Friday, February 06, 2015

IPCC Climate Science As A Gestalt Theory Problem

by Dr Tim Ball, Climatologist

The proverb that “they can’t see the forest for the trees” means, they are so consumed with detail, they don’t understand the larger situation. This is true of society in general and climatology in particular. gestalt One book that at least addresses part of the problem as it relates to climate, is Essex and McKitrick’s Taken By Storm, in the chapter titled, “Climate Theory Versus Models and Metaphors”.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has exacerbated, amplified and exploited the problem because they are about politics, not science.

Shortly after appointment to Chair of the newly formed Assiniboine River Management Advisory Board (ARMAB), I called a meeting at the Fort Garry Hotel in Winnipeg. I invited people from Federal, Provincial and Municipal governments involved with as many aspects of the river basin as possible. It was amazing, in a Province of 1.2 million people, how few knew or communicated with each other. I knew communication between different levels of governments is bad, but was shocked to find, it was as bad within the same level of government. Worse, many didn’t know their part in affecting the interaction between the natural dynamics of the river basin and human activities.

People introduced themselves and explained why they were present. Some didn’t know. The Department of Highways representative said his department had nothing to do with water. I asked him if he knew that, a) they built and maintained drainage ditches on each side of a road, b) that some ditches are larger in flow capacity than many rivers and streams in the basin and, c) a majority cut across the natural drainage slope of the region? Of course, none knew the climate history of the basin. Some knew I had done climate studies, but nobody had ever consulted me or looked at the material.

Over my career I’ve given evidence at trials, advised lawyers in court cases, served on dozens of commissions of inquiry and participated in numerous government and private studies on a variety of issues related to climate, water resources, and environmental issues. Almost without exception the conclusions were,

 *  Data was inadequate to reach meaningful conclusions,

 *  Most people were only minimally doing their job and few knew the context of their work,

 *  Every rule was being bent, broken or ignored, which speaks to the paradox that rules are made to make things work, but when a group says they are going to work to rule, it means they are going to stop it working.

 *  Previous recommendations for change were ignored. On my first commission looking at conflict over a lake, I discovered recommendations of three previous commissions were never enacted. There was also a letter sent to Ottawa in the 1880s by an engineer in the region, identifying the problems and offering solutions. I also knew that fur trader and explorer Alexander Mackenzie had commented on the problems 200 years earlier. All were ignored.

 *  Usually, responses were so slow that if they came at all, a new pattern had emerged that was aggravated by the actions. The history of the Assiniboine drainage basin was a pattern of reactions driven by the wet and dry cycle of the Prairies. With wet cycles demands for drainage forced some reaction. By the time it started, a dry cycle drove demands for retention and storage.

It appears life is, as Shakespeare’s play title says, “a comedy of errors”. However, every once in a while, it randomly becomes a tragedy of errors.

Gestalt Theory

Gestalt theory says that the sum of the parts is greater than the whole. It is part oflearning theory.

Gestalt theory applies to all aspects of human learning, although it applies most directly to perception and problem-solving.

According to Gestalt experts, the principles to apply are as follows.

1. The learner should be encouraged to discover the underlying nature of a topic or problem (i.e., the relationship among the elements).

2. Gaps, incongruities, or disturbances are an important stimulus for learning

3. Instruction should be based upon the laws of organization: proximity, closure, similarity and simplicity.

It has application to climatology, and today’s analysis and understanding of the world and how it works. Chances of success are, at best, seriously hampered by the problem of specialization. Accurate identification and integration of each specialized piece, is essential to understanding. Specialization guarantees you will not see the forest for the trees. Different languages, definition of terms and perspectives exacerbate this problem. The introductory course in any subject at any university, is where the separation begins. These usually leave fundamental differences and divisions unexplained, yet, they seriously affect and limit understanding.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) fails for many reasons, but, not least, is the problem of specialization. In fact, they have a much larger problem because there are crossovers and similarities within the specializations that are markedly different between the sciences. This is demonstrated in their Working Group I (WGI) The Physical Science Basis Report and those in Social Science Reports of Working Groups II and II. Then, they run into serious problems when they tried to integrate political and economic models. Integrating them with economic and social scenarios of WG II and III and calling them projections, supposedly masked failures of the scientific predictions of WGI. This goes a long way to explaining why a few people with a political objective were able to create the unrepresentative, unreal, Summary for Policymakers (SPM).

The IPCC created an intellectual and philosophical Tower of Babel that has only temporarily served the political objective. It limited the possibility that anyone would put two and two together and realize their answer was five. Like another famous tower, it is leaning and ready to fall.

Specializations In Climate

An important question from a Gestalt perspective is, how many specializations are represented? I used the diagram as a prompt, while explaining to a lawyer the difference between climate science and climatology. The former, are individual specialists who happen to study climate. The latter, must integrate every part. The problem and challenge is underscored by the need to create integrative or interdisciplinary studies for real world problems.

As a climatologist, trying to put all the pieces in the puzzle, I have always known it was necessary to consult with specialists. For example, when using statistics, I relied on Alex Basilevsky, whose biography lists climate studies. He was especially interested in Markov probabilities. This failure to consult specialists was identified by the Wegman Report as a serious failure of the paleeoclimate group associated with the “hockey stick” fiasco. In a devastating finding they wrote:

"It is important to note the isolation of the paleoclimate community; even though they rely heavily on statistical methods they do not seem to be interacting with the statistical community. Additionally, we judge that the sharing of research materials, data and results was haphazardly and grudgingly done. In this case we judge that there was too much reliance on peer review, which was not necessarily independent. Moreover, the work has been sufficiently politicized that this community can hardly reassess their public positions without losing credibility.

The challenge, when dealing with specialists, is to know enough to ask the right questions and understand the answers. This worked well in many cases, but often created more problems, because I received different answers from people in the same specialization".

The last sentence by Wegman seems to imply that they didn’t consult because they knew their work would not withstand scrutiny. That proved to be the case, when Steve McIntyre and Ross McKitirck looked at what was going on. However, there is another issue of differences between specialists. Consider the following communications between two, well-informed global warming skeptics. Willliam Kininmonth, former head of Australia’s National Climate Centre at the Bureau of Meteorology and author of, “Climate Change, A Natural Hazard” wrote:

"I have difficulty in understanding the reluctance of some to embrace modern radiation transfer theory. The first validations were made in the 1940s and 1950s with aircraft and balloon borne instruments measuring radiation fluxes at various altitudes through the atmosphere. Then there were instruments released from rockets taking measurements as they descended through the atmosphere. As computing power developed the algorithms for evaluation became more complex. As instrumentation developed the fine structure of wavebands were better measured. My point is that radiation transfer theory is not a theory that was formulated 60-80 years ago and has not changed. It has evolved to incorporate more complexities as computing capability and instrument observing precision have improved. It will continue to improve but the fundamental theoretical base and broad conclusions remain valid."

The reply by Arthur Rorsch, whose views are well detailed in an article titled“Pseudoscientific elements in climate change research,” replied

"The origin of the reluctance is this. The laws have been deduced for radiation processes with a blackbody covered cavity. I think my colleague Ponec sent you already his short treatise on it with the interesting comment that there has been developed other views on the application of the laws in Nature which seem not to be noticed by the atmospheric sciences."

Another part of the discourse cited above is in reference to the latest publication by Ferenc Miskolczi. As one skeptic wrote,

"We still have a long way to go in understanding the world and its climate.  Miskolczi is analysing a different set of data, a different approach to atmospheric science, not that of a meteorologist."

My experience is that you get different responses, depending on whom you ask and how they apply the physics. For example, engineers usually have a different understanding than others. They claim it is because their physics has to work. To be trite, it is a variation on the joke that an optimist says the glass is half full, the pessimist that it is half empty, and the engineer that it is badly designed.

