Thursday, April 7, 2016

To Be Fair

I must admit, in many ways, we last post ("More AGW Proof") was a bit unfair. After all, true scientific theories of climate change are rather complex things, and at times there can be regional or seasonal cooling even with overall warming. Just as the last ice age saw a brief warming and melt followed by a cooling and refreezing, probably when the great melt water reservoir covering Canada broke through to the open sea. So, obvious one cold winter or warm summer is not a sign of anything, and certainly not enough on its own to prove or disprove.

Still, I stand by my post because it points out another problem, the fact that popularizers, the new media, politicians and the rest jump on every warm summer, every mild winter, every bad storm, every drought, every flood, any anomaly whatsoever to tell us it is proof of global warming, and, implicitly, that that warming is both man-made and catastrophic -- conclusions in  no way justified by what amounts to a bit of unusual weather. And so, whenever I can, I point out unusually cold days and lard them down with mocking comments to highlight how foolish the pop science crowd is in assuming "the warmest summer on record"* proves that global warming is definite, is man made and is catastrophic. And that is why I posted the posts I have**.

I am well aware a cold day or late snow proves nothing. In fact, I am even willing to accept there is something of a general warming trend. Then again, we are coming out of the Little Ice Age (the one the "hockey stick" seems to fail to recognize, just like it ignores the medieval warm period), so I am certain we may be warming, in a general way. And yes, to a very small degree CO2 does insulate the planet, though I think less than most models predict, and with feedback actually lessening rather than exaggerating the effect***. But this is all a matter for research and debate, which is not helped by politicians claiming the debate is closed, scientists hiding evidence or rejecting uncomfortable articles (as was proved in ClimateGate), with many governments directing funding to a single side of the issue, or calling any who doubt that warming is man made and catastrophic "climate change deniers". No one is denying climate change, we see it from day to night, from summer to winter and, in a number of cycles we poorly understand, from year to year and century to century. What we are asking is, how can models which cannot even be made to match past experience be accepted as proof of the future?

That is not denial, asking questions, that is science.

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* As this is based, not on the normal measurements, but rather on some proxies which many are calling into question, even this assertion is suspect. But even if we grant it, one warm summer, even the "warmest on record" which means in the past 100 or so years out of a history of billions, does not prove anything, not on its own.

** See "Global Warming Watch Again", "Global Warming Watch" and "Odds and Ends". Or, for more serious discussion, see "Dismissive Skeptics", "My Irritation with Supposed Skeptics", "Incorrect Reasoning", "Inquisition to Galileo - 97% of Scientists Support Geocentric Theory of the Universe", "A Bit of Support From the Skeptics", "A Brief Thought on Skepticism", "Why "Hope for the Best, Plan for the Worst" is Bad Policy", "Some Global Warming Links", "Debunking "Debunking Global Cooling"", "Very Quick and Simple Logic", "Skeptics? Really? I Beg to Differ" and "More About the Hockey Stick Graph".

*** I would argue the increased plant growth and CO2 consumption, increase absorption by warm oceans, deposition by shellfish, multiplying because of increase sea plant life, and so on would actually act as a buffer, and mean CO2 effects -- mild as science suggests they are -- would be a trailing, not leading indicator, and one felt much less strongly than sunspot cycles, ocean currents, local geographic factors and so on. Not to mention that there is a cap to what CO2 can accomplish, which is why most AGW models emphasize high number multipliers and feedback cycles, otherwise it is hard to get a catastrophe out of CO2 alone, or even CO2 and water vapor. Venus may be the model they use, but Venus, much closer to the sun, lacking many atmospheric elements found on Earth while possessing others, with a crushing atmospheric pressure, is very different from  Earth and may not be the best model upon which to rely.

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