Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Skeptical Scientists Engaging in Debate...

A few weeks ago, a group of prominent scientists skeptical of the claims of anthropogenic global warming (AGW) supporters published an open letter expressing their concerns.  Quite predictably, the AGW community rallied round and blasted the group with everything from idiotic ad hominem attacks to more serious critique.  In today's WSJ, the skeptics reply – and thereby start a very healthy engagement between the AGW skeptics and the proponents.  It's interesting and accessible reading.  An excerpt (but do go read the whole thing):
Given this dubious track record of prediction, it is entirely reasonable to ask for a second opinion. We have offered ours. With apologies for any immodesty, we all have enjoyed distinguished careers in climate science or in key science and engineering disciplines (such as physics, aeronautics, geology, biology, forecasting) on which climate science is based.

Trenberth et al. tell us that the managements of major national academies of science have said that "the science is clear, the world is heating up and humans are primarily responsible." Apparently every generation of humanity needs to relearn that Mother Nature tells us what the science is, not authoritarian academy bureaucrats or computer models.

One reason to be on guard, as we explained in our original op-ed, is that motives other than objective science are at work in much of the scientific establishment. All of us are members of major academies and scientific societies, but we urge Journal readers not to depend on pompous academy pronouncements—on what we say—but to follow the motto of the Royal Society of Great Britain, one of the oldest learned societies in the world: nullius in verba—take nobody's word for it. As we said in our op-ed, everyone should look at certain stubborn facts that don't fit the theory espoused in the Trenberth letter, for example—the graph of surface temperature above, and similar data for the temperature of the lower atmosphere and the upper oceans.

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