Settled Science (by Diego Fdez-Sevilla, PhD.)


Settled Science (by Diego Fdez-Sevilla, PhD.)

Science

From www.scientificamerican.com I have been aware of a rather confusing posture adopted by the Australian Government about Science:

  • Science as a systemic pattern of thought oriented to identify relevant gaps of knowledge, to analyse the implications of those in the development of societies and to further engage in the effort towards reducing those gaps and to apply the knowledge acquired. A mind set which for most scientists demand the commitment of prioritising scientific achievements over the development of their personal lives.
  • Science as a career. A profession in the job market offering stability to achieve professional goals and the growth of personal aspirations including supporting the growth of a family.

Gayathri Vaidyanathan,  wrote the news report on February 8, 2016.

CSIRO’s climate programs have been in trouble since at least May 2014, when the then-conservative government cut the agency’s budget by $111 million. Almost 1,000 positions were eliminated, including in the climate departments.

Marshall, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, became CSIRO’s CEO in Jan. 2015 and immediately announced that CSIRO would focus on innovation over basic science. Marshall and CSIRO representatives did not respond to ClimateWire’s request for comment by deadline.

When Malcolm Turnbull became Australia’s prime minister in September last year, replacing a pro-energy predecessor, environmentalists rejoiced. But Turnbull’s government has also emphasized science that can be easily commercialized, according to media reports.

In December, CSIRO’s management audited the atmosphere and oceans program for its commercial potential.

“We were having a hard time in demonstrating the capacity to be commercially valuable,” one CSIRO scientist said. “Not that climate science can’t demonstrate incredible economic value to society by helping to adapt and reduce damages and risks, but that’s not the kind of economics that the new CEO and the government is going after.”

The internal assessment was that perhaps dozens of jobs might be at risk, the scientist said.

On Feb. 3, Marshall wrote in a memo that CSIRO would henceforth focus on commercially viable projects. The next day, during a staff meeting, he said all climate change programs would be cut. Staff would be transferred into other programs, so there would not be job losses, he said.

Marshall wrote in the memo that climate change is now settled science, and basic research is no longer needed.

The question has been answered, and the new question is what do we do about it, and how can we find solutions for the climate we will be living with,” he wrote.

_____________________

With an ax rather than a scalpel, Australia’s federal science agency last week (Feb8th 2016) chopped off its climate research arm in a decision that has stunned scientists and left employees dispirited.

As many as 110 out of 140 positions at the atmosphere and oceans division at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) will be cut, Larry Marshall, the agency’s chief executive, told staff Friday. Another 120 positions will be cut from the land and water program. Across the agency, 350 climate staff will be moved into new roles unrelated to their specialty.

Scientists say the cuts would affect Australia’s ability to cope with climate change. The nation is already the driest on Earth and experiencing significant shifts in rainfall. It would leave the global research community disabled, since CSIRO ran the Southern Hemisphere’s most comprehensive Earth monitoring and modeling programs. And it would leave young climate scientists at CSIRO without direction.

“I’m saddened for climate science itself, for services to Australia, and particularly for the younger scientists who are just starting to make their mark in this important area,” said John Church, an oceanographer at CSIRO and a world-renowned expert on sea-level rise.

Another CSIRO scientist termed the situation “depressing.” Most CSIRO scientists requested anonymity, since employees cannot discuss government policies under the terms of their contracts.

“Because the science is settled there is no need for more basic research”.

When I saw this statement some time ago I didn´t think it could be taken seriously.

But since such argument has supporters, I guess same will apply with cancer. Climate and cancer Sciences are settled and share same findings, both are real and the impact triggered by their developments are harmful to societies, and both share components from anthropogenic activities. So, we should stop basic research on understanding the basics behind the developments on cancer and focus on pharmaceuticals, stop understanding climatic synergies and focus on.. renewable industry?

If the ones taking decisions which lead to this mindset are those coming from the better schools… and many wise people are found in rural areas, may be, only may be, … we should re-think where should we focus the education for those taking important decisions.

Because if when Science can be viewed as settled does not need scientists we could apply same pattern of thought with politics. When political decisions are taken, politicians are not longer needed.

But if you claim that politicians not only take political decisions but also work with the daily demands from implementing those policies, you should also consider what happens once scientific postures are being implemented in those policies. Who is looking after the right introduction of scientific values on those policies? and who is working towards identifying new developments and adapting scientific discoveries into those policies?

