Saturday, January 8, 2011

Interviews with and analysis of climate scientists' attitudes

  

There are growing efforts for studying climate scientists and their attitude, opinions and activities. These analyses are often based upon interviews, which are not meant for publication in a newspaper or other media, but merely as material for a, possibly comparative, analysis. I have now been subject to several requests to answer pre-formulated questions, and I publish the latest one in the following.


I welcome this tendency of looking closer at the actors on the climate change stage, who often like to present (and honestly consider) themselves as being objective and driven by entirely rationale and irrefutable motives.


1 – Climate Science and Political Power: birth of a new relationship
The climate issue has become very prominent in the political agenda and climate science results, methods and outcomes have taken a primary role in the political decision process. Why, in your opinion, climate science has become so important for political power?
My interpretation is that issues of quality of life, and this is to large extent related to the environment we live in, has become a dominant political goal of large chunks of the populace in the affluent west. Climate has become the most important environmental concern, maybe because concern about a “worsening climate” is an old cultural construct in the west, where the concept had flourished for a long time that a higher power would punish people for sinful behavior. The traditional sins have been replaced by sins against the environment in general and against climate in particular. Climate stands for all these problems, and the climate problem is easy to grasp, has simple answers, which are consistent with traditional knowledge claims.
Climate science is a convenient partner for policymaking – first because it resonates positively with the requests of the electorate, second it allows politicians to avoid accepting responsibility but to place responsibility on science – “science tells us to do this and that”.

When did this close relationship begin? When did the political attention on climate science become so relevant to make climate change issue a part of the global political debate? Could we say that there is a starting point for the relationship between political power and climate science?
This relationship began about 15 years after the emergence of the green movement, when the so far dominant conflict – the east-west-conflict – ceased. The climate problem is well suited for a global debate, because it may be framed so that almost all relevant problems, the north-south problem, inequality of development, injustice due to former colonialism, environmental degradation are included.
A time-wise specific“starting point” I would find difficult to set.


2 – Politics, Climate Science and money
In the second half of the 20th Century, political institutions in the G8 countries invested heavily into climate research. Do you think that the level of funding is actually matching the demands that come from the society at large and it is adequate to address some of the most pressing questions?
In principle, yes. There is some research included which is mostly “climate” by name only. The question is if the generous funding siphons funds from other fields, which would deserve better funding, given the seriousness of the issues (e.g., health issues)



3 – A new, vast and varied audience
This vast attention from the political power and the prominence of climate change issues in the international political agenda brought climate science on a global stage and climate scientists and their science are in the limelight. Results from laboratories and from computer simulations are catching attention not only by your colleagues, but even by decision makers, diplomats, business leaders and the public opinion. It is a very varied audience.
Did this new audience change the relationship between climate scientists and their own job?
For many it did mean a change in doing the “job”, because doing climate science was no longer an issue of “satisfying curiosity” – the conventional motivation of scientists – but also an issue of providing support for a policy, which is perceived “good” or needed. A few went that far that they became very vocal activists (e.g., Hansen), while for more it meant a dedication to a “climate protection policy”. A serious problem is, however, that many act a slight self-censorship by checking language, and assertions, for avoiding of being “misused” by “skeptics”.

Do you think they are able to influence a political decision, the public opinion, strategic and economical and financial decisions?
Yes.

Does this new influence affect the way in which a scientist looks at his job and his role in the society and among researchers?
For the most activist scientists, yes. Some feel that they not only have the right but also a superior insight, to tell policymakers what to do.

Do you feel there is any consequence in the professional relationships among colleagues?
Yes, the activist scientists have sometimes better chances in publishing in key journals such as “science” or “PNAS”, but also to hold important scientific positions in advisory government bodies. As a consequence scientists less engaged in the issue of man-made climate change, in particular those who hold fully or partly skeptical positions, find themselves sometimes marginalized.


4- Different languages
Politics and science use different languages, they obey different rules, pursue different aims.
How can these different worlds be able to maintain an effective dialogue on climate change? How can they find a common ground?
Ethnologically, the two groups indeed represent different “tribes”, with different cultures. They fulfill different functions in society. I think an effective dialogue is possible, but such a dialogue requires a mutual understanding of the other tribe’s culture, needs and language. Individual scientists as well as individual politicians have understood this need very well and have developed adequate approaches, but most scientists have difficulty to understand this challenge. I would guess that politicians are generally better practitioners of such a cross-cultural exchange, because politicians are generalists, but scientists are narrow specialists (Fachidioten is a German term).


5 – Key players
Who are the most important players, both scientists and politicians, in the history of the relationship between climate science and politics? Who did play the most important role in forging this relationship ? Who are the scientists or politicians that you shouldn't forget to cite if you are talking about climate science and politics?
You mean individuals? Bert Bolin would be a name, Stephen Schneider another, Jim Hansen, Hans-Joachim Schellnhuber and Hartmut Grassl in Germany – my view is certainly rather parochial. Al Gore in the US.

6 – Global Warming and Environmentalism
In the public debate, Global Warming issues always moves to the forefront of environmentalism. What do you think of this trend in the public opinion?
This tendency has its problems –as it downgrades the relevance of other environmental issues. If one big animal is dominating in the arena of public attention, the others appear as less relevant; however, while climate policy is pretty much a failure so far, the chances for having success with other problems may be large.


