You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Climatology Humanitized’ category.

a few page views from Avaaz site (no clicking option, sorry):

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

THE PETITION — eloquently, entry from Lost-Polar-Bear Image page

Note that climate scientist Mike Hulme‘s book is a view from the University of East Anglia. Chronologically preceding the CRU (apologies for quoting the monikin) “climategate”, just before the Copenhagen Summit in December of that year, 2009.



Why We Disagree About Climate Change:

Understanding Controversy, Inaction and Opportunity

Publisher’s description:

Climate change is not ‘a problem’ waiting for ‘a solution’. It is an environmental, cultural and political phenomenon which is re-shaping the way we think about ourselves, our societies and humanity’s place on Earth. Drawing upon twenty-five years of professional work as an international climate change scientist and public commentator, Mike Hulme provides a unique insider’s account of the emergence of this phenomenon and the diverse ways in which it is understood. He uses different standpoints from science, economics, faith, psychology, communication, sociology, politics and development to explain why we disagree about climate change. In this way he shows that climate change, far from being simply an ‘issue’ or a ‘threat’, can act as a catalyst to revise our perception of our place in the world. Why We Disagree About Climate Change is an important contribution to the ongoing debate over climate change and its likely impact on our lives.

10 pages excerpted from Chapter 1 (grace a U of Cambridge Press “look inside”)

The Social Meanings of Climate Change


CC sociology articles by him:

Cosmopolitan Climates: hybridity, foresight and meaning

(2008)

Disciplines, geography and gender in the framing of climate change

(2010, collaboration between 2 U East Anglia and 2 U of Melbourne scientists)

Climate Change: what do we know about the IPCC?

(2010, with Martin Mahony)
 


 
AND another UCP book, edited by Bjørn Lomborg, Copenhagen Business School

Smart Solutions to Climate Change:

Comparing Costs and Benefits

Publisher’s description:

The failure of the Copenhagen climate conference in December 2009 revealed major flaws in the way the world’s policy makers have attempted to prevent dangerous levels of increases in global temperatures. The expert authors in this specially commissioned collection focus on the likely costs and benefits of a very wide range of policy options, including geo-engineering, mitigation of CO2, methane and ‘black carbon’, expanding forest, research and development of low-carbon energy and encouraging green technology transfer. For each policy, authors outline all of the costs, benefits and likely outcomes, in fully referenced, clearly presented chapters accompanied by shorter, critical alternative perspectives. To further stimulate debate, a panel of economists, including three Nobel laureates, evaluate and rank the attractiveness of the policies. This authoritative and thought-provoking book will challenge readers to form their own conclusions about the best ways to respond to global warming.

From Clean Air Alliance’s email list:

    Aug. 13 – 15, at Hart House, U of T. Three days of climate science and solutions — no sugar coating. With Bill McKibben, Andrew Weaver, Elizabeth May and more. Presented by U of T Greens and Toronto-Danforth Federal Green Party. It is a non-partisan event open to everyone. For more info and to register: http://ccc-2010.ca/

Re several among the 35 presenters announced:

The three keynote speakers mentioned above have been featured on ES’s “Researched CC-related Material” list, Print and Public Debates sections. They are people with a long track record in the CC discourse – Elizabeth May is the leader of the Canadian Greeen Party, lawyer by training. Andrew Weaver holds the Canada Research Chair in Climate Modeling and Analysis in the School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, University of Victoria, where he is a professor, and was also lead author in the IPCC-4 Report, Working Group I (scientists). Bill McKibben is likely the first author of a CC-related book targeting a larger audience – The End of Nature, 1990.

Another presenter featured on the ES blog is Jim Prall, who works for U of T’s Electrical & Computer Engineering department. He is the author of a database on climate scientists (see Websites section on the list above)

The youngest presenters–who caught my attention–have certainly earned a min of your time:

Gracen Johnson, an undergraduate student at the University of Guelph, Ontario, is majoring in International Development with an emphasis on the biophysical environmental, economics, and agriculture, and has extensive experience in social and environmental advocacy and event planning.

Corina Serda started to learn about the global impacts of climate change at age 10 and is currently in the top 10 presenters trained by Al Gore. (note to self: research this public edu venue, esp. as conducted for/by Canadians). Implementing the rhetorics of her training, I’d imagine, a quote from her profile: “If each of [the 25,000 people she is reported to have reached were to]  implement only 1 of her suggestions and inspire 2 others to do the same, more than 75,000 green acts would have been achieved across Ontario”.

Kimia Ghomeshi has built quite a record of activism, starting in high school, subsequently continuing with international participation, including Bolivia, COP15 in Copenhagen… Please see for yourselves! She’s currently based in Toronto.

Andrew Knox is a PhD candidate in the University of Toronto’s Chemical Environmental Engineering program, focusing on domestic energy efficiency and renewable energy in the building sector. He is a member of Transition Canada and a founding member of Transition Toronto, and is working with other cities to adapt the Transition model to the megacity scale, with which he is also familiar from the UK.

A photo and a name for Dan Dolderman,… but we needn’t stop here, as far as Young Spirit is concerned, right? 🙂

Mini-edits, add-ons re Grad Ss’ epistemic agency (2&3): July 10-11, 2010


The promised follow-up on the post re Dr Walter Robinson’s talk at UT on July 8, 2010. 

1. Research questions applied to web discourses of North Carolina State University’s MEAS Department revolve around:
== Interdisciplinarity and collaboration
== Epistemic exchanges between MEAS and
==== future generations of climatologists/MEA scientists
==== general public (including non-MEA-ists) and policy makers
== Climate modelling
== Varia

Private Ecosonic joke, if you don’t mind:
MEA, apart from Marine-Earth-Atmospheric (Sci) also acronymizes Media Ecology Association. I’d say, what an apt parallel in view of the increasing importance of more robust eco-consonant communication&interaction between Earth Systems Science and society at large!

