Friday, April 21, 2017

"Red Team" Exercise For Earth Day - But NOT Steve Koonin's Way!

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Image showing rift in Pine Island Glacier Ice Shelf in West Antarctica, the second to form in past three years. A sound "red team" exercise would seek to account for such changes on the basis of I) anthropogenic warming, or ii) "natural cycles"

With Earth Day now upon us, it has been suggested  by theoretical physicist Steve Koonin (WSJ today, 'A Red Team Exercise Would Strengthen Climate Science') that  we conduct a "red team" exercise to finally banish most of the doubts concerning anthropogenic climate change.  As he puts it:

"Summaries of scientific assessments meant to inform decision makers - such as the United Nations Summary for Policy Makers - largely fail to capture the vibrant and developing science. Consensus statements necessarily conceal judgment calls and debates, so feed the 'settled', 'hoax' and 'don't know' memes that plague the political dialogue around climate change. We scientists must better portray not only our certainties but our uncertainties and even things we may never know."

He then goes on to describe the template for his version of the red team exercise:

"The focus would be a published scientific report meant to inform policy such as the UN's summary, or the U.S. Government's National Climate Assessment. A Red Team of scientists would write a critique of that document and a Blue Team would rebut that critique. Further exchanges of documents would ensure to the point of diminishing returns."

While this sounds like a rational and scientific approach, the problem is all such reports have been -pre-massaged to a) make them more understandable to policy makers, and b) often leave out the most direct evidence.  (Such as the increasing second rift forming now on the Pine Island Glacier Ice Shelf in West Antarctica.)

First, let's reference that Koonin himself is not an honest broker for the "true representation" of climate science. As per a Wikipedia entry on him we read:

"In Climate Science Is Not Settled a 2014 essay published in the Wall Street Journal, Koonin wrote that "We are very far from the knowledge needed to make good climate policy," and that "The impact today of human activity [on climate] appears to be comparable to the intrinsic, natural variability of the climate system itself." Koonin criticized the use of results from climate modelling to support the "scientific consensus" (quotes in original) about climate change, noting that, among other problems, "The models differ in their descriptions of the past century's global average surface temperature by more than three times the entire warming recorded during that time." Regarding climate sensitivity, Koonin wrote that "Today's best estimate of the sensitivity (between 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit and 8.1 degrees Fahrenheit) is no different, and no more certain, than it was 30 years ago. And this is despite an heroic research effort costing billions of dollars."

Ten days after Koonin wrote this, Jeffrey Kluger in Time called Koonin's piece disingenuous if not dishonest. Koonin simply used the old debating trick of setting up a strawman to knock down by misconstruing what climate scientists mean when they say the climate debate is "settled." "...they mean that the fake debate over whether climate change is a vast hoax is finished," writes Kluger. He goes on to state that every point Koonin made is and has for years been widely acknowledged by climate scientists, very few of whom utilize the kind of overzealous language their critics commonly use."

IN other words, Koonin's "red team" proposal as given is merely another strawman tactic.  I propose instead a red team exercise that puts the skeptics on the defensive. Let them defend  THEIR models and "theories". For example, we demand from the skeptic side an alternative model or full explanation for each of the following:

i)                    The correlation of higher CO2 concentrations in ice cores with warmer temperatures through geological time. (Hint: Volcanoes do not explain it given the ACM or anthropogenic carbon multiplier shows human CO2 concentrations are much more significant)

 ii)The increasing C14: C12 ratio from the time of the Industrial Revolution as indicated in the diagram below:

According to solar physicist John Eddy (‘The New Solar Physics’, p. 17):

“The sharp upward spike at the modern end of the curve, representing a marked drop in relative radiocarbon, is generally attributed to anthropogenic causes—the mark of increased population and the Industrial Age”
iii)                    The increasing acidity (lower pH)  of the oceans, as a result of CO2 absorbed and then the formation of carbonic acid, e.g.  H2O + CO2 ->  H2 CO3

vi)                   The presence of  jokulhlaups in Greenland’s ice sheet. The paper Jokulhlaup Observed in Greenland ice sheet’, appearing in Eos: Transactions of the American Geophysical Union (Vol. 89, No. 35, 26 Aug. 2008, p. 221). specifically noted an increased frequency in occurrence of “jokulhlaups”or sudden glacial bursts of melting runoff from glaciers. It is this phenomena that has also played a role in the “unusual cracks" that set off the separation of a “chunk of ice the size of Manhattan” (19 sq. miles)from Ellesmere Island in Canada’s northern Arctic
v) An alternative explanation for the rifts forming on the Pine Island Glacier Ice Shelf in West Antarctica.
vi) An alternative explanation or model for the increasing release of methane from melting permafrost - plus an explanation for the more rapid melting of the permafrost.
Let's have a red team exercise all right, but one based on examining the actual direct
evidence as it manifests on our planet - as opposed to some bland, second or third hand policy report - which can be manipulated via subjectivity.

Lastly, the serious science oriented person must admit that the best red team exercise in the world will not convince true believers in "natural cycles" or other balderdash to come around to accept anthropogenic warming science.

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