Thursday, February 2, 2012

Warmie Angst & The AGW Theory Hanging By A Single Untested Hypothesis

The warmies are experiencing some epic angst over the letter published several days ago in the WSJ from sixteen distinguished scientists, addressed to our political leaders, stating that global warming is not an issue with which they needed to be concerned. The warmies have responded at the WSJ with a letter from Kevin Trenberth that is jaw dropping in its arrogance and utterly revealing about the state of the anthropogenic global warming theory.

Trenberth's first argument is that the only people that can make judgements about the validity of global warming are "climate scientists." As he puts it, "[d]o you consult your dentist about your heart problem?" But the reality is that "climate science" overlaps significantly with other disciplines, such as physics, meteorology, oceanography, statistics and computer programming to name but a few.  Trenberth gives us no reason whatsoever to discount the opinions of experts in these areas when making assessments of global warming. And as Jo Nova responds with tongue in cheek:

If my dentist tells me that my heart surgeon was caught emailing other surgeons about how to use tricks to hide declines, that he broke laws of reason, that his predictions are basically all wrong, or that his model of understanding is demonstrably wrong, then I’m listening to the dentist.

What is most troubling - and unbelievably arrogant - about Trenberth's argument is that he implies that if you are one of the non-scientists, your only recourse is to blindly trust in the pronouncements of "climate scientists."  What pure and utter bullshit.

What can - and should - we non-scientists do to assess climate science?

Number one, and perhaps most importantly, we can look at the underlying mechanics of a claimed scientific finding to see whether it is based on an experiment that complies with the scientific method - i.e., all the data, methodology, computer programs, etc. are archived and made public so that the results can be analyzed and reproduced by others. If not - and SO MUCH of climate science does not - then we should accord it zero reliability.

We can even take that a step further in evaluating experiments and just take a look at the size of the experimental sample.  If it is large and diverse, then we can mark it down as at least some indication that the results might be trustworthy.  If the sample is extremely small, that is a red flag that the scientist may be cherry picking data to get the result that they want - as happened with the infamous Yamal Tree Ring study.

We can look at how the temperature record itself is compilied - and make common sense judgments about whether the methods used are uniform and reliable.  And if they are not, if there appear to be significant problems with the numbers of temperature stations, their location, and whether they are subject to heat island effect, then we should be very skeptical indeed

We can look at changes to the temperature records to see whether there is any justification for the changes.  And if the changes are to make the older temperatures colder and the later temperatures warmer with no justification given, we can be suspicious that we are being sold a bill of goods.

We can look at the geologic record and see if the claims being made about our modern climate are reasonable within the larger picture.  So if at numerous points in history when there was no human contribution to CO2, the climate was warmer than today, we can legitimately ask why we should believe that increasing temperatures, as we emerge from the Little Ice Age, are in any way unusual, and proof of a human component to climate change.

We can look at the computer models to determine whether they are accurately predicting the heating or cooling of our climate. And if they are not (and all IPCC comuter models fail that test today), then we have no reason to trust the pronouncements of the warmies.

And we can tell whether there are gaping logical disconnects in the warmie arguments. Indeed, Trenberth makes a huge, gigantic, massive, leap in logic in his WSJ article, asking us to take an untested hypothesis as fact.  I'll save that critically important pearl for last.  First, let's deal with the following:

Climate experts know that the long-term warming trend has not abated in the past decade. In fact, it was the warmest decade on record. Observations show unequivocally that our planet is getting hotter.

Wow.  I seem to recall that a week ago, all of those climate scientists at the MET and the University of East Anglia, two warmie institutions at the heart of climate science (not to mention Climategate), just told us 'unequivocally' that our planet had not warmed at all over the past 15 years.  So Trenberth is deliberately ignoring that to make his absolutist claim.  He has obvious problems with veracity.  So why should we trust anything that he says.

Actually, this latest finding from MET and East Anglia stands in direct contradiction to Jim Hansen's NASA GISS temperature record. The GISS records show red hot warming over the past 15 years. GISS and MET data line up through 1998, but diverge thereafter because Hansen claims that there is massive warming going on in the Arctic region. There is minimal coverage of temperature stations in the Arctic, and Hansen's claims are based almost wholly on a number of questionable extrapolations. Indeed, even while Hansen is showing the Arctic on fire over the past 15 years, we are seeing increases in polar ice there - something that wholly undermines Hansen's claims.  So what Trenberth is doing is the time tested climate scientist technique of cherry picking the data he wants. And since the MET data undermines his argument, he is pretending it simply doesn't exist.

