Are Humans the Climate Weapons of Mass Destruction?

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The UK Met has led a new study into Global Warming, a review led by Peter Stott of the Met Office Hadley Centre in Exeter.  The review was conducted by six IPCC scientists.  Their arguments and conclusions remind me of a desperate-looking Colin Powell on TV, showing pictures of suspicious-looking Iraqi buildings and claiming that they were strong evidence that Saddam Hussein was concealing Weapons of Mass Destruction.  This is the NZ Herald report of the study’s conclusion:

“The researchers found that no other possible natural phenomenon, such as volcanic eruptions or variations in the activity of the sun, could explain the significant warming of the planet over the past half century as recorded on every continent including Antarctica.”  It goes on:  “It is only when the warming effect of emitting millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere from human activity is considered that it is possible to explain why global average temperatures have risen so significantly since the middle of the 20th century.”

How did they arrive at this conclusion?  Well, they matched computer models of possible causes of climate change, both human-led and otherwise, to measured changes in factors such as air and sea temperature, Arctic sea ice cover and global rainfall patterns.  They call the technique “optimal detection”, and claim that it showed clear fingerprints of human-induced global warming.  Richard Lindzen has this to say about their application of “optimal detection”:

“they take models that can not reasonably simulate known patterns (such as ENSO, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation), claim that such models accurately depict natural internal climate variability, and use the fact that the models could not replicate the warming episodes… to argue that forcing was necessary and that the forcing must have been due to man”.

Well put.  As Lindzen also points out, their argument constitutes a rejection of scientific logic that makes arguments for Intelligent Design seem rigorous by comparison.  It boils down to argument from ignorance.  They have created models that include only the possible causes they know about and are capable of modelling, with all of their weightings tuned to enable reasonable hind-casting, applied it to a warming world, and shouted “Eureka!” when it sort-of matched expectations (nothing is said about the fifteen-year hiatus in warming from 1995).

To return to Dr Peter Stott, in his review: “”What we see here are observations consistent with a warming world. This wealth of evidence we have now shows there is an increasingly remote possibility of climate change being dominated by natural factors rather than human factors.”

Bunkum.  Stott’s “wealth of evidence” has no more significance than the Iraqi buildings.  There were no Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq.  And the endless list of the consequences of Global Warming does not show that we humans are causing it, or that it is catastrophic.  There is no need to go to war.

References:

NZ Herald Article on the Review:  http://www.nzherald.co.nz/science/news/article.cfm?c_id=82&objectid=10630087

Aust Age Article on Guardian report:  http://www.theage.com.au/world/climate-change-review-stresses-human-factor-20100305-pouc.html

Richard Lindzen on AGW  http://hockeyschtick.blogspot.com/2010/02/dr-richard-lindzens-talk-at-fermilab.html

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