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.