Monday, March 29, 2010

Gaia's James Lovelock on modern science and climate change

Interesting stuff indeed.

He seems to have backed away completely from his apocalyptic pronouncements of just a few years ago, such as Antarctica being the only inhabitable place left by the end of this century.

I've only scanned the article, but the interviewer seems to have chosen to ignore this. Admittedly they were a total embarrassment. I know if I had said anything as foolish, I wouldn't want to be reminded of it.

From the Guardian here http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2010/mar/29/james-lovelock

On the "Climategate" email scandal:

I was utterly disgusted. My second thought was that it was inevitable. It was bound to happen. Science, not so very long ago, pre-1960s, was largely vocational. Back when I was young, I didn't want to do anything else other than be a scientist. They're not like that nowadays. They don't give a damn. They go to these massive, mass-produced universities and churn them out. They say: "Science is a good career. You can get a job for life doing government work." That's no way to do science.

I have seen this happen before, of course. We should have been warned by the CFC/ozone affair because the corruption of science in that was so bad that something like 80% of the measurements being made during that time were either faked, or incompetently done.

And:

I would only have been too pleased if someone had asked me for my data. If you really believed in your data, you wouldn't mind someone looking at it. You should be able to respond that if you don't believe me go out and do the measurements yourself.

On the over-reliance on computer modelling [in climate science]:

We tend to now get carried away by our giant computer models. But they're not complete models. They're based more or less entirely on geophysics. They don't take into account the climate of the oceans to any great extent, or the responses of the living stuff on the planet. So I don't see how they can accurately predict the climate. It's not the computational power that we lack today, but the ability to take what we know and convert it into a form the computers will understand. I think we've got too high an opinion of ourselves. We're not that bright an animal. We stumble along very nicely and it's amazing what we do do sometimes, but we tend to be too hubristic to notice the limitations. If you make a model, after a while you get suckered into it. You begin to forget that it's a model and think of it as the real world. You really start to believe it.

On some climate sceptics:

I think the sceptics have done us a good service because they've made us look at all this a lot more closely and hopefully the science will improve as a result.

And:

There is one sceptic that everyone should read and that is Garth Paltridge. He's written a book called the Climate Caper. It is a devastating, critical book. It is so good. This impresses me a lot. Like me, he's convinced that if you put a trillion tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which we will have done in 20 years' time, it's going to have some nasty effects, but what we don't know if how nasty and when. 

On the current state of climate science:

The great climate science centres around the world are more than well aware how weak their science is. If you talk to them privately they're scared stiff of the fact that they don't really know what the clouds and the aerosols are doing. They could be absolutely running the show. We haven't got the physics worked out yet. One of the chiefs once said to me that he agreed that they should include the biology in their models, but he said they hadn't got the physics right yet and it would be five years before they do. So why on earth are the politicians spending a fortune of our money when we can least afford it on doing things to prevent events 50 years from now? They've employed scientists to tell them what they want to hear. The Germans and the Danes are making a fortune out of renewable energy.

On the surveys showing that public trust with climate science is eroding:

I think the public are right. That's why I'm soft on the sceptics. Science has got overblown. From the moment Harold Wilson brought in that stuff about the "white heat of technology", science, in Britain at least, has gone down the drain. Science was always elitist and has to be elitist. The very idea of diluting it down [to be more egalitarian] is crazy. We're paying the price for it now.

Posted via email from Garth's posterous

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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