Bastardi Contra Mundo

by Matthew Shaffer

Last week, I had the pleasure of interviewing Joe Bastardi, the charismatic meteorologist and forecaster with AccuWeather who has more recently become a prominent global-warming skeptic. I wrote about my conversation with him here. Here’s a sample of the piece:

[Bastardi] proposes a wager of sorts. “The scientific approach is you see the other argument, you put forward predictions about where things are going to go, and you test them,” he says. “That is what I have done. I have said the earth will cool .1 to .2 Celsius in the next ten years, according to objective satellite data.” Bastardi’s challenge to his critics — who are legion — is to make their own predictions. And then wait. Climate science, he adds, “is just a big weather forecast.”…

And appeals to academic authority seem misplaced. The politicization and groupthink exposed by the Climategate scandal, the self-selection problem (those already inclined to think of the climate as imperiled are most likely to choose climate science as a field), and the newness and inestimable complexity of the science (climatologists can’t experiment with the weather as, say, a chemist can experiment with chemicals) would all seem to cast doubt on the conclusiveness of today’s climate science.

Bastardi has been strongly criticized for his views by environmental-advocacy groups and some academic climate scientists. I don’t claim to know who’s right and who’s wrong in the climate-change debate. But Bastardi makes a strong case that today’s academic climate science is imperfect, hence inconclusive. More importantly, he’s done the thing that could make or break his scientific credibility: a concrete, testable prediction for the next decade. 

UPDATE: Zeke Hausfather, Chief Scientist at Efficiency 2.0 is willing to take Bastardi’s bet. Hausfather wants to put down $10,000 against Bastardi’s prediction that global temperatures will decline over the next 10 years. See it here

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