Testy, testy, 1, 2, 3

So the Knight Science Journalism tracker writes an article titled, “Lots of ink and perplexion: Climate happens. But what, exactly, happened at Bali?” The article’s goal is to explain that nobody knows what happened or why — by quoting different explanations from various blogs. He writes (testily):

“The US humiliation angle comes from this little AP piece, brought to our attention by Joe Romm at the rather testy Climate Progress blog. It reports that one small nation’s scolding triggered such a wave of hooting that American delegates promptly pulled in their horns.”

Testy? Testy? Testy? Who’s testy?

Seriously, I suppose it isn’t the worst of epithets, though I confess I’m shooting for snarky, not testy. Also, from a website by journalists, I’d like an explanation of why they think that, rather than just a snide aside. I would argue that for any rational human being who cares about the health and well-being of life on this planet, including ours, being “testy” is about the mildest state of mind one can reasonably have, especially given what Bush has been doing for the past seven years (muzzling climate scientists, blocking international action, and on and on).

Still I must accept the fact that I’ve been dissed by not merely one of the best science journalism tracking websites I have found, but in fact the only one I could find…. I hope that wasn’t too testy.

UPDATE: Earl Killian notes that the entire world got rather testy at Bali, thanks to the Bushies. As one eyewitness put it:

Then occurred one of the most remarkable sounds that has perhaps ever been heard in the annals of international diplomacy–like a collective global groan–descending then to a murmur, then increasing in volume to a full-throated expression of rage and anger and booing and jeering, lasting for a full minute, so that finally the Minister had to call the meeting back to order.

22 Responses to Testy, testy, 1, 2, 3

  1. Cliff says:

    Not just “testy,” Joe – “RATHER testy.”


    It’s all a civil person can do to not be “insufferably obnoxious” under the present circumstances.

  2. Ronald says:

    Better be careful, talk this “testy” thing up to much and that is what you will always be known as. Is testy good enough?

  3. Joe says:

    I REALLY worry when journalists — in this case journalism fellows at my alma mater — start policing the tone of the debate on global warming, especially when most journalists poor coverage of the topic for two decades has helped put us in the desperate position we now find ourselves!

  4. John Fleck says:

    As a journalist and avid reader of both your work and Charles’s, I’d say “testy” is an appropriate description of what I come here for. I don’t think “testy” is an attempt to police the discussion, so much as an accurate description of this blog.

    As for your second point – “most journalists poor coverage of the topic for two decades” – it is my experience in many years of journalism that the losing side in a political argument (which is where you currently reside vis-a-vis US climate policy) generally blames the media for its poor coverage. It is also my experience that it is not uncommon for both sides in any polarized debate to accuse the media of being biased in some fashion in favor of their opponents. In fact, it is not uncommon for each side to level the accusation with regard to the same story.

  5. Joe says:

    Life is a character test. In this case, global warming is the biggest test of humanity. So I am testy in that regard.

    The reason I disagree with your second point is that climate is NOT a political argument, it is first and foremost a scientific reality. Conservatives have taken advantage of the media by cleverly politicizing it (and many science issues) so that the media thinks it has to cover both “sides.”

    Conservatives have turned what should be a tricky policy debate — what is the best strategy to reduce emissions to avoid catastrophic warming — into an impossibly polarized political debate over whether the problem exists or is serious enough to warrant strong government action. Again, the media has let them do so

    Now I guess I AM getting testy. Time will prove my “side” right and hence that conservatives were dead wrong and that the media got played. By then it will be too late. We will have failed the test, and the entire human race will be much, much more than testy — they will be bitter and angry and pissed! And rightly so.

  6. John Fleck says:

    The Boykoffs notwithstanding, I personally think my colleagues in the media have done a respectable job on this issue. The polling data shows a significant majority of the public understands the issue properly (that is, accepts the scientific descriptions of the problem) and says something needs to be done about it. Given that the media must be assumed to play a central role in creating that public understanding, I’d still like you to defend your accusation that “journalists poor coverage of the topic for two decades has helped put us in the desperate position we now find ourselves!” Sure, there’s been lots of bad coverage, but there always is on any interesting question. Success in any political/policy effort needs to be robust to that problem. It seems to me that the reasons for the U.S. failure to successfully enact meaningful greenhouse gas reductions are rather more complex.

    Perhaps I’m just being defensive on behalf of my poor, bedraggled profession, but I tire of people blaming journalists when they don’t win the battle at hand, whatever it might be.

  7. John Fleck says:

    P.S. No reason for you not to be testy, either. As I said, that’s part of why I come here. You’re an articulate spokesman for the testy wing of the movement. :-)

  8. Ron says:


    It was politicized by the likes of Al Gore and cronies. If it wasn’t political, there would be no ‘need’ for propaganda. If it was all science, there would be no ‘need’ to lie about it.

  9. Joe says:

    John: I don’t think you can set aside the Boykoffs. I certainly don’t. If you’ve read the chapter in my book, or the posts on this website tagged “media,” you’ll see what i think are numerous examples of consistently bad coverage. Only in the last year or two has it gotten somewhat better — long after the science had made clear which side was right and which side was dead wrong.

    My father was a newspaper editor for 30 years. My mother has also been a journalist. I have great respect for the news media. But they contributed to the catastrophe we face.

