Symposium on the Public/Private Sector Partnership


Mixing Politics and Science

Peter J. Webster, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA

The 2005 Atlantic hurricane season was the most active and costly on record. Recent publications linking an increase in hurricane intensity to increasing tropical sea surface temperatures have fueled the debate on whether or not global warming is causing an increase in hurricane intensity. Traditionally, a debate about differences of scientific opinion would be conducted in the scientific literature and other forms of scientific discourse over a period of years, as a normal part of the scientific process and debate. However, given the substantial implications of the hurricane-global warming for society and the immediate policy relevance associated with decision making related to Hurricane Katrina, attacks and rebuttals related to this research are being made in the media and on the worldwide web without the usual scientific rigor or accountability normally expected . In this paper, we aim to: o Clarify the debate surrounding the subject as to whether or not global warming is causing an increase in global hurricane intensity, by sorting out the valid from the fallacious criticisms, addressing the valid criticisms, assessing alternative hypotheses, and identifying the outstanding uncertainties. o Illustrate a methodology of hypothesis testing to address multiple criticisms of a complex hypothesis that involves a causal chain. o Provide a case study of the impact of the media and the worldwide web on the scientific process. wrf recording  Recorded presentation

Session 4, Academic Sector
Tuesday, 31 January 2006, 1:45 PM-3:00 PM, A404

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