David Kirkpatrick

January 21, 2010

More climate change shenanigans

I’m not a global warming skeptic — the science on post-industrial CO2 levels and overall global temperature is very clear — but, I have a real problem with the politics of anthropogenic climate change and how science is being regularly twisted into something of a policy battering ram that demands ideological purity and a lack of continued rigor on what is going on. With that, it should go without saying I question the extreme doomsday predictions coming from those ideologically pure AGW cassandras.

News like this does nothing to make me feel any better about the complete lack of real science behind a lot of AGW claims, and it does nothing to help brush back those idiotic total global warming deniers who point at every record cold temperature and snow storm across the middle of the U.S. to “prove” their point.

Realistically we have some very bad science and bullying politics on one side, fingers-in-the-ears yahoos on the other, and an actual issue that deserves and needs addressing stuck in the middle. You know, if you think about it the entire AGW debate is a pretty good summation of politics in the U.S. right now.

From the second link:

One of the most alarming conclusions from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a widely respected organization established by the United Nations, is that glaciers in the Himalayas could be gone 25 years from now, eliminating a primary source of water for hundreds of millions of people. But a number of glaciologists have argued that this conclusion is wrong, and now the IPCC admits that the conclusion is largely unsubstantiated, based on news reports rather than published, peer-reviewed scientific studies.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the IPCC admitted that the Working Group II report, “Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability,” published in the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report (2007), contains a claim that “refers to poorly substantiated estimates. ” The statement also said “the clear and well-established standards of evidence, required by the IPCC procedure, were not applied properly.” The statement did not quote the error, but it did cite the section of the report that refers to Himalayan glaciers. Christopher Field, director of the Carnegie Institution’s Department of Global Ecology, who is now in charge of Working Group II, confirms that the error was related to the claim that the glaciers could disappear by 2035.

The disappearance of the glaciers would require temperatures far higher than those predicted in even the most dire global warming scenarios, says Georg Kaser, professor at the Institut für Geographie der Universität, Innsbruck. The Himalayas would have to heat up by 18 degrees Celsius and stay there for the highest glaciers to melt–most climate change scenarios expect only a few degrees of warming over the next century.

February 15, 2009

Exploring distant planets

I love news like this.

A release from today:

Exploring planets in distant space and deep interiors

Washington, D.C.— In recent years researchers have found hundreds of new planets beyond our solar system, raising questions about the origins and properties of these exotic worlds—not to mention the possible presence of life. Speaking at a symposium titled “The Origin and Evolution of Planets” held at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, two Carnegie Institution scientists will present their perspectives on the new era of planetary exploration.

Alan Boss of Carnegie’s Department of Terrestrial Magnetism and author of the new book The Crowded Universe: The Search for Living Planets points out that evidence for all three classes of planets known in our Solar System—ice giants, gas giants, and terrestrial (rocky) planets—has been detected in extra-solar systems. “We already know enough now to say that the Universe is probably loaded with terrestrial planets similar to the Earth,” he says. “We should expect that there are going to be many planets which are habitable, so probably some are going to be inhabited as well.”

Boss expects that NASA’s Kepler spacecraft, due to launch in early March and dedicated to searching for Earthlike planets, will put his ideas to the test.

Russell Hemley, director of Carnegie’s Geophysical Laboratory, studies the fundamental physics and chemistry of materials under extreme conditions. Understanding how the chemical building blocks of planets, such as hydrogen, oxygen, silicon, iron, and other crucial elements such as carbon, respond to conditions in the deep interior of planets, where pressures can exceed those on the surface by factors of millions, is key to understanding how planets might form and evolve. High-pressure studies can also offer clues to the search for life on planets different from our own. “Our work is uncovering not only exciting new physics and chemistry, but also new findings in biology that are relevant to the prospects for life in whatever form beyond the Earth,” says Hemley. “Experiments are showing that there is viability of life as we know it now under surprisingly extreme conditions.”




The AAAS symposium “Origin and Evolution of Planets” will be held on Feb. 14, 1:30-4:30 p.m. CST, at the Chicago Hyatt Regency Hotel, Ballroom C. A news briefing preceding the symposium is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. CST at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Ballroom D. For more information on this event, contact the AAAS Press Office at 312-239-4811.

The Carnegie Institution (www.CIW.edu) has been a pioneering force in basic scientific research since 1902. It is a private, nonprofit organization with six research departments throughout the U.S. Carnegie scientists are leaders in plant biology, developmental biology, astronomy, materials science, global ecology, and Earth and planetary science.

Update 2/15/09 — Here’s a BBC News story on this release.