American Physical Society on climate change

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  • #1
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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

The following article has not undergone any scientific peer review. Its conclusions are in disagreement with the overwhelming opinion of the world scientific community. The Council of the American Physical Society disagrees with this article's conclusions.
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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  • #2
ZapperZ
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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.
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.
 
  • #3
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This falls in line with a list of scientist who do not agree with the IPCCs conclusions about global warming:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientists_opposing_the_mainstream_scientific_assessment_of_global_warming" [Broken]
 
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  • #4
ZapperZ
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This falls in line with a list of scientist who do not agree with the IPCCs conclusions about global warming:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientists_opposing_the_mainstream_scientific_assessment_of_global_warming" [Broken]
.. 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 "https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=241388"", 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.
 
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  • #5
OrbitalPower
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).
 
  • #6
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.. f 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?
Right, but then again it would have been more difficult to distantiate from an article of, say for instance http://www.weatherquestions.com/Roy-Spencer-on-global-warming.htm [Broken] or Richard Lindzen or Bob Carter
 
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  • #7
ZapperZ
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Right, but then again it would have been more difficult to distantiate from an article of, say for instance http://www.weatherquestions.com/Roy-Spencer-on-global-warming.htm [Broken] or Richard Lindzen or Bob Carter
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.
 
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  • #8
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More than happy to turn the horse mouth inside out. You should visit the earth forums more often.
 
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  • #9
ZapperZ
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More than happy to turn the horse mouth inside out. You should visit the earth forums more often.
Why? Is there someone there who actually know about this beyond just at the "interactional expertise"?

Zz.
 
  • #10
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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.
 
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  • #11
ZapperZ
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In a new study about energy problem in the US, http://www.aps.org/energyefficiencyreport/index.cfm" [Broken]. 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:

Without question, the United States faces a greater energy risk today than it has at any time in its history. But the nation and the world face another risk that was barely recognized thirty-five years ago. Global warming and the potential it has for causing major disruptions to Earth’s climate are scientific realities. The precise extent of the human contribution to global warming still needs deeper understanding, but there is virtually no disagreement among scientists that it is real and substantial.

The physics and chemistry of the greenhouse gas effect are well understood and beyond dispute. Science has also achieved an overwhelming consensus that the increase in greenhouse gases is largely of human origin, tracing back to the Industrial Revolution and accelerating in recent years, as carbon dioxide and methane—the products of fossil fuel use—have entered the atmosphere in increasing quantities.

Modeling the climate has proven to be a complex scientific task. But although the models are far from perfect, many of their predictions are so alarming that conservative, risk-averse policymaking requires that they be considered with extraordinary gravity.
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.
 
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  • #12
OrbitalPower
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:

Earlier this year, the editors ran a piece submitted by Gerald Marsh, a frequent contributor to FPS, in which he questioned the accuracy of climate change predictions and estimations of anthropogenic contributions to it. The article gave the editors the idea of devoting an issue to debate about the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's statements regarding human-induced global warming.

Being unfamiliar with the field, they asked Marsh to suggest authors on both sides of the argument, and sent out requests. Physicists David Hafemeister and Peter Schwartz kindly contributed a tutorial on the physics of global warming. Marsh also suggested "Christopher Monckton of Brenchley", who the editors assumed was a climate scientist. Monckton submitted what appeared to be a highly technical piece refuting the notion that global warming is occurring, much less induced by human activity.

The editors ran both articles, and encouraged feedback. They also prefaced the issue with an unfortunate editorial stating that there is "considerable" debate within the scientific community about the IPCC statement that global warming is anthropogenic.

Within hours of the issue appearing on the web, an angry physics community responded. The editors then learned that Viscount Monckton - who they had addressed as "Dr Monckton" in their correspondence, a misconception he did not correct - was actually a British journalist and global-warming sceptic. His article presented claims that he has been circulating for years and that climate scientists say they have debunked.
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.
 
  • #13
Evo
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In a new study about energy problem in the US, http://www.aps.org/energyefficiencyreport/index.cfm" [Broken]. 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:
Without question, the United States faces a greater energy risk today than it has at any time in its history. But the nation and the world face another risk that was barely recognized thirty-five years ago. Global warming and the potential it has for causing major disruptions to Earth’s climate are scientific realities. The precise extent of the human contribution to global warming still needs deeper understanding, but there is virtually no disagreement among scientists that it is real and substantial.

The physics and chemistry of the greenhouse gas effect are well understood and beyond dispute. Science has also achieved an overwhelming consensus that the increase in greenhouse gases is largely of human origin, tracing back to the Industrial Revolution and accelerating in recent years, as carbon dioxide and methane—the products of fossil fuel use—have entered the atmosphere in increasing quantities.

