06 March 2012

CAGW theory is not settled science

What's Up With That has directed me to a tutorial in physics and science contained in a comment by Professor Robert Brown of the Duke University Physics department on a post on WUWT about Climate Science and Special Relativity.

I enjoyed Professor Brown's post as much for its excellent exegesis on the nature of scientific certainty in physics ,as for its application of scientific principle to the Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming theory.

This is Professor Brown's take:

You compare the predictions of their “catastrophic” theory five, ten, twenty years back to the actual data. If there is good agreement, it is at least possible that they are correct. The greater the deviation between observed reality and their predictions, the more likely it is that their result is at least incorrect if not actual bullshit. That’s all. Accurately predicting the future isn’t proof that they are right, but failing to predict it is pretty strong evidence that they are wrong.

Such a comparison fails. It actually fails way back in the twentieth century, where it fails to predict or explain the cooling from 1945 to roughly 1965-1970. It fails to predict the little ice age. It fails to predict the medieval climate optimum, or the other periods in the last 10,000 years where the proxy record seems to indicate that the world was as warm or warmer than it is today. But even ignoring that — which we can, because those proxy reconstructions are just as doubtful in their own way as the tree-ring reconstructions, with or without a side-serving of confirmation bias to go with your fries — even ignoring that, it fails to explain the 33 or so years of the satellite record, the only arguably reliable measure of actual global temperatures humans have ever made. For the last third of that period, there has been no statistically significant increase in temperature, and it may even be that the temperature has decreased a bit from a 1998 peak. January of 2012 was nearly 0.1C below the 33 year baseline.

This behavior is explainable and understandable, but not in terms of their models, which predicted that the temperature would be considerably warmer, on average, than it appears to be, back when they were predicting the future we are now living. This is evidence that those models are probably wrong, that some of the variables that they have ignored in their theories are important, that some of the equations they have used have incorrect parameters, incorrect feedbacks....     
                                                        [the bolding is added by me]

The IPCC is now sorely in need of a revisit to its earlier predictions and its recommendations about the future. CO2 does not look like the main culprit for the Global Warming from 1975 to 1998. The world does not appear to need to take drastic measures to reduce CO2 emissions by changing its energy sources. Australia does not have to tax its largest companies CO2 emissions making those companies less internationally competitive, imperilling workers' jobs. In fact the Carbon Tax is increasingly looking like a spectacular political folly.

And, in Professor Brown's opinion, the whole alarmist schicht is pointless anyway because:

No matter what, we will be producing far less CO_2 in 30 years than we are today. Sheer economics and the advance of physics and technology and engineering will make fossil-fuel burning electrical generators as obsolete as steam trains. Long before we reach any sort of catastrophe — assuming that CAGW is correct — the supposed proximate cause of the catastrophe will be reversing itself without anyone doing anything special to bring it about but make sensible economic choices.

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