Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Climatologists vs. physicists

A couple of old-fashioned German physicists take on global warming in a paper available at arXiv. From the summary of Falsification Of The Atmospheric CO2 Greenhouse Effects Within The Frame Of Physics (pdf), by Gerhard Gerlich and Ralf D. Tscheuschner:

The CO2-greenhouse effect, however is a "mirage". The horror visions of a risen sea level, melting pole caps and developing deserts in North America and in Europe are fictitious consequences of fictitious physical mechanisms as they cannot be seen even in the climate model computations.


Evidently, the defenders of the CO2-greenhouse thesis refuse to accept any reproducible calculation as an explanation and have resorted to unreproducible ones. A theoretical physicist must complain about a lack of transparency here, and he also has to complain about the style of the scientific discussion, where advocators of the greenhouse thesis claim that the discussion is closed, and others are discrediting justified arguments as a discussion of "questions of yesterday and the day before yesterday". In exact sciences, in particular in theoretical physics, the discussion is never closed and is to be continued ad infinitum, even if there are proofs of theorems available. Regardless of the specific field of studies a minimal basic rule should be fulfilled in natural science, though, even if the scientific fields are methodically as far apart as physics and meteorology: At least among experts, the results and conclusions should be understandable or reproducible. And it should be strictly distinguished between a theory and a model on the one hand, and between a model and a scenario on the other hand, as clarified in the philosophy of science.

That means that if conclusions out of computer simulations are to be more than simple speculations, then in addition to the examination of the numerical stability and the estimation of the effects of the many vague input parameters, at least the simplifications of the physical original equations should be critically exposed. Not the critics have to estimate the effects of the approximation, but the scientists who do the computer simulation.

"Global warming is good … The net effect of a modest global warming is positive." (Singer). In any case, it is extremely interesting to understand the dynamics and causes of the long-term fluctuations of the climates. However, it was not the purpose of this paper to get into all aspects of the climate variability debate.

The point discussed here was to answer the question, whether the supposed atmospheric effect has a physical basis. This is not the case. In summary, there is no atmospheric greenhouse effect, in particular CO2-greenhouse effect, in theoretical physics and engineering thermodynamics. Thus it is illegitimate to deduce predictions which provide a consulting solution for economics and intergovernmental policy.
Another country heard from. Thanks to Louis D. Nettles, one of Jerry Pournelle's correspondents.

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