Print 104 comment(s) - last by ekv.. on Jan 28 at 4:00 AM

Is Antarctica warming or cooling? Either way it proves global warming, according to climate modelers.

In the 1990s, predictions of a greenhouse-warmed Antarctic abounded. As time passed, though, problems surfaced. Research paper after paper indicated that, other than the tiny Antarctica peninsula, the continent was in fact cooling -- and had been doing so for many decades.

Skeptics pointed to this as a flaw in global warming theory. Not so fast, cried the climate modelers. They quickly spun a number of possible explanations, including ozone holes, ocean currents, and terrain that cut off Antarctica from the world's warming. As the certainty in the cooling trend grew, so did their statements, until they eventually began stating that they had predicted a cooling trend all along.

As the folks at RealClimate put it, "Doesn't this contradict [global warming]? Not at all, because a cold Antarctica is just what calculations predict… and have predicted for the past quarter century."

Cooling was thus cast as proof of global warming, not refutation. The media dutifully shifted their cameras from penguins to polar bears. The world was safe for Kyoto again.

But now a new paper has appeared, saying that Antarctica is warming after all. Written by Eric Steig and Drew Shindell, the paper purports to prove that past evidence of cooling was incorrect. But doesn't that contradict the models? Not if one can again rewrite history.

Speaking at a news conference today, Steig says, "We now see warming is taking place [in] accord with what models predict as a response to greenhouse gases."

In 2004, Shindell had something very different to say. That year he authored a paper that stated, "Surface temperatures [had] decreased significantly over most of Antarctica," Shindell added, "This cooling is consistent with circulation changes". He dedicated the rest of the paper to demonstrating that climate modeling "reproduces the vertical structure and seasonality of observed [cooling] trends."

Today, Shindell says, "It’s extremely difficult to think of any physical way that you could have increasing greenhouse gases not lead to warming at the Antarctic continent.". One can only wonder if he kept a straight face.

Even the New York Times is playing along, saying that cooling "ran counter to the forecasts of computer climate models". Memories are short.

The real story here isn't Antarctica. It's the willingness to rationalize model results to fit any and all scenarios. To the modelers, their results are consistent with. . . well, everything. Whether warmer or colder, flood or drought, more storms or less -- it's all proof that global warming is real and happening now.

This, of course, isn't real science. A true theory require something called falsifiability -- a set of conditions under which it can be disproven. So far, this is something the modelers have failed to give. It allows them to maintain a facade of unflappable certainty-- but it isn't science.

Among researchers who work with actual climate data, skepticism is climbing. The modelers at least remain faithful. But as of now, their predictions are rather like the gypsy fortune teller who tells you, "You will live a long life -- unless you die young."

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

RE: Enough is enough
By AnnihilatorX on 1/24/2009 4:46:15 PM , Rating: 1
I disagree with you guys.

The problem is climate system is too complex and frankly no one has a clue, because there is no reliable theory and all models are based on theories.

You can't really blame the scientists however. If there are physical evidences that violates a theory, good scientists will try to account for and modify the theory in an attempt to improve upon the theory to be better and more reliable; They may succeed or may fail in the process. Only when something is no longer able to be accounted for in any way, or a better theory emerges; you then disapprove your theory.

This has always been how science progressed, from particle-wave duality, special relativity, to gravity. You can't say this is bad science.

RE: Enough is enough
By BBeltrami on 1/26/2009 11:41:48 AM , Rating: 3
I don't hear anyone denying scientists their curiosity. But discarding the Scientific Method to satisfy the argument you approve of is clearly not science.

The over-arching problem TODAY is not the scientisits. When I have BP, Chevron, Subaru lecturing me with multi-million dollar ad campaigns about how green they are and how I'm not doing my part to save the future; when legislators send out press releases declaring that "something MUST be done about emmissions within 4 years or it will be too late"; when our education system teaches GW Theory as scientific fact, a bigger picture emerges. If you agree with it, the picture is rosy. If you don't, you're called names.

That's progress.

"So, I think the same thing of the music industry. They can't say that they're losing money, you know what I'm saying. They just probably don't have the same surplus that they had." -- Wu-Tang Clan founder RZA

Copyright 2014 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki