Wednesday, 27 January 2010

An incomplete view on climate change

Prof Mike Hulme from University of East Anglia said it better: "Climate scientists get kudos from working on an issue in the public eye but with that kudos comes responsibility". His words resonate well with my overall stand on climate change.

The level of investment and prestige put on the scientific disciplines studying climate change has boosted in the last decade. This was to be expected, because they play a key role in a global and important topic that matters to society, industry and governments. Their achievements (tiny or small they might be) must be communicated, celebrated worldwide and commended with prestige, awards and further grants to continue the good work. Consequently, when errors (tiny or small they might be) are found, their professional responsibility must be required in proportion to the prestige, awards and grants gained.

In the same way, climate experts that have received awards, grants and professional prestige should not be surprised to find themselves under proportionally high pressure to review and justify once again their results.

Summary: "For everyone to whom much is given, of him shall much be required" Luke 12:48


I am not an expert in the topic, but I also have some views on it.

As a scientist doing research at the University of Edinburgh on thermal science, I see climate change as a very complex issue, dealing with an immense system, the Earth. The level of uncertainty attached to any prediction on a system this large has to be proportional to its size, immense. All my professional respect goes to climate scientists who are dealing with a very difficult problem to tackle.

As an engineer by training and an consultant to industry, I feel that most core solutions proposed so far to tackle the problem of climate change tend to lead as well towards improvements in energy efficiency, development of new technologies, alternative ways of engineering thinking and would foster the creation of new paradigms. This would be great news indeed. Even if climate change were not to be that 'fast' at the end, some proposed solutions could be good just by itself.

And as a citizen of the world, I worry that lobbies of many different colours and aims claim to understand well enough the complex scientific concepts behind climate change and dare to produce crystal-clear conclusions that might not be taking into account all the uncertainties.

Not an easy topic indeed, but worth our attention and effort, and also the pains that come from the heated debate.


NOTE: I write this on the train to London. Great views today of the English country side!