    When blame is apportioned –and it surely will be in the coming decades unless we dramatically reverse course soon — the media will NOT get the biggest piece, because they weren’t acting in bad faith, as the Deniers and Delayers were. And the media won’t get the second biggest piece — that will go to the conservative “doubters” who followed the Deniers and Delayers like blind sheep, rather than believing the overwhelming majority of the friggin’ scientific community. Tied for third will be the Democrats, progressives, and scientists — for lame messaging and general lack of balls — and here is where I’d throw the media in.

    Damn, guess I am a tad testy after all. I’ll make myself a cup of chamomile.

  10. Joe says:

    Ron, the only lying comes from the Deniers and Delayers you put so much unwarranted faith in. You will probably live long enough to realize how much you were misled by them. Certainly your children will.

  11. John Fleck says:

    Joe –

    OK, I’ll buy your ranking of who deserves how much blame. I’d be hard pressed to find an important societal problem where the news media doesn’t deserve at least that much blame for its failings. As for the others, at the risk of sending you running shrieking testily from the room, one of the reasons I find Nordhaus and Shellenberger’s analysis interesting is their characterization of the problems of the modern environmental movement. It coincides quite nicely with my own observations of environmentalisms failures in the public policy processes that I cover as a journalist on a daily basis.

    On the Boykoffs, I’ve laid out my argument regarding their first “balance as bias” paper elsewhere, and won’t belabor them here:

    Note that I’m not arguing that “balance as bias” is not a problem, but rather that the Boykoffs’ methodology was flawed in a way that overstates its prevalence.

    It’s worth noting that the methodology of their more recent paper seems less problematic, and the resulting “balance as bias” problem decreased substantially. It’s possible that reporters are actually doing it less. Or perhaps the methodology of the original paper was flawed.

  12. Dano says:

    The media can be said to be a reflection of society, John. And we certainly are not doing a good job at addressing our problems, so blaming the media is to me, er…convenient. Certainly the corporate mouthpieces are there, but so are other voices as well.

    Oh, and yes – testy.



  13. Ron says:


    You and I both know that Gore’s movie and speeches are full of disinformation, half truths, and quite a few outright lies. We could pick it apart and argue about it, but that’s not really necessary, is it?

    And his propaganda wouldn’t even be a big deal if he didn’t get so much press, if he wasn’t the defacto leader of the anti-carbon movement and Pope of the Church of Global Warming, and if so many people hadn’t bought into it. But he does, and he is, and they have – so he is fair game for criticism.

    You say above that this isn’t a political issue, but I stand by my statement that it IS a political issue. First and foremost a political issue. It was created as a political issue. The hype and propaganda give this fact away. It’s always been a political issue. There are real scientists doing real climate work, but the real science is still very uncertain and tentative – a far cry from the way Al Gore, the United Nations and many bloggers portray it.

    It’s not about saving the planet. It’s about global governance.

    And I don’t know which Deniers or Delayers you think I’ve specifically bought into; I’ve actually done my own thinking on this, not just read the press releases.

    A weak hypothesis, plus dishonest hype, does not equal strong science.

    As I said before, if it was just about the science, the propaganda would be unnecessary – and inexusable by otherwise scientifically-minded folks like yourself.

    And your willingness to say that the end justifies the means also reveals that your own agenda is political and not scientific.

  14. Dano says:

    Shorter denialst:

    There’s no global warming because Algore is fat!



  15. tidal says:

    Joe wants his “testy back”…



  16. Ronald says:

    I don’t want to insult you, but you are as much to science as a butcher is to a heart surgeon or a mechanic to an automobile designer. You’re not qualified to be a judge of science. Being a Climatologist or any kind of science is so much more than just playing science. Don’t claim for things you don’t have.
    A question. You say that there are real scientists doing real climate work, but the real science is still very uncertain and tentative; could you name them?
    And you said that if it was just about the science we wouldn’t need the propaganda. Well what would that science look like that’s different from what global warming science is now?

  17. Michael says:

    I’m still trying to figure out where you get the tentativeness of climate scientists…I think you are only looking for hypotheses that confirm your libertarian point of view…never a government action you liked except maybe one that made war on another country. You seem to be trimming the world to YOUR political viewpoint….the climate doesn’t care about that though, I’m afraid.

    In part because of people like you and the influential political pundits in the media who espouse free market religion, scientists have had to yell and scream to have their DATA and conclusions from the DATA heard.

    Show me the mass of data that contradicts the IPCC and just about every climate scientist and then you might have a leg to stand on.

  18. Ron says:

    You don’t think the science is as uncertain and tentative as I do – that’s fine. I wouldn’t expect anything different from you Believers. But it’s interesting that you don’t have an argument about the propaganda.

    Just explain to me why the propaganda and lies are necessary to your cause. And why it doesn’t embarrass you.

  19. Dano says:


    False premise 1: AIT is propaganda and lies
    False premise 2: The “cause” needs propaganda
    False premise 3: “algore is fat!!” is a compelling argument
    False premise 4: denialists’ arguments matter.

    The planet is discussing what to do. Get on board. Or not, and continue shouting into the wind. From here, the rest of the planet can no longer hear you, but hey – whatever. Gives the denialists something to do.



  20. Ron says:


    Weren’t you calling yourself “IANVS” before?

  21. Dano says:

    I don’t know that acronym and my topic was your arguing from false premises.



  22. Shannon says:

    Pithy, perhaps, but not testy. Why not venture over to ScienceDaily? They also have a great daily science news digest with a specific category for climate and earth science.