What the critics aren’t saying about ‘Pot Lid’

When someone proposes that an entire science is radically wrong, as I am doing with climate models of greenhouse warming, there are certain basic points that should come up somewhere in the rebuttal.

First, is the claim novel? If so, it generally deserves credit on that score, even if it is wrong. On the other hand, if it has been raised and rebutted previously in the literature, then a citation of some kind is helpful in establishing that point.

Second, does the claim really alter the science significantly if it is true? It is possible to get very excited about an idea, believing it will revolutionize a field, only to later determine that whether it is true or false, it really doesn’t matter that much.

Third, is the claim at least consistent with its assumptions? In other words, while the rebuttal may show it to be untrue (because one or more assumptions were false), the reasoning was sound after that point, and again a certain amount of credit is due for having constructed a consistent argument.

I was really hoping by this point to see more responses referring in some fashion to these themes. That to me is the essence of scientific debate. I would love to get e-mails or comments to this blog saying, “Well, you’re wrong about there being a vertical density shift associated with uptake of water vapor, but if there was such a thing, it would certainly prove your point about water vapor feedback being negative, and the IPCC forecasts would be wrong.”

Another equally exciting response would be, “This was considered back in 1947, and decisively refuted. See the monograph by Professor X.” Since I have invested hundreds of hours searching the literature, I would be both impressed and chagrined if someone did that.

What I am getting so far, however, mostly does not rise to that level, a fact I find quite frustrating. The most common response has been a terse rejoinder that the atmosphere is essentially hydrostatic, so my argument is nonsense. A less common response has been that the models are not really strictly hydrostatic, that the mechanism of local expansion within each layer is adequate to represent whatever density shifts occur.

Both of these responses follow from the critics not really reading the paper or addressing its claims systematically. To take the first response, my complaint is that climate science has taken the hydrostatic approximation to be a law of nature, true even when the Earth is warming, rather than a convenient but risky way to simplify dynamics calculations. I cite example after example where hydrostatic balance has been assumed in advance (such as in gathering and interpreting radiosonde data), thus biasing investigators against even considering alternatives. Telling me yet again that the atmosphere ‘really is’ hydrostatic simply begs the question.

As for the second point, I have already dealt in detail with the very limited sort of expansion within layers that GCM’s allow, and shown why it does not give the same result as a calculation done without any hydrostatic constraint. Let’s argue about whether my non-hydrostatic calculation is relevant and borne out by reality, not whether it agrees with what the GCM’s do. I already know it doesn’t agree with the GCM’s.

I list eight propositions at the start, numbered for easy reference. It would be great if someone went through those and listed which they regarded as true or false, and why.

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