Friday, May 7, 2010

Imagine There Is Man Made Global Warming

Oh, no! (sniffle)(sniff)  Scientists decry the assault on climate science. (sniff) People are being mean to them... (sob) ... and saying mean things about all that fraud and stuff... and ....(sniff)  and not telling them they're important all the time... and people are being mean!!!

The problem with blogging is that I don't know you.  I don't know if anyone reads this - and that's compounded by the fact that it lives in perpetuity on a Google server somewhere, so that you could conceivably be reading this months after I post it.  Because of that, when I title a posting like this one, it's humorously ironic to some people (as intended) and others are going to spray spittle on their monitors and fume about stupid rednecks who don't believe in Global Warming. 

To begin with, scientific theories should not be "believed in"; they should be accepted.  Or rejected.  There is really very little room for belief in science.  Belief is, naturally, the province of things for which faith is required. 

When it comes to matters of science, I'm a hard ass.  I want hard science, I want rock solid data, I want confidence bounds, I want to know the value of p and I want error bars on your plots.  I want hard core data.  It's simple: put up or shut up.  Furthermore, I believe this is the only way for science to succeed.  Richard Feynman once noted, "science is about not fooling yourself, and you're the easiest one to fool".  Scientists are supposed to be skeptics; to always ask "is that the only explanation for the data" and do their best to kill off their baby theories.  If you're a member of the group that would hurl insults against anybody stupid enough to not believe the climate scientists, you are clearly not being skeptical  You're "believing" not "accepting". 

If you're a believer in anthropogenic global warming, you have to deal with the fact that the majority of weathermen, geologists and paleoclimatologists don't accept it.  The largest percentage of people who support AGW are the people who are directly supported by AGW grants.  This letter is signed by "255 members of the National Academy of Scientists"  When you look at the list of signers, they are not all climate scientists; many are MDs, biologists and other types of scientists.  If you are going to consider that sort of petition, then the Petition Project  has over 31,000 degreed scientists, including 9000 Ph.D.s - mostly in the physical sciences - who have signed a petition arguing against AGW. 

But, you have to understand this: science does not work this way - by voting 31,000 scientists against 255.  All of them may be wrong.  For science to progress, it is only necessary for one person to be right and for the scientific process to be unhindered.  The big problem with the climate modeling is that it ruins the real process of science and harms science in the long run.  Anything that harms science harms all of us.  The most damning thing in the CRU emails was the deliberate attacks on the peer review system; getting an editor fired, blocking papers from "outsiders".  This harms science.  Besides - if your case is strong, why would you do that?  You only do such things when you're committing fraud. 

Long before the CRU emails were leaked by that whistleblower, I was convinced that there was no useful science in AGW.  Simply compare the model temperature predictions for the last 20 years to what we've gotten.  AGW depends on a lot of very questionable assumptions, not to mention computer code that is laughable.  The simplest piece of software that goes into a life critical application, be it a car or a 747, has more rigorous software quality control done on it than the global climate models.  A car might cost a few thousand dollars and a couple of lives; a 747 costs millions and could cost hundreds of lives.  The global climate models will cost trillions of dollars and cost millions of lives, and yet there is no audit of them at all? 

The talk in the CRU emails about "Mann's trick" didn't faze me; nor did "hide the decline".  To me, Mann was discredited years ago by McIntyre and McKitrick - and has become pretty well self-discrediting.  McIntyre is a financial guy who was amazed that the climate modelers were not held to the same standards that his simplest financial programs were held to.  His web site is named for the idea that climate models that will cost trillions of dollars should be held to the same standards that a few thousand dollars worth of stock analysis will. 

