Why are environmentalists missing a mild-weather opportunity?

There’s still time for one more doozy of a snowstorm before winter gives up its ghost, I tell myself—although the next storm we get will be the first. We’ve had hardly any snow at all here this winter, which is saying something considering that I live in western New York, famous for the thick bands of lake-effect snow that pummel us every year. This year, not so much.

Everyone’s talking about it—what a mild winter we’ve had. How little snow has fallen. How warm it’s been. Everyone. And it’s not just here; it seems to be all across the country.

I can’t help but wonder about the missed opportunity:  Why hasn’t someone been using the mild weather to bang the drum about climate change?

After all, people are already talking about it, even if they don’t realize they are. The weather is on everyone’s mind. It’s the topic of conversation every day. The theme for months has remained remarkably consistent: I can’t believe how mild this winter has been.

“What winter?” a friend asked. “I guess we got a little, but it was more like what they normally get 400 miles south of here.”

In Maine, my father had to limit his winter beaver trapping because a lot of ponds didn’t freeze over solidly enough. In Virginia, my friends were wearing shorts on a 70-degree February day. In Pennsylvania, my grandmother has had lower winter heating bills than she’s had in a decade.

We all have mild-winter anecdotes to share. (And I bet we all have some sweltering-summer anecdotes from a few months ago, too.) That’s exactly the point.

It baffles me that environmentalists haven’t taken that ball and run with it for all its worth. It’s not a great leap to draw “climate change” or “global warming” into the discussion. (“Global warming,” while not preferable as a term because it’s not particularly accurate, still makes that intuitive leap a lot easier.) It’s not the conversation, but it’s the perfect way into the conversation.

Suddenly, the complex issue of climate change literally becomes as simple as the weather outside right now.

“I think climate scientists are wary of it because it breaches scientific integrity,” one colleague suggested. “You can’t make too much of a single data point, and in the grand scheme of things, one year is a single data point.”

True enough. Climatologists do need to offer scientifically reliable facts and figures and evidence. Deniers, however, don’t give a shit. They sow doubt by feeding on emotion and selective, apocryphal anecdotes.

Well, this winter, climate scientists have had the single most effective anecdotal ammunition possible. People can relate to the weather, and they talk about it all the time. They can’t understand why it’s so mild. “Oh, you want to know? Well, let’s talk for a minute about climate change….”

I recognize that current weather is but one data point in the larger discussion, but does that mean it doesn’t have anecdotal value? I’m suggesting nothing more than using that anecdotal value for what it is—a way into popular consciousness—without making more of it than that. And as an anecdote, it at least has the power of being real and not apocryphal.

Climate change deniers can deny facts all they want, but let them deny the weather outside right now. Let them deny the lived, shared experience of millions. Sure, some dumbasses will still believe them, but there are a lot of people who are still persuadable in the debate over climate change, and what easier way to persuade them than to reframe what they’re already talking about.

There’s much else in the news vying for people’s attention. The primaries, in particular, have provided a lot of entertainment, especially for the media. The economy still sinks. Gas prices hurt. The Middle East continues to brew trouble. On and on.

Amidst all that, though, AccuWeather still boasts headlines like “Another Warm One,” “Warmest Spring in Years to Fuel Active Severe Weather,” and “Warm Weather Contributing to Lower Heating Bills.” The Weather Channel touts “Record Highs Into Weekend” and “Unusual Warmth: How Much Longer?” And that’s all just from the past few days. Among weather people, the warm temperatures are the news.

Everyone will always care about the weather. Everyone will always talk about it. Everyone will always marvel at it, especially when it’s out of the ordinary, as it’s been this year.

Why haven’t environmentalists and climate scientists owned that story?

