Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Changing Status of Climate Change

To begin -- the ClimateGate controversy demonstrates there are legitimate concerns about the CRU datasets and manipulation of the climate modeling system as a whole. The much trumpeted and balleyhooed peer-review process has effectively descended into a farce of near-criminal proportions.

Further, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has recently recanted its own conclusions and proclamations on glacial melting occurring before 2035, aka GlacierGate, said conclusions based on a single, non-peer-reviewed article by the WWF advocacy group.

To make matters worse, and proving this was not an isolated situation, the same thing happened again, aka AmazonGate, where the IPCC published and promoted claims of the impending endangerment of some 40% of the Amazon rainforest. (Bizarrely, even the WWF's own report on the Amazon forest doesn't support this conclusion. You'd think the IPCC's peer-review process would have caught that...)

Then, in a classic case of kicking-them-while-they're-down, there is the PachauriGate revelation, where Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the IPCC, was identified as chairman of the board or otherwise connected to several companies positioned to profit handsomely from current climate change proposals. Hardly a disinterested party. (And have you looked at Al Gore's business interests lately?)

* sigh *

Worse, this entire situation has devolved into a series of sniping attacks by both sides against the other. (Yes, I am guilty as charged. Mea culpa.) However, regardless of which position anyone supports, here is the key point:

If we can't trust scientists, and scientists are the ones telling us we can't trust other scientists, how can we trust the scientists telling us not to trust other scientists?

A puzzlement... But to continue...

- If the global temperature monitoring system were viewed as a 'lab instrument' it has never had even ONE DAY where it could remotely be considered to be 'in calibration'. Worse, not only is the instrumentation itself 'uncalibrated', it is systematically being 'adjusted' to ensure that it shows a warming trend. Significant numbers of data points are simply 'made up' (i.e., 'interpolated') from stations located sometimes over 1000 km away. Example: a single station now supplies all the data for Canada north of 65 degrees (and that location is frequently described as the 'Garden Spot of the Arctic'). In many instances, stations showing cooling trends are systematically dropped from data reporting.

- It's arguable *ALL* terrestrial surface-temperature databases exhibit very serious problems which render them USELESS for determining accurate long-term temperature trends. The data have been skewed to the point of overstating observed warming both regionally and globally. Instrumental temperature data for 1850-1980 have been widely, systematically, and uni-directionally 'adjusted' to the point they cannot be credibly support the assertion of significant "global warming" in the 20th century.

- Global terrestrial temperature datasets have been critically compromised, if for no other reason, than because ¾ of the 6,000 stations which once existed are no longer reported or tracked(!) There has been a severe bias towards removing higher-altitude, higher-latitude, and rural stations, leading to a further overstatement of warming due to contamination by urbanization, changes in land use, improper siting, and inadequately-calibrated instrument upgrades. Numerous peer-reviewed papers have shown the overstatement is 30-50% from heat-island contamination alone, and when combined with the cherry-picking of observation sites and interpolated data grids, the heat-island bias could easily be more than 50% of any reported 20th-century warming. Thus: The temperature data bases are seriously flawed and cannot be trusted to assess climate trends or VALIDATE climate model predictions.

- In the oceans, critical data are 'missing' and uncertainties about what we do have are real. It has been presented by some that comprehensive coverage of ocean data has only been available since 2003... and that data shows no warming. Ouch.

- Satellite temperature monitoring has provided an alternative to terrestrial stations in compiling the global lower-troposphere temperature record. Their findings are increasingly diverging from the station-based constructions consistent with evidence of a warm bias in the surface temperature record. Changes have been made to alter the historical record to mask cyclical changes that could be readily explained by natural factors such as multi-decadal ocean and solar changes.

- NOAA and NASA, along with CRU, were among the driving forces behind the systematic declarations of 20th-century "global warming". These organizations should return to the critically vital task of data gathering - just maintain the integrity of the data collection process (and long-term storage!) and then provide data to various researchers as requested for independent analysis.

- A comprehensive external assessment of the surface temperature database records of CRU, GISS and NCDC "chaired and paneled by mutually agreed to climate scientists who do not have a vested interest in the outcome of the evaluations" is critically needed IMMEDIATELY.

- Any reports which rely on the global data by both the UN's IPCC and the US GCRP/CCSP groups requires a FULL and IMPARTIAL investigation and audit.

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Now - The following conclusions are MINE and dive into the realm of motivations and motives - which cannot be proven with any certainty - but, with that said...

First, the current proposals (supposedly) designed to address the AGW concerns - “cap-and-tax”, emissions trading, etc. - should be set aside until (a) the accuracy of the underlying supporting science can be confirmed and (b) the proposal be proven to accurately monitor and address the stated issue. IMHO, the emission trading systems currently proposed for the US and elsewhere - or as implemented in the EU - are 'phantom' trading mechanisms which offer no detectable effect on ANY aspect of climate, and (apparently) have all the identifying marks of a government-supported Ponzi scheme... The only ones likely to benefit from such systems are the traders... Why else are the larger world-wide banking institutions - e.g, the same folks that brought us the real estate collapse - be among its strongest backers?

