2020: A year in review

It’s been quite a year. The blog certainly hasn’t been as active as it has been in previous years. This is partly because it is simply getting more and more difficult to motivate myself to write posts, but is also because this has been such a bizarre year, I haven’t really known what to say, or how to express things in a way that seemed suitable.

As usual, I’ll summarise the blog activity below.

January saw the culmination of the rather frustating RCP8.5 debate. I think I mostly managed to stay out of it for the rest of 2020, which was a wise decision.

My most active post in February, was about feedbacks, runaway, and tipping points. There does, though, still seem to be some confusion about the distinction between the various processes.

The Zharkova et al. paper was retracted in March. I’m not a huge fan of calling for papers to be retracted, but this one was pretty egregious.

In April I clarified something about outgoing longwave radiation that had confused me for some time, but also wrote a post about staying in your own lane (you shouldn’t, but don’t take short cuts).

May was a quiet month, but I did write a post about the Imperial College Code that was used to generate the report in mid-March that probably played in big role in the government deciding that the UK should go into lockdown.

In June I highlighted Steve Keen’s neoclassical economics of climate change paper and also wrote about [e]xtreme event attribution and the nature-culture duality.

July saw posts about Angela Saini’s book Superior and quite an active post about cancel culture. It was also the first time I discussed Deep Adaptation, which seems to have become quite prominent, unfortunately and I also discussed Michael Shellenberger’s new book Apocalypse Never.

August was extremely quiet, but I did write a post about tropical cyclones and climate change (mostly rebutting a simplistic Michael Shellenberger narrative) and a reasonable positive post about Matt Ridley’s new book, Innovation.

The main post for September was one about understanding methane. There does seem to still be some confusion about how we should be comparing long-lived and short-lived greenhouse gases, which I do think is an important issue.

In October I discussed the concept of honest brokering (which should, in my view, mostly be ignored) but also highlighted our paper looking at the long-term CovidSim predictions from report 9. The media coverage of this was not, in my view, ideal. This still frustrates me, given that my experiences in the climate context should have allowed me to recognise that this was a possibility.

November saw me reflecting on lecturing during a pandemic, pointing out that climate change doesn’t work like that, and discussing namecalling in science. There was also a post by Willard about Berna’s boat.

December included a discussion of the impact of climate change and the cost of climate policies (mostly rebutting rather strong claims in Bjorn Lomborg’s recent paper), a post asking where have all the STS’ers gone? and a presentation of Willard’s ClimateBall Bingo.

So, that’s a quick summary of what has happened on the blog in 2020. I hope everyone has a good New Year. Keep safe and I hope much 2021 is better than 2020.


BATTER my heart, three person’d God – Stoat’s review of 2020.

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8 Responses to 2020: A year in review

  1. Chubbs says:

    Certainly was a strange year. Good one for the blog relative to competition. Here are a couple of my observations:

    *) It was interesting to see the reaction to Covid among individuals/groups and to compare to the reaction to climate change.

    *) Another warm year with the recent global spike about as anomalous as the hiatus, yet there is far less discussion.

    *) A very bad year for fossil fuels, with big drops in both end-user demand and stock market value. Conversely new energy technologies powered ahead. I didn’t pay as much attention to wind; but both batteries and solar received massive investment in new production. I am afraid the writing is on the wall for fossil fuels, certainly BP took notice.

  2. Happy New Year everyone.

    I haven’t really known what to say, or how to express things in a way that seemed suitable.

    Oh. Would love to read those drafts. 😉

  3. Oh. Would love to read those drafts.

    They’re mostly in my head 🙂

  4. verytallguy says:

    Well 2020 proved me wrong in having thought that the long timescale of climate change is a key reason driving “sceptics”. The exact same people are convinced they’re right over experts even when the timescale is a 3.5 day doubling time of a pandemic.

    On a happier note, climate “sceptics” aren’t getting anything like the air time they once did.

    Happy new year all, and stay the fuck home!

  5. Willard says:

  6. Mal Adapted says:

    My compliments to the blog’s owner, moderator and engaged commenters. I wish you all a meliorative new year.

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