I recently posted an overview of a new climate study, Comparing the model-simulated global warming signal to observations using empirical estimates of unforced noise, by Patrick T. Brown, Wenhong Li, Eugene C. Cordero & Steven A. Mauget. That study is potentially important because of what it says about how to interpret the available data on global warming caused by human generated greenhouse gas pollution. Also, the since publication the study has been rather abused by climate contrarians who chose to interpret it very inaccurately. This is addressed in this item by Media Matters.
My post on the paper describes the basic findings, but at the time I wrote that, I had a number of questions for the study authors. I sent the questions off noting that there was not a big hurry to get back to me, since the climate wasn’t going anywhere any time soon. Lead Author, Patrick Brown, in the mean time, underwent something of a trial by fire when the denialosphere went nuts in the effort to misinterpret the study’s results. I guess I can’t blame them. There is no actual science to grab on to in the effort to deny the reality or importance of anthropogenic climate change, so why not just make stuff up?
Anyway, Patrick Brown addressed all the questions I sent him, and I thought the best way to present this information is as a straight forward interview. As follows.
Amidst the reactions I’ve seen on social media, blogs, etc. to your paper, I see the idea that your study suggests a downward shift in the (severity of, literally, GMT) resulting from greenhouse gas pollution than what was previously thought. However, I don’t think your paper actually says that. Can you comment?
“Sensitivity,” one of them says. “It is the number of degrees C the Earth’s surface will warm with a doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere. Is it 2, 3, 4? … We cant settle on a number”
The server considers their plight for a moment. Suddenly, she rips several sheets out of her order book and hands one to each of the scientists. She notices they all already have pens and mechanical pencils in their shirt pockets.
“Each of you write down a number for sensitivity. Don’t share. I’ll look at them all and if they are all the same number I’ll bring you your beer for free for the rest of the evening.”
The scientists comply. She looks at their numbers. They are all the same. Despite the quibbling they all had the same sense for what the number for climate “sensitivity” likely is. They get free beer for the evening.
Scientific consensus is what most scientists will nitpick about but ultimately agree on if free beer is at stake.
And just at that moment, Abdul's countenance visibly changed. He turned relatively white for a brown man, and I swear on the heavens that I saw a glow in his eyes. I don't mean a metaphorical glow. I saw light come from his very eyes, like dim flashlights, at the same time a profuse sweat formed on his brow and he began to sway a little.
The sweat dripped into his eyes and seemed to extinguish the preternatural fire they emitted and just as suddenly he came to, or almost came to, and uttered in the darkest monotone, "Hamisi will meet you on the mountains..." After a moment of silence, he returned to his normally pleasant jovial self, and glancing thoughtfully at each of us in turn, bid us our farewell and a safe journey.
His last words were this: "Take the case of liquor. Pay me later if you make it back."
- Harvard Graduate School of Arts and SciencesBiological Anthropology
- Self EmployedScience Communicator, present
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