Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What It Doesn’t, And Why It Matters, by Steven E. Koonin, reviewed by Robert Darwell

People who vest a lot of faith in computer modeling of highly complex phenomena don’t understand the limitations of such modeling. From Robert Darwell at realclearenergy.org:

On January 8, 2014, at New York University in Brooklyn, there occurred a unique event in the annals of global warming: nearly eight hours of structured debate between three climate scientists supporting the consensus on manmade global warming and three climate scientists who dispute it, moderated by a team of six leading physicists from the American Physical Society (APS) led by Dr. Steven Koonin, a theoretical physicist at New York University. The debate, hosted by the APS, revealed consensus-supporting climate scientists harboring doubts and uncertainties and admitting to holes in climate science – in marked contrast to the emphatic messaging of bodies such as Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

At one point, Koonin read an extract from the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report released the previous year. Computer model-simulated responses to forcings – the term used by climate scientists for changes of energy flows into and out of the climate system, such as changes in solar radiation, volcanic eruptions, and changes in the concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere – “can be scaled up or down.” This scaling included greenhouse gas forcings.

Some forcings in some computer models had to be scaled down to match computer simulations to actual climate observations. But when it came to making centennial projections on which governments rely and drive climate policy, the scaling factors were removed, probably resulting in a 25 to 30 percent over-prediction of the 2100 warming.

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