Global Warming and Going Green are Religions-not Science!

In the last few years everyone in the world is worried about global warming. Al Gore, a politician, has turned into a scientist and has won lots of prizes. Leonardo Di Caprio, a Hollywood actor, is an expert on global warming as well-maybe related to his starring in the doomed Titanic. Let's now examine the science and more importantly, the statistics fudging going on behind all this.

The link to NRDC site on Global Warming Basics.

The link to NASA's Global Warming Page.

Averages or differences between averages don't mean much for highly variable distributions

NASA and other sites claim that the temperature rise is 1C in about hundred years, or for sea rising 1mm per year. The range per day in temperature of a place is at least 5C or the sea level is 20cm to 30cm  (200mm to 300mm). If something is varying so strongly per day, does it make any sense to worry about 1C of rise in 100 years or 1mm rise in the sea level per year? 

For the temperature data, can we even talk about the mean temperature of a place over a year??? Given that the temperature per day is varying about at least 5C, consider a place like Dallas, TX, USA-where the temperature is between 25-35 C in the summer, and 0-10C in the winter, can we even infer anything at all if we say that the average temperature of Dallas over a year was 20C! The deviation from the mean is so large that just talking about the average becomes meaningless. If you average the data over the whole earth it becomes even more meaningless, not less (variances add).

NASA is careful to not publish the standard deviation (S.D.) of their data. They are crazily averaging the temperature over the whole year for all places, and using "using elimination of outliers and homogeneity adjustment-as their website says"..talk about smoothing data to fit your models, something which a good mathematician would never do with data! They are plotting the deviation from the  mean, which obviously has less standard deviation that the data itself. Here's the GIS temp data which they are using.

You can't talk about just the average for highly variable distributions-the average has no meaning, because it does not represent the population! It is an insult to statistics to talk about the average temperature of a place, let alone of the entire earth, where the temperature at any given moment on the earth is varying from -40C to 40C. The standard deviation is too high!

The global warming scientists are very careful to hide the variability of the data. In most publications, they will never answer a simple question like "what's the average temperature of the earth today vs. 10 or 20 years ago?". Instead, they will take the moving average, and take deviations from the moving average, as a data point. This  is to confuse the naive observer into thinking that moving averages are something different and you NEED TO measure deviation from there..in reality, the simple data they have is a time series of temperature recordings. The data is massaged to only publish moving averages, and since no one talks about standard deviation of a moving average in statistics, the problem is "solved" by these wily statisticians. This happens also in the stock market (moving average of stocks is often used to see long term trends). But the deviation in the stock market is much less than the temperature data (per day), and that's where the statistical juggling by environmentalists is needed; and they oblige readily.

Some organizations in global warming do publish the average temperature of the earth. It is about 14.6C, see details here. Nowhere on this website (and there are many others) is there a mention of the standard deviation (variance) of the data. Apparently, the average temperature has gone from 13C to 14C in 100 years, or about 0.1C per decade. It is the same data as NASA data, but in a more clear to understand form. 

For people who are trained in statistics, the right statistics test to use to analyse temperature data (and also sea level rise data) is Cohen's d value (or Eta-squared in ANOVA). The claim that in 10 years the average temperature rises by 0.1C may be even statistically significant, but does that mean anything? The size of the rise is important. Assuming a standard deviation of 2C per day, and is the same all years, and let us choose two dates ten years apart (2C daily standard deviation is a reasonable assumption, probably on the lower side, see data for US here Some graphical data for the world here) . NASA claims that the rise is 0.1C in these ten years, which is the difference of the means. Cohen's d is 0.1/2, which is 0.05, a very low value. Even if the daily standard deviation is 1C, the Cohen's d value will be 0.1, which is still very low.

There are claims that the standard deviation is also going up with time with global warming-extreme weather, hotter summers and colder winters. This will make the Cohen's d value even smaller, and the case of global warming enthusiasts even weaker. After all, if global warming leads to ever larger extremes of temperature, you can never be sure of the warming, because it will get drowned out by the variance.

[The problem of statistically significant results being meaningless is a common problem in all fields of investigation. In medicine it is called 'statistically significant but clinically insignificant'. Having large amounts of data points gives you confidence in those numbers, that they are not due to chance alone, but that doesn't mean that the effect size is useful or relevant. Interested readers can do a Google search on "Effect size statistics" or "statistically significant but not meaningful" to learn more.]

If the temperature of all points or most of the points on the globe were going up, and going up considerably (after accounting for the standard deviation), you would have a strong case that there is global warming. 

Digression: In general, I am a believer that good data shouts at you-I borrowed this phrase from Nassim Taleb. If you have to do a lot of data massaging and discarding, there's probably nothing inside the data, or at least nothing very strong. Good strong correlations shout at you-and if you are experienced with looking at numbers, you don't need to calculate statistical variables to prove the correlation. If you are doing so, the correlations are very weak, and your theories are very weak as well. Global warming theories are just an example of these types of weak correlations, which will show up by careful data massaging, or just due to randomness. 

Another problem with temperature data is that all of it is really the temperature of the air at the earth's surface, wherever the temperature data is being taken. The atmosphere is several kilometers in length, and the temperature of the air in the atmosphere decreases as we move up-we all know that it is about -40C at an altitude of 10km. It is very cold as you start moving up. Can we say that the temperature reading we have just at the bottom of the atmospheric column represents the atmospheric air temperature? Note the dimensions here...you are taking a point measurement, and concluding the temperature of the air. Also note that this is not the temperature of the earth's crust at all, which is the solid matter below the atmospheric column. Things are more complicated when talking about the earth which has 75% of the surface as water. There can be no inference of the temperature of the atmospheric air, the water in the oceans, or the solid earth just from a point measurement of the temperature on the surface air. Not to mention that talking about the temperature of a massive solid ball which is thousands of kilometers in diameter sounds like a very foolish thing to me.

The same problem is there with the sea level data-which they claim is rising 1 mm per year. The sea is in constant motion, and you can see waves of a meter or so everywhere...what is the sea level accuracy or noise in the sea level??? Again, bizarre averaging down without reporting standard deviations. The waves are 10cm to 20cm high even in a calm sea (i.e. the seal level itself has this noise of 100mm or 200mm), and we are talking about 1 mm average rises over a year. Once again, the effect size of the rise in a decade of 1cm, is only a tenth of the daily deviation in seal level, clearly this is not important (Cohen's d is 0.1). Also, rise in sea level does not necessarily mean that it is because of global warming-there might be other reasons. Glaciers have been melting since the ice age, and an accelerating in the melting does not necessarily mean that we will see an increased temperature of the earth or the earth's surface. Those are two different things-and you can imagine a scenario where the sea level is really rising without any global warming, for reasons not known to us.

The greenhouse effect theory is all wrong

Once you show some effect, scientists come up with many theories to explain that effect.
There are many experts and ultra-experts in greenhouse effects who publish a lot of complicated calculations and math, a few observations should be enough to crash their weak edifice.

The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (air) is less than 1000 ppm (or 0.1%) . The greenhouse theory rests on this gas as the most important element to "trap" the heat of the earth. They claim that the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has gone up from 400 ppm to 700 ppm in several centuries. To put this in perspective, most of the  earth's atmosphere is nitrogen (78%), oxygen (21%)and argon (0.9%).  What they are claiming is that in a 1000 molecules of air, the one molecule of carbon dioxide is the most important in determining the average temperature of the earth. The other 999 molecules which not carbon dioxide are not important. You would think that  we are talking about radioactivity...with such small concentrations of a gas in the  atmosphere being completely responsible for determining the  earth's temperature.

Another supposed greenhouse gas, water vapor, is about 100 times more abundant than carbon dioxide. If greenhouse effect were real, shouldn't they worry more about water vapor than carbon dioxide?

The  radiation related absorption of heat by carbon dioxide, is an irrelevant factor in determining the temperature of the atmosphere. The heat transfer is from directly contact of the air with the hot object-and later the redistribution by convection. The composition of the air being mostly nitrogen and oxygen, they alone are responsible for the heating effect of all hot objects, liquid or solid, on earth.

I find it silly when they say that that if all carbon dioxide were to be removed from the atmosphere, the earth would be much colder than it is-knowing that carbon dioxide is such a minor part of air. The carbon dioxide being a knob to control the earth's temperature is a silly theory because CO2 is such an insignificant part of the atmosphere.

Negative effects of global warming are highly exaggerated

The other problem which these global warming enthusiasts are not telling the truth about is that even if there is global warming, it doesn't mean that it is bad for us. There is a lot of exaggeration on the bad effects of global warming and sea level rising.

Vladimir Putin seems to get it. In 2003 at the World Climate Change Conference, President Vladimir Putin said "Russia is a northern country. It's not scary if it's two to three degrees warmer. Maybe it would even be a good thing. We'd have to spend less money on fur coats and warmer things." In general, Russia seems to not care about global warming, which is the right thing to do not for just Russia but for the entire world.

