Following the previous post here about alarmist stories of Arctic ice melt, Seymour Laxon, the scientist behind the recent spate of ‘Arctic melting quicker than we thought’ stories, replied in the comments.

Dear Ben

“Paul Matthews let me know by twitter that I was wrong to say the measurements were based just on Cryosat2. In the interview, he explains that the data were produced by using Cryosat2 and NASA’s Icestat satellite. Either way, however, the data he refers are measurements still only taken since 2010, which I still believe is far too short a time series to say anything about trends, let alone safely projecting them.”

As I stated on Today the results come from combining data from CryoSat-2 with earlier measurements by NASA’s ICEsat satellite (2003-2008). The statement in Andrew Orlowski’s article that my results are based only two years of data is therefore untrue (I have e-mailed him to point this out).

In the interview, Laxon referred to measurements taken ‘this decade’, which I presumed to mean since 2010. It doesn’t seem unreasonable to me to take from this understanding that Laxon’s predictions about the decline of Arctic sea ice were therefore based on a data series which is too short to be meaningful. (I am still not confident that even the 10 year sample is sufficient, but that is by-the-by as far as this post is concerned).

Most of my criticism of environmental journalists has been their apparent laziness in establishing the facts of the stories they aim to report on — of taking scientists’ claims at face value, and of failing to subject any back story, or coincident claims to criticism and scrutiny. Most of the coverage of developments in environmental science are lifted straight out of the press release, and seen through the pre-existing alarmist narrative, as I discussed in my article for Spiked this week. So it would seem that I had been pretty sloppy myself, for not having established precisely what Laxon’s method was.

Except there was nothing to find. I looked. And I looked. And I looked. I could not find a press release from Laxon’s places of work, or organisations associated with them. I could not find any new research published anywhere. No mention of it was made on the Cryosat2 website. I even asked on Twitter — where is the science?

I replied to Laxon by email, and in the comments:

Thanks for your comment, Seymour.

Could you explain where the research is published, so that we can see how you have produced these results from the data?

Many thanks,

Ben.

Laxon replied by email:

Dear Ben

As I have made clear in the media the results are preliminary.

They results are now being finalised for publication (hopefully very soon). The paper will
report on what the data tells us has happened to Arctic ice volume over the period 2003-12.

Regards

But ‘preliminary results’ are not results, as I pointed out in the previous post. Why would anyone be interested in a premature announcement of results, and how come they generated so many headlines? I asked Laxon:

Dear Seymour,

So how did the media get hold of these preliminary results? Did you
send them to newsdesks? Or did it go out on a PR newswire? And why
didn’t you wait until you had the final results before you commented
on them?

Many thanks,

Ben.

Laxon replied:

I was approached by the media (it is well know that I am working with CryoSat) and agreed to talk as long as it was made clear that the results were preliminary.

In any case the first estimates of volume from CryoSat were published on the BBC back in April, and presented at the Royal Society in front of the press, at the request of the European Space Agency.

For your information the data have been processed in a more or less identical manner to that described in Kwok et al JGR, 2009 and Giles et al GRL, 2008.

I am doing my best to get the paper and data out there as soon as possible.

Regards

At this point, I am not sure who this reflects on the worst: journalists who seem hungry for the story, or the scientist who is prepared to give it to them. Surely an experienced scientist like Laxon ought to know that research like this would provoke a great deal of interest and debate, which would be better served with the benefit of the full and final analysis, not simply headline figures about ‘preliminary results’. I asked Laxon:

Dear Seymour.

I can see by the raft of results produced by google that many journalists picked up the story.

Which media organisation/journalist approached you first in this most recent case of your ‘preliminary results’? I presume that the rest followed after just one newspaper(?) reported it? I’m trying to understand how they found out that you had ‘preliminary results’.

I’m also a bit confused about why you didn’t explain that you couldn’t comment until the preliminary results had been made more concrete.

Ben.

Laxon replied:

They were talking to one of my colleagues who was aware of my results. Scientists often share results prior to publication, that’s how science progresses.

It’s common in any case for journalists to come and talk to scientists after conference presentations which may show unpublished results and write articles about them afterwards.

If I had doubts that the final numbers might be substantially different then I might have been more cautious. However the data have been processed using well established and documented (i.e. published in peer review journals) procedures and validated using various ground data. Some of the numbers (such as the agreement of ice volume with PIOMAS) were presented to the press back in April.

Nice talking to you but I really do need to get on and finish the paper which I hope to submit in the next week or so.

That seems to be the end of the correspondence from Laxon. I replied:

Dear Seymour,

Thanks for your email, but it didn’t quite answer my question. I wondered who you had spoken to first — which newspaper/journalist?

No doubt scientists and journalists talk to each other. But most scientific developments that I am aware of, are announced to the press via press release, embargoed until the publication of the
peer-reviewed work. This process has its own problems, of course. But it surely is preferable to the obvious problems that would be created by unpublished, un-peer-reviewed research being reported in the media. Your integrity and honesty notwithstanding, we nonetheless have only your word for the soundness of your method, and of the data itself, and are left none the wiser about how either developed. I look forward to your research being published (when?) but in the meantime, the headlines have been generated, without the scrutiny that stories which [have] such far-reaching implications surely deserve? in spite of your comment that this is how science progresses, I don’t see how science can progress if it is done like this.

Best wishes,

Ben.

So maybe Andrew Orlowski and I were wrong to suggest that the alarmist headlines were based on a ‘half-baked data set‘. But maybe we weren’t. The alarmist narrative has been served, with no opportunity given to interrogate the data, the analysis of the data, and the reporting of the analysis in the media.

And there is no doubting the effect of this story. A Google search for web pages published in the last week for the terms ‘seymour’, ‘laxon’, ‘arctic’ returns 996 results:

BBC interview – Arctic ice melting faster than ever?
Arctic ocean losing 50% more summer ice than predicted
Arctic sea ice could disappear within 10 years as global warming increases speed of melting
Arctic ice could vanish in 10 years, scientists warn
Arctic ice could vanish within 10 years: Scientists
An ice-free Arctic ocean in the summer within 10 years? It’s possible
Arctic losing ice much faster than expected
Arctic Sea Ice Could Vanish In 10 Years: Study
Rate of Arctic summer sea ice loss is 50 per cent higher than predicted
Arctic ice thinning faster than thought
‘Arctic sea ice could disappear within 10 years’

And so on. Hundreds of headlines, read by millions of people. Because Seymour Laxon had a cup of tea with a journalist pal, and revealed the results of his unpublished, un-peer-reviewed work.

This is the anatomy of climate alarmism. For years it has been the claim of environmentalists that their arguments were based on peer-reviewed literature published in credible, scientific journals, and that their critics didn’t enjoy the authority that institutional science gave them. But now we see that all it takes for a story to snowball, are, in such conditions, the premature words of a single scientist, about his ‘preliminary results’. The truth is that the avalanche was ready for the first tiny impulse that would send it cascading throughout the media, across the world. And that is how unpublished, untested results from one study, told by just one man, get turned into stories about ‘science’ detecting ‘greater ice loss than we expected’. If Laxon didn’t know it, he was naive.


UPDATE:

Laxon published the following comment on the story at the Register.

Get the facts right Andrew
The statement in this article that these new results rely on just two years of data is, quite simply, false. If you wish to know why then listen to my Today interview (http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_9744000/9744378.stm) where I state that the trends are derived by combining CryoSat-2 volume estimates with earlier (2003-2008) volume estimates from NASA’s ICESat mission [Kwok, JGR, 2009].
I also state that one must be cautious in extrapolating these trends forwards.
Seymour Laxon

Andrew Orlowski responds:

Cautious, Seymour?
A cautious scientist would be expected to go through the peer review process. You, by contrast, haven’t even published this work yet. It is not available for scrutiny. Nevertheless, you are willing to appear on the national media making dramatic long-term claims, based on *new* data of less than two years observations.
You have been anything but cautious.
Your science may be well turn out be sound, but until it has been independently scrutinized, we just don’t know. Your argument boils own to: “Trust me, I’m a scientist.”


