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Announcing My Next Point of Inquiry Guest: Climatologist Michael Mann (Ask Your Questions Now)
Posted: 22 February 2010 07:47 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Following the last discussion thread here about integrating the podcasts and the forums, I’ve decided to announce my show’s guest a few days early, and to invite audience questions for him/her. I’ll take a sampling from those questions that appear on the forums, and ask them on the air.

So here goes: The guest for Friday is going to be Penn State University climatologist Michael Mann, and we’ll be talking about the unprecedented wave of recent attacks on climate research—and climate scientists. So I am sure there will be many, many questions that folks will come up with.

Michael E. Mann is Director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State, and author of the famous “hockey stick” study, as well as dozens of other peer reviewed papers. He’s also a contributor to RealClimate.org, and is the author, with Lee R. Kump, of Dire Predictions: Understanding Global Warming.

So any questions for Michael Mann? If so, leave them here—and they may just make their way into the interview!

Chris

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Posted: 22 February 2010 08:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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How certain are we that the tree ring data for ancient temperatures is not affected by similar discrepancies as the recent data?

James Hansen has begun to speculate that our rate of climate change is so fast that a Venus scenario is possible.  What are your feelings about this?  If the science does not agree with this viewpoint, should he be called out by fellow scientists?

With the return of the solar cycle, do you think the world is due for a rude awakening to the reality of AGW in the next 5 years?  IE, will solar maximum bring a level of effects that will remove the question of AGW from everyone’s mind?

Do you see efforts such as Clear Climate Code (http://clearclimatecode.org/), an attempt to refactor the GISS temperature analysis code into a readable Python-based source base, as being useful?  Should similar efforts to translate GCMs to a more accessible programming language be attempted?

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Posted: 22 February 2010 09:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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There’s one thing I’d like it to be explored, and has to do with the controversy regarding the climatological stations in urban areas potentially registering a warming trend correlated more to urbanization than to global warming per se. I heard that some of those were found to be in very suspicious locations, like one being found near a vent from a factory of some sort.

What I read so far is that this has been accounted for and that despite the influence this might have on local weather, globally it didn’t affect the conclusion on AGW.

However, it would be nice to know more about this.

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Posted: 22 February 2010 09:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Do you find that climate change denialism is responsive to data and factual arguments, or is it ultimately a faith position or one based on ideology (political, economic, religious) rather than on a genuine skepticism about the quality of the data?

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Posted: 22 February 2010 10:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Given that we live in world with scarce resources that have alternative uses, how many resources should be dedicated to the issue of global warming?  Also, what is the ideal average global temperature (or ideal combination of local temperatures) that should be made the goal of policy makers (presuming that you believe government can effectively solve this problem)?

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Posted: 22 February 2010 10:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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1. I somewhat doubt that Climate Science can get out of its hole on its own. Can Science work effectively with the movement on Stewardship in Christian and other religious communities?

2. I agree that the data is clear enough. One widespread attitude seems to be that brazening through it will be OK, on which more data may make little impact. Alternatively, movies (like Wall-E, say) and other impassioned attempts to communicate apparently feed despair rather than encouraging activism, in response to which it is arguably rational, even if not moral, to enjoy the present. How can we change the Zeitgeist if it’s hard to believe that the political process in the US is unbroken enough to go against the self-interest group’s narrow focus and the self-interest of the individual voter’s now?

3. Science, historically, has not developed ethical and moral resources enough to insist on restraint (pace, inter alia, the descriptive economics, psychology, anthropology, and sociology of selflessness and its evolutionary cognates, which gives rather poor ground for prescription). To the contrary, Science often, albeit not universally, justifies itself as the conduit to new technological consumption. Science has brazened through, and sometimes stridently rejected, Philosophical and Historical portrayals of its sociological aspects, but these portrayals are given significant credence in wider society (a disconnect that arguably resulted in the Superconducting Super Collider calamity for the Physics community). The data can be dismissed as part of Scientists’ self-serving agenda, with at least some justification, in which case what authority might be claimed? Has Science lost the spiritual authority of the conflict of “Silent Spring” with the coincidence of Scientific and Industrial interests?

4. What is to be done about the unworldly, isolated, self-righteous Scientist? Isolated, that is, in his/her community of conferences around the world. Present company excepted, of course, all of whom I’m sure have won plenty of fist fights and arguments without bringing out the heavy ammunition of disdain, data and insight.

Short, longer, too long, and too close to the bone. All perhaps too hard and absurd to answer. My inclination is to be as brutally honest as I can find a way to be, but it does not feel as if other Scientists are willing to go there. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea culpa. I wish you luck with this thread, in the hope that others will do better.

