Polling the planet: in which we explain why scientific data and trends differs from political polling….

Actually, there is a difference between trends in scientific data and political polls

Love him or loath him, former Labor leader Mark Latham does on occasion make some salient points about politics Down Under. His recent piece in Australia’s leading business daily The Australian Financial Review raises some interesting questions.

For example, why has Labor allowed itself to be intimidated into silence when it comes to the issue of climate change?

This year it was a chance to explain the need for greenhouse gas abatement and to justify Labor’s carbon tax – in effect, providing after-sales service on the biggest issue in Australian politics.

Yet Swan was largely mute on this subject, mentioning briefly “the price on carbon pollution” but failing to even utter the words “carbon tax” or “climate change”. This is not how a fighting political party handles the big picture.

It confirms Paul Keating’s critique of the ALP: it suffers from a paucity of crusaders; politicians willing to campaign relentlessly on their policy convictions. Driven by polls and media spin, the modern style is for Labor MPs to shield themselves from unpopular issues. They have given up on the art of public persuasion, most notably on the dangers of climate change.

The rabidly anti-science agenda of News Corporation (who controls 70% of the newspaper market) doesn’t help either.

Latham hits the nail on the head:

This year it was a chance to explain the need for greenhouse gas abatement and to justify Labor’s carbon tax – in effect, providing after-sales service on the biggest issue in Australian politics.

Yet Swan was largely mute on this subject, mentioning briefly “the price on carbon pollution” but failing to even utter the words “carbon tax” or “climate change”. This is not how a fighting political party handles the big picture.

It confirms Paul Keating’s critique of the ALP: it suffers from a paucity of crusaders; politicians willing to campaign relentlessly on their policy convictions. Driven by polls and media spin, the modern style is for Labor MPs to shield themselves from unpopular issues. They have given up on the art of public persuasion, most notably on the dangers of climate change.

The government and scientists have assumed that the public is alert to climate change.

However, when the vast majority of the public’s understanding is mediated by a global corporation whose autocratic chairman is hostile to the science of climate change. It’s not merely a case of “science communication”. The work of scientists – and the science of climate change – is cynically distorted by both the conservatives and News Corp.

Climate change is “polling badly”, ergo Labor has adopted the First Rule of Fight Club: the first rule of climate change, is don’t talk about climate change.

The question is how to get the information out there via a hostile media which sees climate change as a battle of memes and ideologies between the left/right spectrum of politics.

Strangely, there is a difference between political polls and the extend of sea ice

Science is obviously indifferent to the political persuasion of politicians and journalists. But politicians and journalists run the debate through the “politics as gladiatorial conflict” model. Bloggers and climate activists on both sides also fall victim to this (see a classic example above).

Thus we have the strange, almost surreal spectacle of conservatives and liberals monitoring the loss or gain of Arctic Sea ice like a political poll. The Herald Sun’s Andrew Bolt typifies this approach:

Sea levels have recently dipped, the oceans have lately cooled, Arctic ice has not retreated since 2007, polar bear numbers are increasing, global crop yields keep rising and now some solar scientists warn not of warming, but cooling…

… So how do the warming activists respond to increasing evidence contradicting their theory that our carbon dioxide emissions are heating the world dangerously?

It’s as if the planets natural systems must somehow mirror political journalists obsessions with poll numbers moving up or down.

“Ohhh, sea ice not retreating… bad for liberals and warmists!”

Like the planet gives a fuck about your Manichean left/right world view Andrew.

Actually there is a difference between trends typified in graphs such as this:

And this:

But somehow the media, “sceptical” journalists and politicians run all data and information with a monomaniacal obsession through graphs of the later type. 

Does climate change poll well?

Does the sea ice extent support the party’s political platform?

What a curiously myopic species we can be.

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8 thoughts on “Polling the planet: in which we explain why scientific data and trends differs from political polling….

  1. john byatt says:

    here is geoff’s reference paper,

    http://www.staff.science.uu.nl/~delde102/CleanerAirBetterViewsMoreSunshine.pdf

    is geoff’s IQ higher than his boot size?

  2. john byatt says:

    Geoff just does not get it at all, at The climate sceptics blog

    posts this to claim that the warming is due to the sun,

    A paper recently published in the journal Weather finds that global summer average sunshine [solar short-wave radiation that reaches Earth's surface] dimmed during the period 1958-1983 [prompting an ice age scare], but markedly increased from 1985-2010. The increase in summer average sunshine between those two periods is 6 Watts per square meter, which dwarfs the alleged effects of CO2 by more than 5 times. [Alleged CO2 effect from 1958-2010 was calculated using the IPCC formula 5.35*ln(389.78/315) = 1.14 Watts per square meter]. At one measurement site [De Bilt], summer sunshine increased from 1985-2010 by 15 Watts per square meter, more than 23 times the IPCC alleged forcing from CO2 during the same timeframe [5.35*ln(389.78/346.04) = 0.64 Watts per square meter].

    Oh geoff the incoming SW radiation whatever it is has to be balanced by outgoing SW and LW radiation or else the planet will cool or warm, currently extra greenhouse gases are slowing the release of LW to space thus heating the planet,

    The paper you are using is actually about reduced aerosols leading to better visibility, more SW reaching De Bilt absolutely nothing to do with “its the sun stupid”

  3. john byatt says:

    Geoff at The climate sceptics blog continues his dishonest campaign

    read Nature abstract and then Geoff’s distortion of the same paper

    http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v5/n5/full/ngeo1450.html

    no wonder that the name sceptic now relates to scum in people’s minds

    .

  4. john byatt says:

    Heartland will be begging for money on a street corner shortly.

    http://www.desdemonadespair.net/2012/05/climate-change-believers-split-from.html

    .

  5. john byatt says:

    What is the flaw with this argument even if true, a couple actually

    a letter from a sceptic

    “In January we had the seven coldest days since at least 2002.
    January 19 was the coldest day globally in at least ten years,
    therefore the globe is cooling”

    points for neatness

  6. john byatt says:

    “Arctic ice has not retreated since 2007″
    he must be on a different planet than the rest of us

    http://neven1.typepad.com/.a/6a0133f03a1e37970b0168eb41b27b970c-pi

    .

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