Having brought mankind so far, has traditional science finally outlived its usefulness? Many seem to think so, finding the rules of the scientific method—the strict guidelines a researcher must follow to actually practice science—far too restrictive and cumbersome. The requirement that evidence be empirical, which is to say, actual measurements of nature itself, is found too burdensome to new age scientists. They prefer clean, clinical computer models to messy, often uncooperative nature. Over reliance on models, misapplication of statistical methods, and lack of repeatability are the hallmarks of the new pseudoscience that is replacing the traditional practice of science, real science. As one critic recently wrote: “The problem with science is that so much of it simply isn’t.” Has science entered a death spiral, as indifferent, inept scientists raise up new generations of even poorer researchers? The facts look grim.
Once again climate scientists have put forth a scary prediction about melting ice caps and once again they are portraying output from computer models as a reliable prediction of things to come. The normally staid and reliable journal Nature emblazoned its cover with “Rising tide” in large black print, with the subtext “A 500-year model of Antarctica's contribution to future sea-level rise” in smaller print below. When a closer look is taken at this new model it turns out to be a house of cards, incomplete and built on top of other climate change models that are known to be faulty. As the old saying goes: garbage in, garbage out. Yet a major science journal chose this piece of computerized legerdemain as its lead article. No wonder that climate alarmists, and climate science in general, have fallen into such ill repute.
A few months back, the climate charlatans at the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) made headlines by declaring the 18+ year pause in global warming a hoax, or at least a misunderstanding. In June 2015, NOAA scientists published an online article in the journal Science finds that the rate of global warming during the last 15 years has been as fast as or faster than that seen during the latter half of the 20th Century. Their study claimed to refute the notion that there has been a slowdown or “hiatus” in the rate of global warming. Climate change alarmists were ecstatic, the Pause was dead, long live global warming! Now, showing how settled the science behind climate change really is, a new paper in Nature Climate refutes the refutation. In a warmist's nightmare zombie Apocalypse, the Pause is back and NOAA stands revealed as the data fudging climate change activists they are.
In the year 536 AD the sun dimmed, and the gloom lasted for more than an entire year. There were frosts and snows in the middle of summer and observers reported that winter never really ended. The sudden shift in climate lead to famine, plague and the fall of empires. What was worse, that year was only the beginning of a shift in climate that brought misery to the entire Northern Hemisphere for more than a century. Yet this well documented period of global cooling was smoothed away by climate change alarmists in works of fabricated data like the infamous “hockey stick” tree ring history. A new analysis has rediscovered this dark period in recent human history, fittingly made possible by new tree-ring measurements from the Altai mountains in Russia. The results help complete a climatological history stretching back 2,500 years. Climate history is a pesky thing, it just won't go away and can't be changed to fit some scientists pet theories.
Mixed in with the swirling cloud of misinformation about global warming is also a bit of blather regarding the onset of a new Ice Age. What the promoters of a new big freeze are talking about is a glacial period, since technically we are still in the midst of an ice age—the Pleistocene. A number of scientists have warned that the planet might be headed for a new period of glacial growth based on Earth's recent history. Over the past half million or so years there has been a series of short (15-20k year) warm period sandwiched between longer (70-100k year) glacial episodes. Make no mistake, global cooling is much worse than global warming, so this really matters to our descendants and the whole human race. Now, a new study in Nature says that we maybe off the hook, glacial wise. Not only that, human activity might be the reason.
To end the year 2015, climate change alarmists tried valiantly to drive home their message that the world was going into a global warming meltdown. Myopically focusing on the unseasonably warm temperatures in the eastern half of the United States was not enough, they decided to hype the occurrence of a fairly common winter weather event with the scary name “bomb cyclone.” The weather media–always up for a natural calamity–jumped on the bomb storm meme, billing the impending event as a “blowtorch” that would melt the North Pole. Such a meteorological feeding frenzy had not been seen for ages. Well the storm has come and gone and the Arctic is intact, catastrophe unrealized and the media weather ghouls moving on to the next faux disaster. But was the “bomb” real, and if so, what was it?
When most people think of climate change they are really thinking of weather. Specifically the weather where they live. Weather is caused by Earth's climate engine moving heat about, so the two are definitely linked, but is it possible to capture climate in a single number? For years, those alarmed by the prospect of climate change have bandied about a number for Earth's average global temperature, currently given as about 61 degrees F (16°C). But what does that mean? This is why climate alarmists like to talk about the change in global temperature above some past average, starting at some arbitrary time – the real meaning is, well, a bit vague. But if no one can interpret the meaning of Earth's average temperature, what are we to make of a change in that number? As it turns out, Earth's average temperature is a mostly meaningless number, often used to mislead people and susceptible to manipulation for nefarious purposes.
Not too long ago the New York Times published an article asking if the shale oil revolution had killed OPEC. It included assertions that it was funding by the US government that caused the fracking revolution, an assertion based on an older article from the notoriously pro-big government Breakthrough Institute. Not to miss out on a good fabrication, Barack Obama has often claimed responsibility for lower energy costs due to the explosion in US natural gas and oil production, a trend that has elevated America to the #1 slot in world oil production. In fact, part of the political calculation that allowed him to block the Keystone oil pipeline, which was to carry Canadian oil from tar-sands to American Gulf refineries, was that we do not need the energy. But is this true? Is government responsible for one of the few economic bright spots in the recent US economy?
On October 14, 2015, Dr Patrick Moore delivered the Global Warming Policy Foundation annual lecture in London. An ecologist and environmentalist for more than 45 years, Moore was one of the founding members and a leader of Greenpeace. After 15 years he left the organization because he felt its mission and message had changed. “Over the years the 'peace' in Greenpeace was gradually lost and my organization, along with much of the environmental movement, drifted into a belief that humans are the enemies of the earth.” Since then, Dr. Moore has been a consistent voice for sanity in ecological matters. In his address he asserts that CO2 is not evil rather it is the currency of life and the most important building block for all life on Earth. Human emissions of carbon dioxide have helped save plant life on our planet. “We are not the enemy of nature but its salvation,” he proclaimed.
Acknowledging that today's supercomputers lack the computational power to successfully model Earth's climate system, a climate modeler is suggesting that climate models would benefit from running on computers whose calculations are less exact. “In designing the next generation of supercomputers, we must embrace inexactness if that allows a more efficient use of energy and thereby increases the accuracy and reliability of our simulations,” says Tim Palmer, a Royal Society research professor of climate physics and co-director of the Oxford Martin Programme on Modelling and Predicting Climate at the University of Oxford, UK. This is nothing more than grasping for excuses to explain the dismal performance of the current crop of climate model simulations. There is an old saying: a craftsman never blames his tools for a bad result. Evidently climate modelers are not even close to being craftsmen.
A number of media outlets picked up a story recently about increasing swarms of giant mosquitoes endangering caribou and blotting out the Arctic Sun. Evidently this all came from a research report that stated the obvious, a longer, warmer summer would lead to a longer mosquito season in the Arctic. Having lived in Alaska, I can verify that the mosquitoes there are huge and their swarms can almost blot out the Sun, or at least it seems that way if you are getting bit. The problem here is that there is no evidence that there are more or larger mosquitoes emerging from the tundra of the north lands. This is yet another case of airhead news writers misunderstanding the facts or twisting them to fit their desired narrative.
We have all heard about the Ice Age, if only in cartoon movies. A time when massive ice sheets covered the planet while mammoths and saber toothed cats roamed the frozen landscape. What is more, the cycle of interglacial-glacial-interglacial has happened over and over again during the past million or so years. During the last half a million years the cycle has repeated every 130,000 years, with the warm period we are now enjoying—the Holocene—just the latest interglacial respite from the icy conditions of the Pleistocene Ice Age. What most people don't know is that there were many areas on Earth that remained unchanged, even during the height of the last glacial period. The Sahara was hot and dry, and in the Amazon rainforests, though a bit smaller in area, looked much like they do today.
A lot has been written about melting ice caps and new mini-ice ages recently. Seems that science can't decide if we are going to drown in rising oceans or starve because summer will be a thing of the past. This leaves the layperson justifiably confused as to who to believe—the climate change alarmists who back rapid global warming or those who warn of a new glacial period. There is little certainty when it comes to science but one thing that can be counted on is our ignorance. Quite simply, scientists cannot predict with any certainty what Earth's climate will do next. If someone tries to tell you different they are lying.
The term “settled science” gets tossed around in the media a lot these days. Mostly by non-scientists, who know no better, and by some errant scientists, who should. In 2002, the U.S. National Research Council Committee on Abrupt Climate Change published its findings in a book entitled Abrupt Climate Change: Inevitable Surprises. A new report in Science recaps the surprising discoveries made since then, and they are big. So big that ocean circulation models, integral parts of all climate models, do not accurately predict reality. The observed change in AMOC strength was found to lie well outside the range of interannual variability predicted by coupled atmosphere-ocean climate models. Sounds like circulation in the Atlantic Ocean is not so settled.
The Triassic–Jurassic boundary 200 million years ago marked the beginning of the dinosaurs’ dominance of the entire planet. Following the worst ever extinction event at the end of the Permian, 252 mya, dinosaurs started showing up in the fossil record around 245 mya but did not spread to all areas of the globe until the end of the Triassic. A new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) posits one possible explanation for why the spread of dinosaurs was stymied. Sadly, this interesting but not conclusive report was immediately seized upon by climate alarmists as a cautionary tale about atmospheric CO2 levels. A news item in Science online labels modern levels “alarming” and implies that a fiery fate, like the one that held the dinosaurs at bay for so long ago, awaits us all.