Meta-Blog

SEARCH QandO

Email:
Jon Henke
Bruce "McQ" McQuain
Dale Franks
Bryan Pick
Billy Hollis
Lance Paddock
MichaelW

BLOGROLL QandO

 
 
Recent Posts
The Ayers Resurrection Tour
Special Friends Get Special Breaks
One Hour
The Hope and Change Express - stalled in the slow lane
Michael Steele New RNC Chairman
Things that make you go "hmmmm"...
Oh yeah, that "rule of law" thing ...
Putting Dollar Signs in Front Of The AGW Hoax
Moving toward a 60 vote majority?
Do As I Say ....
 
 
QandO Newsroom

Newsroom Home Page

US News

US National News
Politics
Business
Science
Technology
Health
Entertainment
Sports
Opinion/Editorial

International News

Top World New
Iraq News
Mideast Conflict

Blogging

Blogpulse Daily Highlights
Daypop Top 40 Links

Regional

Regional News

Publications

News Publications

 
Is Global Warming the result of clean air?
Posted by: McQ on Friday, May 06, 2005

Could be. Or it is at least enhanced by that per a new article in Nature:
Our planet's air has cleared up in the past decade or two, allowing more sunshine to reach the ground, say two studies in Science this week.

Reductions in industrial emissions in many countries, along with the use of particulate filters for car exhausts and smoke stacks, seem to have reduced the amount of dirt in the atmosphere and made the sky more transparent.

That sounds like very good news. But the researchers say that more solar energy arriving on the ground will also make the surface warmer, and this may add to the problems of global warming. More sunlight will also have knock-on effects on cloud cover, winds, rainfall and air temperature that are difficult to predict.

Note the last sentence. I've been saying all of this is so difficult to predict that perhaps the dire predictions of the "global warming" crowd aren't as scientifically valid as some would like to claim they are. This is just another in a long line of indicators that I'm probably right.

It is fairly ironic though that cleaning up our air is now seen as a problem.

UPDATE: Commenter "anondebus" reminds us that just a recently as January of this year, scientists were convinced we had exactly the opposite problem:
We are all seeing rather less of the Sun, according to scientists who have been looking at five decades of sunlight measurements.

They have reached the disturbing conclusion that the amount of solar energy reaching the Earth's surface has been gradually falling.

Paradoxically, the decline in sunlight may mean that global warming is a far greater threat to society than previously thought.

[...]

Dr Stanhill called it "global dimming", but his research, published in 2001, met a sceptical response from other scientists.

It was only recently, when his conclusions were confirmed by Australian scientists using a completely different method to estimate solar radiation, that climate scientists at last woke up to the reality of global dimming.

Dimming appears to be caused by air pollution.
Note their highlighted scientific assumption.
 
TrackBacks
Return to Main Blog Page
 
 

Previous Comments to this Post 

Comments
You are confusing two different phenomenon which have an effect on global climate. Albedo, the amount of sunlight that is reflected back into space; and the greenhouse effect.

Particulate standards were never put into effect to help reduce the risk of global warming, or the more correct term "global climate change". Particulate standards have typically been for health related reasons and to cut down on smog in major cities. The real culprit of global climate change is greenhouse emissions, which are another issue entirely.

This is just another case of those with a limited understanding of the science or concepts presented making unsupported conclusions... Much like the people who claim about how global warming is bunk every winter, and complain about it during the summer. Such a lay knowledge of the issues at hand shouldnt have any real determination in environmental policy.

 
Written By: Rosensteel
URL: http://
This is just another case of those with a limited understanding of the science or concepts presented making unsupported conclusions.

Oooh, you’re so smart...

I believe that McQ was commenting more on unintended consequences. And you appear to have never dealt with complex systems.

 
Written By: Mark Flacy
URL: http://
Particulate standards were never put into effect to help reduce the risk of global warming, or the more correct term "global climate change"

As Mark points out, that’s not the point of my post, it is indeed the law of unintended consequences rearing its ugly head and again whacking the so-called experts in the keister.

And because that law continually shows itself in this context, and the complexity of the issue, I’ve found little convincing evidence (note I said evidence, not theory ... science is rife with theory on all of this) that those who profess profound expertice in this issue really have no clue. Had they the expertice they claimed, this factor would have been considered.

