måndag 16 augusti 2010

The Burden of Proof of Climate Alarmism

A scientific truth is not established by merely lack of contradicting (negative) evidence; there must also be sufficient positive evidence. Similarly, you cannot be convicted for a crime on merely lack of evidence that you are innocent. Lack of an alibi is not enough to put you up in the death row. Lack of evidence that someone else did what was done, is not enough to convict you.

IPCC climate alarmism rests on a fundamental scientific postulate stating that doubled atmospheric CO2 will cause global warming of (about) 1 C. IPCC combines this postulate with various feedbacks and comes up with the alarming prediction of global warming in the range 2 - 4.5 C.

Without the basic postulate of 1 C, the feedbacks have nothing to feed on and the IPCC prediction collapses.

Is it necessary to motivate a basic postulate? If in a trial the basic postulate is that you were
seen at the place of crime with a bloody knife in your hand, is it necessary to give evidence 
to this effect to prove you guilty? Of course! The basic postulate has to be motivated. You are not free to just assume anything and then draw conclusions.

How does then IPCC motivate the basic postulate of 1 C from doubled CO2, that is a climate sensitivity of 1 C? IPCC presents the case along the following three lines of argumentation:

I. Lack of Evidence.

IPCC claims that there is lack of evidence that something else but CO2 caused the (main part of the) observed warming of 0.7 C during the 20th century.  

II. Stefan-Boltzmann's Blackbody Radiation Law 

IPCC claims that the 1 C is a direct consequence of Stefan-Boltzmann's Blackbody Radiation Law combined with a supporting basic postulate of atmospheric radiative forcing of 4 W/m2 from doubled atmospheric CO2. The connection is dQ ~ 4 dT by Stefan-Boltzmann with dQ = 4 and dT = 1, with the crucial dQ = 4 claimed to be motivated by either observation
or absorption spectra of socalled "greenhouse gases".

Is this science? Is it possible to isolate one aspect (CO2) of a complex global climate with highly idealized radiative forcing data? 

This is like giving a diagnosis of a patient starting off  with Fourier's law of heat conduction as a model of body temperature with the prediction that it will increase by 1 C every hour. With such a starting point the medication of putting the patient in a freezer will lead to a sure death. 

III. Small Cause - Big Effect

IPCC admits that CO2 is a trace gas, a very small cause, but then suggests that this very small cause can have a big global warming effect. This is believed to be a clever argument: Clearly it may be very difficult to disprove that a very small cause can have a large effect, because to do so requires a very precise model. 

To directly disprove that the flap of butterfly in the Amazonas cannot cause a heat wave in the former Soviet Union, is not easy.

But the burden of proof lies on the one who claims that the small cause has a big effect. So when IPCC admits that CO2 is a trace gas, IPCC also makes it very difficult to come up with direct evidence that this small cause has a big effect, because to do so requires a very precise climate model, and such a model is lacking.

  • AGW alarmists could have made their case quite simply by collecting and making available solid evidence to support their hypothesis, and by defending it in the court of scientific inquiry.

IV. Conclusion

The basic postulate of IPCC climate alarmism lacks convincing scientific support. To draw
conclusions and make predictions based on this postulate is not science. To build politics
on scientific postulates which lack scientific support, can be disastrous.

To interprete a truism (triviality or definition) as a deep physical fact and build a theory on the truism, cannot be science.

If physicists and scientific academies made these facts of physics and science clear to the general public, IPCC alarmism would collapse, but they don't. Is it because the basic postulate is beyond their capacity to grasp and thus cannot be questioned?

V. Perspective: Truism vs Deep Physical Fact

If we now understand that climate alarmism is based on a truism elevated to a profound physical fact, it is natural to ask if this is a feature of modern physics? Who was the master of elevating a truism (e.g. a definition) to deep physics? Yes, you are right, Einstein! The postulate of special relativity of constancy of the speed of light, is a truism because by definition the speed of light is one lightsecond per second. The postulate of general relativity of the equality of heavy and intertial mass is also a trusim, because there is only one mass, namely inertial mass. For details see, Many-Minds Relativity and Did Einstein Not Understand Mathematics? 

We are led to the conclusion that the reason that physicists do not question the basic postulate
of climate science, is that they are trained to elevate truisms to deep physics. Is this a truism or a deep real fact?

4 kommentarer:

  1. "Clearly it may be very difficult to disprove that a very small cause can have a large effect, because to do so requires a very precise model."

    Is this not very similar to the claim that secondhand smoke (small cause) causes thousands of deaths (big effect)? But they don't even have a computer simulation model of how that might happen. Instead they use statistics to produce a Relative Risk from secondhand smoke, and multiply this by the population to produce a number of 'deaths', which they then treat as if they were the same as recorded deaths (e.g. by drowning, or in road accidents).

    Both the arguments - whether about the greenhouse effect or the danger of secondhand smoke - are essentially mathematical in character. And most people (perhaps 90% or more) have no way of evaluating mathematical arguments, whether they be about Quantum Mechanics or Statistics. In this circumstance, they are required to trust authorities who are able to perform the requisite calculations.

    What is the solution to this problem. Must we all become mathematicians? And even professors of mathematics?

  2. I think mathematicians and physicists should tell the truth, the truth you are indicating. But now they hide the truth by saying nothing, and speculations can take any proportions. But if you say nothing as scientist
    then your days are numbered...

  3. And if you say something, your days may also be numbered - if the fate of UCLA Professor James Enstrom is at all indicative.

  4. That may be true, yes. But do say something can be be more honorable than to say nothing.