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In which Nature Climate validates my predictive models

In order for a predictive model to be useful it needs to be validated in some way. Here are two predictive models that I suggest might be useful in interpreting scientific papers.

  • If the paper is published in a Nature journal it's probably nonsense. Particularly if it's in (a) Nature itself or (b) Nature Climate Change
  • If it calls RCP8.5 "business as usual" it is political drivel.

With these predictions in mind, readers may be interested in this new paper from Nature Climate Change:

Climate change is expected to increase the frequency of some climatic extremes1, 2. These may have drastic impacts on biodiversity3, 4, particularly if meteorological thresholds are crossed, leading to population collapses. Should this occur repeatedly, populations may be unable to recover, resulting in local extinctions. Comprehensive time series data on butterflies in Great Britain provide a rare opportunity to quantify population responses to both past severe drought and the interaction with habitat area and fragmentation. Here, we combine this knowledge with future projections from multiple climate models, for different Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs), and for simultaneous modelled responses to different landscape characteristics. Under RCP8.5, which is associated with ‘business as usual emissions, widespread drought-sensitive butterfly population extinctions could occur as early as 2050. However, by managing landscapes and particularly reducing habitat fragmentation, the probability of persistence until mid-century improves from around zero to between 6 and 42% (95% confidence interval). Achieving persistence with a greater than 50% chance and right through to 2100 is possible only under both low climate change (RCP2.6) and semi-natural habitat restoration. Our data show that, for these drought-sensitive butterflies, persistence is achieved more effectively by restoring semi-natural landscapes to reduce fragmentation, rather than simply focusing on increasing habitat area, but this will only be successful in combination with substantial emission reductions.

My predictive models appears to be working splendidly.

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Reader Comments (44)

How long before 'natural selection' becomes 'anthropogenic selection'? Perhaps I shouldn't give them ideas...

Aug 10, 2015 at 4:50 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

The author was Alan Sokal.

Aug 10, 2015 at 4:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Borodin

The paid propagandists are piling in. Dr Simon Evans of Carbon Brief declares that "Sorry lepidopterists, some butterflies have zero chance of surviving a climate changed future".

The Grauniad is on form, with the six butterflies labelled in the wrong order.
Better still, if you click to see the list of species, one of them is apparently the "carbon white", a species not known to me or google. Bit of a Freudian slip by a CO2-obsessed Guardianist?

[Richard Tol points out as a possible explanation that in German, cabbage = Kohl = carbon ]

Aug 10, 2015 at 5:30 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

Sentence 1 = sweeping assumption.

Sentence 2 = sweeping guesswork, based on sweeping assumption.

Sentence 3 = scare stories based on Sentences 1 and 2.

After that, it just gets silly.

Aug 10, 2015 at 5:39 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

"between 6 and 42% (95% confidence interval)"

I'm just filled with confidence.

Aug 10, 2015 at 5:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterAnonyMoose

They have a 95% confidence level that their models are right between 6% & 42%? I wouldn't have a toenail removed with that level of accuracy!

Aug 10, 2015 at 5:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan the Brit

"You must give us control of your land NOW! Butterflies DEMAND IT! Do you hate butterflies?"

Aug 10, 2015 at 5:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterGamecock

Another day, another predicted climate catastrophe caused solely by 'human emissions'. They don't half talk some ****.

Aug 10, 2015 at 5:57 PM | Unregistered Commentercheshirered

You could add a further prediction. That the timeframe of any prediction is beyond the period in which the prediction will be remembered or its authors will still be in paid employment.

Aug 10, 2015 at 5:59 PM | Unregistered Commenterrhoda

Last time I looked Nature Geoscience did not appear infected, but we've all seen what happens next in zombie movies.

Aug 10, 2015 at 6:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikky

'"You must give us control of your land NOW! Butterflies DEMAND IT! Do you hate butterflies?" --Gamecock'

"Think of the pupae!"

Aug 10, 2015 at 6:17 PM | Unregistered Commenterjorgekafkazar


As Professor Jimmy Edwards used to explain, "from the Greek, lepi = butter, and dopter = a fly"

Aug 10, 2015 at 6:27 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Think of the pupae, LOL.

Aug 10, 2015 at 6:43 PM | Registered Commentershub

I had a sneak preview of the World's Ugliest Car, the Fiat Multipla, during its pre-launch, and burst into laughter: "I swear that the design team got boozed up one night and dared each other to create a deliberately hideous design."

I suspect a similar thing amongst the worthless academics who write the quoted tripe. "Betcha I c'n make a longer (hic) prediction than you and dress it up in better pseudospeak!"

This is my PUC17.6 hypothesis (pissed up climatologist).

Aug 10, 2015 at 6:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrent Hargreaves

DAU 'emissions' - drivel-as-usual.

