They call themselves the Lynceans. These retired and semi-retired scientists and engineers of San Diego have not grown out of their curiosity for matters of science. They host talks at the Ruben H. Fleet Science Center in San Diego and call in notable speakers to address the group on subjects of science, technology, and related fields.
Global warming science debate
And so they sought to understand more about global warming from a science perspective before the country’s national climate policies would be cast in concrete.
Two talks were scheduled to expose both sides of the global warming issue. On July 21, Bill Scott, the Lyncean Chair, hosted the first of the two most recent talks on climate science, on which I reported earlier. On October 20, the Lynceans hosted Dr. Richard C. J. Somerville, Professor Emeritus, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego.
The IPCC connection
Somerville’s credentials include his seat on the IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel that writes the reports on climate change, notably the one written in 2007, which led to the Nobel Prize the IPCC shared with Al Gore.
Somerville wrote, in part, the Summary for Policy Makers, a kind of executive summary of the 2,812-page report for those high-ups-like the President-unwilling to read the whole thing. The Summary not only was skewed to show one side, Somerville and the other Summary writers staunchly propounded the dangers posed by anthropogenic global warming and strongly supported remedial measures. In brief, of course, but in no uncertain terms.
Somerville gave his talk and his particular point of view to the Lynceans convened to hear the sanctioned side of the global warming story. His main focus was on climate models, ice melting, sea levels rising, temperature charts, and the need to enact strong mitigation policies.
What, no Hockey Stick?
Curiously missing was anything about the “hockey stick,” which has suffered repeated public discredit and is apparently regarded by folks like Somerville now to be “unimportant.” But wait. Wasn’t this the “smoking gun” of global warming certainty that made its way into Gore’s movie and even children’s school books? Curious it was missing, indeed.
Somerville’s talk ended with a list of unqualified critical conclusions:
- We’re warming up
- The oceans are rising
- We know the main causes and man’s part in them
- We have solid data to support everything
- Observations to date confirm the model predictions
- Immediate remediation is critical
Al Gore among the experts?
Somerville’s talk included some slurs of the previous speakers in the Lyncean’s global warming series. He declared that earlier speakers gave references to work by people unqualified in the science of climate, and that bona fide expertise in climate science is important. One wonders whether the global warming guru, Al Gore, would be considered a card-carrying climate scientist.
Also, my scientist friends tell me that climate science is in its infancy, so that its pretensions of certainty and résistance to appraisals from other sciences are hardly justified, not to mention the “tribal behavior” exposed in ClimateGate. (Tribal behavior refers to withholding data and squashing publication of opposing research, among other kinds of conspiratorial practices to quiet dissent.)
Somerville could not take exit without addressing questions from the audience. This is where it started to fall apart. Several questions requiring data to answer them properly without Somerville’s affirmation of “take it from me, I know” went largely unanswered. Sources for his data were unclear. He referred to the “serious scientists in this field,” with whom he works, for the data that wasn’t specified.
Somerville’s fluster showed further after one question, when he announced that “This is the kind of question that usually makes me walk out of the room, but I won’t this time since you’ve attributed your remarks to others instead of yourself,” giving himself license to give it one last go-for-the-Gipper amidst an unconvinced audience.
The winner is…..
And that’s pretty much how the Lynceans left it. Unconvinced. The global warming science debate continues, thank goodness. Come to your own conclusions, if you dare. But the Lynceans, as one group of real scientists, have yet to make up their minds.
Sources: Private communications, personal experience.