Navigation
 
You are here: Home Projects & Resources Environment Global Warming Summary Reports The Leading Edge 2010 2010 Oct - The Leading Edge

2010 Oct - The Leading Edge

Report: A 'Witch Hunt'? In Virginia? –– One of the goals of this site is to educate about science and what it means to our collective future. When science, or the scientific method comes under attack, or is undermined by those wishing to distort its meaning, it must be defended. Not because the science needs our help; because we need the science to help us. Report: Royal Society presents summary of climate change science. Report: Mike Mann Washington Post letter. Report: Huge parts of the world are drying up. Report: Pentagon pushes for green energy.
2010 Oct - The Leading Edge

Tituba and the Children*

The Cuccinelli Witch Hunt

The Attorney General's office of the State of Virgina, run by Ken Cuccinelli, has launched what can reasonably be called a witch hunt with his second attempt to go after Michael Mann. The first attempt failed (rejected by the judge). What is special about this, is that whether by design or not, if such a far fetched fishing expedition were to succeed in bringing a fraud suit upon Mann, or even more unlikely, succeeding in a finding of fraud, it would undermine the very foundations of publicly funded science, which is based on trial and error in order to improve science. Testing, fine tuning the question, eliminating bias, testing hypothesis that may, or may not, be wrong. This is known as the 'Scientific Method'.

It is because science explores the vulnerabilities of its considerations through the rigor of Scientific Method that science can produce more robust results than mere opinion. The recipe of science is hypothesis, research, analysis, observation, calculation, and testing. Recipes are improved because other scientists check the recipe and try it out themselves to see if it's good or not. Science is forged in the crucible of scientific peer review, and refined in the even hotter fires of peer response. Most people make decisions about complex matters based on nothing more than their own opinion, or that of their sub-cultural group (group-think). Which would you trust with your life? Peer reviewed science, or someones opinion based on their limited view of associated and relevant factors?

Cuccinelli's Opinion

Ken Cuccinelli: Kenneth Thomas 'Ken' Cuccinelli II (born July 30, 1968) is a U.S. politician and the Attorney General of Virginia. From 2002 until January 16, 2010 he was a Republican member of the Senate of Virginia, representing the 37th district in Fairfax County.Cuccinelli apparently believes that because 'in the process' of scientific discovery mistakes 'can' happen, this is a basis for a finding of fraud? Since state, or even national funds may be used for science, such fraud therefore can have 'damages' in the form of 'misuse of public funds'.

If Cuccinelli is correct, then by the rules of precedence, Cuccinelli may also be guilty of fraud for filing the first motion, which was overturned, and therefore he, and/or the Attorney General's (AG's) office may be liable to the Commonwealth of Virginia for the costs of the failed exercise and/or damages (misuse of Commonwealth funds).

Point of reason or fact: if one follows Cuccinelli's logic as rule of law, then every time the AG's office does not succeed in a prosecution with a finding of guilty, Cuccinelli, and/or that office, would then be liable for damages for the misuse of public funds. Maybe it's better to investigate the AG's fishing expeditions to confirm their potentially frivolous nature, than going after the scientific method which is by design, greatly beneficial to the service of humankind? The question then becomes, why is Cuccinelli doing this? Political gain? Support for special interests? Or is it just a delay tactic that suits his intended portrayal and positioning? Is this really just about buying time for coal industry profit?

Cuchinelli alleges that the 'Hockey Stick', is based on fraudulent work. But he is ignoring the critical mass of scrutiny the Hockey Stick has undergone by numerous scientific bodies and even congressional review with the aid of such bodies. Even the National Academy of Science has examined it.

Hockey Stick Findings Summary: The Hockey Stick is still a Hockey Stick.

The findings, from multiple scientific reviews, are that the Hockey Stick is robust. Any errors that were in the original calculations were inconsequential to the result. While minor statistical values could be improved, any changes resulting from reanalysis were statistically insignificant, and in fact weakened the overall model. In other words, it simply didn't matter if you applied the statistical changes or not, the results were essentially the same. Applying the McKintyre/McKitrick methods did not change the results, and it was found that their method detracted from the overall strength of the analysis.

While mistakes are found in the process of scientific discovery, they are used to improve the science, not to tear it down. Sometimes these 'mistakes' can be simply new information or understanding that improves the science. Sometimes, but more rare, it can be even more dramatic, and alter the way we see the physical world. Ken Cuccinelli seems to be attacking science itself? To be replaced by what? His opinion? Someones elses opinion? What would the world be like today if we threw away science and only trusted the opinions of politicians? It's an unnerving thought.

