Alchemy and science

Last night the BBC ran a news item that stated that scientists had ‘proved’ that warming in the polar regions was due to man. Well, considering that scientists have not yet proved anthropogenic global warming to be real, this would prove to be a very interesting find indeed. The findings are published in Nature Geoscience as a letter, Attribution of polar warming to human influence.

Today, the news media are saturated with the hype, from which one would think that something really significant had been discovered. I found over 150 news articles being run from all over the world.

New study another ‘nail’ in debate over warming
Done. Proven. Humans are making the Arctic and Antarctica warm up. Case closed, says an influential group of climate scientists. – Ottawa Citizen

Climate change at the poles IS man-made
Scientists refute sceptics by proving that human activity has left its mark on the Arctic and Antarctic. – The Independent

‘Mankind is responsible for the warming up of the Antarctic, not just mother nature’ scientists say
The first hard evidence that mankind is responsible for the heating up of the Antarctic has been uncovered by Met office scientists. – Daily Mail

It’s Official: People Are Warming the Poles
The verdict is in. Warming near the poles is caused by human activity, according to new research. – Discovery Channel

Man is to blame for Antarctic temperature rise
Scientists say they now have conclusive proof that warming is due to man’s influence mainly through greenhouse gases and ozone depletion. – Daily Telegraph

Humans to blame for polar warming
Evidence has emerged that human activity, not natural phenomena, is directly responsible for heating up the polar ice caps. – New Scientist

Scientific proof that humans are causing polar warming
A new research has provided conclusive proof that human activity is responsible for significant warming in both polar regions. – Indian Express

Humans Guilty Of Melting Ice Caps
It’s official – humans are to blame for melting the ice caps as natural forces are not powerful enough to do it alone, a new experiment has revealed. – Sky News

So what is this amazing ‘conclusive proof’ from this ‘new experiment’? We find that there is no genuine evidence or proof at all. Quite simply, a computer model has had various ‘forcings’ tweaked – certain input variables adjusted – and when selected variabilities of a selected set of natural variations (e.g. in the sun and volcanoes) were entered, the output did not match the observed temperature, but when selected agents such as carbon dioxide, ozone and sulphate aerosols were added at selected amounts (all variations claimed to be due to man – but this is itself disputable), the model gave the ‘correct’ results. Well, what do you know! If you construct a model that is insensitive to natural variations and highly sensitive to man-made variations, it’s no surprise that the man-made variations create the most significant effect, and practically any effect can be said to be anthropogenic (man made). The authors declare:

We compare observed temperatures with simulations from four CMIP3-coupled climate models…To objectively test for the presence of an anthropogenic or natural response in observations of polar temperature, we use a detection and attribution analysis to compare simulated and observed changes. Such methods, first developed to detect anthropogenic influence on global temperature, have more recently been used to detect anthropogenic influence on temperature on continental scales.

But this is junk science. No climate model has in the past been anywhere close to predicting (i.e. arguing from causes to effects) what will happen to temperature as the variables are adjusted, so climate models are, to date, proven to be completely useless as models of reality. And analysis methods might very well have been ‘developed to detect anthropogenic influence on global temperature’, but they have spectacularly failed to be of any use in that for which they were developed used in conjunction with computer models. Therefore, arguing backwards via a flawed model and/or analysis from effect to cause is insanity, and any claim based on climate models that a certain observed phenomenon is caused by a certain ‘forcing’ (in this case man-made) is certainly spurious – be sure of it.

Now, as it is certain that no climate model has yet reliably predicted anything close to reality, it follows that those climate models are completely useless in relating real observables to causes. Of course, occasionally, on the basis of sheer chance, the prediction of a totally flawed model may sometimes appear true – but so do predictions from reading tea leaves or goat entrails.

Climate modellers cannot have it both ways. If their models are faulty, then they can’t be used to confirm or predict anything. However, if their models are accurate then they must be able to predict real behaviour, just as models in electronic circuit simulation or electromagnetics do. But if the prediction never aligns with reality – i.e. if there is no proven ability of predicting outcomes for certain changes in input variables, then it is a dead certainty that a given observed reality cannot be related in any meaningful way to variations in the input variables by invoking the model.