It wasn’t.

To this point, we have consensus science (which is no science at all) trying to tell us what it purports is fact, not theory.

Sorry, I ain’t buyin’.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
The real culprit of global climate change is greenhouse emissions
Um, and you know this for certain because...

Albedo certainly has a serious effect on temperature trends. If you are going to discount it and then claim people have a limited understanding of the science concepts, then how about providing a little evidence?

 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://www.qando.net
Had they the expertice they claimed, this factor would have been considered.
You are honestly expecting me to beleive that scientist have not considered the planets albedo in determining the possible effects of climate change?

Thats climatology 101.
Albedo certainly has a serious effect on temperature trends. If you are going to discount it and then claim people have a limited understanding of the science concepts, then how about providing a little evidence?
I have never argued that was not the case. I merely pointed out that particulate emissions standards were *NOT* implemented to curb global warming, but rather implemented because of health concerns and urban smog.
As Mark points out, that’s not the point of my post, it is indeed the law of unintended consequences rearing its ugly head and again whacking the so-called experts in the keister.
I fail to see how this has bit any "so-called experts in the keister" as you so aptly put it.

If anything though, I would agree about the law of unintended consequences. Which is the best reason I have ever heard of *for* environmental standards... We dont know nearly enough about these complex systems and how they work to determine what effects the changes we make will have or how bad they will be, and as such should avoid messing with the system as much as is possible.

Our existance afterall, and our economies, rely very much on the maintenance of the environmental status quo. We really dont want things to change very much in any direction.
 
Written By: Rosensteel
URL: http://
If anything though, I would agree about the law of unintended consequences. Which is the best reason I have ever heard of *for* environmental standards..

No one is arguing AGAINST environmental standards. No one. In fact, the irony here is this story is the RESULT of environmental standards.

But your acknowledgment of the law of unintended consequences only underscores the point I’m making.

Science, to this point, doesn’t have a clue as to what all the componets to this issue are much less how they all interact to create change. It has made assumptions based on gross (and obviously incomplete) computer simulations and come to conclusions which are constantly have to be revised, added too and changed.

To pretend their theories comprise "fact" is simply folly.

But again, that doesn’t mean anyone is arguing *against* rational environmental standards. Its simply an argument which states that to this point science doesn’t really know how this all works, what future changes will be and any claim to the contrary seems patently false.

And that, given this story, seems to be plainly true.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
Earlier this year (?) there were reports of less sunlight reaching the surface. here is one link
 
Written By: anomdebus
URL: http://
I think you guys need to realize that scientist arent some big amorphous group, and that everytime some group of scientist releases a new theory or a new peice of information dosent really mean much. We from our lay perpsective see all of this different research and claims and just assume that the scientific community is constantly reversing itself, when in reality its just a bunch of people sharing their theories and findings.

By the way is there any indication that the lowering of particulate emissions has actually to any signifigant degree lowered the planet of the albedo.. or for that matter regional albedo? My understanding is that the Earths albedo is mostly determined by cloud cover, snow cover, ocean size, and vegetation. It does strike me a bit odd that regional smog would be enough to signifigantly alter the earths albedo, which brings some doubt into the claim that the "clearer air" could actually contribute to global warming. Although the updated article seems to suggest that particulate emissions and pollution can in fact make such a difference. Are there any models to suggest that the difference is enough to have any effect, though?

From my readings on the matter the greenhouse effect is a fairly indisputable phenomenon, and there have been recorded global temperature increases in the past hundred years. Now we can obviously debate if those temperature changes are a result of the greenhouse effect. We can obviously debate what effects global temperature increases can ultimately have. As far as I can tell though the two previous facts (effect of greenhouse gases and recorded temp changes) are more or less indisputable at this point.
 
Written By: Rosensteel
URL: http://
I think you guys need to realize that scientist arent some big amorphous group, and that everytime some group of scientist releases a new theory or a new peice of information dosent really mean much. We from our lay perpsective see all of this different research and claims and just assume that the scientific community is constantly reversing itself, when in reality its just a bunch of people sharing their theories and findings.

LOL!

