Comment Of The Day: “Climate Change Media Hype, 2022”

I was feeling guilty about taking so long to give this spectacular Comment of the Day by Ryan Harkens the exposure it deserves, but I am glad I did. I’m pretty sick today, and getting a fourth post up was really going to be a challenge; Ryan’s profound essay is better than anything I was going to be able to produce…indeed, it’s better than most of what I write here.

Ryan’s’ topic is science, and climate science in particular. I’m honored that he vewed this forum worthy of such thoughtful and profound work.

Here is Ryan Harkens’ Comment of the Day on “Climate Change Media Hype, 2022”:

***

In the analysis of any phenomenon, there are several layers to peel back:

1. Is the phenomenon real?
2. Is the phenomenon being measure accurately?
3. Is the phenomenon on a whole beneficial or deleterious?
4. Are the causes of the phenomenon understood?
5. Are there solutions to the phenomenon?
6. Do those solutions cause more problems than the phenomenon?
7. How should those solutions be applied?

We have to understand that science is about creating hypotheses about the real world and testing them. Science collects data, analyzes data, makes predictions about the data, and then observes whether those predictions come true. Thus science can help to a certain degree with the first 6 items on the list, but it has much less to say on the 7th. But even for the first 6, science does not necessarily provide definitive answers, certainly not enough to say that any “Believe the science!” mantras should be heeded. In more detail:

1. Science can offer a tentative answer to whether a phenomenon is real. Upon testing and retesting, it can assert with a certain degree of confidence (never 100%) that a phenomenon is indeed real. But there could always be further data discovered that shows the phenomenon was not real, or at least what it was was much different that was proposed. In the case of climate science, we have observations since the 1970s that show a general warming trend. It seems very reasonable to accept that we’ve seen a general warming trend since then. However, even now there are some factors that could still upset that conclusion. The urban heat index could be greater than we imagined; the fact that most of the temperature gauges we’ve used around the world are located in first world countries, leaving much of the world unmeasured; and the reliance on satellite data (while currently of high confidence) might have some undiscovered error that invalidates 50 years of data collection. (I’m not saying this is the case or I have any evidence satellite data is flawed, just that that would be an example of how even our belief that the world has been warming could be in error.)

2. Science can only measure to a certain degree of accuracy. Again, the issues of urban heat index and the location of various temperature gauges could skew the data, and while global warming could be a real phenomenon, the degree to which the world is warming can be misrepresented by poor measurements. Similarly, efforts to reconstruct historical climate patterns based on ice core samples, tree rings, and other methods could be helpful, but still inaccurate, and thus lead to different conclusions about current warming or cooling trends. Furthermore, there is the question of whether we are truly measuring the right things? We need to measure air, land, and water temperatures at a variety of elevations, and we have to properly measure the incoming energy in the earth’s systems, as well as the outgoing energy of the earth’s systems, and this leads to literally hundreds of thousands of data points for one timestamp. Multiply that by years of data, and we are talking about an enormous amount of data, and we could still be missing a crucial measurement that we didn’t think we would actually need to measure.

3. Global warming and cooling are known, to a certain degree of confidence, to have occurred over a variety of eras to a variety of degrees. Temperatures were hotter when the dinosaurs ruled the earth. Temperatures were colder in depths of the various ice ages that have happened since. We do know that there are problems with a climate that is too cold on one end, and too hot on another end, for the suitability of human life. Climate change alarmist keep propagating claims that weather events will become more frequent and more damaging in a hotter global climate. The evidence thus far has been to the contrary, and on the flip side, a warmer global climate leads to wetter (not drier) temperate zones, longer growing seasons, and fewer cold deaths. At some point, these gains would vanish — too hot a climate would make it difficult for humans to survive (except for the crazies who live in Phoenix…), but that would be far hotter than the 1.5 degree, or even the 5 degree Celsius models the IPCC have proposed.

4. Science fundamentally seeks to understand causes of phenomena. It is founded on a principle that the universe is ordered, that effect follows cause, that creation is fundamentally intelligible. So it is well within the purveyance of the scientific methodology to propose one or more causes for a phenomenon. We have observed the world warming. Why is it warming? It would have to be due to a larger difference between energy in and energy out. The earth has a certain amount of trapped heat, some of which is stored in the oceans, some in the atmosphere, and some beneath the crust. The earth receives heat from solar radiation, and the earth loses heat by emitting it out into space. So what scenarios do we have to consider?

a. An increase in the solar radiation.

b. A decrease in the heat emitted into space.

c. An increase in heat emitted from the earth’s oceans or molten interior.

d. Some other mechanism we have not identified.

e. Some combination of all four.

The proponents of anthropogenic climate change essentially focus on case b. They propose that dramatic increases in carbon dioxide have trapped and will continue to trap additional heat in the earth’s atmosphere and oceans, continuously heating the earth. While they may consider a variety of other contributors to the observed global warming, they propose that man-made addition of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere is the primary driver. Critics largely suggest that fluctuations in the solar radiation are fundamentally responsible for the earth’s warming and cooling climate. Given that the globe does continue to warm, but that the warming is far below all projections, it seems that while many of the causes are known, the relative weight of each cause is still unknown.

5. We can use science to produce solutions. If we understand causes, then we can propose actions that will counteract those causes. And so, there are a number of solutions to global warming, from the radical to the expensive to the practical. There doesn’t seem to be much we can do to increase or decrease the sun’s emitted radiation, but there are some hypothetical means of reflecting more of the sun’s radiation back into space, from a solar shade to seeding the atmosphere with large amounts of chemicals that reflect the sun’s light. In terms of decreasing the heat emitted into space, by far the biggest proposition is reducing all man-made carbon dioxide to as close to zero as possible. But the question is how much of a decrease is needed, or even possible? Certainly one way to eliminate all man-made carbon emissions is to eliminate mankind altogether. Others have proposed not the extinction of mankind, but the reduction of mankind to a few million that will live in some carbon-free, solar/wind/battery/organic/vegan-driven utopia. Still others have proposed massive spending to build sufficient “renewable” generation that today’s standard of living and population could be largely maintained. Other pursuits look to bypass the batter problem by seeking other storage mechanisms, such as the generation of “green” hydrogen. I’m not going to touch on the Paris Accords or other non-binding legislation that just seeks to move money around, because those are obviously not solutions to global warming. But there are some other proposals on the flip side, which largely boil down to adapting to the warming climate and not seek to curtail the warming.

6. Science can help further by evaluating the consequences of implementing those causes by making predictions of how the phenomenon of global warming will unfold under certain scenarios. That is what the IPCC has tried to accomplish, laying out the “business as usual” case against a partial decarbonization against total decarbonization. However, science requires observation and repeatability. Without actually implementing the changes proposed, science can only hypothesize. And this is where the science begins to reach its limits. If the science is actually uncertain what the causes of the phenomenon are, then any solution proposed could either do nothing, actually help, or exacerbate the problem. Worse, those solutions would probably have additional consequences that are not directly related to the problem. Using the cold logic of Skynet, the easiest way to eliminate man-made problems is to eliminate man. Done. However, that does carry the undesirable side-effect (for some of us at least) of extinction. Of the more realistic proposals, such as building solar panels and wind turbines to replace fossil fuels, there is a very high cost of implementation. Calculations show that for scores of trillions of dollars, at the cost of unearthing an unprecedented amount of rare materials, and by blanketing the countryside, it could be feasible to decarbonize the earth’s power generation. Is that good? Is that bad? Science can only offer facts, not value judgments. It is it better to beggar mankind to prevent further warming, or is it better to let warming occur and risk letting that warming spiral out of control? Does that change based upon the uncertainty of how effective each solution is? It would be crippling to beggar mankind, but it would be far worse if mankind were beggared to no effect. What about the green hydrogen? It has some merit on the surface, but compressed hydrogen is extremely dangerous. Hydrogen doesn’t like to remain hydrogen. That’s why we don’t find pure hydrogen in the wild (on earth, I mean — stars are different stories). Is the risk of handling such a compressed, volatile material in unbelievably large quantities a better idea?

7. This leads us into our final layer, where science can only inform, not recommend. Science deals with is, not ought. A variety of solutions, some more clever than others, could be very attractive to those who are running the models and conducting experiments, but even so, science only goes as far as informing. Anything beyond that is not informing, but advocating, and that is no longer science.

