Noted ...Jerry----- Original Message -----From: Geoff OlynykSent: Saturday, October 09, 2010 2:17 PMSubject: RE: [cdn-nucl-l] Hal Lewis' resignation from American Physical Society---climate change "incontrovertible"
Bjørn Lomborg is trained in political science and officially teaches as a statistician, but has been studying the costs and benefits of climate change mitigation for a decade now. It seems rather silly to me to reject anything he has to say because he is “just an economist”, or “just a political scientist”. Who is more qualified to speak on cost–benefit analyses of climate change mitigation and adaptation, a just-graduated Ph.D in atmospheric hydrodynamics, an eminent physicist from USCB, or an economist/political scientist who has been studying the costs of climate change mitigation since the late 1990s? (The answer, of course, is “unknown”, since you should not reject or accept someone’s viewpoint based solely on a line on their resume. Any of those three could have intelligent or idiotic things to say.)
Prof. Lewis is right to be steamed about the way the investigations into the leaked CRU emails went. All five investigations basically sidestepped the real questions and wrote off some clearly irresponsible behaviour as just heated discussion or normal internal conversation. Ross McKitrick wrote a good summary, available here: http://rossmckitrick.weebly.com/uploads/4/8/0/8/4808045/rmck_climategate.pdf. I know, it’s McKitrick, so many people won’t even consider it worth reading, but just read his list of the five main concerns arising from the leaked emails (at the bottom of page 4). I think you’ll find them quite reasonable. And then read any of the five investigations and see if you think those concerns were addressed.
At the same time, for Prof. Lewis to call the predictions of climate change a “scam” (wait, sorry, it’s not just a “scam” it’s “the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist”) is to go way beyond any real-world evidence, even if you read the entire body of the leaked CRU emails (or even, as is more common, a carefully-chosen subset of them, curated by Watts or Montford or one of the other skeptic bloggers). I am more skeptical of catastrophic climate change than many of my colleagues, but my concerns are not that it’s a scam or that the scientists involved are just looking to keep that sweet, sweet grant money flowing; my concerns are mainly with data transparency/openness, and external (adversarial) auditing of code, especially for the GCMs.
Climate prediction is subject to large uncertainties, both inherently and due to our limited knowledge. However, the potential downside is very, very big, and due to the way our brains think about risk and prioritize the short term over the long, our political system seems to be unable to properly respond to the problem. Can you blame the APS and other such organizations for erring on the side of caution in their statements? Now, with that said, reducing our emissions of CO2 will be far from easy, which has been Lomborg’s point all along. “The Skeptical Environmentalist” has got to be the single most-criticized book ever by people who haven’t read it. Lomborg never “denied” climate change, he just said that if we’re thinking about spending five trillion dollars reducing CO2 emissions, maybe we should do a cost–benefit analysis of CO2 mitigation vs. feeding the third world, or finding a cure for AIDS, or working on making sure everybody has access to clean water instead.
But again, for Prof. Lewis to outright call it a “scam” is to impugn the integrity of a very large number of scientists at many independent institutions. Are there a lot of people out there who are scared of a 7° C temperature change, and so downplay the uncertainties more than they should? Almost certainly. There are at least a few careers that the leaked emails should have ended, had the inquiries done their job properly. Yes, maybe it would be good if we could all simmer down a bit and think about a technological response instead of just a knee-jerk “shut down industrial civilization to reduce CO2!”. But sending out public resignation letters saying “The Climategate letters prove it’s a scam!” is unscientific and irresponsible of Prof. Lewis, and maybe the APS is better off without him.
Yes I heard about this reversal.
Is Lomborg a renowed physics scientist?
I thought he's a political "scientist" and statistics expert.