Re: Serious (maths) question ...
Hargrove, an excellent observation, and happens to be why I am still a skeptic. I'm also one of those multi-discipline engineer types, and am used to analyzing causes and effects of complex systems.
As I've said to many with similar questions about the chaos they observe and attempt to draw conclusions, is simply to point out what exactly they are trying to conclude to determine the origin of the data to support the subsequent conclusion. Simply put, there is no such thing as chaos in a universe governed by the laws of science. The difficulty is knowing when you've reached the point where you have mapped out all the trends for all the data streams individually, then combine them in an experimental manner to isolate all the variables and their combined effects, and then plot them over time.
Firstly, I'm absolutely positive after reviewing the data from all of the recent reports that there's probably 1/10 of the raw data to even begin to make a rough prediction. It's just not there as there are way too many factors, and historical factors have constantly changed over time, to the point that each cycle has to be mapped and analyzed to the specific inputs, and then added back into the overall mix.
The most important thing to note that most laypeople don't understand well is that the causes and effects are vastly different things. As you put it, each input has a different level of effect based upon the other inputs, and that non-linearity is hard to comprehend beyond a few factors, and requires complicated math to be able to make an accurate determination of root cause for a particular event.
The other thing people have a hard time grasping is the concept and expansiveness of time. People tend to only look to the present and recent history since it's all that's known to them.
We know from the ice cores that Earth despite all the changes to the inputs has had very regular warming and cooling cycles. And, the warming cycles peak quickly and then normalize. Based on the simple ice core trends, we are supposed to be entering a warming cycle, which will eventually stabilize and cool back off over another 125,000 years. And then, based on the sub-cycle variation exhibiting larger swings than what we are currently experiencing, there leaves in my mind around a 1% chance that anything we are doing has any mention-able effect on the climate that's changing.
My view of climate change is that YES, it CHANGES! Get over it.
My biggest fear is doing something drastic that bypasses the earth's ability to dampen the process (and it's inhabitants ability to adapt) based on one of those very reactive inputs because everyone wants to freak out and fix things that aren't broken.