Men Model Climate, God Laughs

by James C. Sherlock

This is an ode to modeling and the inevitable contretemps in the comment section that followed Steve Haner’s article yesterday.

1.Time Magazine, April 8,1977. Two great modeling stories:

  • “Why we can’t beat the Soviets;” and
  • “How to Survive the Coming Ice Age”.

Perhaps we did all 51.

2. Cover of Science News March 1. 1975 

  • ”Our Ice Age Cometh.”

Science news?

3. Climate Scientist Bill McGuire. Ever wonder about those ice floes in the Delaware when Washington crossed it?

“What turns ice ages on and off? ‘The Ice Age cometh’ considers the potential impact global warming may have on the arrival of the next expected Ice Age. Will global warming fend it off or will it accelerate the onset of the next big freeze? Conditions on Earth during the great freezes of the Cryogenian and the most recent Quaternary ice ages are described and what triggers them considered, including the Croll–Milankovitch astronomical theory.

The Little Ice Age (c.AD 1450–1850) and the Medieval Warm Period (c.AD 1000–1300) are discussed along with the role ocean circulation (especially the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation) has to play.”

McGuire also wrote in 2002

“The big problem with predicting the end of the world is that, if proved right, there can be no basking in glory. This has not, though, dissuaded armies of Cassandras from predicting the demise of our planet or the human race, only to expire themselves without the opportunity to proclaim ‘I told you so’.

Bottom line: Measuring what is and has been in climate change has proven a lot more accurate and less embarrassing than modeling what will be.

As for the Soviets ….