03 Jan 2020

Should We Trust the Climate Models? Part 2 of 3

Climate Change 24 Comments

Available here.

24 Responses to “Should We Trust the Climate Models? Part 2 of 3”

  1. Transformer says:

    I really liked this article which I thought presented the ‘climate skeptic’ case very well. I respect the views of Judith Curry and I think she raises some very strong points to question the consensus view on the forecasting models.

    I would like to raise my concerns by way of a thought- experiment.

    I am a rich farmer who makes money by growing maize on my farm and my income depends upon my ability to be a hands on manager working day-to-day on the farm. I develop a cough and consult a doctor who says I may have a maize allergy that may get worse (and even kill me) if I continue in my profession.

    I really don’t want to give up maize farming because my next best option is rye farming which only generates 90% of the income.

    My income is large so I decide to consult 100 top doctors. There is a continuum of views. At one end I am told that if I don’t stop eating maize immediately my cough will kill me in a few years and at the other end I am told that my cough is a random event unrelated to my maize farming.

    I analyze the results in more detail. 90% of my doctors think my condition is strongly linked to maize growing and 10% disagree. Doctors from the consensus side point to models that show that for maize-allergy sufferers coughing will increase by 3% in a year if maize farming is continued but I have continued maize-production for a year and my cough is only 2% worse.

    I believe that all my doctors are well qualified and have my best interests at heart.

    So what do I do?

    90% of specialists recommend I take a path that reduces my income by 10% (and my utility by less than 10% since I give my less worthwhile activities) and my economists friends tell me that likely productivity increases will mean I will actually still get richer even if I switch to my next best option (rye farming).

    So do I listen to the ‘maize allergy skeptics’ who are a relatively small minority and whose main case is that the consensus models overestimate the risks or the majority view who believe that I can both avoid the risk of future ill-health and probably still continue to get richer even if I abandon maize farming ?

    • Dan says:

      I’m with you. Since there is any risk at all, the only responsible thing would be to abolish the state. I’ll accept any reduction to taxes, spending, and regulations as a second best solution until we get to the ideal.

      • Transformer says:

        Happy New Year, Dan !

    • Dan says:

      What is the optimal plan in your opinion? How far would governments have to deviate from it before doing nothing would be better? And how likely is it they implement your plan?

      • Transformer says:

        I’m a born-again anarchist after reading some Hoppe recently so I think the ideal solution (in a stateless world) would be achieved by a combination of voluntary actions (people and communities agreeing to reduce CO2 usage and taking proactive measures like tree-planting) plus some legal action against major C02 producers who failed to adjust and whose behavior would be in violation of others rights.

        We don’t live in a stateless world of course. For a long time I was a supporter of a carbon tax. I’m wavering on that a bit now so really I’m not sure. I do strongly think though we need to not just ignore the problem, If anarchism cannot deal with this kind of issue then it likely will fail,

        • skylien says:

          What do you think about guys like:
          Tony Heller
          Dr Richard Lindzen
          Dr Patrick Moore
          Dr Willie Soon
          Alex Epstein
          Anthony Watts

          who think that CO2 is rather a Nonproblem, and in all likelyhood rather positive for us and the earth (e.g. the World is supposed to have greened over 14% over the last 30 years, which is mostly due to more CO2).? Do you know them, what they argue etc..?

          • Transformer says:

            Well, some of them such as Heller and Watts seem to have some odd ideas that are easily disproved. Others are more serious members of the climate science community with ideas that should be considered more seriously.

            But here is my problem: I’m not a scientists so its hard for me to evaluate the full depth of the various arguments and counterarguments. I want to avoid the ‘I may not know much about science but I know what I like’ approach that many libertarians seem to have taken.

            What I can say is that if I was the sole inhabitant of a small planet and was presented with the same set of data and scientific opinion that we see here on Earth, I would definitely be dialing back my C02 production.

            • skylien says:

              “Heller and Watts seem to have some odd ideas that are easily disproved.”

              Which ones? And does that mean everything else they say is wrong? I guess not.

              James Hansen said the Maledives should be under Water in 30 years, but he said that in 1988! So the Maledives should have been gone 2 years ago. That is defintiely odd, and it was easy to disprove.

              “I would definitely be dialing back my C02 production.”

              The problem with this is ( and it seems too many proponents of CO2 is bad for us miss this) that what is if you are wrong?

              Dialing back CO2 means you reduce the living standard, you increase poverty,-> This kills people! Cheap energy is the number one issue to lift people out of a miserable life.

              Also not just in poor countries this is a problem. Decreasing CO2 also in the west means people die who wouldn’t otherwise.E.g. it means less hospitals, less doctors, less MRIs etc..Less funds for research of cancer etc..

              So what this means is. To safe people, you are willing to kill people. But if you are wrong you are only killing people and reduce peoples living standard. And even if you werer right, how do you determine this “trade off”? That is not even possible.

              • skylien says:

                One remark/correction: The Maledive prediction wasn’t made by James Hanse directly but by Philip Shabecoff who based this one James Hansen’s numbers.

              • Transformer says:

                ‘what [] if you are wrong?’

                You are correct and if we limit C02 production unnecessarily then utility is reduced and at the margin people may die. If however there is a trade off between near-term C02 production and longer-term dis-utility then even after applying the necessary discounting reductions in C02 may increase utility and (and save lives!).

                My view is that given the current data and balance of scientific opinion the later case is much more likely than the former. Of course the existence of states and their domination of the decision-making process makes things more complicated and increases the risks to all of us – but that doesn’t change the science.

              • Harold says:

                “Heller and Watts seem to have some odd ideas that are easily disproved.”

                Which ones? And does that mean everything else they say is wrong?

                Oh No! Don’t get me started on Heller! Seriously, a cursory critical look at his output should be sufficient to convince a reasonable person. Suffice to say that nothing Heller says should be taken seriously.

                Watts’ personal output is very sparse these days. He is best known as the host of WUWT. This is the most popular denialist site. There used to be reasonable discussion with contributions from alarmists, but their treatment by the commenters and Watts himself has led most to decide it is not worth the effort as reasonable discussion is impossible. Nick Stokes continues to provide a breath of sanity with informative and patient commentary.

                Watts fired Heller from WUWT after a particularly awful example of Heller’s inability to admit when he was wrong. Heller believed CO2 froze out of the air in Antarctica and despite being corrected by many people at WUWT he refused to budge.

              • skylien says:


                I don’t know any details about this yet. But that doesn’t sound worse then the Maledive issue, or the icefree Arctic etc though to me.

                All the other stuff that I have seen from him from Youtube seems pretty substantiated.

              • skylien says:

                Something wrong with this one?


              • Harold says:

                It takes a lot of effort to go through claims and un-pick them. Fortunately we do not have to do all the work ourselves. But if we are genuine truth seekers it is incumbent on us to examine the evidence.

                There is a good example in a series of videos by Potholer54 on Heller where Potholer unpicks Heller’s claims using evidence.

                The first is here, but I recommend watching Heller’s responses and all the follow-up ones also.


                I am fine with criticising the media for bad reporting, as long as it is done even-handedly. Where reports are wrong they should be corrected. This is very different from criticising climatologists for bad reporting.

                Here is another example concerning the Maldives

                It demonstrates the difference between science and newspapers and shows in detail how claims are exaggerated and mis-used.

              • Harold says:

                “Something wrong with this one?”

                Yes, lots. His case is that because in the 19th century some newspapers made statements about climate change that may have been exaggerated, then climate change is not happening today. because forest fires have always happened, then climate change cannot be contributing to fires today.

                It is a catalog of newspaper cuttings and headlines and makes no attempt to actually examine the issues or the science. It is empty and meaningless.

                In Australia, 2019 was the hottest year on record, based on data. Is he denying this?

                The fires are in SE Australia, so rainfall for the whole continent is not the point. In SE Australia rainfall has fallen since 1900

                10:00 is a classic. “there’s not a lot of fires burning anywhere else” So no problem then because the central desert is not ablaze. It is OK because it looks quite small from space.

                The main reason the fires are so bad this year is because of low rainfall and high temperatures. It is not arson or lack of controlled burning.

                CSIRO states that on account of projected future climate change, hot days will become more frequent and hotter (very high confidence), and the time in drought is projected to increase over southern Australia (high confidence). These are the very conditions that contribute to the severity if the current fires.

              • skylien says:

                Well thanks for the link to the discussion, and maybe I will go through all this discussion. As far as I have checked now isn’t that easy to go through and check everything. It is a discussion back and forth.

                The point in time you picked where Potholer criticize Heller for claiming Potholer said something he didn’t say is strange. Because in the response video of Heller, he clearly accepts this particular criticism.

                The video about the Maldives. Yes so the tabloid about the Maldives uninhabitable by 2030 picked the most “unlikely” dramatic scenario without mentioning this. Yes I know they do this sort of thing. Yet this conclusion is still based on this paper isn’t it? And not only this, the Youtuber criticized talked not about 2030, but he himself talked about 30 years in the future, so about 2050, which is not the most unlikely scenario. And the caveat that the drinking water issue could be solved by transporting it there doesn’t change the point that is argued. That the Maldives as we know them would not be inhabitable the way they are now. And also the least unlikely scenario to me looks like the most likely scenario. Worldwide annual CO2 Emission since 2000 to today nearly DOUBLED! We haven’t done anything remotely what the “settled” science asked to stop this climate change! I highly doubt it will change the next ten years.

