Problem premises, misplaced blame

I was reading a paper by Hansen et al and found the term “known planetary energy imbalance”. This has always been an interesting term to me. It presupposes that:
(A) Balance is supposed to exist.
(B) We know every factor in the energy mix and it’s contribution to the overall balance

Without verification of these two premises, any conclusions that arise from these premises are not logically true. The conclusion may be true, but the arguments used to “prove” them do not lead to the conclusion and do not serve to verify the conclusion.

(A) How do we know a “balance” ever existed? Humans love balance, that I understand. Mathematical equations have to balance as a matter of definition. Then there are the laws of thermodynamics. Mathematically, we want all the parts to add up—same amount of energy in as out. Right now, the earth is absorbing more energy than it is releasing back into space. The energy is going into the oceans. This is interpreted to mean something is “wrong” and must be fixed.

The need for balance is seen in the use of the global mean temperature (a statistic that reduces thousands of readings to one easy number). Any variation from this temperature is an anomaly. If even the smallest change occurs, it has enormous implications. Should one point out that the temperature of the Earth has always varied, the shrill response is: “Not this much”! Everything must balance and thus must remain stable.

If there is an imbalance and the global mean temperature is going up, we must “fix” it. Fix it to what? The pre-industrial era? Was it in balance then? What about the warming after the LIA? Did that indicate a return to balance or a falling out of balance? Snowball earth—definitely out of balance? What about when snowball earth started to melt? The balance was definitely not present then. So what period in time was the energy in/energy out in balance? Why did it stop being in balance? Was it ever really in balance or are we looking at a system that works without the balance we demand and that system’s imbalance results in what we call “climate”? Is it the imbalance that is the “correct” state?

Hansen is now saying “natural” climate is holding the CO2 in check—El Nino, La Nina, and solar output. However , he continues to claim CO2 from humans is the “predominant forcing”. The 5 year mean (running average) has been flat for a decade, while CO2 continues to rise. I garden. The predominant factor in successful gardening is water. We have had 12 years of drought. For a while, my irrigation watering, fertilizing, etc produced some results. However, year after year, the crop became smaller and smaller. My ability to get enough water through sprinklers was limited by the drought, also. This year, my garden is ¼ the area of the past. This year, rain has been falling. The amount of produce from the smaller area is exceeding the yield from last year’s large area. Nothing I did could overcome the lack of rain. Rain is the predominant factor. It seems problematic that a factor so huge and planet-threatening as human-produced CO2 could be knocked down by natural factors. The claim that warming will return is still clung to, however. Nature will fail to retain it’s current domination and CO2 will again reign. In my case, I know the rain was the dominant factor because when it returned, so did the garden. Until now, that was nothing more than an hypothesis. Just as “the warming will return” is nothing more than an hypothesis until the warming does return. Even then, there is the serious question of how a climate driver the size of human-induced CO2 could be overwhelmed by any natural process.

Hansen’s theory also presumes there exists a dominant driver of climate and that it will remain dominant except for brief periods. It is equally possible, and may be probable, that there exists no single factor or single group of factors that rule climate. Many factors may rise to dominance for periods of time, then are overpowered by others. In other words, there are multiple drivers that move up and down in their level of influence.

(B)We know every factor in the balance and it’s part/percentage in the balance. This is obviously false. Until the temperatures “flattened”, natural forces were said to be completely overwhelmed by CO2—that CO2 is the driving factor. If we did know everything there is to know about climate, we would have realized that nature might be a very large part of climate changing and that our contribution was not large enough to rule the climate kingdom continually. Climate scientists would have been telling us that CO2 was one factor but there were many others, and that their current understanding was that CO2 was the major driver at the moment (plus forcings, of course). They would have clearly stated that leveling off was possible and that nature could prevail for at least short periods. This was not found in the narrative until the temperatures flattened and there arose questions about why the warming of the atmosphere had stopped or slowed. As far as I know, it is not found in the research papers either. The narrative and research say warming is primarily due to CO2. It is the questioners who suggest otherwise.

