Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #175

The Week That Was: April 4, 2015 – Brought to You by www.SEPP.org Science and Environmental Policy Project

By Ken Haapala – Re-Blogged From http://www.WattsUpWithThat.com

On to Paris: To keep pledges made at meetings (multiple Conference of Parties (COP)) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), an international treaty agreed to in 1992 by the first president Bush and which went into force in 1994, 33 out of 195 countries submitted their pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (particularly carbon dioxide (CO2)). These are to be agreed upon at the December COP in Paris. These pledges are called Intended National Determined Contribution (INDC). The countries that submitted pledges by March 31 included those in the European Union, the US, Russia, and Mexico.

The Obama administration submitted a US intended national determined contribution, without Congressional approval. It pledged to reduce US emissions by 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2025, and to make best efforts to reduce by 28%. Mr Obama’s term in office, his last term, expires on January 20, 2017 – long before the pledge is accountable. It is unlikely that the current Senate would approve a binding agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28%. The time-gap between the pledge and accountability creates speculation as to the President’s future actions to avoid a need to seek Senate approval for a binding treaty.

Fanning speculation are comments by White House press secretary Josh Earnest, who said that politicians who are skeptical of climate change science are not qualified to judge the matter. According to an article in The Hill newspaper:

“These are individuals who — many of whom, at least, deny the fact that climate change even exists, so I’m not sure they would be in the best position to decide whether or not a climate-change agreement is one that is worth entering into,” Earnest told reporters Tuesday.

His comments were directed at lawmakers, such as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), who have all insisted that the international agreement the U.N. is working on is a treaty and cannot be enforced without Senate approval.

“Those lawmakers, along with most Republicans, also doubt the scientific consensus that human activity is significantly contributing to climate change.”

Of course, these statements grossly misrepresent the issue. The so-called consensus does not exist – it comes from highly manipulated surveys that should be retracted by the journals that published them. (The latest, by Cook et al., was discussed in the March 21 and March 28 TWTWs). Further, for the press secretary to state the individuals in question “deny the fact that climate change even exists” is false. For example, Senator Inhofe has clearly stated he believes that climate change exists.

The primary [issues] are the natural influences on climate. The Summary for Policymakers in recent reports by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), formed by UNFCCC, ignores the existence of climate change long before the existence of humanity. Reports by the US Climate Change Research Program demonstrate similar ignorance. A recent study of marine sediments off the coast of north China shows that climate change has been occurring for at least 1.4 billion years (TWTW, Mar 14, 2015)

Strangely, the claims of the press secretary did not produce a response, thus far, from many of the news organizations that, in the past, defended Congress against undue expansion of executive powers. See links under Censorship, On to Paris!, and http://unfccc.int/essential_background/items/6031.php


Censorship: The March 28, 2015 TWTW discussed Intellectual Freedom and Censorship and how 54 individuals, who described themselves as “members of the scientific community”, use the web site “The Natural History Museum.org” and objected to museums receiving funds from “those who profit from fossil fuels or fund lobby groups that misrepresent climate science.” The group includes James Hansen, Kevin Trenberth, and Michael Mann. A letter sent to museums 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.”

Several TWTW readers remarked on the identification of David Koch and found it is amusing to note the anti-David Koch group complains about his “tainted” money given to the Smithsonian. “David Koch bankrolled the “Hall of Human Origins”, which occupies a modest chunk of the first floor of the Natural History museum on Constitution Avenue. It is an excellent exhibit. It tells how human-like beings first appeared about 6 million years ago. Since it gives no comfort to ‘creationists,’ one would think these ‘members of the scientific community’ would be pleased. One would also think they’d be pleased with the many ‘Nova’ shows on PBS [Public Broadcasting System] that David Koch sponsors. But it seems that David Koch is one of those names you can bash with impunity, never fearing that he’ll take his money and go home, leaving others stranded to pay for things themselves.”

