Posts Tagged ‘Royal Society’

Hat tip to contributor ‘Bob FJ’ who has alerted me to this transcript of Royal Society President Sir Paul Nurse speaking on Australian public radio station ABC Radio National last Saturday. This is just the ‘climate bit’, but the whole thing is worth reading as an insight into Sir Paul’s thinking on matters of science policy and research direction. Apparently, he thinks the sceptics and ‘deniers’ are politically motivated cherry pickers. “Mr Pot, there’s a Mr Kettle on line two for you”.

nursing_the_statistics_jdSir Paul Nurse:

The consensus view of the majority of expert climate scientists is very clear, that the globe has increased in temperature by around 0.8°C in the last 100 years, that this is largely due to increased greenhouse gas emissions, and these are a consequence, at least in part or a significant way, of human activity, and that a further rise of around 2° or maybe up to 4° can be expected in the next century. That would be the approximate consensus view.

Within this mainstream consensus view there is quite a lot of debate about aspects of the science, and that is a legitimate debate, you know, is it 1.5° or is it 3°, et cetera, and it particularly applies to predicting the future. And it’s made difficult because of the complexities of feedbacks within the global climate system. That makes it difficult to come to decisions.


My thanks to Mike Haseler, head of the Scottish Climate & Energy Forum, and co-participant at the Royal society workshop on Handling Problems With Uncertainty in Weather and Climate Prediction which we attended earlier this month. he has written this paper in response to the event, which he has kindly given permission for publication here.

Climate changes: The importance of supra-national institutions in nurturing the paradigm shifts of scientific development.

 Scottish Climate & Energy Forum, 7 Poplar Drive, Lenzie, UK

Those present at the Royal Society meeting in October 2012 were left in little doubt about the importance of climate and weather prediction and its power to save lives. Whilst numerical modelling provides this invaluable information on daily to seasonal/regional forecasts, this meeting revealed a new paradigm emerging regarding longer term forecasts. This paper shows the learning curve suggests current methods could take 24,000 years to reach the maturity needed to be the basis for public policy. We examine whether problems of communication of probabilistic forecasts may indicate a lack of a “mental model” or shared understanding in numerical modelling and that more scientific structure may both improve communication and utility of weather and climate projections. Although climate is uncertain and numerical predictions immature, there is high confidence that climate will continue to vary, that this will have profound impacts and that e.g. doubling CO2 is likely to add to the natural variation. So, the message to policy makers as the Kyoto Commitment comes to an end, should be that whatever the cause of climate changes, we should continue to fund lifesaving climate research.