Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Glossing the Climate Scientists

Back in the Middle Ages, books weren't printed (the printing press hadn't yet been invented).  Instead, they were laboriously copied by hand.  Monasteries were the chief place that this took place, and you can get a great overview of this in the very enjoyable How The Irish Saved Civilization.

One thing that the Monks would often do, especially on more complex books on theology or philosophy was to add short notes in the margins explaining the more impenetrable passages.  These little blurbs were called "glosses" and were essentially a reader's helper.  If you didn't have a teacher - if all you had was the book - then the gloss would provide a welcome overview to guide the reader to the point of the original book.

Reader Lou emailed:

Hi Borepatch,

I am a longtime reader, this is my first reach out.

Great blog, I learn a lot and it is on my daily read list.

Regarding AGW, I am a definite skeptic.  Though only semi-literate on the subject matter. I try to apply my generic engineer-trained, data-driven analytical approach to issues. 

I have read your posts on it (especially the ones from 2010 and 2017) and appreciate you taking these folks on.

I recently came across this article:

My lack of command of the subject leaves me ill-equipped to critique or rebut. Would you be willing to look at it and unpack/rebut from your perspective?  I know you have already covered the fundamentals, it’s just these people never quit. And they misuse data to deceive folks.

Either way, thank you for all you are doing, please keep it up you have more positive impact than you may realize!

Thanks for the kind words, Lou.  I haven't posted on Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) in quite some time because I think I've written everything I have to say on it.  And so while I won't do a line-by-line fisking of Dr. Weatherhead's article, I will gloss some of my older posts as to how they relate to her article.

We should start with the post that has a permanent sidebar in the upper right hand side of this blog: A Layman's Guide to the Science of Global Warming.  The discussion that is most pertinent to Dr. Weatherman's article is the bit on Carbon Dioxide and how weak a greenhouse gas it is.  Dr. Weatherman repeatedly refers to increasing carbon dioxide but completely skates by the fact that CO2 is saturated in Earth's atmosphere, at least as far as its heat capturing capacity.  The key passage from my old post is this:

The scientific consensus is that doubling the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere results in warming of around 1°C.  We've gone from around 280 parts per million (ppm) atmospheric  CO2 to around 400 ppm an increase of about 50% over the last 100 years or so, so there should have been an increase of around half a degree.  So why do we hear all of this about how we are destroying the planet?  I mean, half a degree doesn't sound like much.

The next post of mine that is pertinent to Dr. Weatherman's article is How to create a consensus on Global Warming.  She points out in her article that climate data show that all continents are warming.  However, she does not address the very serious problems with adjustments to the data that inject a warming signal where none exists.  This is quite frankly the key problem in climate science: the raw temperature data (temperature readings as originally collected by the scientist many years ago) do not show warming, but the adjusted data (what is reported by scientists like Dr. Weatherman) shows considerable warming.  My post is very difficult to gloss because the information is so, well, shocking but this is the summary:

Let me say this explicitly: I used to believe that the planet was warming, and that this was likely due to natural (as opposed to man made) causes. Now I'm not sure that the planet is warming. The data do not show warming over the last 70 years, maybe longer.

If you only read one of my posts on global warming, this is the one.  It is information-dense and has a bunch of links to scientists who dissent from Dr. Weatherman's "consensus science" view.

A related post about non-adjusted temperature data is relevant.  Understanding Climate Data Made Easy discusses how record temperatures (you can't adjust them, amirite?) do not jive at all with the every-year-is-hotter message from Dr. Weatherman.  Here are the key bits:

So we see [only] 9 states (18% of the total) setting high records in the last 50 years. 41 states (82% of the total) haven't seen record high temperatures in the period we've been told is an accelerating and hotter climate.  You would expect to see a lot more states - another 15 or so setting recent high temperature records.  Weird, huh?  It's almost like if you remove the adjustments to the temperature data, you don't see accelerating warming.

In fact, we may be seeing the opposite.  If you look at record low temperatures you see a lot going on in the most recent years.  15 states have set record low temperatures in the last 50 years (once again ignoring dates listed with an asterisk which tells us the year that the previous low record was tied).  This is only 30% of the total, but that's basically twice as many as set record high temperatures.

July and August 1936 saw 14 States set record high temperatures that have not been surpassed in the subsequent 85 years.  This despite the repeated statements that last year was the hottest ever.  This post suggests a fundamental breakdown in the "Carbon Dioxide is killing us" throry:

Now the establishment science story is that average TMin has been increasing over time, while average TMax has not been increasing much (looking at adjusted data).  Left unexplained is how increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increases average low temperatures while not increasing average high temperatures.  Also left unexplained is how increasing average low temperatures (without increasing average high temperatures) will lead to ecological disaster.  Maybe it could, but it's not at all obvious how this would happen.

It's also not explained why Urban Heat Island (UHI) doesn't explain the higher average low temperatures (TMin).  UHI is where a weather station that used to be in a nice grassy field is now in the middle of an airport, surrounded by tarmac and blasted with jetwash.  It's surprising just how many weather stations are not sited to accurate data collection norms - only 8% of GCHN stations are accurate withing 1°C.

