An IT expert’s view on climate modelling

Watts Up With That?

Computer circuit board and cd romGuest essay by Eric Worrall

One point struck me, reading Anthony’s fascinating account of his meeting with Bill McKibben. Bill, whose primary expertise is writing, appears to have an almost magical view of what computers can do.

Computers are amazing, remarkable, incredibly useful, but they are not magic. As an IT expert with over 25 years commercial experience, someone who has spent a significant part of almost every day of my life, since my mid teens, working on computer software, I’m going to share some of my insights into this most remarkable device – and I’m going to explain why my experience of computers makes me skeptical, of claims about the accuracy and efficacy of climate modelling.

First and foremost, computer models are deeply influenced by the assumptions of the software developer. Creating software is an artistic experience, it feels like embedding a piece of yourself into a machine…

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About Russ Steele

Freelance writer and climate change blogger. Russ spent twenty years in the Air Force as a navigator specializing in electronics warfare and digital systems. After his service he was employed for sixteen years as concept developer for TRW, an aerospace and automotive company, and then was CEO of a non-profit Internet provider for 18 months. Russ's articles have appeared in Comstock's Business, Capitol Journal, Trailer Life, Monitoring Times, and Idaho Magazine.
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One Response to An IT expert’s view on climate modelling

  1. gjrebane says:

    While Worrall makes a mighty effort to summarize some weaknesses in using computers to model the real world, his account comes off as a strictly lay summary of what has been hashed over for years. But his real shortcoming in computers is his apparent ignorance of these machines as tools for not just modeling but DISCOVERING solutions that were not programmed by humans, simply because humans had no idea that such a solution or solutions existed. Today computers are capable of such totally novel discoveries through their execution of evolutionary algorithms and even evolutionary programs that go where no man has gone before. But none of this subtracts from the arguments science (and computer science) presents against the untrammeled faith True Believers have in today’s general circulation models.

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