nasa’s climate models get put to the test and pass with flying colors

NASA reviewed predictions of how the planet should be warming generated by its GISTEMP dataset to see how accurate its models were, and the results were hardly shocking.
nasa gistemp map

One of the most common criticisms, for lack of a better word, from climate change denialists when it comes to predictions of how the planet will warm over the coming decades is that climatologists use complex models to do their projections. Those models are based on vast collections of relevant data points in specific areas across the world, take days to compile and weeks to run, and their output has to be reviewed by experts to make sense to the general public. And since the math is complicated and the system in question is so complex, denialists are quick to say that there’s no way these models could possibly be accurate, often clinging to a cherry-picked, falsified chart from a fossil fuel lobby paid hack.

Actual scientists, however, respond quite well to criticism of their models, and review them all the time to make sure that what they’re doing makes sense and reflects reality. And in that spirit, NASA went over its GISTEMP data and projections to see how well it fared in predicting how the planet will warm on average. Unsurprisingly, their estimates were accurate to within just 0.05 °C, which is about as accurate as you’re going to get with all the possible variations in the thousands of factors involved. Why, you might even think that scientists across the world with reams of temperature data and high tech tools orbiting the planet might just know what they’re doing, unless you’re quite literally paid a very handsome bonus not to by a think tank that was once hired to pretended that smoking doesn’t cause cancer.

Meanwhile, not satisfied with the accuracy of they’ve achieved, the climatologists went over the measurements and statistical formulas they used, seeing no more than a 0.1 °C margin of error, and compared their results to direct measurements by the AIRS satellite, which uses infrared sensors to measure surface temperatures across the world in real time and has been gathering data from 2003 and showing the same warming trends. The only difference is that GISTEMP is actually slightly more conservative in estimating the temperature increases in the Arctic, which is warming at a notably faster rate than predicted. This is also in stark contrast to denialists’ constant histrionics that the models are alarmist.

But then again, we’re talking about the same kind of people who think that comparing our calls to cut carbon dioxide emissions is similar to Nazis calling for the extermination of Jews without then looking at themselves in the mirror, mouth agape in surprise and shame, while muttering “what the fuck is wrong with me?” which is really the only acceptable reaction they could have after saying this out loud in public. Yes, the predictions are pretty dire and say that our seafood is being poisoned, millions will die from the side effects of an overheated planet, and weather will get really weird. But after comparing them with real world observations, we know they’re accurate and we should pay absolutely no attention to the screeching from lunatics seemingly dedicated to poisoning our planet as we try to right our environmental course.

# science // climate change / global warming / nasa


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