Computer models that simulate and predict future climate change patterns are far from accurate according to climate scientist Kevin Anderson of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change at the University of Manchester. Anderson believes that this is because the Integrated Assessment Models (IAM’s) that are widely used by researchers to predict the future of climate change are built on assumptions. Anderson believes that these assumptions are very optimistic and do not highlight the reality.
“The vast majority of IAM’s assume low emission growth rates; early emission peaks; annual reduction rates limited to between 2 and 4%; untested geo-engineering; and a high penetration of nuclear power alongside untested ‘carbon capture and storage’ technologies. Because IAMs typically use similar and inappropriate sets of assumptions, they repeatedly come up with the same narrow and fundamentally flawed answers,” said Anderson.
“This requires radical changes in behaviour, particularly from those of us with very high energy consumption, but as long as the scientists continue to spread the message that we will be ok if we all make a few small changes, then climate change will never be on top of the policy agenda and we will fail to meet our international commitments to avoid a 2°C rise,” he said.
Anderson believes that much of the published research is highly optimistic and that the issue of climate change is not effectively highlighted because of reasons such as economics and politics.
“The reality is far more depressing, but many scientists are too afraid to stand up and speak out for fear of being ridiculed. Our job is not to be liked but to give a raw and dispassionate assessment of the scale of the challenge faced by the global community,” he said.
Anderson admitted that many people didn’t want to face up to the reality of climate change, but the scientist insists that it is better to give the public the most accurate rather than avoiding the issues. “Too many models use an extrapolation of old data and this gives results that are too optimistic. When I present my findings I am often pulled apart for taking away people’s hope, but what these models are giving us is false hope. Surely that is worse?” he said.
“All too often, climate change is described as a problem of the future, but climate change is a cumulative problem that needs to be tackled now. And this can only be done if researchers use realistic data and report brutally honest results, no matter how disturbing or depressing,” added Anderson.
Article by ciaran hogg, appearing courtesy Justmeans.