Thanks to the Association of Polar Early Career Scientists, sponsors of the online Polar Film Festival, for selecting the above feature for the Science in Action category.

Youtube playlist of all selections here.


The Week in Graphs

September 22, 2017

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It’s across the board. When Republicans perceive reality to have a liberal bias, they simply go into denial mode.

In this case, when a staggering array of expert organizations are warning about the consequences of the health bill currently under consideration –

Vox interviewed master Science Denier Jim Inhofe:

Jeff Stein

What’s the policy explanation for the Graham-Cassidy bill? What substantive problems does this solve?

Jim Inhofe

Well, first of all, as a general rule the states do things better than the federal government does [things]. And that is essentially what the bill is. We actually had a bill that passed, except at the last minute — as you know — we had one deciding vote against it that was unforeseen. And I think what we’re looking at right now is essentially the same thing.


Scientists in Arizona have been under attack by a Koch-funded group seeking private email communications.  They had lost a round a few months ago. Appeals Court says not so fast.
More to come.

Play by play from Lauren Kurtz of Climate Science Legal Defense Fund.

Columbia University Climate Law Blog:

On September 14, the Arizona Court of Appeals, Division II, ruled that a trial court decision to release climate scientists’ emails had improperly ignored an Arizona statutory protection for university records.  In this case, the Energy & Environment Legal Institute (“E&E Legal”) has been attempting to use open records laws to obtain a 13 year span of emails from two University of Arizona climate scientists. This ruling returns the case to the trial court for a consideration of whether the statutory protection applies to the emails sought here.

State and federal open records laws promote government accountability by allowing citizens to request copies of administrative records, but these powerful tools can also be misused “to harass and intimidate scientists and other academic researchers, or to disrupt and delay their work.”  Overly intrusive open records requests, particularly for emails, can discourage the candid exchange of ideas (including “devil’s advocate” arguments and “what if” debates), and provide opportunities for hostile actors to take phrases, including scientific jargon, out of context in order to mislead and confuse the public.  Climate scientists in particular have been subjected to “information attacks” by a “network of groups with close ties to energy interests that have long fought greenhouse gas regulation.”

Case Background

In this case, E&E Legal initiated its open records request in December 2011, seeking a 13 year span of emails from University of Arizona climate scientists Malcolm Hughes and Jonathan Overpeck.  E&E Legal describes its work as “free market environmentalism” and claims that release of these emails is necessary for its “transparency project” into uncovering potential misconduct by climate scientists.  In its Amended Complaint, E&E Legal claimed that certain emails stolen in the so-called “Climategate” hacking in 2009, involving these two University of Arizona scientists and others, indicated misdeeds needing further scrutiny.  Of course, all official investigations related to “Climategate” have shown no misconduct and the episode is now seen as a “manufactured controversy.”

The University of Arizona produced some emails, and withheld thousands of others, claiming that these emails – which included peer-review commentary, preliminary drafts, and candid debates with colleagues – should not be produced under Arizona law.  The two main protections claimed by the University:

  • An Arizona statute, A.R.S. 15-1640, which dictates that “unpublished research data, manuscripts, preliminary analyses, drafts of scientific papers, plans for future research and prepublication peer reviews” from Arizona public universities are exempted from the public records laws, provided that certain requirements are met.
  • An Arizona common law balancing test, originating in Mathews v. Pyle, 75 Ariz. 76 (1952), which states that documents can be withheld from an open records request if it can be shown that the public interest in protecting the records is greater than the public interest in disclosing the records.


The University argued that the statutory requirements were met in this case, and protected these emails; in the alternative, it argued that the emails would also be protected under the common law test, as the public interest in protecting scientific research emails was greater than in disclosing them.

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Jimmy Kimmel has been roiling the media lately with some righteous blasts on the new health care legislation before the Senate.
But it’s not the first time – if you did not see his rant on climate denial not long ago, it’s worth a view, includes a vid of scientists speaking to the camera, which – starts with of my favorite Paleoclimate experts,  Aradhna Tripati of UCLA.

Below, Kimmel reads outraged responses from Climate deniers.

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Wow, he cuts loose here.