The peer reviewed literature has spoken.

Stephan Lewandowsky



Much confusion and spin infects current public discussion of “peer reviewed” research: first we had Maurice Newman, the Chairman of the ABC, who suggested that “distinguished scientists” challenge the overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change by “peer reviewed research”, although he oddly failed to name such research.

Now we have John McLean, an author of a lone article that was celebrated by some media scribes as overturning the scientific consensus on climate change, cry“censorship” because his response to a devastating deconstruction of his work in the peer reviewed literature was not accepted for publication.

So what exactly is peer reviewed research? How does it work? Continue reading

Bubbling sea signals severe coral damage this century

Dobu Island in Papua New Guinea has active underwater fumaroles (Jennifer Marohasy posted on it a few years back) that seep high concentrations of CO2 into the environment, in turn acidifying the surrounding ocean. These vents have been active for at least 50 years: according to village elders  these seeps have existed at that location throughout their life (the local traditional site name “Illi Illi Bua Bua” translates to “Blowing Bubbles”).

Katherina Fabricius and a collaboration of scientists have published an amazing article in the journal Nature Climate Change looking at a gradient across these seeps and the impacts on coral reef ecosystems. The results are striking:

Seascapes at a, control site (‘low pCO2’: pH~8.1), b, moderate seeps (‘high pCO2’: pH 7.8–8.0), and c, the most intense vents (pH<7.7), showing progressive loss of diversity and structural complexity with increasing pCO2. d, Map of the main seep site along the western shore of Upa-Upasina (marked as grey; map: Supplementary Fig. S1). Colour contours indicate seawater pH, and the letters indicate the approximate locations of seascapes as shown in a–c.

“The implications of the observed ecological changes for the future of coral reefs are severe. The decline in structurally complex framework-forming corals at lowered pH is likely to reduce habitat availability and quality for juvenile fish and many invertebrates. The low coral juvenile densities (including those of Porites) probably slows coral recovery after disturbance, suggesting reduced community resilience. The loss of crustose coralline algae that serve as settlement substratum for coral larvae probably impedes larval recruitment, and the doubling of non-calcareous macroalgae reduces the available space for larvae to settle. Susceptibility to storm breakage would also increase, if internal macrobioeroder densities in massive Porites are indicative of borer densities in other coral taxa and reef substrata.”

Bearing in mind these caveats, our data nevertheless suggest that tropical coral reefs with high coral cover can still exist at seawater pH of 7.8 (750 ppm pCO2), albeit with severe losses in biodiversity, structural complexity and resilience. As pH declines from 8.1 to 7.8 units, the loss of the stenotopic fast-growing structurally complex corals progressively shifts reef communities to those dominated by slow-growing, long-lived and structurally simple eurytopic massive Porites (Fig. 1a,b).

Reef development ceases at 7.7 pH units (980 ppm pCO2), suggesting these values are terminal thresholds for any form of coral reef development.  T

The big question that remains is how elevated sea temperatures will interact with the effects of acidification.  So far, it doesn’t look hopeful (Anthony et al. 2008). More from the BBC and Sciencedaily. Unsurprisingly, no word from Andrew Bolt, Anthony Watts or Jennifer Marohasy.

Worst ever carbon emissions leave climate on the brink

Fiona Harvey, Environment correspondent, Sunday 29 May 2011 22.00 BST

Air Pollution, Canada. Economic recession has failed to curb rising emissions, undermining hope of keeping global warming to safe levels Photograph: Dave Reede/All Canada Photos/Corbis

Greenhouse gas emissions increased by a record amount last year, to the highest carbon output in history, putting hopes of holding global warming to safe levels all but out of reach, according to unpublished estimates from the International Energy Agency.

The shock rise means the goal of preventing a temperature rise of more than 2 degrees Celsius – which scientists say is the threshold for potentially “dangerous climate change” – is likely to be just “a nice Utopia”, according to Fatih Birol, chief economist of the IEA. It also shows the most serious global recession for 80 years has had only a minimal effect on emissions, contrary to some predictions. Continue reading

Bolt distorts facts about the Great Barrier Reef again: doesn’t understand or wilful distortion?

