Friday, March 28, 2014

On APS's Review of its Climate Change Stement

Recently several climate skeptic blogs reported on the American Physical Society decision to review its climate statement. Some excitement was caused by the fact that the panel of witnesses was fairly divided among alarmists, skeptics (John Christy, Richard Lindzen) and a lukewarmer (Judith Curry).
Only the workshop presenters could be said to be balanced between proponent and skeptics of AGW alarmism. Given how deeply entrenched in the USA science bureaucracy the members of the committee in charge of revising the climate statement are I don't think that there will be any substantial change to the current statement, perhaps some mealy mouthed phrase involving uncertainties will be added.
 Here is a very brief CV for the members of the actual committee (or better, the POPA's subcommittee):
Steven Koonin - former Undersecretary for Science at the U.S. Department of Energy in the first Obama administration, currently NYU
Phillip Coyle - former Associate Director for National Security and International Affairs (NSIA) in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy in the first Obama administration, currently Center for Arms Control & Non-Proliferation
R. Scott Kemp - assist. prof. Nuclear Sc. and Eng. MIT. BS in physics and PhD from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University
Tim Meyer - program officer, board on physics and astronomy, National Research Council, part of the national academies in Washington, DC
Robert Rosner - astrophysical plasma physics prof., U. of Chicago, former director of Argonne National Lab (2002-2009)
Susan Seestrom - exp. nuclear physics, Associate Laboratory Director for Experimental Physical Sciences at Los Alamos National Laboratory since 2006.

Thus I think that as far as skeptics are concerned this is a double-edged sword: while it is good that skeptic witnesses were heard on an equal footing with alarmists after the committee reaches its inevitable decision to essentially keep the same statement with some minor and meaningless changes, APS will be able to say that they heard the skeptics and incorporated their views to the extent that the committee thought it was justified.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Digital Age and Birding

The introduction of digital photographic cameras has unleashed a revolution in the documentation of wildlife, both fauna and flora. With the expansion of the Internet it is now possible to take a photo and in a matter of minutes post it online and, if one doesn't know what the subject is, ask for ID online and very often the answer will also come within minutes. Brazilians have taken to photographing the rich wildlife of their country in large numbers. The web site Wiki Aves ( ) now has thousands of contributors and photos of 1816 of the 1901 species of birds so far registered in Brazil. Also interesting was the creation of two Facebook groups "IdentificaĆ§Ć£o de aves" (Bird ID group, ) and the Para-Wikiaves group ( ), which is a fascinating group, dedicated to the online identification of animals and plants of all kinds except birds! The name is a homage to the very successful Wiki Aves. Photos for ID have ranged from plants to insects in spider webs to footprints. For an example check this photo, taken by Oscar Brizzio, of a Jararacussu, a spectacular and very poisonous fer-de-lance (pit vipers in the genus Bothrops) from South America ( , this one photographed in the Atlantic forest of Sao Paulo state in SE Brazil).