And one more note before leaving the above quote. Trenberth writes that the last decade has been the "warmest decade on record." Now, I will bet that most non-scientists reading that will believe that we are experiencing world record temperatures over the course of geologic time.  But in reality, "on record" is shorthand for the period since 1880, when relatively reliable temperature record keeping began.  Warmies rarely seem to explain that when they make their pronouncements.

Trenberth later makes mention of his 2009 e-mail wherein he bemoaned the fact that the world had stopped warming and the warmies couldn't explain it.  So what has changed since 2009?  It's the mother of all logical jumps.

[C]omputer models have recently shown that during periods when there is a smaller increase of surface temperatures, warming is occurring elsewhere in the climate system, typically in the deep ocean. Such periods are a relatively common climate phenomenon, are consistent with our physical understanding of how the climate system works, and certainly do not invalidate our understanding of human-induced warming or the models used to simulate that warming.

Did you catch those two things?  One, Trenberth's e-mail is directly undermining the claim of Hansen's NASA GISS that we have had continued warming of surface temperatures over the past 15 years. Obviously Trenberth didn't believe it when he wrote his 2009 e-mail bemoaning the lack of warming. And today Trenberth is taking the position that the surface temperatures have not warmed, but the deep oceans have. So there is no doubt Trenberth is being less than honest when he now embraces Hansen's surface temperature numbers as definitive. But that is not the big thing.

The huge, gigantic, enormous thing in the above statement is this - Trenberth et. al, when he couldn't explain the flatlining of temperatures over the past 15 years, built a new computer model that has spit out a projection that significant warming is going on in the deep oceans. How that happens without warming the middle layers of the ocean is a mystery, but lets leave that aside for the moment.  What the computer has spit out is AN UNTESTED HYPOTHESIS.  In other words, Trenberth DOES NOT HAVE THE DATA to support his conclusion that global warming has gone deep into the oceans. Deep water temperature testing only began with ARGO in 2003, and there is nowhere near the data at this point to even suggest that the ocean depths have, over the past 15 years, absorbed the massive amount of heat that Trenberth's model projects. So simply put, no one today can validate it.  Warming in the deep ocean is not known to be "common" on the basis of any observed data. So in other words, this scurrilous man is asking us to accept the absolute truth of anthropogenic global warming not on data or proven fact, but ON FAITH THAT HIS LATEST COMPUTER MODEL may be right. That is the antithesis of science.

This is incredibly revealing.  It means that the AGW theory is literally hanging on by an untested hypothesis today. It also means that, for the first time since the global warming canard started, it is, today, capable of being falsified. After the moving of goal post after goal post, we finally might be at the point that there is no more space for the warmies to move it. It is put up or shut up time for Trenberth and the warmies. Show us observed facts, not a computer generated hypothesis..

----------------------------- Update: The addressees of Trenberth's letter have responded at WSJ:

The Trenberth letter tells us that "computer models have recently shown that during periods when there is a smaller increase of surface temperatures, warming is occurring elsewhere in the climate system, typically in the deep ocean." The ARGO system of diving buoys is providing increasingly reliable data on the temperature of the upper layers of the ocean, where much of any heat from global warming must reside. But much like the surface temperature shown in the graph, the heat content of the upper layers of the world's oceans is not increasing nearly as fast as IPCC models predict, perhaps not increasing at all. Why should we now believe exaggerating IPCC models that tell us of "missing heat" hiding in the one place where it cannot yet be reliably measured—the deep ocean?


Lastly, Trenberth falls back on the tried and true argument that all people should accept the truth of anthropogenic global warming because it is generally accepted by all right thinking scientists whose papers are accepted for peer reviewed publication. Compare that argument with this:

No theory is carved in stone. Science is merciless when it comes to testing all theories over and over, at any time, in any place. Unlike religion or politics, science is ultimately decided by experiments, done repeatedly in every form. There are no sacred cows. In science, 100 authorities count for nothing. Experiment counts for everything.

That is from physicist Micho Kaku's article, Has A Speeding Neutrino Really Overturned Einstein, in the WSJ last year. It would seem that Mr. Kaku has a very different opinion than Mr. Trenberth as to what constitutes actual  "science" and how much trust should be placed in the weight of authorities.  Indeed, it would seem that Trenberth is doing anything but making valid scientific arguments.

At the end of the day, there needs to be a reckoning.  The "climate scientists" who have sold us on the canard of global warming cannot escape with their careers intact.  And to the extent that they have committed knowing fraud, they need to be punished criminally.  Those organizations that have told us the sicience is settled need to lose access to all federal funding.  And the entire system of federal grants for research needs to be thoroughly overhauled.  And lastly, we as a nation ought to demand that any scientist who receives federal funding to conduct an experiment must completely comply with the scientific method, making every bit of data, methodology, and computer programs immediately available so that their work can be validated or falsified.  This global warming scam, so costly to our world, cannot be allowed to simply fade into the night as the theory is disproven. They have caused too much damage to entire economies and they have grossly eroded the faith of the average person in the trustworthiness of our scientific community. Examples need to be made.


