Would you bet your paycheck on a weather forecast?

“Starting in 1990, the IPCC stopped making forecasts – because they were never right.”
– Dr. Tim Ball and Tom Harris.


“The United Nations and its Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change insist that humanity and Planet Earth face unprecedented climate and weather cataclysms, due to our use of oil, natural gas and coal,” says Paul Driessen. “They base this claim primarily on computer models that generate “projections” or “scenarios” of what might happen over the next ten, fifty or one hundred years, if we continue burning these fuels.

“But these models are hopelessly at odds with what is actually happening in the real world. And yet, the news media, climate activists, politicians and regulators treat the “projections” and “scenarios” as predictions, to stir up public anxiety and justify draconian anti-fossil fuel policies. Dr. Tim Ball and Tom Harris ask: Would you bet your paycheck on a weather forecast 50 years into the future? Would you bet your job and living standards? Your children’s future? Should poor developing countries do so?”


Would you bet your paycheck on a weather forecast?

UN climate forecasts are consistently high … consistently wrong … and used to drive policy

By Dr. Tim Ball and Tom Harris

Dr. Thomas Sowell, Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, summarized the problem the world faces with climate change policy:  

Dr. Timothy Ball

“Would you bet your paycheck on the weather forecast for tomorrow? If not, then why should this country bet billions on global warming predictions that have even less foundation?”

Sowell is right to be skeptical. Meteorologists can’t forecast the weather much beyond 48 hours, as the degree of accuracy diminishes rapidly with every additional day. Yet the same weather agencies, often using the same computer models, since 1990 have said with almost absolute certainty that their 50- and 100-year forecasts are correct. They maintain this illusion today, even though all their long-term forecasts have been wrong.

Moreover, it’s not just your paycheck that you would be putting at risk. It’s reliable, affordable energy for everything you do, and for those you rely on for goods and services. It’s your living standards and future – and your children’s future.

It’s the health and well-being of every person in every modern, industrialized nation on earth – and of every person in poor developing countries who dreams of having living standards and opportunities approaching those we are blessed with.

Tom Harris

The global warming deception worked because most people don’t know the difference between weather, climate and meteorology. This confusion arose partly because of the historical development of each.

Climate came first, with the word originating from the Greek word for inclination. The ancient Greeks realized that the climate of a region, and how it changed through the year, was primarily determined by the angle of the Sun’s rays. Beyond that, they used evidence from experience and historical patterns.

Aristotle’s student and philosophical successor Theophrastus (371–287 BC) wrote the book Meteorological Phenomena, sometimes called the Book of Signs. Theophrastus was not referring to astrological signs, but weather signs such as the red sky observation that is neatly summed up by the old, and generally correct, adage: “Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning. Red sky at night, sailors’ delight.”

The Greeks developed short-term forecasts based on observations made over hundreds of years. This use of long-term signs to try and determine short-term weather pervades and guides all communities because of its impact on their food supply. This became more important when humans switched from hunter-gatherer to sedentary agricultural subsistence.

Some simple definitions are important for the public to understand.

Weather is the total of the atmospheric conditions at any given moment. It includes thousands of inputs from cosmic radiation from deep space, heating energy from the bottom of the oceans and everything in between.

Climate is the average weather conditions, and how they change, at a given location, over an extended period of time. While one can describe “daily climate,” obtained by averaging the 24-hourly readings or averaging the minimum and maximum readings in a 24-hour period, much longer periods are normally studied by climatologists. The choice of the beginning and end point of climate studies determines the overall trend. By “cherry picking” this time interval, you can demonstrate virtually any trend you want.

For example, the general temperature trend of the last 140 years was warming, but the trend of the last 1,000 years was cooling. That is why the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) tried to rewrite the historical temperature record over the past millennium to eliminate the Medieval Warm Period. It finally had to restore the Warm Period, which existed across Europe and Asia, and is recorded in multiple Chinese texts from that era.

