The Map and the Territory: the problem with models

By December 4, 2019Other

This essay is based on a peer-reviewed article by a statistician and a mathematician (who call themselves ‘physicists’ at the end) in an economics journal. Its title is ‘Escape from model-land’. It’s been about for a couple of months, but there’ll be many readers for whom the article is new and important, so what follows is my summary, which is informed by my own experience. .

The authors start their abstract with what seems to me a great and often unrecognised truth.  Both mathematical modelling and simulation methods in general have contributed greatly to understanding, insight and forecasting in many fields including macroeconomics. Nevertheless, we must remain careful to distinguish model-land and model-land quantities from the real world.

Let me give an example from my own work. I was interested in the extent to which local issues and candidates affected election results. Votes are counted first at polling booths, then they are aggregated at the sub-division level, then at the divisional level (the electorate), then at the State or Territory level, and finally for the whole country. I could use a simultaneous-equations model to estimate the average effects at each level, and I did so. That process gave me an estimate of the various ‘effects’, really local ones, wider local ones, divisional ones, and state ones. So when you said that Labor had won, say 47 per cent of the vote, you were looking at a lot of separate contributions, both positive and negative, to that outcome.

And although I was able to give numbers to these ‘effects’ those numbers were estimates only. More, these effects were highly simplified versions of the real world, where people voted as they did for all sorts of reasons. Not one of them was interested in these ‘effects’ of mine, but they were affected by how rusted-on their party loyalty was, whether they knew any of the candidates, what they thought of them, what issues in the campaign had resonated with them, if any, how grumpy they felt that day, and so on. My model was the ‘map’, while the all-too-human reality of election-day was the ‘territory’. I found the map/territory analogy in the article and think it is a most useful one.

The authors offer what they call ‘a short guide to some of the temptations and pitfalls of model-land’, a map of which they provide. It has some amusing descriptors. They are concerned that simulations and models are too frequently used to inform policy, when the modellers do not properly explain the limitations of their work, and the policymakers do not understand the limitations anyway. What we then get is policy-based evidence, rather than evidence-based policy. ‘Climate change’ is one of the areas the authors single out for attention. In their view (and it is mine also) whether or not models are useful for policymaking has to be determined by looking at whether or not the models can explain the past properly, and whether their predictions about the future prove to be correct, ‘never based solely on the plausibility of their underlying principles or on the visual “realism” of outputs’.

In model-land models are tested against one another, simulations against other simulations. This process promotes a seductive, fairy-tale state of mind in which optimising a simulation invariably reflects desirable pathways in the real world. Decision-support in model-land implies taking the output of model simulations at face value (perhaps using some form of statistical processing to account for blatant inconsistencies), and then interpreting frequencies in model-land to represent probabilities in the real-world. One of the problems in so doing is the zero probability of what they call ‘the Big Surprise’ — an event which often occurs in the real world but not in model-land.

The authors are scathing about something that we see again and again in climate science. For what we term ‘climate-like’ tasks, the realms of sophisticated statistical processing which variously ‘identify the best model’, ‘calibrate the parameters of the model’, ‘form a probability ensemble from the ensemble’, ‘calculate the size of the discrepancy’ etc are castles in the air built on a singe assumption which is known to be incorrect: that the model is perfect. Mathematicians thrive in model-land, they say, and they can show also that interesting solutions will not hold in the real world. Mathematicians also ask for greater computational power, which has become increasingly available.

But bigger computers don’t necessarily lead to greater accuracy in real-world outputs. The authors argue that where the outputs are in the short-term, say tomorrow’s weather, and predictions are easily tested, then crunching large numbers may give you a better handle on the variables. But in ‘climate’ (conventionally, the average of thirty years’ worth of weather) testing predictions about the future may need to wait for another thirty years, or even more. Jumping to conclusions here on the basis of what models and simulations say will most likely led to bad real-world policy decisions.

The authors have done some predictive work themselves in the domains of weather, energy pricing and nuclear stewardship, and offer some advice to potential users. For example, they use a 72-hour accumulation of knowledge to decide whether a humanitarian crisis is likely after a severe weather event. They warn against using the ‘best available’ model unless it is also arguably adequate for the purpose. And they ask a set of questions that ought to be answered and supplied every time a model is put up as a solution to a real-world issue. Among them, is it possible to construct severe tests for extrapolation (climate-like) tasks? Is the system reflexive; does it respond to the forecasts themselves? How do we evaluate models: against real-world variables, or against a contrived index, or against other models? Or are they primarily evaluated by means of their epistemic or physical found-ations? Or, one step further, are they primarily explanatory models for insight and under-standing rather than quantitative forecast machines? Does the model in fact assist with human understanding of the system, or is it so complex that it becomes a prosthesis of understanding in itself?

There are at least two ways to escape from model-land. One is repeatedly to challenge the model to make out-of-sample predictions and see how well it performs. This is possible where what we are dealing with is weather, or weather-like issues. Here the forecast lead-time is much less than a model’s likely lifetime. You could in principle keep using the model to forecast today’s weather a year from now, but you’d probably do better just to predict that it will be rather like today’s weather.

In climate-like issues you’d find it useful to employ expert judgment, which is what the IPCC did in its last Assessment Report. Here we also need to consider uncertainty, something that Judith Curry has written about for several years. This is not the uncertainty of the expert judgment, but the uncertainty that exists between model-land and the real world.

This is a most interesting paper. The authors stress that their aim is not to discard models and simulations, but to make them more effective. They conclude: More generally, letting go of the phantastic mathematical objects and achievables of model-land can lead to more relevant information on the real world and thus better-informed decision-making. Escaping from model-land may not always be comfortable, but it is necessary if we are to make better decisions.

To which I say, ‘Hear, hear!’

Join the discussion 102 Comments

  • In other words. The best guide to future climate is past climate

    • Chris Warren says:

      The best guide to future climate is scientific analysis of satellite data. This is the only way you can determine, and be pre-warned of, departures from past climate.

      Granted you do not need models when data is sufficient however models need to be used if they perform better than other means.

      The test is not whether models are accurate in the event – but whether another means regularly performed better, such as simple extrapolation.

      Future climate will differ from past climate due to changed atmospheric conditions.

      • Boambee John says:


        “The best guide to future climate is scientific analysis of satellite data. This is the only way you can determine, and be pre-warned of, departures from past climate.”

        But the satellite data do not go very far back? How is the comparison made?

    • Neville says:

      Correct Mike, but past climate is never exactly the same as today or in another 30 years time.
      For OZ region the last 50 years has seen a lower trend for cyclones, both severe and none severe. See BOM.
      Also we know for the last 50 years rainfall has increased in WA overall ( but not SW WA ) and much higher in the NT and fairly even in SA, NSW, Qld since 1970 .
      But lower for SE OZ, Tas, although the Adel, Syd, Melb instrumental data doesn’t show any obvious trends from 1839 to 2017. See Ashcroft et al 2019.
      And there doesn’t seem to be much trend in the NZ rainfall data over the last 60 years.

      • spangled drongo says:

        Yes, Neville. It’s interesting that since the big PDO shift in 1976, WA has “stolen” Queensland’s cyclones and that change has occurred.

        How a climate scientist can show that has been caused by ACO2 needs a model with magic powers [or assumptions].

        But past climate extremes during the Holocene show good evidence that current climate is nothing exceptional.

        So, well said, Michael Burston:

        “The best guide to future climate is past climate”

    • David says:

      Yep past warming is a predictor of future warming

  • Boxer says:

    As you build a model, you become attached to it at an emotional level. You think it is an exercise in rational thought, and to a large extent it is, but not exclusively.

    I was repeatedly surprised how when I came across evidence from the real world that conflicted with my modelling, my immediate response was emotional. Something was wrong, and I wanted the model to be right. I had to conciously force myself to accept that the model must be at fault, but this might take several minutes.

    For someone like Michael Mann, who has risen to global prominence on his model, this problem would be several orders of magnitude worse. He would have to deny fault in his model or suffer, in his own mind, intolerable public humiliation.

  • Doug Hurst says:

    Thanks Don,

    A clear explanation about something I know very little, but have had my suspicions – now confirmed.

    With climate almost all the models are running hot, but that does not seem to invalidate them. Perhaps the current real world deep freeze in the northern hemisphere will produce more doubt about model land and more distrust where it counts in places like governments and the UN.

    • Boambee John says:


      “produce more doubt about model land and more distrust where it counts in places like governments and the UN.”

      This assumes that the UN, in particular, is not working to a different agenda. Statements by senior UN, IMF, and World Bank functionaries suggest that there could be (is?) another agenda.

  • Patrick says:

    The NIPCC publication “Climate Change Reconsidered” contains a 90+ page critique of computer models of climate .. replete with numerous references to peer reviewed publications. My few observations: the models are incapable of dealing with clouds; the models are unable to model the biosphere with any plausibility; page 675 of the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report documents a failed prediction of AGW theory … the tropical tropospheric “hot spot” at 10nkm altitude … never supported by huge volumes of observaional real world data from satellites & radiosondes.

  • Chris Warren says:

    You don’t need a model to tell you are cooking:

    “The average increase above the same baseline for the most recent decade 2009-2018 was about 0.93°C and for the past five years, 2014-2018, was 1.04°C above the pre-industrial baseline.”

    Simple extrapolation of this data indicates that the next 5 year period 2019-2023 will average 1.26°C, and so, on and on while ever CO2 continues to accumulate in the atmosphere.

    • Boambee John says:


      “Simple extrapolation of this data indicates that the next 5 year period 2019-2023 will average 1.26°C,”

      Others involved in this debate have made such short term pronouncements, only to be embarrassed when what was predicted does not occur.

      How confident are you of this extrapolation?

    • Bryan Roberts says:

      Chris, if you are telling us you had had to turn your air conditioner up over the last couple of seasons, you are lying.

      • Chris Warren says:

        Why this lie? I have never mentioned air conditioners!

        Why does Don allow denialists to spread this trash including from dlb?

      • Boambee John says:

        Still not so hot on reading comprehension. The implication wasn’t very subtle, but was clearly beyond your ability.

  • Rafe Champion says:

    Thanks Don, Some things have to be said over and over again. This is a piece from 1991 by the late John Philip who was head of Soil Physics in the CSIRO at the time. He flagged the danger of too much modeling and not enough testing in the field, the danger of content-free managers, managerial paralysis by analysis and the crude “Marxism” of researchers even when they are not left-wing. A substantial read but full of meat from beginning to end. What do you think he would say about the CSIRO today!

  • Rafe Champion says:

    PS If you are short of time just read the passages flagged by marks in the margin.

  • Tim Walshaw says:

    Correlation does not mean causation.

    The cause of this “climate change” fervor is a correlation noticed between a rise in global temperatures and a rise in the quantity of CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere. That is no proof of cause, any more than a correlation between the consumption of chocolate in the UK and the number of penguins in the Antartica. (Yes, it is has been found that there is a close correlation). If you do an actual scientific experiment on CO2, and it has been done, it has been found that CO2, when it is cool and in the low proportions it is in the lower atmosphere, has nearly no heat retention or greenhouse properties. Ye, everybody has been fooled.

    Yes, temperatures increased from 1970 to 2000, and have since been falling. This is caused by the 60 year De Rop cycle. The cooling will continue until 2030, and the it will start getting warm again. this has been going on for millenia. I won’t go into technical details on the De Rop cycles, except to say they are cuased by lunar wobbles affecting solar incidence on the northern continents.

    “Global warming” is a form of religious nonsense that has possessed the world!


    • Chris Warren says:

      Tim Walshaw

      I do not know where you get evidence for your comment:

      “If you do an actual scientific experiment on CO2, and it has been done, it has been found that CO2, when it is cool and in the low proportions it is in the lower atmosphere, has nearly no heat retention or greenhouse properties.”

      Here is an actual scientific experiment in a laboratory showing strong infrared absorption which is the greenhouse effect.

      • Boambee John says:


        You have touted that “experiment” around before. It needs further work.

        When the CO2 is released from the cylinder and expands, it will cool the atmosphere around it. Did the “experimenter” allow for that affecting the IR camera?

        • JMO says:

          Yes Boambee John, Chris has shown this experiment before and I have already responded to it. Just shows further evidence how climate doomsters are prepared to keep banging on their alarmist clap trap doomster predictions after prediction, they have been shown to be wrong time and time again.

          They do not show any embarrassment, just come up with another one.

          For that experiment to arrive at the result shown, the IR camera must have been tuned to either 2.7 or 4.3 or 15 microns IR wavelength. As COS is transparent across mealy ALL IR wavelengths. John Tyndall – the discoverer of IR absorption properties of numerous gasses – said in his lecture on Tuesday 16 May 1865 at chapter 14, CO2 is “one of the feeblest absorber” of what he called the calorific rays. He also correctly identified certain IR wavelengths where CO2 was opague. There is another weaker CO2 absorption line at 1.9 microns.

          This experiment leads to inaccurate conclusion that CO2 is powerful and strong IR absorber which is WRONG. Water vapour is 40X to 50X stronger IR absorbing gas and it has a far higher atmosphere concentration than a meazly 405 ppm.

          • Chris Warren says:


            You do not know what you are talking about.

            The fact that the image of the flame has a broad continuous range of colours proves that the IR camera was not tuned to any wavelength. The image is obviously broad spectrum.

            Chapter 14 did not even mention CO2. So did you just copy this false statement from another denialist website. Why did you give no link?

            The experiment demonstrates that CO2 is an effective absorber of CO2, otherwise the image of the candle would not have faded as CO2 was introduced.

  • Aynsley Kellow says:

    Many thanks Don.

    The quotation ‘the map is not the territory’ belongs to Alfred Korzybski, although it does not seem to be acknowledged.

    I covered (mapped??) some of this territory in my 2007 book Science and Public Policy: The Virtuous Corruption of Virtual Environmental Science, where I quoted Nancy Cartwright (1983, p. 153), who once put it bluntly, ‘A model is a work of fiction’. (Cartwright, Nancy (1983), How the Laws of Physics Lie, Oxford: Oxford University Press).

    There is a less polite aphorism attributed to Michael Athans of MIT (a control theorist) variously as one of two versions:

    1. ‘Simulation is like masturbation: the more you do it, the more you think it is the real thing! ‘

    2. ‘Simulation is like masturbation: if that’s all you do, you think that’s all there is.’

    I came across Korzybski and his quote (which has stuck with me) while studying anthropology and reading Gregory Bateson’s Steps to an Ecology of Mind. I was also taught US foreign policy by John Raser, who wrote a little volume called Simulation and Society.

    All this engendered considerable scepticism about models, which should only ever be regarded as ‘what if’ explorations, not as forecasts. The IPCC only refers to ‘projections’ from models, rather than forecasts, though of course everyone subsequently refers to the model results as forecasts.

    They are nothing more than projections of models tuned to data that are highly truncated temporally, and based on indirect measurements of water as a proxy for atmospheric temperatures for all but the last couple of decades. They make assumptions about water vapour not supported by empirical observations (see Paltridge, Arking and Pook). They should never have been used as the basis for costly public policy, especially since ‘scientific’ public policy is a chimera. (I can recommend Michael Formaini’s The Myth of Scientific Public Policy).

    • Boambee John says:


      A third version of the simulation aphorism.

      “Simulation is like masturbation, a little bit is OK, but if you do too much, you forget what the real thing is like.”

      Too many climate scientists have forgotten to look out the window occasionally!

    • JMO says:

      John Tyndall also identifies at chapter 13, water vapour as by far the strongest IR absorber of all gases he experimented on, He correctly identified it is water vapour that warms our planet for life to exist.

  • […] vs reality. Another quality find from Don […]

  • Ian MacCulloch says:

    Exploration geology is littered with failed models that failed the rotary lie detector test. Climate and weather forecasting are similarly afflicted. So the obvious question – are the correct elements being measured that can form a reliable basis for modelling. Myown field has seen many refinements over the last 50 years to the point where target identification has improved from whistling dixie to a reasonable chance of success. Often these refinements are non mainstream. New geophysics and geochemistry has yielded better results that when modelled together have provided realistic and reliable targets.
    Computational power has also improved – who would have thought of using global lightening strikes as the background source of energy for electromagnetic prospecting as a highly reliable tool. Similarly who would have thought of 50 years ago that seismic surveying could be extended into the electromagnetic spectrum to give highly reliable models.
    These styles of advances and thinking seem to be missing from the weather mob. They are still measuring temperatures in even greater numbers hoping to find the Holy Grail of accurate forecasting.
    Similarly with pressure acquisitions. A review of the changes of the 7 day synoptic chart shows that of the actual weathers on the day almost none equated to the model that had been duly predicted some 7 days earlier. The exception was the forecasts leading up to the last Brisbane flood. So why did the weather boffins get this one so right and the others so wrong such as the last FNQ floods.

  • Chris Warren says:

    It has taken a while, but denialists are now being reduced to just a relatively few right-wing nutjobs.

    • Boambee John says:


      Alarmist site criticies sceptics for not being alarmists!


    • Doug Hurst says:


      By definition, climate is a coupled, non-linear, chaotic system. This means that detailed predictions past a few days are impossible and even general predictions more than weeks ahead are little better. This has nothing to do with politics. It is simply the way a coupled, non-linear, chaotic system works. No one accurately predicted this drought well before it happened, nor was the current early and severe winter in much of the Northern Hemisphere predicted months head.

      No one knows the precise contribution of each element of the climate equation, nor does anyone have all the data needed to run the equation if we had it. The system is simply too big, too complex and too chaotic for any one factor like CO2 to dominate and that reality is now obvious to all but those who construct models that don’t include – as Judith Curry says in today’s Oz – thorough knowledge of the Sun, volcanoes and oceans.

      I don’t believe that pointing such facts out makes me a right wing nut job any more than denying such things makes you a left-wing dickhead – even if, you seem at times, to be borderline. Less personal abuse and more facts would help your case.

      • Chris Warren says:

        I suggest you go back and look at the comments above. You are odd in not calling for those rightwing nutjobs to emit less personal abuse to start with.

        Complaining about so-called personal abuse in such a selective pattern means you are the borderline case.

        All facts have been presented several times – what facts have you missed?

  • Boambee John says:

    From Forbes, via Jo Nova.

    “Shellenberger gives him the bad news that warming won’t kill as many people as climate policies will:

    In fact, scientists, including two of Rockström’s colleagues at the Potsdam Institute, recently modeled food production.

    Their main finding was that climate change policies are more likely to hurt food production and worsen rural poverty than climate change itself, even at 4 to 5 degrees warming.

    The “climate policies” the authors refer to are ones that would make energy more expensive and result in more bioenergy (the burning of biofuels and biomass), which would increase land scarcity and drive up food costs.

    Similarly, UN Food and Agriculture concludes that food production will rise 30 percent by 2050 unless “sustainable practices” are adopted in which case it would rise just 10 to 20 percent. Technological change significantly outweighs climate change in every single one of FAOs scenarios.”

    Seems climate change policies are more likely to cause mass starvation than climate change.

    But then, to some alarmists, that seems to be a feature, not a bug.

  • Chris Warren says:

    Models can be too easily criticised as they are based on assumptions and need repeated trials to get right.

    So, without models, it seems from direct observation that the last 33years has seen a warming of 0.8C.

    This is a trend of 2.4C per century.

    This is also shows an acceleration from previous 33 year intervals.

    So if not caused by GHGs plus feedbacks, what is the alternative science?

    • Chris Warren says:

      Land-ocean warming NOT atmosphere.


    • Boambee John says:


      We are saved.

      Only yesterday you posted that “Simple extrapolation of this data indicates that the next 5 year period 2019-2023 will average 1.26°C, and so, on and on while ever CO2 continues to accumulate in the atmosphere.”

      Today, it is down to only “a trend of 2.4C per century.”

    • Boambee John says:


      “Models can be too easily criticised as they are based on assumptions and need repeated trials to get right.”

      After around 30 years of trials, NASA recently conceded that the models have minimal effective forecasting capability. How much longer must we wait for useful GCMs?

  • Philip Clark says:

    The whole UN FCCC ‘climate change/global warming’ marketing campaign is based on a hypothetically assumed but unproven connection between ‘atmospheric constituents (CO2)’ and a range of supposed always adverse climatic events backed up by the ‘precautionary principle’ to avoid having to demonstrate either proof of assumptions or positive cost-benefit outcomes. The UN FCCC marketing package is based on the assumption that more (150) ‘poor’ UN member states will vote in favour of receiving the multi-billion US dollar bribes that are supposed to flow from the few (28) ‘rich’ UN member states under the Green Climate Fund (GCF) arrangement. The ‘poor’ majority are mostly either small island nations, effective dictatotships or both. The UNEP and UN FCCC ‘carbon demonisation’ marketing package is the most successful fraud in human history. Its aim of UN central control of global government and economies is supported by anticipated downstream GCF funding for UN agencies including the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) as well as major insurers marketing re-insurance against adverse climatic events.

  • Neville says:

    The Bolter checks facts or data or evidence compared to what people want or need to believe.
    Their silly religious dogma wins out every time.

  • Chris Warren says:

    “Climate models provide an important way to understand future changes in the Earth’s climate. In this paper we undertake a thorough evaluation of the performance of various climate models published between the early 1970s and the late 2000s. Specifically, we look at how well models project global warming in the years after they were published by comparing them to observed temperature changes. Model projections rely on two things to accurately match observations: accurate modeling of climate physics, and accurate assumptions around future emissions of CO2 and other factors affecting the climate. The best physics?based model will still be inaccurate if it is driven by future changes in emissions that differ from reality. To account for this, we look at how the relationship between temperature and atmospheric CO2 (and other climate drivers) differs between models and observations. We find that climate models published over the past five decades were generally quite accurate in predicting global warming in the years after publication, particularly when accounting for differences between modeled and actual changes in atmospheric CO2 and other climate drivers. This research should help resolve public confusion around the performance of past climate modeling efforts, and increases our confidence that models are accurately projecting global warming.” °


  • Stu says:

    This is slightly off topic, but outside this mickey mouse sideshow there are big time (well funded) outfits arguing your case much better than the coterie of would be “experts” here. One of those is Heartland. You may have heard of them if you do more than merely follow Nova and Wattsap. This little article regarding Heartland is quite interesting.

    “Last week, the Heartland Institute was again trumpeting climate science denial at its 13th “International Conference on Climate Change” at the Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C. But by a number of measures, the Chicago-based free market think tank’s science denial doesn’t exactly seem to be a growing — or cohesive — movement at this point.
    That’s even with more media coverage than five years ago, and with friends in high places. In early 2017, following the election of President Trump, attendees of the Heartland Institute conference were clearly excited to have a climate denier in the White House. Frontline reported that the mood at the conference was “jubilant.”
    Even last year, the organization was projecting an air of optimism. Former Congressman Tim Huelskamp was still Heartland president and confidently declaring victory for the climate denial movement.
    “It took a while, but we think we’ve won the battle — Al Gore was wrong,” Huelskamp said.
    So, how are things going for Heartland these days?
    The first big news out of the 2019 conference was the announcement that Heartland’s board had elected a new president after the sudden and unexplained resignation of Huelskamp from that position in June.
    The new president is Frank Lasee, a former Wisconsin state legislator and member of Governor Scott Walker’s administration. Noticeably absent from the press release announcing his new position — at Heartland’s climate science denial conference — was any mention of climate denialism.
    Not exactly what you would expect from the group who not long ago claimed it had “won the battle” about the purported reality of climate change.

    In 2008, Heartland’s climate conference was a three day affair. Over a decade later, it is down to a single day. In 2008, the event drew over 50 co-sponsors. This year’s conference pamphlet listed only 16. And as it turns out, one of those was fake.
    Heartland’s conference pamphlet lists Fidelity Charitable as a co-sponsor for the 2019 event, but there was a slight problem with that. It wasn’t true.

    The Heartland Institute’s climate denial conference literature listing co-sponsors, including the incorrect listing of Fidelity Charitable.
    Heartland had to pull the Fidelity Charitable logo from its conference sponsors webpage after the investigative organization Documented revealed that Fidelity was not an actual sponsor. However, the name and logo remained on the printed materials at the conference.
    Since President Trump’s election, Heartland has started a new series of events to promote fossil fuel use called the “America First Energy Conference.” This theme fits with its past, though apparently waning, financial support from oil, gas, and coal companies. According to Frontline, the most recent of these conferences held in 2018 wasn’t very well attended, reporting that “most of the day it had an audience of 100 or fewer.”
    A firsthand account from a conference attendee noted similar activity at the conference last week, with the hotel hallways often hosting more people than the presentation room. 
    However, while Heartland climate denial conferences may have dwindling sponsors, activities, and attendees, they can still claim to be very popular among old, white men. There is never a shortage of gray hair in the audience at a climate denial conference.

    Presentation at the Heartland Institute’s 13th International Conference on Climate Change.
    In addition, the speakers for a conference with an audience of mostly old, white men consisted of mostly men. Out of 27 listed speakers, only two were women. The speaker line-up drew from the usual suspects in climate denial circles, such as Tim Ball, Myron Ebell, and Christopher Monckton.
    Climate science denial doesn’t seem to be a welcoming place for women. Organizations promoting climate science denial in the UK employ few women, and female climate scientists report frequent gender-based attacks and harrassment, mostly from men.
    Heartland’s core demographic doesn’t bode well for its future.
    Banning ‘Garbage’ Journalism
    In addition to dwindling attendees and sponsors, Heartland’s media policy is to refuse credentials to anyone who offends them by reporting on their climate science denial. Mother Jones climate reporter Rebecca Leber has covered past Heartland conferences, but apparently she has worn out her welcome. Leber posted her rejection letter from Heartland communications director and interim president Jim Lakely on Twitter.
    “I regret to inform you my garbage journalism got me barred from covering Heartland Institute’s climate conference happening at Trump’s DC hotel tomorrow “.
    — Rebecca Leber (@rebleber) July 25, 2019
    It is a similar response that DeSmog reporter Ben Jervey received in 2017, in which Lakely said DeSmog was “not a legitimate news outlet” and thus would not get press credentials, despite having invited DeSmog’s Graham Readfearn, who is based in Australia and has written for the Guardian, to attend.
    This year, Lakely apparently ejected George Mason University researcher John Cook, who studies how to combat misinformation about climate science, from Heartland’s conference after Cook had been attending for at least two hours and had interviewed several of the speakers for the Weather Channel.

    Heartland’s Red Team vs. Blue Team Efforts Failed
    At 2017’s “jubilant” conference, Heartland speakers promoted the idea of a Red Team vs. Blue Team “debate” on climate science. This concept involves pitting noted climate science deniers against mainstream climate scientists to allegedly debate the validity of climate change science, something then-Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head Scott Pruitt seemed open to conducting. But in Heartland’s eyes, Pruitt wasn’t committed enough to the idea.
    In October 2017, leaked internal Heartland emails detailed the organization’s concerns: “EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s proposal for a Red Team-Blue Team exercise is vague, probably would not be effective, and is unlikely to come about.”
    However, Pruitt’s scandal-plagued time in D.C. has since come to a close, and these days he has reportedly been working as a lobbyist for the coal industry.
    The New York Times reported in March 2018 that Trump’s Chief of Staff John F. Kelley had killed the idea of the Red vs. Blue Teams debate as members of the White House staff thought it was “ill-conceived and politically risky.”
    In the end there was no Red Team vs. Blue Team project by the Trump administration despite this being a top priority of Heartland, a concept which the group has been espousing since at least 2009.
    A Failing Business Model?
    The oil industry is still spending heavily against policies to address climate change and in support of efforts to promote fossil fuel consumption. These days, however, the messaging and efforts seem to be moving away from Heartland-style denial attacks on climate science and tuned more toward PR campaigns promoting the idea that oil and gas companies accept climate change is happening and are doing their part to address it.
    That’s likely driven in part by the fact that public awareness of and concern about climate change has significantly increased since 2008.
    The industry’s new approach appears focused on selling the idea that natural gas is “clean” and that fossil fuels are the future — even a “solution” to climate change. Meanwhile, across the U.S., coal plants are closing, the gas industry is a financial disaster, and renewables are growing rapidly and in many cases can provide electricity more cheaply than gas power plants.
    The Cato Institute, another free market think tank that for years pushed climate science denial and received funding from the fossil fuel industry, dropped its climate denial program earlier this year. Cato was founded by the petrochemical billionaire Charles Koch. 
    Will Heartland follow a similar path to attract broader appeal and fossil fuel industry funding?”

    I like the reference to the preponderance of “old gray haired men”, fairly apt eh?

    • spangled drongo says:

      And forthwith both blith and stu convincingly demonstrate that they likewise can’t tell the difference between the map and the territory.

    • Boambee John says:


      You’re back, and still whistling in the dark as you pass the (alarmist) cemetery.

      When is your next, ultimate, final, farewell appearance?

    • dlb says:

      “I like the reference to the preponderance of “old gray haired men”, fairly apt eh?”

      It is fairly apt, but have you also heard “wisdom comes with age”

      Your comment makes a of lie of the trope that “climate denialists” are financed by Big Oil, when all along they are only Dad’s Army.

  • spangled drongo says:

    And if stu had only stuck around rather than be determined to remain ignorant, he could have improved his education no end:

    • Stu says:

      Ah yes the demented hapless Happer. Try this counter view, if you dare. I think Dan Britt is a little more lucid and credible than your bloke. Back to your circular ranting I will revisit next month to see if you are still in the same place. Oh and yes, did you actually read what I posted? Even Heartland is changing tack, the game is up.

      • Chris Warren says:


        Yes, denialists are now a rump. Heartland is a wasteland. Cato is collapsing.

        CO2 continues to accumulate and global warming continues as oil barons knew (privately) it would.

        Oil capitalists, without fancy models, predicted they would heat the climate by 0.4° for every 40ppm increase in CO2.

        See here:

        This is precisely what has transpired – and will continue into the future wreaking havoc on future generations.

        The facts are clear and have always been.

        • Boambee John says:


          You seem to be a slow learner, so I will again repeat what i have already posted several times here.

          If you genuinely believe that increasing levels of CO2 in the atmosphere will cause unstoppable catastrophic global warming, then you need to take your campaign to Beijing and Delhi. Each of China and India increases its CO2 emissions annually by more than Australia’s total output (putting aside the CO2 sink argument).

