Friday, November 27, 2009

How to Forge a Consensus

I admit it, I love the way English words and phrases can be used to imply two opposite meanings.

The word "forge" means to fabricate, which itself also has two meanings, either to create something real or to fake something. A bit like Japanese where the word "to believe" (shinjiru) also means "to imagine".

Well a good part of the climate science community is wondering which kind of forging has happened around its vaunted "consensus", as the leaked emails and programs from the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia reveal a nice little Catch-22. As you have read by now, (unless you rely on regular newspapers for your news) the debate about global warming often came down to "skeptical climate research that has not been published in peer reviewed journals is meaningless".

Now the evidence is clear that publication in peer reviewed journals was controlled by one side of the debate, not coincidentally the side that kept saying "the consensus of scientists is that AGW is real and getting worse."

Not so fast, Carbon Dioxide Breath!

If the science can't be replicated independently, it's not science. Fraud, maybe. Belief and imagining, for sure.

The consensus was forged. And not the good meaning of forged.

Acknowledgements to the Wall Street Journal blog for the theme

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Groupthink and Climate Change

HUNTSVILLE, AL - Science doesn't support current global warming alarms and, even if it did, current proposals to fix things won't work and might make life worse.

That's the well-known view of Dr. John Christy, a University of Alabama in Huntsville climate scientist, and Christy spelled out the "whys" and "why nots" of his perspective Tuesday to the Huntsville Rotary Club.

"Consensus is not science," Christy began, quoting the late author Michael Crichton.

Christy, the state climatologist, is well-known in the global warming debate. He has testified before Congress many times and was an unpaid expert witness for the automobile industry in a federal lawsuit against fleet mileage requirements.

Here's Christy's basic argument:

* The data being used to predict catastrophic warming is suspect.

* Models generated from that data "overstate the warming" actually taking place. The earth is warming, but not that much, and it has warmed and cooled for eons.

* The Earth's atmosphere is nowhere near as sensitive to carbon dioxide as some environmentalists believe.

* Any "solution" to perceived global warming must balance the growing worldwide demand for energy against cutting carbon dioxide output.

Fleet mileage requirements now proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency "would reduce global temperatures by about 1/100th of a degree," Christy said.

You would need to replace 1,000 coal-fired power plants with 1,000 nuclear plants to change global climate even .15 of a degree, he said.

"This is the scale (of global climate) we are talking about," Christy said.

* One cost of mandating harsh energy controls is the migration of industry to areas where requirements are less, Christy said.

In his talk, Christy also took aim at several other widely discussed pronouncements.

* Temperatures in the Arctic have increased over the last 100 years, he agreed, but that's only because 100 years ago "was the coldest it's been in a long time."

* Arctic ice has melted, but ice has grown in Antarctica. Between the two, there's about as much ice as always.

* There are more polar bears now, not fewer. Canada issues 800 bear-hunting permits each year, he pointed out.

* Temperatures may be warmer in Greenland, but scientific experiments with ice fields show "that 4,000 years ago, it was warmer in Greenland than it is today.

"Greenland did not melt," Christy said.

Why is the apocalyptic view of climate change so widespread?

"Funding comes if you have an alarming story," Christy said.

He also cited "group think" and said scientists revel in the attention their views about climate brings.

"It's almost a drug," Christy said.

Friday, November 06, 2009

The atmosphere is bigger than you think

Reduce your carbon footprint and save the planet!

Q: How much carbon should I remove from my footprint?
A: 1,767,250,000,000 metric tonnes per Centigrade degree of global average temperature change, attributing all temperature increase over the past 150 years to CO2 emissions. (Your mileage may vary, depending on whether you think the sun may somehow affect Earth's temperature, you outrageous radical). One point seven six seven quadrillion tonnes.

Put that into perspective:
  • A North American household contributes 24 tonnes per year of CO2
  • US emissions are 6,000,000,000 tonnes per year, total. Eliminate those emissions and the effect on temperature is about 3 thousandths of a Centigrade degree.
Here in Canada, we could divide that number by ten. Shut down every CO2 source for a year, save 3 ten thousandths of a degree. Wow.

So let's keep asking people who want to save us all from whatever terrifies them "what effect will it have on temperatures?" If the answer is a number that is detectable in real life, it is wrong.

Read the analysis here on World Climate Report. The various info sources are either US government stats or associated with Al Gore, in case you were wondering about "denier" "bias".

I use compact fluorescent bulbs to save money. Saving the planet? The planet will take care of itself.