For a long time, I have held that global warming, like acid rain, the ozone hole, and the year 2000 computer bug, is more interesting as a sociological phenomenon than as a climatological one. Still, it is good to have some metric for evaluating the accuracy of global warming predictions. Are climatologists better at predicting the future than the weather man?
I took the 1988 climate forecast from the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (Hansen, et al.), and compared it with the actual data from the the Goddard center for the same period. Temperatures did rise over the period, but by only a third as much as the researchers had predicted.
My comparison is the product of 15 minutes of work at the computer, and not a scientific survey of all past climate forecasts. Still, it leaves a few questions: Are newer forecasts more accurate? Does the pressure to produce dramatic results influence the scientific process? What level of reliability should we ascribe to contemporary forecasts? What are your thoughts?