Saturday, November 28, 2009

Falsification and science

Karl Popper -- widely regarded as one of the greatest philosophers of science of the 20th century -- claimed that only statements which are falsifiable can be considered scientific. So, a theory should be considered scientific if and only if it is falsifiable.

Now, consider global warming -- er, climate change. By Popper's definition, global warming cannot be science since its claims are unfalsifiable. The so-called science of global warming cannot be contradicted. Even evidence that obviously refutes its claims is disregarded -- the evidence is already incorporated into global warming.

At its most absurd, show that temperatures are going down and the adherents of global warming say that the lower temperatures are the result of global warming. It's almost Marxian in its nonsense.

In the end, global warming is something other than science. For many, it's another means to destroy man. For others, it's the ploy that will lead to riches. And for the politicians, it's one more crisis that can't go to waste.

note: Even while the global warmists are playing the adult masses, the public schools are indoctrinating the next generation. (HT LewRockwell.com)

12 comments:

Paul said...

Jim:

It seems to me that there is a class of things which may not rise to the standard of "scientific theories" which nonetheless merit investigation and study. What's happening in our global climate system would be one of those.

Perhaps the issues is the semantics - and that you have no problem with the investigation of the hypothesis that human activity is having an effect on the global climate system, but that there has not been enough information captured and knowledge developed to cause a theory to be formed.

I agree with you that there is no proof that human activity can cause global climate change. I suspect that it can, but there are also natural processes of massive scale which bring changes of a scale and rapidity far out of the reach of mankind (e.g. magnetic pole shift, sunspots).

The real world challenge is what to do in presence of observable changes in the absence of scientific certainty. It's not easy - not everyone will agree on a course of action, and the possibilities range from do nothing to martial law and beyond.

I did a survival exercise once, and one of the lessons was that often a group will make a inferior decision to an expert. More opinions does not help - in fact it makes things worse. The group process yields an inferior result.

The challenge is for the group to identify who is the true expect, and then to agree to follow the expert's recommendations. It strikes me that this is the problem with so-called global warming: we don't know who to declare as being the expert, and even if we could identify and agree who the expert might be, we might not agree to follow the expert's recommendations.

Anonymous said...

I prefer not to follow experts. Like a lemming. And I do not dialogue to consensus.

Anonymous said...

"It seems to me that there is a class of things which may not rise to the standard of "scientific theories" which nonetheless merit investigation and study. What's happening in our global climate system would be one of those."

This is EXACTLY the problem. The class of things you speak of is "phenomena that some scientists and entrepreneurs can use to enrich themselves". But climate change does not merit the kind attention being paid to it because the cycles of warming and cooling are well known, and we're currently entering a cycle of cooling. The planet was coming out of the last maunder minimum in the 20th century so, naturally the earth was warming again (note "again"). That warming stopped in 1998, stayed flat for the next three years, and now has begun to decrease.

The "400,000 Year CO2-Temperature Correlation" data--irrefutable data sampled from Arctic ice cores show no correlation between high (or increasing) CO2 levels and temperature. In fact, atmospheric CO2 levels during the Ice Age were many times what they are now. These data have been very well known for a very long time. But they're inconvenient now to the hysterics.

Anonymous said...

If you actually look at the data there is no cooling since 1998. There are individual data points that are lower than others but the general trend is still rising.

Paul said...

We don't fully understand the global climate system, and so further research is certainly warranted. Until we understand which inputs are significant, neither do we understand which ones are not.

In particular, it would be helpful to understand if the global climate system has 'tipping points' at which the rate of change accelerates. Tipping points are very common in nature: the surface tension of a liquid allows potential energy to be built up until the surface tension is broken, allowing the rate of energy release to spike momentarily (think what happens when a glass of water is slowly tipped). Or the potential energy stored in the San Andreas fault until some coefficient of friction is exceeded, causing the stored energy to be released in an earthquake.

There are very likely many such tipping points in the global climate system. And it could be that there are certain human activities which could trip one of more them.

Seems like something worth investigating.

Anonymous said...

"If you actually look at the data there is no cooling since 1998. There are individual data points that are lower than others but the general trend is still rising.
1:17 PM"

I do look at the data and there has been no WARMING since 1998. The trend is that global temperatures are beginning to lower.

"In particular, it would be helpful to understand if the global climate system has 'tipping points' at which the rate of change accelerates."

Wrong. There have historically been no "tipping" points. This has been borne out in all paleoclimate studies. There are cycles. Period. In other words, accumulation of CO2 does not drive climate--that's the Al Gore hysteria/huckster trick (buy now because this deal will never be offered again!). Climate is not driven from within, rather it is drive by solar radiation. Period. To add logic to your otherwise illogical premise, the glass doesn't tip itself. An external force has to do it.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if I can include a link to temperature plots but here it is and they clearly show that the trend is still warming.

http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs/

Paul said...

"No tipping points" - how can you assert that? Tipping points abound in nature. But let's be clear on the definition: a tipping point occurs when there has been a linear change in an input to a system, but the changes in output are non-linear. In particular, in cases where for a time the output seem not to change (much) in response to an input, but periodically a significant response occurs.

This happens when rivers suddenly carve out a new channel (as the Mississipi was prone to do prior to the construction of many levies), or when an electron is finally pulled free from an atom. Remember 'latent heat' from high school chemistry?. Isn't lightning a vivid example of a tipping point?

Come to think about it - nature seems to be all about tipping points.

Jim Fedako said...

re. a tipping point:

That is one loaded term when used in conjuction with global warming.

Yes, there are tipping points in nature. But there has never been one with regard to climate.

The proof: The earth did not boil or freeze over.

Anonymous said...

"Come to think about it - nature seems to be all about tipping points."

"tipping points" exist in discreet ecosystems, yes. For example, accumulated ash from coal mining turning a stream or river too acidic over time where fish die. There is a "tipping point" of PH in which fish can no longer survive. But we're talking about the entire biosphere. Take that same stream, down stream a few miles and the PH has normalized. The acidity was buffeted by opposing chemistry introduced by solution-dilution (rain/other ambient moisture), oxygenation (alkaline offset), and other environmental factors.

The earth is a dynamic of buffers and amplifiers that adjust to each other to bring equilibrium or stasis. Just as in physics every action brings about a reaction, or in chemistry you study thermodynamic entropy, biological and environmental science focuses on equilibrium in the form of evolution. Nature evolves. It adapts and eventually assimilates all that is introduced to it--even the hostile. It was this achievement of relative balance through evolution that supported the origins of life eons ago (I'm not referring about "big E" Evolution--Darwin's theory--but natures reaction to adversity).

"Tipping points" are not a bioshperic phenomena. The closest you may come to that is an external extermination event, like a meteor hitting the earth. Maybe "nuclear winter" if you want to assign a man-made cataclismic event (though just in theory, thank goodness). It would have to be an enormous, discreet, catastrophic event. But tipping points do not occur incrementally on an earth-wide level. Case in point: suppose CO2 levels increase...that just means that trees grow taller, longer, and more plentiful--even considering deforestation; the "green seasons" of spring and summer are extended with grass and trees being active longer to keep pumping millions of cubic tons of oxygen into the air to buffer the increased CO2. Balance is therefore achieved. The environmental hysterics crowed that the Alaska pipeline would decimate the ecosystems it cut through, but nature found a way to not only adjust to it, but to assimilate it's attribute of providing heat in the winter. Caribou and other herbivore populations have tripled in the areas where the pipeline exists and, nature then introduced more offsets in the form of increased numbers of predators, like hawks and eagles, wolves and bears. Entropy and stasis were thus achieved. The earth constantly adjusts and creates offsets to achieve entropy.

And anyone who understands environmental science understands the "hole in the ozone" nonsense, which was discovered in the 1930's--before the height of the industrial revolution. It's simply the conversion of unstable CO3 (ozone) back to CO2 (air) in the absense of intense radiation in the ionisphere. CO3 is thickest along the equator--big surprise!, and thinnest--even absent, thus the "hole--where there is the least solar radiation (6 months of darkness at the poles--hello? is it just a coincidence that the hole exists only at the poles? why not over those countries with the worst pollution? why isn't there a hole over China?). Simple science and logic has been hijacked by the hysterics.

I'm still waiting for the WHO to declare DDT to be non-carcinogenic, which was proven years ago. But that would interfere with their population control agenda, so I won't hold my breath.

Anonymous said...

You example of CO2 balance is only true if nature can adapt as quickly as man releases sequestered CO2.

The fact is deforestation is happening much quicker than increased growing zones and tree size.

There is also concerned about how much CO2 the surface elements (trees, etc.) can sequester. We are moving CO2 from deep within the Earth to the Earth's surface. That is an unnatural act.

Anonymous said...

"You example of CO2 balance is only true if nature can adapt as quickly as man releases sequestered CO2."

What part of "nature puts more CO2 into the atmosphere in a year than mankind has released in history"? You're misconception is one of sheer scale. You simply cannot comprehend man's (puny) influence against the sheer complexity of nature or scale of the earth. sorry.

"The fact is deforestation is happening much quicker than increased growing zones and tree size." That was true 20 years ago. Not now. There are actually more trees in the United States now than there were fifty years ago. Difficult to believe, but true.

"There is also concerned about how much CO2 the surface elements (trees, etc.) can sequester. We are moving CO2 from deep within the Earth to the Earth's surface. That is an unnatural act." How so, in what form, and on what scale?

But, to humor your claim this means you claim that the thousands of volcanic eruptions that happen daily around the world are unnatural; that the thousands of tons of methane and sulfur miasma (bubbles of swamp, lake and underground stream gas from rotting, bottom dwelling organic matter) released daily is unnatural.

But, to use the hysterics own numbers against them they claim that, actually, water vapor is the most influential of the greenhouse agents. Water vapor is 99.999% of natural origin (simple addition shows that man's contribution is .001%). All other greenhouse gasses (CO2, methane, sulfur, nitrous oxide, others) account for less than 3% of atmospheric gas COMBINED. So, the numbers don't even make sense--and that's using their own numbers!

...again--your issue is one of concept regarding size and scale, with no understanding of relativity between man's affect on earth vs. nature's affect on earth. I don't mean this to come off as condescending--that's not my intent--but there's the issue, nonetheless.