Climate Scientists, the Phrenologists of 2016

Sometimes I suffer from low blood pressure; I often use the Science Friday podcast to bring it back up to normal. [For the record, SWMBO says I use it to see if I can get the sphygmomanometer to pop the bulb at the top of the column.]

The bumps on my head don’t explain that, either.

Two ‘casts from December got my attention: Do Scientists Have the Duty to Speak Out? and Why Science Needs Failure to Succeed. Each focused on a new book:

In the first, Naomi Oreskes spreads more disinformation and name calling in the name of a (carbon) tax and “sensible regulations” than good science. Host Ira Flatow1 asks if the slogan, “If you see something, say something,” applies to scientists. “If they see a risk to the planet, for example, should they say something about it?” he wondered. In her book Merchants of Doubt,2 Ms. Oreskes “says some scientists undersell the conclusions of their work, and this ‘scientific conservatism has led to under-estimation of climate-related changes’.”


The sky is falling! The sky is falling! Al Gore said, underestimating the issue and the wealth to be looted.

The very same day, Mr. Flatow interviewed Stuart Firestein about his new book, Failure: Why Science Is So Successful,3 the neuroscientist “makes a case for science as ‘less of an edifice built on great and imponderable pillars, and more as a quite normal human activity’.” His point “one must try to fail” reminds us that “real science is a revision in progress, always. It proceeds in fits and starts of ignorance.”

The political scientists leading the AGW charge will not admit contrary data.

Phrenologists thought their science was immutable, too.

Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited.
— Ambrose Bierce
Science is uncertain. Theories are subject to revision; observations are open to a variety of interpretations, and scientists quarrel amongst themselves. This is disillusioning for those untrained in the scientific method, who thus turn to the rigid certainty of the Bible instead. There is something comfortable about a view that allows for no deviation and that spares you the painful necessity of having to think.
— Isaac Asimov
In science it often happens that scientists say, ‘You know that’s a really good argument; my position is mistaken,’ and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn’t happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion.
— Carl Sagan

In 2014’s We Only Have 500 Days Left to Avoid Climate Chaos! I discussed the fact that climate “science” today is a Harris poll and the way the Far Green consortium has distorted real science with their religious insistence that their science is right and fixed. Their purpose is to keep the Green flowing. The green research dollars. The green investment dollars. The green tax dollars.

Science requires a comfort with being wrong, a tolerance for failure, Mr. Firestein reminded us. But political Climate Scientists have a bible that cannot fail and is never contradictable.

And that, dear friends, is why our political Climate Scientists are the Phrenologists of the 21st Century.

1 Mr. Flatow is well-known for his statement that “the science is fixed” over all anthropogenic global warming.
2 Ms. Oreskes received her Bachelor of Science in mining geology from the Royal School of Mines of Imperial College, University of London and earned her PhD from the Graduate Special Program in Geological Research and History of Science at Stanford. She is the author of or has contributed to a number of respected essays and technical reports in economic geology.
3 Stuart J. Firestein, PhD, chairs the Department of Biological Sciences at Columbia University where his lab researches the vertebrate olfactory receptor neuron and where he teaches neuroscience. He does accept AGW but recognizes that “uncertainty is a dirty word” in the argument.



“I can see my breath!” I complained during walkies Friday morning.

“Wimp,” a passing resident said almost sotto voce.

It was 15°F colder in Southwest Puffin than in North Puffin on Friday.

Some Solar Deniers would have you believe that Global Warming caused this dip in temperature.

I’m an engineer in real life but I also have a 98% useless undergrad degree in Math.

Today is the last day of the 2015 Atlantic Hurricane season. I took my hurricane shutters down last week.

Terminology: A “hurricane” is a tropical cyclone. In the western North Pacific, these storms are called “typhoons” but similar storms in the Indian and South Pacific Oceans are known as “cyclones.”

Hurricane modeling fascinates me. As the season ends in the Tropics, we relied on computer projections that gave our forecasters the results we see as a colored “cone of uncertainty” on the weather maps. Generally speaking, the models can narrow down a north Atlantic tropical cyclone to a path that falls in the … North Atlantic.

Spaghetti Model of Atlantic Hurricane TracksThere are four or five excellent global hurricane forecasting models. Those models solve the equations describing the behavior of the atmosphere over the entire globe. Remember that. These numeric (or “dynamical”) models — called ECMWF, GFDL, GFS, and UKMET — each take hours to run on supercomputers. I was surprised to learn that the U.S. National Weather Service uses the less useful NAM model for only North America and the surrounding waters. There are also statistical models as well as simple trajectory models and hybrid statistical/dynamical models. The National Hurricane Center maintains a list of all of the tropical cyclone track and intensity models.

Here’s one percent of the two percent use that I get from my useless Math degree: I know enough math to know I absolutely could not write the equations for one of these models.

I also know enough math to know the four best hurricane models blither off into uncertainty in a few short days.

“The global warming scam … is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen I have seen.”
–Harold Lewis

The IPCC’s man-made Global Warming model simulations cover the period to the year 2100 and beyond. Not five days. Not 500 days. Not even 5,000 days. The IPCC says their model of man-made Global Warming is fixed out to 31,000 days.


We can’t predict whether it will rain on South Puffin today (there’s a 10-20% chance) with any certainty but we can predict the temperature there on November 30, 2100.


Global Warming models solve the equations describing the behavior of the atmosphere over the entire globe. Sound familiar?

Let’s consider the hurricane models we count on.

Tropical Storm Kate formed out around the Bahamas on a Monday morning just three weeks ago today, an occurrence unexpected by forecasters in the November of an El Niño year. That pries another nail out of climate models, too.

By Veterans’ Day, Hurricane Kate had become the fourth hurricane of the 2015 Atlantic hurricane season. Kate tracked north away from the Bahamas, passed well north of Bermuda, and pretty much bothered only the fishies.

Strong El Niño events typically bring the Atlantic season to an earlier-than-usual close because the subtropical jet stream gets an increasing boost toward late autumn. Despite that, Kate did become a hurricane but was tamed a couple of days later. Dr. Jeff Masters noted that the “only” Atlantic hurricanes observed since 1950 during El Niño Novembers are Ida (2009), Florence and Gordon (both 1994), the “Perfect Storm” (Grace in 1991 which was actually a Halloween storm), Frances (1986), and Martha (1969).

“Only”? Six seems like a lot of “onlies,” since there were November hurricanes in only three non-El Niño years — 1998, 2001, and 2005. (There was also a Cat 1 hurricane in the Azores in December 1951, plus Alice in the Antilles in December-January, 1952, and Lili in December, 1984. 1951-2 was an El Niño year.) I think there have been 21 el Niño years since 1950.

What have we learned?

  • I’m thinking Dr. Jeff Masters is as good at hurricane reporting as at global warming prediction.
  • If we aren’t good enough at math to predict an atmospheric event as big as a hurricane over a summer, we aren’t good enough at math to predict a 4.3°C temperature change over a century.
  • We don’t know how to terraform a planet.
  • I hate outdoor walkies when the temperature is 4°C.

Maybe the science ain’t as “fixed” as the Far Green would have us believe, hmmm?

Hmmm, indeed. British public schools used to “cane” students for performance as poor as these predicters keep turning in.


King Coal

Having learned how by stealing General Motors from stockholders like thee and me, Mr. Obama has now done the same to the coal industry: he broke it and is handing it to his supporters.

“Filings with the Securities and Exchange commission show that between April and June this year Soros Fund Management (SFM) bought more than 1 million shares in Peabody, the world’s largest private coal company, and 500,000 shares in Arch.”

In 2009, Mr. Soros pledged to spend $1 billion of his own money on renewable energy at Al Gore’s urging and funded the Far Green “Climate Policy Initiative” thinktank. At the time, he said: “There is no magic bullet for climate change, but there is a lethal bullet: coal.”

A spokesman for SFM declined to comment on the investments. Wotta surprise.


No Respect

Bagpipes get no respect.

Q. What’s the definition of perfect pitch?
A: When you toss a banjo in the dumpster — swish, nothin’ but net — and it hits the bagpipes.

We went to a roots music concert last week, one in which I was the announcer. There was a piper but I was good. I didn’t tell a single bagpipe story and it about killed me not to.

I live in the middle of the Florida Keys on an island I can drive to. Three generations of my family has owned that house, so we have some history but we are newcomers compared to the real conchs.

Q: What’s the first thing a bagpiper says when he knocks on your door?
A: “Pizza!”

I wasn’t even born when the (pre-Global Warming) Labor Day hurricane destroyed the Florida East Coast Overseas Railroad or when Key West’s Mallory Square was the anchorage of pirates, the the center of the shipwrecking industry, or the assembly point of American forces for four wars.

I also missed the Mallory Square Sunset Celebrations of the 60s when the hippies and gypsies and freaks would watch Atlantis rise mythically out of the sunset clouds.

My first drive across the 7-Mile bridge was an eye opener. Florida DOT built the road on top of Henry Flagler’s historic “railroad that went to sea.” They poured two narrow lanes of concrete, then painted the old tracks white and used them as guardrails. The lanes were so narrow that two trucks would slap mirrors passing. Until 1982, when the adjoining new bridge opened, it was the only road cars could take to Key West.

My first memory of Mallory Square in Key West was a funky free-for-all with creosote piers and gravel and street vendors. The Cookie Lady was there as were artists and jugglers, jewelry crafters and a cat herder, and the southernmost bagpiper.

Alfred Hitchcock once said, “I understand the inventor of the bagpipes was inspired when he saw a man carrying an indignant, asthmatic pig under his arm. Unfortunately, the man-made object never equaled the purity of sound achieved by the pig.”

We’ve done the proper touristy stuff. We took selfies at mile marker 0 and at the Southernmost point. We have paraded with the pets at Fantasy Fest. And we have dangled our feet over the edge of the pier, waiting for sunset.

You can’t do that at Mallory Square any more. It is too clean, too concrete and the cruise ships have replaced the pirates.

Will Soto was setting up his high wire poles one evening when SWMBO and I were indeed sitting on the edge of the pier with our (bare) feet perhaps a yard or so above high tide.

“Tonight will be the best night of the year,” Mr. Soto said to us as he set one pole right behind us. He wandered away, pulling his wire with him and worked on the other pole.

Then he came back.

“Tonight will be the best night of the year,” he said again as he tightened the two guy wires. I figured this was just the normal hyperbole, drumming up trade. We were, of course, the trade. This combination of work and commentary continued for a couple more round trips.

He finally went back to the other pole to do the same and then returned.

“Tonight will be the best night of the year,” he said and I couldn’t stand it any longer.

“Why is that,” I asked.

“The bagpiper called in sick.”



A fair number* of people in the First World believe they can change the climate.

They really really really believe they can change the climate. They have faith.

Plea for a RaindancerHmmm.

Why don’t they start a little smaller by changing something important like how much it rains in California? It’s so bad out there that Starbucks had to stop selling California mountain spring water. They substituted cool Saharan waters.

I reckon that evening out the rain that falls over the US would do it. The South Central Plains will get another 3-7 inches today.

How ’bout all you political scientists who believe you can tax and regulate a cooler planet just move that a rain bit so Cali gets 2-6 inches and the Plains an inch?

What? You don’t think they can do that?


* “Fair” in this case means about 1.3% of the world population plus 70% of politicians and 90% of bobble-headed celebrities.