However, the picture is far murkier than that would suggest. In order for science to inform, it has to both present reasonable information, and it has to be trustworthy in its presentation. The breakdown in past decades of the peer-review process; the scandal of money driving research toward a preconceived policy, rather than letting the science speak for itself; the proliferation of junk science in academia in order to reach tenure has greatly eroded the trust science once held. Add onto that the censorship, not just from the media, but within academia itself, of contrary analyses and inconvenient data, and the call to “Follow the science!” is no longer a reasonable mantra, but blind trust.

A policy-maker would be more inclined to a course of action if that action solved a problem, but the action would have to be proportionate to the problem. Right now, with global warming in no way keeping up with the climate models, it would be lunacy to direct the entire resources of the human race to the narrow-minded vision of “decarbonization”. All the yammering about the extreme weather has nothing to do with science: the data shows no increase (but does show a decrease) in extreme storms. Droughts are no worse now, and various dry areas of the globe are greening. Snow is still around. Glaciers are still around. And each warmer year we get currently saves about 100,000 lives (since cold-related deaths each year number around 4.5 million, and heat-relate deaths about 600,000). The world continues to produce ample food to feed the entire human population (with only distribution issues being the main reason people don’t have the food they need). And we still have a healthy population of polar bears.

In the meantime, we continually have groups of anthropogenic climate-change skeptics, such as Anthony Watt’s Watt’s Up With That and Paul Homewood’s Not A Lot of People Know That that analyze all the new papers and proposals, call out misrepresentations in the press, and really do seem to be “following the science” noting just how badly the climate science is being conducted and presented to the public. They are prolific and erudite in their commentary.

Paul Homewood did in fact point out someone who tried to resurrect the “the current cold spell is further evidence of global warming” argument.

29 thoughts on “Comment Of The Day: “Climate Change Media Hype, 2022”

    • Thanks, Steve! I feel there are so many details I left out, so many more things that need said, fleshed out, nuanced. There never seems to be enough time to address all of those.

  1. Jack Marshall, given the current information we have, policy-wise, what should be done about climate change in the US?

    • First, we should subject the models to an objective evaluation of their efficacy and stop using the term climate change. The term “Climate Change” does not allow us to evaluate a particular direction of supposed problem. In the 70’s we were looking at the next ice age now it is greenhouse gases trapping heat that will melt the polar caps. Models that are “tweaked’ to arrive at a given conclusion should be scrapped.

      Second, let the private sector fund climate science studies. If government funds the studies and they want the study’s outcome to reflect a given change in climate that is no different than having the tobacco companies sponsor research into the effects of nicotine. Let different groups present their findings and let government decide how they wish to proceed. When the people are given competing data with different study conclusions you will be better able to have information democracy. If legislators pick the direction that is averse to voters, then they will be held accountable.

      Third, we could start by building modern nuclear reactors for electricity generation and improving the grid for distribution. Climate alarmists must also do away with BRIC waivers and impose a climate duty on products that are made in countries or factories that do not meet our strict environmental standards. If you want strict environmental standards and such standards impose high economic costs at home, then you have to demand them everywhere else and impose the costs of meeting those standards on everyone in every country. That is equity. Anything short of that is simply a means to destroy western nations.

      Finally, we should call out the organizations that perpetually lie about climate effects. Here I am talking about making factual claims that are disproven by data; not a different interpretation of data. Some examples include the demise of the polar bears, storms are getting worse, droughts are increasing. And, we should stop giving attention to children who are not scientists who throw tantrums.

    • Tahiti Wilson wrote, “given the current information we have, policy-wise, what should be done about climate change in the US?”

      I’ll bite on this loaded question but we first have to agree on what that current information is before we can properly answer that question.

      What do you think the current information is?

      Is a climate catastrophe really just around the corner?

      Is the talk of a climate apocalypse equivalent to Magic 8 Ball predictions?

      Personally I think the climate apocalypse predictions are pure propaganda and shouldn’t be taken seriously. I also think that the climate scientists that are predicting a climate catastrophe are arrogant to the point of complete absurdity to think that they can control mother nature. I think electric car advocates are spewing propaganda nonsense with their claims of “zero carbon emissions”, sure it’s truthful when you only look at the car but it’s all propaganda lies, all these virtue signaling pompous asses are doing is moving the carbon emissions from their tail pipe to a smoke stack at the power plant, plus they’re completely ignoring the carbon footprint to create the cars and the real problems with the limited supply of raw materials to create all the car batteries needed and the environmental disaster it is to mine lithium.

