[Vision2020] American Geophysical Union: The Plainspoken Scientist: "A message to science educators and students about global climate change"

Ted Moffett starbliss at gmail.com
Wed Jul 7 15:46:44 PDT 2010

I am re-posting separately a post I authored from Feb. 15, 2010 regarding
significant understatements by the IPCC of critical climate change impacts.
As can be read, there are credible scientific voices who regard the IPCC as
"conservative."  It depends on which scientific critic you source regarding
whether the IPCC is viewed as understating or exaggerating climate change

As I have repeated over and over, it is a question of the probabilities of
extreme impacts ( Nobel Economist Paul Krugman interviewed here on this
issue: http://www.pkarchive.org/global/FZGPS121309.html ) that must be
considered.  Even a 50% probability of extreme climate change is sufficient
reason to take action to mitigate impacts now, and some of the most
brilliant scientific minds in the world state the odds are much higher.  If
New Orleans faced a 50% chance of a direct hit from a category 5 hurricane
spinning in the Gulf of Mexico, people would prepare for the worst.

This "New Scientist" article indicates the IPCC report is "reliable but
flawed."  So there are mistakes in the IPCC report?  No big news.
Scientists are human beings and make mistakes.  That's why the peer review
process in science is so critical.  The NEAA report in question confirms the
"main conclusions" of the IPCC report.  What would be major news is if they
found the IPCC "main conclusions" to be in error.  Below read excerpts from
the actual text of a release from the NEAA describing the Netherlands
Environmental Assessment Agency report in question.  It's best to read
original sources whenever possible to investigate exactly what was or was
not stated on scientific questions, rather than relying on interpretations
by journalists:


PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency has found no errors that
would undermine the main conclusions in the 2007 report of the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on possible future regional
impacts of climate change. However, in some instances the foundations for
the summary statements should have been made more transparent. The PBL
believes that the IPCC should invest more in quality control in order to
prevent mistakes and shortcomings, to the extent possible.

Key findings of IPCC on regional climate-change impacts overall considered
well founded

The PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency has investigated the
scientific foundations for the IPCC summary conclusions of the Fourth
Assessment Report of 2007 on projected regional climate-change impacts, at
the request of the Dutch Minister for the Environment. Overall the summary
conclusions are considered well founded, none have been found to contain any
significant errors.

In addition, the investigated summary conclusions tend to single out the
most important negative impacts of climate change. Although this approach
was agreed to by the IPCC governments for the Fourth Assessment Report, the
PBL recommends that the full spectrum of regional impacts is summarised for
the Fifth Assessment Report, including the uncertainties.


Vision2020 Post: Ted Moffett
On Tue, Jul 6, 2010 at 8:21 PM, Ron Force <rforce2003 at yahoo.com> wrote:

