Climate-Modeling Illusions Not Based on Reality

For three decades, global warming alarmists have harassed society with stories of gloom and doom as a result of the carbon dioxide emitted into the air by the burning of fossil fuel. They are exercising precisely what prominent writer H.L. Mencken described as “the whole point of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed and hence clamorous to be led to safety by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”.

In fact, the man-caused global warming or climate change panic may well be the best hobgoblin ever conceived. It has half the world clamoring to be led to safety from climate change without a shred of physical evidence. Every single statement issued to support these fearmongering claims presented in a new 1,500-page report from 13 separate agencies of the federal government by 300 Obama-appointed scientists, has no basis in physical measurements or observations.

What they do have are mathematical equations considered to be models of the Earth’s climate.  However, they have only a handful of the hundreds of variables that impact climate and the numbers inserted for the arbitrarily selected variables are little more than guesses. Unfortunately, the U.S. government has financed more than one hundred efforts to model our climate for the better part of three decades, with none coming close to actual results.

The problem real scientists who study climate -- not those paid for bias -- face, is that the public has no clue what a mathematical model actually is, how it works, and what they can and cannot do. Let’s simplify the subject and enlighten all Americans, and the rest of the world’s population as well.

There are many ways in which things or systems can be described.  Before we build buildings or airplanes, we make physical small-scale models and test them against the stress and performances that will be required of them when they are actually built. When dealing with systems that are totally beyond our control we try and describe them with computer programs or mathematical equations that we hope may give answers to the questions we have about the system today and in the future. Historically, mathematical descriptions of such systems were used to better understand how the system might work. We would attempt to understand the variables that affect the outcomes of the system. Then we would alter the variables and see how the outcomes are altered. This is called sensitivity testing, the very best use of mathematical models.

Throughout our history, we were never foolish enough to make economic decisions based on predictions calculated from equations we think might dictate how nature works. My first introduction to using math to try and understand nature occurred almost 60 years ago when I was performing graduate work on contaminated fluid transport in subsurface rocks. It was fun and instructive but was never intended to serve as a crystal ball for the future. However, that is exactly what the well-paid math modelers throughout the academic world now claim they can do.

All problems can be viewed as having three stages, observation, modeling, and prediction. Perhaps the most active area for mathematical modeling is the economy and the stock market.  No one has ever succeeded in getting it right and there are far fewer variables than occur in determining the climate of our planet.

For many years, the Wall Street Journal selected five eminent economic analysts to select a stock they were sure would rise in the following month. Then, they had chimpanzees throw five darts at a wall covered with that days’ stock-market results. A month later they determined who did better choosing winners, the analysts or the chimpanzees. In a majority of years, the chimps won.

I am not saying that today’s mathematical modelers would not beat chimps throwing darts at future Earth temperatures, but I will not object if you reach that conclusion. Their predictions for the past 20 years could just as well have been reached with darts because they have all been wrong.

Consider the following: we do not know all the variables but we are quite sure they are likely in the hundreds. We know how very few work. Clouds must play a significant role in the planet’s climate and we do not even know how they work. Yet today’s modelers believe they can tell you the planet’s climate decades or even a century in the future and want to manage the economy accordingly. Either they are crazy to think this or we are crazy to believe them. I suspect both to be true.

Dr. Willie Soon of the Harvard-Smithsonian astrophysics laboratory once calculated that if we could know all the variables affecting climate and plugged them into the world’s largest computer, it would take 40 years to reach a conclusive answer.

Should we waste a single brain cell even considering the doomsday predictions that 300 scientists working in 13 government agencies all hired by President Obama are telling us we must all plan for? The answer is obviously no. And we should all go back to preparing for a wonderful winter holiday.

Jay Lehr (jlehr@heartland.org) is science director at The Heartland Institute.

For three decades, global warming alarmists have harassed society with stories of gloom and doom as a result of the carbon dioxide emitted into the air by the burning of fossil fuel. They are exercising precisely what prominent writer H.L. Mencken described as “the whole point of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed and hence clamorous to be led to safety by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”.

In fact, the man-caused global warming or climate change panic may well be the best hobgoblin ever conceived. It has half the world clamoring to be led to safety from climate change without a shred of physical evidence. Every single statement issued to support these fearmongering claims presented in a new 1,500-page report from 13 separate agencies of the federal government by 300 Obama-appointed scientists, has no basis in physical measurements or observations.

What they do have are mathematical equations considered to be models of the Earth’s climate.  However, they have only a handful of the hundreds of variables that impact climate and the numbers inserted for the arbitrarily selected variables are little more than guesses. Unfortunately, the U.S. government has financed more than one hundred efforts to model our climate for the better part of three decades, with none coming close to actual results.

The problem real scientists who study climate -- not those paid for bias -- face, is that the public has no clue what a mathematical model actually is, how it works, and what they can and cannot do. Let’s simplify the subject and enlighten all Americans, and the rest of the world’s population as well.

There are many ways in which things or systems can be described.  Before we build buildings or airplanes, we make physical small-scale models and test them against the stress and performances that will be required of them when they are actually built. When dealing with systems that are totally beyond our control we try and describe them with computer programs or mathematical equations that we hope may give answers to the questions we have about the system today and in the future. Historically, mathematical descriptions of such systems were used to better understand how the system might work. We would attempt to understand the variables that affect the outcomes of the system. Then we would alter the variables and see how the outcomes are altered. This is called sensitivity testing, the very best use of mathematical models.

Throughout our history, we were never foolish enough to make economic decisions based on predictions calculated from equations we think might dictate how nature works. My first introduction to using math to try and understand nature occurred almost 60 years ago when I was performing graduate work on contaminated fluid transport in subsurface rocks. It was fun and instructive but was never intended to serve as a crystal ball for the future. However, that is exactly what the well-paid math modelers throughout the academic world now claim they can do.

All problems can be viewed as having three stages, observation, modeling, and prediction. Perhaps the most active area for mathematical modeling is the economy and the stock market.  No one has ever succeeded in getting it right and there are far fewer variables than occur in determining the climate of our planet.

For many years, the Wall Street Journal selected five eminent economic analysts to select a stock they were sure would rise in the following month. Then, they had chimpanzees throw five darts at a wall covered with that days’ stock-market results. A month later they determined who did better choosing winners, the analysts or the chimpanzees. In a majority of years, the chimps won.

I am not saying that today’s mathematical modelers would not beat chimps throwing darts at future Earth temperatures, but I will not object if you reach that conclusion. Their predictions for the past 20 years could just as well have been reached with darts because they have all been wrong.

Consider the following: we do not know all the variables but we are quite sure they are likely in the hundreds. We know how very few work. Clouds must play a significant role in the planet’s climate and we do not even know how they work. Yet today’s modelers believe they can tell you the planet’s climate decades or even a century in the future and want to manage the economy accordingly. Either they are crazy to think this or we are crazy to believe them. I suspect both to be true.

Dr. Willie Soon of the Harvard-Smithsonian astrophysics laboratory once calculated that if we could know all the variables affecting climate and plugged them into the world’s largest computer, it would take 40 years to reach a conclusive answer.

Should we waste a single brain cell even considering the doomsday predictions that 300 scientists working in 13 government agencies all hired by President Obama are telling us we must all plan for? The answer is obviously no. And we should all go back to preparing for a wonderful winter holiday.

Jay Lehr (jlehr@heartland.org) is science director at The Heartland Institute.