RealClimate logo


Technical Note: Sorry for any recent performance issues. We are working on it.

Fall AGU

Filed under: — gavin @ 9 December 2006

The Fall AGU meeting in San Francisco is always an exhilarating/exhausting (take your pick) fixture of the Earth Science calendar. This year will be no different, and since about half of us will be there, RealClimate will probably be a little quiet next week. Hopefully, we should be able to report on any highlights when we get back.

N.B. If any readers will be attending and want to say hi, I will be giving a talk on ‘Science blogging: RealClimate.org and the Global Warming debate‘ on Friday (PA53A, 13:40, MCS 309).

Update: AGU went well – lot’s of good stuff. The actual RealClimate presentation is available here – it’s pretty basic though (only 15 minutes worth)).


131 Responses to “Fall AGU”

  1. 1
    Andrew Dessler says:

    I have a poster on blogging in that same session, so I’m sure our paths will cross.

    Also, for those interested in the water vapor feedback, session A53F should be interesting (schedule here). Speakers in that session include myself, Lindzen, Soden, and a bunch of other excellent speakers. Based on his abstract, it looks like Lindzen is going to roll out an update to his iris theory. Should be “interesting.”

  2. 2
    UC says:

    Good luck!

  3. 3
    Hank Roberts says:

    For those of us who watch from outside, there’s the one public lecture: the Thompsons on compilation of time series of events across many ice cores, about rapid tropical climate change — I think this was the first press release about putting that all together, last June.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/06/060627093233.htm

  4. 4
    wacki says:

    I will be giving a talk on ‘Science blogging: RealClimate.org and the Global Warming debate’

    Heh, I would actually be interested in watching that. Are they podcasting any of the talks?

    [Response: With over 10,000 people and dozens of consecutive sessions, it might be a bit of a tall order. So, no. I'll post up the presentation when I get back though. - gavin]

  5. 5
    Jim Redden says:

    Wish I was coming this year…

    I’ve only attended AGU once, last year, and found the conference was very worthwhile–and still continue mining the information and data from last year AGU to this day. For example, the presenter pictures of the tundra land based methyl-hydrate was very enlightening and eye opening.

    I hope folks see to stay for the PA53A session. That late Friday session slot is a tough time, but last year McCracken, Sommerville, Keith, and Fleming ran a talk on geoengineering climate that was well attended–in an otherwise well emptied Moscone hall.

    So I hope your session has folks lending attention since the interface of the science community to the rest of the world is a key fulcrum point for social change. If family illness was not a factor, I would be in attendance this year.

    How Al Gore will be received is another highlight as well, and I’d bet his “climate talk” might end up being augmented with a discussion on methane in the future.

    On another aside, what we are going to do to alleviate the carbon emmissions of about 20,000 folks descending on San Francisco from around the world is another matter altogether? Blogging and forums, and other IP technology, might be a solution to alleviate the need for much long distance travel….

  6. 6
    Steve Bloom says:

    Just to note for any locals that AGU membership is open to the lay public, and that once a member one can attend the fall meeting. This costs, unfortunately, but I’m thinking of doing a day if I can make the time.

    On the subject of Lindzen and the iris (won’t this really be the third phase of this general concept, stretching back 20 years to the cumulus drying business?), I’m sure that many have noticed this new paper. It should all make for an interesting post.

  7. 7

    Seeing as how San Francisco is practically my backyard, I will also be at AGU. I’ll be with the cryosphere posters Thursday morning for anyone that wants to say hello.

  8. 8
    alice says:

    Sounds like it is going to be a great event look forward to meeting everyone there.

  9. 9
    David Graves says:

    As someone who travels by air on business, I am wondering if any scientists attending have comments on carbon offsets related to the burning of all that jet fuel? It’s probably hard to get your grants/institution to fork over, and how would the offsets be vetted?

  10. 10
    Eli Rabett says:

    To make Wacki happy, buy a digital voice recorder. At the conference, turn it on and put it in your pocket before you speak (you have to fool around a bit to find the best sensitivity and pocket. I find that the 3.5″ floppy holder, aka the front shirt or jacket pocket is best), record the talk and then put it into mp3 format that can be downloaded with the ppt presentation. I’m moving in this direction for my classroom lectures. My major project is to link it up to Dragon Naturally Speaking.

    Probably too late, but there are any number of camera/electronics shops around the Union Square area where you can get one.