>  Paul, others have the same criticism:
> Climate change report is 'reliable but flawed'
>     * 12:40 06 July 2010 by Fred Pearce
> A tendency to highlight worst-case scenarios undermined parts of the last
> assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, according to a
> new study by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL).
> The inquiry was ordered by embarrassed Dutch ministers after it emerged
> that a mistake in the 2007 IPCC report originated with its own scientists.
> The report stated that 55 per cent of the Netherlands is below sea level,
> when in fact the true figure is half that.
> Overall, the Dutch investigators said, the IPCC report's conclusions were
> "well-founded". But it found several judgments that were "misleading" and
> appeared to have no firm research basis...
> The rest:
> http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn19130-climate-change-report-is-reliable-but-flawed.html
>  ------------------------------
> *From:* Paul Rumelhart <godshatter at yahoo.com>
> *To:* Ted Moffett <starbliss at gmail.com>
> *Cc:* Moscow Vision 2020 <vision2020 at moscow.com>
> *Sent:* Tue, July 6, 2010 7:00:21 PM
> *Subject:* Re: [Vision2020] American Geophysical Union: The Plainspoken
> Scientist: "A message to science educators and students about global climate
> change"
> I roll my eyes at these kinds of polls for a number of reasons.
> For one, who cares how many people support something?  What matters is
> if it's correct or not.  How many scientists rejected the continental
> drift theory proposed by Alfred Wegener in 1912?  If they had made a
> poll then that asked whether or not tectonic plates drifted slowly
> around, there may well have been 98% of the scientists weighing in
> against the idea.
> For another, I don't usually like the questions they choose.  The
> question basically was "does the data clearly demonstrate the earth is
> warming and that human activity is contributing to rising
> temperatures?"  I would vote yes on this question.  The world has been
> warming since the Little Ice Age bottomed out in the 1600's or so.
> Based on simple physics, a rise in CO2 has to warm the world at least a
> little bit.  We have obviously been burning lots of fossil fuels, so we
> have to be contributing to it.  It appears that the natural carbon
> sequestration methods can't keep up.  However, that doesn't mean that
> the proposed apocalyptic scenarios will play out.  If they're going to
> poll all the climate scientists, why don't they give them an interesting
> question to answer?  How about the question "how much warming will a
> doubling of CO2 from pre-industrial levels produce?" and then give them
> 1 degree increments from -5C to +5C to choose from.
> For yet another, comparing published climate scientists opinions to that
> of the earth scientists in general might be more of an indication that
> the "pal review" process is working well as a political tool.
> Also, at the risk of losing my revered "climate contrarian" card, I'm
> vehemently against rewriting textbooks to include creationism and
> excluding evolution.  I've studied evolution, and I'm convinced it's
> real.  I haven't read any of the school textbooks that cover global
> climate change, but if they are heavy on scare-mongering and low on
> facts, then I would like them to be revised.  If they happen to mention
> that there are scientists that are in the minority that think that
> mankind's impact on climate change might not be as bad as the majority
> thinks, that would be great.  As long as they don't compare them to
> holocaust deniers, flat earthers, or phrenologists, that is.
> Paul
> Ted Moffett wrote:
> > It appears Professor John Ayers is unaware that the EOS survey article
> > he references (EOS v. 90 Number 3, p. 22
> > <
> http://europa.agu.org/?view=article&uri=/journals/eo/2009EO030002.xml&t=Doran,eo>)
> > can be read by anyone on the Internet without access to American
> > Geophysical Union publications via a log-in, at the following website:
> >
> > http://tigger.uic.edu/~pdoran/012009_Doran_final.pdf
> > <http://tigger.uic.edu/%7Epdoran/012009_Doran_final.pdf<http://tigger.uic.edu/~pdoran/012009_Doran_final.pdf>
> >
> >
> > ---------------------------------------------------------
> >
> > http://www.vanderbilt.edu/ees/johnayers
> >
> > *John Ayers
> > *Ph.D. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 1991
> > /Geochemistry and Experimental Petrology/
> >
> > http://www.vanderbilt.edu/ees/johncayers
> > office: 5705 Science & Engineering Bldg.
> > phone: 615-283-0775
> > email: john.c.ayers at vanderbilt.edu <mailto:john.c.ayers at vanderbilt.edu>
> >
> > -----------------------------------
> >
> http://blog.agu.org/sciencecommunication/2010/04/19/message-to-science-educators/
> >
> > 19 April 2010
> >
> > */Guest post by John C. Ayers, Professor at /**/Vanderbilt
> > University/* <http://www.vanderbilt.edu/ees/johnayers>*/./*
> >
> > A recent poll of earth scientists found that 97 percent of actively
> > publishing climate scientists agree that data clearly demonstrate the
> > earth is warming and that human activity is contributing to rising
> > temperatures (EOS v. 90 Number 3, p. 22
> > <
> http://europa.agu.org/?view=article&uri=/journals/eo/2009EO030002.xml&t=Doran,eo>
> > — those who don’t have access to Eos, see this CNN story
> > <
> http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/americas/01/19/eco.globalwarmingsurvey/index.html>).
> > In contrast, the same poll found that only 82 percent of earth
> > scientists agree that human activity is contributing to climate
> > change. Many of the 18 percent who disagreed are undoubtedly science
> > educators. This poll and my own experience suggest that a significant
> > percentage of university and high school science educators who are not
> > climatologists remain skeptical about human-induced climate change
> > because they haven’t taken an in-depth, unbiased look at the data.
> > Then they pass their skepticism on to their students.
> >
> > What these science educators need to realize is that they are teaching
> > their students to be skeptical not about one scientific theory, but
> > the entire scientific process. If science educators don’t accept the
> > overwhelming consensus of scientific experts, why should their
> > students or the public? My concern isn’t so much whether students
> > learn and accept the scientific consensus on global warming; it is
> > that students will conclude that science isn’t a legitimate source of
> > knowledge, and shouldn’t play a role in public policy decisions.
> > Science educators who express opinions rather than demonstrate facts
> > undermine the scientific process. The best approach is for educators
> > to present the facts and let students draw their own conclusions.
> >
> > Now, climate contrarians are allying with creationists to keep
> > teaching of global climate change and evolution out of public schools
> > (see “Darwin Foes Add Warming to Targets
> > <http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/04/science/earth/04climate.html>”,
> > Kaufman, March 3, 2010). For over a century, creationists and their
> > predecessors have fought earth scientists about the age of the earth,
> > biologists about evolution, and astronomers about the age of the
> > universe. Expert scientists in these fields need support from
> > non-expert scientists. All members of the scientific community must
> > learn the scientific evidence relevant to each of these battles and
> > avoid undercutting science by voicing uninformed opinions.
> >
> > Students of science: Don’t believe anyone who states opinions about
> > scientific issues without presenting supporting facts. If your teacher
> > or political representative makes an unsubstantiated challenge to the
> > consensus scientific view on global climate change, evolution, or any
> > other topic, demand the evidence they base their opinions on. If the
> > response rests on politics, religion, or something else that is not
> > science, call them on it.  On climate change, ask why they think they
> > know better than the 97 percent of climatologists. If they claim that
> > scientific experts in the field are unreliable or have all committed
> > fraud, ask them why you should trust any scientific authority. All
> > scientific claims need to be tested. Students can contribute to
> > scientific progress by testing claims of science educators, or even
> > better, by persuading educators to test their own claims.
> >
> > [/A previous version of this blog post was published in Ayers'
> > Sustainability Blog
> > <
> http://sustainability-ayersj.blogspot.com/2010/03/message-to-science-educators-and.html>/<http://sustainability-ayersj.blogspot.com/2010/03/message-to-science-educators-and.html%3E/>
> ]
> >
> > /– John C. Ayers, Vanderbilt University
> > -------------------------------------------/
> >
> > /Vision2020 Post: Ted Moffett/
> >
> >
> > ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> >
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