A brief comment on the state of climate science, worth watching

The video here is of John Holdren, science and technology advisor to U.S. President Barack Obama. He’s also director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. His message, summarized in the statement below as part of testimony yesterday to a Congressional committee, is both powerful and disturbing: “In my judgement, and that of the great majority of other scientists who have seriously studied this matter, the current state of knowledge about it, even though incomplete, as science always is, and even though controversial in some details, as science almost always is, is sufficient to make clear that failure to act promptly to reduce global emissions to the atmosphere of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping substances is overwhelmingly likely to lead to changes in climate too extreme and too damaging to be adequately addressed by any adaptation measures that can be foreseen.” I urge you to watch the full video, which is about 6.5 minutes long.

UPDATE: If you watch the video, Holdren starts off by discussing the hacked e-mails from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia. Like most credible climate authorities, he says the e-mails have been scrutinized and spun out of context and in no way show there’s any kind of conspiracy or exaggeration of global warming. Rather, they show a bunch of frustrated scientists under siege by the persistent pecking of climate skeptics. I want to add here links to a Nature magazine editorial and an article in The Economist, both of which come to similar conclusions. Sorry Rex. I’m not saying these scientists who wrote the e-mails weren’t careless…  I’m just saying it doesn’t appear to go beyond that, at least from any fair reading of the messages.

5 thoughts on “A brief comment on the state of climate science, worth watching”

  1. Tyler, Thanks for pulling together this response that, in part, appears to be a response to Rex Murphy’s recent rant. These Nature and Economists articles are especially helpful. I am hoping, as I often do, that this controversy highlights that real science is a much more human enterprise than the naive focus on “facts”, and this event is a short lived event, so we can get back to the real issues related to dealing with Climate Change.

    More broadly, thanks for your balanced practical approach to the topics of renewable energy and Climate Change. As a practicing scientist, with deep interest in these topics, it is refreshing to have these complex subjects communicated so effectively. As someone who spends his professional life trying to find ways of retain electronic scientific data for periods much greater than 10 years, the descriptions of “destroyed data”, are fully consistent with common scientific practice and technical capability. Another challenge for the scientific community will be to figure out how to retain valuable supporting data.

    Regards, Bill Browett

  2. I watched the full video and I have to say I am disappointed by the way this issue is handled and presented by people like dr. Holdren. First, the whole video is just a statement of how good this “science” and how sure we are of the need to reduce CO2 emissions. There is nothing about the nature of the emails, what they contain but just a continuation of the statements we’ve been hearing for decades. I personally am ashamed that people like this are our leading scientists and they show no ability to reason and think critically.

    What those emails show is the true nature of what science has become – money schemes, distortion of data in the name of justifying an already defined conclusions, threats agains scientists who do not agree and total manipulation of public perception. The emails are real and if you read them you should be greatly concerned. I wonder how those small group of people were just months back our leading authorities on the subject whose reports were basis for new legislation and measure by the UN, Al Gore and others.

  3. Why did you delete my comment? I am just trying to express an opinion in a civilized manner, but you obviously do not publish anything to the contrary to your political views! I should have guess that from you, working for the Canada’s largest daily newspaper.

Comments are closed.