  11. 11
    yartrebo says:

    Re #9:

    I’m quite skeptical as to the value of offsets. Some are related to cutting down rainforest, and others with coal mining, so how green can they possibly be?

  12. 12
    Grant says:

    Off topic, but relevant:

    Al Gore is organizing “get-togethers” nationwide for people to view the film “An Inconenient Truth.” It’s an opportunity to meet folks in your area who want to do something about the issue. And we regulars may be excellent guests for such events — there are bound to be lots of questions, and we’re pretty well-informed about the issue. You can find a gathering in your area at:

    http://pol.moveon.org/event/events/index.html?action_id=69

  13. 13
    Curt Schroeder says:

    I am now blogging conferences that I attend on a daily basis so that my students, many of whom cannot attend the same conferences, will get a semi-real time impression of the topic and discussions that go with it.

  14. 14
    PHE says:

    Re. no. 9 (David Graves)- offsets for air travel. Some travel agencies in Europe are charging a few dollars supplement to provide money for planting trees or subsidising wind farms. The UK Government is imposing an eco-tax of 10 pounds (20 dollars) per flight. Businesses can encourage more telephone or video conference calls in place of face-to-face meetings – but this has only limited potential. The unfortunate reality is that those who can afford it will not have to make any sacrifice to their lifestyle, and we would return to the concept of air travel for the rich only. It is up to those strongly in favour of controlling carbon emissions to set an example. While Tony Blair of course needs to travel for his job as Prime Minister, he doesn’t have to fly to the Carribean for his summer holidays (as he has for the last 2 or 3 years). Our environmentally conscientious Prince Charles doesn’t need 2 ski-ing holidays a year. Al Gore is flying all over the place spreading the message, but of course, he can justify it. For credibility, we need to see the most influential setting a true example and showing some personal sacrifice, and not just requesting (or making through law) that others make the change.

  15. 15
    Pat Neuman says:

    Re: #12. Thanks Grant.

    I input my zip code to the website and found 15 different Al Gore “get-togethers” planned in my area – which will be showing the movie “An Inconvenient Truth,” in their living rooms on Saturday, December 16, 2006.

    I forwarded your message to people in my family and I’ll sign up today for one of the “get-togethers”.

    The “get-togethers” sounds like fun to me. They will help make it more popular for people to talk about reducing their own greenhouse gas emissions.

  16. 16
    John Dodds says:

    Gavin,
    As a fervent NON-believer in GHG Warming, I heartily endorse this paper & the concept of a blog to explain scientific information.
    Without Realclimate.org, googling, wikipedia and the Weart/AIP history of climate science, I and many others would not know what we now know.

    I suggest that ALL journals & sciemtific organizations & researchers should be required to maintain blogs & scientific summaries similar to the IPCC TAR. Just part of the cost of doing business.
    Good luck with the paper.

    John Dodds
    PS has the posting system changed? I used to be able to reference other posts by copying the post time (which included the URL reference) It didn’t work this time. Is this you, or the fact that I just switched to IE7?

  17. 17
    Andrew Alden says:

    Because it’s in my neighborhood, I’ve attended AGU for some 20 years. I’m not deeply informed on climate change so I rarely comment in places like this, but I went to today’s Union session on global T curves for the last 2 millennia. Mann and McIntyre both gave presentations. While Mann and some others practically spat at McIntyre, he was not the only one pointing out adjustments and corrections and improvements to Mann’s work, in particular the RegEM method and its standardization against the instrumental record and also the weaknesses of the tree-ring records. To me, accustomed to the scientific conversation, the doubts raised seemed well within the envelope, but McIntyre seemed to paint with an overbroad brush and his critics spoke with unusual venom. There was definitely a tug-of-war happening.

  18. 18
    Tim Jones says:

    Interesting news…

    UN downgrades man’s impact on the climate
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/12/10/nclimate10.xml
    Richard Gray, Science Correspondent, Sunday Telegraph
    11/12/2006

    [full text of link edited]

    [Response: We've said before that we won't comment on leaks of the IPCC report since no one can check the text or the context. This is as confused an article as I have ever read. - gavin]

  19. 19
    CobblyWorlds says:

    Re #16, Hello John.

    Generally I agree, although the IPCC’s system has to be funded. Who would fund such a system?

