Thursday, October 18, 2007

Exxon Geosciences Union?

There's an interesting rumour floating around in EGU circles: apparently some people are considering the possibility of sponsorship from an oil company, specifically Exxon. The EGU is a broad church and some people (eg the solid earth types) see no problem with this, but of course many climate scientists find it problematic, to put it mildly.

It's not clear to me what is really in it for the EGU. Maybe they would like to have more money to spend on "good causes" but (AIUI) they are not actually in any financial difficulties. Surely they could raise money for specific goals without branding either the whole organisation or the EGU General Assembly, which is a fabulous interdisciplinary meeting. I can just imagine "The Exxon Climate Lecture", in which they fly over someone like Lindzen (or worse, jokers like Monckton or The Execrable Crichton [did I really coin that epithet?]) to feed soundbites to waiting Faux News reporters. Thanks, but no thanks.

If the idea goes ahead, I predict a bloodbath - but for that reason, I don't think there is any serious prospect that it will happen. As a mildly interested outsider, the EGU seems to work very well as it is. Why fix what isn't broken?

4 comments:

Belette said...

I prefer egregious.

James Annan said...

Well I'd prefer it if he was merely egregious too, but I think execrable is more accurate :-)

Brian said...

i guess it depends on what you mean by "sponsorship" ... are they the sole sponsor for a certain project, or are they contributing money to a general pot...if it's the latter, take the $$$ when you can get it!

TimC said...

Off-topic...

James, I thought that you might like to look at this as given your work (particularly involving the paleoclimate record) it would appear that fast-feedback Charney climate sensitivity is a well known 3 C...

Why Is Climate Sensitivity So Unpredictable?
Gerard H. Roe and Marcia B. Baker
Science 26 October 2007:
Vol. 318. no. 5850, pp. 629 - 632
http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/318/5850/629

From what I can see, the authors do not distinguish between the fast and the slow feedbacks. But the slow feedbacks are principally from the carbon cycle and ice sheets and as such will only raise the the long-term climate sensitivity above the Charney. The authors argue 2 to 4.5 degrees Celsius is the best we will ever be able to do (more or less) which in essence means that their butterflies of uncertainty could blow the climate system down to 2 C.

Judging from what I see, the authors' advice would be to lowball the sensitivity as higher sensitivities will take longer to reach equilibrium. The latter is probably true but the former unjustified and a waste of precious time if we know better.

Anyway, figure you already knew about it, but just in case...

Take care.