Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Correspondence Principal

I have covered a few different aspects of scientific and rhetorical arguments. These principles outline the fundamental way that we weed through grand claims and hollow promises.  We have covered the Idea of falsification, that all theories must have a hypothesis or theoretical data set which would render them false. We covered numerical vs. rhetorical arguments, and the strength of each type of argument. We also covered a basic knowledge of statistics as a means of testing our hypothesis against actual data sets. There is another "logical" test that we apply to new hypothesis, it tests a theory against what we already know and have settled as fact. This principle is called the correspondence principle, and like most of my articles I will apply it to the catastrophic warming theory.

First a bit of history. Niels Bohr, one of the founding fathers of atomic theory began to apply this approach to his development of the atomic model, however he officially publicized the approach in 1920. The reason for the correspondence principle was due to the emerging field of quantum mechanics, and more specifically, general relativity. Physics had started to look at the fundamental structure of our universe, beyond what we could see and directly demonstrate. While these theories were validated experimentally at a later date some of the hypothesis seemed very different and complex from the original and well accepted Newtonian physics.

Essentially the correspondance principle states that any new scientific hypothesis must correspond with the currently accepted theories or drastically improve upon them (explain what previous theories didn't). It's a fairly simple test and essentially allows us an easy way to intuitively test essentially untestable theories (at the time of publication).

For instance lets say someone wanted to claim that frogs are purple not green.  We can look at the wavelength observed from the frog and if it matches what we consider green we can state confidently that the frog is definitely not purple.

So how could I have an issue with the claims of climate change. Many key scientists claim that that warming and CO2 will lead to two disastrous effects, global warming and ocean acidification. Global warming will lead to draughts and storms and various other problems. Ocean acidification supposedly .1 pH loss over the past 200 years could start to consume marine organisms that rely on carbonate shells. The reason I am skeptical of the claims is the correspondance principle. What else do we know that contradicts these two claims?

First we know that CO2 is required for photosynthesis. The stated value for pre-industrial CO2 is 280ppm. Plants see massive production shortfalls below 220ppm and die at levels below 150ppm. But it's not an all or nothing production from plants. If grown at levels between 475 and 600 ppm there is a 40% increase in growth rates and a 20% reduction in water use over current CO2 levels. There is ample evidence that the growth rate benefits continue beyond 600ppm. about 34 million years ago CO2 levels fell below 760ppm, At the same time this occurred glaciers appeared on the planet for the first time, as well as a mass extinction event. More importantly there was a forced evolution from highly efficient C3 plants to the less efficient C4 plants that perform better at lower CO2 levels. If you want evidence of the impact of such a change you need look no further than the current size of land animals on the planet. Comparatively we have much smaller species, smaller species have lower food requirements allowing mammals to survive better with less biomass production. This same principle is one of the ways we know that there is not enough feed stock for a pleiosaur in the famed Loch Ness.

760PPM isnt the highest CO2 concentration the planet has seen either. Concentrations were up to about 3000ppm 150-200 million years ago, and they were about 6000ppm between 400-600 million years ago. In other words during the same period with the highest CO2 concentrations the world has seen, life thrived being larger than it has been since. We have a causal tested link between CO2 and biomass production.

But what about ocean acidification. Recently a group of Norwegian Scientists concluded that there was a 30% increase in ocean acidity since the pre-industrial age.  There are several studies showing concern for our mollusk populations which rely on carbonate ions for their protective shells. Well the truth is much of that is BS. we didn't conceive of acidity until 1909, and we didn't have a reliable means of measuring acidity until 1924 with the development of electrochemical cells (pH meters). There is no real way of reliably knowing what the Actual pH was in the oceans 200 years ago, even 50 years ago the relative accuracy and capabilities of probes were not what they are today.

So if CO2 concentrations have risen about 30% and CO2 forms carbonic acid in a linear relationship, a 30% increase in ocean acidity is reasonable right? Well no the reality is the ocean has a continuously renewed buffer capacity, this means the pH of the ocean will remain relatively stable  even with the introduction of strong acids, which carbonic acid is not. Also both the solubility and dissociation constant of carbonic acid/CO2 is very small.  The 30% acidification claim can only be true if we assume that CO2 is the only source of acid in the oceans, there is no buffer capacity, and no uptake from algae.

But what about the claims of mollusk losses or carbonate consumption. First carbonic acid forms carbonate so every time carbonic acid fully dissociates, a full carbonate ion is produced. Second the creatures that are supposedly the most sensitive to CO2 ACTUALLY EVOLVED 552million years ago, during the period of peak atmospheric CO2.

So lets talk about global warming in the context of CO2. Wont that doom us? well no. See were finding the climate sensitivity to CO2 is substantially smaller than what we have been force fed for the past decade.  coming in somewhere between 1.2 and 3 degrees C. The average of recent climate sensitivity papers (in the past 4 years) comes to about 2 C, so well use this as the example.  Every time we double our CO2 content we get a 2C increase. So with CO2 at 400ppm if we were to double that to 800 ppm we would get a 2 C increase in temperature. Doubling it again to 1600 ppm would again provide that same 2 C increase.  and again to 3200 would give us another 2C returning to our 6000PPM prehistoric levels we would get yet one more 2 C increase. so going to 6000ppm would give us a total temperature rise of about 8C.

Lets assume that we get similar effects for photosynthetic efficiency and water reduction.  As such with that same 4 doublings we would be producing about 384% food production, while only using 37% of the water of current production.  Thats assuming simply planting with the same number of growth cycles and farming distribution as we see today.  Obviously were ignoring the expansion of arable land due to warmer weather and longer growing seasons.

How about the societal impact? Well there was a study conducted recently to determine the effects of cold and heat on energy requirements.  In a comparison between Miami and minneapolis. It was found that there were more energy heating days in colder cities than cooling days in warm cities. Due to the nature of heating vs cooling systems it is much more energy efficient to cool a building by a degree than to heat it. The result, 8 degrees of warming would reduce temperature control energy requirements to 56% of current requirements.

But lets just say that there are going to be negative consequences of global warming and that climate science is correct. Using the same economic projections as the IPCC we can calculate that initiative to curb our emissions cost 50 times more than simply dealing with the consequences.

There have been several studies recently released indicating previously reported ice melting and purported sea level rise vs. temperature were grossly exaggerated in previous publications.  So ultimately, what's the problem? In order to propose a disaster climate science essentially has to ignore decades of research in biology, botany, paleontology, chemistry, physics, geology and economics. This is a violations of the correspondence principle and a fundamental flaw in catastrophic projections.