Saturday, October 15, 2011

On AGW, CO2 Concentration, Venus, and the playful use of Statistical Interpretation

Ah, yes. The ole AGW 'debate' (if one could honestly call it that). I apologize in advance for sullying your computer screen with another such screed, but the AGW hype-train just keeps on keepin' on, and there are some particularly glaring nosebleed-inducing dents in said hype-train for me to stay quiet on much longer.

First, let's look at the real meat of the numbers, here.

AGW, or Anthropogenic Global Warming, and CO2 alarmists constantly refer to the current CO2 level in the atmosphere as being at a 'potentially catastrophic' 400 ppm (parts per million). However, a lot of people touting this number either ignorantly or dishonestly don't seem too interested in communicating what this really means. They just regurgitate how it's increased from about 270 ppm since 1850 to 400 ppm, today. That's true, but the issue is this -- 400 ppm of the atmosphere is only 0.04% of the atmosphere. 400 ppm minus the 270 ppm means an increase of 130 ppm since 1850. That's an increase of only 0.013% in the atmosphere in 164 years of increasing industrialization. 0.013% is not a significant ratio of increase relative to the whole of the atmosphere. No one can deny this, as it's based on their very own oft-touted numbers. No one. This is just simple math.

Of course, I can see it, already. Dishonest alarmists will then want to talk about how an increase of 270 ppm to 400 ppm is "an increase of over 48%!". And while, yes, mathematically that's true -- this interpretation of the numbers is not at all helpful. The statement 'an increase of over 48%' conveys far less information than the method provided earlier, and conclusions based on less information versus more are far less valuable, particularly when you're trying to draw conclusions from them. With the previous method, you're given far more context -- you're provided information about the piece as it relates to the whole. With the 'Dishonest Alarmist Method' (TM!), it's just numbers in a vacuum -- essentially meaningless. Of course, unless you're engaging in unadulterated propaganda as opposed to actual science -- then such an interpretation of the numbers is exactly what you'd want. Take note that these are the kinds of games that are very often played with statistics for a whole range of issues. With statistical interpretation, it's easy to tell lies by using the facts -- and those seeking to validate their preconceived notions will jump all over it and propagate it until they're blue in the face.

As for the fact of the increase -- it is more than likely that the earth's ecosystem will adapt and life will continue to survive, if not flourish, as it always has and does amidst these kinds of CO2 levels. This extra CO2 means an extra abundance of plant (including algae) food, leading to more plant-life, which leads to an eventual balance where the plants 'eat' the excess CO2, and the natural 'breathing' of the earth stabilizes. Much higher CO2 concentration levels of 2200 ppm preceded the rise of the Devonian Period about 400 million years ago, and vast forests covered large portions of the earth. Trees began competing with eachother over the 800% higher CO2 concentrations, to the point of eventually dying on top of eachother until they were 100 meters or more in depth. Want to know where all of our coal deposits we've been finding have come from? You guessed it -- those vast forests of dead trees consumed all of that 'catastrophic' CO2 that we're burning today. And even with a CO2 concentration of 2200 ppm, temperatures were only 6 degrees celsius higher than they are today.

AGW ideologues often try to counter with ocean acidification and how it will destroy coral reefs, marine life, and the entire structure of the food chain. As it turns out, that wasn't the case during the Devonian Period at all. With much higher levels of CO2 concentration (as noted above), animal and plant life on land and in the oceans not only flourished, we also saw some of the greatest strides in evolution during this time. Plant life consumed significant amounts of CO2 during this time, as one should expect, and led to great increases in O2 concentration in the atmosphere, further pushing evolution along to where we see it today.

