State Climatologist? Yeah, let's have one, says Avakian.

As BlueOregon readers know, Oregon doesn't have a State Climatologist. Of course, that hasn't stopped global-warming crackpot George Taylor from claiming the title.

Now, State Senator Brad Avakian (D-Beaverton) and Governor Ted Kulongoski want to create the position of State Climatologist.

KGW's Vince Patton has some hard reporting:

Taylor has held the title of "state climatologist" since 1991 when the legislature created a state climate office at OSU. The university created the job title, not the state. ...

In an exclusive interview with KGW-TV, Governor Ted Kulongoski confirmed he wants to take that title from Taylor. The governor said Taylor's contradictions interfere with the state's stated goals to reduce greenhouse gases, the accepted cause of global warming in the eyes of a vast majority of scientists.

“He is Oregon State University's climatologist. He is not the state of Oregon's climatologist,” Kulongoski said. ...

Sen. Brad Avakian, (D) Washington County, is sponsoring the bill. He said global warming is so important to state policy it's important to have a climatologist as a consultant to the governor. He denied this is targeted personally at Taylor. "Absolutely not," Avakian said, "I've never met Mr. Taylor and if he's got opinions I hope he comes to the hearing and testifies."

Kulongoski said the state needs a consistent message on reducing greenhouse gases to combat climate change. The Governor says, "I just think there has to be somebody that says, 'this is the state position on this.'"

Read the rest. Contact Brad Avakian to express your support.

Discuss.

Comments

  • TR (unverified)
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    It also appears the Governor wants to limit, restrict and stifle free speech too. Maybe he should put a sock in it!

  • TheGuy (unverified)
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    Anthropic global warming hasn't got a scientific leg to stand on. CO2 rises in ice cores are due to global warming, not the other way around. AGW posits effect before cause. Even at the highest possible concentration, CO2 goes from 0.3% to 0.5% is anyone stupid enough to think that tiny increase will actually affect the course of our weather. Oh, I guess we already know the answer to that: the UN is stupid enough.

  • brett (unverified)
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    Re the previous comment, I must have missed the part where the governor wanted to have the OSU prof arrested. He's still free to say whatever he wants, on his own time, however misiniformed. The guv apparently just wants to be sure that if an alleged scientist is speaking in the name of the state, he should be actually be chosen by the state's elected leaders.

    It would be nice if his "official" statements (and people will take them that way if he claims to be the state climatologist) actually reflected the overwhelming consensus of real, disinterested scientists who aren't on the payroll of energy companies. Is it too much to ask that a "state" scientist's views reflect actual science?

  • Delia (unverified)
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    How do you figure creating a real state climatologist limits and restricts free speech? Taylor would still be free to spout off as much as he wants, and he could presumably still use OSU as his platform. Maybe he could even get ExxonMobil to funnel him a little money for his fake research. He just wouldn't be able to claim he represents the state of Oregon when he does it. Or not without getting sued.

  • (Show?)

    "Even at the highest possible concentration, CO2 goes from 0.3% to 0.5% is anyone stupid enough to think that tiny increase will actually affect the course of our weather. Oh, I guess we already know the answer to that: the UN is stupid enough."

    ...as are all of the top climate scientists in the world, apparently.

  • State Sarcasm Czar (unverified)
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    George Taylor should be transferred to the English Department where he can hone his skills in Science Fiction.

    He should also join the coaching staff of the OSU Basketball Team where he can use his eminent skills of deduction to figure out why their defense in the paint isn't so hot.

    And while he's looking for ways to contribute to society he might offer a lecture to the infamous OSU Forestry Department about the vlaues of academic freedom.

    Or he could just as well quit OSU right now and go shill for Shell full-time without all the distractions of acedemic rigor or public scruitiny - oh, wait, that IS just like OSU.

  • Joe12Pack (unverified)
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    How dare a scientist- an educated, experienced climatologist to be precise- question the prevailing opinions/agenda of a political movement on the subject of climate change.

    Get on the bandwagon or be smeared, vilified and place your livelihood in jeopardy. Smells real similar to tactics recently employed by a current administration in response to any who dared question the wisdom of their agenda.

    My purpose is not to argue the validity of global warming theories here, but to state a simple truth: Any science tainted by politics (or religion, etc.) is bad science. I don't care if you're advocating for a cleaner world or happen to be a prolific polluter looking to lighten restrictions. Much like religion, ulterior political agendas invalidate the scientific process. Critical thinking, reason and honest open debate are a must.

