The Fall of ‘Nature’

by Bo Winegard, Aug 28, 2022 in Quilette

A once-respected journal has announced that it will be subordinating science to ideology.

And science, we should insist, better than any other discipline, can hold up to its students and followers an ideal of patient devotion to the search for objective truth, with vision unclouded by personal or political motive.
~Sir Henry Hallett Dale

Although the modern prestige bestowed upon science is laudable, it is not without peril. For as the ideological value of science increases, so too does the threat to its objectivity. Slogans and hashtags can quickly politicize science, and scientists can be tempted to subordinate the pursuit of the truth to moral or political ends as they become aware of their own prodigious social importance. Inconvenient data can be suppressed or hidden and inconvenient research can be quashed. This is especially true when one political tribe or faction enjoys disproportionate influence in academia—its members can disfigure science (often unconsciously) to support their own ideological preferences. This is how science becomes more like propaganda than empiricism, and academia becomes more like a partisan media organization than an impartial institution.

An editorial in Nature Human Behavior provides the most recent indication of just how bad things are becoming. It begins, like so many essays of its kind, by announcing that, “Although academic freedom is fundamental, it is not unbounded.” When the invocation of a fundamental freedom in one clause is immediately undermined in the next, we should be skeptical of whatever follows. But in this case, the authors are taking issue with a view very few people actually hold. At minimum, most academics will readily accept that scientific curiosity should be constrained by ethical concerns about research participants.

‘Hurricane Season Slowest Start In 30 Years’: Media Spin Begins

by A. Watts, Aug 29, 2022 in ClimateChangeDispatch

Back in May, many media outlets ran with this headline courtesy of a press release from NOAA:

NOAA predicts above-normal 2022 Atlantic Hurricane Season

Media outlets like Houston Public Media trumpeted it as if it was fact, saying: [bold, links added]

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released its 2022 Atlantic Hurricane Forecast, predicting an “above normal” hurricane season.

NOAA says there is a 70% chance of 14-21 storms forming, with as many as ten potentially becoming hurricanes. Three to six of these storms could become major hurricanes.

Arctic-Wide Glaciers And Ice Caps Were Absent Or Smaller Than Today From 10,000 To 3000 Years Ago By Kenneth Richard on 29. August 2022

by K. Richard, Aug 29, 2022 in NoTricksZone

A new study details how a much warmer climate than today led to the disappearance of glaciers and ice caps during the sub-300 ppm CO2 Early to Middle Holocene. The Arctic’s modern ice extent is among the largest of the last 10,000 years.

Glaciologists Larocca and Axford (2022) have synthesized a comprehensive record of Arctic-wide glaciers and ice caps (GICs) situated near lakes for Greenland, Alaska, Arctic Canada, Iceland, Scandinavia, Svalbard, and the Russian Arctic.

They compared the current volume and extent of GICs to past Holocene periods when they were either 1) smaller than present or 2) absent, with the latter characterizations signifying greater Arctic warmth.


Contrary to the popular view that the modern glacier and ice cap extents are unprecedentedly small or on the verge of disappearing for the first time ever, the authors found more than half the Arctic’s GICs that exist today either did not exist or were smaller than today from 10,000 to 3400 years ago, when atmospheric CO2 ranged between 260 and 270 ppm.

Furthermore, most (“80% or more”) were smaller than today or absent from 7900 to 4500 years ago, which was the peak of this interglacial’s Arctic warmth – multiple degrees Celsius warmer than today.

The following images from the paper document the “Percent of GICs smaller or absent” for each region over the course of the last 10,000 years or more. Notice that between 80% to 100% of GICs were smaller than today or absent from about 8000 and 4000 years ago, and that even the Roman and Medieval Warm Periods had lower GICs extent than today.

The largest glacier and ice cap extent of the Holocene has been realized in the last millennium, suggesting any recession of GICs in the last few centuries is but a partial return to a former period of much greater warmth.