tisdag 2 november 2010

Can You Sue a Scientific Society for Incorrect Science?

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences states in The Scientific Basis for Climate Change:
  • While the effect of greenhouse gases is well established, the effect of aerosols (mainly providing a compensating cooling) is much less understood. 
  • In view of the potential long-term negative effects of increasing atmospheric CO2 and other greenhouse gases on climate and ocean chemistry (for example, acidification), development of mitigation technologies should be given priority. These should seek ways of reducing CO2 emission and the other components of anthropogenic forcing (including CH4, N2O, tropospheric ozone and black carbon aerosols) as well as focusing on CO2 sequestration, involving both the biosphere and the geosphere. 
When I ask the Academy about the scientific basis of this "well established greenhouse gas effect", the Academy refers to work by Fourier, Tyndall and Arrhenius. In previous posts I have shown that this work cannot be viewed to give a scientific justification of  the claim made of a "well established greenhouse gas effect".  It is very unclear what in fact is the "greenhouse effect" and to claim that it is "well established" lacks scientific evidence. And in science evidence is needed.

What is now the responsibility of the Academy  for its statement, including its message to society to reduce CO2 emissions with possibly far-reaching consequences for people?  

Is the Academy free to make incorrect scientific statements? Or can the Academy be sued for
incorrect science?  If you think of it for a while, it is likely that you will tend to answer Yes.

Another example is the recent statement by The Geological Society:
  • The Greenhouse Effect arises because certain gases (the so-called greenhouse gases) in the atmosphere absorb the long wavelength infrared radiation emitted by the Earth’s surface and re-radiate it, so warming the atmosphere. This natural effect keeps our atmosphere some 30ºC warmer than it would be without those gases. Increasing the concentration of such gases will increase the effect (i.e. warm the atmosphere more).
The Society evidently takes the existence of a "Greenhouse Effect" for granted (it is even "natural"), but again the science is missing. Can the Society be sued for making incorrect scientific claims? Well, if an Academy can, then the same should hold for a Society.

Timely, The Geological Society brings  together scientists from around the world in London this week to study how the world coped with climate change in the past, with the warning: The Earth will take 100,000 years to recover from global warming.

Here skeptics are to be sued. And yes, the same rules should hold for all, alarmists as well as skeptics, and the only thing that should matter is science and scientific evidence.

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