[Coral-List] more climate stuff (Gene Shinn)
davidjevans1818 at yahoo.com
Thu Nov 23 22:27:35 EST 2006
I have been following this recent climate change exchange that has been going on for some while with interest (along with other previous topics on the list). I certainly have my own views on the issue of climate change, as I believe everyone is definitely entitled to. I am a marine biologist, for which I have a Bachelor's Degree of Science. I am also 36 and have been around this wide wonderous world once or twice and been here and there, for which I am grateful. I've be in a war (that is, on site, air raid sirens, bomb shelters, etc.). I'm also a student of human history, and read generaly and widely. Anyhow, my point is, I pay all due respects to the PhD's in the room, as well as any folks of wisdom, whatever form they come in.
I do have my thoughts about various issues you and others have raised, as I imagine many who have been reading do.
I would like to ask however, what is your understanding of the word "consensus" (regarding your statement about "consesus of scientists ... is a myth.")? Does it mean all scientists studying the issue, 100% ? From my understanding, no that's not what it means. Are there allowed to be skeptics and there still be a consensus? Yes, I think so. Are you saying that you don't think there are enough scientists who support the view that human induced climate change is a valid description of our current situation? Should it be more than a mere majority? Should it be 95% ? What is tha appropriate amount in this situation? In addition to the message from the deeply imbedded geologist studying climate change, what is your evidence that the Consensus is just not large enough? Does it really have to be 100%? From my understanding, that's not how science works. In fact, I think skeptics are important to the process. It keeps things real.
I think the point is that there are more than enough honest, sincere, talented, skilled, scientist world wide that agree about carbon emissions and global climate change and they are saying "Hey! things are looking like this...." Do they even need to be 100% sure of their conclusions...? Again, from my understanding, that's not how science works. Consider the world playing Russian Roulett with a giant revolver with x number of bullet chambers. Can any number of those chambers be loaded with a giant earthbound asteroid or comet? or with sudden catastrophic outbursts of volcanic and seismic activity? or dangerous increases in solar radiance? Sure! I think those are all given risks we understand as part of living on this planet Earth. But why would we intentionally load that gun with a greater number of green house gas bullets??? There are enough good folks with good strong evidence saying that the carbon emission bullets we are loading into that gun are not duds... I,
personally, would rather not spin that loaded chamber.
Is this an emotional issue? Yes, it is. It has to be. It involves things that are emotionally important to all of us as humans: family (I have three kids), realestate, incomes, dividends, power, pride, aesthetics, spirituality, biodiversity, the functioning of the world's ecological systems (I'm very emotional about that one...), and of course coral reefs etc.
I do also believe that knowning the funding sources of studies or researchers is important, though I agree that that in itself is not enough to properly counter an argument. But I believe that most studies are open about their funding precisely because it is a point of concern. Shouldn't a proper peer review process sort those papers out? (Is saying that a politician should not raise the issue in the public sphere really a valid plea? Isn't that what they do? Are you trying to say that Al is claiming to have come up with the concept of climate change himself or has performed the research himself? Should Jaques Cousteau not have brought visions of "zee undher whaater werld" to millions of top siders because he was more cinematographer than marine biologist?)
The time for harsh words should be over. This is an emotional debate in the human sphere, but the science is solid (solid enough - God will grade how close we got to absolute truth later...but Heisenberg worn't be happy with that). There is room for skeptics.
And since today is Thanksgiving... there should be room for seconds (after a small break)!!!
Date: Wed, 22 Nov 2006 14:40:52 -0500
From: Gene Shinn
Subject: [Coral-List] more climate stuff
To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii" ; format="flowed"
I guess I should have known that any mention of global warming
or climate change would stir up emotions and comment. I hope people
noticed that I did not write the materials I sent but basically
provided websites to some recent climate skeptic literature. I
thought the coral community needed a different perspective. Being a
geologist I do admit to leaning toward the long-term geological
perspective ie., a world before SUVs. I was in Abu Dhabi when the
present debate started heating up and must admit I was startled by
the excess use of energy and resources throughout the Arabian Gulf
region. They have not only caught up but are exceeding us, as is
India and China. It was interesting looking out my hotel window at
where there was a coral reef when I first visited in 1966 (there were
no roads then). Where the reef was then there is now an artificial
island. The same is true all along the Arabian Gulf Trucial Coast
(United Arab Emirates) whether it be islands shaped like palm trees
or islands in the shape of a map of the Earth, and don't forget they
even have snow skiing in the shopping mall. The scale of development
is unbelievable and must be seen to be believed!
Back to the climate debate. I can appreciate the concerns of
people living in the Florida Keys and other low lying islands, and
shorelines (including my home). They are living on fossil reefs and
sand bars that grew when sea level was more than 20 ft above present
level. It might happen again with or without added CO2. That is the
message from the Greenland ice cores and numerous fossil coral reef
studies. For a different perspective I forwarded the comments of
Alexandra Barron (Vol 41, Issue 28) regarding Al Gores movie, to a
geologist deeply imbedded in the climate issue/controversy. He wrote
back, (and note these are not my words), "That is a typical
misstatement by Gore as usual, like saying the NAS found that the
"hockey stick" was correct. - the reference is Naomi Orestes,
Science, in an essay. She later admitted that she only looked at a
small sampling and did not assess the wider literature. I have almost
as many peer-reviewed climate papers as she said were present in the
entire literature. I'd be happy to send a reading list to whomever on
the overall topic."
From such responses I gather that the issue is not closed and
the "consensus of scientists" we keep hearing about is a myth. A
friend showed me the Al Gore book that is intended to support his
movie. There were essentially no references! It is becoming
increasingly clear that the issue is mainly emotional, highly
political, and possibly on a par with intelligent design. My friend
Mike Risk uses terms such as right wing and left wing politics and
makes comparisons to the tobacco industry fight and ExxonMobil
funding of non believers. I think what we really need is less
rhetoric and more scientific evidence, not movies by politicians, or
the outpouring of models that are only as good as the data that is
fed in to them. And speaking of motives, just who did fund Gore's
movie? And, why is it that when I monitor the coral-list I
periodically see postings for jobs for sociologists, and reef
managers, etc. I suspect we will soon see postings for reef
psychologists. Are there no longer jobs for scientists who do actual
data collection? Does anyone care about data anymore? Have the models
taught us all we need to know? I'm sure glad the modelers were wrong
about Atlantic hurricanes. I was getting worried. Gene
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