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javaz On January - 16 - 2010
Snow on Saguaro

Cold day in the desert

I would like to preface this post by stating that I am not denying that global warming or climate change is occurring presently.

I have no opinion on whether or not climate change or global warming is man made or a natural phenomenon or both.

The point of this post is to question the accuracy of scientists’ predictions over the years.

In June 1974, Time Magazine ran an article predicting Global Cooling.

Sunspots were mentioned, as were detailed descriptions of the changing weather around the world and the effects on plants, trees, animals, and the marine populations in the cooling seas.

Man was blamed for the cooling trend and a study was released from the University of Wisconsin by climatologists stating that dust and other particles released into the atmosphere from farming and burning fuel that blocked the sunlight from reaching the earth.

Dire predictions were made by global scientists, warning that the earth’s climate would “flip-flop” whereby northern states, such as Michigan would become a desert, and western and southern states would become rain forests and frozen tundra.

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,944914,00.html

Weather forecasters use an array of technology, including computer models to predict the weather.

Barometers, anemometers, wind vanes, psychrometers, thermometers, rain gauges, the study of clouds and cloud patterns.

http://www.ussartf.org/predicting_weather.htm

Modern day technology still utilizes all of the above-mentioned tools, but with the addition of satellites and Doppler Radar.

http://wiki.answers.com/Q/All_about_Meteologist

With all the resources at hand for climatologists to predict the weather, what is their rate of accuracy?

According to the link below, the question is complicated.

In some areas, scientists claim an 80% accuracy rate, but even that figure isn’t accurate because it depends on the prediction and the atmospheric conditions.

http://www.weather2000.com/accuracy.html

Yet another site explains the accuracy that weather forecasters strive for, yet the chaotic atmospheric conditions that causes predictions to fluctuate at any given time, but the most accurate predictions occurring with ten hours.

http://www.ametsoc.org/policy/statewaf.html

If scientists cannot accurately predict the weather beyond a ten-hour-timeframe, and even that’s questionable, is it reasonable to trust scientists when they predict the condition of the planet in the next 10 years, to 20 years or 100 years?

Written by javaz

I am a retired aerospace engineer, happily married for over twenty-four years. My hobbies include blogging on PPOV, reading mystery/romance novels, playing guitar, learning the piano and writing. My husband and I love to travel in our camper/trailer, and have visited 45 states, besides having lived in France for 2 years and seeing most of Europe. "Today is the first day of the rest of your life? Well, that's true of every day but one - the day you die." American Beauty "All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then success is sure." Mark Twain "A man is never more truthful than when he acknowledges himself a liar." Mark Twain

35 Responses so far.

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  1. Tiger99 says:

    Hellooooooooo Javaz,
    As far as the whole global warming debate goes I have become more of a skeptic(not denier)…

    By the way I expected and was prepared for this winter it was accuratly predicted months ago… 😀
    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2009/08/31/national/a112839D00.DTL

  2. Kalima says:

    Please allow me to add a small mumble about the weather changes in Tokyo in the last 10 years.

    Summers here have always been hot and humid from the time I first arrived here 30 years ago. The last 10 years however the summers last from the end of our “Rainy Season” which is mid/end of July to about the end of September. The last few years, especially last year, the summer heat returned in October, it was unwelcome and oppressive. In fact it made quite a few people sick, including me.

    Some expects say that it’s due to the increase in tall buildings which block the cooler breezes which blew in from the Pacific Ocean, could be a factor but I’m not at all sure that this is the main cause.

    Last year and even now, many prefectures are experiencing record snow fall up to 3 meters, while Tokyo, although quite cold, has not seen snow except for a light dusting about a week ago.

    There were 4 distinct seasons 30 years ago, now it feels as if there are only 2, very hot and cold. Last year if you blinked, Spring was over. Autumn came and went, the only sign I noticed were a few fallen, yellowed leaves on the ground on my way to my hospital appointment.

    There is definitely something topsy-turvy in nature happening in Asia, of that I have no doubt.

    • javaz says:

      Yes, your climate change sounds exactly what it is we are going through here in Arizona.
      I remember that Halloween was the breaking point when it came to the heat leaving and cooler and rainy winter coming in.
      No more does that happen.
      Now, we’re lucky if it’s cooler by Thanksgiving.

      I am not arguing against global warming or climate change, but asking if we can believe scientists that predict such dire straits in the future.

      With all the technology scientists have now, they cannot predict weather, except within 10 hours, and then that’s even questionable.

