Weather vs. Climate: Let’s Have Some Consistency

I accept the fact that one cannot project long-term climate trends on the basis of short-term weather fluctuations. Most objective students of science recognize this.

But environmental scientist Roger Pielke, Jr., of the University of Colorado, notes a curious lack of consistency among climatologists when commenting on weather anomalies. He offers two quotes from the folks at Real Climate as evidence. First, they tied the record-setting Arctic ice melt last summer to the long-range IPCC climate model. But later, they criticized Pielke and John Tierney for challenging the IPCC model on the basis of weather patterns over the span from 2000 to 2007.

Pielke concludes,

So according to Real Climate, one-year’s ice extent data can be compared to climate models, but 8 years of temperature data cannot.

Right. This is why I believe that whatever one’s position of climate change is, everyone should agree that rigorous forecast verification is needed.

For the record, Pielke is not a global warming skeptic. He is not in the pocket of the energy companies. He is a scientist who is pleading for intellectual honesty in the climate debate.

I repeat: Some day the current hysteria over global warming will be taught in universities as a good example of how not to do science. Hmmm. Perhaps Prof. Pielke is already teaching that.


2 responses to “Weather vs. Climate: Let’s Have Some Consistency

  1. I’d also point out that what they know about weather only allows them to project weather with some degree of accuracy only about 1 to 2 hours ahead.

    Don’t believe me? Let’s do a test. Write down the five day forecast. Come back in five days and check the accuracy. If they got more than about 20% of it right, I’d be surprised. In fact, you have to give them such a wide margin of error that statistically it’s almost meaningless.

    So, how well do you think anyone can really do on predicting climate 10, 50 and a 100 years from now? It’s probably every bit as good as an economic forecast.

    Science just isn’t very good at making predictions and forecasts that have multiple influence factors. From what I understand, forecasting climate involves thousands of factors. So if I were a betting man, I’d give you odds that the predictions are wrong.

  2. Just read that it snowed in Bagdahd for the first time in anyone’s memory.

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