Information is the Antidote to Congressional Stupid

May 22, 2015

I’ll apologize for posting the numbingly stupid lowlights of a recent congressional show-hearing which featured several of DC’s most abysmally ignorant climate trolls expounding on the joys of carbon pollution.

Many of those unlucky ones who watched complained of pounding migraines, blurred vision, and headvice failures. I wish I’d had Dana Nuccitelli’s review of that proceeding at the time, as an antidote – but I do have it now.

headviseDana Nuccitelli in the Guardian:

Given that the hearing was ostensibly about environmental policy, most of the witnesses were policy experts. John Christy was the lone climate scientist invited to testify. His testimony focused on manufacturing doubt about the accuracy of climate models, climate change impacts, and about individual American projects’ contributions to global warming. On the accuracy of climate models, Christy played rather fast and loose with the facts, saying in his written testimony (emphasis added),

Do we understand how greenhouse gases affect the climate, i.e. the link between emissions and climate effects? A very basic metric for climate studies is the temperature of the bulk atmospheric layer known as the troposphere, roughly from the surface to 50,000 ft altitude. This is the layer that, according to models, should warm significantly as CO2 increases … I was able to access 102 CMIP-5 rcp4.5 (representative concentration pathways) climate model simulations of the atmospheric temperatures for the tropospheric layer and generate bulk temperatures from the models for an apples-to-apples comparison with the observations from satellites and balloons … On average the models warm the global atmosphere at a rate three times that of the real world … As such, they would be of highly questionable value in determining policy that should depend on a very confident understanding of how the climate system works. 

Christy’s oral testimony referred only to the temperatures of the “atmosphere” and “planet.” As shown in the above quote, in his written testimony, Christy twice referenced the troposphere – the lowest layer of the atmosphere from the surface to 50,000 feet (15km) in altitude. However, to argue that climate models have been inaccurate, Christy showed a graph of only mid-troposphere temperatures. The mid-troposphere is the atmospheric layer from about 25,000–50,000 feet, or about 8–15km in altitude. One might reasonably ask why Christy only showed data for such high altitudes. For perspective, the highest point on the Earth’s surface is on Mount Everest at 29,000 feet (8.8km), and the highest elevation city in the world is La Rinconada, Peru at 16,700 feet (5.1km). Humans live in the lower troposphere, not the mid-troposphere. As weather balloon data show, the mid-troposphere is warming significantly more slowly than the lower troposphere, where the increasing greenhouse effect has more of an impact on temperature changes. It’s possible that climate models aren’t quite getting the vertical profile of atmospheric temperature changes quite right. It’s also possible that the measurements themselves aren’t accurate – different scientific groups have significantly different estimates of the rates of warming in the low and mid-troposphere. Some combination of both is undoubtedly true. However, climate models have done a good job matching the observed temperature change at the surface and in the lower troposphere, where humans live. We understand the workings of the Earth’s climate much better than Christy suggests, especially where it matters most to humans. This is a key focus of my book and one of my Denial101x course lectures.

More sweet, healing reasonableness at the link.

6 Responses to “Information is the Antidote to Congressional Stupid”

  1. Andy Lee Robinson Says:

    Isn’t perjury an offence?

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Only if he had been sworn in and taken an oath to tell the truth. If this was just an “informational” hearing with no sworn testimony, the Repugnants can invite lying POS’s like Christy in and he can make up and tell any fairy tales he wants to.

      • Andy Lee Robinson Says:

        Thanks, it’s just a whitewash really.
        They wheel in the pet denier, spend half the hearing listing credentials, nods and mumbles something vaguely believable but misleading, then wheel him out again.
        Then the repugs can say, “there you are, global warming isn’t happening and won’t be bad etc.”…
        Totally disgusting, but a reckoning approaches…

        • dumboldguy Says:

          I for one cannot wait for the “reckoning”. I hope it’s bloody, at least in the figurative sense.

  2. jimbills Says:

    Somewhat related:

    This in a state that is famously in favor of individual freedoms and reducing governmental intervention. I think a requirement to get elected these days is to leave some part of the brain neatly tucked away in a shoebox on a closet shelf.

  3. Brian Dodge Says:

    We should all thank Professor Christy for raising the lower bound on climate sensitivity.

    Maybe I should rename it the Dodge-Christy effect.

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