      Lastly, I think cleaning up the environment is a good thing for everyone and everything on the planet and we should all strive to be better stewards of the environment but that doesn’t mean to lose our freaking minds in the process, there has to be a reasonable balance.

      I’ve been saying for a while that the best thing that could happen to the environment of the planet would be for the population of the planet to be gradually reduced with social and cultural encouragement of better family planning so families have one child and their done. No, we can’t force that upon the population but socially and culturally it can be encouraged. It would take some generations for the population to decline to the point that pollution begins to decline but in the long run reducing the population of the planet and maintaining a lower population is the best long term solution.

      What say you Tahiti Wilson?

    • Tahiti,

      I know you are directly addressing Jack, but allow me to offer my thoughts.

      1. The climate changes. Without mankind, the globe has seen a variety of climate profiles. Even should we pick a climate profile that we all agree is preferable for the prosperity of mankind, natural forces will ensure that we do not long remain in that climate profile.

      2. We do not sufficiently understand all the drivers of climate change, and trying to make a strong move on one variable can have unforeseen and possibly terrible consequences.

      3. Right now, cold is a greater killer than heat. A warmer globe will actually be more beneficial for human thriving overall.

      4. The idea that the United States alone can tackle global climate change is absurd.

      5. The idea that the only solution to climate change is wind turbines, solar panels, and batteries is completely unfeasible.

      6. The idea that anthropogenic carbon dioxide is the primary driver of climate change is not “settled science” by any degree. Climate models predicated upon that premise have consistently overpredicted global warming. To compound matters, every dire prediction from the climate alarmists have been discredited over time. Major populations have not had to abandon the coasts or islands, polar bears are still thriving, there are still snow and glaciers, and again, temperatures have not soared off the charts.

      So, we don’t fully understand the problem, we don’t have feasible solutions, the United States could not implement any of those solutions on its own, and at crippling costs were it to try, and we do not have strong reasons to trust the predictions being made insisting we cripple ourselves to proverbially save the world. Moreover, there are numerous reasons to believe that the warming we’re experience is a net benefit and should not be stymied.

      To that end, the United States should make as its policy the following:

      1. Energy independence. Analysis of reserves in Wyoming alone suggest that there is enough uranium to power nuclear reactors and enough coal to (through coal gasification) supply transportation fuels for the entire country for the next century at least.

      2. Development and debottlenecking of nuclear power and installation. Nuclear power is the only carbon-neutral, base-loadable dispatchable power we know. The effort to reduce carbon footprints is virtue signaling at best and counterproductive at worst without nuclear power in the profile.

      3. Remove roadblocks for the developing world’s use of fossil fuels. Natural gas especially provides plentiful electricity at a fraction of the carbon emissions from burning wood, peat, and other materials that developing countries use when denied the ability to develop fossil-fuel-burning power sources.

      4. Invest in infrastructure. Better roads, better transmission lines, better buildings. Better roads mean more economical vehicles. Better transmission lines mean less power loss over distances. A more robust grid also allows for a greater amount of wind and solar that the current grid simply cannot support. Better buildings, crafted from the start for power savings, should be proposed and compared to standard housing, and once that has become demonstrably cheaper over a house’s lifespan, encourage new building to utilize power saving standards.

      5. Allow the free market to drive innovation. All these subsidies to wind and power are boxing in our R&D efforts to making wind and power work, somehow. By all means, keep up the R&D in that direction, but free up resources for R&D into better nuclear power, cleaner fossil-fuel power, and so on. There have been some innovations in nuclear power over the decades, but it has such a terrible stigma that nuclear development is very difficult and not rewarded.

      6. Cut off all wood pellet production supplying power to the Drax power plant in Great Britain. That power plant alone is responsible for huge carbon emission, particulate emissions, and the thinning of forests in the US. (The Carolinas, I believe…)

    • Ryan has the long answer. The short answer is “Nothing.” When you have no options, you have no problem. Trying to solve problems that you don’t understand and that you can’t possibly solve alone is an exercise in waste, hubris and recklessness.

        • Standard English convention is that something stated by a speaker is related in quotes, thus indicating that this is what the speaker said.. If the answer was “No” I would have written “no” in quotes. In this case, the sentence without the quotes would be ambiguous in meaning.

          • Can you specify in your own words then what, if anything, the policy of the US should be regarding climate change.

            Is it nothing?

            • What part of “Ryan has the long answer. The short answer is “Nothing.” When you have no options, you have no problem. Trying to solve problems that you don’t understand and that you can’t possibly solve alone is an exercise in waste, hubris and recklessness” is unclear?

                • Tahiti,

                  1. Sometimes the ethical response to a problem is to do nothing because the degree of uncertainty about the problem would indicate that doing something might hurt more people than doing nothing. Doing something for the sake of doing something is not worth it and is irresponsible if it actually ends up harming more than it helps.

                  2. Doing something that is not the answer you prefer is not doing nothing.

                  3. In attempts to become more economically efficient, we in the US have already become amazingly more energy efficient. More can be done, but at diminishing returns.

                  4. Even granting the need to completely decarbonize the entire world, we haven’t the funds, the raw materials, or the ability to implement what is needed to accomplish this. Period, end of story.

                  5. What is the purpose of doing something about climate change? If there is no mankind, the climate can do whatever it wants and nobody cares. The earth could be turned into a smoking cinder in the middle of space (and that will happen in about 4.5 billion years) and without mankind, it is utterly meaningless. The solutions that could be effectively put into place at our current level of available materials and overall capital would provide subsistence for the world at about 400 million people. A partial solution that never-the-less condemns more than 90% of the worlds population to death by starvation is an unreasonable solution.

                  6. Even granting the reduction of the world population to 400 million to do what we can to decarbonize our economies, the process of developing these “renewables” requires unbelievably environmentally damaging processes, typically to extract the rare materials needed to build the solar panels, batteries, etc. The sheer volume of the “renewable” generation would require an immense amount of recycling efforts in order to not completely trash the landscape with defunct solar panels and broken turbines and that recycling process itself is incredibly dirty.

                  7. Consider Ryan Harkins’s reply to your comment where he discusses nuclear power and coal gasification. Nuclear power is carbon neutral for electricity generation. Coal gasification can be designed to be pretty close to carbon neutral as one pipes all that lovely carbon dioxide into underground reservoirs. This is very expensive but currently possible and has been utilized. My master’s thesis was on a plant that would use this design, in fact. He gave you a solution, you have ignored it in your quest to get Jack to respond.

                  8. But by all means, in your own words, what ought we do?

                    • Actually, he has answered the question, clearly and unambiguously, two or three times so far.

                      You’ve had several detailed answers by other folks as well that contain answers to your question.

                      What, exactly, without any spin, more are you looking for him (or us) to say? Do you just not like the answer(s) you’ve gotten so far? Are you hoping that asking again will get a different answer?

                      Can you not just move on to your response to his answer?

  2. Extremely well written and valuable essay! For laymen like me with some basic science/engineering knowledge, much of the narrative on climate change seems to be designed to confuse and obfuscate the matter rather than clarify it. The intrusion of advocacy into all areas of this supposedly scientific inquiry is alarming. Obviously, resolving items 6 and 7 requires debate beyond the strict sphere of science, but the thumbs of ideologues resting on the metaphorical scales won’t help us make the best decisions.

  3. Great COTD. I want to go into some more depth on point number two, “Is the phenomenon being measured accurately?” I do not believe that this is the question that we need to ask, or more specifically, it is not entirely complete. “Is the phenomenon measured accurately and is the measurement being tabulated and analyzed accurately?”

    In the ideal, tabulation and analysis is as simple as a few calculations and a quick chart. Changing volume to weight to mass and balancing flows while accounting for reaction rates, kinetic limits, and thermodynamic limits can be a nasty set of calculations, but is generally logically simple, if mathematically complex. Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) relies not only on the collection of data that may be suspect, but it tabulated in a suspect way. Because the systems in question are so large, with so many unknowns, this has to be done through the process of modeling.

    Before I get too involved in this, I want to point out that I am not a climate scientist. My education is in energy and energy technologies. These two fields are often closely aligned as climate science needs to figure out the energy problem and so these fields often work closely together. This being said, my understanding of the climate models comes from reading papers and listening to speeches and presentations, not personal work on them. However, energy technologies work with a great deal of modeling too, and in theory, the ideas behind modeling processes are supposed to be the same.

    Modeling is a science that borders on art. You have to be as accurate as possible, while accounting for a lot of unknowns. Computers do most of the work for us, but as we say in any comp sci class, Garbage In, Garbage Out (GIGO). To show this principle, one of my modeling classes had us model how to make a very simple salad dressing on the computer. We mixed water-based vinegar with oil which don’t mix, making some of the math terms cancel each other out and lead to a simple calculation in comparison to most of what gets modeled, and the goal was to calculate certain mixing parameters. To calculate these things, we have to use what are called equations of state (EOS). EOS systems are mathematical models of reality that show the interaction between many combinations of substances. There are hundreds, if not thousands of available EOSs and each is designed to handle a certain combination of chemical substances in a certain range of temperatures, pressures, and systems. Some of them are easier to work with than others, which does not make them correct. My professor gave us two EOSs to chose from for the assignment. One was simple and would calculate everything for us. The other required extensive research and extra work to make the calcuations even start. So obviously, as hard-working college juniors with 18 credit hours of grueling classes, we chose the easy one. We assumed that it was an adequate EOS. Our computerized results showed that the oil would spontaneously erupt out of the flask and go boom. Now that is not what has ever happened when I make salad dressing in the real world. Some of my classmates turned the work in after four hours on the assignment, not checking the data, while others of us went to the professor and asked why this happened. He had us look into the data on an intermediate step where the EOS stated that there was no partial pressure of water in the vapor phase at room temperature. This means that there is no water in the vapor phase, which anyone who has encountered fog knows is untrue. Because this is obviously false, it shows that this EOS cannot be used in this specific system. Once that garbage had been input, the data out was garbage. Those of us who didn’t just turn in garbage but noted the EOS didn’t work got full marks as this was the hidden point of the assignment. (I loved this professor, but his homework policy was complex.)

    This in important to understand because we do not have a simple way of dealing with climate, other than through models. Now when I model a system, I check every single intermediate calculation, and I compare it to reality whenever possible, but the sheer number of unknowns makes this a challenging prospect, even for something as easy as salad dressing. The hydrocracking of Fischer-Tropsch wax has only a few data points to compare to, so designing a refining system…well, no one wants to read my paper on that. I assure you though, my starting assumption of ten trays in primary distillation had to get changed to closer to 20 through painstaking work, and the side draws…I’m having flashbacks so I’ll stop there. Assumptions must be used at any point in the modeling, but for modeling to have any meaning, the assumptions used must be challenged, changed, and evaluated. Climate modeling, to even start the computer, assumes certain things, and this is fine, but we need to be aware of them, and challenge those assumptions.

    The most important assumption of climate modeling, when one is looking to see if man has changed anything, is that you have to assume a lot of data, almost all of it from the idea that man has or has not changed the world’s climate. There is just not enough data from pre-1970 to make the models work. There is even less data pre-Industrial Revolution. Many of the data points have gone from in the middle of nowhere to in the middle of the concrete jungle, as mentioned in this COTD. Somehow this data has to be accounted for. So, they assume that humans cause warming and use that assumption to fill in holes. All models that I am aware of start with the assumption that AGCC is the primary cause of planetary warming.

    This leads to a problem. The models say, definitively in many cases, that mankind is warming the planet and will continue to do so at a rapid rate, or maybe not a rapid rate. However, the idea that mankind is the primary cause of any climactic change is built into the models that then tell us that mankind is causing the climate to change. This is not unlike telling a child, who grow up with no other external input, that the definition of the word sweet is the taste of a jalapeno. When the child grows into a man and calls all spicy foods sweet, is it because he has never known the meaning of the word, or is it that he has messed up taste buds? AGCC scientists argue that his tastebuds are messed up, when they raised him with the wrong definition of the word sweet.

    This leads to many errors in modeling. First, the effect of any anthropogenic action is overemphasized. We see this in the models when they predict extreme values that are never realized. The error between the models and reality is only growing as years go by. When your assumption and your answer are the same, trustworthiness is also thrown out the window, which is why so many of us “climate deniers” exist.

    The next error in modeling is that you have to run the model many times with the same inputs to ensure you didn’t accidentally put a randomization element in when you need hard results and check each step many times to make sure that you didn’t mistype any numbers or equations. It is so easy to write 1.547 or 154.7 when you meant 15.47. These can massively change calculations, and when modeling, you often write so many numbers in hundreds or thousands of lines of code per operation that you can pretty much guarantee that something was fat fingered. Climate modeling prides itself on always taking in the newest information and the complexity of their algorithms, which means that the run time on these models is not quick. Running a model many times is then difficult and there is almost always new data coming in, so these models are known for being unable to get repeatable results. This not only complicates fixing human error, but also makes them untrustworthy.

