In a significant blow to people who believe climate change predictions are just blowing hot air, an international study established that climate change predictions made over 20 years ago, in 1990, were actually pretty accurate.

What the report did was to compare predictions from the first Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Assessment Report, published in 1990, with real-world global climate change data gathered since. It is the first study of this kind, which analyzes a long enough period of time to be relevant.

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“It is important for scientists to go back and see how early climate change predictions are going,” says Professor David Frame, Director of the New Zealand Climate Change Research Institute at Victoria University. “What we’ve found is that these early predictions seem pretty good, and this is likely due to the climate responding to concentrations of greenhouse gases in the earth’s atmosphere at a rate broadly in line with what scientists in 1990 expected.”

The initial report predicted a rise of 0.7˚C to 1.5˚C by 2030, and of 0.35˚C to 0.75˚C by 2010; hear he, hear he – care to take a wild guess on what the real data turned out to be? A temperature rise somewhere between 0.35 and 0.75 degrees – which is reasonable to say the least.

“It seems highly unlikely that recent changes can be accounted for by natural variability alone, even if the current generation of models significantly underestimated natural variations,” say the authors.

Link to paper