Er, Rosensteel, that’s precisely my point. This is all theory and not very good theory in some cases. What I object to is the Chicken Little crowd who continually tries to present the global warming "doom and gloom" theories as fact.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
This is all theory and not very good theory in some cases. What I object to is the Chicken Little crowd who continually tries to present the global warming "doom and gloom" theories as fact.
Scientists present fact as fact; when their conclusions overreach their data, other scientists jump on them pretty hard for it, and rightly so. This blog’s pseudo-intellectual treatment of this topic implies that climatologists run their flawed models and present the results as though they were fact rather than theory. That’s simply not the case. There exist several different models constructed in very different ways. There are computational limits that do restrict the spatial detail of the models (dice up the atmosphere into lots of little cubes interacting from moment to moment and you’ll see how quickly the computations blow up). While far better than they used to be, they are by no means perfect; they do not yet factor in feedbacks between atmosphere and biosphere, for example. But when you say "This is all theory and not very good theory in some cases", I challenge you to name those cases where it’s not very good. In any case, these models result in somewhat different predictions but also a great deal of agreement. Does that make their "results" fact? Of course not. These models are then back-tested against climate history to see if their performance during periods with which they were not calibrated is reasonable. Their performance, as I suggested above, has improved a great deal. They are also run with and without known anthropogenic and non-anthropogenic drivers. The models’ performance is noticeably flawed if only one or the other is included; it best matches climate when both sets of drivers are included. Does that make their results fact? No. And finally, observable climatic trends are tracking reasonably well the predictions generated by various models. Here in Alaska, temperatures are considerably warmer now than they were in the 1970’s. We’re currently enjoying one of the earliest summers on record, and last summer we had a record 6.7 million acres of forest burn. The major commercial tree species, white spruce, is showing signs of serious moisture stress by growing less during warm periods. And the list goes on.

These observations, model comparisons, paleoclimate comparisons, and so forth are just a tiny fraction of the accumulated evidence on climate change, and they do not conclusively prove that anthropogenic climate change is an absolute fact, let alone its magnitude or distribution across the globe. Nevertheless, the preponderance of the evidence has convinced not only scientists who might "lean green" but many who have approached it (quite properly) with a great deal of skepticism that the human contribution to changing climate is real and important.

The bottom line of this rant is that folks should actually learn something about this before decrying the best climate science we have as clueless "doom and gloom theories".
 
Written By: David in AK
URL: http://
This blog’s pseudo-intellectual treatment of this topic implies that climatologists run their flawed models and present the results as though they were fact rather than theory. That’s simply not the case. There exist several different models constructed in very different ways. There are computational limits that do restrict the spatial detail of the models (dice up the atmosphere into lots of little cubes interacting from moment to moment and you’ll see how quickly the computations blow up).

Good lord, do you always overreach like this?

The "pseudo-intellectual" treatment consisted of pointing to the impact of the law of unintended consequences and an update which showed conflicting data. Both stories, however, treated the findings as unequivocal fact and more "gloom and doom" from global warming.

More sunshine. Less sunshine. Both mean the end.

You don’t see the humor or irony in this?

Nevertheless, the preponderance of the evidence has convinced not only scientists who might "lean green" but many who have approached it (quite properly) with a great deal of skepticism that the human contribution to changing climate is real and important.

Good grief, a third grader could tell you that David. Its not whether there is an effect, its how MUCH of an effect. No rational person will argue that man (or other elements in nature, such as volcanos) don’t have an effect. Its the degree of effect that is in dispute.

