Monday, March 26, 2012

Reply to a challenge

As a retired social science academic from Australia I am not nearly as grand as a biology professor at Ohio State University but the challenge below is such an easy one that even I can answer it. And social science is surely just as relevant to climate science as is biology!

Steve Rissing below lists a number of recent weather extremes and implies, without proof, that they are unusual. He then goes on to say:

Almost all scientists and related professionals who collect and analyze data about climate change or its effect on biological systems agree that the increased carbon dioxide levels cause much of the climate change and warming. The remaining climate skeptics tend to be policymakers who would rather not make policy.

So how do the hold-out skeptics propose to test their hypothesis that no link exists between carbon-dioxide increases and climate-change effects? Good science demands explanations and hypotheses that can be tested.

An explanation that can’t be tested isn’t an explanation — it’s a dream, a belief, a political position. It might make for good campaign rhetoric, but it makes for poor public planning.

The skeptics demand more science. Bring it on. What’s the red line for their “no effect” hypothesis? What has to happen for them to say: “We were wrong; there is an effect. You better do something about this.”Thomas Kuhn, a philosopher of science, noted in the middle of the last century that the ability and willingness to submit one’s hypothesis to testing and possible rejection formed a core component of effective science. Indeed, without it, one really isn’t practicing science; he or she is practicing advocacy at best, or maybe self-promotion.

The hold-out skeptics say they only want good science when it comes to climate change and planning for it. We all do.

How will we know we’re there? What will it take for them to abandon their “no effect” hypothesis? If they can’t answer that, they’re just adding even more hot air to the atmosphere.


My reply is simple. Both written history and proxy data show that the Medieval and Roman warm periods were at least as warm as today, despite there being nothing like the manmade CO2 emissions of today. Show me where history is wrong and I will concede that manmade CO2 levels could be responsible for the current warmish temperatures and that we are all in dire peril.

And in case the klutz is so ill-inforned as to resort to Mann's "hockeystick", let him read this and this. Warmists really are amusing

Some Australian local governments are denying people planning permission to build near the sea

Because rising se levels might submerge them. Two letters in a newspaper below offer some germane comments. Tim Flannery is an Australian Warmist who is perfectly calm about living by the sea

WHEN Tim Flannery is evicted from his waterfront property, then we should be concerned about sea level rise ("Fighting on the beaches as council orders retreat from climate change threat", 24-25/3).

The NSW government and the Port Macquarie Hastings Council ignore land level rises and falls which make relative sea level a local issue and hence global sea level speculations of the IPCC can not be used. To devalue properties based on half the information is, at best, deceptive.

Professor Ian Plimer, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA

So 80-year-olds are not allowed to renovate their homes because Green councillors decided they are vulnerable to sea level rises. Their houses are 7m above sea level, so if it rises by 3.5mm per year it will take 2000 years to reach them.

If Jesus Christ had been warned that by now the Sea of Galilee would be lapping the front step of his workshop he may have decided he could put that problem on the backburner until a few others were sorted out. The 80-year-olds might have priorities higher than rising seas but Greens don't recognise such realities in their dizzy, postmodern world.

John Dawson, Chelsea, Vic


Aborigines wiped out Australia's large animals

Not as "in tune with nature" as the Greenie romanticizers claim

HUMAN hunters were mainly responsible for wiping out Australia's megafauna, a study has concluded.

The reasons behind the demise of the giant animals that once roamed the continent – such as rhinoceros-sized diprotodons, towering kangaroos, marsupial lions and birds twice the size of emus – have long been hotly debated, with hunting, the human use of fire, and climate change blamed.

Chris Johnson, of the University of Tasmania, said his team had solved the extinction mystery by studying fungi that thrive in the dung of large herbivores.

The team examined two cores of sediment from Lynch's Crater, a swamp in north-east Queensland, dating back 130,000 years.

They counted the spores of these fungi and looked for pollen and charcoal in the sediments as indicators of vegetation change and fire.

Professor Johnson said the research showed megafauna numbers were stable until about 40,000 years ago, despite several periods of drying.

"This rules out climate change as a cause of extinction," he said.

The giant herbivore population crashed soon after humans arrived, with the number of spores in the sediment virtually disappearing. "So it seems that people did it."

The study, published in the journal Science, showed that after the demise of the megafauna, the vegetation changed and fire activity increased, with rainforest species disappearing and grassy eucalypt-dominated forests expanding.

