WCRP Director David Carlson resigns from WCRP. This is his message to the WCRP Community, partners and friends:
For personal reasons and with the welfare of WCRP in mind, I will resign as Director of the Joint Planning Staff for WCRP effective30 June 2017. I hope that I have helped sharpen WCRP’s grand challenges, supported the core projects and their international project offices, and injected fresh ideas. I have certainly recruited and enjoyed working with a talented JPS staff. I can not predict the near- or long-term arrangements for WCRP nor how the outcome of the ongoing review might impact those arrangements. I do know that the innovation, creativity, energy, persistence and insight of climate researchers, accompanied by admirable traditions of international collaboration and open access to data and model products, represent a vital resource as society confronts the urgent challenges of our changing climate.
Even as we apply our skills and tools to careful detection, quantification and prediction of change we remain too firmly wedded to existing structures and acronyms. Perhaps we require a base of organisational stability from which to explore an unstable climate. Perhaps our acronyms offer comfortable collegial nests in which we work somewhat protected from bureaucratic nonsense or external ennui and hostility. We must persistently question our internal structures just as much as we persistently press for improved models or improved understanding. We must not confuse persistence with perfection nor proclaim our present practices as optimal. Young scientists often offer critical views of existing practices and the most useful suggestions for change.
I have watched uneasy relationships between climate and weather communities for most of my career. At this moment weather and climate researchers use very similar modelling approaches and focus on mutually-interesting seasonal and decadal time scales. Climate research also requires intimate connections to paleoclimate and to marine and terrestrial ecosystem processes. We must incorporate human footprints into our understanding and models, particularly human impacts on land and fisheries and emergence of massive urban centres. Machiavelli, drawing from Latin and Greek sources, identified ‘divide and conquer’ as an effective military strategy. Too often in science, through our behaviours, practices and policies, we divide ourselves.
If ever a research programme needed to demonstrate attention to its carbon impact, WCRP needs such an effort. We started a useful discussion at the CMIP meeting in Dubrovnik. JPS then developed some carbon impact tools for assessing meeting travel. As a community we have not yet accepted nor confronted the need to reduce our carbon impact. I do note that at least one of our grand challenges has so far conducted all of its affairs via teleconference.
I would like to contribute to local transportation planning and improvements in Bozeman MT and to take a serious interest in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem. I hope to minimise personal carbon emissions and contribute to regional protection and maintenance of carbon sinks. I plan to test ideas about how to measure CO2 from my bicycle. I will remember many friends in science with great fondness. And of course you can promote open access by publishing your data in ESSD!
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