The Club of Rome was a group of MIT, Harvard and other professors, industry experts etc who crafted a computer model of the world and predicted the outcome up to 2100 for things like pollution, population, industrial production, food production, etc… The Club of Rome was a 70s thing. The IPCC is a UN Committee which has overseen the creation of computer models by 23 organizations worldwide that seek to compute the state of the world’s ecology, population, pollution, food production, industrial production as well as CO2 output, Temperature of the Earth and other environmental conditions.
I will show that both models both were constructed by smart people, used computer modeling and both are showing the extreme difficulty of predicting especially with computer models.
Club of Rome
A typical output of the Club of Rome computer models showed the following:
I added a line where 2020 is located. As you can see from the “standard model run” the world’s food per capita and industrial production should have been declining for 20 years by 2016. Here is the actual industrial output for the last 60+ years. There was no steep dropoff 20 years ago.
Here is real data for the last 70 years for agricultural productivity: Again, no dropoff.
This graph is amazing because it shows that in spite of the large population increases our per capita food production has climbed nearly 50% (on top of the population gain in the period which is 220%) which means that overall food production has tripled. Not only that but it is remarkably consistent and linear. This has led to the number of starving in the world dropping from more than 600 million in 1980 to 100 million today.
Our resources should be at about 1/10th the level of 1970s and we should already be seeing total population about to hit a wall with people starving to death by the billions.
By 2020 the world should have been on an inescapable path to the dark ages and by 2100 our population should be back to about 1970s level population with 3-5 billion are on course to die by then. This nightmare scenario has not transpired.
Well, that didn’t happen!
The Club of Romes computer models were wrong. Really wrong. Wrong about food production, population, productivity, pollution and resources, virtually everything they tried to predict. Not only is food per capita at an all time high with fewer starving people than ever (approx 100M people or 1/6th the level of 1970s,) Industrial production is massively increased and higher than ever. Also, natural resources seem to be discovered at about the rate they are needed meaning that total known reserves remaining of virtually everything they looked at in the 1970s are about as high today as they were then or higher.
How could they have been so wrong?
The Club of Rome did anticipate that things could change so they came up with models that tried to forecast how humans would adapt and change things with technology. So, here are some other runs. This one they assumed infinite resources but seems to sum up what we see which is that we seem to find resources at about the rate we use them.
In this run population is already on a decline again by 2020 but now it is not just lack of food but pollution has killed us. The pollution level by 2020 is so bad that the population is already dying off and industrial production is near collapse. We did start cleaning up the environment in the 70s due to the clean air act passed by Richard Nixon. However, the effectiveness of our pollution control and cleanup measures was unanticipated by the Club of Rome apparently. Here are some random statistics of pollution measures.
Once again we are confronted with how badly the sophisticated computer models built by professors with extensive knowledge of their subjects did.
We are making remarkable progress in spite of exponential growth of the economy and people in the world. Of course if the third world nations now rapidly expanding don’t adopt the same measures that the first world did in cleaning itself up the result may look more like the Club of Rome delayed but it is obvious to me that there is no reason to believe we are predestined to a polluted world since it is apparent the skills to do this are available. If we fail to do it then it is a failure of human politics not some model prediction from a computer that says it must happen..
CO2 a pollutant?
If you count CO2 as a pollutant then yes we are experiencing massive pollution. However, CO2 doesn’t kill people directly, in fact CO2 is a food source that has led to probably one of the reasons the food production line in the above graph on food production is so far off the reality. It is estimated increase in CO2 has added 20-30% to plant productivity worldwide over the last 70 years. This is an example how unintended consequences can greatly affect predictions in the positive direction. Nobody realized or talked about after 1945 that we were embarking on a program to massively increase productivity of plants by pumping vast amounts of fertilizer into the air. The Club of Rome did talk a little about CO2 but they didn’t see at the time any consequence at the time like the computer models of today forecast.
CO2 doesn’t cause cancer directly as other pollutants do. The theory is that CO2 kills us in the future by heating the planet which then kills us for other reasons yet to be seen. Whether you put CO2 in the pollution line above or not the pollution in the chart above doesn’t change the extreme wrongness of the Club of Rome’s conclusions. They attributed pollution would be so bad today that there is a direct consequence on people resulting in a drastic fall off in population and industrial productivity.
That didn’t happen either
The Club of Rome had numerous scenarios to account for all kinds of creative arguments against their computer models. For instance, here is a graph of model runs assuming unlimited resources, pollution controls highly effective reducing pollution to 1/4 the uncontrolled pollution. They didn’t seem to anticipate modern pollution controls which effectively have reduced pollution by 99% of previous levels in some instances. They didn’t anticipate we would clean up rivers and lakes previously polluted by the 70s so that actual absolute pollution levels (disregarding CO2) are down from 1970s (at least in the first world.)
This graph shows that the Club of Rome scientists thought that in spite of unlimited resources, tremendous improvements in pollution control that food productivity would fall off right about now leading to mass starvation and population declines later in this century. This prediction is clearly way off the mark. Food productivity continues to climb and is no sight of declining.
The IPCC also predicts a food calamity is a primary cause of death in the future
The chart already displayed above clearly shows that food production is not on the edge of a precipice. The IPCC seems to have not learned the lesson of the Club of Rome’s failure. The IPCC models do not show a drop in food productivity till 2080 when heat from another 1.5C (according to their prediction) around the world starts to suffocate plants in spite of increased productivity from genetics, increased productivity from CO2, increased arable land from warming planet, increased growing season from hotter planet, increased productivity from who knows what else. They predict in 2080 we will see the productivity number drop off sharply.
IPCC Estimate of Food Agricultural Productivity changes in 2080.
This graph shows that while Canada and some other regions will see up to a 35% increase in food productivity wide swaths of the Earth will see 15 to 50% reductions in productivity and overall most of the Earth will show decreasing productivity by then in spite of these handy guys should be widely available by then to help too.
There is hardly any reason to worry about food production for anytime in the future. Why? Consider these powerful forces driving our food productivity:
- Increased CO2 up to 1400PPM has been shown to constantly increase many food and plant size and productivity. CO2 decreases the need for water for plants as well.
- Genetics – only limited by our willingness to do it
- Extreme cheapness (Agriculture is 2% of GDP in first world countries.) Food is so cheap we waste half of it. If we wanted small increase in expenditures would increase it
- Methods to preserve freshness of food are readily available if we choose
- Increasing heat will result in longer growing seasons and multiple growing seasons.
- Increasing heat will result in more arable land becoming available as half the Earth is iceball
- Declining population growth and possibly even negative population growth later in this century
- Near zero levels of starvation indicate we may be soon overproducing and have to cut back production
- Other technological changes in agricultural processes including IoT which allows us to monitor soil, plant health down to the individual plant almost and to provide robotic care and harvesting allowing even higher productivity
- Other changes in technological processes for improving plant productivity that have been used already and will continue to be used
- Increasing wealth of poorer countries allowing them to put more resources into food production if necessary
- Unexpected improvements from general technology improvements in other aspects such as production techniques for nutrients, ability to manage pests better
The future for food is so bright it is unimaginable that we would get into a starvation scenario. Any one of these things above could account for more change than anything the IPCC has cooked up yet they insist that by 2080 food productivity declines will cause mass death. This is one area the IPCC spent considerable time and effort to prepare. Yet they still come up with insane completely unbelievable prediction just as the Club of Rome did.
At least the Club of Rome was not aware of the great technical advances we would make in agriculture over the following 50 years. While this is a flaw in all prediction to some extent by now the IPCC should factor in obvious things like the list of 12 above. They seem to purposely want to create food shortage possibly because that is one of the only ways to get any “negative effect” from CO2.
One of the things the IPCC assumed was that humans would not adjust to the above dropoff in productivity in some regions and grow more food in other regions. This assumes a level of stupidity of humans that is really not about climate. If humans know that some regions are more productive and they don’t take advantage of that then it is not global warming killing people. It is humans making bad decisions. It is a political mistake or a stupidity of a different kind. It is not because of global warming that people will starve. It will be because they claim we are too stupid to take advantage of something we know today how to solve the problem.
