Climate Alarmism Fails the Test of Observation

The Science and Environmental Policy Project produces a weekly newsletter on climate-related subjects, The Week That Was. I highly recommend subscribing to TWTW as the easiest way to keep abreast of climate news.

This week’s edition begins, not for the first time, with a famous quotation from Richard Feynman, one of the greatest of 20th Century scientists:

It doesn’t matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn’t matter how smart you are. If it doesn’t agree with experiment, it’s wrong.

The catastrophic anthropogenic global warming theory is falsified by observation, and therefore is wrong. Ken Haapala, SEPP’s President, explains. There is far more at the link, but I will try to excerpt enough to make the point comprehensible:

Ross McKitrick, Department of Economics and Finance, University of Guelph, and John Christy, Earth System Science Center, University of Alabama in Huntsville, have undertaken to identify a core hypothesis common to the climate models used by the IPCC and to test the hypothesis against the longest data set available that describes what is actually occurring.

Haapala reminds us that it was McKitrick who demonstrated that Michael Mann’s hockey stick was a hoax, because any random numbers fed into Mann’s formulas would produce–voila!–a hockey stick.

In weeding through the countless hypotheses to identify one common, major testable hypothesis, McKitrick and Christy used four criteria: measurability, specificity, independence and uniqueness.
They found: “Air temperature in the 200-300 hPa layer of the tropical troposphere meets all four test conditions, pretty much uniquely in the climate system as far as we are aware.” The 1979 Charney report and all five IPCC reports indicate that any CO2-caused warming will be amplified by an increase in water vapor, primarily over the tropics.

As you probably know, a doubling of atmospheric CO2 arguably may produce a one degree C warming, which pretty much everyone agrees would be a good thing, especially as the additional CO2 would help to green the planet. In order to get the “catastrophic” into CAGW, you have to assume something else: that this one degree warming would produce significantly more water vapor in the environment. It is this hypothetical (but unobserved) water vapor that accounts for the overwhelming majority of the warming claimed by the alarmists’ models.

This theory isn’t very plausible, since the Earth has often, in the past, been a degree warmer than it is now, and that never led to runaway warming due to increased water vapor. But back to the subject at hand:

Using three different 60-year sets of weather balloon records, they test the warming demonstrated in the models against observations. They find:

The mean restricted trend (without a break term) is 0.325 +/- 0.132ºC/decade in the models and 0.173 +/- 0.056ºC/decade in the observations. With a break term included they are 0.389ºC/decade (models) and 0.142 +/- 0.115ºC/decade (observed). Figure 4 shows the individual trend magnitudes.

The break-term is the adjustment for the PCS. During the 60 years covered, the CO2 concentration at Mauna Loa went up 29%.

As McKitrick states in his post, this finding shows that “models misrepresent a process fundamental to their usability for studying the climate impacts of greenhouse gases.” That is, the models show warming trends that are significantly greater than the observed warming – about 2.7 times the observed trend for the data sets that include the [Pacific Climate Shift] (Pacific Decadal Oscillation).

The warming bias in the models should be unacceptable for any prudent government agency, including the EPA which relies on the GCMs for its finding that CO2 endangers public health and welfare.

In most industries, if you produced calculations that were off by a factor of 2.7, you would quickly be out of a job. But government, and pro-government research, are different. Here the purpose is not to be right, but to produce alarmist reports that, amplified by uncritical news stories written by ideologically aligned journalists, justify ever-greater government control over the economy and many billions of dollars in “green” cronyism. When the whole purpose of an enterprise is corruption, truth is only an inconvenience.

Still, truth remains an annoying presence–annoying, that is, if you are a global warming alarmist. Feynman’s adage remains indisputable: a theory that is disproved by observation is worthless.


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