# Calling Bulls**t on Climate Change (But in a Rational, Open-Minded Way), Part I

In order to achieve the Ultimate State of Enlightenment re: Climate Change Policy, we have been encouraged to swallow Al Gore’s panicky conclusion (that We Must Act Now! to Combat AGW!) in one giant leap of faith. Doubters are marginalized with the label “Global Warming Deniers”.

Using simple mathematical and decision-making principles, you, too, can be a bona-fide Climate Change Skeptic, and not a Global Warming Denier.

The Act Now! conclusion depends on at least three separate Premises, each of which must be independently judged to be True. Each of these propositions is a matter of science, engineering and/or economics. Each one involves its own degree of uncertainty.

Those Premises are:

Premise A: The earth (a.k.a. Mother Gaia) is experiencing a warming trend; and

Premise B:
An increase in the atmospheric concentration of certain gases, principally carbon dioxide, is sufficient to cause Global Warming. Further, human activity is the primary cause of the increase; and

Premise C: Humankind can take effective actions to adapt to or to mitigate the warming trend.

One may totally agree with Premise A, but be uncertain with regard to Premise B: is it possible that warming causes carbon dioxide to increase and not vice-versa? And even if we had solid proof of Premises A and B (thereby proving Anthropogenic Global Warming, AGW), if there are no solutions then Premise C is False.

The Laws of Probability let us consider the joint probability of two or more independent events by multiplying the independent probabilities. Thus, by multiplying the chance that Premise A is True times the chance that Premise B is True (symbolically, P(A) x P(B)), we calculate the chance that both A and B are True (in this example, the chance that AGW is True: there is Global Warming and it is caused by manmade CO2).

Take it one more step: the chance that the AGW hypothesis is True and that we can effectively fight it is:

P(A) x P(B) x P(C)

In its 2007 Summary Report, the International Panel on Climate Change addresses the uncertainty of each of these premises, as good scientists should. As for Premise A, IPCC says “Warming of the climate system is unequivocal…,” implying 100% certainty: P(A)=100%.

Premise B: “There is very high confidence [>90%] that the net effect of human activities since 1750 has been one of warming. … Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely [i.e., P(B)>90%] due to the observed increase in anthropogenic GHG [greenhouse gas] concentrations. It is likely [>66%] that there has been significant anthropogenic warming over the past 50 years averaged over each continent (except Antarctica).” [Emphasis in original.]

As for Premise C, the IPCC’s positions are less straightforward. Their report addresses “adaptation” and “mitigation” as two separate but complementary strategies for dealing with Climate Change. On the topic of adaptation, the IPCC says: “A wide array of adaptation options is available, but more extensive adaptation than is currently occurring is required to reduce vulnerability to climate change. There are barriers, limits and costs, which are not fully understood.”

“There is high confidence [80% +/-] that there are viable adaptation options that can be implemented in some sectors [this emphasis mine] at low cost, and/or with high benefit-cost ratios. However, comprehensive estimates of global costs and benefits of adaptation are limited.” …

[On mitigation:] “Both bottom-up and top-down studies indicate that there is high agreement and much evidence of substantial economic potential for the mitigation of global GHG emissions over the coming decades that could offset the projected growth of global emissions or reduce emissions below current levels … . While top-down and bottom-up studies are in line at the global level … there are considerable differences at the sectoral level.”

IPCC doesn’t quantify “high agreement”, so let’s go with the value they give to “high confidence”: around 80% certainty, P(C)=80%. That number applies if we take Premises A & B as given; if there is no AGW, then there is no remedy needed; the “high benefit-cost ratios” on which they base their high confidence in a (To Be Determined) mitigation strategy.

So in this admittedly simplistic analysis, one that admittedly does not take into account all the complexity, caveats and weasel words in the IPCC report, can we estimate IPCC’s confidence in both the need and efficacy of a Climate Change Solution?

100% x 90% x 80% = 72%

OK, so even allowing for the uncertainty of estimating uncertainties, the IPCC thinks that somewhere around 3 chances in 4 that A) the earth is warming and B) manmade CO2 is the cause and C) we should do something about it.

To put it another way, there’s a 1 in 4 chance that the remedies are a waste, either because they’re not needed, or because they’re ineffective. Or both.

Wow. It’s sure not being sold to the public that way.

It’s not like the IPCC doesn’t have a dog in the fight. Heck, Climate Change is part of their name. Can we really expect an unbiased judgment to come from them? The Accepted Truth of the Climate Change Hypothesis is why the organization exists. We expect Archer-Daniels-Midland to have a bias toward corn based ethanol, or Peabody Coal and ExxonMobil to favor fossil fuels. A scientist in any of these organizations who did not support the primary product would be, ahem, severely limiting his or her upward mobility within the organization. It would be naïve to think the same kind of bias does not exist within an organization called the International Panel on Climate Change.

