Statements on Fact Checking and Editing of The Climate Pandemic

From Dr. Alka Tripathy-Lang:

I fact checked every word in the book that needed to be verified, which is almost every single word. If items were difficult to fact check (for example, when Dennis told personal stories), I fact checked what I could (e.g. what type of vehicle used when he toured that national park in Alberta with the retreating glacier), and I tried to note the stories that I/the reader would have to trust.

I also noted where it seemed like Dennis was editorializing, which he said he would be doing in the intro. If I felt that something was Dennis editorializing, I pointed it out.  I feel like it should be made abundantly clear what is fact and what is Dennis's (informed) opinion.

Every direct quote was checked, with the exception of those that I could not access (some books, and I believe one article? Anything I couldn't access was noted in the comments).

Dennis was great about annotating, so I checked to ensure that every time a reference was listed, it was relevant to that sentence or paragraph, and that if Dennis was paraphrasing, the paraphrase accurately conveyed what was in the article/website. If there was no reference listed to something, I either provided a reference or highlighted it. If the annotations for references seemed out of order, I highlighted those and requested they be clarified. The only thing I did not check was the references themselves because the list/numbers will change after the next round of editing.

I checked every number, and highlighted anything I could not verify. I also recalculated anything that Dennis calculated to ensure accuracy and order of magnitude.

All science and technical definitions were checked, and if a reference wasn't included for any explanation, I added one or requested one be added.

I checked all spellings of people's names and titles (in particular, what kind of -ologist or -ist they consider themselves to be), and I checked all location spellings, dates, etc (the easiest kinds of facts to check!).

With regard to the references, anything in the main text was checked (e.g. dates and titles/organization names). Anything in the reference list itself remains to be checked because, again, that will change.

Regarding the arguments Dennis made, if they seemed spurious or overblown to me after checking all the reference materials, or if an argument seemed to be missing some key component, I pointed it out.

I tried to disentangle some of the compilation paragraphs to ensure specificity for which part of the concept came from which source.

From Megan Sever:

Paper edit: I read the entire book on paper, doing first a substantive/developmental edit, making big picture notes on every section and every paragraph. I read the book for organization, structure and flow, coherence, clarity and tone and kept notes on paper throughout. Even more importantly, I read the book for the science.

As I read the book, I made notes about inconsistencies in style and substance (e.g., treatment of "sea level rise" or "sea-level rise" and whether the section on methane clathrates matched what he later said about storing carbon in them). I noted where paragraphs or sections needed to be moved, where parts should be condensed, and where parts should be expanded or unpacked. Where I could, I added that information myself with suggested wording and references. I noted where I knew of recent papers that disagreed with the text as written. I noted what might be missing, like a discussion of wildfires, nuisance flooding and the effects of Hurricane Harvey. I noted where things were awkwardly worded or too jargon-heavy for Dennis's intended audience.

Online edit: I re-read the entire book, line by line. I entered the substantive edits I had noted on paper and then I rigorously copyedited the entire book for grammar and consistency, as well as science. I moved paragraphs and sections; added in new research I found that called into question the text as written; and added new papers and ideas that further supported the text as written. I questioned where text needed to be explained further and usually offered replacement wording suggestions. I suggested places where Dennis should paraphrase poorly worded quotes and offered wording suggestions where I could.

I suggested changes to make the personal anecdotes stronger and connect more to the overall story (e.g., explaining the moment when this book idea came to him). I made sure it is abundantly clear what is presented in a scientific paper or report versus what is Dennis's opinion. I also suggested places where I thought Dennis could interject more of his well-informed opinion.

I checked any terms I did not know and added definitions (or asked Dennis to), as I figured if I didn't know a term, neither would his readers. I double checked the science. Because I knew a lot of the names of scientists he referenced, I was able to fix how he described some of them (e.g., calling someone a climatologist who is actually an atmospheric chemist). I asked a lot of questions about time frame: e.g., if Dennis said sea levels would rise 8 inches, I asked over what time frame, since timing is really important in climate science.

Finally, I discussed big-picture questions with Dennis, like who exactly his intended audience is, and worked a lot on tone and explanation so he can reach that audience. I offered suggestions to reach his goals like how to make sure the book isn't obsolete when published, given how fast climate science changes.