Wednesday, September 25, 2013
That 95% again
Much-published AP journalist Seth Borenstein knows on which side his bread is buttered. He is a major propagandist for global warming. He must however feel some insecurity about his views as he sometimes replies directly to critics of his articles. Marc Morano is his most persistent critic and that may be why he replies to Morano.
Morano pointed out that the 95% certainty just now claimed for global warming by the IPCC was decided on a show of hands, not by any scientific or mathematical process. And it was Borenstein's uncritical report of the 95% that Morano criticized. And Borenstein replied to that, defending his report by saying that he made some mention of uncertainty.
Morano, however copied in a number of other people to the correspondence concerned, one of whom was Viscount Monckton. Monckton sent the following "reply to the reply" to Borenstein:
Dear Mr. Borenstein, - It would be appropriate to assign a statistical confidence interval as part of a statistical analysis of data, and only then. As you will know, a confidence interval of .95 corresponds to two standard deviations from the mean, and .99 to three standard deviations. However, there was no statistical analysis of the question whether most of the global warming since 1950 was attributable to us: therefore, no statistical confidence interval was appropriate, and the IPCC's attempt to assign a quantified statistical confidence interval to a non-statistical process was inappropriate and, mathematically speaking, contemptible.
As you will also know, the IPCC was rightly criticized for having assigned a 90% confidence interval (not even a standard interval) to its "consensus" proposition in the Fourth Assessment Report. On that occasion, the political representatives of governments took the decision. Many nations wanted to plump for 95%, for purely political reasons (for there was and is no scientific basis for assigning any quantitative value to such a proposition), but China, for purely scientific reasons, wanted no confidence interval at all. In the end, 90% was settled upon as a compromise, and by no more scientific a process than a show of hands. And these people expect to be taken seriously when they demand the shutdown of the West in the name of Saving The Planet.
By the same token, Mr. Severinghaus' assertion of a 99% confidence interval to the proposition that CO2 contributes to the greenhouse effect is meaningless. It is demonstrable by simple experiment that adding CO2 or other greenhouse gases to an atmosphere such as ours will cause a radiative forcing that, ceteris paribus, can be expected to cause some warming.
However, temperature feedbacks, non-radiative transports, temperature homeostasis, and chaos in the climate object are among many complicating factors that make it near-impossible to determine with any reliability - even using probability density functions - how much warming will result from a given quantum of forcing, or when it will result, or how long-acting any temperature feedbacks will be. These and many other uncertainties - including the use of a feedback-amplification function at the heart of the climate-sensitivity equation that manifestly has no physical meaning in the real climate - render it impossible to determine whether most of the warming since 1950 was manmade. Accordingly, the IPCC's pretence that it is 95% confident that most of the warming since 1950 was manmade is transparently rent-seeking guesswork, to which no intelligent journalist should lend the slightest credence.
Frankly, this entire business of the fictitious confidence intervals has become a joke, particularly now that it transpires that just 0.3% of 11,944 papers on global climate change published since 1991 explicitly state support for the IPCC's version of "consensus".
In any event, only a Socialist who placed politics before science would believe or assert for an instant that scientific results are determined or reinforced by any form of mere head-counting among scientists. Aristotle demonstrated that argument by mere head-count was a fallacy 2350 years ago. The sheer dumbness of the IPCC's approach should at least be questioned by journalists, not merely paraded as though it were some sort of Gospel truth. The Holy Books of IPeCaC are no Bible.
There is a huge and fascinating story behind the loutish distortions of scientific, mathematical, physical, and statistical method that have led today's scientifically-illiterate classe politique to place their faith in propositions - such as the "95% confidence" proposition - that are obvious nonsense. Surely it would be better to start asking real questions than merely to parrot uncritically the innumerate absurdities of a politicized clique of profiteers of doom in the scientific establishment. Time to raise your game. This once-fashionable scare is going down and you don't want to be dragged down with it. Global warming is no longer cool. It is no longer a happening thing. Indeed, it is no longer happening. - Monckton of Brenchley
95 per cent of intelligent people know the new IPCC report is utter drivel
By James Delingpole
Experts 95 per cent certain 'humans are responsible for global warming'.
Well, of course they are. If there is one overriding prerequisite of every new IPCC Assessment report, it's to sound even more scary and urgent and certain than its predecessor.
Professor Bob Carter noted this progression in his excellent book Climate: the Counter Consensus:
"First Assessment Report (1990) – "The observed [twentieth century] temperature increase could be largely due…to natural variability."
Second Assessment Report (1996) – "The balance of the evidence suggests a discernible human influence on climate."
