Seen elsewhere
Twitter
Support

 

Buy

Click images for more details

Recent comments
Recent posts
Links

A few sites I've stumbled across recently....

Powered by Squarespace
« The 'not so great and not so good' - Josh 167 | Main | Acton and parliamentary privilege »
Thursday
May102012

The administrators' view

Fifteen national scientific academies, including the Royal Society, have issued the latest in a long line of doom-laden millenarianist pronouncements.

National science academies from 15 countries issued joint statements today calling on world leaders who are about to meet at the upcoming G8 Summit and other international gatherings this year to give greater consideration to the vital role science and technology could play in addressing some of the planet's most pressing challenges.  The "G-Science" statements recommend that governments engage the international research community in developing systematic, innovative solutions to three global dilemmas: how to simultaneously meet water and energy needs; how to build resilience to natural and technological disasters; and how to more accurately gauge countries' greenhouse gas emissions to verify progress toward national goals or international commitments.

As we know, the Royal Society does not consult its fellows before issuing these dramatic statements. No doubt the other academies are the same. We can safely say therefore that these words represent the view of the academies' adminstrators and not their scientists.

The academies traditionally issue one of these statements before major international summit meetings. They normally involve demands for money and/or political action in line with the philosophical views of the academy administrators. Clearly this one is no exception.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

Reader Comments (23)

"...recommend that governments engage the international research community in developing systematic, innovative solutions to three global dilemmas: how to simultaneously meet water and energy needs; how to build resilience to natural and technological disasters..."

Or, in other words, 'give us more money; increase our grants; and tax the b*stards more so you can'.

The only 'technological disaster' I can think of that is ruining this world is the Melton-Mowbray (Props mdgnn) school of science that thinks we're all doomed unless we give all our money to our government.

May 10, 2012 at 5:35 PM | Registered CommenterHarry Passfield

Oh yes, they do this all the time. But I'm having trouble recalling on what other topics this happens. Perhaps you can take a moment away from your neverending search for reasons to ignore scientists to help me out?

May 10, 2012 at 5:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterFrank

It's classic furrowed-brow, we-are-very-serious, high-minded, bigger-brain types who, speaking very slowly so that you can all understand us, clearly deserve more money because we are immensely self-important . . . err, no, sorry, important.

Best response is a mighty boot up their collective bums.

May 10, 2012 at 6:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterAgouts

The joint statement shows *exactly* how climate science is dysfunctional. Science/technology can develop innovative solutions to energy shortage or water stress - true. Science/technlogy can develop innovative solutions to minimising the impact of natural disasters - true. Science/technology has no interest whatsoever, apparently, in developing innovative solutions to possible climate stress, only in attribution and enforcement.

May 10, 2012 at 6:53 PM | Unregistered Commenterlogicophilosophicus

I think a better focus for the national academies would be to try to come up with a way for science journals to publish studies that will hold up upon replication. Instead of telling politicians how to do politics, lawyers how to do law, and economists how to do economics, perhaps they could find some time to work on a way to get scientists to raise their level of performance to the point of reaching some degree of basic competence.

May 10, 2012 at 7:14 PM | Unregistered Commenterstan

Meeting energy and water needs only requires the political will to do it.
The world is not, nor is ever likely to be, short of water as long as H2O covers 70% of the planet's surface. The technology to provide clean drinking water to those parts of the world currently without it does not qualify as rocket science. What is lacking is the political will to make the necessary investment, instead of which western governments would rather pour money into the bottomless pit of self-serving and self-satisfied NGOs and corrupt dictators. The former are more concerned with protecting their own well-feathered nests and the latter, well, with protecting their well-feathered nests mainly.
Energy is a little more of a problem but not much. In many parts if the world, solar power could make a meaningful contribution but as elsewhere, the main thrust has to be nuclear. Not difficult except that the greenies woln't let you do it and everyone is frightened of the greenies. Heaven alone knows why.

I was not aware that natural and technological disasters were currently a "global dilemma". All the evidence, except the "adjusted" versions, shows that natural disasters are becoming less disastrous. Fewer people in absolute terms are dying from hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and just about any other natural event you can name than a century ago.
As for technological disasters, I might just be prepared to agree that improvements to nuclear sites are always worth considering but apart from Chernobyl and Fukushima I am struggling to think of any other "technological disasters" of recent years that require government intervention (though the Eurovision Song Contest comes close).
The third dilemma I shan't even bother commenting on except to yawn and say "Same old, same old".

