Thursday, December 30, 2010

Annals of climate activism: Predictions that have not come true 

Lest you thought that predictions of global climatic disaster are something new, here are eight rather wrong climate predictions from heretofore credible people over the last generation. As the pace of such predictions have increased considerably, it will be interesting to see whether such a list written in, say, 2025 is much longer and even more hilarious.

You know, if humanity survives that long.


By Blogger Stephen, at Thu Dec 30, 09:07:00 PM:

Will humanity exist in 2025? Are you being ironic? The malthusian luddites have been wrong not just about the weather but about peak oil, and the population explosion (not enough food for everyone). Hope springs eternal for these twits.  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Thu Dec 30, 09:09:00 PM:

Uh, yes. Irony is me.  

By Blogger JPMcT, at Fri Dec 31, 12:29:00 AM:

The Population bomb never went off.

The Silent Spring remains noisy.

The new ice age became The Greenhouse Effect which became Global Warming which became Climate Change which became Climate Chaos and we are now veering back full circle to the new ice age.

No more snow became significant Siberian Snow.

The only thing we DON'T have from all of this blather is a Hypothesis tested by Data and either Confirmed or Proved False.

Just a wee bit more scientific method and a lot less "consensus" would be good advice to those "97%" of meteorologists who blame humans for living on Earth and ignore the rhythmic cycles of the colossal nuclear fireball a scant 93 million miles away.  

By Blogger Don Cox, at Fri Dec 31, 04:51:00 AM:

"The Silent Spring remains noisy."

That is becausae DDT was banned.

Vultures are becoming rare, especially in India, because of another chemical accumulating in the food chain.

It has just been reported that British rivers are healthier and more full of wild life than they have been for decades. That didn't just happen. It is the result of conscious efforts to clean up the environment.  

By Blogger Don Cox, at Fri Dec 31, 05:03:00 AM:

"a Hypothesis tested by Data and either Confirmed or Proved False."

The hypothesis is basic physics: increasing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere raises the temperature.
You may say that the increase so far is unconvincing and that you can't perceive it. Certainly it is still quite small - less than 1 degree C. By 2025, it will be more noticeable, but still less than 2 degrees.

The effects of solar cycles are well known and are allowed for in all climate models.  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Fri Dec 31, 07:37:00 AM:

Don: Friendly observation that there are forcefully argued objections to all of this. I admit, I am not scientist enough (or at all) to separate the sound criticisms from the unsound ones, but it should be said.

So, regarding the influence of CO2 on temperature, my understanding is that the real basis for the hypothesis is that CO2 can raise temperature in a laboratory in very simple constructed "climates." While this is the best we can do -- there is no way to do a controlled experiment with the actual climate -- there remains a question (as I understand it) whether increases in CO2 *actually* raise temperatures in our climate.

Yes, we do know is that atmospheric CO2 has been rising because we have been sucking carbon out of the center of the earth and putting it in the atmosphere.

We do *not* know that temperatures have in fact been rising *because* of the CO2. We do not know this for many reasons, but first among them is that the science around the measurement of historical temperatures has become hopelessly politicized, and that has compromised the public discussion. We have known this for a long time; the ClimateGate emails were just the smoking gun.


By Blogger TigerHawk, at Fri Dec 31, 07:47:00 AM:

Again, as I understand it, there are at least two big problems with the historical record. The first is that there is an enormous amount of argument over whether recent temperatures are anomalous, or within the range of human experience. That is why the argument over the "medieval warming period" is so fraught.

The second is that even in the modern era, the largest and most frequently cited data sets rely on surface station data. As Anthony Watts has demonstration with his surface station project, in the US alone (and certainly elsewhere) many of these stations have become enveloped in heat islands as the world developed up around them. Those heat effects tend to bias temperature readings up. Fine, one might well adjust for that. The problem is that the "adjustments" used by the various climate analysts have not been done transparently or even according to common sense. Had they been done according to the scientific method we all understand, each adjustment would have been made with an accompanying explanation that could be assessed by people in advance *before* it was then run through the model. Instead (it seems) that scientists tweaked the station adjustments, ran them through the models, and then adjusted them again if they did not like the output. In any case, they did not document ex ante justifications for the surface station adjustments, which is a bit surprising. Basic notions of design control would seem to require that. So, as Watts demonstrates, you find that the preponderance of station adjustments *steepen* the carbon age temperature "hockey stick," which seems to magnify rather than adjust the heat island effect.


By Blogger TigerHawk, at Fri Dec 31, 07:58:00 AM:

Finally, there is the problem of forecasting. All the catastrophic scenarios (which are necessary to justify the proposed global regulation of all commercial activity) require a significant acceleration of temperature and its ill effects above the "straight line" rates of increase we have seen so far (if, in fact, we have seen them). To achieve this, the models assume that certain feedback loops in the climate will be positive rather than negative. As I understand it, many of these supposed positive feedback loops have not been proven. I had dinner a couple of years back with MIT atmospheric scientist Richard Lindzen, and he rather persuasively explained why the climate models were probably wrong in their assumptions about feedback loops.

Now, the climate activists are eager to show that these feedback loops are in fact positive, so that accounts for the reflexive assertions that this or that bad weather is a result of anthropogenic global warming. First it is more hurricanes. Oops. There aren't more hurricanes. Then it is more intense hurricanes. Oops. They are not more intense. The glaciers are melting. Oh, they are increasing in Antarctica? Adjust the models to show that they are supposed to do that there. And so on.