TARGET: Michael E. Mann

Michael Mann, Climate ScientistMichael Mann, has undeservedly been the focus of denialist ire for many years now. During this time he has continued to perform with the utmost of integrity and dedication to getting the science right, and with relevant context to the best of his ability. The same can not be said of Steve McKintyre or Ross McKitrick. who have with considerable energy attempted to undermine the science regarding the Hockey Stick.  They have presented distracting arguments that have little to no relevance to the overarching conclusions of the climate science, including the examinations and concerns of just about every national academy of science on the planet.

The Travesty

The Attorney General of the state of Virginia seems to be using his office to undermine the foundations of science itself by attacking the 'Scientific Method'. If he can succeed in showing that anything that is proven in the future, to be in any way slightly off, and that scientists are liable for costs (damages) of research, he could effectively put an end to all publicaly funded scientific research. That in turn could effectively put an end to the achievement of science for the common good and leave scientific pursuit largely in the hands of corporate interests.

In reality, science is how we know and understand things with greater confidence. It is how we are able to get in an airplane and fly around the world. It is how we discovered that by destroying the ozone layer with chlorofluorocarbons we were exposing ourselves to increased ultraviolet light that could cause increased rates of skin cancer; it is how we discovered that emitting too much ammonium, carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur in the atmosphere could cause acid rain and destroy our forests and crops.

It's basic cause and effect. But if you don't recognize the cause, you can't stop it to prevent the effect. Science is the looking glass by which we understand cause and effect. We need publicly funded science to serve the common good. And in our ever increasing complexity we need science in order to understand what our actions mean to our society and our environment.

WITCH HUNT UPDATE - What the future may have in store:

GOP plans attacks on the EPA and climate scientists

By Neela Banerjee, October 30, 2010

If Republicans win control of the House, they plan to go after the Obama administration's environmental policies and the researchers who have offered evidence on global warming, whom they accuse of manipulating data.

Reporting from Washington — If the GOP wins control of the House next week, senior congressional Republicans plan to launch a blistering attack on the Obama administration's environmental policies, as well as on scientists who link air pollution to climate change.

The GOP's fire will be concentrated especially on the administration's efforts to use the Environmental Protection Agency's authority over air pollution to tighten emissions controls on coal, oil and other carbon fuels that scientists say contribute to global warming.

The attack, according to senior Republicans, will seek to portray the EPA as abusing its authority and damaging the economy with needless government regulations.

Several key Republican Congressmen — most notably Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista), who could take over the chairmanship of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee — have said they plan to investigate climate scientists they contend manipulated data to prove the case that human activity is contributing to global warming.

LINKS

Relevant News and Event Highlights

Climate change: A Summary of the Science

Source: The Royal Society (Sep. 30, 2010)

Climate change continues to be a subject of intense public and political debate. Because of the level of interest in the topic the Royal Society has produced a new guide to the science of climate change. The guide summarises the current scientific evidence on climate change and its drivers, highlighting the areas where the science is well established, where there is still some debate, and where substantial uncertainties remain.

The document was prepared by a working group chaired by Professor John Pethica, Vice President of the Royal Society and was approved by the Royal Society Council.

Get the anti-science bent out of politics

Source: The Washington Post - By Michael E. Mann Friday, October 8, 2010

(See full letter below)

How can I assure young researchers in climate science that if they make a breakthrough in our understanding about how human activity is altering our climate that they, too, will not be dragged through a show trial at a congressional hearing?

America has led the world in science for decades. It has benefited our culture, our economy and our understanding of the world. My fellow scientists and I must be ready to stand up to blatant abuse from politicians who seek to mislead and distract the public. They are hurting American science. And their failure to accept the reality of climate change will hurt our children and grandchildren, too.

Huge Parts of World Are Drying Up: Land 'Evapotranspiration' Taking Unexpected Turn

Source: ScienceDaily (Oct. 11, 2010)

The soils in large areas of the Southern Hemisphere, including major portions of Australia, Africa and South America, have been drying up in the past decade, a group of researchers conclude in the first major study to ever examine "evapotranspiration" on a global basis. This further supports the findings of NASA regarding net Primary Production from last months 'Leading Edge' report.

Pentagon, Warfighters Work to Cut Energy Needs

Source: US Department of Defense, WASHINGTON, (Oct. 12, 2010)

“Energy is part of everything we do, whether it’s driving our vehicles, cooling our tents and our barracks or heating our food,” she said. “It’s also critical to our communications, critical to our weapon systems and to everything we do in the fight. So anything we can do to use energy better is going to make the men and women on the battlefield better and improve their capabilities.”

Service Leaders Discuss Way Forward on Energy

Source: US Department of Defense, WASHINGTON, (Oct. 13, 2010)

Military and civilian service leaders gathered at the Pentagon today discussed their plans for energy conservation that include leading the nation and the world into a more sustainable environmental future. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus put it simply: “Our military and our country rely too much on fossil fuels … [and] too much of our oil comes from volatile places.”

America’s dependence on oil from other, sometimes hostile, nations, Mabus said, “gives them some say in whether our ships sail and whether our planes fly. “Make no mistake: energy policy can be used as a weapon,” he added.

CO2: The Thermostat that Controls Earth's Temperature

Source: NASA/GISS By Andrew Lacis — (October 14, 2010)

A study by GISS climate scientists recently published in the journal Science shows that atmospheric CO2 operates as a thermostat to control the temperature of Earth.

There is a close analogy to be drawn between the way an ordinary thermostat maintains the temperature of a house, and the way that atmospheric carbon dioxide (and the other minor non-condensing greenhouse gases) control the global temperature of Earth. The ordinary thermostat produces no heat of its own. Its role is to switch the furnace on and off, depending on whether the house temperature is lower or higher than the thermostat setting. If we were to carefully monitor the temperature of the house, we would see that the temperature does not stay constant at the set value, but rather exhibits a "natural variability" as the house temperature slips below the set value and then overshoots the mark with a time constant of minutes to tens of minutes, because of the thermal inertia of the house and because heating by the furnace (when it is on) is more powerful than the steady heat loss to the outdoors. If the thermostat is suddenly turned to a very high setting, the temperature will begin to rise at a rate dictated by the inertia of the house and strength of the furnace. Turning the thermostat back to normal will stop the heating.

Bar chart of climate feedbacks and forcings
Figure 1. Attribution of individual atmospheric component contributions to the terrestrial greenhouse effect, separated into feedback and forcing categories. Dotted and dashed lines depict the fractional response for single-addition and single-subtraction of individual gases to either an empty or full-component reference atmosphere, respectively. Solid black lines are the scaled averages of the dashed and dotted line fractional response results. The sum of the fractional responses must add up to the total greenhouse effect. The reference model atmosphere is for 1980 conditions.

+ View larger image or PDF

Global Highlights

Source: NOAA/NCDC (October, 2010)

For January–September 2010, the global combined land and ocean surface temperature was 0.65°C (1.17°F) above the 20th

century average of 14.1°C (57.5°F) and tied with 1998 as the warmest January–September period on record.

U.N. environment chief: 'We are destroying life on Earth'

Source: MSNBC - UN Meeting — Nagoya Japan (Oct. 18, 2010)

The world cannot afford to allow nature's riches to disappear, the United Nations said Monday at the start of a major meeting to combat losses in animal and plant species that underpin livelihoods and economies. The United Nations says the world is facing the worst extinction rate since the dinosaurs vanished 65 million years ago, a crisis that needs to be addressed by governments, businesses and communities.

"This meeting is part of the world's efforts to address a very simple fact — we are destroying life on Earth," Achim Steiner, head of the U.N. Environment Program, said at the opening of the meeting in Nagoya, central Japan.

Change global economic model to save biodiversity

Source AFP: By Karl Malakunas (Oct. 20, 2010)

MANILA — The global economy must be radically altered to put a value on forests, reefs and other elements of nature but the financial benefits of doing so will be enormous, a UN-backed report said Wednesday.

The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) report warned that allowing nature to remain unaccounted for within the economy would lead to the continuing rapid extinction of species, and ensuing massive financial costs.

"TEEB's approach can reset the economic compass and herald a new era in which the value of nature's services is made visible and becomes an explicit part of policy and business decision making," said banker Pavan Sukhdev, who chaired a study that led to the report.

Pew Research Center Poll: Global Warming

By Pew Research Center - October 27th, 2010

Partisan Differences; and the Tea Party Views on Global Warming

Pew Research Global Warming Poll 10-2010 Source: http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1780/poll-global-warming-scientists-energy-policies-offshore-drilling-tea-party




Pew Research Global Warming Poll 10-2010 Source: http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1780/poll-global-warming-scientists-energy-policies-offshore-drilling-tea-party

Source: Pew Research Center

Protect science funding, task force urges

In a 13 October letter to the chairs of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, members of the Task Force on American Innovation urged that

our government must provide robust support for basic research, particularly in the physical sciences and engineering, and for STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) education.

Among the 42 organizations and companies that make up the task force are the American Institute of Physics (which publishes Physics Today) and the American Physical Society. Google and IBM Corp also belong to the task force.

