climate models

Using and Abusing Models: Lessons from COVID-19

We’ve seen some great examples of how NOT to deal with models.

Models have figured heavily in government responses to the coronavirus. This has given us the opportunity for a real-time lesson in the uses of models. In the process, we’ve learned some important lessons in how to best make use of models — and equally importantly, in how not to use them. That’s directly relevant to …


How Hot Will Things Get?

Identifying a realistic worst case scenario is complicated.

How hot will the world be in 2100? The answer partly depends on how much carbon we dump in the atmosphere between now and then. It also depends on how sensitive the climate system is to those emissions. Scientists have used 4.5 °C as the high end of the likely possibilities. That estimate derives from …


Whither the Social Cost of Carbon?

Trump rescinded the Obama Administration’s estimate. Now what?

Republicans vehemently attacked the Obama Administration’s estimate of the social cost of carbon. Trump withdrew that estimate and directed individual federal agencies to do their own estimates. The agencies will now be faced with a number of problems, and it’s not clear that they are well positioned to deal with them.  They might prefer to …


Climate Fatigue

You might be tired of climate change. But climate change isn’t tired of you.

I gather that people are tired of hearing about climate change.  I’m tired of hearing about climate change, too. Sadly, Nature just doesn’t care  that much about entertaining us.  It’s going to be climate change this year, climate change next year, climate change the year after that . . . But don’t worry, it won’t …


Human Fingerprints on Australia’s Record Heatwave

Australia — or at least Australia’s current government — downplays the danger of climate change.   But, as a famous physicist once said, “reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.” Last summer in Australia (corresponding to the winter months up here) broke many, many records.  it was the hottest summer on record, …


The Climate Gamble

Paul Krugman has a review of a new book by William Nordhaus about climate policy.  By way of preface, I should say that Nordhaus is not particularly popular with environmentalists, who have generally considered him as too conservative in his policy recommendations.  Nordhaus does, however, more or less define the mainstream view — he’s very …


Heads in the Snow

This isn’t news to any of our readers, but as a massive winter storm descends on the East Coast, let us be clear about one thing: The existence of a terrible, extreme snowstorm, far from belying the existence of “global warming”/climate change, actually confirms it. According to every model and every prediction of the phenomenon, climate change will …


Climate Change May Be More Severe Than Previously Expected

The Washington Post reports on a new study with grim implications about climate change.  The study suggests that temperature increases by the end of the century will be at the upper end of predictions — 8°F.  (Keep in mind that this is the global average — the change will be lower over the oceans but …


Comparing Climate Models with Reality

Despite some year-to-year variation, the models are doing very well in predicting the overall global temperature trends.


Clarifying a Cloudy Situation

One of the biggest difficulties in climate models is posed by clouds.  Modelers need to know what kinds of clouds will form, at what altitudes, and with what precipitation resulting.  These turn out to be very hard to calculate, and scientists use heuristic approximations to fill the gaps.  A new study suggests that on the …