AGU backs away from "climate rapid response team" citing faulty reporting

The inaccurate LA Times story AGU cites was excerpted (via a Chicago Tribune reprint) and linked here yesterday at WUWT. AGU issued this press release today, which is repeated in entirety below. – Anthony

Inaccurate news reports misrepresent a climate-science initiative of the American Geophysical Union

AGU Release No. 10–37

http://www.agu.org/news/press/pr_archives/2010/2010-37.shtml

8 November 2010

For Immediate Release

WASHINGTON—An article appearing in the Los Angeles Times, and then picked up by media outlets far and wide, misrepresents the American Geophysical Union (AGU) and a climate science project the AGU is about to relaunch. The project, called Climate Q&A Service, aims simply to provide accurate scientific answers to questions from journalists about climate science.

“In contrast to what has been reported in the LA Times and elsewhere, there is no campaign by AGU against climate skeptics or congressional conservatives,” says Christine McEntee, Executive Director and CEO of the American Geophysical Union. “AGU will continue to provide accurate scientific information on Earth and space topics to inform the general public and to support sound public policy development.”

AGU is the world’s largest, not-for-profit, professional society of Earth and space scientists, with more than 58,000 members in over 135 countries.

“AGU is a scientific society, not an advocacy organization,” says climate scientist and AGU President Michael J. McPhaden. “The organization is committed to promoting scientific discovery and to disseminating to the scientific community, policy makers, the media, and the public, peer-reviewed scientific findings across a broad range of Earth and space sciences.”

AGU initiated a climate science Q&A service for the first time in 2009 to provide accurate scientific information for journalists covering the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. AGU has been working over the past year on how to provide this service once again in association with the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference in Cancun, Mexico.

AGU’s Climate Q&A service addresses scientific questions only. It does not involve any commentary on policy. Journalists are able to submit questions via email, and AGU member-volunteers with Ph.D.s in climate science-related fields provide answers via email.

The relaunch of the Climate Q&A service is pending. When AGU is ready to announce the service, we will notify journalists on our distribution list via a media advisory that the service is once again available for their use.

For additional information about the Q&A service please see a 2 March 2010 article [pdf] about the 2009 Q&A service that was published in AGU’s weekly newspaper Eos, and a blog post about the service on AGU’s science communication blog The Plainspoken Scientist.

The American Geophysical Union was established in 1919, and is headquartered in Washington, D.C. AGU advances the Earth and space sciences through its scholarly publications, meetings and conferences, and outreach programs. For more information, please visit the AGU web site.

============================================================

I just checked the source story on the LA Times website here

The story remains, but with this clarification now added mid story:


CLARIFICATION:

The effort by John Abraham is separate from the Geophysical Union’s.

 


 

There is no mention of the AGU press release.

The Chicago Tribune story here remains unchanged.

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B. Smith

So, everything that was said and quoted in the original article was made up in the minds of the reporters?

Jim Butler

“The project, called Climate Q&A Service, aims simply to provide accurate scientific answers to questions from journalists about climate science.”
Same wolf, different wool.
“…accurate scientific answers IN OUR OPINION…”why do they always leave that part out?
JimB

temp

Sounds like you, Steve McIntyre and other should get together and make a list of 50 or so questions that global warming cultists hate to answer or always spin, submit it and see how much they “not an advocacy organization” respond. Best if you can find some small town newspaper report to submit the questions so they can’t be tracked back to the “evil deniers”. Fastest way to deal with advocacy groups claiming not to be an advocacy group is to call there bluff.

Golf Charley

So the Hockey Team have realised that Real Climate is not up to the job, and need extra help.
Now, if I was a journalist, which of course I am not, I would be tempted to post questions on AGW, to this crack team of Phd Climate Scientists, and then supply the question, and politically correct answer to a website dealing with such issues in a sceptical manner.
Anyone up for it?

