by Judith Curry
A few things that caught my eye this past week.
Climate scientist loses faith in the IPCC
A few years ago, I was branded as a ‘heretic‘ for losing faith in the IPCC. Now another climate scientist has publicly stated that he is losing the faith. Who is this scientist? None other than Kevin Trenberth, in an interview with theage. Excerpts:
I think it will be less successful than the last assessment, and I think it will be blander – I’m disappointed in what I’ve seen so far.
But Professor Trenberth believes too many researchers and too much ”second tier” science are diluting the report’s quality, and that science has jumped far ahead of the lumbering process. ”There are more people, it’s more diffuse, it’s harder to gain a consensus – quite frankly I find the whole process very depressing,” he said. ”The science is solid, but with a larger group it’s harder to reach a consensus, and updates every six years are just too slow. After the fifth assessment, we should push on with a different format.”
”With the links between weather and climate for instance – we know they are there, but the specific numbers need work,” Professor Trenberth said.
Wow. Could it be that my faith in the IPCC process will start to increase? Mine seems to be inversely proportional to Trenberth’s.
U.S. politics and the greenhouse
Theage article mentioned Climategate as a causative factor in the decline of the saliency of the climate issue. Keith Kloor has an interesting article entitled The Greenhouse that takes a look backwards at statements made by previous presidential/vice presidential candidates, going back as far as 1988 and Dan Quayle’s statement of concern about the issue. Kloor argues that there has been a sharp change since 2008 (when McCain was concerned about global warming), and argues that the current situation in the Republican Party is:
an anomaly, owing largely to a confluence of circumstances stemming from the global financial meltdown and the rightward shift of the GOP. If the economy continues to rebound and severe weather continues to be associated with global warming, I bet the politics of climate change will soon return to what they were in 2008, when both major parties in the U.S. agreed that reducing greenhouse gases was an imperative.
Any bets on this prediction?
Explainer in Chief
Speaking of former U.S. Presidents, the Yale Forum has an article How President Clinton, ‘Explainer in Chief,’ Frames Climate Change. One of the quotes from Clinton:
“My strategy on [engaging deniers] is very simple. Some people who are climate skeptics are climate skeptics because it’s in their interest to be. They just want to preserve the old energy economy, and there’s not much I can do about that. But what I am trying to do, literally all the time, is to prove that saving the planet is better economics than burning it up. Not 10 or 20 or 50 years from now — [but] now. There are a lot of climate skeptics but their reasons are being chipped away…. There are a lot of people who have a different view. Their view is, ‘Look, this may be good, this may be bad. But God almighty the world is coming apart at the seams economically and we’ve got other fish to fry. We have to deal with other things.’ [For] those people, you must prove it is good economics to change the way we produce and pursue energy…. So what I do to try to overcome the climate skeptics is to figure out how to solve the financing problems, because fundamentally all the financing problems look alike. Whether you’re dealing with clean energy or energy efficiency, the costs are all up-front and the savings are all in the back….”
Bjorn Lomborg has an article in project-syndicate entitled Scary pictures. His main point:
Campaigners on important but complex issues, annoyed by the length of time required for public deliberations, often react by exaggerating their claims, hoping to force a single solution to the forefront of public debate. But, however well intentioned, scaring the public into a predetermined solution often backfires: when people eventually realize that they have been misled, they lose confidence and interest.
When scare tactics replace scientific debate, whether about GM crops or climate change, nothing good can come of it. We all deserve better.
Climate spin is rampant
Roger Pielke Jr has an editorial entitled Climate spin is rampant. Key excerpt:
Does it matter that campaigners and the media are actively peddling disinformation? For the most part, probably not, as the public is by now used to such nonsense on just about every subject from unemployment figures to Barack Obama’s birth certificate.
But there is one group that should be very concerned about the spreading of rampant misinformation: the scientific community. It is, of course, thrilling to appear in the media and get caught up in highly politicized debates. But leading scientists and scientific organizations that contribute to a campaign of misinformation — even in pursuit of a worthy goal like responding effectively to climate change — may find that the credibility of science itself is put at risk by supporting scientifically unsupportable claims in pursuit of a political agenda.
JC comment: This collection provides a wide range of perspectives. So who do you think is making sense? Trenberth? Kloor? Clinton? Lomborg? Pielke Jr?