Under the radar – the NAS Report

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

Under the radar, and un-noticed by many climate scientists, there was a recent study by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), commissioned by the US Government, regarding climate change. Here is the remit under which they were supposed to operate:

Specifically, our charge was

1. To identify the principal premises on which our current understanding of the question [of the climate effects of CO2] is based,

2. To assess quantitatively the adequacy and uncertainty of our knowledge of these factors and processes, and

3. To summarize in concise and objective terms our best present understanding of the carbon dioxide/climate issue for the benefit of policymakers.

Now, that all sounds quite reasonable. In fact, if we knew the answers to those questions, we’d be a long ways ahead of where we are now.

Figure 1. The new Cray supercomputer called “Gaea”, which was recently installed at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It will be used to run climate models.

But as it turned out, being AGW supporting climate scientists, the NAS study group decided that they knew better. They decided that to answer the actual question they had been asked would be too difficult, that it would take too long.

Now that’s OK. Sometimes scientists are asked for stuff that might take a decade to figure out. And that’s just what they should have told their political masters, can’t do it, takes too long. But noooo … they knew better, so they decided that instead, they should answer a different question entirely. After listing the reasons that it was too hard to answer the questions they were actually asked, they say (emphasis mine):

A complete assessment of all the issues will be a long and difficult task.

It seemed feasible, however, to start with a single basic question:  If we were indeed certain that atmospheric carbon dioxide would increase on a known schedule, how well could we project the climatic consequences?

Oooookaaaay … I guess that’s now the modern post-normal science method. First, you assume that there will be “climatic consequences” from increasing CO2. Then you see if you can “project the consequences”.

They are right that it is easier to do that than to actually establish IF there will be climatic consequences. It makes it so much simpler if you just assume that CO2 drives the climate. Once you have the answer, the questions get much easier …

However, they did at least try to answer their own question. And what are their findings? Well, they started out with this:

We estimate the most probable global warming for a doubling of CO2 to be near 3’C with a probable error of ± 1.5°C.

No surprise there. They point out that this estimate, of course, comes from climate models. Surprisingly, however, they have no question and are in no mystery about whether climate models are tuned or not. They say (emphasis mine):

Since individual clouds are below the grid scale of the general circulation models, ways must be found to relate the total cloud amount in a grid box to the grid-point variables. Existing parameterizations of cloud amounts in general circulation models are physically very crude. When empirical adjustments of parameters are made to achieve verisimilitude, the model may appear to be validated against the present climate. But such tuning by itself does not guarantee that the response of clouds to a change in the CO2 concentration is also tuned. It must thus be emphasized that the modeling of clouds is one of the weakest links in the general circulation modeling efforts.

Modeling of clouds is one of the weakest links … can’t disagree with that.

So what is the current state of play regarding the climate feedback? The authors say that the positive water vapor feedback overrules any possible negative feedbacks:

We have examined with care ail known negative feedback mechanisms, such as increases in low or middle cloud amount, and have concluded that the oversimplifications and inaccuracies in the models are not likely to have vitiated the principal conclusion that there will be appreciable warming. The known negative feedback mechanisms can reduce the warming, but they do not appear to be so strong as the positive moisture feedback.

However, as has been the case for years, when you get to the actual section of the report where they discuss the clouds (the main negative feedback), the report merely reiterates that the clouds are poorly understood and poorly represented … how does that work, that they are sure the net feedback is positive, but they don’t understand and can only poorly represent the negative feedbacks? They say, for example:

How important the overall cloud effects are is, however, an extremely difficult question to answer. The cloud distribution is a product of the entire climate system, in which many other feedbacks are involved. Trustworthy answers can be obtained only through comprehensive numerical modeling of the general circulations of the atmosphere and oceans together with validation by comparison of the observed with the model-produced cloud types and amounts.

In other words, they don’t know but they’re sure the net is positive.

Regarding whether the models are able to accurately replicate regional climates, the report says:

At present, we cannot simulate accurately the details of regional climate and thus cannot predict the locations and intensities of regional climate changes with confidence. This situation may be expected to improve gradually as greater scientific understanding is acquired and faster computers are built.

So there you have it, folks. The climate sensitivity is 3°C per doubling of CO2, with an error of about ± 1.5°C. Net feedback is positive, although we don’t understand the clouds. The models are not yet able to simulate regional climates. No surprises in any of that. It’s just what you’d expect a NAS panel to say.

Now, before going forwards, since the NAS report is based on computer models, let me take a slight diversion to list a few facts about computers, which are a long-time fascination of mine. As long as I can remember, I wanted a computer of my own. When I was a little kid I dreamed about having one. I speak a half dozen computer languages reasonably well, and there are more that I’ve forgotten. I wrote my first computer program in 1963.

Watching the changes in computer power has been astounding. In 1979, the fastest computer in the world was the Cray-1 supercomputer. In 1979, a Cray-1 supercomputer, a machine far beyond anything that most scientists might have dreamed of having, had 8 Mb of memory, 10 Gb of hard disk space, and ran at 100 MFLOPS (million floating point operations per second). The computer I’m writing this on has a thousand times the memory, fifty times the disk space, and two hundred times the speed of the Cray-1.

And that’s just my desktop computer. The new NASA climate supercomputer “Gaea” shown in Figure 1 runs two and a half million times as fast as a Cray-1. This means that a one-day run on “Gaea” would take a Cray-1 about seven thousand years to complete …

Now, why is the speed of a Cray-1 computer relevant to the NAS report I quoted from above?

It is relevant because as some of you may have realized, the NAS report I quoted from above is called the “Charney Report“. As far as I know, it was the first official National Academy of Science statement on the CO2 question. And when I said it was a “recent report”, I was thinking about it in historical terms. It was published in 1979.

Here’s the bizarre part, the elephant in the climate science room. The Charney Report could have been written yesterday. AGW supporters are still making exactly the same claims, as if no time had passed at all. For example, AGW supporters are still saying the same thing about the clouds now as they were back in 1979—they admit they don’t understand them, that it’s the biggest problem in the models, but all the same but they’re sure the net feedback is positive. I’m not sure clear that works, but it’s been that way since 1979.

That’s the oddity to me—when you read the Charney Report, it is obvious that almost nothing of significance has changed in the field since 1979. There have been no scientific breakthroughs, no new deep understandings. People are still making the same claims about climate sensitivity, with almost no change in the huge error limits. The range still varies by a factor of three, from about 1.5 to about 4.5°C per doubling of CO2.

Meanwhile, the computer horsepower has increased beyond anyone’s wildest expectations. The size of the climate models has done the same. The climate models of 1979 were thousands of lines of code. The modern models are more like millions of lines of code. Back then it was atmosphere only models with a few layers and large gridcells. Now we have fully coupled ocean-atmosphere-cryosphere-biosphere-lithosphere models, with much smaller gridcells and dozens of both oceanic and atmospheric layers.

And since 1979, an entire climate industry has grown up that has spent millions of human-hours applying that constantly increasing computer horsepower to studying the climate.

And after the millions of hours of human effort, after the millions and millions of dollars gone into research, after all of those million-fold increases in computer speed and size, and after the phenomenal increase in model sophistication and detail … the guesstimated range of climate sensitivity hasn’t narrowed in any significant fashion. It’s still right around 3 ± 1.5°C per double of CO2, just like it was in 1979.

And the same thing is true on most fronts in climate science. We still don’t understand the things that were mysteries a third of a century ago.  After all of the gigantic advances in model speed, size, and detail, we still can say nothing definitive about the clouds. We still don’t have a handle on the net feedback. It’s like the whole realm of climate science got stuck in a 1979 time warp, and has basically gone nowhere since then. The models are thousands of times bigger, and thousands of times faster, and thousands of times more complex, but they are still useless for regional predictions.

How can we understand this stupendous lack of progress, a third of a century of intensive work with very little to show for it?

For me, there is only one answer. The lack of progress means that there is some fundamental misunderstanding at the very base of the modern climate edifice. It means that the underlying paradigm that the whole field is built on must contain some basic and far-reaching theoretical error.

Now we can debate what that fundamental misunderstanding might be.

But I see no other explanation that makes sense. Every other field of science has seen huge advances since 1979. New fields have opened up, old fields have moved ahead. Genomics and nanotechnology and proteomics and optics and carbon chemistry and all the rest, everyone has ridden the computer revolution to heights undreamed of … except climate science.

That’s the elephant in the room—the incredible lack of progress in the field despite a third of a century of intense study.

Now me, I think the fundamental misunderstanding is the idea that the surface air temperature is a linear function of forcing. That’s why it was lethal for the Charney folks to answer the wrong question. They started with the assumption that a change in forcing would change the temperature, and wondered “how well could we project the climatic consequences?”