William Connolley — who can’t even keep a job at Wikipedia, let alone Real Climate, such an angry rodent is he — writes at his blog, Weasel, Rat, Stoat, that Orlowski and I are ‘stupid’, ‘liars’ and ‘idiots’. He then deletes the word ‘stupid’ from my comment there, for its ‘incivility’. Environmentalists have never been very good at sticking to the standards they set for others. but that’s a trivial instance of it. The more important issue is that the emphasis on peer review and publication in credible journals is what made climate science better than anything the sceptics could throw at it.

Seymour Laxon joins in, amongst the commenters there, who seem much more interested in hurling abuse — and hackneyed abuse at that — than engaging in debate. Says Laxon:

Ben >>[in which I ask him for “the science” — something he wasn’t able to produce]

Ben has not actually asked me any questions about the science . If you look at the e-mail exchange you will see he has only asked “Could you explain where the research is published, so that we can see how you have produced these results from the data?”

Anyway for Ben and anyone else who’s actually interested in the science the ICESat paper on trends in ice volume (K09) is available to download here:

http://rkwok.jpl.nasa.gov/publications/Kwok.2009.JGR.pdf

In paragraph 39 the 2003-8 trends from ICESat are provided: “The trend in ice volume is -1237/-862 km3/a (fall/ winter).”

What I have done it to combine this ICESat time-series with 2 winters of CryoSat data processed in the same way as described in Giles et al., GRL, 2008, and validated in a similar manner the to comparisons shown in K09, figure 4.

So go and read those two papers and if you have any questions about the “science’ they describe (you’ll need to understand those papers to understand mine as the methodologies are more or less the same) then let us know.

In addition why not go here: file: http://psc.apl.washington.edu/wordpress/research/projects/arctic-sea-ice-volume-anomaly/data/ to download a simple ASCII text data. Once downloaded select out the September data (more or less day 244-274) since 2003, average the data for each year, and then use Excel to tell you what the slope in the data is. Then you’ll have your own trend in Arctic volume to report back.

PS. There are a dozen scientists and engineers on the paper which describes the CS-2/ICESat results.

So Laxon’s answer is: do your own science.

It’s a bit late for that now, though, isn’t it. His hundreds of headlines have been created over the last week.

82 Responses to Seymour (K)Laxon Headlines

  • You just know these “preliminary results” will be regurgitated endlessly by the very same people who will cry “not peer reviewed” (even when it is) whenever research questioning their doomsday narrative is mentioned.

  • Ben,

    As more data comes in it will support these preliminary results. Will you be publishing a retraction of this post then?

  • Chris Reynolds – As more data comes in it will support these preliminary results.

    Did you read it in the frogs entrails, or do you have a crystal ball? Either way, so much for ‘science’.

    Will you be publishing a retraction of this post then?

    No. Partly because there is nothing to retract. As Andrew Orlowski explained:

    Your science may be well turn out be sound, but until it has been independently scrutinized, we just don’t know. Your argument boils own to: “Trust me, I’m a scientist.”

    Whatever the data turns out to be, the debate has been denied the opportunity to scrutinise the analysis.

    I don’t think you can have read or understood the above post.

  • “Did you read it in the frogs entrails, or do you have a crystal ball? Either way, so much for ‘science’.”

    Data, the peer reviewed publications I read, and logic.

  • Chris

    As the report in question has been neither published nor peer reviewed, you clearly have time travelling capabilities denied to the rest of us. Very logical.

  • Chris~ I thought Data returned to the 24th Century…? Do you know something we don’t?

  • I sense Laxon is being coy here. Someone told the journalista to talk with Laxon. Was Laxon the tellee or was it some CO2 green scare funded PR organisation that brought the two together. Curious minds are curious .. how did this link-up between “science” and “journalism” come about.

  • Data, the peer reviewed publications I read, and logic.

    Which is funny. Because that is exactly why I think melting Arctic ice is of little concern. Why does your analysis trump mine?

    As an argument “data, the peer reviewed publications I read, and logic” lacks anything other than appeals to authority. Most amusingly, apparently we have to take your authority.

    Effectively you’ve turned Laxon’s “trust me, I’m a scientist” into “how dare your think I’m wrong!”.

  • “how dare you think I’m wrong!”.

  • It’s not uncommon for news of astonishing findings to get out before actual publication. All it takes to deal with that is a bit of patience.

    Of course if one is driven by an agenda one may choose to jump up and down and squawk about it in mock indignation.

    Mooloo,

    If you think nothing is going on in the Arctic you have not had even the slightest brush with the data or published science. I’m not making an appeal to authority, I merely haven’t stated my argument which is complex. That’s why I have a blog.

  • I don’t think “nothing is going on”. We all know the world is warming. The issues are the rate, the results and what we should do about it.

    I do think warming isn’t caused primarily by CO2. (If anything it will be soot, changing ground use and the like.)

    I also don’t think the result is likely to be catastrophic. Certainly not for the poor blighters who live anywhere near the Arctic. A bit of warming is just as likely to be beneficial to them.

  • Thanks to Ben and Seymour for at least partially answering some of the questions.
    So it was the journalists that approached him.
    I think the first story was this one on Saturday Aug 11th

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/aug/11/arctic-sea-ice-vanishing

    so it looks like the Guardian (always keen to get a climate scare story) contacted him and then the rest of the media jumped on the bandwagon.

  • Mooloo,

    Black Carbon is interesting, but personally I’m not convinced. It only reduces reflectance by 1 to 5% typically, this is dwarfed by the 20% plus that warming air can cause by surface melt. Furthermore BC in the Arctic has fallen as the ice has receded.
    http://www.atmos-chem-phys-discuss.net/10/12133/2010/acpd-10-12133-2010.pdf

    With regards CO2. Models don’t reproduce the warming of the 1940s or subsequent cooling, but in some model runs such events happen at different times. This supports the interpretation that these events were occurrences of natural variability in the Arctic atmosphere (Bengtsson et al, Jakobsen et al #1). However all models show the warming at the end of the 20th century only when forced with CO2 increases. You can be dismissive of models, but it is inherently improbable that the different models with their different development, architecture, and teams behind them would show this by accident or by design.This strongly suggests that the current warming is due to CO2 increases.

    There are also peripheral evidence strands pointing to CO2, such as the winter thinning of ice off the shores of Siberia.

    As for a catastrophe, I’m not sure I’m the man to argue that with. I’ve previously posted my disagreement with the idea that there will be a rapid (this decade) transition to a seasonally sea ice free state.
    http://dosbat.blogspot.co.uk/2011/07/arctic-sea-ice-free-this-decade.html
    I’ve also expressed my view (in some detail) that we are not on the verge of a rapid degassing of methane. You’ll find the relevant three main posts in February at this link.
    http://dosbat.blogspot.co.uk/2011/07/arctic-sea-ice-free-this-decade.html

    I may need to retract my stated views on a rapid transition, I’ll know better whether I think this is likely by mid September. But I really think it’s wrong to dismiss the risk of serious consequences from what is happening in the Arctic. You don’t have to be a catastrophist or ‘doomer’ to be aware and concerned.

    #1, google “bengtsson et al arctic” without quotations and you should get these two papers paywall free on the front page.

  • Oops, forgot to add – Over and out. I’m rather busy right now, so reply as you see fit.

  • I don’t see the problem. If they see a trend in the data why shouldn’t they report it? It’s been two years now since cryosat2 has been launched

    If you aren’t interested in what they have gleaned so far then don’t listen, but don’t try to silence them so that others (eg me) can’t get a glimpse of this.

    It’s hardly surprising anyway given the fall in piomass and measured extent and area in recent years.

  • Brian. Who says they shouldn’t report it? Who says they should be silenced? What ‘glimpse of this’ (Laxon’s research?) did you think you got?

    You didn’t get one. You didn’t get to see the data he used, you didn’t get to see his methodology. And you didn’t get to read any informed responses to either his analysis of the data, or to interpretations of it.

    Because it wasn’t complete. It wasn’t published. It wasn’t reviewed.

  • I don’t see the problem. If they see a trend in the data why shouldn’t they report it? It’s been two years now since cryosat2 has been launched

    Two years is not a “trend”. Ten years isn’t even a “trend”. I would mark any my students doing time series down quite heavily for suggesting much could be written into such sketchy data.

    Another issue, heavily abused in climate science, is adding data taken from one source onto data taken by another. It is a terrible thing to do unless you have a long period of overlap confirming that they are measuring the same thing in the same way.

    (I might add that I fail any student who makes a statement that has no data presented to support it.)

  • Mooloo says: “Two years is not a “trend”. Ten years isn’t even a “trend”. I would mark any my students doing time series down quite heavily for suggesting much could be written into such sketchy data.”

    I’d mark the teacher down for saying that. There’s no such fixed rule about years and trends. The meaningfulness of a trend depends on the data. A line through “10 years of data”, eg {1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10} does indeed constitute a trend and you can use that as a prediction for the next value.

  • “Brian. Who says they shouldn’t report it? Who says they should be silenced?”

    What are you suggesting other than he should have kept quiet and not told us the result he had found until after he had published it?

    “What ‘glimpse of this’ (Laxon’s research?) did you think you got? You didn’t get one.”

    I did. Perhaps I just have a knack for weighing up scenarios. Given the history of the crysat2 project and how long they’ve been calibrating and looking at the data i consider it likely this announcement will reflect what is eventually published, plus I consider it unlikely the result will be found in substantial error. Therefore I found the information informative. It makes me more confident that arctic sea ice volume has declined in recent years.

  • Brian – “What are you suggesting other than he should have kept quiet and not told us the result he had found until after he had published it?”

    That is categorically not the same as saying that Laxon’s research should be silenced. But the point of the post above is to look more closely at the relationships involved, to suggest that Laxon himself wasn’t the entire story; there was a thirst for the story. Hence the cascade of headlines about some ‘science’. But it wasn’t science.

    Perhaps I just have a knack for weighing up scenarios.

    It seems to me that you’re certainly making it plain that the scenarios exist in your head, independently of ‘science’. And that puts you at the other end of the relationship with Laxon. You can’t say there’s no prejudice in that scenario, when you take something which itself does not exist to be confirmed or denied as confirmation of that scenario.

    So we’re left pondering how a scenario in your head is corroborated by scientific research which does not yet exist. This is the point. Writ large. Laxon’s research confirms a story in the minds of so many journalists. Yet the actual substance of the research has not been revealed. The fidelity of the stories in the heads of journalists to the actual research cannot be established. And we have not yet even begun to consider the fact that nobody can challenge either Laxon’s account of his own research, or anyone’s interpretation of it. Because it does not exist to be examined.

    You seem unable to answer this point. Your scenario may be a perfect reflection of Laxons work, which in turn may be a flawless description of reality. But unless there is some object which we can agree on represents each of these things — i.e. the published research — it is categorically not ‘science’ that has confirmed the story in your head. All you’re saying is ‘I believe Laxon is right’.

  • The meaningfulness of a trend depends on the data. A line through “10 years of data”, eg {1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10} does indeed constitute a trend and you can use that as a prediction for the next value.

    Really? You think that? More fool you then.

    There’s a large number of people who have used that “logic” betting on the stock market, only to come a cropper. A nice linear trend of stock will go suddenly and totally the wrong way, with no apparent warning.

    A trend has no meaning. At best it might reflect a real situation. Until you can pin down the causal factors an extrapolation is basically a guess. We don’t properly understand why Arctic ice melts, so we cannot trust any extrapolation.

    In 2007 we saw Mark Sereze talking about the Arctic ice being in a “death spiral”. Any linear prediction based on the previous years however was completely wrong, as the ice grew for the following three years.

    Now we are, five years later, having an equally low year and the doom mongers are back at it again in force. But there is absolutely nothing preventing the next five years showing a small recovery again. Since historically we know the volume ebbs and flows, there is every reason to suspect it may recover.

  • In 2007 we saw Mark Sereze talking about the Arctic ice being in a “death spiral”. Any linear prediction based on the previous years however was completely wrong, as the ice grew for the following three years.

    What did grow? Extent? That’s just two dimensions. If you take the third dimension into account, thickness, you will quickly see that the Arctic sea ice indeed seems to be in a volume death spiral. This modeled data from PIOMAS is now confirmed by CryoSat-2 observations, but also by the fact that 2007 will be likely surpassed on all graphs from all data sets from all organizations that put out extent and area data, but without the ideal weather conditions that made 2007 such a stunner.

    So if the weather hasn’t been ideal for melting, compacting and transporting, but records are broken nonetheless, what does that say about the thickness of the sea ice?

    This also explains the thirst for the story. What is going on the Arctic, is nothing short of spectacular. The only way one cannot see this is by not knowing anything about it.

  • Neven – What is going on the Arctic, is nothing short of spectacular. The only way one cannot see this is by not knowing anything about it.

    No it isn’t. And it only appeals to environmentalists as ‘spectacular’ because of its remoteness, lifelessness, and because of its mythology of ‘balance’ and stasis. This a priori stuff allows environmentalists to give significance to events in the Arctic, and connect them to the future. This is epitomised by the claims that the extent of Greenland’s surface melt last month were ‘unprecedented’, in spite of precedents.

    But there’s no reason why we shouldn’t expect something as dynamic as ice to behave in the way that has been observed periodically. Melting ice may or may not be significant, or a signified of some problem developing. But what most besets any attempt to make sense of data is the pre-existing narrative which simply joins an episode of melting to ‘we’re doomed’. You think the meting ice is the story. But the interesting thing is in fact the pre-existing narrative, into which stories about melting ice are drip fed. Until it is understood that that narrative exists, and prevents a clear understanding of what’s going on in the Arctic, what is actually going on in the Arctic, and what it means for the future will never be understood by ‘science’.

  • Ben, it very much sounds as if you are excluding the possibility that the rapid disappearance of Arctic sea ice could have consequences that prove costly to human societies, not just in the Arctic. From what you have written so far I get the feeling that you actually do not know all that much about the Arctic or its sea ice, but just fit it into yourpre-existing narrative, which is that it is all hogwash and could never, ever pose a problem.

  • Neven, Ben, it very much sounds as if you are excluding the possibility that the rapid disappearance of Arctic sea ice could have consequences that prove costly to human societies, not just in the Arctic.

    I don’t exclude the possibility at all. In fact, I take care to make sure I add caveats like ‘this is not to say climate change is not happening’ as often as possible. What I do here, and on many many pages on this blog — few of which you’ve seen, according to the server log — is point out that the pre-existing narrative over-emphasises the extent to which society is dependent on natural processes and their stasis. This emphasis — environmental determinism — creates the tendency to see socially contingent things in terms of natural science. Moreover, it is clear that this is political/ideological, and precedes ‘science’.

    I get the feeling that you actually do not know all that much about the Arctic or its sea ice, but just fit it into yourpre-existing narrative, which is that it is all hogwash and could never, ever pose a problem.

    You’re only at best relativising the problem, which won’t get you anywhere. Since I don’t anywhere claim that ‘it’s all hogwash and could never, ever pose a problem’, nor do I even imply it, it would seem that you’re clumsily clutching at straws.

  • So you’re not excluding the possibility that all isn’t hunky dory up North. Great. In that case you must be very happy that Dr. Laxon is already letting us know about his data and we don’t have to wait until a paper is finally accepted and published.

    Because we all want to know how serious the situation in the Arctic is, right? ASAP, right? Especially now that it’s looking like this year will break all the records on all the graphs, without the ideal weather conditions of 2007.

    What I do here, and on many many pages on this blog — few of which you’ve seen, according to the server log

    Indeed this one and the one I commented on yesterday are your only work I’ve seen so far. It’s not a great first impression. But maybe things are better when you write about something you know something about.

    This is as clear a case of environmental politics preceding the science as any other alarmist story.

    Could be, it could also be that the story is indeed alarming. I suggest you look into Arctic sea ice some more. It’s easy to be sanguine when ignorant.

  • Neven – Great. In that case you must be very happy that Dr. Laxon is already letting us know about his data and we don’t have to wait until a paper is finally accepted and published.

    We only have Laxon’s word for what he has claimed his research demonstrates. And we know that the atmosphere through which his words and his work are transmitted precludes taking it at face value — it being so prone to alarmism.

    Whether or not the extent of this years Arctic ice has historical precedents, incautious remarks and speculation from scientists and others about Arctic ice and its significance do have precedents. This alone is good reason to treat Laxon’s words with caution, rather than with excited headlines.

    And if you’re so concerned about the truth of the Arctic ice’s progress and its significance, you should be concerned with correcting premature, alarming and speculative headlines that overstate it. They do far more to damage your own cause than sceptics do.

    I suggest you look into Arctic sea ice some more.

