The Fatal Attraction of Climate Models

Despite the failure of elaborate and expensive supercomputer climate models to reflect real world observations, they still hold a fatal attraction for tens of millions of otherwise intelligent, honest people.

Compared to the actual temperature rise since 1980, the average of 32 top climate models (the so-called CIMP5) overestimates it by 71-159%. A new Nature Climate Change study shows that the prevailing climate models produced estimates that overshot the temperature rise of the last 15 years by more than 300%. _Global Warming

The reason that many intelligent people continue to believe in the anthropogenic carbon doom hypothesis and its failed models, is aptly summarized by one such believer below:

I think it’s still a little too hasty to think we can continue to emit dozens of gigatonnes of CO2 each year without adverse effects somewhere down the line.

The hypothesis is naive. We have a simple equation that a middle school student could understand and expect it to link CO2 levels and average global temperatures in a lock-step fashion. The interactions between the elements of the earth’s atmosphere are hellaciously complex and the science to study them is in its infancy. Hypotheses are bound to fail. I think, however, the basics are sound and nobody is questioning them. Greenhouse gases are heat-trapping. Emiting them into the atmosphere will result in higher temperatures. I don’t see any way of getting around that. _Mtrueman comment 12.19.13 01:07 on Ugly Climate Models, Reason Mag

This is an invaluable comment in what it reveals. Anyone who wants to understand the thinking of intelligent friends or family members who continue to believe in human-caused carbon doom, is likely to glean some important insights from it.

His “basic” point is that “greenhouse gases are heat-trapping,” which is a definition that he turns into a tautology. He is unable to move beyond this bit of circular reasoning in his analysis. He expresses the depth of his belief in the tautology here: We have a simple equation that a middle school student could understand and expect it to link CO2 levels and average global temperatures in a lock-step fashion. He admits that climate science is in its infancy, and is likely to suffer failures of hypotheses. But because of his simplistic faith in the power of “greenhouse gases” he fails to comprehend how badly and how many different ways the mainstream climate hypotheses have failed — and what that failure tells us about their underlying assumptions that have also failed.

The same type of simplistic circular reasoning is likely to inhabit the craniums of people you know, intelligent people who cannot shake the notion that humans are destroying the planet with their carbon emissions. If a person has an ineffably deep belief in human-caused planetary doom, he will grasp at any likely logic that may support that belief, from climate doom to peak oil apocalypse to water scarcity Armageddon.

Entire generations of schoolchildren and university students have been well steeped in the mystical ideologies of human caused eco-doom. The programming runs deep, and is apt to emerge in many ways and at any time — even over Christmas dinner.

But eventually, in the face of a continuing mismatch between the models and the observations, someone of “sufficient authority” will devise an explanation that allows such persons to “save face” while subtly altering his basic understanding of the foundational phenomena. He will still be almost 180 degrees away from a genuine understanding of the phenomena, but he will be able to pat himself on the back for his open-mindedness, while maintaining his credentials of political correctness.

More: Ron Bailey on Ugly Climate Models

It is crucial that new generations of children be raised with the thinking skills that allow them to analyze the data for themselves, and make their own judgments — despite the PC proclamations of politicians, academics, journalists, and activists.

Such competencies will make these children “dangerous” to the established order and its hierarchies. But dangerous thinking skills are only a small subset of the skills that will make Dangerous Children dangerous.

If thoughtful humans do not take the necessary actions to understand and oppose the multi-$trillion international climate caper and its associated energy starvation crusade, they will soon enough wish they had done so.

More: Links to ClimateGate

Quick primer on climate change

Warren Meier’s: A Layman’s Guide to Anthropogenic Global Warming

Climate Audit: For the intelligent analyst

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4 Responses to The Fatal Attraction of Climate Models

  1. Matt Musson says:

    The only way a model can be tested is to run it backwards against historical weather. In essence – Climate modeling is the science of predicting the past. So, unless the historical data is detailed and accurate – a good model cannot be developed.

  2. bob sykes says:

    In one of the great ironies, the chart Al Gore uses to argue for carbon dioxide curtailment shows that temperature variations lead carbon dioxide variations by 400 to 800 years. So, at those rather time scales and fluctuation levels temperature changes are clearly the cause of the carbon dioxide changes, probably due to oceanic absorption and desorption. Also, the temperature changes are known to be correlated with solar input, so the large-scale process is solar-driven.

    Some recent studies indicate that the smaller scale and more recent carbon dioxide variations are also temperature driven. And there are now several plausible mechanics for solar variations causing differences in insolation at the ground level.

    Some (maybe all) of the models do not allow for any variation in solar output, so they don’t account for it. And they have failed miserably the data test. They especially fail the recent warming (currently stopped) because most of that warming predates carbon dioxide increases.

    It is absolutely true that carbon dioxide is a green house gas, as is water (which is more important actually), and that the average Earth temperature is substantially higher because of its atmosphere. Consider the moon.

    • alfin2101 says:


      I am trying to get at the essence of what makes an average person come to believe so strongly in a “scientific theory” dealing with mechanisms of reality which they cannot possibly understand. The key is to insert a “core belief” which the person feels cannot possibly be refuted, no matter what. It helps if the “core belief” is fairly simple conceptually, containing an element of truth, but is also unfalsifiable in its extended, unconscious “cascade of belief.”

      CO2 is a “greenhouse gas,” but that truism is not the strong scientific foundation that climate doomers seem to think it is. In fact, judging by the data, it is more of a red herring than a salient piece of the logical puzzle. That is neither here nor there.

      My interest is in what causes people to believe strongly in pseudo-scientific ideological systems, or other widely held belief systems. I think the comment quoted in the article demonstrates the essence of belief in climate doom, for most “educated” moderns. The implications go far beyond climate and the political/economic/energy disaster that the climate crusade is becoming.

      • Stephen says:

        I think a frightful amount of these people are simply elitist misanthropes who consciously understand that their desire to see ordinary people mass murdered is unacceptable in polite society but who subconsciously HOPE something like climate doom or peak oil doom is real because they want the die off.

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