Thursday, October 05, 2017

The maxim of all scientists — "I might be wrong."

An article below by a couple of biologists (Arturo Casadevall and Ferric C. Fang) is amusingly lacking in self-insight. They present themselves as defenders of science but are themselves unscientific.  They proclaim that the maxim of all scientists is "I might be wrong." But climate scientists are apparently exempt from that rule. When did any Warmist say he might be wrong about Warmism?  The few who have done so -- e.g. James Lovelock -- immediately get cast out into the outer darkness of denialdom.

The authors say that because most climate scientists appear to believe in global warming it must be right.  Most scientists once believed in phlogiston and that the position of the continents was fixed but that wasn't right.  Consensus proves nothing.  Science relies on scrutiny of the evidience, not majority votes.

If only climate scientists DID say "I might be wrong"!  They don't.  On the criterion suggested for science by Arturo Casadevall and Ferric C. Fang below, Warmist dogmatism in fact shows that they are not scientists

Attacks on science are nothing new.

In the fifth century, an angry mob murdered Hypatia, one of the most gifted female astronomers of antiquity, allegedly because her calculation of the vernal equinox raised questions about the accuracy of the Alexandrian calendar. A millennium later, the Inquisition burned Giordano Bruno at the stake over his claim that the universe is infinite and contains other worlds. A few years later, Galileo was tried by the Inquisition over his support of heliocentric theory. Benjamin Franklin, influenced by his older brother James, initially opposed vaccination against smallpox. In 1925 John Scopes was convicted of violating Tennessee law by teaching evolution.

Despite these attacks, the results are always the same.

The mob may have silenced Hypatia, but few rely on the Alexandrian calendar anymore. Searching for other worlds is now a full-time occupation for many astronomers. Although Galileo was forced to recant that the earth revolves around the sun, popular legend has it that he muttered "Eppur si muove" (and yet it moves) under his breath. Franklin came to regret his earlier views and became a staunch smallpox vaccine advocate after his young son died of the disease in 1736. And the subject for which Scopes was convicted became the foundation of modern biology.

Today there are many active fronts in the war on science. Climatologists are attacked for their virtually unanimous consensus that earth is facing a period of anthropogenic climate change. A vocal movement claims that vaccines are responsible for autism despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. The theory of evolution remains under attack by creationists. Genetically modified organisms (GMOs), including pest-resistant crops that promise greater bounties, are banned in many countries despite overwhelming evidence that they are safe for people and the environment. In keeping with this mood, the Trump administration has repeatedly belittled the value of scientific expertise and eliminated scientists from panels that advise the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Justice.

Those who deny specific scientific findings and theories are neither idiots or Luddites. Such individuals have no problem using the fruits of science and technology such as cell phones, medicines and computers. Science deniers are selective in their rejection of science when it focuses on a specific finding that they do not like.

Despite the widespread evidence of science denialism, there is no organized opposition to broad swaths of scientific theory. For instance, no one is denying major theories such as the standard model of particle physics, the germ theory of disease, general relativity, lunar origins, continental drift or Mendelian genetics. Those who make war on science are opposed to some particular scientific finding rather than the scientific method or the entirety of science.

Why do certain aspects of science trigger opposition? Current and historical controversies suggest that opponents of science typically fall into two broad camps: philosophical and economic.

Hypatia, Bruno, Galileo and Darwin proposed ideas that ran afoul of religious teachings. Resistance to vaccines and GMOs is also centered on belief systems that fear the consequences of modern technology.

On the other hand, the denial of climate science is centered on resistance to economic and lifestyle changes that would bring about major disruption to certain ways of life, as we switch away from carbon-based fuels. A sweeping and unreferenced assertion bordering on the libellous. Where is the scientific proof for that claim?  There is none. As a "denier", my objection is based on the poor fit between temperature and CO2 levels.  The authors here seem to think abuse substitutes for argument: Very Leftist and thoroughly discreditable.  They are just parroting hate-filled Leftist talking points

Similarly, resistance to forensic science reform is based on a reluctance to change prosecutorial practice.

