Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #166

By Ken Haapala, President, Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP)

Re-Blogged From http://www.WattsUpWithThat.com

KEYSTONE XL: As promised by the Republican leadership, the Senate passed S.1 the bill authorizing the TransCanada Corp. to proceed in planning and building the Keystone Pipeline to transport up to 830,000 barrels of crude oil per day from the oil sands in Alberta, Canada and shale oil from the Bakken formation in North Dakota to Steele City Nebraska. From there it will be transported by existing pipelines to Gulf Coast refineries. Once completed, the pipeline system would span 1,700 miles and cross six U.S. states. Nine Democrats voted with all Senate Republicans in approving the bill.

Once the details are reconciled with a similar House bill, it will go to President Obama who has promised to veto it. The Administration has had six years to study the pipeline, so arguments

of time to study the issue are frivolous. So are claims that the pipeline is no longer economic because oil prices have dropped. As TransCanada Chief Executive wrote in a statement: “Keystone XL is a project that was needed when the price of a barrel of oil was less than $40 in 2008, when we first made our application, at more than $100 last year, and around $45 today.”

The legislation was messy, with multiple amendments considered including two promoting energy efficiency and one declaring a sense of the Senate that climate change is real and not a hoax that passed. The press had a field day, making much of these amendments, but the legislation passed. Now the President has a choice. Does he anger the anti-fossil-fuel green groups whom he promised he would veto the measure, or does he anger labor unions and others who supported the bill and who traditionally support the Democratic Party?

As questionable polls are showing, the public is becoming increasingly aware that the science of global warming/climate change, as proclaimed by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and its followers, is overblown with a multitude of experts who cannot justify their earlier statements and the predictions/projections from their models that greatly overestimated 21st century warming. The pollsters term the products of models that have not been validated as science, which it is not. See Article # 3 and links under Communicating Better to the Public – Do a Poll? and Washington’s Control of Energy.


Quote of the Week: You ask me where the extra trapped heat has gone, but I do not agree with the models that say the extra trapped heat exists. I cannot answer your question because I disagree with your assumptions. Freeman Dyson [H/t Steven Hayward “Power Line”


Number of the Week: Probability of 38%, or 48%, or ???


Cherry-Picking Temperatures: The January 24 TWTW used a quote from Richard Somerville, a climate scientist and professor emeritus at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. According to his web site, Somerville was a Coordinating Lead Author in Working Group I, Physical Science, for the 2007 Fourth Assessment Report (AR-4) of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), report that expressed great certainty in global warming science and the models used. TWTW used the quote to assert that by ignoring superior atmospheric temperature data, both the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) are engaged of cherry-picking data. Further, TWTW stated that as criticism of the press release by NOAA and NASA intensified, Gavin Schmidt of NASA-GISS (Goddard Institute of Space Studies) presented a table by NASA stating there was a 38% probability that 2014 was the warmest year recorded. Apparently, both NOAA and NASA calculated such low probabilities prior to the press release but did not disclose them.

A reader, who will remain nameless, wrote: “You are quite wrong that the 38 percent figure was not disclosed at the time of the first announcements. And you clearly don’t understand how to interpret the number. Every other year in the record had a much lower probability of being the warmest. Since one of them had to be the warmest, it makes good sense to pick the one with the highest probability. The next most probable year was only half as likely to top the others.”

Quite to the contrary, the NASA press release dated Jan 16, contained no probability statements. Probability values were added later, particularly to the NOAA statement. Further, the probabilities used are not based on a frequency distribution. The paper used to justify NOAA’s probability calculations is: “Uncertainty in annual rankings from NOAA’s global temperature time seriesBy Arguez, Karl, Squires and Vose, Geophysical Research Letters, Nov 27, 2013.

“Annual rankings of global temperature are an important component of climate monitoring. However, there is some degree of uncertainty for every yearly value in the global temperature time series, which leads to uncertainty in annual rankings as well. This study applies a Monte Carlo uncertainty analysis to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Climatic Data Center’s global land-ocean surface temperature (NOAATMP) time series. Accounting for persistence between years does not materially affect the results versus presuming statistical independence. The highest probabilities for the warmest year analysis (1880–2012) are associated with the years 2010 (~36%), 2005 (~28%), and 1998 (~11%). The current separation among the warmest observed years is relatively small compared to the standard errors of the NOAATMP time series. However, each year between 1997 and 2012 was warmer than the vast majority of all other years since 1880 at the 95% confidence level.”

There are several major issues with this paper. One, the paper was not published in a major statistical journal, therefore one cannot assume that it underwent expert analysis for its statistical rigor. As seen in the Michael Mann “hockey-stick” debacle, a small group of like-minded researchers can agree on a statistical procedure – even if the procedure leads to a bias. Outside statistical expertise is needed.

