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Letter to the Editor: Scientific Models

Summary; all models are wrong, climate change predictions are based on models therefore inaccurate at best at worst they are just wrong, geopolitical decisions are being made based on the conclusions of various models, fear is used to control people.

Much of the support that current climate change is caused by human activities are based on scientific models (scientific is used in its very loosest sense). Other tools used are statistical analysis, simple observation and experimentation.

Observational science (the glaciers are melting or the sea level has risen) do not always support cause and effect conclusions. One can observe that when trees’ limbs are waving the wind blows. One could conclude that when the trees start waving their limbs the wind will blow. It is the trees that make the wind blow. It is clear that the universe revolves around the earth or go to the beach, it is obvious the earth is flat, it may even curve upward a bit.

Statistics can be used to prove most anything. Not only the results from the statistical analysis but the presentation of the results can be used to mislead. There was a 100% increase in the number of birds that hit my picture window. We have to do something. How many birds have hit my window? 2 in the last 5 years. Is that significant?

Scientific model.

Scientific Models are an attempt to mimic reality. All models are inherently wrong (gasp). How can one make such a statement?

The inputs into a model are facts, assumptions, hypothetical presumptions, and variables. The goal of a legitimate model is to have a final conclusion as close to reality as possible, take that conclusion, and make a prediction or base some future action on the model’s results. In the final analysis the results of the model may be very close but they are indeed wrong.

Consider this quote from a NOAA website, “A global climate model (GCM) is a complex mathematical representation of the major climate system components (atmosphere, land surface, ocean, and sea ice), and their interactions. Earth’s energy balance between the four components is the key to long- term climate prediction.” https://www.gfdl.noaa.gov/climate-modeling/

You decide.

Do scientists fully understand the atmosphere? Consider the accuracy of weather forecast. Land surface seems easy enough until you consider the variation of aspects, angles, reflectivity, density, emissivity, time of the year, location on the earth’s surface and variables I am unaware of. Do scientists fully understand land surfaces? Oceans are extremely complex. La Nino means it will be wetter in Quincy except the years it is not wet. Oceans cover over 70% of the earth’s surface and 80% of it has not been explored. Do scientists fully understand the oceans? Sea ice. Decide for yourself. The clincher is not only understanding the complexities of atmosphere, land surface, ocean, and sea ice you must understand their interactions. That is mind expanding for sure. Given just those inputs (the assumptions, variables and facts of each) you can see that the climate change models’ results will be wrong and maybe not even close. For certain the results are not absolute.

Someone expressed the opinion that science has one goal. But scientists have any number of goals. The unscrupulous individual can manipulate the inputs to a model to achieve outputs that support their own purpose. Whenever I hear a decision is based on a model or “…the models indicate thus and thus will occur…” I am wary of accepting the results unless I understand the modeler’s intent, integrity, and the model’s inputs (assumptions, presumptions, variables and facts). If you have an ulterior motive and want to use models’ results to convince the majority, it is easy to do. I have worked with models and know full well that they can be “tweaked” to serve the modeler’s purpose.

It was discovered that the original climate change models’ inputs had been “tweaked” and not all data on temperature was included. Maybe it was a mistake or the tweaking was based on some statistical assumption or something more nefarious. Too late, politicians have seized on a huge money-making opportunity and their lust for control is boundless. Thank you, Al Gore and John Kerry. Fear is a powerful tool to manipulate people. The idea has snowballed, people are afraid that the end of the world is coming. The physical world is dynamic and always changing. That natural change is being used to dictate to you what you will be allowed to do in the future and it appears you can do nothing about it. Get on the band wagon, follow the lemmings to their final destination or, educate yourself.

That is a myth about the Lemmings but the metaphor stands.

For your reading enjoyment read about All Models are Wrong at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_models_are_wrong

Phillip Shafer
Quincy, CA

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