40 replies »

  1. Because the climate change debate is about more than one warm winter or one cool summer. Two winters ago, we had a really, really cold and brutal winter. Did that mean global warming was bunk? Nope. We just had a warmer winter than usual. Does that mean global warming isn’t bunk? Nope. Larger and longer trends than a single year are needed to prove or deny. Global warming seemed to take a decade off from 1998 to 2008 or so, but even that small a sample doesn’t mean the earth isn’t warming. I think both sides of the debate realize touting a warm or cold season could backfire because, you will inevitably get “evidence” which would be the opposite later on down the road i.e. even if the world is warming overall, I can guarantee there will be colder than normal season at some point.

  2. Hi, Tom —

    I certainly understand that rationale, and from a scientific perspective, it makes complete sense. But as a “hook” for getting people’s attention, particularly in the context of Americans’ painfully short attention span, the mild weather is a great attention-grabber and, I think, a perfect platform for initiating discussion. And then in a year or two or three, when the weather swings the other way, there’s ANOTHER opportunity to talk about climate change. In the meantime, the public has been better educated about the issue and will, in all likelihood, remember this year’s mild weather in little more than an anecdotal way: “Remember that mild winter we had a couple years ago…?”

    It’s all public relations, really,in the same way some yahoos, trying to control the discussion, insist on using terms like “alarmists” any time they try to describe anyone who advocates on behalf of climate change awareness (why actually discuss the issues then they can call names?)–but in this instance, with the mild weather, there’s at least some substance behind the framing rather than dismissive name calling.

  3. Hmmm, they ‘call names’. What are ‘yahoos’, “deniers”, & “dumbasses”, then?
    Chris, your main point seems to be advocating dishonesty for the Cause. No, I take it back, you ARE advocating dishonesty for the Cause. The WHY does not matter so much, it’s still dishonesty.

  4. While you’re using the mild winter in the US, I’ll be using the unusually cool GLOBAL temperatures (January -0.02 C below the long term average, February -0.12 C below the lta) to continue to debunk the hysteria.

    Data’s a dangerous thing for small minds to play with….

  5. Chris:

    I think there are two ways to go about addressing this. The first is by opening up the age-old debate of ends and means. Does lying justify a “good” outcome? I would adamantly say “no,” personally, and would oppose any attempt to undermine my ethics, even in a cause I thought was “right.” Some of this is just the way I was brought up, but a good part of it is a healthy disrespect for my ability to always be right, or to have the slightest idea just how much unethical, or even immoral, behavior is OK in order to get the “right” outcome.

    But since you framed this in more practical terms, let’s look at the second, practical aspect of what you’re suggesting.

    I’d like to start with a story. Back in the early 90s, when the health care cost crisis was still taking our breath away (we weren’t so used to it, then), I had a large employer in Houston decide to take a “creative” approach to explaining pricing on its health care benefits.

    At the time, they had an indemnity plan (one in which you could see any doc, and pay a deductible and then 80% or so of any remaining costs), and an HMO (you see only docs in the HMO in most cases, and you have to see a primary care physician before you can see a specialist). This gets a bit technical, but please bear with me. I promise, there is a point.

    HMOs, at least at the time, were cheaper options than indemnity plans, but they tended to offer more benefits and greater coverage all around. So, they were both cheaper and offered more value, assuming you were willing to see only docs at the HMO. This worried the employer. If they offered this rich-benefit HMO for less money than the old indemnity plan, it would probably attract younger, healthier employees, which would leave the indemnity plan with older, sicker employees. As you know from the way insurance works, this would eventually drive the cost of the indemnity plan sky high — to the point where no one could afford it any more.

    So, the employer decided to drive more young people into the indemnity plan by artificially pricing it higher than the HMO. To explain this, they came up with the brilliant plan of explaining to employees (because, of course, they’d be too dumb to figure this out themselves) that MORE benefits cost MORE, so the HMO was more expensive. Naturally, by the next year, the indemnity plan was too expensive anyway, so they had to drop it in favor of carrying only the HMO, and then had to explain to employees how the plan they had said cost less was actually WAY more expensive. It was an employee relations mess of the first order.