May 10, 2012 at 7:28 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

I think a better focus for the national academies would be to try to come up with a way for science journals to publish studies that will hold up upon replication. Instead of telling politicians how to do politics, lawyers how to do law, and economists how to do economics, perhaps they could find some time to work on a way to get scientists to raise their level of performance to the point of reaching some degree of basic competence.
May 10, 2012 at 7:14 PM stan

Absolutely spot on.

The primary focus of all professional organisations should be setting and enforcing standards for their constituent members.

It seems to be characteristic of our post-modern era that everyone overlooks their own responsibilities in favour of interfering in somebody else's. Policemen want to be social workers, teachers want to be activists and scientists desparately want to be politicians.

May 10, 2012 at 8:10 PM | Registered CommenterFoxgoose

...But I'm having trouble recalling on what other topics this happens. Perhaps you can take a moment away from your neverending search for reasons to ignore scientists to help me out?
May 10, 2012 at 5:50 PM Frank

Try this for size Frank, from the RS's "People & the Planet" report :-

Key recommendations include:

The international community must bring the 1.3 billion people living on less than $1.25 per day out of absolute poverty, and reduce the inequality that persists in the world today.

Now, this might be a laudable and widely acceptable political & social aim - but it's got bugger all to do with the remit of the Royal Society.

May 10, 2012 at 8:23 PM | Registered CommenterFoxgoose

... but it's got bugger all to do with the remit of the Royal Society.
Exactly so, foxgoose, and what's more it is yet a further instance of western governments not giving a shit for the world's poor.
You can count on the fingers of one hand the NGOs that are actually working on the ground to help solve this problem as opposed to the ones who are happy to keep the downtrodden trodden down for fear their comfy jobs will disappear.
And in the background the constant drone of Ehrlich and his ilk shooting themselves in the collective foot by demanding that the poor remain poor when all the evidence from history is that the best way to lower the birthrate is to make people better off.
Of course it's not really about population numbers, is it? It's eugenics.

May 10, 2012 at 8:44 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Surely it's 4 needs? What has water got to do with energy?

May 10, 2012 at 8:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Schofield

Nobody could be so idiotic as to rely on "world leaders" having seen what they've done of the world so far. Really.

May 10, 2012 at 9:09 PM | Registered Commenteromnologos

David Schofield said:

Surely it's 4 needs? What has water got to do with energy?

I suspect the connection is the expected solution for both - rationing to meet arbitrary targets. The press release goes on to say

Without considering water and energy together, inefficiencies will occur, increasing shortages of both, the statement warns. It recommends that policymakers recognize the direct interaction between water and energy by pursuing policies that integrate the two, and emphasize conservation and efficiency. Regional and global cooperation will also be required.

The UK isn't short of water. What there is is being badly managed. As the population of the south east has grown the water storage capacity has not. Other regions being arid is no reason for us to limit our usage.

The UK isn't short of energy. What there is is being badly managed. We are sat on coal reserves and with shale fracking probably sat on sizeable gas reserves plus there is whatever is left under the North Sea. We have nuclear power. We could have been renewing coal power to more efficient super critical stations but didn't and instead put up loads of wind turbines.

May 10, 2012 at 11:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterGareth

Foxgoose: "It seems to be characteristic of our post-modern era that everyone overlooks their own responsibilities in favour of interfering in somebody else's."

If you would remove "of our post-modern era" from that sentence, Brer Fox, you may find yourself oft quoted in both popular and learned places as a true philosopher; or at the very least an animal of rare perception.
     Way I figure it from the top of a three-rail fence, with a sweet hay stalk between my teeth, what you note has always been so.
     It's just how we cope with our own inadequacies when we don't have a drink or some tobacco handy.

May 11, 2012 at 4:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Carr

"a drink or some tobacco"

Which our govt seems hell-bent on restricting, thanks to various do-gooders, the health police, and environmental puritans everywhere. Dick Puddlecote rants eloquently on this...

Link

May 11, 2012 at 8:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

Never mind the science feel the politics!

It is clear that the Royal Society is in decline and will continue along this path under the leadership of Sir Paul Nurse.
Soon whatever these august bodies say will be irrelevant.

May 11, 2012 at 8:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterConfusedPhoton

I'm vaguely reminded of something I read years ago - maybe someone else has a better recollection?