K T Cat said...

Off topic: I just read your comment about Romney over at Hot Air. I'm going to borrow it and link back to your site from my blog.

I feel the same way.

Anonymous said...

"We can look at how the temperature record itself is compiled"

Can you?

Where did the pre-1940 temperature record come from? Can you see the raw data?

Most importantly (since you mention statistics), is there a certain number of years worth of data that are necessary to define a TREND? (BTW,the answer is "yes")

Does reliable RAW data for enough years to define a TREND exist?

Does such a time-series exist in a form that can be checked or reproduced by others?

What coverage of temps across the earth is needed to compile a "Global Average Temperature"? Does such coverage exist in the "Global" Temperature Record? Or, can we just use the temperature in, say, London and assume that that IS the "global" average temperature.

Or, can we just use the temps in, say, London and assume that whatever temp changes occurred in London over a number of years perfectly reflect any changes to a "Global Average Temp"?

Lastly, if you have tree ring PROXY data; if you have polar ice PROXY data; if you have sea level PROXY data; if you have atmospheric CO2 data; .....
of what use is it (in terms of showing a warming or cooling TREND) if you do not have reliable TEMPERATURE data?

These are the only questions that matter. Because if the answer to any of these questions is "NO", then no amount of other raw data, other proxy data, computer models, or statistical pseudo-validity matters a whit in proving the hypothesis.

These are the FIRST questions that should have been asked of the Warmist "scientists". Yet, even until today, nobody has asked them.

Paul Gordon said...

Considering how much you've written on this subject, I suspect you're already familiar with this guy ...

Monckton responds to Skeptical Science

FYI - :-)

GW said...

K T Cat: Read your post on Romney. I think we are in agreement on that one.

Anon - is that you, OBH?

Paul - Thanks for the Monckton link, I hadn't seen that.

Anonymous said...

"Anon - is that you, OBH?"

I don't know what OBH means; but, no, I'm not him (her? it?). Just a guy who stumbled upon your site. I like it.

I used to post comments all around about the fact that there's no reliable temperature record pre-1940; much less one that could be called a "global average". I mean, how can you prove Global WARMING (man-made or otherwise) without the temperature?

I gave up commenting about it because nobody listens to me (usually for good reason).

P.S. Michio Kaku is a huge leftist global WARMIST. He may understand science and its method; but he doesn't apply it to global warming. Much like Stephen Hawking in that respect.

GW said...

Anon - Most of what you raise, in one form or another, is in fact raised by Watts and others if you go with the links. And I couldn't agree more with your points.

Your point on London seems to be how Hansen is dealing with the Arctic. He is taking the few stations that exist within heat islands and extrapolating from there across huge swaths of the Arctic.

The satellite data that we are getting shows far less warming in the arctic than Hansen is claiming. Much more on that at

As to raw data, that has been an issue for years now, with the warmies hiding it. Hansen is the worst for that, but it happens elsewhere. One of my links above is to the infamous Darwin station temperature record, where the raw data is available and show no warming. Yet all of the changes that show how those numbers were massaged to make them much colder in the early 20th century and far hotter in the last decade plus.

As to period 1880 to 1940, I have never run into claims that the period is in particular unreliable - beyond the fact that in many instances, the raw data isn't being made available.

As to the more general point that we need to know a reliable temp to determine whether there is cooling or warming, that is of course the whole rub of the situation. And indeed, much of the claimed warming is being made in tenths of degrees, when our level of accuracy in assessing modern temperature is about half a degree.

So, in sum, I concur strongly with all of your points.

Anonymous said...

"As to period 1880 to 1940, I have never run into claims that the period is in particular unreliable - beyond the fact that in many instances, the raw data isn't being made available."

That's because it no longer exists (if indeed it ever did).

Phil Jones "lost" it.

btw, ALL "global temperature records" have their source in work by Phil Jones. ALL of them. Prior to 1940, that is.

Now, there is NO raw data prior to 1940. Phil Jones "misplaced" it.

One would think that the fact there's ZERO raw data for 80 years of the alleged 150 years of "data" might somewhat detract from its reliability.

However, it seems we've done away entirely with things like falsifiability, independent verifiability, and REPRODUCIBILITY.

GW said...

Fascinating. I had no idea that Jones was the sole source of the 1880 - 1940 record. Obviously, there is a problem there. But then, reliability of the temperature is a central issue with the post 1940 data also.