Basic physics? Far from it. The greens are trying to sell this. A recent posting on this site has a video in which Carol Andress of the Environmental Defense Fund uses this line in a debate with Marc Morano. Ms Andress seems particularly ill informed so she had to resort to this line of “Just Basic Physics”.
Doug Hoffman on his blog site, The Resilient Earth, had this so say about Basic Physics:”
It should come as no surprise that General Circulation Models (GCM), the basis for more comprehensive computer climate models, are based on differential equations, as are weather forecasting models and hurricane path prediction models. As we all know, weather forecasts are not very accurate, only giving a general idea of conditions a few days out, and hurricane models generally cannot predict the point of landfall until just before a storm comes ashore. But GCMs are different from weather programs even though they use some of the same equations. That is a refrain often repeated by supercilious climate modelers. It is true that climate models also include extra factors like sea ice models and “parametrization” for things like clouds. Unfortunately for them their models are not immune to the laws of computation that make their short term cousins grow more and more inaccurate over time.”
“The figure above shows how GCMs have diverged from reality over the past two decades. The only reason that the models maintained a decent correlation with observed temperatures in the past is because the models were adjusted to match the historical record until recent times “
Hoffman says there are three factors that make the computer forecasts inaccurate. The first is the complexity of the climate system:
”How, you might ask, can a climate model generate so many different (and wrong) outcomes? If they are “basic physics” they must be based on the same equations, right? And there in lies the first major problem with climate models—Earth’s climate is far too complex and on too large a scale for any computer model to make an accurate guess at how it works. Consider for a moment what the models are trying to represent.
Every molecule in Earth’s atmosphere interacts with its neighbors, many different types of gas molecules, plus dust particles, ice crystals and other particulates. They also interact with the surface of the planet, solid surfaces made up of rock and dirt and soil. Some areas are covered with vegetation ranging from grass lands to Arctic tundra to forests. Elsewhere they interact with water, the surface of oceans frozen and tropical, pack ice and windblown tempests. The interface between air and Earth’s surface is a boundary zone and must be accurately modeled to get heat transfer right. Different surface areas are at different temperatures and can emit gases, primarily H2O, which can change the composition of the air above them. Evaporation absorbs heat and carries it into the atmosphere to be released later when the water condenses into ice crystals, clouds, and precipitation.
Similarly, water in the ocean flows around the planet, rising and sinking according to its density. Driven by Earth’s rotation and the wind, diverted by the continents and the topology of the ocean floor, water circulation is as complex as the atmosphere’s. Fresh water from the continents, precipitation and melting ice bring changes in salinity, which changes water density affecting circulation. Temperature also changes by radiating heat or absorbing radiation from sunlight, and interacting with the atmosphere.
There are roughly 1.09×1044 molecules in Earth’s atmosphere and 4.4×1046 in the oceans, many times more than stars in the Universe. Each one is interacting with its fellows, exchanging kinetic energy. Others are busy absorbing and re-emitting radiation, helping keep Earth at habitable temperatures. So throw in the Sun, changing seasons and the occasional volcanic eruption and it is easy to see why climate science has failed to accurately model Earth’s climate—there is no computer in the world capable of calculating more than a crude approximation of the climate machine that surrounds us.”
“The bottom line is that basic physics are not sufficient to solve this problem, so most of the detail is left out.”
“…. the second factor limiting the accuracy of climate models: climate scientists do not have data to set the initial conditions of their models and the data that they do have contains significant sensor errors. But that is just the beginning of what happens to uncertain data in a computer model simulation.
The third factor that helps render climate models wildly inaccurate is computational error. Most modelers are not computer scientists, for if they were they would not be so sanguine regarding the prognostications of the binary friends. There are many types of error that plague computer calculations.
“Most of the case for climate alarmism is based on the predictions of climate models. As we have seen, they are not good science, being poor representations of the natural climate system at best. They are plagued by inaccurate input data and doomed by error propagation to diverged wildly even from the make believe worlds they represent. Sadly, even ardent global warming advocates know the models are fatally flawed.”
Hoffman goes into more detail on each of the three factors. Hoffman’s postings are never simple, so if you turn off at three paragraphs, you won’t get the full benefit of his expertise. I suggest you read his full posting which can be reached by clicking here.