Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Getting credit for scientific software

While reading an NSF "Dear Colleague" letter on data citation in the geosciences, I came across this quote from the American Geophysical Union,
..the scientific community should recognize the professional value of data activities by endorsing the concept of publication of data, to be credited and cited like the products of any other scientific activity, and encouraging peer-review of such publications.
I agree completely!    Now what would it take for AGU, or any other physical science society, to say:

"the scientific community should recognize the professional value of scientific programming activities by endorsing the concept of publication of code, to be credited and cited like the products of any other scientific activity, and encouraging peer-review of such publications."

The data citation movement is really a great development for geoscience.   Like code, data products often have many hands involved in them, more then the number of authors on a typical climate paper.  They undergo revisions and can be used and reused for years.  If the community can figure out things like what a "first author" means for a data product, what the "impact factor" is for a data product and get citations of data accepted in tenure cases co-equal with other publications then its a short step to doing the same for code.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Peter Gleick is still a good scientist

(A raging climate-blogosphere story is a great excuse to start posting again!)

As I read many of the stories on Peter Gleick's pranking of the Heartland Institute (see this Guardian story for a pretty good summary), I find I mostly agree with Joe Romm who basically says that this is peanuts compared to what Heartland and their ilk are doing to our future planet with their obfuscation campaign.

Indeed I can't believe how many people are rushing to their fainting couch over this.

Peter Gleick is a trained scientist but amateur journalist.  His general-interest writing on water and climate issues is actually quite good.   Doing science and doing journalism are two different things.  If Dr. Gleick committed some kind of ethical lapse in his journalism exploits, that shouldn't have any impact on his standing as a scientist.

Scientists should not let themselves be boxed in as perfect beings who apply the ethical standards of science in every activity of their lives.  That's not a standard that human beings can meet and scientists are indeed human.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Another Year

I'm glad the traffic for this page hasn't died down completely. Many things to post about, just no time. My twitter account is more active. Besides the ClimateSpin daily, I will sometimes livetweet a conference. Still hope to provide some content here in the future. Thanks for looking.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

One year later...

One year and a few days since my last post. My how things have changed.

A decent climate-energy bill passed the house but never got a vote in the Senate.

I believe a new Congress means all un-acted on bills have to be re-passed. No way a good climate bill gets passed in the House now. That means 2013 before there's any significant action in Congress. Of course, there's that new EPA authority to regulate CO2 that could be used by the Obama administration. But will they?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Recent global cooling isn't in the statistics

A nice article from Seth Borenstein, one of the better climate science reporters, tries to explain how, statistically, there is no such thing as recent global cooling.
The case that the Earth might be cooling partly stems from recent weather. Last year was cooler than previous years. It's been a while since the super-hot years of 1998 and 2005. So is this a longer climate trend or just weather's normal ups and downs?

In a blind test, the AP gave temperature data to four independent statisticians and asked them to look for trends, without telling them what the numbers represented. The experts found no true temperature declines over time.

"If you look at the data and sort of cherry-pick a micro-trend within a bigger trend, that technique is particularly suspect," said John Grego, a professor of statistics at the University of South Carolina.
I love the idea of the AP asking 4 statisticians to just analyze a time series without giving the source of the numbers.

I don't know why the satellite data is labeled by Borenstein as "preferred by skeptics". They used to like it when an incorrect analysis suggested it contradicted model predictions. Not so much after the mistake was corrected.

The gist of this article is that, in statistics, you can't just throw out the data you don't like. That's what deniers are doing when they choose to only look at the last few years or so and say: "the data says the globe is cooling". But they have no way of knowing if that is temporary or permanent. The honest thing to do is to look at all the data and that data says its warming.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Now on twitter

I'm joining the twitterati. Hopefully micro-blogging will be easier then actual blogging.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Apollo or Manhattan project for energy won't work.

On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the first men landing on the moon, there's more talk about establishing an Apollo-scale project for solving the energy/climate crisis.
Lloyd Alter at Treehugger throws some cold water on that idea:
And [the Apollo project] was a marvelous accomplishment. But as a model of design and engineering, it was a one hit wonder, an extravagant waste of materials, and not a model for anything we should be doing today.

He links to an older article by Dan Greenberg at The Chronicle Review who sums it up nicely:
As handy metaphors for all-out government concentration on a clearly identified technological goal, Manhattan and Apollo are winners. But care should be taken in extrapolating their success to today’s energy problems. The big difference is that Manhattan had one customer, the U.S. Army, and Apollo also had only one, NASA (with a pork-happy Congress cheering it on). The goals were clear: Beat the Nazis to the bomb and the Soviets to the moon. Financed with blank checks, run by chiefs appropriately referred to as “czars,” and unimpeded by diverse political and economic interests, the two projects decisively proceeded to their successful conclusions.

In contrast, our energy and climate-change problems originate more in political, economic, and cultural entanglements than in technological deficiencies.
Sure, laboratory wizardry is needed to make do with less and cleaner energy sources, but the reality is that superior technologies remain undeployed because of the aforementioned impediments.

I would add that its more than just one customer that made those projects successful. Its that they were focused on building one physical thing: an atom bomb and a rocket to the moon. They had a much more well defined problem then "solve the energy crisis." As has been pointed out multiple times, there is no "silver bullet", no one machine to build, that can solve the climate/energy crisis. You have to do a lot of things: efficiency, transportation infrastructure, renewable energy production. There's some well-defined engineering problems to work on but those will do fine within the current research structure, provided they are adequately funded. The political and cultural work to be done is greater.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Waxman-Markey an ok bill

I have mixed feelings about the Waxman-Markey bill. On the one hand, its a solid cap-and-trade program with a good target: emissions should be 83% below 2005 levels by 2050. That's basically a carbon-free economy. But there's an offset provision which could make the law useless. (Which makes we want to call it Waxman-Malarkey) A good summary of the pros and cons of the bill is here.

