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Top climate change adviser calls for honesty from scientists in global warming debate
01-27-2010, 08:24 PM,
#1
Top climate change adviser calls for honesty from scientists in global warming debate
Quote:Scientists should be more honest and open about the uncertainty of predicting the rate of climate change, the Government's chief scientific adviser said.

In astonishing intervention into the climate change debate, Professor John Beddington condemned scientists who refuse to publish the data forming the basis of their reports said they should be less hostile to sceptics.

Professor Beddington was speaking in the wake of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) admission that it had made a mistake by claiming that Himalayan glaciers could melt away by 2035.

That followed the 'Climategate' row over whether researchers at East Anglia University manipulated evidence to support a theory of man-made global warming.

An investigation is now looking at leaked email exchanges to see if there is any evidence of manipulation or suppression of data which would call into question the research findings of the university's Climatic Research Unit.

The centre's director Professor Phil Jones has stood down from the post while the inquiry takes place.

‘I don’t think it’s healthy to dismiss proper scepticism. Science grows and improves in the light of criticism,’ Professor Beddington said.

'There is a fundamental uncertainty about climate change prediction that can’t be changed.’

He said that the false claim in the IPCC’s 2007 report revealed a wider problem with the way that some evidence was presented.

‘Certain unqualified statements have been unfortunate. We have a problem in communicating uncertainty,’ he told The Times.

‘There’s definitely an issue there. If there wasn’t, there wouldn’t be the level of scepticism. All of these predictions have to be caveated by saying, “There’s a level of uncertainty about that”.’

Professor Beddington also said that large-scale climate modelling using computers resulted in ‘quite substantial uncertainties’ that should be communicated.

He said: ‘It’s unchallengeable that CO2 traps heat and warms the Earth and that burning fossil fuels shoves billions of tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere. But where you can get challenges is on the speed of change.

‘When you get into large-scale climate modelling there are quite substantial uncertainties. On the rate of change and the local effects, there are uncertainties both in terms of empirical evidence and the climate models themselves.’

Urging scientists to release their data to their critics, he said: ‘I think, wherever possible, we should try to ensure there is openness and that source material is available for the whole scientific community.

‘There is a danger that people can manipulate the data, but the benefits from being open far outweigh that danger.’

Professor Beddington insisted that uncertainty about some aspects of climate science should not be used as an excuse for inaction: ‘Some people ask why we should act when scientists say they are only 90 per cent certain about the problem.

‘But would you get on a plane that had a 10 per cent chance of crashing?’

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1246404/Top-climate-change-adviser-John-Beddington-calls-honesty-scientists-global-warming-debate.html
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