Two or three blogs this morning focus on an argument brewing about hurricanes. RealClimate gets involved (in spite of its own best efforts) in a comment thread following its latest comments on ocean warming; Prometheus points out their editing of his comment and places the charge of unfairness at the feet of Messrs. Mann and Schmidt, and Uncle Eli gets on the case, too, wondering if they are feeling the strain.
In the meantime, this modest blog has as its number one post ‘What is the public opinion on climate change?’. It has attracted the most attention, and is what I’ll be following up later.
First, though, a small connection. It may be that a substantial proportion of the public is bemused by the science and confused by the apparently dysfunctional ‘Climate Science’ family (perhaps we’ll see a fly-on-the-wall type media event soon…), who seem to spend their time in public showing off, arguing with one another, points scoring, or blowing off (Please note the ‘seem’ – this is public perception I’m suggesting here, not my own). Before I go on to the pressing issue of what the Man/Woman In The Street (MIT/WIT) thinks, I merely pause to wonder whether such a TV show would more resemble ‘The Osbournes’, ‘American Dad’, or ‘The Office’? Could be a hard call. Suggestions on a postcard…
More seriously, it might be worth reminding those scientists in the public gaze, whose words are taken and considered by others, to think about a piece of advice popular with my (adorable) mother-in-law: ‘…pas devant les enfants…’
And then there’s the point about the ‘hurricane question’. This returns time and time again on the blogs. Sometimes, the interest is genuine. This is a field which has excited attention for some years, as Tropical Cyclones (TCs, the name for hurricanes and typhoons together), are amongst the most powerful of natural forces, and the most photogenic. Not only is there the culturally oriented sense of ‘superhuman force’ which is often a response to such events (‘awe’ of the original kind), but also there is the long cinematic tradition which has helped embed these events into our consciousness as agents of change and centres of human drama (from ‘the Wind’, through ‘Wizard of Oz’, to ‘Twister’ and ‘Superstorm’).
But I have a suspicion that part of the continuing persistence of the hurricane question, on the blogs, at least, is more suspect. This being an area of considerable uncertainty and disagreement, and a focal-point, since Katrina, of worry about climate change impacts, it is an easy step for a ‘disinformationist’ to gain points at the expense of the ‘other side’, simply by throwing the question into the mix at any opportunity. The resultant disagreement, contradictory information and general ‘upmanship’ which generally proceeds from such moments is likely to play into the hands of those who want the public to be confused, and who want us to be suspicious of both scientists and the quasi-mystical ‘scientific process’ which they ostensively champion as the source of ‘truth’ about our uncertain futures.
Does this add up? Does it even make sense? Perhaps it is something for science bloggers to consider.