By JOHN GONZALES
Dear Mr. Richard Nebel,
Scientists and lay people have been passionate from the beginning of time (it is natural).
Humans are not Vulcans. Vulcans supposedly have no emotions, but I might add that they are known from time to time to struggle with emotions and logic. Especially Spoc who is…half human. Simple analogy to lend perspective to your concern that people have the passion, which makes you “sad.” I agree it is sad. So let me be as emotionally divested as I can and respond to your letter as objectionably as possible.
Your letter brings perspective to the the global warming issues at hand: the climate models (the weather forecast) and the implications of metadata as applied to the modeling of global warming (computer simulation and modeling) and their reliability. I drew out three valid, objective (and impressive) questions from your letter:
First question: So how far ahead might one “rigorously” predict the climate? Fantastic question and the answer of which, you have already answered…about “5 to 10 days.”
The mathematics (all climate models) of weather prediction from now until the end of time is and will be formulated on the best that science can offer and will always have uncertainty (“butterfly effect”). How “rigorously” they predict the climate will be relative to the science available at the time. (Currently 5 to 10 days)…people used to use bear grease in the not too distant past in an effort to predict the weather.
Second question: How much better are these simulations than the simple global balances that predicted global warming back in the 1970s?
“In 1896 a Swedish scientist (Svante Arrhenius) published a new idea. As humanity burned fossil fuels such as coal, which added carbon dioxide gas to the Earth’s atmosphere, we would raise the planet’s average temperature. This “greenhouse effect” was only one of many speculations about climate change, however, and not the most plausible. Scientists found technical reasons to argue that our emissions could not change the climate. Indeed most thought it was obvious that puny humanity could never affect the vast climate cycles, which were governed by a benign “balance of nature.” In any case major change seemed impossible
except over tens of thousands of years.”
The above paragraph is taken from the following: http://www.aip.org/history/climate/summary.html
“Balance of nature…or “global balances,” as you put it, is also covered in the text of the address: http://www.aip.org/history/climate/impacts.htm
Online source: “The Discovery of Global Warming.”
These links provide the history of the scientific examination (Since 1896) of global warming, and they thoroughly and objectively examine global warming. (Without passionate emotion).
Check it out.
The question you asked is asked regularly asked throughout science and history in different ways. So here’s the same question you posed in the link above: “How much better are these simulations than the simple global balances that predicted global warming back in the 1970s? Go to it for an expansive answer (first link).
To finally answer your question directly: Today’s simulations are much better than the simple global balances predicted in the 70s. In 1974 the first global forecast model was introduced. It was in its infancy. Now it’s an adolescent.
Third question: But how much of that detail is new physics and how much is “chocolate coated manure”? And how do you tell the difference? Ha!
The difference between right and wrong? I do not mean to patronize you in the least but only to give you my objective (as much as possible…lol) answer to a subjective question. The answer, to your imperative question my good sir, is best answered by Yoda. Luke asks Yoda “but how am I to know the good side from the bad?” Yoda replies “You will know….when you’re calm…at peace…passive.” We need to trust our feelings, and the scientific process, and “unlearn what we have learned,” (Yoda), or add to it.
We have learned conflict and confusion within ourselves (and often, this conflict is found in science, too, until a new theory is proved and accepted, such as e=mc2). We have a moral imperative to become aligned with truth (“Objective”) in science as much as possible. Passion for truth (and for Eureka!) is always a good thing. The truth is revealed when we become seekers of the truth…the truth will set you free. Perspective (truth in science) historically vanquishes the falsehoods of previous notions.
Truth is found inside you when you find it. And it evolves truth in science as well. Thank you.