Posts Tagged ‘paradigm shift’

Broken link between carbon dioxide and global warming could be causing a paradigm shift in climate change theory

November 1, 2013

Dr. David Stockwell writing in Quadrant suggests that a paradigm shift in global warming theory may be underway.

Remember Thomas Kuhn and his paradigm shift?  According to his Structure of Scientific Revolutions, theories change only when anomalous observations stress the ”dominant paradigm” to the point that it becomes untenable. Until then, failure of a result to conform to the prevailing paradigm is not seen as refuting the dominant theory, but explained away as a mistake of the researchers, errors in the data, within the range of uncertainty, and so on. Only at the point of crisis does science become open to a new paradigm.  So, does Kuhn inform the current climate debate, help identify important information or an alternative paradigm?

The link between carbon dioxide concentrations and global warming effects is not based on any direct evidence. It is based on the absorption spectrum of the gas and then on assumptions about the “forcing” caused by the trace amounts of the gas in the atmosphere on other parameters such as clouds. This assumed impact is “confirmed” by correlations between global temperature (or temperature proxies) and carbon dioxide concentration and the assumption that anthropogenic effects (fossil fuel combustion)  dominate the undoubted increase of carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere.  It is said that there is no better correlation but that is not true. Ocean cycles have been shown to have a much stronger correlation. But this assumed link is now looking decidedly shaky as long-ignored parameters (solar effects and the oceans) are also taken into account. Carbon dioxide concentrations have been increasing steadily but global temperatures have remained still for the last 17 – 18 years. In fact over the last 10 years global temperatures have shown a slight decline. Climate models have used the assumed carbon dioxide effect as input. But the predictions they have made about antarctic ice extent, sea level, hurricanes and stormy weather and hot spots in the troposphere have all proved wrong. Real global temperatures are increasingly diverging from these model results. The increase of information is increasing the uncertainty which is very odd.

Climate models can be seen as encapsulating the dominant theory, even though they are composed of many different theories regarding land, the ocean and atmosphere.  Despite their differences they are also similar in many ways, sharing terminology such as the ‘radiative kernel’.  Lets agree, for the purpose of argument, that the dominant AGW paradigm is of global temperature’s high sensitivity to  CO2 doubling, resulting in an increase of around 3°C, which appears to be about the central estimate of the climate models.

Does the 15-year ‘pause’ in global temperatures stress this theory? Certainly to some, the stress has already reached a ‘crisis’; while to others the divergence can be explained away by natural variation, uncertainty, and errors in the data. 

Do failed models and their predictions of increasing extreme events, like hurricanes, droughts and floods, stress the climate models?  Possibly not.  From a physical perspective, these phenomena lie at the boundaries of the theory.  Hurricanes, droughts and floods are ‘higher order’ statistics — extremes not climate averages. Surface temperature is only a part of the greater global climate system. Because anomalous behavior at the margins can be discarded without sacrificing the main theory, their power to confirm or reject the dominant paradigm is somewhat limited. 

Ocean heat content, however, is in a unique position.  The world’s oceans store over 90% of the heat in the climate system.  Arguably, therefore, increases in ocean heat determine overall global warming.  Ocean heat represents the physical bulk of the global heat store, and so should carry the most weight in our assessment of the status of AGW. Observations of ocean heat uptake represent the crucial experiment  — observations capable of decisively dismantling a theory despite its widespread acceptance in the scientific community.  The ARGO project to monitor ocean heat with thousands of drifting buoys is the crucial experiment of the AGW stable. 

A number of climate bloggers have remarked on the very low rate of ocean heat uptake (here, and here, and here), much lower than predicted by the models (herehere, and here).  The last link is about Nic Lewis, a coauthor on Otto et al. 2013, who feels that recent findings of low climate sensitivity, many based on ocean heat content, have led a number of prominent IPCC authors to abandon the higher estimates of climate sensitivity. That may not be a ‘catastrophe’ for the dominant AGW paradigm, but it is certainly a lurch by insiders towards the lower ends of risk and urgency. 

The IPCC panel preparing the AR5 report may not have been devastated when they changed the likely range of climate sensitivity, which had stood at 4.5–2°C since 1990. The lower extimate has now been dropped from 2°C to 1.5°C. What has not been appreciated is that increasing the range of uncertainty is impossible in a period of Kuhnian ‘normal science’, where new information always decreases uncertainty. 

The ‘blow-out’ in the range of likely climate sensitivity can only mean one thing: We are no longer in a period of ‘normal’ science, but entering a period of ‘paradigm shift’. ….

…..

Dr. Stockwell concludes:

Climate skeptics don’t want to say we told you so but, well, we told you so. Even though we do not yet have an accepted theory of solar influence, there are 25 unique models in the AR5-sponsored CIMP5 archive, most with a climate sensitivity untenable on observations from the last decade. 

Take out Occam’s razor and cull them – deep and hard.

Dr David Stockwell, Adjunct Researcher, Central Queensland University

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The next 100,000 years

June 1, 2013

In my other blog I try to address the life and times of the last 6,000 generations but trying to look forward to the next 6,000 is a fascinating thought experiment.

I was looking at the history of glacials and interglacials and just thinking that it was was terribly “unfair” that while I could imagine the future to my mind’s content, I could never know it. At least for even the distant past, we can look at surviving clues and by the logic that the past must have led to the present we can fill in the gaps and imagine what must have happened. The present constrains the past and helps to keep the imagination within narrow bounds. But for the future, the present  provides a starting point  and natural laws must also constrain any development of an unfolding future. But there are more natural laws we don’t know about than we do. And we haven’t a clue about all that we don’t know that we don’t know.

But I am still free to imagine what the next 100,000 years may bring.

As best we can judge, interglacials (defined as being when temperatures are higher than or equal to those at present)  have lasted upto 28,000 years and some seem to have been as short as 4,000 years. However most seem to last around 13,000 years. This interglacial period will surely end – whether within a 1000 years or in 10,000 – and a new glacial period will ensue.

http://roperld.com/science/sealevelvstemperature.htm

interglacials

But the next glacial will be different for humans and primarily because we have access to “abundant energy” (mainly based on fossil fuels and nuclear energy).

(more…)

Paradigm shift: The beginning of the end of Jihadism

May 9, 2011

I have posted earlier that the death of Osama bin Laden represents a paradigm shift for US foreign policy where after a decade the “Get Osama” game is over. The question of evidence of Osama being dead is already obsolete. Doubts about the legality of  executing a self-appointed enemy in another country without the tacit approval of that country have also become irrelevant. The bottom-line is that it is the end of one chapter – if not the whole book – of the 9/11 tragedy. US Policy can finally begin to look beyond the nebulous “War on Terror”. The lack of definable boundaries for this “War” has actually led – in 10 years – to the loss of many of the civil liberties which had been won slowly in the previous 50+ years since the end of World War II. Perhaps some of these will be restored.

But the shift may be more fundamental and more widespread than just for US policy. The Spring revolutions in North Africa and the Middle East have  actually caused change on the ground and have been more effective than any ideology based on jihadism or terrorism. As this movement spreads to Libya, Yemen, Bahrain and perhaps even to Saudi Arabia, the value and even the capability of jihad being a vehicle for revolutionary change is losing ground.

The world has shifted away from Ben Ali, Mubarak, Osama bin Laden, Gaddafi, King Abdullah, Assad and their ilk.

Paradigm Shift

The violence of jihad is no longer being seen as a credible method of change against the authoritarian regimes of the Arab World. Other methods are clearly more effective. Jihad has few definable objectives left. 

Der Spiegel writes:

Osama bin Laden’s violent ideology may have once garnered support in the Arab world, but his death this week came at a time when the burgeoning pro-democracy movement in the Muslim world had rendered his ideas and his international terror network al-Qaida irrelevant.

… Many Muslims admired Osama bin Laden, and not secretly. A study by the Washington-based Pew Research Center conducted two years after the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington found that 72 percent of Palestinians, almost 60 percent of Indonesians and Jordanians and almost half the Pakistani population considered bin Laden to be “trustworthy.”

Given such overwhelming support back then, it is amazing how little interest there is today in the former batal, or hero, in the Arab world. The news of the audacious Navy Seals raid electrified the West, but in North Africa and the Middle East it was merely one story among many. On Tuesday, the front page of Dubai’s Al-Bajan newspaper was dedicated to the 40th anniversary of the founding of the United Arab Emirates. In Cairo, the lead article in the Al-Wafd newspaper addressed worries about money flowing out of Egypt. The Arab News in the Saudi capital Jeddah reported that English would now be an obligatory subject at school from fourth grade onward. Only then did it mention and comment on the death of “the Sheikh,” as bin Laden was always respectfully and reverentially referred to.

Not much of that respect and reverence appears to remain, and both bin Laden’s reputation and the violent culture he symbolized have been on the decline in the Muslim world for years. Since 2003, researchers at Pew have asked the same question about bin Laden every year. While 72 percent of Palestinians backed him in 2003, that figure has now fallen to 34 percent. Jordanian support has dropped from 56 to 13 percent, while Pakistani backing for bin Laden has slumped from 46 to 18 percent. ….. But as dangerous as al-Qaida remains as a terrorist organization, its political ideology has become virtually irrelevant in the Middle East. The more attacks it has carried out since 9/11 — including on targets in the Muslim world — the harder it has been to justify that terrorism to ordinary Muslims. …

…. The upturn in fortunes in the Persian Gulf, the resulting opening of previously closed Arab economies and the simultaneous boom in the use of social media have threatened to sideline al-Qaida completely. A growing majority of mainly young Arabs are no longer primarily interested in fighting presumed American hegemony in the Middle East or pushing for the acceptance of a religion allegedly repressed by pro-Western regimes. Instead they want a share of the economic growth from which only their rulers’ clans have profited until now.

Pious jihadist philosophers simply have no answers to such aspirations. Religious arguments are as useless in countering anger at the unjust division of wealth as the sham reforms with which autocratic leaders in the region have tried, and in several instances, failed to cling to power. It is ironic, for example, that bin Laden’s killing comes only weeks after the toppling of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who claimed until the bitter end that “hundreds of new bin Ladens” would make the world unsafe unless his advice was heeded. 

Other dictators and terrorist leaders will undoubtedly follow Mubarak and bin Laden into the annals of history. As the commanders of a sinking epoch both men managed to cause a lot of harm, but their philosophies are finished.

Paradigm shift: Proof is only needed if Osama is alive – his death no longer does

May 5, 2011

The ground has shifted.

The default position has changed to be that Osama is dead. No further evidence is necessary  or can actually contribute further to that default position. The decision not to release any photographs for now makes sense. The additional benefit it can provide is marginal. No doubt the conspiracy theorists and many others will screech and wail about this lack of evidence and how it may be that Osama was not killed.

They miss the point. The “Kill Osama” game is over.

The common perception and consciousness is  that he is now dead.  It is no longer politically tenable to demand that “something be done about Osama” or to criticise the US administration for not having done enough to achieve justice for 9/11. The burden of proof is no longer on the US Administration to show that Osama is dead but is on those who wish to show that he is alive.

Perception is reality.

President Obama can no longer be criticised for any sins of omission regarding the hunt for Osama bin Laden. A partial closure of events of 9/11 and the “War on Terror” has been achieved.  US foreign policy has been a hostage to the events of 9/11 for almost a decade. Some of the constraints are now removed. It frees Obama’s possibilities for actions which were unthinkable as long as the common perception was that Osama was still alive and 9/11 was an open wound. The wound has not healed yet but it now begins to close. A withdrawal or partial withdrawal from Afghanistan now becomes politically possible. US policy can now begin to look beyond what was possible with the shackles of 9/11.

Whether all this was intentional or just a happy coincidence will never be known.

Perception is reality and the perception now – with or without any further evidence –  is that Osama is dead. From the view point of foreign policy development this is not just a shifting of ground – it is a magnitude 9 earthquake. It can allow a freedom of thought in US domestic and foreign policy which has not been possible for this decade of the “War on Terror”.

This represents a fundamental paradigm shift.


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