    So, why did I put you through all that? Because, even if moral considerations didn’t exist, it is almost always extremely bad policy to lie. It will bite you in the end. In the case of global warming, there will be colder-than-usual summers in our future and colder-than-usual winters, even if they become more and more rare. To assert that this mild winter proves global warming is to open oneself to the argument that cooler-than-average weather in the future disproves it. It’s just bad policy.

  6. Correction on something above. Should read: “They decided to drive more people into the indemnity plan by pricing it lower than the HMO, even though the HMO was actually cheaper.”

  7. There’s your answer, Chris, because we’d rather be prissy snobs than win the argument.

  8. Chris, in general I agree with you that it’s completely reasonable and appropriate to use the weather as a jumping off point into discussing climate. But it has to be done more carefully than your “BAM! Climate change!” approach. You yourself point out the whole “one data point” and “climate vs. weather” thing, and as Tom and EFH above demonstrate, it can be deceptive if it’s not done right.

    We can make an argument that goes something like this and still be on safe ground both scientifically and ethically: “It’s been unusually warm this spring in the US. The start of spring has been trending earlier in the year over the last 30 years, an effect that climate scientists have attributed to the effects of carbon dioxide emitted by human activity.” It’s honest, it’s scientifically accurate, and it still uses the weather as the jumping off point that you’re looking for.

    I’d also like to congratulate you – you’ve just earned the first pingback that S&R has ever got from Steve Milloy, professional liar for hire. I’m afraid it’s a bit of a dubious distinction.

  9. Dishonesty, EHF? Hardly. What’s dishonest about saying, “Unusual weather? Well, did you know that erratic weather patterns are a symptom of climate change…” and springboard into a discussion that moves beyond the single data point of this year into a wider discussion that brings in a variety of pieces of evidence?

    That seems a far more honest way of framing a discussion than using labels, stereotypes, and other ad hominem attacks. I have no compunction in calling someone who uses such tactics a “yahoo” because they seem more interested in obfuscating and sidetracking discussion rather than moving it forward. Anyone who clings to dogma over disinterested discussion IS a yahoo. (Ironic that those name-callers hate to be called names.)

  10. Stan B, you’re using satellite data instead of the surface record. You’re also not accounting for the baseline differences between the satellite and surface records. If you adjust the baseline periods, you’ll see that your distinction fades away to nothingness.

    You also fail to mention the fact that 2011 was a La Nina year and that the influence of the La Nina was stronger over the last two months than this month.

  11. Stan, you’re right that data’s a dangerous thing for small minds, so I’d suggest you look at pieces of evidence beyond the lower global temperatures you cite. I’m not arguing for “global warming,” I’m talking about “climate change,” so the operative word you use is “unusual,” not necessarily the lower temps you’re tossing around.

  12. @ otherwise: I’m not sure if your “prissy snobs” comment was aimed at me, but if so, then so be it. I thought I did at least a fair job of outlining objections to obfuscating about data from single winters in a single place on two grounds: one ancient and one practical. If you disagree, then you disagree.

    I would like to point out, though, that I did not call anyone any names.

  13. Yeah, Brian, I admit I’m oversimplifying. I’m not in the trenches themselves on this issue to be able to be as nuanced about it as necessary, which is what it would really take to effectively make use of the opportunity. That’s what the experts are for, I guess! 🙂

    But perhaps my oversimple angle is instructive, too, because the majority of America comes at this issue from a joe-shmoe perspective similar to mine, and that’s the audience experts need to aim at.

  14. JS – I think Otherwise’s remark needs context. He wrote a piece on this subject not long ago suggesting that “our” side should start playing rough. If I’m reading correctly, the comment wasn’t about you but more generally about we more educated, enlightened types tend to play fair instead of playing to win by whatever means necessary.

  15. Sam, I believe I pointed out adequate grounds for why “playing rough” would not be in the best interests of those who believe climate change is real (as I do). But let me pose this question to you: Chris has put forward an idea of how one side should obfuscate in order to, as he believes, score points in the argument for its side. I believe that, morals aside, such a thing would backfire, and have laid out why I think it will. (Though I believe Brian’s approach would work just fine.)

