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?

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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

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Tiger99
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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

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Kalima
Admin

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.

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KQµårk 死神
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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.

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Khirad
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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.

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KQµårk 死神
Member

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.

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Khirad
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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.

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KQµårk 死神
Member

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.

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KQµårk 死神
Member

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.

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

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KQµårk 死神
Member

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.

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Khirad
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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.

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Tiger99
Guest

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

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KQµårk 死神
Member

I’m the pot.

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