Inside The Bayesian Priory

Here are a few random quotes and thoughts about the paper called An observation-based scaling model for climate sensitivity estimates and global projections to 2100. This was the first statement that caught my eye:

We estimate the model and forcing parameters by Bayesian inference which allows us to analytically calculate the transient climate response and the equilibrium climate sensitivity as: 1.7+0.3−0.2  K and 2.4+1.3−0.6  K respectively (likely range).

I always get nervous when someone says that they are using “Bayesian inference”. The problem is not with the Bayesian theory, which is correct. It basically says that the probability of something happening depends in part on what went before, called the “Bayesian Priors”. And clearly, in many situations this is true.

The problem is in the choice of the priors. This depends on human judgement, plus some pre-existing theory as to what is going on … I’m sure you can see the problems with that. First, human judgment is … well … let me call it “not universally correct” and leave it at that. And next … just what pre-existing theory of climate are we supposed to use when we are investigating the theory of climate?

Then came this statement.

The ecological consequences of global warming could be dire; therefore, better constraining climate sensitivity is of utmost importance in order to meet the urgency of adjusting economical and environmental policies.

This one makes the sweat break out on my forehead, because it is one of the fundamental building blocks of a whole host of theories … but it is rarely supported by even the flimsiest of evidence. It is just stated as undeniable truth, as in this paper. They do not make even the slightest attempt to justify it. 

Every realistic description that I’ve read about the gradual warming over the last three centuries or so contains some verifiable facts:

  • Things are warmer now than during the Little Ice Age.
  • In general that increased warmth has been a benefit for man, beasts, and plants alike.
  • There have been no “climate catastrophes” from that warming.

Couple that with the following data …

… and it becomes very difficult to believe that “the ecological consequences of global warming could be dire”.

Confronted with these facts, the fallback position of the alarmists is usually “But mah sea level! Mah sea level is gonna drown everyone” … however, as I’ve shown over and over, even the longest sea level records don’t show any acceleration due to the warming.

So we are starting out from way behind, crippled by false assumptions. And these false assumptions, these “Bayesian priors” are driven by the initial mistake made by the IPCC, what I’ve termed the “Picasso Problem”. Picasso said 

“What good are computers? They can only give you answers …

At first I didn’t either understand this or believe it. I mean, I’m a computer guy, why is a painter questioning my computer use? … but eventually I saw that looking for the right answers is not what we should be doing. What we should be focusing on instead is looking for the right questions. As the old saying goes, “Ask a stupid question, get a stupid answer.”

And tragically, the IPCC at its inception was asked the wrong question. When IPCC was first set up, it was tasked to answer the question:

“What level of CO2 is dangerous to humanity??”

In fact, they should have been tasked to answer the question:

“Is increasing CO2 a danger to humanity?”

And obviously, the current paper suffers from the same problem—it is answering the wrong question … and not only that, it is answering the question with computers …

For the next issue, let me preface it with a few definitions from the paper:

Emergent properties of the Earth’s climate, i.e. properties which are not specified a priori, are then inferred from GCM simulations. The equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS) is such a property; it refers to the expected temperature change after an infinitely long time following a doubling in carbon dioxide (CO2) atmospheric concentration. Another is the transient climate response (TCR), which is defined as the change in temperature after a gradual doubling of CO2 atmospheric concentration over 70 years at a rate of 1% per year.

With those definitions, they go on:

Since the United States National Academy of Sciences report (Charney et al. 1979), the likely range for the ECS has not changed and remains [1.5,4.5] 𝐾.

The problem with this is that they say it as though it was a good thing … when in fact it is a clear indication that they are operating on false assumptions. In fact, as they are clearly unwilling to admit, the likely range has increased, not stayed the same. You can see this issue below:

And this increase in the range of the equilibrium climate sensitivity should be a huge danger signal. I mean, in what other field of science has there not only been no advance in forty years on a central question, but in fact the uncertainty has increased? I know of no scientific field other than climate science in which this is true. 

They continue:

Future anthropogenic forcing is prescribed in four scenarios, the Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs), established by the IPCC for CMIP5 simulations : RCP 2.6, RCP 4.5, RCP 6.0 and RCP 8.5 (Meinshausen et al. 2011). They are named according to the total radiative forcing in Wm−2 expected in the year 2100 and are motivated by complex economic projections, expected technological developments, and political decisions.

There are a couple of problems with this. First, these assumptions of future forcings form another part of the Bayesian priors discussed above. And given that these priors are based on “complex economic projections, expected technological developments, and political decisions“, they are infinitely adjustable to match the desires and theories of the investigators.

A more fundamental problem, however, is the relationship between the forcings and the response of the models. As Kiehl pointed out over a decade ago in “Twentieth Century Climate Model Response and Climate Sensitivity”:

It is found that the total anthropogenic forcing for a wide range of climate models differs by a factor of two and that the total forcing is inversely correlated to climate sensitivity. Much of the uncertainty in total anthropogenic forcing derives from a threefold range of uncertainty in the aerosol forcing used in the simulations.

This is a crucial paper which has been conspicuously ignored by scientists in the field. It says that if you assume larger forcings, the model shows a smaller climate sensitivity, and vice versa. Not only that, but as I showed in Life Is Like A Black Box Of Chocolates, the relationship between the forcings and the model output is both linear and ridiculously simple, viz:

The outputs of the climate models are very well emulated by a simple lagged and scaled version of the inputs. 

