Friday, April 23, 2010 gives IPCC Scientific Basis an "A"

The good folks at have put together a "report card" on The IPCC Fourth Assessment reports (AR4) where they have graded each Working Group on how many of the references in the reports cite peer-review studies. And they've created a wonderful graphic that summarizes their findings:

40 Citizen Auditors
12 Countries
5 Weeks Work
5600 Grey References
1 Discredited IPCC report.

I won't begin to address whether these "Citizen Auditors" were correct in their determination of what was "peer-reviewed" and what was not (since that would be immensely time consuming and therefore entirely impractical, which is what the good folks at are counting on). Nor will I address the fact that whether or not something is peer-reviewed does not directly mean the information cited is correct or incorrect (merely that it is sourced from a peer-reviewed journal). But just for sake of argument, what I will do is take their report at face value - that it is an accurate count of peer-reviewed vs. non-peer-reviewed references in the IPCC reports and that having less than 60% peer-reviewed constitutes an "F", etc. was nice enough to sort their finding by ascending grade - starting with the F's and moving up to the A's. It is worth mentioning that the IPCC reports are published by three different Working Groups (WGs) that each address a different area of study - WG 1 covers the Scientific Basis, WG 2 covers Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability and WG 3 covers Mitigation. All of the hard science is in the WG 1 reports - this is where the Scientific Basis is established and all the science that shows that global warming is real and that it is primarily caused by human activities is presented.

I was able to take the data provided by and sort it by the associated working group. I was also able to calculate the number of peer-reviewed and non-peer-reviewed studies associated with each chapter using the percentages provided by Based on this, I was able to calculate that, according to, there are over 5,800 peer-reviewed studies that support the consensus view that global warming is real and that human activities are largely to blame. That's over 93% of the 6,226 studies referenced by WG 1, which is a solid "A" according to's grading scale. It is also significantly more than the dubious claims that some 450 peer-reviewed studies are supposedly skeptical of the consensus. That's over 12 times as many clearly in support vs. dubiously opposed. has done well in showing the strong consensus behind scientific basis of the theory of man-made global warming.

So congratulations IPCC on a job well done. And the next time anyone you talk to claims that there is no consensus on the scientific basis of climate change, just point them to this blog entry and tell them to send their congratulations on to the good folks at for helping to prove the overwhelming soundness of the science behind AGW theory.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The foundation of the Tea Party Movement is Pro-Wall Street, Anti-Main Street

The so-called Tea Party Movement claims to be "A community committed to standing together, shoulder to shoulder, to protect our country and the Constitution upon which we were founded!" It is at once a loose coalition of like-minded individuals and a highly organized, centrally financed political action committee. It continues to garner media attention that is greatly disproportionate to its numbers and political influence. And it is the darling of the right-wing media from Glen Beck to Sean Hannity to Rush Limbaugh.

But just where did it come from and what is it really all about? The Tea Party Movement started from the promotion of a "rant" by CNBC correspondent Rick Santelli (you can view that rant here). What's interesting about this rant is that it introduces several of the core ideas of the Tea Party Movement - protesting of perceived "unfair taxation" (harking back to the Boston Tea Party of 1773), returning to the wisdom of the Founding Fathers, etc.

What appears to me to be the first and most glaring of the paradoxes of the Tea Party Movement is that it professes to be a populist, "grass roots" movement of "regular Americans" that are fed up with the tyranny of oppressive government. But if you listen to Rick Santelli's rant carefully, he is angry over the February 18th "Help for Home Owners" proposal by the Obama Administration to extend government help to "regular Americans" who are in danger of foreclosure. Santelli is representing the interests of Wall Street traders, investors and brokers who cheer him from the Chicago Mercantile Exchange floor in the background. He is angry over using tax money to bail out the "losers" and you can see him call to the floor traders to ask if they want to help pay for their neighbor's house with an "extra bathroom" that they "cannot afford".

I actually agree with Rick that there has to be some adherence to the contracts that people signed (i.e. if you really can't afford your home, you shouldn't be in it), but that actually isn't what the Help For Home Owners plan said - it was about providing incentives to borrowers and lenders to come to payment terms that the borrower could afford in an attempt to avoid foreclosures. Compared to the bank bailout plan of 2008, this was not only a cheaper plan, but it was a more free-market friendly plan.

So how did this anti-Main Street rant turn into a grass roots movement against "tyranny"? Simple - a coordinated campaign of misinformation designed to stoke the anger of the right-wing of the Republican party at losing the 2008 election and mix that anger with the broader angst about the economy, the deficit and the mounting national debt (anger being a far more potent motivation than hope). And that misinformation campaign was designed by and disseminated by the right-wing media, including the pundits at Fox News and within conservative talk radio (the left-wing has nothing that compares to the misinformation machine of these conservative media outlets). More on this later.

The Tea Party Movement claims to be "non partisan" and recent polls show that as much as a third of them do not self-identify as Republicans. But this is because among this right-wing faction there is a fair amount of anger at Republicans (who are largely to blame for the current economic crisis as well as the staggering deficits and debt), even though the clear target og their anger is the Democrats and the Obama Administration. Make no mistake that the Tea Party Movement is about creating a Republican renaissance in the 2010 elections and setting the country back on the track it was on under the Bush Administration - a direction soundly rejected by voters in 2008.

So does the Tea Party Movement have legs? Absolutely! It promises to be exploited by the interests behind the conservative movement (industrialists, high income investors, corporatists and international financiers) and promoted vigorously by the conservative media until it appears to be the most powerful political force in the country. The truth will eventually be learned, but by then we will probably have taken many painful steps backward to where we were when the Republicans dominated Washington from 2000 to 2006. I can only wonder at what seeds might be planted then and what kind of economic crisis will we face when those seeds come to fruition.