Science and Politics. The Scientist that lays a Golden Egg

Once upon a time there lived a cloth merchant in a village with his wife and two children. They had a beautiful hen which laid an egg everyday. It was not an ordinary egg, rather, a golden egg. But the man was not satisfied with what he used to get daily. He was a get rich-trice kind of a person. So, one day he thought hard and “science was settled”. He thought, “If I cut open the hen’s stomach, I can get out all the golden eggs at once. I do not have to wait for the hen to lay the golden eggs one by one.”

That night he killed the hen, but to his dismay, he found no golden eggs. Not only he did not find even one, but he knew that from this instant onwards his life could not rely any more on having even one egg a day. (The Golden Egg – Aesop’s Fables)

Assuming that for science to be settled is enough it is like assuming that basic medicine can be considered settled and there is no need for any investment on it.

The problem with life sciences is that the only thing that can be forced to be settled are concepts and postures. We are living surrounded by processes of constant transition. The basic treatments from basic medicine are being constantly changed because everything involved is constantly changing. The pathogens are different in their virulence, the environment in which they develop has changed and even our own bodies are growing in a new scenario when compared with 50 years ago. We are exposed to a different type of nutrition, activity patterns, growth rates and overuse of antibiotics make us to react differently to similar basic hazards.

Similarly in Climatic science, what we might be experimenting is just a process of transition. The first challenge faced by Science is to settle agreement over the fact atmospheric patterns have changed. But even if any government wants to adopt such agreement as settled, the main question comes within the answer in itself. Change means transition, which also means, the linear progression drawn from today’s settled knowledge can no t be assumed to be the same found after the present stage of transition moves to a different one.

Such point of view is what I have adopted based on those findings shared on this blog from my research over climatic synergies. There is a huge difference between assuming that something has changed, the changed is settled and a new settled scenario has been created. And, there is a change going on, it has not stopped, the scenario is changing under a period of transition and we do not know  for how long is going to keep unstable or even if instability will be “settled” in the near future.

Like the hen laying golden eggs, you can not get from a scientists all the answers at once. The developments unfolding over time is what makes a scientist lay an egg everyday, and many times the answers are not even a golden egg. But meanwhile not all eggs might not be of gold, with every “egg laid” in science we have food for thought which will keep us on our toes facing new developments coming from either basic or “golden” innovative science.

In today’s time politicians and industry are looking at science as the farm of the golden eggs.

The Butterfly Effect on Scientific Thought and Environmental Policies.

You might be familiar with the butterfly theory.

From fractalfoundation.org I want to introduce here their description over the Chaos theory and their implications on the complex subject of Scientific thought and environmental policies:

Chaos is the science of surprises, of the nonlinear and the unpredictable. It teaches us to expect the unexpected. While most traditional science deals with supposedly predictable phenomena like gravity, electricity, or chemical reactions, Chaos Theory deals with nonlinear things that are effectively impossible to predict or control, like turbulence, weather, the stock market, our brain states, and so on. These phenomena are often described by fractal mathematics, which captures the infinite complexity of nature. Many natural objects exhibit fractal properties, including landscapes, clouds, trees, organs, rivers etc, and many of the systems in which we live exhibit complex, chaotic behavior. Recognizing the chaotic, fractal nature of our world can give us new insight, power, and wisdom. For example, by understanding the complex, chaotic dynamics of the atmosphere, a balloon pilot can “steer” a balloon to a desired location. By understanding that our ecosystems, our social systems, and our economic systems are interconnected, we can hope to avoid actions which may end up being detrimental to our long-term well-being.

