Climate Change Is Just a Theory

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Stop Plate Tectonics, one of my favorite T-shirts

So the United States has announced it's withdrawing from the Paris Accord, the international agreement with nonbinding measures to mitigate the effects of climate change. Now everyone's up in arms, speaking in exasperated tones about the travesty of this decision. "But...but...the science," they say. Yeah, let's talk about science.

Is science really all it's cracked up to be?

One of the most important facts about science is that you can never absolutely prove anything with it. Let's take gravity as an example. Isaac Newton is famous for that whole apple falling out of the tree thing and his "law of universal gravitation." The apple falls. He writes an equation. And introductory physics students are punished for centuries.

But he could be wrong. What if a skydiver jumps out of a plane and never hits the ground? That's the end of gravity. All it takes is one case of something not following the scientific idea — whether hypothesis, theory, or law — and that idea is dead. That's how science works.

In fact, I just saw an article on Twitter the other day about a surprisingly large number of skydivers who have been reported as missing because they jumped out of the plane and that's the last anyone saw of them. I think Earth now has, in addition to the ozone layer, a skydiver layer. That's my "theory." (Or is it an alternative fact? I get those confused sometimes.)

Who gave scientists such an exalted position in the world anyway? We're talking about people who could be arrested for indecent exposure (Archimedes), are self-confessed trespassers and safe crackers (Richard Feynman), and who were illegal emigrants (all those Jewish scientists who escaped Nazi Germany). These are people so vain they've got at least five different varieties of "Luxuriant Hair Clubs."

The Luxuriant Hair Club for Scientists, brought to you by the Annals of Improbable Research

Climate change is just a theory

This conspiracy is so deep it goes all the way back to 1827, when the French scientist and mathematician Joseph Fourier made up the idea of a so-called "greenhouse effect." Well, I don't think he called it that, but that's what he did. He of course tried to confuse everyone by using fancy math and calculating things that ought just to be left alone.

But hey, Fourier was a Frenchman. He probably had the Paris Accord in mind when he did that work, knowing that the United States would need to brought to its knees right about now.

Now we have all those scientists working on climate change. And I can tell you for a fact (straight-up, not alternative), not all of them would qualify for the The Luxuriant Flowing Hair Club for Scientists™ (LFHCfS). Just take a look at the pate of that Michael Mann guy. If he spent more time sawing lumber instead of counting tree rings or playing hockey instead of graphing hockey sticks, he might have kept some of that hair he used to have. (He'd probably have fewer fingers and teeth, though.)

The climate change hockey stick graph

It's just a mass piling-on of all the scientists out there now. They're calculating and compiling and combobulating all the data they can find to corroborate their "theory of climate change."

You know what happens when a lot of scientists work on one thing? Bad things happen! Think about it. Remember the Manhattan Project? A lot of the world's best scientists (including the trespassers, safe crackers, and illegal emigrants mentioned above, but no flashers as far as I know) got together and invented nuclear weapons. Now we've got a crazy guy with a bad haircut who could send them to kill millions of people any time he gets the urge.

The reality of science

OK, clearly what I wrote above is over the top. (Or is it so clear? It's getting hard to tell these days.) Science has led to a lot of amazing accomplishments over the past couple of millennia, especially since the Industrial Revolution.

And here's how science really works. When you throw out a crazy idea (e.g., not all skydivers fall to the ground), that's a hypothesis. It's not a theory. Not even close. For something to be called a theory, it's got to have some significant experimental evidence behind it. And it has to be something that leads to new predictions that can be tested. As scientists continue to find supporting evidence and refine the theory, it eventually becomes a scientific law.

That's how science works. In the case of climate change, we have huge masses of evidence — literally, in the case of the disappearing Arctic sea ice and the collapsing Antarctic ice shelf. When the vast majority of scientists who work in this field agree that climate change is real and the main opposition is political, science wins. Well, it should anyway.

The US is certainly free to leave the Paris Accord and abdicate its leadership role in this important realm. It won't help us, though. And it certainly won't help us do what needs to be done to battle the very real problem of climate change.

I'll end by quoting Neil deGrasse Tyson again: "The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it."

 

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Comments

They cannot explain why the eastern coast of Antarctica the snow depth is growing but the western coast the snow and ice is diminishing.

It is obvious that anarticia is moving from the left back to the right. It is Mother Natures way of correcting problems.

First snow fall doesn't prove or disprove climate science. Snow comes from moisture in the air and cold. In simplistic terms, the warmer the air, the more moisture it holds. Next add circulation. It doesn't rain (or snow) in the same place. This is weather. But the words climate change means that the climate, our air mass surrounding the earth is becoming different. If you look outside, what you see is weather, when you track the changes in moisture, wind, warmth, cold over a long period of time you are tracking (local) climate. Why are you complaining about the 85% increase in downpours in New England since 1900?

Please provide source for this statement.

Humans change the environment. It is what we do as a species. We all like our tools. The tool of a real scientist is Baconian experimentation. Carefully controlled experiments to determine causality. Noticing that ice melts tells you nothing about causation. But don't worry you are not the only one to fall into the trap. The professor down the hall recently gave a paper on the effect of global warming on the peach crop. Turns out the early freeze last year in Georgia froze most of the peach crop. Yep. I'm not a denier, just a true skeptic. And I know science when I see it, and when I don't. Check out the global warming web sites and ask yourself where is the science based on Baconian experimentation.

Thank you for inserting some humor today. Your blog was a simple explanation about science theories.

You had me scared for a moment.
Where does it stop? Does this make America great again? It only leads to make my state, my county, my city, my district, my street, my family; make me great again and people gobble it up. Not everything the needs to be left or right or even centered. I think the government should actually work hard to find ways on important issues to satisfy the extremes on both sides. This will not be easy, no matter how smart someone thinks they are.

"But what if the policy prescriptions of the Paris politicians are wrong? Or, what if the cure is worse than the disease?

Presumably, the agreement is supposed to improve the lives of real-world human beings by improving their standards of living.

If this is true, then, the Paris agreement must accomplish several things:

1. It must rely on good science about the climate.

2. It must accurately predict the effects of climate change on standards of living.

3. It must endorse public policies that will do something to mitigate the negative effects of climate change on standards of living.

4. It must demonstrate that these public policies will in fact mitigate the effects of climate change.

5. The agreement must demonstrate that the costs of the proposed public policies themselves are lower than the costs of the climate change.

If the Paris agreement fails to do any of these things, it should be rejected. If the net effect of the agreement is to make people poorer, then the agreement is of no value."

https://mises.org/blog/studying-climate-doesnt-make-you-expert-economics...

JC,
With honest respect for your opinion, can anyone prove that getting out of the agreement would save the anything. Possibly the idea that this will save jobs is a "hoax". You can never prove anything to everyone, you can fool some of the people all of the time.

I doubt these standards have been applied to any law or treaty in history.

How does anyone know what the standard of living will be decades from now. Then predict what strategy will be used when sea level raises several feet. Will people decide to raise their cities or abandon them? The cost will depend on when the decision is made. How do you estimate the cost of abandoning cities or where they will go? Does the decision get made only after a hurricane destroys the city? No one can accurately predict that?

When a fire is burning thru a neighborhood you don't stop and calculate if the cost of fighting the fire is worst than letting it burn. We need accurate predictions to know how many homes may get burned. Nothing can be done if the numbers aren't accurate. I've seen water added to large fires and that fire kept burning. Exactly how much water are you asking us to use and are you certain the fire will be out. We can't do anything until this has all been worked out and agreed upon by everyone. Bob at the end of the block says his water pressure can't get impacted during all of this. It's unethical to diminish his quality of life.

When I look at these types of agreements I see that they're based on assumptions that are wildly speculative. For example the effects of AGW are indeed educated guesses. How do you assign a cost to the various scenarios? You can't. The gov't sure a hell can't. I mean if a gov't can't manage an economy or foreign policy why would we have any faith in their ability to determine an accurate cost basis for AGW events that occur decades or centuries into the future? Gov't tells us all sorts of scary things that are simply not true (i.e. Fear of communism, chemical weapons, impending ice ages). Are we just going to blindly let the gov't throw our money towards the politically favored to find a solution?