Third Assessment Report (2001) – "There is new and stronger evidence that most of the warming observed over the last fifty years is attributable to human activities."
Fourth Assessment Report (2007) – "Most of the observed increase in globally averaged temperature since the mid-twentieth century is very likely [= 90 per cent probable] due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations."
The irony is, of course, that the third, fourth and fifth assessment reports were all produced in a period of rising CO2 levels in which there has been no "global warming" whatsoever. You'd imagine that, had the scientific method been more highly valued by the IPCC, this rather glaring flaw in AGW theory might have been afforded more prominence. But this is not the IPCC Assessment Reports' job.
As Christopher Booker and others have often noted, the IPCC's reports are essentially political artefacts rather than scientific ones. This is why some governments – including Germany's and Belgium's – have been manoeuvring behind the scenes to have the new IPCC report "sexed up". The scientific reality – that global warming has paused for 15 years; that climate sensitivity appears to be far smaller than the scaremongering computer models predicted – cannot be allowed to derail all the expensive and intrusive programmes (from wind farms to green investment banks to hideous, flickery, dull low energy light bulbs) which have been introduced in order to "combat climate change."
I don't think many of my colleagues in the Fourth Estate have exactly covered themselves in glory in exposing what looks, increasingly, like the biggest pseudo-scientific scam in history. (Lysenkoism, for all its faults, at least confined itself to the Communist bloc. This one has affected the whole world). On the contrary, they have acted as its cheerleaders, reporting each new report as uncritically as Pravda journalists diligently covering the dazzling brilliance, humanity and insight of Comrade Stalin's latest five hour speech on improved wheat yields and tractor production.
Andrew Bolt has been facing similar problems in Australia, especially with the irredeemably left-wing state broadcaster ABC.
"For years, most in the mainstream media didn't just refuse to question the great global warming scare, but howled down the few who dared to.
Journalists became propagandists, even witch-hunters. And the biggest cabal of them gathered in the ABC.
Four years ago,for instance, I was a panellist on the ABC's Insiders program and mentioned the warming pause.
Fellow panellist David Marr asked me not to refer to it again and then ostentatiously buried his head in a newspaper. La la la la, not listening.
Marr, of course, was a former host of the ABC's Media Watch, which for years, under various hosts, hounded warming sceptics and gave the Flannerys a free pass.
The other panellist was Annabel Crabb, now an ABC host. She, too, demanded we talk about something else, and on another Insiders show, mocked my quoting of scores of studies which showed the warming theory wasn't working out as the likes of Flannery claimed.
"You put a million posts on your blog about some new study from the University of East Bumcrack," she scoffed."
Then, of course, there is the Guardian/Observer, whose relentlessly hysterical, unfailingly uncritical coverage of the global warming scare is sharply analysed here by Ben Pile. Here's how it begins:
"In today’s Observer, Robin McKie channels scientists…
Climate change: IPCC issues stark warning over global warming
Call to ‘stop dithering about fossil fuel cuts’ as expert panel warns entire globe is affected
This is now part of the ritual established by the Guardian whenever the routine, scheduled, planned, expected, and timetabled publishing of IPCC assessment reports or UNFCCC COP meetings occur. These events are in every case presented as always new, more comprehensive, deeper, and more ‘stark’ than previous pronouncements on climate change, even when the reports say very little or nothing at all that is new, and even suggest that things aren’t as bad ‘as previously thought’."
Dialing Back the Alarm on Climate Change
This was written a few days ago
Later this month, a long-awaited event that last happened in 2007 will recur. Like a returning comet, it will be taken to portend ominous happenings. I refer to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) "fifth assessment report," part of which will be published on Sept. 27.
There have already been leaks from this 31-page document, which summarizes 1,914 pages of scientific discussion, but thanks to a senior climate scientist, I have had a glimpse of the key prediction at the heart of the document. The big news is that, for the first time since these reports started coming out in 1990, the new one dials back the alarm. It states that the temperature rise we can expect as a result of man-made emissions of carbon dioxide is lower than the IPCC thought in 2007.
Admittedly, the change is small, and because of changing definitions, it is not easy to compare the two reports, but retreat it is. It is significant because it points to the very real possibility that, over the next several generations, the overall effect of climate change will be positive for humankind and the planet.
Specifically, the draft report says that "equilibrium climate sensitivity" (ECS)—eventual warming induced by a doubling of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which takes hundreds of years to occur—is "extremely likely" to be above 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit), "likely" to be above 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.4 degrees Fahrenheit) and "very likely" to be below 6 degrees Celsius (10.8 Fahrenheit). In 2007, the IPPC said it was "likely" to be above 2 degrees Celsius and "very likely" to be above 1.5 degrees, with no upper limit. Since "extremely" and "very" have specific and different statistical meanings here, comparison is difficult.
