Friday, October 28, 2011

Sherwood's Forest

This Letter missed the cut at The Oz, in reply to an Op Ed piece by Steven Sherwood

Dear Editor,
That Steven Sherwood is unable to condense 50 years of investigation, paid for by billions of dollars of public research money (that may have been better spent elsewhere), into a succinct argument in favour of catastrophic man made warming is one of the clearest admissions of failure I have seen to date from a working climate scientist (Why experts refuse to debate climate science 28/10). Surprisingly Sherwood wants to debate the science in a court room, but he should know that debate in science is not like debate in the legal system as unlike a barrister, a scientist with integrity would give all the information, not just the information that leads to a judgment in one direction or another. A scientist with integrity does not pick cherries!

In the face of such inherent uncertainty, and apparent deep confusion about the manner in which science should be debated, the policy response favoured by the current government and the case for urgent, dramatic action being promulgated by activist scientists, politicians and our under qualified climate commissioners, is looking decidedly premature and lacking in solid foundation. In the long run I have faith that the scientific method, in the absence of political interference, will provide a definitive answer that will provide scientists convincing evidence about the future behaviour of the climate system, on which sound public policy might be developed and enacted. However until then, rather than risk a misdiagnosis and subsequent improper treatment of the problem, a prudent response is required that does not kill the patient. Such a response might involve taking measures to mitigate against current known weather extremes, and enacting policy to remove nonsensical political barriers to competing base load electricity generation such as thorium based nuclear reactors.