Once you’ve done that, once you’ve assumed that CO2 is the culprit, you’ve ruled out the understanding of the climate as a heat engine.

Once you’ve done that, you’ve ruled out the idea that like all flow systems, the climate has preferential states, and that it evolves to maximize entropy.

Once you’ve done that, you’ve ruled out all of the various thermostatic and homeostatic climate mechanisms that are operating at a host of spatial and temporal scales.

And as it turns out, once you’ve done that, once you make the assumption that surface temperature is a linear function of forcing, you’ve ruled out any progress in the field until that error is rectified.

But that’s just me. You may have some other explanation for the almost total lack of progress in climate science in the last third of a century, and if so, all cordial comments gladly accepted. Allow me to recommend that your comments be brief, clear and interesting.

w.

PS—Please do not compare this to the lack of progress in something like achieving nuclear fusion. Unlike climate science, that is a practical problem, and a devilishly complex one. The challenge there is to build something never seen in nature—a bottle that can contain the sun here on earth.

Climate, on the other hand, is a theoretical question, not a building challenge.

PPS—Please don’t come in and start off with version number 45,122,164 of the “Willis, you’re an ignorant jerk” meme. I know that. I was born yesterday, and my background music is Tom o’Bedlam’s song:

By a host of furious fancies

Whereof I am commander

With a sword of fire, and a steed of air

Through the universe I wander.

By a ghost of rags and shadows

I summoned am to tourney

Ten leagues beyond the wild world's end

Methinks it is no journey.

So let’s just take my ignorance and my non compos mentation and my general jerkitude as established facts, consider them read into the record, and stick to the science, OK?

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I find it fascinating that optics is still moving ahead by leaps and bounds even though the major breakthrough (clear glass) occurred over a thousand years ago and spectacles 800 years ago. Without them, my life would be hell. Maybe climatology is still stuck in the Dark Ages 😉

neo

apparently you don’t understand that science is hypothesis driven nor do I guess you understand what a hypothesis actually is or is used for in these studies.
Otherwise you wouldn’t taking the hypothesis as predetermined fact

SimonJ

“The known negative feedback mechanisms can reduce the warming, but they do not appear to be so strong as the positive moisture feedback.”
But later you say that their conclusion is that feedback is overall NEGATIVE.
As an engineer familiar with control systems, and thus feedback, I realise that climate science (TM) has redefined the terminology used in discussing feedback, but surely the whole AGW edifice relies on POSITIVE feedback. (increased temperature produced more moisture, which produces more warming, which produces more moisture etc etc until we’re living in a 100% RH dripping jungle)
Have I missed something? (it is only 7 in the morning, and it’s been a bloody long week)

[Thanks, fixed
. You are right, they say it is overall positive -w.]

Roy UK

A very interesting article, thank you Willis. They came up with some numbers back in 1979 based on computer models.
“We estimate the most probable global warming for a doubling of CO2 to be near 3′C with a probable error of ± 1.5°C.”
What fraction of doubling of CO2 have we had during this time, and what has the temperature change been? ie what does the real world data say?

Reblogged this on The GOLDEN RULE and commented:
What a wonderful post! The conclusions by Willis are simply, as I read them, the science of AGW, whatever name they use, is not only NOT SETTLED, it is practically NON EXISTENT. I intend wafting throughthis article again to extract some relevant bits supporting my conclusion. In the meantime please read it yourself and tell me if you think I am wrong.

DBCooper

“Net feedback is negative, although we don’t understand the clouds.” Didn’t you mean positive? [Thanks, fixed -w.]

Willis Eschenbach

Roy UK says:
March 7, 2012 at 11:06 pm

A very interesting article, thank you Willis. They came up with some numbers back in 1979 based on computer models.
“We estimate the most probable global warming for a doubling of CO2 to be near 3′C with a probable error of ± 1.5°C.”
What fraction of doubling of CO2 have we had during this time, and what has the temperature change been? ie what does the real world data say?

I discuss that question in my post Triangular Fuzzy Numbers and the IPCC. A relevant quote:

The final number, their estimate for the warming since 1750 predicted by their magic equation, is [0.3, 1.3, 3.1] °C of warming.
Let me say that another way, it’s important. For a quarter century now the AGW supporters have put millions of hours and millions of dollars into studies and computer models. In addition, the whole IPCC apparatus has creaked and groaned for fifteen years now, and that’s the best they can tell us for all of that money and all of the studies and all of the models?
The mountain has labored and concluded that since 1750, we should have seen a warming of somewhere between a third of a degree and three degrees … that’s some real impressive detective work there, Lou …

You just found the answer to how to answer the question. Start with a new group of people that are not restricted trying to dry lab from the answer to the question. Now if only the people and funding could be put together. Never mind there is no way to create fear and get money.

A complete assessment of all the issues will be a long and difficult task.
____________________________
No, a complete assessment of all the issues will be an impossible task.
My “complete assessment of all the issues” as to why it is impossible will be published in about 15 pages next week. There’s been a slight delay while I added more details of numerous errors in their physics.
It wouldn’t have taken them too long if they had engaged someone with an understanding of physics – and why any warming by radiation from the atmosphere would be a violation of the Second Law of Thermodynamics – and why we should be so glad the terrestrial heat flow is so slow that it keeps everything at nice stable temperatures (give or take a couple of degrees) for millions of years.
[Doug, please take your claims about the Second Law elsewhere. I suggest Tallblokes Talkshop. Here, you are off-topic, and pushing your usual SIF story. This discussion is NOT ABOUT THE SECOND LAW. Speculations about the Second Law are for another thread. Thanks. -w.]

eyesonu

Good post Willis. A lot of good points.
Maybe they hear a little jingle that goes something like this with regards to CO2:
“And I just can’t get it out of my mind …” (apply musical notes).

PaddikJ

If Svensmark is correct — and the data appear to be saying he is — then there has been significant progress in climate research (especially regarding clouds!). It’s just that the vast majority of CO2-obsessed climatologists don’t want to hear it (and so the Astrophysicists and Cosmologists and Solar Physicists, etc. are leaving them in the dust).
BTW, you write “In other words, they don’t know but they’re sure the net is negative.”, and even repeat it somewhere, I think. I believe you meant that net feedbacks are positive. [True, and fixed. Thanks. -w.]

Well, thousands of years perhaps – until the next glacial period.

johnm

The real world doesn’t matter.
It is obviously incorrect.
The models are the only option.

Richard deSousa

The ghost writer for NAS report has to be James Hansen.

Willis Eschenbach

RoyUK, another way to look at it is that all of this is looking at the change in CO2 concentration since pre-industrial times. At that time ( ~ 1750 ) the CO2 level is taken to have been 275 ppmv. By 1850, it was about 285 ppmv. Currently it’s on the order of 390 ppmv.
The forcing varies as the log (base 2) of the change in CO2 concentration from the original concentration. That is
log ( 390 / 275 , 2) = 0.50
So using the IPCC assumptions, in terms of the warming, we’re about halfway to a doubling (in terms of effect).

Toto

How much are we spending on fusion research? How many teams are working on it? Compared to climate research I’d guess the answers are not much and not many. Yet finding alternative energy sources is important, especially if you believe in CAGW.
The short-term weather models have made good progress. Longer term weather models are still not very useful. And they may never be, simply because of the nature of the problem. That raises the question of what can we reasonably expect from climate models, if anything. What poor assumptions are they based on? Hockey sticks get good auditing. Who is auditing the climate models?

John Peter

“For example, AGW supporters are still saying the same thing about the clouds now as they were back in 1979—they admit they don’t understand them, that it’s the biggest problem in the models, but all the same but they’re sure the net feedback is negative. I’m not sure clear that works, but it’s been that way since 1979.”
I am like SimonJ above. I got totally confused when it was stated (several times) that the “net feedback is negative”. I thought the whole point was they continue to claim that the net feedback is positive although they don’nt understand clouds. There is general agreement within the Team that the basic effect of a doubling of CO2 is 1C but the 3C is due to the secondary positive feedback. I for one need some clarification or I am ‘lost’ in this otherwise excellent article.

Doug Proctor

Willis,
You display an astounding degree of common sense. It is imperative that I inform you that such sense holds neither candle nor book to mathematically derived scenarios. To note that more computer power appears not to solve what is said to be a computationally-determined problem is to fundamentally misunderstand that the question has never been about “x” amount of power. It is, like Al Gore’s wealth, all about “more”. More has no end point.
I once awoke in the dark north of Lake Superior to take over the driving duties as we headed east. At daylight it was realized that I had made a right-hand turn and was headed south, towards the United States. Climate science has made me understand that I was greviously abused when I was forced to turn around. Apparently to get to where you want, regardless of the direction in which you are headed, you only need to drive faster and more determinedly.

lol Willis ! you know that the NAS Report isn’t about science, it’s about the public purse !
I would argue that there is climate science on this blog that policy makers, including the US government, refer to.
as the stones sang, ‘you can’t always get what you want’ (but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need).
I think the capacity of that computer will be yours in a few short years, maybe sooner.
in the meantime, keep scoring those goals !

David Henderson

To answer the question of RoyUK: the Keeling curve in wikipedia shows the CO2 going from just below 340 ppm in 1980 to something like 385 circa 2010. Thats about a 13% change.
Do I dare make some kind of linearity assumption and say over this variation on CO2, the temperature change will be 0.4 degrees with an uncertainty of +/- 0.2 degrees? Its not clear from their model that this linearity assumption holds for smaller changes in CO2.
This “prediction” with such a small rise in CO2 cannot be tested or falsified, because the term “temperature change” was not particularly well specified. A weather station temperature reading is highly variable and subject to the phenomenon we call “weather”,
So, this prediction is based on a SWAG and does not lead itself to falsification. Does it deserve to be labeled “prediction”?

ntesdorf

A very interesting post, Willis. The ‘science’ seems to have been at a complete standstill in the field of Climate because no one is trying to understand anything, They are just looking for fragments of ‘evidence’ to bolster up the ricketty theory of Carbon Dioxide sponsored Global Warming. The lack of progress shows that there is fundamental misunderstanding at the very base of the modern climate edifice. In thirty years there has been no progress at all.

Lew 'Big Oil' Skannen

I absolutely agree about the linear assumption and one of the articles on WUWT list a few hundred interacting parameters which destroy any hope of linearity.
I believe that we have made progress however, but since it is such a huge problem the progress does not show. I doubt it is ever likely to show because the orders of magnitude are too large. If we had a computer the size of Andromeda running on tachyons we might make a dent but until then we are just sucking up the Atlantic with an eye dropper.
If someone could put a line through the graph of where we are now compared to where we were in 1970 I think there would be a slight incline but nothing to get excited about and if it could be visually represented I think people (if they had the choice!) would pull funding and find better uses for the money.

Murgatroyd

Now me, I think the fundamental misunderstanding is the idea that the surface air temperature is a linear function of forcing.
Heretic! You probably deny the existence of epicycles, too.

robert barclay

The real elephant in the room here is that you can’t heat water from above. Surface tension.

Jordan

SimonJ
Positive feedback (as the term is used in control theory) doesn’t unconditionally mean instability. (Therefore dripping jungles do not necessary follow.)
Try it with an open loop gain < 1. It's not pretty and not much use practically. But it can be stable.
The Nyquist Stability Criterion tests the position of the frequency locus to see how many times it loops around -1 on the real axis.
Hope that helps – I got snagged on this point once.

Roger Knights

Willis says:
Now me, I think the fundamental misunderstanding is the idea that the surface air temperature is a linear function of forcing.

This linear thinking goes along with a reductionist mindset that sees the earth as a black box whose inner turmoil (clouds, etc.) may be neglected because the problem “reduces” to:
Temp. rise = (rate of incoming radiation) – (rate of outgoing radiation)
(The latter being slowed down by increased insulation in the form of CO2)
This is why reductionist personality types like the capital-S skeptics at <Skeptical Inquirer, Skeptic, etc. are (on the whole) enamored with the consensus. (The “settled science” aspect of the consensus’s claim probably also attracts them, they being heresy-hunters.)

Claude Harvey

Once again, Willis, I applaud your ability to distinguish the forest from the trees. The self-educated man tends to start with the forest and then learn about trees out of necessity in order to satisfy his curiosity about puzzling forest behavior he has observed. The formally educated man may know all there is to know about trees and then extrapolate that knowledge into an artificial construct of forest behavior he confuses with reality, without ever having viewed an actual forest.

Richard deSousa sais @ March 7, 2012 at 11:30 pm

The ghost writer for NAS report has to be James Hansen.

Ah yes, the Ghost Who Talks 😉

Matt

Why so puzzled? It’s quite simple, we need bigger computers 🙂

Kozlowski

Great article Willis, thank you!
So.. we get to the wrong answers faster. Isn’t that progress?
And look what a pretty picture they have on the front of that massive server.

Ken

The answer is, of course, that the science was correct then as to the degree of warming, and is correct now. This just goes to show that it is indeed ‘settled’ within the knowledge available both then and currently. Sceptics are really just denying facts, like they always do …
No, I’m not a ‘warmist’, but just trying to anticipate the most likely response that community would be likely or very likely to make, if I can use IPCC language!

OYD

The NAS panelists are clearly stuck in an ancient groove, somebody please help get them out

John Peter

Now that the article has been corrected with regards to the feedback issue, I simply think that Willis Eschenbach should send the article with a covering note to the relevant US government department, as clearly so far they have not received a proper answer to their questions.
Perhaps the note should include a reference to some of the work being done on clouds and their effects by such eminent scientists as Dr Spencer and Professor Lintzen.

Jimbo

How important the overall cloud effects are is, however, an extremely difficult question to answer.

I may be wrong but I thought this was essence of the debate (is over)? Ah well, 95% of climate scientists agree on something or other.

In the headline post Willis says:
“the underlying paradigm that the whole field is built on must contain some basic and far-reaching theoretical error…Now we can debate what that fundamental misunderstanding might be.”

The co2 driven climate hypothesis insists that a slight change in air temperature can rapidly (over a few decades) change the bulk temperature of the ocean. The ocean is much more massive than the atmosphere and water has a far higher heat capacity than air. A brief visit to the tables engineers use to look up relative heat capacities would have saved us all a lot of time and money. Or they could have used the simple observation that near surface marine air temperatures lag sea surface temperatures by several months.
The bulk ocean temperature drives the air temperature, not the other way round. The tail does not wag the dog.
Furthermore, it is evident that changes in overall cloud albedo reflect changes in solar activity, and amplify the effect of those changes, as shown by Nir Shaviv’s JGR paper on using the oceans as a calorimeter. http://sciencebits.com/calorimeter
Whether or not the causal mechanism is along the lines proposed by Svensmark or Wilde doesn’t matter too much right now. What does matter is that the observed reality is attended to.
It seems more likely that the ocean can’t cool as quickly as the sun heats it unless its average bulk temperature rises to around 275K (2C), thus enabling its surface to evaporate and radiate at a rate which enables it to be in equilibrium with the surface insolation. therefore any putative warming effect of additional greenhouse gases becomes moot, because their primary role must be to cool the planet, not warm it.
At this stage it becomes obvious that the C20th warming was a result of less cloud and a more active sun, as evidenced by the much closer correlation between sunshine hours and surface temperature, than that between co2 levels and temperature.
http://tallbloke.wordpress.com/2012/02/13/doug-proctor-climate-change-is-caused-by-clouds-and-sunshine/
No speculations about the second law are needed to follow the simple logic of this argument. The main reason it will be ignored is because humans can be taxed for emitting co2, whereas the sun can’t be taxed for shining a little more brightly.

wayne Job

Thank you Willis, it seems that the more things change the more they stay the same. If they keep up this progress and the political class keep listening the PC crowd will have us back in the 1850 ties within ten years. It is hard to imagine that so many useful idiots could live on the planet all at the same time.

Steve Richards

Surely the OVERALL nature of feedback within the climate system must be negative?
If it were OVERALL positive, then we would have experienced a one way trip to permanent hot climate or permanent hot climate, the positive feedback reinforcing this effect.
It is only due to an OVERALL negative feedback effect that can cause ‘corrections’ to climate trends.
This obviously excludes external forces – solar etc.

Jimbo

It was published in 1979.

Note to self: should read entire article before commenting. 😉 But as you point out…

The Charney Report could have been written yesterday…..For example, AGW supporters are still saying the same thing about the clouds now as they were back in 1979—they admit they don’t understand them

😉

Somebody

No matter how powerful computer they’ll get, they cannot simulate the Earth in the forseeable future. The complexity of the problem increases exponentially. There are non-linear components in the system, so the system behaves chaotically. Bad things, Lyapunov exponents, exponential increase of the error (and we know how big the errors are in the start – garbage input data indeed). Yes, they say that somehow the pseudo-scientific average can be predicted, nevertheless, but it’s only religious preaching. Yes, in simple cases it happenes – see the ergodic systems from statistical physics – but that’s not at all the case for the Earth. They have no proof for their religious claim. Actually, it’s easy to say that the claim is false, verifying experimentally. So, there is no proof that actually the pseudo-scientific value, ‘global temperature’, is predictible. It’s just a pseudo-scientific average (a scaled sum of intensive quantities, with varying scale and number of values over time, which makes things worse) of chaotic behaving values. No reason to be able to predict that more than the prediction of the quantities it’s calculated from.

