Friday, 20 April 2012

Physicist's View of "The Precautionary Principle."

Dr Gordon Fulks
by Dr Gordon J Fulks

In all of these arguments of a political nature, what is overwhelmingly lost is the real science and hence the real truth as best we know it. Science has NOTHING to do with how many supporters you can count amongst those you deem worthy in the scientific profession. In 1905 Albert Einstein stood against the entire classical physics world with his new ideas on relativity. A few years later, a high school biology teacher from Seattle (Harlen Bretz) stood against the entire geological profession with his explanations of Pacific Northwest geology. And just a few years ago, Barry Marshall and Robin Warren stood against the entire medical profession to explain the real cause of peptic ulcers.

It is as Galileo said many centuries ago: "The authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual."

In truth most scientists who are paid to support Global Warming do and most who are not do not. That should not be difficult to understand.

Hence the fundamental issue for me is the survival of science as an objective profession. Continuous spin from highly political non-scientists does not help. And complicity among many scientists who want the government grants to continue is very destructive.

If the "Precautionary Principle" is to be applied, it surely needs to be applied far more broadly than Global Warming advocates imagine. That includes efforts to address the massive conflicts of interest evident in climate science today as well as the massive economic costs of proposed "solutions" to a non-problem.

The proper application of the "Precautionary Principle" involves taking all reasonable precautions without going to extremes. In automobile safety, for instance, that involves wearing a seat belt but not giving up driving altogether. In Global Warming it involves addressing all of the self-serving hysteria long before undertaking any "remedies" for what is objectively a non-problem.

Gordon J. Fulks, PhD (Physics)
Corbett, Oregon USA

Dr Gordon J Fulkes received a BS in Physics in 1967 and went on to get an MS and Ph.D. in Physics, all from the University of Chicago. He worked initially for the Laboratory for Astrophysics and Space Research at the Enrico Fermi Institute of the University of Chicago doing experimental research on the solar modulation of galactic cosmic rays. 

See also James Delingpole and the Precautionary Principle.

ex -NASA sceptical Scientists to attend Conference

The Heartland Institute’s Seventh International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC-7) will take place in Chicago, Illinois from Monday, May 21 to Wednesday, May 23, 2012 at the Hilton Chicago Hotel, 720 South Michigan Avenue. The event will follow the NATO Summit taking place in Chicago on May 19–21.

Former NASA Scientists, Astronauts to Attend Heartland Institute Climate Conference

Two Apollo-era astronauts and two prominent former NASA scientists will speak at The Heartland Institute’s Seventh International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC-7), taking place in Chicago on May 21–23. The four men were among 49 signatories to a March 28 letter to NASA and the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) urging the agencies to cease their “unbridled advocacy” of anthropogenic global warming.
Dr. Harrison Schmitt, the first scientist and last man to walk on the moon in the Apollo 17 mission, and Apollo 7 lunar module pilot Walter Cunningham will talk about how NASA’s “unproven and unsupported remarks” on global warming damage the agency’s reputation.

The astronauts will be joined in the discussion by Harold Doiron, who worked for decades on vehicle stability and design at NASA, and Thomas Wysmuller, a meteorologist for the Royal Dutch Weather Bureau in Amsterdam and a long-time employee and consultant for NASA.

Register to attend the conference at this link.

Other confirmed speakers at ICCC-7 include:

Vaclav Klaus, president of the Czech Republic
Alan Carlin, U.S. EPA (retired)
Robert “Bob” Carter, James Cook University (Queensland, Australia)
Roger Helmer, MP, Britain
William “Bill” Gray, Colorado State University (emeritus)
Kenneth Haapala, Science and Environmental Policy Project
Tom Harris, International Climate Science Coalition
S. Fred Singer, University of Virginia (emeritus)
Willie Soon, astrophysicist
Leighton Steward, and
Brian Sussman, author, Climategate and Eco-Tyranny
Heartland will be joined by dozens of think tank cosponsors and hundreds of scientists who understand the need for a real debate about the causes, consequences, and policy implications of climate change. (See previous press release announcing the event here.)

The conference will feature several keynote speeches and some 30 panel discussions, each featuring a moderator and two experts debating a particular issue or aspect of the climate change debate. Check out the ICCC-7 page often for regular updates on the conference.
Attendance Information

ICCC-7 is open to the public. Registration is required. More information is available at the conference Web site. For media credentials, register here or contact Tammy Nash at or 312/377-4000. For more information about The Heartland Institute, visit our Web site or contact Jim Lakely at

Peer-reviewed Papers on Coral

There are two recent papers that go against the IPCC/alarmist propaganda. The first, published in Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 67: 1129-1143, by Thresher et al. Their data clearly suggest, as they describe it, that "a change in carbonate saturation horizons per se as a result of ocean acidification is likely to have only a slight effect on most of the live deep-sea biogenic calcifiers," which is a most reassuring result.

