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Climate change predictions — what went wrong?

September 25, 2017

By Paul Homewood



A good analysis in the Times, following up last week’s story about how climate models had grossly overestimated global warming:




As egg-on-face moments go, it was a double-yolker. Last week a group of climate scientists published a paper that admitted the estimates of global warming used for years to torture the world’s conscience and justify massive spending on non-carbon energy sources were, er, wrong.


Being wrong is not a criminal offence, especially in science, where in the long run almost everything turns out to be wrong, but the global warmers have adopted such a high-and-mighty tone to anyone who questions them that for sceptics this was pure joy.

The world may still be doomed, but it is not quite as doomed as the climatologists have repeatedly told us.

The admission was overdue acknowledgment of something that has been obvious for years. Despite the climate models predicting rapidly rising temperatures, between 1998 and 2013 temperatures barely rose at all. This was a pause, not a change in the underlying trend, the scientists and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change insisted. Global warming was still going on, even when it wasn’t.

The pause hadn’t been predicted by the computer models, but admitting that wasn’t really an option. Anxiety needed to be ramped up in order to achieve international agreement on cutting carbon emissions. That was achieved — at the cost of browbeating doubters — and the Paris agreement struck in 2016 committed signatories to limit warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.

It couldn’t actually be done, the scientists said. To keep warming below 1.5C, total emissions from 2015 onwards could not amount to more than 70 gigatonnes of carbon — seven years’ worth at current emission rates.

Last week’s paper in Nature Geoscience recalculates that as 200 gigatonnes, or 240 gigatonnes if great efforts are also made to reduce other global-warming gases such as nitrous oxide and methane.

So instead of seven years, we’ve got 20, or maybe 24. The task has gone from impossible to very difficult, said one of the paper’s authors, Joeri Rogelj.

Another author, Myles Allan of Oxford, told The Times: “We haven’t seen that rapid acceleration in warming after 2000 that we see in the models. We haven’t seen that in the observations.”

Allan’s defence of the models, however, was peculiar. He said that they had been assembled a decade ago, so it wasn’t surprising they had deviated from reality. Yet these are the very same models used to make predictions for 50 or 100 years ahead which have saddled taxpayers with huge costs to pay for alternative energy sources. Anybody who doubted their predictive power was labelled an unscientific dolt, a “climate denier” fit to be listed with the Flat Earthers.

As long as there have been computer models, there have been inaccurate forecasts. In the early 1970s the Club of Rome published The Limits to Growth, an extrapolation of population, pollution and resource depletion that concluded that the world was heading for imminent catastrophe. It sold more than 16m copies. I keep one on my shelves to remind me of the folly of Malthusian predictions.

Today the world is richer, cleaner, and better-fed than it was in 1972, while the Club of Rome is forgotten. It still exists, headquartered in Winterthur, Switzerland, which must be nice.

The global-warming models are far more sophisticated than the Limits to Growth model, but that isn’t entirely a good thing. There is a paradox in modelling: the more sophisticated the models become, the greater the uncertainty of the effects they predict. As more parameters are added to the models — the rate at which ice falls through clouds, for example — the more uncertainties are added.

To reach its conclusions in the new paper, the team used actual temperatures today, which are 0.3C lower than the models said they would be. That provides more headroom for carbon emissions before the 1.5C target is reached. While the models’ error may seem small, it has big implications for future policy.

For one thing, it makes President Donald Trump’s rejection of the Paris agreement far less worrying. The US emits about 1.5 gigatonnes of carbon a year. Supposing Trump serves only a single term and in that time America reduces mitigation efforts, the effect is going to be insignificant when compared with the 200 gigatonnes the team estimates the world can afford to emit.

However, what the climate-change campaigners fear is that the acknowledgment of error will take the pressure off. Two of them, Lord Stern and Lord Krebs, wrote to The Times to try to head this off.

They argue that the errors do not mean that climate change isn’t happening. There were always uncertainties about its pace and magnitude, Krebs says — though you might not have thought so from the language often used and the efforts to deny airtime to those with doubts, such as Lord Lawson, the former chancellor.

