Andrew Dessler, Daniel Cohan
Oct. 22, 2018 Updated: Oct. 22, 2018 3:05 p.m.
At this point, just about everyone recognizes that the climate is changing. Even Donald Trump says, “I think something’s happening.” Now, the question being debated is why the climate is changing.
Though there may be a public debate, there’s no debate among scientists like us — decades of research have demonstrated that human activities, primarily the emission of carbon dioxide from the combustion of fossil fuels, are driving the climate change we are experiencing.
To understand why we are so confident, it’s useful to think about climate change as a whodunit. Climate does not change by itself, so scientists are detectives trying to solve the mystery of what has been warming the Earth for the past century.
There is an entire list of suspects that scientists have looked at, and they have not identified a single viable one. With one exception — greenhouse gases.
The timing of warming, beginning just after the industrial revolution, and the magnitude of the warming, match our theories almost exactly.The figure below shows that the rapid warming of last few decades was accurately predicted in 1975. Such predictions are the gold standard of science — if you can make a non-obvious prediction about some physical system, then it means that you understand something fundamental about it. This prediction shows that we really understand the warming of the climate system.
This is excellent. Andrew Dressler gets it sort of. It is about prediction.
He starts off weak. He says everyone realizes climate is changing. This is similar to saying it’s obvious that virgo born kids are obviously more analytical.
Most people’s lifespan is 25-50 years of experience. Over my lifetime I’ve seen catastrophic events that killed 250,000 people in a single event. So, a storm in Texas that kills 50 is not extraordinary. We had a storm in Boston that took the state down for a week. If you go farther back in the 20th century droughts would kill millions. Do we hear of these things now? Why?
How can one say it is evident based on my personal experience of a few decades that climate is changing. A scientist saying this is scary.
During the period from 1910-1940 temperatures rose so much we had dust bowls and heat waves that had temperatures over 100 for weeks at a time. Then between 1940-1970 temperatures fell so much that time magazine and other publications thought we were heading into an ice age.
Using one’s personal experience and saying this storm is the worst. Climate must be changing is the kind of stupidity we expect from laymen who have no clue how science is really done. So right off the bat we seem to be talking about a scientist who is deeply misguided how to evaluate climate change.
Let’s look at what prediction means
In 1915 Albert Einstein predicted based on his theory of general relativity that the orbit of Mercury would precess by 13 degrees. When scientists measured it they measured precisely 13 degrees. This was an incredible victory for his theory. However, by itself this was not enough.
General Relativity also predicted when we looked at stars that had their light passing through an area with a massive object it would bend the light waves. When we looked the light bent precisely the amount predicted by Einstein’s theory. This was an even better prediction and result. It was precise and it was extremely unusual. We had no reason to think the light rays would bend otherwise.
Even after this scientists don’t necessarily believe General Relativity because it contradicts Quantum Mechanics. Recently another prediction of General Relativity came true it seems. We discovered something called gravity waves. He predicted this 100 years ago as well. Now we have some scientists questioning if the gravity waves were really discovered.
Are these scientists who are questioning gravity waves being pilloried? Are they being drummed out of physics? Is their career being destroyed?
OF COURSE NOT.
This is how science works. We don’t attack people who are skeptical. That is not science and people who do that are not scientists but political hacks who should be ejected from science, not because of their science but because they don’t understand science and everything they say or do should be suspect. Anyone who thinks science is ever settled is an idiot.
If Einstein had said I don’t know the number but it should be precessing that would be worthless. Why? Because the orbit of Mercury would probably be precessing by some amount for any number of reasons. If he had said 6 degrees and it came in 13 degrees people would have gone hmm that’s a failure. They would have spent considerable time to explain the precession of Mercury and identifying the reasons to see if they could see why it was only 6 degrees. In the meantime the theory of General Relativity would have been put into the zone of “speculative, interesting ideas, not validated.”
The prediction that Andrew above refers to is completely bogus. Climate Scientists in 1975-1980 predicted that temperatures would rise by 8C in 100 years. What we saw was 0.3C in 20 years. Other predictions said that temperatures would rise by 0.8C not 0.8F by 2018.
Not only that but in 1975 they had no explanation why temperatures rose 0.8F from 1910-1940 even though we increased co2 by 2% during that period. They said that even though they couldn’t explain why temperatures fell from 1945-1975 even though Co2 was rising massively between 1945-1975.
So, temperatures after 30 years of falling started going up. What the drop in temperatures shows is that the temperature of the planet varies for reasons other than Co2. For instance the temperature just a few decades earlier had surged as much as 1970-1998 and Co2 was not the cause.
This means the event was not special. Temperatures apparently move in decadal movements of tenths of a degree frequently. In fact, temperature is almost never stable.
Now we have the big problem. They predicted 0.8C to 2019, not 0.8F. The difference is 50% off. Prediction means prediction, not “sort of right.” 50% off after 75 years is a significant deviation from what they said. You can’t claim because you got the sign right that your theory is right.
Science depends on the ability to predict and predict means predict with a certain range. If they are saying our predictions and models are good to within 50% then it is a problem because that means lots of things are causing the temperature to vary. In science when you have such a thing you have to isolate the things that are affecting temperature and tell us why temperatures were low. If they missed by 50% it might mean the theory is good if they can explain why they missed. Maybe some extraordinary event like a volcano depressed temperatures. Except there was no volcano like that.
The problem is that the most likely reason they missed is because of the ocean. There are a number of things that affect the temperature in major ways. Ocean for instance has an incredible affect on the temperature because of the enormous heat capacity of the ocean (1000 times the atmosphere). The sun is a major influence on temperature and in ways we don’t understand. We don’t understand clouds and the interaction of the mantle and undersea vents and the ocean. All of these things could explain their miss or their theory could simply be wrong but the 50% error certainly is not a proof of their theory. Quite the opposite. It says something is seriously wrong.
Andrew Dessler above is wrong on many levels. He says that the warming since the industrial revolution has been significant and consistent with models. This is bogus reasoning.
We put out only 6% of all Co2 put out since 1945 for the 200 years before 1945. The temperature change during that period is more than the amount since 1945 yet the co2 change is only 6%. In fact, the temperature change prior to 1945 contradicts climate theory. They should ignore it or attribute it to something else because based on their models temperature in that time should not have risen hardly at all, but half the temperature change occurred during this period of near zero Co2 output.
It is widely recognized and documented that the temperature of the Earth reached something called the Little Ice Age somewhere around 1600-1700. Temperatures were significantly lower during this period and forced the Vikings to retreat from Greenland. We know that during this period London held ice fairs on the Themes with people doing barbecues on the frozen Themes. There are drawings of this. It is no joke.
So, a lot of temperature rise happened as we recovered from this Little Ice Age. It is not because of Co2 but because of whatever caused the Little Ice Age. So, it is likely they are stealing the temperature change from 1770 which was simply the recovery to more normal temperatures. That is deceit.
Climate scientists get around this by arguing these things never happened. Even though there is forensic evidence and hundreds of studies which show the validity of the LIA they say it never happened. They have made a huge effort to change the temperature record of the past removing things like the LIA, MWP, the warming of the 1940s and such. They have gone to such lengths that several scientific papers have come out saying the temperature record modified by climate scientists is obviously severely flawed.
For example they lower the temperature of cities around the world by as much as 6F 100 years ago. We had mercury thermometers back then just as today. There is no way these thermometers were off by 6F. Other things include the reduction of temperatures in the 1940s so that a period that saw most high records set and remain on the books is now considered a cold period.
They reduce temperatures in the past to accentuate the high temperatures of today. When you lower all the past temperatures of course today’s temperatures look high.
That kind of data futzing is highly suspect. When scientists have to play and play with the data to get it to conform to the theory then you should be suspicious. 30 of 32 adjustments to the temperature record have gone to increase the temperature difference from what was measured in the past. Such a series of adjustments would be considered evidence for fraud and probably get the theory rejected immediately. It is a one in a billion chance that 30 adjustments out of 32 would all accentuate the effect they are looking for. It is likely they only looked for things that would help them and recent studies validate that they have messed up the data in the temperature record now so badly it is impossible to use it.