2. Multi-Interdisciplinarity and Collaboration. Import of Technoscience?
As is traditional for the agglomeration of the natural sciences that constitute the epistemology of “climate sci”, the notions of “multi-/interdisciplinarity” and “collaboration”, including the literal terms, pop up on just about every page linked to the Department of Marine, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences’ online hub of Research Centres and Groups:
http://www.meas.ncsu.edu/04-center-groups.html

Once again, though, whatever technologies are being developed seem to be the prerogative of marine-earth-atmospheric scientists themselves, not so much of (trained) technoscientists, such as software engineers in the case of climate models – which was also the case with GFDL at Prinston (see post “Notes on Dr Balaji’s Talk…”). For example, Lise Watson, a tech-savvy grad S, received a #1 conference award for conducting a study which “relied on numerical models as well as field experiments in a quarry and the Gulf, employing the robot “Plankton Mimics” she helped develop in the Wolcott lab”.

Not much evidence of technoscientists at the North Carolina State University Center for Marine Sciences and Technology (CMAST, italics mine) either, which would seem to indicate that unless technological needs are sufficiently small-scale to be internally satisfied, the technologies employed are researched/produced elsewhere. “Outsourcing” can be taking place either because this kind of specialization has an established/longer tradition (not seen as “outsourcing”, but as an industry in its own right), and/or because technology development is not as codependent with the science it is serving as is the case – some would argue – with climate models. In view of the longer history of, e.g., marine explorations, I’d hypothesize predominantly the former.

2.1 Hybridity: Among MEASs vs (Any) MEAS(s) and Technoscience
Should I look for arguments in favour of disciplinary hybridity (as I previously did for climate modelling and software engineering, on a principled basis), the almost exclusive use of multi-disciplinarity in the online discourses reviewed (over inter-disciplinarity), would call for a more detailed analysis of epistemic dependencies. Bearing in mind that “Earth Systems Science(s)” is the already (close to fully) established umbrella term for MEASs, the genealogical relation seems to have been granted taxonomic recognition.

As far as the natural sciences involved, in view of how closely related the objects of MEA study are, and the human agency (indivitual and collective) operative in the university context, the epistemological sovereignty of multi-disciplinarity, with the occasional interfacing brush would seem in fact to be the optimal research mode. The need for inter-disciplinarity (epistemological remixing) beyond the profiles of current faculty, projects, and research units being minimal, and the anticipation of a trans-disciplinary (and hybridity proper) stage being yet uncalled for – on its interpretation of requiring individuals’ a jack-of-all-MEA-trades committment.

As for the natural science – support technoscience hybridity, one need not exclude (and may have to embrace) the possibility that should, e.g., the independently developed heuristics of software engineering be
1) imported (given the requisite Time-Funding-MOTIVATION amalgam), and
2) looked at as having research worth commensurate with the core MEASs themselves,
the combined epistemological productivity may happen to exhibit exponential growth.

3. Educating Future Earth Systems Scientists for Requisite Epistemic Agency & Disciplinary Diversity?
Around 35 graduate and undergraduate students are listed as recipients of (prestigious) awards – research funding (from NSF, NASA, Fulbright), thesis and best conference paper awards, travel grants, including to China, New Zealand, conference trips, memberships, internships at prestigious institutions like NASA’s Goddard Institute, NCAR, Dept. of Defense.

In the absence of official announcements of RA and TA assignments through individual faculty grants, the extent of professor-(especially graduate) student epistemic exchanges by way of projects and ensuing conference presentations and publications cannot be given their due recognition. A single mention of a student-professor paper on the Awards page is far from a realistic reflection of co-authored research, that one would expect must be going on at a Dept. such as MEAS.

No links to student pages/blogs, or graduate student journals/newsletters, discussion groups, which deprives this overview of the student perspective. Or how they – doctoral students in particular – are being prepared to take up competitive faculty positions.

It was gratifying to come across an opportunity for undergraduate students to gain “early experience in climate modeling and international research collaboration” in the US and Eastern Africa, formalized as distance credit courses. Is this an option for graduate credit as well, or can one only count on receiving a scholarship (cf. Student Awards page) to get international experience?

Graduate student epistemic agency is explicitly mentioned at the CMAST. More specifically, through the “EES Village” (Energy, Environment and Sustainability Living and Learning Village), which represents implementation of alternative energies on campus, and through the Teaching Aquarium (ibid.), set up to “help… educate the public on the key role of estuarine nursery areas”.

Since award-winning students are announced on the list with their supervisors, a logical question – which certainly extends beyond the context of NCSU – queries what opportunities there may be for collaboration among students, which would seem to be premised, at least in part, on collaboration among professors. Further along these lines, Is the focus of a student’s research supposed to copy a subset of the epistemics of one’s thesis supervisor, and also to steer clear of collaborations – and knowledge – that is not directly streamlinable as thesis material? Or can one have co-supervision for MEA research, that is, does one start to develop holistically as a (grad) student, or do they wait until they get a job?

The answer – like in SO MANY other places across the humanities-soc. sciences-sciences spectrum – most likely refers to case-per-case variability, though a principled & structured approach may very well contribute to a Dept’s heightened profile.

4.1 Commendable Outreach Work for K12 Hands-on Sci Education
Both the CMAST and the North Carolina Climate Office (part of the University) have outreach experience, incorporating in their work the science education of middle/high school students.