oMan

Willis: that is excellent. I did not watch the other hand and so I was surprised by the NAS punchline. I like the computer statistics; if you were programming in 1963, you were there almost at the Creation and your comparo of Cray-1 power to that of desktop is a great set-up for the closer. We have been running toward the “answer” for over 30 years with Moore’s Law supposedly helping us; and yet like the horizon the “answer” recedes endlessly. Maybe we just don’t know how to ask the question. As Daniel Kahneman shows (in his new classic on cognitive self-trickery, “Thinking, Fast and Slow”) when the question we’re asked is hard to answer, we substitute another, easier one. Here it seems we just beg the question. Since that is a circular process, I guess the reason we have seen no improvement in our understanding is, we have been running in a circle. No wonder the horizon is as far away as ever.

Myrrh

“Modeling of clouds is one of the weakest links … can’t disagree with that.”
Because, they’ve excluded the Water Cycle from their AGWSF energy budget – think deserts, without the Water Cycle the Earth would be around 67°C – and – carbon dioxide is fully part of that cycle, all pure clean rain is carbonic acid.
They have to exclude the Water Cycle, because it shows, falsifies if you will, that they have no basis for any of their modelling behaviour and consequently, no argument available to back up their conjecture that such a thing as ‘greenhouse gas warming’ even exists in the form they have it. The main ‘greenhouse gas’, water vapour, cools the Earth.
Without the Water Cycle, they cannot possibly understand clouds.

Moderator(s):
If I am allowed to respond to the above note by the Moderators, I would like to assure them that my peer-reviewed paper is indeed based on physics (without any unfounded speculation) and such paper is the culmination of, not only 50 odd years of studying physics, but also at least a thousand or two hours of study of the climate issues, and whether or not the conjectures of the warmists could be substantiated by physics.
In about 15 pages I have debunked each and every claim with cogent arguments totally based on physics.
I would have been willing to respond to each and every post if appropriate, should you have taken up my suggestion to perhaps run an article when my paper is published, now delayed till about Tuesday. The offer is still open as I respect this site, let me assure you.
I just don’t like to see you sitting on the fence and half agreeing with the complete hoax of the AGW proponents.
I quite anticipate that,, like the work of Prof Claes Johnson (who solved a problem that baffled Einstein,) it will take some time for the world to realise that he and I are right on this. I certainly don’t want to be off topic, so maybe you might consider another “open” thread,, or a basic thread on the greenhouse speculation.
After all, I initially thought this was a “sceptical” site, so I am a bit surprised that you appear to agree that radiation from the cooler atmosphere penetrating the warmer ocean a little, can have its energy being converted to more thermal energy below the surface of the water, even while the Sun is also warming everything. Yes I’m just a bit surprised that a reputable site like this would agree with the warmist speculation, or hoax I should say, that such a “transaction” was not a violation of the Second Law, purely on the absurd claim that the Second Law is not violated because more energy would flow out by evaporation or radiation later that day.
I leave you with a copy of an email just received from the principal reviewer of my paper being published next week …
__________________
Hi Doug,
Well done!
Will spend time on your paper today and aim to have it ready for publication soon.
Terrific to see so much effort having gone into this.
Glad to have been able to assist you.
.[name withheld]
_____________

DN

It seems to me that the basic, underlying flaw in climate science is the same one that Ed Lorenz identified in 1963, and that the IPCC itself copped to in AR3: that it is impossible to predict the long-term behaviour of a coupled, non-linear system, full stop. It doesn’t matter how much computing power you have – if the system you’re trying to predict is chaotic, every time you increase your accuracy by an order of magnitude, you get only a few more predictive iterations out of the equations. It simply can’t be done.
So here’s a prediction of my own: 30 years from now, our desktops will be 1000 times as powerful, and the Cray-Googleplex will be a gazillion times as powerful, and we’ll still be no closer to being able to predict the behaviour of terrestrial climate. If I’m right, we’ll all still be around to see it, although those of us living in the Great White North will be huddled around our tar-sands-fuelled fires to keep warm through the solar minimum. If I’m wrong and Hansen’s right, nobody will care because we’ll all be living in Waterworld, trying to outrun the Smokers and arm-wrestling Kevin Costner for the lovely Jeanne Tripplehorn and a jar full of dirt.