If this is the quality of the best IPCC studies on consequences you can imagine how stupid many of the consequences they predict are and how unlikely graphs in 2080 are going to show that we are progressing anything like they predict.
Population is always a big issue
The population growth is slowing down. Not as fast as some people would like but it is declining.
This prediction shows a possible peak population reached in 2040, 2080 or continuing up to 15 billion by 2100. None of the graphs I’ve shown you above from the Club of Rome look like this population curve. Nonetheless, the last one above shows the inflection happening around the same time but for totally different reasons. The UN predicts population will level out due to naturally voluntary declining fertility whereas the Club of Rome predicts population will stop growing due to mass starvation, pollution and disease. The Club of Rome is wrong. The IPCC is just as negative but simply delays the results from 2000 to 2080. Again this is a repeat of the Club of Romes mistakes.
The Club of Rome did have some stable predictions
I present these almost as comical given the failures of the above model it is hard to take seriously anything coming from these guys but for humor sake let’s look at what they think we should have done and what the result should have been.
In the scenario above the world must institute in 1975 immediate severe population control, severe growth limitations, pollution control measures and forced redistribution of wealth. Such a policy results in stable world for the foreseeable future.
They had another graph which they showed what would happen if we delayed these necessary steps until the year 2000 to implement.
Basically they predicted that if society waited till 2000 to implement their “socialist communist paradise” the result would be lower stable rate. So we had to act fast. Sound familiar? They felt was the only possible way we could escape the doom of the year 2000 was to institute massive socialism immediately.
Well none of that happened and nothing seems to have followed this prediction. In fact the world did the exact opposite of what the Club of Rome suggested. The only places in the world the Club of Rome’s predictions almost came true were the socialist communist societies that they advocated we all become!
Instead of taking the Club of Rome’s advice the world instituted more capitalism. Many of the redistributionist countries lessened their grip. China may have been facing the Club of Rome scenario and instead of being the beneficiary for instituting the Club’s policies as I mentioned above they may have seen the end of the road and they completely changed tack and became incredibly capitalist to save themselves.
However, people did better all over the world with a rapacious capitalism. There is less poverty than in 1975, less pollution (certainly in developed world), more productivity, more food, more resources. I realize this may be jarring to those who believe the society we’ve built over the last 50 years is producing more inequality and many other problems.
Yet compared to where China was or the United States 50 years ago there is no possible conclusion other than we (all humanity) are way way better off for having taken the route we did and this includes the poor who have benefited enormously from these policies.
This is not a political statement but a sheer statement of fact. Billions have been lifted from poverty and the resources have grown enormously to solve our problems. Possibly this is not the course the world wants to continue going forward but I am simply giving you the historical facts. What the Club of Rome predicted and what they suggested all were horribly horribly wrong and would have led to massively worse off world. I don’t believe anyone of any political persuasion could argue otherwise.
How could they be so wrong?
These were smart professors. They used computer models. They backtested the computer models to show they worked all the way back to 1900 like the IPCC models. They have complex interrelationships between factors. They are professors. Did I mention that?
I have an article on “Why prediction is hard.” You may find interesting.
I don’t want to point fingers but it occurs to me that it is possible that the Club of Rome professors had an agenda to produce a result and that the computer models were simply a tool they used to convince people by using science that they were on to something called “truth” that you had to believe because it was science, it was computers, it was smart people.
Maybe not, maybe they really believed their computer models. In any case they were wrong. It is not easy to predict the future. Any predictions should be met with stone disbelief. Until we see “in your face” evidence we shouldn’t take such predictions as “proof” of anything even if they backtest, even if they are smart professors or people with science in their names, even if they use computers.
IPCC Model predictions
The IPCC has numerous models done by independent groups. They try to predict things related to the weather in the future but they also have numerous studies which have been done to assess the impact of those weather predictions. This is all very complicated because the predictions depend on many assumptions as do the Club of Rome models.
- What are the actual CO2 levels achieved and other forces that affect these predictions like volcanoes, sun irradiance levels which are hard to predict?
- What is the level of accuracy of our initial conditions?
- What are the feedbacks from those forces and do we really understand the relationships?
- What other things do we do like mining oil, water, gases that affect subsidence?
- What things don’t we know that might be happening? The probability?
- How accurate are all the feedbacks and their impacts?
- What is the computational error in computing our future?
- How good is the prediction of temperature vs what is really happening or will happen?
- What are the number of people, the growth of our technology and income?
- What are the real consequences in the future from these things?
- What are the ways the effects can be mitigated both now and in the future?
- What about outlier events and their probability?
This is a complicated business trying to predict the future and as we have seen with the Club of Rome even smart people have failed miserably. The inputs to our models are predictions which have their own problems. Even if our models are perfect representations of the physical world any inaccuracy in the initial conditions is magnified by the computations of the models themselves.
Predicting the future depends on understanding not just the trends but what impacts the trends and on unknowable things like changing technology.
So, one trend rarely mentioned by the IPCC is the constant reduction in solar energy cost. In Saudi Arabia recently solar power was produced at 3 cents/KWH which is about the price for coal production. The cost of solar is falling rapidly and consistently unlike other energy costs which fluctuate a lot. It is inevitable in 10 or 20 years a huge amount of energy will be produced by solar sources. Regardless of IPCC forcing countries to do their bidding we will convert to solar because it will be cheaper. The IPCC computer models all depend on the CO2 level. They assume CO2 levels may triple from todays level of 410ppm to 1200ppm. Some predict less.
We can see that CO2 is climbing but consider what the IPCC is projecting. They are saying that we will get to 1200+ PPM which requires adding 800ppm from today. That means 100ppm / decade or 10ppm per year. We are adding closer to 1ppm/year according to the current graph. Even if that rate accelerates getting to 1200ppm is ludicrous. We might hit 600ppm but not 1200. What is the point of having such a ludicrous prediction in their ensemble except so they can show graphs with scary results?
In any case the amount of global warming we are actually getting is more consistent with the graph for ZERO emissions of CO2 than for any of the other emissions scenarios. This is because the models exaggerate the impact of Co2 so much that it is virtually as if we are emitting zero CO2 in terms of the actual temperature change we have seen. We aren’t emitting zero Co2. Therefore another proof the models grossly overestimate the impact of CO2.
We must consider that in the next 80 years numerous technologies will change. The chances we are burning oil, gas and coal in such quantities 84 years from now seems ludicrous and requires our technology to come to a halt. We already know it is likely solar power will become a major factor in 10 or 20 years simply because of almost predictable cost reductions. The fact the IPCC assumes that in 2100 we have not advanced our energy production is clearly a form of deception. They try to appear reasonable except they actually ignore all the reasonable assumptions people will do. This is a classic deception technique. It is not science.
If the CO2 levels don’t reach the levels the IPCC needs to get their models to predict high temperatures then the temperatures can’t happen even if the models are correct.
The IPCC Computer Models
There are some things to understand about these models.
- The models are re-initialized every year with real observed data from the environment. Of course they can’t do that after the current year and beyond. Thus, the computer models are not run on the past for more than 1 year at a time, before real data is inserted to fix the results from the previous year. Yet they apparently expect to predict 80 years into the future without re-initialization when they don’t believe the results after one year in the past without re-initiailization. That’s a bizarre assumption and quite deceptive.
- The different models are initialized with different values to produce many curves, sometimes 500 or more curves. This is then used to produce a “consensus.” There is no mathematical basis for doing this or that the result is indicative of anything except to show the sensitivity of the models to inputs which is large. In any case large dampening is used in the models which is unphysical in order so that the models don’t show ridiculous results.
- Even with this initialization the models consensus number is 0.7C off from current temperatures as measured by satellites or weather balloons. Considering the entire movement of the temperature from 1945-2015 is 0.4C, being off by 0.7C is 175% off from the predicted value.
- In science, when something is this far off we calculate that the model has a 5% or less chance of being correct.
- The models basic physics is NOT proven science but theories yet to be demonstrated. Any one wrong component could skew the models horribly off.
- The models are computationally invalid in that the data after computational propogation error is accounted for suggest the results are meaningless.
