The Spirit of Mawson

After a relaxing break from blogging and social media, I made the “mistake” yesterday – while at Gatwick waiting for a flight – of retweeting Chris Turney’s Guardian article arguing that the Antarctic trip that he was leading was science and not tourism. Ruth Dixon then responded with a tweet asking

I was aware of the journalists and the tourists but wasn’t specifically aware of a 12-year old or a 73-year old (not sure why being 73 is an issue though). I responded in that vein and the responses I got seemed to indicate that by not being specifically aware of a 12-year old on board that I was unaware of the existence of tourists. I need to keep reminding myself that even if I’m interacting with an academic, it doesn’t mean that the questions they ask aren’t leading.

I actually haven’t been following the details of this trip particularly closely. I’ve been on holiday and have been trying to avoid the ups and downs of climate change blogging/tweeting for a few days at least. I’m aware that the Spirit of Mawson expedition included tourists, but also included scientists and has a science case. I’m not sufficiently familiar with the field to know the calibre of the scientists or the value of the proposed science, but there clearly was an intention to do actual science. I also find it slightly odd that the very people who typically argue that you can’t trust government funded scientists are critical of an expedition part funded by paying passengers.

So, what do I actually think of this trip? To be honest, I don’t really know. It’s quite common for journalists to tag along with Antarctic expeditions, so that doesn’t seem like a big deal. Mawson is one of the great Antarctic explorers (his story is remarkable), so a trip to celebrate his expedition more than 100 years ago seems, to me at least, something worth doing. I am, however, not a fan of Antarctic tourism. It’s a pristine environment and I’d rather we minimised how much goes on there (maybe that would argue against a celebration of Mawson trip too, I guess). However, Antarctic tourism exists and I’m not sure one can specifically criticise this expedition for including some tourists. As far as I’m aware, the ship was suitable and the crew well-trained. I don’t know if they did something that was especially risky or not. Ships do get stuck in the Antarctic sea-ice. It’s a known hazard and has happened before. I have a great deal of sympathy for those on other vessels who had to curtail their research so as to take part in the rescue attempt. Must be incredibly frustrating. However, it is something that sometimes happens when operating in a hazardous environment. I’m sure that most would rather that others were willing to abandon their science so as to help them than to know that if something went wrong they were on their own.

Overall, I don’t really know how to judge the Spirit of Mawson expedition. If it turns out that they did things that were especially risky, then the criticism may well be justified. If it was simply an unfortunate turn of events and could have happened to any similar expedition, then maybe not. I’m sure that many of the other scientists who had to abandon research programmes to attempt a rescue would rather it hadn’t taken place, but everything’s easier in retrospect. In a global sense it doesn’t really matter. Even if it turns out that the expedition was poorly planned and that they could have avoided this if a proper risk assessment had taken place, it doesn’t suddenly imply something significant with respect to climate science. At this stage, I neither feel comfortable attacking or defending the expedition. I’m glad that all the passengers are safely off the ship and on their way home. Maybe those who appear to want this to be judged poorly should ask themselves why they are so keen to do so. Do they think that if it is justifiable to judge it poorly, that that would have some greater significance? I can’t see what, but I’ve rather given up trying to understand the way some people think when it comes to anything associated with cimate science.

About these ads
This entry was posted in Climate change, Global warming, Science and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

307 Responses to The Spirit of Mawson

  1. As I said in the post, I’m still to be convinced either way. I notice that the article you refer to says but this tourism has to be monitored and regulated so that operators can be sure of getting help if need be. I agree with that but others are arguing that it wasn’t only tourism. If it turns out that they took unnecessary risks then the criticism may well be justified. If it was just an unfortunate turn of events, maybe not. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really change the results of climate science.

  2. plazaeme says:

    If it was tourism and not science, but was (and still is) publicized as climate science, … some may think PR operations masked as climate science are quite common.

  3. Rachel says:

    I saw those tweets from yesterday and thought the questions were loaded. Personally, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with there being a 12-year-old and a 73-year-old on board. The 12-year-old was one of the scientist’s sons? I did see a link to a blog the 12-year-old had been writing but I can’t find it now. Perhaps someone else knows where it is? I just thought lucky kid! What an amazing experience for him.

    Lots of people include their children in their work and provided they mitigate the risks, I think this is fine and probably a good thing. Don’t people want their children to understand what they do and to take an interest in it? From what I’ve read, none of the passengers were in any danger at all.

    On the issue of Antarctic tourism, I’d like to say it’s fine because I’d quite like to go there myself one day :-) so I’m probably biased.

    If it does transpire that unnecessary risks were taken, then I would change my view. But I think they deserve the benefit of the doubt until and unless proven otherwise. Here’s what Chris Turney says:

    Unluckily for us, there appears to have been a mass breakout of thick, multiyear sea ice on the other side of the Mertz Glacier; years after the loss of the Mertz Glacier tongue. There was nothing to suggest this event was imminent. We have had regular updates on the state of the sea ice in the area and had been monitoring the region for the last year. We also had regular weather forecasts from two different sources: one from the Australian Antarctic Division base at Casey and the other a European company called Meteoexploration used by expeditioners. Both forecasts suggested consistent conditions.

    http://www.theguardian.com/science/antarctica-live/2014/jan/04/antarctic-expedition-was-worth-it-chris-turney

    I think they were just unlucky.

  4. johnrussell40 says:

    I note the Guardian have closed the comments on the article written by Chris Turney. The sneering nastiness from those in denial was despicable.

    To mix a few metaphors; one has to wonder whether the ‘cornered rat’ response is as a result of their starting to feel the heat due to the ground beginning to disappear from under their feet. I think it will become worse during 2014 and beyond, before they finally slink away, embarrassed by events, leaving society to deal with the mess caused by the delay in acting on climate change.

  5. tlitb1 says:

    Why not show the remaining 3 tweets in your interaction with Ruth Dixon?

    I.e.

    @ruth_dixon I don’t know. Your tweet is the first time I was aware of that. I would be reluctant to judge the entire trip on that basis.

    @theresphysics Suggest you read the expedition blog http://www.spiritofmawson.com/blog/

    @ruth_dixon I may well do, but I’ve been on holiday with the family. Don’t assume too much about my RT of an article.

    In that context it seems clear that Dixon asked if you agree with the headline you retweeted – in light of some information she provides – you professed ignorance of this information and Dixon then pointed you at the Mawson blog with no further comment. So knowing this I think this statement of yours at best, just sounds paranoid:

    I need to keep reminding myself that even if I’m interacting with an academic, it doesn’t mean that the questions they ask aren’t leading.

    You link to the Spirit of Mawson site but did you read the Mawson blog there before posting this? There is no indication I can see that you have.

  6. If it was tourism and not science, but was (and still is) publicized as climate science, … some may think PR operations masked as climate science are quite common.

    That may well be true, but doesn’t actually mean that it does have any significance with respect to climate science. It doesn’t help that certain organisations (GWPF for example) appear to be doing their best to somehow link what happened with this expedition to some kind of bigger picture with relevance for climate science.

    Rachel, It wouldn’t surprise that it was just bad luck. The ship was a genuine polar vessel – not simply a cruise liner – and the crew would likely have been taking the correct precautions. If that turns out not to be the case, then some criticism would be justified but I would also rather wait before making any kind of judgement. In fact, what I think is largely irrelevant.

  7. Rachel says:

    tlitb1,
    The blog is quite fascinating. Thanks for recommending it. It has confirmed for me that this was a science trip. Here’s a brief excerpt:

    Apologies for the short blog entry. The last 24 hours have been frantically busy. We have managed to get the team on the ice and started work exploring our environment and making scientific observations. Tracey has led her team to collect biopsy samples of Weddell Seas to get a better handle on diet for comparison to material collected a century ago while Erik has been leading the charge collecting ocean data off and on the sea ice edge. I hosted a Hangout on Air with Kerry-Jayne and had an fun conversation with Adelie penguins and a lone emperor penguin… and than half way through the broadcast an Orca turned up, breaking the surface, hissing as it went! This was all caught live and broadcast to the world. Must be a first! The Hangout is now online on the Chris Turney-Intrepid Science YouTube Channel. But the big update is Chris has led two recces to find a route to Cape Denison and returned with the news the ice is badly mixed up. Our tracked Argo works fantastically well on this surface but the other two machines only have wheels and keep getting bogged down. As a result we have repositioned the Shokalskiy further west so that a six person team led by Chris and I will attempt a new route. We’ve just landed and am about to head off. Hopefully have news for you in the next 24 hours.

    http://www.spiritofmawson.com/exploring-the-sea-ice-edge/

  8. tlitb1,
    You’re going to have to make a stronger case than that. The article I retweeted (which doesn’t mean endorsement btw) was arguing that it was not tourism, but science. Ruth asked me a question about a 12-year old and a 73-year old. I was unaware that there was a 12-year old and a 73-year old on the trip, but perfectly well aware that there were tourists and journalists. So, I think my response to her tweet was both honest and fine – why would I possibly suddenly decide to make a judgement based on discovering that there was a 12-year old on board? I don’t know the context or anything else about the 12-year old and the 73-year old (also not sure why 73-year olds couldn’t go).

    I have not read much of the blog. That is indeed true. It appears that you haven’t read this post, so I guess we’re even then.

  9. Rachel says:

    Anders,
    They are trying to get you to say something which they might be able to use against you in the sense that they can say, “ah hah, but you said blah, blah, blah”. It’s petty, pointless and irritating perhaps more so for you than anyone else.

  10. tlitb1,

    I need to keep reminding myself that even if I’m interacting with an academic, it doesn’t mean that the questions they ask aren’t leading.

    In fairness to Ruth, it was actually Jonathan Jones’s tweet I was thinking of when I wrote that

    So, that may have been a somewhat unfair assertion, although maybe not. Still not clear how a 12-year old and a 73-year old on board suddenly means it wasn’t science. There’s no question that there were tourists on board. The question is whether or not the expedition was fundamentally about science, whether the proposed science was worthwhile or not, and whether or not they took unnecessary risks. The existence of some tourists doesn’t suddenly negate the science.

  11. tlitb1 says:

    @andthentheresphysics

    So, I think my response to her tweet was both honest and fine – why would I possibly suddenly decide to make a judgement based on discovering that there was a 12-year old on board?

    You seem to be missing the fact I am only talking about the way you report your interaction with Ruth Dixon.

    Your tweet responses are perfectly fine, however it is your blog responses I have issue with – it this I pointed to:

    I need to keep reminding myself that even if I’m interacting with an academic, it doesn’t mean that the questions they ask aren’t leading.

    What do you think Ruth Dixon was “leading” you to think? Especially after now knowing that after you responded she merely pointed you at the Mawson blog without further comment.

    If you were curious about Ruth Dixon’s argument I would have preferred you would have made a more direct response to her rather than opine out loud on your blog that you think she is making “leading” statements whilst limiting your report of your interaction with her.

    Especially now you confirm you shallow uptake of Dixon’s advice, this post seems to be only about petty point scoring.

  12. tlitb1 says:

    In fairness to Ruth, it was actually Jonathan Jones’s tweet I was thinking of when I wrote that

    Then I assure you that this is utterly unclear and It seems you mean Ruth Dixon. I think you should correct that impression in your post above.

  13. tlitb1,
    Firstly, I would argue that asking me that question is leading. Look up what defines a leading question. Secondly, as I point out above, maybe it was a little unfair given that it was actually Jonathan Jones’s response that made me think that.

    Especially now you confirm you shallow uptake of Dixon’s advice, this post seems to be only about petty point scoring.

    In what way is it point scoring. You’ve added all the other tweets. If I’d deleted your comment maybe, but it’s all there now. I’m not really trying to score points, but I did find the twitter exchange yesterday irritating. I do expect better from academics and I don’t think someone responding to my “I don’t know but I’m not going judge something on that basis” by saying “read the blog” is particularly good way to engage. I don’t doubt that there were a 12-year old and a 73-year old on board. I simply fail to see how that alone means all that much. Try reading my post properly before criticising me for not reading another blog.

  14. Then I assure you that this is utterly unclear and It seems you mean Ruth Dixon. I think you should correct that impression in your post above.

    That’s what the comments are partly for. Plus, I still think Ruth tweet was leading. Why else would one ask the question she did?

  15. To be honest, I’m not looking for a fight with anyone about this. The “leading question” line was a bit of a throwaway comment, but not – in my opinion – entirely unreasonable. I think Twitter is rubbish and I think people use it to score points. If that wasn’t Ruth’s intent, then I’m happy to apologise. It, however, certainly came across that way.

  16. tlitb1 says:

    [You've made your point, tlitb1. We don't need to hear anymore about this otherwise we're going to go endlessly around in circles. Thanks. Rachel]

  17. OPatrick says:

    And tlitb1, perhaps you need to look at the impression you are giving – which to me is petty and point-scoring and shows no willingness to accept or understand Anders’ position.

    This whole episode (by which I mean the wider response to the story not just this blog post!) is a microcosm of the climate debate. There may (or may not) be valid criticisms but they are so overwhlemingly swamped by disingenuous and dishonest exaggerations that it becomes almost impossible to engage in any meaningful way. Any attempts to point out these exaggerations gets ‘interpreted’ as defending the opposite position.

  18. jsam says:

    I find it intriguing to slap commenters’ user names into Google and see what their history suggests. I suggest others may want to do the same with some of the more aggressive posters here. The trolls gather, believing an expedition in the Arctic is blood in the water. Sad, really.

  19. John, Indeed, I do the same sometimes myself. The response to this Antarctic (I presume you meant Antarctic, rather than Arctic) does appear to be somewhat revealing.

  20. OPatrick

    Any attempts to point out these exaggerations gets ‘interpreted’ as defending the opposite position.

    That is indeed a major issue. There are a number of common topics where some seem to think it’s either right or wrong. Any attempt at a nuanced position is then interpreted as defending something that they may regard as indefensible. I have no real idea if we will discover that there were major issues with this Antarctic trip. I certainly don’t wish to decide either way until I know more and, even if it does turn out to be worthy of criticism, it doesn’t really change the big picture in any significant way. A ship stuck in Antarctic ice does not mean climate science is flawed.

  21. jsam says:

    Yes, ATTP, I did mean the Antarctic. And I note our very, very concerned (in a Willard sense) commenter is trying to use Twitter as a back channel, rather bearing out your observation, “I think Twitter is rubbish and I think people use it to score points.”

  22. TinyCO2 says:

    What part of cutting CO2 do you not understand?

    Take the three British journalists. You couldn’t have moved anyone much further from their home base to report… what? What could they have possibly photographed, written or said that could have been done by the scientists? Like many trips the Guardian and the BBC make, it was pure propaganda indulgence that persuaded them that this was a good idea. Well this was a PR nightmare instead.

    How many of the scientists were actual polar scientists doing enough work to justify the energy expended? How was the trip to Mawson’s hut anything other than a jolly? What was the justification for the tourists (including the kids) other than it was a great experience and probably one of many? Personally I’m sick of people expending huge amounts of energy to go see ice melt (or not) and then say that they are now convinced the planet is in peril. Watch a video! The BBC have already filmed enough footage to last for decades but no cut back for them.

    Then consider the energy loss from all the real science that was disrupted by the 3 icebreakers being involved. Much of the science is now probably stuck on the Russian ship. Two ships are still trapped. Waste, waste, waste.

    Does the slob in front of his wide screen TV owe the planet more commitment than a climate scientist on his family Christmas holiday?

  23. TinyCO2, as I said in the post, I haven’t made a judgement yet (maybe never will). You, however, appear to be absolutely certain.

  24. BBD says:

    Of course when you have no scientific argument to mount against the scientific consensus, all you can do is attack individuals and make a preposterous fuss about irrelevancies. If certain people were a little bit sharper, they would recognise that this pattern of behaviour semaphores the extreme weakness of their position extremely clearly.

    And they would stop.

  25. jsam says:

    Or they’d stake out scepticism as a position instead of an attitude.

    “the first step is to work out which warmist web sites (or other type of science) are impressive. Not to aim to match the graphics but how do they structure the information. Do you start with a heading like CO2 and talk about levels now, the past, the long past, measurement, ice cores, etc, with links to deeper information that you can build on? Or do you lead with your favourite facts and diagrams eg over a quarter (almost a third) of emissions have occurred since 1997 but the global temperature has not measurably risen during that time. Another thing is to look at existing sceptic primers like Jo Nova’s.”

    There’s no-one less sceptical than a climate sceptic.

  26. > this post seems to be only about petty point scoring.

    Et tu, Anders?

    Let’s hope our Leopard’s point was only academic and is not against point scoring.

  27. idunno says:

    Hi Andy,

    Lest we forget, the BIG Anarctic story of this year…

    http://icewishes.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/contains-offensive-language/

    (Contains insufficient offensive language)

  28. TinyCO2 says:

    Have I made my mind up Andthentheresphysics? Only because this is part of a very ugly pattern. The do as I say, not as I do mentality. BBD tries to make this about warming/no warming it’s not, it’s about credibility and being trapped in ice is the least of the PR problems with this expedition. Leaders have to live the life they espouse or be treated worse than those who don’t. If you don’t agree I’d be fascinated with the reasons why.

    Only when people like Christ Turney spend their lives asking ‘is this activity worth the energy I will expend’ will there be a chance of the rest of the world following suit. You haven’t made your mind up about whether their science would have been worth it? Fair enough, but shouldn’t an expedition like this include a CO2 emissions justification study? Perhaps if it had, the scientists would have got the work done in a fraction of the time, working much longer hours and missed out seeing Mawson’s hut altogether? I think there would have been no case for taking the children along. Thinking about the planetary costs should be a priority for those who consider the planet in peril.

    Everybody, but everybody thinks their CO2 is justified. Nobody is trying to work out what is reasonable expenditure and what is just extras. Probably because they wouldn’t like the answer. Where does necessity stop and greed start? Seriously I’d like to know. If you don’t know where to draw the line, what do you expect of the rest of us?

  29. OPatrick says:

    And perhaps people like Chirs Turney (was ‘Christ’ a Freudian slip or deliberate snark?) have spent time thinking about this. If you think there are easy answers to these questions then you are a fool. Every decision involves a balancing of considerations: public awareness; scientific purpose; familial commitments (to his child – were there ‘children’?).

    Incidentally, has he ‘espoused a life’ anywhere?

  30. Rachel says:

    I think it makes sense from an efficiency and environmental perspective and from a point-of-view of limiting CO2 wherever possible, that people who need/want to travel to Antarctica do so in as few trips as possible. Therefore it seems reasonable to me to stick journos and scientists on the same ship than for them to make two separate trips.

  31. Willard,

    Et tu, Anders?

    Hmmm, possibly. Certainly being perceived that way.

  32. Intriguingly, those who argue that there was serious science done, or intended to be done, have yet to show exactly what. The Spirit of Mawson website has only vague, high level blabber. They released a few ARGO floats. They collected seal poo. They did some bird counts, measured temperature and salinity. None of that should take 82 people and $1.5 million.

    They had 18 PhD students on board, 12 of whom have no research connection whatsoever with the expedition. In fact, I can see an immediate research benefit for only one of them.

    I may be mistaken. So can someone please highlight the research they were doing, or planning to?

  33. Richard,

    Intriguingly, those who argue that there was serious science done, or intended to be done, have yet to show exactly what. The Spirit of Mawson website has only vague, high level blabber.

    That’s partly why I have yet to make up my mind (not that me doing so is either here nor there, to be honest). However, high-level blabber is probably what one would expect on a public facing site describing their research plans. That, in itself, doesn’t immediately imply that what they were planning had no scientific merit.

    None of that should take 82 people and $1.5 million.

    Don’t know about 82 people, but $1.5 million dollars is only two 3-year postdoc positions in the UK, so not terribly expensive in my opinion.

    I may be mistaken. So can someone please highlight the research they were doing, or planning to?

    Well, that’s not going to be me as I don’t quite get what they were planning either. That doesn’t in any way mean that I think it didn’t have value, simply that I don’t know.

  34. BBD says:

    TinyCO2

    BBD tries to make this about warming/no warming it’s not, it’s about credibility

    This is about fake sceptics smearing real scientists in any way they can because they have no scientific counter-argument to the scientific consensus.

  35. BBD says:

    To be crystal clear: it matters not one jot what scientific research was or was not carried out/planned. The episode is being used by fake sceptics to attack climate science and scientists.

    If we must discuss this, so allowing the fake sceptics to write the script, yet again, can we not lose sight of the fact that this is simply a nasty little smear attempt by people who don’t have anything else. Let’s keep the essential truths front and centre. It will help.

  36. BBD,
    Yes, that is a good point and is something I was trying to illustrate in the post. It terms of the big picture, it really doesn’t matter.

  37. BBD says:

    For what it’s worth, for the record, as Tom Curtis already pointed out on the Antarctic Sea ice thread, the stated goals of the voyage were:

    1) gain new insights into the circulation of the Southern Ocean and its impact on the global carbon cycle
    2) explore changes in ocean circulation caused by the growth of extensive fast ice and its impact on life in Commonwealth Bay
    3) use the subantarctic islands as thermometers of climatic change by using trees, peats and lakes to explore the past
    4) investigate the impact of changing climate on the ecology of the subantarctic islands
    5) discover the environmental influence on seabird populations across the Southern Ocean and in Commonwealth Bay
    6) understand changes in seal populations and their feeding patterns in the Southern Ocean and Commonwealth Bay
    7) produce the first underwater surveys of life in the subantarctic islands and Commonwealth Bay
    8) determine the extent to which human activity and pollution has directly impacted on this remote region of Antarctica
    9) provide baseline data to improve the next generation of atmospheric, oceanic and ice sheet models to improve predictions for the future

  38. OPatrick says:

    this is simply a nasty little smear attempt by people who don’t have anything else

    Yes, nothing shows quite so clearly how weak the arguments are than that ‘sceptics’ need to jump on an episode like this with quite so much eagerness.

  39. BBD says:

    BTW Chris Fogwill is serious. Spends a lot of time in the field – ie on the Antarctic ice sheet and publishes about its paleoclimate variability (among other things). I don’t know about Chris Turney, but if he is working with Fogwill, he’s likely serious too.

  40. BBD,
    Yes, I looked up both of their biographies and they appear to be serious scientists. No issues there.

  41. BBD says:

    Yes, Turney is serious too. Apologies for not bothering to check properly before previous comment. A snippet of background here.

  42. BBD says:

    Ha! We crossed. First for 2014.
    ;-)

  43. @BBD
    Thanks for rising to the challenge. This is what their website says:
    1) gain new insights into the circulation of the Southern Ocean and its impact on the global carbon cycle
    2) explore changes in ocean circulation caused by the growth of extensive fast ice and its impact on life in Commonwealth Bay
    3) use the subantarctic islands as thermometers of climatic change by using trees, peats and lakes to explore the past
    4) investigate the impact of changing climate on the ecology of the subantarctic islands
    5) discover the environmental influence on seabird populations across the Southern Ocean and in Commonwealth Bay
    6) understand changes in seal populations and their feeding patterns in the Southern Ocean and Commonwealth Bay
    7) produce the first underwater surveys of life in the subantarctic islands and Commonwealth Bay
    8) determine the extent to which human activity and pollution has directly impacted on this remote region of Antarctica
    9) provide baseline data to improve the next generation of atmospheric, oceanic and ice sheet models to improve predictions for the future

    How would you do 1-6 and 8 with a single trip? How would you do 7&9 with a short trip?

  44. Richard,

    How would you do 1-6 and 8 with a single trip? How would you do 7&9 with a short trip?

    I don’t think the intention was to solve all of these in a single trip. You do need to do the trips, though, to get the data. This was, presumably, one of them.

  45. BBD says:

    Richard Tol

    Please, do me the courtesy of reading my brief, relatively infrequent comments.

    Thanks.

  46. @Wotts
    These are the stated aims of the expedition. Not expeditionS. Expedition.

    It would have made sense if they had planned to repeat Mawson’s measurements (which have been preserved). But Mawson spend a long time there (3 summers, 2 winters) and travelled far and wide (without GPS), so they never intended to do that.

  47. @BBD
    Thanks for confirming that you don’t know their scientific aims either.

  48. BBD says:

    Read the words, Richard. Sometimes we do not want to play your game.

  49. BBD says:

    On a general note, I see that the GWPF is smearing this for all it is worth. Small world.

  50. Richard,
    Oh please. Are you really going to suggest that what they state has to be a project that begins and ends during this expedition. That’s absurd. Many of these types of expeditions involve multi-expedition projects. Geologists and biologists, for example, will spend many seasons in the Antarctic collecting data. I clearly don’t know if that’s true in this particular case, but I certainly didn’t interpret those as implying that everything would be started and completed during this one expedition. Maybe they should have made that clearer, but that doesn’t mean that what they were doing had no scientific value.

  51. @Wotts
    So you think this expedition has scientific value. Can you please be more specific?

  52. Richard,
    If you can find where I said that, I would be more specific. Given that I don’t think I have, I don’t think I can. I think I may also consider adding “no strawman arguments” to my moderation policy. In a number of my posts I’ve made comments along the lines of “I expect better from actual academics”. You typically spring to mind when I write such comments. Feel free to illustrate that such thoughts are unfounded.

  53. @Wotts
    Fair enough: “but that doesn’t mean that what they were doing had no scientific value” is ambiguous.

    An expedition like this has value only if embedded in a larger programme. If you read the fuming comments by the French and Australian heads of polar research (the Chinese and Americans have been rather politely quiet), you might conclude that the opposite is true.

  54. Rachel says:

    How can you test whether the expedition had scientific value or not? Through the peer-reviewed research that gets published as a result?? If so, then isn’t it a bit early to judge on this basis?

  55. @Rachel
    Academic papers have questions and answers, hypotheses and tests. I fail to discover a research question and a research strategy. Did you see one?

  56. Richard,
    As I’ve already made clear, it may well be that this will turn out to have been a poorly justified expedition. Those involved, however, appear to be perfectly good scientists and so it’s not obvious that this will turn out to be the case.

    However, as BBD notes and as I mentioned in the post, it’s not at all clear what that implies. In my opinion, absolutely nothing with respect to climate science. A few scientists managed to find a way to fund an expedition to the Antarctic that maybe was poorly planned and executed and that damaged the research programmes of some other scientists (who had to abandon them to carry out the rescue). If that does turn out to be true, it will reflect extremely poorly on those involved and nothing else.

    So, why are some people trying to turn this into something bigger than it actually is. Why, for example, has the GWPF made such a big deal of this? There appear to be a number of items on their website about it. At best it’s a scientific expedition that ran into trouble. At worst, it’s an expedition that was more about tourism than science (I don’t know if it is) that took too many risks and ended up forcing others to abandon their research to help. None of that has any real significance with respect to climate science as such (apart from the lost data and research time).

  57. I’m not sure how the GWFP’s current fishing expedition, e.g.:

    meets this criteria:

    Our main focus is to analyse global warming policies and their economic and other implications. Our aim is to provide the most robust and reliable economic analysis and advice.

    Since this is taken from the GWPF’s About page, perhaps Richard might wish to explain how his recent tweets and those of @theGWPF are “embedded in a larger programme”.

  58. Tom Curtis says:

    What annoys me about discussion of the Spirit of Mawson expedition is the condemnation by no nothings who demonstrate they haven’t got a clue about the facts relating to their basis of criticism. For example, we have TinyCO2 above rabbiting on about “Leaders have to live the life they espouse or be treated worse than those who don’t” and “Only when people like Christ Turney spend their lives asking ‘is this activity worth the energy I will expend’ will there be a chance of the rest of the world following suit”. In the meantime, on the Spirit of Mawson site we learn that:

    “To minimise our impact on the planet, the AAE will offset its carbon emissions by planting trees. Not just any trees, nor just anywhere. As Sir Douglas Mawson quoted above, images of the New Zealand kauri (Agathis australis) have long been a source of inspiration and admiration to explorers and travellers alike. Kauri is also a relic from a bygone era; tracing its lineage back to when Antarctica and New Zealand shared a common link as parts of the supercontinent Gondwanaland. The AAE is delighted to announce a grove of kauri trees will be planted in its natural range on a property owned by The Kauri Museum at Matakohe, Northland, New Zealand; the world’s first carbon neutral museum.”

    So in this case the leader has been living the life they espouse, and has been taking the carbon cost of the expedition into account. But that didn’t stop TinyCO2 starting in on the criticisms as if they had not; without the effort to establish one way or another whether or not they had.

    Equally annoying are those who bring up the presence of a twelve year old on board. That twelve year old was Robby Turney, expedition leader Chris Turney’s son. Cara Turney his Chris Turney’s daughter. Frankly I am delighted that Chris Turney should try to stoke his children’s passion for science by bringing them on an Antarctic scientific expedition. But I do not know whether they went as tourists (ie, Chris Turney paid for their berth) or not, and neither do the people asking the questions about the twelve year old while conveniently leaving of the information of his relation to the expedition leader. For the record, my esteem of Chris Turney would rise if he paid for his children’s berths, but that would be an act of supererogation.

    Similar ignorance is shown by those criticizing the expedition as not science. There were up to twelve scientists plus up to seven PhD students on board for leg 1 of the expedition (19 total scientific complement), plus support from a further four shore based scientists and other PhD students (in all there were 18 PhD students involved in the program, including both legs and onshore support). Further, the itinerary was entirely planned around the scientific needs of the expedition. Twenty four passengers where on board (plus Chris Turney’s wife and two children), which represents a minimum payment of $138,000 from tourists, and a maximum of $202,500 – not enough to fund the trip in either case. So the scientific purpose of the journey was its basis.

    Finally, I can see no objection to bringing the tourists along to defray the cost of the expedition. If scientific tourism can pay for some of the cost of Antarctic research, fantastic. Those arguing the tourists should not have been on board should explain why exactly the expedition should have increased the bill to the tax payer while leaving births empty.

  59. Ian Forrester says:

    Mmmm it appears as if Richard Tol does not consider data collection to have any scientific value:

    I fail to discover a research question and a research strategy.

    By his argument all the people who have collected temperature data for many many years from thousands of locations were just wasting time and money since when they first started collecting the data that would show that the earth was warming and posed unacceptable risks to civilization such an idea had never been included as a “research strategy”. Many people collect data for others to use in a scientifically challenging way. However, it seems that some academics with no science background find this hard to fathom.

  60. Finally, I can see no objection to bringing the tourists along to defray the cost of the expedition. If scientific tourism can pay for some of the cost of Antarctic research, fantastic. Those arguing the tourists should not have been on board should explain why exactly the expedition should have increased the bill to the tax payer while leaving births empty.

    As I said in the post, I have a personal issue with Antarctic tourism, but that doesn’t make it wrong. I imagine that if the British Antarctic Survey had spare berths on some of their ships many of those criticising this expedition would be promoting the idea that BAS sell these berths to cover some of the costs. In fact, if this expedition had been a success, it wouldn’t have been a huge surprise to have then seen some suggesting this as the normal route for funding part of the costs of Antarctic research.

  61. Rachel says:

    Tom,
    But I do not know whether they went as tourists (ie, Chris Turney paid for their berth)

    I just assumed Chris Turney paid for them himself. As the daughter of a academic and the wife of one, it’s my experience that wife and kids pay their own way on work-related trips. But it does seem like rather a large sum of money for a scientist.

  62. Ian,

    However, it seems that some academics with no science background find this hard to fathom.

    I’m as cynical as the rest by now but there is a possibility that some (especially those who focus on statistics maybe) don’t actually understand how most science works. They assume that you have a data collection strategy (well-defined from the beginning) and that you have a well-defined analysis strategy. Any deviation from that violates a protocol.

    In many areas of science that really isn’t how it works. You collect data (or samples). You might have calibrations. Things should be probably labelled and stored. But what you do with this data could be highly varied depending on what one would like to know. Also, sometimes data collected a long time ago can suddenly become useful when something new happens.

    So, as you say, much of what happens in places like the Antarctic is probably to data collection and could be providing a resource for many more scientists than those directly involved in the expedition.

  63. @Ian
    Collecting data has value. If you spend $1.5 mln, you should wonder whether this is the best data you can get for this money. The Spirit of Mawson expedition could only collect so-called convenience samples. The statistical properties are such that there is little value to these data. Their recklessness on the Hodgeman Islands meant that their own data gathering strategy fell apart, and with that the French, Australian, Chinese, and now US systematic data collection efforts.

    So, with the benefit of hindsight, fewer data were collected because of this expedition.

    Could they have foreseen this? Well, going to Commonwealth Bay without an icebreaker may not have been the cleverest thing to do.

  64. William,
    You may well end up being right. That’s kind of why I wrote the post as I did. I don’t know enough to really feel comfortable making a judgement and I would tend to give the benefit of the doubt initially anyway. I agree with what you say in your post, that judging it on the basis of what it ended up costing is not the right way to assess it. The correct way, as you try to do, is to establish if it was worth the risk in the first place.

    I suspect that your point about how far South they went may be the clincher. If you’re a national Antarctic research organisation, then you know that you have the resources available to fund rescue missions. If you’ve just managed to find a couple of millions dollars to hire a ship, you really don’t and you then rely on other county’s decency to help if needed.

    At the end of the day, however, this is at worst an unjustified risk taken by a small group of people and really doesn’t have any other implications – not with respect to climate science overall at least. It might lead to others having to be more careful and have contingency plans in place, but that wouldn’t be a bad thing.

  65. idunno says:

    Andy,

    That’s not going to wash with the GWPF. This is their approved method of doing science, particularly on the economic side, where Richard comes in…

    1. First, write the conclusion “Therefore it is shown that the best policy recommendation is to allow the oil industry carte blanche to do whatever it chooses.”

    2. Argue for a few further tax breaks for oil and gas.

    3. Scrape together whatever data you can cherrypick to support above conclusions.

  66. johnrussell40 says:

    Let’s face it, we’re only discussing this topic as a reaction to the way those in climate denial are, in a very nasty way, trying to milk the situation for all it’s worth to score points. Richard Tol and his fellow GWPF collection of misfits should be ashamed of how they’re trying to lead a lynching party.

    No one is yet is aware of all the facts. In time, the expedition organisers will be questioned by a court of their peers, the truth will out and then we can all make a proper judgement. It would appear, as this situation has impacted on other important work, it will surely be scrutinised closely. For the time being, as onlookers—and as ATTP has indicated—it’s wrong to jump to conclusions. Clearly some ‘sceptic’ commenters on here have already arrived at a conclusion. Without any facts, that’s premature: probably even dishonest.

  67. Bobby says:

    Did I miss it or did Richard avoid Willard’s question?

  68. BBD says:

    And so, yet again, we see a demonstration of how fake sceptics and their enablers create a talking point out of an irrelevance and use it to insinuate unprofessionalism or even misconduct among climate scientists. Were the rules on this blog different, I would have somewhat more to say about this, but you can fill in the blanks, I’m sure.

    We need to stop this kind of thing much, much more effectively, and I believe – with a certain amount of life experience to support me – that a more hard-nosed response is appropriate. Nobody is hammering the table with the central point – that this is a smear campaign being fuelled by lobbyists like the GWPF who act on behalf of anonymous vested interests. That is the story here, and nobody is telling it.

  69. BBD says:

    This would, for example, be an excellent opportunity for the Guardian to catch the GWPF with its neck stuck right out, just ready for the blade.

  70. Rachel says:

    A tweet from Chris Turney earlier today:

    Looks like science to me.

  71. idunno says:

    And at risk of repeating myself, this little fiasco pales in comparison to the deliberate sabotage of the whole of the US Antarctic programme, 2013/2014, which has cost a whole year’s work, and compromised multi-decadal programmes of study:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/15/us/an-american-shutdown-reaches-the-earths-end.html?src=recg&_r=0

  72. We need to stop this kind of thing much, much more effectively, and I believe – with a certain amount of life experience to support me – that a more hard-nosed response is appropriate. Nobody is hammering the table with the central point – that this is a smear campaign being fuelled by lobbyists like the GWPF who act on behalf of anonymous vested interests. That is the story here, and nobody is telling it.

    As much as I agree, the problem I find is that such organisations are excellent at defending themselves against this. It seems that they can be as unpleasant as they like but the minute anyone tries to attack them, they go into defensive mode and everyone else ends up on the back foot. It’s similar to what happens in politics. It seems okay to refer to those on benefits as scroungers, but say anything about bankers and they get all offended.

    Not quite the same thing, but I’ve had more trouble today with – what was an admittedly slightly snarky comment – implying that Ruth Dixon’s question was leading. I didn’t think too much of it when I made it and maybe I should not have done so, but I didn’t think it was all that bad. But I’ve spent as much time defending myself for that than on the other much more thoughtful comments.

    So, if you could find a way to attack that would be effective, that would be fine, but I’m not really sure what it is. Sticking to the scientific evidence doesn’t seem to really be working, but it’s the best I can do :-)

  73. idunno,
    Yes, you’re quite right. This pales in comparison to the US shutdown.

  74. Rachel says:

    I see also that Chris Fogwill has set up a crowd funding page allowing members of the public to support the research. On it he says:

    Although we can cover the costs of supporting the expedition in the field, we are generating far more samples and data on the first leg of the voyage than we originally anticipated and need funds to support their full analysis. To keep the results of the expedition as relevant as possible, we want to get the majority of our key findings out into the public domain within 12 months of returning home on the 4 January 2014. In the first two days alone, we have already collected far more tree and peat sequences than we dared hope for, offering detailed insights into past environmental changes, potentially spanning thousands of years…and the full oceanographic and biological program has barely started! Our new samples require detailed analysis, dating and analysis on our return. We urgently need support for laboratory work and publication of the results in open access journals so everyone can have access to our findings. Our costings suggest we will need an extra $49,000 to make this happen. We really hope that you can help us reach our target, but if we undershoot at least we will be able to get more analyses undertaken than currently possible.

  75. BBD says:

    I’m afraid I don’t follow your twitter account (nor anyone else’s, not even Willard’s) but I suspect you are being attacked because you are causing the fake sceptics some pain. You’ve seen the malice directed at me, and I am merely a commenter, not even a blogger.

    Remember the old question: cui bono? and ask your interlocutors who they think they serve.

  76. @Rachel
    Yes, ARGO is serious science. This expedition dropped eight floats. It is a routine operation that adds to someone else’s research.

  77. @Rachel
    That was leg 1. It planned to do sensible things and appears to have done better. The concerns are about leg 2.

  78. lolwot says:

    It’s the 100th anniversary of the McMawson expedition, a famous trek into the Rockies by a famous explorer. A local school decides to mark the occasion by sending out a school science geology field trip up into the mountains, following the trail taken 100 years earlier. Along the way they’ll do some science and put it up on their website, the whole town will be involved, a journalist is going to cover it for the local paper.

    Unfortunately the bus breaks down up the mountain.

    A bunch of old grumpy people in the town dislike modern science. When they hear the bus has broken down they become most excited.

    “What a bunch of fools, those kids should be ashamed of themselves!”

    “That teacher should be fired! How irresponsible to drive kids up a mountain!”

    “Think of all the lives they’ve put at risk!”

    “Sounds like it was just a free holiday for the teacher!”

    “How arrogant of them to think they can drive up a mountain!”

    “Yes I hope they have learned some humility”

    “Look on the blog they say they played cards one evening! that proves it was just a holiday!”

    “If they were having fun they couldn’t have been doing science! science isn’t supposed to be fun!”

    “What about the cost! I am outraged at the cost Look how much the recovery of the bus will cost!”

    “It wasn’t even cutting edge science they were doing!”

    “Incompetent! McMawson managed to go up that mountain 100 years ago without a bus!”

    “Shows how weak and pathetic they all are, that they couldn’t walk up the mountain like McMawson”

    “Activists! They were all activists trying to prove the theory of plate tectonics!”

    “How ironic then that the bus hit a rock!”

    “Lets scour their blogs looking for other things they’ve done wrong”

    “OMG look one of the teachers took their 6 year old daughter! how irresponsible! that PROVES it isn’t science!”

    “Lets all put our deepest concerned faces on and go visit the mayor. Maybe we can get some science teachers fired!”

    “yessssssss!” (*evil hand rub*)

  79. BBD says:

    idunno

    What the Republican extremists did was appalling but merely an extension of what the whole, corporate-serving right is always doing: attacking the science that stands in the way of profit. They don’t even realise that they are just tools.

  80. Richard,
    In some sense, it’s not clear that it’s fair to separate the two legs. They were both part-funded by passengers and so if leg 1 was successful that might indicate that taking paying passengers is a fine way to part-fund an expedition. I suspect the big issue (as yourself and William have pointed out) is whether or not their decision to go as far South as they did with the ship they were using can be justified. If that turns out to have been more of a risk than was justified and if their contingencies were lacking, then that would seem to reflect poorly on them (or on the ship operator). That wouldn’t, however, depend on whether or not there were paying passengers present (12-years old or otherwise). It would depend on whether or not the science justified the risk, or even if there was any scenario in which such a risk was justified.

  81. BBD says:

    The concerns are about leg 2.

    Concerns. Concerns. Concerns. It’s all a bit obvious, Richard. But thanks for your concerns.

  82. Rachel says:

    Richard,
    The itinerary for leg 2 looks fine to me (http://www.spiritofmawson.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/AAE_Leg2_itinerary_02.pdf). In it they say:

    Setting out from New Zealand on the 8th of December 2013, we will make a course south for the subantarctic Macquarie Island, then onto Commonwealth Bay, making scientific observations as we go. Navigating through the sea ice we will embark on a comprehensive science programme, focussing on marine biology and oceanography.

    Because of extensive sea ice in Commonwealth Bay, we will undertake aerial reconnaissance using drones to find a safe route to Cape Denison. We will attempt to access the site
    using ARGO’s — specialised ATV’s ideal for this journey over the fast ice; if conditions prove unsuitable we will attempt landfall elsewhere. After nine days in the area we will return to New Zealand via the subantarctic islands, arriving on the 4th January 2013.

    They were just unlucky and the criticism is, in my opinion, unjustified; especially at this early stage.

  83. lolwot says:

    BBD, I agree with you. There is a good investigative story here for the likes of the Guardian. It’s a clear example of a coordinated attack on science itself and it would be interesting to see the various involved parties investigated.

    The sad thing is I think most “skeptics” are blind to what they have done. I think most of them fell for the early lies about the expedition being to prove the ice was melting and other such nonsense.

    In person I suspect just showing any ordinary person (in real life) the expedition blog and then showing them the skeptic attacks would be enough to convince them the skeptics are nasty and nuts.

  84. BBD says:

    Hello lolwot

    I remember you from my brief stint at JC’s ;-) It’s a damned sight more civilised here, despite my presence.

    First, your long comment is spot on. Second, the lack of killer instinct among journalists who could have a field day with this is troubling. They are, at their finest, supposed to be protectors of democracy.

  85. @Rachel
    The biology bit is a convenience sample of mobile species. It does not tell you much about the current abundance of fish or birds. You may happen to meet all them congregating at one spot, or you may miss all them. It tells you nothing about the trend in abundance. It doesn’t tell you anything about their behavior, because you don’t know whether you observe typical or exceptional behavior.

    Ditto for the oceanography bit. A trajectory of temperature, salinity etc measurement does not tell you much about the ocean.

  86. Tom Curtis says:

    I made an error in my preceding post, mistakenly thinking the expedition was on leg 1 of the voyage when it was actually on leg 2. That means the scientific crew consisted of:
    Chris Turney plus eight other scientists, including his wife, and potentially one or both of the two other mission leaders. From wikipedia we know there were 19 scientists on board, plus Turney’s wife who is listed separately. That means there were 9 to 11 PhD students (not 19 as mistakenly indicated by William Connolley in his blog).

    The cost of a middle berth on Leg 2 was 17,500 pp, so with 26 tourists (28 if Turney’s children were paid for by him and his wife), the expedition recouped around $455,000 ($490,000) from passengers. The trip was scheduled to take 28 days at a shipping cost of $30,000 a day, that is an expected expedition cost of $840,000 excluding wages of scientific staff, scientific equipment etc. Given that tourists covered just over half the shipping cost, suggestions the purpose of the expedition was tourism, rather than tourism being used to defray the costs of a scientific expedition are entirely unjustified.

    William Connolley asks the right question:

    “I think that a question asked by AR was the trip important enough to justify the cost that is now mounting? is obviously *not* the right question to ask – if they knew they were going to get stuck and need rescue, then obviously they wouldn’t have gone. A righter question would be was the trip important enough to justify (the cost that is now mounting) times (the probability that cost would be incurred)?”

    (My emphasis)

    IMO it is disgraceful that Tol has been framing the question in terms of the actual cost rather than the expected cost (including the probability of the need of rescue times the cost of the rescue). That means he has not even been true to economist academic standards in his criticism. (We can forgive the head of the French polar program for not making this distinction as he is not an economist.)

    I have yet to come across anybody who has bothered to even attempt to assess the risk the expedition ran of getting stuck in ice, still less the risk of getting stuck in ice for many days, and requiring the diversion of four icebreakers to (hopefully) eventually free it. That should be reasonably easy to do, or at least to give an approximate idea. All critics need do is point to one week, or three day weather forecasts for Commonwealth Bay in the lead up to the ship getting stuck that predict the presence of three meter thick ice. Absent such predictions, the presence of ice thick enough to trap the ship represents a surprising, ie, a low probability event. Absent such forecasts, the expedition leaders has a reasonable (but in the end false) expectation that the trip would avoid being trapped.

  87. Tom Curtis says:

    I’m astonished that Richard Tol can determine so easily from his arm chair that the relevant scientists on the expedition did not sample rookeries, guano, or other persistent indications of long term habitation, but rather sampled only living birds from species known to not have established nesting sites to which they return year after year.

  88. BBD says:

    Ditto for the oceanography bit. A trajectory of temperature, salinity etc measurement does not tell you much about the ocean.

    Data points, sure, but then that’s all ARGO is – lots of data points. Are you suggesting that ARGO is uninformative?

  89. lolwot,

    There is a good investigative story here for the likes of the Guardian.

    I agree, but the only paper trying to do anything like this is the Guardian who will be seen as conflicted because Alok Jha was on the ship. Maybe the Telegraph, or the Times, or the Daily Mail could try to do a similarly incisive piece – no, sorry, now I’m really being silly.

  90. Tom,

    I’m astonished that Richard Tol can determine so easily from his arm chair that the relevant scientists on the expedition did not sample rookeries, guano, or other persistent indications of long term habitation, but rather sampled only living birds from species known to not have established nesting sites to which they return year after year.

    You know the age-old quote “once you know statistics, you know everything”, or did I just make that up?

  91. @Tom C
    I’m sure that if they would have told us had they found rookeries in the ocean.

  92. WHat is the point of writ in a blog post that repeats how much you don’t know? Turney took his wife and two kids. The 30 odd tourit paid up to $8000 each. There were several students on board who really had no business being there given their areas of study. Numerous experts have said the ship was not an icebreaker, and not suitable given the conditions. The hwole thing was an expensive, dangerous shambles which succeeded in confusing the world as to why a ‘leading climate scientist’ was surprised to find so much sea ice in the Antarctic. Hope this helps.

  93. Rachel says:

    lolwot’s comment about the school children made me think of other examples where groups have retraced the steps of a famous explorer. I did a google search and there are a couple of fellows in Antarctica right now retracing the steps of Captain Scott. They have a site: The Scott Expedition.

    Australian scientist, Tim Jarvis, has followed in the footsteps of Ernest Shackleton and Douglas Mawson in two separate Antarctic trips. On the Shackleton trip, the spiel on the site says:

    As Shackleton Epic’s conservation partner, Fauna & Flora International will benefit from funds raised through the expedition which will support the charity’s vital work to protect some of the most vulnerable ecosystems and species on the planet.

    Furthermore, the expedition captured spectacular footage showing the status of Antarctic ice melt in the region both to add another dimension to the film but also as part of ongoing interest in the field by Jarvis in his role as a leading environmental scientist. Whereas Shackleton’s goal was to save his men from Antarctica, we are trying to save Antarctic from man – an unfortunate irony.

    Details and images from the journey have been incorporated into the Australian school curriculum, a worthwhile endeavour I would say. But what if one of these trips had run into trouble requiring rescue attempts at great expense? Would it have generated the same amount of criticism? I doubt it.

  94. Tom Curtis says:

    Richard Tol, the scientists reached the mainland, even if the ship did not. They even found Adelie penguins, which breed on the coast, and always return to the same rookery. They also found Emperor penguins, but may not have had time to follow them back to their inland rookery.

