Blathered a little last week about the study reported on here, and the stunning dishonesty with which it was reported. In the process, I don’t think I stated clearly enough what the issues are – this is a very damning study to the way Climate Science! has been conducted over the last 30 years. My remarks are based on what the articles said, not on the study itself – the 3 articles I read did not provide a link – don’t know if it’s even available on line yet.
Recap: for the first time, researchers did a study of temperatures which uniquely combined the following:
- Estimate world-wide annual temperatures from the last Ice Age until now – last 11,500 years. Before, that level of detail was, at most, attempted either over the last 2000 or so years or over some comparatively small geographical areas;
- Included various locations around the world, not just one area;
- Involved comparing and correlating a number of different ways of estimating ancient temperatures. In other words, instead of just using tree rings or ice cores or fossil shell growth, weighed several methods against each other to better iron out non-temperature related variations.
- apart from a few ‘spikes’ (no definition or explanation given as to what constitutes or causes a spike), temperature changes are characterized by very gradual movements;
- for much of the last 500 years, global temperatures had been slowly cooling, possibly heading for a ‘mild’ ice age*;
- for the last hundred years, they have risen at a much faster rate of 1.3 degrees C per century;
- still, over 25% of the period studied, global temperatures were as warm or warmer than they are today.
Then, stuck on the end for no logical reason, are the projections based on a model based on *other data*. In other words, after presenting what at first glance appears to be very interesting and relevant data hitherto unavailable to any modelers, they invoke predictions *not based on the results of their study*! That model is the one that produced the famous (and famously inaccurate**) ‘hockey stick’ graph. So, as a matter of science, it would seem that basic thrust of the study would be to call all existing models into question, not to the cause anyone to revert to those same models. The study provides the data one would base a model on. Models not based on that data would be by that fact alone called into question.
Here is my stab at the questions this study raises that any coherent explanation of climate and climate change would have to address:
1. If temperatures were as warm or warmer over almost 3,000 years out of the last 11,500 than they are now, what happened to the ice caps during those warm or warmer times? Did they melt? If not, why not? Because the greatest single threat to human life posed by warmer temperatures is routinely presented to be the ice caps melting, which is supposedly going on now, at current temperatures. But, putting 2 and 2 together: it’s only been as warm as it is now for a few decades, while the general gradual change in temperature characteristic of the previous 11,500 years indicates that those periods of warm or warmer temperatures lasted a long time. It does not appear that the ice caps in Greenland and Antarctica have melted during the last 11,500 year, even though they were evidently exposed to as warm or warmer temperatures as we have today over centuries at a stretch. If the ice caps are melting now, we’d need a reason other than simple temperature, as they did not melt in the past exposed to those temperatures.
2. What caused temperature changes in the past? Basic Science 101: You’d need to rule out or at least account for any causes other than carbon dioxide as part of determining how much of an effect carbon dioxide levels have. Since geologically recent global temperatures have now been shown to move up and down and experience ‘spikes’, we’d want to know what made all that happen before appealing to yet another cause. Occam’s razor, and all that.
3. With those two issues in mind, wouldn’t the climate models necessarily need to be discarded? Wouldn’t one need to start from scratch using the new data? The current models seem to put extraordinary emphasis on matching the temperature curve of the years from the 1980s through 1998. Given the presence of long-term temperature movements and occasional spikes revealed in this new study, it would be necessary to match the previous 11,000 years as well. Including the spikes. That would be the bare minimum needed for a model anyone could take seriously.***
In conclusion, it’s flabbergasting to me that this study is being reported as backing up the current model and conclusions, rather than calling them into serious question.
My position: Is it getting warmer? Seems to be, just not over the last 15 year. Should we be concerned? Yes, but we should be more concerned, it seems to me, by how little we know about the oceans we dump millions of gallons of waste and millions of tons of garbage into every day. For example. I don’t know what people really mean by ‘saving the planet’, but I’m certainly interested in leaving a beautiful world to my children. I’m not so crazy about rushing down a path that weds science and politics in such a way that we end up with the global totalitarian government needed to enforce the steps proposed by alarmists. It would be much more in keeping with the ‘can-do’ spirit of American cowboy science to propose technological solutions and eschew political ones.
* no definition of what constitutes a ‘mild’ ice age is given. Sounds a little like a mild skull fracture to me.
** temperatures have remained flat for the last 15 years. The model predicted they would rise significantly.
*** This would be where Mike Flynn or Wm Briggs would chime in and explain how a model with X number of variable (or coefficients?) can be made to model any data set without recourse to any statistically valid analysis at all. But I only minored in math, so I’m staying out of that one.