19 August 2006

Climatology: Little Boys Crying Wolf? A Seasoned Viewpoint . . .

The pronouncements of climate modelers, who don't do experiments, don't make observations, don't even confect theories, but rather [in my opinion] play computer games using huge programs containing dozens of separate components the details of which they may be largely ignorant, don't move me. I am much more impressed by direct evidence: retreating glaciers, longer growing seasons, the migration of species, rising sea level, etc.

I have lived long enough to have seen many doomsday scenarios painted by people who profited by doing so, but which never came to pass. This has made me a skeptic. Perhaps global warming is an example of the old fable about the boy who cried wolf, but this time the doomsayers are, alas, right. Maybe, but I can't help noting that some of the prominent global warmers of today were global coolers of not so long ago. In particular, Steven Schneider, now at Stanford, previously at NCAR, about 30 years ago was sounding the alarm about an imminent ice age. The culprit then was particles belched into the atmosphere by human activities. No matter how the climate changes he can correctly say that he predicted it. No one in the atmospheric science community has been more successful at getting publicity. NCAR used to send my department clippings from newspaper and magazine articles in which NCAR researchers were named. We'd get thick wads of clippings, almost all of which were devoted to Schneider. Perhaps global warming is bad for the rest of us, but for Schneider and others it has been a godsend.

The quote above is from distinguished physicist and meteorologist Craig Boren, as interviewed in USA Today. The interview is well worth reading, for a relatively objective and time-tested viewpoint on how science should be applied to climatology.

Boren brings out some of the complexities involved in the climate issue, which are almost completely ignored by media accounts of the debate. It is difficult for many non-scientists to adopt a scientific, objective viewpoint on such charged issues. It is far easier to become a "true believer" on one side or another. That is the monkey brain taking over.

Fortunately there are scientists who maintain websites, such as Roger Pielke Sr., and people of a statistical bent, such as those at Climate Audit, who look over the shoulders of the work of climatologists, to point out obvious errors and places where their zeal may have led them astray.

Hat tip to the fascinating blog, Climate Science.


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“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

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