Prove it

The new year has started with a flurry from the scientific establishment (as well as some of its less well-established hangers-on) in an apparent effort to repair some of the damage done to the global warming theory by the failure of the politicians to behave as they were required to do and by the failure of the weather to … well, behave as it was required to do.

When snow is increasingly being referred to by sceptics (and others) as “global warming dust”, you have a problem which needs to be addressed!

Setting aside (for the moment) the rather childish attempts by the BBC to paint first James Delingpole and then Viscount Monckton as right-wing nutters in successive weeks, we need to pay attention to a breathtaking proposal from Kevin Trenberth that we should turn a key scientific principle on its head simply because he says so.

It is fairly well established that science is done on the basis of

  • putting forward a hypothesis (in this case that the current global warming is mainly due to man’s activities),
  • providing research data to back up the claim (evidence that the earth is warming and that man’s activities are in great part responsible),
  • making that data available for other researchers to validate or invalidate the hypothesis (is the earth actually warming? what is man’s part in that?).

The “null” hypotheses (there are potentially two of them) are that the earth is not warming or if it is, mankind is not significantly the cause.

So far the sceptics’ arguments are:

  • there is no evidence that the warming experienced in the last 30 years of the 20th century was in any way extraordinary especially as the earth is still emerging from the Little Ice Age of the 18th/19th centuries;
  • there is some evidence that that warming has ended and that we can expect a 30-year decline in temperatures as we experienced between 1940 and 1970;
  • there is not a shred of empirical evidence (and considerable difference of opinion) that CO2 is or has the ability to be the driver of climate change that the climate science community claims.

It would seem from this self-evident that — whatever the rights or wrongs of the climatologists’ arguments — the science is far from “settled” (what science ever is?) and that it is not yet time to accept Professor Trenberth’s new hypothesis, namely that we should take his word for it that AGW is beyond dispute and it is now up to the sceptics (or “deniers” as he offensively calls them) to prove the negative.

A better course of action will be for sceptics to redouble their efforts and demand that the climate technicians (I’m afraid most of them have not yet, in my book, earned the right to be called ‘scientists’) start producing some empirical evidence for their claim that “this time round” it is all mankind’s fault.


PS In the interests of accuracy I should point out that it is the IPCC that claims that it is “better than 90%” probable that man is responsible for the “current” global warming (or at least the global warming that they claimed was still happening when their last assessment was put together). Professor Trenberth is thus making an “appeal to authority” when he makes his claim and while this is — in itself — not a very scientific thing to do it is less so when he was to a very great extent responsible for writing large parts of the IPCC report.

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