Dan's Wild Wild Science Journal
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Potholer54 is his handle on you tube. He’s a Geologist who also worked as a science correspondent for two decades.

Recently he  has produced some truly great videos (based on real peer reviewed science) about climate change. They illustrate  just how silly and ridiculous some of the online “climate change is a- hoax!/conspiracy!/ one world government/communist plot” web sites are.

Potholer  released another one this weekend. This one covers yet another of the myths that  seem designed to make sense to the casual reader.  At first glance at least. Scientists tend to be rather lousy communicators and I have a great deal of respect for someone like potholer. He uses his knowledge of the science and superb journalistic skills to cut right to the heart of the matter!

Instead of researching the truth, some take these claims at face value because they re-enforce their beliefs. They take the site at face value. No matter the person who posted it, has no background in science, it says what they wanted to hear! Next step is to repeat it online, and of course on twitter.

This latest video is on the myth that carbon dioxide cannot possible be responsible for climate change. I get emails with this claim once a week. So does anyone else who says something on air or online about climate science.

So spend 11 minutes and find out just how silly these claims are. What we do about climate change is a political decision. The causes are a scientific question. There is a lot to be learned, but the basics are well understood now.

Every scientific organization on the planet has endorsed the IPCC.

Even the Assoc. of Petroleum Geologist finally came around a couple of years ago!

Borehole_TemperatureSome are pinning their hopes on the hope that some stolen emails will bring a century of science down. This shows a deep misunderstanding of how science works.

Let’s pretend that every bit of science that the Univ. of East Anglia is thrown out.

Guess what?

NASA and NOAA have gotten the SAME results independently.

Then you have the Bore Holes, the Ocean temps. satellite data, weather balloon upper air data, and a host of other proxies like ice cores from tropical mountains and the poles, that all agree the planet is warming. Add in a hundred years of physics research and thousands of papers by thousands of scientists.

modeled_temperature_compared_to_observed_temperature_for_the_last_150_yearsDoes it really make sense to believe that they are all part of a conspiracy? Does it really make sense to believe that a few scientists who MIGHT have with held data to one of these junk web site authors could possibly have an affect on all that science.

The data at Hadley will of course not be thrown out. There is NO evidence that any of their conclusions and reports are wrong. They may have gotten sick and tired of having to stop and send their data to people with no real background in the field, but the science itself is right.

The data is out there already anyhow for all to see. Only a tiny bit that is restricted by the country providing it cannot be downloaded and in most cases you can get it free. Don’t believe me?

Go here.

The science in the journals is VERY  different than what you will find by putting in the words “global warming” into GOOGLE!

Peter Sinclair’s “Climate Denial Crock Of the Week” also does an excellent job of showing why.

Note: I initially incorrectly identified the video embedded from You Tube as being from Peter Sinclair. My brain is truly beginning to melt I believe. My apologies to both people, and you my reader. A big thank you to Mike Kaulbars at GREENFYRE’S who spotted my error and let me know!

The Wild Wild Science Journal concentrates on Earth Science. Some very good reasons for this.

1. I know enough about it to not make a total fool of myself. (most days and I have an MS in Earth Sciences).

2. I like the field, and run across interesting “stuff” often enough to write a fair amount of posts.

3. Meteorology, which I have the most training in (BS Meteorology 1981 and 30 years as a forecaster) is also considered an Earth Science. I love all aspects of Meteorology as well. Cannot imagine doing anything else but forecasting and learning more about the subject.

So those are the reasons I write about what I write about, and they are also good enough reasons NOT to do Biology. I have a good friend and neighbor who is a well known Biologist, but little rubs off on me.

The main reason I do not write on Biology has nothing to do with any of that.

I PANIC AT THE SITE OF BLOOD and I get the creeps from bugs.

My High School Biology teacher I am sure ranks me as her worst student. We had to dissect fetal pigs. I put ribbons on the legs of mine and named her Matilda June Hinklemeyer. It sounded appropriate for my Sophomore (literally and figuratively) brain.

Fortunately my class mate and life long friend to this day did the hard work for me. (She is now an X-ray  tech. in Oklahoma. (Hold the pickles, hold the lettuce, gamma rays don’t upset us!)

So now you understand.

That said, it’s with great pride I write a post on Biology. This is for my Biology teacher Kathy Gray, and my class mate and fetal pig surgeon Robin Fox.

Go here and learn something: (I didn’t say it would be a LONG post.)

Screen shot 2009-11-28 at 03.43.37

Seriously, it’s very good and no blood.


David Archer at the University of Chicago teaches an excellent course based on his book UNDERSTANDING THE FORECAST. If you read this site regularly, you will know that I have highly recommended that book several times.

The course is for NON science majors who want an understanding of the science behind the IPCC reports. Basic math only (and that’s really enough to have a very good understanding of what is happening.)

Archer has videotaped EVERY lecture in the course and put it online for free. Getting into the course itself is difficult, it’s among the most popular at the university. It gets rave reviewes from the students who have taken it.

I would recommend getting the book and reading each chapter, after you watch the lectures.

If you go through all the lectures, you will have a new understanding of the immense amount of silliness on most of these junk science sites.

This is really an excellent resource and you cannot beat the price. Click the image below to go to the site!

Also: Environment Canada has an excellent FAQ on Climate Change. One of the best out there actually. Very detailed. (Yeah, they are in on the global conspiracy too.)

Screen shot 2009-11-27 at 01.41.01

Note: The images in this post are not related to it. They are from a new update on Climate Science published jointly by a large group of climate experts. It’s based on the most recent published papers and is an unofficial, but peer reviewed update of the last IPCC report. I think they match well with the subject of this post. Hopefully they will make the point I’m trying to make.


I’ve had a bunch of emails and calls this week over the stolen emails from the U. of East Anglia. A thief hacked into a server at the University of East Anglia in the UK. They grabbed a bunch of private and personal emails from some of the climate experts and released carefully selected (cherry picked) bits online. The selections were made to fit the agenda of those who subscribe to the belief that climate science is all an international conspiracy. They also tried to hack into a blog site run by some NASA scientists here in the U.S.

Let me make it clear that I do not deal in stolen material and none of that will be published here. I doubt very many reputable news organisations will either. The thieves will be caught, and I strongly suspect the way it will happen is by tracing back who had what snippet when.

Screen shot 2009-11-24 at 03.02.04Thousands of papers, by thousands of scientists have led to every major scientific society on the planet endorsing the IPCC reports. So you can believe them, or a gaggle of thieves releasing cherry picked snippets of stolen property.

Yes I used the word thieves not thief. Ask any cop. They will tell you that knowingly dealing in stolen merchandise makes you a thief.

Does it really matter?


What matters is the science.

The science in the journals. Not the fake science written by those with a political cause. Having trouble telling which is which. See Where NOT to get your science.

The AMS put out a statement on this as well Friday. Update: James Hansen the top NASA Climate expert has weighed in with what I think are very sane words.

I’m an optimist and believe most people have a fundamental ability to make logical choices. While the junk science may confuse them initially, when it comes down to it, the choice is simple. To believe the same very small set of shrill voices, or the thousands of peer reviewed papers that have led to every major scientific society on the planet endorsing the IPCC reports.

That’s the choice.

Screen shot 2009-11-24 at 02.57.11Yes, some will side with the  gaggle of thieves releasing cherry picked snippets of stolen property. Some people distrust anything to do with science and they will side with those who are always looking for a government conspiracy to expose.

Most, however, will make the logical choice.  A few will email me asking for places to get reliable science info without the politics. That I can do, and if I can’t I have a bunch of friends who are much brighter than me, who can.

Just writing this post is not something I planned to do, but I have come across a couple of very well written posts, that are  telling about those using  shrill claims of hoax and global conspiracy.

The first is a post on Real Climate by Dr. Gavin Schmidt of NASA GISS. He is one of the World’s top experts on Climate Physics. It’s well worth reading: (I’ve inserted a few line breaks for formatting)

“…let’s examine what is actually happening in the public sphere. There are undeniably people who fervently do not wish for results of the science to be true. This can be motivated many things – vested interest, inclination, background etc. Regardless of why that exists, it undoubtedly does.

However, among the scientific community no-one doubts that humans are causing CO2 (and other GHGs) to rise, no-one is confused about the fact that there is a greenhouse effect and that we are enhancing it, and no-one is in denial of the fact that the temperatures (as predicted) are in fact warming. This information, and the vast amount of ancillary data, theory and modelling that exists has led the science community to warn that continued emissions of GHGs risk changing the climate substantially. Given the first group of people’s inclination to not want this to be true, there have been (and continue to be) determined efforts to undermine the scientific conclusions.

Screen shot 2009-11-24 at 02.59.34One of the most effective tactics is to continually claim that data is being hidden and that the process is not open and transparent. This is successful, not because anything is actually being hidden, but because regardless of what data is available you can always ask for more.

Five years ago it was a demand than Mann make his code and data available – it was, and nothing changed. A couple of years ago the demand was for the GISTEMP data and code – that was made available… and nothing changed. The requests then moved to CRU, who because of their agreements with the Met Centers, can’t release everything in the public domain. This fact has been greatly exploited by people who conveniently ignore it when making ever more harassing demands for ‘the data’.

Whether they get it or not, nothing will change. The target will simply be moved. Meanwhile, the real need for openness and transparency is set back because the vast majority of demands are very clearly partisan and insincere.

