Thursday, February 08, 2007

Execute the climate change heretics!

Over at Samizdata, Nicolas Chatford has written a delightful article citing a good number of the evil climate change deniers who must be hunted down and killed.
he UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued its long awaited pronouncement [PDF] last Friday in Paris and I am informed by the media that this most definitive of all documents closes the debate on anthropogenic climate change. Now is the time for action, no more discussion will be allowed. I have read the document, and most assuredly it does use uncompromising language ascribing recent global warming to human activity. The science in the document, which I am told was reviewed by 300 eminent scientists, at first sight appears to be impeccable, but I must admit that was a little perturbed to find on page 5 that 0.16 + 0.077 + 0.21 + 0.21 = 0.28 rather than 0.657. I must not fully understand that esoteric form of mathematics known as addition. This level of ignorance on my part clearly shows that I am incapable of judging the merits of the science on my own and I give thanks to the IPCC for taking this burden off my shoulders.

With the debate now settled, what are we to do with those scientific heretics (deniers is a much too mild a term for these dangerous individuals) who continue in their error and refuse to accept the teachings of the UN's ecumenical council of scientists. David Roberts has already called for climate change heretics to be put on trial, but he goes too far as he appears to want to punish people for heretical statements they made prior to the issuance of the latest UN writ. After all, as the earlier pronouncements from the UN's ecumenical council were not as definitive as the current one and the debate not yet closed, these unfortunate souls must be given a chance to repent from their errors before they are punished.

Following enlightened historical precedence (see Galileo), I humbly suggest that the UN create an office to be known as the Permanent Tribunal of Universal Inquiry to investigate into the views of scientists on climate change. Those who publicly repent from their errors would be given leniency, but those who maintain their heretical positions should be handed over to civil authorities for proper punishment.

Go and read the whole thing. And then go and kick Batshit...

4 comments:

JuliaM said...

"With the debate now settled, what are we to do with those scientific heretics...."

It really has become a religion with some people, hasn't it...?

Unity said...

DK:

If I can inject, as someone with a good science education, the problem with current efforts to discredit the science on climate change is that its being attacked from the wrong direction.

The science for global warming as, at least in part, a man-made phenomenon is pretty sound. Attack that and you're at best quibbling over matters of degree.

What is fundamentally less sound the predictive ability of climate change theories - go take a quick run through chaos theory and the science of non-linear equations and them realise that 'climate' is a massively chaotic system that operates at a scale far beyond the capacity of anyone to make accurate predictions about what will happen in 2 weeks time, let alone 20 years.

Put it this way. If you took the most powerful supercomputer on the planet and fed it the most sophisticated climate modelling software yet devised, and then ran simulations for the next five years, the answers you would get - in terms of accuracy - would still amount to 'how the fuck should I know?' because of the chaotic nature of the systems you're dealing with.

The climate of the earth could conceivably go completely out of kilter, with all the Malthusian effects that the climate change lobby claim... or it could simple shift around for a bit and then find a new, slightly different state of equilibrium.

We don't know for sure, and because of the chaotic nature of the systems we're dealing with, we can't know for sure.

The only thing we can be be sure is that whatever the answer is, its involves doing the kind of shit-kicking maths that frightens off even the Cosmology boys.

There is a wonderful, if probably apocryphal story of the physicist Werner Heisenberg being asked what he would ask God, given the chance.

Heisenberg reputedly replied 'What I would ask God is 'why relativity?' and 'why turbulence?'. I really think he might have an answer to the first question."

Turbulence, like climate, is one of classic cases of non-linear chaos.

Anonymous said...

Fundamentally sound? Please excuse the long quote from the Climate Audit site, but it is worth it I think:

.....One of the things which is least resistant to criticism is the metric, the “continued increase in global temperature since 1975.” Phil Jones has refused to open his data to public view, which means that it is worthless scientifically. There are a variety of problems with the individual ground stations, which are known to exist but whose total effect is unknown. There is an unknown amount of urban (more properly local) warming. In short, we don’t have a good grasp of even the dimensions of the divergence you are asking people to explain.

Another problem is that air temperature is a horrible metric, because it does not measure the energy in the air. To do that, you need to include the amount of water vapor in the air, and we have very poor figures on that.

Even ignoring the water vapor issue, we don’t even have any agreement on how to measure the “average temperature”. Should we use area-averaging, or EOF averaging? Should we average the whole world, or average each of the hemispheres individually and then average them? How do we deal with gridcells where there is no data? For coastal areas, should we use the ocean temperature or the land temperatures? For the ocean, should we use the air temperature records, or the sea temperature records? How do we deal with gridcells that contain a great variety of microclimates, perhaps at different elevations? How do we adjust for the fact that as we go further back in time, the number of stations changes? How do we deal with missing data? How many daily records must be present in a month, or in a year, to say we have enough to use? Each of these questions has no inherently “correct” answer, and each one has proponents and detractors.

Our understanding of the climate is very primitive, simply because the climate is so complex. Climate is an immense, multi-stable, driven, chaotic, optimally turbulent, constructally organized tera-watt scale heat engine, with dozens of forcings and feedbacks, both internal and external, and both known and unknown. It is composed of five major subsystems (ocean, atmosphere, lithosphere, cryosphere, and biosphere), none of which are well understood. Each of these subsystems has its own forcings and feedbacks, again both known and unknown, which affect both itself and the system as a whole.

In addition, because of the sheer size of the system, our measurements of the various phenomena have large error margins. Even with satellites, we don’t have good figures for such basic things as total upwelling radiation at different frequencies, the albedo, or the temperature of the upper atmosphere. Our scientific knowledge of the whole is so poor, and our measurements are so uncertain, that we can not predict the next month’s weather or the next decade’s climate in anything more than the most general terms.

Despite (or perhaps because of) this lack of knowledge, the rude truth is that many climate scientists seem extremely reluctant to say “we don’t know”. As a result, people expect or request that we explain extremely short-term (25 year) fluctuations in the climate. Unfortunately, given our current state of knowledge, this is not necessarily possible.

Take for example the effects of the solar magnetic field on climate. This effect is known, but is very poorly understood. Is it responsible for the recent warming? We don’t know.

And this is separate from the effect of coronal mass ejections and the solar wind on climate, which is even less understood.

Or how about the effect of land use changes? NOAA has said publicly that they may have a greater effect than CO2 changes. Are they responsible for the recent warming? We don’t know.

It is well known that there are a variety of short-term (multi-decadal) oscillations or shifts in the climate system, such as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, the Arctic Oscillation, the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation, and others. These have significant effects on the global temperature. Could one of these, or a combination of these, or other unknown oscillations have caused the recent warming? We don’t know.

Methane is not a well-mixed gas. Levels vary all over the world. It has recently been discovered that plants emit methane, perhaps a quarter of the global totals. This methane is concentrated in the lowest levels of the atmosphere. Worldwide, the planet is greening. What effect has this had on the registered temperatures, which are measured in the lowest layers of the atmosphere? We don’t know.

It has recently been discovered that plankton emit gases that cause the formation of clouds above them. What effect does this have on the climate? We don’t know.

How much has the sun’s irradiance changed since 1975? There is much scientific dispute about that question as well, because of the lack of overlap between satellites that have given different answers.

Finally, how do these (and a host of other forcings and feedbacks) affect each other? What happens if a swing in the PDO occurs at the same time as a swing in the cosmic ray intensity, or any of hundreds of other possible interactions? This we really, really don’t know.

In fact, of the 12 forcings listed by the IPCC in the Third Annual Report, the “Level of Scientific Understanding” (LOSU) of nine of them is rated as “Low”, or “Very Low” … that’s the majority of the forcings (and doesn’t even include some known forcings), yet despite that, people like yourself say “explain the historical record”. Sorry, but … we don’t know.

Now, faced with this lack of knowledge, the standard response from the AGW crowd is “it must be CO2? … but why must it be CO2? Not knowing is certainly not proof of anything. In addition, the change doesn’t fit the theoretical model of CO2 effects. Why would CO2 cause very little effect until 1975 (as evidenced by the close correlation between solar and temperature up to that point) and then suddenly cause a large effect? Why would the sun’s suddenly stop affecting the temperature in 1975? Saying “we can’t explain it, so it must be CO2? is nonsense.

So, despite the existence of a wide variety of possible explanations, I regret that I cannot offer anything that is “resistant to criticism” about what caused the divergence. We don’t even have any evidence “resistant to criticism” regarding whether the divergence is of the claimed size. It is one of the many, many unsolved mysteries of the climate. All it proves is one thing …

We don’t know.

Trixy said...

I followed that link but I got:

Nesting depth exceeds limit.

What is batshit up to, and with whom?