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Betting Your Future on Computer Models

May 13, 2016

Computers are a major, if not crucial tool, used by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to predict global warming and climate change from CO2.

But how accurate are these computer models?

The IPCC has gone so far as to devote an entire page on its web site to argue that the models can be relied on, but it’s clear from recent experience that they are not able to predict future temperatures with any degree of accuracy.

Comparison of multiple IPCC models with observations, by Roy Spencer, UAH

Comparison of multiple IPCC models with observations, by Roy Spencer, UAH

(HadCRUT temperatures are compiled by the Hadley center of the UK Met Office.)
(UAH temperatures are compiled by the University of Alabama, Huntsville.)

The HadCRUT and UAH data points are actual temperatures, and they are following the most conservative of the IPCC models. They are also far below the average of all IPCC model results.

Temperatures are actually rising far more slowly than the computer models are predicting.

Yet, it’s the average of all models that is being used to establish the need for cutting CO2 emissions. Some of the more radical environmentalists are using the higher and more extreme forecasts when claiming the need to cut CO2 emissions to prevent a climate catastrophe.

The above chart by Roy Spencer, was criticized by environmental groups for various reasons, but the following chart substantiates its findings.

This chart, composed by Energy Matters, uses the IPCC’s First Assessment Report (FAR) chart in 1990, and superimposes actual temperatures.

Comparison of the IPCC FAR (1990) temperature forecasts with HadCRUT4. HadCRUT4 data was downloaded from WoodForTrees and annual averages calculated. Chart from Energy Matters

Comparison of the IPCC FAR (1990) temperature forecasts with HadCRUT4. HadCRUT4 data was downloaded from WoodForTrees and annual averages calculated. Chart from Energy Matters

(Note that the first chart is until 2030, while the second is until 2100.)

Both demonstrate that actual temperatures are following the most conservative computer projections. Note also, that actual temperatures have risen only 1 degree C over the past 160 years.

The wide divergence in results from various computer models make their results highly suspect.

But we are being asked to make huge sacrifices in our standard of living so as to cut CO2 emissions 80% by 2050, when the reality is that computer models are not providing us with good evidence that CO2 will cause drastic increase in temperatures.

We are also being asked to have a carbon tax applied to the use of fossil fuels.

Once again, computer programs are being used to demonstrate that a carbon tax will curtail CO2 emissions and prevent temperatures from rising dangerously high.

A recent wall Street Journal (WSJ) article cited computer simulations that showed it would be necessary to impose a carbon tax of $425, in today’s dollars, to prevent temperatures from rising over 2 degrees C, the supposed tipping point. According to the article, such a tax would reduce GDP by 5 to 10%.

But even staunch supporters of the need to cut CO2 emissions disagree.

From the WSJ article, “‘The models are biased on the pessimistic side,’ said Joe Romm, senior fellow at the left-leaning think tank Center for American Progress.”

Computers are marvelous tools, and have helped the United States improve its productivity, but computers are subject to human errors, such as developing inaccurate algorithms and using inaccurate data.

We shouldn’t be betting our future on computer models that are subject to the infamous GIGO, garbage in, garbage out.

Especially when their output appears to be wrong, with actual temperature rise far below the projections of the computer models.

* * * * * *

Nothing to Fear, Chapter 4, Why The CO2 Hypothesis is Wrong, explains how atmospheric CO2 has not affected temperatures, using an IPCC chart showing that CO2 has remained constant at 280 ppm prior to 1850, for the previous 2,000 years.

Nothing to Fear is available from Amazon and some independent book sellers.

Link to Amazon:

Book Cover, Nothing to Fear

Book Cover, Nothing to Fear

* * * * * *


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11 Comments leave one →
  1. Acckkii permalink
    May 14, 2016 3:54 am

    When we engage in a broad discussion such as carbon dioxide, global warming, and climate change, and we have few knowledge about them, certainly we do not expect that we face with a thin line that captures the anticipation and reality from the very beginning. There are infinitely large variables indeed in the discussion. It is therefore obvious that we are faced with a spectrum-scale, rather than a thin line. As can be seen in the chart, the Y-axis follows the general trend of warming. At best, it seems that the lower layers of temperature have been softened in Roy Spencer. But not ruled out.

  2. Don Shaw permalink
    May 14, 2016 2:50 pm

    As an engineer who has studied the actual data and the predicted values from models extensively, the point of your post escapes me. The data lines represent measurements which may have been adjusted while the other lines are forecast from computer models. Yes the computer models have an extremely wide range indicating they don’t have a clue a to the natural processes that affect the earth temperatures. The models are useless. The problem is that are politically driven motives that claim the science is settled and they attempt to alarm the uninformed and our young students in school while presenting a claim of catastrophic global warming that is not based on the science. Any engineer using such tactics in private industry would be fired or jailed.
    Roy Spencer curve is from actual measured temperatures which have generally been adjusted upward, not “Softened”.

    • May 14, 2016 3:00 pm

      Don: Thanks for answering Acckkii, as I hadn’t done so.

  3. Acckkii permalink
    May 15, 2016 6:03 am

    Don Show,

    I refer you to the IPCC -Roy Spencer and UAH diagram , please look at the black, green and red lines.
    The years 1983 to 2013.

    1. The green and red lines, with similar “behavior” to the black line.
    2. HadCRUT4, in the end, with flat trend, and perhaps even with a small negative slope.
    3. UAH, with an increasing trend.

    What about the diagram after 2013?
    Predictions are always ahead of the facts.

    “Temperatures are actually rising far more slowly than the computer models are predicting.”

