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Discussion > Let's get real about climate models

Steve Richards
.... or, alternatively, keep plugging away and come back in a thousand years or so when you have acquired enough data to have a fighting chance that your predictions might be 50% correct. The fundamental problem is that climate activist scientists and greedy UN bureaucrats want what they want and they want it NOW!
They are trying to convince us that <40 years of reliable observations is good enough to pontificate on the state of the Arctic ice; that 105 years of rainfall records is enough to pontificate on record rainfall in the face of historical evidence that they are wrong; ditto for temperature where there is evidence that for the last two millennia each successive warm peak has been cooler than its predecessor.
Climate science is not just in its infancy; it's not out of the womb yet. Come back when you're all growed up and we might listen.

Jan 10, 2016 at 8:24 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

The problem with computer models is that they probably look quite convincing on a computer, and they have lots of knobs and twiddlybits, for knobs to twiddle, but they don't fulfil any useful function.

For kids at school who like playing computer games, a whole new career opportunity has developed in playing computer games. Some have done really well in developing new technologies. The commercial world has not bothered with climate models, because they know it is a waste of time and money. Oil exploration in the Arctic has been abandoned, not because of Greenpeace et al, but because the ice hasn't disappeared as promised, by climate scientists and their models.

The commercial world has loved the developments in weather forecasting, that have been an offshoot of climate science. The public have benefitted too. Meanwhile climate science is preventing countries from developing, so people continue to die, for lack of water, electricity, medicine etc.

Imagine how upset climate scientists would get, if deaths attributed to bad climate science policy were calculated per million.

Jan 10, 2016 at 10:38 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

I'm hoping that people who work with climate models will make a contribution here.

Perhaps someone could explain the criteria for a climate model to be judged as having failed or is the possibility of failure never expected to happen?

Would it be some magnitude of deviation from reality or failure to match observation for an infinite time? It can't be failed prediction of events because there are lots of these.

I'm just curious.

Jan 10, 2016 at 11:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

I await a visit by ATTP to tell us that we do not understand what GCMs tell us

Jan 10, 2016 at 11:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterDiogenes

Waiting for the withering put-down from Raff. He ignores that Mann still plays the hockey stick game.

Jan 10, 2016 at 11:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterDiogenes

Schrodinger's Cat, there is no such thing as a failed climate model. Climate science doesn't recognise anything wrong, in anything it has done. Besides, climate science has never been held accountable for any of the money that has been squandered, in providing nothing.

Why would climate science want to admit complete failure, and risk ending the cushy lifestyle, at taxpayer's expense?

It is not that the possibility of failure, is not expected to happen, it is that their complete and utter failure must never be admitted.

Jan 10, 2016 at 11:56 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Cat said,

His balloon temperatures are presumably mid troposphere and he does claim apple to apple comparisons though he doesn't give details. The graph has been around for a long time and I'm not aware of anyone challenging it apart from you.
Yes, you are right. I expect he used the satellite TMT record to construct the graph. But the forcing issue is relevant and should be addressed.

Jan 11, 2016 at 3:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterRaff


I suggest that a climate model could be judged by how well it displayed past temperature, to within, say, +/- 0.5 degrees, and predicted temperature, the same, after inputting true external events such as new volcanic eruptions etc.

I would suggest that future temperature outputs would be all wrong, until agreed changes to external inputs were factored in.

I still think they will never be accurate or useful due to the lack of physical understanding of our world.

Jan 11, 2016 at 7:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Richards

... Also you claim to understand that various forcings are not predictable (solar cycles, volcanoes, emissions) by a model and I assume you accept that the forcings that in fact occurred since 2005 were lower than the models in those graphs assumed. (...)
Jan 10, 2016 at 1:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterRaff

The Met Office said:

Are computer models reliable?

Yes. Computer models are an essential
tool in understanding how the climate will
respond to changes in greenhouse gas
concentrations, and other external effects,
such as solar output and volcanoes.

Computer models are the only reliable
way to predict changes in climate. Their
reliability is tested by seeing if they are able
to reproduce the past climate, which gives
scientists confidence that they can also
predict the future.

