Climate: Throwing Uncertainty for a Loop?

Climate realists are routinely charged with bad faith or worse for pointing to uncertainties in climate science, and especially the computer climate models on which predictions of future warming are based. Right now I’m picking myself up off the floor over a piece on a few days ago by David Roberts about climate modeling uncertainty “loops.” Floored—because Roberts is a deep green climatista who coined the term “climate hawks” for people like himself who want drastic action, and who once called for Nuremberg trials for climate skeptics. Here’s what he wrote in 2006:

When we’ve finally gotten serious about global warming, when the impacts are really hitting us and we’re in a full worldwide scramble to minimize the damage, we should have war crimes trials for these [climate skeptic] bastards — some sort of climate Nuremberg.

Yet in his Vox piece, Roberts notes this:

Basically, it’s difficult to predict anything, especially regarding sprawling systems like the global economy and atmosphere, because everything depends on everything else. There’s no fixed point of reference.

Grappling with this kind of uncertainty turns out to be absolutely core to climate policymaking. Climate nerds have attempted to create models that include, at least in rudimentary form, all of these interacting economic and atmospheric systems. They call these integrated assessment models, or IAMs, and they are the primary tool used by governments and international bodies to gauge the threat of climate change. IAMs are how policies are compared and costs are estimated.

So it’s worth asking: Do IAMs adequately account for uncertainty? Do they clearly communicate uncertainty to policymakers?

The answer to those questions is almost certainly “no.” But exactly why IAMs fail at this, and what should be done about it, is the subject of much debate.

It’s a very long article, but among other things it finds that model uncertainty is probably underestimated. Take in this:

Or to put it another way: Think about how insane it is to try to predict what’s going to happen in 2100.

There is a school of thought that says the whole exercise of IAMs, at least as an attempt to model how things will develop in the far future, is futile. There are so many assumptions, and the outcomes are so sensitive to those assumptions, that what they produce is little better than wild-ass guesses. And the faux-precision of the exercise, all those clean, clear lines on graphs, only serves to mislead policymakers into thinking we have a grasp on it. It makes them think we know exactly how much slack we have, how much we can push before bad things happen, when in fact we have almost no idea.

In the view of these researchers, the quest to predict what climate change (or climate change mitigation) will cost through 2100 ought to be abandoned. It is impossible, computationally intractable, and the IAMs that pretend to do it only serve to distract and confuse.

I wonder whether the climatistas will call off the RICO investigation any time soon? In any case, that thud you hear is the so-called climate “consensus” doing a belly flop on the lab room floor.

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