Each adjustment was minor but now the cumulative effect of all these small adjustments means that adjustments are 50% of the temperature record change or equal to all the temperature change from Co2 postulated in their theory. In other words all the Co2 change they say is happening is actually fudged into the data.
The real science of this was more certain actually in 1998. At that time they could simply look at the period 1970-1998 and not any other period at the time they made a mathematically accurate statement. It shows how math isn’t a proof in the real world.
In 1998 their computer models did predict the temperature in that period quite accurately. Since they could account for the variation during that period with Co2 and nothing else changed in their models they showed that mathematically speaking there was a 95% certain that they had accounted for natural variability so well that they could say this was caused by Co2.
Unfortunately, that didn’t stay true. As time passed between 1998 and 2018 the temperature record has not maintained the pace of that period. In fact, it is less than half that between 1975-2018 and if you take between 1945-2018 which is the period where humans have put 94-95% of all the co2 we have put in it is going at 1/4 the rate they predict for this time period.
What you hear on the news is that temperatures keep going up. This is based on very small incremental changes in a temperature record that is highly doctored. The temperature we are talking about for the last 10 years has varied less than 0.2F.
The big picture
Andrew also misses the big picture. Climate Scientists are claiming temperatures are going to go up 6F or 8F by 2100. We have had 0.8F since 1945. That means they are expecting 7.2F change between now and 2100. Yet we have had only 1/10th that in the 75 years since 1945. In other words to meet their prediction of 2100 temperatures need to accelerate by a factor of 10 and soon. We need the temperature rise of the last 75 years every 8 years from now until 2100 without pausing.
Science doesn’t operate this way. The atmosphere has reacted to 30% more co2 in the atmosphere by rising 0.8F. Unless they can explain why this response is way below what they expect in the next 75 years or so there is no scientifically valid reason to say that temperatures will start rising dramatically. If there is something in their models that projects that kind of increase it is UNPROVEN. Do you understand? We have not seen it. Therefore, it might be in their models but we haven’t seen it. It is speculation and not science.
Multi-World theory of quantum mechanics says at every point in time the universe bifurcates into nearly an infinite number of parallel universes. We have circumstantial evidence for this but any physicist will tell you this is not proven and the people who “believe” in it don’t understand it and it is missing a huge amount to call it science.
Climate Science cannot project 10 times a greater rate of temperature rise, sea level rise or other things unless we see some evidence that such theories are mere speculation of theories which so far have failed to make predictions worthy of anything.
Validation vs Invalidation
Most hard science operates on the idea that a single experiment which doesn’t validate the theory means the theory is dead. This is a high bar but consider the alternative. Would we be able to build buildings if physics worked some times but not other times and we had no explanation for why it failed?
Climate Scientists claim global warming can’t be invalidated. They claim it is validated where it succeeds. Where it fails that is just a problem to be solved in the future. The theory must be right and every piece of evidence they come up that is consistent with their theory is validation.
Imagine an astrologer who says every virgo I see that is an analytical person proves my theory. The fact that many many virgos aren’t like that doesn’t disprove my theory. That’s why astrology is NOT a science. Prediction is good but it must be reliable prediction meaning that if you miss you must explain why you miss. You can’t simply throw it off as unexplained but my theory is solid. That’s not how science works. It can’t work that way.
So climate science cannot be invalidated. That is a religion not a science.
You should be aware that the climate models do predict higher temperatures but they also predict all kinds of things about weather and none of those predictions are right. NONE. They admit this. How can a theory that depends on wind, humidity, cloudiness and numerous other factors that it gets completely wrong but manages to eek out the temperature somewhat correctly work? It can’t. Any correspondence to temperature is purely luck. If all the contributing factors are wrong no theory could possibly be said to be valid let alone settled.