State of the Blog

I know everyone has been waiting on pins and needles about the future of this blog. The suspense has been killing me, too. Well, I have good news and bad news.

Let’s start with the latter. Your combined generosity has enabled me to buy some new socks, take my kids to a matinee movie and fill up the family car’s gas tank. The upshot: unless some amazing ad revenue model materializes, or George Soros and the Koch brothers team up to throw money at me, this is a dead blog walking.

Oh, quit your bawling. We’ve had a good run. You’ll be fine. Maybe some old friends will even start talking to me again.

The good news is I won’t totally go away. In fact, I still write a once a week thingamajob at the Yale Forum on Climate Change & the Media, which appears every Tuesday or wed. You can check Colide-a-Scape on those days for the blurb and link. Also, it’s not like I’m going to stop reading, reporting and writing about the subjects that have been a mainstay of this blog. So when my work appears elsewhere, I’ll flog it here.

Lastly, while I explore a few life support options for this blog, I’m going to post a round-up once or twice a week of links that catch my eye. That starts today, just below.

*******

Climate Change

Global warming “has joined abortion and gay marriage as a culture war controversy,” writes conservative WaPo columnist Michael Gerson, as if this were a fresh insight. There’s enough fodder in his piece to piss off all sides and reinforce the theme of Gerson’s column.

On a similar note,  Judith Curry finds that “the extreme polarization of the public debate on climate change seems very difficult to change.” Hmm, ya think? Curry says she is trying to build a “community for floaters, and diminish the basis for inflexibles and liars.” What is a floater? Someone who floats away from being inflexible and deceitful or between those two types? In any case, she seems to have realized that her blog, Climate Etc., “is fighting an uphill battle.”

The National Center for Science Education announces the launch of a new initiative “aimed at defending the teaching of climate change.”  This one will be interesting to watch. The Center made a name for itself by defending the teaching of evolution. See this LA Times story for more background.

Meanwhile, in the Guardian, University of Colorado media scholar Max Boycoff says that, beyond all this culture war stuff,

the “climate problem” suffers from a more powerful and enduring force: economic stagnation.

On the wonky front, a scholar considers the pros and cons of climate change being taken up the UN security council.

Anthropologist John Hawks tweeted that he was

Trying to figure out why climate change brings the Doomsday Clock closer to midnight than the Cuban Missile Crisis.

A new study in Science offers a short-term solution that would address global warming while also improving public health and food security. The ever provocative John Tierney, in the NYT, writes:

This proposal comes from an international team of researchers “” in climate modeling, atmospheric chemistry, economics, agriculture and public health “” who started off with a question that borders on heresy in some green circles: Could something be done about global warming besides forcing everyone around the world to use less fossil fuel?

As for what is being proposed, Tierney summarizes:

researchers determined the 14 most effective measures for reducing climate change, like encouraging a switch to cleaner diesel engines and cookstoves, building more efficient kilns and coke ovens, capturing methane at landfills and oil wells, and reducing methane emissions from rice paddies by draining them more often.

Barrie Pittock at The Conservation explains why a better framework for the climate debate would be risk-based:

Policy is value-laden, while science can only tease out the possibilities and probabilities. Some have now agreed we need to avoid a global average warming of more than 2°C. But this “limit” is uncertain and value-laden. What is “dangerous” to someone living near the coast in Vanuatu may be quite different from what someone in Russia or inland Australia might consider dangerous. Many of us think a 2°C limit may not be strict enough to avoid a dangerous degree of climate change. But that is a value judegment made under uncertainty.

Only time will tell what is an acceptable risk and to whom.

At the local level in Florida, comprehensive planning for climate change is underway. Michael Lemonick at Yale Environment 360 has the details. Shocker alert: Republicans and Democrats in the Sunshine state are working together on these regional climate initiatives.

Energy

The oil & gas industry must have perceived some tipping point over fracking, since a new law (in Texas, of all places) is about go into effect, forcing drillers to “disclose many of the chemicals that they inject into the Earth,” writes Steve leVine over at Foreign Policy.

CNN’s Fareed Zakaria looks at some “striking numbers” that convince him why oil prices will remain high for the foreseeable future.

India has a worsening energy crisis, resulting from years of “policy gridlock,” according to The Times of India, which reports:

A shortage of coal and gas and uncertainty over supply have thrown the business plans of the [power] generators into disarray and made lenders reluctant to lend, delaying projects.

Archaeology

A NYT story discusses recent discoveries that potentially upend  the “conventional understanding of the world’s largest tropical rain forest.”

29 Responses to “State of the Blog”

  1. Andy says:

    It has been a good run! Hope the Koch brothers decide to adopt you!:). Seriously, thanks and good luck.

  2. Tom Fuller says:

    You’ve done well, and thanks for the forum. If you’re interested in exploring options for keeping this up, you certainly should explore advertising, and keeping the tip jar activated.

    To keep it from being such a time suck, why not split the blogging with like minded souls? (I am not volunteering…) You’ve done the hard work of establishing a credible website that attracts traffic–I’m sure there are some who would like to avoid that heavy lifting but want to take advantage of it. 

  3. Stu says:

    Best wishes in whatever comes next, Keith. I would have thrown some cash your way but I am not currently set up to do that online unfortunately. I will try to get around to it soon. 

    I have really enjoyed your blog over the past year or so, so much so that it has become my first checked climate site.

    Thanks and cheers,
     

  4. jeffn says:

    Good luck Keith. I’ve enjoyed the blog and will enjoy reading the Yale posts.
    Sorry you didn’t get the Harley Davidson.
     

  5. Jon P says:

    Saw this coming four months ago.

    Jon P Says:
    September 27th, 2011 at 1:40 pm
    #14
    That’s because he gets paid for his posts at the Yale blog, hence the recent push to increase comments here to redirect them over there.

    I stopped commenting at that point, but I pretty much had figured out Keith’s plan to stop this blog and go full time with his paid gig at Yale Forum and the 1st of the year makes sense for a new start. Keith is transparent in so many ways, especially in regards to that “journalistic non-bias” he pretends to have.

    Good luck Keith you will blaze a trail on the same path as Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann, though I do not think you will become so well-known, but who knows.

  6. EdG says:

    Keith,

    As you have established a well known site here, I hope that you’ll reconsider. But this latest post, which I assume wasn’t too hellish a job, is a fine way to keep it alive while you think about it.

    It works for Tom Nelson, whose very short posts resemble extended tweets but still play a role in the big discussion.

    And maybe tweet-like posts will attract more readers from the Tweet Generation?

    As to Fareed’s comments on the obvious (oil prices)…

    “Saudi Arabia said on Monday it wanted to keep crude oil prices at around $100 (U.S.) a barrel, the first time the kingdom has targeted a “triple-digit” price and a quarter above the previous ambition of $75 suggested by King Abdullah in November 2008.”

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/international-news/global-exchange/financial-times/saudis-target-triple-digit-oil-price-for-the-first-time/article2304075/ 

    Note the price of oil since 2008. This new target will be the lowest price level. Sky is the limit if the gang gets the war they want.

    High prices will reduce oil use – which I guess will make all the greenies rejoice. 
     

  7. Keith Kloor says:

    Tom (2)
    I’ve had guest posters before, which worked out fine. But I felt even sheepish about that, since nobody was getting paid for their posts. I’m not inclined to ask anyone to become a regular here, since I’m still responsible overall for what appears in this space, which would require time to keep up with.

    JonP (5)
    Yes, the pay for my weekly blog post at the Yale Forum should help me build up a nice nest egg for retirement. I’m not sure why you make so much of whether or not people comment over there or here. That has no bearing on what I get paid. I will miss your lovely disposition.

    EdG (6)
    As I said, I’ll continue to do these sorts of round-up posts while I’m exploring some possible revenue models. And I’ll put up a post when any of my stuff appears elsewhere.

    Thanks to all for the well wishes. 

  8. Matt B says:

    Hey Jon P……lighten up……….

    KK, you did a great job getting different tribes to at least attempt a discussion, which is more than 95% of these blogs will do. You have some great contributors here & you can take credit for that. And you have shown some amazing patience, more than I ever could………..you will be missed.

    Best of luck going forward!

  9. Jon P says:

    “I’m not sure why you make so much of whether or not people comment over there or here”

    Back in September you had a major shift in your posting style and with your titles of posts. I made an observation about as to why and you took offense and projected some type of nasty disposition onto me. It was a great business decision on your part, but rather coming out and saying that you tried to play a victim and play me as a bad guy. Well here we are, I was correct in my observation and you are finally being honest and forthcoming about the whole scenario, good for you.