Climate scientists bemoan the fact that people do not believe or trust them. Statements are made to the effect that Fox News is having more influence over people’s beliefs than the scientists themselves. Fox News is spreading an anti-science message and damaging the climate scientists standing.

That is NOT the problem. This sudden “nature is stronger at the moment but we assure you it will get continue to get hot just like we said it would” is clearly viewed as a CYA statement. When scientists predict warming for years and then circle the wagons and put out CYA statements when the warming flattens, they look just like politicians. People don’t trust politicians—the same happens when scientists start to act like politicians: Distrust.

Problem premises and CYA tactics are why people distrust climate science. Try clearly stating the premise and backing it up with solid evidence, not a “trust me” from the people promoting the theory. Of course, you will need a theory that actually can be verified. When models fail, the theory fails. When the theory cannot account for changes in what warms and how much, the theory fails. It is this failure that is the problem. Pure and simple.

Scientific Badger

Scientific Badger

No, it’s not the money

Today at Think Progress (a misnomer on all accounts) we find:

“Manmade climate change is happening. One would think that with hundreds of climate-related natural disasters declared since 2011, and 97 percent of climate scientists in agreement, elected officials would follow the evidence. But a shocking number — 55 percent — of congressional Republicans refuse to accept it. Most states have at least one representative who denies climate change science. And it’s even more pronounced in Republican leadership, where 90 percent deny climate science.

It’s no coincidence that deniers are funded in large part by the fossil fuel industry, which profits off of the emissions that cause global warming. Combined, the 157 members of the climate denier caucus have taken over $50 million in dirty energy contributions over the course of their careers. The 378 other Members of Congress and Senators have only taken $33 million total.”

Read more here:

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/07/11/2289051/new-infographic-the-anti-science-climate-denier-caucus/

Okay, let’s look at this from a different perspective:  Al Gore sold his TV station to an OIL country, one of the evil middle east countries that control the oil the US gets and have caused millions of young men to die in unnecessary wars, according to many environmental activists.  Yet we have not seen Al Gore producing a film “Fossil Fuels Forever” and joining the ranks of the “deniers”.  If half a billion dollars doesn’t buy someone’s allegiance, how could the paltry $242,000 to house members or $699,000 to senate members?  It’s really quite obvious that money does not buy influence, don’t you think?  Only in the imagination of climate change advocates does money determine one’s beliefs about the legitimacy of science.  They just cannot admit it just might be the science that is the problem.

Runaway greenhouse effect?

One of the things that has always struck me as being problematic with CAGW is part of its reported origins. There have been individuals who suggested hydrocarbons could cause a problem with warming the planet very early in the 1900s and some in the late 1800s. Warming was not necessarily viewed as a bad outcome. Some people thought the warming could be beneficial.

So where did the catastrophic warming idea come from? NASA had a scientist, James Hansen, studying the planet Venus. He came up with a theory, borrowed in part from Carl Sagan, that Venus had fallen victim to a runaway greenhouse effect. This caused “the oceans to boil” (a fate Hansen has also publicly predicted for earth if we did not stop burning fossil fuels and increasing the CO2 in the atmosphere. Hansen modified his research on the runaway greenhouse effect and applied it to Earth. His research lead him to conclude the same thing could happen here.)

Unfortunately, there appears to be NO evidence that Venus ever had oceans, let alone looked like Earth. Everything we know about Venus we learned from looking through a telescope and from probes sent to penetrate the atmosphere and land on the surface. Venus is so inhospitable the probes burn up shortly after landing. The surface has been mapped from above. The composition of the atmosphere was determined. Beyond this, we have no clue as to whether or not Venus ever had an atmosphere that was Earth-like or if there were any type of lifeforms present. It’s all conjecture.

Mars was also looked as a possible way to learn more about our planet. Again, there is the belief that Mars may have been like Earth at one time. The surface of Mars does allow for exploration with a rover. Dust storms have been observed that lower the temperature rapidly, leading to speculation that similar forces are at work on Earth. Of course, Mars has very little atmosphere which makes such speculation questionable. It did seem to provide much excitement among climate scientists who claim this validates some of the climate change theory. Again, it is unclear how the behaviour of dust on Mars in any way explains the behaviour of dust on Earth. While physical laws are the same on all planets, that is where the similarity ends. Atmospheres are very different, as are surface temperatures, and so forth.