It is amusing to think that these “members of the scientific community” often label as “anti-science” those skeptical of the official IPCC view, expressed with great certainty, that humans are primarily responsible for global warming/climate change. Is the Koch exhibit anti-science?

Thanks to this effort, and similar ones, TWTW will now have a subheading titled Censorship and will endeavor to identify it under the concepts of Intellectual Freedom and Censorship as defined on the web site of the American Library Association. Of course, TWTW will emphasize inconsistencies between empirical science and government policies.


Quote of the Week: “Half a truth is often a great lie.”― Benjamin Franklin


Number of the Week: 16.2%




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.


Fear of Geology? Geologist Ian Plimer, who wrote heaven + earth: Global Warming: The Missing Science, was asked to write a less complex book suitable for students. In 2012, How to Get Expelled from School: A Guide to Climate Change for Pupils, Parents and Punters was published. In it, Plimer discusses the importance of geology and knowledge of climate is for oil and mineral geologists.

“Oil geology depends on knowing what sea level and climate were doing at the time of sediment disposition. Some 40 years ago an Esso [now Exxon] research geologist created graphical sea level curves (Vail Curves). These are still used as the benchmark for sea level changes. Coal deposits form close to the shoreline in cold climates and drill holes are used to determine the migration of the sea backwards and forwards across the land. Minerals geologists also determine ancient climate and sea levels, especially those exploring for heavy mineral sand deposits that formed in storms at maximum sea levels. Some of these mineral sand deposits occur hundreds of kilometers inland and over a hundred meters above the current sea level and hence knowledge of climate, sea levels and land level changes are required for successful exploration”


“Many other geologists chase rocks that have naturally sequestered carbon dioxide, as these too can contain valuable resources that we all use. Geologists are the only scientists who have practical use for past climates and sea levels. They must get it right and the only way to get it right is to understand climate and sea level changes. If they get it wrong, they are out of a job because there are no research grants to keep them alive.


“The story of the history of climate changes is preserved in marine and lake sediments, ice sheets and all rocks. For example, cores drilled though the ice sheets yield a record of polar temperatures and atmospheric composition ranging back to 120,000 years in Greenland and 800,000 years in Antarctica. Oceanic sediments preserve a record reaching back tens of millions of years and sedimentary rocks preserve records of billions of years of the Earth’s climate history. Fossils of corals, coral and algal reefs and plants all tell stories about past climate, as do stalagmites, tree rings, land shapes and soils. Throughout time, carbon dioxide has been emitted by natural processes and almost all of the world’s carbon dioxide that was ever in the atmosphere is now sequestered in rocks”. (location numbers 494 to 515 of 3411 in kindle)

The Vail Curves Plimer presents estimate sea levels over 500 million years and are course measurements. When using current sea levels as a base, they show a variation from roughly 100 meters below current sea levels to roughly 300 meters above current levels over the last 500 million years. Some geologists object to using Vail Curves because they are based on proprietary data. Yet, efforts to replicate them produce similar results. No doubt, some of these objecting individuals would object to the science of plate tectonics, which was initially based on the work of petroleum geologists.

No wonder The Natural History Museum.org group objects to funding from those who profited from fossil fuels. Their success depended upon knowledge of geology and climate history that goes far beyond the scope expressed by the IPCC and its adherents. After all, an innocent child may ask: Why did the climate change before there were humans?

How to Get Expelled From School – A guide to climate change for pupils, parents and punters [Kindle Edition] by Ian Plimer http://www.amazon.com/How-Get-Expelled-School-climate-ebook/dp/B00B1NNK02/ref=sr_1_6?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1428247289&sr=1-6&keywords=ian+plimer


25 Years: On March 29, 1990, Roy Spencer and John Christy announced a method of calculating atmospheric temperatures using data obtained by satellites. The data dates back to November 1978 and are the most comprehensive data of the earth’s temperatures, covering virtually all regions of the earth. Subsequently, the calculations have been independently verified by data from weather balloons. The reports of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville are archived to 2006. The data are publically available to scientists in the U.S. and abroad. There is no other data set that is comparable. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy and http://nsstc.uah.edu/climate/archives.html


On Thin Ice: Earlier, the US National Snow and Ice Data Center claimed that the Arctic sea ice had reached its maximum extent and was less than maximum extents ever observed by satellites. The claim was premature, at best. March 26 data place the current Arctic ice extend greater than 2005, 06, and 07 and slightly greater than 2011.

