The CRU E-mails: What is Really There?

No climate-related stories over the past few years have attracted the level of mainstream coverage as those involving personal e-mails of prominent climate scientists that were hacked from a mail server at the Climatic Research Unit (CRU), University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom (see Yale Forum article).

These e-mails provide plenty to criticize, but the most widely-publicized quotes often are taken out of context to falsely imply a conspiracy of sorts to hide declining temperatures and a lack of recent warming. A close reading of the e-mails in question reveals a more nuanced picture, with scientists struggling with how to explain uncertainties in complex systems in a world of 60-second sound-bytes and the certainty of blistering condemnations by those ideologically opposed to accepting scientific evidence of anthropogenic warming.

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Revkin’s Departure from Times Leaves Big Climate Reporting Void

The nation’s climate change science desk gets a lot smaller come December 21 with the resignation from The New York Times of science writer Andy Revkin.

With its paring of some 100 newsroom and editorial employees, it’s not at all clear how the Times itself can fill the substantial void. Even more problematic, given the dire financial conditions facing most metropolitan daily newspapers, are prospects for others to move in.

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Andy Revkin’s Last Day at NY Times: December 21

Science writer Andrew C. Revkin, the individual journalist most identified with reporting on climate change, is leaving The New York Times. His last day will be December 21, and he will affiliate with Pace University. He is expected to continue working on his popular Dotearth blog through The Times, though details are still being arranged.

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Dateline Copenhagen

‘The little mermaid’ in Copenhagen Harbour.

Six freelance journalists – an eclectic mix of writers, climate bloggers, photojournalists, youth advocates, and educators – are submitting copy to The Yale Forum on Climate Change & The Media between December 7 and the scheduled end of the international climate negotiations in mid-December.

Get updates here – and check back often – for our correspondents’ unique takes on the goings-on.

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What Happens in Utah ... Doesn't Stay in Utah

BYU Earth Scientists Express Concerns Over State Legislature’s Climate Efforts

The Utah capitol: Hearing ‘both sides’ of climate science.

Eighteen Brigham Young University earth scientists are telling the state’s political leaders that they need to “give considerable weight to an overwhelming scientific consensus, and treat fringe positions with respectful skepticism.”

The BYU faculty members said they think that giving “too much weight” to a vocal but small minority of scientific viewpoints “puts all of us at risk by promoting poorly informed decisions.” Their prescription for better policy for Utah? “Base decisions regarding the effects of climate change in Utah upon the best scientific evidence available.”

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SuperFreakonomics’ Climate Contrarianism: Do Trees and Solar Panels Warm the Earth?

Trees, climate friend or foe?

It’s fun to be a contrarian, to point out cases in which commonly held conceptions falter, or when the opposite is true.

But contrarian points often require quite a bit of nuance, and seldom do they completely invalidate the common ideas they critique. Also, there is a real danger that in the popularization of contrarian scientific ideas by those without expertise in the field in question, much of the nuance and qualifications gets lost, and readers can be mislead into believing things that do not reflect the actual results or opinions of the researchers whose work is cited.

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On Having Not Yet Fully Read The SuperFreakonomics Book

One could go on for columns about the columns written on economist Steven Levitt’s and journalist Stephen Dubner’s SuperFreakonomics, the sequel to their best-selling Freakonomics.

Let’s not go there. Truth is that I expected, wanted, to very much enjoy this follow-up to the hugely entertaining and provocative Freakonomics. Truth is, too, that I’m still plodding my way through it, slow reader that I am and facing a towering pending-reading stack that threatens to overwhelm my shelves.

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