At the recent Congressional hearing, see link, and this link, Dr. Judith Curry emphasized the fact that "the climate community has prematurely elevated a scientific hypothesis on human-caused climate change to a ruling theory through claims of a consensus." Also, that claimed consensus results in stifling dissent from those not in the consensus and harm as uncertainties are not given proper consideration.
A few observations on this. First, Dr. Curry's blog ClimateEtc has quite a number of articles that explore the topic. Next, a few points of my own on why many engineers (such as myself) understand that global warming is merely false-alarmism.
This post uses the time-honored principle for ascertaining the truth, in four steps: first, posing an issue, second, stating the rule or rules that govern that issue, third, applying the rules to the facts of the issue, and fourth, drawing a logical conclusion based on the facts and application of the rule.
Dr. Curry's conclusion is set out above: "the climate community has prematurely elevated a scientific hypothesis on human-caused climate change to a ruling theory through claims of a consensus."
First: The Issue
The issue, then, is Do human activities that release carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere cause climate change? This is the scientific hypothesis, which must be verified or disproven by the collection, then analysis, of appropriate data.
Second: The Governing Rule
The basic and essential rule in science is to pose a falsifiable hypothesis, then verify that hypothesis by obtaining and comparing appropriate, valid data to what the hypothesis predicts must be true. If the data agrees with the predictions from the hypothesis, one continues with the hypothesis while even more data is collected. Over enough time, and with enough data that confirms the hypothesis, the hypothesis may be upgraded to a proven theory. A proven theory has no valid data that contradicts the hypothesis.
An example of a proven theory is gravity, which holds that just above the Earth's surface, an object is accelerated (falls) toward the Earth at a rate of 32.2 feet per second-squared. However, it is known that some objects fall faster than do others, for example, a feather falls slower than a small stone. Such differences were studied and correctly attributed to the effect of air resistance, with a feather's fall slowed noticeably by air resistance. The theory was then modified to state that "in a vacuum, objects at or near the Earth's surface are accelerated toward the Earth at a rate of 32.2 feet per second-squared." There is no evidence to the contrary for that statement of gravity.
However, where the data disproves the hypothesis, or the data is mixed so that some data agrees while other data disagrees, the hypothesis cannot be upgraded to a proven theory. Instead, the hypothesis must be discarded, or revised if possible to encompass the data. As above with gravity, the presence of air was determined to require a slight modification of the basic statement. In some areas, no revision or modification is possible to explain the data, or to have agreement with the data, so the hypothesis must be discarded.
Third: Applying the Rule to the Issue
In applying the rules to the facts of the issue, we examine the issue very carefully. "Do human activities that release carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere cause climate change?" Stated as a scientific hypothesis gives: "Human activities that release CO2 into the atmosphere causes climate change." In its simplest form, this equates to "X causes Y."
Parsing this into "Human activities that release CO2 into the atmosphere," it can be seen that non-human activities must also exist that release CO2. These are the natural emissions of CO2, among which are ocean warming as waters flow from the polar regions to the tropics, decay of vegetation, forest fires from natural causes (lightning strikes), animal respiration (breathing out CO2), and volcanic eruptions where magma hits limestone such that CO2 is released. This is very important, because this requires that actual causation, if any exists at all, must be correctly attributed to the CO2 source.
There are equally a number of human activities that release CO2 into the atmosphere. Among these are the burning of fossil fuels in power plants, industrial furnaces, and combustion engines. It is well-known how much of each fuel is burned each year, including methane as a component of natural gas, petroleum products, and coal. Other human activities also release CO2, including fermentation of sugars to produce alcohols, calcining of limestone to produce cement, carbon anode conversion to CO2 in aluminum production, smelting of various metal ores, and others. Extracting raw natural gas from the ground and processing the raw gas into pipeline-quality natural gas also produces CO2 that is released into the atmosphere.
An additional complication arises because some compounds that are sent into the atmosphere decay at a later time into CO2. Methane is one such compound. Therefore, natural and man-made methane releases must be considered.
The remainder of the statement parsed above is simply ". . . causes climate change."
The preliminary step in evaluating the hypothesis is to determine if there is any climate change, or not. Much effort has been devoted to measuring aspects of the climate over time, especially average near-surface air temperatures. Considerable doubt exists as to the accuracy of such temperature measurements, especially as measurements were made with little care. Modern scientists have adjusted temperature records, not just once, but time after time. That alone calls the accuracy into question. Climate scientists, at least a few of them, have concluded that climate change has already occurred. As Dr. Curry stated, climate scientists claim to have a consensus on this matter. It is certainly not a 100 percent consensus, however the claim of 97 percent consensus is widely stated. Even that number is unproven, and inaccurate depending on the statistics one employs.
The next step is to determine if there is any demonstrable link between atmospheric CO2 and climate change. Scientists have constructed time-series graphs of both CO2 in the atmosphere and global average air temperature anomaly, which show some apparent correlation. The anomaly is the slight difference between a baseline temperature and measured temperature.
Using that correlation between air temperature anomaly and CO2 in the atmosphere, scientists concluded that human-produced CO2 is responsible for the warming. The scientists dismissed the natural emissions of CO2 and methane that decays into CO2, instead blaming the rise in temperature on man-made CO2. Note that this violates one of the essential basics of good science: correct attribution of causation when multiple causal factors exist. This is discussed in more detail below.
Scientists then developed very complex computer models to predict various outcomes if CO2 from human activities continues to increase. These predictions are listed on various publications and websites, with many of them listed below. The success or failure of the various predictions can be ascertained by measurements, and the validity of the basic hypothesis determined. It is well to recall that any contrary data must result in rejection of the hypothesis, or sufficient modification as was done with the gravity hypothesis to account for air resistance.
1 Atmosphere hot spot in tropics
2 Less snow
3 Arctic ice disappearing
4 More hurricanes, more powerful hurricanes (and tropical cyclones)
5 More tornadoes, more powerful tornadoes
6 More drought, worse droughts
7 More floods, worse floods
8 Warmer average temperatures, especially winter nights
9 Agriculture harvests worse as hot summers and droughts occur
10 Sea level rises, islands underwater, cities at seashore flooded
11 Glaciers receding and disappearing
12 Tropical diseases found farther from equator
13 Ocean surface hotter
14 Antarctic Ice breaking up, floating away UPDATE 4-15-2017: Several more predictions exist; some are added below. --
15. Ocean "acidification" - a misleading scare tactic, oceans are alkaline
16 Prolonged heat waves, more heat waves
17 Polar bears' numbers falling, extinction looming
18 Many other species extinction looming or will occur
19 Coral reefs bleaching and dying off
---- end update ----
Each of these initial 14 predictions is discussed next.
1. Atmosphere hot spot in tropics -- This is a measurable phenomenon that should happen if the climate change due to CO2 is correct. The short version is that no hot spot has been detected despite many years of hard effort by many scientists. Dr. John Christy has an excellent discussion on this in his Congressional testimony.
2. Less snow -- This is also a measurable phenomenon predicted by the climate models. As Dr. Christy has shown, there is no reduction in snow. In many places there is more snow.
3 Arctic ice disappearing -- the measurements of Arctic ice are limited, going back to 1979 when satellites began observations. Before that, very little data exists. The climate scientists love to point to this as proof of man-made climate change, as there is some data that shows less Arctic ice now than in 1980. However, there are multiple problems with their causal determination. First, for many years there was almost no change in ice extent; then for a few years a rapid decline occurred; but in recent years the decline stopped and has been stable or ice has slightly increased. There is strong evidence to suggest that pattern is consistent with dark particles of coal soot and jet airplane exhaust deposits on the ice that accelerates melting. There is also evidence that underwater volcanic activity heats the ocean currents that enter the Arctic region. A line of volcanoes and vents along the mid-Atlantic ridge heats the water.
There is also substantial evidence from boulders carried by icebergs that fell to the ocean floor as the icebergs melted that Arctic ice has retreated and advanced many times in the past. The boulders have been identified in the Atlantic offshore of North America. Such ice retreats before 1960 could not have been caused by the increase in human-related CO2 that started in approximately 1960.
4 More hurricanes, more powerful hurricanes (and tropical cyclones) -- the data shows the opposite, there are fewer hurricanes and tropical cyclones. Worldwide ACE (accumulated cyclone energy) has been collected for many years. ACE is at or below 1970 levels.
5 More tornadoes, more powerful tornadoes -- the data for tornadoes also shows fewer, not more, and fewer of the largest F-5 rated ones.
6 More drought, worse droughts -- the data shows no more and no worsening of droughts when compared to the modern record of the past 150 years (more or less); and recent droughts are no match at all for those recorded in geological evidence.
7 More floods, worse floods -- as with drought, the data shows no more and no worsening of floods when compared to the modern record of the past 150 years (more or less); and recent floods are no match at all for those recorded in geological evidence.
8 Warmer average temperatures, especially winter nights -- the data shows that some places do have warmer winter nights, however these are in more densely populated areas where warming from increased building proximity is known to create local warming. There are at least ten known factors that cause local temperatures to increase, but none of those ten are increased atmospheric CO2. (1. Increased population density in cities (more buildings in a small area); 2. Increased energy use per capita (each building uses more energy, and people use more); 3. Increased local humidity due to activities such as lawn watering, industry cooling towers; 4. Prolonged drought (the opposite, regular rain, reduces temperatures in arid regions); 5. Reduced artificial aerosols via pollution laws being enforced; 6. Change in character of the measurement site, from rural to more urban with pavement and other artificial heating; 7. Wind shadows from dense buildings prevent cooling winds from reaching thermometer; 8. El Niño short-term heating effect in many areas (e.g. the US South and Southeast); 9. Reduced sunspot activity and number that allows more cloud-forming cosmic rays to reach Earth; and 10. Fewer large volcanoes erupting with natural aerosols flung high into the atmosphere)
The consensus scientists point to the average temperature increasing, which is after their multiple adjustments. However, and this is critical, there are many hundreds of locations that show zero warming or a cooling trend over a century or more. James Goodridge published the data for California in the 20th century that shows exactly that: areas with low population had zero warming or had a cooling, but densely populated areas showed a warming. The average of all locations showed a modest warming. Small towns across the US also show no warming.
9 Agriculture harvests worse as hot summers and droughts occur -- harvests are the same or better than in the past. Some harvests are worse due to local cold conditions.
10 Sea level rises, islands underwater, cities at seashore flooded -- the data shows some evidence of shoreline cities flooding, but the causal factor is accelerated land subsidence due to human activities such as pumping groundwater. The rate of sea level rise itself has not increased for decades.
11 Glaciers receding and disappearing -- the data shows glacial retreat began approximately 150 years ago, long before increases in CO2 occurred. There is nothing to suggest that human-produced CO2 is a factor in glacier retreat.
12 Tropical diseases found farther from equator -- there is no evidence to support that claim. Some diseases are brought to foreign shores by people, however.
13 Ocean surface hotter -- some areas of the ocean appear to be warmer, however, that is consistent with fewer hurricanes and tropical cyclones. It is known that hurricanes and tropical cyclones act as cooling mechanisms for the ocean surface. Satellites can detect the path of hurricanes just by observing the ocean surface temperatures.
14 Antarctic Ice breaking up, floating away -- there is some evidence of large chunks of Antarctic ice breaking off the ice shelves and entering the ocean currents. However, the area where the ice chunks originate is known to be above an active volcanic zone on the Antarctic peninsula. Other areas of Antarctic ice are growing and overall ice extent is at record high levels since satellite records began in 1979.
Fourth: Logical Conclusion
As above, any contrary data refutes the hypothesis. With the fourteen items discussed above, almost all represent contrary data and therefore refute the hypothesis. The few that did occur are due to non-CO2 factors. Where multiple possible causal factors exist, good scientific method requires every competing causal factor to be eliminated, leaving the one standing. In this case, the evidence is overwhelming that human-created CO2 is NOT causing climate change.
UPDATE 5-15-2017: It is certain that it is premature to elevate a disproven hypothesis on man-made global warming to a ruling theory. -- end update.
Roger E. Sowell, Esq.
copyright (c) 2017 by Roger Sowell - all rights reserved
Nuclear Power Plants.......here
Climate Change................here and here
Engineering......................here and here
Free Speech.................... here