Similarly, you can study climates of various regions, although forecasting regional climate is fraught with uncertainties. Dr. Tim Palmer, leading climate modeler at the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, summed the situation up well in a 2008 New Scientist magazine article:

“I don’t want to undermine the IPCC, but the forecasts, especially for regional climate change, are immensely uncertain.”

Meteorology is the study of the physics of the atmosphere and is the term people associate most with weather forecasting. Meteorologists maintain that their physics is correct. Then why are their forecasts so often wrong? The answer is inferred in mathematician and philosopher A.N. Whitehead’s comment that,

“There is no more common error than to assume that, because prolonged and accurate mathematical calculations have been made, the application of the result to some fact of nature is absolutely certain.”

The IPCC defends its long-term climate forecasts by maintaining that a weather forecast is different from a climate forecast. But climate is an average of the weather, and one cannot generate accurate results by averaging inaccurate ones.

Thus, starting in 1990, the IPCC stopped making forecasts – because they were never right. Instead they began publishing a range of “projections.” Yet, they too were hopelessly at odds with what actually happened in the real world. Worse, the news media, climate activists, politicians and regulators treat the “projections” as predictions, or forecasts, for purposes of stirring up public anxiety and trying to justify draconian anti-fossil fuel policies.

Indeed, these failed projections underlay the extreme, economically damaging, and completely unnecessary policy prescriptions that were presented earlier this month at the UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany.

So, the answer to Sowell’s question is clear. No country – certainly not successful, developed nations like the United States or Canada – should bet a nickel of taxpayers’ money on the UN’s failed global warming predictions.

Poor, struggling, developing countries are even more strongly advised to ignore UN predictions and energy policy prescriptions – unless they want to be mired in poverty and misery for another century.


Dr. Tim Ball is an environmental consultant and former climatology professor at the University of Winnipeg in Manitoba. 

Tom Harris is executive director of the Ottawa, Canada-based International Climate Science Coalition.

17 thoughts on “Would you bet your paycheck on a weather forecast?

  1. Thank you Dr. Ball for your relentless crusade (if I may use that term) against the legions of half-wits and their fervent, unquestioning disciples. I admire your tenacity, your honesty, your stamina and more generally, your moxy! Please do keep it up and know that many stand behind you.

  2. The following caption has been seen on the Aljazeera TV-channel for the last few days: “Record November heat EXPECTED for Tasmania”( My capitals). Even today, the last day of November.
    Aussies, please comment.

    • The “record heat” involved a week or more of above 25°C temperatures – something that basically occurs in South East Queensland at ~27° South from September to April.

      Temperatures reached 30+°C at some point.

      I’m certain many northern hemisphere countries would describe that as beautiful summer weather !

      My sister moved to Tasmania more than 10 years ago to escape the six or seven months of “summer” we have here – she moved back a few months ago to escape the bone chilling cold.

      Tasmania is ~42 South and obviously much cooler than the sub tropics but I can recall temperatures in the capital Hobart from the 60’s and 70’s of 40+°C.

      I well remember the black Tuesday fires in Tasmania in 1967 and the more recent ones in 2013 and 2016.

      There is really nothing new in any of this alarmism – the climate is certainly not broken nor really much different to 50+ years ago – minimum temperature averages may have increased a tad but the cause is not certain.

      It could be the record breaking series of solar maximums of the late 20th century – December 1979 to circa 2008. It takes a long time to heat something as large as the Earth and it will take a long time to cool as well.

      It may not be but I have no doubt CO2 or the mythical greenhouse effect have nothing to do with anything of significance regarding weather or climate.

    • It was hot & humid in the southern states of Australia until now. The start of summer we now have major rain & predicted flooding & a drastic drop in temperature. The news of a major weather event coming hasn’t begun yet for us here in Victoria still waiting for it as they predicted it to be here 4 hours ago..another case of not accurately predicting the weather. But still I think it’s coming.

