[Coral-List] Climate talks in the 1970s

RainbowWarriorsInternational southern_caribbean at yahoo.com
Sun Dec 20 16:59:11 EST 2009

Dear Coral Listers,

I would like to make some points to clarify and refine the discussion at hand.

Having studied chemistry for one year before switching to mathematics at Leyden University in the Netherlands in 1978, I clearly recall the mandatory class called "Scheikunde en Maatschappij" (English translation: Chemistry and Society) in which the problems of water and air pollution caused by chemical compounds (acid rain, depletion of ozone layer etc.) were brought to the fore together with quite a few issues still very much current today.

One thing was expressly imprinted upon us during this class: because of the lack of rigid theories backed by mathematical modeling, most of the conjectures about emergent issues such as global warming and greenhouse gases we were told were just that.

When I switched to mathematics after one year, giving up hopes of seeing the Dutch academic moratorium on genetic engineering (recombinant DNA technology) lifted any time soon, I soon became aware of the limitations of mathematical modeling at the time.

Real computing power was restricted to a few academic institutions around the world fortunate enough to have access to supercomputing power.

I saw computer science and personal computers emerge in the early eighties and one thing became clear to most of us mathematicians: computing power and computer science would rapidly change the face of modern scientific endeavors.

One popular document at the liberal Leyden University popped up at many faculties in classes as a subject of discussion: The Report of the Club of Rome.

A new paradigm, being scenario thinking based on mathematical theories relying on probability theory coupled to mathematical modeling was in vogue.

Now getting back to the discussion at hand in this thread. The question of the level of consensus backed by solid science in the early 70's is flawed precisely because of the lack of computer science, the level of available mathematical theories used in advanced modeling in scenario theories and most of all the lack of widely accessible computing power and widely available data repositories (the Internet appeared in the late 90's).

In my humble opinion this discussion about the 70]s is thus quite irrelevant.

NOW is when we have advanced mathematical theories, computing power, open access and interchange of data repositories through the Internet, which make the state and quality of climate science a current issue.

And based on all these currently available tools current climate science can be said to be thorough in its methodologies and use of technologies.

That there is room for improvement upon some of the mathematical modeling issues which are at the heart of the dispute between global warming and anti global warming advocates can be debated.

What should be made very clear to the general non-scientific public is the extent of impact on the climate created by humans (anthropogenic global warming) in the overall global warming scenarios which also factor in all natural and cosmic processes leading to global warming or global cooling, including natural and cosmic catastrophic events which impact our atmosphere.

The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol introduce not only guidelines and instruments for scientific methodologies but also instruments for climate change mitigation and adaptation.

What has become VERY clear from the chaos at Copenhagen with tens of thousands of government delegates representing parties and delegates from accredited observer organizations all vying for media attention is that the actual shortlist of issues to make clear to the general public was lost.

And the politicians at Copenhagen hailing from large developed countries like e.g. the US, China and Canada keenly aware of the fact that the science of climate change is beyond the grasp of the common man and their electoral base back home chose to talk in terms of vested interests.

The science is there backed by a wide body of evidence and solid modeling, now can we please boil down the issue to two pages. one with the problems and one with the solutions and make this widely known to the general public who must make the politicians commit to tackling the climate change issues in accordance with the recommendations of the scientific community?

Milton Ponson, President
Rainbow Warriors Core Foundation
(Rainbow Warriors International) Tel. +297 568 5908
PO Box 1154, Oranjestad 
Aruba, Dutch Caribbean 
Email: southern_caribbean at yahoo.com    http://www.rainbowwarriors.net (Global)
To unite humanity in a global society dedicated to a sustainable way of life

--- On Sat, 12/19/09, Szmant, Alina <szmanta at uncw.edu> wrote:

From: Szmant, Alina <szmanta at uncw.edu>
Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Climate talks in the 1970s
To: "Ben Richards" <br at hawaii.edu>, "coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov" <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
Date: Saturday, December 19, 2009, 10:16 AM

I lived in Rhode Island (in the NE USA) through the 1978 great blizzard and remember well the 'ice age coming' talk of the times, but it was just that, talk.  There were not the studies and concensus building among science data sets that has gone on in the past decade(s) over the present trend in climate change.

Ben, as one of the old-timers, I'd like to commend you on your astute observations about our present dilemma with the non-science public not knowing how to deal with, being able to understand, and/or accept the uncertainty built into the scientific method for growing our knowledge base.  We learn early on how during our scientific training how to deal with uncertainty, but most of the public has no understanding of the physical, chemical or biological processes involved with climate change, responses of ecosystems to climate change, or much of anything else, and so they are faced with accepting (or not) what scientists tell them based on faith rather than reasoning..  This is bad, bad, bad, because when you don't understand the rational basis of a scientific message then you can't make an intelligent choice between two groups offering opposing conclusions (even is 95 % support one conclusion and 5 % the other).  That in my opinion, is where 'we' (US
 public) is stuck today.  Th
 e solution is better science education starting in Grade 1, but we have to start with teaching the teachers science, because in my experience, they don't get it either.

Dr. Alina M. Szmant
Professor of Marine Biology
Coral Reef Research Program, Center for Marine Science
University of North Carolina Wilmington
5600 Marvin K. Moss Lane
Wilmington NC 28409
Tel:  (910)962-2362; fax: (910)962-2410;  cell:  (910)200-3913
From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov [coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml...noaa.gov] On Behalf Of Ben Richards [br at hawaii.edu]
Sent: Friday, December 18, 2009 2:33 PM
To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
Subject: [Coral-List] Climate talks in the 1970s

To answer a subsequent question raised by Dr. Shinn's YouTube videos, I would be interested to hear from "older" coral-listers if the level of scientific consensus on global cooling in the 1970s was anywhere near the current level of consensus on climate change?  The YouTube videos of History channel retrospectives on Discovery Channel-style TV shows from the 1970s are interesting, but certainly do not carry as much weight as a similar body of peer-reviewed papers in reputable journals.  My impression, though it may be false, is that the ice-age predictions of the 1970s did not have nearly the level of scientific backing as do current hypotheses?  Am I correct?


<>< <>< <>< <>< <>< <>< <>< <>< <>< <>< <>< <>< <><
Benjamin L. Richards
Graduate Student
Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology
46-007 Lilipuna Rd
Kaneohe, HI 96744

work: (808) 236-7440
cell: (808) 782-1734
fax: (808) 236-7443

email: br at hawaii.edu
AIM: reefben


"Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought."
                                - Albert Szent-Gyorgyi -

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