Never mind that we know (from the East Anglia document dump) that these models are written in spaghetti code, and really need to be rebuilt from the ground up under proper design control. It would be very interesting to see if they could duplicate their results without using result-oriented testing.

Point is, if scientists are going to argue for public policy changes based on their science, they need to be a lot more transparent. A lot more.  

By Blogger Stephen, at Fri Dec 31, 08:35:00 AM:

TH: You are being too nice to Don. Solar cycles are part of climate models? Tell that to Piers Corbyn.  

By Blogger JPMcT, at Fri Dec 31, 09:23:00 AM:

"That is becausae DDT was banned."

A decision that has been shown to be GENOCIDAL!!  

By Anonymous Ignoramus, at Fri Dec 31, 09:44:00 AM:

Global Warming can be used as a case study for everything that you can do wrong when doing science.

I’ve posted on this here before going back to a raging debate with one Brian Schmidt. Back then – when I first dug into AGW theory -- I was shocked by how shoddy the science was. I had thought it was just the politics that was bent.

Folks like Don Cox are True Believers – the more that the facts on the ground (I’ve been shoveling a lot of it lately!) bely their beliefs, the louder they’ll scream.

We’ll likely see a political fight over this in 2011 – with the EPA and the Supreme Court, etc. This fight will be skewed by AGW’s already having been “codified” as gospel truth in certain quarters, including by the EPA. “And yet it moves ….”

Developing …  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Fri Dec 31, 10:01:00 AM:

@Stephen - Solar cycles are indeed contemplated in climate models, which use an energy "budgeting" approach that includes the energy coming in from the sun, including its fluctuations. As I understand it (and I am not even a lay student of this area, just another dude who reads stuff), it is less clear whether models properly assess the impact of those fluctuations at the margin. I will say that in that same dinner with Richard Lindzen (who is, probably, the prominent "skeptic" with the most credibility in the scientific community) he said that he did not believe that the energy fluctuations from the sun were enough to change the game much either way. In fact, he was rather definitive on the point, FWIW. So I am not sure who is right on that subject.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Dec 31, 01:34:00 PM:

the best part of all that was the comments made by the incredibly-wrong bonehead screwups who made the wildly inaccurate predictions, or their toadying kissup acolytes.

loads and loads of industrial-grade manure, but they all seemed to boil down to...
1) "well yes, *technically* i was off by a factor of 100 or so, but it could still happen! run! run for the hills before it's too late!"
2) even though the bonehead idiot who made the stupid prediction of [horrific climate disaster "in a few years"] was wrong, "it might be right (...) say 50 years from now". or 100 years. or 1000. you know, after most of us have passed away and can't ridicule *that* idiot.
3) "in a general way, those seemingly-wrong predictions actually came true." just like 'the check's in the mail, and i'll still respect you in the morning' are "generally true".
4) "well, it was withing the margin of error." the margin i never mentioned before this, the margin i just now came up with.
5) (my personal fave) "erlich added, 'scientists don't live by the opinion of rush limbaugh and george W. they live by the support of their colleagues, and i've had full support of my colleagues continuously." (the colleagues who got millions of dollars in grants your idiot writings as a result of your idiot scribblings? quelle surprise!)

"but erlich admits that several of his own past environmetal predictions have not come true." (and yet he still enjoys "continuous, full support from his colleagues." curious.)  

By Blogger Don Cox, at Fri Dec 31, 02:58:00 PM:

"Finally, there is the problem of forecasting."

Yes indeed. I have seen forecast ranges of global temperature increase from 2 degrees C up to 20 degrees C. The first would be acceptable, the second disastrous - but not in our lifetimes.
There are similar ranges for sea level rise.

What nobody is saying is that global temperatures are not rising.

The question is by how much.

The next ten years should make it clearer. There are much better instruments now than 30 years ago, so new measurements are more accurate.

I see no need to panic, but I do expect shipping companies to benefit from use of the North West Passage.  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Fri Dec 31, 03:12:00 PM:

What nobody is saying is that global temperatures are not rising.

Sure they are. First, they have not risen in a decade or more. Second, the question is not whether they are rising over a longer period, but whether the increase is within the natural pre-carbon economy fluctuation or not. That's precisely what the "hockey stick" argument is all about. As I understand it.  

By Blogger JPMcT, at Sat Jan 01, 11:49:00 AM:

"What nobody is saying is that global temperatures are not rising."

Don, nobody is saying it because it is really not the point of the whole exercise.

This is a convenient index to create a crisis where, in all probability, none exists.

The REAL reason we are seemingly obsessed with "AGW" is simple: WEALTH.

Environmental activists, Globalists, The United Nations, Progressives, Communists and their ilk are using the issue as a political lever to transfer wealth through a series of taxes, "carbon offsets", energy surcharges, etc., etc., etc.

Quite a few enterprising groups are along for the ride, including much of professional academia, alternative energy entrepreneurs, lobbyists and media hacks. They all share a common interest...and it is NOT "the Environment"...it is the lure of easy money.

So, Don, what exactly do we have for all of this?

Do we have good data?
Do we have proposed solutions that will actually DO anything?
Do we have good evidence that this may not be a BOON to society rather than something out of the latest Hollywood disaster movie?

No, Don...We don't have butkis!!

If it weren't global warming...it would be some other potentially lethal but unquantifiable threat to drive the economic wealth and political of the world into the hands of a few....seemingly for the benefit of the many.

It's bullshit, Don.  

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