    Now, you and I have devoted much of our lives to the study of communication and its effects on listeners. Would you recommend lying about this? Do you think that would pay off in the long run?

    • JS: This isn’t just a good question, it’s THE question. The issue is complex and the answer is tricky. I’m framing a post on it now – or trying to, as I struggle to finish up a project for a client – and hope to get it up in the very near future.

      Short version – it’s an issue that you HAVE to win. And unfortunately, it’s nearly impossible to win playing straight up with an uneducated majority and an opposition noise machine. So it’s about ethics, strategy and tactics, and it’s slippery as hell.

  16. And I would assert that lying guarantees losing.

    Regardless, I’m done. I have stayed away from S&R for quite a long time, primarily because the ad hominem attacks just became too much. I should have stayed away. I truly believe that I put forth a reasoned response, only to be labeled a “prissy snob.” Such is the state of American discourse, even on S&R, which was once a pretty good haven from such things (except for the occasional drive-by poster).

    So, I won’t be around here to read your response. Feel free to send it to me via email if you like.

  17. I rarely apologize but I will this time. I was being playful with language I thought, but “prissy snobs,” was not a sound choice of words. I messed up. I respect your positions and your intellects. Forgive me.

    • What we have here is an important applied case of the age-old Kant v. Mill argument. JS says lying is bound to bite you in the ass and Otherwise says it’s worked pretty well for the GOP.

      This is an incredibly important discussion for us. It’s both a matter of pragmatics – this being a battle that we cannot afford to lose – and ethics. There has been some misunderstanding that I hope is cleared up now, because as I have told both Otherwise and JS in private e-mail, they’re two of the smartest guys I know. The two of them discussing this issue is something that can’t help being a good thing for the rest of us.

  18. If you don’t mind, I’ll use this post as a jumping off point about weather extremes and their attribution to climate disruption (seems appropriate, given the topic. 🙂 )

    In the last couple of years, scientists have applied statistical technique known as “partial attribution” to extreme weather. The goal is to identify the multiple causes of particular cases of extreme weather. In the process, the scientists attribute X% to cause A, Y% to cause B, and so on.

    This approach has been used to identify the causes of the Russian heat wave of 2010, for example, and found that there was an 80% chance that the heat wave would not have occurred without human-induced heating and climate disruption.

    This technique is relatively new, so there are debates ongoing about it in the published literature. But if the technique holds up, then eventually scientists may well be able to attribute this March’s odd warming in the US to climate disruption.

  19. It is easy to write a story about above average temperatures in the U. S. this winter. What would you write if you lived in Eastern Europe this winter. Thousands dead from the cold. Ist that global warming? I think if you examine global temeperatures this winter you will find the global average was the lowest in years.

    • James, that’s one of the problems with the term “global warming” – it’s not scientifically accurate. Climate disruption is the term I prefer – it’s scientifically accurate, and it describes what’s both happening and what is expected to continue as a result of human emissions of carbon dioxide.

      Whether or not cold temperatures in one area or another are expected as a result of climate disruption is something that is difficult to know. A recent PNAS paper by Liu, Curry, Wang, Song, and Horton titled “Impact of declining Arctic sea ice on winter snowfall” concluded that less Arctic sea ice appears to have led to more blocking events that have, in turn, resulted in massive snowfall records and record cold temperatures across North America and Eurasia. So, in response to your particular question, yes, it very well could be a result of human-driven climate disruption insofar as the decline in Arctic sea ice is a result of the same.

      For a more in-depth discussion of this topic, I recommend this post at Skeptical Science.

      As for the global winter temperatures, the following graph from Woodfortrees.org shows the last 10 years of data for GISSTEMP, HadCRUT3, RSS, and UAH:

      Judging by the data, you’re correct that the global average temperature was low this year, but “low” is a relative thing. It’s about the same as it was in 2011, and it’s warmer than it was in 2008, for example. And as you can see from the graphs, the two temp surface records are still well above the 20th century baseline. The satellite data has a different baseline, but when that’s corrected for, they’re well in line with the surface records.

