Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Climate Models Found Wanting

Science Blog posted a report this morning, "New study increases concerns about climate model reliability"1:

A new study comparing the composite output of 22 leading global climate models with actual climate data finds that the models do an unsatisfactory job of mimicking climate change in key portions of the atmosphere.

Here is a provocative paragraph from the article's body:

The 22 climate models used in this study are the same models used by the UN Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC), which recently shared a Nobel Peace Prize with former Vice President Al Gore.

The news is rather timely, as Gore just gave his Nobel lecture yesterday.

Of course, this is just another example of the a Nobel Committee rewarding ideas that have yet to show their worth. The Prizes have to be awarded to the living and I think this colors the culture of the Committees to favor the hear-and-now even when none of the nominees are all that old or near death. So, the fact that the committee would honor stylish results over truth is built into its constitution.2 But then, Alfred Nobel himself was—like all of us—the product of a here-and-now culture that values results over truth.

Doubtless someone will point out the concluding line of the original journal article's abstract: "These conclusions contrast strongly with those of recent publications based on essentially the same data." But that's exactly my point: the whole field of climate modeling is so riven by uncertainty that no one can really say what to believe. Liberals may well have a point that industry should be regulated, but to use "climate change" as justification at this point is tendentious.3


1. This link includes the contact information for the story (the journal is published by Wiley Interscience). It's on a site run by the AAAS, of all organizations. Maybe this signals an openness to free discussion of climate change on their part?

2. I take consolation from the fact that awardees tend to come from the left side: receiving a prize as big and prestigious as the Nobel would tend to have a stultifying effect on one's future productivity.

3. Today's liberals could well make the point based on a just ordering of the goods of society. Unfortunately, in order to eliminate scruples about some of their favorite "rights" (e.g., to unrestricted sexual license) they've had to jettison not only the notion of the good, but also the notion of the human person for whom and by whom society exists.

David H. Douglass, et al., "A comparison of tropical temperature trends with model predictions," International Journal of Climatology (Online: 5 Dec 2007).

1 comment:

Christopherus said...

Pope condemns climate change prophets of doom: