Thursday, November 19, 2009

Peer-reviewed academic journal article shows that climate models don't offer even remotely accurate predictions

Comments by By Lubos Motl:

In this dose of peer-reviewed skeptical literature about the climate, we look to the Hydrological Science Journal. D. Koutsoyiannis, A. Efstratiadis, N. Mamassis, and A. Christofides wrote a text: "On the credibility of climate predictions (PDF)".

They simply compared the local predictions for temperature and precipitation by many models with the real observations and found out that: "... The results show that models perform poorly, even at a climatic (30-year) scale. Thus local model projections cannot be credible, whereas a common argument that models can perform better at larger spatial scales is unsupported.

Gavin Schmidt decided to criticize paper: RealClimate.ORG

If he has an argument against the paper, I haven't found it. I agree with Schmidt's comment that it should have been expected that the models won't reproduce the local climate - even though our expectations could have very different reasons (my reason is that I simply know that the existing climate models don't properly deal with most of the essential climatological processes; I am not sure about Gavin's reasons).

But Koutsoyiannis et al. probably agree with it, too. (Confirmed by the lead author himself in the fast comments.) However, Koutsoyiannis et al. say not only that the local predictions of the models have been falsified: they also correctly say that the statement that the predictions would work at the longer distance scales is unsupported. And it is unsupported, indeed.

What does the word "climate" mean? It is the information about the behavior of the weather in a given region at time scales longer than 30 years or so. When we talk about the climate, we may be averaging over longer time scales but we are surely not averaging over the planet. Climate is always associated with a region: that's why we can distinguish tropical, dry, moderate, continental, and polar climates. ;-)

There is no "global climate". When people talk about "global climate change", it is the whole "climate change" that is supposed to be supplemented by the adjective "global": we are surely not talking about the changes of the "global climate" because the latter doesn't exist. Even Wikipedia controlled by William Connolley seems to agree with this proposition. It is strange that Gavin Schmidt seems to disagree.

So the short-term weather signals are averaged out but as Koutsoyiannis et al. show, it is still not enough to obtain an agreement between the models and the reality. The models clearly don't reproduce many changes well, especially not the changes driven by the long term persistence (or auto-correlation) of the time series. Note that the Hurst exponents determine the "color of the noise" and because these exponents generically exceed 0.5 in climatology, the long term persistence (the "inertia" of the climate) is very important.

Even if you don't understand these words about the Hurst exponents, you should understand that the predictions of the climate models for any particular region in the world will be essentially uncorrelated with reality because the reality is dominated by effects that are not properly simulated by the models. Because every single person lives in a particular region of the world and every region of the world is more or less incorrectly predicted by the models, I think it means that no rationally thinking person should pay serious attention to the predictions of these models.

And can the models become good at long distance scales again? Maybe. But it is extremely unlikely. If you think that they do become good at the global scale, you are believing in a very contrived, fine-tuned hypothesis: all the detailed (short-term, local) data that can be tested come out incorrectly but only when you care about one number - the global long-term temperature trend - all the errors must conspire and evaporate.

So the fashionable "climate change theory" is supposed to be an effective theory that only works at distance scales T and length scales L that are longer than certain bounds. If you want to believe that Gavin Schmidt is right, you must also believe that T must be between 30 years and 100 years and L must be greater than 6,000 km or so but shorter than 40,000 km. Why? Because the theory is falsified by the observations at shorter time and distance scales (the detailed local and/or meteorological data). But for the theory to be relevant for the Earth, the distance cutoff must be shorter than 40,000 km. And for the theory to be scary enough for a few future generations, the time cutoff must be shorter than 100 years. ;-)

When you average the known data over these very long scales, you are exactly at the moment when you lose all nontrivial climate information that could have been used to validate the model. It is exactly the moment when you are supposed to start to believe the models.

