Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Environmental Determinism Makes A Comeback

Really, what passes for "science" these days is hysterical. From the BBC:
Climate 'is a major cause' of conflict in Africa

Climate has been a major driver of armed conflict in Africa, research shows - and future warming is likely to increase the number of deaths from war.

US researchers found that across the continent, conflict was about 50% more likely in unusually warm years.

Writing in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), they suggest strife arises when the food supply is scarce in warm conditions.

Climatic factors have been cited as a reason for several recent conflicts.

Problem is this paper does nothing of the sort. The "Supporting Information" material of the report makes this abundantly clear:

We denote civil war in country i in year t as warit. All
country-year observations with a civil war in progress are coded
as 1s, and other observations are coded as 0s. The PRIO data
extend from 1946 to 2006, but because of the limited temporal
availability of some climate data products (discussed below), and
because the political processes underlying conflict were likely
changing rapidly before 1980 as increasing numbers of African
countries gained independence, we focus our analysis on the
1981–2002 period.

Got that? Only 20 years are looked at in this study. Total. Given that no link between (warning: nonsense term) "climate change" could possibly be established over a mere 20 years worth of data, why was this "study" even written? How could it possibly be published? It would be as if I wrote a paper claiming to be based upon Boyle's Law without ever discussing gas under pressure. It's nonsense pure and simple.

This objection doesn't even take into account the confounding variables rife in any such attempt to subject human behavior to environmental determinism, an idea real scientists tossed in the trash generations ago. Think of all the racist nonsense about the industriousness of cool climate "Nordic races" used to perpetuate the myth of white superiority in previous centuries. Now, compare those beliefs with this study focusing on the propensity of Africans to violence based upon their warm climate.

Really, we are comfortable going there nowadays?

But, hey, I've got a competeing theory. My theory says a warming climate will lessen the potential for conflict. Using North America as my test subject, and a more climatically friendly time period of 200 years, I will divide history into two segments; 1801-1900 & 1901-2000.

Using the "Wars of the World" timeline here are the North American conflicts:

1801-1900 (Cool Period)

1. Mexian War of Independence 1810-23
2. US Occupation of West Florida 1810
3. Tecumseh's War 1811
4. War of 1812
5. Creek War 1813-14
6. Fort Mims Massacre 1813
7. Seven Oaks Massacre 1816
8. First Seminole War 1817-18
9. Vesy's Rebellion 1822
10. Yaqui Uprising: Mexico 1825-27
11. UPCA Civil War 1826-29
12. Mexican Conservative Revolt 1827
13. Mexican-Spanish War 1829
14. Turner's Rebellion 1831
15. Black Hawk's War 1832
16. Indian Stream "War" 1835
17. Murrel's Rebellion 1835
18. Second Seminole War 1835-43
19. Texan Independence War 1835-36
20. Papineau's Rebellion 1837
21. Mackenzie's Rebellion 1837
22. Aroostook War 1838-39
23. Buckshot War 1838
24. Pastry War 1838
25. Comanche-Texan Border War 1840
26. Dorr's Rebellion in Rhode Island 1842
27. Texan "Archive War" 1842
28. Bear Flag Revolt in California 1846
29. Mexican-American War 1846-48
30. Yucatan Caste War 1847-55
31. Whitman Massacre 1847
32. Cayuse War 1848-55
33. Walker's Invasion: Mexico 1853-54
34. Third Seminole War 1855-58
35. Rogue River Wars 1855-6
36. Wakarusa War 1855
37. Yakima War 1855-8
38. Pottawatomie Massacre 1856
39. Spirit Lake Massacre 1857
40. Mountain Meadows Massacre 1857
41. Utah War 1857-8
42. Mexican Reformation War 1858-67
43. Brown's Raid on Harpers Ferry 1859
44. Apache and Navaho War 1860-5
45. American Civil War 1861-65
46. Franco-Mexican War 1862-67
47. Sioux War 1862-64
48. Sand Creek Massacre 1864
49. Saint Albans Raid 1864
50. Sioux War 1865-68
51. Fetterman Massacre 1866
52. Fenian Raiders 1866-70
53. Wagon Box Fight 1867
54. Red River Rebellion 1869-70
55. Blood River Massacre in Montana 1870
56. Camp Grant Massacre 1871
57. Apache War 1871-73
58. Red River Indian War 1874-75
59. Kiowa War 1874
60. Yaqui & Mayan Uprising in Mexico 1875-98
61. Apache War 1876-83
62. Mexican Coup 1876
63. Sioux War 1876-77
64. Cheyenne War 1878
65. Victorio's Apache Raiding 1879
66. Apache War 1885-6
67. Northwest Rebellion in Canada 1885
68. Sioux War 1890-91

