sticky note

June 14, 2007 at 9:44 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

I can tell you what Lindzen said about climate sensitivity, though I am only a member of the public, so you have to take into account I noted points that seemed bizarre to me with my limited level of knowledge. This is an extract showing how the story unfolded in my own words:

… OK. That was the end of his proof that the IPCC statement is useless and totally misleading.

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Next Lindzen remarked that climate sensitivity is crucial, but this is cannot be explained as an implementation of basic physics. References to John Von Neumann, Gerald North, and Jerome Schmidt followed.

(He spoke along some of the lines here, especially “change has been the norm in climate. And we’ve had models in recent years that can’t explain any of these major changes, we’ve had models that they can’t explain even shorter term changes. In a sense there’s no science. We know these models don’t have the physics of water vapour and clouds which are the major factors in these models determining their sensitivity to climate. They do not get regional forecasts rights, they do not get polar temps right, and I mean by big errors. I think to be fair to the scientific community over the years they have at least explored their assumptions and we now know that in the distant past and even in the recent past climate change and CO2 are not intimately connected, at least not in the sense that CO2 causes climate.”

By now, the audience realises there is more to climate science than the greenhouse effect which is popularly known as being explained by basic physics. Furthermore, they are beginning to feel they only have the barest idea of what is really going on. Lindzen cleverly cast doubt on the quantity and complexity of climate science, then treated the audience for the rest of the talk as junior faculty members who need an authoritative figure to set their thinking straight.)

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We were, of course, told that the greenhouse effect is a misleading misnomer that is widely understood in such simplistic terms as to be useless. More than that, the steps taken in modelling climate are, according to Lindzen, the wrong series to imply inevitability. …

I know scientists who attended the seminar, and I can ask them to verify what I heard. You have to email me if you want the complete story.

Lindzen was first to speak, so he obviously took the opportunity afforded him to frame the evening.

Next was Alan Thorpe. He was clear, calm, objective and informative—a scientist presenting science. He reminded me of most (not all) of my engineering tutors: no persuasion, just facts and apolitical analysis. He was authentic and straightforward, explaining cautionary notes carefully and completely, and stating facts as plainly as they are without any manipulative element whatsoever. Unfortunately, as I mentioned, Lindzen had already framed the evening, so on occasions Thorpe’s words appeared to reinforce some of Lindzen’s points about the numbers of uncertainties. The problem is that members of the public do not have a way of assessing uncertainties, so these can be played up as reasons to act (as in the attack on Iraq) or played down to justify further research and delay action (as in combatting climate change). Despite Thorpe’s reassurances that we know enough to take action now, and the models are improving all the time, and we have dozens of models and massive collections of data sets with which to cross-reference results, and the longer we wait we can see that our problems will worsen, his emphasis on the weight of the evidence, and his competency, were drowned out because of the way Lindzen set up the stage for Thorpe’s straightforward words in the first place.

I know of several students who changed sides as a result of Lindzen’s persuasive speech, and sceptics who were reinvigorated!

What drew gasps from the audience was Michael Meacher MP’s summing up from the chair. He is now a backbencher but had been Environment Minister, so was meant to know a little about this topic! During his introduction, he sounded proactive à la climate challenge and wanted to hear more about how to assess which actions should be taken. However, by the end of the seminar, Meacher summed up by saying that he thought we had all learned a lot more about the uncertainties—in fact, he himself had been completely unaware of the complexities involved in climate modelling—and so it was clear to him, as it would obviously be to others, that more time was needed for further research and debate, to avoid spending money unnecessarily. As I said, there was an audible inhalation (and I met no Norwegians, who excel at this), and scientists’ eyes rolled heavenwards when discussing Meacher’s summing up during wine time. It was clear Lindzen had worked his magic on Meacher. Worse still, I regularly note at meetings that people often parrot a chairman’s summing up (if they lack interest/comprehension of the details) because that is all they can remember. Shocking!

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3 Comments »

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  1. Despicable. For those that may have been influenced by Lindzen or other ‘persuasive’ speakers:

    Science does not assume that every variable in a system is completely understood. So highlighting vaguely-defined general uncertainties in science as a way of undermining scientists is the cheapest shot of all, beneath any credible debater.

    Besides, predicting climate change does not rely, per se, on having a thorough understanding of climate science. It relies on statistics.

    Science requires that results can be verified by independent testing; scientists use statistics as a mathematical discipline, not as a marketing tool.

    Statistics, not climate science, assesses probabilities.

    Statistics validates science – and we all do it intuitively every day, basing expectations on evidence and experience.

    So, assess some evidence for yourself – over 2,500 such results from varying models tested by many independent members of the public (including me) can be seen at climateprediction.net.

    Those results represent a tiny fraction of the supporting evidence. If skeptics have anything comparable with even just the initial climateprediciton.net results (and I mean in terms of independence, too), I’d really like to see it. Otherwise, they have no credibility, are wasting time, and probably our lives.

  2. Inel, can you confirm what Stoat heard, that L supposedly acknowledged climate sensitivity of .5-2.0C?

  3. Following up Inel’s post with more thoughts:

    http://backseatdriving.blogspot.com/2007/06/lone-genius-or-quack-what-are-odds.html


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