The radio was on in the bathroom as I got ready for work this afternoon. It was Ira Flatow and Science Friday on NPR. I’m a regular listener. I’ve even written to Ira asking if I might fill-in when he’s on vacation–a request never answered.
But I digress.
As I listened this afternoon I steamed. The topic was “Weathercasters and Climate Change.” The panel was Ira and three proponents of the theory that links humans to global warming. There were no on-camera/on-mic meteorologists. No skeptics! Only adherents.
This was the equivalent of inviting Hitler, Mussolini and Tojo to debate whether Churchill was a statesman!
Hello? Where’s the balance?
If you’ve read this blog any length of time you know I’m one of those meteorologists today’s panelists were scorning. That might be a surprise because my political leanings, how I feel about our environment and my thoughts on our dependence on foreign sources of fossil fuel are decidedly liberal and environmentally oriented. I don’t fit the anti-global warming mold.
Among my non-meteorologist friends I’m the outlier. Most of my forecaster friends, who run the political spectrum from right-to-left, agree with me.
“How can you feel that way?” is a question I’ve been asked more than once. It’s always asked with disdain by a person who has the Earth’s best interests at heart.
It begins with my inherent mistrust of any long range computer modeling. I use models all the time and always with some trepidation. Without computer modeling forecasts would be back where forecasts were in the fifties! Weather prediction is much more accurate now and having computers do much of the heavy lifting is one reason why.
As computer models crunch the numbers they use their earlier forecasts as a basis for later ones. Over time it’s a forecast of a forecast of a forecast. Errors thrown in early in the process, even small errors, multiply through time.
There are surely errors also introduced early on in global climate modeling. The atmosphere is incredibly complex. The models must take shortcuts. That’s not a dig. The numbers are just too large without taking some assumptions.
For instance, let’s say it warms up a little. Now more moisture is evaporated into the atmosphere where it can trap additional heat. The additional moisture also leads to additional clouds. The clouds have a high albedo and reflect some incoming solar radiation back into space which off course leads to cooling.
How much warming? How much cooling? No one knows for certain. Maybe the forecasts are mostly right, but as I said small errors multiple over time.
I can’t trust my models more than a few days out and the ones I use manipulate a more dense grid of observations with shorter time steps! I certainly don’t trust the global models that run over periods of years.
There’s one more little problem that makes me instantly suspicious the whole global warming tumult has become too politicized. Advocates of human induced global warming theories only talk about potential negative impacts. For every inch of a Pacific Island destroyed by rising water how many people living in more temperate climates will survive longer because they’re no longer subjected to the brutality of extreme winter? I’ve never heard that discussed. In real science we should hear everything good and bad.
The global warming advocates say the science is done. I’m not so sure.
Socially it would be easier for me to buy into the conventional wisdom that we humans are destroying our planet. I just can’t. Science says when I have doubts I must raise questions.