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As a science communicator, I found this fascinating.
The following is an email that was sent in 2003 by a very senior
scientist, Stephen Schneider, to a long list of other senior
scientists about an article in a newspaper by an economist. Read it
and see what you think of the economist, Ross McKitrick at the
Hello all. Ah ha-the latest idiot-McKitrick-reenters the scene. He
and another incompetent had a book signing party at the US
Capitol-Mike MacCracken went and he can tell you about it-last
summer. McKitrick also had an article-oped, highly refereed of
course-in the Canadian National Post on June 4 this year. Here is
the URL that worked back then:
It was a scream. He argued there is no such thing as global
temperature change, just local-all natural variablity mostly. To
prove this he had a graph of temperature trends in Erie
Pennsylvania for the past 50 years (this is from memory) which
showed a cooling. THat alone proves nothing, but when reading the
caption I noticed the trend was for temperature in October and
November!! So one station for two months consitituted his
"refutation" of global warming-another even dumber than Lomborg
economist way out of depth and polemicizing. I showed it to a class
of Stanford freshman, and one of them said: "I wonder how many
records for various combinations of months they had to run through
to find one with a cooling trend?" THe freshman was smarter than
this bozo. It is improtant to get that op-ed to simply tell all
reporters how unbelievably incompetent he is, and should not even
be given the time of day over climate issues, for which his one
"contribution" is laughably incompetent. By the way, the
Henderson/Castles stuff he mentions is also mostly absurd, but that
is a longer discussion you all don't need to get into-check it out
in the UCS response to earlier Inhofe polemics with answers I gave
them on Henderson/Castles if you want to know more about their bad
economics on top of their bad climate science
My latest Mind and Matter column for the Wall Street Journal is
about the possibility that big meteorites can trigger volcanic
About 65 million years ago, the dinosaurs and maybe two-thirds of
all other species suddenly died out. For three decades, the
dominant explanation for this mass extinction has been that it was
probably caused by the impact of a large meteorite.
A layer of iridium-rich rock from roughly the right date is the
fingerprint that convicted this extraterrestrial killer (iridium is
more common in space than in the Earth's crust). Even the bullet
hole has apparently been found in the shape of a 110-mile-diameter
crater called Chicxulub off the coast of Mexico. The explosion
would have been the equivalent of two million hydrogen bombs.
My latest Mind and Matter column from the Wall Street
Earthquakes are natural disasters. However much culpability there
is afterward about the building standards that may have worsened
the death toll or the response of the emergency authorities, nobody
is to blame for the actual shock.
At least, not normally. An exception is the phenomenon of "induced
seismicity," whereby human activity such as geothermal energy
projects, mining, gas drilling or the filling of reservoirs
apparently sets off swarms of very small earthquakes where there
are susceptible geological faults and in certain kinds of
A recent report from the U.S. Geological Survey concludes, for
example, that a nearby shale gas well probably caused a swarm of 43
very small earthquakes (largest magnitude, 2.8) in Garvin County,
Okla., last January. A few hours before the quakes began, the well
had ceased hydraulic fracturing or "fracking": that is, injecting
high-pressure water into the ground to crack deep rocks.
interview I did for the Globe and Mail in Toronto during my
recent visit to Canada.
Joanne Nova has a really fine essay on Naomi Klein. This is
great writing, easily as fluent as Klein herself, only rational. An
By building her whole argument on un-scientific quicksand, Klein
makes mindless statements that unwittingly apply more to her own
arguments than anyone elses. She explores "how the right has
systematically used crises-real and trumped up-to push through a
brutal ideological agenda designed not to solve the problems that
created the crises but rather to enrich elites."
No one uses trumped-up-crises better than the left: Which team is
demanding billions to "stop the storms"? And which elites will be
enriched? The carbon traders and financiers.
My latest Wall Street Journal Mind and Matter column:
The list of scientific heretics who were persecuted for their
radical ideas but eventually proved right keeps getting longer.
Last month, Daniel Shechtman won the Nobel Prize for the discovery
of quasicrystals, having spent much of his career being told he was
"I was thrown out of my research group. They said I brought shame
on them with what I was saying," he recalled, adding that the doyen
of chemistry, the late Linus Pauling, had denounced the theory with
the words: "There is no such thing as quasicrystals, only
Latest Mind and Matter column in the Wall Street Journal:
"You can't change human nature." The old cliché draws support from
the persistence of human behavior in new circumstances.
Shakespeare's plays reveal that no matter how much language,
technology and mores have changed in the past 400 years, human
nature is largely undisturbed. Macbeth's ambition, Hamlet's
indecision, Iago's jealousy, Kate's feistiness and Juliet's love
are all instantly understandable.
Recently, however, geneticists have surprised themselves by
finding evidence of recent and rapid changes in human genomes in
response to the pressures of civilization. For example, fair skin
allows more absorption of the sun's ultraviolet rays necessary for
the skin to make vitamin D. So when the northern Europeans, living
in a climate with little sunshine, started to farm wheat, a food
low in vitamin D, they evolved fair skin to compensate and get more
of the vitamin.
There's a fine article at Spiked by Tim Black exposing
what Robert* Malthus actually said. Malthus was a reactionary
nostalgic pessimist who was not just wrong about population growth
outstripping food supply. He was also wrong in his cynicism about
helping the poor lest they breed more.
(*Everybody calls him Thomas these days, whereas his
contemporaries all called him Robert, which was his second name.
Calling him Thomas is like calling the first director of the FBI
Mylecture on scientific heresyto the RSA
this week has been reprinted onbishop-hill.netandwattsupwiththat.com, where it has
generated much discussion. Thanks to Andrew Montford and Antony
Watts for their interest.