Friday, April 3, 2015

Will Forbes Backtrack?

One of the biggest media stooges for the fossil industry is Forbes Magazine. They are terrible about running articles and editorials denouncing climate science. At first, this might make sense. The fossil fuel industry is a heavy hitter and is able to provide Forbes with lots of financial support. But, on the other hand, there are plenty of industries that stand to lose because of climate change and these are the magazine's customers as well. Does it make sense to provide deceit to support one customer at the expense of others? I suppose if the money is enough, it does. See the Wall Street Journal for another example of this policy.

So, it was with some surprise that I read an article in Forbes laying at least some blame for the California drought on climate change. Is the magazine changing its tune? I bet not. They have had scientifically accurate editorials before. I guess one accurate article in ten counts as providing a balanced viewpoint, in their logic. Still, it is interesting.

I still have some issues with the article in that it hedges on the question, 'is the drought due to manmade climate change?' This is the 'have you stopped beating your wife' question brought out all the time. I say that because I want you to define 'caused' before I give an answer. A question like this is always asked of scientists in order to get an answer that can be manipulated. Let me explain.

Imagine a common courtroom scene and the defense is cross-examining the scientific expert witness. The defense lawyer asks, is there a probability that two people, who are not related, can have exactly the same DNA? Yes, there is a chance. Ah hah! So, there is a chance the DNA evidence is actually from someone else.

What is missing from this answer is how large that probability is. If there is any chance at all that at any time in the history of the universe, two beings, somewhere on all of the planets in all of the galaxies that have ever existed since the beginning of time, or ever will exist before the end of time, could have the same DNA? Yes, there is a chance.

That is how the mind of a scientist works. But, that isn't the same as what the average person thinks. To the average person, when a scientists says there is a chance it means it is a reasonable expectation, not something that has to be expressed in scientific notation.

Is there a chance I can win the Powerball fifteen times in a row? Yes, there is a chance. Really, really small chance, though. And, that's the point.

What is the probability that we would have the drought of today without manmade climate change? My estimates are that the probability is prohibitively low. It is possible there would be a dry-spell from normal climatic patterns, but there is essentially no chance that we would have what we have today without manmade emissions changing things. Reading the scientific literature leads me to conclude that it is not possible to have the situation we have today without manmade emissions. Yes, the California drought is manmade.

We, as scientists, need to start saying it in terms like that. Yes, there are naturally occurring patterns (we know this because the climate scientists have done the hard work to identify them). But, those naturally occurring patterns would not lead to this current situation.

Now, we just need to ask if Forbes has stopped beating its wife.


  1. Constant GardenerApril 3, 2015 at 6:45 PM

    So long as Forbes publishes James Taylor, the execrable lawyer-lobbyist at Heartland, it'll be a rag.

  2. And about a dozen others. We'll have to wait and see. One thing for sure, we know the industry will be lying to us.

  3. Regarding your reference to climate scientists maintaining Realclimate. Goddard Institute for Space Studies director Gavin Schmidt isn't a climate scientist or a scientist. His degrees are in math. Michael Mann is a fraud who was unable to drum up any scientists in support of his recent litigation against Mark Steyn, which will remain in limbo because Mann refuses to produce (non-existent) evidence supporting his accusations of libel. Mann has a PhD in geophysics, not meteorology or atmospheric science or atmospheric physics. overview to get things into perspective has an extensive record of alterations of temperature data by GISS, although it doesn't include the removal of surface stations that historically recorded low temperatures and the retention of stations in warm areas. Alteration of data and replacement of measurements that contradict political goals is ubiquitous and increasing among US climate agencies, and their data is essentially political indoctrination rather than climate science. The most recent and egregious case I'm aware of is NOAA PMEL's substitution of a model showing ocean acidification for 80 years of pH measurements showing a distinct periodicity and a slight increase in pH in a 10-year moving average. PMEL Director christopher Sabine's rationale for ignoring the data is the lack of precision and accuracy inherent in glass electrodes; .01 degree C.

  4. So, you produce a bunch of nonsense that is either not true (Mann is not a fraud) or irrelevant (his degree is geophysics - just what do you think climate science is, anyway?). But, I'm sure you continue to believe Watt (a radio weatherman), Roy Spencer (proven fraud caught falsifying his research on multiple occasions), Willie Soon (paid by the fossil fuel industry to produce 'deliverables'), or anyone associated with the Heartland Institute, Cato Institute or Marshall Institute (all supported by the fossil fuel industry to undermine climate science).

    No, the data has not been falisified and if you did a little research with an open mind you would quickly and easily see that is a true statement.

    By the way, those stations you mention, the data is most definitely adjusted to account for the urban island effect. The result if you remove them all together? Global warming is actually worse. The reason is because the areas most affected by global warming have been the remote areas such as Siberia and the Arctic region. Not a lot of urban island effect going on in those areas.

    Sorry, the science is settled and conclusive. Manmade climate change is real, affecting us right now, and getting worse.

  5. One way of sidestepping the loaded question is to reply droughts etc are enhanced by Global Warming.

  6. I think that is still not enough. We need to come out with a definitive statement that doesn't sound as if we are trying to be non-committal. The fact is, even if today's drought is an aggravated situation of what would have occurred naturally, we still would not have what we have without manmade global warming. We need to stop talking like we are at a scientific conference.