Here is an example of my analysis showing how well the model output can be emulated by that absurdly simple formula:

This formula has only three tuned parameters—lambda (the scaling factor), tau (the lag factor), and a volcanic adjustment. (Curiously, the current paper agrees that there needs to be a volcanic adjustment, saying “the instantaneous temperature response [to the eruptions] is weaker than expected using linear response theory.”)

This shows that with all of their complexity, the outcome of the climate models can be almost perfectly emulated by a simple formula. And another implication is that the calculations of equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS) and transient climate response (TCR) from the outputs of these models are completely meaningless … as supported by the fact that there has been no progress made in refining the estimates of ECS and TCR over the last forty years.

In continuing to read, I finally lost both the plot and all further interest in the paper when they said (emphasis mine):

In order to make progress, Hasselmann et al. (1997) proposed a response function consisting of a sum of N exponentials – effectively an N box model (although without using differential equations: the boxes were only implicit). Nevertheless, they ultimately chose 𝑁=3 out of practical necessity—so as to fit GCM outputs.

To translate that, they are defining reality on the basis of whether or not their description of reality matches the output of computer models … and at that point, I quit reading. 

Seriously, I could go no further. Any study claiming that a description of reality is only worthwhile if it matches the output of absurdly simplistic climate models is not worth my time to investigate.

Best holiday regards to all on this day after Christmas,


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Ron Long
December 26, 2020 2:25 pm

I think you, and everyone else, Willis, are right to stay away from the New Reality. This New Reality seems to be centered on feelings instead of measuring or studying something. Like: “White Silence is Violence”, which requires redefinitions and large-left-lateral-leaps-of-logic.

Curious George
Reply to  Ron Long
December 26, 2020 2:51 pm

[this is just too far afield, even for myself~ctm]

Curious George
Reply to  Curious George
December 26, 2020 3:44 pm

To ctm: You carry the responsibility, I don’t. Thanks. Merry Christmas.

Graeme McMillan
December 26, 2020 2:27 pm

Nice article Willis.
Bayes has become quite popular over the last few years. Often used by people who haven’t really grasped the concept.
The main problem does not lie in the priors. They can be any guess you want before seeing the data. (naive Bayes). The data then updates the priors. Unless you are a climate modeller of course. Then you just ignore the data.

Reply to  Graeme McMillan
December 26, 2020 3:53 pm

I think a climate modeller would ignore the data and the model.

Franz Dullaart
Reply to  Graeme McMillan
December 26, 2020 9:27 pm

No, then you homogenise and adjust the data.

Doug Huffman
Reply to  Graeme McMillan
December 27, 2020 4:05 am

“They can be any guess you want before seeing the data. (naive Bayes). “.

No, a guess does not maximize the entropy of the naive subjective prior and may require strong evidence to escape the error and particularly the lie.

E. T. Jaynes Probability Theory: The Logic of Science (Cambridge, 2003) Chapter 12 Ignorance priors and transformation groups p.372 and follows.

Last edited 2 years ago by Doug Huffman
December 26, 2020 2:58 pm

Unfortunately, without more assumptions or information, the linear framework of Eq. 1 (or Eq. 3) is unmanageably general. In order to make progress, …”

Is this what they would call “tuning the model”? So everyone sings in the same key?

We can all see how that is useful to political science … but real science?

Curious George
Reply to  Russell
December 26, 2020 3:06 pm

I can’t find the text you are quoting.

Reply to  Curious George
December 26, 2020 3:33 pm

try searching for the word assumptions.

Curious George
Reply to  Charles Rotter
December 26, 2020 4:19 pm

Did so. 6 hits. The quote not found.

Dr K A Rodgers
Reply to  Curious George
December 26, 2020 4:22 pm

The text is in the original paper that Willis provides the link to.

December 26, 2020 3:10 pm

This is just another “model” with all the inherent “climate scienceᴸᴼᴸ” fudge factors.

It is one model, and has a range less than the whole Chimp5 ensemble

Whoopy-doo !!

Reply to  fred250
December 26, 2020 4:51 pm

Why should a computer game that makes wrong climate predictions be called a “climate model”?

The effect of CO2 on the global average temperature is unknown, so ECS and TCS numbers are just opinions.

Having a computer programmed BY PEOPLE does not change a computer game into a real climate model. Even if the people have Ph.D. degrees.

The computer games merely predict whatever the owners want predicted — their personal opinions converted into complex math.

There is no evidence in measurements since 1979 that the TCS is over +1 degrees C. per CO2 doubling, and it could be zero, since no one knows what happens outside of closed system lab experiments with CO2.

Assumptions about CO2 are not facts.

The temperature numbers before 1979 are far from global coverage, and have been “adjusted” far too many times — not to mention all the wild guess infilling — not worthy of real science.

We know the global average temperature is higher than in 1979, but that temperature has been generally rising for 20,000 years.

So we know global warming happens without any influence from man made CO2.

In fact, we have 4.5 billion years of climate change from natural causes.

So it is impossible to claim that, since the 1970s, natural causes of climate change no longer matter, and man made CO2 is now the “climate controller”.

Another bizarre assumption is that the climate was “prefect” in about 1750, and any changes from that point are an “existential crisis.”

People living in the period from 1650 to 1750 thought their climate was too cold, but what could they possibly know about the climate they lived in?

The only models I like are tall and slim, on runways.
Those are real models.

Reply to  Richard Greene
December 26, 2020 6:23 pm

”There is no evidence in measurements since 1979 that the TCS is over +1 degrees C. per CO2 doubling, and it could be zero.”

Correct. There is more evidence giving validity to the +1C being caused caused by other factors.

Nick Schroeder
December 26, 2020 3:26 pm

“I would rather have questions that can’t be answered than answers that can’t be questioned.”
 Richard Feynman

Speaking of such prohibited answers – none dare question the RGHE.

I am working on version 5.0 in a series of experiments that demonstrate:
1) radiation does not function separately from non-radiative heat transfer processes,
2) which means the surface of the earth cannot radiate as near BB creating “extra” energy for the GHGs to “warm” the terrestrial surface.
3) No RGHE, no GHG warming, no CAGW.

“It doesn’t matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn’t matter how smart you are. If it doesn’t agree with experiment, it’s wrong.”

 Richard Feynman

Radiation & Emissivity Explained.jpg
Clay Sanborn
Reply to  Nick Schroeder
December 26, 2020 9:11 pm

Newton’s flaming laser sword: “If something cannot be settled by experiment or observation, then it is not worthy of debate.” This is why the alarmist left won’t debate climate – they can’t possibly win the debate.

December 26, 2020 3:43 pm

There you go again with this rationality stuff Willis.
Man it’s almost 2021!
“Science” has now had ‘progressive’ principles for a decade or so at least.
So just check that old-school ‘scientific method’ privilege stuff, boyo, if you want to get published in “THE literature” ever again.

Trying to Play Nice
December 26, 2020 3:51 pm

Willis, I think the problem is worse than asking the wrong question. The problem is that politicians should not be commissioning “science” to prove that they need more control over the populace. Science is supposed to advance human knowledge, not bolster political power.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Trying to Play Nice
December 26, 2020 6:52 pm

“Science” is replacing religion in that respect.

Reply to  Trying to Play Nice
December 27, 2020 6:11 pm

It has always been that way around, ever since most of the money came from politicians.

Reply to  Hivemind
December 27, 2020 10:53 pm

Eisenhower warned us. Right below where he warned us about the military-industrial complex.

Pat Frank
December 26, 2020 4:15 pm

Really glad you took this one on, Willis.

Reading through I had to stop at this way-station: “<em>(Charney et al. 1979), the likely range for the ECS </em>

The Charney ECS and every ECS since then, depends upon the assumption of ceteris paribus. Nothing changes except the increase in CO2 and its forcing.

Under that assumption an increase in air temperature is locked in.

Your image of a snake biting its tail is a perfectly appropriate visual analogy for the entire global warming enterprise. The logic is self-recursive and the results of it are physically meaningless.

Reply to  Pat Frank
December 27, 2020 8:04 am

“ceteris paribus”

The ultimate root of disagreement. As silly as using it In economics.

Peta of Newark
December 26, 2020 4:15 pm

“”The ecological consequences of global warming could be dire; therefore, better constraining climate sensitivity is of utmost importance in order to meet the urgency of adjusting economical and environmental policies””

Therein is The Killer

1) It is a statement of Magical Thinking – repeat it over and over and over and bingo!
It becomes true

2) They actually admit to knowing Diddly Squat by including the Weasel Word ‘could’.
The Emperor could be wearing silk knickers today or he could be Going Commando.
And if you wanna argue that (=what Contrarians do) it is you who is The Stupid One

3) It’s grammatical garbage anyway.
3a) Do they mean constraining estimates of climate sensitivity?
3b) Do they mean adjusting climate itself so as to constrain its sensitivity?
Wow, the hubris.

They don’t even know and cannot explain their own subject
But they care.

But Shirley, don’t we all? Seriously. ##

Seemingly not, hence why they need to say what they do.
So we see a nice positive feedback loop, repeat repeat over and over and over again getting more strident with shorter timescales every time

With luck we can see how this positive loop will end – the predicted disasters will have to have happened yesterday if The Science follows its own trend line
Bang or Whimper?

## But is ‘caring‘ the same as ‘worrying
Is that the problem with this thing?

Tim Gorman
December 26, 2020 4:19 pm


This shows that with all of their complexity, the outcome of the climate models can be almost perfectly emulated by a simple formula”

I don’t think the formula even needs to be as complicated as the one you developed. If you do a trend line on the temperature you can get pretty close with just a simple y – mx+b linear equation. It’s the same for the CGM’s once you get more than 10 years out. They all basically turn in to y = mx+b linear projections. And no one in the climate science elite ever seem to question this.

Jim Gorman
Reply to  Tim Gorman
December 27, 2020 5:50 am

Dr. Pat Frank pointed this out some months ago and in addition calculated the uncertainty in iterative processing of GCMs. Not only is the output emulated by a simple linear equation, the uncertainty is so large as to make the models worthless.

You can analyze a pigs ear many different ways, but guess what, it is still a pigs ear. GIGO!

John McLean
December 26, 2020 4:23 pm

When a paper ceases being objective science and starts to become a lobbyist/activity, such as the second quote above from the paper, you should throw the paper away. (This is certainly not the only field in which this occurs, a recent widely-mentioned covid-19 paper did exactly the same.)

