Sunday, September 29, 2013

Suing for Failure to Predict The Pause

enzo boschiThis week's Science magazine has a letter by Enzo Boschi, one of the Italien seismologists sentenced to imprisonment for failing to give adequate warning to the population of L’Aquila, Italy, about the risk of the April 6, 2009 earthquake (309 people died).

Boshi got 6 years. His letter is a cry for help, and it's hard not to feel sorry for the guy (and also, outraged in general at what Italy has done here). His letter ends:
The public prosecutor’s superficial interpretation of scientific results to bolster his argument sets a grave precedent for not only seismology but many other disciplines as well. Science is constantly evolving; research proceeds by trial and—as knowledge grows—error. When I wrote the “indicted” work, I was addressing my worldwide peers and awaiting their verification, as must be the way of all modern scientific research.

In publishing an official map, seismologists have doneall they currently can to protect society from earthquakes. I can hardly be blamed for the poor quality of buildings or forpeople’s failure to conform toanti-seismic laws—these are the responsibilities of other authorities. The local CPA is responsible for accurate communication of risk and effective management of emergency situations. I did not disseminate false or imprudent information. My question is: What could I do to avoid conviction? I suppose Ishould have foreseen the earthquake!
The LA Times covers it here.... Let's hope it doesn't set a precedent, but if it does and this is how the game is going to be played, what would stop a company or industry who has been subjected to greenhouse gas regulations from suing the IPCC or GISS or James Hansen or someone/anyone for failing to, say, predict The Pause, claiming their bottom line suffered for a problem that isn't happening as predicted?

Crazy enough to happen, particularly in today's America?

11 comments:

Unknown said...

There's a subtle difference. One error was passive, the other was active. The Italian scientists failed to predict the earthquake, but they never claimed to be able to make such predictions. The climate scientists did claim to be able to predict climate in the future. So far, those predictions haven't come about.

Dano said...

The climate scientists did claim to be able to predict climate in the future. So far, those predictions haven't come about.

Nope.

They make projections. And they're pretty good overall.

Best,

D

PS: I can't use the underline tag??

Victor Venema said...

If anyone should fear prosecution it would be WUWT and Co. and not climate science. I do hope that that is not the way the science will be settled.

While the case in Italy sounds weird to me, I am not sure if one should frame it as an attack on science. If an architect or an engineer designs a building or bridge and it collapses, I guess that may give some juridical problems and that would be justified.

The map with the risk of Earth quakes could be seen to be similar to a building design.

On the other hand, one Earth quake does not invalidate a map and all the other claims of the prosecutor also sound strange.

Unknown said...

Hi, Dano --

No, the projections came out wrong. The IPCC said tHat temp would rise at a rate of .3 degrees per decade, but temps were essentially flat for 15 or 16 years. They said hurricanes would be worse. Instead, the US hasn't been hit with a Class 3,4 or 5 for a record number of years. The models said warming in the lower troposphere would be higher than at ground level. Instead, there has been less warming there.

David inCal

David Appell said...

By their very nature, all projections are wrong.

The IPCC did not say temperatures would rise by 0.3 C/decade. The 4AR SPM says (pg 7):

"For the next two decades a warming of about 0.2°C per decade
is projected for a range of SRES emissions scenarios. Even
if the concentrations of all GHGs and aerosols had been kept
constant at year 2000 levels, a further warming of about 0.1°C
per decade would be expected. Afterwards, temperature projections
increasingly depend on specific emissions scenarios."

My 3AR is packed in a box somewhere, so I don't know what it says.

David Appell said...

Instead, the US hasn't been hit with a Class 3,4 or 5 for a record number of years.

And in those years the US has had two of its worst storms in history -- Katrina and Sandy. Even though they were less than Class 3, they were especially bad in part because (especially for Sandy) sea levels are higher and because the storms were so large.

Disregarding storms because they aren't of a certain class isn't a very relevant measure to their human impact.

David Appell said...

but temps were essentially flat for 15 or 16 years.

No they haven't, and in any case 15-year trends fluctuate greatly and are a very poor way to detect global warming.

Here are the 15-year trends today, and, in parantheses, in October 2007:

GISS: 0.09 C/decade (0.27 C/dec)

HadCRUT4: 0.07 C/decade (0.25 C/dec)

This number jumps all around. Deniers ignored it when it was so high just six years ago, and claimed the surface data was useless. Now they accept the data just fine. Sorry, but that's not scientific in the least.

David Appell said...

The models said warming in the lower troposphere would be higher than at ground level. Instead, there has been less warming there.

Also false. The data cannot distinguish which is lower over this time period.

Here are the trends since Dec 1978 with an AR(1) correlation for the uncertainties:

UAH LT: 0.14 +/- 0.03 C/dec
RSS LT: 0.13 +/- 0.03 C/dec
GISS: 0.16 +/- 0.03 C/dec
HadCRUT4: 0.15 +/- 0.03 C/dec

David Appell said...

Not only that, the divergence between UAH and RSS means it's not clear *either* is a good representative of true tropospheric temperatures.

Here's what the 5AR WG1 says (section TS.2.2.2):

"Hence there is only medium confidence in the rate of change and its vertical structure in the Northern Hemisphere extra-tropical
troposphere and low confidence elsewhere."

Unknown said...

David --

I'm going to be too busy to maintain this debate, but I will make one final comment, responding to your statement, "15-year trends fluctuate greatly and are a very poor way to detect global warming."

This statement is just POOMA. There are no peer-reviewed studies confirming this comment. This is an example of some climate change spokesperson making up a convenient new principle out of whole cloth.

Cheers
David in Cal

David Appell said...

Bull. You don't need a peer reviewed study to know that a metric which fluctuates greatly cannot be a good indicator of long-term climate change -- it's simply common sense.

Here is what Roger Pielke Sr told me a few months ago (and he has written this elsewhere):

"These large changes in ocean content reveal that the Earth’s surface is not a great place to look for a planetary energy imbalance. “This means this heat is not being sampled by the global average surface temperature trend,” he says. “Since that metric is being used as the icon to report to policymakers on climate change, it illustrates a defect in using the two-dimensional field of surface temperature to diagnose global warming.”"

http://www.yaleclimatemediaforum.org/2013/05/wither-global-warming-has-it-slowed-down/