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Posted: 22 February 2010 10:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Brian,
A recent study was released that compared the signal of “good” stations vs “bad” stations, and found that “bad” stations tended to *understate* the temperature rise.  Perhaps climate scientists were being overly cautious in their attempts to adjust for the Urban Heat Island effect?

http://www.skepticalscience.com/On-the-reliability-of-the-US-Surface-Temperature-Record.html
ftp://ftp.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/ushcn/v2/monthly/menne-etal2010.pdf

Also, there is a new Climate Reference Network installed in the US to provide high-quality data because of concerns the UHI might be skewing the numbers.  Results so far have shown the original network to align well with the USCRN data:

http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/crn/
http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=1419

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Posted: 22 February 2010 10:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Thanks, Richard, I’ll look into it. smile

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Posted: 22 February 2010 10:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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1. Aren’t we focusing too much on global warming instead of putting global warming in the context of our global ecological overshoot of which it is only a part?

The things that have to be done to prevent global warming are the same things that have to be done to prevent global civilizational collapse due to the combination of peak oil and mineral resource exhaustion, soil degradation, fossil aquifers depletion, ecosystems destructions, etc. All of the above are much more difficult to deny by any sane person (which doesn’t mean that plenty, if not most people will still deny that there is any problem) than it is to deny AGW due to the inherent uncertainties in studying a complex system like climate, so by focusing on global warming as the single dominant issue, the goal (preventing civilizational collapse) becomes much more difficult to achieve.

2. Also, since this means reversing the growth of our environmental impact on the planet (which in turn means such very unpopular things as reductions of either population or per capita consumption, or both), shouldn’t the people trying to communicate these things to the public be a lot more honest with the public and themselves and tell these things without sugar coating them?

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Posted: 22 February 2010 10:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Michigan_Man - 22 February 2010 10:03 AM

Given that we live in world with scarce resources that have alternative uses, how many resources should be dedicated to the issue of global warming?  Also, what is the ideal average global temperature (or ideal combination of local temperatures) that should be made the goal of policy makers (presuming that you believe government can effectively solve this problem)?

Given that we live in a world with scarce resources, how affordable is it to continue exponentially growing our use of those resources?

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Posted: 22 February 2010 10:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Georgi Marinov - 22 February 2010 10:26 AM
Michigan_Man - 22 February 2010 10:03 AM

Given that we live in world with scarce resources that have alternative uses, how many resources should be dedicated to the issue of global warming?  Also, what is the ideal average global temperature (or ideal combination of local temperatures) that should be made the goal of policy makers (presuming that you believe government can effectively solve this problem)?

Given that we live in a world with scarce resources, how affordable is it to continue exponentially growing our use of those resources?

I could give a response, but I’m pretty sure this particular thread was set up for questions, so let’s not clutter it up with back and forth.  For the sake of propriety shall we agree to leave questions unchallenged so that the original poster can more easily shift through the questions?

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Posted: 22 February 2010 10:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Michigan_Man - 22 February 2010 10:30 AM

I could give a response, but I’m pretty sure this particular thread was set up for questions, so let’s not clutter it up with back and forth.  For the sake of propriety shall we agree to leave questions unchallenged so that the original poster can more easily shift through the questions?

Yes, let’s try to limit the back-and-forth in this thread. Anyone wishing to have a separate discussion on any of these topics, please feel free to begin a new thread and direct people there with a link.

(For those not familiar with the workings of this forum, blue posts are official Admin or Moderator posts, so the color blue is reserved for that function, as outlined in the Forum Rules. Links always appear in a somewhat darker blue shade, which can be moderately confusing, but there’s no changing it).

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Posted: 22 February 2010 03:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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There are some great, great questions here. Thanks, folks. You will hear some of them, and Mike Mann’s response to them, on Friday!

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Posted: 22 February 2010 03:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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1. Would open review systems at journals help diffuse allegations of editorial bias?

2. Can you get very old climate or weather data from fossilized wood?

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Posted: 22 February 2010 06:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Thanks for fielding questions!

Two-parter:  What sort of potential evidence might be discovered in the near future (i.e., besides cooling) that could possibly falsify the current consensus about the cause of AGW, or what might cast it into doubt?  Are there any competing hypotheses or theories that are taken seriously by reputable climate scientists?

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Posted: 22 February 2010 07:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Perhaps if the “cap and trade” supertax agenda was not being so agressively purveyed as the sole and necessarily immediate cure to GW which MUST be controlled by what basically amounts to a non-elected world (and basically foreign) government, it could not then be accused of being just a massive power grab and/or wealth redistribution plot of the “new world order” as so many conspiracy theorists love to point out.  Scoff at them as ignorant primitives if you wish but there is a huge following for this line of thinking which has gathered up more than an ample amount of its own evidence as well as a few e-mails which were either leaked or stolen which seem to support their own particular line of reasoning however paranoid that might be.  And yes, those folks also vote.

Since the momentum for any serious degree of world-wide cooperation now appears to be seriously stalled with such probably being just a pipe dream in the first place which would probably have never materialized beyond the signing of an ultimately unenforcable treaty or agreement and which was apparently chiefly being promoted by those special interests in a position to profit greatly by it - what next to actually save the world?  Can we collectively do something on a more local level to preserve at least our breathable atmosphere if not our protective one which actually makes sense or does this all just fade away and we let the chips fall where they may?

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