Reblogged from Watts Up With That:
Scientific Hubris and Global Warming
Guest Post by Gregory Sloop
Notwithstanding portrayals in the movies as eccentrics who frantically warn humanity about genetically modified dinosaurs, aliens, and planet-killing asteroids, the popular image of a scientist is probably closer to the humble, bookish Professor, who used his intellect to save the castaways on practically every episode of Gilligan’s Island. The stereotypical scientist is seen as driven by a magnificent call, not some common, base motive. Unquestionably, science progresses unerringly to the truth.
This picture was challenged by the influential twentieth-century philosopher of science Thomas Kuhn, who held that scientific ”truth” is determined not as much by facts as by the consensus of the scientific community. The influence of thought leaders, rewarding of grants, and scorn of dissenters are used to protect mainstream theory. Unfortunately, science only makes genuine progress when the mainstream theory is disproved, what Kuhn called a “paradigm shift.” Data which conflict with the mainstream paradigm are ignored instead of used to develop a better one. Like most people, scientists are ultimately motivated by financial security, career advancement, and the desire for admiration. Thus, nonscientific considerations impact scientific “truth.”
This corruption of a noble pursuit permits scientific hubris to prosper. It can only exist when scientists are less than dispassionate seekers of truth. Scientific hubris condones suppression of criticism, promotes unfounded speculation, and excuses rejection of conflicting data. Consequently, scientific hubris allows errors to persist indefinitely. However, science advances so slowly the public usually has no idea of how often it is wrong.
Reconstructing extinct organisms from fossils requires scientific hubris. The fewer the number of fossils available, the greater the hubris required for reconstruction. The original reconstruction of the peculiar organism Hallucigenia, which lived 505 million years ago, showed it upside down and backwards. This was easily corrected when more fossils were found and no harm was done.
In contrast, scientific hubris causes harm when bad science is used to influence behavior. The 17th century microscopist Nicholas Hartsoeker drew a complete human within the head of a sperm, speculating that this was what might be beneath the “skin” of a sperm. Belief in preformation, the notion that sperm and eggs contain complete humans, was common at the time. His drawing could easily have been used to demonstrate why every sperm is sacred and masturbation is a sin.
Scientific hubris has claimed many. many lives. In the mid 19th century, the medical establishment rejected Ignaz Semmelweis’ recommendation that physicians disinfect their hands prior to examining pregnant women despite his unequivocal demonstration that this practice slashed the death rate due to obstetric infections. Because of scientific hubris, “medicine has a dark history of opposing new ideas and those who proposed them.” It was only when the germ theory of disease was established two decades later that the body of evidence supporting Semmelweis’ work became impossible to ignore. The greatest harm caused by scientific hubris is that it slows progress towards the truth.
Record keeping of earth’s surface temperature began around 1880, so there is less than 150 years of quantitative data about climate, which evolves at a glacial pace. Common sense suggests that quantitative data covering multiple warming and cooling periods is necessary to give perspective about the evolution of climate. Only then will scientists be able to make an educated guess whether the 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit increase in earth’s temperature since 1930 is the beginning of sustained warming which will negatively impact civilization, or a transient blip.
The inconvenient truth is that science is in the data acquisition phase of climate study, which must be completed before there is any chance of predicting climate, if it is predictable [vide infra]. Hubris goads scientists into giving answers even when the data are insufficient.
To put our knowledge about climate in perspective, imagine an investor has the first two weeks of data on the performance of a new stock market. Will those data allow the investor to know where the stock market will be in twenty years? No, because the behavior of the many variables which determine the performance of a stock market is unpredictable. Currently, predicting climate is no different.
Scientists use data from proxies to estimate earth’s surface temperature when the real temperature is unknowable. In medicine, these substitutes are called “surrogate markers.” Because hospital laboratories are rigorously inspected and the reproducibility, accuracy, and precision of their data is verified, hospital laboratory practices provide a useful standard for evaluating the quality of any scientific data.
Surrogate markers must be validated by showing that they correlate with “gold standard” data before they are used clinically. Comparison of data from tree growth rings, a surrogate marker for earth’s surface temperature, with the actual temperature shows that correlation between the two is worsening for unknown reasons. Earth’s temperature is only one factor which determines tree growth. Because soil conditions, genetics, rainfall, competition for nutrients, disease, age, fire, atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations and consumption by herbivores and insects affect tree growth, the correlation between growth rings and earth’s temperature is imperfect.
Currently, growth rings cannot be regarded as a valid surrogate marker for the temperature of earth’s surface. The cause of the divergence problem must be identified and somehow remedied, and the remedy validated before growth rings are a credible surrogate marker or used to validate other surrogate markers.
Data from ice cores, boreholes, corals, and lake and ocean sediments are also used as surrogate markers. These are said to correlate with each other. Surrogate marker data are interpreted as showing a warm period between c.950 and c. 1250, which is sometimes called the “Medieval Climate Optimum,” and a cooler period called the “Little Ice Age” between the 16th and 19th centuries. The data from these surrogate markers have not been validated by comparison with a quantitative standard. Therefore, they give qualitative, not quantitative data. In medical terms, qualitative data are considered to be only “suggestive” of a diagnosis, not diagnostic. This level of diagnostic certainty is typically used to justify further diagnostic testing, not definitive therapy.
Anthropogenic global warming is often presented as fact. According to the philosopher Sir Karl Popper, a single conflicting observation is sufficient to disprove a theory. For example, the theory that all swans are white is disproved by one black swan. Therefore, the goal of science is to disprove, not prove a theory. Popper described how science should be practiced, while Kuhn described how science is actually practiced. Few theories satisfy Popper’s criterion. They are highly esteemed and above controversy. These include relativity, quantum mechanics, and plate tectonics. These theories come as close to settled science as is possible.
Data conflict about anthropogenic global warming. Using data from ice cores and lake sediments, Professor Gernot Patzelt argues that over the last 10,000 years, 65% of the time earth’s temperature was warmer than today. If his data are correct, human deforestation and carbon emissions are not required for global warming and intervention to forestall it may be futile.
The definitive test of anthropogenic global warming would be to study a duplicate earth without humans. Realistically, the only way is develop a successful computer model. However, modeling climate may be impossible because climate is a chaotic system. Small changes in the initial state of a chaotic system can cause very different outcomes, making them unpredictable. This is commonly called the “butterfly effect” because of the possibility that an action as fleeting as the beating of a butterfly’s wings can affect distant weather. This phenomenon also limits the predictability of weather.
Between 1880 and 1920, increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations were not associated with global warming. These variables did correlate between 1920 and 1940 and from around 1970 to today. These associations may appear to be compelling evidence for global warming, but associations cannot prove cause and effect. One example of a misleading association was published in a paper entitled “The prediction of lung cancer in Australia 1939–1981.” According to this paper, “Lung cancer is shown to be predicted from petrol consumption figures for a period of 42 years. The mean time for the disease to develop is discussed and the difference in the mortality rate for male and females is explained.” Obviously, gasoline use does not cause lung cancer.
The idea that an association is due to cause and effect is so attractive that these claims continue to be published. Recently, an implausible association between watching television and chronic inflammation was reported. In their book Follies and Fallacies in Medicine, Skrabanek and McCormick wrote, “As a result of failing to make this distinction [between association and cause], learning from experience may lead to nothing more than learning to make the same mistakes with increasing confidence.” Failure to learn from mistakes is another manifestation of scientific hubris. Those who are old enough to remember the late 1970’s may recall predictions of a global cooling crisis based on transient glacial growth and slight global cooling.
The current situation regarding climate change is similar to that confronting cavemen when facing winter and progressively shorter days. Every day there was less time to hunt and gather food and more cold, useless darkness. Shamans must have desperately called for ever harsher sacrifices to stop what otherwise seemed inevitable. Only when science enabled man to predict the return of longer days was sacrifice no longer necessary.
The mainstream position about anthropogenic global warming is established. The endorsement of the United Nations, U.S. governmental agencies, politicians, and the media buttresses this position. This nonscientific input has contributed to the perception that anthropogenic global warming is settled science. A critical evaluation of the available data about global warming, and anthropogenic global warming in particular, allow only a guess about the future climate. It is scientific hubris not to recognize that guess for what it is.
