[LINK] the weather makers
Alan L Tyree
alan at austlii.edu.au
Mon Apr 9 17:13:01 EST 2007
On Mon, 09 Apr 2007 16:23:41 +1000
Richard Chirgwin <rchirgwin at ozemail.com.au> wrote:
> Alan L Tyree wrote:
> >> Actually, the number of available causes of a change in temperature
> >> are not so great as to be completely bewildering.
> >>> If they did know how to apportion this, and what caused the
> >>> natural component, then they could explain the history of climate
> >>> change. They can't.
> >> That's not quite so, either. There exist quite a number of models
> >> for discussion of past events. What scientists avoid is trying to
> >> make an absolute statement about something like "what happened
> >> 100,000 years ago", because they are quite aware that anybody can
> >> claim to have "predicted the past".
> > These models are purporting to predict 50 to 100 years ahead. It
> > surely is fair to ask that they be validated with data from 1900. I
> > don't think it is "dishonest" to ask this, nor do I think that it
> > is BS science. Nor am in the pay of (think-tanks | big business |
> > creationists | any other bogey man).
> Validation is not possible. This is a genuine weak point of the
> science: the only way to validate any scientific theory is to test
> predictions - but all predictions involve the future.
Of course, and hence the famous quote that "Prophesy is very difficult,
particularly as regards the future."
But a form of "validation" certainly requires "predicting" the past to
give some confidence in the models. My confidence in the models would
be greatly increased if they were shown to "predict" the 20th century.
Doesn't need to be entirely accurate, of course, but it should at least
be able to identify the high points.
> In the media, calls for "validation" of climate science are part of
> the political project of delay: it is no coincidence that when I
> Google "validation of climate models", the IPA pops up in the first
> page of results. "We can't act without proof" is 1.01 of the think
> tank (and has been deployed before; fortunately, CFC observations and
> predictions happened on a political rather than generational
> timescale, and action outran the resistance movement).
I agree with this, Richard, but it doesn't avoid the issue. Think how
much stronger the argument would be if it were shown that the models
could be relied on in this way. If we had this kind of "validation" at
least the bad guys would have to say "Well, ok, you did it for the 20th
century, but that doesn't prove anything."
And perhaps it doesn't but it sure as hell improves the PR arguments.
And, I happen to think, improves the argument that the models are
reliable, robust and something other than GOGO.
> It isn't dishonest to ask that the models be tested; criticised;
> picked apart and rebuilt. Where the dishonesty creeps in is where the
> mouthpiece columnists - I will nominate the Andrew Bolts, Piers
> Ackermans, Michael Duffys, and Miranda Devines - know damn well that
> the science is very, very vigorously debated and very harshly
> criticised by other scientists, but they pretend that this has not
> taken place; that there is some secret "protocols of the elders of
> Climate" which says "any old dodgy crap is good enough as long as it
> doesn't rock the boat".
> It is apposite to remember that we aren't talking about pan-flash
> science here; climate change has been in the discussion for 20 years.
> So there's at least 20 years of examination of models. Where I call
> B.S. is where the above-mentioned list pretends this has not taken
> place, and pretends that its own pet scientists represent a repressed
> majority of people whose views are suppressed.
> By-the-by. It is absolute nonsense to say that decisions should not
> be made against uncertainty. Such things happen *routinely*. Any city
> tower you enter, or any decent bridge you cross, is built with
> assumptions which would, to the everyday life, seem stupidly
> pessimistic. This happens because the engineer and architects expect
> their buildings to have a long useful life. We do not seem to have
> suffered either widespread economic catastrophe, nor a slide into
> socialism, because Australia's civil engineers make assumptions
> gloomier than most scientists would make.
Of course. I agree with that. But as I keep saying, the risks here are
are big. It would be nice to have as much information as possible. As I
said before, the decisions that we would make must certainly depend on
an assessment of the risk and the time at which the risk is going to
To help assess that risk, we need good mathematical and computer
models, just like in every other major risk assessment. I am not
arguing against models - quite the opposite. I want to see the models
that we have tested, improved to the point where we can be confident in
relying on them.
> And finally: there is no catastrophe as punishment for acting to
> improve the environment. What's the worst that can happen in the long
> term? We become more energy-efficient than other countries *and* get
> cleaner air. And some industries become obsolete (go on, shed some
> tears for coal; just like the nightsoil cart of a previous era).
Yes and no. It depends on how fast we do it. If we were to close down
all coal tomorrow, it would be very catastrophic both for ourselves and
for the international community (in fact, it would probably get us
invaded). If we close it down over a 20 year period, not so
catastrophic. If we close it down over a 50 year period, not only is it
not catastrophic but (if well planned - but that is another argument!)
positively beneficial in terms of technological and economic
> Since I mention the think tanks, I may as well quickly catalogue the
> 1) "There is no climate change / no global warming". Even though
> debunked it is still a position of some of the TTs.
> 2) "There is no proof that this is a trend. It may be cyclical".
> 3) "There is no proof of human agency".
> 4) "We cannot act until climate change is proven beyond any
> doubt" (by which time it's too late).
> 5) "Warming is not universal or uniform. Some places seem to be
> getting cooler!" (in fact predicted by the models this piece of junk
> is supposed to debunk)
> 6) "Even if we act now, we cannot do enough to reverse the trend.
> It's therefore better to wait for a technological fix."
> 7) "If we suffer economic damage, things will get worse instead of
> better" (this needs B.S. to be called; one of the reasons renewables
> are expensive is that they need more personnel per petajoule to
> produce ... which doesn't sit well alongside the 'thousands of coal
> industry jobs' crocodile tears. But how many people say 'renewable
> energy would increase employment' in this debate?)
> 8) "There's no point in acting because China / India / America /
> Australia are not acting". In the CFC debate, some countries moved
> first. The whole world followed eventually.
> >> What happens, however -- in a think-tank technique borrowed from
> >> creationists -- is that a general wariness about 'predicting the
> >> past' is held up as "see? They admit they can't tell with certainty
> >> what happened in the Little Ice Age! We can't trust what they say
> >> about global warming!"
> >> This is deliberate and dishonest: people who know better are
> >> deploying lies and misdirection to try and avoid the "man in the
> >> street" forming an unfavourable opinion.
> >>> 3. Just because a theory becomes fashionable, doesn't mean it is
> >>> right (nor does it mean that it is wrong, either of course). It
> >>> just means that those who disagree and still want study grants,
> >>> tend to keep their heads down and keep silent. Popular science
> >>> often acts as a suppresser of open inquiry.
> >>> In the case of climate change, a number of scientists have kept
> >>> their heads down for years -- ever since the 1962 Rio Summit made
> >>> this a political and economic issue in scientific circles.
> >>> 4. The secondary projections that arise from this warming --
> >>> sea-level rises, ice-cap collapse, long-term droughts, starvation,
> >>> extinctions of species, islands disappearing, etc. etc, -- are yet
> >>> another level removed from the science, which is itself in
> >>> dispute. All this is even further abstracted from any real
> >>> evidence.
> >> Umm, I usually like to keep to "parliamentary language" in Link
> >> discussions, but Stewart, where did you start borrowing arguments
> >> from the bollocks bin?
> >> Sea level rises are not "another level removed from the science".
> >> They are empirical observation - as are the ice-cap issues.
> >> Islands disappearing is a very mundane addition to the observed
> >> sea-level rises
> >> - and in fact, this has already taken place (some little island in
> >> the Indian Ocean). Species extinction may be viewed as speculative,
> >> except that some species are already experiencing catastrophic
> >> decline (eg, small alpine marsupials); the fact of extinction is
> >> not in doubt, merely the extent (about which there will be varying
> >> predictions).
> >>> 5. And my main point, is that computer processing of massive
> >>> amounts of contemporary data is not a substitute for real evidence
> >>> and logical argument arising from provable events in the past.
> >> "Logical argument", I am sorry to say, is not science (and in fact
> >> is just as often deployed against science as for). Science is the
> >> boring stuff of observation, analysis, theory, prediction,
> >> etcetera.
> >> A temperature change observed in ice cores is a provable event ...
> >> more so than, for example, "grapes in Vinland" which may have been
> >> another slice of Erik the Red's propaganda! Just because the proof
> >> lies in knowledge not available to the lay training does not
> >> invalidate it as science. And ice cores aren't the only indicator
> >> of very long-term climate trends.
> >> My final point: humanity doesn't need a "end of life on earth"
> >> climate change for a crisis. We only need enough crisis to make our
> >> own society non-tenable, our current practises or farming
> >> non-viable. The Earth will go on quite well without us.
> >> There is no inherent risk involved in reducing our energy use.
> >> Switching off unnecessary lights is not an act which involves
> >> privation or loss of the Western lifestyle; it's just that a bunch
> >> of idiots (there, I used the word!) believe that simple frugality
> >> must somehow be associated with "green communism" - in other
> >> words, in the strange world of the IPA, the Cato Institute, the
> >> Frazer Institute and other bought lobbies, *not* being recklessly
> >> wasteful with every available resource is evidence of a political
> >> state of mind which is a threat to the western way of life. What's
> >> wrong with calling "B.S." on such drivel?
> >> RC
> >> _______________________________________________
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> >> Link at mailman.anu.edu.au
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Alan L Tyree http://www2.austlii.edu.au/~alan
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