      If you read through this thread, you will see that I am on your side when it comes to climate change, but I just wonder if the scientists’ predictions, and the scientists’ predictions are dire, if we should believe them.

      Does that make sense?

      KQ got it.

      • KQuark says:

        The reason they changed the name of the theory to change instead of just warming is because what’s happening is more energy is staying in the atmosphere. Most people think of that energy as just contributing to temperature increase but it can also manifests itself by, evaporation surface water, adding more water vapor to the atmosphere or warming up the oceans.

      • Kalima says:

        Javaz, not for one moment did I think that your article suggested there was no global warming, in fact I don’t tend to believe all the studies I have read because I feel that the aim is to absolutely prove that there is global warming and that some scientists might lean to any sign, even the smallest indication and in their haste ignore the rest. Note that I said some scientists, not all.

        Another example would be in the area my father lives, they have had snow for over two weeks. He says that it’s the first time that it has snowed this much since 82′, and global warming doesn’t just mean an increase in the temperature, it also mean extreme cold in some parts of the world.

        I haven’t studied the climate patterns over the last 100 years, but 1 to 2C added to the summer temperatures over the years, is something that you notice and remember, believe me. Anything over 25C and I’m like a rag doll. I was born in a country which saw wicked winters with snow up to 3 meters and then moved to a country of bitter, damp winters. How I ever ended up in a country which without buildings would be a jungle in the summer, I’ll never know. Don’t tell my hubby that, he’d fire me. :)

        • javaz says:

          Do you have air conditioners?

          I ask, because we lived in a suburb of Paris, France for 2 years, and very few people, and even very few cafes had air conditioning.

          While we were in France, in 2003, there was a record breaking heatwave, whereby temps in Paris went as high as 38C, and people were dying there.

          I grew up in Michigan, the Detroit area, and grew up without air conditioning.
          I remember the summer when I was 15 and learning to drive, that the temp there for the first time was going to break 37C.

          Let me think -- when I was 15, it would have been 1972.
          And back then, that was when the global cooling thing was just starting.

          Makes me wonder, in a sense, if the global cool believers were getting a jump on the global warmers.
          I love conspiracy theories!
          😆

          • Kalima says:

            Yes, we have always had A/C here but we have reformed our house many times to gain more space, removing walls and doors. Our second floor is open space, the unit up there does little to absorb the high humidity. Our first floor is cool in the summer but I have my flock to take care of in our garage and one trip to feed them, leaves me breathless and feeling sick.

            In Europe until very recently, there has been no need for A/C, the houses are mostly made of bricks which keep the heat out. As a child in Germany the summers were short and in the evenings, the temperature would drop considerably, so no one had to bother with installing a unit in their homes.

  3. KQuark says:

    First let me say Javaz I really appreciate this post because it makes me think and we need to think about these issues a great deal more. These are the types of issues people should be talking about.

    I do think referring to a 1974 story (which I do recall the theory by the way) is pretty immaterial to the arguments today because there has been an incredible amount of research done since then. However it does make a good point that climatologists need to learn from their past errors. There is actually some evidence pointing to a slowing down of temperature changes for example that would make a better argument. I would also say the prediction models and the computers we use today are obviously far more advanced than 1974. You point out some of the amazing advances in climate science like Doppler radar.

    Actually at the crux of predictive mathematics predictions are always less probable the further down time moves on the x-axis. Sure climatologist can only predict very accurately weather for 10 hours. But we can predict the direction and energy of hurricanes days out as well. Predicting general climate trends is far different than predicting if there is going to be a major storm in your area within a few areas. Even Doppler radar can only predict tornadic activity accurately within only several minutes. I guess the bottom line is predicting general global climactic trends is really not predicting accurate local weather in the first place. In that way it’s a false analogy.

    • javaz says:

      I cannot tell you what it means to me that you appreciate something that I’ve written.
      Seriously.
      Thank you so much.

      Besides finally being able to attach an image correctly and I’m still reveling in that, but your comments mean the world to me and I thank you.

      (is there anyway that you could fix my links so they highlight? and then tell me what I did wrong?)

      • KQuark says:

        Alas I checked your links and they go nowhere.

        To add links the easiest thing to do is copy the entire link location from your address bar. Next highlight the text where you want to set the link. Then click on the “link” icon or icon that looks like a closed chain. Finally you can paste the link in the dialog box and click “OK” to add the link.

        If you put your raw links under the caption in your post I can add them if you are still having problems.

