Dienstag, März 18, 2008

Exactly My Point...

As faithful readers will know, I'm not a fan of the global warming scene.


Because the "experts" demand that we act based on model results. But they're not really even experts: they're politicals who have hijacked the movement to further their own means (yes, the Watermelons are back).

The climate modelers don't think that their models should be used for this purpose (link to original here):

We all seem to agree that our state-of-the-art models aren't satisfactory representations of climate on Earth--at least not to the degree required to make decisions with them. We also agree that people are concerned with climate change and eager to incorporate information about future changes in their decision making, and we're conscious of the need to relate our research agenda and findings to real-world demands. Finally, there's consensus that we cannot look at climate forecasts--in particular, probabilistic forecasts--the same way we view weather predictions, and none of us would sell climate-model output, either at face value or after statistical analysis, as a reliable representation of the complete range of possible futures.

These are the first words of truth that I have ever heard from the people actually involved in the modelling work: we've seen the duplicity and falsehood from Mann on the Hockey Stick, and increasingly we're finding that the original, primary data for temperatures is either heavily compromised or has been severely modified with no explanations or documentation, since it otherwise shows a rather different picture.

But it gets better (from the same source):

Do we believe that today's models can provide decision-relevant probabilities at a resolution of tens of square kilometers for the year 2060--or even 2020 for that matter? No. But that does not suggest we believe there is no value in climate modeling. Since the climate is changing, we can no longer comfortably base our decisions on past observations. Therefore, we must incorporate insights from our models as the best guide for the future. But to accept a naive realist interpretation of model behaviors cast as a Bayesian probability distribution is, as mathematician and philosopher Alfred Whitehead surmised, to mistake an abstract concept for concrete reality.

Until we can establish a reasonable level of internal consistency and empirical adequacy, declining to interpret model-based probabilities as decision-relevant probabilities isn't high skepticism, but scientific common sense.

In other words, the models run the danger of becoming self-fulfilling prophecies: to "incorporate insights" means nothing less than to bias the models to a set result. This is, bluntly, unprofessional. But the basic thrust of this is correct: too often is an abstract concept mistaken to be concrete reality: you can see this best in the dogmatic belief in model results as being an accurate representation of the future.

As someone with 20 years' experience as an industrial forecaster, who regularly forecasts out to 2040, and in some cases 2150, I can only underline this: a forecast is a picture of a possible future, based on what is known today, and can only be done professionally when the forecaster knows his own biases and removes them from the forecast. You do this by rigorously testing the statistics and carefully analyzing the interdependencies of your model for reality: to "incorporate insights" is to introduce biases into the models that is, at the end of the day, wishful thinking (wishful thinking here understood as "how can I get research grants").

Now, companies, those with business plans, use forecasts to determine where they should be investing and developing business. The critical use of a forecast is to constantly review these decisions and to change them when conditions change. The problem I have with the global warming fanatics is that they don't want to do this: there is no incrementalism to the process, but rather the incessant and constant demand to drink the Kool-Aide, forever committing to the process. That is, bluntly, really bad economics, and something that none of the folks involved bother to address (and waving the chimera of eco-jobs doesn't count: the economic dislocations that are called for are massive and cannot be compensated for: the global warming folks want the majority of people to be poor and have their consumption habits firmly under control).

And finally:

Yet demands from policy makers for scientific-looking probability distributions for regional climate changes are mounting, and while there are a number of ways to provide them, all, in my opinion, are equally unverifiable. Therefore, while it is seductive to attempt to corner our ignorance with the seeming certainty of 95-percent confidence intervals, the comfort it gives is likely to be an illusion.

The problem is that the climatology has been, to a large degree, hijacked by "policy makers" with the willing collusion of many involved, not the least due to the promise of major research money and, to a lesser but also critical degree, the desire to be the leveraging force behind policy making: climatology, or better what has usurped the science, is eager to be primary amongst those making the calls and deciding, politically and economically, how the planet is run.

Why? Because no one runs the planet now. For some that idea is an abomination: for others, like me, it's the right and proper order of things that there is no right and proper order. As one of the commentors ut supra said (non-quoted here): the Earth is an uncontrolled experiment.

They think that they know better how it will turn out.

What galling hubris...

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