Friday, December 11, 2009

ClimateGate: Science Fiction Level of Accuracy?

Of all the people upset over the pretense that global warming is "settled science," the most upset might be the engineers who apply the fundamentals of hard science to real-world problems on which human lives provably--and perhaps immediately--depend.

Imagine that we take the word of a group of engineers that science shows a specific product will work, and then  the product doesn't work. Almost everybody will know it right away. A passenger jet either gets off the ground safely, or it doesn't. A space vehicle makes it to its destination or not. Update: Or, a Russian Bulava missile that can carry six nuclear warheads is successfully tested, or it explodes into the Norwegian sky as a prelude to Obama's receipt of a Nobel Peace Prize (see image below). 

Most times scientifically unworkable designs don't make it to the market. We are accustomed to coffee makers that brew coffee, cars that start, jets that fly, and satellites that keep sending signals to our televisions.

Now imagine that we take global warming alarmists at their word that science proves we all face immediate catastrophe. How will we know whether they were right or wrong? If humans re-make our entire economic and political structures to fend off global warming, real or imagined, and then the planet cools, alarmists can report that they were right and acted just in time. If the earth warms, well, they tried, but the slow-witted people of planet Earth didn't respond fast enough and vigorously enough to their warnings. 

AJ Strata at The Strata-sphere works in the space industry, where the costs of errors are huge, and he's been posting some remarkable observations about the claims of global warming alarmists that they know what they're talking about. I recommend that you read his entire post, How Not To Create A Historic Global Temp Index. Here's a sample:
For this comparative exercise Al Gore, a genius in his own mind, provides the perfect analogy – gravity. Yes Al, it’s there. But we still can’t predict how a body will travel through the atmosphere or space to an accuracy that is stable beyond a few seconds (for the atmosphere) or days (for Earth orbits). Our window of certainty is not months, seasons, years, decades, centuries or millennia. And yet gravity is very well understood and simple mathematically.
Add to that the fact our measurement systems for space systems blow away those being used by alarmists, who claim a science fiction level of accuracy in measurement and prediction. Maybe that is why they have a cult following instead of scientific proof?
Gravity is simple, but we cannot predict out beyond a week with any accuracy.
For satellite orbits it would make no sense at all to ‘adjust’ the data to fit a curve as the alarmists do for temperature. If a data point is bad it is either consumed inside a sea of good data points or rejected because we have a sea of good data points to use. If there are sufficient data points you don’t adjust the data – bottom line. Either you have enough data to draw a conclusion or you don’t. You don’t make up data to fill your need either.
If the rocket scientists can only predict the path of an object orbiting the globe for 7 days, what sane person thinks a hodge-podge of randomly accurate and aging sensors around the globe can measure a global index, let alone predict the future or unravel the past? It cannot. But what ’scientists’ do to the data to pretend they can is downright silly.
They make adjustments or homogenizing stations or fill in grids with pretend stations. A total unscientific joke. The measurement is the measurement. 

Another example: moving stations. When a temperature station is moved it should simply become a new station at that point in time, with a new set of siting errors (and accuracy if the sensor is upgraded). It has a different time window than it previous incarnation – it is a new data set. When I see crap like this I realize these people are just not up to this kind of complex analysis.


You don’t ‘homogenize’ neighboring stations into a mythical (and fictional) virtual station. That is just clueless! And there is no need to.  When that happens start a new data set. Those stations measured real temperatures, as shown in the top graph. They are three independent data sets with fixed attributes for the locale. Whatever that mess is in the bottom graph, it is nothing more than shoddy modelng. It destroys the historic record and replaces it with someone’s poor mathematical skills or scientific understanding.
I mean think of what that graph says in my world. If I had measurements of the moon’s position in the night sky from these three points I could reproduce the Moon’s orbit. But what happens in that second ‘adjusted’ graph is silly. I would be changing the measured position of the Moon for two ‘adjusted’ stations to make it closer to the first station – while not moving the two stations physically! They would produce a lunar vector similar to the others, but did I really move the Moon? Of course not, all I did was insert a lot of error. Now my calculation on the Moon’s position over that period does not reflect reality (or the established gravitational model). The question is, does it fit someone’s half cocked new theory of gravity – yet unproven!

Alarmists cannot explain with accuracy why stations 10 miles apart show different temperature profiles each and every day of the year. So they pretend to know how to ‘adjust’ the data and their groupies applaud them for their brilliance. Yet the result, like my Moon example, is they simply lost site of reality.
After examining several more serious problems with alarmists' work, Strata concludes with an argument that is hard to counter. [emphasis mine]
Instead of explaining the data, they adjust the data to meet their explanations. The Global Climate research has not made it to a professional level of scientific endeavor as we see in more established areas of science.. If their science was so settled the supporters could answer these challenges without lifting a finger. But they cannot, instead they play PR games and smear their opponents. Houston, they have a problem.
 Well said, Mr. Strata, and thanks.

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