Who is worth reading on global warming?

On my blogroll, to the side, you will see the names of 14 climate websites that I go to more or less regularly. I try to see both side of the debate, and in particular I like to know what papers have been published; there is no doubt that the Internet is far and away the best device for informing me. A reader a year or so ago suggested that I didn’t read widely enough, so I enlarged the blogroll accordingly.

I thought it might be useful to summarise their value, to me at any rate, and doing so might help others. It has to be said that websites are set up because those concerned have a point of view they wish to express, or at least a purpose that makes sense to them. It costs money set them up, and a lot of time and energy in managing them, let alone writing for them. So you would expect a tendency, a point of view. As a former teacher, I am interested in educating myself and others, and as I have said before, I am an  old-fashioned logical positivist who thinks that facts are important and good argument no less so.

So here are my comments on the list, in the order in which the sites appear on the blogroll. You can get to each of them there. In brackets appears my summary of their position in the ‘climate change’ debate.

Bishop Hill  is the website of Andrew Montford, who wrote The Hockey Stick Illusion, which I have read and thought very good indeed. He  favours commentary on what is happening (recently, the floods in the UK). It is sensible and temperate. (Dissident)

Climate Audit is the home of Steve McIntyre, who along with Ross McKitrick, did the demolition on Michael Mann’s ‘hockey stick’ graph. He is interested above all in the statistical analysis of climate data of all kinds. (Dissident)

Climate etc. My favourite of them all, set up by Professor Judith Curry of Georgia Tech in Atlanta. It attracts decent debate from both sides, and you learn a lot by following the debates. She brings in lots of papers that are of immediate interest, and not just scientific ones. (Dissident)

Deltoid is run by Tim Lambert at UNSW in Sydney; his background is information technology. He is argumentative and strongly opinionated, and I see the website mostly as a chat show on line in which the host cuts down  those whose opinions he doesn’t like. (Orthodox)

Jennifer Marohasy is an Australian biologist with a special interest in the Murray-Darling river system. She brings forward papers to discuss from time to time, comments on what is happening, writes well, and is an activist for her river cause. (Dissident)

Jo Nova is an Australian science-writer, whose little monograph The Skeptic’s Handbook is a good quick read. Jo Nova is a fine, deadly analyst of loose talk and sloppy argument. She had demolished the England paper before I had even written my own post about it (mind you, I had other things to write about first).  (Dissident)

Rabett Run is managed by a pseudonymous chemistry academic at Howard University in the US; there is no ‘Eli Rabett’. His site is breezy, often informative and always argumentative. He engages on other sites like Climate etc and WUWT. (Orthodox)

Real Climate is the orthodox counter to Climate Audit, and describes itself as ‘commentary site on climate science by working climate scientists for the interested public and journalists’. The working scientists include Michael Mann, and the most prominent is Gavin Schmidt of GISS, whom I mentioned the other day. It offers the principal serious defence of the orthodoxy, but there are often leads to important papers and useful commentary. Disagreement is not encouraged in the comments section. (Orthodox)

Roger Pielke Jnr is an academic at the University of Boulder, Colorado whose interest is in the economic effects (real and imagined) of ‘climate change’. He doesn’t write all the time, but whatever he writes is always interesting and well-produced. He visited Australia a year or so ago, and I often refer to his work — see here, for example. (Dissident)

Skeptical Science I can find little to say that is good about this mis-named website, managed by John Cook, who has some kind of connection with the University of Queensland. It is a querulously defensive site, protecting the orthodoxy from criticism, insofar as it can. It is quite sure that AGW is Revealed Truth, and recognises no papers unless they are supportive of the orthodoxy. It describes itself as ‘explaining climate change science & rebutting global warming misinformation’, and much of it is devoted to debunking supposed sceptical ‘myths’. Anyone who knows a little about the issues will quickly cry out ‘Hang on! It’s not as simple as all that’. But for the SkS crowd it really is all that simple. (Orthodox)

Tamino is the website of Grant Foster, who is a staunch defender of the orthodoxy and someone who likes data analysis. He is worth reading, but you need to remember (at least I think so) that often his ingenious arguments have a way of missing the point at issue. (Orthodox)

The Blackboard is the website of Lucia Liljegren, an able statistician who likes to play around with climate data, and is (at least to my mind) scrupulously fair. I have to say that I am often lost in the statistical theory, which can be way above my head. (Neutral to dissident)

