The Republic of Science

Michael Polanyi's Republic of Science essay, published in 1962, explores the politics and economics of science, calling for decentralisation of the control of science in the face of US and UK plans to direct its funding and areas of study.

Judith Curry explains the problems in climate science and beyond which have eliminated the opportunities for "mavericks" to challenge established ideas. Those who express doubts about the certainty ascribed to the climate "consensus" are referred to heretics and deniers - words more suited to religion than science.

Links to Polanyi's essay and other references are included in the show notes:

Those sceptical of the certainty that CO2 is responsible for the late 20th century warming are more inclined to give credence to natural cycles based on our understanding of temperature changes over the last thousand years or so. Studies show temperatures rising from around 1800 when the Little Ice Age came to an end. Prior to the Little Ice Age, the Medieval Warm Period involved temperatures that were probably considerably warmer than today - Greenland had a thriving Norse population and wine was produced at higher latitudes than today.

HH Lamb's graph, published in the first IPCC report in 1991, illustrated the then current understanding of global temperature change.HHLamb_temperatures_1000-1990AD_620pixs.jpg

In spite of the logic that warming from the 19th century onwards is most likely the recovery from the desperately low temperatures of the Little Ice Age (Samuel Pepys wrote of ice skating on the Thames in 1683 during the Great Frost Fair), a recent study suggests that the Industrial Revolution may have been responsible for the onset of man-made global warming.

Experts “surprised” to discover what skeptics have known for years: world has been warming for 200 years by Jo Nova
For years, skeptical scientists have been pointing at data that showed the the world started warming somewhere from 1700 – 1820. This has been known from glaciers, sea level studies, ice cores, boreholes, ocean heat content estimates, and more proxies than any climate-nerd cares to name.
Finally, expert climate modelers are “surprised” to discover this:
“…their study had detected warming in the Arctic and tropical oceans from around the 1830s, just 80 years after the Industrial Revolution started in England. “It was an extraordinary finding,” she said. “It was one of those moments where science really surprised us. But the results were clear. The climate warming we are witnessing today started about 180 years ago.”
How many grant dollars did it take to figure out what skeptical scientists have been saying for years?

The Little Ice Age was far more devastating to humanity than the Medieval Warm Period when temperatures were likely significantly higher than today. If recent predictions of another Little Ice Age were to come true, humans would face considerable challenges and hardship. We know too little of climate to rely on such predictions or those of global warming but given the choice, warmer is much more beneficial to us all than cooler.

As in politics, economics and many other institutions, hierarchy suppresses challenges to consensus and reduces the creative capacity of mankind. We need to move to non-hierarchical organisation to reinvent science and the political economy if we are to deliver Polanyi's ideal of decentralised power.

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