Tuesday 12 March 2013

The climate has cooled - for sure...


Since climate researchers (I refuse to call them scientists) are very obviously incompetent liars, and the weather 'forecasters' are political propaganda agencies (as well as being very clearly incompetent - they cannot even describe the current weather, leave aside predicting weather!); the only way to decide about what's going on is by direct personal experience.


Luckily, with 'global' climate, that kind of thing is very easy - because (at the first level of approximation, which is about as far as we can really understand in something as mega-complex as planetary climate) if the 'global' temperature is rising (or falling), then the temperature of the whole earth surface, thus any specific spot on the globe, will also be rising (or falling). ^

(Unless there is some known reason why this might be subverted, such as - for example - when the thermometer measuring temperature has a furnace built next to it.)


The only limitation on this inference is concerned with random measurement error - which would be substantial for one small patch of ground and one year, but can be reduced substantially by taking larger areas and observing over several years.

On this basis, the global climate has cooled - with a high degree of probability. I've made the observations.


Several years ago I decided that the global climate is either warming or cooling (because it is always doing one or the other, except for a few years when at an apex or trough and the trend is changing direction).

All I had to do was see whether there was a new pattern of extremes - and the number of repetitions and annual frequency of these extremes would determine my degree of certainty. My area was Newcastle upon Tyne.

(But the process is retrospective - we know what has happened up to now, but cannot know whether it is valid to extrapolate past trends into the future. At least not until we have made and tested several predictions of future trends - and then we must recognize the limits of this kind of inductive - non causal - reasoning.)


When we had an exceptionally sustained period of exceptional cold in the winter of 2009-10 I noticed this and began to suspect global cooling; but decided that it would need two more confirmations, close together, before I would be sufficiently sure that the climate was cooling.

The next year - 2010-11 - there was another exceptionally sustained period of exceptional cold which this time began in early November - nobody I spoke with could remember such an early winter in this area ever before.

For 2011-12 the winter was not exceptional - indeed it was quite mild.

But this year (2012-13) we have had another severe winter, although with intermittent rather than continuous snow - culminating in severe cold and snow just two night ago - exceptionally late for snow.


With three out of four exceptionally cold winters (an unprecedented thing in my lifetime), I regard the observation as sufficiently replicated to state that the Newcastle upon Tyne climate, hence the global climate, has cooled.

If the same pattern of bunched together sustained temperature extremes could be described by specific trustworthy persons at a couple of other reasonable sized areas of the earth's surface, then the hypothesis would be clinched; but in the meantime, and in the absence of such evidence - I know what to believe.


^NOTE: If, on the other hand, it is assumed that (once random fluctuations have been dealt with) the temperature of one part of the earth's surface can rise while that of another part of the earth's surface is cooling, then the whole concept of a global temperature or climate is challenged.

Indeed if contradictory trends can occur over sustained periods, then there is no such thing as global temperature or climate - unless it is rescued by an auxiliary hypothesis which explains how contradictory sustained trends can occur in the context of a true underlying overall unidirectional trend - and this auxiliary hypothesis would need to be tested separately.

However, I strongly suspect that this kind of auxiliary hypothesis is de facto untestable in a context as complex and uncertain as global climate. Since confirmation would necessarily be prospective (not retrospective), the precision and period of future observation required to discriminate between rival complex hypothesis would make an auxiliary hypothesis designed to explain contradictory climate trends in practice undisproveable.

Only the simple theory of climate change being qualitatively reflected everywhere (absent specific known locally distorting factors, like a furnace or a new-grown city or the like) can be tested in a reasonable time frame. 

(ie. If climate is warming, everywhere warms, and vice versa - the sign of direction of change should be the same, although the quantitative change need not necessarily be to exactly the same extent.) 


Noted added 19 March - I changed the title of this post from 'is cooling' to 'has cooled' because it is my thesis that humans cannot predict climate beyond saying something like 'next year will probably be similar to this year'. So, I can say, from three out of four exceptionally cold winters, that the climate has cooled; but I can't say whether or not this retrospective trend will continue - because neither I nor anybody else understands the cause of these (small) trends. 


Anonymous said...

Is this parody? I am suspicious of climate scientists as well, but of course global temperature (the integral over local temperatures) can be rising while in some locations the temperature may fall. Do you care about seeing whether there are locations where 3 out of the 4 winters are mild?

Forgive me if your post was parody, in that event the point flew well over my head.


Bruce Charlton said...

No - it is not a parody - it is an example of doing what used to be called 'science'; but probably you haven't come across any of that stuff before? It used to be pretty common even up to 25 years ago.

Anonymous said...

I intended no disrespect, sincerely. I was genuinely unsure. I am a loyal and grateful reader of your site.

If the scientific question being discussed is "Is the Earth cooling or warming", then one first has to define what you mean. The question as posed is a global question. Do you want to talk about average temperature changes, median temperature changes, or some other statistic? I think average temperature change is most often used.

I don't know the data that well, but my impression is that it is well established that there are local trends that buck the global trend, and that this is a property of dynamical systems (e.g. fluid flows) in general.

I agree, of course, that we probably don't have a lot of data points to make many useful predictions from any climate models. But we do have enough to determine whether or not average temperatures (or median temperatures, or whatever) are increasing or not and whether there are these "local wells" that do not correlate with the global data.


Bruce Charlton said...

@John - It all hinges on that phrase "well established".

Since we know for sure that the most prominent climate researchers are dishonest and incompetent, then we cannot accept that anything is well established unless we have specific personal knowledge of the honesty and competence of the people who provide the data (including knowing that they have only used data from, and worked with, other people who are honest and competent).

The chain of honesty and competence must be intact in every link, or else nothing can be trusted.

Anonymous said...

I agree with respect to the question of honesty. But it should be fairly easy to pick N random locations and ask your same question (were the last n winters mild or extreme? for the locale) and observe the "local well" phenomena directly. Local weather data is pretty solid in areas where people live. Remote weather stations...maybe not.


Matthew C. said...

Spring is LATE here in central North Carolina, United States this year, probably nearly two weeks.

If it were early you can be CERTAIN the usual suspect would have let us know. . .

Anonymous said...

Autumn has all but disappeared around here. We have a late summer followed by a decently long winter followed by this weird hybrid Ive taken to calling sprinter. To be honest I know nothing of this climate change. Nor am I sure I care to. The tenets of stewardship are fairly obvious to me and reality is as it is. I am aware of the climate as it had been and as it has changed. That is enough for me.

Bruce Charlton said...

@John - why do you assume that local well phenomena exist?

I presume this means that in one place the climate might get colder over many years when in other places it went the opposite direction.

But if this is indeed true, then the first and most obvious inference is that the concept of a global climate is bogus. After all it is not self evident that the earth should have a global climate (except perhaps beyond certain perhaps extreme limits).

For example it may be that different parts of the earth can indeed have opposing climate trends (one part warming and the other cooling) up to temperature differences of a certain magnitude.

But (parsimoniously) this would mean NOT that there were wells, but that within (say) plus or minus ?5, 10, 15 degrees there was *no* linkage between the climate of different parts of the earth - no such thing as 'global' temperature.

Climate research is built upon multiple unjustified assumptions; yet these assumptions are taken as true until otherwise proven - which has the (convenient) effect of making the whole discourse unresolvable, and the assumptions disprovable.

There is no evidence whatsoever that anybody can predict the climate of the earth - that would entail that precise and measurable predictions had been made and had not been refuted - and because nobody has shown that they can predict future climate, none of the climate theories have any validity.

There is nothing more to be said - scientifically. Climate research is purely and wholly a socio-political phenomenon - like Lysenko's biology.

The Crow said...

The term 'global' has come to mean 'popular', hasn't it? It means what people think. And people think what they are told to think, with rather few exceptions.

In my area of Canada, the winters do seem to have become very temperate. Two years in a row with only a slight sprinkling of snow. I may be to blame for this, though: any time I spend large amounts of money on snow tires, there is guaranteed to be no snow until the tires wear out.

Anonymous said...

I recall hearing these kinds of observations about these kinds of variations being dishonestly "explained away" by a researcher. I don't have any direct data on hand.

I suppose it also contradicts my intuition that weather has many local variables (e.g. cloud formation). Much like forest growth might vary according to location, but still obviously exhibit some global trends.

But to emphasize, I share (what seems to be) your opinion that global weather is probably more a function of local variables.


baduin said...

I think that there is a need for an explanation for people unacquainted with science.

I am not a scientist and what follows is to be taken only as an introduction (I learned this from a certain long dead lawyer).

Any scientific hypothesis must have a coherent object. Eg one can measure and analyse statistically free-fall speed of a collection of things such a dead cat, a book, one thousand grains of colored sand, and a verse (recited aloud). The result will be, for example, that red things are falling quicker.

This is not a science, similarly like pyramidology ie measuring pyramids and adding multiplying etc the resulting numbers is not a science.


So, in order to measure a global climate we first need to know that there exists such a coherent thing.

Otherwise, you can as well measure the body temperature of all animals in London, calculate the mean and announce that "London has fever" and "measures must be taken", eg by submerging it under water.

dearieme said...

