Busy times at the Briggs ranch. The Evidence series will continue next week. For now, some IPCC fun.
The Consensus says its 95% sure that the man has caused the climate to change and that the climate has change. I disagree. I’m 100% sure.
Since I am a certified scientist, credentialed out the ying-yang (ying-yang pictures available upon request), having published works reviewed by my peers, what I believe is therefore capital-S Science. Following the zeitgeist, to speak against me is necessarily anti-science. So let’s have no arguments.
The “climate” is the aggregation, or “averaging” of moment-by-moment weather over “long” periods of time. Weather, to speak loosely, is everything in and around the air. That includes you, my dears. You move the air, you breathe it in and out, you heat it and add moisture and strange gases to it. You become part of the weather. It is therefore impossible for you not to modify the weather.
And therefore the climate, too. Thus it is 100% indisputably certain that man influences the climate. That’s part one.
Part two everybody already believes: the climate has changed. Indeed, as near as can be told, it’s never stayed still since oceans first formed. It is therefore rational to believe that it will continue its dance until those same oceans dry up.
Sure enough, the AP says of the 95% confidence that scientists, me included, are “as sure about climate change as they are about the age of the universe.” So what’s all the heat about?
Lookie (looky?) here. If we are 95% sure that man has influenced the climate and that the climate has changed, it means nothing by itself. It can’t be, for instance, The Consensus is worried about a slight increase in the average temperature. If that were so, we wouldn’t see so many old people flee the Great White North and flock to Florida each winter. The rapid and enormous change of heat would kill them en masse if just-plain temperature increases were a problem.
We need to separate talk about climate change from what weather does to things, because what weather does is the only thing that can be of any interest to us non-Consensuses members.
Here’s where it gets tricky. The Consensus is confident, like me, that man causes climate change and that the climate has changed. But how much the climate has changed due to man is not known with 95% certainty. If confidence were that high, then Consensus forecasts of temperatures, which consistently bomb (they run hot), would have been much better. Whatever the confidence is about the exact amount of change (past and future) due to man, therefore must be much less than 95%.
Now suppose, as some scientist has claimed, a nasty weed will thrive in a climate which isn’t here yet but is predicted to come. This means the scientist says he knows what will be the agglomeration of temperatures over a growing season, the precipitation, humidity, and sunlight, their effects on soil conditions, etc. Since forecasts are poor, he cannot be 100% sure of these, and he must be less certain still about the effects of these variables on the growing of the weed.
Keep the different elements in mind: there are claims of knowledge about future weather and the future behavior of some organism considered in isolation assuming the future weather is perfectly certain. The level of certainty we have in both simultaneously must necessarily be less than we have in either.
We’re not done. Follow me closely here: the scientist must also make claims of knowledge about the consequences of the weed flourishing. After all, a weed growing isn’t of interest per se. It’s how that weed effects us that matters.
This entails knowledge about how the weed will cope, not in isolation, but as part of its environment. That means knowing what the weed’s enemies (caterpillars, say) will do in the changed climate, and what strategies man will adopt to adapt to the weed increasing.
There is a chain of dependence: knowing the climate, then knowing the future weather, then knowing what the weed will do, then knowing what other organisms will do, then knowing how we would cope, adapt, change our behavior.
No matter how certain we are about the climate changing we must necessarily be far less certain about what its effects will be. This is a logical truth. Here’s another: the matter is so complex that nobody knows precisely how certain because accurately quantifying the various uncertainties in this chain is impossible (though it is possible to do it inaccurately, and many do).
Thus the answer to the implied question of the IPCC report on 95% certainty is “So what?”
Incidentally, isn’t it curious that if the organism sticks, pricks, poisons, pesters, wreaks havoc, or carries diseases, scientists claim it will thrive in the coming climate. But if it’s gentle, delicious, cute, cuddly, or photogenic, the animal will whither in that same climate. What a coincidence!