7 – The Public Debate on Global Warming
The debate on climate issues involves political power, international organizations, energy issues, economics and public opinion. Is this big attention good news for scientific research? Do you think that climate scientists and their science could benefit from such a vast debate which is involving scientists along with politicians, sociologists, economists, and so on?
The transdisciplinary character of the climate issue is certainly one of the attractive challenges of climate sciences. Surely, it is not easy, and the enormous public interest, as well as the usage of climate science as a political support for a certain policy, causes the whole field to be become “postnormal” (i.e., associated with large inherent uncertainty, with high stakes of various actors, and with different cultural values intertwined – according to Silvio Funtovicz’ and Jerome Ravetz’ concept.) In such a situation, policymaking and scientific knowledge generation begin to mix – to the disadvantage of both systems. Science becomes less scientific but more political, and politics becomes less political but more scientific. There is no “cure” to this phenomenon, but a broad discussion involving policymakers and the public may help to make things more transparent, allowing to identify which vested interests are involved how.

52 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dear Hans,

You write:

"I welcome this tendency of looking closer at the actors on the climate change stage, who often like to present (and honestly consider) themselves as being objective and driven by entirely rationale and irrefutable motives."

You seem to agree with Mr. Pielke Sr. and Dr. Judith Curry on this point? People speaking out what other people would never dare to say are often called "conspiracy theorists" (Anhänger von Verschwörungstheorien).

Am I right if I read in your blogpost words, that this bias really exists in climate science in your opinion?

Best regards

Yeph

Hans von Storch said...

Yeph, I did not want to imply that there would be going on a conspiracy or anything of that sort. I just wanted to say that many climate scientist really and honestly think that they are fully objective in their activities, and do not represent any social, cultural or other interests when they formulate their research questions, weigh the evidence or argue about climate policy.
-- Hans

Anonymous said...

Dear Prof. von Storch,

Point 6 deserves wider discussion.

What's about environmentalism in science itself?
How many of the climate scientists support (the more or less) the ideas and targets of a radical and totalitarian environmentalism?
Are at least some of the scientific institutions kind of "hijacked" by politically motivated environmentalists?

If the answer is yes, what does that mean for research, scientific truth and honesty?

Do we observe tendencies of totalitarianism and "milieu control"?

Here's an interesting essay on the subject - worth reading, written in 1961 by Robert Jay Lifton (standard disclaimer: any similarity to person or persons living or dead is purely coincidental).

http://www.rickross.com/reference/brainwashing/brainwashing19.html

German translation: http://www.agpf.de/lifton22.htm

Ralph

bigcitylib said...

"I just wanted to say that many climate scientist really and honestly think that they are fully objective in their activities, and do not represent any social, cultural or other interests when they formulate their research question..."

Just curious: which interests do you represent?

Hans von Storch said...

Bigcitylib: Good question. What do you think? Can you help me in identifying the interests, which drive me?
One issue, I am interested in is the ongoing utility of science as a mechanism for explaining a complex world (instead of religion, or other hegemonic ideological world views) - thus, I consider myself an advocate for (the process of) a healthy and sustainable science. I am also interested in a policy process, which is informed by science, but recognizes cultural values when taking decisions.

bigcitylib said...

And you feel that other climate scientists possess a religion/hegemonic world view of their work? Which ones? And how did you manage to transcend their crude ideology?

Hans von Storch said...

Hm, why do you say "crude"? And why"world view of their work"?

bigcitylib said...

Hans, I am trying to get at what you think distinguishes you from other climate scientists (who you haven't yet named). To me the above suggests that you think they are self-deluded, and that you have managed to transcend this self delusion. I'm wondering how you did it.

And which ones in particular have failed, are trapped in their religious view of climate science? I think thats an important question to answer because otherwise we are stuck at the level of Judith Curry, who suggests incompetence/malfeasance in every direction but won't provide details.

From my own reading of your work and your blog, I frankly don't see much distinction between you and a Mann or a Jones or whoever. Which is to say that your work criticizes/expands on theirs, and is in turn criticized and expanded upon. All par for the course.

Anonymous said...

@ Hans von Storch

Judith Curry refers to your post on her own blog.

There is an interesting debate going on ...

http://judithcurry.com/2011/01/08/politics-of-climate-expertise/#more-1877


Ralph

Marco said...

I'd like to support bigcitylib in his request for clarification. I tried to get Judith Curry to explain some of her large claims on her fellow scientists, others have tried the same, and we never got an answer. I sincerely hope you, Hans von Storch, can rise above that level of insinuations without evidence.

I'll also add my own request: please provide evidence that "the activist scientists have sometimes better chances in publishing in key journals such as “science” or “PNAS”, but also to hold important scientific positions in advisory government bodies."

sHx said...

@bigcitylib

Hans von Storch hasn't been arrested twice at anti-coal protests. He is not in the habit of opening up a barrage of fire at his perceived enemies in newspaper editorials,either.

Hans von Storch, along with Eduardo Zorita, Judith Curry and -perhaps- Mike Hulme are a few examples of 'warmist' climate scientists that do credit to their field.

One may disagree with them but -from the short time that I've been following them on the web- it is hard to find a fault in their honesty, integrity and objectivity. (I suspect, politically speaking, they are all lefties, which is good! So am I!)

James Hansen and Micheal Mann however are a different breed of scientists; a rather more problematic one.

