Friday, April 13, 2012

Nostradamus Of Climate

Watts Up With That? points to a new scientific paper that argues that a series of major volcanic eruptions are primary responsible for the Little Ice Age, and that changes in solar activity were at most contributory to it.  (See the conclusion of the paper.)  While perhaps a plausible explanation, there was one sentence out of the paper that immediately started me asking, "So, the world's climate could see the future?"

The PDF [probability density function] peak between 1430 and 1455 AD corresponds with a large eruption in 1452 AD, although the ages of the three largest 5-year bins appear to precede the eruption date.
Wow.  If you were arguing that the increasing cold caused volcanic eruptions, then the sequence here makes sense.  It would be a stretch to argue this; maybe even require some magic, but at least the order would be right.  The climate became colder; a big volcanic eruption happens near the end of this increase in cold.  But the paper is arguing the opposite: that big volcanic eruptions cause the cold.  So how does a "large eruption in 1452 AD" explain the cold that happens almost entirely before 1452?  Does the climate know what's coming, and make adjustments?

Maybe the rest of the paper makes sense, but sentences like this make me think that they are engaged in a faith-based activity, not science.

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