Issues & Insights
Robert A. Rohde

If COVID-19 Models Are Unreliable, What Does This Mean For Climate Models?

I&I Editorial

It wasn’t long ago, just in recent days, in fact, that we were being told the coronavirus was going to kill more than 2 million Americans. But some researchers are indicating the forecasts of doom were driven by faulty models.

What then, are we supposed to make of the models that have been fueling the global warming hysteria?

The forecast used to predict 2.2 million U.S. deaths and 510,00 deaths in Great Britain was produced by Imperial College in London. It is “the epidemiological modeling which has informed policymaking in the United Kingdom and other countries in recent weeks.”

OK, but is the information reliable? Epidemiologist Sunetra Gupta is doubtful.

“I am surprised that there has been such unqualified acceptance of the Imperial model,” he said in the Financial Times.

Gupta’s team of researchers at Oxford believe both the hospitalization and mortality rates are much lower than the worst estimates, and immunity is more widespread than previously thought.

The Wall Street Journal has published an op-ed from professors of medicine at Stanford who said “projections of the death toll” reaching 2 million to 4 millon “could plausibly be orders of magnitude too high.” They believe “epidemiological modelers haven’t adequately adapted their estimates to account for” a number of important factors.

We can’t say for sure which model has it right. Will deaths be in the millions? Or will coronavirus be less lethal than the seasonal flu?

But we can say that at least one of the models is wrong.

So what does this tell us about the climate models that officials keep telling us are evidence that man is overheating his only planet? The lesson is that we shouldn’t put our full trust in the global warming alarmists’ claims. But then independent thinkers have known for some time the climate models are far from perfect:

  • Six years ago, Reason’s Ronald Bailey noted that “most temperature records show that since 1998 the models and observed average global temperatures have parted ways. The temperatures in the models continue to rise, while the real climate has refused to warm up much during the last 15 years.
  • In 2017, Bailey reported that, according to a “fascinating new study” in Nature Geoscience, “climate computer model projections of future man-made warming due to human emissions of carbon dioxide are running too hot.”
  • Last year, John Christy, a professor of atmospheric science and director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in Hunstville, told the British Parliament “an early look at some of the latest generation of climate models reveals they are predicting even faster warming. This is simply not credible.”
  • Also last year, author Guy Sorman wrote in City Journal the models used by United Nations scientists cannot “explain why the climate suddenly cooled between 1950 and 1970, giving rise to widespread warnings about the onset of a new ice age.”
  • Christy’s university colleague Roy Spencer, a former NASA climate scientist, says “global warming projections have a large element of faith programmed into them” because “we have no idea how much warming” is caused by carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas the political left has chosen to vilify.
  • A little more than a year ago, climate researcher Patrick J. Michaels noted the authors of a paper published in Nature Climate Change “show that the aggregate models are making huge errors in three of the places on earth that are critical to our understanding of climate.”

Despite the healthy skepticism from scientists who have been studying the climate for decades and have held prominent academic positions, the Democrat-media powered narrative never sleeps. But that’s what we expect from those who are ever searching for a crisis to take advantage of.

— Written by J. Frank Bullitt

We Could Use Your Help

Issues & Insights was founded by seasoned journalists of the IBD Editorials page. Our mission is to provide timely, fact-based reporting and deeply informed analysis on the news of the day -- without fear or favor.

We’re doing this on a voluntary basis because we believe in a free press, and because we aren't afraid to tell the truth, even if it means being targeted by the left. Revenue from ads on the site help, but your support will truly make a difference in keeping our mission going. If you like what you see, feel free to visit our Donations Page by clicking here. And be sure to tell your friends!

You can also subscribe to I&I: It's free!

Just enter your email address below to get started.


I & I Editorial Board

The Issues and Insights Editorial Board has decades of experience in journalism, commentary and public policy.


  • Climate scientists are paid to produce doomsday scenarios to be used by politicians. If they don’t produce, their funding dries up.