1901-2000 (Warm Period)

1. Assassination of McKinley 1901
2. Black Patch War 1904-9
3. Mexican Civil War 1911-1914
4. Mexican Revolt 1914-15
5. Poncho Villa's Raids 1916-17
6. Preparedness Day Bombing in America 1916
7. Mexican Civil War 1920
8. Mexican Catholic Revolt 1927-29
9. "Bonus Marchers" Intervention 1932
10. Mexican Conservative Revolt 1936
11. Internment of Japanese-Americans 1942-45
12. Attack on Blair House 1950
13. Black Panthers in America 1966-73
14. Chiapas Rebellion: Mexico 1994
15. EPR Revolt Mexico 1996

Thus, I'll argue that a warming climate has resulted in a 78% reduction in armed conflicts compared to cooler eras.

See how idiotic it is?


Tully said...

You're just not using the right epicycles, Rich. ;-)

The Iconic Midwesterner said...

Yeah, I need the "only works on Africans" epicycles. ;-)

Really, can you believe any of this crap ever got published?

Tully said...

When you consider the HRCU's peculiar definition of (and reverence for) their own version of "peer-review," yeah, I can believe it.

Remember how many copies of Dianetics are in print.

After first being tasked years ago with producing "reality reports" out of IPCC pubs for governmental orgs, I've been shouting this from the rooftops for years, and lo and behold, the HRCU data dump confirms everything I've been saying. Bad data. No data. Massaged data. Bad model construction. Flawed physics assumptions. Over-representation of weakly implied results within the noise-level bands. Stifling of dissent. Overt suppression of contra studies. The complete and utter politicization of IPCC.

Why I took to calling it a religion, because the science parts aren't what you read about in the MSM. Only the apocalysm that feeds the quest for money and power.

The Iconic Midwesterner said...

I wrote this over at Roger Pielke Jr.'s place:

What strikes me the most about the CRU gang in all of this is their political naïveté. They act as if they were quiet academics investigating some obscure point of arcanum of interest to a few, as opposed to scientists attempting to influence trillions of dollars worth of public policy decisions resulting in very close scrutiny both scientific and political.

There is an email in the CRU dump were somebody complains about how they want to ditch all this scrutiny, and all of these pesky people asking for data, and "get on with my own research agenda." My jaw dropped. How could anyone be that clueless? How could anyone believe they could, potentially at least, impact so many important areas of political and economic life and not be put under the microscope? The political reality is going to mean their "life's work" is going to be conducted in a fishbowl, in full view of anyone who wants to examine it. Science shouldn't have a problem with that. Hell, science should THRIVE in such an environment. Instead, for some reason, these folks have opted for secrecy instead of transparency. (Maybe they simply didn't like the level of criticism any work with political/economic implications is liable to generate, but, I'm sorry, that's tough. Its the nature of the beast. Either get used to it, or go do something else.) As a result they have become a cabal, and as a result the science has suffered. Imagine if ten years ago temperature data had been released and people found out the troubles inherent in the collection and homogenization process. Might we not be well on our way to a much better set of data? Wouldn't the state of the science be improving as a result?

Granted, none of this would make the political component of all this go away, but nothing can make the political component go away. To wish otherwise is nothing but an exercise in utopian dreaming. However, the secrecy has bought them nothing but trouble. A) The science has suffered, and brought the entire discipline into ill repute, and B) It has brought the motivations of scientists into question. Are they being driven by a fear of criticism? An ideological agenda? A quest for power and influence? All of those possibilities and more are brought into play by their actions.

My own interpretation of their motivation lies somewhere in-between the benign and the diabolical, but the point is the "benign" interpretation is enough to make this a scientific scandal of the first order, and they STILL don't seem to get that.

The people I feel sorry for are the ones who have been quietly doing their work and had lent their good name to folks like Jones in a misplaced belief he was interested in the science. In the end their reputations are going to be sullied as well.

Tully said...

The people I feel sorry for are the ones who have been quietly doing their work and had lent their good name to folks like Jones in a misplaced belief he was interested in the science. In the end their reputations are going to be sullied as well.

Yep. And the ones who trusted Jones/Trenberth/Mann et al and used their work as a basis for their own are the ones who will take the nastiest hit. Most of them were doing honest work and don't deserve to have to play Flounder to Jones/Trenberth/Mann et al's Otter. But it still invalidates their work as well, even though they're innocent.