Climate models have been pretty accurate

The computer models used to simulate what heat-trapping gases will do to global temperatures have been pretty spot-on in their predictions, a study found.

After years of hearing critics blast the models’ accuracy, Zeke Hausfather — a University of California, Berkeley climate scientist — decided to investigate. He tracked down 17 models used between 1970 and 2007 and found that the majority of them predicted results that were “indistinguishable from what actually occurred.”

Americans accept, but fuzzy on details

Americans remain shaky on the details of climate science even as they have grown increasingly concerned about human activity warming the Earth, said a poll by the Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation.

In five years, the percentage of people calling climate change a “crisis” has jumped from 23 to 38%. But many Americans remain early on the learning curve about what’s causing global warming. For example, 43% of adults and 57% of teens said plastic bottles and bags are a “major” contributor to climate change, which is incorrect.

More than a third of Americans, 37%, cited “the sun getting hotter” as a major contributor. The sun has shown no net increase in radiance since 1950, NASA said.

Nearly 6 in 10 adults correctly said that driving cars and trucks is a “major” contributor, while about 3 in 10 called it minor and the rest said it’s not a contributor or they didn’t know. The transportation sector ranks at the top of the major sources of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

Twenty-four percent said airplane travel is a major contributor; it contributes about 3% of U.S. carbon emissions, the EPA said.

The poll found that 33% of adults think that raising cows for food and milk made no contribution to climate change. A recent report said livestock (including poultry) accounts for 14.5% of greenhouse gas emissions.

“I think getting the gist right is the most important thing,” said Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist. “We don’t have to understand all the nuances of the science. We just have to understand it’s real, it’s us, it’s serious, and there are solutions.”

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