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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Settled Science?

Dr. Tim Ball, one of the first Canadians to hold a Ph.D. in climatology, wrote his doctoral thesis at the University of London (England) using the remarkable records of the Hudson’s Bay Company to reconstruct climate change from 1714 to 1952. He has published numerous articles on climate change and its impact on the human condition. Dr Ball has served on numerous committees at the federal, provincial, and municipal levels on climate, water resources, and environmental issues. He was a professor of climatology at the University of Winnipeg for 28 years. He is currently working as an environmental consultant and public speaker based in Victoria and has written, with Dr Stuart Houston, 18th Century Naturalists on Hudson Bay, a book on the science and climate of the fur trade (McGill-Queens University Press, 2003).

So you would expect Dr. Ball to be right on board with global warming, right? wrong.

"The Science Isn't Settled - The Limitations of Global Climate Models," Dr. Timothy Ball, March 21, 2007

Computerized models of the earth’s climate are at the heart of the debate over how public policy should respond to climate change. Global climate models – also called general circulation models – attempt to predict future climatic conditions starting with a set of assumptions about how the climate works and guesses about what a future world might look like in terms of population, energy use, technological development, and so on.

Analysts have pointed out, however, that many of the assumptions used in modeling the climate are of dubious merit, with biases that tend to project catastrophic warming, and have argued that climate models have many limitations that make them unsuitable as the basis for developing public policy.

Dr. Tim Ball discussed the paper The Science isn't Settled, published by the Fraser Institute (www.fraserinstitute.ca/admin/books/files/ScienceIsntSettled.pdf), and examined two major limitations that hinder the usefulness of climate models to those forming public policy.

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6 comments:

Republibot 3.0 said...

I've always been a bit sceptical about this whole "Global Warming" thing. I don't doubt that it happens - there've been 35 ice ages in the last three million years, and at least a dozen or so Hot Ages - but obviously we didn't have anything to do with those, right, since we hadn't evolved yet?

My thinking is that rather obviously Global Warming and Global Cooling are a natural cycle, and we flatter ourselves by assuming we have anything to do with it. It's ironic that the environmentalists who decry Global Warming are actually contradicting this natural cycle and trying to hold nature back.

tuffy777 said...

thanx, Republibot
I am all for clean air and water, but if our activities are causing climate change, it is nothing compared to the early industrial revolution, when they were burning tons of coal and wood
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Anonymous said...

So, just a couple of things to share, as credibility is important. Ball's PhD dissertation (in geography) covered the years 1714 to 1850. He was a professor of geography (with a focus on climate, it seems) at the University of Winnipeg for 8 years (associate professor for 4, and instructor / lecturer for 11) ≠ 28 years. The numerous articles he has published on climate change have been in the popular press (he's prolific, gotta say that about him). His scientific peer-reviewed publications number approximately 4. If you're going to mention his co-authorship of 18th Century Naturalists, please also mention the third author, Mary Houston, who sounds like a very nifty woman! (See http://mqup.mcgill.ca/book.php?bookid=1630.) Also, anything published by the Fraser Institute is automatically considered right-wing and taken with a huge grain of salt by any Canadians who appreciate the social and economic justice gains we've made in this country. Also, as an update, it's no longer about computerized climate models. It's now about what's happening to the world's most climate vulnerable, as they are already being tragically impacted by the changing climate. Just FYI.

Oh, and by the way, the warming we're (still) seeing today is part of the burning of coal and wood that has been happening since the Industrial Revolution.

And for Republibot, it's important to understand that those natural cycles of warming and cooling have given us a stable climate over the last 10,000 years that allowed the "invention" of agriculture and hence human civilization (take away the stable climate, we lose agriculture = losing billions of humans, and not just poor people on the other side of the world). The problem today is that we are speeding up the heating. The fear is that it's going to happen faster than we can adapt to, and if we hit tipping points....

We're not taught ecology or the carbon cycle well in school (at least, not here in North America), so people who are skeptical or in denial at first can be forgiven. But it's so easy to learn the basic physics of global warming and the ecological and economic impacts of climate change online that it soon becomes unforgivable laziness -- tantamount to progenycide.

tuffy777 said...

And we are supposed to accept the credentials of "Anonymous"?

Anonymous said...

Well, no, I don't think I presented any credentials for you to accept. Nor have I presented myself as an expert. I guess what you're supposed to do is check the credentials of those who purport to be experts (in this case, someone who you present as an expert).

Also, I've learned that the denier / skeptic / delayer folks sometimes don't play fair, hence the Anonymous moniker.

But seriously, don't take my word for it. Simply do the same fact-checking that I've done.

BTW, I've recently (indeed, just today) read Tim Ball saying that he has published 23 peer-reviewed articles, so I'll be writing to the newspaper in question, asking for his bibliography. I would like to give him his due, if it's deserved.

In the same article, he said that he taught "climate, water resources and environmental studies for 28 years" (I still can't find those extra years, but perhaps he just hasn't included all his teaching in his bio), which isn't the same as teaching climatology.

What if we assume that we all want what's best for all the children, of all species, for all time? Could that lead to a world that is both prosperous *and* climate-safe for future generations? Does it have to be one or the other? (If so, I'd rather be alive and poor than dead and rich. But I honestly believe we can apply the precautionary principle to climate disruption while trying to create a healthy economy for all.)

tuffy777 said...

Anonymous, I suggest that you get your own blog to promote your views.