I was invited to give a talk to CHASE - Cambridge Hi-tech Association of Small Enterprises - nice people even if they haven't quite got round to updating their web site yet :-) The subject was to be global warming - no problem - and wikipedia. The later I've never tried talking about, and found it a bit of a puzzle as to what they wanted and what to say. The talk-in-two-halves is here, and to buff up my rather tarnished open-source credentials I've put it up as a .sxi only. As you can see, the GW bit is only slightly altered from before (apart from a dramatic and startling new paper by Lachlan-Cope and Connolley on tropical teleconnections to Antarctica, which I didn't include, there is little that needs updating). As usual, I only had time to talk a little about the various common objections: this time audience reaction picked "The Day After Tomorrow Will Not Happen". People love these pseudo-paradoxical things far too much.
But on to the wiki bits. I tried "how many people have used wiki" - most people put their hands up; "how many have edited" - quite a few; maybe 1/3 - 1/2; "how many have an account - only 3 I think. One of the questions they were interested in was "can we get our commercial stuff on?" though not phrased quite so nakedly. The answer is commerical objects are allowed, if notable, but having yourself deleted (or even just voted on) for non-notability can be painful. After that I moved on to the structure that makes wiki work, which was also to their commerical interests, since creation and understanding of online communities is a bit of a thing. The exciting details of admins, RFC, Mediation and a deep understanding of the Arbcomm I leave to some other post.
The best bit was questions-and-wine afterwards, because the questions were very good, the most informed I've ever had. Many focussing on sea level rise (since we live in and near the fens) and one person in particualr thanking me for reassuring him that sea level rise wouldn't be as big as he had been lead to believe elsehwhere.
Oh, and this is nice but not at all relevant: http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-exc1.htm.
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I just made a comment on the RC Greenland topic to the effect that I hadn't heard a climate scientist working on these issues *exclude* the possibility that we might see substantial collpase of Greenland and/or the WAIS in a century or so, but now it sounds as if you may be willing to do so (or maybe it's just that the guy at the talk had heard predictions of East Antarctic collapse by next Tuesday). Prognostications please, oh icy one. :)
And say, what about that dramatic and startling new paper? Inquiring minds want to know.
[People are cautious. Who knows what "exclude" means anyway - 99% chance, 99.99, or what? I think most glacios would say they expect most of the Greenalnd ice sheet to be there in a century from now, ditto the WAIS, with a fair amount of certainty. But if you push them, they will admit that there are many uncertainties: in the T increase and the Met, and of course in the unerlying mechanisms. If I was betting, and expected to survive that long, I'd give good odds. But I'm not a glacio -W]
And exactly how much time for the melt? "Far less," says your boss: http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/story/0,,1729255,00.html . Less than what, I wonder.
Also, is it just me or has he raised his public profile quite a bit lately?
[I don't really understand the start of that article. CO2 is well mixed, so it doesn't much matter where you measure it. If there really is a big source locally I suppose it could be higher there. Its irritatingly vague though.
As for my boss... I suppose I should be somewhat cautious. Err, well, you've read what I've said elsewhere :-) -W]
I agree that the chance of a complete melt that soon *seems* small, but then again the dynamic collapse everyone's now so up in arms about *seemed* to not exist at all just a few years ago. Well, as this is all getting way more attention, I assume we'll have some firmer results soon. Of course public alarmism must be avoided in the meantime. On those 99.99% odds, I do wonder what the statistic is for house fires that causes the mortgage companies to make everyone buy insurance. Much different?
[I think that you're overselling (been oversold?) the "dynamic collapse" thing. We've seen glaciers speed up ?permanently? equivaent to maybe 0.5 mm/y in sea level. Which is 50 mm/century or 0.5 m/millenium which won't remove Greenland in a hurry. It would have to speed up a lot more - a factor of 10 - and stay sped up to get rid of Gr in even a millenium - W]
I enjoyed your talk at CHASE a lot. Although I was worried to begin with. Turning up in shorts and sandals on a wet cold night suggests that you know more about the impact of global warming than we well insulated folks
[Thanks, glad you liked it. As for the shorts, no, I'm just Hard! -W]
Actually CO2 is not that well mixed near cities and roads. That is part of the reason that Keeling succeeded while a bunch of swedes who were working near home did not. http://www.aip.org/history/climate/Kfunds.htm
You should take a look at where the current monitoring stations are located. http://cdiac.esd.ornl.gov/trends/co2/sio-keel.htm
[Thanks. BTW, this comment got held in the spam moderation Q: too many links. In case you were wondering :-) -W]