Science is objective and apolitical. If journals had any integrity and any real interest in science they’d endorse this position by rejecting any submissions that didn’t conform. And don’t get me started on scientific academies and other bodies!

December 26, 2020 4:32 pm

Climate Dynamics provides for the publication of high-quality research on all aspects of the dynamics of the global climate system.
Their average submission to acceptance period looks like about 218 days.
This paper took 1,253 days (May 2017 to Nov 2020).
Is that an outlier … almost out of date?
You got to wonder about shaky hands with reviewer sign-offs?
Maybe no one is really sure this is important aspect of the science?
We need new measures of “concensus” to instill any trust in publication credibility.

December 26, 2020 4:36 pm

Defining reality as what matches computer modeling reminds me of how the devil tried to get a religious scholar to commit heresy by accepting his model of reality. The religious scholar replied : “Let’s assume that … there is no God. Then His nonbeing is divine. Only … the Cause of all Causes could have the power not to exist.” (Quote: I.B.Singer’s “Zeudlus the Pope”)

December 26, 2020 4:48 pm

Happy Christmas to you too!
The application of a Bayesian prior to climate simulation was presumably shown to be invalid by Ed Lorenz in his “Deterministic Non-periodic flow” 1963 paper.

Or to use the language of the stock market, “past performance in no predictor of future performance”.

Al Miller
December 26, 2020 4:55 pm

…but it never was about climate. Money and control that’s all it is. The sooner we can wake people up to this fact the sooner we can get on with important things in the world.

D. F. Linto
December 26, 2020 5:00 pm

Willis, since your simple model matches the outputs of the GCMs does that mean it exhibits a TCR and ECR too? Same of different?

Reply to  D. F. Linto
December 26, 2020 8:51 pm

Maaybe I don’t read very well but I read it as those two factors are irrelevant to the outcome.

December 26, 2020 5:01 pm

Great writeup, Willis. And lo, God created “academics” … in order to forever have someone to confuse modeling with reality. Reminds me of my grad school days:

in our first-year doctorate program we reviewed a slew of economic developments in theory, one of which was the “Kydland-Prescott Filter” – a relatively recent (it was the early 90’s) development in macroeconometrics. Take a slew of determinants (aggregate investment, money supply, interest rate, whatever) and some linear algebra, and “fit the curve” of GDP by backwards optimization. In our study group, we dutifully re-constructed their original work and even got “extra credit” for recreating all the computation.

Which did nothing for yours truly during class discussion, when I decided to raise my hand and point out to our professor (a nice gent, British) that I “still didn’t see” the ability to fit a curve as anything so special in terms of understanding, or predictive ability. He expressed his shock that I didn’t “get it” … to which I (rather unwisely) replied – “It’s not that I don’t get it, I think … it’s just that you could take an orthogonal polynomial of sufficient degree and get the same or better fit … but still have no real understanding WHY.”

Seems to me to be the same … what … myopia (or even navel-gazing) going on here. Such a shame. Kydland and Prescott, btw, were awarded the Nobel Prize in 2004. Bully for them, I say … but if you’ve ever wondered what the hell is wrong with Economics (macro, eh … micro is fine), I’d say it’s the same damn thing that’s wrong with Climatology. Argh.

Last edited 2 years ago by JSMill
Jim Gorman
Reply to  JSMill
December 27, 2020 6:06 am

One thing I learned in forecasting equipment and budgets for the phone company was that if you DID NOT KNOW why something was changing, trending was almost worthless. When you begin to walk into the future there is simply too many variables you don’t know about to make credible projections. The further out you go, the less probable your projections will become reliable.

Steve Fitzpatrick
December 26, 2020 5:24 pm

Hi Willis,
I think there actually has been some progress in narrowing the range of plausible sensitivity. Papers by Lewis, Lewis and Curry, and others on observationally estimated sensitivity pretty consistently fall near the low end of the Charney range (1.5 to 4.5). This is (of course) mainly ignored by most in the field, but AR5 did not even present a likely range due to “conflicting” estimates from different techniques. Which is not to say activist ‘climate scientists’ will pay any attention to the lower observational estimates, but clearly at least some people involved in writing AR5 recognized the crazy models are in clear conflict with observations. The current implementations of the models are even further away from observations….. the models only get stranger and stranger.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Steve Fitzpatrick
December 26, 2020 7:20 pm

The political and economic hucksters relying on paid CliSci practitioners are flogging their flunkies to hype the hysteria more and more. The super-hot UN IPCC CMIP6 models for AR6 are just the tip of the “it’s worse than we thought” ice berg (the Russian model will raise eyebrows, though). Smart people see that the CAGW era is coming to an end and they need to get their money out before the fall. The fall will come when the tax bill becomes apparent to the average Joe and Jane.

Germany is on the forefront of the curve, where costs are now apparent and people are associating it with government policy. “Energy poverty” is being openly discussed in German media. Opposition German political parties will smell the blood in the water and take some big bites of the current rulers.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Dave Fair
December 26, 2020 7:50 pm

AfD is the party on ascendance in Germany. AfD’s principle climate change stance is skepticism on AGW and no more wind power. It will sweep to power if they maintain that stance as average Germans freeze this winter too scared to turn on their heat for the heating bill to explode their fiances.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
December 26, 2020 7:56 pm

The great thing about Leftists: They always push it too far!

Rich Davis
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
December 27, 2020 5:59 pm

Exploding fiancés? It would be less messy if they just broke off the engagement, I think.

