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As Long as We Remember...

September 25, 2007

Both Sides Now

Farrell Keough

Global Warming, Global Cooling, Climate Change, et al are the headlines of the crisis de jour. Most people do not involve themselves in this debate as it seems too complicated and all the scientists agree, so it must be true.

Plus, in the grand scheme of things, how much effect will it have on each of us? Not so fast, Sherlock. We've already seen the effects; but that is getting ahead of myself.

The United Nations formed a group, called the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), of like-minded people specifically to validate the concept of human caused (anthropogenic) Global Warming. This group is composed of both scientists and non-scientists, as noted in articles by Dr. Julian Morris, of UK-based International Policy Network, and Professor Richard Lindzen of M.I.T., one of the 11 scientists who prepared one of the IPCC reports.

That is important, as much of the review and document assimilation is accomplished by those with similar views and those with a political agenda. This bias seeps into the media presentation of this material as well. This pairing of groups has all the markings of mischief, and mischief they will create.

For instance, the doom and gloom scenarios of the Global Warming catastrophe are based upon computer models. Computer models are indispensable in our modern age. They provide guidance in areas from medicine to space travel. But, with these models comes tremendous uncertainty; it is this uncertainty that must be quantified and qualified.

For instance, if a rocket model is tested, the results may, and very often do, result in an explosion rather than a lift off. This is a serious uncertainty.

All complex computer models contain certain elements: background levels or conditions, rates of change, and assumptions for calculations. These three elements are critically important when reviewing a model for soundness.

Another example: if a background level for a stream model is high in ammonia, then any additional levels will have an adverse affect on stream quality. If this embedded assumption is used for pristine waterways, then an errant model is in use. (This situation actually occurred for many years in a model used by the State of North Carolina).

Rates of change and assumptions for calculations can also carry these errors, some of which can be quite difficult to determine. As complexity of the model increases, even small errors can become exponentially large.

Many of the models used to justify Global Warming are dependent upon other models for their input. Hence, an early assumption error in one of the dependent models can cause quite a serious problem down the line.

For instance, a model developed by Steven McIntyre and Ross McKittrick, (known as M&M) is the now famous Hockey Stick model. Used for some time to justify the alarmist positions of Global Warming and the accompanying catastrophes, this model was found to be errant.

The model, very basically, shows a general trend of warming over time with a sharp rise over the last century, (the 1950's are the preferred time frame as that covers the Industrial Revolution), hence the name Hockey Stick. It was found that when a random set of numbers were plugged into the model, the same results would appear. In other words, the model would predict the sharp rise in temperature whether real or random data was inserted.

Another problem with data generation involved Dr. James Hansen, considered the father of Global Warming. His model surmised that the warmest years in our lifetimes occurred within the last decade.

A non-scientist, Steve McIntyre felt this scenario was misleading. As Dr. Hansen would not release his calculations to normalize this data, Mr. McIntyre had to reverse engineer this model.

He found and published the errors in Hansen's model and after tremendous attacks and vilification of Mr. McIntyre, Dr. Hansen finally admitted to the flaw. This was no small feat.

Those who believe in Global Warming will go on a vicious attack of people's character and credibility. Verifying an error with the model of the founder of Global Warming was a serious blow to the groups interested in ensuring world-wide acceptance of this catastrophe.

Another renowned scientist, William Gray, was harshly vilified when he wrote articles about the use of models over actual data in presenting this Global Warming alarmist call.

Mr. Gray, considered one of the world leaders in hurricane prediction, continues to be demonized by many of the believers in the Global Warming mantra. Recent publications by Roy Spencer on cloud models in conjunction with Global Warming are starting to gain attention. Mr. Spencer's publication points out that increased cloud cover should be accompanying this increase in temperature, but that is not occurring.

As these environmental conditions are closely coupled, the absence of one indicates a potentially serious flaw in the current reasoning of the other. In short, without greater cloud cover, an increase in Global Warming pollutants cannot be explained. Mr. Spencer is sure to suffer the same scorched earth policy that many of his predecessors, (commonly called deniers) suffered.

Finally, science is not the practice of consensus. Our past is filled with incorrect consensus like slavery, voting rights, etc. Science is interested in hypothesis and verification. Can something be proven false, or can it withstand scrutiny.

Consensus is a political action, which leads us to how Global Warming can and does affect us locally. On April 9, 2007, the Board of County Commissioners signed a resolution endorsing the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement. While not binding, this resolution has the potential to effect purchases and policies within the county.

Rationales behind the resolution include the Kyoto Treaty, a document our U.S. Senate failed to ratify during the Clinton Administration; some will remember that that administration included Al Gore. Of course, it may well be noted that since that time we have learned more and developed further evidence of the existence of Global Warming. As documented above, many studies also exist which negate those findings.

Another point to the resolution is the notation that "nine of the 10 hottest years on record occurring in the past decade." If you will remember from above, this statement is based upon Hansen's model which has admitted errors.

Why is all this important? Because if we spend our hard earned taxes on very disputable catastrophes, where will the money for schools, roads, medical care, etc., come from?

Those interested in perpetuating the Global Warming mantra have a vested interest in keeping it alive. Those paying taxes have a vested interest in making sure they are well spent and justly taken.

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