Sunday, July 15, 2007

Environ-mentally Disturbed - The hype and hysteria emanating from the ranks of global warming missionaries are beginning to reach a fevered pitch, even as the "science" behind anthropogenic climate change begins to unravel. Beyond the "Live Earth" debacle, climate change proselytizers are stepping up their efforts to put the issue front and center on the agendas of politicians, educators, businesspeople and of course the general public. But despite all of their efforts, most Americans have a low level of concern vis-a-vis global warming. So to, it is a fact that over 50 percent of the British public believes that global warming fears are overstated.

As discussed elsewhere, we are not surprised that the global warming message hardly resonates with the average person, either here or overseas. When considered against global economic concerns, terrorism, the specter of HIV/AIDS and unstable dictatorships (as well as the old standby bete noires of war and famine), climate change hardly merits a yawn. The same apathy seen among the general population is mirrored in the results of the first and second Copenhagen Consensus meetings, where economists and diplomats respectively, gathered to determine how best to expend the world's finite resources to do the most good first. In both meetings, the assembled ranked "initiatives on communicable diseases, sanitation and water, malnutrition, and education" far ahead of dealing with global warming.

It is just as well, given that the last chapter on man's role in rising atmospheric temperatures may not be as settled as Al Gore and others might aver. Given what we know from emerging climate science,
increases in solar activity may well prove to be more important than factors such as concentrations of either CO2, water vapor or methane in regards to global warming, although the data seems to conflict more that coalesce. (To be sure, much has been written in regards to the idea that solar irradiance may not be in and of itself a direct factor in the rise in atmospheric temperatures seen in the last 50 years.)

In any event, whatever revelations science may reveal in the future, scientists are presently calling into question some of the models by which warming predictions are derived. In a recent issue of Science, Richard Kerr described the nature of the critiques, all of which derive from an online
article entitled "Quantifying climate change - too rosy a picture?"

Twentieth-century simulations would seem like a straightforward test of climate models. In the run-up to the [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] climate science report released last February,... 14 groups ran their models under 20th-century conditions of rising greenhouse gases. As a group, the models did rather well. [See figure above.] A narrow range of simulated warmings (purple band) falls right on the actual warming (black line) and distinctly above simulations run under conditions free of human influence (blue band).

But the group of three atmospheric scientists - [University of Seattle scientist Robert] Charlson; Stephen Schwartz of the Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, New York; and Henning Rodhe of Stockholm University, Sweden--says the close match between models and the actual warming is deceptive. The match "conveys a lot more confidence [in the models] than can be supported in actuality," says Schwartz.
And when one looks at Schwartz, et al., it appears to be the opinion of the authors that, "a variety of forcings and different representations of these forcings were used in simulations with the different models. As the use of such an ensemble of opportunity led to a narrowing of uncertainty rather than to the expected increase, it would seem that the forcings used in the models did not span the full range of the uncertainty" (not that we should accuse the IPCC of fudging the numbers.) The article goes on to point out why this disparity should matter to the scientific community.
Does resolving this inconsistency matter? Yes, even if only to give a more accurate picture of the range of sensitivities of current models. As it stands, the narrow range of modeled temperatures gives a false sense of the certainty that has been achieved. A much more realistic assessment of present understanding would be gained by testing the models over the full range of forcings. (Emphasis added.)
So we are left to conclude what has been evident all along: namely, that the theory of man-made global warming is only as sound as the models that are used and the data and assumptions that undergird them. As discussed elsewhere, the sheer number of models (14 and counting)
"suggests that there are differences in the perception of even the potential impact" of CO2 on the climate. Not that any of this matters much, as the acolytes in the church of global warming have foreclosed any possibility of variance from their infallible authority. Their job is to persuade by appeals to emotion as opposed to reason. Indeed, they have declared as much that scientific uncertainty is their ally, and the objective scientific method their foe.

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