    Are you showing of your ignorance as a public service to those who might be inclined to trust the GWPF, or is it that you just can’t help yourself?

  95. > FWIW, I incline to agree with RT.

    I think Anders does too.

    Yet another hurly burly not to speak one’s mind.

  96. @Tom
    And did they discover that Adelie penguins are in decline as ice has grown around there, or did they just look that up on Wikipedia?

  97. Tom Curtis says:

    Richard Tol, I will be able to tell you what they discovered when they publish their findings – not before. Your armchair finding that they can have discovered nothing of importance shows only that you have prejudged the case, and prejudged it in ignorance of relevant facts.

    I note that your most recently stated, and uncorrected position remains that any rookery they find can only have been at sea. A fair demonstration, it appears of your academic integrity.

  98. Latimer Alder says:

    Just to point out that the article that has so exercised BBD and Willard above with blood curling threats to find the GWPF ‘with its neck out’ was actually published in the Spectator, not by GWPF.

    The GWPF merely post a link to it in their ‘Best of Blogs’ section. The opening words of that link are

    ‘ Date: 05/01/14 Ross Clark, The Spectator’ and the closing is ‘The Spectator, 4 January 2014′ .

    For those who are still confused the closing is helpfully emboldened and presented in a tasteful shade of blue for easy identification.

    Interested readers can find the original via this link too

    http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/coffeehouse/2014/01/who-is-behind-the-ship-of-fools/

    Perhaps BBD and Willard would benefit from a little more research before posting next time. Like reading the article they get so excited about.

  99. Tom Curtis says:

    On his blog, Connolley has an update saying:

    “Another Question: how far are they away from a Proper Scientific Base? How far from Mawson? I haven’t seen this written explicitly – or if I have, I’ve forgotten – but I get the impression that its a Long Way – 1000 km or so. Were they only 10 km away, or perhaps even 100, that would alter the “risk” case.”

    For what it is worth, Commonwealth Bay is around 5000 km from Mawson, about 2000 km from Casey (Aus) and McMurdo (US), but only 100 km from Dumont D’Urville, the French Antarctic base.

  100. Latimer Alder says:

    @rachel

    Re ARGO. They dropped an ARGO buoy over the side. Once released, it is then a free entity and it is ‘doing the science’, not those who dropped it.

    To claim that transporting a buoy to an chucking off position and then abandoning it is ‘doing science’ is stretching the credulity a wee bit too far. And $1.5M to do so is far too much.

  101. OPatrick says:

    Given the furore I was surprised to read this:

    It is thought that the rescue will cost £220,000.

  102. Tom Curtis says:

    Latimer Alder, pretending that all they did was transport a (single) ARGO buoy is disingenuous. They in fact did much more, although how much more is unknown to us until publication of the relevant articles.

  103. Rachel says:

    Latimer,
    There is evidence that they did more than just drop AROG floats. I have already posted this in comments above. Perhaps you missed them? Here again, just in case:

    In the first two days alone, we have already collected far more tree and peat sequences than we dared hope for, offering detailed insights into past environmental changes, potentially spanning thousands of years…and the full oceanographic and biological program has barely started

    and

    We have managed to get the team on the ice and started work exploring our environment and making scientific observations. Tracey has led her team to collect biopsy samples of Weddell Seas to get a better handle on diet for comparison to material collected a century ago while Erik has been leading the charge collecting ocean data off and on the sea ice edge.

  104. BBD says:

    Ah yes, the Spectator, formerly edited by Nigel Lawson.

  105. Ian Forrester says:

    Tol, are you just lazy or do you only report things that your GWPF cronies want to hear? Here is a quote from Andrew Luck-Baker from the BBC who is actually on the expedition and not sniping from his armchair:

    In the days before the AAE 2013 became trapped, the scientists made several significant discoveries. For instance, the expedition’s ornithologist, Kerry-Jayne Wilson, discovered that the colony of Adelie penguins in Commonwealth Bay, close to Mawson’s old base, now contains the smallest number of breeding pairs ever recorded there.

    So the data points collected from this expedition are added to previous studies to show if a trend is taking place. Of course you, not being a scientist, would not be able to grasp this simple concept.

  106. lolwot says:

    Latimer writes: “To claim that transporting a buoy to an chucking off position and then abandoning it is ‘doing science’ is stretching the credulity a wee bit too far. And $1.5M to do so is far too much.”

    That isn’t all they did. And besides it IS doing science. And beside the expedition wasn’t solely about doing science, it was also retracing the steps of Mawson.

    Your argument boils down to nothing more than: “They didn’t do enough science for my liking”.

    But what you climate skeptics are really doing is trying to attack the expedition because of your hate of climate science. You must find something to whine about whether it’s them dropping off an ARGO buoy, the cost, that they had kids on board, the food they ate, etc.

  107. @Tom
    They did not spend much time on shore; and stayed closed of Mawson’s Huts, where penguins are routinely observed.

    Estelle Blair’s blog entry is interesting. After their heroic expedition, they were greeted by staff resident at Mawson’s Huts.

    So, casual observations of rookeries is a place that is routinely monitored. Quite the science.

  108. Latimer Alder says:

    @rachel

    It was you who drew our attention to Turney’s tweet about an ARGO buoy and then remarked ‘Looks like science to me’

    Well, maybe…but it looks like package delivery a la maritime DHL to me.

    Perhaps they did gazillions of other good scientific things (though we seem to be having collective difficulties in identifying exactly what those may have been), but dropping a buoy or two into the water ain’t any sort of ‘science’ that I can think of.

    cc @lolwot.

  109. Latimer Alder says:

    For the elimination of any doubt, Rachel’s original message is here: (Today, 6:50 pm)

    ‘A tweet from Chris Turney earlier today:

    Check out our ARGO float locations en route to Antarctica. Float #8183 to 8190 @ bottom of screen. sio-argo.ucsd.edu/index.html #spiritifmawson—
    Chris Turney (@ProfChrisTurney) January 05, 2014

    Looks like science to me’.

  110. Latimer Alder says:

    It’s true that Nigel Lawson was once editor of the Spectator. He left in 1970. I make that 43 years ago.

  111. Rachel says:

    Latimer,
    I have three different comments, including the one you have repeated, which provide evidence of sciency things. In other words, there are two other comments in addition to the one you have repeated above. You are choosing to focus on just one of them and have done so in three different comments.

    What I am trying to say in not very clear language, is please do not bomb the thread with lots of repetitious comments. Any more along these lines will get deleted.

  112. BBD says:

    Latimer Alder

    The Spectator is the house journal of the right. It was and remains aligned with Lawson’s position on many things, including – evidently – the attempts to discredit climate science. Or do you read “ship of fools” as a positive framing?

    The *point* here is that there is a message, and the GWPF is a strong proponent of that message. You appear to be obfuscating on this point, which all-but proves that what I am saying is correct.

  113. omnologos says:

    The discussion on the consequence to climate science is needless and a distraction. Nothing will change of it on the science side but funding will likely become harder for the smaller projects as many people are discovering you can and ought to question the individual scientist without implying that you’re questioning the whole field.

    On the “spirit of Mawson” side I’d add to Connolley’s rephrasing of Tol’s cost question, that some of the blog entries appear to indicate recklessness eg in getting the tourists off to have fun as the ice was encroaching the ship.

    So it’s not just a matter of properly computing risks and costs beforehand. Whoever will investigate this should include the additional risks due to a possibly cavalier attitude by the expedition leaders.

    Tourney’s video where he discusses cannibalism not far from where he talks about tagging wife and children along, is particularly painful to watch.

  114. Joshua says:

    “So, what do I actually think of this trip?…. If it turns out that they did things that were especially risky, then the criticism may well be justified.”

    This is just more same ol same ol. The events related to this trip are basically irrelevant – but they are being exploited gleefully by “skeptics” to score points in the climate wars. And “realists” feel compelled somehow to defend against the “skeptical” nonsense – as if it would somehow make a difference. It won’t.

    “Skeptics” will continue to turn this event into vindication for their victimhood no matter what “realists” say. People who aren’t aligned will view this story as interesting but not meaningful. Defense from “realists” will not affect the opinions of anyone as the vast majority of people are indifferent to the bickering and “skeptics” couldn’t care less about the events in any meaningful way so as to discuss them in good faith.

  115. TinyCO2 says:

    OPatrick I have a laptop keyboard that randomly jumps and dyslexia. Not a good combo but then it’s not just me Chirs.

    I totally agree there aren’t easy answers. I’m just waiting for someone to start asking the questions. Chris took his wife, son and daughter. Nice but not essential. If it was that important to be there for his kids he could have stayed at home and sent someone else or not planned the thing over Christmas.

    If you think CO2 emissions are a serious and urgent problem then yes, you have espoused a way of life. You’ve agreed that each person should only be responsible for a set amount of CO2 to park global emissions, which at the moment is supposed to be about 2 tonnes. Every extra person on the planet reduces that allotment size. Alternatively you may favour CO2 inequality. Since the developing world doesn’t like that idea and wants a shot at CO2 emissions like the US, then to counter it, the developed world would have to have a negative CO2 footprint. When do you see that happening?

    Tom Curtis, I know what they said about planting trees and I laugh at that as an excuse. Who’s paying for all of the trees and their maintenance? The public? How many trees will they have to plant for the extra emissions? If the wealthy of the world bought up the forests and the oceans, would that mean they could emit as much as they liked? Would that be fair? You cannot buy your way out of your CO2 emissions because there are not enough offsets to go around. Or don’t you agree?

    Rachel, was there a justification for the UK journalists to be there at all? Quite apart from the more sensible option of interviewing the scientists by satellite when they got back, they could have asked the Australian journo to do some pieces for them and/or take some pictures. It’s not like the BBC hasn’t got masses of excellent footage from Antarctica already. Even more absurd, the BBC man was doing pieces for radio! The ship had satellite phone and the internet. TV journalists used to make do with stills and report from the studio but now they feel it’s better to fly round the world to stand in front of the real thing. Because a live shot of a blue sky and miles of ice is so much more effective? That’s not the thinking of someone who cares about emissions.

    If 2 tonnes was all we were allowed and a precious portion of that was allotted to science done on our behalf, is the Turney trip something you’d support? Or is it the kind of indulgence you want to support because right now nobody, let alone you, is counting the cost? When you start, GWPF might find it harder to mock your endeavours.

  116. Ian Forrester says:

    Tol once again fails to support his claims. There are no scientists at Mawson’s Hut only people trying to restore it and keep it in half decent shape:

    In addition to archaeological recording, removal of snow from inside the huts and ongoing maintenance, recent interventions (1998 and 2006) have been to encapsulate the failing timber roofs with new timber over-cladding in order to weatherproof the interiors.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mawson%27s_Huts

    Since he is not a scientist I will explain that “casual observation” is not scientific study.

  117. BBD says:

    Interestingly, Ross Clark, the Spectator journalist who wrote all the relevant articles and inserted the “ship of fools” framing into the reportage, has a rather dim view of environmentalists. He has also very possibly conflated environmentalism with climate science somewhere along the line. It’s not uncommon in some circles.

  118. Joshua says:

    Just gotta say, this:

    “@Wotts
    These are the stated aims of the expedition. Not expeditionS. Expedition.”

    Has to be one of the lamest arguments I’ve seen yet in the blogosphere.

  119. BBD says:

    @ Joshua

    People who aren’t aligned will view this story as interesting but not meaningful.

    I wish I were sure about this. The alternative view is that the constant drip-drip-drip of negative spin in the media regarding the probity and competence of climate scientists is probably going to have a corrosive effect on everyone exposed to it unless they are relatively well-informed.

  120. Latimer Alder says:

    @BBD

    No obfuscating here. The GWPF website provides links to many articles and many different journals. Maybe up to a dozen per day.

    To find some deep seated meaning in a single link to a discussion of one of today’s current hot topics in climate is tending towards the paranoid.

  121. Tom Curtis says:

    Indeed, she does, Richard. She writes:

    “We left the Argos on firm ice and walked several hundred metres to meet the two Mawson Hut Foundation members who had come in the previous day, at ‘Sorensen’s Hut’, the contemporary barracks where the Mawson Huts Foundation members and any visiting scientists stay when they work in the area. It is placed a few hundred metres from, and out of sight of, the historic precinct, to respect the historic setting. This building looks, and is built, like a refrigerated container – in this case, to keep the cold out. People are not looking for architecturally pleasing structures here – simple needs like shelter from the wind, a warm bed and hot food are the highest priority.”

    (My emphasis)

    We might wonder how they came in on the previous day. Estelle Blair “… was privileged to obtain a place on the second and final trip into Mawson’s Hut – an approximately 60 km trip by Argo across fast ice to Commonwealth Bay”. The previous day was when the first trip to the huts took place. So Estelle met members of the Mawson Hut Foundation who came along for the trip to do maintenance. That is typical of the history of the Mawson Hut Foundation, which does maintenance on opportunistic visits rather than stranding small groups of people in isolated locations in Antarctica.

    Interestingly, Estelle Blair goes on to write:

    “While counting penguin nest sites, I reflected on the part that chance plays in Antarctic life. Before B09B grounded in Commonwealth Bay, the Adelie penguin rookery was perfectly sited to maximise breeding success. After B09B arrived, the bay became filled with solid sea ice. Where once the penguins could hop down from their rocky homes, dive into the bay and feed close to shore, they are now forced to walk tens of kilometres across the ice to the water’s edge, their lives transformed into ones of terrible hardship. It was dreadful to see so many dead chicks and abandoned eggs, apparently casualties of the lack of a nearby food supply.”

    Still no acknowledgement from you, however, that the rookery existed. I guess being an economist means never having to admit error.

    In any event, this expedition adds another survey to a number of periodically ocuring surveys at that location. Periodic surveying is not continuous monitoring. It does mean your prior suggestions that the science was likely useless because it was a one of survey are, again, wide of the mark.

  122. @BBD
    Indeed.Confidence in climate science will not be restored until climate scientists stop doing silly things in public.

  123. @Tom
    I’m looking forward to their wonderfully insightful paper. Number 557 on Adelie penguins if I’m not mistaken, but earth shattering no doubt.

  124. Tom Curtis says:

    Richard Tol, confidence in climate science will not be restored when economists cease getting a free pass on ignorance when they criticize climate scientists without basis, as you have clearly done here. It may be that this expedition did not have a proper risk analysis, but you have not presented one skerrick of evidence to suggest that was the case. Indeed, all you have done is criticized the what you claim to have been ineffective science on grounds that merely reveal your complete ignorance of the relevant facts. Your opinion on this issue is demonstrably prejudice or worse.

  125. Joshua says:

    “Confidence in climate science will not be restored until climate scientists stop doing silly things in public.”

    Notice the multiple levels of science free hyperbole.

    Where is the evidence that “confidence in climate science” has been lost?

    Where is the evidence that if anyone has lost “confidence in climate science,” who they are (in other words, are they predominantly ideological hard-liners who didn’t have confidence to begin with, and who overwhelmingly are ideologically aligned on any issues related to climate change)?

    Where is the evidence that an event like this has any meaningful impact on “confidence in climate science?

    Where is the evidence that this issue has had any meaningful impact on “confidence in climate science?”

    Actually, there is evidence related to all of those questions, and none of them support the opinion that Richard seems to be promoting there.

    Why do people who claim to be interested in valid interpretation of scientific evidence draw conclusions that are not supported by the evidence as Richard has done there?

  126. BBD says:

    Latimer Alder

    To find some deep seated meaning in a single link to a discussion of one of today’s current hot topics in climate is tending towards the paranoid.

    To ignore the persistent spinning against climate science in the UK right wing press and the GWPF’s involvement in that would be tending towards being unobservant.

  127. Tom Curtis says:

    Richard Tol, you apparently need to look up the concept of normal science. Normal science is absolutely essential for the flourishing of science. Kepler’s revolution, for example, stood firmly on the shoulders of the normal science of Tycho Brahe.

  128. Joshua says:

    Having a lot of trouble with my computer – please excuse the double-post if it occurs:

    Irrespective of the facts related to this event, Richard’s apparent interest in judging “climate science” or evaluating climate scientists in general sense on the basis of the facts related to this event seems to me to be “shameful,” to borrow a phrase (from WMC), and inherently flawed from a logical perspective.

    IMO, this is just more of the same – where people who are trained and experienced in careful analysis throw their skills aside as they seek some kind of emotional validation through climate change bickering.

