A couple of months ago I posted about my increasing involvement with The Right Climate Stuff group which is largely composed of a group of NASA engineers and scientists. One of the things that they were interested in me doing was going to Houston to give then a presentation about my book. That presentation finally happened this past Wednesday.
This was the first time I have ever given a presentation of this magnitude of size, much less to such a distinguished group. There were about 25 people in attendance so before my presentation started they went around and introduced themselves to the group as there were several people from outside the group attending as well. Each and every person there had a strong scientific background and lots of experience in the real world applying their education. It was a very impressive group.
The presentation took place at the NASA Gilruth Center, this is the open portion of NASA’s Mission Control Center near Houston. For an engineer who grew up watching space shuttle launches whenever they happened, there isn’t much that has a higher cool factor to me than being able to visit this place. While I didn’t have enough time on this trip to see everything I want to, there will be future trips as well and I really look forward to seeing more in the future.
The presentation itself went very well. It was broken down into 4 main sections of about 90 minutes each. A lot can be learned about people from the questions that are asked and this group knows what they are doing. Throughout the entire presentation there were many thoughtful and insightful questions about the specific topic that was being discussed. In many ways such open discussion is one of the main things missing in the debate on global warming. I have thought on this before, but experiencing such discussion made the lack of open discussion acutely apparent. Whenever there was a point that they did not think was clear enough, or they had issues with, discussion ensued. It was an intellectually fascinating experience to be involved in such proceedings and a little awe inspiring to be the center of it all.
Some of the people had previously read my book and had been involved in previous discussions about the topics covered. Others did not have that exposure so the views came from many perspectives. That is exactly how science should work. There was learning on all sides throughout the entire day. The saddest part about the state of the climate science today is that such discussion is simply not allowed. Such talk is heresy to those that claim that human CO2 emissions are causing the Earth to warm and the loss is everyone’s, but theirs in particular. Different perspectives have helped clarify issues for me in the past, but outside of rare moments like this one, it is mostly a highly insular group that all have the same perspective.
I started the day out with a brief discussion of what information is easily available to the average person if they want to find out more about global warming. This is always a good starting point for the discussion because everyone is familiar with the data at that level and since I tend to focus on absolute temperatures instead, it makes that transition easier. So the first part was the analysis of the last 30+ years of the Earth’s temperature in absolute terms and then comparing to the past 50+ million years (in relative terms).
What is interesting is how important geography is to the Earth’s climate. Even today a quick analysis of the Earth’s absolute temperature and the amount of energy that it receives from the Sun make it clear that geography is critical to understanding the Earth’s climate. Here was a fun slide from that first part of the day.
The last interglacial cooled while CO2 remained elevated. Every interglacial has ended while CO2 has been elevated. Never once has CO2 prevented a glacial from developing. So to those that think it will, keep up that hope because that is all it is.
This is where the Milankovitch Cycles were discussed. To me it is always fascinating how none of the people involved with global warming like to talk Milankovitch. They hedge around it and point out flaws and say that it triggers parts of CO2 warming, but mostly they don’t like to talk about it. Fortunately I do like to talk about it and that is exactly what I did in this section of the presentation.
I will agree that Milankovitch doesn’t always predict interglacials, but it always predicts glacials. That is always a useful point to discuss as well. The influence of the 65N Summer Insolation on the global sea level is clear over the past 100,000 years.
I will put this much of the article up for now, but I will finish it up early next week.