Friday, August 21, 2009

ZenTiger Consensus Science

Note to the Global Warming camp: The science isn't settled when it relies on consensus. Settled science is backed by proof. Currently we have theories and counter theories. New information is produced almost daily that turns old information on its head. We've got a long way to go before the science behind Global Warming can be confirmed (proven) as being man-made.

This does not mean I'm against sustainability and good management of our natural resources. Slightly different discussion.

Hat tip: Investigate Magazine Sep? edition

26 comment(s):

theatavism said...

Not that it really matter, but what proof would you need? \

There are heaps of interesting theories around climate science, but there is nothing to compete with the fact that C02 is a greenhouse gas.

Andrei said...

there is nothing to compete with the fact that C02 is a greenhouse gas.

Actually all gases are greenhouse gases - the importance of each in the scheme of things depends upon the proportion of each in the atmosphere and its specific heat.

And on both counts water vapor wins hands down as the most significant greenhouse gas with CO2 coming a distant second only by virtue of relative abundance and the lower specific heats of Nitrogen gas and Oxygen

ZenTiger said...

there is nothing to compete with the fact that C02 is a greenhouse gas.

Yes,that is a fact. That's what I'm looking for in science - facts. Now, as to your theory with an implied inescapable conclusion that CO2 is responsible for all of our global warming, can you tell me what percentage of the greenhouse gases CO2 is? How about water vapour?

What proof would you need

Do you want to start with proof that the present climate modeling software is complete? We could start with understanding why Mann's hockey stick is now accepted as flawed. (Do we have consensus on that?)

scrubone said...

But even if the proof for the current "consensus" were overwhelming, the problem then becomes "what to do about it", which is a political question.

That's where things get ugly and compromises must be made.

Andrei said...

That's what I'm looking for in science - facts.

Here is J. T. Kiehl and Kevin E. Trenberth paper where they estimate water vapour contributes 71% and CO2
contributes 29% with rest making the balance. However the acknowledge this is far from robust because GHGs interact with each other etc.

All in all if you are in the desert (where water vapor is low to non existent) it is hot during the day and freezing at night whereas on a tropical island with high humidity the temperature can rise during the night which is an anecdotal illustration of the importance of water vapor in the scheme of things.

David said...

That's what I'm looking for in science - facts

Then you'll miss all the best bits.Facts are really just boring little data points, it's the theories that explain those points that makes science interesting

You've both talked about water vapour, can either of you tell me what it has to do with the forcings from human emitted CO2?

Do you want to start with proof that the present climate modeling software is complete?

No model is complete, some are useful.

We could start with understanding why Mann's hockey stick is now accepted as flawed. (Do we have consensus on that?)

The extent to which it was flawed was down to some very arcane statistical points, the fact that it recovered a pattern that is robust to other statistical methods and to lots of proxies is the the subject of a scientific consenus

(openID not's working now, so this David is the one that is sometimes called "theatavism")

Andrei said...

You've both talked about water vapour, can either of you tell me what it has to do with the forcings from human emitted CO2?

Well given that water vapor is agreed to be the predominant ghg and that CO2 is a minor player and that "human emitted CO2" is a small (as yet undetermined) fraction of atmospheric CO2 it might suggest that the effect on the climate of "human emitted CO2" is minimal.

To overcome this problem true believers will say aha but warming will increase the uptake of water into the atmosphere causing a positive warming feedback. Neglecting of course that the atmospheres ability to take up water is limited depending on many variables and also neglecting that atmospheric water vapor forms clouds which have a high albedo, close to 1 in fact, and therefore reflect the incident radiation from the sun back into space instead of it being absorbed into the biosphere one way or another. This in fact mitigates warming.

As it happens the physics of all the processes are intractable so a lot of hand waving takes place to describe them.

No model is complete, some are useful. Only for agitation

see Deterministic nonperiodic flow. Journal of Atmospheric Sciences. Vol.20 : 130—141 by Edward Norton Lorenz for the a rigorous analysis on the limitations of computer models.

Effectively weather forecasts are of limited use beyond a week out and yet Climate forecasts 100 years hence are given credence.

Talking Point: Climate is not the same as weather.

Don't bother responding using this one, the limitation are in the modeling regardless of whether it is weather, the price of wethers in 2015 or the "average choose your climate metric in 2100.

in fact the IPCC whose very existence depends upon this scare will weed out any models that do not give warming for 2100 - they not being very useful to coin a phrase. They are of course as useful or as useless as any other from a scientific standpoint.

The extent to which it was flawed was down to some very arcane statistical points, the fact that it recovered a pattern that is robust to other statistical methods and to lots of proxies is the the subject of a scientific consenus

Double talk - the hockey stick was a fraud pure and simple - when the data was exposed it had been fiddled with and the statistical methods were invalid. It tells you nothing except for showing the willingness for the true believers to set skepticism aside when results that conform to their world view are produced.

On the other hand papers which contradict the "consensus" are immediately dismissed as flawed.

ZenTiger said...

Then you'll miss all the best bits. Facts are really just boring little data points, it's the theories that explain those points that makes science interesting

Yes, good point. I needed to qualify my statement. Theories are indeed immensely interesting.

