I have asked my good friend Steve Smith to share some of his research on Global Warming. I have great respect for him as a thinker, I also love his unique perspectives. This is the 2nd (to see part one)in a series of three posts, look for the next installment soon.
Stephen Smith has a B.A. in Math from San Jose State University. During the day he is a Computer Systems Quality Engineer and programmer, so he understands well the ability of programmers to manipulate outcomes in computer models. In his spare time he researches and writes about issues related to maximizing individual and collective freedom, specializing in detecting manipulation, propaganda, and social engineering at various levels from interpersonal to international. Other areas of interest include history, music, linguistics, physics, “complex” systems, and chaos theory.
Part 2 of 3 — Scientists say “dramatic effects (such as a runaway greenhouse effect) are very unlikely.”
The Kleptics claim the earth is warmer now than at any time in the last 2000 years, that it is because of human generated green house gases (GHG) building up in the atmosphere, and that if we do not stop releasing GHG (mostly CO2) then the earth could cross over into a new climate state leading to a runaway green house that will drastically warm the planet. These predictions are based on generalized circulation modeling (GCM) done on computers, using data obtained from direct instrumental measurements and numerous temperature “proxies” such as ice cores, tree rings, stalactites, sediment cores, etc. Using proxy data from carefully selected tree ring samples, they have eliminated the medieval warm period and made the Roman warm period appear less likely. In their view, changes in solar activity account for only 30% of the warming.
According to the GCMs, CO2 is the main culprit, and if we don’t control it there were be catastrophe and war. Human contributions to GHG are changing difficulties into disasters. They speak with great certainty, claiming the debate is over. Even if they turn out to be wrong, the Kleptics believe we should take preemptive actions because we cannot afford for them to be right and have done nothing. The science is complete and the debate is over. Humanity is guilty until proven innocent.
The Skeptics claim the earth is no warmer, and possibly less warm, than either the medieval warm period (700 to 1200 years ago) when the Vikings thrived in Greenland, or the Roman warm period (1600 to 2200 years ago) when wine grapes grew in England. All of the warming can be explained by natural variability, including increased solar activity (more active than any time in the last 11000 years, and 2.3 times more active than 130 years ago). All of the planets appear to be warming, which further implicates the sun and its interaction with the planets and the galaxy. There’s a fair chance that the Earth is entering a cooling period. Given that the ocean is slow to warm and slow to cool, we can expect stormy weather. The primary measure of the goodness of a scientific model is the ability to predict new events and discoveries with regularity, which the GCM have proven to be week at. Aside from the warming, many conditions predicted by the climate models are not appearing.
Skeptics believe that the Kleptics plans are too expensive for the expected return on investment (ROI), and that the Kleptics know this. Skeptics claim that the Kleptics will keep asking for tighter and tighter restrictions until we are living in the stone age or new technologies make the Kleptics rich. Besides, plants like CO2, proxies are not entirely proven, the Kleptics regularly splice together datasets from different sources, the Kleptics try to prevent standard scientific reviews, and the Kleptics disregarded tens of thousands of data points about CO2 fluctuations in the past 150 years so that they can establish a false “stable” pre-industrial CO2 level of 280 parts per million. Science is never complete, and debate is never over. Humanity is innocent until proven guilty. Climate change has happened in the past and it will happen in the future.
To better understand climate modeling I skimmed through all of the articles in the nearly 300 pages of Monograph 126 of the American Geophysical union, titled “The Oceans and Rapid Climate Change, Past, Present and Future”, edited by Dan Seidov, Bernd J. Haupt and Mark Maslin, 1993. This activity gave me great respect for the climate modelers. I enjoyed drinking from the proverbial fire hose. Naturally I wasn’t able to swallow as much as I would like, but what I did swallow was far more pure than the muddy water found on many of the comment threads on climate blogs, where opinions are declared as facts and accusations are made with impunity. What I found in these studies were many statements displaying the classic uncertainty found in legitimate scientific studies. This was very different from reading the declarations of certainty and so called “fact” of AGW/ACC found in the pro-AGW blogs, news media and government web sites.
The most telling of these declarations stated that “the model also shows that dramatic effects (such as a runaway greenhouse effect) are very unlikely.” [Stocker, et al, 2001, p. 289]. Notice how the title of this section includes the words “scientists say”. All you need is two scientists to say it for it to be true. This article was written by at least two scientists. It is the standard approach of the main stream media to make statements like that with regard to science. But science is more complex than that. Still, this was from a valid, peer reviewed study and carries is more valid than statements from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report that referenced anecdotal sources (mountain climbers), student masters thesis, and environmental groups such as the World Wildlife Fund.
These oceanic circulation studies illustrate how complex the systems are. They also illustrate how inadequate computer models are when it comes to modeling something as complex as the climate: “… as with the ocean simulations, one should emphasized that those results are still highly uncertain. Nevertheless they indicate that significant, but not catastrophic positive feedback mechanisms are associated with them.”
In 1993Van Loon and Labitzke showed a strong correlation between solar flux and the behavior of the stratospheric (high altitude) cyclone and anticyclone in the arctic, depending upon the phase of the Quasi-Biennial Oscillation (direction of air flow from the equator). Hundred year running averages of monthly sunspot numbers indicate an increase to 33% above the relative high and 53% above the relative low between 1849 and 1899. From looking at graphs of Earth’s changing orbit around the sun it would seem we can expect fewer extremes in weather (because of less eccentricity), smaller differences between the Northern and Southern hemispheres (because of reduced obliquity), and warmer Springs and cooler Falls in the Northern Hemisphere (as perihelon moves from Winter to Spring), over thousands of years.
Despite the reasonableness of the presentation in the scientific literature, this topic of AGW/ACC is one of the most contentious I have ever seen. Scientists who should be the most immune to conflct from being challenged by alternative research have actually taken steps to shut down scientific inquiry and discourse. Such intellectual cowardice is the hallmark of a dogmatist, and is anathema to scientific progress. This has given many legitimately skeptical scientists no alternative but to turn to the Internet as a publication mechanism, where peer review is non-existent (which isn’t necessarily worse than incestuous and corrupt peer review which gives the appearance of propriety and verifiability when none exists). Dogmatism has the effect of creating an emergent, subconscious, de facto “conspiracy”, which exists in every practical sense of the word, but which can be denied on technical and legal grounds.