Principles of Chaos

  • The Butterfly Effect: This effect grants the power to cause a hurricane in China to a butterfly flapping its wings in New Mexico. It may take a very long time, but the connection is real. If the butterfly had not flapped its wings at just the right point in space/time, the hurricane would not have happened. A more rigorous way to express this is that small changes in the initial conditions lead to drastic changes in the results. Our lives are an ongoing demonstration of this principle. Who knows what the long-term effects of teaching millions of kids about chaos and fractals will be?
  • Unpredictability: Because we can never know all the initial conditions of a complex system in sufficient (i.e. perfect) detail, we cannot hope to predict the ultimate fate of a complex system. Even slight errors in measuring the state of a system will be amplified dramatically, rendering any prediction useless. Since it is impossible to measure the effects of all the butterflies (etc) in the World, accurate long-range weather prediction will always remain impossible.
  • Order / Disorder Chaos is not simply disorder. Chaos explores the transitions between order and disorder, which often occur in surprising ways.
  • Mixing: Turbulence ensures that two adjacent points in a complex system will eventually end up in very different positions after some time has elapsed. Examples: Two neighboring water molecules may end up in different parts of the ocean or even in different oceans. A group of helium balloons that launch together will eventually land in drastically different places. Mixing is thorough because turbulence occurs at all scales. It is also nonlinear: fluids cannot be unmixed.
  • Feedback: Systems often become chaotic when there is feedback present. A good example is the behavior of the stock market. As the value of a stock rises or falls, people are inclined to buy or sell that stock. This in turn further affects the price of the stock, causing it to rise or fall chaotically.
  • Fractals: A fractal is a never-ending pattern. Fractals are infinitely complex patterns that are self-similar across different scales. They are created by repeating a simple process over and over in an ongoing feedback loop. Driven by recursion, fractals are images of dynamic systems – the pictures of Chaos. Geometrically, they exist in between our familiar dimensions. Fractal patterns are extremely familiar, since nature is full of fractals. For instance: trees, rivers, coastlines, mountains, clouds, seashells, hurricanes, etc.

“As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain, and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.”

-Albert Einstein

Unsettled Science and Unsettled ConScience.

We have to consider the interconnections between all parts of the system which generates our climate. And many of those considerations come from reassessing the impact from seeing basic principles playing with new magnitudes derived from the constant change in the composition of our environment in the solid, liquid and gaseous phases (land, atmosphere and water cycles).

If we consider that a butterfly can have an effect over atmospheric circulation we have to consider also the effect from any other substantial action including not only derived from industrial activities but also, from implementing policies. In comparison with the effect of a butterfly flapping its wings, what kind of feedback should we expect from the effect of the wings on just one single wind turbine with an enormous proportional size?, or the effect of releasing ground surfaces from the interference of trees in the atmospheric circulation…?,

And we can keep asking about the introduction of vast amounts of new components in the atmosphere from anthropogenic activity, and the alteration of solid structures due to urbanization, mining and waste treatment, Water cycles due to compartmentalization…

Basically, I believe that the lack of understanding the basics in science is what has left us to arrive to this point in time and degradation in our environments. Applying same lack of understanding into creating “innovative solutions” will not take us far from where we are heading already if those solutions carry the same “basic” mistakes as those previously applied.

This whole blog was created to explore gaps of knowledge founded over “basic” scientific principles. Most of the 145 publications shared to day contain questions and arguments exposing the relevance of maintaining gaps of knowledge in addressing basic perspectives to understand complex environmental problems. So when somebody says that basic science is settled I can only point to all the work shared throughout my blog and the comments added from the discussions generated, or even the silence held, to claim the opposite.

Graph stats-wordpress-10 more visited Nov2013 diego fdez-sevilla

One particular point of unsettled science highlighted in my research is the opposite directionality interpreted over the Arctic Amplification theory. The latest theory defends that the increase in temperature at Arctic latitudes is amplifying the effect from a global warming over mid-latitudinal circulation. My approach applies a new perspective to purpose that the atmospheric situation over the Arctic is not amplifying any process, due to its low energetic pool. Instead, the Arctic circulation is “passively” absorbing the energy carried under the influence of mid-latitudinal pressure due to hadley cell’s deformation.

Such mechanism is independent from a minor influence coming from affectingthe conditions of albedo at the Arctic. In fact, albedo affects material getting radiated with the capacity to accumulate and re-emit energy. But the Arctic has an atmosphere usually dry due to its low temperatures. Therefore, the conditions of the Arctic atmosphere defining its thermal properties rely in its majority over the amount of moisture carried capable to absorb energy.

My theory is that the increasing warming over mid-latitudes is using water vapour as the carrier of energy incorporating it over the whole atmosphere and into Arctic latitudes. Such mechanism will increase the energy pool at the Arctic, what in other words can be seeing as an increase in temperature.(more here,  here and here)

The theory of Arctic amplification applies the point of view of seeing the temperatures raising in the Arctic as a half full scenario. However, by applying the interpretation of assuming that the Arctic is one of the locations with an atmospheric volume with lowest energy content, we should look at it by how empty used to be, thus “half empty”.