Hari Seldon
Reply to  Dave Fair
December 27, 2020 12:23 am

Dear Mr. Fair,

Unfortunately a large part of the opposition in Germany are the Greens and the successor of the former East-German Communist Party (SED, now they call themselves as “Linke”). Both of these parties are very strongly for the climate- and CO2-hysteria, especially the Greens. Anyway, the roots of the Greens are also communist (their initial base and the most prominent leaders are the communists from the earlier West-Germany). Angela Merkel has shifted the originally conservative CDU from the middle of the political spectrum into a mid-left position, and she is also an advocate of the climate- and CO2-hysteria. Pls, take into account the sad fact, the Germany is eventually a half-colony of the US, and the climate- and CO2-hysteria has been promoted in Germany mainly as an initiative from the US (Obama administration trying to use climate- and CO2-hysteria to promote globalism to ensure the world leading function of the US). Now the CDU is strongly splitted: A part of the party would like to go in bed with the communist Greens (the “progressives”), and another part (“conservatives” and “bürgerliche”) would like to push back the CDU in the middle of the political spectrum. This plattform within the CDU called Werteunion, and they are against climate- and CO2-hysteria. Note, that the left turn of the CDU has started after the eavesdropping of the mobile phone of Angela Merkel by certain US authorities during the Obama era.

Reply to  Hari Seldon
December 27, 2020 4:38 am

What is being done to Germany, with active accomplices, is the Morgenthau Plan of WWII yore, in full swing.
Note the SPD and CDU already signed the nuclear phaseout 5 months before Fukushima. It was not the Greens who followed Dr. Schellnhuber’s Great Transformation (Merkel’s science advisor, since fired for his open eugenics.)

Now Davos will announce the Great Reset at the Jan’21 conference.

Dr. Schellnhuber was dubbed CBE by the Queen personally in 2004, hardly a “communist”.
Note BoJo’s unbelievable green subversion – same wine in an ale cask.

Hari Seldon
Reply to  bonbon
December 27, 2020 8:28 am

Dear bonbon,

I live in Germany, and I know the political program of the Greens, too. It is very close to the political program of the AOC/Harris-led wing of the dems. The SPD has lost at least half of her voters, and now the SPD is in a hard competition with the Greens, which of them would become more left-wing. To the Greens in Germany: The original CDU-SPD proposal for CO2-tax was 10 €/tonne, the Greens wanted 40 €/tonne. At the end of the day the SPD and Greens enforced the CDU to accept 25 €/tonne als initial price, which could be increased practically without limit in the future. As to the nuclear phaseout: The nuclear phaseout was decided by the SPD-Green government in 2000. In 2010 the CDU/CSU-FDP goverment shifted the nuclear phaseout by 14 years for the most nuclear power plants in Germany (these nuclear power plants could remain operational 14 years longer as decided by the SPD-Green government in 2000). We should remain, please, at the facts.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Hari Seldon
December 27, 2020 12:47 pm

Hari, I like a good conspiracy theory as much as the next guy, but I was getting at what Dr. Roger Pielke, Jr. calls the “Iron Law of Politics:” Regular people will not vote for a person or political party that promises to lower or limit the growth of their standard of living. Transitory political passions, such as the now-popular GND (socialism with lipstick), fall in the face of economic reality. It can happen slowly or quickly, but reality always intrudes on the politician’s pet theory of the path to election victory.

Russ Wood
Reply to  Dave Fair
December 28, 2020 8:47 am

But, with more-or-less the WHOLE MSM on the Left side, will ‘the People’ find out about what the politicians actually MEAN before it gets to a vote?

Reply to  Dave Fair
December 27, 2020 4:28 am

Poland, who just ordered 2 US nuclear reactors, with the usual CO2 false justification, sent an open letter to the German Embassy in Warsaw to halt the nuclear phaseout :

December 26, 2020 5:51 pm

Any discussion that does not dismiss RCP 8.5 as implausible doesn’t deserve further consideration.

Robert of Texas
December 26, 2020 5:57 pm

This is one of your best articles. Easy to follow your argument and easy to see the folly of climate “science”.

I can think of one other field where no progress has been made in either understanding the mechanism(s) involved or the predictive powers: Astrology. I think Astrology and Climate Science are on equal scientific footing (which is none whatsoever).

Clyde Spencer
December 26, 2020 6:23 pm

“… there has been no progress made in refining the estimates of ECS and TCR over the last forty years.”

Even controlled thermonuclear fusion has seen SOME progress in the last 40 years!

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
December 26, 2020 7:54 pm

The main advances of fusion have been to learn what deosnt work. They’ve learned that laser implosion of a fuel pellet is impractical and that Tokamaks, running with a vaccum inside, surrounded by liquid helium cooled superconducting magents and with copious amounts of hard neutron radiation pouring out thru the container walls that generates high temps that must be carried away to do work on a steam cycle, they are thus ungodly expensive to build.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
December 27, 2020 4:39 am

Korea. Pulsed power, after all, runs the usual combustion motors….

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
December 27, 2020 5:25 pm

Knowing what doesn’t work can be very valuable. Consider all the materials that Edison tried as filaments for a light bulb before he found something that actually worked. Looking at commonalities for the things that don’t work can provide insight on what might work.

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
December 27, 2020 9:55 am

They know more about what they don’t know in fusion.

The problem with climate Scientology is they don’t seem interested to even know what they don’t know, since it would affect their funding

James Donald Bailey
December 26, 2020 6:27 pm

“We estimate … by … inference … to analytically calculate …”

Seriously, people write crap like that in Scientific publications?

And they derive error bars from their inferred estimates?

Might as well read ‘We make a wild ass guess based on our hunches, and presto, we fool you into thinking this is an analytical calculation.’

Joel O'Bryan
December 26, 2020 6:30 pm

There are so many climate superstions taken for granted now by mainstream CliSci it is hard to keep track of them all. It is junk science all the way down in all 3 legs of the climate scam, the paleo-reconstructions, the instrumental records, and the climate models (past, present, and future).

The 1.5ºC limit for warming, a completely arbitrary number pulled out of the IPCC’s nether-regions, is one such belief that exists at the superstition level in CliSci.

The belief that climate models “prove” anthro CO2 attribution to past climate warming, when that is what the climate models were written to do. That’s like claiming a Hollywood CGI animation for Superhuman movie proves that putting Kryptonite near Superman removes his superpowers. It all exists completely within a simulation written to show that.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
December 26, 2020 8:05 pm

CliSci went for the 1.5C limit when the IPCC AR5 actual historic data forced them to arbitrarily reduce mid-term warming predictions of the CMIP5 models (without lowering long-range calculations). They were afraid they could not show that the world would ever reach the magic 2C limit (also pulled out of their nether-regions).

Loren C. Wilson
December 26, 2020 7:42 pm

Willis, I can think of another discipline that has not advanced in 40 years – the area of astronomy that deals with the orbits of stars around the center of the galaxy. Reality appears to not follow Kepler’s Law by a factor of five. They have proposed dark matter to explain the difference but have got no further. I personally agree with the idea that something is causing the increase orbital velocities, and not that the law of gravitation is wrong. However, there is no observational data to support my faith. The observations tell us that gravity does not work at galactic scales like it works at local scales. Kepler’s Law accurately describes the motion of our planets around the sun, but not our sun around the center of mass of the galaxy.

Reply to  Loren C. Wilson
December 27, 2020 4:44 am

Kepler applies to systems with 90% mass at center, not 99% mass spread about the disk.
Kepler does apply close to the supermassive object at SgrA* with ~25 stellar orbits now measured.

December 26, 2020 8:40 pm

The computer has given us The Answer. The hard part is working out what The Question actually is.

David Hartley
December 26, 2020 10:45 pm

Can I try create a bridge here and see if I’m anywhere near?

In the UK millions watch three Soap Operas religiously, sometimes all three in one evening! The plots of which of course based on previous events themselves a fiction. To some people these events are very real though obviously not actually so, to the effect that actors have been verbally and occasionally physically abused for their treatment of other characters whilst in character in the drama! So we have people basing their assumptions on fictional people and events themselves based on prior fictional events.

Social engineering at it’s finest as they tend to be ‘issues’ as in we’ve got issues not problems school of thought, a case in point is a programme of one of the awful things some years back had a pair of ludicrous characters on the show that had marital problems so they called an agency called Relate that deals with marital problems in the UK. The poor switchboard, (pre t’internet) was swamped.

Like trying to envision which Universe Jackson Pollock was from and drawing an image from it based on his meanders across the canvas. Which we know only ever made sense to statisticians, (lol).

So we have social engineering at the sub-literate level and your excellent, as always, representation of such at what presents itself as part of academia.

A perfect marriage between the Sociologists, Psychologists, Behavioural scientists, Political scientists et al calling themselves Climate scientists and their adoring Public. Indoctrination right across the board which gives rise to the perfect breeding ground for Totalitarianism.

It isn’t just an issue it isn’t just a problem Houston it’s an ‘effing disaster.

Captain Climate
December 27, 2020 2:52 am

What will it take to expose these charlatans as non-scientists? I’ve lost so much trust in the scientific process by digging deep on climate science. It’s clear these folks are neither accountable nor competent.

Mr. Lee
December 27, 2020 3:53 am

A little Baysian prior smoke, followed by Green’s function mirrors and Presto! out jumps the climate sensitivity rabbit from the computer hat.

It really does seem like they are torturing the data until it confesses to the climate change crime.

December 27, 2020 5:54 am

Despite the dire language that parrots the climate meme, this paper will be trounced by the climate establishment. Their conclusions narrow the range of estimated climate sensitivity toward the low end of the range (TCS 1.7; , ECS 2.4), which suggests nothing more than mild warming. Meh. If one were to believe their numbers rather than their rhetoric, where is the catastrophe? We are already at least halfway there and nothing bad, mostly good, so far.

As a meteorologist, after 20 years of closely following this subject, I weary of it. If it were just an academic exercise, we could just move on to other more interesting topics. Unfortunately, we cannot ignore the topic of climate because it is the poster child of post-modern, post-normal deceit aimed at stealing our freedoms, impoverishing the masses, and murdering millions. “There is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9) This is a different twist on the age old lie, and there are consequences if we stand by while the regressives bend public policy, education, culture, science and religion to their bidding.

December 27, 2020 5:56 am

It is blatantly obvious what is happening in the world today – as described in “The Big Picture” cited below. The alleged global warming / human-made climate change crisis was never a legitimate scientific hypothesis – it was always an extreme-left political scam.