The problem with James Hansen is that when he speaks, one never knows whether it is a climate scientist or an ideological purist that's speaking. Most sober scholars would be mindful of getting their objective and subjective pursuits mixed. Linguist and anarchist, Noam Chomsky, for example, is exceptionally meticulous in keeping his two great professional interests separate from one another.

James Hansen however is a scientist and ideologue in the same book, same article, same lecture, same sentence and same breath. He can be objective and subjective at the same time while occupying the same space. And he gets away with it marvelously. No one seems to pause and reflect how this is possible or whether it is a good idea at all.

As for Micheal Mann, the problem with him is that he actually believes that all that's happening to him has nothing to do with his sub-standard scientific practice at all, but because 'anti-science' Republicans, and other tobacco-chewing, anti-evolutionist TEA Party oil-shills hate him for speaking the truth about the impending global catastrophe. His case is more mental than political and the less is said about this the better.

Hans von Storch said...

Bigcitylib/8 - you asked
what you think distinguishes you from other climate scientists (who you haven't yet named). To me the above suggests that you think they are self-deluded, and that you have managed to transcend this self delusion.
I will not give names, because then it would lead to a discussion about specific people and not about the phenomenon.
If I am different as scientist, I do not know - one element may be the fact that I am working with social and cultural scientists since about 20 years, writing articles and books with such colleagues, have even published myself in social science journals. In simple words - I am aware of concepts such as "cultural construction". Also, my original background in mathematics allows me to easier deal with differently framed worlds - without reference to a concept of "truth", as physicists seem to need.

Marco said...

sHx: Those who have heard Jim Hansen speak have had no problem distinguishing the scientist and the citizen, as he makes it clear in what role he is saying things. But I'm sure you can prove me wrong by pointing to a lecture in which he is mixing the two positions without pointing this out.

Hans von Storch: great, another scientist willing to make claims tainting a large group of fellow scientists, supposedly because "the phenomenon" is more important than "the names". Sadly, we thus have no way of discussing whether "the phenomenon" is real, or whether it is merely the figment of someone's imagination.

eduardo said...

@ 13,

Marco,

I would say this is a good example: a lecture in a paleoclimate meeting titled '
Global warming time bomb: The path from science to action'

we can watch it here

You would probably think that 'he points that out'. I would say that such a lecture should not take place in a scientific meeting, even if it is public, and more so when the topic is paleoclimate. Is it a lecture to inform the public about paleoclimate ?

Tom said...

Honesty is a very bad metrics for evaluating opinions.
Stalin is quoted for having said in his inner circle "Hitler has a fundamental weakness compared to me. He really believes what he is saying."
This quote shows an important Stalin's insight insofar it demonstrates that honesty is just a matter of (consistent) beliefs but has no relevance to the workings of the "real" world.

Is Schellnhuber "honest" when he rambles about the "climate debt" and wants that we (you, me, everybody) pay 100 billions € / year to some other countries?
He may very well believe that and thus be "honest" but then, of course, according to Stalin it is his fundamental weakness because people (you, me everybody) will simply say "NO" and his brain will implode.
Same goes for Hansen.

How does this connect to scientific activities because these 2 examples believe being scientists?
Well there is no mental discontinuity between ideological and scientific convictions unless the person is clinically ill.
Obviously when these 2 pictures are strongly coupled like it is the case in climate "science" (e.g there is an ongoing climate catastrophe => we have a climate debt), then the self consistency of the brain demands that both be true.
So whether Schellnhuber is honest or not is irrelevant, the only conclusion may be that because his ideological beliefs are biased, his scientific beliefs have a strong probability to be biased too.
Personnaly I spontaneously don't trust Schellnhuber (just an example) regardless whether he talks about politics, economy or science.
Sure I am consistent and biased too. But I prefer my biases and the company of those who share them.

Tom said...

Honesty is a very bad metrics for evaluating opinions.
Stalin is quoted for having said in his inner circle "Hitler has a fundamental weakness compared to me. He really believes what he is saying."
This quote shows an important Stalin's insight insofar it demonstrates that honesty is just a matter of (consistent) beliefs but has no relevance to the workings of the "real" world.

Is Schellnhuber "honest" when he rambles about the "climate debt" and wants that we (you, me, everybody) pay 100 billions € / year to some other countries?
He may very well believe that and thus be "honest" but then, of course, according to Stalin it is his fundamental weakness because people (you, me everybody) will simply say "NO" and his brain will implode.
Same goes for Hansen.

How does this connect to scientific activities because these 2 examples believe being scientists?
Well there is no mental discontinuity between ideological and scientific convictions unless the person is clinically ill.
Obviously when these 2 pictures are strongly coupled like it is the case in climate "science" (e.g there is an ongoing climate catastrophe => we have a climate debt), then the self consistency of the brain demands that both be true.
So whether Schellnhuber is honest or not is irrelevant, the only conclusion may be that because his ideological beliefs are biased, his scientific beliefs have a strong probability to be biased too.
Personnaly I spontaneously don't trust Schellnhuber (just an example) regardless whether he talks about politics, economy or science.
Sure I am consistent and biased too. But I prefer my biases and the company of those who share them.

Anonymous said...

Dear Hans,

I would have liked Dr. Curry to post on this blog, like Mr. Pielke Sr. did. She gets the hits on her blog that you diserve. ;-)

You try to calm the waves, but we don't really know if there exist other climate scientists who share your views.

