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Bad programming climate scientist clown.

Climate of Incompetence



By Duane Thresher, Ph.D.     January 3, 2019

The first thing some people looking at Apscitu.com do is Google me, Duane Thresher (use DuckDuckGo instead since they don't track you like Google). What they find is that according to Google I am most famous for climate, particularly my website RealClimatologists.org. I am one of the most qualified climate modelers in the world. Reading what Google tells them to, these people soon discover that I am also a global warming skeptic. Some of the less intelligent of these people quickly label me a climate change denier and dismiss anything I have to say after that. Then they go back to taking scientific and political advice from high school dropout celebrities. On Apscitu.com I talk a lot about IT incompetence and how it is destroying America, particularly government, business, and the media. But another part of this destruction is climate science, the most political science there is. Let me tell you my story (the names are unchanged to damn the guilty).

I graduated from MIT with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, which is what IT is and which is my passion. After a few years on my own as a computer consultant I realized I wanted to do modeling on supercomputers. Modeling is just writing computer programs (a.k.a. programming or coding) to simulate, and thus be able to predict, the real world. Programming is a major part of IT.

It would have been far more profitable to do economic modeling for Wall Street, but I realized I was more interested in climate, particularly climates of the past, i.e. paleoclimate. And I always valued doing something interesting over doing something just for the money.

In addition to my exemplary computer science skills, to become a climate modeler I needed to become even more knowledgeable than I already was about climate. Many who go into climate from other fields decide to skip the hard work -- taking courses and getting degrees in climate -- and just declare themselves climate scientists. I however, decided to do the hard work because I also always want to be the best at what I do.

Since state universities, who must by law concentrate on educating, give a better education than more famous private universities, who concentrate on money and prestige making research, I decided to start at the University of Arizona (UA), which was working closely with the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), since they had former NCAR scientists as professors, like my prestigious UA advisor Dr. Robert Dickinson (a prestigious scientist but a despicable man). NCAR is a premier climate modeling institution in the world, with one of the most famous climate models, which at the time was called the Community Climate Model (CCM).

I started programming CCM to account for changes in incoming solar radiation (insolation) due to changes in the earth's orbit over years, which is important for past and future climate prediction (since you don't know them in advance you do actually "predict" past climates; called hindcasting by analogy to forecasting). Insolation is the most important factor in global warming, since how much insolation the earth retains determines how warm the earth is.

I quickly came across a problem in this programming. No matter what, I could not get the insolation calculated in the CCM program to match what I knew it should be from theory. This frustration went on for months. I began to question my abilities both as a programmer and a scientist.

Then one day, while comparing insolation on a particular day of the year from CCM and from theory, I accidentally put the wrong day, one day ahead, into CCM. Lo and behold, the insolations from CCM and theory then matched perfectly!

Digging through the CCM code and trying to get over my belief that NCAR could not be so stupid, I discovered that the calendar subroutine in CCM, written by just one NCAR scientist, used day 0 as January 1 and the rest of the CCM subroutines, written by other NCAR scientists, used day 1 as January 1.

Being off by one day doesn't sound like much, but climate models use monthly averages for everything, and during some months the insolation is changing rapidly from day to day, which significantly changes the monthly average.

This calendar bug had been in CCM for years and a lot of journal articles and books had been published, and careers had been made, with its results. All of these results were now very questionable, particularly since insolation changes were so important to them.

I reported this bug to NCAR. It was eventually fixed but never made public since it would have called into question all results from CCM before then, including global warming.

While I was fixing the CCM calendar bug for NCAR, I also suggested to them that they fix the calculation of the change of insolation through the year (not over years) to what I used. I had discovered that NCAR had been using a formula they got from the Australian Journal of Building or some such obscure irrelevant journal. The engineer author just wanted a rough estimate of the insolation on building windows through the year. I instead used the accurate formula from scientific theory.

My code is still in CCM (or whatever warm fuzzy new name they yet again gave it). It even has my name on it; look at the code here and search for Thresher (and note that they even misspelled my first name once).

Climate scientists are not programmers. I'm unique in that respect. Climate scientists also don't want to do the hard work -- taking courses and getting degrees -- to become programmers. UA/NCAR was my epiphany that climate scientists' IT incompetence was destroying climate science.

After my M.S. from UA/NCAR I fled to Columbia University and NASA GISS (Goddard Institute for Space Studies), in New York City, for a Ph.D. I thought going to a famous private university like Columbia and a famous organization like NASA would improve the climate modeling situation. I could not have been more wrong; it made it worse, much worse.

Despite being world famous for climate, particularly global warming since its head while I was there, James Hansen, is the "father of global warming", and having its own important climate model, NASA GISS is a relatively small organization, smaller than NCAR. The climate scientists do most of the model programming and their IT incompetence is legendary. Interestingly, the most notoriously IT incompetent scientist at NASA GISS was responsible for programming part of the insolation, the most important factor in global warming.

