Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The trouble with politics

Yesterday I suggested that all environmental issues are fundamentally political in nature, not scientific. On that theme, here are two posts that underscore the problem with politics.

First, we get the government we elect. Which wouldn't be so bad except for the fact that the people who most want to govern are those least suited to it.

Second, everything in politics is in the language and the words that are used. Politics is not say what I mean, mean what I say and do it. Politics is say what will be heard, obscure what is meant and do what suits the purposes of those who have control: what can be successfully sold and imposed on others? How else can we explain a Human Rights Council for the UN where the worst offenders on human rights not only sit as members but dictate responses and shield abuses?

I have written about the situation in Dafur before: suffice it to repeat the basic message -- today it is Dafur, tomorrow it will be some other unfortunates. The problems of the world are not imperialist ambition from any one country. Rather they are the systemic indifference of those who know to acting on that knowledge in the service of those who are oppressed. When we fail to protect those least able to help themselves, we diminish all human experience.
In that respect, the UN has no equal: it is failing humans in all nations.

Perhaps this is what equality means in UNspeak: the right of all people to be exploited in the name of political expediency everywhere.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Climate change examined

Two contributions from the southern hemisphere today on climate change. The first is a paper by Bob Carter available as a PDF here. The second is by Joel Kauffman and is available here. Carter's presentation also is available on YouTube.

Both offer their summaries as to why the AGW theory for global warming is invalid, primarily as there is a non-correlation of carbon dioxide levels with warming. Both offer data that present a very different picture of carbon dioxide concentrations throughout history and have reservations about the politicization of the science on climate, especially through the IPCC process which is as much political as it is scientific.

As such, neither paper is likely to be compelling for any AGW advocate, but they do offer easily read and accessible summations for non-experts wishing to understand how, and on what scientific basis, a skeptic can depart from the prevailing IPCC dogma.

Carter posits these key questions:
  • is there an established theory of climate?
  • do we understand fully how climate works?
  • is carbon dioxide demonstrated to be a dangerous atmospheric pollutant?
  • can deterministic computer models predict future climate?
  • is there a consensus amongst qualified scientists that dangerous, human-caused climate change is upon us?
  • did late 20th century temperature rise at a dangerous rate, or to a dangerous level?
  • is global temperature currently rising?
For skeptics of AGW the answer to the above questions is: no.

In contrast, advocacy of AGW requires by-passing these questions, deriding their significance and/or the selective use of data and/or models to re-frame them to assert explanations that favour the central hypothesis of human-induced changes to climate that are potentially catastrophic.

There is a maxim that the amount of work will always expand to match the amount of time you allocate to it. It has been my experience that in academia and public policy a similar maxim holds: people who understand can present concepts in a cogent, simplified and accessible manner. Their explanations are robust, fit with common sense and do not require leaps of faith to be accepted. They present an understanding that invites your participation but does not look for you for its validation.

Conversely, pretenders, charlatans and bureaucrats practice a form of intellectual deceit, hiding behind claims of complexity, intellectual authority, disciplinary intimidation and moral presumption, to impose their truth on others. They present a dogma which they seek to enforce: compliance acting as confirmation of its central, asserted correctness. In short, they spin the science to fit their ideology, their actions justified by the significance of the ends they define. To disagree is to deny the asserted truth and commit an act of sedition.

Oh, but science isn't like that.

It is when it is politicized. And all environmental science is politicized.

Monday, January 28, 2008

How the Environmental Extremists Manipulate the Masses

Not the first time this has happened, and probably not the last, but worth noting because of its timing and significance within the debate of current policy options, here is an example of spin, environment style.

Back in the 1970s, environmentalists staged photographs of dolphins allegedly being caught in fishing nets as part of a campaign to ban tuna fishing. The images were false but were a significant contributing factor to the demise of the US tuna fishery.

Yesterday's dolphins are today's polar bears.
Charismatic mega fauna: hopefully they will be around for commercial and political exploitation for a long time.

Personally, I still think Larson did it best: sadly, too few people ever get the inherent contradiction of the interplay between polar bears (Arctic, north) and penguins (Antarctic, south). Happy feet indeed.

Watts Up With Oceans?

Following up on my post from January 18 is this latest discussion on a hypothesis from Roy Spencer that atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are a function of oceanic variations, not human influence. In very short order, this is the second major suggestion that the water cycle is driving the carbon cycle and not vice versa as assumed by AGW advocates.

The most immediate implication is that far more attention needs to be paid to understanding atmospheric/ocean interplay before we rush blindly into policy options that will exact a severe cost for no measurable gain.

The suggestions also highlight how little we really do know about the most fundamental of relationships regarding global climate patterns: clarifying cause and effect accurately is both a fairly basic and critical step that the complexity of climate dynamics makes very challenging. It also is a step outside the present mandate of the IPCC process which is tasked only to consider the effects of anthropogenic impacts on climate. A step professional climatologists take with a fair degree of caution and consideration of career and personal integrity.

Everyone keeps saying how fundamental climate is to the future of the planet. If we accept this premise, is it not also too important to constrain within a self-fulfilling prophecy and dogma that is ideologically driven rather than reflective of scientific conjecture and refutation?

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Backseat driving

Well its finally happened and its a mixed blessing. Sooner or later if you have the temerity to challenge the prevailing dogma someone will target you. My relatively small blog has escaped some of the invective sites like Desmogblog and Gristmill routinely throw at more prominent voices such as Climate Audit, JunkScience, CO2Science, IceCap, Climate Science and even Prometheus: the good folks over at Climate Resistance have been at the forefront of responding to such smear campaigns on behalf of us all.

Now it appears my under the radar days are limited as I received contact from the blog backseatdriving challenging me to bet on future global warming, with the implication being that a refusal to accept the bet is either:
  • cowardly and/or
  • a lack of commitment to my perspective and/or
  • because my views are wrong.
My concept of science comes from reading Popper, Kuhn and Wilbur. I am trying in vain to remember where betting as a strategy for refutation and conjecture fits in with either scientific method or understanding.

I posted a reply on backseatdriving indicating that I found the whole situation analogous to a grade 1 playground spat, which I must confess I never really thought was a good way to resolve disputes let alone determine knowledge. I also asked if the blog's author had responded to the long running competition on JunkScience which seems a much quicker, and easier, way for him to cash in on his beliefs.

Why is this name calling, peeing contest a mixed blessing? Well the whole bet, challenge, respond or let somebody impugn your motives thing is a no win situation (see this response,the reaction to it and further discussion posted on Jan.29 at Greenie Watch).

Instinct tells me to walk away, but experience also tells me that these ad hominem blogs revel in that. Conversely, to have attracted the smear guys in the first place means that as a blog ecomyths is attracting attention and irritating those who purvey dogma for a living.

Hopefully, that will at least will give others pause for reflection and independent thought: which is the primary purpose for the blog in the first place.

update: an excellent discussion and good links on the science by number of scientists listed game here by Roger Pielke

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Intellectual blasphemy, climate catastrophism and counterknowledge

Todays post highlights two excellent commentaries from the Spiked review of books.

In the first, Alexander Cockburn talks about the response to his perceived intellectual blasphemy when he question the climate change consensus and unleashed a tsunami of moral outrage. Cockburn finds the evidence for natural and dynamic climate change to be compelling and he is bemused as to the strength of the AGW ecomyth and its political support by groups normally more diverse in their perspective. He refers to AGW as the most prominent example of environmental catastrophism and suggests that both it, and the hope that it will lead to political change and justice, as fantasies. Indeed the effects are likely the direct opposite of what many would hope:
  • More generally, climate catastrophism is leading to a re-emphasis of the powers of the advanced industrial world, through its various trade mechanisms, to penalise Third World countries.
  • What is sinister about environmental catastrophism is that it diverts attention from hundreds and hundreds of serious environmental concerns that can be dealt with...
  • One way in which critics are silenced is through the accusation that they are ignoring 'peer-reviewed science'...Peer review is frequently a way of controlling debate, even curtailing it. Many people who fall back on peer-reviewed science seem afraid to have out the intellectual argument.
In an upcoming book, Cockburn examines the link between fearmongering and climate catastrophism.

