Big Bang Blunder and the Carbon Pollution Canard

Hoards of non-scientists have been making a career out of pushing “settled science,” particularly when it come to climate change, the eco-socialists' favorite excuse for dismantling the world's existing economic and industrial base. Unlike the notoriously squishy science of climate change, physics is viewed as being mature and on a more solid foundation, at least by those who are physicists. Given the recent furor caused by the IPCC and NCA reports, plus the US EPA's ham handed attempt to institute CO2 Cap & Trade without the agreement of Congress, it is instructional for scientific outsiders to review recent events in both fields. Read on, believers in the myth of settled science and those who think scientific questions are resolved by consensus.

Recently, scientists working at the BICEP2 South Pole telescope announced a discovery that rocked the world of physics. The team of cosmologists announced at a press conference in March that they had detected gravitational waves generated in the first instants after the Big Bang. The US-led team supposedly detected the first solid evidence of primordial gravitational waves, ripples in space that inflation generated 13.8 billion years ago when the Universe first started to expand. Inflation is a big thing to physicists, it is a necessary component of the Big Bang Theory, an explanation of the creation of the Universe.

According to a report in the journal Nature, the telescope captured a snapshot of the waves as they continued to ripple through the Universe some 380,000 years later, when stars had not yet formed and matter was still scattered across space as a broth of plasma. The image was seen in the cosmic microwave background (CMB), the glow that radiated from that white-hot plasma and that over billions of years of cosmic expansion has cooled to microwave energies.

The fact that inflation produced gravitational waves demonstrates that gravity has a quantum nature just like all the other known fundamental forces of nature. Moreover, it provides a window into interactions much more energetic than can be created in any laboratory experiment. According to Nature, “the way that the team confirmed inflation is itself of major significance: it is the most direct evidence yet that gravitational waves — a key but elusive prediction of Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity — exist.”

How big was this discovery? It actually made news outside of the closed physics community, a rare occurrence for such esoteric stuff. Among theorists, champagne corks popped and there were congratulations all around. “Nobel prizes were predicted and scores of theoretical models spawned,” said Nature. Sadly, the celebration was premature. You see, the BICEP2 team identified a twisty (B-mode) pattern in its polarization maps of the cosmic microwave background. They concluding that this constituted detection of primordial gravitational waves. The nature of gravity waves is shown in the illustration below.

In a follow on report, also appearing in Nature, serious flaws in the analysis have been revealed. The sure detection of the phenomenon has changed to no detection at all. According to Paul Steinhardt, professor of physics at Princeton University, the search for gravitational waves must begin anew. “The problem is that other effects, including light scattering from dust and the synchrotron radiation generated by electrons moving around galactic magnetic fields within our own Galaxy, can also produce these twists,” he explains. Oops.

In “Big Bang blunder bursts the multiverse bubble,” Steinhardt goes on to explain some of the pitfalls of the inflation theory, and by implication the multiverse theory of cosmology. I write science fiction, so I find this stuff infinitely interesting, but some of you are probably asking, “what does this have to do with climate change?” It seems there are some eery similarities between the gravity wave blunder and the anthropogenic global warming (AGW) debacle. Let me quote Dr. Steinhardt:

The BICEP2 incident has also revealed a truth about inflationary theory. The common view is that it is a highly predictive theory. If that was the case and the detection of gravitational waves was the ‘smoking gun’ proof of inflation, one would think that non-detection means that the theory fails. Such is the nature of normal science. Yet some proponents of inflation who celebrated the BICEP2 announcement already insist that the theory is equally valid whether or not gravitational waves are detected. How is this possible?

Here Dr. Steinhardt points out that, when a theory makes a prediction and the prediction is shown to be false, the theory fails. How many of the predictions made by AGW proponents have proven to be not true? Constantly increasing temperatures were predicted, instead we are working on 18 years without increase. According to the RSS satellite data, whose value for May 2014 has just been published, the global warming trend in the 17 years 9 years since September 1996 is zero. The 213 months without global warming represent more than half the 425-month satellite data record since January 1979. No one now in high school has lived through global warming.

