Archive for Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Climate science a ‘contact sport’

Scientist discusses confusion surrounding global warming

Climatologist Stephen Schneider is pictured Monday at The Oread hotel. Schneider, a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and also part of a group that won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, spoke at Kansas University’s Burge Union about his book, “Science as a Contact Sport: Inside the Battle to Save Earth’s Climate.”

Climatologist Stephen Schneider is pictured Monday at The Oread hotel. Schneider, a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and also part of a group that won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, spoke at Kansas University’s Burge Union about his book, “Science as a Contact Sport: Inside the Battle to Save Earth’s Climate.”

May 4, 2010

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Stanford professor talks climate at KU

A Stanford professor and author spoke to students at Kansas University about the politics behind climate change Monday. Stephen Schneider believes science is a full contact sport. Enlarge video

In the midst of last fall’s global warming scandal known as Climategate, Stephen Schneider released his book “Science as a Contact Sport: Inside the Battle to Save Earth’s Climate.”

Climategate spewed from the leak of more than 1,000 hacked e-mails that showed leading climate-change scientists questioning what to do with climate data that didn’t conform to previous models showing the Earth’s warming.

The controversy couldn’t have highlighted Schneider’s message better: Science is a brutal sport that comes with harder blows than football.

“It is more like hockey with no rules and no refs and you want to sharpen the blade and hit someone in the head,” Schneider said in an interview Monday morning before speaking to a full crowd at the Gridiron Room in Kansas University’s Burge Union.

A professor at Stanford University, Schneider is a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that received the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for its reports on the Earth’s warming. He also published a report in the early 1970s that predicted the Earth was going to enter a cooling period because of human-made pollutants.

“I figured out in the next two years why that was wrong. And I am to this day very proud of having been the first person to publish what was wrong with my own stuff. That is what we do with science,” Schneider said.

When talking about climate change, Schneider said the public has to sift through messages from three groups: Scientists who bury their messages under lengthy caveats; special interest groups who spin those findings to their benefit; and the media who have reduced their staffs of science and environmental reporters and given equal time to all sides without weighing the relevance.

Adding to the confusion is the blogosphere, which drives an even larger wedge between arguing camps, Schneider said.

“Who gets lost in the middle? The public. And that is where we have a serious problem because there are serious risks, but they are not absolute certainties. And we have to make a decision on how much risk we want to take with our planetary life-support system,” he said.

The public should be deciding how to manage the risk, while scientists should be the ones assessing that risk, he said. And, those assessments aren’t often simple ones.

“Watch out for the myth busters and the truth tellers who (present) absolute truths. They are almost always spinning for ideological interests. They don’t know what they are talking about,” he said. “Good scientists are almost always talking in ranges and probabilities. That is hard stuff to translate into sound bites and get the public around.”

Comments

lounger 4 years, 11 months ago

This article says nothing. It doesnt side with one side, it doesnt endorse one side. Yes the earth is warming (kinda hard to have melting glaciers without it) and yes the info is hard to deny. But this has no spin at all-the very problem with science and special interests!!

Liberty275 4 years, 11 months ago

AGW is a lie. It's nice to see the "settled science" is no longer beyond reproach.

And the battle over slavery started in South Carolina, not between two groups of wack job kansas/missouri terrorists.

Chris Golledge 4 years, 11 months ago

True, we'd have a lot less problems with, let's say, 1/3 the current population, but since I'm not one to advocate reducing the population by 2/3, I mostly stick to advocating ways to mitigate the damage.

Here's a sad note on overfishing along the lines of what Toe says, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science_and_environment/10096649.stm

Chris Golledge 4 years, 11 months ago

Dang, how does one find out about these kinds of talks before they happen?

d_prowess 4 years, 11 months ago

I found Schneider's comments about the three sides of the climate issue to be the same situation we face with many issues in the world today, especially politics. There are so many social interest groups on both sides of the aisle that push their own agendas, it is almost impossible to sort through it all and decide what is right and what is wrong. And as for published scientific research, if there is no one unbiased to translate it to language that the average person can understand, you are again left only hearing from those with an agenda.

Chris Golledge 4 years, 11 months ago

The problem is not so much that there are no unbiased translations; there are. It's more that the average person doesn't understand Stefan-Boltzman, or the physics of absorption spectra of gasses, or even basic physics enough to be able to tell when they hear an unbiased assessment versus gibberish.