Doesn't this already mean, that they are afraid to speak out loud what they tell you anonymously when you make a survey or speak to them in private life.

I am convinced that some climate scientists have no problems to exaggerate for the sake of a better world. I am convinced that some of them feel like they are better men when they exaggerate and that this world needs urgent action to save our planet.

I must admit that I also think that some changes are to slow to prevent a worldwide catastrophe. But I think that honesty is more important and that people are disgusted by those who lie to them.

In my humble opinion this world needs exactly those honest brokers who correct the mistakes made by the fearmongerers.

But I still don't know if you just try to say that most climate scientists are honest when they speak about their fears or if you try to say that there fear is based on false assumptions, even if they are really and honestly afraid about the future. ;-)

Even if some of them are less dramatic, one has to admit that some of them are really hysterical.

(please excuse my bad English)

Best regards
Yeph

Georg Hoffmann said...

@Eduardo
Could you be specific what is your problem with Hansens presentation?

PAGES is an international science organisation, they have certainly somewhere in the list of theit duties "improving public understanding and blabla".
So I dont think that it is in contradiction to PAGES rules. Where is exactly the problem for you?

Hans von Storch said...

Yeph/17 - For clarification: I tried to say that most climate scientists are honest when they speak about their concerns. - Hans

Marco said...

Eduardo, this was a PUBLIC lecture! It was open to everyone, and as such not part of the scientific meeting. That you want to make it part of the meeting anyway tells me more about you than about the meeting.

I also find it quite funny that this IS a good example that Hansen does point out whether he speaks as scientist or activist, which was exactly my point.

Werner Krauss said...

I tried to watch the James Hansen video, and you know what? I fell asleep. In terms of rhetoric, this lecture is really forbidding, incomprehensible, sentimental and sometimes disturbingly absent-minded. Sorry for that, but I think this is generic in climate science (Fred Singer is even worse!). I wish Jerry Lewis were still alive; he would have done a much better job!

eduardo said...

@ 20

Marco,
well, the lecture was part of the meeting. it was delivered at the meeting and it is on the meeting web site. The fact that it is a public lecture, just means that it was open to everyone. I dont understand why you argue it was not part of the meeting.

@ 18 Georg
My problem with this lecture is that it is not a scientific lecture. Pages is a paleoclimate program. I do welcome that Pages broadens the public knowledge about paleoclimate. This lecture is not about paleoclimate, it is about Hansen's political views. He is of course entitled to express them somewhere else, but not in a scientific conference, in my opinion. Or should I held a talk against/for climate plans of Obama/Merkel/Sarkozy/whoever in my next EGU talk ? would that be permissible ? Not in my opinion.

Werner Krauss said...

@20 Eduardo

PAGES is part of the IGBP, and IGBP is not scientific for science's sake, in my understanding. In a draft for its vision it says:
"IGBP's vision is to provide essential scientific leadership and knowledge of the Earth system to help guide society onto a sustainable pathway during rapid global change.
The vision has three key elements: the planet, the planet under pressure, and transformation in an era of rapid global change."

In this context, it makes sense to invite James Hansen to give a public lecture. He serves as an interpreter of the above statement. It doesn't matter if you agree completely with him or not; he is a "concerned scientist", and IGBP in my understanding is a NGO that expresses not only scientific interest in the planet, but it also is concerned about the state of the planet. For example, they exert pressure on politics to take action, before global summits etc.

Scientific organizations have to refer to something; they need a common ground that gives them a reason to exist. The nod to the 'fragile blue planet', for example, which is not a neutral image, but a symbolic one. It reminds us of Gro Harlem Brundtland's famous speech of the planet in danger (in 1972?) etc; that is, it establishes a tradition. And the IGBP tradition is one of concerned scientists.
James Hansen's talk is a typical keynote to open IGBP conferences; it contains at least elements that bring in the moral dimension (in his talk, for example the photo of his grandson. This can be substituted or added by photos of floods, starving children, refugees etc). I attended only one IGBP conference, in 2001, and the keynotes all were clearly predecessors of Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth.

Georg Hoffmann said...

@Eduardo
"My problem with this lecture is that it is not a scientific lecture. "

2 points

1) Just because a politician in a speech on national security mentions nuclear physics and the quantity of critical material needed to build a bomb doesnt make his political speech to a scientific lecture. I hope my point is clear that this argument works as well in the other direction. For me this was a scientifico-moral speech in a public lecture in the framework of a conference. The audience is largely laymen (the introduction explains to the audience that those people with the badge are participants of a conf).

A talk for/against climate of Merkel/Obama/Sarkozy plans within a normal lecture at the EGU is not suitable to my opinion, a special public lecture for journalist and interested laymen explaining what are the consequences of such or such emission scenario(associated with suggested politics of Merkel/Obama/King Abdula) even together with the personal preferences of the speaker is no problem to me. Actually there are sessions like this at the EGU. If you want I look up the respective video links.

2) This is (as I said) a scientifico-moral presentation of an adult person to an adult and interested audience. We are not speaking of introducing pornographie or violent video games into the kindergarten. Everyone knows that Hansen is discussing science on the basis of his moral/political values (which are by the way politically conservative and from an ethical point of view religious values). I really cannt imagine that someone in the audience was brainwashed or took any damage from this presentation. I certainly would applaud a presentation like this from you or Hans in the same framework. Are scientists not allowed to discuss political views and consequences of their work among them and together with non-scientists? Scientists meet at conferences, so this is the best place to do that.

