Monday, September 7, 2009

Manic Monday Apocalypso: This Is Not How The World Ends

Well, gosh, folks, despite all the dire predictions, it turns out that the world may actually be in for an extended cooling period before we go through the horrors of global warming. The above New Scientist article (hat tip Ace Of Spades HQ) is priceless on so many levels.

We have "scientist" Mojib Latif insisting that cooling should not be taken as proof that there won't later be warming. Reassuring us that despite the evidence, he's still a true believer and he's only bringing up these ugly questions because, you know, deniers will point to this as some sort of validation, and question the whole premise of man-caused disaster.

Note that "global warming" carries the implicit guilt of Man in it: "natural variability is at least as important as the long-term climate changes from global warming."

Even the arctic ice loss may, in fact, be at least partly, no matter how minutely—we hate to even bring it up lest it give the easily led the wrong idea—due to natural causes! The money quote, for me, as it admits what I've said all along:

Model biases are also still a serious problem. We have a long way to go to get them right. They are hurting our forecasts.

Yeah. No kidding. Look, anyone using a computer model to predict something should minimally be able to: "predict" the past and also predict a short way into the future. The climate models I've seen couldn't even predict the past.

When you model something, what you do is feed your algorithms with your data starting from some arbitrary past point where you know the outcome well. Ideally, your model then shows what happened. If it doesn't, you rework your algorithms until your model actually works.

And then, it can still be wrong and completely unable to predict the future. Because what you're really doing with the above process is, basically, cheating. You know the desired results. Even if you're completely honest and pure, you can glean what changes in the algorithm will tend to favor the desired outcome, and it can't be easy to stop yourself from coming up with a theory to justify those changes. But the game is already rigged at this point.

Never mind if your intention is to create certain results. The Civilization games have off-and-on done an excellent job of modeling certain aspects of actual history. It wasn't unusual in Civ 3, for example, to have world wars break out at the beginning (and middle) of the 20th century. It could be positively eerie.

To the degree that it matters, the real shame is probably that global warming as an actual phenomenon has been demonized. But global warming would probably be a very good thing. It'd be a little (more) uncomfortable for those of us living in the desert, though the difference between a 118 degree high and a 120 degree high is not that much, perceptually.

But just look how much of the world's land is under permafrost. It's a cold world, overall, and a little more warmth would give us a much bigger food supply, shorter winters, fewer freezing deaths, and on and on.

Not that it really matters to the earth what we think or what is good for us: It's gonna get colder. Right now, I think, ironically enough, we might be headed for a new ice age.

But, honestly, that probably won't be the end of the world either.

So, until next time, stay frosty, non-mutants.


  1. Look, anyone using a computer model to predict something should minimally be able to: "predict" the past and also predict a short way into the future.

    Bravo Blake.

    Theory guides; Experiment decides. -I.M. Kolthoff

    Molecular orbital calculations have come a long way by doing it right. They began by modelling the past, i.e., known chemical reactions, and agonized when they got things wrong. Of course, their goal wasn't to predict the known, but to discover the unknown. Nowadays, the chemical modellers still get things wrong, and "wet science" still provides surprises.

    The problem with the climate modellers has always been their agenda, which has never been neutral or dispassionate. Worse, the perversion of the grant review process is threatening the integrity of science in a general way, insofar as it undermines the public trust in federally funded science.
    I can't really see a way out for us other than a foreign country to show us up on innovation and technology, even though it breaks my heart to see that happen.

  2. What country is that gonna be, though?

    The system was rotten — always has been, probably, whenever it strayed from some sort of engineering that could produce stuff.

    Right or wrong, climate theory doesn't produce stuff. Since it's not even weather—as they're always pointing out—it's practically useless until we get to some geoengineering capability (and none of this absurd "lifestyle change" stuff qualifies as geoengineering).

  3. What country is that gonna be, though?

    Probably where the new patent applications and scientific papers are trending from-mainly Japan.

    The system was rotten — always has been, probably, whenever it strayed from some sort of engineering that could produce stuff.

    In the chemical industries, much of the producing just went off shore because of regulation.

    The "stuff" the climate modellers are supposed to be predicting is tomorrow's weather. But to do that is not very sexy & runs the risk of being wrong and being noticed.


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