To the Editor:

I’m writing to offer a fact check of Gordon Kelly’s recent letter, in which he questioned the accuracy of climate models. The fact is, the day before his letter appeared (but most likely after he wrote it), a comprehensive new study was released that confirmed that most of the models have been right all along, they just weren’t fed correct inputs because the correct inputs were not (and could not have been) precisely known at the time. When rerun with inputs of greenhouse gas (GHG) levels we have now observed, they were found to be generally quite accurate. 

Mr. Kelly did not mention specific models he takes issue with, but many skeptics have pointed to NASA’s James Hansen’s 1988 model, so I’ll use it for an example. In 1988 Hansen predicted 50% more warming than has actually happened. It turns out that Hansen assumed higher levels of methane and hydrofluorocarbons (famous for damaging the now-recovering ozone layer) than were actually emitted. When rerun with accurate levels of GHGs, Hansen’s model correctly predicts the warming that has happened since 1988. 

Similar results were found with most models, dating back to 1970. Of the 17 that were looked at, 14 were accurate, two indicated less warming than has been observed, and one indicated more warming than has been observed.

In other words, there is actually no significant problem with the models. 

Beyond the nitty gritty of individual models, the big picture is this: climate change is happening, it is human-driven, and it needs to be addressed, now. The warning issued by 11,000 scientists last month and many other sources are very clear about what is at stake. 

Good scientists try to prove themselves wrong, not right. I think we’d all prefer it if this weren’t the reality, but here we are. 

If each of us wants to be a part of the solution rather than continuing to endanger present and future generations, it’s time to get real, get read, and quit spreading mis- and disinformation. Denial doesn’t make a problem go away. The facts here are not difficult, but they are momentous. And facts remain important. 

I’m 24. Time is running out. My future — all of our futures — and every living thing on this planet depends on what we as a species do next. 

Molly Verhey



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