Monday 28 October 2013

How to talk to uncle Bob, the climate ostrich

Willard of Never Ending Audit recommended a video on climate communication in the comments at HotWhopper that deserves more attention. In the video George Marshall of explains how to talk to climate ostriches, for example by being respectful to climate ostriches. In the video, he is not talking to the fringe ostriches, however, but to the mainstream. Talking about the ostriches the way one talks when they are not in the room, makes the climate ostriches go mad in the comments. I would advice any ostrich with blood pressure problems not to watch this video.

The video is called "How to talk to a climate change denier" and halfway Marshall explains that that term is best avoided in a productive conversation. Furthermore, it is not about the oddish "debate" in the blogosphere, it is about talking to someone you know about climate change. This is why I rename the video to "How to talk to uncle Bob, the climate ostrich". Marshall offers the term "climate dissenter", I personally like "ostrich", it fits to these people denying that climate change is a problem in a wide variety of (conflicting) ways.

The conversations with family and friends are probably the most important discussions, while you might have the tendency to avoid them. You are more likely to convince your uncle Bob as someone who build his internet identity around refuting that climate change is a problem.

Quotes from the video

Are you struggling to find ways of talking to people who simply do not believe that climate change is happening. ... Do I fight it out with them? ... You just laugh it out and let it go. Actually that conversation is really important. The fast majority of people form their views from the social interactions with people around them, with their peers.

Common ground

Do not go into an argument, seek common ground. ... When you think of the times when you have been challenged. And someone has changed your views. Was that an argument that was won or lost? Did you ever at the end of a conversation with someone say: you know what, you were right all along, silly me, I was wrong all over, you are right.


Okay, I know it is hard to feel much respect for people that ...
They are forming their own views, they are expressing their own views. ... The easy option is to say. Climate change is a huge problem and then not to think about not, not to do anything about it. At least they are engaging. ... Let's respect that quality that they make up their own mind.

Hold your views

It is important that you own your views. Don't make it an argument about an "it". ... Don't seek to undermine their sources of information. That is another discussion about the "it". ... This is again going head to head about the "it".

Your journey

People form their opinions over time, it is a steady process of negotiation. ... So it is important you tell them about the process how you came to your views.

Fits worldview

There is no reason why climate change cannot be a matter of deep concern for conservative people, to traditional people, to old people. ... Try to find ways to talk about it in a way that it concerns about them.

Offer rewards

People who do not believe in climate change nonetheless have very strong values in other areas. They are people who have very strong interest in their community, in their family, in a social life. They'd love to be quite traditional in the sense that they have a very strong sense of identity. ... These are values to speak to.

Thursday 24 October 2013

Many (new) open-access journals in meteorology and climatology

File:PhD Comics Open Access Week 2012.ogv
9-minute video by PhD Comics explaining open access from WikiMedia.
The journal of the German language meteorological organizations, Meteorologische Zeitschrift, has just announced it will move to full open-access publishing in 2014.
[The] editorial board and editor-in-chief of Meteorologische Zeitschrift (MetZet) are pleased to announce that MetZet will be published as full open access journal from the beginning of the year 2014. All contents of this journal from then on will be freely available to readers. Authors are free to non commercially distribute their articles and to post them on their home pages. MetZet follows with this change the requests of many authors, institutions, and funding organizations.
This was a long term request of mine. MetZet has very high standards and publishes good work. In that respect it would be an honour to publish there. In the past it was even one of the main journals in the field. It published the first climate classification by Köppen. It has articles by Hann, Bjeknes, Angström, Flohn and Ertel. However, I did not publish in MetZet up to now because almost nobody has a subscription to it. Thus after getting through the tough review, who would read the articles had I published there? Now this problem is solved.

Other less well known "national" open journals are Időjárás - Quarterly Journal of the Hungarian Meteorological Service (OMSZ) and the Journal of the Catalan Association of Meteorology Tethys. Also Tellus A: Dynamic Meteorology and Oceanography and Tellus B: Chemical and Physical Meteorology have changed to open-access in 2012.

Then we have the IOP journal Environmental Research Letters and the new Elsevier journal Weather and Climate Extremes. Copernicus, the publisher of the European Geophysical Union, has many more open access journals. The most important ones for meteorologists and climatologists are likely:

[UPDATE. O. Bothe has written a more up to date list with open-access journals (October 2014)]

Bad journals

Not all open-access journals are good. Jeffrey Beale even keeps a list of predatory publishers and journals.

Wednesday 16 October 2013

Does a body composition scale provide independent information? Two experiments: weight and age

Since the beginning of the year I have gained about 8 kg. Was that fat, muscle, water? Probably some of all. My body fat scale estimates that my body fat percentage has increased by about 3%, which would be 2 to 3 kg of fat.

The problem

My problem? My scale knows my weight gain and likely uses my weight to estimate my body fat percentage. If it would not use my weight to estimate body fat, why would it want to know my height (body mass index, BMI), age and sex? Part of the information on body fat likely comes from the currents send through my body by the scale, but another part from my weight or BMI. Thus my problem is, does the increase in body fat percentage tell me more than what I already knew, that I have gained 8 kg?

The experiment

Now luckily, my fitness studio has another instrument to measure body fat. It is attached to a computer and also wants to know my weight. But here, you have to type in. Thus with this instrument you can experiment.

The instrument has a infra-red sensor that has to be placed on your biceps. To compute your body fat, and a colorful page full of other probably highly reliable information, it uses your weight, height, age and fitness.

We made one measurement stating my real current weight and one stating my weight at the beginning of the year. The difference in computed body fat percentage: 3,3%! Almost to similar to the increase estimated by my scale to be true.

The interpretation

It is possible, I gained some fat and my waist did increase some. It is also possible that nothing happened fatwise, other places look more muscular nowadays. I guess all I know is that I gained 8 kg.

I guess this does not surprise scientists and engineers working on these measurement devises. The German Wikipedia even mentions this effect qualitatively. But I am not sure if all users are aware of this problem and we can now put a number on it. If your fat gain is less than a third of your weight gain, the measurement is too uncertain to determine whether there really was a fat gain.

Post Scriptum. We forgot one experiment. I would love to know what the estimate for my body fat percentage would be if I tell the computer I am a young man. I expect some age discrimination by the multiple linear regression equations used.

Post Post Scriptum. Thanks to Caro of Stangenliebe (Pole art fitness Bonn) for the measurement.

UPDATE. I realised I could do the experiment with my age using my own scale. My Soehnle scale has two presets. I set person 1 to my age (rounded to 42) and person 2 to an Adonis of 18 years. In all four measurements the Adonis has exactly 3.7% fat less. If only my age group would not be so overweight, my readings would be a lot better.