        • javaz says:

          If you copy and paste the words into the browser, they go to a link.

          For instance, copy and paste Rates of Accuracy, it will take you to the site.

          Never mind, only one of them works now, and I guess I’ve lost them all, and darn it all.
          The rest take you to the google page.
          Crap.
          I tried fixing it using the dashboard, but it didn’t come up showing the links.

          Oh well, next time, I’ll figure it out, unless you want me to find the actual links again?

          Would that help?

      • KQuark says:

        That is a very poignant picture. I’m glad you were able put it into the piece.

        • javaz says:

          We actually have pictures of snow where we live, but my husband was outside and I didn’t want to bother him.

          I remember when we first moved to this area and it was in mid-December, and he was putting up the outside Christmas lights, and it was snowing!!!!

          We actually had snow, and then there was a winter, maybe 2 or 3 years back, whereby it got so cold here that people’s pipes burst.
          My husband wrapped our pipes outside on the house with foam, rubber hose things to prevent bursting when it goes into the 20’s.

          It always amazes me that we can have 117+ temps in the summer, and then within months, it’s freezing cold.
          But our freezing cold only lasts a day or two!

  4. Khirad says:

    My question for someone more sciency than I. When we say history of recorded temperatures within say the last hundred years, am I just cynical to suppose maybe their measurements might not have been as accurate as they are now?

    That being said, even within the last twenty years, one only need look at the rainfall around here to see a stark trend -- whatever the cause. Maybe I’ll look for a graph later.

    • KQuark says:

      When I think of accuracy actually I think of the accuracy of specific measurements and you are right the accuracy of specific measurements has increased which no one will really argue.

      When analyze theories I focus on the validity of that theory not it’s accuracy per se. Is that theory consistent or inconsistent with the evidence at hand? Most scientists look at theories that way not in terms of accuracy but more in terms of pass or fail.

      • Khirad says:

        Gotcha. I guess it doesn’t really matter. It’s more the trivia things that get me, like the Weather Almanac. I’m always like, how do we really know we broke a record? In the end, compared with the bigger issue discussed here, that’s unimportant.

        As far as bigger trends we go to trees and ice samples, and things of that nature, I understand.

    • javaz says:

      I know it.
      PBS did a show about the Dust Bowl, and my thought was -- Global Warming -- since so many things were nearly identical to the things we hear today.

      Plus, we’ve also seen other shows about the “old” days and even old black and white movies, and again, my thoughts were -- Global Warming.

      I think we only go back in recording weather 100 years, so who’s to say that what we are experiencing today hasn’t happened before and happened before many, many times?

      I don’t know anything.
      LOL
      I wrote this because I wondered and I’ve always heard from older people about weather and how wrong weather people can be.

      In Arizona, especially in the summer, the forecasters are right nearly 100% of the time.
      How hard is it to predict -- dry, hot and sunny?
      😆

      • Khirad says:

        I’m reminded of Steve Martin during LA Story, when he pre-taped the weather -- and it rained!

        Yeah, pre-monsoon, I could do the weather report: about 108-115

  5. KQuark says:

    The other thing to understand is that it’s the change in climate change that is so dangerous. Humankind has set it’s society up in a certain way to utilize the earth’s resources to sustain itself. The majority of the population on this planet are located on coastlines so if they rise that will displace hundreds of millions of people. More importantly humans grow crops in certain areas on the planet that need to have relatively consistent weather patters. Weather patters already change naturally but as long as the change is not too fast humans can adapt. Well those weather patters are changing more abruptly which cannot be disputed. These climate changers are the real danger because they can disrupt both local availability of necessary crops and water reserves and are most apt to lead to global insecurity.

  6. KQuark says:

    Very interesting piece.

    Predictions are only that and every prediction has a degree of uncertainty with it. Most scientists do not jump on a theory in fact a theory is refuted until there is a preponderance of evidence behind it. A corollary relationship does not prove cause and effect. The sunspot hypothesis is just part of the whole understanding to explain climate change that deniers point to even when they disclaim ever other corollary evidence with to climate change like rising man made CO2.

    Even from a business standpoint it’s ridiculous to keep on fighting to not reduce carbon emission. The rest of the world, especially Europe, Japan and even China will move past the US in developing alternate energy technologies and pollution control technologies if the US stands still. Then in 10 years like today with hybrid engine technology when the US is behind because we don’t want to make tough choices or the investment we need people will be pointing fingers again at government and business.