Reblogged from Watts Up With That:
The Guardian’s editor has just issued this new guidance to all staff on language to use when writing about climate change and the environment…and it is full-on alarmism. No holding back punches now, because it’s a crisis, so let’s start writing like one! Josh helps us understand the real message.
HT/Willie Soon via Leo Hickman
Josh has interpreted this new policy:
James Delingpole notes:
There is, in essence, no such thing is a ‘climate science denier’ because not even the most ardent sceptic denies the existence of ‘climate science’.
Even more problematic is that use of the word ‘denier’, which implicitly invokes the Holocaust – and in doing so, weirdly and irresponsibly puts ‘being sceptical about anthropogenic global warming’ in the same category as ‘denying that Hitler murdered six million Jews.’
In recent years, climate alarmists have tried to backtrack on the origins of the ‘denier’ slur by pretending that they never intended to invoke Holocaust denial.
But here is Guardian environment journalist George Monbiot writing in 2006:
Almost everywhere, climate change denial now looks as stupid and as unacceptable as Holocaust denial.
Maybe Ms Viner should pay more attention to Thomas Sowell on this subject:
The next time someone talks about “climate change deniers,” ask them to name one — and tell you just where specifically you can find their words, declaring that climates do not change. You can bet the rent money that they cannot tell you.
Why all this talk about these mythical creatures called “climate change deniers”? Because there are some meteorologists and other scientists who refuse to join the stampede toward drastic economic changes to prevent what others say will be catastrophic levels of “global warming.”
There are scientists on both sides of that issue. Presumably the issue could be debated on the basis of evidence and analysis. But this has become a political crusade, and political issues tend to be settled by political means, of which demonizing the opposition with catchwords is one.
Sowell’s point is well made – and goes to the heart of what is wrong with the Guardian‘s new lexicon for its climate change reportage.
The Guardian is tacitly admitting that this is not an argument it is capable of winning on the science or indeed the facts. Therefore, it has decided to ramp up the rhetoric instead.
Reblogged from Watts Up With That:
By Jim Steele
Published in Pacifica Tribune May 14, 2019
Our Urban “Climate Crisis”
Based on a globally averaged statistic, some scientists and several politicians claim we are facing a climate crisis. Although it’s wise to think globally, organisms are never affected by global averages. Never! Organisms only respond to local conditions. Always! Given that weather stations around the globe only record local conditions, it is important to understand over one third of the earth’s weather stations report a cooling trend (i.e. Fig 4 below ) Cooling trends have various local and regional causes, but clearly, areas with cooling trends are not facing a “warming climate crisis”. Unfortunately, by averaging cooling and warming trends, the local factors affecting varied trends have been obscured.
It is well known as human populations grow, landscapes lose increasing amounts of natural vegetation, experience a loss of soil moisture and are increasingly covered by heat absorbing pavement and structures. All those factors raise temperatures so that a city’s downtown area can be 10°F higher than nearby rural areas. Despite urban areas representing less than 3% of the USA’s land surface, 82% of our weather stations are located in urbanized areas. This prompts critical thinkers to ask, “have warmer urbanized landscapes biased the globally averaged temperature?” (Arctic warming also biases the global average, but that dynamic must await a future article.)
Satellite data reveal that in forested areas the maximum surface temperatures are 36°F cooler than in grassy areas, and grassy areas’ maximum surface temperatures can be 36°F cooler than the unvegetated surfaces of deserts and cities. To appreciate the warming effects of altered landscapes, walk barefoot across a cool grassy lawn on a warm sunny day and then step onto a burning asphalt roadway.
In natural areas like Yosemite National Park, maximum air temperatures are cooler now than during the 1930s. In less densely populated and more heavily forested California, maximum air temperatures across the northern two thirds of the state have not exceeded temperatures of the 1930s. In contrast, recently urbanized communities in China report rapid warming of 3°F to 9°F in just 10 years, associated with the loss of vegetation.
Although altered urban landscapes undeniably raise local temperatures, some climate researchers suggest warmer urban temperatures do not bias the globally averaged warming trend. They argue warming trends in rural areas are similar to urbanized areas. So, they theorize a warmer global temperature is simply the result of a stronger greenhouse effect. However, such studies failed to analyze how changes in vegetation and wetness can similarly raise temperatures in both rural and urban areas. For example, researchers reported overgrazing had raised grassland temperatures 7°F higher compared to grassland that had not been grazed. Heat from asphalt will increase temperatures at rural weather stations just as readily as urban stations.
