[ RadSafe ] Keeping an open mind Are we keeping an open mind?

Jeff Terry terryj at iit.edu
Tue Oct 19 12:44:01 CDT 2010

Hi All, 

I think that everyone can accept that the climate changes. I am composing this message from a spot that was at one time under approximately 1 km of ice. I live in spot that was underwater. Climate changes, topography changes, etc., for most of the lifetime of the earth these changes were clearly not driven by anthropogenic sources. 

That does not mean that future changes cannot be driven by anthropogenic sources. There are plenty of examples of human caused environmental destruction, for example, see deforestation due to acid rain. 

However, the current global warming controversy is highly politicized. Science is never settled. Newtonian Mechanics ruled for 200 years before it was shown to be incomplete. Relativity is constantly being tested by science as is the theory of Quantum Mechanics. IMO, if someone makes statements of the fact that the science is settled, it smacks of bad science. 

Grandiose claims require overwhelming evidence. It the Global Warming/Climate Change people would like me to take them serious, they could start by:

1.) Release the code for their computer models – all the computer code that I use is either freely available or is available for purchase. That allows me to search for flaws and more importantly to test for flaws. It is never good to wait or Russian hackers to release your code with comments paraphrased as I have no idea what this line does but if we take it out the temperature doesn't increase. 
That said I use this code as an example in my computational physics course as an example of bad programming.
2.) Stop practicing Hollywood science – we all have egos and I suppose we all like to see ourselves on television but there is a reason that the shortest scientific presentations are 10 minutes long. It is really difficult to discuss science in sound bites. This type of science dilutes the brand name.
3.) Leave the politics to the politicians – describe the science and let the judgments be made.  Leave that posturing to the politicians. Just because you have the background to study the climate does not make you an expert on the social science of effects. Don't make pronouncements to these effects, this goes beyond the Global Warming crowd. Grandiose posturing that you know best is rarely effective to the public. 

Bad science is like pornography, I know it when I see it. 

One does not necessarily need to be a climate change expert to see some/many of the flaws in the work. 

Of course, having flaws in the methodology and large egos amongst the players, does not mean that ultimately their projections are incorrect. Anthropogenic climate change may very well be an important effect in the future or even in the present, but the evidence for ACC/AGW is not currently overwhelming and is a very rich area for study. 


Jeff Terry
Asst. Professor of Physics
Life Science Bldg Rm 166
Illinois Institute of Technology
3101 S. Dearborn St. 
Chicago IL 60616
terryj at iit.edu

On Oct 19, 2010, at 12:43 PM, Bernard L. Cohen wrote:

> There have been periods in the Earth's early history where global warming by CO2 is universally (or at least widely) accepted by geologists as an important cause of elevated temperatures.
> On 10/19/2010 10:41 AM, Brent Rogers wrote:
>> I lack the competence to debate climate science (other than to note that they strongly correlate with one's political views) but if you really find it "completely false" that increased levels of CO2 increases temperature may I suggest you redirect your wikipedia to the planet of Venus?
> -- 
> Bernard L. Cohen
> Physics Dept., University of Pittsburgh
> Pittsburgh, PA 15260
> Tel: (412)624-9245  Fax: (412)624-9163
> e-mail: blc at pitt.edu  web site: http://www.phyast.pitt.edu/~blc
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