Is Global Warming Starving Science?

Posted by Dee Norris

This article concerning the Nobel Prize for Chemistry caught my attention this morning:

Are we Starving Science?

Are we Starving Science?

Twenty years ago, Douglas Prasher was one of the driving forces behind research that earned a Nobel Prize in chemistry this week. But today, he’s just driving.

Prasher, 57, works as a courtesy shuttle operator at a Huntsville, Ala., Toyota dealership. While his former colleagues will fly to Stockholm in December to accept the Nobel Prize and a $1.4 million check, the former Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution scientist will be earning $10 an hour while trying to put two of his children through college.

Shuttle driver reflects on Nobel snub – Cape Cod TImes

Are we starving science research in other areas to pursue accelerated and possibly needless research into Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) and the dire consequences of AGW at the expense of other more productive and beneficial areas of study?

We have recently heard from Richard A. Muller justifying the distortions and untruths of Al Gore (I guess if the untruths were committed willingly, one could call them LIES) as necessary to stir the public to combat AGW, but at the same time are these tactics shifting funding away from more deserving science projects?

While it was perfectly within his rights not to share the cloned gene with others, Prasher said he felt an obligation to give his research a chance to turn into something significant, even if he was no longer a part of it.

“When you’re using public funds, I personally believe you have an obligation to share,” Prasher said.

How many researchers like Douglas Prasher are under-employed while others like Hansen and Mann receive lecture fees and yet continue to obfuscate data and research paid for by public funds simply to protect their ’empires’?

Your guess is as good as mine, but I ask if spending money on research the explore to the link between global warming and kidney stones really a good use of a limited resource?

In a final thought,  I hope some research facility sees this article and offers Doug a job that pays better than $10 an hour.  Clearly, he is a more deserving scientist than many of the AGW researchers.

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Bob B

Yes, I agree with your assertion. Global warming research is getting too much money and leaving other science endeavors dry looking for money. The AGW money is on top of that corrupting the science process and Peer review and the IPCC in climate science is a disgrace. The money would also be put to better use auditing climate science.

kim

Baksheesh.
========

CodeTech

Absolutely, 100%, definitely agree. And I’ve been saying it for a while.
Not only that, but the bloody nose “science” in general will receive once this is all exposed will set all of us back centuries (us = science people).
How many times can someone cry “wolf” before the townspeople stop coming out to help? Others have listed a few of them, but let me mention some highlights: Ozone layer, Ice Age, Atomic tests at Bikini vaporizing the oceans, supercollider experiment creating a black hole that will absorb the Earth, DDT, Polar Bears on the ESL, and it goes on and on. The real problem, of course, is that NOBODY KNOWS THESE WERE BOGUS… a compliant and complicit media seem only to happy to cover it all up.
And yes, I have more respect for Prasher than I do for 95% of practicing “scientists”.
Any industry needs to allocate funding for specific portions of what they do. For example, during the development of the automobile they needed to develop effective suspensions, engines, exhaust systems, drivetrains, glass, steering geometry, etc. Imagine if 95% of the automotive development had gone into the cigarette lighter? I mean, sure, it’s an essential part of the car, but what a waste! I imagine the research articles would be something like “Effective disc brakes and their effect on lighting cigarettes in a moving vehicle”.
Imagine, to quote the people I have lately come to see as my opponents, if all the money currently spent on AGW research had gone to feed the hungry and house the homeless. Imagine! And put shoes on their feet.

mark wagner

As the recent economic turmoil dries up private and corporate research funding, look for the problem to get worse. We will hear ever more dire predictions of catastrophe, because only the most urgent scenarios will receive funding.
Ironic that the “best hope” we have for a reality check is for a sustained cooling where millions will starve.
Sad, really.