To truly determine the effects of climate change on natural habitats requires observing trends from tree ring data obtained from mostly pristine landscapes. Instrumental data are overwhelmingly measured in disturbed urbanized areas. Thus, the difference between instrumental and tree ring temperature trends can illustrate to what degree landscapes changes have biased natural temperature trends. And those trends are strikingly different!
The latest reconstructions of summer temperature trends from the best tree ring data suggest the warmest 30-year period happened between 1927 and 1956. After 1956, tree rings recorded a period of cooling that lowered global temperatures by over 1°F. In contrast, although tree rings and instrumental temperatures agreed up to 1950, the instrumental temperature trend, as presented in NASA graphs, suggests a temperature plateau from 1950 to 1970 and little or no cooling. So, are these contrasting trends the result of an increased urban warming effect offsetting natural cooling?
After decades of cooling, tree ring data recorded a global warming trend but with temperatures just now reaching a warmth that approaches the 1930s and 40s. In contrast, instrumental data suggests global temperatures have risen by more than 1°F above the 1940s. Some suggest tree rings have suddenly become insensitive to recent warmth? But the different warming trends are again better explained by a growing loss of vegetation and increasing areas covered by asphalt affecting temperatures measured by thermometers compared with temperatures determined from tree ring data in natural habitats.
Humans are increasingly inhabiting urban environments with 66% of humans projected to inhabit urban areas by 2030. High population densities typically reduce cooling vegetation, reduce wetlands and soil moisture, and increase landscape areas covered by heat retaining pavements. Thus, we should expect trends biased from urbanized landscapes to continue to rise. But there is a real solution to this “urban climate crisis.” It requires increasing vegetation, creating more parks and greenbelts, restoring wetlands and streams, and reducing heat absorbing pavements and roofs. Reducing CO2 concentrations will not reduce stifling urban temperatures.
Jim Steele is the retired director of San Francisco State University’s Sierra Nevada Field Campus and authored Landscapes and Cycles: An Environmentalist’s Journey to Climate Skepticism.
Last month, Netflix and WWF released a collaborative nature documentary that contained an egregiously: that Pacific walrus are being forced ashore by global warming where they suffer staggering population losses. But this is a story the film producers and WWF concocted for their own purposes, not a statement supported by scientific fact.
Over the last month, pointed questions have been asked about what really happened in Siberia while the film crew was there – and what didn’t. Scientific documents support the conclusion that Pacific walrus are currently thriving, have not been harmed by recent sea ice losses, and are not expected to be harmed in the foreseeable future, see here, here, here, and here. This new video explains it all.
Netflix, Attenborough and cliff-falling walruses: The making of a false climate icon
In a GWPF video released today, Dr. Susan Crockford, a Canadian wildlife…
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Reblogged from Dr.RoySpencer.com [HiFast bold]
May 13th, 2019 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.
A major uncertainty in figuring out how much of recent warming has been human-caused is knowing how much nature has caused. The IPCC is quite sure that nature is responsible for less than half of the warming since the mid-1900s, but politicians, activists, and various green energy pundits go even further, behaving as if warming is 100% human-caused.
The fact is we really don’t understand the causes of natural climate change on the time scale of an individual lifetime, although theories abound. For example, there is plenty of evidence that the Little Ice Age was real, and so some of the warming over the last 150 years (especially prior to 1940) was natural — but how much?
The answer makes as huge difference to energy policy. If global warming is only 50% as large as is predicted by the IPCC (which would make it only 20% of the problem portrayed by the media and politicians), then the immense cost of renewable energy can be avoided until we have new cost-competitive energy technologies.
The recently published paper Recent Global Warming as Confirmed by AIRS used 15 years of infrared satellite data to obtain a rather strong global surface warming trend of +0.24 C/decade. Objections have been made to that study by me (e.g. here) and others, not the least of which is the fact that the 2003-2017 period addressed had a record warm El Nino near the end (2015-16), which means the computed warming trend over that period is not entirely human-caused warming.
