Friday, March 28, 2014

The Latest Dust-up

I don't have any special information about the Pielke Jr/Mann/Trenberth dust-up.... The third of the five stages of grief is "bargaining," and I suppose that's the phase climate change is in now, with all the threats of lawsuits flying around (and the actual lawsuits).

I like all three of these guys, and have used them often for sources. And I still hope to. But, in my opinion, this latest incident is nothing compared to Roger's accusations last year about Shaun Marcott and his co-authors, where he outright accused them of fraud for, as far as I can tell, merely presenting two pieces of information on the same graph.

I thought that was very far beyond the pale, and much more egregious than this latest. So when he writes, as Talking Points Memo reported, " the future how about we agree to disagree over scientific topics like gentlemen?," it rings kind of hollow.

Recently someone -- I forget who -- said about Roger that he seems to think climate change is a big problem, but he disagrees with everything anyone says about it. I feel like I kind of get that in a way -- it can be much more interesting to go slightly against the grain, to find a special angle that stands out. It gets you more attention, and it makes you look like an "honest broker" compared to all the...well, compared to all the lemmings.

But it's a difficult position to consistently pull off over the long-term, and it's easy to become obstinate just for the sake of being obstinate. That's not a comfortable position to be in.

The last year or two seems like a really ugly time in climate science, and in the writing and blogging about it. There is a lot at stake, not just scientifically and professionally but historically as well, and when once Newton and Leibniz could have a calm, leisurely feud in correspondence and journal papers, today it happens almost faster than you can read and maybe faster than people can think.

It's easy to get caught up in it, which I've certainly been guilty of. It's easy to forget that this is a problem that will be unfolding for many decades, and even centuries, and in a real sense we're only in the beginning of it. Or maybe the end of the beginning. But lately it seems like a lot of people are telling other people to just shut up, they're wrong or even liars, and I suspect this is only going to get worse -- perhaps much worse.

Anyway, the Singularity will be here before you know it, and I suspect that as soon as a computer system becomes intelligent enough to keep exponentially improving itself, one of the very first things it will do is shut down all of our CO2-emitting power plants and motor vehicles, because it's not an idiot like we are.

I guess the saying is ultimately right -- keep calm and collect more data. What else is there, really?

1 comment:

Victor Venema said...

I would think that the reactions are not so fierce because of the content of the Pielke's post. Had he written the same at his blog, no one would have cared.

The reactions are because the story was published at Nate Silvers blog, which used to be a strong brand for people interested in reality.