Friday, July 6, 2007

The IPCC and it's Fuzzy Math

"It is likely (IPCC defines the word "likely" as 66% probability) that there has been significant anthropogenic warming over the past 50 years averaged over each continent"

"It is very likely (IPCC defines the "very likely" as 90% probability) that hot extremes, heat waves, and heavy rains will continue to become more frequent.

You can find it here

Now you have to remember that in developing their climate modals they use the weather data from the last 150 years to test the modals, if the model is a close match to the climate over the last 150 years, then they use the modal to predict the future. So what they are saying is that their models match the past with a 66% probability, but for some reason even though their confidence in the models is only 66% they are 90% confidante of the answer (future climate).

So in summary, what would you say if I showed you a mathematical formula and said to you that I'm 66% percent confident that the formula is accurate, and then proceeded to tell you that although I'm only 66% confident of the formulas accuracy, I'm 90% confident of the result are right. Would that make any sense?


Sezbet said...

No, I'd say you were a mathematician, not a scientist - I have a Biology teacher teaching me half of my Environmental Studies course, and I can't even pin HER down to an absolute. Scientists don't like absolutes.

Philip Leitch said...

I'm a scientist and there is a very good reason we don't like to pin things down: If we are wrong people with vested interests will rip our argument to pieces. If 1% of what you say isn't 100% substatiated then it is concluded that all of your statements are unreliable.

So then you make sure that 100% of your statements are substantiated, and then you are accused of wiggling around the question.

Dammed if you do and dammed if you don't.

What's more, nothing in science is certain, that's what makes science a philosophy and not a religion. Science is based on theories that can be tested and disproved. No science is based on "this is the truth and that's that". Even "Laws" of nature are theories that can be disproved.

So expecing a scientist to give you an absolute is like expecting the Pope to admit that it's plausable another religion is right and there is no God.

This is also why you will never get 100% consensus on any scientific topic.

So all you can do is look at the evidence at hand and make your own conclusions. THAT'S science.

My thoughts are that IF the Arctic is melting faster than expected then logically the oceans of the world are loosing more heat to Arctic ice melting than was expected. Ergo - the temperatures of the oceans should be lower than expected. Why would an unexpected change in ocean temperatures be a good thing? It's global climate change - not necesarily warming at every location/environment on the globe.

But all this climate change concern is not worrying me as much as:
- Peak Oil
- Peak Minerals (we are running out most minerals).
- Overpopulation
- Degredation of land and water
- Global panic.

On that last one - we seem to be panicing about everything (incuding the things I listed). Why panic when we can just start planning for these things.

StevenW said...

A scientist with balance is refreshing. Thanks Philip. Someone said, 'the best way to predict the future is to create it' and I agree with that comment.

What I do not agree with is oppressive taxes and the erosion of national sovereignty that is launched on the back of uncertain science. Chicken Little is out there squawking as loud as he can that the sky is falling and that is hysterical nonsense.

All I see at Copenhagen is a lot of histrionics and emotional claptrap designed to take money from some and give it to others. Taxes and international bureaucracies will do nothing to deliver any meaningful change to anything even if we accept the nonsense that CO2 (one of the most essential elements of life) is a pollutant.

Emily said...

The definition of science is:

A branch of study which is concerned either with a connected body of demonstrated truths or with observed facts systematically classified and more or less colligated by being brought under general laws, and which includes trustworthy methods for the discovery of new truth within its own domain.

The key phrases here are "trustworthy methods", "general laws", and "observed facts".

There's no general law on climate change. The methods used to collect data have not been demonstrated as trustworthy, as they are not reproducible amongst other instrumentation nor are they even repeatable. As far as observed facts, they do not necessarily demonstrate climate change is exclusively linked to carbon dioxide, accounting for all other atmospheric activity (ie clouds).

Hiding behind the veil of certainty and absolution is a typical strategy for a climate change believer to battle a climate change skeptic. It is true that absolutes are not always achievable, however it is not true when data has been refuted that means that certainty is not achievable. The fact that they are admitting to not having some degree of certainty means that climate change and manmade carbon dioxides relationship cannot be assured. There is a level of uncertainty that can be achieved, but not when the dataset is readily refuted. There's a grey area b/w uncertainty and incorrect mathematics.