The Curry Open Letter on Climate Science
For me, the focus on Towards Rebuilding Trust is not the issue. The general public very likely has some vague overall concepts of the basic nature, characteristics, and properties of science, and the behavior of scientists. The general public, however, has never been directly subjected to results solely produced by a science community.
The critical aspect, in contrast to trust by the general public, is as follows. Policy decisions the outcome of which affect the health and safety of the public are never based solely on the basic concepts of science and scientists. Every one of these outcomes, without exception, have been implemented through independent regulatory agencies of governments. These agencies have been designed first of all to be placed between advocates and the general public. The agencies are also responsible for conducting rigorous, independent, deep, and difficult, review of not only the background science, but more importantly the science, engineering, and technology that is necessary for implementation of products and services. All of these agencies have set in place procedures and processes that must be followed without exception.
The reviews, by the way, are almost never based solely on the peer-reviewed literature as published in only selected properly approved journals by selected and approved authors. Instead, while some peer-reviewed literature will of course be considered, it is the internally conducted science, engineering, and technology that will be the basis of the decisions. Much of this research, development, engineering, and technology, by its very definition, is not, can not, and will not be available to the general public. In this respect, most of the general public may not be even vaguely aware of the nitty-gritty details of the basis of decisions that affect them. They couldn’t care less abut the science. They only want the decisions to be correct.
Additionally, note that while the climate change community insists that mistakes and errors will appear in peer-reviewed literature as published in only selected properly approved journals by selected and approved authors, these will potentially be corrected at some unspecified times in the future. Assumption of merely potentially timely resolution of errors will never be used as a justification for implementation of policies that affect the health and safety of the public.
Some of the independent agencies have acronyms familiar to the general public; FDA, NRC, FAA, DOT, among hundreds of others. Independent approval is mandatory for certification of aircraft, marketing of drugs, building power plants, damns, bridges, elevators, roads and highways, automobiles, escalators, composition of concrete, building materials and an almost endless list of others. The processes and procedures imposed on various industries are accepted as standard operating conditions and correctly followed by tens of thousands of employees in hundreds of industries. It’s not rocket science.
This is the critical focus area. I suggest that until climate science can identify an exception, climate science will continued to be an area which will be subjected to unrelenting, independent, public, and in public, verification and validation. The activities for which the climate change community should take responsibility, many already imposed on members of professional engineering societies and their publications, will be conducted by persons outside the community.
For a different outlook on the situation, consider the following. Here are several issue that have the potential to affect the health and safety of the public;
1. Irradiation of all organic food would save lives and at the same time reduce the resources needed to produce foodstuffs by a significant reduction in food wastes. With a bonus of needing less hydrocarbon-based supplements for crop production.
2. Nuclear power is at present the best alternative fuel source to fossil fueled base-loaded electricity production.
3. Genetically modified food crops have the same benefits as listed in 1 above.
4. The proper use of DDT can very significantly reduce unnecessary deaths in less-developed countries.
There are others and some more or less controversial among the general public. Note firstly that none of these have been approved solely by ‘the science’. Instead, every one of them has had independent regulatory agency approval. Secondly, note that not only has the science been known for decades, but more importantly the engineering and technology to safely implement them have been researched and developed to the extent that safe and effective products and services are available. Finally, note that some have not yet been widely implemented and remain contested. Why does the science change community consider themselves immune to the outcome that these have experienced.
And consider the following:
1. Use of biomass crops to reduce consumption of oil for transportation has very significant adverse impacts on the environment and more importantly on human populations through higher costs for food necessary for health and safety.
A climate-change community issue for which no one in that community will accept responsibility. An example that the just do something application of the precautionary principle will generally lead to failure.
As the headlines come out day after day, climate science is very likely at the present time not among the sciences in which much public trust will soon remain. But from my view that is another issue altogether. And, also from my view, they did it to themselves. On moderated blogs, why is it ever necessary that demeaning and obscene comments appear? Obscene characterizations of persons exhibits nothing more than stupidity. In one case of which I am aware, the blog owner has made such characterizations. Presumption of motives also frequently appears. Unfounded labeling runs rampart. If a label is applied, it should be accompanied with documentation that the label is correct. Mistaken characterizations of the results of the science are let stand if the characterization is favorable to the perception of a rapidly approaching, and enormous, unavoidable, fatal calamity of global proportions. Mistaken characterizations of the AOLGCM codes are let stand if the characterization implies that the bases of the software is at an extremely fundamental level. Recently the AOLGCMs were characterized to be a computational physics problem and thus devoid of any heuristic or ad hoc or empirical or EWAG or hand-waving aspects. All that is needed to get significantly more nearly accurate results is a little more computer time.
One of the reasons that I became interested in climate issues was the overwhelming appeal to their own authority that is evident in the area. Fundamental documentation issues and the total lack of, and complete dismissal of, use of fundamental processes and procedures in software development are among the main problem areas that I see. The fundamental processes and procedures in software development have been accepted and successfully integrated into every-day working environments by thousands of professionals in a very wide range of other engineering / technical / scientific disciplines. The climate change community seems to expect an exemption from application of these standard and critically necessary processes and procedures.
Other problem areas are the lack of respect for the informed understanding of others. The community seems to have overlooked the fact that there are lots of semi-retired, highly trained individuals with quite a bit of free time on their hands and looking for something to keep them busy.
Foolish assignment of the roles of Big Something in the views of others that are contrary to the revealed wisdom. Equally foolish, and just plain wrong, assignment of the sources of funding for those that have an informed understanding that differs from the accepted. and expected, norm
The appeal to, and extremely unusual assignment of prime importance to, so-called peer-review published papers in only the proper accepted journals. Again overlooking the fact that there are millions of people having both written and reviewed such papers and are very aware of exactly what the process accomplishes. And more importantly, what the process does not accomplish and was never intended to accomplish. The appeal to, and extremely unusual assignment of prime importance to, a very narrow range of areas and expertise that are allowed to express an informed understanding of issues.
These problem areas, coupled with an overarching appeal to supreme authority and associated arrogance are not conducive productive discussions. On the other hand, many associated with the climate change community are openly hostile to the very idea that productive discussions should be tolerated or even allowable.