This appears to speak directly to my point about the Gestalt Theory as it applies to climate research.

So the questions remain. Which physicist is correct? Why do they disagree? Why does the climate sensitivity number keep decreasing? Is it because the science isn’t settled, or that they all look at pieces of the climate puzzle differently?

Gestalt applies, if for no other reason than, the sum of the climate parts are greater than the whole and the IPCC keeps digging. A good example of the Gestalt problem is, that the UK Court ruling on Al Gore’s movie insisted the government provide handbooks for teachers to use before showing it in the classroom. The Department of Education had to produce different handbooks for the science, social science and civics teachers.

Understanding weather and climate is a major example of the difficulties identified in the Gestalt Theory. The problem will continue as long as the IPCC exists, because it was designed to look at individual trees while ignoring the natural forest, and then only a man-planted forest.


Memo Reveals Bogus EPA Climate Strategy

PMA memo released as part of an ongoing Freedom of Information Act request examining the Environmental Protection Agency’s rule-making has revealed the EPA using misleading claims to stoke fears of global warming. Big surprise, huh?

The March 2009 memo shows the EPA feared it was losing citizen support for its climate efforts because opinion polls consistently showed the public ranked fighting global warming very low on its list of priorities. According to polls, the public felt harms from global warming were exaggerated and had little bearing on people’s lives.

In response, the memo describes the EPA’s decision shift the debate from concerns about melting ice caps and declining caribou and polar bear populations, to promoting the idea global warming poses a direct threat to public health, especially children’s health, and air and water quality.

“Most American’s will never see a polar ice cap, nor will ever have a chance to see a polar bear in its natural habitat. Therefor it is easy to detach from the seriousness of the issue. Unfortunately, climate change in the abstract is an increasingly – and consistently – unpersuasive argument to make. However, if we shift from making this issue about polar caps and about our neighbor with respiratory illness we can potentially bring this issue home to many Americans.”

The problem for the EPA is, there has been no serious research linking global warming or greenhouse gas emissions to human health problems, or air or water pollution.

According to the memo an additional step the EPA took was to raise concerns about climate change among minority groups and women, using headline catching “hooks,” concerning social justice and children’s health.

The memo details ways to create a positive association in the public’s mind between concerns about the safety of the water they drink and the air they breathe, and the need to act on global warming. Per the memo, “We must begin to create a causal link between the worries of Americans and the proactive mission we’re pushing.”

Attorney and Competitive Enterprise Institute Senior Fellow, Chris Horner obtained the memo through a FOIA request. Concerning what he uncovered, Horner said, “This memo shows EPA’s recognition that the global warming case is “consistently — an unpersuasive argument to make”, and thus required a facelift, from a pro-scarcity movement of wealthy white elites to a racial and “social justice” issue.”

“This memo candidly affirms EPA’s conscious approach of yelling “clean air” and “children” at every turn in the push for an agenda that not long ago was about the end of the world in a climatic calamity, openly and rightly confident in getting a media assist,” said Horner.

John Dale Dunn, a physician and lawyer who has written on government and scientific corruption for more than 25 years saw problems recognized the shift in the EPA’s climate focus in 2009. Dunn stated, “The Children/baby risks panic strategy fit the EPA goals, according to secret strategy documents, when the cute Coca Cola polar bear cubs and mothers imagery failed to motivate public outrage.”

“The internal documents obtained under FOIA revealed the EPA and enviros were looking for a hook and decided the hook they were looking for was the health of children,” continued Dunn, “Why not? Nothing better to get politicians moving than marching and chanting women in matching t-shirts on a tear, worried about and advocating for their babies.”


Sen. Inhofe Uses Heartland Poster to Debunk Climate Alarmism

On Wednesday January 21, in his first speech on the floor of the senate as the Chairman of the Senate’s Environment & Public Works Committee, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) used a poster supplied by The Heartland Institute to drive home the point that the theory of man-made climate change is highly contested.

