Will the overselling of climate change lead to a new scientific dark age? That’s the question being posed in the latest issue of an Australian literary journal, Quadrant, by Garth Paltridge, one of the world’s most respected atmospheric scientists.I know this bothers some lefties, but scientists are people too--with all the foibles we mere mortals have.
Paltridge was a Chief Research Scientist with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO). The latter is Australia’s equivalent of the National Science Foundation, our massive Federal Laboratory network, and all the governmental agency science branches rolled into one.
Paltridge lays out the well-known uncertainties in climate forecasting. These include our inability to properly simulate clouds that are anything like what we see in the real world, the embarrassing lack of average surface warming now in its 17th year, and the fumbling (and contradictory) attempts to explain it away.
While the politically correct name for the last 17 years is “the pause,” it’s much more like the P-wave, which reflects the crustal slippage that occurs before the shaking (and tsunami, if beneath the sea) of a catastrophic earthquake. Humans can’t feel them, but many animals can, which is why birds alight shortly before all hell breaks loose.
Climate scientists have been profoundly defensive about the known problems. Paltridge elegantly explains that this has to be the case, and describes the likely horrific consequences when the day of reckoning finally arrives.
That day is coming closer, because, as Paltridge notes, people are catching on:
The scientific establishment has painted itself into a corner over global warming. Paltridge’s explanations for this are depressingly familiar to those who read these columns.“…the average man in the street, a sensible chap who by now can smell the signs of an oversold environmental campaign from miles away, is beginning to suspect that it is politics rather than science which is driving the issue.”
Science changed dramatically in the 1970s, when the reward structure in the profession began to revolve around the acquisition of massive amounts of taxpayer funding that was external to the normal budgets of the universities and federal laboratories. In climate science, this meant portraying the issue in dire terms, often in alliance with environmental advocacy organizations. Predictably, scientists (and their institutions) became addicted to the wealth, fame, and travel in the front of the airplane....
Tuesday, February 04, 2014
Global Warming Oversold?