Welcome to EcoScienceBlog

Here I am, at the start of a brand new blog so I will begin by 
explaining what I plan to write about and why. The blog title, 
of course, gives it all away ( or it should, if I chose it well); 
EcoScienceBlog will discuss issues dear to environmentalists, 
with perhaps a little about the activists themselves but in the 
main it will try to illuminate the issues by taking a critical look 
at how people present the science (and sometimes pseudoscience) 
behind them.

This is interesting because any topic is more engaging when it is 
set in a context of clear, unbiased information and it is needed 
because in my opinion there is a lot of faulty, partial and 
downright false information out there, a lot of which comes from 
badly understood or badly misrepresented science.  
Eco activists are a passionate bunch of people, as are their 
opponents, and both sides show a tendency to pick up and hurl 
headline making factoids at each other without necessarily 
stopping to consider whether there is more truth or truthiness 
in them. 

This is all great knockabout fun but doesn't really help us to get 
to a reasoned consensus on what is after all the most important 
topic it is possible to discuss.

A good example is the reaction of one blogger to a report on the 
arrival in Californian waters of radiation attributable to the 
Fukushima plant disaster. The newspapers had picked up on the 
report and done their usual job of gleefully misreporting on what 
it actually said, leading the blogger to sound a panicky alarm 
that we would all be glowing in the dark by christmas. 
It didn't take long to find and read the actual report, which of 
course said nothing remotely like the news reports, and I was able 
to point out that in order to exceed the safe annual dose, it 
would be necessary to drink two metric tonnes of seawater every day 
for a year! No need to move to Arizona after all.

And that is the point of this blog: so much of what we see and hear 
comes from repetition of badly understood second hand information 
when the primary sources of information are right there in front of 
us for anyone to find, if only they would take the trouble to find 
them. I plan to find and explain these primary sources to the best 
of my abilities.

Which, brings me to my qualifications for the task. I am asking you 
to accept me as the arbiter and interpreter of complex subjects so 
it's only fair that I let you examine the cut of my jib. I am not a 
professional scientist, nor am I a professional writer. I have, 
however been an engineer and engineering manager for many years and 
have had the privilege of leading a wonderful group of researchers 
working at the leading edge of high performance computing and 
machine vision, among other things. 
I still work in the high tech industry, so you will occasionally get 
an insight into my unofficial opinions where others still need to 
pay for the privilege of getting the 'official' version. 

Because of this background, while I might not have direct knowledge 
of an issue, I know where to find the information, and I know how to 
read and understand a graph (basic skills not always possessed by 
activists on either side of the debate). With a toolkit comprised of 
a solid scientific education and a healthy dose of skepticism, I 
hope to cleanse the Augean stable of its accumulated ordure 
(without diverting any rivers - heaven knows what that would do 
to the spawning salmon!)

I am looking forward to this, even though I am aware that the number 
of bloggers exceeds the number of atoms in the universe. 
Well, perhaps not but there is the risk that I will be talking to 
myself. I hope not because this is an important subject and I plan 
to make it interesting enough to start a rewarding conversation. 

Talk to me in the comments and let me know how I am doing.
This entry was posted in Introduction and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Welcome to EcoScienceBlog

  1. Michael Bear says:

    Excellent–you are a paragon of calm scientific reasoning–as always!


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