True motives revealed: ‘The climate models are bad and don’t work; but let’s not try to improve them’

In a wholly cynical response on a tiny bit of the U.S. government’s budget, the Republican-dominated Congress has revealed the true motives of their financial backers: To hobble, delay, confuse, and force mismanagement of any government or academic or independent scientific assessment of the climate, or to improve its forecasting. I quote the following, from a summary by the American Institute of Physics, regarding the U.S. House of Representatives report regarding the budget for the Department of Energy’s Biological and Environmental Research:

Biological and Environmental Research:
The FY 2014 appropriation was $609.7 million.

The FY 2015 request is $628.0 million, an increase of $18.3 million or 3.0 percent.

The House bill provides $540.0 million, a decrease of $69.7 million or 11.4 percent below current funding.

The report states: “The recommendation includes no funding for the new Climate Model Development and Validation activity.”

Anyone the least bit familiar with either (1) the spewings of climate deniers, or (2) those who might accept climate change, and even its anthropogenic origins, but who dispute the forecast because of the poor quality of climate model projections can realize that the solution to this problem is to improve climate models. Indeed, this is the upshot of the pair of blog posts I made, with Professor John Carlos Baez’ help, here and here.

However, consistent with their rejection of climate-related funding for NOAA, and bolstering funding for short-term forecasting at the Department of Commerce’s Weather Service, the House, in its infinite wisdom, is burying its head in the sand, not wanting to know, and not wanting to develop the means to know.

This kind of thing makes me highly skeptical any political mechanism can advance our state of realization. It also makes me increasingly skeptical about any desire I might have to participate in this farce, since those who fight the “other side” help support it.

We are heading for another “Sputnik moment”. I just hope it comes sooner rather than later, so that the cost in pain, and lives, and damage will be less.

A pox on all the political houses: You are fools. And the people who elect you just slightly better.

Addendum, 20th June 2014, 15:25 ET.

Naturally, there’s plenty of money for building and maintaining nuclear weapons, devices which have highly questionable military utility. Remember, the climate model portion of the proposed DOE budget is no bigger than $70 million, and the House language specifically prohibits redirecting funds for the purpose. This means, probably, not using the DOE’s bigger computing complexes to get better results.


(Click picture to see larger image.)

Addendum, 21st June 2014, 18:04 ET.

How can we improve them? Well, my blog post of the past couple of weeks at Azimuth talked about that at the end of its second installment, but here’s another way:

  1. C. Macilwain, “A touch of the random”, Science, 344(6189), 14 June 2014, 1221-1223,
  2. R. Olson, R. Sriver, M. Goes, N. M. Urban, H. D. Matthews, M. Haran, K. Keller, “A climate sensitivity estimate using Bayesian fusion of instrumental observations and an Earth System model”, Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 117(D4), 27 Feb 2012,
  3. N. M. Urban, K. Keller, “Probabilistic hindcasts and projections of the coupled climate, carbon cycle, and Atlantic meridional overturning circulation system: A Bayesian fusion of century-scale observations with a simple model”, Tellus A, 62 (2010), 737–750. Also
    available at

These approaches are sketched in the tutorial article, “Monte Carlo methods in climate science“, by John Carlos Baez and David Tweed, Math Horizons, November 2013.

Addendum, 1st July 2014, 10:16 ET.

The U.S. House of Representatives passes funding for NOAA that continues to omit the increase of funding for climate research, respite efforts by Representative Rush Holt (D-NJ) and other Democrats to reinstate by amendment $37.5 million transferred from other NOAA accounts. As noted above, the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) received a budget of about $11.5 billion.

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