I am astonished (well, maybe by now not very astonished) at the hubristic way in which Warmists like to refer to sceptics as “climate deniers”. (We deny that a climate exists? No. We deny that it changes? No. We deny that the earth seems to have got slightly warmer in the last 100 years? No. We do not).
And now I notice the phrase “science deniers” creeping into the debate (or should I say, into the abuse?). Same questions apply. Do we deny the principles of science? No. Do we deny the second law of thermodynamics? No. Do we deny that CO2 is a greenhouse gas? No.
But it seems that the Warmists are quite happy to deny that atmospheric physics is an inexact science, that the earth’s climate system is non-linear, complex and chaotic (chaotic, that is, in the mathematical sense). They seem happy to deny that recent changes in mean global temperatures are entirely consistent with well-established, long-term cyclical patterns that owe much more to astronomy than to atmospheric physics. They seem happy to deny that over the very long-term, there has been just about zero correlation between levels of atmospheric CO2, and climate.And they deny (or fail to notice) that with regard to the undeniable correlation over the last 600,000 years or so, CO2 levels lag temperature, suggesting (if you understand the first principles of science) that temperature drives CO2, and not vice versa.
The fact is that both alarmists and sceptics agree (broadly speaking) about the underlying science. We take broadly the same data, but we reach different conclusions. Climate science is not like arithmetic. Arithmetic says two and two make four, and anyone who disagrees is just plain wrong. But in climate science, there are many data sets, sometimes conflicting, and a complex climate system where conclusions are anything but clear and linear, and are open to interpretation. For example the climate sensitivity of atmospheric CO2 is critical to any analysis, but the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report itself suggests a wide and range of values, probably (my emphasis) between 1.5oC and 4.5oC.
There is considerable evidence, and not only from the famous Climategate e-mails, that there are deliberate, widespread and systematic attempts — let us not be unkind and say to falsify, although that may be justified — let’s just say to cherry-pick data to fit a pre-conceived theory, rather than (in the proper scientific way) following the data, developing hypotheses and predictions based on them, and testing the hypotheses against further data.
US Senator Lamar Smith has set up an investigation of alleged biases in climate data. If you have 2½ hours to spend, watch the hearing from December 2015 in the Science Sub-Committee of the Senate Commerce Committee. Meantime Lord Lawson’s Global Warming Policy Foundation is assembling a committee of distinguished scientists and statisticians to study and report on allegations of tampering with temperature data sets.
The NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) is reportedly resisting questions on the integrity of its data from the US Senate There are at least grounds for suspecting the validity of some temperature data sets, especially of terrestrial temperature measurements. There may well be proper grounds for adjustment of raw data, but we need to be reassured that the adjustments are fair and unbiased.
It is critical to stress that perhaps the largest study from the sceptical point of view is that done by Professor Fred Singer’s Non-governmental International Climate Commission, and it starts from essentially the same data as the IPCC, but reaches radically different conclusions. Professor Singer is one of the most distinguished atmospheric physicists in the USA. Sceptics would argue that the IPCC is not a scientific body, but an advocacy group tasked to promote the orthodox view.
We are told that “97% of scientists support man-made global warming”, although the study leading to that conclusion has been comprehensively rebutted. But the fact is that global warming theory is not so much based on science and observations as on models and predictions. This is the classical approach to science. Observe phenomena. Create theories to explain them. Make predictions, and then test the predictions against observation. Theories are never finalised (e.g. Newtonian mechanics were eventually overtaken by Einstein and relativity), although they can be falsified.
Warmists are keen on forecasts and models, but much less keen on testing their models and forecasts against observation. So I was amused to see recently the following Tweet from a certain JWSpry: “97% of climate models say that 97% of climate scientists are wrong. Models Are Running Too Hot”. Check the graph at the head of this posting.