The different interpretation between both scenarios bring into question the directionality on the triggers driving climatic and atmospheric events. Is it the Arctic affecting Mid-latitudinal circulation or is the other way around? So my approach into this question is simple: Where is the energy required to drive atmospheric circulation coming from? And the answer is held in the composition of the air that carry that which we measure as temperature. Albedo can make the ice to melt but can not warm up dry air. If the temperature at the Arctic circulation increases is because it carries a molecular composition which carries and retains energy. And since high temperatures over the Arctic melt ice and reduce albedo, there is less energy being radiated into the atmosphere so the temperature measured over the Arctic  has to come from circulation introduced by mid-latitudinal intrusions.

But that is just the beginning of a process resultant from seeing mid latitudinal circulation invading Arctic circulation due to an overload on its energy pool. All the weather events seen in the recent years and the location for those events point to corroborate my previous assessments, either directly or indirectly (also here and here). Moreover, if my take over the present developments is accurate, what comes after is what will make things interesting.

So far, the most of the feedback reactions we see put in contact masses of air moving horizontally. If my assessments are correct, that will be only over a period of transition. Simultaneously, a new scape path will generate interferences over the atmospheric circulation in altitude due to energised adiabatic forcing. Such processes have already been observed and called stratospheric sudden warming events. A process which, moving from the bottom up, disturbs the configuration of the Polar Vortex.

Since my assessments apply common sense and basic science to analyse unsettled science, it is open for discussion.

Unsettle ConScience

The opposite of an unsettled conscience is not a good conscience but a conscience which is either fulfilled with aspirations or comfortably numb on ignorance.

If science can be defined as settled, and with it the need for scientists to exist by demand, those like me, working towards finding a position in research, committed to improve the understanding over our surroundings, trying to make a change, we will have to accept science as a hobby and assume that pursuing scientific knowledge is not reliable enough to offer a stable career prospect. But furthermore, a country without scientists will shape a society unable of driving its own development.

Even if I am not among the ones, I want to live in a society where science and scientists are not considered dispensable. And those in position to take decisions which drive the well been of its members are formed enough to understand the implications behind carrying gaps of knowledge as baggage.

That also requires for the scientific community to reduce their focus on piling up articles with no practical value but increasing their own CVs and become more interactive with other people from inside and outside academia so their functionality gets integrated in all levels of society as it happens with all the disciplines of knowledge generated in medicine.

Some Previous publications on this subject:

Science, scientists, researchers, policy-makers, and the rest of society. (by Diego Fdez-Sevilla) (28 Nov 2013)

Cultural cognition and the role it plays in polarizing debates. (by Diego Fdez-Sevilla) (3 Feb 2014)

The scope of Environmental Science and scientific thought. From Thought-driven to Data-driven, from Critical Thinking to Data Management. (by Diego Fdez-Sevilla) (26 June 2015)

The Language of Science ( by Diego Fdez-Sevilla) (10 Nov 2015)

In climate it is becoming Less probable to not have a High probability. (by Diego Fdez-Sevilla) (29 May 2015)

Talking about climate (by Diego Fdez-Sevilla) (12 May 2015)

Domesticating Nature. (by Diego Fdez-Sevilla) (7 May 2015)

New insides on old concepts (by Diego Fdez-Sevilla) (23 Dec 2015)

Atmospheric Circulation and the Mixing Zone. (by Diego Fdez-Sevilla) (26 May 2016)

_________________________________

The aim of publishing my work openly is to allow for it to be exposed for an open review. So any constructive feedback is welcome. After a period of time of at least a month from the publishing date on this blog and at LinkedIn, if no comments are found discussing the value of the piece published I then publish it at ResearchGate generating a DOI for posterior references.

In order to protect my intellectual rights, more assessment in depth and the statistical and numerical analyses that I have performed to support my arguments can be discussed at my email: d.fdezsevilla(at)gmail.com

The performance of my work as independent researcher, with no institutional and economic support, is limited by my lack of access to resources and economic stability. So far what I have published in this blog is what I have been able to offer with those limitations.

If you find that my work is worthy to be acknowledged, share your thoughts openly and publicly because by sharing public acknowledging over the value of my work is what will overcome the limitations of my cv in order to find the attention from those able to allow me access to a job position or resources to increase the functionality of my research.

PerspectiveSince October 2013 I have been studying the behaviour of the Polar Jet Stream and the weather events associated as well as the implications derived into atmospheric dynamics and environmental synergies.

