Global Warming and the Feynman test
Modern climate fear-mongering is the latest example of the prostitution of science in the service of liberal ideology. Were polymath Nobel laureate physicist Richard Feynman alive today I suspect he’d be condemning the whole climate conspiracy as a gross abuse of the good name of science. Here’s how Feynman described real science:
"In general, we look for a new law by the following process. First, we guess it (audience laughter), no, don’t laugh, that’s really true. Then we compute the consequences of the guess, to see what, if this is right, if this law we guess is right, to see what it would imply and then we compare the computation results to nature, or we say compare to experiment or experience, compare it directly with observations to see if it works. If it disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong. In that simple statement is the key to science. It doesn’t make any difference how beautiful your guess is, it doesn’t matter how smart you are who made the guess, or what his name is… If it disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong. That’s all there is to it.” (emphasis added)
The critical thing to note is that any theory no matter how compelling, or how wise its originators are, or how many scientists think it’s right a theory, is not true if it doesn’t match experimental data. If every scientist in the world were to say that when an apple falls from a tree it should fall uptha it wouldn’t make the theory of anti-gravity true.
But modern climate guesses have been shown to be wrong as this plot shows.
The red line is what the warmists’ climate models say should have happened and the blue and green lines are what did happen.
All modern climate models fail the Feynman test; the climate guesses disagree with experiments and so they’re wrong. End of story. Real scientists know that the climate models are wrong.
At this point it’s important to point out that the fact that the current guesses are wrong does not mean that the earth is not warming nor that warming, if it occurs, is not caused by mankind.
It’s possible the earth is warming and the current hiatus is due to heat going into the deep oceans or a secret Koch brothers heat collector located under a field in Iowa. But there is no evidence for either hypothesis. Further we know that the earth has, over its history, been a lot warmer than today without man’s help and that we’re coming out of a little ice age so that warming is to be expected.
Because the guesses have been shown to be wrong we really have no scientific way to predict what climate will do and a bias towards significant warming is just that; a bias.
The point is that while the warmists are frantically seeking ways to fix their guesses, it is quite possible that what they are really missing are natural processes that mitigate the impact of CO2 in the atmosphere. It’s not science to simply assume that when a guess is wrong that the predictions of the guess are right but we need to change the guess to explain why the predictions are right. That’s blind faith not science.
We need to keep investigating, but as of now the warmists have absolutely no credible scientific basis for their climate projections of continued warming.
Unfortunately, scientists are willing to lie about science if those lies advances political causes they like. And not just about climate.
For example back when Ronald Reagan was trying to deter the Soviets from starting a nuclear war by building the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), Carl Sagan claimed that even a tiny strike by the Soviets would result in the death of everyone on the planet due to “Nuclear Winter.” There was no real science to support this and lots of reasons to say it was silly but scientists kept quiet.
Tony Rothman, a cosmologist, wrote a long article on the anti-scientific attitude of many scientists in the “Nuclear Winter” debate in his book Science a la Mode. The basic point was that instead of saying “Nuclear Winter is not scientifically supported but I condemn the idea of nuclear war,” a large number of scientists said “Nuclear Winter will kill all humanity.” They basically lied, or at least kept quiet, to achieve a policy goal they thought was worthwhile.
In the end when the theatrics died down, it was determined that if every city in the Northern hemisphere burned to the ground, there might be a nuclear winter in the Northern hemisphere. But Sagan had contended that even a limited Soviet first strike aimed at US ICBM fields -- the fields SDI was designed to protect -- would eradicate humanity. He couldn’t have campaigned against SDI with real science. But he, and others, chose to go with shaky, at best, science in what he undoubtedly thought was a noble cause.
Global Warming, or Climate Change, or whatever it’s called this week puts scientists in a similar bind. They tend to be liberals amenable to big government -- because that’s who pays their bills -- and “ecologically conscious” so the appeal of not denouncing a campaign designed to massively increase government and force people to live liberal approved lifestyles -- no car for you -- has to be enticing.
The situation is even worse than in the case of “Nuclear Winter” in that the scientists who are telling us the we’re all doomed due to Climate Change stand to gain lots of money, fame, and power so long as they continue to predict doom.
If they started saying “Well it looks like there’s a chance we might have a minor climate problem in 50 years,” their funding would dry up. After all who ever heard of a climate scientist if that scientist hasn’t either declared the Earth is about to freeze or the Earth is about to melt and it’s all the fault of greedy middle class Americans? End the threat of doom and climate science goes back to the backwater it’s always been.
Even if the fake “97% of scientists believe in Global Warming” mantra were true and there were no conflicts of interest, it wouldn’t mean anything. For decades there was essentially only one scientist who believed in continental drift -- that large land masses were moving around on the surface of the Earth due to plate tectonics -- yet he turned out to be right and all the geologists who said he was wrong were shown to be wrong.
Feynman makes the same point above; people’s opinions don’t matter in science, the final judge is the data. That applied to continental drift and nuclear winter and it applies to Global Warming too.
We do need more climate research because the Earth may be warming due to normal and purely natural processes but irrespective of the cause knowing what is likely to happen will allow intelligent discussions about what, if anything, should be done.
But we don’t need carbon taxes and the resulting destruction of the middle class to fight a problem that no knows for sure exists.
You can read more of Tom’s rants at his blog, Conversations about the obvious and feel free to follow him on Twitter