Still, the downward movement since 2007 is clear, especially at the bottom of the "likely" range. The most probable value (3 degrees Celsius last time) is for some reason not stated this time.
A more immediately relevant measure of likely warming has also come down: "transient climate response" (TCR)—the actual temperature change expected from a doubling of carbon dioxide about 70 years from now, without the delayed effects that come in the next century. The new report will say that this change is "likely" to be 1 to 2.5 degrees Celsius and "extremely unlikely" to be greater than 3 degrees. This again is lower than when last estimated in 2007 ("very likely" warming of 1 to 3 degrees Celsius, based on models, or 1 to 3.5 degrees, based on observational studies).
Most experts believe that warming of less than 2 degrees Celsius from preindustrial levels will result in no net economic and ecological damage. Therefore, the new report is effectively saying (based on the middle of the range of the IPCC's emissions scenarios) that there is a better than 50-50 chance that by 2083, the benefits of climate change will still outweigh the harm.
Warming of up to 1.2 degrees Celsius over the next 70 years (0.8 degrees have already occurred), most of which is predicted to happen in cold areas in winter and at night, would extend the range of farming further north, improve crop yields, slightly increase rainfall (especially in arid areas), enhance forest growth and cut winter deaths (which far exceed summer deaths in most places). Increased carbon dioxide levels also have caused and will continue to cause an increase in the growth rates of crops and the greening of the Earth—because plants grow faster and need less water when carbon dioxide concentrations are higher.
Up to two degrees of warming, these benefits will generally outweigh the harmful effects, such as more extreme weather or rising sea levels, which even the IPCC concedes will be only about 1 to 3 feet during this period.
Yet these latest IPCC estimates of climate sensitivity may still be too high. They don't adequately reflect the latest rash of published papers estimating "equilibrium climate sensitivity" and "transient climate response" on the basis of observations, most of which are pointing to an even milder warming. This was already apparent last year with two papers—by scientists at the University of Illinois and Oslo University in Norway—finding a lower ECS than assumed by the models. Since then, three new papers conclude that ECS is well below the range assumed in the models. The most significant of these, published in Nature Geoscience by a team including 14 lead authors of the forthcoming IPCC scientific report, concluded that "the most likely value of equilibrium climate sensitivity based on the energy budget of the most recent decade is 2.0 degrees Celsius."
Two recent papers (one in the Journal of the American Meteorological Society, the other in the journal Earth System Dynamics) estimate that TCR is probably around 1.65 degrees Celsius. That's uncannily close to the estimate of 1.67 degrees reached in 1938 by Guy Callendar, a British engineer and pioneer student of the greenhouse effect. A Canadian mathematician and blogger named Steve McIntyre has pointed out that Callendar's model does a better job of forecasting the temperature of the world between 1938 and now than do modern models that "hindcast" the same data.
The significance of this is that Callendar assumed that carbon dioxide acts alone, whereas the modern models all assume that its effect is amplified by water vapor. There is not much doubt about the amount of warming that carbon dioxide can cause. There is much more doubt about whether net amplification by water vapor happens in practice or is offset by precipitation and a cooling effect of clouds.
Since the last IPCC report in 2007, much has changed. It is now more than 15 years since global average temperature rose significantly. Indeed, the IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri has conceded that the "pause" already may have lasted for 17 years, depending on which data set you look at. A recent study in Nature Climate Change by Francis Zwiers and colleagues of the University of Victoria, British Columbia, found that models have overestimated warming by 100% over the past 20 years.
Explaining this failure is now a cottage industry in climate science. At first, it was hoped that an underestimate of sulfate pollution from industry (which can cool the air by reflecting heat back into space) might explain the pause, but the science has gone the other way—reducing its estimate of sulfate cooling. Now a favorite explanation is that the heat is hiding in the deep ocean. Yet the data to support this thesis come from ocean buoys and deal in hundredths of a degree of temperature change, with a measurement error far larger than that. Moreover, ocean heat uptake has been slowing over the past eight years.
The most plausible explanation of the pause is simply that climate sensitivity was overestimated in the models because of faulty assumptions about net amplification through water-vapor feedback. This will be a topic of heated debate at the political session to rewrite the report in Stockholm, starting on Sept. 23, at which issues other than the actual science of climate change will be at stake.
