Saturday, June 10, 2006

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

Senator Gore: I would like to start with you, Dr. Hansen

In your statement you respond to our request for information on our scientific understanding of global climate models and our effort to determine which effects are pretty well understood and which effects are subject to change as we learn more about the models.

You respond by saying among other things, that as the models improve and more evidence becomes available, it is not very likely that scientists will change their conclusion that increases in greenhouse gases will intensity drought in the middle and low latitude land areas like the Midwest of the United States.

I am puzzled that you also say on that same point on page 4 of your statement that you want to stress that you do not really believe that and that as the computer models evolve, that conclusion will very likely evolve and should not be regarded as reliable.

I think I know the answer to the question I am about to ask you, but why do you directly contradict yourself in the testimony you are giving about this scientific question?

Dr. Hansen: Let me first rephrase exactly what we said in that regard because when I discussed this with my scientific colleagues the slight rephrasing makes a difference.

What I said was we believe it is very unlikely that this overall conclusion drought intensification at most middle and low latitude land areas if greenhouse gases increase rapidly, will be modified by improved models. Now, that is what I believe and it is what I wrote.

The last paragraph in that section which seems to be in contradiction to that was not a paragraph which I wrote. It was added to my testimony in the process of review by OMB, and I did object to the addition of that paragraph because in essence it says that I believe that all the scientific conclusions that I just discussed are not reliable, and I certainly do not agree with that.

Senator Gore: Now we are confronted with the most difficult environmental question humankind has ever faced and we are forced out of necessity to fashion policy on the basis of science that is incomplete and as we gain more information, we find more justification for toughening the actions.

I think we know enough already and a lot of other people believe that. But the Administration does not want to act. They want to sit still and do nothing, and as the evidence becomes clearer and clearer, they become more and more afraid of the scientists coming up here and telling us how much closer they are to certainty about what is going on. -
May 8, 1989, Subcommittee on Science, Technology and Space
There is lots more to come :). BTW, that's three links to follow in the title line.

Update: Coby Beck asks what OMB is in the comments. It is the Office of Management and Budget, through which the US president manages the US government.

1 comment:

coby said...

Good stuff, Eli. What is "OMB"?