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1981 Paper's Predictions for Global Temperatures Spot-On

Unknown Lamer posted more than 2 years ago | from the we're-all-gonna-die dept.

Earth 371

Layzej writes "The Register reports on a paper published in Science in 1981 projecting global mean temperatures up to the year 2100. 'When the 1981 paper was written, temperatures in the northern hemispheres were declining, and global mean temperatures were below their 1940 levels. Despite those facts, the paper's authors confidently predicted a rise in temperature due to increasing CO2 emissions.' The prediction turns out to be remarkably accurate — even a bit optimistic. The article concludes that the 1981 paper is 'a nice example of a statement based on theory that could be falsified and up to now has withstood the test.'"

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monkeys throwing darts... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39597697)

I'm not commenting on the climate one way or the other, but when you have dozens of different predictions over the years is it really surprising that a couple of them happened to hit the mark? Don't forget the Global Cooling sentiment which was around just a couple of years before this article came out...

Re:monkeys throwing darts... (5, Insightful)

jIyajbe (662197) | more than 2 years ago | (#39597819)

No, because the multiple predictions are not random, the way thrown darts are. This is Science 101. Multiple models are proposed to explain and/or predict an observable phenomenon. The model that makes the the most accurate predictions gains credence over the others.

Re:monkeys throwing darts... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39597967)

No, because the multiple predictions are not random, the way thrown darts are. This is Science 101. Multiple models are proposed to explain and/or predict an observable phenomenon. The model that makes the the most accurate predictions gains credence over the others.

Cool. So when do we get new forms of taxation? Life is carbon based. Let's tax carbon. That way we can tax life! Yeah moving money around and buying "credits" will magically make all our emissions go away! Damn. The government still isn't powerful enough (after trying so hard too). Let's expand its power. They're good upstanding trustworthy people.

Re:monkeys throwing darts... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39598315)

Yeah moving money around and buying "credits" will magically make all our emissions go away!

So you are saying that economic disincentives are a lie, and the market is not composed of rational agents who will alter their behaviour in response to the internalisation of an externality?

Re:monkeys throwing darts... (1)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 2 years ago | (#39598545)

"rational agents"

I think of them more as 'responsive agents'. Rationality for me has to be effective and correct.

And yes, I know, that is not the correct definition.

Re:monkeys throwing darts... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39598065)

No, because the multiple predictions are not random, the way thrown darts are. This is Science 101. Multiple models are proposed to explain and/or predict an observable phenomenon. The model that makes the the most accurate predictions gains credence over the others.

Bullshit. Ptolemaic system made accurate predictions, but based on completely wrong understanding of reality. Credence my ass.

Re:monkeys throwing darts... (5, Insightful)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 2 years ago | (#39598427)

No it gained credence over other models that didn't get things right.

That in itself says nothing about whether it is actually correct in itself just whether it makes good predictions. A simpler model that makes exactly the same predictions would be prefered - that's what Occam's razor actually says after all. If the models make different predictions we don't need the razor we just see which one (if any) matches reality.

Re:monkeys throwing darts... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39598101)

You're right. They're not random like darts. They're random like ideas.

The same thing happens with stock-pickers. Multiple models are proposed to predict which way the market will turn. The newsletter guy with the most accurate predictions gains credence over the others.

Unlike in finance, the top pickers can't leverage their reputation to influence the outcome.

Otherwise, it's the same process. One scientist of many must make the best prediction. Since the range of outcomes is pretty narrow (especially if you just reduce it to global avarage temperature) and there are many scientists, we can expect the best prediction to be pretty good. We can also expect there to be some really bad predictions based on other models, and nobody is talking about them.

Now, over time if the model keeps working then yes, that really does argue in its favor... until it flops. Like a diverse portfolio of stocks confronted by systemic risk. Your diversity didn't save you in 2008, and some unaccounted for variable could totally trash what looks like a very good model.

Re:monkeys throwing darts... (-1, Troll)

RoLi (141856) | more than 2 years ago | (#39598371)

No, it's not science.

Talking about "concensus" and taking polls among "scientists" is not science.

Telling people to have faith in global warming despite lacking evidence [in-other-news.com] is not science.

Smearing everybody who disagrees is not science.

And some mysterious computer-models without tangible predictions is not science either. If you can predict the climate, publish your predictions for each and every weather station so we can compare predicted values to actual values. (Oh, and yes, I do know the difference between weather and climate.) But no, we get some hazy predictions for something in 100 years, yet nothing for next year. - This is like a Nostradamus-book that I once stumbled upon, it was great at predicting the past, made no predictions about the immediate future and only made some predictions for something very, very far away in the future. That is not science.

Moronic arguments about weather vs. climate are not science. Yes, I do know that weather is unpredictable like the bubbles in boiling water - yet I can predict the temperature in the cattle when I know the imputs. And I can predict the temperature for the next seconds better than for the next hours. Yet for "climate models", for some mysterious reason, they claim to predict the temperature in 100 years, but cannot predict it for the next 3 years, because "that's weather". Complete nonsense. This shows that "climate models" are not much more than a modernized version of vodoo-mumbo-jumbo. I will give a climate model credit when it can predict the mean temperature for NEXT YEAR for all weather stations on all continents with significantly better accuracy than the "same as this year"-prediction. But of course that would not be alarmist enough. If you cannot beat the most simple possible prediction (that the temperature is the same next year) then your climate model is absolutely worthless.

Reusing that famous "hockey-stick" diagram [wikipedia.org] forever is also not science. Why do most temperature graphs stop at the early 2000's? Because there was almost no warming since then, that's why.

Idiotic doomsday scenarios are also not science. In history, the warm periods were also the better periods for humans. This "end of the world" - "waterworld" - "runaway" nonsense is completely overblown. When the earth gets warmer, it also radiates more into space during the night, therefore more CO2 may indeed lead to some warmer years, but not to some "runaway" effect. BTW, oil production is at it's peak and will no longer significantly rise, therefore CO2-production will also level off and begin to fall in a few decades.

Re:monkeys throwing darts... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39597829)

Oh not this horseshit again. There was never a "Global Cooling" frenzy.

Re:monkeys throwing darts... (1, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#39598015)

"Oh not this horseshit again. There was never a "Global Cooling" frenzy."

Wanna bet? I guarantee there was one before the last mini ice age we had.

Re:monkeys throwing darts... (2)

i kan reed (749298) | more than 2 years ago | (#39598147)

I don't understand your comment. The last "mini ice age" was in the early middle ages, far before climatology or anything approximating it existed. Could you characterize what you mean there being a frenzy, and identify some of the related publications/records associated with it?

Call it informing the ignorant if you'd like to do so.

Re:monkeys throwing darts... (1)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 2 years ago | (#39598273)

The fact that there wasn't one among climate scientists doesn't mean there wasn't one.

Re:monkeys throwing darts... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39597841)

It's cherry-picked info. (I'm not saying Climate Change is not happening, just saying this is not science). I'm not sure what part of this data is falsifiable. It doesn't have any kind of error analysis and some of the assumptions are known to be false or be different than expected. You can't simply say, "It will get warmer", be off by as much as 30% and get credit for good science. This is the kind of thing that drives me nuts. Climate change *could* be a serious thing but it gets washed up with politically driven junk from activists. They are doing more harm than good.

Re:monkeys throwing darts... (3, Informative)

polar red (215081) | more than 2 years ago | (#39597951)

I'm not sure what part of this data is falsifiable

Data is not falsifiable, it is either correct or it isn't: it is scientific theory that's falsifiable.

Re:monkeys throwing darts... (1)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 2 years ago | (#39598043)

The first thing I thought when I read this yesterday was that this is how they "fit after the fact" Nostradamus predictions of the latest great tragedy. I also remember a lot of "12 inch sea level rise but the turn of the century" from that time period that didn't come true. So, yeah... The credibility thing is a bit strained.

Re:monkeys throwing darts... (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#39598193)

Don't confuse bad reporting, and uninformed opinion with actual prediction.

The paper is a good one, and it's predictions has stood up to time. Along with several others.

I'm sure some yahoo some where made the outlandish claim the water will rise a foot. I will also be he wasn't an expert or he was taken out of context.

Re:monkeys throwing darts... (1)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 2 years ago | (#39598301)

It was more than one yahoo... It was all over the place. Kinda like now.

Re:monkeys throwing darts... (3, Informative)

qmaqdk (522323) | more than 2 years ago | (#39598459)

Honestly, I think you should have kept that to yourself, because on second thought it doesn't make much sense. Nostradamus' "predictions" are incredibly ambiguous, which is why they can be made fit observations after the fact. Quantities such as degrees Celcius/Fahrenheit are not; the observations either fit within the specified level of precision or not.

Re:monkeys throwing darts... (5, Insightful)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | more than 2 years ago | (#39598501)

I see no evidence that you even read this paper. All you are doing it spouting the standard denialist memes: it's cherry picked; it's not science; it's not falsifiable, etc. You say there is no error analysis, but does that mean that they gave a single temperature prediction? No, even just looking at the graph in the article you can see there is quite a wide range to their prediction with different areas based on what the human response to this problem was.

You say some of the assumptions are false? Which ones? Why did you not include even a single example of how they got it wrong? And here is the my biggest problem:

You can't simply say, "It will get warmer", be off by as much as 30% and get credit for good science.

I did a search in the article for the text "It will get warmer" and could not find a match. It seems that the scientists behind the paper agreed with you, and so they didn't just make a single proclaimation without showing any supporting evidence.

Climate change *could* be a serious thing but it gets washed up with politically driven junk from activists. They are doing more harm than good.

Surely it is the skeptics that are doing the most harm. You know the ones. They have claimed over the past decade that global warming is false because it is actually getting cooler (although they have had to change this to claim that the temperature has remained steady once it became obvious that it was not getting cooler). They are the ones who make claims about climate changes without providing any supporting evidence, but will also deride scientists (who do actually show their working and their data) as doing the same.

Re:monkeys throwing darts... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39597861)

"but when you have dozens of different predictions over the years"

Exactly! All of my friends said school was a waste of time and only my mom, blindly throwing darts, was right.

Seriously though, has it never occurred to you that there are huge disinformation campaigns out there funded by biased parties? It's not like Al Gore brought up the whole climate/pollution issue.

"I'm not commenting on the climate one way or the other..."

Yes, you are.

Re:monkeys throwing darts... (3, Insightful)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 2 years ago | (#39598063)

Seriously though, has it never occurred to you that there are huge disinformation campaigns out there funded by biased parties?

Yep. On both sides. This is why both sides have zero credibility with the other. Both sides call the others lying bastards, and for a vocal minority on both sides, they are right.

Re:monkeys throwing darts... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39598173)

Exactly why the "controversy" is political and not scientific.

If the arguments were scientific, the conclusions would not be divided among party lines - yet they are. That should tell you something.

Re:monkeys throwing darts... (2)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 2 years ago | (#39598333)

I can see you did not want the karma hit from bringing rational debate into a climate article on slashdot... :) Allow me to compliment your insightful post before you are modded into -1 Troll oblivion along with me.

Re:monkeys throwing darts... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39598531)

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying there's no scientific consensus. I'm saying there's no scientific controversy (not significant controversy, anyway).

The whole topic only became politicized when liberal lawmakers called attention to it, and there was a conservative backlash of "skepticism" aimed to discredit AGW. Almost nobody in the political arena was actually investigating the science seriously.

Strangely enough, the scientific conclusions have not changed much if at all since the controversy erupted. While the partisans and the press and the talking heads "debate" the issue, the climate scientists have just gone about their work (with no small distraction), confirming one hypothesis after another. That would hardly be the case if it were just money driving the studies.

Re:monkeys throwing darts... (2, Insightful)

qmaqdk (522323) | more than 2 years ago | (#39598397)

Yep. On both sides. This is why both sides have zero credibility with the other. Both sides call the others lying bastards, and for a vocal minority on both sides, they are right.

I'm curious. Who do you think is funding the side that's supported by 90% of climate scientists worldwide?

Re:monkeys throwing darts... (2)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 2 years ago | (#39598491)

Which side is that, because depending on how you skew the framework it can be both sides. And that is part of the problem.

And for the record, the Chicago Climate Exchange funded a lot of now debunked research.

Re:monkeys throwing darts... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39597863)

Concurred. Also, wasn't there a relatively recent release where they concluded that the effects of CO2 were half as bad as they had previously thought?
Note: that doesn't mean that CO2 is good.

I'm all for green and reducing the pollutants in the environment, but I'm also pro nuclear. This has put me at odds with the Green parties here in Europe. Shame really, as we could get a hell of a lot more done if they were willing to sit down and look at the real figures of everything (from source to disposal). Says a lot about politics.

Re:monkeys throwing darts... (1)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 2 years ago | (#39598079)

Note: that doesn't mean that CO2 is good.

For plants, it kinda is... You know... For them to grow and stuff? I think it may be required...

Re:monkeys throwing darts... (4, Interesting)

niftydude (1745144) | more than 2 years ago | (#39597881)

I'm not commenting on the climate one way or the other, but when you have dozens of different predictions over the years is it really surprising that a couple of them happened to hit the mark?

Well that's pretty much how science works. Lots of different people with different theories make different predictions based on those theories.

The guys that make accurate predictions the most are the ones whose theories scientists start to believe are true.

Re:monkeys throwing darts... (1)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 2 years ago | (#39598097)

The guys that make accurate predictions the most are the ones whose theories scientists start to believe are true.

Only if they consistently make accurate predictions, and not just hit the Loto once.

Re:monkeys throwing darts... (3, Insightful)

niftydude (1745144) | more than 2 years ago | (#39598347)

Only if they consistently make accurate predictions, and not just hit the Loto once.

Unfortunately, for this particular research area, we only have one planet to experiment on. So they can't exactly reset the planet back to 1981, change the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, and re-run the experiment to see what the difference is.

Besides, they didn't just randomly draw a curve on a piece of paper, they designed a mathematical model, fed data into it, and made predictions based on that.

Re:monkeys throwing darts... (1)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 2 years ago | (#39598525)

Next time a hurricane is coming in, try and dig up the maps with different model predictions. They are all math, and all VERY different.

Re:monkeys throwing darts... (5, Insightful)

Elbereth (58257) | more than 2 years ago | (#39597895)

There's a difference between a scientific theory that ends up correctly modeling reality for a long period of time and me just making wild guesses. However, a lot of people will conflate the two, saying that all those scientists were doing was making wild guesses that happened to pan out. This is the same kind of thing that creationists say, when they point out that evolution is "just a theory". It also allows them to create their own competing "theory", consisting of a bunch of mythological stories.

Science is not just a bunch of old guys with wild hair who sit around, pulling shit out of their ass, and saying, "Hey, this sounds good. Let's go with this wild guess. The public will eat it up, and we'll get more grant money!"

Re:monkeys throwing darts... (3, Insightful)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 2 years ago | (#39598155)

Science is not just a bunch of old guys with wild hair who sit around, pulling shit out of their ass, and saying, "Hey, this sounds good. Let's go with this wild guess. The public will eat it up, and we'll get more grant money!"

Actually, it does include people like that too... And unfortunately, those guys are most likely to get the press. For the record, "Peer Reviewed" is not USA Today.

Re:monkeys throwing darts... (2, Interesting)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | more than 2 years ago | (#39598181)

Science is not just a bunch of old guys with wild hair who sit around, pulling shit out of their ass, and saying, "Hey, this sounds good. Let's go with this wild guess. The public will eat it up, and we'll get more grant money!"

You're correct. What you describe is the mainstream tenured academic world, not capital-s Science. There are always some scientists out there working in the corner somewhere, unnoticed.

Re:monkeys throwing darts... (2)

na1led (1030470) | more than 2 years ago | (#39597961)

I think with some common sense and a little science, it's not hard to figure out whats going on here. Same thing was said about Cigarettes and Cancer, how much more proof do you need that there's repercussions for doing bad things. Just look around you, look at what we are doing.

Re:monkeys throwing darts... (1)

vakuona (788200) | more than 2 years ago | (#39598313)

The big difference between CO2/Global warming and cigarettes/cancer is that for cigarettes cancer, we have all the people who don't smoke, and are not exposed to copious amounts of smoke as a control. For CO2/global warming, no control exists. Temperatures have always fluctuated, and so it is difficult to discern whether we have a trend or not, therefore it is harder to be more certain as to the effect of CO2 on the climate.

And besides, I have not seen too much evidence that CO2 does bad things. My own not very informed hypothesis is that the increased CO2 might actually be a good thing if it means plants can grow faster and healthier because of the increased amount of raw material (CO2) present. But it is just that, a hypothesis.

Re:monkeys throwing darts... (5, Informative)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 2 years ago | (#39598059)

I'm not commenting on the climate one way or the other

Sure you are. You're argument in a nutshell, goes like this:
1. Premise: There were hundreds of predictions about what would happen to the climate over a 30 year period.
2. Premise: One prediction was demonstrably right.
3. Inference: because 99.9% of the predictions were wrong, the one that was right must be due to pure chance.
4. Final conclusion: I can safely ignore any other prediction about climate from anybody, because the only way it can be right is by pure chance.

Well, that's not how science works. The logic of science works more like this:
1. Premise: There were hundreds of predictions about what would happen to the climate over a 30 year period, each using different models and ideas to arrive at that prediction.
2. Premise: One prediction was demonstrably closer to right than the others.
3. Inference: The models and ideas that produced the correct prediction are closer to the truth than those that didn't correctly predict a result.
4. Final conclusion: When making the next prediction, start from using those models and ideas and you'll get pretty close to the right answer.

Here's a similar problem from physics:
Model A: Acceleration due to Earth's gravity near the ground in a vacuum is ~10 m/s^2, so the ball should fall 100 meters in 4 seconds.
Model B: Acceleration due to Earth's gravity near the ground in a vacuum is ~5 m/s^2, so the ball should fall 100 meters in ~5.8 seconds.
Time for a ball to fall 100 is slightly over 4 seconds. Ergo, 10 m/s^2 is less wrong than 5 m/s^2.

In the words of Isaac Asimov, Model A is wrong, Model B is wrong, but if you think that Model A is as wrong as Model B, then your view is wronger than both of them put together.

Re:monkeys throwing darts... (1)

vakuona (788200) | more than 2 years ago | (#39598443)

That problem from physics is not similar at all.

A model does not have to produce the closest prediction for it to be the most correct model. Getting the closest prediction can be completely down to chance.

For example, how much CO2 did he predict we would have put up there. How much rainforest depletion did he allow for. How much did he allow for other greenhouse gases. It could turn out that he predicted much higher temperatures based on a much smaller amount of CO2 emitted, which would make his model wrong. it would turn out that he did not allow for any increase in methane, which would make his model wrong. All this, even if he somehow lucked onto the correct forecast.

When you have a lot of models, one of them is going to be closer than others. If the models were black boxes, then you would choose the model that produced the best prediction, but once you know more about the models, you may find that the models that produced the best predictions may be the worst fitting models overall.

Re:monkeys throwing darts... (2, Insightful)

ilguido (1704434) | more than 2 years ago | (#39598537)

Model A: Acceleration due to Earth's gravity near the ground in a vacuum is ~10 m/s^2, so the ball should fall 100 meters in 4 seconds. Model B: Acceleration due to Earth's gravity near the ground in a vacuum is ~5 m/s^2, so the ball should fall 100 meters in ~5.8 seconds. Time for a ball to fall 100 is slightly over 4 seconds. Ergo, 10 m/s^2 is less wrong than 5 m/s^2.

In the words of Isaac Asimov, Model A is wrong, Model B is wrong, but if you think that Model A is as wrong as Model B, then your view is wronger than both of them put together.

This example is clueless: the OP wasn't questioning the identificated parameters of the model, but the model: in your example both models are the same!

To show you how wrong your example is:
Model A: acceleration due to Earth's gravity near the ground in a vacuum is 9 m/s^2, so according to A a 0.5 kilos ball should fall 1000 meters in ~14.9 seconds.
Model B: acceleration due to Earth's gravity near the ground in a vacuum is (4 + weight/0.086) m/s^2, so according to B a 0.5 kilos ball should fall 1000 meters in ~14.28 seconds.
Model B is completely wrong, while Model A is pretty accurate, however for a 0.5 kilos ball Model B gives better predictions.

Re:monkeys throwing darts... (2)

Sique (173459) | more than 2 years ago | (#39598069)

The Global Cooling was a prediction for the year 5000, not for 2100. It might confuse you, but actually both Global Warming and Global Cooling could be correct. We have proof that in 1981, there were sufficiently exact climate models for the last 30 years, and we have good arguments, that the Global Cooling is a valid prediction too.

Re:monkeys throwing darts... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39598307)

The "Global Cooling sentiment" was never a scientific concern. It was like the Mayan calendar nonsense.

Re:monkeys throwing darts... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39598391)

There was never a global cooling frenzy, evidence was simply published which showed some areas of the world were getting hotter and others were getting colder. We're not going to see a endless heating of the planet (at very least certainly not short-term), just a widespread disruption of weather patterns so that we see more extreme and unusual weather events in *both* directions. That's why everyone's referring to it recently as climate change rather than global warming.

Re:monkeys throwing darts... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39598419)

First (critical anti-climate change) post!

Re:monkeys throwing darts... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39598527)

Dozens? Hundreds. Now we're supposed to be impressed because one out of hundreds was correct given an arbitrary point in time.

What about the rest? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39597735)

And 4,999 other predictions were wrong.

Re:What about the rest? (5, Funny)

AdmiralXyz (1378985) | more than 2 years ago | (#39597767)

Care to cite one? Since it sounds like you're so well-informed.

Re:What about the rest? (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 2 years ago | (#39597969)

I would also be interested in knowing about other predictions, in particular predictions with specific numbers backed by plausible theoretical models, published in a respectable venue like Science or Nature (or some more specialized but still solidly peer-reviewed journal).

If indeed it turns out that there were a few hundred such models/predictions, and one turned out to be close to right, that would not be super impressive. But I'm not able to find those hundreds, if they exist...

Re:What about the rest? (1)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 2 years ago | (#39598175)

For some reason, Google does not have a good index of websites from the 70s. I need to find an old copy of Lycos or Aliweb...

Re:What about the rest? (1)

i kan reed (749298) | more than 2 years ago | (#39598167)

What were the other predictions? How do they relate to scientific observation? How did you find out about them? Are you sure you're not engaging in paranoid delusion?

Great! Still not CO2? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39597747)

Very interesting to keep hearing all the info still coming on CO2 based warming. This theory seems to have been proven less plausible, with the solar cycle theory of warming a somewhat more sustainable cause. The CO2 theory camp seems to be wrapped up more in the carbon credit business or is somehow linked to government funding on climate research, which is again a conflict of interest in true scientific discovery.

Re:Great! Still not CO2? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39597853)

The warming of due to CO2 is a scientific fatc. Please REPEAT the experiments showing this.

What? (4, Funny)

niftydude (1745144) | more than 2 years ago | (#39597773)

The eighties was 30 years ago?

Shit I'm old.

Re:What? (1)

rrohbeck (944847) | more than 2 years ago | (#39597913)

I started to feel old in the eighties, you insensitive clod!

Re:What? (5, Funny)

gatfirls (1315141) | more than 2 years ago | (#39597941)

Like people who used phones hooked to walls and paid 300$ for a walkman cd players would know anything about science or the climate.

Re:What? (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#39598103)

Are you looking to start a flame war, son? Get off my lawn, dipshit.

Re:What? (1)

niftydude (1745144) | more than 2 years ago | (#39598227)

Wow, that's brutal.

I was just going to point out to GP that we invented all the mobile phones and mp3 players and other cool stuff he wastes his time playing with, so we have some small claim to knowing things about science.

But your way is good too.

Re:What? (1)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 2 years ago | (#39598209)

The eighties was 30 years ago?

Shit I'm old.

Shut up. I am an age denialist, and your messing me up!

Re:What? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#39598281)

Tell me about it. I read the paper when it came out.

Re:What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39598367)

Paper, whatzat?

30% off is spot-on (3, Insightful)

HBI (604924) | more than 2 years ago | (#39597807)

Tells you about the rigor of climate science, that's for certain.

Re:30% off is spot-on (4, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | more than 2 years ago | (#39598001)

I'm going to make a wild guess that you don't know very much about science in any field.

Re:30% off is spot-on (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39598127)

well, I do know a fair bit, and I also know that 10% error tends to be an upper bound.

Re:30% off is spot-on (1)

I_am_Jack (1116205) | more than 2 years ago | (#39598309)

Most instrumentation used for measurements have a +/- 10% error in displayed value, even after calibration and certification. So yeah, 30% is pretty good.

Re:30% off is spot-on (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39598533)

well, I do know a fair bit, and I also know that 10% error tends to be an upper bound.

Just like mean plus/minus 2 times the standard deviation, right? Or 95% confidence intervals. Scientific standards.

No, AC, it depends on what you're doing. There isn't a 10%-upper-bound-or-else-your-results-are-bogus rule.

Re:30% off is spot-on (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39598047)

Given how uncertainty propagates from measurement to calculation (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propagation_of_uncertainty) and the fact that a climate model is going to be highly complex with lots of variables, I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to find that undershooting the trend by 30% is a good indicator of a quality model.

Re:30% off is spot-on (1)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 2 years ago | (#39598117)

Pretty good for something missing thirty years' worth of research on the lower-order effects.

Also, generally in science "rigor" is used to describe quality of methodology, not level of accuracy or standards for accuracy.

Re:30% off is spot-on (4, Insightful)

rrohbeck (944847) | more than 2 years ago | (#39598185)

Yeah, warming is 30% higher than they predicted, they were clearly wrong.

Re:30% off is spot-on (1)

CAIMLAS (41445) | more than 2 years ago | (#39598219)

Yep, only in soft science fields (social sciences, like climate science, basically) does a 30% prediction inaccuracy get pushed about as "he was right because he was optimistic".

If he were 30% high, he'd be ignored because it doesn't suit the political agenda.

somebody had to be right.... (1, Troll)

lkcl (517947) | more than 2 years ago | (#39597809)

well... y'know what? even brownian motion gets it right if there's enough molecules. the trick is in being able to spot the one molecule that pops out at the right place at the right time, and this is no different, really.

out of hundreds of articles on climate theory predictions, at least _one_ of them had to get it right. the problem is this, however: that correctness could only be spotted in retrospect, and so doesn't actually help us *unless* the article goes on to predict a bit further into the future, and even then it *still* doesn't really help us to solve the problem (which is that action needs to be taken) because, once again, people really won't listen until it's yet *again* too late.

all of which goes to just highlight that the problem is not the predictions, but that nothing's been done *about* those predictions. so that just leaves it to us to DO something, as individuals. which is why i'm actually doing something, in two areas that i am interested in: cars - http://lkcl.net/ev [lkcl.net] - and computers - http://rhombus-tech.net./ [rhombus-tech.net.] what are _you_ doing, slashdot reader?

Re:somebody had to be right.... (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#39598327)

Maybe the thing you should do is try to understand how science works?

"well... y'know what? even brownian motion gets it right if there's enough molecules. the trick is in being able to spot the one molecule that pops out at the right place at the right time, and this is no different, really."

seriously, you sound like an idiot.

What that really means? (4, Interesting)

Extremus (1043274) | more than 2 years ago | (#39597821)

I am very far from being a specialist in this topic. The The Register article seems to imply that global warming must be true, given that there was ONE paper in 80s already anticipating it. That is not necessarily true. The prediction can be result of pure chance in a possibly erratic research study (I have no clue if that is the case or not). One could perhaps make an stronger statement in that direction if MANY papers anticipated global warming (possibly using different models).

Re:What that really means? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39598025)

The The Register article seems to imply that global warming must be true, given that there was ONE paper in 80s already anticipating it.

Maybe they're implying that global warning must be true, given that temperature is rising steadily, as anticipated in that particular paper.

Re:What that really means? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39598153)

The Register should do an article where they go back to the eighties and look for people who were remarkably prescient in their lottery predictions. I could really use their insight to pick some numbers today.

Re:What that really means? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#39598385)

Many have.
And you don't have a chance of erratic behaviors that account for 30 years of confirming data.

Sure, if this was 1987 we could say that, not anymore.

Of course Climate change is a fact, and that humans are the primary instigators is also a fact.

Too bad religious assholes create ignorance, destroy scientific credibility, and spread the false ides of 'controversy' about anything that doesn't jive with there ignorant belief.

 

Re:What that really means? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39598425)

It means that we are all sitting in front of computers that are "plugged" into a power source that is more than likely powered by COAL!! So, we should all turn off our computers and let a few newspapers tell us what to believe and what to get angry about.

Oh, and don't for get to pull the plug on all the devices that have remote controls as they are using that dirty power 24/7.

Have I hit all the cliches yet?

Re:What that really means? (2)

sackvillian (1476885) | more than 2 years ago | (#39598503)

The prediction can be result of pure chance in a possibly erratic research study

While that may be true, consider the approach this paper used, roughly:

  • --Warming up to that point was modelled and divided into sources, including effects of aerosols, solar activity, CO2 increases, etc.
  • --Specific events were used to compare predictions to reality, for example the Mount Agung eruption in 1963, and those results were used to refine the model.
  • --Energy usage and CO2 emission rates, among other factors, were predicted for coming decades.
  • --Based on those predictions, the effects of the resultant CO2 were fed into the model and surface temperature increases were predicted (having to base predictions upon other predictions).

It's a given that any reasonable model is designed to agree well with previous known events, as this one absolutely did. The fact that it further agrees well with over 30 years of future results makes the list of past and future successful predictions so large that clearly the model has at least something going for it. In other words, this is certainly not one erratic research study that got lucky.

What's really scary is how so much of the talking points that are put forth by denialists today are addressed in this paper - from over three decades ago. Volcanoes, solar flares, natural temperature cycles, etc etc. That doesn't exactly inspire confidence for humankind's ability to collectively discuss, understand, and address complex problems!

I'm my own Scientist (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39597831)

As an obnoxiously misinformed dumbass, I'm willing to throw out any scientific evidenced based for reasons that border on the absurd.

I read that another unrelated study was wrong, and that the scientists were on big climate's payroll. Therefor, global warming, and by extension this scientifically proven theory are also wrong.

Now if you'll excuse me, I've got to post this brilliant analysis on my blog.

SUNSPOTS (2)

p51d007 (656414) | more than 2 years ago | (#39597929)

And if you take pretty much the same data, over time, and show when the sunspot activity grew & shrank, I bet you would show that the temperature rise pretty much is spot on with the rise in geomagnetic activity from the sun, which is what heats & cools this rock we call a planet! But, considering the stupidity of "modern" man, the only thing they will read out of this is that temperatures are rising! Back when I was in high school in the 70's, they were talking about a mini ice age....but unless you read into the article, they finally mentioned the LACK of sunspots & the cooling of the sun at the time.

Re:SUNSPOTS (2)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 2 years ago | (#39598253)

Really? This graph of sunspot activity [nasa.gov] looks like it correlates well with temperature graphs [nasa.gov] ?

The referenced paper (in TFS, that is) actually talks about variation in solar luminosity and in volcanic aerosols as the primary source of variation about the long-term trend.

Re:SUNSPOTS (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#39598497)

" I bet you would show that the temperature rise pretty much is spot on with the rise in geomagnetic activity from the sun, "
no, you wouldn'ty. This is knwon data, these comparisons have been done.

Climate change is ON TOP OIF change in temperature from the sun.

When the sun was 'cooler' our temperature didn't rise as fast, but it did rise. Under you premise we would expect it to return to previous temperatures, it didn't.

You idea is provable wrong.

"was in high school in the 70's, they were talking about a mini ice age"
And? IT's not 1970 anymore. we have a lot more data.
I know this will be hard for you to grasp, because it require 2 thoughts.

1) Matter is being spewed into the air. This matter blocks some light. This is what the cooling talk in the media was about in the 70s.

2) Some of it is CO2. This traps the heat. With me so far?

The effect from trapping the heat is stronger then the effect of the 'dimming'. This is known and proven.

Why people thing the media and 'general societal knowledge' is 100% correct is beyond me. Basing an opinion from something you heard in high school in the 70s is just fucking stupid. YOU ARE BEING STUPID.

Of course, I am assuming you are correct about hearing about 'mini ice age' I don't remember that from high school in the 70s, no one who makes that claim can show citation of that ever being said. Not that it matter when we have so much data confirming the global warming theory.

You asked for it! (5, Funny)

jIyajbe (662197) | more than 2 years ago | (#39597937)

So, in yesterday's story about predicting the collapse of civilization, multiple posters snarked about how convenient it is to make predictions about what will happen 30 years from now, 'cause no one will remember you made those predictions--so you'll never be called to account for your oh-so-incorrect doomsday predictions.

I now calmly await for yesterday's posters to issue "I can see now that I was wrong" statements.

Re:You asked for it! (1)

boristdog (133725) | more than 2 years ago | (#39598073)

Except that civilization will have collapsed by then and their mea culpa posts will be scrawled in charcoal on the sides of the burned-out husks of buildings.

Re:You asked for it! (1)

toetagger (642315) | more than 2 years ago | (#39598133)

I guess for that to happen, you would need a story about a prediction from 30 years ago that turned out to be wrong. And guess what, then everyone would say that's redundant because there were thousands of those from that year. Now, wouldn't it be interesting if both those studies were done by the same people/institute/method/etc?

Re:You asked for it! (1)

Plekto (1018050) | more than 2 years ago | (#39598207)

I'd actually worry about yesterday's prediction, though. We have an enormous problem with our worldwide food supplies and too many people to feed. Too much trash and negative impacts on the environment as well. Combine that with the fact that middle east oil will be largely gone by then, and the situation is ripe for another world war at the least.

Re:You asked for it! (1)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 2 years ago | (#39598277)

About this one... I remember a lot of "The seas will rise at least a foot by the turn of the century" predictions around this time. Where are those analyses?

A Pointless Anecdote (4, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 2 years ago | (#39598381)

So about 8 years ago I moved from Minnesota to Northern Virginia for work. And one of the aspects of culture shock was that I was now living with, befriending and enjoying my time with folks from all over the country who had moved to the DC area for work. Many friends from Texas and Pennsylvania specifically. I even roomed with several of them and one thing really bothered me: they did not recycle. So I kept doing my own recycling and trying to help them out to no avail. This was quite different from Minnesota where it was stressed when we were young that it was important. You might call it common sense or indoctrination or nanny state or whatever your political views tell you to but that's just the way it was largely. And the reason was that the Earth is a precious resource.

So, being an avid Slashdotter, I was fairly in tune with the Global Warming debate and would often talk to my new friends about it. Every single one of them either didn't want to hear it or thought I was an idiot. They seemed to only listen when I would bring up news items lending credibility to the absence of climate change. Then they asserted there was climate change but it is natural and so on and so forth. To this day, my friend from Texas does not recycle in his home. His Korean wife has asked me not to discuss global warming around her and continually asserts it was proven wrong years ago. My friend from Texas, being quite a bit smarter now likes to talk about what we can do about it without him having to alter his lifestyle at all. The reason for it is unimportant to him, now he just accepts that it's happening for some reason and how can we put something in space that can block the sun partially while maintaining a synchronous orbit around the sun between it and Earth. It's not that that is a simpler solution than reducing your personal carbon footprint but instead it's one that doesn't require government intervention (which he views as the ultimate evil) and doesn't require him to change.

So what do you do when you read news about this, do you whip out your biggest "I told you so" font and e-mail it out to your friends until they get tired of it? I mean, I can't even politely offer to collect the cans and bottles from one of my friend's parties and take them to the local recycling center. He's almost proud of his freedom to be able to send it to the dump. So I have two options. One is silence and apathy and the other is not having any friends in this area. Silence and apathy it is.

Re:A Pointless Anecdote (1)

jIyajbe (662197) | more than 2 years ago | (#39598549)

+1 Interesting

To quote Robert Heinlein: "Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig."

Shift to a productive debate... (4, Interesting)

bdabautcb (1040566) | more than 2 years ago | (#39598049)

I wish coversation around this topic would shift from debate about whether or not the climate is changing and may in fact change dramatically over the course of several decades, and whether or not humans activities have an impact on the climate to a productive conversation about how to best react to changing climate and use it productively. It is obvious to me that where I live (Minnesota), the mean temperatures are rising and the growing seasons are getting longer. Shit, I had my vegetable seeds sprouting and even had them outdoors some days, early in March, in Minnesota! I am also growing a dwarf bananna tree that has made it through two winters here. I guess my point is, I think it would be great if people would quit arguing about empirical facts (such as there is more CO2 in the atmosphere than ever before during modern human civilization); and start wondering about how to react to the changes that might be brought about in this altered environment.

Re:Shift to a productive debate... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39598471)

define "dramatically"

Has the climate never changed in the past? And how do you know it wasn't "Dramatic"?

Re:Shift to a productive debate... (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#39598561)

BY keeping a fake controversy going, people don't have to think about their religious beliefs, and industry doesn't have to change as fast..right now.

I agree with you. We have gone from 'interesting weather, but it could be erratic behavior' to ' It's changing and we better be thinking about how to deal with it'.

