Today’s post is at The Stream: What’s True and What’s False in Obama’s Latest Global Warming Claims.
There is so much hyperbolic language surrounding the topic of global warming that it is becoming nearly impossible to distinguish points that are true, those that might be true or false, and those that are false. So let us take a gentle approach in the hope that we may reach what the philosopher David Hume called “the calm sunshine of the mind.”
President Obama unveiled his global warming plan yesterday. In it, he said that the earth’s climate has been changing. I am an actual climate scientist and can verify that this is true. And not only that, it always has changed. There was never, not ever, a point in the history of our planet in which the climate was static. This is such an important but always-forgotten point that it must be repeated. So let’s do that: the earth’s climate has always changed.
And always will. Nobody can stop it. That is, it is impossible to stop climate change. I mean “impossible” in its plain-English sense, as in not possible by any means.
I wanted to take the approach gentle. We’ll see how it works. The main logical point is this:
Another truth: we climate scientists do not know the full effect mankind has on the climate. The models we have created based on our theories of how the climate works have performed badly over a long period. This logically and necessarily implies our theories are in error. We do not know where they are in error: if we did, we could fix the models and they would work.
I have been struggling to get people to understand this—with some success. I gave a talk to a group of ordinary concerned citizens, none of whom are physical scientists, and they took the point.
The other main point is this, based on a list of claims made by the President (so many lives saved, so much money earned, etc.):
These claims are based on statistical models built on top of climate models. Since the regulations are not yet in place, the claims cannot be known to be true or false. Yet the climate models upon which the claims are based are already known to be in significant error, thus is it reasonable to conclude that these surprisingly precise health and economic claims will also be in error. And that is before we consider the error naturally present in the statistical models themselves, error which necessarily must make us even less certain. The level of confidence expressed by the President in his claims is thus unwarranted.
I’ve been making that one for years, too. It’s subtler, but more devastating. We cannot be as sure about what will happen because of changes in the climate as we are about changes in the climate. This is a point of logic, and mathematics. Indeed, the amount of confidence expressed in claims like the President has made is more than just unwarranted. It’s scandalous.