    I’ve often thought that rather than just ‘RealClimate’ a ‘RealScience’ site might be a good idea, perhaps organised under the auspices of an international group of scientific bodies (like the UK’s Royal Society). Such a site could be there as a ‘soap-box’ for scientists to comment on the use of their work in the media.

    On a narrower basis I agree various other disciplines could benefit from having blogs like this aimed at communicating with the wider public. But I think this would have to be done by groups of scientists. I only normally check out the blogs of climate related scientists, that’s a bad habit really. But there is a wider science presence in the form of scienceblogs: http://www.scienceblogs.com/

  20. 20
    Zeke Hausfather says:

    Re: 17 (Tim Jones)
    That telegraph article completely misinterprets the upcoming IPCC AR4, at least in its current draft form. More Chinese whispers from Australia. Wait till February before passing any judgment (though our friend Inhofe seems not inclined to wait… http://washingtontimes.com/national/20061211-123435-9665r.htm. Luckily no respectable media outlet has jumped on this lark).

  21. 21
    Geordie says:

    I think science blogging is an essential idea, for all genres. Not only does it inform the general public but it introduces the random factor of so many people seeing the information and how they will look at it. My question is “Gavin how many hours a day, on average, do you spend keeping this site so pristine?” because most other scientist won’t take that time unless it becomes mandetory (which probably means sloppy) or paid, but maybe the pay rate should be based on number of hits the site gets or some sort voting system to make sure the sites are well run. As for funding I think it should be goverment funded as a system of education for everybody.

  22. 22
    Bob Ward says:

    I wonder whether Gavin could raise the question of the ethical implications of AGU allowing ExxonMobil to promote itself at the Fall Meeting through the Morning Mixer for students on Wednesday morning. As I pointed out in a letter to the company in September, it has misrepresented the science of climate change in its corporate publications and is funding a number of organisations that misrepresent the science. I find it highly ironic that AGU has arranged a number of sessions to discuss the integrity of science, particularly with respect to climate change, at the Fall Meeting, yet is happy not to challenge ExxonMobil about its activities. At the very least can Gavin ask AGU to reveal how much it has received from ExxonMobil, and whether any discussion took place about the ethics of providing a platform for the company’s public relations activities?

  23. 23
    Bob Ward says:

    Sorry, to provide some context, here are the concluding statements about ‘Climate Science’ from the ExxonMobil report on corporate citizenship report:

    “Uncertainty and risk
    While assessments such as those of the IPCC have expressed growing confidence that recent warming can be attributed to increases in greenhouse gases, these conclusions rely on expert judgment rather than objective, reproducible statistical methods. Taken together, gaps in the scientific basis for theoretical climate models and the interplay of significant natural variability make it very difficult to determine objectively the extent to which recent climate changes might be the result of human actions. These gaps also make it difficult to predict the timing, extent, and consequences of future climate change.
    Even with many scientific uncertainties, the risk that greenhouse gas emissions may have serious impacts justifies taking action. The choice of action must consider environmental, social, and economic consequences, as well as recognize the long-term nature of climate change.”

    Make up your own mind about whether these statements are a reasonable representation of the state of scientific knowledge.

  24. 24
    Hank Roberts says:

    Ah, yes. The fammiliar old “gaps” argument recycled from the tobacco and evolution ‘debates’.

  25. 25
    Andrew Alden says:

    #22,23: the question was raised directly to AGU President Tim Killeen yesterday morning at the “integrity in science” session run by Peter Gleick of Oakland’s Pacific Institute. Killeen sidestepped it, simply urging students to show up and mingle with AGU’s top people. Personally I think he would have been out of line saying anything else. But the question was significant and a point was made.

    As for Exxon’s statement, its second paragraph is the nut–action is justified. The first paragraph is at least arguable, although it is convenient for Exxon to assert that only perfect “objective” statistics is the gold standard.

  26. 26
    pete best says:

    Is any one speaking on the volumes of fossil fuels left in the world, Gas and Oil are going to peak within 5 to 25 years and that means that by 2050 only coal will be left to provide us and I dount that we can get it to scale to replace Oil and Gas which make up some 60% of currenlt world energy supplies in one for or another. We have some 6 to 7 hundred billion tonnes of Coal left and we consume some 6 billion tonnes per annum, that will have to goto 12 to 15 billion tonnes per annum to replace Oil and Gas (and that is just for todays numbers). At present consumption rates we have some 100 years of coal, without Oil and Gas we have some 40 years of Coal reserves, not enough to make climate change a major major factor come 2070 is it ?

    anyone talking about that as I heard James Hansen mention these things in some talks he is giving.