Look at the jet stream and ocean temperatures.

Extrapolation (1, Funny)

tmosley (996283) | more than 2 years ago | (#39598053)

I love extrapolation.

http://xkcd.com/605/ [xkcd.com]

Seriously, things don't go in a straight line forever. Further, they were quite totally wrong, in that their predictions were too low. I don't know what the big deal is, other than AGW people glorying in their own selection bias.

Prescient (5, Interesting)

rrohbeck (944847) | more than 2 years ago | (#39598145)

From the Hansen study:
"Political and economic forces affecting energy use and fuel choice make it unlikely that the CO2 issue will have a major impact on energy policies until convincing observations of the global warming are in hand."

Summary from TFA - not convincing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39598245)

Summary. The global temperature rose by 0.20C between the middle 1960's and 1980, yielding a warming of 0.4ÂC in the past century. This temperature increase is consistent with the calculated greenhouse effect due to measured increases of
atmospheric carbon dioxide. Variations of volcanic aerosols and possibly solar luminosity appear to be primary causes of observed fluctuations about the mean trend of increasing temperature. It is shown that the anthropogenic carbon dioxide warming should emerge from the noise level of natural climate variability by the end of the century, and there is a high probability of warming in the 1980's. Potential effects on
climate in the 21st century include the creation of drought-prone regions in North America and central Asia as part of a shifting of climatic zones, erosion of the West
Antarctic ice sheet with a consequent worldwide rise in sea level, and opening of the fabled Northwest Passage.

Which part has been a correct prediction? There was warming at the end of the 20th century.

Obvious warming due to CO2? The warming has been less than the minimum prediction of the IPCC. There are other theories, in particular, solar activity. The data doesn't support either theory convincingly.

Drought prone regions? No more so than usual.

Sea rise due to collapsing Antarctic ice sheet? The ice on the continent has been increasing. Melting sea ice doesn't increase the sea level.

Opening the Northwest Passage? Arctic sea ice is above normal right now.

Other than some warming at the end of the last century, Hansen's predictions haven't come true yet.

Test of Time (5, Interesting)

Guppy (12314) | more than 2 years ago | (#39598339)

"a nice example of a statement based on theory that could be falsified and up to now has withstood the test."

Just wait till we finally reach a double of atmospheric CO2 values, at which point we'll get to see if the predictions Svante Arrhenius made in the late 19th / early 20th century pan out.

If the quantity of carbonic acid in the air should sink to one-half its present percentage, the temperature would fall by about 4 degrees; a diminution to one-quarter would reduce the temperature by 8 degrees. On the other hand, any doubling of the percentage of carbon dioxide in the air would raise the temperature of the earth's surface by 4 degrees; and if the carbon dioxide were increased fourfold, the temperature would rise by 8 degrees.
Although the sea, by absorbing carbonic acid, acts as a regulator of huge capacity, which takes up about five-sixths of the produced carbonic acid, we yet recognize that the slight percentage of carbonic acid in the atmosphere may by the advances of industry be changed to a noticeable degree in the course of a few centuries.

Spot On? (1)

the computer guy nex (916959) | more than 2 years ago | (#39598387)

This paper tries to predict temperature changes based on multiple scenarios of CO2 ppm emissions.

There are 2 fundamental problems, however. 1) There were no uncertainty ranges given. We can't say that a 30% deviation from one of the scenarios is accurate or inaccurate without these ranges. 2) The actual CO2 ppm emissions do not fall within the bounds of any of the proposed scenarios.

All we can say, definitively, is that events transpired outside the bounds of any of the scenarios and the results were outside the prediction of any of the scenarios. I fail to see the significance here.

While 70% isn't a failing grade exactly... (1)

ZahrGnosis (66741) | more than 2 years ago | (#39598499)

I love science. From the article:

"a projection from 1981 for rising temperatures [...] has been found to agree well with the observations since then, underestimating the observed trend by about 30%."

Most predictions that are off by 30% aren't really considered "remarkably accurate".

I'm uncertain about this one (i.e. I'm not trying to troll). It's nice that the prediction does seem to chart well, and since the weather can't be accurately predicted 7 days in advance, any climate model that outperforms naive ones over 30 years is an achievement. Still, the point of the (recent) author is clear -- they're trying to emphasize that a warming trend is occurring and that people predicted it 30 years ago using "science" that is still sound -- at least some discussion of why a 30% error rate is acceptable should take place.

Predictions that come true... (-1)

hsthompson69 (1674722) | more than 2 years ago | (#39598515)

...come from astrologists as well. This doesn't make it science.

The fact of the matter is that *anyone* could have predicted the gentle rise in temperatures due to the natural end of the Little Ice Age. And if you'll take careful note, Hansen's graph doesn't start inflecting in any meaningful way until past 2020 :)

The open question to those that believe in Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming, is what observations would falsify the *central conceit*, not just the happenstance of natural climate change. What will require throwing away the "co2 drives warming" model, instead of just tweaking it to curve fit observations? Noting that the real world observations *didn't* match Hansen's predictions (they were higher than expected at first, and then plateaued), what can we conclude?

1) Oh noes! It's worse than we thought!
2) The model, including its central conceit, is wrong. Back to the drawing board.

Falsification means that the *reaction* to data can include admitting the central conceit is wrong. It doesn't mean that observations are "consistent with" prior predictions.

How many others didn't hit the mark? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39598539)

How many others didn't hit the mark? Can we see those numbers?
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