Selling out to Big Oil

Seed has a new blog up,, and one of them is me. Atmoz isn’t very happy about us all selling out (its sponsored by Shell). I can’t speak for anyone else, but while I’m not going to disclose the fees, its only because you’d laugh rather than go green with envy :-(

I haven’t decided what I’m going to write about when its my turn. Feel free to make suggestions.


  1. #1 silence

    I can’t tell you what to write about, but you need to think long and hard about how you’re going to provide readers with value over sites like The Oil Drum.

    It also won’t hurt your credibility (though it might hurt your revenue) to do things like compare Shell’s leaked memos on peak oil with Hofmeister’s testimony before the House Select Energy Committee on April 1.

  2. #2 Duae Quartunciae

    Here’s a general suggestion.

    I love this blog, and read it regularly, but I sometimes get a bit frustrated when the material is thin. Many of your posts give a quick and well-deserved snark to a bit of nonsense on the subject from somewhere; but don’t actually help explain the real facts of the matter for the benefit of all us amateur readers. You do also have some good explanations as well; I’m just saying those I the ones I like best.

    It takes a bit more time and effort; but what I’d like is more in the way of educational posts, that actually explain why some argument is bogus, and why another one is valid; perhaps with a link or two for more resources on the particular matter being discussed.

    Here’s one possible topic. I’d like to get a better feel for the matter of a current small imbalance in energy at the top of the atmosphere, matching a take up of heat in the ocean. I’d like to know the approximate numbers; and also a realistic uncertainty. I’d like to get a feel for the timescale; how long it takes for the ocean to warm up in response to a given forcing.

    Best of luck with the new blogging venture! Now that I know you are a contributor, I will be sure to subscribe.

    [Thanks for that generous comment. I’ll have a think about your request. I don’t think I get my chance at NextGen until next wednesday, so don’t hold your breath. Re thinness: yes I’ve noticed that myself. I think there have been relatively few big climate stories recently. And of course I now lack the long leisure hours and ready access to tools to work on them -W]

  3. #3 bi -- IJI

    Well, I’d certainly like to see more information on the principles and inner workings of the new energy technologies. And also how you implement power-saving in your development work. (Or power-wasting, if that’s what Shell prefers you to write about. (-: )

  4. #4 Dan Hughes

    Does this development mean that reports from the George C. Marshall Institute, The Heartland Institute, and all other organizations to which Big Fossil supplies funds have now been validated?

  5. #5 Ian

    Whatever you do write about, call it “Loyal to oil” – it’s a memorably oily title that slides off the tongue. And be sure to mention something about playing a Shell game. Then give the oil industry hell and expose the impotence of deep-ocean drilling plans.

  6. #6 Brian D

    William, I think you’re in a unique position relative to the other contributors. While they focus heavily on energy, your expertise lies in climate science. Thus, talking about the timeline needed to reduce our carbon emissions, from a climate science perspective (i.e. the inability to be precisely sure, but unarguably ‘short’), would be uniquely suited to you there. Two things the public doesn’t seem to understand is that scientific uncertainty is cause to be *more* cautious, and that feedbacks make this not only unpredictable, but potentially very rapid as well. I admit I don’t have the expertise to suggest anything more specific than that.

    Duae: Such sites exist already, by the way. My preferred one is Skeptical Science, but SciBlogger Coby Beck of A Few Things Ill Considered has a very good one as well (both on his blogspot archive and on Gristmill).

  7. #7 thingsbreak

    I would love to hear more about your vast WikiPowers in promoting the global climate hoax. ;)

    Or barring that, your thoughts on how best the paleo community can help the modeling community (e.g. more southern hemisphere data?). I’m not sure if our suggestions are supposed to be related to the alternative energy scene or not.

    I’ll be looking forward to your posts as always.

  8. #8 Duae Quartunciae

    Thanks Brian D; and you can add to that realclimate; which might be my fave. Skeptical science is brilliant, and their format of 52 (and counting) responses to skeptical arguments is very convenient. (Your link left off the “.php” extension; I’ve added it here.)

    Readlclimate has a bit on the ocean heat sink and imbalance issue; skeptical science has a brief comment in their “it’s the ocean” response. James Hansen has a good paper on the subject recently in science which seems to propose a larger amount “in the pipeline” than most other sources. There are bits and pieces on it all over the place.

    I’d like a tutorial style summary that ties it together in a fairly straightforward form. The measurements, the expected time lag, and current imbalance, and an idea of uncertainties. I am considering trying to throw one together myself based on the various sources available. William, I am sure, could do it better! I’m lazy that way. But I am proposing to start putting together some stuff on warming related subjects myself at my own blog, sometime soon.

  9. #9 Steve Bloom

    DQ, that’s a nice idea. I think the reasons it doesn’t tend to happen is because it’s too much work and because it’s easy to screw things up if a scientist is writing outside of her/his specialty (which would be most of the time if they’re trying to cover everything).

    As we get more blogging scientists (which we are, bit by bit) we’ll get more of this sort of real-time results analysis, but I’m not sure how we would go about ramping up the activity “inorganically.” You might want to consider why the RealClimate and ScienceBlogs succeeded while the Nature Climate Feedback and AMS Climate Policy blogs failed.

    I should add that I disagree with William about the recent “thinness.” I cruise the abstracts on a weekly basis and it’s the rare week that doesn’t have several interesting papers that go completely unblogged.

  10. #10 mz

    Heh, well, there is a reason why Nature’s Climate Feedback is taken how it is, having for example taken RPJr on board, his very first post already being not very good…

  11. #11 Luboš Motl

    Congratulations to Shell Oil for having bought Mustelid! Not sure what it is good for but I suppose that they will add it to the turkey guts when they produce the alternative, 3rd generation biofuels.

  12. #12 Eli Rabett

    yeah well an innocent Stoat on the Shell is nothing compared to Exxon’s Baliunas and Soon collection

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