CMAST offers the Summer Fellows Program, aimed at Carteret County high school students, through which students also accumulate credit for university scholarships.

Each year, students from Centennial Campus Middle School participate in a State Climate Office internship program, designed to introduce them to “the scientific process, as well as to the different aspects of North Carolina’s climate through data analysis and research.” More…

4.2 Inreach and Outreach
The Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI) Weather Web program makes weather observation information accessible to
== RENCI disaster response researchers, state climatologists, emergency responders
== agricultural managers and citizens
== teachers and K12 students
 More…

5. Policy Making
IPCC is a frequent reference point, and the standard to measure up to.

A very good development worth noting is that an increasing number of mission statements of research units, general/”philosophical” research goals, state funded programs seem to be reflecting how crucial it is to communicate adequately the science beyond its disciplinary locality. The opening sentences of CMAST’s About Us page read:

The principal mission of the Center for Marine Sciences and Technology (CMAST) is to discover innovative solutions to questions and problems in marine systems and provide effective communication of these discoveries… By …  enhancing interaction with other educational institutions and agencies concerned with marine sciences and coastal natural resources, CMAST provides a focal point for citizen contact with NC State University’s marine science and extension faculty. (emphasis mine)

It is thus clear that the development of communication skills has risen considerably on the priority scale of university MEAS education, and I would like to think, of faculty’s own profile upgrades. The science – public epistemic gap is not the unspeakable Elephant.In.The.Room, and the concerted communicative effort that is being invested in handling it (anthropogenic climate change AND the rest of the infringement package), may well be poised to put a bridle on it.

6.1 Climate Models I. The Drive toward Economy and Green
Coming from the Climate Modelling Lab, what caught my attention was the development of a numerical algorithm for atmospheric dynamical cores with low memory requirements, thus lower energy consumption, for a “greener” climate simulation – beautiful eco-consonant parallel on more levels than one! If my eval of what the website presents is correct (see bolded phrases), said algorithm is characterized by:
== processing economy thanks to “minimal communication requirements in parallel”; high-order accurate convergence “without needing explicit filtering for stability”
== aptitude for long-term predictions in view of “stability at large time steps” (CFL > 1)
== good scalability/re-calibration capabilities through “flexibility to handle global and local dynamical scales”.
More…

6.2 Climate Models II. The Best Are not Good Enough
From the empirical side of the North Carolina State Climate Office, according to the State Climatologist [name TBD]

…while there is substantial climate awareness, there is little climate education. And the best scientific models we have are not useful for NC, which leads to increased uncertainty for our clients and partners. Moreover, we often see climate model simulations improperly used without calibration or even an evaluation of their accuracy. Research to calibrate the global climate models to NC and downscale their forecasts is very much needed to provide more confident guidance on the possible impacts to NC. In addition, resources for climate education and climate applications are required to meet the needs of statewide and local agencies and businesses. More…

7. Faculty/Student Demographics and Gender Equity
6 of 37 faculty are women. 1/6
9 of 35 awarded students are women. 1/4
31 (+ up to 6 Chinese names) of 90 graduate students are female. 1/3

Is the female/male ratio moving toward a more equitable 1? One would have to look at undergrad student enrollment numbers as well, to determine whether there is an actual change overtime. Equity criteria in addition to Gender cannot be reliably assessed, if at all, based on the publicly accessible www evidence reviewed.


Mini-edits and additions re Grad Ss’ epistemic agency: July 10-11, 2010

the announced follow-up overview of NCSU’s MEAS Dept.

July 21 update: Dr Robinson’s pres courtesy copy


At the invitation of UT’s Department of Physics, Atmospheric Physics Research Group, Dr Walter Robinson, Professor at the Department of Marine, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, North Carolina State University, presented a talk entitled “It’s All Connected: Model Biases, Gravity Waves, and the Dynamics of General Circulation”.

Dr Paul Kushner, formerly of GFDL, Prinston University, currently professor of Physics, UT, acted as host of the talk.

CONGRATULATIONS to him and his student, Lei Wang, for the successful thesis defence, which preceded the lecture!!!

After the talk, Lei Wang, theoretical physics no-longer-GS (!), and Yonggang Liu, paleo-physics GS, kindly provided useful pointers where to look for what I’m interested in – climate modelling heuristics, climate science for policy making, science~general public epistemic exchanges. We shared the observation that due to the tug-and-pull of specialization and genericity, it is not at all easy for a student (obviously, for a well established prof, too!!!) to go in sufficient depth for their research to “count”, while also obtaining at least a bird’s eye view of “hot topics” on the broader terrain of science. E.g., not all theoretical physicists would have more than an inkling of climate modelling, which is also a legit topic in theo phys. Neither would paleo physicists necessarily be ardent climate model developers, “training” a model to put out data that match the available record, however partial.

In anticipation of a courtesy copy of the PPt for the talk, I’m pasting the abstract below. [July 8 add-on: A few precious slides toward the end of the presentation, which deal with issues Dr Robinson officially labelled “general”, and during the pres referred to as “philosophical”, would be really good to link to! Right up ES’s alley, as already explored in a short series of posts commencing with <a href=”“Notes on Dr Balaji’s Talk…” .]

