Buy

Books
Click images for more details

Support

 

Twitter
Recent comments
Recent posts
Currently discussing
Links

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

Powered by Squarespace
« For discussion | Main | 403 errors »
Saturday
Nov072015

Climate change and academic oversell

It's not often an article in Times Higher Education can make you laugh out loud, but Helga Nowotny's piece this week managed to reach those heights. Nowotny, from ETZ in Zurich, is writing about overselling of research results and the deleterious effects that this might have on trust in the academy. Her suggestion is that a bit more "we don't know that yet" might be a better approach.

Inevitably talk turns to climate change:

Asked if such an approach may have pitfalls – such as those detailed in the 2010 book Merchants of Doubt, when vested interests sow the seeds of scientific doubt as a way of forestalling action on issues like the harm caused by cigarettes or, more recently, climate change – she responded: “You cannot deny climate change; it’s happening. The scientific evidence is overwhelming.”

But she pointed out that modelling future changes to the climate is fraught with uncertainty, with climate forecasting broadly as accurate as weather forecasting was 100 years ago – although none of this should be used as an excuse for inaction.

I'm not sure that she understands that "evidence" for climate change is the output of those uncertain climate models. She seems to be a victim of the very overselling that she is complaining about.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

Reader Comments (109)

The new ice age theory of the 70's would still be in vogue had the temperature graph not changed direction. The peak oil theory would still have traction had the oil price not plummeted. Acid rain may still be mentioned in the news had any trees actually died form it. And the possibility of global financial collapse was derided by almost every economist and financial pundit on the planet until it happened. Of course we should all be dead from BSE by now - or from a lack of oxygen due to algal blooms - or starvation due to overpopulation, etc.

Taking all this past evidence of blind faith in self-proclaimed experts into account tells us that the only thing that will halt the bandwagon is a drop in temperature. However that may only happen in the satellite measurements because of the culture of warming adjustments pervasive with the other datasets - especially NOAA who clearly prefer guesstimation to accuracy. Alas, once RSS is persuaded to adjust their satellite results too then only widespread blackouts may persuade our leaders from not leading us all off a cliff.

Nov 9, 2015 at 11:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

geronimo, my view, is that local folklore, rumour, legend, etc was full of stories about access from one ocean to another, by the time Europeans officially arrived in America.

This would have tied in with the Medieval Warm Period. If the Vikings had found their way to Iceland and Greenland, they would have had the technology and seafaring skills to go further West. Others may have been able to do it starting from the Pacific end.

Alternatively, who is to say that the Vikings (or others) didn't find Greenland, by travelling east from northern Norway, and going along the northern shore of Russia/ Siberia?

Nov 9, 2015 at 11:14 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Bloody 403 errors!

Nov 9, 2015 at 1:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

This would have tied in with the Medieval Warm Period. If the Vikings had found their way to Iceland and Greenland, they would have had the technology and seafaring skills to go further West. Others may have been able to do it starting from the Pacific end.

Alternatively, who is to say that the Vikings (or others) didn't find Greenland, by travelling east from northern Norway, and going along the northern shore of Russia/ Siberia?

Nov 9, 2015 at 11:14 AM | golf charlie
=====================================================================================

Viking settlements have been found, in, I think, Newfoundland. They called America "Vineland". Why so? (Rhetorical question...)

Nov 9, 2015 at 2:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterJeremy Poynton

Geronimo

You will find a list of the major expeditions seeking the Northwest Passage in my Nov 8, 2015 at 2:19 PM post. What is the point of giving citations if you do not read them?

Nov 9, 2015 at 9:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

Entropic man,

What is the point of giving citations if you are too thick to understand them?


ATTP,

Why come on to this site to indulge in mental onanism?


You are paid to look at the stars. Why do you spend so much time in the gutter, looking down?

Nov 10, 2015 at 1:07 AM | Unregistered Commenterjolly farmer

Ahem... her article has vanished. Anyone save it?

Nov 11, 2015 at 5:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterAnonyMoose

Hmm. The link on this site to her article returns an error. Searching on that site, finds this URL which does work there.

Nov 12, 2015 at 8:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterAnonyMoose

What did the Innuit do during the LGM? Were they cozily ensconced in their snow houses on the coast of North Carolina?

Nov 13, 2015 at 6:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterSpectator

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>