      (For the record, the 120 months I chose to show is NOT based on anything statistical, just a desire to show the data for the last few years. No-one should draw any other conclusions from the graph other than those directly related to James’ point.)

      Also, if you look at the table here, you’ll see that winters of 2008, 2011, and 2012 are all La Nina years, meaning that the Pacific Ocean was absorbing atmospheric heat and cooling things down globally. So the global temperatures are entirely in line with what we know about the weather impacts of La Nina events.

  20. Dr. Rust — I agree with you that the story is completely relative to a particular geographic region at a particular time of year, which is why the weather can serve only as an anecdotal way into the larger story. But it’s a powerful anecdote because it’s such a shared experience.

    The example you cite also makes for a good anecdote into the larger story. (China, as I understand it, has also been unseasonably cold this year.) The operative phrase in your example is “lowest in years,” which indicates fluctuation from the norm. Great way to talk about the subject!

  21. Chris,

    What you are describing isn’t PR, but rather propaganda i.e. using an argument that you know ahead of time is flawed and incorrect, but think will sway the masses. Also, you object to the term “alarmist” while using the terms “deniers” and “dumbasses” for anyone with reservations about the orthodoxy of anthropogenic global warming. I think your moral high horse may have gone lame, my friend.

    As always, wishing you the best.

  22. Propaganda is the deliberate one-sided portrayal of information, and I’m not suggesting any such thing. In fact, my issue with “deniers” is that they DO subscribe to a form of one-sided jingoism that’s not based on disinterested information. There are plenty of skeptics interested in discussion/dialogue, which I think is productive for everyone.

  23. Chris, the proponent side of AGW is guilty of all that you accuse the skeptics of. Proponents of AGW are certainly not willing to engage in an open discussion and dialogue over global warming. They have expended considerable efforts to keep any skeptic from peer reviewed publications, attacked visciously anybody who questions the orthodoxy, from slandering their character to questioning their motives. The proponent side of AGW is far beyond a Goliath to the skeptic David. Stating it in such terms would understate the fight by several magnitudes. What keeps the skeptic cause alive (and there are many varying degrees of skepticism) is that the previous orthodoxy was flawed. From Michael Mann’s Hockey Stick to the IPCC’s publications, we have seen them all come crashing down to one degree or another.

    Take care, my friend.

    • Wow, Tom, so many misconceptions in so few sentences. It’s hard to know where to start.

      How about the fact that the hockey stick has been upheld multiple times using different proxies, different statistical methods, and by different researchers? That’s the gold standard for science, after all – multiple independent corroborations (with associated refinements on the results, of course).

      Or how about the publication of Roy Spencer’s paper in Remote Sensing because Spencer couldn’t get it past peer review without the help of “pal review” due to the fact he’d made significant errors and cherrypicked his data, as shown by Andrew Dessler and Barry Bickmore? Same with Lindzen/Soon, when PNAS rejected their paper because if failed to meet minimum standards of evidence. No need to suppress anything, just the demand that a paper’s data and analysis hold up when facing the same level of scrutiny facing any paper in the field.

      Or how about the amount of money involved in climate research (less than $10 billion) as compared to the trillions of dollars that fossil fuel-related industries have available to squelch inconvenient science?

      Or maybe we can start with the eight or so independent inquiries that cleared the scientists whose emails were illegally published during Climategate of every allegation of scientific misconduct?

      Physics and chemistry don’t care about our petty political battles. And the physics, chemistry, and biology is all pointing to one unavoidable conclusion – humans are the dominant factor in recent climate disruption. There’s just no way around it, unfortunately. I’d be thrilled to be wrong, because that would lower my stress level about my children’s future and my own financial security (my job will be affected when, not if, the US has to start reallocating money from aerospace and defense into climate mitigation and adaptation), but the science and data just don’t support that conclusion. Sorry.

  24. “Dr. James H. Rust” says “I think if you examine global temeperatures this winter you will find the global average was the lowest in years.”

