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RealClimate - Climate Scientists Use The Blog

:: RealClimate is new blog, launched in December 2004 by a group of concerned climate scientists, which describes it as a commentary site:

RealClimate is a commentary site on climate science by working climate scientists for the interested public and journalists. We aim to provide a quick response to developing stories and provide the context sometimes missing in mainstream commentary. The discussion here is restricted to scientific topics and will not get involved in any political or economic implications of the science.
Nine scientists contribute to the blog - er - commentary site, and do so of their own volition, as expressed in this note on the page:
The contributors to this site do so in a personal capacity during their spare time and their posts do not represent the views of the organizations for which they work. The contributors are solely responsible for the content of the site and receive no remuneration for their contributions.
RealClimate was covered in Nature, v432, n7020, December 2004. In the editorial, "Welcome climate bloggers: A group of just nine climate scientists is trying to change the media coverage of their discipline. Thanks to an ongoing revolution in electronic news, they might just succeed", the Nature applauds the group for using the blog format as a means to provide quick rebuttals to groups such as think tanks, who consistently downplay the concerns of global warming. The contributors must use caution, however, not to oversell their own opinions on issues which divide scientists. In other words, the editorial concludes:
The site needs to balance speed with objectivity, readability and accuracy. Thatís no mean feat. Fail, and the blog will be dismissed as no more trustworthy than the myriad lobbying groups already writing on climate.But if the siteís founders pull it off, they could change the coverage of climate change for the better. Good luck to them.
Another article in the same issue of Nature, "Climatologists get real over global warming", by Jim Giles, repeats the concern for caution mentioned in the editorial. Will the site begin to appear as a "party line", and what of the peer-review process, absent from the comments posted? Another concern raised is, will respected scientists who disagree with global warming concerns be able to join the group? As for the absence of the peer-review process, of the site's founders, Gavin Schmidt of NASAís Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York notes "that postings are not academic papers and so do not need full peer review. Comments are instead e-mailed to researchers contributing to the site, and their suggestions are incorporated before the piece is uploaded." Peer-review was address on RealClimate in two posts: Peer Review: A Necessary But Not Sufficient Condition, and in a followup post. Check both posts, and note that each post includes references to peer-reviewed journals. Very cool. I do not recall seeing a blog post which included references. Also of interest, check out selected posts, all of which are open to comments (which will allow dissenters to opine at will); note that many of the comments include a response in the same comment from one or more site contributors - again, a novel approach.

I am not a scientist or engineer (and I don't play one on tv either), so cannot comment on the scientific content of the posts on RealClimate. Nonetheless, it is interesting and encouraging to see scientists seize upon the blog and use it as a means for rapid communication and exchange of ideas. How long will it take for more blogs with a solid scholarly foundation to appear?

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