The poster, which you can see and download here, identifies 58 climate experts who “don’t believe global warming is a crisis.” Among those listed are Dr. Richard Lindzen, Dr. Tim Ball, and Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison Schmitt – all of whom reject the UN IPCC’s conclusions regarding the human impact on our climate.

Inhofe used his time on the floor to poke holes in the arguments of climate alarmists in the Senate, who still believe that “97-98 percent of scientists agree” about the causes of global warming. “It just isn’t true,” Inhofe said.

He uses the poster to illustrate the large amount of dissenting opinion in the face of the generally held “consensus” on man-made climate change. Sen. Inhofe reassures us that there are going to be hearings in the future on the subject and “we’ll be there to be the truth-squad.”


"Intergenerational Equity" Cuts Both Ways, Folks

Should governments act now to prevent the possibility of dangerous human-caused climate change, even if the chances for future harm are exceedingly small? Those who say yes often base their answer on the idea of intergenerational equity: Present generations should not impose harms on future generations who will play no role in and have no control over the factors causing the harm.

Governments have taken this argument seriously, enacting expensive subsidies for renewable energy sources and restrictions on technologies and fossil fuel production. Those policies are aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions – which, according to anthropogenic global warming theory, are responsible for harmful climate change.

But it’s important to note actions taken today have consequences not only for the future, but also for today. Public policies that hurt present generations also will result in profound negative consequences for future generations, as a recent report by the Global Warming Policy Foundation makes clear.

Biofuel mandates, for instance, were intended to replace carbon-intensive fossil fuels for transportation with carbon-neutral fuels. It turns out biofuels are not carbon-neutral. Moreover, the mandates have resulted in a deadly transformation of food to fuel, causing higher food prices and shortages and leaving the already malnourished and hungry even hungrier. Wild lands have been plowed under and forests cleared away to create space for crops to be grown for fuel, destroying wildlife habitat. In some regions, government’s push for biofuels has forced native peoples off their traditional homelands.

Government subsidies to, and mandates requiring the use of, inefficient, expensive renewable energy have resulted in higher energy prices and government deficits. In the process, developed countries have left developing nations in energy poverty by restricting loans for energy development to renewable energy development only. Renewable energy sources have left a massive footprint on Earth, transforming millions of acres into industrial wind and solar farms and killing millions of birds, bats, and other wildlife annually.

The push for energy-efficient lighting has resulted in traffic accidents and deaths because new energy-efficient lights don’t generate enough heat to keep from icing over during freezing temperatures, obscuring the signal lights. Compact fluorescent lamps, which are replacing incandescent light bulbs as a result of federal regulations, contain toxins – primarily mercury – that get released into the atmosphere when they break in garbage bins and landfills.

These and other human and environmental harms caused by climate change policies should be given more weight when making the intergenerational justice argument. Harms caused today, and people left in poverty now as a result, leave future generations with fewer options, less wealth, and less able to adapt to future climate change.


Obama ad Nauseum

By Alan Caruba

I made a promise to myself that I would not write about President Obama’s State of the Union speech because that would require me to watch him deliver it. Like many others I can barely watch him under any circumstance because, to my mind, that means having to watch a psychopathic liar. The problem with that is that he is the President for two more years.

And then I read an article on, “Republicans outfox Democrats on climate votes” subtitled “The GOP accepts the notion of climate change, but not in the way the Democrats wanted them to.”

In a rational world, politicians voting on whether the climate changes or not is an absurdity. Of course the climate changes. It always has and always will. But when Democrats use the term “climate change” they really mean “global warming.” And global warming has been the greatest hoax of the modern era, getting its start in the late 1980s and becoming a huge academic industry generated by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Global warming put billions in the pockets of “scientists”, universities, and any think tank that would lie about it, telling the nation and the world that carbon dioxide, a gas that is barely 0.04% of the Earth’s atmosphere was warming it when, in fact, the Earth stopped warming some 19 years ago at the same time the Sun entered a natural cycle of lower solar radiation.

