Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #174

The Week That Was: March 28, 2015 – Brought to You by www.SEPP.org

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

Number of the Week: 6.2%


Intellectual Freedom and Censorship: On her web site, Donna Laframboise, discusses an open letter to museums signed by 54 individuals who described themselves as “members of the scientific community. “ The letter objects to museums receiving funds from “those who profit from fossil fuels or fund lobby groups that misrepresent climate science.” The letter specifically discusses David Koch, who “is a major donor, exhibit sponsor and trustee on the Board of Directors at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, and the American Museum of Natural History.” The letter asserts that “Mr. Koch also funds a large network of climate-change-denying organizations, spending over $67 million since 1997 to fund groups denying climate change science.”

Of course, who denies climate change that has been occurring for over a billion years and the $67 million is peanuts compared with the over $35 billion the US government has spent on climate science since 1993, which focuses only on the human influence, largely ignoring the natural influences on climate. By this spending, the US government has created biased science. Some of those who signed the letter, including James Hansen, Kevin Trenberth, and Michael Mann, have benefited from this biased science.

Rather than a point-by-point rebuttal of the many questionable claims presented on the web site “The Natural History Museum.org”, Ms. Laframboise brings up the concept of Intellectual Freedom as defined on the web site of the American Library Association. The section on Intellection Freedom and Censorship merits quoting:

“What Is Intellectual Freedom?

Intellectual freedom is the right of every individual to both seek and receive information from all points of view without restriction. It provides for free access to all expressions of ideas through which any and all sides of a question, cause or movement may be explored.


“Why Is Intellectual Freedom Important?

Intellectual freedom is the basis for our democratic system. We expect our people to be self-governors. But to do so responsibly, our citizenry must be well-informed. Libraries provide the ideas and information, in a variety of formats, to allow people to inform themselves.


“Intellectual freedom encompasses the freedom to hold, receive and disseminate ideas.


“What Is Censorship?

Censorship is the suppression of ideas and information that certain persons—individuals, groups or government officials—find objectionable or dangerous. It is no more complicated than someone saying, “Don’t let anyone read this book, or buy that magazine, or view that film, because I object to it!” Censors try to use the power of the state to impose their view of what is truthful and appropriate, or offensive and objectionable, on everyone else. Censors pressure public institutions, like libraries, to suppress and remove from public access information they judge inappropriate or dangerous, so that no one else has the chance to read or view the material and make up their own minds about it. The censor wants to prejudge materials for everyone.

“How Does Censorship Happen?

Censorship occurs when expressive materials, like books, magazines, films and videos, or works of art, are removed or kept from public access. Individuals and pressure groups identify materials to which they object. Sometimes they succeed in pressuring schools not to use them, libraries not to shelve them, book and video stores not to carry them, publishers not to publish them, or art galleries not to display them. Censorship also occurs when materials are restricted to particular audiences, based on their age or other characteristics.


“Who Attempts Censorship?

In most instances, a censor is a sincerely concerned individual who believes that censorship can improve society, protect children, and restore what the censor sees as lost moral values. But under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, each of us has the right to read, view, listen to, and disseminate constitutionally protected ideas, even if a censor finds those ideas offensive.


“What Is The Relationship Between Censorship And Intellectual Freedom?

In expressing their opinions and concerns, would-be censors are exercising the same rights librarians seek to protect when they confront censorship. In making their criticisms known, people who object to certain ideas are exercising the same rights as those who created and disseminated the material to which they object. Their rights to voice opinions and try to persuade others to adopt those opinions is protected only if the rights of persons to express ideas they despise are also protected. The rights of both sides must be protected, or neither will survive.”

Under the guise of concern for natural history, the members of “The Natural History Museum.org” are promoting censorship, the suppression of ideas and information that they find objectionable or dangerous.

The tactics by members of Congress to demand information on private funding of certain researchers is also a form of censorship. See links under Suppressing Scientific Inquiry.




