Thursday, March 6, 2008

3-6-08: Climate Change Lecture

Yesterday I went to a lecture at the University of Hartford given by a fascinating English gentleman named Lord Christopher Monckton. The subject: climate change. My girlfriend’s father, a great guy (I’m extremely lucky to have great parents AND be dating a girl with great parents), found out about the lecture and asked if I wanted to attend. I am very happy that I went.

For about 90 minutes, Lord Monckton gave a stirring presentation on various issues surrounding the man-made global warming debate. He started off by saying “I am not a scientist. I am a policy maker.” He’s no slouch, either. He advised Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. He’s been spending a significant amount of time studying the debate itself, and the massive amount of math and science that goes into it.

My favorite part of the presentation was how he explained what he was not arguing. He wasn’t arguing against global warming. He wasn’t arguing against humans producing carbon dioxide. He was simply arguing against the studies performed by the IPCC and how so many people are following simply bad science.

The amount of data he presented was astounding. He picked apart several arguments made by the “Greenies” as he called them, mostly how they relied too heavily on computer models and did not peer review enough. As an engineer who peer reviews and deals with (relatively) simple computer models, I know that it is not important to fact check and get it right, but it’s even more important that you don’t rely on computer models for long-term prediction. Failures occur all the time in simple systems. Look at how difficult it is to predict the weather today! It’s been determined by many meteorologists and statisticians that you really can’t stay accurate for more than 2 weeks in predicting the weather.

What was also amazing was the “mathy” stuff. This guy really did his homework and put in the effort. He took what the IPCC did, which is relied upon quite heavily by many policy makers, and picked apart the math and came up with some new figures. He went a bit fast, but there were time constraints. What’s funny is that it took him months to even determine how the IPCC calculated their value. They simply were not very transparent in their methodology. He kept reminding us of how he was worried that too much “politicizing” had gone in to the alarmist mentality.

Monckton didn’t come up with a set theory of what was happening, but he had his ideas. He had read a tremendous amount of literature, and was also insisting that we wait for the peer review process to be done on some of the papers. Monckton proposed that the sun spot cycle might have a bit to do with it, and that more attention should be paid to the oceans. He insisted that carbon dioxide does not nearly have the effect as a greenhouse gas that people are claiming.

The even more impressive part of the program was the Q&A afterward. I stayed for about 20 minutes of it, and Monckton was great. He answered a couple questions on how the economy would be affected, and responded very eloquently by saying that the carbon trading program was a farce and has failed in Europe already, and that by reducing our outputs now would be devastating to developing nations. He also said that the reliance on fossil fuels was a very serious problem, but reminded the audience that it was a separate issue from the climate change debate.

It’s too bad this guy has been basically shut out by the media. No one from the local paper came. I guess they’d rather print a story on some traffic accident or some drug bust in Hartford. People can only really pay attention to one side of a debate, anyway.

God speed, Lord Monckton.

No comments: