Insights on Climate Science, From Economics

I continue to be fascinated by parallels between climate science and economics.  In the past, I have mainly discussed how climate models have the same problems and abuses and shortcomings as macro-economic models.

I thought this post discussing Keynesian economics could easily been written about climate:

No small part of Keynes’s (and the Keynesians’s) success is due, I believe, to their dressing up in scientific jargon and garb what are, at bottom, little more than ad hoc excuses for people to follow “their first impulsive reactions.”  Keynesians’s pose as scientists – their substitution of scientism for science – masks their rejection of a genuinely scientific approach to the study of the economy.

  • renewable guy

    The assumption is that because the climate models aren’t accurate enough in some way, that climate science is also just not right enough. NOt so.

  • sundevil

    It’s clearly not right enough to make the predictions it claims to make. If we are influencing warming/cooling 1-2 degrees per century, so what? At some point, the law of diminishing returns kicks in. If there is no positive feedback (and the evidence for that is weak to non-existent – i.e. “we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment.”), then there is nothing to see here, so let’s move along. That’s what the general public is doing and it seems that an increasing number of scientists are following suit. The case for AGW is getting weaker, not stronger. Take out the fear mongering which was driving the gravy train and there just isn’t a lot of substance left. But environmentalists should fear not, as Big Green will find another so-called crisis and the shell game will continue. It really is like a cult in that failed predictions drive away some people, but also serve to galvanize the true believers as the leaders come up with a plausible excuse for each of their mistakes.

  • Scientist don’t have enough information about the climate to make predictions. We can barely predict next weeks weather let alone what the climate will be like 100 years from now. My problem is climate scientist think that the weather we’ve had for the past couple 100 years is normal, but if you look throughout our planets history, the climate we’ve experienced has been unusually stable..there is no “normal”. We’ve been lucky. “Climate Change” is just another form of control the government is using to control us. Remember in the 70s they thought we were heading into an ice age. In the 90s and early 2000s it was global warming….now they’ve dropped global warming and now it’s climate change…this way whether it gets hot or cold they can say see…..it’s “climate change”..it’s all bull and I think the public is starting to realize this.

  • netdr

    renewable guy:

    The assumption is that because the climate models aren’t accurate enough in some way, that climate science is also just not right enough. NOt so.
    ****************
    I disagree.

    Incorrect models are worse than useless. If they overstate the effect of CO2 then well meaning people will use their predictions to justify harmful taxes or other damaging actions.

    The Doctor’s have a saying “First do no harm”.

    The climatologists have a saying “First do lots of harm then find out if it was necessary”
    .
    Here is how a climate model should be made:
    1)You/they understand the climate
    2) then they make predictions based on their understanding
    3) If the predictions are wrong you go back to step 1 [hopefully getting better each iteration.]

    Basing policy decisions on 100 year predictions from models which blow up after 20 years is mentally challenged.

    Problem: It takes 20 years to make one iteration so learning is slow.

    The modelers will get to step 3 and tweak their models so they would have been right and claim victory. That is obviously mentally challenged ! They must wait 20 more years before claiming the model has been validated.

    It is like my horse playing friend. He went through the above once a week and the model could always be tweaked so he made money in the past never the future.

    I will believe the models are accurate when they prove themselves with predictions of the future not the past, not before. Hind-casting is a good FIRST STEP, but far far far from the last one!

  • netdr

    Renewable

    Seriously
    Of what possible use is an incorrect model ?
    .
    I will make a model which predicts 6 ° C cooling by 2100. Would that be useful ? Possibly we could pay people to generate more CO2 on the basis of my model.
    .
    Present models “predict the past” just fine. It is the future they don’t do so well with.
    It is like driving a car looking into the rear view mirror. You are going to crash.
    .
    The AR4 models predicted .3 ° warming between 2000 and today. Didn’t happen did it ?
    .
    The Hansen model predicted 230 % more warming than actually happened. [The attempts Gavin made to minimize the error were pathetic.]

  • sundevil

    polk tsi400:
    Scientist don’t have enough information about the climate to make predictions. We can barely predict next weeks weather let alone what the climate will be like 100 years from now. My problem is climate scientist think that the weather we’ve had for the past couple 100 years is normal, but if you look throughout our planets history, the climate we’ve experienced has been unusually stable..there is no “normal”. We’ve been lucky. “Climate Change” is just another form of control the government is using to control us. Remember in the 70s they thought we were heading into an ice age. In the 90s and early 2000s it was global warming….now they’ve dropped global warming and now it’s climate change…this way whether it gets hot or cold they can say see…..it’s “climate change”..it’s all bull and I think the public is starting to realize this.
    *******************************************
    The saddest thing is that all the so-called solution would have zero effect on anything with the possible exception of making some people think they were doing something. That’s the problem with Leftists in general. “Do the deed” is more important than whether or not the deed is practical or effective and won’t have destructive repercussions.

  • netdr

    Sock Puppet is back.

    Using another person’s name is stupid.

  • netdr

    Sock puppet
    [Phony Warren and phony Netdr]

    Stupid is admitting you know nothing about climate as you have repeatedly and continuing to post using other people’s names.

    It is good for you to confess.

    Anyone with any brain at all can tell which posts are genuine and which are done by sock puppet.

    You only fool yourself, and that is easy.

  • Vangel

    I liked a similar commentary I read a few days ago. The author made the point that the output of most models tended to converge on the result most likely to attract funding.

  • dearieme

    “parallels between climate science and economics”: here’s an antiparallel – Keynes genuinely was a very clever fellow, whereas the first lesson I learnt from reading some climate science was what a bunch of duds the climate hysterics were. They mostly proved to be crooks too, eventually, but above all they were duds.

  • Economics isn’t known as the dismal science for nothing.

  • As an Australian who is being told that wasting money first is the way to go by the current crop of economists (yes admittedly many of them think they will gain from trading) but that is stupid also less money means less money for everyone. I would like a model to predict the demise of these people economists and climate alarmists. So if any of you here are Australian I would encourage you to go to my website and read or skim through my submission to the Clean Energy Legislation (carbon tax) which is apparently being rushed through in about a week. http://www.annoyedaussie.com I wonder what happened to my submission.

  • In my mind, the most significant parallel between climate and economics is that neither have definitions of what is “normal.” The “normal” temperature is not real, but something that has been arbitrarily established, like the average from 1950-1980, or an average over the last 100 years. When the temperatures from the antarctic ice cores are plotted, you get a bipolar distribution with a big peak for ice ages and a smaller one for the interglacial periods. With the stock market 50-day and 200-day moving averages are used. How can you analyze anything if you don’t have a firm basis to start from?

  • Richard A.

    The problem with economic modeling and climate modeling is similar because both try to model complex systems where actual controlled experiments are hard if not impossible to perform. This is so more in economics than in climate, because at least with climate you’re dealing with a physical system which has at its simplest levels constant relations between its various factors. In economics there are no constant relations because the base is subjective valuations. The end result is largely the same though; lacking the ability to get at true cause and effect large scale correlations are found and used as long as they hold some – any really – practical predictive power.

    Then as the ‘science’ develops younger people come in and forget or are merely unaware of the many serious caveats and short comings built into these models. They start falling in love with the graphs and drawing tangents and figuring out the area under the curve as if those things had any meaning in this context. They tweak their models until hindcasting is really good and then get pissed at reality when it fails to conform to their predictions.

    And it’s really marketing at base. All sciences are at the end of the day dry and uninteresting to most people. But slap a colorful graph on something and start making predictions, especially dire ones, and people pay attention. There has always been, since the begining of our species, some small subset of people convinced the world is going to end ‘in a little while’ and that the only way to avoid it is for the rest of us to give them massive amounts of money and power. Interestingly enough in the the past thousands of years these doomsayers have never, never, never , NEVER been right. And they know this, which is why the disaster is always immediate enough to worry about, but also far enough off in the future to allow for tweaks to be made, money to be made, power to be ammassed, and wrong predictions to be fogotten.

    It’s really the oldest con in the history of mankind and ever since these people got hold of a copy of Excel and learned how to graph things it’s been nothing but a headache.

  • You have to wonder why anyone would want to tinker with our industrial-tech society when it has brought such wealth and health to so many people over the last 200 years. What a blessing. And the AGW prophets want to dismantle this not because the Earth might get a little warmer but because they have this irrational fear (not supported by any data or model) that warming will end up in a runaway upwards spiral. As we were reminded in Frank Herbert’s Dune: “Fear is the mind-killer”. And there are plenty of socialistic vultures out there waiting to feast on the corpses of a frightened and deceived populace. Fortunately, with the information revolution, people are not so easily fooled ant they refuse to die so easily. But can you imagine the real suffering we would have on our hands if our civilization was dismantled by these self-hating barbarians?

  • TomT

    The fundamental mistake that keeps being made is that compute modeling cannot prove a theory.

    It can be used to test aspects of a theory and make predictions about how things will behave but proof is only found by collecting real world data and comparing it to your predictions. Funny thing is that anymore those enamored with computer models be they in economics or climate research become focused on their computer models and completely ignore real world data and how it compares to what they predict. And if the real data conflicts with their modeled data then the real data must be wrong in their view.

    Because apparently in the trap they fall into a computer model can substitute for reality and act as proof of a theory when that has never actually worked out.

  • netdr

    To Create a GCM:

    First you understand the climate.

    Second you construct a model encoding your theories.

    Third you make predictions based on your theories.

    Fourth you evaluate your prediction by observations of reality.[if they don’t match go back to step 1]

    If your prediction doesn’t work you may revise your theory but claiming that you have fixed the problem and now your prediction is correct is mentally challenged.

    The funny thing is that the Global Climate Model’s outputs which have been published have predicted far far far more warming than actually happened.

    In my opinion this just proves that those making the model do not understand climate very well at all. “Predicting the past” is ridiculously easy so back casting a model is a good FIRST STEP but nothing more.

    AR4 predictions: .3 ° C warming between 2000 and 2011

    http://www.cgd.ucar.edu/ccr/strandwg/CCSM3_AR4_Experiments.html

    Actual warming was negligible.

    http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs/Fig.C.gif

    BTW: The silliest argument they make is that when they take CO2 out of their models the output doesn’t match reality any more.

    They make the model and tune it to reality by adding aerosols until CO2 and aerosol effects just balance. It is obvious that if CO2 [supposed] effects are removed there will be cooling.

    Who do they think they fool ?

  • Glenn Tamblyn

    netdr.

    To Create a GCM:

    First you take the basic science of physics, thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, radiation heat transfer theory, phase change theory, Boyles Gas Law, Clausius/Claperon eqn, salinity/temperature/density relationships, the dynamics of cloud nucleation, etc.

    Second you construct a model that tracks the fluxes of mass and energy between ‘cells’ in the environment that obeys this physical knopwledge and basic conservation laws – conservation of Energy, Mass, Momentum, Angular Momentum etc, paying particular attention to maintaining the conservation constraints when looking at fluxes between ‘cells’.

    Third you let it run to see what it produces.

    Fourth you evaluate your results and compare them to current and past data. If there is disagreement, beyond the bounds of reasonable error margins, you go back and look at some of the underlying assumption in your equations, loooking for sources of error or inaccuracy.

    Isn’t that how you would do it netdr?

  • netdr

    Phoney Warren: [sock puppet]

    “The funny thing is that the Global Climate Model’s outputs which have been published have predicted far far far more warming than actually happened.”

    False.
    **************
    I proved the models predicted far far far more warming than occurred with appropriate back up links and computations.

    You can say “False” but that is just your unfounded belief.

    Prove that the models were correct if you are able.

    I’ll predict you can’t !

  • netdr

    Greg
    First you take the basic science of physics, thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, radiation heat transfer theory, phase change theory, Boyles Gas Law, Clausius/Claperon eqn, salinity/temperature/density relationships, the dynamics of cloud nucleation, etc.

    Second you construct a model that tracks the fluxes of mass and energy between ‘cells’ in the environment that obeys this physical knopwledge and basic conservation laws – conservation of Energy, Mass, Momentum, Angular Momentum etc, paying particular attention to maintaining the conservation constraints when looking at fluxes between ‘cells’.
    ************
    Good Idea but A model based on “first principles” is beyond climate science as we know it at this time. Possibly 50 years from now it will be done.
    .
    The best they can do is approximate the ideal with parametrization.
    .
    When they get done they add in aerosol effects to null out any warming which was predicted but didn’t happen. They also tweak any other variables until they obtain a best fit with past temperatures.
    .
    When the model is used to predict future temperatures it fails spectacularly as I proved above. Have you seen .3 ° C warming since 2000 ?

  • There is a way around the problems of accuracy and that is to just give predictions that are so vague and do lots of them. Lets say there are 10 models out there and you notice they all give a rapid warming and slow warming. So long as there is warming which is likely based on factors other than CO2 and CH4 some models will be correct. Just read your horoscope tomorrow and there is 90% chance you can make the vague predictions fit your circumstance. So I think that we should get the horoscope people to predict the climate as they will have a simular level of accuracy and are cheaper.

  • Andy

    So fake warren you find a link to an article about Mauna Loa, Hawaii . Well this must represent the whole planet. You really are a deceitful fool . no wonder you pose as someone else.

  • netdr

    Phony Warren Meyer:

    “The best they can do is approximate the ideal with parametrization.”

    False.
    **************
    That is your unfounded belief nothing more.

  • netdr

    Phony Warren Meyer:

    You did notice that your article was dated 2007 and it hes cooled since then while the models predicted it would warm didn’t you ?

    http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:2007/to:2012

    That is why alarmists lose their calenders when evaluating Dr Hansen’s models. They looked pretty good as of 2007 but terrible in 2011.

  • netdr

    Phoney

    Starting the evaluation in 1990 when it was released in 2000 is cheating. The modes were tuned to be close to reality over the period 1990 to 2000. [Do they think the rest of the world is stupid ?]

    Apparently so ! This type of duplicity makes me angry !

  • Warren,

    There is a parallel between Keynes and the CAGW that is close to your heart – feedbacks. Pure Keynesianism is that an increase in government expenditure at less than full employment would have a positive feedback response. Keynes called the feedback measure the multiplier. (The multiplier is the reciprocal of the proportion of Government expenditure to GDP. So if government expenditure was 20% of GDP, then a $1bn fiscal boost would increase output by $5bn.)

    By the 1950’s the leading sceptic was Milton Friedman who, in his 1962 book “Capitalism and Freedom”, estimated empirically that the multiplier was about 1 – that is it did not have any impact. Friedman was denounced as a denier and a dinosaur. (At the same time, mainstream economics adapted his verificationist methodology.) Indeed by the end of the 1960s it was generally agreed that the long-term feedback impact of government demand management was negative, as increased government expenditure crowded out the private sector, caused escalating inflation (as economic actors ceased to be fooled by the false signals 0f increased expenditure), slowed economic growth and generally undermined the very structures of the capitalist system. (see Friedman’s Nobel Prize lecture “Inflation and Unemployment”)

    Keynesian thinking is that the capitalist economic system is inherently unstable. Stability is only achieved through the guiding hand of government. Keynes contrasted this with a caricature of neoclassical economics, with the macroeconomic system would rapidly come back into equilibrium. Similarly, the climate models assumption of chronic instability is contrasted by an extreme caricature of those who disagree with them. That is the “deniers” are saying that the climate is incredibly stable, with human beings having no influence. In both cases the consequence of this caricaturing is to automatically claim any extreme occurrence as vindification of their perspective.

  • Phoney Warren Meyer

    I think it was JM Keynes who said there are “lies, damned lies and then there are statistics”. It does not mean that using statistics is wrong, it just means that they can be used to convey a message that does not exist.

    Folks – take a look at the plot without trend.
    http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/wti/from:2007/to:2011

    You will see that global temperatures are now lower than they were at the beginning of 2007. No serious climate scientist who would claim that a 4 year period constitutes any sort of trend.

  • netdr

    Please refer to the person signing himself as “Warren Meyer” as “Phony Warren” or “Sock Puppet”.

    He is incapable of argument only snide comments.

    OLS [otherwise known as Least Mean Squares ]is a linear regression technique which is much more sophisticated than merely drawing a line between the beginning and the end.
    .
    The technique minimizes the square of the distance from the plot to all points of data.
    .

    This technique is less sensitive to a single cool or warm data point at the first or last year.
    .
    Starting from 1998, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 ending today there is cooling or no measurable warming.
    .
    http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:1998/to:2012/trend/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:1998/to:2012

    http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:2001/to:2012/trend/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:2001/to:2012
    .
    http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:2002/to:2012/trend/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:2002/to:2012
    .
    http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:2005/to:2012/trend/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:2005/to:2012

    .