    • And the Koch brothers used a goodly sum out of their $70 billion fortune to claim global warming was unreal as did many coal and oil companies whose collective worth is in the trillions.

      • Well hell must have frozen over because the Koch brothers are right on this one.

  • I have a little experience with biological models. They often work, before they don’t!

  • One thing about fossil fuels that has nothing to do with climate change and is here and now, is all the illnesses and deaths due to fossil fuels and chemicals put into the air, water, and soil. This is preventable to a great degree, and if there is damage to the earth from fossil fuels it would be an extra advantage in addition to less respiratory deaths and disease if we drastically cut back on fossil fuels. This is not a model. This should not be controversial except in regards to really saving lives vs. business as usual.

    • Common sense measures to improve the environment are one thing – the Draconian measures called for by the hysterical tree-huggers and lefties would put us back in the stone-age.

    • Ikr? No one has ever been saved by the use of petroleum or coal!! Those hospitals run on unicorn farts! And fire trucks and ambulances can be run with hamster wheels!! You are probably powering the computer that you posted on with a windmill!

    • Fossil Fuels have advanced society and actually improved life of the planet. It touches every aspect of the planet from more food by less workers to ability of surviving in harsh environments you have no clue how easy your life is made from the fossil fuel industry.

  • As to my credentials: I have two PhDs. One in statistics. I taught at the University of California. One of the major problems with the climate models is the use of Gaussian statistics (The bell curve and all that). For Gaussian statistics to work properly, you must have random observations which are independent from each other. The temperature in Los Angeles affecypts the temperature in Las Vegas. Observations taken from those two places are not independent–They are related. This is true for all temperature readings.

    Gaussian statistics used in this fashion yields inaccurate results. What is needed is Mandlebroten (fractal) statistics. Mandlebroten statistics are not normally taught in science programs–The methods are highly complex.

    I gave a presentation to NOAA on this issue. After the presentation, the gentleman in charge said to me, “Dr. Ashley, you just understand our situation.” He was right, I do not understand the situation the NOAA finds itself in. However, I do understand that their situation has nothing to do with science.

    • Looking at the world with statistics tells you nothing about anything but numbers. I suggest you actually read the IPCC Report Summary.

    • I’m just interested in getting the highschool classical experimental analytical physics demonstrated and implemented . Planetary temperature like any parameter is precisely calculable by classical macroscopic physical law . Mean temperature of a radiantly heated ball in a vacuum is a particularly simple case . The correlation of power spectra of the sources and sinks with the absorptivity=emissivity determines radiative equilibrium . And those basic experimentally demonstrable bits of algebra particularly applied to the case of Venus show quantitative absurdity of the spectral GreenHouse paradigm .
      The anti-science AlGoreWarming global statist cult , exemplified by Hansen et al , 1981 , tries to claim , without equation derivation or experimental demonstration , for its GHG falsehood the approximately 33c difference between that equilibrium and our estimated surface temperature , which is due to the adiabatic trade-off of gravitational and kinetic energy and calculable by Newton’s 330 year old universal Law of Gravity which applies to molecules as well as satellites . Very little of the variance is left to be due to the slight variations in our spectrum due to the change from ~ 3 molecules to 4 per 10k of air of the CO2 which is so spectacularly greening the planet .

      Statistics only comes into play in analysis of observation to confirm or confront our understanding of the quantitative physics . It’s not the sort of agricultural or social experiment of the sort that motivated RA Fisher , There are exact computable analytical Right answers .

  • Climate will do what climate will do as it has for hundreds of millions of years. Meanwhile, decisions and policy need to be based on hard fact.

    There are some crucial, verifiable facts – with citations – about human-generated carbon dioxide and its effect on global warming – and what those hundreds of millions of years have to tell us – people need to know and understand at

    The discussion is too long to post here but is a quick and easy read. I recommend following the links in the citations; some of them are very educational.