The Political Science Of The IPCC
In this thing called Science, just as in other human affairs, one can act in good or bad taste. You wouldn’t go to a fancy dinner party, a political fund raiser with The One for instance, and eat your salad with a soup spoon. People would titter and think you a rube. (They would still cash your check.)
Likewise, in Science, if one proposes a theory and makes predictions with it, and those predictions turn out to be a bust, you should not continue touting the theory. Do so and as you walk down the hall your colleagues would whisper “Graduate student” and giggle like cheerleaders as you pass by.
You’d only be compound the error and make a spectacle of yourself if you went on the lecture circuit (trips funded by Government) and said things like, “Other people beside me believe in my theory!” People would think you thought mere agreement trumped observation! Nothing more anti-science than that. You’d have to go into hiding.
Matters are different in Politics. Whatever you say is not expected to accord with reality, but with desire. A politician must say what he guesses his audience wishes to hear and not what he himself believes to be true. Thus a man will not write a solicitation to Leviathan admitting he has doubts about the theory because Leviathan says it will only reward those who profess ardent agreement. So the scientist writes the grant saying he believes, figuring that if he gets the money he can do good things with it. The scientist becomes the politician: his words accord with desire and not reality.
Leviathan doesn’t particularly care if the theory is true but it knows that claiming it is allows Leviathan to do the only thing it has ever wanted to do: which is grow. Thus it will wag its thick finger at the populace and say the theory implies a “significant health threat”, even though the health of the populace has been improving. Point this out and Leviathan replies, “I didn’t say now. I meant health will deteriorate in the future. Unless I may grow.”
Few question how feeding the beast will kill the theory. It doesn’t matter, because many clever people see the opportunity for what it is and seek to join forces with the beast. They figure that once they gain the money and power which this alliance entails they will do real science with it. These folks underestimate the rapacity, the unlimited appetite of Leviathan.
They also don’t recognize what this compromise does to their souls. Whereas before they would have roundly and rightly and scientifically denounced the theory—and not the man holding it—as being false because it does not accord with observations, they now seek for any scrap of evidence no matter how thin or meager which implies the theory might be true. Alternate evidence which casts grave doubts on, or even damns, the theory is ignored. These politicians with scientific credentials will say, “It is not that the theory might be false, but that it might be true which is important,” a statement nearly empty of content.
This isn’t devious behavior; indeed, it comes from kindness. It is the natural result of one friend helping another. These supporters are friends with Leviathan, which has clothed and fed him and flown them to exotic locations to speak in front of flattering crowds who write down their words. Saying that the theory which Leviathan loves might be true is the least they can do. Besides, they reason, good science is still being done. No harm has been done.
But these folks have forgotten the True Believers, the ones who are so convinced in the truth and beauty of the theory that no amount of evidence will ever convince them to abandon it. The True Believers take the lukewarm statements of the politician-scientists as wholehearted support. There are never many True Believers, but their ardency, encouraged by lack of criticism, makes up for their lack of numbers.
They go after dissent and punish it. Take the typical case of Chris de Freitas who “dared to publish a peer-reviewed article” which suggested the theory might not be true. True Believers “mounted a determined campaign to have Dr. de Freitas…fired from his university position.”
In no possible way or interpretation is this the behavior of scientists acting for truth. It is pure politics. This tells us the only possible way to kill a false theory is to wound or distract Leviathan, the beast which feeds belief. Only nobody knows how to do this.
Global Warming and the Credentialist Fallacy
Here's one of the great stories of the past 25 years, entirely ignored by the dying legacy media: the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)-the bureaucratic authority that gave us global warming-is taking it all back. The new IPCC report concedes that its former prognostications were incorrect. Not only were their statistical models wrong, but IPCC scientists now "accept their forecast computers may have exaggerated the effect of increased carbon emissions on world temperatures-and not taken enough notice of natural variability."
Six years ago, Al "Internet" Gore-who has made millions on global warming hysteria-said the North Pole could be "ice-free by 2013." Well, it's 2013... and the Arctic has grown by 60 percent. That's more than half the size of Europe.
This is what happens when you let nefarious political bodies-replete with special-interest lobbyists, "former" communists, and kleptocratic power-hungry globalists-dominate the scientific method. Oxford climate scientist Myles Allen-a member of the IPCC panel himself-predicts this latest IPCC assessment will be the last of its kind because "the idea of producing a document of near-biblical infallibility is a misrepresentation of how science works." Which is, more or less, what the "global warming deniers" have been saying for more than a decade.
None of this is to say climate change is not happening. It is to say, however, that if climate change is in fact happening, it may be due to heretofore unmeasured-and, in retrospect, somewhat obvious-"natural variables," such as the behavior of the Sun. Nevertheless, President Obama is gearing up for a push of his anti-CO2 climate change agenda, this time by unconstitutionally using the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to bureaucratically enforce, through fiat regulation, what his administration cannot get passed democratically through Congress. And remember, this is the same EPA that spawned the outbreak of the once nearly-eradicated malaria by arbitrarily banning the insecticide DDT (to the silence of environmentalists, humanitarians, and journalists the world over).
This phenomenon-the trillions wasted by the IPCC; the millions dead because of the EPA-is the result of what can only be called "the credentialist fallacy." The credentialist fallacy is a dogmatic interpretation of reality, one where greater importance is placed on an authority's credentials than on its merits.
The credentialist fallacy is why we have "doctor worship" in this country; this sick psychological parlour game where patients acquiescence all personal autonomy to a guy in a white coat. He knows more about our anatomy than we do, and we know this, and he knows that we know this, and so he crudely plays god. Never mind that preventable medical malpractice kills between 210,000 and 400,000 Americans annually. That's a World War II's worth of fatalities every year. Still, the more arrogant and unprofessional the doctor, the more glory bestowed by the culture-as evident in those vapid TV shows.
Anywhere you look, the disastrous consequences of the credentialist fallacy are plain to see. Just last week, the Federal Reserve-comprised of the "smartest" economists in the world-announced a continuation of their historically unprecedented monetary policies. Any rational spectator could tell you that these policies have destroyed the value of the U.S. dollar and have led to the ruination of our currency. "But why," we ask, "would such credentialed economists and bankers come to such a wrong conclusion?"
The answer lies not in an authority's intelligence, but in the merit of their methodology. The statisticians and analyticists at the Fed are brilliant, let there be no doubt. But they are methodologically incorrect to equate economics with statistics, to put monetary economics on par with a hard science. Economics is not a hard science, for there are too many unknowns-"natural variables"-in human behavior. As such, economics is the study of human action; being far closer to anthropology than mathematics. The field of economics-like the fields of law, medicine, politics, and higher education-is poisoned by the contemporary societal valuation of credentials over merit.
It is true that a man or woman's credentials grants them the right to be heard on the topic of their expertise. An ignoramus has no business arguing the periodic table with a chemist. The problem, though, is we've seem to become a nation of highly-credentialized ignoramuses with advanced degrees. Whereas we used to champion polymaths and Renaissance types, we now espouse the inane creed of hyper-specialization. This invariably leads to a collective failure of individual deductive logic. Observational reason, the ability to assess what does and does not possess merit, is castigated as being a "know-it-all."
The truth is just the opposite. It is those who rest on their laurels-who take up false security in their credentials-that unjustifiably claim total omniscience. With the new global warming report, this has led to one of the great ironies in modern scientific history: the supposed "champions of science," due to their awe of the IPCC's credentials, were used as tools in a cynical game of global power-politics, whereas the so-called "science deniers," due to their preference for merit, were the only ones actually upholding the scientific method all the while.
More evidence that Greenies have ready access to rivers of cash
The axed Climate Commission is to be relaunched with private funds in a bid to keep information about global warming prominent in the public arena, former head Tim Flannery said.
The decision to create the Australian Climate Council, as the group will be known, was spurred by "a groundswell of support" from across the country, Dr Flannery said.
"We've developed a real reputation for independence and authority in this area, and we just want to continue with that job," he said, before a formal launch planned for Tuesday in Sydney.
"We haven't seen any plans from the government to provide an alternative" to the commission, he said.
The Abbott government made closing the Climate Commission one of its first acts last week. The Coalition also plans to repeal other climate change policies of the Rudd and Gillard governments, such as the carbon price, the Climate Change Authority and the $10 billion Clean Energy Finance Corporation.
The Coalition instead plans a $2.55 billion Direct Action scheme to pay polluters to cut greenhouse gases to meet the bipartisan goal of reducing emissions by at least 5 per cent on 2000 levels by 2020.
Most, if not all, of the six commissioners, will sign up as directors of the new council, with climate scientist Will Steffen and ex-BP head for Australia Gerry Hueston among them. "We'll all be working pro bono at least initially," Dr Flannery said.
The commission's budget was about $5.4 million over four years, a figure that will be considerably smaller in the private revamp, he said. "We've already had some people step up and we've got every chance that this will work," Dr Flannery said, declining to say how much had been raised and from whom ahead of the launch of a drive for donations.
Among those supporting the reboot was retired admiral Chris Barrie. "Frankly, I think the work they have done is fantastic," he said.
"The commission's work was invaluable in taking very complex information and presenting it in ways easily digestible by the community."
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