Few of these “scientists” bothered to tell the public that, without carbon dioxide, we and all other life on Earth would die as it is critical to the growth of all vegetation. The fact that the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has actually been increasing at the same time the Earth has been cooling is proof enough that all the warming claims were and are pure hogwash.

It turns out that all the computer models that they and others have generated to predict a catastrophic global warming have been wrong, wrong, and wrong.

Obama didn’t have a word to say about al Qaeda and the other Islamic fascists eager to destroy modernity and drag the world back to the Dark Age, but he did lie about 2014 as “the planet’s warmest year on record.”

That lie was initially put out by NASA and National Oceanic and the Atmospheric Administration, (NOAA) two government agencies that shortly thereafter admitted that they might be wrong, seeing that their assertion of the 0.02 degree Celsius increase wasn’t even outside their own margin of error. They could have taken a look at their own satellite data and saved themselves from looking like idiots.

Obama said, “I’ve heard some folks try to dodge the evidence by saying they’re not scientists; that we don’t have enough information to act. Well, I’m not a scientist, either. But you know what—I know a lot of really good scientists at NASA and NOAA, and at our major universities. The best scientists in the world are all tell us that our activities are changing the climate, and if we do not act forcefully, we’ll continue to see rising oceans, long, hotter heat waves, dangerous droughts and floods, and massive disruptions that can trigger great migration, conflict, and hunger around the globe.”

This is lying on a galactic scale. The United States doesn’t need to do a single thing to reduce “greenhouse gas emissions”, nor should it bother to do so. Obama’s claims of catastrophic change bears no relationship to the fact that in recent years the planet has had a record low in the numbers of tornadoes and hurricanes, and a record gain in Arctic and Antarctic ice. There has been no change of any significance in the sea levels. Those who study such things note that “Until about 7,000 years ago the rate of rise was about 100 mm/decade. Since then rate of rise has averaged 10 mm/decade.” That’s “mm” as in millimeters.

In late December, the world’s second largest reinsurer, Swiss Re, reported on the losses from natural events in 2014 and, despite predictions that climate change would cause more frequent natural catastrophes due to man-made worsening of the climate, it saw “markedly less damage claims than in previous years” and far less loss of lives.” In terms of the dollars it cost the insurance industry, Swiss Re estimated that costs insurers covered were USD $113 billion in 2014, down from USD $135 billion in 2013. Losses were down 24% from 2013.
That, of course, doesn’t matter to Obama. It should, however, matter to the rest of us because the Environmental Protection Agency has been using those computer models and abjectly phony “science” to wage Obama’s war on the nation’s providers of the energy on which we all depend. From coal-fired plants to drilling for oil and natural gas, anything that might provide energy is under attack by the EPA.

As Katie Tubb, a research assistant for the Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation, responded to Obama’s claim saying that “The EPA’s proposed regulations would have almost zero impact on global temperatures, but will certainly impact Americans now and for future generations.”

So, when you read about a bunch of U.S. Senators, only one of whom, Oklahoma’s Sen. James Inhofe (R) has a grasp of the real science, spent time voting back and forth over amendments and their language regarding the climate, you were in fact really reading about the debate leading up to the passage of the bill that would remove Obama’s authority to prevent the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Between a President who lies about global warming and climate change, and a Congress composed mostly of lawyers who are clueless about the actual science, the best we can hope for is a Republican Party determined to rein in the EPA and other government agencies; the reason they were voted into office.


Cape Wind is dead

In the end it was about money and politics, as are so many things in Massachusetts. But it was not Koch cash or Kennedy pique that may have killed a commercial offshore wind plant in Nantucket Sound. It was the hubris of Cape Wind’s developers themselves.