I find such a belief unjustifiable and crazy. If an effective field theory only works well enough at distances longer than a cutoff scale L, there is absolutely no a priori good reason why L should be between 6,000 kilometers and 40,000 kilometers! ;-) 1,000 km is already a very long distance not only for a particle physicist :-) but also for various local atmospheric variations to average out and for a useful approximate theory of the climate to start to be relevant. However, these theories seem to break down, even in their long-term predictions. When they break down at the distance scale of 1,000 km, is sounds extremely reasonable to me to assume that they probably break at the 6,000 km scale, too.

Similarly, if a theory highly incorrectly predicts the global climate trends for 10 or 20 years, which we already know to be the case from observations (even for the global mean temperature), it seems unreasonable to expect that the theory will be very accurate for 30-year, 50-year, or 100-year predictions.

Assuming otherwise is remotely analogous to the belief that Jesus Christ was the only person who could have walked on water. It may have been true that Jesus Christ was the only person for whom some unlikely cancellations of the gravitational force took place but it doesn't seem too likely to a scientifically trained ear. OK, Christian readers are supposed to hold their belief at this point but I just think that this particular belief is not natural from a scientific vantage point.

So I prefer the common sense approach of old-fashioned science: if all the detailed predictions of the existing models have been shown incorrect, it probably means that the models themselves are incorrect or at least substantially incomplete.

SOURCE (See the original for links)

Climate Theology: Gore's new book offers eco-salvation to his followers: 'I'm offering you the choice of life or death'

As the scientific basis for Warmism becomes vanishingly small, the religious nature of it comes to the fore

On a page by itself, we find this inside the front cover of Al Gore's latest climate fraud promotion book: "I'm offering you the choice of life or death. You can choose either blessings or curses." --Deuteronomy Chapter 30, Verse 19

Let's imagine that a Republican former vice president (say Dan Quayle or Dick Cheney) authored a similar book telling us that apocalypse was at hand unless we shoveled massive amounts of public money toward companies they've heavily invested in. Let's say the Republican-authored book also prominently featured the Bible verse above, suggesting that Quayle or Cheney was offering the reader the choice between life of death.

In the scenario above, would the mainstream media give Quayle or Cheney with the same respect and free book promotion airtime that Gore has received in recent weeks?


An attack on the poorest coming up? Developing nations outstrip rich on greenhouse gases

DEVELOPING countries now emit more greenhouse gas than rich countries, according to a study that will intensify demands for all countries to set targets for cutting emissions. Total emissions from burning fossil fuels in developing countries, including China, India and Brazil, have more than doubled since 1990 and are continuing to rise rapidly. By contrast total emissions from developed countries, such as the US, Japan and Britain have hardly changed over the same period. Last year developed countries were responsible for 46 per cent of global emissions, with developing countries responsible for 54 per cent.

The figures, published by an international team of scientists, will put pressure on developing countries to set stricter targets for slowing the increase in emissions. China and India are refusing to agree to any cap on their emissions and are instead offering vague targets for cutting emissions per unit of GDP. China overtook the US in 2006 as the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases and has extended its lead each year since then.

The study, published in the journal Nature Geoscience, compared the total emissions of 38 developed countries with those of all other countries. The study said that the increase in emissions from developing countries was in part due to their manufacture of goods for export to rich countries.

Professor Le Quere said that emissions per person remained much higher in rich countries, which supported only about a billion of the world's population of 6.7 billion. However, explosive growth in emissions in some countries, especially China, meant that the gap was slowly closing. China emitted 4.8 tonnes of CO2 per person in 2007, a rise of 138 per cent since 1991. India emitted 1.2 tonnes, up 79 per cent, and Brazil 2.1 tonnes, up 30 per cent.

The UK's emissions fell 12 per cent over the same period to 9.3 tonnes per person and US per capita emissions fell by 1 per cent to 19.9 tonnes.

Professor Le Quere said that the study did not take account of historic responsibility for greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. She said that developing countries were responsible for only 20 per cent of cumulative emissions since 1751. "Emissions in rich countries have only stabilised because they have reached a certain stage of development which other countries have yet to attain."

The study also found that the growth in global emissions from fossil fuels had accelerated from 1 per cent a year in the 1990s to an average annual rate of 3.4 per cent between 2000 and 2008. The growth continued last year during the global economic downturn, though at a reduced rate of 2 per cent.