It's like if Joe Public were arguing about whether nuclear weapons would work in about 1939. I suspect even some scientists argued about it until 1945.

devobrun 4 years, 11 months ago

Science is test. Science is experiment. Science is gathering evidence, producing an hypothesis and testing, testing, testing.

Modern science has outpaced its own ability to test. It produces hockey games, football games and other full contact arguments because it has exceeded the ability to test.

It is a match of pontificaters. It is a test of public relations, press releases and celebrity endorsements.

Johnny Depp says turn down that thermostat because of CO2 produced in your flue.

Science was ruined when Rachel Carson published a book that was false. But it caused a great consternation in the world and new science admitted emotion to the endeavor. There is a notion in science today: I may be wrong, but look at the consequences!

Fear, guilt, and "awareness" were never part of the scientific process. But because they are now....we live in the age termed post-science.

Science has been replaced by assertion and emotion and manipulation of public perception. This is not your grandfather's science. And it is not helping people the way it used to, either.

Why has it become so contentious? Because it is so fruitless. The application of modern science is at the behavioral level. There are no new products for your access, if you want them. No sir, the modern science field is implemented at the level of government imposition. No wonder it has become so political. It is probabilistic, nuanced, top-down imposition of assertions and guilt trips. Newton and Galileo, and Descartes are rolling over in their graves.

devobrun 4 years, 11 months ago

When Ike warned of the military-industrial complex in his farewell address, he also included another warning. He warned of the relationship of government to research.

Do military people go to work for contractors? And do contractors get jobs in the government to oversee military projects? Yes and Ike warned of the too cozy relationship between them.

The same thing happens at university research labs and government agencies other than the military. People go from university researchers to NIH, NASA, to EPA. Back and forth the "peers" read the papers, write the papers, review the papers and science happens gradually in spite of the peer process, not because of it.

The office of unending research funding the corporation for useless results.
"Exciting news today from the Office of Insignificant Research (OIR). Seems that 73.588% of the U.S. population gets hungry 3 times a day, on average, maybe."

And everything causes cancer. And none of it is of any use, except to manipulate your fears so that the government can sweep in and save you from yourself.

No thanks, gubment, we're all full up here. Go next door.

Shardwurm 4 years, 11 months ago

My grandparents left me asbestos and dependance on oil. I'm leaving my grandchildren plastic and global warming. It's how it works.

BigPrune 4 years, 11 months ago

The Nobel Prize has become a joke, what with Barack Obama winning for doing absolutely nothing, Al Gore for spreading lies and using Hollywood trickery to scare people in his movie - I like how he just bought a seaside mansion recently - so much for rising oceans.

MojoCatnip 4 years, 11 months ago

Yes, climate change is a hoax. Much in the way that processed food doesn't contribute to obesity, smoking tobacco doesn't contribute to your risk of cancer, and wearing a seat belt won't help save your life in a collision. I think all things that require me to think critically, sacrifice, empathize, or communicate effectively should be called hoaxes.

...oh, and I also love the way that those that deny science still want to derive the benefits from science, much like those that disagree with government spending still want smooth roads.

drake 4 years, 11 months ago

You should have stopped with your first sentence. The rest is babble.

Tom Wilson 4 years, 11 months ago

He is simply saying to keep an open mind for all sides. Absolutests on all extremes have time after time been made fools of by history. He knows climate change is in a perpetual cycle. Few history teachers ever mention the fact that the temperatures in the 12th century were a full 5 to 6 degrees warmer than today's norm. From that warming cycle, record crops and virtually no wars were noteable results in western Europe...enough to see European countries band together and march off on the crusades. Glad to see this highly esteemed professor has not taken "the sky is falling...and the only thing that will stop the sky from falling is to pay more taxes" attitude.

Tom Wilson 4 years, 11 months ago

He is simply saying to keep an open mind for all sides. Absolutests on all extremes have time after time been made fools of by history. He knows climate change is in a perpetual cycle. Few history teachers ever mention the fact that the temperatures in the 12th century were a full 5 to 6 degrees warmer than today's norm. From that warming cycle, record crops and virtually no wars were noteable results in western Europe...enough to see European countries band together and march off on the crusades. Glad to see this highly esteemed professor has not taken "the sky is falling...and the only thing that will stop the sky from falling is to pay more taxes" attitude.

