Concerns with Computer Climate Studies at University of Hawaii at Manoa
BY MICHAEL R. FOX PHD. - A press release from the University of Hawaii at Manoa on November 23, 2010 announced the results of a computer study by UH climatologists which portends greater global warming in the future. Even though this was a computer study of other computer studies, the authors were correct in pointing out that there has been great disagreement between the many existing global climate models. In most of these cases the computer models have consistently overstated future global temperatures. We also know that estimates of future atmospheric CO2 have also been overestimated.
We also need to acknowledge that science is driven by actual observable, measurable, replicable evidence. Consensus is not evidence, computer models do not produce evidence, hearsay is not evidence, and appeals to authority are not evidence. Desired outcomes are often distractions from actual science. As Nobel physicist Richard Feynman stated “It does not make any difference how beautiful your guess is. It does not make any difference how smart you are, who made the guess, or what his name is---if it (the guess, the hypothesis) disagrees with experiment it is wrong.”
We have reached a dangerous stage in our nation’s understanding of science, where computer models, no matter how incomplete, how primitive, how inappropriate, we have lost sight of the fact that such models are little more than guesses of the computer operators.
To make a clarifying point of a relatively primitive version of computer modeling, a mathematical expert I met used to carry a mathematical equation (a modeling equation), around folded up in his wallet. The equation represented when plotted, a two-dimensional profile of his wife’s face. If one is clever at mathematics he can use such equations to represent anything he desires, and it has little to do with hardnosed science and its demands for solid evidence. As the famous mathematician John Von Neumann once said “Give me four variables and I’ll draw you an elephant. With 5 variables I’ll make his trunk wiggle”. Imagine what you could do with a dozen variables. It is difficult to see how this “portends greater anticipated global warming” as the press release stated when we know so little about the climate to begin with.
There literally are dozens of scientific disciplines which come to bear upon our understanding of climates past and present. These would include chemistry, physics, meteorology, geology, limnology, oceanography, botany, biology, solution thermodynamics, spectroscopy, kinetics, heat, mass, and momentum transfer, and more. No one can or will master all of them, but if we are to understand climates past and present, we need to have a unifying climate understanding, and that where appropriate, meets the intellectual and historical demands of these scientific fields. Computers and their computer operators are not the masters of all of these disciplines. Our understanding of the Earth’s climate and the many forces which drive it are still at a primitive stage, largely unknown, and a long way from being amenable to computer simulations.
The understanding of the current global warming situation, such as it is, has been made much worse by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), whose founding papers required that only man-made impacts on climate be considered. Belatedly, this is beginning to change.
There has been little interest historically in determining the other forces and their magnitudes driving the climate, such as the Sun, the oceans, the natural sources of CO2 and their magnitudes. In some famous cases, especially since the Climategate fraud was discovered and publicly disclosed a year ago, we have now learned that climate data have been ignored, changed, lost, modified, massaged, thus nearly destroying essential efforts to replicate the findings and conclusions supporting any warming. Without original climate data replication is not possible.
And with the Hockeystick fraud fully described in the new book by A.W. Montford, “The Hockeystick Illusion”, appropriately subtitled “Climate Gate and the Corruption of Science”, we find computer modeling again running amok. In this case the computer algorithm that was used to portray the last 1000 years of global temperatures showed a sharp increase in global temperature during the last hundred years. Analyses of the climate proxy data as well as the computer code used, was so oriented to showing the ominous warming of the twentieth century, that the algorithm that was used could produce a hockeystick-shaped curve with a table of random numbers. No climate data was even needed, manipulated or not.
One of the UH authors states “If our model results prove to be representative of the real global climate….” “…and even the highest warming predictions would underestimate the real change we could see.” That is a big “if”, which is unlikely, if ever, to be confirmed. For the record there has been a slight climate cooling over the past 8 years or so, again, which again suggests that rising CO2 has little to do with the climate, let alone man-made CO2.
We do know, for example, from geological history of the late Precambrian Period 750,000,000 years ago, there were atmospheric CO2 levels 20 times higher than they are now. And yes, the oceans remained slightly alkaline during this time.
It seems likely now with all of the data loses, and manipulations and all of the scandals in climate science, that the anthropogenic warming (AGW) hypothesis has falling in disrepute.
As the world class physics Professor Harold Lewis stated in his recent letter of resignation from the American Physical Society, the man-made global warming hypothesis “…is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist. Anyone who has the faintest doubt that this is so should force himself to read the ClimateGate documents, which lay it bare”.
It is now time to make an accounting of those who promoted the fraud, and accepted the tens of billions in the attempt to do so. Now that would be a worthwhile project for which the hapless taxpayers who helped fund it all, would be most grateful.
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