21 April, 2011

Climate & Non-Falsifiable Hypotheses

Prof. David Flint asks, “Why aren’t we being told?” at Quadrant Online:
The Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science, Alabama’s State Climatologist and the Director of the Earth System Science Center at The University of Alabama in Huntsville, Professor John R Christy, has served both as a Lead Author and Contributing Author of IPCC assessments.  He told Congress […] that it has become popular to try to  attribute certain “extreme events” to human causation.  […]
In his testimony, Professor Christy assesses a number of recent “extreme events” and the explanations that have been offered as to their cause.  […]
Professor Christy finds there has been a relative lull in Queensland flooding events after 1900, with only four reaching the moderate category in the past 110 years.  But fourteen such events were recorded in the 60 years before 1900.  He says the recent floods have been exceeded six times in the last 170 years.  Two of them recorded almost double the level of flooding last year.  And what exactly was the role of the emergency releases from the Wyvenhoe Dam in the recent Brisbane floods is yet to be determined.
Professor Christy also considers the floods in England, Russia and Pakistan and snowfall in the US.  His conclusion is that the history charts indicate that severe flooding and other extreme events occur from “natural unenforced variability.”  The climate system, he says, has always had within itself the capability of causing devastating events.  And these will certainly continue—with or without human influence.
What should we do?
He says nothing about a carbon dioxide tax, or a carbon price or bank induced carbon trading, instead we should plan for the infrastructure projects to be able to withstand the worst that we already know has occurred.
We must understand the obvious—that the worst events should be expected within such a dynamic system.  That is what anyone with common sense realises.  […]
Just as an exercise he pulls out some US statistics which would make you think the weather in the relevant states is in fact getting less extreme and colder.  But, he says, he is not trying to prove either.  His point is that extreme events are poor tools to use for detecting climate change.
Indeed it is by using extreme events to bolster a claim about any type of climate change, the proponents risk setting up a classic inverted “non-falsifiable hypothesis.”
Thus we were told by the IPCC that milder winter temperatures would increase heavy snowstorms.  But after the winters of 2009-10 and 2010-11, we are told the opposite by IPCC advocates.
He says the non-falsifiable hypothesis works this way.  “Whatever happens is consistent with my hypothesis.”  In other words there is no event which would falsify the hypothesis.
Such assertions, he says, cannot be considered science or in any way informative since the hypothesis’ fundamental prediction is “anything may happen.”  […]
Given that we are told that “the science” points only one way and everyone else is a “ratbag denier”, surely the Australian people are entitled to know of testimony by an expert which flies in the face of the establishment position.  The fact that it coincides with the common sense you find in the rank and file is not sufficient reason to censor it.

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