Tom Wilson 4 years, 11 months ago

He is simply saying to keep an open mind for all sides. Absolutests on all extremes have time after time been made fools of by history. He knows climate change is in a perpetual cycle. Few history teachers ever mention the fact that the temperatures in the 12th century were a full 5 to 6 degrees warmer than today's norm. From that warming cycle, record crops and virtually no wars were noteable results in western Europe...enough to see European countries band together and march off on the crusades. Glad to see this highly esteemed professor has not taken "the sky is falling...and the only thing that will stop the sky from falling is to pay more taxes" attitude.

Michael Rowland 4 years, 11 months ago

Alright, I am going to reiterate this again to those who post here: if you do not have nor are not working on a climate-related PhD, your opinion on climate change means absolutely jack.

Also, those who question peer-review: guess where the drugs that save lives daily come from? Research that has been peer-reviewed. Every article that goes into Science, Cell, Nature, Journal of Cell Biology, New England Journal of Medicine and whatnot other journals are peer-reviewed. It's how science is published and accepted. And who reviews the findings? Other experts in the field. Why? Because it doesn't help to have someone that doesn't understand the methodology to review a paper. What do they look for? They make sure that the data presented and the analysis of such data supports the hypothesis. Normally they find holes in the logic and send back a list of such holes with suggestions as to how to close them. This way someone who hasn't been looking at the experiments for a year or two can check to make sure that the analyses work.

Michael Rowland 4 years, 11 months ago

Are you a scientist? Do you submit journal articles for a living? If you aren't then how do you know what peer review and current scientific methods involve?

Mike Ford 4 years, 11 months ago

I hope that the people here can meet the Gwetchin and Inupait people in Alaska, the people of the Maldives and southern Louisiana Cajun people I grew up near and tell them the loss of their habitats is a hoax. More people need to come face to face with the victims of their denial.

gr 4 years, 11 months ago

Don't know that much about those people.

Tell me, is the temperature change up there higher than what has been reported? I can't really believe 1-2 degrees would really cause a habitat loss.

By the way, what is the earth's temperature up to now?

devobrun 4 years, 11 months ago

Tuschahouma, the indigenous peoples of the earth lost their habitats the first time they took penicillin The first time they used a snowmobile. The first time they used a gasoline motor. The first time they built a shelter out of sawed lumber. The first time they used a down jacket or a mosquito net. The first time they flew to another island or to Fairbanks for a medical treatment that saved their lives. The first time they put a product, any product, on an airplane to be sold in the big city. The first time they read a book. The first time they added 17 and 13 and got 30. The first time they ate Twinkies. The first time they used a fishing line made of monofiliment. The first time they cooked on a stove. The first time they put on a pair of glasses so they could see, or sunglasses to protect their eyes from the glare. The first time that they wore a pair of denim jeans. The first time they got their teethe fixed so that they didn't have to just pull them out. Medicine, pure water, communications, transportation, tools, shelter, clothing, food, all western.

You are an ingrate. I have met some of the people you talk about. Some welcome the changes. Some are ingrates. You need to come face to face with the computer you are using right now and thank the western science and technology for it and the life you are living. Don't like it? Leave.

Chris Golledge 4 years, 11 months ago

10, 10 identical postings by Pilgrim2, Ha-Ha-ha, we love to count.

We've been over this before; got anything new?

Chris Golledge 4 years, 11 months ago

Myself? I've been fooled before, probably I'll be fooled again.

But, I do know more about science and statistics than Average Joe, and less than Schneider's target audience of that speech. So, I can appreciate the difficulty in convincing Average Joe of something based on stats, no matter the confidence level.

And, do you think that his audience doesn't know his reputation as an activist, or will blindly follow his advice? They know enough not to be fooled by each other. You haven't read too many battles taking place in journal articles if you think otherwise.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 11 months ago

We should all follow Pilgrim's example.

Just let greed be your guide, and you'll never be fooled by anyone.

Chris Golledge 4 years, 11 months ago

You know, forget having to know the science. It would be good enough if the average person could tell the difference between a logically consistent argument and one that isn't.

Example.

Denialist A: The earth has natural negative feedback mechanisms, for instance more clouds when it gets warmer, that will prevent a drastic rise in temperature.