And that degree is not clear at all at this point.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
The bottom line of this rant is that folks should actually learn something about this before decrying the best climate science we have as clueless "doom and gloom theories".
You might not want to rely on the UN’s scientific reports too much.
Here in Alaska, temperatures are considerably warmer now than they were in the 1970’s....the human contribution to changing climate is real and important
According to the Alaska Climate Research Center this has been seriously exaggerated. It may even be misleading if you consider the warming blip in 1976-77, according to this article:
Twenty-two of the thirty individual locations defining Alaska’s temperature history show either no warming trend or a significant cooling trend after 1977. Nor does the USNA’s Alaska record show a meaningful man-made warming trend in the period beyond the Great Pacific Climate Shift of 1976 - 1977. Those facts contradict the predictions from the climate simulations.
and this article:
As for the warming in the 1970s - the Great Pacific Climate Shift - climatologists consider the shift as part of a natural pattern of climate change that is related to conditions in the northern Pacific Ocean. It is part of a pattern that has been observed for over 100 years, so it predates the period of any substantial increase in the atmospheric level of man-made carbon dioxide. In other words, that warming is not related to man-made climate change.
David, you add
This blog’s pseudo-intellectual treatment of this topic implies that climatologists run their flawed models and present the results as though they were fact rather than theory. That’s simply not the case.
Or, maybe it is the case?
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://www.qando.net
If people want good records of sunlight levels they need only ask the ag department at the U of I, and I suppose most other ag schools around the world. The U of I has been keeping careful records of sunlight going back probably a hundred years or more, for obvious reasons.
 
Written By: Tom Bridgeland
URL: http://
More sunshine. Less sunshine. Both mean the end.

You don’t see the humor or irony in this?
No. There is some apparent irony, but dig a little deeper and the apparent conflict disappears. Meanwhile, the net result of such arguments is the residual thought in readers’ minds to the effect of "oh, those crazy scientists". I think it’s therefore a bit insidious.
Its the degree of effect that is in dispute.

And that degree is not clear at all at this point.
That’s true. But that begs the questions: How big is big? And what level of certainty of that would be required in order to justify serious (and likely international) efforts to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions?
You might not want to rely on the UN’s scientific reports too much.
I looked briefly at your two citations. While interesting, I also note that neither appeared to have been subjected to the peer-review process that undergirds scientific credibility; that stands in stark contrast to the IPCC report, which in each iteration has been reviewed exhaustively. If one does not require the peer-review criterion for such evidence to be met, then we are on a very steep and slippery slope to everyone having a right to their own "facts".

The "blip" you cite as the "Great Pacific Climate Shift" is referred to more often here as a "regime shift" because that step change in climate is still very much with us. Last summer, over 6.5 million acres of forest burned in Alaska, shattering the previous record of 4.7 million set in 1957 (believe me, it was miserable to live through). Around Fairbanks, novel insect pests like aspen leaf miner and spruce budworm have been infecting trees at extents unprecedented in recorded history; on the Kenai Peninsula, the largest outbreak of any forest insect pest ever decimated the white spruce population there largely owing to the milder winters and longer summers we’ve experienced. Rates of glacier melting are also up. Ignoring that step up in temperature, or worse yet subtracting it out (as your reference demands), makes no sense except in terms of understanding where the warming has come from (a few rapid increases vs. a long monotonic trend). Even if the proximate cause for the regime shift is the North Pacific Oscillation, one can’t infer that it is independent of greenhouse gas driven climate change. Indeed, the drivers for it and other oscillations (the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, the familiar El Nino Southern Oscillation, and others) are not well understood.
This blog’s pseudo-intellectual treatment of this topic implies that climatologists run their flawed models and present the results as though they were fact rather than theory. That’s simply not the case.
Or, maybe it is the case?
The most valuable thing to scientists is their credibility, without which there would be no reason to bother going to work. By and large, they treat it as such; the exceptions tend to prove the rule. As a result, you’ll rarely find a scientist making an absolute statement of fact based on their findings; indeed, learning how to say "it depends" a lot is something of a rite of passage in graduate programs. Second, peer review is a brutal process. Reviewers pounce on any opportunity to show that an author’s conclusion was not actually supported by his or her results. It is not a perfect system, but it’s the best one ever devised for methodically building knowledge. Calling into question the integrity or competence of nearly the entire international community of climatologists, many of whom disagree with each other on many other issues (scientific and otherwise) based on a couple of websites is actually the height of relativism: "my truth is just as good as theirs".
 
Written By: David in AK
URL: http://
I also note that neither appeared to have been subjected to the peer-review process that undergirds scientific credibility; that stands in stark contrast to the IPCC report, which in each iteration has been reviewed exhaustively.
Actually, the author of the report I cited first, Dr. Vincent Gray, is one of the scientists who was asked by the IPCC to be a reviewer.
I sent 97 pages of comments on the First Draft of the IPCC Third Assessment Report to the IPCC WG1. I have carefully gone through the Second Draft to find whether my comments were accepted. In many cases I have been agreeably surprised to find that they were. In some cases a comment that a particular section or paragraph was unnecessary did even lead to its removal. I feel I bear partial responsibility for some of the extensive rewriting.
The second citation about the "hockey stick" error, which was used by the IPCC, has been written about extensively in the scientific literature. I just don’t feel like spending a lot of time going through any journals.
you’ll rarely find a scientist making an absolute statement of fact based on their findings
You’re right. But the policy makers don’t have a problem stating it. And you have to admit that scientists who depend on their findings to support further funding are not free from human error and bias (hence your point of peer reviewing).
the height of relativism
Your apparent belief that scientific reports issued by the UN are free from the relativism of politics is a little naive.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://www.qando.net
The true opinion of the IPCC scientists is to be found in Chapter 1 of Climate Change 2001, page 97:

"The fact that the global mean temperature has increased since the late 19th century and that other trends have been observed does not necessarily mean that an anthropogenic effect on the climate has been identified. Climate has always varied on all time-scales, so the observed change may be natural."

But this opinion got buried, thanks to the need for consensus.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://www.qando.net
Sorry, I hit the wrong button before I was finished with my post above. I was trying to point out what the report David linked to actually says. (In case some people don’t bother to read the last link I made.)
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://www.qando.net
Actually, the author of the report I cited first, Dr. Vincent Gray, is one of the scientists who was asked by the IPCC to be a reviewer.
Being asked to give one’s opinion is one thing; having one’s work subjected to review is quite another. Gray has a PhD in chemistry, and appears to have published most of his thoughts on the internet instead of the peer-reviewed literature. And they are lame—for example, it took my about 30 seconds to find the following in the link you provided: When the IPCC report states in a footnote that it will use the term "climate change" as shorthand for anthropogenic climate change for the purposes of the report, Gray reacts with the statement
So, there we have it. Our governments have signed a treaty on our behalf which asserts that all changes in the climate are caused by humans. Without us, the climate would be unchangeable, subject only to "natural variability". It can vary but it does not change. What nonsense!
Nonsense indeed, but it is entirely Gray’s. None of the scientists writing the report think any such thing. Until someone taking Gray seriously can show me a peer-reviewed paper of his in the climate literature, he’s a mere crank as far as I’m concerned.
Your apparent belief that scientific reports issued by the UN are free from the relativism of politics is a little naive.
First, science is an inherently human activity, and is therefore fraught with human foibles. That said, it is designed to be self-correcting, and does a very good job of it by and large. And that process has worked for the IPCC reports, of which there have now been three major iterations. Second, the IPCC reports may have been issued by the UN, but they were written by an international team of pre-eminent climatologists. You are disparaging them, not the UN. Third, the TCS page you cited (and then quote in your following post) is lame and disingenuous. It is lame because it decries consensus as if something else were better. A consensus’s strength comes from the very conservative nature of it—it pretty much keeps the fringe ideas out and the broadly agreed upon science in, complete with statements of uncertainty. It is disingenuous because the quoted statement is simply not true because TCS pulled it completely out of context. It was part of an introductory section laying out what actually needs to be done in order to attribute climate change to human activities (i.e., temperature change alone is not enough). The report then goes on to do precisely that. I linked to the entire report in my first post, go download the PDF of chapter 1 and see for yourself. Thus, JWG, the actual report makes it very clear that the statement quoted by TCS is not in any sense the "true opinion" of the IPCC scientists about the bottom line of the role of human activities in climate change, and TCS discredits itself by engaging in such a deceptive practice.
 
Written By: David in AK
URL: http://
he’s a mere crank as far as I’m concerned
Then why would the IPCC ask for his opinion? Why would they change aspects of their report based on his opinion? If I am to accept your low opinion of him, then my confidence in the IPCC’s decisions isn’t getting any higher!
the actual report makes it very clear that the statement quoted by TCS is not in any sense the "true opinion" of the IPCC scientists
You’re right. The next paragraph outlines it even better:
[T]here is still considerable uncertainty in the magnitude of this natural climate variability. The SAR concluded nevertheless, on the basis of careful analyses, that "the observed change in global mean, annually averaged temperature over the last century is unlikely to be due entirely to natural fluctuations of the climate system".
The point he is making is that they admit that temperature increases "may be" natural even though they think human activity probably has some effect. It is the politicians and environmental activists who have made the absolutist claims. He clearly stated in the article that
All scientists would agree, with the IPCC, that humans influence the climate, but the IPCC statement cannot be interpreted to mean that a relationship between greenhouse gases and climate has been established even if many have done so.

All the statements in the various "Summaries for Policymakers" are similarly non-committal. It is the price paid for consensus.
Also, I did not "disparage" any group of scientists. I clearly stated that "policy makers don’t have a problem stating" facts based on scientific reports. However, even your "international team of pre-eminent climatologists" has not corrected all of their graphs and conclusions, as I pointed out originally with the "hockey stick" error. Go to the bottom of this page to see the published work of the scientists who actually took the trouble to analyze and correct the flawed data used by the IPCC.

Lastly, although I have gone to the trouble of pointing out peer-reviewed works of some of the authors to whom I have linked (since you asked), you might be interested in this case study about the flaws in the peer-review system.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://www.qando.net
Then why would the IPCC ask for his opinion? Why would they change aspects of their report based on his opinion? If I am to accept your low opinion of him, then my confidence in the IPCC’s decisions isn’t getting any higher!
It actually shows the IPCC in a very good light—they’re asking for the opinions of someone known to be highly skeptical. As for whether his review caused changes, I don’t know how he can know that. During the review process, several reviewers are consulted, and often they notice and highlight the same weaknesses. So he could say that the IPCC report changed in ways consistent with his concerns, but his portrayal of himself as the he who must be obeyed is a bit overblown.
The point he is making is that they admit that temperature increases "may be" natural even though they think human activity probably has some effect. It is the politicians and environmental activists who have made the absolutist claims.
Clear communication about environmental problems in the face of uncertainty is always a quandary. The focus has to be on the best estimate and the range of uncertainty—and naysayers seize on the potential overstatement of the problem, while others could equally justifiably seize on the potential understatement of the problem. On top of that, of course, every decision we make, whether as a person, corporation, or government, entails uncertainty. So yes, it’s possible that the large increases in greenhouse gases are causing feedbacks that nearly cancel each other out, and observed climate changes are entirely natural. It’s also possible to win the lottery, or get struck by lightning, etc.; but we make decisions based on the weight of evidence—and in this case, the evidence is about as strong as it can be given the state of the sciences, and getting stronger. The other issue is how unimportant average temperature is compared with closely allied phenomena, like frequency and duration of temperature extremes, changing growing season lengths, changing sea ice extent, and all of the consequent impacts on natural and human systems.
Go to the bottom of this page to see the published work of the scientists who actually took the trouble to analyze and correct the flawed data used by the IPCC.
Thanks for that link—I’ll have to study that. My one comment at this point is that it is not clear yet whether this can truly be called an error rather than a debate. As for the flaws in the peer-review system, I would tend to agree with the reviewers in the case study—the comment’s point appeared to be worth making, but had rather a low substance:verbage ratio. The authors of the original article probably should submit an erratum to clear it up.

The peer review system isn’t perfect, but it’s hardly the censorship machine Daly makes it out to be. Reviewer anonymity is essential to avoiding reprisals (a junior scientist critically reviewing a paper by a senior scientist should not have to risk his/her career for it). Some journals have gone to a double-blind system, where the authors are not revealed to the reviewers. And I’d argue that the free flow of ideas on the internet (what we’re doing here) actually makes the peer review "gold standard" all the more important. For example, the same argument is now going on over "intelligent design", for which the proponents have yet to publish a peer-reviewed paper. Is it censorship? Or is their science flawed? I think it’s pretty clearly the latter, but if they could successfully make the case that the "evolution industry" censored their science via the peer-review process, then they could win some credibility among the gullible over the internet.

