Climate: More Evidence Needed
Responding to Chancellor Domenico Grasso (Last Word, Prism, March-April 2020):
As a retired engineer, I laud (not chide) the IEEE, ASME, and ASCE for “remaining on the sidelines” concerning the hysterics on climate change, and thank the AIChE for its relatively cautious stand in its March 2019 Climate Change Policy Statement.
Better science is absolutely needed for drawing fair and rational strategic, economic, and political responses to observed climate change, for the “why?” in the cause of change we observe has not been sufficiently evidence-driven to declare boldly that it is principally of anthropogenic origin. The so-far guesswork embedded in the “consensus science”-driven models has left unacceptable voids in the understanding of “what have we here?” and “why is it so?”
The “what?” and “why?” puzzle those who have taken the time to understand the spurious origin of the so-called “97 percent consensus” and those who are professionally dissatisfied and dismayed by the gross inaccuracy of the models’ warming forecasts over the past 15 years and therefore agnostic about exponential future trajectories. And they are mystified by the logic of blaming climate change on the “bad side” of CO₂ without scientifically analyzing properly the climate effects of ocean, wind, and clouds. And they refuse to ignore the beneficial effects of CO₂ on the proven reduction of abject poverty globally, effects that are inadequately captured by the information-poor “global average” temperature fixation of current models, rather than regionally differentiated, locally relevant models.
Hats off to the IEEE, ASME, and ASCE for staying on the sidelines until science delivers some answers to the “whys?” bedeviling our professions. In the words of Richard Feynman, parroting the spirit of Albert Einstein, “Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.”
Highly respected climate agnostics (such as the recently deceased professor Freeman Dyson, world renowned theoretical physicist at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J.) argue for continued pursuit of better evidence-based understanding of the Earth’s ecology to reduce radically the yawning uncertainties in the flawed consensus science. Such laudable initiatives are being objectively pursued, ground up, by the Caltech-led Climate Modeling Alliance (with MIT, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and the Naval Postgraduate School); and an MIT-led consortium pursuing geospatially resolved (i.e., locally relevant), integrated economic models (Nature Communications, February 13, 2018), which in combination have goals of reducing uncertainties at least two times smaller than existing models.
Perhaps, within the next few years, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the engineering professions themselves will have better science to support public statements aimed at influencing public policy on so important an issue as climate change. Until then, on the sidelines is the smarter place to be, along with the spirit of three wise men, Einstein, Feynman, and Dyson.
James H. Scott
Chester Springs, PA