Climate models predict disaster – but real world evidence shows no such thing
Dr. Jay Lehr & Tom Harris
Speaking at the 13th International Conference on Climate Change, held July 25 in Washington, DC, Dr. Roy W. Spencer of the University of Alabama in Huntsville said: “There is no climate crisis. Even if all the warming we’ve seen in any observational dataset is due to increasing CO2 (carbon dioxide), which I don’t believe it is, it’s probably too small for any person to feel in their lifetime.”
And yet, that same month, Democrat Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Earl Blumenauer and Democrat Senator Bernie Sanders introduced a non-binding resolution that demands a “national, social, industrial and economic mobilization” – to “halt, reverse, mitigate and prepare for the consequences of the climate emergency, and to restore the climate for future generations.” Six Democrat presidential candidates immediately supported the resolution, as a way to spur “sweeping reforms” to stem a “dangerous rise in global temperatures.”
In their view, apparently, asserting a climate emergency makes it a reality and justifies national or even global control and transformation of our energy, social, industrial, economic, legal and social systems.
Thus, in an effort to drum up support for its costly “carbon tax,” the Liberal government of Canada has also declared a climate emergency. So has Britain’s Parliament, to back up a call by opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn for “rapid and dramatic action” to protect the environment , following weeks of protests by the Extinction Rebellion climate movement, the Reuters News Agency reported.
The Climate Mobilization group proclaimed that “Over 790 local governments in 17 countries have declared a climate emergency and committed to action to drive down emissions at emergency speed.”
In considering whether this makes any sense, let’s take a page out of Blumenauer’s book and, as he put it, “tell the truth about the nature of this threat.”
The so-called emergency is based on nothing but the over-active imaginations of activists who put too much faith in computer model forecasts, while ignoring historic records and observational data that tell us nothing extraordinary or unprecedented is happening – and demonstrate that the models are wrong.
NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies asserts that between 1880 and 2017 there has been only slightly more than 1 degree C (1.8 F) rise in the so-called global average temperature, despite a supposed 40% rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) database of state-wide extreme weather records, arguably the best of its kind in the world, shows that so far in 2019 only one weather record has been set: the lowest temperature in Illinois history.
In 2018, the only records set were: the largest hailstone in Alabama history; the most rainfall in a 24-hour period in Hawaii; and the most precipitation in one year in Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina and West Virginia. Many of these records broke, sometimes barely, records that had stood for many decades.
In 2017, the only record set was for the fastest wind gust in California. No records were set in 2016. In 2015, only two records: the most precipitation in a year in Arkansas and the largest hailstone in Illinois history. In 2014, only one record: the most rainfall in a 24-hour period in New York.
And so it goes, year after year, as we move into the past with the occasional state record set, as one would expect due to natural climate variability. In the first 18+ years of the 21st century, only two states recorded their maximum temperatures: South Carolina in 2012 and South Dakota in 2006. Contrast that with 1936, when 15 states set their all-time maximum temperature records.
Meanwhile, NOAA’s updated coastal sea level tide gauge data for 2016 show no evidence that the rate of sea level rise is accelerating. Seas are rising no faster than they have for many decades.
NOAA’s hurricane records go back to 1851. The data show that for almost 12 consecutive years – October 24, 2005 (after Wilma) until August 25, 2017 (Harvey) – not one major or moderate (Category 3-5) hurricane made landfall in the continental United States. That is the longest such period in history. In 2018, for the first time ever, not one “violent” (F4-5) tornado touched down in the United States.
To the great frustration of climate alarmists, the real-world instrumental record clearly shows that, not only is no climate emergency underway, but today’s climate is actually quite stable. Aside from the drive for world socialism, the climate scare is based on only one thing: computer model forecasts of what some say could happen someday if we do not restrict our use of fossil fuels to reduce CO2 emissions.
However, the models do not work. That’s because they focus predominantly on greenhouse gases, and because scientists do not understand planetary climate processes well enough to know what mathematical equations to program into the models. Observations demonstrate that the actual rate of warming between 1979 and 2017 is one-third of what the average of 102 different climate models predicted. In fact, that climate model average is now almost one full degree Fahrenheit above what satellites have measured!
It is also important to realize that your own local weather forecasts just one week ahead are accurate only half the time. Let’s drill a bit deeper into this scandal.
For the better part of three decades, governments have financed more than one hundred efforts to model our planet. They continue to do so even though none of the models has been able to recreate (hindcast) the known past, or after a decade of study accurately predict what was to happen just ten years later.
People are led astray, because generally speaking, the public has no clue what mathematical models actually are, how they work, and what they can and cannot do. To provide a simple insight into this complex subject, before we build airplanes or buildings, we make small scale physical models and test them against the stress and performances that will be required of them when they are actually built.
When dealing with systems that are totally beyond our control, we try to describe them with computer programs or mathematical equations that we hope may give answers to questions we have about how the system works today and in the future. We attempt to understand the variables that affect the system’s operation. Then we alter the variables and see how the outcomes are affected. This is called sensitivity testing and is the very best use of mathematical models.
Historically, we were never foolish enough to make economic decisions based on predictions calculated from equations we think might control how nature works. Perhaps the most active area for mathematical modeling is the economy and stock market. No one has ever succeeded in getting it right, and they have far fewer variables than Earth’s climate, which is governed by many powerful natural forces.
Yet, today, in the climate sphere, we are doing just that – and using the models to justify massive changes in our energy and economic systems. While no one knows all the variables affecting climate, there are likely hundreds of them. Here are some important factors for which we have limited understanding:
1) seasonal, annual and decadal changes in solar irradiation; 2) energy flows between the ocean and atmosphere; 3) energy flows between the air and land; 4) balance between Earth’s water, water vapor and ice; 5) the impacts of clouds, both trapping heat below and preventing solar radiation from reaching Earth; 6) understanding the planet’s ice; 7) changes in mass among ice sheets, seal levels and glaciers; 8) our ability to factor in hurricanes and tornadoes; 9) the impact of vegetation on temperature; 10) tectonic movements on ocean bottoms; 11) differential rotation between Earth’s surface and its core; and 12) solar system magnetic field and gravitational interactions.
Despite this vast uncertainty, today’s modelers claim they can forecast our planet’s climate for decades or even a century in the future – by looking primarily or solely at “greenhouse gases.” And they want our leaders to manage our energy, economic, agricultural, transportation and other systems accordingly.
Yes, there is a climate-related emergency. It is the threat to our way of life in the free democratic world – imposed on us by climate alarmists, many of whom do not really care about climate change, people or the environment. It is an assault no less frightening and damaging than the wars that have plagued mankind since the dawn of time. It’s time for people and governments to stand up to the power-hungry alarmists.
Dr. Jay Lehr is Senior Policy Advisor with of the Ottawa, Canada-based International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC) and former Science Director of The Heartland Institute, in Arlington Heights, Illinois. Tom Harris is Executive Director of ICSC and a policy advisor to Heartland.