Charles II, pleased with his new toy (the Royal Society) posed a question to the members: why is it that a tank of water weighs no more when a few fish are added to it? Robert Boyle and the rest came up with a few hypotheses, but never actually measured the (nonexistent!) effect. If the highest power in the land says it is so...

I think that's how it went.

May 11, 2012 at 8:48 AM | Unregistered Commenterlogicophilosophicus

The appeal of the grandiose perspective. The gratification of sitting around a table crafting fine phrases of controlling, and planning, and tackling, and solving, and directing, and 'how-to'ing of this and that. Such meetings should be held in balloon gondolas, with the balloon set to rise a hundred feet on a tether every time any one of a set of portentous, fashionable phrases gets mentioned and taken seriously. 'resilience' all by itself would be one, as would 'sustainable'. 'addressing planetary challenges' would be there, and so on. The committee of London's Royal Society would be floating way above the city by now, probably too far up to catch the eye and be a focus of conversation anymore (other than for those who would find amusement in weighing the pros and cons of releasing the tether altogether). To get back down, a hundred feet of descent would ensue for every heartfelt retraction of items on the phrase list. Eventually, their feet might get back on the ground again where they belong, and they could all scurry away to find something more useful to do.

May 11, 2012 at 9:21 AM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

John Shade
I like it!
A highly sophisticated version of "bullshit bingo" which ought to appeal to the innate esotericism of those taking part.
What I especially like is the possibility of actually returning to ground level and the means to achieve it. I hope when it eventually becomes a reality there will be a TV camera in the gondola so that we can all watch the mental and linguistic agonies involved.
Perhaps we could sell the concept to Endemol; I'm sure it would make excellent television (albeit for a somewhat limted audience).

May 11, 2012 at 10:47 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

"As we know, the Royal Society does not consult its fellows before issuing these dramatic statements."

The Officers are elected. Welcome to real world democracy, not fantasy democracy. If the fellows don't like the message, they vote them out next time, which can be an annual event.

May 11, 2012 at 12:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterJ Bowers

...solutions to three global dilemmas: how to simultaneously meet water and energy needs; how to build resilience to natural and technological disasters; and how to more accurately gauge countries' greenhouse gas emissions to verify progress toward national goals or international commitments

Not bad for woolly thinking. The first example, water vs. energy, doesn't make sense, as Dave Schofield says. But the second and third examples are not even choices, let alone dilemmas. What fools write this stuff in the name of the distinguished scientists of the United Kingdom?

May 11, 2012 at 8:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Brewer

They're not fools.

1) Water/energy are the fundamental resource issues.

Solve those and what can go wrong?

2) Plagues, eruptions, wars, tsunamis and earthquakes, asteroid impacts - sudden death for thousands or millions.

Are there any more insidious major risks sneaking up on us?

3) RS (and a lot of other scientists and policy makers) think so. That's where we are - no change - and instead of talking as if the alternative view is 100% convincing to anyone but an idiot, sceptics need to explain their justification very carefully.

May 12, 2012 at 8:01 AM | Unregistered Commenterlogicophilosophicus

A dilemma is a difficult choice between two unpleasant alternatives.

None of the three issues mentioned in the news release are, in fact, dilemmas, and one is entitled to regard its authors as fools for describing them as such.

The release and the "G-Science" statements they advertise are a disgrace to science. In the first place, academy pronouncements on scientific questions are inimical to science, as they introduce authority into fields of enquiry. Worse still is to issue statements recommending policies to inter-governmental meetings. Even the members of the academies – let alone their office-holders – are not qualified to make the economic and political judgements embodied in such statements.

The G in G-Science stands for Government. It would have been better for the health of both science and government if they had been kept apart.

May 12, 2012 at 10:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Brewer

In the field of logic or rhetoric a dilemma is roughly a position where only two alternatives remain, and both are unacceptable.

In common use, as any dictionary from the last twenty or thirty years will tell you, a dilemma is a predicament. I don't see how failure to match your pedantic standard of language use entitles you to regard the Royal Society team as fools.

They also split two infinitives in their statement - shock horror. I don't think that pointing this out will advance the CAGW-sceptic cause. Nor, on the other hand, would I criticise your scientific/policy position for your sentence without a verb yesterday; or your error of grammatical number at the start of your third paragraph in the post above (without sanction in any dictionary or grammar). I certainly wouldn't be crass enough to declare you a fool on that basis.

May 12, 2012 at 12:53 PM | Unregistered Commenterlogicophilosophicus

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Post:
 
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>