In the second post, Damian Thompson discusses the implications for intellectual discourse that posed by ecomyths such as climate catastrophism: a fatal mixture of counterknowledge, wherein fiction replaces fact, mixed with a heavy dose of political correctness. Thompson sees counterknowledge as creating an epidemic of gullibility, with the internet as the principal media for infection and the real villains being the perpetrators of the myths:
  • ...the governments, universities, medical professionals, major publishing houses and newspapers that circulate patently false empirical claims....
  • The crucial conflicts of the future may not be between ideologies, but between fact and fantasy.
And as added confirmation of both posts, Rob Lyons has this comment on the continued efforts by the UK government to tackle the non-existent obesity epidemic.
  • In truth, however, there is no 'obesity epidemic'. What really lies behind the government's obsession with our waistlines is not a burning necessity to slim down an apparently waddling nation, but rather a deeply unhealthy urge on the part of officialdom to monitor our lifestyles and attitudes.
So how do we break out of this pattern of fearmongering, counterknowledge and intellectual intimidation? Ultimately, the solution is political. We get the government we elect (or in the case of those countries without democracy, allow to persist: yes I know overcoming oppression is not a simple process, but it is a process that has to be engaged for freedom to exist).

Political reform. Two thoughts. Firstly, what prospects are there for meaningful change within the race for the US presidency now that Fred Thompson has withdrawn? Not saying Fred Thompson is the second coming of Cicero, but his campaign did represent an alternative approach and one based on principle.

Second, this past Monday was Martin Luther King day in the United States. Is there any one political leader anywhere in the world at present with the principles and stature of a King, a Mandela, a Ghandi or Churchill?

There is a dearth of real leadership in all facets of human endeavour.
  • Leaders can accomplish little without understanding and engaging the qualities of the heart. Daniel Goleman
  • Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend. Martin Luther King Jr.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Political philosophy and policy

Enough of climate change and other irrelevancies: time to think of bigger things.

This post from Reason looks at a controversial new book that indicates the basic solution to underdevelopment rests with much higher levels of immigration within the first world. If the proposition itself is not sufficiently controversial, the fact that it is based on empirical data related to immigration levels, economic impacts and development alternatives, is certain to ensure its outright rejection by dogmatists espousing the prevailing perspective that all the third world needs is increased investment from the West.

The notion that equality is a product of state-mandated "investment" is the subject of another revealing essay by Jacob Sullum which should act as fair warning to those entertaining the notion of accepting Hilary Clinton's proposals at face value.

The common link between both articles is the understanding of how well-meaning but inherently flawed political ideology can have serious ramifications upon citizens when imposed in practice rather than being merely debated as an intellectual exercise. (Well maybe not intellectual, this is politics, but in the abstract rather than the real world with real people and lives resting on the ramifications of such myths).

The withdrawal of Fred Thompson from the US presidential sweepstakes leaves the field bereft of the one candidate who sense of self was not dependent upon winning the nomination, whatever the cost. Sadly, the choices from both parties will now be from candidates for whom principle is less binding than political expediency. And when that situation exists, simplistic solutions with strong sound bites and good media traction (visuals, film at eleven, celebrity endorsements) become the staple of policy: even when those policies both lack supporting data and run counter to empirical experience.