The Reference Frame is the website of Lubos Motl, a Czech physicist, who once devoted a post to showing how threadbare was SkS‘s dismissal of the so-called sceptical myths about global warming. He is interesting also in that he is outside the Anglophone discussion system I am used to. (Dissident)

Watts Up With That has been voted three times as the most widely used climate website. It is published sometimes hourly, and it brings into view a great range of material, academic papers, government reports, cartoons, commentary and guest posts. It is an indispensable source of new work. It does have a fan club devoted more to ridiculing the orthodox than to serious discussions of the papers, but then that can be true on many sites. It is thoroughly worth its place on top of the ladder, even if I learn more from Judy Curry.  (Dissident)

Well, there you are. My 14 are slightly tilted towards the dissident side, but those are more fun, and less constipated about The Truth. And I learn much more from them than I do from the orthodox, who, on the whole, are only interested in my learning if I accept what they say without demur.


Join the discussion 8 Comments

  • DaveW says:

    A few years ago, when I realized that I could not in good concise just ignore all of the hullabaloo about CAGW, I started sampling websites. I soon had a very strong impression that the orthodox sites tended to be more interested in rather juvenile to hysterical put-downs of the non-believers than of discussing the science. I tend to think of them as ‘defenders of the faith’; and since, I get my daily doses of defence of the faith from the ABC, NYTimes, etc., I feel no reason to wallow through their muck looking for flecks of gold.

    WUWT turned out to be the best for overall sampling of the debate and a good source of what ideas are worth following up (the comments section is usually disappointing, but I put my two-cents worth in now and then). I check Bishop Hill sometimes because I liked his book, Judith Curry because she has seized the middle ground and defends it well, and Tamsin Edwards because she usually relies on reason to defend the faith (and because her blog title, ‘All Models are Wrong’ is so true). Matt Ridley is usually a good read, whatever he is going on about, and then there are Jennifer, Jo and you to keep track of Australian matters. That is more than enough for me.

  • RafeChampion says:

    Love your work Don, but it is surprising to find you are still a logical positivist. Get up to date, mate! http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=rafe+champion

    This is a handy backgrounder on the anti-nuclear power movement that morphed out of the Ban the Bomb campaign in the 1950s. http://www.the-rathouse.com/2011/Grover-Power.html

    • Don Aitkin says:

      Rafe, I’m not even sure what I am, and wonder if it makes any difference. But I Iearned critical thinking over the years, and my own work has given me understanding of and respect for good data, plus the right techniques with which to analyse it.

      I studied Popper in my honours year, and later met him when Eugene Kamenka brought him to Canberra; he was very old by then. Making real sense is often very difficult, isn’t it. I agree with your remark about Hayek and conservatism.

      • DaveW says:

        “I agree with your remark about Hayek and conservatism.”
        I found this comment obscure (I checked the links in the comment), but it is your blog and private conversations are your business. However, I did track down Rafe’s site and spent a few enjoyable hours with his evaluation of Popper’s least known (to me) book (thanks Rafe), so I won’t complain too much. Still, I always wondered at the Libertarian worship of ‘The Road to Serfdom’. I know that Hayek claimed not to be a conservative and I don’t equate Libertarianism or Classic Liberalism with the suite of Conservative philosophies, but I do still wonder what you meant?

        • Don Aitkin says:

          Sorry, DaveW, that was a bit obscure. I had gone to Rafe’s site, and agreed with his remark, with reference to Hayek, that you don’t have to be a socialist at 20 to have compassion for the disadvantaged (or something like that). My feeling at 20 was that Marx (ism) provided clearcut reasons as to why social life was as it was, but I saw the world as being much more complicated, and that the clearcut explanation did not explain everything. Nor could it. But I have been in favour of a better world throughout. Another post, I think. Another day.

  • GenghisCunn says:

    Don, a fair assessment of the sites, I’m a Climate Etc regular and many of my visits to other GW sites are from links there. Dave W, a very high proportion of those at CE say that they first looked at warmist sites because of concern about the warming threat, and became sceptical because of the quality and attitude of those sites, and the flaws they found in evidence and argument. Too much repetitive argument from the usual suspects at CE, but you learn to filter it. In general, interesting, informative and (between the dross) entertaining.

  • […] Curry’s Climate etc website gets my top billing, as I’ve said before, and one of its great virtues lies in the Comments section that follows the essay. The reason is […]

Leave a Reply