Aug 10, 2015 at 7:04 PM | Registered Commentershub

Isn't this just an extension of the panic-driven - and faulty - paper by Camille Parmesan who claimed butterflies were dying out and moving north because of CC - when it had nothing to do with that (to save my memory, look up this blog entry.

In the summary posted here at BH I spotted the following, any one of which alarms my BS detector:


Aug 10, 2015 at 7:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Passfield

OK, butterflies and moths look cute, so I can see why that makes them the latest poster-child for global warming alarm.

But they're not so cute when you get a crunchy chrysalis in the biscuit tin.

Aug 10, 2015 at 7:32 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Harry Passfield
Camille Parmesan? Isn't she one of the big cheeses in the effects of climate on insects?

I'll get my coat.

Aug 10, 2015 at 7:59 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Nature Climate Change, the clue of course is in the title for without CAGW for in pratice that is what they mean by climate change this journal would not exist .

I had a model has well it stated that 'no matter what the reality 2015 would be the warmest year ever ' , so far it is dead on although to be fair it was clear last year with Paris coming up there was simply way there could be any other result, so it was not hard to 'model '

Aug 10, 2015 at 8:01 PM | Unregistered Commenterknr

I think your predictive model is nothing more than extrapolation of a hindcast. But is seems to have great skill and appears to be very robust. It's settled science.

Aug 10, 2015 at 8:12 PM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

A very subjective article: "may" and "could" are used, making for predictions which are only suggestions.

Aug 10, 2015 at 8:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterP. Kenny

@ Paul Matthews 5:30
Maybe they mean Pieris brassicae, also called cabbage white

Aug 10, 2015 at 8:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn F. Hultquist

Didn't Camille Parmesan's butterflies refuse to cooperate?

Aug 10, 2015 at 8:41 PM | Unregistered Commenterpax

"co-recipient of the Nobel Prize" LOL

Aug 10, 2015 at 8:50 PM | Unregistered Commenterpax


LOL indeed.
The 2007 Nobel piece prize.
Worth hundreds and thousands.

Aug 10, 2015 at 9:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Reed

Aah, hundreds and thousands – one of my favourite cake toppings.

Interesting to note that “habitat loss” is now a symptom of climate change… or is it yet another cause? It also ignores the fact that habitat loss has also been a continuous process for millennia before humans worked out the correct way to hold a stick. Also interesting to note that the habitat loss imposed by the monstrous wind turbines can only be lauded to be of benefit, despite all the evidence to the contrary, as is also claimed for the up-coming loss of Swansea Bay. You have to be very selective in your alarms if you want to be Green.

Aug 10, 2015 at 9:42 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

Here's a somewhat obscure little gem ...

Aug 10, 2015 at 10:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterEric Weder

A caution is necessitated here. As the good Bishop doubtless knows, envy is one of the seven mortal sins. By presenting a model that actually works, the Bishop is manifestly tempting the climate modelers at the Met Office to the sin of envy. Surely the Bishop would not want to tempt any persons to a mortal sin!!

Aug 10, 2015 at 10:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterSara Chan

More classic Climate Bollocks.

Aug 10, 2015 at 11:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterJimmy Haigh

Don't worry. I'm sure the Met only weave flaws into their models so not to offend the deity. They will not envy the models of the Bish but they will regard them as a dangerous perfection.

Aug 10, 2015 at 11:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Reed

Sara and Alan, if climate computer modellers made one that actually worked, at least 99.99% of climate computer modellers would be out of a job.

One technician would still be required to turn the computer off when it went wrong, make a coffee, and then turn it back on again.

Aug 10, 2015 at 11:52 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

The factor that makes me very angrified indeed is that all of the model nonsense is paid for by the average citizen: what's even worse is the promising medical advances that have to be put on the back burner because of lack of money.

Aug 11, 2015 at 12:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander K

'meteorological thresholds' may be crossed
run away! run away!

Aug 11, 2015 at 12:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Smith

I also notice you're trying a bit of classic whataboutery

I don't think any of the climate-related sites are particularly forthcoming about their finances; Montford is hardly alone in that, and it's not restricted to climate sites. My point was more "so what?" If you can't engage with the argument, accusations of bad faith due to financial interests (which is what the 'who funds this site?' question boils down to) are mere ad hominem and I have not much use for it.

I see lots of contradictory material posted here, Zed - the times that your material has been deleted is usually after (IMHO) several fair warnings. No doubt, you see it differently.

I think the 'wrongness' of climate models has been established by the growing divergence of observation from prediction, accompanied by frenzied (and often contradictory) attempts to find adjustments or previously unobserved phenomena to account for the difference. In any event, though, the burden of proof is on those who present the model; I don't think they have satisfied it.