Theories that the sea level could rise 1m, 30m or even 70m certainly are very interesting.

However, they are of course, just theories until some-one offers conclusive proof. Which gets me back to the idea that science of consensus, where the proofs are highly questionable due to the foundations they have been built upon is in a different category than say, Einsteins mathematical proofs.

That doesn't mean that I am advocating that we act like the ostrich (although if our legs grow longer it could help with a small sea level rise), all I'm actually saying is that when people say the science is settled because there is widespread consensus, then I'm just not quite ready to buy in to that.

And as Scrubone said, I'm more interested in the political dimension to the proposed solution, and often we see that the proposed solution may have nothing to do with the cause of the problem.

I.M Fletcher said...

I was SO annoyed at this woman on Good Morning today, the producer of that new climate change movie 'Stupid' something-or-other. She criticized the media for allowing debate on the issue, saying that 99% of scientists agreed about climate change - ie, the media shouldn't give scientists who disagree with anthropogenic climate change a platform. She likened it to someone coming on the show and arguing against where AIDS comes from, which is a setting up a totally different argument.

These greenies piss me off!! So sure that they know, when thousands of scientists disagree.

David said...

I think your inability to accept the consensus on climate change (and there is a reasonably widespread consensus on most issues, and an almost absolute consensus on others) comes from a fundamental lack of understanding of the basic underlying theory.

Andrei, once again, has offered this little strawman argument :

"Well given that water vapor is agreed to be the predominant ghg and that CO2 is a minor player and that "human emitted CO2" is a small (as yet undetermined) fraction of atmospheric CO2 it might suggest that the effect on the climate of "human emitted CO2" is minimal."

It does not suggest this at all. The average global temperature during the 20th century was 13.9 degrees C, that's 286.9 degrees Kelvin. Kelvin is used as a standandised unit in science as it more directly relates to an amount of energy. Zero degrees Kelvin is absolute zero. This shows that a warming of just 3 or even 6 degrees is not a large percentage increase on top of the 'normal' amount of energy in the atmosphere.

Given that these kinds of obviously flawed arguements seem to be the standard among the denialist camp, arguements that can be refuted using a level of knowledge that can be obtained in high school, it's little wonder you can't can't come to grips with the more complex issues.

This is the other other david btw

ZenTiger said...

I think your inability to accept the consensus on climate change (and there is a reasonably widespread consensus on most issues, and an almost absolute consensus on others) comes from a fundamental lack of understanding of the basic underlying theory.

Possibly. Although I'm going off some other pretty well informed scientists that are not convinced of AGW (are you substituting "Climate Change" for AGW? I don't disagree the climate changes). Maybe they can't come to grips with it either.

It does not suggest this at all. The average global temperature during the 20th century was 13.9 degrees C, that's 286.9 degrees Kelvin.

Sorry, I don't understand what your point is in relation to acknowledging that CO2 is only one of the ghg, and that the man-made component of CO2 is smaller again.

I do acknowledge that the smaller proportions might still have a disproportionately large effect, but it does not follow automatically that it will and does.

There are so many other variables, such as the sun that may ultimately have a bigger impact on Climate Change, irrespective of AGW.

David said...

Read what Andrei actually said. He said that because man made CO2 emissions is only a small percentage of the full GHG effect, it follows that the effect on the climate will be minimal. This is false, as it may only require a small percentage increase in energy levels to create a degree of warming harmful enough to cause us problems.

It's a strawman arguement, as it isn't actually refuting any claim that's being made, and even if it was it's still a bad arguement. If I were a climatologist with a heavy workload, I wouldn't waste my time refuting this level of ignorance.

Oh, and btw I don't actually think it matters what you call it, climate change, AGW. I should point out at this stage that the term, 'climate change' was embraced by the American conservatives as it was deemed 'less threatening' than 'global warming'. Both sides have politicised this debate to an extent.

Andrei said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Andrei said...

Read what Andrei actually said. He said that because man made CO2 emissions is only a small percentage of the full GHG effect, it follows that the effect on the climate will be minimal.

Before getting hysterical how about quoting what I actually wrote to wit

Well given that water vapor is agreed to be the predominant ghg and that CO2 is a minor player and that "human emitted CO2" is a small (as yet undetermined) fraction of atmospheric CO2 it might suggest that the effect on the climate of "human emitted CO2" is minimal.


Since when does "it follows" equate to "it might suggest"?

And if you cannot understand simple English then how the hell can you grasp advanced Thermodynamics?

sheesh

No wonder so many people believe this crap if this is the level of their reading comprehension.

David said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David said...

That slight change in wording doesn't change the bulk of your argument, it just points to some uncertainty on your part (which is a good thing I suppose, considering what that argument is), the bulk of your statement is still completely irrelevant.

ZenTiger said...

Oh, and btw I don't actually think it matters what you call it, climate change, AGW.

It matters a lot. A group of people are blaming any climate change on the man-made contribution of various gases. So it follows that looking at the proof for the man-made contribution is required, because the suggestion is we can alter the climate "back" if we manage our CO2 emissions. There are many contestable links in that chain of thought.

