Royal Society to Re-evaluate Position on Global Warming

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Royal Society

On May 19, the National Academy of Sciences issued three reports on climate change and concluded:

"Climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for — and in many cases is already affecting — a broad range of human and natural systems."

The academy also urged that the U.S. take "strong actions" to cut the emissions of the greenhouse gases, chiefly carbon dioxide produced from burning fossil fuels, in order to limit future climate change. Across the pond in the United Kingdom another scientific dynamic appears to be taking place. As the Times (London) recently reported:

Britain's premier scientific institution is being forced to review its statements on climate change after a rebellion by members who question mankind's contribution to rising temperatures.

The Royal Society has appointed a panel to rewrite the 350-year-old institution's official position on global warming. It will publish a new "guide to the science of climate change" this summer. The society has been accused by 43 of its Fellows of refusing to accept dissenting views on climate change and exaggerating the degree of certainty that man-made emissions are the main cause.

The society appears to have conceded that it needs to correct previous statements. It said: "Any public perception that science is somehow fully settled is wholly incorrect — there is always room for new observations, theories, measurements." This contradicts a comment by the society's previous president, Lord May, who was once quoted as saying: "The debate on climate change is over."

The admission that the society needs to conduct the review is a blow to attempts by the UN to reach a global deal on cutting emissions. The Royal Society is viewed as one of the leading authorities on the topic and it nominated the panel that investigated and endorsed the climate science of the University of East Anglia. …

ir Alan Rudge, a society Fellow and former member of the Government's Scientific Advisory Committee, is one of the leaders of the rebellion who gathered signatures on a petition sent to Lord Rees, the society president.

He told The Times that the society had adopted an "unnecessarily alarmist position" on climate change.

Sir Alan, 72, an electrical engineer, is a member of the advisory council of the climate sceptic think-tank, the Global Warming Policy Foundation.

He said: "I think the Royal Society should be more neutral and welcome credible contributions from both sceptics and alarmists alike. There is a lot of science to be done before we can be certain about climate change and before we impose upon ourselves the huge economic burden of cutting emissions."

He refused to name the other signatories but admitted that few of them had worked directly in climate science and many were retired.

"One of the reasons people like myself are willing to put our heads above the parapet is that our careers are not at risk from being labelled a denier or flat-Earther because we say the science is not settled. The bullying of people into silence has unfortunately been effective."

Whole Times article here.

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  1. An electrical engineer! Just who I turn to for advice on the climate. Jesus!

    1. What’s funny about this is when writing about the Royal Society, Michael Polanyi (chemist and Philosopher – Friend of Hayek) points out that even within the Royal Society’s mathematicians, it is impossible for any of them to understand clearly, the work of more than one or two of their fellow mathematicians.

      But I guess a Royal Society engineer is smarter than most.

      1. I heard this from elderly mathematicians on two occasions. They say that the field has grown so broad, is progressing so rapidly, and benefits so much for different choices of notation for different purposes that there is no time for notational choices to settle down even in any one corner of the discipline before people go surging off in new directions.

        The result is that people may find themselves working on the same problem with almost no terminology or notation in common. And it can take hours of close discussion for them to work out *if* they are doing the same thing, much less weather they agree or not.

        It is easy to be amused by this from a distance, but the two gentlemen seems genuinely distressed by the development.

    2. As an electrical engineer, I can say that once you understand differential equations and systems and controls, you can apply them to any other field.

      IE, Fourier Transforms are largely used for signal frequency analysis, but Fourier came across them when studying heat transfer. The same Fourier Transforms can also be used in vibrations for mechanical engineering.

      Any engineer can quickly become component in any STEM field of study.

      1. As an attorney, I can say that once you understand bullshitery, you can apply it to any other field.

        Should’ve been an engineer, like my father before me.

      2. Furthermore, any electrical engineer who’s admitted to the Royal Society is going to be a brilliant PhD who has published a number of articles of astounding brilliance. I’m sure he understands science quite well.

      3. I’m an ME with a lot of vibe and controls background, plus ultrasonic NDT. I’ve made this same argument before. If you can understand PDEs, the frequency domain, and some basic wave propagation physics, then lots of phenomena across the scientific spectrum gets easy to understand.

        The “scientists” have nonetheless pronounced me unfit to know anything. Because after all, I’m not on the right side of the argument.

        Their argument (effectively, by intimidation) has only served to convince me they really are making it up, and many of them actually know it.

      4. There is considerable truth to this: the math is same, and makes up a big swath of the hard thinking in every physical discipline.

        But don’t underestimate the amount of domain specific knowledge need to go from “able to understand the gist” to “able to make a significant contribution” to being an expert.

        Thus speaketh the voice of experience, and I only moved from medium energy physics to neutrino physics: two fields that share a lot in common.

    3. Youre right, we should trust a hollywood activist instead…

      Global Warming is the biggest scam in history

    4. Probably more reliable than a “climate scientist”.

      As near as I can tell what we know today as “climate science” is something that was invented around 1980 for the express purpose of promoting the idea of “global warming” to gain public support in Britain for increased subsidies to the nuclear power industry.

      Mrs Thatcher saw that it would have the additional benefit of destroyng to coal miners’ union.

    5. That’s an ad hominem.

      But just what I’d expect from a comment on the internet.

    6. AGW is bullshit and Al has always known that. Read more in my upcoming kiss-and-tell autobiography.

      1. More tell, less kiss, please.

        1. an Al said “luk @ mi kewl priz”. an den he grabd me, an wez did PENIS GOES WHERE!

    7. Sure. Better to turn to a railroad engineer like the IPCC’s head Pachauri.

  2. He told The Times that the society had adopted an “unnecessarily alarmist position” on climate change.

    Not a good day for TEAM BLUE, is it? Is this peer-review enough for you, Chad?