Warming resumed in 2014. The climate warmers aren’t wrong, though a touch more humility would be appreciated.


Unfortunately the author spoils things with his final sentence. As we know, in 2014 temperatures began to spike as a result of the record El Nino.

Since late last year they have returned earlier levels. The pause is alive and well!



There has been a desperate attempt to divert attention away from the findings of the new paper. This article mentions a letter to the Times by the phoneys, Lords Krebs and Stern.

I have also seen a similar letter in the Mail from Myles Allen. It stated that the difference of 0.3C was really rather insignificant, and that we were still all going to die if we did mend our evil ways, only slightly later!

But the difference is actually really huge, bearing in mind that this is over a period of just 15 years, and particularly when the authors admit that emissions of CO2 have been much greater than originally assumed.

  1. September 25, 2017 10:53 am

    The worst organisation is the BBC, which has covered up the issue completely. Channel 4 is not far behind.

    • September 25, 2017 11:12 am

      Looking back to the 2001 IPCC report, its key finding other than the now discredited Mann, Bradley and Hughes Hockey Stick Graph, was that global temperatures rose by a ‘massive’ 0.6C during the Twentieth Century. How things change!

      So now 0.3C is an insignificant number according to Myles Allen who is the same clown who put out a press release in 2005, on behalf of his ‘distributed computing model’, warning the world that this predicted an 11.0C (Yep! not a typo) rise in temperature by the end of the century. Something that Allen later denied doing:

      Funny that none of the MSM, or for that matter the bogs, seem to be mentioning this so that the public can view his present claim in the context his record as a research scientist.

  2. Mike Jackson permalink
    September 25, 2017 11:12 am

    I’m always amused by the reference to “flat earthers” considering that the last time I looked the Flat Earth Society was fully signed up to the AGW meme.

    What is it about the pontificators on climate they appear to be teflon-coated? Nurse should have been laughed out of the room in that notorious interview with Delingpole when he compared “deniers” to the people who trash GM crops! Was he unaware that those are the same eco-activists who are the most fanatical supporters of the climate scam or did he — and apparently everyone else — not care whether it was true or not?

    Stern, of course, is simply saying what his organ-grinder wants him to say!

  3. September 25, 2017 11:52 am

    I will start paying attention to warmist scientists predictions of global average temperature in the future when their settled science can tell me what it is today. Which is to say, when they can show me a real live angel right here and now then I will be interested in their discussion of how many of them can dance on the head of a pin.

  4. richard verney permalink
    September 25, 2017 12:20 pm

    Of course, recently the feared 2 deg C warming has for some unexplained reason now been reduced to 1.5degC of warming, notwithstanding that the evidence points to a warming world being a better world.

    But it is interesting to look at the Hadcrut4 data, for several reasons, viz:

    Now according to the IPCC, manmade CO2 emissions only became a significant factor after WW2, and that prior to then, manmade CO2 did not drive temperature rises.

    And yet there is no statistical difference in the rate of warming of the warming episodes that took place prior to WW2 when CO2 was not a factor, and the warming episode (late 20th century warming) when CO2 is claimed to be a factor.

    Phil Jones (the head of CRU) specifically confirmed that in the BBC interview:

    QUESTION: Do you agree that according to the global temperature record used by the IPCC, the rates of global warming from 1860-1880, 1910-1940 and 1975-1998 were identical?
    ANSWER:I have also included the trend over the period 1975 to 2009, which has a very similar trend to the period 1975-1998.
    So, in answer to the question, the warming rates for all 4 periods are similar and not statistically significantly different from each other.

    So it would appear that CO2 emissions post WW2 have not increased the rate of warming.

    Further one will note from the plot which only goes up to 2009, that as at 2009, the temperature anomaly was about +0.5 degC (may be +0.52 degC) and that in 1880 it was 0.4degC, 1940 it was +0.4 degC, and in 1943 it was +0.4 degC.

    Thus as at around 2009, the temperature anomaly was only around +0.1 degC more than it was in the 1940s, or for that matter only about 0.1 degC above that of 1880.

    Given that CO2 is said to be an issue and driver of temperature change only post WW2, it follows that if CO2 has done anything, it has only increased the temperature by about 0.1degC over and above that seen in the 1940/43. So it would appear that manmade CO2 emissions are not doing much of substance (even if one were to accept that HADCRUT 4 is reasonably accurate).

    Of course, I accept that if this plot were to be updated through to 2017, the positive anomaly would be a little higher than the +0.5degC noted in 2009, but that is the result of the recent strong El Nino of 2015/16 and the ENSO cycle has yet to complete with a La Nina.

    Presently, the balance of forecasts is for a La Nina late 2017/early 2018, and if that foercast turns out to be correct, there will be a lag of a few months before it has a significant impact on temperatures. It follows that if there is such a La Nina, we may well be seeing in say April/May 2018, HADCRUT 4 with a positive anomaly around the 0.5degC mark and only some 0.1degC over and above temperatures seen in 1880 and in 1940/43 notwithstanding all that CO2 emitted by man over the intervening years.

    Climate Sensitivity should be seen to be far lower than presently accepted to be the case, and this is the reason why the models run hot, and the claims of warming are exaggerated.

    • Matthew permalink
      September 25, 2017 1:54 pm

      I suspect the increase in rate 0.14 to 0.15 has more to do with error bars, data tampering and UHI than CO2.

    • Jack Broughton permalink
      September 25, 2017 6:07 pm

      When one looks at the basis for all of the future predictions, i.e. radiative forcing due to CO2 guesses, ranging from 2 to 8.5 W/m2 suspicion should be aroused. The whole house of cards depends on this as its main input and it is merely an assessment by a group of believers.
      I still do not know where the magic values for human disaster came from they seem to range from 1.5 to 5 deg K above a mythical 19th century value that typifies the earth’s climate history.
      The global temperature is virtually insensitive to CO2.

  5. Don B permalink
    September 25, 2017 12:27 pm

    The media has been ignoring the pause, or hiatus, or warming slowdown for years. Six years ago Dr. Roger Pielke, Sr. reviewed an article in a specialist publication which asked a dozen climate scientists the question

    “Why, despite steadily accumulating greenhouse gases, did the rise of the planet’s temperature stall for the past decade?”

    • Gerry, England permalink
      September 25, 2017 12:46 pm

      There have been isolated articles on the failure of temperature to rise but generally the legacy media support the global warming scam.

  6. September 25, 2017 12:43 pm

    Reblogged this on Climate Collections.

  7. Broadlands permalink
    September 25, 2017 1:09 pm

    200 gigatons of CO2? That represents 100 ppm of CO2 to capture and safely store geologically. Even if it was possible (using solar and wind?), that would take many hundreds of years and the costs would be huge. Totally quixotic.

    NOAA has documented that the mean temperature for each month of 2017 through August, was lower than the same month in 2016. The “hiatus” seems alive and doing better…even if it is an “artifact” as stated by some.

  8. Athelstan permalink
    September 25, 2017 2:18 pm

    Stern and Krebbs or Ant and Dec, who to believe?

    Gulp, it’s a toss up but on complex climate modelling and prognosication i’d have to plump for Ant and Dec or consult with one of the town winos with which incidentally contrary to the local wags gossip, I have only an infrequent acquaintance.

    Computer modelling and global hyperbole alarmism, one could actually aver that the latter couldn’t be without the former, thus it follows now that the sometime future Armageddon has been postponed but Myles Allen has to keep his 4×4 on the road so, the same old **** is still spouted, mind you if people can and do vote for Socialist Nirvana on earth with jeremy corbyn – they’ll believe in anything and that’s what Myles, Nicky and Lord haw haw Krebsy rely upon.

    Meanwhile the whole world climate changes and computerists have gone GIGO….

    me? I’m ganin doon t’offy for shome essence el Herez.

