Friday, November 10, 2006

Climate change not a catastrophe - says climate change scientist

Over on the BBC site, Mike Hulme, director of The Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research hits out at the Environazis.

It seems that even the supporters of antrhopogenic climate change - which The Tyndall Centre most definitely is - feel that the problem is being overstated.

It seems that mere "climate change" was not going to be bad enough, and so now it must be "catastrophic" to be worthy of attention.

The increasing use of this pejorative term - and its bedfellow qualifiers "chaotic", "irreversible", "rapid" - has altered the public discourse around climate change.

Well, yes it has, Mike - but that is the whole point of it. It is political, not scientific.

I have found myself increasingly chastised by climate change campaigners when my public statements and lectures on climate change have not satisfied their thirst for environmental drama and exaggerated rhetoric.

Because climate change campaigners are uninterested in science and are motivated by politics. They have inicreasingly forced their world view on the world - and you either agree or you are to be intimidated into silence. This is why I call them Environazis.

Why is it not just campaigners, but politicians and scientists too, who are openly confusing the language of fear, terror and disaster with the observable physical reality of climate change, actively ignoring the careful hedging which surrounds science's predictions?

Since when has science been about predictions? I thought science was about fact established through experimental investigation, collection of empirical data and proven applied methodologies? Now it's about fortune telling!

Let me give you an idea about climate change and scientific predictions.

An object weighs 1kg. Given a constantly varying temperature, if I apply a force to that object for a number of seconds, how far north will that object have travelled over a period of time?

Can you work that out?

Of course not. You don't have all the data. So what you could do is add your own data and then make a "scientific prediction". Would that be the right answer? It's the right answer for your data - but what if the force I actually apply is greater than the one you guessed? What if the direction I apply that force is different from the one you guessed? What if I apply that force for longer than you thought? And what if the period of time I measure is different to the one you use?

That's how it is with climate change. We know x and y - but there are hundreds of other factors we do not know (and, at the risk of sounding like Rumsfeld) there are an unknown number of things we don't know we don't know. So any prediction on climate change is as scientifically sound as crystal ball gazing.

Back to Mr Hulme.

Hence we now have the militancy of the Stop Climate Chaos activists and the megaphone journalism of the Independent newspaper, with supporting rhetoric from the prime minister and senior government scientists.

Don't forget the Guardian, Mike! Though, I have to agree that The Independent - a newspaper for adolescents - takes the biscuit.

Is any amount of climate change catastrophic? Catastrophic for whom, for where, and by when? What index is being used to measure the catastrophe?

To be fair, Mike, they are only doing what you and other anthropogenic climate change supporters do. make it up as they go along.

All this claptrap about Britain being drowned under a rising ocean or turned into a dustbowl desert has no scientific basis - but that doesn't stop climate change scientists making those claims.

We know that a 1000 years ago the earth was a lot warmer than it is now. For those of you not familiar with English history, around a 1000 years ago, a chap called William and a chap called Harold had a bit of a barney in an area known as "Hastings". Hastings is in Kent which, despite the earth being a lot warmer than it is now, despite their being very little ice in the Arctic, wasn't submerged under 30 feet of sea water. In fact, the British Isles looked almost exactly as they do now.

Scientific theory - if that is what Hulme means by predictions - is supposed to be based on observation and identification. Why do they continue to ignore the observable and identified data they have in favour of made up data produced by computer models? Like in the example I gave above, you could create a computer model to answer the question I asked. It would, in theory, be correct, if the data fed into the model was correct.

Is that likely?

It's as likely as a computer model correctly predicting climate change and the resultant effects on the planet.


Bill H. said...

While checking to see if you had come up with a response to my comments on your evidence-free slagging off of solar panels, I happened to come across another still more egregious example of your compulsion to mouth off without evidence. Can you provide a reference to a single published set of historical climate data that indicates that the planet was "a lot warmer" a thousand years ago than it is today? Even those researchers on the anti-anthropogenic warming extreme (such as Baliunas and Soon) have produced projected data that indicate that Northern Hemisphere (not global) temperatures in the "Mediaeval warm period" were comparable with those around 1990, and actually cooler than present northern hemisphere temperatures. I can provide a reference to these data in the event of your actually wishing to grapple with evidence rather than merely regurgitating urban myths floating about the blogosphere. Or, in view of your preference for "the country" maybe you would refer "rural bovine defaecation" to "urban myth".

Oh, and Hastings is in Sussex, not Kent - a surprising lapse in one so steeped in English tradition.

Stan said...

Hello Bill, I realised the mistake about Hastings as soon as I posted, but couldn't be bothered to change it. It wasn't important in the context of the post. I should have realised that some pedant would pick me up on it - and so it proved.

This is a blog - a place for me to air my opinion. I'm a project manager not a scientist or historian.

You don't have to read it if you don't want to.

That's the difference between you and I, Bill. I believe you have a a right to choose and a right to express an opinion. You and the rest of the environazis believe I don't have the same right. You just think people like me should shut up and do what we're told. Tough.

Did you manage to answer the question I asked by the way?

Of course you didn't because you can't. You can't because you don't have the data. Without data the best ou can do is make a guess.

That's what supporters of AGW are doing, Bill. Guessing. They don't have any "evidence" either Bill, as Christopher Monckton, Tim Ball and others have pointed out. If you want evidence that supports what I say - go and look for it Bill. That's what I did. I listened to the global cooling/warming/climate change debate many years ago and decided I need to find out what was going on rather than just base my view on what The Guardian said. I've read hundreds of articles on both sides of the argument, looked at hundreds of graphs, gone cross-eyed gawping at figures and reached the conclusion that the likelihood of climate change being man-made is low, the likelihood of it being catastrophic is lower and that the "consensus" is politically driven rather than scientifically driven - as Mike Hulme tends to suggest.

With regards to your solar panels, Bill. As I said you need to consider a lot more than just the cost of installation and ROI. I guarantee that each solar panel you install will not reduce your CO2 emissions one iota over the lifetime of that panel. None whatsoever.

But it wil allow you to behave like a smug git.