Tuesday, August 12, 2008

About The Disingenuous "Global Warming Challenge" by JunkScience.com

I read somewhere that JunkScience.com had issued a "global warming challenge" some time back that is promoted as follows.

$500,000 will be awarded to the first person to prove, in a scientific manner, that humans are causing harmful global warming.

That's also what people will say whenever they tout the "challenge." If you are certain anthropogenic global warming is real, you should be able to prove it. Who wouldn't want to make $500,000?

But as you can imagine, there's a catch. You need to falsify two hypotheses.

UGWC Hypothesis 1

Manmade emissions of greenhouse gases do not discernibly, significantly and predictably cause increases in global surface and tropospheric temperatures along with associated stratospheric cooling.

UGWC Hypothesis 2

The benefits equal or exceed the costs of any increases in global temperature caused by manmade greenhouse gas emissions between the present time and the year 2100, when all global social, economic and environmental effects are considered.

Now, hypothesis #1 should be falsifiable now. The only issue I have with it is that they have made it unnecessarily difficult (to cover their asses no doubt) by including stratospheric cooling as a requirement. Don't get me wrong. I'm sure stratospheric cooling is an important matter to climate scientists, but why does it matter to the challenge? Isn't surface temperature warming due to anthropogenic causes interesting enough?

Technically, the issue is that there's not a lot of data on stratospheric temperatures, as far as I know. Considering lags and so forth, it's probably difficult to demonstrate an association in a decisive way. I haven't run the numbers, but this is my preliminary guess.

Hypothesis #2 is not falsifiable right now. We'd have to wait until about 2100 to either validate it or falsify it. Peak oil is probably looming or behind us, so we can't say what might happen by 2100. There are policy decisions to consider. There might be technological advances that change the general outlook. If we make certain assumptions, then sure, it's theoretically possible to give confidence ranges on certain predictions, such as sea level rises or changes in storm intensity.

Clearly, the "challenge" is designed such that it's impossible or nearly impossible to win. Despite its name, JunkScience.com is not a site about junk science. If you visit it you will see it's nothing but a propaganda outlet for global warming denialism books and videos. A site that is truly about junk science would probably discuss things like the paranormal, Homeopathy, the vaccine-autism hypothesis, etc. JunkScience.com does not.

In fact, what is the evidence that JunkScience.com has $500,000 to give out? Have they been collecting pledges? If they have collected funds, and there's no winner to their challenge, which I can almost certainly assure you there won't be, will they keep the money?

Call me cynical, but I doubt JunkScience.com is either capable or willing to give out $500,000 to anybody, regardless of the entries they receive.


Here's a counter-challenge for JunkScience.com. Reduce the stakes if you need to. Then change the requirements of the challenge to include a single hypothesis to falsify, as follows.

Manmade emissions of greenhouse gases do not discernibly, significantly and predictably cause increases in global temperatures.

What's there to fear, JunkScience.com?


Anonymous said...

Hypothesis one has failed miserably. Observe:


Joseph said...

Anon: I think what you want to say is that Hypothesis 1 has succeeded greatly. (The challenge pays if the hypotheses fail).

In any case, recently observed temperature trends do not in any way invalidate anthropogenic global warming. I talk about that here.

Dan Pangburn said...

According to NOAA data (not their agenda-biased narrative reports), for the first 6 months of 2008 the AVERAGE GLOBAL TEMPERATURE IS LOWER than the average from 2000 thru 2007 by an amount equal to 14.6% of the total linearized increase during the 20th century. Since 2000, the CARBON DIOXIDE LEVEL HAS INCREASED by 13.6% of the total increase since the start of the Industrial Revolution. The sun has remained quiet for months so continued cooling, with ups and downs as occurred during the warm up, is expected but at a slow rate, like during the warm up, because of the huge heat sink of the oceans. As the atmospheric carbon dioxide level continues to increase and the average global temperature doesn’t, a whole lot of people are looking more and more foolish. How long will it take for the climatologists to figure out what is wrong with their computer models? The current trend, which none of the models predicted, has them scratching their heads. The ONLY indicator that human activity has any significant influence on climate has come from these faulty computer programs.