  129. Eric says:

    Perhaps Richard Tol you could give precise dollar amounts for what Antarctic expeditions should cost to be justifiable to you. Perhaps you could also give what constitutes enough science for you. In this way we could all work from the same baseline.

  130. Joshua says:

    “Confidence in climate science will not be until climate scientists stop doing silly things in public.”

    Sorry – but I’m having a hard time getting over how lame that statement is:

    First, Richard seems to think it important to defend against those who would judge an entire science on the basis of what a few individuals do.

    Second, Richard seems to think that it would be possible to affect the opinions of those who would have an expectation that any field of science could be free of “silly things” done by the humans who investigate and research in that field.

    This is the kind of reasoning I am used to seeing from “skeptics.”

  131. Joshua says:

    “Confidence in climate science will not be restored until climate scientists stop doing silly things in public.”

    I lost “restored” in the previous quote of Richard ….. my cursor is randomly jumping around and deleting stuff.

  132. idunno says:

    I am not fully conversant with the GWPF’s site.

    So I was unaware of its specific interest in using the latest Antarctic research to inform its policy recommendations. Perhaps Richard could oblige me by referring us all to the stream of protest and outrage emerging from the GWPF over the cancellation of virtually all US Antarctic research over the 2013/2014 season?

    Links please, Richard. Ta.

  133. Joshua says:

    BBD -

    “The alternative view is that the constant drip-drip-drip of negative spin in the media regarding the probity and competence of climate scientists is probably going to have a corrosive effect on everyone exposed to it unless they are relatively well-informed.”

    People who inhabit the climate blogosphere tend to lose sight of just how unrepresentative it is of the real world in many respects. Even the number who comment are outliers.

    Most people are unaware of the bickering related to this event. The evidence shows that people’s outlooks on climate change are much more significantly impacted by short-term weather phenomena and economic trends, filtered through ideological predispositions. People trust those they are ideologically predisposed to trust, and distrust those they are ideologically predisposed to distrust. The time scale that will be required to significantly impact public opinion will drive this entire issue into complete irrelevance.

  134. Joshua,

    Most people are unaware of the bickering related to this event. The evidence shows that people’s outlooks on climate change are much more significantly impacted by short-term weather phenomena and economic trends, filtered through ideological predispositions. People trust those they are ideologically predisposed to trust, and distrust those they are ideologically predisposed to distrust. The time scale that will be required to significantly impact public opinion will drive this entire issue into complete irrelevance.

    I suspect you make a perfectly valid point. I would like to think that all this blogging and things is not completely pointless, but maybe it is :-)

  135. Latimer Alder says:

    @joshua

    90% of people probably never give ‘climate science’ a thought from one month’s end to another. But when they see people needing to be rescued on the news for three or four days, they’ll give it their attention for the twenty seconds of the piece.

    And this story will have done nothing to enhance their confidence in climate scientists’ general abilities. Richard Tol’s remark was spot on.

    And it’s worth remembering that around the world political interest in climate issues is declining and the pollies with the purse strings are even less likely to give generously to climate science after the events of the last week.

  136. jsam says:

    Confidence in economics will not be restored until economists stop saying silly things in public.

  137. Latimer,
    What are you actually hoping to achieve here? You must know that I have absolutely no interest in any kind of discussion with you. I’ve blocked you on Twitter to avoid having to deal with your numerous ridiculous tweets. I don’t really mind you posting the odd conspiracy theory-like comment here, but I hope you don’t expect me to treat your comments with anything other than derision (that’s assuming I bother responding to them in any way whatsoever).

  138. Tom Curtis says:

    Latimer Alder:

    1) The need to rescue certainly gets peoples attention, but interpreting that need as a sign of incompetence rather than as an indication that brave, and dedicated scientists do face genuine risks as they try to push back the frontiers of ignorance comes down entirely to spin.

    2) Even if people reasoned by non sequitur as you indicate, what are you doing to discourage their fallacious reasoning? Or are you happy to take fallacy as an ally?

  139. OPatrick says:

    And this story will have done nothing to enhance their confidence in climate scientists’ general abilities.

    The story itself will have done nothing for people’s confidence in climate scientists one way or another, becuase by any objective measure it is almost entirely irrelevant. What may have made a difference is the dishonest way that it has been spun.

  140. What may have made a difference is the dishonest way that it has been spun.

    Couldn’t have said it better myself.

  141. John BG

    WHat is the point of writ in a blog post that repeats how much you don’t know?

    Because I’ve learned a lot from those who’ve commented – with some notable exceptions of course.

  142. Latimer Alder says:

    @tom curtis

    Just reporting the general mood I detect from the general public and the media

    Whether you or I think that the public are right or wrong is immaterial. They will draw their own whatever either of us say. And the pollies (in the end) are more worried about votes than anything else.

    Rab C Nesbitt’s vote who may have found the whole thing hilarious is of just as much value as a professional climate scientist who was in tears of anguish..or anybody else’s inbetween. And in this case I think there were far more Rabs.

  143. Joshua says:

    ATTP -

    ” I would like to think that all this blogging and things is not completely pointless, but maybe it is “

    Well – it may not be completely pointless, but the “point” may be somewhat obscured, and the impact beyond the climate blogosphere bubble is very difficult to assess.

    All of this serves some sort of purpose for the participants – perhaps in the same sense that a drink serves a purpose for an alcoholic or in the sense that any act of confirmation bias has a “point?”

    Although it seems that the sense of reaching a larger public through writing comments and blog post drives the activity…. in fact what do we know about the impact on a larger public? From what I’ve seen, what takes place is mostly just the same set of characters repeating, essentially, the same arguments over and over (integrated into different topics) to the same set of characters. People have a sense of larger impact, people comment and blog with the goal of a larger impact, but where is the evidence?

  144. Tom Curtis says:

    Latimer

    “Just [exploiting] the general mood I [am helping create in] the general public and the media”
    (fixed)

    Do not pretend for a second that reporting the event under titles like “Ship of Fools”, or framing the issue as “THE Antarctic stranding of an Australian-sponsored “pseudo-scientific” tourism venture…” (The Australian) does not have, and is not designed to influence how people interpret this event. Pretending the view being formed is the result of straight reportage is not honest.

  145. Joshua,

    People have a sense of larger impact, people comment and blog with the goal of a larger impact, but where is the evidence?

    I don’t know the answer to that – obviously. This may be one of the many reasons why I quite like the anonymity. This isn’t really all that important and apart from getting more comments and views than I was expecting, it’s not really all that significant. I could stop now and noone would really notice.

    From what I’ve seen, what takes place is mostly just the same set of characters repeating, essentially, the same arguments over and over (integrated into different topics) to the same set of characters.

    Yup, that certainly seems true. I feel like I repeat myself quite a lot.

  146. OPatrick says:

    I don’t really understand the ‘bubble’ argument, because I’m sure we all recognise every now and again these memes popping up out in the broader public – the leakage may be only very small but, as BBD says, the drip-drip effect is an effective effect. People need very little to convince them of what they want to here, a bit more doubt than is justified, an impression of two roughly equal sides to the argument. And it’s not just the general public, I was listening to a House of Lords debate the other day and whilst Riddley and Lawson were transparent, there were others who probably thought they were being neutral but were repeating exactly the sort of misinformation we see everywhere on the blogs.

  147. BBD says:

    Joshua and ATTP

    If I thought all this was a complete waste of time I wouldn’t bother doing it. Nor is this really about the blogosphere – the dripping misinformation in the MSM is the problem. Which brings us back to the GWPF.

  148. BBD says:

    Latimer sets it out nicely:

    Just reporting the general mood I detect from the general public and the media

    Whether you or I think that the public are right or wrong is immaterial. They will draw their own whatever either of us say. And the pollies (in the end) are more worried about votes than anything else.

    The Daily Mail gets its climate stories predominantly from the GWPF:

    http://www.carbonbrief.org/media/62281/sheet1.png.jpg

    http://www.carbonbrief.org/blog/2011/07/daily-mail-and-the-global-warming-policy-foundation

    And the GWPF is not playing a straight game:

    http://www.carbonbrief.org/blog/2011/07/do-the-gwpf-cast-doubt-on-the-science-of-climate-change

  149. idunno says:

    “The Daily Mail gets its climate stories predominantly from the GWPF:”

    Indeed so, and has just won this prestigious media award:

    http://mediamatters.org/research/2013/12/30/climate-change-misinformer-of-the-year-the-dail/197340

    Doubtless this is caused by the volume of excellent science reporting that the GWPF actually produces, as witnessed by Richard taking so long to corral together all of their coverage of the damage done to basic scientific research by the closing of the US Antarctic programme for the 2013/2014 season.

    Are you nearly there yet, Richard?

  150. BBD says:

    And then there’s the Telegraph. On the GWPF Academic Advisory Council:

    Adrian Berry [Viscount Camrose]
    From 1977 until 1996 Adrian Berry was science correspondent of the Daily Telegraph. On stepping down from that position after almost 20 years he was appointed the paper’s consulting editor (science).

    Anyone unfamiliar with the membership of the GWPF Academic Advisory Council may find the link worth a click. It’s an interesting list.

  151. Latimer Adler, who seems to have exercised Richard Betts’ patience, starts his 8:26 thus:

    > Just to point out that the article [...] was actually published in the Spectator, not by GWPF.

    Interestingly, at 7:48 he tweeted:

    ***

    Wherever their chosen link was published, it is the case that we found it on their @theGWPF tweet feed. It is also the case that they posted it in their best of blogs section. It is also the case that their International News also cover that story.

  152. BBD says:

    The Daily Mail is a powerful tool:

    The Mail is the most powerful newspaper in Great Britain. A middle-market tabloid, with a daily readership of four and a half million, it reaches four times as many people as the Guardian, while being taken more seriously than the one paper that outsells it, the Sun. In January, its Web arm, Mail Online, surpassed that of the New York Times as the most visited newspaper site in the world, drawing fifty-two million unique visitors a month. The Mail’s closest analogue in the American media is perhaps Fox News.

  153. TinyCO2 says:

    BBD “The Daily Mail gets its climate stories predominantly from the GWPF:” Then stop giving them ammunition. They will continue. It will get worse the longer you keep expecting an easy ride. Only history can award you plaudits for saving the planet. Till then you’re just another group saying the end is nigh. You have to earn your credibility and every event like this is a little step backward. You need new tactics.

  154. BBD says:

    Now let’s return to Latimer:

    Just reporting the general mood I detect from the general public and the media.

    Whether you or I think that the public are right or wrong is immaterial. They will draw their own whatever either of us say. And the pollies (in the end) are more worried about votes than anything else.

  155. Then stop giving them ammunition. They will continue. It will get worse the longer you keep expecting an easy ride.

    You make it sound like it’s some kind of game or conflict. That it’s not about honesty, truth, or scientific integrity. Oh wait, that is probably precisely how the GWPF sees it. So, you may well have a point, depressing as that is.

  156. BBD says:

    TinyCO2

    BBD “The Daily Mail gets its climate stories predominantly from the GWPF:” Then stop giving them ammunition.

    I think you are missing the point here. Perhaps reading some of the recent links will help.

  157. BBD says:

    ATTP – Second cross of the year.

  158. omnologos says:

    Please say this isn’t becoming another thread about how denialists shouldn’t be given any airtime on any media…

  159. jsam says:

    Will the Daily Mail investigate the funding of the GWPF? :-)

  160. BBD says:

    ATTP

    Oh wait, that is probably precisely how the GWPF sees it.

    So do you take a water pistol to a knife fight?

  161. > Doubtless this is caused by the volume of excellent science reporting that the GWPF actually produces, as witnessed by Richard taking so long to corral together all of their coverage of the damage done to basic scientific research by the closing of the US Antarctic programme for the 2013/2014 season.

    Richard seems busy exploring other kinds of documents:

    Let’s hope Mr. Meanie does not take Richard’s investigation as a smear.

  162. Reich.Eschhaus says:

    @ Richard Tol

    Stick to economics. Please..

  163. lolwot says:

    Not much poking at climate etc yielded:

    I call it poetic justice. The IPCC has been lying for decades, and they have been given the thumbs up by just about the whole of academia, the learned scientific societies, led by the RS and the APS, the MSM, and the most important politicians in the world. Now we have a minor incident where some deniers slightly exaggerate a story, so technically it is a lie, and all of a sudden we need to be concerned.

    So far as I am concerned, tough. The warmists made the bed. Now, maybe, they have to lie in it (pun intended).

  164. idunno says:

    Well, sorry Richard, I have to retire for the evening. Hope to catch your list of the GWPF’s complaints about the closure of the US Antarctic program in the morning; after all, I am sure the GWPF at least claims to base its policy recommendations on science.

    So the disruption of the US Antarctic program would be a severe blow to y’all, right?

    I did have a brief look at the website, and personally, I couldn’t find anything. But you are associated with them and, as I’m sure that we could both agree, the closure of this program is much more significant that the current Spirit of Mawson shebang, which appears to have dozens of GWPF-linked reports, I’ll hope to find several hundred GWPF articles waiting for me in the morning. Cheers.

    P.S. If this small task should distract you from your role as a free-market think tank economist, here’s a quick tip to save you loads of time. The best way is to write the conclusion first – “Thus we demonstrate that the best policy is to cut taxes on the wealthy.” – you can always cherry-pick and massage the data afterwards. The magic invisible hand of the market and all that proper economic sciency stuff, innit.

  165. Joshua says:

    This is beautiful:

    From WUWT:

    “While LeAnn’s entry raises some questions that are worth seeking answers to, I would caution readers not to speculate until such time those things can be nailed down, and wait until an official expedition log is posted, so that anecdotal information can be reconciled with the official expedition log.”

    He cautions readers not to speculate.

    Likewise, I caution everyone here not to speculate as to whether Anthony has stopped beating his wife.

  166. Latimer Alder says:

    @willard

    Delighted that you found my Twitter remark so interesting, but I completely fail to see the relevance of a joke about Alice in Wonderland and the nickname of Luton Town Football Club to the subject in hand. I think your bogeyman detector has accidentally been set to 11 (*)

    For those unaware Aldershot Town will be playing Luton Town at their gaff on 5 April.

    (*) Just in case – that, too, is a cultural reference. This time to the popular movie ‘This is Spinal Tap and a famous remark by guitarist Nigel Tufnel.

  167. Latimer Alder says:

    @Tom Curtis

    All reportage of all events influences the way people see things. Of course that is true. The camera may not lie…but it sure as hell doesn’t necessarily tell the whole truth. I wasn’t arguing otherwise. And of course the Spectator – among many others – is taking great delight in ridiculing the participants. Its 70,000 readership will enjoy it.

    But the events have passed already.

    Whatever people may or may not write in the Spectator or Guardian or blogs ain’t going to change the general public reaction one iota. They’ve given ‘climate science’ their 20 seconds attention for this year (or decade), made their minds up, and are thinking of other things. And will continue to do so until some other event draws it to their attention once more.

    Richard Tol cautions that doing silly things in public is a bad move. He’s right,

  168. Dear Latimer,

    I love This is Spinal Tap. The reference to your comment was not because it was interesting, but because you seemed to imply that you were kinda busy. And yet, a few minutes after that you came by to offer a precision about @theGWPF’s tweet. Let’s just say that it’s interesting.

    Another thing I find interesting is that you now seem to have forgotten to discuss the GWPF’s mission, which was the topic of your first comment. Incidentally, the precision you offered at the time did not cut any ice, if I may keep in the spirit of the thread.

    Are your comments a tribute to the Spinal Tap’s drummers?

  169. Latimer Alder says:

    @willard

    You are spending far too much of your valuable time looking for hidden meanings and bogeymen that aren’t there. My tweet had nothing to do with the state of my diary..just that I had no desire to pursue the conversation where you wanted to lead it….wherever that may have been.

    My first remark was a simple factual correction. The article of which you complained was published by the Spectator, not the GWPF – as a moment’s attention would have told you. You are confusing the messenger with the message.

    If you find being precise ‘cuts no ice’, then I’m not surprised that you find so many things to worry about. Imprecise evidence leads to bad conclusions. Remember the paediatrician who was badly assaulted because a mob ‘imprecisely’ thought he was a paedophile?

  170. Latimer Alder says:

    @willard

    Please don’t look at the article in the Daily Express by Leo McKinstry today. It will do your blood pressure no good.

