Saturday, December 05, 2009

Article Response #3


This is a pretty one-sided article to have been written as a communal editorial by the staff. Also, "watching the earth suffer"? Suffer how? How exactly has the earth "suffered" from an average temperature increase of a fraction of a degree? There are predictions that negative things may happen in the future if things continue, but those dire things aren't happening yet (and simply claiming any change is "suffering" doesn't work). More importantly, however, and the reason I chose to comment was to point out that there was no mention of the recent release of emails, code, data and other files from a key climate data organization. Even if you believe the "nothing to see here" attempts to dismiss this revelation, it should at least make us question the true openness of the process. With an issue this potentially significant, whose prescribed solution has such a monumental impact, it only makes sense that all science involved be open, the data available, and the methods described. If scientific experiments and models cannot be recreated by others, then it shouldn't be considered valid and definitely should not be considered as a resource to guide policy. The evidence coming out of the unearthed files indicates the exact opposite of this. It shows intentional efforts to stifle release of data, methods and processes. It contains intentional attempts to eliminate information contributing to the IPCC which is the gold standard reference for all who see global warming as requiring immediate action.
The primary reason this data was as significant as global warming skeptics claim is that for years these skeptics have complained that the scientific process was being abused. They have claimed that scientific journals were influenced in a particular direction, that grants were consistently given to those pushing the agenda, that data was being misused and misrepresented and poorly constructed predictive models based on poor data were being treated as scientific fact. These complaints were usually dismissed as either simply conspiracy theories, or that the complainers were paid by oil companies. With the exposure of these files, at the very least, it reveals that their complaints have some merits. We need to reopen the discussion, verify the data, reevaluate the models and conclusions. It is becoming apparent that the scientific peer-review process is fraught with problems that can lead to significant (and conclusion altering) errors entering into "peer-reviewed studies" that then go on to be referenced across the scientific, media, and political worlds.
From a university paper, and in the wake of this revelation, the editorials should consist of demands that the scientific process relating to global warming be completely opened, transparent, and requiring critical assessment and reproduction by others. We need to make sure that the case for global warming is completely iron proof before we implement measures which would have astronomical effects. If we as a people choose to pursue actions to stop greenhouse emissions, it will be so much more significant than I believe most realize. It will affect individual people so much more than simply shopping with a cloth bag, inflating our tires, and buying energy efficient products. It will be a huge increase on the cost of ALL things. We need to be absolutely positive that it is absolutely essential.

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