Even if the earth is rising in temperature gradually, while this may lead to a tough life for penguins and sea lions and all other animals which live in the poles and cold areas-but as Darwin explained to us so very well in The Origin, Life loves warm weather. The number of species of both plants and animals goes down as we goes away from the Equator. For every penguin dying in Antartica, there are maybe hundreds of deer and snakes and other tropical creatures who are born, and they will lead to the formation of new Species. For plants it is an absolute party as well-a warmer earth will lead to a REFORESTATION of the Amazon jungle in the long term (unfortunately I don't know what that long term is). But this is directly from Darwin, and some simple observations of life around us on our planet. Living things, both plants and animals, multiply better in warm weather, and a warmer earth is good for Life on earth. And come to think of it-what percentage of humans have actually seen a glacier or hung out with a penguin in Antartica? There are plenty of penguin in zoos nowadays-and we can always raise them well there in case there is a complete melting of ice caps (we did domesticate dogs, cats, and all kinds of other animals, this one will be harder, but we have a long history of domesticating animals!). Warmer earth is also good for population of plants and animals in the sea-e.g. the number density of fish species goes down as you move away from warmer waters to colder waters.

Ocean levels rising even at a larger rate is not as catastrophic at these scientists want you to believe. They say that with the current rate of rise of ocean levels, assume all goes according to what all these climate scientists think, Maldives might disappear in 2100 (assuming their projections are true, which is highly doubtful, but let's just say the are).  Maldives has a population of 300,000 today, and even if this happens as these scientists claim-do you think that humans are so brutal that large land mass countries around Maldives like India or Africa or even Europe will let these people just drown??? Of course not. Most countries would be happy to take these immigrants today-it is a very small number of people.
As far as the rise in sea levels on all coasts in major continents-people forget that The Netherlands has been below sea level forever, and human industry of the Dutch has kept it one of the finest, richest countries of Europe in the last 400 years at least. As long as there is a big land mass around, like the Dutch have (unlike Islands like Maldives) we can always reclaim land if needed.

Since the last ice age the earth has been getting warmer (a good thing!) but this present 100 or 200 years acceleration caused by human activity is highly doubtful.

Firstly, whether global warming as measured by a few decades of data, with rising sea levels etc. is not just a simple noise, a simple standard deviation of natural phenomena can't be discarded. It would be like saying that the earthquake frequency is going up in Chile right now, given that for 1 year we have been having a lot of them. There is not enough data to draw conclusions like that about the earth-geological and climactic phenomena are to be measured in thousands of years, not a few decades. A few decades of the earth's temperature rising and the sea level rising doesn't mean much at all.

Earth is greener today because of agriculture 

Secondly and more importantly, I believe the earth is actually much greener today than a few hundred years ago, BECAUSE of the growth in human population. When you land in any airport in Europe or any developed country, or even developing countries in South America, it is a wonderful sight to see the farms and plantations of humans. To support a rising population, cultivation has increased considerably; and while we may have lost some rain forest and some other jungles in the world; the overall greenery in the world is much greater now than before. I doubt that in 1500 Europe or North America would be so green as they are today. The plantations of grains, fruits and vegetables, wines, etc. has lead us to massive reclamations of complete deserts-witness Califorina and Nevada and Arizona in the US, or Mendoza in Argentina. Humans may have cut down forests to expand, but most forest has been cut down to plant more food, and NOT for cities. A dozen cherry trees are much better than a wild pine tree for the carbon footprint. And if we add the deserts and waste lands reclaimed, I believe it can be easily argued that we are much greener today than before.
Just as a farmer throwing seed in the ground would be called a madman by someone who didn't know that this seed will multiply many fold to give even more seed (example of Dr. Burns cited by Smith in Wealth of Nations); similarly, just because we lose a forest doesn't mean that by cutting it we will have less plants than before. If the cut forest is replanted with trees and crops for human use, and maintained green and productive all year round, you will come out much ahead. And I have first hand knowledge from a forest company that the lumber they cut down grows back 100% in some years-thanks to humans taking care of the  land, putting fertilizer, supplying water, etc. Not to mention the desert  and other lands you reclaim and agriculture-that's a real addition to greenery on the planet. You can see this plainly in California, Arizona in the US, and in Mendoza, Argentina. What was once a desert is now fully grown fields of crops-oranges, wines, olives, etc.

There is a theory on faster hurricanes because of warmer weathers (see links above). There are a thousand other effects of global warming published everyday, and all they are are theories to scare humanity, in my humble opinion.

What we are doing is restraining economic development by all these carbon caps etc. Energy is becoming expensive to produce-and since cheap energy is the CAUSE of economic development (just like all cheap raw materials) we are increasing the costs to humans because of bad science polluting the world.

This highly speculative but development retarding "science" of global warming should be dumped completely for more serious pursuits in physics, chemistry, and mathematics. That's where we want our kids to focus their minds on-and not on some "I am ruining the world by driving my car or drinking more chilled coke" ascetic guilt.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent blog! Do you have any hints for aspiring writers?
    I'm hoping to start my own site soon but I'm a little lost on everything.
    Would you recommend starting with a free platform like Wordpress or go for a paid option? There are so many
    choices out there that I'm totally overwhelmed
    .. Any recommendations? Appreciate it!

    ReplyDelete