Here is a quote illustrating the problem. Curry writes:
Freezing is the new warming
RealClearPolitics has an interesting article Freezing is the new warming, that summarizes the current state of the public debate on climate change. Excerpts:
Or try refuting global warming. Temperatures have stopped warming for more than a decade? That’s just a temporary “pause” in the warming that we just know is going to come roaring back any day now. Antarctic ice is growing? That’s actually caused by the melting of ice, don’t you know. A vicious cold snap that sets record low temperatures? That’s just because the North Pole is actually warming. So if the winter is warm, that’s global warming, but if the winter is cold, that’s global warming, too. If sea ice is disappearing, that’s global warming, but if sea ice is increasing, that’s global warming.
Now we can see what they mean when the warmthers say that global warming is supported by an ironclad scientific consensus. The theory is so irrefutable that it’s unfalsifiable!
Which is to say that it has become a cognitive spaghetti bowl full of ad hoc rationalizations, rather than a genuine scientific hypothesis.
This is pure and utter nonsense. Let me just discuss the main point, all the other denier memes are debunked at Skeptical Science. It is very easy to falsify the theory of global warming by greenhouse gasses.
If there would be an unexplained temperature drop of one degree and it would stay there for a decade, the theory is completely dead. If the same thing happens to the ocean heat content, the theory is dead within a year.
RealClearPolitics is right in suggesting that anything that will actually happen is very unlikely to refute the theory. Quite of lot of basic science would need to be wrong. And RealClearPolitics is right in suggesting that it is not sufficient for something to happen what feelies intuitively feel should not happen in a warmer climate. You do need some actual proof that the phenomenon should behave that way. His blog is at least honestly called a political blog.
Judith Curry is very intelligent and has much experience as scientist. She naturally knows that this quote was nonsense, but also that her audience likes it. Thus she non-noncommittally calls it interesting.
My wish for 2014 is that Curry comes back to the scientific community and stops using the word "interesting" so much. The scientific way of trying to understand why there is a difference of understanding is making it clearer what you mean.
[UPDATE: The blog Klimaatverandering just has listed 10 ways to "falsify AGW". Worth reading.]
[UPDATE: This post and the ensuing discussion made me think that a long post on the topic may be useful. I would argue that falsifiable is important and that falsification is overrated.]