If we look at the warming over the 19-year period 2000-2018, we see the record El Nino event during 2015-16 (all monthly anomalies are relative to the 2001-2017 average seasonal cycle):
We also see that the average of all of the CMIP5 models’ surface temperature trend projections (in which natural variability in the many models is averaged out) has a warmer trend than the observations, despite the trend-enhancing effect of the 2015-16 El Nino event.
So, how much of an influence did that warm event have on the computed trends? The simplest way to address that is to use only the data before that event. To be somewhat objective about it, we can take the period over which there is no trend in El Nino (and La Nina) activity, which happens to be 2000 through June, 2015 (15.5 years):
Note that the observed trend in HadCRUT4 surface temperatures is nearly cut in half compared to the CMIP5 model average warming over the same period, and the UAH tropospheric temperature trend is almost zero.
One might wonder why the UAH LT trend is so low for this period, even though in Fig. 1 it is not that far below the surface temperature observations (+0.12 C/decade versus +0.16 C/decade for the full period through 2018). So, I examined the RSS version of LT for 2000 through June 2015, which had a +0.10 C/decade trend. For a more apples-to-apples comparison, the CMIP5 surface-to-500 hPa layer average temperature averaged across all models is +0.20 C/decade, so even RSS LT (which usually has a warmer trend than UAH LT) has only one-half the warming trend as the average CMIP5 model during this period.
So, once again, we see that the observed rate of warming — when we ignore the natural fluctuations in the climate system (which, along with severe weather events dominate “climate change” news) — is only about one-half of that projected by climate models at this point in the 21st Century. This fraction is consistent with the global energy budget study of Lewis & Curry (2018) which analyzed 100 years of global temperatures and ocean heat content changes, and also found that the climate system is only about 1/2 as sensitive to increasing CO2 as climate models assume.
It will be interesting to see if the new climate model assessment (CMIP6) produces warming more in line with the observations. From what I have heard so far, this appears unlikely. If history is any guide, this means the observations will continue to need adjustments to fit the models, rather than the other way around.
The heartbreaking story of dying polar bears, told for more than a decade now, was meant to get kids on board the global warming action train. It worked a treat – except that it was never true. The lie gave sensitive children nightmares and turned others into political activists full of groundless outrage who now pointlessly rant in the streets.
As the established icon of climate change and Arctic habitats, polar bears have been given centre stage in the climate change narrative presented to young children and their teachers. But the distressing tale of polar bears on the brink of extinction – dying for our fossil fuel sins – was never true, as I show in point form below. Polar bear lies form the foundation of the baseless political activism of Greta Thunberg that other youngsters have since emulated.
Here are some of the false ‘facts’ children…
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This time National Geographic’s ‘Hostile Planet’ series laughably claims a fat polar bear that’s caught a beluga calf off the coast of Western Hudson Bay has been saved from starvation! The message: here is a prime example of climate change pushing a species to its limit. This is nonsense, of course: polar bears hunting beluga whales from rocks has nothing to do with climate change or desperately hungry bears. More importantly, there is a much better video of the action that is both more informative and truthful.
See both below and decide which you’d prefer your kids or grandkids to watch.
National Geographic footage with focus on climate change
First, here is the polar bear sequence from the ‘Hostile Planet’ series, which it has clearly released for distribution to the media:
Applying standard media hyperbole, Rolling Stone Magazine rephrased this to read “See a Starving Polar Bear Hunt for…
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Reblogged from Watts Up With That:
Originally published May 1, 2019 in the Pacifica Tribune column What’s Natural by Jim Steele, republished here by request of the author.
When polar bear expert Mitch Taylor modeled populations in the Baffin Bay region (west of Greenland) in the 1980s, he estimated between 300 and 600 bears. Inuit hunters protested his estimates were far too low, and Baffin Bay’s hunting quotas far too small. So, Taylor and Inuit hunters sat together in “kappiananngittuq” to discuss their disagreements. The Inuit pointed out he surveyed during a time and in a place that overlooked a large portion of the population. Naturally, models driven by poor data always fail to model reality.