kim

CodeTech (07:10:32) Until just recently I worried about all those bad effects on science that you eloquently delineate, but now I’ve come to look upon this episode as more likely to serve as a vaccine. The object lesson of Galileo was enough to spark an enlightenment; perhaps the lessons from this may do something similar. We will have antibodies to similar ‘madness of crowds’ for awhile.
In the meantime, we’ve got to save all those poor people from freezing and starving if carbon is encumbered as we chill for how long, even kim doesn’t know.
=============================================

kim

Nonetheless, this particular madness is a fever. It seems to be a persistent inflammation of the body politic, with episodic exacerbations. Is it cancerous? Not likely; much as I disdain it and combat it, it is more likely creative than destructive, ultimately. It’s been a successful herd tactic from early times.
=====================================

Imagine competing for funding from the UN if your research had previously contradicted the IPCC conclusions.
The UN allocates something like 28 billion per year for this agw “science”. twice the Nasa budget. The funds indirectly directed by their recommendations probably exceed hundreds of billions.
How many climatologists would change area of study rather than go against the agw wave. Douglas Prasher wasn’t even in a highly politicized field and look what happened to him.
Maybe he’ll get a second chance.

Cathy

This sickens me.
My son is a senior research associate in the Center for Space Physics at Boston University.
He called last night relieved that he’s funded again for the near future.
He’s working with two teams now, in order to remain funded.
When will this AGW idiocy be laid to rest?
How I hope to live to see Hansen/Gore eat crow.

PaulH

Exactly what “research” is going on within the AGW community? Expensive fiddling with computer games, oops “models”, to fit their preconceived notions? What of all the interesting things that go undiscovered because they aren’t looking? What a waste.

Demesure

May I suggest Prasher to restart his career with a grant application like
“luminescent jellyfish protein affected by global warming induced ocean acidification”

Well, for what it’s worth, federal spending for research and development has gone up 40 percent under President Bush. (It had stagnated under President Clinton, falling slightly in real terms during his first term, and then rising slightly in his second term.)
Most of the increases went to health and military research.
I haven’t seen a report on support for research by foundations.

Hardtalk Dr Tom Pike
Watch this BBC HardTalk Interview and see how Dr. Pike trys to make a case for Mars Exploration (and all scientific research) against the question regarding AGW being the single greatest threat to mankind.
When I see people like Dr Pike have to defend their research vs AGW I nearly pop a artery in anger.

kim

CH (08:13:49) A great deal of research with the patina of being AGW related really just relates to temperature changes and so still may have a lot of validity. The assumption that any heating is from CO2 may have to be modified, but a lot of the empirical data may still be useable. Maybe it’s job security for a lot of scientists, re-interpreting their data in light of a better understanding of what actually drives climate.
Plus, cooling climate does test a lot of theses. Doesn’t every dark cloud have a sliver of phase change lining it?
I think I’ve never heard so loud
The quiet message in a cloud.
===================

The one good thing about the current economic downturn is that many silly AGW stories appear to have slipped off the mainstream news stands. Maybe there is yet hope against the hysteria.

deadwood

My problem isn’t so much the amount of money dedicated to climate research, it is where its being spent.
Too much of funded research goes to what I think of “derivative” science. These are studies that take GCM output and look at the “what if” potential impacts of the output. This is poor science and a waste of research money IMO.

Ed Scott

The Australians are concerned about a starving economy.
Time to Erase the Emissions Trading Nightmare:
http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/5498
The Carbon Sense Coalition today called on the Premier of Queensland and all elected members to bring pressure to bear on the Federal Government to immediately abandon plans for Emissions Trading.
The Chairman of “Carbon Sense”, Mr Viv Forbes, said that at a time of world economic crisis, the last thing productive Queensland industries need is the threat of this destructive policy hanging over them.
“Emissions Trading and its carbon taxes must harm Australian industry, and Queensland will suffer most.

