Known Unknowns in Climate Research

I know that we have been round and round on climate issues in our always edifying Bookworm Room discussions, so here is an interesting lecture that I found at our friends at Flopping Aces.

The lecturer, Prof. Courtillot, professor of geophysics at the University of Paris, does an excellent job summarizing both historical data and new understandings of how climate “works”. Note, first and foremost, his refreshing humility (and that of other true scientists) in how they approach new information and refuse to draw conclusions based on herd dynamics.

There is a lot of technical detail included that can be skipped over without losing the thrust of the presentation.

If nothing else, this presentation should help reinforce how much we don’t know about our planet, its climate and the sun.

This is how real science is done.

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  • David Foster

    A Southwest Airlines flight crew recently made the unpleasant discovery that Boeing’s estimate of the number of allowable pressurization cycles on the 737….about 60000….was apparently incorrect, when a lap joint failed and a 5-foot hole opened up.  The FAA has now issued an Airworthiness Directive requiring electromagnetic inspections of all 737s of particular vintages and sub-models after only 30000 hours.
    What does this have to do with climate research? Metal fatigue has been studied intensively for 100 years. Experimental techniques can be used as well as computational methods. Everyone involved in the intial cycle estimate–Boeing, the airlines, the FAA–had every incentive to get it right. But they were apparently off by 2:1.
    Long-term climate modeling is surely less-advanced that the analysis of metal fatigue, and experimental methods are much less applicable….Moreover, the incentives to come to predetermined conclusions, irrespective of their truth or falsity, are much stronger.

  • Danny Lemieux

    That’s an excellent comparison, David F.

  • Tom A.

    David Foster’s point is spot-on. Prof. Courtillot clearly understands the problem of predicting “global” temperatures on the basis of woefully inadequate information, for the purpose of “proving” a pre-conceived theory of its causes. Great presentation. Squares with everything I’ve read on the subject.

  • Charles Martel

    David Foster, spot on.

  • Ymarsakar

    The Obama voters know enough to know that their guy can raise and lower the sea levels, Danny. How else do we explain the tsunamis.