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Climate Experts Testify that Climate Change Projections are Unreliable and Misleading

May 29, 2014
Press Release

Washington, D.C. –Today, the Science, Space, and Technology Committee held a hearing to examine the methodology and reliability of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report. The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report is often cited by global warming enthusiasts as proof of dramatic climate change that threatens humanity, various species, and the Earth itself.

During the hearing, Brooks questioned the expert witnesses about climate models used by the Obama Administration to justify costly policies that stifle economic growth, cost jobs, and burden American families with higher costs of living.  Brooks asked whether these climate projection models should be relied on given that past, real climate data (referenced in the below chart created by Dr. John Christy at the University of Alabama in Huntsville) proves the climate models have been notably inaccurate in predicting future climate change.  The witnesses’ response:  excellent question. 

Prepared by Dr. John R. Christy, Professor and Director, Earth System
Science Center, NSSTC, University of Alabama in Huntsville.
The witnesses who testified today were:
Dr. Richard S.J. Tol, Professor of Economics, University of Sussex
Dr. Michael Oppenheimer, Albert G. Milbank Professor of Geosciences and International Affairs, Department of Geosciences, Princeton University
Dr. Daniel Botkin, Professor Emeritus, Department of  Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology, University of California, Santa Barbara
Dr. Roger Pielke Sr.,Senior Research Scientist, Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, and Professor Emeritus of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University
For video of the Q&A, click HERE.

Partial Transcript:

Congressman Brooks:  Why does it matter that these climate models have failed so frequently?

Dr. Pielke:  Well it’s one of the tests of the model.  I mean, if you’re going to use these models to try to predict what will happen in the next several decades, you want to have some confidence that they’re robust tools, and I think the models have failed to show that.  In fact, I think they’ve been a cause for a lot of the debate and discussion.  And I think, what Michael was saying, we don’t probably need the models, because the models are misleading us.  They’re talking about a future that may not occur.  It certainly hasn’t shown that the models are able to replicate what’s happened in the last several decades.  And so you wouldn’t believe a weather prediction model that was forecast for tomorrow or the next day if it kept failing all the time.  I think that’s what we have with these climate models.  They’re not ready for prime time.  Models are very useful.  They understand processes, they can help assimilate data, but as forecasting tools decades into the future, they’re not ready.

Brooks:  Dr. Botkin, do you have anything to add?

Dr. Botkin:  Yes, first of all, the models are well known not to be very well validated at any level.  And there’s work, such as by [J.] Scott Armstrong, who’s an expert on model validation mainly for businesses, and he says that these climate models meet hardly any of the criteria for legitimate validation.  And so, you have to question the validity of the model.  And I say this having worked on some of the models.  I had a graduate student who added vegetation to one of the climate models as his Ph.D. thesis.  So I think that the models, since they are so much failing to come close and haven’t been well-validated, they’re not a good guide now.

Brooks:  Well we’ve used this “97% of scientists agree” kind of number—is it fair to say that close to 100% of scientists agree that our models are failures?

Pielke:  No, a lot of people—look, obviously they don’t believe they’re failures because they base the IPCC and national climate assessment on it.

Brooks:  Well let me be more specific, that for the time frame from 2000 to 2014 that they have failed?

Pielke:  I would think some would still disagree.  They’ve been trying to explain why they’re not agreeing, why there’s less warming.  They say now the warming has gone deeper into the ocean, for example, which obviously raises the question, if it’s gone deeper in the ocean, why didn’t they predict that?  But I would think there are people who are still arguing that the models are robust.

Brooks:  Well I’m looking at the graph, is this graph accurate?

Pielke:  Yes, the graph is accurate.

Brooks:  Well the graph shows that the models don’t correspond with actual temperatures.  So how can people contend that the models are good if they’re way off base with the temperatures, with the exception of perhaps one or two out of all the models being run?

Pielke:  That is an excellent question.  But I think it’s even broader than that because as I showed in my written testimony, there are a range of peer-reviewed papers that have shown when these models have run over the last several decades, they can’t predict regional statistics well at all, they can’t predict changes in regional climate statistics, and therefore there’s a whole range of reasons they shouldn’t be accepted.  But the problem is this issue is not being discussed, and it wasn’t discussed at the NIPCC.

* Formore information on today’s hearing, visit the Science, Space, and Technology Committee website.

* For Chairman Lamar Smith’s release on the hearing click here.