The letter contains some horrible statements.  Take this one: 
When someone says that society should wait until scientists are absolutely certain before taking any action, it is the same as saying society should never take action. For a problem as potentially catastrophic as climate change, taking no action poses a dangerous risk for our planet.
This is clearly assuming that anything we do to counter warming has no costs or risks at all!  There is not a single reason on earth to think that there is no risk associated with the actions they advocate.  Any sane person would do some sort of risk-benefit analysis.  They follow that horribly sloppy thinking with this mess: 

For instance, there is compelling scientific evidence that our planet is about 4.5bn years old (the theory of the origin of Earth), that our universe was born from a single event about 14bn years ago (the Big Bang theory), and that today's organisms evolved from ones living in the past (the theory of evolution). Even as these are overwhelmingly accepted by the scientific community, fame still awaits anyone who could show these theories to be wrong. Climate change now falls into this category: there is compelling, comprehensive, and consistent objective evidence that humans are changing the climate in ways that threaten our societies and the ecosystems on which we depend.
 I think the advertising term for this is linkage.  They are trying to link the idea in your mind that man-made climate change is as well backed by evidence as the standard models of cosmology.  No, it's not; first off, there are literally thousands of cross-correlated measurements that support standard cosmology; and second, cosmology is based on theoretical physical modeling that is then compared to observation.  AGW is based on computer simulations that don't match reality very well at all.  The letter writers are also trying to equate anyone who disagrees with man-made climate change with those "Fundamentalist Christian Nut-jobs" who disagree with these theories.

The letter has no redeeming value.  It's a waste of time to read.

As Lord Monckton says, "we must get the science right, or we shall get the policy wrong."

Which brings me to the title point of this essay: in spite of the thousands of reasons to dismiss it, imagine there really was manmade global warming.  A set of reasonable questions seem to come up almost naturally: how big is the effect?  Is it bad?  Can we do anything to change it?  Should we try?  What would it cost?

In a pretty nifty piece of do-it-yourself science, World Climate Report determined the amount of CO2 required to raise the temperature of the globe 1C.  It takes ~14,138 million metric tons (mmt) of CO2 emissions to raise the atmospheric CO2 concentration by ~1 ppm and it takes ~125 ppm to raise the global
temperature ~1ºC. So multiplying ~14,138mmt/pmm by ~125ppm/ºC gives us ~1,767,250mmt/ºC.

That's our magic number-1,767,250 million metric tons of CO2 per ºC.  To the precision we know such things, that's more like 1.8 million mmt (million million million tons).

So let's say you wanted to reduce your carbon footprint.  Being a fanatic little greenie, you decide to give up your car.  According to some online sources, if you stopped driving your average mid-sized car for a year, you'd save about 5.5 metric tons (or 0.0000055 million metric tons, mmt) of CO2 emissions per year. Divide 0.0000055mmtCO2 by 1,767,250 mmt/ºC and you get 3.06 * 10^-12 degrees C (3.06e-12 in calculator jockey jargon).  If you took every car in the USA off the road, roughly 150 million, you've only changed the temperature .000458C per year. 

There has been talk about reducing the US CO2 output to 80% of its current levels - at one time that was in the Cap and Trade bill that has been in congress off and on for the last year.  The 2005 carbon output was about 6000 mmt, so 80% below that is 6000-4800 or 1200 mmt.  4800/1,800,000 is .0027C.  So if you took 150 million average mid-sized cars off the road and reduced the power generation and other carbon uses, those add up to a whopping .003C!  In other words, nothing.  In no statistical test could you distinguish that result from zero.  Bupkis. 

Now, the economic havoc of that sort of restriction set is unimaginably awful.  No cars, extremely limited electrical power, no ambulances, no police cruisers: a rural, agrarian lifestyle.  There is no benefit.  You are destroying the USA for no reason at all.  If you choose to live that way, help yourself.  Move out of the city, grow your own food, live on a farm.  Knock yourself out.  Most of us prefer modern civilization. 

If you watch Glenn Beck on the Fox News Channel, he has a video of a guy he calls "the Wizard", Joel Rogers, saying exactly what I just demonstrated here with a few calculations.  If you do all these things, it will have no measurable effect. At about 45 seconds into this video:!

And that's the dirty, stupid little secret.  Imagine there really is manmade global warming.  Use their numbers.  Calculate how much effect you would have on temperatures by virtually destroying everyone and everything you now know or ever have known, and it has no effect at all.

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