Re: [asa] The Mathematics of Global Warming

From: Allan Harvey <>
Date: Mon Nov 30 2009 - 14:48:44 EST

As Randy alluded, this person has made a fundamental mistake. His first sentence makes it clear that he does not know what he is talking about:

"The forecasts of global warming are based on the mathematical solutions of equations in models of the weather."


That simply isn't true. Weather models are local and specific and unreliable once you get much beyond a week. But climate modeling is different (and easier in some sense), essentially an energy balance over the whole planet. It could be viewed as an integration over all local weather (although they don't do it that way), and as scientists (and mathematicians) know integration tends to smooth out noise. Predicting the weather at any point on the planet on some date in 2050 is impossible, but predicting the average temperature of the planet in 2050 is possible because it depends on calculations of overall energy inflow and outflow, not on solving weather models for 40 years.


Maybe an analogy will help. If I have a good knowledge of immigration and emigration rates, and birth and death rates, I could make a pretty good prediction of the population of the United States in 2050. That would be equivalent to climate modeling. This person's argument is akin to saying that such an overall population prediction is impossible because he is unable to predict when each of his grandchildren will die.


Allan (ASA member)

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Received on Mon Nov 30 14:49:15 2009

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