I wrote a post a little while ago about Harvey et als paper on [i]nternet Blogs, Polar Bears, and Climate-Change Denial by Proxy. Their basic conclusion was that if you divide blogs into those that accept anthropogenic global warming (AGW) and those that don’t, those that don’t tend to dispute the disappearance of Arctic sea ice and also dispute that polar bears are under threat. In particular, the source for the latter tends to be someone who appears to have little actual expertise and who has undertaken very little – if any – relevant peer-reviewed research.
If you want to read more about the paper, Bart has a couple of posts. I’m not all that interested in the details. It’s pretty clear that Arctic sea ice is declining and will continue to do so. It seems pretty clear that sea ice plays a key role in how polar bears hunt and that its disappearance will adversely impact them. It also seems clear that blogs that predominantly dismiss the risks associated with AGW tend to use contrarian sources who often appear to have little in the way of actual expertise. The results of Harvey et al. do not seem particularly surprising.
What’s maybe also not particularly surprising is that Richard Tol has published a response to Harvey et al. Any who have followed the climate debate will probably guess that this response does not dispute the result in Harvey et al., but disputes the method/analysis. It appears that Richard may be making a habit of writing responses to papers, the results of which he appears not to dispute. I might take Richard’s desire for methodological purity more seriously if his own work didn’t have a bit of a gremlin filled history.
However, for those who follow the online climate debate, the most interesting thing about Richard’s response might be the identity of his co-author. I think I’ve worked it out. I’ll leave it as an exercise for others.