by Judith Curry
I’m in San Diego, with a few moments to catch up on the blog and share my impressions of my visit to MIT.
Here are some random musings from my visit, which I enjoyed very much. I’ll focus on topics that I think the Denizens might find interesting.
Lunch with students
I had lunch with about 10 graduate students, which was very enjoyable. Two of the students frequented the climate blogs, primarily Real Climate and other blogs on their blog list (one of the students reads my blog). The students that the read the blogs were much more conversant with broad range of issues surrounding climate science than those that didn’t read the blogs.
The students were interested in my interactions with the private sector, and my general impressions of opportunities and pros/cons associated with jobs in academia, private sector and government labs.
Meetings with faculty members
I had the opportunity for one-on-one meetings with six faculty members, each of which was very interesting in a different way.
Two of the younger faculty members frequently read the blogs, they were under the impression that the students were getting a lot of information from them (although this was not particularly the case of the students with whom I had lunch). Both tried to peruse a range of climate blogs (and frequently read Climate Etc). In terms of skeptical blogs, one faculty member mentioned that the main skeptical blog they visited was the Heartland Inst blog; was unaware of Climate Audit, Blackboard, WUWT, Bishop Hill, etc.
I did encounter an interesting item of academic gossip – Susan Solomon will be joining the MIT faculty in January.
Another interesting note. Last week, Susan Solomon gave EAPS’ other named lecture, the Houghton Lecture. Next week, for the regular seminar series, the speaker will be Mike Mann (who was invited by the students).
The final version of my presentation is posted uncertainty monster mit final
I would like thank all of you who provided constructive suggestions for my .ppt slides. There were about 100 people in the audience, and it was pouring rain which may have kept a few people away.
Overall, I was pleased with the seminar. Some minor technical difficulties with the computer jumping to the next slide everytime the computer was touched in any way. The seminar was about 10 minutes longer than I planned for. But I think it went well.
There was time for about a half dozen questions. The one technical question about the science was related to optimal fingerprinting methods, which I didn’t have time to delve into any detail, that would be a good topic for a future post. Several other questions were related to decision making under uncertainty. One person asked what could be done about the IPCC, since it seemed to be rather broken. My response was that I didn’t seen any signs of change, and that the only hope might be to put the IPCC under the auspices solely of the WMO.
One faculty member came up to me after the talk, and thanked me profusely for having the courage to say what I did, and said he agreed with everything I said, and hoped that our field could change its direction from the unfortunate path that we were on.
Note, Richard Lindzen was not on campus, apparently it was a religious holiday for him.
The most interesting discussions were at the reception following the talk. People were glad that I “stirred the pot” and got people thinking.
One faculty member thought I wimped out a bit on my answer regarding the IPCC, and thought that the IPCC should just be disbanded. This started a discussion on the IPCC. Ron Prinn related a very interesting story. Ron was a lead author on AR4 Chapter 2. He is a big fan of the Morgan et al. (2006) expert elicitation study on aerosol radiative forcing (mentioned on slide 30 of my talk), and in fact recommended to Morgan that he conduct this study. Prinn tried to get the Ch 2 group to include this paper in their chapter but they refused to. The argument was that they decided on their consensus approach, and didn’t want to confuse things with a different methodology (that happened to include a result whereby aerosol indirect effects in the 20th century might be -2.1 W m-2 or more, which is a value that is larger than the direct CO2 forcing in the 20th century (1.7 Wm-2). He was unable to get this study even included in the references, although he was a lead author.
My overall impression was that the audience was more than ready to hear my arguments about uncertainty. I received a strong impression that the really good scientists at MIT want to get away from the crazy situation that climate science has found itself in (largely owing to the IPCC) and get climate science back on track. Concerns were raised about the adverse effects of the politicization of climate science were having on recruiting students into this field.
So I think my message was well received, by an audience that does not have the reputation of being overly polite or shy about disagreeing.