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Coronavirus/climate computer modelling failures

In The Australian (18/6/2020) Adam Creighton, Economics Editor, wrote: “Coronavirus: Inflated pandemic estimates weaken climate forecasts.”

It is obviously an attempt to make some connection between the measuring of the pandemic and climate change. What does it mean?

Creighton’s opening gambit makes reference to Tony Abbott, our recently royally decorated ex-PM – and a prediction as well:

“Tony Abbott’s suspicion that climate change modelling was ‘absolute crap’ soon will resonate more broadly – so spectacularly bad was expert modelling of the spread and lethality of the coronavirus, faith in all modelling must surely suffer.”

So there we have it. Or as he emphasises:

“Why trust the experts to forecast the climate decade into the future when they were so wrong about the disease related to the common cold.”

As simple as that. It is all about the modelling. Is that how computer modelling works? Just throw numbers in and press the button? What kind of data do they use and what are the sources of that data?

Here is some information about computer modelling here in Australia. It comes from The Conversation under the heading “How Australia’s supercomputers crunched the numbers to guide our bushfire and pandemic response,” by Sean Smith and Mark Stieckells, 30/6/2020.

“NCI is the home [Canberra] to Gadi, the most powerful supercomputer in the southern hemisphere, which can do in an hour what your average desktop would take in around 35 years running flat out. The Pawsey centre [Perth] hosts the nimbus cloud which is specially designed for data intensive research work in cutting-edge fields such as space science.

“Data-driven models running on supercomputers can provide earlier and more accurate warning of firestorms, floods, hailstorms, cyclones and other extremes.”

For Creighton, the raw numbers for the pandemic in Australia are not very big, yet much larger numbers around the world were predicted as possible. So he just ignores the hard work undertaken by pandemic experts according to experience from the past, computer modelling, doctors, state premiers and the National Cabinet, the citizens of Australia in lockdown. No attribution to them for reducing the predicted numbers. It is all the fault of computer modelling getting it all wrong in the first place. And he is not alone. The magazine Quadrant, edited by Keith Windschuttle, for the past couple of months has accused pandemic scientists of being failures.

But Creighton does not give up easily. He goes on:

“Climate modelling was struggling even before the pandemic, given the planet has warmed about a half as much as forecast by the IPCC report back in 1992. ‘Almost the entire alarm about global warming is based on model predictions. If you just look at the last 30 to 40 years of data, nothing spectacular has happened. ‘There’s no sign temperature is accelerating’, says Benny Peiser, founder of Global Warming Policy Foundation in London.’ “

Now, before we go on, it will be of interest for readers to know that Adam Creighton published this very same article in Peiser’s Global Warming Policy Foundation publication on 17/6/2020. Peiser is the founder of the GWPF (2009) and has been involved in skeptic/denier publications, but would say that the GWPF is an “all-party and non-party think tank and registered educational charity.” Its purpose is “bring reason and balance to a debate that has become seriously unbalanced, irrationally alarmist, and all too often depressingly intolerant.” (desmogblog.com)

In a debate at the Cambridge Union (Oct 26, 2017) Peiser said:

“Denying the world’s poor the very basis on which Britain and much of Europe became wealthy – largely due to cheap coal, oil and gas – amounts to an inhumane and atrocious attempt to sacrifice the needs of the world’s poor on the altar of climate alarmism.”

We have heard such talk before. Some call it “virtue signalling”. But while the intent of the GWPF might be saying they care for the poor, and they say climate change is real, they seem to ignore the real effects of climate change not only on the poor, but also on the whole world – with its advocacy for fossil fuels, ignoring the science of the IPCC.

A member of the GPFP’s academic advisory board is Professor Ian Plimer, who “argues volcanoes produce more CO2 than humans.” Plimer also tells us that CO2 has nothing to do with climate change (despite the fact his fellow skeptic, the late Professor Bob Carter, says in Taxing Air, that CO2 is a powerful greenhouse gas!)

And Plimer, in The Spectator Australia, Editor Rowan Dean, (Feb 1, 2020), has an article “Global Warming, meet Creationism”; subtitled “There’s something familiar about the new religion of climate change”. This same article appeared in the IPA publication ‘Climate Change: The Facts 2017’.

Plimer claims in this article that:

“Human-induced global warming is an unproven scientific hypothesis that has become an article of faith.”

How does Plimer link that statement with the statements by fellow sceptics that they believe climate change is real? Could we not say that the adherents of fossil fuels are in the grip of a religious doctrine such that politicians will take a lump of coal into parliament like a religious icon?

We see that skeptics sometime contradict each other, or claim that they believe climate change is real but say the presentation of it is too apocalyptic, too alarmist, too much like a take-over of sovereign governments, or is simply “crap”.

As a further example, Creighton tells us that in the late 1990s it was predicted that the Great Barrier Reef would bleach every year until 2020:

”but in the last fifteen years parts of the reef have bleached on only three occasions, with each event affecting only one third of the reef,” says physicist Peter Ridd, a former professor of James Cook University.

We have seen even here that some claims are extremely baseless and unscientific, based on vested interests and ideologies. What do scientists of the IPCC kind say?  What factual reports are reported in  the media, for example?

Let us start with Peter Ridd, who has frequently criticised climate change warriors, especially with matters to do with the Great Barrier Reef. Take for example, “Great Barrier Reef’s third mass bleaching in five years the most widespread yet.”:

“(Professor Tony Hughes), director of the Centre of Excellence for Coral Studies at the James Cook University, surveyed 1,036 reefs from a plane over 9 days in late March. The marine park also had an observer on the flights…

“Hughes has released maps showing several levels of bleaching occurred in 2020 in all three sections of the reef – northern, central and southern – the first time this has happened since mass bleaching was first seen in 1998… Hughes said previous observations had shown bleaching at that extent leads to ‘high  levels of mortality’ of corals…

“The Great Barrier Reef has experienced 5 mass bleaching events – 1998, 2002, 2016, 2017, 2020 – all caused by rising ocean temperatures driven by global heating… In February the reef was subjected to its hottest sea surface since records began in 1900.”

And by the way, 95% of kelp forests on the east coast of Tasmania have been wiped out, where these waters are warming up are warming up at four times faster than the global average.

So, what are we to make of Creighton’s confirmation of Benny Peiser’s claim that: ”There’s no sign temperature increase is actually is accelerating.” Perhaps Peiser covers himself with the weasel word “accelerating”?

Let us look at the hottest global temperatures since 2000 (see for example NOAA, January 2020).

“Earth’s warming trend continued in 2019 – making it the second-hottest year in NOAA’s 140-year climate record just behind 2016. The world’s five warmest years have all occurred since 2015 with 9 of the 10 warmest years occurring since 2005 according to NOAA’s Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI).

“It was also the 43rd consecutive year with global land and ocean temperatures, at least nominally, above average.

“The average temperatures across the globe in 2019 was 1.71 degrees F (0.95C) above the C20th average of just 0.07 F (0.04C) cooler than the 2016 record.”

Image from NOAA

An article about heatwaves since 1950 appears in The Conversation, by Sarah Parkinson-Kirkpatrick, “The world endured 2 extra heatwave days per decade since 1950 – but the worst is yet to come.”

Ian Plimer says that CO2 has nothing to do with climate change. What does Tony Eggleton, as Emeritus Professor at the ANU, say in his book ”A Short Introduction to Climate Change” (Cambridge University Press, 2013)?

“CO2 is a potent part of the atmosphere’s blanket that keeps the world at a habitable temperature [> 14 C]. Its amount in the atmosphere has increased by [>] 35% since pre-industrial times [280ppm – currently 415ppm] and that increase creates more heat absorption by the atmosphere. In 1970, the International Radiation Investigation Satellite (IRIS) measured the Earth’s radiation. The measurement was repeated by the Tropospheric Emission Spectrometer (TES) satellite in 2006. A comparison of those measurements shows there was a distinct decrease in the amount of heat leaving the Earth. The blanket is getting thicker and the setting of the thermostat is rising. The increased greenhouse effect of increased CO2 over those 36 years is observational fact, not theory.” (pp 55-56)

With regard to warming, Eggleton tells us: “At present the world is warming at the rate of 1 degree C in 60 years; that is, 20 times faster than any previous sustained rate of temperature change. (p 133)”

Twenty times faster!

For Adam Creighton, all this science and computer modelling is ”dodgy” nonsense:

“By April we knew the coronavirus was not as dangerous as feared yet modellers and governments doubled down on the catastrophic narrative. It’s almost July and people in our capitals are wearing masks in their own cars.

“How can we avoid the hysteria next time?… All the incentives are stacked in favour of dodgy doomsday modelling; apocalyptic scenarios allow politicians increase their power and appear caring. Public health experts enjoy more prestige. And some of the media naturally prefer models with horrifying forecasts to draw eyeballs.”

Is this man serious? It is all done with models?

“Models are almost cartoons, highly simplified versions of reality. History has provided a better guide to the future.”

