Lord knows, I have paid my dues arguing climate science with entrenched and avowed deniers of human-induced climate change, or this here global warming. This past week I got tangled in another thread where the host raised the spectre of climate change but tried to keep the course of conversation on his topic of choice, chiefly the need to go nuclear.
Course, when you are debating the viability of any technology, you need to know the environment it would be tasked to operate in. In this case, a warming planet spells doom for nuclear power, considering these giants require massive amounts of water (and can’t sustainably discharge boiling water into receiving lakes and streams)
However, as I had suspected going in, this tech-loving bunch was ga-ga for nuclear without offering much by way of a technical offense or defense. Pro-nuke posturing, along with incubationist notions of “energy independence,” are increasingly in vogue, it appears.
What was most interesting, however, was the referencing of Weather Channel founder John Coleman.
Coleman is perhaps most often referred to “that weather guy who called global warming the ‘greatest scam in history.'”
I’ve wondered about these weather folks ever since I first realized they don’t typically (or, perhaps, automatically) fall in with the new-fangled climatologists, despite the fact the American Meteorological Society’s position statement is right on the nose with the world’s foremost scientists.
In it, Dawson paints a picture of the situation with some of the stronger statements on global warming by “denier” television meteorologists and discloses that two surveys exploring this gulf between disciplines.
Here’s where it started getting interesting to me:
Sublette said he has become concerned about polarization occurring over the issue of climate change.
“There has not been enough good, general discussion between broadcast meteorologists and climatologists,” he said. “I hope this [survey] can put things out in the open.”
Sublette said some broadcast meteorologists – many of whom “don’t like being told what to think” – were not satisfied by answers to some of their questions when climatologists presented data at last year’s AMS Annual Meeting in San Antonio.
The discussion about human causation of climate change between people in the two fields has been “devolving into ‘I don’t see it happening at all’ versus ‘You’re crazy if you don’t think it’s happening,'” he said.
Broadcast meteorologists are so busy disseminating information about near-term weather conditions – now on multiple platforms – that they simply don’t have much time to keep up with scientific developments related to longer-term climate conditions, he said.
“Longer-term climate science is still a relatively new field. It’s very difficult for each side to understand the other because we’re not playing in each other’s yard very much. Still, I think there’s more agreement than is widely seen by the general public.”
AMS Position Consistent with IPCC, National Academy
A February 2007 AMS formal statement on climate change is “consistent with the vast weight of current scientific understanding as expressed in assessments and reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the U. S. National Academy of Sciences, and the U. S. Climate Change Science Program,” according to the group.
Despite uncertainties, the AMS statement says, “there is adequate evidence from observations and interpretations of climate simulations to conclude that the atmosphere, ocean, and land surface are warming; that humans have significantly contributed to this change; and that further climate change will continue to have important impacts on human societies, on economies, on ecosystems, and on wildlife through the 21st century and beyond.”
With regard to policy decisions, the formal AMS statement says, “Prudence dictates extreme care in managing our relationship with the only planet known to be capable of sustaining human life.”
Last September, in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, two prominent broadcast meteorologists and AMS leaders published a guest editorial (pdf), “Communicating Global Climate Change to the Public and Clients.” In it, they criticized some of their fellow weathercasters who have been speaking out skeptically about anthropogenic global warming:
“Increasing numbers of broadcast meteorologists, to whom the public looks for information and guidance on climate change and global warming, are not offering scientific information but rather, all too often, nonscientific personal opinions in the media, including personal blogs. Alarmingly, many weathercasters and certified broadcast meteorologists dismiss, in most cases without any solid scientific arguments, the conclusions of the National Research Council (NRC), Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and other peer-reviewed research.”
The editorial’s two co-authors were Bob Ryan, AMS past president and chief meteorologist for Washington, D.C.’s NBC-owned WRC, and John Toohey-Morales, AMS commissioner on professional affairs and chief meteorologist of NBC Telemundo’s WSCV in Miami.
In a phone interview with the Yale Forum, Ryan said he thinks many “naysayers” about the idea of manmade climate change among broadcast weather forecasters “are coming from a perspective of the policy first – or they’re against it because they think it will hurt the economy, so how can I set out to punch holes in the theory – rather than scientifically testing a theory.”
In certain cases, skeptical weathercasters are “putting their own personal views – sometimes even fundamentalist religious beliefs – first, and then looking at climate change from the standpoint of preconceived things they believe in,” he said.
Back at the “global warming, fact or fiction… does it matter?” site the host suggested that if I am right and nuclear is not an option “there is no hope.” So much for thinking outside of Exxon’s bag of tricks. (I suspect he never so much as peeked at the ingredient list I sent him for a non-petrol/non-nuke future.) Oh, well. He was nice enough. And I really expected to get sandbagged coming in with my minority viewpoint.
Last I checked, solar tech (as it stands today) could feasibly offset 70 percent of U.S. energy needs. Wind could knock off another 20 percent. Then head on down the checklist…
Galveston offers another setting to prove nuke embracers wrong on that point.
Get thee thy boogie board a’right:
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EnergyOcean 2008 will be co-located with Subsea Survey 2008, a forum dedicated to offshore exploration and development. Each event will feature separate technical programs but share a common exhibit hall www.subseasurvey.com.