Climate change... Much ado about nothing? Aug 27, 2019 10:21:12 GMT
Post by propman on Aug 27, 2019 10:21:12 GMT
We seem to have a increasinging tendency to attack scientific method. Science can never discover the truth. It's based to a large degree on the Popper falsification hypothesis. We postulate a theory, we compare it with the empirical data, we adjust the theory, we compare again. It's an iterative process. We never attain the absolute truth since that is a meaningless concept but we do have an idea what is conditionally true (based on current data, with some form of error bounds) and what is definitely false.
Now regard to climate change. We know that the planet can only dissipate heat through IR radation. We also know that every economic process requires energy usage and that all energy usage will generate waste energy. This follows from the Second Law of Thermodynamics. In any process we start of with low entropy, concentrated energy, that is used to do some work and we are left with high-entropy, waste energy (typicaly waste heat). The high entropy waste heat cannot be radiated into space due to it wavelength. Therefore the entropy of the planet can only rise and that statement is independent of technology. It's a fundamental physical law. So it's virtually impossible to argue against the idea that human energy usage will not cause the temperature of the planet to rise. You'd have to violate the 2nd law for that not to occur...
For the record I believe that on the balance of probabilities there is sufficient evidence to conclude that we need to take significant action now on a concerted basis.
However if you were correct that no hear could escape the atmosphere we would have perished long ago. Not only was the planet hotter earlier in its life, but the amount of solar heating is significant so without any additions from man we would have heated up however hot is required to allow loss of heat before there was life on earth. Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses are only important as they reduce the loss of heat to space.
Popper also made it clear that the scientific community generally lurches from one state of orthodoxy to another as the tendency is not to believe a change is required past the point when an objective assessment requires a change.
The only reason to postulate disaster if we don't take action soon is that there are feedback loops that will kick in to enhance the warming and which will not be reversible. These include the greater solar warming of bare earth rather than ice and hence loss of ice area will increase warming, and warmer water will release carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. Both have been demonstrated but neither has been quantified as the amounts to date are too small to conclusively quantify based on changes to date. That is why there is still doubt over the timescale for making the adjustments.
In addition, even measuring the changes is far from subjective. Population centres generate heat. Weather stations have generally been set up close to the edges of population centres and these have generally expanded around them. Global warming is based on extrapolating the heat from the centres across the globe. This includes huge areas with very few data points. Warming has not been uniform and the total to date is less than the natural year to year fluctuations. So it is only with the evidence of many data points and an estimate of what the warming would have been if we strip out the effects of urbanisation around them that we have a picture of average global temperatures. These processes are subjective and scientists differ on the correct interpretation. Finally, the warming impacts would explain a much larger movement than any have assessed has happenned. hence models need to add in cooling effects to account for the actual observations. These include increased cloud formation.
I am many years out of date having not researched for 30 years and not kept up to date with the huge amount of research that has happened during this period, so I am far from authorative on the current weight of evidence. But don't be fooled to think that there isn't a huge amount of pro-anthropomorphic Climate Change due to scientists and others with a vested interest in the outcome. It is a fact that you cannot readily get published in serious (peer reviewed) journals if you go against the orthodoxy and funding is very limited (contrary to popular opinion, the energy industry is very sparing on funding compared with the climate activists). So even if anyone could read all the papers on the subject, this would not be representative of the entirety of views in the scientific community and there is not a balance of support for all potentially relevant lines of research including those supporting a longer less dramatic timescale for the changes.
So I do believe that the future effect of our use of fossil fuals and release of large quantities of the more potent greenhouse gases is well understood. That said, it seems likely we are making a difference and there is a very strong case for developing alternative technologies and employing them wherever we can. I am a huge advocate in investing of taking much greater notice of the less likely but more significant consequences that arise in the tails of the potential distribution of investment outcomes. So I agree that taking action to itigate potential disasters at a current cost is justified. But in investment the mainstream takes too little notice of the tail impacts so I am not surprised that people are generally split between the climate warriors and those unconvinced. We are not equipped to make objective assessments individually and I believe institutionally.