Abstract:

As global models evolve from climate models into Earth-system models, it is generally assumed that the basic dynamics of Earth’s fluids are simulated well. There remain, however, persistent biases in how models represent the dynamics of Earth’s atmosphere, even on the largest and putatively well-resolved scales. Thus, the development of better Earth-system models requires continued attention to how they represent the basic dynamics of the atmosphere and the ocean, at the same time that novel new processes are introduced. The best possible treatment of a biogeochemical process will likely fail if driven by erroneous dynamics.
No process in an Earth-system model is less glamorous than the extratropical zonal winds and their maintenance, yet significant model biases in zonal winds remain. These can be traced to uncertainties in gravity-wave drag, a which is poorly observed and understood but which plays a crucial role in the momentum budget of the atmosphere. Model zonal winds are sensitive to small errors in gravity-wave drag, for reasons that have only recently been understood and that will be elucidated in this seminar.
Failing to offer an immediate solution to this problem, a less hubristic approach to Earth-system modeling than that currently in vogue will be advocated.


I brought to the lecture my usual research questions:

  • Jim Hansen’s point about the impossibility for climate models to capture climate sensitivity, since there may (in his book, will) always be feedbacks we do not know about (The Storms of My Grandchildren, 2009; for the precise quote(s), see ES post Notes on Dr Balaji’s Talk, section Re the Computational Complexity of Models).
  • Uncertainty of climate forecasting (NB! which is NOT weather forecasting) as a routine factor in “doing climate science”
  • The importance of the ability of scientists to convey to the general public and policy makers that “uncertainty” IS NOT “unreliability” of science! To quote Dr Robinson, “We should be honest about uncertainty… It is a uniquely challenging problem that society is expecting us to do [me: in view of the implications for policy decisions invloving astronomical investments]”. I’d add, key players on the national and international politics scene to this day justify, e.g., not including climate change on the agendas of the June 2010 G8 and G20 meetings with scientists themselves not being “sure” Cf. post-G20 CBC interviews with former cabinet ministers of Canada!
  • The importance of educating non-climatologists [including scientists!] how to determine if they are being served “good” science, or politics-driven talking points (cf. James Hoggan’s exemplary investigative journalism account on the subject)
  • The ES audience can also expect some more text on the interdisicplinarity & collaboration profile of NCSU’s Department of Marine, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, including their Climate Modelling Lab. Same as what I did for Prinston’s GFDL. (See post a-whole-prof-all-to-yourself-enviro-edu-prinstonu)

    • post start: April 2010 – keeping the few lines, for the affective record
    • continuing: June 22-24, 2010

    April Title: Hanging On to CBC Radio’s Every unWord – The Dec’09 Copenhagen [***]

    You fill in the blank, if you are so inclined, just please resist the temptation, despite Oscar Wilde’s all-too-true adage, to be completely sincere in the Comment section – after all, we’ve all had, what, a full semester (?) – to “cool it”. Courtesy appreciated. Fully. L:)


    Narrative
    Just the other day, browsing book displays downtown (specifically, sales), I spotted Wilkie Collins’s The Moonstone. Must have been in junior high when I first read it. Just as I had pretty much convinced myself NOT to buy it and add to tons of paper I already suffer tremendously over not being able to get rid of, the “Preface to the New Edition” popped at me. What did I see? – the author had been quite ill while finishing the book, and as a matter of fact, his responsibility to his loyal readers had kept him going AND pretty much breathing. That didn’t give me much of a choice, did it?

    Back to Dec 2009 – COP15 in Europe, myself prone in bed for most of the month, crawling-hobbling between radio and desktop PC. Since I am off TV and video, access to more traditional media boiled down to CBC Radio 1 (yuk!, some might say – go ahead, I can take it 🙂 ). To make things even more pen-worthy, the bedridden-hood’s onslaught occured against the backdrop of a trying 2-3 months on the local academic scene, what with restructuring and the like…, which you’ll be spared.

    And since like many others who subscribe to the belief that it’s not so much what is happening to you as what you are happening to it that counts, I focussed on turning my captive audience status into a venue for research.

    The outcome was the paper I gave at a friendly conference in Ottawa in March 2010, currently in prep for publication.

    Recruiting Mr Collins’s eloquence,

    …I had my duty to the public still to bear in mind… I held on to the story – for my own sake as well as for [the readers’]… The art which had always been the pride and the pleasure of my life, became now more than ever ‘its own exceeding great reward’.
    => Read: art = research | public, readers – leave as is

    Paper
    To help you get the gist, the talk title is “CBC Radio’s “Mash-down” of Glocal Spaces at the Copenhagen’09 UN Summit: Discourse Fragmentation and Epistemological Gapping”. The references are part Climate Bib and part General Bib on the ES site.

    The handout to your attn, mhtml file, at 61KB – for now. Works 4me in IE.

     


    Presentation:

    • CBC Radio’s “Mash-down” of Glocal Spaces at the Copenhagen’09 UN Summit: Discourse Fragmentation and Epistemological Gapping. Paper read at the 5th Annual Carleton Conference “Global Mash-ups: Re-envisioning Space in Communication Studies”, March 4 & 5, 2010, Ottawa, Canada.

    So, Why “push for” Climate Science – Software Engineering hybridization so adamantly?!

    I see it as eco-consonant in at least 2 respects: the subject of research interest, the planet’s climate (perhaps its immune system indicator?), and a widening of inter-transdisciplinary setting, which already exists among the climate natural sciences. Added to the “natural” is/would be the abiotic, and moreover, artefactual – the modelling technology.

    From then on, I am simply eye-balling the highest probability of increasing the speed at which an ecosonic consciousness shift may occur. [note 1] The contingent hybridization above is only one of many that can benefit adaptation-mitigation-INNOVATION (my emphatic addition to IPCC’s 2 directions of policy making and action). The more sectors “get serious about it”, the faster the changes in the social imaginary (read: public “mind”; unless… note 2) and in a variety of societal structures: economy, education, law, media, politics, science and technology…

    As a private case, the more research fields adopt an eco-consonant approach, the sooner and easier the change will take place. For example,

    • prioritize climate as an area of study
    • engage in inter-disciplinary explorations
    • encourage innovation
    • communicate with the public directly, not only through the media or gov’t

    Importantly, it is crucial to coordinate well with all sectors/actors with which CliSci interfaces, for example,

    • governance & law – inter-trans-national
    • sponsors – all levels of gov’t and private
    • media – as public educators
    • education – for knowledge | of purveyors of CliSci

    Looking back to just 2 public debates held locally shows that we are experts at modularizing and dichotomizing. In the December Munk Debate, two pairs of debaters were pitted against each other to “resolve” whether “cilmate change is humanity’s defining crisis and requires a commensurate action”. In the University of Toronto’s Ethics of Responsibility and Climate Change public debate, a group of debaters, mostly academics were gathered to debate what kind of issue CC is – ethical-moral, technological-scientific, political…

    I’d go for a “collage” of all of the above – which would be the COMMENSURATE RESPONSE to a GLOCAL ISSUE of the scale of global warming – AND all other PREVENTABLE maladies inflicted upon ourselves and what surrounds us, through pollution and junk food, through merciless/mindless exploitation of natural and human resources, through developing a kind of scary arrogance (specifically in Western society, per numerous feminist and poscolonialist scholars) of human knowledge that leads to a delusional conquest of Nature rather than respectful learning and tuning into it, AND each other/ourselves.

    As you can see, eco-consonance on all levels may be the panaceic concept. Admittedly, it draws on and rings in agreement with so many ancient and more recent, religious-spiritual and secular epistemologies-axiologies, and so many more with which this author is not/may never be familiar.


    NOTE 1. To point out a distinction of denotational scope, compared to the (by now) cliched term “green”, per this thought-log’s terminology, “ecosonic” has the widest scope imaginable, including biotic – abiotic eco consonance and dissonance.

    NOTE 2… unless you want to read the originator of the concept/theory Cornelius Castoriadis (since the 1950s in the journal Socialisme et barbarie), or a contemporary Charles Taylor:
    Castoriadis, Cornelius. The Imaginary Institution of Society. MIT University Press, 1987.
    Taylor, Charles. Modern Social Imaginaries. Duke University Press, 2004.

    Further to my pet theorization about hybridizing climate sci and SE, let us pick up the unaddressed “catch” from the …New Branch of Software Engineering post.

    The catch is the epistemics-power entanglement, that Michel Foucault famously made so prominent through his work (see note 1 below) – what else? It is a reliable predictor of which way things go, on variable scales of temporality, geography, sociality. Since the cherished hybridity is (to use a Lorraine Code turn of phrase) NOT UNavoidable, it may be also be the best way to model social “climates” (not neglecting the “weather”!), as support for building a strategy and its tributary tactics. (note 2 for sci fi souls)

    Picture said entanglement as an elaborate vise. To the extent that one can read the imprint that it unavoidably leaves on any axiology it may have between its “jaws”, and to extent that values are the main engine driving our decisions and actions, one would be able to compute the probabilities of the hypothesized hybridity.

    Assuming that the proposed hybridity among the sciences which currently make up the epistemology of climate science, on the one hand, and that of software engineering, on the other, is a move in the right direction for the sake of enhancing climate modelling technology, then current knowledge says, Go for it! #1 on the 2Do list, then, would be to scope out the higher levels of academic-societal hierarchy, and the people embodying them, who could and would bend power the Yes way.

    As to implementation, it might take time and effort (ok, $$$, too) to figure out how to go about it as far as already accomplished scientists are concerned, and even more – on all three counts – to determine the best ways to educate future scientists who are more fluent in both modelling and climate “tackling”. It is also true that however good models may become, at least from today’s perspective, ongoing observations and paleoclimate studies would still play a major role, to the point of providing the key scientific support for some decision making. (see Jim Hansen’s comparative weighting in section Re computation complexity of models) It may be twice as true as both of the above assertions put together that the motivation for innovation would be coming from younger academics, with less if any influence, and caution, even opposition, may come from those more deeply embedded in the power structures and better positioned to weigh in on the No side for all the above “common sense reasons” (this is not written t.in.ch).

    Would it be up to the “threat of GW” to make up our mind for us? Let’s think of the tobacco analogy that plays a superb rhetorical role in James Hoggan and Richard Littlemore’s 2009 book, apart from being historically justified from what they present. How many smokers do you know who have tried to give it up and failed, even when diagnosed for cancer (2 in my book), how many who never even tried because they “can’t” (3+ in my book)?

    So let’s set that part aside as an ADDICTION-to-habit. Even if it may be difficult to get a logical argument across to, meaning a change in the behaviour of “addicts”, the Yes-side can benefit from as long a list of motivators as possible.

    My 2 p’s worth of input – a “Sport”/Sport pun below. [tagging it “serious joking”]

    I’d do it for the Sport! And I’d assign the label “In-tact Sport” (cf. note 3, if you would), to counter Steve Schneider‘s very apt monikin [Science as a] “Contact Sport“. Engaging the positive connotations of the former, it represents eco-consonance, and according to the already familiar negative signification of the latter, it implies eco-dissonance.

    Coming to the gym?

    What am I saying! – urban addictions die hard. How about hiking-skiing-power walking, if you like:) The sky’s the limit to hands-on climating. Not “weathering”! You have to climate over a sufficiently long period of time to earn the label for your research. But it might help you learn to pack a mean modelling punch, too.