    Now when considering policy changes it’s simply a no brainer to me that human beings should minimize the amount of CO2 we add to the atmosphere, just like we should minimize emissions of any gases or unnatural products we add to the environment. Our whole existence at this point as a species is just unsustainable over a relatively short period of time if we keep on this pace of using Gaia’s resources they will be gone within the millennium. I know the most people do not consider 1,000 to be a short time but in relation to even the age of our species it is indeed a very short time.

    • javaz says:

      The only reason I mentioned sunspots, was because I have not seen or heard that word in ages.
      I remember when CB radios were all the rage and folks predicted that sunspots would be the cause of CB radios no longer working.

      CB radios still work, as far as I know, with truckers, it’s just that they outlived their time in popularity, especially since the invention of cell-phones, or back then, those big wireless phones.

      I do not disagree in that we should cut down on emissions, get off foreign oil, find alternative energy, and other environmental issues such as stop drinking bottled water because of landfills, and stop using plastic as much as possible, etc.

      The thing I wonder about, is all the doom and gloom predictions, such as Manhattan, Florida and most of the eastern seaboard being under water in so many years.

      Scientists are predicting horrendous scenarios due to climate change, and I wonder if we should be frightened by their predictions and take them at face value.

      Scientists have been wrong in the past, and as I state in this post, they can’t even predict the weather, so is it possible that they could be wrong when it comes to climate change?

      Imho, the world and nature has a way of taking care of itself.
      The evolution of certain diseases, earthquakes, volcanoes, and I’m not a scientist, obviously, but isn’t the earth already acting up in correcting some of man’s mistakes?

      Do we really have proof that the earth has never warmed and then cooled and then warmed again and then cooled again?

      I know about the arctic ice tubes that scientists use to measure the melting of polar ice, and I’ve watched numerous programs on global warming and read numerous books.

      I’m just questioning the predictions for the future and wondering if they are accurate in their direness.

      • KQuark says:

        I’m really not arguing against you at all I’m arguing against the people that are jumping on one correlation and forgetting the rest.

        I appreciate you depth of knowledge about other aspects of the research that is going on in climate science.

        I’m not a sky is falling person either. I’ve said before that while climate change is a serious problem that must be addressed we should not panic. I am also always open to evidence that counters any theory. All we have in science is theory and any contrary evidence should be explained at the least or if it’s substantial enough can add doubt to the theory’s validity.

        • javaz says:

          I know that you get what I’m trying to say.
          We’re not arguing global warming, because I do believe in global warming/climate change, but I just wonder about the scientists’ predictions of the “end of the world as we know it”.

          • KQuark says:

            We are on the same page with that then. In another post I’m more worried about the geopolitical unintended consequences, rather than the biological consequences. Our species already has a shitty record on sharing this planets resources. If those resources shift I can’t image what could happen.

      • Khirad says:

        Somewhere, I had information about similar trends throughout the solar system. But, alas, this is beyond my comfort area and in the end I don’t care what caused it, that’s no excuse not to try and leave the planet better than we found it.

        • javaz says:

          You know, I could swear that I saw an article about Mount Pinatubo when it blew in ’92?
          Whatever, but I could swear that I saw an article that stated something about the earth’s temp dropping one degree.

          I do know that when that happened, in Arizona, we had several months of rain, and heavy rain, whereby Washington State was in a drought.

          I love following this type of thing.

    • Khirad says:

      Okay, no fair. How’d you do that subtext in CO2?

      • KQuark says:

        A short HTML hint

        To begin : to end
        < sub > : < /sub > for subscript
        < sup > : < /sup > for superscript

        Just leave out the spaces when using the “less than” or “greater than” symbols.

        • Khirad says:

          Ah, that’s what I thought. I was getting my hopes up it was unicode. :-(

          I want to be able to enter non-Roman alphabets. Wahhhh. I know, I’m a cry-baby.

  7. Tiger99 says:

    Would you like a “Bigger Spoon” to stir thing up? 😆

  8. javaz says:

    Hallelujah!
    I finally got the image to attach correctly, BUT, the title of the image shows on the main page.
    And, my article highlighting thing isn’t highlighting, but can be copied and pasted.

    I followed the directions and did the:

  9. KQuark says:

    jan if you feel up to it and have time I would love to see a piece on Haiti here that you can link to anywhere you want. We probably have been a bit remiss not keeping people on this site notified about what’s happening even though the raw feeds are on the side.

  10. javaz says:

    No problem, jan!!!

    But, how can you stand going to HP???


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