  27. 27
    Jeff says:

    Guys… looks like its the cows that are causing all the global warming. If we get rid of them, looks like we’ll be all set!
    http://news.independent.co.uk/environment/article2062484.ece

  28. 28
    cat black says:

    #26: From what I’ve read here and elsewhere, releasing just the known buried reserves of fossil fuels would create CO2 levels that are generally agreed as being way above anything we’d care to see given the expected geophysical effects. Add to this positive feedbacks from methane releases and added water vapor and I fear we’d be a very unhappy bunch of primates indeed.

    And consider: If we don’t curb our appetite for these fuels now, then toward the end of their (currently) expected availability there will be more, not less, demand for a scarce resource thus driving up the price. And therefore more, not less, effort at extraction of what was before marginally valuable reserves and more not less exploration in deeper and more remote locations heretofore deemed not worth the effort. We see just this happening with oil now.

    The idea of what quantity of product lay in “reserves” is a function of how much we’re willing to work at getting them, which is driven in turn by their value in the market, which goes up with scarcity and/or demand.

    As a rough guess, I’d estimate that every time the value of oil, coal or gas doubles this increases the extractable “reserves” likewise about 25% simply because there is more money to go and find them, or fetch them from difficult sources. By the time 40-100 years has passed with this kind of market-driven positive feedback one can imagine that the actual amount of fossil fuels to be extracted over that time might be double what we now know to be finite “reserves” at current market rates. The only force holding this back (apart from the very real limit on the actual quantity of buried organic material on the planet) is the price of the final fuel to consumers and governments. Would people be willing to pay $80/gallon for gas, or similar high rates for electricity generated from gas or coal, as these resources became scarce? My guess is, someone would be willing to, and enough would do that to keep the pumps going and the mines digging, until that expense and drain on economic output simply put an end to it even as a luxury good. But that might be a LONG way down the road.

    In short, if you want to wait until everything is simply burned up then you might have a VERY long wait indeed, and might be burning up twice what you think you now need to burn up to simply get rid of it all. And the thought of doing THAT has a very high sphincter coefficient if you ask me.

  29. 29
    pete best says:

    Re#28

    James Hansen states that we can burn all of the Oil and Gas available to us but that it is Coal that is the main issue due to there being both more of it and because it is a very dirty fuel. However there are at present very few alternatives to fossil fuels, hence the reason for this site and the wider debate on climate change. Of course we have AGW but is it dangerous to humanity overall, sure people are going to die from AGW but looking at world response to the threat of AGW it would appear that some countries are prepared to sacrifice a lot to keep their position at the top of the leage militarily, politically and economically.

    Unless we can develop suitable altrnatives to fossil fuels (which at the present time we are struggling to do) and get them out there and in use en masse by everyone the ineviatable issue is more AGW but will it be dangerous to all of us and will it even hurt most of us if it never becomes dangerous.

  30. 30
    John Davis says:

    #28. Yes but…as the price goes up, alternative sources of energy become ever more attractive and the natural tendency is to change to the cheaper option: which is why nearly all the coal mines in the UK are now closed. Every year Solar and Wind power gets cheaper and it’s unikely we’ll ever need to use up all the hydrocarbons as other energy sources will emerge in time. The mistake is always to assume that all the options we see now are all the options we will ever have.
    Of course, all this tends to work better in a market-driven economy; centrally planned setups like China are less flexible.

  31. 31
    Hank Roberts says:

    Andrew Alden, glad to see you’re blogging from AGU! Thank you.
    (click on his name above for link: http://geology.about.com/ )

  32. 32
    pete best says:

    Re#30, there are curently no viable alternatives to fossil fuels on the scale that they are used, that is exactly the issue. Solar and Wind are limited by efficiency and do not produce anything like the energy of fossil fuels otherwise we would already be susing them en masse.

    Think about it for a minute, Uranium is in limited supply and hance Nuclear fission is limited in its ability to scale. Fusion is nowhere currently, renewables are going to only provide around 20% maximum without major efficiency breakthroughs.

    One option could be microwind and microsolar coupled to making making energy savings via insulation, efficient devices but that is unlikely to happen due to cost.

