Thursday, May 15, 2008 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Female and male alarmists spam Nature

I've added "male" to the title to assure you that I see all of them. ;-) But the order matters, in this case.

After some time, I looked how the contemporary alarmist peer-reviewed literature about the climate looks like and I was absolutely horrified.

The following report seems to be special among the alarmist screams because of a technicality, namely the unprecedentedly high concentration of women. Let us start in the Financial Times. Fiona Harvey gave her article a very modest title:

Proof found of man-made climate change.
Well, such a title is eye-catching, to say the least. :-) The similarity with articles about "a surfer dude who has found the theory of everything" is far too obvious. Harvey's article contains neither the title nor the names of the authors of this apparently revolutionary article. It only quotes a Gentleman called Barry Brook who predicts up to 6.75 °C of warming in the 21st century. It's a lot - roughly 10 times more than what science actually predicts - so he must be a great scientist. ;-)

So it is not straightforward to find the actual research article. Fortunately, after some time, you can find another article about the article by another girl-turned-amateur-scientist, Emma Marris:
Warming world altering thousands of natural systems
Her article is highlighted by a huge advertisement on the title page of She "explains" the "methodology" of the "proof". They look at 829 phenomena related to ecosystems and they find that some of them have not been changing significantly since the 1970s while others exhibit a trend. Among those where a trend is observed, 90% of cases are consistent with warming. And this is supposed to be a proof of AGW.

The actual "groundbreaking" article by Cynthia Rosenzweig et al. is here:
Attributing physical and biological impacts to anthropogenic climate change
Already in the abstract, they say that "these temperature increases at continental scales cannot be explained by natural climate variations alone." How do they figure out that the naturally looking variations we have seen since the 1970s cannot be explained by natural variations? Well, the essence of their "reasoning" is explained in the following sentence of the abstract:
Given the conclusions from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report that most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-twentieth century is very likely to be due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations, ...
Wow. So The Financial Times unapologetically tell you that there is a proof of man-made global warming and if you look what the proof actually is, you see that 14 mostly female authors are excited about parroting a pre-determined sentence from a summary of the IPCC report that they were helping to write themselves, anyway.

Now, there is nothing unusual about the observations of their paper. All systems in Nature are guaranteed to be changing. Regardless of the causes, some of these changes will be significant, some of them won't be. That's exactly what they observe. Now, how many of the statistically significant changes are expected to be consistent with global warming?

It depends how you define consistency: most importantly, it depends on your standards of consistency. The fewer details a person knows, the harder it is for her to falsify a statement and the more things can look consistent with each other, especially if she is willing to help them to look so. If she knows almost nothing, like the authors of the article in Nature, then pretty much everything is consistent with everything else and with global warming in particular. Even global cooling was recently argued to be consistent with global warming. No wonder that 90% of other changes are consistent, too.

But even if you consider perfect scientists who can determine what is actually consistent with warming and what is consistent with cooling (and who don't adjust some of the arguments in order to increase their number to 90%), it is not shocking that the percentage of observed effects consistent with warming will deviate from 50%. The Earth is small enough and the mostly warming effects we have seen in the last 30 years are indeed influencing most of the surface in the same direction: 30 years is simply a long enough time for the diffusion to distribute the heat over the Earth quasi-uniformly and for the continents to be closer to being "correlated with each other" than being "independent".

Of course that when it is generally warmer on a bulk of the Earth's surface, flowers of all kinds will tend to blossom earlier (they are adapting, if you wish), heating will be turned on less frequently while the air-conditioning will be running more often. You don't need to be collecting 829 examples of effects whose parameters depend on temperature.

This trivial observation clearly doesn't imply anything whatsoever about the man-made or natural origin of the climate change. Everything can boil down to the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, galactic cosmic rays variations, or any other natural phenomenon you can think of.

Equally importantly, it doesn't imply anything about climate change's being dangerous: "discernible" effects are usually much smaller than "dangerous" ones. Quite on the contrary: it shows how ecosystems (and people) naturally adapt and the changes of external parameters are not dangerous as long as the players are allowed to adapt.

I find it amazing that the modern society not only pays billions of dollars to these severely limited people in order to allow them to play the game in which they are the "scientists" but it even tries to pay attention to the results of their hysterically unscientific enterprise.

The most famous article by Cynthia Rosenzweig is her (and Parry's) 1994 article about the impact of climate change on the world food supply. Well, so far we could have only observed the impact of insane environmentalist policies on food inflation. Predominantly because of biodiesel, food prices have jumped by dozens of percent.

Overproduction of food - once viewed as a permanent economical disease of the first world - has evaporated within a few years. This is the kind of stuff that actually influences and alters the life of humans and societies and the life on Earth in general. You don't have to wait for a century to see a hypothetical effect - like in the stupid fairy-tales about the dangerous global warming. It is enough to allow the Greens to be realizing 1% of their goals for 2 years and we already begin to see some serious trouble. Try to imagine that they are allowed to do the remaining 99% of their plans for several decades.

Global changes of Nature - even if they were man-made - usually take decades to make a visible impact on the society. On the other hand, social changes and new economic policies can lead to good or devastating results much faster. We should think at least twice which of these two classes of changes we should be more careful about.

What is really endangered: climate or freedom? What do you think? And what is worse for humans: 0.006 °C (or even the "catastrophic" IPCC's figure of 0.03 °C) of predicted average man-made warming per year or a 10% jump of food prices per year? How many people have actually thought about these questions in quantitative rather than binary, dogmatic terms?

It is an interesting exercise to go through all the authors because many of them are rather typical authors of the IPCC reports. For example, the third author of the "proof" is Marta Vicarelli, a contributing author of the IPCC report. This is the kind of people who are often being presented as leading scientists. When you actually look who she is, you learn that she is not even a PhD - she is just a PhD candidate who doesn't have a single citation - and the only thing she can apparently do is to co-write similarly irrational alarmist rants about risks.

Many of these women and men are affiliated with NASA. Even if their work were science and not just the junk science we can read, we should ask: what the hell does their activity have to do with space research?

This is what political correctness is doing all the time. I find it outrageous that similar garbage is being printed in journals that used to be prestigious and that average or downright stupid women and men who can't reach the ankles of people whom I consider scientists of global importance are being presented by dishonest journalists-activists as the world's leading scientists. This proliferation of idiots and parasites in the name of political correctness is just disgraceful. And it is very dangerous, too.

And that's the memo.

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