Tuesday, 26 February 2008

"Global warming is a total crock of shit."

lutz-volt Not my words, but those of an American auto executive who momentarily grew a pair.  Bob Lutz, Vice Chairman of General Motors America, told reporter Glenn Hunter in a "closed door lunch" that hybrid cars like Toyota's Prius “make no economic sense” because their price will never come down," and added, according to Hunter:

Global warming is a “total crock of shit...  I’m a skeptic, not a denier. Having said that, my opinion doesn’t matter. [With GM's new battery-driven Volt hybrid, pictured with Volt, right], “I’m motivated more by the desire to replace imported oil than by the CO2 (argument).”

It took a while, but the brief report of his heresy in an industry magazine soon attracted apoplexy and abuse in equal measure, and as usual industry leaders ran for cover like timid chooks in a storm. And then in the normal course of things, Lutz backed down too.  Well, sort of.  On his GM blog, Lutz told readers to judge GM by its actions -- including the Volt hybrid that will help "lessen, and eventually even eliminate, the environmental impact of the automobile"-- rather than his words.

General Motors [he says] is dedicated to the removal of cars and trucks from the environmental equation, period. And, believe it or don’t: So am I! It’s the right thing to do, for us, for you and, yes, for the planet.

But he was right, wasn't he. It is a total crock of shit. Lutz made that comment at the end of a January that "experienced the sharpest January-to-January global temperature drop - three quarters of a degree Celsius - since records began in 1880."   No wonder it snowed in Jerusalem (twice) and there were blizzards in places like Greece and Crete and Turkey, and heavy snows in China that caused about ten billion pounds worth of damage. 

No wonder even the European Union are quietly climbing off the global warming train and becoming a foot-dragging follower instead of the loud leader it has been, announcing this week it is now "ready to exempt" Europe's steel, chemical and power industries from the European carbon-trading regime.

No wonder, since as climate scientist Richard Lindzen explains in a recent Op-Ed, "there is no case for climate alarmism" -- and it this rapidly collapsing case that is paradoxically causing "the astounding upsurge in alarmism of the past two years."

The notion of a static, unchanging climate is foreign to the history of the earth or any other planet with a fluid envelope. The fact that the developed world went into hysterics over changes in global mean temperature of a few tenths of a degree will astound future generations.

Such hysteria simply represents the scientific illiteracy of much of the public, the susceptibility of the public to the Goebbelian substitution of repetition for truth, and the exploitation of these weaknesses by politicians, environmental promoters, and, after twenty years of media drum beating, many others as well.

Given that the evidence ... strongly suggests that anthropogenic warming has been greatly exaggerated, the basis for alarm due to such warming is similarly diminished...  [O]ne may reasonably ask why there is the current alarm, and, in particular, why the astounding upsurge in alarmism of the past two years. When an issue like global warming is around for over twenty years, numerous agendas are developed to exploit the issue....

[Given all the vested issues at stake], one can readily suspect that there might be a sense of urgency provoked by the possibility that warming may have ceased. For those committed to the more venal agendas, the need to act soon, before the public appreciates the situation, is real indeed.

teirneygraphicnew533 UPDATE 1: How do the IPCC's predictions for temperatures in the years 2000 to 2007 look against the reality?  Well, as Roger Pielke Jr. says, any way you want them to look really.

Pielke's describes his graph at right showing the IPCC's predictions (in brown) against a range of temperature records as "a feast for cherrypickers."

In the Prometheus blog, where you can read the details of his computations, he writes: “One can arrive at whatever conclusion one wants with respect to the IPCC predictions. Want the temperature record to be consistent with IPCC? OK, then you like NASA. How about inconsistent? Well, then you are a fan of RSS. On the fence? Well, UAH and UKMET serve that purpose pretty well.”

Pielke's graph fits nicely with a graph that appeared in the IPCC's fourth and latest report measuring the record of predictions that appeared in the three previous reports against their own chosen temperature record for the periods of those predictions.  Even with the luxury of choosing their own record and drawing their own trend line, their predictions look about as useful as Britney Spears's childcare advice.

"The science is settled"?  Who are you kidding.  Given the disparity between predictions and records -- and even between records -- then as Piekle suggests, it's barely even possible to see what actual measurable predictions climate scientists are even making.

Absent an ability to rigorously evaluate forecasts, in the presence of multiple valid approaches to observational data we run the risk of engaging in all sorts of cognitive traps -- such as availability bias and confirmation bias. So here is a plea to the climate community: when you say that you are predicting something like global temperature or sea ice extent or hurricanes -- tell us is specific detail what those variables are, who is measuring them, and where to look in the future to verify the predictions. If weather forecasters, stock brokers, and gamblers can do it, then you can too.

UPDATE 2Tim Blair checks out some more unsettling "science is settled" revelations from a few years back:

Remember the “secret Pentagon report” on global warming from a few years back? The secret report that wasn’t secret? Here’s one of the report’s predictions, as understood by Britain’s Observer newspaper:

        As early as next year widespread flooding by a rise in sea levels will create major upheaval for millions.

That was written four years ago - before the Great Upheaval of ’05. Caused by the rising.

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