Thursday, February 12, 2015

John L. Case's Views Spread Like....

It would be indecorous of me to finish that phrase, especially since my grandchildren (hopefully) read my posts.  But I mean what is elided.  It is amazing how someone's claims, bogus as they are, can sweep through the denial cybersphere which interestingly is nearly all very conservative politically.  This union of conservative politics and global warming denial is interesting in itself and will be the subject of another post.

But here we're going to discuss John L. Casey and his, admittedly sophisticated but nevertheless bogus, case for planetary coolingHe is a "former White House space program advisor, consultant to NASA Headquarters, and space shuttle engineer", and self-described "America’s most successful climate change researchers and climate prediction experts".   That last claim, however, is unsupported.   His argument falls apart at once:

So, what is Casey's claim to fame in the realm of climatology?  That the sun exhibits cycles of activity.  No.  Really.  That is Casey's main thesis from his 2008 paper "The existence of relational cycles of solar activity on a multidecadal to centennial scale as significant models of climate change on Earth."  Casey makes the claim that his paper was peer-reviewed but a quick search for the paper title and author on Google Scholar shows that it has never been published anywhere other than his own website.  A quick review of his website shows that this is the only formal paper Casey has written on the subject beyond various "Global Climate Status Reports" available for $8.95.  Looking at the free summaries of his status reports shows that they're largely a continuation of claims made in his 2008 paper.
In other words his claim for being an expert on climatology is manufactured, not to mention pecunious. 

But so far our argument is ad hominem.  What can we say about what he's actually trying to say?  In a nutshell, he's saying that we're in for a long period of global cooling, a new ice age, that solar activity dominates our climate and it is cooling, not warming.  In fact, what he's proposing is quite as devastating to the world as is global warming.  So there's no comfort to be found in his ideas.

It is true that solar activity is declining:
 




But to make his point he has to prove that global temperatures are declining in correlation with the solar activity.  So there are two important parts to his thesis, that solar activity is actually affecting global temperatures, and that global temperatures are declining, and neither of these are supported by evidence. 

First, his research fails to take notice of the considerable research that shows that solar activity has no effect on global temperatures:

 Casey ignored all the research published by 2008 that showed that the current global warming is not due to the sun (e.g. Meehl et al. 2004, Solanki et al. 2004, Usoskin et al. 2005, Scafetta and West 2006, Ammann et al. 2007, Lockwood and Fröhlich 2007, Lean and Rind 2008).  He didn't even acknowledge any of those papers which makes me wonder if he bothered to read of any of those papers.

And his argument that global temperatures are declining in concordance with the decline in solar activity fails:

Unfortunately for his "theory," Casey ignores multiple problems with his analysis.  First, continental China, which he used for temperatures back to 1 BC, does not represent the entire planet anymore than the continental US or central England represents the entire planet.  The only global temperature data set he used started in 1850—meaning that he doesn't have global temperatures before then.  So really, his global analysis covered only the last 150 years of his time period.  Before that his analysis just covered a single country.  That makes me question his 4A point in his Table 2, as it occurred decades before either of the two data sets (HadCRUT3, USA) he used began.

Second, his own Table 2 reveals that there are multiple instances when temperatures bottomed out before solar activity did (e.g. 3, 4B, 6, 7, 8, 13) or that temperatures rose before the solar minimum ended (e.g. the Maunder Minimum (5) and the Wolf Minimum (8)).  That means his supposed cause came after its supposed effect.


His basis for the "correlation" of solar activity and global temperatures is truly one of the many versions of "statistical lying".

[H]is correlation calculation on page 5 is a joke.  He totaled the number of solar minima (N), then counted the number of temperature minima which (approximately) coincided with those minima (R), then calculated the correlation as R/N = 0.93.  However, as I noted above, there are 6 instances where the effect (temperature) was first, which is impossible.  Using N = 13 (removing 4A due to the fact it comes before his data sets began), that means R = 7, which means that R/N would be 0.54, far below his calculated value.  To get a value of 0.93 given N = 14, R must equal 13, so he included most of the instances where his proposed effect came before his proposed cause.  Completely bogus.  If you want to calculate the correlation between two variables, you use linear or nonlinear regression to calculate the correlation between the entirety of both data sets, not just timing of the local minima.


So he has nothing, nothing at all.  But in spite of that nothing, his ideas have swept through the blog-o-sphere like .... through a pig.  Every denial website, blog, and news outlet, has seized on them without any scrutiny at all.  That is the unfortunate power of the deniers, no evidence or scrutiny is required.  It is depressing.  The evidence for global warming builds brick by brick through the struggle of scientific inquiry, while the opposition to it seems to have a greasy slide.