In her recent letter to the editor in the Los Alamos Reporter, Ms. Luchini (https://losalamosreporter.com/2023/05/09/we-cannot-tolerate-the-danger-of-climate-denial/) criticizes a letter by Stephen McLin (https://losalamosreporter.com/2023/04/29/modern-climate-science-is-junk-science/) for questioning the accuracy of climate models in ICPP reports and implies that Mr. McLin is a “Climate Denier”. Actually, a careful reading of McLin’s letter doesn’t support this charge; nowhere does Mr. McLin claim that global climate change isn’t occurring. He does criticize the modeling and the lack of accurate cost estimates for some of the proposals to mitigate climate change. It is unfortunate that the important issue of global climate change has become, not only politically divisive, but also so emotional. If we reflect for a moment on where we the public get essentially all our climate change information and opinions about it, it’s clear that we are at the mercy of the mainstream media and various websites on the internet. Why is this a problem? It’s because the content of “NEWS” is heavily influenced by the requirement that it be entertaining – it must be interesting enough to generate viewers and ‘clicks’. A scary article generates far more interest than one attempting to explain uncertainty; that’s the spin that the news market exerts.
So, where can we find an objective assessment of the state of climate modeling? There are some very good blogs but they are mostly geared toward the climate scientists and are quite technical. There is however an excellent book available, published in 2021. The author is a respected scientist who, though an outsider to the climate science community, is both capable and informed on the subject, Dr. Steven E. Koonin. Prof. Koonin is familiar to many in the LANL scientific community as a result of his long service on a number of DOE JASON review panels. The book is “Unsettled, what climate science tells us, what it doesn’t and why it matters” and it is available from our library or Amazon at a reasonable price. The book presents the climate science data and models at a level accessible to many non-scientists. Here are a few interesting facts that are presented in the book: CO2, methane and a few others account for about 10% of the Green House Effect. What is responsible for the remaining 90% of the warming effect? Water vapor. The lifetime of CO2 in the atmosphere ranges from about 20 years to over a thousand years. So, it should be obvious that focusing on reducing CO2 is not a high leverage, short-term response. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be trying but we just shouldn’t expect that it will provide a quick solution to the problem of global climate change. The model predictions presented in the ICPP reports are not the result of a single climate model. They are actually the average of more than 25 separate global climate models, developed at various institutions around the world. What is troubling is that for (at least) the first 5 UN Assessment Reports (AR1-5), the scatter in the model predictions has steadily increased, which is not what we would expect after so much time and funding. This doesn’t inspire confidence and it begs the question: why hasn’t this deficiency been more widely communicated to us?
Koonin’s book is well written, fascinating and I urge everyone who is concerned about climate change to read it.