Al Gore's Last Theorem
For over 350 years, some of the greatest minds of science struggled to prove what was known as Fermat's Last Theorem - the idea that a certain simple equation had no solutions.Imagine if I told you that I had just solved Fermat's Last Theorem -- but I was keeping the proof to myself for proprietary reasons. "I'm an expert, take my word for it!" Of course, blind-faith is not how mathematics or science works. Hard sciences are infused with mathematics; this extends to the medical, engineering and industrial disciplines. Standards of professional conduct have broken down, however, in Climate Science,
For over 350 years, some of the greatest minds of science struggled to prove what was known as Fermat's Last Theorem - the idea that a certain simple equation had no solutions.
Imagine if I told you that I had just solved Fermat's Last Theorem -- but I was keeping the proof to myself for proprietary reasons. "I'm an expert, take my word for it!" Of course, blind-faith is not how mathematics or science works. Hard sciences are infused with mathematics; this extends to the medical, engineering and industrial disciplines. Standards of professional conduct have broken down, however, in Climate Science,
Since the Enlightenment scientific progress has relied upon publication of logical and empirical "proofs" for new theories and theorems. This practice serves to disseminate the new knowledge generated, resulting in peer review. Specialists in the field have the most interest in reading particular publications; they potentially have the most to gain from the new learning, and they will likely have the most relevant things to say in response. Honest scholars seek the truth and are happy when an error in the record is corrected. However it is not necessarily known a-priori who is the most expert among the readership, or who will deliver the best, most cogent replies that might either concur or differ with a proposed new theory. Therefore true scientists seek the widest possible audience for their work. In an intellectual process akin to crowd-sourcing, the most reliable, truthful theories emerge over time.
In our illustrative case,
"Despite large prizes being offered for a solution, Fermat's Last Theorem remained unsolved. It has the dubious distinction of being the theorem with the largest number of published false proofs."
So we see that publication of a theorem' proof alone cannot be construed as passing peer-review, qualifying to be recognized widely as the truth. Peer review is essentially a two-step process: 1) journal editors review submissions for rejection or publication; and then 2) the readership weighs in on the subject matter, offering criticism in letters-to-the-editors and follow-on publications. In this manner, errors in the false published proofs of the Fermat's Last Theorem were identified -- errors that had escaped the attention of the editors. This process occurs constantly in all scientific disciplines.
Quality Control of this nature has been subverted in Climate Sciences. First, the editorial peer-review was corrupted as exposed in the Climate-gate e-mails. What is revealed therein is an IPCC-cabal covertly pressuring the editors of various journals, forcing them to exclude certain authors who did not toe the party-line, all in a repellant manner reminiscent of a claque of high school cheerleaders seeking to rig the election for prom-queen. In sum, they reveal themselves to be totally unserious about their obligations to open scholarly debate, teaching, and learning.
Second, we learn that the proprietary "greenhouse gas" climate data and models behind the theory of Anthropogenic Global Warming -- computer codes and measurements that serve essentially as the mathematical and empirical proofs of "Climate Crisis" -- have NOT been fully published. The US Dept. of Energy is complicit in this reprehensible circumstance, which is at odds with the scholarly traditions of integrity, honesty and openness.
Third, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the existing network of ground-level atmospheric temperature measurement stations (weather stations) have been largely mismanaged by the cognizant agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, according to their own standards (see here). In this report entitled "CLIMATE MONITORING NOAA Can Improve Management of the U.S. Historical Climatology Network" we learn on page 14 that "Close to Half of USHCN Stations Do Not Meet NWS Siting Standards" (NWS = National Weather Service).
The chart is reproduced from another GAO report indicating that the Federal Government spends $3-5 billion per year on "Climate Change" yet an adequate temperature measurement cannot be completed.
Chart 1 reproduced from "CLIMATE CHANGE Federal Reports on Climate Change Funding Should Be Clearer and More Complete" GAO Report Aug 2005 http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d05461.pdf
In light of Chart 1, let's examine some of the deficiencies in temperature measurement uncovered by the GAO in the report cited previously. First we learn on page 4 that the NOAA relies on "Volunteer observers at the stations [who] generally record daily maximum and minimum temperatures and 24-hour precipitation totals and submit the data to NWS over the telephone, by Internet, or by mail." Let's ponder that for a moment: $3-5 billion spent per year but the essential temperature measurements are collected by volunteers! And the data is sent by mail! Another deficiency cited on page 18 is as follows:
- "Limitations due to temperature-measuring equipment. The use of temperature-measuring equipment that is connected by a cable to an indoor readout device can require installing equipment closer to buildings than specified in the standards, according to our survey. Weather forecast office staff must dig trenches for the cables, and paved surfaces such as sidewalks and driveways, as well as the cost of cable for trenching, can limit the length of trenches and consequently the ability to locate stations so that they adhere to the siting standards. According to data from NCDC, about three-quarters of stations in the USHCN use such equipment."
Oh, the poor dears! $3-5 billion a year and they just don't have enough money to lay a cable of the proper length. What could be more important in documenting "global warming" than measuring the temperature properly? Totally unserious!
According to PBS's NOW Program, as early as 1981 Representative Albert Gore co-chaired the first congressional hearings on the subject of global warming. His career continued as Senator and then Vice President where he "Reinvented Government":
"The National Partnership for Reinventing Government is the Clinton-Gore Administration's initiative to reform the way the federal government works. Our mission is to create a government that "works better, costs less, and gets results Americans care about." Begun in the early days of the Administration, with Vice President Al Gore at its helm, our task force is the longest-running reform effort in U.S. history." Emphasis added.
He also "invented the internet" was awarded the Nobel Prize and an Academy Award. Yet, somehow for thirty years it has escaped his attention to make sure, you know, the actual temperature was measured properly. I don't think he's all that interested in real climate science as opposed to climate posturing. By the way, the above PBS NOW webpage has this helpful entry:
1988: NASA climate scientist James Hansen and his team reported to Congress on global warming, explaining, "the greenhouse warming should be clearly identifiable in the 1990s" and that "the temperature changes are sufficiently large to have major impacts on people and other parts of the biosphere, as shown by computed changes in the frequency of extreme events and comparison with previous climate trends."
I don't recall temperature changes in the 1990s that were discernible as "global warming"; nor did I see "major impact on people and other parts of the biosphere"; perhaps in 2012 some sort of update / correction is in order to this government broadcasting webpage.
PBS NOW provides another helpful entry in the history of "Global Warming"
'2001: The IPCC released its third assessment report, concluding on the basis of "new and stronger evidence that most of the observed warming over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities." They also observed that "the globally averaged surface temperature is projected to increase by 1.4 to 5.8 degrees Celsius over the period 1990 to 2100."'
Of this 110 year period, the year 2012 marks the time when 22 years have already elapsed or 22/110 = 20%. I'd be startled to learn of any plausible thermodynamic mechanism in the global climate that is non-linear -- but as noted above the actual climate models remain unpublished, beyond professional scrutiny, so no one knows what's in them. Linearity then means that approximately 20% of the temperature increase must already have already occurred; 20% of the IPCC prediction would be of order 0.3 to 1.2 degrees Celsius (0.5 to 2.1 degrees Fahrenheit). Such a temperature rise should be discernible with the proper network of modern weather stations, constructed with temperature sensor systems readily available in 1990. By way of contrast, literally billions of precision temperature measurements are made every day in industry. But, of course, we'll never know the truth about the alleged temperature rise because Al Gore and his inept minions could not conduct a proper temperature survey despite spending of order $100 billion on "climate research". Again, one must conclude that the actual truth concerning the theory of global warming is immaterial to these folks, who all prefer to hide behind the pretext of a manufactured "scientific consensus".
"Publish or Perish!" is the career admonition well-known in academia for those on the tenure track. Ordinarily universities jealously guard their right to publish results of research conducted on campus. I know from experience having negotiated a number of cooperative R&D agreements with leading universities. In addition, federal agencies that sponsor university research customarily expect that research results will be published, and they usually request information on publications resulting from a research grant as one leading indicator that the grant work was successful. For these reasons, the University of East Anglia Professor Phil Jones's claims that his climate model computer codes -- partially funded with US taxpayer support -- cannot be published for proprietary reasons is extraordinary, and in my view, highly suspect.
Let's examine Prof Jones's claim more closely. US intellectual-property law recognizes copyright, trademark, patents and trade-secrets. The first two categories do not apply to this discussion. This leaves patents and trade secrets. Universities and federal agencies usually recognize potential need to permit university professors to patent inventions arising from their research. As employer, the university usually retains title to the patent in the hope that private enterprise will license the invention. This is ordinarily reflected in provisions in the grant funding agreement as well as the professors' employment agreement. In essence, however, a patent IS a publication. Modern patent law (the US now follows European practice) recognizes the first to file a patent as the inventor rather than first to invent - which is intrinsically more difficult to prove. However, the patent MUST be the first public disclosure of the invention to qualify for the patent to be allowed in Europe. Conversely, public disclosure of an invention other than a patent precludes filing for a patent. Thus, universities usually permit a reasonable period to hold inventions (intellectual property) secret to allow the inventors sufficient time to file a patent BEFORE they are allowed and expected to publish in a scientific journal. This is the only legitimate reason I know of to (temporarily) withhold publication of research results. Universities are not known to hold ANYTHING as trade-secret in perpetuity since it is anathema to the universities' institutional mission to research, teach, learn, publish and disseminate knowledge widely.
So in sum, the Federal Agencies as well as universities almost always require and expect research results to be published, the only exception being a short delay to permit filing for patents. If the US Department of Energy modified the standard agreements when funding the University of East Anglia to allow Prof. Jones to hold his computer code secret forever, they must have employed the same staff attorney who subordinated taxpayer funds to private investors in the Solyndra scandal.
With this background let's consider the motives to hold the "Climate Models" secret. Is it really plausible that Prof. Jones et al are filing patents? What commercial market exists for (failed) computer climate models? Even if they were to do so, the patent applications would appear in the public record soon enough. My conclusion is that Prof Jones et al want to hide the tweaks and twaddle programmed in their computer codes so that they --latter day Lysenkoists -- can reliably produce the politically correct results demanded by their masters. This is their solely selfish reason for withholding publication despite Freedom-of-Information requests, even though predictions from these codes require (they say) that everyone abandon inexpensive fossil-fuel energy. If the code ("proof") was compelling, they would sacrifice any self-interest and publish it to support their dire predictions.
My first essay for AT on Global Warming was published in February 2007; in the intervening five years, I have seen no further compelling scholarly evidence for AGW. In the meantime, the climate-gate e-mails confirm MIT Meteorology Professor Richard S. Lindzen's charge that Al Gore has systematically corrupted Climate Science.
I conclude therefore with a little syllogism of my own, which I tentatively name Al Gore's Last Theorem:
- 1. Warmist Climate Scientist claim AGW climate model predicts impending global doom, prevention of which requires All of Mankind to make substantial sacrifices
- 2. Warmist Climate Scientists will not make substantial sacrifices i.e. publishing their proprietary computer codes.
- 3. "All of Mankind" contains the entire subset, "Warmist Climate Scientists".
Therefore: Given 3, statements 1 and 2 are logically incompatible. Statement 1 is false.
Math is hard and Al Gore flunks.