So I'm talking about AGW, and I'm not sure "consensus" science means all of these man-made links have been sufficiently proven.

Further to that, sometimes the "solutions" offered seem to have little to do with the science, and become even more questionable.

theatavism said...

Theories that the sea level could rise 1m, 30m or even 70m certainly are very interesting.


This is an aside, but
those aren't theories in the scientific sense.

I do acknowledge that the smaller proportions might still have a disproportionately large effect, but it does not follow automatically that it will and does.

But if they don't even need to have disproportionately large effect to drive climate change. There is a natural greenhouse effect, if we add more of the gas that causes 10-25% of that effect to the atmosphere the effect will be larger.

There are so many other variables, such as the sun that may ultimately have a bigger impact on Climate Change, irrespective of AGW.

Oh, quickly, someone inform the IPCC! I'm sure that no one has ever thought that the sun might something to do with the earth's temperature!

There is a consensus amongst climate scientists (and every professional scientific body that's made a statement) that recent climate change is down to us, if you look into it you'll see why.

ZenTiger said...

But if they don't even need to have disproportionately large effect to drive climate change. There is a natural greenhouse effect, if we add more of the gas that causes 10-25% of that effect to the atmosphere the effect will be larger.

They may be, but are scientists sure about this? What was the temperature in the past when the C02 levels were several hundred ppm higher than today? I thought we have found examples in history of much higher C02 concentrations, and yet similar temperatures?

Oh, quickly, someone inform the IPCC! I'm sure that no one has ever thought that the sun might something to do with the earth's temperature!

Sure, they think that. But do they take that into account? I am under the impression some scientists look almost exclusively at the CO2 rises, and then attribute climate change solely to this. for example, I'm still coming across articles banging on about snow loss on Kilimanjaro being all to do with CO2 levels, and yet I've seen other studies acknowledging the snow loss started decades earlier and is more likely to do with deforestation on the lower slops, and the changes that wrought to moisture levels higher up.

There is a consensus amongst climate scientists (and every professional scientific body that's made a statement) that recent climate change is down to us, if you look into it you'll see why.

I'm looking into it. Could take me a while. I'm better able to evaluate political responses to issues around sustainability, than the scientific arguments for AGW, but I'll get there eventually.

theatavism said...

What was the temperature in the past when the C02 levels were several hundred ppm higher than today? I thought we have found examples in history of much higher C02 concentrations, and yet similar temperatures?

No one argues that CO2 is the only thing that's ever driven temperature, the consensus is about recent warming

I am under the impression some scientists look almost exclusively at the CO2 rises, and then attribute climate change solely to this.

Well it can't be the sun because we haven't had more energy from the sun over the period that the earth's been warming! Of course scientists look at all the forcings, it's just when you do that it becomes obvious that human emissions are behind recent warming

ZenTiger said...

No one argues that CO2 is the only thing that's ever driven temperature, the consensus is about recent warming

And yet, if CO2 can exist in considerably higher concentrations and not affect warming, there may be other causes affecting warming?

Was it consensus that explained Kilimanjaro's declining snow levels? and then when investigated more thoroughly, we found another reason?

Which could dramatically revise the solutions that are being suggested. We could be more aggressively restocking and managing the overfishing, and ensuring we reverse deforestation and come up with a better result than taxing carbon.

Thanks for the links. It's refreshing for the scientist types to be resorting to Wikipedia - usually they disparage Wikipedia as a source :-)

Andrei said...

Well it can't be the sun because we haven't had more energy from the sun over the period that the earth's been warming!

Stop right there. The Sun varies its output continually ever heard of the
Maunder Minimum?" Which inconveniently for you
coincides with a period notable for being cold - the little ice age.

All of which suggests variations in solar output are indeed in part behind decadal variations in global temperature.

theatavism said...

Wasn't it you that was ranting and raving about reading comprehension?

ZenTiger said...

There are two ends to reading comprehension - the writer may not communicate clearly either. Easily sorted, we can post comments to clarify.

In what could be the simplest explanation for one component of global warming, a new study shows the Sun's radiation has increased by .05 percent per decade since the late 1970s.

The Sun's increasing output has only been monitored with precision since satellite technology allowed necessary observations. Willson is not sure if the trend extends further back in time, but other studies suggest it does.

"This trend is important because, if sustained over many decades, it could cause significant climate change," Willson said.

In a NASA-funded study recently published in Geophysical Research Letters, Willson and his colleagues speculate on the possible history of the trend based on data collected in the pre-satellite era.

"Solar activity has apparently been going upward for a century or more," Willson told SPACE.com today.


Everywhere I turn, I find (potentially) conflicting information. So it seems I have the wrong end of the stick. What do you mean by "it can't have been the sun..."?

theatavism said...

What do you mean by "it can't have been the sun..."?

I meant "it can't have been the sun

ZenTiger said...

Very interesting link, thanks. As usual, the comments thread makes for an interesting read. Unfortunately, some of the links from that thread don't work.

Post a Comment

Please be respectful. Foul language and personal attacks may get your comment deleted without warning. Contact us if your comment doesn't appear - the spam filter may have grabbed it.