Climate change and conferences

By Marcus Wilson 11/12/2010

Back on-line now after a week in Melbourne at the Australian Institute of Physics conference.

I have lots of good stuff to blog about, including optomechanics (using light to cause vibrations), physics education (lots on this), the Large Hadron Collider and complicated models of things that might not even exist, but I’ll do this one on climate change.

On Wednesday, we had a very colourful and dynamic plenary lecture by David Kardy, from the University of Melbourne. In short, it was a rant about Ian Plimer’s recent book about Climate Change, and how certain high-profile Australian politicians (e.g. leader of the opposition Tony Abbot) like to draw their science from unscientific sources.

Essentially, Prof Kardy went through Ian Plimer’s major items of evidence for non-human causes of recent climate change and rebutted them. He covered a lot of ground in a 45 minute talk, which was rather too fast to take in, but the take-home message was that the science says that the bulk of recent warming of the earth’s climate is caused by human activities (and not due to Plimeresque magic underwater volcanoes).

Anyway, the most useful part of the talk for me, came in the ‘questions’ section at the end. Someone stood up and said something along these lines: "I am a physicist but not a climate physicist. What can I do to tackle disinformation in this field?" Prof Kardy’s response wasto say that we should help people to see what good science actually was. There has been a lot of good science done on climate change. Kardy suggested that non-climate physicists (like me) look at the booklet "Science of Climate Change – Questions and Answers", published by the Australian Academy of Science. (You may do the same, by clicking the link).

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