After I had been at NASA GISS for long enough to become disgusted about it, I made a stink about how badly programmed the climate model was, with the implication that its world famous results, particularly about global warming, were thus questionable since the model was almost certainly full of bugs. NASA GISS then undertook a model recoding. Unfortunately the recoding was to be done by the same IT incompetent climate scientists who had badly coded it in the first place (except for me, who as a PhD student only had time to do a small part of it), so expecting different results was foolish.

After the recoding the model was renamed Muddle, which is a play on the successive version it should have been called, Model E, with an acknowledgement that the code was still a mess, a muddle. It was named this by Gavin Schmidt, who is the head of NASA GISS now and a global warming celebrity, more interested in being a celebrity than in science.

NASA GISS used to have its own supercomputer to run its climate model but they were so IT incompetent that they had it taken away from them and had to use the supercomputers at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC). While at NASA GISS, I spent a summer at GSFC, outside Washington D.C., attending NASA's supercomputing school. After I left NASA GISS, I was talking to a programmer from GSFC and he said they referred to NASA GISS's climate model as "The Jungle" because it was so badly coded. The results of NASA GISS's climate model, oft-cited as proof of global warming, are thus still questionable since the model is almost certainly full of bugs.

Pointing all this out, particularly on RealClimatologists.org, is how I became known as a climate change denier.

Too much money and too few IT competents is the root of the problem in climate science (global warming), just as it is in government and business that I have talked about so much. There are very few IT competent people like myself but a lot of money to throw at the problem, so a lot of IT incompetent people get important IT jobs. And these IT incompetents end up keeping IT competent people from being hired, even while these IT incompetents themselves are complaining about the lack of IT competence.

After my Ph.D. from Columbia and NASA GISS, I went to Germany to work in German climate science as a modeler. Germany has a much smaller population than the United States but is per capita relatively wealthier, so the problem was even worse. One place I worked in Germany hired a bank teller with no education in computer science or climate science to be its climate modeler. He was a nice guy and it was just plain cruel to put him in that tortured position. German claims about global warming are thus just as questionable as American claims since their climate models are also almost certainly full of bugs.

After Germany, I moved to Fairbanks Alaska to work as a climate modeler at the Arctic Region Supercomputing Center (ARSC), which was a Department of Defense facility at the time (so was concerned more than most about cybersecurity). While there I finally became so disgusted with climate science I decided to go back to electrical engineering and computer science, which again is mostly what IT is. Always willing to do the hard work in order to be the best, I took the well-known four-course series to get a CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate) certificate. I did extremely well in these courses (all A+), but found them too little to be a qualification for an IT job (and those with just a CCNA without the courses even less qualified). After that I became a network engineer at ARSC and then started my own IT businesses in the lower 48, including Apscitu.

Science is supposed to be guaranteed to be true by the much vaunted "peer review". Besides how this process inherently can't guarantee science is true -- scientists are only fallible humans after all -- no one ever peer reviews the program code that makes up so much of science these days, particularly climate science. Additionally, there's a well-known but unwritten rule among scientists for giving talks: never show program code. Usually only one person, the IT incompetent scientist who programmed it, knows what's in the program. A large program like a climate model may be written by many IT incompetent scientists, but each of these usually only programs part of it -- one or a few subroutines -- and by themselves. Having never been double-checked, the programs are almost certainly full of bugs and their results are questionable.

For example: Tree rings are the best climate proxy for showing what climate was in the past in order to say how it is changing now (global warming). Unusual for climate scientists, I was not only a climate modeler but I also took courses and did hands-on work with climate proxies, so I could expertly model them. One of the reasons I went to the University of Arizona was it was world famous for tree ring research, having started the field themselves.

Tree ring research is heavily dependent on statistics. These statistics are very complicated so are done with computer programs. And there are only a few programs, each written by a single IT incompetent scientist and never peer reviewed. They are almost certainly full of bugs and their results are thus questionable.

More recently was an incident that spurred me to write this article. Nature is one of the two most famous scientific journals, the other being Science. You would expect that articles in Nature were peer reviewed up the yin-yang -- as IT incompetent NASA GISS celebrity climate scientist Gavin Schmidt bragged about why global warming must be true -- so would have no errors, so would never need to be retracted.

Recently an article in Nature, supposedly further proving global warming, was retracted. There was an error in the math discovered by a mathematician casually reading Nature. Like much of science these days, the math was complicated so a computer program was written to do it. The mathematician himself suggested that the error was in the program. The program was written by just one IT incompetent author of the article, was almost certainly full of bugs since it was never peer reviewed, and its results were thus questionable. The mathematician also had some strong criticisms of peer review and global warming research.

I guess that makes the mathematician a climate change denier too.

I take comfort in famous genius Freeman Dyson who once said to me: "Dr. Thresher, You have one advantage over me. You are a climate expert and I am not." Freeman Dyson is considered a climate change denier too.