A recent paper in climate science that has excited comment is D. Koutsoyiannis, A. Efstratiadis, N. Mamassis and A Christofides, On the Credibility of Climate Predictions, Hydrological Sciences Journal, 53 (2008). It is available in .pdf format here. The abstract reads:
Geographically distributed predictions of future climate, obtained through climate models, are widely used in hydrology and many other disciplines, typically without assessing their reliability. Here we compare the output of various models to temperature and precipitation observations from eight stations with long (over 100 years) records from around the globe. The results show that models perform poorly, even at a climatic (30-year) scale. Thus local model projections cannot be credible, whereas a common argument that models can perform better at larger spatial scales is unsupported.
The paper argues that Global Climate Models have underestimated the observed variability of both temperature and precipitation for these particular stations. The authors acknowledge the limitation of having analysed records from only eight stations: “Whether or not this conclusion extends to other locations requires expansion of the study, which we have planned.” But they contend that the poor performance in the examined locations “allows little hope.” It is interesting that one of these stations is just down the road in Albany, NY, where the change in the 30-year moving average for temperature over the 20th century is roughly -1.5°(C), compared to model predictions of roughly +0.5°(C).
There are active discussions of the Koutsoyiannis paper on both the skeptic site, ClimateAudit, and the consensus site, RealClimate. I have my own take on these discussions, including a tremendous respect for Steve McIntyre, the author of ClimateAudit. But I am mainly interested in the question of the disinterestedness of science. Is such disinterestedness even possible any more? Is it worth safeguarding?