    Each time I have, I have found a different picture to the alarming one reported in the headlines. If you took the time to find out what you were commenting on yourself, you would know that.

    If you look closely at the posts you’re commenting on, you’ll see they followed a discussion with Laxon, and another sea ice specialist. And there are other posts based on discussions with scientists on this blog too. In what sense have I not attempted to find out about the Arctic, and science related to it? The only reason you hold such a view is because you’re ignorant, and not inclined to find out. Physician, heal thyself!

  • Your piece on Clinton wasn’t bad. :-)

    BTW, I’m not an environmentalist. I don’t give a flying f*** about the environment and nature. Unfortunately, human beings and their civilizations seem to be dependent on it. Just like we seem to be dependent on Arctic sea ice. It’s better if it’s there than if it’s not.

    Unfortunately, it seems to be disappearing faster than anyone thought, except for one guessing scientist whose guessing seems to be the most accurate for now (that’s because he was very smart to incorporate something in his model others didn’t). He will probably turn out to be right if we get a summer with 2007 weather conditions in one of the next three melting seasons.

    What all that extra heat that is soaked up by open water and isn’t used to further melt out sea ice, will do next to the glaciers, the atmosphere, the permafrost, the methane, is anyone’s (educated or not) guess. ‘Nothing’ requires quite a stretch of the imagination.

    There’s enough to be alarmed about really. When you think about it. Not in a panic, just alarmed.

  • We only have Laxon’s word for what he has claimed his research demonstrates.

    Wrong. As I’ve said before we have two strong indications that his research – ie CryoSat-2 sea ice thickness observations – will be largely correct. First is the modeled data from PIOMAS. Second is the fact that last year, but even more this year, sea ice extent and area are declining when the weather says they shouldn’t, or at least not so fast. This is very strong evidence that the ice is thinner than ever. Just like Dr. Laxon is saying.

    Whether or not the extent of this years Arctic ice has historical precedents, incautious remarks and speculation from scientists and others about Arctic ice and its significance do have precedents.

    Give the examples. Be sure to give all the context.

    How do you know they were incautious? Or that speculation was unfounded? Could it be that these scientists know much more about it than you, and you just automatically assume that it’s hogwash and what they said will not come about because of your pre-existing narrative?

  • Neven: BTW, I’m not an environmentalist. I don’t give a flying f*** about the environment and nature.

    ‘Caring’ about the environment isn’t what makes you an environmentalist. This does:

    Unfortunately, human beings and their civilizations seem to be dependent on it.

    It’s the idea of dependency which makes you an environmentalist.

    To be more precise, there are many environmentalisms, none of which are very coherent anyway. The one I think you distance yourself from is ‘deep ecology’ — the idea that nature has its own intrinsic value, independently of us. The kind of environmentalism you seem to hold with is what I call ‘metabolic environmentalism’, a bit like the idea of ‘Spaceship Earth’ that developed into its own kind of political ecology in the 70s.

    There’s enough to be alarmed about really. When you think about it. Not in a panic, just alarmed.

    Maybe so. But what I try to point out is that this alarmism seems to be coincident with the ascendency of politics of fear more broadly, and a tendency towards a post-democratic form of politics, legitimised seemingly on the basis of the object of that alarm. The most obvious example is the War on Terror. I don’t think it is a coincidence.

  • It’s the idea of dependency which makes you an environmentalist.

    Yes, I do think that we are dependent on a functioning environment. Thanks for the label.

    To be more precise, there are many environmentalisms, none of which are very coherent anyway.

    True. There aren’t many coherent ideologies anyway, that’s because they are thought up by people. It’s not just restricted to environmentalists.

    Here’s my own go at incoherence. You’ll probably love it.

    The one I think you distance yourself from is ‘deep ecology’ — the idea that nature has its own intrinsic value, independently of us.

    I don’t know if I distance myself from it. But the physical aspect is more than enough for me. The time that it was just about philosophy, spirituality and ethics is over. There’s a physical component now as well.

    Maybe so. But what I try to point out is that this alarmism seems to be coincident with the ascendency of politics of fear more broadly, and a tendency towards a post-democratic form of politics, legitimised seemingly on the basis of the object of that alarm. The most obvious example is the War on Terror. I don’t think it is a coincidence.

    I agree, which is why systemic changes are called for, and not just to greenify everything, where the status quo remains unchallenged, except that the money that goes into the pockets of Big Oil goes into the pockets of Big Wind or Big Nuclear. A lot of parties have jumped on the AGW bandwagon. Unfortunately, AGW seems to be a genuine problem, which the disappearance of Arctic sea ice could soon prove.

    Or not. But as things currently stand, it is not looking good at all. Again, when you think about it.

  • Neven – when you think about it.

    Seriously, how would you know?

  • I can’t know, but I can have a very strong suspicion after having educated myself on the subject for over 3 years.

    Since you’re so incredibly intelligent: why don’t you make an effort and look past the fake skeptic propaganda? Because you clearly never have so far. You don’t have the slightest clue about sea ice volume, and probably don’t even know the difference between sea ice extent and sea ice area.

    Or start for instance with the ‘every 150 years, right on time’-canard that NASA served on a silver platter to those who deny the existence of a potential problem up north. Did 97% of the Greenland Ice Sheet melt every 150 years? So this year, in 1889, around 1739, around 1589, around 1439, etc, etc? Go on, research it, find out when most of those events happened, what caused them, and if that could be the cause of this year’s event.

  • Neven – You don’t have the slightest clue about sea ice volume, and probably don’t even know the difference between sea ice extent and sea ice area.

    It is something I was writing about before you’d even ‘started educating [yourself] on the subject for over 3 years’, young man…

    As Meier reveals, it turns out that counting ice is not quite as straightforward as one might think. The ice thins, but the plot thickens. The NSIDC produce two measures of ice – extent and area. Area is beset by the satellite hardware’s inability to make a distinction between melt water on top of ice, and ice-free open water, and an upgrade in 1987 meant that the area covered introduces an upward error into the data. Extent is calculated by analysing the same source data, but measuring each pixel, and counting the number of 25x25km ‘pixels’ where the coverage of ice is greater than 15%. In other words, it’s not actually counting ice. As the NISDC website informs us:

    The extent values are useful in a temporal series, but caution should be used citing the numbers apart from the time series or comparing with values derived from other studies. Ice concentrations are sensitive to the algorithm used, and resulting numbers for extent depend not only on algorithms but on other processing steps as well. The extent values have uncertain significance when taken individually. For example, the 15% concentration cutoff for extent is somewhat arbitrary. Using a 20% or 30% cutoff will give different numbers, although similar trends, for extent (for examples, see Parkinson et al. 1999).

    http://www.climate-resistance.org/2008/09/the-silly-season%E2%80%99s-soap-opera-ice-storm-in-a-tea-pot.html

  • Haha, thanks for a great explanation of the difference between extent and area. QED. :-D

    It looks like you haven’t come a long way in 4 years. Keep downplaying to the bitter end, please.

  • And it looks like your three years of autodidactism haven’t made you any more able to share the knowledge you have accumulated.

    Indeed, it seems to be the case that those who claim to have accumulated the most knowledge about climate science — Connolley is a fine example, but Lambert perhaps even better — cannot share it gracefully. Perhaps there is something about the knowledge itself that inclines those in possession of it to express themselves in the way most fuckwits on the internet express themselves routinely — the kind that can be found on any internet chat forum. Facts, issued by science, intended to be used in the way a caveman uses a club. ner nerr nerrrr nerrr nerrr, you’re wrong. Nerrr nerrr. Great minds hiding in banal brains. In short, they do a bloody good job of letting their angry prose convince us that they aren’t as confident about their knowledge as they claim.

    Enlighten us. What was wrong with the discussion of the difference between extent and area?

  • Indeed, it seems to be the case that those who claim to have accumulated the most knowledge about climate science — Connolley is a fine example, but Lambert perhaps even better — cannot share it gracefully.

    I would say it depends on who the audience is. Fake skeptics, aka the inconvincible, are very adept at making one lose one’s patience, and then whine about how impolite and rude the experts are. It’s a bit how victim bullies operate.

    I don’t consider myself an expert on anything, but I’m also prone to quickly lose my temper. However, when writing for the Arctic Sea Ice blog I genuinely try to convey what I’ve learned and discuss it with others.

