‘Confidence in [comprehensive coupled] models [for anthropogenic global warming scenarios] is also gained from their emerging predictive capability. An example of this capability is the development of a hierarchy of models to study the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomena. . . . These models can predict the lower frequency responses of the climate system, such as anomalies in monthly and season averages of the sea surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific.’
On the contrary, with the results of this study, one could even have less confidence in anthropogenic global warming studies because of the lack of skill in predicting El Niño (or, alternatively, the inability of dynamical models to outperform relatively simple statistical schemes). The bottom line is that the successes in ENSO forecasting have been overstated (sometimes drastically) and misapplied in other arenas.
Landsea, Christopher W. and Knaff, John A.: „How much skill was there in Forecasting the very strong 1997-98 El Niño?”, in: Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 81, No. 9, 2000, P. 2107-2119.
Reiter et al.
For more than a decade, malaria has held a prominent place in speculations on the impacts of global climate change. Mathematical models that “predict” increases in the geographic distribution of malaria vectors and the prevalence of the disease have received wide publicity. Efforts to put the issue into perspective are rarely quoted and have had little influence on the political debate. The model proposed by Frank C Tanser and colleagues in The Lancet and the accompanying Commentary by Simon Hales and Alistair Woodward are typically misleading examples. The relation between climate and malaria transmission is complex and varies according to location, yet Tanser et al base their projections on thresholds derived from a mere 15 African locations. Slight adjustments of values assigned to such thresholds and rules can influence spatial predictions strongly.
Reiter, P.; Thomas, C.J.; Atkinson, P.M.; Hay, S.I. and Randolph, S.E.: „Global Warming and Malaria: A Call for Accuracy”, in: Lancet 4, No. 1, June 2004, P. 323-324.
Kaser et al.
In recent years, Kilimanjaro and its vanishing glaciers have become an icon of global warming, attracting broad interest. In this paper, a synopsis of (a) field observations made by the authors and (b) climatic data as reported in the literature (proxy and long-term instrumental data) is presented to develop a new concept for investigating the retreat of Kilimanjaro’s glaciers, based on the physical understanding of glacier-climate interactions. The concept considers the peculiarities of the mountain and implies that climatological processes other than air temperature control the ice recession in a direct manner. A drastic drop in atmospheric moisture at the end of the 19th century and the ensuing drier climatic conditions are likely forcing glacier retreat on Kilimanjaro.
Kaser, Georg; Hardy, Douglas; Mölg, Thomas; Bradley, Raymond S. and Hydera, Tharsis M.: „Modern Glacier Retreat on Kilimanjaro as Evidence of Climate Change: Observations and Facts”, in: International Journey of Climatology, Volume 24, Issue 3, March 2004, P. 329-339.
Der grundsätzliche Konsens wird durch diese Veröffentlichungen natürlich nicht erschüttert. Was man allerdings erkennt ist der große Unterschied zwischen der Welt der Medien und der Welt der Wissenschaft. Dass beispielsweise die Eisschmelze am Kilimanjaro auch andere Ursachen als den Klimawandel haben könnte, auf diesen Hinweis wird man in einer populärwissenschaftlichen Sendung oder einem Nachrichtenbericht lange warten können. Mit globalen Verschwörungen hat das natürlich wenig zu tun, sondern eher mit der Tatsache, dass echter Wissenschaftsjournalismus ein mühsames Geschäft ist, mit dem nicht jeder Journalist seine Zeit „verschwenden” möchte.