December 16, 2003


I hate models. No, thatís not right; I love models. What I hate are climate model projections:

If the climate model projections on the level of warming are right, sea levels will be rising for the next thousand years, the glaciers will be melting faster and dramatic increases in the intensity in rainfall rates and hurricanes are expected.

Predict away, Mr Predict-O-Matic! Michael Crichton -- yes, the writer guy -- hates this nonsense too:

Even if the models get the science spot-on, they can never get the sociology. To predict anything about the world a hundred years from now is simply absurd.

Let's think back to people in 1900 in, say, New York. If they worried about people in 2000, what would they worry about? Probably: Where would people get enough horses? And what would they do about all the horseshit? Horse pollution was bad in 1900, think how much worse it would be a century later, with so many more people riding horses?

Now. You tell me you can predict the world of 2100. Tell me it's even worth thinking about. Our models just carry the present into the future. They're bound to be wrong.

Itís a long piece, from a speech made several months ago. Worth reading.

Posted by Tim Blair at December 16, 2003 11:30 PM

The thing about climate models is that they cannot even predict the past.

Using them to predict the future is dangerous.

Posted by: M. Simon at December 16, 2003 at 11:39 PM

Speaking of inaccurate predictions:

Did you know that disco record sales were up 400% for the year ending 1976? If these trends continues... AAY!"

Posted by: Richard at December 16, 2003 at 11:46 PM

Those New Yorkers were right to worry about all the horse shit in the future. Now, where did I put my BBC Licence application form...

Posted by: Mark at December 16, 2003 at 11:56 PM

Those New Yorkers were right to worry about all the horse shit in the future. Now, where did I put my BBC Licence application form...

Posted by: Mark at December 16, 2003 at 11:57 PM

Did you notice what he said about second-hand smoke?

Posted by: Peggy Sue at December 17, 2003 at 12:00 AM

The first solid waste disposal problem to attract the attention of policy makers was a consequence of an increase in the use of urban horses over the nineteenth century. Manure was one problem. Sanitary experts in the early part of the twentieth century agreed that the normal city horse produced between fifteen and thirty pounds of manure a day, with the average being about twenty-two pounds. In a city like Milwaukee in 1907, for instance, with a human population of 350,000 and a horse population of 12,500, this meant 133 tons of manure a day, or an average of nearly three-quarters of a pound of manure per person per day. Or, as the health officials in Rochester calculated in 1900, the 15,000 horses in that city produced enough manure in a year to make a pile covering an acre of ground 175 feet high and breeding sixteen billion flies (Tarr 1996: 323-324).

The carcasses of dead horses were another: A description of Broadway appearing in the Atlantic Monthly in 1866 spoke of the street as being clogged with 'dead horses and vehicular entanglements." In 1880 New York City removed 15,000 dead horses from its streets; and as late as 1912, Chicago carted away nearly 10,000 horse carcasses. (A contemporary book on the collection of municipal refuse advised that, since the average weight of dead horses was 1,300 pounds, "trucks of the removal of dead horses should be hung low, to avoid an excessive lift." (Tarr 1996: 327)

Posted by: ZsaZsa at December 17, 2003 at 12:08 AM

I have never had a global warming moonbat explain to me why the sea levels will rise to catastrophic heights when the temperatures reach the level they did 500 years ago, during the Medieval Climate Optimum. None of our current coastlines were submerged then; why would they be submerged when we reach the same average global temperatures in 100 years or so?

The answer is, of course, that they won't be submerged. Current thinking is that, as temperatures go up, more moisture evaporates from the ocean (duh!) and falls as snow on the poles.

Posted by: R. C. Dean at December 17, 2003 at 01:05 AM

When they can accurately predict where IO will be in its orbit around Jupiter in 10 years time, I might start listening to them blabber about climate models accuracy in 5 years time, must less 100 years.

Posted by: Mythilt at December 17, 2003 at 01:16 AM

Here's a challenge for the weather-doom predicters:

Accurately predict what the weather will be ONE WEEK FROM TODAY!!

Once you can do that accurately, maybe I'll start to believe your predictions for weather 100 years from now.

Posted by: David Crawford at December 17, 2003 at 01:43 AM

I'll go you one further. Once weather models can accurately extrapolate today's climate using past data, I'll start to pay attention.

To be proper, there's a difference between prediction of weather and prediction of climate. Weather is what happens today; climate is more like aggregate weather. One can have climate models that forecast what the climate's going to do without being able to predict if it's going to rain next a month from tomorrow in Dallas. I don't think we're at the point that we can accurately predict climate trends, though.