  9. Ben Vorlich permalink
    September 25, 2017 2:23 pm

    All that’s needed now is for there to be a recognition that life flourishes when the planet is warmer than it is today, and warmer than an increase of 2’C would be. Then alarmism about climate warming would be dead and buried, although that will be as easy to achieve as Carbon capture and storage.

    • Broadlands permalink
      September 25, 2017 2:35 pm

      The climate was warmer than today back in the late Eocene when CO2 was more than double what it is today. Capture and store 50 ppm to take us back to the climate of 350 ppm, 1987? Where is reality in all this political climatology?

      • dave permalink
        September 25, 2017 2:53 pm

        I watched Tony Robinson’s latest “Walks” program, which was a wander across Dartmoor. Actually pretty boring as there is not much there! However, there were a few references to the fact that 8,000 years ago the whole thing was a beautiful wood. That was the time of the climatic optimum!

  10. jim permalink
    September 25, 2017 2:28 pm

    Paul, I have read your superb blog for ages, but only recently decided to contribute. I am a Physicist by training , now retired after years in the UK electricity and gas industry.
    I admire your and most other contributors dedication in pointing out the lack of scientific substance behind the CO2/ global warming/climate change scam. However I don’t believe it will make a scrap of difference to the direction the western world ( in particular) is moving. The ‘establishment’ made up primarily of financial institutions, very wealthy individuals and their political lackeys are well aware of the intellectual deficiencies of the warmists. However they are encouraged to continue with their dire predictions whipped on by the subservient MSM. It serves the useful purpose of reinforcing the fear factor and virtue signalling required to keep the populace ‘paying’.
    And that is what it is all about, the populace paying through taxation and utility bills for the debts of governments and bankers, whilst at the same time creating the vehicles for the very rich to extract more rent from the rest of us.
    The Central Banks’, Central Bank, the BIS based in Switzerland has produced investment criteria ( under the chairmanship of Carney) for every CB in the world, who in turn lay down the requirements for every commercial bank, insurance company and other financial entities. These criteria now have at their heart the requirement to include decarbonisation and climate effects on every investment decision made. This is in turn supported by every government ( including that of Trump) by default if not actively.
    Are the financiers suddenly environmentalists? No of course not. But they have embraced climate change as a means to an end. All those $bns created after 2007/8 to keep the banks afloat have to be absorbed in the economy. Also the banks have still catastrophic debt levels that have yet to be solved, rather than kicked forward into the long grass. What better way to solve these problems whilst at the same time creating brand new investment opportunities for the 0.1% than the world saving change to energy production and use. There is little or no risk involved as all governments will cover the income stream required for returns by taxation and utility pricing.
    It also has the positive ( as far as governments are concerned) effect of helping to create a future society which is more controllable, far better to ‘save the world’ than allow the continuation of all those pesky ‘freedoms’ enjoyed by far too many of the proles.
    The question is; is it already too late? is the die cast? I hope I am wrong, but I have a horrible feeling that it may be.

    • Athelstan permalink
      September 25, 2017 2:46 pm

      About right with all of that.

      Though, excuse me if I seem a little off but, we knew all of that, what the world needs is, a reset.

      In some form, a reset is coming, whether in the form of a conflagration on the Korean peninsula or, the well overdue collapse of the western soviet empire, or the PRC going belly up.

      We’ve reached hubris, nemesis approaches.

      “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
      Gang aft agley”


      Even for elite bankers and their billionaire masters of the Universe..

      • Nigel S permalink
        September 25, 2017 7:50 pm



    • September 25, 2017 3:03 pm

      Jim: I too am a Physicist by training, now retired after years in the UK electricity industry. What you say has been totally confirmed today by our current Climate Change Minister Claire Perry.


  11. A C Osborn permalink
    September 25, 2017 3:45 pm

    13 Trillion, absolute TOTAL MADNESS.
    These people will be talking serious money soon.

  12. A C Osborn permalink
    September 25, 2017 3:47 pm

    Paul, a very interesting paper over at NTZ, it takes apart the so called “Science” and “Physics” of the AGW theory.
    Not full of fancy equations, just common sense observations.