Shoot, now we have come full circle back to climate change!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Environmentalists: don't label them Luddites

Dialogue around environmentalism is rife with labels. Sometimes these are used to categorize and organize discussion.  Often they are used to diminish, demonize and intimidate the contribution of non-experts within dialogues. 
Here is an excellent article that both explains a commonly used categorization, Luddite, and also discusses the contemporary character of environmentalism as an ideology for change.
Environmentalism has many aspects that resonate well with most people.  But it is not a people's movement.  It remains an elitist, academic and stasist movement driven in large part by its disdain for technological advancement and the general quest for affluence, abundance, progress and democratic freedom.  Ideological environmentalism fears that we are the architects of our own demise, people can not be trusted to do the right thing, can not know the right thing and should be both censured and controlled to direct society in the correct manner: i.e. in accordance with environmentalist dogma.
The message is nicely wrapped and packaged but when pleas of "its good for us" fail as moral persuasion, greens rapidly revert to tactics of fear and the use of the state's authority to compel compliance: "we must do this or the end is nigh!".
Embedded within this ideology are two central conceits: those proposing austerity do not themselves practice it, and; the empirical data do not support the premises upon which austerity is to be foisted upon us -- there is no legitimacy to the prescribed dogma.  Environmentalism is in its barest form simply a desire to control, manage and impose a set of moral constructs on society, all the while elevating those who are central to the ethos to positions of authority and power. 
This is not empowerment of, but power over people.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Signs of pending apocalypse

There's a sporting magazine I only ever read at the doctor's office which has as a recurring item a section on signs that the apocalypse is pending. Consistent with their theme, and courtesy of some links from Icecap, here are three signs that predictions of an impending apocalypse from global warming may be a little premature:

  • contrary to many media reports, data are indicating that snowfall accumulation has doubled in Antarctica since 1850
  • global warming seems to have by-passed India this year, with record cold temperatures leading to widespread deaths, and
  • the true character of climate concern has been revealed in the US by the recognition (confirmation?) that lawyers are the world's best-paid "environmentalists", with 20 of the nation's largest law firms starting practices to advise companies on climate change...attorneys help clients finance clean-energy projects and lobby Congress.
A fourth sign was an ad I saw in an academic bulletin for a position at a Canadian university for an endowed Chair in Climate Change and Conflict.
Taken in conjunction, these snippets appear to confirm these iron laws of human behaviour:
  • you get more of what you reward, and less of what you punish
  • the less you know about something, the easier it looks, and
  • if everything is a priority, nothing is a priority.
Back in the 1970s and 80s the big push in environmentalism was waste management, especially hazardous waste. Much legislation was passed in response to lots of studies, activism, fear and several Hollywood movies about fear, villains and heroes. Over $600 billion later the post-mortem reveals that some localised situations were cleaned up, the majority of situations were of questionable risk and even less priority, and the overwhelming majority of the money was dispersed in legal fees and consultants.
So tell me again, how do carbon credits work again and just what physical difference they make?

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Not so free speech

If we can not have free speech at a university, where in our democratic system will we have it? If ideas can not be discussed in an academic setting, free of bureaucratic constraint, what is the hope for the rest of society?

These questions spring to mind when I read this post by Roger Pielke concerning a recent directive issued at his home university.

Roger is hardly an extremist in the climate blogosphere but if his voice is subject to censorship, what hope is there for the rest of us? Conform or go home apparently.

Be free to speak and lecture, just as long as you say,preach and indoctrinate the correct, approved, consensus dogma and leave all the free-thinking, skepticism, independent learning aspects of education right out.

Just when you think Orwell may have over-stated things, administrative doublespeak fills in the void and doubt, and re-affirms the necessity for individuals to stand up, think and speak for themselves. Democracy is not a right, it must be fought for and defended against those forces in society that find its activities an inconvenience to their truth.

Follow up:
John Mueller has published this excellent commentary in the Canadian University Teachers Bulletin on the integrity of academic work and the insidious way with which ideology is presumed to taint some work but be inherently absent in others.

