Climate of Incompetence
By Duane Thresher, Ph.D.
January 3, 2019
The first thing some people looking at Apscitu.com do is
Google me, Duane Thresher (use DuckDuckGo instead since they
don't track you like Google). What they find is that
according to Google I am most famous for climate, particularly
my website RealClimatologists.org. I am one of the most
qualified climate modelers in the world. Reading what Google
tells them to, these people soon discover that I am also a
global warming skeptic. Some of the less intelligent of these
people quickly label me a climate change denier and dismiss
anything I have to say after that. Then they go back to
taking scientific and political advice from high school
dropout celebrities. On Apscitu.com I talk a lot about IT
incompetence and how it is destroying America, particularly
government, business, and the media. But another part of this
destruction is climate science, the most political science
there is. Let me tell you my story (the names are unchanged
to damn the guilty).
I graduated from MIT with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering and
Computer Science, which is what IT is and which is my passion.
After a few years on my own as a computer consultant I
realized I wanted to do modeling on supercomputers. Modeling
is just writing computer programs (a.k.a. programming or
coding) to simulate, and thus be able to predict, the real
world. Programming is a major part of IT.
It would have been far more profitable to do economic modeling
for Wall Street, but I realized I was more interested in
climate, particularly climates of the past, i.e. paleoclimate.
And I always valued doing something interesting over doing
something just for the money.
In addition to my exemplary computer science skills, to become
a climate modeler I needed to become even more knowledgeable
than I already was about climate. Many who go into climate
from other fields decide to skip the hard work -- taking
courses and getting degrees in climate -- and just declare
themselves climate scientists. I however, decided to do the
hard work because I also always want to be the best at what I
Since state universities, who must by law concentrate on
educating, give a better education than more famous private
universities, who concentrate on money and prestige making
research, I decided to start at the University of Arizona
(UA), which was working closely with the National Center for
Atmospheric Research (NCAR), since they had former NCAR
scientists as professors, like my prestigious UA advisor
Dr. Robert Dickinson (a prestigious scientist but a despicable
man). NCAR is a premier climate modeling institution in the
world, with one of the most famous climate models, which at
the time was called the Community Climate Model
I started programming CCM to account for changes in incoming
solar radiation (insolation) due to changes in the earth's
orbit over years, which is important for past and future
climate prediction (since you don't know them in advance you
do actually "predict" past climates; called hindcasting by
analogy to forecasting). Insolation is the most important
factor in global warming, since how much insolation the earth
retains determines how warm the earth is.
I quickly came across a problem in this programming. No
matter what, I could not get the insolation calculated in the
CCM program to match what I knew it should be from theory.
This frustration went on for months. I began to question my
abilities both as a programmer and a scientist.
Then one day, while comparing insolation on a particular day
of the year from CCM and from theory, I accidentally put the
wrong day, one day ahead, into CCM. Lo and behold, the
insolations from CCM and theory then matched
Digging through the CCM code and trying to get over my belief
that NCAR could not be so stupid, I discovered that the
calendar subroutine in CCM, written by just one NCAR
scientist, used day 0 as January 1 and the rest of the CCM
subroutines, written by other NCAR scientists, used day 1 as
Being off by one day doesn't sound like much, but climate
models use monthly averages for everything, and during some
months the insolation is changing rapidly from day to day,
which significantly changes the monthly average.
This calendar bug had been in CCM for years and a lot of
journal articles and books had been published, and careers had
been made, with its results. All of these results were now
very questionable, particularly since insolation changes were
so important to them.
I reported this bug to NCAR. It was eventually fixed but
never made public since it would have called into question all
results from CCM before then, including global
While I was fixing the CCM calendar bug for NCAR, I also
suggested to them that they fix the calculation of the change
of insolation through the year (not over years) to what I
used. I had discovered that NCAR had been using a formula
they got from the Australian Journal of Building or some such
obscure irrelevant journal. The engineer author just wanted a
rough estimate of the insolation on building windows through
the year. I instead used the accurate formula from scientific
My code is still in CCM (or whatever warm fuzzy new name they
yet again gave it). It even has my name on it; look at
and search for Thresher (and note that they even
misspelled my first name once).
Climate scientists are not programmers. I'm unique in that
respect. Climate scientists also don't want to do the hard
work -- taking courses and getting degrees -- to become
programmers. UA/NCAR was my epiphany that climate scientists'
IT incompetence was destroying climate science.
After my M.S. from UA/NCAR I fled to Columbia University and
NASA GISS (Goddard Institute for Space Studies), in New York
City, for a Ph.D. I thought going to a famous private
university like Columbia and a famous organization like NASA
would improve the climate modeling situation. I could not
have been more wrong; it made it worse, much
Despite being world famous for climate, particularly global
warming since its head while I was there, James Hansen, is the
"father of global warming", and having its own important
climate model, NASA GISS is a relatively small organization,
smaller than NCAR. The climate scientists do most of the
model programming and their IT incompetence is legendary.
