by Judith Curry
Here are a few things that caught my eye this past week.
On the roots of famine in Somalia
Andy Revkin has a very interesting post entitled “A Climate Scientist’s View of a Famine’s Roots.”
He notes that politics and the lack of governance are prime drivers of the Somali famine. But he also asserts that over-reliance on the 2007Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change analysis of impacts in Africa — which projected more rain in East Africa in a warming world, not less — lulled some agencies into discounting drought risks there.
“Better regional climate-change and forecast models, combined with more effective agriculture in drought-threatened areas will not solve all problems, but they should reduce the need for emergency responses, and make such measures more effective when they are necessary,” he concludes.
Of course, none of these steps will be of much use for the suffering people of southern Somalia as long as extremist, exploitative warlords rule their lives.
John Mashey strikes back
The Chronicle has posted a response from John Mashey to Peter Wood’s climate thuggery post. Mashey’s post is entitled “Bottling nonsense, misusing a civil platform.” I tried to find a punch line to excerpt, but this paragraph provides the flavor:
Wood’s article misused the platform of CHE. Its relevance to the concerns of CHE was minimal. It had little purpose but to damage the reputation of one of us, John Mashey, and the climate scientist Michael Mann, whom Wood has often denigrated elsewhere. The political false-association tactics were obvious. Climate scientists are under incessant attack, a fact strongly decried the day before Wood’s article by the AAAS Board. The muddy battlefield of blogs and media has now arrived on the CHE premises, easily seen in the comments.
“Solving” the cool dude problem
If you liked the cool dudes discussion, you will find entertaining David Robert’s latest post “How do you solve a problem like conservative white men?” An excerpt:
The question remains: What should we do about it? The denialism or indifference of CWM toward climate is a huge barrier to getting anything done. In this post, I’m going to argue that the typical strategies are doomed to failure. It may be that the simplest, least clever strategy — kick their asses — is still the way to go.
In the end, everyone has to make their own bet. Do you make progress by attempting to please the Very Serious People running the system or by speaking truth to power and subverting the system? For my part, when I see people denying facts and bullying scientists in order perpetuate the dominance of fossil fuel interests that are killing people and threatening my children’s futures, I am inclined to tell them to go f*ck themselves. That won’t resonate with their social/tribal perspectives, but that’s because I find their social/tribal perspectives repugnant and worthy of social censure. I want to beat them.
Well, good luck (not really), that isn’t going to work. I thought Scott Denning had the best “solution” to dealing with white male conservatives.
On Gore’s perspective on the media
The Yale forum has an interesting article on Al Gore’s recent Rolling Stone essay, entitled “Al Gore, in Rolling Stone, Mocks the Media: A Justified Takedown, or an Outdated View?” A thoughtful article.
A study of Green Ads 2005-2010
Another interesting article from the Yale forum: “A Yale analysis suggests major advertisers closely tracked public opinion on climate change, with ‘green’ ads peaking in 2008-09 and returning to ‘background’ levels in 2010.”
Why the change? By the end of 2009, the conference in Copenhagen had failed to deliver any meaningful action on climate change, the controversy over hacked e-mails had reached full boil, and the Northeast had experienced an attention-getting snowstorm. Again likely in anticipation of rather than in response to rising negative coverage, companies backed away from “climate change.”
Hulme on the IPCC
Mike Hulme has a commentary published in the latest issue of Nature Climate Change, entitled “Meet the Humanities.” He has several comments about the IPCC that are worth posting and discussing:
Over it s 23-year history, the IPCC has been presented as the authoritative voice of climate science and the global knowledge community. How the idea of climate change is framed by the IPCC therefore carries enormous significance for the subequent direction, tone and outcome of policy and public debates.
Finally, knowledge assessments, as exemplifed by the IPCC, need a fundamental re-think. Crafting increasingly consensual reports of scientific knowledge, or levering more engineering and technology, will alone never open up pathways from research to the public imagination or the execution of policy. It is not too soon to start a conversation about whether the world in 2020 reallyneeds a sixth assessment report from the IPCC that merely echoes the previous five, or whether there needs to be something fundamentally different. Although it is valuable to have a singe, global-level, government-owned assessment of how climate is changing, for designing adaptation and mitigation interventions, it would be more valuable to have regional-level, non-governmental assessments with locally developed protocols that are sensitive to cultural conditions.
The postivist disciplines are ill-suited to engaging with and articulating the deeper human search for values, purpose and meaning –and yet this search is exactly where humanity’s new entanglement with global climate is taking us. To shed new light on the multiple meanings of climate change in diverse cultures, and to create new entry points for policy innovation, the interpretative social sciences, arts and humanities need new spaces for meeting as equals with the positivist sciences.