Almost 14 years after Cape Wind Associates unveiled plans to erect 130 wind turbines across 24 square miles of pristine Horseshoe Shoal, Jim Gordon and his investors seem to have run out of time, money, and political capital. The decision by NStar and National Grid to walk away after Cape Wind missed a December 31 contract deadline appears to leave Cape Wind “dead in the water,” as Gordon’s nemesis, Audra Parker of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, so poetically put it.

Gordon blamed the collapse of what would have been the first offshore wind facility in the United States on litigious obstructionists financed by Bill Koch, the conservative scion of his family’s oil refining fortune, and other wealthy property owners protective of their ocean views. Then, without apparent irony, he promptly lashed out at the utilities that abandoned him, essentially claiming the relentless legal battle he has been whining about for more than a decade was an unanticipated disaster akin to an act of God.

The truth is, Gordon simply could not deliver. He never won the lasting support of the people of the Cape and Islands whose homes bear no resemblance to Koch’s Oyster Harbors manse or the Kennedys’ Hyannis Port compound. The Town of Barnstable opposed him. So did a Wampanoag tribe. Among the legal challenges the project has faced was a suit by struggling fishermen from Martha’s Vineyard who argued that the massive wind plant threatened their livelihood. (The fishermen withdrew their lawsuit only when they found themselves unable to pay their lawyers and Cape Wind offered them an undisclosed settlement.) Fifty-nine percent of respondents to a Cape Cod Times online poll in January pronounced themselves “happy” that Cape Wind looks doomed.

Yet, from the outset, Gordon has cloaked himself in environmental virtue and cast any and all critics as defenders of “dirty energy.” To doubt the merits of this particular project was to oppose renewable energy itself. To object to this specific site was to reject offshore wind power entirely. To express safety concerns — as regional airports and ferry operators who serve the mainland and the Islands did — was to brand yourself a dupe of the fossil-fuel lobby. To want to protect the aesthetic beauty of Nantucket Sound was to cast your lot with climate change deniers.

There was no middle ground for Gordon, who put Koch in the role of big-oil bogeyman but who staked his claim to those federal waters off Massachusetts without a competitive bidding process.

Charlie Baker was not wrong when he characterized Cape Wind as a “sweetheart deal” during his unsuccessful run for governor in 2010. I suspect his view hasn’t changed much now that he has claimed that corner office in the State House and has suggested he won’t get involved in the contract dispute.

Demonizing his critics worked for Gordon for more than a decade, but in the end the NIMBY charge lost its sting when the public recognized Cape Wind as a classic bait and switch. Developers promised cheap, clean energy, and then planned to sell 77.5 percent of the power they were going to produce to NStar and National Grid for some two times the average cost of power generated by US suppliers. The contracted price of 18.7 cents per kilowatt-hour was slated to rise 3.5 percent every year of the 15-year contract.

The developers dangled the prospect of good manufacturing jobs but then went to the German company Siemens to buy the turbines and the offshore transformer and to contract for maintenance services.

They touted their ability to attract private investment but then failed to secure all the necessary financing for the $2.5 billion project or to nail down purchase contracts for the final 22.5 percent of the power they planned to produce. (They had less trouble tapping public money, winning subsidies, tax breaks, and conditional commitment of a $150 million loan guarantee from the US Department of Energy.)



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


1 comment:

Dan Pangburn said...

We don’t need to wait until the average global temperature trend is unequivocally down. Anyone with access to existing CO2 and temperature measurement data-sets can falsify the statement that CO2 causes significant warming.

If CO2 is a forcing, a scale factor times average CO2 level times the duration divided by the effective thermal capacitance (consistent units) equals the temperature change of the duration. During previous glaciations and interglacials (as so dramatically presented in An Inconvenient Truth) CO2 and temperature went up and down nearly together. This is impossible if CO2 is a significant forcing so this actually proves CO2 change does not cause significant temperature change.

See more on this and discover the two factors that do cause climate change (95% correlation since before 1900) at . The two factors which explain the last 300+ years of climate change are also identified in a peer reviewed paper published in Energy and Environment, vol. 25, No. 8, 1455-1471.