Caught with their pants down…

pat

*****someone needs to inform michael mann and MSNBC:
8 Nov: MSNBC Cosmiclog: Alan Boyle: Life after Climategate
If anyone thinks that climate scientist Michael Mann has been cowed by last year’s controversy over stolen e-mails, known as Climategate … or by last week’s election, which could lead to congressional hearings that target Mann and his colleagues … well, think again.
“They can threaten whatever they want,” the Penn State professor told me on Sunday, after his talk at the New Horizons in Science meeting at Yale University. “I’m quite confident to fight those sorts of witch-hunt attempts.”…
Although Mann didn’t exactly say “Bring it on,” he did note that “those on the other side of the aisle will see this as an opportunity.” He doesn’t think scientists will be pushed on the defensive by their congressional critics.
“We should look at this as an opportunity for offense,” he said…
“The ice sheets are not Republican or Democrat,” Mann said. “They don’t have a political agenda as they disappear.”…
*****Mann praised the American Geophysical Union for setting up a “rapid response task force” to parry efforts aimed at discrediting climate scientists. He said journalists also should exercise their traditional role as a “critical and independent arbiter” of the policy debate, particularly in the midst of “politically motivated inquiries that we haven’t seen in this country since the 1950s.”
It might sound as if Mann relishes the fight, but he acknowledged that life after Climategate has not been easy for him. His routine now includes dealing with veiled death threats as well as investigations such as the one in Virginia…
Mann is doing less research, and more speaking and writing. (For example, he’s one of the scientists behind the RealClimate blog.)
“I spend quite a bit of time these days on what I might generously describe as outreach,” he told me. “I think not every scientist should be doing this — but more scientists should.”
http://cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2010/11/08/5426675-life-after-climategate

Jeff

they realized that “congressional conservatives” just won control of the purse strings and decided to walk that nonsense back …
notice that they didn’t specifically deny making those statements … just a claim of “misreporting” as in “since it looks like we are playing avdocate and bashing our new overlords we decided to moderate our position” …

jorgekafkazar

Another media debacle. Oh, wait. It says LA Times. That’s not media; it’s a propaganda print shop. Another debacle.

Doubting Thomas

Why does the AGU need to provide anything, are they acting as an arbiter as to which information/research is accurate?” One wonders if the reporters got their information from insiders as to the true nature of the endeavor which wasn’t for public release.
If anything ever begged to be called a conspiracy – this is too stupid for words.

Peter S

“An article appearing in the Los Angeles Times, and then picked up by media outlets far and wide, misrepresents the American Geophysical Union (AGU) and a climate science project the AGU is about to relaunch.”
“The project, called Climate Q&A Service, aims simply to provide accurate scientific answers to questions from journalists about climate science.”
Oh the irony!
One has to wonder how on earth they expect to be able to provide accurate scientific answers to the press if they can’t even communicate an accurate description of their intention to do that to the press!

4

I am glad to here AGU president say that the reports were wrong. I was alarmed that AGU was moving into advocacy. Any scientific organization that does so will lose my respect.

DirkH

Climate Q&A Service sounds a lot like the Leckbot. Will they copy&paste their stuff from Twitter?

DirkH

pat says:
November 8, 2010 at 3:38 pm
“*****someone needs to inform michael mann and MSNBC:
[…]
“I spend quite a bit of time these days on what I might generously describe as outreach,” he told me. “I think not every scientist should be doing this — but more scientists should.””
Yeah, i enjoyed his drumming skills.

Alex

@temp Good point.

Carl Chapman

At a wild guess:
Someone from AGU boasted to journalists about their plans for a climate rapid response team.
Someone higher up in AGU realised that if the AGU team was obviously pushing the CAGW line then they wouldn’t be effective, hence this latest release.
I suppose that if the chairman of a wind power company, whose wealth and status depends on CAGW, can lead an “independent” inquiry into the CRU, then a climate rapid response team can give independent unbiased information on global warming.

