Claim: Mathematical discovery by Perth-based electrical engineer may change everything about the climate debate 4

Iceland 046sNow don’t get excited, the above title comes from an Australian paper that is promoting a claim that is quite frankly BS, and this is not simply your ordinary BS, it has been dressed up to come across as credible …

A former climate modeller for the Government’s Australian Greenhouse Office, with six degrees in applied mathematics, Dr Evans has unpacked the architecture of the basic climate model which underpins all climate science.

He has found that, while the underlying physics of the model is correct, it had been applied incorrectly.

He has fixed two errors and the new corrected model finds the climate’s sensitivity to carbon dioxide (CO2) is much lower than was thought.

It turns out the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has over-estimated future global warming by as much as 10 times, he says.

“Yes, CO2 has an effect, but it’s about a fifth or tenth of what the IPCC says it is. CO2 is not driving the climate; it caused less than 20 per cent of the global warming in the last few decades”.

Dr Evans says his discovery “ought to change the world”.

“But the political obstacles are massive,” he said.

His discovery explains why none of the climate models used by the IPCC reflect the evidence of recorded temperatures.

OK, so let’s proceed to unpack this.

Claim: “A former climate modeller for the Government’s Australian Greenhouse Office”

In a word … no.

The slightly longer answer is that he did work for the Australian Government’s Greenhouse Office for five years, but that work was specifically focused on a carbon accounting model for estimating and predicting all biomass, litter and soil carbon pools in forest and agricultural systems for the Australian government – that is not a climate model.

Additionally, Mr Evans writes in “My Life With the AGO and Other Observations” that he is “not a climate modeller.”.

We should also perhaps note that as best as I can tell, he has not published any peer-reviewed research papers on the subject of climate change ever, and has only ever published just one maths related paper over a quarter of a century ago. There is a claim that he has several papers that are currently undergoing peer-review, but no links.

Claim: The IPCC model does not work, is broken, and has failed to correctly predict what will happen

In a rather stark contrast to what Mr Evans claims, the models have not only successfully predicted what will happen, but have often turned out to be way too conservative and not too alarmist …

The climate models, far from being melodramatic, may be conservative in the predictions they produce. For example, here’s a graph of sea level rise:

Observed sea level rise since 1970 from tide gauge data (red) and satellite measurements (blue) compared to model projections for 1990-2010 from the IPCC Third Assessment Report (grey band).  (SourceThe Copenhagen Diagnosis, 2009)

Here, the models have understated the problem. In reality, observed sea level is tracking at the upper range of the model projections. There are other examples of models being too conservative, rather than alarmist as some portray them. All models have limits – uncertainties – for they are modelling complex systems. However, all models improve over time, and with increasing sources of real-world information such as satellites, the output of climate models can be constantly refined to increase their power and usefulness.

Climate models have already predicted many of the phenomena for which we now have empirical evidence. Climate models form a reliable guide to potential climate change.

Further observations

Mr Evans has a track record for making claims that are contrary to what the evidence tells us

Below are many of the climate myths used by David Evans plus how often each myth has been used.

Climate myths by Evans What the Science Says Usage
“There’s no tropospheric hot spot” We see a clear “short-term hot spot” – there’s various evidence for a “long-term hot spot”. 4
“Climate sensitivity is low” Net positive feedback is confirmed by many different lines of evidence. 1
“Temp record is unreliable” The warming trend is the same in rural and urban areas, measured by thermometers and satellites. 1
“It’s microsite influences” Microsite influences on temperature changes are minimal; good and bad sites show the same trend. 1
“Hansen’s 1988 prediction was wrong”

Jim Hansen had several possible scenarios; his mid-level scenario B was right.

“Ice age predicted in the 70s” The vast majority of climate papers in the 1970s predicted warming. 1
“It warmed before 1940 when CO2 was low” Early 20th century warming is due to several causes, including rising CO2. 1
“Models are unreliable” Models successfully reproduce temperatures since 1900 globally, by land, in the air and the ocean. 1
“Climate’s changed before” Climate reacts to whatever forces it to change at the time; humans are now the dominant forcing. 1
“It’s cooling” The last decade 2000-2009 was the hottest on record. 1
“We’re coming out of the Little Ice Age”

Scientists have determined that the factors which caused the Little Ice Age cooling are not currently causing global warming

“It’s a 1500 year cycle” Ancient natural cycles are irrelevant for attributing recent global warming to humans. 1
“There’s no empirical evidence” There are multiple lines of direct observations that humans are causing global warming. 1
“It cooled mid-century” Mid-century cooling involved aerosols and is irrelevant for recent global warming. 1
“CO2 lags temperature” CO2 didn’t initiate warming from past ice ages but it did amplify the warming.  1
“It’s cosmic rays” Cosmic rays show no trend over the last 30 years & have had little impact on recent global warming.

So yes, while indeed the original article might on the surface sound credible, if you dig a bit, and you really don’t need to dig all that hard these days because Google is our friend, then you very quickly soon trip up over a few things that bring it all into a rather different light.


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4 thoughts on “Claim: Mathematical discovery by Perth-based electrical engineer may change everything about the climate debate

  • Anu

    Humans attribute to global warming. BUT…Unfortunately due to humans and a few volcanic activities, we’ve missed out on the last few centuries of ice age that we should be in the middle of right now… So, usually just before an ice age, everything gets really warm…And a bunch of micro-organisms begin to bloom and rapidly consume carbon dioxide and deep freeze begins… Even mars is currently undergoing a record breaking warming…We’ve even found evidence of microbes that break down carbon locked in the now melting martian ice…And mars is somewhere about 95% CO2…And about 3% Nitrogen. :-) Guess what? Pluto too! The entire solar system undergoes cycles and the planets are just in it for the ride… To be vain enough to think we have any effect in this universe is just insanity. :-)

  • toby

    i thought the rule was if you play the man not the message you lose? And on top of that you create a straw man to knock down?! why are you ignoring the fact his comment relates to temperature models which even the IPCC acknowledges have been steady for around 18 years.