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AGW Climate Change Culture Freedom Global Warming Omniclimate Policy Politics

What Ever Remains Of Joe Romm?

Earlier today I posted a comment at Stoat’s “Oh no! More snarking” blog. Little I imagined how quickly the situation would evolve in the expected direction.

This is my first comment (#14):

People defending Romm (and I don’t mean the way Connolley has mentioned the Caldeira miquote “incident”) remind me of that old saying, “He May Be a Bastard, But He’s Our Bastard“.

I have stopped reading Romm long ago when I realized his only goal is to preach to the converted. I might be missing “much on the political aspect of AGW or on the solutions” but then it is a fact that it is very hard to understand when Romm is right and when he is wrong, given that all critical replies have to be searched via Google (this is a problem on RC as well). And to anybody with Usenet 1990’s experience, vitriolic attacks must surely appear supremely boring.

I don’t mind if people want to become the Pope of AGW but given the size of the climate problem, I just do not see how any “useful truth” can be produced by somebody’s utter unhelpfulness in bringing people together rather than split them in “144k vs the damned”.

What can be in Romm’s future, in fact, if not more occasions to “overreach” against more and more people, as soon as they will say anything not of his liking. Just wait…one of this days, it will happen to Connolley too.

And so it is just a matter of time before Romm will only be talking to himself.

And there we went in fact. Romm intervened (#26) in what quickly became a disaster, as pointed out by Connolley in his inline replies.

Basically, Romm has been caught providing “out-of-context quotes“, so much so “that no-one is going to trust [him] any more” (presumably Connolley just referred to not trusting Romm any more about quoting, but there’s little preventing one from expanding the lack of trust to whatever topic about which Romm over-reacts)

Romm has also been found wrong about a remark by Keith Kloor, and invited to stay quiet rather than being impolite. So as somebody keeps claiming, Romm is still “not a liar” but it looks like the only thing saving Romm’s (AGW) soul at this point is his “substance“.

Good luck with that!

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AGW Business Climate Change Culture Global Warming Omniclimate Policy Politics Science

GlobeScan's Survey Of Climate Change Decision Makers 2009

Just received via e-mail:

Dear Colleague,

The fifteenth UN Conference of Parties will take place in Copenhagen in one month. To ensure that the opinions of professionals who work in climate change related fields are voiced prior to the summit, GlobeScan is seeking your participation in a short online survey. The influential survey results will be publicly released just before COP15 begins.

Please click here to go immediately to the survey page.

This new survey is the third in the Climate Change Decision Maker Survey program that began in 2007 as a collaboration between GlobeScan and many other organizations, including UNEP, the World Bank, the World Conservation Union (IUCN), and the International Development Research Centre.

In return for 15 minutes of your valuable time, we will send you a summary of the results of what your peers have to say about climate-related topics. We will also widely publicize the results in order to inform views and influence actions across sectors and geographies prior to the Copenhagen COP this December. Please note that this survey is different from the others you may have been invited to complete recently.

Please visit http://surveys.globescan.com/cdms09 to access this new survey. The survey will remain open for the next two weeks.

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AGW catastrophism Climate Change Culture Global Warming History Omniclimate Policy Politics Science Skepticism

'How Bold Predictions Hurt Science'

UPDATE: Read also Richard Gallagher’s “Authors of our own misfortune

How many expert assurances or warnings must turn out to be conspicuously wrong for the authority of science and scientists to be diminished?“: that’s the ominous conclusion of a beautifully no-holds-barred article today:

Promises, Promises – Ill-judged predictions and projections can be embarrassing at best and, at worst, damaging to the authority of science and science policy. by Stuart Blackman – The Scientist, Vol 23, Issue 11, Page 28

The article is full of interesting quotes. Excerpts:

  • It doesn’t take anything so extreme as scientific fraud to scupper what may have seemed, at the time, to be a well-grounded scientific prediction. At its most enthusiastic, science has always been prone to promise rather more, and sooner, than it has managed to deliver
  • Scientists have a strong incentive to make bold predictions—namely, to obtain funding, influence, and high-profile publications. But […] unfulfilled predictions […] can be a blow for patients, policy makers, and for the reputation of science itself
  • [The 1995 Varmus NIH expert panel concluded that] ‘overzealous representation of clinical gene therapy has [led to] misrepresentation [that] threatens confidence in the field and will inevitably lead to disappointment in both medical and lay communities
  • says Brian Wynne, professor of science studies at Lancaster University, UK. ‘Every research proposal these days […] has got to include an [impact]  statement […] basically requiring scientists to make promises, and to exaggerate those promises.
  • As British fertility expert Robert Winston told the BBC in 2005: ‘We tend often to really have rather too much overconfidence. We may exaggerate, simply because […] we need support […] We can go about persuading people a bit too vigorously sometimes.
  • Predictions can also create a sense of haste and urgency that can impede cool, calm reflection on how to proceed at the policy level. [Nik Brown, co-director of the Science and Technology Studies Unit, University of York, UK] says it can create a pressure to legislate before experts properly understand a new research path and its potential.
  • Research [by Joan Haran, Cesagen Research Fellow at Cardiff University, UK shows that] ‘Because of the high esteem in which scientists are held, it becomes very hard to mount a critique of their promises,‘ […] Scientists defending their corner is understandable, says Haran, but it should be recognized that it can be at the expense of healthy skepticism.
  • Predictions can also create a sense of haste and urgency that can impede cool, calm reflection on how to proceed at the policy level. [Brown] says it can create a pressure to legislate before experts properly understand a new research path and its potential. [Sociologist Christine Hauskeller, Senior Research Fellow at the ESRC Centre for Genomics in Society, University of Exeter, UK adds that] this is not only a waste of financial and legal resources […] but it serves to narrow social and scientific possibilities
  • Hilary Rose [professor emerita of the sociology of science at the University of Bradford, UK and Gresham College London] believes that an overemphasis on certain research trajectories, and overoptimistic expectations of what they can deliver, can obscure political and social solutions to problems

Parts of the article are specific to climate science.

The last line in a “Some famous (and infamous) predictions” table classifies as “Right or Wrong? PENDING” this 2007 “prediction

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 4th Assessment Report projects that global surface air temperatures will increase by between 1.1 and 6.4°C over preindustrial levels by the end of the century

A speech at the Copenhagen Climate Conference of February 2009 by the then Danish Prime Minister is mentioned as example of “politicians [trying to] ‘fob off responsibility to scientists’

[Don’t] provide us with too many moving targets, because it is already a very, very complicated process,‘ he said. ‘I need fixed targets and certain figures, and not too many considerations on uncertainty and risk and things like that.‘ Such demands, says [Dan Sarewitz, director of the Consortium for Science, Policy, and Outcomes at Arizona State University], can tempt scientists into providing simplistic and unqualified extrapolations from the current state of knowledge to possible future scenarios.

Is it time to design guidelines to “predict responsibly” then? These are Blackman’s suggestions:

  1. Avoid simple timelines: “try to communicate the complexities of the process rather than make a specific prediction”
  2. Learn from history: “heed the lessons of past predictions and promises”
  3. State the caveats: “inform the public also of the current limitations”
  4. Remember what you don’t know: “scientists know a lot less about technology and innovation and political context”