The models predict a lot more than the temperature. For instance they predict the weather in every region of the world including precipitation, storms, droughts, etc. All the model scientists agree the models are much poorer at those predictions than the temperature which are terrible thus the conundrum for policy makers is that they look to the computer models to make predictions to estimate problems in the world but the models don’t predict anything with any accuracy except temperature and only after re-initializing every year and fudging the temperature record. Wow.
Model Schmodels don’t we know temperature is going to go up crazy?
Hansen in 1980s showed what he believed would be the temperature graph for the next century;
This is the real crux of the matter. Hansen and other climate scientists believe that the CO2 we have put into the atmosphere should cause about the same temperature rise that amount of Co2 they believe caused during the ice ages, so their theory is tightly tied to what they believe is the basis for the ice age temperature variation. That is the basis of their fear and constant dread.
The problem like the Club of Rome professors is that fear and unproven assertions don’t make a good basis for prediction or policies.
We don’t know what caused the ice age variations in temperature. Their assumption that CO2 is 90% of the cause is hardly proven. Therefore their entire case of high temperature change because of CO2 rests on an unproven assertion that CO2 caused the ice ages. If CO2 is only a bit player in the ice ages then well, their theory is shot in the heart.
Part of the Climate Scientists problem is that when has a hammer one sees all problems as needing a hammer. We only have a very limited amount of information about the ice ages. One of them is CO2. Because we can see a relationship between co2 and temperature we assume that it is causal. There is some reason to believe there is some causal relationship but even if there wasn’t they would fabricate it. In any case a classic error in all science that has been made time and time again is associational. The fact that CO2 went up is not proof that it was the cause. Of course they believed they had proved much more than this but the fact is that this is not proven and it is undoubtedly the cause of this failure or the basis for the deception.
The fact that temperatures have only risen 0.4C since 1945 by satellite measure when we have added 100ppm of CO2 into the atmosphere dispels any notion that CO2 has a dramatic effect on temperature. For the last 20 years temperatures went sideways even though we poured 57% of all the CO2 we ever poured into the atmosphere. Whatever the effect of CO2 it isn’t so compelling as the graph above would suggest.
The graph of Hansen heritage above is based on adding 100ppm in the ice ages. It is assumed that this caused the 8C change in temperature in the ice ages, therefore we should get 8C change simply from the 100ppm we have ALREADY put into the atmosphere since 1945. According to his theory we should be seeing multiple degrees C increase in temperature. There should be no 20 year sideways movements possible. The Earth is under a massive heat assault from feedback’s that drove the ice ages. We should be seeing massive increases that are unremitting. That is precisely what they predict:
They predict an unrelenting increase. They are probably feeling good about things this year because it was an El Nino year and temperatures did go up. However, that is because of El Nino not global warming and CO2. Every El Nino gets higher temps like this. So, they can’t claim this higher temp this year is because of CO2. They might argue that temperatures overall continue to rise but the problem is MUCH MUCH slower than they predicted, literally 1/10th of what they predicted originally. If the CO2 is lower than they predict and the temperature change is smaller than they predict it means a lot is wrong with their conclusions.
CO2 has to produce energy and heat. This is nearly indisputable. Much of the theory of global warming rests on this. However, 90% of global warming is the combination of assuming CO2 is going to rise massively and that the ice ages were caused by CO2 triggering massive feedbacks that created 90% of the effect from CO2. So, if these feedback’s aren’t right then the ice ages weren’t caused by CO2 alone. It also means that we aren’t going to get 2 or 3 or 4 or 6 or 8 degrees. We’re likely to get another 0.3C between now and 2100 not 3C. The question that is unanswered is where did the heat from the 57% of CO2 go? It had to go somewhere. They didn’t predict this. This is damning itself. How can such a massive “error happen” and if it is natural what exactly did happen? What have they learned? Zero. They claim magic. They claim that somehow using a mechanism they didn’t predict which they still don’t understand 57% of all the heat from the CO2 ever created by man went into the oceans in the last 20 years. They have no explanation how it got there, if it will stop going there, when it will come back if ever.