    But hey, this is the Internet. Besides, science is a contact sport. It’s not the Victorian gentlemanly world of good manners and chivalry that fake skeptics portray it to be. It’s tough. It works.

    What was wrong with the discussion of the difference between extent and area?

    Well to start: “an upgrade in 1987 meant that the area covered introduces an upward error into the data” is not a proper sentence. I know what you are trying to say, but the sentence itself is not making sense. ‘Area covered’?

    Extent is calculated by analysing the same source data, but measuring each pixel, and counting the number of 25x25km ‘pixels’ where the coverage of ice is greater than 15%.

    Both area and extent are calculated this way. How do you think area is calculated any differently?

    Instead of pixel I would say grid cell. If the sea ice concentration in a given grid cell is higher than 15% (more than 15% of the grid cell is covered with ice) it gets counted as 100% for sea ice extent. For sea ice area the exact amount is counted. If a grid cell has an ice concentration of below 15% it gets counted as 0% for both area and extent.

    So, if for instance you have three grid cells that measure 25×25 km (ie 625 km2), and they respectively have sea ice concentrations of 10%, 60% and 80%, two of those grid cells would be counted as 100% ice covered for extent, and thus total sea ice extent would be 1250 km2. For area it would be counted as (0.6 x 625) + (0.8 x 625) = 875 km2.

    You were right by saying that extent is more accurate than area during the height of the melting season when insolation causes melt ponds to form on the ice. Those puddles would have to get mighty big to make a grid cell go below 15% ice coverage.

    However, after the height of the melting season, around this time, area conveys a more accurate picture (because melt ponds have either drained or frozen over). Both are useful ways to calculate total ice cover. In fact, dividing one by the other gives you an idea how much melt ponding there is in the first half of the melting season, and how much the ice pack is diverging or compacting towards the end of the melting season.

    In other words, it’s not actually counting ice.

    Counting ice? Again, a strange choice of words that could betray a je-ne-sais-quoi. But I won’t speculate. Maybe you were disappointed that the most important aspect of sea ice wasn’t measured: thickness. Volume measurements are counting all of the ice, not just how much of the Arctic Ocean it covers. If this is so, you must be thrilled by the work of Dr. Laxon. ;-)

    Or ask Steven Goddard about it, he’s the world’s foremost ice expert. And an extremely patient educator, to boot. :-p

  • It’s just nit picking, as I expected.

    Well to start: “an upgrade in 1987 meant that the area covered introduces an upward error into the data” is not a proper sentence. I know what you are trying to say, but the sentence itself is not making sense. ‘Area covered’?

    Yes, it’s a clumsy sentence. It happens. And you successfully recovered the meaning. So far, then, no problem.

    Extent is calculated by analysing the same source data, but measuring each pixel, and counting the number of 25x25km ‘pixels’ where the coverage of ice is greater than 15%.

    Both area and extent are calculated this way. How do you think area is calculated any differently?

    You’re still nit-picking. The passage from the NSIDC you’ve copied and pasted the example from is simply less concise. It’s true that the 15% thresholds apply in both cases, but in the case of extent, the entire grid of >15% is counted as 100% ice, whereas in the calculation of area, the grid is multiplied by the concentration of ice within it.

    Counting ice? Again, a strange choice of words that could betray a je-ne-sais-quoi. But I won’t speculate.

    But you do — you speculated that I didn’t understand the difference between extent and area, chiefly because you haven’t bothered reading anything else on this site. It’s barely evident that you’ve responded at all even to the post above, or the two that precede it. And you were wrong, hence only pedantry and nit-picking come to save the speculation.

    All of which begs the question — to what end? To save Laxon from his lax attitude towards the processes that gave science its authority in the first place? To save the non-existent study that shows the Arctic to be melting faster than we thought — even though many researchers claimed that it would have melted by now? To save the headlines and articles about this portent of doom? Or to save the doomsaying itself — to sustain the story that melting ice is a story that has implications for all our futures?

    If you want to keep on commenting here, please keep it on topic: Laxon’s premature announcement of his incomplete science, and its uncritical reception by alarmist copy-writers.

  • All of which begs the question — to what end?

    To show that you don’t know all that much about Arctic sea ice, but still have very strong opinions about it.

    If you want to keep on commenting here, please keep it on topic: Laxon’s premature announcement of his incomplete science, and its uncritical reception by alarmist copy-writers.

    Look, Arctic sea ice is about to shatter all the records set in 2007 and 2011. It is of paramount importance that we have some tangible evidence that the sea ice is thinner than it has been in the satellite record and quite possibly since the Holocene Climatic Optimum (you know, when all those other events of widespread melting of the GIS happened, that make an average of once every 150 years when in all those thousands of years there were no such events). We have some indications, but observational data – even if not perfect – are highly desirable. We want to know as much as we can, right?

    Laxon’s announcement is much too late, but that’s how things work with validating and calibrating satellite data. His numbers will most probably be correct and that will likely cause another round of media attention. The great thing is that it doesn’t matter one bit whether copy-writers are alarmist or not, the situation in the Arctic is alarming. There’s no need to add or distort, the facts are good as they are.

    You just want to force everybody not to be alarmed. People are not allowed to worry, and that’s why Laxon has to keep his effing observational data to himself, quietly publish, and just shut up. By trying to be the opposite of “alarmist copy-writers” you have in fact become the equivalent.

  • Or let me put it this way:

    I know there isn’t much that could convince you that things currently don’t look so great in the Arctic and that this could have serious repercussions (for humans, not just for cuddly polar bears), but let’s just say that you are convinced that the alarm is justified. How in your opinion should scientists and the media handle that? How should they act any differently than the scientists you frown upon, or disparage even, have been acting in the past couple of years?

  • Neven – To show that you don’t know all that much about Arctic sea ice, but still have very strong opinions about it.

    But you don’t show it. You assert it. Often. Too often.

    I think at the root of your confusion is that you don’t understand how someone can have the same knowledge as you, and yet not be so convinced by it, and its implications and consequences. And so the easiest explanation is that I don’t know, or don’t understand the science. Thus, all that you need to do is to say ‘you don’t understand the science’, and the point has been made.

    If you really want to understand why people form a different view of the world, you have to go about it a different way. Barking ‘you’re wrong’ at people doesn’t help either you to understand, or them to explain; it just draws attention to your own arrogance, and intransigence. Stoat’s page about this blog post is a remarkable collection of such reactions. The latest being someone pointing out my surname, and the consequences of it I must have suffered at primary school (I didn’t). Yep; those are the people with ‘science’ on their side, for sure. No doubt about it.

    A better approach might be to find the actual points of disagreement. You fail to do this in the preceding discussion, because you’re occupied with the idea that Laxon is right — he must be. Whereas a closer reading of the arguments here, in the preceding posts, and at the register, would reveal that the question about the rectitude of Laxon’s work has been bracketed, the emphasis instead being put on the self-evident error of process, and the thirst for the story. You’ve missed the point, it would seem, before you’ve even read the articles in question. And more ridiculously, you can’t even know what Laxon’s study found in any significant detail; you just know that it broadly confirms something about what you think.

    Here’s a shortcut for you. Across the rest of this site are many discussions in which I try to develop the argument that what you (seem to) think are the inevitable consequences of a meting Arctic can be unpacked to reveal a number of presuppositions that are not quite as scientific as you and others claim, and exist in the same category of countless claims from over the last 60 years about our imminent demise. You see, if Laxon’s study hadn’t been released so prematurely, my question about the headlines that would (and shall again in a month or so) follow would be ‘so what’. Once we get past pseudoscience about ‘balance’, ‘tipping points’, and ‘sustainability’, to give the claims some tangible parameters rather than speculation and the precautionary principle — we start to actually find out that the problem of a changed climate is fundamentally a socially contingent (rather than environmentally-determined) problem; we discover that the problem of sea level rise is not quite as immanent as some have claimed. That’s not — again — to say that climate change isn’t a problem that ought not be addressed.

  • What did grow? Extent? That’s just two dimensions. If you take the third dimension into account, thickness, you will quickly see that the Arctic sea ice indeed seems to be in a volume death spiral.

    Extent, area, volume — a shell game played by activists. When one is not alarming, cite the other. Do not mention that only one is measured back to any great distance.

    See also — winds, droughts, floods.

  • Ben, we’re going round in circles (love BTW how you use hundreds of words to prove that AGW will not be a problem, and then end with a sentence that says it could). You’re the one who is showing that his knowledge of Arctic sea ice is very superficial, because if it weren’t, you’d most probably be writing about it in a completely different way.

    Tell you what. I’ll now go back to watching the sea ice and hope all my environmentalist fantasies for a better world come true, and you go back to fighting and ridiculing your perceived enemy, lest someone be alarmed or worried. All is for the best in the meilleur des mondes possibles.

    But first I’ll let you have the last word. It’s your blog after all. Thanks for not snipping or banning me.

  • Neven

    Interesting debate but this strikes me worth upbraiding you over :

    (love BTW how you use hundreds of words to prove that AGW will not be a problem, and then end with a sentence that says it could)

    This happens all the time with a lot of worthy debaters and should be accepted I think. For instance *Richard Dawkins says things like “I say all these things but I could be wrong.” But Dawkins doesn’t spend most of his time to write loads of things showing why he is wrong either – he has the good grace to acknowledge the possibility that is all. I would suggest you don’t pathologies hat tendency.. .;)

    *I can find an example but I badly paraphrase in lieu of being challenged ;)

  • OK I got snipped and probably deserved it, I should never type too far away from a coffee.

    My real point is that your use of the timing and manner of the presentation of Dr Laxon’s work as a valid reason not give the substance and conclusion of his work consideration or respect; I would argue that the timing and presentation, granted possibly premature and possibly unwise, do not in the long run affect the substance and conclusions, and in that regard he and his work should not be dismissed out of hand given the importance of the subject.

    You say we don’t know that he right, so we should not act on his findings; I say we don’t know that he is wrong, so we shouldn’t ignore them. We both don’t know the truth, that is for the future, the difference is in the approach to dealing with the now.

  • One word on taking the word of a scientist before any review is Gergis which passed “peer review and was quickly found wanting in the method of using the data.

  • You say we don’t know that he right, so we should not act on his findings; I say we don’t know that he is wrong, so we shouldn’t ignore them.

    Is this last bit the “precautionary principle” taken to it’s full illogical extreme?

    Go to WattsUpWithThat and you see lots of people inform you – quite definitely – that the result of drastically reducing CO2 emissions will be the collapse of society due to energy poverty. I can’t be sure they are wrong, so by the precautionary principle am I forced to conclude that we must retain the current system, in case they are right?

    The precautionary principle is, frankly, useless in this situation.

  • BillB:

    “Trust Seymour, he’s a scientist”

    (I’m paraphrasing, forgive me)

    He’s also a scientist with less than two years’ worth of Crosat2 data who uses a model as his validation. Science used to be about validating a model with the data. It’s extraordinary how people are prepared to overlook the glaring problems with the post-modern approach.

  • And the punchline: the model Seymour is using to validate the data is… his own model.

  • BillB – My real point is that your use of the timing and manner of the presentation of Dr Laxon’s work as a valid reason not give the substance and conclusion of his work consideration or respect;

    If you’re still reading, Bill… The point made here, and repeated (and repeated and repeated) elsewhere is that ‘the substance and conclusion of his work’ are not available for ‘consideration or respect’. They are not completed. They are not published.

    But the science isn’t even the point, as you would know if you had properly read the above the preceding post and the Spiked article it linked to. The real issue here is the way the putative ‘science’ spoke to existing narratives. An incomplete, un-reviewed and unpublished scientific finding shouldn’t cause any headlines, and normally wouldn’t.

    No doubt you feel that you can make sense of the headlines, and that they have some significance beyond being simply numbers representing some environmental phenomenon or other. As well they might. But the argument here is that the significance of the Arctic ice’s progress this year is given only in the ‘existing narrative’, not in the science. In other words, Laxon’s study relates only to the Arctic, not to anything else. Yet, the dots are joined in the headlines, variously, to give the most alarming possible perspective on the story.

  • Ben said :

    So Laxon’s answer is: do your own science.

    Not exactly. Laxon’s answer is more like “please read Kwok 2009 paper, and if you don’t find that convincing, then please look at the PIOMAS data since then; my paper will combine that data with Cryosat 2 data and reach the same conclusions”.

    Well, did you, Ben ? Did you read Kwok et al 2009 ?

    What did you find in there that contradicts what you call “anatomy of climate alarmism” ?

    Oh, and while we are at it, before you come down on anyone claiming that “Arctic ocean losing 50% more summer ice than predicted”, or other “alarmist” messages, did you check what Arctic sea ice is doing lately ?
    http://www.ijis.iarc.uaf.edu/en/home/seaice_extent.htm
    http://ocean.dmi.dk/arctic/icecover.uk.php
    http://nsidc.org/data/seaice_index/images/daily_images/N_stddev_timeseries.png

    and compare that to the “political” IPCC estimates :
    http://www.realclimate.org/images/seaice10.jpg

    I’m looking forward to you doing at least a minor amount of scientific data checking, and your next post “Nature’s Arctic Alarmism Shows No Sign of Cooling”.

  • Ben said

    William Connolley [ad hominem removed RD] writes at his blog, [ad hominem removed RD] Stoat, that Orlowski and I are ‘stupid’, ‘liars’ and ‘idiots’.

    He then deletes the word ‘stupid’ from my comment there, for its ‘incivility’.

    No, Ben. William did not call you ‘stupid’. In fact, YOU were the one calling him by that word in your very first sentence in your very first post at stoat, which William correctly edited as “incivility”. Why do you turn stuff around ?

  • I’m being forced to explain myself by somebody who thinks comments under blog posts are written before the blog posts.

    You’re right in a sense, though, Rob. My own typo meant I typed ” ‘stupid’, ‘liars’ and ‘idiots’.”, but WC had in fact suggested that we were ‘clueless’, ‘lying’, and ‘idiots’ in the blog post I called ‘stupid’.

    As I pointed out there and here, the awareness of ‘incivility’ only works in one direction. It’s not really ‘incivility’ that bothers WC then.

    As I’ve often pointed out, if there are three things environmentalists don’t understand it is logical and historical precedence, and the principle of adhering to the standards they set for the rest of the world. You got all three in so few words, Rob, I think you probably deserve some kind of prize.

  • [BORING INCIVILITY REDACTED]

  • [BORING INCIVILITY REDACTED]

  • Environmentalists have such astronomical double standards. I no longer think it can be coincidental.

    They also seem to get annoyed by being made to hold themselves to the same standards. In this case the morons from WC’s site that come here seem to have been upset by it being pointed out that Laxon’s research was incomplete, unreviewed and unpublished — tests of scientific arguments that they usually set for sceptics. It doesn’t matter, they say ‘because it’s true’. And in the same way, it doesn’t matter if they fling ad homs, or fail to engage in debate, ‘because its true’. In other words ‘we believe it’. Once you believe something, it seems, you no longer have to understand what someone else’s argument is, the truth of your own perspective means it works against anything.

    Connolley’s bores want to talk about science, they say. But they forget it doesn’t exist.

  • @ Black Briton, that’s an interesting article – I particularly liked the hurried switch, in the press release, from “unprecedented” to “very unusual”!

    When hunting around for alarming ice articles on the BBC News website, I found this video from 2007 (video link is very long but you can click through at the top right of the web page, on “What the scientists have discovered”):
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4228411.stm#

    It’s only 1 minute 45 seconds but look at the impressive number of boxes it manages to tick – Antarctica in danger (“vast stretches of ice” being lost over the past 50 years), the Arctic also feeling the heat (“icebergs are breaking up faster than ever”), polar bears “could become extinct” and penguins also “in decline” and “losing their habitat”.

    My favourite bit is at 00:45: “The continent has already lost vast stretches of ice in the last 50 years. If it melted completely, that could raise global sea levels dramatically”. Christine McGourty is talking about all of Antarctica melting! Now, she’s not saying this will happen any time soon. But she’s not saying it won’t, either.

    Contender for most efficiently alarming ice-melt news item ever?

  • “Environmentalists have such astronomical double standards.”

    Feel free to define ‘environmentalist’.

  • JBowers: Feel free to define ‘environmentalist’.

    Feel free to explore the rest of the blog, where I do precisely that over ~500 posts.

    But keep your CiF-troll mode of ‘argument’ to yourself, Jake.

  • So you can’t even define ‘environmentalist’? Sounds like a convenient glib generalism.

  • J Bowers – So you can’t even define ‘environmentalist’? Sounds like a convenient glib generalism.

    It would seem that you cannot read – I told you that the entire blog is about defining environmentalism. And from the server log, I can see that you haven’t followed the advice at all, having only read this page.

    I can’t help such ignorance. But I can say, again, that CiF-sniper-trolling is not welcome here. Moreover, I wouldn’t expect a much more considered response than you have given from founder members of Earth First!.

    If you can overcome your inner troll, you’re welcome to stay and disagree with what is written here. But if you’re going to continue on that childish tack that afflicts so many internet environmentalists, you can go and waste your time at CiF — which seems to have been your permanent home for the last half decade.

  • For J Bower’s benefit, some posts that most directly attempt to ‘define environmentalism’ from this year —

    http://www.climate-resistance.org/2012/05/letting-the-precautionary-principle-genie-out-of-the-gmnuclear-bottle.html
    http://www.climate-resistance.org/2012/05/inconvenient-environmentalists.html
    http://www.climate-resistance.org/2012/05/rio-20-spiked.html
    http://www.climate-resistance.org/2012/04/the-royal-society-takes-another-step-away-from-science.html
    http://www.climate-resistance.org/2012/04/green-is-going-mouldy.html
    http://www.climate-resistance.org/2012/04/the-reformation-of-environmentalism-part-2.html
    http://www.climate-resistance.org/2012/04/nature-surfeit-disorder.html
    http://www.climate-resistance.org/2012/03/shrinking-the-sceptics.html
    http://www.climate-resistance.org/2012/03/science-is-believing.html
    http://www.climate-resistance.org/2012/02/engineering-humans.html
    http://www.climate-resistance.org/2012/01/the-the-end-is-nigh-genre.html
    http://www.climate-resistance.org/2012/01/moonbat-still-at-it.html

    If J Bowers took it upon himself to discover what it is he is ranting against, he would discover that I believe the following about environmentalism:

    * “environmentalism is ‘ideological’, but it is not a concrete political doctrine, such as Marxism”
    * “environmentalism is not a mass movement, and has failed to build one”
    * “it is a political phenomenon”
    * “it is a constellation of phenomena, and ideas, many of them in contradiction and conflict”
    * “nonetheless, it has certain characteristics”
    * “environmentalism is a politics of fear”
    * “environmentalism is a politics that exists apart from the demos”

    J Bowers coming here to say that I haven’t attempted to form a definition of environmentalism is a bit like someone turning up at Real Climate to complain that they don’t talk about climate science. He may well disagree with my attempt to define environmentalism, but he can’t say it doesn’t exist.

    That intellectual dishonesty, the failure to understand the argument, and the contempt for debate is also a defining characteristic of environmentalists, if not environmentalism. As I pointed out in my review of Mark Lynas’s The God Species,

    … the green movement has never really been united by a coherent perspective that could withstand criticism with confidence. Instead, it has been more easily characterised as intransigent, its critics simply dismissed as ‘deniers’ funded by big business. Environmentalism, ignorant to criticism, has thus developed inside an insular, self-regarding bubble. Perhaps only someone from within it could prick that bubble, revealing to its members what those outside it have been telling them for decades.

  • Ummm, sorry, but they’re not definitions, they’re just rants against a word.

  • Ummm, sorry, but they’re not definitions, they’re just rants against a word.

    Troll.

  • Environmentalism — especially of the ‘activist’ kind — is an expression of alienation. It’s not surprising then, that environmental activists are so incapable of communicating. If one thinks about it, direct action is precisely a demonstration of narcissistic frustration: the world doesn’t pay sufficient attention to the trolls, who remonstrate with the world by having a tantrum.

    Bowers demonstrates the intransigence exquisitely — it’s not simply that environmentalists will brook no dialogue; they cannot. They are fully anti-socialised. Thus when they appear in public, their stunts only serve to isolate themselves further. Think ‘Splattergate’.

    The origins of this tendency have been argued about at length on this blog. I’ve argued it is a social phenomenon, whereas others are of the mind that psychoanalysis can offer some insight.

    There is a third possibility: that we’ve over theorised it, and environmentalists like JB are just pricks.

  • Troll J Bowers has visited this site six times. And of the pages I suggested he visited, he actually visited none of them, according to the server log.

    scienceblogs.com/stoat/2012/08/16/more-weird-sea-ice-stuff/
    25 Aug 14:32:16
    Seymour (K)Laxon Headlines » Climate Resistance

    http://www.climate-resistance.org/2012/08/seymour-headlines.html
    25 Aug 14:36:51
    Seymour (K)Laxon Headlines » Climate Resistance

    http://www.climate-resistance.org/2012/08/seymour-headlines.html
    25 Aug 17:27:57
    Seymour (K)Laxon Headlines » Climate Resistance

    http://www.climate-resistance.org/2012/08/seymour-headlines.html
    25 Aug 17:30:22
    Seymour (K)Laxon Headlines » Climate Resistance

    scienceblogs.com/stoat/2012/08/16/more-weird-sea-ice-stuff/
    25 Aug 19:04:54
    Seymour (K)Laxon Headlines » Climate Resistance

    http://www.climate-resistance.org/2012/08/seymour-headlines.html
    25 Aug 19:06:31
    Seymour (K)Laxon Headlines » Climate Resistance

    Heaven forfend that he should actually attempt to understand what he is ranting against — he might learn something on the way that threatens his fragile self. The thousands of comments at CiF, each of them moments of a wasted life. Day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year… The same tired tropes, and same spiteful invective, the arguments never developing, the insight never deepening… This is why environmentalists can’t do dialogue. To commit themselves to dialogue is to submit to the possibility that should have to convince the world they are right, rather than just entitled to be seen as such.

  • Whatever. Carry on with your climate “resistance”. How you “resist” climate is a bit of a bizarre one.

    “Heaven forfend that he should actually attempt to understand what he is ranting against”

    Accusation in a mirror. Have fun.

  • A graceless exit…

    How you “resist” climate is a bit of a bizarre one.

    He didn’t stick around long enough to find out. He didn’t even look.

    There have been a number of trolls come over from William Connolley’s site now. And each seem incapable — much as WC himself — of understanding the words in front of their eyes, much less opening their argument in a way that would invite a considered reply. What does filter through merely triggers the identical response in each case: “the science”. Even when “the science” is conspicuously absent — that being the point of the above post — it is still “the science” that the trolls will assert vanquishes any argument.

    Accusation in a mirror.

    It is remarkable, isn’t it, that even after the posts needed to understand the argument made on this blog are laid out in front of him, and the point is made that he hasn’t read them, and then he doesn’t read them, he should then say ‘same to you’.

    How would he know?

  • [BORING INCIVILITY REDACTED]

  • Environmentalists’ sense of entitlement knows no limit. Rob Dekker writes:

    I just visited (and read) all of the links that you gave in response to Bowers’ question to define “environmentalist”. You an check your server logs on that, and if I missed one, then let me know, OK ?

    Now, I hate to inform you, but Bowers seems to be right. In none of the links you provided did you define “environmentalist”.

    Here is the server log of Rob’s visit:

    26 Aug 10:36:33 – Letting the Precautionary Principle Genie out of the GM/Nuclear Bottle » Climate Resistance
    26 Aug 10:37:57 – Moonbat — still at it… » Climate Resistance
    26 Aug 10:38:42 – The the-End-is-Nigh Genre » Climate Resistance
    26 Aug 10:39:14 – Inconvenient Environmentalists » Climate Resistance
    26 Aug 10:41:32 – Rio + 20, Spiked » Climate Resistance
    26 Aug 10:42:03 – The Royal Society Takes Another Step Away from Science » Climate Resistance
    26 Aug 10:43:18 – Green is Going Mouldy » Climate Resistance
    26 Aug 10:44:17 – The Reformation of Environmentalism – Part 2 » Climate Resistance
    26 Aug 10:45:06 – Nature Surfeit Disorder » Climate Resistance
    26 Aug 10:46:05 – Shrinking the Sceptics » Climate Resistance
    26 Aug 10:48:55 – Science *is* Believing » Climate Resistance
    26 Aug 10:50:01 – Engineering Humans » Climate Resistance
    26 Aug 10:50:42 – The the-End-is-Nigh Genre » Climate Resistance
    26 Aug 10:51:35 – Moonbat — still at it… » Climate Resistance

    He may well have clicked on all the pages. But we can see he reads them at a rate of about 1 a minute. He posts his comment at 11.07.

