving more efficient and thus increase available soil water and stimulate plant growth. As other posts have noted, the effects of increasing CO2 are diverse, and both positive and negative. One highly important positive effect of increasing CO2 levels is the numerous benefits plants receive from having what is essentially more food. This is great news, and as mentioned above, this research is especially interesting since increasing CO2, through modification of the hydrological cycle, is also apparently increasing precipitation in some dry regions of the world, so plants may be receiving, at least in some areas, a double benefit from rising CO2 levels.

A highlight of recent research supporting the climate realist perspective #9

I have come across three scientific papers published recently, all of which support the climate realist perspective, and thought them of such significance that I should share them here, in my climate realist paper update series of blog posts.

First is Colluvium supply in humid regions limits the frequency of storm-triggered landslides (press release here), published in Scientific Reports. It argues that despite projected increases in extreme rainfall, landslides will, on the whole, most likely not be significantly affected by climate change. This is great news, since increasing landslides in a warming world would inevitably result in increased damage to life and property, and it goes against the conventional wisdom on landslides and rainfall, which are usually assumed to be strongly connected. And even this is assuming that the hydrological cycle will intensify as predicted, but the common opinion opinion on this issue may be oversimplistic, as these papers show.

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Changes in land precipitation around the globe since 1940. Note the lack of a cohesive trend. From Sun et al. 2012.

Second is The record-breaking 2015 hurricane season in the eastern North Pacific: An analysis of environmental conditions (press release here), published in Geophysical Research Letters. It argues that the record-breaking 2015 Eastern North Pacific hurricane season, which produced powerful storms such as Hurricane Patricia, the strongest tropical storm on record in the Western Hemisphere, was due to the combined effects of a positive Pacific Meridional Mode and strong El Nino conditions. Since both of these oscillations are natural, this is great news, since it means, despite what some of the hype at the time said, that human activities cannot be blamed, at least to a significant degree, for the unusually active season, and thusHurricane Patricia.

Third is Twenty-five winters of unexpected Eurasian cooling unlikely due to Arctic sea-ice loss, published in Nature Geoscience. It argues, dealing a further blow to the “warm Arctic-cold Northern Hemisphere winter” proposal, that recent, unexpected Eurasian winter cooling was not likely due to Arctic sea ice loss. This is great news, since colder winters would result in more cold-related mortality, and Arctic sea ice is likely to keep on declining as human-induced warming continues. Warmer winters, on the other hand, one of the projected effects of global warming, are often neglected as a beneficial effect of climate change, but this research lends further credence to the idea that warmer winters may indeed come about as a result of human-induced warming, which reduce cold-related mortality and save lives. As a side note, one of the authors, Dr. John C. Fyfe, has come out with research supporting the climate realist perspective before, such as here and here.