Even more troubling is that they refuse to admit this gross mistake and problem. They refuse to admit it is a problem they didn’t know about this. They keep adjusting the thermostat readings and trying to make the problem go away by reanalyzing the data and trying to find ways to creatively adjust the past to make things work. In doing this they have tried to erase the mideivel warming period, the little ice age, the 1930s 40s dust bowls, the northern passage in the past, the record of arctic temperatures which shows the arctic warmer in 1940 than today and to eliminate the 1945-1975 cool-down which caused a panic that we were entering another ice-age.
They are literally trying to rewrite history and hope no-one notices.
As I’ve pointed out part of the IPCC scare strategy is to use the temperatures created by the computer models which are unproven at best and wrong to predict temperatures which then drive predictions of follow on effects that cause death and problems.
As we saw with the Club of Rome and the food issue that sometimes we can easily mitigate the proposed consequences trivially. Such was the case with heat deaths. In 2000 there was 15,000 people died from heat in France. 3 years later a worse heat wave resulted in 10 people’s deaths. Simply having people hydrate, get some fans and find cooler places cut the death rate by 99.9% with zero cost effectively.
They predict a food shortage will kill lots of people in 2080. However, I’ve shown that today less than 2% of first world countries expenditures are devoted to food production. A simple application of more resources would solve this. New technology would solve this. I showed that we don’t even need any of that. Simply by moving food production to more productive areas will result in mitigation. The prediction of millions dying from lack of food is absurd.
The biggest effects the IPCC predicts besides the above are Islands sinking and sea level rise as well as extinction of creatures. The IPCC rarely mentions that virtually no islands actually show any sinking. A recent article came out that showed what appears to be the disappearance of 5 islands photographically. The islands were more like sand dunes and had nobody living on them. We have no real understanding why the islands disappeared. Other islands are showing some loss of land but it isn’t reported that the majority of islands are showing GROWING land. Due to a number of reasons islands do grow. Apparently whatever sea level rise is happening is more than compensated on many islands by other natural processes that are increasing their land mass.
Again, the big question is the veracity of the IPCC predictions. Tide guage measurements around the world do NOT show the rises the IPCC says are happening. Examination of actual tide guages in real world cities shows in many cases zero rise over 100 years or movements of a couple inches in 150 years. There does not appear to be any acceleration. The IPCC admits there is no acceleration evident. Yet everyone runs around as if sea levels will be 6 feet taller in 30 years when we haven’t gotten 6 inches in 100 years in almost anyplace in the world.
The predictions aren’t looking good and there appears to be bias. The models and the predictions of doom are sided strongly to the side of predicting the worst assuming nothing changes in human technology and in many cases overtly avoiding mention of trivial opposite effects at work or simple mitigations that would cost virtually nothing.
We can already see the IPCC computer models are heading exactly where the Club of Rome Computer models went
The models are diverging from reality significantly now. The IPCC and the climate science community has been fighting back.
As you can see in the above graph the IPCC / GISS / Climate community has been working very hard to create a climate dataset that shows higher and higher temperatures where they didn’t before. You can see how NASA and Hansen have worked to modify the temperature record to adjust the temperatures upward from what they said just 10 years earlier. This is because the temperatures as recorded by thermostats, satellites, ocean probes and weather balloons are not cooperating with their theory. They keep looking for any excuse to push up the temperature record to make the models look almost viable. If you pull these adjustments out the models are incredibly far from where current temperatures are.
What is a temperature?
I have a whole article on this because this is such a big part of the problem.
Is a temperature the sum of the highest and lowest temps in the day or an average of every temperature reading all through the day? Is it important if temperatures vary at night or during lows more or during highs more? Is it important if temperatures over the ocean a meter in height where no living thing lives or cares is? How do you estimate the temperature for a region of 1000 square miles is when you only have one thermometer? Is it important if it is a humid heat or dry heat? Is it important if a season is warmer or cooler?
The definition of temperature under many different definitions will vary dramatically. For instance the average of the high and low can be 0.6C off from the true average depending on the position on the globe you are. Ocean temperatures vary far less than land temperatures. What’s the significance of that and how do you account for it? What about temperatures thousands of feet in the air? Does that make any difference?
You can play with these temperature numbers an awful lot and get many different results however, if temperatures were truly going up a lot this would be unnecessary debate. I’ve said this many times: If we had gotten the 0.5C the models predicted for the last 20 years nobody would be debating this. We wouldn’t be arguing about whether an adjustment of 0.01C is important or not, we wouldn’t be arguing if you look at this temperature or not. It would be obvious it was huge and big problem.
If we had gotten the 0.5C the models predicted we could be certain CO2 was doing something significant. We could be much more sure the change by 2100 would be a lot more. We would not be having debates about who is being scientific or who is a “denier.” We didn’t get that 0.5C which means everything because as in the case of Club of Rome it means the models are grossly in error and therefore all their predictions, all the consequences and all the steps they think we should take are likely wrong.
It is apparent that the Club of Rome had severe problems with their models. Even when they tried to compensate for the problems they foresaw they were not able to see the things which humanity and the environment was capable. They did not foresee that CO2 actually improved productivity of plants. They did not foresee all the technological changes possible including how drastic we were able to improve our pollution control and cleanup. They did not forecast that people would voluntarily reduce population growth or that resources would be found nearly as fast or faster than they were used.
Malthus many years earlier concluded we would run out of food many years ago. He used an exponential element drive everything in his analysis. Ultimately this is what got the Club of Rome as well. They obviously believed (and their computer models reflect that belief) that the combination of resources, population, pollution, industrialization have some natural terminus in total carrying capacity. One of those factors will become out of control sooner or later and devastate the rest. While this is eminently sensible the world apparently is not because at least for the current period the overall carrying capacity has been increased dramatically. Some of that is simply they didn’t know what the world had or would help us with and some has to do with human ingenuity.
The IPCC faces many similar problems. They similarly make a seemingly irrefutable point. CO2 increases temperature so at some point that must hurt things. Sea level is going up and increasing heat must make that worse. The devil is in the details. Is this a trivial point that people 300 years ago need to worry about or never?
One of the big problems with using CO2 as the primary exponential driver of badness is that CO2 naturally purges from the atmosphere. Whenever our use of CO2 declines the levels in the atmosphere will decline and will eventually drop back to much lower levels. The hill the IPCC must climb is to prove that the level of CO2 reached and the consequences of that CO2 are so great at some point ahead that we need to do something now because if the consequences are too far off by then our use of CO2 will have declined anyway and CO2 will be declining.
This requires they have serious consequences this century. The fact is the rates are not matching the predictions. Some strong believers will say that we are in a temporary slow period, that the rate will accelerate in sea level rise, temperatures, etc… I believe they need that to happen immediately if not sooner. If the acceleration doesn’t kick in soon there is no way to get the consequences they are predicting later in the century.
Much of the extremist community around the global warming models wants to get away from this conundrum. They want to argue for tipping points. These are magical points where disastrous things will happen. They want to argue that a computer model can’t predict those because we don’t know if they will happen. No tipping points are proven in the climate yet. They may exist. But for me this is no better than any other disaster prediction that is not based on science. Any number of bad things might happen. The chances of picking the one that will is infinitely remote and it is hard as a society to invest much money or time in a theory that is unproven. They must be patient and collect the data and provide the science to back tipping points of any type, environmental or cosmic or society or whatever.
Humanity has shown exponential growth in our technology for the last 100 years. I separate human history before 1900 and after. Many of these computer models may apply before 1900. Humanity was dumb and had no idea how to change its future. Today with the pace of progress it is hard to imagine that any problem is insurmountable. We can see and manipulate the very fabric of our being, DNA and we are manipulating atoms on surfaces to create quantum computers. We are sending buoys to 3000 feet depth and now to 15,000 foot depth to measure and explore. We are talking about colonizing planets. Seriously we are worrying about 1 degree C in 80 years? The Netherlands has dikes which can withstand storms of 20 or 30 feet in height and have preserved over half their country underwater. There is an industry lifting houses. We are an ingenious species and these computer models are the epitome of lack of ingeniousness. They make ridiculous assumptions and don’t modify them. They assume gross stupidity and the simplest of mitigation are beyond us when we routinely do amazing things.
Predicting the future is not a matter of computer but is still in the creative domain. It requires perception and thinking about concepts, probable consequences that a computer cannot imagine.