by Pete Bonk
Now that it’s over it’s time to hear the rest of the story about the recent ACS symposium.
To recap the symposium/webinar, it went well. The technical glitches- feedback during the first talk by William Stewart, and an inability to get the “Chat” function to work with the online attendees, were rookie mistakes by me. In the room in Denver the sound was good, no lags even from Bob Carter far away in Australia.
Not to break any illusions, but the American Chemical Society, (ACS) as represented by the DC HQ folks, have not changed their CAGW official position.
The symposium came about from an internal grant I wrote in 2009 for the ACS Division of Small Chemical Businesses (SCHB) for a symposium that would challenge the existing ACS Public Policy Statement on Climate Change, [which was due to be reviewed in 2010].
It was a serious and well written proposal, but frankly, I was shocked that it was accepted. The grant was awarded for the maximum amount of $7500. I had planned for a traditional symposium at the Spring 2010 ACS meeting in San Francisco, but the additional ~$20K funding needed could not be obtained. Early this year the webinar format was selected as a cost effective way to have the symposium without the usual travel expenses.
Not everyone in the ACS or SCHB was especially happy with the idea of this symposium. It came about because I was able to get good speakers to participate in an unusual venue arrangement. The morning session was created as a counter balance to what I was trying to do.
During the recently concluded ACS meeting in Denver I did get a lot of interest from the ACS offices. The interest was both for the unusual webinar/symposium format as well as the content. The folks in the ACS Policy office have expressed a desire to do a “Point/CounterPoint” on this topic at a future meeting. I guess that is progress of a sort!
I knew many of the ACS HQ folks from the ‘Open Letter to the Board of Directors of the ACS” for which I had collected 150 signatures from current and former ACS members, asking that the Policy Statement on Climate Change be re-examined. I presented the letters and signatures to the CEO and other officers of the ACS in February 1st, 2010, about 3 months after Climategate broke. I could not get Rudy Baum, editor of “Chemical & Engineering News” [the magazine that goes out weekly to all 162,000 ACS members] to publish the Open Letter, after an earlier promise to do so.
Despite the “Official” ACS Policy there are many chemists that are skeptical of the ACS position. As chemists few work in climate science, but all of us know about radiation, kinetics, solubilities and heat capacities, etc. We all have our views, but few of us have an immediate financial interest in climate work.
So, no, despite this symposium, it does not reflect a significant change of the official ACS party line. At the Heartland Institute 2nd ICCC in NYC in March 2009, Professor Lindzen had suggested that scientists who found themselves at odds with their professional societies should leave those groups. I decided to try and change things from within. I can’t say I have been successful, but I have been persistent!
What I have found is that most scientists take a much more nuanced view of what we do and do not know about climate than those who deal mostly with policy.
The two symposia held by the ACS Division of Small Chemical Businesses in Denver were meant to focus on the science, not policy. While not perfectly adhered to, the science was predominate in both events.
The full afternoon symposium that Prof. Curry participated in was recorded via the GoToWebinar package. I am reviewing it now and will make it available as soon as I can after returning from an overseas trip. The morning session was recorded by the ACS, and I will find out if/when that recording will be accessible to non-ACS members.
On a personal note, it was a lot of fun (with a dollop of stress) putting this together. To collaborate with folks one has never even met, halfway around the world, is amazing. It was very cool that Prof. Curry posted the event on Climate Etc. and let the group comment/edit/nitpick on her upcoming presentation. Even the light blogging during the event was fascinating to observe.
I am going to work to bring this live symposium/webinar format to more ACS meeting symposia; certainly other scientific societies could also do this as well.
I have put some personal information on the “Denizens” post. I am also running for the General Assembly in Rhode Island. If elected, I will work to get RI to withdraw from the RGGI compact. Send me a private message if you wish to know more.
Thanks again Prof. Curry!