What does it change? How people look at America, the country that invented the solar panel. It is alright for the U.S. leading in waste per person, wars in other countries, but not in climate change. Economics? Germany and China produce more solar panels then the U.S. Job? Economic value? Alternative energy employs 5 times as many people as coal, yet makes up a smaller slice of the energy pie. Jobs? Coal, just the sludge is so toxic it can make thousands of acres a wasteland in minutes. It takes a minute turn burn a pound of coal, a solar panel will work for 25+ years. Economics? Jobs? Clean air, land and water? Leadership? Thinking of the future? Those should be what we look at. We don't need the Paris agreement, but it does show the world that we think about more than immediate profit or the electoral base.

You''re spot on. Well said.

Harry,

I wouldn't confuse clean air/water/land with climate change. They're not the same.

The real question is whether climate change is manmade or a cyclical event occurring over millenia.

That's only a question if you believe politicians are more credible over scientists in regards to a scientific subject.

It's both but right now the problem is the result of humans. The factors outside of human intervention have decreased and human interactions have increased.

Climate change has been occurring long before mankind existed on planet Earth, so climate change is naturally cyclic. Mankind's actions do affect weather patterns in some cases, but not much differently than other indigenous animals on planet Earth. Clearing a forest to plant crops does no more to regional weather patterns than does a family of beavers turning a forest into a lake which dries up and becomes a meadow. So yes; we need to be more responsible in how we affect regional weather.

As far as global climate, we are part of nature and we are subject to nature. We are not in control of nature and we'd better start focusing on working with natural changes in climate. Yes; the Earth is continuing to warm. After a few hundred year stall in global warming that ended in the Nineteenth Century, the Earth is back on track to warm up again. This means that fresh water is being released from polar ice sheets and put back into the planet's water cycle. Yes, coastal regions are going to flood, just as they have in the past. Arid desert areas are going to be covered in vegetation and there will be more fresh water throughout the world; just as it has been in the past. There are many more benefits to global warming than there are downsides, so let's start looking to the future with optimism instead of whining about something we have no control over.

We used to believe the the clergy had the highest moral resistance to corruption. We discovered they were mere men. Now it's the scientist that we believe has the highest resistance to corruption. I don't buy it. There are a few thousand skeptical scientists who remain mum about opposition to group think because they could lose grants, publishing opportunity, tenure, and employment. "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!"

Science is politicized

You're entirely correct; scientists, like clergy and CEOs and engineers, are just human, and all may be corruptible. However, consider the weight of the evidence. Sea levels are rising (ask the Mayor of Miami who has spent tax monies to raise road levels), we've had 15 of the hottest years eve measured, more precipitation is coming down in heavy doses (think Houston), we're seeing more floods and drought than ever before (consistent with predictions), the oceans are measuring warmer, lake ice in North America is thawing sooner (where it happens in northern states and Canada), most glaciers are shrinking, early spring snowpacks out west have declined since the 1950's, growing seasons are longer throughout the plains, bird wintering ranges have moved north, leaf and bloom dates recorded by Thoreau in Walden have shifted in that area, insect populations that used to have one egg-larva-adult cycle in the summer now have two, the list goes on and on. I could believe that a few scientists are faking data -- that certainly happens. But all of this? That the guys measuring air temperature are in cahoots with those looking at glaciers and both are conspiring with those looking at lake ice thawing and those measuring growing seasons? Really?

I am a considerable skeptic when it comes to the morality of any member of mankind when it comes to money. It was my skepticism of leaders of organized religions that caused me to doubt an intelligent creation of the Universe when I was younger. That doubt caused me to do a lot of theological study, which has brought me to the understanding that an intelligent design and creation of the Universe is the only thing that makes any logical or rational sense. I treat the issue of climate change the same and there is no logic or rationality to any claims by those who are promoting that mankind is driving the nature of the Universe. At best, man can minimally imitate nature's abilities. We certainly cannot control the climate of the world, no matter how much money is scammed from citizens of the world.