The legitimate discussion should now focus on TREASON – the collaboration of leftist scientists and others in the deliberate promotion of the false global warming crisis to destroy our free society.

We published that global warming was a false crisis in 2002; by 2009 I published that there was a covert agenda; now the leftists’ end game is fully revealed – the “Great Reset” is essentially the Chinese Communist Party model to be applied to us all – a few rich all-powerful Princes at the top, looking down on all the poor oppressed peasants – the very definition of TREASON.

There is no real global warming crisis – it has always been a false and fraudulent crisis, promoted by scoundrels and believed in by imbeciles – wolves stampeding the sheep.
The Big Picture:
The global warming / climate change scam, the Covid-19 full-Gulag lockdown scam, the specious linkage of these two huge frauds, and the leftists’ “Final Solution”, the Marxist “Great Reset” – aka “Live like a Chinese peasant”.


 The World Economic Forum’s twitter account deleted the tweet in which this video was originally embedded in 2016.

All over the world, governments have been duped and have adopted a failed strategy of trying to appease leftist fraudsters who are intent on destroying our free society. 

Pat Frank
December 27, 2020 4:43 pm

Allan, what’s your take on why every single scientific society, including the APS, bought into the AGW scientific crock. And right from the start.

Reply to  Pat Frank
December 27, 2020 7:17 pm

By Tom Harris and Dr. Jay Lehr, May 24, 2019

Reply to  Pat Frank
December 27, 2020 7:46 pm

$$$ and POWER

December 27, 2020 10:51 pm

Life imitates farce:

August 17th, 2020

This article in the August 2020 Babylon Bee was supposed to be satire. But …
… learn about the Great Reset – you didn’t vote for it, but John Kerry says Biden is fully on board:


Sky News Australia exposes the “Great Reset”, the wild Marxist “Final Solution” from the World Economic Forum (WEF), as espoused by its founder Klaus Schwab (aka “Doctor Evil”) and a host of bizarre villains out of an Austin Powers movie. (Schwab starts at 5:05)

Seriously good people, wake up and realize that you have been scammed, for decades – no rational person could be this stupid for this long.

December 27, 2020 6:47 am

Yes, in Bayesian inference the probabilities are subjective, in keeping with my point that the weight of evidence is relative to the observer.

Also, the inferences are of simple hypotheses based on simple evidence. Given this evidence what is the probability of this event? Climate change is in fact the opposite extreme.

Willis is right, as usual. The paper is green junk.

December 27, 2020 6:51 am

WE quotes this from paper:”… (ECS) is such a property…”

Property is a scientific term and they should tell us what kind of property it is or not use it.

Jaap Titulaer
December 27, 2020 7:24 am

The answer is 42, obviously.
Now get me some calculations to prove that.
Make them sufficiently complex looking, OK?

We’ll worry about the exact question later.
And any evidence just clouds the picture, so let’s not go that way.


Barnes Moore
December 27, 2020 7:43 am

The problem appears to be that alarmists think using models to manipulate data to achieve a pre-determined desired outcome is science.

Reply to  Barnes Moore
December 27, 2020 12:01 pm

Fixed it for you: using models to fabricate data..

But even that can’t be correct because data should be what goes in-not what comes out.

Reply to  KT66
December 27, 2020 7:47 pm

These are the people that constantly confuse running a computer program with an experiment, remember.

Thomas Gasloli
December 27, 2020 7:49 am

“The ecological consequences of global warming could be dire; therefore, better constraining climate sensitivity is of utmost importance in order to meet the urgency of adjusting economical and environmental policies.”

This statement gives the game away. What they are saying is that they are tuning the model to come up an estimate of the damage due to “Climate Change” to exceed the cost of climate legislation/regulation. All EPA regulations (and DOE, DOT, etc) that will be promulgated to “reduce climate change” will include a cost-benefit analysis. They need to avoid the unfortunate possibility of a negative cost-benefit analysis. The draconian nature of “climate change” regulations makes that difficult using the standard methods like placing arbitrary values on intangibles.

December 27, 2020 10:09 am

I know of no scientific field other than climate science in which this is true.

But Willis, since the cultural-marxists have taken this “science” over, doesn’t it make sense that there is now a greater diversity of answers? The high-climate-sensitivity “scientists” are entitled to their “answers” too.

Assume /sarc isn’t necessary for Willis….

Last edited 2 years ago by beng135
December 27, 2020 12:49 pm

“This shows that with all of their complexity, the outcome of the climate models can be almost perfectly emulated by a simple formula”.

Is there any chance the climate models were developed from such simple formula using proxies, altered data, and CFD as padding?

Mickey Reno
December 27, 2020 2:22 pm

I love that religious connotation in your use of the term priory, Willis.

December 27, 2020 4:32 pm

Hi Willis,
tried to get the files from “Life Is Like A Black Box Of Chocolates“.
would it be possible to get the excel files from somewhere without registering – especial at apple? just hate to leave personal data around.
Thanx for your articles – just love them.
Merry Christmas and a happy new year!


December 27, 2020 8:18 pm

Thanks, Willis. Voice of Common Sense, as always.

With sadness I note that our incoming President is quoted as saying ““Folks, we’re in a crisis,” Mr. Biden said this month, eliding wildfires, windstorms, hurricanes, flooding and drought all supposedly caused by climate change.” — in today’s WSJ, The Journal goes on to say that “Unpacking those falsehoods is a subject for another day.” 

December 27, 2020 8:46 pm

I’m wondering…if CO2 is such a devastating gas that’s going to destroy the world, why are we all wearing masks and breathing the stuff? Another new reality? Happy New Year! 🙂

Antero Ollila
December 27, 2020 9:34 pm

This new approach is based on the historical climate data for calculating climate sensitivity (TCS or ECS). If you do so, you include all the possible climate driving forces like total solar irradiance changes and not only carbon dioxide changes. An excessively big error in methodology. The results have no scientific reliability.

December 27, 2020 10:57 pm

The IPCC has admitted that the amount of atmospheric CO2 before 1950 was insufficient to warm the planet significantly. The glaciers started melting 100 years before that point. What caused the 19th Century warming? If they don’t know that, they’ll never know anything. It’s all pseudoscience.

December 28, 2020 6:32 am

I’ve always been impressed with the logic of averaging the prognostications of dozens of different climate models for the purpose of divining reality.

Each model is actually a different theory of the climate… often making different assumptions and (all?) using different starting points for variables (arrived at by trial and error until enough “computer runs” of the past “fit” past data “well enough”.

Where else does science average out various theories on a subject to arrive at the truth? Childish, but Climate Science gets away with it… without challenge.

December 28, 2020 11:56 am

 “I mean, in what other field of science has there not only been no advance in forty years on a central question, but in fact the uncertainty has increased? I know of no scientific field other than climate science in which this is true.”
Now that’s an inconvenient truth.

Nick Schroeder
December 29, 2020 2:18 pm

I’m back – as promised.

Attached is a slide of Modest Experiment 5.0 where I once again demonstrate that radiative heat flow DOES NOT function separately from the non-radiative heat transfer processes of conduction, convection, advection and latent. They work together and in concert. Increasing non-radiative processes reduce the system temperature thereby reducing the amount of radiation. They are chained together like escaped convicts.

The energy leaving the naked free standing heating panel is 68% radiation, 32% non-radiation.
The energy leaving the fanned panel is 23% radiation and 67% non-radiation.
The energy leaving the wetted panel with latent evaporation is 34% radiation and 66% non-radiation.
The energy leaving the covered panel where convection is effectively stifled is 79% radiation and 21% non-radiation. Collecting data was more challenging because the thermostat kicked off power at 185 F and reset power at 165 F.

RGHE theory as depicted in the K-T diagram and numerous clones assumes/requires the surface of the earth to radiate “extra” energy independently and as a near black body. Trenberth also specifically states this assumption in TFK_bams09.

As I have demonstrated five times now by classical experiment because of the non-radiative heat transfer processes of the contiguous participating atmospheric molecules – this assumed BB upwelling of “extra” energy for the GHGs to “trap” and “back” radiate – is – not – possible.

Experiment 5.0 Pictures.jpg
Hari Seldon
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
December 29, 2020 10:22 pm

Dear Mr. Eschenbach,

I have just found an interesting article:

“Repeatability of Professor Robert W. Wood´s 1909 experiment on the Hypothesis of the Greenhouse Effect”, Nasif S. Nahle, experiment_on_greenhouses__effect.pdf ( The Abstract: “Through a series of controlled experiments, I demonstrate that the warming effect in a real greenhouse is not due to longwave infrared radiation trapped inside the greenhouse, but to the blockage of convective heat transfer with the surroundings, as proven by Professor Wood in his 1909 experiment.” General conclusions: “The greenhouse effect inside greenhouses is due to the blockage of convective heat transfer with the environment and it is not related, neither obeys, to any kind of “trapped” radiation. Therefore, the greenhouse effect does not exist as it is described in many didactic books and articles. The experiment performed by Prof. Robert W. Wood in 1909 is absolutely valid and systematically repeatable. In average, the blockage of convective heat transfer with the surroundings causes an increase of temperature inside the greenhouses of 10.03 °C with respect to the surroundings temperature.”

What about the results reported in this article, and what about to replicate/repeat this experiment to check the reported results on a larger scale? What would be the consequences of the results reported in this article concerning the claims of the climate- and CO2-alarmists?

Thank you in advance.

Hari Seldon
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
December 30, 2020 10:29 pm

Dear Mr. Eschenbach,

Many thx for the quick reply. After having read your article and the numerous comments (735), it is my understanding, that you would assess Mr. Wood’s approach as scientifically not correct. Please, could you assess the validity of the results from Nasif S. Nahle from scientific point of view? Would the results be invalid? If yes (invalid), why? Your article is 8 years old, and 8 years would be a long period nowadays with many new results and ideas. Would it be possible, please, after 8 years to re-assess Mr. Wood’s results in a new WUWT-article for example on the basis of the critical checking of the statements and results reported in Nasif S. Nahles article? Unfortunately my know-how is not enough for such a critical analyse.

Thank you in advance.

Hari Seldon
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
December 31, 2020 2:41 am

Dear Mr. Eschenbach,

Many thx for your quick answer. In the meantime I have red also Dr. R. W. Spencer´s comment on your article from 2008 (, and now I understand better the technical/scientific backround of Mr. Wood´s 1909 experiment and the challenges with Mr. Nahle´s article.

Happy New Year 2021 to you.

ps.: Back to Asimov: It would be interesting to know how much time do we have before the next Seldon-crisis due to the climate alarmism, and what would be the only one right solution.

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