The Abdication of Oversight?

RP (Jr) has an interesting post The Abdication of Oversight. He begins by noting that Barton got his fingers burnt for his nonsense of last year (I paraphrase...) and this was one reason why Barton has wimped out of a follow up.

But he continues:

Providing ample evidence that the politicization of science by politicians is a bipartisan pastime, Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) and 150 fellow Democrats have introduced a rarely used "resolution of inquiry" to explore whether the Bush Administration has been hiding evidence that the current hurricane season has been caused by global warming. Kucinich said in press release last week:

"The American public deserve to know what the President knew about the effects climate change would have, and will continue to have, on our coasts. This Administration, and Congress, can no longer afford to overlook the overwhelming evidence of the devastating effect of global climate change. It is essential for our preparedness that we understand global climate change and take serious and immediate actions to slow its effects."

And challenges us all to condemn this as nonsense.

So... while I disagree with RP over some of the nuances of the hurricane issue (see Hurricanes and Global Warming - Is There a Connection? for my/RC's views) I would be happy to say that looking for a global warming signal in hurricanes is definitely the wrong place to start. Hurricanes are a noisy signal, hurricane damage is even worse: the least noisy signal is the temperature signal, and that the obvious place to look. Because of the particular track that Katrina took (and probably because levee money had been siphoned off to pay for a stupid war, but thats another matter...) it did an inordinate amount of damage. With a slightly different track (and there is no way to predict the exact track from GW) we would have a somewhat over-active season but no particularly exciting events.

The motion (as described above) is on completely the wrong track (ho ho) and looks like band-waggon jumping after an "exciting" event: from a climate science point of view what their motion should be about is something different. The real Bush failure is to acknowledge the considerable degree of certainty of the attribution of recent, well observed, climate change to anthropogenic factors. Bush/Republicans/Skeptics/Whoever need to start by acknowledging the existing warming as real (Bush has done this, but quietly and weakly) and stop quibbling about it; admit that the current best science attributes most of the warming to us and stop overplaying the uncertainty; and then have a proper policy-relevant type debate about what to do; in the meantime the scientist types can go back to quietly refining estimates of attribution an future warming.

Oh, and on a completely different topic: I liked this from CIP and point you to JA's latest failure to get the skeptics (Bill Gray) to ante up.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yes, oversight has become a non-item in my situation; a software implementation meant for robots is unleashed (beta version) on an unsuspecting hospital staff. Bug reports are being directed to unqualified flunkies for screening before the programmers are notified, if ever.

Climate change musings: these guys studied from the same text books, passed the same exams and have divergent views. Have any professors commented on this?