Georg Hoffmann said...

I had just the time to listen to the end of Hansens presentation with the Q/R part. Someone was asking for the carbon emission of the "industrial complex" and Hansen correctly associated this to the military (but might be the questioner had just "industry" in mind).
So Hansen made the nice reasoning that the US military is horribly carbon inefficient and that, under pressure by Obama, they are hard trying to improve that.
Might be in the near future we have a full carbon footprint of the military. Since the actual objective of the military in action are "number of people killed" we could compare the different armies by their "carbon emitted per person", per dead person of course.

Marco said...

Eduardo, do you consider the music event also "part of the meeting"? And do you consider it inappropriate? If not, why not?

Again, this was a public lecture. Open to everyone. Mentioned in the programme, but so are, in many cases, various non-scientific possibilities. I've been to my share of conferences with, in the programme, "spouse tours".

And finally, I know several universities which have obligatory courses on the specific field of science and its relation to society and 'politics'. I guess you don't consider that appropriate either? And if not, why is THAT suddenly fully understandable?

eduardo said...

@26 Marco,
I thunk you would be the only one equating Hansen talks to a music event in a conference. I thunk the difference is pretty obvious.But if you dont see it, you would also find appropriate that in the next PAGES meeting, Lindzen also gives a talk presenting his political positions on global warming, right? Or for that matter the Pope, or any ayatollah, as far as it is kept as public lecture ?

For me it would inappropriate as well.

Regarding your second arguments, there is also a difference between a course in European politics in the 20th century in a university, and a political rally of any color. Actually, that is the nub of the problem we are discussing: to inform or to convince. For me a scientist informs, as well as he can. A politician tries to convince, and there must be a strict separation between both tasks.

@ 24 Georg,
no, the argument does not go in the other direction.
There is a difference as well in Hansen's talk and a debate in one of the scientific meetings about political implications. If you opt for that framework, why invite Hansen to talk about impacts? is he an expert on climate impacts ?I do not think so.
If you organize a debate about options, as you suggest in 3) then invite several people defending different points of view, not just one, as in any political talk show.

Anonymous said...

Maybe that some people have lost their common sense at some point:

http://www.scienceblogs.de/primaklima/2008/12/jim-hansen-spricht-auf-der-agu-von-einem-runaway-greenhouse-effect.php

And this is the link to the famous "Bjerknes Lecture":

http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/2008/AGUBjerknes_20081217.pdf

"That would be the ultimate Faustian bargain. Mephistopheles would carry off shrieking not only the robber barons, but, unfortunately and permanently, all life on the planet."

And we are not about to forget Mr. Hansen's "death trains".

We know how important it is to communicate this as widely as possible (and to defend this pulp fiction). There are enough activists out there defending EVERY crazyness to save the planet.

People who propagate this must have a very bad opinion of the general public.

Yeph

Georg Hoffmann said...

@Eduardo

"But if you dont see it, you would also find appropriate that in the next PAGES meeting, Lindzen also gives a talk presenting his political positions on global warming, right? Or for that matter the Pope, or any ayatollah, as far as it is kept as public lecture ?"

Perfectly fine with me. There should be quality and there should be climate. Lindzen probably can, the Pope and the Ayatollah should take some starting lessons.
That's the point in a democracy. You might listen to everyone and then have your own opinion.
The framing of the above seminar of Jim Hansen made it perfectly clear what was served afterwards. On some slides Hansen even put an asterisk with the remark "This is obviously only my opinion". I like in particular the word "obviously".

In general I dont know what is won by a super clean separation of what is science and what is politics. It takes only very few scratching and you find the societal/ethical bias of any science talk or the scientfic fundaments of some political convictions.

Well the seminar was not about impacts, at least not primarily. But yes, I think he is an expert on that too.

Kharecha, P.A., C.F. Kutscher, J.E. Hansen, and E. Mazria, 2010: Options for near-term phaseout of CO2 emissions from coal use in the United States. Environ. Sci. Technol., 44, 4050-4062, doi:10.1021/es903884a.

Rockström, J., W. Steffen, K. Noone, Å. Persson, F.S. Chapin, III, E. Lambin, T.M. Lenton, M. Scheffer, C. Folke, H. Schellnhuber, B. Nykvist, C.A. De Wit, T. Hughes, S. van der Leeuw, H. Rodhe, S. Sörlin, P.K. Snyder, R. Costanza, U. Svedin, M. Falkenmark, L. Karlberg, R.W. Corell, V.J. Fabry, J. Hansen, B. Walker, D. Liverman, K. Richardson, P. Crutzen, and J. Foley, 2009: Planetary boundaries: Exploring the safe operating space for humanity. Ecol. Soc., 14, no. 2, 32.

Kharecha, P.A., and J.E. Hansen, 2008: Implications of "peak oil" for atmospheric CO2 and climate. Global Biogeochem. Cycles, 22, GB3012, doi:10.1029/2007GB003142.

All this said I just like to underline the obvious: I disagree on several points with Jim Hansen, in particular prioritizing the carbon problem above all other problems.

Finally here is one EGU public session on politics and climate sciences:
http://www.cntv.at/EGU2010/?modid=18&a=show&pid=95

and there was one on "climate sceptics" I cant find right now.

Georg Hoffmann said...