To Taylor’s credit, he redesigned his surveys based on hunters’ recommendations. The new survey tripled population estimates to over 2000 bears. Although a trend in the bear population could not be determined, it has been universally agreed that since the 1974 International Agreement for the Conservation of Polar Bears, polar bear populations were increasing due to better hunting regulations.
Of the 5 polar bear populations deemed to be declining by Canadian researchers, three declines were due to over hunting. Only two declines, such as western Hudson Bay, were possibly driven by global warming. Models suggested bears of western Hudson Bay were declining because warming was reducing sea ice. In 2013, extremist researchers like Andrew Derocher proclaimed, “All indications are that this population could collapse in the space of a year or two if conditions got bad enough,” and the media echoed ‘bears were on the verge of collapse’. Instead, that bear population has now increased. It is interesting to note the Hudson Bay is totally ice free every summer. So, does less summer sea ice truly hurt polar bears?
The claim that less sea ice will cause polar bears to go extinct is just one narrative, not tested science. From a historical perspective, Derocher’s claim that two-thirds of all polar bears could go extinct by 2030 is laughable. Numerous researchers have reported Arctic temperatures averaged about 3 degrees higher than today between 10,000 and 6,000 years ago and sea ice extent was far less for thousands of years. Clearly, polar bears did not go extinct, and history does not support Derocher’s narrative.
Most importantly, Arctic studies show less sea ice promotes more photosynthesis. After sea ice had recently decreased by 9%, Stanford scientists determined productivity increased by 30%. More photosynthesis provides more food for fish. More fish feed more seals and fatter seals feed more polar bears.
Conversely, there is solid evidence that thick ice is detrimental to seals and bears. Despite plenty of sea ice to hunt from, each winter all polar bears lose weight. Polar bears’ main prey is ringed seals, but bears have a very low success rate when hunting seals at their breathing holes. Polar bears feed most successfully from March to May when ringed seals birth their pups on the ice. Feasting on seal pups, bears can quickly quadruple their weight. After giving birth and molting, ringed seals leave the ice and migrate to the open ocean to feed and become quite inaccessible to bears for the summer. Recent reductions in sea ice from July to September are irrelevant for bears’ summer hunting success. But open waters do benefit seals and fish.
To remain in the Arctic all winter ringed seals must create several breathing holes. When new thin ice first forms, they bust out several breathing holes using their heads. As winter proceeds they gnaw and claw to keep their holes open. Wherever sea ice survives for several years it becomes too thick to create breathing holes. So, across the Arctic, regions of thick ice contain the fewest seals and fewest bears. In contrast, in the Hudson Bay where new ice must form each year seals and bears are abundant!
Researchers report cycles of thick spring-time ice stress ringed seals. Natural cycles change wind directions, trapping ice against various coasts. As layers of ice raft over each other, the new ice thickens. Thicker ice delays seals from reaching open water for summer feeding, resulting in weight loss. Low weights cause seals to forego breeding the next year thus reducing the bears’ food supply.
Because local ice conditions frequently change, polar bears do not defend territories. Instead bears are flexible and move great distances seeking out regions with more seals. One radio-collared bear was tracked moving from Alaska to Greenland during a summer.
When winds shift, thick sea ice can be blown out into the relatively warm Atlantic. This allows new ice to form which then can support more seals and more bears. Based on this basic biology, the Inuits’ narrative, “It is the time of the most polar bears” is best supported by scientific evidence.
Jim Steele is the retired director of San Francisco State University’s Sierra Nevada Field Campus and authored Landscapes and Cycles: An Environmentalist’s Journey to Climate Skepticism.
By David Wojick, Ph.D. ~
Utilities are starting to experiment with adding batteries to wind and solar projects. These storage projects are feeding the mistaken belief that batteries can cure the intermittency that makes wind and solar unworkable as a reliable source of power.
The reality is that these battery projects are trivial in size compared to what would actually be needed to make wind or solar reliable. The cost of battery based reliability would actually be stupendous, far more than we could ever afford.
Here are some simple numbers to make the point. The reality would be far more complex, but the magnitude would not change much.
First comes the cost of utility scale battery facilities. This is much more than just the cost of the batteries. At utility scale these are large, complex facilities. Connecting all of the batteries involved and getting them to work properly together is…
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