Why AGW Is Logically Impossible

(original posts here and here)

LAST UPDATE 29 Nov 2010 01:03GMT

From a purely logical point of view, AGW (and especially, catastrophic AGW) can almost certainly be disproved using the argument ad providentiam.

That’s a concept I have mentioned sometimes in the past in some part of the web, not under that name of course. Very briefly, it goes like this: philosophically speaking, an interpretation of the world is fallacious when it implies the existence of divine, or divine-like intervention.

And so for example, AGW is logically fallacious as it has providential undertones. In other words, for (catastrophic) AGW to be upon us right now, something akin to a God or gods (or god-like creatures) has/have to be taking care of us. Because for (catastrophic) AGW to be happening, several amazing coincidences must have recently happened:

  1. Relatively widespread availability of computer power is just enough strong to simulate the right climate projections on a multi-decadal scale
  2. Climate science is developed just beyond the minimal level needed to understand how to simulate the right climate projections on a decadal scale
  3. Novel statistical approaches have been devised just in time, and are correct from the get-go, for Mann’s Hockey Stick to emerge from the jumble of dendro- and other proxy data
  4. Governmental willingness to co-operate together all over the world (after the end of the Cold War) happens just in time for a worldwide problem like AGW to happen
  5. AGW is recognized as an issue just as heavily-populated places such as India and China start getting their living standards on track to reach the Western world’s
  6. Western Governments discover that there’s no money to be made out of making poverty history, just when poverty is discovered to be caused by taxable carbon
  7. Invention of satellites capable of photographing the poles happens just at the moment they start to melt
  8. Data homogenization adjustments are invariably the more negative the older the data
  9. Suddenly, actions previously known to be good are now coincidentally necessary to fight climate change
  10. Climate change materializes as a worldwide emergency to be solved by typically-leftist social order interventions, immediately after the Soviet Union collapses and Communism with it
  11. A great number of scientists of various repute goes ga-ga upon reaching pension age, and speak openly of their skepticism just because they’re too old to understand a thing
  12. AGW mechanisms are such that the vast majority of warming happens in remote, very cold places where there’s a dearth of actual data and people that would notice any change, and where changes are hard to tell anyway as average temps go from hyperfreezing cold to slighly-less-than-hyperfreezing-cold
  13. As the world gets warmer, plenty of Bad Things proliferate whilst plenty of Good Things dwindle in number or occurrence (popular species disappear whilst unpopular ones like jellyfish expand, and so on and so forth)
  14. Just like controlled nuclear fusion, all AGW catastrophes happen to firmly placed decades in the future, often beyond the AGWer’s own lifetime
  15. Recognized scientists that speak against the IPCC dogma are only able to talk trivial, or stupid
  16. Whatever new crisis is said to be in the making (eg the collapse of biodiversity), it will be made worse by AGW
  17. Whatever new crisis is said to be in the making (eg the collapse of biodiversity), it will cause similar Bad Things as those that are consequences of AGW
  18. Islands getting “disappeared” by AGW happen to be the same islands where subsidence and the constant changes in a river’s delta are at play
  19. Ever more sophisticated models for AGW keep confirming what old, less sophisticated models were already showing. At most, the new results are invariably worse than those previously computed
  20. Alone in the realm of physics, the AGW effect acts in the real world exactly as in the laboratory, or with invariably worse consequences, despite the bewildering complexity of Earth’s climate
  21. Despite several lines of evidence in the geological record showing that we are more or less at a relatively high point in global temperatures having come out of an ice age quite recently, all within irregular but similar cycles, present-day warming is of a wholly-different nature
  22. Having been tasked to investigate the science at CRU/UEA in the wake of Climategate, Lord Oxburgh happens to interpret “investigate the science” in a way that excludes any investigation of the science
  23. Having been tasked to investigate CRU/UEA in the wake of Climategate, Sir Muir Russell happens to interpret “investigate” in a way that excludes any investigation that might lead to criminal charges
  24. Scientifically-sound adjustments of past rain data invariably increase old values compared to today’s
  25. Contrary to all reasonable expectations, poor siting has little influence on trends in temperature readings
  26. It is possible to collect all sorts of AGW-related peer-reviewed literature, demonstrating it is behind everything and its opposite
  27. Increase in world temperatures due to human activities happens just as there is a dearth of climate-cooling volcanic activity
  28. AGW disasters, despite belonging to scientific projections and therefore the future, start popping up right now, as if harbingers of what there is to come
  29. When perchance a new paper comes out suggesting things are not really “worse than we thought”, still “the authors warn […] that their research will not reduce projections of future temperature rises
  30. Sea levels threaten the lifestyles of millions and millions around the world, even if of all the islands monitored by NOAA only 2 out of 13 barely manage to show a sea-level rate of increase at the lower end of the IPCC projections.
  31. The CO2 cycle entails the emission and absorption of around 800Gt of CO2, yet it is unbalanced by around 30Gt due to human activities (barely comparable to uncertainties in the figures related to land-based biological activities, one suspects)
  32. Graphic representations of the past, present and future have come to dominate our imaginations exactly as software has been developed capable of “turning facts into spaghetti at the touch of a button
  33. In a stupendously cruel twist, a terrifying number of Bad Things that scientists of the 1970s had been expected to happen by now because of global cooling, are now expected by scientists to happen by 2050 because of global warming
  34. Increases in the world’s average temperature cause all sorts of disruptions to poor people, even if nobody dares to suggest that they would benefit from decreases in the world’s average temperature
  35. Having been around for 542 million years, corals are exactly now threatened by changes in the oceans’ temperatures, salinity and pH, suggesting a more-than-remarkable stability of each one of those for a humongous length of time and in the face of massive extinctions, supervolcanic episodes, asteroid strikes, etc etc
  36. During the past decade, the planetary temperature “has remained constant [indicating] that whatever has been cooling the planet has had to increase in strength at precisely the same rate as the CO2 warming
  37. Novel discounting approaches have been devised just in time, and are correct from the get-go, for Stern’s Review to demonstrate that it is viable to spend billions if not trillions to combat climate change right now
  38. 97% of scientists agree on Anthropogenic Global Warming, a number likely to surpass the figures related to any agreement among evolutionary biologists on how exactly Darwinism works, among physicists on how exactly the Universe works, and among epistemologists on how exactly science works
  39. Having thrown their money left right and center for years, the Koch brother finally manage to manipulate people’s views on a topic, poisoning their minds about AGW with a few million dollars mysteriously more powerful than Gore’s 300M bucks, and the unlimited resources thrown around by Governments the world over to support the concept of catastrophic AGW
  40. Having won an Oscar, a Nobel Prize and innumerable awards, having occupied more or less every audio or video broadcast for years, having had the run of more or less every newspaper for the same length of time, suddenly AGW leaders declare they’re not “great communicators” and blame this for the generally high levels of skepticism
  41. Planet-wide coolng episodes in the historical past have always been local phenomena, or at worst hemispheric.
  42. Local warming episodes in the past, present and future are all and always global phenomena
  43. It’s already possible to identify the climatic change due to 150 years of CO2 emissions, even if no particular climate has much changed during the same period
  44. Having been faithful recorders of temperature variations for hundreds of years, suddenly tree rings start showing the “divergence problem” during the past 50 years
  45. Even if “climate” is a concept valid only on the multi-decadal scale, AGW manifests itself differently according to the year, sometimes with more hurricanes, sometimes with less Arctic sea ice, sometimes with warm summers, and so on and so forth
  46. Every atmospheric phenomenon can be explained by AGW
  47. Scientists all agree that a global cooling trend was undergoing between 1972 and 1975, yet it’s improper to call that a “consensus”, and it’s got nothing to do whatsoever with the present “consensus” on AGW
  48. The AGW consensus has grown during a positive phase of the ENSO index, yet they’ve got nothing to do with each other
  49. It’s not possible to find the remaining $700M that would cancel malaria from the planet, yet it’s realistic to think in a few years hundreds of billions of dollars will exchange hands going from rich to poor countries to lower CO2 emissions and to protect the poor from AGW’s nastier side
  50. In the 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, 1950s and 1970s The New York Times published articles about melting polar ice scares. This time, however, AGW is involved so it must be true
  51. AGW skepticism can be explained by invoking several psychological processes not far from mental illness. AGW belief is instead the only possible choice for an open and honest mind
  52. Higher-than-average temperatures, easily and obviously explained by referring to weather patterns, are instead the fault of AGW
  53. AGW is a grave threat to humanity, yet it can take the backseat when AGWers have to score their petty points (such as not sharing their data with the “wrong” people) or need to grab all the money they can (such as when journals hide important public policy articles behind paywalls)
  54. Sea-level rates of increase are skyrocketing, yet it is a good investment to buy ocean-view villas
  55. Flooded Roman-times fishtanks are evidence of AGW, whilst dry Roman-times ports are evidence of plate tectonics or local phenomena
  56. Large undersea volcanic eruptions in bowl-shaped Arctic basin have no consequence whatsoever on sea-ice cover on top of them
  57. Research indicates one in 8 decades of global warming will show no warming at all, and that decade just happens to be the one we live in
  58. Weather features’ power mainly depends on heatand “energy content”, despite plenty of furious tempests and incredibly strong winds in Polar regions
  59. Truisms are false unless they are peer-reviewed. Conversely, peer-reviewed flawed arguments are true.
  60. Peer-reviewed papers mentioned by the wrong outlets such as the SPPI or Cato Institute automatically lose whatever importance they had
  61. Unique among all sciences, climatology develops yet finds no surprise whatsoever, apart from when it’s worse than we thought
  62. After centuries of failed predictions, all of a sudden scientists are capable to correctly depict the (climate) future
  63. Like every generation before them, contemporary climate researchers claim the world’s weather patterns are changing in an unprecedented way. This time, however, AGW is involved, so it is true
  64. Admittedly, natural variability does change the climate, however it can be distinguished from climate change
  65. AGW is a solid scientific theory demanding for immediate action, even if nobody has figured out what if anything could ever falsify it
  66. AGW is such an important topic, newspapers like “The New York Times” suddenly rediscover how to accept supinely whatever Higher Authorities tell them. Likewise for otherwise-skeptic people such as Phil “The Bad Astronomer” Plait.

(yes, as commented at the Italian version of this page, I am only 43 items away from putting a poster at the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany – follow the last link if you don’t know what I am talking about)

Admittedly, each individual item (well, most of them) is not particularly remarkable per-se, and even a selected bunch of them taken together could be explained one way or another, and ultimately, considered as some kind of “lucky chance”. After all, one could argue that Einstein’s relativity is a by-product of Ricci-Curbastro’s tensor calculus, or that tensor calculus appeared just-in-time as it was needed for relativity to be developed. History of science is full of examples like that. It is however of a much taller order to apply that line of reasoning to 30+ separate items.

Furthermore, there are items that defy all possible explanation. Take for example item #3.

Novel statistical approaches have been devised just in time, and are correct from the get-go, for Mann’s Hockey Stick to emerge from the jumble of dendro- and other proxy data

I am referring of course to Michael Mann’s sudden statistical innovations in the field of PCA, all the more miraculous as they appeared literally out of the blue, and quite independently from mainstream statistics (for a discussion on what statisticians think of them, see here).

Yes, some people did manage to invent their own analysis tools. Just think of Newton and calculus. But I very much doubt that Newton’s calculus was seen as a limited tool by fellow mathematicians. And its effects were far-ranging, whilst the only reason Mann’s PCA exist is to allow the Hockey Stick to appear from the data.

The same of course applies to Lord Stern’s discounting rate as per item #37.


All in all, belief in AGW implies belief in a highly-improbable series of lucky discoveries, developments and various other incidents to happen (or not to happen) just at the right time. That is called “Providence” and it is strong evidence for the existence of a Divine Being. But since such “evidence” is a contradiction in terms, then for catastrophic AGW to be happening right now, that’s a logical impossibility.

External References:

  • Geoff Chambers (direct suggestion, 6 and 7, and 32 with “sisterdingo”)
  • Dick K (direct suggestion, 9, 17)
  • Anthony Watts (inspiration, 8)
  • Steven Goddard (inspiration, 8, 12, 21, 30, 48)
  • Alex Cull and hro001 (direct suggestion, 16)
  • Andrew Bolt (inspiration, 24)
  • Jim Meador and John Cook (inspiration, 25)
  • John Brignell (inspiration, 26)
  • Joe Romm (inspiration, 28)
  • 4TimesAYear (direct suggestion, 31)
  • David Whitehouse (synchronicity 😎 , 36)
  • Mario Piperni (inspiration, 38)
  • Ugo Bardi (inspiration, 40)
  • Phil Jones (inspiration, 44 and 53)
  • William Connolley (inspiration, 47)
  • Roger Pielke, Jr (inspiration, 49)
  • Justin Gillis (inspiration, 50 and 55)
  • Nature News (inspiration, 53)
  • Al Gore (inspiration, 54)

Where no topic is left unturned