As for the peer-reviewed literature, bad papers (such as are described in the emails) sometimes make it through the process due to various events. Note that the papers in question are just bad – they come to unjustified conclusions based on faulty reasoning, bad analysis, and (often) a desire to get the ‘right’ result. Screen shot 2009-11-24 at 03.03.16This is not unique to papers that go counter to the mainstream (there are many bad papers on the other side too), but these are the ones that get picked up by the denial-o-sphere and are loudly touted in Senate hearings as if they undermined a century of work.

Improving the functioning of the peer-review system so that this happens less often is a good idea – because it will lessen the chance of bad papers of any stripe wasting everyone’s time. Note that peer-review is simply an (imperfect) filter that allows scientists to focus on work that has passed a least a basic screening (usually). When we have to respond to obviously flawed, but highly publicised, papers it takes us away from doing real research and focusing on issues about which there is genuine (as opposed to manufactured) uncertainty.

Screen shot 2009-11-24 at 03.04.57 If people want genuine public debate over issues that matter, the way is clear: Stop fuelling fake witchhunts looking for evidence that GW is a hoax, stop continually going back to long debunked talking points, and instead engage with scientists, here and elsewhere, on real questions.

You will actually find scientists of all stripes remarkably keen to talk about their research and it’s implications once you get past the ‘when did you stop hiding your data’ type accusations. Not everyone has unlimited patience in dealing with constant attacks on their integrity that comes with being in the public eye on these issues, and so many choose not to be involved in that public debate at all. That is a shame, but it’s not a mystery.”

There is another rather long piece you really should read as well. Written by Dr. Jeff Masters the co-founder of Weather Underground. It’s a real eye opener.

Read it here.

OK, that’s it.

Back to the science.

It’s really a lot more interesting.


Image from the NSF

Image from the NSF

I’ve been keeping a big secret.

Way back in August I had a call from a friend  who works at the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) in Washington, DC. She asked if I’d heard that the National Science Foundation was opening up applications for science reporters to visit Antarctica.

In case you have never looked into the logistics of going to the South Pole, let me educate you!

I have.

Oh, have I!

It’s NOT serviced by your local airline. It’s not serviced by ANY commercial airline.

Basically, unless you are a scientist working on an NSF funded project at the pole, or a very rich or well funded explorer, (That leaves me out) you are not going to get there. It’s very expensive to do anything there and very dangerous. I keep getting told that “Antarctica is a beautiful place where it’s very easy to die”.

Getting there is not easy and it’s not without danger. A mild summer day at the South Pole is -30C. A cold summer day is 50 degrees below zero on the old Fahrenheit scale.

The South Pole is on top of two miles of ice at the bottom of the world. Elevation is over 3,000 meters. The air is very thin and very cold. The weather can change in seconds.

So with all of this in mind and the fact that it’s been my life long dream to visit Antarctica, the call from Ann Posegate at NEEF got my attention real quick. She suggested a joint application from us both. Me at WHNT -TV and she at NEEF. We went for it!

Greenland and Antarctica are home to the planets only remaining ice sheets. Greenland pic by Dan

Greenland and Antarctica are home to the planets only remaining ice sheets. Greenland pic by Dan

With an incredibly short deadline, we put together an application asking to see the sites where all this incredible  science is being done and the people doing it. We told the NSF that we would share it with the world if they let us go.

Today we got the official word.

They said YES!

In case you did not know…The most important science on the planet is being conducted in Antarctica.

The importance of the climate science speaks for itself. What you may not know about are the incredible discoveries of life being made. Life that’s surviving in environments that were thought impossible for sustaining life. Guess who is really interested in that??

NASA-That’s who!

NASA will soon be sending new probes to other planets and asteroids looking for life. The science in the Antarctic freezer is giving them  new clues on what to look for out there.

Think about that. It’s one of the fundamental questions of science. It’s one of the fundamental questions of humanity!

Are we alone in the cosmos?

We will fly from Christ Church to McMurdo and then to the Pole. Map from geology.com Mouse image for full size.

We will fly from Christ Church to McMurdo and then to the Pole. Map from geology.com Mouse image for full size.

We were selected from a field of many applicants, and I’m the first Meteorologist working for a local TV station to ever make it. Two years ago I visited the High Arctic (on my own dime and it wasn’t cheap). They say it gets in your blood. I think it does.

So in early January, I will fly from Christchurch New Zealand and land at the bottom of the world. Best of all, I am going to take you along with pictures and video and any other way I can think of. (Yes, they have internet down there.)

Most of all I want young people to realize that science is not sitting in a room reading a book! It’s about discovery. Dale Andersen knows that.  I’ve been trading some email with him from the Dry Valley in Antarctica. He is one of the people I want to tell you about.

I cannot wait to get back to the great white quiet. The polar regions are special places. They are unlike anywhere else on Earth, and this time I am going to stand at the very bottom of the world.

Oh, and yes my wife does indeed think I am crazy.

More soon!


Current CO2 Level in the Atmosphere