Of course his commentary won't count academically.

Increasingly academia cares little about the message and more about the noise it is presented with and generates.

Friday, January 18, 2008

It's Water Vapour, Stupid

One of my intuitive objections to the theory of global warming has been the role of carbon dioxide as a trigger mechanism, the driver of changes in the earth's atmosphere. Yes I recognize that levels of carbon dioxide have risen from around 260 ppm to 360 ppm, but I still can't grasp how a gas that represents less than 0.04% of the atmosphere dictates the climate for the whole planet. To my mind, the world is a very complex, dynamic and deeply inter-related system: very robust, very adaptable and very resistant -- certainly, a geological time scale of several hundred million years would seem to both suggest and support this contention.

So why would a trace gas be so crucial? And when did carbon dioxide go from irrelevant to the dominant driver of climate? (For example: past geological records indicate carbon dioxide levels in excess of 7,000 ppm and no correlation with temperature; Gore's famous graph where carbon dioxide lags behind temperature changes by 800 years; and, the more recent disconnects of carbon dioxide levels from temperature changes throughout the past century).

So it was with great interest that I read this post and the associated article on the coupling of water and carbon fluxes via the terrestrial biosphere. This work suggests that the larger water cycle controls the much smaller carbon cycle and not vice versa.

Well duh! Doesn't this seem like common sense? Which is why I personally think so many have heard the global warming rhetoric and are content to accept that human's play a role in modifying the weather but balk at the wider implications of planetary Armageddon as just outside their accepted realm of common sense comprehension. Environmentalists can bitch and whine all they want as long as their views only marginally impinge on real life -- but the lay public is not about to jump off a cliff just because a few loons say it would be a good idea.

It will be very interesting in the coming months how this particular research is treated both within the blogosphere, the mainstream media and within the scientific community itself. Does it get reported, acknowledged and integrated into our increasing knowledge pool? Or, does it get ignored, castigated and otherwise explained away because it threatens the supposed hegemony of the global warming paradigm of science?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The tyranny of science

Science was intended to replace the dogma of religion and the tyranny of monarchy.  Reason was supposed to bring enlightenment.  Science was never intended to become an ideology in and of itself, its own belief system. 
Sadly, however, science has become the dominant ideology of our era.  In an excellent essay, Furedi writes:  it frequently seems as if scientific authority is replacing religious and moral authority, and in the process being transformed into a dogma. At first sight, it appears that science has the last word on all the important questions of our time.
In short, Furedi's essay shows how science has become the very dogma it was originally intended to replace:
  • In the absence of political vision and direction, society continually hides behind scientific authority....whatever misgivings people have about science, its authority is unrivalled in the current period.
  • ...the environmental lobby depends on the legitimation provided by scientific evidence and expertise. In their public performances, environmentalists frequently use the science in a dogmatic fashion.
  • Today, religion and political ideologies no longer inspire significant sections of the public. Politicians find it difficult to justify their work and outlook in the vocabulary of morality.
  • Many religious leaders, politicians and environmentalists have little interest in engaging in the voyage of discovery through scientific experimentation. Instead they often appear to be in the business of politicising science, or more accurately, moralising it...(there is a)... growing tendency to treat science as a belief that provides an unquestionable account of the Truth.
  • Such science has more in common with the art of divination than the process of experimentation. 
Saul contends that democracy has consistently been placed in the hands of those in society who are the least democratic in their ideology: those who can exercise power through the authority of their religion, their economic power or their military might.  Today we have to add to that list the dogmatic use of science and its manipulation through mass media as the latest form of anti-democratic tyranny, complete with its own priesthood, saints and pious indictment of non-believers.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Snow and cold: caught in the spin cycle

If it snows in Saudi Arabia , and the media fail to report it, did it really happen?

If it snows in Iraq, and the media do not report it, did it really happen?

If it snows in the middle of the South American summer, and the media do not report it, did it really happen?

