The Science Budget Talking Point

REPOSTING: The following was originally posted April 8, 2007. (Note: the first dozen comments are also from 2007.)

I am hoping to see recent numbers. I imagine the 2010 budget will show some improvement but as far as I know the annual US budget for climate science research (as opposed to data collection or impacts studies) through 2009 remains comparable to the budget for a Pixar movie. [more]

Kim Stanley Robinson Gets It

Well-known science fiction writer Kim Stanley Robinson says what I’ve been saying here, what many of the regulars say, stuff like:

First, we need to trust our science. We do this every time we fly in a jet or rush to the doctor in hope of relief from illness; but now there is some cherry-picking of science going on in the various kinds of resistance to the news about climate change, and this double standard needs to be called out. [more]

High but Surmountable Cost, Except for Pride

Very interesting rebuttal to the “high cost” arguments I endorsed recently in an article by Adam Stein on Grist.

I don’t buy the argument that responding to climate change is “an opportunity” for society at large. An atmosphere sensitive to CO2 is worse than an atmosphere not sensitive to CO2. The “cost” may be exaggerated, but that doesn’t make it cost-free or a small matter. [more]

Schrag doesn’t think it’s all that complicated

and neither do I, honestly. He is quoted in a news article in Science.

Geochemist Daniel Schrag of Harvard University argues that mandatory carbon caps should have been applied years ago to force energy technology innovations. He doesn’t think that it’s necessary to have, as Bush proposed, a year and a half of discussion to define emissions goals. [more]

Uncertainty and Conservatism

In a comment by Onar Aam on RC, it is alleged that proposed policy responses to anthropogenic climate change are excessive because scientific uncertainty leaves open the possibility that the sensitivity of the system is much smaller than the consensus would have it. This argument is common enough.

For almost fifteen years now I have been (using my unfortunately trivial influence; though for some reason Fergus seems to be singlehandedly trying to change that; thanks Fergus!) pointing out that such an argument is totally wrong, pretty much exactly 180 degrees off the mark. [more]

Essential Reading: Updated

Whew, it’s harder to maintain a blog when you are working than when you ain’t…

Anyway, a couple of bits of essential reading from the blogroll today: Samadhisoft points to this BBC report which suggests that

There is a global migration crisis

climate change will make it worse


It’s not a matter of climate change, all else being stable. [more]

Microsoft Tells Us About Geoengineering

Speaking of engineers, IEEE Spectrum has an article on geoengineering that reads rather as if Heiko Gerhauser had written it, except that it is by Somebody Important, specifically William B. Gail, director of strategic development at Microsoft’s Virtual Earth unit, and a member of the National Research Council’s “Decadal Study” group for Earth science and applications, whatever any of that means. [more]

Economists vs Engineers

For those wandering in here without context, I am advocating a rethinking of economics in the light of sustainability issues in general and climate change in particular.

Consider minutes 4 through 7 of this video of a Google Tech Talk by Van Jacobson.

“It’s not that the solution we have is a bad one, it’s that the problem has changed.”

I’d like to see this sort of breadth of vision coming from economic thinkers. [more]

Anonymous Contribution: In Defense of Growth

Inel passes along this anonymous contribution, in an effort to answer one of my perennial questions about the conventional wisdom in economics. It’s interesting and polite, but it still seems to see everything on a pretty narrow Marxism/capitalism axis with the limits set by sustainability as a sort of afterthought.

In short, I can’t agree but I think it’s worth reading. [more]

Latest delusionism from the WSJ

Because we have been successfully Godwinned out of calling the self-proclaimed “skeptics” “denialists”, I join the new trend in calling them “delusionists”.

Here’s a slightly edited instant messaging transcript you may find interesting. “mt” below is me. The other two people speaking are not climatologists. One (here called ‘Fred’) is well-known as an author of operational weather forecasting codes. [more]

Annan vs Hegerl goes Nuclear in a Hurry

Strange day.

I just returned from a day that included a talk by Gabrielle Hegerl to discover that James Annan has a poster criticizing an aspect of her work.

In fact, the point that James makes, was, in essence, covered in her talk. She said the data alone was insufficient to remove the long tail, but she was clear that the long tail was almost certainly an artifact of
the way the problem was set up. [more]

More on the Framing Frame [updated]

Courtesy of Jim Torson who writes a lengthy diatribe to the globalchange googlegroup.

Here’s Nisbet and here’s Mooney.

Also Jim points to Blog around the Clock/Coturnix. I’m not sure whether Jim endorses this article, but I surely don’t. Consider this:

The result of training is that scientists are uniquely trained to be poor communicators of science. [more]

What about the other 11%?

Commentary on the WGII SPM on Slashdot spans the usual gamut from snarky through self-importantly clueless to insightful, and as usual for nontechnical articles the comment moderation system is not especially helpful. My impression that the balance of Slashdot opinion was moving in the wrong direction is not confirmed this time; it seems to be about 25% informed and 75% ill-informed, with the ill-informed split evenly between worried, unworried, and more or less misguided difference splitting (a.k.a. [more]


Dr. Lubos links to an amazingly painful Larry King snippet and scores some easy points. Brace yourself.

In short, Bill Nye the science guy sputters a bit and then makes the usual blunder about the “Gulf Stream shutting down”, and Lindzen makes plenty of hay from it.

If this is the story people are seeing, is it any wonder they are getting it jumbled up? [more]