Saturday, October 24, 2009

The committe MP3

I downloaded the MP3 of the committee meeting and listened to it. When I was done listening to the 3ish hours of it I wanted to take a shower.

So (towards the middle of the recording) Roy gets up in front of the committee and speaks of “feedback loops”. Are they positive or negative? Generally, do they compensate for input or do they amplify input? These are truly fundamental questions and worthy of much study. Roy’s use of the term “feedback loops” as opposed to feedback loop suggests that there are multiple feedback processes involved.

Perhaps carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere by a chemical feedback loop. I can envision one. In this loop the amount of carbon dioxide influences the rate of carbon dioxide removal. The more CO2 the faster it is removed so the actual quantities remain the same. I could easily believe that such a process would exist as CO2 fixation is CO2 concentration limited in most environments. If this process existed then CO2 levels would top out and start to decrease. Since my imaginary process is driven by living organisms it should be a relatively rapid response. The rate change should only take a year or so. The problem with my feedback process is in the data. CO2 levels continue to increase at rates roughly tied to the rate of fossil fuel consumption. Bad feedback model.

The above points out a feedback loop of exceeding importance. Ideas are cultured, then exposed to data, and then the ideas are refined or discarded. The nay-saying victim scientist who is shunned and forgotten despite his righteousness is a tragic myth. These poor souls do exist in Hollywood movies, nuthouses and “Intelligent Design” rallies. That we should court them in public policy hearing is absurd.

Roy goes on and on about feedback loops without describing any. Well… that’s not entirely true, he does describe one, kinda…

Roy tries to make a point about clouds. Not that they get in his eyes or coffee but that they are involved in the warming of the earth. Roy suggests that a key positive feedback loop goes like this; “When the earth is warm there are fewer clouds which allow the earth to warm up more (then fewer clouds, then more warming….)”. Roy tries then to put this into perspective by asking “How do they know that warming causes fewer clouds and it wasn’t fewer clouds that cause warming?”. Roy provided a dramatic pause of a couple of prime seconds after this bombshell. He then went on to state how he published a paper on this and the news media did not beat a path to his door. I have also have not yet read his paper perhaps it would be more insightful because it does not appear to be a very earth shattering revelation. In order for one to have a positive feedback loop Roy’s “discovery” would be an essential part of it. How can he state what is an essential truth as a refutation of that system it is an essential truth of? Perhaps he is spinning a logical web? Unfortunately he jumps into semi-paranoid conspiracy warnings rather than develop his science.

Roy comes back to state that feedbacks are only negative but he does not describe any more feedbacks specifically. Then he begins to blame politics for deceptions of the scientific community. “Little Ice age”, “medieval warming period”, “every century a warming period”… all discounted by politically motivated scientists. Good thing Roy is there to set us all straight. “The main culprit or candidate (for nature’s cause of global warming) is the pacific decadal oscillation (PDO)” says Roy. The PDO is a statistical feature of temperatures. It is like saying that the cause is the fact that we have seen something like this before. He then goes on to state that output of the sun and volcanoes and just about any physical cause mechanism is not strong enough to drive climate change like mankind’s input.

He concludes then by stating that apparently global climate change is caused by global climate change. His implication that strong evidence for a part of a feedback loop is evidence that the loop doesn’t exist lies undisturbed. His paranoid ramblings about committees and bribed scientists use up half his testimony; time that could have been used to illuminate his work if it were really important to him.

So what does the committee take home from these scientific testimonies? Well they pickup on the paranoid ramblings about political conspiracies.

“I hope the science can in some way reach a broader consensus before we invest our entire future on a science that may not be conclusive” said Rep. Lorie D. Fowlke who decried the polarization of the science.

In keeping with the emphasis on the political portion of Spencer’s testimony Rep. Roger E. Barrus quotes Vaclav Klaus at length and then states that a coordinated response to carbon emissions will cause “Mass redistribution of wealth that will change our freedom”.

Finally we get a glimpse as to why a committee in Utah reached all across the country to pull Roy out of his hole in Alabama. Rep. Michael E. Noel, House Chair stated “I’m still questioning whether the scientists are totally resolved on this issue”. What makes a consensus to him if 99% of all climate scientists is not good enough? He lays it out in the following quote: “if there is still a question out there like Dr spencer I’m not sure I want to subject my constituents to (a list of bad economic things)”. So as long as someone in willing to say they disagree with mankind’s effect on GCC there is not enough consensus.

But just in case Roy was not enough there is a surprise testimony by Bob Ferguson “debunking” the junk science involved in GCC. How did Ferguson end up in a Utah public utilities committee meeting when his office is in Washington DC (is it related to his BA from BYU?)? He goes on for almost as long as Roy. More paranoid political ramblings from Bob. More unfocused objections (sort of like the “gaps” in the fossil record ID objections) from Bob. Who paid Bob to come out?
I could listen to the MP3 of the meeting again. I cannot decide if it makes me sad or angry or just incredibly bored to listen to this.

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