Global warming theory lacks a falsifiable hypothesis and climate policy lacks Conditions of Success

In Science – to be considered a science – it is the formulation of the falsifiable hypothesis that is critical and ought to determine the subsequent collection or generation of data.

A fundamental requirement before setting out a new policy or embarking on any new course of action should be to define the Conditions of Success (CoS) prior to starting. This is usually so in industry and business – usually explicit but sometimes implicit – especially where investment is to be made or resources are to be used in implementing the new course of action:

  1. What are the objectives to be achieved, and
  2. how will we be able to measure if we are on track.

1. A Falsifiable Hypothesis:

The “global warming” hypothesis is that humans are impacting global climate and specifically that man-made carbon dioxide emissions are causing – through direct and indirect effects – the global climate to warm. But this formulation is virtually impossible either to prove or to falsify. With the many hundreds – if not thousands – of parameters which impact the chaotic system which makes up our climate, it is almost impossible to either collect or generate data which can isolate the effects of just this one parameter.

The prevailing “belief” that this hypothesis is correct is based on being able to say that observed warming is not inconsistent with climate models which include the warming due to anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide and that no better models exist. (The hiatus in temperature over the last 20 years is dismissed as being a “temporary” hiatus or due to some unknown effect – such as deep ocean take-up of heat – which is not included in the models). If no observation is permitted to falsify the hypothesis then this is merely a belief and a religion and not science.

However, the same global warming theory can easily be converted into a falsifiable hypothesis if it is formulated thus: “Increasing anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide have a significant warming effect on global climate”. This can then be subject to being proved false. The recent hiatus in global temperature then immediately leads to the conclusion that either

  1. the hypothesis is false, or
  2. the hypothesis must be modified to be
  3. “Increasing anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide may have a significant warming effect on global climate over long periods in excess of at least 50 years”

And then there is no longer any need for panic.

If the study of climate is ever to become science, the hypotheses will need to be revisited.

2. Conditions of Success

I am always somewhat perplexed that the global warming scare has led to the implementation of policies which – in not a single case – address the Conditions of Success. In no case of “decarbonisation” or carbon taxes or carbon credits or support for renewable energies is there any consideration of the measurements to be made to determine if the actions are having the desired effect.

It has been a blind rush into the support of solar and wind energy with no assessment of the increased electricity prices, the reduction of growth and the subsequent loss of jobs. In no country has there been a definition of the measurable results to be achieved along the way (except for measuring how much money was spent). Just the increase of the capacity of wind and solar power production has been taken to be a success though electricity prices have gone up sharply and no reduction of carbon dioxide concentration has been achieved. All the actions taken over the last 3 decades against the use of fossil fuels have had no impact whatsoever in reducing the rate of increase of carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere.

In the US the unexpected advent of shale gas has led to a reduction of carbon dioxide emissions though the global emissions are higher than ever before. And yet the global temperature has been at a standstill for almost 2 decades!

Of course for politicians carbon taxes and the like have become merely a source of revenue where the scare of “global warming” is used as a label merely to prevent resentment against a new tax. These taxes are invariably decoupled from any effects on the changes to carbon dioxide concentration and on global temperature to be achieved.

All these “climate” policies which have produced no reduction of carbon-dioxide concentration or even a reduction in the growth rate and where global temperatures have also failed to increase now seem needlessly self-destructive.

“Climate change policies” will never be credible or of any value until the Conditions of Success for such policies are defined in advance of such policies being implemented.

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One Response to “Global warming theory lacks a falsifiable hypothesis and climate policy lacks Conditions of Success”

  1. These items caught my eye – 22 June 2013 | grumpydenier Says:

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