Having said that, I will acknowledge the major flaw in the peer-review system that is germane to this argument is one that Thomas Kuhn wrote about in his book "The Structures of Scientific Revolutions". That was the origin of the term "paradigm shift", which occurred when enough evidence counter to the prevailing paradigm accumulated that it finally collapses to be replaced by a new paradigm. To some extent, the peer review system contributes to the maintenance of an old paradigm, but most academics have read Kuhn and are aware of the dangers of propping up an old paradigm. Indeed, the fondest dream of most academics would be to be the one whose work successfully challenges prevailing wisdom or topples the dominant paradigm. Similarly, scientists are not trained to be herd animals—they’re a bit more like cats. Each seeks the respect of his/her peers by publishing ground-breaking work; they don’t get famous by being "yes men". Thus I think there are good reasons to maintain confidence in the peer review system (always with an eye toward ensuring fairness or otherwise improving it) and similarly good reasons to view dimly the criticisms by those who have not been able to publish through it.
 
Written By: David in AK
URL: http://
it is not clear yet whether this can truly be called an error rather than a debate
I’ll agree to that.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://www.qando.net
David, I’m sorry to keep beating this horse, but I came across some Senate testimony from 2001 that you may find interesting. This particular blurb comes from Dr. Richard Lindzen, one of the authors of the science sections of the IPCC report:
The burden of proof has shifted to proving that the computer prediction is wrong. Such an approach effectively deprives society of science’s capacity to solve problems and answer questions. Unfortunately, the incentive structure in today’s scientific enterprise contributes to this impasse. Scientists associate public recognition of the relevance of their subject with support, and relevance has come to be identified with alarming the public. It is only human for scientists to wish for support and recognition, and the broad agreement among scientists that climate change is a serious issue must be viewed from this human perspective. Indeed, public perceptions have significantly influenced the science itself. Meteorologists, oceanographers, hydrologists and others at MIT have all been redesignated climate scientists indicating the degree to which scientists have hitched their futures to this issue.

That said, it has become common to deal with the science by referring to the IPCC ’scientific consensus.’ Claiming the agreement of thousands of scientists is certainly easier than trying to understand the issue or to respond to scientific questions; it also effectively intimidates most citizens. However, the invocation of the IPCC is more a mantra than a proper reflection on that flawed document. The following points should be kept in mind. (Note that almost all reading and coverage of the IPCC is restricted to the highly publicized Summaries for Policymakers which are written by representatives from governments, NGO’s and business; the full reports, written by participating scientists, are largely ignored.)
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://www.qando.net
JWG— Kudos for some excellent links—thanks for those. Clearly Lindzen adds a healthy critical voice to the climate change debate, and his is an opinion less easily dismissed as others owing to his acknowledged expertise in the field as evidenced by his excellent publication record and admission into the NAS. I would still venture to disagree with him on a few points where he strays out of climate science into other areas—e.g., why he calls the precautionary brinciple "bizarre" or on what basis he claims warmer nights and winters are on the whole beneficial. There are benefits to climate change for some (most models suggest that U.S. agriculture will do well, for example), while others will suffer (the Inuit is one major example, inhabitants of low-lying areas are another). And he seems to skip right over the fact that not only are subtle temperature changes being detected, but so are fundamental changes in the mass balance of most glaciers, lengths of growing seasons, number of extreme temperature days, and several other more obvious phenomena consistent with model predictions based on anthropogenically driven climate change. Lastly, however, I agree with Lindzen that almost all of the reports in the media are derived from the summaries rather than the full reports. That’s a shame, given how readily available they are (see my earlier link).
 
Written By: David in AK
URL: http://

 
Add Your Comment
  NOTICE: While we don't wish to censor your thoughts, we do blacklist certain terms of profanity or obscenity. This is not to muzzle you, but to ensure that the blog remains work-safe for our readers. If you wish to use profanity, simply insert asterisks (*) where the vowels usually go. Your meaning will still be clear, but our readers will be able to view the blog without worrying that content monitoring will get them in trouble when reading it.
Comments for this entry are closed.
Name:
Email:
URL:
HTML Tools:
Bold Italic Blockquote Hyperlink
Comment:
   
 
Vicious Capitalism

Divider

Buy Dale's Book!
Slackernomics by Dale Franks

Divider

Divider