Climate Dead Horse
by George Giles
by George Giles
Fossil fuels are to blame, world scientists conclude, blare the headlines on USA Today. It's obviously a slow news week, the Iran nukes fail to spark into flame, the Hillary/Biden candidacy is a non-starter, the plunging value of dollar on world markets is ignored (again), and oil prices are falling (again). So why not fan the flames one more time on the global warming hysteria dead horse? This strident moan from government scientists for greater funding and wider powers is deafening, and it obscures the science.
It hurts to admit that I read USA Today, even if infrequently and always for free in a hotel lobby or looking down on a pile of them while waiting in a check out line at the mini-mart, but yes I do. As a devotee of LRC, Mises Institute and a fair amount of mathematical physics, this is tantamount to admission of a paid subscription to the Weekly World News (WWN). The painful truth is that both the McPaper and the WWN reach a wider audience than any of my favorites and that is the rub: allegation, posed as science, repeated uncritically ad nauseum, will be mistaken as science, and accepted as fact when it is not.
Patrick O'Driscoll and Dan Vergano, in USA Today report the finding of the "gold standard" Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) represents "a real convergence happening here, a consensus that this is a total global no-brainer," says U.S. climate scientist Jerry Mahlman, former director of the federal government's Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in New Jersey.
They go on with another bold quotation from this statist shill, I mean impartial scientist:
Mahlman, who crafted the IPCC language used to define levels of scientific certainty, says the new report will lay the blame at the feet of fossil fuels with "virtual certainty," meaning 99% sure. That's a significant jump from "likely," or 66% sure, in the group's last report in 2001, Mahlman says. His role in this year's effort involved spending two months reviewing the more than 1,600 pages of research that went into the new assessment.
Among the findings, Tebaldi says, is that even if people stopped burning the fossil fuels that release carbon dioxide, the heat-trapping gas blamed most for the warm-up, the effects of higher temperatures, including deadlier heat waves, coastal floods, longer droughts, worse wildfires and higher energy bills would not go away in our lifetime.
"Most of the carbon dioxide still would just be sitting there, staring at us for the next century," Mahlman says.
Where is the science in this report? The claim that 66% has gone to 99% and is thus certain? The 1,600 pages are all government-funded research with funding allocated to those that already believe in the conclusion else there would have been no funding to begin with. This is a club after all and divergent opinions are not welcome and definitely not funded. The smacks of statistical legerdemain: questionable data followed by a foregone conclusion.
Let's look at some secondary school science. Carbon Dioxide is a basic food for the plant kingdom. The process of photosynthesis converts carbon dioxide into complex carbohydrates using sunlight as the free energy input on which the entire animal kingdom ultimately depends for food. The increase in carbon dioxide is measured in a few parts per million, whereas the oxygen content is almost 20%, a massive differential. Anybody think having more oxygen is a bad idea? Oxygen is the waste product of plant respiration.
We learned (should have anyway) in junior high science that a system which is disturbed from equilibrium will tend to oppose the disturbance over time. This might occur through higher crop yields which will mean more food produced at a lower cost for the world's hungry. Anybody think this is a bad idea?
The earth is near (in astronomical terms) a large fusion reactor we call the sun. One half of the surface of the earth subtends a very small solid angle of the solar sphere absorbing the life giving energy flux (we call this daytime). The amount of energy produced by the sun is immense and what the earth can absorb is tiny. The amount absorbed is proportional to the solid angle subtended of the solar flux. A reasonable estimate is 6 ten-billionths, a very tiny fraction overall. A miniscule variation in solar output would thus have a dramatic change on the earth and its ecosystems.
Solar models are notoriously poor, just like weather models. Why? The models are incomplete, inaccurate, with poor quality input data, with initial and boundary values conditions that are primarily designed to allow model convergence rather than to properly represent physical reality. To get a feel for the true dynamism of the sun you might check the Space Weather site, a quick perusal of its data and links will rapidly convince the skeptical that it is inherently a dynamo and little understood except in the crudest term. The sun actually has no physical boundary but is a gas polytrope so any boundary value condition is a figment of the user's imagination.
Global warming models fundamentally depend upon the rate with which earth radiates waste heat into space with the problem being that the heat is trapped by the added carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, thus warming it. The problem with this is that the carbon dioxide molecules have no directionality with respect heat flow, and just as they will keep ground radiation in, they will also keep incident solar radiation out (cooler on cloudy days), that old equilibrium thing again. In the long run, these effects may cancel.
I will spare readers any further diatribe about the bad math, bad modeling, and erroneous conclusions resulting from same. I covered those in a previous LRC article. They are true for these assertions as well. Serious climatologists can send me their models and I will critique and publish my comments on the LRC blog for this article.
I do agree with the data that lately things have been warming up, it's the weather after all and even most children know how unpredictable the weather is. I was raised in Michigan during the sixties and seventies when a return to a little ice age was feared by the scientific community. However, the same people that cannot get weather right for next week, or next year, should not be given free reign as omniscient experts for the future weather indefinitely, that is an obvious paradox.
It does not take a great deal of technical expertise to raise viable and serious objections to the unproven and unprovable assertions of statist scientist and environmentalists alike. The problem is that the unscientific and uncritical mass media accept this tripe as fact. This repetitious braying at the national level condition the populace to accept these assertions as fact which then rapidly turns into legislation which is quickly accompanied by the inevitable legions of bureaucrats, regulators, monitors, and agencies (real threats). These are all funded from the productive economy impoverishing the rest of us, all to save us from the peril of warm weather, and cheaper food.
Dakota tribal wisdom says that when you discover you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.
However, in climatology and environmental science we often try other strategies with dead horses, including the following:
- Buying a stronger whip.
- Changing riders.
- Saying things like "This is the way we always have ridden this horse."
- Appointing a committee to study the horse.
- Arranging to visit other sites to see how they ride dead horses.
- Increasing the standards to qualify as a dead horse rider.
- Appointing a tiger team to revive the dead horse.
- Pass legislation declaring that "This horse is not dead."
- Unilaterally declaring, "No horse is too dead to beat."
- Blaming the horse's parents.
- Providing additional funding to increase the horse's performance.
- Do a Cost Analysis Study to see if government labs can ride the horse cheaper.
- Declare the horse is "better, faster and cheaper" dead.
- Revise the performance requirements for horses.
February 2, 2007
George Giles [send him mail] thinks heavily, drinks heavily, and makes many heavy notes in Nashville.
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