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Are global warming forecasts scientific? Evidence from a forecasting audit and a validation study

Authors:
Are global warming forecasts
scientific?
Evidence from a forecasting audit
and a validation study
Kesten C Green
kesten@me.com
University of South Australia
RMIT, 12:30PM July 29, 2011
Green & Armstrong
forecasting audit
“Global Warming: Forecasts by Scientists versus
Scientific Forecasts” in E&E (2007) 18(7+8)*
• Experts on forecasting methods, not climate
• No funding for research on climate forecasting
• Sponsorship from the International Institute of
Forecasters for publicpolicyforecasting.com
and theclimatebet.com
*available at publicpolicyforecasting.com
2publicpolicyforecasting.com
The Forecasting Problem
For policy recommendations based on
global warming, forecasts must be
accurate for each of the following:
1. Long-term temperature change
2. Effects of temperature changes
3. Effects of feasible policy changes
3publicpolicyforecasting.com
Do we know enough to forecast
climate changes?
(Or, is the science really settled… this time?)
“It is once for all clear… that the earth is in
the middle of the world
Ptolemy, 2nd Century A.D.
“There is… growing consensus among
leading climatologists that the world is
undergoing a cooling trend.
CIA report, 1974
4publicpolicyforecasting.com
What are scientific forecasts?
“Forecasts derived from evidence-based
methods
Evidence from over half a century of research in
Economics Psychology
Finance Marketing
Weather Production and inventory
Sociology Engineering
Medicine Demography
etc.
Summarized as 140 principles
forecastingprinciples.com (or ForPrin.com)
(first in Google search for “Forecasting”)
Principles of Forecasting (Armstrong 2001)
(39 authors and 123 reviewers)
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Examples of principles
Avoid experts unaided* judgments
Avoid complex models
Be conservative when uncertainty is high
* Unaided by scientific forecasting principles
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Is climate change immune
from forecasting principles?
People who assert yes have
been unable to provide any
supporting evidence.
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Forecasts from climate modelers
Some climate modelers claim that their models
do not make forecasts.
However, other climate modelers do claim to
make forecasts:
“forecast” and derivatives occurred 37 times, and
“predict” and derivatives 90 times in Chapter 8 of the
2007 IPCC report.
Climate experts use models to express their
judgmentsthe assumptions that go in, “tuning”,
and adjustments to what comes out. Thus, they
make “expert forecasts.
8publicpolicyforecasting.com
“Today’s scientists have substituted
mathematics for experiments, and
they wander off through equation
after equation and eventually build a
structure which has no relation to
reality.”
Nikola Telsa, inventor and electrical engineer,
1934.
9publicpolicyforecasting.com
Can experts make useful
climate forecasts?
Armstrong (1978) summarized studies to date:
people with much expertise are no better at
forecasting than those with little expertise.
Tetlock (20 0 5 ) : e valuated 8 2 , 3 6 1 f o recasts m a d e
over 20 years by 284 professional commentators
and advisors on politics and economics and found
that expertise did not lead to better forecasts.
(Fortunately for pundits, the Seer-sucker theory offers hope:
No matter how much evidence exists that seers do
not exist, seers will find suckers.” (A rm s tr ong 1 9 7 8 ))
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Identifying key papers on
forecasting climate change
Sent requests to 240 climate experts (70% were
IPCC authors or reviewers),
“We want to know which forecasts people regard
as the most credible and how those forecasts were
derived…
In your opinion, which scientific article is the
source of the most credible forecasts of global
average temperatures over the rest of this
century?”
51 people sent responses, of which
42 included references, of which
30 referred to latest IPCC report
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Scientific Literature
in IPCC Chapter 8
Of the roughly 650 references cited in
IPCC Ch. 8, none had any obvious
relationship to scientific forecasting
methods
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Forecasting audit process
All elements of the forecasting process
were examined independently by two
people to:
identify relevant principles
assess whether proper
procedures were used.
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Audit of IPCC Chapter 8
127 of the 140 principles in Forecasting
Audit were relevant.
Authors rated the forecasting procedures
independently, then resolved differences
via email.
89 principles rateable.
72 principles contravened.
13% of principles properly applied.
