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Australian Academy of Science hides model failures, other rainfall predictions, feedbacks evidence

The Australian Academy of Science (AAAS) updated their “Science of Climate Change” document. It’s more glossy unscientific propaganda.

Garth Paltridge wonders in The Australian  if the Academy will come to regret it. As usual, it’s what they don’t say that matters. They don’t mention how badly the current models have failed, and they hide that climate models give contradictory rainfall projections and just cherry pick one that gives the answer they want. They repeat the meaningless argument that their models don’t “work” without CO2. Perhaps they should let the taxpaying voters know that their models don’t “work” with CO2 either? None of the models can explain what caused the Medieval or Roman warming when CO2 was “ideal”. They conceal that the model forecasts rely on assumptions of feedbacks that the empirical evidence shows are wrong.

Basically the Academy has fallen into the trap of being no more than a conduit for a massive international political campaign ”

 Climate of cherry-picking

The problem is that, after several decades of refining their story, the international gurus of climate change have become very good at having their cake and eating it too.  On the one hand they pay enough lip service to the uncertainties of global warming to justify continued funding for their research.  On the other, they peddle a belief — this with religious zeal, and with a sort of subconscious blindness to overstatement and the cherry-picking of data — that the science is settled and the world is well on its way to climatic disaster.  The Academy document fits neatly into the pattern.  It is a sophisticated production that tells only one side of the story.

For instance it does not say, or illustrate with a diagram, that all the mainstream climate models have over-estimated the general upward trend of global temperature for the last 30-or-more years by a factor (on average) of at least two.   Nothing is said about the distinct possibility that the models include feedback processes which amplify far too much the effect of increased atmospheric carbon dioxide.

Instead, the document talks about an apparent pause in global warming since 2001.  It attributes the pause to some temporary fluctuation in the internal behaviour of the ocean.  It does not mention that climate scientists have for many years deliberately played down the contribution of natural oceanic fluctuations to the rise or fall of global temperature.  The possibility of naturally induced rises seriously weakens the overall story of human influence.

The document makes much of the belief that climate models can correctly replicate twentieth century global warming only if they include human influences.  It fails to make the point that this says very little for the skill either of the models or the modellers.  Recent research on the Roman and Mediaeval warm periods indicates that both had temperatures and temperature changes very similar to those of the present.  Both periods came and went without the benefit of significant human emissions of carbon dioxide.

Cherry picked rainfall projections:

The document mentions that long-term regional rainfall predictions are uncertain.  It doesn’t say that they are probably nonsense.  The various model forecasts of the average Australian rainfall for the end of the century range from a doubling to a halving of the present 450mm/year.  It smacks of cherry picking to display a map of the output from one particular model that indicates a future reduction in rainfall for most of Australia of the order of 20%.

There has been a goodly amount of arbitrary selection (of data, of statistical technique and of display) in an illustration of the distribution of the change in observed rainfall over Australia the past 100 years.  The southeast and southwest of the continent are shown as a sea of red suggesting there has been a frightening decrease over the period.  No mention is made that a more traditional presentation of the data gives an entirely different picture.  In the southwest, the recent annual-average rainfall has simply returned to something close to its value for the 15-or-so years before about 1905.  In most of the southeast, there has been no statistically significant change at any time.

Paltridge wishes the Academy of Science would focus on real problems like “group think”, the lack of polite debate, and the failures of bureaucratized “peer review”.

Maybe the Academy could use the resource of its overall fellowship to identify those situations where scientists have too much skin in a political game.  President Eisenhower foresaw that problem many years ago in his retirement speech to the nation:  “The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present — and is gravely to be regarded.  Yet, …… we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite”.


Garth Paltridge is a former CSIRO Chief Research Scientist and Director of the Antarctic Cooperative Research Centre. He wrote The Climate Caper, reviewed here.

All my posts involving Garth Paltridge.

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