Coal has overtaken oil as the biggest source of emissions, largely because many developing countries, including China, have vast domestic reserves of coal but have to import oil.

The study also suggested that the rise in CO2 emissions was outstripping the Earth's ability to soak up the carbon in forests and oceans. It said that the levels of global emissions that remained in the atmosphere had grown from 40 to 45 per cent over the past 50 years. This finding was disputed in a separate report, published last week, by another scientist who studied the same data. Both studies involved scientists from Bristol University's climate change research program.

Wolfgang Knorr, writing in Geophysical Research Letters, found no increase in the proportion of emitted carbon remaining in the atmosphere, suggesting that forests and oceans were more effective than previously thought at soaking up man-made emissions.

The dispute between climate scientists at the same university will be seized upon by climate change sceptics, who argue that the scientific evidence for man-made global warming remains uncertain and open to differing interpretations.

Meanwhile, President Obama tried to restore confidence in international negotiations on climate change by saying that he wanted the UN summit in Copenhagen next month to agree an "accord that covers all of the issues in the negotiations, and one that has immediate operational effect". He was speaking in Beijing two days after his officials had ruled out signing a legally binding treaty in Copenhagen (!)


Reducing Humans to Carbon Ash

The latest morally monstrous proposal out of the environmentalist cult comes from Lord Smith of Finsbury. He suggests that each British citizen be given a government “carbon allowance.” For any transaction that increases a person’s “carbon footprint” such as using gasoline or taking an airline flight, they would have to “spend” part of their allowance. Once their allowance reaches zero, they would have to pay out of pocket to purchase more credits, assuming that they are available. It is “cap and trade” for the individual.

Appallingly anti-human

The appallingly anti-human nature of this proposal is only surpassed by the appalling ignorance and intellectual laziness of a public that is not appalled by the fact that their politicians are literally leading them to suicide. An essential aspect of our lives as humans is to employ the materials in our environment for our survival and well-being: converting plants into food; trees into houses; oil into energy; metals into medical equipment, automobiles, and aircraft.

It is often too costly for us to employ carbon dioxide, one of the “outputs” of our act of living, efficiently for our use. We produce CO2 in some of our industrial activities and, indeed, every time we exhale. (As do all animals!) Plants, of course, breathe in our CO2.

The carbon allowance scheme dehumanizes us by teaching us to view ourselves merely as carbon output units, and the less output the better. The implication of this view is that every single human activity—indeed, the very act of living—a sinful indulgence, like some criminal urge for which we should be ashamed and which we should strive to suppress.


Just as our superstitious ancestors tortured themselves with guilt over taking joy in the things of this world, so those who accept the premises of the environmental cult do so today. The latest example is the rise of couples who refuse to have children because each new child is considered pollution on the Earth. Naturally, it is the choice of each individual whether or not to become a parent. But consider the complete depravity of what the environmental cultists peddle as morality.

There are men and women who long to have children; to cradle newborns in their arms; to hold their babies’ hands as they take their first steps; to watch them play with their friends and their toys; to teach them to say “mommy” and “daddy”; to teach them to read; to play with them in the park; to help them with their studies; to attend their graduations; and to see them become responsible adults and, perhaps, parents themselves.

Now consider those men and women who would give up the challenge and the joy of becoming a parent, who would damn themselves to emptier lives of “if only it could have been” because they ingest the poisonous notion that each new child must be thought of first as a carbon unit that poisons this planet.

This is no joke. For decades eco-radicals have advocated zero population growth with government action to bring about that result. Now they have the ultimate argument for selling suicide, that carbon is bad and that to live as a human is to produce carbon.

So we now find a recent Oregon State University study that argues that the carbon impact of having a child is 20 times greater than any other environmental choice, such as driving a car. Thus it’s not surprising when New York Times columnist Andy Revkin broaches the idea of giving carbon credits for those who have fewer kids.

Combine this notion with the British scheme and the clear implication is that the government will allow couples to have kids only if they can “pay” for the impact of those children out of their carbon allowance.

Totalitarians and tattoos

Like any government program, the carbon allowance idea would only grow. Its inexorable conclusion would be truly totalitarian. How would government control all human activities in the name of reducing human carbon output?

In Britain Lord Smith wants each individual assigned an identification number to keep track of their activities; how about tattooing it to our wrists? The system certainly would expand to track and thus to limit or proscribe more and more of our activities. The system likely would soon become a mechanism to meet the goal, voiced by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s environmental adviser Jonathon Porritt, of cutting the country’s population in half, by 30 million, in order to build a “sustainable” society.

To the extent that individuals accept the eco-cult’s view of humans and accept guilt for living, they will acquiesce as the new puritan politicians claim the right to control and destroy their lives through a new Inquisition.

Yes, the excuse for these sorts of measures is the need to stop climate change; the term “global warming” is falling out of favor since the globe has refused to warm up much over the past decade.

Climates have changed radically throughout Earth’s history before humans were around. Further, science today has not come anywhere close to establishing that the Earth’s climate is dangerously warming up; that humans producing CO2 are the principal cause; that the effects will be catastrophic to human life; that draconian restrictions on human activity can prevent such warming; and that the harm done by these restrictions will not be far worse than the warming.

Yet it’s not with reticence and reluctance but, rather, with recklessness and relish that eco-cultists push their Luddite proposals. In spite of occasional weak claims that such measures are meant to help future humans—those children we’re not supposed to have—the logic behind them implies that in the best of all possible worlds all humans would have their carbon “sequestered,” that is, would become ash in the ground.

Any given individual might back this ideology out of ignorance, ill-intent, or a combination of the two. But whatever the case, those who love their lives and who love the potential of every human being must continue to confront this anti-human ideology and those who promote it, to make clear the ideology’s implications, and to refuse to allow themselves to be destroyed.


Russia talks the talk

But won't need to walk the walk

Stockholm - Russia has decided to cut greenhouse-gas emissions to 20-25 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020, diplomats at a summit with the European Union in Stockholm said Wednesday. Moscow's announcement of its goal should make it easier for the EU to demand emissions cuts from other key players, especially the United States and Canada, at United Nations talks on fighting global warming in Copenhagen and December, diplomats said.

The EU is keen to enlist Russian support ahead of the Copenhagen talks. The bloc's own target is to cut emissions to 20 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020, and to deepen the cut to 30 per cent if other developed economies make similar pledges.

Russia's decision to cut emissions to 20-25 per cent below 1990 levels strengthens an earlier proposal to cut emissions by some 10-15 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020. But it still means that Russia will be able to boost its emissions substantially over the next decade. This is because the country's Soviet industrial base collapsed in 1990 and has never been built back up to the same level.

Ahead of the summit, the host, Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt and his guest, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, both stressed the two sides' commitment to a deal in Copenhagen. "Our countries are among the most advanced in terms of commitments (to address climate change) and the desire to move ahead" in Copenhagen, Medvedev said.



Three current articles below

The usual Greenie people-hatred

Birth control should be used to cut "greenhouse gas" emissions

INVESTING in birth control to reduce population growth could be more effective in cutting greenhouse gas emissions than building wind turbines or nuclear power stations, according to a United Nations report. Taking action to prevent one billion births by 2050 would save as much carbon dioxide as constructing two million giant wind turbines.

The UN Population Fund report predicted that the global population could reach 10.5 billion by 2050, up from 6.8 billion today, unless urgent action was taken to reduce fertility rates. It said that even its medium-growth forecast of 2.3 billion more people by 2050, which assumes a fall in average fertility from 2.56 to 2.02 children per woman, would make it much harder to achieve the cuts in carbon emissions needed to prevent catastrophic climate change.

The report said that reducing population growth would allow the 2050 target for global average emissions per person to be increased significantly above the 2 tonnes recommended by Lord Stern of Brentford, the author of an influential government report on global warming in 2006. Living standards would be higher because each person would be able to emit more CO2.

The report said: "No human is genuinely carbon neutral. Therefore, everyone is part of the problem, so everyone must be part of the solution in some way. Each birth results not only in the emissions attributable to that person in his or her lifetime, but also the emissions of all his or her descendents."

The report rejected the idea of Chinese-style laws to control population but said that a similar result could be achieved by promoting contraception and better education for women. It said that 215 million women, mainly in developing countries, wanted contraception but had no access to it. Funding from donor countries for the UN's birth control program has fallen from $723 million at its peak in 1995 to $338 million in 2007.

The report also said that the longer women remained in education, the fewer babies they had. Women who had never gone to school had an average of 4.5 children. Those who completed one or two years of university had 1.7. "Dollar for dollar, investments in voluntary family planning and girls' education would, in the long run, reduce greenhouse gas emissions at least as much as investments in nuclear or wind energy," the report said.

It revealed that, contrary to received wisdom, rates of unintended pregnancies were higher in rich countries than in poor ones. In Europe, the US, Australia, Canada, Japan and New Zealand, an average of 41 per cent of pregnancies were unintended, compared with 35 per cent in developing countries.

However, most of the projected increase in population would be in developing countries. The population of Africa was expected to double to two billion by 2050. The population of all developed countries was likely to rise only 3 per cent, though this masked big differences, with the US population expected to rise by a third to 400 million and Japan's expected to decline by a fifth to 100million.

The Population Fund acknowledged that reducing population growth in developing countries would have little immediate impact on emissions because their inhabitants have relatively small carbon footprints. But it said that the savings would increase as the economies of developing countries grew and levels of consumption - and, therefore, emissions - rose.

The report said that population growth was only beginning to be recognised as an important topic in international negotiations on climate change. It will not be discussed at next month's UN summit in Copenhagen. "Fear of appearing supportive of population control has, until recently, held back any mention of 'population' in the climate debate."

A spokeswoman for Cafod, the Catholic aid agency, said it did not support the promotion of birth control in poor countries, where the "underlying causes of large families ... are lack of education of women and unequal power relationships between men and women".


Up to 30 conservative parliamentarians may vote against Warmist laws

UP to 30 Liberal MPs and senators are set to defy their leader Malcolm Turnbull on emissions trading, one of the party's prominent climate change sceptics said. More than a third of the party would "probably cross" the floor of Parliament to vote against the scheme even if Labor agreed to Coalition amendments, backbencher Dennis Jensen said. "I don't want to name them but there are 30 MPs," he told AAP.

Coalition MPs and senators were expected to consider the outcome of negotiations presently underway with Labor when they meet in Canberra next Tuesday. A Senate vote was expected late next week and any changes the upper house makes to the legislation would need the support of the Lower House, where Labor has a majority. In the Senate, Labor needs the support of at least seven Liberals to win parliamentary approval for its scheme.


Enterprise is not the enemy

A conservative political advisor looks for a middle ground below

Georges Clemenceau, the French prime minister during World War I, said that war is too serious a matter to entrust to military men. In the same vein, the environment is too important to be left to the Greens. Bob Carr made the point recently that the Greens are not the environmental movement, they are a political party.

Environmental issues are mainstream and not a luxury. They go to the heart of how we sustain our growth and living standards in the face of rising population and resource depletion pressures. Environmental costs are not always incorporated in market prices but there is now ample evidence that market approaches, including appropriate property rights, have an important role to play in conservation regimes. They can reduce pollution at lesser costs than regulatory approaches, as the acid rain cap and trade system showed.

There is no incompatibility between private enterprise or capitalism and the environment. The success of capitalism in raising living standards has been used by some Greens to equate it with environmental degradation. The poor state of the environment in Eastern Europe when the Berlin Wall fell demonstrates that there is no corollary between social and economic systems and the condition of the environment.

The Greens have often used environmental issues to peddle an anti-capitalist and populist agenda, focusing on renewable energy sources as good, soft power while rejecting nuclear energy as hard power that is the dirty product of multinational corporations. These attitudes are not shared by many of those who vote Green.

In the previous federal election Labor made a good fist of owning the environment and climate change. In the public mind concern for the environment has come to be equated with action to address climate change. Kevin Rudd focused on the Coalition's failure to sign the Kyoto treaty as evidence of its lack of credentials on environment and climate. The issue was used to define John Howard as backward-looking and not interested in the future.

So Labor now has equity in the issue. Every day that the Coalition spends discussing, and dividing on, climate change is a day lost to other issues more to the Coalition's advantage. The party should neutralise these issues and move on or risk alienating a whole constituency of voters, not restricted to the young, who genuinely feel strongly about these matters but who do not wish to embrace Stone Age living standards.

So does that mean that climate change sceptics should just shut up? No, because scientific inquiry that improves our knowledge and uncovers errors must be encouraged. Scientists should have the moral courage to change their position as ugly facts slay beautiful theories. But as a layman, how do I know who is right in the climate change debate? Is it the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change or the scientists who claim that the IPCC has been too timid in its projections of global warming? Is it celebrities jumping on the bandwagon or more isolated scientific voices such as that of Ian Plimer?

How is a politician to make a principled decision on such a weighty matter? The French mathematician and religious philosopher of the 17th century, Blaise Pascal, tackled a related issue. He formulated a wager to guide those wrestling with the concept of faith. Because faith was beyond reasoning he proposed that one should weigh the consequences of belief v unbelief. If you believe and hence lead a virtuous life on earth but there is no hereafter, what have you really lost (apart from a good time perhaps)? On the other hand, if you act as if there is no hereafter and God does exist, you have consigned yourself to purgatory and worse. The cost of unbelief is literally infinite compared with the cost of belief in these circumstances.

Applied to climate change, what are the costs of belief v unbelief? If you act and climate change turns out to be the new Y2K, it is true that resources will have been invested in the transition to a less carbon-intensive economy and there is the opportunity cost of locking up our remaining fossil fuel supply. But provided that there is genuine market in emissions trading the carbon price should crash and restore relativities with fossil fuels and other energy sources.

If climate change is genuine, urgent and otherwise irreversible, then early action pays off while late or no action results in mounting economic and social costs. The most rational strategy for a climate sceptic is to short the carbon market and wait for the big crash.

The recent Lowy poll picked up on a slide in the ranking of climate change as an issue of concern to Australians. Securing jobs was the No. 1 issue. This is the real challenge with polls and governing. People want climate change tackled but they want to do it without throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Howard faced up to this dilemma in the 2004 election when he wrestled with what do about old-growth forests in Tasmania. On the eve of the election his advisers were urging him to tuck away a very substantial compensation package to pay for locking up significant forest reserves. The then-Labor leader Mark Latham had highlighted the issue during the year with a high profile visit to Tasmania and the recruitment of Peter Garrett to run in the seat of Kingsford Smith.

For the campaign, Latham put together a big forests package and according to Tim Gartrell, the then ALP national secretary, it polled well. Howard played cat and mouse with Latham during the campaign.

Early on in the campaign in the seat of Richmond on the NSW North Coast, Howard alluded to his dilemma. He was worried about sacrificing the jobs of timber workers in isolated communities with few alternative job prospects. He wanted a fair go for them and the environment. His chance came when Latham finally blinked and went down to Tasmania at the start of the last week of the campaign. The images of him being driven into an underground car park and virtually throwing his plan across the table in a "take it or leave it" attitude said it all.

Howard moved to finalise his policy in consultation with affected communities and in the middle of that week turned up at the Albert Hall in Launceston to announce it. He was rapturously received by the timber workers and their families; he had looked after them and had the courage to meet them and address their concerns. It sent a message to other affected communities on the mainland that Howard was about balancing jobs and conservation.

In a recent welcome development, Bob Brown, the leader of the Greens, and John Gay, the executive chairman of Gunns, have met to discuss the proposed paper mill that has caused no end of controversy in Tasmania. It is good that they are at least talking and perhaps will find a practical outcome to this long-running saga.



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