Don't Worry About the Weather

Email Print

Two large hurricanes
have struck the United States in recent months producing large-scale
evacuations, casualties and property damage. It should not surprise
readers of Lew Rockwell that these events result inevitably in calls
for significant intervention from the authorities: local, state
and federal. Much of this will be demands for the government to
do something, as always, at the taxpayer's expense to prevent, indemnify
and recover from these catastrophes. There will be many vociferous
demands from the "experts" to finally do something about
global warming, the certain causative agent (in their opinion).
All of this is specious climate noise.

The climatological
record of useful accuracy only goes back 100 to 150 years. Prior
to that time, the data is spotty from inaccurate and imprecise sources.
That is, it is useless as a predictive tool.

The earth is
some 4.5 billion years old according to established and accepted
scientific doctrine (by most). For this analysis, we'll neglect
errors due to small variations in the earth's rotation rate, leap
years and calendar corrections by various Papal authorities. There
are 54,750 days in 150 years, 365,000,000 in a million years, and
finally 1,642,500,000,000 (this is a little more than 1.6 trillion
days, or 1642 billion) in 4.5 billion. It should be obvious that
the "weather record" is statistically insignificant and
should not be used in making predictions. The sampling period is
too short.

The daily weather
report is fascinating, replete with beautiful graphics, and videos
of natures' splendor. It approximately tells me what is going to
happen tomorrow: rain, snow or sunshine. It's a useful tool. Do
I wear shorts, a coat, hat and gloves? It does not tell one what
to do for long-term planning, like investments, congressional spending,
or if they should finally build that beach condo in hurricane alley.

The weather
report is full of records as well. Listeners are regaled with tales
of all time record highs, lows, and rainfall, drought, strength
and frequency of hurricanes. Given the statistical insignificance
of the sampling period of these records (54,750/1,642,500,000,000,
which is a small number and thus statistically improbable) the prudent
observer should pay them no mind as these are not records at all,
but bad conjectures from incompetent statisticians (math skills
like these will not pass the actuarial
, which is the industry standard for statistical competence
that many companies rely upon).

The weather
is a complex dynamical system that mankind does not have the capability
to model accurately or make meaningful predictions from. I'll give
a brief postscript as to why, so the mathematically disinterested
can finish the article without this tedious diversion.

For arguments
sake let's say that the Almighty handed me an Excel spreadsheet
of the daily variance in high temperature for my home town, on a
single given day like New Years Eve, scaled from 0 to 1 for ease
of reading, for the last thousand years. Temperatures at 0.5 are
"average" those below colder those above hotter. It might
look like the following chart:

Zoom in on
say the last 150 years and it would like:

What does this
mean? As weather observers we travel along this chart from the left
to right (moving from 150 years ago to the present day). The peaks
and the valleys represent lots of "all time" daily highs
and lows in temperature as we move through this sampling period.
This is much like the weather viewing the past from the perspective
of today. However, this is meaningless when the data set is looked
at in total. It's random noise in the signal.

Now the Almighty
did not provide this data, it was downloaded from an atmospheric
turbulence monitor that is used for generating random
of very good statistical fidelity with respect to entropy
(degree of randomness).

The point here
is that an invalid statistical sampling interval cannot be used
for deriving conclusions because it introduces bias.
It is easy, as has been shown, to make good-looking data sets that
are meaningless, much like many other "official," and
useless statistical charts (aka chartjunk).

The weather
is behaving exactly as it should. All time records are not records
at all, just invalid conclusions drawn from poor samples. The danger
is that scores of climatologists, ecologists, bureaucrats, socialists,
policy wonks and lunatics want to use this kind of data to dramatically
alter societal behavior. They are certain that global warming is
an imminent danger and that drastic policy proscriptions are justified
so these zealots can save mankind from demise.

Al Gore (aka politician not currently in office) is stumping shamelessly
and vociferously with the media trumpets blaring and the talking
heads spouting about his commitment and "expertise" in
conjunction with his "documentary."
Lots of shrill pontification about ice cores and tree rings, yet
not a lot of actual data. Undeterred "experts" provide
a great deal of extrapolation,
which as all statisticians know, is dangerous territory. Al Gore
is at his best here: finding the dependent variable from a blizzard
of independent variables. This is mendacity in the extreme since
he has not, to my knowledge, ever been employed or trained as an
applied mathematician, an atmospheric physicist or a statistician.

These zealots
need to be treated as ignorant and dangerous. Ignorant, that is
lacking knowledge, because they do not understand these complex
dynamical systems, since no human beings currently can. Dangerous
in that they want to use the coercive power of the state to immediately
bend public behavior to their will. They have no hope of controlling
nature, so they will settle for controlling others, namely you and

This is just
a bunch of climate-induced noise designed for statist solutions
to have another excuse to wreak havoc on the public fisc. The legitimization
of such noise occurs when it is presented in a visually appealing
and intriguing format via the mass media which makes it an easy
sell to an uninformed populace. Unlike my random data, this noise
provides full employment, and state-backed empowerment for new legions
of bureaucrats, laws, regulations and taxes with a concomitant reduction
in the hard-earned capital available. That's real peril!

P.S. The "weather"
is a dynamic interaction between gravity, the rotation of the earth,
solar dynamics, thermodynamics, chemical kinetics and fluid flow
which is governed by the Navier-Stokes equation. All of this is
a non-linear system of partial differential equations that cannot
be solved or even approximated with current technology to any useful
accuracy. Any purported solution of this system is so infected with
simplifications to make the equations tractable, such that it perturbs
the system sufficiently so that it no longer represents what it
is modeling, and thus is, is invalid and wrong.

A one million
dollar prize is available for a proof
relating to the Navier Stokes equation should any readers be inclined
to remediate this situation with their genius.

26, 2006

Giles [send him mail] is
an independent thinker and writer in Nashville, Tennessee. He took
graduate course work in Atmospheric Physics under the Alabama State

Email Print