OT:
“A new Cycle 24 sunspot has quickly formed high in latitude in the northern hemisphere of the sun. There is at least 2 clearly visible flux regions along with it.” http://www.solarcycle24.com

memomachine

Hmmmm.
As a non-scientist who has been science mad since a young boy I will say this:
A lot of scientists are burning the collective credibility garnered over centuries of work by other scientists.
One of the things I enjoy doing is asking people questions when in public or social situations. One question I have been asking is what the reaction would be if it turns out that AGW was nothing more than hype for more funding.
To say the reaction was extremely negative is a vast understatement.
One issue in particular was that many children are being indoctrinated with AGW in very frightening ways, something that parents aren’t appreciative of if it turns out that AGW is bullshit.

GeoS

‘Fraid not Mr Jones: “The one good thing about the current economic downturn is that many silly AGW stories appear to have slipped off the mainstream news stands. Maybe there is yet hope against the hysteria.”
In last night’s BBC TV programme: The American Future: A History by Simon Schama, opened with all the alarums and excursions about Global Warming. Couldn’t stand it so turned it off. Pity really because I’ve always regarded Schama highly. Maybe I should have stuck it out.

deadwood

Mister Jones:
There’s a pattern to the media’s behavior that we all need to be aware of.
Now instead of Amazing Stories focused on Global Warming Chaos, the press is preoccupied with Amazing Stories focused on Economic Chaos.
When the economy turns around, if the climate is still warm, expect more stories on Global Warming Chaos. If the climate then is cooling, I expect we will see stories on Global Cooling Chaos.
It what the press has always done. Yellow Journalism is not new, its focus has simply migrated to other areas.

Ted Annonson

As I have said before–
We need to amputate the Radical Environmental Limb before the “GangGreen” kills us all.

Deadwood, I’m with you. To me the big question for the next 50 years is this: How are we going to feed all the people? Even under the most optimistic projections that see world population growth rates slowing significantly, the global population is projected to be 9 billion by 2050, nearly 50% more people than are on the Earth today! How is everyone going to be fed and live without hopelessly polluting the planet and wrecking ecosystems? World grain stores are down from a 1-year supply to a 3-month supply, even now. Pouring all the research money into AGW research seems like doing computer simulations to design a more efficient garage door opener while your house is on fire! In light of the upcoming food shortage, increased levels of CO2 in the atmosphere and a little extra warmth might even be good news, since plants grow faster under those conditions.

Kum Dollison

Sunny, no sense in replacing one set of hysteria with another. Grain prices are falling like a rock. Worldwide. A recent Stanford study identified One Billion Plus Acres of abandoned farmland. Our corn yields are expected to rise from 151 bu/acre to 180 bu/acre in just the next six years.
Our new seeds will grow in aluminum-toxic soil (about half the world’s farmland.) We used to rowcrop 400 million acres, now we rowcrop about 250 million acres. Brazil has about 300 Million acres of fertile land lying fallow. DR Congo, alone, could probably feed all of Africa, and half of Europe.
Food won’t be a problem until we run into a wall with “Phosphates availability.” Even the we’ll be able to accomplish a Lot with just a little “tweaking” of the way we farm. It’s something to keep an eye on; but, the situation with Agriculture is in no way, “Dire.”

David Gladstone

As Lee Smolin showed conclusively that String theory sucks up all the available grant money for useless projects that cost astronomical amounts of money; the same is true with climate science. Another similarity, is that String theorists don’t acknowledge that their ideas have ever been refuted or made to look ridiculous as many of them are. This is a major impediment to dealing with the important threats and challenges we face.

[…] from: Is Global Warming Starving Science? Tags: agw, article, chemistry, climate, earth, global, global-warming, politics, research, […]

tty

I read a lot of Quaternary Science papers and have noted that in the last few years an obeisance to AGW has become more or less a compulsory part of the papers. The papers frequently have nothing whatsoever to do with AGW, or may even contradict some aspect AGW, but the obeisance still has to be there.
It seems to have the same function as the Lenin quotation had in Soviet scientific papers up to 1991. It demonstrates your loyalty to the party line, and allows you to publish your results in peace.

Don Shaw

I can’t say that I have relative numbers to compare but I suspect that you are just looking at the tip of the iceburg re spending for AGW. I read the Daily Biofuels News Digest almost every day and am appalled at he amount of $$$ that is being poured into looking for non fossile fuels. Of course the driving force for this is the AGW fear that has been bought into by the politicians and their subsequent hate for oil, coal, and natural gas. Ethanol from corn is the perfect example of a program out of control. We are subsidizing ethanol 53 cents for every gallon plus all the grant monies that are being handed out. And there is always the promise that the next generation will be worthwhile. Meanwhile we have research that is driven by a corrupt congress to reward their contributors rather than real science.
BTW the next generation using cellulosic feed is not much better than corn and to date there is no commercial scale plant operating despite all the dollars being thrown at it. You think $4/gal gas is expensive wait until you get the bill for farm grown fuels. In my opinion they are ignoring all good engineering and science principals and are trying to get blood out of a stone.
I wish someone tabulated all the tax dollars being spent on alternative fuel programs and audited the performance of those receiving the grants/subsidies. Since so many different departments of the government are in the act, I doubt the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing.

Gary

Douglas Prasher sounds like a good guy. He was fairly paid for his foundational work and when it was over he passed the baton. The Nobel Prize is as much a political award as a scientific one and will go to currently active scientists. The winners should show the same honorableness that Prasher showed and help him out with finding work that takes utilizes more of his abilities.
FWIW, living on soft money is tough and only the connected and talented last for long. That’s not saying anything about their work other than they can crank out the proposals and write the reports to the satisfaction of those awarding the grants. Time will tell if their work ultimately has any value.

Kum Dollison

Don, Iowa St. studied this and came to the conclusion that the approx. 700,000 barrels ethanol we are using daily is reducing the cost of EVERY GALLON of gasoline consumed by about $0.35. We use about 140 Billion Gallons of Gasoline/Yr, so that would come out to what? About $46.5 BILLION/YR? Or, about 10 times the $4.6 Billion Blenders’ Tax Credit. A side benefit would be that our payments for “Crop Price Supports” are DOWN about $11 BILLION/yr.
This is all in addition to the Jobs created, and taxes collected in the U.S. as opposed to shipping $100 Million to the Middle East to replace that ethanol that we’re creating, here.
Oh, and corn is back down to $0.07/lb ($4.00/bu,) and soybeans are back in single digits (less than $10.00/bu. – about $9.00, I think.)
The Biofuels story is about Much More than “global warming.” In fact, it’s not about that, at all.

Ed Scott

During my freshman year, I had a course entitled Political Science. I had no thought at the time that Political Science would be expanded to include a major portion of the Earth sciences.

Robert Wood

Of course we are. We still have too little data to determine the state and operation of the climate.
So, we should vigously fund measurement projects, and no more.
What ever happened to USA state funding of fusion research?

Robert Wood

Kum Dollison, this post of your’s does not belong here. Also, it is erroneous. If I by gasohol, with 10% ethanol content, I am effectively paying 3 cents a liter more (at current Ottawa prices). It is, in fact, reducing my fuel efficency, as I buy fuel by volume, not Joule.
And this simple, and direct, criticism does not even take into account the inefficiencies of burning food in cars.

[…] posted here: Comment on Is Global Warming Starving Science? by Kum Dollison Tags: climate, Climate Change, global-warming, phoenix, politics, resources, space, technology, […]

CodeTech

Robert Wood (16:09:52):
I think that Kum’s post was hyperbole, or maybe wishful thinking. But it’s nice to have a round even number plucked out of the air for everyone to ponder.
Myself, I use “mother nature’s gasoline” in my 1987 turbo car (Canadians will know…) It is 10% grain sourced ethanol and has been for decades. I’m in Calgary at 3500 feet, and have completely rewritten the engine management computer in my car, optimizing the fueling for E10. Before, if I had to get gas from some other station I was plagued with detonation and smoky exhaust. Now that everyone’s got E10, I’m good. But ONLY because I modified the fueling for my car! A stock non-ethanol calibration wastes fuel and E10 potentially damages the engine.
Most Americans I talk with are shocked when they do the conversion from $1.62/liter, the recent peak, that I was paying for 94 octane. When I bought the car in 87 I could fill it for $11-12… I have now actually put over $80 into it at one fill. Sobering.
And maybe someone can explain to me how it’s ok when food prices drop, since now we don’t have to worry about those maimed and killed during food riots and shortages?
I love having E10, because I can take advantage of it. I hate when something like E10 is mandated, however, and I believe that was a bad call from everyone involved, on both sides of the border.

Conversation Continuity (garron)

Kum Dollison (13:10:46) : “Don, Iowa St. studied this and . . . . . .”

You are either cutting and pasting material beyond your comprehension or you have an imagination unbounded by physical and economic reality. I’ll be back later to refute this impossible BS.
Please include reference supporting your “fantastic” posts.
Anthony! Citations should be required It is too easy for people to type some programed propaganda or what they want to be true or, whatever.

Flash, Kum Dollison, Reality & Truth Mater (garron)

And, I forgot to change the name — again.

Flash, Kum Dollison, Reality & Truth Matter (garron)

And, so does spelling.

Kum Dollison

Robert, my comment was in response to Don Shaw’s comment.
Now, as to being “erroneous.” I’m confused. Do you mean to say that Iowa State University DID NOT STUDY this? Because, Here’s the Study:
http://www.card.iastate.edu/publications/DBS/PDFFiles/08wp467.pdf
I think what you’re missing is that when you replace 700,000 Barrels/Day of a substance (petroleum) with another substance (ethanol) the price of the First Substance is likely to fall. That seems to be what has happened (according to Ia St, at least.

[…] CodeTech on Watts Up With That? […]

See http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=95545761 for the story I first heard about this. In part:
Prasher doesn’t have any regrets about giving away the gene. Tsien and Chalfie did great work, he says, which he probably couldn’t have done because the National Institutes of Health had rejected his funding proposals.
“At that time, I knew I was going to get out of it; my funding had already run out,” Prasher says.
He went to work for a laboratory run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, then took a job with a NASA contractor in Huntsville. But two-and-a-half years ago, NASA cut his project and Prasher lost his job.
He tried to find a job in science but failed. So he went to work at the car dealership.
“I never thought I would enjoy working with people so much. ‘Cause doing science is kind of a loner thing; but doing this, I meet new people every day, and I hear all kinds of stories, some of which I don’t need to hear. Because I’m kind of a bartender,” Prasher says.
But the job does not pay enough to support his family.
“Our savings is gone; just totally gone,” he says.
Prasher is still looking for a research job, but he worries that after two-and-a-half years, his knowledge and skills may be out of date.
That’s not what some of his former colleagues say. One called Prasher’s current situation a “staggering waste of talent.”

Kum Dollison

Codetech, you mapped your computer in your Turbo car to run a little rich. It gave you more power. Okay. Now, when you put 94(?) Octane (what would that be in the states?) in it it doesn’t burn all the fuel, and it smokes some. If you had never made that conversion you would get a little less power on E10, but you would burn the straight gasoline more efficiently. (Is 94 octane in Canada the same as 87 octane in the states?)
Minnesota has been using E10 in all of their gasoline since 1996. I’ve heard of no problems.
Come on; the closest I’ve read of a food “riot” where someone could, conceivably, have been Injured was Egypt, and that was All about idiotic import policies in a Command Market System.
Why wouldn’t low food prices be Good? It signifies an Abundance of foodstuffs.

Ted Annonson (09:50:59): “…before the “GangGreen” kills us all.”
Beauty, Ted!

Jeff Alberts

Because food is for eating. There’s nothing wrong with fossil fuels. I think changing to CNG is better than putting food in a gas tank. Eventually that food will be needed for hungry mouths.

Kum Dollison (11:07:32): “Sunny, no sense in replacing one set of hysteria with another…”
A very nice, balanced, and heartening comment (all of it), thanks, Kum.

Flash, Kum Dollison, Reality & Truth Matter (garron)

Kum Dollison (19:08:41)

Thank you for providing The Impact of Ethanol Production on U.S. and Regional Gasoline Prices and on the Profitability of the U.S. Oil Refinery Industry.
You misinterpret the cited study:

Our hypothesis is that this additional ethanol production has had a negative impact on gasoline prices and on the margins of crude oil refiners.

Because these results are based on capacity, it would be wrong to extrapolate the results to today’s markets. Had we not had ethanol, it seems likely that the crude oil refining industry would be slightly larger today than it actually is, and in the absence of this additional crude oil refining capacity the impact of eliminating ethanol would be extreme. In addition, the impact of the first billion gallons of ethanol on this capacity constraint would intuitively be greater than the billions of gallons that came later. We did try a quadratic term to pick up this effect, and it was not significant.

The model’s only purpose is to “show” that ethanol existence impacted [PAST TENSE] the price of oil.
Your post thereafter is your unfounded extrapolations. If you wish to try to resuscitate your assertions, fire away.

Kum Dollison

You’re welcome, Roger.
I’m not a scientist, but from what I’ve read it seems that the “skeptics” have the better argument. I’m afraid, however, that many skeptics are hurting the credibility of the anti-AGW argument by attacking, with passionate, but wildly inaccurate claims, a subject in which they are not expert.

CPT. Charles

KD [@1107]–while your stats concerning crop land availability are [more or less…] correct, you’re not considering some other factors. Within the AGW camp there are [1] groups who oppose humanity’s extended footprint on ‘Mother Gaia’ …opening up those additional acres may not be as easy as you think. [2] Another faction in the AGW camp are vigorously opposed to ALL GM food crops [AND it’s attendant research]; so much so that they successfully blocked shipments of food aid to famine-stricken areas of Africa, in the recent past.
Do not make the mistake of thinking that everyone in the decision making process is rational, sane, and without malice or guile. How do you think we wound up in our current circumstance?
The eco-fascists we comment about here have ‘lawfare’ down pat. Yes, we could easily adapt to climate variations and population stresses, but there’s the minor matter getting past the shock battalions of [very] well funded lawyers and the barrier wall of lawsuits they’ll throw up.
Oh yes…you obviously missed the news about food riots in the SE Asian regions. Hopefully the downward trend in commodities prices will help on that issue. Food riots are NOT a pretty thing to behold…governments collapse for lesser reasons than that.

garron

Kum Dollison (00:50:15):” . . . . . I’m afraid, however, that many skeptics are hurting the credibility of the anti-AGW argument by attacking, with passionate, but wildly inaccurate claims, a subject in which they are not expert.”
You mean people like you being expert on corn prices?
In the past 90 days Dec corn has dropped over $3 and Nov beans have dropped over $6.50 per bu. and marketing specialist Mike Woolverton at Kansas State says supply and demand fundamentals had almost nothing to do with it. He says it was all a function of the financial markets, because of the housing bubble and the subprime mortgage issues.

Kum Dollison

Garron, you are misreading the conclusion. First, if you will notice the authors speak in the Present Tense throughout the article. They state quite clearly what the result of having the ethanol in the system has accomplished, and is accomplishing.
In essence, they are saying that putting a lot more ethanol into the system will Not cause prices to fall in exact correlation with the added supply. It was the act of, initially, removing the constraint on capacity that was responsible for most of the downward price movement.
They are NOT in any way, shape, or form saying that Ethanol caused gasoline prices to be lower last year, but aren’t affecting prices “This” year. For a worthwhile wager we’ll contact the paper’s authors and get it from the “horse’s mouth” if you want (but, surely, after thinking about it you won’t “want.”)
BTW, there was, also, a piece of research done by Merril Lynch that attacked the questiont by way of oil prices; and, it came out to 15% reduction in the price of gasoline due to ethanol.