    Remember above, how I talked about EOSs? EOSs are very important in modeling gases and liquids, especially if there might be any reactions between them. However, one of the hardest things to calculate with an EOS is a combination of two (or more, it is always more complicated with more) mixing fluids like, for example, water and CO2. Add in a few other items and we have an electrolytic system with non-electrolytic components with diverse solubility parameters at varying temperatures and pressures, not unlike pop mixed with Gatorade mixed with olive oil mixed with salt, baking soda, and Feta cheese, and the math gets…ugly. Carbonated Olive oil Gatorade salad dressing is a nightmare in any EOS and requires more than one to have a chance, which complicates things immensely and causes headaches, nightmares, cats and dogs living together, and mass hysteria. Your calcuations are automatically suspect because you have to fix them for weeks or months to get them to run correctly, and you have to put in all kinds of exceptions in the code to get it to even run, much less calculate any dang thing. Human error is multiplied in so many ways, and often these make models seize up until you massage them correctly, which can introduce its own error. It is hard to get these models to be robust and trustworthy, and several climate models have shown that someone grabbed the salad exploding EOSs, at least in one calculation, instead of getting the correct combination of EOSs for all instances of calculation.

    So again, the question comes down, not only to the measurements of data, but also how it is analyzed and tabulated. If any step is coming in funky, than only garbage can come out. AGCC scientists have an uphill battle on this issue, without any of the other steps. There is nothing unscientific on challenging models with so many moving parts that keep giving funky data, indeed, that is how true and good breakthroughs are accomplished.

    • Excellent points Sarah. One significant point you made is about the reliance on AGCC assumptions on models. When you include a desired outcome in your input assumptions you have compromised the process. This is equivalent to assessing disproportionate treatment of races in our judicial system if our model assumes one race is predisposed to criminal behavior.
      Assumptions must be neutral relative to the hypothesis being tested.

    • A COTD worthy reply.

      One of my takeaways is that if climate scientists had explained themselves this way, their work would be a lot more credible. However it would also be a lot less globally alarming.

      It is the absolute certainty with which they present inherently ambiguous data that undermines their arguments.
      They’ve oversold in much the same way vaccine evangelists have and are earning much of the same skepticism.
      Please keep up your posts – they are always informative.

  4. Jack,

    I think my comment – a response to Tahiti Wilson – got eaten by WordPress. If you can find it in there and bring it back, that would be awesome.

    Many thanks in advance!

  5. This is the sort of conversation that we need to be having about anything to do with “science-based policy”. This is how science mindset works: analysis, augmented by synthesis. (Synthesis can also be called imagination.)

    Science mindset comes up with hypotheses about how phenomena work, and figures out ways to test them. It figures out how to ask incisive questions about the world and get meaningful answers to those questions, and builds models of how the world might work based on what it learns.

    Thanks for breaking it down, Ryan! You set a great example.

    • Thanks, EC!

      By the way, how much credit do you think we should give to the report that Legal Insurrection posted about, regarding the steep decline in academia of papers that are disruptive to the scientific fields, challenging old ideas and paving the road for new ideas? To me it seems one of those studies that confirms what I believe, but maybe sounds a bit like junk science.

      The main drive of the study is classifying papers on how much they disrupt the field by monitoring how many subsequent papers cite a new paper A, versus how many papers only site the same references as paper A. (In other words, if few people are citing your work, you’re not disruptive.) So there’s a phenomenon, but I’m still not sure if it is real, or if it is, if that is the proper measurement. While I applaud the effort, I can’t help but wonder if the problem is less about disruptive papers, and more that the entire pool has been watered down by every professor and his dog publishing a paper that effectively says nothing new.

      • I’m inclined to agree that if the goal is to measure the number of papers that challenge the conclusions of existing papers, counting the number of citations is not an ideal metric. However, I don’t know of a better simple one offhand. New papers could get citations by building on existing conclusions instead of refuting them, and decreasing citations for old papers could just be a temporary loss of interest in a particular topic.

        Prediction markets might help track the confidence that a given scientific community has for a given hypothesis.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.