Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Nevada City Advocate, July 17 issue

Until the Nevada City Advocate's website gets up and running, I'll post the headlines of each issue.

July 17 2009 issue (#3) contents:

* Alpha building purchased; Nevada City men hope to lease space to Calif. Organics
* What a summer night it was (hot summer nights #1 in nc)
* Another way to see our world (Parker and Crabb exhibit at Center for the Arts)
* Sustainability Center off to a fast start
* Businesses are sprouting up downtown
* Briarpatch wants to make social media more social
* The Who tribute band to light up Cooper's
* Dead Ahead, Cheatin' Buzzies to play at Miners Foundry
* Community Calendar
* Early Riser Toastmasters announce award winners
* Saturday Farmers Market update

Nevada City Advocate, July 3 issue

Until the Nevada City Advocate's website gets up and running, I'll post the headlines of each issue.

July 3 2009 issue (#1) contents:
* We're taking the plunge; local couple starts a weekly community newspaper
* Miners Foundry makes history
* Nevada City man purchases historic Powell House
* Crime writer to swap, sign his books at community giveaway
* July 4 looks to be a blast; day starts with a parade in GV and ends with live music and fireworks at fairgrounds
* Nevada City repays loan, overdue parking fees
* Council delays decision on pot dispensary
* Top gun fighter jets coming to county air show
* City wants a second look at county's road-naming requirements
* Let's control our own fates (editorial)
* Newspaper begins to take on a life of its own (publisher's column)
* Los Lobos, Indigo Girls part of a global lineup (California Worldfest July 16-19)
* Community Calendar
* Blues and brews coming to fairgrounds (Sat July 25)
* Bella Nota concert to be held July 18 at The Roth Estate
* Heard on the Street (What do you want to see in your community newspaper?)
* Phillips School of Massage has special touch
* Nevada City to host conference workshops
* 2009 Nevada City Classic photos

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Nevada City Advocate, July 10 issue

Until the Nevada City Advocate's website gets up and running, I'll post the headlines of each issue.

July 10 2009 issue (#2) contents:
* Smothers Brothers to bring show here
* City to draft cannabis co-op ordinance - Council swears in new mayor, vice mayor [Reinette Senum and Robert Bergman]
* Rolling Stone writer to be among film festival judges
* Report: City water quality exceeds state standards
* Music in the Mountains new conductor is from Budapest
* Broad St next in line for repaving
* Nevada City man new board member for Center for the Arts
* Wilson triplets bring local flavor to Worldfest
* Food education being served at [Nevada City] Farmers Market
* Americana [festival] brightens July 4th on the Ridge
* Community calendar
* Housing market shows signs of bouncing back (realtor column)
* Compost containers can take various forms (gardening column)
* New mayor should bring her own style to council's top job (editorial)
* A new chapter for Nevada City (business groups, city work to bring harmony to downtown) - Pat Butler's view
* Letter - Weber needs help to keep our water
* Should the City Council allow a medical marijuana dispensary to do business in Nevada City? (Heard on the street)

"A free press is not a privilege but an organic necessity in a great society." - Walter Lippmann

Website: Nevada City Advocate
On Twitter: @NCAdvocate
As of this writing, neither is active; but in the paper they say they'll be updating the website every Tuesday. This makes sense - make the news available to all, but late; for timely news you need to get the paper paper (and read the ads)

Monday, July 06, 2009

Layman's 1-minute guide to smart thinking about climate

You don't even have to look at the science to know.
(but if you want to, there are smart vs. not-so-smart ways to do so)
'I don't think the American public has gripped in its gut what could happen...We're looking at a scenario where there's no more agriculture in California. I don't actually see how they can keep their cities going.' ...up to 90% of the Sierra snow-pack could disappear...'
- U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu (*)
(so yes, it matters; see what two with a track record for prescience, climatologist James Hansen (pdf) and Nobel economist Paul Krugman, say about where we're headed if we continue to delay taking action. )

How can you, a nonscientist, get the best climate science understanding for the least effort? Here are a variety of smart approaches, from the speediest approach down to more time consuming ones.

