We shouldn’t be too hard on modern-day techno-soothsayers for often- badly-failed prophesies (sometimes they get it pretty close to right), neither should we trust them as infallible oracles for establishing enormously important government policies impacting expansive aspects of our national economy, society, and personal lives.
It would be impossible to provide two more dramatic illustrations of consequential model-based influences upon policies than those associated with the very real COVID-19 pandemic, and the purported climate change "crisis."
We've finally been hearing some very good news that early model-based coronavirus projections have proved to greatly exaggerated fatal casualty numbers.
Though still tragically high, recall that the 60,000 U.S. deaths predicted today are a great deal more fortunate than the estimate of between 100,000 to 240,000 mortalities projected at President Trump’s March 31 White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing.
Key White House Coronavirus Task Force member Dr. Anthony Fauci explained the moving target projection dilemma, "When someone creates a model, they put in various assumptions. And the models are only as good and as accurate as the assumptions you put into them. As we get more data, as the weeks go by, that might change. We feed the data back into the models and relook at the models."
Add to this, models are only as good as the number of variables they can handle, and the data quality for every variable. Whereas no current model can be expected to factor in all of the hundreds of infection, treatment, death and other variables associated with COVID-19, by comparison, the Earth’s climate is vastly more complex.
One of the few predictions that the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) ever got right was in the chapter titled "Model Evaluation" of their "2001 Summary Report for Policymakers."
It confesses, "In climate research and modeling, we should realize that we are dealing with a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore that the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible."
IPCC demonstrates their predictive incapability through their own consistently failed climate modeling results. Comparing previous projections of their nearly one hundred different General Circulation Models (GCMs) with satellite records — the most accurate temperature measurements available — they don’t match up well at all with reality.
Most run more than 0.5 degree Fahrenheit above observed average temperatures, and where "highest-ever" records are quoted, they are typically mere hundredths of a degree above records from 50 to 80 years ago.
Whereas no informed person I know disputes the fact that the Northern Hemisphere has been warming in fits and starts since the end of the Little Ice Age in the mid-1800’s, documented records will show that there have been no accelerations in rates of sea level rise nor frequencies or severities of extreme weather episodes over more than the past century.
Nevertheless, draconian Green New Deal policy proposals based upon consistently overheated IPCC models call for banishing fossil fuels that provide 80% of U.S. and global energy; decimating essential, reliable electricity supplies; closing down countless industries, companies and jobs; and impoverishing our quality of life.
Particularly egregious, Climategate scandal emails revealed rampant climate recording and model manipulations. As one scientist observed, "It is inconceivable that policymakers will be willing to make billion-and trillion-dollar decisions for adaptation to the projected regional climate change based on models that do not even describe and simulate the processes that are the building blocks of climate variability."
Whereas IPCC has always been more about political science than climate, we should have no such qualms whatsoever regarding the full-blown dedication of many very competent medical research organizations that are now urgently scrambling to contain the coronavirus catastrophe.
This being said, modeling of constantly shifting geographic coronavirus outbreak trend data may be as much art as science.
The promising news here is that conditions in most parts of the nation are less dire than early models predicted.
Projections of the so-called Murray Model of the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation have reportedly been changed substantially downward because their early modeling was based largely on data that came from China. As stated, "The time from implementation of social distancing to the peak of the epidemic in the Italy and Spain location is shorter than what was observed in Wuhan."
The Murray Model’s March 26 study team report also noted that while its calculations accounted for population age structure, "many other factors may influence trajectory: the prevalence of chronic lung disease, the prevalence of multi-morbidity, population density, use of public transport, and other factors that can influence the immune response."
Unfortunately, decisions — such as when and how the country can emerge from this economically and socially destructive shutdown — can’t wait until perfect model data is possible. By that time, recovery opportunities will be far too late; for our nation, for our industries and businesses, for our society, and for the health of us all.
When models fail, we’ll just have to revert back to depending more on the old school sort of leadership with good common sense judgement that made America great in the first place.
Larry Bell is an endowed professor of space architecture at the University of Houston where he founded the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture (SICSA) and the graduate program in space architecture. He is the author of several books, including "Cyberwarfare: Targeting America, Our Infrastructure, and Our Future" (2020), "The Weaponization of AI and the Internet: How Global Networks of Infotech Overlords are Expanding Their Control Over Our Lives" (2019), "Reinventing Ourselves: How Technology is Rapidly and Radically Transforming Humanity" (2019), "Thinking Whole: Rejecting Half-Witted Left & Right Brain Limitations" (2018), "Reflections on Oceans and Puddles: One Hundred Reasons to be Enthusiastic, Grateful and Hopeful" (2017), "Cosmic Musings: Contemplating Life Beyond Self" (2016), "Scared Witless: Prophets and Profits of Climate Doom" (2015) and "Climate of Corruption: Politics and Power Behind the Global Warming Hoax" (2011). He is currently working on a new book with Buzz Aldrin, "Beyond Footprints and Flagpoles." To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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