    There is no doubt that it warmed from 1978 to 1998 [caused by the PDO not CO2] but claiming the warming has continued past then is mentally challenged.

  • ng

    No. Lets look at a real graph, using GIS temperature measurements and five year running averages.

    http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs/

    http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs/Fig.A2.gif

  • netdr

    NG

    You notice that the last 13 years it hasn’t warmed at all even on the graph you showed.

    Here is a you can see it [the lack of warming] more clearly.

    http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs/Fig.C.gif

    If CO2 is such a wonder gas why did it cool from 1940 to 1978 as your graph shows ?

    Why has it failed to warm since 1998 ?

    Negative feedback from clouds ?

    Here is a new peer reviewed paper.

    Clouds Negative feedback Paul Allen 2011

    Consistent with previous results (Ramanathan et al., 1989; Su et al., 2010), the cloud radiative cooling effect through reflection of short wave radiation is found
    to dominate over the long wave heating effect, resulting in a net cooling of the climate system of −21 Wm−2.

    http://www.met.reading.ac.uk/~sgs02rpa/PAPERS/Allan11MA.pdf

    The alarmists will soon be howling for his blood.

    They will claim that he is in ed with big oil and that he is a committed christian who goes to church. Horrors !!

  • netdr

    The myth of net positive feedback is essential to the CAGW bandwagon.

    Without it CO2 only causes .4 ° C of warming for a DOUBLING of CO2. [According to the British Royal Society]

    The alarmists bandwagon has already had it’s wheels come off and this paper if correct will cause it to burn.

    I predict a spirited battle. The alarmists won’t give up without a fight but they will lose.

  • netdr

    Sock puppet

    Here is what another skeptic said about a troll who was too cowardly to use his name or even a consistent “handle”. The troll never has to back up what he says because “he” never says anything.

    He just hits and runs away.

    ” That said, it is an unfortunate truth that people that haven’t the courage to use their own full names when publicly criticizing others (“The other Brian”) spend so much time trying to beat down others while not having to worry about consequences. Unfortunately, that is the reality of the Internet today. The best choice is dealing with such individuals is to take their claims head on, which you’ve done. ”

    I am Netdr on skepticalscience, whatsup, USA today and Ebay. I stand up for what I believe in and even own up when I am clearly proven wrong.

  • Andy

    fake warren says “Ah, the attempts of retards to get science”
    Science is not a “thing that you get” it is a method aimed at defining the truth. A person is not retarded merely because they do not agree with current trends in thinking. A fool will always assume that what they have been taught and believe is truth and everyone else is stupid. I would much rather question self proclaimed experts that do not show a full understanding of their own field than blindly follow them and ridicule those that do not. You probably hate all religions without realizing your own. You … poor fool do not get reality.

  • Truthseeker

    For the best debunking of climate models in a concise comment, by someone who does real stuff with computer models, read this;

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/09/22/ipcc-models-hadcrut-and-cherrymandering/#comment-749815

    For those that would like a demolition of Trenbirth’s “energy budget” and the overall “greenhouse effect” theory, read this;

    http://www.spinonthat.com/CO2_files/The_Diurnal_Bulge_and_the_Fallacies_of_the_Greenhouse_Effect.html

    Remember, I am just the messenger. If you want to argue the science … go to the source. Good luck with that.

  • Hasdrubal

    I think the biggest difference between economic models and climate models is how their output is viewed in their respective academic communities.

    Very prominent economists are quite leery of model output. For example, John Taylor, creator of the Taylor rule that the Fed uses to control inflation: http://johnbtaylorsblog.blogspot.com/

    Or Ed Leamer, who started the discussion back in 1983: https://management.ucsd.edu/faculty/directory/valkanov/classes/mfe/docs/Leamer_1983.pdf

    He followed up just last year with a paper on the futility and misguidedness of depending to heavily on statistical models in economic research: http://www.anderson.ucla.edu/faculty/edward.leamer/selected_research/Tantalus%2520by%2520Leamer.pdf

    Indeed, there was a symposium on the state of econometrics and economic models in that issue of the Journal of Economic Perspectives: http://www.aeaweb.org/issue.php?journal=JEP&volume=24&issue=2

    Is there any of this type of conversation going on in the climate science academia?