Buy

Books
Click images for more details

Support

 

Twitter
Recent comments
Recent posts
Currently discussing
Links

A few sites I've stumbled across recently....

Powered by Squarespace

Discussion > Does Climate Science Exist?

There are plenty of people claiming (and believing) that they are 'climate scientists'. But in what sense does climate science exist as a subject?

I noticed the following comment on WUWT in response to Matt Ridley's words.

Theo Goodwin
June 19, 2015 at 2:05 pm

Extremely well said. There are some first rate scientists who are skeptics except for the fact that they are unwilling to be critical of the concept of climate or any of its constituent parts such as global average temperature. Let me put it this way. If you bring together all the laws and concepts found in the most popular academic texts on climate then what you have is remarkably incomplete. There is no one rigorously formulated theory that specifies the facts of climate or even a coherent subset of those facts. But everybody, consensus climate scientist or skeptic, is willing to talk about his work as a piece of the climate theory. There is no climate theory. (Why else take the desperate step of using models?)

Of course, there is radiation theory and I accept it. But it is not possible to deduce climate theory from radiation theory.

Jun 20, 2015 at 1:16 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

This is just an extension of your equally silly claim that climate science isn't a science because it has 'science' in the name. In the same way as physical science and natural science. Your or Ridley's new game is no different.

If you bring together all the laws and concepts found in the most popular academic texts on medicine/engineering/architecture/law/history (pick one) then what you have is remarkably incomplete. There is no one rigorously formulated theory that specifies the facts of medicine/engineering/architecture/law/history or even a coherent subset of those facts. But everybody is willing to talk about his work as a piece of the that theory. There is no theory.

Ridley gets paid to make himself a laughing stock (Climate Wars Bingo). Why would you do it for free?

Jun 20, 2015 at 2:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterRaff

The problen is that it IS science and is conducted as such. We're judging it with more practical eyes. We think it should be more ordered, systematic and dilligent. Science has no timescale for finding answers. There are no serious consequences for getting things wrong. It's more important to be published regularly than just get things right. They treat climate as more of an art form than a finished product that has to meet certain standards. If it isn't right, hey ho, better luck next time. They use the complexity of the issue to duck any consequences. Poiints are awarded for meaning well and trying hard.

Governments don't understand our gripes because they work in the same way.

Jun 20, 2015 at 2:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Peer review is a good example. Who in their freaking right mind would use peer review to assess the credibility of a serious issue? A process where one of the prime no noes is reproducing another's work. Where demonstrating how you arrive at you conclusions (like including your data and software) is not essential and often not included. In the real world these things are essential.

Jun 20, 2015 at 2:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Climate science exists for those who need it to. For the rest of us it's a croc of shit that needs stirring regularly so that everyone knows that it stinks.

Jun 20, 2015 at 2:48 PM | Unregistered Commenterssat

Apocalyptic claptrap policed by numbed brained true believers such as Raff, if it is veneered in sciencey talk and numbers, can sadly be considered science.
Climate science is certainly very bad science. It is failed science. It is science being used by con-artists and other parasites to enrich themselves. It is a science whose every important prediction has failed. But it is popular science believed by a majority, so for the witless and the weak, it is science.

Jun 20, 2015 at 3:24 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

Tiny, your post is no more than vague unsubstantiated accusation. Explain how the practice of climate science as a whole differs from all other sciences, not just a few examples of questionable work that excite you. And explain where anyone claims that the purpose of peer review is "to assess the credibility of a serious issue" rather than being to assess the quality of a submitted paper.

Jun 20, 2015 at 3:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterRaff

...climate science isn't a science because it has 'science' in the name...

Very good point. Quite a good indicator of a subject not actually being science is that it has the word 'science' in its name.

Like 'social science', 'domestic science', 'political science', 'economic science', 'creation science', 'relationship science'.