          Both of those nations intend to continue increasing their CO2 emissions for at least the next decade. Nothing, absolutely nothing, in the way of reducing Australian CO2 emissions can make any significant difference to what you believe is happening, so off to Beijing and Delhi with you.

          Unless, of course, you are using CAGW as a tool for a different political purpose???

      • Boambee John says:


        You have claimed total victory more often than you have made your “final, farewell, appearance” here. Are you trying to convince us or yourself?

  • Neville says:

    I see our silly donkeys are still living in their silly fantasy planet and still don’t understand very simple first grade sums.
    But how do we dumb it down even more for them, so even they may wake up sooner rather than later?
    But I’ll try again and keep it very short and I’ll just focus on the REAL DATA from OUR REAL planet earth.
    1. In 1800 co2 levels were about 283 ppm.

    2. In 1900 co2 levels were about 296 ppm.

    3. In 1950 co2 levles were about 311 ppm.

    4. In 1988 co2 levels were about 350 ppm. Important to note that this is now the preferred co2 level according to Dr Hansen and Bill McKibben of .

    5.So in the 188 years until 1988 co2 levels increased by 67 ppm and since then co2 levels have increased by about 60 ppm.

    6. Since 1988 that increase of 60 ppm has come from China, India and developing countries and hundreds of new coal stns to come.
    Of course the OECD countries have flat-lined over that time and CSIRO tells us that the only NET source of co2 is the NH.

    So I ask again, what is it that these donkeys don’t understand about the increase in co2 levels over the last 219 years? I can’t dumb it down any further for them, but if they’re so concerned about their future they should take their protest to China, India etc.

    I’m sure they’ll welcome you with open arms and China may even give you a nice place to stay for the rest of your lives. Trust me and I’ll even send you a get well card occasionally.

  • Chris Warren says:

    Stupid, stupid Neville;

    Yet again Neville has posted unreferenced stuff that contradicts his own argument.

    Using his data it is clear that in 100 years CO2 increased 13 ppm.

    In next 50 years it increased 15 ppm.

    In next 38 years it increased 39 ppm.

    This is exponential growth and we know that ever 40 ppm causes 0.4°C.

    Slow clearly all ice will melt, and all the rump can do is moan about the timing.

    Denialists are well and truly a laughing stock now.

    • Boambee John says:


      Your estimate of the time for all the ice to melt?

      I have asked this several times before, but you seem strangely reluctant to respond. Is this perhaps because the time would be so extended as to make your panic seem more than usually pathetic?

  • Boambee John says:

    The BoM explains away an embarrassing low temperature”

    “Blair Trewin, senior climatologist at the Bureau of Meteorology, confirmed that it was a summer as well as December record but pointed out there was more to it.

    “In some ways it’s not quite as impressive as it looks,” Dr Trewin said.

    “This is because before automatic weather stations were installed in the 1990s, manual observations at high mountain sites [like the top of Thredbo, Mount Hotham and Falls Creek] were very limited outside the ski season.”

    And if it had been a fraction above the low record for a second during the day, would the limited measurements outside the ski season have even been mentioned?

    Welcome to the Adjustocene!

  • Bryan Roberts says:

    “a peer-reviewed article” I really object to this, and I wish you would stop allowing/encouraging it. Peer review is nothing more than a review of the methodology used in a set of experiments. It does not validate, or invalidate the conclusions. You have been in the business long enough to be well aware of this.

    • Boambee John says:


      Indeed, and far too much of “peer review” seems to be “pal review” by colleagues known to support each other.

      This is not just in climate science.

    • Chris Warren says:

      Bryan Roberts

      Denialists must reject refereed sources – this is their bread and butter.

      If denialists used authoritative refereed materials they would self-implode.

      Their law “Reject real science” (and manufacturing their own fake version) is taken directly from the hymn book of climate change denial.

      • Bryan Roberts says:

        Chris, I have been in the business for over 40 years. I am simply pointing out that the term ‘peer reviewed’ does not confer any cachet of respectability or authority, it simply says, in the opinion of the reviewer, the study was carried out competently. That’s all. It is you and people like you who invest it with mystique.

        • Chris Warren says:

          Bryan Roberts

          Competent, independently reviewed, science IS authoritative and should be respected until it is falsified by later work at least at the same level of competency.

          There is no mystique because everything is transparent and open to challenge.

          “Mystique” is slander.

          • Boambee John says:


            “Competent, independently reviewed”

            These are the key words. Fellow believers telling each other that they are brilliant is not independent, and is not proof of competence.

          • Bryan Roberts says:

            Chris, the fact that a manuscript is accepted by reviewers and published in a scientific journal does not make it ‘authoritative’ or even believable. There are notorious examples in such august journals as Nature. I once had a conversation about this with an extremely distinguished American academic who remarked about one paper he reviewed “I don’t believe a word of it, but I can find no reason to reject it”.

          • Boambee John says:


            “There is no mystique because everything is transparent and open to challenge.”

            Missed this bit earlier. Does “transparent and open to challenge” include the various climate “scientists” who decline to reveal their data? One (name escapes me at the moment) famously asked one enquirer “Why should I give you that data? You would only try to prove me wrong.”

            Some might have thought that was part of the scientific method!

          • Boambee John says:

            For those interested in the detail of “transparent and open to challenge” climate science.

            “Willis Eschenbach

            Dear Dr. Jones:

            You and I have been interacting, albeit at a distance, since I first asked you for your data some five years ago. I asked for your data in part because I was astounded by your answer to Warwick Hughes when he asked for the same data. You replied to Warwick at that time, “Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it?”

            I couldn’t fathom that a leading climate scientist could actually believe that. Finding something wrong with other scientists’ data and ideas is an integral part of how science progresses. This requires transparency and access to the data. I also couldn’t believe that other climate scientists would let you get away with saying that, without some other scientist pointing out the anti-scientific nature of your denial.

            Foolish me … d’ya think I might have been more than a bit naive back then about climate “science” realpolitik?”

      • Boambee John says:

        Chris returns to his forte.

        Personal abuse!

  • Neville says:

    Brian you’re wasting your time on our resident donkey, but let’s clear up some more of their mystery.
    The SH is a NET co2 sink according to the CSIRO. But the SH is only about 800 mil people or about 10.5% of the 7.7 billion total global population.
    But the co2 emissions from ALL SH countries is also less than 7% of TOTAL global emissions.
    Of course this tiny number doesn’t count anyway because it is absorbed/ sequestered by the huge SH NATURAL SINK.
    I can provide links for all of this but it is readily available from various sources. This is very simple stuff that shouldn’t be beyond an average 5 year old, but our donkeys throw a hissy fit and resort to yapping about deniers etc every chance they get.
    Best to leave these silly fools alone, because they’re totally clueless and waste a lot of our time.
    Oh and the SH is also a NET Methane sink as well, according to the CSIRO. See CSIRO Cape Grim Tassie site.

    • Boambee John says:


      The CSIRO.

      Pffft! What would they know about “Competent, independently reviewed, science”?

      For the benefit of Chris, that is sarcasm.

    • Chris Warren says:

      Yet another typical denialist trick from Neville. No one was claiming that southern hemisphere was a net sink.

      Denialists were falsely claiming that Australia was a net sink.

      You can lead a denialist to facts, but you can’t make them think.

      • Bryan Roberts says:

        Chris, we know you can’t swim, but do try a brief dip in the pool of reality.

      • Boambee John says:


        “Denialists were falsely claiming that Australia was a net sink.”

        Part of your problem with that claim was your (incorrect) belief that LULUCF included the totality of Australian vegetation coverage. I thought that error was cleared up in the earlier thread, yet you behave as if that discussion had never occurred.

  • Chris Warren says:

    Reality is seeping through – even into the ranks of denialists.

    “The latest estimate is that the world’s five largest publicly-owned oil and gas companies spend about US$200 million a year on lobbying to control, delay or block binding climate policy.

    Their hold on the public seems to be waning. Two recent polls suggested over 75 percent of Americans think humans are causing climate change.”


    • Boambee John says:


      You really do have a memory problem.

      I and others here have conceded on many occasions that human activity does have an effect on climate, most readily demonstrated by the UHI effect. The argument is about the scale of the effect, and the extent to which it is potentially harmful.

      It is a standard alarmist dirty trick to ask a bland question, to which virtually everyone would respond in the affirmative (Do you believe in climate change? Do you think that human activities affect the climate?), then trumpet the results as confirmation that a high percentage believe in the full Catastrophic Anthropogenic Climate Change hypothesis.

      This is fundamentally dishonest, as is much of what is called, misleadingly, climate “science”.

      • spangled drongo says:


        Well said. And possibly the most dishonest attitude they have is, if anyone is too sceptical to accept their unproven dogma that increasing levels of CO2 cause “climate change”, they not only refuse to enter into open discussion on this but insist that person is a “denier”.

        No wonder the only way they can increase their numbers is to brainwash innocent children.

        • There’s no end to the mendacious Propaganda and exploiting children. Also, don’t you get sick of the term “denial” which the ABC never sees fit to rein in. After all, De Nile is indifferent to mendacious Propaganda. Could be Se Nile

  • spangled drongo says:

    Thanks Catallaxy:

    • Neville says:

      SD I’ve watched that video before and it is still both funny and worrying.
      But no doubt about it that scum like Strong, Ehrlich, Holdren etc have caused untold damage over the last 50 years and yet a percentage of the population still fall for their BS and fra-d.
      It just proves that some people never wake up. And if or when this latest CAGW scare fades away another load of BS and fra-d will soon come along to frighten the feeble-minded fools into another panic.

    • Boambee John says:

      Well, to paraphrase Mandy Rice-Davies, an alarmist website would say tgat, wouldn’t it?

      Fidelity to reality, except when their projections are graphed against the measured (homogenised) reality, when 97% of them read too high?

  • Neville says:

    Wonderful news that at long last Roger Pielke Jnr has joined the more sensible middle of the road luke warmers and started to concentrate on the IPCC con merchants and some of the so called scientists.
    Actually some are activist extremists and choose the worst case scenario to now blend as business as usual.
    Of course their so called BAU is ridiculous, but the new AR6 IPCC report is now running this extreme case at an even faster pace than AR5 did in 2013.
    Lomborg has warned about this for decades and Shellenberger, Epstein and Tol etc have also added their scientific research to try and stop these apocalyptic fra-dsters before they wreck our futures, by encouraging the waste of endless trillions of $ for a guaranteed zero return.
    I hope Pielke is fair dinkum because he has the ability to at least slow these con merchants down and perhaps start to influence more MSM, pollies, timid scientists and more sensible voters etc.
    A good start would be to promote the RS and NAS report Ques 20 Q&A and the Zickfeld et al study.

    • BoyfromTottenham says:

      Neville, you said ‘they wreck our futures, by encouraging the waste of endless trillions of $ for a guaranteed zero return.’. Look at it from their perspective – the aim of the CAGW protagonists is nothing to do with ‘climate change’ but all to do with sandbagging the capitalist system and eventually setting it for a Marxist / socialist revolution, and at the same time driving a huge wedge between our left and right parties, politicians and their supporters, which they seem to be achieving all too well. They would (a) not see the ‘trillions of $’ spent as a waste, and (b) would see the political chaos that their extremist CAGW agenda is causing as a significant return, especially as it was OUR money that is being spent to achieve THEIR goals! Please try to see the BIG picture – the CAGW scam is not about science!

  • Chris Warren says:

    Thank you Neville for your ongoing ridiculous frauds.

    However all the theories and models have all been confirmed starting from Guy Stewart Callendar in 1930s.

    For example Glibert Paas confirmed in the 1950s that: “…the observed 1.1 degree rate of climate warming per century was in agreement with the predictions of the carbon dioxide theory.”

    Why don’t you give up feasting yourself on denialist junk-sites and try reading science???

    Or does science exceed your attention span?

    • Boambee John says:

      Keep digging back, eventually you will find someone who will record that abacus modelling shows that carbon di-phlogiston caused the Medieval Warm Period!

  • Chris Warren says:

    Bryan Roberts

    I think you miss understood my point.

    It was not “fact that a manuscript is accepted by reviewers and published in a scientific journal does not make it ‘authoritative’ or even believable.”

    This is just the start – to become authoritative this is necessary but not sufficient. It has to survive subsequent scrutiny by peers and not be subject to retraction.

    Many aspects of science need to be independently corroborated it cn be deemed “authoritative”.

    My point was:

    “Competent, independently reviewed, science IS authoritative and should be respected until it is falsified by later work at least at the same level of competency.”

    • Boambee John says:


      “Competent, independently reviewed, science IS authoritative and should be respected until it is falsified by later work at least at the same level of competency.”

      If only there was some of it in the great morass that calls itself “climate science”. Has the “Hockey Stick” been withdrawn yet, or do we simply not acknowledge its existence?

      Really, this is a circular argument. “Only climate scientists can provide the necessary level of competency to assess climate science”, and they all scratch each others’ backs. Read some of those alarmist sites more critically. They tie themselves in knots to defend every element of the “narrative”.

  • Neville says:

    Craig Kelly tells the truth about the false claims from the Sec General of the UN.
    How come the media doesn’t call out these fra-dsters when they regularly tell a load of BS about deaths from extreme weather events, the rate of SLR etc.
    And these con merchants have the hide to ask for billions of extra $ to waste on their so called CAGW. We should pull out of this scam ASAP and start building more reliable coal powered stns.

    • Chris Warren says:

      What a right-wing nut-job claiming:

      “30 years ago, the temperature was the same globally about where it was today” !!!!

      • Boambee John says:


        You are, for a change, quite correct.

        The whole concept of a “Global Average Temperature” is pseudo-scientific nonsense, and should be consigned to the dustbin of history, along with the Phlogiston Theory.

        Global climate is a collection of local climates. How does your local climate compare with 30 years ago, empirically measured, not modelled. Use old newspaper reports for 30 years ago, not the “homogenised” BoM records.

  • Neville says:

    Gosh we perhaps forget that there are intelligent young people who think for themselves and don’t have to be as stupid as Greta or Ex rebs or their leaders.
    Leaders like the Ext reb woman co- founder who used mind altering drugs to “see the light” or the Gore HIPPO who must have the co2 footprint of a tribe of Yetis, or the UN Sec general who yaps delusional nonsense to an audience of thousands and nobody calls him out.
    They say people go mad in herds and regain their sanity one by one and this young German girl is an inspiration to all of us and even the hard line extremists.
    She is articulate and is a complete contrast to the hatred and self loathing spewing forth from the stupid, totalitarian dopes we see everyday and regularly promoted by their ABC and other MSM etc.

    • Chris Warren says:


      It would be best if you ceased your yapping delusional nonsense. You have been sunk.

      You are the spew from the right-wing nutjobs with their stupid totalitarian dopey agendas.

      • Boambee John says:

        “You are the spew from the right-wing nutjobs with their stupid totalitarian dopey agendas.”

        So says someone who is too blind (or too committed to a particular political cause) to see the statements by various UN, EU, IMF and World Bank luminaries which make quite clear that, regardless of the reality or otherwise of the CAGW hypothesis, intend to use it to advance an agenda of forced economic change and redistribution. Is that a “totalitarian” objective?

        Some of them are keen on cutting the population also. Does that constitute one of those “stupid totalitarian dopey agendas.”? It certainly hasn’t worked out well in the fairly recent past.

  • Neville says:

    Perhaps their ABC and Fairfax etc are slowly starting to wake up?
    But I wonder if it is the historical Aboriginal connection to controlling the fuel loads that’s forced this change? Whatever, at least these fools are now starting down the path of referring to the science and willingness to change. Let’s hopes this is permanent and not upended by some future looney Green interference. Who knows, we can only hope.

  • Chris Warren says:

    What they claimed 60 years ago…

  • Chris Warren says:

    This is what they claimed 60 years ago …

    • Boambee John says:

      And yet, 60 years later, after 30 years of developing and “improving” GCMs, even NASA acknowledges that their usefulness in making projections of the future is minimal.

      When are you going to take your campaign to Beijing and Dehli, the capitals of the nations currently contributing the greatest increases in atmospheric CO2 levels? Surely, if there is a problem, it should be attacked at its source, rather than nibbling around the edges?

      Or is actual effort too hard for you?

  • Boambee John says:

    From commenter Sceptical Sam at Jo Nova.

    “Their IPCC tells us that “The total increase between the average of the 1850–1900 period and the 2003–2012 period is 0.78 [0.72 to 0.85] °C, based on the single longest dataset available (see Figure SPM.1). {2.4}”

    A mere 0.78 C° over 132 years.”

    That is, according to the IPCC, the TOTAL increase, including any natural variation.

    Bunch of denialists!

  • BB says:

    I do have a fair knowledge of how climate models work and years ago I spend quite a deal of time trying to understand whether or not they were valid. If you are going to model something it is quite useful to understand how that thing works. You might model a jet engine and they do since this is very cost-effective in the testing phase. A man called Mueller much experienced in the climate modelling field summed it up in that you are trying to create a virtual reality world which behaves the same as the real world. The target in terms of modelling must be predictable. If it is a jet engine then if the oil flow to the bearings is stopped in the model then the failure of the engine should be represented. So I ask is there a generalised theory predicting with much accuracy the behaviour of the weather? Can one say if this and this occurs then the result is tornadoes will occur at a given location? Our weather bureau can give us predictions of that sort of thing when it is almost on top of us. Long-term predictions constantly fail ah they say that is weather not climate. The principle remains the same unless we understand in detail how the weather/climate works we cannot accurately model it. What is actually being done is first you split the atmosphere into a number of cells these are quite large (last time I looked the cells were big enough for one to cover both Sydney and Canberra) but getting smaller as computers become more powerful. To each of these cells you apply a number of atmospheric equations much to do with fluid dynamics and then you trying to interact the changes in one cell with all other cells. This is then computed into the future and relied on by too many. There is the ultimate failure of the climate model it is not testable. The fundamental rule of the scientific method cannot be applied. Using the same process we can prove anything exists. My favourite deity the great FSM exists I have a computer model that proves that. It is very pleasing to have my Pastafarian faith confirmed.

Leave a Reply