Also its not law yet. It still has to go through the Senate where I expect a weaker bill to emerge, if any. But its important to note, as others have, that this is the first time the House voted on any climate legislation and they did well.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Suppressed EPA report suppressed for a good reason.

(I'm going to stop making grand claims about restarting this blog. Posting will continue to be irregular. That's life.)

I saw an interesting story on Huffington Post about an EPA report skeptical of global warming that has been "suppressed".

Realclimate has the rundown on this report. A sample:
So in summary, what we have is a ragbag collection of un-peer reviewed web pages, an unhealthy dose of sunstroke, a dash of astrology and more cherries than you can poke a cocktail stick at. Seriously, if that's the best they can do, the EPA's ruling is on pretty safe ground.
What's missing is a timeline. I wonder if this report was commissioned by the previous administration?

Friday, January 16, 2009

Obama's Science Team

(Happy New Year everyone! Let me clear out the cobwebs on this blog once again.)

I'm pretty happy with the appointments Obama has made to the the various science agencies. It will be very interesting to see how climate science is changed over the next few months and few years.

One agency with no official appointment yet is NASA. Here's was Robert Park has to say about that and the other appointments:
After eight years of continental drift in science policy the science community urged president-elect Barack Obama to act swiftly to fill science positions. But who expected a much admired professor of physics to be nominated as science advisor before Christmas? Or a Nobel laureate to be Secretary of Energy? No scientist could refuse the President’s call to serve their country and the world. Do we only now have a leader who understands this? The members of the Obama team are linked by their commitment to the environment. Only the position of NASA Administrator remains to be filled. It was no secret that Michael Griffin wanted to keep the job, but as NASA head he consistently ignored environmental concerns to push a hopelessly outdated space-cadet program of manned rockets and islands in space. The great environmental observatory DSCOVR was left locked in solitary confinement. Obama will name USAF Maj. Gen. Scott Gration, Ret. to head NASA, possibly today. We know virtually nothing about Gration’s position on the issues, but Obama presumably knows; he spent a lot of time with Gration on a trip to Africa, where Gration was born to missionary parents. This is the sort of person you put in charge when you want to sever the shackles of outdated tradition and totally reexamine its reason for existing.

Emphasis added on that last sentence. We live in interesting times....

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

President-Elect Obama to speak on Climate Change

I was at the election night rally for Obama in Grant Park. As I listened to his speech, which was more somber then celebratory, I thought "Great, the adults are in charge again!".

As evidence of that, Obama is making a surprise video appearance at a Governors Global Climate Summit in Los Angeles today.

The video is here.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Must see TV: Frontline on fossil fuel addiction

Check your local listings for this Frontline documentary airing this week on PBS. More info here.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

There's no such thing as a Nobel Prize in Economics

I'm a fan of Paul Krugman and don't want to rain on his parade but I can't wait another year to post this rant.

There is no such thing as a "Nobel Prize in Economics". What Krugman and the ones before him won was "The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel." It's the highest achievement in Economics but it isn't a Nobel Prize. You see, Alfred Nobel set up exactly five prizes: physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature and for peace, and didn't leave any means to extend or shorten the list. They've been awarded since 1901.

The Riksbank Prize, on the other hand, was started in 1968. How did it begin? From the Nobel Foundation website:
On the occasion of its 300th anniversary in 1968, the Sveriges Riksbank (Sweden's central bank) made a large donation to the Nobel Foundation. A Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel has been awarded since 1969. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences is entrusted with the role of Prize Awarding-Institution, in accordance with Nobel Prize rules. The Board of the Nobel Foundation has subsequently decided that it will allow no further new prizes.

The Nobel Foundation official website makes a mess of this distinction. On the one hand, the site always calls it the "Economics Prize". You won't find the phrase "Nobel Prize in Economics" anywhere. On the other hand, you see economics prize winners included in the list of Nobel Laureates.

Why do I care? Well a blog concerned with climate science reporting in the press really values accuracy and hates the kind of sloppiness that allows the media to go on reporting lies like "Al Gore said he invented the internet". Its not correct to call it the Nobel Prize in Economics. Call it what it is: the Riksbank Prize or the Economics Prize.

I'm not the only one with a beef about this either. From the Riksbank Prize wikipedia entry:
Some critics argue that the prestige of the Prize in Economics derives in part from its association with the Nobel Prizes, an association that has often been a source of controversy. Among the most vocal critics of the Prize in Economics is the Swedish human rights lawyer Peter Nobel, a great-grandnephew of Alfred Nobel. Swedish economist Gunnar Myrdal and former Swedish minister of finance Kjell-Olof Feldt have also advocated that the Prize in Economics should be abolished. Myrdal's objections were based on his view that the 1976 Prize in Economics to Milton Friedman and the 1974 Prize in Economics shared by Friedrich Hayek (both classical liberal economists) were undeserved, on the argument that Economics did not qualify as a science. If he had been asked about the establishment of the Prize before receiving it, Hayek stated that he would "have decidedly advised against it.

The bigger picture here is that economics, or at least the branch that promoted and apologized for the free-market liberalism that has led to our current mess (which does not include Krugman), has had an outsized influence on our decision makers and opinion leaders and the prestige of a "Nobel Prize in Economics" helps keep that influence alive. Calling the prize for what it can help take them down a few pegs.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Putin is watching

(picture taken from DailyKos)

Does anyone have a pointer to Sarah Palin's views on climate disruption? She's a creationist so they are probably the least coherent of the 4 people at the top of the ticket.