Yes, temperatures have risen. Yes, CO2 has risen. However, linking temperature increase to CO2 increase solely because of the amount humanity is adding in to it is a pure post hoc, ergo propter hoc, or correlation/causation fallacy, as there are many, many more factors at play here with respect to temperatures. Additionally, only acknowledging temperature changes for the last 150 years, even in relation to the past few hundred thousand years, is a pretty poor sample size, especially since that's the only time human history has been involved in the industrial era. Evidence shows that temperature fluctuation for Earth is very cyclical, going into very warm periods and very cool periods. Further --  and this is very important to note -- CO2 increases come after the temperature increases (on average about 800 years after), not before -- further putting into question the claim that 'CO2 increases are what cause higher temperatures'. They may contribute, but it doesn't seem that they're the cause. This doesn't necessarily prove that CO2 doesn't cause temperatures to rise, otherwise we'd be engaging in the same correlation fallacy AGW proponents do, but it does show that this data is not valid evidence to their argument.

In the end, it is all very silly to say that an increased CO2 level of 0.013% is 'catastrophic' -- especially considering our ecosystemic adaptability and the history of CO2 levels and the life that flourished under it.

And oh, yes -- Venus. Fear mongering alarmists, especially in the pop-science celebrities sphere, love to talk about and use Venus comparisons a lot. Man, they love to use them. But Venus has no vegetation. It doesn't have vast oceans of H20 and other complex ecosystems with fauna and flora and dirt that cyclically absorb and breathe out CO2, as we noted earlier. On Venus, it just gets trapped under an atmospheric blanket, under the brutal power of the sun and doesn't go anywhere. We're not Venus, and there's no good reason to believe we will become Venus any time soon.

So around and around we go, with all these AGW alarmists and useful idiots claiming 'they are doing science' and run around saying, 'SCIENCE! SCIENCE!'. But they clearly have not a clue what science is. In this situation, 'doing science!' is testing to see if you can disprove a hypothesis (which isn't being done by the vast majority of these organizations), and in using the scientific method, which is utilizing control groups vs experimental groups in controlled environments. This point is important, here -- controlled environments. I'd hardly call the earth's climate a 'controlled environment', and I'd hardly call using a sample size of 150 years in the tens of thousands of years of relatively recent ('modern', in the grand scheme of things) human existence a proper sample size to compare this against. 

Which brings us to another point of interest -- climate 'models'. These are procedurally generated speculations, produced by computer programs, designed by flawed individuals, who only have a relatively very, very small number of the factors involved (compared to the potentially incomprehensible number of factors), in order to produce assumed outcomes. Of course, the models are constantly wrong, and are constantly being 'updated' and changed with new information. Oftentimes, when we objectively see a very different result than what these 'models' predicted, they adjust factors to produce the new, updated outcome. This is not how science is done. This is how religion is rationalized, after the fact, based on preconceived notions.

Of course, the fearmongering and alarmism continues, regardless. Global climate change is happening, yes -- but it's been cyclically happening for millions of years, and humans have virtually nothing to absolutely nothing to do with it. That's why it was global cooling and now it's global warming, and now the temperature increases have not continued on their trend for years, but instead have slowed (despite us pumping out more CO2 than ever, no less).

AGW, however, is a fabrication with no real scientific evidence to support the claim other than the ongoing search for evidence in order to try to prove a hypothesis (the IPCC 's MO, it seems). Unfortunately, this is the complete opposite of how science is actually done, which is testing a hypothesis by trying to disprove it.

Not to mention the pet projects and special interests involved. The IPCC is a political authority that, while it doesn't engage in direct funding 'itself', it has many subsidiaries that do, and if you don't provide evidence that supports its existence and the existence of its special interests, your funding gets cut. The existence of the IPCC in the first place absolutely relies on AGW -- without it, they would disappear.

Ultimately, AGW is there purely as an excuse to push an agenda -- to regulate as much as possible and to tax and redistribute as much as possible. I forget who said it, but these AGW 'environmentalists' are all 'green on the outside, red on the inside', and that's what it comes down to in the end and what this is all really about. All too often we hear the claim that "we've got to do something!" -- as if anything is better than nothing, no matter how economically destructive, short-sighted, and/or nonsensical it is. This is how the tactic of Accelerationism works.

(This post was originally published under my old pseudonym, 'Sentient Void', at the Ron Paul Forums, on 10-15-2015)