I received my first ever copy of Cosmos magazine today(September issue). The 112 page glossy has some good stories including a piece titled ‘Pulsar a stellar double act’ (pg 23) that explains how scientists at the Univeristy of British Columbia,Vancouver, are still trying to disprove Einsteins’s General Theory of Relativity.
Why is it OK to keep challenging Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, but not some of our less predictive theories like ‘anthropogenic global warming'(AGW)?
This all reminded me of the ‘two laws’ I wrote down on a scrap of paper years ago and posted here:
Harris’s First Law:
Belief in the truth of a theory is inversely proportional to the precision of the science.
Harris’s Second Law:
The creativity of a scientist is directly proportional to how much he knows, and inversely proportional to how much he believes.
Jennifer – People challenge scientific theories all the time and this makes science healthy. However the enormous difference here is that these people challenging Relativity are scientists using science in the scientific community.
Einstien’s work was peer reviewed and survived. If relativity cannot survive checking then it is incomplete however its replacement will then be a more complete view of the universe as was relativity when it supplemented Newtons Laws.
Uninformed and unchecked attacks on AGW by people, some of whom have financial interests in suppressing the idea of AGW, are treated with the contempt they deserve.
(Hope that was better)
Don’t miss Bob Carter’s rant in the Sydney Morning Herald today, where he is decribed as an ‘experienced environmental scientist’.
Media tart, as bad a Flannery, just doesn’t have the ticker to write a whole book.
There is of course nothing at all wrong with scientists attempting to disprove AGW theories. This is perfectly healthy, and if a scientist wishes to devote their time to it, then we can only hope that the research will add to humanity’s store of knowledge.
What I would argue, however, is that at this point in history, with the great bulk of scientific opinion on the side of AGW, we should be shaping public policy based on this view, rather than holding on to potentially destructive policy position on the basis that there are still pockets of dispute in the scientific community. Surely this is simple common sense!
Jennifer – I agree with Ender. So called “climate sceptics” who critique science through peer review improve the rigour and quality of science conducted. However, most of the anti-AGW material I read is not peer reviewed science at all. The bulk of it seems to be propagated by those with little or no expertise in the field and retired experts who appear to bypass the usual peer review process. In extreme cases in the US, science fiction writers have been invited to address Senate commmittees to “debunk” climate science http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=188. Such criticism can not be considered scientific and in no way can be compared with physicists challenging Einstien’s theories in a scientific forum.
Two Hundred Years of Air Temperature Measurements from Northern Ireland
Butler, C.J., Garcia Suarez, A.M., Coughlin, D.S. and Morrell, C. 2005. Air temperatures at Armagh Observatory, Northern Ireland, from 1796-2002. International Journal of Climatology 25: 1055-1079.
What was done
The instrumental or thermometer temperature record typically extends back in time no more than a century for most locations on earth, and few are the stations with temperature records extending over two hundred years. In the present study, however, Butler et al. standardized three temperature series from Armagh Observatory in Northern Ireland to obtain a nearly continuous record of temperature at this location since 1796.
What was learned
In this longest temperature series for all of Ireland, the authors detected significant year-to-year fluctuations and decadal-scale variability. On a shorter time scale, wavelet analysis revealed a 7.8-yr cycle that was particularly strong in the winter and spring, which they believe is related to the North Atlantic Oscillation. On longer time scales, multi-decadal oscillations are noted in the many-year warm and cold periods scattered throughout the record, including a relatively cool interval prior to 1820 followed by a warmer period that peaked about 1830 and lasted until nearly 1870. Thereafter, a second cool interval ensued, followed by another warm peak between 1940 and 1960, while yet another cool period held sway from 1960 to 1980. The record then ends with a final warm period over its last decade; but this period is not in any way extraordinary, as the authors say that “in spite of the current warmer conditions, annual mean temperatures still remain within the range seen in the previous two centuries.”
What it means
In contrast to the highly publicized climate-alarmist claim that the past two decades have experienced unprecedented warmth due to CO2-induced global warming, the Armagh record indicates that “we are not yet beyond the range of normal variability,” to quote its developers. What is more, Butler et al. note that late 20th-century warmth is typically compared to temperatures characteristic of the beginning of the 20th century, when conditions were noticeably cooler, which comparison, in their words, “exaggerate[s] the subsequent warming in the 20th century.” Their proposed solution is to extend the baseline for comparison further back in time. We agree, for the crux of the climate change debate rests on obtaining a much longer perspective from which to view the late 20th century, in order to appreciate the degree of natural climatic variability inherent in earth’s climate system; and whenever this is done, it is typically concluded that there is nothing unusual or unprecedented about the world’s current level of warmth.
Air temperatures at Armagh Observatory, Northern Ireland, from 1796 to 2002
C. J. Butler *, A. M. García Suárez, A. D. S. Coughlin, C. Morrell
Armagh Observatory, College Hill, Armagh BT61 9DG, Northern Ireland, UK
Three independent mean temperature series for Armagh Observatory, covering the period 1796-2002 have been calibrated and corrected for the time of reading and exposure. Agreement between the three series is good in regions of overlap. With a short gap in the Armagh data from 1825 to 1833 filled by data from two stations in Dublin, the resulting series is the longest for the island of Ireland and one of the longest for any single site in the British Isles.
Over the past 207 years, we note that temperatures in Armagh, in all seasons, show a gradual overall trend upwards. However, there are seasonal differences: summer and spring temperatures have increased by only half as much as those in autumn and winter. This is partly due to the exceptionally cold winters and autumns experienced prior to 1820. Relative to the overall trend, warm periods occurred in Ireland, as in other parts of Europe, in the mid-19th century, in the mid-20th century and at the end of the 20th century. Relatively cool temperatures prevailed in the early 19th century, in the 1880s and in the 1970s. Thus, if the baseline against which current temperatures are compared were moved from the late 19th century to include the earlier warm period, the apparent warming at the end of the late 20th century would be correspondingly reduced.
A gradual decline in the daily temperature range at Armagh since 1844 may have resulted from higher minimum temperatures associated with increased cloudiness.
A 7.8 year periodicity is identified in winter and spring mean temperatures at Armagh, which is probably a consequence of the North Atlantic oscillation. Copyright © 2005 Royal Meteorological Society
rog – so we are to infer a global warming phenomenon from one station?
What you are challenging is the “crisis of science” mentality. To those scientists apparent issues such as climate change present them with yet another opportunity to be “in control” of the discourse and so attack those that legitimately question the “accepted wisdom” of the scientists. I do question the notion that “we” should be shaping public policy – how insufferably noble of them! Perhaps informing people so that the community can make choices is the better thing for the scientists to do and not set themselves up in league with various non-democratic ENGO’s to preach at us and attempt to “dictate” how democratic society should make decisions.
I dont know what you might infer Ender, but I am disturbed by this uninformed pocket of dispute that lies within the Royal Meteorological Society and the contemptible CO2 rabble
PS delete [irony]
geoff marr says
Has any comparison been made with the csiro held ice core samples, which were held in canberra since at least the 1970s? I had the ‘pleasure’ of seeing them for myself as a schoolkid doing my paper-round….one of my school mates’ father was one of the scientists working there, and he invited me in to have a look…..and he explained something to me which I’ve never forgotten…..that in the ice-core samples, they measure air bubbles size and frequency, and the gasses trapped inside. I thought this was all fascinating stuff….(I think at the time I was torn between being a famous scientist and being a famous artist…ahem) Apparently this was having the effect of making the normally steel hard solid ice more of a ‘slurry’ when exposed to sunlight, rather than the harder, slower dissolving and clearer ice of ages past. In fact, even way back then he said he was able to accurately measure the increases in more frequent and larger air bubbles, going back to around the beginning of the industrial revolution, and escalating rapidly, and exponentially, ever since. I’ve seen the ice core samples myself….even as a 14 yr old (I’m now 48) this left a vivid impression on me, one which I’ve never forgotten. I’ve seen nothing anywhere since then to cause me to doubt that he was right, and the climate sceptics wrong.
The facility is called ICELAB and ANSTO did some work on the cores rvealing CO2 changes over the years.
Not sure about the industrial revolution link as it shows a decrease to 1600 then back to the median ~1800 followed by a rapid increase to now.
The industrial revolution was confined to Europe and the US, rest of world remained agrarian.
The first Industrial revolution was around 1750-1830 and the second wave when they started burning coal for steam for power generation.
Another result from studying ice cores;