    Mens sana in corpore sano. (go check note 4)



    NOTE 1. To make sure we’re on the same page, Foucault is known to have studied prisons and schools as the mechanisms through which the state metes out “disciplinary power” (Surveiller et punir: Naissance de la prison (1975); 1977 trans. Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison ). Synchronistically, Louis Pierre Althusser also includes those institutions in his taxonomy of Ideological State Apparatuses.

    NOTE 2. An attempt in that direction was made in science fiction, (cf. “psychohistory” in Frank Herbert’s 1980s Dune Trilogy), though the social sciences might be wary of using similar modelling “in reality”. But have similar considerations deterred us from employing medical diagnostics, so why shove aside climate or social climate modelling?

    NOTE 3. The signification can go any number of “good” ways: “gentle, tactful – oh, diplomatic, too – approach”, “the tao of staying and keeping intact”

    NOTE 4. Lat. lit., “spirit healthy in body healthy”. “Everybody” knows the English, si?


    Last updated: Tue, June 15, 2010

    link to courtesy copy of Dr. Venkatramani Balaji’s PPt. See Talk Announcement post for transcription of 3 slides of ecosonic interest – “How to Get to Exascale”, “Hardware & Software Challenges”, “Climate Sci – HPC Challenges”
    (Pointer to) UofT-hosted copy (???) of PPt expected on talk + abstract page


    Not having the requisite sci background, I’ll skip the technical core (a huuuuge pity!) and mention a few points of ecosonic interest that Dr Venkatramani Balaji brought up. I’ll also add my related search findings concerning the epistemic flows among actors of various import on the climate science and climate change stage.

    Re scientists and research units of any size “talking” to each other
    VB asked, How do you make climate models usable by a large number of people? (for the purposes of this section, I’m assuming |people=climate scientists|; re non-climatologists and non-scientists, see further below, VB’s “people” likely included those as well – per post-talk exchange; see note 1 re disciplinary labels)

    The efforts of the Modelling Systems Group at GFDL, which he heads, a.o.t., focus on developing metadata “in view of facilitating data management of large national and international modeling campaigns such as the IPCC”. In principle, they would be facing the challenges to the standardization of (semantic web) ontologies, which, e.g., ColumbiaU philosopher Barry Smith analyzes in detail. (cf. a pres I gave at UT a couple of years ago)

    On the eco-consonant side, climate model metadata standardization has advanced thanks to the Climate and Forecast Metadata Convention, which is adopted or “encouraged” by a number of research institutions in North America and Europe, (among 33 institutions and projects listed) e.g., the SeaDataNet partnership, dubbed “Pan-European infrastructure for ocean and marine data management”, which currently has 49 partners, and also plans to provide university-level training, Humbold (a EU project based in Germany), the University of Colorado’s Atmospheric Research center’s (known as UCAR) North American Regional Climate Change Assessment Program, the NERC RAPID THCMIP (Thermohaline Circulation Model Intercomparison Project) at the Natural Environment Research Council, UK. GFDL also uses the Convention, though it’s not on the posted list.

    Re scientists and technologies they rely on
    On the eco-dissonant side, VB mentioned among the challenges the fact that, e.g., integrated systems are assembled from multiple manufacturers, and enumerating the components used, he pointed out that this makes for numerous potential “points of failure” (Slide 32). Also, that “new programming models may be needed but are immature” (ibid.).

    Re the computational complexity of models
    A re-visit to my “chronic” query – computational complexity as regards manageability of 1) current (scientific and technological) knowledge 2) incoming (climate) data and new (scientific and technological) knowledge (cf. Hansen’s concern over current epistemic gaps). E.g., re 1) VB pointed out that “[e]xascale [meaning in the range of 1018 and up] software and programming models are expected by 2013, hardware by 2018″, though at present exceeding the 1 GHz limit is impossible for individual arithmetic processors and the components of a coupled system would stay at 105; so I wonder if fulfilling the 2013/2018 projections would be a prerogative of quantum computing under development. (see expectations of Canada’s Perimeter Institute) Re 2), my question is, How easy is it for the design of models to open up options for incorporating a new variable if/when necessary – without breaking stride? Would it be a piece of cake, adding/changing a few lines of code, or would reworking the program, a new software package edition, be in order?

    After all, global models failed to predict the recent rapid Arctic sea ice loss, according to leading US climate scientist Jim Hansen, who’s been dealing with modelling for over 30 years. (It seems this could easily be a case of 1) or 2) posited above, or both (?)) He notes in his 2009 book Storms of My Grandchildren that “[e]ven as our understanding of some feedbacks improves [basically he is saying global models are good for known feedbacks], we don’t know what we don’t know – there may be other feedbacks. Climate sensitivity will never be defined accurately by models.” (p.44, emphasis mine) Thus, he places models as a heuristic below paleoclimate studies and ongoing observations, even as he acknowledges that they have their uses. [see Note on Climate Models (still to do)]

    Surely, [June 28 update: in view of what models can handle within existing human climate knowledge, and the (at least theoretical) possibility to prompt human discovery, not intended by the design] Hansen’s “never” would depend on how advanced the technology that handles (in most general terms) variables is? Would it necessarily be an oxymoron to be programming for “what we don’t know”? After all, isn’t the “unknown” (un)consciously implicated in assessing the “probability” of something happening, which some models do? And more interestingly for the process of scientific discovery, [substitution June 28: following a deductive thought process,] would what is/may be part intuition/intuitive exectation help climatologists to put their finger on previously unknown/unacknowledged factors that contribute to the picture, [update June 28: whether the eye-opener comes independently of or through the modelling technology]? (cf. the experience of discovery of cytogeneticist and Nobel prize winner Barbara McClintock, e.g., per bio by E. Fox Keller, 1983 – see note 2 below)

    [June 26, 2010 update: I cannot believe I did not put this down – How close is modelling to being able to program for what a human can get out of ongoing observations and paleoclimate data. Are the connections humans can make way too loose to be formalized? Really, how up-to-date is what gets into a model – if according to Hansen “ongoing observations”, (alongside paleo data) would make a difference in weighing climate sensitivity?
    There ARE paleoclimate models, currently, but are they conversing (well) with programs for current predictions?]

    Re the human actors’ mindset
    It seems, then, that a big part of a good climate scientist’s mindset would be to handle equally well emergent and existing knowledge. This state of affairs would clash with “computer logic” to the extent that software models operate with closed sets of options – the knowledge they host would be part of what their designers know/have access to. Also, it could be that a climate scientist’s attention is trained on identifying patterns of behaviour of feedbacks (from observations and historically) and how well a model recreates history and anticipates future behaviour, whereas that of a programmer or a software engineer would be targetting what’s wrong with how a computer executes a program rather than with the truth value of the science fed into the program.

    Oops, essentializing and dichotomizing? [take a look at update June 18 – June 23, 2010, below] To the extent that it would help design a workable ecosonic model of Human-Human and Technology-Human Relatedness, yes. Noam Chomsky called this operation (unavoidable for him, fallacious for others) “idealizing the data” (in formal linguistics, I have to add).

    So, How can the two communities find a common “language” (used metaphorically, I do not mean Python, etc.) to build climate models that work, and do it well, at the same time spurring on technology to match ongoing developments in science? Added to that is the possibility that the options presented by a technology can inspire (serendipitously or otherwise) innovative ways to approach the “science” itself. Form influencing content, in most general semiotics terms.

    Re grist in the mill of disseminating and passing on scientific knowledge
    Lots of wisdom and communication mastery are needed to achieve eco-consonance in the case of communicating science to the public (which, I’d imagine, would include non-climate scientists, who’d want the “results”, not the “process”), ditto passing on this knowledge – in addition to knowledge of climate science per se – to future generations of scientists.

    In all www evidence, Princeton University’s Cooperative Institute for Climate Sciences CICS is already scoping out the former, while doing an excellent job of the latter. (see post A Whole Prof All to Yourself) In a quick post-lecture exchange, VB mentioned that GFDL (or CICS?) has included in the past seminars (incl. for grad students?) on how to communicate with the public.

    These skills would be mandatory for the purposes of providing decision support, as Stanford’s Stephen Schneider amply illustrates in his 2009 book Science as a Contact Sport, including in the context of negotiations for IPCC4’s WGII (check Vocab post) report between scientists (himself, a.o.) and government reps (he “converted” Kenya’s, if I remember correctly, delegate). Schneider records, with well timed anecdotal relief, the draining mind+rhetorics battles over, e.g., what scientists vs. policymakers mean by “confidence” vs. “high confidence”, “likely” vs. “very likely” as applied to CC, which “inspired” him to propose percentage quantification. (in a similar vein, see the Vocab post entry re IPCC’s euphemistic/diplomatic use of “climate change” in lieu of “global warming”)

    Intermediate conclusions
    A wide-range epistemic transfer, exchange rather, is needed within and between climate science and the software engineering/technological domain for quality knowledge production, with special attention to exchanges between scientists and future scientists.

    Since climate knowledge production depends on modelling technologies, it would seem as much as on data observation and paleoclimate studies, and conversely, climate modelling depends as much on climate knowledge as on technological competence, it would be extremely beneficial to prioritize close collaboration between climatologists and software engineers. In addition to the technical, programming side, model-building will crucially benefit from a legacy of requirements engineering and standardization methodology.

    To the observation that what SE has developed over and above programming may be/is largely irrelevant to climatologists, I’d advocate considering “translating”, not “transferring” that legacy, thus:

    * * * * * * * * * * A Sub-branch of SE – perhaps? * * * * * * * * * *

    As regards decision support, it requires accurate and adequately selected knowledge, and accessibly and diplomatically executed knowledge exchange among climate scientists, and between them and non-climate scientists, humanitarians, policymakers, the general public… Think of what is invloved in preparing the Assessment Reports of IPCC’s WGI (scientists), and WGII and III (interfaces with economists, policymakers et al.) and, ultimately, in the Synthesis Reports, based on the work of all three working groups.

    If any reprsentatives of (any of) the non-climatologist demographic groups above are to be made privy to “wassup with climate”, how are they not a “client” whose needs and background should be taken into account? Closer to the core of science, if the output of models were to count on a par with – if not census data – then official (scientific) publications, in the public domain and with proper credit and responsibility assigned, then any climate-savvy external scientist not privy to the workflow of a research community of any size, would also be a client, highly demanding, at that. Plus, even if a climatologist is designing the program for her-/himself, they are, after all, following some tacit requirements, as their own “client”. [check if Dr Balaji/s.o. else has a graphic representation of the varying scope of climate models req’s engineering, which I am assuming cannot equal zero, even when “doing it for oneself”.]

    Educating for climate-science-and-software-engineering hybridity
    In the education section, I’d like to mention that Dr Balaji is expecting the publication of a textbook he’s been working on, 1-2 years from now. He also develops courses he teaches at Princeton.

    What caught my attention was his emphasis on there being much more “downstream science” than there are scientists prepared to meet the climate analysis demand. He identifies this as a scientific scalability challenge. (Slide 33)

    Currently, at GFDL, which includes Dr Balaji’s Modelling Systems Group, I do not recall coming across a profile which explicitly features formal training in software engineering.