  33. 33
    cat black says:

    #30: If I were a business man in the alternative energy sector, I’d make sure that alternatives like solar and wind remain just ever so slightly MORE expensive than fossil fuels… and rely on the “greenness” factor to push people over the edge into buying. Then I’d track the price of my alternative against fluctuations in fossil fuels on the assumption that whatever people are willing to pay, they *should* pay. I imagine they still teach that principle on day 1 of business school.

    The price of alternatives may indeed fall below fossil fuels if some industrial sector (or even a single country) decides to corner the market via price controls, the way Standard Oil did back in the beginnings of the industrial revolution, and for similar long term reasoning. Meaning, it would be a business ploy and not a real reduction in pricing, just as gas used to be pennies a gallon and the full price measured in tenths of a penny (which you can still see on the service station displays, as ludicrous as it looks now.)

    My opening caveat, “If we don’t curb our appetite for these fuels now…” is the wildcard in the deck. Will consumers and governments really turn their backs on reliable and locally available oil and/or coal? Will the developing world in particular pass over these relatively less expensive energy resources as they modernize in a race with the developed world? “Unlikely” I would dare say. Nor do I see manufacturers of alternative energy sources like solar and wind generation to be any less pragmatic regarding profits in a mixed energy market than the oil barons that came before them. Thus I anticipate a neck-and-neck race between fossil and alternative energy sources, in both price per unit and growth in capacity, for many years. Nor will it help the situation that oil companies are getting into the alternatives scene. It should cause one to pause when they see “BP” mentioned as a leading provider of solar panels. When ExxonMobil enters the market you’ll know we’re in big trouble.

    About the only thing I can see happening to shut down oil and coal consumption entirely (other than exhaustion of current and future available reserves) is a very rare kind of moral outrage at the prospect of our changing this planet counter our own interests, akin to the outrage at nuclear war or genocide (as weak as even that outrage has become). If enough people become fearful enough regarding the quality of life of future generations then maybe they’ll ween themselves off fossil fuels before they are entirely used up.

    But moral outrage is a slippery thing, as Al Gore correctly identified in his AIT talk, and it can take many generations to change peoples’ minds.

  34. 34
    Marco Parigi says:

    The price of alternatives may indeed fall below fossil fuels if some industrial sector (or even a single country) decides to corner the market via price controls

    Sunny (sic) Germany indeed is getting a lions share of the worlds solar cells by subsidising them the most. Since there is a finite worldwide production capacity at the moment, this has pushed up the price of solar cells on the open market. The price controls in Germany means that for somewhere like Australia which has a real lot of sun it is less economically viable at the moment. Governments should stop distorting the market with subsidies so the cells can go to the most appropriate places instead of the ones with the highest subsidies!

  35. 35
    Andrew Alden says:

    Al Gore made news today, not especially by asking scientists to become more active in policymaking (which is well and good) but by quoting the Big-Brother-has-slouched-in reaction of a hapless USGS scientist, Jim Estes, to new review rules announced at the agency. Right afterward I went to a session on how scientists can deal with the media. A speaker mentioned having phoned Estes to tell him Gore had quoted him; his reaction was “Oh shit.” That got the audience’s attention, probably scaring off a few scientists from even thinking about talking to the press. But lots of scientists do it right, like the ones on this blog.

  36. 36
  37. 37
    pete best says:

    Re #33 and #34. again the assumption is that renewables can replace fossil fuels which they cannot at the present time, not without major efficiency breakthroughs which cannot happen with Wind anyway as they already work at around 40% efficiency which is very good but not good enough, well not unless you are planning on covering half the planet in wind turbines and and the other half in solar panels. Maybe on the equator and in windy places they can help a bit but not enough I fear.

    Fossil Fuels are energy dense, hence why we use them and their power is seen in artic lorries and aircraft etc.

    Maybe we can all drive electric hybrids as reported in scientific american yesterday but they still consume fossil fuels from the grid in the form of coal, they just create less pollution in urban areas.

  38. 38

    Re “Re#30, there are curently no viable alternatives to fossil fuels on the scale that they are used, that is exactly the issue. Solar and Wind are limited by efficiency and do not produce anything like the energy of fossil fuels otherwise we would already be susing them en masse.”

    Wind power is cost-competitive with fossil fuels right now, and solar is dropping. Both markets are growing at double-digit rates.