    AFAIK he has no known connections to the GWPF, his paper is a deadly rival of the Daily Mail and Nigel Lawson was never its editor.

  171. jsam says:

    Precisely how is the GWPF funded?

  172. geronimo says:

    I have no idea what whether the science they were going to do, or did, would have been useful, although my gut feeling is that the time was too short to do anything other than superficial measurements and observations. But we’ll see. What I am wondering is, is this the first time a leader of an expedition to the Antarctic has taken to the rescue boats and left the crew of the ship that transported him there to their fate?

  173. @geronimo
    Of course not. Mawson himself got stuck. Had to spend another winter there, without a banana and peanut milkshake in sight.

  174. What I am wondering is, is this the first time a leader of an expedition to the Antarctic has taken to the rescue boats and left the crew of the ship that transported him there to their fate?

    I don’t think that’s all that relevant here. He’s only the leader of the science team. He has no direct leadership role on the ship and so really it’s the captain and crew who are responsible for the ship, not the science team leader. I believe that in this case there is no danger to the crew. I presume that if the ship really is stuck fast, they’ll be taken off at a later stage, but I assume that they’re hoping to get free sometime later in the season.

  175. geronimo says:

    Wotty I’m not sure you’re not contorting the logic a little bit to let Turney off the hook. The ship was under his direct leadership, it was hired specifically for his journey, it went where he told it to go and stopped when he told it to stop. How is he not the leader of the expedition?

  176. Geronimo,
    I wasn’t there, but I don’t think you’re correct. I think you’ll find that formally the ship was under the direct command of the captain. Turney almost certainly did not stand on the bridge captaining the ship. If Turney wanted to do something that wasn’t safe then I think the Captain would have complete power to overrule him. In fact, I suspect that formally the Captain will be held responsible if it turns out that they have behaved recklessly, not Turney.

    If he’d stayed behind, he would simply have been one lone scientists being largely ignored by the ship’s captain and crew.

  177. andrew adams says:

    Oh god, I looked at that McKinstry piece. To call it “dumb” wouldn’t even begin to scratch the surface of it’s sheer moronicness. He makes David Rose look like Carl Sagan.

  178. Andrew,
    Indeed. That article reminded me that you don’t have to be associated with the GWPF in order to write idiotic and ill-informed newspaper articles.

  179. geronimo says:

    “Professor Chris Turney (AAE Leader)”

    “The Australasian Antarctic Expedition – the AAE – will truly meld science and adventure, repeating century old measurements to discover and communicate the changes taking place in this remote and pristine environment.” (Spirit of Mawson website)

    He was the expedition leader, no ifs and buts, so has responsibility for all persons on the expedition, he didn’t hail down a passing ship and ask it where it was going, he hired the ship, told it where to go and where to stop. If I was in his shoes I’d have stayed with the crew until they were rescued seeing it as my responibility as the leader of the expedition. Are there no lengths you won’t go to protect people you perceive as being on your “side”.

    You can reply if you want Wotty the logic is clear to me, so I’ve had my last say on the matter.

  180. Rachel says:

    Geronimo,
    I’ve worked on a yacht and the Captain has ultimate responsibility for the vessel and the safety of all people on board. From wiki:

    A sea captain (also called a captain or a master or a shipmaster) is a licensed mariner in ultimate command of the vessel.[1] The captain is responsible for its safe and efficient operation, including cargo operations, navigation, crew management and ensuring that the vessel complies with local and international laws, as well as company and flag state policies. All persons on board, including officers and crew, other shipboard staff members, passengers, guests and pilots, are under the captain’s authority and are his ultimate responsibility.

  181. omnologos says:

    I suspect the truth lies in the middle. Turney had no business to remain on the ship and probably risked becoming candidate as dinner in case the wait were to be dragging too long.

    So he acted properly in going back home. OTOH since he was the one who controlled the money, the Captain would have been hard pressed in saying Yes to pretty much everything, and if say there were a landing party having fun with the Argos as the ice was closing in, the Captain would’ve been forced to wait for everybody to be back on board no matter what.

    Perhaps there is some marine law about mutual responsibility between captains, owners and renters of a ship.

  182. @Geronimo
    This is roughly what happened. The ship sailed out to sea because weather predictions were bad. It returned as predictions improved. Predictions got worse again. Someone messed up a vehicle, delaying the final excursion. Captain had to choose between sailing out on time and leaving people behind.

  183. Gerinimo,
    I’m going to assume that you’re just pulling my leg. The alternative is too silly to be credible.

    Omnologos,

    OTOH since he was the one who controlled the money, the Captain would have been hard pressed in saying Yes to pretty much everything, and if say there were a landing party having fun with the Argos as the ice was closing in, the Captain would’ve been forced to wait for everybody to be back on board no matter what.

    I don’t think there’s a middle ground. A fee would have been set, but he wouldn’t have been paying per ARGO float. Any Captain who put their ship, crew and passengers at risk because the person who chartered the ship wanted to drop another buoy would be highly irresponsible. It’s true that if there were people on shore it might be slightly trickier, but in the Antarctic if they were a reasonable distance from the ship they would have almost certainly had emergency gear and could have stayed on land a few days if the ship had to leave.

  184. Richard,
    I did not know that. Interesting, thanks.

  185. Rachel says:

    The relevant laws regarding who has responsibility for the vessel and safety of those on board is the Safety of Life At Sea (solas) treaty passed in 1974 which can be read here.

    The short answer is (courtesy BBC):

    *The current version, passed in 1974, does not specify that the captain should stay with his ship but states that the captain, or master, has the ultimate authority aboard his ship.

    It doesn’t matter who the owner is or how much money they have or who has chartered the vessel nor how much money they have. The ultimate responsibility falls to the ship’s master.

  186. OPatrick says:

    Confusingly Argos seems to be the name for the vehicles they were using as well as the floats they were dropping.

  187. OPatrick,
    Yes, I’ve just realised that. Hence, my slight confusion in my previous comment.

  188. omnologos says:

    Rachel/ATTP – google for ‘employment and agency’. The situation is really complicated. The captain and the owner for example cannot refuse to obey a request to sail into icy waters when it was expected that the trip was going to be through icy waters.

    Again we can only speculate, as the clauses in the chartering contract will indicate how disputes will be handled, and using which marine jurisdiction’s laws and mores.

    But we can safely assume it wasn’t just the Captain’s responsibility or Turney’s.

  189. The lawyers will decide who is liable for the rescue costs, but the smart money is on the owners of the Akademik Shokalskiy (unless they have a very generous insurer).

    Chris Turney will have to justify to his wife why he put his children in harms way.

    The researchers will have to justify to their departments why they returned late and with extra travel costs. This may be hard in some cases as there is no obvious research rationale for them going on this trip in the first place.

  190. Omnologos,
    Yes, I’m sure it’s complicated. However, I’m also sure that Turney was not formally in charge of the vessel and its crew and that staying on board would have been a ridiculous for him to do.

  191. Rachel says:

    Richard,

    Chris Turney will have to justify to his wife why he put his children in harms way.

    Two things. The children were not in any danger and you presume the wife had no say which is something I find hard to believe and quite frankly, insulting to his wife.

    This may be hard in some cases as there is no obvious research rationale for them going on this trip in the first place.

    I disagree with this however I’m not going to repeat myself. Instead I want to add something new. There is value to be had in an expedition that traces the steps of a famous explorer. Do you agree?

  192. Nick says:

    God, is Richard Tol still wittering on with his ‘fascinating’ combo of disapproval and blithe speculation? Snowed under, Richard?

  193. Latimer Alder says:

    @rachel

    If the children weren’t in any danger, why the need for anybody being rescued at all?

  194. Rachel says:

    Since omnologos does not seem to understand that the master of a ship has ultimate responsibility, I have dredged out the relevant bit from SOLAS regulation XI-2/8

    3.4 It should be noted that SOLAS regulation XI-2/8 on Master’s discretion for ship safety and security provides that:

    “The master shall not be constrained by the Company, the charterer or any other person from taking or executing any decision which, in the professional judgement of the master, is necessary to maintain the safety and security of the ship. This includes denial of access to persons (except those identified as duly authorized by a Contracting Government) or their effects and refusal to load cargo, including containers or other closed cargo transport units.”

  195. omnologos says:

    Rachel – am not sure what makes you so combative on a point where neither of us has professional expertise. It’d be easy to say that the BBC link was about captains staying or not on the ship, and the SOLAS link is about persons and cargo, not routes.

    A cursory look to any google search will show how complex the relationship is between skippers, owners and charterers. Anything else would leave the system to abuse, including dead crews or ships who would never leave anchor.

  196. Rachel says:

    Latimer,

    If the children weren’t in any danger, why the need for anybody being rescued at all?

    If you read their itinerary, you will see they were due to land back in New Zealand on the 4th January. This is why they were rescued. The crew are still alive and well on the ship so there’s no reason to think the children wouldn’t also be alive and well had they stayed on board.

  197. Rachel says:

    Omnologos,
    Let’s drop it here then, agreed? You have made your point and I’ve made mine. I’m very happy you raised this issue. Thank you.

  198. omnologos says:

    I’d just hope things can become less confrontational. I have a point to make about children and safety but somehow don’t see anything constructive in making it now, given the promptness of your responses ;)

  199. Latimer Alder says:

    @rachel

    So the whole rescue was to ensure that the passengers (but not the crew or the ship) weren’t late home from their Antarctic visit?

    Wow.

  200. @Rachel
    A ship like the Akademik Shokalskiy can be crushed by ice or overturned. Passengers are evacuated as a precaution because they would slow down an emergency evacuation. The evacuation decision was made not because they risked missing their flights but because they risked their lives.

  201. Rachel says:

    Ok, I acknowledge I have said something without really thinking first. I do not think the children were in any danger but I do not mean to imply – as Latimer and Richard are inferring – that they were rescued solely to make their flights. Please do not say this is what I said because my intention is not to say this. If my wording implies it then my words were poorly chosen.

  202. Tom Curtis says:

    @Tol:

    “Chris Turney will have to justify to his wife why he put his children in harms way.

    The researchers will have to justify to their departments why they returned late and with extra travel costs. This may be hard in some cases as there is no obvious research rationale for them going on this trip in the first place.”

    Richard invents more rookeries in the sea.

    In this case he is inventing a lack of relevant expertise simply because it suits his narrative. He will not be able to justify the claim based on the list of relevant scientists. He also invents a marital dispute in the same manner, ignoring that Chris Turney’s wife will have to justify to Chris Turney why she put their children in danger in equal measure, given that she was on the trip in her professional capacity.

  203. @Tom
    Why would you develop educational material on board a ship?

  204. Latimer Alder says:

    @rachel

    Thanks for the clarification. Even Homer nods.

  205. BBD says:

    Oh dear God. Still going on. Mind you, when you’ve lost the scientific argument, desperate diversionary measures are a necessity. Smearing scientists and institutions is the only tactical choice remaining (along with lying to the electorate and subverting democracy, of course).

    So on the circus rolls.

  206. @BBD
    What else did you expect.

    As I argued before, the only way to prevent is for climate science to become squeeky clean — for instance, not use research money to appoint loved ones.

  207. omnologos says:

    your sincerity and introspective abilities are appreciated, BBD.

  208. BBD says:

    for instance, not use research money to appoint loved ones.

    Richard, what are you insinuating? Can you be exactly specific, as for example if this were something to be used on record, in a future legal case.

  209. BBD says:

    Remind me, has anyone accused the scientists of devil worship yet?

  210. BBD says:

    Omnologos

    This statement is sincere, factually correct, unambiguous and not in any way introspective. I do not understand your comment.

  211. idunno says:

    Hi Richard,

    As a member of the scientific board of an alleged “educational charity”, please could you provide a link to the GWPF view on the complete closure of the US Anarctic program in 2013/2014?

  212. OPatrick says:

    Or, Richard, people could stop trying to winkle every last ounce of possible controversy out of any incident – at least people who aspire to credibility could.

  213. @idunno
    No, for three reasons. As a member of the advisory board, I cannot speak for the advisory board let alone the foundation. The GWPF has no position on said closure, as far as I know. The GWPF takes few positions anyway (although people tend to mistake the positions of the director or the chair for the positions of the foundation).

  214. @BBD
    Apologies. I have no way of knowing that Chris Turney loves his wife.

  215. I wonder what the relative risks are of travelling to Antarctica with one’s family, compared with taking them on holiday elsewhere. Would a French cycling holiday, a Swiss ski holiday, or a Mediterranean beach holiday be more or less risky (in terms of personal safety) than the Mawson expedition? And assuming that you paid for your family to go to Antarctica in the same way that you’d pay to take a normal jolly, then what business is it of anyone else’s what risks you choose to take?

  216. idunno says:

    Hi Richard,
    Then a personal view will do.

    Is that closure, say, 100 times more significant than this, or a thousand?

    Would the GWPF have better performed its educational role if it had published or linked to a score of articles on the US program closure? or would a dozen or so references to the US closure for every story on the Spirit of Mawson be a better ratio?

    Enquiring minds, and the Charity Commissioners, I understand, would like to know.

    I’m going to stick my neck out and opine that the ratio is actually infinite. Any evidence that you can provide to the contrary would be both greatly appreciated and, frankly, astounding. Your foiundation would go up inordinately in my estimation.

  217. Latimer Alder says:

    @kit carruthers

    Mr Turney can choose to take whatever risks he likes on his own and his family’s behalf. But it’s not quite the same when he expects uninvolved third parties to take risks to rescue him from the consequences.

    And as veteran of many French cycling holidays, I am happy to report that my bicycle has never been stuck in 10 feet of pack ice requiring rescue by helicopter. Was once done severe and nearly terminal damage by a hotelier’s home brewed plum brandy in the Dordogne..but that’s another story.

  218. @idunno
    I have no opinion on this. I know how some other federal agencies cope, but not this one.

  219. BBD says:

    Richard Tol

    Stop buggering about. Did you just accuse Turney of financial wrongdoing? Yes or no.

  220. BBD says:

    Moderator. Please take careful note of Tol’s response. I think this has gone far enough.

  221. BBD says:

    WMC

    Are you getting this?

  222. @BBD
    I, or rather Tom, noticed that he hired his wife.

  223. Moderator. Please take careful note of Tol’s response. I think this has gone far enough.

    I agree. I’ve been travelling, so have missed most of this but can we just drop this. We really don’t know enough about the financing of the trip or who paid for what to be speculating about any kind of financial wrongdoing.

  224. Richard,

    I, or rather Tom, noticed that he hired his wife.

    That may well be true, but we really don’t know enough about this to be speculating about whether or not this was a suitable thing to have done. I would also argue that it has very little relevance with respect to climate science as a whole. Of course, some may want to make it appear that it may reflect poorly on climate science in general. but I would argue that that inference would be wrong.

  225. BBD says:

    @ Tol

    And you decided to insinuate financial impropriety with absolutely no basis in fact. That is so very close to libellous. If I were you, Tol, I would not cross that line.

  226. BBD says:

    The GWPF takes few positions anyway (although people tend to mistake the positions of the director or the chair for the positions of the foundation).

    Cobblers.

  227. andrew adams says:

    The researchers will have to justify to their departments why they returned late and with extra travel costs. This may be hard in some cases as there is no obvious research rationale for them going on this trip in the first place.

    Well presumably their departments would disagree ontherwise they wouldn’t have agreed to pay for them to go in the first place.

    But you’re right in one sense – to the extent that their actions are found wanting and any additional costs are involved they will have to justify this to their departments. They don’t have to justify themselves to you.

  228. @Wotts
    But this is exactly the point.
    There is disagreement whether the expedition had some or no scientific value.
    The expedition leaders have made it clear that PR was an important rationale. It backfired spectacularly.
    And it may get worse. Conflicts of interest and [Mod: snipped potentially libellous statement] fire up a different constituency.

  229. BBD says:

    [Mod: the potentially libellous statement has been snipped from the original comment and so I have removed it from here also.

    You are doing it again, Tol. But do carry on.

  230. BBD says:

    May I just say that this is absolutely fucking sickening.

  231. The expedition leaders have made it clear that PR was an important rationale. It backfired spectacularly.
    And it may get worse. Conflicts of interest and [Mod: Potentially libellous statement has been removed from quote above and so for consistency, have removed it from here as well] fire up a different constituency.

    Indeed it’s been a PR disaster. How, though, does that justify you suggesting financial impropriety? I completely agree that they would much rather this hadn’t happened and that it hasn’t done them any good and likely has allowed certain organisations to infer much wider implications with respect to climate science in general. That, however, doesn’t necessarily imply that these inferences have any merit or that serious academics should be playing a role in making the PR aspect of this seem even worse than it need be. Surely no one who is serious about climate science and serious about being credible would want to make what’s happened to this expedition seem more significant that it actually is? Surely we should be waiting to know more before making any suggestions of impropriety and surely we should be trying to avoid inferring from this more than is warranted?

  232. @Wotts
    The facts are there for anyone to see.
    Chris Turney owns shares in a company that makes money from climate policy and climate policy only.
    Chris Turney and Annette Turney are married to one another, and both are members of the expedition team.
    Others will judge what is appropriate or not.
    The climate community should ask itself why it exposes itself to these kinds of reputational risks in the first place.

  233. Rachel says:

    Ok, Richard, let’s give it a rest now. You’ve made the same point numerous times. It doesn’t need repeating.

    I’m going to quote Anthony Watts here, (a quote Joshua made above which does need repeating)

    ….I would caution readers not to speculate until such time those things can be nailed down…

    Any unsubstantiated accusations will be deleted from now on.

  234. Richard,
    Those may well be facts. You did, however, choose to use the word [Mod: Snipped potentially libellous statement from original comment so for consistency, have removed mention of it here as well].

    The climate community should ask itself why it exposes itself to these kinds of reputational risks in the first place.

    How is this in any way relevant? The climate science community doesn’t have some kind of governing body who decide whether or not individuals can behave in a certain way. How would this work? If they did try and instill some kind of rules they would be criticised for trying to control how people behave. What you’ve said seems completely absurd and I’m amazed that you can say these kind of things without expecting people to judge you poorly for saying them. Do you seriously believe that the climate science community could actually have stopped this expedition and stopped Chris Turney from taking his family? Do you really think that the climate science community should be judged because of the failings (real or imagined) of this expedition? I don’t and I don’t think you do yourself any favours by suggesting that they should. That’s not to say that they won’t be judged for this but I don’t see how you can suggest that they should without it appearing that you’re trying to – for some reason – score some kind of point.

  235. @Wotts
    I was not thinking of governing bodies.

    Why did Turney not wonder, before seeking the limelight, whether he could stand the heat? Why didn’t his friends and colleagues ask these questions? Why didn’t his employer? His sponsors? The journalists on the trip?

  236. omnologos says:

    The climate community will grow up when it will stop circling the wagons. It did not happen for Gergis or even poor Wagner’s resignation. For some reason instead, there has been a different reaction to Turney’s fiasco (notwithstanding attempts here to discuss the GWPF).

    And that’s a good thing.

  237. Richard,

    Why did Turney not wonder, before seeking the limelight, whether he could stand the heat? Why didn’t his friends and colleagues ask these questions? Why didn’t his employer? His sponsors? The journalists on the trip?

    These may well be perfectly good questions and knowing the answers to these may help to understand whether or not the expedition was properly assessed and whether or not they took unnecessary risks. None of them, however, would indicate that one should infer anything significant with respect to the climate science community as a whole. Why didn’t more economists recognise that the housing bubble was liking to burst and that pretending that a bundle of sub-prime mortgages could be magically changed from risky to largely riskless was a little silly?

  238. johnrussell40 says:

    Be interesting to see how Chris Turney responds to Richard Tol’s insinuations. I’ve informed him of this thread, though assuming Australian residents are in slumber at this time, we may have to wait a few hours yet.

  239. Marco says:

    It is interesting to see the questions of Richard Tol lacking any introspection. Why does Richard Tol expose himself to the reputational risk by making unsubstantiated claims of e.g. [Mod: Snipped. Potentially libellous]

  240. johnrussell40 says:

    As I said further up this thread, omnologos, we would not be discussing this expedition yet, if it weren’t for the fact that sceptic activists are trying to make hay, in a very nasty speculative way, of the outcome of a fairly normal Antarctic weather event.

  241. Joshua says:

    “Chris Turney will have to justify to his wife why he put his children in harms way.”

    This is just getting more and more interesting. What drives someone like Richard to exploit Turney’s wife and children to score points in the climate wars? Why does he insist in piling on in using events that are unprecedented, idiosyncratic, irrelevant to the state of climate science research, irrelevant to the related economics, and being fallaciously exploited by “skeptics” in the climate wars?

    What explains this kind of concern trolling?

  242. @Wotts
    Wrong example: You highlight methodological issues and disciplinary blind spots; you mix up academics and practitioners, economics and finance.

    But for what it is worth, academic economists are cleaning up their act with regard to conflicts of interest.

  243. Richard,

    Wrong example: You highlight methodological issues and disciplinary blind spots; you mix up academics and practitioners, economics and finance.

    But for what it is worth, academic economists are cleaning up their act with regard to conflicts of interest.

    Quite possibly, I’m not a fan of judging an entire field because of the mistakes (real or imagined) of the few. On the other hand, if a powerful and influential group of people had decided to attack economists for what were some fairly obvious failings, I don’t think the subtleties you highlight would have suddenly stopped them.

  244. @Wotts
    The discussion was about conflicts of interest in academia. Whatever the failings of the profession, the 2008 crisis and all that followed was not because university professors enriched themselves at the expense of the financial system and the economy.

  245. Joshua says:

    “The climate community will grow up when it will stop circling the wagons.”

    There is actually a valid point here e- even if it isn’t the one that omnologos intended.

    The notion that “the climate community” can be characterized as needing to “grow up” is absurd- but it interesting that people try to defend against attacks like Richard’s (i.e., “circle the wagons”). It is pointless. There is no defense against criticisms that are not based in sound reasoning.

  246. BBD says:

    There is no defense against criticisms that are not based in sound reasoning.

    You sue for libel.

  247. Joshua says:

    “Why does Richard Tol expose himself to the reputational risk by making unsubstantiated claims of e.g. [Mod: Snipped. Potentially libellous.]“

    I think he sees no reputational risk in doing so – which I’d say is the more interesting question.

  248. BBD says:

    @johnrussell40

    I’ve informed him of this thread

    Excellent.

  249. BBD says:

    I think he sees no reputational risk in doing so

    In my opinion, RT is mistaken on this point.

  250. Richard,

    The discussion was about conflicts of interest in academia. Whatever the failings of the profession, the 2008 crisis and all that followed was not because university professors enriched themselves at the expense of the financial system and the economy.

    No it wasn’t. The discussion was about judging an entire discipline on the basis on the actions of a few. The point I was trying to make was that if sufficiently powerful people had decided to judge the entire economics profession for the failing in the late 2000s, the actual details of what happened, who was responsible, etc would not have stopped them. And, in case it’s not clear, that’s precisely what I think is happening with respect to the general criticism of the climate science field. And, yes, I think you’re playing a very negative role that in that process that, in my opinion, reflects very poorly on you. I was going to say that it doesn’t do you any favours, but that may not be true.

  251. omnologos says:

    The confusion is accumulating. Somebody laments this discussion happens only because people are trying to make something out of the fiasco. So perhaps it was not a fiasco.

    Another is saying that there is no defense against baseless accusations. So this discussion does not exist.

    The host keeps hammering the point that one fiasco’ed expedition a whole scientific field does not ruin. I agree with that. I think everybody here agrees with that, including Tol. Can we therefore move on please?

  252. Are there two omnologos’s?

    I agree with that. I think everybody here agrees with that, including Tol. Can we therefore move on please?

    If Tol agrees with that, he’s expressing himself poorly. Moving on is what I was hoping we would have done ages ago. I don’t think there’s an awful lot more we can squeeze from this thread.

  253. @omnologos
    The Spirit of Mawson did not do much research, so they had little impact (apart from getting in the way of serious people).

    It was a PR effort that backfired, and it should be judged on those demerits.

  254. BBD says:

    It was a PR effort that backfired, and it should be judged on those demerits.

    Even if we accept this framing – and I do not – you have gone far beyond that.

  255. > Chris Turney will have to justify to his wife why he put his children in harms way.

    Was this observation implied by Ruth’s question?

    If true, we just got back to where we started. Except perhaps that Leopard’s point that Ruth’s question wasn’t loaded has no merit.

    If not, we now know that Richard’s concerns for the scientific merits of this expedition was a façade for a stupendously long goal celebration over a PR fumble, which now appears to be a prelude to another auditing mode.

    Considering that people do all kinds of silly things (even our minion, imagine that!), and that as long as people will do them their will be such fishing expeditions, I conclude that the audit never ends.

  256. > So perhaps it was not a fiasco.

    An auditing opportunity is never really a fiasco, at least to those whose concerns regarding its PR impact can get a life of its own.

    On the other hand, it may happen that more silly things can be said by our auditing crew.

    But as Tony (and RyanO before him, in another Antarctica story) implored, we ought not speculate, as speculation is dangerous [1].

    [1] http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com/post/4468523507

  257. Joshua says:

    omnologos

    I’m not sure I understand…

    “Another is saying that there is no defense against baseless accusations. So this discussion does not exist.”

    I am saying that there is no worthwhile defense against illogical accusations (which are not quite the same as baseless accusations — in that they might be originated in a legitimate question, or have a “base,” but through fallacious reasoning, stretch that legitimate question to formulate an illogical argument). The reason why defenses are not worthwhile is that you’re trying to defend against a phantom argument, a shape-shifting argument, an argume of no substance or conistency.

    But that doesn’t mean that I’m saying that this discussion “doesn’t exist.”

  258. Joshua says:

    “It was a PR effort that backfired, and it should be judged on those demerits.”

    I am wondering if anyone has any prior evidence of Richard showing concern about ill-advised PR efforts?

    Is this an issue that he has studied in some fashion?

    Has he written on the subject? Is his concern about the nature of the nexus of PR and research funding a long-standing concern? Has he applied his concern to studying these issues as they relate to his own field?

    Does Richard think it valid to use any particular ill-advised PR efforts on the part of anyone in his field of research to assess his work, or the work in his field more generally?

    On what basis does Richard assume the knowledge-base from with to “judge” the question of PR related to academic research? What are the objective criteria that he has taken the time to apply to different instances that might prove instructive?

    Surely, given Richard’s interest in explaining to use how to judge these issues, he must have a well-articulated basis for his concerns

  259. Joshua says:

    I’d like to go back to something Tom quoted (from Connolley) above:

    “I think that a question asked by AR was the trip important enough to justify the cost that is now mounting? is obviously *not* the right question to ask – if they knew they were going to get stuck and need rescue, then obviously they wouldn’t have gone. A righter question would be was the trip important enough to justify (the cost that is now mounting) times (the probability that cost would be incurred)?

    As much as I disagree with Connolley as to whether Richard is being treated “shamefully,” and as much as I think that this issue amounts mostly to just more Jell-0 flinging in the climate change junior high school lunchroom cafeteria food fight, I do agree with Connolley and Tom that the issue of (minor) substance is that which Connolley described.

    I’m just wondering if Richard, or any of the other participants who are concerned about this whole situation, might respond.

  260. Bernard J. says:

    I’m bemused at the sheer scale of the invective that is being generated by the new cohort of armchair experts in polar science, who variously conduct their research in fora ranging from basements to pubs to offices in economics buildings. Talk is cheap and armchair opinon is cheaper, and pretty much worthless when it presumes to know better than those who actually put their butts onto the hard surface of a rock in the field rather than on warm padded leather.

    For mine, I think no-one who hasn’t bothered to speak to the expedition organisers themselves about the structuring of the research has any place to credibly comment on its validity, and certainly not if the full story has yet to be told.

    On the matter of the entrapment in ice, I suggest that pontificators proclaiming ‘fiasco’ actually study some history of scientific field work across a diversity of disciplines for comparison, and consider the disproportionate amount of criticism in this case.

    I have a suspicion that this criticism would have not been nearly as vocal as it has been had not the sea ice caught the ship just before Christmas and New Year. If what I heard on the broadcast media was anything to go by it was all about whether they’d be home in time for Christmas, and then for New Year, as if this was the Great Tragedy. This is what set the story to raging in the Australian media at least – had it started after 1 January I reckon that the public interest would have been far less appealing and the frenzy restricted almost entirely to the denialosphere.

    Finally…

    Chris Turney and Annette Turney are married to one another, and both are members of the expedition team.
    Others* will judge what is appropriate or not.

    Seriously?!

    Puh-lease. You need to get out into the world more RT.

    I know of many husband/wife, parent/offspring and sibling research teams – look through the staff directories of any significant university and you’ll find dozens. As in any profession scientific interest can run in families and many relationships emerge from work contacts. It’s a normal part of life, and in Australia at least there are stringent institutional procedures to navigate circumstances where there may be potential conflicts of interest. I’ve personally sat through interview panels where relationships were declared and merit assessed by impartial parties, so I know that this works. If Turney’s wife is drawing financial compensation from any public funding source you can be sure that there has been appropriate oversight – if you are in doubt I am sure that UNSW will be happy to detail their institutional processes for you.

    Absent any empirical basis for misbehaviour such inflammatory insinuations only diminish the standing of those who make them.

    [* Nice attempt at plausible deniability, but even the rocks can hear your dog-whistle. Your own judging insinuation hasn't passed unnoticed.]

  261. Rachel says:

    As much as I disagree with Connolley as to whether Richard is being treated “shamefully,”…

    Does Richard think he is being treated shamefully?

  262. > Is this an issue that he has studied in some fashion?

    Even if not, it seems that Richard is getting up to speed:

    This may explain why he’s the “most-cited scolar by the Stern Review of the Economics of Climate Change”, as stated by his byline. But the byline also reads: “May contain sarcasm, also in choice of retweets.”

    Is sarcasm Richard’s way to judge something on its demerits?

  263. @Rachel
    No, Richard is fine.

  264. Rachel says:

    Richard,
    Good, very glad to hear it.

  265. Eli channels the spirit of Mawson’s past:

    You can even Richard Tol this, as a Jonathan Karpoff does in Public vs. Private Initiative in Arctic Exploration:

    From 1818 to 1909 35 government and 57 privately funded expeditions sought to locate and navigate a Northwest Passage, discover the North Pole and make other significant discoveries in Arctic regions. Most major Arctic discoveries were made by private expeditions. Most tragedies were publicly funded.

    http://rabett.blogspot.com/2014/01/eli-is-puzzeled.html

    But were there 12-yos and 73-yos on boards?

  266. Ian Forrester says:

    I can’t believe all the nonsense and insinuations and smearing that the deniers have brought to this discussion. Ships get stuck in the ice all the time, scientists may or may not be on board, other ships get stuck coming to the rescue. Goes on all the time. No one on board was hurt or upset by the goings on. Yet this episode is all over the MSM and blogsphere.

    No one reported on a much more tragic event that happened just three months ago in the Canadian Arctic when an ice breaker captain, helicopter pilot and climate scientist were killed in a helicopter crash while returning to the ice breaker after doing a a bit of science.

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/arctic-helicopter-crash-details-emerge-1.1868535

    This episode had a bit of a personal interest to me since a couple of years go I had met one of the captains of the Amundsen and had briefly discussed changes in the Arctic and climate change with him when he was in Calgary. I was relieved, but felt deep sorrow for those who died, to find out that it was another captain who was in command at the time.

    Yes some aspects of science are not the safe and comfortable (and financially lucrative) occupations that deniers like to claim.

  267. Tom Curtis says:

    Going back a ways, Tol wrote:

    “The researchers will have to justify to their departments why they returned late and with extra travel costs. This may be hard in some cases as there is no obvious research rationale for them going on this trip in the first place.”

    Challenged on that point, he responds:

    “@Tom
    Why would you develop educational material on board a ship?

    The first thing I want to note is that Tol has changed his claim. He has claimed there is “no obvious research rationale” for some members of the expedition to go; but challenged he notes somebody who is not on the expedition to research, but to coordinate “…the development of educational materials for schools.” He may as well have challenged the presence of Andrew Peacock, the expedition medical officer on the grounds there would be little opportunity for medical research in the Antarctic.

    The second thing I want to note is that Tol has reversed the onus of proof. He made a positive claim about the lack of obvious reason for the presence of some expedition members (interpreted broadly). It turns out that his “evidence” is that he, with no expertise in pre-tertiary education, cannot think of a reason. His implicit argument is that if I (almost equally lacking in pre-tertiary educational expertise) cannot provide reasons to have an educator onboard, then his claim is justified. Nothing of the sort is true. Even if I did not have a clue as to why an educator developing course material would be benefited by accompanying the expedition, that does not mean experts in the field would equally lack reasons to do so. As with his embarrassing “rookeries in the ocean” comment, Tol makes claims for which he has no justification, and relies on our ignorance as his only substantive argument.

    The third think I want to note is that there are very substantive reasons for a educator developing course material to want to be on board with the expedition. What teacher would not want the opportunity to hob-nob with the scientists doing the work around which their course material was being developed for four weeks? How would the opportunity to talk to the scientists about points on which you are confused; to attend the lectures scientists gave for the tourists; to see the scientific work being conducted in the conditions in which it was conducted; and to personally direct or request appropriate audio visual material for the course not help in course development? At a cost of $17,000 to $19,000, that is a low price for such an advantage assuming the course material is at all widely used. (Wages are not an additional cost in that, as a teacher, they are a sunk cost. That is, on the presumption that she was a teacher in an Australian school, she was paid in any event for the period of the trip, which fell inside a school holiday.)

    Moving on to Tol’s next bit of mudslinging, I do not know the basis of Annette Turney’s choice as a suitable person to develop educational material on the expedition. Chris and/or Annette Turney may have paid for he her joining the expedition as a tourist, and then decided to use here expertise to the advantage of the expedition. Alternatively, she may have been sponsored by the University of Exeter, or that of Wollongong, of both of which she is an alumni, and both of which sponsored the expedition. (Note, each of those universities has a current staff member on the expedition, so there is no evidence that this happened, only that it was possible.) finaly, she may have had her trip paid for out of general expedition funds because she was the most suitable person for the position, with the decision being made by the expedition co-leaders rather than Chris Turney.

    In each of these cases, her presence on board is not [Mod: Snipped. Potentially libellous], and entirely above board. Tol has no evidence that none of these cases is what happens. He does not even try to find out. He merely slings mud and hopes it will stick. [Mod: Removed last sentence to keep the discussion civil.]

  268. Tom Curtis says:

    Rachel, I do not normally dispute with the moderator, but the discussion already ceases to be civil once people, without evidence, sling accusations of wrong doing against people who are not here to defend themselves. The notion that civility only applies to those present is preposterous and hypocritical.

  269. Tom,
    That’s kind of a valid point but I think many have been defending those who have not been defending themselves. I would also rather not start going back on moderation decisions, whether justified or not. I will accept your point though.

  270. @Tom
    The issues of the PhD candidates and curriculum development are unrelated.

  271. Tom Curtis says:

    So in addition to unjustified mudslinging, Tol now admits to playing a game of “look, squirrel”. Asked to justify his claims that for many researchers “…there is no obvious research rationale for them going on this trip in the first place”, he merely changed the subject. At least, that is the implication of his latest claim.

  272. @Tom
    12 out of 18 PhD candidates have no research connection to the Antarctic. I don’t understand what data 5 could collect on this expedition that are useful to their thesis and that necessitates their presence. The final one could have spend 2 days flying to Mawson’s Huts and 26 collecting data, but instead spent 26 days sailing there and 2 days collecting data.

    This issue is entirely separate from the issue of recruiting a relative.

  273. Richard,
    Personally, I think you’re being remarkably specific with your judgement of the relevance of the programme to the different PhD students. I count 13 who have research interests that appear relevant.

  274. Bernard J. says:

    I don’t understand what data 5 could collect on this expedition …

    And therein lies the problem, as well as the reason why you should just keep your mouth shut. As you yourself note you don’t understand, because you have insufficient information about the situation and no experience in the execution of work in the discipline.

    In this your credentials to comment are little better than those of a garbage collector who imagines that hs surgeon is wrong to ascribe said garbage collector’s lung cancer to heavy, life-longsmoking.

  275. @Bernard
    So please enlighten me: How does this trip help Naysa, Alice, Willem, Eleanor, David?

  276. Richard,

    I think the point Bernard is trying to make (a little more forceful than maybe I would like, but I suspect you can take it) is that none of us are probably qualified to judge whether or not these students would benefit from the expedition and whether their presence is worthwhile.

    However,

    Naysa :

    The recordings from this trip will go towards a much larger project examining how the top predators (seals and whales) are responding to the changes in the Antarctic ecosystem, by Naysa’s PhD supervisor Tracey Rogers and her team at the Evolution and Ecology Research Centre at the University of New South Wales.

    Eleanor :

    Eleanor is a palaeoclimatologist and glacial geomorphologist living in New South Wales, Australia. Eleanor’s research is focused on the climatically-sensitive polar regions, where her work aims to reconstruct the past extent and dynamics of glaciers and ice sheets over millennia.

    David:

    I showed that the Antarctic Circumpolar Current plays an important role in keeping the Southern Hemisphere sea surface cooler under global warming.

    Alice,

    Her PhD project at UNSW focuses on turbulent processes in the Southern Ocean. Using both observations and numerical models, she investigates how underwater mountains affect ocean currents around Antarctica and the impact they may have on global climate.

    Willem,

    Willem is a PhD candidate in oceanography and paleo-climate at the Climate Change Research Centre. He uses earth system models to investigate the effects of changes in the Southern Hemisphere’s Westerly winds on the climate, in particular, on the carbon cycle.

    Or, am I missing the point you’re trying to make? And, to be clear, I’m not suggesting that this proves that their presence was necessary, that their research would benefit from the trip and that they would be actually doing relevant research on the trip. It just seems that one can find statements in their profile that appear consistent with Antarctic related research.

  277. I disagree, Bernard, Richard has lots of experience in micro-managing opposition research, e.g.:

  278. @Wotts
    And we’re full circle. I don’t see how this contributes to their research. You and others claim it does, but cannot explain how and why.

    Naysa uses automated recordings. Eleanor studies the deep past; the only ice core drilled was used for cocktails. David and Willem are modelers. Alice uses models and existing data sets.

  279. You and others claim it does, but cannot explain how and why.

    No, I’m not. Why would I possibly be able to explain how and why? I’m making no claims whatsoever, other than pointing out that one can find statements in their research interests that appear consistent with Antarctic research. You are the only person who appears to be making claims. Let’s at least agree on that. I’m not even trying to suggest that your view won’t turn out to be correct. It’s simply that you appear to be making strong claims based on little evidence and – I suspect – virtually no personal experience in either Antarctic research or any research related to that of those participating in this expedition. I’m sticking with what I’ve said from the beginning. I’ll reserve judgement until I know more – although, my personal judgement has virtually no relevance whatsoever.

  280. Happy New Year everyone! Not that anything needs to be added to this rather funny thread (it doesn’t bear thinking about the chance that some comments are really meant to be taken seriously), but I’d like to second Bernard J, whose two comments are perfectly spot on.

  281. Tom Curtis says:

    Anders, you are jumping the gun here. Tol has not yet shown that Naysa, Eleanor, David, Allice or Willem were on leg 2, as opposed to being on leg 1, or providing land based support. Once he clears the hurdle of showing they were actually on the trip, then we can consider the appropriateness of not of the trip to their research.

  282. Tom,
    Yes, good point. That’s partly why I asked, at the end of my earlier comment, if I was missing the point he was trying to make because it wasn’t entirely clear to me anyway.

  283. Mike Pollard says:

    Its been somewhat entertaining reading through this but in the end I have to admit that I do not understand why people are taking the time to address the inane comments from Richard Tol. He clearly has no knowledge of the outcomes or value (especially the value) of research planned and conducted on the ill-fated trip. You would think that an economist, apparently a professor of the economics of climate change, would have data to back up his statements but he has presented nothing. Gigantic fail in my opinion.

  284. Tom Curtis says:

    Mike Pollard, I agree that it has been a tremendous waste of time. What should have happened is that when Tol made his original accusation that researchers on board had no reason, given the nature of their research, to be on board he should have been asked to:
    1) Name the researchers in question;
    2) Establish that they were on board;
    3) Establish the nature of their research; and
    4) Establish that that research could not be advanced by observations made, or planned to be made by the expedition.

    Absent his response doing the above, he should have been recused from all further discussion on this thread.

    In like manner, when he started slinging accusations of [Mod: Snipped. Potentially libellous], he should have been required to present evidence that:
    1) The Turney’s did not pay for Annette Turney’s participation;
    2) Her participation was not funded by an organization independent of Chris Turney; and
    3) The decision to fund her participation from general expedition funds was not made at arms length from Chris Turney.
    Failure in this should likewise recuse him from the discussion.

    Just because this blog discusses climate change is no basis to allow unsupported mudslinging, and the attempt to sling mud without support should be grounds to prevent further participation on this thread were it is made on the basis of keeping the discussion civil. The same applies in the other direction.

    Absent such a rule, participants are more or less forced to point out the complete absence of evidence accompanying the mudslinging, or else the absence of rebutal will then be transformed by the denier PR machine into evidence that the accusation was well grounded.

  285. Tom,

    Absent such a rule, participants are more or less forced to point out the complete absence of evidence accompanying the mudslinging, or else the absence of rebutal will then be transformed by the denier PR machine into evidence that the accusation was well grounded.

    In retrospect, Tol certainly violated my “provide evidence” moderation rule. I think I partly live in hope that he – and others sometimes – will actually provide a reasoned response and that then leads to these threads quickly getting out of hand.

    Without wanting to denegrate all the hard work that Rachel does, it’s clear that this whole moderation thing is much harder than I had ever imagined (In truth I hadn’t really imagined it at all – not expecting to regularly get ~100 comments per post). All I can really say is “live and learn” and “don’t imagine – for a second – that this won’t happen again” (despite my best intention) :-)

  286. jsam says:

    Moderation is a thankless task. You’ll always be criticised – so you may as well be harsh. If a comment doesn’t move the conversation forward you might as well kill it. You need to be cruel to be kind. :-)

    http://arstechnica.com/science/2014/01/on-moderation-in-climate-discussions/

  287. Bernard J. says:

    So please enlighten me: How does this trip help Naysa, Alice, Willem, Eleanor, David?

    Instead of asking third parties why don’t you ask the students themselves? They can be easily contacted via their institutions – at least, for anyone in academia such contact should be trivial. Be sure to share their answers so that we can judge the value of your antipathy to their trip.

    I’m staggered though that you don’t understand the value of relevant fieldwork to postgrads, whether or not some or all of their currently-employed techniques are field-based. Your arguments against their travel to the Antarctic are akin to suggesting that a surgeon could train only on virtual bodies and save everyone the cost and risk of learning on cadavers or – heaven forfend! – real live bodies.

    A voyage to the Antarctic is gold for young scientists working in polar science, both in terms of experience and in real data collected. And the experience need not pertain to the work that they are currently doing: a PhD is a professional training degree and therefore students are often trained in techniques and contexts that they might employ to a greater extent in the future even if they are not fully utilising them in their current degree work. Having experienced the Antarctic as PhD students these people will be much better prepared to work as post-doc and professional polar scientists, and over their careers they will work on many more (and different) projects than those on which there thesis work is based.

    Even if not a single peer-reviewed paper came from this trip it would be worth the training alone, and I can only repeat again that your ignorance of the value of hands-on field experience is telling – and damning.

    Perhaps this is why you are an economist and not a polar scientist.

    [ATTP, I know that I tend toward being more acerbic than some (many!) but Tol as an academic should know better than to make the dissemblances and the insinuations that he does, especially in disciplines beyond his ken. Whilst it's his prerogative to to engage in behaviour that casts a less-than-flattering reflection on himself, I don't think that we need to pussy-foot around calling it for what it is. I recognise though that tact isn't always my strong suit and if I transgress the boundaries of your forum I do humbly apologise.]

  288. @Bernard
    My questions did reach them.

    @Tom
    Imposing conditions on questions? That way totalitarianism lies.

  289. Richard,

    Imposing conditions on questions? That way totalitarianism lies.

    I would really ask that you be very careful what you imply. I’m well aware that you have in the past implied (or even stated) that what someone had said was tending towards totalitarianism. I’m really not having that here. I’ll ban you, Professor of Economics who works on climate change or not. Tom was very clearly suggesting that people provide evidence for their claims. He was not suggesting imposing conditions on questions. A very good idea in my opinion and one that I intend to try and enforce more rigorously in future.

  290. In their own words
    https://plus.google.com/114871946243827435757/posts/2BYcRFwBjar

    They use video recordings; no need to be on the boat for that. These recordings are fairly useless unless they go back for more.

  291. Richard,

    They use video recordings; no need to be on the boat for that. These recordings are fairly useless unless they go back for more.

    What? Surely someone has to deploy the cameras. Are you suggesting that someone else could have done this? Do me a favour this time and actually answer this question.

  292. Rachel says:

    Richard,
    If you are trying to make the case that the trip was not sciencey enough, I do not see how that link helps you. It seems to conflict with your opinion here.

    I also ask that if you’re going to continue to push the point that not much research was done, you will need to provide evidence – which I can’t see how you possibly can provide evidence until papers are published or not – or at least acknowledge that this is just your opinion and that you have no evidence. A blog post which discusses some of their research does not constitute evidence of none.

  293. Marco says:

    I would like to applaud the idea that “modelers” get to see the actual real world and how the data they use gets collected. It gives valuable insights into the data from first-hand experience, rather than the second-hand (at best) of listening to a presentation or reading a paper.

    One rule I have for my own PhD students is that they try to at least to go and *see* how collaborators collect some of the data my PhD students ultimately use in their papers (we often have multiple collaborators on our papers because we need many different methods). In my opinion, those “modelers” (but also the others Tol mentions) will have gained valuable insights, even if none of their experiences will ever make it into their papers.

  294. @wotts
    I’m out of date on marine biology. 15 years ago, cameras like these needed a specialist operators (and PhD students were not allowed near). I guess they are more standardized now, more autonomous, and can be operated by a technician.

    @marco
    So it was a training mission? It is advertised as science and communication.

  295. Richard,

    I’m out of date on marine biology. 15 years ago, cameras like these needed a specialist operators (and PhD students were not allowed near). I guess they are more standardized now, more autonomous, and can be operated by a technician.

    Really, that’s what you think? Just send a technician? Don’t bother sending the actual scientists? I don’t really have time today to moderate a discussion and this one’s going from the sublime to the ridiculous. I certainly don’t have the expertise to assess whether or not the science they planned to do was worth doing and worth the risk. You very obviously don’t have the expertise to do so (despite your attempts to do exactly that). I plan to drop this topic and would suggest everyone else does too.

  296. Come on folks. Everything that needs to be said, has already been said, and even this comment has already been said several times. This needs to be closed down by posters having the self-discipline of not repeating themselves so they can have the last word, and the mods enforcing that by actually deleting comments that don’t add anything new.

  297. Pingback: Another Week of Climate Disruption News, January 5, 2014 – A Few Things Ill Considered

  298. Pingback: The Trapped Polar Expedition: Spectacle or Serious Science? | Cool Green Science

  299. Although I’d closed the comments on this post, I was sent a link to the following interview between Louise Maher and Tony Fleming, director of the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD), that I thought I’d add here. Supposedly Chris Turney has said that the AAD approved their science programme, while Tony Fleming claims that all that the AAD did was consider the enironmental impact of the expedition. Tony Fleming says he has written to Chris Turney asking him to make this clear in future. You can listen for yourself.

    https://soundcloud.com/666abccanberra/australian-antarctic-division?utm_source=soundcloud&utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=twitter

  300. Tom Curtis says:

    Anders, it is possible that the AAD had approved individual research projects represented on the expedition rather than the expedition itself. Specifically, an AAD approved project may have involved ongoing research. If the scientist involved thought that an additional site visit would be helpful, and took advantage of the AAE to make that visit, then Turney’s claims would still be correct, without Fleming necessarily being aware of it.

    Having said that, that is a mere possibility, and the onus is certainly now on Turney to show that such cases exist if he wishes to continue making the claim; or else to explain why he was making the mistaken claim in the first case.

  301. Tom, yes that is a a possibility. I got the impression from the interview that Tony Fleming felt that Chris Turney had misrepresented the AAD’s role, but given that the expedition members are not yet home I guess one should for some kind of clarification.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s