A common denominator of science denial is the rejection of information that is obtained experimentally and rationally in favor of alternative facts. Where is the evidence of anthropogenic global warming?  It is just a theory that has so far proven unable to generate accurate predictions -- So it has failed the acid test of any scientific theory

Unfortunately, science denialism has consequences. Today we are seeing the reemergence of preventable and life-threatening infections like pertussis and measles because parents fear the vaccines more than the diseases. Denial of climate change is delaying the development of alternative energy sources to reduce carbon emissions and preserve the planet for future generations. The failure to reform forensic science can allow innocent individuals to be punished for crimes they did not commit while actual perpetrators remain free to commit other crimes.

Science is different than most other human endeavors in that it always considers its knowledge to be provisional. As Einstein remarked, "I sometimes feel that I am right — I do not know that I am." This can seemingly place scientists at a disadvantage, as scientists are reluctant to respond with the same level of certainty as denialists.

However, it would behoove denialists to consider the maxim of all scientists — "I might be wrong."

History has repeatedly taught us that nature is indifferent to whether humans choose to believe in right or wrong ideas. Denial of the truth has always ultimately proven to be futile. The earth still revolves around the sun, life evolves and infectious epidemics continue to threaten humankind.

Devastating hurricanes, floods and droughts do not care whether or not we believe in anthropogenic climate change. They will come anyway.

But denialism can place society at greater risk by failing to prepare for worst-case scenarios and to adopt strategies to mitigate our effects on the environment. It is time for those in denial to ask themselves, "But what if I'm wrong?" The time will be when Warmists say: "But what if I'm wrong?"


New Study: Global Warming Standstill Confirmed, Climate Models Wrong

Natural climate variability: Interpretation of the post 2000 temperature standstill

Nicola Scafetta et al.


The period from 2000 to 2016 shows a modest warming trend that the advocates of the anthropogenic global warming theory have labeled as the “pause” or “hiatus.” These labels were chosen to indicate that the observed temperature standstill period results from an unforced internal fluctuation of the climate (e.g. by heat uptake of the deep ocean) that the computer climate models are claimed to occasionally reproduce without contradicting the anthropogenic global warming theory (AGWT) paradigm.

In part 1 of this work, it was shown that the statistical analysis rejects such labels with a 95% confidence because the standstill period has lasted more than the 15 year period limit provided by the AGWT advocates themselves.

Anyhow, the strong warming peak observed in 2015-2016, the “hottest year on record,” gave the impression that the temperature standstill stopped in 2014. Herein, the authors show that such a temperature peak is unrelated to anthropogenic forcing: it simply emerged from the natural fast fluctuations of the climate associated to the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomenon.

By removing the ENSO signature, the authors show that the temperature trend from 2000 to 2016 clearly diverges from the general circulation model (GCM) simulations. Thus, the GCMs models used to support the AGWT are very likely flawed.

By contrast, the semi-empirical climate models proposed in 2011 and 2013 by Scafetta, which are based on a specific set of natural climatic oscillations believed to be astronomically induced plus a significantly reduced anthropogenic contribution, agree far better with the latest observations.


Latest global warming panic is topical, but it isn't science

John Robson:

No sooner had a series of storms devastated the Caribbean basin than the climate change vultures pounced, calling it definitive proof of man’s disruptive effect on the weather. Which you might call fair enough since they’ve been predicting this result for decades. Except they haven’t.

At least not successfully or consistently. They have been predicting extreme weather ever since their prediction of skyrocketing temperature went flat, with a two-decade “hiatus” since 1997, despite ever-increasing CO2 levels. But before 2017, the U.S. had gone almost 12 years without a single Category 3 or stronger storm making landfall.

During that time media outlets were explaining why man-made climate change actually meant less severe storms. In 2008, the Ottawa Citizen said, “the extra heat will indeed pump more energy into the storms, but will also build up a phenomenon known to limit the storms: wind shear.” In 2010, MSNBC wrote soberly, “Top researchers now agree that the world is likely to get stronger but fewer hurricanes in the future because of global warming…”

Then Harvey hit and they pivoted on a dime, saying things like, “Global warming to make powerful hurricanes more likely” (Boston Globe), and, “Increased rainfall and higher storm surges — which caused severe damage this month — are two of the clearer effects of climate change” (David Leonhardt in the New York Times.)

It’s not a theory if it only predicts things after the fact. Like the Times blaming man-made global warming for the California drought and also its soggy end. And there’s a far deeper problem here.