IF Venus was like Earth and fell victim to runaway greenhouse warming and Venus is governed by the same physical laws as Earth, Earth could fall victim to runaway greenhouse warming. Looking at Venus may help us avoid this fate if we study the forces contributing to this effect on Venus. Does this mean we could be subjected to the same fate as Venus? NO—there is no way to know unless there is definitive proof that Venus was once like Earth. Which there is not. Thus, the conclusion runaway greenhouse warming could occur on Earth does NOT follow. First, we must prove the phenomena actually occurred on Venus or Mars and then that we understand the mechanism by which this occurred. Lastly, we must prove the mechanisms that caused the runaway greenhouse warming on other planets can be modified to work for predicting such an outcome on Earth. Currently, we have no evidence to support any of these suppositions.

If we remove the concept of runaway greenhouse warming due to lack of evidence that such a thing has actually happened on other planets, there does still exist CO2 and it’s role in warming Earth. How much of the predictions concerning CAGW depend on Venus and Mars being role models? It’s difficult to say, but without an example of CAGW occurring anywhere in the past, predicting it will happen in the future is pretty much a toss of the dice.

Is the earth warming? Yes. Does that mean we are headed for a Venetian or Martian runaway greenhouse warming and destruction of Earth as we know it? It’s impossible to say. The evidence is just not there.

Yes, I do understand

Jo Nova’s blog today had an article that concerned the blog “WatchingtheDeniers”. Seems one writer on the blog has determined the DK effect is why deniers are deniers.

The Dunning-Kruger (KD) effect theorizes people with limited knowledge over-estimate their ability and knowledge. The claim is made that many of the commentors on Jo Nova’s blog lack a full understanding of science. This is a prime example of “assuming facts not in evidence”. A similar claim might be made that climate scientists are actually frustrated politicians, seeking the limelight and caring nothing about science. That’s the best thing about fantasy facts, they can “prove” anything.

A serious question here is why have studies shown people with higher science degrees are more apt to express doubt about climate science? A National Science Foundation study found this—while expecting the opposite. The study suggested teaching people more science, as the WtD blogger suggests, would actually increase the number of skeptics. Educating people on science is probably not a good idea if one is hoping to increase climate change acceptance.

The blogger suggests sharing science is something climate believers would enjoy. The general reaction of the AGW crowd has historically been to avoid all discussion of science and simply resort to name-calling and demanding “consensus” be followed (consensus is NOT proof of theory in science). If this group is willing to come forth and share science, so much the better.

“Deniers” is not really an accurate term. There would need to be open debate concerning the science so people could make up their own mind. Currently, there are statements like “the science is settled”, “there is consensus” and “you’re not smart enough to understand even if we tried to explain”. One cannot deny that which is hidden. That’s why the group is called “skeptics”. Produce the science, allow open discussions with FULL data available to ALL scientists, then we can decide if there is denial of the theory or if the theory is actually flawed and needs to be reworked or discarded.

Moving into social science and marketing techniques is strong evidence that the science fails. So is claiming only those anointed with grants and publishing are capable of understanding the theory. It’s arrogant. However, since people are inclined to bow to authority figures, the technique does work well in those who do not understand science and scientific method. There are no authorities in science. Only the data and the manipulations applied to said data matter. If the data or the manipulations are wrong, even if the janitor points this out, the science is flawed and needs to scrapped.

There has been a lot of “research” trying to connect “deniers” to conspiracy theories, etc. It’s interesting to note that AGW is very appealing to the anti-vaccine, hate Big Pharma, organic crowd. These are usually considered to be other than scientific beliefs (more into the pseudoscience arena).

Does that mean AGW’s following is people who are not scientific? Maybe, maybe not. For every following there exists a huge variety of individuals with very diverse beliefs that happen to have one belief in common.

Then there’s the theory that politics determine one’s belief in AGW. This is the chicken/egg problem. Does one’s political beliefs affect one’s science beliefs or does one’s science beliefs affect one’s politics? The “research” does not address this in any way.