Climate Science Not Settled Nor Rock Solid: Quicksand Is Better Analogy

by Dr. Tim Ball on April 29, 2012

in Government,Political,Politics,Theory

Danielle Smith, leader of Alberta’s Wildrose Party possibly contributed to her election defeat when she said about climate change,

“We have always said the science isn't settled and we need to continue to monitor the debate.”

It’s an accurate and reasonable statement, but triggered inaccurate and unreasonable responses, which fall into some of the categories identified by Christopher Moncton. Here are four of them.

1. “The Greek philosopher Aristotle, 2300 years ago, listed the dozen commonest logical fallacies in human discourse in his book Sophistical Refutations. Not the least of these invalid arguments is what the mediaeval schoolmen would later call the argumentum ad populum – the consensus or headcount fallacy.”

2. “Ah,” say the believers, “but there is a consensus of scientists and learned societies.” That is the argumentum ad verecundiam, the reputation or appeal-to-authority fallacy.”

3. “But it’s only if we include a strong warming effect from Man’s CO2 emissions that we can reproduce the observed warming of the past 60 years. We cannot think of any other reason for the warming.” That argument from the UN’s climate panel, the IPCC, is the argumentum ad ignorantiam, the fallacy of arguing from ignorance. We do not know why the warming has occurred. Arbitrarily to blame Man is impermissible.”

4. “We tell the computer models that there will be strong warming if we add CO2 to the air. The models show there will be a strong warming. Therefore the warming is our fault.” This is the argumentum ad petitionem principii, the circular-argument fallacy, where a premise is also the conclusion.”

Andrew Weaver, one of Canada's top climate modelers, recently said about climate science,

“It's more than firm, it's as solid as a rock,” “The scientific community has used the word unequivocal.”

“There are thousands of scientists working on this problem and if there was an Achilles heel to it, one person would find it. This is lowest common-denominator rhetoric.”

These are classic argumentum ad verecundiam (2) or consensus arguments, which I wrote about here. Thousands of scientists are working on the problem and they’ve found a multitude of Achilles heels. Here’s recent commentary on one of the most egregious, the omission practice of leaving out variables or data.

If Weaver is referring to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) people they have a vested interest in perpetuating the IPCC version of climate science, best illustrated by Joanne Nova’s telling cartoon.

But there’s a more telling scientific reason why IPCC science isn’t rock solid and quicksand is a better analogy. A basic definition of science is the ability to predict. IPCC began making predictions but quickly switched to projections based on different scenarios. Regardless of terminology the public understand they’re predictions, as they’re supposedly scientifically derived prognostications. Regardless of terminology they’re all produced by computer models and are all wrong.

There’s much literature, including peer reviewed articles, analyzing what’s wrong with the models and others identify failure of the models. Dr Clive Best’s projections compare actual temperature records with the 1990 predictions and show even the lowest is wrong. A second graph adds CO2 change and how it separates from temperature in 2000; the point at which global warming became climate change.

Two problems guarantee failure of the IPCC work. The anthropogenic global warming (AGW) hypothesis is based on incorrect assumptions, which are built into the computer models. For example, a CO2 increase causes a temperature increase, when the opposite happens in every record. IPCC projections continue to follow the CO2 record after 2000 that indicate it’s integral to their calculations. It’s a classic argumentum ad petitionem principii, or circular argument (4). It also fits the common observation about computer models – garbage in, garbage out (GIGO). I prefer with IPCC models it means, garbage in, gospel out.

Professor Richard Feynman, Nobel Laureate in Physics said,

“It does not matter who you are, or how smart you are, or what title you have, or how many of you there are, and certainly not how many papers your side has published, if your prediction is wrong then your hypothesis is wrong. Period.”

Climate predictions are consistently wrong, so the hypothesis is wrong and the computer models built on it are wrong and produce meaingless results. Failed predictions indicate climate science remains unsettled. Corollary of the settled, solid rock arguments are that we can eliminate IPCC, or is that a reductio ad absurdum argument?

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