Hola Edu
se ha perdido otra vez un commentario que estaba probablemente desmasiado lungo. Georg

ghost said...

Prof von Storch said.
"A serious problem is, however, that many act a slight self-censorship by checking language, and assertions, for avoiding of being “misused” by “skeptics”."

I see this also as a problem. It was nicely shown in the CRU emails. It was my personal most important insight from the few emails that I read.

However, I can also understand some of the scientist in some extent, because there are no """ in misuse. It is a fact, that there are forces that really distort and misuse everything. Therefore, I think, Prof von Storch is not completely right here. I think, handling these obvious distortions must be a point in science transfer to the public, but not in the actual science papers and reports. IMHO, that would be the right description of this issue.

Anonymous said...

Barbarus hic ego sum, quia non intellegor ulli!

(Guess who)

Bookmark said...

I attended the Hansen lecture in Corvallis, and it was indeed a completely public lecture (advertised locally and with many audience members from the local community). It was a separate event from all of the science events - in a different hall and in the evening.

While Hansen may not be the most riveting of public speakers, that is not the reason people want to hear him speak.

eduardo said...

@ Georg,

Although I may not agree with Lindzen either, would you like to bet that Lindzen will never be invited to give a similar talk to PAGES ?

One reason to keep science and politics separated is, in my view, that very soon you are not seen as a scientist, but as a politician - as Hansen is. And not only Hansen, but unfortunately the whole climate community. Hansen will probably delight his followers, but he will never convince anyone that is not previously convinced. Although there may be other - I would say also ethical reasons for this separation- there is this very pragmatic one: Hansen is actually damaging to his own cause, the same as Lindzen.

Georg Hoffmann said...

@Eduardo

Everything's said, I guess.

If the interests are big enough you can behave as you want you will ALLWAYS have an agenda (in the eyes of some).
So better explain your thoughts and "a prioris" anyway, even your political ones.

Evolutionary theorists never did any politics but there is a near a majority in the US who does not believe a single word they are saying.

It is to me completely obscure why so many people think that when the interaction between politics and science goes wrong (as now in the climate debate) then science should behave differently. Usually dirty, muddy, conspirative, machiavelistic politics should, but not science.

Marco said...

Eduardo,

Bookmark nicely pointed out what I tried to get you to understand: it was a completely open and public lecture. As such that means it is not part of the scientific meeting.

And like Georg I would not have any problem with Lindzen giving a similar lecture. In fact, I know he has given such lectures many times, at scientific venues (not a PAGES conference, but why should we make a distinction of someone giving a lecture at a scientific conference versus any other scientific venue?

Take for example this:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l9Sh1B-rV60
(you have to endulge Andrew Dessler first, but do check the discussion; that will make clear why Lindzen will never be asked to give a similar lecture at PAGES: you first have to get the science right, and not claim just about all your colleagues are wrong, stupid, and/or frauds ("massaging the data" is one of his favorite claims)).

Finally, I can't see why discussing policy implications should NOT be part of the scientific discussion. It is enormously important in many aspects: if your science, according to the policy makers (and you), indicates there is a problem, what will the policy do to the perceived problem? Of course, I have been to a few medicine-related conferences, where people from the regulatory agencies talk loads about policy and how that affects the science (and vice versa), so maybe I'm 'biased' towards accepting such things easier than you.

Georg Hoffmann said...

@Eduardo
Forgot the question

"Although I may not agree with Lindzen either, would you like to bet that Lindzen will never be invited to give a similar talk to PAGES ?"

Possible (for many reasons, his claims were a bit too bold and too often rejected for curious errors), but I dont see any problem for you giving a seminar on your view of politics and sciences.

ghost said...

@Werner
Jim Hansen is boring? Maybe you should watch Richard Alley: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fq22bVmxfuk Have fun.

BTW: Richard Alley is just great... I like his explanations very much Unfortunately, "skeptics" call him a fraud! Well...

@Marco
well said. Thank you.

Hans von Storch said...

ghost - For clarification: when I placed the misused-term in parentheses "misused" it was meant as a repetition of an often heard formulation, not as a assertion that the misuse would be merely claimed without merit.

eduardo said...

@34
Bookmark,

I think your argument is not relevant here,and it sounds like an attempt to wriggle out of the fact that the talk is on the Pages web site - not simply linked but physically archived there, and it was on the program of the meeting. Can you please explain that fact, if in your opinion the talk was totally unconnected to that meeting?

It was open ? yes, many scientific meetings are totally open and any interested can get in. It was in another building ? well, that building at that moment was used by Pages. It could have taken place on the beach for that matter.

eduardo said...

@36,
Marco wrote,

'according to the policy makers (and you), indicates there is a problem, what will the policy do to the perceived problem? Of course, I have been to a few medicine-'

One of the reasons is that I am not - and I would say Hansen either - qualified to inform about policy implications. My knowledge of economics, geography, sociology, finance, energy, etc, etc, is almost zero. Taken to the extreme, to state as a climate scientist that we have to reduce carbon emissions is controversial, since parts of the population may win from climate change. Who am I to contrast the interests of a farmer in Spain who would face water shortage with the benefits of a village in Siberia that may benefit from warmer temperatures ? That belongs to the political discussion, where risks and costs should be weighed, and discourse and not to climate science.

There are many other examples were scientists are not allowed to comment on political issues, and thus their rights may be perceived to be curtailed - for instance many officials of national and international financial institutions (FMI, central banks, etc) for very good reasons.

