Climate Models Fail
Back in February, there was a public dust-up between the Obama administration and the climate science community. Obama blamed the current California drought on climate change – let's be precise: on anthropogenic climate change – while the climate scientists generally pushed back and said California's current drought is likely due to natural climate variability.
When the New York Times weighed in on the dispute, it provided us with this synopsis of the always present scientific consensus: "In fact, the most recent computer projections suggest that as the world warms, California should get wetter, not drier, in the winter, when the state gets the bulk of its precipitation. That has prompted some of the leading experts to suggest that climate change most likely had little role in causing the drought."
So climate models indicate that anthropogenic climate change should lead to wetter winters in California. Is that what we observe in the pesky place called reality? No chance.
The following graphs show statewide precipitation trends in California since 1895 for the January through March and December through February periods, depending on how you define winter.
In neither case is there a statistically significant trend in California's winter precipitation over the past 120 years. Indeed, in both cases the correlations are negative, suggesting that on the balance of probabilities, California is actually getting drier during the winter period, in complete contrast to climate model predictions.
Similarly, the drought indices during the winter period in California certainly don't indicate that the state is getting wetter in the winter. Quite the opposite. The correlations are towards drier winter conditions, with modest evidence for increasingly extreme winter drought.
This is a complete modeling fail, and it necessarily calls into question any and all other predictions made by climate models that projected increasing winter precipitation and generally wetter winter conditions in the Golden State.
Also of note at the time the climate scientists were disputing the Obama administration's claims about the cause of California's water woes was this statement by White House science adviser John P. Holdren: "Scientifically, no single episode of extreme weather, no storm, no flood, no drought can be said to have been caused by global climate change."
Well, now, that is interesting. Effectively, Holdren has publicly accused James Hansen, Andrew Weaver, and others of conducting problematic science. Once again, as quoted above, Holdren stated unequivocally that "scientifically ... no drought can be said to have been caused by global climate change."
Back in 2012, James Hansen and colleagues released a study in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences entitled "Perception of climate change." Hansen's study made the following claims, which I have discussed previously at American Thinker: "It follows that we can state, with a high degree of confidence, that extreme anomalies such as those in Texas and Oklahoma in 2011 and Moscow in 2010 were a consequence of global warming."
In an Associated Press article by Seth Borenstein on this study by Hansen and co-workers, this was printed:
In a blunt departure from most climate research, Hansen's study – based on statistics, not the more typical climate modeling – blames these three heat waves purely on global warming: last year's devastating Texas-Oklahoma drought; the 2010 heat waves in Russia and the Middle East, which led to thousands of deaths; [and] the 2003 European heat wave blamed for tens of thousands of deaths, especially among the elderly in France.
Prominent climate scientist Andrew Weaver was quoted in Borenstein's story saying the following about Hansen's work: "The science in Hansen's study is excellent 'and reframes the question,' said Andrew Weaver, a climate scientist at the University of Victoria in British Columbia who was a member of the Nobel Prize-winning international panel of climate scientists that issued a series of reports on global warming."
But wait a minute. Holdren said that "scientifically ... no drought can be said to have been caused by global climate change," and here we have Hansen saying the complete opposite, with Weaver stating that the "the science in Hansen's study is excellent."
You can't have it both ways – no matter how much the climate activists try. The simple facts are that climate model predictions for California appear to have failed spectacularly, and Holdren has stated that blaming single episodes of droughts, storms, floods, and other extreme events on climate change is junk science. Looks like the climate community has some real problems.