  3. Quote:
    Sowell is right to be sceptical. Meteorologists can’t forecast the weather much beyond 48 hours, as the degree of accuracy diminishes rapidly with every additional day. Yet the same weather agencies, often using the same computer models, since 1990 have said with almost absolute certainty that their 50- and 100-year forecasts are correct.
    There is another point to add – Tenured Green bias. Every Government Meteorologist, after all they are Civil Servants, has to have a degree to be in post. In order to gain that degree they have to jump though the hoops of fire set by Climate Ologists academia, and write the necessary dissertations which contain the AGW funding lines within them.
    Every publishing MSM Weather forecaster, particularly around IPCC propaganda events contains AGW propaganda statement blaming Solar/Oceanic Cyclic warming as Human Induced. Look at the columns called Weather eye in the Times, he has even inverted the amount of CO2 volcanic production for the world as 200 million tons and Billions of tons for the Human CO2 production.
    No doubt when the next series of T5-T8 volcanic eruptions occurs virtually no CO2 or SO2 will be emitted.

  4. GIGO (garbage in, garbage out) …

    of course if your assumptions are invalid (as it is when reality doesn’t measure up to your projections), ever so much bull dung.

    PS BTW, I’ve studied statistics, never heard there was a distinction between a projection and a forecast or prediction – don’t see anything in the article either that would make a clear distinction… any of you know what he means by that??

  5. wouldnt bet a dollar on a day ahead forecast!
    let alone grndiose “seers” at IPCC or elsewhere
    most on sth and est aus is in panic mode over huuuuge rains coming
    ive just looked at whats fallen and whats showing coming on radar and so far theyve bombed out bigtime!
    yeah theres lightning n thunder and some rain
    but nothing even near 30mm from SA across to the east in vic..claims of 100 to 250mm falling in brief periods..so far anyway not seeing that.

    • It’s been major news here in Victoria & we have gotten bugger all so far. I even cancelled a job as we new it was coming. As it turned out we could have done the work no problems with what little rain we had. The bombed out with this forecast so far but I suppose I better not speak to soon.

  6. Leftist Politico Alarmists piggy-backed two distinct and independent concepts: Climate Fear and Pristine Earth (Green), into their theorized portrayal of Man-produced CO2 – as being the sole Cause of present and future Multi-Catastrophic events. ..

    Whereas it is true that resources are precious and finite, and that Man pollutes the land, air and sea in various manners including introducing non-CO2 forms of Carbon such as soot, we’ve been witness to a Legion of horrific prognostications of all stripes which have not come to pass. The Globalist Alarmists always keep very quiet about their failures. Their controlled news outlets support them.

    There are three areas where the GWAlarmists have shown their stupidity…

    A) They shy from discussing the Climatic Influence of “Nature” for reason of not wanting to upset the applecart of their Sole Focus upon Man. ..
    B) Within the Norm, Warm is Good and Green (Cold has been the Killer)
    C) Ditto for CO2 (Plants/Food/Animals/Man).

    A Fully realized Multi-Trillion Dollar Global Carbon Taxation Schemes would reduce the already struggling average Joe into becoming a helpless destitute dependent upon his Controllers.

    Dare to Question / Deny Climate Alarmism? ..

    Canada now investigates ‘climate denial’


  7. Come on, get real. It does not matter if burning fossil fuels does or dors not cause climate change.

    Fossil fuels are finite resources, they won’t last forever, they probably won’t last this century, we need to go to renewables before the price and supply of oil and gas starts spiking and declining – circa 2050 according to BP estimates – and we need to do that ASAP regardless of whether the climate is warming, or cooling, or not changing at all.

    You guys love beating dead horses that don’t matter because they’re the wrong issue, but dead horses are so easy to beat.

    If the supply of oil and gas is not infinite (it isn’t), then we need to go to non-finite resources like solar and wind, end of story.

    • If people want to do this of their own volition, fine. Let the free market work its magic. But stop trying to shove it down our throats with debilitating laws and regulations.

    • I remember the oil price shocks of the 70’s and the resurrection of the peak oil scare. Peak oil has been a marketing tool for more than a century !

      According to the messages from the 70’s we should have been in hydrocarbon deprivation decades ago.

      Instead more and more hydrocarbons just keep turning up.

