Failed Serial Doomcasting | Watts Up With That?


People sometimes ask me why I don’t believe the endless climate/energy use predictions of impending doom and gloom for the year 2050 or 2100. The reason is, neither the climate models nor the energy use models are worth a bucket of warm spit for such predictions. Folks concentrate a lot on the obvious problems with the climate models. But the energy models are just as bad, and the climate models totally depend on the energy models for estimating future emissions. However, consider the following US Energy Information Agency (EIA) predictions of energy use from 2010, quoted from here (emphasis mine):

In 2010, the U.S. Energy Information Administration projected that in 2019, the U.S. would be producing about 6 million barrels of oil a day. The reality? We’re now producing 12 million barrels of oil a day.

Meanwhile, EIA projected oil prices would be more than $100 a barrel. They’re currently hovering around $60 a barrel.

EIA had projected in 2010 that the U.S. would be importing a net eight million barrels of petroleum by now, which includes crude oil and petroleum products like gasoline. In September, the U.S. actually exported a net 89 thousand barrels of petroleum.

In 2010, EIA projected that the U.S. would be producing about 20 trillion cubic feet of natural gas by now. In 2018, the last full year of annual data, we produced more than 30 trillion.

The EIA had projected that coal electricity would remain dominant in the U.S. and natural gas would remain relatively stable — even drop slightly in its share of power supply. The opposite is happening. Coal-fired power is plummeting and natural gas has risen significantly.

Now remember, we are assured that these energy projections are being made by Really Smart People™, the same kind of folks making the climate predictions … and they can’t predict a mere ten years ahead? Forget about predicting a century from now, they are wildly wrong in just one decade. The EIA projections above missed the mark by 100% or more and sometimes didn’t even get the sign of the result correct … but as St. Greta the Shrill misses no opportunity to remind us, we’re supposed to totally restructure our entire global economy based on those same shonky predictions.

But I digress … Dr. Roger Pielke Jr. recently posed an interesting question—how can we fix what he called “apocalyptic” projections of future climate?

My response was:

My fix would be for all climate scientists to stop vainly trying to predict the future and focus on the past.

Until we understand past phenomena such as the Little Ice Age, the Medieval Warm Period, etc. to the point where we can tell why they started and stopped when they did and not earlier or later, pretending to understand the future is a joke.

For example, the Milankovich astronomical cycles that have correlated well with episodes of glaciation in the past say we should be in a full-blown “Ice Age” today. These cycles change the amount of sunlight in the northern hemisphere. And when the world went into the Little Ice Age (LIA) around the year 1600, there was every indication that we were headed in that direction, towards endless cold. The same fears were raised in the 1970s when the earth had been cooling for thirty years or so.

Gosh … another failed climate prediction. Shocking, I know …

Regarding why the Milankovich cycles indicated an ice age, here are Greenland temperature and solar changes in the Northern Hemisphere for the past 12,000 years or so.

But instead of the Little Ice Age preceding us plunging into sub-zero temperatures and mile-thick ice covering Chicago, the earth started to warm again towards the end of the 1700s … why?

Well, the ugly truth is, we are far from understanding the climate well enough to answer why it was warmer in Medieval times; why we went from that warmth into the LIA in the first place; why the LIA lasted as long as it did; why it didn’t continue into global glaciation; or why we’ve seen gradual slight warming, on the order of half a degree per century, from then to the present day.

And until scientists can answer those and many similar questions about the past, why on earth should we believe their climate/energy predictions for a century or even a decade from now?

The only thing that seems clear about all of those questions is that the answer is not “CO2”. Here’s another look at Greenland, this time with CO2 overlaid on the temperature:

My Dad used to say “Son, if something seems too good to be true … it probably is”. I never realized until today that there was a climate corollary to that, which is “Son, if something seems too bad to be true … it probably isn’t”.

So my advice is to take all such predictions of impending Thermageddon, drowned cities, endless droughts, and other horribly bad outcomes by 2100, 2050, or even 2030, with a grain of salt. Here’s what I’d consider to be the appropriate size of salt grain for the purpose …

My best to everyone,



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