A Calculator Just Whupped UN Supercomputers at Accurately Modeling Climate

This is a pretty significant challenge to mainstream climate models: the Monckton, et al. model fits observations better and is wildly simpler. The mainstream models take thousands of hours of computation, while the “irreducibly simple” model takes a few multiplications and divisions. It’s arguably more predictive -- it hasn’t been around a long time, but it’s not sensitive to previous data, and does “hindcast” the “pause” far better than traditional models.

This, as you can imagine, is causing great consternation in the world of mainstream climate science.

In another paper, “Keeping it simple: the value of an irreducibly simple climate model,” published on August 6, Monckton, et al. answer the criticisms. You can read the press release Monckton wrote at Matt Briggs’ blog. (It’s a lovely bit of prose; Chris is a master of polemic.)

Brutally simplified, the underlying question is about one term in both the Monckton et al. model and the mainstream models: climate sensitivity to changes in carbon dioxide concentration.

This is expressed as estimated carbon sensitivity (ECS), which is stated as the amount of increase in global average surface temperature expected over 100 years for a doubling of average CO2 concentration. The IPCC models use a value of between 2°C and 6°C for ECS. The “irreducibly simple” model uses a value of about 1.2°C, derived, as I said, from basic physical principles.

The implication of this is that the impact of CO2 concentration is much less than the IPCC and the anthropogenic-climate-change-crisis crowd in general assumes it to be. Which means that increasing CO2 concentration is not a crisis, and doing things like massively increasing energy costs in the U.S. while trying to force third-world countries to stay third-world countries are unwarranted.

Now, be careful with this, because it isn’t proof that anthropogenic climate change is a hoax: the “irreducibly simple” model still fits with the basic science. That is, we still know that climate has changed over the last several hundred years, increases in greenhouse gases like CO2 contribute to that, and that we’ve got good reason to think humans are contributing to that increase.

What Monckton et al. have done is construct a simple physical model and they’ve shown it’s a better fit than the complex models. In general, more parsimonious models are preferred, and models that better fit all observations are preferred.

Neither statement means this model is more “right” in some sense, but when the existing models are proving unpredictive, and are being preserved by means of occult heat in the oceans and pretty arbitrary adjustments to actual ocean observations, it’s time to think maybe, just maybe, a new model is worth looking at.