Archive for the ‘Scientific method’ Category
Imagine you didn’t know anything about climate change and the greenhouse effect but were interested and you know a bit about general science. Would you accept the following story?
“Earth’s climate is a large, complex system, affected by forces that produce both linear and nonlinear responses. Shortwave radiation – basically UV – from the sun comes in and heats up the planet, producing infrared radiation. Some UV gets reflected straight back out by clouds, snow and ice and stuff. The land can heat up quite a lot, but it cools back down again and doesn’t store much. If a forest is cleared and replaced by buildings, it will warm up a bit but the effect is only local.”
“But the ocean – that’s another story. It absorbs a lot of radiation, so is taking up heat all the time. Huge streams of energy are entering and leaving the ocean store each year. Some is ‘dry’ or sensible heat, which is ordinary warmth. Some is ‘wet heat’ or evaporated moisture. Energy gets taken up when the moisture is evaporated and it will be released again when the moisture cools, condenses and then gets rained out. In this way, the oceans provide a lot of heat to the land every year, largely as rainfall and a bit of snow.”
Understanding Climate Risk has been in something of a hiatus, or a pause for the last couple of years due your host being almost fully submerged, but maybe it’s time to rise to the surface and get things going again.
This is for a few reasons. One is that research, especially public good research and especially in CSIRO, is under serious threat in Australia. We have a government who tout innovation, but who wilfully ignore the role of the generation of underpinning knowledge in fuelling such innovation. They are interested only in commercial innovation – public-good innovation is not only being ignored, it is being excluded from processes such as the Cooperative Research Centre bids currently under way. Having sustainable cities, catchments and ecosystems is impossible without public good research and social innovation, with funding that extends across the sciences, the humanities and the arts. With an election going on, these harms need to be publicised. Read the rest of this entry »
The following is a long post, but on an important issue.
Frontiers is an open source science publisher based in Switzerland. Their aim is to provide an open access, open science platform that empowers researchers in their daily work and where everybody has equal opportunity to seek, share and generate knowledge. They have started up a whole host of “Frontiers in” journals covering a wide range of subjects. They have also been linked with the Nature publishing group who is interested in the open access model Frontiers is developing.
So I jumped at the opportunity to be an associate editor of the newly established area of Interdisciplinary Climate Studies. The Editor in Chief is the Swiss climatologist, Professor Martin Beniston. An associate editor invites a panel of reviewers who review a collection of articles each year. The associate editor establishes their interdisciplinary area with a “challenges” paper to set the ball rolling. Their task is to encourage researchers to submit innovative papers exploring the frontiers of knowledge. Read the rest of this entry »
Elaine McKewon book-ended my letter to the editors of Fairfax papers The Age and Sydney Morning Herald regarding the publishing of John McLean’s error-ridden piece on the IPCC (the editors, by the way, have not responded) with a terrific take down of McLean in Crikey.
She questioned McLean’s byline on the original article, to whit:
“John McLean is the author of three peer-reviewed papers on climate and an expert reviewer for the latest IPCC report. He is also a climate data analyst and a member of the International Climate Science Coalition.”
asking “But is that accurate? Who is John McLean? What qualifications entitle him to speak as an expert on climate science? What is the ICSC, and which groups, interests and agendas do McLean and the ICSC represent? What exactly does it mean to be an “expert reviewer” of IPCC reports?”
The following statements are typical of the gradualist adaptation narrative:
- Within limits, the impacts of gradual climate change should be manageable.
- Therefore, climate change adaptation can be understood as: (a) adapting to gradual changes in average temperature, sea level and precipitation.
- Gradual climate change allows for a gradual shift in the mix of crops and to alternative farming systems.
So why are Gauss and Newton in the bath and Ed Lorenz in the hot tub?
Less than a fortnight ago, I wrote that those barracking for conventional scientific theories often maintain that science is not a matter of belief. Sorry guys, but assessing the probability of t (scientific truth) being T (absolute truth), is a matter of belief, as is anything that goes on in the mind regarding external evidence. But there is a difference between belief and true belief.
And then in a conversation with the Chief Scientist Ian Chubb on communicating science, with specific reference to climate science, The Conversation quotes him as saying:
“We scientists need to talk about evidence, and without being cornered into answering questions like ‘do you believe?’,” Professor Chubb said.
“I get asked that every day and every now and then I make a mistake and say yes or no…It’s not a belief, it’s an understanding and an encapsulation and interpretation of the evidence.”
Ian Chubb was speaking to the Royal Society of Victoria, which launched on August 30th a three-year program aimed at increasing the awareness of science among primary school children. And while I agree with most of what Ian Chubb says in his interview with The Conversation, the belief thing should be called for what it is – a full-blown fallacy.