By Ken Haapala, President, Science and Environmental Policy Project
The Week That Was: February 7, 2015 www.SEPP.org
US National Security – Threat of Climate Change: The White House has issued a report, “National Security Strategy”, stating that climate change (what used to be global warming before it stopped) is one of the greatest threats to US national security. The report contains choice terms such as “carbon pollution” which implies that the authors do not consider that their breathing is polluting, emitting carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations 100 times that of the air they inhale.
The section “Confront Climate Change” states: “Climate change is an urgent and growing threat to our national security, contributing to increased natural disasters, refugee flows, and conflicts over basic resources like food and water. The present day effects of climate change are being felt from the Arctic to the Midwest. Increased sea levels and storm surges threaten coastal regions, infrastructure, and property. In turn, the global economy suffers, compounding the growing costs of preparing and restoring infrastructure.”
As presented below, and in prior TWTWs, there are NO growing threats of storm intensity to the US or globally. Sea level rise appears to be in line with the past century, [local conditions are most important], the accumulated cyclone energy (ACE), is not increasing, temperatures have plateaued, in general the globe is greening, except for conflicts created for ideological reasons there are few areas of famine, the decline in Arctic ice has reversed, and even the White House report recognizes that the US is becoming more self-sufficient in production of oil and natural gas, even though the Administration has denied access for increased production in Federal lands and waters. In short, the Administration’s campaign against climate change is out-of-touch reality.
For example, the section “Advance Our Energy Security” opens with the statement: “The United States is now the world leader in oil and gas production.” What has this administration done to create the US as the world leader – deny offshore drilling, deny Arctic drilling, deny hydraulic fracturing on federal lands and waters? The great increase in production of oil and gas is occurring on private and state-owned lands. This increase in production has led to a dramatic drop in world price of oil – a benefit to most American citizens and the world in general. The claim of “peak oil” in the foreseeable future is an idea of the past.
Almost amusingly, the report states: “Seismic shifts in supply and demand are underway across the globe.”… “Increasing global access to reliable and affordable energy is one of the most powerful ways to support social and economic development and to help build new markets for U.S. technology and investment.” Yet, the Administration continues to restrict the flow of oil to global markets, as can be seen in its refusal to approve the Keystone XL pipeline after six years of study.
According to newspaper- reports: Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz underscored the importance of energy security in his own statement on the plan.
“Now more than ever, it is critical for us to focus our efforts to cooperate on security issues that are increasingly critical to the stability of global markets and underscore the risk of relying on one source of energy,” he said.
“At the same time, collective action on security also presents an opportunity to diversify our low-carbon energy options, combat climate change, and strengthen our economies.” Apparently, Energy Secretary Moniz is unaware of the tremendous benefits to the US of low cost fossil fuels and the hardships that unreliable solar and wind are placing on the public and industries in Europe.
Unfortunately, the White House report gives an insight on how this ambitious administration will use whatever means it has available to expand control of the economy and energy use. The report states: More than 100 countries have also joined with us to reduce greenhouse gases under the Montreal Protocol—the same agreement the world used successfully to phase out ozone-depleting chemicals. The Montreal Protocol is being misused on the now questionable claim that hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) were depleting the stratospheric ozone layer, although little effect was being measured on the surface. Now, the administration is manipulating the meaning and intent of the Protocol to cover greenhouse gases, particularly methane and CO2.
The Administration’s actions illustrate why the US should be wary of international agreements. Once approved by the Senate, an ambitious administration can manipulate international agreements for its own purposes. The administration’s actions have been a quiet endeavor, with little publicity. But, the effects on US energy and prosperity can be severe and long-lasting.
See links under Defending the Orthodoxy, EPA and other Regulators on the March and, for ACE, http://models.weatherbell.com/tropical.php
Quote of the Week: If I had an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.” – Albert Einstein [H/t High Frontier]
Number of the Week: 12.9% and 10.6%
Natural Catastrophes – Losses: The December 20, 2014 TWTW linked to a preliminary report by Swiss Re, the world’s second largest re-insurer (those companies that take on insurance risks by other companies). The report stated that in 2014 global disaster events cost insurers USD 34 billion, below recent annual averages. It also stated a total loss of life of 11,000 from natural catastrophe and man-made disaster events in 2014 was down from the more than 27 000 fatalities in 2013. It should be remembered that natural disasters include earthquakes, tidal waves, etc. as well as extreme weather events.
The report of the world’s largest re-insurer, Munich Re is out, Review of natural catastrophes in 2014: Lower losses from weather extremes and earthquakes. This report states that more than nine out of ten (92%) of the loss-related natural catastrophes were due to weather events. “A striking feature was the unusually quiet hurricane season in the North Atlantic, where only eight strong – and thus named – storms formed; the long-term average (1950–2013) is around 11. In contrast, the tropical cyclone season in the eastern Pacific was characterized by an exceptionally large number of storms, most of which did not make landfall.”
The first and the fourth most expensive losses were winter damage, not heat or storm related. Japan was most hit by winter damage, which took 37 lives. Winter damage in the US and Canada ranked fourth in losses. Flooding in Asia took the most lives. Flooding has always been a major problem in Asia, and the rate of loss of lives is declining, not increasing.
Also, Roger Pielke posted a report on “The Precipitous Decline in US Flood Damage as a Percentage of GDP” Pielke states: The US is prone to very large flood events, resulting in tens of billions of dollars in losses. However, the trend since 1940 is striking. As the nation has seen its economic activity expand by a factor of almost 13, flood losses as a proportion of that activity have dropped by about 75%.
Please don’t use this data to say anything about the incidence of flooding in the US or changes in climate. For that, I urge you to look at data and research, discussed here. You’ll find very little evidence of increasing flood frequency or magnitude either in the US or globally. Regardless, the diminishing economic impact of floods in the US is undeniable.
It is becoming evident that the authors of the US “National Security Strategy” failed to consult with companies whose business it is to understand losses from extreme weather events or US academics who study these issues. See links under Changing Weather and
Health: The EPA is heavily publicizing its anti-coal campaign on the grounds of public health, particularly fear of asthma. According to reports, early in this administration, officials at EPA decided that fear of respiratory diseases will be an excellent way to convince many in the public that action was needed to reduce coal-fired power plants. Asthma was a great fit. It was a disease often contracted in childhood and the incidence of the disease was increasing. The cause was unknown. It was assumed that the cause was outdoor air pollution in urban areas. Namely, in poorer neighborhoods where coal-fired power plants were located. The EPA built its anti-coal and the anti-ozone campaigns on this assumption. However, empirical science may get in the way.
A problem has developed in this great plan. A study published in the Journal of Asthma and Clinical Immunology found little or no relationship in incidence of asthma between children in urban areas and children in rural area, after adjustments for other factors such as poverty. The study emphasizes that air pollution may be a cause for asthma, only it’s indoor air pollution, such as second hand smoke, rodents, mold, etc. According to The Hill newspaper: The study couldn’t come at a worse time for the agency. EPA is preparing to tighten national standards for ground-level ozone (the main ingredient in smog) by as much as 20 percent. To justify the move, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy argued she was “following science” to “protect those most at-risk—our children, our elderly, and people already suffering from lung diseases like asthma.”
But it’s hard to see how lowering the current ozone limit either “follows the science” or “protects those most at-risk” for asthma.
No doubt, the environmental industry will condemn the study, to include claims of coal industry funding, etc. But, the problem of asthma cannot be solved by condemning the research of others on the dubious basis of funding. If asthma is a pressing national issue, then it must be approached with scrupulous examination, not personal attacks. See links under Health, Energy, and Climate.
The Race to the Bottom — Circular Reasoning? As explained in last week’s TWTW, surveys (opinion polls) frequently disguise the scientific issues regarding global warming/climate change. The issue is not what climate scientists think, but how and why they think it — what physical evidence do they use to justify their claims? General climate models, which have not been validated, are not physical evidence. For example, given the best surface temperature records available, there were two periods of general warming during the 20th century; one from about 1910 to 1940 and the second from about 1976 to 1998. There has not been a generalized warming of the globe as one would expect from increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide. Surveys of scientists that fail to make these points as central issues are generally meaningless.
Many of those who create global climate models also ignore these points and are now trying to justify the failure of the models to predict the current plateau in global temperatures with ever imaginative explanations. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute used climate model simulations in 15 year periods to claim that the climate models are correct, except for natural variations (??). They concluded that there are no systematic errors in the models. To make matters worse the claim was summarized in Phys Org as:
Sceptics who still doubt anthropogenic climate change have now been stripped of one of their last-ditch arguments: It is true that there has been a warming hiatus and that the surface of the earth has warmed up much less rapidly since the turn of the millennium than all the relevant climate models had predicted. However, the gap between the calculated and measured warming is not due to systematic errors of the models, as the sceptics had suspected, but because there are always random fluctuations in the Earth’s climate. [emphasis added, from Matt Briggs]
Who claimed that there were no fluctuations in the Earth’s climate? Certainty, not most of the skeptics who have repeatedly pointed out that climate has been changing for hundreds of millions of years, long before humanity existed.
When analyzing the paper further, Nicholas Lewis (technical) and Andrew Montford (general) recognized the entire effort was another example of circular reasoning – an effort based on model outputs to verify models rather than rigorously comparing model output with physical observations of temperatures.
This affair exposes the poor quality of climate research being conducted and published by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and its following among government entities. Some have argued that under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), it is not the function of the IPCC to understand natural variation in climate change, but only the human influence. If so, then every report, every press release should boldly state that the report is addressing the issue of human cause of climate change and does not address the natural causes that have been on-going for hundreds of millions of years. Such a statement would help clarify the confusion in the public that