Issues & Insights

The Global Warming Scare Is Most Certainly Overheated

Does anyone wonder where all the global warming destruction is? After all, the media are unrelenting in telling us how much climate change caused by man is affecting us. Yet no existential threat has emerged. There’s something off with the story.

The climate alarmists have based their predictions of doom on computer models that have been projecting global temperature increases, the likes of which, they tell us, are unsustainable. We must cut our carbon dioxide emissions, even if (actually, especially if) it hurts developed world economies.

This is the narrative we’re bombarded with on a daily basis. And it’s wrong.

Those models that have been used to fuel the fright are, without a doubt, unreliable. According to a recent story published in Nature magazine written by a group of climate modelers, “a subset of the newest generation of models are ‘too hot’ and project climate warming in response to carbon dioxide emissions that might be larger than that supported by other evidence.”

The authors, though, are careful to preserve the narrative, warning that “​​whereas unduly hot outcomes might be unlikely, this does not mean that global warming is not a serious threat.” They can’t help themselves.

While the modelers in the Nature article point specifically to problems with “a subset of the newest generation of models,” it’s obvious that the older models are no better. Last fall we covered a ScienceDaily report which noted that some researchers had concluded “a possible flaw in climate models” had been exposed, as the models failed to reproduce an observed event.

“When the history of climate modeling comes to be written in some distant future,” economist Robert L. Bradley Jr. wrote some months ago for the American Institute for Economic Research, “the major story may well be how the easy, computable answer turned out to be the wrong one, resulting in overestimated warming and false scares from the enhanced (man-made) greenhouse effect.”

Despite claims of models’ near infallibility, their record is tainted:

  • Two years ago, a University of Michigan study found “that some of the latest-generation climate models may be overly sensitive to carbon dioxide increases and therefore project future warming that is unrealistically high.”
  • In 2017, economist David Henderson and consultant Charles Hooper wrote under the headline “Flawed Climate Models” that the “elaborate computer models that use physics to calculate how energy flows into, through, and out of our planet’s land, water, and atmosphere” have “serious limitations that drastically limit their value in making predictions and in guiding policy.” 
  • Eight years ago, Reason’s Ronald Bailey wrote about “​​Ugly Climate Models,” noting that the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was unable to “explain the last 15 years.”

“Most temperature records show that since 1998 the models and observed average global temperatures have parted ways,” Bailey wrote. “The temperatures in the models continue to rise, while the real climate has refused to warm up much during the last 15 years.”

  • Simply averaging the many climate models “to come up with the forecast for warming in the 21st century,” as has been done over and again, is a poor practice, because “there is now evidence that giving equal weight to each available model projection is suboptimal.” The modelers behind the Nature article made the same point three years later, emphasizing that it’s appropriate to give “more weight to those that agreed with historical temperature observations.”
  • A decade ago, Richard Lindzen, then the Alfred P. Sloan professor of meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s department of earth, atmospheric and planetary sciences, said real-world observations and the models were not in sync. “We’ve already seen almost the equivalent of a doubling of CO2 (in radiative forcing) and that has produced very little warming.”

The hot models have contributed to a hot mess of climate predictions, which is more feature than bug for the alarmists, who long ago reached the point that they would say anything to further their agenda.

— Written by the I&I Editorial Board

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I & I Editorial Board

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

23 comments

  • “According to a recent story published in Nature magazine written by a group of climate modelers, ‘a subset of the newest generation of models are ‘too hot’ and project climate warming in response to carbon dioxide emissions that might be larger than that supported by other evidence.’”

    The models have ALWAYS been ‘too hot’. There is a graph that plots the predictions of all the major climate models over the past 20 years as well as plotting actual temperature measurements during the same period.

    The only model that even came close to the observed and recorded reality was one from Russia. Why was it close? Because it predicted very little warming.

  • I covered climate science for 15 years for several publications. In 2017, I published a commentary on the issue based on what I learned during that time. Let’s just say I remain convinced that climate change is real — but not the narrative currently being pushed in the media and by the left. Here is a link to Part 1 (of 4) of that commentary: file:///C:/Users/Phil/Documents/My%20Laptop%20Documents/Sacrificing%20Scientific%20Skepticism%20%20Climate%20Patterns%20-%20Capital%20Research%20Center.htm

  • Ambient atmosphere 380 ppm. Dinosaurs 2,000 to 7,000 ppm. Exhale 40,000 ppm. Space shuttle alarm 5,000 ppm. Submarine alarm 7,000 ppm. Enhanced green houses 1200 ppm. Life ceases 150 ppm. Everything’s fine.

    • It reminds me of what a PhD chemist told me while working at a Gulf Coast chemical company way back in the day. Oxygen is deadly at less than 100 ppm; think about it.

