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Stochastic Modeling

Today’s forecast high for Lafayette was 12°C. The actual high was 17°C. I actually know a thing or two about the difficulties inherent in modeling complex non-linear systems, but given the amount of resources we’ve invested in this particular problem over the past half-century or so, we should be able to do a lot better. Twenty-four hours ahead of time, meteorologists know the angle of the sun, the atmospheric pressure (with reasonable error), and the prevailing winds at several altitudes. As if that weren’t enough, they also have access to the current weather upwind. Scientists in any other discipline would kill for that much data. And yet somehow, in this one area, we can’t even get close.

This is why I’m skeptical of global warming. Not the actual process of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, because the theory there is sound as far as I can tell, but any climatological model that purports to predict the temperature variation over the next century, or even decade. The standard test for these models should be to determine whether or not they can predict tomorrow’s high temperature within, say, 1°C, at least 37 days out of the year. I have to assume there is no model available that could pass the test, because if there was its developers would have sold it to the National Weather Service, and I would know whether or not to take a jacket with me in the morning.

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