A second problem is the time-frame. Prior warm periods are ignored. One cannot establish probabilities of temperatures by ignoring massive amounts of historical data. As Timothy Ball noted, amusingly, if the data record is the GRIP 2 ice core from Greenland, then 2014 would rank in the 3% of the coldest years in the record. Climate science has reached its current state of being ignored by the public (and its impending implosion) by ignoring climate history and the natural causes of climate change.

These issues are separate from the manipulation of the historic instrument record by making earlier 20th century measurements appear cooler than they were. This manipulation is a long simmering problem. These issues also illustrate why TWTW prefers using the satellite temperature record, independently supported by the records from weather balloons. The justification of NOAA and NASA of using surface temperatures in the space age is often stated as “That’s where people live.” The claim is weak. Surface temperatures are influenced by other human activities including urbanization, irrigation, agriculture, vegetation, etc. The surface instruments may be measuring these human activities, not emissions of carbon dioxide, which is the central issue in the study of global warming/climate change. If increased greenhouse gases are the cause of global warming, it should be measured where it occurs, in the atmosphere – with space-age satellites.

See links under Measurement Issues, http://drtimball.com/2015/2014-among-the-3-percent-coldest-years-in-10000-years/, and http://www.nasa.gov/press/2015/january/nasa-determines-2014-warmest-year-in-modern-record/#.VLlARCvF98H,


Expanding the Orthodoxy: Numerous news reports have promoted the idea that the Pope will endorse the claim that human emissions of carbon dioxide endanger humanity. On his web site, Pierre Gosselin performs a valuable service by giving regular and very reliable translations of German news. TWTW links to some of these in virtually every issue. However, it appears one has to be careful about jumping to conclusions over a recent article in Der Spiegel. Tom Sheahen, Vice President of SEPP, who follows religious affairs closely, made the following remarks on a recent posting by Gosselin.

“In the present case, it is obvious that Der Spiegel really dislikes the Catholic Church and enjoys bashing it. The giveaway is the reference to Giordano Bruno, a certified heretic on religious-doctrine grounds, who dabbled in astronomy; Bruno’s astronomy had absolutely nothing to do with his condemnation — but it’s a mighty convenient club to wield by those who want to make the Catholic Church look bad.

“Reading the interview carefully, the president of the Pontifical Academy didn’t really disclose anything, and it was the reporter from Der Spiegel who made up the rest of the speculations. Separately, his speculations might very well be correct, in that there is increasing evidence that the Pope is definitely on the political left, and likely sides with the greens.”

See links under Expanding the Orthodoxy.


Executive Orders: The January 17 TWTW discussed suggestions for legislative correction under the new Congress. One area of concern is the “tailoring of global models for regional analysis, without independent validation. Further, when models are inconsistent with data, data should take preference. For example, the budget of the US Global Change Research program is about $2.5 billion and has remained at that level since 2010 (adjusted for inflation). The USGCRA states its mission as: “Thirteen Agencies, One Vision: Empower the Nation with Global Change Science.”

On May 6, 2014 USGCRP released its National Climate Assessment. The report contains 8 regional reports and one for the 48 states contiguous US. The regional report for the Southeast U.S. projects a major general warming of about 10 F for the region even though The report states:“The lack of mid-20th century warming in the Southeast is not simulated by the models. However, 21st century simulations of temperature indicate that future warming will be much larger than the observed values for the 20th century.” There is no logical reason for this assertion and the inconsistency between data and models.

According to reports, on Friday January 30, a slow news day, President Obama took the initiative to direct all federal agencies to factor-in rising sea levels when building infrastructure projects. TWTW has not yet obtained the Corps of Engineers (COE) report which 31,200 miles of north Atlantic coast have a flood risk caused by rising sea levels and climate change.. If it is of the same quality as the 2014 National Climate Assessment it is closer to speculation than any meaningful science.

“Losses caused by flooding affect the environment, our economic prosperity, and public health and safety, each of which affects our national security,” the White House order states.

The new standards give agencies three options on how to prepare for floods and use them in the siting, design and construction of federally funded buildings, roads and infrastructure.

The three choices: Use data and methods provided by the “best-available, actionable climate science,” build 2 feet above the 100-year flood elevation mark for standard projects and 3 feet for “critical” buildings like hospitals and evacuation centers, or build to the 500-year flood elevation. [Boldface added]/

“By requiring that Federally funded buildings, roads and other infrastructure are constructed to better withstand the impacts of flooding, the President’s action will support the thousands of communities that have



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