You've ignored Climate Hysteresis, Bruce, the phenomenon whereby a warm day is incontrovertible evidence of Global Warming whereas a run of cold winters is just weather.

Adam Noel said...

The more interesting part is if the climate is cooling how long will it be before climate scientists come clean about it.

10 years from now? 20 years? With the state of corruption in science... perhaps 30?

Bruce Charlton said...

@AN - You assume that the researchers are honest, that they care about truth.

How long did it take for researchers to admit that the 'new variant' CJD epidemic did not happen, and is not cause by BSE; and that the British national hysteria of 1996 was therefore bogus?

Still hasn't happened. They now suggest that the epidemic is on its way but that there is a fifty year incubation period...

When people believe things and there never was any reason to believe them in the first place, these things (paradoxically?) become ineradicable.

Anonymous said...

People are touting such results as being indicative of global warming somehow. While it is true that global mean is what counts, one must measure this using points. If the points are biased or skewed somehow, well, it's hard to get a proper mean from that. If what they really mean is the standard deviation of temperature is increasing: something you can't get from tree-ring data, they should say so. The mind reels at such impostures ... one might even call such beliefs "religious."

Bruce Charlton said...

What I describe in this post is how people need to act when researchers cannot be trusted (because they are incompetent liars) - we just have to do mini bits of science based on our own planned observations. Even a handful of valid observations beats any amount of fake or erroneous data.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, what I end up seeing is people using 'confirmation bias' to increase their faith in ... some kind of weather-phenomenon which is bad. It gets colder or windier, or there are a few more waves and people go bananas with apocalyptic fears. Witness the loons who were touting the hurricane in NYC as a sign of the globalwarmingapocalypse. In reality, it was a fairly unremarkable event; there were worse ones in the recent past, before people developed such neuroses. It's not all that clear to me that increases in global mean temperature *would* increase hurricane probabilities, but people take the event that way. People use their senses, but they're too afraid to challenge the experts with the evidence: it's easier to agree with them.

Weather always happens, whatever the truth of this matter.

Adam Noel said...

The thing that's most mind-blowing about it all is that they will hold contradictory positions at the same time.

They will say that the global mean temperature is rising but when you point out areas that are cooling they say well that's a part of climate change. Any historical evidence of the climate changing in the past is shooed away with the same logic. I've recently seen the term climate weirding come up and I dare not contemplate what that means.

Another thing I don't understand is how global warming is equated with droughts. Droughts are associated with dry periods and a cooler climate... yet that is also never questioned.

A fair few of my friends are liberal and there are times where I sit there amazed by their capacity for double-think. You can try to reason with them... but silence seems par for the course.

jgress said...

This was not a very convincing piece. You can't disprove that the average global temperature is rising on the basis of a few years of local climate measurements, any more than you can disprove that East Asians are more intelligent than whites on the basis of the fact that all the whites in your classroom happen to be smarter than the Asians in the same classroom.

Where did you get the idea that a global temperature rise must mean that temperatures rise everywhere on the globe at once? Sorry but that is absurd. The earth's climate is a complex beast in which local dynamics can temporarily obscure global patterns. It's really not that hard to believe; to me it's like how the moon moves relative to the sun, but the earth's apparent stasis is only apparent, as it too moves around the sun, while the sun itself is not in fact stationary but moves around the center of the galaxy.

We don't live in the 16th century anymore, when any amateur could learn enough about a discipline to qualify as an expert. It's like when Biblical fundamentalists think they can disprove over a hundred years of painstaking and rigorous research in historical linguistics in order to "prove" that English comes from Hebrew. There is just too much knowledge out there for any one person to gain expertise in all of them.

Unfortunately, this means you do have to trust the experts, at least on matters of fact. You don't need to trust them when they attempt to interfere in matters of faith or morals, at least to the extent our faith and morals are not grounded in facts but in metaphysical assumptions. Indeed, when a scientist attempts to "refute" doctrine or traditional morality, he only displays the same arrogant contempt for the views of the experts (in this case, the Church Fathers or whatever religious authorities you please) as religious fundamentalists do when they attempt to question the factual discoveries of science.

Bruce Charlton said...


"you do have to trust the experts, at least on matters of fact."

Speak for yourself. I don't trust incompetent liars. IN fact I regard it as the height of stupidity to trust incompetent liars.

I am not trying to persuade you or anybody else about climate - this article was a demonstration of how things *have to be* in a world where incompetent liars control public discourse - we have to make up our own minds about things.

(And I know enough about statistics to recognize that three out of four possible instances of extreme events is probably not due to sampling error.)