Posted by: Slartibartfast at December 17, 2003 at 01:56 AM

At 9:00 AM (GMT) today it was 5 degrees celsius in London, it is now 11 degrees. If this trend continues then the world will be burnt to crisp before Christmas! And all because we insist on using planes.

Posted by: Ross at December 17, 2003 at 02:42 AM

Instapundit has a link to another amazing Crichton speech, given to the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco.

Posted by: KCM at December 17, 2003 at 03:22 AM

Is radical Islam the real threat?

Posted by: Beets at December 17, 2003 at 03:26 AM

Don't worry, as soon as CO2 levels are no longer a factor, the Greens will latch onto something else. My bet is on 'waste heat', which can of course only be controlled by completely dismantling Western technological civilization.

Posted by: dzd at December 17, 2003 at 03:38 AM

It will still be the US's fault for not ratifying Kyoto, however.

Posted by: dzd at December 17, 2003 at 03:39 AM

Panic politics is all it is. The exact same climatologists were proclaiming global cooling and a new ice age, also caused by industrial development, a decade ago. The only new revelation they've had is that people are more likely to panic at the thought of their homes getting flooded than they are at the thought of a glacier slowly moving out from the poles. That's the reason for the switch, not any new discoveries on the climatological front.

Posted by: Tatterdemalian at December 17, 2003 at 03:39 AM

In 1893, Chicago hosted the World's Fair. The Chicago Tribune commissioned 100 writers to predict what America would be like in 1993. (The essays were reprinted that year by The Chicago Historical Society -- sadly, the book is now out-of-print.) Several of the writers spoke of Manifest Destiny -- the USA swallowing up Canada, Mexico, most of the Western Hemisphere. Chicago as the largest, most important city (of course). One or two even mentioned women's suffrage.

Interestingly, while several of them predicted airplanes, radio, even television, not one single writer predicted the automobile. They all foresaw greater and greater horse populations (and larger, more elaborate train systems), with the attendant problems of pollution.

The second-biggest issue facing America in the 20th Century was "the servant problem." Several writers spoke of this, but none explained it. Apparently, in 1893 everybody knew what this meant. Years later, I discovered it referred to the fact that decent-paying factory jobs were luring all the young women away from domestic service. Apparently, it was hard to find good help in those days.

Posted by: Gene Dillenburg at December 17, 2003 at 04:35 AM

R.C. Dean --

Coastlines HAVE changed in the past 500 years. Not catastrophically, no, but they have changed, where conditions were right for showing it. (There were Middle-Ages seaport towns in Britain, for example, that are landlocked now.)

In other words: does the issue exist? Certainly. Does it exist to a significant degree? No, it doesn't. Is it something we need to worry about in the short term? No.

Me, I'd be more impressed if these climatologists could prove that they know how to do the math. We have some 360 million square kilometers of ocean; therefore, "raising the oceans" by one centimeter, globally, would require 3600 cubic kilometers of water, corresponding to melting some 3925 cubic kilometers of ice. (Take a moment, please, and contemplate what a CUBIC KILOMETER OF ICE represents!)

Now, using an estimate of 16 million square kilometers of ice-cap globally, that means that we'd need to melt off an average of a quarter-meter of ice, worldwide. (If you prefer to think locally, imagine melting the Greenland ice-cap to a depth of over two meters.)

Climatologists, how much global warming would be needed to accomplish THAT? (And all that would give us, remember, is sea-levels ONE CENTIMETER higher. Flooding, I dare say, would require rather more than that.)

Please feel free to check my math...

Daniel in Medford

Posted by: Daniel in Medford at December 17, 2003 at 04:41 AM

Math? You want these people to do math?

By the way, it's actually worse than what Daniel says. The North Pole ice cap is not sitting on a continent - it's actually a giant ice cube. This means that it's displacing a whole bunch of water.

As ice melts, it shrinks. If we melted the entire North Pole ice cap, sea level would drop, not increase.

Funny how no one actually tries to work these things out.

Posted by: Jay at December 17, 2003 at 05:58 AM

Actually, if the North Pole cap melted there would be no change. An ice cube displaces an equivalent mass of water; when it melts, it will fill in exactly that volume. The part above water is due to the density difference between ice and water.

Posted by: RonB at December 17, 2003 at 07:28 AM

Three quarters of a pound of horse manure each!I bet that after a week some people would have more than others,how can we ensure that there is equality of distrbution,how can we encourage people to take up their entitlement, soon we would need Horse Manure Equality Outreach Officers and I bet the Chancellor would wan't 40% of it.Anyway I'm willing to sacrifice for the common good he can have mine.

Posted by: Peter Bocking at December 17, 2003 at 09:08 AM


...not according to "Waterworld".

Hasn't anyone seen Waterworld? I mean, do we really want to be drinking our own urine?

Posted by: Cruddrick at December 17, 2003 at 09:15 AM

Last I heard, they were claiming that if water temperatures increase then the water expands. Combined with polar melting, you get significant sea level rise.

See also - That Kyoto is a Fraud

Link thanks to Bizarre Science

Posted by: Australian Elvis at December 17, 2003 at 09:17 AM

More than just a few of those predicting the global warming catastrophe were predicting a coming ice age twenty or thirty years ago.
Chicken Little strikes again.

Posted by: Mike O at December 17, 2003 at 11:11 AM

If the Northern ice cap melted, I'd expect a slight rise, but not much.

First, the oceans would be slightly warmer so they'd bulge a bit.

Second, it's pure ice floating in salt water. Salt water is slightly denser, so the volume the ice displaces is slightly less than the volume of the melted water.

Both effects put together, however, should be indetectable.

Posted by: John Nowak at December 17, 2003 at 03:46 PM

If the Northern ice cap melted, I'd expect a slight rise, but not much.

First, the oceans would be slightly warmer so they'd bulge a bit.

Second, it's pure ice floating in salt water. Salt water is slightly denser, so the volume the ice displaces is slightly less than the volume of the melted water.

Both effects put together, however, should be indetectable.

Posted by: John Nowak at December 17, 2003 at 03:46 PM

Apologies for the double post. My bad.

Posted by: John Nowak at December 17, 2003 at 03:50 PM

Second hand smoke

Peggy Sue - Yep, the EPA cooked the books for a political cause. Several prestigious medical schools called them on it at the time, including UCLA. However, our betters in the major media and the Nanny Staters drowned them out in so-called "righteous wrath and indignation." Recall that "trial lawyers" are the second largest contributers to the Democratic Party, after teachers unions. Instead of banning the evil product for the health and well-being of the general populace, the State and Federal govenments passed massive tobacco tax increases, to protect the public, don't you know, by making it less affordable, but just coincidentally increasing the treasury coffers. At the same time, numerous states filed huge civil law suits against the tobacco companies. Ostensibly, the money would be allocated to anti-smoking education programs and to support the added costs of state funded health care caused by the burden of smoking related illnesses. Curiously, most states actually put the money into the general treasury fund, later frequently asking for tax increases to fund health care costs. I'm sure it's only a coincicence that Dan Morales, the Democrat Attorney General of Texas, who ramrodded the Texas law suit, was later convicted of conspiracy and fraud in the disposition of the settlement funds. He was also the Democrat candidate who ran for, and lost, a bid for Governor, after Bush resigned.

Despite all that, never forget, that the EPA has the strength of ten, because their heart is pure, and they only want what is best for us.

Now move along, nothing to see here.

Posted by: CGeib at December 17, 2003 at 04:22 PM

Gene Dillenberg writes: "while several [writers in 1893] predicted airplanes, radio, even television, not one single writer predicted the automobile"

That's especially pathetic, since the first automobile was built in 1769, the first gasoline-powered automobile was built in 1864, and the first successful passenger automobiles were built in 1885.

Posted by: Ken Summers at December 18, 2003 at 12:40 AM

Automobiles were too boring to predict. It's like everybody predicting the videophone but not the cellphone with a couple dozen additional functions.
Models are good. They satisfy our curiosity and help a lot sometimes. The proper response to the prediction that the sea will be a few feet higher in several hundred years is "so?". I mean, nobody's going to drown and a few hundred years is enough time for everyone in New York City to move to New Jersey.

Posted by: maor at December 18, 2003 at 01:40 AM

God bless Michael Crichton.

Makes you wonder if all those claims about Sydney running out of water are patent bullshit. Rip out your European gardens you evil rose growers and stop watering the lawn so we have room for more economic migrants posing as refugees from the middle east.

Politicians using crap science to bolster their own agendas. Mmm - I sound as paranoid as a leftie

Posted by: Gilly at December 19, 2003 at 01:49 PM

I stopped watering my lawn years ago. Of course, that's just because I'm a lazy bum.

As for Kyoto... Heck, even New Scientiest is pointing out that it's a lousy idea.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at December 19, 2003 at 02:53 PM