Saturday, January 12, 2008

Climate Audit

Steve McIntyre has posted this commentary about his blog Climate Audit. In it, he expresses his concerns about the management of his website and the difficulties posed by the range of topics and commentary it attracts. It is a cogent assessment of the problems faced in seeking to understand the complexities inherent in questions about the dynamics of the climate system, some guidance for how to self-educate and the difficulties in hosting a forum for discussion on such a divisive topic. Among his points:
  • we should not assume that all specialists are wrong
  • but neither are they infallible
  • specialists have a responsibility to communicate to general audiences
  • the IPCC has done a poor job of bridging the gap between specialist and general audiences
  • no one is an expert in all areas of a complex, dynamic problem
Climate Audit is among the best of the blogs that focus on science and policy. Its posts are informative, it has a focus where it excels and the discussion is both lively and well moderated.
The continued need for such blogs and recognition of the inherent uncertainty of climate change is further re-enforced by the latest findings about ice sheets persisting even during past periods of exceptional warmth, something current climate projections neither predict nor can account for.
Climate science is a developing field. If you are risk-willing, it is premature to make any public policy decisions premised on such nascent information. If you are risk-adverse, the infancy of the field is irrelevant to the convenient support it lends to your dogma.
As Climate Audit shows, dispelling the myths and exposing the inaccuracies, imprecision and uncertainties of the science is not a simple nor a quick process. Neither is it necessarily well-accepted by those fellows of the fraternity whose work is de-frocked by an audit of their methodology and/or ideology.

As this post illustrates, some blogs are particularly obtuse and hypocritical in their reaction to those who have the temerity to question the veracity of the priesthood.