But computer models cannot predict the
future exactly. They depend, for example, on
assumptions made about the levels of future
greenhouse gas emissions.

(From "Warming a guide to climate change", Met Office, October 2011)

The Met Office's misleading (lying, actually) statement implies that computer models could predict future climate *exactly* were it not for "assumptions (for example) made about the levels of future greenhouse gas emissions".

Now that there are fifty-two explanations for "the pause" (the halt, actually) other impossible to predict factors are being dredged up to account for the failure of the models to predict even ten years ahead. Note that "52 explanations" = "no valid explanation".

Raff cites a few of the imponderables which, presumably, were always known to make prediction of future climate impossible and which are, presumably, just a subset of the totality of reasons for the failure of the climate models.

Jan 11, 2016 at 11:21 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Martin A, there must be 57 different varieties of pause, so 5 are awaiting discovery. All 52 different guesses so far remain fixated with CO2. At least climate science is consistently unreliable and wrong.

Jan 11, 2016 at 12:44 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

See my posting at the head of this page.
If I'm right and it is going to take several hundred years of observations to come up with a reliable model then since it is too soon to prove anything it must also be too soon to disprove anything, nicht wahr?
Gives the buggers carte blanchefor the next few generations!

Jan 11, 2016 at 1:59 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

"The models, when given actual forcings up to 2005 and left to get on with it, show more warming between 2005 and 2015 than really occurred. When given the forcings that actually happened after 2005, the real outcome remains well within the predicted range"

So it sounds like we need to know what the forcings are going actually going to be over the next XX years for these to be useful.

Where are these future forcings provided?

Jan 11, 2016 at 2:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterNial

So it sounds like we need to know what the forcings are going actually going to be over the next XX years for these to be useful.

Has anyone got a crystal ball we can borrow?

Jan 11, 2016 at 2:39 PM | Unregistered Commenter...and Then There's Physics

"Has anyone got a crystal ball we can borrow?"

If that's what you need for these 'models' to be useful............

Jan 11, 2016 at 3:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterNial

Do you understand what a forcing is?

Jan 11, 2016 at 3:53 PM | Unregistered Commenter...and Then There's Physics

The normal rule is that if your model is invalidated then you either scrap it and start again or you change it and try again. What you do not do is use a half broken model because that would be fooling yourself as well as risky and pointless.

Climate model are clearly broken but they continue to be used as the basis for policy.

We should challenge climate scientists on this because it is unacceptable in every other branch of science.. We should inform the public because they are paying the consequence and should be made aware that the basis for policy making is flawed.

Jan 11, 2016 at 3:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

There's a fundamental problem in the trust being placed in models to predict the future, being the false premise that the future can be predicted. This false premise persists despite the benefit of history and hindsight. You see things like Raff's (paraphrasing) "the model would have successfully predicted the future if reality hadn't been different."

Fundamentally the problem with climate MODELLERS is that they are akin to the worst Las Vegas gamblers. They believe themselves a hair's breadth from properly figuring out "the system". The reality is that being able to successfully predict the future is wholly dependent on fully understanding everything that is IN the system, and how it all interacts, and with precisely what force. Just as a gambler who does not KNOW how every card in the deck has been shuffled relative to every other card in the deck, now matter HOW much he believes in his "system", will ultimately be dependent on his own luck.

With a system as complex as our climate, this is the obstacle to GCMs and it is insurmountable.

Jan 11, 2016 at 4:04 PM | Registered CommenterSimon Hopkinson

Martin, no they are not 'lying'. The whole "skeptic" edifice seems to rest on accusations of lying and conspiracy but there are no lies. You've collectively proven that by failing to identify anything that a normal intelligent person was a lie. As for conspiracies, they are impossible to disprove - they just grow to encompass anyone and anything that shows they don't exist. And how can you say the "pause" in the rise in global temperature is in fact a "halt" when (a) you don't believe global temperature is a valid concept, and (b) 2015 was the warmest year by far.

Cat, you continue to ignore the fact that the modeled forcings did not match the actual forcings. Correcting them brings the models much closer in line with actual temperatures. Why not comment on that rather than just repeating the mantra of "broken models"?

