A talk by Dr Christopher Essex – Chairman, Permanent Monitoring Panel on Climate, World Federation of Scientists, and Professor and Associate Chair, Department of Applied Mathematics, University of Western Ontario, Canada – London, 12 February 2015
Has the scientific problem of climate been solved in terms of basic physics and mathematics? No, but you will be forgiven if you thought otherwise. For decades, the most rigorous treatments of climate have been done through climate models. The clever model pioneers understood many of their inherent limitations, but tried to persevere nonetheless. Today, few academics are even aware of what the pioneers understood, let alone what has been learned since about the full depth of modelling difficulties. Meanwhile popular expressions of the scientific technicalities are largely superficial, defective, comically nonsensical, and virtually uncorrectable. All of the best physics and all of the best computer models cannot put this Humpty Dumpty together, because we face some of the most fundamental problems of modern science in climate, but hardly know it. If you think you want to have a go at those problems, there are at least a couple million dollars in prizes in it, not to mention a Fields Medal or two.
But even if you don’t have some spare afternoons to solve problems that have stymied the best minds in history, this talk will cure computer cachet even for laymen, putting climate models into theirs proper perspective.