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Some contraventions
Use simple forecasting methods:û
Test on out-of-sample data: û
Provide easy access to data: û
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Full disclosure &
open peer review
Our audit is fully-disclosed at
publicpolicyforecasting.com
All invited to apply the Forecasting Audit
to Ch. 8or to another climate
forecasting paper and publish on
publicpolicyforecasting.com
We welcome commentary and continuing
peer review of our paper.
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17
Validation study
publicpolicyforecasting.com
Green, Armstrong, & Soon
validation study
GAS (2009). Validity of climate change forecasting
for public policy decision making. International
Journal of Forecasting, 25, 826-832.*
• Experts on forecasting methods, and climate
• No funding for this research
• Sponsorship from the International Institute of
Forecasters for publicpolicyforecasting.com
and theclimatebet.com
*available at publicpolicyforecasting.com
18publicpolicyforecasting.com
19
Characteristics of
temperature series
Temperature varies over time, but
No persistent trend
Apparent short and long trends
Of varied length
That reverse without warning
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Antarctic temperature changes
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21
Hadley annual temperature 1850-2008
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Graph from drroyspencer.com
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Satellite-based temperature anomalies: 1979 -June 2011
The question is, can we forecast
what will happen over the 21st
Century?
“A trend is a trend is a trend
But the question is, will it bend?
Will it alter its course
Through some unforeseen force
And come to a premature end?
Cairncross (1969)
No scientific forecasts to date
Climate is complex.
Uncertainty is high
causes of changes are disputed,
causal factors are difficult to forecast,
data are subject to error.
In such conditions, climate models, even if
properly developed forecasting models, will
struggle to beat the simple naïve model,
which assumes complete ignorance about
climate.
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25
Conditions favor
conservatism
Many opinions by experts, but no
evidence that the climate is
different now
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26
No-change benchmark model
Tempyear+1,2,…100 = Tempyear
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Test of the benchmark
Used HadCRUt3 “best estimate” of global
mean temperatures from 1850 to 2007
Each year’s temperature a forecast for up to
100 subsequent years
157 one-year-ahead forecasts…
58 hundred-year-ahead forecasts
10,750 forecasts across all horizons
Absolute errors calculated vs HadCRUt3
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Validity of IPCC projection: 1851-
1975 *
IPCC/No-change error ratio** < 1 means forecast errors
are smaller (better) than no-change errors
IPCC/No-change Error
Ratio n
Rolling (1-100 years) 7.7 10,750
1-10 years 1.5 1,205
41-50 years 6.8 805
91-100 years 12.6 305***
* Green, Armstrong & Soon (2009).
** A.k.a. Cumulative Relative Absolute Error or CumRAE
*** Covers only 1941 through 2007
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Summary
Policy decisions require scientific long term
forecasts of temperature and effects of
policies
Such forecasts do not exist
Climate data and knowledge are uncertain,
and climate is complex
The situation calls for simple methods and
conservative forecasts
The no-change benchmark performs well
IPCC projections do not compare well
Scientific forecasting suggests appropriate
policy decision is “don’t just do something,
stand there!
Conclusions with respect to
the forecasting process
There are no scientific forecasts of:
(1) manmade global warming, or
(2) net harmful effects due to warming, or
(3) net beneficial effects from proposed policies.
Forecasts of dangerous manmade global warming are
the product of an anti-scientific political movement.
Enormous expenditures on forecasting lead to a
loss of objectivity*.
*See Kealey’s “Economics laws of scientific research” or “Sex,
science, & profits” 31
publicpolicyforecasting.com
“ Czech President Klaus: Global
Warming Not Science, but a 'New
Religion’ ”
"Politicians and their fellow travelers, the media and
the business community, simply understood that this
is a very good topic to take on. It's an excellent idea
to escape from the current reality. Not to solve the
crisis, but to talk about the world in 2050, 2080,
2200. This is for them an excellent job. They will not
be punished by the voters for making a totally wrong
decision, a wrong forecast."
President Vaclav Klaus
Graduate of University of Economics, Prague
Gene J. Koprowski, FoxNews.com, 18 December 2009
http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2009/12/18/czech-president-klaus-global-warming-
science-new-religion/32
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Analogies in forecasting
Analogies are commonly used
in an unstructured manner, and
after making a forecast in order to support the
forecast.
Analogies do contain useful information and
can aid forecasts
if identified and analyzed by experts…
in a structured and unbiased manner.
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Has anything similar happened
before?*
Alarms based on predictions of serious
harm that could only be averted at
great cost.
*Green & Armstrong (2007). Structured
Analogies in Forecasting, International Journal
of Forecasting, 23 365-376: provides evidence
on validity of forecasting with “structured
analogies”
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List of the 26 relevant analogies
Population growth and famine (Malthus) 1798
Timber famine economic threat 1865
Uncontrolled reproduction and degeneration (Eugenics) 1883
Lead in petrol and brain and organ damage 1928
Soil erosion agricultural production threat 1934
Asbestos and lung disease 1939
Fluoride in drinking water health effects 1945
DDT and cancer 1962
Population growth and famine (Ehrlich) 1968
Global cooling; through to 1975 1970
Supersonic airliners, the ozone hole, & skin cancer, etc.1970
Environmental tobacco smoke health effects 1971
Population growth and famine (Meadows) 1972
Industrial production and acid rain 1974
Organophosphate pesticide poisoning 1976
Electrical wiring and cancer, etc. 1979
CFCs, the ozone hole, and skin cancer, etc. 1985
Listeria in cheese 1985
Radon in homes and lung cancer 1985
Salmonella in eggs 1988
Environmental toxins and breast cancer 1990
Mad cow disease (BSE) 1996
Dioxin in Belgian poultry 1999
Mercury in fish effect on nervous system development 2004
Mercury in childhood inoculations and autism 2005
Cell phone towers and cancer, etc. 2008
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Government intervention was called for
in 25 of the 26 analogous situations
Government actions typically called for:
• Increased government taxes
• Increased government spending
• Restricting individual liberties
36
publicpolicyforecasting.com
How accurate were
the alarming forecasts?
Preliminary coding revealed of the forecasts made in the 26
analogous situations:
!categorically wrong 19
!wrong in degree 7
!accurate 0
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Did government intervention help?
Among the 23 analogous situations in which
government policies were implemented:
n
Harm was caused 20
Policies were ineffective/uncertain 3
Policies were effective 0
38
publicpolicyforecasting.com
Conclusions about the
global warming alarm movement
We predict that the global warming alarm movement will
follow the same path as those traced out by the 26
analogies:
1.The alarming forecasts will be seen to be unreliable.
2.The imposition of costs will be unpopular.
3.Governments will avoid or cheat on agreements in order
to reduce costs.
4.Government actions will nevertheless continue to cause
widespread harm.
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Alarms based on bad
forecasting
are a familiar social
phenomenon
“As soon as one predicted disaster doesn't
occur, the doomsayers skip to another... why
don't [they] see that, in the aggregate, things
are getting better? Why do they always think
we're at a turning pointor at the end of the
road?”
Julian Lincoln Simon, 1990
“On what principle is it that when we see
nothing but improvement behind us, we are to
expect nothing but deterioration before us?”
Thomas Babington Macaulay, 1830
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publicpolicyforecasting.com
The working paper and
analogy list are available
at publicpolicyforecasting.com
“Effects of the global warming alarm: A forecasting project
using the structured analogies method”
Green and Armstrong (2011)
We welcome your suggestions and analogy
codings.
kesten@me.com
41publicpolicyforecasting.com
QUESTIONS?
What causes temperature change?
42
-0.8
-0.7
-0.6
-0.5
-0.4
-0.3
-0.2
-0.1
0
0.1
0.2
0.3
0.4
0.5
0.6
0.7
Hadley Temperature Series
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Does the increase in consumer price
index causes global temperatures to rise?
43
y= 0.0003x -0.324
R2= 0.72
-0.8
-0.7
-0.6
-0.5
-0.4
-0.3
-0.2
-0.1
0
0.1
0.2
0.3
0.4
0.5
0.6
0.7
0500 1000 1500 2000 2500 3000
Hadley Temperature Series
Price Index
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Correlations between global temperatures
and upwardly mobile time series
44
Series Correlation
Atmospheric CO21850-2008 0.86
U.S. Postal rates 1885-2009 0.85
U.S. Price Index 1850-2009 0.85
NOAA* expenditure 1970-2006 0.82
Books published in U.S. 1881-2008 0.73
No change (naïve model) 0.00
*National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
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Causal model out-of-sample*
forecasting performance
“Causal” variable WtdCumRAE**
U.S. Price Index 1850-2009 0.6
Naïve Model 1.0
NOAA expenditure 1970-2006 1.1
Atmospheric CO21850-2008 1.9
Books published in U.S. 1881-2008 2.1
U.S. Postal rates 1885-2009 14.0
*Models estimated using 1st half of data series (e.g. 1850-1929 for the U.S.
Price Index series), then models used to forecast the 2nd half temperatures
(e.g. 1930-2009 for the U.S. Price Index series) using actual values of the
“causal” variable.
**Weighted Cumulative Relative Absolute Error; relative to no-change
benchmark, weighted so that errors for each forecasting horizon are
counted equally. (Note: WtdCumRAE < 1 means more accurate than
benchmark.)
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Fit not related to forecast accuracy
Results from this validation study
consistent with research on time-
series forecasting:
correlation Error
with temp ratio*
Naïve model 0.00 1.0
IPCC 0.86 7.7
* Averaged over all forecast horizons
46
publicpolicyforecasting.com
“The Precautionary Principle
It is a political principle. . . if the government is persuaded
that there is a risk with a high possible cost, there is no
need for a rational analysis.
Contrary to scientific analyses of costs and benefits.
Brings to mind the slogan on the Ministry of Truth building
in George Orwell’s 1984: “Ignorance is Strength.”
Scientific forecasting suggests appropriate policy decision is
“don’t just do something, stand there!”
For more see “Evidence-based forecasting for climate
change: Uncertainty, the Precautionary Principle, and
Climate Change” on theclimatebet.com Sept 1, 2008
What is needed to forecast the effects
of policies to stop climate change?
Scientific forecasts for alternative possible
policies:
how they would actually be implemented
all their effects
all the costs and benefits of all their effects
48
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ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
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Primarily, policies are intended to address economic, social and environmental problems. When implementing a policy, any government will be faced with the decision as to what strategy to adopt in order to meet the objectives set out by the policy in the most cost effective way. Several such Policy Implementation Strategies (PIS) may be available, making such a decision not so straightforward. With limited funds available, such a decision has particular importance for budgeting. This paper proposes forecasting PIS effectiveness as a decision support tool. The nature of Structured Analogies (SA) is considered suitable for generating such forecasts. A simpler version of SA, semi-structured analogies (S-SA), where experts do not need to recollect the exact outcome of analogies, is tested. Empirical findings suggest that in the hands of non-experts, the S-SA approach improves forecast accuracy when compared to unaided judgment. Accuracy improves further when forecasts are produced in groups.
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Purpose – Once a policy proposed by the European Commission is approved by European Parliament or Council, its implementation strategy is the responsibility of the member states. Often, there will be several parallel strategies shaped by a series of incentives financed by the government and naturally, the aim is to choose the most cost effective one. For strategy and planning as well as budgeting purposes, forecasts of the adoption rate of these policy implementation strategies will be an indicator as to their effectiveness. A new hybrid approach combining structured analogies and econometric modelling is proposed for producing such forecasts. Design/methodology/approach – With every different policy, there will be different qualitative and quantitative data available for producing such implementation strategy adoption rate forecasts. Hence, the proposed hybrid approach, which combines the strengths and reduces the weaknesses of each of its constituents, can be adjusted to match the quantity and nature of the available data. Findings – This paper reveals a lack of emphasis on such a forecasting application in the existing literature, while stressing its importance to governmental decision makers. What is more, the paper reveals a lack of documentation of this forecasting process in large governmental structures. Practical implications – If shown to improve the ability to produce such forecasts, the proposed approach could be very beneficial to decision makers when faced with several possible implementation strategies. Originality/value – The use of expertise is quite common in forecasting policy impact but in an unstructured way. The advanced model proposes structuring the use of analogies in an objective manner. Furthermore, combining with econometric modelling, the incorporation of valuable quantitative information is made possible.
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Sumario: Were the early scares justified by the evidence? Cranberries, Dieldrin, Saccharin -- PCBs and DDT: too much of a good thing? -- Dioxin, Agent Orange and Times Beach -- Love Canal: was there evidence of harm? -- Superfund's abandoned hazardous waste sites -- No runs, no hits, all errors: the asbestos and Alar Scares -- How does science matter? -- Do Rodent studies predict cancer in human beings? -- The effects of acid rain on the United States -- CFCs and ozone depletion -- Who's on first? A global warming scorecard -- Reporting environmental science -- Citizenship in science -- Detecting errors in environmental and safety studies -- Conclusion: Rejecting the precautionary principle