An anecdote:

One of my students came to visit me some years ago after transferring to a university. I asked him what his major was. He said, “physical science.” I had to ask him what that was. It turned out to be the name that the physical education department had adopted at his school. Their students weren’t P.E. majors anymore, they were “phys sci” majors.

Jun 20, 2015 at 3:53 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Martin, we went through that one once before. If you think physical science or natural science isn't science just because someone somewhere confused PS for PE then you are more of an idiot than I thought possible.

Jun 20, 2015 at 4:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterRaff

Raff calling others an idiot.
Raff wins my vote for idiocratic humor of the day prize.
But he tends to win that with every post he makes.
So he is a champion of something after all.

Jun 20, 2015 at 6:05 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

Raff, I didn't say it differed from other sciences. Just the opposite. But sciences are not a finished product, at least not in anything important. Chemicals designed by scientists are not immediately launched on the public. Medical sciences are rarely tested on humans before a whole raft of other tests are done. Sure, the latest star with a supposed planet is announced to the public but it's not like they launch a crew after it. And yes, the guys who argue about what killed the dinosaurs will present their science with no real guarantee of ever knowing the absolute truth but unless we build a time machine the answer is purely academic.

Climate science goes from the mind of climate scientists to public policy with almost no successful testing. Climate science is so raw that its basic product (global temps) doesn't even agree with itself month to month, never mind across the different sets (UAH, RSS, GISS, etc). The scientists would say they are refining it. Truth is they're just fiddling.

The consensus is a shit science's answer to having no proof. How valuable is the support of a scientist who's specialism is tree frogs or glaciers when it comes to future warming predictions? Few decision makers are aware how little work has been done on CO2 sensitivity and how few people are involved and how little they agree on, but they are getting edgy at the lack of demonstrable proof.

Jun 20, 2015 at 8:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Tiny CO2

I was under the impression that you were a scientist.

Why are you demanding "Proof"?

You know there is no such thing as proof in science.

Jun 20, 2015 at 8:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

If you think physical science or natural science isn't science just because someone somewhere confused PS for PE then you are ...(etc etc) Jun 20, 2015 at 4:56 PM Raff

Sorry Raff, I obviously did not make my point clearly enough.

The PE school clearly did not "confuse" Physical Science for their subject (PE). They knew exactly what they were doing. Their aim was to attract more students by making the title of their subject sound more impressive. They intentionally adopted the term "physical science" despite it being inappropriate for their subject.

There is a parallel here with how so-called climate scientists describe what they do as "climate science" despite its apparently not making use of the scientific method yet at the same time pretending to be more than an observational science.

Jun 20, 2015 at 9:42 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

EM, I'm an engineer, manager, safety professional who has worked on and off with scientists and while you can rarely prove anything 100%, you can get a lot closer than climate science has ever attempted. If industry requirements were applied, climate science would be shut down as unsafe. If it was a product the users would be demanding their money back. If it was a medicine it would be labelled snake oil. Only software has a similar track record of revisions and back tracks but you expect any successful program to work most of the time. Climate science has no such history of achievement and it certainly isn’t something anyone wants to buy, even if they need it.

No industry ever intentionally set out to produce a bad product or a dangerous situation but mistakes happen. Clever people get so enamoured of a concept and they ignore the warning signs. Lazy people take short cuts. Busy people think that they can save time. Finance people hate to admit that money has to be wasted because what has been done isn’t right. And people get hurt. So society places rules on businesses to try and avoid human frailty. Where are the rules for climate science? Where are the inspectors and what options do they have to punish offenders? Do we demand that climate scientists have public liability insurance in case their product hurts the public? Are those in charge of the scientists ready to accept responsibility for the work done in their institutions? Are they ready to be sued or taken to court for corporate negligence?

There are many things that could be done to climate science to improve its credibility. I won't hold my breath

Jun 20, 2015 at 10:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Perhaps the best judgement of whether it is a science or not is to apply the basic metric postulated by perhaps one of the acknowledged greatest scientific minds in recent history, Richard Feynman: to be a science it has to have replicable, repeatable proofs of its theory or theories, working on hard data – airy-fairy claims are to be discounted, hence most of the social “sciences” are discounted – and it has to be falsifiable.

On those simple premises, it is not a science.

Jun 20, 2015 at 11:43 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

Martin, let's pretend that they had known that the name "physical science" is taken and had instead used "sport science". Would you claim that this is not a subject because it has "science" in the name or because

There is no one rigorously formulated theory that specifies the facts of sport or even a coherent subset of those facts.
That would be just as ridiculous a claim as yours/Ridley's about climate science, unless you think science has no relevance to sport (and nobody can really think that).

Maybe you would be happier if they called the course "The Science Involved In Sport" or some such formulation, but Sport Science seems to encapsulate what they study quite well even though at a more detailed level it involves biochemistry, physiology, mechanics and doubtless other disciplines. Similarly, consider, say, someone who takes a degree and some post-grad qualifications in physics, goes on to model of the effects of CO2 on climate and maybe even writes some papers using paleoclimate proxy data. Few normal people would complain if he wants to call himself a physicist on the basis that he has physics qualifications; and I suspect few normal people would object or even show any interest if he calls himself a "climate scientist" on the basis that his work involves scientific study of climate. However you and the likes of Ridley, not normal people for sure, people unfamiliar with the day to day practice of the physicist's work, take an unusual interest in what name he uses. Peculiar people indeed.

Tiny, you write many words, few of which are worth a response - what you write is mainly just a series of rants. If you think it is wrong to present your "basic product", the temperature indices, without "testing", perhaps you can explain how you would "test" the indices.

I think the main product is uncertainty, in particular regarding climate sensitivity. Decades of study have not nailed that down much more closely than somewhere between 1 and 5 degrees. That might seem like a travesty but, to people who eschew knee-jerk accusation against scientists, it is alarming. The message from climate science is that warming might be benign or it might be terrible and the question is, do you feel lucky, punk?

Jun 21, 2015 at 12:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterRaff

Why are you demanding "Proof"?

You know there is no such thing as proof in science.
Jun 20, 2015 at 8:52 PM Entropic man

Oh oh - he's back. With his pettifogging schoolmasterish insistence that, if you did not use what he considers to be the correct word, then what you said is not valid.

We have had EM's sermon on "theory" vs. "hypothesis" and now we have the sermon on "proof" (vs. "evidence", presumably).

When President Obama stated (State of the Union Address 2014) "...the debate is settled. Climate change is a fact.", I think it would have come as a surprise to him if his advisers were then to have told him that proof of "climate change" does in fact not exist.

______________________________________________________________________________________

"A single experiment can prove me wrong" - A Einstein

Jun 21, 2015 at 6:08 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Martin, let's pretend that they had known that the name "physical science" is taken and had instead used "sport science". Would you claim that this is not a subject because it has "science" in the name or because (...)
Jun 21, 2015 at 12:19 AM Raff

Raff - are you joking? Of course they knew that the name "physical science" is taken. They parasited that name because it sounded more impressive.

Jun 21, 2015 at 6:43 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Scratch the surface of a climate scientist and underneath you will discover that it's worse than we thought.

Jun 21, 2015 at 7:25 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Scratch the surface of a climate scientist and underneath you will discover that it's worse than we thought.

Jun 21, 2015 at 7:28 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

"Climate science", like physics, is a broad church, with people studying the oceans, the effect of climate on wildlife, the cyrosphere, the atmosphere etc. In almost all cases they are documenting observations in order to come up with what an understanding of what nature is doing. Whether these understanding result in physical laws is a dubious proposition, but they will enable us to understand what happens when the great ocean oscillations occur, or when they will occur. They might even help us understand how increases in the cyrosphere will affect our weather, or the wildlife habitats, and what we may do about both. None of these activities (although it's not impossible) are likely to come up with the equivalent of E = MC^2.

That said there is one hypothesis that has popped out of the woodwork and that is that an increase in CO2 will result in an increase in atmospheric temperature. It even has it's own little E = MC^2 in ΔT = α ln(Tnow/To) for transient climate sensitivity and ΔT = 5.35α ln(Tnow/To) for equilibrium climate sensitivity.

This has led to a second hypothesis (if we can grace the usual work of mountebanks and charlatans with such a scientific term) that this warming will lead to catastrophic weather and climatic events.

To me at least neither of these hypotheses can be called "scientific", because the first isn't falsifiable, the TCS equation fails over short timescales (it my fail over all timescales for all I know, but over the period 1910 to 1940 temperatures should have risen by 0.025C according to my calculations, while since pre-industrial times the temperature increase should have increased by 0.285C because of the increase in CO2. The latter figure looks more plausible to me, while the former is ridiculously out as in the real world the temperature rose by 0.45C. Although the equation doesn't represent more than half of the temperature rise between 1950 and 2000 (0.14C), and doesn't seem to be used by the clisci community). The ECS equation depends on a doubling of CO2 and some centuries of waiting, so doesn't seem to be a useful metric to me.

So we have, and indeed are having, periods when CO2 increase hasn't caused an increase in atmospheric temperatures, and when little increase in CO2 has caused quite high increases in temperature over short periods.

For me the hypothesis has been falsified, but for the clisci community these are just "hiccups" and the theory stands as rock solid.

Whatever that is, it isn't science. But then I may be being confounded by my own ignorance.

Jun 21, 2015 at 7:47 AM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

EM; "Why are you demanding "Proof"?

You know there is no such thing as proof in science.."

I don't know where you're coming from, there are thousands of instances where scientific theories have been proven to be false. There is no certainty in science.

However in Engineering this lack of certainty has to be driven down to "almost" certainty else we'd never get into an aeroplane where even 5 x 9s of certainty isn't certain enough.

Jun 21, 2015 at 7:59 AM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

Raff 'do you feel lucky, punk?'

Me and the billions ignoring climate science say 'yes'. People are not interested in your product. They were for a while but then they concluded you were just like every other nutter screaming about the end of the World. After all, if you were really worried, you'd set aside your arrogance and want to know how best to improve your impact. You are here, purely as an ego trip because irritating the opposition is more important to you than reducing them. Apparently you feel lucky too.

Jun 21, 2015 at 9:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

I"ll ignore the noise, but a couple of points are worth a reply.

Geronimo

" there are thousands of instances where scientific theories have been proven to be false. There is no certainty in science."

Exactly. Which is why Tiny CO2 is in error when he demands "demonstrable proof" from the scientists studying climate.

Your calculations are interesting.

The direct calculation for forcing due to CO2 is ∆F=5.35ln (C/Co)

To derive the temperature change ∆T=lambda∆F , where lambda is the climate sensitivity. A mid range climate sensitivity would be 0.8K/w/m2, equivalent to 3K per CO2 doubling.

Ignoring other effects my own figures give from 1910-1940

∆F=5.35ln(310/290)=0.36

∆T=0.8*0.36=0.29C

Using the GISS data the change in 5 year average was from -0.46 to -0.05, an increase of 0.4C

For 1950-2012

∆F=5.35ln(395/310)=1.30

∆T= 0.8*1.36=1.04C

From GISS the actual change was -0.09 to +0.62=0.71C.

We seem to be getting very different answers.Could you show your working for comparison.

Martin A

Remember that re!activity is unproven and, at atomic scales, demonstrably wrong. Yet engineers use this unproven and incorrect hypothesis to improve the accuracy of GPS systems. ☺

Jun 21, 2015 at 12:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

Martin, maybe they knew. But tell for the scientist I described, let's call him Mike, what would you write under his name on his name tag, physicist or a climate scientist? Or something else.

Tiny, yes just gaily hoping for the best is a normal human coping strategy. We expect better from our leaders though.

Jun 21, 2015 at 1:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterRaff