Complex Models and The Impact of CO2

Here is a challenge laid down by Steve McIntyre
"I think that it is important for people in the field to write out a careful “engineering quality” exposition of how doubled CO2 leads to 3 deg C in which all the key parameterizations and feedbacks are written down and described."

Modelling is on the horns of a dilemma. A simple model can't predict the detailed fluctuations.

A complex model may start to predict the *phenomena* of these detailed fluctuations (ie. You get El Nino) but may fail to predict numerically what fluctuations will take place when. As soon as you try to predict the complex details, the additional assumptions introduced will have their own uncertainty and that may well destroy the predictive power in itself.

Climate prediction is therefore astoundingly difficult *in theory*.

What the *practice* is like is a different matter; it's hard to know.

My impression of climate models is good but based on poor evidence(I haven't personally worked on climate models). Its done in the UK by the Hadley Centre, part of the Met Office who are well funded and have to make testable predictions every day. I have also been impressed by those I have seen presenting from the UK (e.g. Peter Cox).

Some have argued that all personal scientific understanding is a sort of model. See discussion of the Lucidity Principle by Michael McIntyre (Prof of Atmospheric Science at Cambridge)

In general I think it is necessary to build up a hierarchy of models which are themselves scientific understanding, from the very simplest Stefan-Boltzmann Radiative Balance. The books I have/has (I've given some of them away) and recommend are:
  • 'A Climate Modeling Primer', which has a CD attached
  • 'Elementary Climate Physics' by Taylor
  • 'Global Warming: a complete briefing' by Sir John Houghton.
This in part is a solution to Steve McIntyre's request. He should read the books and outline a hierarchy of models himself.

NASA Climate Science "Marginalised"

An internal audit has found that the NASA press office "reduced, marginalised or mischaracterized" climate science, for political purposes between 2004 and 2006.

"On September 29, 2006, 14 United States Senators cosigned a letter to the NASA Inspector General to request a formal investigation into allegations of "political interference" with the work of scientists at NASA."
"Our investigation found that during the fall of 2004 through early 2006, the NASA Headquarters Office of Public Affairs managed the topic of climate change in a manner that reduced, marginalized, or mischaracterized climate change science made available to the general public through those particular media over which the Office of Public Affairs had control (i.e., news releases and media access)."


Here is Carl Wunsch, professor of physical oceanography at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, on his treatment at the hands of the makers of a documentary filmed on Channel Four. He said the film, 'The Great Global Warming Swindle', was 'grossly distorted' and 'as close to pure propaganda as anything since World War Two'[1].

Public service broadcasting is a precious flower. It's time to defend truth and integrity of our documentaries, through the public service mandate. The BBC of Lord Reith, Kenneth Clark and David Attenborough should follow, intensify and expand it's mission to inspire and educate. Other broadcasters should not forget their responsibilities. The alternatives are either a media and a society manipulated by hidden interests and characterized by a race to the bottom; or the inspiration of human civilisation and the natural world. We must be brave enough to make the choice.



This website is here for people who take a critical and scientific view of public discourse. Statements made in the media, in newspapers and in television documentaries should be subjected to critical review, based on how their claims stack up relative to basic physical principles. We will be casting a sceptical eye on some of the wilder scientific pronouncements made in different fields by non-scientists, focussing initially on pronouncements made about the science of climate change. We should apply the standards of the laboratory to what people say in public. And we should not be afraid to be inspired by the art of human civilisation and the natural world - in short we can be inspired by life itself.

It is devoted to the struggle against falsehood and lies, and in particular to Alexandr Solzhenitsyn.

"And the simple step of a simple courageous man is not to partake in falsehood, not to support false actions! Let THAT enter the world, let it even reign in the world - but not with my help. But writers and artists can achieve more: they can CONQUER FALSEHOOD! In the struggle with falsehood art always did win and it always does win! Openly, irrefutably for everyone! Falsehood can hold out against much in this world, but not against art."

Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, Nobel Prize for Literature, Acceptance Speech, 1970