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Wednesday, August 17, 2005

A lot of hot air

More on global warming: I'd first written about the subject here, and a brief discussion took place here. Now the Economist, in a piece entitled "Heat and Light", has more on the latest failure of the computer models that climate scientists love to boast about:
The troposphere is where most of the air is found and where most of the weather occurs. Computer models predict that, if global warming is really happening, temperatures in the troposphere should rise along with those on the surface. Recorded surface temperatures are, indeed, rising. However, both data from weather balloons and observations made by satellites suggest that temperatures in the troposphere have remained constant since the 1970s. Over the tropics they may even have dropped. This counter-intuitive result has caused sceptics to question how much warming, if any, is actually going on.
One of the most pernicious myths of our times is that there is a "scientific consensus" that global warming occurs. Rubbish. As James Schlesinger writes in the Wall Street Journal:
[T]he "consensus" is ostensibly based upon the several assessment reports of the IPCC. One must bear in mind that the summary reports are political documents put together by government policy makers, who, to put it mildly, treat rather cavalierly the expressed uncertainties and caveats in the underlying scientific reports. Moreover, the IPCC was created to support a specific political goal. It is directed to support the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change. In turn, the convention calls for an effective international response to deal with "the common concern of all mankind"--in short, to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases. Statements by the leaders of the IPCC have been uninhibitedly political.

Second, science is not a matter of consensus, as the histories of Galileo, Copernicus, Pasteur, Einstein and others will attest. Science depends not on speculation but on conclusions verified through experiment. Verification is more than computer simulations--whose conclusions mirror the assumptions built in the model. Irrespective of the repeated assertions regarding a "scientific consensus," there is neither a consensus nor is consensus science.
Quite. So why all the alarmism, then? Well, as Swaminathan Anklesaria Aiyar had once written (and I'd linked to here):
Because the global warming movement has now become a multi-billion dollar enterprise with thousands of jobs and millions in funding for NGOs and think-tanks, top jobs and prizes for scientists, and huge media coverage for predictions of disaster.

The vested interests in the global warming theory are now as strong, rich and politically influential as the biggest multinationals.
Indeed. There is a lot of hot air around.

(WSJ link via email from Vikram.)
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