Climate Dialogue guest blog

Launch of ClimateDialogue.org
Exploring different views on climate change

Goal of ClimateDialogue.org
ClimateDialogue.org offers a platform for discussions between invited climate scientists on important climate topics that have been subject to quite intense scientific and public debate. The goal of the platform is to explore the full range of views currently held by scientists by inviting experts with different views on the topic of discussion. We encourage the invited scientists to formulate their own personal scientific views, so they are not asked to act as representatives for any group in the climate debate.

Obviously, there are many excellent blogs that facilitate discussions between climate experts, but since the climate debate is highly polarized and politicized, blog discussions between experts with opposing views are rare.

Background
The discovery, early 2010, of a number of errors in the Fourth IPCC Assessment Report on climate impacts (Working Group II), led to a review of the processes and procedures of the IPCC by the InterAcademy Council (IAC). The IAC-report triggered a debate in the Dutch Parliament about the reliability of climate science in general. Based on the IAC-recommendation that ‘the full range of views’ should be covered in the IPCC-reports, Parliament asked the Dutch government ‘to also involve climate skeptics in future studies on climate change’.

In response, the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment announced a number of projects that are aimed to increase this involvement. Climate Dialogue is one of these projects.

Topics
We are starting Climate Dialogue with a discussion on the causes of the decline of the Arctic Sea Ice, the timing of the first year that the Arctic will be ice-free and the question to what extent this decline can be explained by anthropogenic global warming. In its Fourth Assessment Report in 2007, IPCC anticipated that the Arctic will be ice free in summer by the end of this century. Since then several studies indicated that (near) ice-free conditions could be reached for the first time in 2030-2050, or even earlier.

We invited three experts to take part in the discussion: Judith Curry, chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology; Walt Meier, research scientist at the National Snow & Ice Data Center (NSIDC) at Boulder, Colorado, and Ron Lindsay, Senior Principal Physicist at the Polar Science Center of the University of Washington in Seattle.

Future topics that will be discussed will include: climate sensitivity, sea level rise, urban heat island-effects, the value of comprehensive climate models, ocean heat storage, and the warming trend in the past few decades.

Our format
Each discussion will be kicked off by a short introduction written by the editorial staff, followed by a guest blog by two or more invited scientists. The scientists will start the discussion by reacting to each other’s arguments. It is not the goal of Climate Dialogue to reach a consensus, but to stimulate the discussion and to make clear what the discussants agree or disagree on and why.
To round off the discussion on a particular topic, the Climate Dialogue editor will write a summary, describing the areas of agreement and disagreement between the discussants. The participants will be asked to approve this final article, the discussion between the experts on that topic will be closed and the editorial board will open a new discussion on a different topic.

The public (including other climate scientists) is also free to comment, but for practical reasons these comments will be shown separately.

The project organization consists of an editorial staff of three people and an advisory board of seven people, all of whom are based in the Netherlands. The editorial staff is concerned with the day-to-day operation of researching topics, finding participants for the discussion and moderating the discussions between the experts. The main task of the advisory board is to guard the neutrality of the platform and to advise the editorial staff about its activities

Editorial Staff
Project leader is Rob van Dorland of the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI). Van Dorland is a senior scientist and climate advisor in the Climate Services section and is often operating at the interface between science and society.

The second member is Bart Strengers. He is a climate policy analyst and modeler in the IMAGE-project at the PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL) and has for many years been involved in the discussion with climate skeptics.

The third member is Marcel Crok, an investigative science writer, who published a critical book (in Dutch) about the climate debate.

Questions
We welcome comments on this blog and are happy to answer any questions regarding this project. You can send an email to info [at] climatedialogue [dot] org.

Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 14 November 2012

 

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