Monday, March 24, 2014

Interesting Questions

If you're skeptical that the earth really is getting warmer, or if you're skeptical that whatever is happening with the climate is caused by human activity, you can expect to be called a flat-earther, a science-denier, an idiot, and you may even be told that you should be thrown in prison. You will hear that the overwhelming consensus among scientists is that we are headed for a climatological Armageddon and that it may already be too late to do anything about it.

Well, that scientific consensus, such as it is, appears to be fraying in light of the fact that the earth's temperature hasn't risen in 15 years. Now the Investor's Business Daily brings word that the American Physical Society (with a membership of 50,000 physicists) has established a commission to reassess their position on the matter. Here are some excerpts from the IBD's article:
At the risk of being accused of embracing what alarmists call the flat-earth view of climate change, the American Physical Society has appointed a balanced, six-person committee to review its stance on so-called climate change that includes three distinguished skeptics: Judith Curry, John Christy and Richard Lindzen. Their credentials are impressive....

A question the American Physical Society panel will address is one we ask repeatedly: Why wasn't the current global temperature stasis, with no discernible change in the past 15 years, not predicted by any of the climate models used by the IPCC, part of the United Nations?

The APS announcement lists among its questions to be answered: "How long must the stasis persist before there would be a firm declaration of a problem with the models?" In a nod to the likelihood that nature, not man, calls the shots, another APS audit question asks the panel: "What do you see as the likelihood of solar influences beyond TSI (total solar irradiance)? Is it coincidence that the stasis has occurred during the weakest solar cycle (i.e., sunspot activity) in about a century?"

The other three American Physical Society members, reports Quadrant Online, maintain that climate change is real, disaster is imminent and man is at fault. They are long-time IPCC stalwart Ben Santer (who in 1996 drafted, in suspicious circumstances, the original IPCC mantra about a "discernible" influence of man-made CO2 on climate), IPCC lead author and modeler William Collins, and atmospheric physicist Isaac Held.

The APS, to its credit, is addressing the chasm between computer models that cannot even predict the past and actual observations suggesting that warming is on hold and largely influenced by natural factors.
The committee is tasked with answering some very good questions, and the results of the APS study should be interesting. The fact that a committee has been commissioned at all is indicative of the growing concern that confidence in the predictions of the alarmists is waning. For example:
One such prediction noted that summer in the North Pole could be "ice-free by 2013." That was what former Vice President Al Gore insisted in his 2007 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, a call that was off by about 920,000 square miles of ice.

In an article on the website Hockey Schtick, APS panelist Christy says he analyzed the "tropical atmospheric temperature change in 102 of the latest climate-model simulations covering the past 35 years" and found that "102 model runs overshot the actual temperature change on average by a factor of three."
In science, when predictions based on a theory fail to materialize the theory is discredited and, at some point, rejected. When the failure of predictions to come true fails to dissuade adherents to a theory those adherents are no longer engaged in science, they're engaged in metaphysics.

Perhaps the committee will come up with plausible explanations as to why the predictions of the alarmists have proven to be as reliable as predictions about the date of the end of the world, but if they don't the APS study just may signal the end of an era of hysteria over climate change reminiscent of the witchcraft hysteria in 17th century Salem, Massachusetts.