* Quickest: See what reputable groups say. In short, there is a scientific consensus - see this huge list of reputable orgs, including - to my knowledge - all the major scientific societies who've weighed in.
(yes, it's fine to rely on this "consider the source" strategy; we do it all the time. Here's the credibility spectrum.)
(Q: but what about "oh, the scientists are all biased"? Answer: a critical look finds the evidence is against this claim.)

* See the evidence: read The Science of Global Warming - How do we know we're not wrong? (pdf).
(In short - multiple lines of evidence and theory all point the same way; and predictions have been borne out.)

* Understand why there still seems to be controversy among the public:
- Cranking up the back-and-forth noise is an effective PR strategy to delay action on climate: when the noise hides the signal(i.e. the actual information on the threat), the public stays ill-informed and won't pressure for action.
(Climatologist Gavin Schmidt points this out.)
- Watch You CAN Argue with the Facts, exposing fossil fuel industry efforts to manipulate the public.

* Or, if you have time in spades, you can know thine planet's "enemy"*, by checking out some claims from a contrarian climate blog. A smart strategy for doing this: wait about a day, then scan the headlines at my climate-related science blog aggregator Warming 101 for a post debunking it*; typically someone will have done so*.
(I checked out the claims at a local contrarian blog for an entire month, in Sept 2007; it's not worth doing again. I'd started out assuming good faith misunderstandings, and got increasingly frustrated as my corrections had zero effect on the ensuing output of the blogger, a strong-willed local emeritus engineer; unfortunately the tone of my comments reflected this.)
(There's no shortage of contrarian websites you can try this calibration with. These sites commonly tout short-term variation as contraindicating longterm trends - they confuse weather(short term) with climate(long term), and they lump weathermen in with climate scientists. They'll also tout "lists of experts" rich in folks with no climate expertise; e.g. the anti-regulation group The Heartland Institute still lists biochemist/molecular biologist Bruce Ames among these "global warming experts", six months after Ames wrote them pointing out that he had never claimed to have any climate expertise.

* Become an expert yourself; learn the physics of climate from U. Chicago climatologist Ray Pierrehumbert's "Climate from First Principles" ( read it now, or when it's published by Cambridge University Press.)

And please, talk, gently, about the threat posed by climate change, to your less-clued-in friends and neighbors; we're all in this together, we should be on the same side. It matters; and you owe it to the young people you know.
(And if you still don't care, keep in mind that they will care, and they'll be choosing your nursing home.)

"If only it were true that all that was at stake was a debating society trophy." *

my great great grandchildren
ask me in dreams
what did you do while the planet was plundered?
what did you do when the earth was unraveling?

Surely you did something
when the seasons started failing?
... *

"My measure is to imagine how this will all read to youngsters in 50
and 100 years, if they look back to assess how well we did by them,
managing what would become their world." *

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Why "argument from authority" is a perfectly good strategy for nonexperts

Excerpts from the excellent Climate Change and Argumentative Fallacies by Julian Sanchez.*
In short: If you're a layman - as most of us are, in most areas - it makes sense to adopt the experts' views - as long as they are, in fact, credible experts in the field in question.
We’re accustomed to calling the “argument from authority” a fallacy, but in fact, that’s what the vast majority of us have to go on most of the time. Provided you ensure that authority’s authority actually applies to the field in question, it’s as good a strategy as any.

Obviously, when it comes to an argument between trained scientific specialists, they ought to ignore the consensus and deal directly with the argument on its merits. But most of us are not actually in any position to deal with the arguments on the merits. (The gauging your own competence level well enough to know when to assess arguments and when to assess arguers.)

