The pro-AGW folks are in a tizzy trying to spin and explain the Hadley CRU incident. To their credit, they are making some fair and even good arguments; unfortunately, the anti-AGW crowd is making vastly better ones.
Sure, everybody jumped on Hide the decline with plenty of strong words on both sides. But then came another piece of damning evidence. And another, followed by another, with two more following those. The Czar believes he has already seen a good hundred cited references to the Hadley data that make reference to burying data, working around corrupt data, acknowledgment that key variables are dummies, and so on.
But let us review for the umpteenth time here what a Theory even is. In science, you know that a Law is absolutely certain, with no possibility of error…for example, the Laws of Thermodynamics. A Principle is pretty much always the case, but it is not difficult to find the odd variation or exception, as with Bernoullis principle. A Hypothesis is a darn good guess: basically, a Heres what I think might be the case that you use to set up a series of experiments to see if youre right. A Theorem is something that is generally true, in common cases, but could potentially be disproved later (and easily). For example, there is a Euclidian theorem that all the interior angles of a triangle add up to 180°. As you likely already know, that can be disproved easily by putting a triangle on a curved surface. The interior angles formed by the North Pole, where the Prime Meridian meets the equator and where 90° E meets the equator add up to 270°. But for your mundane measurements of triangles, the theorem holds.
A Theory is a framework of explanations that makes sense. To make sense, a theory must do two things:
1. It must incorporate new information with minimal modification. For example, Einsteins Theory of Relativity does not specifically mention black holes; but all theories on black hole formation and function plug perfectly in without modification. Darwin did not know that tube worms living off poisonous chemical emissions from the Earths mantle could exist, but their evolutionary existence not only plugs into his Theory of Natural Selection but actually helps connect a lot of information on how life first appeared on earth.
2. It must predict future discoveries. A good theory results in informed scientists saying If this is true, then we should expect to see…. For example, scientists reviewed Einsteins work and realized that a transit of the planet Mercury would reveal some relativistic effects due to the Suns massive gravity distorting the space-time field around both; and indeed, it took many decades but the effect was witnessed. Quantum mechanical theory predicted quarks long before they were found.
So what is AGW? It is not a Law. It is not a Principle. It may not even be a Theory. Consider:
AGW does not do the best job of incorporating new evidence. Like Intelligent Designers, the pro-AGW researchers tend to grab every piece of evidence that does not contradict their premise and fly it up as yet more proof. Yet, there is no cohesion tying the data together. Look at the diversity of data sources producing information; so why the massive effort to produce different formulas, creation of software subroutines, and improper linking of databases to produce a single hockey stick chart? The Czar does not suggest that all data are universal and do not require analysis, normalization, regularization of format, and categorization based on the type of information it is. But if the science behind AGW were so settled and obvious, perfect evidence would be dripping out of everywhere, and we do not see it.
Let us not forget that climatology is directly related to meteorology. And meteorology produces an incredible amount of data using only a handful of parameters: temperature, pressure, dew point, time, and so on. See, based on this, it should be easy to use dendrochronology to provide millions of data points rather than one Russian tree. And measurement of ice cores, while as different as possible from a tree ring, should nevertheless show similar patterns over the same time scales. So where is this stuff? It may very well be there, and fully published and properly reviewedbut where is the cohesive theory tying this all together. Everything should fit like a perfect puzzle, and we can safely conclude this is not the case.
And what of the future prediction? We all know how tough it is to predict the weather, so perhaps it is not fair to expect the pro-AGW crowd to say the temperature on December 28, 2011, will be exactly 35° C in your area. But two things: (a) that does not preclude a scientist saying that the average CO2 ppm count for North America will be x by June of that year. Remember: AGW theory has been going on since the 1990s, allegedly, so we should be able to develop a test to say, for example, based on carbon dioxide levels in May of 1994, we should have seen it reach level y by April of 2007. And then we go to the 2007 data and look to see if corroborates. In a Theory, a good Theory, it should razor close. In a developing Theory, it may not be close but should reveal how the Theory should be adjusted. (b) Because you cannot easily tell us the temperature years in advance, maybe there is something dynamically and chaotically wrong with your model. And this is what we see: meteorologists use a variety of models to predict the weather days in advance, and they do not agree. That indeed is the exact problem with AGW Theory: the models are often contradictory, rather than independently supportive. For example, you already know that temperatures have been cooling a bit lately. AGW Theory should have been able to foresee that, account for it immediately and plug it right in as further evidence. That has not happened.
But Czar, they will say, we have good data that is resulting in good predictions. But a cardinal rule of Theory development could be summarized as It is all too easy to solve a complex problem when you already know the answer. If you know your data points, you can develop no shortage of forumas that will get you from one to the next. But each time new data is introduced, you have to create a new formula to bridge you over. And indeed, this exactly explains the Hadley CRU software models: a weird pastiche of different methods to synthesize normalized data. Your Theory, such as it is, is not great. One can give an algebra student the answers to every question in the book, and he can quickly solve the textbook questions using a variety of different means that may be unorthodox but still derive the correct answer. But throw a new question his way, with no cheat, and he fails the class. Trust the Czar on this last point without asking why or how he got the answers to the textbook.
We certainly do not require elegance. Yes, Einstein, like Newton, managed to get their Theories down to a single set of formulas. Darwin was able to define Natural Selection in only one sentence (albeit a lengthier one). Plate Tectonics Theory is also butt simple to define. But Quantum Mechanics takes a lot of work to describe and is not necessarily elegant. But it is symmetrical and internally consistent.
Anthropogenic Global Warming? Well, we get a mish-mash of explanations, pointers to a variety of data sets, internal disputes, and challenges to prove it wrong. And no matter how many times the pro-AGW crowd says you could disprove them if they were actually wrong, you still cannot prove a negative.
Proving the negative is not feasible when there is nothing to prove. Two common examples we see time and again from the pro-AGW folks: you can prove a negative…take a look at Intelligent Design or anti-vax claims. You can prove that Intelligent Design does not happen, and you can provide data that refutes anti-vax claims.
Except that is a false dichotomy.
Intelligent Design makes a claim that can be tested. Anti-vax followers do as well. But people skeptical of AGW do not make a claim that temperatures are falling or are staying the same: they simply want evidence and proof that ties the various claims together. They make no claim that it is impossible. They make no claim that other factors are producing warming. They merely want evidence that the world is positively warming at an accelerated rate due to specific actions caused by humans.
So this means the pro-AGW crowd must prove a positive, and thus far, the evidence has been sketchy at best. And thanks to the Hadley CRU incident, even the bottom has dropped out of that.