Category Archives: Science And Society

Climate Reporting

It’s a hot mess.

[Late-morning update]

A media round up, and some thoughts, from Judith Curry, on the State of the Union:

what is wrong with President Obama’s statements as cited above?

  • His statement about humans having exacerbated extreme weather events is not supported by the IPCC

  • The Pentagon is confusing climate change with extreme weather (see above)
  • ‘Climate change is real’ is almost a tautology; climate has always changed and always will, independently of anything humans do.
  • His tweet about ‘97%’ is based on an erroneous and discredited paper [link]

As for ‘Denial from Congress is dangerous’, I doubt that anyone in Congress denies that climate changes. The issue of ‘dangerous’ is a hypothetical, and relates to values (not science).

And speaking of the ‘deniers’ in Congress, did anyone spot any errors in the actual science from Senator Inhofe’s rebuttal?

The apparent ‘contract’ between Obama and his administrators to play politics with climate science seems to be a recipe for anti science and premature policies with negative economic consequences that have little to no impact on the climate.

BUt the important thing is that they line the pockets of his campaign contributors.

Maybe some day, in a future administration, we can have a grown up conversation about climate change (natural and human caused), the potential risks, and a broad range of policy responses.

Let’s hope.

Matt Ridley

“My life as a climate luke warmer“:

This view annoys some sceptics who think all climate change is natural or imaginary, but it is even more infuriating to most publicly funded scientists and politicians, who insist climate change is a big risk. My middle-of-the-road position is considered not just wrong, but disgraceful, shameful, verging on scandalous. I am subjected to torrents of online abuse for holding it, very little of it from sceptics.
I was even kept off the shortlist for a part-time, unpaid public-sector appointment in a field unrelated to climate because of having this view, or so the headhunter thought. In the climate debate, paying obeisance to climate scaremongering is about as mandatory for a public appointment, or public funding, as being a Protestant was in 18th-century England.

Heh.

We did the space seder a few years ago with some friends, who had invited some other people that we didn’t know. They were interested in science, but not trained in it. They audibly gasped when I said that I didn’t think that climate was necessarily much of a problem.

High-Fat Rodent Diets

Why they are not to be trusted:

So are the results telling us that the increasingly popular low carb high fat approach is wrong? That after all there’s no need for official bodies to perform a major U-turn? Not as far as I can tell. In fact it seems the rodent work is highly misleading. Not only are the so called ‘high fat diets’ they are fed nothing like the low carbohydrate diets any informed human would follow, but the animals have been selectively bred to ensure they become fat and diabetic on a high fat diet. This is not research, it is a rigged game.

I’m sure you’re as shocked as I am.

“Charlie,” Free Speech, And Climate Change

Thoughts from Judith Curry:

Anyone defending the satirists at Charlie should have a tough time defending Michael Mann in his legal war against the satirical writings of Mark Steyn and Rand Simberg. It will be interesting to see if Charlie and the defense of satirists changes the dynamics of the Mann vs NRO/CEI/Steyn lawsuits.

For the record, I have never sued, or threatened, let alone committed any acts of violence against people who call me a “denier,” a term I find quite offensive (particularly when they can’t describe exactly what it is I “deny”). I have this crazy idea that the proper response to speech I don’t like is more speech.

[Afternoon update]

“Free speech is so last century. Today’s students want the right to be comfortable.” I like the phrase “Stepford students.”

Dealing With Climate Change

No, it’s not like going on a diet:

Even when people aren’t directly invoking the carbon diet in their language, they often echo its principles by suggesting that everyone needs to cut back. But it falls apart—and starts to seem downright sinister—when you look at its priorities. Most of the world does not need a carbon diet. Three-quarters of the global population uses just 10 percent of the world’s energy, 1 billion people lack access to electricity, and 3 billion cook their food over dung, wood, and charcoal, leading to millions of early deaths. These people are energy starved—and they need a feast, not a diet.

These people are essentially advocating mass murder.

The Anti-Biotic Drought

…is over?

The experimental drug, which was isolated from a sample of New England dirt, is called teixobactin. It hasn’t yet been tested in people, though it cured all mice infected with antibiotic-resistant staphylococci bacteria that usually kills 90 percent of the animals, according to a study published today in the journal Nature. Bacteria appear to have a particularly difficult time developing resistance to the drug, potentially overcoming a major problem with existing antibiotics.

They’re probably a little overoptimistic on that one, but it’s good news in the short run at least.

How Science Goes Wrong

A good survey from The Economist why we can’t blindly accept the “authority” of “science” or scientists:

Too many of the findings that fill the academic ether are the result of shoddy experiments or poor analysis (see article). A rule of thumb among biotechnology venture-capitalists is that half of published research cannot be replicated. Even that may be optimistic. Last year researchers at one biotech firm, Amgen, found they could reproduce just six of 53 “landmark” studies in cancer research. Earlier, a group at Bayer, a drug company, managed to repeat just a quarter of 67 similarly important papers. A leading computer scientist frets that three-quarters of papers in his subfield are bunk. In 2000-10 roughly 80,000 patients took part in clinical trials based on research that was later retracted because of mistakes or improprieties.

It’s a mess.

The War On Mammals

in New Zealand:

I’d come to watch the Adsheads poke at decaying stoats because they are nature lovers. So are most New Zealanders. Indeed, on a per-capita basis, New Zealand may be the most nature-loving nation on the planet. With a population of just four and a half million, the country has some four thousand conservation groups. But theirs is, to borrow E. O. Wilson’s term, a bloody, bloody biophilia. The sort of amateur naturalist who in Oregon or Oklahoma might track butterflies or band birds will, in Otorohanga, poison possums and crush the heads of hedgehogs. As the coördinator of one volunteer group put it to me, “We always say that, for us, conservation is all about killing things.”

It’s a bizarre story.

[Wednesday-morning update]

A number of commenters are wondering why I think this is bizarre. I guess it’s just because the notion of living in a place with no mammals whatsoever (other than humans) seems very weird to me. I understand that they’re not native, but I’ve lived with them all my life, and have trouble imagining their total absence. Would I even be allowed to keep a dog? Or a cat?

Nice People

make the best Nazis.

Whenever I point out that Islam is a problematic ideology/religion, people say, “You bigot! I know many Muslims, and they’re very nice people!” Well, I also know many nice Muslims, and in fact most of them don’t necessarily agree with Al Qaeda or IS, but Al Qaeda and IS would (rightfully, in my opinion, though I’m no more of a Muslim scholar than Barack Obama) consider them apostates. The point is that most people are “nice” by nature, but that doesn’t prevent them from adhering to beliefs that aren’t very nice at all. I suspect that if you’d lived in Germany during the war, you’d have thought most Germans “nice,” except for that support-of-Hitler thing. Just don’t let them know you’re a Jew.

Another Sat Fat Study

No, you don’t increase your saturated fat by eating saturated fat. It’s the carbs, stupid:

The fatty acid called palmitoleic acid, which is associated with “unhealthy metabolism of carbohydrates that can promote disease,” went down with low-carb diets and gradually increased as carbs were re-introduced, the study said.

An increase in this fatty acid indicates that a growing proportion of carbohydrates is being converted into fat instead of being burned by the body, the researchers said.

“When you consume a very low-carb diet your body preferentially burns saturated fat,” Volek said.

“We had people eat two times more saturated fat than they had been eating before entering the study, yet when we measured saturated fat in their blood, it went down in the majority of people,” he said.

The finding “challenges the conventional wisdom that has demonized saturated fat and extends our knowledge of why dietary saturated fat doesn’t correlate with disease,” Volek added.

You don’t say.

Also, how the mindless theory of calorie counting has harmed public health.

[Update a while later]

Nine lies about fat that have destroyed the world’s health.