Thursday, February 11, 2016

How Presidential Candidates Get Science Wrong

Popular Science has distributed by email its analysis about "How Presidential Candidates Get Science Wrong."

This notice is kind of like "the pot calling the kettle black."  Without going into the all the details about how Popular Science has contributed to the discrediting of science through its frequently exaggerated expectations about potential impact of preliminary science discoveries, we focus on one claim in this latest "exclusive."

[Popular] Science says
While both humans and natural phenomena influence climate change, the data suggests that we play a substantial role in warming the planet, says Ben Santer, an atmospheric scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. While we don’t have “the luxury of a time machine” to measure how much the climate varied before humans entered the picture, says Santer, climate models can help tease out how much we’ve affected it since.
Very few scientists would disagree with the claim that "we play a role in warming the planet."  The debate is about what is "substantial."  That is hardly a falsifiable scientific statement.
In a 2013 paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Santer and colleagues looked at satellite data and climate models, and found a human "fingerprint" on global warming: changes in the atmosphere that couldn’t be solely explained by natural influences, such as fluctuations of the sun and volcanic eruptions. In a second paper that same year, they used 20 climate models to look at patterns in each layer of the atmosphere, and likewise found that humans played a role in warming. And in the 2013 IPCC report, hundreds more papers point to human influence too.
What this statement fails to include is that ALL the models have exaggerated expectations of temperature anomalies.  In many cases by a factor of two. 
That hasn’t stopped candidates, such as Jeb Bush, from questioning humans’ role in climate change. “For the people to say the science is decided on this is just really arrogant,” he said at a New Hampshire campaign event in May 2015.
Jeb Bush's statement is accurate.
“In my opinion, it’s arrogant to make ignorant comments about the science without any kind of understanding,” Santer says. “Scientists have been looking at these questions of causation—and trying to figure out the relative contributions—for decades. The best explanation of what we’ve observed has to involve a strong human effect on climate.”
 Again this statement fails to add that climate has always been changing and without human influences.

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