Second, it can be reasonably argued that (1) the main climatology data centers have been and are continuing to produce fraudulent evidence in support of AGW, (2) the centers have actively concealed data and reports which contradict the AGW premise, (3) the responsible 'scientists' in charge of the centers have used the respect of their positions to personally attack the professional status and integrity of individuals and groups who question their findings, and (4) the majority of major climate experts are funded by governments (national and international), for the (apparently) express purpose of providing a 'scientific' and technical justification for the expansion of government power over individuals worldwide - not for 'solving' a climate 'problem'.

Third, the most important conclusion we can reach from all this, is that we don't really know what many of our experts have been assuring us that they *do* know - and that political leaders around the world including the President of the United States - are far more certain of the results of the available "science" than scientific evidence itself objectively warrants.

Fourth, the unjustified reliance on computer model predictions - especially when those models to not accurately reflect or track with real-world observations - needs to be scaled back immediately. Whenever you deal with a large-scale and extremely complex system like the climate, you will, by definition, have a significant level of 'uncertainty' about the model results. And when you consider the rate of change, local effects, and - most importantly - the measurable effect of mankind's actions (positive and negative) increases that level of uncertainty.

Fifth, climate scientists - on BOTH sides - should completely and fully release the data and calculations behind their analysis and predictions. They should be less hostile to those who disagree with them, and show a little humility that THEY MIGHT BE WRONG. I strongly believe increasing the openness about the scientific uncertainties surrounding climate science would have the long-term effect of increasing public confidence in the science behind it, rather than continue to undermine it. That will not eliminate the danger that some people (scientists and non-scientists) will continue to manipulate the data for their own agenda-driven ends, but the benefits from being open far outweigh the potential danger (which will come out in the wash eventually). NOTE: I think it’s healthy to properly pursue and welcome skepticism at all levels. Science grows and improves in the light of criticism. Bullying tactics of any kind or form are self-destructive and childish in the extreme.

Consider... a company as large and complex as Boeing can have its stock prices drop due to lower earnings in a three-month period than was predicted by analysts. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of hours consumed by a multitude of stock researchers using independent (and proprietary) computers models dedicated to predicting those future earnings. Boeing (and these analysts) have access to incredibly accurate data about Boeing's operations and prospects - and yet they still can't get it right over such a short period of time.

Yet climate scientists seem quite content to place their trust (and ours) in the modeling results of a vastly more complex system (climate), for a time period spanning multiple decades or even centuries. They do this even when it has been proven there are real integrity issues with the source (raw) data. The impact of their predictions and associated proposals to address climate concerns have vastly more impact on the world as a whole - yet precision and accuracy, not to mention comparison of the model to real-world observable events, seems to be, at best, an afterthought... Curious.

That's enough for this rant...

- Steve

* * * * *
one source, among many: http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/images/stories/papers/originals/surface_temp.pdf (Caveat: Are the authors well-known “deniers”? Yes. So what? That does not disqualify them from evaluating the available data or the evidence presented by AGW proponents. And, yes, they are trying to disprove AGW claims - that's the job the peer-reviewers are supposed to do, isn't it? Remember: it only takes ONE confirmed contrary observation from *any* source to disprove a theory.)
* * * * *

1 comment:

  1. ...and what a lengthy rant it was! I'll get a response up in a few days. Til then, a few short takes:

    First, I'll only ask you to re-read this post, then stand back see if you can spot the same inconsistancy of logic which I did.

    In the first part of the post, you say the science is corrupt - and generally give as a reason the political motivations of the scientists who are producing it. But in the second part, you seem unconcerned with whatever the political motivations of the deniers are.

    I suggest you are spending all of your time trying to track down and prove widespread political bias on the part of the scientists who generally agree with AR4, and none of your time questioning the political motivations of those who dispute it.

    In other words, you apparently assume, as a PRE-CONDITION, that your sources of denial are honest and the sources of advocacy are dishonest.

    Now you can try to smoke this up by claiming that political bias and ulterior motives have nothing to do with the science itself - as you have said before - but that is NOT what you are saying in THIS post. In fact, what you are saying is that bias has EVERYTHING to do with the science. If this is true - and you also claim objectivity - why wouldn't you balance your inquiry by subjecting the sources you rely on to the same questions you ask about those you don't?

    One other thing - which I'll detail a little further in my response...

    The IPCC's predictions about the Himalayan glaciers have indeed been proven to be inaccurate. Surprisingly, this problem wasn't uncovered by any of your team of deniers, but by Professor Graham Cogley - of Trent University in Canada - who happens to be one of the world's leading glaciologists. Dr. Cogley was also a contributor to AR4, and has confirmed on record that the problem with glacier melt rates does not affect the overall conclusions of the report.

    Now if AR4 represents such a tight little conspiracy of scientists, why would one of the actual conspirators be the first to identify one of the report's inaccuracies?

    I submit that you are going to find a number of predictions in AR4 which will not be as severe as predicted - as well as some which will be worse. That's the whole reason why there is going to be a 5th assessment.

    More, later - peace!

    P.S. - Maybe we should change the name of this blog to "Left, Right, Across and Climate Change" - jus' sayin