Friday, August 2, 2013

Are climate sceptics the better climate scientists?

Warren Pearce, a young researcher and colleague at Nottingham University has published a smashing piece on the Guardian blog on Science and the Green Movement. It has attracted more than 700 comments in a few days - perhaps no big surprise given the main topic. It is inevitable that people on both sides of the fence feel strongly about the issue.


Warren argues that
Both climate change sceptics and advocates of climate policy [share] a faith that scientific evidence is the basis for public policy. However, such a faith omits the possibility that science is not suited to such a role, and that "solving" climate change does not flow linearly from agreement on the science. The attentions of sceptics may or may not be improving the practice and knowledge of climate science. However, if sceptics' never-ending audit is really damaging policy, that may be more a reflection of an overly scientised policy process than a basis for denying them a voice in debate.
The conundrum is that both "sides" (if one can use that term) seem to focus on real science as the arbiter of knowledge claims. In doing so, they risk constricting material policy measures, issues of wider public significance than scientific debates about climate change.

He singles out Anthony Watts and Andrew Montford, two bloggers who are widely read, not only in the sceptical scene. It is noteworthy that the label 'denier' of climate consensus would not easily apply to them (on the debate about the '97% consensus' - see here and here).
Sceptics such as Andrew Montford and Anthony Watts agree with the mainstream view that the greenhouse effect brings about atmospheric warming as a result of carbon emissions, but dispute levels of climate sensitivity. However, others offer far more fundamental challenges to climate science, such as fringe sceptic group Principia Scientific who reject this orthodox view of atmospheric physics.
Watts found himself under frequent challenge by members of the group on his blog, leading him to post his own experiments on YouTube to disprove their claims. As well as being a nice example of scientific claim and counter-claim on the web, Watts's actions also helped position himself as a "mainstream" sceptic who can challenge key areas of climate science without entering into pseudoscience, a brush he had previously been tarnished with.
His conclusion is spot on:
The conundrum is that both "sides" (if one can use that term) seem to focus on real science as the arbiter of knowledge claims. In doing so, they risk constricting material policy measures, issues of wider public significance than scientific debates about climate change.

4 comments:

Greg House said...

"Sceptics such as Andrew Montford and Anthony Watts agree with the mainstream view that the greenhouse effect brings about atmospheric warming as a result of carbon emissions, but dispute levels of climate sensitivity."
============================================

Calling Mr.Watts a "skeptic" with regard to the AGW concept is not justified and requires certain degree of twisting the word "skeptic".

He allows some criticism of the AGW mostly in the commentary section, but posts articles promoting AGW on the daily basis. His criticizing some minor and secondary inconsistencies does not change that essentially.

People who promote "greenhouse effect" and "global warming" are entitled to their opinions, of course, but they are certainly not skeptical about it.

Harry Dale Huffman said...

"...a faith that scientific evidence is the basis for public policy. However, such a faith omits the possibility that science is not suited to such a role..."

That is not "spot on". That is nonsense. For an honest and competent physical scientist (like me), it is not a matter of faith that real, good science SHOULD be, MUST be, the basis for public policy, on matters pertaining to the workings of the physical world, in this instance climate. If the supposed expert science were good, this would not even need stating (by ANYONE competent to address the issue). But climate science is WRONG, and worse, INCOMPETENT -- and so is the position touted in the above post. Shame on you! You obviously cannot competently address the situation--which is that of a broken system, in both science and politics.

Anonymous said...

"Are climate sceptics the better climate scientists?"

A silly question!

If you are talking about religious scepticism, OK, no doubts allowed.

If you are talking about science: sceptics are the better climate scientist, of course! Scepticism is the most important tool of science or scientific methods.

First step to get out of a religious cult: stop thinking about sceptics as (just) merchants of doubt and rethink your own position.

V. Lenzer

tonythomas061 said...

http://www.quadrant.org.au/blogs/thomas/2013/08/vienna-s-rootin-teuton-travesty-of-science

Vienna's rootin' Teuton travesty of science

by Tony Thomas

August 9, 2013

Austria is justly proud of its scientists – Schroedinger, Mach, Doppler, and Pauli, to name a few. Hence I was excited to be visiting the Naturhistorisches Museum Wien, or Vienna Museum of Natural History. It’s a stately pile in the city’s famed museum district.

The science there was great. But the global warming exhibits weren’t science, they were alarmist rubbish.

OK, I’m biased, but let me explain: One display is headed, “Climate models show the expected global warming for the next decades.” The illustration, headed “The world 4degC warmer”, is a color-coded map of the continents.

I paused. Four degrees warmer within decades? Like, 2030, 2040, 2050? Considering there’s been no warming for 17 years, the forecast seems a stretch. I wondered if the English translation had gone awry, but the label alongside said the same thing in German.

What’s more, the display seemed already a decade old, judging by references I noticed to incidents in 2002. Museums canbe pretty slack about updating their displays. So that might bring the heat apocalypse forward to, say, 2029, when I’m just settling into my high-care retirement home. continued at website...
(Referring to graphics with the display:...)
when I cast my eyes further north to South-East Asia, the whole of Indonesia – oh no! – was flooded and/or uninhabitable, except for Borneo which has turned into desert. Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Myanmar, Philippines, forget them all, uninhabitable!

A cursory look at Africa, uh oh! All uninhabitable except for a mysterious green swath from about Senegal/Mauritania east to Niger-Chad.

South America: wow, that mass has become a wasteland of deserts and cyclonic storms, apart from the deep south of Argentina and Chile (or what’s left of Chile after two-metre coastal flooding).

Kiss goodbye to India south of Mumbai, with India’s southernmost 200km flooded and the rest uninhabitable, along with Sri Lanka. Yeeps, that will really get the boat people going, or coming.

Apart from the green exceptions I’ve mentioned, kiss the whole southern hemisphere goodbye. It’s all very depressing...