Just spotted this article:
A Skeptic’s View on Climate Models
By Ross Pomeroy January 23, 2017 in Real Clear Science
I like to think that I’m a good skeptic. I’ve read every word of Carl Sagan’s timeless Demon Haunted World. I almost always ask for evidence. I employ the scientific method to guide my actions. I try to think critically. I’m willing to admit when “I don’t know”. I question bold and crazy claims. And most importantly, I try not to let my ideology sway which claims I question. That’s why, as a skeptic, and as a firm advocate of science, I simply cannot accept the following claims without some level of incredulity:
“The next few decades offer a brief window of opportunity to minimize large-scale and potentially catastrophic climate change that will extend longer than the entire history of human civilization thus far.”
“The forest as we know it would effectively be gone.”
“We will have very few humans on the planet because of lack of habitat.”
Each of the preceding statements are bold, apocalyptic claims concerning climate change, and there are many more like them littered across the Internet. But just because they are widespread and originate from respectable, legitimate scientists, that does not mean I can simply switch off my skepticism. I must subject these claims to the same scrutiny that I would acupuncture, chiropractic, or demons. And when I do, I can only conclude that most claims of catastrophic, apocalyptic climate change are bogus.
But when it comes to portending doom and gloom, the tools scientists use — namely atmosphere and oceanic general circulation models — are woefully insufficient to render specific predictions about the future. The Earth is big, with so many moving parts it would make your head spin. Modeling its climate is a monumental task, and frankly, it’s impossible to do so with complete and total accuracy. Climate scientists try their best, taking into account variables such as cloud cover, albedo, water movement, radiation, and surface pressure. Unfortunately, as climate scientists alter their models to take into account more variables, some of which are poorly understood or difficult to measure, they introduce more sources of uncertainty.
To see if their models work, climatologists validate them against past data, figuring that if they match the past, they can predict the future. But there probably has never been a situation in the history of our planet where carbon dioxide has been the primary culprit of climate change. In other situations (most commonly volcanic eruptions) numerous other greenhouse gases also greatly increased the rate of heating. It’s really hard to build a model for a situation for which there is little historical precedent.
What does all of this mean? It means that anyone who says they know that climate change will result in (insert apocalyptic scenario here) is not making claims based on solid evidence.
The whole article is worth a read. He comes out at the end a lukewarmist while skeptical of climate models and dismissive of alarmist claims.
Steven “Ross” Pomeroy is Chief Editor of RealClearScience. A zoologist and conservation biologist by training, Ross has nurtured a passion for journalism and writing his entire life. Ross weaves his insatiable curiosity and passion for science into regular posts and articles on RealClearScience’s Newton Blog. Additionally, his work has appeared in Science Now and Scientific American.
For more on how climate models work see Climate Models Explained, an extended comment by Dr. R.G. Brown of Duke University.