  • (Show?)

    12pack said:

    "How dare a scientist- an educated, experienced climatologist to be precise- question the prevailing opinions/agenda of a political movement on the subject of climate change."

    I agree! So you support the Governor's attempt to squelch the political movement attempting to argue against the facts of climate change, and disassociate Taylor's ideological posturing to prevent muddying the state's scientifically based position? Whew! Join the rest of us!

    Is it too much to hope that you feel the same way about the non-science of "intelligent design?"

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    I admire the spirit with which the State of Oregon, as opposed to Oregon State, is attempting to stake out the fact-based universe around Corvallis. Professor Taylor should just be happy he's got tenure and an endless supply of young minds to warp. As if the coke didn't do it already.

    But this is great news. Why, next, there'll be a Chief Forester!

  • lin qiao (unverified)
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    Professor Taylor should just be happy he's got tenure

    George Taylor is neither a professor nor tenured. Check the OSU College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences website.

  • Robert Harris (unverified)
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    Just a short story about Mr. Taylor.

    I was trying a case where the weather in a particulat area was an issue. In order to establish this fact, I subpoenaed Mr. Taylor, who advertised himself as the State climatologist, asking him as the custodian of the public records to bring them to court to verify them. When you subpoena pubic records there is only a standard $40 witness fee from the custodian.

    His response to my subpoena? "You are asking for an expert opinion, and my fee is $125/hour" (this was 1997, so double taht for today). I guess when it comes to fees, he clearly understands he has no official government position.

  • (Show?)

    By all means, lets take the actual work of state climatologist (maintaining and providing climate records for Oregon), divorce it from the title "State Climatologist" and give the title to someone whose job is strictly political.

    Oh yeah, that's a great way to gain credibility for Oregon in the discussion over what to do about global warming.

    Had I known Ted was such an admirer of the Bush administration's approach to science I would not have voted for him again.

  • Brian Hines (unverified)
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    The key issue here is that the position of "state climatologist" isn't authorized in any state statute. Taylor serves as head of the Oregon Climate Service. Apparently the dean of the College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences gives Taylor the title of state climatologist, which lets him be recognized as such by the American Associate of State Climatologists.

    But he has no standing as a spokesman for the state of Oregon. So when he uses the title of "state climatologist," that's misleading. He's the OSU climatologist. He's the head of the Oregon Climate Service. No way does he speak for the state on climate matters.

    Hopefully Avakian's efforts will clean up the confusion. We need someone in this position who doesn't spout nonsense about climate change. See my blog post about how Taylor flunks Climate Change 101.

  • (Show?)

    The key issue has nothing to do with titles being authorized by state statute.

    The problem is that people assume the state climatologist is something that it isn't. The state climatologist is not a spokesperson for the State of Oregon. The state climatologist is not necessarily a climate researcher nor an expert on any particular climate issue, of which global warming is just one example.

    The state climatologist is the guy who maintains the climate records for the state and provides that information to the public, i.e., in Oregon, the head of the Oregon Climate Service. I'm not a member of the American Association of State Climatologists and can't speak for them but I suspect that the fact that he's doing the core job that state climatologist's do might have something to do with why they recognize him as the Oregon state climatoligist.

    State climatologists obviously sometimes also do other things. Some of them are climate researchers. Some of them may even be official state spokespeople. The common denominator is that all of them are charged with maintaining the climate records for their state and providing climate information based on those records.

    What you are promoting is taking the title "State Climatologist" and making it officially mean something different in Oregon from what it means everywhere else.

    That should be real helpful in the long run.

  • TR (unverified)
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    “How do you figure creating a real state climatologist limits and restricts free speech?”

    If a person is appointed by the governor to an official title of State Climatologist, the person must answer to and agree with the governor to keep his or her job. Science then becomes politically motivated and distorted. Appointing an official State Climatologist is buying a scientific opinion that must agree with the governor’s opinion. The science of climatology is not an absolute. Opinions vary, even from those within the field that have similar credentials. It is important to free speech the state listen to all of sides of an issue, and not simply just purchase a theory the governor agrees with off a shopping list for the purpose of filling a bought and paid for position that can then be used to dictate an official and politically motivated policy. This could be called imbedded social engineering. Giving a person the official title of State Climatologist is a way of manipulating influence and therefore interferes with constitutionally guaranteed free speech.

  • Joe12Pack (unverified)
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    "We need someone in this position who doesn't spout nonsense about climate change."