But Judith Field, of the University of NSW, challenged the conclusions of the study. She said it was merely assumption that the ancient spores reflected the abundance of the giant animals.

"The only evidence we have from Queensland for megafauna indicates that they were gone before humans arrived."

There was also little archaeological evidence from any site in Australia to show humans co-existed with megafauna, and none to show they hunted them.

"The results of this paper are interesting. The interpretations drawn from it are unsubstantiated and can be explained by other mechanisms," Dr Field said.

But John Alroy, of Macquarie University, described the data as "superb and decisive".

The debate had dragged on for almost 50 years because people thought it "incredible" that stone-age hunters could have had such a big impact as to wipe out the megafauna.

Gavin Prideaux, of Flinders University, said the study was an important contribution and supported mounting evidence that climate change was not to blame.

"To test the inferences from this paper we might look at similar lake records from other regions of Australia and seek fossil deposits in the north-east that preserve bones of the giant animals themselves," Dr Prideaux said.


More amusing news from Australia

$175k to cheer up Department of Energy and Climate Change staff

Hey, but this is alright when you are spending someone else’s money isn’t it?

Staff at the Australian Department of Climate Change are so depressed, I can’t think why, that the government is spending $175,000 to cheer them up.

Could it be that the poor staff would enjoy their jobs more if they weren’t doing something which was a complete waste of time, and their programs weren’t a vacuous drain? Remember if we all abandon Australia, AND if the IPCC aren’t wildly overestimating the effects of extra CO2, then, and only then, will Australia cool the world by as much as — rounded to the nearest whole number – zero degrees. (Pace Matt Ridley)

Things are so bad, people were ashamed to admit to people that they worked at the Dept of Climate Change. Worse, this study was done back in 2010 – before a round of endless-drought-breaking floods in 2011 and then another round of endless-drought-breaking floods in 2012. This was before the worst of the plummeting Labor polling, before FakeGate… just how low do these people feel now?
THEY are responsible for some of the government’s most important policies – but staff at the Department of Energy and Climate Change are too ashamed to admit where they work.

Staff morale is so low the government has spent almost $175,000 on consultants to lift staff’s flagging spirits.

A negative public image of the department, changing environmental policies and lack of internal support had left them feeling miserable and disengaged, an internal report has found.

The report was conducted by consultants Right Management in July 2010 when the department was under the responsibility of Finance and Deregulation Minister Penny Wong.

The portfolio has since been taken over by Greg Combet.

The report, which also includes a survey of 788 people, found the department to have “low levels” of employee engagement. Staff held a poor view of the department, felt a lack of purpose, were uninformed about changes to policies and procedures, and worried about their future employment.

“Many reported having to think about whether they would tell people where they worked because of the department’s negative image,” the report said.

It’s the politician’s fault for offering waste-of-time-work in the first place. I don’t blame the staff (not so much) but in the end, they are always free to leave. Except of course, they are trapped aren’t they? We know that many of them can’t find better paid work elsewhere, because the gravy train pays well, much better than private industry.

Pouring good money after bad. This is another case study in why Big-Government is a bad thing.

SOURCE (See the original for links)

Bill Gates: ‘Not possible’ to reduce fossil fuel use

Climatewire reports:

… Gates spoke on his aim for a zero-carbon future at The Wall Street Journal’s ECO:nomics Creating Environmental Capital conference, where energy company leaders, entrepreneurs and environmental groups share ideas.

You will never reach absolute zero carbon, Gates said, “but if you want there not to be increased warming every year, you have to get to extremely low numbers.”

Alan Murray, The Wall Street Journal’s deputy managing editor and online executive editor, asked Gates his views on when fossil fuels might fill less than half of the world’s energy needs, compared to the 80 percent they make up today.

In an earlier session at the conference, Daniel Yergin, chairman of IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates, said he thought that point might come by 2050. Vinod Khosla, managing partner at Khosla Ventures, said it could occur within 25 years, although he added, “I’m definitely more optimistic.”

Gates said both those time frames were unrealistic and that it would be longer. Looking just at the electrification sector, Gates said, there is too much carbon-emitting infrastructure that will be around for decades. Power plants built over the next two decades will have a minimum 30-year life span, he said.

“The notion that that sector will be 50 percent non-hydrocarbon in 50 years, it’s not possible,” Gates said…



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1 comment:

slktac said...

Isn't Rissing asking us to prove a null hypothesis? It that not the same thing as saying if one does not find the evidence for Bigfoot compelling, prove he does not exist? There's no proving a null hypothesis........