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The changing climate of climate change research

(3 Posts)
Bags Fri 02-Aug-13 14:43:20

Two recent interesting articles that I am very pleased to see. I've been hoping to read their like for a long time. The first is by Tamsin Edwards and was published in the Guardian. The second is by Doug McNeall and is an answer and an appreciation of Edwards' article. Both writers are climatologists.

Climate scientists should not advocate political policy

More thoughts on advocacy in climate science

carboncareful Fri 09-Aug-13 15:28:40

Still trying I see.....

FlicketyB Fri 09-Aug-13 17:21:34

Sorry? still trying what?

Anyway, the articles are really interesting and I absolutely agree with the first article but share the concerns in the second. In science as in everything staying objective, and not being swayed by emotion is essential. Never more so than with subjects that have been turned into religions - like climate change.

Where I would (mildly) disagree with Tamsin Edwrds is that all researchers need to draw conclusions from their results. It is not sufficient just to say these are my results. A researcher who left the conclusions out of an academic paper would be criticised.

To use her own analogy I do not think it sufficient for a hydrologist to just to draw a map of flood probabilities, she needs also to interprete what the maps mean - in words that are readily understandable and also to give some idea of how they could change. For example 'the recent annual increase in rainfall over the last x years if continued could increase the risk in (named) parts of the map' or 'the flood risk in this area has been increased by extensive house building in this area'. Both these conclusions are factual, neither is political.

Politicians and policy makers need to be advised by scientists and technologists and scientists and technologists must be prepared to give that advice, not by pontificating on the media but sitting down and talking to ministers and civil servants. To continue my analogy. It is reasonable for the flood specialist to advise a politician or other involved person that their research would suggest that building in flood zones should be restricted and where the construction has to take place flood mitigation methods should be implemented but not to advocate a particular policy for doing this.

I agree with Tamsin that she should not have opinions on carbon credits but I do think she should contextualise her research results.