Monday, 15 August 2011

Questions climate scientists should be obliged to answer.

Given that governments everywhere seem determined to press forward with extremely expensive and generally non-productive policy on the basis of "the science" and "the models" that "the science" produces, it seems fitting that "the science" should answer some rather harsh questions.

1) To what extent do the predictions of the models correspond to what is seen in the real world? Beginning in 1995, for example, to what extent do their predictions correspond to what is known to have happened in 2000? In 2005? In 2010? What are the confidence levels and the size of the error bars at these various waypoints?

2) Are any new models that are generated being validated in this fashion, or is their inner mathematics being adjusted against known observations for a "better fit"? If the latter is the case, how valid are the starting assumptions?

3) Every computer simulation has to be fed a starting set of input values in order to produce an output. What is the exact nature of these input values? Are they assumed to be fixed over the timespan covered by the simulations, or are they allowed to vary? If fixed, how does this correspond to real-world behaviour? If varied, in exactly what way? Are the input values also output variables, which are then recursively "fed back" into the simulation for the next iteration? If so, are those variables being output in such a manner as to correspond to what has been happening in the real world? Is the real-world variation of these inputs adequately understood? If not, what faith can we have in the models?

4) "Garbage in, garbage out." To what extent are real-world data influenced by urbanisation of the areas in which the data are gathered?

This is before we even begin to consider the question of "who is actually right". These are the questions that Government should have been asking of the scientists before embarking on multi billion dollar policies that may or may not actually alleviate the problem if it exists. And I say "if it exists" because if any of the steps above have not been adequately performed, we can't be sure that it does.

Australia points to what China is doing to "alleviate" the problem, but what China is doing (apart from building huge numbers of coal-fired powerplants) is includes building massive hydroelectric schemes and embracing nuclear power, something the current Australian government will not even permit consideration of and which its Green compatriots consider moral anathema.

ETA because I was interrupted by real life:

Meanwhile, the only solution Australia can consider is regulatory. Build nothing, improve nothing, prepare no mitigating defences or construction, just regulate. And insist that the population accept government-mandated restrictions in the standard of living.

This is not the way for an advanced civilisation to behave.

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