More frequent bad hurricanes were predicted, instead we are approaching the seventh year without a CAT 3+ landfall in North America. According to, this October 24 is the seventh anniversary of the last major hurricane landfall in the United States. If the landfall rate is compared by presidential terms in office it can be seen that the number of storms has fallen precipitously since Barack Obama became president. Yet, Obama keeps saying the trend is rising as the globe warms—and he's undoubtedly looking for a way to blame it all on George Bush.

Increased severe drought in various places around the world was predicted by US Secritary of State John Kerry, a noted global warming cheerleader. Evidently he didn't bother to check the facts. The graph below shows the proportion of the planet in drought, by intensity, 1982-2012. The graph comes from a paper in a new open access Nature publication called Scientific Data. As can be seen there is little if any change in global drought. In fact, drought levels may actually be declining.

There are many other predictions that have been made by AGW proponents, none of which have come to pass. Yet, the mewing ranks of climate change catastrophists continue to insist that the theory, linking human CO2 emissions to global temperature rise, remains correct, regardless of the failure of predicted outcomes. We are forced to ask the same question asked by Dr. Steinhardt: How is this possible? Here is how Steinhardt described the problem in cosmology.

The answer given by proponents is alarming: the inflationary paradigm is so flexible that it is immune to experimental and observational tests. First, inflation is driven by a hypothetical scalar field, the inflaton, which has properties that can be adjusted to produce effectively any outcome. Second, inflation does not end with a universe with uniform properties, but almost inevitably leads to a multiverse with an infinite number of bubbles, in which the cosmic and physical properties vary from bubble to bubble. The part of the multiverse that we observe corresponds to a piece of just one such bubble. Scanning over all possible bubbles in the multi­verse, every­thing that can physically happen does happen an infinite number of times. No experiment can rule out a theory that allows for all possible outcomes. Hence, the paradigm of inflation is unfalsifiable.

The added emphasis captures the key point of the argument. This is something that all science students should be taught and all real scientists know. Similarly, AGW is said to cause all forms of climate change: cold winters and warm winters; heat waves and cold snaps; heavy precipitation and drought; less polar ice and more polar ice. There is nothing in the world that global warming is not responsible for. Thus, as in physics, the global warming theory is unfalsifiable.

The problem is that valid scientific theories must be falsifiable. Not just physics theories, all theories. Again, read the words of Dr. Steinhardt regarding such a state of affairs:

This may seem confusing given the hundreds of theoretical papers on the predictions of this or that inflationary model. What these papers typically fail to acknowledge is that they ignore the multiverse and that, even with this unjustified choice, there exists a spectrum of other models which produce all manner of diverse cosmological outcomes. Taking this into account, it is clear that the inflationary paradigm is fundamentally untestable, and hence scientifically meaningless.

Again, the added emphasis highlights the essential point—theories that are untestable are scientifically meaningless. If this is true of theories in a fundamental science like physics, it is even more applicable to a cobbled up mess like climate science. The chimerical mash-up of multiple incomplete fields of study with unrealistic computer modeling is on much shakier ground than physics. Yet the physics blunder illustrates how science works: someone proposes a theory; others seek validation through observation and experiment; the results are published, including the data and methodology; and everyone else tries to reproduce the results or pick the work apart. If the result stands the field advances. Compare that to the reticence of many climate researchers to release their data or fully document their methodology. Recently one university threatened to sue over the release of such data—a total betrayal of science and the scientific method.

I have written about this topic before (see “Cherry Picking, Black Swans and Falsifiability”), but there has been a resurgence in stupid green ideas. These ideas are all predicated on AGW, and some of them threaten to economically castrate the developed world while condemning the developing world to never ending poverty.

Barack Obama, whose presidency is drowning in a sea of scandals, has desperately tried to change the topic of public conversation by promoting a raft of new environmental regulations. Included in these new rules from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is de facto Cap & Trade. The rational is that CO2 is a pollutant. This is an idea so ludicrous on the face of it that a new term is being used—carbon pollution.

The term carbon pollution itself is a canard, a lie, a pernicious falsehood. According to Green Peace founder, Patrick Moore, it is insane to call CO2 a pollutant. Recently he tweeted: “Carbonistas hide under blankie when challenged to say what CO2 level they want us to aim for. Below 150ppm all plants die. At 1600 happiest.” We are around 400ppm currently. The science is clear. Ask the trees below if CO2 is a pollutant.