  39. 39
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    Re #18 & the IPCC “downgrading” man’s role in the warming, I think that is in reference to climate SENSITIVITY to GHGs, and I believe the low end was upgraded, as well. (Why didn’t they also point out that climate SENSITIVITY had been “upgraded” by xx% at the lower end?) I think these changes have to do with scientists being more certain, narrowing the confidence interval (which often happens as more & more data come in). RC has discussed SENSITIVITY several times…it is how much warming (within a confidence interval range) to expect with a standardized amount of CO2 (2 times pre-industrial level, I believe).

    That, however, says nothing about what the CO2 levels will be in 2100 & hence does not predict the upper limit to the warming — which depends on whether or not we cease & desist from this ghastly earth-warming experiment & whether or not nature starts kicking in its own GHGs as a response to the warming. Both cases are looking very bad — our emissions are increasing a lot, and permafrost is melting faster than anyone expected, and some ocean methane hydrates are at shallower depths than anyone thought, acc to a recent study (closer to the warming waters). So who knows what the CO2 levels will be in 2100 — not to mention the further warming from an iceless dark Arctic ocean acting as a big heat absorber.

    As for sea rise, one of RC’s scientists, Stephan Rahmstorf, just came out with an article stating the IPCC may be underestimating the sea rise. See: http://www.climateark.org/shared/reader/welcome.aspx?linkid=65045

    At any rate, I consider the IPCC reports fairly conservative in their estimates, AND each succeeding report comes back with “it’s worse than we thought” type information on the whole. Just stick your finger to the wind & see which way it’s blowing. You don’t have to be a weather man or rocket scientist.

  40. 40
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    Re my recent post, it occurred to me that the narrowing of the confidence interval for climate sensitivity (the “downgrading” of the high figure & “upgrading” of the low figure) actually strengthens the proof for AGW (I think). If the climate change we’re witnessing today were just noise or random fluctuations, I think there would tend not be a narrowing of the confidence interval around some figure higher than todays global average temp — such a narrowing tends to happen mainly when something is happening, AGW in this case. The really important figure, I think, would be that the low end is further away from 0 (the null hypothesis) than before. If I’m wrong, just let me know.

  41. 41
    Sashka says:

    Re: #29

    James Hansen states that we can burn all of the Oil and Gas available to us but that it is Coal that is the main issue due to there being both more of it and because it is a very dirty fuel.

    Which is another reason why the attack on cars emissions is misguided.

  42. 42
    savegaia says:

    Many people are to lazy to read text and beside this to reach certain social groups we need to use visuals as well. I suggesting to use more Videos, Podcasts and such media to share solution, technology and progress. Also this influence the authenticity, accessibility, and feelings positive.

    And i hope i can find soon some media streams from this years AGU on youtube and video.google.com.

    Best

  43. 43
    cat black says:

    #35: Estes has good company in Hansen then. Scientists should not be afraid to say that their work is being censored or doctored in some manner, or is headed in that direction. While most do not understand science as an area of work, people still rely on unbiased scientific results to help them decide what is a problem in the environment and what is not. That some oil-industry-lubricated politician might be fiddling with the facts means that people are left in the dark on matters of grave importance to their quality of life, if not their survival, and that kind of back room dealing is intolerable in a representative government.

    I’ve in the past worked on an academic team doing field research on matters of serious importance to public health (involving heavy metal contamination) and I can tell you that under the best of circumstances government agencies are not shy about questioning “troubling data points”. Researches *do* worry about their funding being pulled once data starts rolling in. That’s the first thing you think about when the levels exceed regulatory standards; how am I going to keep my funding with results like this?

    Science and politics intersected the MOMENT the EPA was created in response to concerns from the public about research showing that industrial and agricultural pollution was damaging the environment. The MOMENT that the government began regulating businesses about their discharges into the environment, the fate of all future scientific research on environmental issues was handed to the lobbyists for mining and manufacturing concerns. It has been a titanic struggle ever since, and most scientists seem to just want to do their work and so understandably allow managers to decide what is published and what is not. I have had the very good fortune of hanging around entirely with academics (because the work I’ve participated in remains in the realm of specialists) and academics are far more willing to go mano-a-mano with industry lobbyists holding government positions. I can’t imagine how frustrating it must be to try and do respected work while under government observation, often under the noses of people hired right out of industries with a keen interest in one’s results.

  44. 44
    Jim Redden says:

    With regard to the streaming, recording, and IP narrow-casting from AGU meeting…

    And related to Gore’s AGU comments…

    This may be old news from last year, but I happened to sit in on a session that covered editorial and publication issues of the AGU.

