Sad Track Record of Alarmist Climate Models Becoming Evident

Sad Track Record of Alarmist Climate Models Becoming Evident
February 17, 2014

Jay Lehr, Ph.D.

Jay Lehr, Ph.D. (jlehr@heartland.org) is science director at The Heartland Institute, an... (read full bio)

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) uses 117 mathematical models to predict man’s future impact on our climate. The models do not agree with one another to any reasonable extent, and real-world temperatures continue to run lower than the models’ predictions. That being the case, there is certainly no sound basis for using the climate models as a justification for economy-destroying restrictions on carbon dioxide emissions.

Better by the Dozen?
If a single climate model could accurately predict the future climate with a high confidence level, the United Nations would need only one such model. The UN’s reliance on 117 self-contradictory models clearly disputes the assertion “the science is settled.”

Taking the average prediction of the 117 separate models does not improve the situation. None has come close to accurately predicting recent temperatures. All have predicted far more warming than has occurred.

The cumulative prediction of 117 climate models is no more compelling than the prediction of any single flawed climate model. One climate model is more likely to miss its target by random variation. When all 117 miss their target, random variation has been taken out of the equation. Unmistakably, then, the UN climate models rely on false assumptions programmed into their equations.

UN Scientists Recognize Flaws
Even some of the UN’s own climate experts recognize the models’ glaring flaws.

“According to most climate models, we should have seen temperatures rise by around 0.25 degrees Celsius (0.45 degrees Fahrenheit) over the past 10 years. That hasn't happened. In fact, the increase over the last 15 years was just 0.06 degrees Celsius (0.11 degrees Fahrenheit)—a value very close to zero," IPCC lead author Hans von Storch observed last June in the German magazine der Speigel. "This is a serious scientific problem that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will have to confront when it presents its next Assessment Report late next year.”

"At my institute, we analyzed how often such a 15-year stagnation in global warming occurred in the simulations. The answer was: in under 2 percent of all the times we ran the simulation. In other words, over 98 percent of forecasts show CO2 emissions as high as we have had in recent years leading to more of a temperature increase," Storch continued.

"If things continue as they have been, in five years, at the latest, we will need to acknowledge that something is fundamentally wrong with our climate models. A 20-year pause in global warming does not occur in a single modeled scenario. But even today, we are finding it very difficult to reconcile actual temperature trends with our expectations," Storch observed.

Global temperatures have remained flat since Storch made his statement nearly a year ago.

Bureaucracy, Lobbyists Carry On
Yet with all this predictive failure, the IPCC bureaucracy chooses to take an average of these 117 failed models and say the organization is more certain than ever in the models’ predictive accuracy.

This would be laughable were governments of the world not bankrupting their citizens by imposing costly energy restrictions in the name of fighting the nonexistent global warming crisis. Politically connected wind power, solar power, and other “green” industries extort taxpayer subsidies on the front end and then have government force people to buy their exorbitantly expensive products on the back end. Big Green accumulates wealth and power while the common people get stuck with the bill. In far too many countries, and even in the United States, this bill comes at the expense of healthy nutrition, quality housing, lifesaving health care, and the many helpful goods and services that make life more enjoyable and longer-lasting.

Environmentalism Turned Upside Down
Replacing the small footprint of a standard 1,000 megawatt coal- or natural gas-fired power plant requires 300 square miles of wind turbines or 175 square miles of solar power equipment. On top of that, new transmission lines must usually be built across previously unspoiled landscape to bring wind and solar power from high-wind and high-sunlight areas to metropolitan areas. Unlike coal and natural gas power plants, you can’t just plop hundreds of square miles of solar and wind facilities anywhere you please. Nevertheless, the beat goes on to demonize and eliminate affordable, environmentally beneficial coal and natural gas power plants in favor of expensive and environmentally destructive—but politically favored—wind and solar power.

Truth Is Winning Out
The American people are smart enough catch on to this nonsense. Renewable power subsidies and mandates have had their time in the sun, but you can’t hide the truth forever. Congress is increasingly standing up to renewable power lobbyists and is considering phasing out wind power’s massive taxpayer subsidies. State legislatures across the nation are considering rolling back the renewable power mandates they rushed to implement less than a decade ago.

Recent technological advances in oil and natural gas recovery from shale rock are accelerating these trends by making oil and natural gas power even more abundant and affordable than in decades past. The case for expensive subsidies and guaranteed market share for expensive renewable power is becoming weaker by the day.

Truth and common sense can and will win out. Wind and solar farms will ultimately stand idle as monuments to the folly of the near-religious faith in the UN’s stunningly flawed climate prediction models.

Jay Lehr, Ph.D. (lehr@heartland.org) is science director of The Heartland Institute.

Jay Lehr, Ph.D.

Jay Lehr, Ph.D. (jlehr@heartland.org) is science director at The Heartland Institute, an... (read full bio)