Climate Models: Inaccurate?

A dear friend is a hardcore Climate Change Denier and forwarded me a link to this link.

I’d done some preliminary searching around TSDMB and Reddit and found no straightforward debunking of these specific assertions, so I thought I’d ask The Teeming Millions.

Anything to this (or to counter this)?

That’s funny-I put the phrase “Lindzen debunked”(what the author of that pseudoscientific hit piece claimed he couldn’t find any mention of) into Google and got over a thousand hits.
Link to Google search.

I am not a climate scientist. I’m assuming you and your friend are not climate scientists either.

So we have a choice. We could go to college and become climate scientists and then we could evaluate the evidence directly. Or we can listen to the people who did go to college, became climate scientists, and evaluated the evidence directly. The second alternative is obviously the easier one but the fact that the first alternative exists keeps scientists honest. If you want to put the effort in, you can check their work.

All that said, the overwhelming majority of climate scientists agree that climate change is real and human beings have an effect on it. And because they know climate science, their knowledge on this subject of worth more than the knowledge of people who aren’t climate scientists - even if the people who are denying climate change outnumber the climate scientists.

Finally, part of science is conducting ongoing research and making changes as new evidence emerges. That’s how climate scientists discovered climate change in the first place. If somebody found new information about climate change and had evidence to support it, climate scientists would examine the evidence and if it supported the information, they would add the new information to our knowledge of climate science.

It’s important to point out however that while scientists have a duty to examine new ideas and add them to our collective knowledge if they are true, they do not have a specific duty to debunk ideas that are false. So the fact that an idea hasn’t been specifically debunked doesn’t mean it’s true.

Could you perhaps clarify for us which “specific assertions” you are seeking a response to?

May didn’t say there weren’t any hits. He said there were hits. He just didn’t find all the hits credible because there was “No support, no data, no peer reviewed references”.

Of course the same charge can be made against May’s blog. May describes himself as a scientist but his credentials are a BS degree in geology and his professional experience in oilfield geology. There’s no reason to accept him as an authority on climate science.

Primarily the assertions in the link that published Climate Models are inaccurate (per the title of my posting).


My impression is that climate models are in fact very shaky. But that’s not the same thing as saying that everything climate scientists are saying can be swept away. Just that climate is extremely complex and that scientists tend to be overconfident in their understanding of extremely complex matters.

So scientists could have overwhelming evidence that the Earth is warming, and that there is an extremely high likelihood that human activity plays a role, but that’s not the same thing as having an ability to create a model which accurately captures all the relevant factors in precise measure. But scientists are predisposed to think they have more understanding than they actually have.

So what you get is scientists putting out these models that get debunked and/or which they need to fudge here and there to get right, and this gets seized on by denialists who want to dispute the broader conclusions, even though the broader conclusions have ample support beyond the precise conclusions of any specific model.

[It’s a lot like Trump’s victory, which should validly cause people to be a bit more skeptical of the various prediction models which it upended. But someone who uses that to say more generally that “all polls are a bunch of garbage” is taking that much too far.]

I made it as far as “First they claim that climate models are accurate. This has been disproven by Dr. John Christy…”

Here’s a good debunking of Christy’s claim.

That’s the kind of thing I was looking for, thanks!

Computer models are not predictive.

Consider the atmospheric models of hurricanes. They place available data into imperfect models of the total atmosphere. The outputs of the models have a large degree of variation and their outputs change as the hurricane progresses. No single model gets the path and strength right. Although no model got it exactly right, altogether they identified the general area and potential impact of the storm. They present a warning that must be heeded.

Climate change is no different.


IANA-climate-scientist, but that article seemed to concede the central point - that the models are inaccurate - while taking issue with the charts used to present that information. Did I misunderstand something?

I’ve read a lot of climate denial sites and I haven’t found any of it very compelling. I admit that I do find it hard to understand how an additional increase of atmospheric CO2 of 1 part per 10000 can affect temperature as much as it does, but I do accept that CO2 is a greenhouse gas and perhaps releasing a concentration of carbon that was bound in 200 million years of decaying forest in a short span of 100 years of fossil fuel burning could disrupt the equilibrium of the existing climate. On the whole, regardless of global warming, the benefits of switching to renewables is too great to ignore.

I would personally suggest not putting much stock into trying to debunk every little climate change denier “argument.” There are theoretically infinite number of arguments of varying quality (most being dubious) one can make against any idea. An argument in these cases is essentially anything anyone can come up with that introduces a >0 bit of doubt about a claim someone has made about a subject. This thus creates a situation by which the more positive evidence/claims someone presents on a subject, the more opportunities there are for counter-arguments, which, if answered, present even more opportunities for counter-arguments.

Better to stick to good, expert consensus driven sources of information than dubious quacks or internet experts given the above.

Well, I don’t think that is quite right. It did concede the point that there is some discrepancy between the models and the available empirical data for this particular metric. However, there are lots of issues with the data for the mid-troposphere temperatures, not the least of which the satellite data is contaminated because the tail of the weighting function for that channel extends into the stratosphere (which is strongly cooling both because of increasing greenhouse gases and the aerosol-driven decrease in stratospheric ozone). Not all discrepancies between data and models are resolved in favor of the data. In fact, the history of this satellite data is that there used to be discrepancies in more aspects…and over time, most of these have been resolved in favor of the models, i.e., the short data set and various errors in the data analysis were to blame.

And, similar to a God of the Gaps argument, the deniers of AGW can always find some steadily decreasing ground on which to claim there are discrepancies between some data and models. That is why expert analysis by scientists in the field trumps arm-chair scientists with very simplistic views of how “falsification” works in science.

The problem is a lot of people go far beyond the reasonable limits of doubt.

Two groups on scientists with knowledge of the subject may be 95% in agreement. But there’s still debate over the other 5%.

A “skeptic” will take this situation and run with it. He’ll argue that the first group of scientists say all the scientists in the second group are wrong. And the second group of scientists say all the scientists in the first group are wrong. So he’s free to believe all the scientists in both groups are wrong. And that means he can decide to disbelieve everything they say.

There’s a ton of flaws in this line of “reasoning”. But it’s pretty similar to what a lot of self-proclaimed skeptics are doing.

Very appropriate username/post there. :grin:

I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that climate change has given us more failed predictions than any other alleged scientific theory, ever. The only one that’s even close is Darwinian evolution, which has managed to get roughly 90% of biology wrong.

Isn’t it interesting that these two failed hypoth . . . err . . . “theories” . . . are the two so fiercely defended from critical thought?

I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that the two “theories” which collapse under the weight of skepticism are the same two “theories” which liberals demand we show no skepticism for.

You think wrong.

Prove this. And when I say “prove this”, don’t give me a link to the webpage where you learned this, provide links to the abstracts to the published papers that support your claim.

Nope, history shows that the collapse has taken place among the skeptics of both. Please point at the scientific organizations that tell you that they have collapsed. I would like to see one of those to point and laugh at, but I think you will not find them.

One thing that previous exchange reminded me: a very telling point point for me is how the National Center for Science Education started as educators and concerned citizens that banded together to maintain the integrity of science education against creationism and intelligent design.
They had to make a change on their main mission in 2012 and began to support also educators that were getting under fire for teaching climate change. It was clear that virtually the same methods of seeding doubt are applied by organizations dedicated to misguide the public. And it is not surprising at all that there are people and groups that are creationists and climate change deniers at the same time. The big problem now is that a lot of conservatives do not notice the huge red flags a connection like that should raise.