    Computer models are always necessary, but adapting models to the realities, of course, the condition of adequacy.
    “Betting Your Future on Computer Models”, yes sometimes is necessary. It depends on where and when.
    Don Show, as an engineer in connection with the DATA, perhaps you’ve reached to some kind of models for the future of the diagram. You know very well that without computers, impossible to make any reasonable analysis system.
    Try and Error always workable.
    There are some questions here:
    1. Are there really wrong DATA?
    2. Are there intentional misleading DATA?
    3.Are there unintentional wrong DATA?
    4.Are there models-read DATA wrong?
    5.Are there models-read DATA correcttly?
    6.Are there models-change DATA intentionally?

    So, it isn’t about computers and models only. It’s about DATA.

    John Christie proved there were false results due to wrong DATA.

    • May 15, 2016 8:39 am

      GIGO refers to putting bad data into the computer and then getting bad data out.
      Using correct data is a must, but so is developing algorithms that accurately project the outcomes.
      In the case of the IPCC, they have failed on both counts: The data is bad and the algorithms are flawed.

  4. Acckkii permalink
    May 15, 2016 9:13 am
    Key Deeds
    August 12, 2005
    “According to a New York Times article, John Christy along with fellow skeptic Roy Spencer admitted they made a mistake in their satellite data research that they said demonstrated a cooling in the troposphere (the earth’s lowest layer of atmosphere). It turned out that the exact opposite was occurring and the troposphere was getting warmer. [6]
    “These papers should lay to rest once and for all the claims by John Christy and other global warming skeptics that a disagreement between tropospheric and surface temperature trends means that there are problems with surface temperature records or with climate models,” said Alan Robock, a meteorologist at Rutgers University.”

    • May 15, 2016 9:51 am

      Interesting you would only tell half the story.
      It’s also interesting you are interjecting something that’s not directly relevant to basing decisions on the use of computers. In fact, it could support the contention not to base decisions on computer outcomes.
      Robock is of course wrong, because any mistake doesn’t negate the fact that there aren’t serious problems with surface temperature data. Christy has addressed the issue of satellite and diurnal drift, and the end result is that current UAH data is very accurate. Far more so than surface temperature data.
      Anthony Watts has provided copious information on why surface temperature data is terribly wrong. Anyone can go to Watts Up With That and do the research to substantiate this statement.

      • Acckkii permalink
        May 15, 2016 1:10 pm

        Everything is relevant here. It’s a real concern when you say everything is doomed from the data to computer models. John Christy and Roy Spencer, are both prominent and honorable men, I like their works because they use models and DATA as well as the others. How could they do their great jobs without it. As I said earlier, it was John Christy that changed the “production techniques” and the “use” of DATA. That’s why they are accurate. I am familiar with the problems of land-based weather stations. It’s about wrong DATA. These DATA could be read incorrectly, intentionally inaccurate, and basically at wrong locations with off-side records. See WUWT records.

  5. Acckkii permalink
    May 15, 2016 9:35 am

    And finally, it isn’t about computer models and DATA only

    William Happer
    Key Quotes

    “There have been similar and even larger warmings several times in the 10,000 years since the end of the last ice age. These earlier warmings clearly had nothing to do with the combustion of fossil fuels. The current warming also seems to be due mostly to natural causes, not to increasing levels of carbon dioxide. Over the past ten years there has been no global warming, and in fact a slight cooling. This is not at all what was predicted by the IPCC models.” [3]

    Key Deeds

    March 29, 2016

    Will Happer was a featured speaker at a conference titled “The Climate Surprise: Why CO2 Is Good for the Earth” hosted by the CO2 Coalition and The New Criterion in New York City. [34]

    According to the event description, “Members of the CO2 Coalition and many other experts argue that carbon dioxide enrichment of the atmosphere provides manifold benefits for humanity. And observed surface warmings are much smaller than predicted by climate models. Economic models that fail to include the benefits of CO2 and the serious exaggerations of climate models and are being used to advocate “cures” that are much worse than the non-existent disease.” [34]

    Videos of the conference are available at The New Criterion’s YouTube page. Featured speakers listed at the event included the following: [34]

    • Will Happer
    • Craig Idso
    • Patrick Moore
    • Ross McKitrick
    • Richard Lindzen
    • Mark Steyn
    • Roger Kimball

    December, 2015

    In an undercover investigation by Greenpeace UK, William Happer agreed to write a report for a (fictional) Middle Eastern oil company on the benefits of CO2 while keeping the sources of the funding secret. In the investigation, Greenpeace reporters posed as representatives from fictional coal and oil companies and approached academics from Princeton and Penn State to ask for papers that would promote the benefits of CO2 while requesting that they conceal funding sources. [32]

    Happer told the Greenpeace reporters that he would be willing to produce research promoting the benefits of carbon dioxide for $250 per hour, while the funding sources could be concealed by routing them through the CO2 Coalition, of which he is a board member. Happer also admitted that a similar method had been used to fund his testimony for a Minnesota state hearing on the impacts of carbon dioxide, for which Peabody Energy paid him $8,000 which was also routed through the CO2 Coalition. [32]

    When reporters asked if the fossil fuel company’s role in the paper could remain hidden, Happer replied:

    “If I write the paper alone, I don’t think there would be any problem stating that ‘the author received no financial compensation for this essay.’” [32]

    • May 15, 2016 9:43 am

      It’s interesting that you will attempt to discredit a person because of possible funding from fossil fuel companies.
      This is the usual tactic of extreme environmentalists. Destroy the messenger, without refuting the message.
      I won’t take the time to investigate whether there is any truth to the Greenpeace accusation.
      The fact is that Harper’s information, confirmed by many scientists, increased amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is good for plant growth.
      Your comment is irrelevant with respect to computer results.
      Interjecting a straw soldier is also a tactic of extreme environmentalists.


  1. Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #226 | Watts Up With That?

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