by Judith Curry
A few things that caught my eye this past week.
Climate change and conflict
Researchers from Princeton University and the University of California-Berkeley who reported in the journal Science that even slight spikes in temperature and precipitation have greatly increased the risk of personal violence and social upheaval throughout human history. Perspectives on this include
The uncertainties in attribution/causal analysis on a topic like this seem overwhelming to me. The issue seems to me that any substantial deviation from the norm (e.g. recent memory), either hot or cold, wet or dry, or stormy or not, would cause problems if there are resource shortages. I’m sure it won’t surprise you that this topic is being hotly debated.
Papers on the pause
AGW Observer has a bibliography of papers on global surface temperatures since 1998, including abstracts. I’ve seen almost all of these papers, a few new ones here. In any event, it is useful to read all of these abstracts collected together.
RP Jr on Anti-Science
At the Breakthrough Institute, Roger Pielke Jr has a n article Against ‘Anti-science’ Tribalism. The article starts off with this statement:
As a corollary to Godwin’s Law, in which during the course of a debate a given argument is equated either with Hitler or Nazism, scientists and politicians have their own version that amounts to labeling a person “anti-science.” The phrase “anti-science” is meant to be a trump card in political debates, one that utterly ends the conversation and defines one’s opponent as illegitimate. What if instead we struck the phrase from our vocabulary and asked ourselves to reengage with the actual data, values, and arguments.
When I hear anyone use the phrase ‘anti-science’, it is like finger nails on a blackboard. I doubt that anyone in actuality is ‘anti-science’ in terms of being against the idea of science. Rather someone might have an incorrect understanding of the science on a particular topic (being stupid or ignorant does not imply anti-science), or more likely they object to a policy being pushed in the name of science by advocates who think that ‘science’ demands certain policies.
Pielke’s essay also brings to mind this essay on progressive anti-science, entitled Friends of the Earth hate clean energy and so does President Obama, which is a turnaround on the usual anti-science accusations.
Are climate skeptics the real champions of the scientific method?
With all the kerfuffle surrounding Tamsin’s article, there is another equally provocative essay published in the Guardian by Warren Pearce entitled Are climate skeptics the real champions of the scientific method? Well worth reading, it is also of relevance to RP Jr’s post and Tamsin’s essay. This sentence sums up his piece:
However, how can criticisms of sceptics as politically motivated be squared with science’s commitment to findings always being provisional and open to challenge?
Pearce is being called ‘young and naive’ by the knowledgable people of the twitosphere. It will be interesting to see if Pearce and Tamsin will be ‘forgiven’ for their ‘transgressions’ against the expectation that you not only toe the line scientifically, but also that you support the ’cause.’
I’ve decided to step up my engagement with the Twitosphere. I have stayed out of it until now, since I frankly didn’t ‘get’ it. But I now appreciate it as a source that points to new and interesting papers/blog posts etc., that can provide material for my blog. I am now tweeting my blog posts. I don’t have any particular interest in trying to build a big twitter following, but mainly want to use it as a pointer to new information/analyses. I’ve selected about a dozen people to follow; I would appreciate your suggestions as to who gives good tweets.