Keep an eye on high school climate modeling

The incoming Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) present both a serious challenge and a big opportunity for skeptics of climate change alarmism. Many States are adopting the NGSS, which change the way climate science is taught in a number of important ways. In High School the biggest change is in the use of questionable climate models, which is now required. How this is done is still being decided and here skeptics can have a say.

Students are now required to use climate model output to forecast future climate impacts. The exact NGSS wording is this:

Analyze geoscience data and the results from global climate models to make an evidence-based forecast of the current rate of global or regional climate change and associated future impacts to Earth systems.”

(HS-ESS3-5)

Climate alarmism is based almost entirely on the questionable output of climate models, especially speculative adverse future impacts, so there are several big issues here.

First of all, which model’s output will the students use? There are hundreds of climate models out there and different models give very different results. In particular, some models show dangerous future warming while others do not. The same is true for regional precipitation. Some models show a given region becoming dangerously wetter, while others show the same region being dangerously dryer. Still others show no serious change. There is no such thing as “what the models show” because no two models show the same thing.

The point is that one model can be chosen for student use, which supports alarmism, while another does not. Skeptics need to be vigilant, looking to see which model or models are being used in a given State’s or District’s schools. For that matter, how are the models chosen? Who makes this decision and on what basis?

What should actually be taught is that the models hugely disagree, not what some one model says. There is a clear need for high school level materials that teach this fact. It is imperative that individual climate models not be taught as providing realistic future forecasts, which is how alarmists tend to view them.

Then too we know that all of the major models run much warmer than reality. In fact this glaring over-prediction of warming is a big research area in climate science. That all the climate models are presently unreliable should also be taught whenever a model is used.

Today’s climate models are like video games, fun to play with but not to be taken seriously. High school students can understand the difference between a computer game and reality. It is the alarmists who take climate models entirely too seriously.

It is up to skeptics to step in and make sure that this NGSS climate modeling requirement does not support alarmism. There are two ways to do this and both are needed. The first is to develop teaching materials that clearly lay out the simple fact that climate models are not pictures of reality. They are just computer games. The second is to closely monitor the implementation of this requirement, to see what models are used and how their output is presented.

Teaching that climate models are not to be trusted is very different from the usual high school science class, which normally teaches scientific facts. New teaching methods and materials will be required. This is a great chance for students to see how science actually works, how it struggles to understand a complex world. Debate is the essence of the scientific method.

Now is the time to join the fight for teaching climate skepticism in school.

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About the Author: David Wojick, Ph.D.

David Wojick is a journalist and policy analyst. He holds a doctorate in epistemology, specializing in the field of Mathematical Logic and Conceptual Analysis.

  • Russ Wood

    “Evidence based”? Isn’t this the standard problem of the warmists? Treating model output (ie the result of a ‘game’) as fact? The FIRST thing to do is to show the difference between actual and modelled data – and to teach the kids to distinguish between them..

    • David Wojick

      True enough, Russ, but “actual data” is itself problematic. The surface temperature data is being adjusted to show warming that the satellites say is not there. Plus the models are tuned to match the historical surface statistics. So the models are being made to look better than they actually are.