Search IntMath
Close

450+ Math Lessons written by Math Professors and Teachers

5 Million+ Students Helped Each Year

1200+ Articles Written by Math Educators and Enthusiasts

Simplifying and Teaching Math for Over 23 Years

# A simple climate change model

By Murray Bourne, 05 Jul 2007

There is an interesting introduction to climate modeling over at Realclimate.org. [A "model" here means an equation, or set of equations, that describe how variables affect each other.]

The discussion after the article includes a caution:

Simple models are valuable "educational toys" (as one scientist called them) for experts who understand what the models can and can't tell, but they are toys with sharp edges.

But the article gives a valuable overview of what is involved in climate modeling and is worth checking out.

Footnote 1: It's a shame that the author is almost embarrassed to include some mathematics in his article:

There will be mathematics, but hopefully it won't be too painful.

There is nothing to be scared about equations.

Yes, but unfortunately many people are scared of equations...

Footnote 2: This comment also struck me:

From an anthropological standpoint, I am concerned that we humans are repeating the errors of our predecessors. As I understand it, at least eight civilizations have perished because they diverted too much of their resources to attempting to control the climate. Although primitive by modern standards, these resources included even human sacrifice to try to make it rain. They perished from not only crop failures, but also reduction of their populations below a critical mass.

Yes, this is what the book Collapse was about. It's amazing that the human race continues to grow, considering its stupidity.

### 3 Comments on “A simple climate change model”

1. Gerry Beauregard says:

Nice blog entry!

>> Yes, this is what the book Collapse was about. It’s amazing that the human race continues to grow, considering its stupidity.

I read Collapse too. Great book.

"The Dilbert Future" (Scott Adams) is much more amusing, and sums up human nature pretty succinctly:

>>>>>
Immutable Laws of Human Nature
* Stupidity
* Selfishness
* Horniness
>>>
Whenever humans notice a bad trend, they try to change it. The prediction of doom causes people to do things different and avoid the doom. Any doom that can be predicted won’t happen.

Example
Prediction of doom: Population will grow faster than food supply.
Human response: Scientists realize that you can call just about anything a "meat patty".

2. Murray says:

Thanks Gerry for your comment. Considering "Any doom that can be predicted won’t happen", the Y2K non-event comes to mind.

We will never know how much of Y2K was a grab for cash by consultants, how much was late 90s technology boom hype and how much was genuine concern for the world shutting down.

We now need to wonder how much climate change will actually affect the world. Will there be water wars? Will there be mass starvation and mass migration?

Time will tell.

3. Keith Westre says:

Is the fifty years of CO2 increase caused by fossil fuel burning or land loss? I just dragged 400 lbs of yard waste fom an area where there was none is why I'm asking.

### Comment Preview

HTML: You can use simple tags like <b>, <a href="...">, etc.

To enter math, you can can either:

1. Use simple calculator-like input in the following format (surround your math in backticks, or qq on tablet or phone):
a^2 = sqrt(b^2 + c^2)
(See more on ASCIIMath syntax); or
2. Use simple LaTeX in the following format. Surround your math with $$ and $$.
$$\int g dx = \sqrt{\frac{a}{b}}$$
(This is standard simple LaTeX.)

NOTE: You can mix both types of math entry in your comment.

From Math Blogs