Sinclair has discussed a couple of paragraphs from the Trenberth op ed, but forgive me for offering my two cent’s worth.
The 456 words of this op ed, presumably written by Trenberth and signed by 37 of his friends and colleagues is dwarfed by the 532 words used to list the author and his co-signers and their various credentials. It is typical of the folly of appealing to authority / credentials rather than mounting a sensible argument.
That 38 people would put their names to such a pathetic attempt at defence says a lot about their character and aptitude. After studying a second-rate ‘science’ and enjoying a long period of excessive returns for that study, they are now finding life is becoming a little more difficult and their views are coming under attack by scientists considerably more intelligent than these 38. Is this the best they can do?
So pathetic is the piece, it is irresistible to pull it apart.
Do you consult your dentist about your heart condition?
Well, yes. Dental health is an excellent indicator of one’s heart condition.
In science, as in any area, reputations are based on knowledge and expertise in a field and on published, peer-reviewed work.
In any area? I think not – I would tend to trust a plumber with proven results and competency rather than one who has written in a peer-reviewed journal. Was Winston Churchill a bad Prime Minister because he didn’t write in a peer-reviewed journal? Peer-review is neither necessary nor sufficient to judge the competence and ability of an individual whether in science or elsewhere. It is an indicator, yes, but subject to abuse.
If you need surgery, you want a highly experienced expert in the field who has done a large number of the proposed operations.
Indeed, but such a surgeon has probably not written in a peer-reviewed journal. Moreover, the results of the surgeon’s past operations are an excellent indicator of his or her qualities. Climate change scientists have to date failed to provide predictions which have proven accurate / testable. They have no results from which one can judge: computer models are not evidence, but a tool.
The opinion piece “climate change ‘heretics’ refute carbon dangers” ((Wednesday)) was the climate-science equivalent of dentists practicing cardiology.
Not at all. Having people challenge the views of climate-scientists is a healthy part of the scientific method, not to mention a fundamental democratic right. Expertise in climate science is not required and may blind adherents to evidence that is running counter to the claims. These are not disinterested scientists – they have invested their life in the particular field and will naturally resist if evidence mounts that CO2 is not so important in climate change as is asserted. The metaphor is invalid: of course one would not want a non-surgeon to operate on a live person. Climate science should be compared with history, physics, economics etc where anyone should be welcome to provide comment and to challenge views. As in any science, evidence, reason and experimentation will persuade people as to where the truth lies. Only one who is unsure of oneself should fear such challenges.
Climate experts know the long-term warming trend has not abated in the past decade. In fact, it was the warmest decade on record. Observations show unequivocally our planet is getting hotter.
This is where climate scientists go wrong. These lines read like blind faith rather than science which should acknowledge doubt and not over-egg the evidence. The evidence on warming is not ‘unequivocal’.
Thus, climate experts also know what one of us, Kevin Trenberth, meant by the out-of-context, misrepresented quote used in the opinion piece. Mr Trenberth was lamenting the inadequacy of observing systems to fully monitor warming trends in the deep ocean and other aspects of the short-term variations that always occur, together with the long-term human-induced warming trend.
Nice shift to the third person. But Trenberth’s words were
The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t
Didn’t Trenberth just say that warming was ‘unequivocal’? I can see only two ways to interpret this quote whether of not it is ‘out of context’:
- Trenberth thinks that the planet is warming but the physical evidence is not supporting the claim (hence it is a ‘travesty’); or
- it is a travesty that we don’t have sufficient good quality physical evidence on which to assess whether the planet is warming or not.
If the latter, that’s fine, but then one cannot also assert that warming is ‘unequivocal’. Again, climate models are not evidence: only physical measurements of the actual climate provide evidence and if (as Trenberth is now stating) the measurement techniques are insufficient or inadequate then, yes, we should improve the measurement. But, then, the extant measurements (which are acknowledged to be inadequate) should be treated with caution.
The National Academy of Sciences of the US (set up by Abraham Lincoln to advise on scientific issues) and major national academies of science around the world and every other authoritative body of scientists active in climate research state the science is clear: the world is heating up and humans are primarily responsible. Impacts are already apparent and will increase. Reducing future impacts will require significant reductions in emissions.
Research shows more than 97 per cent of scientists actively publishing in the field agree climate change is real and caused by humans. It would be an act of recklessness for any political leader to disregard the weight of evidence and ignore the enormous risks climate change clearly poses.
Again, assertion and appeal to authority. How tiresome. They would say that, wouldn’t they?
There is also clear evidence the transition to a low-carbon economy will not only allow the world to avoid the worst risks of climate change, but could also drive decades of economic growth. Just what the doctor ordered.
After writing that only climate scientists should opine about climate science, we should take notice of climate scientists writing about economics? Has Trenberth and his 37 friends written in a peer-reviewed economics journal such as the AER? Fortunately economists do not feel threatened when people hold forth on economics.
I would put my trust in Harrison Schmidt, the Apollo 17 astronaut and geologist, than Kevin Trenberth and his 37 colleagues. He has been able to see the earth from a perspective denied to Trenberth.