Joseph said...

Dan, again, I'm well aware that 2008 is a relatively cold year. You can see that in the graphs from this post. We also know that 1998 was relatively hot year. Even so, if you take the slope from 1998 to 2008 and compare it to the long term trend (or projected trend if you prefer) the difference is not very unusual compared to what is seen historically, where deviations of up to 2.7 degrees / century occur 95% of the time for 11-year series.

I'm not going to provide you evidence that CO2 causes global warming in this particular post. I'm interested in seeing if the counter-challenge is taken first.

Dan Pangburn said...

Understanding does not come from examining something so brief as the last decade, or even the last century. The ONLY predictors of significant Anthropogenic Global Warming are Global Climate Models (aka General Circulation Models) or GCMs. GCMs invoke positive feedback from water vapor. This causes the GCMs to predict significant ‘enhanced global warming’. Anyone who has the ability and interest to look at the NOAA data from Vostok Ice Cores for the last glaciation (and prior glaciations) will discover that, repeatedly, a temperature increasing trend changed to a decreasing trend with the carbon dioxide level higher than it had been when the temperature was increasing. Graphs of NOAA and other credible data, all fully sourced so they can be verified, can be seen at http://www.middlebury.net/op-ed/pangburn.html. (The web site is controlled by Middlebury, not me.) Those who understand how feedback works will know that this temperature trend reversal is not possible with significant positive feedback. Thus, contrary to the assumption in the GCMs, significant positive feedback from water vapor does not exist.

The infrared radiation that is absorbed by greenhouse gas molecules is immediately shared with the thousands of times more numerous nitrogen and oxygen molecules. In other words, the absorbed infrared energy is thermalized. That is what makes the air feel warm. Calculations (see http://www.warwickhughes.com/papers/barrett_ee05.pdf ) show that half of the infrared energy from the surface that ever gets absorbed gets absorbed within 24 meters of the surface. The absorbed energy is then primarily carried up by atmospheric convection currents and radiated to space by clouds and other emitters. This mechanism is well understood by scientists that are knowledgeable in optical spectroscopy. The process is not yet adequately accounted for in the GCMs. These faulty GCMs are the ONLY predictors of significant Anthropogenic Global Warming. Climate history refutes significant net positive feedback and thus refutes Anthropogenic Global Warming.

The multi-billion dollar government grants for ‘climate research’ depend for their continuation on ominous prediction of looming catastrophe requiring more study. A lot of people have been hoodwinked by this self-serving rhetoric. Many are eager to impose their will on others. Some are positioned to profit from it. An entire industry has evolved that exploits the fear of Anthropogenic Global Warming.

The so-called consensus is primarily climatologists who stand to benefit from dire predictions and their followers. Over 31,000 qualified scientists and engineers have signed a document stating that human activity has had no significant influence on climate. Compare this to the 2,500 scientific reviewers claimed by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to form a scientific consensus.

No one can be sure where the average global temperature will go from here. According to Vostok ice core data it has been warmer than now four other times during the Holocene (the last 11,000 or so years) so eventual further rise is not out of the question. However, the change in pattern since 2001, the recent downtrend, and continued quiet sun are all indicating that the planet is in for a continuation of the cooling trend. The huge heat sink of the oceans will cause the cooling to be gradual, as was the warming.

Joseph said...

The paleo record can be misleading, because we're talking about completely different time frames with different mechanisms at play, plus much noisier data. What we are mostly interested in at the moment is fairly immediate effects, as in decades, not thousands of years. And again, I'm not going to discuss whether we can tell there's a fairly immediate effect in this post.

But I'll tell you what, Dan. If the mean temperature in 2009 is not at least 0.05 degrees higher than that of 2008, come back here, and tell me "I told you so."

Better yet, if the GISS slope of mean global temperatures between 1998 and any year in the future ever becomes less than -0.2 degrees / century, without an obvious anthropogenic cause, come back here and tell me "I told you so" and I'll write a post titled "I was wrong, Dan was right."

In fact, you don't even have to do that. Anyone else can come back here and remind me.