    As I said in my last post, good luck.

  10. Keith Kloor says:

    Okay, Jon, whatever you say.

  11. Jonathan Gilligan says:

    This blog has been a rare place where people who disagree could argue civilly and substantively. The rarity of such places suggests that it takes a good deal of work to maintain that ambiance. Thanks for hosting it. I hope your new endeavors go well and reward you in ways that go well beyond merely paying the rent.

  12. Keith Kloor says:

    Jonathan (11)

    I’m loathe to single anyone out, for fear of offending those who have made substantive contributions to such a dialogue. But I want to say that I’ve learned much from your many thoughtful and trenchant comments. Special thanks to you for helping to make this blog the kind of place you describe.

    Should it have a second act in the future, you’ll be among the first to know. 🙂

  13. Mary says:

    Oh, man, I just got here.
    This happens at parties too. I wonder why….?
    See you on the ethers anyway.

  14. JimR says:

    Sorry to hear that Keith. I’ve enjoyed your blog posts as well as the comments. So few places in the climate blogosphere have different opinions discussed in a (mostly) civil manner. 

  15. I second what Jonathan (11) wrote: The discussions here are second to none.

    I also share keith’s ambivalence in expecting some financial reward when putting serious (and professional) effort into something. Note that many scientist-bloggers may feel the same about this as journalist-bloggers do. In terms of writing about (the public debate about) science, both bring added value to the table.

  16. grypo says:

    Yes, this is one of the better discussion blogs because it has some range.  A real talent of Keith’s is the ability to foster the discussion that ensues from his posts.  I wonder if there is a way to recreate this at Yale.  The delayed moderation hinders it completely.  

  17. BBD says:

    grypo
     
    Agreed re moderation delay at Yale. That’s why I almost never comment there. Message in a bottle… 😉
     
    Keith – I echo Mary’s sentiments above. I’m too late to what was clearly one of the better parties around and I regret that for the usual selfish reasons.
     
    Good luck with future projects. Let’s see how things pan out. Painful experience has schooled me in the wisdom of never say never.
     
    À bientôt, perhaps.

  18. NewYorkJ says:

    The general strategy of seeking the political “middle ground” doesn’t seem to work well.  Science-minded individuals focus on evidence and facts, and don’t like faux balance, and deniers prefer Kool-Aid, which Keith, to your credit, and despite fierce disagreements, you have never offered, which is enough reason for me to have read and contributed here.  Curry has had more success because she offers denialist chum while pretending to be objective.  With a steady stream of finger-wagging at the scientific community, giving credence to any nonsensical contrarian argument and treating any dissent from that as “tribalists circling the wagons”, she’s transparently an active part of the polarization.  And with that comes plenty of positive attention from the anti-science side of that.  I applaud you for not going down that enticing path (despite some occasional over-the-top rhetoric and jumping to conclusions), which would be sacrificing sincerity for cheap attention.  It will pay off in the long run, although not necessarily monetarily or with fame.

  19. Marlowe Johnson says:

    “It will pay off in the long run, although not necessarily monetarily or with fame.”

    what other kind of pay off is there 😉 ? 

  20. BBD says:

    A clear conscience.

  21. gosh florida doing what mosh pit suggested long ago.
    go figure

  22. Keith Kloor says:

    grypo (16)

    I appreciate the nod. The thing about such conversations is that they need to be closely moderated, which may not involve a lot of heavy-handed intervention, but do require an attentive eye. That also proved to be a big time suck for me, and another reason why I can’t continue as is.

    As for Yale Forum, they have a moderation policy in place for reasons that you might expect. That said, I (and I’m sure they) recognize that the delay impedes the natural flow of an exchange. But that is a tradeoff I believe they are willing to make. 

  23. Dave H says:

    Curry’s blog contains the following assessment, which I have for some time maintained:

    To adopt a fair discourse is a losing strategy to promote a cause in a public debate
    To adopt a cynical behavior is the obliged path to win a public debate against unfair and rigid opponents
    Alternative conclusion: dismiss the increasing weight given to the public opinion in the process of policy making by decision makers

    The second point *does not work* when it comes to communicating science. Science cannot be seen to be lying, misleading or cynical – it has to be regarded as somewhat sacrosanct to have hope of persuading a general populace leery of taking any action at personal cost without due cause. Science will never provide this picture.
     