    One dominant point of view presented seemed to be that the AGU pubs division is a major revenue machine–competing along with other like privates like Elsevier.

    This seems to be in marked contrast to the open access government supported journals of Europe: journals that still engage the peer review process, but are open to all eyes. For the greater good, it seems that the for-profit business model runs counter for the collective learning of both the scientific community and society at large, and by extension, even to the work force to business private sector capitalism, and ensuing long-term sustainable economic growth.

    Also another voice suggested that all scientists should strive to write abstracts readily understood by other scientists–encouraging the usage of specialized nomenclature for the body and analysis. It was pointed out that some abstracts resolve as too specialized for scientists outside of the exact field to understand, at a glance, what is being posited.

    In general, as multimedia literacy pervades our modes of online communication, perhaps academic standards of publishing should evolve to include an evolving formal standards model to support animations, audio, and hyperlinked documents.

    I say, as the Internet evolves, so better the thinking of the AGU. Officially encouraging the recording each session–simply audio–and then providing a posting space for presenters, online, with some very reasonable fee for access–would be great start.

  45. 45
    Stephen Pranulis says:

    An earlier comment called the attack on cars misguided. First, let me say I don’t know what attack the commenter was referring to, but let me launch one right now, OK?
    Transportation accounts for over a quarter of US energy use. How much of that energy is wasted moving over-powered status symbols or testosterone-enhancing-amusement vehicles? Perhaps half or more? Maybe an eighth or more of our total national energy consumption? Maybe 14 Quads? Wasted on non-essential energy intensive activity? And how much additional tire and brake particulate is added to our atmosphere as a result of this frivolity?

    What’s in YOUR lungs?

  46. 46
  47. 47
    Sashka says:

    Re: #45

    You could remove most of the question marks in your comment by googling around a little bit.

    Generally I support your sentiment. I would add that in order to heat our homes we burn inordinate amounts of natural gas which accounts for a lot more CO2 than all cars together. I don’t understand why people are allowed to live in four bedroom houses that need so much gas to heat and power to cool in the summer. (Funny enough, inhabitants of the those houses are often the same people who want to eliminate SUVs.) The planet would be a lot safer if everybody lived in studios and one bedroom apartments. That’s what we should work on.

  48. 48
    Grant says:

    Re: #46

    It’s only a brief segment of Gore’s speech, but it’s probably one of the most important parts. It deals with requirements by the Bush administration that scientists in government jobs submit their research for review (by non-scientists) before its publication.

    It’s tantamount to censorship. Every one of us who values the freedom of scientific research should write to our elected representatives demanding that congress forbid Bush’s censorship tactic by law.

  49. 49
    Roger Smith says:

    “Transportation accounts for over a quarter of US energy use”
    In the northeastern US, transportation-related emissions are closer to 40% of the total GHG emissions, and this is the fastest growing sector. Putting all of your eggs into any one basket is foolish policy. Cars are also the primary source of smog-forming NOx emissions, and the health effects of ozone days are well understood.

  50. 50

    Re #46

    Gore stumbles when he says that the reason we allow censorship of science to happen is because of the way we now accept any message. I think the reason he struggles there is because he does not really believe what he is saying! He knows, that the reason we do not want to believe the scientists, is because they are telling us some very disturbing truths!

    I doubt that even he is willing to face up to the truth. Scientists have already said that to stop global warming we will have to reduce CO2 emissions to 40% of the emissions we produced in the year 2000. That is impossible in a free economy!

    The capitalist economy is driven, not by the Marxist labour theory of value, but by the energy theory of value. Without an increase in energy consumption the economy will contract. That means no democraticaly elected government can contemplate an end to growth. No democratically elected (free) government can encourage a reduction in fossil fuel consumption. A reduction in consumption of fossil fuels to the level needed to save the world would severely disrupt the American and the global economy. Let’s face it, fossil fuels provide 90% of our energy needs. With 60% less oil we would be 60% poorer :-(

    When Gore attacted the Bush administration for hiding the truth, did he suddenly realise that Bush is right? With 60% less oil Americans would be 60% poorer. Did he suddenly realise that democracy does not have an answer to global warming? Did he realise that we are all doomed? No! He is not that bright, he is only a politician :-)

    Cheers, Alastair.


Switch to our mobile site