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Earth Science

How Two Scientists Accurately Predicted Global Warming in 1967 (medium.com) 216

Slashdot reader Layzej shares an article from this spring marking the 50th anniversary of the first accurate climate model: Astrophysicist Ethan Siegel looks at a climate model (MW67) published in 1967 and finds "50 years after their groundbreaking 1967 paper, the science can be robustly evaluated, and they got almost everything exactly right."

An analysis on the "Climate Graphs" blog shows exactly how close the prediction has proven to be: "The slope of the CO2-vs-temperature regression line in the 50 years of actual observations is 2.57, only slightly higher than MW67's prediction of 2.36" They also note that "This is even more impressive when one considers that at the time MW67 was published, there had been no detectable warming in over two decades. Their predicted warming appeared to mark a radical change with the recent past:"

How Two Scientists Accurately Predicted Global Warming in 1967

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  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) on Saturday November 11, 2017 @10:37AM (#55530793)

    A way to distinguish the one prediction that's going to be right from the millions that aren't.

    • by ClickOnThis ( 137803 ) on Saturday November 11, 2017 @01:50PM (#55531629) Journal

      A way to distinguish the one prediction that's going to be right from the millions that aren't.

      We have that. It's called science.

      And while we're on the subject, science does get things wrong despite its best efforts. But the most important thing about science is that it is in a constant state of trying to correct and improve itself.

      • Okay and what about all the climate models that are "called science" that were very wrong? His point is that there are many competing models and almost none of them were correct. We only know this one was correct in hindsight.

      • A way to distinguish the one prediction that's going to be right from the millions that aren't.

        I disagree with that assumption. I think the spectrum of predictions is graduated; not binary. I believe that more than a few prognosticators will be absolutely correct; many will be partially correct but incomplete; some partially right/partially wrong, others mostly wrong and about 50% fully worng. My reason for that number is that I think that life on earth is far more complicated, interconnected and inter-dependent that we yet realize. Once the links are broken or disturbed, some life will evolve, a

        • by dryeo ( 100693 )

          Is it that science is wrong, or that people are wrong? Science is science. People have foibles, flaws, misinterpretations, lack of imagination and hidden agendas.

          Science is a process that depends on amongst other things, correct data.
          A famous example is the ether theory. Made perfect sense as light obviously had the properties of waves and in the experience of people, waves need a medium to travel in.
          Eventually the measurements got better and showed that light traveled at the same speed no matter what, which was unlike anything people had experienced. After checking and rechecking their measurements, the theory of ether was thrown out.
          The science was limited by the

        • by Layzej ( 1976930 )

          I believe that more than a few prognosticators will be absolutely correct;

          Probably not. They say "Essentially, all models are wrong [wikipedia.org], but some are useful". This is the nature of models regardless of the field. Though even the wronger ones can be useful insofar as you can attempt to understand why it deviated from reality.

          In this case "The big advance of Manabe and Wetherald’s work was to model not just the feedbacks but the interrelationships between the different components that contribute to the Earth’s temperature. As the atmospheric contents change, so do both

    • by whit3 ( 318913 )

      A way to distinguish the one prediction that's going to be right from the millions that aren't.

      A danger warning about safe crossing of the street doesn't have to identify the one car of millions that is gonna run you down.

      It's OK to dodge ALL the cars, and you get to the other side without getting flattened.

      The proposed 'need' is nonsense.

      The real need, is enough knowledge and understanding (i.e. science) to proceed with a degree of safety.

    • by MrL0G1C ( 867445 )

      Start with the fact that CO2 is a greenhouse gas and we know precisely how much of it is emitted when fossil fuels are burnt. We've known that CO2 is a greenhouse gas for a lot longer than 50 years.

      http://www.climatechangenews.c... [climatechangenews.com]

      1856, we've known CO2 is a greenhouse gas for over 160 years now!

    • A way to distinguish the one prediction that's going to be right from the millions that aren't.

      You mean predictions like:

      "It's not warming"

      "It's warming but it's the sun/moon/jupiter"

      "It's a something something natural cycle! Natural!"

      "It's warming but it's good somehow (mumble mumble)"

      Predictions like those?

  • Actual science (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jandrese ( 485 )
    This paper is arguably the origin of the modern disinformation campaign against carbon pollution. This is the point where politically powerful interests realized that their core business model was in danger and that they needed to do something to stop it. Now we have an entire political party who's official position is to ignore the blatantly obvious and to be actively hostile to the kind of research that produced this paper.
    • Agreed. The opposition we good at mobilizing their financial resources at the expense of natural resources.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      I'm a trader and read a lot into statistics. It's quite interesting how most people quickly jump to conclusions based on bad data.

      Just because you can predict something, does not mean you can repeatedly predict it, or that your prediction implies a pattern. Investors tend to lose their shirt on a regular basis thinking they can time the market, even with rock solid data. Even predictions that can be replayed on historical data, frequently fail when applied on new, future data. I can virtually guarantee if y
      • Re:Actual science (Score:4, Informative)

        by plopez ( 54068 ) on Saturday November 11, 2017 @02:37PM (#55531827) Journal

        The difference here is that there is a mechanistic explanation, the physical properties of CO2, while in trading you just have people twiddling knobs getting functions to fit or AI to converge. That is what makes climate research science and trading voodoo.

      • Climate models don't use data like you think they do. Temperature data is never an input to climate models except maybe as a starting point. Instead they run climate models in reverse to see how well they compare to the temperature data from the past and they do pretty well at it.

    • This paper is arguably the origin of the modern disinformation campaign against carbon pollution. This is the point where politically powerful interests realized that their core business model was in danger and that they needed to do something to stop it.

      It also looks just like the hockey stick the "corrections" to later data warp the readings to match.

      Now that the issue has been politicized, any actual science is no longer relevant to the debate.

      * One side has caught researchers fudging (or using

  • Fake news! (Score:5, Funny)

    by UnknowingFool ( 672806 ) on Saturday November 11, 2017 @11:19AM (#55530945)
    [sarcasm]Clearly there is no way that scientists came up this research with decades ago and that they debated it for decades before consensus. No this was all invented by China recently to cover up their involvement with the Kennedy assassination and the Lindberg kidnapping.[/sarcasm]
  • by Kludge ( 13653 ) on Saturday November 11, 2017 @12:55PM (#55531393)

    The medium.com article is very good by the way. Read it!

    • The medium.com article is very good by the way. Read it!

      I've fallen for that one before. Friends don't let friends read medium.com

    • Yes, really. What has a mantle plume under Antarctica have to do with global warming ? You're only exposing your ignorance here.

  • The only quantitative _predictive_ statement in the Medium article is that a doubling of CO2 concentration will cause a 2degreesC increase is temperature (at fixed relative humidity). This is a strictly log-linear prediction. Let's submit it to a real _prospective_ experiment:

    We are currently at ~400 ppm CO2. According to the IPCC [ipcc-data.org], the prediction of CO2 concentration in 2100 is about 600 ppm. So, according to the cited model, we will have about another 1degreeC in global mean temperature by 2100. (T

  • In Geography class (1967) we had it written in our books that the deserts were getting bigger. Hmm.. Let's connect the dots. And if you are one of those "climate deniers" what did you loose if we implement cleaner devices and laws? Cleaner air, water, land, sea?? Gee. Sounds like a big loss (Sarcasm). Oh, I get it! $$$ Its the money $$$

For every problem there is one solution which is simple, neat, and wrong. -- H. L. Mencken

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