April 30, 2011

The Great Hypotheses Scam

Wherein: Climate models which are nothing more than hypothesis are used to generate studies of future events, which are unmeasurable and unverifiable. Also known as CYBER WAG (Computer generated Wild Ass Guesses)

 As painful at it is, it must be recognized that The Great Hypotheses Scam has infected every aspect of our society and nowhere is this more painful and evident than in our government institutions. Here is a press release about a report issued by the Interior Department's Bureau of Reclamation
Interior Releases Report Highlighting Impacts of Climate Change to Western Water Resources
The report is not about any current impact from climate change but are projections of future impacts as this excerpt points out:

The report, which responds to requirements under the SECURE Water Act of 2009, shows several increased risks to western United States water resources during the 21st century. Specific projections include:
  • a temperature increase of 5-7 degrees Fahrenheit; 
  • a precipitation increase over the northwestern and north-central portions of the western United States and a decrease over the southwestern and south-central areas; 
  • a decrease for almost all of the April 1st snowpack, a standard benchmark measurement used to project river basin runoff; and 
  • an 8 to 20 percent decrease in average annual stream flow in several river basins, including the Colorado, the Rio Grande, and the San Joaquin. 
The report notes that projected changes in temperature and precipitation are likely to impact the timing and quantity of stream flows in all western basins, which could impact water available to farms and cities, hydropower generation, fish and wildlife, and other uses such as recreation.

Policy makers are making decisions based on this report which as the report itself clearly states is primarily the result of modelling hypotheses not actual measurable science:
To develop the report, Reclamation used original research and a literature synthesis of existing peer-reviewed studies. Projections of future temperature and precipitation are based on multiple climate models and various projections of future greenhouse gas emissions, technological advancements, and global population estimates. Reclamation will develop future reports to Congress under the authorities of the SECURE Water Act that will build upon the level of information currently available and the rapidly developing science to address how changes in supply and demands will impact water management.
From the actual report we have even greater detail of the modelling they used to determine their projections:
The analysis involves developing hydrologic projections associated with World Climate Research Programme Coupled Model Intercomparison Project3 (WCRP CMIP3) climate projections that have been bias-corrected and spatially downscaled and served at the following Web site: In total, 112 hydrologic projections were developed, relying on watershed applications of the Variable Infiltration Capacity (VIC) macroscale hydrology model (described below). From these time-series climate and hydrologic projections (or hydroclimate projections), changes in hydroclimate variables were computed for three future decades: 2020s (water years 2020–2029), 2050s (water years 2050–2059) and 2070 (water years 2070–2079) from the reference 1990s’ decade (water years 1990–1999). The reference 1990s are from the ensemble of simulated historical hydroclimates, not from the observed 1990s.
So as pointed out the report issued and submitted to congress is based on climate modelling, a hypotheses, not evidence, but note the last sentence of this paragraph "The reference 1990s are from the ensemble of simulated historical hydroclimates, not from the observed 1990s." So pervasive is the reliance on modelling in the climate science arena that even when there exists actual, verifiable, measured data to work with, they choose "simulated historical hydroclimates" Consider that little tidbit of information when you read in the report:

In the context of assessing future hydrologic impacts using these BCSD hydrologic projections, the findings from the assessment are: 
Precipitation is expected to increase from the 1990s’ level during the 2020s and 2050s but to decline nominally during the 2070s (though the early to middle 21st century, increases could be artifacts of the BCSD climate projections development leading to slightly wetter projections). 

Temperature shows a persistent increasing trend from the 1990s’ level. 

April 1st snow water equivalent (SWE) shows a persistent decreasing trend from the 1990s’ level 
Annual runoff shows some increase for the 2020s’ decade from the 1990s’ level but shows decline moving forward to the 2050s’ and 2070s’ decade from the 1990s’ reference, suggesting that, although precipitation changes are projected to remain positive through the 2050s, temperature changes begin to offset these precipitation increases leading to net loss in the water balance through increased evapotranspiration losses. 

Winter season (December–March) runoff shows an increasing trend. 
Spring–summer season (April–July) runoff shows a decreasing trend.
Now all of this upon which important decisions are to be made are nothing more than computer generated projections but in addition, the past which they are comparing it to "the 1990's" is not the actual historical 1990's but rather a simulated historical hydroclimate .

Not only is the future being divined by computer modelling but so too is the past. 

And how confident are they of all this projecting? How much weight should we give this important report? Well they tell us:
Lack of calibration of the hydrologic models is a real issue that needs to be addressed and should be addressed before these models are used in future assessments. Reclamation will (a) refine the VIC application and/or (b) introduce more appropriate hydrologic models. However, before implementing west-wide calibration efforts, it also is important to assess the fitness of the chosen model structure for some geographic situations, particularly basins where ground water interactions with surface water may be an important process and not well simulated in VIC.
How much should we rely on this report? Not much.

In fact after all the verbiage, colorful graphs and charts near the end of the report there is an entire section filled with caveats and warning to not really take this report too seriously. Why ? Because as they admit models really are not that good. An example:
6.1.2 Global Climate Simulation 
While the activity presented in this report considers climate projections produced by state-of-the-art coupled ocean-atmosphere climate models and even though these models have shown an ability to simulate the influence of increasing GHG emissions on global climate (IPCC 2007), there are still uncertainties about the scientific understanding of physical processes that affect climate; how to represent such processes in climate models (e.g., atmospheric circulation, clouds, ocean circulation, deep ocean heat update, ice sheet dynamics, sea level, land cover effects from water cycle, vegetative other biological changes); and how to do so in a mathematically efficiently manner given computational limitations
Got that? Not only is there "scientific uncertainties", so much for settled science , there really is no way to represent climate "in a mathematically efficiently manner given computational limitations".
In other words they really still do not have the capacity to understand the physical complexity of the Earth's climate less alone the ability to model it.

Reading the Interior Department's press release or the many news articles (example) about this report you would have absolutely no understanding of how primitive, caveat laden, indeed totally speculative this "scientific" report truly is. Despite all this hedging, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Michael L. Connor is very definitive.  "The status quo is going to change .We need to take action now to plan for those changes that are occurring."

And so the Great Hypothesis Scam continues to be perpetrated upon society.

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