"Our greatest responsibility is to be good ancestors."

-Jonas Salk

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

National Review Gets Real

Can the Wall Street Journal be far behind?

Quark Soup
points out that the libertarian-conservative-republican (US) magazine National Review has a cover article conceding the reality of anthropogenic warming. You have to subscribe to read the article (I intend to read it over coffee at Borders, frankly) but here's the (current as of this posting) link for confirmation.

Update: The web is pretty cool sometimes. Apparently the author has written in with a link to a PDF of the article.

All they tell the nonsubscriber is this:
It is no longer possible, scientifically or politically, to deny that human activities have very likely increased global temperatures; what remains in dispute is the precise magnitude of the human impact. Conservatives should accept this reality — and move on to the question of what we should do about it. This would put us in a much better position to prevent a massive, counterproductive intervention in the U.S. economy.

By Jim Manzi


Anonymous said...

The PDF of the article is available on:


Jim Manzi

Michael Tobis said...


Michael Tobis said...

Jim, while we come at this from very different angles, and there are many points where we disagree, I am in total agreement with you on the following:

We should start with the development of better climate-prediction tools. The climate-modeling community has made real progress, but needs to mature rapidly if we are to use climate models as the basis for trillion-dollar decisions. Today, climate modeling shows all the classic symptoms of poor supervision of smart analysts, including: excessive analytical complexity driven by researcher interest rather than focus on
task-at-hand; lack of rigorous validation studies; software-engineering quality standards more appropriate for
exploratory research than for reliable predictions; lack of transparent data standards; and an over-weighting of investment in analysis, as opposed to data collection and validation.

The federal government should redirect funding in this area to develop a better software-modeling process, in combination with networks of physical sensors that can provide early-warning systems for the most plausible of the potential catastrophic climate scenarios.

Alas, I think expecting a real understanding of systems engineering to come out of the science bureaucracy in this or any other country without some sort of unusual push from the private sector is optimistic to the point of being unrealistic.

I'll have more to say about the prediction question on this blog soon. In short. climatology will not make the transition from a pure science to an applied science very easily.

I'd be very happy to discuss this with you at length. Feel free to get in touch; I'm sure you'll have no trouble tracking me down.

Michael Tobis said...

Actually I'm not really sure about the "networks of physical sensors" business...

We already have them, but they are being defunded. Can you just ask your friends in DC to have NASA's mission statement restored, please? We really need those satellites.

Crawling legions of nanites may be spooky as hell but nothing beats the long view for this stuff.

EliRabett said...

The problem with deploying a network of sensors, is by the time they tell you that catasrophic change is ineveitable it is (see ice cap, Greenland)