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A Way Forward

By:
Edward A. Reid Jr.
Posted On:
Jul 14, 2020 at 3:00 AM
Category
Climate Change

“There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don't know we don't know”, Donald Rumsfeld.

Merriam-Webster defines science as “the state of knowing: knowledge as distinguished from ignorance or misunderstanding. Merriam-Webster defines supposition as “something that is supposed: hypothesis” and supposed as “alleged, believed, imagined, expected”.

Climate science consists of a combination of knowledge and supposition. Climate alarmism consists of supposition regarding future conditions which are “alleged, believed, imagined or expected”. Climate science requires a way forward, from limited knowledge and substantial supposition to broader knowledge; a way forward from alarmism to thorough, dispassionate research to advance the science.

This process must begin with a clear understanding of what is known (known knowns), followed by applied research into those factors which are currently supposed (known unknowns) and basic research to determine if there are other factors of which we are ignorant (unknown unknowns) which affect the global climate. The objective of the process is to answer four fundamental questions: 1) What has happened?; 2) What is happening now?; 3) Why is it happening?; and, 4) What will happen in the future?

What is known can be summarized as follows: the globe has warmed; sea level has risen; glaciers have melted; atmospheric CO2 concentrations have increased; and, human actions have changed the globe’s albedo.

What is supposed can be summarized as follows: global warming is undesirable; the globe has warmed because of increased atmospheric CO2 concentrations; glaciers have melted because of this warming; sea level has risen because of this warming and glacial melting; increasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations will cause increased warming, glacial melting and sea level rise; increased warming will cause increased frequency and intensity of weather events such as tropical cyclones, tornadoes, droughts and floods; increased warming will ultimately produce a climate catastrophe.

The way forward appears clear – resolve the known unknowns, then search for unknown unknowns in cases where the known knowns do not resolve all the climate questions.

The first issue which must be addressed is accurate global temperature measurement, including resolution of the relationship between atmospheric temperatures as measured from satellites and near-surface temperatures as measured by the US CRN and the Argos buoys. This might require global installation of CRN stations and expanding Argos buoy coverage.

The next issue which must be addressed is accurate global sea level rise measurement, including resolving the discrepancies between satellite measurements and tide gauges and discriminating among natural causes and anthropogenically induced warming.

Resolving these two issues would answer the “What has happened?” and “What is happening?” questions.

The next issues which must be addressed are accurate measurement of climate sensitivity, forcings and feedbacks. Resolving these issues is essential to answering both the “Why is it happening?” and the “What will happen in the future?” questions.

The other issue which must be addressed is verification of a single accurate model of the climate which addresses all of the factors affecting the climate and produces projections which match accurate observations over time.

None of these issues is new. They have been issues since global warming became a concern. They remain unresolved; and, they remain fundamental to understanding climate, now and in the future.