The Times They Are A-Changing
Published on: February 17, 2010
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  • Luke Lea

    I love that “remains undiminished,” as if the findings of this very young science were not very much a work in progress. The uncertainty in climate sensitivity — how much climate will warm in response to a doubling in CO2 — has certainly remained undiminished for the past 40 years: 3 degrees centigrade plus or minus 1.5 degrees, i.e., between 1.5 and 4.5.

    And even that range has always been based, not on an accepted model, but on a poll of climate scientists’ best subjective guesses, given everything they don’t know.

    It’s all spelled out in the IPCC reports — the ones written by the scientists themselves I mean, not the executive summaries. Why don ‘t reporters bother to read them. They are written in plain English and available on-line.

    I might add that there is nothing in the hard statistical data as of yet that absolutely rules out a climate sensitivity closer to 1 degree centigrade or even slightly less, even though that is outside the range of majority opinion.

    So yes climate science remains undiminished.

  • Luke Lea

    And speaking of undiminished, that applies even more to our understanding of the costs and benefits of reducing CO2 emissions.

  • chris s

    World class NYT-Quote: “Set against the bulk of the panel’s work — for which it received a Nobel Prize in 2008 — these errors seem small, the result of sloppiness, not deliberate misrepresentation.”

    Sure, who wouldn´t excuse sloppiness in the stuff that is fit to print?

    The IPCC received its Nobel in 2007, not 2008.

  • Andy

    “The Climate Action Partnership lost three major corporate members yesterday as BP, ConocoPhillips and Caterpillar announced they were leaving the alliance of corporations pushing comprehensive climate change legislation.”

    What?! How can that possibly be? I thought all big corporations were in favor of poisoning our air, sinking our cities beneath boiling waves, and raping Mother Gaea! And since all those big corporations are pushing CC legislation, just who is funding those meretricious denialists?

  • Luke Lea

    Here is the opening paragraph of a review in The American Scientist:

    Misuse of Models
    Carl Wunsch

    Useless Arithmetic: Why Environmental Scientists Can’t Predict the Future. Orrin H. Pilkey and Linda Pilkey-Jarvis. xvi + 230 pp. Columbia University Press, 2006. $29.50.

    What happens when an immature and incomplete science meets a societal demand for information and direction? The spectacle is not pretty, as we learn from Useless Arithmetic, a new book that describes a long list of incompetent and sometimes mindless uses of fragmentary scientific ideas in the realm of public policy. The troubling anecdotes that authors Orrin H. Pilkey and Linda Pilkey-Jarvis provide cross diverse fields, including fisheries management, nuclear-waste disposal, beach erosion, climate change, ore mining, seed dispersal and disease control. Their extended examples of the misuse of science are both convincing and depressing. The book is a welcome antidote to the blind use of supposedly quantitative models, which may well represent the best one can do, but which are not yet capable of producing useful information.

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