Some Failed Climate Predictions

Guest post by Javier

Here, for the first time in public, is Javier’s entire collection of massive, “consensus” climate science prediction failures. This collection is carefully selected from only academics or high-ranking officials, as reported in the press or scientific journals. Rather than being exhaustive, this is a list of fully referenced arguments that shows that consensus climate science usually gets things wrong, and thus their predictions cannot be trusted.

To qualify for this list, the prediction must have failed. Alternatively, it is also considered a failure when so much of the allowed time has passed that a drastic and improbable change in the rate of change is required for it to be true. Also, we include a prediction when observations are going in the opposite way. Finally, it also qualifies when one thing and the opposite are both predicted.

A novelty is that I also add a part B that includes obvious predictions that consensus climate science did not make. In science you are also wrong if you fail to predict the obvious.

A. Failed predictions

1. Warming rate predictions

1990 IPCC FAR: “Under the IPCC ‘Business as Usual’ emissions of greenhouse gases the average rate of increase of global mean temperature during the next century is estimated to be 0.3°C per decade (with an uncertainty range of 0.2°C – 0.5°C).” See here, page xi.

Reality check: Since 1990 the warming rate has been from 0.12 to 0.19°C per decade depending on the database used, outside the uncertainty range of 1990. CO2 emissions have tracked the “Business as Usual” scenario. An interesting discussion of the 1990 FAR report warming predictions and an analysis of them through April of 2015 can be seen here. A list of official warming rates from various datasets and for various time spans can be seen here.

2. Temperature predictions

1990 IPCC FAR: “Under the IPCC ‘Business as Usual’ emissions of greenhouse gases … this will result in a likely increase in global mean temperature of about 1°C above the present value by 2025.” See here, page xi.

Reality check: From 1990 to 2017 (first 8 months) the increase in temperatures has been 0.31 to 0.49°C depending on the database used. CO2 emissions have tracked the Business as Usual scenario.

Figure 1. CMIP5 climate models developed by 2010 still predict more warming than observed, only a few years later. Source here.

3. Winter predictions

2001 IPCC TAR (AR3) predicts that milder winter temperatures will decrease heavy snowstorms, see here.

2014 Dr. John Holdren, director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy for the Obama administration said: “a growing body of evidence suggests that the kind of extreme cold being experienced by much of the United States as we speak is a pattern we can expect to see with increasing frequency, as global warming continues.” See here.

Reality check: By predicting both milder winters and colder winters the probability of getting it right increases. Now, to cover all possibilities they simply need to predict no change in winters.

4. Snow predictions

2000 Dr. David Viner, a senior research scientist at the climatic research unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia, predicts that within a few years winter snowfall will become “a very rare and exciting event”. “Children just aren’t going to know what snow is.” See here.

2001 IPCC TAR (AR3) predicts that milder winter temperatures will decrease heavy snowstorms. See here.

2004 Adam Watson, from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in Banchory, Aberdeenshire, said the Scottish skiing industry had no more than 20 years left. See here.

Reality check: 2014 had the snowiest Scottish mountains in 69 years. One ski resort’s problem was having some of the lifts buried in snow. See here.

Reality check: Northern Hemisphere snow area shows remarkable little change since 1967. See here. The 2012-2013 winter was the fourth largest winter snow cover extent on record for the Northern Hemisphere. See here.

5. Precipitation predictions

2007 IPCC AR4 predicts that by 2020, between 75 and 250 million of people are projected to be exposed to increased water stress due to climate change. In some countries, yields from rain-fed agriculture could be reduced by up to 50%. See here.

Reality check: Only six years later, IPPC acknowledges that confidence is low for a global-scale observed trend in drought or dryness (lack of rainfall) since the middle of the 20th century, and that AR4 conclusions regarding global increasing trends in drought since the 1970s were probably overstated. See here, page 162.

