Global Warming for the Rational: Tutorial 1

Right before New Year 2018, I commented on my Facebook Page on the lack of comments regarding the extreme cold raging in Canada and in the north of the US. We are talking about actual record-breaking low temperatures. I meant then that I would like one or more of the real “climate scientists” Warmists are forever referring to to come on and interpret, like this: These low temperatures don’t mean anything about the certainty of global warming because…. I am still waiting; I will be waiting. And if you know of an authorized comment that has escaped my attention, please, link below. (Tu tambíen, Cesar).

One of my FB friends who lives in S. America, Cesar, reproached me (in Spanish) on my FB and called me “ignorant” for calling “ignorant” those who believe in global warming. Aside from the fact that I had not called them ignorant in that posting, this is a good opportunity to explain what I would mean if I had called them ignorant. They don’t know or understand the simple principles of scientific demonstration below, not even in its starting point.

Note to Cesar: I apologize, that I am not going to do this in Spanish. My readers are mostly proudly monolingual English speakers. I am speaking to you, all the same. I know you can read this.

To make others believe that something changes something else, you need to begin with three things: a baseline with a specific date attached, a metric, and an actual final measurement. If you don’t have all three, there is nothing to explain and you are just spouting superstitious belief.

The baseline is a measurement at the moment when you period of observation begins. To affirm that something changes something else, you have to be able to observe an actual change in the second thing. I mean like this: It’s bigger than it was; it’s smaller than it was; it’s redder than it was, etc. (Note the past tense.) So, you have to know what the thing that supposedly changed was like before it changed. You have to say in advance when your observation begins. You may not switch baseline dates around to suit the findings you wish for. If you do it anyway, you should state it and explain why. Myself, I am open minded about baseline date choices, except when I think a baseline has been chosen to exclude information (“data”) that is both relevant and available. (See the “Hockey Stick” scandal. It’s about climate change cheating.)

Second, you need a metric, a unit of measurement. If I state that I lost weight over the holiday, you should ask: How do you know? If I am a serious, not a foufou-head, I will reply: So many pounds (or ounces, or kilograms, etc….) The pound is a metric, miles per hour is another metric, degrees Fahrenheit and degrees Celsius are both metrics, inches of sea level height (and therefore rise) could be a metric. The metric you choose has to make sense. If I answer the query above regarding my weight loss like this: “Ten points,” it’s wrong because it does not make sense, no matter how smart you are.

Third, you need an actual measurement of change expressed in terms of the metric you have chosen. This is a subtle point because how it’s dealt with often makes the difference between being soundly correct and being apparently correct and ridiculous, both. Suppose I devise a slimming diet based on Belgian chocolates and Cognac. At the beginning of January, I announce that I lost weight on that exquisite diet. I tell you that I lost a full 3/1000 of an ounce, (or one gram, or something equally tiny) in one month. What’s more, I show you that ten of my friends had similar results. Should you believe then that chocolate and Cognac cause weight loss?

The answer is probably not. Yet, if I could continue to obtain the same change for five years in a row, for 365 days x5, for example you might correctly start being interested. The accumulation of tiny changes can add up to big change. This accumulation has to be shown. It can’t be just assumed that it will take place. There are several reasons why minuscule change is not change. You can think of those reason by yourselves by making up other ridiculous examples.

Once you have all three ingredients, you are in a position to assert that something happened. It’ a good start toward demonstrating that something specific made that something happened. It’s a necessary step. You cannot show that X changes Y if you have no evidence of change in Y. It’s not a sufficient step, not even close to one. That’s it.

If you don’t have all three ingredients, don’t bother to continue because there is nothing to explain. In that case your something of choice caused nothing and it’s unimportant until you show otherwise. You get as many tries as you wish. In the meantime, the something that caused something else remains unimportant except from a religious standpoint if you wish, of course.

Many bad observations are still bad observations. If nothing changes on one hundred somethings, you still have nothing to explain.

CO2 emissions from human activity may cause temperatures to rise globally. Let’ s see. Let’s see someone do it properly, beginning with the easy stuff described above.

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About Jacques Delacroix

I write short stories, current events comments, and sociopolitical essays, mostly in English, some in French. There are other people with the same first name and same last name on the Internet. I am the one who put up on Amazon in 2014: "I Used to Be French: an Immature Autobiography" and also: "Les pumas de grande-banlieue." To my knowledge, I am the only Jacques Delacroix with American and English scholarly publications. In a previous life, I was a teacher and a scholar in Organizational Theory and in the Sociology of Economic Development. (Go ahead, Google me!) I live in the People’s Green Socialist Republic of Santa Cruz, California.
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