If there is a mid-winter thaw in the East, but major snowfalls throughout the West of North America, what spin does the media put on the story?

If it's story on today's weather anywhere, and it alludes to climate change, it is spin. Climate is a long-term trend. Weather is day by day and seasonal.

But it is interesting that the spin is always in one direction: be afraid, be very afraid.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Finding Orwell in the Denial Machine

Most skeptics of AGW have been targeted by an organized campaign to discredit them as a lunatic fringe. Mostly, skeptics being skeptics are unruffled by such efforts: by definition, they are non-conformists.

It is an irritant to those who are not really that skeptical of the whole message to find themselves or their views mis-characterized. To find yourself castigated for a perspective you don't embrace is not fun. Neither is it pleasant to have personal abuse thrown your way simply for asking basic questions that seem threaten the hegemony of the prevailing dogma.

But perhaps the greatest offense, is to be subject to a witch hunt that insinuates
personal motives for embracing an ideology, by people who live the very activity they find complicit in others.

Thus, "denialists" are presumed to be paid lobbyists, adopting an ideological perspective because they are funded to do so.

Sadly, the truth is much more depressing. As with all myths, the facts do not sustain the advocacy. Those that campaign for AGW actually receive far in excess to those who ask questions about the dogma.

Skeptics are like the chicken going for a ham and egg breakfast with the pig (AGW advocate). The chicken is involved: the pig has to be committed.

If fear promotion was to cease, an awful lot of advocates, zealots, bureaucrats, journalists and "committed" environmentalists would be out of a living. Most sceptics would just continue with their day jobs.

Climate Audit

Steve McIntyre has posted this commentary about his blog Climate Audit. In it, he expresses his concerns about the management of his website and the difficulties posed by the range of topics and commentary it attracts. It is a cogent assessment of the problems faced in seeking to understand the complexities inherent in questions about the dynamics of the climate system, some guidance for how to self-educate and the difficulties in hosting a forum for discussion on such a divisive topic. Among his points:
  • we should not assume that all specialists are wrong
  • but neither are they infallible
  • specialists have a responsibility to communicate to general audiences
  • the IPCC has done a poor job of bridging the gap between specialist and general audiences
  • no one is an expert in all areas of a complex, dynamic problem
Climate Audit is among the best of the blogs that focus on science and policy. Its posts are informative, it has a focus where it excels and the discussion is both lively and well moderated.
The continued need for such blogs and recognition of the inherent uncertainty of climate change is further re-enforced by the latest findings about ice sheets persisting even during past periods of exceptional warmth, something current climate projections neither predict nor can account for.
Climate science is a developing field. If you are risk-willing, it is premature to make any public policy decisions premised on such nascent information. If you are risk-adverse, the infancy of the field is irrelevant to the convenient support it lends to your dogma.
As Climate Audit shows, dispelling the myths and exposing the inaccuracies, imprecision and uncertainties of the science is not a simple nor a quick process. Neither is it necessarily well-accepted by those fellows of the fraternity whose work is de-frocked by an audit of their methodology and/or ideology.

As this post illustrates, some blogs are particularly obtuse and hypocritical in their reaction to those who have the temerity to question the veracity of the priesthood.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Fallacies about Global Warming

A new website, Science and Public Policy, offers accessible and easily comprehensible analyses of the issues around climate change.  For example, this report offers a succinct 8 page summation of the flaws in the AGW hypothesis for anyone not yet familiar with the basis for so many people's scepticism.  The report is nicely presented and available in PDF format.
The remainder of the site is excellent, presenting its purpose, prevailing ideology and the credentials of its organizers in a site navigation that contains links and an index.  The site lists the most recent posts and popular articles and is easily navigated.  All in all, both a welcomed and strong addition to the resources available to questioning minds on the topic.