    Dr Balaji liked my idea of “hybrid” education, organically interfacing climate science and software engineering. In my terminological taxonomy, “hybridity” would mean superseding multidisciplinarity, and moving from the interdisciplinarity on to the transdisciplinarity stage. That is, going beyond “merely” juxtaposing self-contained disciplines (multi = Lat. “many”), and proceeding with epistemic exchanges (inter = Lat. “between”), and even with disciplinary merger (trans = Lat. “across”, “through”). [should link to my presentation on ***-disciplinarity]

    However, the “linguistic” (metaphorically speaking) correspondences between the two communities and their epistemologies regarding modelling are far from obvious.

    In principle, to the extent that the “language barrier” between an A and a B is overarchingly disciplinary, setting aside individual psychological specificity, “translation” between two distinct disciplinary mindsets may pose a problem, and “climate science” itself IS a crossroads of multiple disciplines, which multiplies the potential barriers to eco-consonant relationships. What happens with the addition of yet another player, software engineering (SE)? One mindset predicated on an open – and perhaps undefinable – set of options (the “not-knowing-the-unknown” problem per Hansen above), and another on an explicitly defined set of options (remember the colloquial idiom “engineering solution”?). Request: Pls keep in mind that this is only an abstract ecosonic model, in this particular case, also playing with stereotypes, certainly not meant to reflect the various degrees and shades, especially as related to specific (not excluding exceptional!) individuals 🙂

    If “translation lossy-ness” is what has so far prevented (it would seem, desirable, and urgent!) closer collaboration between climatologists and software engineers, then perhaps a good motivator for more extensive epistemic exchanges could be the opportunity to slim down each other’s Zones of Proximal Development? (see note 3)

    Once the leadership by already accomplished engineers and climate scientists is in place, carefully thought-out hybrid university-level (grad?) curricula/programs may be the path to developing the requisite “linguistic” skills of the future generations in the making. After all, in view of current IPCC estimates, well prepared climate-tackling scientists, including meta-science communication talent, would be needed for at least a century from now, moreover in top-priority mode.

    The catch in this uplifting scenario? See …From Contact to In-tact Sport post.


    NOTE 1: In this post I am using “climate science”/”climatology” as a shorthand for a variety of disciplines involved in the study of climate, as represented, e.g., in the research profiles at GFDL – geophysics, atmospheric physics and chemistry, oceanography.

    NOTE 2: Because this definitely is a book worth reading for those interested in scientific discovery, the exact bibliographic info:
    Evelyn Fox Keller. (esp. “Chapter Three: Becoming a Scientist.” In) A Feeling for the Organism: the life and work of Barbara McClintock. San Francisco: W.H. Freeman. (1983)

    For the other references, pls see post Researched CC Material (Ongoing)

    NOTE 3: Widely recognised psychologist and pedagogue Lev Vygotsky postulated that what he termed “Zone of Proximal Development” constitutes the difference between a student’s capacity to arrive at a solution on his/her own and the capacity to do so with the help of a more experienced teacher/adult… He also recommended to give students assignments in the ZPD, to encourage cognitive development. I couldn’t agree more, and would emphatically extend his recommendation to Any Learning Context at Any Stage in Life.

    update June 18 – June 23, 2010
    It is important to stress that technology is not devoid of scientific “texture”, and that science and technology are team mates, rather than rivals. Hence, the term “technoscience” (see Vocab entry). In establishing patters and physical dependencies between abiotic, moreover artefactual, units, software engineering, like e.g. cybernetics, is very much the counterpart of biology, medicine, whose units are biotic, which until not that long ago also entailed “non-artefactual”. But with cyborgs on the rise… (see Vocab entry)

    It must be the “applied” part of it that gave engineering the meaning in the idiom “engineering solution” (“mechanistic”, “operational”), e.g., looking to “fix” rather than “explain”, and (historically) kept it from entering university curricula until late in the 19th century, in North America, at least.


    Last updated: Tue, June 15, 2010

    It turns out grad students’ paradise exists. A higher than 1 to 1 prof – student ratio at the Cooperative Institute for Climate Science (CICS), founded in 2003 as the outcome of a 40-year long collaboration between Princeton University’s Atmospheric and Oceanographic Sciences Program and NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL).

    I paste below part of the SICS mission statement – it reads like a spell-out of ecological thinking:

    …the co-evolution of society and the environment – integrating physical, chemical, biological, technological, economic, social and ethical dimensions of climate change – and … educating the next generations to deal with the increasing complexity of these issues. (emphasis mine)

    As of Jan 29, 2010, the CICS People page lists 32 GFDL-based and 12 Princeton-based members, of whom 26 research, 12 GSs, 1 visitor, 5 admin.

    Of note are several seminar series (STEP has some PPts online):

    • GFDL seminars – upcoming
    • Geosciences series
    • STEP (= Science, Technology and Enviro Policy; within the Program headed by Prof. Michael Oppenheimer), whose speakers include academics working in areas related to climate and the environment, policy makers, science writers – going back to 1999.
    • Biochemistry

    The research data above were gathered in prep for and subsequent to a talk by Prof. V. Balaji, head of GFDL, hosted by UofT’s Physics Dept. (Atmospheric Physics group) on June 8, 2010 [see ES post]

    Calendar

    July 2020
    M T W T F S S
     12345
    6789101112
    13141516171819
    20212223242526
    2728293031  

    Categories

    © CreativeCommonsLicense

    Creative Commons License Img

    accurate quoting proper attribution by/on ES & of ES