Policy Documents

Research to Date on Forecasting for the Manmade Global Warming Alarm

J. Scott Armstrong, Kesten C. Green, and Willie Soon –
March 31, 2011

In testimony to the Subcommittee on Energy and Environment Committee on Science, Space and Technology, Professor J. Scott Armstrong of the University of Pennsylvania,  described research he conducted with Kesten C. Green, University of South Australia, and Willie Soon, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, to determine the validity of scientific forecasts with respect to global warming. They describe their work as follows (from the abstract):

The validity of the manmade global warming alarm requires the support of scientific forecasts of (1) a substantive long-term rise in global mean temperatures in the absence of regulations, (2) serious net harmful effects due to global warming, and (3) cost-effective regulations that would produce net beneficial effects versus alternatives such as doing nothing.

Without scientific forecasts for all three aspects of the alarm, there is no scientific basis to enact regulations. In effect, it is a three-legged stool. Despite repeated appeals to global warming alarmists, we have been unable to find scientific forecasts for any of the three legs.

We drew upon scientific (evidence-based) forecasting principles to audit the forecasting procedures used to forecast global mean temperatures by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) -leg "1" of the stool. This audit found that the procedures violated 81% of the 89 relevant forecasting principles

We also did an audit of the forecasting procedures used for two papers that were designed to support proposed regulation related to protecting polar bears - leg "3" of the stool. On average, these procedures violated 85% of the 90 relevant principles.

The warming alarmists have not demonstrated the predictive validity of their procedures. Instead, their argument for predictive validity is based on their claim that nearly all scientists agree with the forecasts. Such an appeal to "voting" is contrary to the scientific method. It is also incorrect.

We conducted a validation test of the IPCC forecasts based on the assumption that there would be no interventions. This test found that the errors for IPCC model long-term forecasts (91 to 100 years in the future) were 12.6 times larger than those from an evidence-based "no change" model.

Based on our analyses, we concluded that the global warming alarm is an anti-scientific political movement.

We then turned to the "structured analogies" method to forecast the likely outcomes of this movement. In this ongoing study, we have, to date, identified 26 historical alarmist movements. None of the forecasts for the analogous alarms proved correct. In the 25 alarms that called for government intervention, the government imposed regulations in 23. None of the 23 interventions was effective and harm was caused by 20 of them.

Our findings on the scientific evidence related to global warming forecasts lead to the following recommendations:

1. End government funding for climate change research

2. End government funding for research predicated on global warming (e.g., alternative energy; CO2 reduction; habitat loss)

3. End government programs and repeal regulations predicated on global warming

4. End government support for organizations that lobby or campaign predicated on global warming