Saturday, September 22, 2007

AAPG recants on climate change... a little

I was at a dinner meeting/talk with a lot of oil & gas geologists (and geophysicsists) last night, and I learned that the American Association of Petroleum Geologists has revised its position statement on climate change.

For some background: as recently as mid-summer, the AAPG had an official position statement that emphasized the role of natural processes in controlling climate, both in the geologic past and in the present. It specifically mentioned things like solar forcing mechanisms (which have been disproven as mechanisms for recent climate change). It talked about needing more research (which is all well and good, but, well... there has been a lot of research already, and it's pretty darn conclusive).

In short, the old statement made geologists look bad - it made it look as though we didn't respect the work of climate scientists (who, in many cases, work in the same academic departments with geologists). And I think it made geologists look like bad scientists, period.

Well, apparently enough AAPG members complained about the statement, and it's been revised. It is still pretty conservative, talking about the need for more research. But it does include statements like:

"- AAPG supports reducing emissions from fossil fuel use as a worthy goal." (However, the statement is weakened by implying that this requires an economic tradeoff.)

"- AAPG supports the pursuit of economically viable technology to sequester carbon dioxide emissions and emissions of other gases in a continuing effort to improve our environment and enhance energy recovery."

"- AAPG supports measures to conserve energy, which has the affect of both reducing emissions and preserving energy supplies for the future."

The opening paragraph makes some pretty weak statements:

"Although the AAPG membership is divided on the degree of influence that anthropogenic CO2 has on recent and potential global temperature increases, the AAPG believes that expansion of scientific climate research into the basic controls on climate is important."

The climate change skeptics are still there... but AAPG is changing. Slowly.

[Side note: I'm not a member of AAPG; I'm more interested in rocks that are too hot for oil.]


BrianR said...

i'm one of those complaining members...there seems to be a division w/in the membership of more academic types and more business can probably guess which ones complained and are still complaining about AAPG's statement...I have a draft post about my thoughts on all this I hope to finish soon

Kim said...

I thought you were one of them. And, yeah, the position statement still isn't what it ought to be.

Do you think it's a split between academics and industry, or between the old guard and the newer guard? It strikes me that the oil industry is going to undergo a very rapid turnover in the near future - the last major hiring spree was in the early 80's, and those people are going to retire soon (if they haven't retired already). And they'll be replaced by... you. Or members of your research group. Or the people you talk to at conferences. And for anyone who has done a geology PhD since the early 90's, at least, anthropogenic global warming is a conclusion that's so solid that it's taken for granted.

BrianR said...

you're absolutely right...there is also a general division between the younger petroleum geologists and the old-school 'oil man' type of petroleum geologist...this AND the academic/industry division are superimposed on each other, complicating it even more.