Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Leading climate tweeps

I enjoy Twitter and lately I went a bit overboard searching for people to follow. I discovered that Twitter sets a ceiling on how many people you can follow, which varies based on how many people follow you, but they won't tell you what the equation is. So I had to go back and un-follow some accounts I either found were tweeting far too little, or that I forgot why I followed them originally.

One group I've been searching out to follow is those who work in climate science, paleoclimate and paleoecology, glaciology and ice stuff, remote sensing - all that good stuff I've been reading and attending classes and guest lectures on for several years now.

I found some names I knew, then looked at who they follow, found some more names I recognized, and this week I went through my "following" list looking to see who I'd latched onto in this area. I was pleasantly surprised as I discovered quite a few very prominent names in the field are tweeting now. Here are some of the top names I found - please tweet or email me to suggest more tweeps!

Click the links to go to their Twitter profile - where you can click "Follow"

 (follower stats as of 2012-12-10 except the later additions as of add date):


@IPCC_CH  The IPCC's twitter feed (followed by 2342)
@Cfigueres UNFCC Executive Secretary Dr. Christina Figueres (followed by 12046)
@pwatkinson Head climate negotiator for France (followed by 782)
@JPvanYpersele IPCC vice-chair (followed by 119)

climate leaders:

@MichaelEMann Univ. of Pennsylvania, (followed by 6388)
@HeidiCullen climate scientist, science journalist (followed by 4087)
@GlobalEcoGuy Johnathan Foley, Director, Institute on the Environment (IonE), Univ. Minnesota (followed by 3030)
@rjtklein Richard Klein, Climate policy analyst at SEI and CSPR, IPCC author (followed by 2606)
@KenCaldeira senior climate scientist Stanford U. (followed by 2351)
@dr_andy_russell Lecturer in Climate Change at  (followed by 1920)
@richardabetts  Climate scientist, Met Office Hadley Centre and Exeter University. IPCC AR5 Lead Author (followed by 1778)
@AGW_Prof  Prof. Scott A. Mandia - SUNY Suffolk, founder of Climate Science Rapid Response Team
@PaulREhrlich population ecologist (followed by 1115)
@climate_ice Prof. Jason Box, Ohio State U. - "Mister Cryosphere" (followed by 1010)
@rahmstorf Dr. Stefan Rahmstorf - PIK, (followed by 738)
@popepolar Dr. Allen Pope (followed by 736)
@TusconPeck  Johnathan Overpeck (followed by 726)
@SimonLLewis (followed by 652)
@TheCostOfEnergy Lou Grinzo (followed by 648)
@simondonner Simon Donner, Univ. of British Columbia (followed by 643)
@BrianBledsoe (followed by 637)
@ed_hawkins (followed by 584)
@AJWVictoriaBC Dr. Andrew Weavers FCMOS FAMS - UBC (followed by 491)
@SMEasterbrook Prof. Steve Easterbrook - Univ. of Toronto (hi Steve!) (followed by 388)
@ClimateOfGavin Dr. Gavin Schmidt - GISS, (followed by 368)
@AlanRobock Dr. Alan Robock - Rutgers U (followed by 214) [added to this list 2013-06]
@NeilAdger - Univ. of Exeter (followed by193)
@vickypope2 UK Met Office (followed by 111)
@ericsteig - (followed by 54)
@climatebook Dr. Ray Pierrehumbert FAGU - Univ. of Chicago, (twitter feed for his textbook - followed by 46)
@mcmaccracken Dr. Mike MacCracken FAAAS, IAMAS, ICIA (followed by 43)
@BarryBickmore1 Brigham Young U. (followed by 37) 
@rikleemans Vageningen U (followed by 14)

While I've sorted these by current number of followers, that's sometimes quite different from the order you'll find them on my table of most highly-cited authors on climate science. Some of the most highly cited who could use some more love on Twitter in proportion to their publication record are Neil Adger, Mike McCracken, and Rik Leemans -- but everyone here is well worth following, so don't be shy!

UPDATE 2013-06-25:

I somehow overlooked @AlanRobock at time of writing, so I've just added him. I gmailed his name this morning, and when I logged in to Twitter just now it suggested I follow him. Coincidence, or spooky SEO? You decide...

UPDATE#2, 2013-08-07:

Just noticed two more important names in climate science now on twitter:
@PdeMenocal Peter DeMenocal of Lamont-Doherty at Columbia (followed by 141)
@moraymo Maureen Raymo of Lamont-Doherty at Columbia (followed by 189)

UPDATE#3, 2014-01-17

Some more key climate scientists now on Twitter:
@OveHG Ove Hoegh-Guldberg of U. Queensland (followed by 503)
@ClimateOpp Michael Oppenheimer of Princeton (followed by 437)

UPDATE#4 2014-05-23

The follower counts posted above will be way out of date by now, but I don't have spare time to go back through the whole list and update them. Anyway, I'm adding one more update for Naomi Oreskes who just joined Twitter, along with some important names in #scicomms and climate politics/public understanding of science research:
@NaomiOreskes Naomi Oreskes of Harvard (followed by 422 after just one week and 12 tweets - got some good early #FFs)
@skepticscience John Cook of U.Queensland (followed by 9211)
@ChrisCMooney of MotherJones and ClimateDesk (followed by 12.3K)
@Boykoff Max Boykoff of CIRES CSTPR, Boulder, CO (followed by 1392)
@STWorg Shaping Tomorrow's World team, led by Stephan Lewandowsky of U Bristol (followed by 598)
@ecotone2 Anthony Leiserowitz of Yale PCCC (followed by 582)
@AaronMcCright Aaron McCright of MSU (followed by 391)

