Sanjeev Sabhlok: Climate Science Violates The Basic Precepts Of Science

  • Date: 10/05/19
  • Sanjeev Sabhlok, The Times of India

Climate science is too primitive to be of any use in making policy. Let it first get its predictions right and become a genuine science.

There are two key pillars of science. First, it doesn’t matter how many “scientists” believe something. All of them could be proven wrong by a single new scientific theory or experiment. Science is always tentatively proven, and it is incumbent on everyone who calls himself a scientist to ask questions even about things that are “settled”. The great physicist Richard Feynman rightly said, “Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts”. Scientists must continually question everything and everybody.

Second, science must necessarily make accurate predictions. The global positioning system (GPS) in our mobile phones works only because Einstein’s theories of relativity are accurate to the last possible decimal. Science must not just predict the future: it must predict backwards. Our scientific understanding of cosmic microwave background radiation allows us to literally see the universe as it existed a few thousand years after the Big Bang.

With climate change, things are dramatically unclear and unsettled. Even converting the basic logic of the greenhouse effect into actual estimates for planet Earth is not settled. The IPCC’s Third Assessment Report notes that “If the amount of carbon dioxide were doubled instantaneously … the temperature of the surface-troposphere system would have to increase by 1.2 degrees, in the absence of other changes”. However, some scientists calculate that its impact would be much lower.

Even if we accept this figure of 1.2 degrees, the key question is about these “other changes”, or the feedbacks. IPCCs tells us that positive feedback loops (e.g. from water vapour) from doubling of CO2 will overwhelm negative feedback loops (e.g. from clouds) to lead to a much higher overall temperature in a hundred years. But the IPCC’s approved models have too much variance and the actual, measured temperatures over the past forty years have been much lower than the predicted average of the IPCC-approved climate models. In fact, the list of failed predictions by climate “scientists” over the past 100 years could form a large book in itself.

Climate science is more like “diet science”, in which every second doctor has his own ideas about a good diet. It is a very immature science at best, and most of its current conclusions will be totally rejected with time.

What is global temperature anyway? How is it measured? Why are we looking at the last fifty years and not the last fifty million years? Even simple things like the measurements of temperature are subject to huge disagreements because of complexities like the urban heat island effect. And the fact is that the world has seen much higher levels of CO2 in the past even during ice ages. Until climate science can make accurate predictions of past ice ages and temperatures, will not be ready to be called a science…

The fact that there is an attempt by some people to bulldoze others into “believing” their views itself confirms that this is not a science. Moreover, there are strong reasons to believe that this field has been fully captured by commercial interests. The great economist George Stigler raised the issue of regulatory capture in the 1970s to describe the situation when a regulator is no longer independent and unbiased because of commercial conflicts of interest. As Mark Lynas has pointed out, “The renewables industry stands to be the main beneficiary of any change in government policies based on the IPCC report’s conclusions”. I believe that an even greater conflict of interest comes from politically inspired group think in government which means that those “scientists” who can successfully create more panic receive more money to help them expand their empire. Real scientists, who want to explore questions that might disprove the “findings” of climate science, are being refused research funding and even being ousted from universities.

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