    I examined the global temperatures. Using the GISTEMP land-ocean temperature index, I find that the global temperature anomaly for the winter just gone (defined as the average of Dec, Jan and Feb temperatures) was +0.40°C. The last time the anomaly was lower was in 2008, when it was +0.26°C. So, it was the lowest in four years.

    The interesting thing is that if you look at the number of years in each decade where the winter global temperature anomaly is 0.4°C or above, you find the following:

    2010s: 3 out of 3 so far
    2000s: 7
    1990s: 3
    1980s: 1
    1970s: 0
    1960s: 0
    1950s: 0

    I could go on until the 1880s but I think you get the point.

    In other words, this winter, which you describe as the coldest in years, was milder globally than any winter recorded between 1880 and 1988. Of the 134 years in the GISTEMP record, it was the 14th warmest. What would once have been a record-breakingly warm winter is now noticeably cool compared to recent climatology, and wannabe “sceptics” can even go so far as to describe it as unusually cold.

    And so when it comes to the mild US winter, I think it is imperative to point out what an unusual event this was, and that without the onward upward trend in global temperatures, such an event would have been rare or impossible. In the future, certainly, there will be winters colder than the average, and I am sure than science deniers will hype them. However, there will always be the context. Hyping 2012 as a cold winter globally when it was the 14th warmest on record is ridiculous; hyping 2012 as a warm winter in the US when it was one of the warmest on record is not ridiculous.

  25. Climate scientists as well as many informed people know that the last three months were colder than normal on a global basis. The Tropospheric temperatures hit lows not seen since the 1970s. These scientists don’t want to look stupid and suggest warming for a small area of the planet in the USA is a sign of warming when the rest of the planet was colder than normal. Ocean temperatures were also on the cooler side which the scientists know. I just tell people how lucky we are with all the people around the rest of the world that died from some of the coldest temperatures they had in 50 years.

  26. @ Otherwise: Apology accepted, of course, but I’m still very surprised by your remarks. Why would my disagreement with someone make me “prissy”? Or a “snob”?

  27. “Or how about the amount of money involved in climate research (less than $10 billion) as compared to the trillions of dollars that fossil fuel-related industries have available to squelch inconvenient science?”

    Interesting argument…or rather what appears to be an argument but really isn’t. Fossil fuel-related companies have trillions available, compared to our little ol’ billions. Implying they are pitting their trillions against your billions, which would make you the poor David vs their oil-funded Goliath. Ok, for the last two decades, one oil company ExxonMobil, has put $20+ million into funding skeptics research. This is just one oil company, but this is also over 20 years. In contrast, in JUST THIS YEAR, the Obama Administration will spend $6.5 billion on “the global changes that have resulted primarily from global over-dependence on fossil fuels.” (Btw, so good to see the research has the objective to be found already written, all they have to do is connect the dots to it).

    Want to bet who has more spent on research worldwide…proponents or skeptics? I am betting it is greater than 100-1 in favor of the proponents (actually, wouldn’t be surprised with 1000 to 1), once you take into account govt spending (mostly US, Canada and European govts), enviromental/charitable groups and foundations. The trail of money doesn’t go to the skeptics.

    p.s. many “fossil-fuel related industries” have also supported various global warming initiatives. They aren’t oil companies as much as “energy” companies now. They want to get in on the green gravy train also. Exxon, for instance, supported “cap-n-trade.”

    Cheers, Brian. I will try to find time to write about some of the other parts of your post. Wish we could argue it over beers with Chris instead of with posts.

    • The money argument isn’t just about research, Tom. According to Open Secrets, in 2010 (the last election year), the fossil fuel related industries of coal mining, transportation, electric utilities, and oil/gas spent $600 million on lobbying. In comparison, the US spent $2.5 billion in the USGCRP (the umbrella organization for all US climate science programs) in FY2011. That seems like a lot until you realize that includes $1.4 billion to NASA (most of which is satellite launches and operation), large chunks of the NOAA budget (the National Weather Service is part of NOAA and it costs a boatload to operate ships), crop research funded by the USDA, research into the impacts of climate disruption on national security at the DoD, and so on (link).