Would it be appropriate to discuss in a medical convention the moral issues of abortion ? Clearly not.

Anonymous said...

Chapter I: BBC: The Climate Wars "The Battle Begin" (BBC: Der Klimakrieg: Folge 1: Eine neue Bedrohung)

Phoenix, a publicly-funded television station in Germany which is jointly held by the public broadcasting organizations ARD and ZDF announced a documentation about the climate which would be *examined precisely by experts* ("...von Experten präzise aufgearbeitet...").

Phoenix bought and just broadcasted a three-part documentary by the BBC: BBC Earth: The Climate Wars (The BBC-Germany version is basically the same, called: Der Klimakrieg, but seems to have some changes which are interesting) which is to me a clearly pseudo-balanced piece of "experts".

The broadcasting company promoted it for days: "'Der Klimakrieg' ist die ultimative Dokumentation über den Klimawandel." (See here (Also note the web links provided by the BBC there)). (One adviser of that programme was Naomi Oreskes, known e.g. for a study which is similar controversial as a certain study on another issue by Aijing Shang Et Al. in The Lancet.)

In the english version of that documentation Ian Stewart, a geologist, tells us - sometimes with a voice like speaking before a kindergarten – something in the manner of: The "hockey stick(s)" is/are settled science. And the last critical voices on any issues with regard to AGW have been scientifically refuted.

In the introduction Stewart says (same in the german version) (my emphasis and brackets) (cf. transcript):

      "In this series, I'm going to explore some simple, big questions:" [You hear dramatic computerised warlike background noises like missile strikes, lightnings and thunders, volcanic eruptions, lashing sea breaking etc.]

      "How do we know the climate is warming up?" [You see in a row a reddish dyed world map ("Abstract evidence retreats before the poetry of forms and colors" (cf. Camus here).), a forest fire and a whirlwind (disasters); you hear a voice: 'Oh my god'.]

      "How do we know humans are causing it?" [You see an overturned campervan and high sea surf.]

      "And how do we know what's going to happen next?" [You hear someone screaming unintelligible; kettledrums and trumpets resoundingly.]

OK, media... but Phoenix said it would be the scientific/expert point of view. In my opinion we have evidence that the consortium of public-law broadcasting institutions of the Federal Republic of Germany is – since years still – mainly biased. "They" are wasting "their" – well funded – opportunities for journalism; and "they" are blowing (tax) money – and his/our prime time (cf. f.ex. here, here, or here). "They" seem to favor – in some cases - a new world order – at least may be for "journalists" or taxing.

namenlos

Anonymous said...

Chapter II: BBC: The Climate Wars "The Battle Begins" (BBC: Der Klimakrieg: Folge 1: Eine neue Bedrohung)

Part I of The Climate Wars also shows the doom-monger Paul Ehrlich 40 years ago, author of e.g. The Population Bomb. Paul and Anne Ehrlich had also written in 1977 a book together with John Holdren, Ecoscience, in which they seem to advocate disturbing measures and solutions, including forced abortions and introducing chemicals into the water supply that would cause sterilization to prevent overpopulation. Today Holdren is a advisor to President Barack Obama for Science and Technology, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Co-Chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

John Schellnhuber, Director of Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and Chief Government Advisor on Climate and Related Issues during Germany's EU Council Presidency and G8 Presidency, said: " Holdren is a good friend of mine" ("Holdren ist ein guter Freund von mir (Schellnhuber in Die lange Nacht des Klimas).") Schellnhuber is a Himalayan parrot who featured a few times the incompetent IPCC-exemplary nonsense (cf. f.ex. here or Himalaya/AR4/WG3) and Schellnhuber believes that "we" have only five years left to act, otherwise *the game is lost* („dann ist das Spiel verloren“, *sonst ist das Spiel gegen die Natur nicht mehr zu gewinnen*, meint Schellnhuber (cf. here)).

Later in part I in that BBC production a "secret shadowy organisation, 'Jason'", is mentioned. For another *secret society*, the Illuminaten, also cf. e.g. here; for another "shadowy 'organisation'", the Europaparlament, see Schmidt, Helmut Schmidt here.

namenlos

Anonymous said...

Chapter III: The Climate Wars "Fightback" (BBC: Der Klimakrieg: Folge 2: Kampf um die Wahrheit)

Stewart in part two of that programme (cf. transcript):

      "[I]t's become harder and harder to claim that there's any real scientific disagreement on the core issues." [It follows directly an completely unmediated camera shot on Lord May.]

Robert May, former Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK Government and former president of the Royal Society states:

      "The science that said: The world is warming and the world is warming as a result of human activities is beyond any reasonable doubt."

      (Translation by BBC-Germany: "Die Forschungsergebnisse, die belegen, dass der Mensch für die Klimaerwärmung verantwortlich ist, sind längst nicht mehr anzuzweifeln.")

May is as well a colleague of the known Jerome Ravetz (cf. f.ex. here). Ravetz has also something to say about "industrialised science" (see here):

      "Paleo-normal scientists are the assembly-line workers for the military-industrial-scientific complex, just as mainstream economists have been its ideologues."

namenlos

Anonymous said...

Chapter IV: The Climate Wars "Fight for the Future" (BBC: Der Klimakrieg: Folge 3: Die Folgen der Erwärmung)

I only watched the BBC-Germany version of the third part but we have also a transcript for this part for the english version here and so we can watch in the german version James Hansen who sais (the german translation is spoken while he speaks, so we cannot hear everything Hansen sais):

      "Im Falle des arktischen Meereises haben wir den Wendepunkt erreicht."

      (Translation: *In the case of the arctic seaice we have reached the tipping point*)

What on earth Hansen wants us to believe? Pure specualtion as fact to act?

That Hansen part is not in the english version. Is Hansen an expert for the highly speculative tipping points, like Schellnhuber? Is it justified to say that we have reached a tipping point?

And the BBC-Germany version mocks us with Michael Mann:

      "Wenn wir so weitermachen wie bisher [...], werden wir bald große und gefährliche, sogar katastrophale Auswirkungen des Klimawandels erleben. [...] Wenn der grönländische und der antarktische Schild ganz oder nur teilweise abschmelzen, steigt der Meeresspiegel um mindestens sechs Meter."

      (Translation:*We are facing 20 feet sea level rise*)

That timeless part of Mann is not in the english version - for a good reason.

Don't believe the hype!

namenlos

Reiner Grundmann said...

Hansen has a new paper on sea level rise and what he calls 'scientific reticence' (here). It is worth a read because it spells out several of the issues we discuss here at the Klimazwiebel (not only, but specifically in this post). He believes that most scientists are convinced that sea level rise will be dramatic (much higher than projected by IPCC and other studies) but do not speak out. The reason is that they are trained in scientific method and practice objective skepticism.
It is Hansen's belief that because of the non-linear interactions in ice-sheets a tipping point in Antarctic melting will occur much earlier than official research predicts.
He therefore calls for the setting up of a panel to write a special report to address this problem. He thinks of the National Academy of Sciences to carry out such a study.

But how on Earth would scientists under this umbrella give up their reticence (assuming that Hansen is right making this central assumption)?

It is surprising that Hansen approvingly quotes work by Eipper which does not go well with his own suggestion. Hansen writes:

"Almost four decades ago Eipper (1970), in a section of his
paper titled ‘The Scientist’s Role’, provided cogent advice and
wisdom about the responsibility of scientists to warn the public
about the potential consequences of human activities. Eipper
recognized sources of scientific reticence, but he concluded
that scientists should not shrink from exercising their rights as
citizens and responsibilities as scientists"

This is what many on this blog have upheld: make a distinction between your rights as citizens and responsibilities as scientists. Hansen is perfectly entitled to act as an advocate. And he admits as much, saying 'reticence is fine for the IPCC'. But if he tries to elicit an outcome of a panel study that concurs with his own views on sea level rise, this is worrying.

corinna said...

The paper is from 2007, may be such a panel is already in place?

If not, do you believe it is possible these days to set up such a panel and follow its advice? The situation has much changed in the past 4 years!

Marco said...

Sorry, Eduardo, but risk-benefit analysis is most definately a part of science. It's even an integral part of medicine.

I also would not underestimate Jim Hansen's understanding of these matters, in particular in comparison to politicians. the "risk-benefit" analysis in politics is very much affected by the "risk" and "benefit" in the political arena, rather than society as a whole.

Regarding abortion and moral issues, I'd like to point out that it IS discussed. Heck, they have WHOLE conferences discussing such issues! Here is one example:
http://www.science.ngfn.de/dateien/3rd_International_Conference.pdf
I chose this particular example as it is from Germany and notably arranged by the German Academy of Science.

But you could argue that this is a specific conference that focuses on this issue. Well, here's the 2011 programme for the biannual World Conference on Human Reproduction:
http://www.humanreproduction2011.com/scientific-programme/

Note reference to discussing the ethical aspects...

Finally, ethical committees are integral parts of academic science in the medical, biological, and pharmaceutical areas.

Anonymous said...

%&$§!

At least I wonder where my comment (# 41) "Chapter I" (January 13, 2011 10:25 PM) is. Why hasn't it appeared yet?

namenlos

Anonymous said...

@ comment #45 (and # 46)

2007 was the year in which the arctic summer sea ice took a lesser extent/volume than the (IPCC) computer models had predicted...

Hansen says (cf. here):

      "Im Falle des arktischen Meereises haben wir den Wendepunkt erreicht."

      (My translation: *In the case of the arctic seaice we have reached the tipping point*)

Is it justified to say that we have reached a tipping point?

"scientific reticence": Could it be that other scientists do not believe/are_not_convinced (because of the facts they already know)?

Don't you think the media would have brought more of the (eg Hansen-/May-... (Hoffmann)) model-stories - as well as they brought 2007-summer-sea-ice-extent-story - if there were some more severe, pressing evidences?

namenlos

Hans von Storch said...

namenlos/49 - it seems that your comment was considered possibly junk and sent automatically into the spam-folder, and Eduardo and I had not looked into that recently. It is now released. Unfortunately, we as editor have not way of changing the criteria of the spam-filter.

Reiner Grundmann said...

Corinna
thanks for pointing out that the Hansen paper was not recent, I had looked at the journal's website which actually showed a 'most read' list.
Would such a panel be possible today? I am not sure. Perhaps not, because since 2007 (esp. since climategate) uncertainties are more emphasized, but this could also mean that potential risks are communicated more forcefully.
Hans and Dennis: do you have data about Hansen's claim, i.e. that scientists in private worry much more about dramatic sea level rise than they state in the literature?