Scientific method and climate change

It really does get tedious to read the various defences of the climate change hypothesis wheeled out by scientific illiterates. Take The Age today with its editorial that “The evidence is in: science gets an F”. See why we need a Minister for Science and a paid up CSIRO. The Age is concerned about this:

The rather unedifying sight of the brush-off by advisers to the government of the scientific evidence on the great challenge facing the planet: climate change.

Science, I’m afraid, is not a set of conclusions but a method of investigation. The scientific method is about demonstrating some hypothesis is possibly true by arranging a series of repeatable experiments that will allow you to reach a tentative conclusion along the lines of the evidence is consistent with this hypothesis being valid. It’s a methodology that has gone a long way in the past thousand years to changing just about everything about what we do and how we think.

I am told, for example, that water is made up of two gases, hydrogen and oxygen. It seems completely implausible to me but apparently the evidence is pretty conclusive. It seems that water can be broken down into these two gases if you know how, and can be made to appear if these two gases are brought together in a particular way. Here the science is pretty settled, although we must always keep an open mind.

In regard to climate change, however, the evidence, such as it is, has more in common with economics than making liquids out of gases. In economics we develop theories but there are no repeatable experiments. We use common sense and a review of history to piece together hypotheses about the nature of reality. We then test these by making predictions about what will happen in the future based on our theories. Oddly, and it is an oddity, almost no economist I have ever heard of has changed any opinion based on the fact that some forecast did not turn out as predicted. There are always other circumstances – those other conditions that were not controlled as the world unfolded – that they are able to conjure up that caused the outcome to be different from the prediction. So on we go with our theories near immortal based on nothing other than historic authorities who said something sometime back that happened to catch on.

Thus climate change. Where is the evidence? Every prediction of every model has now been falsified by events. Not one has predicted the way things actually turned out. I don’t expect anyone to change their mind as a result, but I do wish they would shut up about this being about accepting science. There are no repeatable experiments, just forecasts that never actually forecast correctly. More like a pseudo-science if you ask me, like astrology or reading the Tarot.