Re: Re: [asa] Re: The ASA and Climate Literacy

From: Rich Blinne <>
Date: Tue Aug 25 2009 - 12:06:58 EDT

On Tue, Aug 25, 2009 at 9:23 AM, <> wrote:

> I am not really advocating taking "sides" here. Rather, what I think we can
> do is to help lay people develop the skills necessary to properly evaluate
> the competing claims. Specifically, I think it would be good to teach how
> science really works. The denialists represent consensus science as the edge
> of our understanding while the alarmists do the exact opposite. Science
> journalism practices do not help here as they only report "news" which is by
> definition not consensus science since it's press releases from published
> papers. What gets published in Nature and Science are by definition at the
> edge of our understanding while the IPCC reports are more conservative. In
> AR4 the IPCC took out any estimate on what ice melt would have sea level
> rise since it was understood poorly (our models were way underestimating the
> effects). The denialists made a false comparison between TAR and AR4 and
> pretty much guaranteed that the sea level rise would be greatly
> underestimated. Since then semi-empirical work by Real Climate contributor
> Rahmsdorf is giving good predictions. Is that consensus? Not yet but it's
> getting there and most likely will be included in the fifth report when it
> comes out of the IPCC.
If we could get people to understand that scientific understanding is not
uniform it would be a big win. We've known since 1896 that adding CO2
increases temperature logarithmically. Knowing what the regional effects
are in great detail has only come out in the last few years. Getting it
right in the tropics is still a challenge even today. Same with
understanding cloud dynamics although a recent paper has shown a positive
feedback meaning the more pessimistic climate models may be right rather
than the "average". If an "advocate" either says that nothing is understood
denying what we've known for a century or everything is consensus run far,
far away. Since most Christians listen to the former I have focused on that
but it doesn't mean I side with the "doom and gloomers". Since the ASA
doesn't have a dog in the hunt we have a good opportunity to be fair brokers

Rich Blinne
Member ASA

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Received on Tue Aug 25 12:07:54 2009

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