Interestingly, the most notoriously IT incompetent scientist
at NASA GISS was responsible for programming part of the
insolation, the most important factor in global
After I had been at NASA GISS for long enough to become
disgusted about it, I made a stink about how badly programmed
the climate model was, with the implication that its world
famous results, particularly about global warming, were thus
questionable since the model was almost certainly full of
bugs. NASA GISS then undertook a model recoding.
Unfortunately the recoding was to be done by the same IT
incompetent climate scientists who had badly coded it in the
first place (except for me, who as a PhD student only had time
to do a small part of it), so expecting different results was
After the recoding the model was renamed Muddle, which is a
play on the successive version it should have been called,
Model E, with an acknowledgement that the code was still a
mess, a muddle. It was named this by Gavin Schmidt, who is
the head of NASA GISS now and a global warming celebrity, more
interested in being a celebrity than in science.
NASA GISS used to have its own supercomputer to run its
climate model but they were so IT incompetent that they had it
taken away from them and had to use the supercomputers at
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC). While at NASA
GISS, I spent a summer at GSFC, outside Washington D.C.,
attending NASA's supercomputing school. After I left NASA
GISS, I was talking to a programmer from GSFC and he said they
referred to NASA GISS's climate model as "The Jungle" because
it was so badly coded. The results of NASA GISS's climate
model, oft-cited as proof of global warming, are thus still
questionable since the model is almost certainly full of
Pointing all this out, particularly on RealClimatologists.org,
is how I became known as a climate change denier.
Too much money and too few IT competents is the root of the
problem in climate science (global warming), just as it is in
government and business that I have talked about so much.
There are very few IT competent people like myself but a lot
of money to throw at the problem, so a lot of IT incompetent
people get important IT jobs. And these IT incompetents end
up keeping IT competent people from being hired, even while
these IT incompetents themselves are complaining about the
lack of IT competence.
After my Ph.D. from Columbia and NASA GISS, I went to Germany
to work in German climate science as a modeler. Germany has a
much smaller population than the United States but is per
capita relatively wealthier, so the problem was even worse.
One place I worked in Germany hired a bank teller with no
education in computer science or
climate science to be
its climate modeler. He was a nice guy and it was just plain
cruel to put him in that tortured position. German claims
about global warming are thus just as questionable as American
claims since their climate models are also almost certainly
full of bugs.
After Germany, I moved to Fairbanks Alaska to work as a
climate modeler at the Arctic Region Supercomputing Center
(ARSC), which was a Department of Defense facility at the time
(so was concerned more than most about cybersecurity). While
there I finally became so disgusted with climate science I
decided to go back to electrical engineering and computer
science, which again is mostly what IT is. Always willing to
do the hard work in order to be the best, I took the
well-known four-course series to get a CCNA (Cisco Certified
Network Associate) certificate. I did extremely well in these
courses (all A+), but found them too little to be a
qualification for an IT job (and those with just a CCNA
without the courses even less qualified). After that I became
a network engineer at ARSC and then started my own IT
businesses in the lower 48, including Apscitu.
Science is supposed to be guaranteed to be true by the much
vaunted "peer review". Besides how this process inherently
can't guarantee science is true -- scientists are only
fallible humans after all -- no one ever peer reviews the
program code that makes up so much of science these days,
particularly climate science. Additionally, there's a
well-known but unwritten rule among scientists for giving
talks: never show program code. Usually only one person, the
IT incompetent scientist who programmed it, knows what's in
the program. A large program like a climate model may be
written by many IT incompetent scientists, but each of these
usually only programs part of it -- one or a few
subroutines -- and by themselves. Having never been
double-checked, the programs are almost certainly full of bugs
and their results are questionable.
For example: Tree rings are the best climate proxy for showing
what climate was in the past in order to say how it is
changing now (global warming). Unusual for climate
scientists, I was not only a climate modeler but I also took
courses and did hands-on work with climate proxies, so I could
expertly model them. One of the reasons I went to the
University of Arizona was it was world famous for tree ring
research, having started the field themselves.
Tree ring research is heavily dependent on statistics. These
statistics are very complicated so are done with computer
programs. And there are only a few programs, each written by
a single IT incompetent scientist and never peer reviewed.
They are almost certainly full of bugs and their results are
More recently was an incident that spurred me to write this
article. Nature is one of the two most famous scientific
journals, the other being Science. You would expect that
articles in Nature were peer reviewed up the yin-yang -- as IT
incompetent NASA GISS celebrity climate scientist Gavin
Schmidt bragged about why global warming must be true -- so
would have no errors, so would never need to be
Recently an article in Nature, supposedly further proving
global warming, was retracted. There was an error in the math
discovered by a mathematician casually reading Nature. Like
much of science these days, the math was complicated so a
computer program was written to do it. The mathematician
himself suggested that the error was in the program. The
program was written by just one IT incompetent author of the
article, was almost certainly full of bugs since it was never
peer reviewed, and its results were thus questionable. The
mathematician also had some strong criticisms of peer review
and global warming research.
I guess that makes the mathematician a climate change denier
I take comfort in famous genius Freeman Dyson who once said to
me: "Dr. Thresher, You have one advantage over me. You are a
climate expert and I am not." Freeman Dyson is considered a
climate change denier too.