Statistical Jungle

An important reminder from Phillip Stott on the use of statistics in ecomyths.
It is a widely accepted ecomyth that tropical rainforests are in sharp decline owing to massive clearcutting.  Associated with this supposed decline are estimates for species extinction and links to the impact on climate change of lost carbon sinks, etc..  In the 1980s and early 1990s the fate of Amazonia was a celebrity cause with the likes of Sting and others predicting dire consequences for the globe if a treaty on bio-diversity could not be imposed.  The loss of tropical rainforest was the poster statistic for this ecomyth.
Which is all fine and dandy, except that the tropical rainforests are not actually in decline over all -- a fact that Lomborg pointed out and a fact that he was disparaged for highlighting.  Stott brings attention to the latest empirical science that shows there has been no net loss of tropical rainforest over the past 3 decades.  He also suggests where, and how, the ecomyth of the tropical rainforest was invented.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Mass media, mass conformity

We are awash with junk knowledge:

The hard reality is that if you want to understand anything -- the great currents of change at work on the planet or anything else for that matter -- you are going to have to invest time and energy in educating yourself on that subject. You are going to have to actively go looking for alternative sources of information, checking the provenance of sources, cross - checking for logical inconsistencies, vested interests etc. You are categorically not going to get it on a plate from the world's media.

Today's media is a loudhailer for politically correct mass hysteria and the witch hunts that follow in it its wake.

Powerful but true words, eloquently expressed in this post.

Two excellent illustrations are the posted exchanges in response to Tierney's query about weather alarmism and the continued efforts to pillory those who question climate dogma (which have prompted this response).

Still with climate orthodoxy, the refusal to allow for full disclosure and inclusion of perspectives at Bali and the continued absence of empirical data by advocates, are two more prominent examples of media conformity promoting a particular dogma.

The problem is, of course, rooted in the failings of contemporary education which promote:

  • conformity over individual thought
  • compliance over creative expression
  • test scores for the memorization of knowledge over the evaluation of creative application of learning
As Kierkegaard remarked: People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Is there any weather inconsistent with the the scientific consensus on climate?

Following up on the Junk Science $125,000 challenge for anyone proving the AGW hypothesis, John Iierney has stirred up a bit of a hornet's nest by asking a deceptively simple question: are there any weather data proponents of AGW will recognize as invalidating their hypothesis?
See here and here.

What's interesting is both the hysteria embedded in the reaction to this question and that the central point of the question has been missed.

Weather and climate are not the same: but we only observe weather patterns in our day to day lives. So, either proponents of AGW have to stop using weather activities/extremes as indicators of climate change to promote fear and to validate their message, or they must be willing to acknowledge what activities/extremes of weather would be inconsistent with their hypothesis.

As the responses to this question indicate, while claiming weather is not climate, advocates of AGW will not identify any weather patterns or extremes that they would acknowledge as invalidating the AGW hypothesis. Weather extremes are routinely used as opportunities by AGW advocates to warn of impending doom should global warming measures not be taken. This is called having your cake and eating it too.

So where does that leave us? We have no knowledge of future climate. So any estimates, models or conjectures about future climate can not be disproved. Anything that is not open to disproof is not scientific, it is a statement of faith.

Well we do have the past climate record.

Yes, we do. And for many people that past record does not substantiate an AGW hypothesis as:
  • temperatures have been this warm previously
  • past periods of warming do not correlate with CO2 levels
  • past temperatures do correlate with sun spot activity
  • climate is a complex dynamic system with a large range of variables, many of them poorly understood
We do have a choice. Instead of seeking to control climate and people by imposing power over them, we can seek to empower people and focus on adaptation to change:
  • It is not possible to stop climate change, a natural phenomenon that has affected humanity through the ages. Geological, archaeological, oral and written histories all attest to the dramatic challenges posed to past societies from unanticipated changes in temperature, precipitation, winds and other climatic variables. We therefore need to equip nations to become resilient to the full range of these natural phenomena by promoting economic growth and wealth generation.