Understanding Climate Risk

Science, policy and decision-making

Archive for May 2013

Mothballs

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Regular visitors will have noticed this site has been rather quiet for a long time – since late last year. This has been due to extreme workloads as I’ve been trying to complete several projects under conditions of significant duress. The cause of this duress has been people who sign contracts, then refuse to honour them. I got through it with much appreciated help from a few colleagues, who basically saved my arse – resigning was on the cards because I could not fulfill my obligations, having been let down by a number of people who failed to fulfill their commitments. Note: this has occurred across several projects in recent times, both in Australia and internationally.

This comes back to a broader problem of ethics in research, which I will write about in more detail at some stage. Suffice to say, I will not be entering any research projects based on trust in future, and will require people to sign codes of conduct that commit them to act ethically; shared ethics in research  apparently being a thing of the past.

Given the pressure on universities to obtain funds, it seems as if the central goal of many researchers is on receiving grants but not doing the work that entails. With the “efficiency dividends” now placing further pressure on both teaching and research in universities, it’s likely this situation will not improve in future. All universities have codes of conduct, but many young researchers seem to be unaware of them and some older researchers flout them shamelessly. They are mostly not enforced at the institutional level.

A further problem that has been brought to my attention via email, is where researchers take ideas and IP generally from people in practice and industry and publish them without acknowledgement. This is doing a great deal of damage to the academic research sector.

Readers who have been similarly affected are welcome to post their experiences in comments, but please be aware of libel laws in doing so. I’ll be working closely with a few people in an informal group of researchers and practitioners, started by a colleague, who agree to work collaboratively with each other, respect each others’ ideas and IP, openly embracing a broad ethical agenda. Email me if you’re interested – you know where to find me. There are one or two entire institutions I’m shy of due to repeat offences, so if I’m reluctant to engage, it might not be personal.

Edited 3:20 pm 27-05-2013

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Written by Roger Jones

May 27, 2013 at 8:20 am

Uncertainty no excuse for procrastinating on climate change

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Guest post by Roger Bodman, Victoria University and David Karoly, University of Melbourne

Today we released research which reduces the range of uncertainty in future global warming. It does not alter the fact we will never be certain about how, exactly, the climate will change.

We always have to make decisions when there are uncertainties about the future: whether to take an umbrella when we go outside, how much to spend on insurance. International action on climate change is just one more decision that has to be made in an environment of uncertainty.

The most recent assessment of climate change made by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007 looked at what is known with high confidence about climate change, as well as uncertainties. It included projections of future global warming to the end of this century based on simulations from a group of complex climate models.

These models included a range of uncertainties, coming from natural variability of the climate and the representation of important processes in the models. But the models did not consider uncertainty from interactions with the carbon cycle – the way carbon is absorbed and released by oceans, plant life and soil. In order to allow for these uncertainties, the likely range of temperature change was expanded.

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