Jan 11, 2016 at 4:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterRaff

raff, so were all climate science experts lying, exaggerating, guessing, or just making up their terrible stories about what was to have happened by now, and hasn't?

If it was all science and evidence based calculations, using computer models, the interim School Report is 0/10. Must Give Up Wasting Other People's Money.

Nobody is suggesting climate science should not continue, as a hobby, unfunded. It could be a niche interest at fairgrounds, like reading tea leaves, and with a lot of luck, more useful too.

Climate science is costing lives and livelihoods. Better weather forecasting has a track record of saving lives and livelihoods. It is morally wrong to keep wasting money on failed ideas, at such horrendous cost.

If Climate Science wants to restore credibility, it should produce models that explain the LIA and MWP without manmade CO2, then show why current paused global warming is different because of CO2. It is a shame this wasn't done in a scientific manner 25 years ago, before conclusions were jumped to. It should be shameful it still can't be done. But climate science has no shame or embarrassment over continued failure, to produce anything useful.

Jan 11, 2016 at 5:31 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie


Raff, so were all climate science experts lying, exaggerating, guessing, or just making up their terrible stories about what was to have happened by now, and hasn't?

Okay, here's your chance: what did climate science experts say should have happened by now, but didn't? Couple of ground rules; Al Gore is not a climate science expert, describing a worst-case scenario is not an example of something they predicted would have happened by now, it also really does have to be something they said should have happened by now, not might have happened by now.

Jan 11, 2016 at 5:55 PM | Unregistered Commenter...and Then There's Physics

aTTP, please confirm your right to set rules.

Please confirm anyone's rights to make predictions of doom for the future based on a) tea leaves, b) climate science

Should the public be allowed to choose based on a) qualification, b) track record.?

Where is climate science superior to tea leaf readers, especially given the lousy track record of both?

If climate science is not about predictions, why should anyone else pay for it? Does it have any purpose at all?

What is climate science allegedly trying to prevent, if it is not the bad news scenario's?

Do you still support Mann's Hockey Stick?

What steps have climate scientists taken to play down scary stories, if they weren't scientific predictions?

Jan 11, 2016 at 6:40 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Please answer the question. You made the claim. You should be able to back it up. I doubt you can, but I'm more than happy to be proven wrong.

Jan 11, 2016 at 6:49 PM | Unregistered Commenter...and Then There's Physics

Raff, all models overheat compared to reality and predict a hotspot that has never been found, despite 28 million radiosondes looking for it since 1955.. They are not too clever on humidity and tend to have unrealistic levels of aerosols to modulate the temperature. They are therefore broken and are unfit for purpose so it is pointless discussing what assumptions the modellers may or may not have made about forcings.

Perhaps you can explain why you defend broken climate models.

Jan 11, 2016 at 6:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

Golf Charlie: you have laid yourself wide open to aTTP, I’m afraid. There is a good point as to what is a “climate science expert”? Is it a specific qualification to be gained? Or is it confined to those who have other climate “science” qualifications? Could we include the many climate reporters (stop laughing!)? While “climate science experts” do seem to be noticeable by their silence, they do seem to have access to a wide range of outlets which will do their shouting for them.

Jan 11, 2016 at 7:50 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

ATTP, that is a bit like asking for someone to identify a 'lie'. People here believe, above all else it seems, that climate science lies, seemingly all the time. Yet I've been asking for examples of such 'lies' for weeks and have yet to encounter one (one that a normal person would consider a lie).

Cat, well dodged. You, like many here, are good at dodging questions. I've not seen any proposals by teams writing models so I don't know what 'purpose' was proposed for each model. Maybe some were proposed in order to develop policy, but I expect most were proposed as research tools. I know nothing of such models, but I expect the researchers aim is to evaluate what they understand about climate physics, to discover which aspects they don't understand and to try to narrow the gap. You present nothing that makes me think they are unfit for this intended purpose. You may think they are unfit for other purposes, such as policy making, but the alternative is no models at all. Is that attractive to you?

Jan 11, 2016 at 8:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterRaff