Guest essay by Eric Worrall
“So, you’re awake. But you’re still going to die”. The first words I heard spoken by my surgeon, waking from general anaesthetic, after a horrific operation to try to repair the mess created by my ruptured appendix.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m very grateful to the surgeon, whose extraordinary skill undoubtably saved my life. But that day I believed his warning. I thought I was going to die. After all, he was a highly qualified surgeon, a credible source of information.
I learned something that week about credibility and evidence. People who follow WUWT might be aware of the flimsiness of the evidence behind sensationalist climate warnings. But most people don’t pay much attention to climate issues. Many of them remain susceptible to authoritative sounding scare stories.
Consider the following;
The world faces widespread food shortages due to global warming: Crops will become scarce as droughts ravage Africa and Asia
Widespread water shortages caused by rising global temperatures could lead to food shortages and mass migration, an expert has warned.
The head of the World Meteorological Society, Michel Jarraud has warned that of all the threats posed by a warming climate, shrinking water supplies are the most serious.
It is predicted that by 2025, some 2.8 billion people will live in ‘water scarce’ areas – a huge rise from the 1.6 billion who do now.
Parts of Africa, the Middle East and Asia will be worst affected, with pockets of Australia, the US and southern Europe also predicted to suffer.
Mr Jarraud told Carbon Brief that although it has been a few years since a spate of major food crises, ‘all the ingredients are there for a food crisis to come back on a very large scale.’
Why isn’t this warning credible? For one thing, climate models have demonstrated no skill whatsoever at predicting climate on a global scale, let alone a regional scale. So making solemn announcements about specific future regional climate events, based on models which cannot demonstrate predictive skill, seems more than a little pointless.
But you have to know that climate models are useless at prediction, to be able to conclude the warning isn’t credible. People don’t have time to research everything they are told. If someone credible tells a person seriously bad news, about an issue of which they have little prior knowledge, many people simply accept what they are told.
I didn’t die – so my surgeon was wrong. Maybe I was just very lucky, though I believe there was another factor working in my favour. Everyone on my father’s side of the family live to an obscenely old age, and rarely get ill. The surgeon told me my appendix had ruptured at least a week before I was admitted to hospital. For most of that week, my immune system fought gangrene and peritonitis to a standstill, doing such a good job, I didn’t even know I was sick.
Even with experience and skill, prediction is a difficult. In my opinion, an authoritative sounding prediction based on unskilled models is downright reprehensible.