  13. MrGrimNasty permalink
    September 25, 2017 6:50 pm

    As I cynically commented before, this isn’t an admission of getting it wrong, it is strategy.

    Every single step in the CAGW scam has been carefully planned and executed.

    As Jo Nova & GWPF and others have commented, it’s about staying in the game, keeping up the pretence that extreme action now can still ‘save the world’, pre-emptively tackling the exposure of obviously failed predictions by claiming they will be correct ultimately.

  14. Stonyground permalink
    September 25, 2017 7:01 pm

    Looking at the sawtooth pattern of that temperature graph, it would appear that a cooler period is fairly imminent. The Alarmists are clutching straws already, it will be very interesting to see what they come up with if it starts getting colder.

    In addition, the alarmists have never been asked to explain why a warmer climate is a bad thing. Parts of the Earth are uninhabitable now because they are too cold. If some parts become uninhabitable because they are too hot, we just have to move North a bit don’t we? In any case, milder weather with fewer storms, longer growing seasons and just more sunbathing are supposed to be something to panic about?

  15. manicbeancounter permalink
    September 25, 2017 11:05 pm

    The problem with these projections is that they are not subjected to any sort of due diligence.
    I had a look at the paper over the weekend. Although I have not by any means reconciled their figures, what I believe has happened is
    – ECS has been lowered to around 2C for a doubling of CO2.
    – All the warming since 1870 is assumed from GHG emissions.
    – Without any emissions, atmospheric GHG concentrations assumed to decline significantly over decades.
    However, there are many variables, many of which (compared to IPCC AR5) have been tweaked to still maintain that emissions reductions could theoretically prevent 1.5C without having climate sensitivity so high that 1.5C of warming is already in the pipeline.

  16. September 26, 2017 12:17 pm

    As I have said before, models are only as good as the data and the comprehensiveness of the data put into them. We simply do not know enough and do not know what we do not know in order to make them meaningful. As of this date, botanists cannot adequately model a single species and I doubt they will ever be able to do so.

    Now to the problems with the so-called “media.” With a few exceptions, (Christopher Booker comes to mind and a wonderful exception), they also do not know anything and do not know what they do not know.

    I can sight an example from last week. My Congressman, David McKinley, is a Professional Engineer who owns an architecture/engineering firm in Wheeling, WV. He is one of 4 engineers in the whole of Congress. Last week he put together a “Forum on Autonomous/Self-Driving Vehicles–AMERICA FIRST!” at West Virginia University’s Alumni Center. David invited me to attend, although as I told him, I am the non-tech woman that got the guy at Google fired. I want to bring it home and plug it in and have it work and I don’t care why and how.

    The day-long program consisted of representatives from GM, Toyota (2 savvy women who poured a little cold water on the GM “rah rah,”) and Tesla. They spoke about where they were and showed videos of some of the driverless vehicles in action–especially San Francisco. While we had a nice box lunch, there was the opportunity to see the driverless vehicle UBER had brought from Pittsburgh, some 70 miles north, a highly modified Lexus SUV. Following lunch, the UBER representative spoke of their business plan with driverless cars and trucks. A man from Rand Corporation spoke about the economic impact from autonomous vehicles, followed by representatives from KPMG on insurance implications. Finally we heard from an attorney from a major legal firm who had been a WV State Trooper before attending law school. Then Congressman McKinley chaired a Q&A session with all of the presenters.

    It was written up in a statewide news organization, WV Metronews, by an unidentified “staff writer.” After reading the nothing-burger, I wondered in a comment if the writer had even attended the forum. I gave an overview similar to what I wrote above and expanded my take-away as a non-tech, but educated person. At that point, those who had commented were concerned with broad-band access in WV. The writer had geared the whole article on the need for better broad-band access. How he came to write his pitiful piece after hearing the very comprehensive and well thought out forum is “a puzzlement” (to quote from “The King & I”). IF he DID attend and wrote about HIS take-away, it makes me a technology guru by comparison.

    • September 26, 2017 12:18 pm

      Excuse me, but I can “cite” an example, but maybe also see and therefore “sight” it.

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