Monday, January 11, 2010

How's that for scientific thinking?

Those who support AGW alarmism always make the appeal to authority when backed into a corner—this goes along the lines of "well, 205,000,000,000,000 climate scientists say that it's happening, so it must be true."

Equally, when someone produces evidence that goes against the grain of AGW, the alarmists' argument goes along the lines of "well, that person isn't a climate scientist: he's a chemist/physicist/biologist/statistician, etc. [delete as appropriate]."

To which, of course, I reply that the first reference to a degree in climatology that I can find is in 2001*, so it's doubtful that any of their heroes are accredited climatologists either.

But what they really mean is that "these guys are scientists: they can think and join together the evidence, y'all.**"

So, courtesy of Bishop Hill, here's how climate scientists really think.
Most of the scientists responsible for creating the delusion still believe global warming is man-made and will be a crisis. We know this from an international survey conducted in 2008 by Dennis Bray and Hans von Storch. They surveyed 373 scientists who work for climate research institutes and appear in the climate journals that are controlled by the now-notorious Climategate gang.

Thirty-five percent responded “very much” when asked the following question: “How convinced are you that most of recent or near future climate change is, or will be, a result of anthropogenic causes?” On a scale from 1 to 7, with 1 being “not at all” and 7 being “very much,” 83 percent answered 5, 6, or 7. Only 1 percent said “not at all” and only 11 percent answered 1, 2, or 3. Answers to the question “How convinced are you that climate change poses a very serious and dangerous threat to humanity?” were similar.

Pretty scary, huh? I mean, all of these scientists are convinced that man-made climate change—not just any old, run-of-the-mill natural climate change: man-made climate change—is going to kill us all.

OK? Have you absorbed that? It's pretty crucial.

"What?" I hear you cry. "Are you changing your mind, Devil?" Hold on, hold on...
However, the Bray and von Storch survey also reveals that very few of these scientists trust climate models—which form the basis of claims that human activity could have a dangerous effect on the global climate. Fewer than 3 or 4 percent said they “strongly agree” that computer models produce reliable predictions of future temperatures, precipitation, or other weather events. More scientists rated climate models “very poor” than “very good” on a long list of important matters, including the ability to model temperatures, precipitation, sea level, and extreme weather events.

Is that an anti-climax? Sorry. It's not meant to be. Let's explain...
The reliability of climate models is important because actual global temperature records show very little warming or changes in long-term weather events — such as the frequency or severity of hurricanes — that could be attributed to human activity.

Computer models are practically the only “proof” that global warming alarmists have to support their theory and forecasts. How can scientists know that global warming is man-made and will be a crisis, while at the same time express deep skepticism towards the computer models that might support such beliefs?

The answer is that they don’t actually “know” global warming is man-made or will be a disaster; they “believe” this to be true.

In other words, these climatologists have answered a survey that illustrates that they are full of shit. Don't believe me? Try answering these questions...
  1. Do you believe that man-made global warming is going to kill us all?

  2. As a scientist, you will know that the only evidence that man-made global warming is going to kill us all comes from computer climate models.
    Do you believe that climate models are totally shit and not worth the code they are written in (do feel free to answer with reference to the HARRY_READ_ME.txt file)?

If you have answered "yes" to the both of these questions, you are either a moron or a liar. In which case, the only thing that can be verified is that you are a climate scientist.

To win your prize, please enter the actual subject of your degree into the box below.

In the meantime, as we labour under the terrible heat of the midday sun [Is this right?—Ed.], here's news of a paper showing that the proportion of CO2 in the atmosphere has not risen over the last 150 years.
To assess whether the airborne fraction is indeed increasing, Wolfgang Knorr of the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Bristol reanalyzed available atmospheric carbon dioxide and emissions data since 1850 and considers the uncertainties in the data.

In contradiction to some recent studies, he finds that the airborne fraction of carbon dioxide has not increased either during the past 150 years or during the most recent five decades.

Which would rather scupper the proposition that rising temperatures are caused by the rising proportion of CO2 in the atmosphere over the last 150 years.

It might be prudent to start asking what qualifications these climate scientists actually have: it seems that they cannot have a degree in climatology and they certainly do not seem to have any kind of ability—let alone degree—in anything approaching logical thinking.

I tell you what: let's ask them about the dead people instead...

* If anyone can find me a link to the earliest verified Climatology degree, I'd be grateful.
** Blame my wife.



UPDATE: As a commenter here pointed out, my interpretation of what this paper shows is incorrect.
He's not talking about 'the proportion of CO2 in the atmosphere', he's talking about the the proportion of CO2 that ends up in the atmosphere as opposed to being sequestered in the oceans or land biota. His conclusion is that although some studies have suggested otherwise, these sinks are in fact behaving linearly even as CO2 quantities increase.

This is indeed a problem for some of the more pessimistic models of 'climate change' but it has fuck all to do with the 'proposition that rising temperatures are caused by the rising proportion of CO2 in the atmosphere.'

Left Outside takes me to task in a rather less kind way, labelling your humble Devil his Climate Fuckwit of the Day. That'll teach me to cite papers that I haven't read, eh?

Mind you, I notice that Left Outside does not address any of the main part of the above post, i.e. the lack of faith that climatologists have in climate models and, indeed, the lack of logical thinking amongst those self-same climatologists.

Given that, would it be inappropriate to nominate Left Outside as my Disingenuous Fuckwit of the Day...?

7 comments:

fuckgrapefruit said...

Dear Evil One:

I enjoy your blog and I'm impressed that you manage to swear even more than I do.

FWIW I'm also what you might call a climate sceptic. But I'm afraid you've completely misunderstood Knorr's paper, thus making yourself look like an utter twunt. He's not talking about 'the proportion of CO2 in the atmosphere', he's talking about the the proportion of CO2 that ends up in the atmosphere as opposed to being sequestered in the oceans or land biota. His conclusion is that although some studies have suggested otherwise, these sinks are in fact behaving linearly even as CO2 quantities increase.

This is indeed a problem for some of the more pessimistic models of 'climate change' but it has fuck all to do with the 'proposition that rising temperatures are caused by the rising proportion of CO2 in the atmosphere.'

Left Outside said...

"Disingenuous Fuckwit of the Day"

oooo, you bitch [/camp]

I will have a look at your claims, although it should be pointed out that a number of weakly accurate models which all point in the right direction can sum to something mostly accurate. So scientists unhappiness with models in general may not translate to a dissatisfaction with their results en masse.

Devil's Kitchen said...

Left Outside,

"... although it should be pointed out that a number of weakly accurate models which all point in the right direction can sum to something mostly accurate."

And a stopped clock tells the right time twice a day...

Look, the climate models have never predicted the temperature accurately.

A few years ago, none of them included the decadal Pacific oscillation—that was only "discovered" when the Earth utterly failed to warm as per the models predictions.

The decadal oscillation is now (theoretically) in the models, but we don't really understand how it works.

If set up properly (not something that was particularly evident in the CRU data, e.g. Harry_Read_Me.txt), computers and computer programmes can be good for verifying existing theories and hypotheses. They are not good for discovering new data.

If you look at all of the predictions of the AGW alarmists, they have consistently been far higher than what has been recorded: if that kind of failure is convincing, what on earth is going to show people that climate models are simply not sophisticated enough that it is worth spend trillions of dollars (and killing millions of people) on the strength of them.

Quite seriously (for I take it that you are a believer), what would it take for you to realise that AGW is not the threat that it is being hyped as?

Seriously. That's not a trick question, or sarcasm or anything: what would it take to convince you?

(Bearing in mind, of course, that it's incredibly difficult to prove a negative, e.g. the world is heading for catastrophic warming.)

DK

(Your humble bitch with the saucer of milk and the handbag.)

