Why you should believe climate models


Many critics of the findings of climate science point quickly to flaws in climate models or even in the idea of modeling in general as a basis for understanding the earth system. Some believe that because we don’t understand all there is to know about the earth, we can’t possibly model it. But that is entirely wrong! In fact, if we knew everything there was to know about the earth system, there would be no need to model it. We use models to explore the things we don’t know by coming up with hypotheses to test. While they don’t give us a perfect picture of the reality of the earth system, climate scientists know this and take it into account. That’s why we’re eager to evaluate uncertainty and constantly improve our models. In the end, models are an invaluable tool for advancing climate science.

I saw this interesting article on Skeptical Science recently about the science behind climate models: “Why trust climate models? It’s a matter of simple science.” It explains a bit about how models are made and how they’re used.

The schematic given of a couple climate model is of the Community Earth System Model, which I used for my master’s research.

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3 thoughts on “Why you should believe climate models

  1. Great summary of the purpose and usefulness of models. I’m getting a little tired of the “all models are wrong therefore climate science is crap” frame of mind that seems to envelop some people.

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    • So true. The complete rejection of models is completely off base. At the same time, I don’t think our response should be that models are 100% correct because that’s just not true. It’s important to recognize that models may not be reality, but they do a good job at representing it.

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