The Profound Junk Science of Climate

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published by American Thinker on November 27, 2021 and is crossposted here with permission.


Climate change prophecy hangs its hat on computer climate models. The models have gigantic problems. According to Kevin Trenberth, once in charge of modeling at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, “[None of the] models correspond even remotely to the current observed climate [of the Earth].” The models can’t properly model the Earth’s climate, but we are supposed to believe that, if carbon dioxide has a certain effect on the imaginary Earths of the many models it will have the same effect on the real earth.

The climate models are an exemplary representation of confirmation bias, the psychological tendency to suspend one’s critical facilities in favor of welcoming what one expects or desires. Climate scientists can manipulate numerous adjustable parameters in the models that can be changed to tune a model to give a “good” result. Technically, a good result would be that the climate model output can match past climate history. But that good result competes with another kind of good result. That other good result is a prediction of a climate catastrophe. That sort of “good” result has elevated the social and financial status of climate science into the stratosphere.

Once money and status started flowing into climate science because of the disaster its denizens were predicting, there was no going back. Imagine that a climate scientist discovers gigantic flaws in the models and the associated science. Do not imagine that his discovery would be treated respectfully and evaluated on its merits. That would open the door to reversing everything that has been so wonderful for climate scientists.  Who would continue to throw billions of dollars a year at climate scientists if there were no disasters to be prevented? No, the discoverer of any flaw would be demonized and attacked as a pawn of evil interests. Richard Lindzen and Roy Spencer come to mind. There are many more skeptical scientists keeping quiet in varying degrees.

Testing a model against past history and assuming that it will then predict the future is a methodology that invites failure. The failure starts when the modeler adds more adjustable parameters to enhance the model. At some point, one should ask if we are fitting a model or doing simple curve fitting. If the model has degenerated into curve fitting, it very likely won’t have serious predictive capability.

A strong indicator that climate models are well into the curve fitting regime is the use of ensembles of models. The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) averages together numerous models (an ensemble), in order to make a projection of the future. Asked why they do this rather than try to pick the best model, they say that the ensemble method works better. Why would averaging worse models with the best model make the average better than the best? This is contrary to common sense. But according to the mathematics of curve fitting, if different methods of fitting the same (multidimensional) data are used, and each method is independent but imperfect, averaging together the fits will indeed give a better result. It works better because there is a mathematical artifact coming from having too many adjustable parameters that allow the model to fit nearly anything.

One may not be surprised that the various models disagree dramatically, one with another, about the Earth’s climate, including how big the supposed global warming catastrophe will be. But no model, except perhaps one from Russia, denies the future catastrophe.

There is a political reason for using ensembles. In order to receive the benefits flowing from predicting a climate catastrophe, climate science must present a unified front. Dissenters have to be canceled and suppressed. If the IPCC were to select the best model, dozens of other modeling groups would be left out. They would, no doubt, form a dissenting group questioning the authority of those that gave the crown to one particular model. With ensembles, every group gets to participate in a rewarding conspiracy against humanity.

Fitting the model to climate history comes up against the fact that past climate history is poorly documented or unknown. There are scientific groups that specialize in examining and summarizing the vast trove of past climate history. Their summaries improve on the original data in ways that always seem to support global warming catastrophe. The website realclimatescience.com specializes in exposing this tampering with climate history.

Because so much of climate history is unknown, for example, climate influencing aerosols, the modelers have to make up the missing history. Each modeler is free to make up his own history, so the various models fit different assumed past climates. It would be very surprising if modelers weren’t manipulating their fabricated climates to make their models behave better.

Scientists are always cautioned not to fall in love with a theory or method. If they do, they will lose their objectivity. Facts that support their love will be celebrated, facts that cast doubt on their love will be ignored or forgotten. But if you spend years, or decades, married to a modeling methodology, divorce becomes less and less likely.

The National Academy of Sciences is a private organization in Washington, DC that touts itself as the science advisor to the government. Their advice has some common threads. They never criticize the scientific establishment and they always promote spending more money on science. Like the teachers’ unions, they pretend to support the common good but actually promote their constituency’s special interests.