Jimbo

So no 700 volunteers then? How about the 39? It must have been the big pushback they received from commenters on the web. The Guardian is full of negative feedback. :o)

Jimmy Haigh

Well that didn’t last long. I thought it was too good to be true.
Closing in on 60 million hits now Anthony!

bubbagyro

Let’s hold their feet to the fire. They proclaim they “accurately” report facts. Let’s keep their inaccuracies (or downright lies) right in front of them and the media. We won’t have to dig very far—on the contrary, it will be like “Where’s Waldo?” to find the true statements hidden in the lies.

Jimbo

The “…pending” “AGU’s Climate Q&A service addresses scientific questions only”.
Will it convey the uncertainties in climate science to the journalists? I doubt it.

But if AGU only deals with science and not policy, why is it that all of their science are on AGW only? If anyone from AGU who does not believe in AGW but volunteers to help answer the questions by journalists, would he be dispatched by the AGU leadership? Likely not. Which shows that AGU has become an advocacy organization, not a scientific one that its leaders describe it in the above press release.

John Day

The AGU claims that they are “a scientific society, not an advocacy organization,”
If that is so, then how can they possibly explain this slogan, prominently emblazoned on their masthead (emphasis mine):
“AGU _galvanizes_ a community of Earth and space scientists that collaboratively advances and communicates science and its power _to ensure a sustainable future_.”
How can a group ‘galvanize’ a ‘community’ without being an advocacy group?
How exactly are scientists supposed to ‘ensure a sustainable future’? A future without any of that toxic CO2 flatulence of course!
So they are lying to hide their true purpose: they’re “community organizers” by their own admission! (Obama would be proud of them).

Keith Olbermann was suspended from MSNBC for his contributions to political candidates because he is supposed to be an objective journalist (dripping sarcasm).
Climate scientists that form organizations to lobby Congress and actively advocate against the GOP/Tea Party should also categorically state if they donate heavily to political candidates. A simple perusal of opensecrets.org shows that many climate scientists/advocates/lobbyists donated heavily to the Obama campaign along with other Democrat candidates. Pennsylvania resident Michael Mann donated many times to the ’08 Obama campaign and also, for some strange reason, donated 200$ to the Martha Coakley campaign in Massachusetts, where Scott Brown was running to be the “41st Senator”. Thus, killing off cap-and-tradetax would be against the interests of a very sympathetically minded climate scientist. Darrell Issa will likely have this information. Other climate scientists are easily searchable, but I do not want to point out who wasted money on Howard Dean’s campaign.
Climate scientists should form a Union to lobby Congress on their behalf to keep the climate cash rolling in. I guess the American Geophysical Union could be that outfit…

Jimbo

temp says:
November 8, 2010 at 3:34 pm

I second that.

I am so looking forward to “accurate information”. Keep us posted. 🙂
Cheers

Ryan Maue says:
“Keith Olbermann was suspended from MSNBC…”
It was all for show. Olbermann’s suspension has already been rescinded.
Ryan: yes, hence the sarcasm. I suspect it was a trial balloon by Comcast/NBC to see how the nutroots would react.

Robinson

I am glad to here AGU president say that the reports were wrong. I was alarmed that AGU was moving into advocacy.

It’s still advocacy, just by another name. Of course it’s all dependent on who is behind the scenes answering the questions.

Steve Fitzpatrick

At least cooler heads are prevailing; that is a start.

David M Brooks

From the AGU “Position Statement”:

During recent millennia of relatively stable climate, civilization became established and populations have grown rapidly. In the next 50 years, even the lower limit of impending climate change—an additional global mean warming of 1°C above the last decade—is far beyond the range of climate variability experienced during the past thousand years and poses global problems in planning for and adapting to it. Warming greater than 2°C above 19th century levels is projected to be disruptive, reducing global agricultural productivity, causing widespread loss of biodiversity, and—if sustained over centuries—melting much of the Greenland ice sheet with ensuing rise in sea level of several meters. If this 2°C warming is to be avoided, then our net annual emissions of CO2 must be reduced by more than 50 percent within this century.

I’m sure the information the rapid response team provides journalists will be very objective.

Garry

Looks like Popular Science hasn’t yet gotten the correction (“truth squads”, “rapid-response team”):
http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2010-11/climate-scientists-join-truth-squads-seeking-dispel-climate-misinformation
Climate Scientists Organize to Dispel Climate Misinformation
By Rebecca Boyle Posted 11.08.2010 at 4:28 pm 5 Comments
Bracing for an onslaught from emboldened congressional conservatives — and ramped-up media coverage of their offensive — climate scientists are joining truth squads that seek to dispel climate-change skeptics.
One program is a relaunch of a previous climate information service; another involves a rapid-response team of scientists prepared to appear before unfriendly audiences, such as conservative talk shows. The latter represents a departure for many scientists, who have traditionally avoided the political realm even as they have faced increasing pressure — including investigations into their personal correspondence.

kadaka (KD Knoebel)

So the AGU is still forming a Climate Truth Dispensing Squad of 700 climate scientists, who will “at their discretion” provide The Absolute Scientific Truth to (acceptable?) journalists needing info to counter skeptics.
Meanwhile John Abraham is forming a Climate Truth Strike Force, willing to delve into politics which since the “AGU is the world’s largest, not-for-profit, professional society of Earth and space scientists” the AGU itself is likely forbidden to do according to the tax code, which will draw off of the membership of the AGU, and will fight hard to provide The Absolute Scientific Truth to refute the skeptics.
The AGU has officially distanced itself from John Abraham’s effort.
Okay… Nope, nothing hokey going on here, everything is up front and fully legal, just ask the IRS…
😉

Dr T G Watkins

So no public debate with the ‘Green Dragon Slayers’ then.
But we can look forward to censored e-mail questions with standard team responses.
Yippee!
Still, Abrahams seems up for the challenge or will he do a Cameron and disinvite himself.

ianl8888

Sorry, I think the point is being missed
It’s not that answers to questions from journalists may be biased or not, it’s this:
a) who selects which questions to answer ? Certainly, not all questions will be entertained
b) will answers that refer to uncertainty and differences of interpretation actually be published without expurgation, along with the actual question ?
In short, no matter how earnest the AGU may be, the MSM will censor the results anyway before publishing … and then will the AGU scientists responsible for the answers object in public ?
Ho hum

George E. Smith

“”””” Ryan Maue says:
November 8, 2010 at 4:18 pm
Keith Olbermann was suspended from MSNBC for his contributions to political candidates because he is supposed to be an objective journalist (dripping sarcasm). “””””
Yes, in fact he was suspended for a whole weekend; today however he was fully re-instated.
Actually, Olberman has the same absolute right that we all have; to say whatever he wants about political issues; and to give funds to any political figure(s) within the legal limits; WHEN HE IS SPEAKING AS A COMMENTATOR.
But it was his behavior while MSNBC was using him purportedly as a NEWS achor, that raised eyebrows.
But if you get your NEWS from MSNBC, then you thoroughly deserve whatever they dish out.
Ryan: exactly

ImranCan

It is good to see that organisations like the AGU are now realising the liability they incur if they make alliances with politically radical eco-activist groups. Or even align themselves with politicised thinking. It happened to global corporations like Sony with the 10:10 video fiasco and now we see the same kind of back-pedaling going on here. It is a very healthy sign and reflects the changing social and political situation around AGW. It won’t be that long before anyone with anything to lose doesn’t want to be asscoiated with “AGW” at all.

John M

pat says:
November 8, 2010 at 3:38 pm

Mann praised the American Geophysical Union for setting up a “rapid response task force” to parry efforts aimed at discrediting climate scientists.

Looks like the stickhandler jumped to conclusions. I wonder if that’s happened before.

Craig

So, they are not actually going to climb down from their academic ivory towers and engage on the front line? How utterly….predictable.

Glenn

“AGU is a scientific society, not an advocacy organization,” says climate scientist and AGU President Michael J. McPhaden. ”
Yea, right.
“This AGU Letter to the Editor applauds the denial of a demand by the Virginia Attorney General for private e-mails and other documents related to the research of climate scientist and former University of Virginia professor Michael Mann.”
http://www.agu.org/

“politically motivated inquiries that we haven’t seen in this country since the 1950s.”
Right, Mann, it’s just like McCarthyism. You’re a victim here.
I almost wrote “Dr. Mann” but couldn’t as I chuckled recalling this exchange in Ghostbusters between Peck and Venkman: “And what exactly are you a doctor of, Mr.Venkman? Well I have PHD’s in both Pyschology and Parapyschology”

Steve in SC

Methinks that they pulled in their horns because they only had 39 step up to the plate instead of the alleged 700 club.

Jeremy

I can’t tell if I should feel more or less Orwellian about society with AGU’s back-off announcement.
Lest we forget, we’re talking about a scientific society.

EJ

I think the real burning question is model uncertainties. 4 C +/- 110 degrees….

Steve McIntyre and other should get together and make a list of 50 or so questions that global warming cultists hate to answer or always spin, submit it and see how much they “not an advocacy organization” respond. Best if you can find some small town newspaper report to submit the questions so they can’t be tracked back to the “evil deniers”.
As a reporter, I’ll be happy to supply some questions, even though I’m also an evil denier.
One I’d like to ask is what is the difference between the localized warming caused by black carbon (such as in the Himalayas) and global warming caused by greenhouse gases. Reporters at the LA Times, and other places, often conflate the two. I wrote a blog post discussing this issue and the one named in this post: http://www.nctimes.com/app/blogs/wp/?p=11377

Glenn

“For a safe and sustainable future nations must “act now, act together, and act differently” (Bierbaum & Zoellick, 2009; SCIENCE 326: 771). This session addresses all aspects of building adaptation strategies and capacities.”
http://www.agu.org/meetings/fm10/program/scientific_session_search.php?show=detail&sessid=736
These AGU leaders are weasels, and what remains of their membership that still have some marbles left should be aware of that.

Douglas DC

Somehow ,I thought it would come to this..

OldOne

The AGU board of directors state at their 20-21 September 2010 meeting:
“AGU is ready to move forward and implement the Strategic Plan: … Expanding our influence and relevance to society”
Is that not advocacy ???
Source: http://www.agu.org/about/pdf/AGU_BOD-Key-Outcomes-and-Msgs_2010-08.pdf

Kforestcat

Gentlemen
During my 20+ years in in research and development, I never encountered scientist that was concerned about public opinion polls…until I read the climate gate e-mails.
I draw you attention to the AGU’s November 10, 2009, e-mail where AGU Atmospheric Sciences Section President, Alan Robock wrote:
“As you know, the Copenhagen negotiations (Dec. 7-18) are attracting hundreds of journalists and will result in a proliferation of media articles about climate change. Recently, the American public’s “belief” in climate change has waned (36% think humans are warming the earth according to the Pew Center’s October poll), and December’s media blitz provides an opportunity to reverse the trend.
Am I to now “understand” that “science” heavily depends upon the “force” of public opinion? And, further, that the AGU is one of the few exclusive “distributors” of this new “force”?
Apparently I have been deluded into believing that physics depends upon the fundamental physical forces.
I was also under the impression that “science” depends upon theory verifiable by measurement of those physical forces.
Perhaps I should have abandoned my study of thermo-dynamics, mass transfer, heat transfer, radiant transfer, reaction kinetics, and quantum mechanics for a degree in political “science”.
It appears I was wrong to pursue a degree in the physical sciences. For in the AGU’s version of “science” I should depend solely upon thier “expert’s” model results – without the tedious need to check the “expert’s” assumptions or verify their modeled results — by measurement.
Regards,
Kforestcat
For verification please see the following e-mail. The particular quote is three quarters the way down.
“From: AGU Atmospheric Sciences Section
To:
Subject: Letter to Atmospheric Sciences members
Date: Tue, 10 Nov 2009 14:23:32 -0500
Reply-to: AGU Atmospheric Sciences Section “

mike sphar

Hey the AGU HQ is based in Washington DC,
QED.

Zeke

“AGU is a scientific society, not an advocacy organization”
I guess they don’t read their own publication, Eos. It’s climate change from back to cover, and half of it is advertisements for people to run climate models.
I am sure they will have some helpful literature onhand for all the teachers, so I wouldn’t be too disappointed that the handbook for high schools will be cancelled.

John from CA

Maybe its just me but I seriously question the value of hooking up the Media with an organization that is this lopsided in their views.
AGU Position Statement
http://www.agu.org/sci_pol/positions/climate_change2008.shtml
The Earth’s climate is now clearly out of balance and is warming. Many components of the climate system—including the temperatures of the atmosphere, land and ocean, the extent of sea ice and mountain glaciers, the sea level, the distribution of precipitation, and the length of seasons—are now changing at rates and in patterns that are not natural and are best explained by the increased atmospheric abundances of greenhouse gases and aerosols generated by human activity during the 20th century. Global average surface temperatures increased on average by about 0.6°C over the period 1956–2006. As of 2006, eleven of the previous twelve years were warmer than any others since 1850. The observed rapid retreat of Arctic sea ice is expected to continue and lead to the disappearance of summertime ice within this century. Evidence from most oceans and all continents except Antarctica shows warming attributable to human activities. Recent changes in many physical and biological systems are linked with this regional climate change. A sustained research effort, involving many AGU members and summarized in the 2007 assessments of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, continues to improve our scientific understanding of the climate.”
“During recent millennia of relatively stable climate, civilization became established and populations have grown rapidly. In the next 50 years, even the lower limit of impending climate change—an additional global mean warming of 1°C above the last decade—is far beyond the range of climate variability experienced during the past thousand years and poses global problems in planning for and adapting to it. Warming greater than 2°C above 19th century levels is projected to be disruptive, reducing global agricultural productivity, causing widespread loss of biodiversity, and—if sustained over centuries—melting much of the Greenland ice sheet with ensuing rise in sea level of several meters. If this 2°C warming is to be avoided, then our net annual emissions of CO2 must be reduced by more than 50 percent within this century. With such projections, there are many sources of scientific uncertainty, but none are known that could make the impact of climate change inconsequential. Given the uncertainty in climate projections, there can be surprises that may cause more dramatic disruptions than anticipated from the most probable model projections.”
“With climate change, as with ozone depletion, the human footprint on Earth is apparent. The cause of disruptive climate change, unlike ozone depletion, is tied to energy use and runs through modern society. Solutions will necessarily involve all aspects of society. Mitigation strategies and adaptation responses will call for collaborations across science, technology, industry, and government. Members of the AGU, as part of the scientific community, collectively have special responsibilities: to pursue research needed to understand it; to educate the public on the causes, risks, and hazards; and to communicate clearly and objectively with those who can implement policies to shape future climate.”

EJ

Agreed.
You so called “climate scientists” have to address the uncertainties and put your name on the calcs.
Would you actually advise a client to spend millions based on predictions of the current slate of climate models when they ignore the sun, the clouds and ignore the combined uncertainties of the sun and the clouds?
Would these professionals stake their reputations on the output of these models? That is what I want to know.
As such, any public statement endorsing these climate models should require the signatures and professional seals of those who are proclaiming the science to be solid and justifies their advocacy. Don’t hide behind anonymous pols about the consensus.
Thus, a decade or two down the road, we can ask if these scientists were correct.
It is time to hold science accountable. It is time for scientists to demand accountability. It is time turn for engineers, those who try to make ideas work.
We let ‘scientists’ tell us about our future. When the future turns out completely opposite of what that scientist said, shouldn’t that scientist be forever discredited?
Or should he be appointed our country’s science czar?
[Only registered engineers have seals, and only registered (professional) engineers have legal responsibilities to be right in their calculations. Scientists have nothing. No legal responsibilities nor legal liabilities if/when they are wrong. Only the so-called “peer-reviews” of anonymous reviewers in a limited number of journals, all controlled by the CAGW elite. Robt]