Sunday, December 31, 2006

AGW leaves Geophysicists Cold at AGU

I passed on my copy of Michael Crichton's "State of Fear" to Eric "Sciguy" Berger over at the Chronicle a few weeks back. We had talked off and on about how I thought he should give the book a read, if only for a sense of balance to his strong AGW stance. He not only read it, but posted a review to his blog, to which Dr. J posted a link to a blog post at the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research at the University of Colorado at Boulder about the recent meeting of the American Geophysical Union in the comments. This post, and the comments that follow, are pretty long but well worth reading. The poster, Dr. Kevin Vranes, is a respected Physical Oceanographer that has moved from the hands-on science world to the policymaking realm. He senses that the climate sciences have overplayed their hand, overselling fear, uncertainty, and doubt, in an effort to get more people to pay attention. But there is a backlash amongst many in the climate sciences that feel that such overselling has hurt them by undermining the credibility of the science. There is one commenter, Bob Ferguson there that drives a stake into the heart of the IPCC report, showing that the policy making summaries for each chapter of the report bear little, if any, resemblance to the limited and uncertain data submitted by the scientists that worked on the chapter that it supposedly summarizes.
To Quote:
“Dr. Lindzen is proud of his contribution, and that of his colleagues, to the IPCC chapter they worked on. His pride in this work matches his dismay at seeing it misrepresented. "Almost all reading and coverage of the IPCC is restricted to the highly publicized Summaries for Policymakers which are written by representatives from governments, NGOs and business; the full reports, written by participating scientists, are largely ignored," he told the United States Senate committee on environment and public works in 2001. These unscientific summaries, often written to further political or business agendas, then become the basis of public understanding.
“As an example, Dr. Lindzen provided the committee with the summary that was created for Chapter 7, which he worked on. "Understanding of climate processes and their incorporation in climate models have improved, including water vapour, sea-ice dynamics, and ocean heat transport," the summary stated, creating the impression that the climate models were reliable. The actual report by the scientists indicated just the opposite. Dr. Lindzen testified that the scientists had "found numerous problems with model treatments -- including those of clouds and water vapor."
“When the IPCC was stung by criticism that the summaries were being written with little or no input by the scientists themselves, the IPCC had a subset of the scientists review a subsequent draft summary -- an improvement in the process. Except that the final version, when later released at a Shanghai press conference, had surprising changes to the draft that scientists had seen.
“The version that emerged from Shanghai concludes, "In the light of new evidence and taking into account the remaining uncertainties, most of the observed warming over the last 50 years is likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations." Yet the draft was rife with qualifiers making it clear the science was very much in doubt because "the accuracy of these estimates continues to be limited by uncertainties in estimates of internal variability, natural and anthropogenic forcing, and the climate response to external forcing."
The fundamental foundation of scientific theory is questioning everything. Question your data. Question your methodology. Question your conclusions. AGW proponents however do not WANT their data or their conclusions or their methodology questioned. They accuse anyone who does as being a "denier" as if questioning scientific data is the same as questioning the occurrence of the holocaust. This is the antithesis of scientific theory. AGW may well be true in some form or fashion. And yes it makes sense to do what can be done REASONABLY to combat it, but there is a very large gray area that comes into play when you try to decide what is reasonable, the basis of which must include bounded risk assessments with dollar values attached. AGW is not black and white science, and the policies to address it cannot be either.

2 Comments:

Blogger Dave said...

I just read your blog on global warming. I agree that science needs to be questioned but to be demigogued as a denier is just over the top. I have my own ideas about global warming and they don't involve man heating the atmosphere to critical heat.

January 05, 2007 3:32 PM  
Anonymous EricPWJohnson said...

Well Ted Danson said it was so who cares what 1,000 or so Geophysicists and so called scientist think cause Ted he knows

Eric

January 06, 2007 3:56 AM  

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