Climatologists are no Einsteins, says his successor


More about “climate change”, more about genuine science and skepticism.

[My comment: Wisdom cannot be bought or contrived, it comes with age, experience, skepticism and having an open mind.]

From nj.com by  Paul Mulshine/The Star Ledger.   (H/T  WUWT.)

Freeman Dyson is a physicist who has been teaching at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton since Albert Einstein was there. When Einstein died in 1955, there was an opening for the title of “most brilliant physicist on the planet.” Dyson has filled it.

dyson.jpg Freeman Dyson  

So when the global-warming movement came along, a lot of people wondered why he didn’t come along with it. The reason he’s a skeptic is simple, the 89-year-old Dyson said when I phoned him.

“I think any good scientist ought to be a skeptic,” Dyson said.

Dyson came to this country from his native England at age 23 and immediately made major breakthroughs in quantum theory. After that he worked on a nuclear-powered rocket (see video below). Then in the late 1970s, he got involved with early research on climate change at the Institute for Energy Analysis in Oak Ridge, Tenn.

“I just think they don’t understand the climate,” he said of climatologists. “Their computer models are full of fudge factors.”

That research, which involved scientists from many disciplines, was based on experimentation. The scientists studied such questions as how atmospheric carbon dioxide interacts with plant life and the role of clouds in warming.

But that approach lost out to the computer-modeling approach favored by climate scientists. And that approach was flawed from the beginning, Dyson said.

“I just think they don’t understand the climate,” he said of climatologists. “Their computer models are full of fudge factors.”

A major fudge factor concerns the role of clouds. The greenhouse effect of carbon dioxide on its own is limited. To get to the apocalyptic projections trumpeted by Al Gore and company, the models have to include assumptions that CO-2 will cause clouds to form in a way that produces more warming.

“The models are extremely oversimplified,” he said. “They don’t represent the clouds in detail at all. They simply use a fudge factor to represent the clouds.”

Dyson said his skepticism about those computer models was borne out by recent reports of a study by Ed Hawkins of the University of Reading in Great Britain that showed global temperatures were flat between 2000 and 2010 — even though we humans poured record amounts of CO-2 into the atmosphere during that decade.

That was vindication for a man who was termed “a civil heretic” in a New York Times Magazine article on his contrarian views. Dyson embraces that label, with its implication that what he opposes is a religious movement. So does his fellow Princeton physicist and fellow skeptic, William Happer.

“There are people who just need a cause that’s bigger than themselves,” said Happer. “Then they can feel virtuous and say other people are not virtuous.”

To show how uncivil this crowd can get, Happer e-mailed me an article about an Australian professor who proposes — quite seriously — the death penalty for heretics such as Dyson. As did Galileo, they can get a reprieve if they recant.

I hope that guy never gets to hear Dyson’s most heretical assertion: Atmospheric CO-2 may actually be improving the environment.

“It’s certainly true that carbon dioxide is good for vegetation,” Dyson said. “About 15 percent of agricultural yields are due to CO-2 we put in the atmosphere. From that point of view, it’s a real plus to burn coal and oil.”

In fact, there’s more solid evidence for the beneficial effects of CO-2 than the negative effects, he said. So why does the public hear only one side of this debate? Because the media do an awful job of reporting it.
“They’re absolutely lousy,” he said of American journalists. “That’s true also in Europe. I don’t know why they’ve been brainwashed.”

I know why: They’re lazy. Instead of digging into the details, most journalists are content to repeat that mantra about “consensus” among climate scientists.

The problem, said Dyson, is that the consensus is based on those computer models. Computers are great for analyzing what happened in the past, he said, but not so good at figuring out what will happen in the future. But a lot of scientists have built their careers on them. Hence the hatred for dissenters.

“It was similar in the Soviet Union,” he said. “Who could doubt Marxist economics was the future? Everything else was in the dustbin.”

There’s a lot of room left in that bin for the ideas promulgated by people dumber than Dyson. Which is just about everyone.

ADD: This quote from the great H.L. Mencken captures perfectly the religious nature of those in the climate cult:

“The essence of science is that it is always willing to abandon a given idea, however fundamental it may seem to be, for a better one; the essence of theology is that it holds its truths to be eternal and immutable.”

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About Ken McMurtrie

Retired Electronics Engineer, most recently installing and maintaining medical X-Ray equipment. A mature age "student" of Life and Nature, an advocate of Truth, Justice and Humanity, promoting awareness of the injustices in the world.
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One Response to Climatologists are no Einsteins, says his successor

  1. From the 1st related article above:
    “THE high priests of global warming are in a panic these days as their prophecies of doom have proved to be as credible as a the Mayan calendar.

    “Research by Ed Hawkins of University of Reading shows surface temperatures since 2005 are already at the low end of the range projections derived from 20 climate models and if they remain flat, they will fall outside the models’ range within a few years,” the newspaper Australian reported over the weekend.

    As always, global warmists blame carbon dioxide.

    “Another paper published by leading climate scientist James Hansen, the head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, says the lower than expected temperature rise between 2000 and the present could be explained by increased emissions from burning coal,” the Australian reported.

    Hansen is wrong. Al Gore is wrong. The International Panel on Climate Change is wrong.

    But what do I know? My degree is in communication. For expert opinion, I turn to people such as physicist Freeman Dyson.

    “When I listen to the public debates about climate change, I am impressed by the enormous gaps in our knowledge, the sparseness of our observations and the superficiality of our theories,” Dyson wrote in his book, “Many Colored Glass: Reflections on the Place of Life in the Universe.”

    “Many of the basic processes of planetary ecology are poorly understood. They must be better understood before we can reach an accurate diagnosis of the present condition of our planet.

    “When we are trying to take care of a planet, just as when we are taking care of a human patient, diseases must be diagnosed before they can be cured. We need to observe and measure what is going on in the biosphere, rather than relying on computer models.”
    Then there is climatologist Judith Curry.

    “With regards to the IPCC, cognitive biases in the context of an institutionalized consensus-building process have arguably resulted in the consensus becoming increasingly confirmed in a self-reinforcing way, to the detriment of the scientific process,” Curry wrote on her blog last fall.

    Then there is Nobel-winning physicist Ivar Giaever, who quit the American Physical Society in 2011.

    “In the APS, it is OK to discuss whether the mass of the proton changes over time and how a multi-universe behaves, but the evidence of global warming is incontrovertible?” Giaever wrote in an email to Kate Kirby, executive officer of the physics society.

    Then there is Mr. Mallory, a high school science teacher whose students included John Christy, professor of atmospheric science and a contributor to several IPCC reports.”

    Makes interesting reading. worth looking at all of it.

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