                And it surely is the same with the NYT! article from 1988. If people like Hanse were right in 1988 there would have been an effect on the Maldives, but there isn’t at all!

                “The main reason the fires are so bad this year is because of low rainfall and high temperatures. It is not arson or lack of controlled burning.”

                So without arson there would be the same amount of fires? How can this be. That is obviously wrong. Also how can you ignore the rainfall in all of Australia? That doesn’t make sense as well. Not to forget, that it showed that rainfall in 1902 (at least in all of Australia) was nearly as bad as this year, 118 years ago! Also I guess if it were the other way around and rainfall would increase it would also be because of climate change. It doesn’t matter anyway what happens.

                Look at the ha burned since 1851 (though I guess the data isn’t really that good the further back you go). Do you see a clear trend here? I do not!


              • skylien says:

                “Also I guess if it were the other way around and rainfall would increase it would also be because of climate change. ”

                What I mean here is in SE Australia, that if there were lots of floods this year the Headlines wouldn’t change.

              • Tel says:

                Yes, the headlines blame flooding and storms on Climate Change.


                Waves on the beach have become errr wavier because of Climate Change.

                Notice the way burden of proof operates: “But it is harder to rule out climate change having any influence at all.”

                Unless you can absolutely rule out Climate Change, we all must keep believing it causes everything. Since it’s difficult to conclusively prove a negative, they are comfortably safe against the risk of unbelievers.

                There’s a Homer Price kids story called “Ever-So-Much-More-So” where they buy this tin with a bunch of holes punched in the top and you shake the tin like a salt shaker over whatever you want to enhance. Then the item becomes ever so much more so whatever it already was. For example … you sprinkle it over your bike and now it’s more of a bike than before. Try it on your dog and he becomes more doggy. After that, the things he does would be exactly what a dog would do. You can even sprinkle it over yourself and become more yourself.

                Climate Change has a similar mechanism as that empty tin with holes in the top. You know it’s hard to rule out that the shaker tin didn’t have some enhancement effect.

              • Harold says:

                “The point in time you picked….”

                I am not sure what you mean here – which point?

                On general Australia fire discussion, not mentioning climate change at all, can we agree on some points?

                1) SE Australia has recently had very low rainfall, so it is very dry.
                2) SE Australia has very high temperatures recently.
                3) This combination leads to a very high fire potential.
                4) Given these conditions a severe fire season would be expected.
                5) This seasons burning is severe.

                We can agree on this without agreeing that climate change has anything to do with it, and we can dispense with arguments about arson etc.

                “Also how can you ignore the rainfall in all of Australia?” It should not be ignored, but it is not relevant to the fires in one part of Australia. Australia is big with different climatic regions.

              • skylien says:

                The link to the video about Heller vs Potholer starts 356 seconds in, I thought that was intentional.

                Absolutely agree with your second part. But then why are we even debating?

              • Harold says:

                Well, I live and learn. I did not know the URL adjusted as the video progressed. No, it was not intentional, but now I know it may be useful! I intended just to link to the video from the start.

        • Dan says:

          Can statism deal with it, in your opinion? What is the ideal CO2 reduction level? What percentage of scientists agree that is the ideal? What percentage of them agree with the methods for reduction? What percentage of those scientists support the GND? And how likely is it that the ideal will be put forth world wide?

          • Transformer says:

            I am not alone in not having good answers to those questions! Sadly problems do not go away just because the solution is elusive.

            I am confident that a stateless society based on mutual respect could more easily come up with optimal answers based on bargaining plus natural law.

            We are not close to abolishing the state so we may be in the territory of looking for the least worse alternative here.

          • Harold says:

            “What percentage of them agree with the methods for reduction?”

            Scientists are entitled to their opinion and to campaign for what they believe, but they are not experts in this. They are experts in their field. As far as which policy is preferable they are concerned citizens. What they can do is point out the likely impact of different policies in their area of expertise.

            We get this quite a lot from medics, who conclude for example that refined sugar intake is leading to obesity. Some then go on to propose particular solutions, maybe a sugar tax. However, the medics are not experts in the effects of taxation. What should happen is that other experts, perhaps economists, can estimate the effect of a particular tax on sugar consumption, the doctors can then estimate the medical benefits of that reduction and the politicians can decide is the benefits outweigh the costs. The politicians supposedly do this by acting as proxies for the rest of us.

            What happens is the process gets hijacked by interest groups and the conversation never happens. We end up arguing about whether sugar causes diabetes because it is easy to cast doubt on literally anything – see the flat Earthers. They dispute gravity, for heaven’s sake, and have a sizable following. Fortunately not sizable enough that it is affecting policy much yet, but for how long will that last?

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