    The popular debate cannot be won on these terms, the terms cannot be changes, and expecting education via the mass media is largely pointless. A populist debate is completely pointless – science is not a democracy, and evidence is not affected by mob rule.
     
    Which leaves targeting solely policy makers – but as long as policy makers are slaves to opinion polls and populism for short-term personal gain, this will never happen.
     
     
    Perhaps if Curry takes on board the points she lists above she will realise that she is a significant part of the problem. However, I see her rushing to apportion blame on both sides and be as even-handed as possible. Indeed this:
     
    “What I am trying to do is build the community for floaters, and diminish the basis for inflexibles and liars.”
     
    Is about as far from my experience of her blog as it is possible to get, but is the sort of self-congratulatory statement that plays so well with her audience. It is also as counter-productive as it is simplistic and blinkered because she makes no indication as to whether one particular population is more correct or not – and a population of undecideds is just as good a win for the anti-lobby as anything, because indecision equals inaction. They don’t need you to believe the lies, they just need you to disbelieve their opponents enough to be unsure. If you don’t care about being right, then it is in your interest to lie as *much* as possible, and indicate that both sides are equally guilty – thus dragging more people away from the position of your opponent. The value outcome of lying is asymmetric – if the “science” side could lie with impunity, all it would do is create more “undecideds”, which is still a losing outcome.
     
     
    In short: I have no hope of any meaningful progress in any public or political sphere, and least of all on blogs like Curry’s.
     
     
     

  24. Steven Sullivan says:

    Apparently yesterady the way to build ‘floaters’  and dissuade the ‘inflexibles’ and ‘liars’, was to call Kevin Trenberth a hypocrite.  Way to go, Dr. Curry! You keep fighting the good fight for fair discourse!

     

     

  25. jeffn says:

    Hi steven! Would you have preferred that she call him a “baboon”? I believe that was your “fair discourse” approach on the Friday links thread. Oh well, with persuasive argument like that- along with the enviro’s decision to halt natural gas drilling and continue to delay nuclear power- we’re sure to see “action” any day now. Meanwhile be sure to continue to ignore the substantive point- never ever look at why Trenberth is called a hypocrit or why the deficit argument is failing even among Democrats, the folks the social scientists assured us would get it thanks to their communitarian spirit.

  26. Steven Sullivan says:

    Jeffn — I’m not the one claiming to be trying to  ‘build bridges’ (I see Curry’s abandoned *that* trope) or ‘build floaters’. Nor do I think ‘fair discourse’ is a productive use of time — or even possible — with the likes of you, any more than it is with the current crop of Republicans in Congress, or with the Tea Party.  I’ve seen your like reliably infest blog after blog with your zombie argument swill, and it’s all I expect of you now.

    As for the particulars re Trenberth and polls, yours and Curry’s lenses are distorted enough that the view through them is best taken as a morbid form of entertainment rather than snapshot of reality.  Accepting denialist terms of debate is a fool’s game.

     

  27. jeffn says:

    Poor Steven, the ego is so fragile. Good luck with your approach. The good news for the climate concerned is that there are groups like the breakthrough institute that attract People who actually care. The bad news is the dead-Enders who insist on windmills and un treaties suck up all the spotlight calling opponents baboons. Morano loves folks like you, pal.

  28. Steven Sullivan says:

    I guess capitalization skills are the first thing to go when one is upset?

    I don’t have an ‘approach’, other than to point and laugh at the likes of you, and occasionally counter with facts the contemptible spin that you guys foist on the Internets.  

    I think Keith should apply to the Koch brothers for funding for this blog.  Their ideological servants already use it as their playground for free, so why not?

     

  29. jeffn says:

    Well, keep up the good work, Stevie. You are the Koch’s best ally. Try to get out and see some of the new phones sometime- they go on the Internet and everything. Typing on them is awkward tho. You’ll call people baboons in posts about civility all day long with one of those phones! In another 20 years you’ll again be able to take credit for stopping natural gas and nuclear power while advancing the argument that a lack of action is all Mark Morano’s fault. Works for me- I own Exxon stock.

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