Global warming is back on the table, back from the dead. After a long sleep the latest UN Report has splashed into media headlines about the dire planet-threatening catastrophe happening outside our windows, but which only a scientist with a special computer programme is able to detect. It is as if ClimateGate never happened, with so many climate statistics admitted to be and proven to be artificially manipulated. It is as if our own earth scientists were not in 2012 hauled into a NZ court below the media radar, the charge being that they had made up numbers to make their graphs look good.
Now we are being asked to believe that although naughty scientists miscalculated a wee bit in the past, the responsible ones had always been diligent and correct. Sea-levels are unquestionably rising despite no technology having been invented to verify it and no beaches appearing to change, and runaway rising temperatures are also now fact despite no one having a global thermometer that can measure the air temperature over the whole world a century ahead.
You can always fool some of the people some of the time. But the greater thinking public didn't buy the deception before and nothing has changed since. Australia has just elected a prime minister campaigning on the slogan "climate change is absolute crap". Abbott is telling academia to stop peddling a fantasy just to preserve lucrative incomes that used to come from "climate change" research. Public scepticism has never been higher, science vagueness never vaguer and the actual climate never more the same as it always was.
Global warmers are pointing triumphantly to Europe's recent scorching summer, saying see, this is going to be the pattern now for thousands of years to come, conveniently forgetting equally hot summers of 2006, 1995 and 1977. During the 2010 record freezing winter the UN said extreme colder winters were now our future. But the latest Report has just changed this to wetter winters. Next month's whim may be for windier winters. After the Japanese tsunami the UN warned of more huge tsunamis and cyclones, and droughts and floods ruling the lives of coming generations. But don't we always have them at some time or other?
Having had their proxy tree ring studies rubbished and declared invalid because of small sampling, the 'researchers' are turning instead to growth rings on undersea clamshells, as if that too is not small sampling. The story is that closeness of adjacent growth rings indicates years of increased ocean warmth. This conveniently factors-out undersea emissions, eruptions and fissures, thermal vents and other heating sources, long known to be so much a part of oceanic temperature forcing. A multitude of internal and cyclic heating sources inside our planet has always existed, from many millions of years before humans even evolved.
Let's look at the wording of the media's description of the latest UN Report. http://www.weatherwatch.co.nz/content/climate-change-report-extremely-likely-humans-are-responsible
It is that it is: "extremely likely" humans are responsible. And, "Human activity has caused at least half of climate change in the last half century, hundreds of scientists say. They are 95% certain of this, the surest they've ever been, says a United Nations report published Friday"
This is worth analysing if only for its comedic delight. First, let’s ask how climate change, whatever that is and by whose definition, is measured, such that half of it can be isolated, thence to find blame amongst humans for that half and not, presumably for the other half. So who would be to blame for the other half? How do we know which half is which? "At least" half, may not really even be half, but maybe a bit more spilling over into the next half.
The time frame is the "last half cenrury”. The last 50 years takes us back to 1963, a generation after the war, which would factor out industrialisation.
Next we come to what the "hundreds of scientists say". First we should ask what a scientist is, seeing we are pondering hundreds of them. We hardly want food scientists, toy scientists, or religious, sports or chess scientists. What starts off in the report as hundreds suddenly morph into 1000s, which just goes to show the power of the written word - it can produce people who weren't there a few sentences before.
It is not science that hundreds are 95% certain. "Certain" means always 100%. Either you are certain or you are not. You cannot be, say, a half a percent certain of something. It is like being a little bit hot, dead, wet, cannibalistic or Italian. As soon as you decide it, you are it. Otherwise language and logic are of little use. When you hold up a finger you say "one", not perhaps 95% of one, allowing that somewhere it may represent four and a half. Likewise, both 'extreme' and 'likely' are finite words.
Even if something carried a 95% certainty and a 5% uncertainty, which would be which? In other words, how certain can the observer be that the 5% of uncertainty was itself certain - and if so, how certain? Why that particular 5%? Would this not be itself 100% uncertain?
And what are the 95% certain of? Apparently "this" which refers to "at least half" of something. So we have a group of people who have self-decided that are scientists and the only ones that matter, consensual that they are certain there is uncertainty, although they are not fully certain but "the surest they've ever been". They were not so sure before of being certain there was uncertainty. Even of that they were not fully certain and their surest is now 95%. Going forward they are sure they are still not fully sure.
There remains the emperor's clothes moment. Any small boy can grasp it and yell it above the gullible crowd. That is, if scientists have any ongoing uncertainty about the extent or fact of climate change, then how can they be certain it is happening at all?