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Environment

My Talk at NCAR--Book "Characters" in the Audience (!)

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I just got done with a great event at the National Center for Atmospheric Research here in Boulder, CO. I would estimate that 140 people attended, and I gave a talk that combined elements of my bookstore presentation on Storm World with a PowerPoint show and a number of Nisbet-Mooney slides and analyses. I spoke for about 45 minutes, after which many scientists asked questions.

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Among those scientists was William Gray, famed hurricane specialist from Colorado State University, who came down from Fort Collins for the talk. Gray is heavily featured in the book, and his name pops up in pretty much all the reviews of it. I must admit I spoke with some trepidation, having not only Gray but his onetime student Greg Holland, who directs the Mesoscale and Microscale Meteorology Division at NCAR, in the audience. Safe to say that both of these experts, who are featured in the book (and who disagree about hurricanes and global warming), know a great deal more about the science than I do! But in the event, people seemed to think I got the science more or less right. The highlight for me (and for many in the audience, I think) came when Bill Gray got up and asked his question. If I can paraphrase, in essence he asked whether the scientists who support human-caused global warming are doing so in part because of government research funding--or in other words, doesn't such funding create a strong incentive for researchers who apply for grants to assume that global warming is actually a "problem" in the first place, and build their research around that assumption? I replied that there ought to be a strong contrary incentive: Namely, any scientist who unseats the global warming consensus, who proves that it isn't a problem, ought to be able to win quite a lot of fame and renown for doing so. And so, once again, science ought to check itself... In any event the exchange was quite friendly and I was honored to have both Gray and Holland--without whom this event wouldn't have happened--in the crowd. (I'm also pleased to say that Phil Plait, of the great blog Bad Astronomy, was present.) It was certainly quite an experience to have people that you've written about giving their take on your book and asking you questions--but I think I'm a lucky author to have had that experience. And I would add that the folks who came out yesterday, many of them scientists, had a rare opportunity in that they got to see such a public interaction between a science writer and his subjects. Anyways on to Denver's Tattered Cover bookstore tonight.....

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