SEPP is conducting its annual vote for the recipient of the coveted trophy, The Jackson, a lump of coal. Readers are asked to nominate and vote for who they think is most deserving, following these criteria:

· The nominee has advanced, or proposes to advance, significant expansion of governmental power, regulation, or control over the public or significant sections of the general economy.

· The nominee does so by declaring such measures are necessary to protect public health, welfare, or the environment.

· The nominee declares that physical science supports such measures.

· The physical science supporting the measures is flimsy at best, and possibly non-existent.

The three past recipients, Lisa Jackson, Barrack Obama, and John Kerry, are not candidates. Generally, the committee that makes the selection prefers a candidate with a national or international presence. The voting will close on May 1. Please send your nominee and a brief reason why the person is qualified for the honor to Ken@SEPP.org. Thank you.


Quote of the Week: “Here comes the [Green] orator with his flood of words and his drop of reason.”― Apologies to Benjamin Franklin


Nature Mann-Handled Again? Mr. Mann, who is engaged in the effort of censorship discussed above, is a co-author with Stefan Rahmstorf, of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, of a paper claiming that the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) is slowing down, perhaps due to the melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet. The paper was published in Nature Climate Change. As discussed by William Gray, and other skeptics of the concept that human emissions of carbon dioxide are the principal cause of global warming, now called climate change, the AMOC is a critical part of “The Great Ocean Conveyor Belt.” A slow down would have a significant global climate impact, such as a cooling of the northern Atlantic. The well-known Gulf Stream is, in effect, the beginning of the conveyor belt.

The issue is discussed by Anthony Watts, on WUWT, who also presents a NASA animation of the Great Ocean Conveyor Belt. The new paper is contradicted by a paper published last year by oceanographer H. Thomas Rossby, who states his team found no evidence that suggests that the Gulf Stream is slowing down. Perhaps prompted by the new claim, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) issued a press release stating that it found no significant slowing of the AMOC over the past 15 years.

The most devastating critique came from Steve McIntire, a co-author of the research that exposed Mann’s “Nature Trick” in the discredited “hockey-stick”, which depended on truncating (removing) data that refuted the hypothesis. McIntire points out that the new claim is based on proxy data, not measurements. These proxies include stripbark bristlecone chronologies, featured in the “hockey-stick.” [Stripbark trees are partially dead, the bark on part of the tree is gone exposing wood extending from a dead branch to a dead root.] McIntyre was amazed the study was published and concluded: “using ‘Mannian RegEM’ with the Mann et al 2008-9 network of 1209 “proxies”, one can probably “reconstruct” almost anything. Are you interested in “reconstructing” the medieval Dow Jones Index? Or medieval NFL attendance?” See links under Climategate Continued, Changing Seas, and Un-Science or Non-Science?


Eliminating Tall Tales from Fat Tails: On her web site, Climate Etc., Judith Curry discusses the issue of climate sensitivity, the temperature response of the climate to increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide. The fat tails are the significant error ranges on the high-end of possible temperature increases from enhanced CO2, usually from a doubling. These error ranges are not empirically derived, but are estimated, guessed, usually by the modelers. They may have little relation to the earth’s climate history.

It is these fat tails that give rise to claims of great damage from CO2, such as dramatic sea level rise, species extinction, and the government’s concept of the Social Cost of Carbon. Government agencies are busily putting a dollar value on this concept, with no empirical basis, no effort to validate the model used, and no regard for the value of enhanced CO2 for agriculture and for feeding humanity.

Curry observes that Russian CMIP-5 model is performing the best with HADCRUT 4 and Berkeley Earth surface temperature data and it “has high inertia from ocean heat capacities, low forcing from CO2 and less water for feedback.” Curry suggests that the justification for fat tails is being reduced. However, with a bureaucratic industry dependent on these tails, actual reduction is doubtful as long as governments continue to fund the human influences on climate and ignore the natural influences. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy.


Atmospheric Temperatures: SEPP favors the atmospheric temperature record compiled by the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), which is directed by John Christy. Based on satellite measurements, of which Christy was a co-developer, the record is published monthly and is 1) the most comprehensive available, 2) transparent 3) independently verified by radiosonde data from weather balloons, 4) not subject to local human influence, and 5) not manipulated frequently.

In the past, the record was criticized for failing to take into account orbital decay of satellites. Once this error became clear, the record was promptly, and publicly, corrected. Public acknowledgement and correction of errors is how science progresses.

This week, The Guardian newspaper accused UAH of underestimating global warming. As all too frequently, the newspaper was off-base. The scientific paper used to make the claim was focused on a possible under-estimate of the “hot-spot.” A warming over the tropics that is more intense than surface warming, whatever the cause, and which is falsely claimed to be the “human fingerprint.” The new paper claimed that if a certain correction is made to the UAH data, it is more in line with satellite data published by Remote Sensing Systems (RSS), NOAA (?), and more in line with the climate models. [NOAA is a funding agency of UAH.] TWTW will leave it to John Christy and / or Roy Spencer to respond to the technical criticism.

However, there are several important points here. First, unless there is some compelling reason to do so, there is no reason to bring observations in line with climate models, particularly since none of the models have been independently verified and validated. Of the many climate models, which one? The entire exercise is similar to a corporate financial officer preparing the annual corporate financial report to conform with the projections made by the chief executive officer a year or two earlier. Second, it may be that the surface temperature data at the tropics overestimates the actual warming of the tropics. If so, then adjusting the atmospheric observations covers up this failure. See links under Un-Science or Non-Science?


More on Cooking the Books: On his web site, Richard Tol has an effective critique on the Cook et al. paper falsely claiming that 97% of climate scientists agree that humans are responsible for global warming/climate change. This claim is used by members of Congress to justify investigations of private individuals and by the President for his expansion of control over energy and the economy.

Among the many points that Tol makes are that “the sample was padded with irrelevant papers. An article about TV coverage on global warming was taken as evidence for global warming. In fact, about three-quarters of the papers counted as endorsements had nothing to say about the subject matter.”

An abbreviated version of the critique was published in “The Australian”, prompting Jo Nova to write: “Don’t ask how bad a paper has to be to get retracted. Ask how bad it has to be to get published.”

An economist, Richard Tol was a lead author of the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC AR-5), Working Group II, Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. He withdrew, stating the AR-5 was too alarmist and did not provide for adaption. He also questions current calculations on the Social Costs of Carbon. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy


Changing Waters: Patrick Moore, one of the founders of Greenpeace, who has since left, gives four succinct reasons why we should not fear that enhanced CO2 will cause the so-called ocean acidification and it is not a threat to creatures in the oceans: 1) higher concentrations of CO2 in the past; 2) buffering from elements such as calcium and magnesium; 3) biology of mollusks allow them to survive in freshwater that is quite acidic and 4) adding CO2 to saltwater aquariums promotes plant and coral growth. See links under Acidic Waters.


Number of the Week: 6.2%. Based on 2013 data, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates the world total crude oil supply to be 90.1 million barrels per day (bbl/d). Of this, 56.5 million barrels per day (63%) traveled via seaborne trade. Of this maritime oil trade, 17.0 million bbl/d, 30%, traveled through the narrow Strait of Hormuz between Oman and Iran, listed as the world’s most important chokepoint. EIA estimated that 85% of this oil went to Asia, including Japan, India, South Korea, and China.

In addition, the EIA estimates the next three major chokepoints are the Strait of Malacca (15.2 million bbl/d, 27% of total seaborne trade, also to Asia), the Suez Canal with the nearby SUMED pipeline (4.6 million bbl/d, 8% of total seaborne trade) and Bab el-Mandeb Strait between Yemen on the Arabian Peninsula, and Djibouti and Eritrea in the Horn of Africa (3.5 million bbl/d, 6.2%).

Some oil and military analysts fear that the seizure of Yemen by the Houthis, Islamists hostile to developed countries, will directly disrupt the flow of oil through the Bab el-Mandeb Strait and may also lead to a general disruption of the flow of oil through the Strait of Hormuz and the Suez. The current surge in oil prices reflects this fear. See links under Energy Issues – Non-US.


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