Wednesday, December 2, 2009

ClimateGate: The Models are for Crap!

Interesting and entertaining geek's-eye view of the software revealed by ClimateGate, starting with:
This much we have learned from the Climategate scandal: the computer models used to justify the policy proposals are for crap.

On Skepticism...

Reader and friend Doug W. passes along this link to a lecture at Cal Tech by Michael Crichton.  The lecture covers a range of issues, but largely it's an energetic defense of AGW skepticism – and the speech was given almost six years ago!  Here's an excerpt on the reliance of AGW science on computer modeling:
To an outsider, the most significant innovation in the global warming controversy is the overt reliance that is being placed on models. Back in the days of nuclear winter, computer models were invoked to add weight to a conclusion: "These results are derived with the help of a computer model."

But now, large-scale computer models are seen as generating data in themselves. No longer are models judged by how well they reproduce data from the real world-increasingly, models provide the data.

As if they were themselves a reality. And indeed they are, when we are projecting forward. There can be no observational data about the year 2100. There are only model runs. This fascination with computer models is something I understand very well.

Richard Feynmann called it a disease. I fear he is right. Because only if you spend a lot of time looking at a computer screen can you arrive at the complex point where the global warming debate now stands. Nobody believes a weather prediction twelve hours ahead. Now we're asked to believe a prediction that goes out 100 years into the future?

Stepping back, I have to say the arrogance of the model-makers is breathtaking. There have been, in every century, scientists who say they know it all. Since climate may be a chaotic system-no one is sure-these predictions are inherently doubtful, to be polite. But more to the point, even if the models get the science spot-on, they can never get the sociology. To predict anything about the world a hundred years from now is simply absurd.

Anyone who invokes Richard Feymann has my ear <smile>.

Go read the whole thing – it's still fresh and relevant after six years...

ClimateGate: Holy Moley!

Reactions to the ClimateGate revelations seem to be accelerating – and chinks in the lamestream media's nearly perfect shield are appearing.  Lots of online sources are reporting the latest events:
  • Phil Jones is temporarily stepping aside as director of the CRU.  This could be the start of a whitewash, or it could be the only way East Anglia could get Jones out of the way without a public fight – can't tell a darned thing from the skimpy press release.  But one thing's for sure: this wouldn't have happened if the university didn't believe there were problems revealed in the ClimateGate data.

  • Malcom Turnbull (leader of Australia's Liberal party and a vocal proponent of AGW mitigation measures) has been replaced by Tony Abbott (an AGW skeptic).  This happened because of resistance within the Liberal party to Turnbull's aggressive promotion of anti-AGW measures – and that resistance was almost certainly solidified because of the ClimateGate revelations.  Further, at least one observer believes that it's likely elections will result from this change – and that ClimateGate-driven skepticism is likely to be a major issue in the campaigning.

  • Reason has a great summary piece (by Ronald Bailey) on the scientific tragedy ClimateGate represents.  Reason is on the leading edge here (as they tend to be), but I expect to see a lot more relatively sober analysis like this – including in the mainstream media.  I'm starting to be cautiously optimistic that the AGW debate is going to get back onto a sound scientific basis...

  • Scientists are starting to speak out about ClimateGate, like Peter Keleman in this Popular Mechanics piece and Derek Lowe on his blog.  It's safe for them to do so now, thanks to the ugly revelations of ClimateGate.  Others can now find a platform, where they couldn't before, like Doug Keenan writing at Pajamas Media.  Expect more like this.

  • AGW skepticism has become politically correct.  Unapologetic commentary can now be found all over the place, not just on fringe blogs (like this one!) and “crank” web sites (examples here, here, and here).  Awesome!
Holy moley!!!