Roy Spencer advances a paradigm-shattering theory on global warming:
[I]f I had to wager, I would bet on a small change in cloudiness to explain at least part of our current warmth.Spencer offers this as an alternative to theories of warming based on human or solar activity. Which is kind of odd, since one would expect both mechanisms to have some sort of effect on cloud formation (contrails spring to mind, just for starters).
[I]t has been calculated that about a one-percent increase in low clouds could offset the warming from a doubling of the carbon-dioxide concentration.Logicians call this petitio principii, but I call it being a yammering fuckhead.
Of course, it works the other way, too. A decrease in low clouds with warming would enhance the warming.
But when I mention this possibility to other climate researchers, the response is usually, “what would cause such a change in clouds?” You see, in climate research, if we can’t think of a causative mechanism, then it obviously doesn’t exist. And if we can’t measure cloud variations accurately enough to know if there has been a 0.5-percent change in the last 30 years, then we’ll just assume it hasn’t happened.
They call this science, but I call it faith.
If Spencer wants to argue that a certain amount of warming is due to changes in cloud formation, it seems reasonable to ask what caused those changes. Spencer's hope, I'm guessing, is that it'd turn out to be a matter of natural variation (or God's loving grace, if he prefers to draw on his soul-deep understanding of intelligent design).
Clouds being "a vapor that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away," I'm not sure how one would go about testing Spencer's hypothesis. I suppose we could consult anecdotal evidence (John Ruskin's The Storm-Cloud of the Nineteenth Century, for instance). But I think most scientists would want to see something a little more...well, scientific. In the meantime, it requires a lot more faith to take an "0.5-percent change in the last 30 years" as revealed truth than it does to reject it as sheer speculation.
Regardless, Spencer scolds his colleagues for failing to come up with a "causative mechanism" for his own unproven - and possibly unprovable - hypothesis, and then sneers at them for abandoning science.
I wonder how many of them duck into stairwells, or pretend to be talking on cellphones, when they see him coming....
Illustration: "Cloud study (after Alexander Cozens' 'Engravings of Skies')" by John Constable.)