This is the audacity of stupidity in action. Without CO2 Earth's ecology would not exist. It keeps the planet from freezing over and feeds plants, which in turn feed all other life on our planet. The dim-bulbs at the EPA have pronounced carbon a pollutant so they can regulated it without the consent of the Congress. This is not going down particularly well with members of the legislative branch of government, Democrat or Republican. They publicly call CO2 the most important climate regulating gas—it is not, H2O is the most important climate regulating gas. All of their claims are based on lies and incompetent science.

The theory of AGW falls short when judged as a scientific theory. But then, this is not really science, it is ideology verging on religious fanaticism. In the US, the mendacious progressives see their time in power coming to an end, and they are desperate to drive a stake into the heart of industrialized, capitalist society. Climate scientists are either in collusion with the leftist politicians or serve as their unwitting dupes.

BICEP2 radio telescope on Antarctica. Look closely, there may be some lost climate scientists about.

Given Physics' recent dust up—over a blunder of cosmic proportions—one would think that climate scientists would take note. They should be even more reticent to put forth half-assed theories that predict everything and mean nothing. Yet they pigheadedly insist they are right, they have consensus, that the science is settled. They should take a lesson from some real scientists.

Be safe, enjoy the interglacial and stay skeptical.

Gravitational waves not detected by LIGO, yet.

My scientific article about why researchers at Laser Interferometry Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) may be wrong in reporting detection of gravity wave has been published on 2/20/2016, and can be read at . This is a peer-reviewed journal.
My article provides a mathematical argument showing that gravitational waves do not travel through space, like light does, but rather re-define all 4 dimensions of space-time everywhere, at once. Several astrophysical experiments are proposed to verify this. An accelerating gravitationally collapsing model of cosmology is introduced. In conclusion my paper opens a possibility of developing better and faster communication by gravity wave modulation.

The moon is made of cheese

Denying climate change is like saying the moon is made of cheese, President Obama said speaking to a crowd of 30,000 at a commencement ceremony at the University of California, Irvine. With Iraq going up in flames, taken over by Islamic radicals along with Syria, Putin still threatening Ukraine, China rattling sabers over the South China Sea, and this buffoon thinks global warming is the most urgent crisis of our time. "I'm not a scientist." Possibly the only factually accurate words in the president's entire speech. Obama is proof of the failure of democracy.

Reticence is not a synonym

Reticence is not a synonym for reluctance. Reticence is a disinclination to speak, not hesitance.

Reluctantly, I must inform you that you are wrong

Reluctantly, I must inform you that you are wrong...

1: inclined to be silent or uncommunicative in speech : reserved
2: restrained in expression, presentation, or appearance
3: reluctant

I said reticent and I meant it.

I use the words I chose. End of discussion.

I believe the word is stronger

Can't agree more - I believe reticence is stronger than reluctance. You can reluctantly give someone your data. I think reticence implies that you'll give it only if you have to.

That's what it conveys to me.



big bang musings

This is an excellent commentary. Although I am a life-long liberal and have voted for every Democrat in presidential elections since John F. Kennedy, I completely endorse your statement. In college I took Harlow Shapley's great course on cosmology, and wrote a paper for him arguing for the spontaneous generation of hydrogen as the essential and on-going origin of the universe. He gave me an A, one of the few I got at Harvard. Later at Boston University studying for my Ph.D. in psychology, I learned a lot about scientific method including inferential statistics and scientific study design. For that reason, I have always been skeptical of the received knowledge of the "big bang" simply because it was too neat, too compatible with theology, even though it didn't seem right in the context of actual astronomical observations (e.g. how stars actually form, and, by the way, where exactly in the sky was it) but theoretical physics trumps all the other more lowly sciences which have to be enslaved by actual data and empirical observations.

Greenpeace, Gaia

As always, Doug, great article.

But I think you confused Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore with the actual father of the Gaia hypothesis, James Lovelock. Understandable since they both have retreated, more or less, from their former environmentalist positions and both have been reviled for their apostasy.

Gaia mistake

You are absolutely right, I conflated More and Lovelock. This is what happens when I rush to finish a piece at the end of the day. Thanks for catching the error, I have corrected it in the text so I don't confuse others (or draw additional warmist fire).