The Profound Junk Science of Climate
Climate change prophecy hangs its hat on computer climate models. The models have gigantic problems. According to Kevin Trenberth, once in charge of modeling at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, “[None of the] models correspond even remotely to the current observed climate [of the Earth].” The models can’t properly model the Earth’s climate, but we are supposed to believe that, if carbon dioxide has a certain effect on the imaginary Earths of the many models it will have the same effect on the real earth.
The climate models are an exemplary representation of confirmation bias, the psychological tendency to suspend one’s critical facilities in favor of welcoming what one expects or desires. Climate scientists can manipulate numerous adjustable parameters in the models that can be changed to tune a model to give a “good” result. Technically, a good result would be that the climate model output can match past climate history. But that good result competes with another kind of good result. That other good result is a prediction of a climate catastrophe. That sort of “good” result has elevated the social and financial status of climate science into the stratosphere.
Once money and status started flowing into climate science because of the disaster its denizens were predicting, there was no going back. Imagine that a climate scientist discovers gigantic flaws in the models and the associated science. Do not imagine that his discovery would be treated respectfully and evaluated on its merits. That would open the door to reversing everything that has been so wonderful for climate scientists. Who would continue to throw billions of dollars a year at climate scientists if there were no disasters to be prevented? No, the discoverer of any flaw would be demonized and attacked as a pawn of evil interests. Richard Lindzen and Roy Spencer come to mind. There are many more skeptical scientists keeping quiet in varying degrees.
Testing a model against past history and assuming that it will then predict the future is a methodology that invites failure. The failure starts when the modeler adds more adjustable parameters to enhance the model. At some point, one should ask if we are fitting a model or doing simple curve fitting. If the model has degenerated into curve fitting, it very likely won’t have serious predictive capability.
A strong indicator that climate models are well into the curve fitting regime is the use of ensembles of models. The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) averages together numerous models (an ensemble), in order to make a projection of the future. Asked why they do this rather than try to pick the best model, they say that the ensemble method works better. Why would averaging worse models with the best model make the average better than the best? This is contrary to common sense. But according to the mathematics of curve fitting, if different methods of fitting the same (multidimensional) data are used, and each method is independent but imperfect, averaging together the fits will indeed give a better result. It works better because there is a mathematical artifact coming from having too many adjustable parameters that allow the model to fit nearly anything.
One may not be surprised that the various models disagree dramatically, one with another, about the Earth’s climate, including how big the supposed global warming catastrophe will be. But no model, except perhaps one from Russia, denies the future catastrophe.
There is a political reason for using ensembles. In order to receive the benefits flowing from predicting a climate catastrophe, climate science must present a unified front. Dissenters have to be canceled and suppressed. If the IPCC were to select the best model, dozens of other modeling groups would be left out. They would, no doubt, form a dissenting group questioning the authority of those that gave the crown to one particular model. With ensembles, every group gets to participate in a rewarding conspiracy against humanity.
Fitting the model to climate history comes up against the fact that past climate history is poorly documented or unknown. There are scientific groups that specialize in examining and summarizing the vast trove of past climate history. Their summaries improve on the original data in ways that always seem to support global warming catastrophe. The website realclimatescience.com specializes in exposing this tampering with climate history.
Because so much of climate history is unknown, for example, climate influencing aerosols, the modelers have to make up the missing history. Each modeler is free to make up his own history, so the various models fit different assumed past climates. It would be very surprising if modelers weren’t manipulating their fabricated climates to make their models behave better.
Scientists are always cautioned not to fall in love with a theory or method. If they do, they will lose their objectivity. Facts that support their love will be celebrated, facts that cast doubt on their love will be ignored or forgotten. But if you spend years, or decades, married to a modeling methodology, divorce becomes less and less likely.
The National Academy of Sciences is a private organization in Washington, DC that touts itself as the science advisor to the government. Their advice has some common threads. They never criticize the scientific establishment and they always promote spending more money on science. Like the teachers’ unions, they pretend to support the common good but actually promote their constituency’s special interests.
The Academy sponsored a report on the future of climate modeling. They apparently saw nothing wrong with staffing the study committee with professional climate modelers. The report advocated more money for climate modelers and urged hiring professional public relations people to present results to the public.
The purported climate catastrophe ahead is 100% junk science. If the unlikely climate catastrophe actually happens, it will be coincidental that it was predicted by climate scientists. Most of the supporting evidence is fabricated. There is no out-of-the-ordinary climate change taking place. The constant comparisons of the current climate with preindustrial climate are nonsense because according to climate theory and the models, the effect of CO2 was extremely minor before 1975. Since 1975 nothing points to a climate catastrophe or a new long-term trend.
The fake climate catastrophe has spawned a fake energy paradigm – replacing fossil fuels with wind and solar electricity. Wind and solar are claimed to be cheaper than traditional sources of electricity but non-fake accounting reveals that wind or solar electricity costs five or even ten times more than traditional electricity, exclusive, of course, of government subsidies and mandates. The reason it costs so much is that the erratic nature of wind and solar requires maintaining the traditional electricity generating system intact and ready to operate when wind and solar fail. Solar fails every night, every cloudy day, and more often in winter. Wind fails at random times, or somewhat predictable times, and often has a seasonal cycle. If the renewable energy advocates were logical, they would be advocating for nuclear. Nuclear is reliable and does not produce CO2.
Climate change and wind and solar electricity are a snipe hunts, diverting the country from serious problems in favor of imaginary problems with imaginary solutions that enrich the promoters and their political friends with status and money.
This commentary was first published November 27, 2021 at the American Thinker
Norman Rogers spent 10-years studying climate change and climate change scientists. He is the author of the book Dumb Energy, about wind and solar energy. He is on the board of the CO2 Coalition and was formerly on the board of the National Association of Scholars. He holds a master’s degree in physics.