Wednesday, December 21, 2011

My AGU Bucket List: A Personal Memoir of ‘The Community’ | The Yale Forum on Climate Change & The Media

[Warmist John Cook] High on the list was the handful of Skeptical Science contributors within traveling distance of San Francisco. Months earlier, we had begun planning the inaugural Skeptical Science Shindig. In the weeks leading up to AGU, the party swelled from an intimate get-together as in our excitement, we invited other bloggers and scientists. Here, I met Peter Sinclair from Climate Denial Crock of the Week, Jeff Masters from Wunderground, Michael Tobis from Planet 3.0 and many others. The problem with the evening was each conversation was so engrossing, you had to tear yourself away in order to talk to someone else you hadn’t met yet. The consensus at the end of the night was that the SkS shindig should be an annual fixture. Fingers crossed.

...Next on my Bucket List was meeting all the climate scientists whose research I’d been consuming over the years. This experience was best summed up by a fellow communicator who confided to me “at home, I’m used to being the smartest guy in the room, but at AGU, I’m usually the dumbest guy in the room”. I’m not sure I could relate to the former (there are some pretty smart folk at the University of Queensland) but I certainly could sympathize with the latter. I was sharing beers, coffees, and meals with some of the most brilliant climate minds on the planet. These were scientists working at the very edge of scientific knowledge, making significant and historical contributions to our understanding of what’s happening to our planet. It was a humbling experience for a blogger from Brisbane.

There was a flip-side to brushing shoulders with brilliance. They say organizing academics is like herding cats, and I observed this truism firsthand when a small group of scientists spent an hour of debating, dithering, making phone calls, and consulting maps before deciding where to go for a beer. Scientists are an independent lot (in fact, the most skeptical people I’ve met) and the idea of academics scattered across the world cobbling together a global conspiracy that engineered thousands of lines of evidence to point to a consistent conclusion is quite laughable.

Flashback: CRU’s Dr. Phil Jones, world renowned climatologist, can’t even plot a trend in Excel | Watts Up With That?

Phil Jones spends much of his time looking down his nose at the heathen, but then confesses to Bob Ward that he is unable to calculate a trend on his own, as in this hilarious exchange at Bishop Hill:

I’m not adept enough (totally inept) with excel to do this now as no-one who knows how to is here.

 Nor it seems in Matlab, R, ODL, Fortran or any other language. No wonder that he regarded someone who could calculate principal components (like Mann) as a sort of computational prodigy.

Last year, Phil was ranked one of England’s top 100 scientists. Just imagine the ranking that he could have achieved if he knew how to calculate a trend by himself.

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