It might be easier to work up a proper sense of dread at a scary new “climate change model” if the group doing the scaring didn’t use a roulette wheel for illustration. And “The Greenhouse Gamble” graphics only make the Washington Post’s one-sided report on the model more laughable.
On the Feb. 23 “Capital Weather Gang” Web site, the Post’s Andrew Freedman reported that MIT's Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change revised its predictions about just how hot the Earth will become in this century. Not surprisingly, the MIT group said that if governments don’t institute drastic, economy-killing policies to reduce man-made greenhouse emissions, the global temperature could end up hotter than previously thought.
As Freedman explained it, The MIT Integrated Global System Model, “showed significantly increased odds that by the end of the century warming would be on the high end of the scale for a so-called ‘no policy scenario.’” Essentially, there is a one in 11 chance that by the end of the century, the average temperature will have risen by about 12.6 degrees. On the other hand, the odds are one in 100 that warming would be limited to below 5.4 degrees.
If that sounds more like a vague, well-hedged guess than useful scientific judgment, it is. “The modeling experiments are not meant to provide precise forecasts of future temperature changes,” Freedman wrote, “but rather to serve as what one related MIT study calls ‘thought experiments’ to help policymakers and the public understand how decisions regarding emissions reductions may affect the magnitude of climate change.”
Freedman then said of these imprecise thought experiments that, “They show how human activities are loading the dice in favor of a warming climate.” He didn’t mention that many experts are skeptical of climate models, including hurricane forecaster William Gray, who has said “There’s 100 things wrong with these damn models.” Nor did he mention the tens of thousands of scientists who dispute any link between human activity and climate change.
But best of all, Freedman and the MIT Joint Program apparently don’t see the irony in using the gambling metaphor. Relying on dubious and unproven science to justify drastic infringements on human liberty is the real crapshoot.