Many of the atmospheric configurations and weather and climate events we see these days are very similar with the progression followed since 2013. Please take a look at posts addressing those events from previous publications in this blog or look at the categories in the top menu. Also at research-gate. Feedback is always welcomed either in this blog or at my email (d.fdezsevilla(at)gmail.com). All my work is part of my Intellectual Portfolio, registered under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License,  WordPress.com license and it is being implemented at my profile in researchgate. I will fight for its recognition in case of misuse.

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About Diego Fdez-Sevilla, PhD.

Citing This Site "Title", published online "Month"+"Year", retrieved on "Month""Day", "Year" from http://www.diegofdezsevilla.wordpress.com. By Diego Fdez-Sevilla, PhD. More guidance on citing this web as a source can be found at NASA webpage: http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/bibliography/citations#! DOIs can be generated on demand by request by email: d.fdezsevilla(at)gmail.com for those publications missing at the ResearchGate profile vinculated with this project. Author´s profile: Bachelor in General Biology, Masters degree "Licenciado" in Environmental Sciences (2001, Spain). PhD in Aerobiology (2007, UK). Lived, acquired training and worked in Spain, UK, Germany and Poland. I have shared the outcome from my previous work as scientific speaker in events held in those countries as well as in Switzerland and Finland. After couple of years performing research and working in institutions linked with environmental research and management, I find myself in a period of transition searching for a new position or funding to support my research. In the present competitive scenario, instead of just moving my cv and wait for my next opportunity to arrive, I have decided to invest also my energy and time in opening my own line of research showing what I am capable of. The value of the data and the original nature of the research presented in this blog has proved to be worthy of consideration by the scientific community as well as for publication in scientific journals. However, without a position as member of an institution, it becomes very challenging to be published. I hope that this handicap do not overshadow the value of my work and the intellectual rights represented by the license of attribution attached are respected and considered by the scientist involved in this line of research. Any comment and feedback aimed to be constructive is welcome. In this blog I publish pieces of research focused on addressing relevant environmental questions. Furthermore, I try to break the barrier that academic publications very often offer isolating scientific findings from the general public. In that way I address those topics which I am familiar with, thanks to my training in environmental research, making them available throughout my posts. (see "Framework and Timeline" for a complete index). At this moment, 2017, I am living in Spain with no affiliation attachments. Free to relocate geographically worldwide. If you feel that I could be a contribution to your institution, team and projects don´t hesitate in contact me at d.fdezsevilla (at) gmail.com or consult my profile at LinkedIn, ResearchGate and Academia.edu. Also, I'd appreciate information about any opportunity that you might know and believe it could match with my aptitudes. The conclusions and ideas expressed in each post as part of my own creativity are part of my Intellectual Portfolio and are protected by Intellectual Property Laws. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial conditions. In citing my work from this website, be sure to include the date of access. (c)Diego Fdez-Sevilla, PhD, 2017. Filling in or Finding Out the gaps around. Publication accessed 20YY-MM-DD at http://www.diegofdezsevilla.wordpress.com/
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47 Responses to Settled Science (by Diego Fdez-Sevilla, PhD.)

  1. jaimesal says:

    Great Summary of your thinking, Diego. Congratulations!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Besides all the visits that I see coming into my blog (you can see in the sidebar on the right the centers with syndicated visits, 10 times that are anonymous visits), the level of isolation at which I get from silence makes your words deeply appreciated. Thanks sincerely.

    Like

    • jaimesal says:

      Diego: Up to now, I see 72 followers are reported by WordPress as following you. This number will increase. Keep it up, Diego!

      Liked by 1 person

      • There are more followers coming back than what the followers number says (from bookmarks, RSS feeds, alerts, …). Among those anonymous visitors are members of institutions involved in research publishing papers. What I miss here is interaction and acknowledgement. Exposing my work is about generating a contribution exploring in an open review my research, since I can not have a review in peer review journals without being part of a research institution myself.
        Seeing that kind of silence on my work from visits arriving from research centers over the years since I proposed my assessments on the dynamics in atmospheric energy pools is too intriguing to be consider mere apathy.
        In the digital media is so easy to find criticism that finding silence is just surprisingly annoying. Even more when that is my only option to interact with other researchers because I can not afford to pay in order to attend to conferences.
        And that is my frustration.
        I can only hope that the value of my work, somehow, will speak loud enough and reach enough people to overcome my limitations.

        Like

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