Even if you believe the Earth has been warming since the Little Ice Age ended in Victorian times, and somehow blame humans even though the Little Ice Age itself is part of well-established cyclical trends of often dramatic natural fluctuations going back hundreds, thousands and indeed millions of years, there is no coherent reason to think increasing temperatures means worse weather.

It is possible to construct elaborate theoretical models for such a result or to shout about it, from Al Gore’s claim that warming causes simultaneous flooding and droughts, to Thomas Friedman in the New York Times this Sept. 13: “The climate has always changed by itself through its own natural variability. But that doesn’t mean that humans can’t exacerbate or disrupt this natural variability by warming the planet even more and, by doing so, making the hots hotter, the wets wetter, the storms harsher, the colds colder and the droughts drier.”

The problem is, there’s no result to explain. There’s no historical evidence that warming is generally associated with worse weather. We have no reason to think droughts are worse today than in the “Dust Bowl” of the 1930s, let alone the 17th century or the 13th. Or that flooding is. Or that hurricanes are. Our fairly good storm records for the past century show a mild decrease in tornadoes, cyclones and such like.

When they do happen they can do enormous damage. Like 1780’s “Great Hurricane” that killed 22,000 people, the deadliest Atlantic hurricane on record. Or 1900’s “Galveston,” the worst natural disaster in American history.

All these theoretical models are an attempt to dispense with evidence, not explain it. Three of the 10 deadliest Atlantic hurricanes on record were in the 18th century and four others before the Second World War. And while we lack detailed storm records from 800 or 8,000 years ago we do know Der Grote Mandrenk in January 1362 wiped entire islands and towns off the map of northern Europe during the disastrous cooling that brought the Medieval Warm Period to a grim end, complete with failed harvests and Black Death.

We also have a rough idea what the climate was like on Earth going back 500 million years. Normally it was warmer than today, often by around 10 degrees Centigrade. And this warmer Earth was extremely hospitable to life, from Eocene mammals to Mesozoic dinosaurs to the Cambrian Explosion.

To say that warm is generally good is not to deny that sudden temperature changes spell trouble for those plants, animals and people who live through them or don’t. But if you’re going to have a sudden temperature change, up is better than down; the Medieval Warm Period, Roman Warm Period and Holocene Climatic Optimum were all far better than the glaciers coming back. And there’s nothing to suggest they were stormier than the Dark Ages or Little Ice Age.

The assertion that storms are worse on a warmer planet is sheer, cheeky invention quite independent of facts. If it turns out that 2017 is cooler than 2014-16 will Friedman or Gore attribute recent storms to the cooling? Not a chance. And that’s not science.


If the 'end of oil' is upon us, why's demand for crude rising at near-record pace?

Peter Tertzakian

Oil and gas plus conventional vehicle sales adds up to more than US$5 trillion per year of business. That’s a big tree to shake

Change in the world of wheels is accelerating! Momentum is building and some days it’s hard to keep up.

Every week, the assumptions about the future of transportation, and the energy systems that turn our wheels, are becoming more Jetson-esque.

The excitement is palpable and as a technology junkie I love it. Auto shows are rolling out new electric vehicle (EV) models; China says it’s planning on banning internal combustion engines (ICE); and Daimler is jockeying with Tesla in the budding electric truck segment. In the battery world, lithium prices have reached an all-time high on anticipated demand growth. In tow with all the EV news, there is a trailer full of autonomous vehicle talk that makes me think that 1950s Popular Science articles were real after all.

But it’s time to take our foot of the accelerator and make sense of it all.

For the next several columns I’ll be looking at what the pundits are saying, characterizing and examining all assumptions, and putting things into pragmatic context.

I know one thing for sure: this is a very complicated and contentious subject. There are no easy parallels. An electric car is not like a smartphone or a Netflix subscription. For one thing, neither had much competitive resistance.

Parrying against the sunny alt-transport news, there is a cloudy, competitive reality. Global oil demand is ratcheting up at near-record pace. A couple of weeks ago, the International Energy Agency put our oil-addicted world on track for a 1.6 million barrels per day of growth this year over last (the 20-year average is 1.2 million bpd per year).