      “Saturn’s orange moon Titan has hundreds of times more liquid hydrocarbons than all the known oil and natural gas reserves on Earth, according to new data from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. The hydrocarbons rain from the sky, collecting in vast deposits that form lakes and dunes.”

      They must have had huge forests and mega herds of dinosaurs before the climate cataclysm.

      I think Dyson Freeman’s much maligned friend “Tommy Gold” was right when he said these hydrocarbons are formed in the Earth’s mantle or crust – volcanic heat and pressure and carbon, oxygen and other basic elements.

      The fossils found in hydrocarbon deposits are not the source but the unfortunate victims of being trapped and buried in a mass of hot hydrocarbon liquids or bituminous substances.

      Titan certainly establishes beyond doubt the fact that most hydrocarbons must come from something other than “fossils”.

    • Hi Ray,
      It’s interesting that the Greens exclude every other form of energy production other than Solar, Tidal and Wind, and at the same time levy massive taxes on any energy supplied to households and businesses to subsidise that investment. Investment in technology that has a 10 year life and not 50 to 70 years as in the major power stations being destroyed by Green put beyond use policies
      The vast majority of households in the UK are below the poverty line or just above it but below the so called living wage. This massive group of people are required to spend a significant amount of their weekly/monthly whole budget on energy, far in excess of the Social Elite minority you represent. That budget isn’t disposable income as in your case, it is fundamental living costs, in the UK at least a third of that mass of people now have to choose in winter of eating or freezing.
      India alone is sitting on sufficient Thorium to power the world’s current electricity supply requirement for 1000 years. Yet it is locked into the ground by the biased anti-development Green politics you represent.
      By all means make finite resources produce as much work as can be produced for a given WATT but not, at the expense of those least able to shoulder the burden, nor at the expense of the economy we all depend on for our living.
      And while we are at it make sure the data your projections and forecasts are based on real auditable data, given the real life experience of over the last 40 years of forecasts that show runaway heating due to the errors in the model and not in reality. You may also find that Hydrocarbon energy will still be abundant in 2250.

    • Ray most of us older people remember being “hyped” and to make what turned out to be some lousy choices over the 70s fearmongering by holdren ehrlich strong n the rest
      oil was going to run out by the 80s and so wascopper gas and food and anything else they could think would have people in panic..
      and yet?
      oil would apear to be abiotic and renewing itself, frakkings daft but they still burnoff/flare gas from oil rigs ffs!
      ever looked at the production filth from rare earths that are the requirements for those turbines n batteries at all..all of the manufacturing woulnt BE possible without fossil fuel that run the processes and made the machinery to make them

  8. No no and again, NO!
    Don’t trust ANY weather forecasts beyond a 4 day period. Most weather sites get their weather forecasts from mainly the GFS and the Euro statistical models. I remember very well in 2015/16 winter, the GFS was not able to predict anything right beyond 4 days at all – much less out to 10 days. The same goes for the NWS, which also uses the ECMWF and the GFS for medium range forecasts. Out to 3 days it’s normally quite reliable but beyond 5 days? Forget it!
    Just recently we had “Inaccuweather” tell us on Nov.13th that brutal cold and snow was supposed to hit the Midwest Thanksgiving weekend, with over 2 feet in some areas, remember anybody? That was out to 10 days and ended up totally wrong! Allot of this fallacy can be blamed on poor initial data input. So garbage in = garbage out.

  9. As this amateur forecaster (http://www.gavsweathervids.com/) often says when looking at long range climate based forecasts ( NOAA, UK Met Office, CFS, Beijing Climate Center, Meteorological Center Of Russia, APEC Climate Center, etc…) “anything beyond 3-5 days should be taken with a large pinch of salt”.

    Indeed just lately 3 days has been difficult for any of the weather models (ECMWF, NOAA, JMA, CANSIP, GFS, meteociel France, Meteofrance, etc…) to correctly predict the weather or how the Northern polar vortex will be moving.

  10. Where I live, you are lucky if they can come up with a forecast of the next day that comes anywhere close to what actually happens …

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