Posted by: reformedmusings | December 30, 2008

Anthropological Global Warming – RIP

The Telegraph published a great column recently: 2008 was the year that man-made global warming was disproved. The comments below the article are worth reading. One commenter wrote a very long comment going through the flaws in the anthropological global warming (AGW) theories in some detail using a dialectic approach. There are lots of other, similar analyses on the web, including the excellent British documentary The Great Global Warming Swindle. A prominent atmospheric physicist wrote a brief summary of the film for San Fransisco Examiner.

The tide seems to be turning back to sanity and scientific reality, and against AGW. Over 31,000 scientists have signed a petition dissenting from AGW, demolishing any myth of a consensus for it. The politicians and other entertainers seem to be lagging in the return to sanity, of course. There’s no money or fame in sanity.

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One of the best, brief summaries of the flaws in the whole AGW debate is at JunkScience. I highly recommend their essay. They don’t shy from the technical details. There’s also a good list of debunking facts here.

As an engineer with two technical degrees, both related to fluid mechanics, I can see a host of problems with the whole AGW religion. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see through the lies, though. Everyone should ask themselves one simple question: If they can’t predict the weather in your town or city a week from now, how can they predict the climate over the entire earth 100 or 1,000 years from now? That’s not a misleading question. Here’s why:

All standard weather forecasting today in North America (and most other places) is done based on mathematical models of the atmosphere, corrected by observations and human forecaster judgment. The underlying physics in the models comes from the Navier-Stokes equations of fluid mechanics. Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) provides the computer-based implementation of the underlying equations as simplified for a given application. You can read about the various atmospheric weather models in this pdf document, and see links to the latest model outputs at this NOAA page. If you skim through some of these products, you will find a dizzying array of often conflicting predictions. One of the forecaster’s jobs is to decide which, if any, of the models is most accurate based on the forecaster’s experience and the local weather history. If you consistently read the forecast discussion on your local NWS page, you’ll get some idea of how it all works.

Without getting into the nitty-gritty, here’s the deal with CFD. The programmed equations are usually approximations, simplified so that they can be solved. The numerical algorithms all have limitations, and not all will work in a particular case. On top of this, they solve nothing without someone setting boundary and initial conditions. The boundary conditions ensure that the “edges” of a particular model area make sense and that physics in general isn’t violated. For example, if I were to calculate the wind pattern based on pressure and temperature profiles, the wind just above the ground would have to be parallel to the ground, and the speed at the ground itself (elevation above ground = 0) must be zero due to friction. That would be a simple boundary condition. Prevention of infinite or non-sensical values would be others. Plus, each point in the model must start at some known condition (temperature, pressure, humidity, etc.) The smaller the calculation grids become, the larger the number of grids becomes and the more vast the number of boundary and initial conditions must be. The amount of data involved is huge. And that’s just for a regional forecast model.

Decades ago, the National Weather Service had wanted to use so-called “super computers” to enable weather prediction in areas as small as a 6-city-block grid. What they apparently forgot was that it isn’t the computer that’s important, but rather the data you input and models you construct. It’s first day online predicting the weather in January 2000, it called for a dusting of light snow in the Northeast. What the US East Coast saw that day was a huge snow storm – over 20″ in Raleigh, NC. Here’s what the director of the National Weather Service promised:

Only a week before, National Weather Service Director John J. Kelly, Jr., said the increased speed of the $35 million computer would result in “a 10 percent improvement” in weather forecasts for every city in the nation. “This puts us closer to reaching our goal of becoming America’s no-surprise weather service.” [my emphasis]

Here’s what the forecasters said the day after the huge storm buried the northeast:

“The [models] did a pitiful job,” wrote Dewey Walston, a forecaster with the National Weather Service, in a cryptic message to other forecasters Tuesday morning.

Ten inches of snow fell at his office in Sterling, Va.; a foot in nearby Washington. A day earlier, the forecast for the area using model guidance called for “less than an inch.”

Dewey: “Eating a lot of humble pie this morning. Too bad the [models] can’t answer all the phone calls.”

A dusting of snow? That was a $35M lesson learned.

All this weather stuff may seem like a rabbit trail, but in fact, predicting the weather a few days in advance is child’s play compared to trying to predict the entire planet’s climate 100  or 1,000 years from now. This can only be attempted using the grossest simplifications and wildest guesses on boundary conditions. Plus, the earth is not a closed system like some AGW prophets like to pretend. The overwhelmingly-dominating source of energy lives about 93 million miles away – the sun.

The sun has its own weather, which greatly affects ours. If the sun puts out even a fraction less energy over some period of time, it doesn’t matter how much you drive your SUV, it will be cold here. When the sun puts out a tiny fraction more energy, it won’t matter how low your carbon footprint is, it’s going to be hot here. It’s pure arrogance to think that humans are having a significant effect on the overall earth’s climate patterns. Short of all-out nuclear war or totally denuding the forests, nothing that man does makes any difference compared to the effect of solar activity.

Worse, we have absolutely no understanding of the weather on the sun. If we cannot predict the actions of the source of almost our entire energy input, then how could we possibly know the boundary conditions and energy drivers to input to the computer models? We don’t, and that’s the bottom line. We don’t have a clue.

So, I can steer the outcome of any computer model simply by choosing what parameters to include in the model, how to approximate the equations, setting appropriate boundary conditions, initial conditions, and forcing functions, and then crunching away. If I don’t get the results that I want, I can vary the numbers and iterate the process until I do. Which gets to the bottom line, why bother?

Rush is right – follow the money. Scientists are anything but objective. Science always follows the money. The great science academies of Europe all started as, and most remain, government institutions. Ya gotta keep the king happy. All university science programs live off of grants and endowments. Get the politically expedient results, you get more money and get to keep your job. The grant money for pro-AGW research amounted to over two billion dollars in 2004 alone. Think that won’t buy the results you want? It continues to amaze me that folks who don’t believe pharmaceutical company-funded or oil-company-funded research unquestionably accept politically-funded and politically-motivated university research. Astounding.

A representative incident from my own experience may be helpful, just in case you don’t believe that science can be bought. A company was receiving millions of dollars in congressional earmarks every year for research to literally defy the laws of physics. When I took over the oversight organization, I tried to stop the project to save taxpayer money, but the congressional member’s staff wouldn’t hear of it. So, I invited the company in to explain why normal physics didn’t apply in their lab.

Their PhDs ran though a dizzying array of charts and graphs trying to support their approach. Whilst my PhDs were watching their PhDs’ science closely, being a dumb pilot, I just watched for the catch. Sure enough, in a long series of technical graphs, they changed a key parameter away from the region of our interest to a different region. I was the only one who noticed the change, so I called them on it and demanded to see their backup charts with the real data of interest (it’s good to be the king). Sure enough, they had pulled a slight of hand. The physics didn’t support their assertions or the huge investment. Their whole house of cards came crashing down. I was then able to get Congress to cancel any further funding for the project. And the money those folks were getting pales in comparison to what’s available for those who will provide politically-correct AGW results. Follow the money – it never lies.

That’s not to say that a little warming is bad, either. One of the warmest periods in recorded history was from about 800-1300 A.D. It was a time of great prosperity in Northern Europe. The Vikings settled Greenland. Agriculture boomed. Far from a disaster, it was one of the best things that ever happened to Western Civilization. And guess what – there was no industrialization to blame and no one worried about their carbon footprint!

What about the hype? The folks who started this whole AGW religion are the same ones who preached global cooling (no kidding, read the linked article) in the 70’s. They wrote books claiming that the world’s rivers would freeze by 1990 and there’d be a world war because the Soviet grain belt would freeze. There was talk of world-wide famine, stockpiling food, and even tornado activity was blamed on the cooling trend. Sound familiar? Same graphs, same lies, different selectively-presented numbers. They sold lots of books then and they’re selling lots of books touting exactly the opposite now (except for the tornadoes. It seems as if either cooling or warming worsens tornado activity. I haven’t found any justification for either in the Navier-Stokes equations.) They are the same eco-socialists trying to destroy Western Civilization by whatever lies they can (literally) sell. The sad part is that their lies have real consequences for the world’s poor. If industrial nations suffer economic setbacks due to anti-AGW measures (e.g., the carbon footprint crap), then they can/will help the developing world less. Plus, the developing countries will be stymied in their attempts to grow their economies.

Want a concrete example of the impact of eco-socialism? Three letters – DDT. In the 60’s, there was the big DDT scare, with activists claiming that the pesticide was killing off our birds and bees. Rachel Carson sold the big lie in her famous book Silent Spring, which was full of misrepresentations. As usual, the ignorant entertainment industry frothed at the mouth for the new fad cause. Joni Mitchell sang: “Hey, farmer, farmer, put away that DDT now. Give me spots on my apples but leave me the birds and the bees.” Cute, huh?

As a result, DDT was banned world-wide (latest = Stockholm Convention), with the few holdouts pressured by eco-zealots in the arrogant and comfortable West. Problem was, not only were the zealots wrong, but nothing killed deadly malaria-carrying mosquitoes better than DDT (see The Malaria Foundation website and Africa Fighting Malaria). Literally millions of poor have needlessly died from malaria in Third World countries as a result of the bans and pressure from the comfortable West. From this report:

Most insecticides for killing mosquitoes are also used in agriculture, which raises resistance issues; DDT is our only long-lasting spatial repellant; and no one is doing research to find equally effective replacements.

In fact, Pesticide Action Network, World Wildlife Fund and other activists stridently oppose all spraying. They claim DDT causes testicular tumors, lactation failure in nursing mothers and reduced biodiversity. Ill-informed UN and WHO bureaucrats make the same arguments – though “the claims are not supported by real world data,” says Roberts. And these speculative to phony risks are trivial compared to malaria.

Malaria is the 4th leading cause of death in the world. Drug-treatment-resistant strains are starting to dominate. Eradication is the real answer. Only recently have countries like South Africa defied the ban and started spraying DDT again to fight malaria:

South Africa had stopped using DDT in 1996. Until then the total number of malaria cases was below 10,000 and there were seldom more than 30 deaths per year.

But in 2000, the country saw malaria cases skyrocket to 65,000 and 458 people were killed.

Provincial health minister Seaparo Sekwati defends the use of DDT, saying it saves lives.

I wonder if Carson saw all those graves in the Third World coming. Or maybe she just didn’t think that far ahead. Burning Hot from Indonesia wonders the same in his post Rachael Carson – Environmental Queen of Green Genocide. It isn’t always what you write, but what you choose to leave out – the devil is in the details. Ideas have consequences – eco-socialism routinely kills, just not in the comfy apartments of the self-serving eco-socialists who are legends in their own minds. Most wouldn’t know a quark from a shark.

So, where are we now? The last two winters have brought record cold and snow to the northern hemisphere. Last week, all of Canada and most of the northern US were covered with snow. It was 17F in the DC area. England is freezing and covered with snow. Seattle is being hammered with record snow and ice. Minnesota, Denver, Houston and Galveston, Sin City, Malibu, Athens, and around the world suffering with new winter records. This isn’t scientifically possible under a so-called “greenhouse effect,” no matter what you see on TV or read in the NYT. Greenhouses only get warmer, never colder, as long as the energy input doesn’t drop dramatically or nobody opens a window. That’s basic physics. Yet, the AGW zealots remain undeterred. Science is irrelevant, only bringing down the great western economies matters. Oh, and keeping the billions in annual grant money flowing to their loyal devotees.

History shows that the eco-socialists have NEVER been right. EVERY scare prediction they’ve ever tried fails to materialize. Unfortunately, history starts today for most folks. We don’t teach logic or real science in public schools anymore, just the religion of political correctness. Ignorance breeds disaster, especially for those in developing countries who can’t speak for themselves and don’t have a George Soros funding their latest fad cause. Remember DDT. Remember global cooling. Remember the limitations of computer modeling. Don’t be duped. Don’t participate in the murder of the innocents in the Third World.

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Responses

  1. […] mathematical models as a substitute for data, essentially asking the same questions that I did in this post but without the technical details. His eloquent words cut to the heart of the […]

  2. […] The trolls have been active, so I thought that I’d follow up my previous posts here and here. I have no intention of making a career of this, so this will hopefully be the last one. […]

  3. […] by redirecting wealth from producers to leaches, by perpetrating the already debunked myth of anthropological global warming, the wealth redistributors want you to turn out your lights. From their […]

  4. […] fed an anti-development agenda. I talk in some detail about the shortfalls of computer simulations here and here. It’s been 10 years, so time to check out some of those alarming […]

  5. […] has been proven, over and over that anthropological Global Warming or AGW is a scam. Do you still remember the polar bear perching on a small piece of ice. Do you […]

  6. […] In my career, if I had massaged data like that, people would literally have died. Accuracy and truth trump feelings and politics when the rubber hits the road. The truth in engineering always manifests itself because physics doesn’t lie. The Verrisano Bridge episode provided a graphic example. Although the global warming frauds continue to sell their wares to a gullible, science-ignorant public, their predictions have repeatedly failed to materialize. Few seem to notice. But the truth will become apparent, just as the global cooling lies did in the 1970’s. […]


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