    TRANSLATION: We need a mouthpiece who will parrot our political agenda regardless of his/her own opinions of available scientific data and proposed theories. What were really after is more of a political spokesman than an actual scientist, but one who can play one on TV.

  • (Show?)

    You have to love the up-is-down world of global warming deniers. The guy who is not even a climatologist, much less the "State Climatologist," is the "scientist." The "political agenda", on the other hand, is the scientifically validated conclusion held by 99% of actual climatologists.

    I also like how doretta believes that Teddy the K will behave exactly like the Bush administration, and subvert science to politics--to the extent that it's apparently inevitable. Pffffft.

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    Inevitable, TJ? Talk about up is down. What a state climatologist does is a lot easier to specify with some certainty than almost anything about global warming yet you have no problem ignoring that reality.

    If the guv reserves the title "state climatologist" for someone other than the guy who is maintaining and providing climate records in Oregon because he doesn't like the political opinions of the guy whose job that is, then he has already behaved like the Bush administration--engaged in doublespeak, assaulted free speech and announced that he doesn't mind distorting reality for political purposes.

    This is not the progressive community's finest hour. It's a sorry day on BlueOregon when Joe12Pack is right on the money.

  • (Show?)

    One question, Doretta. Does George Taylor have an advanced degree in climatology?

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    How could Taylor be the "state climatologist," when he's not even a climatologist to begin with? He's a WEATHERMAN.

    Your writing is highly distorted here. No one is asserting political motives except for anthropogenic deniers. And since they're helpless on the scientific facts, it's THEIR motives that are nakedly political. All the governor's trying to do is stop a guy from claiming he's the state's climatologist when he's not, particularly when he's not touting science while he does it.

  • Joe12Pack (unverified)
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    "It's a sorry day on BlueOregon when Joe12Pack is right on the money."

    Ouch! I have received some backhanded compliments in my day, but that one stung a bit.

  • Antares (unverified)
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    George Taylor should be transferred to the English Department where he can hone his skills in Science Fiction.

    Yeah? And your expertise in climate science is???

    There are many open questions about the climate at this point, and about the computer models that many of the warming claims are based on. Science is not a social project based on "consensus." Science is based on verifiable evidence.

    Temperatures during the Medieval Warm Period were warmer than they are now -- before the CO2 increase. What about that "inconvenient truth?"

  • (Show?)

    "Temperatures during the Medieval Warm Period were warmer than they are now -- before the CO2 increase. What about that "inconvenient truth?""

    Who cares? What does it have to do with anything?

    CO2 causes warming. CO2 rates are off the charts recently. The earth is warming.

    I agree, science is based on verifiable evidence. And the verifiable evidence is that current warming is significantly anthropogenic. Taylor has nothing to offer against that.

  • lin qiao (unverified)
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    Actually, the original posting is in error. it ought to refer to Bob Avakian.

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    Kari,

    Do you have an advanced degree in irrelevant questions or just a natural talent for them?

    No, George Taylor does not have an advanced degree in climatology.

    Does the New Mexico state climatologist have an advanced degree in climatology? No, hydrology.

    Does the South Dakota state climatologist have an advanced degree in climatology? No, meteorology, like George Taylor.

    Does the Iowa state climatologist have a PhD? No.

    You all claim George Taylor appointed himself state climatologist. Not so, the legislature authorized OSU to run the Oregon Climate Service. OSU hired George Taylor to head the Oregon Climate Service and be the state climatologist.

    The self-appointed people around here are you who demand that the state climatologist be appointed by the governor or have an advanced degree in climatology--contrary to how it actually works in the real world.

    You all have decided you know better than the American Association of State Climatologists and the National Climatic Data Center who the state climatologist for Oregon is--they agree that George Taylor is Oregon's state climatologist.

    Perhaps they know something, or possibly a lot of somethings, that you don't know?

  • (Show?)

    OK, Doretta, it sounds to me like there are plenty of state climatologists that -- odd as it seems to me -- don't have degrees in climatology.

    I stand corrected on my snark.

    However, I still think the big picture is still very valid. Oregon abolished the position of State Climatologist in 1989. Thus, we don't have one.

    He might do a bunch of the duties that a State Climatologist might do - but that doesn't make him one.

    Sort of like I do a bunch of the duties that the DPO's Official Blogger might do, if they had one, but that doesn't make me the DPO's Official Blogger. Even if I started calling myself "Oregon Democrats' Official Blogger" that wouldn't make it true. Not even if I printed up business cards, got a website, and not even if I convinced a bunch of other state party official bloggers that I was one of them...

    Only the State of Oregon can appoint a State Climatologist - or statutorily delegate that authority.

    Show me the statute where the Oregon Legislature has designated his job at Oregon State University as the State Climatologist, and I'll buy George Taylor a melted snowcone. Until then, no dice.

  • (Show?)

    I love the cute way you all "ended" the debate above without option of comments.

    Everyone has acknowledged all along that the State of Oregon has not designated an officially titled State Climatologist. Brian hasn't brought a single new fact to the debate to "end" it. The fact remains that there is a whole national structure dedicated to keeping and providing climate records. They recognize a particular person in most states as the "state climatologist" based on what that person does within that structure in that state. George Taylor is that person in Oregon.

    By your argument, if a city, county or whatever hires a guy to go out and catch stray dogs but does not officially give him the title of "dogcatcher" then the city doesn't have a dogcatcher. I suppose at this point in the "debate" you might well claim they don't have a dogcatcher but even the dogs would likely be smart enough to know better.

    No doubt you will win the political battle. The governor has all the power in this circumstance and he's annoyed. Nevertheless, in my opinion, the way you all have conducted the debate is not to your credit.

  • Bob Zybach (unverified)
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    If a recognizable model of a human can be made from five or six popsicle sticks, then a number of the current hagiarchy apparently think they can use those figures, apply vast strings of numbers and giant computers to crunch them, and then tell you where the human race will be in 30 years. That is what climate modeling is. That is why I suspect George Taylor may be upset -- his scientific training makes him a skeptic when it comes to highly politicized science, and Kulongoski's use of our tax money to send Bradbury around the State testing the politcal waters for Al Gore sure seems like politics, don't it?.

    About 15 years ago, at an international global warming/carbon sequestration at OSU, I delivered an analysis of computerized climate models as reflected by documented historical forest conditions in the western US. Other scientists from Russia, China, Canada, and the US also delivered papers at the conference, and the results were published by EPA in 1993 (I'll send a link to anyone interested). The forest predictive models that were being used at that time to reflect climate change had the same flaws noted by George Taylor and Portland's Chuck Weise for current climate models:

    a) they couldn’t accurately (or even close) predict the past;

    b) they were incredibly simplistic, given the nature and complexity of the systems they purport to predict (see "popsicle stick man");

    c) there were vast “gaps” in scale between the types of data gathered, the timeframes considered, and the long-term, global-scale predictions this stuff was claiming to produce. The problem was exacerbated by attempts to use multiple models to “span” these gaps.

    That was before Al Gore got on the problem, though, and Governor Ted rushed to his aid in Oregon. My own scientific research is in the area of western US catastrophic wildfires; my professional expertise is in reforestation and reforestation planning; and I have had some experience with computerized predictive models, including writing peer-reviewed publications on the topic. Here’s my best advice, based on those perspectives, if we want to reduce carbon emissions as quickly as possible in Oregon, and want to make good money doing it:

    1) Stop unnecessary forest wildfires — a massive source of carbon in the sky — and protect our remaining (and highly threatened) old-growth at the same time by a comprehensive and sustained effort to remove competing brush and ladder fuels.

    2) Log as many snags as possible as quickly as possible and turn them into solid wood products and electricity. The power is an off-set, but solid wood products will last longer than rotting snags–especially when they reburn. At this time there is a superabundance and unprecedented great number of dead trees in western Oregon. Their principal “function” (Conservation Biology-speak) seems to be to burst into incredibly hot and destructive flames from time to time, thereby further accelerating the carbon in the air problem, killing ever more wildlife, and destroying ever greater amounts of wildlife habitat and cultural resources. And threatening rural residents and communities, etc.

    3) Plant a lot of healthy young trees to replace the dead trees, and begin regular maintenance with prescribed fire to protect the old-growth. The people doing this work would be ideally equipped and trained and located to manage occasional wildfires, further reducing long-term operating costs.

    Trust me. If this prescription is followed, the Kulongoski crew will be boggled by the amount of carbon credits they can give to each other, and even to other states (California) and countries (Canada)! Plus, we’ll have great increases in stable, well-paid, skilled, full-time employment and good schools in our rural Oregon communities again; safe, beautiful, and attracitve forestlands; more wildlife, wildflowers, and wild berries; and a lot more carbon in our electricity, wood products, forests, and soil, and not in the air. Honest.

    Bob Zybach

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