Aug 11, 2015 at 1:19 AM | Unregistered Commenterdcardno

"Surely the Bishop would not want to tempt any persons to a mortal sin [envy]!!" --Sara Chan

You refer to envy as a mortal sin, but it isn't per se mortal. It is, however, one of the Seven Deadly Sins, variously listed as pride, greed, extravagance, envy, gluttony, wrath, and sloth, or, later on, lust, gluttony, sadness, avarice, anger, envy, and pride. Any of the Seven Deadly Sins can be a mortal sin, subject to three conditions, which I'll spare you as possibly irrelevant, climate-wise. I'd suggest, however, that pride (hubris) plays a major part in Climate Science.


Aug 11, 2015 at 5:15 AM | Unregistered Commenterjorgekafkazar

Scotland has just had snow on the ground for the past year, the first time, apparently, in living memory. Scottish farming has been hit badly.

This is of course Global Warming and as the glaciers extend over much of the 'country' in the next 20-50 years, depending on the type of new LIA, the warmists will no doubt dig in for the long haul, claiming imaginary CO2-AGW will in the end prevail.

Stick this in your pipe, ZDB, you are a serial delusionist.

Aug 11, 2015 at 8:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterNCC 1701E

Climate change is expected to increase the frequency of some climatic extremes1, 2. These may have drastic impacts on biodiversity3, 4...

So in the words of the great H.B. Morton:

"If we had some bacon, we could have some bacon and eggs, if we had some eggs."

Aug 11, 2015 at 8:17 AM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

A vague connection with this.
At 0814 Tuesday 11th August, a Mr Lockhart (?) Scottish Secretary for farming and global warming, stated to some mumbling Bbc interviewer that ('unfortunately') he could not control the weather.
See NCC1701E above.
Can we now have our money back please?

Aug 11, 2015 at 8:29 AM | Unregistered Commenterwaterside4

Couple of mornings back in UK (05:30). The BBC World Service (the worlds radio station..they say?) had ended and up comes BBC Radio 4 as usual with the weather forecast. blah, blah weather stuff and one of the models indicated something else...sort of. So we will just have to wait and see.

About there I get ready to switch the radio off when Sarah Montague opens her trap!

The weather here is all over the place, largely cloudy and windy. Rather unsettled but warm in England. Scotland I think is really on the rough end of it all. No models will be able to keep up with this behaviour. I can see from the weather radar showing the Atlantic approaches that the weather is going to be unsettled, so no need for the BBC/Met Office stuff. Meanwhile the fruit and veg grow on schedule and so do the freaking bugs..particularly the Cabbage White lepithingy!

Aug 11, 2015 at 9:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterEx-expat Colin

replace all the mays and coulds with might not. Then it actually says nothing.

Aug 11, 2015 at 9:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterClovis Marcus

Considering the forthcoming September gathering of the great and the good amongst climate change/sustainable development** faithful (at which no less a personnage than the Pope himself is expected make an "historic" appearance) - to be followed a few months later by the annual COP in Paris - clearly what is called for is some sort of Anticipated Disaster Index (ADI for short) in which the Proliferation of Published Papers (PPP for short) can be appropriately classified.

A good starting point for the ADI might be those listed by Harry Passfield [Aug 10, 2015 at 7:28 PM] and for the PPP one would probably need something along the lines of Date, Publication, Author(s), Title.

My working hypothesis: The closer we get to the COP, the more PPP we're gonna see in the ADI ;-)

** A few years ago - not long after the official "birth" announcement of the IPBES (modelled, of course, on the IPCC) and the more or less concomitant launch of TEEB (a "sustainable development" bible, with its very own oh-so-convenient chapters and verses to charge offenders for their sins), I had noted on my blog that I thought it would be somewhat challenging for UNEP head honcho, Achim Steiner to continue to conjure up support for both bailiwicks.

Not to mention the demand for what Steiner recently declared as "trillions".

In the intervening years, I have noticed that in Steiner-speak one hears fewer and fewer references to "climate" stuff and more and more to "sustainable [whatever]" stuff with a mere few mentions of "climate" thrown in (in closer and closer proximity to "sustainable [whatever]) for good measure.

Amazing, eh?!

Aug 11, 2015 at 11:05 AM | Registered CommenterHilary Ostrov

Yes, waterside4, I saw that interview too - all about how wet it had been in Scotland. The Scottish Minister was burbling away behind my shoulder as I tucked into my boiled egg - just waiting for the magic phrase 'climate change'...

Sure enough, I wasn't disappointed...

Oh, and by the way, folks - wind today..? A massive 1% of (very modest) demand...
Don't the wind enthusiasts ever feel just a teeny bit STUPID..?

Aug 11, 2015 at 1:04 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1

As I write, the two continental interconnectors are supplying 7.5 times as much energy as wind.

Aug 11, 2015 at 1:30 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

How educated peoples can produce and believe such a stupid discours?

Aug 12, 2015 at 3:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterSerge aka Sirius

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