Creighton will be dismayed to find that some sceptic/deniers use computer modelling for their purposes. As well, data collated from a wide range of sources and sciences is used; it is what the IPCC does.

Contrary to Creighton’s claims, Greg Sheridan in the WE Australian tells us in his article “In the war against humanity, the coronavirus is winning”.

“Barely dented, reversed in only a few small territories, the virus is surging… It is a bushfire finding plentiful fuel… ”

One can see Sheridan’s recent obsession with war and bushfires. But what has happened to climate change reporting in these days of many distractions?

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7 comments

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  1. Win Jeavons

    Just to pick up a minor point. People who wear masks are advised not to keep fiddling with them , as face touching is involved. If somone has to be in and out of a car then the correct thing to do would be to leave in place until returning home. But deniers in general hate logic.

  2. Phil Pryor

    If some pustular peanut in that poxed paradise of pernicious lies and propaganda, the Murdoch maggoty media misfitery called the Australian, as Un-Australian as you could get from a treacherous old Yankee Turd, forget it, attack, insult it, despise it. Anyone scribbling for a depraved old slut for power and money is a bonsai fascist fantasist, trying to prove some bullshit for clients donors, partons and so it is bribery and corruption effectively. Coal interests, gas interests, financial interests, retail and travel interests, all want a return to profiteering at any risk to US, the PEOPLE. Money for self appointed spokesmen for dogshit gouging and scraping is disgusting. One observes modelling and if it works,, is good, then it is. Look at news outlets and if they stink of lying shit, then they DO and are no GOOD. The founder of a travel group is noted for wanting a return to making money, so let old Pop and Nanna DIE. Arseholes, all these grubs.

  3. Terence Mills

    Having followed Adam Creighton for a few years, i have gained the impression that he writes what he’s told to write [much like Andrew Bolt] in line with Murdoch family ideology – this enables him to keep his job but doesn’t necessarily mean that he actually believes what he writes.

    This is one of the casualties of independent journalism when private ownership of media dictates what is acceptable to the owners and what isn’t.

    It’s very sad !

  4. New England Cocky

    I realise that in biological warfare it is important to know what the enemy is thinking and doing, but really, could we just limit the rubbish spewed out by the Murdoch mastheads to one short comment from Francis the Talking Mule every week ….. or month?

    While these naysayers are believing their own misinformation, I note that the COALition has suddenly changed its tune on renewable energy generation in NSW. It seems that Aunty Gladys had decreed that New England will be a new energy generating hub producing about 8 megawatts of electricity, sufficient to offset the closure of Liddell Power Station, or about 5 million homes.

    Well you have to use the land for something and the agriculture entrepreneurs have got out of wool for lack of profit caused by increasing costs, dislike cattle because that requires work and the clean air and bright sunshine just make such good electricity.

    I think this must be now a NSW government supported project because Barnyard Joke has been all over it like the plague, calming the credit for the work done by others,( perhaps his greatest attribute), extolling the virtues of alternative energy generation now that Cannon Brookes of Atlassian has seed funded 20% of a solar power station east of Mt Isa to export electricity to Asia.

    Now what was that about coal fired power stations being essential for base load power that the Nazional$ have been spruiking?

  5. Ken Fabian

    No climate change denial around here, says Mr Murdoch… Nothing like the biggest media organisation in the world choosing to comprehensively lie and deceive the public about the greatest and best understood threat to long term prosperity. I suppose it is to please the advertisers (businesses) who do not want to be held responsible or be accountable for their own actions.

    What people like Creighton are doing is not legitimate difference of opinion, it is better described as a crime against humanity.

  6. Jack Cade

    The Australian. Once, on an outback trip, I was taken short and decided to use The Australian (unread but given free at a recent stop) for lavatory paper.
    My arse rejected it.

  7. Gangey1959

    On that logic, if I looked at my (centuries old now) Airfix plastic model HMS Victory but had let my 5 year old brother build it, I would have to assume that ALL model builders are useless, get glue everywhere and can’t paint things properly. (At 12 back then, I was good , but my mate’s age 15 older brother was brilliant.)
    My partners ex is a weather forecaster, and they use models to tell us what the weather is going to do in the next day, week, month etc.
    OK, so no-one seems to have a handle on Melbourne yet, but they are getting better. Only out by a day or so over a week now.

    By the way, mr cretin. Covid19 is not as bad as first feared. It’s worse. Far worse. The modelers didn’t know about it’s ability to mutate so quickly into more virulent strains. Ah the “orstrayan”. Bullshit with a headline. Always was. Always will be. Even the sport section and death notices. Thanks voldemurdoch.

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