Alan the Brit

Great post. Some excellent points raised & made.
They do like their big words, don’t they…………”When empirical adjustments of parameters are made to achieve verisimilitude, the model may appear to be validated against the present climate.” Pocket OED:1925, Verisimilitude:Air of being true, semblence of actuality. So, no real evidence then, it just looks like it worked when they’ve tweeked it here & there to get the answer they wanted. Is that what they’re really saying? In an example in parenthesis, it states “verisimilitude is not proof”! When their models can give me six numbers on the lottery for Saturday night that are right, then I might just maybe possibly potentially likely could, believe them! Well, as long as they don’t do something to vitiate it! 😉

TinyCO2

If you study enough people, in enough detail, for long enough, you can still only create probabilities of how a population will fare. Individually any predictions you make will mostly turn out to be wrong.
Climate science has studied one planet, for a mere heart beat, with crude and often inaccurate tools and hopes to exceed medical achievements in diagnosis.

One item i have never seen addressed is the grid system itself. What i have never heard talked about is an analysis of the grid blocks and what it contains. My assumption is that they treat the grids as a gray box that is keeping some of the effects of the model and reflecting some of the effects. Lets consider some different grid boxes. Arctic,desert, plain, forest, ocean, mountain, urban, rural, jungle etc etc etc.
I would expect each of these grid boxes to have a different response to the climate model and return a different feedback. In fact i would think that each grid box needs split into much smaller grids and a composite grid generated. The only thing that i have seen like this is ocean/land masks which can take care of the majority of grids (i.e. ocean).

Rick Bradford

*A complete assessment of all the issues will be a long and difficult task.*
In English, we say: “Please keep my grant money coming, and add a bit more on top, please.”

Willis
The Stefan-Botzmann formular tells us that temperature is NOT determined by radiation which is defined by frequency, but by mass which is defined by thermodynamics.
Radiative transfer in and of itself can only ever be a potential source of heat.
It is the thermodynamics of an environment containing mass which determines that radiative potential.
The first words I ever posted on this thread more than two and a half years ago were, “there is no such thing as the greenhouse effect”.
Which is essentially what you have alluded to above in your conclusion.
However Willis, you still appear to lack sufficient mass in the cowboy nugget department, to be so bold.
Snip away Mr scissor hands!

Willis that was a nice surprise. 1979! yes no progress since then.
But WHY???
Well actually there has been progress. But since 1979 it has all been outside climate orthodoxy’s blinkers. Out of field, out of mention, and if you do mention it you get passed-over or blasted to h***. Pretty soon, you learn to shut up, stay away, and work elsewhere, and simply not risk the firestorm. Soon and Baliunas. Svensmark. Miskolczi. Many astrophysicists. Geologists. Physicists.
Problem is, we now have the danger of creating climate skeptics orthodoxy blinkers, same in kind, different in subject, with similar exodus of good thinkers and crackpot thinkers (you always get both around the paradigm-shifting material) from – your own pages dear Willis.
Two redeeming features you have. One, I know you intend to stay open – and two, I know you see all too clearly the result of blinkers. And I like to believe that you already have a third redeeming feature, that scientists are going to need to cultivate in future – the ability to say sorry, I was mistaken – and to recognize how we all have human weaknesses and limitations that are often the flip side of the very talents and passions that keep us going and doing good work.
Dear Willis, I look forward to the day you can look again at certain recent stuff – because I still value your attitude. I’m working hard behind the scenes to make it more comprehensible, as well as to answer FAQ from leading climate skeptics. There were unfortunate problems initially that IMHO can all be answered and put aside now, but effectively hid important work at the time.
I’m saying this here Willis because I believe I speak not just for myself. And because my intention is to reconcile and heal, and stand up for good science, not stir up more fire.

DirkH

They found themselves in a very comfortable position after the 1979 report and had no intention to leave that position. For them, the scientific question was answered: What triggers generous funding. A trillion Dollar industry was born. And it still works. Understanding clouds or aerosols threatens that comfortable position. Yes, I do assume malfeasance. They know very well what kind of game they are playing; that’s why they get so mad when challenged. (Like Gleick-mad, Hansen-mad, or Mann-mad.)