[LINK] the weather makers
rchirgwin at ozemail.com.au
Mon Apr 9 17:49:56 EST 2007
Alan L Tyree wrote:
> 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."
I'm not avoiding the issue - as I remarked later, these models have been
very heavily debated by scientists for 20 years through their
development. The "1900 to now" regressions have been conducted and are
used to refine the models. But what are they worth to the lay reader?
Not much; I certainly could not critique the models themselves.
> 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.
Is 20 years testing sufficient? If not, how much is enough?
>> 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
Tomorrow? Yes. 20 years? I doubt it would be catastrophic, for various
1) 20 years is more than sufficient for a natural attrition of personnel.
2) 20 years is more than sufficient for orderly transition of investment.
3) Current solar, wind, and geothermal technologies have sufficient
demand for personnel to replace lost employment (more than enough; as I
also remarked in the previous e-mail, each of these requires
significantly more people per petajoule than coal).
4) 20 years is a long timespan for technical development of the
replacements, towards making them cost-competitive with coal.
5) An immediate decision within Australia ("We will produce all
electricity from non-coal sources in 20 years") would *not* destroy
"30,000 coal industry jobs". It would not necessarily destroy one coal
industry job; because overwhelmingly most of our coal is exported. What
it *would* do is provide a huge impetus to investment and technological
development in the renewable sector - which would be of huge value when
the rest of the world wanted our renewable experience more than it
wanted our coal.
6) Those 30,000 jobs are doomed *already*.
An aside about the "independent science" that's being suppressed (not
one of your notes, Alan, but something that nagged at me). I grabbed a
list of climate change sceptics from Sourcewatch, verified it against
some think-tank sites (who endorsed the same sceptics as Sourcewatch
denounced), and grabbed down some CVs.
The result is interesting. Of 32 sceptics, leaving out 6 whose
backgrounds could not be verified in a hurry:
- only 12 have directly relevant qualifications (that is, advanced
degrees in climate science, geology, etc). The rest are a smattering of
soft sciences (mostly economists) or inappropriate qualifications (an
electrical engineer, for eg).
- Of the 12 whose qualifications are relevant, 10 are either directly
employed by industry or think tanks, or are indirectly funded by
industry or think tanks.
The "independent" camp is just two - that is, two high-profile climate
change sceptics out of 32 who are both (a) independent and (b)
appropriately qualified. One of these two, while saying he has never
received funding, has worked as an advisor to Friends of Science, which
has received oil industry funding.
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