      It’s not all what you or I would traditionally think of as “climate research” by a long shot.

      The whole gravy-train argument falls apart when you realize just how much money is really in play. No more than $1 billion for research that actually has to produce something (once you pull out the massive amount spent on satellites)? Or $9 trillion, 15% of the global economy? Fossil fuel-related companies could spend $1 billion on lobbying and paying think tanks and pundits to obfuscate and get a massive return on their tiny investment – another year or decade of extracting, transporting, and burning fossil fuels at amazing profit margins and without having to pay for the free market externality that is carbon dioxide.

  28. I think I’m finding this article and comment thread interesting from a slightly different perspective.

    Up-front disclosure. I’m no scientist. I don’t have a background in mathematics or physics, much less climate science. I’m your standard layperson in that respect. However, I do have just enough research design and methodology from a psych curriculum once upon a time to have developed an appreciation for the importance of sound design and methodology as well as for peer review.

    In a different field, nursing, I worked closely with the research department of a non-profit and occasionally with the Editorial Review Board for their peer-reviewed journal. During that brief exposure, I learned an interesting thing about peer review. If that organization’s peer review process is any indicator of wider trends, it’s not just an open and shut procedure. There’s the conflict of interest considerations for the board members and reviewers, especially with consideration to affiliations to the researchers and their institutions when that could be figured out contextually in spite of the blinding process. There’s the blind review process itself, which helps mitigate the risk of publication being a function of membership in the good ol’ boys (or girls) club. Then there’s the give and take aspect. The reviewers closely scrutinize the submissions and, if there’s an issue that would prevent publication, e.g., issues with sampling methods, those are addressed with the submitter(s) to see if those issues could be rectified. Anecdotal though it may be, the submitters who posed the greatest challenge were those who had “close” to publishable papers, but who then just dropped out of the conversation rather than work with the review board to address legitimate concerns.

    One also has to take into consideration the budgets behind the studies that bear the fruit of papers for submission. No reputable organization is just going to throw money at a research proposal. They’re going to require a proposal that details the methodologies to be used, which proposal itself is subject to internal review. If errors in research design and methodology are detected at that level, the application should, by all rights, be denied until such time as those issues are rectified, if that’s even possible given organizational application requirements and deadlines.

    That said, when one of the significant issues that climate disruption skeptics has is that they are being shut out by the peer reviewed journals, are there any known cases of publication-denied skeptics coming forward with the correspondence between themselves and the reviewers? Is the mechanism roughly the same where the reviewers reply collegially with the precise reasons for rejection? If so, how do the skeptics respond?

    When another of the significant issues is the funding for the studies that generate the papers, where is the documentation of that process from the skeptics’ side? Do their funders just throw them a sizeable sum of money to do with as they please? Or do the skeptical researchers first have to apply for a grant, with such application including the intended design and methodology. If so, are those applications reviewed by someone qualified to determine whether or not the design and methodology are sound? If so, and those studies get the green light for funding on that basis, then where is the discussion about design and methodology issues between the grant application reviewers and the peer reviewed journal reviewers?

    Even as a non-scientist, something tells me that would be one hell of a conversation to try to follow.

  29. Two Winters ago we did NOT have a cold winter. We had a snowier than normal winter, but the temps were almost average. Also, this is not one warm winter… look at NOOA’s website, 13 of the hottest years on record have been in the last 15 years. For anyone to deny global warming at this point is the epitome of ignorant. And if I hear one more person say “But what about the cold in Europe this winter?”. How long is your memory? Yes, for 3 or 4 weeks Europe was real cold, but for MONTHS prior to that it was abnormally warm just like we have been in the USA. Our local weather man here (Northern Michigan) just said a few days ago that from November 1st to March 1st we’ve had 9 days colder than normal and over 100 above normal.