Denialist B: The earth has gone through periods both much colder and much hotter than the current climate. Therefore, the CO2 that man is adding to the atmosphere is not causing the warming that we are seeing.

Bystander: Sorry, I don't understand why A's feedbacks did not prevent the temperature changes that B was talking about. (B's argument has it's own problems, but I'll leave it for now.)

There are three prevailing lines that denialists use: 1) It's not getting warmer. 2) OK, it's getting warmer, but humans aren't the cause. 3) Well, regardless of the cause, warming is good.

Average Joe should be able to see that these three are not compatible with each other.

Legitimate skeptics will argue about things like whether the arctic amplification is more a result of changes in albedo or increased energy import into the region, but the don't deny that temperature changes there are greater than the global average.

Meanwhile we've got posters on this site who think they know more than the hundreds (thousands?) of really smart people who have been looking at humanity's effects on climate over the last hundred years or so. By all means, please publish your work and enlighten the rest of us. As you are fond of pointing out, it only takes getting a couple of people to agree your work is not total BS to get it published in a peer-reviewed journal.

gr 4 years, 11 months ago

Just look at Iceland. Glaciers are melting, washing people away. Absolute proof of global warming. We must tax people more before there's none left to tax!

"who think they know more than the hundreds (thousands?) of really smart people who have been looking"

But if hundreds of really smart people aren't using logically consistent arguments, should we believe them or that they aren't using logically consistent arguments? How do we know they are really smart? Do smart people ever make mistakes? Or should you tell us which ones are using logically consistent arguments and which ones aren't? But then how do we know about you?

Chris Golledge 4 years, 11 months ago

Well, the annual net loss off of Greenland's ice sheet is equal about 3/4 of the flow of the Mississippi. Six years ago it was about 1/3 of the Mississippi. I know you said Iceland, but I don't see why Iceland's glaciers would be special compared to the rest of the world, outside of the current volcanic eruption.

Got anything in particular you think is inconsistent? You'll have to answer the remaining questions for yourself.

Chris Golledge 4 years, 11 months ago

And what the heck do taxes have to do with the physics of climate change?

What, you really think that 100 years ago the idea of AGW was formulated so that politicians could raise taxes today? I suspect there are easier ways for them to raise taxes.

gr 4 years, 11 months ago

Why do you say "climate change"? Isn't it global warming? Or do you hedge your bet so you can raise taxes no matter whether it be cooling or warming?

Easier ways of raising taxes? They've been deceptively figuring out ways to raise taxes for years without people really realizing it. Just look around you. Or maybe you are not aware of it....

Since you are so much in the know, what is the earth's current temperature?

gr 4 years, 11 months ago

But then maybe you are not in the know. If you don't know what the Earth's current temperature is, what it was, how would you know that it's warming? Because the "experts" told you so? If the "experts" say the king has a new set of clothes, would you automatically believe it?

Chris Golledge 4 years, 11 months ago

You know, here's the guy who said we might be causing another ice age because the particulates we are pumping into the air have a stronger effect than the CO2. Two years after he said that, he came back and said, sorry, I've been looking over the calculations, and I was wrong. Now, 30 years later, we have denialists who say, yeah yeah, there's a consensus now about AGW, but what about the 'consensus' back in the 70s that there'd be an ice age?

Ken Lassman 4 years, 11 months ago

Devo, Calling tuschkahouma an ingrate is both uncalled for and offensive. If you can't stay civil, stay off.

T. was suggesting that you look at the data: go to the habitat of the places where these folks have been living for centuries or even millenia and tell them that climate disruption is not occurring. Your list of things that western technology has developed was completely off-topic and did nothing to counter the data hitting folks every day in their homes. So what you are seeming to say is that their way of living more closely to the land is a type of resistance to the technologically complex western way of life that is changing the planet's climate and therefore they are ingrates?

Give me a break.

Or better yet: European settlers lost their western ways the first time they learned how to grow corn from Squanto so they wouldn't starve on the shores of the "New World" Or every time we eat a tomato, Or every time we eat squash, pumpkin, beans Or eat a turkey Or smoke a cigarette Or refer to the US Constitution (largely based on the Haudenosee (Iroquois) 7 Nations Rules Or .... Ingrates. Don't like it? Leave.

Flap Doodle 4 years, 11 months ago

There's no paper over here. Any got a carbon credit?

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