The DICEy Flaws in Carbon Models: Chris Wood

German coal power plant. Photo: Arnold Paul, Creative Commons

Economists Simon Dietz and Nicholas Stern have published some startling findings about the current DICEy models used to estimate the social price of carbon. Chris Wood explains in today’s Natural Security column, excerpt here:

A common line of attack for the propagandists, and the misled who imagine we are not altering Earth’s climate, is that climate projections rely on models. Models! Not the real thing. Why, they could be as made-up as a model of the space ship Enterprise! Pure fiction. 

Of course, the richly researched ‘models’ that forecast where our climate is headed with increasing precision, are nothing of the sort. They are, in essence, mathematical mashups of the observed relationships that drive the real climate: how ocean currents move heat from here to there; how air masses transport moisture and more heat; how both are transferred where air and water, or air and land, meet; how different amounts of atmospheric gasses contain or release more heat from the planet. These relationships aren’t made up; they’re dictated by nature. And the models’ generally close match with reality, when ‘run’ against the known past, confirms their accuracy.

But there’s another kind of climate model. It’s one that tries to marry what scientists know about the dynamics of the global climate, to the very similar sorts of mathematical models that economists create to describe the marketplace. It’s called a “Dynamic Integrated Climate Economy” model — DICE. Its point is to determine just how much damage future climate change will really do to the economy — and therefore how much money it’s worth spending today to avoid that damage …

It turns out that the “industry standard” for such models today, the one that guides most government and large business decisions about how seriously to take climate change, takes some remarkable, and dangerously misleading short-cuts  …. read more (subscription required*)

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The Climate Models are Wrong!  (Just not the models you think)

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