Susan Crockford reports that the sea ice is excellent for polar bears, which depend on it for feasting on seal pups that provide the bulk of their caloric intake for the year. See links under Changing Cryosphere – Land / Sea Ice


Nature Still Mann-Handled: On Climate Audit, Steve McIntyre points out three new, distinct statistical tricks in a paper co-authored by Michael Mann with lead author Stefan Rahmstorf, of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. The paper, published by Nature Climate Change, claimed the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) is slowing down. As discussed in the March 28 TWTW, The AMOC is a critical part of The Great Ocean Conveyor Belt and its slowing down was refuted in a press release by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). Mr. Mann is part of The Natural History Museum.org group that objects to museums receiving funds from those profited from fossil fuel industries (above). See links under Climategate Continued.


More Pauses? The earth’s temperatures have not risen as expected by the Climate Establishment and as forecasted by the climate models. Particularly, the forecasts in the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report (AR-4, 2007) are not valid. This “pause” or plateau in temperatures has resulted in many explanations, often invoking natural causes not presented in the IPCC reports.

Writing in the Global Warming Policy Forum, David Whitehouse brings up a second pause – the failure of the Arctic ice sheet to melt as many claimed it would. Perhaps, there are additional pauses, such as the failure of Antarctic ice sheets to contract as claimed and atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations to increase as claimed. See links under Changing Cryosphere – Land / Sea Ice


Direct Evidence? An article in Nature Climate Change claims it has direct evidence of a positive feedback in climate change – ocean warming will produce more carbon dioxide. Who doubts outgassing from warming oceans? The issue is the timeframes – why does cooling begin when CO2 concentrations are rising? Manipulating the data with statistical techniques which produce the desired result is not direct evidence. See links under Measurement Issues


Questioning the EPA: Members of the US Senate Committee on Environmental & Public Works: sent to US EPA Administrator questions concerning various topics that the Administrator has failed to answer satisfactorily in public hearings. For example, she could not answer a question if actual temperatures are increasing faster or slower than predicted [projected] by an average of climate models. Other topics include drought, hurricanes/cyclones, temperature data, and climate impact monitoring. The answers may be interesting.

This is different from members of Congress asking independent researchers about their funding. EPA is setting government policy with long reaching impacts based on its claimed knowledge of these issues. The Senate Committee is conducting responsible oversight of a government agency. See links under The Political Games Continue


Criticism and Tolerance: On Climate Etc., Judith Curry has a timely post on criticism, tolerance and changing your mind. The points made may be particularly useful when beginning to discuss issues in which there may be significant disagreement among several people, particularly if they do not know one another. See link under Seeking a Common Ground.


Number of the Week 16.2% U.S. crude production grew by 16.2% from 2013 to 2014.

“U.S. crude oil production (including lease condensate) increased during 2014 by 1.2 million barrels per day (bbl/d) to 8.7 million bbl/d, the largest volume increase since recordkeeping began in 1900. On a percentage basis, output in 2014 increased by 16.2%, the highest growth rate since 1940. Most of the increase during 2014 came from tight oil plays in North Dakota, Texas, and New Mexico where hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling were used to produce oil from shale formations.” – EIA

According to other reports, about one-half of total US oil and gas production comes from hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling of shale formations. No wonder the anti-fossil fuels groups so bitterly oppose hydraulic fracturing (fracking). These expanded activities take place on private or state-owned lands and not on land and waters controlled by the Federal government. See links under Energy Issues – US. Oil and Natural Gas – the Future or the Past?


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