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Climate change action: “The Science” gives way to “The Physics”

Just as the incoveniently disprovable “global warming” gave way to irrefutable “climate change”, so “The Science” (TSIS) gives way to “The Physics” (TPIS). Climate activist Bill McKibben will demonstrate:

We’re talking about a fight between human beings and physics. And physics is entirely uninterested in human timetables. Physics couldn’t care less if precipitous action raises gas prices, or damages the coal industry in swing states. It could care less whether putting a price on carbon slowed the pace of development in China, or made agribusiness less profitable.

Physics doesn’t understand that rapid action on climate change threatens the most lucrative business on Earth, the fossil fuel industry.

All you hoi polloi** with your so-called degrees in The Chemistry (TCIS), The Biology (TBIS), The Meteorology (TMIS), The Zoology (TZIS), The Geology (TGIS), The Climatology (TCIS), not to mention even those poor old bits of the The Science* (TSIS) that are so uncool that they have to have the word “Sciences” in their names (TPOBOTTS(TSIS)TASUTTHTHTWSITNIS), are just going to have to face facts. The Physics (TPIS) iz da maximum cool. You all want to be us. When times are tough for your cause, who ya gonna call? Who they gonna believe when they don’t believe you? The Physics (TPIS), that’s who.

Only slight problem is the physicists. Not that we have a superiority complex or anything, but we sometimes do get a leetle touchy when inferiors, sorry, less rigorous folk, start stretching our error bars. If I may recommend a strategy to non-physicists wishing to keep us on side, your best bet is continued abject flattery.

*Please note, “the The” is grammatically correct in this special case. I have discovered a marvellous proof but the footnote to this post is too small to contain it.

**And I can so say “you hoi polloi” if I want to. The Greek is not settled when you’re a physicist.

44 comments to Climate change action: “The Science” gives way to “The Physics”

  • Try as it might this non-physicist brain has utterly failed to decipher that 31-character acronym. Perhaps a career in climate science awaits.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Bwahahahaha!

    Further proof that I’m so cool that liquid helium crawls up the wall of my stomach lining and squirts out my ears.

    If you must, look at the words immediately to the left. The last two letters I leave as an exercise for the reader.

  • The Chemistry (TCIS), The Biology (TBIS), The Meteorology (TMIS), The Zoology (TZIS), The Geology (TGIS), The Climatology (TCIS), not to mention even those poor old bits of the The Science (TSIS) that are so uncool that they have to have the word “Sciences” in their names (POBOTTS(TSIS)TASUTTHTHTWSITNIS)

    Or just “The Stamp Collecting” (TSCIS).

  • Ah, got it. (With some help from Michael Jennings). Feeling really, really thick.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Also, you failed to spot my deliberate error. It should have been (and will in an instant be corrected to be) TPOBOTTS(TSIS)TASUTTHTHTWSITNIS

  • Slightly more seriously, “How big are the error bars?” is just about the most important question that can be asked with respect to climate (or any other) models. If the person purporting to have proved something cannot answer that question (or does not understand it) there is no point in continuing the conversation. If he can answer it, this does not necessarily prove that he is right, but one can then move on to discussing his actual model, or at least a discussion of why his error bars are so big.

  • john in cheshire

    Mr McKibben is a joke, right? I mean even his name is risible. Ad Hominens where they are due, is what I say. He and his climate change claque are a very sick joke and don’t deserve the oxygen of publicity. Garotting is too good for them; just ignore the imbeciles.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Give the guy a break, john in cheshire. Anyone so much in awe of physics that he invokes it nine times in one article shows a proper attitude. If he continues to be good I shall give him a biscuit.

  • Regional

    The followers of the AGW cult would have us believe that by general rule in the eye drop business there are 20 drops per 1ml… that’s how we calculate how many ml of X drops to Rx for X amount of days of treatment. By that logic, 1ml = 20 gtts > 1 gtt = 0.05ml and the insertion of an The followers of the AGW cult would have us believe that by general rule in the eye drop business there are 20 drops per 1ml… that’s how we calculate how many ml of X drops to Rx for X amount of days of treatment. By that logic, 1ml = 20 gtts > 1 gtt = 0.05ml and the insertion of an amount of CO2 equivalent to and eye droplet into a litre of air will cause the air to become a thermal blanket not forgetting plants that provide food need CO2 for photosynthesis.
    The heading should be amended to Science gives way to physics

  • Regional

    Whoops that should have been:
    The heading should be amended to Science gives way to psychics

  • RAB

    What he actually did was anthropomorphize Physics Natalie. Pity he didn’t actually quote any in the article to back up his leftie anti capitalist rant in favour of shutting down the planet in order to save it.

  • Proofs that all odd numbers are prime:

    Mathematician: Three is prime, five is prime, seven is prime – the result follows by mathematical induction.
    Physicist: Three is prime, five is prime, seven is prime, nine is within the margin of error.
    Computer Scientist: Three is prime, three is prime, three is prime, three is prime, three is prime…
    Engineer: Three is prime, five is prime, seven is prime, nine is prime, eleven is prime, …..

  • Biologist: What’s a prime?

  • Julie near Chicago

    Restaurateur: …then choice, then select, then standard….

  • Dale Amon

    Funny thing is, most of the Physicists I know think climate modelling is crap science. Not necessarily that there has been no human caused warming, but that what has passed for science so far is garbage science by people who do not know what they are doing and make up for their lack by prevarication.

  • Laird

    Damn! VftS beat me to it!

  • Nick (nice-guy) Gray

    Natalie, is the final (-IS) simply because lots of sciences have them, or does it mean – Is Settled? as in The Science Is Settled (TSIS), etc.

  • the other rob

    As an aside; I, for one, thoroughly enjoyed the Fermat joke, Natalie.

  • All of this is very…US .

  • Slartibartfarst

    @Natalie Solent (Essex): Please have mercy. I could be wrong, of course (I got tired of counting), but that seems to be a 29-letter kind of acronym you have there.
    It is well over the preferred limit of a TLA (Three-Letter Acronym).
    Couldn’t you have made it into a palindrome or something, or a mnemonic maybe, to help us more easily remember it?

    That chap Bill McKibben seems to be an amazing guy.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    View from the Solent,
    Excellent name. Excellent cartoon, but wrong. I keep telling you people, not that we have a superiority complex or anything*, but physics iz da maximum cool. Mathematicians are all right in their way, but have you seen their dress sense?

    *We just are superior.

    The other rob,
    I love you.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Dale Amon,

    Funny thing is, most of the Physicists I know think climate modelling is crap science. Not necessarily that there has been no human caused warming, but that what has passed for science so far is garbage science by people who do not know what they are doing and make up for their lack by prevarication.

    That’s true in my experience too. One of the most “climate sceptical” people I know, someone considerably more vehement in his disbelief of the current consensus than I am, is also the person best qualified in physics and mathematical physics that I know personally.

    On similar lines, I expect you will recall this 2009 post by Michael Jennings, citing his own experiences as a research scientist using models.

  • Clovis Sangrail

    @Natalie Solent

    We just are superior.

    As a mathematician with dress sense, I forgive you for this egregious error. Eventually everything gives way to The Maths (TMIS).

    BTW, what’s wrong with wearing trainers with my black tie? All my colleagues think it’s way cool and much better than a lab coat for formal occasions.

  • Frank S

    The alarmists made it this far because most of the best physicists worked in other fields and gave them the benefit of the doubt. The alarmist scientists were an odd mix of geographers, meteorologists, computer programmers, astronomers, and an astrophysicist or two. The best atmospheric physicist, by a country mile, is Richard Lindzen. He told us decades ago that the effect of doubling CO2 would probably be so small that it would be hard to detect given variation from all the many other influences on climate. So far, his guidance is looking good. We have seen rises of CO2 levels at rates above those the alarmists claimed to be alarmed about, and meanwhile estimates of a global mean temperature have flatlined for the past 15 years or so. The whole sorry business has been a disgraceful one for science, but is no doubt seen as a great success by political agitators.

  • Dishman

    The Physics also doesn’t care what Bill McKibben thinks or says about it.

    “It works on static electricity in the same manner as water vapor in the atmosphere.”

    Italics added by me. Patent Pending.

  • Frank S

    A link for Lindzen ‘decades ago': http://www.fortfreedom.org/s46.htm. Actually from 1989, and still looking pretty good:

    ‘Dire predictions of global warming through the greenhouse effect
    were roundly criticized last week by Professor Richard Lindzen of the
    Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences.
    “I argue that the greenhouse effect does not seem to be as
    significant as suggested.” Professor Lindzen said. He spoke last
    week before an audience of 250 scientists at the Alexander von
    Humboldt Foundation Colloquium at Kresge Auditorium.
    “I personally feel that the likelihood over the next century of
    greenhouse warming reaching magnitudes comparable to natural
    variability seems small,” he said. “And I certainly feel that there
    is time and need for research before making major policy decisions.”‘

  • It is well over the preferred limit of a TLA (Three-Letter Acronym).

    Ah, but TLA is not an acronym, and nor is what Natalie wrote in her post: they are abbreviations. An acronym is a word formed from the abbreviations of others, e.g. Nato, Unicef, RAM, UNESCO, etc. TLA doesn’t qualify, because you say each letter in turn.

  • Simon Jester

    @Natalie Solent: Did you notice the tooltip on the XKCD cartoon?

    @Tim Newman: It’s just about possible to pronounce TLA as “tla”, but a FLEA* is a much better example.

    * – Four Letter Extended Acronym

  • As a physicist (retired) I’m offended. I know how hard it is to model things with a dozen parameters. How dare the climate alarmists insist they’ve modeled the entire atmosphere!

  • Jacob

    Frank S,
    “The alarmist scientists were an odd mix of … computer programmers”

    Please don’t insult computer programmers. (or meteorologists).
    Do you have any source for your ridiculous claim, or some supporting example?
    I’m sure the alarmists employ a lot of computer programmers, as they would not be able to program climate models themselves, but this does not mean that the programmers are alarmist.

  • Frank S

    Jacob, happy to oblige. Try googling John Houghton (meteorologist), Martin Parry (geographer), and Gavin Schmidt (mathematical programmer). Of course you right that if category A contains some Bs, it does not follow that all Bs belong in A, and of course nothing I wrote earlier is in conflict with that.

  • bloke in spain

    Jacob
    Regrettably, this is one of yours:
    http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Connolley
    (Known to throw wobblers if not addressed as ‘Doctor’ or his surname mispelt)

  • Mark Green

    @BIS – an ability to create tenuous regressions in Excel with laughably narrow error bars does not give Mr Connolley the right to call himself a programmer. Us programmers refer to people like that as C.U.N.T.S., or Cunts Utilising No Discernible Science. Amusingly, an excellent example of a metacronym, employing that other invaluable programming skill, recursion.

    Smite away.

  • Mark Green

    Bloody auto-correct.

    Traceable, natch.

  • Jacob

    Ok, Frank S, you’re right. These critters are everywhere!

  • Dom

    Mark, c.u.n.t.s is not recursive, since the word “cunts” does not need to be further defined. A example of recursion is GNU, which means, “gnu is not unix”.

  • Michael Jennings (London)

    “ETLA” is relatively easy to pronounce, though, I think.

  • Doesn’t The Physics say that temperature is a function of pressure? Are there any Actual Physicists who understand how CO2 causes radiative forcing? Serious questions.

  • Sigivald

    What Mr. Amon said.

    We are, indeed, “at the mercy of physics”. The problem is that physics – that word he keeps using – doesn’t mean what he thinks it means.

    Or more accurately, the physics of the atmosphere don’t work the way the models he wants (?) to be true so desperately have them working.

    Modeling climate is really hard, it turns out – and none of the models seem to be predictive, yet. Somehow, however, he keeps trusting them as if they’re “physics”.

  • Laird

    To push your point a little farther, Sigivald, I don’t think the models will ever be predictive. That’s the nature of truly chaotic systems, as I understand it.

  • God bless The Physics (and also the alt text).

  • Saxon

    http://xkcd.com/356/

    this gives more points to mathematicians than physicists.