Of course, there are other serious objections. For example, the climate models can only manipulate variables that are known and included, by physical processes that are known and included, and with sensitivities that are known. What about the variables and processes that were not considered, and the sensitivities that were inaccurate – what effects do they have? Arguing back from an observable to a cause (via computer modelling) is an illogical step known as ‘asserting the antecedent’ – for example: if I eat candy I put on weight; I’ve put on weight, therefore I’ve eaten candy. Or, a dose of cyanide poison will kill the patient; the patient is dead therefore he died of cyanide poisoning. That’s illogical. It has no place in science.

Moreover, a hypothesis can’t be tested by producing evidence that gave rise to the hypothesis in the first place. For example, if I see a trend in increasing surface temperature, and I propose a hypothesis that increasing CO2 is causing the temperature rise, I cannot then use the increase in observed temperature to ‘prove’ my hypothesis about CO2. For a start, experiments should be designed to attempt to falsify (and therefore eliminate) hypotheses, because they can never be proved. But the present farce that first observed warming, then postulated CO2 as a cause, and then used the same observed warming as proof of the cause is ridiculous. Nor can one predict a continuation of a trend from a hypothesis that was devised to account for the trend in the first place. It cannot be tolerated in philosophy, nor in the courtroom, nor in real science. It is actually just a rhetorical device to ensnare the unwary.

For example, if I observe that my children are growing taller, I could suggest a hypothesis that they are growing taller because I’m buying them larger clothes every six months. Neither a prediction that they will continue to get taller, not an observation that they are getting taller, will prove my hypothesis to be a sound one. However, if I predict from my hypothesis that they would stop growing if I stopped buying larger clothes, and I then stop buying larger clothes and still observe that they continue to grow, I will have eliminated a false hypothesis. That’s scientific progress.

The climate models predict rises in surface temperature with increasing CO2 concentration in the atmosphere. But to predict such surface temperature rise there must be a corresponding greater rise in part of the atmosphere based on a mechanism that increasing CO2 is trapping heat in the atmosphere. But if this predicted increase in atmospheric temperature is not seen in practice (it isn’t!) then the climate model is hopelessly wrong, possibly based on a faulty mechanism, and it is thoroughly dishonest to claim that surface warming is due to increasing CO2 ‘because the climate models say so’. Falsified hypotheses can’t predict reality.

As James A. Peden, who was Atmospheric Physicist at the Space Research and Coordination Center in Pittsburgh and Extranuclear Laboratories in Blawnox, Pennsylvania, studying ion-molecule reactions in the upper atmosphere, declared:

All of the doom-and-gloom scenarios of today are being produced by climate models, not climate science. Climate modeling is not climate science, it is computerized Tinker-Toys with which one can construct any outcome he chooses. In the case of the current batch of climate modelers, they simply ignore factors in their models which would imply cooling forces also at work in the algorithms. Thus, they always arrive at excessive warming predictions which unfortunately never come to pass in time. But they are insulated from criticism, for on the day a particular model prediction is made, it cannot be refuted until a considerable amount of time has passed and the model has been proven to be a poor one. At that point, they respond with a simple “Our models are now much better” – and proceed with a new prediction which invariably turns out to be wrong… and so it goes, ad infinitum.”

So it was with the mediaeval alchemists: they never got anywhere near close to transmuting lead into gold, but they kept a good line up about making progress – it will come from some new, better experiments, Master, so keep me on the payroll.

The point made by Peden is an apt one because on this latest marvellous polar research, in making observations of temperatures in Antarctica, the temperatures in the huge massive continental interior were ignored – very conveniently, because the continent has been cooling significantly since the 1960s. The measurements of Antarctica for this ‘experiment’ that produced such ‘conclusive proof’ of man-made warming of the continent were taken only at the perimeter of the continent, around the coast. According to the report given by Voice of America:

The temperatures in the Antarctic were gathered along the coastal areas, according to scientists, because it is too difficult to get to the continent’s interior.

Nice one! In other words, select only the data that supports what you are setting out to prove, and ignore the rest. Such are the methods of impostors, charlatans and alchemists.


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