    But there are 25,000 words across those pages. So in the course of 30 minutes, he reads 25,000 words and responds. I think we can correctly guess why he has such trouble understanding the argument he is attempting to respond to.

    The best sense I think we can make out of Rob’s comment is that he searched for the text ‘an environmentalist is…’, and not finding it, determines that I do not attempt a definition of ‘environmentalist’. So we cannot say that his phenomenal reading speed is matched by intellectual capacity.

    Over at Connolley’s blog, Rob whinges about my “redacting legitimate arguments”. The issue here is that environmentalists such as he simply feel that they are right, and that anything they can think of vindicates them. And ‘vindication‘ is the important word here. It’s this baseless triumphalism which speaks — screams — most loudly about what is going on inside their heads. It’s not the argument which is seeking vindication, it is the self.

    The problem for environmentalists is the same as for infants: perspective. They cannot conceive of any other perspective even existing, much less being legitimate. This is of course owed to their alienation. After all, it’s not hard to see the extent to which environmentalists have internalised the climate debate. Anxiety about the end of the world is a reflection of personal anxiety about their place within it. Just as a toddler cannot tell the difference between his failure to assert his will on the world and the end of the world, environmentalists’ shrill moralism is a no more than a cascade of special pleading and attention-seeking that puts them in the centre of everything — when they’re not, it seems as though the world will end. Pathological trolling.

    As infants develop an understanding of other minds, they learn to negotiate their will and perspective with them. Environmentalists’ inability to understand the formation of perspective in others (see the latest blog post for an example) might suggest that environmentalists suffer from some kind of developmental disorder. Yes, I’m being facetious, but it really does seem to be the case that environmentalists seem to be incapable of negotiation. As someone who has been arguing about the environment on the internet since it began, and from both ‘sides’ of the argument (as a boy and very young man, I was quite a green until I read Lomborg and Philip Stott), I don’t notice any development in the character of environmentalists. Their intransigence persists, and extends well beyond the confines of the internet.

    It’s not true of all ‘environmentalists’, of course. Many are keen on debate, and for the right reasons. These reasonable environmentalists will discuss the merits of the arguments across the debate, regardless of their authors’ broader perspective. But look what happens when they do. The angry environmentalists will turn on them. The most interesting example being Mark Lynas’ and Monbiot’s conversion to advocates of nuclear power. But even when one of the newly pro-nuclear couple — ‘Chernobyl death-deniers’, as they are now known to their erstwhile comrades — dares to suggest that GM might offer some potential, Monbiot is quick to turn on his partner, to accuse him of being a ‘corporate shill’. And so it is with Connolley, who has paid this little blog no attention in the five years it has been running. So what has upset him all of a sudden? Says WC:

    People want to talk about sea ice, clearly. I still have nothing interesting to say about it, so instead, lets start off at KK‘s, who parrots the odd assertion that there are “Plenty of stories in media with just one scientist, and no counter view at all“. Which in turn is some septic whinging that he doesn’t have a clue about sea ice.

    ‘KK’ refers to Keith Kloor, who is pretty much a ‘green’, though one who, like Pielke Jr. and Lomborg sees the excesses of the environmental movement for what they are, and don’t mind saying so. It seems that what has pissed Connolley off is the idea that Kloor should dare to link to the argument in this post, and to say it might have a point. Similarly, this blog received attention from the angry environmentalists after Judith Curry picked up on a comment about the reinvention of the precautionary principle back in June. The same thing happened — individuals who have never previously taken an interest in the blog, suddenly descend, taking no interest in the broader analysis here, nor even in the argument offered, to turn it into a flame war. And it would seem that they belong to quite a small group. J Bowers, for instance, apart from being involved in establishing Earth First in the UK (I am led to understand), has dominated almost every CiF discussion about the environment for years. Willlard (who trolled on the post about the precautionary principle) posts at http://planet3.org, alongside Neven, who posts comments (somewhat more reasonably than his colleague, but who still misses the point) above.

    The very idea that there should even be a discussion between environmentalists and critics of environmentalism seems to be what the angry environmentalist finds offensive. Because to engage in such a discussion would seem to admit that there was something wrong with the environmental perspective: that it might at times lose a sense of proportion, and be prone to alarmism, and that these things can be dangerous. Thus the level of debate is lowered, away from the issue at hand, to any number of deviations as trivial as spelling mistakes and typos. The only thing that doesn’t get discussed is the substance of the actual argument which first drew the attention of the angry environmentalists’ more reasonable colleagues. The result is a debate which descends to the level of the angry troll, because angry trolls can only argue with what they mistake the argument to be, not what it actually is. We can see this in the wider debate: any criticism of climate policy becomes framed as the continuation of a debate between ‘scientists’ and people who ‘deny climate change science’, at the expense of an understanding of the actual arguments being made. It is as if the only reason anyone could be critical of environmentalism or environmental policy is that they deny climate change. The angry trolls want to sustain that view.

  • Wow, BP. Lots of ranting, still no substance. Did you ever read the papers Dr. Laxon suggested? My bet is no. I also think that even if you had read them, you wouldn’t have understood them. Just keep writing about how environmentalists act out of a sense of alienation — real illuminating that.

  • A friend of mine who is a journalist for an international news organisation told me yesterday that the large news websites deliberately troll their own comments sections in order to drive up advertising revenue (this might be common knowledge but it supprised me).

    It’s a shame you don’t have any adverts, since the trolling has come here!

  • Well Ben it’s 0ct. 2013 and I just read the National Snow and Ice Center report and it looks as any projections that were presumed (which Laxon warned against doing) appear to be occurring. It’s not much about ice extent but about the condition of the ice. Taken from http://www.nsidc.org...

    “While multiyear ice used to cover up to 60% of the Arctic Ocean, it now covers only 30%. There is a slight rebound in the oldest ice (4+ years old), a remnant of the large amount of first-year ice that formed during the winter after the 2007 record minimum. However, most of that new ice has not survived through the subsequent years. The oldest ice now comprises only 5% of the ice in the Arctic Ocean. This is a slight uptick from last winter’s record low of 3%, but still far less than during the 1980s when old ice covered roughly 25% of the region.”

    Seymour Laxon was just calling it as it was presenting. I don’t see that as “alarmist” You and your ilk are more of alarmists with you campaigns of denial.You people work really hard to shout down other’s voices so that you can keep your heads in he sand. It’s really to bad that Seymour Laxon and Katherine Giles had to lose their lives over this

  • As sad as the deaths of Laxon and Giles were, implying they had to do with climate science and were not terrible accidents is pretty odd.
    Implying that asking reasonable questions about work that turned out to be utter garbage is some sort of ‘campaign of denial’ is low class.

  • social empires triche carries a significant role in National Culture.

    Many individuals can often be viewed enjoying
    pursuits regarding social empires hack.

    Look at my website social empires cheats

  • Wilt u een goede deal te krijgen uit dit artikel dan moet je dergelijke strategieën toepassen op
    uw gewonnen webpagina.

  • Its like you read my mind! You appear to know so much about this, like you wrote the
    book in it or something. I think that you can do with some
    pics to drive the message home a bit, but instead of that, this is great blog.
    A great read. I’ll certainly be back.

  • On October 5, 1995 after four hours of deliberation the jury delivered a not guilty verdict.

    Only Paris Hilton got a judge who was willing to make an example of her.
    The Associated Press reports that the Federal Bureau of Investigations arrested a suspect
    at O’Hare airport.

    my web page … 7 päivää tarjous [Veta]

  • The climate obsessed are the first to demand “peer review” as the standard by which to comment credibly on climate issues.
    Yet here is a major science figure running out sans peer review or even final results and making big headlines. And his defense is “do your own work and leave me alone”.
    No wonder fewer and fewer people are buying into the claims of the climate obsessed.

  • It can significantly increase cardio respiratory fitness.

    Some parts of exercise gear claim to work all of your sinew assemblies,
    but this is not simply possible. ” As a result of the fact that physical education programs are being cut, the U.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Post archive
  • 2014
  • 2013
  • 2012
  • 2011
  • 2010
  • 2009
  • 2008
  • 2007
  • 2006
  • 2002