In Part II, I take a stab at assessing the uncertainty for myself.

• bk

I’ll put it in a logical structure more than math. Fill in variables as you please.
If ChooseYourData >= ChooseYourValue Then
Cause(AllEvils) = “Global Warming”
Else
Cause(AllEvils) = “Climate Change”

But even that is too complex for some liberals, so the simpler version is something like:
Cause(AllEvils) = !BushSign(KyotoTreaty)

• Rod_Patrick

Looks kike a complicated algorithm to a foolish conservative like me.

Even Knuth will have a hard time to translate this into an efficient code.

Ha ha ha!

• Praying

I think I like the ultimate direction you are taking this, but… you are giving far more credit to the AGW alarmists than you should. For example:
Premise A: The earth (a.k.a. Mother Gaia) is experiencing a warming trend; and
FALSE – it’s been fairly well established that the earth is experiencing a cooling trend and may in fact be headed toward another regular, cyclical ice age or at least mini ice age. Average temperatures have been decreasing since a peak in 1998, which was not nearly as warm as temperatures recorded earlier in the century

Premise B: An increase in the atmospheric concentration of certain gases, principally carbon dioxide, is sufficient to cause Global Warming. Further, human activity is the primary cause of the increase; and
FALSE – the gas most likely to cause global warming is dihydrous oxide, or H20, or water vapor (all the same thing if you are chemically challenged). Carbon dioxide levels have been declining over 100s of millions of years, and were at their highest levels in the Cambrian era, during which life was literally EXPLODING on earth.

Premise C: Humankind can take effective actions to adapt to or to mitigate the warming trend.
FALSE – it is far more likely that any variations in global temperatures are due to minor variations in solar activity and/or variations in the orientation of the earth in it’s orbit around the sun. I’m not saying we should not be good stewards of our natural resources, but the hysteria spewing forth from the global change community, and the calls for carbon tax and trade and shutting down coal plants is totally irrational. Due to variations in wind intensity, wind power often takes more energy to produce than it produces. Solar energy cells cannot be easily disposed of as they contain toxic metals. Same with the new high tech light bulbs. There are many unintended consequences with policies and agendas that ride in on a wave of hysteria, and we need to be very careful before we let a bunch of lawyers and politicians masquerading as scientists ruin or economy.
(source: http://www.americanthinker.com/2009/01/co2_fairytales_in_global_warmi.html)

Here’s where I’m going with this: even if one buys the basic premise(s), any reasonable level of uncertainty compounds to the point that the conclusion is untenable.

I think the IPCC knows and understands this, they just dodge the issue.

You, being a geologist, have seen this applied in petroleum exploration: the trap, the source, the timing & the reservoir all have separate risks. Even when each of them is fairly likely in isolation, when you need all the elements to come together, the joint likelihood is quite small.

• Praying

I’m sorry, Vladimir – I hope you didn’t think I was jumping on you personally – for some reason this is such a REACTIVE issue for me ( maybe because I hate to see science corrupted by politicians?) And I did see that you were going in the path you are going, but I just got impatient! (I always hated watching Batman as a kid too – I was too impatient to wait until the next week for part 2 of the episode!)

The thing I love about science is that in many cases, it is not absolute. My husband’s thesis advisor had a saying “damn – another brilliant hypothesis ruined by hard, cruel facts.” And so we do the best we can – analyze the data we have, and evaluate it empirically and historically to try to explain what is happening. But what the AGW people have done, most especially Jim Hansen from NASA, is to falsify the data (what do you mean we posted the September 2008 data again in October!) and to base their hypotheses on computer modeling (or more accurately, computer predictions). Most of the historical data is ignored by these folks (how convenient, since it doesn’t fit their tidy “model”). And then they try to force policy and economic sanctions based on crappy science. It just infuriates me. So I tend to jump out and get a little defensive, and I apologize, your article was well researched and brilliantly presented! I just worried that someone might read it and think it justifies their misguided opinion that AGW is real, and that we have to do something IMMEDIATELY, before it is TOO LATE (kinda like signing the stimulus, huh…). I’m anxiously awaiting part two!

• Mike gamecock DeVine

man has existed for less than 1/1000th of 1% of the age of the earth
half of SC was under the Atlanta for 10s of thousands of years before the first Chevy

the sun warmed the earth since the beginning thru now

water vapor is the main greenhouse gas 94%
cow farts are more warming than man’s breathing out

earth been getting COOLER for 10 years

don’t give so much credence to the kooks that are defining carbon dioxide as a pollutant so as to regulate capitalism and liberty out of existence quicker than any stimulus or mtg or bank bailout bill can