Thresher, R.E., Tilbrook, B., Fallon, S., Wilson, N.C. and Adkins, J. 2011. Effects of chronic low carbonate saturation levels on the distribution, growth and skeletal chemistry of deep-sea corals and other seamount megabenthos. Marine Ecology Progress Series 442: 87-99. 

The authors state that ocean acidification results from a net uptake of CO2 emissions that causes a decrease in the carbonate ion concentration of the ocean, which has been "forecast to hamper production of biogenic carbonates (aragonite and calcite) in the skeletons, shells and tests of marine taxa (Orr et al., 2005; Moy et al., 2009)," thereby "threatening their long-term viability and severely impacting marine ecosystems." They go on to note, however, that these predictions "are based primarily on modeling studies and short-term laboratory exposure to low-carbonate conditions," citing Riegl et al. (2009), Veron et al. (2009) and Ries et al. (2010). And they say that "their relevance to long-term exposure in the field and the potential for ecological or evolutionary adjustment are uncertain," citing Maynard et al. (2008).

What was learned
The five researchers report that they "found little evidence that carbonate under-saturation to at least -30% affected the distribution, skeletal composition, or growth rates of corals and other megabenthos on Tasmanian seamounts." In fact, they found that "both solitary scleractinian corals and colonial gorgonians were abundant at depths well below their respective saturation horizons and appeared healthy," while HMC echinoderms were common to as deep as they sampled (4011 m), in water that was approximately 45% under-saturated. They also report that "for both anthozoan and non-anthozoan taxa, there was no obvious difference in species' maximum observed depths as a function of skeletal mineralogy." In other words, the community "was not obviously shifted towards taxa with either less soluble or no skeletal structure at increasing depth." And in light of these observations, they write that "it is not obvious from our data that carbonate saturation state and skeletal mineralogy have any effect on species' depth distributions to the maximum depth sampled," and they say that they also saw "little evidence of an effect of carbonate under-saturation on growth rates and skeletal features."

Commenting further on their findings, Thresher et al. write that "the observation that the distributions of deep-sea corals are not constrained by carbonate levels below saturation is broadly supported by the literature," noting that "solitary scleractinians have been reported as deep as 6 km (Fautin et al., 2009) and isidid gorgonians as deep as 4 km (Roark et al., 2005)." And they say that their own data also "provide no indication that conditions below saturation per se dictate any overall shifts in community composition."
As for why things were as they observed them to be, the researchers note, as highlighted by Cohen and Holcomb (2009), that one or more cell membranes may envelope the organisms' skeletons, largely isolating the calcification process and its associated chemistry from the bulk seawater, citing the studies of McConnaughey (1989), Adkins et al. (2003) and Cohen and McConnaughey (2003), which phenomenon could presumably protect "the skeleton itself from the threat of low carbonate dissolution." In addition, they note that "calcification is energetically expensive, consuming up to 30% of the coral's available resources, and that normal calcification rates can be sustained in relatively low-carbonate environments under elevated feeding or nutrient regimes," as described in detail by Cohen and Holcomb (2009), stating that the likelihood that "elevated food availability could compensate for the higher costs of calcification in heterotrophic deep-sea species appears plausible."

The second paper by Shamberger et al published in Marine Chemistry 127: 64-75 . They conclude:  "it appears that while calcification rate and Ωarag are correlated within a single coral reef ecosystem," as in the case of the barrier reef of Kaneohe Bay, "this relationship does not necessarily hold between different coral reef systems," and they state that it can thus be expected that "ocean acidification will not affect coral reefs uniformly and that some may be more sensitive to increasing pCO2 levels than others," which also means (taking a more positive view of the subject) that some may be less sensitive to increasing pCO2 than others.

CO2 Science adds in light of what we know about the potential for rapid evolution in corals and their symbionts - see Evolution (Aquatic Life) in our Subject Index - we can validly maintain an even stronger positive view of the subject.

Shamberger, K.E.F., Feely, R.A., Sabine, C.L., Atkinson, M.J., DeCarlo, E.H. and Mackenzie, F.T. 2011. Calcification and organic production on a Hawaiian coral reef. Marine Chemistry 127: 64-75.  

What was done
In a study that sheds new light on this subject, Shamberger et al. deployed newly designed "autosamplers" to collect water samples from the barrier coral reef of Kaneohe Bay, Oahu, Hawaii, every two hours for six 48-hour periods, two each in June 2008, August 2009 and January/February 2010. And based on these seawater measurements, they calculated net ecosystem calcification (NEC) and net photosynthesis (NP) rates for these periods.

What was learned
As expected, the six scientists found that "daily NEC was strongly negatively correlated with average daily pCO2, which ranged from 421 to 622 ppm." Most interestingly, however, they report that "daily NEC of the Kaneohe Bay barrier reef is similar to or higher than daily NEC measured on other coral reefs, even though Ωarag levels (mean Ωarag = 2.85) are some of the lowest measured in coral reef ecosystems [italics added]."

Read more at CO2 science HERE and Here.