No one is disputing that the Earth is warming and that with fresh water being released from polar ice, that sea levels are rising. This has been occurring for thousands of years since the beginning of the decline of the last Ice Age, which the Earth is still experiencing. What climate fear mongers are doing to justify their claims is only taking data from the time of a short period of global cooling that occurred but a few hundred years ago. The Earth has been a lot warmer than it is now, and when the Earth was warmer, it was better for all life on Earth. Just because people live in parts of the world that were once under water and will again be under water does not constitute mass hysteria. The Earth's climate is determined by the nature of the Universe and is not controlled by mere mankind. We are not gods. We need to focus on living with natural changes rather than waste trillions of dollars pretending we can control the Universe.

We're not just wondering if global warming exists but if it is caused by man or Mother Nature. This world is very old mother nature doesn't give a flying rat's ass

Maybe our taxes will decrease since our gov't will not be sending over 90 plus billion tax payer' a dollars over sea.

'FASTER Than the SPEED of LIGHT'

A scientist was bewildered when he considered all previous scientist statements that the speed of light was so fast. He thought, maybe it wasn't fast at all?

Everywhere you look and can see there is light... where you can't see there is darkness. So (if you are a scientist) it's not a big leap to suggest that darkness is faster than light, because darkness is everywhere the light is not.

Man isn't known for getting much of anything right. I would hold out hope that there is something much more intelligent than man... there is a limitless universe and a flaming rock in the sky that they all take for granted.

If that flaming rock in the sky burns out, global warming will be an after thought. If you still have doubts there's this:

You know what happens just after a fire reaches it's hottest point?

It goes out.

Dr.Bailes You seem to have forgotten the old Chinese Proverb"A Fool and a Wiseman are indistinguishable until one of them opens his mouth,or PC as the case may be.
See you in Seatle or has it already been cancelled?

Allison, I would like to trim down your article to 3 paragraphs and put it out in our newsletter. I can give you credit or not. Let me know if that's ok. Can send you a draft if you want.

Allison
Bailes

I sent you an email, Colin.

Don't know much about the Paris Accord, but I had a Honda Accord for many years and it was one of the best cars I ever owned!

Is this a sarcasm on Trump or a serious article offering an alternative view point? because I never came across a case where sky drivers vanished in the thin air and green house effect seems to be a reality with changing weather patterns and melting of ice at the poles.

Allison
Bailes

Sorry, Ron. It seems maybe you got frustrated and quit reading before you got to the last section. If you'll read that, it should be clear.

Allison, one thing that your article fails to establish is context. Sure you mentioned the Paris Accord, though you did not mention that the terms for the United States were written by - guess who? - the United States. But the THEORY of human induced climate change is *nothing* without the context of the evolution of modern industrialized society. Far too many news articles focus on changing/evolving weather patterns as justification for what we choose to call "Climate Change", and in that very narrowly defined arena we get countless counter-arguments of "simply changing weather patterns" and James Inhofe brings a snowball into the Senate chambers. Almost none of them establish the context of the rise in fossil fuel energy consumption over time. The fact is that the "hockey stick" that you mention is now well documented to exactly correlate with the rise of the Industrial Age and the increased use of fossil fuels. Or we could say, "human-induced climate change is directly related to, and in fact a by-product of, the human-induced Industrial Age". Any argument for the theory of climate change without mentioning the exact parallel with the rise of the Industrial Age and the corollary for the accelerated use of fossil fuels to fuel that Industrial Age (hence rising CO2 levels) is like arguing if the dress is blue & black or white & gold. I think many news organizations purposefully leave out context because they love to see people arguing and it gives them one more reason to do another story on it, instead of simply settling the argument with historical context and moving on. http://www.globalchange.gov/sites/globalchange/files/styles/resource_ima...

I don't think any rational person is denying that climate change occurs or that the Earth is continuing its warming trend after a brief cooling off period over a few hundred years. The question that has not been at all supported by any scientific means is whether or not mankind has had a global affect on climate. There is no doubt that we have a local affect. Cities create a different local climate than the forests that were cut down to make room for them just as meadows created by beaver activity creates a different local climate than the forests and then lakes that once covered those areas. So far, science does support that the vast amount of money wasted on man's attempt to control nature has shown no impact, positive or otherwise, on other than local environs.

Allison
Bailes

Robin, it sounds like your mind is made up but if you're interested in reading what the science actually says, there are numerous resources available. The EPA website used to have a good explanation for nonscientists but the new crew in Washington has scrubbed it of what we really know about the causes of climate change. The NASA website, however, still has good info and is a good place to start.

https://climate.nasa.gov/causes

And of course, if you really want to dive into the science, you have to go to the of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. They've found there's a 95% probability that what we've done here just over the past 50 years has changed the climate.

https://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/ch9s9-7.html

You wrote, "The question that has not been at all supported by any scientific means is whether or not mankind has had a global affect on climate." It's clear to anyone who actually understands the science that that's just not true and only people who give more weight to politics than science would say something like that.

Are you kidding? Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas and human industrial society has emitted carbon dioxide through combustion... ergo humans have a role in global warming.

The only thing that makes up my mind are results. None of the dire predictions over the past 50 years have come close to resulting in the prediction made. Even when the environmental industry altered the data for their climate models, their claimed results just did not occur. Mankind is simply not as important a factor as the environmental industry claims we are. As I stated, mankind has definitely caused environmental issues that have mostly had an adverse affect on mankind. For this reason alone, we should be responsible about our energy usage and simply reduce our pollution to the lowest we can without destroying ourselves in the process. The only real scientific facts we have are 50 years of claims that cannot be substantiated. The world has not burned up. Storm activity globally has actually lessened over the past few decades. The oceans have not risen a fraction of what has been predicted.
We need to focus on working with nature rather than being so arrogant as to believe we have control over nature. We are tenants of the Universe, not the designers of it.

NASA is supplemented by the government

Allison
Bailes

Robin, I see you've now shifted the argument from anthropogenic causes of climate change to the predictions of climate change. At the same time you've changed the stakeholders you're attacking from scientists to the "environmental industry." And again you're still wrong. I'm not sure what dire predictions you're talking about, but perhaps they're the fictional ones from movies.

Yes, there will always be those who look to the worst case scenarios, but with climate modeling scientists look at ranges of potential outcomes from their climate models. The Earth is a complex system and climate scientists are still tuning the models. As we gather more data about what's actually happening, we can home in on better predictions.

Here's an article from Forbes magazine about the predictions of the first climate model from 50 years ago.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/startswithabang/2017/03/15/the-first-climat...

And here's one from Scientific American about how climate scientists have been too conservative with their predictions.

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/climate-science-predictions-p...

You wrote that the "only thing that makes up my mind are results," but you didn't cite a single one. Instead, you just talked in generalities and parroted the empty rhetoric of those who deny the science of climate change.

From the Forbes Article: Since the 1880's CO2 has doubled and the increase in temperature is about 1 Deg C. Ok, So what? How old is the earth? 130 years of data is almost useless when we have recorded history of what, 5000 years? Yes, Greenland used to be green, so chances are it was warmer in the past. This is why the hysteria about man made climate change is not reasonable, because we do not have enough data to understand the cycles of the climate. The current "pause" in temperature rising, current low activities of solar activity, and other variables could cause much more impact than CO2. Building science is quite valid in order to be efficient and use resources effectively. Evidence climate change is real: people who are fervent apostles of it actually adapt to standards of living that do not include private jets and mega mansions. Something else to look for: homes on the ocean are declining in value due to sea levels rising. Miami beach, Malibu and Hawaii oceanfront land has never been more expensive.

Thank you Scott. I have too much respect for Allison to get into a spitting match with him over something that there is simply too little data to positively determine, too much corruption and money involved for those who support that mankind can affect and control global weather to any significant amount all while ignoring so many other factors such as solar winds, Sun spot activity and even the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere, which is never a part of any of the seriously flawed climate models. Rationality and a quick comparison of predictions and claims over the past 40 years are enough proof that those costing the world trillions of dollars over global warming and climate change rhetoric have simply devised a massive way to con taxpayers worldwide into providing money for agendas that have nothing to do with helping humanity or saving the environment. While mankind certainly does do harm to itself regionally by polluting our local areas, the Earth has no fear of destruction from mere mortals. Still, I prefer not to get on Allison's bad side by attempting to have a rational conversation about the environmentalism industry.

Allison !! A serious question. I've read that because CO2 has a lower specific heat then other primary gases (Nitrogen/Oxygen) in the atmosphere when an additional amount CO2 is introduced to a volume of air inside say a greenhouse the temperature actually drops.

Instead the real culprit for rising global temperatures is water vapor and other chemical compounds. The argument is that with regards to CO2 correlation isn't causation.

Allison
Bailes

JC, that's not a valid test of global warming. The greenhouse effect does not actually apply to greenhouses. It's containing the heated air that heats greenhouses, not trapping of heat by gases. It's unfortunate that this effect is poorly named because it leads to just this kind of confusion.

Yes, water vapor and other greenhouses gases play a big role. But water vapor, unlike CO2, acts as a negative feedback mechanism, too, because as the atmosphere heats and more water vapor enters the air, we also have more clouds, which reflect heat. Other gases, like some of the blowing agents used in some foam insulation products, have much higher global warming potential but less overall effect than CO2 because of their much lower concentrations.

CO2 concentrations have increased dramatically since the start of the Industrial Revolution. Here are the famous data from Mauna Loa, Hawaii for the period 1958 to 2017.

Carbon dioxide concentration as measured at Mauna Loa, Hawaii, 1958-2017

Climate modeling confirms it's the primary culprit.

Thanks Allison.

Addressing climate change should be more about risk management. We put up guard rails for that 1% chance that it will avert a disaster, therefore a 95% chance of climate extremes should necessitate a significant response to a global risk. Actuaries for banks and insurance companies already incorporate the rising impact of climate change into their balance sheets.

Prominent climate skeptics like Jerry Taylor are changing their minds after they take an honest look at the scientific debate from both sides. Many politicians are quietly conceding to the facts.

As long as conservatives try to perpetuate a false concept under the false pretense that the science is a "liberal idea", they will inadvertently be excluding themselves from the much larger discussion, "how can we best address climate change?"

Conservatives sounded the climate change alarm in the late '70's and liberals listened and took up the cause. The biggest mistake Gore made in narrating his documentaries was not cohosting with a Republican to ensure the scientific debate stayed non-partisan.

As long as we are tossing around fabricated statistics, there is a 100% chance that climate is going to occur and 0% that mankind can do to control climate on a global scale. Yes, mankind does affect regional climate by some of the things we do. Ironically, the largest affect on climate from mankind is due to large cities where most of those who believe we are able to control global climate as if we were some sort of little gods responsible for the "nature" of climate.
It is unfortunate that all of the environmentalist organizations that worked so hard to get us to "clean up our collective act" that was mostly affecting mankind in certain regions of the world, have turned into the politically motivated environmentalist industry it is today. "Give a hoot; don't pollute!" is still good advice coming from an "owl". That "other Al" made a billion by deceiving naive, liberal minded folk who want to do what is good.
There is no reason for mankind to demonize the most abundant, inexpensive and proven energy materials to be spending trillions of dollars funneling tax money into Progressive political campaigns through extremely costly and ineffective alternative energy sources. No matter what energy source we use, there is going to be an environmental impact from it. We need to focus on making what have the most of and are the most familiar with, more efficient so we pollute less. We need to give a hoot, not our loot.

If you're interested in doing something about it, here are two resources:

1) Citizensclimatelobby.org is tens of thousands of people who are urging Congress to put a price on carbon fuels (because when something's more expensive, we use less). They couple this with a dividend: the money collected is returned to all households in equal shares, which builds jobs and the economy.

2) Paul Hawken looked at what will actually make a difference. Harvesting wind energy, changing agriculture (and reducing food waste which has tremendous embodied energy), and even family planning will help us cut our CO2. drawdown.org

Why in the world would we want to raise the cost of energy by redistributing money from the most predominant energy sources we have to pie in the sky energy sources that cost a lot more to produce and create a lot more environmental issues due to the production of the products used? Why not continue to focus on making the energy sources we have even better and the products we use energy for more energy efficient?

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