  3. “Any public perception that science is somehow fully settled is wholly incorrect ? there is always room for new observations, theories, measurements.” This contradicts a comment by the society’s previous president, Lord May, who was once quoted as saying: “The debate on climate change is over.”

    See, The Science is settled. The last sentence of my quote said so.

  4. As usual, a day late and a dollar short LOL

    Lou
    http://www.anon-posting.at.tc

  5. Until a couple of weeks ago, the science was was settled and the debate was over re: Neanderthals mixing with humans. And they’ve been studying that, a much simpler puzzle, a lot longer. Science is usually wrong, that’s how it advances.

    1. I don’t agree about the “much simpler puzzle” part. You got some eHarmonthal records that helped crack it? “Nean Male, lf Nean Female. No Sapes pls.”

      Totally agree about science and “bein wrong.” though. Isn’t that what science is all about? Figuring out what’s “wrong”.

      “These numbers don’t add up.”
      “Oh Yeah!….but why?”
      *gleam of joy in their eyes*
      Simultaneously: “LETS FIGURE IT OUT!”

      1. Homo sapiens neanderthalensis and Homo sapiens sapiens are both sapes, dude.

        1. Yeah, but would you really expect a babe-trolling Neanderthal to know that?

          1. If he had a 7-figure, multi-year contract with GEICO, the company that began selling insurance on Barney Rubble’s Rockmobile, the SapeSape chicks would be trolling for HIM.

    2. the other part:

      “man, all these numbers look right.”

      “well, we know they can’t be perfect. so get off your ass and get out the calorimeter.”

  6. Heheh–somewhat related change of course over at The Onion: http://www.theonion.com/articl…..man,17529/

  7. Heh- I rest my case :

    http://adamant.typepad.com/sei…..-verb.html

    Though I doubt Lord Rees will be replying this time.

  8. The only rational perspective on the causes of climate change is curious agnosticism. Everything else requires faith or at least a point of view that is necessarily lacking empirical basis.

    1. The only rational perspective on the causes of climate change is curious agnosticism. Everything else requires faith or at least a point of view that is necessarily lacking empirical basis.

      Even more so for the effects of climate change.

    2. Naw, dude. The science is SETTLED…

  9. “The bullying of people into silence has unfortunately been effective.” -Sir Alan Rudge

    Regardless of how “good” climate change science is or becomes, the above is the thing that bothers me the most. There is a battlefield of science, but as far as Climate Change(tm) is concerned, it seems more like an Evening at Medieval Times — or pro-wrestling.

  10. I’m certain that BOTH sides of this debate are highly politicized. Hard to say how much actual scientific thinking is behind the decision to endorse AGW or retract the endorsement.

  11. The debate on climate change is over

  12. I think this shows that even the best and brightest are willing to admit they’ve been duped.

    Bravo for them! It isn’t easy for the proud to change. Bravo I say.

  13. Meh. They’re only addressing this because they were pushed into it by all the recent climate scandals. This is a half-measure to save face by surrendering terrain they could no longer defend. Lets not pretend anything has changed.

  14. New Scientist seems to be on the case to track human causes – back 13k years now. Nice:
    http://www.newscientist.com/ar…..hange.html

  15. Al Gore got C’s at Harvard and flunked out of Divinity School, and he got a Nobel Prize.

    1. What grade did he get in the single science course he took at Harvard?

      1. D. Probably a gift.

  16. “The society appears to have conceded that it needs to correct previous statements. It said: “Any public perception that science is somehow fully settled is wholly incorrect ? there is always room for new observations, theories, measurements.” This contradicts a comment by the society’s previous president, Lord May, who was once quoted as saying: “The debate on climate change is over.””

    I don’t know who this goof-ass Lord May is, but he sure as hell ain’t a scientist.

    NOTHING in science, in any field, is ever settled.

    1. I wouldn’t say than *nothing* is settled. Consider “the world is round”. It would take A LOT of evidence to prove this otherwise!

      1. True, Alpheus, but “The Science is Settled” was what drove me to find out what the opposition was saying. I still haven’t seen anything to convince me that what we are seeing is anything more than a natural cycle.

        1. Where did the “the science is settled” quote originally come from? The only time I ever see it invoked is by somebody caricaturing the mainstream AGW view. But no one ever says where it comes from.

          It’s hard to believe that any competent scientist would ever say something so ridiculous. A politician maybe. Or maybe it’s a straw man.

  17. Are they going to apologize to Exxon-Mobil? Or maybe acknowledge that when you’re trying to suppress discussion about something, that should set of some sort of “maybe we’re wrong about this” alarm?

  18. The entire world uses 27 billion barrels of oil per year.

    This amount is only slightly more than 1 cubic mile of oil.

    If that amount was spread equally over the entire surface of the world –

    It would take 12 years worth of world oil consumption to be as thick as a single sheet of paper from a copy machine.

    Do you really think that thin layer of oil is going to effect the ten’s of thousands of feet of air above it when burned?

    1. sorry.

      counter-intuitive to Bob /= not possible

    2. Do you really think that thin layer of oil is going to effect the ten’s of thousands of feet of air above it when burned?

      To be fair, yes. The concept of “density” springs to mind as perhaps having some relevance.

      We could even turn that around: what if all sunlight had to pass through a film of crude oil before hitting the Earth? I imagine that might have some effect on the climate.

      Kind of a lousy example, Bob.

      1. Understand, that 12 years worth of oil would only cover the Earth with a film thickness of 0.004 inches. What is consumed each year is out weighed by the atmosphere by a factor of 1.3 million to 1.

    3. How much oil was lost to the oceans during WWII?

  19. Teach the controversy! There’s a 50/50 chance Jesus rode on dinosaurs!

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