Another rebuttal
Apr 4, 2012
Bishop Hill in Climate: Models, Climate: Sceptics, Climate: other

Richard Betts points us to this paper by a group of climatologists who seek to rebut Richard Lindzen's talk at the House of Commons the other day. The authors are, in the main, familiar names. John Mitchell and Brian Hoskins featured regularly in the Climategate emails and both were involved in the coverups too; Eric Wolff made a couple of brief visits to BH in the wake of the Cambridge Conference last year, but was put off by the over-hostile reaction from commenters; Tim Palmer has been mentioned on the pages of BH a couple of times. Keith Shine is less familiar to me although he too has been mentioned before as one of the members of the Royal Society's advisory panel on climate change (as indeed are most of the others).

With my current focus on climate models, here's an interesting excerpt:

At every stage models should be evaluated by exhaustive comparison with observations. The models encapsulate our understanding of the basic science of the climate system, including for example, Newton’s laws of motion, the laws of thermodynamics and the quantum theory of radiation. When deficiencies are found at one level then improvements are sought and the lessons learnt should cascade to models at other levels. This is, of course, the ideal: the actual development of the science is rather more irregular but very definitely in this direction. Even the models at the more complete and complex end contain many uncertainties and deficiencies, which are widely recognised within the modelling community, but they are the best guide we have as to how the climate system may change in the future. Their results are not to be accepted in an unquestioning manner; they should be analysed in detail, with the dominant processes behind any climate variability and change thoroughly investigated using observations and simpler models in the hierarchy.

I think the words "out of sample" need inserting in a couple of places in that paragraph. I think it would also have helped if Hoskins had reiterated his earlier clarification about the limitations of climate models - namely that they are "lousy".

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