For 2018, analysts are already starting to escalate their oil growth forecasts. The lesson shouldn’t be lost on any of us: Never underestimate the consumer’s ability to overindulge in cheap energy commodities.

“Death of the Combustion Engine” and the “End of Oil” headlines are increasing in frequency on the promise of better, cheaper EVs with greater selection. Yet the actual data trends for ICE car sales and oil consumption are like pistons firing in the other direction, revving harder and racing away from any speculative eulogies.

What to believe?

There is little debate in my mind that big changes are forthcoming to our energy systems and transportation paradigms. For context, let’s think about how big is big?

Just the scale of what’s in play will challenge many assumptions and forecasts. As the baseball philosopher Yogi Berra once said, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”

When it comes to oil and autos, big is a word that is not big enough. Transitioning not one, but two of the largest industries in the world simultaneously is unprecedented. Both have multi-trillion-dollar roots as tough as oak trees.

Our daily dose of oil momentarily touched 100 million-barrels-a-day in June. I estimate we’ll sustain past that incomprehensible century marker by the middle of 2018. That’s the equivalent rate of burning an ultra-large supertanker of oil every half hour.

From a sales perspective, the top 10 integrated oil and gas companies recorded annual revenue in excess of US$3.1 trillion per year in 2015. For comparison, the top 10 technology companies add up to US$1.3 trillion in sales and they sell a lot more than just smartphones.

There are over 1.2 billion ICE-powered vehicles on the road today. If the average vehicle is modestly worth US$20,000, that represents a potential fleet turnover of US$20 trillion. Electrifying this fleet on a fast track won’t be limited by technology (it never is). Aggressive adoption scenarios will be a function of many other considerations; for example, who will compensate car owners for trillions of dollars of devalued capital stock?

And the capital stock of a billion-plus vehicles isn’t static. After scrapping 40 million clunkers every year, the overall vehicle fleet is still expanding at a rate of 50 million vehicles annually, 99 percent of which are still ICE-powered. Like oil, autos are big business too: Off the assembly lines, the top 10 conventional automakers generate US$1.6 trillion in sales worldwide.

Oil and gas plus conventional vehicle sales adds up to more than US$5 trillion per year of business. That’s a big tree to shake. The multi-trillion-dollar scale of what’s in play is unlike any other we’ve seen. So, even modest shifts in the way we turn our wheels will be hugely impactful.

Many unknowns are in play. Will the world be driving 1.5 or over 2.0 billion vehicles by 2040? How many kilometers will each person be traveling, on average? At what rate will people switch from ICE to EV? Will EVs be full or partial substitutes for each of the various wheeled transportation segments? What will the value of a used car be?

Change one small assumption in the decades to follow—for example, how long people hold onto cars before trading them in—and the forecasts are out by a couple hundred million electric vehicles, several million barrels of oil per day, and hundreds of millions of tons of carbon per year.


'Really awful': 50-degree days possible for Sydney, Melbourne, as warming worsens

Possible?  So is Armageddon and the conversion of the Jews.  Below are just prophecies based on models that have never got a prophecy right yet.  One wonders why they continue to bother

Sydney and Melbourne can expect summer days when the mercury climbs to 50 degrees within a couple of decades if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, new research has found.

The study, led by Sophie Lewis at the Australian National University, analysed new models being prepared for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to examine the difference between a 1.5- and 2-degree warming limit compared with pre-industrial times.

At the upper end of the range – which would amount to a 1.1-degree rise from current global warming levels – NSW's record extremes would increase 3.8 degrees compared with existing records. Those in Victoria would rise by 2.3 degrees, the simulations showed.

For Sydney and Melbourne, populations could swelter in 50-degree weather even if the 2-degree global warming limit agreed in the 2015 Paris accord were achieved, according to the research co-authored by Andrew King from Melbourne University and published Wednesday in Geophysical Research Letters.

"If we warm average temperatures, we shift the whole distribution of temperatures, and we see a really large percentage increase in the extremes," Dr Lewis told Fairfax Media.

"What seems like a small increase in average temperatures, say 1 degree, can lead to a two- or three-fold acceleration in the severity of the extremes."

Under a high carbon emissions scenario, 50-degree days could arrive "as early as the 2040s", Dr Lewis said, adding that even with a concerted reduction in pollution, those temperatures could be reached by about 2060.




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


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