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« Briggs writes to Santer | Main | The Royal Society rewrite in the news »

More coverage of Royal Society rebellion

The newspapers this morning have more coverage of the rebellion in the ranks of the scientific establishment.

Ben Webster in the Times names Sir Alan Rudge as the leader of the rebellion. Rudge is not naming the other signatories though. Webster notes Rudge's involvement in the Global Warming Policy Foundation.

Louise Gray in the Telegraph covers the story too.

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Reader Comments (13)

I worked for Alan Rudge, he's an engineer, as I am. One of the reasons I think you find engineers in the sceptical camp is that they have the experience to understand that you can throw around works like "renewable" and Carbon capture and sequestration" easily enough but the path from idea to engineering on an industrial scale will be long, expensive and not certain of a positive conclusion. In short, even if burning fossil fuels is causing global warming a long road lies ahead to where we get to a position where we can replace fossil fuels, and in the meantime we have to keep burning them or ruin our economies and societies. That's not that we shouldn't take that road, we should, if only to ensure future energy supplies when fossil fuels begin to run out, but taking it will not be a silver bullet to stop global warming.

Scientists on the other hand, and especially senior scientists, have culminated their work when they produce the paper to get to an engineering solution takes many decades from the acceptance of a scientific paper with a full understanding of the science.

May 29, 2010 at 10:39 AM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

It's also that, in engineering, the standard of proof is far higher than in "climate science". Even in engineering projects that are not going to kill anyone if things go wrong, you would not consider results from unvalidated computer models as proof of anything.

May 29, 2010 at 11:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterMartin A

It's happening down under too.

May 29, 2010 at 1:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterWeeWillie

Surely the main difference between an engineer and an academic is that the engineer is judged on whether his creation actually works in practice- there is always an experiment. The academic is judged on whether his paper sounds convincing to a sufficient number of "the right" people.
An engineer is attuned to thinking that a bridge must carry its load- an elegant design is unacceptable if the bridge collapses.

May 29, 2010 at 2:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterPat

I agree with the above comments. As a physicist who worked in an engineering field, the standards that are acceptable are far higher in industry than in academia. Computer models of the standard of climate models, with their assumptions and lack of validation, would be unacceptable in industry.

It would be good to think that the revised RS pamphlet was going to be produced by independent physicists, geologists and engineers who are untainted by their prior involvement in "climate science".

May 29, 2010 at 2:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

As I told Pat Frank a week or so ago, an engineer must produce something that works, and scientist doesn't. Like Phillip I have worked both as a research scientist and engineer. Engineering is far more demanding. This is basically what several other posters said above.

Thus I am not at all surprised that it is the engineers who are the most skeptical. I would much rather hear from the Royal Society of Engineers (if such a body exists) about global warming.

May 29, 2010 at 2:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

Don Pablo - we have institutes of both mechanical and electrical engineering, but neither of them has royal patronage, presumably because the aristocracy is not interested in such things, and couldn't change a lightbulb. As Hilaire Belloc observed:

Lord Finchley tried to mend the Electric Light
Himself. It struck him dead: And serve him right!
It is the business of the wealthy man
To give employment to the artisan.

May 29, 2010 at 3:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

The Royal Society routinely preens itself on its "350 years of excellence in science" while at the same time allowing itself to become little more than a propagandist for global warming.

The founding fathers must be turning in their graves.

Under Lord Rees it gives little opportunity for ordinary members or other scientists to express or have any kind of debate on the extent to which to the Lord Rees dogma may be valid. It has appeared to be blind to the damage to its vaunted reputation that will ensue if and when it becomes clear that the globe is not warming after all.

It is heartening to learn that at least 43 of the fellows now recognise this risk.and that there is an absolute need to actually have a proper look at the fundamentals of the science then to have an open and honest debate..

May 29, 2010 at 3:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Watt

Go engineers :)

As practical people we have to look at hidden aspects like the lifetime costs of a project.

Even if de-carbonising was the way forwards, you get all kinds of problems like the total carbon cost of building, erecting, and maintaining all these freakin windmills. I've never seen any total-cost-of ownership calcs for any greenie schemes.

May 29, 2010 at 4:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Hughes

Sadly for those who believe in conspiracies of aristocrats, there is a Royal Academy of Engineering.

May 29, 2010 at 5:45 PM | Unregistered Commenterdearieme

Double WOW:
Roger Harrabin:

"...I remember Lord May leaning over and assuring me: "I am the President of the Royal Society, and I am telling you the debate on climate change is over."

Lord May's formidable intellect and the power of his personality may have made it hard for others to find a corner from which to dissent. "The debate is over" was a phrase used in order to persuade Tony Blair that policies were needed to tackle the rise in CO2.

It was widely acknowledged that climate sceptics wanted to continue the debate in order to delay action to curb emissions.

But what did the phrase mean? Did it mean the IPCC is unquestionably right? Or that cutting emissions 80% is the only way to save the planet? Or simply that it is basic physics that CO2 is a warming gas?

Even at the Heartland Institute climate sceptics' conference in Chicago last week most scientists seemed to agree that CO2 had probably warmed the planet at the end of the 20th century, over and above natural fluctuations.

But they did not agree that the warming will be dangerous - and they object to being branded fools or hirelings for saying so.......... "

May 29, 2010 at 11:35 PM | Unregistered Commenterbarry woods

"...I remember Lord May leaning over and assuring me: "I am the President of the Royal Society, and I am telling you the debate on climate change is over."

It meant "The party line has been agreed by the people that matter and there will be no further discussion."

but he was wrong.

May 30, 2010 at 11:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterLiam

Don Pablo: "As I told Pat Frank a week or so ago, an engineer must produce something that works, and scientist doesn't.

I showed your comment to be a crock then, and it's still a crock now.

Jun 5, 2010 at 9:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterPat Frank

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