  • None of the models can work because they overlook the single most important driver of climate: the Sun. 50 years ago there was no “climate science” because it was universally understood that the Sun drives climate.
    The Russians (viz., Zharkov) have always understood the importance of solar variations to the Earth’s climate; maybe that’s why their models are the most accurate. BTW, the Russians are predicting a deep solar minimum that will last for at least 25 years. I think the Great Lakes and the Hudson River could freeze over (like they did during the Maunder Minimum), and the alarmists would still scream about Global Warming.

    • Climate models do take into account the sun. Take a very simple model for radiative equilibrium:

      (1 – albedo) * S = 4 * emissivity * sigma (Stefan-Boltzmann Constant) * Temperature^4

      The S represents the solar constant and so the left hand side is the incoming solar energy while the right hand side is the outgoing energy from Earth. This is very simplistic but even at this level you can clearly see that the Sun is fundamental to the most basic of models.

      It is readily accepted by the “consensus” on climate change, as represented by the intergovernmental reports, that changes in solar output, or other solar related cycles, have impacted climate change in both the recent and distant past. But there appears a clear divergence with last half of the 20th century warming as the signal of human induced warmings starts to affect global temperatures while solar output did not change significantly to account for this.

  • One factor that climate alarmists always ignore is that even if they were right, the benefits of a warmer climate strongly outweigh any negatives. Why do you think the dinosaurs grew so large? Their warmer climate and abundant CO2 supported so much more food than the earth supports today.

  • The IPCC still uses 30 models to make predictions. That alone is enough to disparage any prediction they make.

  • I predict another 50 years of completely frightening (to the indoctrinated ignoramuses on the left-behind side of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness) BS from global warmongers.

  • The earth is not a garbage can. It’s a washing machine. Earth has had incredible Volcanic activity during it’s lifetime and has cleaned up the mess every time. Mt St Hellens spews more pollution every day than the entire state of Washington and not a bit of death and destruction recorded from it. Atoms are atoms, and the Earth breaks everything down to the basics and blends them into the air, sea and land for reuse every day. One eruption of Mt. Penetubo spewed more pollution into the system than all of human activity combined. I know, logic doesn’t work with liberals. Sorry.

  • It’s possible that putting more CO2 into the atmosphere will have no devastating effects. What is certain, however, is that the energy policies put into place to reduce man’s CO2 production will be economically devastating for hundreds of millions of people.

  • ‘…emphasizing that it’s appropriate to give “more weight to those that agreed with historical temperature observations.”
    IOW, a computer model that is unable to history-match is a flawed model.
    And until those climate models can history-match the last two-dozen ice ages (and intervening warming periods), then they are worthless.

  • Climate change theory has been historically based upon, emotion, politics, and the IPCC computer modeling, which has consistently been proven wrong year after year after year. When one thinks about it carefully, it’s almost impossible to measure temperature and co2 across large geographic areas spatially and temporally with any accuracy at all, given the vast number of variables which interact in a chaotic manner to produce the results desired. I mention “results desired” because the warmists have already decided the issue and their control of it to the detriment of the general population, before any attempts at measurement are taken. These measurements need to be taken over a minimum of 50-100 years to detect any consistent pattern, something that is never done in today’s modern world of completing a narrative with no basis in reality. Rather we get far left fear mongers making public statements that are ridiculous in nature, when subject to any real scientific investigation. In 2022, the real issue is carbon credits and power, not science. Don’t forget it!

    • The thing for me is that we measure co2 in one place and temperature in a few places and then homogenize or smear the data to all points in between using a software that nobody on these pages has ever professed to understand.

  • I’ll believe that climate change is a crisis when the people who keep telling me climate change is a crisis start acting like climate change is a crisis.

  • Predicting the future is not science. Science is all about measurement and observation. A scientific theory stands or falls depending upon whether or not it is supported by the results of measurements and observation. But how do you take measurements in the future? How do you observe the future? Some “climate modelers” seem to be conflating computer simulation with the collection of actual data. They run computer simulations that purport to predict what will happen to planet earth many years into the future and then they present the results as if they are the equivalent of actual measurement and observation, as if to say, “Here is the data that we have collected from the future. And it is worse than we thought!”. But that is not the scientific method, and the future never actually turns out as predicted.

  • CO2 causing climate change is a Modern Mythology. It is a Mythology cloaked in the Holy Robes of Science for atheistic worship. It is all about money and politics. Carbon is easy to tax and regulate. Taxation & Regulation = Political Power.

    Never mind that water vapor (e.g. cloud cover) is a bigger variable, as it is too hard to model and so is left out of computer models. Never mind solar variations, which are also more important than CO2, as not subject to sanctions, remedies or taxes and so can be ignored. Never mind the widespread clearing of forests that absorb CO2 and cool the climate. Never mind that the thermometers measuring climate change are located mostly near cities (blacktop heat sinks) warmer than the rest of the planet, skewing computer models to the warm side. Never mind that 33% of the variables causing climate change are unknown (it is called natural variation) and like water vapor are omitted from the computer models. Never mind that carbon is ubiquitous, the basis of plant and animal proteins, hormones, metabolism, etc. Truth is secondary, and is ignored when it is inconvenient and does not lead to attaining Political Power. CO2 and apocalyptic visions of planetary doom are a Useful Mythology for those interested in attaining Political Power. COVID, Climate, CO2, whatever works is used.

  • “In sum, a strategy must recognise what is possible. In climate research and modelling, we should recognise that we are dealing with a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore that the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible.”

    So stated the IPCC’s Working Group I: The Scientific Basis, Third Assessment Report (TAR), Chapter 14 (final para., 14.2.2.2), p774.

  • Trying to blame everything from Robberies to Burnt Toast on Global Warming, Climate Change proving those Eco-Freaks are out of their minds

  • This article states “models…are…unreliable”. To justify this it refers to a Nature article which talks about the likely unreliability of models that predict equilibrium climate sensitivity above 5 degs C. This argument is a fallacy because it is a faulty generalization. That is, it’s a generalization about “models” based on weak evidence: models that predict equilibrium sensitivity above 5 deg C. The average equilibrium sensitivity that supports the “consensus” on climate change is 3 degrees C. In other words it’s a nothing-burger or an argument. It has always been known that models at the high end were possible but less probable.

    The next argument refers to a University of Cambridge study that refers to the failure of models generally to predict early Atlantification (flow of warm salty water from Atlantic into the arctic) at the beginning of the 20th century. According to the article the models have been “exposed” because they failed to predict an “observed event”. This argument is both a straw man and a case of cherry picking. A model by definition is a simplified description of a system.

    There is a scene from the film Zoolander where there is a model for the “Derek Zoolander Centre for Children who can’t read good”. Zoolander whacks the model off the table and asks “What is this? A Centre for Ants!?”. Referring to the fact the model is not a scale model. That kind of absurd stupidity is the same kind of straw man here. Climate models have never claimed to be infallible at reproducing observed events. They are by definition simplified descriptions of a system. Finding where they disagree with observed events is the normal way these models are refined and improved upon.

    Every model will inevitably have instances where the model disagrees with observation. For instance you can fire a projectile using Newton’s laws and it will be reasonably accurate for many applications. But if you want improved accuracy provided by fast-travelling satellites that give global positioning, then you need to take into account relativistic time-dilation. Doesn’t mean Newton’s laws are wrong or “unreliable”. They just have limits like all scientific models. Cherry picking instances where models are, in fact, wrong does not mean the model is useless, it just provides further opportunity to improve their accuracy or to identify the limits of their usefulness.

    Climate change predictions are a complex combination of many independent strands of evidence that integrate to give us a probable overall outcome. Probable means the outcome isn’t a certainty of course, but it remains probable and logically it is information upon which we should base our decisions. 3 degrees equilibrium sensitivity may be better than 5 degrees. But it’s still something to be concerned about, as are the economic considerations for any attempt to try to mitigate the climate risk.

    It’s also worth noting the warmest 7 years on record have all been since 2015. This is in contrast to forecasts of cooling made by “climate skeptics” in the 2000s based on cherry picking short term climate trends from an exceptionally warm year in 1998. Global warming is a reality and we need to engage with that evidence while keeping an open mind to the less probable outcomes as well, such as very high climate sensitivity or very low climate sensitivity.

    • As I pointed out above, even the IPCC have stated that models of coupled non-linear chaotic systems are not amenable to prediction, so all such models are by definition worthless.

      You may also be interested by the more recent estimates by scientists of the increase in temperature expected from a doubling of atmospheric CO2 concentration.

      https://postlmg.cc/47w6x3Cg

      Note that the names of the researchers and dates of the relevant papers are given.

      It is instructive to consider the effect of extrapolating the ECS and TCR trends out to 2025-2030.

      In any case, as it is clear that a function that is described such that a doubling on the X axis results in an incremental increase on the Y axis is logarithmic, hence will rapidly become asymptotic to the X axis, so it is highly likely that much of the warming effect will already have taken place.

    • “Never forget that the average temperature of the Earth is calculated from all of its climates, ranging from the icy cold of the polar regions to the hottest deserts- from about -90 C to 60 C, and that the average is dominated by the 70% of the Earth’s surface that is ocean…” James Lovelock.

      Lovelock is the scientist who invented the instruments that measure trace gases in the atmosphere and make the whole climate debate possible. Quote from his 2014 book: A Rough Ride to the Future. Well worth reading, as very concise and extremely well-written by a global warming guy who values the truth and facts and eschews faux science climate propaganda.

      The point of the quote being: These global warming averages have little local meaning. For example, Singapore is already 12 C or double the global doomsday temperature and thriving, as they learned to adapt. So much for the Doomsday Cult of Global Warming, which excels mainly in extracting subsidy money from governments. Arguably, $40 billion for climate subsidies is better for the environment than $40 billion from the USA congress for missiles, artillery, ammo and drones to turn Ukraine into rubble and reduce the European economies to a lower, less polluting level.

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