Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Questioning Climate Science

The more often people insist with utmost earnestness that we must follow the science, the more you suspect that they are selling snake oil. That is, that they are perpetrating a fraud by appealing to our wish to sound like rational human beings.

When we are told today to follow the science, that most often means that we must bow down and worship the sainted Dr. Anthony Fauci. And yet, Dr. Fauci is not some gadfly-- he counts among those who have been in charge of the national effort to contain the coronavirus. 

And yet, if the national effort has been less than stellar, why does no one ever suggest that Dr. Fauci bears some responsibility-- for having made contradictory statements and for having undermined national unity and purpose by setting himself up as an absolute authority. Surely, his grandstanding has undermined the authority of the president and of other experts.

After all, Dr. Fauci worships at the altar of the great goddess Hillary Clinton-- so we have reason to question his judgment. He is more fallible than infallible.

In divers posts we have pointed out, as have many others, that there is no such thing as settled science. Al Gore, that “crazed sex poodle” insists that the science is settled, so you can conclude that it is not. Since when did Al Gore become an authority on science. No less than Richard Feynman has written that science is never settled, but that it is based on skepticism. If you do not approach natural conundra with a skeptical mind you are not doing science.

Settled science is a euphemism for dogma. No more and no less.

As for the hockey stick nonsense, the projection of what will happen in the future if we do not repeal the Industrial Revolution today, the notion that science can predict the future with certainty is also untrue. As Wittgenstein once opined, there is no such thing as a scientific fact about tomorrow. There are hypotheses, predictions, even prophecies. They may be proved or disproved by future experience-- by experiments-- but they do not and cannot serve as scientific fact. 

Pretending that they are facts because they were invented by a computer program is simply nonsense.

Now, over at the Manhattan Contrarian blog, Francis Menton asks whether the claims of climate scientists stand up to scientific scrutiny. (via Maggie’s Farm)

He offers a basic proposition, namely that if we all agree that the climate is changing-- no one disputes the point-- and if the world seems to be getting warmer, can we demonstrate that the warming has been caused by human beings, by the products of industrialization, by the energy industry and because Al Gore exhales too much.

Keep in mind, the global warming theorists have glommed on to carbon dioxide as the reason for climate change-- and carbon dioxide is merely something that we all exhale. It is also plant food. Without it plants would not survive.

So, we are witnessing a moralistic crusade against industry, one that seems clearly to be driven by ideology and perhaps even by a pagan longing to worship the Goddess of Nature. We are terrified that the Great Goddess will eventually destroy us and our civilization. We believe that She will do so because we have defiled her with our polluting machines.

Anyway, Menton suggests that we evaluate the claims of these so-called scientists by judging them against a null hypothesis. In pharmaceutical research, a hypothesis is a new drug that might cure disease. The null hypothesis, also called the control, is a placebo. If, in a group of sufferers, we give some of them the new drug and some the placebo and if we see that the first group gets well while the second group stays sick, we may conclude that the drug is effective. This means that we do not determine effectiveness on the mere fact that we have handed out the drug to one group and that they have gotten well. The reason is-- the people might have gotten better for reasons that had nothing to do with the drug. The body might have cured itself by itself, etc.

When it comes to the climate scientists’ claim that human beings are causing the planet to get too hot-- where did I hear that it was good to be hot?-- the null hypothesis would be evidence that the planet, at other times in history, has gotten seriously hotter than it is today, without there being any steam engines, aluminum factories, private jets or overwrought Swedish teenagers. 

In Menton’s words:

Back to climate change. The hypothesis is “humans are causing significant climate change.” An appropriate null hypothesis would be “observed climate change can be fully explained by some combination of natural factors.” How might you test this?

The most obvious test would be to ask, in earth’s recent history, has it been warmer than the present — the present having been the subject of significant human greenhouse gas emissions? If periods in the recent past prior to human emissions have been warmer than the present, then quite obviously some combination of “natural factors” is sufficient to bring about temperatures as warm or warmer than we are experiencing.

Menton then reviews the evidence suggesting that at various times in the earth’s history, it has been significantly hotter than it is today. 

Whether 2000 years ago (the Roman Warm Period) or 6000 years ago (the Holocene Thermal Maximum), these periods clearly long preceded any significant human greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of fossil fuels. Obviously, then, some combination of “natural factors,” whatever they may be, is sufficient to cause terrestrial temperatures to increase to levels as high or higher than we are experiencing today, in the era of human use of fossil fuels.

I should mention that the two papers discussed by Alexander are just the latest of many dozens of studies giving evidence for the proposition that times in the recent geologic past — either the Medieval Warm period, or the Roman Warm Period, or the Holocene Thermal Maximum — were warmer than today. 

One might suggest that that was then and that this is now. So, we will not call them a definitive proof. And yet, they tell us that the climate changes, regardless of how many gas guzzling cars we are driving. So they ought to engender skepticism, not absolute certainty.

Naturally, climate science hysterics know about these facts and happily ignore them. Because, when you are completely convinced of the validity of a dogma, you ignore any information that would shed doubt on your dogmas.

It doesn’t make you a scientist. It makes you a fanatic.


trigger warning said...

You want science? I'll give ya science bucko, courtesy $3M of Bill Gates' billions.

In a radical - but vital and long overdue - plan to get on the right side of Earth's Climate Arc of Doom, this $3M is buying between 100g and 2kg of powdered calcium carbonate (CaCO3, aka chalk, currently priced $85-$90/ton @ Guangdong Qiangda New Materials Technology Co., Ltd.), a whole bunch of Superfancy™ gizmos, and a biiiig balloon. This is how Harvard builds a "model" of Mount Tambora, a supervolcano that erupted in 1815. Should easily scale up to a Cat 5 Crop Failure. :-D

The relatively nitoscopic amount of chalk will be released into the stratosphere to establish the creds of a new profession, "geoengineering". Which means just what you think it means. In their fevered dreams of fame and godhood, Billy and the Harvard Boyz (yes, all boyz... but with a hot Asian lab assistant!) plan to terraform... Terra.

Magic 8-Ball of Science sez: don't count on it.

NB: Ironically, CaCO3 is mined from limestone deposits, i.e., the fossilized remains of primitive aquatic creatures. It's the fossil fuel for this experiment.

Anonymous said...

"Climate Science" is not science because there is no null hypothesis.

Unknown said...

The success of Science is based on careful experimentation. It is not possible to experiment with the climate and so the predictions of warming are based on computer models. These models are very complex computer programs and contain interacting nonlinear equations.
An example of a nonlinear complication is the effect of water vapor. Warming would be expected to increase levels of water in the atmosphere. Increased water vapor means increased clouds and snow. Both of these are reflect sunlight and under some conditions, decrease temperature.
These are not intuitive and really not comprehensible by human beings. Instead they have been repeatedly regiggered to reproiduce the reports of temperature changes over the last century or so. An example of this is the previous disagreement of the models with the amount of warming in the upper atmosphere.
We should not accept the replacement of experiment with computer models.

Sam L. said...

As I keep saying, the climate has been changing ever since out planet has had an atmosphere.

hayek said...

In relation to the actual complexity of a chaotic nonlinear system which is the climate, climate models are quite crude. For example they do not include the effect of cloud formation or turbulence. There is not enough computing power currently extant to adequately model turbulence. Climate science is the one area of science where if the data does not conform to the theory, the data is then adjusted to comply.

Sam L. said...

I say we ought to take "Climate Science" into a back room and slap it around a bit. Rough it up a bit. Get it's attention... What's that? I'm in a bad mood? Aren't we all?