The data are a mess - you might even say they are a hot mess.

And now we come to the most pointed argument against Dr. Weatherman's article - Science As Practiced Today Is Very Sick.  The scientists themselves have repeatedly shown themselves to be less than trustworthy.  Dr. Weatherman really needs to deal with the Climategate scandal but is unlikely to touch the subject.  The Layman's Guide post above gives an overview of the scandal:

In November 2009,  someone posted 61 MB of emails, computer program code, and climate data from Hadley servers to an FTP server on the Internet.  One of the most notorious of the emails in this release was from Dr. Jones, and contained the following:

I've just completed Mike's Nature trick of adding in the real temps
 to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd [sic] from
 1961 for Keith's to hide the decline.

Let's unpack this so you understand each piece.  "Mike" refers to Dr. Michael Mann (of the Hockey Stick graph fame).  "Nature" refers to Nature Magazine, one of (perhaps the) most  prestigious scientific journals.  More specifically, it refers to an article that they published, written by Dr. Mann in which he had a temperature reconstruction.  There is a huge amount of dispute over what "trick" means - skeptics allege sleight of hand while Mann said it just referred to a mathematical technique.  So what was the trick?

Dr. Mann's data sets contained many different proxy series.  This is actually a good thing, because you want confirmation of results from different places and types of proxies (say, including ice cores, tree rings, and corals will probably be more reliable than just using tree rings).  Mann's "trick" (call it a mathematical technique if you want) was to remove all proxy data later than 1960 and replace it with measured temperature data.  The result was a hockey stick shaped temperature graph.  This is what Dr. Jones did in the paper referred to in his email.

The $100,000 question is: why go to the trouble to do this if you have proxy data from 1960 up to the present?  Why replace 50 years of perfectly good data?

Hide the decline.

There is an youtube lecture where Dr. Richard Mueller from Berkeley covers what Jones did and why Mueller won't read any more of Jones' scientific papers.  Dr. Weatherman contributes to the IPCC Assessment Reports so she almost certainly knows Jones personally.  She will know Mueller at least by reputation.  But she is a beneficiary of Government funding, running a department at the University of Colorado.  Which leads us directly to the next - and last - post of mine to gloss: "It is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist."

Perhaps the single dumbest argument presented in support of Global Warming is that "the scientific consensus is that it's true".  Translation: all the cool kids do it.  Translation [2]: my scientist is red hot; your scientist ain't doodly-squat.  Oooooh kaaaay.

Of course it's as untrue as it is stupid. And so we get the "you're not qualified"/"we only look at peer-reviewed scientists" expulsion of the Heretics, as the Establishment desperately tries to keep control of the debate.

That's breaking down.  Hal Lewis is one of the Senior Statesmen of American Physics.  He's been a member of the American Physical Society for 67 years (!).


Hal Lewis thinks that Global Warming is an anti-scientific, money-grabbing scam by scientists, and says so in a brutal resignation letter sent to the president of the APS:

It is of course, the global warming scam, with the (literally) trillions of dollars driving it, that has corrupted so many scientists, and has carried APS before it like a rogue wave. It is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist. Anyone who has the faintest doubt that this is so should force himself to read the ClimateGate documents, which lay it bare. (Montford’s book organizes the facts very well.) I don’t believe that any real physicist, nay scientist, can read that stuff without revulsion. I would almost make that revulsion a definition of the word scientist.

Lewis' letter is utterly damning, and cannot be dismissed as coming from a crank, or an amateur.  And in it he directly addresses the then President of the APS in a passage that must fit Dr. Weatherman's department like a glove:

I do feel the need to add one note, and this is conjecture, since it is always risky to discuss other people’s motives. This scheming at APS HQ is so bizarre that there cannot be a simple explanation for it. Some have held that the physicists of today are not as smart as they used to be, but I don’t think that is an issue. I think it is the money, exactly what Eisenhower warned about a half-century ago. There are indeed trillions of dollars involved, to say nothing of the fame and glory (and frequent trips to exotic islands) that go with being a member of the club. Your own Physics Department (of which you are chairman) would lose millions a year if the global warming bubble burst. When Penn State absolved Mike Mann of wrongdoing, and the University of East Anglia did the same for Phil Jones, they cannot have been unaware of the financial penalty for doing otherwise. As the old saying goes, you don’t have to be a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing. Since I am no philosopher, I’m not going to explore at just which point enlightened self-interest crosses the line into corruption, but a careful reading of the ClimateGate releases makes it clear that this is not an academic question.

I would be much more impressed with climate scientists like Dr. Weatherman if they would address the (it must be said) stink of corruption at the heart of their field.  Or clean up their data.  Of course, as Lewis pointed out there are millions of dollars at stake.

So there you have it, Lou.  There's a lot of reading, but unlike Dr. Weatherman I show my work.  And unlike Dr. Weatherman, I don't say "trust me, I'm a scientist" when so many of her colleagues so clearly are not trustworthy.


Aesop said...

When someone publishes A Layman's Guide to The Lack Of Science Behind Global Warming, I might invest the time. People who include the obvious oxymoron in the title have already missed the Logic Bus, and life is too short to read books by morons.

The first bona fide physicist in the 21st century who points out that the thermonuclear fusion reactor 93M miles away may have a wee bit greater influence on the earth's climate than cow farts may yet rise to be the Copernicus of this age.

And Michael Crichton's commonsensical and blistering condemnation of the whole charade: "If it's consensus, it isn't science. It it's science, it isn't consensus." thunders down the years since his untimely death.


Goober said...

Here's my stance on it all:

Co2 is definitely a greenhouse gas. CO2 has a weak greenhouse creation capacity. We are releasing more CO2 into the atmosphere than there was before we started doing so, although not more than was there during, say, the last ice age, or other periods, many of which the Earth was actually cooler than it is now. We should probably put some effort into finding ways to stop doing that.

Furthermore, Mankind is almost certainly having an impact on climate. It just makes sense. Changes in albedo, changes in flora (deforestation, etc), changes in the water cycle (for instance, the Colorado river doesn't make it to the ocean at some points), blacktop, white roofs, farm ground instead of prairie, etc, etc, etc. And this includes CO2 emissions, as well.

The issue is that right now, we're attributing 100% of the "changes" we're seeing in our climate, year to year, to CO2 emissions, when, if we're really honest, we have no freaking idea how much of the changes are being driven by changes in albedo, land use, forestation, etc, etc, etc. MUCH LESS, let us not forget, that some amount of the current changes in climate may be perfectly natural and not caused by man, at all. By it's very nature, this assumption that all of the change in climate is due to man caused CO2 is entirely unscientific, because that hypothesis cannot be tested, and therefore, it is impossible to either support or invalidate it.

That's why they are relying on scientific consensus, instead of confirming experimental results. You can't really experiment on it. Therefore, you can't confirm or invalidate the result, and therefore, it literally isn't science.

That's why I think the following:

We should probably keep trying to find ways to get off of fossil fuels, for lots of reasons, including CO2 emissions (since we DON'T know, and probably CAN'T know, it's better to be safe than sorry). There really is no downside to seeking out reliable alternatives to fossil fuels, so let's do it. Right now, we're kind of playing "fuck around and find out" with our one and only atmosphere, and it's probably a good idea to stop doing that. So let it rip.

But, at the same time, let's not treat this like it's an existential emergency - the proverbial omelets that will fix this issue should not require the "breaking of eggs" if you catch my drift. We don't have evidence that this situation is existentially dangerous enough to justify destroying lives and killing people in an effort to fix it.

So let's be "luke warmers". Lets fix the issue, with caution and reason and recognizing that it might take a while for the tech to mature enough to completely eliminate fossil fuels. Let's not be in too much of a hurry.

Old NFO said...

Great post and good job of 'glossing' the facts.

Aesop said...

What changes is mankind making on climate?
On a sphere encompassing just a surface area where, in 71% of all cases, no one lives, lacking gills and such?
That's before we get into the volume of the sphere affected by climate, where it is, versus the volume of all human activity, combined, being a fraction of a percent of that total.

The entire idea of anthropogenic anything on a global scale is so recockulous, just looking at the math and physics, as to be snortworthy.

We are such a small part of the variables in the system as to be unworthy of further discussion.

One erupting volcano puts more imaginary greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere than the human race does in something like 40,000 years, IIRC.

And we've had volcanoes, per science, longer than we've had people, when last I looked.

Climate change and global warming are just the latest fads in global bullshit, and should be left in the rose fertilizer pile, where they belong.

You want to clean up the air or water or land by polluting it less, go ahead on, with my blessings. I have seen impenetrable smog, and I saw the Cuyahoga River catch fire, twice, on the news. I would not return to those days.

Having solved those relatively minor problems, climastrology is trying to placate Mother Gaia by throwing civilization into the volcano.

Anyone proposing that sort of nonsense should do humanity a great big favor, by throwing themselves into a volcano first, to demonstrate their sincerity. If they're hesitant, I firmly vow to give them a push at the crucial moment of decision.

If they're not that serious, they should STFU, and stop channeling nonsense and venting it from their pieholes.

selsey.steve said...

A very good source of actual and real scientific examination of the world's climate can be found here:
There's no politics, no 'environment-saving' comment. Just science, real statistics and a proper sense of restraint from any form of sensationalism.

Swede said...

Proof by consensus. Ask Galileo how that went. Or Einstein, when he was first published and widely denounced.

Proof by consensus was a common joke among us grad students (Applied Math) when we didn't want to do a particular difficult proof of an obscure theorem. Everyone would chuckle, and then we'd have to do the real work.

Will said...

Starting back in the 1800's the media and some of those idiots that call themselves "scientists" have been predicting that we are going to freeze to death, or cook to death, about every 25 years. Charlatans all, and there should be some sort of serious penalty for ALL involved that open their stupid, thieving mouths.