Thursday, July 29, 2010

NCAR's atmospheric research program: Objectivity lacking?

On visiting the National Weather Service's forecast page, I noticed the following message at the top of the page:
The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) will be conducting a survey in Fall 2010 to ask people's opinions about this web page. This survey is not being conducted by the National Weather Service (NWS) or any other government entity. If you are willing to be contacted by email to participate in this web-based survey, please click here (you will be redirected to an NCAR web page).
Atmospheric research is good, I thought, but what is the nature of NCAR's program and is it worth participating? To find out, I went to NCAR's Web page where I found a link to their strategic plan.

The following excerpt was taken from the executive summary of NCAR's plans. Note the highlighted section:
In preparing [the strategic plan update], NCAR staff and community members reviewed current trends in our science and in national and international affairs. Simple extrapolation demonstrates how important atmospheric and Earth system science are to our common future. Human activities are causing large-scale changes in the Earth system—such as alterations in atmospheric chemistry, ozone depletion, and climate change—and population growth during the next century will make the effects of humans on the environment, and vice versa, far more pervasive, complex, and substantial.
As everyone knows, the scientific method involves defining a hypothesis, testing that hypothesis against empirical data, then either accepting or rejecting the hypothesis. The key to the method is for the researchers to maintain objectivity and not be committed to certain outcomes.

That being said, NCAR's characterization of the problem—stated as a fact rather than as a hypothesis—signals a lack of objectivity in NCAR's approach to their research, i.e., NCAR's basic premise is anthropogenic global warming is true and all that remains to be done is to discover what to do about it.

So, unless the researchers are allowed to reject NCAR's basic premise, I doubt NCAR's research will be an improvement over the now discredited IPCC Fourth Assessment Report.

No comments: