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American Physical Society on climate change

  1. Jul 20, 2008 #1
    For a brief moment it appeared that the American Physical Society had reversed its stance on climate change:

    http://www.dailytech.com/Myth+of+Consensus+Explodes+APS+Opens+Global+Warming+Debate/article12403.htm

    However look at the red text above the article:

    http://www.aps.org/units/fps/newsletters/200807/monckton.cfm

    However both statements (peer review, overwhelming opinion) appear to be more complicated:

    See: this about the peer review and this thread for the numbers game.
     
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  3. Jul 20, 2008 #2

    ZapperZ

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    Somehow, I knew you'd bring this up.

    I'm both a member of the APS AND also a member of the division of the Forum on Physics and Society. The articles in question appeared in the Forum on Physics and Society's newsletter's, NOT in any peer-reviewed form other than being looked over by the newsletter editors. The APS has a separate newsletter that it sends out to all its members. It has no editorial control, nor it dictates what each division publishes as long as it does not transgressed over the APS mission and bylaws.

    So to claim that this newsletter somehow indicate that the APS might be changing its mind is a fallacy and existed only in the minds of those trying to find some credibility in the anti-global warming scenario. No such thing is occurring (refer to the APS's and AIP's statement on this issue). The APS and the division in question only had to make itself clear ONLY after many website and blogs suddenly blew this out of proportion, as if to indicate a shift in opinion by the society.

    Bob Park had a comment last Friday on this apparent debacle in his What's New column.

    Zz.
     
  4. Jul 20, 2008 #3
  5. Jul 20, 2008 #4

    ZapperZ

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    .. and this highlights my only major disappointment with the way the APS Forum on Physics and Society's attempt at addressing this. Of all the credible scientists out there that have published several peer-reviewed papers on questioning the IPCC conclusions, why in the world did they have to choose Monckton to write the counter article?

    I think this is why I was quite interested in the article on "Rethinking Expertise", and why, especially on something like this topic, one some time can't tell when someone has a true expertise, or simply "interactional expertise".

    Zz.
     
  6. Jul 20, 2008 #5
    Thank you for some context ZapperZ. From what I got out of these posts it doesn't seem like the APS is planning on switching its position yet, esp. just because of one opinion that appeared in not even its most prominent newsletter.

    The headline of that article seems to be attention grabbing and exaggerated journalism at its best (or worst).
     
  7. Jul 21, 2008 #6
    Right, but then again it would have been more difficult to distantiate from an article of, say for instance Roy Spencer or Richard Lindzen or Bob Carter
     
  8. Jul 21, 2008 #7

    ZapperZ

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    But that's like saying you'd rather listen to the dumbed down version of global warming from Al Gore rather than those who actually did original research work on this issue. Do you?

    Complex problem isn't easy by definition. I'd rather get it straight from the horse's mouth rather than after being filtered and reported elsewhere.

    Zz.
     
  9. Jul 21, 2008 #8
    More than happy to turn the horse mouth inside out. You should visit the earth forums more often.
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2008
  10. Jul 21, 2008 #9

    ZapperZ

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    Why? Is there someone there who actually know about this beyond just at the "interactional expertise"?

    Zz.
     
  11. Jul 21, 2008 #10

    Evo

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    Seriously, an "invitaton to debate" is nowhere near taking a stance. That news article really was sensationalist and in my opinion harmed the growing voice of people saying that "something is rotten in the IPCC". Sensationalism turns my stomach, period, even though I am one that agrees that the IPCC intentionally skewed their report, based on the release of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report Papers: Working Group I, The Physical Science Basis of Climate Change, 2005-2007; Expert Review Comments on First-Order Draft, Chapter 1. ESPP IPCCAR4WG1, which was previously withheld from the public until they were sued for the information under the "Freedom of Information Act".

    The previously withheld report can be viewed here - http://pds.lib.harvard.edu/pds/view/7794905?n=2&imagesize=1200&jp2Res=.25 Where you can see how the IPCC "picked" the data they wished to present. Make your own judgement. I would suggest you download it since the IPCC has been "moving it" without re-directional links to let you find it. Surely it's not intentional.

    How people could have misconstrued the invitation to debate as anything but an invitation to debate is beyond me. It is over-reactions by over zealous people on both sides that is making rational discussion impossible.

    The APS appears to have backed down a bit, since there is just a minor notice which they deemed necessary due to the misinformation spread in the media. I do not see where they did anything wrong. It has nothing to do with the merit's of Monckton's paper. I have not read a critique of the paper so I have no opinion.
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2008
  12. Sep 17, 2008 #11

    ZapperZ

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    In a new study about energy problem in the US, the APS has issued its report on this issue. If there was so much brouhaha by opponents of the IPCC and Global Warming that the APS may have changed its mind and might be questioning the validity of the such findings, then maybe this report will quiet that down.

    Here's a passage from the report:

    So if people wanted somehow to attach themselves to the APS due to its prestige when they were under the impression that the APS was siding with them, then they should also pay equal, if not more, attention to this report, since it does not come out of some "newsletter" but rather an official report issued by the society.

    This should also end any and all question regarding the APS's stand on the issue of Global Warming.

    Zz.
     
  13. Sep 17, 2008 #12
    Here is Lawrence Krauss's (outgoing chair of the APS's forum on physics and society) take on the issue and of this "Monckton" character:

    So that original article is loaded with misinformation because they act as if that Monckton character was a respected scientist in the APS publishing articles against the trend, forcing the APS to reverse its stance.
     
  14. Sep 17, 2008 #13

    Evo

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    Zz, I found the first paragraph, but not the next two. Do you know if the other two paragraphs you quoted are in some other report? I did a google search on the first sentence of each paragraph and "APS" and nothing came up.
     
  15. Sep 17, 2008 #14

    mheslep

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    Interesting that APS singled out greenhouse gas effects as beyond dispute and at the same time said nothing about feedbacks. The direct ~1.5W / 0.1C from CO2 greenhouse forcing alone is trivial, the IPCC gets most of its predicted warming from feedbacks fed by CO2 forcing.
     
  16. Sep 18, 2008 #15
    Energie safety, surety and securety is the first essential element to ensure a sustaining society. Therefore it is paramount to move away from depleting fossil fuels eventually and moderate the use to slow down depletion. Therefore, it would have been so good if greenhouse effect be a real threat to the climate.

    But the question remains: is it?

    If it is not and proof of that seems underway then the alarmism will backfire. There is only one remedy:
     
  17. Sep 18, 2008 #16

    Ivan Seeking

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  18. Sep 18, 2008 #17

    ZapperZ

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    It doesn't matter. You originally created this thread with what purpose? Look at the "intent" of your original post. If you pay that much credibility to the APS, then you cannot pick and choose when to respect its opinion and when you drop it.

    This is not about the validity of Global warming. If it is, it shouldn't have been started in, of all places, the Politics forum. It is about people trying to get the "aura" of the APS as a professional physics organization and its track record. You had no problem latching onto it when there was an impression (faulty as it were) that an organization as respected as the APS might be "changing" its mind with respect to this issue. But now, you change your tune when it clearly has stated something you don't like.

    Zz.
     
  19. Sep 18, 2008 #18

    Evo

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  20. Sep 19, 2008 #19

    vanesch

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    If I may tune in: indeed :approve:
    The passages quoted by Zz show an ambivalent stance which is the main problem of this debate:

    First paragraph: catastrophic climate change is a scientific reality (?)

    Second paragraph: the *physics and chemistry* of greenhouse gasses is understood (that's about what's modeled by MODTRANS), probably true.

    Third paragraph: it's a complex system (the feedbacks, models and all that) which we don't understand completely yet, but some (simulation) results are so dramatic that conservative action should be undertaken... (understood: even if this has a small chance of being right, it is so dramatic that we can't take the risk).

    The third paragraph almost contradicts the first: if it were a scientific reality, then the third paragraph doesn't make any sense. If it were just a matter of physics and chemistry, then the modeling wouldn't be so terribly complex (unfortunately that modeling doesn't predict anything dramatic). The complexity is indeed in the feedback mechanisms, which are the essential part of the "drama": without them, the physics and chemistry predict a modest warming, and with them, it can become indeed dramatic. However, most of them are very badly understood. If we can say that it is "a scientific reality", then we cannot at the same time hide behind "it is still complex and we didn't understand everything yet".

    Does that mean that I'm against the third paragraph ? No. Does it mean I am somehow convinced that there's no climate change (in other words that I'm a sceptic ?). No. What I am against, is that one misuses words such as "scientific reality" to try to give more "truth" than one actually possesses on this issue. Yes, one should be careful. Yes, climate change is not excluded, and yes, the consequences could potentially be dramatic.
    BUT: no, we don't know for sure AT ALL. It is not "a scientific reality". It is a working hypothesis, which is based partially on "well-known physics and chemistry" and also on a lot of speculation.

    And I agree with Andre (who, I think, is more convinced than I am that there is *no* significant climate change - I keep the possibility totally open), that this might seriously backfire *if ever* it is proved wrong. A "scientific reality" cannot be wrong, or it means that scientists don't know how to find out anything. And *if ever* this is the case - that is, if ever it turns out that the effect of the greenhouse gasses are precisely what the *chemistry and physics* predict they are (as given by MODTRAN), then the AGW proponents amongst the scientists will have given a terrible blow to the credibility of science in general, given the enormous amount of useless expenses they will have caused with their fearmongering.

    The third paragraph, by itself, would have been ok: "we don't know, but we have credible scenarios in which something terrible will happen if we don't take action. But we may be wrong too. We simply don't know. Let's be cautious."
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2008
  21. Sep 19, 2008 #20
    It might slightly different. We do not know how it works exactly but we do know how it does not work, right? We know that aether does not exist and neither does phlogiston. Once a hypothesis is put to the test, it might join the ranks of those two. But even when saving the world was not at stake, the death struggle of these two was most impressive to say the least.
     
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