Richard said...

Quite seriously (for I take it that you are a believer), what would it take for you to realise that AGW is not the threat that it is being hyped as?

Well, I can't speak for "Left Outside", but for me, I would basically have to see the red and blue bands on this graph swap places somehow over the next 20 years:

http://www.newscientist.com/data/images/ns/cms/dn11649/dn11649-1_688.jpg

I say "somehow" because no-one has yet even proposed a mechanism for the current warming that has stood up to scrutiny without involving anthropogenic CO2.

Also, you keep bringing up HARRY_READ_ME.txt, but what evidence do you have that it's ever actually been used for anything?

Left Outside said...

Before I come to your question, I think you might miss my point when you say a stopped clock tells the right time twice a day.

What can look like a number of results which are fairly weak, if you analyse these statistically (as done with meta-analyses of clinical trials), they can point to firmer conclusions than each individual one can. I'm furiously looking through Ben Goldacre for the bit I want for my post in response.

"Quite seriously (for I take it that you are a believer), what would it take for you to realise that AGW is not the threat that it is being hyped as?

Seriously. That's not a trick question, or sarcasm or anything: what would it take to convince you?"

Interesting question (Nice use of the loaded phrase "believer" too, but I'll skate over that).

First of all, there's a number of things which have informed my view, so I should go over that. Then there are reasons why I find "my" side more reputable than your side. And then there's what it would take to change my mind.

One of the first thing I should say is that like you I am no scientist; I'm a humanities graduate for crissake. But I do have maths and chemistry A levels, good ones too, and a healthy interest in science. This means that a direct appraisal of the data did not influence my view and nor will it change my mind. I don't have the expertise to look at it or draw conclusions from it.

What has informed my view is the number of people I have known that have worked and been educated in geology, oceanography and other physical science who - while maintaining a healthy scepticism - all betrayed no doubt that AGW was genuine. My discussions with these people have led me to believe, that although not perfect, there is enough evidence and theory to back up AGW. I am somewhat defering to their expertise.

There is also the articles on the subject form papers like the New Scientist or The Economist. There are also the IPCC reports which contain a reasonable summary of the work up until this point on AGW. Again, I am defering to their expertise.

Left Outside said...

So the weakness you point out like the lack of knowledge on the pacific oscillation are major, but as you also point out they are being ticked off and embedded into the new models.

For me to change my mind a lot of others would have to do so first. Its not that I'm not a free thinker, but I have to get my information from somewhere. I like to follow the evidence, and at the moment there is more evidence one way than the other. The blogosphere can be shill and often wildly incorrect so only some of my knowledge will ever come from here.

Also, there would have to be a shift in who was saying these things. Because I don't trust most of those on "your" side. For example, the poor quality of the experts provided and so on. I appreciate that there are some rather large interest groups - like Goldman Sachs designing the carbon credit market - on the pro-AGW side, but there has been an uphill battle to get the issue recognised against a lot of unscrupulous people.

The climategate e-mails contain some pretty unpleasant things, but not unbelievable, scientists are flawed like the rest of us. There's a lot of information in there which was badly misconstrued, but things like Harry Read Me are obviously concerning. However, the weight of evidence still seems on the pro-AGW side.

I'm not qualified to evaluate the flaws in the models used, and I cannot pretend to be. But there are obviously things which could begin to change my mind. The difficulty of reading past temperatures is obviously one, as is the dark area surrounding feedback mechanisms. Arguments about a medieval warm period which was mostly focussed on the North Atlantic don't particualrly move me.

Bit of a jumble, it would take a lot to change my mind. The fact the the 00s were the hottest decade on record and that the gulf stream has gone walkies isn't good for "your" side though. Richard said it shorter I suppose, but in a flame war there's no reason not to be thorough.

Simon Jester said...

LO,

Given your scepticism of the blogosphere, it's kind of ironic that your only source for the assertion that the "gulf stream has gone walkies" is the Daily Kos!