The Academy sponsored a report on the future of climate modeling. They apparently saw nothing wrong with staffing the study committee with professional climate modelers. The report advocated more money for climate modelers and urged hiring professional public relations people to present results to the public.

The purported climate catastrophe ahead is 100% junk science. If the unlikely climate catastrophe actually happens, it will be coincidental that it was predicted by climate scientists. Most of the supporting evidence is fabricated. There Is no out-of-the-ordinary climate change taking place. The constant comparisons of the current climate with preindustrial climate are nonsense because according to climate theory and the models, the effect of CO2 was extremely minor before 1975. Since 1975 nothing points to a climate catastrophe or a new long-term trend.

The fake climate catastrophe has spawned a fake energy paradigm – replacing fossil fuels with wind and solar electricity. Wind and solar are claimed to be cheaper than traditional sources of electricity but non-fake accounting reveals that wind or solar electricity costs five or even ten times more than traditional electricity, exclusive, of course, of government subsidies and mandates. The reason it costs so much is that the erratic nature of wind and solar requires maintaining the traditional electricity generating system intact and ready to operate when wind and solar fail. Solar fails every night, every cloudy day, and more often in winter. Wind fails at random times, or somewhat predictable times, and often has a seasonal cycle. If the renewable energy advocates were logical, they would be advocating for nuclear. Nuclear is reliable and does not produce CO2.

Climate change and wind and solar electricity are a snipe hunts, diverting the country from serious problems in favor of imaginary problems with imaginary solutions that enrich the promoters and their political friends with status and money.


Image: Li-An Lim, Public Domain

Norman Rogers

Norman Rogers spent 10-years studying climate change and climate change scientists. He is the author of the book Dumb Energy, about wind and solar energy. He is on the board of the CO2 Coalition and was formerly on the board of the National Association of Scholars. He holds a master’s degree in physics.

13 thoughts on “The Profound Junk Science of Climate

    1. Two other very useful books
      “Climate Change the Facts 2017” and “2020”, both put out by Australia’s IPA Institute of Public Affairs

  1. I understand that there are various forms of bias connected to the AGW model interpretations. I also notice that there are a lot of predictions from past AGW modelers that have proved invalid. In fact, I can’t recall even one that has accurately predicted where we are now. However, I believe the strongest support of the AGW hype comes from people who have tribal connections to universities. The universities are of necessity, compliant with political money and dogma. To repeat the old adage: Tribal loyalty trumps truth-or the willingness to see the truth. It is hard to argue facts when they conflict with loyalties that conflict with emotional certainties.

  2. The very basic model of the earth used to try to show that carbon dioxide and water vapour cause global warming is TOTALLY flawed being an unrealistic weightless shell without SOIL, OCEAN or most importantly, a greenhouse-gas-free atmosphere. This “model” re-radiates immediately all energy received from the sun which even without any atrmosphere/clouds etc., still has a reducing albedo of 0.7 and on the night side has a temperature of zero Kelvin (-273 Centigrade). They define for their purpose a “special” uniform temperature without any cold poles or hot tropics, which over the WHOLE surface of the earth, quite mysteriously radiates the energy from the sun, giving a CONSTANT temperature of 255 K (-18 C).

    This then “requires” a further 33 K in order to reach the actually MEAN temperature of the real earth of 288 K (15 C). Of course this must come from the effects of carbon dioxide!!!!

    The real model of the earth of course includes soil, water and an inert atmosphere of oxygen and nitrogen but NO greenhouse gases. During the day, the soil and air are heated by the sun from the hot surface skin of the soil and the warmed ocean. This gives a mean temperature of – surprise, surprise – 15 C, a temperature which is of course retained over night almost completely so that the mean temperature of the globe is 288 K (15 C). Not a greenhouse gas in sight! John Nicol jonicol18@bigpond.com

  3. It is not a conspiracy theory to note that scientists are human beings first, and have conflicts of interest. Nevertheless, the essay is long on accusations and short on data.

