Monday, November 4, 2013



Coming Climate Crisis? Consider the Past, Beware the Big Fix is a 2010 book written by Claire A. Parkinson.  Chapter 11, Compounding Social Pressures, should be required reading for all scientists and would be scientists as well as those in the publishing and grant awarding fields and members of Congress and their staffs.  It is also an excellent reference for those interested in an objective assessment of the global warming/cooling controversy.

A major social pressure affecting scientific output in some unfortunate instances is peer pressure.  The pressure is not only seen in the peer review outcomes of publication and grant results but in modified behavior by scientists as well.


While reading her book it occurred to me that a carbon sink aspect exists in the role of sperm whales (see August 31, 2013 blog on the whale’s role in fisheries production) that I did not think of when originally working on the topic in the 1970’s.  It was not part of the discussion in the joint manuscript I was working on with Dr. Patrick Kangas in 1989 (unpublished).  But it could be inferred from the massive amounts of carbon (tens of millions of tons) in the primary production by marine algae resulting from the sperm whale’s ammonia recycling role.  Recovery of sperm whale numbers to pre-whaling levels would more than double the value of the existing marine sink functioning in atmospheric carbon dioxide reduction.

The gradual rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide during the whaling years may have been as much a result of whaling as it was from the industrial revolution.

The climate concerns aside, Parkinson’s book gives remarkable insights into the way science functions.  I also want to thank Dr. Charles Heller for making the book available to me and prompting me to read it.  At the time of writing her book, Dr. Parkinson was climatologist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.  One focus of her work has been the increase/decrease seen in Arctic and Antarctic sea ice.  If you know Dr. Parkinson, please convey my enthusiastic response to her book.

Joseph G. Engemann      November 4, 2013

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