Modeling the climate has proven to be a complex scientific task. But although the models are far from perfect, many of their predictions are so alarming that conservative, risk-averse policymaking requires that they be considered with extraordinary gravityZz.
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.
 
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  • #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 ~http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Radiative-forcings.svg" [Broken] greenhouse forcing alone is trivial, the IPCC gets most of its predicted warming from feedbacks fed by CO2 forcing.
 
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  • #15
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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:
 
  • #16
Ivan Seeking
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  • #17
ZapperZ
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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:
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
vanesch
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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 ~http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Radiative-forcings.svg" [Broken] greenhouse forcing alone is trivial, the IPCC gets most of its predicted warming from feedbacks fed by CO2 forcing.
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."
 
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  • #20
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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."
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.
 
  • #21
vanesch
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It might slightly different. We do not know how it works exactly but we do know how it does not work, right? .
This is where we differ. I don't think we know how it doesn't work either. It is not because there have been false arguments in favor of AGW, that AGW is not true. The proposed feedback mechanisms - or others - might exist, and climate scientists might have the "gross" part right, while not yet having fine-tuned enough the models so that reliable predictions can be made, which would then explain the decade of erroneous predictions we've been through.
Again, it is not because climate scientists aren't (yet ?) good enough to come up with a model on a sound physical basis which checks against the data, that the gross predictions in the long term are impossible.

It would have been much, much much better for almost everybody if one would have stuck to the scientific method, and have avoided all the hype (alarmist, conspirational, sceptic, or whatever).
 
  • #22
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Vanesch, skeptic is not a part of that list. It's the holy duty of scientists to be skeptic at all times. Ideas that can survive challenges of skeptics may be sound. If you don't challenge, anything goes.

How much more proof is required to show that AGW is non issue?
 
  • #23
Gokul43201
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Vanesch, skeptic is not a part of that list.
Hype is hype, even if it comes from a skeptic.

How much more proof is required to show that AGW is non issue?
One of the things that vanesch failed to mention is that while the IPCC and other political bodies might engage in a bunch of non-scientific mumbo jumbo, they are not the only ones. Many of the arguments on (A)GW skeptical blogs that spearhead the campaign against warming are quite pathetically unscientific themselves.
 
  • #24
vanesch
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One of the things that vanesch failed to mention is that while the IPCC and other political bodies might engage in a bunch of non-scientific mumbo jumbo, they are not the only ones. Many of the arguments on (A)GW skeptical blogs that spearhead the campaign against warming are quite pathetically unscientific themselves.
I agree with that. In general, cheap reasons to reject AGW are usually totally erroneous too, and often pretty naive, like saying that the CO2 absorption depth is only 15 meters or something, so that everything that can be absorbed by CO2 is already in the first 15 meters of the atmosphere, and whatever you add, it won't change a thing. There are other erroneous arguments out there too.

However, the problem is that official instances have been playing the same games as those sceptics, and have as such already lost a part of their scientific credibility.
If you look at the most important *public* arguments which had to convince "everybody beyond doubt" that AGW was a "scientific reality", then we had:
- the hockeystick (which turns out to have failed, at least in its spectacular representation)
- the paleo-climate indication that CO2 and temperature proxies were almost perfectly in sync (until it turned out that CO2 lagged by about 600 years)
- the very strong rise of temperature indicators in the 90-ies, until that flattened out in the last 6 years or so, which is now "explained" by the "multi decennial oscillation" of which nobody knows any physical origin.

So it seems that the "evident and beyond doubt" indicators which had to lead all of us to take AGW sceptics for cranks denying the obvious, all failed.

And it seems that there is no place in the world anymore now, where one can try to find out in serenity what's really happening, what we really know, what is unknown, what's excluded, and so on. And that's the real tragedy. We have been hampering our own means of investigation. It is difficult to say now whether one or other analysis is just part of the polemics and position taking, or whether it is substantial.
 
  • #25
Ivan Seeking
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And it seems that there is no place in the world anymore now, where one can try to find out in serenity what's really happening, what we really know, what is unknown, what's excluded, and so on. And that's the real tragedy. We have been hampering our own means of investigation. It is difficult to say now whether one or other analysis is just part of the polemics and position taking, or whether it is substantial.
So then why does virtually every major scientific institution of significance claim that AGW is almost certainly real? Why is it that we see all of this opposition in blogs, but not in any official statements? Are you claiming that there is a conspiracy? Are the major scientific institutions colluding to misrepresent the truth?

The only opposition seems to come from a handful of climate scientists, and people who aren't experts in the field. And, frankly, given that there are scientists who still refute Relativity, I don't pay much attention to fringe groups.
 
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