...[The "baffle-em-with-BS works unfortunately well, since] a peddler of horseshit...need only worry about what sounds plausible. If my opponent is trying to explain what’s true, he may be constrained to introduce concepts that take a while to explain and are hard to follow, trying the patience (and perhaps wounding the ego) of the audience.
[When] the setup is “snappy, intuitively appealing argument without obvious problems” vs. “rebuttal I probably don’t have time to read, let alone analyze closely” ...we’ll systematically tend to go least outside our own necessarily limited domains of knowledge. Indeed, in such cases, trying to evaluate the arguments on their merits will tend to lead to an erroneous conclusion more often than simply trying to gauge the credibility of the various disputants.

If climate change is actually going to be profoundly harmful, then it’s precisely the sort of problem libertarian principles say the state ought to be trying to solve.
and from a commenter:
"Most fallacies aren’t really fallacies when you reinterpret them as ...reasons to give an idea more credence rather than iron-clad syllogisms. Without the “argument from authority” and the “ad hominem fallacy”, you would either never get lunch or you’d give all your money to Nigerian spammers."


Intuitively, we grasp this.

Related, from The One Minute MBA -
"There is much made by people who long for the days of their fourth form debating society about the fallacy of "argumentum ad hominem". There is, as I have mentioned in the past, no fancy Latin term for the fallacy of "giving known liars the benefit of the doubt", but it is in my view a much greater source of avoidable error in the world..."

The climate science consensus - organizations

Pulled from LogicalScience's The Consensus on Global Warming: From Science to Industry & Religion.

U.S. National Academy of Sciences; American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS); American Meteorological Society (AMS); National Research Council; Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society (CMOS); Federal Climate Change Science Program; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); American Geophysical Union; Geological Society of America; American Chemical Society; Federal Climate Change Science Program, 2006 - commissioned by the Bush administration in 2002; Engineers Australia (The Institution of Engineers Australia); American Association of State Climatologists; US Geological Survey (USGS); National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) ; NASA's Goddard Institute of Space Studies (GISS); World Meteorological Organization; Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospherice Sciences; International Council on Science; Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); American Astronomical Society; Chinese Academy of Sciences, China; Royal Society, United Kingdom; Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia; Academia Brasiliera de Ciencias, Brazil; Royal Society of Canada, Canada; Academie des Sciences, France; Deutsche Akademie der Naturforscher, Germany; Indian National Science Academy, India; Accademia dei Lincei, Italy; Science Council of Japan, Japan; Australian Academy of Sciences; Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Sciences and the Arts; Brazilian Academy of Sciences; Royal Society of Canada; Caribbean Academy of Sciences; Chinese Academy of Sciences; French Academy of Sciences; German Academy of Natural Scientists Leopoldina; Indian National Science Academy; Indonesian Academy of Sciences; Royal Irish Academy; Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei (Italy); Academy of Sciences Malaysia; Academy Council of the Royal Society of New Zealand; Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences; Royal Society (UK); Woods Hole Research Center; Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC); The Australian Meteorological And Oceanographic Society; the American Institute of Physics; The Pentagon; Presidents from 319+ Universities and Colleges; Arnold Schwarzenegger; Tony Blair; former President Clinton; British Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks; John McCain; The Economist; USA Today; BBC; The Australian; and the Christian Science Monitor.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

My "behind climate inactivism" research; status and location

I have spent many moons digging (extremely inefficiently, I'm sorry to say, with much time spent in blind alleys, off in the weeds, cowering under the couch, you name it...) behind a few of the "pellets" of climate disinformation that have been spread to, and spread by, the climate denial-and-delay community.

I've written about them here at Daily Kos and here at TPM Cafe. They're not conclusive, they're not done, and those of you who want hard and fast proof, rather than documentation of investigations-in-progress, will find the browsing elsewhere to be far more rewarding; I'm still working on them.
They're not conclusive, they're not done, and they're not all that great. But we do what we can, if we feel it's a world worth saving, and this is something I have to do.