The Island of Doubt

Freelance science journalist and communications consultant

Quote of the day

From NASA climatologist Gavin Schmidt, in the Washington Post, discussing the value of computer climate models: If the models are as flawed as critics say, Schmidt said, “You have to ask yourself, ‘How come they work?’ ” Indeed. Also of note is a comment from someone who doesn’t share Schmidt’s confidence: Warren Meyer, a mechanical…

Paul Krugman’s feature in the New York Times covers it all. If you haven’t familiarized yourself with the subject, then find 15 minutes to read it. Worth noting: the debate between Krugman and James Hansen over the merits of cap and trade persists, but Krugman appears to at least grant Hansen recognition that burning coal…

The language of sacrifice

Fellow Scienceblogger Sharon “Casaubon’s Book” Astyk warns us that the latest thinking on proximity to climate tipping points supports the premise that we can’t make the transition to a post-carbon economy without surrendering some of that oh-so-sacred American way of life. At least, that the message I get from this:

The Economist‘s reputation as the intellectual’s news outlet of choice is probably undeserved — its questionable choice of correspondents and lack of bylines, heavy editing and conservative politics undermine it’s credibility in my book — but because it’s widely read in elite circles, it’s hard to ignore. So the magazine’s feature treatment of climate science…

The problem with Canada

Since I moved to North Carolina (five years ago next month), it’s been depressing to watch the political climate there move ever closer to the one the U.S. managed to pull itself out of in 2008. The latest news, which concerns attempts by the federal government to silence its own climatologists, only reinforces that interpretation.

Now, this is interesting…

BILLINGS, Mont. — A federal judge has approved a first-of-its-kind settlement requiring the government to suspend 38,000 acres of oil and gas leases in Montana so it can gauge how oil field activities contribute to climate change. – The Washington Post‘s Matthew Brown has the provocative details.

From our friends at NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center, in Asheville, N.C., we learn the following: The combined global land and ocean average surface temperature for February 2010 was 0.60°C (1.08°F) above the 20th century average of 12.1°C (53.9°F). This is the sixth warmest such value on record. The combined global land and ocean average…

Pi Day

One Strawbarb Pi, an entry in the Second Annual Pi Day Contest.

Randy Olson says: There comes a point where the public DOES want to see the science community stand up for themselves. And as if on cue comes the release of another round of once-private emails among members of one section of the National Academies of Sciences alerting us to efforts to do just that. The…

Island of Doubtful commenters

I am pleased that activity on the Island of Doubt has increased in recent months. I manage to squeeze in a hour four or five days a week to write about what I think is the most serious public policy challenge of our time, and make what modest contribution I can to the debate, and…