Climate Statement a Result of Study
AAPG has a climate change policy statement that is dramatically different from all other professional societies, so much so that others criticize AAPG for its differing stand.
Recent comments have questioned the process by which AAPG arrived at its position statement. AAPG put more research, member involvement and study into its policy development than any other group. AAPG’s policy statement is science-based; others appear to be opinions.
First, the AAPG organized two public panel discussions of climate change at the 1996 and 1998 annual meetings – both extremely well attended. The panels provided presentations that both support and critique anthropogenic climate influence. The first panel consisted of Robert Watson, of the World Bank, in support of human influence, and Fred Singer, a noted and well-versed critic of the concept. I was the third member of the panel, and came down more on the critic side, based on climate history.
The 1998 panel, included Richard Lindzen and Michael McCracken, U.S. Climate Program, among others. In 1997 AAPG Past President Bernold “Bruno” Hanson was asked to form a study group, the Ad Hoc Committee on Global Climate Change, which I co-chaired with him. Membership consisted of scientists who were asked to prepare reports about climate change in their areas of interest and specialty.
Over a year-long study period, a voluminous report was prepared and presented to the AAPG Executive Committee. In turn, the Executive Committee requested that the Government Affairs Committee prepare a position statement about climate change and the Kyoto Protocol, based on that study.
The Government Affairs Committee laboriously prepared a statement, after extended debate and discussion. The statement was forwarded to the Executive Committee for its review, modifications made by their request and the final statement was approved in October 1999.
Concurrently, two consecutive formal scientific sessions were held at national AAPG meetings.
The first, organized by William Harrison in 1999, was an all-day session with prominent speakers from many points of view, but focused on the science of past climate drivers and their possible roles in current change.
The second, an afternoon session held on Wednesday (the last day) of the 2000 annual meeting, drew a full crowd who stayed almost the entire afternoon. The papers were summary papers for the most part. They reported on scientific studies that evaluated past climate history in context of modern climate changes.
The AAPG book “Geological Perspectives of Global Climate Change” (2001) resulted from these sessions, as have several recent papers and responses in the AAPG BULLETIN. Members had multiple opportunities to comment or question.
No other society has given this issue comparable thought and study. I am proud of the way in which AAPG has conducted its business, as a true scientific society. Some have argued that geologists should not be in this debate. However, geologists own the study of past climates, and past climates are the rocks upon which the supertankers of computer models dealing with general circulation have foundered.
This is not a time to simply express opinions, it is a time to bring data to the table and address science. Our interest should be to defend the integrity of science in the face of contrary social agendas. If any readers are interested in my data, much of it is contained in a PowerPoint presentation that can be accessed at: http://ff.org/centers/csspp /docs/gerhardppt.ppt.
As new data are made available, my presentation changes to reflect that data.