Saturday, April 14, 2007

Falling for Junk Science - the tale of Global Warming

Is it an "Inconvenient" or "Unlikely" Truth?

Below are some of the elements that comprise the conjectures of those who advocate taking action to mitigate the damages that are predicted resulting from the presumed warming of the Earth.

1. The global temperature, over the last hundred years, has trended upward, with the actual increases subject to dispute, depending on which “expert” findings are being used.

2. Terrible consequences will result, including a rise in ocean height (ranging in magnitude from 18 inches to 20 feet, depending on whose predictions are in play), which will make shoreline population centers uninhabitable, cause animal species to disappear, generate massive storm systems, and other phenomena, all of which reduce the quality of life on earth.

3. These consequences will occur at some unspecified time in the future, years from now.

4. This rise in temperature is either exclusively or primarily, due to an increased presence of Carbon Dioxide, caused by man-made pollution from cars, power plants, and other industrial sources.

5. To have any chance to intervene in these changes, all of the world’s inhabitants must begin immediately to reduce this pollution.

Notice that the likelihood that each assumption is absolutely dependent on the accuracy of the previous assertion. If any assumption is false, or questionable, those following cannot be valid.

Temperature Trending Upward?

Suppose for a moment that based on temperature measurements during the 20th century, advocates of the global warming hypothesis predict that the 21st century will see the following rise in the average yearly global temperature beginning in 2000 with the prediction ending in the year 2100.

Certainly, if we accept this graph, it clearly shows that global temperature is climbing, and at some point, it will rise to a point that will significantly effect the Earth’s climate.

Now, let’s jump ahead to our long removed descendants, assuming they have hung around the Earth, instead of migrating out to the Sun’s planets, or far beyond, to other galaxies.

In the year 3750, scientist begin to track the measured rise and fall of the Earth’s temperature, since 1900. Supposing this graph represents their findings:

The difference in the two graphs represents the most severe of the problems in the calculation of trends. Taken against the age of the earth, or for that matter, the length of time that human beings have inhabited the planet, one hundred years is a completely unreliable base (sample) upon which to premise future predictions.

The Consequences of Global Warming

Given that the trend demonstrated in the first graph is accurate, the rise in oceanic levels is the most devastating of the hypothesized consequences. The cause is presumed to rest with the melting of glaciers throughout the world. Yet, while advocates assert temperature is rising, and polar glaciers are receding as predicted, Antarctic glaciers have been growing. That this is occurring, would seem to reduce the probability of a direct casual relationship between temperature and oceanic height.

A second problem associated with predictions of the magnitude of the change which is forecasted. With a range of 18 inches to 20 feet, (over an undefined period of time) there is obvious disagreement among those making these predictions. There would seem to be several possible reasons for the disparity: (a) investigators are using the same data, with differences in conclusions resulting from the use of varying mathematical models; (b) investigators work from diverse raw data sets, leading to the variances in findings; (c) some combination of (a) and (b). Given this variance, on what is strategic planning to be based?

There is also the problem of establishing a cause-effect relationship between events. The permafrost is liquefying throughout Alaska and much of Russia. This presents serious problems, as the frost line goes to deeper levels of the ground. Yet, while this change is definitely occurring, are we able to say that there is a direct causal linkage between this event and the hypothesized rise in temperature?

Time Frame for Consequences

Earthquakes are a known danger for those located along the Pacific rim – a substantial portion of the world’s population. Scientists can predict the magnitude, the damage that can occur, and the geographic areas likely to suffer loss of life, injury and property destruction. No one doubts that destructive quakes will occur, since there has been much to verify that they do, and excellent data describing their past effects. What cannot be predicted is precisely when quakes will happen. Yet, time probability predictions have been made. For those affected by the San Andreas fault, there is a 70% probability that a magnitude 7.0 or greater quake will occur within the next thirty years.

As described earlier, there is a 1 in 10,000 chance that an asteroid will strike the Earth between 2034 and 2036, causing severe regional damage. A specific impact point is unavailable as of this writing.

Not so with the dire predictions of Global warming. Neither time, nor the extent of damage or destruction have been specified, let alone having any probability estimates attached to such predictions. Yet, we are told that we must take action immediately to prevent the occurrence of this phenomenon.

Ordinarily scientific findings are presented with a confidence level. Thus, we would expect to find a statement such as this: “By 2110, Ocean levels will rise from current height by an average of 2 feet, 6 inches with 95% confidence that that rise will be within 6 inches of the mean.”

No such predictions and associated probability statements are available, so we can have no expectation of the accuracy or likelihood that this range will occur.

The Cause

This is among the most difficult of the methodological assumptions regarding global warming. Again, assuming that the temperature trending posited by climatologists is correct, we come to the most challenging task – that of determining the correct explanation for this trend.

While the primary (and clearly conflated with political considerations) explanation, an increased presence of Carbon Dioxide is offered as the direct cause of temperature rise, with this increase in level posited to be linked with man-made pollution. Efforts to offer alternative explanations have been subject to enormous political pressure, directed at diverting attention from these alternatives.

The party line is that there is “consensus” among scientists, and thus, this single explanation represents “settled” science. Consequently, investigators seeking funding to explore theory which question the validity of this explanation, receive little consideration. Yet, many competing theories have been advanced, some of which are listed below:

· Temperature change is cyclical, tied directly to cyclic heating and cooling of the Sun. Significant empirical data exists to correlate these changes with historic changes in long term temperature history.

· Cosmic ray activity is also cyclic in its behavior, again well documented and correlated with temperature.

· A recent (within the last 50 years) increase in CO2 can be linked to deforestation caused both from logging activity, and a number of large wildfires. The result of this reduction of total trees on the surface of the planet naturally increases the CO2 percentage in the atmosphere.

· Cow flatulence, while not the primary cause of for CO2 presence is a contributing factor.

· An increase in the world’s population during the 20th century certainly adds to increasing CO2 levels in the atmosphere, directly attributable to the exhalation of CO2 by this enlarged population

Note that none of these explanations eliminates any of the others. Rather they point to a far more complex set of interactions, ruled out by the simplistic unitary explanation of man-made pollution.

“It’s Our Fault.”

In what has to be one of the largest scams ever foisted on the American public, we have been told that:

· global temperatures are rising, which at some unknown time in the future will severely impact on the quality of life of the planet’s human inhabitants.

· Since this temperature rise is due to the increase in CO2, this increase is directly attributable to man-made pollution.

· With the United States being the leader in industrialization and economic activity, individuals and businesses are, if not the greatest, certainly a significant contributor to man-made pollution.

· Therefore, to save the planet from the effects of global warming, Americans, whether individuals or businesses, must substantially change their behavior. The only way this can be done is at great cost, and consequent reduction in our standard of living.

That there is substantial public willingness to accept such a prescription is puzzling. The probability that all described above is entirely correct is probably in the same range as the chances of winning one of the major state or national lotteries. Those who invest major components of their assets tend to be those who can least afford such investments, and who are tempted by the rewards, rather than giving reasoned consideration to the chances of achieving them.

Lottery participants, if nothing else, know the potential award that could await them. In this instance, participation in this prescription provides no tangible reward, is uncertain as to whether any results will be achieved, and is certain only of the costs.

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