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Global Warming: Observations vs. Climate Models - Highlighted Article

Posted On:
Feb 1, 2024 at 6:00 AM
Climate Change


From: The Heritage Foundation

By: Roy Spencer

Date: January 24, 2024

Global Warming: Observations vs. Climate Models

Warming of the global climate system over the past half-century has averaged 43 percent less than that produced by computerized climate models used to promote changes in energy policy. In the United States during summer, the observed warming is much weaker than that produced by all 36 climate models surveyed here. While the cause of this relatively benign warming could theoretically be entirely due to humanity’s production of carbon dioxide from fossil-fuel burning, this claim cannot be demonstrated through science. At least some of the measured warming could be natural. Contrary to media reports and environmental organizations’ press releases, global warming offers no justification for carbon-based regulation.


1- The observed rate of global warming over the past 50 years has been weaker than that predicted by almost all computerized climate models.

2- Climate models that guide energy policy do not even conserve energy, a necessary condition for any physically based model of the climate system.

3- Public policy should be based on climate observations—which are rather unremarkable—rather than climate models that exaggerate climate impacts.


Average warming of the climate system over the past five decades has been widely attributed to greenhouse gas emissions—primarily carbon dioxide (CO2)—from the burning of fossil fuels. This belief has led to calls for greatly reducing humanity’s reliance on such fuels and a transition to “renewable” energy sources such as wind power and solar energy.

For the purposes of guiding public policy and for adaptation to any climate change that occurs, it is necessary to understand the claims of global warming science as promoted by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). When it comes to increases in global average temperature since the 1970s, three questions are pertinent:

  1. Is recent warming of the climate system materially attributable to anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, as is usually claimed?
  2. Is the rate of observed warming close to what computer climate models—used to guide public policy—show?
  3. Has the observed rate of warming been sufficient to justify alarm and extensive regulation of CO2 emissions?

While the climate system has warmed somewhat over the past five decades, the popular perception of a “climate crisis” and resulting calls for economically significant regulation of CO2 emissions is not supported by science. (continue reading)


Global Warming: Observations vs. Climate Models