    1. Please see my explanation above showing that CO2 CANNOT cause global warming asa claimed by the modelers and the IPCC.

      Please email me if you can show that my analysis is wrong. John

  4. It is interesting that all of the folks who deny humans are disastrously affecting the climate seem to belong to known right wing conspiracy theorist groups like “ National Association of Scholars” and “ Minding the campus” . At least this page allows comments; FIRE will not responded to critical emails.

    It is one thing to advocate for free speech on campus, and quite another to try to refute thousands of scientists and researchers who have data about the climate and publish it in peer reviewed journals where it is subject to rigorous critiques. No one can say the same for the references Rogers uses. The only one in a peer reviewed journal was posted not by the author, Trenberth, but on his behalf by an editor at Nature Climate Science, and is 15 years old. It refers only to pollution and hurricane stregnth.

    Does Rogers even understand the requirements for membership, the professional statue and credentials of the NAS? Calling it a “private organization that touts itself as a science advisor” is like calling the American Bar Association “ a bunch of left wing lawyers, or the American College of Physicians “crazy quacks”.

    Anyone who has gone to Glacier National Park and seen there are no Glaciers can accept that our atmosphere is rapidly warming. Arguing that we need to do nothing about it dooms our children and grandchildren to a disastrous future.

    1. What a bunch of emotive crap.

      Why don’t those who believe that humans are disastrously affecting the climate ever engage with actual data?

  5. Jonathan,
    It may not be a formal and declared conspiracy as you seem to be demanding, but both bees and bears flock to the honey without said agreement.

  6. Conspiracy – no. But the specifics in the post are very real – rampant confirmation bias, ignoring inconvenient data, use of models in ways that are inappropriate, and so on. You can’t grow grain in Iceland now, but we know you could 1,000 years ago – and similar evidence wherever we have written records – falsifies the statement that the world is warmer now than ever before. And if CO2 is causing the current warming, what caused the cooling that led to the Little Ice Age?

    The world has been warming since the end of the Little Ice Age, and yet the models focus on only CO2 as a cause. Natural variability, solar activity, and other potential causes are ignored (in fact, some recent publications make cogent cases for solar activity’s importance for our climate’s evolution) by the modelers. The latest suite of models actually perform worse in terms of matching current trends.

    But more perhaps most maddeningly, the perverse dependence on the models’ predictions lead to policy prescriptions that could reverse the progress being made by Third World countries, and push millions of people back into poverty.

  7. Ah, another rightwing conspiracy theorist: “rewarding conspiracy against humanity.” Kind of like the conspiracy to steal the election from Trump?

    Yeah, the current climate modeling doesn’t seem to agree with the actual temperature record when the modeling is used to make predictions. That doesn’t mean there’s a conspiracy, or that there is no global climate warming. Just google on ‘roy spencer temperature’ and up will pop the page from Roy Spencer, one of the few prominent open climate skeptics. It shows heating of about 0.5 degree Celsius over the past 40 years, or 1.25 degrees if you project a century forward. Is the warming actually linear, as I just assumed, or accelerating? I can’t tell and I doubt that you can either. Look at the record for the past century in the wikipedia article. Sure looks like the warming picked up a little earlier, 1975. The century projection looks to be 2 x 0.75 = 1.5 degrees. Consistent with the first guesstimate. I don’t see much of a conspiracy going on in wikipedia.

    Are the modelers overconfident? I think so, at least to judge by their PR. Some of them say so themselves. Are they part of a vast conspiracy? Kind of a stretch. The warming looks real to me. Will it be 2 or 3 degrees over a century? Seems entirely possible. I hope the modelers succeed soon in coming up with better models. Personally, I’d be happy to keep the earth’s temperature where it is.

    Meanwhile, climate skeptics can make rational arguments if they like. Or they can spout nutty conspiracy theories. I would prefer they take former path.

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