Source Link: Physics Today

GOP plans attacks on the EPA and climate scientists

By Neela Banerjee - Los Angeles Times - October 30, 2010

Reporting from Washington — If the GOP wins control of the House next week, senior congressional Republicans plan to launch a blistering attack on the Obama administration's environmental policies, as well as on scientists who link air pollution to climate change.

The GOP's fire will be concentrated especially on the administration's efforts to use the Environmental Protection Agency's authority over air pollution to tighten emissions controls on coal, oil and other carbon fuels that scientists say contribute to global warming.

The attack, according to senior Republicans, will seek to portray the EPA as abusing its authority and damaging the economy with needless government regulations.

Source Link Los Angeles Times

 

Get the anti-science bent out of politics

By Michael E. Mann Friday, October 8, 2010

Source: The Washington Post

As a scientist, I shouldn't have a stake in the upcoming midterm elections, but unfortunately, it seems that I -- and indeed all my fellow climate scientists -- do.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has threatened that, if he becomes chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, he will launch what would be a hostile investigation of climate science. The focus would be on e-mails stolen from scientists at the University of East Anglia in Britain last fall that climate-change deniers have falsely claimed demonstrate wrongdoing by scientists, including me. Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) may do the same if he takes over a committee on climate change and energy security.

My employer, Penn State University, exonerated me after a thorough investigation of my e-mails in the East Anglia archive. Five independent investigations in Britain and the United States, and a thorough recent review by the Environmental Protection Agency, also have cleared the scientists of accusations of impropriety.

Nonetheless, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is investigating my previous employer, the University of Virginia, based on the stolen e-mails. A judge rejected his initial subpoena, finding that Cuccinelli had failed to provide objective evidence of wrongdoing. Undeterred, Cuccinelli appealed the decision to the Virginia Supreme Court and this week issued a new civil subpoena.

What could Issa, Sensenbrenner and Cuccinelli possibly think they might uncover now, a year after the e-mails were published?

The truth is that they don't expect to uncover anything. Instead, they want to continue a 20-year assault on climate research, questioning basic science and promoting doubt where there is none.

Cuccinelli, in fact, rests his case largely on discredited claims that Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.) made during hearings in 2005 at which he attacked me and my fellow researchers. Then-Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-N.Y.) had the courage and character to challenge Barton's attacks. We need more political leaders like him today.

We have lived through the pseudo-science that questioned the link between smoking cigarettes and lung cancer, and the false claims questioning the science of acid rain and the hole in the ozone layer. The same dynamics and many of the same players are still hard at work, questioning the reality of climate change.

The basic physics and chemistry of how carbon dioxide and other human-produced greenhouse gases trap heat in the lower atmosphere have been understood for nearly two centuries. Overloading the atmosphere with carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels is heating the planet, shrinking the Arctic ice cap, melting glaciers and raising sea levels. It is leading to more widespread drought, more frequent heat waves and more powerful hurricanes. Even without my work, or that of the entire sub-field of studying past climates, scientists are in broad agreement on the reality of these changes and their near-certain link to human activity.

Burying our heads in the sand would leave future generations at the mercy of potentially dangerous changes in our climate. The only sure way to mitigate these threats is to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions dramatically over the next few decades. But even if we don't reduce emissions, the reality of adapting to climate change will require responses from government at all levels.

Challenges to policy proposals for how to deal with this problem should be welcome -- indeed, a good-faith debate is essential for wise public policymaking.

But the attacks against the science must stop. They are not good-faith questioning of scientific research. They are anti-science.

How can I assure young researchers in climate science that if they make a breakthrough in our understanding about how human activity is altering our climate that they, too, will not be dragged through a show trial at a congressional hearing?

America has led the world in science for decades. It has benefited our culture, our economy and our understanding of the world.

My fellow scientists and I must be ready to stand up to blatant abuse from politicians who seek to mislead and distract the public. They are hurting American science. And their failure to accept the reality of climate change will hurt our children and grandchildren, too.

Michael E. Mann, the author of "Dire Predictions: Understanding Global Warming," is a professor in the meteorology department at Penn State University and director of the Penn State Earth System Science Center.

Document Actions

Comments (0)

Keep up to speed on changes and significant news from OSS

Subscribe to the OSS 'Leading Edge'

* indicates required
20" Dobsonian Telescope
The Centrist Party
Join The Centrist Party. America need politics that make sense. Economy, Energy, Environment, Education, Healthcare, Security and Political Reform. Join the Party and let's do our best to 'Make a Meaningful Difference'.
Join Now
About this site:

Powered by Plone with the Notre Dame Skin.

 

Microscope/Camera