It's Not Magic
Writings of a techie wizard
Thu, 16 Jan 2014
It's been obvious for quite some time, at least to anyone not marinated in the ideology of climate change alarmism, that the models being used to produce the IPCC's forecasts of doom do not match reality. But now it's become so glaring that even the IPCC itself has admitted it in the Summary for Policymakers (SPM) from Working Group I for its Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) (hat tip: Watts Up With That ).
Actually, of course, "admitted it" is optimistic phrasing: a more apt description would be "attempted to pretend nothing is actually wrong". You have to look carefully to see the admissions; for example, as noted in the Watts Up With That post, one is in a footnote on p. 14 of the SPM (and in a font small enough that I had to zoom in to read it on my computer). Also, there is no discussion that I can find of a key point that is often overlooked when comparing the climate models to reality: the different model projections are based on different assumptions about how much CO2 will be emitted in the future, and actual CO2 emissions thus far have been similar to the most pessimistic set of models (i.e., the ones that assumed the most CO2 emissions), which have overpredicted actual temperatures significantly more than the average of all the models, which is what is usually quoted when comparing the models to actual observations. So the IPCC's admissions still don't fess up to the full extent of the problem: the model predictions are even worse than they admit.
(It's also worth noting that, despite admitting, however obliquely, that its models cannot predict future climate, the IPCC continues to fill its report with predictions of future climate. Perhaps it's force of habit.)
The IPCC report is not the only venue in which climate change alarmism is on the defensive. The Warsaw Climate Change Conference ended in November, and despite the positive spin on the conference website, the general sense was that it fell short even of somewhat limited expectations. Part of the reason for that may have been that alarmists' efforts to link any sort of adverse event to climate change have been facing increasing skepticism. The fact that the conference's educational materials lied about sea level rise, claiming that the sea level began rising in the late 1800's "for the first time since the last ice age", didn't help either. (The materials also claimed that Northern Hemisphere snow cover is decreasing, which it isn't.) And back in October, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a case challenging the EPA's regulation of CO2 emissions under the Clean Air Act.
You'd think that a bunch of people who claim to be honest scientists would feel some contrition over all this. Instead, they continue to dial up the spin. One meme which has become popular is the "Hiroshima bomb" comparison, which I referred to in a recent post. The meme has now even appeared as an app that counts the "Hiroshima bombs" of heat being added to the climate. Of course, as I showed in that recent post, these numbers don't actually amount to much at all when put in perspective (and the link above gives more numbers showing the same thing). Another common meme is "denialists are harassing us"; a good recent example is this piece in The Guardian about the case currently before the Virginia Supreme Court regarding a Freedom of Information Act request for emails from Michael Mann and other climate scientists. The Guardian's position on this is interesting:
In other words, governments shouldn't be allowed to hide information, but academics doing science under government grants (which are Federal grants, by the way, despite that bit about "state-run" institutions), science which is claimed to justify public policies with huge costs? Sure, hide all the information you want, no sweat. The author does helpfully explain why: forcing academics to openly share information would
So "free and open sharing" apparently means "not giving information to people who disagree with you". Well, it's nice to have that clarified.
But then the piece goes on to make a point that does make some sense. It quotes Michael Halpern of the Union of Concerned Scientists:
Now as a pure matter of principle, I actually agree with this--if it is limited to "internal communications and deliberations" (a distinction that is, of course, notably lacking in the article up to this point--not to mention the fact that it's notably lacking when the media is pestering the government for information, but that's another post). I'm really not interested in reading Michael Mann's private emails. I don't care what discussions he has behind closed doors or what sort of groupthink goes on in his research group--as long as it stays there.
But what I do care about, as I've said before, is scientists like Michael Mann doing bad science, then declaring a planetary emergency based on it, and then obstructing at every turn any attempt to get the details on which the science is based, to demonstrate that it's bad science. Mann hasn't just withheld private emails; he's done his best to withhold raw data, statistical methods, and anything else that could be used to check his work. And when that information finally came out, in spite of his best efforts to the contrary, it showed that his science was, in fact, bad science. Yet instead of owning up, or at least shutting up, he continues to peddle climate change alarmism.
As the recent efforts at spinning the IPCC AR5 show, this behavior is typical of climate change alarmists: the more their conclusions are discredited, the louder they shout that hey, there really is a planetary emergency--really! Cross my heart and hope to die! Why is this? Of course I telegraphed my answer in the title of this post. These are people of Heinlein's class one, who are afraid of losing their cushy position as the ones who get to tell others what to do and pronounce moral judgment on everyday activities like driving your car. If they give a crisis and nobody comes, they might have to find honest work.
Wed, 27 Nov 2013
A few weeks ago the Federal Reserve announced that it would continue "quantitative easing" at its current level. The reason, as explained in the press release just linked to (though in rather oblique language, as is the usual practice with such things), was basically that, while the economy appears to be recovering, the Fed isn't sure that it's recovering strongly enough. Which leads to the obvious next question: how much longer will this have to go on?
Fri, 25 Oct 2013
Fri, 13 Sep 2013
This news is several years old now, but I just came across the article today and I can't resist a brief comment.
The good news: videos of Richard Feynman giving his famous lectures on physics at Caltech in 1964 are available online, thanks to Bill Gates.
The bad news: if you think this means that a wonderful resource for learning about science is now open and accessible to everyone, think again. From the article:
You can take the boy out of Microsoft, but you can't take Microsoft out of the boy.
Sun, 01 Sep 2013
A recent article (via Reuters, via Hacker News) says that the US Congress should spend more time working and less time vacationing. I could go on and on about what Congress actually does when it is working, but that would go in the rants section of this blog. Here I just want to comment on one particular thing that struck me about the article.
Mon, 12 Aug 2013
(Note: there is a discussion of this post on Hacker News.)
I posted some time back that one drawback of the "cloud" is that you can't control how data you post to a "cloud" service is used. Facebook has now provided us with an even better example than the case (Instagram) I talked about in that post.
Fri, 09 Aug 2013
A while back I blogged about the Linux kernel site (not) being cracked. That is, someone had indeed cracked the server, but had not been able to do any damage because all of the files stored there were cryptographically signed in a way that could not be forged. Strictly speaking, that was not a story about how Linux itself is more secure than other operating systems; but the fact that the Linux kernel developers took such precautions certainly indicates a mindset towards security that is different from that of certain other operating systems.
Yesterday ZDNet reported on some more direct evidence of Linux's security as an operating system, not just the security of its kernel repository.
Wed, 19 Jun 2013
Thu, 25 Apr 2013
Fire Dog Lake is angry about the recent Senate vote that killed the Toomey-Manchin background check amendment to the latest gun control bill. However, the anger is not directed at the Democrats that voted against the amendment, but at those who voted for it.
Thu, 28 Mar 2013
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