    • You assume there are “verifiable facts” going back a hundred million years? That’s incorrect. We have some extensive data going back about 60 years, and about 100 years before that we’ve had temperature only from the US and parts of Europe but not the whole world. And the base data has been kept at the CRU of East Anglia Univ. where it is hoarded by Dr. Jones, but he has been quoted as saying that he will not share that data and if someone forces the issue through UK’s Freedom of Information, he will destroy the data (a la HRC). Doesn’t instill a lot confidence in the “verifiable facts” if no one else is allowed to actually verify the very limited base data everyone uses. Ice samples can tell some things occurring at the surface but zero about the atmospheric conditions which are a significant element and extensive ice samples from all over the world are needed to determine global occurrences, otherwise you’ll just get regional surface histories.
      And, the CERN 2011 Cloud Experiment, before they politically scrubbed, reinterpreted and reworded the results, determined that the overwhelming impact to Earth’s climate is the activities of the Sun, that while man has does have some minimal impact, it is minute compared to that of the Sun.
      Also, see what Dr. Mototaka Nakamura says about climate modelling:

  • As electrical engineer we use models to predict the performance of circuits way before they are build and the models we use are quite accurate . However one must understand how models are developed in order to judge the accuracy of models used in any simulation !
    The way this works is that experts in the field develop a simulation model they deem to be accurate , this model is then used to simulate a device , the device is build usually in a Qty of 5-10pcs , those devices are then measured in a tightly controlled enviroment , the test results are then analyzed and compared to the predicted performance , if they agree (and usually they do not on the first pass ) the model is considered validated and can be used , if not than the developer tries to understand why the model is off and changes the model to fit the measured results , once this is done a second round of devices is build and the game starts again until simulation and reality agree !
    The problem with climate models is that there is no validation other than comparing the predicted results with the actual climate at a given time but since the climate can not be controlled and differs between countries and often regions it is virtually impossible to validate models that way much less using one model as a universal model worldwide , a climate model that was developed in australia for example may not be valid for the US just like a climate model developed in the US may not be accurate for china

  • Don’t forget about hurricane models. Can’t effectively predict 2 days out.

  • There are some scientists who think the world is flat too. Any can find someone to say anything untrue, the like the Holocaust is made up or that the school shooting is unreal.

    • Please state one single scientist that thinks the world is flat. If I can verify it I might reconsider all your rediculous remarks.

  • I just care about the most basic physics .
    Bottoms of atmospheres are hotter than their planet+atmosphere radiative balance by the adiabatic trade-off of gravity acting on the mass of the atmosphere and kinetic energy , ~ 33c for Earth , 400c for Venus .
    Symmetric EM spectral effects cannot trap a gradient . The variation in our spectrum due to changes in CO2 at these already optically saturated levels , at sea level , can make only indiscernible changes in our spectrum and thus mean temperature .

    Gravity cannot be left out of the equations for energy balance w/o violating Conservation of Energy .
    Yet the GHG paradigm does . It is false .

  • Isn’t the question in the headline asked backward? Shouldn’t it read that since virtually all of the pending dooms day climate models have been proven inaccurate of just wrong, should we believe any covid-19 models?

About Issues & Insights

Issues & Insights is run by the seasoned journalists behind the legendary IBD Editorials page. Our goal is to bring our decades of combined journalism experience to help readers understand the top issues of the day. We’re doing this on a voluntary basis, because we believe the nation needs the kind of cogent, rational, data-driven, fact-based commentary that we can provide. 

We Could Use Your Help

Help us fight for honesty in journalism and against the tyranny of the left. Issues & Insights is published by the editors of what once was Investor's Business Daily's award-winning opinion pages. If you like what you see, leave a donation by clicking on donate button above. You can also set up regular donations if you like. Ad revenue helps, but your support will truly make a difference. (Please note that we are not set up as a charitable organization, so donations aren't tax deductible.) Thank you!
%d bloggers like this: