Are climate models credible worlds? Prospects and limitations of possibilistic climate prediction
- 282 Downloads
Climate models don’t give us probabilistic forecasts. To interpret their results, alternatively, as serious possibilities seems problematic inasmuch as climate models rely on contrary-to-fact assumptions: why should we consider their implications as possible if their assumptions are known to be false? The paper explores a way to address this possibilistic challenge. It introduces the concepts of a perfect and of an imperfect credible world, and discusses whether climate models can be interpreted as imperfect credible worlds. That would allow one to use models for possibilistic prediction and salvage widespread scientific practice.
KeywordsClimate model Possibility Scenario Credible world Prediction Representation Uncertainty Idealisation
I’d like to thank two anonymous reviewers of EJPS and especially the guest editors Wendy Parker and Joel Katzav for their detailed and extremely helpful feedback.
- Betz, G. (2010). What’s the worst case? The methodology of possibilistic prediction. Analyse und Kritik, 32(1), 87–106.Google Scholar
- Carter, T., Perry, M., Harasawa, H., & Nishioka, S. (1994). IPCC technical guidelines for assessing climate change impacts and adaptations. University College London (London, UK), National Center for Environmental Studies (Tsukuba, Japan).Google Scholar
- Fischedick, M., Schaeffer, R., Adedoyin, A., Akai, M., Bruckner, T., Clarke, L., Krey, V., et al. (2011). Mitigation potential and costs. In O. Edenhofer, R. Pichs-Madruga, Y. Sokona, K. Seyboth, P. Matschoss, S. Kadner, T. Zwickel et al. (Eds.), IPCC special report on renewable energy sources and climate change mitigation. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Flato, G., Marotzke, J., Abiodun, B., Braconnot, P., Chou, S. C., Collins, W., Cox, P., et al. (2013). Evaluation of climate models. In T.F. Stocker, D. Qin, G.-K. Plattner, M. Tignor, S.K. Allen, J. Boschung, A. Nauels, Y. Xia, V. Bex, & P.M. Midgley (Eds.), The physical science basis. Contribution of working group I to the fifth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change (pp. 741–866). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Frigg, R., Bradley, S., Machete, R.L., & Smith, L.A. (2013). Probabilistic forecasting: why model imperfection is a poison pill. In H. Andersen, D. Dieks, W.J. Gonzalez, T. Uebel, & G. Wheeler (Eds.), New challenges to philosophy of science. The philosophy of science in a European perspective (pp. 479-491). Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
- Gibbs, B. (1970). Real possibility. American Philosophical Quarterly, 7(4), 340–348.Google Scholar
- Katzav, J., Dijkstra, H.A., & de Laat, A.T.J. (2012). Assessing climate model projections: State of the art and philosophical reflections. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics, 43(4), 258–276.Google Scholar
- Lempert, R.J., Popper, S.W., & Bankes, S.C. (2003). Shaping the next one hundred years: new methods for quantitative, long-term policy analysis. Santa Monica: RAND.Google Scholar
- Levi, I. (1980). The enterprise of knowledge. An essay on knowledge, credal probability and chance. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.Google Scholar
- Lorenzen, P. (1987). Lehrbuch der konstruktiven Wissenschaftstheorie. Mannheim, Wien, Zrich: BI-Wissenschaftsverlag.Google Scholar
- Parker, W.S. (2009). Confirmation and adequacy-for-purpose in climate modelling. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 83(1), 233–249.Google Scholar
- Schmidt, G., & Sherwood, S. (2015). A practical philosophy of complex climate modelling. European Journal for Philosophy of Science. Early on-line, doi: 10.1007/s13194-014-0102-9 .
- Shue, H. (2010). Deadly delays, saving opportunities: creating a more dangerous world? In S.M. Gardiner, D. Jamieson, H. Shue (Eds.), Climate ethics: essential readings (pp. 146–162). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Steele, K. (2013). Interview with David Stainforth. The Reasoner, 7(2), 15–18.Google Scholar
- Strevens, M. (2008). Depth: an account of scientific explanation. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- Weisberg, M. (2007). Three kinds of idealization. The Journal of Philosophy, 104(12), 639–659.Google Scholar