Tag Archives: New Scientist

Fred Pearce is *still* a rubbish journalist

Image courtesy of Flickr user urbangarden

When last we left Pearce, he was enthusiastically attempting mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on the vile, rotting corpse of He said; She said “journalism” that has long wreaked havoc on public understanding of climate.

Checking in, we now find Pearce has sunk to just making statements up and attributing them to people without their knowledge or consent. Specifically NASA GISS researcher (and RealClimate blogger) Gavin Schmidt. As Schmidt has written to New Scientist:

In the piece entitled “Climate sceptics and scientists attempt peace deal” Fred Pearce includes a statement about me that is patently untrue.

“But the leaders of mainstream climate science turned down the gig, including NASA’s Gavin Schmidt, who said the science was settled so there was nothing to discuss.”

This is completely made up. My decision not to accept the invitation to this meeting was based entirely on the organiser’s initial diagnosis of the cause of the ‘conflict’ in the climate change debate. I quote from their introductory letter:

“At this stage we are planning to have a workshop where the main scientific issues can be discussed, so that some clarity on points of agreement and disagreement might be reached. We would try to stay off the policy issues, and will also exclude personal arguments.

The issues we have in mind are Medieval Warm Period, ice, climate sensitivity, and temperature data. We would hope to have smaller groups discussing these in some detail, hopefully with scientists who are very familiar with the technical issues to lead the discussion.”

Since, in my opinion, the causes of conflict in the climate change debate relate almost entirely to politics and not the MWP, climate sensitivity or ‘ice’, dismissing this from any discussion did not seem likely to be to help foster any reconciliation.

At no point did I declare that the ‘science was settled’ and that there was nothing to discuss. Indeed, I am on record as saying the exact opposite: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/12/unsettled-science/

Pearce might well note that even I am included in the “spectrum” that “disagree[s] with Schmidt”!

Fred Pearce did not interview me for this piece. I should like to request that in future, if my views are of interest, that he (or anyone else) should actually ask me directly. I am not hard to contact.

Yours respectfully,

Gavin Schmidt

PS. I am not a ‘leader of mainstream climate science’ either.

I’d ask whether New Scientist wants this kind of indefensible behavior associated with their brand, but clearly they’ve given Pearce free reign to troll for page views however he sees fit.

Pearce should be ashamed of himself.

Fred Pearce is a rubbish journalist

If anyone needs evidence that the “reporting” crutch of He Said, She Said is still being employed by stenographers masquerading as journalists, here’s Fred Pearce in New Scientist.

No serious effort is made to inform the reader which of the parties is actually supported by reality. Note the weasel wording and false balance throughout, e.g.: “some of the researchers involved take issue with a suggestion that greenhouse gases are not primarily responsible for global warming”; “Foster’s team concludes… But de Freitas says”; “The vitriol continues”; etc. It’s a stereotypical example of the “on the one hand, on the other” style that has so distorted the public’s understanding of the issue of anthropogenic climate change.

It’s 2010, FFS. This article should be held up as a model for how reporting should not be done.

Of course, this is hardly the first time Pearce has done crap reporting, though it should be noted he’s an equal opportunity offender.

  • Boykoff, M.T. and Boykoff, J.M., 2004: Balance as bias: global warming and the US prestige press. Global Environ Chang., 14 125–136 doi:10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2003.10.001
  • Foster, G., J.D. Annan, P.D. Jones, M.E. Mann, B. Mullan, J. Renwick, J. Salinger, G.A. Schmidt, and K.E. Trenberth, 2010: Comment on “Influence of the Southern Oscillation on tropospheric temperature” by J.D. McLean, C.R. de Freitas, and R.M. Carter. J. Geophys. Res., 115, D09110, doi:10.1029/2009JD012960.

The emerging scientific consensus on the SwiftHack emails: get real, denialists

And of course the emails never have and never will impact the scientific basis of the reality of anthropogenic warming.

[h/t to DeSmogBlog for the IPCC statement]

[UPDATE: Via the comments, for more, see SwiftHack.com and CP under the "Hackergate" tag.]

[LATE UPDATE: More added as they come.]

Of Moles and Whacking: “Mojib Latif predicted two decades of cooling”

Or: Journalists should report what climate science actually “says”, rather than what they mistakenly “believe” it to say – Part II

In Part I we looked at some issues relating to climate science that the Houston Chronicle’s “SciGuy” Eric Berger was mistaken about and had blamed “climate scientists” for. And while pointing out that it isn’t particularly fair for Mr. Berger to blame climate scientists for his misunderstandings, it would also be unfair to say that his confusion was his fault alone.

Fred Pearce wrote a recent column for New Scientist claiming climate modeler Mojib Latif predicted that up to two decades of cooling were coming: “We could be about to enter one or even two decades of cooler temperatures, according to one of the world’s top climate modellers.” Pearce’s claim was promptly picked up by the denialosphere and has been cited by “skeptics” as well as those who believe climate science is undergoing some sort of shake up, like Mr. Berger. Pearce’s story is greatly misleading both in terms of what Latif actually said and the role climate scientists believe natural variability plays in the climate system. Continue reading

“Never get involved in a land war in Asia”

And never go in against Bora when your interwebs rep is on the line! Ouch.

[For those who don't get the reference]

[UPDATE: Or Gareth either it would seem. But promise me, guys, no more purple prose for a bit?]

Creeping towards mainstream consciousness

During a recent visit with an old friend who has far, far more television channels than I was even aware existed (and I have cable, I’m not a technophobe!), I saw part of a 2006 Swedish documentary titled The Planet. It had a brief segment featuring a person of some recent interest to this and other blogs:

And curiously enough, it was brought to my attention by a different friend that New Scientist’s [I know, I know] currentish issue (10/18-24/2008) was devoted to the obvious-to-everyone-but-mainstream-economists-and-politicians concept that limitless growth is not actually a good thing for the biosphere and our well-being. He sent me PDFs of the relevant articles.

The main editorial is How our economy is killing the Earth and is a “free feature”, as are several other editorials and interviews covering similar ground. I tinypic’d Herman Daly’s article for my own reference purposes when traveling, but if you happen to read it please remember that New Scientist retains all rights to the content. The same goes for David Suzuki’s interview, an article by Andrew Simms on the myth of trickle-down economics, a New Scientist “what-if” imagining a steady state economy, and a short essay by philosopher Kate Soper.

An interesting graphic accompanied the main editorial, the correlation of a number of “illths” with population and economic growth:

[click to enlarge]

Sure, this isn’t exactly Newsweek or the WSJ circulation-wise, but it’s a start.

Commenter Brian D in a previous thread brought up a great point, that yes, it’s all well enough that we need to mainstream this concept, but we also need to mainstream possible solutions. I can’t lay claim to any more than an interest in the subject, but I’m going to attempt to change that in what little spare time I have. I recently picked up Bill McKibben’s Deep Economy, and I am looking for suggestions. Brian D mentioned The Economics of Happiness by Mark Anielski. Any others?

[UPDATE: Wow, I'll certainly have to watch the new PBS Frontline investigation HEAT. It sounds like it hit the growth topic at least glancingly. The things I've been missing out on...]

[UPDATE: Mark Anielski has been kind enough to comment.]

[LATE UPDATE: Great minds and all that. ;)]