Update: Andrew Bolt is at it again.  Either he doesn’t understand the science or he is wilfully distorting the information surrounding the impact of climate change on coral reefs.

See also this previous posting (Bolt gets it wrong again) and this post on record mass coral bleaching occurring right now off Western Australia.

Update: this piece was first published back on Feb 10th, 2009 – I thought it would be worth bringing up to the top to highlight Bolt’s ongoing war against science. Continue reading

Climate Commission science update released

Contribution by Dr Chris McGrath

A useful update on climate science relevant to the Australian policy debate was released today by the Climate Commission, authored by Professor Will Steffen, Executive Director of the Climate Change Institute at the Australian National University, Canberra.

The report is titled, “The Critical Decade: Climate science, risks and responses”. It provides a short summary of recent climate science and is filled with graphics and key pieces of information for informing the current policy debate.

There are many news reports about it, including the ABC, Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Australian.

In an unexpected move, retiring Liberal Senator Nick Minchin quickly denounced the report as “nonsense” and because it was co-authored by the anti-Christ, Hitler, and Osama bin Laden combined in one.* Continue reading

Australia more vulnerable but prepared, says UN climate chief

After all the misinformation bad reporting from The Australian (Summer of disaster ‘not climate change’: Rajendra Pachauri), here is a more accurate piece about what Dr Rayendra Pachauri actually said when visiting Australia this week.

By Tom Arup, The Age

May 17, 2011

SCIENTIFIC evidence linking climate change to the intensity and frequency of natural disasters such as bushfires, floods and drought is mounting, the head of the world’s peak climate science body says.

Dr Rajendra Pachauri, the chairman of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), said a new report on extreme weather events to be released later this year will support previous findings natural disasters are increasing in frequency and intensity around the world. Continue reading

The denial house of cards.

USA Today: Evidence of plagiarism and complaints about the peer-review process have led a statistics journal to retract a federally funded study that condemned scientific support for global warming

May 16, 2011

Hockey Stick small

Climate science is a solid edifice built around the work of thousands of scientists, vast amounts of data, and countless peer-reviewed publications.  As the National Academy of Sciences report put it, “Although the scientific process is always open to new ideas and results, the fundamental causes and consequences of climate change have been established by many years of scientific research, are supported by many different lines of evidence, and have stood firm in the face of careful examination, repeated testing, and the rigorous evaluation of alternative theories and explanation.” Continue reading

Climate change logic lost in translation


By Prof Stephan Lewandowsky, Australian Professorial Fellow, Cognitive Science Laboratories at University of Western Australia

Reposted from The Conversation (May 16 2011)

Quick, consider the following: all polar bears are animals. Some animals are white.

Therefore, some polar bears are white. Is this conclusion logically implied or not?

There is a 75% chance you might endorse this conclusion despite it being logically false. Continue reading

REPORT: Koch Fueling Far Right Academic Centers At Universities Across The Country

An interesting post at Think Progress By Lee Fang on May 11th, 2011.

Corporate takeover of academic freedom!  You would have to conclude that Florida State University President Eric J. Barron needs to do a little deep thinking about what his institute stands for. He wouldn’t want to end up as the president of Florida State University of Petroleum Products (FSUPP) would he?

Yesterday, ThinkProgress highlighted reports from the St. Petersburg Times and the Tallahassee Democrat regarding a Koch-funded economics department at Florida State University (FSU). FSU had accepted a $1.5 million grant from a foundation controlled by petrochemical billionaire Charles Koch on the condition that Koch’s people would have a free hand in selecting professors and approving publications. The simmering controversy sheds light on the vast influence of the Koch political machine, which spans from the top conservative think tanks, Republican politicians, a small army of contracted lobbyists, and Tea Party front groups in nearly every state. Continue reading