6. Extreme weather predictions

2010 Dr. Morris Bender, from NOAA, and coauthors predict that “the U.S. Southeast and the Bahamas will be pounded by more very intense hurricanes in the coming decades due to global warming.” They say the strongest hurricanes may double in frequency. See here.

Reality check: After 40 years of global warming no increase in hurricanes has been detected. NOAA U.S. Landfalling Tropical System index shows no increase, and in fact, a very unusual 11-year drought in strong hurricane US landfalls took place from 2005-2016. See NOAA statistics here.

IPCC AR5 (see here) states “Current datasets indicate no significant observed trends in global tropical cyclone frequency over the past century … No robust trends in annual numbers of tropical storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes counts have been identified over the past 100 years in the North Atlantic basin”

“In summary, there continues to be a lack of evidence and thus low confidence regarding the sign of trend in the magnitude and/or frequency of floods on a global scale”

“In summary, there is low confidence in observed trends in small-scale severe weather phenomena such as hail and thunderstorms”

7. Wildfire predictions

2001 IPCC TAR (AR3) said that fire frequency is expected to increase with human-induced climate change, and that several authors suggest that climate change is likely to increase the number of days with severe burning conditions, prolong the fire season, and increase lightning activity, all of which lead to probable increases in fire frequency and areas burned. See here.

2012 Steve Running, a wildfire expert, ecologist and forestry professor at the University of Montana says the fires burning throughout the U.S. offer a window into what we can expect in the future as the climate heats up. See here.

Reality check: The global area of land burned each year declined by 24 percent between 1998 and 2015, according to analysis of satellite data by NASA scientists and their colleagues. Scientists now believe the decrease in forest fires is increasing 7% the amount of CO2 stored by plants. See here.

8. Rotation of the Earth predictions

2007 Dr. Felix Landerer of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg, Germany, published a study predicting that Global warming will make Earth spin faster. See here.

2015 Dr. Jerry Mitrovica, professor of geophysics at Harvard University finds out that days are getting longer as the Earth spins slower, and blames climate change. See here.

Reality check: Doing one thing and its opposite simultaneously has always been possible for climate change. However, the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service (IERS) informs us that the Earth slowed down from the start of measurements in 1962 to 1972, and sped up between 1972 and 2005. Since 2006 it is slowing down again. It shows the same inconsistency as global warming. See here.

9. Arctic sea ice predictions

2007 Prof. Wieslaw Maslowski from Dept. Oceanography of the US Navy predicted an ice-free Arctic Ocean in summer 2013, and said the prediction was conservative. See here.

2007 NASA climate scientist Jay Zwally predicted that the Arctic Ocean could be nearly ice-free at the end of summer in 2012. See here.

2008 University of Manitoba Prof. David Barber predicted an ice-free North Pole for the first time in history in 2008, see here.

2010 Mark Serreze, director of the NSIDC predicts the Arctic will be ice free in the summer by 2030, see here.

2012 Prof. Peter Wadhams, head of the polar ocean physics group at the University of Cambridge (UK), predicted a collapse of the Arctic ice sheet by 2015-2016, see here.

Reality check: No decrease in September Arctic sea ice extent has been observed since 2007, see here and here.

10. Polar bear predictions

2005 The 40 members of the Polar Bear Specialist Group (PBSG) of the World Conservation Union decided to classify the polar bear as “vulnerable” based on a predicted 30 percent decline in their worldwide population over the next 35 to 50 years. The principal cause of this decline is stated to be climatic warming and its negative effects on the sea ice habitat. See here.

2017 The US Fish and Wildlife Service releases a report concluding that human-driven global warming is the biggest threat to polar bears and that if action isn’t taken soon the Arctic bears could be in serious risk of extinction. “It cannot be overstated that the single most important action for the recovery of polar bears is to significantly reduce the present levels of global greenhouse gas emissions.” See here.

2010 Science: Fake polar bear picture chosen to illustrate a letter to Science about scientific integrity on climate change. You just can’t make this stuff up. See here and here.

Figure 2, the fake picture (left) published in Science, May, 2010.

Reality check: Average September Arctic sea ice extent for the 1996-2005 period was 6.46 million km2. It declined by 26% to 4.77 million km2 for the 2007-2016 period. Despite the sea ice decline the polar bear population increased from a 20,000-25,000 estimate in 2005 to a 22,000-31,000 estimate in 2015. See here.

11. Glacier predictions

2007 IPCC AR4 says there is a very high likelihood that Himalayan glaciers will disappear by the year 2035 and perhaps sooner if the Earth keeps warming at the current rate. See here.

IPCC officials recanted the prediction in 2010 after it was revealed the source was not peer-reviewed. Previously they had criticized the Indian scientist that questioned the prediction and ignored an IPCC author than in 2006 warned the prediction was wrong. See here.

12. Sea level predictions

1981 James Hansen, NASA scientist, predicted a global warming of “almost unprecedented magnitude” in the next century that might even be sufficient to melt and dislodge the ice cover of West Antarctica, eventually leading to a worldwide rise of 15 to 20 feet in the sea level. See here.

Reality check: Since 1993 (24 years) we have totaled 72 mm (3 inches) of sea level rise instead of the 4 feet that corresponds to one-fourth of a century. The alarming prediction is more than 94% wrong, so far. See here.

A NASA study, published in the Journal of Glaciology in 2015, claims that Antarctic ice mass is increasing. See here. Antarctic sea ice reached a record extent in 2014, see here.

13. Sinking nations predictions

1989 Noel Brown, director of the New York office of the U.N. Environment Program (UNEP) says entire nations could be wiped off the face of the Earth by rising sea levels if the global warming trend is not reversed by the year 2000. As global warming melts polar icecaps, ocean levels will rise by up to three feet, enough to cover the Maldives and other flat island nations. See here.

Reality check: Tide gauges referenced by GPS at 12 locations in the South Pacific reported variable trends between -1 to +3 mm/year for the 1992-2010 period. See here.

The Diego Garcia atoll in the Indian ocean experienced a land area decrease of only 0.92% between 1963 and 2013. See here.

The Funafuti atoll has experienced a 7.3% net island area increase between 1897 and 2013. See here.

14. Food shortage predictions

1994 A study, by Columbia and Oxford Universities researchers, predicted that under CO2 conditions assumed to occur by 2060, food production was expected to decline in developing countries (up to -50% in Pakistan). Even a high level of farm-level adaptation in the agricultural section could not prevent the negative effects. See here.

2008 Stanford researchers predicted a 95% chance that several staple food crops in South Asia and Southern Africa will suffer crop failures and produce food shortages by 2030, due to 1°C warming from the 1980-2000 average. See here.

Reality check: On average, food production in developing countries has been keeping pace with their population growth. Pakistan, with 180 million people, is among the world’s top ten producers of wheat, cotton, sugarcane, mango, dates and kinnow oranges, and holds 13th position in rice production. Pakistan shows impressive and continuously growing amounts of agricultural production, according to FAO. See here.

15. Climate refugee predictions

2005 Janos Bogardi, director of the Institute for Environment and Human Security at the United Nations University in Bonn and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) warned that there could be up to 50 million environmental refugees by the end of the decade. See here.

2008 UN Deputy secretary-general Srgjan Kerim, tells the UN General Assembly, that it had been estimated that there would be between 50 million and 200 million environmental migrants by 2010. See here.

2008 UNEP Map showing the areas of origin of the 50 million climate refugees by 2010. See here.

Figure 3. Fifty million climate refugees by 2010. Climate refugees will mainly come from developing countries, where the effect of climate changes comes on top of poverty and war. UNEP/GRID-Arendal map, source here.

2011 Cristina Tirado, from the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability at UCLA, says 50 million “environmental refugees” will flood into the global north by 2020, fleeing food shortages sparked by climate change. See here.

Reality check: As of 2017 only one person has claimed climate change refugee status: The world “first climate change refugee” Ioane Teitiota from Kiribati. His claim was dismissed by a court in New Zealand in 2014. See here.

16. Climate change casualty predictions

1987 Dr. John Holdren, director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy for the Obama administration then a professor at U.C. Berkeley was cited by Paul Ehrlich: “As University of California physicist John Holdren has said, it is possible that carbon dioxide climate-induced famines could kill as many as a billion people before the year 2020.” See here.

2009 Dr. John Holdren, director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy for the Obama administration, when questioned by Sen. David Vitter admitted that 1 billion people lost by 2020 was still a possibility. See here.

Reality check: There was a 42% reduction in the number of hungry and undernourished people from 1990-1992 to 2012-2014. Currently, the world produces enough food to feed everyone. Per capita food availability for the whole world has increased from 2,220 kcal/person/day in the early 1960’s to 2,790 kcal/person/day in 2006-2008. See here.

17. Time running out predictions

1989 Noel Brown, director of the New York office of the U.N. Environment Program (UNEP) says that within the next 10 years, given the present loads that the atmosphere must bear, we have an opportunity to start the stabilizing process. See here.

2006 NASA scientist James Hansen says the world has a 10-year window of opportunity to take decisive action on global warming and avert catastrophe. See here.

2007 U.N. Scientists say only eight years left to avoid worst effects See here.

B. Failure to predict

1. A greener planet

1992 The CO2 fertilization effect was well known, and experiments since at least 1988 showed that farm yields increased significantly. This was an easy prediction to make, yet it was ignored. See here.

In 2007 the IPCC was still downplaying the importance of the effect: “Since saturation of CO2 stimulation due to nutrient or other limitations is common, it is not yet clear how strong the CO2 fertilization effect actually is.” See here.

However recent satellite image analysis of changes in the leaf area index since 1982 have demonstrated a very strong greening over 25-50% of the Earth. CO2 fertilization is responsible for most of the greening, with the increase in temperatures also contributing. See here.

2. Increase in forest biomass

2006: For four of the past five decades global forest dynamics were thought to be primarily driven by deforestation. It was only in the last decade when it was noticed that a great majority of reports were contradicting that assumption. “Of the 49 papers reporting forest production levels we reviewed, 37 showed a positive growth trend.” The authors also write “climatic changes seemed to have a generally positive impact on forest productivity” when sufficient water is available. See here.

2010: The observed forest biomass increase was found to greatly exceed natural recovery, and was attributed to climate change, through changes in temperature and CO2. See here.

2015: Satellite passive microwave observations demonstrate that the trend is global and is accompanied by a recent decrease in tropical deforestation. See here.

3. Carbon sinks increases

1992: In the late 80’s a “missing sink” was discovered in the carbon budget accounting, and was discussed through the 90’s. The possibility that Earth’s oceans and terrestrial ecosystems could respond to the increase in CO2 by absorbing more CO2 had not occurred to climate scientists, and when it occurred to them they mistakenly thought that deforestation would be a higher factor. See here.

4. Slowdown in warming

2006: Professor Robert Carter, a geologist and paleoclimatologist at James Cook University, Queensland, was one of the first to report the unexpected slowdown in warming that took place between 1998 and 2014. See here.

The scientific climate community essentially ignored the issue until 2013 and have recently become split on its reality, with a small group negating it even took place. Nobody in the scientific community is even considering the possibility that the “Pause” might not have ended and was only temporarily interrupted by the 2015-16 big El Niño.


There is only one possible conclusion regarding the reliability of climate predictions. Outspoken catastrophic-minded climate scientists and high-ranking officials don’t have a clue about future climate and its consequences, and are inventing catastrophic predictions for their own interest. Government policies should not be based on their future predictions.

Another conclusion is that studies and opinions about future climate are heavily biased towards negative outcomes that fail to materialize, while ignoring positive outcomes that are materializing.

This post was edited a little by Andy May, who believes the only safe prediction is that the predictions of “consensus scientists” will continue to be wrong.