Also some climate science aware journalists worth a follow:
@georgemonbiot George Monbiot of The Guardian (followed by 92.5K)
@DVergano Dan Vergano of National Geographic (followed by 13K)
@ElaineMcKewon Elaine McKewon journalism PhD cand., Syndey, AU (followed by 295)

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Dusting off my climate authors site


A new open letter about climate change, published last month in Canada's Financial Post, got me busy going back into my website covering who signs such things and how seriously we should take them. I'm preparing a new post on this letter in particular, but I'm also going back and dusting the cobwebs off the rest of my web listing of climate scientists, statements, petitions and so forth. 

After having worked at length in 2009 and 2010 to get the site to its current state, I gave myself a well-earned rest from updating it for a while. I devoted free time to other pursuits I also value, such as upgrading the energy-efficiency of our 1920 Toronto home, in time to claim some energy-retrofit tax credits that were set to expire. I made it in time, and had fun in the process. I upgraded the insulation in my attic (after struggling mightly trying to seal air leaks around the fixtures in the 2nd floor ceiling.) By renting the machine to blow in the shredded fiberglass as a D-I-Y, I actually got back the full cost of that upgrade.

I also had our foundation dug out and waterproofed, then insulated the basement and headers which were big areas of heat loss. I had new high-performance windows installed in the basement as well (we had the first and second floor windows done already some years back.) The basement was labour-intensive and I felt like I was holding down two jobs, but I did get some help by hiring a couple of neighbourhood youth (at or above the youth minimum wage.) When it came time for drywalling, I hired some tradesmen. I took digital photos at each stage, and presented before-and-after album to the inspector who verifies the work for the government rebates. He said mine was the best-documented job he'd ever inspected 8-) And yes, our heating bill was considerably lower the next winter - but then, the weather was a good deal milder too, so I don't have a clear read on how much good this did yet (I should probably do some math involving degree-days.)

Once that huge job was done, I had some actual leisure to catch up on reading, both fiction and non-fiction. I'm a pretty voracious reader, and now with e-books my ever-growing pile of pending 'must reads' extends into cyberspace (and forks between Kobo, Kindle, and Goodreader... sigh. I realised today I have a problem remembering which e-book space a given unfinished title is languishing.)

So when I started looking over my website, I found a lot of links had gone stale. First I reviewed my list of sources - links back to the original documents from which I noted who had signed which statements and letters. Sadly, several more of these had gone missing; fortunately each lost document is still housed at, so I've updated my links to that. I don't actually understand how they pay for this free service, and I got to wondering what will happen to people like me if that site ever goes under. {Tangent} Even worse would be the loss of a site like, tinyurl, or any of the big URL shortening services. If one of them simply folded without donating their existing link base to the public good, a *whole* lot of web content would start to unravel. Just try not to think about this... {/Tangent}

Next I went back to my big long list of names, citation stats and website links for authors. I thought of several new tidbits to start collecting: who has a Twitter account now? (32 found so far, many more to come I'm sure.) Who is written up at Wikipedia? (a column I started some time back and am just getting rolling on filling out.) Who has ties to coal, oil & gas interests? Who has an author profile page at Google Scholar? (Neat new feature, solves the problem of separating an author's own works from those of others with similar names; also shows Google's results on handy stats like h-index) Who is written up in SourceWatch or in DeSmogBlog's reference database? 

After going back to data entry mode for a number of days, I thought I'd look at the scripts I use to extract the data from Excel, format it for both HTML and JSON/jquery, and sort and summarize the results. I enjoy this kind of coding immensely, but I hadn't run this for quite some time and had to get my bearings a bit. After getting errors from code I know I used okay at the last batch run, I realised I'm not supposed to run it under Solaris, but on a Linux host. I found the code in perl's Spreadsheet::XLSX module doesn't like when your spreadsheet contains any formula error warnings - so I learned to use the "Review errors" button in the Formulas tab. (Turns out I'd just type a stray letter into a column where numbers belong, which another cell referenced in a calculation. Clear - problem solved.)

Finally I had phase 1 of my script back up and running. I decided to activate the routine I'd added to check all the URLs for broken links as they are imported. This takes a lot longer, but with two years since the last pass, they really needed re-checking. 

The results were stark. Some 25% of URLs I collected in 2009-10 have gone 404 in the intervening two years. A large majority of the URL base are on academic websites. I guess everyone feels compelled to "improve" their sites with a big re-org once in a while... sigh. Lots of manual searches to see what new paths everyone got reorged off to. Here are the specific numbers:

Finished URL checks. Found 3029 okay, 1153 broken

I checked URLs for homepage and mugshot photo that I'd collected. I may just give up on trying to have a photo link for each person, though I thought that was nice to include. It's just a lot of added search time that might be better spent on other tasks.

I see I'll also want to add an option to my script to verify the other types of URL I've started gathering: Wikipedia, DeSmogBlog, Sourcewatch, and implicitly any Twitter handle can be formed into a URL for the person's Twitter profile. These at least should have a lot less turnover than the university homepage ones turn out to do.

Watch this space for more on this big push, including a "top climate science tweeps" report - some really big names are showing up on Twitter now. It's quite exciting.