by Judith Curry
How has the terrain of the climate blogosphere changed over the past 5 years?
Well, the Xmas and other winter holidays season is upon us. Not much going on in terms of news related to climate and etc. So over the holiday season, the fare will be a bit lite.
A few recent tweets triggered the idea for a discussion thread on the climate blogosphere and how it has changed over the past 5 years (e.g. post Climategate).
Here are some of my own reflections on the climate blogosphere
Remember when RealClimate ‘ruled’? And blogs like DeSmog, DeepClimate, Stoat, Deltoid, Rabbett Run ‘mattered’? As per Alexa, traffic on those blogs have seriously diminished.
RealClimate is in substantial transition: Ten Years of RealClimate: Where now? They are looking for new bloggers, as Mann, Gavin and others are moving away from blogging. Well good luck to them, I hope they are able to entrain some new scientists to engage in blogging. Their challenge is to avoid scientific bias.
I have a story to relate in this regard. During summer of 2011, I attended the annual Google SciFoo. Michael Mann was there. A female climate scientist (more of a social scientist) approached me and related a conversation that she had with Michael Mann, who was discussing the need at RealClimate for a female blogger. She told me I would be great, and did I want her to put my name forward to Michael Mann. I laughed and told her I figured that I was the reason Mann thought RC needed a female blogger, to help counter the impact that Climate Etc. was having.
The big gorilla blog on the warm side has become Skeptical Science. I am not a fan. This article by Bishop Hill sums it here, where BH relates a story of hypocrisy about Dana Nuccitelli who wrote a scathing review of the Hockey Stick Illusion on amazon.com, then subsequently remarked that he hadn’t read the book.
The most interesting new blog on the warm side is And Then There’s Physics. The subtitle of the blog is Trying – and sometimes failing – to keep things civil. Some of the posts are technical, but others discuss deniers, 97%, climate ball etc. Same perspective as SkS, but much better. The comments are relatively civil but very heavily moderated. Some interesting people go over there to comment, and ATTP is active on twitter (where he is rather uncivil).
The skeptics blogs continue to thrive post ClimateGate, and there have been a number of new technical blogs, e.g. Clive Best and Troy Masters among others.
More climate scientists now have blogs, discussing mostly their own research. Doug McNeall has compiled a list of blogs from working scientists [link]. From this list I follow Ed Hawkins, Tamsin Edwards and Isaac Held. Note, McNeall describes Climate Etc. in this way:
Useful but sometimes frustratingly information-free aggregator.
Huh? Well, interesting that Climate Etc. even made the cut – Roy Spencer did not.
The two most interesting new group blogs are Climate Dialogue and Climate Change National Forum.
I am a huge fan of Climate Dialogue, and have featured a number of their posts at Climate Etc. This is absolutely the best of the climate science blogosphere, I only wish the posts were more frequent. As per my discussions with one of the CD principals, the challenge is finding scientists that support the consensus who will actually engage in dialogue with scientists that are challenging the consensus.
Climate Change National Forum is new, and it has more than 20 member scientists (including myself). John Nielsen-Gammon is the originator of the concept. The web site is slick, albeit a bit difficult to navigate. I’m still not sure what to make of the CCNF. As far as I can tell, I am the only member that challenges the consensus. The quality of many of the contributions is not very high in my opinion. But I think the concept is a good idea, and I will continue my low-level involvement.
Climate psychology is a new topic for the climate blogosphere. On the warm side there is climate denial.org and climatepsychology.org (both of these blogs leave me either scratching my head or rolling my eyes. On the rational skeptic side, we have have Joe Duarte, who has been mentioned in several CE blog posts. Dan Kahan’s Cultural Cognition is superb.
On twitter, there has recently been much discussion of 2012 post Climate Trolls – An Illustrated Bestiary. The beasts include Galileo Gambiter, Auditor, Sanctity of Science concern troll, Not the IPCCer, the Faux Skeptic, the Uncertainyy Monster monster, the Avenger, the Gish Galloper, Hockey Goon, Conspiracy Theorist, Right Wing Ideologue, Breakthrough Boys. The favorite blogs of these trolls are Climate Etc., WUWT, Climate Audit, Roger Pielke Jr., ScienceBlogs.com, BishopHill, Bjorn Lomborg. You would be surprised at the scientists on twitter who thought this analysis was spot on; ATTP was the one who originally posted on twitter.
Real trolling is described in this Wired article Why the trolls always win.
The so-called climate trolls are people trying to have a discussion about complex controversial topics.
Sure there are obnoxious people in the climate blogosphere, but ‘obnoxious’ is in the eye of the beholder. Dismissing anyone who disagrees with you as a troll is a recipe for worse than groupthink.
The climate blogosphere is evolving in interesting ways, and I think the diversity of the climate blogosphere is very helpful and healthy both for promoting scientific as well as policy debate on the complex topic of climate change.
I look forward to your comments, as well as your suggestions for additional blogs that are worth reading.
My very best wishes to you for the holidays!