Today at Forbes, we have an excellent article by Peter Ferrara on the recently confirmed trend toward global cooling. The data, the correlations, and the grudging concessions by various powerhouses of global-warming alarmism leave no doubt that that house of cards, which always stood upon a shaky foundation of closely held temperature data and dubious computer simulations, has utterly collapsed.
But then, Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming (CAGW) was always a political cudgel rather than a serious scientific hypothesis. It was designed to chivvy the semi-free peoples of the West into surrendering what remains of our freedoms, in the name of “combating global warming.” That’s why whenever one of CAGW’s advocates got his face in front of a camera, he’d trumpet repeatedly that “the science is settled,” when there was no science at all behind the warmistas’ claims.
Back at Eternity Road, I summarized the clinching arguments against the CAGW hypothesis as a scientific contention:
1. A thesis that can’t predict is no thesis at all.
A genuine scientist will tell you that knowledge is confirmed by a chain of successful predictions. It’s not enough to get it right just once — that is, to perform a single experiment, get the expected results, and claim that one’s hypothesis is verified on that basis alone. Your thesis must be tested repeatedly, by multiple agencies, in objectively reproducible settings, without a single failure of prediction.
Successful predictions by the warmistas, including every “scientist” who’s ever signed onto the proposition: NONE.
2. If the data is kept secret, it isn’t science.
Warmista “scientists” have repeatedly refused to release their raw data, or to define the mechanisms by which that data was captured, or to commit themselves to an error bar around their measurements. In a handful of cases, these “researchers” have admitted that they can’t produce their raw data — that it’s somehow been lost. This is “the dog ate my homework” masquerading as scientific procedure.
It wouldn’t fly for Michael Bellesiles, and it won’t fly for the warmistas.
3. Heterogeneity in the data.
Heterogeneous data sets are incapable of proving anything.
Two data sets can be unsuitable for combination for a variety of reasons. One such reason is wide variation in the measuring techniques and instruments used. If temperatures were measured in recent years by thermometers placed in locations X with uncertainties E0, while the measurements from earlier years came from thermometers placed in greatly different locations Y, or with greatly different uncertainties E1, there is no statistically valid way to use them as inputs to a single computation.
The warmistas’ data sets are so heterogeneous that they don’t dare to describe them accurately. Deep-past temperature “measurements” are inferred from tree rings. The more recent past “measurements” come from several thousand thermometers of unknown quality. Immediate-past temperature data comes from a much smaller number of thermometers of better quality, but which are nowhere near the sites of earlier measurements, and in a great many cases are situated in or near heat islands such as cities or airports.
To suggest that data that heterogeneous can be made into a basis for long-range inference is to trade in fantasy. It’s about like predicting the average and distribution of human foot sizes based on their comparison to a human thumb — and in every individual case, to some new person’s thumb.
4. Deliberate omission of contributing factors.
In part, this hearkens back to the heterogeneous-data-set problem, but it also addresses the deliberate omission of explanatory factors such as solar input. The Earth’s energy influx is not constant, because the Sun is not constant. The Sun’s output varies by about 4% from its mean, and is also influenced by sunspots and other anomalies in the photosphere. Such variations are neither predictable nor easily accounted for in predictions of Earth climate conditions. But the warmistas refuse to accept that solar input can have a significant effect on global climate.
Also, with the recent increase of sea-bottom exploration and activity, particularly in the Arctic Circle, there have been a number of releases of methane gas from ocean-floor concentrations of disturbed decayed matter. The overall size of these releases is unknown, as facilities for measuring them have only become available very recently. However, since methane is itself a “greenhouse gas,” and more potent in that connection than CO2, these releases introduce additional uncertainty into all studies of heat-trapping by atmospheric gases.
5. Tendentious computer simulations.
A simulation of conditions that cannot be produced deliberately, which is the sort of simulation on which the warmistas rely, can only demonstrate what would come of those conditions if the assumptions and mechanisms built into the simulation were correct. Therefore, it can only be used as an argument for a given hypothesis if:
- All the initial conditions required by the simulation come to pass simultaneously;
- No extra contributors, or factors that would disturb measurements, are introduced by Mother Nature;
- The outcome reached by Nature matches that produced by the simulation.
To this point, those three requirements have never been satisfied — the warmistas’ simulations have yet to attain any standing for climate-change prediction.
6. The importance of deceit and motivation.
Many of the best known warmista “scientists” have been caught red-handed lying about their data, their techniques for “adjusting” it, and the reproducibility of their measurements. Additionally, as the East Anglia CRU documents make plain, these persons are not averse to using bullying tactics to deny dissenters a public voice. As the warmistas are the beneficiaries of large amounts of government funding that would come to a halt if their hypotheses were conclusively refuted, they have powerful reasons to shout down those who disagree. As their opponents have far smaller resources — no access to public treasuries — they are fatally hobbled in any contest of volume, despite their considerable numbers and eminence.
That’s as thorough a destruction of the CAGW hypothesis as a scientific contention as was possible at that time (February, 2010). The warmistas never improved their methods, their claims, or their ability to predict. Neither did they ever allow that any sort or quantity of evidence could cross-cut their claims. In short, they insisted that we accept CAGW on faith — faith in them.
Any who invested their faith in the warmistas are now on notice that they’ve been conned.
The whole episode stands as a lesson to the credulous and the gullible. When the Main Stream Media’s drums began to pound out the CAGW march, we should have been especially skeptical, in the best sense of that word: unwilling to commit in the absence of extensive evidence and successful predictions confirmed by multiple disinterested reviewers. Journalists love a “crisis,” and the CAGW hypothesis provided them with one they could hardly resist. But journalism is not science, not even at its very best. It’s merely a service of variable quality, vended to an audience in the hope of making money. Its claims must always be assessed in that light, especially when it aligns itself with persons and institutions screaming for totalitarian power over every kind and degree of human action.